Mrs Hawksbee is typical of the majority of Mr Kipling’s studies in social comedy. His success in this kind is remarkable, but it is barren. Mr Kipling realised this himself quite early, for he quite soon abandoned Simla. There are some sixteen stories in Plain Tales from the Hills into which the Simla motive is threaded. In the books immediately following, published in 1888 and 1889, Simla is not wholly abandoned, but the proportion of Simla stories is less. The Phantom Rickshaw (1889) is the last story which can fairly be brought within the list, and this story can only be included by straining its point to vanishing. Of all the groups of stories in Plain Tales from the Hills the Simla group, though it was largest, promised least for the future.
There is another group of Indian tales, a group which deals with the governance of India—with the men who are spent in the Imperial Service. The peculiar charm and merit of these tales is best considered as a special case of Mr Kipling’s delight in the world’s work—a subject which claims a chapter to itself. But apart from this, Mr Kipling’s Anglo-Indian tales—his presentation of the work of the Indian Empire, of the Anglo-Indian soldier and civilian—have an unfortunate interest of their own. They are mainly responsible for a misconception which has dogged Mr Kipling through all his career. This misconception consists in regarding Mr Kipling as primarily an Imperialist pamphleteer with a brief for the Services and a contempt for the Progressive Parties. It is an error which has acted mischievously upon all who share it—upon