Judson and the Empire

This was the first of Kipling's naval stories,
first published in book form in 'Many Inventions', in 1893.
I suppose that I ought really to have finished off the other stories in Traffics and Discoveries (Steam Tactics and Mrs. Bathurst), but although Petty Officer Pyecroft appears in both, they are not really naval stories, so I will put them 'on the back burner' for a while, and indulge myself by tackling Judson and the Empire: not least because our On Line Editor, John Radcliffe, has expressed an interest.
In Something of Myself, RK says "The Navy Club there" (Simon's Town, or Simonstown, the naval base just south and a bit east of Capetown) "and the tales of the junior officers delighted me beyond words".
"There I witnessed one of the most comprehensive `rags` I have ever seen. It arose out of a polite suggestion to a newly-appointed Lieutenant Commander that the fore-topmast of his tiny gunboat `wanted staying forward`."

I feel sure (Naval officers' conversation today may differ in technical detail, but I doubt if its nature does) that the rag in Simons Town included derogatory comments about the general appearance of the "tiny gunboat" and all aspects of her rig; also that Kipling would have extracted every ounce of information he could.
This information he put to good use in his first naval story, Judson and the Empire, and in it, the conversation in the Naval Club is very similar in tone to what the real `rag` must have been. Carrington identifies the original of Judson as Lieutenant De Horsey of HMS Gryper. So I looked up De Horsey in the 1891 Navy Lists, and there he is in the September 1891 list, one of HMS Raleigh's lieutenants, having been out on the station since March 1888 (Raleigh was the flagship on the station). The Griper (not Gryper) was indeed a `flat-iron` gunboat, stationed at the Cape, but at the time was not, apparently, commissioned. At all events, she has no officers appointed in the Navy List. I would like to know how Carrington identified De Horsey as Judson, because the events which form the basis of RK's story did indeed occur in 1890: in Volume 7 of Clowes' "The Royal Navy", there is an account, published in The Times for 17 December 1890 (datelined October 1890) which we quote extensively , just to show how RK took a true report and worked his magic.

It will also be seen that the chief protagonist for the Royal Navy was not De Horsey.
I have a sneaking sympathy for the Portuguese. After all, they had some right to consider that “the Zambesi was a private Portuguese waterway”: they’d been there for the best part of three hundred and fifty years before the British took a serious interest in that area: and even if the province was as Kipling describes it in Judson, it may be noted (and this is a very subjective judgement) that today Mozambique seems to be a bit more stable than many other African states. And the Times report makes the whole affair sound like imperialism at its most imperial: indeed, 80 years later, the reporter might have been writing “Up yours, Galtieri”, for the Sun. And, far from ‘the flat-iron’ being inferior to the prettily-built, white-painted Guadala, in reality, the boot was on the other foot. Some naval notes about the above report, before turning to Judson itself. Redbreast and Pigeon do not exactly sound like the wooden walls of old England – all classical or imposing names: Majestic, Powerful, Devastation, Achilles, Minotaur, etc.. But nearly all the Gunboats, and slightly smaller Gunvessels had bird names: there were the Doterel class, the Linnet class, etc.

And the expedition did well for Lieutenants Kearey and Brown. Both were promoted to Commander: then as now, the most important step in a naval officer’s career. All in all, I would have thought that Lieutenant Kearey was the model for RK’s Judson. There is no mention of De Horsey in the Times piece.
So, there we are: there was a good story there, and RK read the Times and/or was told the story in the Naval Club in Simon’s Town, and decided to turn it into fiction.

