The Puzzler

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 Actions and Reactions, as published and frequently reprinted between 1907 and 1950.

[Page 201 line 1] Penfentenyou: he also appears in “The Vortex” (A Diversity of Creatures).

[Page 201 line 3] De Thouar’s first Administration: the name has a French ring to it, but has not been traced.

[Page 201 line 7] two and a half times the size of England: a fruitless search!

[Page 202 line 1] Town: in this context, London.

[Page 203 line 11] Agent-General: Whitaker’s Almanac for 1939 shows a High Commissioner for Canada and Agents-General for the Provinces.

[Page 203 line 12] wire: in this context, a telegram – there were not many telephones at this time.

[Page 203 lines 16-17] pulling Devil … placid Baker: “Pull Devil, pull Baker” – ORG quotes a puppet-show of about 1759 called ‘Pull Tom, pull Nick, pull Baker, pull Devil!’ concerning a baker who kept up the price of bread and was consigned to the flames by the devil.

[Page 203 lines 19-20] Lord Lundie – the Law Lord: one of the most senior judges in Britain; a ‘Lord of Appeal’ and member of the Judicial Council, and a member – through his office – of the House of Lords.

[Page 203 line 29] his Holiness: a form of address usually reserved for the Pope – here used sarcastically. Lundie would have been referred to as His Lordship.

[Page 204 line 4] pay for your own protection: Many countries in what was then the British Empire relied on the Imperial Government for defence, even though some had local volunteer forces.

[Page 204 line 7] Schedule D: a form used by the Inland Revenue for income tax which paid for defence, and the general running of the country.

[Page 204 line 10] Brassey’s Naval Annual: first published in 1886 by Thomas, first Earl Brassey (1836-1918)
Statesman’s Year Book: founded in 1864 and published by Palgrave Macmillan.

[Page 204 lines 12-13] Agent-General…provocateurs: a pun on ‘Agent-General’ which is explained at page 203, line 11 above, and ‘agent-provocateur’ – a police spy who tempts suspected offenders to criminal activity and then denounces them

[Page 204 line 16] Kindergarten: German for ‘Children’s Garden’ – a school for very young children.

[Page 204 lines 17-29] Ties of common funk: a somewhat cynical but probably truthful comment on the voters who paid their salaries! See the notes on the poem “Big Steamers”: If anyone hinders our coming, you’ll starve. Also Fletcher’s remarks on the importance of maintaining a strong navy.

[Page 205 line 16] pale-blue tin: buildings for many purposes were sold in prefabricated form, some of corrugated-iron on timber frames. The ‘tin’ Miniature Range Kipling built at Rottingdean was probably such a building. ( Lycett, p.327.) See also “The Parable of Boy Jones” (Land and Sea Tales).

[Page 205 line 17] Calvinist Chapel: a place of worship of a ‘non-conformist’ Christian church, following the teachings of the Swiss reformer John Calvin (1500-1564).

[Page 205 line 18] organ-grinder: such itinerant musicians were common in England at the time. This organ is a smaller version of the barrel-organ that comes in a hand-cart.

[Page 205 line 19] “Dolly Grey”: a popular song of the Boer War (1899-1902):

Good-bye, Dolly I must leave you
Though it breaks my heart to go.

[Page 206 lines 7-15] an empty villa… etc: a graphic description of what many would see today as a hideous Victorian building – a type that, unfortunately, still exists; it would, though, be warmer and drier than the unhealthy cottages of inferior construction to be seen in many pretty English villages.

[Page 206 line 10] vermiculated stucco work: plaster decorated with wavy lines in imitation of the carved ‘writhing worms’ used in masonry.

[Page 206 line 18] one of the finest araucarias: one of the genus Coniferæ; in England usually A. imbricata – the ‘monkey puzzle’ or ‘Chile Pine’.

[Page 206 line 22] ne plus ultras: ‘no more beyond’ (Latin) – the very best, here used sarcastically.

[Page 207 line 3] me lud: the somewhat affected pronunciation of ‘my lord’ used by barristers when addressing a judge in court.

[Page 207 lines 29 – 30] The ram caught in the thicket: See Genesis, 22, 13:

And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering.

[Page 208 line 13] Academy: in this context, the Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, a self-governing society devoted to the encouragement of the fine arts.

[Page 208, line 14] swell: slang for an important or influential man – here a prominent painter.

R.A.: Royal Academician – a member of the Royal Academy.

[Page 208 line 18] San Juan Viaduct: an invented project.

[Page 209 line 4] Harrow: a leading school for boys established by Queen Elizabeth I with a Charter in 1571.

