Friday, June 26, 2015

Lahore Shooting Case: CMG March 18, 1886

An account of a shooting case. A British soldier (Higgins) pulls out a pistol when a sugar cane seller asks for payment. A sepoy attempts to subdue him, but is shot. This transcripton of the trial includes three Indian witnesses, the sugar-cane seller, a man identified as "Dhoondu," and a man identified as Abdul Rahman.

CMG March 17, 1886: Sat Sabha meeting (scrap poss. by Rudyard Kipling

Quite a number of the "Week in Lahore" scraps in the Civil & Military Gazette in this time period could be authored by Kipling. This one in particular, on the meeting of the Sat Sabha group in Lahore, seems a likely candidate. Kipling's native informant may be Nikka Singh, an assistant at the CMG whose names crops up from time to time in its pages (Nikka Singh was also known as Bhai Nikka Singh -- a supporter of the Singh Sabha movement).

The CMG (Kipling?) writes:

"The chronicler gives no account of the prayers or the speeches but he is great on the poetry. One of the Sabha lecturers quoted it all of a sudden and before the Sabha could stop him. Lalla Behari Lal, Manager of the Sabha, died last year--hence the verses, which run as follows: 

Sat Sabha only founded by you
And worked with success for years
Is left behind, since months a few
To nought--sigh and to shed tears
You were of great men of time
Your Gurmukhi works all remind us,
And a pious saint of the clime.
We see you on a turn behind us.
"Properly expanded, there is material for two good verses in the last breathless rush of rhyme. 'A pious saint on a turn' is a new and striking simile, evidently borrowed from some account of the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, who, as every one knows was a pious saint done to a turn. The pity of it is that Lalla Behari Lall was the author of some really excellent vernacular hymns for the use of the Sat Sabha, and in some places evidently inspired if not suggested by the Psalms of David. 
The commentary on the poem makes me think this must have been authored by Kipling. (Kipling's boss, the editor Stephen Wheeler, had little interest in poetry. Also, since this poem would have been delivered in Punjabi, the rhyming couplets in the translation given above may have been assembled by Kipling.

* * *
The Sat Sabha movement was connected to the Brahmo Samaj movement, but had a distinctively Punjabi emphasis and focus:
Led by Behari Lal, the secretary of the Sabha, they debated and argued in favour of Punajbi. Behari Lal`s reputation as a poet and composer of popular bhajans strengthened his advocacy of the Punjabi language.Behari Lal wrote hymns with two goals in mind : first to create devotional songs in praise of a theistic God and secondly to provide alternatives to those traditional songs of Punjabi women which he and other reformers considered immoral. 
Under the leadership of Behari Lal, the Sat Sabha opened a small school in 1882. This school taught in Punjabi using the Gurmukhi script. The Sabha also presented a memorandum to the Hunter Educational Commission in which they argued their standpoint on language and education.The Sat Sabha`s advocacy of Punjabi made it one of the few groups outside of the Sikh community to espouse this language in the debates of the late nineteenth century. 
The second major leader of the Sat Sabha was Pandit Bhanu Datta Basant Ram, the Acharya of the society. Bhanu Datta took a prominent role in the religious debates among Punjabi Hindus. He clashed with the great orthodox leader Pandit Shraddha Ram Phillauri and later opposed the Arya Samaj when Swami Dayanand came to Lahore in 1877. Pandit Bhanu Datta provided leadership for the Sat Sabha after the death of Behari Lal in 1885.Even though the Sabha did not become a mass movement like the Arya Samaj and remained confined to Lahore, it provided a centre for discussion and debate during the latter years of the nineteenth century. Numerous prominent individuals spoke at the Sabha hall including Novin Chandra Rai, Pandit Ganesh Datt, Yogi Shiv Nath, and S.P. Bhattacharjee. 
The school was well maintained and the annual anniversary celebrations of the Sat Sabha remained an event of importance in the life of Lahore. Throughout its history it continued to be seen as a "Brahmic institution, whose object is to inculcate pure Theistic worship." The Sat Sabha remains in Punjab history as an early example of social and religious reform stemming directly from the cultural influence of the Brahmo Samaj, but in a particularly Punjabi form tied to the advancement of the Punjabi language. (Source)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Kipling Interactive Timeline: Under Construction

This is something I'm working on this summer. Posting here as a test to see if it works in Blogger ( disallows iframe embeds)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lahore Government College 25 November 1877

Here is an account from Lockwood Kipling of a prize ceremony that took place at Government College (now known as "Government College University") in November 1877. The principal of Government College at the time was G.W. Leitner, who is mentioned in biographies of Rudyard Kipling as a kind of rival of Lockwood's -- an "Orientalist" of the old school (i.e., someone to be contrasted to a more Macaulayan intellectual like Lockwood Kipling). As I understand it, the Government College was first established in 1864, and moved to an independent site around 1871. By 1877 it is evidently in a growth phase. 

