In the
Same Boat

Notes on the text

These notes, by John McGivering and Alastair Wilson, are partly new, and partly based on the ORG. Alastair Wilson has contributed the notes on railway matters, which are in black text. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of A Diversity of Creatures, as published and frequently reprinted between 1917 and 1950.




[May 10th 2008]


[Title] In the Same Boat a proverbial saying that Partridge (A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, by Eric Partridge) traces back to the sixteenth century, signifying 'people in similar circumstances and who suffer the same problems.'

[Page 69 line 18] a violin-string vibrating T S Eliot, in his Preface to A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (page 20) compares this image to the 'banjo-string drawn tight' for the breaking wave in “The Finest Story in the World” (Many Inventions, page 111, line 12].

[Page 70 line 9] A fox to every Spartan Sparta was the ruling city of Laconia in the Southern Peloponnese, in ancient Greece. The story is told of a Spartan boy who, in order to conceal a fox which he had stolen, hid it beneath his cloak and allowed the fox to gnaw him rather than let the theft be revealed. He died of the wounds. If he had been discovered, the disgrace would not have been in the stealing, but in allowing it to be detected. The boy's action illustrates the main purpose of the Spartan educational system, a very severe regime which gave its name to a harsh and frugal existence which produced brave and hardy soldiers. The young were purposely kept on short rations so that they learned to steal to supplement them.

[Page. 70 line 27] anæmia of the brain Black’s Medical Dictionary (6th. Edition, 1918, p. 649) writes of 'St. Vitus’s Dance' (Chorea), quick involuntary dance-like movements, which is found to occur particularly in the young when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted, and after strong emotion such as fright, overwork, insufficient diet etc. The treatment at the time does not seem to have been particularly effective – apart, perhaps, from removal of whatever caused the symptoms, and gentle exercise, which seems to have worked in this case.

[Page 71 line 20] links in this context, a golf-course – the game was first played on sand-dunes at the seaside in the 15th century; see also the 'Stalky' stories and KJ 309.

[Page 71 line 23] at the trot in this context, for people, a fast walk or what was known as a jog-trot. For horses this was the gait between a walk and a canter.

[Page 71 line 24] King’s Counsels Now in 2008 'Queen's Counsels' (QC); known as King's Counsel (KC) during the reign of a male sovereign. These are lawyers appointed by letters patent to be one of "Her [or His] Majesty's Counsel learned in the law". Members wear silk gowns of a particular design so the award of Queen's or King's Counsel is known informally as 'taking silk'. To qualify, a lawyer usually has to serve as a barrister (or, in Scotland, as an advocate) for at least ten years.

Sir John Chartres a 'nerve specialist' – or as we would call him today (in 2008), a 'psychiatrist' – who had been consulted by Miss Henschil.

[Page 71 line 26] Admiralty Court There were several such courts, but in 1887 the High Court of Admiralty was absorbed into the new Probate Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court. Admiralty jurisdiction is now exercised by the High Court of England and Wales. The Admiralty law which is applied in this court is based upon the Law of the Sea, with statutory and common law additions. .

[Page 71 line 27] Abernethy John Abernethy (1764-1831) eminent Surgeon of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. He had a very brusque manner with those who disagreed with him.

[Page 71 line 31] collision case they are on opposite sides of a suit concerning a collision at sea. Whether they are in order in discussing it out of court or chambers (in this context the offices of Counsel) is open to question.

[Page 72 line 2] Post hoc, propter hoc In full post hoc ergo propter hoc, or in short simply post hoc (Latin) 'Since that event followed this one, that event must have been caused by this one'; a familiar logical fallacy.

[Page 72 line 3] ipso facto 'by that very fact'. (Latin)

[Page 72 line 14] Najdolene a fictitious drug.

[Page 72 line 24] the Horrors probably delirium tremens as a result of alcoholism; see “The Dog Hervey” page 149 line 24 later in this volume.

[Page 72 line 32] chambers in this context a suite of rooms in a building let as a residence – now known as a flat (apartment in the United States) like Kipling’s rooms in this building in Villiers Street, London as described in Something of Myself (p. 79). These rooms also resemble Dick Heldar’s quarters in The Light that Failed. Confusingly enough 'chambers' can also refer to the private office of a Judge in a court-house.

