The Last of the Stories

Notes on the text

(by David Page)

[Epigraph] —Ecc. iii, 22 — Ecclesiastes 3,22. The verse finishes: ‘for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?’ [DP]

[Page 297, line 1] “Kench with a long hand” meaning “pull with long strokes”.

[Page 297, line 2] punkah coolie the servant pulling a suspended swinging fan. [DP]

[Page 297, line 3] Jehannum The Muslim version of Gehenna, “the valley of Hinnom”, which became synonymous with “the place of everlasting punishment”, and so with “Hell”.

[Page 297, line 12] ignis fatuus “False light”, and so a “Will-o’-the-Wisp”.

[Page 298, line 10] Dante The famous Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), author of The Divine Comedy, consisting of the “Purgatorio”, “Inferno” and “Paradiso”. In the poem his guide was the Roman poet, Virgil – a particularly apt choice for the Lower Regions, since he had described the way in the Aeneid starting from Cumae and Lake Avernus in Italy, near Naples.

See also “Her Little Responsibilty” (Page 14, line 9), and “A Death in the Camp” (Page 233, line 20 et seq.) [DP]

[Page 298, line 12] “Dante once prepared to paint a picture” This is a mis-quotation from Robert Browning’s “One Word More”, 1885 (Men and Women), section V, which begins:

Dante once prepared to paint an angel:
Whom to please? You whisper ‘Beatrice.’

The subject is from Dante’s Vita Nuova, and was already the subject of a famous picture by Rossetti, painted in 1853 (now in the Ashmolean, Oxford) called ‘Dante drawing an Angel on the Anniversary of Beatrice’s Death’. (See the Rossetti Archive)

[Page 298, line 16] a nine-circle Inferno Dante’s Inferno was divided in this way, following the general conceptions of the time, which stemmed from the various Apocalyptic writings attached to the Old and New Testaments. The worse the sinner, the lower his circle – just as the circles in Paradise got better and better, up to the “Seventh Heaven”.

[Page 298, line 24] Sainted Leopardi The Italian poet, Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837), who is suitably apostrophised by the Devil as he was one of the most pessimistic of poets. He was the inspiration of one of our most pessimistic English poets, James Thomson (1834-82), who published “The City of Dreadful Night” in the National Reformer in 1874 under the pseudonym of Bysshe Vanolis, later simply “B.V.” There also appeared essays on Leopardi, and the poems were collected in book form in 1881, with a volume of essays in 1881.

It is possibly from Thomson’s writings that Kipling knew about Leopardi, although a translation of 37 of his poems was made by G.T. Townsend and published in 1887 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons. New York.
(See the Project Gutenberg Archive) [DP]

[Page 299, line 2] Limbo Kipling is getting thoroughly muddled. It was the abode of the just who had died before Christ came. Limbo, though on the borders of Hell, was somewhere above the Earth, and outside the atmosphere – a purgatory for the vain and foolish. Milton calls it the “Paradise of Fools”.

[Page 299, line 7] feuilletons sections of light literature, usually near the bottom of the page in newspapers. Kipling’s “Turn-overs” would probably qualify.

[Page 300, line 4] jail-durrie The sack-cloth, usually used for mailbags, made by prisoners in Indian prisons.

[Page 301, line 23] “Oh, that mine enemy had written a book!” a slight misquotation from Job 31,35: ‘Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book.’

[Page 301, line 25 and page 302, line 1] Man of Us See Job i, 1: ‘There was a man in the land of Uz.’

[Page 302, line 3] Balzac The French novelist, Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) whose great work, La Comédie Humaine, consisted of a whole group of novels and studies published over many years.

[Page 302, line 4] Théophile Gautier French poet and story-teller (1811-72). He belonged to the Romantic School, and became popular in England in the 1870s and ’80s. Some of his work, in both verse and prose, was translated by Andrew Lang. His best known tale, exhibiting a macabre and slightly unhealthy romanticism, is La Morte Amoureuse (1836), translated by Lang as The Dead Leman, (1899).