In the second half of the account below there is some surprise at the presence of many "native" Indian scholars, as well as at the emerging South Asian university culture. Some of the disdainful tone towards "native" learning will also be picked up later by Rudyard in his various short stories and "Departmental Ditties": 

In emulation, I suppose, of the variously coloured hoods and gowns of English colleges, the students of some of the classes wear a kind of uniform, the most prominent feature of which is a loose collar worn round the neck, something like a chuprassy's belt--red, bordered with yellow, by pundits; and with green, by moulvies; and red and mauve by engineering students. I believe this is a novelty in Oriental schools. A mere European, occupied with modern work and modern ideas, has not often an opportunity of seeing professors of Eastern tongues learned in metaphysics and poetry. So it was with some degree of pride in Lahore that the presentation of the President of "a distinguished mathematician," "a very distinguished author," "a distinguished Sanscrit scholar," "a very learned professor of Vedantic philosophy," and a "poet laureate" in Sanscrit, were witnessed."

Lockwood Kipling on Caste/ June 1877

I have a pretty substantial backlog of topics to cover, many of them connected to my brief research trip to Sussex back in June. For a variety of reasons, I haven't been able to follow up on that work much, though I'm hoping to now make a dent in it.

We'll start small, with some clippings from Lockwood Kipling. Rudyard's father was a journalist in his own right for years in Bombay and then Lahore -- a very well-established columnist by the time his son began to write for the CMG. At Sussex, there are several scrapbook of Lockwood Kipling's own columns from several different newspapers.

Here is one scrap that caught my eye, on caste. In it, Lockwood Kipling raises an eyebrow at the growing British missionary interest in attacking the Hindu caste system. He suggests that what he sees as a somewhat crude hostility to caste might be the zealotry of new arrivants on the Indian scene.

The article begins on a somewhat smug note, noting that when Missionaries talk about caste, "although we get a great deal of sound and fury, it is seldom that we find much philosophical breadth of view, or sound reasoning, in either Dr. Duff or Dr. Duffer, who will persist in regarding it as a separate and distinct part of the system of Oriental life--a detached hydra-head, rather more important than the rest, which only needs to be lopped off by a few well-directed blows."  Lockwood Kipling then moves to suggest that a deeper understanding of the "system of Oriental life" will reveal that one cannot simply "lop off the head" of caste. In the second paragraph he then suggests that a version of caste is very much alive at home:

And yet caste, which is to be destroyed off hand in India, is in England and in the rest of Europe the bulwark of the church. We gloss this fact, but it is none the less true. To take but one instance merely, is it not an unwritten law that members of an aristocracy shall conform either to what is actually the State-Church, or to what has been the State-Church at some former period of the national history? Although England is a Protestant country, an English gentleman does not lose caste when he joins the Roman Catholic communion; but he distinctly loses caste when he becomes a Dissenter. Ask Dr. Douglas if he does not.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Edwin Arnold Remembers the Mutiny: March 4, 1886

In March of 1886, Edwin Arnold was visiting India for the first time in many years. He had been the principal of the Government Sanskrit College at Poona (Pune) during 1856-61, then gone back to England to work at the Daily Telegraph. He became famous for a book of poems he published called The Light of Asia (1879), narrating the life of the Buddha.

Here he is giving an account of the history of Delhi in the Mutiny, with an emphasis on the locations where the fighting too place -- many of them eminently visitable spots for tourist visits nearly 30 years later.

It might be interesting to compare Edwin Arnold (who was passionate about Buddhism, but evidently quite patriotic and an unrepentant Imperilaist) to others we have been discussing, such as M.A. MacAuliffe (passionate about Sikhism), or Annie Besant (the famous theosophist).

Mappila Murders (Southern India), March 2 1886

This is a case being tried in the Madras High Court. A family of "Moplahs" (Mappilas) are described as having been murdered -- four out of five children, and their mother and father, were all cut to pieces and then burned by a mob. British soldiers then shot down most of the killers, leaving three men to be tried for the murders. Here the defendants are trying various legal mechanisms and denials to protect themselves. 

