"The Eye of Allah"

Notes on the text




[September 29 2004]

[Page 365, line 2] Cantor of St Illod’s According to Gasquet (see headnote], the Cantor was “singer, librarian and archivist,” “naturally the instructor of music,” and “had charge of all the books” [pp. 61-2]. The Sub-Cantor “was the Cantor’s assistant in everything” [p. 65]. St Illod’s appears to be an invented name.

[Page 365, line 6] Scriptorium A room set aside for writing – also copying of the Scriptures and other papers and documents, and the illumination of such writings.

[Page 365, line 12] Annunciation The archangel’s message to the Virgin Mary that she will bear a divine child (Luke 1).

[Page 365, line 13] Cardinal Falcodi The Frenchman Guy de Foulkes (see headnote].

[Page 365, line 23] Fitz Othos “Fitz” implies an illegitimate son of a royal prince. ORG suggests that John may have been descended from Bishop Odo, half-brother of William the Conqueror, but there were many royals and important nobles called Odo, Otto or Otho.

[Page 366, line 5] Magnificat
The Virgin’s hymn of praise, so-called from its opening phrase “My soul doth magnify the Lord” (Luke 1, 46-55). Coates (see headnote] saw the next seven lines as:

crucially important in establishing the story’s cultural concerns” [p. 102], since “they represent an extraordinary fusion of sacred and secular, erotic and religious [p. 104].
[Page 366, line 9] arabesque a scrolling or interlacing plant form, the most typical motif of Islamic ornament.

[Page 366, line 22] new Cathedral Construction of the cathedral at Burgos, then capital of Old Castile, was begun in 1221 and took over 300 years to complete.

[Page 366, line 28] Granada Most of Spain had been conquered by the Moors in the 8th century. By the time of the story, all but the southern kingdom of Granada had been recaptured and its ruler was a vassal of Castile. Meanwhile, the interplay between Moslem, Christian and Jewish populations had led to a culture rich in art and science. According to Charles Singer (see headnote), From Magic to Science (New York, Dover Publications Inc., 1958 (first published 1928)), p. 67:
“Between the beginning of the tenth and the end of the twelfth centuries there was a remarkable outburst of intellectual activity in Western Islam. This movement reacted with great effect on Latin Europe, and especially on its views of nature, by means of works which gradually reached Christendom in translations from the Arabic.”
[Page 366, lines 28-9] diaper-work an ornamental network design, used in the backgrounds of manuscript illuminations.

[Page 367, line 3] tonsure Haircut identifying a monk, with a shaved crown.

[Page 367, line 5] privilege of clergy Monks accused of a crime could only be tried in the ecclesiastical courts.

[Page 367, line 22] Infirmarian In charge of the hospital. Gasquet says the holder of the office should be “gentle … and good-tempered, kind, compassionate to the sick” [p. 85]. The importance of caring for sick persons was stressed in the Rule of St Benedict (see note on page 380, line 6 below).

[Page 367, line 26] night-boots Gasquet describes these as “probably fur-lined, cloth protectors for the foot”, to be worn by monks both for warmth and to muffle footsteps during the Great Silence between the last service of one day and the first service of the next [p. 112].

[Page 368, line 1] Ranulphus Ranulph le Breton, canon of St Paul’s.

[Page 368, lines 13-4] Abana and Pharpar See Kings, 5, 12. The Syrian general Naaman, advised to wash in the river Jordan in order to cure his leprosy, asks: “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?”

[Page 368, line 17] de Sanford According to Matthew Paris (see headnote], the de San(d)fords included a bishop; a preceptor of the Templars; Nicholas, “second to no knight in England for bravery”; and his sister, governess to a royal princess.

[Page 369, line 2] Magdalene Luke 8, 2: “Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils.”

[Page 369, 10] Gadarene swine Luke 8, 26-33. Jesus casts many devils out of a man; they beg him to let them enter a nearby herd of swine:
“Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and they ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked.” [See also p. 373.]
[Page 370, line 20] reason to recall Coates, and the present writer, take this as implying that Stephen had had an “infidel” mistress in Cairo. This reading has not been universally accepted. For an inter-racial relationship that “led to sorrow,” see “Beyond the Pale” (Plain Tales from the Hills).

