Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
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Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
 
A Legend of the Foreign Office
 
 This is the reason why Rustum Beg,
                Rajah of Kolazai,
Drinketh the “simpkin” 1 and brandy peg,
                Maketh the money to fly,
Vexeth a Government, tender and kind,
Also—but this is a detail—blind.

RUSTUM BEG of Kolazai—slightly backward Native State—
Lusted for a C. S. I. 2—so began to sanitate.
Built a Gaol and Hospital—nearly built a City drain—
Till his faithful subjects all thought their ruler was insane.
 
Strange departures made he then—yea, Departments stranger still:        5
Half a dozen Englishmen helped the Rajah with a will,
Talked of noble aims and high, hinted of a future fine
For the State of Kolazai, on a strictly Western line.
 
Rajah Rustum held his peace; lowered octroi dues a half;
Organised a State Police; purified the Civil Staff;        10
Settled cess and tax afresh in a very liberal way;
Cut temptations of the flesh—also cut the Bukhshi’s 3 pay;
 
Roused his Secretariat to a fine Mahratta fury,
By an Order hinting at supervision of dasturi; 4
Turned the State of Kolazai very nearly upside-down;        15
When the end of May was nigh waited his achievement’s crown.
 
Then the Birthday Honours came. Sad to state and sad to see,
Stood against the Rajah’s name nothing more than C. I. E.!… 5
Things were lively for a week in the State of Kolazai,
Even now the people speak of that time regretfully.        20
 
How he disendowed the Gaol—stopped at once the City drain;
Turned to beauty fair and frail—got his senses back again;
Doubled taxes, cesses, all; cleared away each new-built thana; 6
Turned the two-lakh Hospital into a superb Zenana;
 
Heaped upon the Bukhshi Sahib wealth and honours manifold;        25
Clad himself in Eastern garb—squeezed his people as of old.
Happy, happy Kolazai! Never more will Rustum Beg
Play to catch his Viceroy’s eye. He prefers the “simpkin” peg.
 
Note 1. Champagne. [back]
Note 2. The order of the Star of India. [back]
Note 3. The Commander in chief. [back]
Note 4. Bribes. [back]
Note 5. A Companionship of the order of the Indian Empire. [back]
Note 6. Police station. [back]
 
 
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