[But let us return to the prisoner in the dock] I have said that the Secretary is clever, scornful, jocose, imperfectly sinful, and nimble with his pen. I shall only add that he has succeeded in catching the tone of the Imperial Bumbledom; and then I shall have finished my defence.
This tone is an affectation of aesthetic and literary sympathies, combined with a proud disdain of everything Indian and Anglo-Indian.
The flotsam and jetsam of advanced European thought are eagerly sought and treasured up. “The New Republic” and “The Epic of Hades” are on every drawing-room table. One must speak of nothing but the latest doings at the Gaiety, the pictures of the last Academy, the ripest outcome of scepticism in the Nineteenth Century, or the aftermath in the Fortnightly. If I were to talk to our Secretariat man about the harvest prospects of the Deckan, the beauty of the Himalayan scenery, or the book I have just published in Calcutta about the Rent Law, he would stare at me with feigned surprise and horror.
thinks of his own native land,
In a moment he seems to be there;
But, alas! Ali Baba at hand
Soon hurries him back to despair.”
H.E. THE BENGALI BABOO
[Illustration: THE BENGALI BABOO—“Full of inappropriate words and phrases.”]
[September 13, 1879.]
The ascidian[B] that got itself evolved into Bengali Baboos must have seized the first moment of consciousness and thought to regret the step it had taken; for however much we may desire to diffuse Babooism over the Empire, we must all agree that the Baboo itself is a subject for tears.
The other day, as I was strolling down the Mall, whistling Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, I met the Bengali Baboo. It was returning from office. I asked it if it had a soul. It replied that it had not, but some day it hoped to pass the matriculation examination of the Calcutta University. I whistled the opening bars of one of Cherubini’s Requiems, but I saw no resurrection in its eye, so I passed on.
[I have just procured an adult specimen of the Bengali Baboo (it was originally the editor of the Calcutta Moonshine), and I have engaged an embryologist, on board wages, to examine and report upon it.
I once found George Bassoon weeping profusely over a dish of artichokes. I was a little surprised, for there was a bottle close at hand and he had a book in his hand. I took the book. It was not Boccaccio; it was not Rabelais; it was not even Swinburne. I felt that something must be wrong. I turned to the title-page. I found it was a poem printed for private circulation by the Government of India. It was called “The Anthropomorphous Baboo subtilised into Man.”]