Echoes, by Two Writers is a volume of parodies and original works by Kipling and his sister Trix, first published in Lahore in August 1884, when Kipling, then aged 18, had been in India for nearly two years. It was printed by the Civil and Military Gazette Press, of which Kipling was sub-editor, and he personally oversaw its production.
In December 1883 Mrs Kipling had brought out Kipling’s 15-year-old sister ‘Trix’ from England, and the two of them embarked on a series of literary games and compositions, which by the Spring of 1884 had generated a great many poems, mainly parodies of established poets. Rudyard was emboldened to publish some of them in August 1884 under the title Echoes by Two Writers. (Rudyard’s model for the title was Bayard Taylor’s The Echo Club and Other Literary Diversions (Boston, 1876), which he knew well.)
The dedicatory poems
The edition ran to 150 copies. The authors presented a number of these to family and friends, inscribed with additional dedicatory poems. These were not collected by Kipling but are to be found in Rutherford and Pinney, and in this guide.
To Mrs Tavenor Perry
There is a copy with the inscription ‘The Mater / From Ruddy / August 1884’. [Rudyard Kipling Collection, George Arents Research Library, Syracuse Library, USA]
Mrs. Tavenor Perry was a kind of substitute mother whom Kipling had been in the habit of addressing as ‘Mater’ (Latin for ‘Mother’) in letters from school. In the poem Kipling places her among the Public he is writing for, although she is six thousand miles away, and asks for her criticism – and her reply.
To Edith Macdonald
Edith Macdonald was his mother’s youngest sister. She thought that the verse must have been intended for Flo Garrard [Baldwin Papers, University of Sussex Special Collections].
Her mistake was perhaps not surprising; Andrew Rutherford (p.12) describes her as Rudyard’s closest confidante in matters of both literature and love, and she would have been fully acquainted with his infatuation with Flo Garrard, which dated from 1880. Flo was a beautiful art student, a year older than him. In 1881-82 he wrote a number of love poems to her, some of which address her as his muse and inspiration, for instance “An Ending”:
Oh Dearest! The best I have ever written,
The best and most perfect of me,
All things good I have ever fashioned
The best and most perfect of me,
Are yours and yours only.
Kipling wrote to Edith about this mistake on November 21st 1884):
The beginning of your last letter cut me to the core of my somewhat leathery conscience; for, as a matter of fact, I haven’t sent you a line since you acknowledged the receipt of Echoes and so wildly mistook the dedication thereof. No dear I did not write those verses for Flo, and if I had I should certainly not have sent you a duplicate. Pope was the only man who ever did that and he came to a bad end. I must confess that at first I was a good deal hurt at the mistake but accidents will happen in the best regulated families and I suppose your error was one of ‘em…
[Pinney, Letters of Rudyard Kipling vol 1, p. 79]
To Flo Garrard
This copy was sent to Flo Garrard, with the inscription ‘F.G. from R.K. Sept. 1884’ [Richards Collection, Yale]
What he actually wrote for Flo makes an interesting contrast with the previous poem which Aunt Edith thought had been written for her. She is no longer his inspiration, but his songs may still show traces of his old love, because she is still mistress of his heart.
To Evelyn Welford
Pinney (p. 2250) notes that there is a photograph of a copy in Kipling’s hand sent to Evelyn Welford, with the inscription ‘Evelyn from R.K. Sept. 1884’ [Kipling Collection, Dalhousie University Library].
Miss Welford was the daughter of the London representative of the New York publishers, Charles Scribner’s Sons. He evidently met her early in his time in Lahore, since he sent her an affectionate Valentine card in February 1883; see the poem “Saint Valentine, His Day”. On 12 November 1889 he describes her as ‘an ally of mine seven years ago’ See his diary-letter to Mrs.Hill in Pinney, Letters of Ruyard Kipling vol 1, p. 363)
See also the poem “To You, a reminiscence” dated August 1881, which uses the same refrain, and was probably addressed to Edith Macdonald.
