On the 10th of December, after a stay of more than five weeks, I left Calcutta for Benares. The journey may be performed either by land, or else by water, on the Ganges. By land, the distance is 470 miles; by water, 800 miles during the rainy season, and 465 miles more during the dry months, as the boats are compelled to take very circuitous routes to pass from the Hoogly, through the Sonderbunds, into the Ganges.

The land journey is performed in post-palanquins, carried by men, who, like horses, are changed every four or six miles. The traveller proceeds by night as well as day, and at each station finds people ready to receive him, as a circular from the post- office is always sent a day or two before, to prepare them for his arrival. At night the train is increased by the addition of a torch-bearer, to scare off the wild beasts by the glare of his torch. The travelling expenses for one person are about 200 rupees (20 pounds), independent of the luggage, which is reckoned separately.

The journey by water can be accomplished in steamers, one of which leaves almost every week for Allahabad (135 miles beyond Benares). The journey occupies from fourteen to twenty days, as, on account of the numerous sand-banks, it is impossible for the vessel to proceed on her course except in the day-time, and even then it is by no means unusual for her to run aground, especially when the water is low.

The fares to Benares are: first cabin, 257 rupees (25 pounds 14s.); second cabin, 216 rupees (21 pounds 12s.). Provisions, without wine or spirits, three rupees (6s.) a day.

As I had heard so much of the magnificent banks of the Ganges, and of the important towns situated on them, I determined to go by water.

On the 8th of December, according to the advertisement, the steamer "General Macleod," 140 horse-power, commanded by Captain Kellar, was to leave her moorings; but on going on board, I received the gratifying intelligence that we should have to wait twenty-four hours, which twenty-four hours were extended to as much again, so that we did not actually set off before 11 o'clock on the morning of the 10th. We first proceeded down the stream to the sea as far as Katcherie, and on the following day we rounded Mud Point, and entered the Sonderbunds, where we beat about as far as Culna. From there we proceeded up the Gury, a large tributary stream flowing into the Ganges below Rumpurbolea. During the first few days, the scenery was monotonous to the highest degree; there were neither towns nor villages to be seen; the banks were flat, and the prospect everywhere bounded by tall, thick bushes, which the English term jungles, that is to say, "virgin forests." For my own part, I could see no "virgin forests," as by this term I understand a forest of mighty trees. During the night, we heard, from time to time, the roaring of tigers. These animals are pretty abundant in these parts, and frequently attack the natives if they happen to remain out late wooding. I was shown the tattered fragment of a man's dress, hung upon a bush, to commemorate the fact of a native having been torn to pieces there by one of these beasts. But they are not the only foes that man has to dread here; the Ganges contains quite as deadly ones, namely - the ravenous crocodiles. These may be seen in groups of six or eight, sunning themselves on the slimy banks of the river or on the numerous sandbanks. They vary in length from six to fifteen feet. On the approach of the steamer, several started up, affrighted by the noise, and glided hastily into the dirty yellow stream.

The different branches of the Sonderbunds and the Gury are often so narrow that there is hardly room for two vessels to pass each other; while, on the other hand, they frequently expand into lakes that are miles across. In spite, too, of the precaution of only proceeding by day, on account of the numerous sandbanks and shallows, accidents are of frequent occurrence. We ourselves did not come off scot free. In one of the narrow branches I have alluded to, while our vessel was stopped to allow another to pass, one of the two ships that we had in tow came with such violence against the steamer, that the sides of a cabin were driven in: luckily, however, no one was injured.

In another arm of the river, two native vessels were lying at anchor. The crews were somewhat slow in perceiving us, and had not time to raise their anchors before we came puffing up to them. The captain did not stop, as he thought there was room to pass, but turned the steamer's head so far in shore, that he ran into the bushes, and left some of the blinds of the cabin-windows suspended as trophies behind him, whereat he was so enraged, that he immediately dispatched two boats to cut the poor creatures' hawsers, thereby causing them to lose their anchors. This was another action worthy of a European!

Near Culna (358 miles from the sea), we entered the Gury, a considerable tributary of the Ganges, which it flows into below Rumpurbolea. The jungles here recede, and their place is occupied by beautiful plantations of rice, and other vegetables. There was, too, no scarcity of villages, only the huts, which were mostly built of straw and palm-leaves, were small and wretched. The appearance of the steamer soon collected all the inhabitants, who left their fields and huts and greeted it with loud huzzas.

15th December. This evening we struck, for the first time, on a sandbank. It cost us some trouble before we could get off again.

16th December. We had entered the Ganges yesterday. At a late hour this evening we hove to near the little village of Commercolly. The inhabitants brought provisions of every description on board, and we had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the prices of the various articles. A fine wether cost four rupees (8s.); eighteen fowls, a rupee (2s.); a fish, weighing several pounds, an anna (1.5d.); eight eggs, an anna; twenty oranges, two annas (3d.); a pound of fine bread, three beis (ld.); and yet, in spite of these ludicrously cheap prices, the captain charged each passenger three rupees (6s.) a-day for his board, which was not even passable! Many of the passengers made purchases here of eggs, new bread, and oranges, and the captain was actually not ashamed to let these articles, which were paid for out of our own pockets, appear at his table that we all paid so dearly for.

18th December. Bealeah, a place of considerable importance, noted for the number of its prisons. It is a depot for criminals, {158a} who are sent here from all parts. The prisoners here cannot be so desirous of escaping as those in Europe, for I saw numbers of them, very slightly ironed, wandering about in groups or alone, in the place itself and its vicinity, without having any gaolers with them. They are properly taken care of, and employed in various kinds of light work. There is a paper manufactory, which is almost entirely carried on by them.