The family in question is described as having converted to Islam, and then un-converted. It's also complicated by the sense of caste. I do not know a lot about the kind of violence during this period, though it does appear to  be generally part of the build-up to what would be called the Malabar Rebellion of 1921. 

Civil & Military Gazette
March 2, 1886

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Arya Samaj meeting in Lahore March 2, 1886

Report of an Arya Samaj meeting in Lahore, March 2, 1886. Alongside the Singh Sabha movement in the Sikh community, the Arya Samaj was a major reform movement within Hinduism. Since Kipling, in his accounts of life at the Civil & Military Gazette, never mentions any Indian correspondents working for the paper, one wonders who actually attended and observed the proceedings. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Watch Out for Bombay Oysters January 18, 1886

Murderous oysters, a riding accident, and a military fracas (as far as I can tell, entirely involving British / European soldiers, albeit from different parts of England.

January 18, 1886, Civil & Military Gazette

Madhava Rao on Flattery January 18 1886

From the Civil & Military Gazette of Lahore, January 18, 1886

The more I see of Madhava Rao, the less I like him. There's a whole architecture of power and social relations entailed in this little scrap. It appears to be intended for fellow "natives," though my guess is that it had far more British readers than native readers. Madhava Rao called himself "Native Thinker," but "native informant" might seem to be more salient given that dynamic.

Obituary for Baboo Harbans Sahay of Bihar 3 2 1886

Following is a long obituary for Baboo Harbans Sahay of Bihar in the Civil & Military Gazette of Lahore. The obit. sells him as a social reformer and friend of the poor, but in fact he was a major Zemindar (landlord)-- apparently the second largest landholder in the state of Bihar at the time of his death.

He's mentioned in this book as a major proponent of the Bengal Tenancy act of 1885.

A few lines from the below seem worth quoting: "It was a special triumph in India that a man of humble origin should have succeeded in becoming the trusted friend and adviser of the wealthy, and if he had done nothing more than demonstrate that there was a higher law than caste law, his life would have conveyed an important lesson. But that he should have clung to the memory of his own humble starting point in life, and should have striven earnestly to improve the lot of the masses, bespoke a noble element in the man, and a mind superior to the temptations that come with prosperity."

But others have a different perspective on Babu Harbans Sahay. According to a contemporary quoted in Sachidananda's Elite and Development, the Tenancy Act favored by Sahay "carried many amendments favourable to the zamindari cause though the Act is still more favourable--partially and unjustly more fvourable--to the tenants and 'peasant proprietors', and requires some necessary, just, and useful amendments. . . "

Maharajah Dalip Singh Leaves for Bombay: March 2 1886

Maharjah Dalip Singh, son of Ranjit Singh, lived most of his life in exile in England after the age of 13. 

In 1886 he tried to visit India via steamer after a more than 35 year gap. Here is a scrap announcing he is on his way, and speculating on his motives. According to Wikipedia (take w/grain of salt), Dalip Singh's real interest was in reconverting to Sikhism after having been raised away from any Sikh community. (Will try to verify this.) 

As the CMG speculates, the British authorities were nervous about the symbolism of an exiled king returning. The authorities would in fact bar him from proceeding any further than Aden. He would go through a symbolic re-conversion there, but then be returned to England. Dalip Singh's estate in England, Elveden Hall, still stands; it was used, in 2004, as one of the "Indian" sets in Mira Nair's Vanity Fair

Eloping with a Parsee Girl. February 24, 1886

Civil & Military Gazette, February 24, 1886.

Goan man wanted for kidnapping a 15 year old Parsee girl. He persuaded her to elope with him, but his father suspects the man only wanted her because of the jewelry she was wearing (or took from her parents' house?). The neighborhood Mazagon is mentioned, which makes me think this episode started in Bombay:

A Daring Escape Attempt February 18 1886

Setta Rao of Mysore attempts to escape from police custody by swapping clothes with his servant, who physically resembles him. Caught anyway. 

Civil & Military Gazette: February 18, 1886. 

CMG February 16 1886: Singh Sabha meeting

The first reference I've found in the Civil & Military Gazette to the Singh Sabha movement. Is the Bhai Nikka Singh the same Nikka Singh who works as an accountant for the Civil & Military Gazette?

