4. OUR OVERSEAS MEN
(Notes edited by Alastair Wilson)
3. The Edge of the East
5. Some Earthquales
"20 April. Yokohama. He met Sir Edwin Arnold” (English orientalist and poet, 1832-1904).The letter is ostensibly about those expatriates who frequent “the Overseas Club”; Europeans and Americans, but it develops into a diatribe about the shallowness of the culture change which has been generated in Japan in the forty years 1852-92, after it opened its doors to foreign traders and travellers.
“27 April R finishes a P&O ballad. Sociable in Tokio and Yokohama.”
[As an aside of our own, lest anyone should think that such suspicions never applied to British courts, we would suggest that a reading of Somerville and Ross’s "Irish R.M". tales will reveal that at the same time as Kipling was writing these letters, a Resident Magistrate in Ireland, which was then governed by the British, was likely to be offered far more subtle inducements to influence the course of justice; Ed.]Only in the New York Sun was this letter headed by two verses, attributed to 'King Euric', which touch on the issue of jurisdiction over foreign nationals by local courts, and run as follows:
For hope of gain, or sake of peace,Kipling's poem "The Galley-Slave" pays lively tribute to the labours of the 'overseas men' who served the Empire.
Or greed of golden fee,
You must not sell your galley slaves
That row you over the sea.
For they come of your own blood, of your own blood,
By your own gods they swear,
So you must not sell them overseas,
Because they rowed you there.
It was an August evening, and in snowy garments clad,[Page 48, line 26] Eureka Stockade the Eureka Stockade was the site of a battle in 1854 between the gold miners in the Ballarat area of the then Australian colony of Victoria, and the Government forces (army and police), in which 28 people were killed.
I paid a round of visits in the lines of Hezabad;
When presently my Waler saw, and did not like at all,
A Commissariat elephant careering down the Mall”)
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.In other words, in the Overseas Club in Yokohama the men round the “big telescope” were of all nations, speaking different languages. (The big telescope was to identify the approaching ships, e.g.'that’s the Canton, up from Hong Kong – she’s early'.)
...The statistics of Japan, for instance, are as beautiful and fit as neatly as the woodwork of the houses. By these it would be possible to prove anything, yet remember that the poet says.”In the Civil and Military Gazette version, it concludes with 'remember that the singer says'. There follow eighteen lines of verse (see below) which point out the difference Oriental and Occidental minds and the errors into which we fall when we try to judge Eastern affairs by Western standards.
The stumbling block of Western loreIn the collected version of the letters the last six words and the eighteen lines of verse are omitted, the letter ending: 'By these it would be possible to prove anything.'
Is faith in old arithmetics—
That two and two are always four
And three and three make ever six
Whereas 'neath less exacting skies,
These numbers total otherwise,
Equality of A to B
Is interesting—Greenwich way;
But does not for a moment pred-
-icate the like 'twixt B and A.
For East of Suez, be it said
B is the sum of XYZ.
It may be heat or damp or dew
That warps the numbers, one to ten, so
And twists the alphabet askew
Disproving Euclid and Colenso;
Or else there must be people who
Don't think as other people do.