Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]
[ocr errors]

the Church of England, and to the London and Baptist Missionary Societies, — which are labouring, with more or less efficient means of European and native agency, in conveying the Gospel to the inhabitants of the city and the surrounding villages. The Mission in connexion with the Church of England was established in the year 1817. It comprises four ordained and two lay missionaries, thirteen native Christian school-teachers, and six readers or catechists. There are, besides, bungalows for the resident missionaries, orphan institutions for boys and girls, a village inhabited by native Christians, a Gothic Church capable of holding between three and four hundred persons, two Normal Schools,one for the training of native Christian young men as teachers and evangelists, the other for the training of native Christian young women as teachers of female schools, — a large College, and several girls' schools. The Normal Schools have a catholic basis, and admit pupils from all Protestant missions in the neighbourhood, who receive a good education, fitting them for employment in their several missions. The College is situated in the city, and is called Jay Náráyaņ's College, from a native gentleman of rank (Raja Jay Náráyan Ghosál), who founded it, in 1817, for the education of his poorer countrymen, and liberally endowed it. The Government also gives a large sum, annually, to its funds. In the year 1866, the college had four hundred and seventy-five students; and the number of native Christians in the mission was four hundred and thirty-seven. A new Church is now being erected in the midst of the Hindu population of the city, near to Daśášamedh Ghát:

[ocr errors]

The Mission of the London Missionary Society was inaugurated in the year 1821, and is situated, like the Church of England Mission, in the suburbs of the city, but between it and the military cantonments. It has four missionaries, one ordained native minister, several catechists, and one hundred and six native Christians. In 1866, the mission sustained eleven schools; nine for the education of boys and young men, and two for the education of girls, numbering, in all, five hundred and seventy-nine pupils. A substantial Church, in the Grecian style, was erected about twenty years ago. The girls' school is an elegant Gothic structure, built by Major Kittoe, in the

year

1852. The Mission of the Baptist Missionary Society was founded in 1817, and was, originally, an outpost of the Serampore Mission, in connexion with that body. For many years it had no European agent, and its operations were carried on by an East Indian, a man of great simplicity and piety. Of late years, the Society has, generally, had two European missionaries residing in Benares. In 1866, the Mission possessed two missionaries, three native catechists, three candidates for the office of catechist, and two Christian teachers. The number of converts is small, as compared with the two other Missions. There is an orphanage for the support and training of native boys and girls. A handsome Church, in which Divine service is performed for the benefit of the English and East Indian residents, was erected, a few years since, in the cantonments.

Other schools, unconnected either with the Government or with missionary institutions, exist in the city.

[graphic]

They are of several kinds. There are, first, those which receive a Government grant, and yet are entirely under native management. Of such I believe there are not more than two or three. One, originated by several Bengalis, and called the Bengali Tolá Preparatory School, is of a very useful character. The second class consists of numerous Sanskrit schools, or small colleges, presided over by pandits, and attended only by Brahman youths; their object being simply the cultivation of Sanskrit literature. A third class embraces schools which impart a rudimentary knowledge of Hindí, together with writing and accounts: these are sadly destitute of method and proper organization. And there is a fourth, intended chiefly for Mohammedan youths, and devoted largely to the study of Persian and Arabic. The importance of educating Hindu women is beginning to be recognized by intelligent natives in Benares; and schools are springing up, for their benefit, in addition to those established by the missionaries, not to mention the private instruction imparted in some of the zanánas, or female apartments in the houses of native gentlemen.

One of the most hopeful and encouraging signs of the times, in a country like India,—which has, for many ages, been in a stagnant and unprogressive state,—is, that the thirst for knowledge is, year by year, greatly increasing. In some of the cities and large towns, educated natives are forming themselves into societies, with the view of investigating and discussing subjects connected with civilization and human progress. These societies, especially in Bengal, have, sometimes, a directly religious bearing, and are strongly opposed to the prevailing idolatry; but, in the North-Western Provinces, they are, usually, more cautious, and, although advocating sentiments of a liberal and enlightened character, yet, for the sake of peace, avoid religious matters. The influence of all, however, is, undoubtedly, more or less good, tending to dissipate the mists of superstition from the minds of their members. In Calcutta and some other places, a schism has arisen between educated and uneducated natives. The former, as a class, have avowedly abandoned idolatry, and, with it, all religious reverence for the sacred books of their country, and have established a new sect known as the Brahmo Somáj. Natives of intelligence and education have proceeded with greater timidity and hesitancy in the holy city of Benares, and have been careful not to assail too suddenly the prejudices of strict Hindus.

Several societies were, at one time, in existence in Benares. One of these, the most distinguished of all, styled the Benares Institute, still flourishes. It numbers more than one hundred native members, of whom some are princes and nobles of high rank, others are pandits and maulavís,-men of great learning in Sanskrit, Arabic, and Persian literature,--some are professors and teachers in colleges, others are magistrates and judges in the courts of law, while all are men of consideration and local influence. A few European residents of the station are, also, connected with the Institute. At the meetings which are held, lectures and essays are delivered on subjects of general interest and importance; and the discussions which are carried on are often most earnest and exciting. Hindus of the

[ocr errors]

old school here contend with Hindus of the new school, -men of the past, determined to uphold the old systems to the last, with men of the present, determined at least to modify them, and to bring them to the test of rigid scrutiny; all which is beneficial to the mind, although, it may be, not always satisfactory in its immediate issue. The Institute has five constituent sections, each of which has a European president and one or more native secretaries. The sections are devoted to the following subjects : Education; Sociology or Social Progress; Philosophy and Literature; Science and Art, with which is associated Medical and Sanitary Improvement (in Benares); and Jurisprudence. The Institute published a volume of Transactions in the year

1865. The foreign residents of Benares live chiefly at Secrole, an extensive suburb on the north-west side of the city. This Station is divided by the Barná river, to the south of which the greater portion of the military cantonments and buildings connected therewith are situated, and, likewise, the English Church, the Government College, the Medical Hall, the old Mint, the town residence of the Maharaja of Benares, the three Missions of the Church of England, and of the London and Baptist Societies, and the Courts of Law of the Civil and Sessions Judge, the Deputy Judge, and the Judge of Small Causes. To the north of this river are the houses of the civil officers of Government, the Courts of the Commissioner of the Division, and of the Collector and other Magistrates of the district; several bungalows, inhabited by deposed Rajas and other natives; the Wards’ Institution, for the residence of sons

« PreviousContinue »