[Page 371, line 4] cornelian Kipling had a copy of George Frederick Kunz, The Curious Lore of Precious Stones (Philadelphia, Lippincott 1913). According to this [pp. 27-8], red stones were said to be “endowed with the power of checking the flow of blood.” The cornelian [pp. 62-4] brought “good luck,” “comfort in her pains" [of childbirth], would “deliver the wearer from all tricks of the devil and from the envious” and “banish all dark forebodings.”
ORG says the necklace had belonged to John’s dead mistress. This is not stated in the published text, but a sentence in the manuscript would tend to support it.

[Page 371, line 5] Abbot’s Lady Tompkinscommented that “however lax Rome was in the thirteenth century [about “clerical connections”] Anne of Norton could not have lived in the monastery, honorably referred to as ‘the Abbot’s Lady’ ” [Kipling Journal 223, Sept. 1982, p. 32]. But she pointed out that Anne’s situation “puts into sharp focus” the Abbot’s dilemma.

[Page 371, lines 25-6] no jealousy in the grave Coates [p. 109] remarked that “there is no hint anywhere in the text of a contemporary English rival for the abbot’s love.” He argued that Anne is jealous of “an unlaid ghost from the past,” the girl in Cairo. This is supported by a phrase in the manuscript.

[Page 373, lines 27-8] De Virtutibus Herbarum a herbal by St Albertus Magnus.

[Page 374, lines 28-9] Cantor pulled his hair According to Gasquet [p. 61], in some monasteries the Cantor was “on no account to slap [the boys’] heads or pull their hair.” Evidently this did not apply at St Illod’s.

[Page 375, line 19] Salerno – one Roger Rogerius Salernitanus, author of Chirurgia. The school of Salerno, which had existed since the ninth century, had been pioneering the study of anatomy and surgery.

[Page 375, line 26] physicus before sacerdos More doctor than Churchman.

[Page 376, line 6] Oxford friar Roger Bacon (ca. 1214-92), philosopher and scientist, studied and taught at both Paris and Oxford. In about 1254 he joined the Franciscan friars. Discontented with the poor translations then available of the Bible and of ancient writers such as Aristotle, he studied Hebrew, Greek, and possibly also Arabic. He is remembered for having conducted his own experiments rather than accepting what he read. He wrote on mathematics, astronomy, natural history, alchemy and optics.

Some of his teaching was seen as heretical and in 1278 he was imprisoned for “suspected novelties”. His reputation never recovered. Kipling’s friend Osler (see headnote] was concerned to rehabilitate Roger in the light of modern knowledge.

[Page 376, lines 9-10] three doctors … two atheists “Ubi tres medici, duo athei.” This is quoted by a character in the novel Elsie Venner by Oliver Wendell Holmes, who attributes it to “the old ecclesiastics” [pp. 315, 319.] [See notes on “The Propagation of Knowledge".]

[Page 376, line 21] Viaticum The Eucharist of bread and wine given to the dying.

[Page 376, line 26] Didymus St Thomas the Apostle was “called Didymus”, also 'Doubting Thomas' (see John 21, 24-8).

[Page 377, line 11] Triforium A gallery above the nave.

[Page 377, line 20] Bernard Bernard of Morlaix, or of Cluny (1122-55), French poet.

[Page 377, line 26 and footnote] De Contemptu Mundi “On Scorn of the World” (tr. H. Preble, Chicago University Press, 1910). The poem was known in English as “The Rhythm of Bernard of Morlaix.” J.M. Neale translated the part Kipling quotes as:

The world is very evil,
The times are waxing late;
Be sober and keep vigil,
The Judge is at the gate;
The Judge who comes in mercy,
The Judge who comes with might,
Who comes to end the evil,
Who comes to crown the right.
(Hymns Ancient and Modern, 276.)
Elsewhere in the poem, Bernard denounces wealthy bishops and abbots who lead luxurious lives and entertain lavishly [p. 161]. He also disapproves of “woman” (including, presumably, one in the position of Anne of Norton) as “a guilty thing … an enemy to them that love her and a friend to the enemy” [pp. 139-40].