Also interesting to see a report of another murder of an Indian person in Lahore, the third in a week. Admittedly, Mian Mir is a couple of miles away from the "white city" (British part of Lahore)... 

Tulsi Dass Arrested in England February 13 1886

A curious account of a Punjabi known as Tulsi Dass [sic], described as being arrested in West Ham, England, while attempting to address a crowd. The CMG seems to understand his grievance to be that he wants his property restored to him, and he's in England demanding a letter from the Queen Empress verifying that his property will in fact be restored.

A Google search doesn't confirm who this guy was, nor have I been able to find out more about his story. The image of a destitute Indian man being repeatedly arrested for disturbing the peace in England -- while addressing British crowds in his own language! -- is really thought provoking. Let's just say it makes for a fantastic metaphor.            

Double Murder in Lahore! February 12 1886

An Indian woman and her servant are found strangled in Lahore. February 12, 1886. The CMG surmises a link between an uptick in robberies in Lahore with the expulsion of criminals from nearby Amritsar.

Madhava Rao Defends Annexation of Burma

T. Madhava Rao, the "Pet Native" intellectual of the Anglo-Indian papers, is quoted in the Civil & Military Gazette on February 10, 1886, supporting the annexation of Burma.

T. Madhava Rao's career is summarized in detail at Wikipedia. He would join the Indian National Congress in 1887, but resign in 1889. He seems to have been one of the "native" intellectuals who knew how to say exactly what the authorities wanted to hear.

Departmental Ditties in the CMG, February 1886

The CMG publishes several of Kipling's poems in the spring of 1886, always as "Departmental Ditties."

1. Kipling's poem "Army Head Quarters" appears in the February 9 1886 edition of Civil & Military Gazette. Annotations here, the full poem is here.

Kipling's use of Hindi words is always intriguing to me. This particular poem has Khitmutgar (butler), references to deodar trees, "warbled like a bul-bul," and the Doaba region of Punjab (the Doaba is here). All of these are principally employed to suggest Anglo-Indian authenticity. His audience is always presumed to be fellow Anglo-Indians (never Indians themselves), here specifically with military or government connections. Interestingly, Kipling himself was never in the military, and is only secondarily a government employee (i.e., because the CMG is also an official government organ).

2. Kipling's poem "The Rupaiyat of Omar Kal'vin" appears in the January 30, 1886 edition of the CMG. 
David Page's notes on the poem at are here; the poem itself is here. The "Rupaiyat of Omar Kal'vin" uses very little Hindustani vocabulary, but what is interesting about it is the way it links expansion into the Northwest Frontier Provinces and Afghanistan with the British Raj's increased demand for revenue.

3. Kipling's poem, "Studies of an Elevation" appears in the February 16, 1886 edition of CMG.'s notes are here (they incorrectly mark the first date of publication as February 9). The poem itself is here. Interestingly, the 'dialect' words here are all from Hebrew -- not Hindustani. The theme is not a surprising one -- a "Gubbins" has risen through the ranks of English India ahead of the poem's speaker, and his rhetorical question is how and why.

4. Kipling's "A Legend of the Foreign Office" (first printed as "A Legend of the F.O.") appears in the February 23, 1886 issue of CMG.'s notes for the poem are here; the poem itself is here. This poem, like "Army Head Quarters," liberally uses Hindustani and Anglo-Indian words: dasturi, bakshi, thana, zenana, simpkin, peg. (The particular usage of "dasturi" to mean "bribery" here is a little questionable...)

Indian Representatives in Parliament? Feb 8 1886

Another interesting bit here -- a discussion (not taken particularly seriously by the British) of having a certain number of Indian representatives in British parliament.

Civil & Military Gazette, February 8, 1886.

The article excerpted by the CMG below is by Y.N. Ranade, who is known as the editor of a monthly journal called English Opinion on India (see this footnote in Antoinette Burton's book, Empire in Question). Also mentioned in the article by Ranade is Lalmohan Ghosh (spelled as Lalmohan Ghose below),. who would later serve as president of the Indian National Congress): see Wikipedia

Murder Averted! Woman handcuffed to rails! Feb 6 1886

Another sensationalistic story in the Civil & Military Gazette, this one printed on February 6 1886:

Kipling sometimes took these scraps of news and turned them into stories. He apparently used the story of a servant imprisoned for three months for stealing a cricket ball as the basis for his short story "The Story of Muhammad Din" (see here). I'm a little sceptical of that, frankly (because the story Kipling later wrote didn't involve a servant going to prison), though the general principle seems hard to escape: Kipling's incredibly prolific fiction writing in the late 1880s and 1890s regarding India must have been linked to the stories he heard and read about working as a journalist.

