"The Janeites"

Notes on the text




[October 9th 2003]




[Page 147, lines 1-4] Jane lies at Winchester… England’s Jane! This epigraph becomes the last verse of the poem “Jane’s Marriage” in the verse collections. Jane Austen (1775-1817) died in Winchester and her tomb is in the Cathedral there. Milsom Street is in Bath, where she lived from 1801-6. The hero of Northanger Abbey has lodgings in Milsom Street, and the hero and heroine of Persuasion have a significant encounter there.

[Page 147, lines 6-7] has already been described in “In the Interests of the Brethren” (q.v.).

[Page 147, line 13] ’20 In Story-Teller, this is “’19”. Brother Burges, P.M. P.M. is a Freemason who has passed the Chair, i.e. a Past Master of a Lodge, following his description in the earlier story. A Master is usually elected for one year only.

[Page 147, line 18] Columns, Jewels, Working outfit Columns refer to the wooden columns of office, often supporting representations of the terrestrial and celestial globes, which stand on the pedestals of the Senior and Junior Wardens in a Freemasons’ Lodge. In a Lodge Jewels refer to six items. The three movable jewels are the Square (representing morality), the Level (equality) and the Plumb Rule (uprightness) worn respectively by the Master, Senior and Junior Wardens on their collars; they are styled movable because they transfer to the respective holder of that office at the Installation Meeting. The Secretary’s Jewel, referred to elsewhere in the story, is two pens in saltire. The three immovable jewels are the Tracing Board and the Rough and Perfect Ashlars; they are considered immovable because they lie immovable and open in Lodge as representations for the Freemason’s progress in moral and intellectual knowledge. The Working outfit is the Freemason’s Apron, an emblematic representation of the aprons worn by operative masons in the Middle Ages.

[Page 148, line 1] glossy as the aisle of Greenwich Chapel This refers to the Chapel of what was the Royal Hospital at Greenwish for disabled seamen. Conceived by William and Mary in 1694, the hospital was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, who was a Freemason belonging to Lodge of Antiquity No. 2; but the chapel, completed in 1752, was greatly altered after a disastrous fire in 1779. The Royal Hospital later became the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

[Page 148, line 2] chapiters Chapiter is a Biblical term, also referred to as capitals (2 Chron. 3, 15), present in the Masonic ritual, referring to the chapters on the two pillars at the entrance to King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. Each pillar was cast in molten brass and formed hollow to serve as repository for the archives of Masonry. Each had two chapters, five cubits in height, an ancient measurement derived from the length of the forearm (five cubits is approximately 90-100 inches or 2.3-2.8 metres).

[Page 148, lines 4-5] Emblems of Mortality human bones (for their significance in Freemasonry, see note on “In the Interests of the Brethren,” p. 74, lines 1-2).

[Page 148, line 22] Ebury Street in Pimlico, London SW1, parallel with Buckingham Palace Road. It runs from near the Royal Mews behind Buckingham Palace almost to the Royal Hospital, Chelsea – so “at the back” of Ebury Street is quite a wide area. Garrison Artillery The Royal Regiment of Artillery was divided into mounted and dismounted branches from 1899 to 1924. The dismounted branch was called the Royal Garrison Artillery and worked all the heavy guns in the war.

[Page 148, line 26] Lazarus The account of the raising of Lazarus from the dead by Jesus will be found in St John’s Gospel, ch. 11. It is a tradition that Lazarus was a very much changed man afterwards. Humberstall has been as one risen from the dead.

[Page 148, line 28] dark “reddish” in Story-Teller.

[Page 148, line 31] acacia-wood The acacia tree is the source of gum-arabic, but the tree is of special importance to Freemasons as Hiram Abiff, one of the three first Grand Masters and the architect of King Solomon’s Temple) was buried under an uprooted acacia tree, which was hurriedly replanted on the spot after his murder.

[Page 149, lines 2-3] Mark ’14 Royal Garrison Artillery The first pattern of any army weapon is called Mark I, the next Mark II, and so on. Here Kipling, semi-humorously, applies the term to men, and uses the year in which the war began to pin down the type. In peace time the Garrison Artillery was mainly engaged in manning coastal defences in which the commonest gun fired a hundred pound shell, man-handled, with which a rate of fire six rounds a minute was expected. Hence the powerful shoulders, ribs and loins.