The inhabitants appeared to possess a more than usual degree of fanaticism. I and another passenger, Herr Lau, had gone to take a walk in the place, and were about to enter a small street in which there was a Hindoo temple; but no sooner, however, did the people perceive our intention, than they set up a horrible yelling, and pressed on us so closely, that we held it advisable to restrain our curiosity and turn back.

19th December. Today we perceived the low ranges of the Rajmahal Hills, the first we had seen since we left Madras. In the evening, we were again stuck fast upon a sandbank. We remained tolerably quiet during the night, but, as soon as it was morning, every possible means were adopted to get us off again. The vessels we had in tow were cast off, our steam got up to its highest pitch; the sailors, too, exerted themselves indefatigably, and at noon we were stuck just as fast as we were the evening before. About this time, we perceived a steamer on its way from Allahabad to Calcutta; but our captain hoisted no signals of distress, being very much vexed that he should be seen by a comrade in such a position. The captain of the other vessel, however, offered his assistance of his own accord but his offer was coldly and curtly refused, and it was not until after several hours of the most strenuous exertion that we succeeded in getting off the bank into deep water.

In the course of the day, we touched at Rajmahal, {158b} a large village, which, on account of the thick woods and numerous swamps and morasses around it, is reckoned a most unhealthy place.

It was here that Gur, one of the largest towns of India, once stood. It is said to have been twenty square miles in extent, and to have contained about two millions of inhabitants, and, according to the latest books of travels, the most splendid and considerable ruins are still to be seen there. Those of the so-called "Golden Mosque" are especially remarkable, being very fine and faced with marble; the gateways are celebrated for their great width of span and the solidity of their side walls.

As there was, fortunately, a depot for coals here, we were allowed a few hours to do as we liked. The younger passengers seized the opportunity to go out shooting, being attracted by the splendid forests, the finest I had as yet seen in India. It was certainly reported that they were very much infested with tigers, but this deterred no one.

I also engaged in the chase - although it was one of a different description. I penetrated far and wide, through forest and swamp, in order to discover the ruins. I was successful; but how meagre and wretched they were! The most important were those of two common city-gates, built of sandstone and ornamented with a few handsome sculptures, but without any arches or cupolas. One inconsiderable temple, with four corner towers, was in several places covered with very fine cement. Besides these, there were a few other ruins or single fragments of buildings and pillars scattered around, but all of them together do not cover a space of two square miles.

On the border of the forest, or some hundred paces farther in, were situated a number of huts belonging to the natives, approached by picturesque paths running beneath shady avenues of trees. In Bealeah, the people were very fanatic, while here the men were very jealous. At the conclusion of my excursion, one of the gentlemen passengers had joined me, and we directed our steps towards the habitations of the natives. As soon as the men saw my companion, they called out to their wives, and ordered them to take refuge in the huts. The women ran in from all directions, but remained very quietly at the doors of their dwellings to see us pass, and quite forgot to conceal their faces while they did so.

In these parts, there are whole woods of cocoa-palms. This tree is properly a native of India, where it attains a height of eighty feet, and bears fruit in its sixth year. In other countries, it is scarcely fifty feet high, and does not bear fruit before it is twelve or fifteen years old. This tree is, perhaps, the most useful one in the known world. It produces large and nutritious fruit, excellent milk, large leaves that are used for covering in and roofing huts, materials for strong cordage, the clearest oil for burning, mats, woven stuffs, colouring matter, and even a kind of drink called surr, toddy, or palm brandy, and obtained by incisions made in the crown of the tree, to which, during an entire month, the Hindoos climb up every morning and evening, making incisions in the stem and hanging pots underneath to catch the sap which oozes out. The rough condition of the bark facilitates considerably the task of climbing up the tree. The Hindoos tie a strong cord round the trunk and their own body, and another round their feet, which they fix firmly against the tree; they then raise themselves up, drawing the upper rope with their hands and the lower one with the points of their feet, after them. I have seen them climb the highest trees in this manner with the greatest ease in two minutes at the most. Round their bodies they have a belt, to which are suspended a knife and one or two small jars.

The sap is at first quite clear, and agreeably sweet, but begins, in six or eight hours' time, to ferment, and then assumes a whitish tint, while its flavour becomes disagreeably acid. From this, with the addition of some rice, is manufactured strong arrack. A good tree will yield above a gallon of this sap in four-and-twenty hours, but during the year in which the sap is thus extracted, it bears no fruit.

21st December. About 80 miles below Rajmahal, we passed three rather steep rocks rising out of the Ganges. The largest is about sixty feet high; the next in size, which is overgrown with bushes, is the residence of a Fakir, whom the true believers supply with provisions. We could not see the holy man, as it was beginning to grow dark as we passed. This, however, did not cause us so much regret, as that we were unable to visit the Botanical Garden at Bogulpore, which is said to be the finest in all India; but as there was no coal depot at Bogulpore, we did not stop.

On the 22nd of December, we passed the remarkable mountain scenery of Junghera, which rises, like an island of rocks, from the majestic Ganges. This spot was, in former times, looked on as the holiest in the whole course of the river. Thousands of boats and larger vessels were constantly to be seen there, as no Hindoo believed he could die in peace without having visited the place. Numerous Fakirs had established themselves here, strengthening the poor pilgrims with unctuous exhortations, and taking in return their pious gifts. The neighbourhood has, however, at present, lost its reputation for sanctity, and the offerings received are scarcely sufficient to maintain two or three Fakirs.

