The Masque of Plenty

Original version as published
in the Pioneer, October 26th, 1888

(Vide Government Resolution in last week's Gazette)

SceneThe wooded heights of Observatory Hill.
of the Angel of Plenty sings, to pianoforte accompaniment: —

1. “HOW sweet is the shepherd’s sweet life!
From the dawn to the even he strays —
He shall follow his sheep all the day
And his tongue shall be filled with praise.
(adagio dim.) Filled with praise!”

2. (largendo con sp.) Now this is the position,
Go make an inquisition
Into their real condition
As swiftly as ye may.

(p) Ay, paint our swarthy billions
The richest of vermillions
Ere two well-led cotillions
Have danced themselves away.

2a. CHORUS from offices R-u-n-e and Agr-c-lt-r-l Dept

With reeds new whittled and maps unrolled,
We'll cover ourselves with glory
(ped) We'll seek a penalty fifty-fold
For Dadabhoy's Awful Story!

(echo from Mall) We seek a penalty fifty-fold
For Dadhaboy Naoroji's Story.

3. TURKISH PATROL, as able and intelligent Investigators
wind down the Simla cart-road:—

What is the state of the Nation?
What is its occupation?
Hi! get along, get along, get along—lend us the information!
(dim.) Census the byle and the yabu—capture a first-class Babu,
Set him to file Gazetteers—Gazetteers .... (ff)
(ff) What is the state of the Nation, etc., etc.

INTERLUDE, to vina, sitar, and nagara

4. Our cattle reel beneath the yoke they bear—
The earth is iron and the skies are brass—
And faint with fervour of the flaming air
The languid hours pass.

5. The well is dry beneath the village tree—
The young wheat withers ere it reach a span,
And belts of blinding sand show cruelly
Where once the river ran.

6. Pray, brothers, pray, but to no earthly King—
Lift up your hands above the blighted grain,
Look westward—if they please, the Gods shall bring
Their mercy with the rain.

7. Look westward—bears the blue no brown cloud-bank?
Nay, it is written—wherefore should we fly?
On our own field and by our cattle’s flank
Lie down, lie down to die!

8. (Vina only)

By the plumed heads of Kings
Waving high,
Where the tall corn springs
O’er the dead.
If they rust or rot we die,
If they ripen we are fed.
Very mighty is the power of our Kings!

9. Triumphal return of SIR E. C. B-C-K, attired after
the manner of Dionysus, leading a pet tiger-cub in wreaths
of rhubarb-leaves, symbolical of India under medical treatment. He sings:—

They sing:—

10. We have seen, we have written—behold it, the proof of our manifold toil!
In their hosts they assembled and told it—the tale of the Sons of the Soil.
We have said of the Sickness—“Where is it?”—and of Death—“It is far from our ken,”—
We have paid a particular visit to the affluent children of men.
We have trodden the mart and the well-curb—we hae stooped to the bield and the byre;
And the King may the forces of Hell curb for the People have all they desire!

Castanets and breakdown

11. Oh, the dom and the mag and the thakur and the thag,
And the nat and the brinjaree,
And the bunnia and the ryot are as happy and as quiet
And as plump as they can be!
Yes, the jain and the jat in his stucco-fronted hut,
And the bounding bazuga,
By the favour of the King, are as fat as anything,
They are—they are—they are!

[11a. LYRICAL INTERLUDE to the tune of "Sam Hall".

They wear dhotis in Bengal
(Chorus) Take your oath?

But their underclothes are. small
Take your oath?

Though the news will turn you hale,
'they' receive per road and rail,
English piece-goods by the bale.
Take your oath.

'Tis a most peculiar thing
Take your oath?

But they live on dal and hing
Take your' oath?

And they walk about with lathis,
And they flourish on chapattis,
And the country very flat is.
Take your oath?

Yes, we found it out ourselves
Take your oath

In the Secretariat shelves,
Take your Oath?

It's as wild as Paul de Kock,
And, your feelings not to shock,
We've appendiced it en bloc
Take your oath?]

