The United Idolaters

Notes on the text

These notes, edited by Lisa Lewis, include material from her original research, from ORG, from Isabel Quigly’s notes for the OXFORD WORLD’S CLASSICS edition of The Complete Stalky & Co. (1987), and from Pierre Coustillas’ translations into French. Except where stated otherwise, the page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan Uniform Edition of Debits and Credits, in which the story was first collected.

[Page 86, line 9] the Pebble Ridge The natural embankment of big smooth stones heaped up by the sea beneath Westward Ho!

[Page 86, line 10] a Major and his Minor an older and a younger brother. Boys at school were then addressed as Smith (or whatever) major, Smith minor, and, if there was a third, Smith minimus. At a school with many brothers or cousins with the same name they might be known as Smith 1, 2, 3, 4 (cf. `Dick Four’) or by Latin equivalents like Tertius.

[Page 87, line 4] Look here, Har – Minor this shows how at school even brothers did not address each other by their Christian names. “Har” – presumably Harold or Harry – was unusable as a name at school, even when the two were alone together. The same sort of thing can be seen in P. G. Wodehouse’s “A Prefect’s Uncle”, in which uncle and nephew, very close in age, address each other by their surnames. It was not always so; the earlier school stories use Christian names between friends, and at certain schools, in certain periods, this continues. But around the 1880’s it would have been usual to use surnames, indeed not to know the first name of most other boys. Kipling at school was able to pretend his name was John, since his first name was Joseph and he was thus J. R. Kipling.

[Page 87, line 33] the Army Class it has been established in Stalky & Co. that the school specialised in preparing candidates for the entrance examinations to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. This is why [page 88, lines 2-3] Gillett will say “we have to compete against the Crammers’ establishments, where smoking’s usual.” Kipling records that the Army Class were allowed to smoke at his real school, both in “An English School” and in Something of Myself.

[Page 89, line 13] Loungin’ round and sufferin’ Uncle Remus, chapter XII: ` “Lounjun’ roun’ en suffer’n,” sez Brer Terrypin, sezee.’

[Page 89, line 18] Blundells a real public school, near Tiverton in Devon.

[Page 89, line 29] fuzees matches with long oval heads for outdoor use.

[Page 90, line 13] their symptoms seemed to segashuate Uncle Remus, chapter II ‘”How duz yo’ sym’tums seem ter segashuate?” sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.’

[Page 90, line 16] the Pavilion and the Cri The former was a famous music-hall, the latter the Criterion Theatre, Piccadilly Circus

[Page 90, line 19] Turn me loose, or I’ll knock the natal stuffin’ out of you Uncle Remus, chapter II: ` “Tu’n me loose,. fo’ I kick de natal stuffn’ outen you,” sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.’

[Page 90, line 25] Shotover a filly which won the Derby and another major race in 1882.

Cetewayo last King of Zululand, deposed after Zulu War (1879); arrived in England August, 1882.

[Page 90, line 26] Arabi Pasha he headed a nationalist revolt in Egypt with which the Khedive was unable to deal: after massacres in Alexandria, the British intervened, and Arabi Pasha was defeated by Sir Garnet Wolseley at Tel-el-Kebir on September 13th, 1882.

[Page 90, line 27] Spofforth Frederick Robert Spofforth, known as the Demon Bowler, an Australian cricketer who took a record number of wickets in 1882. The Oval is a famous cricket ground in south London.

[Page 91, line 9] Tiyi! Tungalee!… I pick um pea! from Uncle Remus, chapter XXIII, “Mr Rabbit and Mr Bear”, sung by Brer Rabbit to his children.

[Page 91, line 15] Ingle-go-jang, my joy, my joy! … from Uncle Remus, chapter XXIV, “Mr Bear catches old Mr Bullfrog”, sung by Brer Bullfrog.

[Page 91, line 26] `Pinafore’ and `Patience’ Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore (1878) and Patience (1881).

