Twenty-One Days in India; and, the Teapot Series
George Robert Aberigh-Mackay
Part 3 out of 3
of distinction asking Truth, the Everlasting Verity, for a sign and
then searching for it in a potato-field. In this glorious quest every
circumstance demands our respectful attention. They search on their
hands and knees in the attitude of passionate prayer; they search in
the dark; they seize the dumb earth with delirious fingers; they knock
their heads against one another and against the dull, hard trunks of
trees. Still they search: they wrestle with the Earth: she must yield
up her secrets. Nor will Earth deny to them the desired boon. Theirs
is the true spirit of devout inquiry, and they are persons of
consideration in evening-dress. Nature will unveil her charms. Earth
with the groans of an infinite pain, a boundless travail, yields up
the gingham umbrella.
We will not intrude upon their immediate rapture as they carry their
treasure away with loving hands; but it is necessary to note the means
taken to prove, for the satisfaction only of a foolish and unbelieving
world, the supernatural nature of the phenomenon. The umbrella is
examined under severe test conditions: it is weighed in a vacuum, and
placed under the spectroscope. It is found to be porous and a
conductor of heat; but it is not soluble in water, though it boils at
500 deg. Fahr. To demonstrate the absence of trickery or collusion
everyone turns up his sleeves and empties his waistcoat pockets. There
is no room for sleight of hand in presence of this searching
scientific investigation. The umbrella _is_ certainly _not_ a
supposititious animal; yet it is the umbrella of Mr. Cyper Redalf's
boyhood. No one can doubt this who sees him clasp it in a fond
embrace, who sees him shed burning tears on its voluminous folds.--THE
WITH THE VICEROY
The late Edward Robert Bulwer, First Earl of Lytton (1831-1891),
Viceroy and Governor-General of India from April 12, 1876, to June 8,
1880, is here depicted from the superficial point of view of his
character as a man, a poet, and a statesman generally current at the
Lord Lytton was thoroughly unconventional in all his manners and
moods, and in his methods of conducting the affairs of his great
As a boy of seven he was already scribbling verses; and he wrote a
poem, "The Prisoner of Provence," which turns upon the famous story of
the Man in the Iron Mask, only two or three months before his death.
In fact, all through Lord Lytton's distinguished career, as his father
had done before him, he found recreation in change of employment. As
forcibly and eloquently stated by his daughter, Lady Betty Balfour, in
her introduction to the 1894 edition of his Selected Poems, "The minds
of both were ceaselessly active, and they turned without a pause from
one kind of thought and business to another as readily as they turned
from either to easy, disengaged conversation. Had the rival calls of
his many-sided intellect been at variance, the poet in my father would
always have had the preference."
Ali Baba, it may be taken for granted, did not intend to characterise
as "a flood of twaddle" the whole of Lord Lytton's verse. Poetry
which, as far as published up to 1855, called forth from Leigh Hunt
warm praise for its beauties and mercy for its defects, in these words
embodied in a letter to Mr. John Forster, the friend and biographer of
"I have read every bit of Owen Meredith's [his now
well-known pseudonym] volume, and it has left me in a state
of delighted admiration. He is a truly musical, reflecting,
impassioned and imaginative poet, with a tendency to but one
of the faults of his contemporaries and that chiefly in his
minor pieces--I mean the doing too much, and the giving too
much importance and emphasis to every fancy and image that
comes across him, so that his pictures lose their proper
distribution of light and shade, nay, of distinction between
great and small. On his greatest occasions, however, he can
evidently rid himself of this fault."
During Lord Lytton's Indian career, those who were on political or
self-interested grounds opposed to his policy--and there were many
such--were wont, as recorded by his daughter, to attempt to discredit
the statesman by reiterating that he was a poet.
As a matter of fact, Aberigh Mackay's acquaintance with Lord Lytton's
poetry was mainly, if not entirely, based upon a volume edited by N.A.
Chick, and published in Calcutta in 1877, quaintly entitled: "The
Imperial Bouquet of Pretty Flowers from the Poetical Parterre of
Robert Lord Lytton, Viceroy and Governor-General of India."
Our Author's knowledge of Lord Lytton's Indian Administration was
necessarily based upon the views--_pro_ and _con_--expressed by the
daily newspaper writers of the period, who wrote, of course,
uninitiated in political affairs as a rule, and without those full
expositions now embodied in many notable recent publications, official
and other, foremost among which we would cite Lady Betty Balfour's
History of his Indian Administration, published in 1899, and her
edition of her father's personal and literary letters, issued in two
vols. in 1906.
Verily "Time tries All," and an impartial and notable summary of Lord
Lytton's services to his country, written by the Reverend W. Elvin, is
engraven on the monument to his memory in the crypt of St. Paul's
Cathedral, which was designed and partially carried out by the
sculptor, Mr. Gilbert.
