The City of Dreadful Night VIII

Concerning Lucia

(notes by David Page, drawing on the work of th ORG Editors)

First Publication

9th April, 1888 in the Pioneer, 14th April, 1888 in the Week’s News, 18th April, 1888 in the Pioneer Mail.

Notes on the Text

[Heading] There is no heading in the collected editions but in the newspapers there was a verse from “A Toccata of Galuppi’s” by Robert Browning (1812-89) [ORG]:

Was a lady such a lady, cheeks so round and lips so red, —
On her neck the small face buoyant, like a bell-flower on its bed,
O’er the breast’s superb abundance where a man might base his head?

[Page 261, line 4] Old Park Street Cemetery at the junction of Park Street and Lower Circular Road, labelled “Old Burial Ground”. There are three cemeteries or burial grounds in close proximity here.

[Page 261, line 9] Dhurrumtollah or Dharmtala Street, very close to the Great Eastern Hotel where Kipling stayed.

[Page 261, line 10] Hammersmith Highway presumably Hammersmith Broadway was meant. [ORG] It is in west London, not far from Brook Green, where the climax of “Brugglesmith” (Many Inventions) was set.

[Page 261, line 18] Eurasians until 1920, this usually referred to the offspring of European men and Asian ladies. From 1920 or so the term ‘Anglo-Indian’, which had previously referred to Europeans living in India, was used.

[Page 262, line 32] Henry Derozio Henry Louis Vivian Derozio. Wrote The Fakeer of Jungheera, and Other Poems, Calcutta, 1828. [ORG]

[Page 262, line 33] Thomas Edwards Biographer of Derozio the Eurasian poet. [ORG]

[Page 263, line 1] Keats John Keats (1795-1821) (right), the English Romantic poet. [ORG] He wrote, among many other works, “Ode to a Grecian Urn”, “Ode to a Nightingale”, and “The Eve of St Agnes” (see ‘Wireless’, in Traffics and Discoveries).

Scott Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) (left), the notable Scottish novelist and poet. [ORG] He wrote, among other works, the twenty-six Waverley Novels.

Shelley Percy Bysshe Shelley (right) (1792-1822) the celebrated English Romantic poet. [ORG] He wrote, among many other works, “Ozymandias” and “Ode to the West Wind”.

[Page 263, lines 11 & 12] Hogg Market or New Market. Marked on the 1893 map as “Municipal Market” about halfway between Dhurrumtollah Street and Park Street.

[Page 263, lines 18 & 20] Pyramus … Thisbe Ill-fated lovers who figure in a play within a play in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Originally told by Ovid in his Metamorphoses.

[Page 263, line 27] Tam-o’-Shanter a soft woollen bonnet with a flat crown. There is a poem of this title by Robert Burns (1759-96), the Scottish poet, who wrote “Auld Lang Syne”. [ORG]

[Page 263, line 31] coolie-boy Hobson-Jobson defines a ‘cooly’ as a hired labourer.

[Page 263, line 32] brinjals aubergines or egg plants.

[Page 264, line 1] lusson or lassan, lasun, etc. Garlic (Allium Sativum).

[Page 264, line 28] Monghyr a district about 200 miles north-west of Calcutta., on the Ganges close to Jamalpur. See Kipling’s “Among the Railway Folk”, also collected in From Sea to Sea, vol.2.

[Page 264, line 28] Chunar a town south of the Ganges just west of Benares.

[Page 265, line 19] Herculaneum and Pompeii Roman cities in Italy, on the Bay of Naples, destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79. [ORG]

[Page 265, line 29] chunam a polished lime plaster.

[Page 266, lines 1-2] the grave of even so humble a person as ‘Jno. Clements…’ Captain John Clement (no “s”), we know from the Bengal Obituary, was of the Country Service, died on 10th August, 1812 (not 1820). The Original Calcutta Annual Directory and Calendar for 1812 records him as being ‘A mariner and the commander and managing owner of the Bussorah Packet, a ship of 300 tons built at Pegu.’

We know from The Life of Sir William Wilson Hunter that Kipling wrote to Sir William on 15th January 1897 [ORG]:

It is curious, on looking back, to think how your essays, “Some Calcutta Graves”, sent first myself and then my sister, Mrs. Fleming, over the same ground. There is a marvellous fascination in that Park Street Cemetery where all the used-up machinery of the Empire is put away.
[See also Letters Vol 2, Ed. Pinney p.281].

