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SANSEEAS. (195) THE wandering tribes of India form a very remarkable feature of its population, and among them are found professors of normal hereditary crime in every possible shape, from the remorseless Thug and Dacoit to the cheats, pickpockets, and petty thieves who follow their calling in every bazar or fair of the country. There may be criminals in other classes of respectable and settled habits; the love of crime may tempt many to indulge in it; acts of crime may be committed without much premeditation, from corruption by evil company, or from actual want; but the crime ends with the person who commits it, it is not perpetuated by his class, nor does it descend to his children. The wandering classes of India, however, show a complete reversion of this rule. They have been vagrants from the earliest periods of Indian history. They may have accompanied Aryan immigrants or invaders, or they may have risen out of aboriginal tribes; but whatever their origin, they have not altered in any respect, and continue to prey upon its population as they have ever done, and will continue to do as long as they are in existence, unless they are forcibly restrained by our Government, and converted, as the Thugs have been, into useful members of society. Among these tribes the Sanseeas occupy a place of pre-eminent notoriety. They are neither Hindoos nor Mahomedans in reality, but profess to be Hindoos, and do not practise circumcision, by which rite alone they could become Mahomedans. They are essentially outcasts, admitted to no other caste fellowship, ministered to by no priests, without any ostensible calling or profession, totally ignorant of everything but their hereditary crime, and with no settled place of residence whatever; they wander as they please over the land, assuming any disguise they may need, and for ever preying upon its people. When they are not engaged in acts of crime they are beggars, assuming various religious forms, or affecting the most abject poverty. Their women and children have the true whine of the professional mendicant as they frequent thronged bazars, receiving charity, and stealing what they can. They sell mock baubles in some instances, but only
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