In the evening we stopped near Monghyr, {160a} a tolerably large town, with some old fortifications. The most conspicuous object is a cemetery, crowded with monuments. The monuments are so peculiar, that had I not seen similar ones in the cemeteries of Calcutta, I should never have imagined that they belonged to any sect of Christians. There were temples, pyramids, immense catafalques, kiosks, etc., all massively built of tiles. The extent of this cemetery is quite disproportioned to the number of Europeans in Monghyr; but the place is said to be the most unhealthy in India, so that when a European is ordered there for any number of years, he generally takes a last farewell of all his friends.

Six miles hence, there are some hot springs, which are looked upon by the natives as sacred.

We had lost sight of the Rajmahal Hills at Bogulpore; on both sides of the river, nothing was now to be seen but an uninterrupted succession of flat plains.

24th December. Patna, {160b} one of the largest and most ancient cities of Bengal, with a population of about 300,000 souls, {161} consists of a long, broad street, eight miles long, with numerous short alleys running into it. The houses, which are mostly constructed of mud, struck me as particularly small and wretched. Under the projecting roofs are exposed for sale goods and provisions of the simplest kind. That part of the street in which the greatest number of these miserable shops are situated, is dignified by the grand name of the "Bazaar." The few houses of a better description might easily be counted without any very great trouble; they are built of tiles, and surrounded by wooden galleries and colonnades prettily carved. In these houses were to be found the best and finest shops.

The temples of the Hindoos, the Ghauts (flights of steps, halls, and gateways) on the Ganges, like the mosques of the Mahomedans, always look a great deal better at a distance than they do on a nearer inspection. The only objects worthy of notice which I saw here, were a few bell-shaped mausoleums, like those in Ceylon, which they greatly surpassed in size, although not in artistic beauty; they were certainly more than 200 feet in circumference, and eighty feet in height. Excessively narrow entrances, with simple doors, conduct into the interior. On the outside, two small flights of steps, forming a semicircle, lead up to the top. The doors were not opened for us, and we were obliged to content ourselves with the assurance that, with the exception of a small, plain sarcophagus there was nothing inside.

Patna is a place of great importance, from the trade in opium, by which many of the natives acquire large fortunes. As a general rule, they make no display of their riches, either as regards their clothes, or in any other public kind of luxury. There are only two sorts of dress - one for those in easy circumstances, which is like that of the Orientals, and one for the poorest classes, which consists of a piece of cloth bound round the loins.

The principal street presents a bustling appearance, being much frequented by carriages, as well as pedestrians. The Hindoos, like the Jews, are such determined foes to walking, that they do not think the worst place in the most wretched cart beneath their acceptance.

The vehicles in most general use are narrow, wooden cars upon two wheels, and composed of four posts with cross-beams. Coloured woollen stuff is hung over these, and a kind of canopy keeps off the sun. There is properly only room for two persons, although I have seen three or four crowded into them. This put me in mind of the Italians, who fill a carriage so that not even the steps are left vacant. These cars are called baili. They are closely curtained when women travel in them.

I expected to see the streets here full of camels and elephants, since I had read so much about it in some descriptions: but I saw only bailis drawn by oxen and a few horsemen, but neither camels nor elephants.

Towards evening we drove to Deinapore, {162} which is eight miles from Patna, along an excellent post-road, planted with handsome trees.

Deinapore is one of the largest English military stations, and contains extensive barracks, which almost constitute a town in themselves. The town is but a short distance from the barracks. There are many Mahomedans among the inhabitants, who surpass the Hindoos in industry and perseverance.

I here saw elephants for the first time on the Indian continent. In a serai outside the town there were eight large handsome animals.

When we returned to the ship in the evening, we found it like a camp. All kinds of articles were brought there and laid out for inspection; but the shoemakers were particularly numerous. Their work appeared neat and lasting, and remarkably cheap. A pair of men's boots, for example, cost from one and a half to two rupees (3s. to 4s.); but it is true that twice as much is always asked for them. I saw on this occasion the way in which the European sailors conduct bargains with the natives. One of the engineers wanted to buy a pair of shoes, and offered a quarter of the price asked. The seller, not consenting to this, took his goods back; but the engineer snatched them out of his hand, threw down a few beis more than what he had offered, and hastened to his cabin. The shoemaker pursued him, and demanded the shoes back; instead of which he received several tough blows, and was threatened that if he was not quiet he should be compelled to leave the ship immediately. The poor creature returned half crying to his pack of goods.

A similar occurrence took place on the same evening. A Hindoo boy brought a box for one of the travellers, and asked for a small payment for his trouble; he was not listened to. The boy remained standing by, repeating his request now and then. He was driven away, and as he would not go quietly, blows were had recourse to. The captain happened to pass accidentally, and asked what was the matter. The boy, sobbing, told him; the captain shrugged his shoulders, and the boy was put out of the ship.

How many similar and even more provoking incidents have I seen? The so-called "barbarian and heathen people" have good reason to hate us. Wherever the Europeans go they will not give any reward, but only orders and commands; and their rule is generally much more oppressive than that of the natives.

26th December. The custom of exposing dying people on the banks of the Ganges, does not appear to be so general as some travellers state. We sailed on the river for fourteen days, during which time we passed many thickly populated towns and villages, and did not meet with a single case until today. The dying man lay close to the water, and several men, probably his relations, were seated round him, awaiting his decease. One dipped water and mud out of the river with his hands, and put them to the nose and mouth of the dying man. The Hindoos believe that if they die at the river with their mouths full of the holy water, they are quite certain to go to heaven. His relations or friends remain by the dying man till sunset, when they go home, and leave him to his fate. He generally falls a prey to crocodiles. I very seldom saw any floating corpses; only two during the whole journey. Most of the corpses are burnt.

