An Habitation Enforced

Notes on the text

These notes, edited by Alastair Wilson, are partly new, and partly based on the notes on this tale in the ORG. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Actions and Reactions, as published and frequently reprinted between 1909 and 1950.


[Heading] The story takes its title, and has a six line verse heading, from ‘An Habitation Enforced’, by Thomas Tusser (1524-1580), an Elizabethan writer, who is credited with many sayings which are still commonplace: “A fool and his money are soon parted”; “Christmas comes but once a year”; “Sweet April showers do bring May flowers”; and “February fill-the-dyke …”

The six lines, in fact, encapsulate the story, and may be rendered in 21st century English:

“My friend, if depression should bear on you, and cause you to leave your friends, and settle in the country, thank God for taking you to a healing place, and rest there and recover your sanity.”

Very recently (14 June 2012) Yan Shapiro, one of our members, has drawn our attention to an article in the New York Times of 5 August 1905, entitled ‘Kipling and Tusser’. The use of the indefinite article ‘An’ in the title of this story had evidently excited many Times readers to the extent that they were moved to write to the newspaper, criticising or supporting its use. The Times wrote a delightful article – what would, in Britain, in The Times of London have been a ‘fourth leader’ (a daily humorous editorial piece): we think it a delightful article, and although not directly relevant to our comprehension of Kipling’s tale, it can be read, with enjoyment, in the NYT archive.

[Page 3, line 2] the Holz and Gunsberg Combine a fictional New York firm which ‘he’, George Chapin, was about to drive out of business, or take over.

[Page 3, line 15] Chapin the ORG noted ‘pronounced Tshapin’, without quoting any source for such a statement. However, the name is English in derivation, though of French origin, and would usually be pronounced with the normal English hard ‘ch’, as in ‘Chaplain’, or ‘Charlie Chaplin’. Thus it will be seen that the protagonists are of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant stock.

[Page 3, line 17] Smilax a climbing species of asparagus, the top of which is often used to make a green accompaniment in wreaths and sprays of flowers: so he says his old rivals might as well have sent a wreath – as if for his funeral.

[Page 4, line 19] gipsies not to be taken literally: gipsies, sometimes known as Romanys, or Romanies, are a nomadic European ‘tribe’ and can be found in most European countries. In the era of horse transport they were well-known as horse-dealers. They are still to be found, but no longer do they travel in picturesque horse-drawn caravans, with a lurcher dog trotting under the front axle; they frequently have luxurious motorhomes, and deal in scrap metal. In this case it is the nomadic element which Kipling is using to describe the affluent globe-trotters who could be found in European hotels, Grand and not-so-grand, in the years shortly before World War I. Many, indeed probably most of them, would have been ‘of their own land’ – i.e., Americans.

[Page 4, line 19] the North Cape a popular tourist destination then as now; the northernmost point of Norway.

[Page 4, line 20] the Blue Grotto at Capri The island of Capri lies in the Bay of Naples, in Italy.

[Page 4, line 26] Nauheimed an invented past participle, of the equally invented verb ‘to Nauheim’, describing a person who has been sent to take the Cure at Bad Nauheim, a spa in Hessen, Germany, some 20 miles north of Frankfurt am Main. It was not normally a place at which railway magnates did business. Edwardian readers would have recognised the use of a place name in this way: in the South African war of 1899-1902, incompetent British generals were said to have been “stellenbosched” – sent to command the forces in the rear at Stellenbosch where they couldn’t do any harm.

[Page 5, line 5] San Moritz or St. Moritz, another popular resort; in south Switzerland.

[Page 5, line 9] Between four and five million dollars. At the rate of exchange in 1905 ($5 = £1 sterling, that would be £800,000 to £1,000,000). In today’s money (2006) that equates to some £72,000,000. So Chapin is rich, but not mega-rich.

[Page 5, line 25] Vienna (Wien); the capital of Austria: then the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Bayreuth in Bayern (Bavaria). A resort and the home of Wagner’s operas.
Florence Firenze, Italy; the home of Dante Alighieri, and of the Uffizi gallery, one of the finest art galleries in Europe.

[Page 5, line 26] Claridges still (2006) one of the best London hotels. In Brook Street, Mayfair.

[Page 5, lines 31-32] but I never get any further than tipping German waiters today, it would probably be a Portuguese waiter. Then as now, many of the lower-paid staff in hotels were foreign nationals, either there to gain experience in a superior hotel, or to get a job not available at home. Plus ça change ….

[Page 6, line 6] ’We hear and we obey’ Sophie is quoting (but changing to the plural) the acknowledgement made by the Slave of the Lamp in the Arabian Nights. This collection of Arabic folk tales, some of which originate from the 10th century AD, is the only collection of Arabic tales which has become popular in western culture. At the time of this story, many westerners would have known the tales through Sir Richard Burton’s translation. (Kipling did – cf. the two tales in Stalky & Co., “Slaves of the Lamp” Parts I and II.) In fact, the phrase, in the plural, is taken from the Koran – but Sophie would not have known that.

[Page 6, line12] she drove them into that wilderness Not to be taken literally. This is an echo of Mark 1,12: “the spirit driveth him into the wilderness”, and may be considered, perhaps, as a parallel. Jesus spent “forty days and forty nights” in the wilderness collecting his thoughts (to put it simply) before starting his ministry. Kipling may be using the phrase to imply that that was what George Chapin might (at a lower level) do with his time. A simpler phrase would have been ‘she persuaded them to go and stay in the country’.

[Page 6, line 13] an ash-barrel of a station called Charing Cross Charing Cross railway station, now as then, serves all of south east England – the county of Kent in its entirety, most of East Sussex, parts of East Surrey (and with a wandering branch line which made a loop south and west to Reading, in Berkshire). It was the station to which Kipling himself came when he travelled to London by train. He was familiar with it, because when he first came to London in 1889, he took lodgings in Villiers Street, which lies in the shadow of the station on its north-east side.