[Page 73, line 5] goes down to the West by the 10.8 from Waterloo (Number 3 platform) on that night Waterloo (named after the battle only indirectly – it was originally called Waterloo Bridge Road when it was opened in 1848) was the London terminus of the London and South Western Railway, whose name exactly described its territory. In addition to serving the south coast from Portsmouth to Weymouth, it had a long main line down to Exeter (Kipling used it to visit his parents at Tisbury), with branches in Devon and Dorset going down to Lyme Regis, Seaton, Sidmouth, Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth. Beyond Exeter, the line swung north round the northern flank of Dartmoor, on the way throwing off branches to Barnstaple, Bideford and Ilfracombe; to Bude; and to Padstow; while the main line dropped down from Tavistock to enter Plymouth from the North.

At the time of this tale, Waterloo was undergoing a massive rebuilding, started in about 1906, but not completed until 1922. (They rebuilt the station around the trains without any interruption to the service – unlike today!) The old Waterloo, much of which still remained when this tale was written, was well described by Jerome K. Jerome in Three Men in a Boat (1889):
. We got to Waterloo at eleven, and asked where the eleven-five started from. Of course, nobody knew; nobody at Waterloo ever does know where a train is going to start from, or where a train when it does start is going to, or anything about it. The porter who took our things thought it would go from number two platform, while another porter, with whom he discussed the question, had heard a rumour that it would go from number one. The stationmaster, on the other hand, was convinced it would start from the local.

To put an end to the matter we went upstairs and asked the traffic superintendent, and he told us that he had just met a man who said he had seen it at number three platform. We went to number three platform, but the authorities there said that they rather thought that train was the Southampton express, or else the Windsor loop. But they were sure it wasn’t the Kingston train, though why they were sure it wasn’t they couldn’t say.

Then our porter said he thought it must be on the high-level platform; said he thought he knew the train. So we went to the high-level platform and saw the engine driver, and asked him if he was going to Kingston. He said he couldn’t say for certain of course, but that he rather though he was. Anyhow, if he wasn’t the 11.5 for Kingston, he said he was pretty confident he was the 9.32 for Virginia Water, or the 10 a.m. express for the Isle Of Wight, or somewhere in that direction, and we should all know when we got there. We slipped half-a-crown into his hand, and begged him to be the 11.5 for Kingston.

“Nobody will ever know on this line,” we said, "what you are, or where you are going. You know the way, you slip off quietly and go to Kingston.”
“Well, I don’t know, gents,” replied the noble fellow, “but I suppose some train’s got to go to Kingston; and I’ll do it Gimme the half-crown.”
Thus we got to Kingston by the London and South Western Railway.
Dr. Gilbert clearly wanted to make sure that his patient got to the right train at the right time. [A.W.]


[Page 73 line 7] her maid, of course, accompanies her the 'maid' turns out to be the invaluable Nurse Blaber; it was the convention of the time that a young unmarried lady would not travel alone.

[Page 74 line 9] the veil ladies often wore veils at the time – see page 76, line 3 below. They were made of a gauze-like material through which the wearer could see without her face being visible.

[Page 74 line 17] Hereford a city in the West Midlands of England, close to the border with Wales and on the River Wye; the county town of Herefordshire.

[Page 74 line 18] nux vomica The Strychnine tree (Strychnos nux-vomica), is an evergreen native to south-east Asia, of the family Loganiaceae, a major source of the highly poisonous alkaloids strychnine and brucine, derived from the seeds. A very dangerous drug used in small quantities in tonics but only under strict medical supervisuion. (Black's Medical Dictionary))

[Page 74 line 21] strait-waistcoat a device for restraining violent and dangerous patients to prevent them harming themselves or others. Usually known as a strait-jacket.

[Page 74 line 23] couple railway-carriages hold two railway carriages together, i.e. very powerful; Kipling is, of course, exaggerating.

[Page 75 line 4] patent razors probably what are now known as safety-razors and not as dangerous as the old-fashioned 'cut-throat' then in general use.

[Page 75 line 7] shillings and pence the divisions of the £ Sterling in pre-decimal times when there were two hundred and forty pence in the pound instead of only one hundred as there are today. 12 pence were one shilling, and there were twenty shillings to the £.

[Page 75 line 9] porter a uniformed man employed by the railway company to carry luggage and assist passengers generally; they disappeared in the 1950s or thereabouts.

[Page 75 line 10] the West in this context, usually taken to be the Western counties of England – Dorset, Somerset, Devonshire and Cornwall.