+HE WAS A DIPLOMATIST RICK IN THE QUALITIES, OFFICIAL, AND SOCIAL, BY
WHICH AMITY WITH FOREIGN NATIONS IS MAINTAINED.+
+A VICEROY INDEPENDENT IN HIS VIEWS, RESOLUTE IN ACTION, LOOKING
FORWARD TO THE FUTURE.+
+A POET OF MANY STYLES, EACH THE EXPRESSION OF HIS HABITUAL THOUGHTS.+
+A MAN OF SUPERIOR FACULTIES HIGHLY CULTIVATED BE LITERATURE, ARDENT
IN HIS AFFECTIONS, TENDER AND GENEROUS IN ALL THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF
LIFE, LAVISH IN HIS COMMENDATION OF OTHERS, AND HUMBLE IN HIS ESTIMATE
As a good example of Lord Lytton's independent views, and tenderness
and generosity in all the circumstances of life, the following
incident may be quoted:--
Among many changes in Indian administration which he initiated, and
which were severely decried at the time, but the benefits of which
experience has amply vindicated, was the amalgamation of Oudh with, or
rather annexation to, the North-Western Provinces, the final
arrangements being completed at the Imperial Assemblage at Delhi on
January 1 1877, with the concurrence--which he had sought
previously--of all the principal Talukdars of Oudh there assembled.
The great pageant at Delhi (which formed the subject of Ali Baba's
first contribution to _Vanity Fair_, and which he attended officially
as the Guardian of the Raja of Rutlam), so far from being a mere empty
show, as then decried by his political foes, enabled the Viceroy to
settle, promptly and satisfactorily by personal conferences, a great
many important administrative questions. All as recorded by him in his
narrative letter of December 23, 1876, to January 10, 1877, to her
late Majesty Queen Victoria, which embraced events at Delhi, Pattiala,
Umballa, Aligurh, and Agra.
Among the Oudh officials who were dispossessed of their appointments
in 1877, some of them with but scanty compensation, was the late Mr.
(afterwards Sir) E.N.C. Braddon, a kinsman of the novelist, who held
the appointment of Superintendent of Stamps, Stationery, and
Registration at Lucknow. Mr. Braddon was an uncovenanted servant of
comparatively short service, and eligible for s very moderate
compensation. Lord Lytton, unsolicited, took up his case, overruled
various objections, obtained liberal terms for Mr. Braddon by which he
was able to resign his appointment and proceed to Tasmania, where he
entered political life, rising to be Premier and afterwards
Agent-General for that Colony in London, and ultimately obtaining, in
1891, his K.C.M.G.
It was to Lord Lytton's personal action--in the face of would-be
obsequious apathy in certain quarters--that Aberigh-Mackay, the
youngest on the list, was nominated a Fellow of the Calcutta
University in 1880, an honour usually reserved for officials of high
standing. He then availed himself of that status to bring about the
affiliation of the Rajkumar College at Indore to the same University,
with, as a matter of course, the concurrence of the Syndicate.
We have here an admirable summary of the highly important personal
duties of a tactful A.D.C. to an Indian Viceroy. Not the least
important being the superintendence of the Invitation Department. It
was in this very connection that an A.D.C. to an Indian Governor,
fresh from a West Indian appointment and Society somewhat on "Tom
Cringle's Log" conditions, by issuing invitations to a _Quality
Dance_, gave rise, in Southern India, to a social commotion which
reacted very unfavourably as regards the efficient working of various
departments of his Chief's general administration.
In pre-Mutiny days in India an officer who could not carve meat and
fowl well had a very poor chance of such an appointment. Happily the
institution of _a la Russe_ fashions in the service of the table has
or many years past rendered such qualifications unnecessary.
To the regret of a very wide circle, the "loud, joyful and
steeplechasing Lord "--the late Lord William Beresford--alluded to by
Ali Baba, died in England in 1900. From 1875 to 1881 he was A.D.C. to
Viceroys of India, and it was in the "distant wars" of the Jowaki
expedition, 1877-8, in the Zulu War, 1879, where he gained the
Victoria Cross, and in the Afghan War, 1880, that his military career
From 1881 to 1894 Lord William Beresford very ably served Viceroys of
India as their Military Secretary. Services which were admirably
summed up by a speaker on Dec. 30, 1893, when he was entertained at a
farewell dinner at the Town Hall, Calcutta, by 180 friends, who
declared that "he had raised the office to a science, and himself from
an official into an institution, and acquired a reputation absolutely
The voluminous and noteworthy annals of Indian sport can show no
keener sportsman and successful rider of steeplechases and polo
player. He won the Viceroy's Cup six times and many other principal
events at race-meetings in India.
In 1894 Lord William retired from India, and in England maintained a
renowned racing stable, being in addition one of the first to own
American horses and employ American jockeys.
WITH THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF
An exceedingly important change affecting the power and functions of
the Indian Commander-in-chief, together with various other reforms in
the military administration of India, were all anticipated,
foreshadowed, and--it is believed--largely helped on by this very
paper, and others under the general heading of _Things in India_,
contributed by Ali Baba to _Vanity Fair_ during 1879.
Ali Baba, unlike some others that might readily be cited, would
doubtless have been foremost in according most generous
acknowledgments to the services in the cause of Indian Army reform,
rendered in past days by many great Commanders-in-Chief in India.
Chief among such men might be cited Sir Charles James Napier
(1782-1853), the conqueror of Scinde, who in 1849 returned to India,
nominated by the Duke of Wellington to deal with the crisis caused by
the Sikh campaign. Arriving in Calcutta on the 6th May, he at once
assumed the command, the term of service of Lord Gough, who had
brought the campaign to a successful end, being concluded. Napier's
too short administration of little over eighteen months was rather
judicial than military, but he effected many reforms on the parade
ground and in cantonments.
