Letters of Marque

Letter XVII

(edited by David Page)

First Publication

22nd February, 1888, in the Pioneer and the Pioneer Mail.

Notes on the Text

For a modern description of Boondi (now ‘Bundi’) and its sights, see The Maps of India web-site.

[Page 170, line 16] munshi clerk (can also be a language teacher). [DP]


[Page 171, line 19] coup d’oeil a rapid glance (French).

[Page 171, line 23] hanging gardens of Semiramis Queen of Assyria in the 9th century BCE, who is said to have founded Babylon with its hanging gardens, which were 400 feet square and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE), the King of Macedon, is also said to have gone to India to follow her example.

[Page 171, line 27] the Versailles of India likened to the great Royal Palace of Louis XIII and XIV of France, a few miles south of Paris. Several famous Treaties of Peace
have been signed here.


[Page 170, line 16] chowk a wide central street or market square. [DP]


[Page 173, line 13] nakarras translated by Tod as ‘kettledrums’.

[Page 173, line 20] Rao Bando the eldest son of Rao Biru, the ruler of Boondi, who died in 1470. Bando dreamed that he met and attacked the spectre of famine riding on a buffalo and was then warned to fill his grain stores. Famine followed in 1486, when he was able to issue free rations of food to the poor and sell the surplus to neighbouring states.

[Page 173, line 22] Haras adherents of Haras, a former ruler of Kotah or Kota and Boondi. [DP]

[Page 174, line 7] do kosh two kos – a kos usually being two miles (3 km).

[Page 176, line 28] chaprassies the men with badges, messengers.

[Page 177, line 30] Sixty-six years ago Kipling was writing at the end of 1887. He was therefore thinking of Tod in the year 1821, and Tod wrote the words quoted on August 5th, 1821. He had in July received letters from Boondi telling of the death of the Rao Raja from cholera. He had 140 miles to travel as the crow flies, yet he had to arrive soon for he had been asked to act as protector both of the young Raja and of the State.

[Page 178, line 12] Rutton Daulat the eye of prosperity, riches, wealth. In
the Maps of India site the Ratan Daulat is described as: ‘a stable for nine horses … built by Rao Raja Ratan Singh.’ [DP]

[Page 178, line 16] Chutter Mahal the Umbrella Palace or Hall of Audience.

[Page 179, line 4] Æolian harp or wind harp generates random musical sounds. [DP]

[Page 179, line 30] Indurgarh over 40 miles away.

[Page 180, line 2] Ram Singh see Chapter XVI, page 155, line 2. [DP]

[Page 180, line 10] Queen’s Jubilee Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Year was 1887 when she had reigned 50 years. [DP]

[Page 180, line 31] Rang Bilas ‘pool of colour’ – possibly a sunken garden.

[Page 181, line 6] hung like Mahomet’s coffin the story that the iron coffin floated in the air at Mecca attracted by lodestones is said to have been invented by Greeks and Romans. Mohammed was buried at Medina; his tomb is a regular object of pilgrimage.

©A Mason and David Page 2008 All rights reserved