[Page 149, line 13] toff a swell, i.e. one of the “well-to-do”, “a nob”, even “a gent”. All these words were applied to the class of men who did comparatively little or no work prior to the First World War (1914-1918), by those who did not belong to them.

[Page 149, line 14] bosko-absoluto (bosky-absolute). A neat composite word. “Bosky” is a dialect word of 1730 meaning “tipsy” and “absolute” is a natural superlative. Hence very drunk indeed.

[Page 149, line 20] Board i.e., the doctors had certified that he was not fit enough to be sent back to the front.

[Page 149, line 22] Eatables The British soldier’s pronunciation of the place name Etaples in France.

[Page 149, line 26] Gothas twin-engined German bi-plane bombers designed in 1916 by Karl Rosner of the Gothaer Waggonfabrik, powered by two Mercedes 260 hp engines, with a service ceiling of 18,000 feet and a maximum speed of 80 mph, carrying a 300 kg bomb-load and armed with three machine guns. They were used as the first strategic fixed wing air force to attack England and London in particular. Victoria is the railway terminus in London from which boat trains left for France. Soldiers would depart from there for the western front, making it a likely target.

[Page 149, line 32] Lar Pug Noy Lapugnoy, about seven miles from La Bassee, which lies between Arras and Lille in northern France.

[Page 150, line 23] wop dialect (Scots) for wallop – a heavy noisy blow.

[Page 150, line 32] Skoda The British bought four howitzers from the Skoda Works in Austria (now in the Czech Republic) in 1900, but they were obsolete by 1914 and were never used in France. The Skoda Works now produces the Skoda car.

Number Three The crew of a gun were given numbers and to each number the drill book assigned certain duties.

[Page 152, lines 13-14] radishes… repeated The radish is the pungent root-salad which is one of the foods most liable to “repeat” – i.e. the taste or flavour rises from the stomach back to the gullet and is tasted again and again in some cases. This is also associated with belching. A play on words the officers seldom or never told the same story twice.

[Page 153, line 1] “Bubbly” Title of a revue at the Comedy Theatre in London. Also used as slang for champagne.

[Page 153, line 15] sandbag screens to the dug-out passage A result of the armies being tied for so long to one position was that they had time to dig the most elaborate trench systems and excavate large and deep underground rooms, called dug-outs, for protection to those who were off duty. Then there was poison gas to be guarded against. At this date it was mostly used by a bombardment of artillery shells charged with it, and it was kept out of the dug-outs by frames in the doorways carrying sand-bags which could be let down quickly on a gas alarm.

[Page 153 line 33 – Page 154 lines 1-2] lawful issue … ‘Enery James Henry James (1843-1916). Macklin is suggesting that James, who had been a much-respected friend of Kipling’s, was in a direct literary line from Jane Austen. Kipling cannot give us even the main points of Macklin’s argument since they would all be far above Humberstall’s head, and he is telling the story.

[Page 154, lines 11-12] reachin’ after some Jerry formin’-up area This refers to the harassing fire that both sides were able to keep up effectively during the night, particularly on the assembly areas of troops preparing to move to the front. “Jerry” was one of the names adopted by the rank and file for the Germans.

[page 154, line 26] Blue Degrees These are the degrees in Freemasonry below Royal Arch Masonry, so-called because the colour of the apron worn is light blue. Kipling never went beyond the Blue Degrees.

[Page 155, line 6] Bradbury The first one pound notes were called Bradburies because they bore the signature “John Bradbury, Permanent Secretary to the Treasury.”

[Page 155, line 11] Tilniz an’ trap-doors In chapter XI of Northanger Abbey the heroine meditates (among other things) on “Tilneys and trap-doors.”

[Page 155, line 22] camouflage-screens These screens were of light wire netting to which pieces of material were stuck, coloured to harmonise with the colour of the surrounding country, so as to conceal the position of guns from the eyes and cameras of the enemy’s airmen.

[Page 155, line 25] marcelling “Marcel” was a method of producing artificial waves in ladies’ hair, called after Marcel Grateau, a French hairdresser.

