Published in the Civil and Military Gazette (CMG), 6 March 1885, with the explanatory heading above. There is no signature, but the cutting is included in Kipling’s Scrapbook 2 in the Kipling Papers at the University of Sussex. The poem was never collected in his later published works, but is to be found in Rutherford (p. 264) and Pinney (p. 1749).
Kipling’s poem celebrates the new Viceroy’s insistence on the avoidance of long written statements during debates, which had evidently enabled discussions on the Bengal Tenancy Bill to be brought to a conclusion. The Bill had been under discussion for some years and had now reached the stage of being debated at length in the Viceroy’s Legislative Council.
The CMG’s “Telegraphic Intelligence” in the issue of 6 March contains the explanatory heading, dated “Calcutta, March 5”, which continues:
The Maharaja of Durbungah withdrew a large number of the amendments standing in his name. The amendments standing on the agenda paper were then proceeded with, as far as Section 22; and with one or two exceptions all were thrown out. The Council then adjourned until today.
Kipling’s diary for 5 March records that the poem was written by noon on a telegram received at 10.40 a.m.
Notes on the Text
L-d D-ff-r-n Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Dufferin (left), had been appointed Viceroy of India in succession to Lord Ripon. He was one of the most successful diplomats of his day, charming, skilful, and effective, and a fluent writer. He had been a popular Governor General of Canada from 1872 to 1878. The Kipling family thoroughly approved of him, in contrast to Lord Ripon.
Clôture The technical term for the closing of a debate in the French Assembly by the will of a majority. It was applied to the closing of debate in the British House of Commons when this was introduced in 1882.
D-rb-ngha the Maharaja of Durbungha.
Ilbert Sir Courtenay Ilbert, the Legislative Member of the Viceroy’s Legislative Council.
Habent They have it (Latin). In ancient Rome the singular form habet was used when a gladiator received a fatal blow in the arena.
©Philip Holberton and John Radcliffe 2020 All rights reserved