Kipling pp 57-61 | Cite as

My First Book

  • Rudyard Kipling


As there is only one man in charge of a steamer, so there is but one man in charge of a newspaper, and he is the editor. My chief1 taught me this on an Indian journal, and he further explained that an order was an order, to be obeyed at a run, not a walk, and that any notion or notions as to the fitness or unfitness of any particular kind of work for the young had better be held over till the last page was locked up to press. He was breaking me into harness, and I owe him a deep debt of gratitude, which I did not discharge at the time. The path of virtue was very steep, whereas the writing of verses allowed a certain play to the mind, and, unlike the filling-in of reading-matter, could be done as the spirit served. Now a sub-editor is not hired to write verses. He is paid to sub-edit. At the time, this discovery shocked me greatly; but, some years later, when, for a few weeks I came to be an editor-in-charge, Providence dealt me for my subordinate one saturated with Elia. He wrote very pretty, Lamb-like essays, but he wrote them when he should have been sub-editing. Then I saw a little what my chief must have suffered on my account. There is a moral here for the ambitious and aspiring who are oppressed by their superiors.


Indian Paper East India Company Early Association Yellow Paper Chief Town 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1983

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  • Rudyard Kipling

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