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Besides four queens, the king of Birmah has thirty wives, and five hundred other women at his disposal. The emperor of Turkey swells his harem, usually, with more than a thousand wives,-the sultan Achmet I. is said to have had three thousand. The king of Ashantee has three thousand three hundred and thirty-three,-a mystical number, on the integrity of which the prosperity of his kingdom is supposed to depend. And the king of Yarriba boasted to Capt. Clapperton, that his wives, linked hand in hand, would reach entirely across his kingdom.
Not only kings, but nobles, and men of wealth and station, and indeed men of all c.asses, who have the ability to sustain a plurality of wives, are eager to possess them, -not as objects of affection, but as honorable appendages to their establishments, or as ministering to their pride and sensuality. Love is not known
"where pleasure is adored, That ruling goddess, with a zoneless waist And wandering eyes, still leaning on the arm
Of novelty." but its place is supplied by envy, and rancor, and hate, bursting forth, often, in words of wrath and deeds of cruelty, and the wanton murder of the innocent. Says Lady Montague, during her residence in Constantinople, "The body of a young woman of surpassing beauty was found one morning near my house. She had received two wounds, one in her side, and the other in her breast, and was not quite cold. Many came to admire her beauty; but no one could tell who she was,-no woman's face being known out of her family. She was buried privately, and little inquiry made for the wretch who had imbrued his hands in her blood." The Pacha of Acre, in Palestine, a few years since, put to death seven of his wives, at one time, with his own hands. And even where cruelties like these are not perpetrated, the wife is kept a prisoner in the house of her lord, and her face is never seen beyond it. She is thus entirely in the irresponsible power of her husband, nor is one earthly ear but his. open to the tale of her wrongs, how terrible soever they may be. That she endures such wrongs, is no more to be questioned than the existence of caprice in man's proud heart, or of contempt for the whole sex, which he regards as infinitely inferior to his own.
The Pagan or Mahometan wife is liable to divorce, and consequent poverty and shame, at any moment when her husband wills it. For one cause, and only one, Christianity permits the disruption of the conjugal tie. And it is this inviolability of the
relation that operates so kindly in the restraint of unseemly passions, and in perpetuating
“ Domestic happiness, the only bliss
Of Paradise that has survived the fall." But false religions allow to man unbounded license. Might and right, in their vocabulary, are but synonymous terms; and woman (dishonored without her own fault) is, at her husband's pleasure, turned an outcast from her home. Let the Arab's wife be taken sick, and forth with she is returned to her parents with the message, “I paid for a healthy woman, and cannot afford the support of a sickly one." Let the Siberian become dissatisfied with his wife, for any cause, and he has but to tear her cap from her head, and the marriage contract is dissolved. Let the husband of Sumatra but break a bamboo, in the presence of his wife and their relatives, and the divorce is effected. Or, let the Greenlander leave his home in apparent anger, and not return for a few days; the wife understands his meaning, picks up her clothes, and returns to her friends. Or let the South Sea Islander but speak the word, and the relation is dissolved, though no dislike of the wife to the husband can produce a separation without his consent. But a divorce is ruin to the female,-it dooms her irrevocably to scorn and universal contempt, and (with scarcely less certainty) to a life of vice and infamy.
But the degradation of woman under the fell influence of false religions is not yet fully seen. She is her husband's slave, and with unquestioning servility, must yield to his behest, on penalty of torture, separation, or death. Nor is this a mere accident of her condition. The religion of her country decrees it,-the sacred books demand it. The Koran, and the Hindu Shasters, whose doctrines sway the mind, and determine the practice, of more than two hundred millions of the human family, make woman infinitely man's inferior,--the mere pander to his passions, --the abject drudge, owing him unconditional submission. Says the Shaster of the Hindu, — "The supreme duty of a wife, is, to obey the mandate of her husband. Let the wife who wishes to perform sacred ablution, wash the feet of her lord, and drink the water, for the husband is to the wife greater than Vishnoo. If a man goes on a journey his wife shall not divert herself by play, nor shall see any public show, nor shall laugh, nor shall dress herself in jewels and fine clothes, nor shall see dancing, nor hear music, nor shall sit at the window, nor shall ride out, nor shall behold anything choice and rare, but shall farten well the house door. and remain private, and shall not eat anv dainty food, and
shall not blacken her eyes with powder, and shall not view her face in a mirror,-she shall never exercise herself in any such agreeable employment during the absence of her husband." Again, "A woman shall never go out of the house without the consent of her husband, and shall act according to the orders of her husband, and shall not eat until she has served him,"— though, “if it be physic, she may take it before he eat.”
Not only in Hindustan, but in almost every unevangelized country, the wife is obliged to stand and wait upon her husband while he eats, and to be content with such food as is veft after his wants are satisfied. In the Society Islands, while Paganism reigned, women were not only thus compelled to wait upon their husband's table, but were not allowed, on pain of death, to eat at all of those kinds of food which were most highly esteemed. The cocoa-nut, the plantain, the fowl, the turtle, the swine, the shark, and various kinds of fish, were tabued to them. Nor were they allowed to eat in the same house with the men, nor to cook their food at the same fire, nor to put it into the same vessels. The transgression of these rules involved immediate drowning or strangulation. “The females of Raratonga,” (says the Rev. Mr. Williams,) were denied those kinds of food reserved for the men and the gods,-compelled to eat their scanty meals by themselves, and forbidden to dwell under the same roof with their tyrannical masters."
Till Riho Riho became ruler of the Sandwich Islands, similar customs prevailed there. About the time when he caused the idols to be destroyed, a dinner party was made, to which the principal chiefs and other persons of distinction were invited. When the company were seated around the table spread in an open bower, the king took his seat between two of his queens,-presented them with some of the forbidden food, and ate from the same dish with them. The whole company were astonished at such an innovation on ancient usages; so great, indeed, was the excitement produced, that it threatened a revolution in the government. The authority of the monarch, however, sustaired by the incipient influences of Christianity, prevailed.
In 1787, the emperor of China issued the following decree . “All persons of the female sex, of whatever quality or condition, are forbidden, upon any pretext whatever, to enter a temple or quit their houses, except in cases of absolute necessity. Fathers, husbands, brothers, sons or relatives, are commanded to keep them at home, upon pain of being themselves severely punished. After this, any woman who shall enter a temple shall be