[Feb 12 2004]
Lurgan Sahib's house is shown on the plan of Simla in the Kipling Journal No. 122 for July 1957. It was well-known as it was also a "Curiosity Shop". Lurgan's proper name was Alexander M. Jacob, but a novel entitled Mr. Isaacs (1882) was written about him by an American author, F. Marion Crawford. Jacob was born about 1849 and the novel described him in 1882 as a Persian Moslem with two wives whom he was considering divorcing in order to marry, using the English Marriage service, an English girl. This, of course, was fiction and provided the plot of the novel.
He died in 1921 and his obituary notice in The Times of January 21st stated that Jacob "claimed to be a Turk .... born near Constantinople". Both accounts agree that he was sold as a slave at the age of ten "to a rich pasha who .... made a student of him .... he acquired wide knowledge of Eastern life, language, art, literature, philosophy and occultism". After his master's death he made the pilgrimage to Mecca at the age of twenty-one, which confirms that he was then a Moslem, and went on to Bombay, where he arrived practically penniless. He was employed as a clerk in a Native State on his knowledge of Arabic and, thanks to some successful dealings in precious stones, was able to set up as a dealer in that line at first in Delhi and later in Simla.
The Kipling Journal Nos. 13 and 14 contain further notes. The diary of an officer, who was in Simla a year before the time described in Marion Crawford's novel, contains references to a Mr. and Mrs. Jacob whose invitations he accepted about eight times during the summer and he describes them as "nice Christian people". The Daily Graphic of 23rd December 1891, gives an interesting account, purporting to be first-hand, of Alexander Jacob, who was "in the news" at the time, owing to the "Imperial Diamond" Case which is described in Kipling Journal No. 13. As this account differs considerably, it may be of interest to quote it here in full. After dealing with the case, and mentioning the connection between Jacob and Mr. Isaacs, the article proceeds:
"Mr. Alexander Jacob is a wealthy dealer in gems .... He is of Turkish extraction. His grandfather was an engineer at Constantinople, and his father the first soap manufacturer in the Ottoman Empire. In a recent interview Mr. Jacob told the story of his life as follows:If it was Dholpur that is in Rajputana, 30 miles south of Agra.
[Alec Mason, 1961]