One Viceroy Resigns

(notes by John McGivering and John Radcliffe)

Publication history

This poem was first published in the Pioneer on 7th December 1888, the Civil and Military Gazette on the 10th of December and the Pioneer Mail on the 12th, of the same year. It was called “One Word More” in each case. See ORG Volume 8, page 5233, (listed as Verse No. 343).

It is collected in:

  • Departmental Ditties and Other Verses (1888)
  • Early Verse (1900)
  • Inclusive Verse (1919)
  • Definitive Verse (1940)
  • Sussex Edition Volume 32, p. 142
  • Burwash Edition, Volume 25
  • The Works of Rudyard Kipling, Wordsworth Poetry Library

In the collected versions 72 new lines are added at the end, and nine of the original lines are omitted; see Charles Allen’s explanation below.

The original title, “One Word More”, was one of Robert Browning’s, and carried a prose heading “In the Manner of R. Br – – – – ng” followed by three lines from his poem “Bishop Blougram’s Apology”, of which the first three lines run:

No more wine? then we’ll push back chairs and talk.
A final glass for me, though: cool, i’ faith!
We ought to have our Abbey back, you see….

For an account of how extensively Kipling drew on Browning, see Ann Weygandt (pp. 108-9).

For further details of publication see David Alan Richards, p. 39.

The theme

Frederick Temple Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava (1826-1902) was Viceroy of India from 1884 to 1888. On February 10th, 1888, as reported three days later in The Times, this charming and urbane diplomat, a Viceroy whom Kipling liked and admired, announced his decision to retire after four years in his post.

The Viceroy, subject to the decisions of the Cabinet in far-away London, was a powerful figure, making appointments and determining many policies for the British Raj. A change of Viceroy in India could greatly influence the style and direction of governance in India.

The poem offers advice from Dufferin to his successor on some of the problems and people he will encounter as Viceroy. It is written in a gossipy knowing style, and is full of references that would have been readily recognised by his readers in Lahore or Calcutta. The Kiplings knew Lord and Lady Dufferin well, and, after five years in India, the young Rudyard felt himself to be well placed to imagine the inner thoughts of this supple and experienced elderly diplomat.


Charles Allen (p. 271) writes:

…this purports to be the thoughts of Lord Dufferin in the form of an extended late-night reverie in which he broods over what advice he might give the incoming Viceroy, Lord Lansdowne. It is a sombre meditation in the free style of Robert Browning, full of arresting passages as the Viceroy seeks to put his disillusionment into words.

It was not the thoughts put into his his head that had raised the Viceroy’s temperature, however, but the invasion of his privacy. He had confided to an inner circle of friends in Simla that he proposed to publish some poems written by his mother, Helen, Countess of Gifford, to whose memory he was devoted. Ruddy referred to this in his poem, which led Lord Dufferin to accuse Alice Kipling of betraying a confidence. In fact it was the scheming Mrs. Napier whose sour ‘Mrs. Reiver’ character can be glimpsed in half-a-dozen of the Simla tales (In particular “The Rescue of Pluffles” and other Plain Tales from the Hills.

However, Mrs Kipling apologised profusely, and the offending nine lines did not appear again. Evidently the Dufferins bore the young poet no ill-will, and—back in Europe—he stayed with them in Naples in 1891.

Kipling was greatly impressed by the work of Lady Dufferin, who in 1885 set up a fund for providing the women of India with female doctors. See his poem “The Song of the Women”.

Dufferin’s heir, the young Lord Clandeboye, was greatly taken by Kipling’s beautiful sister ‘Trix’. On her account, he proposed marriage, and she rejected him twice (see Charles Allen, p. 227).

Charles Carrington (p.64) describes how Dufferin, disapproving of such a match, suggested that she should be taken to another hill-station. The redoubtable Mrs Kipling retorted that Clandeboyes should be sent home, and home he went. He was still unmarried when he died of wounds in 1900 during the Second South African War.

For Trix and her mother Alice, see “My Rival”.

And for Kipling’s view of Dufferin’s diplomatic skills in small matters, see “Mrs. Hauksbee Sits Out”.