[Page 302, lines 20-21] three-volume novels that never reach the six-shilling stage. Until about 1890, novels were published in three volumes, at about 10/6 (£0.525) per volume. they were in very small editions, usually not more than 500 copies, and were purchased almost exclusively by the lending libraries, headed by Mudies. If they proved popular, they were then reprinted in one volume 6/– (£0.30) and this is what a reader bought rather than borrowed. This custom accounts for the great length of novels such as The Cloister and the Hearth and Hardy’s earlier books. When the much shorter adventure story arrived with the writings of Stevenson and Haggard, the novel grew shorter also to compete with them – since they were first published in one volume.

[Page 304, line 21] John Ridd with Lorna Doone The hero and heroine of Lorna Doone (1869) by Richard Doddridge Blackmore (1825-1900).

[Page 304, line 22] Mr. Maliphant and the Bormalacks Characters from All Sorts and Conditions of Men (1882), the best-known novel of Sir Walter Besant (1836-1901). A Founder of the Society of Authors (1884). See Kipling’s poem “The Rhyme of the Three Captains”.

[Page 305, line 1] Mr. John Oakhurst The gambler hero of “The Outcasts of Poker Flat”, one of the short stories contributed by Bret Harte (Francis Brett Hart, 1836-1902) to The Overland Monthly (U.S.A.) and collected in The Luck of Roaring Camp, and Other Stories (1869).

[Page 305, line 5] The Duchess A young woman from Poker Flat, familiarly known as “The Duchess” . Also from Bret Harte’s “The Outcasts of Poker Flat”.

[Page 305, line 7] Brown of Calaveras From the story of that name by Bret

[Page 305, line 11] the Doric of the Gulches “Doric” means a broad or rustic dialect (from the broad accent of the Dorians in ancient Greece). “The Gulches” refers once more to the Bret Harte story – ‘the gulch which marked the uttermost limit of Poker Flat’ – etc. It may be added that “Poker Flat” was the name of an American mining camp in the “Far West”.

[Page 305, line 16] Yuba Bill Character from “Miggles”, another story by Bret Harte.

[Page 305, line 23] Caliban, his head in a melon The primitive man, or monster, from Shakespeare’s The Tempest; but here, Kipling is referring to Robert Browning’s (1812-1889) poem, “Caliban upon Setebos” from Dramatis Personae (1864). In the poem, the melon is actually the fruit of the pompion-plant (or pumpkin). There are references to Prosper(o) and Miranda in Browning’s poem, linking it directly with The Tempest. See also “Slaves of the Lamp Part I”, in Stalky and Co. (page 52 line 11). [RLG / DP]

[Page 305, line 24] orc usually this name was applied to more than one vaguely identified sea monster – also a kind of whale. There are two references to the ‘orc’ in Browning’s “Caliban upon Setebos”, which suggest a different type of monster:

Why not make horny eyes no thorn could prick,
Or plate my scalp with bone against the snow,
Or overscale my flesh ’neath joint and joint
Like an orc’s armour?

’Would, to appease Him, cut a finger off,
Or of my three kid yearlings burn the best,
Or let the toothsome apples rot on tree,
Or push my tame beast for the orc to taste:

This pre-dates the use by J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) of the word in his Middle-Earth stories (including The Lord of the Rings which he claims to have derived from the Old English of Beowulf (see Wikipedia . [DP]

[Page 306, line 1] “Manners none, customs beastly” A very common quotation in writings about primitive culture and savage tribes. (Kipling may have read the earlier anthropological works of E. B. Tylor and Andrew Lang).

[Page 306, line 4] Bishop Blougram, etc. From Robert Browning’s “Bishop Blougram’s Apology” (Men and Women, 1855). In the poem the Bishop remarks: ‘So, you despise me, Mr. Gigadibs.’ See “Slaves of the Lamp Part I”, Stalky and Co. (page 41, line 29), where Kipling puts the quotation in Mr. King’s mouth – substituting “Master” for “Mr.” as he is speaking to Beetle.

‘Blougram’ is considered to be a representation of the Roman Catholic Cardinal Wiseman (1802-1865).

[Page 306, line 8] Bacchantes Bacchantes, or correctly, “Bakchai”, were the wild women under the influence of “Bacchic frenzy” in the Dionysiac rites of ancient Greece. But the name is used loosely for any wild or immodest women.

