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.

[Title] This is taken from 1 Kings 21.

‘And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee a better vinyard than it…. And Naboth said to Ahab, the Lord forbid it me that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.’

[Page 394, line 2] an allegory of Empire As suggested in the headnote, Kipling may well be saying this ironically. On the one hand he identifies the narrator at the end of the story [Page 398, line 32] as the imperial ruler, encroached on by spurious claims. On the other hand, the step by step technique applied by ‘Naboth’ was on a small scale, the the first step in one classic procedure for the imperial acquisition of territory, a concession for trade.

[Page 395, line 2] Pantheon a temple to all the gods, like that in Rome which is now a church.

[Page 395, line 28] sap in this context, the insidious draining away of strength, etc.

[Page 396, line 3] Isabella-coloured a dirty greyish-yellow – see Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable for legendary and probably fallacious explanations. Kipling uses the colour in “Slaves of the Lamp”, Part 1 (Stalky & Co.) and elsewhere.

[Page 396, line 29] feudatory a tenant under the medieval system of land-holding in return for military and other service. See “Young Men at the Manor” and other stories in Puck of Pook’s Hill.

[Page 397, line 11] Krishna an important Hindu deity – see “The Bridge-Builders” (The Day’s Work)

[Page 398, line 10] illicit still an appliance for the unlawful production of spirits.

[Page 398, line 11] Suzerain feudal overlord.

[Page 398, line 21] phaeton a light four-wheeled open carriage.

[Page 398, line 26] ploughed … with sweetmeats… an echo of Judges 9, 45: And Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and he took the city, and slew the people that was therein, and beat down the city, and sowed it with salt.

[Page 398, line 32] Ahab he was very disappointed when Naboth would not sell him the vinyard even though he had offered good terms: ‘and he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.’ When he told his wife Jezebel what had happened, she arranged for Naboth to be stoned to death for blasphemy. [See 1 Kings, 21, 4-29].

[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2006 All rights reserved