[Page 156, line 12] provin’ an’ tryin’ me It is usual in such special cases as this for an Officer of the Lodge to make sure the unintroduced visitor is a Freemason by putting questions to him and requesting the Masonic passwords and tokens. Humberstall knew he could not answer any questions about Jane and that is what is meant by the phrase “I’m a dead bird”.

[Page 156, line 17] Charges The “Antient Charges” are the exhortations to a Freemason governing his religious, civic and moral duties as well as his behaviour in Lodge. They are fully styled as “The Charges of a Free-Mason extracted from the Antient Records of Lodges Beyond the Sea, and of those in England, Scotland and Ireland.” A summary of these is read to the Master on his installation, when his affirmation of them is required, and charges are also delivered to a Freemason on his initiation (1st Degree), passing (2nd Degree) and raising (3rd Degree).

[Page 156, line 18] Dobbin A common name for a heavy cart-horse. As a nickname for a man it implies plodding stupidity.

[Page 156, line 22] six weeks The average life of any gun-crew as a unit in France at that time (1917-8) was probably less than six weeks.

[Page 157, lines 16-7] commination-service Compares Macklin’s diatribe to the form of service “A Commination, or denouncing God’s anger and judgements against sinners”, in The Book of Common Prayer … according to the use of the Church of England, Oxford University Press, 1911.

[Page 157, lines 27-8] dope an’ dolly-shop An opium den and a brothel.

[Page 157, line 29] Southwark Bridge Bridge across the Thames from the City of London on the left bank to Southwark on the south side. There were considerable areas of slums in Southwark, which had long had a reputation for low life.

[Page 158, line 1] Fulham Road this road links Fulham, Chelsea and Kensington (SW1, SW10 and SW7 districts of London).

[Page 158] parastitic Forder Messrs Forders were well known makers of hansom-cabs and their firm’s name was used for the cabbies being later transferred to the early taxi-drivers. ORG also offers an alternative explanation “The first design of the Ford car reached this side of the Atlantic during the war. It was very different in appearance from all other cars; was generally called ‘Tin Lizzie’ and was the subject of innumerable jokes. To insinuate that a respectable taxi-driver was driving a Ford would therefore be a humorous insult.” They add that the first explanation is more likely, “for the same word is used in "On Greenhow Hill" in Life’s Handicap , written in 1890 or earlier, long before there were any Ford or any other motor cars.” Parastitic (parasitic) implies either that Anthony himself was a parasite, or that his cab was full of fleas (“crawlin’”).

[Page 158, line 6] blue-bellied Bolshies the London police, in dark blue uniforms. “Bolshie” (short for Bolshevik, one of the majority faction of Russian communists) implies that the policeman, like Anthony’s passenger, saw taxis as serving the idle rich.

[Page 158, line 10] Armistice The Armistice, ending World War I, was set for 11 a.m. on 11th November, 1918.

[Page 158, line 15] Hendon or Cricklewood Hendon, then in Middlesex, could have been described as an outer suburb of London. Cricklewood, an inner suburb, was on the way there.

[Page 158, line 16] Zionism movement started in 1896. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 had undertaken to allow the Jews to return to Palestine.

[Page 158, line 18] St Albans In Hertfordshire, about 25 miles north-north-west of London.

[Page 158, lines 22-3] done time on Jordan with camels Camel transport was extensively used in the Palestine campaign of 1916-8.

[Page 159, line 1] some Abbey Northanger Abbey, an early novel not published until after Jane Austen’s death.

[Page 159, line 8] people you run across every day An echo of Macaulay’s judgement “a multitude of characters, all, in a certain sense, commonplace, all such as we meet every day.” [Quoted, Mary Lascelles, Jane Austen and her Art (Oxford University Press, (1939; reprinted 1983), p. 11.]

[Page 159, line 9] Reverend Collins Character in Pride and Prejudice. He is described as “a mixture of pride and obsequiousness, self-importance and humility.” In appearance he is “a tall, heavy-looking young man … grave and stately, and his manners very formal.” His speech is longwinded and pompous. He is a rector, not merely a curate. This could be an error by Humberstall, who might not understand the difference.

[Page 159, line 15] Lady Catherine … De Bugg Lady Catherine de Bourgh is another character in Pride and Prejudice “a tall, large woman with strongly marked features.” The unsophisticated Humberstall is clearly unfamiliar with Norman surnames and gives the name phonetically.