[Page 306, line 11] Robert Elsmere The hero of the novel of that name by Mrs. Humphrey Ward (1851-1920), niece of Matthew Arnold, which was published in 1888. It was an attack on evangelical Christianity, and caused a great sensation. The Revd. Robert Elsmere is represented as a classical scholar of the ultra-liberal tradition, whose faith is shaken by the Biblical “criticism” of the day, and by the scientific writings of the Darwinians.

[Page 306, line 13] scourings of the Opéra Comique Robert Elsmere had been preaching at the traditionally immoral young women of the lighter literature and drama of France.

[Page 306, line 21] Marie Pigeonnier La Vie de Marie Pigeonnier by Eugène Gaillet and Liébold was published in Paris in 1884. It is said to be a satirical response to Marie Colombier’s (1843-1910) unauthorised biography of Sarah Bernhardt, Les Mémoires de Sarah Barnum, Paris 1883. [DP]

[Page 306, line 24] Zola Emile Zola (1840-1902) was the leading exponent of ‘realism’ in the novel. His books were banned in their earliest translations into English, and the prosecution of their publisher, Henry Vizetelly, was the cause célèbre of 1888.

[Page 307, line 3] Tyneside Tail-Twisters Based on the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers, whom Kipling knew at Mian Mir between 1886 and 1888. See the story “Only a Subaltern” in Under the Deodars, first published in the Week’s News, 25 August, 1888.

They are also refered to in “The Army of a Dream—Part I” (Traffics and Discoveries), “The Smith Administration” (From Sea to Sea), and in Letters of Marque Chap. XV (From Sea to Sea). [DP]

[Page 307, line 7] Rougon-Macquart series This was Zola’s group of novels about the fortunes of a single family through several generations – in all twenty volumes published between 1871 and 1892 (1885-1907 in English), the most famous being Nana (1880), Germinal (1885) and La Terre (1887). ‘The series of novels follows the fortunes of these people and their descen-ants, born to an inheritance of ignorance, madness and debauch’, wrote Andrew Lang in 1882.

[Page 307, line 11] Second Empire (France). First Empire, 1804-15, Napoleon I. Second Empire, 1852-70, Napoleon III.

[Page 307, lines 18-19] the Black Tyrone … the Old Regiment both regiments, to which Mulvaney belonged, are frequently mentioned in the Soldiers Three stories, all the stories collected in this volume having appeared in the Week’s News earlier in 1888.

[Page 307, line 25] Coupeau a plumber who married Gervaise Macquart in Zola’s L’Assommoir (1887). The book is largely concerned with drunkenness – hence the “pink snakes” on Page 308, line 1.

[Page 308, line 4] Caxton William Caxton (1422-91). English printer born in Kent – learned printing in Cologne. He printed the first book in English in 1474, probably at Bruges.

[Page 308, lines 24-25] Loathsome, lank-haired, infant-saints… This is a specific hit at the worst excesses of the sentimental piety in such ‘improving’ books for and about children as Louisa Charlesworth’s Ministering Children (1854) and Jessica’s First Prayer (1867) by “Hesba Stretton”.

[Page 309, line 2] Tom Sawyer One of the first real boys of fiction; the hero of Mark Twain’s story which bears his name, published in 1876. Kipling had a particular admiration for Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens, 1835-1910) and visited him in 1889 on his way to England. Later the two men became firm friends.

[Page 309, line 6] Arthur’s Court The Arthurian legends were particularly well-known at the time, since Malory was much read and served as an inspiration both for the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites and their followers (notably Burne-Jones) and for such famous and much-read narrative poems as Tennyson’s “Idylls of the King”, William Morris’s “The Defence of Guinevere”, and Swinburne’s “Tristram of Lyonesse”.

[Page 309, line 7] Mr. John Wellington Wells The comic magician from the first full-length Gilbert and Sullivan opera, The Sorcerer (1877), whose most famous “patter” song begins:‘Oh! my name is John Wellington Wells, I’m a dealer in magic and spells…’ .

[Page 309, line 8] Dagonet was King Arthur’s court jester – given more prominence by Tennyson than by Malory.