The use of the phrase ‘ash-barrel’ provides another example of an Americanism, put in because the tale was written primarily for an American readership. At that time, Charing Cross had a trainshed with a long semi-circular roof, so that it might be likened to half a barrel lying on its side. (That roof collapsed fairly spectacularly one day in 1905, and was replaced with a flat ridge-and-furrow roof: today, a shopping centre has been built over it, with a big semi-circular roof as a pastiche of the roof which fell in 1905.) But the word ‘ash-barrel’ is lifted from Mark Twain’s The American Claimant, where it is used to describe a street refuse bin, such as might have been found in American municipalities of the period.

The ORG said: It is not at all a bad station today (1970) but it must have been a grimy place in his (Kipling’s) day. He said there were three or four places in the world where if you waited long enough you would be sure to see everyone you had ever known (or words to that effect)

This was indeed true when this story was written, because the boat trains for the continent left from Charing Cross in those days (they haven’t done so since about 1924). Not only did that mean that anyone going to nearer Europe went via Charing Cross.but so you might go if you were going to Russia, or the Far or Middle East: similarly, Anglo-Indians returning for leave or back to India would travel that way, taking the train through France to Marseilles or to Brindisi in Italy, to take a boat thence to Port Said, joining their P&O there, saving a full week on their four week journey, and avoiding the possibility/probability of an unpleasant crossing of the Bay of Biscay.

This paragraph gives us clues as to the setting of the tale: Kipling tells us they are going to: ‘… Rocketts – the farm of one Cloke, in the southern counties’. As said above, Charing Cross was Kipling’s London station, and it is a not unreasonable assumption that he had his home area in his mind. Later clues suggest East Sussex, rather than Kent (Kipling’s home was only about six miles from the county boundary).

[Page 7, line 3] the hack – cabman Sophie is trying to speak English English, as opposed to American English, now that she is among the English. In New York a cab-driver would be called a ‘hackie’ (short for hackney-cab driver).

[Page 7, line 4] ‘quite on the top’ (Sophie), and [Page 7, line 6] ‘a little bit of all right’ (George). This is an interesting exchange. Clearly, Sophie is full of approbation for what she can see and smell, and is delighted, and wants to say so in English idiom: but the phrase she uses is incorrect, and, in any case, makes little sense in the context of her trunk. George has picked up the correct expression: ‘a little bit of all right’: a cockney phrase indicating a general satisfaction with life at that moment (also used, approvingly, of an attractive young woman).

So, what was said at the station last night while Sophie’s trunk was being put on to the cab? It probably wasn’t approving, since steamer trunks were awkward and heavy: the porter probably said something along the lines of ‘this will have to go on the top’ (their cab would have been a four-wheeler, and the only place for luggage was on the roof, or on the box-seat alongside the cabman, though a couple of Gladstone bags could go inside with the passengers). Why Sophie should have thought that what she heard, or misheard, was said in approbation is not quite clear. And similarly, it is not clear – in the context of Sophie’s trunk – why anyone should have made reference to ‘a little bit of all right’; unless it was that either the cabman or the porter were passing remarks on Sophie’s appearance.

It would be interesting to see Kipling’s original draft, to see if he had cut out words which might have made the exchange clearer. However all that may be, the end result is clear: Sophie and George are delighted with their impressions of the Sussex countryside.

The ORG suggested that Sophie’s remark might have been prompted by the words of a music-hall song of the period which she might have heard (and which Kipling would have known), entitled “A little bit off the top”. But that too makes no sense: the words are not relevant, either to her trunk, not to her general sense of well-being.

[Page 7, line 22] three-mile radius the official Post Office Guide (up to 1967) refers to delivery of telegrams as follows:

There is no charge for delivery within a town postal area or within three miles of the telegraph office nearest to the address. Beyond that limit of free delivery a porterage charge is due in respect of all messages delivered by messenger.

The inland telegram service was discontinued in 1982: the near universality of the telephone and the fax had rendered it obsolete: now, some 25 years later in the era of the personal mobile telephone and text messaging, it really does seem like another era. But from the 1850s, when the service became a government monopoly, run by the Post Office, for over a century it was the fastest means of transmitting messages with certainty: by 1900 it was worldwide in extent. The telegraph boy on his bicycle was a familiar sight both in towns and the country. At the turn of the 19th century, the service was used much as one might send a text message, or for business transactions which might be faxed or e-mailed today.

[Page 7, line 30] half-timbered house In northern Europe particularly, where timber for building was freely available, buildings of all sorts, but domestic housing in particular, were made with a heavy timber frame, infilled with other materials, or planked with weatherboarding: in early days, prior to 1500 in England, the infill might have been ‘wattle and daub’ (sticks from the hedgerows woven together, infilled with clay).

Later, a more sophisticated form of plaster infilling was used, and slightly later still, the framework was filled with brickwork, sometimes plastered over, but sometimes left bare in most attractive decorative patterns. In southern England, the Weald, stretching from the middle of Kent to western Sussex, originally a heavily wooded area, was particularly full of this style of house. In Kent, they tended to be weather-boarded, while further west the outer face was often hung with clay tiles.

[Page 7, line 32] the Vale of Avalon a mythical place from the legends of King Arthur, where life was pleasant.

[Page 8, line 2] Rambler as well here as anywhere else; Kipling’s love of dogs is apparent. Rambler is one of 70 dogs and hounds mentioned in the prose stories by name.

[Page 8, line 9] rabbit-mined the ORG noted in 1970 that the rabbit might become extinct in England, owing to the incidence of myxomatosis: this has not happened, and the rabbit remains a pest, though undoubtedly not so much of a one as it was prior to the deliberate introduction of the disease in about 1954. At the time this tale was written, on neglected land, rabbits would breed – like rabbits – and would soon reduce any green growth to a brown level sward. Most farmers were happy for their men to trap and kill rabbits, which provided meat for their families.

[Page 8, line 11] white tails the under-side of the bob-tail (or ‘scut’) of the wild rabbit is white.

[Page 8, line 12] a hawk rose, whistling shrilly interesting, for there are only three British Hawks that whistle: the Hobby, Kite and Honey Buzzard. The first two are uncommon, and the third quite rare. It emphasises the quietness of this bit of country.