[Page 159, line 20] Miss Bates A spinster in Emma “ a great talker upon little matters.”

[Page 159, line 27] Major-General Father of the hero in Northanger Abbey; irascible and obsessed with finding well-connected marriages for his children.

[Page 160, line 15] Laura Laura Place in Bath, mentioned in both Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

[Page 160, line 25] pukka From the Hindi pakka, meaning cooked, ripe, mature, thorough and substantial. First used in English in the sense of “solid” or “genuine” in the 1770s.

[Page 160, lines 26-9] Miss What’s her Name … Captain T’other Bloke At the end of Persuasion, the heroine Anne Elliot resumes her engagement to Captain Wentworth, broken off eight years before by the “persuasion” of her worldly friends and relatives. Either Humberstall, Macklin or Kipling seems to have slipped up here. They are walking up Union Street, then turn into “a comparatively quiet and retired gravel-walk”. Laura Place is on the other side of the river.

[Page 161, line 2] deliver the Charges (See also note to page 156, line 17). The Worshipful Master causing the “Antient Charges” to be read in Lodge or addressing his exhortations to an initiate in Freemasonry.

[Page 161, line 23] obese The B.S.M. meant to say “obscene”.

[Page 161, line 27] obturator This is an asbestos pad placed on the face of the breechblocks of the larger guns. It expands under the pressure of the explosives when the gun is fired and so prevents the gases from escaping backwards, but, being worn out, the one on Humberstall’s gun failed to do this. This is a small technicality that few but gunners know, yet Kipling gets hold of it.

[Page 161, lines 30-31] Common Room term for a Fellows’ room at Oxford University. This would seem to imply that Macklin, like MacIntosh Jellaluddin in “To be Filed for Reference” in Plain Tales from the Hills, is an Oxford man who has come down in the world.

[Page 162, line 12] Mark Five Nine-point-two A howitzer of 9.2 inches calibre.

[Page 162, lines 27-] bringing forth abundant fruit See Matt., 13, 26 (the parable of the sower).

[Page 165, line 8] fox-coloured eyebrows See note on page 148, line 28. Kipling seems to have forgotten the alteration to Anthony’s colouring.

[Page 165, line 19] Group This is a mistake. We are dealing with a battery commanded by a Major. “Group” was the name given to an organisation of several heavy batteries commanded by a lieutenant-colonel.

[Page 165, lines 30-3] Almost …. Safety Humberstall means he could almost see well enough in the panel to shave himself, though not with an “army” razor – an old-fashioned cut-throat blade.

[Page 166, line 17] our old loco’ Many of the super-heavy guns were mounted on railway mountings and moved by locomotives.

[Page 167, line 26] pip-emma The army signaller’s way of saying “p.m.” at that time, used in this phonetic manner to prevent the risk of mishearing over inadequate telephone lines.

[Page 167, line 30] Brass ‘At Brass Hat, slang name for a staff officer.

[Page 168, lines 9-10] Amiens … Seaford Perhaps somewhat heavy-handed humour but these lines do indicate the awful tension during those terrific days in the spring of 1918 in France, when the German Armies made their last great mass attacks.

[Page 170, line 21] British warm A heavy woollen overcoat worn by Army officers.

[Page 171, lines 14-5] “They all take a taxi when it’s raining” From a song in the musical comedy The girl in the taxi.

[Page 173, lines 1-2] “the Roman Eagles or the Star an’ Garter” A direct, if slightly corrupted, Masonic allusion to the First Degree ceremony, when the Entered Apprentice is invested with the Masonic Apron, the distinguishing badge of a Mason, and is told: “It is more ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle, more honourable than the Garter or any other Order in existence, being the badge of innocence and the bond of friendship.”

[Page 173, lines 16-17] called us all from Labour to Refreshment When a Lodge is working the Masonic ritual, it is said to be “at labour” and during long ceremonies it is sometimes desirable to “call off the Lodge”, to cease labour and go to refreshment. Typically in Kipling’s time the Brethren would have adjourned for a drink, a smoke and a chat, although in this particular instance, it seems to mark the end of the work of the Lodge of Instruction and the Brethren adjourn for food.


[L. L./G.K.]