[Page 309, line 10] Tristram’s harp Sir Tristram was a knight of King Arthur’s court renowned for his skill in playing the harp. He won the love of the Fair Isolde in Ireland. [DP]

[Page 309, line 12] Allan Quatermain Hero of Rider Haggard’s two earliest African romances, King Solomon’s Mines (1885) and Allan Quatermain (1887), two of the most popular books of the day. Kipling did not meet Haggard until late in 1889 but thereafter they became firm friends.
Round Table

The Arthurian Legends and the Story of Merlin

As told by Sir Thomas Malory (died 1471) in Morte d’ Arthur, and by many others such as Wace of Jersey, who died after 1171, and others.

Zulu Impi King Solomon’s Mines, She, and many other South African and other novels by Sir (Henry) Rider Haggard, 1856-1925. Refers to a regiment of warriors.

[Page 309, line 13] Little Lord Fauntleroy Child hero of Mrs Frances Hodgson Burnett’s (1849-1924) most famous story, published in 1885. In 1888 it was made into a sentimental play, aimed at adults, which with the child actress, Vera Beringer, in the title role, had a tremendous success – but caused an admirable book to be condemned for a sentimentality which hardly appears in it.

[Page 309, lines 21-23] Good … a maiden of the Zu-Vendi Captain John Good, R.N., a slightly comic character modelled on Haggard’s Naval brother, was famous for his ‘beautiful white legs’ which so impressed the native Kukuanas in King Solomon’s Mines. The Zu-Vendi were the white race whom Quatermain, Good and Sir Henry Curtis discovered in Allan Quatermain; Good was always susceptible to female charms, and he fell in love with Sorais, one of the two sister-queens of Zu-Vendis.

[Page 310, line 25] Fifty-one children Apparently the number of stories (as distinct from sketches and poems) contributed to the Week’s News by Kipling between 7 January and 15 September, 1888. The actual number of items of all kinds was sixty-nine.

However, the fifty-one children may have been the characters in the stories rather than the stories themselves. [DP]

[Page 311, lines 7-9] ‘She began to weep and she began to cry, Lord ha’ mercy on me, this is none of I !’ This is a variant from the nursery rhyme “The Little Woman and the Pedlar” of which the earliest known version dates back to c 1775. (See The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes No. 535) Kipling also quotes it in Something of Myself (p. 78, line 25), and also in the “Happy Ending” version of The Light that Failed, Chapter XIII.

[Page 311, line 10] Mrs. Hauksbee Among the Week’s News contributions, she appeared in “The Education of Otis Yeere” (10 and 17 March, 1888), “A Supplementary Chapter” (19 May), and “A Second-rate Woman” (8 September). She had previously appeared in four of the Plain Tales and been mentioned in one other. See also the headnote to “A Supplementary Chapter”.

[Page 311, line 23] Jekyll and Hyde The “split personality” of Robert Louis Stevenson’s thriller, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886). Jekyll, the full man, was the complete character: a good and respected citizen; Hyde was a hideous, shrunken monstrosity – the evil in Jekyll without any alleviating good. The two had already become part of the language, and all readers were assumed to know their story – e.g., Henley and Lang in their anonymous skit on the Royal Academy exhibition, Pictures at Play, published in June, 1888, had made Mr. Gladstone sing, when meeting a bad portrait of himself: ‘I am your Dr. Jekyll. And you’re my Mr.Hyde, On my head mortals wreak ill…. Of me they often speak ill. …’ etc.

[Page 312, lines 9-10] ‘Just look at that . . . just look at this! And then you’ll see I’m not amiss.’ Unidentified. Perhaps a couplet from a popular song.

[Page 312, line 18] The Devil and all his works Quotation from the Church Catechism.

[Page 313, line 17] Loo Mrs. Hauksbee’s Christian name was Lucy – abbreviated to Loo by Mrs. Mallowe – (Polly). (See page 314, line 13 and also the headnote to “A Supplementary Chapter”).

