demned to death in countries whither they trade, whom they often ransom at low rates, and sometimes obtain them gratis. They are employed in perpetual labour, and are ever chained. Their natives are treated much more severely than others, being considered as more profligate than the rest; and, since the advantages of so excellent an education were insufficient, they are judged worthy of harder usage.

Another kind of slaves, are the poor of neighbouring countries, who offer spontaneously to serve them. They treat ' these better ; and use them in every respect as well as their own countrymen, except that they impose more labour upon them, which is no hardship to those who have been accustomed to it. And if any of them desire to return to their own country (which indeed seldom happeneth) they neither force them to stay nor send them away emptyhanded.

I have already related to you with what care they look after their sick, so that nothing is left undone which may contribute either to their health or ease. And as for those who are afflicted with incurable disorders, they use all possible means of cherishing them, and of making their lives as comfortable as possible; they visit them often, and take great pains to make their time pass easily. But if any have torturing, lingering pain, without hope of recovery or ease, the priests and magistrates repair to them and exhort them, since they are unable to proceed with the business of life, are become a burden to themselves and all about them, and have in reality outlived themselves, they should no longer cherish a rooted disease, but choose to die since they cannot live but in great misery; being persuaded, if they thus deliver themselves from torture, or allow others to do it, they shall be happy after death. Since they forfeit none of the pleasures, but only the troubles of life by this, they think they not only act reasonably, but consistently with religion; for they follow the advice of their priests, the expounders of God's will. 4

Those who are wrought upon by these persuasions, either starve themselves or take laudanum. But no one is compelled to end his life thus ; and if they cannot be persuaded to it, the former care and attendance on them is continued. And though they esteem a voluntary death, when chosen on such authority, to be very honourable, on the contrary, if any one commit suicide without the concurrence of the priests and senate, they honour not the body with a decent funeral, but throw it into a ditch.

Their women are not allowed to marry before eighteen, and their men not before twenty-two. If any of them be guilty of unlawful intercourse before marriage, they are severely punished, and they are not allowed to marry unless they can obtain an especial warrant from the prince. Such disorderly conduct also bringeth a severe reproach on the master and mistress of the family in which it happened ; for it is concluded that they have been negligent in their

duty. Their reason for punishing this so severely is, be cause they think, were they not strictly restrained from all vagrant appetites, very few would engage in a state, in which they hazard the peace of their whole lives by being tied to one person, and are obliged to endure all the inconveniencies with which that state is accompanied.

In matching, they adopt a plan which appears to us very extravagant, yet is constantly observed among them and accounted very wise. Before marriage, a grave matron presenteth the bride (be she virgin or widow) naked, to the bridegroom ; and after that, soine grave man presenteth the bridegroom naked to the bride. We laughed at this, and condemned it as very indecent. They, on the other hand, wondered at the folly of mankind in all other countries; who, if they buy but an inferior horse, examine him all over and take off his trappings ; yet a wife, on whom dependeth the happiness of the remainder of life, they take upon trust, regarding only her face, and leaving the rest of her body covered, where contagious and loathsome disorders may lie concealed. All men are not so wise as to choose a woman only for her good qualities; and even the wise consider the body as adding not a little to the mind. It is certain the clothes may conceal some deformity which may alienate a man from his wife when it is too late to part with her. If such a thing be discovered after marriage, he hath no remedy but patience. They there, fore think it reasonable, that good care should be taken to guard against such mischievous deception... .. 'l here was the inore reason for this regulation among them, because they are the only people of those parts who allow not polygamy or divorce, except in case of adultery or insufferable perverseness. In these cases the senate dissolveth the marriage, and granteth the injured leave to marry again; but the guilty are made infamous and never allowed the privilege of a second marriage. No one is suffered to put away his wife against her inclination, on account of any misfortune which may have befallen her person. They esteem it the height of cruelty and treachery to abandon either of the married pair, when they most need the tenderness of their partner ; especially in the case of old age, which bringeth many diseases with it, and is itself a disease. But it often happens, that, when a married pair do not agree, they separate by mutual consent, and find others with whom they hope to live more happily. Yet this is not done without leave from the senate, which never alloweth a divorce without a strict inquiry, by the senators and their wives, into the grounds on which it is desired. Even when they are satisfied as to the reasons of it, the matter proceedeth but slowly, for they are persuaded that a too ready permission of new marriages, would greatly impair the kind intercourse of the married.

* They severely punish those who defile the marriage-bed. If both the offenders be married, they are divorced, and the injured may intermarry, or with whom else they please ; but the adulterer and adultress are condemned to slavery. Yet if the injured cannot conquer the love of the offender,

Vol. II.


they may still live together, the partner following to the labour to which the slave is condemned ; and sometimes the repentance of the condemned, and the unaltered kindness of the injured, have prevailed with the prince to take off the sentence. But who relapse after they are once pardoned, are punished with death.

Their law.determineth not the punishment of other crimes, it being left to the senate to fix it according to the circumstances of the case. Husbands are allowed to correct their wives, and parents their children, unless the offence be so great that public punishment is thought necessary for the sake of example. Slavery is generally the punishment, even of the greatest crimes ; for it is no less terrible to the criminals than death, and they deem the preservation of them in servitude to be more for the interest of the state than killing them. Their labour is more beneficial to the public than their death could be; and the sight of their misery is a more lasting terror to others, than that of their death,

If their slaves will not bear their yoke nor submit to the labour prescribed them, but rebel, they are treated as wild beasts, not to be kept in order by a prison or chains; and are at last put to death. But those who bear their punishment patiently, and appear to be more troubled by their crimes than their sufferings, are not without hope that in the end, either the prince by his prerogative, or the people

« VorigeDoorgaan »