Music for the Middle-aged



... In the name of common sense, let the mothers of our families—
they are ... the greatest offenders— sing songs that may be 'understanded
of the people', ditties dealing with the conditions under which we of the East
live and work. Here is my scheme, imperfect as yet, for the regeneration of
after-dinner music.

I propose to publish, by subscription, a series of Songs entitled
"Music for the Middle-aged"... I would not, at first, turn our mature
warblers too suddenly from the beaten paths wherein they are wont to travel.
The Form of their songs shall be respected, but the Spirit altered, and I
flatter myself improved in the altering, to perfect harmony with our everyday life.

Take for instance Tennyson's 'Maud' referred to above.
Give her the true local colour, and behold the result:—
Come under the Punkah, Maud,
For the air is devoid of ozone,
And the scent of the brick-kilns is wafted abroad,
And the germs of infection are blown,
Are daily dispersed o'er our bed and our board,
From the huts that our nauker-log own.
Here is something which we can all understand and appreciate. 'Twickenham
Ferry' again, adapted to Eastern exigencies, would obviously run:—
JuldeeAo! JuldeeAo! To the Simla dak gharri,
The fever's about, and the glass going up.
So send in for leave, and no longer we'll tarry,
And by eight in the even at Simla we'll sup.
JuldeeAo! (ad lib.)
No one will be prepared to deny that the open vowels of this refrain are infinitely
preferable to the senseless 'Yo-ho-o' of the original, inasmuch as they convey a meaning
patent to any griffin who has been in the country twenty minutes.

Once more, I submit that all the pathos of parting, experienced by the older members
of the community, is compressed into the following lines:-
In the spring time, Oh my husband,
When the heat is rising fast,
When the coolie softly pulling
Puddles but a burning blast,
When the skies are lurid yellow,
When our rooms are 'ninety-three',
It were best to leave you, ducky,—
Rough on you, but best for me.
When the world come to admit—as it will—the excellence of my system, I make no doubt
that there will arise a race of virile poets, owning no allegiance to, drawing no inspiration from,
Western thought, who will weave for the drawing-room of the future, songs as distinctly sui generis
as an overland trunk of a solah topee, and breathing in every word the luxuriant imagery and abundant
wealth of expression peculiar to the East...
('Jacob Cavendish', Civil and Military Gazette 21 June 1884)