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been, probably, attached to buildings existing there when Benares lay chiefly on the north side of the river Barna, and had suburbs or outlying edifices on its southern side. The Panchkosi road, or sacred boundary of modern Benares,—regarded, by many natives, as of immense antiquity,—is no older than the city which it encompasses, and must also be assigned to a comparatively recent date. Many pleasant and, perhaps, hallowed associations, connected, in the minds of multitudes, with Benares, as it now stands, will be found to possess but precarious foundation, when they discover that the Benares of today is by no means identical with the Benares of their remote forefathers.
SOURCE of the great wealth of Benares—Its chief articles of Commerce-— Its native Bankers—lts Poor.—Increased desire for Education-The Government or Queeu’s College.-Monolith in the College Grounds. —The Normal School. — The Church of England Mission.—The London Society’s Mission.—The Baptist Society’s Mission.— Native Schools of various classes-The Benares Institute.—Public Buildings in the Suburbs.—Monument to Mr. Cherry.—lnfluential Native Gentlemen of Benares.
BENARES is a city of great wealth, yet not of great trade. Just as there are fashionable places of resort in more civilized countries, to which multitudes of persons are drawn at certain seasons of the year, so, in India, there are places that are annually visited by crowds of people, but with this difference, that they are of nearly all ranks and conditions, and their object is, mainly, of a religious character. Of this type is Benares. Myriads of Hindus come on pilgrimage, every year, to the sacred city, not a few of whom are merchants, landed proprietors, and princes. Some of these latter classes are casual visitors ; others, however, possess residences of their own in the city, where trusty servants, and, perhaps, one or two members of their families, habitually dwell. Rajas and men of high social position, in all parts of India, pride themselves on having a house in Holy Kasi. For these reasons, chiefly, it has come to pass that Benares is one of the richest cities in India.
Although religion, rather than trade, forms the principal occupation of the inhabitants of Benares, still the merchants constitute a numerous and important body. A considerable trade is carried on in sugar, saltpetre, and indigo, which are produced in the district. Silks and shawls are manufactured in the city; and Benares is especially famous for its gold embroidered cloths called Kincob (Kimhhwdb) and for its beautiful filigree work in gold. A large quantity of Manchester goods yearly finds a ready market here, and is sold for consumption in the neighbourhood, or is sent to other parts of the country. The most important place of trade, however, for English cotton manufactures, in the North-western Provinces of India, is the city of Mirzapore, which, at one time, was the chief emporium, not only of these Provinces, but also of a large portion of Central India. One very striking sign of general prosperity, in Northern India, and, I imagine, in the country at large, is seen in the taste, now almost universal, for white or parti-coloured British fabrics of fine texture, which, although neither so durable nor so cheap as native products, are much more elegant. No persons except the poorest are destitute of one or more raiments made of English cloth; and,’ in the cities and towns, no one considers himself fit for respectable society, if arrayed in cotton garments of native manufacture. ‘
The bankers of Benares constitute an extensive fraternity. The habits of borrowing, and of plunging reck
lessly into debt, are lamentably prevalent in India. As multitudes are ready to borrow, it is a natural consequence that there should be many ready to lend,
especially as the rate of interest is enormously high. :
This pernicious custom of society enriches a few, but impoverishes many, and greatly interferes with the comfort and happiness of the Hindu community generally. While the number of persons with very small incomes in Benares is, undoubtedly, extremely large, yet, for a city of its size, I believe the number of abject poor is remarkably small. The sum needed for the support of a family there, would, in England, be regarded
‘ almost with incredulity. As labour, for the most part,
is sufficiently abundant, there is no reason, therefore, why any family, the leading member of which is in health, should be in distress; yet, should he fall ill, unless other members of the family are able to work, it will, probably, be brought into difficulties, though not, at first, into misery. The friendly banker is then applied to, who, for a time at least, is usually willing to lend the family money, at high interest, expecting to be repaid when the sick person is restored to health; but, at the same time, an incubus of debt will rest upon the household for many long months, and, it may be, for years.
The desire for education, above all in the English language, is rapidly increasing, from year to year, amongst nearly all classes of natives in Benares. At one time it was a hard matter to induce parents to send their sons to the Government and Mission schools, to receive a gratuitous education; now they are eager to
send them, and are also willing to pay the fees imposed in every such school. Indeed, so keenly are the natives beginning to appreciate the advantages of European knowledge, that it is found not .only practicable, but even desirable, occasionally to increase the scale of ‘fees.
The Government College in Benares, or, as it is now termed, the Queen’s College, is a noble Gothic structure, of the perpendicular style, faced with Chunar free-stone. It was completed in the year 1853, at a cost of £12,690. Some have regarded it as the most imposing building yet erected by the British in India. Its architect was the late Majdr Kittoe, RE, the Government Archaeologist. The centre tower is seventy-five feet high; the nave, sixty feet long, thirty feet wide, and thirty-two feet high; and the transept, forty feet long, twenty feet wide, and thirty-two feet high. At each corner are smaller towers, connected by open arcades. The names of those persons who subscribed to defray the expense of certain portions of this edifice have been recorded, by the architect, on such portions, which are designated as their special gifts.
The College has had the advantage of distinguished scholars as Principals and Professors. Its late principal was Dr. Ballantyne, a gentleman of wide reputation for his acquaintance with Sanskrit literature and philosophy; and its present is R. T. H. Griflith, Esq., M.A., Boden Sanskrit Scholar, Oxford, well known for his exquisite poetical translations of Sanskrit legendary verse.
Dr. Fitzedward Hall, Librarian of the India Oflice, and, formerly, Inspector of Schools in the Central Pro