The Last Term

Notes on the text

These notes are based on those written by Isabel Quigly for the OXFORD WORLD’S CLASSICS edition of The Complete Stalky & Co. (1987) with the kind permission of Oxford University Press. The page numbers below refer to the Macmillan Uniform Edition of Stalky & Co. (1899), the collection in which this story first appeared.


[Page 217, line 3] the College paper which Beetle edited This was the United Services College Chronicle, Nos. 4-10, from June 1881-July 1882.

[Page 217, line 9] Swillingford Patriot a reference to Surtees’s Mr Sponge’s Sporting Tour.

[Page 217, line 19] Hakluyt Richard Hakluyt, 1553-1616, compiler of first-hand accounts of travels and explorations, published in 1589 as The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffics and Discoveries of the English Nation, now more familiarly known as Hakluyt’s Voyages.

[Page 218, line 2] Rubáiyát Edward Fitzgerald, 1809-83, translated (freely) the Rubáiyát of Omar Khyyám, the astronomer-poet of Persia (died c.1122). This was published in 1859, revised and enlarged in 1863, revised again in 1872 and revised finally and reprinted in 1879. It is still popular and much quoted.

[Page 218, line 5] Alexander Smith poet, 1830-67.

[Page 218, line 5] L.E.L. Letitia Elizabeth Landon, a mid-nineteenth-century poet.

[Page 218, line 6] Lydia Sigourney American poet, born Lydia Howard Bentley, who wrote children’s books, stories, moral pieces in prose and verse, and biographies.

[Page 218, line 7] Fletcher Phineas Fletcher, 1582-1650, who wrote The Purple Island (1633), a long poem.

[Page 218, line 9] Ossian Gaelic poet, translated very freely by James Macpherson, 1736-96, the authenticity of whose poems was challenged, especially by Dr Johnson.

[Page 218, line 9] The Earthly Paradise a long poem by William Morris, published in 1863.

[Page 218, line 10] Atalanta in Calydon a poetic drama by Algernon Charles Swinburne, published in 1865.

[Page 218, line 16] journals, long dead the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine of 1856, which contained much early work by William Morris (prose and verse), and contributions from Burne Jones, Rossetti, and Price himself. Also The Germ, a much earlier Pre-Raphaelite paper.

[Page 218, line 24] high and disposedly a reference to Sir James Melville’s description of Queen Elizabeth in his Memoirs.

[Page 219, line 19] Cooper’s Hill familiar name for the Royal Indian College of Civil Engineering.

[Page 221, lines 22-3] Ulpian serves your need; `Aha! Elucescebat, quoth our friend’ both from Browning’s “The Bishop orders his tomb at St Praxed’s church”.

[Page 226, line 1] Steady the Buffs This well known army saying is also used by Kipling in “Poor Dear Mamma” in “the Story of the Gadsbys”, and in Abaft the Funnel”. The Buffs were originally the 3rd Foot, and known in Kipling’s day as The Buffs (East Kent Regiment). The saying is often attributed to Kipling, but was probably already long extant in the British army.

[Page 227, line 26] Confer orationes Regis furiosissimi Kipling’s own Latin: Compare the speeches of the very furious King .

[Page 228, line 23] formes the forme is a metal frame into which the type is locked after composition. Loose blocks of type are made into a single solid mass by hammering in wedges of wood, called quoins. Thus a forme can be moved about, stood on its side, etc.

[Page 229, line 14] In Verrem: actio prima. one of Cicero’s Orations, delivered in 70 BC.

[Page 229, line 24] ”Member what the considerate Bloomer did . . . Hounds?’ a Bloomer was a follower of Mrs Bloomer’s dress reforms of 1849, of which bloomers were a part. In R. S. Surtees’s Mr Sponge’s Sporting Tour, 1853, chapter XLII, a girl altered an account written by Spraggon about a hunt, making nonsense of it. Hence, ‘we must sugar Mr King’s milk for him’.

[Page 230, line 5] “One of those scientific rests … celebrated” … The Puffington Run. Another reference to Mr Sponge’s Sporting Tour.

[Page 230, line 17] Quis multa gracilis… What slender youth bedewed with liquid odours… From Horace’s Ode, I, 5, much translated and quoted.

[Page 231, line 15] `Let me from the bonded ware’ouse of my knowledge’ (and the quotations that follow) R. S. Surtees, Handley Cross, chapter XXXII.

[Page 231, line 20] tops riding boots.

[Page 232, line 12] `Hellish dark and smells of cheese’ Handley Cross, chapter LVII.

[Page 232, line 31] Pomponius Ego a self-satisfied character in Handley Cross.

[Page 236, line 23] Hakluyt see note on page 217.

[Page 237, line 30] Tulkiss is an honourable man reference to Mark Anthony’s speech after Caesar’s murder, beginning `Friends, Romans, countrymen’, in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, in which he says repeatedly and ironically that Brutus is an honourable man.

[Page 239, line 6] Pretty lips …yum-yum. popular song of the 1870s.

[Page 239, line 10] gig-lamps spectacles. Philip Holberton notes that in Schooldays with Kipling (Gollancz 1936, p. 21) G.C.Beresford, the original of M’Turk, writes:

As Kipling was the only boy in the school wearing glasses, he required a nickname to emphasise the peculiarity…the laundry-cart man, who seeing our hero, asked: ‘Who’s they old gig-lamps?’ The name was immediately adopted with acclamation; but for everyday use use it was shortened to ‘Gigs’ or ‘Gigger’”.

Throughout his book Beresford refers to Kipling as “Gigger”. He admits that Kipling also had the nickname of “The Beetle”, but ‘this appellation was current only among a few’ (p. 21). [P.H.]

[Page 239, line 12] Didn’t I Eric’ ’em? didn’t I use Farrar’s attitudes on them? See note on page 49 line 26.

[Page 241, line 21] par-ergon a by-work, any work subsidiary to another.

[Page 243, line 20] Dolabella & Co. Dolabella was an associate of Verres, whom Cicero was attacking in this speech.

[Page 244, line 19] frabjously taken from the “Jabberwocky” poem in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, and made into an adverb. See the note to page 77, line 12.

[I. Q.]