"Captains Courageous"

Chapter V

Notes on the text

These notes are based on those written by Leonee Ormond for the OXFORD WORLD'S CLASSICS edition of Captains Courageous (1995) with the kind permission of Oxford University Press. Except where stated otherwise, the page numbers below refer to the Macmillan Uniform Edition of Captains Courageous (1899, and frequently reprinted since).




[June 25th 2003]


[Page 123, line 7] Toledo, Ohio on the western end of Lake Erie.

[Page 123, line 9] germans German cotillion or quadrille, also used to describe a party for dancing.

[Page 123, line 21] Vanderpoop a mocking reference to wealthy members of old Dutch families, e.g. Vanderbilt.

[Page 123, line 29] old green-crusted quadrant that they called the `hog yoke' an instrument used in navigation, called a `hog yoke' because it resembled the wooden yokes put over hogs in order to keep them from going through fences.

[Page 124, line 3] `The Old Farmer's Almanac' `Robert B. Thomas Almanac' in Pearson's Magazine, iii. 217. The Farmer's Almanac, as an annual publication, would contain the phases of the moon for the current year. These would indicate the tides. Kipling made the change because of a letter from:
`A man in New York' who sent a `copy of "The Old Farmer's Almanac" with a serious note to tell me that its name isn't the "Robert B. Thomas" almanack'.
(Letters, ii. 292).

[Page 124, line 7] and no engineer of thirty years' service ... all these things a passage added in the first edition. P. W. Inwood identified this as the `worst slip', mentioned by Kipling in Something of Myself (1937), p. 212, as 'underided'. Inwood calls this `A prize howler! The engineers have nothing to do with the navigation of the ship, or her position on the ocean, beyond raising and maintaining steam for required speeds, and the care of the machinery' (Kipling Journal Mar 1977, 16). For one of several contrary views see Kipling Journal June 1977, 2-3.
[I have edited this to make it clearer who said what; JR]

[Page 124, line 15] Eldridge chart, the `Farmer's Almanac ; Blunt's `Coast Pilot'. and Bowditch's `Navigator' George Eldridge's charts of the east coast of the United States were published from 1867; Captain Lawrence Furlong Blunt's The American Coastal Pilot in 1796; Nathaniel Bowditch, 1773-1838, published the New American Practical Navigator. See above for The Farmer's Almanac.

[Page 124, line 18] deep sea lead See note to Page 82 line 3.

[Page 127, line 19] gob-stick probably a disgorger for removing the hook from the fish's mouth.

[Page 128, line 22] sunscalds `possibly a patch of bubbly scum caused by a hot sun on a calm sea' (Inwood).

[Page 131, line 12] needle and palm sailmaking needles can be anything from 3 to 6 inches long. The palm acts as a heavy-duty thimble. It is a leather strap fitting round the centre of the hand with a hole for the thumb. Just below the hole is inset a round piece of steel with a honeycombed surface so that the needle's head will not slip under pressure.

[Page 131, line 26] consates conceits, pretends.

[Page 132, line 4] Farragut David Glasgow Farragut, 1801-70, United States Admiral, famous for entering Mobile Bay, an important naval victory for the North during the American Civil War.

[Page 132, line 6] moss-backs a slang term given to veteran deep-water seamen.

[Page 132, line 6] every hair a rope yarn an' blood Stockholm tar one definition of a man-of-war's man was `begotten in the galley and born under a gun. Every hair a rope yarn, every tooth a maritime spike, every finger a fish-hook, and his blood right good Stockholm tar' (quoted by Inwood).

[Page 133, line 14] Pennsylvania Dutch Many Dutch people had settled in Pennsylvania in the 1700s.

[Page 134, line 24] Josephus Josephus Flavius AD c.37-100, Jewish historian and author of The Jewish War, in part based upon his own experiences in AD 66-7.

[Page 136, line 10] Le Have, Western, Banquereau, St Pierre, Green, and Grand some of the shoals of the Grand Banks.

[Page 137, line 4] eye-bolts, leads, and rings eye-bolts are metal fittings to which blocks or other objects can be hooked or secured; sounding leads; steel rings such as could be spliced into the end of a rope for easy securing.

[Page 137, line 12] and that terrible `nip' of '71 there was a spell of severe weather in 1871 which took 19 vessels and 140 lives.

[Page 137, line 20] Monomoy Beach Monomoy Island is south of Cape Cod.

[Page 137, line 24] Kidd Captain William Kidd, c.1645-1701, English pirate for whose `treasure' many have sought.

[Page 137, line 25] Truro township a very low lying area near the northern tip of the Cape Cod peninsula.

[Page 138, line 4] Mount Desert island off the Maine coast.

[Page 138, line 7] Vantine portières `presumably a reference to a fashionable supplier of furnishings' (Inwood).

[Page 138, line 14] the great war the American Civil War.

[Page 139, line 4] ten-thousand-ton frigates with hundred-and-ninety-foot booms impossible fantasy vessels.

[Page 139, line 16] 'Orange Judd' books Orange Judd, publishers, of New York, produced books on sport, agriculture, and rural life.

[Page 140, line 4] Coudray possibly Coudres in the estuary of the St Lawrence River, but the Iles aux Coudres are only 56 miles short of Quebec City. The place could also be Codroy in south-west Newfoundland.

[Page 140, line 6] Prince Edward Island north of Nova Scotia in the Gulf of St Lawrence.

[Page 140, line 24] kenches (of well-pressed fish). Almost certainly a corruption of `kental', `kintel', themselves corruptions of `quintal', a hundredweight (see note to p. 30).

[Page 141, line 28] Provincetown a port on the Cape Cod peninsula.

[Page 141, line 28] Harwich a port on the northern shore of Nantucket Island.

[Page 142, line 22] Square-rigger a boat in which the principal sails lie square to the centre line (or perhaps the keel).

[Page 142, line 24] bark barque, a vessel square-rigged on all but the mizzen (aftermost) mast.

[Page 142, line 27] backed her topsail `when a square-rigged vessel needs to stop her way (slow down) one of her upper sails is trimmed so that, instead of being filled with wind, it lies flattened against the mast, thus acting as a brake' (Inwood).

[Page 143, line 1] Miquelon boat from St Malo Miquelon is off Newfoundland, but the boat comes from the French port of St Malo.

[Page 143, line 20] swedge to leave without some word or token of friendship.

[Page 143, line 25] footy cochins dirty pigs.

[Page 147, line 4] `Par derrière chez ma tante ... ' French song, `Auprès de ma blonde'
Behind my aunt's house
There is a lovely wood
Where the nightingale sings
Both day and night...
What will you give, my beauty,
To the one who brings it here?
I will give Quebec,
Sorel and St Denis.
This is a French Canadian version of a French marching song of the wars of the early eighteenth century. The French version has 'Je donnerai Versailles, Paris et St Denis...' (I will give Versailles, Paris and St Denis.)


[L. O.]