The newspapers of the day eagerly chronicled the records of the
proceedings in which he vigorously combated the vices of intoxication,
gambling, insubordination, and other crimes and misdemeanours, both in
officers and men of the Queen's and Company's forces alike.
It was during his command that separate barrack-room accommodation was
provided for married soldiers. The state of affairs hitherto
prevailing may well be imagined by an inspection of the barrack life
pictures and caricatures of artists such as Ramberg, Gillray,
Rowlandson, and others.
He also founded Soldiers' Institutes, and encouraged soldiers in the
Queen's army to rear such pets as monkeys and parrots by regulations
for their transport on route and transfer marches, which afforded
material for many humorous sketches and paragraphs in the pages of
_The Delhi Punch_. Wise and considerate regulations which are
continued in the existing concessions as to the carriage of "soldiers'
pets" by troop trains and homeward-bound Indian transports.
Colonel R.H. Vetch (_Dictionary of National Biography_) admirably sums
up Napier's character by recording of him that "his disregard of
luxury, simplicity of manner, careful attention to the wants of the
soldiers under his command, and enthusiasm for duty and right won him
the admiration of his men. His journals testify to his religious
convictions, while his life was one long protest against oppression,
injustice and wrongdoing. Generous to a fault, a radical in politics,
yet an autocrat in government, hot-tempered and impetuous, he was a
man to inspire strong affection or the reverse, and his enemies were
as numerous as his friends."
Altogether a very different character from that which all and sundry
are warned to avoid by the--to a great extent--satirical word-picture
recorded by Ali Baba.
WITH THE ARCHDEACON
In this article Ali Baba has pourtrayed with infinite skill and
geniality the many-sided character of the late Joseph Baly, M.A., who
was Archdeacon of Calcutta from 1872 until he retired from India in
1883. Appointed to the Bengal Ecclesiastical establishment in 1861,
Mr. Baly served as Chaplain at Sealkote, Simla, and Allahabad until
1870, when, while on furlough in England, he acted as Rector of
Falmouth until 1872. In 1885 he was appointed chaplain at the church
in Windsor Park, built by Queen Victoria, in which appointment he died
in 1909, aged eighty-five.
From the commencement of his Indian career the Reverend gentleman
interested himself in that burning question of the employment of the
Anglo-Indian and Eurasian community of India; a large indigenous and
permanent element in the population, the disposal of which is still a
question of very great public importance, and its practical solution a
pressing necessity. The Archdeacon had this question, paraphrased by
Ali Baba as that of the "Mean Whites," greatly at heart, and the
conclusions he arrived at and suggestions made by him from time to
time, ably and vigorously summarized in a paper he read before the
Bengal Social Science Association on May 1st, 1879, in Calcutta, were
productive of considerable good.
Archdeacon Baly's predecessor was the Venerable John Henry Pratt, an
attached friend of Aberigh-Mackay's father, to whom his book, _From
London to Lucknow_, published in 1860, was "affectionately inscribed."
Certain traits in the character of this Archdeacon known to Ali Baba
by tradition are pourtrayed in the concluding portion of the paper.
WITH THE SECRETARY TO GOVERNMENT
This article is of a composite nature. At the time it was published in
1879, the foreign policy of Lord Lawrence was a burning question, and
in connection with the Afghan War then running its course, renewed
attention was directed to the two essays, "Masterly Inactivity" and
"Mischievous Activity," first published in _The Fortnightly Review_ in
December 1869, and March 1870, respectively, by a comparatively young
Bengal Civilian, the late J.W.S. Wyllie, C.S.I. (1835-1870). Beyond
the fact that these essays and certain other papers by the same
brilliant author on the subject of the policy of the Indian Government
with independent principalities and powers beyond the bounds of India
were probably in Ali Baba's mind, the character of the supercilious
Secretary was very remote from that of Mr. Wyllie.
The typical person held up to derision by Ali Baba has been oft times
decried as one very detrimental to good government in India, where a
personal and absolute rule must needs obtain for some time to come. By
none more pointedly than by the present Secretary of State for India
when addressing his constituents at Arbroath on October 21, 1907, when
he informed them that "India is perhaps the one country--bad manners,
overbearing manners are very disagreeable in all countries--India is
the only country where bad and overbearing manners are a political
crime." Or, as a prominent Mohammedan in India very well said, "When
the English govern from the heart they do it admirably; when they try
to be clever, they make a mess of it."
In the restored passage on p. 35 there is delineated a Secretary in
striking contrast to the other. The Secretary in the Foreign
Department referred to was the late Mr. le Poer Wynne, under whom
Aberigh-Mackay had worked at Simla in 1870.
H.E. THE BENGALI BABOO
Ali Baba avowedly treats the Bengali Baboo merely as a being "full of
inappropriate words and phrases ... and the loose shadows of English
thought." Such being the case, it must never be forgotten that he is
the product, in every sense of the word, of British modes of purely
secular education. Modes which, eminently at the present time, are
being gravely called in question.
All of which has been more lately elaborated by "F. Anstey," _i.e._
Mr. Thomas Anstey Guthrie, in the persons of "Baboo Jabberjee, B.A."
and "A Bayard from Bengal."
