[Heading] These lines in French are from “La Fée aux Miettes” – a story told by a lunatic to a melancholic by Charles Nodier
(1780-1844), a French author who specialised in the ‘gothic’, writing of vampire tales and dreams. The lines might translate as follows:
It is I, it is I, it is I !
I am the Mandrake, daughter of the good days,
I wake at dawn and sing for you.
Mandrake is the common name for members of the plant genus Mandragora belonging to the nightshades (Solanaceae). Containing hallucinogens, the plant is poisonous and grows in Southern Europe. Legend has it that it screams when uprooted.
As Dr. Tompkins (p. 152) points out, the Mandrake is a powerful symbol for the hatred which has poisoned the life of Manallace:
This symbolism, appropriate to poetical delusion, becomes immensely more powerful when it is applied to revenge. This is the narcotic that Manallace finds for his empty and aching life. Since its origin is in the ‘dayspring’ and good days of his youth, it is indeed ‘la fille des beaux jours’. It is anodyne, refrigerativc, hypnotic. It cradles him in delusions for a while. But it is not the right mandragora and he lets it fall. Even the words of the doctor fit this meaning. Revengeful hatred is a powerful cathartic that can empty the mind of other pains, but it is more often deadly than sanative to the mind that entertains it.
[Page 3 lines 1-2] In the days beyond compare … a variation on ‘Once upon a Time’ or ‘In the High and Far-Off Times’ as the opening of a tale. This expression seems to refer, with a touch of irony, to Manallace’s early days of hope as a young writer, his ‘Dayspring’.
Graydon Daniel Karlin notes that ‘Graydon’ has some resemblance to W. E. Henley (1849-1903), the Editor of the Scots Observer, who published the first series of Barrack-Room Ballads in 1890. and who fostered the careers of many young writers of Kipling’s generation. He was a close friend and admirer of Kipling and his work.
[Page 3 line 3] advance of education Peter Havholm writes: The Elementary Education Act 1870 required children in England and Wales to attend school between the ages of 5 and 10. Later Education Acts in the nineteenth century increased the age to 13 and introduced state payment of school fees. A significant increase in literacy resulted, and entrepreneurs like Graydon saw the new markets those readers represented.
[Page 3 line 11] the Army and Navy Stores Catalogue see Notes to “The Army of a Dream” Part I (Traffics and Discoveries p. 244 l.32). This was a comprehensive catalogue which carried a very wide variety of products.
[Page 3 line 13] The Hearthstone Friend a publication we have not traced, probably invented by the author.
[Page 3 lines 17 – 20] ‘Passion Hath Peril’ … imaginary popular love-stories. (No doubt similar to those published by Mills & Boon, founded in 1908.)
[Page 4 lines 4-5 ] ravens … ark ‘Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made And he sent forth a raven which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.’ Genesis 8,6-7.
[Page 4 line 12] Vidal Benzaquen see The Village that Voted the Earth was Flat (A Diversity of Creatures page 167, line 27) where the name of this delightful music hall artiste is spelt ‘Benzaguen’.
[Page 4 line 16] Bohemia the legendary abode of artists and writers in various parts of London and elsewhere, whose lifestyle is seen as loose and unconventional. This use of the name was originally based on the mistaken belief that the gipsies, thought of as rootless people, unconventional and loose in their morals, came from the ancient Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic. See “My Son’s Wife” in A Diversity of Creatures, the verse “In Partibus” and “Letters on Leave” (both collected in Abaft the Funnel), for Kipling’s views on London’s ‘Bohemia’.
[Page 4 line 18] Neminaka’s Café in Hestern Square A fictitious cafe, perhaps based on a real one. Daniel Karlin notes that W E Henley used to give bachelor dinner parties at Sherry’s in Regent Street near Piccadilly Circus in central London. This referemce may evoke their atmosphere.
See Philip French, `Kipling and the Movies’, in John Gross (ed.), Rudyard Kipling (1972).
[Page 4 line 24] Philippa’s Queen a novel we not have traced, but perhaps a reference to Philippa of Hainault, (1311-1369) Queen consort of Edward III of England, even though she is a century too late (Page 5 line 8 below)
[Page 5 line 2] cuts in this context prints or impressions from plates or wooden blocks – an early way of printing illustrations.
[Page 5 line 8] Crusader a soldier on one of the Christian expeditions to recover Palestine, ‘the Holy Land’, from the Muslims in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries.
