ORG (Volume 5 page 2473) records the first appearance of this piece (Uncollected No. 202) in the Pioneer of 11 and 12 September 1890, and The Contemporary Review of September 1890, after Kipling had left India for London. (The Contemporary Review was a scholarly British monthly journal, a forum for the discussion of serious issues of the day). It is collected in the Sussex and Burwash Editions, Volume 5 in each case.
ORG also draws our attention to “Pagett, M.P.”, verses which appeared in the Pioneer of 16 June 1886, for a similarly uninformed and opinionated Member of Parliament visiting India, reminiscent of the dreadful Groombride in “Little Foxes” (Actions and Reactions). The poem is collected in “Departmental Ditties”, Definitive Verse, Inclusive Verse, the Sussex Edition Volume 32, page 49, the Burwash Edition Volume 25, and The Works of Rudyard Kipling, (Wordsworth Poetry Library).
See also “The Burden of Nineveh” in ORG Volume 4, page 2062 (Uncollected No. 128) a charming story about ‘The Patient East’ in the guise of a delightful girl who is visited by another ignorant M. P., in which Kipling sees the end of Empire, concluding with her prophetic words:
‘They will pass away – all my lovers have. I wonder whether I shall be glad or sorry.’
This piece is also to be found, (unsigned) in Volume 2 of Turnovers, (No. 24) April -June, 1888 and the Civil and Military Gazette of 6 June 1888.
This is, in essence, a political tract attacking the idea that the campaign by the Congress Movement for representative democracy in India reflected the aspirations of the mass of Indians, and was likely to benefit India as a whole. Many readers have found it somewhat tedious in comparison with Kipling’s fiction. To his English audience in India he was preaching to the converted, but these arguments would probably have been news to the readers of the Contemporary Review, and the style of the piece may well have been tailored to this serious audience.
It is, like “Quo Fata Vocant” (Uncollected No. 239) a pot-pourri of places and people, the latter no doubt household names at the time but unfamiliar to the reader of a hundred or so years later. We believe we have traced most of them, and will welcome suggestions for the others.
The story does, does, however, have a certain appeal in that it show an interesting cross-section of the people of India and the opinions that Kipling believed they might express if they had the chance.
Pagett, a Member of Parliament of liberal tendencies, and a lifelong Radical, visits India at the invitation of Orde, a Deputy Commissioner at Amara, a man with whom he was at school. They settle down on the veranda after breakfast to continue their discussion of events since they last met twenty years previously. Pagett is anxious to discuss the Indian National Congress and is puzzled as to why the other Englishmen he meets are reluctant to do so, not grasping that most illiterate Indians had not heard of it and were more concerned with where their next meal was coming from than with voting. This was a concept they did not understand, having always been ruled by force of arms.
People of various backgrounds, British, Indian, and an American woman who is chief of the Women’s Hospital, are introduced to Pagett by Orde, but – apart from one young and and inexperienced English-speaking pleader – those who have heard of the Congress have nothing good to say of it. Orde goes on to explain the immense diversity of Indian peoples to his guest, emphasising the traditional hatreds that exist between them. Pagett is left with much to think about, though how far he is genuinely enlightened is not clear.
For a more light-hearted glimpse by Kipling at British housekeeping in India, see “The Smith Administration” (From Sea to Sea, Volume II)
Charles Allen, in Kipling Sahib (page 284), refers to this story and to the verse, reproducing this illustration by Lockwood Kipling; Pagett is on the left, a stooping unimpressive figure, and Orde in the centre. Charles Allen also draws our attention to “The Head of the District” (Life’s Handicap) published in Macmillan’s Magazine for January 1890, as another expression of the Anglo-Indian belief at that time that the Indians would never be able to rule themselves. .
Charles Allen comments (p.286):
Today both stories leave a bad taste in the mouth, but they had a specific context: the decision of the Indian National Congress to hold its fourth annual conference in Allahabad at the end of December 1888. Initially the Pioneer‘s response had been to declare the body an irrelevance.
However, this time there were twelve hundred delegates in attendance, drawn from all over India, and the movement could no longer be ignored.
