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ON THE PRIMEVAL STATE OF MAN.
NEVER by primeval man, were violated the rights of hospitality ; never, in his ipnocent bosom, arose the murderous meditation; never, against the life of his guests, his friends, or his benefactors, did he uplift the butcher-axe. Sufficient were the fruits of the earth for his subsistence; and, satisfied with the milk of her maternal bosom, he sought not, like a preverse child, to spill the blood of nature. Such were the feasts of primeval innocence, such the felicity of the golden age. Long since, alas! are those happy days elapsed. That they ever did exist, is a doubt with the depravity of the present day; apd so unlike are they to our actual state of misery, that the story of primal bliss is numbered with the dreams of visionary bards. That such a state did exist, the concord. ing voice of various tradition offers a convincing proof; and the lust of knowledge, is the fatal cause to which the indigenous tale of every country, attri. butes the loss of Paradise, and the fall of man. [The felicity of the golden age is still, at certain intervals, celebrated in the East Indies, at the temples of Jaggernat and Mamoon. During those seasons of festivity the several casts mix together indiscrim. inately, in commemoration of the perfect equality that prevailed among mankind in the age of innocence.
The merciful Hindoo makes humanity to animals apart of his religious duties. No nation, equally un
merous, exists, which acts with equal propriety and justice. The generous and enlightened Hindoo, dif. fues over every order of life his affections; beholds, in every creature, a kinsman; rejoices in the welfare of every animal, and compassionates his pains; for he is convinced, that the essence of all creatures is the same, and that one eternal First Cause is the Fa. ther of all. Hence the merciful Hindostan is solici. tous to save every species of animal, while the cruel vanity and exquisite voraciousness of other nations are ingenious to discover in the bulk, or taste, or smell, or beauty of every creature, a cause of death, an incentive to murder. The religion of the Hindoos is the most extensive and ancient of all religions now existing, a religion of the most polished, improved, and populous of the eastern nations. The accounts we have of it, in its present state of declension, are such as engage our esteem and reverence, tho' conveyed to us through very polluted channels. The followers of Brama are, for the most part, meek and patient sufferers under savage and bigoted Mahome. tans; who, in their turn, are oppressed by cruel, tho'. not bigoted Christians : so that our accounts of the Hindoos 'come from plunderers, who receive them from those whom they immediately oppress. It there. ?? fore requires great precision, to determine what de. 'a gree of credit ought to be given to informations thus derived. We may be well assured, that no misrepresentation takes place in favour of the ancient and oppressed followers of Brama.
Sir William Temple, in his Essay on Learning, says that “Their moral philosophy consisted chiefly in preventing all diseases or distempers of the body, from which they esteemed the perturbation of mind in a great measure to arise; then in composing the
mind, and exempting it from all anxious cares; es. teeming the troublesome and solicitous thoughts about past and future, to be like so many dreams, and no more to be regarded. They despised both life and death, pleasure and pain, or at least thought them perfectly indifferent. Their justice was exact and exemplary; their temperance so great, that they liv. ed on rice and herbs, and upon pothing that had sen. sitive life. If they fell sick, they counted it such a mark of intemperance, that they would frequently die out of shame and sullenness; but many lived a hundred and fifty, and some two hundred years.”
It appears from the Mosaic records, that for more than 1600 years, even till after the deluge, mankind lived on vegetable food only; they exercised a gentle dominion over the brute creation, and did not use their flesh for food. They had indeed a prescribed regimen. “Every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree, yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”—Genesis i, 29. That nothing but vegetable food was eaten before the flood, appears from the command to Noah, relating to provisions to be laid up in the ark. "And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them. Gen. vi. 21. The ancient Greeks lived entirely on the fruits of the earth.See Porphyrius de Abstinen. tia, book 4, par. 2. The ancient Syrians abstained from every species of animal food.-See ibid. b. 4, 9, par, 15. By the laws of Triptolemus, the Athenians were strictly commanded to abstain from all living creatures. — See Porphyr. Even so late as the days of Draco, the Attic oblations consisted only of the fruits of the earth.-See Potter's Antiquities of Greece, vol. i. p. 188