South Africa

Notes on the text

(These notes are based on those written by Thomas Pinney for the Cambridge Edition of Something of Myself (1995), with the kind permission of the author, and of Cambridge Univerity Press. The page references refer to the Macmillan Library Edition published in 1937)


[Page 147, line 6] Jameson Raid The abortive raid on the Transvaal in 1895, intended to set off a rising of the English against the Boers, and led by Rhodes’s lieutenant, Dr. Leander Starr Jameson.

[Page 147, line 8] ‘a sound of a going … mulberry trees’ 2 Samuel 5:24.

[Page 147, line 11] Great Queen’s Diamond Jubilee 1897.

[Page 147, line 15] The Times in ’97 July 17, 1897.

[Page 148, line 5] Captain Bagley Corrected to “Captain E.H. Bayly” in later printings. Captain Edward Henry Bayly (1849-1904), whom Kipling had met in 1891 on the voyage to Cape Town (see p. 95). In 1897 and 1898, as Captain of the Pelorus, he took Kipling on manoeuvres with the Channel Fleet. (See the notes on “A Fleet in Being” in this Guide).

[Page 148, line 13] Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914) Colonial Minister, and the political force behind the English commitment to the Boer War.

[Page 148, line 14] South African Verse in The Times Altogether, Kipling published some nineteen poems in The Times, including those on Joseph Chamberlain (“Things and the Man,” August 1, 1904), on Rhodes (“The Burial,” April 9, 1902), and Milner (“The Pro-Consuls,” July 22, 1905).

[Page 148, line 17] winter of ’97 The year was 1898, not 1897: they left Southampton on January 8, and arrived back in England on April 30, 1898 (Caroline Kipling’s diary).

[Page 148, line 19] Wynberg The Vineyard Hotel, in the Cape Town suburb of Newlands, a district of Wynberg, near the Rhodes estate.

[Page 148, line 26] Rhodes They arrived in Cape Town on January 25, and had lunch with Rhodes the next day (Caroline Kipling’s diary).

[Page 148, line 28] Jameson Dr. (afterwards Sir) Leander Starr Jameson (1853-1917). Rhodes’s closest associate and the main agent in the creation of Rhodesia; leader of the notorious Jameson Raid. In consequence of the raid he was imprisoned in England, but returned to the Cape, led the Progressive Party after Rhodes’s death, and was Prime Minister, 1904-8. Kipling says (p. 191) that “If–” was “drawn from Jamesons’ character.”

[Page 150, line 16] paper charged itself with the rest The Daily Mail, at the beginning of the Boer War in October 1899. undertook to raise a “Soldiers’ Families Fund.” For this, Kipling wrote his “Absent-Minded Beggar”, exhorting the public to “pay – pay – pay!” The poem was reprinted, sung, recited, and reproduced in a myriad forms, with a part of the proceeds from performance and sales going to the Daily Mail‘s fund. Kipling writes as though some, at least, of the fund was spent on the soldiers rather than on their families, and perhaps it was.

[Page 150, line 19] Sir Arthur Sullivan Sullivan (1842-1900), the composer now remembered for his comic operas written with Sir W.S. Gilbert.

[Page 151, line 5] R.E. Royal Engineers.

[Page 151, line 20] Bloemfontein just after its capture Kipling left Cape Town for Bloemfontein, the capital of the Orange Free State, on March 19, 1900, a week after the fall of the city to Lord Roberts’s troops.

[Page 152, line 20] Kadir Buksh Kipling’s body servant in India, referred to in several of his stories (sometimes as Kadir Baksh).

[Page 152, line 25] H.A. Gwynne Gwynne (1865-1950), after service as a Reuters correspondent, became editor of the London Standard, and, in 1911, of the Morning Post.

[Page 152, line 26] Perceval Landon Landon (1869-1927) was special correspondent for The Times in the Boer War; he afterwards served as special correspondent on many assignments, including the British expedition to Tibet, for The Times, the Daily Mail, and the Daily Telegraph.

[Page 152, line 27] ‘You’ve got … for the troops’ Roberts, who appreciated the value of public relations, had ordered the correspondents accompanying his army to produce a paper for the troops at Bloemfontein. The local English-language paper, called the Friend of the Free State, was commandeered and put at the service of Gwynne, Landon, Kipling, and others. Kipling contributed to fourteen numbers of the Friend, greatly enjoying himself but not distinguishing himself by the quality or the quantity of his work for the paper.