[Page 313, line 18] a cloud of witnesses Quotation from Hebrews 12,1: ‘Wherefore seeing that we are also compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses … ‘

[Page 313, line 19] Mrs. Mallowe appears in “The Education of Otis Yeere”, “A Second-rate Woman”, and “A Supplementary Chapter”. See also NRG headnote to “A Supplementary Chapter”.

[Page 314, line 3] Litera scripta manet The first words of a quotation which goes on ‘verbum imbelle perit’, i.e. ‘The written letter remains, the weak word perishes’. One of the common sentences for translation in schools from the Delectus, which was a book of such sentences and of short passages in Latin, and Greek for translation.

[Page 314, line 11] Peterhoff The official abode of the Viceroy in Simla from 1862-1888.

[Page 314, line 18] Gilead P. Beck A character from The Golden Butterfly (1876) by Sir Walter Besant and James Rice.

[Page 315, lines 17-20] The actors in the Wayside Comedy The characters mentioned all occur in “A Wayside Comedy”, published in the Week’s News, 21 January, 1888 and collected in Under the Deodars. (Wee Willie Winkie). In “A Wayside Comedy”, the Boults’ name is spelled Boulte.

[Page 316, lines 3-4] Gunner Barnabas and Private Shaddock Characters in “The Likes o’ Us”: Week’s News, 4 February, 1888; only collected in Abaft the Funnel (1909). There had also been a sketch about Gunner Barnabas in the Civil and Military Gazette, 7 October, 1887, reprinted in The Smith Administration, 1891, and included in From Sea to Sea – entitled “The Opinions of Gunner Barnabas”.

[Page 316, line 9 et seq.] Captain Gadsby and Minnie, Jack Mafflin, The Brigadier-General and Poor Dear Mamma had all appeared in The Story of the Gadsbys, most of which had appeared in six numbers of the Week’s News earlier in 1888.

[Page 316, lines 20-26] Trewinnard … Dana Da All Kipling characters who had appeared in his stories in the Week’s News earlier in 1888, as follows:

  • Trewinnard, “A Supplementary Chapter”, 19 May (Abaft the Funnel)
  • Otis Yeere, “The Education of Otis Yeere”, 10 and 17 March (Under the Deodars)
  • Crook O’Neil, “With the Main Guard,” 28 July (Soldiers Three)
  • Bobby Wick, “Only a Subaltern,” 18 August (Under the Deodars)
  • Janki Meah, “At Twenty-Two,” 18 February (In Black and White)
  • Afzul Khan, “At Howli Thana”, 31 March (In Black and White)
  • Durga Dass, “Gemini”, 14 January (In Black and White)
  • Boh Da Thone, “The Ballad of Boh Da Thone”, 1 September (Barrack Room Ballads)
  • Dana Da, “The Sending of Dana Da,” 11 February (In Black and White and Soldiers Three)
  • Durga Dass also appears in “Without Benefit of Clergy” in Life’s Handicap.

[Page 317, lines 1-10] The Leander . . . His Majesty the King
a continuation of the list of Kipling characters as follows:

  • The Leander of the Barhwi ford, The unnamed narrator of “In Flood Time”, 4 August (In Black and White)
  • Peg Barney, “The Big Drunk Draf”, 24 March (Soldiers Three)
  • Mrs. Delville, “A Second-Rate Woman”, 1 September (Under the Deodars)
  • Dinah Shadd, she had only appeared so far in “The Big Drunk Draf” (Soldiers Three);
  • Simmons, Slane and Losson, “In the Matter of a Private”, 14 April (Soldiers Three)
  • Georgie Porgie in “Georgie Porgie”, 3 March (Life’s Handicap)
  • the Hawley Boy, “The Education of Otis Yeere”, 10 and 17 March, and “A Second-Rate Woman,” 1 September (Under the Deodars); The Tents of Kedar, “The Tents of Kedar”, 11 August (The Story of the Gadsbys)
  • His Majesty the King, “His Majesty the King”, 5 May (Wee Willie Winkie).

Leander in the Greek legend he swam the Hellespont each night to visit Hero, his lady-love.

[Page 317, lines 14-19] Wee Willie Winkie … Coppy both are characters from “Wee Willie Winkie” which appeared in the Week’s News on 28 January, 1888.