[Page 5 line 16] a couple of sovereigns a sovereign was a handsome gold coin worth one pound Sterling. The 1914 £ is now (in 2008) worth about £70.
[Page 6 line 3] Upas-tree Antiaris toxicaria from Java, the juice of which is a virulent poison used for tipping arrows. Legend has it that nothing will live in its shadow. See also Hobson-Jobson, p. 952.
Kipling also uses the upas tree in “The City of Dreadful Night” (From Sea to Sea page 220 line 19) as a metaphor for what he sees as the pernicious influence of Western education in India.
Gilbert and Sullivan The librettist W. S. Gilbert (1836–1911) and composer Arthur Sullivan (1842–1900), who wrote fourteen light operas between 1871 and 1896, inluding “H.M.S. Pinafore”, “The Pirates of Penzance” and “The Mikado”. They were so popular that Manallace clearly believed he could not live in their ‘upas-like’ shadow. They are still popular today (2012).
[Page 6 line 13] three guinea a guinea is one pound, one shilling, or £1·05. (there were 20 shillings to the £ sterling).
[Page 6 line 14] thirteen and sevenpence ha’penny (half-penny) about 68 pence. The 1914 £ is now (2008) worth about £70. Kipling’s general point is that popularity leading to mass demand can encourage the production of cheap copies. As a professional writer Kipling was always sensitive to what books would sell for.
[Page 6 line 17] Cinema-caption school in the days of silent films, the dialogue and the action appeared on the screen alternately, often using language that seems fulsome to us today. See Philip French, `Kipling and the Movies’, in John Gross (ed.), Rudyard Kipling (1972).
[Page 6 line 19] twenty-seven thousand pounds A large sum, nearly two million pounds in 2008 values.
[Page 6 line 24] the jocundly-sentimenatl Wardour Street brand of adventure Wardour Street is in central London, between Leicester Square and Oxford Street, and was the site of a second-hand furniture market, not a smart thoroughfare. Used metaphorically the name implied ‘pseudo-archaic’ or ‘sham antique’ – and a bit down-market, The expression was often applied to historical novels, which is what Manallace wrote. King in ‘Regulus’ (p. 247, line 30) uses this phrase when discussing how to translate Horace:
‘Well though he knew. I don’t like Conington’s “well-witting”. It’s Wardour Street’ .
[Page 6 line 28] I’ve got my label his readers know and enjoy his style and subjects. A modern advertiser would say ‘I’ve established my brand.’
[Page 7 line 2] hackwork literary drudgery. Writing works of no particular merit just for the money.
[Page 7 line 5] Chaucer Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400) One of the great figures of English literature, whose Canterbury Tales are read to this day, and much parodied.
See Kipling’s “Prologue to the Master-Cook’s Tale” following “His Gift” in Land and Sea Tales.
[Page 7 line 20] Freud Sigmund Freud, founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychiatric medicine, and best known for his theories of the unconscious mind and the defence mechanism of repression of sexual feelings. [He also enjoyed The Jungle Book; see John Bayley, The Uses of Division: Unity and Disharmony in Literature, Chatto & Windus, 1976, page 51.]
[Page 7 line 32] the War The Great War began in August 1914, so this implies that she died in April 1915.
This seems to contradict Manallace’s later comment (page 20 line 33) that he had been ‘dead since – April, Fourteen it was’. However, as Dr Tompkins suggests (p. 148, footnote), Kipling was ‘never safe with dates’.
[Page 8 line 1] departmental dishwashers lowly clerks.
[Page 8 line 2] Office of Co-ordinated Supervisals an imaginary Civil Service department.
[Page 8 line 5] cadged lumps of sugar Sugar, much of it imported from overseas, was scarce. This and other foods were rationed in 1918 after shortages caused by the German policy of unrestricted submarine warfare in 1916, which reduced imports of food.
[Page 8 line 15] Manallace’s real life-work and interests revenge on Castorley for his unpleasant behaviour.
[Page 8 line 18] Supreme Pontiff usually applied to the Pope; here signifying the recognised world expert on Chaucer.
[Page 8 line 20] the English Pope the leading British expert on Chaucer.
[Page 8 line 22] Hun applied to the Germans by the British in the 1914 War. historically, the Huns were nomadic Mongol tribesmen led by Atilla, who overran much of Asia and Eastern Europe until his death in 453.
[Page 8 line 23] Upsala a city in Sweden, on of the northernmost cities in Europe.
