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ETAN

30 SEP. 1931

BRARY

TO

THE AUTHOR OF GEBIR,

WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR,

THIS POEM IS INSCRIBED,

BY

ROBERT SOUTHEY.

PREFACE.

In the religion of the Hindoos, which of all false religions is the most monstrous in its fables, and the most fatal in its effects, there is one remarkable peculiarity. Prayers, penances, and sacrifices, are supposed to possess an inherent and actual value, in no degree depending upon the disposition or motive of the person who performs them. They are drafts upon Heaven, for which the Gods cannot refuse payment. The worst men, bent upon the worst designs, have in this manner obtained power which has made them formidable to the Supreme Deities themselves, and rendered an Avatar, or Incarnation of Veeshnoo the Preserver, necessary. This belief is the foundation of the following Poem. The story is original; but, in all its parts, consistent with the superstition upon which it is built ; and however startling the fictions may appear, they might almost be called credible when compared with the genuine tales of Hindoo mythology,

No figures can be imagined more anti-picturesque, and less poetical, than the mythological personages of the Bramins. This deformity was easily kept out of sight:-their hundred hands are but a clumsy personification of power ; their numerous heads only a gross image of divinity, “ whose countenance," as the Bhagvat-Geeta expresses it, “ is turned on every side.” To the other

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