In any case, there's a story behind the account given above of a woman tied to the rails on the South Indian Railway... 

Human Sacrifice at Kali Temples? February 5 1886

From time to time there are scraps of news in the Civil & Military Gazette I find truly surprising or weird. Here is an account apparently of human sacrifice (though actually it appears to be two separate incidents, narrated here together.)

I don't know the history of this -- or the possibility that British authorities might have been misinterpreting the deaths described in the Civil & Military Gazette in a short news scrap on February 5, 1886:

Kali is one of the Hindu deities western anthropologists have long used as evidence of the "savage" underside in Hindu ritual. As recently as 2010 there were stories in the Indian media about a possible human sacrifice near Kolkata, and there was an extensive article in Time in 2002 that essentially took it for granted that these sacrifices still occur on a regular basis. The Time article is a little short on specifics, however, and I'm inclined to take its premises with a grain of salt. 

A quick search of Books.Google only affirms that the British seemed pretty confident that they were responsible for stopping regular human sacrifices at Kali temples. See this account from 1914, for example. But recent scholars who have worked on Tantra or Kali (such as Jeffrey Kripal) have largely not mentioned this, and I'm not sure why. Is it because they find it obvious that this didn't occur, and don't feel the need to address an old, self-serving British myth about Hinduism? Or is it because they presume that the British colonial accounts were correct, but would rather not dwell on this aspect of Kali worship? 

I do not know of any Hindu sources that confirm this practice. There is a fair amount of corroboration between the British sources (the account in the link above, from 1914, also names Bastar, for instance, as a place where human sacrifices had recently occurred). Several sources all seem to confirm the story that human sacrifices occurred "every Friday" until the British "put a stop to it" in the 1830s, but it's possible this is simply the recirculation of a myth taken as fact without any actual archeological evidence. 

Church Notices February 1, 1886

Most of the time, the Church notices in the Civil and Military Gazette are relatively modest in Lahore -- only two or three churches are listed as having services. For some reason, on February 1, 1886, the Church notices for the coming Sunday services are  quite extensive. 

People who know the history of Lahore know that the "Pro-Cathedral" named here is actually the tomb of Anarkali, consecrated as St. James church, and used by the British for services between 1851 and 1887, when the new Cathedral was built. A Pro-Cathedral is defined as a temporary cathedral. Thus British Anglicans, including the Kiplings, routinely worshipped at a "Church" that was originally built by the Mughals as a tomb for a slave woman, dancer, and mistress of Prince Saleem (Jahangir). (One also sees some Catholic churches and a Methodist church listed below.)

A brief sketch of the history of the Cathedral at Lahore is here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

M.A. Macauliffe Responds, Defends his Work January 23 1886

Civil & Military Gazette prints an article on "Islamism [sic] and Sikhism" on January 15, 1886, which goes unsigned (see our post on this here). It's possible that it was written by one of the editors (not likely Kipling himself, since I don't think he knew much about this stuff), or someone like Dr. Leitner, who seems to have been one of the more learned Europeans in Lahore at the time.

Here Macauliffe goes on at length to explain the ins and outs of the edition of the Nanak Janam Sakhis he had translated and published. The difficulties he describes are considerable.

On the Annexation of Upper Burma: Native Press January 21 1886

People may be familiar with the rough outlines of the story British annexation of Upper Burma from Amitav Ghosh's The Glass Palace. In January 1886, in the pages of Civil & Military Gazette of Lahore, you see most of the official government line being articulated and defended. For the CMG staff the event was unexceptional, and in any case the party line is to be sustained.

Interestingly, they do print a sampling of the "Native Press" response to the Annexation news in the CMG. Not surprisingly, the Native Press is outraged by the news of the annexation. As one of the clips below states, "We firmly believe that Burma has been annexed for the benefit of English merchants."

At times I have my doubts about the clips printed from the "Native Press" -- some of the passages relating to the Native response to the Income Tax seem a little too conveniently in line with the CMG editors own disappointment with the imposition of the new tax. But the inclusion of text clearly critical of British policy does restore one's faith in the veracity of these translated clips.

Still -- who translated them? And does anyone have access to any of the newspapers named here? Sanjibani, Bangabasi, Bharatbasi, Bharat Mihir?