The Pioneer was now the leading mouthpiece of those Anglo-Indians determined to preserve the political status quo in India. Under George Allen’s direction the paper waged an unrelenting campaign against the Indian National Congress, one in which the young Rudyard Kipling more than punched his weight.
Always conscious of the debt he owed his chief proprietor, Ruddy was more than happy to do his bit, having convinced himself that the Indian National Congress was a Hindu-dominated political party made up of men disqualified by breeding, religion, history and education from ruling over the Indian masses – in marked contrast to the Muslims, in his view `the most masterful and powerful minority in the country’, possessing strength of character, strong moral convictions based on their religion, and a long history as the traditional rulers of India.
In Allahabad Ruddy had found a champion of the Muslim cause in Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. founder of the progressive Muslim Alighat University,
and he had come to share the Muslim leader’s fears that if the Indian National Congress ever came to power, the voices of India’s Muslim minority would cease to be heard.
This was, of course, the view of leading Muslims when independence for India was under discussion sixty years later, after World War II, and was the rationale for the division of British India, and the establishment of Pakistan as an independent Islamic state.
The identity of ‘Pagett’
ORG (Volume 5, page 2473) notes that “one M.P. who behaved in this fashion was named Caine” but gives no more details. This must have referred to William Sproston Caine (1842-1903) British Liberal politician and Temperance advocate, who severely criticised British methods of government in India, which he visited in 1890. (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 9, page 450 and KJ 120/03. George Beresford (the original” of M’Turk in Stalky & Co.) suggests Wilfred Scawen Blunt (1840-1922)
Roger Ayers, writing in KJ 307/27, goes for Caine, who was a friend of Alan Hume, a founder of the Indian National Congress, and of William Digby C.I.E., who in 1890 was the Secretary of the Indian Political Agency. Caine dedicated his 612-page guidebook, Picturesque India, (Routledge, London, 1890) written after two three-month cold weather trips to India, to Digby, who had ‘first inspired me with a wish to see India and know her people.’
See also “A Return to the East” (Letters of Travel) and KJ 318/35 for drawings of Indian craftsmen at work by Kipling’s father in the Victoria and Albert Museum and a lecture by Dr. Graham Parlett, Curator of the Asian Department.
Some critical comments
J M S Tompkins (page 187) notes this story briefly in her Chapter 7, “Man and the Abyss” where India is, in one way and another, surrounded by death. See the Headnote to “The Head of the District” (Life’s Handicap) for her observations in the Preface to Shamsul Islam’s Kipling’s Law.
In a penetrating and sympathetic examination of Kim in her Chapter 5, Jan Montefiore looks at this story, observing (page 87):
Kim’s representation of the English rule of India as harmonious, benevolent and uncontested (except by the ineffective Russian spies) is seductive because it is articulated, not by Anglo-Indian spokesmesmen as in the early propagandist story “The Enlightenments of Pagett, M. P.) but by Indians themselves. Yet it is unrealistic because it suppresses any acknowledgement of the serious Indian opposition to English rule that in reality existed, and was gathering strength during Kipling’s own years in India.
(The expression ‘Anglo-Indian’, above, is used in the then current sense of an Englishman who lives and works in India. “The serious Indian opposition” presumably began again with a new generation that had no personal knowledge of the Mutiny of 1857 and its terrible aftermath: Ed.)
Alan Sandison (page 66) observes:
…in beating the imperial drum, Kipling wrote stories of a directly propagandist sort; but even then the number which had this as their raison d’être is very small. Of these, one of the clearest is “The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P.” where the Anglo-Indian case is carefully argued and, implicitly, the British presence justified.
Sandison continues (page 78):
But I have also claimed that that Kipling is eminently more than a commentator upon a changing political reality. Even where he is dealing with a highly political action or character we are continually being offered insights more characteristic of the artist’s eye than that of the political propagandist.
Angus Wilson (page 114) looks at this story, telling how:
Kipling received much assistance from his father, returned on leave and equally disgusted with what he felt to be such vague liberal London talk about the country he knew.