Notes on the Text

[Heading] Lord Lansdowne: Henry Charles Keith Petty-Fitzmaurice, fifth Marquess of Lansdowne (1845-1927), was another accomplished diplomat. In 1883 (line 144), he was appointed Governor-General of Canada by Gladsone’s Liberal government. In 1888, at the invitation of the Conservative Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, he became Viceroy of India, where he remained until 1894.

[Line 1] No more wine, then?: an echo of the opening of Browning’s “Bishop Blougram’s Apology”

[Line 3} Aides: aides-de-camp; young officers attached to a senior officer, Governor, Viceroy, etc. to assist him in social and other activities.

Khitmatgars: butlers, waiters.

[Line 5] Name Book: probably the list of people who are usually entertained by the Viceroy – see line 91.
Charles Allen (p.185) notes that by the end of the Simla season the Dufferins had played host to more than fifty functions and had attended four times that number as guests.

[Line 7] You’re so young: Dufferin was aged 62 at the time, Lansdowne 43.

[Line 9] Ay de mi!: a sigh of regret in Spanish. Not readily translated into English. .

[Line 13] Bombay: the great seaport city on the west coast of India. Now Mumbai.

[Line 15] Eighty-Four: 1884, the year Dufferin arrived in India from Canada.

[Line 16] a man from Canada: he had been Governor-General. the Queen’s representative in Canada.

[Line 17] powder-magazines: stores for gunpowder, which was still used in some firearms at the time.

[Line 18] a Reputation: Dufferin had a history of successful diplomacy over the years which reads like a roll call of Britain’s imperial concerns. He had been Special Commissioner to Syria, 1859–60; Under Secretary of State for India, 1864–66; Governor-General of Canada, 1872; Ambassador to Russia, 1879 and to Turkey, 1881; and Special Commissioner to Egypt in 1882 after the battle of Tel el Kebir.

[Line 19] the strife at Home: political in-fighting between Liberals and Conservatives in the United Kingdom. (The first Labour government was not elected until 1924.)

[Line 25] All roads lead to Rome: an English proverb going back to medieval times and perhaps earlier. Dufferin’s next appointment in 1889 was as Ambassador there.

[Line 28] Egypt: before India Dufferin was Special Commissioner to Egypt in 1882.

[Line 32] half-breeds: people of mixed race. An offensive term not used nowadays.

[Line 33] the Sphinx’s silence: The Sphinx, the huge mysterious statue beside the Great Pyramid in Egypt, has always been seen as a symbol of secrecy.

[Lines 37-8] flame/ Leaps from the rock: perhaps an echo of Moses in the Book of Exodus striking the rock with his staff to provide water for the Children of Israel during their travels in the wilderness, and the pillar of fire which enabled them to move at night; see Exodus 13,21 and 17,1.

[Line 43] shuttered up one doorway in the North: The Panjdeh incident of March 1885, when Russian forces occupied a district claimed by the Afghans just before a visit by the Amir of Afghanistan to Rawalpindi, was deftly handled by Dufferin.

Hostilities were averted, and after the delineation of the Afghan frontier by an Anglo-Russian commission, the Russians ceased their infiltration in central Asia.

See “To Meet the Emir” two articles in Kipling’s India: Uncollected Sketches, 1884-1888, Ed. Thomas Pinney, and “Her Majesty’s Servants” in The Jungle Book.

[Line 47] till Burma pays / Men there: presumably a reference to modest salaries paid to British administrators in that recently annexed country.

[Line 48] Crosthwaite: Sir Charles Haukes Todd Crosthwaite (1835-1915), administrator in India and Burma, who served in various revenue and judicial posts in the North-Western Provinces and the Central Provinces.

[Line 51] Council: the Supreme Legislative Council which advised the Viceroy. See
“Tods’ Amendment” in Plain Tales from the Hills.

[Line 53] a grim lay-reader: A ‘lay-reader’ in the Church of England is a specific appointment, licensed by a bishop, allowing a trained lay (non-clerical) person to take certain services in the absence of a priest, as specified in the licence. Kipling may well be using the phrase metaphorically, for a member of Council authorised to chair meetings in the absence of the Viceroy.