It may be noted that Morris’s British Birds, dated 1891, records that the Hobby was a summer visitor, and had been noted, in Sussex, ‘near Battle, Pevensey, Lewes’, all three places in Kipling’s part of Sussex. Morris records that the Honey Buzzard was more frequent in Sussex than the Kite: indeed the Kite, Morris reports, had not been seen in Sussex for ten years. So Kipling was almost certainly being ornithologically correct in his description of Sophie and George’s walk to find Pardons village.

[Page 8, line 20] lucerne a clover-like plant, used as fodder.

[Page 8, line 21] fallow un-sown land being rested for one season – possibly unploughed. This was part of the normal rotation of farming at that time, allowing the land to ‘rest’ before another cycle of cropping. Its effect on the countryside’s appearance was akin to that imposed by the current ‘set-aside’ imposed by the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), except that most farmers would control the weed on their fallow land, something virtually forbidden by the CAP.

[Page 8, line 22] kelk this word is the dialect singular of the (normal) plural kex – the dry hollow stems of such plants as cow parsnip (also known as cow parsley) and wild chervil.

[Page 8, line 23] swaths (also swathes) normally this word means the grass cut by a single stroke of the scythe, or one passage of the mower. Here it means long heaps. The suggestion must be that in some recent year past, the field has been mown, but the hay neither made nor carried; the next year’s growth has then grown though it.

[Page 8, line 25] glistened with sweat an interesting metaphor. The reference must be to the early morning dew. This editor would suggest that this is one of Kipling’s less felicitous phrases: sweat comes with heat, but the dew disappears with the coming of the sun’s heat.

Martha McGhee-Glisson, writng from Georgia in the United States, has suggested an alternative interpretation for “the early morning dew”, pointing out that in a neglected meadow where mown grass has been allowed to lie (exactly as Kipling describes), then the natural moisture or the result of rain can appear as surface ‘dew’ when the swaths of grass and other stuff are kicked over (again, exactly as Kipling describes – ‘In the ungrazed pastures swaths of dead stuff caught their feet, and the ground beneath glistened with sweat.’)

[Page 8, line 31] All this within a hundred miles of London George Chapin is understating his case – all this part of East Sussex or Kent is less than 50 miles from London. But perhaps, as an American, accustomed to greater distances, he would not have thought in units of less than 100 miles.

[Page 9, line 4] holm-oaks the evergreen oak (quercus ilex). Its foliage resembles that of holly, without the spines on the leaves.

[Page 9, line 6] a colonial house In America, colonial architecture, in strict terms, includes French, Spanish and Dutch colonial types, as well as the English colonial; and it includes smaller, vernacular, buildings built in brick or timber, as well as the patrician buildings of the plantocracy of the southern states. That said, the archetypal colonial house was symmetrical, with an even number of windows on each side of the central door, owing much to the Palladian design books exported from England in the first half of the 18th century. There are plenty of such houses built of brick. Sophie’s description of her first sight of Pardons seems perfectly fair.

[Page 9, line 8] Georgian Pile Architecturally, in 1905 as in 2006, the ‘Georgian’ period is seen as covering the years from approximately 1725 to 1800. Before 1725, the style was largely ‘Queen Anne’ (1702-1714), while after 1800 it metamorphosed into ‘Regency’. In so far as the house was clearly built before 1800 (as is clearly implied on page 29), it was undoubtedly ‘Georgian’.

[Page 9, line 12] four startled magpies John McGivering asks: four for a birth ? Kipling rarely included such a detail unless it had some significance: we suggest that he was recalling the old country saw which is variously rendered:

One for sorrow, two for mirth
Three for a wedding, and four for a birth…

One for sorrow, two for joy,
Three for a girl, four for a boy…

He was perhaps giving us a clue . . .?

[Page 9, line 14] long windows another interesting turn of phrase: most people would say, it is suggested, ‘tall windows’. ‘Georgian’ window frames were usually square (in the upper stories) and tall (i.e., rectangular, with the long axis vertical) in the lower. But then, we usually refer to a tall mirror as a ‘long glass’, or ‘long mirror’.

[Page 9, line 17] We began here later we find that one at least of Sophie’s ancestors came from this part of England.

[Page 9, line 19] lights windows.

[Page 9, line 31] an ancient of days Biblical recollection from Daniel, 7,9. More of our readers are likely to recollect it as a line from the Hymn “Immortal, invisible, God only wise” by Walter C. Smith, first published in 1876.

[Page 9, line 32 ephod strictly this was a Jewish priest’s garment, usually gathered or stitched with small pleats as ornamentation. The ‘ancient of days’ was in fact wearing an ordinary farmhand’s smock, still worn commonly in the countryside until World War 1, though by that date it was largely only the older men who wore it. It was much like an ephod, but Sophie would not have seen a smock before. However, coming from New York, even though she was a Unitarian (see page 19), she might well have known what a Jewish priest’s ephod looked like.

[Page 10, line 6] swill-pail pigs were commonly fed on swill, household scraps which would all have been mixed up with barley-meal and water, or skimmed milk, in a pail.

[Page 10, line 7] runagate vagabond or renegade. Not an unusual dialect word in some country districts at the beginning of the century.

[Page 10, line 19] Adams Sophie was not quite correct – the name was Adam. William Adam and four sons, all architects: James, John, Robert and William – working from 1726 to about 1800 – were originally based in Edinburgh, but much of their work was done in London and also in many other parts of Great Britain. Much of it is still extant (1967) and treasured. The same remains true in 2006.

Kipling quite frequently and deliberately makes his characters commit solecisms (cf. page 7, line 4, above). Unfortunately for him, well-meaning readers would write to him, pointing out the ‘error of his ways’. One example is cited by Professor Pinney, in Vol. 4 of The Letters of Rudyard Kipling at p. 209. We only see one half of the correspondence, but Kipling’s letter is a masterly example of how to say “yes, you pedantic fellow, you are right, but I did it for a very good reason, and I’m not going to change it” (unwritten, “so yah, boo to you!”).

[Page 10, line 24] first or ground floor In England one speaks of the ground floor: in America the same floor is the first floor. In England, the floor above the ground floor is the first floor: in America it is the second floor. Since the story was written for an American readership, one wonders did Kipling insert the words ‘or ground’ between the story’s original American magazine appearance and the Macmillan Standard Edition of 1909?