Recitative— MARQUIS OF AVA with white satin wings
and electro-plated harp:—

12. How beautiful upon the Mountains—in peace reclining,
Thus to be assured that our people are unanimously dining.
And though there are places not so blessed as others in naural
advantages, which, after all, was only to be expected,
Proud and glad are we to congratulate you upon the work
you have thus ably effected.
(Cres.) How be-ewtiful upon the Mountains!
How be-ewtiful—How be-ewtiful.

13. PHOO-PHOO BAND brasses only, full chorus:—

God bless the Squire
And all his rich relations
Who teach us poor people
We eat our proper rations—
We eat our proper rations,
In spite of inundations,
Malarial exhalations,
And casual starvations,

14. We have, we have, they say we have—
We have our proper rations!


Which nobody Can deny !
If he does he tells a lie—
We are all as willing as Harkiss—
We all of us loves tile Markiss—
We all of us stuffs our c-ar-kis—
With food until we die ! (da capo)

Demi-semi chorus of Collectors, Deputy Collectors and Commissioners,
led by R-u-n-e and Agr-c-lt-r-l Dept., to music of their own trumpets:—

Kennst du das land where the thannadar twineth
Garlands of marigolds under the trees—
Where to the night-wind the zillah resigneth— Poignantest perfumes that swoon on the breeze?
List to the tappal who sings at his labours,
Hear with the bullock oppressed by his beef,
Look where our adipose Aryan neighnours
Frisk in the wine-press or garner the sheaf.
Thither might I go with thee,
O my Mir Munshi, go!]


15. Before the beginning of years
There came to the rule of the State
Men with a pair of shears,
Men with an Estimate—
Strachey with Muir for leaven,
Lytton with locks that fell,
Ripon fooling with Heaven,
And Temple riding like H—ll!
And the bigots took in hand
Cess and the falling of rain,
And the measure of sifted sand
The dealer puts in the grain—
Imports by land and sea,
To uttermost decimal worth,
And registration—free—
In the houses of death and of birth.
And fashioned with pens and paper,
And fashioned in black and white,
With Life for a flickering taper
And Death for a blazing light—
With the Armed and the Civil Power,
That his strength might endure for a span—
From Adam’s Bridge to Peshawur,
The Much Administered Man.

16. In the towns of the North and the East,
They gathered as unto rule,
They bade him starve his priest
And send his children to school.
Railways and roads they wrought,
For the needs of the soil within;
A time to squabble in court,
A time to bear and to grin
And gave him peace in his ways,
Jails—and Police to fight,
Justice—at length of days,
And Right—and Might in the Right.
His speech is of mortgaged bedding,
On his kine he borrows yet,
At his heart is his daughter’s wedding,
In his eye foreknowledged of debt.
He eats and hath indigestion,
He toils and he may not stop;
His life is a long-drawn question
Between a crop and a crop.

[17. Semi-chorus of UNSYMPATHETIC PUBLIC

Too red a dawn your hands have drawn,
Too turquoise blue the sky.
Too green a turf, too smooth a surf,
Too fair tranquillily !
Why have ye slurred the gloomier word
And praised the lighter touch ?
Why show your hand who rule the land
It trembles overmuch.
Why for an Empire stitch and hem
Rags of the Gazetters.
And why complie so very vile
A piece of paste and shears.
It might have been a well-set scene
To close a brilliant play.
A fitting "gag" before the "tag"
It is—what shall we say?
A chance let slip through want of grip
Mulled, messed, and thrown away.

FINALE full orchestra, trombones at wings:—

18. The Martlet on the ducal cap looked forth across the sea.
(So fare you well, so fare you well, the birds are flying forth.)
She waited for the ermined horse that bears the fleur de lys.
She waited for the coming of the Centaur and the Bee.
(Be welcome now, be welcome now, as Needle to the North)

19. The Martlet on the ducal cap hath set her nest in order
(So fare you well, so fare you well, the birds are preened for flight.)
The Lion of the flaming sword was given her to warder.
She made the Northern Hills her rest, the Southern sea her border.
(Be welcome now, be welcome now, as Polestar in the night)

20. The Martlet on the ducal cap hath spread her wings to go
(So fare you well, so fare you well, the stoutest vans may rest.)
No velvet pastures wait thy feet nor centaur with the bow
But hives beset of many bees that murmur to and fro.
(Be welcome now, be welcome now, winged horses from the West).]