[Page 153, line 24] Julian Ralph (1853-1903) American journalist on the staff of the New York Sun for many years; he represented the London Daily Mail in South Africa. Ralph’s War’s Brighter Side, 1901, is the fullest account of the Bloemfontein Friend and of Kipling’s part in it.

[Page 153, line 25] a grown son Lester Ralph (1876-1927), who accompanied the army as an illustrator.

[Page 154, line 14] a fringe Artificial hair worn as a fringe on the forehead. The alcohol would be used as a solvent for the adhesive holding the fringe in place

[Page 154, line 26] typhoid in Bloemfontein This is close to the official estimates. See the term “Bloeming-typhoidtein” in Kipling’s “The Parting of the Columns” (The Five Nations).

[Page 155, line 5] ‘dead to the wide’ “Utterly drunk” in Eric Partridge, Dictionary of Slang (8th edn. New York, Macmillan, 1984); the same authority gives the meaning “utterly exhausted” for “done to the wide.” Two phrases so close would presumably change places.

[Page 155, line 10] raw Modder-River Kipling had travelled via hospital train to the battle site of the Modder River in late February 1900. This is the episode just after Paardeberg referred to in the next paragraph.

[Page 155, line 22] Mauser-wound The Mauser, of German manufacture, was the standard rifle of the Boers.

[Page 155, line 27] Paardeberg Boer position along the Modder River where General Cronje was compelled to surrender to Roberts, February 27, 1900. The battle that produced the casualties took place on February 18.

[Page 156, line 7] unknown Philip Sidney’s name “Thy need is greater than mine,” as the dying Sidney is supposed to have said in the now-discredited familiar story.

[Page 156, line 17] ‘Sanna’s Post’ East of Bloemfontein, on March 31, when General Broadwood was ambushed by General De Wet.

[Page 156, line 27] donga A steep ravine or watercourse.

[Page 157, line 7] `bill-stickin’ expeditions’ That is, expeditions sent out to proclaim Roberts’s offer of amnesty to the Boers if they would surrender.

[Page 157, line 12] Lord Stanley, now Derby Edward George Villiers Stanley (1865-1948) succeeded as 17th Earl of Derby in 1908. He was Roberts’s private secretary in South Africa, and as such served as press officer.

[Page 157, line 26] Battle of Kari Siding Kari (or Karee) Siding is about twelve miles north of Bloemfontein; the battle took place on March 28.

[Page 158, line 1] well-known war-correspondent Bennet Burleigh (?-1914), was correspondent of the Daily Telegraph from 1882 and had travelled the world in his profession. His account of Kipling at the battle of Karee Siding appears in Lincoln Springfield, Some Piquant People (London, Unwin, 1924) p. 205.

[Page 159, line 27] Krupp The great firm of German steel and armament manufacturers.

[Page 160, line 7] pom-poms A new word in 1899: echoic coinage used to identify the Maxim automatic quick-firing gun.

[Page 160, line 13] Pretoria That is, capture and imprisonment: Pretoria, the capital of the Transvaal, was a center for prisoners of war.

[Page 160, line 22] Le Gallais Lt. Colonel P.W.J. LeGallais, commanding the mounted infantry. The official history has him out on the right flank of the British forces.

[Page 161, line 7] hangar Usually hanger, “a wood.”

[Page 161, line 13] ‘Maffeesh’ “Dead,” “useless” (Arabic).

[Page 161, line 24] French John Denton Pinkstone French (1852-1925), afterwards Field Marshal and first Earl of Ypres, commanded the cavalry under Roberts. French was the commander at the Battle of Loos in 1915 in which Kipling’s son, John, was killed.

[Page 161, line 25] General commanding the cavalry French himself.

[Page 162, line 8] Tantie Sannie The Boer woman in Olive Schreiner’s

Story of an African Farm


[Page 162, line 11] shot them down as they ran Among the Kipling Papers at Sussex is a clipping from La Tribune de Genève, January 18, 1901, reporting the story that Kipling must mean in this passage. In the newspaper account, Kipling and a group of officers are shot at as they pass a Boer farmhouse. The officers enter to find only women and children in the place; but on searching they discover a young man hiding under a bed. Without further inquiry, they make him mount a horse and ride for his life; then, at a distance of three hundred meters, they bring him down with their carbines.