[Page 8 line 24] Seville a city and province in southern Spain.
[Page 8 line 30] a day’s gadzooking and vitalstapping A day’s work on his historical adventure stories. ‘Gadzooks!’ and ‘Stap my vitals’ were archaic exclamations commonly used in such tales.
[Page 8 line 33] oak-galls Parasitic growths on oak trees caused by various species of gall-wasps which lay eggs on the tree. Usually known as ‘oak-apples’.
[Page 9 line 2] birdlime a sticky substance prepared by boiling bark, etc. and smeared on branches of trees to catch birds.
[Page 9 line 27] the Low Countries Belgium and the Netherlands.
[Page 10 line 8] the Shetlands islands off the north coast of Scotland
[Page 10 line 9] the Faroes islands in the North Atlantic some 200 miles north-west of the Shetlands.
[Page 10 line 15] Vulgate The old Latin version (editio vulgata) of the Christian scriptures, translated by St Jerome and others in the 4th century, twice revised, and in common use over the centuries in the Roman Catholic Church. (George Engel). See also his note on “Proofs of Holy Writ”.
[Page 10 line 17] thirty-five shillings One pound, fifteen shillings or £1·75. Equivalent to over £50 in 2008 values.
[Page 10 line 19] shells used to contain the paints.
[Page 10 line 23] Alva Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alva (1508-1582) Governor-General of the Netherlands whn they were under Spanish rule in the sixteenth century.
[Page 11 line 1] recognition Castorley was pleased with his own achievements, and expected a knighthood or some other honour.
[Page 11 line 9] Sunnapia Collection an imaginary foundation in the United States.
[Page 11 line 14] our Dan in this context a title of honour
common with the old poets, as Dan Phœbus, Dan Cupid, Dan Neptune, Dan Chaucer, etc. (Spanish, don) [Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable] In his epic poem “The Faërie Queen” (1590), book iv. canto ii. 32., Edmund Spencer wrote:
Dan Chaucer, well of English undefiled,
On Fame’s eternal beadroll worthy to be filed.
[Page 11 line 16] wot an archaic form of wit – to know or understand.
[Page 11 line 19] just-passed proofs preliminary pages of his book from the printer which he had been correcting.
[Page 11 line 24] The Persone’s Tale “The Parson’s Prologue and Tale” , the final items in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a sermon on virtuous living which the Parson relates in prose as he says he cannot rhyme. The subject is penitence.
[Page 11 line 25] Abraham Mentzius not traced – probably fictitious. Daniel Karlin notes that some Dutch scribes did work on medieval English manuscripts.
[Page 11 line 29] Byzantine relating to Byzantium (Constantinople, now Istanbul) and to a somewhat flamboyant form of decoration in art and architecture.
[Page 12 lines 3 & 4] Ah Jesu-Moder, pitie my oe peyne… these and the following lines in the style of Chaucer are collected only in Limits and Renewals and in the Sussex Edition, volume 11, pp.11 & 14.
Jesu-Moder means ‘Jesus Mother’, Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
oe Daniel Karlin notes that this word is not found in Chaucer and appears not to be authentic; it means something like `one’ or `own’.
[Page 12 line 11] rubricated in this context a capital letter elaborately decorated in red usually found in old manuscripts. See black-and-white versions at the beginning of each of the Just So Stories.
[Page 12 line 15] illumination in this context the decoration of the background and lettering of manuscripts. Sadly, the invention of printing ended the exercise of this marvellous ancient art. See Kipling’s account of the work of the monk John Otho in “The Eye of Allah” in Debits and Credits.
[Page 13 line 9] common form the routine form of words in legal documents, and so ‘the usual thing’.
[Page 13 line 18] Bury St. Edmunds an ancient town in Suffolk with the ruins of a Benedictine Abbey.
[Page 14 line 1] plangent resounding, penetrating.
[Page 14 line 20] gas many buildings were illuminated by coal-gas before electricity was widely available.
[Page 14 lines 31 & 32]
‘And if perchance thou fall into his honed
By God how canstow ride to Holilonde ?
[See the note above on page 12, lines 3 & 4].
canstow cans’t thou
Holilonde the Holy Land – Palestine.
[Page 15 line 12] Bordeaux French Atlantic port that still ships excellent wines to many countries.
[Page 15 line 19] they give grocers Knighthoods a reference to Sir Thomas Lipton (1850-1931) founder of an important firm of provision merchants; knighted in 1898 and made a baronet in 1902.