The broad results of purely secular and mainly literary education
might in fact be quite fairly summed up in the reproachful words of
"You taught me language; and my profit on't
Is, I know how to curse."
Aberigh-Mackay devoted his life in India to counteract the effects of
purely literary instruction, which he persistently deprecated; and the
last thirty years have undoubtedly witnessed many advances in the same
direction, tending to the material progress of India.
Ali Baba trembled for the future of Baboodom, that its tendencies as
he depicted them might infect others who might pass, through various
stages, into "trampling, hope-bestirred crowds, and so on, out of the
province of Ali Baba and into the columns of serious reflection."
WITH THE RAJA
In this article we have a vivid picture--mainly--of a type of Indian
Noble it was Aberigh-Mackay's aim and life's work in India to avoid
creating. That too from the beginning of his career, but more
especially in the training, and that not merely in book-learning, he
initiated and earned on up to the last days of his life within and
without the Residency College at Indore. To paraphrase the language of
the then recently appointed Agent to the Governor-General for Central
India--Sir Lepel Griffin--in his first Administrative Report, that for
1880-1881, the happy effects of the training some of the leading
Chiefs of Malwa received under Aberigh-Mackay were visible in the
improved administration of their States. The most notable instance,
the Governor-General's Agent points out, being observable in Rutlam.
His Highness the "Rajah Saheb having conducted the Government with
such ability and success as would do credit to the ablest
It is well worthy of special notice that the Rajah of Rutlam had been,
from a period several years antecedent to Aberigh-Mackay's coming to
Indore, his special ward.
Most effectually did Aberigh-Mackay, one of the best all-round
sportsmen that Modern India ever saw, counteract the "prodigiously fat
white horse with pink points" tendencies of any of his _alumni_. The
description of the kingly cavalcade in this article, _vide_ p. 52,
calling forth from John Lockwood Kipling _(Beast and Man in India_, p.
196), a most competent and discriminating authority, the following
"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.
Reuter, in a telegram from Calcutta dated Friday, February 11, 1910,
and printed in but _few_ of the London newspapers of the 14th, informs
"The leading Nobles and Gentry of Bengal have formed an
Imperial League for the promotion of good feeling between
Indians and the Government, the denunciation of anarchy and
sedition, and the education of the people by means of
lectures and pamphlets in the views of the Government.
"The Maharajah of Burdwan is president, and Maharajah Sir
Pradyat Tagore secretary of the new league."
It must of course be borne in mind that since this article was written
by Ali Baba, the formation of the Imperial Service troops, and the
Imperial Cadet corps, furnished and in some cases officered by Indian
Nobles and their sons, many of whom were educated at Delhi and Indore
by Aberigh-Mackay, surely warrants us in believing that more than a
mere "pannikin of water" is _now_ available, if need be.
WITH THE POLITICAL AGENT
The position of Political Agent, important though it was in 1879, is
much more so now. The territories of the Indian Princes are being
daily opened up more and more by railways; many of them contain coal,
iron, gold, and other minerals in payable quantities, and the
development of these resources call for very delicate handling in the
matter of friendly advice by Political Agents.
In recent years, nay, at the present time, loud complaints have been
published, emanating from experienced and unbiassed sources, that the
position of many of the great feudatories of India, who by their
treaty rights are much more allies than subjects of His Majesty the
King-Emperor, has been reduced to that of a mere figure-head, with no
real authority except when they meekly obey the dictation of the
It is a fact that many of the Political Agents in 1879 were officers
who had served in Madras Cavalry Regiments, the Central India Horse
and other corps, but it is also a fact that many of the most
successful administrators India has ever seen have been
Colonel Henderson, so pleasantly cited by Aberigh-Mackay, and happily
still alive, was himself a Madras Cavalry Officer, who served as
Under-Secretary to the Foreign Department of the Government of India,
as Resident in Kashmir and latterly in Mysore, and Superintendent of
operations for the suppression of Thagi and Dakaiti.
Our late King's visit to India as Prince of Wales in 1875-6 owed a
good deal of its success to Colonel Henderson, who was special officer
in attendance, and his services in connection therewith were
recognized by a Companionship of the order of the Star of India. It
may also be mentioned here that Aberigh-Mackay became his
Brother-in-law in October, 1873.
WITH THE COLLECTOR
In this sketch, warm with local colour, the real pivot of the great
official wheel of Indian administration, "the Collector," is drawn
with the exactness due to his importance. Withal very lifelike and
picturesque in many of its touches.
Thirty years have of course made great changes in many of the details
of life in the districts of an Indian Province, now as a rule
connected up by lines of railway. Improved leave rules and many other
causes have rendered intercourse with the home country much easier.
Whether or no this far easier intercourse is altogether an advantage
to the rulers and the ruled is what is termed a "burning question" at
the present moment. In a word, that improved communications have not
correspondingly increased our sympathy with a new birth in intellect,
social life, and the affairs of state, all of which are mainly the
results of British rule.
The functions of a Collector, sketched by Ali Baba in an entertaining
medley, have increased enormously of late years, and the position is
now said to be less desirable than of old, when it was amusingly said
of every member of civilian society, that the verb "to collect" was
conjugated thus: "I am a collector, you are a collector, he should be
a collector, they will be collectors," and so on, _ad infinitum_.
