Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rudyard Kipling, "A New Departure"

This is a poem Rudyard Kipling published pseudonymously in 1883. It's a response to the Ilbert Bill (which I have blogged about previously). It was first published in the Saturday Evening Englishman in March 1883, and later republished in the Civil & Military Gazette on March 29.

A New Departure
by Rudyard Kipling

He had said, in a Viceregal homily,
(Alas for the sternness of rhyme!)
'I surmise British law's an anomily,
Give place to Bengal for a time.'
These words were the pith of his homily
And Calcutta considered them crime.

from the city of Baboos and bustees,
From that sorrowing city of Drains,
Came the cry:-- 'Oh my friend, let us trust he's
But mad, through long stay in the plains;
Perplexed with the stench of our bustees,
His reason has reeled in the plains.'

And the Planters who plant the Mofussil,
With Indigo, Coffee, and Tea,
Cried out, when they heard: -- 'Blow that cuss he'll
Come down on such folks as we be,
Our coolies will 'boss' the Mofussil,
With his pestilent A.C.P.C. [Amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code]

But the Baboos that browsed in each office
Of Subordinate Civil Employ
Cried 'Hurrah for our Viceregal novice!
Hurrah for the Brahminee boy!
Let the 'mean white 'be silent, and doff his
Pith hat to the Brahminee boy!'

And the papers they print in Calcutta,
And the journals men read in Madras,
Were known in their pages to utter
some hints that he might be an ...!
And this spread, from the sinks of Calcutta,
And the swamps of benighted Madras,
till the thought set the land in a flutter-
'Ye Gods! was His Lordship an ....?'

For his notions of natives were curious,
So India objected, and rose,
And, when India was properly furious,
He remarked, 'This discussion I close,
The heat to my health is injurious,
I hie to Himalayan snows.'

With the tact that belonged to his station,
With a suavity solely his own,
He had set by the ears half a nation
And left it -- to simmer alone.
With his maudlin ma-bap legislation,
He had played merry Hades and-- flown.

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