Letters of Marque

Letter VII

(notes edited by David Page)


First Publication

6th January, 1888, in the Pioneer and 11th January, 1888, in the Pioneer Mail.

Background information for these notes

We have found on the Web a useful map of Udaipur city [DP]

Notes on the Text

[Page 52, Heading] the Hat-marked Caste are Europeans who wore hats rather than turbans. In the heat of India a stiff hat makes a ring round the brow. The name originates from the East India Company officers in Calcutta who in the 17th century were the only people who wore hats.

[Page 52, line 2] the Suryavansi belong to the group of Rajput tribes, the Children of the Sun. (For details see the attached note on the Royal Races of Rajput)

[Page 52, line 4] Pichola Lake is the largest of the Udaipur lakes. Maharana Udai Singh II built Udaipur on its northern and eastern shores, and palaces have been built on two of the islands in the lake, Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir. [DP]
[Page 52, line 9] Dobarri a pass in the circle of hills surrounding Udaipur. (See also Chapter IX, page 80, line 22 et. seq.)[DP]

[Page 52, line 10] Girwa is the name applied to the circle of hills around the open valley of the same name in which Udaipur city is located. [DP]


[Page 52, line 13] Temple of Garuda Garuda, variously described as an eagle, hawk, or kite, is the mount of the Hindu god Vishnu. The temple referred to here is in Udaipur, and is part of the Jagdish temple complex. [DP]

[Page 52, line 17] tulwar a sword with a curved blade. [DP]

[Page 53, line 1] matchlock, or smooth-bore the matchlock is a firing mechanism used on a smooth-bore musket (which does not have a rifled barrel). The smooth-bore is hand-loaded with powder (for example from a curled ram’s-horn powder flask – see page 53, lines 13 to 19) and a bullet or shot. The priming pan is also filled with powder, and when the trigger is pulled, the previously-lit coiled fuse (the match) is released to ignite the powder in the priming pan, and hence fire the musket. [DP]


[Page 53, line 10] Mewari the dialect spoken in the Kingdom of Mewar, another name for Udaipur. [DP]

[Page 53, line 11] Multani the dialect spoken at Multan, in the Punjab.

[Page 53, line 23] hubshee hair the hair of the camel’s coat was like that of an ethnic african – i.e., short, black, and curly. [DP]

[Page 53, line 27] Durbar Gardens the Victoria or Minto Hall and the Durbar Hall in Udaipur were both built after Kipling’s visit in 1887. The Durbar Gardens to which he refers are thought to be the Sajjan Niwas, or Gulan Bagh Gardens in which the Victoria Hall was built in 1890, and are just to the south of Lake Palace Road. (See also Chap. VIII, page 72, lines 23 to 31). [DP]

[Page 54, line 13] Akbar (1542-1605) Jehal-ed-din Mohammed surnamed Akbar and known as The Great was the Mogul emperor, 1556-1605. His reign coincided with that of Queen Elizabeth I of England. He was an Empire builder – almost the first to think in terms of Indian nationality. Though a great statesman rather than a soldier, in war Akbar was no mean general, and his personal feats of daring and endurance could be matched by few.


[Page 54, line 12] Raja Maun of Amber cousin by marriage to Akbar. [DP]

[Page 54, line 15] Pertap Singh (or Pratap) the ruler of Udaipur about the mid-16th century when Akbar captured Chitor.

[Page 54, line 16] Selim (1569-1627). Succeeded his father – Akbar. His assumed name of Jehangir means Emperor of the World.

[Page 54, line 17] Toork ‘Moghul is the name given in India to natives of Central Asia. I learnt afterward to call them, as they called themselves, “Toork.” ’ [Central Asia : Travels in Cashmere, Little Thibet and Central Asia by Bayard Taylor (1874), Chap XL, “Detention at the Frontier”.]

See also Flora Annie Steel, India Through the Ages, pp.123, 240:

“Surely no land on globe has suffered so much from invasion as Hindustan. There is one cry of terror which from time immemorial has echoed out over Northern India. ‘The Toork! The Toork!’ rises the cry and in an instant jewels are torn off and hidden and with a wild prayer to some god for protection, the ultimate atom of India awaits destruction or dishonour or death in apathetic despair. It must have needed a bitter biting to have engraven this fear so indelibly on the Hindu heart.” [DP]

[Page 54, line 18] Huldighat the pass of Haldighat near Gogunda. Rana Pratap had a tough time fighting the Mughals with no capital and with his neighbouring chiefs allying with the Mughals. In April 1576, the Mughals led by Man Singh of Amber and Asaf Khan invaded Mewar and a battle at the pass of Haldighat near Gogunda was fought. Rana Pratap was defeated and managed to escape to the hills, with his devoted chief Jhala taking over the charge as Rana Pratap. Rana Pratap continued the wars and recovered most of the territories before he died in 1597. His son Amar Singh took over from his father and continued fighting for the territories and finally was defeated by Man Singh in 1599. After that Akbar did not undertake any invasion of Mewar due to his illness. [DP]

[Page 54, line 21] Chytak is shown in all pictures of Huldighat’s battle with one leg raised on his opponent’s elephant, trying to help his rider.

