the most conspicuous parts with pictures of flowers, men, women, bulls, elephants and gods and goddesses in all the many forms known in Hindu mythology.
Benares is bounded by a road which, though 50 m. in circuit, is never distant from the city more than five kos (7½ m.); hence its name, Panch-kos road. All who die within this boundary, be they Brahman or low caste, Moslem or Christian, are sure of admittance into Siva’s heaven. To tread the Panch-kos road is one of the great ambitions of a Hindu’s life. Even if he be an inhabitant of the sacred city he must traverse it once in the year to free himself from the impurities and sins contracted within the holy precincts. Thousands from all parts of India make the pilgrimage every year. Benares, having from time immemorial been a holy city, contains a vast number of Brahmans, who either subsist by charitable contributions, or are supported by endowments in the numerous religious institutions of the city. Hindu religious mendicants, with every conceivable bodily deformity, line the principal streets on both sides. Some have their legs or arms distorted by long continuance in one position; others have kept their hands clenched until the finger nails have pierced entirely through their hands. But besides an immense resort to Benares of poor pilgrims from every part of India, as well as from Tibet and Burma, numbers of rich Hindus in the decline of life go there for religious salvation. These devotees lavish large sums in indiscriminate charity, and it is the hope of sharing in such pious distributions that brings together the concourse of religious mendicants from all quarters of the country.
The city of Benares had a population in 1901 of 209,331. The European quarter lies to the west of the native town, on both sides of the river Barna. Here is the cantonment of Sikraul, no longer of much military importance, and the suburb of Sigra, the seat of the chief missionary institutions. The principal modern buildings are the Mint, the Prince of Wales’ hospital (commemorating the visit of King Edward VII. to the city in 1876) and the town hall. The Benares college, including a first-grade and a Sanskrit college, was opened in 1791, but its fine buildings date from 1852. The Central Hindu College was opened in 1898. Benares conducts a flourishing trade by rail and river with the surrounding country. It is the junction between the Oudh & Rohilkhand and East Indian railways, the Ganges being crossed by a steel girder bridge of seven spans, each 350 ft. long. The chief manufactures are silk brocades, gold and silver thread, gold filigree work, German-silver work, embossed brass vessels and lacquered toys; but the brasswork for which Benares used to be famous has greatly degenerated.
The Hindu kingdom of Benares is said to have been founded by one Kas Raja about 1200 B.C. Subsequently it became part of the kingdom of Kanauj, which in A.D. 1193 was conquered by Mahommed of Ghor. On the downfall of the Pathan dynasty of Delhi, about A.D. 1599, it was incorporated with the Mogul empire. On the dismemberment of the Delhi empire, it was seized by Safdar Jang, the nawab wazir of Oudh, by whose grandson it was ceded to the East India Company by the treaty of 1775. The subsequent history of Benares contains two important events, the rebellion of Chait Singh in 1781, occasioned by the demands of Warren Hastings for money and troops to carry on the Mahratta War, and the Mutiny of 1857, when the energy and coolness of the European officials, chiefly of General Neill, carried the district successfully through the storm.
The District of Benares extends over both sides of the Ganges and has an area of 1008 sq. m. The surface of the country is remarkably level, with numerous deep ravines in the calcareous conglomerate. The soil is a clayey or a sandy loam, and very fertile except in the Usar tracts, where there is a saline efflorescence. The principal rivers are the Ganges, Karamnasa, Gumti and Barna. The principal crops are barley, rice, wheat, other food-grains, pulse, sugar-cane and opium. The main line of the East Indian railway runs through the southern portion of the district, with a branch to Benares city; the Oudh & Rohilkhand railway through the northern portion, starting from the city; and a branch of the Bengal & North-Western railway also terminates at Benares. The climate of Benares is cool in winter but very warm in the hot season. The population in 1901 was 882,084, showing a decrease of 4% in the decade due to the effects of famine.
The Division of Benares has an area of 10,431 sq. m., and comprises the districts of Benares, Mirzapur, Jaunpur, Ghazipur and Ballia. In 1901 the population was 5,069,020, showing a decrease of 6% in the decade.
See E. B. Havell, Benares (1906); M. A. Sherring, The Sacred City of the Hindus (1868).
BENBOW, JOHN (1653-1702), English admiral, the son of a tanner in Shrewsbury, was born in 1653. He went to sea when very young, and served in the navy as master’s mate and master, from 1678 to 1681. When trading to the Mediterranean in 1686 in a ship of his own he beat off a Salli pirate. On the accession of William III. he re-entered the navy as a lieutenant and was rapidly promoted. It is probable that he enjoyed the protection of Arthur Herbert, earl of Torrington, under whom he had already served in the Mediterranean. After taking part in the bombardment of St Malo (1693), and superintending the blockade of Dunkirk (1696), he sailed in 1698 for the West Indies, where he compelled the Spaniards to restore two vessels belonging to the Scottish colonists at Darien (see Paterson, William) which they had seized. On his return he was appointed vice-admiral, and was frequently consulted by the king. In 1701 he was sent again to the West Indies as commander-in-chief. On the 19th of August 1702, when cruising with a squadron of seven ships, he sighted, and chased, four French vessels commanded by M. du Casse near Santa Marta. The engagement is the most disgraceful episode in English naval history. Benbow’s captains were mutinous, and he was left unsupported in his flagship the “Breda.” His right leg was shattered by a chain-shot, despite which he remained on the quarter-deck till morning, when the flagrant disobedience of the captains under him, and the disabled condition of his ship, forced him reluctantly to abandon the chase. After his return to Jamaica, where his subordinates were tried by court-martial, he died of his wounds on the 4th of November 1702. A great deal of legendary matter has collected round his name, and his life is really obscure.
See Yonge’s Hist. of the British Navy, vol. i.; Campbell’s British Admirals, vol. iii.; also Owen and Blakeway’s History of Shrewsbury.
BENCE-JONES, HENRY (1814-1873), English physician and chemist, was born at Thorington Hall, Suffolk, in 1814, the son of an officer in the dragoon guards. He was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge. Subsequently he studied medicine at St George’s hospital, and chemistry at University College, London. In 1841 he went to Giessen in Germany to work at chemistry with Liebig. Besides becoming a fellow, and afterwards senior censor, of the Royal College of Physicians, and a fellow of the Royal Society, he held the post of secretary to the Royal Institution for many years. In 1846 he was elected physician to St George’s hospital. He died in London on the 20th of April 1873. Dr Bence-Jones was a recognized authority on diseases of the stomach and kidneys. He wrote, in addition to several scientific books and a number of papers in scientific periodicals, The Life and Letters of Faraday (1870).
BENCH (an O. E. and Eng. form of a word common to Teutonic languages, cf. Ger. Bank, Dan. baenk and the Eng. doublet “bank”), a long narrow wooden seat for several persons, with or without a back. While the chair was yet a seat of state or dignity the bench was ordinarily used by the commonalty. It is still extensively employed for other than domestic purposes, as in schools, churches and places of amusement. Bench or Banc, in law, originally was the seat occupied by judges in court; hence the term is used of a tribunal of justice itself, as the King’s Bench, the Common Bench, and is now applied to judges or magistrates collectively as the “judicial bench,” “bench of magistrates.” The word is also applied to any seat where a number of people sit in an official capacity, or as equivalent to the dignity itself, as “the civic bench,” the “bench of aldermen,” the “episcopal bench,” the “front bench,” i.e. that reserved for the leaders of either party in the British House of Commons. King’s Bench