Bombaystes Furioso

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


These lines were published in the Pioneer of Allahabad, 16 April 1888, and reprinted in the Pioneer Mail on 18 April, and The Week’s News on 21 April. They were unsigned and uncollected, but are authenticated by inclusion in Kipling’s Scrapbook 4 of his own press cuttings in the Kipling Papers at the University of Sussex Special Collections. Kipling was Special Correspondent for the Pioneer at that time, and Editor of The Week’s News.

They are to be found in Rutherford (p. 399) and Pinney (p. 1879).

The Poem

This is a further shot by the Pioneer in the battle of wits with The Times of India in Bombay, over the Bombay Presidency’s resistance to the idea of Sind coming under the governance of Punjab. It is a follow-up to “The Kingdom of Bombay” and the article it headed. It suggests that the Bombay Presidency is self-regarding, pretentious, and rather unhinged.

Bombastes Furioso was the hero of the melodramatic farce of that name published by William Barnes Rhodes in 1810; from bombast, inflated, high-sounding language—and furioso, mad with fury, echoing the epic poem “Orlando Furioso” by Ariosto (1474-1533). Kipling’s punning insertion of the ‘y’ in the title aims the piece squarely at Bombay.


©Philip Holberton 2020 All rights reserved