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in a voluntary exile from his native country, where he cannot endure to live after being subjected to reproach. In this, likewise, the spirit of this extraordinary race is conspicuous: a man who goes into voluntary exile may if he pleases, after a stated period, return to his na. tive place; whereas the possibility of return is rigidly precluded to him who is banished for the degrading vice of theft. Although the Rajepoot chiefs, in their respective districts, afsume to themselves an exclusive and arbitrary right over the lives and property of their subjects, yet it is not considered by the natives as
a hardship, as their mild, conciliating sway · renders easy the condition of the peasantry.
Fugitives of all descriptions from the neighbouring countries are received without distinction; and, except in cases of theft and murder, are sure of protection and support. So high a sense do they entertain of the laws and rights of hospitality, that they not only refuse to deliver up the delinquents, but are even accustomed to assist in forwarding them through the country to the confines of the neighbouring state.
It does not appear that a custom so singular obtains in any other part of Hindooftan. In the management of their domestic concerns, the Rhatore Rajepoots are no less remarkable for their attention to the female part of the family.
A plurality of wives, though admitted by the laws of the country, is seldom practised, except among the princes and great men, who on these occasions are actuated by motives of policy and ambition. Among this tribe of Rajepoots, the mother of the eldest son is held in most respect.
Females, on the death of their husbands, often refign themselves to the flames with the most heroic fortitude.
This act is however voluntary. But, in the opinion of the Rajepoots themselves, those fe. males would be dishonoured in the estimation of their countrywomen who preferred dragging on a reproachful existence. They would be funned in fociety; and at the house of their father, or that of their father-in-law, generally be compelled to pass the remainder of their lives in solitary widowhood.
From the early period of fix years of age, all Rajepoot females are concealed from the fight and conversation of men, except their nearest relations. In the table of consanguinity on this occasion are included fathers, uncles, brothers, and cousins.
With these exceptions, a Rajepoot lady would consider her reputation as sullied by exposure to the fight of a man. To so high a pitch indeed do they carry their proud sense of honour in regard to the female character, that it not unfrequently terminates in a manner' most ferocious and lamentable.. . :
When an honourable Rajepoot, whose family is with him, finds himself surrounded by the enemy, and a force fo superior that the hope or possibility of escape is utterly excluded, he first enquires whether, if by surrender, he can secure the honour of his family. Should this be found impracticable, or even doubtful, he forms and immediately executes his desperate
project. Clothing himself in a yellow dress, which is the symbol of despair, he, in company with others of his nearest relations, repairs to the apartments of the women, when the whole of the females are involved in a promiscuous and indiscriminate slaughter; the women themselves, on this occasion, not unfrequently raising their hands against their own lives!
On the completion of this horrid deed, the furious Rajepoot, rushing out like a lion, bears down every thing before him: it is death alone that can satisfy him for the loss of his tenderest and dearest connections. In this instance alone will he strike a falling foe. The act which he has lately committed works him up to a state of absolute insanity. Despair gives him courage more than mortal; and if, by his enthusiastic and furious onset, he should chance to overcome the enemy, though ever so superior in point of numbers, when opposition is absolutely at an end, and his frame exhausted with fatigue, is on the point of yielding to nature, he disdains to survive the loss of his family, but terminates the awful scene by generously
is sword into his own bofom !
For these and other obstinate prejudices, the Rajepoots have been accused of cruelty ; but it must be considered, in extenuation of the act, that this resolution is founded on principle; it is imbibed in their infancy, and almost sucked in with their parent food; that it is justified by custom and precedent, and that a Rajepoot who should survive the dishonour of, his wife and family, would be treated by his brethren to the remainder of his life with contempt and never-ending reproach.
Although the circumstances above related do sometimes occur, it is by no means frequent, since the spirit of this people being known, it is not difficult to be avoided.
Throughout Hindoostan the sanctity of the haram is in general respected; and, except in cases of resistance, hostility is seldom carried to extremity; while on the contrary it not unfrequently happens that, by a previous stipulation between the contending parties, the females of either family are accustomed to alk and to receive the protection of their enemies.