Op-Ed on Rukhmabai April 16, 1887 (Credited to Rudyard Kipling)
Civil and Military Gazette (Lahore)
April 16, 1887
At last the Indian Mirror--the organ of progress—has delivered itself on the case of Rukhmibai [Rukhmabai]; and the result is very pitiful. “Hindu society is not in a state to go so far as to say that marriage is only a contract voidable at all”—whatever this may mean. “We must walk slowly if we want to make headway. A rush often means a fall.” “There is danger that, if marriage were looked upon as a contract, the sacredness of the tie might be lost sight of—that there might be in fact, a degeneration of the institution.” “Anomalies, however outrageous, must be for a time tolerated, if only for the sake of social traditions which are after all the backbone of a nation.” And so the article runs on; showing behind every line of fluent English, the bound and crippled spirit of the ultra-orthodox Hindu, very careful that the ‘sacredness’ of the marriage tie shall shackle woman only.
Then our contemporary, having done its duty, launches into its usual clamour for ‘representative institutions” –its proofs that the Hindu is intellectually equal to the Englishman, and the supreme necessity of giving salaried appointments to the Bengali. It is time that this double-faced policy were abandoned. A class cannot claim all the advantages of Western civilization, and avoid all the responsibilities which that civilization entails on the plea that it is a very venerable race, highly sensitive, and bound hand and foot by the traditions of the priests. English instinct revolts at this; recognizing the race that babbles of High University Education one moment, and the sacredness of wedding babes to babes at the next, as a hybrid, and therefore a lower people. Honest paganism, naked and unashamed before the sun, men can understand and respect; but the shifty, crafty composite creed that cries: --‘Are we not all brothers, and are not my women-folk cattle as the law directs?’ is worthy of nothing but scorn. For his own sake, if ever he wishes to be taken seriously, the ‘enlightened’ native must look to it that the progress he is so proud of reaches his family, and is not merely a weapon to use in the struggle for appointments.”