NOS. 10, 20 AND 35
BABY IN PARTIBUS
This sketch, which may well be termed a beautiful lament over poor
Baby, has brought back vividly to many a one touching recollections: a
picture in fact which appealed, and continues to appeal, to an
audience infinitely wider than that of Anglo-India. The same may be
said of the sketches "The Grass-Widow," p. 139; "Mem-Sahib," p. 157,
by many considered the best sketch of all; and "Sahib," p. 181. All of
them full of that pathos and tenderness akin to, but yet differing
widely from, the bantering style of the others, which are also full of
allusions and covert references to individuals and affairs of the
Anglo-India of thirty years ago.
In "Sahib," however, there are traits of character and other touches
taken from the life of one who was--among many other features--a
"merry Collector," not yet forgotten by a rapidly decreasing circle of
contemporaries. While time and ameliorated conditions have changed the
"loathsome Indian cemetery" into something of a garden in which Ali
Baba our friend in common would have rejoiced.
THE RED CHUPRASSIE
Alas! the Red Chuprassie is still a rift in the lute of Indian
administration; a reform in Chuprassies would doubtless be more
beneficial to India than any wonder-working _nostrum_--such as
Advisory Councils or extended Legislative Councils.
The cry for reform in Chuprassies, or in other words the underlings of
many Departments, is a very old one. Ali Baba's denunciation of the
"Red Chuprassie" powerfully expands that one by Sir Alfred Lyall,
where in his poem of _The Old Pindaree_, written in 1866, the "belted
knave" is associated with the "hungry retainers" and others forming
the camp establishment of an official on tour.
Ali Baba's practice of adequate payment, which he states--in a spirit
of banter--to be potent to remove temptation to bribery and
corruption, has received attention in connection with recent
ameliorations of the terms of subordinate service in India, and it is
believed has met with a certain amount of success.
The well-meant but not altogether satisfactory trial of the Gaikwar of
Baroda, by a mixed tribunal of Indian Nobles and highly placed British
officials, which took place during Lord Northbrook's viceroyalty, is
alluded to in the conclusion of the article; in which the Anglo-Indian
soubriquet for a subservient person--Joe Hookham, literally _jaisa
hukam_ = as may be ordered--is also introduced.
It is now upwards of thirty years since this genial picture of a
veritable "Farmer Prince" was painted--in bold and broad outline, of
course. The years that have passed bringing in their train many
altered conditions, the most important of all, perhaps, being the
replacing of a natural vegetable dye such as indigo by chemically
Probably in a few more years the still remaining features of the
Bengal indigo planter's off duty life as depicted by Ali Baba will
have quite disappeared, unless the substitution of sugar planting for
that of indigo now receiving considerable attention in various Bengal,
and more particularly Tirhoot, districts prove a success.
Anyway, the Macdonalds, the Beggs, and the Thomases, names now, as
formerly, prominently identified with the great indigo industry, have
been assured of continual remembrance. So prominent, in fact, has the
Scotch element among planting families always been that it is said
that if any one present at a race, polo, or Christmas week gathering
were to shout out "Mac!" from the verandah of the Tirhoot Club, every
face in the crowd would be simultaneously turned towards the speaker.
The bantering allusion to "Mr. Caird and _The Nineteenth Century_,"
applies to that great authority on many and very varied agricultural
subjects, the late Sir James Caird, who died in 1892. In 1878-79 he
was deputed to India by the Secretary of State as a member of the
Indian Famine Commission called into being by the Strachey Brothers;
the general impressions then formed by a six months' tour through
India being embodied in the series of articles, entitled "Notes by the
Way in India; the Land and the People," which appeared from July to
October, 1879, in _The Nineteenth Century_ magazine, thereafter in
book form in 1883, and in an augmented form as a third edition in
For a detailed account of a Bengal indigo planter's life, mainly
confined, however, to the processes and surroundings of planting and
manufacture, there is no more valuable record than the late
Colesworthy Grant's well illustrated book, "Rural Life in Bengal,"
which was published in 1860. In that work may be found a drawing of
"Mulnath House," a glorified illustration of the fast disappearing
surroundings of a Lower Bengal planter's residence.
In November, 1879, when this "Study in chiaro-oscuro" was published,
renewed attention was being directed to the Eurasian community in
India, mainly by the discussions in all circles aroused by the
publication of the late Archdeacon Baly's Bengal Social Science
Association Paper of May in the same year, which dealt with the
employment, _inter alia_, of Europeans of mixed parentage in India; a
question which still engages the anxious consideration of many Indian
statesmen. Ali Baba's "Study" is not an ill-natured summary of the
widespread discussions of 1879, but indeed as far back as 1843, the
late John Mawson in his paper, "The Eurasian Belle," which first
appeared in the Calcutta newspaper, _The Bengal Hurkaru_, had
approached the social and domestic side of the question, and to some
extent may be said to have anticipated Ali Baba.
NOS. 14 AND 17
THE VILLAGER AND THE SHIKARRY
Both of these sketches are examples of what maybe termed Ali Baba's
contemplative mood, the villager's life being revealed to us in all
its pathos and interest, otherwise than through an atmosphere of
statistics and reports--the daily life of probably two hundred million
of the inhabitants of India.
