By Honours

“The meteoric shower of honours which has descended
upon the just and unjust this year, not only makes it almost
impossible for us to know ‘Who’s Who in ’87’ but has
driven some weaker minds to the verge of insanity.”—
Extract from a Calcutta letter.

I used to take my walks abroad, my friends I dare not see
Where once I used to speak to them, and they would speak to me. 
My friends are ochre, black, and white, I count them by the score;
But till I learn last week's Gazette I may not meet them more.

How runs the  Doctor's newest name, Mahai—? Mahout—? Moham—?
Mohunt—? Mahomedpudmini, Illuminated Sham?
Dewan–i–Khas or Sri  Diwan is Smith unless I err.
No! Smith's Mir Munshi got the Sri, and Smith himself's the Sir.

So Mrs Smith is Lady S. and Jones's wife likewise;
Or was it Jones who finished up the batch of C.S.I.'s? 
Or was he made a 'Rajah Rao'? Alas! my addled brain
Has mixed him with a Borah Shroff.  Bring out the list again!

Smith, B.C.S., K.C.S.I.,  Jones, C.I.E, C.E. 
Brown, Robinson, collectively, K.C.G.M.C.B. 
That's better! Gul Mahommed 'Rao'; Asraf Mahommed 'Rai'; 
And 'Raja' Babu Chatterjee ... or was he C.S.I.?

Once more, though madness hover near, that awful list I scan!
Asraf Mohammed seems to be a 'Rai Bahadured Khan',
And Chatterjee's a 'Shish Mahal', 'tis plain as printers' ink; 
And Pundit Prem Nath Guru Dutt is 'Brevet Thakur Spink'. 

I wonder why, in wriggling fire is limned the Honours roll,
(Sirdar Khansamah!) and my thoughts slip, eel-like, from control. 
Rai, Rao, Dewan, Nawab, C.B., K.C.I.E., Mahout—
Bahadur flash across my brain—a gorgeous golden rout.

What ha! What ho! Why stare ye so, oh Lords and Ladies gay? 
What means the whisper in the air:—'His mind has given way!' 
I am not mad—Rai, Rubee, Rais, Sub Titular Nawab!
Why cramp my limbs with clanking chain; my frame in maniac's garb?

I am not mad. Psst! Shwye ya Min! Daulat—Inglishia D—!
Who said, Sir Knights, I am not mad? Bring on your Dukes'—I am!

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