Moti Guj—Mutineer

Notes on the text

These notes, by John McGivering, are partly new, and partly based on the ORG. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Life’s Handicap, as published and frequently reprinted between 1891 and 1950.

[Page 355, line 5] Dynamite a powerful explosive developed by Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) who endowed the Prizes which bear his name, including one for Literature amounting to £7,700 which was awarded to Kipling in 1907 .
(Andrew Lycett p. 379.) The prize also included a gold medal and a diploma. (Charles Carrington, p. 399)

[Page 356, line 7] arrack Arabic arak, a spirit manufactured in India from an interesting variety of materials – see Hobson-Jobson p. 36, and Seeing the Elephant by Eric Scigliano (Bloomsbury Publishing, Plc., 2006, first published in Britain as Love, War and Circuses 2004), p. 314.

[Page 356, line 8] palm-tree toddy a corruption of Hindi tari – the fermented sap of various palm-trees, etc. See Hobson-Jobson, p.927.

[Page 356, line 13] horse, foot or cart the civilian equivalent of the classic ‘horse, foot and guns’ then used to denote all arms of the military.


[Page 356, line 21] kicked him behind the ears the mahout sat on the neck of the elephant

[Page 356, line 30] coir-swab a type of mop made from the husk of the cocoa-nut

[Page 357, line 3] ophthalmia inflammation of the eye.



[Page 357, line 4] ‘come up with a song from the sea’ also misquoted in From Sea to Sea, Vol. 2, p. 133; it comes from the play Becket by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) Two lines from the duet in Act 2, Scene 1:

First Singer: One coming up with a song in the flush of the glimmering red ?
Second Singer: Love that is born of the deep coming up with the sun from the sea.


[Page 357, line 10] orgie now usually spelt ‘orgy’ – in this context, a drunken revel.

draughts in this context, drinks – usually alcoholic.

[Page 357, line 28] lines in this context, the rows of huts or tents in a camp, here probably the former.

[Page 359, line 19] ankus an elephant-goad (right).

[Page 361, line 361, line 19] Kala Nag an elephant of this name also plays an important part in “Toomai of the Elephants” (The Jungle Book)

Nazim perhaps Nazim-ul-Mulk, the hereditary style of the reigning prince of the Hyderabad Territories – see Hobson-Jobson, p. 628.

[Page 362, line 13] an eighty-one ton gun such guns, weighing up to 110 tons had been used in the Royal Navy.

[Page 363, line 16] the inalienable rights of elephants to a long ‘nooning’ a meal or rest at mid-day. Kipling was never very sympathetic to those who insisted on their ‘rights’. ‘Boney’, the trades union agitator horse in “A Walking Delegate” in The Day’s Work, p. 60, speaks of their ‘inalienable rights
to eight quarts of oats a day’

[Page 364, line 4] salaams properly verbal greetings but also a courteous gesture of salute – see Hobson-Jobson, p. 783.

[Page 364, line 8] elephant-language See Chapter IX of Beast and |Man in India by Lockwood Kipling for further information on the belief that elephants came from the furthest East, as some of the words of command are Chinese or Burmese.

Eric Scigliano in Seeing the Elephant (Bloomsbury Publishing, Plc., 2006, first published in Britain as Love, War and Circuses , p.167), notes:

The Karens are renowned as as Burma’s master elephant handlers… even elephants kept by ethnic Burmans learn commands in the Karen tongue.

Some two million Karens live in Burma which has been known as Myanmar since 1989.

[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2006 All rights reserved