[Page 75, lines 9-12] The old 10.8 from Waterloo to the West was an all-night caravan that halted, in the interests of the milk traffic, at almost every station. At this time, London received nearly all its milk by train from a swathe of dairying counties in an arc from Dorset, Devon and Somerset, up to Warwickshire. Nearly all the milk arrived in churns, rather than the glass-lined tankers which were introduced in the 1920s. A full churn weighed about two hundred-weight (100 kilograms), and to move it, was tilted on to the rim of its bottom, and then twisted at the top to rotate it. To do this required considerable skill. In this instance, the 10.8 is returning the empty churns to the stations from which they had been dispatched about 24 hours earlier. [A.W.]

[Page 75 line 28] ulster a long overcoat made of frieze, a cloth made in the province of Ulster in Northen Ireland.

a silk-faced frock coat a long and very “dressy” jacket

[Page 76, line 6] the inspector came for tickets the train is just about to start, and tickets are being inspected by, presumably, a travelling ticket inspector. Waterloo was then an ‘open’ station; that is, there were no ticket barriers at the end of the platforms. For incoming trains, there was usually a ticket stop at a special platform immediately outside the main station, or alternatively, they were collected at the last station stop before the terminus. For departing trains, tickets were inspected immediately on departure: this was a relic of the earliest days of the railways, and was a hang-over from coaching days. [A.W.]

[Page 76, line 7] ‘My maid - next compartment,’ They were clearly travelling in “the one composite corridor-coach”, that it is, one which had a mixture of 1st and 3rd class compartments. (2nd class had been largely abolished in the late 1870s, although some boat trains, run in conjunction with European train services, retained 2nd class until the early 1950s.) It was usual for a lady’s maid, or a gentleman’s valet, to occupy a compartment of inferior class, adjacent to that of their master/mistress. Conroy and Miss Henschil were, of course, in a first-class compartment.

One may say that the ‘milk-train’, as the 10.8 would have been known, although it only carried empty churns, accepted passengers as an afterthought. There would have been perhaps two passenger carriages only, the ‘composite’ and a third class only; the remainder of the train being made up of ventilated vans in which the churns were carried. Such a train was the early 20th century equivalent of the late 20th century ‘red-eye’ flight, the overnight economy-class only flight arriving at Heathrow at about 4.30 a.m. full of young back-packers. [The compiler of this note made a similar railway journey out of Waterloo to Weymouth in the late 1950s.] . [A.W.]


[Page 76, line 33, and page 77, lines 1 & 2] The train jolted through Vauxhall points, and was welcomed with the clang of empty milk-cans for the West. See comment above. Vauxhall was the first station out of Waterloo, a few minutes down the line, and was adjacent to the original terminus of the LSWR, at Nine Elms, which had become the central London goods station for the LSWR, to which the milk was consigned. There was a United Dairies bottling plant close by. [A.W.]

[Page 80 line 13] unpinned her hat the large hats of the era were secured with hatpins anything up to a foot (30 cm.) long that went into the long hair (line 14).

[Page 81 line 13] 'Woking. There's the Necropolis' Woking is a town in Surrey some 25 miles (40 km) south-west of London, some 40 minutes down the line from Waterloo. It was formed around the railway station built in the mid-nineteenth century at the junction between lines to the south coast, the south-west, and the 'Necropolis Railway' to Brookwood Cemetery. This was the site of the first crematorium in Britain.

[Page 81 line 22] bogie Kipling means 'bogey' – a ghost; Miss Herschil believes she has been just the ghost of a girl for two years. [a 'bogie' is a truck with two pairs of wheels at each end of a long railway-vehicle or in a steam-engine.]

[Page 82 line 8] wry-neck (genus Jynx) woodpeckers who possess the ability to turn their heads almost 180 degrees. When disturbed at the nest, they use this snake-like head twisting and hissing as a threat display. This odd behaviour led to their use in witchcraft, hence to put a 'jinx' on someone.

[Page 82 line 12] all dorn a child’s pronunciation of 'gone'.

[Page 83, lines 18-20] Beyond Farnborough the 10.8 rolls out many empty milk-cans at every halt. Farnborough was two stations down the line from Woking, some eight miles further west. [A.W.]

[Page 84, lines 10-12] The train was running under red cliffs along a sea wall washed by waves that were colourless in the early light. Kipling has made a grievous geographical error. Nowhere does the LSWR line from Waterloo reach the seacoast as he has described. What he is describing is the line of the Great Western Railway at Dawlish, in south Devon (a line Kipling most certainly travelled along when going to and from his home in Torquay, 1896-7). Conroy and Miss Herschil might have gone that way had they changed trains at Exeter, but they clearly have not. [A.W.]

