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the lowest for the most trifling fine. A Brahmin only suffers the loss of his hair, and like the clergy of England under papal protection, cannot be put to death for any crime whatever. But to the wife of the Brahmin the laws are not so lenient; a severe disgrace is inflicted upon her if her crime be committed with the higher caste; and if with the lower, it is followed by the loss of her hair, a nauseous unction, and procession through the city on an ass, and then an ejection from it on the north side; or, as some writers affirm, she is delivered to be devoured by the dogs. These several punishments have justly been observed to be directed less by the moral turpitude of the crime than by the dignity of the several castes, and by that revenge which so naturally results from jealousy, in a climate where animal love is the predominant passion.
In China, Adultery is stated by some writers not to be a capital crime. Others, again, affirm that it is so regarded both at Java and in China; and that, at the capital city, Pekin, the dowries, or jointures, of convicted adulteresses, are bestowed on the hospitals and female orphans; and at Petane, a province adjoining to China, the more noble
criminals have the option of either the bowstring or the poignard, as the mode of punishment which awaits their guilt. In some parts of the empire this phlegmatic people sell an adulteress for a slave.
It is said that a similar practice of borrowing and lending wives prevails in China as it did once in Sparta; and that fond parents will even make a stipulation with their daughters' husbands to allow them the indulgence of a gallant; but, by the more refined, this custom is held in the abhorrence it deserves.
Sir John Chardin, in his Travels, notices the view which the Mingrelians took of this subject. Adultery," he says, " is punished with the forfeiture of a hog, which is usually eaten in good friendship between the gallant, the adulteress, and the cuckold."
If the practices in the East were anomalies in legislation, these are certainly equally so in morals. But such lax notions are not to be wondered at, when he further tells us, that" as to their education, it is the most obscure imaginable, and their notion of marriage nothing but a contract of bargain and sale."*
An equal laxity prevails generally among
* Travels, first part, page 85.
the nations last alluded to, on the subject of Divorce; and this had better be disposed of before we remark on the enactments and customs of Great Britain.
In Mingrelia, their law of Divorce is very wide. "If any one," says Chardin, "have married a barren woman, or of an ill disposition, or ugly humour, they hold it not only lawful, but requisite to divorce her, inasmuch as it was no contract, no match, of God's making !"*
The Ethiopians allowed of great liberty in Divorce. It was very common among them, till the Missionaries taught them better.
The Mahometans have equally loose notions on the subject of Divorce. Their religion holds it to be lawful, whatever the occasion be; and it is sufficient if one party dislikes another, and that they resolve to unmarry themselves. The act of separation is usually past before a judge or a churchman, and called Talaac, or a Bill of Divorce.†
* Travels, first part, page 102.
+ Pitt's Account of the Mahometans, page 334. He witnessed many Divorces and consequent re-marriages.
This leaves the parties at liberty to marry again. On this dissolution of marriage the man is obliged to return to the woman her dowry, if it be he that sues out the Divorce; if not, she loses it. A liberty of renewal of the marriage is also granted; and this dissolution and renewal are tolerated three times, but not more.* But this is sufficient to show, that the charge of a wife, with them, is little more than the charge of a maid-servant.
This privilege, in Persia, is rarely made use of; but the abuses it holds out are sufficiently obvious. True, the husband must return the portion if he sue out the Divorce; but it does not require much ingenuity to perceive that he could easily adopt such a treatment of his wife as would compel her to that measure; in which case he retained it; and the secrecy with which the conjugal intercourse is carried on in those countries, would be a complete bar to all inquiry.
In China, Le Comte states, that no Divorce to the husband is allowed but for Adultery, and a few other causes, which, he says, rarely
* This separation among the Persians must be in the presence of the Casi, or Cheit Lesloon, (Doctor of Law.) Tavernier Trav. book 5. cap. 18. p.
occur. In those cases the husbands sell their wives to any one who will become a purchaser, and buy others.
The infrequency of their Divorces is perhaps to be traced to the permission of concubinage, particularly when among the causes of Divorce tolerated by them is found enumerated one which, in christian countries, would not be heard of; viz. the irksomeness of the married state. The account of Le Comte does not seem easily reconcileable with this last statement; but the former is speaking of the provisions of the law, while the latter has reference to the habits of the people.
It is certain that the great Chinese Lawgiver, Confucius, put away his wife on this ground. In his " Life," it is stated, that he was content with her as long as they were together; that he never kept any concubines as the custom of his country allowed, because he thought it contrary to the law of nature; but that, after a time, he divorced his wife for no other reason than that he might be free from all incumbrances and connexions, and be at liberty to propagate his philosophy throughout the empire.*
* Life of Confucius, p. 28.