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SCENE ON THE MAIDAN.
The scene is well described by a recent writer thus: “Every afternoon, a little before sunset, the native and European gentry of Calcutta meet there on horseback or in carriages, to air their dignity and survey each other, according to Indian custom. That strange gathering of the lieges in circulating motion altogether eclipses in sparkle and variety such displays as those of Hyde Park or the Champs Elysées. The preponderance of military decorations on the one side, and of native tinsel on the other, convert the meeting into a gilded spectacle. Here, radiant with gold-broidered skull-cap, silken pantaloons, dashing cummerbund, and woof of chains, appear Bengal fashionables astride welltrained chargers or lolling in elegant equipages. Many handsome vehicles, with attendants in a variety of liveries, perambulate the ‘Course,' bearing English groups of
* City ladies, pale and splendid,
or wealthy Mobammedan or Hindu families, arrayed in silk and velvet, far transcending in fashionable exterior our nearer kinsmen, the Eurasians, who go the round seated in their humbler buggie, or packed in family parties within the cover of a one-horse gharry.” The races do not mingle; ex-ministers or deposed princes roll past in their barouches, the pride of state unextinguished by defeat and misfortune. Among such notabilities are to be seen the Sikh Sirdars, seated in their carriages,
CALCUTTA WATER-CARRIERS. each drawn by four splendid horses, and gracefully attired in white and pink dresses of fine muslin, their broad intelligent faces, adorned with trim black beards and whiskers, contrasting forcibly with their somewhat effeminate costume.
Adjoining the Maidan is the European quarter of Chowringhee, with its broad, handsome streets, and elegant buildings. These buildings are for the most part low, detached, and abounding in pillared colonnades, verandahs, and porches, and are clustered among shrubs and flowers and shaded by forest trees, so as to give the appearance of summer-houses in some vast park.
Upon the Maidan, and near the river-bank, stands the mighty citadel of Fort William. The old fortress of that name, in which the “Black Hole” tragedy was enacted, stood farther
The people were exasperated, and a severe struggle ensued, only terminated by the consuls withdrawing and concealing the mousquetaires. The grand mass had to be hurried through, and amidst a scene of popular disorder the queen reached her temporary home, from
a which she soon afterwards set out for Paris.
At the end of the Rue Sainte, on the south of the Old Harbour, stands the Church of St. Victor, of which the crypt and substructures date from the fifth century. The two square battlemented towers were built by Pope Urban in 1350. That Pontiff, whose remains were subsequently interred here, had formerly been abbot of the adjacent monastery of St. Victor, a famous religious house, which in the Middle Ages amassed great riches, bore sway over numerous vassals, and whose seigniorial rites extended far and wide. It was in the year 410 that the Abbey of St. Victor was founded, and the first church built on this site, by St. Cassian. Scythia, Africa, Athens, Rome, all claim St. Cassian as a native. He adopted the religious life at Bethlehem, spent seven years in a solitary hermitage in the Thebaid, afterwards performed various services for the Church at Constantinople, where he was ordained a priest by the celebrated John Chrysostom, and then passed to Marseilles. Here he found the bones of St. Victor in the grotto consecrated to the faith by the little gatherings of the earliest converts, near a wood that in still earlier days had been a sacred grove of the Druids, and a scene of human sacrifices. He built his abbey and instituted a fraternity long renowned for its pious austerity, and afterwards for its affluence and power. At the Saracen invasion of 923, the monks were slain or dispersed, and indeed the abbey and church were several times destroyed and re-constructed. It is said that the catacombs beneath the church once extended under the harbour to the opposite shore, and that St. Lazarus and St. Victor were buried in them. Here was kept the celebrated Vierge Noire (attributed to St. Luke), whose chief office it was to supply rain in time of drought. Crowds assembled to behold it decked out in gay robes and silver diadem at Candlemas.
The annual festival of St. Victor was formerly one of the great events of the year to the populace of Marseilles, associated as it was with the grand cavalcade known as the “Cours du Capitaine de St. Victor.” The Capitaine, who was chosen from an assembly of the nobility of the province, convened by the consuls, needed to be endowed with a goodly share of superfluous riches, as upon him fell a large proportion of the costs of the subsequent proceedings. On the eve of the festival there was a grand procession. The captains of the quarters, with their companies, with drums beating and banners flying, marched in advance. Then followed the Capitaine de St. Victor, attired as a mediæval chevalier, and carried by a gallant war-steed, with bright glittering harness, caparisoned in white damask and gorgeously adorned. Before him were borne the arms of the abbey and the arms of the city, and he was attended by gaily-dressed pages and cavaliers, bearing flambeaux. Then followed a brilliant cavalcade of young gentlemens the flower of Provence, in squadrons of different colours, and all arrayed in costume, of the richest and most elegant description. Such was the procession that amidst the plaudits of the multitude made its way through the city, and gave a foretaste of the splendours of the morrow.