[Page 11, line 2] mantelpiece the Orpheus and Eurydice design, from the classical myth involving Orpheus and his wife Eurydice, was not unusual for the Adam’s artists.

[Page 11, line 7] Heppelwhite George Heppelwhite (1727?-1786). He was a famous furniture designer and maker. His period followed that of Thomas Chippendale, although Chippendale lived almost as late as Heppelwhite. The latter’s distinguishing characteristic is the delicacy of the curve of his chair backs.

[Page 11, line 12] Constable John Constable (1776-1837), the famous Suffolk landscape painter.

[Page 11, line 14] Morland George Morland (1763-1804) Born in London, he painted landscapes and genre subjects, especially domestic scenes. Over 400 of his paintings have been engraved by some 75 different engravers.

[Page 11, line 16] Empire the reference is to the style of furniture and ladies’ dress introduced from France during the time of the First Empire (1804-1814).

[Page 11, line 18] It’s a pity they don’t make spinets nowadays Sophie is a little bit out in her timing here if she wishes to furnish her dream house in the style of the late 18th/early 19th century. A spinet was a keyboard musical instrument of a century earlier. For her house, the latest fashion would have been for a square piano, such as Mr. Broadwood made.

[Page 11, line 21] played toccatas … Sophie is quoting a line from “A Toccata of Galuppi’s”, a poem by Robert Browning, from Men and Women, first published in 1855.

[Page 11, line 26] powdering-closets in the mid-Georgian era, gentlemen wore powder on their wigs, and ladies frequently dressed their hair with powder. Putting powder on one’s hair made a mess, and so a separate small room, little bigger than a cupboard, was incorporated alongside the gentleman’s or lady’s bedroom where this messy process could be carried out (before putting on ones coat or overdress).

[Page 11, line 28] chased engraved.

[Page 12, line 3] drive a buggy an American friend wrote: ‘An American would more probably have said – ‘drive a horse and buggy’ ‘.

[Page 12, line 10] housen an ancient form of the plural of ‘house’.

[Page 12, line 12] they was minded they had it in mind to.

[Page 12, line 13] She was too far away .. This was in the days before the motor car, and the implication is that the house was too far away from a railway station. Kipling found the same thing when buying ‘Bateman’s’. See Something of Myself, page 179, lines 5-15.

It is an interesting and general observation that the railway had become indispensable to country living in the 50-55 years that had elapsed since its general introduction over the length and breadth of England. Yet when Pardons had been built, the railway had nor been thought of: the estate and its people would have been self-sufficient.

[Page 12, line 18] ricks a hay-rick, or straw rick: another word for a stack of hay, corn, or straw. No longer seen in British fields or farmyards, the ubiquitous bale, cylindrical or rectangular, having taken its place. Making a rick or stack so that it was stable, water-resistant, and not likely to heat spontaneously was a skill, not to be despised.

[Page 12, line 20] They was no staple … shart (short): staple refers to the length of woollen fibres (and of other similar materials, such as cotton, hemp, flax, sisal, etc.). So the Elphicks and Moones were short-lived.

[Page 13, line 10] well-curb the low wall of stone or brick surrounding the top of the well, with the windlass for raising buckets of water over it.

[Page 13, line 17] house-leeked the house leek is a weed which grows on the … side of roofs. It has pink flowers (sempervivum testorum).

[Page 13, line 23] crater Trust Kipling to find the the mot juste: it may be suggested that the normal association for this word is for a volcano, active or dormant, or for the hole created by a bomb or mine: but here we know that the scale is slightly larger. To reach Pardons from Rocketts, they have descended into the valley, and climbed the other side, now they are returning by the same route, over the derelict pastures: the effect is of a giant crater.

[Page 13, line 32] Pompeii The city in Italy, on the Bay of Naples, entirely destroyed by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Since its excavation in the 18th century it has become a show-place for visitors.

[Page 14, line 1] Eight hundred acres the acre was (and despite official metrication very largely remains) the standard imperial unit of land measurement. It is 4840 square yards, and so is directly related to the furlong (220 yards) and the mile (eight furlongs, 1760 yards). There are 640 acres to one square mile. So the estate is not very big, with each farm averaging no more than 160 acres. This would probably have been about the average farm size around Bateman’s and Burwash in those days. East Sussex may be described as ‘small, enclosed country’, and farms would not usually extend out of their own valley.

[Page 14, line 22] Iggulden There are many place names and surnames in Sussex, ending in ‘-den’, particularly in East Sussex, and over into Kent – within three miles of Burwash there are Mottynsden, Hawksden, Haselden. Similarly with names. Parish’s Dictionary of Sussex Dialect (Lewes, 1875) gives about 20 such names. Iggulden is not one of them, but Hobden (see the poem “The Land”, in A Diversity of Creatures) appears in the list.

[Page 14, line 32] pothook an iron hook suspended over an open fire with a crook on which hung a pot or kettle. Sophie is clearly sitting inside the inglenook of an open fireplace. In old Sussex farmhouses (as elsewhere), the fireplace would frequently be over six feet wide (almost two metres) and your favoured guest sat inside the fireplace. Such houses were draughty (this editor’s home was one such, sixty years ago). Timbers had warped with age, and the fit of doors and casements tended to be hit or miss – with more miss than hit. So one sat close round the fire for warmth – and light. In the tale, it may have been summer, but the fire would have been burning night and day, because it was the cooking fire for the household (though Mrs. Cloke did have an oven (see page 27) which may merely have been the bread oven).

[Page 15, line 2-3] People don’t matter compared to the places they live in George is beginning to understand what made England tick in the years before the industrial revolution. Land was wealth and wealth was land. So one did make sacrifices for it (see line 7 below). But, as Roger Lancelyn Green said (see the headnote), that was all coming to an end. The social changes were one pressure for change, but the others were economic. British farming had suffered a most severe depression throughout the 1880s, and land no longer made money for the landlord; rather the reverse (unless one owned large chunks of central London, for example).

[Page 15, line 4] Moloch A Canaanite idol to whom children were sacrificed. See the Old Testament, Amos, 5,26: also the New Testament, Acts, 7,47.