[Page 84 line 24] Our Father the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6,9, Luke 11,2, and The Book of Common Prayer. The most familiar prayer for Christians.

[Page 85, lines1-2] the London and South Western’s allowance of washing water is inadequate They are clearly still in the same train. There was a lavatory compartment at each end of the side-corridor of the coach, containing a wash-basin and a w.c. Water for washing and for flushing the w.c. was provided from a tank in the roof of the coach. (The taps on the wash-basin were conspicuously marked that the water was NOT drinking water) Since the camber of the coach roof was comparatively flat (see the illustration of the LSWR express at the head of these notes) there was relatively less room for water than in later, higher-roofed coaches. ). [A.W.]

[Page 85 line 14] putty usually taken to be a cement made of whiting and linseed oil used for fixing glass – very soft but drying hard.

[Page 85, line 15] She met him in the spare compartment There would have been seven compartments in the coach, three first-class and four third class. On this train, which would have carried very few first-class passengers anyway (you didn’t make such an uncomfortable journey unless you absolutely had to), and at this stage of the journey (whether or not Kipling got the location right, they are beyond Exeter) when many of the other passengers would have disembarked, there might well have been an empty compartment in which Nurse Blaber could set out breakfast. [A.W.]

[Page 86 line 27] Lancashire a large and historic county in the North-West of England, a major industrial region since the 19th century, built on coal, engineering, cotton-mills, snd overseas trade.

[Page 86 line 31] Lancaster Gate a grand mid-19th century development in the Bayswater district of London, north of Hyde Park.

[Page 86 line 32] Mecca city in Saudi Arabia containing the holiest site of Islam, the Grand Mosque, but here simply used to indicate an important place.

the Langham Hotel off Regent Street, the hotel opened in 1865, restored and expanded in the 1990's, with much of the original interior still intact, refurbishment was completed in 2007.

[Page 87 line 28] Methody nickname for members of the Methodist Church, founded by John Wesley (1703-1791) within the Church of England in 1739, which became a separate church in 1795. Two of Kipling's forebears were Methodust ministers.

[Page 87 line 33] George Skinner also known as Toots (page 88 line 4 below.) a character in Dombey & Son by Charles Dickens (left).

[Page 88 line 5] Dickens Charles Dickens, the great novelist (1812-1870) with whom Kipling was sometumes compared. (See Charles Carrington, p. 506)

[Page 88 line 9] Dr. Blimber proprietor of an Academy attended by Toots in Dombey & Son.

[Page 89 line 5] a coast-guard’s track marked with white stones see “Brother Square-Toes” (Rewards and Fairies, pp. 147-148).

[Page 89 line 11] telegram a cheap and rapid form of communication before the telephone was in general use – one wrote the message, handed it in at a post office and it was sent by Morse code to the nearest office to the recipient and delivered by a boy on a bicycle. See “Thy Servant a Dog” in the book of the same name, page 5 line 9

[Page 89 line 21] Hammersmith some five miles (8km) west of central London on the north bank of the Thames, with several rowing-clubs. The final scene of Kipling’s story “Brugglesmith” (Many Inventioms).

[Page 89 line 22] tub in this context a rowing-boat used for training.

[Page 89 line 24] rackets or 'racquets' a vigorous game played with racquet and ball, dating from the 18th century.

[Page 90 line 9] 'I wish chemists’ shops hadn't red lights pharmacists used to have illuminated jars of coloured fluid in the window – see “Wireless” (Traffics and Discoveries p. 216 line 22):

Three superb glass jars — red green and blue — ... blazed in the broad plate-glass windows...
[Page 90 line 12] two hundred horses were then often priced in guineas (one pound, one shilling) – some £14,500 in 2007.

[Page 90 line 19] hocks in this context joints in the hind legs of the horse.

[Page 90 line 27] pair oar two men rowing with an oar each.

[Page 91 line 20] Sir Pandarus of Troy a character in Shakespeare's ”The Merry Wives of Windsor” Act 1 scene 3. As the two doctors confer on the platform, Chartres quotes Pistol’s remark to Falstaff when he suggested Pistol acts as a go-between in a love-affair:

Shall I Sir Pandarus of Troy become
And by my side wear steel ? Lucifer take all !
Pandarus is a character from legend, he is borrowed by Chaucer and Shakespeare, giving his name to a pandar or pander who procures women for men. Chartres is asking whether the doctors should take responsibility for bringing Conroy and Miss Henschil together. As will be seen, however, Miss Henschil and Conroy, though great friends in time of trouble, do not fall in love.

