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118 - - 25, from the top, after present insert ito
FOR APRIL, 1812,
Art. I. Hindu Infanticide. An Account of the Measures adopted for
Suppressing the Practice of the Systematic Murder, by their Parents, of Female Infants; with incidental Remarks on other Customs peculiar to the Natives of India. Edited with Notes and Illustrations, by Edward
Moor, F. R. S. 4to. pp. 330. price 11. 11s. 6d. Johnson and Co. 1811. SUPERSTITION is one of those agents, at the operations
of which we have in a great measure ceased to wonder, as we naturally do after we have come to attribute to any agent an indefinite power. Such a power we have insensibly learnt to recognize as possessed by superstition, while beholding the continually widening display of its effects in all times and countries. Nor does any examination of the essential nature of superstition remove the impression thus received from viewing its effects, by discovering any certain principles of limitation to its power. Our settled conviction, therefore, concerning it is, that there is no possible absurdity or depravity of which it is incapable. We have seen that the destructive sentiment by which it acts is so variously applicable, that it can operate on every part of the whole moral system of this world ; can dissolve all cements, disturb all harmonies, reverse all relations, and in short confound all order: insomuch that there is no crime which it may not sanction and even enjoin--no notion too futile or too monstrous for it to proclaim as a solemn truth,--and scarcely any portion of dead or living matter which it may not denominate a deity, and actually cause to be adored.
It is not now, therefore, any matter of surprize, when we find, among the results of any recent inquiry into the state of a distant heathen nation, evidence of the existence among them, in former or even the present times, of the practice of human sacrifice; whether the victims are the captives taken in war, or unoffending mature individuals of their own people, or
some of their own infant offspring. It was nothing strange, even after all we had been told of the gentle virtues of the people of India, to hear that they would sometimes throw their children to the alligators in the Ganges, as a sacrifice to the goddess of that river. For keeping a great national goddess, this would by no means be counted an extravagant expense; and seldom perhaps have the favourite deities of any mythology cost less.
A very long extract, inserted in the work before us, from Bryant's Analysis, is enough to shew that, wherever the demon crew of gods and goddesses have obtained an esta-, blishment, that is, all over the world, they have demanded to be adored in sanctuaries consecrated by the blood of some that have even been their adorers, and that in many places they exacied as victims, by a marked choice, the persons that might be supposed the dearest to the sacrificers; as if they would take hostages for the perpetual and still more prostrato submission of their nations of slaves. It is really most striking to consider the terms of compact consented to with deities of their own creation, or accepted from panderionium, by a race that would universally renounce, as too hard, the service of the supreme and be. neficent Governor of the world. It is worth while to transcribe a few sentences fron different parts of Bryant's comprehensive historical view of the subject.
• I have before taken' notice that the Egyptians of old brought no vic. tims to their temples, ñor shed any blood at their altars ; but human victims 6 and the blood of men must be here excepted, which at one period they
most certainly offered to their gods. The Cretaas had the same custom ; . and adhered to it a much longer time. The natives of Arabia did the
The people of Dumah, in particular, sacrificed every year a child. 6 and buried it under an altar, which they made use of instead of an idol, «The Persians buried people alive. Amestris, the wife of Xerxes, entombed
twelve persons quick under ground for the good of her soul.' The Pe• lasgi, in a time of scarcity, vowed the tenth of all that should be born to
them, for a sacrifice in order to procure plenty,' • In the consulate of • Æmilius Paulus and Terentius Varro, two Gauls, a 'man and a woman, and two in like manner of Greece, were buried alive at Rome, in the Ox
market, where was a place under ground walled round to receive them, «which had before been made use of for such cruel purposes. The sacrifice was frequently practised there.' - The Gauls and Germáns were so de * voted to this shocking custom, that no business of any moment was transacted among them without being prefaced with the blood of men. They were offered up to various gods, but particularly to Hesus, Taranis, Thau<tates.' The altars of these gods were far removed from the common re. 6 sort of men; being generally situated in the depth of woods, that the
gloom might add to the horror of the operation, and give a reverence to • the place and the proceeding. These practices prevailed among all the
people of the north, of whatever denomination. The Massagetæ, the Scy* thians, the Getes, the Sarmatians, all the various pations upon the Baltic