[Page 15, line 22] covering the fire Some old houses had a fireplate to put over the fire for the night, but here it almost certainly means that the fire was covered with small coal and ashes to prevent it from burning up and yet to keep it lit all night. With a wood fire there was no need to cover the fire: the pile of ash, a week’s worth or more, retained sufficient heat to be revived in the morning with small kindling laid straight on last night’s ashes. So the Cloke’s kitchen fire burned coal, and would have been contained in an iron fire basket.

[Page 16, line 17] peg-tops a child’s toy: pear-shaped wooden spinning-tops with an iron spill or peg forming the stem. They were spun by the rapid unwinding of string wound around the top itself.

[Page 17, line 19] One must take hold of things though George has experienced a stirring of interest in the place. He is feeling very much better mentally and physically (see line 14 above), and wants something to keep himself busy.

[Page 17, line 23] Lay out a Morristown links over Gale Anstey Morristown is an attractive town in northern New Jersey where there is a famous golf course. This would certainly have set the locals talking in east Sussex had he done so. Even today, there are only about ten golf clubs and courses in what one may loosely call ‘Kipling country’ – from Lewes east to the county boundary with Kent.

[Page 17, line 26] Cloke says all the farms could be made to pay George sees that running the estate would be just like running any business – or so he thinks.

[Page 17, line 28] Anastasia Anastasia is Madame Desprez, heroine of The Treasure of Franchard by Robert Louis Stevenson (collected in The Merry Men and Other Tales, 1887). There is a page of description of her at the beginning of Chap. III and in Chapter IV:

‘she too had the very picture of luxurious and appetising ease. I am afraid she was greatly an animal, but she was a very nice animal to have about.’


[Page 18, line 13] Castle in Spain i.e., a dream for the future. This phrase must have been known to British people from very early times for Chaucer (1328-1400) in Romaunt (Romance) of the Rose wrote: ‘Thou shalt make castels than in Spain’.

[Page 18, line17] ground-ash an ash sapling. They make splendid walking sticks for the country lanes and fields.

[Page 18, line 25] a thistle-spud a long-handled farm implement, used by hand-workers when weeding crops in fields. It had a forked end, often with a small metal curl some 4-6 inches from the end. The forked end was plunged into the earth to surround the stem of the weed, and the weed was levered out using the metal curl as a fulcrum.

[Page 19, line 1] She held her ground … One did not leave one’s dead alone.

[Page 19, line 17] Unitarian one who affirms the unipersonality of the Godhead as distinct from the orthodox Trinitarian (in three parts – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost), whose doctrine is that of the Church of England.

[Page 19, line 22] Heart-failure the old man’s death was natural – a blocked coronary artery.

[Page 20, line 8] ellum branches after the elm tree reaches a certain age it is subject to a disease which makes it liable suddenly to drop a limb without any warning. This is not the same as ‘Dutch Elm Disease’ which, since the ORG was written, has destroyed very nearly all the elm trees in England, greatly spoiling the appearance of the countryside.

[Page 20, line 30] Marconi’s Marconi’s first commercial wireless telegraph service began in 1903. Marconi (1874-1937) himself was of mixed Italian-Irish parentage, and later was made an Italian Marquis (Marchese). He was not the inventor of radio, but was the first developer of practical radio.

[Page 21, line 20] road-master this was a regional term confined to New England, denoting a public overseer of repairs of roads. Usually he was elected at a town meeting and received no pay if he was master for one small town (village) only.

[Page 22, line 8-9] been out with the otter-hounds in Great Britain and Ireland the indigenous Eurasian Otter, which lives near inland rivers, has long been hunted. (This is not the same species as the Sea Otter.) It was hunted because it interfered with fisheries and, so it was alleged, poultry as well. Hunting otters has been banned in Great Britain and Ireland for more than 15 years.

[Page 22, line 20] parcel this is an old but correct use of the word – meaning ‘a small group’.

[Page 22, line 29] marches with Pardons borders on – in the same sense as the ancient phrase ‘the Welsh Marches’ described the lands immediately on each side of the Wales-England border.

[Page 22, line 29 to page 23, line 9] This paragraph reflects accurately the attitude of patriarchal responsibility (‘people who do their duty’ (page 23, line 6) taken by many English landowners towards their tenants. As the reader is about to find out, this formidable lady is the wife of a neighbouring squire, and feels that if Pardons had been her responsibility, old Iggulden would not have been allowed to die alone and uncared for (though there has been no suggestion that the old man would have thanked her for her solicitude). See also page 30, line 27.

[Page 23, line 29] Laughter … is the mark of the savage see Ecclesiastes 7,6 and the following from Lord Chesterfield’s (1694-1773) Advice to his Son – Graces:

‘There is nothing so illiberal or illbred as audible laughter.’


[Page 24, line 26] a leading Guidance from above.

[Pages 24-26, 35, 38, 44-45] Notice how, in all these stages of the story, George is hanging back from committing himself permanently. Sophie never does. Gradually his saving-clauses grow weaker until his final capitulation in the last words of the story: ‘We can’t get out of it.’

[Page 25, lines 1-2] seventy-five thousand dollars. They’ll take sixty eight: The asking price was £15,000, but the ‘London solicitors’ will take £13,600. This was surely a small sum for Friars Pardon with the Home Farm and the other four: Rocketts (Cloke), Gale Anstey, Burnt House, and Griffons, altogether 800 acres which presumably includes the woods: and we know of at least two farm houses – probably there would have been four houses. At the mansion, however, all the buildings and some of those in the Home Farm were in a bad state so even in the first decade of the 20th century it would have cost another £5,000 or more to put the whole estate in good order – still cheap at £18,500.

Thus the ORG: but R.F. Delderfield, in the novel cited above (see the headnote) has his hero, back from the South African war in 1902-3, buy his estate, similarly run down but quite a lot larger, in east Devon, for £13,000. Kipling paid £9,300 for Bateman’s and only 33 acres. Compared to that, the Chapin’s purchase was cheap; but the farms probably produced little revenue.

In “My Son’s Wife” in A Diversity of Creatures, the notional income of Midmore’s inheritance, £400 a year, turns out to be only £284 when all the taxes and outgoings are considered); and the solicitors were only too happy to dispose of what had become an encumbrance. Pardons was, I effect, going in a ‘fire sale’, and the price reflected this.