[Page 162, line 24] concentration-camps As part of his drastic scorched-earth policy, introduced in 1901, Lord Kitchener swept the Boer women and children into “concentration camps.” There some 26,000 died.

[Page 162, line 27] Miss Hobhouse Emily Hobhouse (1860-1926), representing a London relief committee, visited South Africa in 1901 ; her report on the conditions in concentration camps caused a furore in England and led to her deportation from South Africa. There is a monument to her in Bloemfontein.

[Page 163, line 2] `Woolsack’ ‘The Woolsack’ is a modified Cape-style cottage built in 1900 by Rhodes to the designs of Sir Herbert Baker and intended for the use of artists, beginning with Kipling, to whom Rhodes offered it for as long as he wished to use it. ‘The Woolsack’, not far from Rhodes’s house, ‘Groote Schuur’, is now within the grounds of the University of Cape Town.

[Page 163, line 21] De Wet Christian De Wet (1854-I922), commander of the Orange Free State forces, famous for his elusive raiding tactics.

[Page 163, line 23] Smuts Jan Christian Smuts (1870-1950), a law graduate of Christ’s College, Cambridge, was Prime Minister of South Africa, 1919-24 and 1939-48. In the Boer War he commanded the raid into Cape Colony. He was commissioned a general in the British Army during the First World War to command the forces in East Africa and was appointed to the British war cabinet.

[Page 164, line 1] meeting Smuts … during the Great War January 8, 1918.

[Page 164, line 5] Mr. Balfour Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930), statesman and philosopher, first Earl of Balfour. Conservative Prime Minister, 1902-05; a member of the coalition government during the First World War.

[Page 165, line 3] Our own casualties … six times as many Thomas Pakenham, The Boer War (London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979), p. 607, lists them thus: English dead, 22,000; Boer dead, more than 7,000. Of the British deaths, probably the greater part were from disease.

[Page 165, line 16] Magersfontein A British defeat, December 11, 1889.

[Page 165, line 20] Lord Dundonald’s General Douglas Mackinnon Baillie Hamilton Gordon (1852-1935), twelfth Earl of Dundonald.

[Page 166, line 2] we were all beating the air Greatly disturbed by the ineffectiveness of British preparation in the Boer War, Kipling after the war took up the cause of national military training. He founded and largely paid for the rifle club at Rottingdean. But, as he recognizes here, such preparation was irrelevant to the conditions of the First World War.

[Page 167, line 10] from 1900 to 1907 That is, from December of 1900, when their first occupation of ‘The Woolsack’ began, to April 15, 1908, when they left it, never to return.

[Page 167, line 23] Matabele Wars 1893-94 and 1896, enabling the establishment of Rhodesia.

[Page 167, line 28] ‘Little Foxes’ First published in March 1909 (Actions and Reactions). Kipling’s source was Col. Thomas Edgecombe Hickman (1860-1930), Governor of Dongola, 1899-1900.

[Page 168, line 6] once came home with us Jameson twice travelled from South Africa to England with Kipling, in 1902 and 1908. For Jameson’s criminal career, see the note above.

[Page 168, line 19] skilly Northern dialect for “skilled, skillful.”

[Page 166, line 26] the Strubens at Strubenheim Henry William Struben (1840-1915), one of the Rand gold millionaires, lived at Strubenheim (or Strubenholm) with his four sons and four daughters.

[Page 170, line 12] we met him at the foot of the garden Kipling describes this animal’s visit in a letter to Jameson, April 1903 (MS., Dalhousie University).

[Page 172, line 25] ghosts that inhabited the ‘Woolsack’ See Kipling’s “My Personal Experience with a Lion,” Ladies’ Home Journal, January 1902 (collected only in The Kipling Reader for Elementary Grades [New York, D. Appleton, 1912]).

[Page 173, line 19] Scholarships The Rhodes Scholarships to Oxford, established by Rhodes’s will, and open to students from the Commonwealth, the United States, and Germany. Kipling was a trustee of the scholarship fund from 1917 to 1925.

[Page 174, line 26] Palaver done set West African trade English: “that’s enough of that.” See Mary Kingsley, Travels in West Africa (London, Macmillan, 1897), ch. I9, and Kipling’s “The Army of a Dream,” (Traffics and Discoveries, p. 267.