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A Tale of Two Cities

by
 Where the sober-colored cultivator smiles
 On his byles;
Where the cholera, the cyclone, and the crow
 Come and go;
Where the merchant deals in indigo and tea,
 Hides and ghi;
Where the Babu drops inflammatory hints
 In his prints;
Stands a City -- Charnock chose it -- packed away
 Near a Bay --
By the Sewage rendered fetid, by the sewer
 Made impure,
By the Sunderbunds unwholesome, by the swamp
 Moist and damp;
And the City and the Viceroy, as we see,
 Don't agree.
Once, two hundered years ago, the trader came Meek and tame.
Where his timid foot first halted, there he stayed, Till mere trade Grew to Empire, and he sent his armies forth South and North Till the country from Peshawur to Ceylon Was his own.
Thus the midday halt of Charnock -- more's the pity! Grew a City.
As the fungus sprouts chaotic from its bed, So it spread -- Chance-directed, chance-erected, laid and built On the silt -- Palace, byre, hovel -- poverty and pride -- Side by side; And, above the packed and pestilential town, Death looked down.
But the Rulers in that City by the Sea Turned to flee -- Fled, with each returning spring-tide from its ills To the Hills.
From the clammy fogs of morning, from the blaze Of old days, From the sickness of the noontide, from the heat, Beat retreat; For the country from Peshawur to Ceylon Was their own.
But the Merchant risked the perils of the Plain For his gain.
Now the resting-place of Charnock, 'neath the palms, Asks an alms, And the burden of its lamentation is, Briefly, this: "Because for certain months, we boil and stew, So should you.
Cast the Viceroy and his Council, to perspire In our fire!" And for answer to the argument, in vain We explain That an amateur Saint Lawrence cannot fry: "All must fry!" That the Merchant risks the perils of the Plain For gain.
Nor can Rulers rule a house that men grow rich in, From its kitchen.
Let the Babu drop inflammatory hints In his prints; And mature -- consistent soul -- his plan for stealing To Darjeeling: Let the Merchant seek, who makes his silver pile, England's isle; Let the City Charnock pitched on -- evil day! Go Her way.
Though the argosies of Asia at Her doors Heap their stores, Though Her enterprise and energy secure Income sure, Though "out-station orders punctually obeyed" Swell Her trade -- Still, for rule, administration, and the rest, Simla's best.

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