[August 30, 1879.]
He is clever, I am told, and being clever he has to be rather morose in manner and careless in dress, or people might forget that he was clever. He has always been clever. He was the clever man of his year. He was so clever when he first came out that he could never learn to ride, or speak the language, and had to be translated to the Provincial Secretariat. But though he could never speak an intelligible sentence in the language, he had such a practical and useful knowledge of it, in half-a-dozen of its dialects, that he could pass examinations in it with the highest credit, netting immense rewards. He thus became not only more and more clever, but more and more solvent; until he was an object of wonder to his contemporaries, of admiration to the Lieutenant-Governor, and of desire to several Burra Mem Sahibs[A] with daughters. It was about this time that he is supposed to have written an article published in some English periodical. It was said to be an article of a solemn description, and report magnified the periodical into the Quarterly Review. So he became one who wrote for the English Press. It was felt that he was a man of letters; it was assumed that he was on terms of familiar correspondence with all the chief literary men of the day. With so conspicuous a reputation, he believed it necessary to do something in religion. So he gave up religion, and allowed it to be understood that he was a man of advanced views: a Positivist, a Buddhist, or something equally occult. Thus he became ripe for the highest employment, and was placed successively on a number of Special Commissions. He inquired into everything; he wrote hundredweights of reports; he proved himself to have the true paralytic ink flux, precisely the kind of wordy discharge or brain haemorrhage required of a high official in India. He would write ten pages where a clod-hopping collector would write a sentence. He could say the same thing over and over again in a hundred different ways. The feeble forms of official satire were at his command. [He could bray ironically at subordinate officers. He had the inborn arrogance required for official “snubbing.” Being without a ray of good feeling or modesty, he could allow himself to write with ceremonial rudeness of men who in his inmost heart he knew to be in every way his superiors.] He desired exceedingly to be thought supercilious, and he thus became almost necessary to the Government of India, was canonised, and caught up to Simla. The Indian papers chanted little anthems, “the Services” said “Amen,” and the apotheosis was felt to be a success. On reaching Simla he was found to be familiar with the two local “jokes,” planted many years ago by some jackass. One of these “jokes” is about everything in India having its peculiar smell, except a flower; the second is some inanity about the Indian Government being a despotism of despatch-boxes tempered by the loss of the keys. He often emitted these mournful “jokes” until he was declared to be an acquisition to Simla society.