The fifth of the first group of fourteen, published in the Daily Mail on 9 February 1904. Collected in the Sussex Edition vol. 35 p. 128. (ORG Verse No. 841).
“Mat. Prior”: Matthew Prior (1664-1721) Diplomat, secret agent, Member of Parliament, poet, and writer of epigrams.
A young man boasts that his car will do eighty miles an hour but, according to his chauffeur, has never dared to try it.
Ann Weygandt (p.67) comments:
Of “The Braggart”, Kipling’s attempt in Prior’s manner, there is little to be said once we have admitted that it embodies his bantering attitude in a very fair reproduction of his loose pentameter couplet. It may, however, be added that Kipling must really have read Prior to choose this form of quatrain as representative of his patterns for epigrams – the examples of his wit to be found in anthologies are almost invariably in tetrameter!
Notes on the text
[Line 1] Petrolio: an Italian-sounding name which we have not traced, but perhaps it signifies what became known as a ‘petrol-head’ (one whose enthusiasm for motoring verges on mania}.
vaunting his Mercedes: This must be the Mercedes 35 hp, stated by Wikipedia to have reached speeds of 86 mph. [D.H.] John Walker comments: By 1903/4 the 35 hp would have been outdated. In 1903, the 60hp model won the Gordon Bennett Cup, to world-wide acclaim.
[Line 4] his man: his chauffeur.
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