“The late Mr. Aberigh-Mackay (Ali Baba of Vanity Fair), one of the brightest and most original, as well as one of the most generous spirits who ever handled Indian subjects, has drawn a picture in his Twenty-one Days in India of a Raja and his Sow[=a]ri [Cavalcade] which could not be bettered by a hair’s breadth.”
Aberigh-Mackay in his earliest writings—e.g. when, in describing The Great Native Princes in his “Handbook of Hindustan,” published in 1875, he enters the “Remark” against the Nawab of Bahawalpur, “A smart boy of fourteen; a good polo-player”—laid great stress on the desirability of training all Indian noblemen’s sons in horsemanship of all kinds. That his efforts in this direction were crowned with an abiding and ever-increasing success is well borne out by the testimony contained in an article, by Lieutenant E.R. Penrose, 23rd Bengal N.L. Infantry, accompanying his pictures of “Incidents in the Career of a Polo-Pony,” which appeared in The Graphic, April 10, 1886. Lieutenant Penrose then wrote:—
“Polo is such an institution now in this country, that even in the remotest station a couple of enthusiasts may be found who will work heaven and earth to get a game of some sort. I have lately been stationed at Indore, where there is a collegiate school for the sons of native Princes and gentlemen. The head of the college was Mr. Aberigh-Mackay, the author of that popular book ‘Twenty-one Days in India.’ He was a keen polo-player, and quite imbued his pupils with his ardour, so that, though he is now dead, his memory is green throughout the whole of Central India. The impetus he gave the game has lasted, and consequently, with a few of the senior boys in the school, and some of the men of the troop of Central Indian Horse (who begin to play almost as soon as they can sit a horse), we could always get up a game. Some of the boys are not great riders, but like most natives they have wonderfully good ‘eyes,’ and rarely miss the ball. Polo-ponies come in very usefully in other ways—such as pig-sticking, for their training makes them so handy that it is easier to tackle a boar on a polo-pony than when mounted on a horse. Besides, they are cheap, and the men can afford a pony where they could not stand the expense of a horse.”
Another very notable point in this article is the expression of confidence in the loyalty, as a general rule, of the Nobles of India. This same belief—nay more, conviction—is expressed all through the writings of Ali Baba.
At the same time, voice is given to the thought that “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,” vide p. 48.
Reuter, in a telegram from Calcutta dated Friday, February 11, 1910, and printed in but few of the London newspapers of the 14th, informs us that:—