[Page 54, line 23] Jehangir see line 16 above.

[Page 54, line 31] the gate of the Sun Suraj Pol (Sun Gate), a gate (part of the old city’s original eastern wall), facing the rising sun (Surya), now within the present-day area of Bapu Bazaar. [DP]

[Page 55, line 7] octroi a tax levied at the gate of a town on persons and goods.

[Page 55, line 17] Jullundur (or Jalandhar). A town in the Punjab.

[Page 55, line 18] Alexander the Great (356-324 B.C). King of Macedon in northern Greece. In B.C. 327 he crossed the Hindu Kush and invaded India. However, he did not cross the Sutlej River, so he is unlikely to have had much to do with Jullundur.

[Page 55, line 25] cholera an acute infectious disease characterised by copious diarrhoea, (rice-water stools), and vomiting leading to such severe dehydration that it kills the patient in 75% of untreated cases.
[See Dr Gillian Sheehan’s article on Kipling and Medicine”]


[Page 55, line 27] Neemuch Cantonment or Nimach is a town about 100 miles ESE of Udaipur in which a British military cantonment was located. [DP]

[Page 55, line 31] kuttars or kattars are a type of short punching sword used in northern India. It is notable for its horizontal hand grip, which results in the blade of the sword sitting above the user’s knuckles.
[Page 55, line 31] khandas the khanda is a native Indian sword, traditionally associated with the Rajputs. It is a double-edged straight sword. The blade is usually broad and quite heavy, and broadens from the hilt to the tip. The blade transforms into tip rather abruptly, somewhat resembling the tips of ancient roman swords. The hilt has a small metal spike coming out in the opposite direction which is typical of khanda. Unlike the European straight swords, khanda is not a weapon meant for thrusting. It is a hacking weapon designed to do the damage by the sheer force of its heavy blade.

The Rajput warrior’s love for his khanda was strong, and many Rajput households had a tradition of worshipping khanda on the occasion of Dussera, the traditional Hindu festival of martial celebrations.
[See Wikipedia.]

[Page 56, line 19] dacoities robberies by bands of dacoits, or armed gangs. [DP]


[Page 56, line 26] Tod James Tod (1782-1835) , author of Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan.

See the attached article for more biographical information from the Dictionary of National Biography)


[Page 57, line 10] The Bhil an ancient tribal people who live at the western end of the Vindhya Mountains in Central India. See “The Tomb of his Ancestors” (The Day’s Work). In that story Kipling called them:

…perhaps, the strangest of the many strange races in India…The races whom we call natives of the country found the Bhil in possession of the land when they first broke into that part of the world thousands of years ago. The books call them Pre-Aryan, Aboriginal, Dravidian and so forth; and in other words that is what the Bhil call themselves. When a Rajput chief, whose bards can sing his pedigree backwards for twelve hundred years, is set on the throne, his investiture is not complete until he has been marked on the forehead with blood from the veins of a Bhil…the Bhil knows that it is the last shadow of his old rights as the long-ago owner of the soil.

[Page 57, line 15] Zulu one of the great tribes of Southern Africa – perhaps the most warlike. Here it suggests a primitive civilization.
Zulu click ‘click’ sounds occur in several languages, mainly among the peoples of Southern Africa, including the Zulu, and the Xhosa.

[Page 57, line 18] Jugdesh Temple Jagdish Temple, or Jagdish Mandir. A temple to Vishnu. It is about 150 yards north of the City Palace complex on the shore of Lake Pichola. [DP]
Juggat Singh the second of that name, called the “Lion of the World”; this one was the son of Sangram Singh, the “Lion of Battle”, who was the model of Rajput chivalry and died in 1734. He ruled for 18 years and was much admired by Tod. Both Juggat Singhs ornamented Mewar, with their buildings, most of which brought in the name: for example, the Jugnewas palace, the Jugmunder. Juggat Singh also reigned for 18 years and the triple alliance with Amber and Jodhpur was renewed.

[Page 57, line 21] Jain The Jains are members of a non-Brahminical sect, with doctrines resembling those of Buddhism. Jainism is an important religion though never of Rajasthan’s rulers; its followers come from the trading class and wealthy section of society. [DP]

[Page 57, line 29] Garuda Vishnu’s mount. See the note to page 52, line 13. [DP]

[Page 57, line 30] Mahadeo the great god of the Hindu Trinity, is another name for Shiva. (See the note to Chap. IV, page 24, line 7.) [DP]

[Page 57, line 31] Ganesh popular Hindu god of Wisdom and Prudence – a son of Siva. He is depicted with an elephant’s head.

[Page 58, line 16] Minton tiles decorative tiles made by Minton & Co in Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, in the Midlands of England. [DP]

[Page 58, line 31] Pichola Lake is the largest of the Udaipur lakes. See the note to page 52, line 4. [DP]

[Page 59, line 10] Five Rivers the Punjab is named for the “five (great) rivers” – Indus, Jehlum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej, the combined waters of which flow into the Indus and on into the sea to the south-east of Karachi.


