ORG Volume 5, page 2571 records the first appearance of this item as ‘Uncollected No. 239’ in The St. George’s Gazette, the regimental magazine of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers (the 5th Foot) in 1902, collected in the Sussex Edition volume 30, page 253, and in the Burwash Edition volume 23.(Confusingly enough, ORG then gives it the Uncollected Number 268 on page 2617 ‘just for the sake of the record of date’).
The verse beginning ‘Underneath that kunkar dry …’ is noted in ORG’s Verse volume at page 5488 as Verse No. 1230A collected as above.
Kipling reminisces about the regiments and soldiers he knew in Lahore when he was on the staff of the Civil and Military Gazette from 1882 to 1887, The Pioneer at Allahabad from 1887 to 1889, and later in South Africa in the Second Boer War of 1899-1902.
It is an extraordinary pot-pourri of memories with many references to places and dead men which would probably have been understood by contemporary readers but after a hundred years, the general reader will have some difficulty; however, we have traced some and will welcome suggestions for the rest.
Charles Carrington (page 110) notes that the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers (Kipling calls them “The Tyneside Tail Twisters”) were stationed at Mian Mir from 1886 t0 1888. They can be identified in a number of the soldier stories. They did not serve in Burma. He encountered the 31st East Surreys at Allahabad: ‘a lively corps of cockneys’
(Carrington page 115). See also KJ 130/13 for an article by R. E. Harbord on ‘Mulvaney’.
Kipling and his family spent winters in South Africa from 1900 to 1908, staying in “The Woolsack”, a house made available to them by Cecil Rhodes, adjoining ” Groote Schuur”, Rhodes’ Cape Town estate, on the lower slopes of the Table Mountain Range.
See KJ 024/105 and 120, 032/104. 036/104. 056/24, 085/03, 093/17, 107/07, 242/23, 242/16 and 321/33.
For Kipling’s activities during the South African War see:
- Julian Ralph, War’s Brighter Side
- Something of Myself Chapter VI
- Charles Carrington. Chapter 13
- “Kipling and the British Army in India” by Charles Carrington
- “My Personal Experience with a Lion” (Uncollected No. 238A), telling of a holiday in South Africa and an attempt to rear a lion cub; a possible echo of the explorer David Livingstone being mauled by a lion in 1843, mentioned in “Their Lawful Occasions” in Traffics and Discoveries page 125
- ‘War or Battle’ and ‘South Africa’ in Themes in Kipling’s Works in this Guide
- An important article “Attacking the Boers in the Style of Kipling Sahib” by Dr. K. St. John Damstra in KJ 329/10
- Kipling’s letters to Sir Maitland Hall Park (a former colleague on the Pioneer) KJ 331/4
- KJ 321/33 for a memorial plaque donated by the Society at the Woolsack in 2006 with a photograph of those present at the ceremony. The house is now a residence for graduates at the University of Capetown.
The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
The Northumberland Fusilers is now incorporated in The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers formed on St. Georges Day, 23 April, 1968 from:
- The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers – 5th of Foot
- The Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers – 6th of Foot
- The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) – 7th of Foot
- The Lancashire Fusiliers – XXth of Foot
Some further reading
- Charles Allen Kipling Sahib, Little Brown 2007, Chapter 5
- Pakistan and the Karakoram Highway, Lonely Planet, 7th Edition, 2008
Notes on the Text
The Old Regiment In his ORG article (vol 1 p. 13) Carrington identifies them as the East Lancashires (the 59th Foot).
Kipling lived there with his parents from 1882 to 1887, when he was on the staff of the Civil and Military Gazette. The city and surroundings are the scene of part of Kim and a number of the other Indian stories.
the 8th The King’s Regiment of Foot, also referred to diminutively as the 8th Foot and 8th King’s, was an infantry regiment of the British Army, formed in 1685 and later retitled the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment. With the 30th (Cambridgeshire) Regiment of Foot, formed in 1702, it was amalgamated into The East Lancashire Regiment (Kipling’s “Ould Regiment”) in 1881.
Cholera and fever see Dr. Gillian Sheehan’s article on Cholera.
kunkar a coarse kind of limestone which Hobson-Jobson (page 496) calls unkur or conker.
Here is to be found Harmandir Sahib, also known as The Golden Temple. See “In the Presence”
(page 217 line 21) and “Hunting a Miracle”, vol II, page 382, line 21.