On the following morning the Capitaine crossed the Old Port on horseback by means
NOTRE DAME DES ACCOULES.
of a temporary bridge of boats. Forth from the Abbey of St. Victor came twelve deacons in albs and dalmaticas, with palm-branches in their hands, and with crowns of flowers on their heads, bearing the relics of the saint. Amidst a display of sacerdotal magnificence, they bore their precious charge to a throne of rich stuffs erected on the centre of the bridge, whilst the artillery thundered from the ramparts and from the ships in the harbour, and from the entire city rose a mingled clamour of drums and trumpets and bells, and the acclamations of the excited people. Then the Capitaine de St. Victor, with the relics and their priestly guardians, with the consuls in their red robes, with councillors and chief citizens all in gala dresses, in addition to the martial and knightly cavalcade with which he swept through the streets on the previous evening, made the circuit of the city. The streets were gaily decorated with flowers and garlands, and made pleasant with sweet herbs—and of some such deodorisation the streets of Old Marseilles always stood in need. Here and there were tastefully improvised triumphal arches, and as the procession passed along, from the windows and balconies, tenanted by a long array of Provençal beauties, there was a rain of flowers, especially as the sacred relics passed by. A grand feast at the abbey closed the day's proceedings. The annual procession was kept up till the middle of the seventeenth century, but a mere travesty of the proceedings, in which money was collected instead of being lavishly spent, lasted till 1727, when the Capitaine de St. Victor rode for the last time through the streets of Marseilles.
A small round chapel with a tall clock-tower represents the once celebrated Church of Notre Dame des Accoules, the finest Gothic edifice in the city, said to have been built on the site of a Temple of Apollo. It contained the tombs of many distinguished citizens of Marseilles, and amongst its curiosities was the noted crucifix on which the effigy of our Lord, life-size, was clad in a mitre and blue sacerdotal robes. Before the church-doors in early times justice was publicly administered. To the sacred edifice, on New Year's Day and other festivals, came the consuls and chief citizens, to take part in grand ceremonials. It was also the scene of the fêtes and solemnities of that strange turbulent confraternity of attorneys' clerks known as the Basoche. The Church des Accoules is associated with the story of the curé Louis Ganfridi, who for sorcery and other abominations was burnt in the Place des Précheurs in 1611. During the Middle Ages, and far up into the seventeenth century, the Provençal mind nourished a frenzy of superstition about evil spirits and sorcerers. The Devil's Well, in the cloisters of St. Nicholas, with the alleged marks of his claws in the acanthus-leaves at the margin, the Devil's Fountain, the Devil's Oven, the Sorcerer's Grotto, the Devil's Mill, and other places in and near Marseilles with reputed infernal associations, all bear witness to the times when men's imaginations were full of wizards and loup-garous, and all sorts of delirious dreams.
But to return for a moment to the Church des Accoules. After serving for a time as the seat of a popular tribunal appointed by the Sections, it was ordered to be destroyed in May, 1794. The tower was spared, and is the representative of the several times rebuilt tower of Sauveterre, whose great bell sounded the retraite. It was re-constructed in 1856.
The Church of Notre Dame de Mont Carmel, in the Old City, displays nothing very remarkable, except its lofty roof and a few sculptures. The monks of Mont Carmel, driven from the Holy Land by the infidels, about 12-10 established themselves in a number of But there are numerous bazaars of another kind, with their “long rows of confined shops packed closely together like the eells of a beehive, and filled with all the handiwork of Europe and Asia, where prosperous traders, squatting patiently throughout the day on earthen floors in dusty dens, live and die without a thought of turning their means to those purposes in life which are to the world at large the grand stimulus to industry—the golden future of toil."
Calcutta possesses an Anglican Cathedral, numerous Protestant and Roman Catholic churches, one Greek church, one Armenian church, a Jewish synagogue, about 160 Hindu temples and pagodas, and 74 Mohammedan mosques. “But," as Bishop Heber remarks, “there is absolutely not a single minaret in Calcutta. None of the mosques are seen in any general view of Calcutta, being too small, too low, and built in too obscure corners to be visible till one is close upon them. They rather resemble, indeed, the tombs of saints than places of public worship, such as are seen in Persia, Turkey, and the south of Russia. Though diminutive, however, many of them are pretty; and the sort of EasternGothic style in which they are built is to my eye, though trained up to the reverence of the pure English style, extremely pleasing.” Calcutta also contains a Parsee " Agiaree," or “Temple of the Sacred Fire," and one or two Chinese temples.
There are cemeteries used by the Europeans and Jews, and also a Parsee “ Temple of Silence," but the Hindus still adhere to their ancient practice of cremation. For this purpose there are
Burning Ghâts” on the river-side, walled in on three sides nearest the town; here the bodies of the dead are burnt to ashes. At one time the poor threw their dead into the river, but in order to stop this practice Government was compelled to provide gratuitous accommodation for cremation, for the benefit of those who could not otherwise afford to secure the rite for their dead, and who had considered the committal of the dead (and sometimes of the dying) to the sacred river as a satisfactory equivalent.
On the western bank of the Hooghly, opposite the citadel of Fort William, is the splendid Botanic Garden, covering 300 acres, and containing beautiful specimens of the Mauritius, the talipot, the sago, and other palms, a large variety of crotons, an enormous banyan-tree with a girth of eighteen yards, whose branches and descending roots extend to a circumference of 300 yards, besides a collection of nearly all the vegetable products of India, as well as a vast number of plants from Europe, Africa, and America.
Of the spread and progress of Christianity in India it is not necessary that we should speak here; but no visitor to Calcutta can pass through the city without being struck with the number of institutions, charitable, educational, and religious, which owe their origin to the labours of eminent Christian men. St. John's Church remains as memorial of the life and labours of Bishop Wilson. In Cornwallis Street is the Scottish Church, where the zealous Dr. Duff laboured ; in Cornwallis Square is the College which he first founded, now in the hands of the Scottish Established Church; near it is the Free Church College, afterwards built by Dr. Duff, in which he taught for many years. Dr. Alexander Duff was the greatest Christian reformer of his age in India ; he adopted a different method of instruction from that of any of his predecessors, his object being to "lay the foundation of a system of education which might ultimately embrace all the branches ordinarily taught in the higher schools and colleges of Christian Europe, but in inseparable