soft there breathes
Through the cool casement, mingled with the sighs
Of moonlight flowers, music that seems to rise
From some still lake, so liquidly it rose,
And, as it swell’d again at each faint close,
The ear could track through all that maze of chords
And young sweet voices these impassioned words—
“Ho, you there! fetch us a pint of gin! and look sharp, will you!”
For who, in time,
knows whither we may vent
The treasure of our tongue, to what strange shores
This gain of our best glory shall be sent,
To enrich unknowing nations with our stores!
What worlds in the yet unformed Orient
May come refined with accents that are ours!
But, dear Vanity, I can see that you are impatient of scenes whose luxuries steal, spite of yourself, too deep into your soul; besides, I dread the effect of such warm situations on a certain Zuleika to whom the note of Ali Baba is like the thrice-distilled strains of the bulbul on Bendemeer’s stream. So let us electrify ourselves back to prose and propriety by thinking of the Political Agent; let us plunge into the cold waters of dreary reality by conjuring up a figure in tail-coat and gold buttons dispensing justice while H.H. the romantic and picturesque Raja, G.C.S.I., amuses himself. Yet we hear cries from the gallery of “Vive M. le Raja; vive la bagatelle!”
So say we, in faint echoes, defying the anathemas of the Foreign Office. Do not turn this beautiful temple of ancient days into a mere mill for decrees and budgets; but sweep it and purify it, and render it a fitting shrine for the homage and tribute of antique loyalty—“that proud submission, that subordination of the heart which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom.” With tail-coat and cocked-hat government “the unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone.”—ALI BABA.
WITH THE POLITICAL AGENT
[Illustration: THE POLITICAL AGENT—“A man in buckram.”]
[September 27, 1879.]
This is a most curious product of the Indian bureaucracy. Nothing in all White Baboodom is so wonderful as the Political Agent. A near relation of the Empress who was travelling a good deal about India some three or four years ago said that he would rather get a Political Agent, with raja, chuprassies,[H] and everything complete, to take home, than the unfigured “mum” of Beluchistan, or the sea-aye-ee mocking bird, Kokiolliensis Lyttonia. But the Political Agent cannot be taken home. The purple bloom fades in the scornful climate of England; the paralytic swagger passes into sheer imbecility; the thirteen-gun tall talk reverberates in jeering echoes; the chuprassies are only so many black men, and the raja is felt to be a joke. The Political Agent cannot live beyond Aden.