27th December. Ghazipoor is an important place, and is remarkable at a distance for its handsome ghauts. Here stands a pretty monument erected to the memory of Lord Cornwallis, who conquered Tippoo Saib in 1790. Very near is a large establishment for training horses, which is said to turn out remarkably fine ones. But Ghazipoor is most remarkable for its enormous rose-fields, and the rose-water and attar prepared here. The latter is obtained in the following manner: -

Upon forty pounds of roses, with the calixes, sixty pounds of water are poured, and the whole is distilled over a slow fire. From this, about thirty pounds of rose-water are obtained. Another forty pounds of roses are again added to this, and, at the utmost, twenty pounds of water distilled off. This is then exposed during the night to the cold air in pans, and in the morning the oil is found swimming upon the surface and is skimmed off. Not more than an ounce and a half of attar, at the utmost, is obtained from eighty pounds of roses. An ounce of true attar costs, even at Ghazipoor, 40 rupees (4 pounds).

At 10 o'clock on the morning of the 28th, we at length reached the holy town of Benares. We anchored near Radschgaht, where coolies and camels were ready to receive us.

Before taking leave of the Ganges, I must remark that, during the whole journey of about a thousand miles, I did not meet with a single spot remarkable for its especial beauty, or one picturesque view. The banks are either flat or bounded by layers of earth ten or twenty feet in height, and, further inland, sandy plains alternate with plantations or dried-up meadows and miserable jungles. There are, indeed, a great number of towns and villages, but, with the exception of occasional handsome houses and the ghauts, they are composed of a collection of huts. The river itself is frequently divided into several branches, and is sometimes so broad that it resembles a sea rather than a river, for the banks are scarcely visible.

Benares is the most sacred town of India. It is to the Hindoos what Mecca is to the Mahomedans, or Rome to the Catholics. The belief of the Hindoos in its holiness is such that, according to their opinion, every man will be saved who remains twenty-four hours in the town, without reference to his religion. This noble toleration is one of the finest features in the religion and character of this people, and puts to shame the prejudices of many Christian sects.

The number of pilgrims amounts annually to 300,000 or 400,000, and the town is one of the most wealthy in the country, through their trading, sacrifices, and gifts.

This may not be an improper place to make some remarks upon the religion of these interesting people, which I extract from Zimmerman's "Handbook of Travels."

"The foundation of the Hindoo faith is the belief in a superior primitive being, immortality, and a reward of virtue. The chief idea of God is so great and beautiful, its moral so pure and elevated, that its equal has not been found among any other people.

"Their creed is to worship the highest Being, to invoke their guardian gods, to be well-disposed towards their fellow-men, to pity the unfortunate and help them, to bear patiently the inconveniences of life, not to lie or break their word, to read the sacred histories and to give heed to them, not to talk much, to fast, pray, and to bathe at stated periods. These are the general duties which the sacred writings of the Hindoos enforce, without exception, upon all castes or sects.

"Their true and only god is called 'Brahma,' which must not be confounded with Brahma who was created by the former, who is the true, eternal, holy, and unchangeable light of all time and space. The wicked are punished and the good rewarded.

"Out of the Eternal Being proceeded the goddess Bhavani, i.e., Nature, and a host of 1,180 million spirits. Among these there are three demi-gods or superior spirits, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, the Hindoo Trinity, called by them Trimurti.

"For a long time, happiness and content prevailed; but they afterwards revolted, and many gave up their allegiance. The rebels were cast down from on high into the pit of darkness. Hereupon succeeded the transmigration of souls; every animal and every plant was animated by one of the fallen angels, and the remarkable amiability of the Hindoos towards animals is owing to this belief. They look upon them as their fellow-creatures, and will not put any of them to death.

"The Hindoo reverences the great purpose of nature, the production of organized bodies, in the most disinterested and pious manner. Everything tending to this end is to him venerable and holy, and it is in this respect alone that he worships the Lingam.

"It may be affirmed, that the superstitions of this creed have only gradually become an almost senseless delusion through corruption and misunderstanding.

"In order to judge of the present state of their religion, it will be sufficient to describe the figures of a few of their chief deities.

"Brahma, as the creator of the world, is represented with four human heads and eight hands; in one hand he holds the scriptures, in the others, various idols. He is not worshipped in any temple, having lost this prerogative on account of his ambitious desire to find out the Supreme Being. However, after repenting of his folly, it was permitted that the Brahmins might celebrate some festivals in his honour, called Poutsche.

"Vishnu, as the maintainer of the world, is represented in twenty-one different forms: - Half fish half man, as tortoise, half lion half man, Buddha, dwarf, etc. The wife of Vishnu is worshipped as the goddess of fruitfulness, plenty, and beauty. The cow is considered sacred to her.

"Shiva is the destroyer, revenger, and the conqueror of Death. He has, therefore, a double character, beneficent or terrible; he rewards or punishes. He is generally hideously represented, entirely surrounded by lightning, with three eyes, the largest of which is in the forehead; he has also eight arms, in each of which he holds something.

"Although these three deities are equal, the religion of the Hindoos is divided into only two sects - the worshippers of Vishnu and those of Shiva. Brahma has no peculiar sect, since he is denied temples and pagodas; however, the whole priestly caste - the Brahmins - may be considered as his worshippers, since they affirm that they proceeded from his head.

