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This was a scene for Turner. Turner, who could paint the sun, was the only man to paint this procession of native rulers. You never seemed to get the last word in colour. An elephant would pass covered with cloth of gold and ropes of pearls. “This is the finest of all,” you would say; “colour has gone as far as it can go.” Then suddenly another marvellous combination would spring upon you a group of elephants in gold, emerald green, and jewels, looking like bubbles ready to burst with brilliance, and making the surrounding colours faded and pale by comparison. For once one felt grateful to the dust, the dust that at times rose in clouds and hid portions of those marvellous colour-schemes from our sight, as with a curtain of yellow gauze, bestowing upon them a dream-like mystery marvellously enhancing their unearthly beauty. Every now and then an elephant would rise clear and tangible from this dream of Arabian Nights, and one would catch for a moment a glimpse of some historic potentate, only to be lost the next moment as he passed into the throng of his fellows. For hours that seemed unending the great procession dragged its glittering pageantry along. The different races gathered together from the length and breadth of India were singularly impressive. Fierce, white-robed Baluch and Pathan chiefs who had never even seen one another before, riding side by side with European officers what a contrast ! There was the sullen Hyderabad, with his beautiful note of yellow, and Lord Kitchener riding alone in his uniform of a General, his hand resting on his side, not the stern, impassive figure we read of in newspaper reports, but ruddy-faced and happy, the smile on his lips broadening to a beam as he passed the Jumma Masjid, where many of his friends were assembled. [47-48]

Bibliography

Menpes, Mortimer. The Durbar. Text by Dorothy Menpes. London: Adam & Charles Black, 1903. Internet Archive version of a copy in the University of California at Los Angeles Library. Web. 27 May 2017.


Last modified 2 June 2017