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me to reach those snowy solitudes, and I found the words of Mignon's song in 'Wilhelm Meister ' flitting across my brain, and taking a new meaning :
“Know'st thou the land where towering cedərs rise
In graceful majesty to cloudless skies ;
Oh there! oh there!
Know'st thou the tent, its cone of snowy drill
Oh there! oh there !
Know'st thou the cliffs above the gorges dread,
there! Scale cliffs, and granite avalanches dare !
Know'st thou the land where man scarce knows decay,
Oh there ! oh there !
CONVENIENCE OF POSITION-INDIAN SOCIETY.
ACCORDING to some people, and especially according to the house-proprietors of Calcutta, who view its attractions with natural disfavour, Simla is a very sinful place indeed ; and the residence there, during summer, of the Viceroy and his members of Council, ought to be discouraged by a paternal Secretary of State for India. The “Capua of India” is one of the terms which are applied to it; we hear sometimes of “the revels upon Olympus;” and one of the papers seemed to imagine that to describe any official as “a malingerer at Simla” was sufficient to blast his future life. Even the roses and the rhododendrons, the strawberries and the peaches, of that “Circean retreat," come in for their share of moral condemnation, as contributing to the undeserved happiness of a thoughtless and voluptuous community. For this view there is some show of justification. Simla has no open law courts to speak of, or shipping, or mercantile business, or any of the thousand incidents which furnish so much matter to the newspapers of a great city. The large amount of
important governmental business which is transacted there is seldom immediately made known, and is usually first communicated to the public in other places. Hence there is little for the newspaper correspondents to write about except the gaieties of the place; and so the balls and picnics, the croquet and badminton parties, the flirtations and rumoured engagements, are given an importance which they do not actually possess, and assume an appearance as if the residents of Simla had nothing to do but to enjoy themselves and“ to chase the glowing hours with flying feet.”
But, in reality, the dissipation of Simla is not to be compared with the dissipation of a London season ; and if the doings of any English provincial town or large watering-place in its season were as elaborately chronicled and looked up to and magnified, maliciously or otherwise, as those of the Indian Capua are, the record would be of a much more scandalous and more imposing kind. Indeed, unless society is to be put down altogether, or conducted on Quaker principles, it is difficult to see how the Anglo-Indians, when they go to the hills, could conduct themselves much otherwise than as they do; and probably more in Simla than anywhere else, there exists the feeling that life would be tolerable were it not for its amusements. After a hard day's office work, or after a picnic which involved a dozen miles' slow ride and a descent on foot for a thousand feet or so into a hot valley like that of Mashobra, it is not by any means pleasant to don full dress, to put waterproofs over that, and to go on horseback or be carried in an uncomfortable jhanpan for three or four miles, and in a raging storm of wind, thunder, and rain, out to a burra khana, or big dinner, which is suc
ceeded in the same or in some other house by a larger evening party. Combinations such as this turn social enjoyment into a stern duty; and as society expects that every woman shall do her duty, the ladies of Simla endure their amusements with the courage and spirit of English women who, for the sake of their sons and brothers and husbands, even more than their own sakes, are not going to be left behind in sacrificing aus convenancés. But no one who knows what European society is will accuse Simla, of the present and preceding Viceroyships at least, of being an abode of dissipation or of light morality. Wherever youth and beauty meet, there will, no doubt, be a certain amount of flirtation, even though the youth may be rather shaky from long years of hard work in the hot plains of India, or from that intangible malady which a friend styles as “ too much East,” and though the beauty be often pallid and passé; but anything beyond that hardly exists at Simla at all, and has the scantiest opportunity for developing itself. Over-worked secretaries to Government, and elderly members of Council, are not given either to indulge in levity of conduct or to wink at it in others; the same may be said of their ladies : and the young officers and civilians who go up to Simla for their leave are usually far-seeing young men who have an eye to good appointments, and,
, whatever their real character may be, are not likely to spoil their chances of success by attracting attention to themselves as very gay Lotharios. Moreover, at Simla, as almost everywhere in India, people live under glass cases ; everything they do is known to their native servants and to the native community, who readily communicate their knowledge of such matters to Europeans. Before the Mutiny, and perhaps for some time after it, matters were somewhat different. From whatever cause, the natives, though they saw the doings of the English in India, were as if they saw not, and, as a rule, communicated their knowledge on the subject only to each other. Now, they not only see, but speak freely enough; and no immorality can be carried on in an Indian station without its being known all over the station, except, perhaps, in cases where the offenders are exceedingly popular with the natives, or are in very high powerful positions, or the party sinned against is very much disliked.
Some sneers have been indulged in of late, even in Parliament, at the alleged industry of members of the Supreme Council and other officials to be found at Simla, as if a certain amount of hospitality and of mingling in society were incompatible with leading a laborious life. But if we except the soldiers and regimental officers, it will be found that most of the English in India, be they civilians, staff officers, educationalists, surgeons, merchants, missionaries, or editors, are compelled to live very laborious days, whether they may scorn delights or not. A late Indian Governor, accustomed to parliamentary and ministerial life in England, used to declare that he had never been required to work so hard in London as he was in his comparatively unimportant Presidency town. “Every one is overworked in India,” was remarked to me by an Oudh Director of Public Instruction, who was himself a notable instance of the assertion; and I have often had occasion to notice how much overtasked Indian officials of the higher grades are, and that in a country where the mind works a good deal more reluc