"The worshippers of Vishnu have on their foreheads a red or yellowish painted sign of the Jani; the Shiva worshippers, the sign of the Lingam, or an obelisk, triangle, or the sun.

"333,000,000 subordinate deities are recognised. They control the elements, natural phenomena, the passions, acts, diseases, etc. They are represented in different forms and having all kinds of attributes.

"There are also genii, good and evil spirits. The number of the good exceeds that of the bad by about 3,000,000.

"Other objects are also considered sacred by the Hindoos, as rivers, especially the Ganges, which is believed to have been formed from the sweat of Shiva. The water of the Ganges is so highly esteemed, that a trade is carried on in it for many miles inland.

"Among animals, they chiefly look upon the cow, ox, elephant, ape, eagle, swan, peacock, and serpent, as sacred; among plants, the lotus, the banana, and the mango-tree.

"The Brahmins have an especial veneration for a stone, which is, according to Sonnerat, a fossil ammonite in slate.

"It is in the highest degree remarkable that there is no representation of the Supreme Being to be found in all Hindostan. The idea appears too great for them; they consider the whole earth as his temple, and worship him under all forms.

"The adherents of Shiva bury their dead; the others either burn them or throw them into the river."

No one can form an accurate idea of India who has not gone beyond Calcutta. This city has become almost European. The palaces, the equipages are European; there are societies, balls, concerts, promenades, almost the same as in Paris or London; and if it was not for the tawny natives in the streets, and the Hindoo servants in the houses, a stranger might easily forget that he was in a foreign country.

It is very different in Benares. The Europeans are isolated there; foreign customs and manners everywhere surround them, and remind them that they are tolerated intruders. Benares contains 300,000 inhabitants, of which scarcely 150 are Europeans.

The town is handsome, especially when seen from the river side, where its defects are not observed. Magnificent rows of steps, built of colossal stones, lead up to the houses and palaces, and artistically built gateways. In the best part of the town, they form a continuous line two miles in length. These steps cost enormous sums of money, and a large town might have been built with the stones employed for them.

The handsome part of the town contains a great number of antique palaces, in the Moorish, Gothic, and Hindoo styles, many of which are six stories high. The gates are most magnificent, and the fronts of the palaces and houses are covered with masterly arabesques and sculptured work; the different stories are richly ornamented with fine colonnades, verandahs, balconies, and friezes. The windows alone did not please me; they were low, small, and seldom regularly arranged. All the houses and palaces have very broad sloping roofs and terraces. The innumerable temples afford a proof of the wealth and piety of the inhabitants of this town. Every Hindoo in good circumstances has a temple in his house, i.e., a small tower, which is frequently only twenty feet high.

The Hindoo temples consist properly of a tower thirty or sixty feet in height, without windows, and having only a small entrance. They appear, especially at a distance, very striking and handsome, as they are either artistically sculptured or richly covered with projecting ornaments, such as pinnacles, small columns, pyramids, leaves, niches, etc.

Unfortunately, many of these beautiful buildings are in ruins. The Ganges here and there undermines the foundations, and palaces and temples sink into the soft earth or fall entirely down. Miserable little huts are in some places built upon these ruins, and disfigure the fine appearance of the town, for even the ruins themselves are still beautiful.

At sunrise, a spectacle is to be seen at the river which has not its counterpart in the world. The pious Hindoos come here to perform their devotions; they step into the river, turn towards the sun, throw three handsful of water upon their heads, and mutter their prayers. Taking into account the large population which Benares contains, besides pilgrims, it will not be exaggeration to say that the daily number of devotees amounts, on the average, to 50,000 persons. Numbers of Brahmins sit in small kiosks, or upon blocks of stone on the steps, close to the water's edge, to receive the charity of the wealthy, and grant them absolution in return.

Every Hindoo must bathe at least once in the day, and particularly in the morning; if he is pious and has time, he repeats the ceremony again in the evening. The women bathe at home.

At the time of the festival called Mala, when the concourse of pilgrims is innumerable, the steps are crowded with masses of human beings, and the river appears as if covered with black spots from the number of the bathers' heads.

The interior of the city is far less handsome than that portion which extends along the Ganges. It contains many palaces; but these have not the same beautiful gateways, colonnades, and verandahs as those already described. Many of these buildings are covered with fine cement, and others are painted with miserable frescoes.

The streets are for the most part both dirty and ugly, and many of them are so narrow, that there is scarcely room for a palanquin to pass. At the corner of almost every house stands the figure of the god Shiva.

Among the temples in the town, the handsomest is the "Bisvishas:" it has two towers connected by colonnades, with their summits covered with golden plates. The temple is surrounded by a wall, but we were allowed to enter the fore-court, and to go as far as the entrance. We saw inside several images of Vishnu and Shiva, wreathed with flowers, and strewn over with grains of rice, wheat, etc. Small bulls of metal or stone stood in the porch, and living white bulls (of which I counted eight) wandered about at liberty. The latter are considered sacred, and are allowed to roam where they please, and are not prevented from satisfying their hunger with even the sacrificial flowers and corn.

These sacred animals do not remain in the temples only - they wander about the streets; and the people turn reverently out of their way, and frequently give them fodder. They do not, however, allow them to eat the corn exposed for sale, as was formerly the case. If one of the sacred animals happen to die, it is either thrown into the river or burnt. They receive in this respect the same honour as the Hindoos themselves.

