Suttee Tombs—Insalubrity of deserted Fortresses.
On the 3rd we came to Bahrol, where I had encamped with Lord William Bentinck on the last day of December, 1832, when the quicksilver in the thermometer at sunrise, outside our tents, was down to twenty-six degrees of Fahrenheit’s thermometer. The village stands upon a gentle swelling hill of decomposed basalt, and is surrounded by hills of the same formation. The Dasan river flows close under the village, and has two beautiful reaches, one above, the other below, separated by the dyke of basalt, over which lies the ford of the river.
There are beautiful reaches of the kind in all the rivers in this part of India, and they are almost everywhere formed in the same manner. At Bahrol there is a very unusual number of tombs built over the ashes of women who have burnt themselves with the remains of their husbands. Upon each tomb stands erect a tablet of freestone, with the sun, the new moon, and a rose engraved upon it in bas-relief in one field; and the man and woman, hand in hand, in the other. On one stone of this kind I saw a third field below these two, with the figure of a horse in bas-relief, and I asked one of the gentlemen farmers, who was riding with me, what it meant. He told me that he thought it indicated that the woman rode on horseback to bathe before she ascended the pile. I asked him whether he thought the measure prohibiting the practice of burning good or bad.
‘It is’, said he, ’in some respects good, and in others bad. Widows cannot marry among us, and those who had no prospect of a comfortable provision among their husband’s relations, or who dreaded the possibility of going astray, and thereby sinking into contempt and misery, were enabled in this way to relieve their minds, and follow their husbands, under the full assurance of being happily united to them in the next world.’
When I passed this place on horseback with Lord William Bentinck, he asked me what these tombs were, for he had never seen any of the kind before. When I told him what they were, he said not a word; but he must have felt a proud consciousness of the debt of gratitude which India owes to the statesman who had the courage to put a stop to this great evil, in spite of all the fearful obstacles which bigotry and prejudice opposed to the measure. The seven European functionaries