[Page 266, lines 7-10] The four-line verse was in memory of Commissioner Patrick Moir, who was Secretary to Lord Minto in 1806 and who was a Commissioner to the Court of Request of Calcutta in 1807. He died in 1810 at the age of 41. [ORG]

[Page 266, line 22] Lucia the inscription on her grave reads (we know from other sources) [ORG]:


There follow 20 lines of verse, of which sixteen are quoted on pages 266 and 267. The four remaining lines are:

The grief will weep and friendship heave the sigh;
Tho’ wounded memory the fond tear shall shed;
Yet let not fruitless sorrow dim the eye
To teach the living, lie the sacred dead.

[Page 266, lines 23-26] one hundred and sixteen years ago Kipling was not quite accurate with the figures, but 116 years from 1772 would have been 1888 when he was writing. She died aged 24½. [ORG]

[Page 267, line 18] Hickey’s Gazette Hicky’s Bengal Gazette; or Calcutta General Advertiser was the first newspaper published in Calcutta from 1780 to 1782. A series of “Gazettes” and “Advertisers” followed down the years, and although the word “Hicky’s” was dropped from the masthead, it was probably kept as a short reference in popular mamory. (see the British Library Newspaper Catalogue).

[Page 267, line 31] Clive Major-General Robert Clive (1725-1774) (left) was a British soldier who established the military and political supremacy of the East India Company in Southern India and Bengal. Together with Warren Hastings (page 268 line 22) he was one of the key figures in the creation of British India.

[Page 267, line 32] Omichand A Hindu merchant who tried to deceive Clive before the battle of Plassey in 1757, and was out-witted. The battle was a decisive victory by the British East India Company over the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj ud-Daulah, and his French allies, establishing British rule in India. [ORG]

[Page 267, line 33] Black Hole The punishment cell of the barracks in Fort William, Calcutta, into which in 1756 Siraj ud-Daulah thrust 146 European prisoners. Only 23 survived until the morning. [ORG]

[Page 268, line 4] Coffree or Caffer or Caffre. ‘Caffer’ in Hobson-Jobson. Now spelled Kafir or Kaffir. Originally derived from an Arabic word meaning ‘Infidel’ or ‘unbeliever in Islam’, which was used by Arabs in the 19th century to refer to pagan black African people.

[Page 268, line 6] rutlan no definition has been found, but this could be a variant of ‘rutilant’ meaning ‘shining or glowing ruddily’. [Chambers Dictionary]

[Page 268, line 17] Tilly Kettle An English portrait painter (1735-1786) who went out to India, arriving in Madras in 1769 and in Calcutta by late 1771. He was the first professional British artist to make a career in India. [Oxford Dictionary of National Biography]

[Page 268, line 21] Calcutta theatre “The Calcutta Theatre” was built in 1775, three years after the death of Lucia Palk.
[See the Kaleidoscope web-site]

[Page 268, line 22] Punch House punch is a drink made of various spirituous liquors or wine, hot water, the acid juice of fruits, and sugar. It can be very intoxicating. A ‘punch house’ was a building in which punch could be drunk.

Warren Hastings (1732-1818) (right), the Governor-General of Bengal. See the note on Robert Clive above (Page 267, line 31).

[Page 268, line 28] 20th of October the traditional end of the Monsoon. [ORG] This is the rainy season in India, which runs from June until October.

[Pages 268-9, lines 33 & 1] Madeira that had twice rounded the Cape Madeira is a fortified wine made in the Portuguese Madeira islands off the coast of Morocco. A long sea voyage across the equator was part of the maturation process which developed the particular flavour and also the ability of Madeira to remain in good condition for decades. (See also “Judson and the Empire” in Many Inventions, Page 349, line 3).

The traditional sailing ship route from the North Atlantic southwards was through the tropics, then eastwards round the Cape of Good Hope, diverting to whichever ports were on the manifest, before continuing eastwards across the Pacific, round Cape Horn and then back up to the North Atlantic having completed a circumnavigation of the globe. This took advantage of the prevailing westerly winds in the Southern (Antarctic) Ocean rather than battling against the wind in very unweatherly ships.

[Page 269, line 20] ‘the virtuous maid, the faithful wife’ quoted from the last stanza on page 267.

[Page 269, line 21] Calcutta powder ball a costume ball as described by Sarah Tytler in her Life of Her Most Gracious Majesty THE QUEEN, (Victoria), vol.II, chap.II:

On the evening of the 6th of June, 1845, her Majesty, who was at Buckingham Palace for the season, gave another great costume ball, still remembered as her Powder Ball—a name bestowed on it because of the universally-worn powder on hair and periwigs.
[Source: the Gutenberg web-site]

©David Page 2008 All rights reserved