Further Developments

First publication: Civil and Military Gazette, 13 June 1887


Sussex Scrapbooks 28/3, p.126

This spoof of the behaviour of the civil administration was prompted by a case in Bombay. The regular promotion of civil servants was slowed down by a lack of available positions, and the government had accordingly directed that the situation should be ‘remedied’ by appointing civil servants ‘to offices other then those reserved for them by law’ (CMG, 13 June 1887). In this way a civil servant had recently been appointed to a judgeship in Bombay. A group of Bombay lawyers objected to the appointment, and the governor, in denying the protest, had pointed out that the civilian in question, besides having some legal experience, was ‘a Master of Arts of Oxford’ and had ‘qualified himself in Marathi, Gujarathi and Hindustani’. The Indian Civil Service were an elite, highly qualified academically, often at Oxford or Cambridge. Kipling himself had never been to university, having started work as a journalist on the Civil and Military Gazette at the age of sixteen.


The Article

(Vide next column)
‘High in the ranks of the sixth form of one of the leading public schools in England and distinguished at Oxford, he has filled posts in the Revenue and Political Departments and has exercised the powers of. … a District Magistrate.’
Pioneer June 10th

‘An M.A. of Oxford and a distinguished linguist.’
Pioneer’s Correspondent, June 10th

(Circa 1935 A.D.j Memorial from Unimportant Hamlet, with three quarters of a million of inhabitants, to Very Superior Administration: —

‘Hi! Look here! There’s one of your men administering our Port Trust. He says you told him to. He’s changed the Pilots’ badges, and put ’em into white kerseymere breeches with sword, and warehoused the steam-crane in the dock-transit sheds and berthed all the Zanzibar buggalows at the Apollo Bunder, and the Gulf horses are loose in the ‘hazardous goods’ sheds, where the percussion-caps and kerosine are kept. . . . and. . . and.’

V.S.A.: —

‘Mind your own business. That gentleman is Senior Wrangler and can repeat the Zend Avesta backwards. You are a set of spiteful shop-keepers. Put your head in a gunny-bag. Yah!’

Directors of Obscure Railway Company, with capital of a few millions, to V.S.A. aforesaid: —

‘Would you please transfer the Assistant Collector who is driving, on the pay of his grade, Loco. B.41 all over our line. He drives remarkably well, seeing that he does not know the difference between a big-end and a link-hanger, and blows the piston-rings through the blast-pipe; but the traffic in our jurisdiction has been seriously impeded of late, owing to his going through all the junctions without lights or whistling, and with the brake-lever broken at the shank.’

V.S.A: — ‘

We don’t understand your workshop technicalities. The official you allude to was, till lately, a distinguished light of our Secretariat where he gave every satisfaction to those best qualified to judge. You will, we presume, admit that the Government has some slight knowledge of the capacities of its servants; though you will hardly be disposed to allow that vituperation indiscriminate as yours is the characteristic feature of a debased and narrow intellect.’

Ignorant Engineer of twenty years’ standing (By Telegraph): —

‘Honour report earthworks section my charge being faced Agra stone by lunatic asserts he once Sudder Judge. Line over howling desert. Cost stone carriage only, four lakhs. Please arrange transfer person above mentioned.’

V.S.A. (Also by telegraph): —

‘Remove yourself Rann Kutch, further notice. Gentleman distinguished numismatist, poet, natural historian and Sessions, not Sudder Judge. Protest evidently outcome ignorance, jealousy. Letter follows.’

Incompetent General, V.C. Mutiny, China, Abyssinian, Ashantee, Zulu, Boer, and Egyptian medals in Command Brigade
(Confidential to V.S.A.): —

‘Awful mistake somewhere: whole cantonment laughing. Man in Political cap, alpaca coat and tennis-flannels, come in by this morning’s train. Ordered me to hand over command of the Division and became dangerously excited when I handed him over to guard. He appears respectable and has been vouched for by our Cantonment Magistrate as a Judge of the High Court. Mind evidently unhinged by sun or misfortune. Now in charge Civil Surgeon, Central Asylum. No mention of any missing Judge in Presidency papers; but have communicated to you direct to save scandal. Inform family and arrange for his removal. He swears in the vernacular. Dreadfully.’

V.A.S. (apologetically): —

‘Awful mistake as you say;but we’ll try to hush it up for your sake. Hand over command at once and go to Pachmarri. Judge spoke truth. Block of promotion in Civil Service; shifting ’em into cognate branches y’know. He has been a Major of Volunteers and knows more about the Tantrik Mysteries than any living man. Better apologize to him. It’s a bad business, but we’ll back you up with a Resolution if necessary. Issue G.O. notifying transfer tonight.’

I.G. — ‘

D— your Tantrik Mysteries! G.O. has been issued and garrison is now running Judge over parade-ground to see how he manoeuvres. Better shove him into non-official berth. Mutiny here.’

Pathetic and Overcome Shipping Company to V.S.A. —

‘Our Agents give us to understand that any Civilian is ipso facto Master Mariner, holding Captain’s and Engineer’s certificate and has been used as such, on our steamers by your authority. Unaccountable delay of two last mail-steamers leads us to believe this; but kindly confirm and relieve. Yours, etc., etc.’

V.S.A. —

‘Of course. Not a man in our service but could give your Captain points in Aristophanes, and Indian Law of Torts. Please don’t bother. It’s bad form.’

A year later.

V.S.A. —

‘Curious how these non-official classes swear and throw brick-bats at us when we appear in the streets. Must be want of education. They say they can manage their own affairs best. Of all the indecent impertinence! …. But we’ve got rid of that block in the Service anyhow and now for a comprehensive Resolution: —

WHEREAS, it has of late been abundantly made manifest to us that our trusty and well-beloved Civil Servants have suffered from an undue and unnecessary stagnation in regard equally to pay and emolument, and
WHEREAS we by our own distinguished exertions have, for the time being, circumvented and in divers manners walked round, underneath, through, and over that difficulty,
BE IT THEREFORE ENACTED that, to guard against such stagnation, block or jam in the future immediate or remote, the common or Covenanted Civilian shall be held, caeteris imparibus, facile princeps, multum in parvo, otinm cum dig et alia as by previous enactments set forth and provided, to be equal, fit, imperatively necessary and supremely desirable, to and for, any and every service or services, craft or crafts, trade or trades, profession or professions, art or mystery covenanted or uncovenanted, special or general, private or public, vested or divested, literary, legal, financial, medical, mercantile, dramatic, obstetric, veterinary, administrative, technical, or otherwise, under the canopy of Heaven.