[Page 91 line 21] We’re bound to think of the children he is afraid they might pass on their mental instability to their children if they do marry

[Page 91, line 24] May I sit with you? On their first journey, there had been no such question: the two doctors assumed that they would share the same compartment (though Nurse Blaber was next door as chaperone). Here, the conventions are being more strictly observed – no gentleman would deliberately intrude on a lady, even if she were accompanied by her maid, unless the circumstances made it necessary. And, as it appears, Miss Henschil’s fiancé, ‘Toots’, is showing signs of jealousy, though Kipling is at pains to point out that this is not a romance.

In fact, one can make a number of deductions from a careful reading of this page. On reaching platform 3, Conroy has not seen either of the doctors, nor Miss Henschil, nor Nurse Blaber. The latter two have already arrived, and entered one of the first-class compartments, in which Miss Henschil is joined by the two doctors. Not seeing them, Conroy picks his own compartment, and enters it. He does not see Nurse Blaber, nor she him, until he is in the compartment (she is in the corridor) therefore the corridor is on the side away from the platform. Had it been on the platform side he would have seen Nurse Blaber before he entered the compartment, and he might have said “Oh, is Miss Henschil here already?”, and he might then have re-introduced himself. As it is, she makes the first move, but not until the train has gone a mile or two (“a few minutes after the train started”). [A.W.]


[Page 92 line 8] draughts a game similar to chess but not so complicated. Known as chequers in the United States, it is played by Uncle Salter and Pennsylvania Pratt in Captains Courageous.

[Page 92 line 9] chess an ancient and highly skilled game for two players, of Indian and Persian origin, played on a board of sixty-four squares.

[Page 94 line 23] four thousand a year … rents should make it six £6,000 per annum in 1914 would be worth some £410,000 in 2007.

[Page 94 line 25] fettle up normally an engineering term meaning to finish or smooth metal, but here meaning to bring off or accomplish.

[Page 95 line 4] nothing much for a maid except to be married an unmarried woman at that time was usually totally dependent on her father until she married. Miss Henschil however, had sufficient income of her own – line 94 line 23 above, but see the Note to “Miss Youghal’s Syce (Plain Tales from the Hills, page 29 line 22).

[Page 96 line 11] The Cloister and the Hearth a novel (1861) by Charles Reade (1814-1884), much admired by Kipling. (see Something of Myself page 228 line 28)

[Page 96, line 13] (it was near Salisbury) at two in the morning. The 10.8 has taken four hours to cover little more than 85 miles (the cathedral town of Salisbury lies 83 miles from Waterloo) – a magnificent average of 21 m.p.h. – but, from Farnborough onwards, it will have stopped at at least ten stations, spending some five minutes at each while the churns were unloaded: and they would have changed engines at Salisbury: allowing for the extra time taken to accelerate and decelerate at each stop, the average speed has probably been about 35-40 m.p.h.: but the day expresses would average about 55 m.p.h. However, see my note below, which explains why it took so long to reach Salisbury. [A.W.]

[Page 97 line 17] senile decay the general deterioration of the human body in the process of ageing.

[Page 97 line 18] Bournemouth a large coastal resort in Dorset, in south west England. The pleasant climate makes it a favourite with the elderly.

[Page 98 line 14] pikelets crumpets or muffins, buns for toasting.

[Page 98 line 16] Naaman and Gehazi Elisha cured his servant Gehazi of leprosy after he cursed him with it for obtaining money from Naaman by false pretences. See II Kings 4-5, and the verse "Gehazi".

[Page 98 line 22] Mola (or Molo) A colony for lepers on the north side of the Hawaiian island of Molokai, founded by Father Damien (1840-1889) The disfiguring disease of leprosy, thought to be highly contagious, caused lepers to be isolated and shunned. With other complaints it was brought to the Pacific by European sailors and traders.

[Page 98 line 28] Jarrow town on the River Tyne in northern England, then famous for ship-building, and as the home of the Venerable Bede (671-735) the first English historian.

[Page 100 line 24] Bradshaw the celebrated Railway Timetables first published in 1838 by George Bradshaw (1801-1853) which survived until 1961, when they were replaced by British Rail's timetables

[Page 100 line 25] Templecombe a village in Somerset on the A357 five miles south of Wincanton, twelve miles east of Yeovil, and 30 miles west of Salisbury: served by trains on the London Waterloo to Exeter St. Davids West of England Main Line, originally built by the London and South Western Railway.