[Page 25, line 14] in a fortnight or three weeks The late Mr. Hazard Snr wrote:

I cannot believe he would have taken ‘fortnight’ into his vocabulary in so short a time but perhaps he was quoting the exact words of a letter received by him that morning in his ‘mail’ (page 17, line 32), presumably from either the London solicitors acting for the Trustees of the Pardons estates or from a firm he had seen in London who could be acting for him.

The late Mr. W.H. Hazard wrote me from several places in America. It is not easy to identify him exactly as he travelled a great deal and his letters to this editor were all written after his retirement. (ORG Ed.)

An American member of the Society (Peter Havholm) has confirmed in 2006 that what Mr. Hazard wrote in the 1960s still remains true.

[Page 26, line 20] little orphans moving in worlds not realised This echoes Wordsworth’s ode “Intimations of Mortality” verse 9 line 17:

Blank misgivings of a Creature
Moving about in worlds not realised…

[Page 27, line 2] the joke which to an American means work The ORG editor commented: I think I understand this now, but some years ago I asked Mr. Hazard about this, and he replied:

… I find this remark very cryptic, because I do not understand why R.K. used the word “joke”. The Chapins did not buy the place for a joke (according to my understanding of that term; a “wheeze” I guess you would call it.), they bought it because they became very fond of the place and felt the urge to restore it to what it had been and then to sample life in it. Of course, that meant work, fascinating work, a labour of love, and would have done so to an Englishman under the same circumstances. I think R.K. makes one feel very keenly the attraction and affection. So I am somewhat at sea about this. As to the general statement I suppose he means that an American would not find much fun in anything unless he put effort into it, but is this not universal?

This did not help much but see page 44, line 23: ‘we bought it for fun”.

It may be suggested that Kipling is making an oblique reference to the fact that the English were/are reputed not to take their work seriously (outwardly, anyway): any success that one might have was put down to “a fluke”, and apparent set-backs are treated lightly, even flippantly (the cult of the “gifted amateur”). Americans, on the other hand, are thought to take their work in earnest, at all times. (Although this will be an ephemeral reference, the current cartoon strip by ‘Alex’ in the Business Section of the Daily Telegraph has one such archetypal American, ‘Cyrus’.)

[Page 27, line 23] faller-deer fallow-deer, a species smaller than the red-deer; the former is also named after its colour, pale brownish or reddish-yellow, the colour of uncultivated fields at the end of the year.

[Page 27, line 30-31] the gentry, o’ course, they keep on pretty much as they was used to. Cloke is being quite outspoken: after all, the Chapins are going to be his landlords, and despite the Sussex peasant’s reputation for standing up to his landlord (cf, Sydney, in My Son’s Wife, and ‘Norman and Saxon’, in

A History of England

), it doesn’t do to get on the wrong side of him on the first day of the new tenancy. But Cloke is concerned about his livelihood and his home, where, quite possibly, several generations of Clokes have lived (‘His dead are in the churchyard, thirty generations laid” – “The Land”, in A Diversity of Creatures). And he is perhaps presuming on a month’s close acquaintance with the Chapins in a domestic environment.

[Page 28, first paragraph.] It may be suggested that the same attitude still remains today – except that it is media tycoons, pop stars and millionaires who have bought their way into country-house living. Most, however, make no great effort to farm the land.

[Page 28, line 20] a room of a pew and [line 22] This … is the Pardons’ pew In the 21st century, most Anglican churches in Great Britain still retain pews for the congregation; long settles (benches (sometimes cushioned) with a back). The back has on its reverse, for the benefit of the pew behind, a shelf on which one can dispose prayer books, hymnals, etc. But some churches still retain some box-pews, which were rectangular enclosures with benches round the sides, large enough to contain a whole household. Sometimes the sides were so high that the occupants could not be seen, though not so high that the occupants could not see the preacher in the pulpit. (It did mean, though, that the squire could enjoy an uninterrupted doze without being observed, if the preacher was too prolix.) And some pews would be reserved for a particular house, usually on payment of a small annual ‘pew-rent’.

[Page 28, line28] When the wicked man turneth away This is the first of the Sentences from the Scriptures which the Book of Common Prayer enjoins the Minister to read “with a loud voice”, at the start of the order for Morning Prayer.

[Page 28, lines 32-33] unfamiliar as Sophie was a Unitarian she was accustomed to a different service altogether. And the Episcopalian prayer Book used in the U.S.A. has itself several differences from that of the Church of England. For example, in the Litany the English Prayer Book has Which art in Heaven, while the USA Prayer Book has Who art in Heaven .

However, today in England, most churches use the 1928 revision of the Book of Common Prayer, which uses “who” (except for the compiler of these notes, who says “which”, in a deliberately loud voice!)
(Again, an irrelevance, but readers who recall seeing the successful film (2003) Master and Commander – the Far Side of the World may have missed one of the few anachronisms in an otherwise meticulously researched film: near the end of the film, when they are burying the dead after their sea-fight, and are reciting the Lord’s Prayer, they use the American, or post-1928, “who”, which most certainly would not have been so in the Royal Navy in 1808 !).

[Page 29, line 11] footless bird: a woman does not use a crest, as distinct from the family ‘arms’ on a lozenge and a footless bird, heraldically a martlet (martin) is an obvious crest when mentioned alone here. [It also points to the place being, in Kipling’s imagination, in Sussex – the martlet is the badge of the County of Sussex.] It was on a mural (wall) tablet to a deceased Lashmar. Kipling keeps that quite distinct from Ellen Lashmar’s flagstone memorial in the pew [line 20]


[Page 29, line 20] Lashmar: There is a small place, Lashmars Hall, on the west side of the village of Henfield, in mid-Sussex: it is 12 miles from Brighton and 15 from Rottingdean – where Kipling lived 1897-1902.

[Page 29, line 30] All women labouring of child – in the perils of childbirth: Martha McGhee-Glisson points out that the first of these two is from one of the supplications in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, 1662 version, while the second, although having a similar meaning, is taken from the Episcopal prayer book of 1789, as revised 1871.