[Page 317, line 20] Jackanapes and Lollo Jackanapes is the small boy who is the hero of Jackanapes by Mrs. Ewing (1841-1885), and Lollo was his pony. The story appeared first in Aunt Judy’s Magazine, October, 1879, and was published as a book in 1884 with illustrations by Randolph Caldecott.

[Page 317, line 24] ‘Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings,’ From Psalm viii, 2. (‘The Devil can cite Scripture for his purpose’ , as Shakespeare says). The rest of the verse runs: ‘hast thou ordained strength, because of Thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.’

[Page 318, line 4] The Three Musketeers Four stories about Mulvaney & Co. had appeared in Plain Tales from the Hills, and six in the Week’s News, collected in Soldiers Three (1888) with the addition of “Black Jack”.

[Page 318, line 14] Helanthami So called in “The Three Musketeers” in Plain Tales from the Hills (p. 70, line 6), the first story in which the Soldiers Three appear. It seems to be an invented name – perhaps signifying ‘Hell-an’-the-Army’, or ‘Hell and Tommy’.

[Page 320, line 6] In saecula saeculorum ‘For ages of ages’, i.e., for ever and ever. Another proverbial tag from the Delectus (1828), that great selection of Classical passages for translation.

[Page 320, line 13] Maître François Rabelais The great French humourist, one of the greatest in the world, born about 1490 and died in 1553. His burlesque romance, Gargantua and Pantagruel, was very popular in the later nineteenth century, and there was a Rabelais Club in London to which many of Kipling’s friends such as Besant, Lang, Henley, Pollock, Saintsbury and Eustace Balfour belonged; but it is not certain whether it was still in existence when he returned in 1889. Its last (privately-printed) Recreations appeared in 1888.

Rabelais was born in Chinon, a great figure of the French Renaissance. A Franciscan Monk for a time he abandoned the priesthood and studied medicine. Later he was appointed as Curé of Meudon, but he never lived there. A virile satirist, the flaws of his art are in his sometimes overly coarse humour.

[Page 320, line 15] colours of Gargantua these were white and blue, the same as those of his father Grandgoussier. (Gargantua and Pantagruel, Rabelais, trans. J.M. Cohen, Book I, Chapter IX). [DP]

[Page 320, line 16] An Entered Apprentice an initiate into Freemasonry.

[Page 320, line 17] his rough ashlar a rough stone cut from the quarry that an apprentice was expected to convert into a building block, or perfect ashlar. (See Kipling’s poem ‘My New-Cut Ashlar’ (1890). [DP]

[Page 321, line 1] Great Bells of Notre Dame Gargantua pulled these out of the cathedral tower in Paris and hung them round his horse’s neck. (Book I, Chapter XVII).

[Page 321, lines 5 & 6] Panurge, Gargantua and Pantagruel The three main characters in Gargantua and Pantagruel.
Panurge became a companion to Pantagruel after they met in Paris where the latter was studying. Gargantua was the father of Pantagruel. Gargantua begat him at the age of ‘four hundred, four score, and forty-four years’.

[Page 321, line 19] Trajan is a fisher of frogs In Book II, Chapter XXX, Epistemon was brought to life by Panurge, after having his head cut off, and made a report of what all the damned in Hell were now doing: ‘their estate and condition of living is but only changed after a very strange manner’, and he proceeded to give one of the long lists in which Rabelais delighted: Xerxes was a Cryer of mustard, Romulus, a Salter and patcher of pantines … Trajan was a Fisher of frogs, Antoninus a Lackey, and so on. (Edition of 1653, translated by S.T.U.C.) (Urquhart), pages 196-7.

[Page 322, lines 18-21] But we brought forth and reared in hours … These four lines form the eighteenth stanza of Matthew Arnold’s poem “Stanzas in Memory of the Author of Obermann”, written in November 1849.

[Page 323, line 4] brain-fever bird the Common Hawk Cuckoo, a native of India and summer visitor to the Delhi region..

[Page 323, lines 9-10] No other to follow it Strictly true: “The Last of the Stories” was indeed the last which Kipling contributed to the Week’s News.


[R.L.G. / D.P.]

©Roger Lancelyn Green and David Page 2007 All rights reserved