"Without Benefit
of Clergy"

Notes on the text

These notes, by John McGivering, are partly new, and partly based on the ORG. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Life's Handicap, as published and frequently reprinted between 1891 and 1950.



[February 26 2006]

[Page 149, line 7] mullah a Muslim learned in theology and sacred law – a priest.

[Page 149, line 12] this mercy in this context, the knowledge that she is pregnant.

[Page 150, line 3] Lucknow dancing-girl Lucknow is an ancient Mogul city, capital of the Province of Oudh (now Uttar Pradesh) famous for its musicians and dancing-girls [see Archie Baron, An Indian Affair (Pan Macmillan, 2001) p.111 for an illustration] and a siege in the troubles of 1857. See “Winning the Victoria Cross” (Land and Sea Tales). Kim was at school there.

[Page 150, line 31] the Prince of Darkness – the Devil.

[Page 152, lines 12 – 23] ‘It is not good …. etc.’ this brave speech from a stout-hearted girl echoes one of Shakespeare’s heroines that we have not yet traced – information would be appreciated. [Ed.]

[Page 154, line 25] pundit a learned man, a teacher, from the Sanskrit pandita. Also applied to the under-cover surveyors who mapped sensitive areas across the Border. [See Peter Hopkirk, The Great Game (OUP. 1990) and Kim.]

[Page 155, line 12] the Faith Islam.

[Page 157, line 26] pool in this context, a game somewhat similar to snooker for up to twelve players.

[Page 157, line 30] In Baltimore a-walking etc. from the poem “O Falmouth is a fine town” by William Ernest Henley (1849-1903).

[Page 158, line 7] And if it be a girl etc. verses called “Rosemary Lane” or alternatively “Home, Dearest Home” probably by William Chubb, of which there appear to be several versions of various degrees of bawdiness. They are here misquoted by Kipling or - perhaps - he was quoting from yet another version.

[Page 158, line 14] marker in this context a club servant who keeps the score for the players.

[Page 158, line 31] Ya illah ! more usually 'Allah' - My God !

[Page 159, line 4] Friday the Muslim holy day.

the sign of the Sun a Sign of the Zodiac, believed to influence those born under it see Kim, Chapter 2. “A Doctor of Medicine” (Rewards and Fairies), “The Children of the Zodiac”(Many Inventions), and the verse “Our Fathers of Old”.

[Page 159, line 23] patch in this context, a small piece of black silk or other material, cut in various shapes and stuck on the faces of fashionable ladies in the 17th and 18th centuries.

[Page 161, lines 29 - 31] Oh Crow ! etc This rhyme has not been traced and information would be appreciated. [Ed.]

[Page 162, line 2] well-bullocks they either walk round a beam that winds up the water-bucket or walk up a ramp, pulling the water up from the well.

[Page 162, line 6] water-pipe The hookah – tobacco is placed in the bowl on top with a little charcoal to keep it burning while the smoker cups his hand round the mouthpiece of a flexible tube and sucks the smoke through scented water. See Hobson-Jobson (pp. 423 and 428).

[Page 163, line 27] touched his feet a sign of servitude.

[Page 165, line 28] mongoose Herpestes griseus, a small carnivorous mammal and a great killer of snakes – see “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” in The Jungle Book.

[Page 165, line 25] Solomon King of Israel c. 970-933 B.C. see the Books of Kings and The Song of Solomon in the Old Testament. Also Kipling’s stories “The Butterfly that Stamped” (Just-So Stories) and his verses “Banquet Night” and “The Merchantmen”.

[Page 165, line 25] Plato c. 429-347 B.C. One of the most influential Greek philosophers.

[Page 166, line 28] kites in this context, paper or cloth stretched over light frames and flown in the air at the end of thin cord, part of which is dipped in glue and powdered glass to make an abrasive with a view to cutting the string of others. A popular pastime in a number of Asian countries. [See Meryl Macdonald The Long Trail (Tideway House, 1999) page 45, for kite-flying in Lahore.

[Page 167, line 14] fever see Dr. Sheehan’s Notes

[Page 170, line 7] sitar an elaborate stringed instrument, plucked like a guitar, originating in Bengal.

[Page 170, line 10] Rajah Rasalu not traced.

[Page 171, line 27] dhak-tree Butea frondosa, also known as “Flame of theForest” which usually blossoms at the beginning of the hot weather. [Hobson-Jobson]

[Page 171, line 30] Kot – Kumarsen see “The Head of the District", page 118, line 2 in this volume.

[Page 172, line 5] cholera a dangerous and often lethal disease of the intestinal tract. [see Dr. Sheehan’s Notes].

[Page 172, line 7] Lower Tooting a suburb of London.

[Page 172, line 11] vestrymen members of a parish council – the lowest tier of local government – here used facetiously of a member of Parliament, the highest tier of central authority.

[Page 172, line 14] salt-lick tidal marshes where sunshine evaporates the sea-water and the remaining salt attracts cattle.

[Page 172, line 16] locusts a destructive swarming grasshopper of the family Acrididae.

[Page 173, line 8] bazars markets.

[Page 174, line 27] bullock-cart this is a much more luxurious vehicle than the usual country-cart. [see the illustration opposite p. 100 of Kim.

[Page 175, line 19] Beebee Miriam the Virgin Mary.

[Page 175, line 20] thy Prophet Jesus Christ.

[Page 175, line 22] Where thou art, I am an echo of Ruth 1, 16: '… Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge…'

[Page 175, line 31] conches large trumpet-shaped shellfish (Strombus gigas) which can be blown like bugles.

[Page 176, line 2] minarets towers on the mosques from which the Faithful are called to prayer.

[Page 176, line 18] famine-relief A familiar emergency for British administrators in India. [See “William the Conqueror” (The Day’s Work).]

[Page 178, line 5] … there is no God but - a Moslem affirmation of faith here adapted – “There is no God but Allah”.

[Page 180. line 30] Mydonie not traced – probably fictitious.

[Page 181, line 21] Cee-spring buggy a horse-drawn cart with large springs shaped like the letter “C” from which the body is slung.

[Page 182, line 4] burning-ghaut A platform by the river where the bodies of the Hindu dead are cremated.


[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2006 All rights reserved