Aberigh-Mackay early showed in his book "A Manual of Indian Sport,"
which, in addition to collecting in small compass lessons taught by
many a noted Indian hunter, contains a great deal of original matter
useful to every would-be sportsman, that he was well fitted to depict
"The Shikarry" in correct and graphic manner and from actual personal
NOS. 15 AND 16
THE OLD COLONEL AND THE CIVIL SURGEON
"The Old Colonel" and "The Civil Surgeon," p. 123, are both types of
characters that have since practically ceased to exist in India,
although fairly numerous in the 1870's.
"The Old Colonel," a relic of the great changes caused by the
disappearance of many regiments during the Indian Mutiny, and the
alterations in Army organisation due to the introduction of the "Staff
corps" system, has disappeared from the scene, having long since
attained the pensioned rank for which he was ripening when depicted by
As regards "The Civil Surgeon," an entirely new state of conditions
has altered him also. Even, however, in Ali Baba's time it could not
be said--as it was "long ago"--that a medical officer intended for an
Indian career, in order to become perfectly qualified need only sleep
one night on a medicine chest.
All the same, to those of us who can look back to life in India forty
or fifty years ago, there will surely arise visions of many genial old
colonels and doctors, full of good stories and much sympathy in health
or sickness for those just entering upon an Indian career.
Captain Atkinson, in his book "Curry and Rice," published at the lime
of the Indian Mutiny, depicted by pen and pencil individuals who in
after years developed into Ali Baba's subjects. Illustrations which
may now surely be regarded as valuable records of past Anglo-Indian
life and character.
NOS. 19 AND 21
THE TRAVELLING M.P. AND ALI BABA ALONE
"The Travelling M.P." requires no elucidation. He is still with us and
has developed greatly during the course of years, in fact, increased
facilities of communication between England and India have much
increased the species. Happily there are correctives in the shape of
adverse votes by constituents which, in some notorious instances at
the last Parliamentary elections, have relieved the situation.
As to "Ali Baba Alone," nothing could add to the perfect picture
which, among other things, good-naturedly alludes to many surmises and
rumours current at the time as to the identity of the Author, leading
in some cases to public disclaimers by various highly placed officials
THE TEAPOT SERIES
"SOCIAL DISSECTION" and "THE ORPHAN'S GOOD RESOLUTIONS"
These papers when first published in _The Bombay Gazette_ aroused keen
speculation as to their authorship. They are as applicable to Society
everywhere as to that of Anglo-India. Greatly appreciated all over
India, they were, with the others of the series, reprinted in book
form and published shortly before the Author's death in a volume,
entitled "Serious Reflections by a Political Orphan," which has long
been out of print.
"THE GRYPHON'S ANABASIS"
The amiable and other idiosyncracies---personal and official--of the
late Sir Lepel Griffin, K.C.S.I., who, born in 1840, died on March 9,
1908, having retired in 1889 from the Bengal Civil Service, which he
entered'in 1860 by open competition, and of which he was a
distinguished ornament, are very well pourtrayed in this article. An
article of very tragic interest, because its publication was the
indirect cause, in all human probability, of the death of its Author.
This is not the place to recount Sir Lepel Griffin's career in many
high places of Indian administration and diplomacy, latterly more
particularly in the Punjab and Afghanistan.
Suffice it here to say that in 1880, when Chief Secretary of the
Punjab, a post he had then held for upwards of nine years--earning the
reputation of being the _best_ occupant of that very important and
responsible appointment ever known--Mr. (as he then was) Lepel Griffin
was selected by the Viceroy--Lord Lytton--to proceed to Kabul, and
arrange for its Government as a prelude to the termination of the
British occupation of Afghanistan.
Under the Viceroyalty of Lord Lytton's successor, the Marquess of
Ripon, and after anxious negotiations, Abdur Rahman was proclaimed
Amir of Afghanistan, July 22, 1880. In a spirit of thoroughly
good-natured banter the Gryphon's veritable "Expedition" from Lahore
to the seat of Government to receive the Viceroy's instructions, and
thereafter Afghanistan-ward to carry them out--made under very
different conditions from that one by Cyrus the younger--is amusingly
Travelling through the provinces then ruled over by the late Sir
George Couper and Sir Robert Egerton respectively, until finally Kabul
is reached, where Sir Frederick Roberts handed over his powers to the
Civil authority, as embodied in the Gryphon. A progress which, as
profusely chronicled by the correspondents of the innumerable
newspapers, British, Indian, and Foreign, attracted to India by the
second Afghan War, is lightly, yet not unkindly, satirized by
Aberigh-Mackay under the _nom de plums_ of "Your Political Orphan."
Who also in this article gave expression to the general impression of
the day, that by entrusting Mr. Lepel Griffin with the direct
negotiations, the position of the then Foreign Secretary to the
Government of India, Mr. (now Sir) Alfred Lyall had been somewhat
Be this as it may, for his undoubtedly great services, in which he was
very greatly aided by his intimate acquaintance with the Persian
language, still the French of Afghanistan and other Central Asian
lands in diplomacy and etiquette, Mr. Griffin was created a K.C.S.I.,
and shortly afterwards appointed Governor-General's Agent in Central
India and Resident in Indore--where Aberigh-Mackay was Principal of
the Rajkumar College--the College for the "Sons of Nobles"--the first
"Eton" established under British rule in India. These appointments Sir
Lepel held from 1881 until 1888, when he was appointed Resident at
Hyderabad, the last official position he held in India.