Lawrence Hall Gate Sharad Keskar writes: ‘named after John Lawrence (Lawrence of Punjab) (1811-1879) first Baron Lawrence and brother of Sir Henry Lawrence of Lucknow. Henry died 1857. John was lieutenant-governor of Punjab and later Governor General of India. ‘[S.K.]
Martini-Henry Rifle A rifle with the breech mechanism invented by Frederic Martini (1832-1897) and the barrel developed by Benjamin Tyler Henry. (hence ‘Martini-Henry’) The weapon is an important item in “Black Jack” in Soldiers Three.
Lawrence Hall Lawrence Gardens’ Hall, built about 1862, was expanded to form two buildings – the Lawrence Hall and the Montgomery Hall. named after two governors of the Punjab, Sir John Lawrence and Sir Robert Montgomery. The two buildings were later amalgamated.
quinine A drug used in the treatment of malaria – See Dr.Gillian Sheehan’s ‘Kipling and Medicine.’.
sherry and bitters It would be a barbarous practice for a man of any judgement to add ‘bitters’ (angostura, for flavouring drinks) to a fine sherry, but the ‘sherry’ usually found in India at that time, was not always the real thing. In a Lahore Officers’ Mess full of rowdy subalterns, the addition – within reason – of almost anything, might have heightened the flavour or the effect.
Quarter-guard The main security for a camp or garrison; see “With the Main Guard” (Soldiers Three).
The Banjo A stringed musical instrument played with the fingers. Very popular at the time, it has the neck of a guitar and the body of a tambourine. Kipling celebrated it in “The Song of the Banjo”. See “Haunted Subalterns” for the ‘banjo that played by itself..
shrapnel Artillery shells containing a number of individual bullets which burst in the air over opposing troops; developed by Major-General Henry Shrapnel (1761-1842), when he was a lieutenant in 1784.
Mosque of Wazir Khan a Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan, built around 1634 A.D., during the reign of the Mughal Emperor by Shaikh Ilm-ud-din Ansari, physician to Shah Jahan and later, the Governor of Lahore. He was known as Wazir Khan. (The word wazir means ‘minister’)
Mohurrum The Muslim festival commemorating the martyrdom of Imams Hassan and Hussein the sons of the first Caliph and of his wife Fatima;
see Hobson-Jobson (page 574) and “On the City Wall”, page 339, line 13. [S.K.]
Kashmir Serai serai comes from the the Persian sard meaning a palace. The word came to mean a building for the accommodation of travellers – a large yard with rooms around it, like that described in Chapter 1 of Kim. See also “The Man who would be King” in Wee Willie Winkie, and the first lines of the poem “Certain Maxims of Hafiz”:
If It be pleasant to look on, stalled in the packed serai,
Does not the Young Man try Its temper and pace ere he buy?
Klooque for choice Sergeant Klooque, delighted to have returned from the wars, and dedicated to eating and drinking, was a character in a now little-known light opera by W S Gilbert, called “Creatures of Impulse”.
the Royal Sussex The Royal Sussex Regiment, formed in 1881 from the 35th (Royal Sussex) Regiment of Foot and the 107th Regiment of Foot (Bengal Light Infantry). The regiment was amalgamated with The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment , The Queen’s Own Buffs, The Royal Kent Regiment and The Middlesex Regiment, to form The Queen’s Regiment in 1966.
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you. That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. [Matthew 6,28.]
St. George and the Dragon St. George is patron saint of England and some other countries; – the legend that he killed a dragon (right) is believed to signify the triumph of Good over Evil, [Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable].
writter … Elephant Lines Sharad Keakar writes: ‘Every Raj cantonment had its Civil Lines. The Elephant Lines could well be the road or area in Lahore which passed or contained the elephant stables. The Mughals used elephants and the Raj too for moving its heavy artillery. Bear in mind that Kipling was in Lahore less than 40 years after it fell to the British following the defeat of the Sikhs in 1849.
Kipling was linguistically sensitive and recorded all the various mispronunciations of the people he met eg “Lan’nin” for London and “Yopra” for Opera. One of Calcutta’s famous palatial buildings was the Writers Building, where the East India Company’s clerks worked and were called “writers”, and I have heard it referred to as “Ritters Building”.