[Page 378, lines 27-8] Utque malum … immedicabile cancer Ovid, Metamorphosis, ii, 825: “the disease of an incurable cancer is wont to spread in all directions.”

[Page 378, line 32] Hocus-pocus Mumbo-jumbo, nonsense meant to deceive. Once supposed to be a corruption of the words “Hoc est corpus” (this is [my] body), used at the elevation of the consecrated bread in the Communion service.

[Page 379, line 6] drew off his ring Several critics have pointed out that this is a sign that he will now speak unofficially. On page 391 (line 27) he will resume it.

[Page 379, line 16] spotted fever Cerebrospinal fever, caused by a meningococcus [see NRG general articles, “Kipling and Medicine” by Gillian Sheehan].

[Page 379, line 29] De Re Rustica A treatise on agriculture by Marcus Terentius Varro (116-27 B.C.E.). In the second book, twelfth chapter, he recommended that a farmhouse should not be built near swampy ground because “certain minute animals, invisible to the eye, breed there and, borne by the air, reach the inside of the body by way of the mouth and nose, and cause diseases which are difficult to get rid of.”

[Page 380, line 6] St Benedict
(Ca. 480-543), founder of the Benedictine order. He laid down a rule for religious life, dividing the day into periods totalling four hours in communal prayer, four hours reading or praying, and six hours manual work or practising a craft.

[Page 380, line 12] Demon of Socrates Usually “daemon” or “daimon,” a spirit halfway between gods and men; said to inspire creativity. See also Something of Myself, p. 208.

[Page 381, line 10] Peter Peregrinus The French scientist Pierre de Maricourt (known as Peregrinus) was praised in Bacon’s Opus Tertius as a practical scholar and experimenter who despised worldly awards and academic disputes, but who considered no knowledge or skill beneath him.

[Page 381, line 12] Paul of Aegina (625-90). Greek surgeon of Alexandria, author of Epitomae Medicae.

[Page 381, line 14] Apuleius Refers to the Herbarium of Apuleius Platonicus, as re-written for Christian readers, with additions from other sources. Its text was much corrupted. Also known as 'Pseudo-Apuleius'.

[Page 383, line 8] grisaille Painted in shades of grey. This, like the elaborately flowered borders of John’s paintings, is a technique that belongs to the fifteenth century.

[Page 383, line 15] Non nobis “Not unto us [the glory]”: Psalm 115, 1.

[Page 383, line 32] snakes of Aesculapius The traditional badge of a doctor is the caduceus, a wand with two snakes entwined around it. Aesculapius (Asklepios) was the Greek god of healing.

[Page 386, line 1] “Count everything unknown for horrible” Possibly adapted from Tacitus, Agricola, 30: “omne ignotum pro magnifico est,” everything unknown is accounted glorious.

[Page 386, line 26] a little crystal Magnifying glasses did exist in the thirteenth century. It is plausible that John might have brought one back from a previous trip to Granada or Seville.

[Page 387, line 21] supernaculum drop small enough to stand on the thumbnail.

[Page 389, line 26] Benedicite omnia opera “Oh all ye works of the Lord, bless him and magnify him for ever.” See Morning Prayer in the Church of England prayer book.

[Page 390, line 3] shoals of sunset Tompkins [1982, p.30], citing this passage, remarked:

Kipling shows us in one uncommented sentence, the principle of order in their harassed and bloodstained world ... The one word 'moored' carries the menace of the lovely scene. We see the cathedral as a ship of war.
To Coates, this (like the painting of the Annunciation – see note on p. 366, line 5 above) is an image:

“crucially important in establishing the story’s cultural concerns,” since “a culture and a political order are embodied in buildings that suggest in concrete form their already existing man-made achievements … the definite outline of a group of buildings has as its background the undefined, the inchoate” [p. 103].
[Page 392, line 7] green-sick virgins Green-sickness or chlorosis is a form of anaemia attacking under-nourished girls between 15 and 25 years of age; it was known to the ancients as “the disease of virgins.”

[Page 394, line 2] what doctrine they drew from it Coates [p. 111] interpreted this as the“double truth” of Averroes:

Under this guise, one might assert a scientific or philosophical truth and simultaneously affirm one’s belief in a theological proposition that appeared to contradict it.



[L.L.]