At present the Baboo is merely a grotesque Bracken shadow, but in the course of geological ages it might harden down into something palpable. It is this possibility that leads Sir Ashley Eden to advise the Baboo to revert to its original type; but it is not so easy to become homogeneous after you have been diluted with the physical sciences and stirred about by Positivists and missionaries. “I would I were a protoplastic monad!” may sound very rhythmical, poetical, and all that; but even for a Baboo the aspiration is not an easy one to gratify.—ALI BABA.
WITH THE RAJA
[September 20, 1879.]
Try not to laugh, Dear Vanity. I know you don’t mean anything by it; but these Indian kings are so sensitive. The other day I was translating to a young Raja what Val Prinsep had said about him in his “Purple India”; he had only said that he was a dissipated young ass and as ugly as a baboon; but the boy was quite hurt and began to cry, and I had to send for the Political Agent to quiet him and put him to sleep. When you consider the matter philosophically there is nothing per se ridiculous in a Raja. Take a hypothetical case: picture to yourself a Raja who does not get drunk without some good reason, who is not ostentatiously unfaithful to his five-and-twenty queens and his five-and-twenty grand duchesses, who does not festoon his thorax and abdomen with curious cutlery and jewels, who does not paint his face with red ochre, and who sometimes takes a sidelong glance at his affairs, and there is no reason why you should not think of such a one as an Indian king. India is not very fastidious; so long as the Government is satisfied, the people of India do not much care what the Rajas are like. A peasant proprietor said to Mr. Caird and me the other day, “We are poor cultivators; we cannot afford to keep Rajas. The Rajas are for the Lord Sahib.”
The young Maharaja of Kuch Parwani assures me that it is not considered the thing for a Raja at the present day to govern. “A really swell Raja amuses himself.” One hoards money, another plays at soldiering, a third is horsey, a fourth is amorous, and a fifth gets drunk; at least so Kuch Parwani thinks. Please don’t say that I told you this. The Foreign Secretary knows what a high opinion I have of the Rajas, and indeed he often employs me to whitewash them when they get into scrapes. “A little playful, perhaps, but no more loyal Prince in India!” This is the kind of thing I put into the Annual Administration Reports of the Agencies, and I stick to it. Playful no doubt, but a more loyal class than the Rajas there is not in India. They have built their houses of cards on the thin crust of British Rule that now covers the crater, and they are ever ready to pour a pannikin of water into a crack to quench the explosive forces rumbling below.