It is also likely that the Elephant-lines was taken over by freelance “writters” who wrote letters on behalf of illiterate applicants–remember some of the British soldiers were illiterate too. Also you will recall Kim using the services of such an one. In Bombay they sat on the pavements outside the Law Courts for appellants and I seem to recall “writter” derived from “written”–“my application was written by the writter”. Of course, while there is truth in all I say, ultimately, it is conjecture.’ [S. K.]
Piffers The Queen’s Own Corps of Guides raised in Peshawar by Lt. Harry Lumsden in December 1846, comprising one troop of cavalry and two companies of infantry. The Corps of Guides was part of the Frontier Force Bigade, which developed into an elite formation,
The Guides were famous for being the first unit in the Indian or British Armies to dress in khaki and, increased to all arms, are now an important part of the Pakistan Army. See George John Younghusband
The Story of the Guides
, (Macmillan 1911), and “The Ballad of East and West”:
Ha’ done! ha’ done! ” said the Colonel’s son. ” Put up the steel at your sides!
Last night ye had struck at a Border thief – to-night ‘t is a man of the Guides! ”
Baoli Lehna Singh Sharad Keskar writes: Malapropisms are very much in the ball court of anyone trying to pick up a foreign language. I’d assumed that RK misheard the first word and so gave us a plausible entry. If baoli is right, there is a Hindi word baolee which is a drag–a thing or animal with which dogs, hawks etc are taught to hunt. So baolee dehna is ‘to initiate or train’. But RK wrote lehna. Lehna = take, and dehna=to give. Either/or makes sense in the context. But the thought of Mr Singh providing an object or animal for pig-sticking practice could make this the better entry. The word baolee is flexible. It also means a large well into which people descend by steps to get water and which RK would refer to as a ‘tank’. [S.K.]
pig-stick ‘Pigsticking’ is hunting by spearmen on horseback, using a specialised boar spear. A dangerous sport mentioned in some of the Indian stories. See “Cupid’s Arrows” page 62, Heading:
Pit where the buffalo cooled his hide,
By the Hot sun emptied, and blistered and dried…
trooped the Colours a spectacular military parade when the Colours are displayed to the regiment. See “The Mutiny of the Mavericks” page 223, line 19.
heat-apoplexy see Dr. Gillian Sheehan’s “Kipling and Medicine”, and “In the Matter of a Private”, Soldiers Three, page 81, line 24.
Cockney regiment Probably the 31st East Surreys, ‘a London-recruited regiment of skilful dog-stealers’ (Something of Myself, page 55) Now incorporated in the Queen’s Regiment See their web-site. )
Kimberley city in South Africa, capital of the Northern Cape near the confluence of the Vaal and Orange Rivers. Kimberley has historical significance from its diamond mining past and its siege during the Second Boer War.
Bloemfontein capital of the Free State Province of South Africa as well as one of the nation’s three capitals, being the judicial capital. See Julian Ralph, War’s Brighter Side for Kipling’s activities on the local newspaper The Friend of Bloemfontein.
Umballa now known as Ambala, city and District in the state of Haryana, India, on the border of the states of Haryana and Punjab in India. There is still a garrison in the cantonment. It is the scene of an important part of Kim (Chapter 2 )
twelve-anna gallop ORG defines this as a friendly race for small stakes, or a gallop at three-quarter speed, there being 16 annas to the rupee. (The rupee is now divided into 100 paises but the anna is occasionally used.)
Orange River Colony created after the occupation (1900) and annexation (1902) of the independent Orange Free State in the Second Boer War. The colony was absorbed into the Union of South Africa as Orange Free State Province in 1910.
Doctor Brydon at Jellalabad (the spelling varies) Town near the Kabu River and Khyber Pass – one of the most important positions in Afghanistan, for it dominates the entrances to the Laghman and the Kunar valleys; commanding the routes to, Chiteral and the Kabul-Peshawar road.
This is a drunken joke in rather poor taste, as William Brydon CB (1811-1873), assistant surgeon in the British East India Company Army during the First Afghan War was the only European of the Kabul garrison of 4,500 men to reach safety in the long retreat to Jalalabad, after the revolt of 1841 The garrison included the 4th Foot (The Essex Regiment).
Auld Lang Syne a much celebrated Scottish poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 which goes to a traditional folk-tune, often sung at New Year celebrations, at the end of a dinner, or when a troopship sails. He wrote in ‘Lallans’, the dialect of the Scottish Lowlands, and the title means ‘old times’ (literally ‘Old long since’).
[J. H. McG.]
©John McGivering 2009 All rights reserved