A note on
by Brigadier Alec Mason
This note was written for Volume I of the Readers' Guide to the Works of Rudyard Kipling, pp. 202-3, published by the Kipling Society (1961)
"Mr. Alexander Jacob is a wealthy dealer in gems .... He is of Turkish extraction. His grandfather was an engineer at Constantinople, and his father the first soap manufacturer in the Ottoman Empire. In a recent interview Mr. Jacob told the story of his life as follows:If it was Dholpur that is in Rajputana, 30 miles south of Agra.
`As a boy I engaged myself to the British Telegraph service, then engaged in joining Scutari with the Persian Gulf. After that I had a run of ill-luck. I sailed for Bombay, got wrecked off the Muscat coast, and reached this city (Bombay), without either hat or boots, and with only six annas in my pocket.
This story I told to Mr. Crawford in Simla, as I have now told it to you, and he made use of it in his novel in which he called me 'Isaacs'. It is not true I went to Hyderabad in company with a merchant conveying ladies there for the Nizam's zenana. I was so very poor that I would take no conveyance, and walked all the way from Bombay to Hyderabad. I am employed at Hyderabad, but not by the late Nizam. In fact I never knew him in my life. It was the first noble, the Ami-ul-Kabir, father of the present Sir Kharsheedjah Bahadur, who employed me. I remained with my master for a year and a half, and then went to Calcutta, where I got work from Messrs. Charles Nephew and Co., jewellers.
Leaving them, I served for a short time with the Nawab of Rampur. It was not Ulwar, but Dholpur I served latterly, and I am proud to say, a kinder, more honest old Native Chief I never met. But my stay with him was not all a bed of roses. As was the case at Hyderabad, some officials got jealous of me, and making a false and groundless complaint against me to the political agent, tried to get me dismissed; but they failed. I applied to Lord Mayo, and was left alone in peace afterwards. It was not till the death of the old chief that I left Dholpur State, and went to Simla, where I started the business I now carry on. This was in the year 1877.' "