The article now under elucidation appeared on March 29 1880, in _The
Bombay Gazette_, then edited by the late Mr. Grattan Geary, whose
narrative of a journey from Bombay to the Bosphorus through Asiatic
Turkey, published in 1878, did much to revive and stimulate interest
in those important countries, where happily British trade and other
influences are now being actively commented upon by the press of
Western India, and developed by the merchants of Bombay, Karachi, and
Western India generally.
Mr. Thomas Gibson Bowles, the proprietor of _Vanity Fair_, who had
always warmly appreciated the literary work done for him by
Aberigh-Mackay, about this time offered him the editorship of the
paper. This post Aberigh-Mackay had virtually accepted.
Shortly before Sir Lepel Griffin took up his appointment as
Governor-General's Agent, gossip, more especially at Indore and in
Central and Western India, was very busy with surmises as to the fate
in store for the writer of this article, as well as many other
paragraphs commenting, _inter alia_, upon Afghan affairs, and, _en
passant_ Mr. Lepel Griffin, which had appeared in _The Bombay Gazette_
from February to December, 1880, under the general heading of "Some
Serious Reflections." These articles, hitherto anonymous, having being
republished in book form, with their authorship avowed, at Bombay in
1880, shortly before the new Resident and Governor-General's Agent
arrived at Indore.
The gossips were--as is nearly always the case--quite wrong, for one
of the first men to extend a friendly welcome to Aberigh-Mackay when
he arrived at Lahore on the 13th August, 1869, to take up his
appointment of "Manager of the Government Zoological Collection" was
Mr. Lepel Griffin, then the Deputy-Commissioner of the City and
Afterwards, at Simla and elsewhere, these two kindred spirits--in many
ways--met frequently, and learnt to understand each other thoroughly
well. They also had several common friends, civil, military, and
non-official; and their literary pursuits in historical directions
were also much in sympathy.
In 1881 they were not fated to meet, although Aberigh-Mackay had taken
immediate steps to endeavour to do so, as soon as he became aware that
a prevalent rumour was abroad to the effect that the Gryphon would--to
use a colloquialism--now make it hot for him.
Aberigh-Mackay indignantly repelled any such surmises, and laughed to
scorn the idea that Sir Lepel could possibly entertain any revengeful
thoughts of the kind that were anticipated by those who knew
absolutely nothing of the old and existing intimacies of either of the
two men concerned.
To effectually dispel and give the lie to all such insinuations, he
arranged to postpone his departure for England until after the arrival
of Sir Lepel Griffin at Indore, and then make patent to official and
other society the true inward state of affairs.
Aberigh-Mackay was a very keen all-round sportsman, and in the first
weeks of December, 1880, had played at Mhow and Indore in the
interesting polo matches between the 29th Regiment and the station of
Indore, both matches being won by Indore, notwithstanding a good fight
by the Regimental team, headed by Major Ruxton.
On the 7th January, 1881, he read and played with the Chiefs and
Thakores of the Rajkumar class of his College; on the evening of the
8th he played lawn-tennis in the Residency garden, when he caught a
chill. The next day--Sunday--symptoms of tetanus appeared which
created anxiety among his relatives and friends. On Tuesday, the 11th
January, signs of imminent danger became apparent, and at 11 a.m. on
Wednesday, he died, some weeks before the new Governor-General's Agent
arrived at Indore.
It is a very pleasing fact that the most eloquent and very evidently
heart-felt testimony to the great and abiding worth of Abengh-Mackay's
work at Indore and far beyond, came from the very pen of Sir Lepel
Griffin in his "Report of the Central India Agency for the Year
1881-82," issued in July, 1883, as follows.--
'The death of Mr Aberigh-Mackay was for Central India, an
almost irreparable loss. The patience, tact, and enthusiasm
which he brought to his responsible educational duties were
worthy of all admiration and those young Chiefs who had the
benefit of his guidance will compare most favourably both in
acquirements and manners with any students trained under the
most favourable conditions in the colleges of British India.
It so happened that at the time Mr Mackay was in charge of
the Rajkumar College, a large number of important Chiefs
were minors, including the Rajah of Rutlam, the junior Chief
of Dewar, the Nawab of Jaora, and the two sons of His
Highness the Maharaja Holkar. At present there are no Chiefs
of the first rank in the Residency College. It will be well
if the earnestness and devotion which animated the work of
Mr. Abengh Mackay will be felt by those who succeed him.
In Elucidation No. 1--"The Viceroy"--Lord Lytton's _personal_
nomination of Abengh-Mackay to a Fellowship in the Calcutta University
has been referred to. This act of _noblesse oblige,_ in the highest
sense of the term, was happily known to Abengh-Mackay during his
"SOME OCCULT PHENOMENA"
In the autumn of 1880 many strange stories were afloat in India
concerning the studies and practices of what is now widely known as
occult science, indulged in and made manifest by the late Madame
Blavatsky, the authoress of _Isis Unveiled,_ who claimed to possess in
a high degree, by nature, those attributes which spiritualists
describe (without professing to understand) as "mediumship".