We have not yet identified this grim and uncompromising figure with ‘a taste for coins’, who was evidently moved on by Lord Ripon, Dufferin’s predecessor.

[Line 55] Ripo:n George Frederick Samuel Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon, (1827-1909) Viceroy of India, 1880-1884. See “The Enlightenments of Pagett, M. P.”.

[Line 56] Hopes: (or Hope ?) perhaps Theodore C Hope, at one time Financial Member of Council

[Line 58] Bath: a famous spa and resort in the west of England since Roman times, when it was called ‘Aquae Sulis’. See “A Centurion of the Thirtieth” in Puck of Pook’s Hill p. 149. A favoured place to retire for Colonels and Commissioners from India.

Bournemouth: a seaside resort on the south coast of England, also a favoured place for the retired

[Line 60] C.S.I.: Companion of the Star of India – a much-coveted decoration for public servants in British India.

[Line 61] Legion of the Lost: Kipling was probably familiar with the story of the Roman army commanded by Marcus Licinius Crassus which in 54 B.C.marched into what is now Iran and Iraq against the Parthians, and was never seen again. The phrase may also refer to the fate of the mutinous 55th Native Infantry in 1857, who fled into the hills on the North-West Frontier and were wiped out by tribesmen. See Kipling’s “The Lost Legion” of 1892, collected in Many Inventions; also the poem of the same name published in 1895.

[Line 64] The Times: the great newspaper, first published as The London Daily Universal Register in 1785. The present name was adopted in 1788. Letters to The Times have been an outlet for serious opinions and grievances. ever since.

[Line 65] Hunter: Sir William Wilson Hunter (1840-1900), administrator in India and historian. He was appointed to the Executive Council in 1881. He wrote a favourable review of Departmental Ditties. (See Andrew Lycett, p. 166.)

[Line 66] the Yorkshire grocers: not identified but probably Liberal politicians.

[Line 68] the smallest of them all / White haired… ‘Bobs’, Lieutenant-General Roberts, the diminutive Commander-in-Chief; much admired by Kipling. (also line 184). See Andrew Lycett p. 108.

Roberts knew the Kiplings, and Rudyard reports his pleasure at riding along Simla Mall with him discussing the thoughts and opinions of the soldiers on their conditions and life in general. (Something of Myself p. 57, Andrew Lycett p. 162)

However, the Commander-in-Chief did not like Kipling’s poem “A Job Lot”, published in the Pioneer of September 1st, 1888, (ORG No. 332, uncollected), which accused him of ‘dispensing his official patronage too liberally to his friends.’ (Andrew Lycett p.167.) The five eight-line verses and a four-line chorus can be found in ORG vol. 8, page 5220. The chorus seems calculated to offend:

We’ve heard it before, but we’ll drink once more
While the army sniffs and sobs.
For Bobs its pride, who has lately died
And is now succeeded by Jobs.

Kipling encountered Lord Roberts again twelve years later, during the South African War, where Roberts master-minded the victorious campaign against the Boer commandos. In early 1900 Kipling was briefly on the staff of The Friend of Bloemfontein, set up on Roberts’s orders. See “A Burgher of the Free State”. Also Kipling’s poems “Bobs”, and “Lord Roberts” .

[Line 70] your right-hand man: next in authority. The Commander-in-Chief reported directly to the Viceroy.

[Line 71] Wolseley:  Sir Garnet Wolseley (1833-1913), another of the most celebrated Victorian generals, and Roberts’s deadly rival. His reputation for efficiency led to the late 19th-century English phrase “everything’s all Sir Garnet”, meaning “all is in order.”

Wolseley fought in the Crimean War and the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857, also the Ashanti Campaign in 1873/4, and the defeat of Arabi at Tel-el-Kebir in Egypt in 1882, nine days before the young Kipling sailed for India. (Charles Carrington p. 45).

[Line 73] wants the Lords: He is working towards the peerage he desires. In 1892 General Roberts was created Baron Roberts of Kandahar.

[Line 74] Frontier Roads: perhaps the march to Kandahar by Roberts in 1880 during the Second Afghan War.

