"On the Gate
a tale of '16"

Notes on the text




[September 6 2004]

[Page 331, lines 3-4] If the Order … knowledge of the Order On the Smaragdine Table of Hermes Trismegisthus (see headnote), the second engraved sentence was said to be: “What is below is like that which is above, and what is above is like that which is below, to accomplish the miracles of one thing.”

[Page 331, line 17] The Gate See Matt. 16, 18-19, where Jesus says: … thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

[Page 332, lines 12-13] “the fool says in his heart, there is no God” Psalm 14, 1: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”

[Page 332, line 19] till St Luke is free This phrase not in McCall’s. See Colossians, 4, 14: “Luke, the beloved physician.”

[Page 333, lines 3-4] Quia multum amavit Luke 7, 47: “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much…” The next lines indicate that Kipling knew he was misinterpreting the text, since the implication of the context (especially Luke 7, 41-3) is that the woman is not forgiven because of her love, but that the fervour of her love is the indication that she has been forgiven.

[Page 333, line 19] “Greater love hath no man – ” John 15, 13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

[Page 334, line 12] St Ignatius Inigo de Recalde (1491-1556), born at Loyola in Spain: an aristocrat, ex-soldier, prelate and ardent Catholic. Founder of the Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits, and author of Spiritual Exercises. Usually called St Ignatius Loyola.

[Page 334, lines 12-13] St Christopher Died ca. A.D. 250. Patron Saint of travellers and bookbinders. According to legend, he used to carry travellers across rivers in Syria, as a penance. Enormously strong, yet once when carrying a child he staggered under the weight. The child was Christ, the extra weight being the sins of the world. Soon afterwards his staff blossomed with flowers as a sign of grace. Martyred by the Romans.

[Page 334, lines 28-9] seamanship in the Mediterranean For the account of St Paul’s voyage and shipwreck in the Mediterranean, see Acts 27. He described his disagreement with St Peter over Jewish dietary laws as applied to Christians in Galatians, 2,11ff. Kipling would use these episodes in his stories "The Manner of Men” and “The Church that was at Antioch” (Limits and Renewals).

[Page 335, line 2] to need forgiveness All four gospels describe the moment during Jesus’s trial when St Peter, identified by a bystander as one of the disciples, denied all knowledge of him (Matt. 26, 71-5; Mark 14, 66-72; Luke 22, 55-62; John 18, 15-27).

[Page 335, line 12] cribbage-board The card-game cribbage involves a complex method of scoring, traditionally recorded by pegs pushed into holes in a cribbage-board. This would be a similar shape to a domino but very much larger.

[Page 335, line 32] Holbein uniforms Refers to the painting “The Dance of Death” by Hans Holbein (1497-1543).

[Page 335, line 33] Sergeant Fell See Hamlet, Act V: “that fell sergeant, death.”

[Page 336, line 8] obsequities He means “obsequies.”

[Page 336, line 14] Aberdeen granite A hard, dark grey stone, widely used for memorials. Because of its granite buildings, Aberdeen, a port in eastern Scotland, is known as “the granite city.”

[Page 339, line 3] a motor-hearse funeral A full Victorian funeral would have a black hearse and several black carriages, all drawn by black horses wearing black and silvery harness and black ostrich feather plumes on their heads. Such corteges could still be seen in the 1930s.

[Page 339, lines 13-14] black-edged announcement-cards These grim-looking Victorian symbols of respectability and standing had begun to disappear before 1914, but some families kept them in the family albums. Some families also used black-edged notepaper for all letters for periods of up to a year after the death of a senior member of the family.

[Page 339, line 26] autophonic From the Greek words for “self” and “sound.” An early form of recording.

[Page 340, line 4] Somme doin’s The battle of the Somme, July-November 1916, advanced the British front a few miles at a huge cost in casualties on both sides.

[Page 340, line 28] hauled over the coals Severely admonished. Here it also alludes to the fires of Hell.

[Page 341, line 21] also believe and tremble See James, 2, 19: “the devils also believe and tremble.”

[Page 342, line 5] dove-coloured feathering As found on angels’ wings.

[Page 342, lines 29-33] ‘To Him Who … devotion!’ Lines from the poem “The Supports,” which follows the story.

[Page 343, lines 7-9] Powers … Loves Angels and virtues (see headnote).

[Page 344, line 10] a fool according to her folly See Prov. 26,4: “Answer a fool according to his folly.”

[Page 344, line 19] “if by all means” See I Cor. 9, 22: “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” See also poem “At his Execution” with “The Manner of Men” in Limits and Renewals.

[Page 345, line 27] S.O.S. In the Morse code, this was an internationally recognised distress call. It was easy both to remember and to read, as S was represented by three short sounds or signals and O by three long ones. Also rendered as “dot-dot-dot dash-dash-dash dot-dot-dot.”

[Page 346, line 29] a red-headed man Judas Iscariot was traditionally supposed to have had red hair. The only non-Galilean among the disciples, Judas betrayed Jesus to the authorities, leading to his trial and crucifixion.

[Page 347, lines 17-18] Arc J., Bradlaugh C., Bunyan J., Calvin J.

Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc) (1412-31), a young girl who, inspired by what she called “angelic voices,” took command of the French king’s army and led them to victory against the English and the Burgundians. In 1429 she was captured, and in 1431 she was burnt at the stake at Rouen. Kipling refers to this in his poem “France”: “That undying sin we shared in Rouen market-place.” She was canonised in 1919.

Charles Bradlaugh (1833-91), radical and freethinker, was elected to Parliament for Northampton but was four times forcibly ejected from the chamber, because as an atheist he wished to “affirm” his oath instead of swearing “by Almighty God.” Among the causes he campaigned for were a free press, and the publication of information about birth control. Beresford in Schooldays with Kipling wrote that Kipling used to talk about Bradlaugh in the dormitory, telling “the apocryphal story of how this humanist went into the ring with the Deity, challenged Omnipotence to down him in five minutes without the gloves, and, taking the time with his watch in his hand, emerged, apparently, an easy winner”. [p. 257].

John Bunyan (1628-88), a nonconformist who fought with the Commonwealth armies in the civil war, and was imprisoned for preaching without a licence. He is chiefly remembered for his religious novel The Pilgrim’s Progress. See also Kipling’s poem "The Holy War”, called after another of Bunyan’s works.

John Calvin (1509-64), French theologian and reformer: author of Institution de la religion chrétienne, a defence of the reformed faith which was hugely influential on protestantism. He taught that God chooses the elect before they are born, and no one can do anything for their own salvation (predestination).

[Page 348, line 3] poilus literally 'hairy ones' – French other ranks.

[Page 348, line 31] the Importunate Widow See Luke, 18, 3-5, for the parable of the judge who says: “Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”

[Page 349, line 14] cock-crowing During the Last Supper, Jesus told Peter that “this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice” (Matt. 26, 34). After Peter had denied knowing Jesus, he heard the cock crow and was overcome by guilt [see note on page 335, line 2].

[Page 350, lines 32-3] Others were not … A certain Woman
The fragment of manuscript in the British Library begins here. “A certain Woman” is Mary Magdalene, traditionally said to have been a prostitute.

[Page 351, line 10] Many mansions See John, 14, 2, where Jesus says “In my Father’s house are many mansions.”

[Page 353, line 33] The wise woman of Tekoah See II Sam., 14,14. Her words to King David, advising him to forgive his rebellious son, are quoted on p. 354.

[Page 354, line 31] Mr. Littlesoul This seems to be Kipling’s invention, in the manner of names in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress such as Mr Self-will and Mr Feeble-mind.


[L.L./E.B.]