And Seymour-Smith (page 164) considers this piece to be the first manifestation of Kipling’s imperialism, and that Pagett is a genuine liberal unlike the man represented in the verse “Pagett, M. P.)
Notes on the Text
the koil: in the third verse of the poem is the Indian Bell-bird.
See also “Little Foxes”, Actions and Reactions, page 238. and Bonamy Dobree, pp. 75 and 122.
puggried sun-hat: usually a broad-brimmed felt hat with a muslin or other light cloth wrapped around it and trailing down the back. as in Lockwood Kipling’s unflattering picture of Pagett (left), crouched over his notes.
a game at Bull: a game where the player discards all the cards from his hand by placing one or more, ostensibly of a stated value, on the discard pile, while others are allowed to challenge the correctness of the player’s statement about the value of the cards being played. The game is also called ‘Cheat’, and ‘I Doubt It’.
Rule of Three: a method of finding a fourth number from three given numbers of which the first is in the same proportion to the second as the third is to the fourth. An abstruse calculation, which would not have been of any interest to the generality of Indian people.
the Mutiny: the sepoy rebellion against British rule in 1857 mentioned in many of the stories. See India in Themes in Kipling’s Works.
Buddhism: a great world religion originating in India in about 500 B.C., deriving from the teaching of Prince Gautama Siddhärtha Buddha – The Enlightened One – (c. 563-483 B.C.) The Lama, a principal character in Kim is a Buddhist monk.
Pun: probably Pune formerly known as Punawadi, or Poona, or Punya-Nagari, the eighth largest city in India, the second largest in the state of Maharashtra, and an important place of pilgrimage for Hindus.
Benares: the famous Holy City on he River Ganges, now called Varanasi. It is mentioned in “The Bride’s Progress,” in From Sea to Sea, Volume II. Kim meets the Lama there at the Temple of the Tirthankers (Chapter XI). See also Hobson-Jobson, page 83.
Lord Dufferin: Frederick Temple Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava (1826 -1902) Viceroy of India 1884-1888. A skilled diplomat, he was on friendly terms with Kipling and his parents (Angus Wilson p. 36). Dufferin was a Viceroy that Kipling approved of, unlike his predecessor Lord Ripon.
See also Kipling’s verses “One Viceroy Resigns” and Cornell, page 60.
‘Un vrai sire: This is the final verse of “Le Pas d’Armes du Roi Jean” by Victor Marie Hugo (1802-1885) from “Odes et Ballades,” in Ballades – 1823-1828, no. 12, published 1828 It can be loosely translated as follows:
A true nobleman, a Lord
Leaves writing to villains.
His dignified hand, when he signs,
Scratches the vellum.
The implication of the sentence that follows is that historically the rulers of India have been better used to the sword than the pen.
Radical: ‘Radicals’ (or ‘Rads’) in late-Victorian and Edwardian Britain were vigorously reformist Liberals, and the object of deep hostility and suspicion on the part of Kipling. British trade unionists from 1874 until 1892, upon being elected to Parliament, saw themselves as Radicals, and Radical trade-unionists formed the basis for what would later become the Labour Party.
baboos: usually spelled babu. Hindi and Bengali for a father, but somewhat disparagingly used of a clerk who speaks English. See Hobson-Jobson, page 44, the notes edited by Roberta Baldi on Kipling’s verse “What Happened”, and Peter Hopkirk’s Quest for Kim, In Search of Kipling’s Great Game (John Murray, 1996) Chapter 13. Hurree Chunder Mookerjee, who plays an important and indeed heroic, part in Kim, is probably the best-known babu in fiction.
Calcutta: now known as Kolkata – capital of the Indian state of West Bengal in Eastern India on the east bank of the River Hooghly. It was the capital of India under the Raj until 1911 and is the scene of “An Unqualified Pilot” (Land and Sea Tales) See also “The City of Dreadful Night” in From Sea to Sea, Volume II, a series of articles for the Pioneer describing Kipling’s visit to Calcutta in 1888. Also “The Song of the Cities”.
