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112 ) allotted ; but you will admire the principle upon wbich the laws of thefe new Christians in this case proceeds. It throws the crime of poverty into the scale, which instantly settles the balance.
Even when poverty constitutes the sole offence, nothing is more equitable than the punishments which proceed in regular gradation, and correspond in exact proportion to the degree in which the crime exists. For instance, within the maffy walls of this prison, whose iron gates open to receive the reeking murderer, the midnight thief, and all those miserable out casts of society, who, loft to every principle of shame, every feeling of humanity, have funk into all the brutality of vice; those guilty of the crime of poverty, are likewise immerfed. But think not that they are all equally wretched. No; those who can afford to defraud their creditors, are suffered by these wise legislators, to live in a degree of luxury. Those who can save enough from the wreck of former times, to pay for their accommodation, may still enjoy some comparative degree of comfort. But, it is those wretches who have loft their all, and are alike destitute of friends and fortune it is they who are doomed to suffer the bitterness of confinemeut, ia all its horrors.
It is true, that fome who follow the : old fyftem of Christianity, as it was taught by Jesus Christ and his Apoftles, by whom poverty is not considered as fo unpardonable à crime, have exerted their endeavours for relieving the sufferings of their fellow-creatures, who for small sums, are shut up in these dreary abodes of wretchedness. But notwithftanding their endeavours, notwithstanding the zealous efforts, the heart-touching remonftrances of one of those Chriftians of the old school, who devoted his life to the children of misfortune* ; ftill in these prisons, many thousands of the inhabitants of this land of freedom, are left to pine out a miserable existence, alike useless to themselves and to society. Many, at whose birth the voice of congratulation has been raised, and over whose infant forms the tears of parental tenderness have been fondly fhed, are here suffered to languilh, unnoticed and unknown
As for those wretches who have committed such offences against fociety, as all nations upon earth have deemed cri. minal, they are here held in fuch juft
* We suppose the Rajah points at the benevo.lent exertions of Mr. Howard.
abhorrence, that it is not thought fufficient to visit their fins with mere temporal. punishment, but every possible pains is taken to preserve them in such a state of wickedness, as may give them every poffible chance of being, according to the faith of the lawgivers, miserable to all eternity.
This, you may, perhaps, esteem rather an unjustifiable degree of severity.-But consider, O benevolent Maandaara, that by the old Christian Shafter, none are excluded from the hopes of mercy, who seek it by fincere repentance. Now nothing is more probable, than that many of those miserable beings, who have been unwittingly swept into the torrent of vice, might, when they find themselves shipwrecked on its' barren fhores, gladly listen to the voice that would conduct them to the path of peace and virtue. If kept in a state of separation from the bad, and favoured with means of instruction from the good, this would, no doubt, often be the case. But then consider what might be the consequence : perhaps, fome of these vile felons might come to have a higher feat in Heaven, than fame of the proud, and jealous guardians of the laws, which had condemned them upon earth. The idea is not to be endured with patience! and to prevent
any possibility of its being realized, the poor trembling wretch, new to vice, and whose mind is not yet hardened in iniquity, no sooner commits (or is said to have committed) lhe most trifling offence, that stands within the cognisance of the law, than, hurled into the society of thofe veterans in sin, of whose repentance there is little reason to be afraid, the unfortunate offender is gradually trained to an equal degree of depravity.
Thus, the door of mercy is for ever shut! the returning path io virtue is barricaded, and fo filled up by the briers and the thorns, which these new Christians have thrown in the way, that it becomes quite invisible; and left reflection should point it out, intoxicating liquors are allowed in all prisons to be distributed in fufficient quantities, to prevent the most distant apprehensions of such an event. Thus do these enlightened people, exert their endeavours to fill the regions of Nareyka !!
As for the philosopher, who, I need not tell you, is a Christian, according to the old Gospel, he deprecates the whole system, and was so much shocked at the sight of the young vi&tims, who are here devoted to vice, in order that they may be afterwards immolated on the altars of justice; that no cordial less powerful
than the sight of the happiness he had bimself created, would have had efficacy to restore his mind to any degree of composure.
Before I conclude this epistle, I must entreat you, to send for the good and pious Bramin Sheermaal ;-tell him, that my heart reproaches me, for the injustice I was guilty of towards him: I implore his pardon, for the incredulity with which I regarded his account of the conduct of Christians.-Experience has now taught me to acknowledge, that his words were dictated by truth, and his observations emanated from wisdom.
All that I have written, thou wilt not, perhaps, think it proper to read to Zamarcanda ; many parts of it, she certainly could not understand ; but, I request, thou wouldst assure her, that the love of her brother is undiminished—I embrace my son—and implore upon him, the blesfing of all the benignant Dewtahs !-May the fortunes of Maandaara, be established for ever! -What can I say more.