Kipling cannot be acquitted of a careless slip for when Sophie holds her husband’s hand and they prayed for ‘all women labouring of child’, surely that can only mean that they knew at that time that a child was on the way. It is a pleasant way of telling the reader about it, and yet months later the fact is discovered and neither she nor her husband knew anything about it.

To the ORG Editor: that interpretation is quite wrong – indeed would tend to spoil the story. The Chapins are in the Pardons’ pew for the first time and may well have prayed for a child but there is no evidence that she was with child at the time.

There is also the matter of timing. The Chapins evidently went to Rocketts in late summer or early autumn (there was still a smell of box and lavender (page 6, line 31), but they had arrived, at presumably a reasonably early hour, in darkness, which suggests a date in September). Iggulden’s death occurred after they had been 34 days at Pardons (page 17, line 8); say no later than 31 October. Their purchase was concluded in mid-November (a fortnight to three weeks after Iggulden’s death) and their first Sunday in the Pardons’ pew would have been, say 14th November. It was at least four months after that that Sophie found she was pregnant (page 35, line 29, and page 38, line 13/14); so, unless she was particularly naïve (not impossible, of course, but unlikely) it seems improbable that she was pregnant on that first Sunday back in November.

What does seem more likely to this editor, writing in 2006, is that they (particularly Sophie, who was clearly affected by the sense of belonging to the place) wished for a child, and were trying to conceive one. That alone might account for the significance of the hand-holding, and is, as Mr. Hazard said over 40 years ago, a pleasant way of telling the reader about it. If that is so, it is another example of Kipling’s subtlety.

[Page 30, line 27) Then that child looks as though it’s coming down with mumps: such a scene is in the highest degree unlikely to be repeated in England today, or if it were, the remark would have been more tactfully phrased. But as said above (pages 22 and 23), it is illustrative of an attitude of responsibility for one’s tenants which still existed then, which Roger Lancelyn-Green (see the headnote) correctly said was passing.

[Page 31, line 12] I don’t use the horses on Sunday This means ‘I haven’t got the carriage out to come to church’:. This would have been partly out of consideration for the horses and the coachman – it was Sunday for them – and partly a memory of the puritan ethos which said that no work should be done on the Sabbath. But I suspect that the pragmatic Lady Conant would have had a closed carriage out if it had been raining.

[Page 31, line 21] left the Shires in general, any area north of the Thames: more particularly, ‘the Shires’ is usually taken to refer to the midland counties of Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, and is often used with reference to fox-hunting.

[Page 31, line 27] drawing your water: hunting (with the landowner’s permission) along the banks of the streams of the Pardons’ estate.

[Page 32, line 2] address her husband lightly as Chapin this would have been conventional usage at the time, of equal speaking to (social) equal. It would have required far longer acquaintance before first names were exchanged.

[Page 32, line 4] habitually addressed their husbands as Mr. Mr. Hazard wrote:

The custom goes back a good many years. Sophie was born in about 1876. I was born in 1891 and I never heard one of my own (or neighbouring) generation do this and I recall only one lady in my parents’ generation who actually spoke to her husband as ‘Mr.’.

[Page 32, line 15] Providence and the Guitar by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894). A short story first published in 1878 and collected as the last story in New Arabian Nights in 1882. In Chapter III the commissary cursed the travelling musicians out of his window:

Although he was known for a man who was prompt with his tongue and had a power of strong expression at command, he excelled himself so remarkably this night that one maiden lady who got out of bed to be with the rest to hear the serenade was obliged to shut her window at the second clause. Even what she heard disquieted her conscience, and next day she said she scarcely reckoned as a maiden lady any longer.

Kipling explained this reference to Louis Fabulet in a letter dated 14 November 1910 (Pinney, Letters, Vol 3, (p.462). Fabulet was then translating An Habitation Enforced into French. Kipling wrote:

The Commissaire of a French village, being awakened by some wandering players, puts his head out of the window and swears at them so horribly that an old maid hearing the language scarcely considered herself to be a virgin afterwards. Lady Conant has been talking to Mrs Chapin so explicitly about maternity and midwives and English villages that Mrs. Chapin (who then had never borne a child) considered herself almost as a mother. That is the intention of the anecdote. It is of course the exaggerated allusive talk of a wife speaking to her husband.
Pinney adds in a footnote that Fabulet’s translation appeared as Actions et Réactions, Paris, 1911.)

[Page 33, lines 2-3] Sir Walter’s birds game-birds; pheasants and possibly partridges.

[Page 33, line 5] exploded shooting folk will recognise this as a good word for a pheasant taking off from the ground when frightened.

[Page 33, line 21] the hanger a wood, usually on the side of a hill. A particularly well-known set of Hangers are those at Selborne, in Hampshire, which feature in Gilbert White’s (1720-1793) The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne.

[Page 33, line 28] those cow-tracks we’ve been using cross lots ‘those footpaths we’ve been using across the fields’. The question of public footpaths and the maintenance of old rights of way can still raise local hackles in 2006.

[Page 34, lines 3-6] This is another expression of the sentiment for ‘The Land’ by a countryman. At a more practical level readers are recommended to the works of the late Arthur Street (A.G. Street), farmer, author and broadcaster (1892-1966); in particular, to Farmers Glory and The Gentleman of the Party.

[Page 35, line 16] But five years is a long time to look ahead George is being made to realise that in the country five years is a relatively short time for things that matter.

[Page 35, line 18] throwed to ‘throw’ is the same as to ‘fell’.

[Page 36, line 1] scraper predecessor of the bulldozer: an angled blade, drawn by draught horses, to level the surface of a gravel road.

[Page 36, line 2] the carter the carter was the farm servant who was responsible for the horses and their use. A big farm would have a head carter and several under-carters, each of whom was responsible for a pair of horses. Their primary job would have been ploughing and all cultivations, but carting and general transport of course was included. The head carter was a man of considerable responsibility on a farm.

