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NOTRE DAME DE LA GARDE.
Occasional persecutions broke out in the provinces long after Paris had become tolerant. Writing from Lyons in July, 1769, Voltaire says : “ There are in the Kingdom of France about 300,000 fools, whom other fools treat cruelly. They are sent to the galleys or hanged for the crime of praying to God in bad French in the open air. And it is characteristic of my
nation that we know nothing of all this at Paris, where we are fully occupied with the Opéra Comique and the intrigues of Versailles.” . Previous to the Revolution there were several hundred Protestants in Marseilles, some of them taking a prominent place as citizens. One of them, Louis Liquier, was a deputy to the States-General in 1789.
To the south of the town, and conspicuously overlooking it from the summit of a hill 500 feet above the sea-level, rises the restored Church of Notre Dame de la Garde. The hill was anciently covered with a dense forest, in the midst of which the Druids celebrated their mysteries. In the tenth century there stood upon this bill a tower, which was then some 400
age of invasion and piracy, and there was much in Marseilles to tempt the cupidity of robbers. A strict watch over sea and land was kept from this elevated spot, and so both tower and hill obtained the name of La Garde. The hill formed part of the possessions of the Abbey of St. Victor, and in 1214 Abbot William ceded it to a monk named Peter. This good man built a chapel beside the tower, and very naturally named it La Chapelle de Notre Dame de la Garde; and it subsequently became an object of great veneration with the people of Marseilles. Francis I. built a fort here in 1525, and included the chapel within its walls. Other forts were subsequently constructed for the defence of Marseilles, and La Garde seems to have lost all importance in a military point of view. The governorship became a sinecure, and was once occupied by Scudery, whom Boileau so unmercifully satirised. Scudery obtained the office through the influence of Madame de Rambouillet.
The chapel, after being once or twice rebuilt, has been superseded by a splendid modern erection in the Romano-Byzantine style. The portal is surmounted by a quadrangular tower in several stages, terminating in a lantern, upon the summit of which stands a colossal statue of the Virgin. The interior is sumptuously decorated with white Carrara marble, red African marble, mural paintings, &c. The columns of the transept are of green marble from the Alps. Below the chapel is a crypt, with mosaic pavement. The total cost of the building, which was consecrated in June, 1864, was 3,000,000 francs, raised partly by a lottery and partly by subscriptions.
Within the chapel, which for ages has been a place of pilgrimage to Mediterranean sailors and fishermen, there is a highly-venerated and very antique effigy of the Virgin, carved in olive-wood. The ceilings and walls are hung with ex votos, pious offerings commemorating deliverances from all sorts of dangers by sea and land. Though for the most part wretched daubs, they are exceedingly curious. In one, the Virgin, with the visage and demeanour of a flying mermaid, is seen appearing to a ship in a storm. Others are painfully realistic representations of surgical operations, street accidents, drownings, and explosions. Models of ships, crutches, broken ropes, and other mementoes of distressing occurrences abound. From the rocks at the foot of the chapel the view is very fine, embracing the fair valley of the Rhone; the white houses of Marseilles stretching away up the plain ; the grey mountains of Spain in the far distance ; the dazzling blue of the sea; the dark
Barrackpore is known to English readers as the station at which the signs of coming trouble were first observed, rather than as the place where the Viceregal Lodge is situated, in a charming park, to which the Viceroy usually flies from the turmoils of Government House on Saturdays, returning on Mondays after a quiet day in the country. There is a church near at hand, and a large population of officials, who can afford to pay
, high rents for their bungalows, are quartered on the banks of the river, at the other side of which is Serampore. In the noble park, the bombax, the casuarinas hung with creepers, the calabash, and many other trees, with the ordinary types of Bengal vegetation, are seen in great beauty. “ Times are changed since 1857,” says Dr. Russell, “and
” Barrackpore has ceased to be a great station.” Not far from the Viceregal Lodge is the tumb of Lady Canning, in one of the most lovely spots on the river ; her remains were long since removed to England.
Opposite Barrackpore, on the west bank of the river, is Serampore, once a Danish settlement, the site of the Baptist College and the scene of the labours of Carey, Marshman, and Ward. “Carey landed at Calcutta in 1793, and after some struggles for subsistence set up a printing-press. His colleagues came in 1797; and they would all have been re-shipped by the authorities had they not found refuge at Serampore under the protection of the Danish flag. The college is a substantial building with a noble staircase, and possesses a fine library, in which is an interesting collection of Bibles in Oriental languages, and some valuable manuscripts. One of Carey's, a polyglot dictionary of Sanscrit words, with the corresponding words in six languages, is beautifully written, and shows the toil and perseverance of its author. The burial-ground is about half a mile distant, where lie the mortal remains of Carey, Ward, and Marshman."
William Carey, the Northamptonshire shoemaker, led the van of missionary enterprise in India; for forty years he laboured in that cause, and he realised his own well-known maxims, "Attempt great things for God;” “Expect great things from God.”
At Aldeen, on the river-side, at no great distance from the church in which Carey preached, stood the pagoda in which the justly-celebrated Henry Martyn took up his abode on his arrival in India, in 1806, and where he spent much of his time in mastering Hindustani and in translating portions of the Scriptures.
