From "To Be Held for Reference" by Rudyard Kipling:

“All things considered, I doubt whether you are the luckier. I do not refer to your extremely limited classical attainments, or your excruciating quantities, but to your gross ignorance of matters more immediately under your notice. That for instance.” — He pointed to a woman cleaning a samovar near the well in the centre of the Serai. She was flicking the water out of the spout in regular cadenced jerks.

“There are ways and ways of cleaning samovars. If you knew why she was doing her work in that particular fashion, you would know what the Spanish Monk meant when he said —

I the Trinity illustrate,
Drinking watered orange-pulp —
In three sips the Aryan frustrate,
While he drains his at one gulp. —

and many other things which now are hidden from your eyes

I get the Aryan reference, but the (apparently religious) meaning of cleaning the samovar in this particular way eludes me.

Why was the woman cleaning the samovar in that particular fashion?


1 Answer 1


What is the meaning of Browning's monk drinking his juice in three sips? To him (the monk), it signifies the Trinity, to everyone else, observing him, it is proably a meaningless idiosyncrasy. Browning's monk tries to establish his felt hypocritical superiority over his fellow brother in gestures like that.

Kipling's "loafer" McIntosh Jellaludin tries to establish his felt superiority over Kipling's narrator, claiming, among other advantages, a superior education ("an Oxford man" &c) and a peculiar insight concerning his environment. This leads him to the claim that the woman cleans the samovar in a particular way, while the particular significance of cleaning the samovar after that fashion may only exist in McIntosh Jellaludin's perception, clouded by his aspiration to be able to discern meanings that are hidden from the eyes of others.

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