From Sea to Sea XXXII

(notes by David Page with considerable help from the 2003 work of D.H. Stewart in editing ‘Kipling’s American: Travel Letters, 1889-1895’, and of the ORG Editors)


Of the American Army and the City of the Saints. The Temple, the Book of Mormon, and the Girl from Dorset. An Oriental Consideration of Polygamy.

Publication History

The edited text largely corresponds with that first published in the Pioneer of 3 February 1890.

Maps and Journey

For this section of Kipling’s travels, see the 1895 maps for Montana, Idaho and Utah,

Kipling travels from Livingston (Montana) to Salt Lake City (Utah). The route is not described, but as far as this Editor can work it out, the most direct way is by Northern Pacific Railroad back to Helena, and then switching to the Union Pacific Railroad to travel south via Butte, Pocatello, and Ogden to Salt Lake City.


Notes on the Text

[Epigraph, Page 114] A fool also is full of words: . . . from The Bible, Ecclesiastes 10,14.

[Page 114, line 15] West Point is the United States Military Academy, fifty miles north of New York City on the west bank of the Hudson River.

[Page 115, line 4] sucking Moltke this Editor thinks it most probable that “sucking” is in fact a misprint and should be “suckling”, ie a youngster who will become an expert like von Moltke.

Count Helmut von Moltke (1800-1891), was head of the Prussian Army and a major military strategist of the late nineteenth century.[D.H.S.]

[Page 115, line 20] Washington in the District of Columbia is on the eastern side of the U.S.A. on the Potomac River. It should not be confused with the State of Washington on the western seaboard and the Columbia River which Kipling visited earlier in this 1889 tour.

[Page 115, line 31] the Grand Army of the Republic was a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army who served in the American Civil War.

[Page 116, line 4] shiveree or ‘shivaree’ in the USA is a noisy salutation to a newlywed couple by a crowd of friends and neighbours.

[Page 116, lines 11 & 12] narrow-gauge line used particularly in the western mountainous region of the USA. Narrow-gauge was usually 3ft 0in (91 cm) as against the standard-gauge of 4ft 8½in (138 cm). This contrasts with the different gauges used in India with which Kipling was familiar:

  • broad – 5ft 6in (168 cm)
  • metre – 3ft 3.4in (100 cm)
  • narrow – 2ft 6in (76 cm)
  • narrow – sometimes 2 ft (61 cm)

[Page 116, line 12] Salt Lake in Utah. The Union Pacific Railway runs down the eastern side of the Great Salt Lake through Ogden to Salt Lake City.

[Page 116, line 13] line between Delhi and Ahmedabad in India. This was the main line that skirted the Great Indian Desert in Rajputana (Rajasthan).heading towards Bombay (Mumbai). On a May day it would have been exceedingly hot and uncomfortable, as Kipling and his readers knew well.

[Page 116, line 29] Bannack City trail Bannack in Montana was for a short time named as the first Territorial capital of that State in 1864. This followed the discovery of gold on Grasshopper Creek.See the Bannack web-site.

[Page 117, lines 10 & 11] Mr. Phil Robinson … Sinners and Saints was a brother (1847-1902) of Kipling’s Civil and Military Gazette Editor and friend, E.K. Robinson. He was Assistant Editor of the Pioneer in Allahabad on which Kipling worked for the last two of his years in India.

Phil Robinson wrote books on India: including In my Indian Garden (1878), Under the Punkah (1881), and Tigers at Large (1885). He also wrote Sinners and Saints: a Tour across the States and round them with Three Months among the Mormons (1883).

[Page 117, line 12] Mormon a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. It was founded by Joseph Smith Jr. in 1830, who on his death was succeeded by Brigham Young.