Urdu: historically spelled Ordu, a Central Indo-Aryan language, belonging to the Indo-European family of languages, and – with English – one of the two official languages of Pakistan. It is also one of the 22 official languages of India. Its vocabulary developed from Persian, Arabic, Turkic, and Sanskrit, during the Delhi Sultanate (1526–1858). Urdu is thus a classical language with an old tradition.
Caste: the division of society in India into separate groups, which do not intermarry, live together, eat together, or – often – work together. Some occupations are reserved to particular castes, and it is extremely difficult for an individual to cross caste barriers.
It was first observed by the Portuguese who called it caste, meaning ‘breed’, ‘race’, ‘kind’, which the British believed to be an Indian word. See Hobson-Jobson, page 170.
Presidency towns: the early administrative units of the British Empire in India consisting of territory under the tenancy or the sovereignty of the East India Company or the British Crown between 1612 and 1947.
Papuans: people from Papua, now the Independent State of Papua New Guinea in Oceania, consisting mainly of the eastern half of the island of New Guinea. islands. Papuans are thousands of miles from northern India, and even more remote in culture and tradition.
Muharrum: the great mourning festival for Muslims, in the first month of the Islamic calendar, a time of passion and processions, when conflicts between Muslims and Hindus was always a danger. See “On the City Wall” (Soldiers Three and Other Stories page 339.)
Parsees: descendants of Persians who settled in western India, mainly in Gujerat, and prospered in the relaxed trading conditions of 19th-century Bombay. See Charles Allen pp. 24-5, and Hobson-Jobson, page 681. Lockwood Kipling’s first job in India was at the Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy School of Art and Industry, founded by the millionaire Parsee businessman of that name.
Kipling borrowed the Parsee name of an instructor at his father’s School of Art – Pestonjee Bomonjee – for the principal character in “How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin” in the Just So Stories.
The Jat farmer: The Jats are prosperous farming people, with a proud and ancient military tradition, living in many parts of northern India and Pakistan. See Kim p. 270, in which Kim cures the sick child of a Jat farmer:
“But the price—the price,” said the Jat, and threw back his sturdy shoulders. “My son is my son. Now that he will be whole again, how shall I go back to his mother and say I took help by the wayside and did not even give a bowl of curds in return?”
“They are alike, these Jats,” said Kim softly. “The Jat stood on his dunghill and the King’s elephants went by. ‘O driver,’ said he, ‘what will you sell those little donkeys for?’”
The Jat burst into a roar of laughter, stifled with apologies to the lama. “It is the saying of my own country—the very talk of it. So are we Jats all.”
Sansi: a nomadic tribe originally from the Rajputana area of north-western India, expelled by Muslim invaders in the 13th century, now living in Rajasthan, Punjab, and other parts of India. They were placed under the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871, and reinstated after Independence. See Kim (p. 86):
They met a troop of long-haired, strong-scented Sansis with baskets of lizards and other unclean food on their backs, their lean dogs sniffing at their heels. These people kept their own side of the road, moving at a quick, furtive jog-trot, and all other castes gave them ample room; for the Sansi is deep pollution.
See also “The Vengeance of Lal Beg” in “The Smith Administration” (From Sea to Sea Volume II), which tells how a woman from the Sansi tribe tries to better her lot by concealing her origins, but is eventually found out.
telegram: a method of sending messages in the days before the telephone was generally available. You went to the Post Office, wrote your message out on a telegraph form, and it was sent by morse code to its destination, to be written out, and delivered by hand by the telegraph boy.
The Normans conquered Britain in 1066; Magna Carta, signed at Runnymede in 1215, was a treaty between King John and his barons that secured important liberties for the people; the English Reformation followed the breach with Catholic Rome in the 1530s, and the assertion of the ultimate authority of the English kings; the Tudors, from Henry VII to Elizabeth I, established England as a powerful and independent force in the world; the Stuarts, in the seventeeth century, from James I to Charles II, were forced to accept that in the end powerin Britain lay with Parliament rather than the Crown.
Lord Ripon: George Frederick Samuel Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon, 2nd Earl of Ripon, Viscount Goderich of Nocton (1827-1909) Viceroy of India, 1880-1884. Appointed by Gladstone, the Liberal Prime Minister, and popular with Radicals, he made himself very unpopular with Anglo-Indians by championing the Ilbert Bill, which provided for Europeans to be tried by Indian District Magistrates.