Calcutta is a great city, and it of course possesses colleges and libraries, public buildings, institutions, and societies in addition to those already alluded to— political, social, educational, and literary ; but they are societies such as are for the most part to be found in all cities under similar conditions. The most wonderful thing about Calcutta is the fact that only a little more than a hundred years ago “all that was English within many miles of Government House was represented by a handful of fugitives from the fort of Calcutta ere it fell into the hands of Surajah Dowlah, embarked in a few small vessels off Fulta, awaiting anxiously the arrival of Clive from Madras, to avenge the Black Hole, and, as it turned out, to win Plassy and to found an empire.”
Without attempting to describe the routes conducting thither, we shall now proceed to give some account of the most noted cities of North-West India which are connected with Calcutta by the water of the Ganges and its various branches.
THE OLD CAPITAL OF BENGAL.
Upon the branch of the Ganges known as the Bhágirathi stands Murshidabad, which till 1772 was the capital of Bengal—a grand city, stretching five miles along the river-banks, and two and a half miles broad on each side. Long after decay had set in it contained, in 1815, a population of 165,000, a number which has since dwindled to 16,000. It is now a confused assemblage of mosques, temples, handsome brick houses, gardens, banks, walled enclosures, hovels, huts, and tangled jungle. Since Murshid Kulí Khan made it the seat of Government and called it after his own name in 1704, the Nawab of Bengal has resided here, but it lost importance when Lord Cornwallis made Calcutta the capital in 1790. The Nawab Nizam dwells in a palace on the river-bank, near the centre of the city, 425 feet long by 200 wide and 80 high, a noble building in the Italian style, completed in 1837 at a cost of £167,000. A splendid marble floor and sliding doors encased in mirrors are among the adornments of this magnificent hall. From the central dome hangs a superb chandelier of 150 branches presented to the Nawab by Queen Victoria. Beneath it stands the throne, a unique specimen of the ivory-work for which Murshidabad is renowned. The Imámbára, or House of Prayer, is a fine structure occupying the site of one reared by Surajah Dowlah, of “Black Hole” memory, a wretch whose foul crimes need not be recited in these pages. The Nizamat College is exclusively reserved for the education of the Nawab's numerous relatives. Not far from the city is Motijhíl, or the Pearl Lake, where Surajah Dowlah built himself a glorious palace, of which a few black marble arches still remain. Hence he set out to be defeated at Plassy. Here were the vaults piled with gold and silver, and rubies and diamonds, from which Clive helped himself to only £250,000, and, when accused of it in after-years, was “astonished at his own moderation”! Motijhíl became the home of the English Political Resident at the Court of Murshidabad, in which capacity it was inhabited by Warren Hastings. On the opposite bank of the Bhágirathi lies Khush Bágh, the Garden of Happiness, the old cemetery of the Nawabs, with its tombs and gardens. Here, beside the tombs of her murdered husband and his illustrious ancestors, dwelt the widow of Surajah Dowlah; and her descendants (pensioners of the English Government) still have charge of the cemetery, spreading spangled palls on the tombs, strewing fresh flowers, and attending to the constantly burning lights. The Kuttara, a mosque containing the tomb of Murshid Kulí Khan, erected by forced Hindu labour, was just outside the city. This potentate used to introduce live cats into the trousers of defaulting Zemindars. He was in a terrible hurry to have his tomb ready in time, and Hindu temples were freely destroyed for materials, and Hindu travellers forced to descend from their palkees and work. The grand pile, seventy feet square, a mosque and seminary of Mussulman learning, was finished in six months. Two splendid minarets once rose to a height of seventy feet; but the whole is now a mass of ruins.
Murshidabad still does a considerable trade. Its merchants almost monopolise the traffic on the Brahmaputra as far as the frontier of Assam, and deal largely in gold and silver. Its artificers are very clever as ivory-carvers, embroiderers, silk-weavers, and makers of hookahs and musical instruments. The growth of these specialities has of course been fostered by the presence of a lavishly luxurious native court. The peculiar strains of the old imperial music which the emperors at Delhi permitted their deputy governors to use, are still heard at early morning sounding from the palace portals. But idle luxury and outward show are all that remain of the royal pomp and splendour of Murshidabad. In the Imámbára, at the festival of the Muharram, and upon the waters of the river at the annual Raft Festival in honour of the prophet Elias, when thousands of tiny rafts with burning lamps float down the stream-upon these and similar grand occasions the Nawab displays the old magnificence, and revives the memory of departed days; but the dominion that once extended over Bengal, Behar, and Orissa is now bounded by the Killa, or palace enclosure, half a mile in circumference.
