From Sea to Sea XXI

(notes by David Page, drawing on the work of the ORG Editors)

Publication History

The edited text largely corresponds with that first published in the Pioneer of 20 November 1889.


This and subsequent chapters on Japan can be followed, albeit with difficulty, at The University of Texas site. .

Notes on the Text

[Epigraph, page 444] Very sadly did we leave it … Although uncollected in any of his books of verse, this is considered to be Kipling’s own work.

[Page 444, line 5] Sterne’s donkey a reference to The life and opinions of Tristram Shandy, gentleman by Laurence Sterne (1713-1768). In chapter CCXXXIII he gives a macaroon to a donkey “to see how an ass would eat a macaroon”, and converses with the animal as if they understand one another.

[Page 445, lines 3 & 4] And lose thy fingers in the tresses of The cypress-slender minister of wine This is from The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám translated by Edward Fitzgerald (1809-1883) appearing thus in the 41st quatrain of 4th and subsequent editions. This poem was introduced to Kipling by the Head as a poem not yet come to its own; at United Services College, when he was sixteen. [Stalky & Co. “The Last Term”]

[Page 445, line6] the Mikado the Japanese Emperor.

[Page 445, line 22] ryot, tehsildar, and bunnia tenant farmer or peasant, native tax-collector, and corn merchant respectively.

[Page 446, line 15] Chatterjee a common Bengali name.

[Page 446, line 15] gig-lamps spectacles, the term also being used by Kipling for the “Beetle” persona in Stalky & Co.. Sir George Engle in the June 2007 Kipling Journal 322/50 notes that:

The earliest citation in the O.E.D. of “gig-lamps” as a slang name for spectacles (as distinct from its literal meaning, the lamps at either side of a gig or two-wheeled one-horse carriage) is dated 1853 and comes from Edward Bradley’s The Adventures of Mr Verdant Green, An Oxford Freshman. Because of his spectacles, Kipling was nicknamed “Giglamps” or “Giggers” as a schoolboy at U.S.C., Westward Ho!

[Page 447, lines 21 & 22] shingled bangs a ladies’ hairstyle where the hair is cut short and straight in the front and follows the shape of the skull. It seems to be better known as a 1920s-30s style, worn under a cloche hat (this Editor thinks).

[Page 447, line 25] chromos or the products of chromolithography which are multi-colour prints. The process is considered to have been originated in Germany in the early 1800s.

[Page 447, line 26] Allen and Ginter a tobacco manufacturing firm formed in Richmond, Virginia, U.S.A. in 1875 by John Allen and Lewis Ginter. It is credited with developing and marketing the first cigarette cards, sets of pictures of—for instance—sports stars, or flowers, which people could collect by buying more cigarettes.

[Page 448, line 12] slop-trousers ready-made trousers from the old English word sloppe, meaning breeches. It originally referred to the baggy trousers worn by seamen. [Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea ed. Peter Kemp]

[Page 448, line 21] Dixi! Latin for ‘I have spoken!’

[Page 448, line 22] Forty-Seven Ronians this phrase contains a typographical error – the last word should be Ronin, not Ronians. The story of the masterless Samurai (or Ronin) is one of the best known in Japan. The tomb is at Sengakuji temple in Tokyo.

Wikipedia, where pictures are also available.

[Page 449, line 1] ‘Om’ and ‘Shri’ ‘Om’ (or ‘Aum’) is the sound of the mystical or sacred syllable from the Indian religions that derive from Hinduism, a sound that is also the focus of meditation in yoga.
‘Shri’ (or ‘sri’) is also of Sanskrit origin, meaning holy, but also used as an honorific title for some of the Gods (Sri Devi, for example).

[Page 449, line 5 et seq] An animal of the name of V. Gay … Kipling very much deplored the graffiti with which tourists, or globetrotters, were then defacing monuments.

[Page 449, line 11] It is the handwriting upon the wall an allusion to Daniel 5,24-30, and the writing that appears upon the wall at Belshazzar’s impious feast, foreshadowing his death.

[Page 449, line 20] hara-kiri the ritual public or private suicide committed by disembowelling oneself. The Japanese usually refer to it by its synonym seppuku, both words meaning ‘belly-cutting’.

[Page 449, line 32] Farsari’s Adolfo Farsari (1841-1898) was an Italian commercial photographer who went to live in Yokohama, Japan in 1873. He specialised in hand-coloured photographic portraits, some of which can be seen at this web-site.

[Page 450, line 1] Deakin’s Deakin Brothers & Co of Yokohama sold ‘Japanese works of art’.

[Page 450, line 7] Hokusai This was Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. In his time he was Japan’s leading expert on Chinese painting.

For Westerners, his best known painting is probably “Mount Fuji Seen Below a Wave at Kanagawa”.

[Page 450, lines 13 & 14] Mofussil a Hindi word for rural areas.


[Page 450, line 18] Colonel Olcott Colonel Henry Steel Olcott (1831-1907) was an American journalist and also co-Founder and first President of The Theosophical Society. (Also see note below on Madame H.P. Blavatsky to line 33)

[Page 450, line 33] Madame Blavatsky Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891) founded, with others, the Theosophical Society in New York in 1875. She resided in India after 1879 and was referred to by Kipling in his autobiography Something of Myself, Chap.III, p.58:

At one time our little world was full of the aftermaths of Theosophy as taught by Madame Blavatsky to her devotees. My Father knew the lady and, with her, would discuss wholly secular subjects; she being, he told me, one of the most interesting and unscrupulous impostors he had ever met. This, with his experience, was a high compliment.


See also Letter No.VII, page 265, line 14.

The Theosophical Society still exists (in 2010) and has its own website.

[Page 451, lines 1 & 2] Mr Caine, M.P. William Sproston Caine (1842-1903) was a Liberal politician who held ministerial office under Gladstone. He was also President of the British Temperance League, who visited India and was one of Kipling’s bêtes noirs.

[Page 452, line 4] never carry anything in other words, a firearm.

[Page 452, line 16] heeled American slang meaning armed, in this case, with a revolver.

[Page 453, line 20] brace-button the buttons on a pair of trousers to which a pair of braces (or suspenders) which pass over the shoulders can be attached. There are usually two on the right-front, two on the left front and two at the centre of the back waistband.

[Page 454, lines 32 & 33] Kamakura … Buddha There is a Buddhist Shrine at Kamakura, a few miles south of Yokohama with an enormous statue of the Buddha. Kipling wrote a poem “Buddha at Kamakura” during a return visit to Japan in 1892

[Page 456, lines 16 & 17] five hundred rupees about £33 pounds then, equivalent to some £2000 today (2010).

©David Page 2010 All rights reserved