Reynolds: George William MacArthur Reynolds (1814-1879) British author and journalist; his Mysteries of the Court (1844) was a long-running serial followed by The Mysteries of the Court of London, which – translated into Urdu – was a best-seller in India well into the twentieth century.
Arms Act: The right to bear arms was authorised in the United Kingdom until the Vagrancy Act, 1824 which authorised the police to arrest those they suspected of being armed for nefarious purposes. The Gun Licence Act of 1870 required a person to obtain a licence if he wished to carry a firearm away from his own property. But it was not until the Pistols Act of 1903 that the sale of such weapons was restricted.
In the Indian sub-continent, the Government, under Lord Lytton, the Viceroy from 1874 to1880, brought in the Indian Arms Act,1878; which, exempted Europeans but ensured that no Indian could possess a weapon unless considered “loyal”. See The Light that Failed, page 1 line 7 and overleaf. (Presumably all the characters in the verse “What Happened.” were considered to be loyal.)
Volunteer Riflemen: See “A Village Rifle Club”.
Lord Lansdowne: Henry Charles Keith Petty-Fitzmaurice, 5th Marquess of Lansdowne, KG, GCSI, etc., (1845-1927) British politician and Irish peer, who served as Governor General of Canada, Viceroy of India, Secretary of State for War, and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
Jamalpur: district and town in Dhaka Division, Bangladesh. The municipality was established in 1869. See “Among the Railway Folk”, From Sea to Sea, Volume 2, page 273.
Bhils: see “The Tomb of His Ancestors”.
Dogras: an Indo-Aryan ethnic group in South Asia living mainly in Jammu, Kashmir, and adjoining areas of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Northeastern Pakistan. There were Dogra regiments in the Indian Army in Kipling’s day. Most Dogras are Hindus, but some are Muslims or Sikhs. See Kim p. 41.
Gurkhas: (right) a martial people from Nepal, Gurkhas are best known for their history of bravery and strength in the Indian Army’s Gorkha regiments and the British Army’s Brigade of Gurkhas. See “In the Presence”, and “The Drums of the Fore and Aft” (Wee Willie Winkie) (pp. 351 and 365).
Biloch mare: The Bilochis live in the regions west of the lower Indus and southeast of the Iranian border. They bred fine horses. See Hobson-Jobson, page 94.
Cawnpore: in Uttar Pradesh, Northern India, (now known as Kanpur) one of the largest cities in India and a major transport and commercial centre. Cawnpore was the site of a notorious siege and massacre of British troops and civilians during the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857.
Marchioness of Dufferin: the wife of Lord Dufferin (above) See “The Song of the Women”
seven thousand rupees: a substantial sum, worth some £525 at the time; the equivalent of nearly £40,000 in 2009. It is not clear where Pagett got his rate of ten rupees to the £, as the price of silver, on which the Indian currency was then based, was falling, and the rate was probably nearer to thirteen or even fifteen. The falling value of the currency is reflected in some of the Indian stories.
…Like Verdi when, at his worst opera’s end
(The thing they gave at Florence,–what’s its name?)
While the mad houseful’s plaudits near out-bang
His orchestra of salt-box, tongs and bones,
He looks through all the roaring and the wreaths
Where sits Rossini patient in his stall…
This was a poem parodied by Kipling and quoted by ‘King’ (‘So, you despise me, Mr. Gigadibs’) in Stalky & Co. (King actually says ‘Master Gigadibs’, see “Slaves of the Lamp” Part I, page 42 line 7) Kipling read Brownng with enthusiasm as a schoolboy.
‘Power without responsibility — the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.’
Baldwin (1867-1947), Kipling’s first cousin, was Prime Minister three times in the 1920s and 30s, and later became Lord Baldwin of Bewdley. (see Charles Carrington, p. 7).
The dead of all times were about us – in the vast Moslem cemeteries … skulls and bones tumbled out of our mud garden walls.
[J. H. McG.]
©John McGivering 2009 All rights reserved