The School Before its Time

Notes on the text

(These notes are based on those originally written by Thomas Pinney for the Cambridge edition of Something of Myself (1995), with the kind permission of Cambridge University Press, and of the author)


[Page 21, line 1] school at the far end of England The United Services College at Westward Ho!, North Devon, founded in 1874 by a group of Indian: Army officers to provide inexpensive schooling for their children in England. It occupied the “twelve bleak houses by the shore” (“Let Us Now Praise Famous Men”) left over from an unsuccessful real-estate speculation and bought cheaply by the school’s governors. (See also the notes by Isabel Quigly and Lancelyn Green on Stalky & Co. in this Guide.)

[Page 21, line 5] Cormell Price, otherwise `Uncle Crom’ Price (1835-1910) was a friend from school-days of Burne-Jones and of Henry Macdonald, both among Kipling’s uncles. Like Burne-Jones, Price was much influenced by his acquaintance with William Morris at Oxford, and was introduced into the Pre-Raphaelite group. From 1863 to 1874 he was Master of the
Modern Side at Haileybury; in 1874 he became the first head of the United Services College and directed it for twenty years.

[Page 21, line 7] three dear ladies They were the sisters Mary and Georgiana Craik, and their friend Miss Winnard, of 26 Warwick Gardens, Kensington. The Miss Craiks were the daughters of the literary scholar George Lillie Craik. Georgiana, later Mrs. May, was a prolific writer of novels. Alice Kipling did not return to India until late in 1880, more than three years after she had left to rescue her son in 1877. Trix appears to have stayed on with Mrs. Holloway for at least some of those years before joining the ladies of Warwick Gardens, with whom she remained until she returned to India in 1883.

[Page 22, line 2] Mr. and Miss de Morgan William De Morgan (1839-1917), who made decorative tiles at his Fulham pottery before turning novelist at the age of 67; in his work as a craftsman he was closely associated with William Morris. His sister Mary Augusta (1850-1907) assisted him in his tile-making and was herself a writer of fairy stories.

[Page 22, line 5] Jean Ingelow (1820-97) A poet of high reputation in her time.

[Page 22, line 6] Christina Rossetti (1830-94) Poet, the sister of Dante Gabri Rossetti.

[Page 22, line 9] Firmilian By William Aytoun, 1854, a parody of the “Spasmod School” of poetry.

[Page 22, line 9] The Moonstone and The Woman in White Both by Wilkie Collins, 1868 and 1860.

[Page 22, line 11] Wellington’s Indian Despatches, which fascinated me As they did Wellington: on re-reading them in his old age, he exclaimed “Damned good! I don’t know how the devil I ever managed to write ’em” (J. St. Loe Strachey, The Adventure of Living [London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1922], 23).

[Page 22, line 14] Spring of ’78 Kipling arrived at the United Services College in early January 1878.

[Page 24, line 3] my first term, which was horrible On January 24, 1878, in Kipling’s second week at the school, Alice Kipling wrote to Price that “this morning I had no letter from Ruddy – yesterday I had four. It is the roughness of the lads he seems to feel most – he doesn’t grumble to me – but he is lonely and down – I was his chum you know, and he hasn’t found another yet…. The lad has a great deal that is feminine in his nature – and a little sympathy from any greater will reconcile him to his changed life more than anything”. (Ms, Baldwin Papers, University of Sussex). For the roughness of the school, see especially L.C. Dunsterville, Stalky’s Reminiscences (London, Jonathan Cape, 1928), ch. 2.

[Page 24, line 17] `all smiles stopped together’ Browning, “My Last Duchess,” line 46.

[Page 24, line 22] Indian Exhibits This episode with his father began in June 1878; it was the first that he had seen of his father since the desolate parting at Southsea in 1871. The Paris visit is described in the opening pages of Souvenirs of France.

[Page 24, line 28] Jules Verne (1828-1905) Writer of tales of fantasy and adventure.

[Page 25, line 5] I hold … in Paradise A distant parody of the opening stanza of Tennyson, “In Memoriam”.

[Page 25, line 11] Souvenirs of France Published in 1933.

[Page 26, line 3] Stalky, M’Turk, and Beetle The names given to the schoolboy triumvirate in Kipling’s Stalky & Co. ‘Stalky’ was Lionel Charles Dunsterville (1865-1946), afterwards Major-General Dunsterville. He was one of the early pupils at the school, and spent, in all, eight years there. ‘M’Turk’ was George Charles Beresford (1864-1938), of Drumlease, Dromahair, County Leitrim. He went out to India as an engineer but returned to study art and became a photographer and antiques dealer. Both Dunsterville and Beresford published accounts of their school days with Kipling: Dunsterville, Stalky’s Reminiscences, 1928; and Beresford, School Days with Kipling, 1936. (See also Isabel Quigly’s notes on Stalky & Co. in this Guide).

