The tail-coat, with gold buttons, velvet cuffs, and light blue silk lining, is quite a demi-official, small-and-early arrangement. It is compatible with a patronising and somewhat superb flirtation in the verandah; nay, even under the pine-tree beyond the Gurkha sentinel, whence many-twinkling Jakko may be admired, it is compatible with a certain shadow of human sympathy and weakness. An A.D.C. in tail-coat and gold buttons is no longer a star; he is only a fire-balloon; though he may twinkle in heaven, he can descend to earth. But in the quiet disguises of private life he is the mere stick of a rocket. He is quite of the earth. This scheme of clothing is compatible with the tenderest offices of gaming or love—offices of which there shall be no recollection on the re-assumption of uniform and on re-apotheosis. An A.D.C. in plain clothes has been known to lay the long odds at whist, and to qualify, very nearly, for a co-respondentship.
In addition to furnishing rooms in his own person, an A.D.C. is sometimes required to copy my Lord’s letters on mail-day, and, in due subordination to the Military Secretary, to superintend the stables, kitchen, or Invitation Department.
After performing these high functions, it is hard if an A.D.C. should ever have to revert to the buffooneries of the parade-ground or the vulgar intimacies of a mess. It is hard that one who has for five years been identified with the Empire should ever again come to be regarded as “Jones of the 10th,” and spoken of as “Punch” or “Bobby” by old boon companions. How can a man who has been behind the curtain, and who has seen la premiere danseuse of the Empire practising her steps before the manager Strachey, in familiar chaff and talk with the Council ballet, while the little scene-painter and Press Commissioner stood aside with cocked ears, and the privileged violoncellist made his careless jests—how, I say, can one who has thus been above the clouds on Olympus ever associate with the gaping, chattering, irresponsible herd below?
It is well that our Ganymede should pass away from heaven into temporary eclipse; it is well that before being exposed to the rude gaze of the world he should moult his rainbow plumage in the Cimmeria of the Rajas. Here we shall see him again, a blinking ignis fatuus in a dark land—“so shines a good deed in a naughty world” thinks the Foreign Office.—Ali Baba.
WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF
[August 16, 1879.]
At Simla and Calcutta the Government of India always sleeps with a revolver under its pillow—that revolver is the Commander-in-Chief. There is a tacit understanding that this revolver is not to be let off; indeed, sometimes it is believed that this revolver is not loaded.
[The Commander-in-Chief has a seat in Council; but the Military Member has a voice. This division of property is seen everywhere. The Commander-in-Chief has many offices; in each there is someone other than the Commander-in-Chief who discharges all its duties.