[Line 80] Eighty-Five: 1885.

[Line 82] reef: in this context, rocks protruding from the seabed but mostly below the surface, and a grave danger to shipping.

[Line 85] his trick at the wheel: his spell of duty steering the vessel

[Line 86] a galled Mashobra mule: A mule is the offspring of a mare and a male donkey, a powerful animal used for haulage or carrying mountain guns. (See “Her Majesty’s Servants” in The Jungle Book.

To be ‘galled’ is to have sores where the harness or the load has chafed. Mashobra (the spelling varies) is six miles from Simla on the Tibet road. Buck (line 160) had a house there.

[Line 87] the Mall: the principal street in a cantonment or the European quarter of a town. This refers to the Mall in Simla.

[Line 88] ducked and bowed: an inclination of the body and lowering of the head, a greeting by ladies in those days; the equivalent of a gentleman raising his hat to the Viceroy. See line 5.

[Line 91] the withers: the ridge between the shoulder-blades of horses or mules.

[Line 92] thweet thoul: she has a lisp like Tillie Venner in “Wressley of the Foreign Office” (Plain Tales from the Hills).

[Line 111] like the cast…: an analogy from fly-fishing, where one skilfully—or unskilfully— casts a fly on the end of a line across the water to catch a fish. See “On Dry-Cow Fishing as a Fine Art”.

[Line 117] Shibboleths: for the people of Israel in ancient times, test-words or passwords, which betray the nationality of the speaker by his ability to pronounce them; Judges,12,6. ‘Shibboleth’, meaning ‘ear of wheat’ was the word the Ephraimites could not pronounce when challenged by their pursuers at a ford over the Jordan. Lansdowne. the poem suggests, was a member of many ‘in-groups’.

[Line 121] claret glasses: glasses for drinking the excellent red wine from the Bordeaux region of France.

[Line 124-5] the North / Safeguarded: see Line 43 above.

[Line 126] the Rains:  the rainy (monsoon) season in northern India is from June to September.

[Line 127] Rupees may rise: The poor exchange-rate was due to the falling price of silver on which the Rupee depended; this was always a problem for the British in India, who were paid in Rupees.
The Times of 26 January 1888 announced that the Treasury had fixed the value of the Rupee at one shilling and five pence (1/5d.) from the previous value of 1/6d, a 5.5% fall in value. Hope wrote to The Times about the issue on 27 August 1892.

The Times of 26 January 1888 announced that the Treasury had fixed the value of the Rupee at one shilling and five pence (1/5d.) from the previous value of 1/6d, a 5.5% fall in value. Hope wrote to The Times about the issue on 27 August 1892.

[Line 129] salt-tax: Salt had been taxed in India since the earliest times as a convenient source of revenue, and the salt tax was increased when the British East India Company established its rule in 1835. The tax was always a contentious issue for Indians, and Mohandas Gandhi led a celebrated march against it in 1930, as a protest against British rule. The tax was not repealed until 1946, shortly before India became independent.

[Line 130] Congress: The Indian National Congress was founded in 1885, to promote greater involvement by Indians in the government of India. Dufferin was actually sympathetic towards the Congress, and took a helpful attitude towards it.

Kipling was not in favour of Congress, since he felt it did not represent the aspirations of ordinary Indians. See “The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P. The Indian National Congress is now one of the two major political parties in India.

[Line 134] How little Begums see the light: ‘How girl babies are born’, a reference to the rudimentary medical services available to Indian women, an issue of much concern to Lady Dufferin, and indeed to Kipling. See his poem “The Song of the Women”.

‘Begum’ is strictly a title given to female family members of a Baig or ‘Beg’ (a higher official), but it refers more generally to ladies of rank.

In The Naulahka Kate goes out to India to work in hospitals for women, and in “Garm – A Hostage” (Actions and Reactions, p. 72) there is ‘A lady doctor who cured the sick wives of kings’. A male doctor would not have been acceptable.

[Line 139] ichor: in this context, a mythical fluid flowing in the veins of gods and goddesses.