Bristol a city in the West of England, just over 100 miles from London.

Hereford see page 74 line 17 above.

[Page 100, line 28] If I change at Templecombe – for Bristol (Bristol – Hereford – yes) This really is a marvellous problem for a railway enthusiast. In fact, it may be suggested that Kipling has again gone slightly astray. Templecombe was indeed an important junction, where the Somerset and Dorset Railway crossed the LSWR – but that led to the Midland Railway at Bath – not Bristol. It is now about 4 a.m., and to get to Hereford he has got to make three changes of train: he certainly would not reach Hereford in time for breakfast.

[In fact, I have a Bradshaw for 1922 which will give a reasonable idea of the trains which Conroy would have had to take – railway services, having reached a peak in 1914, suffered during WW1, and were only just beginning to get back to something like their pre-war frequency and speed by 1922. Bradshaw shows that, in 1922, the milk-train from Waterloo left at 10.0 p.m, and travelled to Salisbury by a roundabout route – instead of going down the main line, Woking – Basingstoke – Andover – Salisbury, and so on to Exeter, at Basingstoke it turned left and went down the original route to Salisbury, via Winchester – Eastleigh – Romsey – and so to Salisbury: which is why it didn’t arrive at Salisbury until 2.30a.m.. I’m pretty sure it did the same pre-war. It reached Templecombe at 3.46 a.m.

The first train northward from Templecombe was not until 7.15. a.m. arriving at Bath at 9.15. There he would change for Bristol, leaving Bath at 9.50a.m., and arriving in Bristol at 10.46. Here, he would have had to take a cab, or quite likely a new taxi, to get from the Midland Railway station (St. Phillips) to the Great Western station (Temple Meads) by 11.5 – no great problem, but he would have had to be nippy. The 11.5 a.m., (the North and West express) would have got him to Hereford at 1.4 p.m. So, he would have been in time for lunch, but not for breakfast. And the telegram could not have been handed in at Hereford at 12.46. I do wonder whether Kipling himself consulted Bradshaw when he wrote the tale – the use of a precise time for handing in the telegram at Hereford suggests he may have done so (or maybe it was typical RK elaboration for the sake of appearing to be an expert). But I must admit there is a possibility (though not any great likelihood) that in 1911 there was an earlier train out of Templecombe which would have got him to Hereford, via the same route, perhaps a couple of hours earlier. Still not in time for anything but a very late breakfast (not before 11.30 a.m.), but still in time for the 12.46 despatch of the telegram. [A.W.]


[Page 100 line 29] Gillingham a town in the Blackmore Vale area of Dorset, England, 3 miles south of the A303 on the B3095 and B3081 near Shaftesbury which lies 7 miles to the south east.

This Gillingham is pronounced with a hard G as in 'goat' and is not to be confused with Gillingham in Kent, in which the G is pronounced as a J as in the girl's name Jill.

[Page 101 line 31] eighty-five 1885 – his year of birth. Dr. Gillian Sheehan writes:

As far as I know the only way an unborn child will be affected by the mother's experiences is if the mother is undernourished or has some infection. The baby is likely to be of low birth weight and small for the gestational age. (This happens quite a lot in the third world.) In 1893 Alfred Russell Wallace wrote to the Editor of 'Nature' of 24 August 1893. :
The popular belief that prenatal influences on the mother affect the offspring physically, producing moles or other birth-marks, or even malformations of a more or less serious character, is said to be entirely unsupported by any trustworthy facts and is also rejected by physiologists on theoretical grounds.
See also “The Ballad of Boh Da Thone” (1888). It is not known if Kipling was aware of current thinking on pre-natal influence on an unborn child
[G.S.]


"Helen All Alone"


Notes on
the Text

the poem


First published in A Diversity of Creatures in 1917 in the United Kingdom and the United States, where it follows, and echoes the theme of “In the Same Boat”. Collected, with slight alterations, in the Sussex Edition, Volume 9. page 103 and Volume 34, page 314; the Burwash Edition, Volumes 9 and 27, Inclusive Verse, Definitive Verse and The Collected Works of Rudyard Kipling (Wordsworth Poetry Library.


[Verse 2] Limbo the borders of hell where some souls await the Last Day when they will be received into heaven [Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable].


[J H McG/A.W.]

©John McGivering and Alastair Wilson 2008 All rights reserved