On the Prospects of a Gymkhana Club in Lahore, January 1886

January 11, 1886

In Kipling's day, Lahore did have a rather minimal Officers' Club, where the constituency was mainly Civil Service Officers. It's described by Charles Allen as being rather minimal, though as an exclusionary space it obviously played a central part in organizing European attitudes towards the rest of the city. 

Here the CMG authors are contemplating a Gymkhana club, with "skillfully arranged gurrahs": "owners to compete for a tandem whip -- would give ample chance for a display of deft driving and possibly -- since leaders are sometimes fresh and saices foolish -- for one or two other things as well. 

The style of the writing is loose and digressive, with references to "Popkins" and "Pipkins," and the prospect of emulating Simla in holding "Lancers on horseback." 

Islam and Sikhism Compared in the CMG January 15 1886

Civil & Military Gaxzette. 
January 15, 1886

Unsigned essay comparing Islam and Sikhism. Starts as a review of a book by Hughes, the Dictionary of Islam (1885). Unfortunately, the columns following the first section are in the crease of the newspaper, and the person who scanned it to Microfilm did it kind of sloppily -- they are only partially legible.  

In the second image below, we see referenced a writer named Pincott, and Dr. Ernest Trumpp, author of Die Religion der Sikhs and the first translator of the Adi Granth. Ernest Trumpp is famously the figure whose translation of the Granth was so bad it provoked M.A. Macauliffe to dedicate several years of his life to doing another one (see this). The substance of the second section of the essay rehearses Trumpp's account of the influence of Bhakti figures like Kabir on Nanak. 

In the third section of the essay (also pasted below the jump, but also only partially legible), the author come around to mentioning Macauliffe by name. (In 1886, Macauliffe was mainly known as the publisher of an English version of the Janam Sakhis; his translation of the Granth would be done in the 1890s. See this

(See our earlier post on "The Mohammedans in India" in the CMG here:

(More after the jump)

Government College Cricket, Lahore Feb 2 1886

So besides the Lahore Club (English only & with limited membership), there's a Punjab Cricket Club, with European members listed on the left.

Interesting to see the "Government College" players are all Indian -- with a mix of Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh names.

Anglo-Indian Response to the Income Tax: Feb 2 1886

The imposition of the Income Tax on India in 1886 is obviously a huge deal, and the Civil & Military Gazette discusses and opines on it for weeks. One of the curious twists is the possibility of working with natives to lobby the government in London to reconsider the levying of the tax:

The most amusing idea in this is that of a "combination": "If the independent Anglo-Indians would realize that their native fellow-subjects have the same interest in economy and more desire for it, they would seek a combination. A joint movement would soon tell on statesman at home."

The thinking behind this is so surprising that I'm not sure what to do with it -- are they really suggesting a joint agitation of white Anglo-Indians with native Indians against the crown?

In any case, the income tax introduced in 1886 inspired Kipling's poem "The Rupaiyat of Omar Cal'vin," and the site also includes some additional historical material relating to the new tax (which on the whole looks pretty fair and not terribly burdensome): link

Another Rant About the Native Press: Feb 4 1886

Another rant in the Civil & Military Gazette about the "Native Press." February 4, 1886

The challenge in this particular rant is that it doesn't name exactly what's provoked it. As best I can guess, someone in the native press has gotten upset about something said about them in an English journal.

Near the beginning of the column, it's strange to see references to the Ilbert Bill and Lord Ripon -- this was a controversy that dates to the spring of 1883, so I'm surprised that it's still a 'current' point of reference even in 1886.

Interesting to see the complain that the Indian community "made a race question of it." Of course, the Ilbert Bill controversy was entirely about race -- but it's only a "race question" when the subordinate community complains. This kind of logic is still very much with us today. A black person in the U.S. has to be very cautious playing the "race card," but conservatives are only too happy to complain of "reverse racism" at the slightest pretext.

The real payoff (if it can be called that ) near the end of the column. Here we finally get a bit more of what provoked these comments.

"The Englishman enjoys humour, even directed against himself -- witness the reception in England of Max O'Rell's work 'John Bull and his Island." Even the travesty of himself which appears in the Indian Marionette Show (Kut Putli Natch) is rather enjoyed than otherwise. [...] We admit and deplore that, of late, some English journals have been provoked by the tone of the native Press, and that fair banter has occasionally degenerated into rudeness."

Again, one is very curious as to what exactly is at the root of this.