The densely populated and disgustingly dirty city of Patna, the capital of Behar, extends its vast districts, intermingled with gardens and marshes, for about eight miles along the right bank of the Ganges. The principal street, of varying width, runs parallel to the river, and at right angles to it are innumerable narrow lanes. It contains a population of about 312,000. Its commerce is very considerable, but its special attractions are few. It is identified with Palibrotha, the capital of the Mauryas emperors—the city to which ambassadors were sent by the successors of Alexander. But the great straggling town possesses nothing to suggest its high antiquity. Tasteless brick buildings, mingled with paltry bamboo huts, line the sides of its small, dirty bazaars. Everywhere vegetation is rampant; palm-trees flourish on every available spot, and creeping plants hide the roofs of the houses with their festoons. Patna contains few monuments. There is an ugly pillar of brick and stone, in memory of the 200 British prisoners massacred in 1763 by order of Cassim Ali, the expatriated Nawab of Bengal.
Four hundred and twenty-one miles north-west of Calcutta, and about a hundred and twenty miles below the junction of the Ganges and the Jumna, stands the sacred city of Benares: a city that has known thirty centuries of uninterrupted splendour, and toward which, at the present time, five hundred millons of men-Brahminists in India, and Buddhists in Ceylon, Indo-China, China, and Thibet—look with earnest reverence. Its contemporaries, Nineveh and Babylon, have passed away, but Benares still flourishes, to link the modern with the ancient world. From the earliest days of Aryan colonisation, a city existed here or hereabouts. Ancient Váránasí (since corrupted into Benares) had been regarded as the most sacred city of the Hindu creed long before Gautama Buddha came, in the sixth century before Christ, to proclaim the equality, in the sight of God, of man and woman, noble and slave, beggar and priest, and to teach that by charity, virtue, and purity all might gain eternal life. Benares became the great city of Buddhism, and temples, convents, and splendid monuments arose, to which for eight centuries the votaries of Buddha flocked from all parts of India and China, and the adjacent lands. But Brahminism gradually regained its supremacy, and in the ninth century of the Christian era stamped out the rival faith with fire and sword. In 1194 Mohammed Ghori took Benares, and for 600 years various Mussulman dynasties held it; the larger temples were converted into mosques or tombs ;
" THE HOLY CITY."
owner is pleased to give them some fruit or sweet meats. Over-feeding has made them
. unwieldy and little prone to mischief.” Pilgrims abound in the streets, also beggars and pickpockets. Now and then a marriage procession comes along, with camels and musicians, sweeping everything before it. Then, with shouts of “God is Truth !” a few relatives of the deceased hurry past with a corpse to the burning ghát. The crowds flocking to the temples and sacred wells, or passing in and out of the suffocating little shops, mingle with the camels and elephants and bulls in the streets, and produce a coup-dæil that only Benares can show. Hideous-looking devotees, male and female, with foul tangled hair and twisted limbs, whine for alms. But their days are numbered; young India is getting disgusted with these exhibitions, and secretly longs for the police to interfere. From their balconies, especially towards evening, the well-to-do inhabitants, arrayed in spangled robes, look down upon the motley scene. On the roofs of many of the tall houses are pleasant retreats where, amidst plants and flowers, the rich spend many hours of the day, and sleep at night in small wooden chambers open to the breeze.
Benares, as the Holy City, has every nook and corner associated with some power. It swarms with shrines and temples. They were again and again levelled by the Muslim invader, but have again and again risen ; and the city now contains 1,454 temples, besides innumerable shrines and sacred wells. The idols, which abound in private houses as well as in the sacred edifices, are said to outnumber the inhabitants three or four times over. Brahminism in the course of ages has had many developments. The supreme deity, Brahma, became by personification of the principles of creation, preservation, and destruction, the triad Brahma, Vishnu, and Síva. The elements and planets were worshipped, and departed heroes and saints, and tutelary gods were imagined for every natural phenomenon and every phase of life, until the Hindu pantheon has been calculated to contain no less than 330 millions of divinities. Síva is the god paramount of Benares, but there are swarms of others. A pilgrim, on arrival, is expected to ring the sacred bell at the shrine of Binayaki, whose duty it is to record pilgrimages. Tarakeswar is the cheerer of the dying ; Alprmteswar is the averter of death ; Annupurna is the provider of food; Bhaironáth is the divine watchman and magistrate, appointed by Síva to keep guard over everything in Benares. He has a famous temple near the public garden, and in a separate shrine close by is his stone club, four feet in length.
But the Bisheswar, or Golden Temple, dedicated to Síva, is the holiest of the holy places in Benares. It contains a Lingam of uncarved stone, the venerated symbol of the god. The temple is neither great nor grand, but the central spire and domes are covered with gold-leaf, the gift of Runjeet Singh. Crowds of devotees perpetually bring offerings to this shrine; more than 100,000 have attended on the day of an eclipse. To adore this object
once in a lifetime is considered sufficient to insure an entry into Paradise. Beside the · building is a columned shrine covering a narrow well full of greenish fætid water. This
well is the Gayan Bowree, the Source of Wisdom. A Brahmin draws the filthy liquid, and dispenses it to the worshippers. The well is said to have been formed by the drops that fell to earth when Síva too hastily quaffed the immense bowl of amrîta over which the gods were disputing. There are numerous holy wells in Benares, amongst them the Kalkup, or Well of Fate, which gives knowledge of the future; the Munikurnika, or