[Page 59, line 16] Dutch tiles Blue and white ‘Delft’ tiles, with windmills and other scenes from the Netherlands.

[Page 59, line 23] Pranzini Henri-Jacques-Ernest Pranzini (1856-1887). Born in Alexandria, Egypt, he was employed by the Egyptian postal service. He met and eventually killed the courtesan Claudine-Marie Regnault, also known as the Règine de Montille, as well as two other women. He was guillotined on 31 August 1887. This crime would probably have been completely forgotten if a nun, Sister (later Saint) Thérèse of Lisieux, had not decided to pray for him in order to save his soul from damnation. [DP]


[Page 59, line 26 to page 60, line17] the ‘second pool’ and the ‘narrow-arched bridge’. From the descriptions given in this paragraph, it is thought that this is the bridge which crosses between the small Swaroop Sagar (or lake) and the head of the Pichola Sagar. A road passes from Udaipur city from behind the Jagdish temple via the Brahm Pol (gate) towards Sajjangarh, a palace about three miles west of Udaipur in the direction of Rampura. [DP]

[Page 60, line 5] City of the Rising Sun is one of the many descriptive names applied to Udaipur, including ‘City of the Lakes’, and ‘City of Dreams’. It is also said that Udaipur actually means ‘City of the Rising Sun’. [DP]

[Page 60, line 8] Brahmapura although not specifically identified, from Kipling’s description it is clearly located close to the city walls and the end of the bridge. Since there is a city gate called the Brahma Pol (in honour of the God, Brahma) it is considered that the Brahmapura enclosure would have been close to this gate. [DP]

[Page 60, line 9] Brahmins members of the Hindu priestly caste. [DP]

[Page 60, line 10] conches the shells of a marine mollusc used as a trumpet in Hindu religious rites. [DP]

[Page 61, line 3] Victoria Regia a gigantic water-lily, with leaves 5-6 feet (two metres) across. Kipling wrote: ‘The basest of us have an ideal! Mine, cherished since extreme youth, was to see the Victoria Regia lily at home…’ which he succeeded in doing some forty years after his travels in Rajasthan, in the Jardim Botanico do Rio de Janeiro.

[Page 61, line 11] Twelve-bore a shot-gun usually with two barrels – the phrase refers to what would be the calibre in a rifle, but is arrived at in quite a different way. It originally corresponded to the diameter of a spherical lead bullet, twelve of them weighing one pound avoirdupois. If it required 20 of the lead bullets to make one pound they would be correct for a twenty-bore shot gun.

[Page 62, line 3] The Venetian Kipling is thinking of the saying “See Naples and die”.

[Page 62, line 8] trisul of Shiva this is a three-pointed javelin or trident. Shiva, or Siva, is the third of the great Hindu Trinity, and he is represented with three eyes. [DP]

[Page 62, line 14] Abu Mount Abu is a solitary hill about 4,000 feet above sea level and above the neighbouring peaks and therefore cool. It is about 60 miles due west of Udaipur. [DP]

[Page 62, first 15 lines or so] these paragraphs refer to the British ‘Residents’ (diplomats in one sense) attached to the native states, as distinct from those parts of India which at the time were directly administered by Britain. Mostly the Residents were picked men, some from the British Army in India and the Indian Army. When they and their staffs and families went on short leave in India they were more inclined to go to Abu rather than to Simla because it was nearer, more restful, and cheaper.

[Page 62, line 16] the Presidency the reference is to the Bengal Presidency. [DP]

[Page 62, line 21] nullahs A nullah is a steep-sided narrow valley or stream-bed, usually dry but though which torrents can flow very quickly during the occasional heavy rains. [DP]

[Page 62, line 26] Indian Cockney Kipling is here referring to himself and others like him who work in offices in cities. They are “bleached” white as distinct from the bronzed out-door officers who are constantly in the saddle supervising the work being carried out for the good of the country. (See also the note in Chap. VI, page 50, line 3.)

[Page 62, line 29] ‘tiger-men’ some of the men just mentioned who had from time to time to shoot the all too frequent man-eating tigers, as part of their regular job.

[Page 62, line 30] From Bikaneer to Indore this 400 miles trip stretches from the north of the desert to the south of the plateau and covers a good proportion of Rajasthan.

[Page 63, line 4] Pathan The Pathans, a Muslim people, mainly live in the northern part of what is now Pakistan and the lands of the Border tribespeople.
Biluch Men from the hill parts of north Baluchistan.

[Page 63, line 5] Brahui an inhabitant of the hills south of Quetta – west of the River Indus.

[Page 63, line 10] Todgarh is about 80 miles north of Udaipur, by the road from Jeypore to Ahmadabad in the Aravallis, 3281 feet above sea level. The fort there was built by James Tod. [DP]

[Page 63, line 16] M.D. a Doctor of Medicine. Kipling is referring to one of the early medical-missionaries of whom there were many in India in later years.

©A Mason and David Page 2007 All rights reserved