It was either Sir Andrew Clarke, Sir Alexander Arbuthnot, or Sir Some-one-else, who understands all about these things, that first told me of the tendency to Baboo worship in England at present. I immediately took steps, when I heard of it, to capitalise my pension and purchase gold mines in the Wynaad and shares in the Simla Bank. (Colonel Peterson, of the Simla Fencibles, supported me gallantly in this latter resolution.) The notion of so dreadful a form of fetishism establishing itself in one’s native land is repugnant to the feelings even of those who have been rendered callous to such things by seats in the Bengal Legislative Council. [I refuse to believe that the Zoological Society has lent its apiary to this movement. It must have been a spelling-bee your informant was thinking of.
Talking of monkey-houses reminds me of] Sir George Campbell, who took such an interest in the development of the Baboo, and the selection of the fittest for Government employment. He taught them in debating-clubs the various modes of conducting irresponsible parliamentary chatter; and he tried to encourage pedestrianism and football to evolve their legs and bring them into something like harmony with their long pendant arms. You can still see a few of Sir George’s leggy Baboos coiled up in corners of lecture-rooms at Calcutta. The Calcutta Cricket Club used to employ one as permanent “leg.” [The Indian Turf Club used to keep a professional “leg,” but now there are so many amateurs it is not required.]
It is the future of Baboodom I tremble for. When they wax fat with new religions, music, painting, Comedie Anglaise, scientific discoveries, they may kick with those developed legs of theirs, until we shall have to think that they are something more than a joke, more than a mere lusus naturae, more than a caricature moulded by the accretive and differentiating impulses of the monad[C] in a moment of wanton playfulness. The fear is that their tendencies may infect others. The patent-leather shoes, the silk umbrellas, the ten thousand horse-power English words and phrases, and the loose shadows of English thought, which are now so many Aunt Sallies for all the world to fling a jeer at, might among other races pass into dummy soldiers, and from dummy soldiers into trampling, hope-bestirred crowds, and so on, out of the province of Ali Baba and into the columns of serious reflection. Mr. Wordsworth and his friends the Dakhani Brahmans should consider how painful it would be, when deprived of the consolations of religion, to be solemnly repressed by the Pioneer—to be placed under that steam-hammer which by the descent of a paragraph can equally crack the tiniest of jokes and the hardest of political nuts, can suppress unauthorised inquiry and crush disaffection.