Prominent members of Anglo-Indian society associated themselves with
Madame Blavatsky, supported her, and believed in the _bona fides_ of
her powers, derived as Madame declared from Eastern "adepts" in the
science of Yog-Vidya, as this occult knowledge is called by its
A science according to some--to others a mere vulgar imposition--with
which, as maintained by certain renowned Western exponents, Lord
Lytton was well versed and largely imbued, his _imagina-tive_ account
of the achievements accomplished by Vril in the _Coming Race_, being,
according to the school and scholars of Madame Blavatsky, altogether
inspired from that Eastern fount.
"Mr. Cypher Redalf, the eminent journalist," in the proper person of
Mr. A.P. Sinnett, editor of _The Pioneer_, a daily newspaper published
at Allahabad, and then, as now to an increased degree, the leading
English newspaper in India, printed in that journal an authoritative
statement of various occurrences in Blavatskyian circles at Simla when
Madame was on a visit to Mr and Mrs. Sinnett.
It is this statement, the outcome of "the true spirit of devout
inquiry ... by persons of consideration in evening dress" which forms
the _leit motif_ of Aberigh-Mackay's powerful satire, in which a
gingham umbrella, "conceived in the liberal spirit of a bye-gone age,"
is substituted for an old fashioned breast brooch set round with
pearls, with glass at the front and the back, made to contain hair,
which, long lost, was stated to have been recovered for its owner as a
result of Madame Blavatsky's occult powers.
Powers made manifest at a dinner in Mr. A.O. Hume's house at Simla on
Sunday the 3rd of October, 1880, at which were present as guests Mr.
and Mrs. Sinnett, Mrs. Gordon, Mr. F. Hogg, Captain P.J. Maitland, Mr.
Davison, Colonel Olcott, and Madame Blavatsky.
Most of the persons present believed that they had recently seen many
remarkable occurrences in Madame Blavatsky's company, and the
conversation largely turned on occult phenomena, in the course of
which Mrs. Hume was asked by Madame if there was anything she
particularly wished for. After some hesitation Mrs. Hume replied that
she was particularly anxious to recover an old-fashioned brooch she
had formerly possessed, which she had given away to a person who had
allowed it to pass out of her possession.
The brooch having been minutely described as above, and roughly
sketched, Madame then wrapped up a coin attached to her watch-chain in
two cigarette papers, and put it in her dress, and said that she hoped
the brooch might be obtained in the course of the evening.
At the close of dinner she intimated to Mr. Hume that the paper in
which the coin had been wrapped was gone. A little later, in the
drawing-room, she said that the brooch would not be brought into the
house, but that it must be looked for in the garden; and then, as the
party went out accompanying her, she stated that she had clairvoyantly
seen the brooch fall into a star-shaped bed of flowers. Mr. Hume led
the way to such a bed in a distant part of the garden, and after a
prolonged and careful search made by lantern light, a small paper
packet, consisting of two cigarette papers and containing a brooch
which Mrs. Hume identified as that which she had originally lost, was
found among the leaves by Mrs. Sinnett.
All this, and a great deal more, including the conviction of all
present that the occurrence was of an absolutely unimpeachable
character as an evidence of the truth of the possibility of occult
phenomena, being carefully embodied in the published statements, which
had been duly read over to the party and signed. The publication of
the statement aroused a great discussion in the newspapers of the day,
by no means confined to India, and gave a powerful impetus to Madame
Mr. Allan Octavian Hume, happily still alive, son of Joseph Hume the
great Radical member of Parliament, created C.B. for his very
distinguished services in the Mutiny, retired from the Indian Civil
Service in 1882 after a notable career in many departments.
Ornithologist, and since his retirement following hereditary instincts
by organizing and supporting the National Congress, and criticizing
much of the policy of the Government of India.
Mr. Sinnett, the leading actor in the affair described above, not long
after the publication of the Simla narrative, ended his connection
with _The Pioneer_, and may be regarded as one of the leading spirits
of the Theosophical movement, in connection with which he has written
many books, and he now holds high office in the London branch of the
[A: _Lit. Great Ladies_, i.e. _Wives of Heads of Departments_.]
[B: _A genus of molluscous animals_.]
[C: _A primary constituent of matter._]
[D: _A slightly narcotic mixture_.]
[F: _Hindu festivals in honour of the Ganges and the War God
[H: _Official messengers._]
[I: _Lit. high-handed._]
[K: _Table attendants_.]
[L: I have assumed the Most Honourable Order of the Bath in
commemoration of the happy termination of the Afghan War.--A.B.]
[M: _Confirmed in the appointment_.]
[N: _Settlement of the land revenue_.]
[R: The chuprassies are official messengers, wearing Imperial livery,
who are attached to all civil officers in India.]
[S: _Civil servants_.]
[T: _An old English form of avaunt, begone!_ Vide "_Macbeth_," _I.
[U: "_Bring me a brandy and soda._"]
[V: _Low-lying land_.]
[X: _An arrangement, a plan_.]
[Y: _Criminal cases_.]
[Z: _Land revenue settlement_.]
[AA: _A water-carrier's leathern bag._]
[BB: _Chief Board of Land Revenue in the United Provinces_.]
[CC: _Equivalent to Sir._]
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