[October 25, 1879]
The Planter lives to-day as we all lived fifty years ago. He lives in state and bounty, like the Lord of Burleigh. He lives like that fine old English gentleman who had an old estate, and who kept up his old mansion at a bountiful old rate. He lives in a grand wholesale manner; he lives in round numbers; he lives like a hero. Everything is Homeric about him. He establishes himself firmly in the land with great joy and plenty; and he gathers round him all that makes life full-toned and harmonious, from the grand timbre of draught-ale and the organ-thunder of hunting, to the piccolo and tintinnabulum of Poker and maraschino. His life is a fresco-painting, on which some Cyclopaean Raphaelite has poured his rainbows from a fire-engine of a hundred elephant-power.
We paltry officials live meanly in pen-and-ink sketches. Our little life is bounded by a dream of promotion and pension. We toil, we slave; we put by money, we pinch ourselves. We are hardly fit to live in this beautiful world, with its laughing girls and grapes, its summer seas, its sunshine and flowers, its Garnet Wolseleys and bulbuls. We go moping through its glories in green spectacles, befouling it with our loathsome statistics and reports. The sweet air of heaven, the blue firmament, and the everlasting hills do not satisfy our poisoned hearts; so we make to ourselves a little tin-pot world of blotted-paper, debased rupees, graded lists, and tinsel honours; we try to feed our lungs on its typhoidal effluvia. Aroint[T] thee, Comptroller and Accountant-General with all thy grisly crew! Thou art worse than the blind Fury with the abhorred shears; for thou slittest my thin-spun pay-wearing spectacles, thrice branded varlet! [There is a lily on my brow with anguish moist and fever-dew, and on my cheeks a fading rose fast withereth too, and for these emblems of woe thou shalt have to give an answer.]
Dear Vanity, of course you understand that I do not allude to the amiable old gentleman who controls our Accounts Department, who is the mirror of tenderness. The person I would impale is a creation of my own wrath, a mere official type struck in frenzied fancy, [at a moment when Time seems a maniac scattering dust, and Life a Fury slinging flame].
Let us soothe ourselves by contemplating the Planter and his generous, simple life. It calms one to look at him. He is something placid, strong, and easeful. Without wishing to appear obsequious, I always feel disposed to borrow money when I meet a substantial Planter. He inspires confidence. I grasp his strong hand; I take him (figuratively) to my heart, while the desire to bank with him wells up mysteriously in my bosom.