It was noted in Kipling’s day for its culture of polygyny – one husband with several wives. Joseph Smith had thirty-four wives, several of whom had previously been married to other men,

[Page 117, line 20] a burnt bridge Kipling refers to this event in a letter to Irving Bacheller of 8 January 1896 where: ‘I lived on drummer’s samples of fancy confectionery.’ [Pinney, Letters, vol.2. p. 224] See also the note to No.33 page 140, line 13.

[Page 117, line 28] Mayor of Ogden the first non-Mormon mayor of Ogden, Fred J. Kiesel, was elected in 1889.

[Page 117, line 31] Logan in Utah is about 35 miles north of Ogden.

[Page 118, line 32] polygamy is the generic term for a person having multiple spouses. In Kipling’s Kim, the Woman of Shamlegh, having several husbands, is practising polyandry. Mormon men at that time however could have several wives, i.e. they practised polygyny.

[Page 119, line 18] Deseret in 1849 the Mormons proposed a provisional state called Deseret, but the US Congress denied recognition. The name is still widely used in Utah.[D.H.S.]

[Page 120, line 10] commination service In Christian churches a ‘commination’ expresses God’s anger and judgements against sinners; to be used on the first day of Lent, the period on penitence leading up to Easter. The flavour of it can be found from the following:

Cursed is he that smiteth his neighbour secretly.
Cursed is he that lieth with his neighbour’s wife.
Cursed is he that taketh reward to slay the innocent.

[Page 120, line 32] gutters of fresh water a system of gutters ran irrigation water through the city.[D.H.S.]

[Page 121, line 12] Brigham Young (1801-1877) was President of the Church of the Latter-day Saints from 1847 until his death. He played a leading role in the transfer of the Mormons from Missouri to Illinois and finally to Utah. He had fifty-five wives.

[Page 121, line 16] Amir of Afghanistan Abdur Rahman Khan, was seen by Kipling at Rawalpindi in April 1885 when he was attending a Durbar with Earl Dufferin, Viceroy of India at the time. Kipling wrote a series of ten articles for the Civil and Military Gazette under the title “To meet the Ameer”. See Kipling’s India: Uncollected Sketches 1884-88 edited by Thomas Pinney.

Like Brigham Young the Amir was not a man to be trifled with.

[Page 121, line 21] Book of Mormon the first of the sacred books of the Latter-day Saints. Its source was claimed by Joseph Smith to have been revealed to him in 1827, the source being engraved on golden plates which had been buried in a hill near Manchester, New York. The text was in unknown characters, but a translation was made and the book in English was published in 1830. Kipling’s sceptical views are clearly stated further on in this chapter.

[Page 121, lines 22 & 23] Some day the Temple will be finished It was opened to the public and dedicated in April 1893.

[Page 122, line 21] Hyrum Smith (1800-1844) was an elder brother of Joseph Smith and also a leader of the Mormon Church.

[Page 123, lines 24 & 25] bestead situated or placed. The phrase means that the brothers had a more difficult task.

[Page 124, line 27] cottar A peasant, especially in the Highlands, who occupies a cottage and rents a small plot of land.

[Pages 124 & 5, lines 33 & 1] Zion Mercantile Cooperative Institute should be the “Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institute”. This department store was founded by Brigham Young in 1866.

[Page 126, line 5] I don’t think its going on much longer. The US Congress had legislated against polygamy in 1862, but this was ignored in Utah until 1890, when Mormon President Wilford Woodruff declared that polygamy should be abandoned.

[Page 126, line 14] rice-Christian This term is used to refer to people who convert to Christianity out of a need for survival, rather than from a genuine desire to embrace the Christian faith.

[Page 126, line 24] Runjit Singh or Ranjit Singh (1790-1839) was the Sikh ruler of the Punjab from 1801 to his death.

[Pages 128 & 129, lines 33 and 1] ‘but for the grace of God there goes Richard Baxter’ Baxter (1615-1691) was an English Puritan churchman. He was reputed to be the author of this phrase, uttered when he saw a thief going to be executed. However, there is some doubt about the accuracy of this attribution.

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