To The Ladies of Warwick Gardens
This is in a copy of Echoes sent to Miss Winnard and the Miss Craiks, with the inscription ‘To The Ladies of Warwick Gardens’ and signatures ‘Ruddy & Trix’ [Berg Collection, New York Public Library].
The poem looks back to the days when Kipling and Trix spent time with ‘three dear ladies … in a house filled with books, peace, kindliness, patience and what today would be called ‘culture’.’ (Something of Myself, p. 21) The three were Georgiana Craik, her sister Mary, and their friend Miss Winnard, who lived at 26 Warwick Gardens in Kensington, in West London. Pinney notes (p. 2250) that Trix Kipling lived with them while she attended school in London, and Rudyard spent school holidays there. In a letter to André Chevrillon on October 22nd 1919 (Letters of Rudyard Kipling vol. 4 p. 584) he describes them as ‘three old maiden ladies of the mid-Victorian type …[whose] … sympathy with my ‘literary work’ was adorable.’
Rudyard and Trix were already writing poems together, and submitted them to the Ladies for criticism. Georgiana Craik – ‘Miss Georgie’ in verse 2 – was a popular novelist, so it was particularly kind of her to lay her own work aside to decide the merits of some halting rhyme by the children. In verse 5, all three consider what the two had written as seriously as if it were truly deathless verse.
To Margaret Burne-Jones
Margaret Burne-Jones was Kipling’s cousin, the daughter of his much loved ‘Aunt Georgie’ and Edward Burne-Jones, the distinguished pre-Raphaelite painter. The poem is in a copy of Echoes sent to her with the inscription ‘Margaret Burne-Jones, from Ruddy and Trix’ [Kipling Collection, Dalhousie UniversityLibrary]. ORG (p. 5060) notes that this copy of Echoes was sold in December 1952 at Sothebys, London, for £520 by Margaret (Mrs J W Mackail) who said:
Ruddy and I called each other Wop in our teens, and for long after. Some laughing talk and slip of the tongue produced the word. And then in Dickens’s Letters we found one signed “The Sparkler of Albion”, and so when Ruddy went to India, he became The Wop of Asia and I The Wop of Albion.
Like a number of Kipling’s works, this poem is written from a Muslim world-view. Verse 1 invokes Allah. Verse 2 refers to the Islamic tradition that the frontal sutures (the lines on the forehead where the left and right frontal bones of the skull become joined together in very early life) form Arabic script which foretells the destiny of the child. (see “Uncovenanted Mercies” in Limits and Renewals p. 375.)
(far North End in verse 2 refers to the Burne-Jones family house at The Grange, North End Lane, Fulham, in West London.)
To the Common-room at United Services College
See the notes on this poem by John McGivering and John Radcliffe.
A printed broadside headed ‘ECHOES BY TWO WRITERS’ with the subheading ‘(A.M. D.-D. R.K., OCT. 1884)’ D. D stands for dono dedit ‘Gave as a gift’ (Latin).
[Kipling Collection, Dalhousie University Library].
The poem is clearly intended to accompany a presentation copy of Echoes. The recipient ‘A.M.’ was A. Macdonald, assistant-editor of the Pioneer of Allahabad, who had been acting as editor of the Civil and Military Gazette while Stephen Wheeler was on leave.
In the poem Kipling offers Echoes to a senior newspaperman who has risen to the heights of writing ‘leaders’ – leading articles – and has left behind the gum-pot and the shears with which Kipling still labours. Part of his work was to read other newspapers and literally ‘cut and paste’ interesting paragraphs to be reprinted in his own paper. See also “The Pious Sub’s Creed” of January 1883, early in his time at the CMG:
I do believe the scissors are
The world’s most sure foundation
And pasting paragraphs by far
The finest occupation.
©Philip Holberton 2020 All rights reserved