In the temple, there were men and women who had brought flowers, with which they decorated the images. Some of them also laid a piece of money under the flowers. They then sprinkled them over with Ganges' water, and strewed rice and other corn about.

Near the temple are the most holy places in the town, namely - the so-called "holy well" and the Mankarnika, a large basin of water. The following anecdote is told of the former: -

When the English had conquered Benares, they planted a cannon before the entrance of the temple to destroy the image of the god Mahadeo. The Brahmins, greatly indignant at this, instigated the people to revolt, and they hastened in numerous crowds to the temple. The English, to prevent a disturbance, said to the people: "If your god is stronger than the Christian God, the balls will not hurt him; but if not, he will be broken to pieces." Of course; the latter was the result. The Brahmins, however, did not give up their cause, but declared that they had seen the spirit of their god leave the idol before the cannon was fired, and plunge into the spring near at hand. From this time the spring was considered sacred.

The Mankarnika is a deep basin, paved with stone, about sixty feet long, and of equal breadth; broad steps lead from the four sides into the water. A similar tradition, but connected with the god Shiva, is attached to this place. Both deities are said to have continued to reside in these waters down to the present day. Every pilgrim who visits Benares must, on his arrival, bathe in this holy pool, and, at the same time, make a small offering. Several Brahmins are always present to receive these gifts. They are in no way distinguished by their dress from the bulk of the better classes, but the colour of their skin is clearer, and many of them have very noble features.

Fifty paces from this pool, on the banks of the Ganges, stands a remarkably handsome Hindoo temple, with three towers. Unfortunately, the ground sunk in a few years since, and the towers were thrown out of their proper position: one inclines to the right and the other to the left; the third is almost sunk into the Ganges.

Among the thousand of other temples, there is here and there one which is worth the trouble of a cursory inspection, but I would not advise any one to go much out of their way on their account. The place for burning the dead is very near the holy pool. When we went there, they were just roasting a corpse - the mode of burning cannot be described by any other name, the fire was so small, and the corpse projected over on all sides.

Among the other buildings, the Mosque Aurang Zeb is most worthy of the notice of travellers. It is famous on account of its two minarets, which are 150 feet high, and are said to be the slenderest in the world. They look like two needles, and certainly are more deserving of the name than that of Cleopatra at Alexandria. Narrow winding staircases in the interior lead to the top, upon which a small platform, with a balustrade a foot high, is erected. It is fortunate for those who are not subject to dizziness. They can venture out, and take a bird's-eye view of the endless sea of houses, and the innumerable Hindoo temples; the Ganges also, with its step quays, miles long, lies exposed below. I was told that on very clear, fine days, a distant chain of mountains was perceivable - the day was fine and clear, but I could not see the mountains.

The observatory is a very remarkable and artistic building. It was built by Dscheising, under the intelligent Emperor Akbar, more than two centuries since. There are no ordinary telescopes to be found there: all the instruments are constructed of massive blocks of stone. Upon a raised terrace, to which stone steps lead, stand circular tables, semicircular and quadratic curves, etc. which are covered with signs, writing, and lines. With these instruments, the Brahmins made, and still make, their observations and calculations. We met with several Brahmins busily engaged with calculations and written treatises.

Benares is on the whole the chief seat of Indian learning. Among the Brahmins, 6,000 in number, I was told there were many who give instruction in astronomy, Sanscrit, and other scientific subjects.

The sacred apes are another of the curiosities of Benares. Their principal location is upon some of the immense mango-trees in the suburbs of Durgakund. The animals seemed as if they knew we had come to see them, for they approached quite close to us; but when the servant, whom I had sent for some food for them, returned, and called them to him, it was amusing to see the merry creatures come running from the trees, the roofs of the houses, and the streets. We were in a moment closely surrounded by several hundreds, who fought together in the most comical manner for the fruits and grain. The largest or oldest acted as commander. Wherever there was quarrelling, he rushed in, and commenced thrashing the combatants, threatening them with his teeth, and making a muttering sound, upon which they immediately separated. It was the largest and most comical party of monkeys I ever saw. They were generally more than two feet high, and their skins were a dirty yellow colour.

My kind host took me one day to Sarnath (five miles from Benares), where there are some interesting ruins of three remarkably massive towers. They are not particularly high, and stand upon three artificially raised mounds, a mile distant from each other. Both the mounds and towers are constructed of large bricks. The largest of these towers is still covered in many places with stone slabs, on which traces of arabesques are here and there visible. Numbers of slabs lie scattered about the ground. There are no signs of any such covering on the remaining towers. In each there is a small door and a single apartment.

Excavations were commenced beneath these towers by the English government in the hope of making some discoveries which would throw light upon the origin of these buildings; but nothing was found beyond an empty underground vault.

There is a lake close by of artificial construction, which is supplied with water from the Ganges by a canal.

There is a very singular tradition connected with these towers and the lake. "In very ancient times three brothers ruled here, who were giants, and had these buildings erected and the lake excavated, and all in one day. It must, however, be known that a day at that time was equal to two years of modern reckoning. The giants were so tall that they could go from one tower to the other with a step, and the reason these were built so close was their fondness for each other, and their desire to be always together."

