Thursday, March 31, 2005

Finding Kipling

I stopped in front of my friend's wall where he had hung his various degrees. One of them looked more wordy than others and I peered in to take a closer look. It was a few very well-written paragraphs of what looked like an oath or an obligation.
My friend* explained that he had graduated as an Engineer in Canada and had participated in a ceremony to honor a commitment to a standard of conduct for Canadian Engineers. This is the uniquely Canadian Ritual of Calling of an Engineer which started in 1925. Since then it has been emulated elsewhere, including in the US.
The ritual has a fascinating history, of broken bridges and seven wardens who got together to repair the damage to a profession. However the most exciting part of it to me was the fact that it was Rudyard Kipling who suggested the ceremony and also wrote the actual words that are used as the obligation. I am quoting them below as I found them here.
I _____, in the presence of these my betters and my equals in my Calling, bind myself upon my Honour and Cold Iron, that, to the best of my knowledge and power, I will not henceforward suffer or pass, or be privy to the passing of, Bad Workmanship or Faulty Material in aught that concerns my works before mankind as an engineer, or in my dealings with my own Soul before my Maker.

My Time I will not refuse; my Thought I will not grudge; my Care I will not deny towards the honour, use, stability and perfection of any works to which I may be called to set my hand.

My Fair Wages for that work I will openly take. My Reputation in my Calling I will honourably guard; but I will in no way go about to compass or wrest judgement or gratification from any one with whom I may deal. And further, I will early and warily strive my uttermost against professional jealousy and the belittling of my working- colleagues in any field of their labour.

For my assured failures and derelictions I ask pardon beforehand of my betters and my equals in my Calling here assembled, praying that in the hour of my temptations, weakness and weariness, the memory of this my Obligation and of the company before whom it was entered into, may return to me to aid, comfort and restrain.

Upon Honour and Cold Iron, God helping me, these things I purpose to abide.**

I love Kipling's way with words, the air of gravity he imparts to simple things. I was really caught by the two phrases he uses, "Honour and Cold Iron", and "dealings with my own Soul before my Maker" when I first glanced through the obligation. I know it has been read by many others before (a lot of engineers in Canada for example) but I was thrilled to have 'discovered' it quite the way I did.

* Thanks to my friends Gayle and Peter for helping out with this post!
** The ritual itself is copyrighted, but I am not sure about the Obligation and hence I have reproduced it in full above. In case I am infringing some copyright, I will be glad to remove the post and just link to the site where I found it.


Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Kipling and Winston Churchill, two cussed reactionary curmudgeonly Englishmen who revered the roll of English. Love their use of the language.

And if the Bulldog didn't deserve the Litt Nobel for the History, he should have got it for his wartime speeches anyway.


April 01, 2005 11:55 PM  
Blogger Jabberwock said...

"The air of gravity he imparts to simple things"
Well put. A good example is of course his widely over-quoted (and perhaps over-praised) poem 'If', which brings such gravitas to age-old aphorisms.

April 05, 2005 7:23 AM  
Blogger Urmea said...

Thank you both for commenting! Kipling is a bit of a favorite of mine (yes I picked up the bad habit of dropping those 'u's), especially Kim inspite of all the racism that people see in it. Well I see the racism once it is pointed out but I still can't help enjoying the book.

April 05, 2005 8:11 PM  
Blogger Quit Smoking said...

I am looking for ideas to start my own blog about ebooks and you have give me a few ideas. Thank you. Good blog. I will check it each week.

October 04, 2005 12:47 AM  
Blogger CricketB said...

I am a ringed engineer, as were my father and grandfather, and love the obligation. You should look up the poem The Sons of Martha, which, while part of the private ceremony, is also in collections of his work (and, of course, online). Also, the poem Cold Iron. The guy absolutely gets the concept.

November 14, 2007 2:33 PM  

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