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more pressing than ever. The financial embarrassment was
extreme. Hastings had to find the means, not only of carrying on
the government of Bengal, but of maintaining a most costly war
against both Indian and European enemies in the Carnatic, and of
making remittances to England. A few years before this time he
had obtained relief by plundering the Mogul and enslaving the
Rohillas; nor were the resources of his fruitful mind by any
means exhausted.

His first design was on Benares, a city which in wealth, popula-
tion, dignity, and sanctity, was among the foremost of Asia. It
was commonly believed that half a million of human beings was
crowded into that labyrinth of lofty alleys, rich with shrines, and
minarets, and balconies, and carved oriels, to which the sacred apes
clung by hundreds. The traveller could scarcely make his way
through the press of holy mendicants and not less holy bulls. The
broad and stately flights of steps which descended from these
swarming haunts to the bathing-places along the Ganges were
worn every day by the footsteps of an innumerable multitude of
worshippers. The schools and temples drew crowds of pious
Hindoos from every province where the Brahminical faith was
known. Hundreds of devotees came thither every month to die:
for it was believed that a peculiarly happy fate awaited the man
who should pass from the sacred city into the sacred river. Nor
was superstition the only motive which allured strangers to that
great metropolis. Commerce had as many pilgrims as religion.
All along the shores of the venerable stream lay great fleets of
vessels laden with rich merchandize. From the looms of Benares
went forth the most delicate silks that adorned the balls of
St. James’s and of Versailles; and in the bazars, the muslins
of Bengal and the sabres of Oude were mingled with the jewels
of Golconda and the shawls of Cashmere. This rich capital, and
the surrounding tract, had long been under the immediate rule
of a Hindoo prince, who rendered homage to the Mogul em-
perors. During the great anarchy of India, the lords of Benares
became independent of the court of Delhi, but were compelled
to submit to the authority of the Nabob of Oude. Oppressed by
this formidable neighbour, they invoked the protection of the
English. The English protection was given; and at length the
Nabob Vizier, by a solemn treaty, ceded all his rights over Benares

to the Company. From that time the Rajah was the vassal of the
D 4

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