An indigo plantation in the neighbourhood, the first I ever saw, was not less interesting to me than these towers and their singular tradition. The indigo plant is herbaceous, and from one to three feet high, with delicate bluish-green leaves. The harvest is generally in August; the plants are cut tolerably low on the principal stem, tied together in bundles, and thrown into large wooden vats. Planks are laid on the tops of the bundles weighted with stones, and water poured on them; generally after sixteen hours, though sometimes after several days, according to the character of the water, fermentation commences. This is the principal difficulty, and everything depends upon its continuance for the proper time. When the water has acquired a dark-green colour, it is transferred to other wooden vessels, lime added, and the whole stirred with wooden spades until a blue deposit takes place. After being allowed to settle, the water is poured off, and the substance remaining behind is put into long linen bags through which the moisture filters. As soon as the indigo is dry, it is broken in pieces and packed.

Shortly before my departure I had the pleasure of being presented to the Rajah through the aid of my fellow-traveller, Mr. Law. He resides in the Citadel Rhamnughur, which lies on the left bank of the Ganges, above the town.

A handsomely ornamented boat awaited us at the bank of the river, and on the other side a palanquin. We soon found ourselves at the entrance of the palace, the gateway of which is lofty and majestic. I expected to have been gratified in the interior by the sight of spacious courts and a handsome style of architecture, but found only irregular courts and small unsymmetrical apartments, destitute of all taste and luxury. In one of the courts was a plain-columned hall on the level of the ground, which served as a reception-room. This hall was overcrowded with glass lustres, lamps, and European furniture; on the walls were some miserable pictures, framed and glazed. Outside was a swarm of servants, who gazed at us with great attention. Presently the prince made his appearance, accompanied by his brother, and some courtiers and attendants, who could scarcely be distinguished the one from the other.

The two princes were very richly dressed; they wore wide trousers, long under and short over garments, all made of satin, embroidered with gold. The elder one, aged thirty-five, wore short silk cuffs, embroidered with gold, the edge set with diamonds; he had several large brilliant rings on his finger, and his silk shoes were covered with beautiful gold embroidery. His brother, a youth of nineteen, whom he had adopted, {170} wore a white turban with a costly clasp of diamonds and pearls. He had large pearls hanging from his ears, and rich massive bracelets on his wrists. The elder prince was a handsome man, with exceedingly amiable and intellectual features; the younger one pleased me far less.

We had scarcely seated ourselves, when a large silver basin with elaborately worked nargillys were brought, and we were invited to smoke. We declined this honour, and the prince smoked alone; he took only a few whiffs from the same nargilly, which was then replaced by another handsomer one.

The behaviour of the princes was very decorous and lively. I regretted that we could communicate only through an interpreter. He inquired whether I had ever seen a Natsch (festival dance). On my answering that I had not, he immediately ordered one to be performed.

In half an hour two female dancers and three musicians appeared. The dancers were dressed in gay gold-embroidered muslin, wide silk trousers, embroidered with gold, which reached to the ground, and quite covered their bare feet. One of the musicians played upon two small drums, the other two on four-stringed instruments, similar to our violins. They stood close behind the dancers, and played without melody or harmony; the dancers making at the same time very animated motions with their arms, hands, and fingers, more than with their feet, on which they wore silver bells, which they rung at intervals. They made handsome and graceful drapings and figures with their over garments. This performance lasted about a quarter of an hour, after which they accompanied the dance with singing. The two sylphides shrieked so miserably that I was in fear for my ears and nerves.

During the performance, sweetmeats, fruits, and sherbet (a cooling, sweet, acidulated beverage) were handed round.

After the dance was ended, the prince asked if I would like to see his garden, which is a mile distant from the palace. I was indiscreet enough to accept his offer.

In company with the young prince we proceeded to the front square of the palace, where elegantly ornamented elephants stood ready. The elder prince's favourite elephant, an animal of uncommon size and beauty, was destined for myself and Mr. Law. A scarlet canopy, with tassels, fringes, and gold embroidered lace, nearly covered the whole animal. A convenient seat was placed upon his broad back, which might be compared to a phaeton without wheels. The elephant was made to kneel down, a ladder was placed against his side, and Mr. Law and myself took our places. Behind us sat a servant, who held an enormously large umbrella over our heads. The driver sat upon the neck of the animal, and pricked it now and then between the ears with a sharp-pointed iron rod.

The young prince, with his attendant and servants, took their places upon the other elephants. Several officers on horseback rode at our side, two soldiers with drawn sabres ran in front of the party to clear the way, and upwards of a dozen soldiers, also with drawn sabres, surrounded us, while a few mounted soldiers brought up the rear.

Although the motion of the elephant is quite as jolting and unpleasant as that of the camel, this truly Indian ride afforded me great pleasure.

When we had arrived at the garden, the young prince seemed by his proud look to ask whether we were not charmed with its magnificence. Our delight was unfortunately assumed, for the garden was far too plain to deserve much praise. In the back-ground of the garden stands a somewhat ruinous royal summer palace.

As we were about leaving the garden, the gardener brought us some beautiful nosegays and delicious fruits - a custom universal in India.

Outside the garden was a very large water-basin, covered with handsome blocks of stone; broad steps led up to the water, and at the corner stood beautiful kiosks, ornamented with tolerably well- executed reliefs.

The Rajah of Benares receives from the English government an annual pension of one lac, that is, 100,000 rupees (10,000 pounds). He is said to receive as much more from his property, and nevertheless to be very much in debt. The causes of this are his great extravagance in clothes and jewellery, his numerous wives, servants, horses, camels, and elephants, etc. I was told that the prince has forty wives, about a thousand servants and soldiers, a hundred horses, fifty camels, and twenty elephants.

On the following morning the Rajah sent to inquire how the excursion had pleased us, and presented me with confectionery, sweetmeats, and the rarest fruits; among others, grapes and pomegranates, which at this time of the year are scarce. They came from Cabul, which is about 700 miles distant from this place.