[Page 36, line 4] horses these two were named after the two British Cs-in-C in the South African War of 1899-1902]:

  • General Sir Redvers Buller, V.C., G.C.B., G.C.M.G. (1839-1908) who won the Victoria Cross in the Zulu War of 1879. He commanded from the outbreak of war until November 1900 when he was succeeded by
  • Field-Marshal Lord Roberts, V.C., K.G., K.P., G.C.B., O.M., G.C.S.I., P.C., etc (“Bobs”) who was created Earl Roberts in 1901. He died in 1914, aged 82. He won the V.C. during the Indian Mutiny.


[Page 36, line 11] accommodation roads at this time the roads of England were comparatively neglected, and were used only for the most local of traffic, the railway serving for all long-distance traffic. Public roads were usually gravel or water-bound macadam, in varying degrees of repair, while ‘accommodation roads’, such as farm lanes, would be hard-packed earth or, sometimes, gravel.

[Page 37, line 11] Toot Hill … Crayford lot: see above, notes on page 29, line 20. The names are fictitious.

[Page 37, line 13] wildishers: The ORG suggests that this is a Sussex dialect word, referring to natives of the open country. However, this editor takes a different view.
Parish’s Dictionary of Sussex Dialect (Farncombe, Lewes 1875) says that the ‘wild’ (with a short ‘i’) is Sussex speech for the Weald (the wooded area which lies between the North and South Downs) which seems entirely logical. However, and this may have misled the ORG compilers, the Weald itself is a contraction of an old Saxon word Andredsweald or Andredswald, ‘the wood of Andred’ (cf. the German ‘wald’ for wood; the weald of Sussex and Kent is still well-wooded).

Therefore, when Iggulden says ‘neither chalk nor forest, but wildishers’, it was assumed to mean that the Lashmars came neither from the Downs (‘the chalk’) nor the Weald (‘the forest’). Therefore, ‘wildishers’ had to be something else, and the only possibilities are the level lands of the Rother valley to the south-east or the levels around Pevensey. However, there is an area of mid/east Sussex known as Ashdown Forest, an extensive area of heathland lying east and north of ‘Kipling country’, and it is suggested that it is this area that Iggulden means when he says that the Lashmars do not come from the ‘forest’. Therefore, ‘wildishers’ can mean what it sounds as though it should mean, ‘a true native of the weald’.

[Page 37, line 28] headmark Sussex dialect also; probably referring to the foxy red hair.

[Page 37, line 31] in-toed – treads like a gipsy see the note on page 4, line 19. Gipsies were noted horse-dealers and horsemen: and horsemen tend to become bandy-legged or bow-legged, and thus tend to walk with their toes turned inwards.

[Page 38, line 4] Meriden a town in Connecticut, U.S.A.

[Page 38, line 5] The Daughters of the American Revolution is one of the best known of the many private societies, most of them for ladies only, and, in this case, limited to the descendants of those who fought in the War of Independence 1775-6.

[Page 38, line 8] Village This is an unusual word in some areas of the U.S.A. It may be used in Connecticut but ‘town’ is the usual word.

[Page 41, line 29] foreigner an outsider from the next parish only – within two miles, perhaps. Jokes are still made, with a fair amount of truth in them, about the amount of time it can take to become assimilated into a local society at all levels.

[Page 42, line 3] coffin-wood coffins were usually made of elm: it would be bad luck to fell an elm before it were needed, and might presage an untimely death.

[Page 42, line 10] Dutton Shaw a ‘shaw’ is another Sussex dialect word, meaning ‘copse’ or ‘small wood’.

[Page 42, line 29] sons in the police or railway service for young adolescents in the country who did not want to go into farming, or for whom there was no job available, the police and the railways offered the best chance of employment. Once you were in, you were in for life, barring a misdemeanour on your part; and both jobs were, or could be, pensionable, at a time when there was no such thing as the State old age pension. The first such pension, Lloyd George’s ‘five-bob’ (five shillings) a week was not paid until 1909.

[Page 43, line 10] Baltimore in Maryland, U.S.A., has long been famous for its great hospital, the Johns Hopkins University Hospital (now known simply as the Johns Hopkins Hospital), at that time probably the most important hospital in the U.S.A. and still (1967) one of the most important hospitals in the world. (it remains so in 2008). So George wanted Sophie to be near this hospital as the time of his confinement drew near. (My wife was in this hospital 1908-10 – broken knee joint. ORG Ed. )

Kipling’s friend, E.L. White apparently questioned “Why Baltimore?” – he may even have suggested that Kipling should have made it Pittsburgh (see Letters Vol 3, Ed. Pinney, 5 April 1910, and the comment by Kipling reproduced in our Headnote to this story. Possibly White assumed that George Chapin was in steel (he held conversations with a railway magnate in Bad Nauheim – see note on Page 24, line 6 above – which brought back the symptoms of his breakdown): but Kipling, while not denying that, suggested that Baltimore was the place because of its climate.

[Page 44, line 23] we bought it for fun see page 27, line 2, the joke.

[Page 45, line 24] Eros or Cupid, the God of Love.

[Page 45, line 24] Confucius This celebrated Chinese philosopher (550-478 B.C.) belonged to a noble Chinese family in Lu in what is now Shan-tung. He was said to be the great teacher of moral and political science. His best remembered maxim was: “Do not unto others what you would not wish done unto yourself.” He did not claim divine revelation. Confucianism, as a system of politics and ethics evolved in China after about 200 B.C., more than 250 years after Confucius’ death.

[Page 46, line 7] Airedales: a breed of large rough-haired terrier, named from a district in Yorkshire.

[Page 49, line 6] caterin(g): Sussex dialect for ‘slanting’, from corner to corner.

[Page 49, line 24] larch-poles comparatively insubstantial timbers of soft wood for re-building the bridge.

[Page 49, line 32] timber-tug a large-wheeled cart, little more than a frame, on which, or under which, large timbers could be dragged.

[Page 51] “The Recall” This poem closely reflects the story of the American couple who settle in Sussex, more or less by accident, and find that the wife’s family comes from there. The land has mysteriously claimed them back. See also
“A Charm”.

[Verse 1]

I am the land of their fathers This is an echo of Hen Wlad fy Nhadau – “Land of my Fathers” – the national anthem of Wales, written by Evan James and his son James James in 1856, which goes to a stirring and popular tune. [J McG]


©Alastair Wilson 2005 All rights reserved