The Solid Muldoon

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 Soldiers Three and Other Stories, as published and frequently reprinted between 1899 and 1950.

[Title] The Solid Muldoon Kipling seems to have taken this title from a ‘Negro Minstrel’ song “Muldoon, the Solid Man” by Edward Harrigan, dating from about 1814. Harrigan is also believed to have been part author of “The Mulligan Guards”, cited in Kim (Chapter 5, page 114, line 21) as the regimental march of the ‘Mavericks’, Kim’s father’s regiment.

[Heading] Did ye see John Malone wid his shinin’ brand-new hat… A four-line verse from the ballad “John Malone” by Robert Williams Buchanan (1841–1901) who also wrote the verse over “Black Jack” later in this volume.

[Page 41, line 2] rifle-butts in this context the mound of earth behind the targets that is supposed to catch the bullets on a rifle range to prevent damage to persons or property. For an account of Kipling under fire in the Mall at Lahore from a rifle-range that was too short for the new Martini-Henry rifles see Andrew Lycett (page 92). For a description of a working rifle-range see “The Parable of Boy Jones” (Land and Sea Tales), and “A Village Rifle Club” in the Sussex Edition (Vol XXX).

[Page 41, line 3] Rampur a popular name, there are some twelve places so called between Bengal and the Punjab. These hounds come from the state some forty miles from Bareilly in the United Provinces.

[Page 41, line 16] bell in this context to roar like a stag in the breeding season.

[Page 42, line 6] Malham Cove A celebrated beauty spot in the Pennine Hills in Yorkshire. Pateley Brigg (Bridge) is a market town on the River Nidd in Yorkshire. Rudyard’s grandfather Joseph had been a Methodist minister in that district.

[Page 42, line 32] cutty a clay pipe with a short stem.

[Page 43, line 1] nullah a ravine or watercourse.

[Page 43, line 5] black ball at Pool a game on a billiards table with various white and coloured balls, that of the highest value being black, as in Snooker today. A clay pipe that has been smoked for a long time will become as black as a black snooker ball.

[Page 43, line 12] ram a cartridge down the muzzle ‘Pop’ Doggle had perhaps not mastered the breech-loading Martini-Henry rifle which was replacing muzzle-loaders about this time, or perhaps Mulvaney was just mocking a slow learner. See “Black Jack” later in this volume.

[Page 43, line 26] Mer-ria probably Maria, a popular name at the time and one of the variants of Mary.

[Page 43, line 27] Corp’ril Corporal – the non-commissioned rank below Sergeant. See the note to Page 50, line 17 below.

[Page 44, line 7] Tin Commandments … Revelly and Lights Out … The Ten Commandments were God’s rules of life brought down from the mountain by Moses in the Old Testament; see Exodus 20. See also the note to “Private Learoyd’s Story” earlier in this volume, page 18, line 9.

‘Reveille’ was the bugle-call to waken soldiers in the morning. ‘Lights Out’ was one of the last calls of the day.

[Page 44, line 8] blew the froth off a pewter A ‘pewter’ was a pint or quart pot made of an alloy of tin and lead used in public-houses and canteens. A pint is just over half a litre, a quart is two pints, a quarter of a gallon. It was the custom to blow the froth off the top of the drink to avoid getting it all over one’s face.

[Page 44, line 18] stripped to him removed upper clothing for a fight.

[Page 45, line 1] Kirpa Tal ‘Tal’ means a lake in the mountains.

[Page 45, line 2] Almorah The chief town of Kumann district in the hills of the same name, and a hill station.

[Page 45, line 27] picket In this context a pointed stake driven into the ground for tethering horses etc .which also makes a handy weapon. See also the note to Page 50, line 23 below.

[Page 45, line 28] fifes musical instruments like small flutes with a very piercing note.

[Page 45, line 30] O’Hara A familiar Irish name, and – incidentally – the surname of Kim.

[Page 45, line 32] Larry O’Rourke an Irish tune. [TheORG annotator thought that this might echo Thackeray’s Larry O’Toole. Suggestions would be appreciated; Ed.]

[Page 46, line 7] “pervarsity of the sect” Perversity of the sex.

[Page 46, line 8] cock in this context, a sideways tilt of his cap.

[Page 46, line 17] blandandherin’ probably a combination of blandishing, philandering and blathering as he endeavours to talk his way into Annie Bragin’s affections.

[Page 46, line 22] blayguard a blackguard – a badly-behaved and vulgar man.

[Page 46, line 30] as white as my belt belts were whitened with blanco or pipeclay.

[Page 47, line 9] a-moors amours – French for love-affairs.

[Page 47, line 13] dhressin’ a dressing-down, usually a verbal rebuke (as in Page 52, line 12) but in this instance a thrashing.

[Page 47, lines 25 – 26] surrindered… honours of war surrendered. Under the ‘honours of war’ a defeated garrison could be permitted to march out unscathed after surrendering.

[Page 49, line 11] philanderin’ philandering – flirting with women

[Page 49, line 20] frozen thief of Genesis [We have not traced this reference; any information would be appreciated; Ed.]

[Page 50, line 6] the canopy av Hivin the canopy of Heaven, a familiar phrase that Mulvaney has slightly misquoted: “…with Angels and Archangels and all the company of Heaven…”. [from the Service of Holy Communion in the Book of Common Prayer.]

[Page 50, line 9] lost the number of his mess died.

[Page 50, line 23] the pickets were dhriven in These pickets are the light troops stationed ahead of the army who monitor enemy movements and rejoin the main body when an attack is imminent, which seems to have been the situation here.

[Page 50, line 27] my stripes the two chevrons on his sleeve indicated his rank of Corporal which would be forfeited if he fought a Sergeant.

[Page 51, line 27] Mister this indicates that Mulvaney understands that the Sergeant temporarily waived his rank so he could fight a subordinate – normally a court-martial offence.

[Page 52, line 17] a cooper roun’ a cask A ‘cooper’ is a barrel-maker. When the cooper is putting the hoops on a barrel he walks round and round it hammering them down.

[Page 53, line 1] Flahy av the Tyrone Mulvaney served in this regiment and would probably known him, but Kipling seems to have mixed up the dates of these imaginary characters and events.

[Page 52, line 17] the Corner Shop the canteen. A ‘Corner-shop’ in an English town is a small shop on the corner of two streets.

[Page 53, line 10] Purgathory Purgatory, in the Roman Catholic Church a place for the souls of those who have died in a state of grace to expiate their venial (minor rather than mortal) sins.

[Page 53, line 23] Father Victor he appears in several of Kipling’s stories and plays an important part in Kim.

[Page 54, lines 4 & 5] Eyah ! …the times that was… an echo of Horace, Odes, XIV, 1. “Eheu fugaces …Labuntur anni. (“Ah me, …. The fleeting years are slipping by”).

[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2005 All rights reserved