[Page 16 line 1] K. B. E. Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, an order instituted in 1917.
[Page 16 line 2] Honours List Usually published twice a year, in January and on the Sovereign’s official birthday in June.
[Page 16 line 18] the old Empire The Empire Theatre opened in 1884 as a West End variety theatre in Leicester Square not far from Piccadilly; refurbished over the years and later rebuilt, it is now (2008) a cinema.
faithful, Cynera, in your fashion an echo of the poem “Non Sum Qualis Eram” by Ernest Dowson (1867-1900):
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara, in my fashion,
Daniel Karlin comments that Dowson (1867-1900) epitomizes the spirit of the 1890s and therefore the narrator’s, and Manallace’s, lost youth.
[Page 17 line 33] quern A hand mill (right), for grinding grain, or salt.
[Page 18 line 31] Horace’s Odes Works by the Roman lyric poet
(65-8 B.C.) which Kipling studied at school and loved ever after. See Kipling’s Horace edited by C. E. Carrington (Methuen, 1978).
[Page 19 line 6] Illa alma Mater etc see the note to Page 22, line 17 and the footnote below.
[Page 19 line 12] black-letter also known as Gothic script or Gothic minuscule, used throughout Western Europe from approximately 1150 to 1500 and continued for the German language until the twentieth century.
[Page 20 line 2] cards visiting-cards with name address and title – then an essential part of the social equipment of ladies and gentlemen.
[Page 20 line 7] ungirt see “A Song to Mithras” Verse 2.
[Page 20 line 9] ‘The Title’ in this context, a knighthood.
[Page 20 line 14] the very parfit gentil knight ‘The very perfect gentle knight’, line 72 from from Chaucer’s “Prologue” to The Canterbury Tales.
[Page 20 line 27] go off his …. nut go mad or suffer a ‘nervous breakdown.’
[Page 20 line 33] April, Fourteen see the note on page 7 line 32 above.
[Page 22 line 17] read down the first and second letters
The instructions in the text are not entirely clear: one reads the first letter of each word, thus obtaining (with I instead of J). IAMES A MANA, and then the second letter of each word which gives LLACE FECIT. [fecit is Latin for ‘did it’ or ‘made it’, thereby producing an amusing bilingual play on words, as it is often pronounced ‘fake it’ which is exactly what he did.]
The cypher thus gives the following message in Latin:
‘iames a manallace fecit’
i.e. ‘James A Manallace made it.’
The only other such device in Kipling’s works of which we are aware is the beginning of “The Cat that Walked by Himself” (See the note on page
175 of Just-So Stories). where the initial letter on Kipling’s drawing of a mutton-bone conceals a message written in “Runes.”
[Page 23 line 17] gall-stones pebble-like accretions in the gall-bladder caused by salts etc. in the bile which may cause pain, indigestion or jaundice. [Harmsworth] Kipling suffered from stomach-trouble for many years.
[Page 24 line 3] betimes early, in good time.
[Page 24 line 26] you know ever so much better this is when Manallace realises that she suspects the plot.
[Page 26 line 10] aide aide de-camp; usually a junior officer attending a general, but here a civilian assistant.
[Page 28 line 1] colics spasmodic attacks of pain in the abdomen. [Hutchinson]
[Page 28 line 25] one gathered these news The Sussex edition has: ‘one gathered these things’.
[Page 29 line 3] vellum a superior bleached parchment made from animal-skin.
[Page 29 line 10] Friar’s Balsam taken internally or mixed with hot water, the vapour is inhaled for colds and influenza; it is also used locally for abrasions. [Black].
[Page 29 line 27] Gladstone in this context a leather bag which separates into two compartments when opened; named after William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898) four times Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who travelled extensively.
[Page 30 lines 1-2] he named her…. etc. see page 4 line 18 above
[Page 30 line 11] he said it who should not ORG believes this to be an echo of a 16th Century expression that we have not traced.
[Page 31 line 10] She told me she never has since before we were married not in the Strand Magazine version.
[Page 31 lines 24-28] I wish to God someone … etc it is not clear what this may be – perhaps a recollection of his unreported remarks at page 16, line 32 above.
[Page 31 line 28] two quid slang for £2 Sterling.
[Page 31 line 32] bronchitis inflammation of the air-passages of the lungs usually caused by an infection following a cold or influenza. [Harmsworth]