To “protect his sources”, rather than use one of the actual ships of the squadron, he probably looked out of the window and saw the Griper lying in the dockyard, and used her: he probably asked his naval acquaintances how Griper had got out to the Cape, and was told, much as Judson describes it to the Admiral. Griper was exactly as Kipling described her (there is an illustration of her in the very first (1898) edition of Jane’s Fighting Ships), except that, according to another source, her gun was a ten-inch muzzle-loading rifle, not a four-inch.
According to the tale, it was her fore-topmast which needed “staying forward” (Kipling thus implies more than one mast – if you have a foremast, you have a mainmast as well), whereas the picture shows Griper with one mast only, so obviously, and has been remarked many Times, Kipling’s memory was playing slight tricks when he came to write Something of Myself. The gun is another case in point – the Griper’s gun, as I say, was a ten-inch muzzle-loading rifle, of a very antiquated pattern, and the method of traversing it, by pointing the whole ship, was, indeed, very much as RK describes. But the four-inch (which happened to be the weapon carried by Redbreast) was far more modern - so RK seems to have mixed reality with fiction in this small matter.
Judson comes to a close with a visit by “the Martin Frobisher, the flagship, a great war-boat when she was new, in the days when men built for sail as well as steam.” This is a thinly disguised Raleigh, which had been built in 1873, specifically for the job of being a flagship on the distant stations where coal supplies were few and far between. The concluding paragraph says “And if there be no truth .... in my tale, ........, you will not find in harbour at Simon’s Town today a flat-bottomed gunboat ...... wearing in open defiance of the rules of the Service a gold line on her grey paint.” Certainly Griper was there when Many Inventions was published, though one cannot be sure at this distance of time of the gold line!
There are one or two other points of interest in the telling of Judson and in the memories in Something of Myself.
In the latter, Kipling talks of “a Navy Captain going to a new Command at Simons Town”. He too is identified by Carrington, as Captain Bayly. In fact, he was Commander E.H. Bayly, and he took command of HMS Mohawk on 4 August, 1891. The use of the title Captain as a form of address for an officer of inferior rank (i.e., Commander or Lieutenant), but in command of a ship, was still usual then. Mohawk appears in Judson as Mongoose, “ a real white painted ram-bow gunboat with quick-firing guns” (there is a picture of Mohawk in Jane’s for 1904, looking for all the world like an Edwardian steam yacht, with guns). Mohawk’s station was “Cape of Good Hope and West Africa”, so perhaps Kipling was lucky that he was unable to accept Captain Bayly’s invitation of a cruise - West Africa was still `the White Man’s grave`.
And in Something of Myself, Kipling speaks of a “newly appointed Lieutenant Commander”. At that time, there was no such rank as Lieutenant Commander, which was only introduced in 1914, although Lieutenants in command were someTimes known as Lieutenant and Commander, and signed themselves as Lieutenant-in-Command. Lieutenant De Horsey was a Lieutenant of five years’ seniority (the Lieutenant Commander, when he appeared 23 years later was a Lieutenant with more than eight years’ seniority), while Judson was a Navigating Lieutenant of five years’ seniority. This was clearly another bit of thin camouflage - at that date, Navigating officers, the successors to the old Masters, were not military officers, and Kipling’s readers in the Navy would have understood the point. Judson/De Horsey eventually became a Rear Admiral, with a `Pension for Wounds`, according to the Navy List. However, as I suggested above, I am certain that the real Judson was Lieutenant Kearey. I believe that Carrington must have been misinformed, or must have misinterpreted some piece of information. A probable reason for his doing so is that the ships which took part in the actual events were ships from the East Indies Station, whose base was in Ceylon (it was a very large station), and which didn’t come to the Cape.

Maybe it was De Horsey (who, as I have shown, was at the Cape at the time of RK’s visit) who told RK of the fun and games up the coast (a thousand miles or so away), and acted as his naval adviser in putting the tale together.
As for Kearey, he was at the time of the events, a Lieutenant with 12 years seniority, aged about 34. Before being given command of the Redbreast, he had been surveying in HMS Myrmidon as indicated in the Times report.

He had been mentioned in dispatches shortly before the events in the Zambesi (for intelligence work up in the area of Zanzibar), and was promoted to Commander for the Zambesi affair. As a Commander, he went to be the second-in-command of the much bigger cruiser Edgar, and then was given another pretty independent command, of the sloop Swallow (a larger version of the Redbreast) on the South-east coast of South America. That seems to have been his last seagoing appointment, and in 1901 he was with the Coastguard (which the Navy ran in those days), and seems to have retired shortly afterwards.
Thus it is clear that the basis of the events in Judson and the Empire actually occurred, though the story got embellished a bit in the telling. And Kipling did a bit of rudimentary camouflage - the bit about Keate, “the Torpedo Lieutenant of the big Vortigern” is such. At that time there was no other `big` ship on the Cape station. The squadron consisted of Raleigh, and about ten small sloops, like the Mohawk/Mongoose, ships which, as Admiral `Jackie` Fisher said, some twelve years later, “could neither fight nor run”, though they kept the `pax Britannica` for some 30 years at the end of the last century. And there was only one qualified Torpedo officer on the whole station, who was the Torpedo officer of the Raleigh. It is perhaps of some interest that he was Lieutenant C.E. Madden, later an Admiral - even Admirals have been known to make errors when young!

On now to the glossary.