[Page 92, line 7] Mea culpa! (Latin) the fault is mine.

[Page 92, line 28] Patristic to do with the fathers of the early Christian Church.

[Page 93, line 30] Dont ‘spute with de squinch-owl … fier from Uncle Remus: one of the “Plantation Proverbs” that follow chapter XXXIV. Earlier in Routledge’s edition of 1882 (p. 156): “Squinch-owl holler eve’y time he see a witch”, and (p. 159): “Den a squinch-owl lit on de koam er de house, en de nigger jam de shovel in de fier en make ‘em flew away.” Brownell, with his obsessive suspicions, might be compared to a witch-hunter.

[Page 94, line 31] Dick’s nose shone like Bardolph’s Bardolph is a character in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor, one of Falstaff’s gang. His red nose is much mocked.

[Page 95, line 7] or and sable gold and black, in heraldic language.

[Page 95, line 14] R.N. Royal Navy.

[Page 95, line 15] Stinking Jim Uncle Remus, chapter X: ‘Brer Fox call Brer Tarrypin Stinking Jim’.

[Page 95, line 33] Vide…Hypatia : Vide: Latin for “see”. Hypatia novel by Charles Kingsley (1853).

[Page 97, line 14] the only begetter reference to Shakespeare’s dedication of his sonnets: `To the Onlie Begetter of These Insuing Sonnets Mr W. H….’

[Page 97, line 19] Tar Baby in Uncle Remus, chapter II, “Brer Fox went ter wuk en got ‘im some tar, en mix it wid some turkentime, en fix up a contrapshun what he call a Tar-Baby.”

[Page 98, lines 6-8] If you do anything … something dam’-fine ORG suggests that Turkey is thinking of The Two Paths (1859), Lecture II, where Ruskin says: “Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together.”

[Page 98, lines 11-2] If you’re anxious for to shine … line Bunthorne’s song in Patience, Act I, words by W.S. Gilbert.

[Page 98, line 26] heave-offerings voluntary offerings lifted up before the Lord by Jewish priests.

[Page 99, line 8] `Here I come a-bulgin’ and a-bilin “‘ Uncle Remus, chapter XVIII. Two lines are combined here: “’Yer I come a-bulgin’,’ sez de Tarrypin, sezee,” and “’Yer I come a-bilin’,’ sez de Tarrypin, sezee.”

[Page 99, line 23] Miss Meadows in Uncle Remus, chapter XXVI, Brer Terrapin has again cheated the other animals by tying his end of the bed-cord to a root at the bottom of the river – thus winning the tug-of-war, even when Brer Bear was at the other end of the bed-cord.

[Page 100, line 13] Pope Symmachus a convert from paganism who was Pope from 498-514. At the same time Laurentius was elected in Byzantium, and the two Popes were in conflict until Theodoric the Great decided in favour of Symmachus in 507.

[Page 100, lines 26-7] eight millies … lines Boys were punished by having to copy out so many lines of Latin verse, or other school texts. See “Regulus” in A Diversity of Creatures and “The Propagation of Knowledge” later in Debits and Credits.

[Page 102, line 19] Bishop Odo Half-brother of William the Conqueror. Bishop of Bayeux from 1049. He fought at the battle of Hastings, 1066.

[Page 103, line 27] pot-huntings to pot-hunt, academically, was to seek for rewards and prizes.

[Page 104, lines 28-9] We must all bow down … House of Rimmon we must all do what we know is wrong in order to do our job. Rimmon was the Babylonian god who presided over storms. Naaman got Elisha’s permission to worship the god when he was with his master (2 Kings, 5, 18).

[Page 105, line 19] preter-pluperfect echo of R.S. Surtees, Handley Cross, chapter XXXVI, where Jorrocks says to Benjamin, “Come hup, you preter-pluperfect tense of ‘umbugs.”

[Page 105, lines 26-7] esprit-de maisong joke-French for “house spirit.”