[Page 209 line 10] five bob: slang for five shillings (25 pence). One pound (twenty shillings) a week was a typical wage for a labourer in those days.

[Page 209 line 27] Michael Angelo: Michael Angelo Buonarroti
(1475-1564) the great Italian sculptor, painter, architect, military engineer, and poet.

[Page 210 line 2] Marron glacés: chestnuts preserved in sugar.

[Page 210 line 19] Gyascutis: a legendary animal of enormous size with longer legs on one side to enable it to graze comfortably on steep mountainsides.

[Page 210 line 28] apples of Sodom: ‘Dead Sea Fruit’; according to legend, fruit that turned to smoke and ashes when picked.

[Page 211 line 8] cameo: a small carving in two colours, in a precious or semi-precious stone, usually as a brooch or ring.
Titus:  Titus Flavius Sabinus Vespasianus (A.D. 48-81) Roman emperor: served in the Roman army in Britain in his youth.

[Page 211 line 23] Fils de Saint Louis, montez au ciel!: ‘Son of St Louis, climb up to the sky’. (French); words spoken by L’Abbé Edgeworth de Firmont to Louis XVI as the latter mounted the steps of the guillotine to his execution in 1793. This helps to explain the reference two lines later to ‘Black Caps’, at line 25.

[Page 211, line 25] Black Caps: in the days of the death penalty, a judge would put a black cap over his wig before pronouncing sentence.

[Page 212 line 9] bells: at that time, they would be bells about the size of tea-cups on a spiral spring arranged on the wall in the kitchen or in the passage outside, for summoning a servant. They were activated by a wire from the bell-pull; see “Brugglesmith” (Many Inventions) and the note in ORG Volume 2, page 1248.

[Page 212 line 20] Avanti ! Orpheus: ‘Go on! Orpheus’, or perhaps ‘Play on!’, as, according to Greek legend, he was a musician who entranced wild animals by his beautiful music.

[Page 212 line 28] cad: an ill-bred person, or one who should know better, behaving in an ungentlemanly manner.

[Page 212 line 30] Woolsack: in this context, the seat of the Lord Chancellor in the House of Lords; legend has it that it was placed there in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (or earlier) to remind the House of the then source of Emgland’s national wealth. Since July 4th, 2006, however, the Lord Chancellor no longer presides over the House of Lords. On that date, The Rt Hon Baroness Hayman took up her duties as ‘Lord Speaker’.

‘The Woolsack’ is also the name of the house in South Africa built by Cecil Rhodes, where Kipling and his family used to stay in the wintertime. [see Something of Myself, Chapter 6, and Carrington p. 305.]
Cadi a civil judge in Moslem countries.

[Page 213 lines 9-10] he had left a lot of little things behind him: an echo of Kipling’s own “Absent-Minded Beggar”, set to music by Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900) – a song which raised some quarter of a million pounds for comforts for the troops in South Africa the Boer War of 1899-1902.

[Page 213 line 31] cave: Latin for ‘beware’ – the schoolboy’s warning of the approach of a master or prefect.

[Page 214 line 19] Justinian: Flavius Anicius Justinianus (483-565) Roman emperor who ordered the codification of Roman Law, which to this day, has strongly influenced the law in Western Europe.

[Page 214 line 23] mastering a brief: Lundie had the happy knack of understanding his instructions very quickly and becoming an instant expert on whatever was the subject of the case before the court; this stands him in good stead now that he is a judge.

[Page 215 line 17] Ceteris paribus: other things being equal (Latin).

[Page 215 line 22] modus vivendi: mode of living (Latin) here, the suggestion of a settlement between parties to a dispute before a court. Penfentenyou is obviously a lawyer, as are many politicians.

[Page 215 line 28] alibi: plea that when an alleged act took place, one was elsewhere.

[Page 216 line 1] lydy: a Cockney rendering of ‘lady’.

[Page 216 line 6] a dead centre: when cranks and piston-rods of a steam-engine are in a straight line and it will not go ahead or astern – see the notes to ·007 (The Day’s Work). Also “The Bold ‘Prentice” (Land and Sea Tales).

[Page 216 line 14] beano: a party.

[Page 216 line 19] swingle-bar: a bar of wood or iron with fittings for traces, etc., which hooks onto a horse-drawn vehicle.

[Page 217 line 13] Punch and Judy: the classic puppet show traditionally performed in a canvas booth at holiday resorts at the seaside. The Dog (line 14) ‘Toby’, does not usually appear today. [See “Toby Dog” in “Thy Servant a Dog”, the first section of Thy Servant a Dog and Other Dog Stories]