June 15, 1215)
| notes on the text
Kipling is said to have written an additional quotation in a Letter of September 3rd, 1905:The extract from the letter referred to by Kipling is taken from the Catalogue of the Works of Rudyard Kipling Exhibited at the Grolier Club from February 21 to March 30, 1929 (New York, 1930), p.183. The full letter, to the Dean of Grahamstown Cathedral, is now included in Letters, III, 182. The verse mentioned by Harbord (ORG Verse No. 879) is a four-line dedication, written for a memorial in Grahamstown, South Africa, to the memory of the men of the district who lost their lives in various African wars of the late nineteenth century. The memorial was unveiled on 9 March 1905. The verse, which is not included in the Definitive Edition, is entitled “No 5 Grahamstown Memorial to the Fallen (1880-1902). It reads:
“My Dear Dean, They come of that same stubborn stock that stood at Runnymede.”
(See the Grolier Club Catalogue, page 183, also Verse No. 879).
They came of that same stubborn stock that stoodIt should be noted that in these various quotations and allusions, the second word of the first line of this verse changes between the past and present tenses, and the spelling of Runnymede varies.
At Runnimede for Freedom without fear;
Wherefore they gave the treasure of their blood
To ’stablish Freedom here.
No doubt to many of the barons of this year, 1215, it was their own grievances of which they were thinking most – the grinding taxes, the loss of their Norman lands, their cruelly murdered kinsfolk. But in order to get these grievances redressed they were obliged to ask also for the redress of the grievances from which other classes were suffering; even ‘villeins’ are carefully protected by one of the articles of the Charter.There were to be frequent attempts to by-pass the Magna Charta – the first, almost immediately, by King John himself – but the basic principles it established of justice and freedom for all under the law were to be profoundly influential. For a very different, and far less idealistic, view of how Magna Charta came about, see Kipling’s short story “The Treasure and the Law”, Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906).
(A School History p. 75.)