Finally, I must mention that for many years no one has died in the palace which the Rajah occupies. The reason of this is said to be the following: - "One of the rulers of this palace once asked a Brahmin what would become of the soul of any one who died in the palace. The Brahmin answered that it would go to heaven. The Rajah repeated the same question ninety-nine times, and always received the same answer. But on asking the hundredth time, the Brahmin lost patience, and answered that it would go into a donkey." Since that time every one, from the prince to the meanest servant, leaves the palace as soon as they feel themselves unwell. None of them are desirous of continuing after death the part which they have, perhaps, so frequently commenced in this life.

While in Benares I had two opportunities of seeing the so-called martyrs of the Fakirs (a priestly sect of the Hindoos). These martyrs impose upon themselves the most various tortures: for example, they stick an iron hook through their flesh, and have themselves drawn up to a height of twenty or five-and-twenty feet; or they stand several hours in the day upon one foot, and at the same time stretch their arms in the air, or hold heavy weights in various positions, turn round in a circle for hours together, tear the flesh off their bodies, etc. They frequently torment themselves so much as to be in danger of their lives. These martyrs are still tolerably venerated by the people; however, there are at the present time but a few more remaining. One of the two whom I saw, held a heavy axe over his head, and had taken the bent attitude of a workman hewing wood. I watched him for more than a quarter of an hour; he remained in the same position as firmly and quietly as if he had been turned to stone. He had, perhaps, exercised this useless occupation for years. The other held the point of his foot to his nose.

Another sect of the Fakirs condemn themselves to eat only a little food, and that of the most disgusting kind: the flesh of oxen that have died, half-rotten vegetables, and refuse of every kind, even mud and earth; they say that it is quite immaterial what the stomach is filled with.

The Fakirs all go about almost naked, smear their bodies with cow-dung, not even excepting the face; and then strew ashes over themselves. They paint their breasts and foreheads with the symbolical figures of Vishnu and Shiva, and dye their ragged hair dark reddish brown. It is not easy to imagine anything more disgusting and repulsive than these priests. They wander about all the streets, preaching and doing whatever they fancy; they are, however, far less respected than the martyrs.

One of the gentlemen whose acquaintance I made in Benares, was so obliging as to communicate to me some information as to the relation of the peasants to the government. The peasant has no landed property. All the land belongs either to the English government, the East India Company, or the native princes. It is let out altogether; the principal tenants divide it into small lots, and sublet these to the peasants. The fate of the latter depends entirely upon the disposition of the principal tenant. He determines the amount of rent, and frequently demands the money at a time when the crops are not harvested, and the peasant cannot pay; the poor people are then obliged to sell the unripe crops for half their worth, and their landlord generally contrives to buy it himself in the name of another person. The unfortunate peasant frequently has scarcely a sufficiency left to keep life in himself and his family.

Laws and judges there certainly are in the country, and, as everywhere else, the laws are good and the magistrates just; but it is another question whether the poor ever receive justice. The districts are so extensive, that the peasant cannot undertake a journey of seventy or eighty miles; and even when he lives near, he cannot always reach the presence of the magistrate. The business of the latter is so great, that he cannot himself attend to the details, and generally he is the only European in office, the remaining officials consisting of Hindoos and Mahomedans, whose character - a lamentable fact - is always worse the more they come in contact with Europeans. If, therefore, the peasant comes to the court without bringing a present, he is generally turned away, his petition or complaint is not accepted or listened to; and how is he to bring a present after being deprived of everything by the landlord? The peasant knows this, and therefore seldom makes a complaint.

An Englishman (unfortunately I have forgotten his name) who travelled in India for scientific purposes, proves that the peasants have now to suffer more than formerly under their native princes.

In India, under the so-called "free English government," I found a sad proof that the position of the slaves in Brazil is better than that of the free peasants here. The slave there has not to provide for any of his wants, and he is never burdened with too much work, as the interest of his master would then suffer; for a slave costs seven or eight hundred gulders (70 or 80 pounds), and it is to the interest of his owner that he should be well treated, that he may be longer of service. It cannot be denied that there are cases in which the slaves are tyrannically treated, but this is extremely rare.

Several German and English missionaries reside in the neighbourhood of Benares, and go constantly to the town to preach. At one of these missionary establishments is a Christian village, which contains more than twenty Hindoo families. Nevertheless, Christianity makes scarcely any advance. {173} I inquired of each of the missionaries how many Hindoos or Mahomedans they had baptized in the course of their labours: generally they said, "None;" very seldom, "One." The above mentioned families result from the year 1831, when nearly the whole of India was ravaged by cholera, nervous fever, or famine; the people died, and many children remained orphans, wandering about without a home. The missionaries took these, and brought them up in the Christian religion. They were instructed in all kinds of trades, were housed, married, and their whole maintenance provided for. The descendants of these families are continually educated by the missionaries, and strictly watched: as to new converts, however, there are unfortunately none.

I was present at several examinations: the boys and girls seemed to have been taught well to read, write, reckon, and were well acquainted with religion and geography. The girls were clever embroiderers, they did needle-work very well, and sewed all kinds of things; the boys and men made tables, carpets, bound books, printed, etc. The director and professor of this excellent establishment is the missionary, Mr. Luitpold; his wife has the superintendence of the girls. The whole is sensibly and intelligently arranged and conducted; Mr. and Mrs. Luitpold attend to their proteges with true Christian love. But what are a few drops in an immeasurable sea?