Divided Allegiance

(notes by Philip Holberton, drawing on the work of Andrew Rutherford and Thomas Pinney)


There is a version handwritten by Kipling in Notebook 1, dated 15 June 1883. For details of Notebook 1 see Rutherford p. 24.

Published in Quartette, a Christmas Annual by “Four Anglo-Indian Writers”. This was the work of Kipling, his sister, his father and his mother. It appeared in December 1885, having been printed by the Civil and Military Gazette Press, where Kipling himself oversaw the production. This is one of five poems by Kipling in the Annual; like the others, it was not collected by Kipling but appears in Rutherford (p. 194) and Pinney p. 1781.
Pinney notes that in the copy of Quartette in the British Library, which was presented by Kipling’s father to Meta de Forest in 1885, this poem is signed by Kipling. See also “The Second Wooing”.

The poem

An enigmatic little piece, suggesting that is unwise to judge by appearances. All that glitters is not gold…or silver.

Notes on the Text

My Round Rupee The silver rupee was the basic monetary unit of India. There were some 13 rupees to the £ sterling. In his verse letter to Edith Macdonald “Dear Auntie, your parboiled nephew”, Kipling puts his salary at this time as ‘two hundred a month.’

bunnia merchant.

sweated illicitly made lighter than it should be. Silver coins, which were soft and subject to wear, could be debased and silver stolen by ‘clipping’ (shaving metal from the coin’s rim) or ‘sweating’ (shaking the coins in a bag and collecting the dust).


©Philip Holberton 2019 All rights reserved