Poets of John Company/The Art of Living in India



The Art of Living in India.

No more shall tragic stories fill our rhymes
Come turn and look at life in softer climes;
In Eastern India's realm pursue the route,
Where passions burn within, and Suns without.
Calcutta, lo! as London o'er the Thames,
Lifts her high head above old Hougly's streams:
There, Novice, fix your residence, and try
To scan the passing scene with curious eye;
The motley mass of various life discern.
And put in practice quickly what you learn.
First, if you mean to gain a due respect,
(And what so terrible as cold neglect!)
Let eight trim bearers uniformly dress'd
Attend your palanquin of modern taste;
Fly at a call, and bring you here and there
To laugh and chatter—God knows what or where,
In vulgar eyes a palanquin has charms.
But on the shining sides emblaze your arms,
This elegant convenience first procure,
Before you thrust your nose without the door.
Let a long train, obsequious at a call.
Attend in order round your spacious hall;
At breakfast seated, let the shining plate,
Arrang'd with splendour, indicate your state;
For taste superior, gracious Heaven invoke.
And learn that fashionable art—to smoke!
The breakfast ended, on a couch reclin'd.
The grateful hookah will relax the mind;
'Tis then the crouching slaves our orders take.
Before they know what we're about to speak:
But if some low born creditor should come.
Be sure give orders then, you're not at home.

In 'kill time visits' pass away the noon,
And 'chit chat parties' never leave too soon;
Hear how they talk of politics, and how
The news of the confederate armies go;
Or rather with the laughing Ladies play.
And spend in fiddle faddle half the day.
Since now you bask in Fortune's sunny ray.
Give, give, your rolling gold to live the day.
Not like the griping set who save and spare
To perish wretched in cold northern air.
When'er your easy mistress goes abroad,
Then let the pomp of Flavius fill the road;
Let six chubdars your silver sticks display,
And shading punkas mitigate the day;
Let emeralds set, her slender wrists enfold,
And all her purfled vestments shine with gold:
Let her, ah! let her thus genteely ride,
While, as she comes, we starers sneak aside.
When she's at home (how dear the thoughts of home)
Keep her secluded in a separate dome
Conscious to love and the soft hours of joy.
Let her mid fragrant oils the noon employ;
Let her there, wrapp'd in robes of costly lawn.
Enjoy the sweets of aromatic pawn.
While servile daees, in flowing cloth array'd.
By turns attend, and fan your charming maid.
Yes, yes, ye Gods, sure such is earthly bliss.
What would I give to be the Lord of this!

Ye shapely Nymphs, who form my pleasing theme
Ye, born where Ganga rolls her hallow'd stream.
Accept these numbers, written with spirit free,
I love your India and your India me!
Thus I've selected, with a judgment nice,
Instructive lessons of oblique advice;
Be your attention to the Muse inclin'd,
And print them on the tablet of your mind.