Page images

of native noblemen, under special charge of the Government, and while pursuing their studies at Queen's College; the beautiful Public Gardens, supported by subscription; the Swimming Bath; the Jail, in which, occasionally, seventeen hundred prisoners are confined; the Lunatic Asylum, established in 1812, sheltering one hundred and ten patients; the Blind and Leper Asylum, with one hundred and thirty inmates, founded, in 1825, by Raja Kálí Sankar Ghosál; and the Cemetery. A Hospital and four Dispensaries are situated in various parts of the city, and afford gratuitous relief to numerous patients daily.

In the cemetery is a lofty monument, erected to the memory of Mr. Cherry-formerly Political Resident at Benares—and a number of European gentlemen, who were all killed together on the 14th of January, 1799. Being seated at breakfast with Wazír Ali, the deposed Nawab of Oudh, on a signal being given, the Nawab and his servants rushed upon them, and the former stabbed Mr. Cherry with his own hand, while the rest were slain by his native attendants. The Nawab believed Mr. Cherry to be opposed to his interests, and, therefore, took this atrocious means of showing his resentment.

Benares is, and has long been, a favourite place of residence and resort for native princes. At the head of the Hindu community of the city, is the Maharaja of Benares,—descendant of the famous Raja Cheit Singh, - a person of much amiability and geniality of disposition, who, by reason of these excellent qualities, and also of the high station he occupies, commands the respect of all classes. The Maharaja of Vizianagram, K.C.S.I., late Member of the Legislative Council of India, lived there for several years. His knowledge of English, his liberal views, and his abundant generosity secured for him a position of considerable influence. Another former member of the Indian Council, Raja Deo Narain Singh, K.C.S.I., President of the Benares Institute, has won golden opinions, both from the English and native community, for the zeal he has displayed in promoting many useful projects of social and national interest. Nor must I omit to mention the popular and kind-hearted Babu Futteh Narain Singh, Vice-President of the Institute, at whose house the meetings of this society are held; and his accomplished son, Babu Aiś. warya Náráyan Sinh, the Secretary of the Institute. One of the most enterprising men of the city is Babu Siva Prasád, -of whom mention has already been made in this work,—who, by his personal labours as Joint Inspector of Schools, and by the many valuable books he has written, has done more, perhaps, for the education of the people than any other native in the NorthWestern Provinces of India. As a littérateur, the disguished Mohammedan, Saiyid Ahmad ķhán, is the most prominent of his coreligionists. He is the author of a Commentary, in Urdu and English, on the Sacred Scriptures, part of which has already been printed, a work that has excited no little curiosity amongst various classes of persons.

Connected with the Government College are several natives of great learning, the names of some of whom are known beyond their own country; such as Pandit Bápú Deva Sástrí, Honorary Member of the Royal Asiatic Society, and Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy in the Sanskrit College; and Babu Mathuráprasád, author of the valuable Trilingual Dictionary, in English, Urdú, and Hindi, lately published. present race inhabiting the earth. These sentiments, again, are modified in proportion to the extent of our knowledge of the past. For instance, if we are able to accumulate data sufficient to compare one epoch with another, we are conscious of experiencing pleasure or pain, in proportion as we find humanity progressing or degenerating. There are few sentiments more elevating to the soul than those which spring from the study of a nation which has carried on a long and desperate struggle with great systems of error and moral corruption, and has come out of the conflict triumphant, with clearer perceptions of truth and purer notions of virtue. On the other hand, there is no sentiment more depressing than that which is produced by the study of a people who have declined from bad to worse; from one abomination to another; from one system of evil to others more and more opposed to truth, to reason, and to God.


Now, in regard to the history of Benares, I cannot say that many pleasurable feelings have been engendered in my mind, as I have pondered over it. Its history is, to a great extent, the history of India; and, therefore, it is hardly fair to isolate the city from the country, and to pass judgment on it alone. Speaking, then, of this great city as representative of an immense empire, one is bound to say, that, while its career has been of long duration, it has not been of a character to awaken much of enthusiasm or admiration. It cannot be said that either the moral, or the social, or even the intellectual, condition of the people residing here is a whit better than it was upwards of two thousand years ago.

« PreviousContinue »