[Page 26, line 6] before we were thirteen The first concrete evidence of this triple alliance is Kipling’s poem “The Dusky Crew,” written in 1879.

[Page 26, line 12] never troubled us again Beresford, “The Battle of One against Three”, (Kipling Journal, June 1937, pp. 40-43) gives a very different version of what may have been the same occasion.

[Page 27, line 1] Ruskin John Ruskin (1819-1900), the impassioned voice of artistic conscience in nineteenth-century England.

[Page 27, line 5] `socialisation of educational opportunities’ I do not know the source of the quotation. The idea is that the three divided the work to be done: see “The Impressionists” in Stalky & Co., p. 103.

[Page 27, line 7] Little Hartopp Herbert Arthur Evans (1846-1923), called “Little Hartopp” in Stalky & Co. When asked years later whether he remembered Kipling as a student he replied “Kipling? Yes! Yes! Tiresome little
(Kipling Journal, October 1945, p. 16).

[Page 28, line 3] Adventures of Dunsterforce 1920, an account of Dunsterville’s adventures in command of an improvised force in North West Persia
and the Caucasus, sent to reorganize Russian resistance to the Germans and Turks in 1918. “Dunsterforce” got as far as Baku, but, without support, was compelled to withdraw.

[Page 28, line 16] `lived and loved to destroy illusions’ See “The Propagation of Knowledge” in Debits and Credits, 1926, p. 279

[Page 28, line 25] C– William Carr Crofts (1846-1912), Kipling’s master in English and in classics, the model for ‘King’ in Stalky & Co.

[Page 28, line 28] my House-master Matthew Henry Pugh (1852-1914), mathematics master, caricatured as ‘Prout’ in Stalky & Co.

[Page 29, line 15] Sandhurst or Woolwich Preliminary Examination for The Royal Military College at Sandhurst and the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, as they then were.

[Page 31, line 2] ‘pi jaw’ “To give moral advice to; admonish”; school and university slang from the I880s (Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, 8th edn. [New York, Macmillan, 1984]).

[Page 32, line 23] Third Book Book III, 27, of Horace’s Odes does not refer to Cleopatra; Book I, 37, does.

[Page 33, line 12] The City of Dreadful Night By James Thomson (“B.V.”), 1874.

[Page 33, line 14] Parables from Nature By Mrs. Margaret Gatty, published in five series, 1855-7 I.

[Page 33, line 22] Hiawatha By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1855.

[Page 34, line 10] `as rare things will’ Browning, “One Word More,” line 31.

[Page 34, line 12] Aurora Leigh By Mrs. Browning, 1856; Kipling got his title “The Light that Failed” from this.

[Page 34, line 14] Men and Women By Robert Browning, 1855.

[Page 34, line 22] Atalanta in Calydon 1865: the lines quoted come from near the end of Atalanta.

[Page 35, line 8] `Heathen Chinee’ By Bret Harte, 1870, originally titled “Plain Language from Truthful James”.

[Page 35, line 12] not without intention Something seems to have been deleted before the second paragraph, which refers to “injustices of this sort” without any injustices having been described.

[Page 36, line 1] H– F.W.C. Haslam (1848-1924), classics master at the United Services College, 1874-79, afterwards taught at Canterbury College, Christchurch, New Zealand.

[Page 36, line 6] The Pink ‘Un The Sporting Times, printed on pink paper.

[Page 36, line 14] New Zealand This was at Christchurch, New Zealand, where Kipling called on November 3, 1891.

[Page 36, line 23] School Paper The United Services College Chronicle, defunct but revived expressly for Kipling to edit, which he did through seven numbers, June 1881-July 1882.

[Page 36, line 27] I should learn Russian After leaving Oxford and before taking up his teaching in England, Price had served as tutor in the family of Count Orloff-Davidoff in St. Petersburg.

[Page 37, line 6] Vevey A cigar made in the Swiss town of that name.

[Page 37, line 22] Joaquin Miller Pen name of Cincinnatus Hiner Miller (1841?-1913), slightly fraudulent American poet of the West, who owed much of his reputation to an English vogue for his work. “The Battle of Assaye” is collected in Kipling’s Early Verse, 1900.

[Page 37, line 23] Competition Wallah By George Otto Trevelyan, 1864, a book of sketches evoking post-Mutiny English life in India.

[Page 37, line 27] holiday house at Rottingdean The Burne Joneses bought North End House, on the village green of Rottingdean, Sussex, a few miles east of Brighton, in 1880. Rottingdean was thereafter a center for Kipling, his aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.
(see also Michael’s Smith’s articles on “Kipling’s Sussex” in this Guide.)

[Page 38, line 3] `The bodies . . . of Death and of Birth’ Swinburne, “Atalanta in Calydon”, second choric ode. Kipling moved to ‘The Elms’ in 1897, shortly after the birth of his son John, and remained there until 1902.