[Line 143] Gladstone: William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898) was the great Liberal statesman who served as Prime Minister four times (1868–1874, 1880–1885, February–July 1886, and 1892–1894). Kipling did not approve of the Liberals.

[Line 145] Cross snores anthems on the asphodel:  The asphodel is a genus of lilies but in this context, probably the poetic immortal flower. The implication is that ‘Cross’ was versifying about flowers while more serious matters were pressing.

[Lines 150-51] claret after olives … vin ordinaire: perhaps the pleasure of drinking good
claret—Bordeaux wine—was spoiled by eating olives beforehand, so that it tasted crude. (see line 121).

Médoc: an excellent claret. vin ordinaire: more basic cheap wine.

Kipling’s implication seems to be that the incoming Viceroy, under the stress of events, will need to take a cruder public line on some issues.

[Line 152] Genoa: a fine ancient city in a beautiful region of northern Italy, and a port of call for traffic to and from India.

[Line 153] ‘Hock’:  is an English term for German wine from the Rhine regions. The implication is that, freed of his responsibilities, Dufferin will be happy to lift a pleasant glass to Lansdowne.

[Line 155] Brompton … Earls Court:  middle-class residential districts in west London. Aristocrats like Dufferin or Lansdowne would not be seen dead there, preferring the fashionable districts of Belgravia or Mayfair, or their country seats.

[Line 158] a leader: in this context, a leading article in a newspaper expressing its editorial views.

once a quarter: every three months.

[Line 159] The Strand: an important thoroughfare in London, running from Trafalgar Square eastwards towards the City. At that time a center of night-life. Kipling lived in Villiers Street nearby alongside Charing Cross Station when he returned to London in 1889.

“Defeat!” “’Orrible Slaughter.”:  (horrible) a newspaper-vendor shouting the headlines to attract customers, how the news of events in India came to the mass of Londoners. As Kipling knew, bad news tended to claim the headlines.

[Line 164] Reay:  Donald James Mackay, eleventh Lord and Baron Reay (1839-1921), administrator in India.

Colvin: Sir Auckland Colvin (1838–1908), an administrator in India and finance member of the Viceroy’s Council. His brothers also had distinguished careers in India and the India Office in London.
(Andrew Lycett, p. 122)

Lyall: Sir Alfred Comyn Lyall,
(1835-1911) administrator and author of several books, including A Llife of the Marquis of Dufferin (1905).

[Line 184] Roberts: Lieutenant-General Frederick Roberts, VC, (1832-1914), Commander-in-Chief in India. See above. He became Lord Roberts of Kandahar.

Buck: Sir Edward John Buck, Secretary to the Viceroy’s Council and author of Simla Past and Present: Thacker, Spink & Co, Calcutta,1904. (Andrew Lycett p. 112.)

[Line 165] Princes and Powers of Darkness:  spiritual warfare between the powers of darkness and light. See Daniel 10,13 and 21; and Ephesians 6,11-17.

[Line 168] palaces—with draughts: There were many magnificent palaces in India, but few enjoyed modern comforts.

[Line 169] Westland: probably Sir James Westland (1842–1903), administrator in India.

drafts: in this context, cheques, usually drawn by one bank on another.

[Line 170] Wilson: not identified.

[Line 171] Hope:  perhaps Theodore C Hope, at one time Financial Member of Council

[Line 172] Aitchison: Sir Charles Umpheeston (1832-1896), Governor of the Punjab, author of several books on India ( Andrew Lycett p. 112)

mackintosh:  (or Macintosh) – a waterproof raincoat, first sold in 1824, made out of rubberised fabric, named after its inventor Charles Macintosh.

[Line 174] Hunter: probably Sir William Wilson Hunter (1840-1900) historian, geographer and statistician.

Marshal: not identified.

[Line 176] Rent Bill: perhaps the Punjab Tenancy Act of 1887. See
“Tods’ Amendment” in Plain Tales from the Hills. for what may well have been similar leglislation.

[Line 185] A country twice the size of France:  Burma (Now Myanmar) was annexed in 1886. It is in fact some 15% bigger than France in land area.

[J McG./J.R.]

©John McGivering and John Radcliffe 2010 All rights reserved