The City of Dreadful Night VI

The City of Dreadful Night

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

First publication

22nd March, 1888 in the Pioneer, 24th March, 1888 in the Week’s News, 11th April, 1888 in the Pioneer Mail

Notes on the Text

[Verse heading] As in the previous chapter, these lines are from “The City of Dreadful Night” by James Thomson (1834-82).

[Page 243, line 7] Chitpore Road runs north from the Lal Bazar / Bow Bazar Street junction to Chitpore (or Chitpur) just across the Circular Canal, crossing Colootollah in the process.

[Page 244, line 15] mail-phaeton an open four-wheeled horse-drawn carriage (right).

[Page 244, line 20] St. John’s Wood this is a highly respectable part of London just to the north of Mayfair and around Lord’s Cricket Ground.

[Page 244, line 21] “fitton” a slang word for the mail-phaeton referred to on line 15.

[Page 245, line 10] Holy Cupid almost a curse but it should be unholy cupid! [ORG]

[Page 245, line 17] Angelica Kaufman (1741-1807] an Anglo-Swiss painter. She was elected in 1768 to be one of the 36 foundation members of the Royal Academy. [ORG]

[Page 245, line 18] Beckford William Beckford (1760-1844), eccentric; wrote an oriental romance, Vathek, and built a “folly” at Fonthill. [ORG]

[Page 245, line 19] Lalla Rookh Thomas Moore (1779-1852), Irish lyrist and poet, wrote a series of oriental tales in verse collected together by a story in prose, Lalla Rookh, published in 1817 [ORG].

[Page 245, line 27] Half a lakh or Rs. 50,000, equivalent to about £3,333. A very large sum.

[Page 246, lines 18 & 19] “domiciliary visits” authorised visits to a private house for the purpose of searching.


[Page 247, line 2] Byron sang of when he wrote presumably Kipling was thinking of poems such as “Bride of Abydos”, “Don Juan”, by Lord Byron (right) (1788-1824), the celebrated Romantic poet, famous for his love-affairs.(ORG)



[Page 247, line 20] zemindar Raja a land-owning ruler, lower in rank than a Maharajah. Their land was usually cultivated by tenant farmers with ‘the big zemindars exerting over their tenants an authority akin to that once possessed by the English Lords of the Manor.’ (Impressions of an Indian Civil Servant, R.D. Macleod, London 1938, p.220.)

[Page 248, line 9] Haussmanns Baron Haussmann (1809-91) as Prefect of the Seine in 1853 under Napoleon III, cleared away much that was old and decaying in Paris. He rebuilt the district known as the Grands Boulevards, centred around Boulevard Haussmann, the wide street which bears his name.

[Page 249, line 2] kunchenee or Cunchunee in Hobson-Jobson, girls who dance and sing for the amusement of men.

[Page 249, line 16] chandoo-shops opium dens.

[Page 250, line 6] afim opium.

[Page 250, line 18] Nibban Nirvana. (See also Kim, chapter XV, page 407).(ORG)

[Page 251, line 5] lakh and a half of people 150,000 people.

[Page 251, line 31] bull’s eye a lantern (left) fitted with a bulging lens.



[Page 252, line 4] pan folded betel leaf containing lime and other ingredients for chewing.

[Page 252, line 18] mat loose-boxes a compartment with walls of matting, akin to the loose-boxes with half-doors used for stabling horses.


[Page 252, line 21] charpoy a traditional string-framed bed, seen all over India, within and without, for sleeping and sitting.







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