Music for
the Middle-aged

(notes by Philip Holberton, drawing on the researches  of Andrew Rutherford and Thomas Pinney)


The Civil and Military Gazette for 21 June 1884 included a letter by Kipling, under the pseudonym “Jacob Cavendish. M.A”, on the inappropriateness of English drawing-room ballads to life in India, and on the need to devise alternatives. It is to be found in the first of Kipling’s scrapbooks of press cuttings of his own work, now among the Kipling Papers at the University of Sussex.

It was never collected by Kipling but is to be found in Rutherford (p. 220) and Pinney (p. 1726).

A final paragraph introduced the idea of more appropriate nursery rhymes for Anglo-Indians, with an example – “I had a little husband” – which Kipling used in Echoes, by Two Writers. See “Nursery Rhymes for Little Anglo-Indians”.

Notes on the Text

[Para 1] understanded of the people a quotation from the Thirty Nine Articles in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. In his childhood at Lorne Lodge in Southsea Kipling had become closely acquaintanted with prayerbooks under the rigorous rule of his evangelical foster-mother, Mrs Holloway.

[Verse 1] A parody of the best-known verse from Tennyson’s poem “Maud”:

Come into the garden, Maud,
For the black bat, night, has flown,
Come into the garden, Maud,
I am here at the gate, alone;
And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
And the musk of the rose is blown.

Punkah a large swinging cloth used as a fan in India, pulled backwards and forwards by a servant.

nauker-log servants.

[Verse 2]

Twickenham Ferry song by Theo Marzials with the refrain:

O-hoi-ye-ho! Ho-ye-ho! Who’s for the ferry?
(The briar’s in bud, the sun’s going down)
It’s late as it is and I haven’t a penny,
And how shall I get me to Twickenham town?

Juldee Ao! come quickly!

dak gharri posting carriage.

griffin Anglo-Indian slang for a newcomer to India.

[Verse 3]

In the springtime A parody of a popular drawing room ballad of the 1880s, lyrics by Meta Orred, music by Annie Fortescue Harrison:

In the gloaming, oh my darling,
When the lights are dim and low,
And the quiet shadows falling
Softly come and softly go;
When the winds are sobbing faintly
With a gentle unknown woe,
Will you think of me and love me
As you did once long ago?

rooms are ninety-three the temperature indoors is 93℉ (34℃).

sui generis of their own kind (Latin).

solah topee pith helmet.


©Philip Holberton 2020 All rights reserved