The Three Young Men

Notes on the text

(by David Page)

[Page 254, line 1] “Curiouser and curiouser” the opening phrase from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1805), Chapter II, “The Pool of Tears” by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll (1832-1898). At this point in the story, Alice is commenting on her general growth, although John Tenniel’s (1820-1914) drawing shows her with a particularly elongated neck. It is in Chapter V, “Advice from a Caterpillar” that her neck grows so long that the Pigeon mistakes her for a serpent.

[Page 254, line 8] a thirteen-two subaltern 13-2, or thirteen hands and two inches, is equivalent to 54 inches (4ft 6in) at the shoulder of a pony. This suggests a commissioned office below the rank of captain who is about 5ft 6in tall, roughly on a par with Kipling.

[Page 255, line 4-5] a fifteen-one cot down equivalent to 5ft 1 inches to the shoulders, suggesting a height of 6ft overall.
cot down this Editor has been unable to make sense of this phrase. Any suggestions will be welcomed.

[Page 255, line 5] wore a tall hat and frock coat the frock coat, a double-breasted black wool knee-length coat together with a cylindrical black hat were formal morning dress for gentlemen through the reigns of Queen Victoria, and Kings Edward VII and George V.

[Page 255, line 6] begging for coppers begging for pre-decimal one penny coins.

[Page 255, line 6] Horse-Guards is the building in London between Whitehall and the parade ground used for the annual ceremony Trooping the Colour. It is named after the troops who have who have mounted the Queen’s Life Guard on this spot since 1660. The name should not be hyphenated. It is approximately 600 yards from Kipling’s rooms in Villiers Street.

[Page 255, line 8] mounted sentries these are in Whitehall, outside Horse Guards. They are members of The Queen’s Life Guards which is provided by the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.

[Page 255, line 8] reflectors the highly-polished breastplates worn by the Life Guards.

[Page 255, line 25] Neo-Alexandrine this was a ‘cult’ of a supposed return to Greek paganism as in Alexandria in the Hellenistic period of writers like Callimachus. Andrew Lang (1844-1912) had already satirised the movement in The Wrong Paradise (1886), e.g. pages 125-130 concerning Figgins, the ‘Neopagan poet’. [ORG]

[Page 256, line 1] ‘Ethics of the Wood Pavement’ does not seem to be an actual title (it parodies John Ruskin’s Ethics of the Dust), nor can Kipling’s ‘Neo-Alexandrine’ be identified—one of “the long haired literati of the Savile Club”, presumably (see Carrington, page 140). [ORG]

[Page 256, lines 3-4] the Gaiety Theatre At the Aldwych at the end of the Strand in London, this theatre was built on the site of the ‘Strand Musick Hall’ and opened in 1868, about a mile from Kipling’s rooms in Villiers Street. It was being run at that time (1889) by George Edwardes, the current production being the burlesque “Ruy Blas or the Blasé Roué” with Nellie Farren as the ‘star’. In a diary letter to Mrs Edmonia Hill of 3-25 December 1889, Kipling records that on 16 December he dined with Mr and Mrs Walker at the Savoy Hotel and that afterwards:

My party had seats at the Gaiety for Ruy Blas, or the Blasé Roué. I quit— theatres ain’t my shape. I can’t stand ’em—and went home to fight with some more Mulvaney. ( Letters, Volume 1 p. 372).

The ORG suggests that this allusion may have been to the Gaiety Theatre in Simla. However, Kipling’s last visit to Simla had been a year and a half before, in June/July 1888 and so this seems unlikely.
“Oh, bliss!” would be a catch phrase, possibly Nellie Farren’s.

[Page 256, lines 13-14] comforter a long narrow scarf.

[Page 256, line 19] the Brighton election was held on Friday, 26 October 1889. Gerald Walter Erskine Loder won the seat for the Conservatives with 7,132 votes. His opponent, Sir Robert Peel for the Liberals, polled 4,625, thus giving Loder a majority of 2,507 votes. The ‘Neo-Alexandrine’ would have been a Liberal.

[Page 256, line 22] reductio ad absurdum or reduction to absurdity. The proof of a proposition by proving the falsity of its contradictory.

[Page 257, lines 3-4] Haward of Exeter He would presumably be imaginary, but oddly enough Charles Witters Andrea Haward (born 1866) matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford in 1887, took Honours (in Law) in 1888, and was called to the Bar in 1890. He was, in fact, aged 23 at this time.[ORG]

[Page 257, line 9] ekka a small one-horse carriage used in India.

[Page 258, line 3] Guy de Maupassant de Maupassant (1850-1893) was a superb writer of short stories, best known perhaps for “Boule de Suif” (1880), though he also wrote novels such as Bel-Ami (1885). His subjects included stories based on the Franco-Prussian War of the 1870s, tales of horror, and also some of a risqué nature.
Paul Bourget (1852-1935) novelist and critic was exceedingly popular at the time as one of the earliest exponents of the psychological study of character, e.g. Nouveaux Essais de psychologie contemporaine (1885) and his early psychological novels L’Irréparable (1884), Une Cruelle Énigma (1885), André Cornélis (1887) and Mensonges (1887). His Le Disciple in 1889 so impressed Robert Louis Stevenson that he dedicated Across the Plains to Bourget in 1892. [ORG]
Pierre Loti the pseudonym of Julian Viand (1850-1923). He was an officer in the French Navy as well as being a writer and is usually considered the initiator of modern exotic fiction. His best known book, Pêcheur d’Islande (1886) may be found in English as The Iceland Fisherman.

[Page 258, line 4] Euclid the celebrated geometrician who lived at Alexandria, 323-283 B.C.

[Page 258, line 6] La Vie Parisienne was a risqué French periodical. Kipling deliberately understates his knowledge of France and French literature.
Zola Émile Zola (1840-1902). An exponent of naturalism (as opposed to romanticism and surrealism), his best-known work probably being Nana (1880), one of his 20-volume Rougon-Macquart series of stories. As Nana was a prostitute, one can appreciate Kipling’s nuance behind reading “translations of Zola’s novels with illustrations.”

[Page 258, line 10] our Mutual Friend a reference to the novel of that name by Charles Dickens (1812-1879).

[Page 258, line 21] Dickens Charles Dickens (1812-1879), author of The Pickwick Papers, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, and numerous other celebrated novels.
Scott Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), author of Rob Roy, Ivanhoe, Redgauntlet and many other widely read novels.

[Page 259, line 1] Middlesex militia a military force raised from the civil population of the County of Middlesex, north of London, for home defence.

[Page 259, line 6] Shibboleth originated as a “password” by the Gileadites (Judges 12,6). In modern usage, it refers to the criterion or catchphrase for membership of a group or sect.

[Page 259, line 17] Toynbee Hall a “settlement” for the poor, founded in East London in 1885, which still exists in 2007. The radical idea was that middle-class reformers would go to live in the poor neighbourhoods providing direct aid. Initially, it was run largely by volunteers from Oxford University.

[Page 260, line 1] Bond Street a rather exclusive shopping street in central London.

[Page 261, line 7] ravaging rights an unusual word to use for the shooting and trapping rights – the words really mean the right to destroy. [ORG]

[Page 261, line 15] an ounce and a half of number five in modern terms, lead shot of approximately 0.12 inches diameter. There are about 170 shot per ounce. See also the note to “Tiglath Pileser” (page 98, line 18). The picture evoked is not dissimilar to that described in the originally unpublished “Stalky” story, “Scylla and Charybdis” (KJ 309):

It was the fashion of that senior among seniors to go rabbit-shooting with saloon pistols and when game failed what more natural than that they should devise wars and ambushes, using dust shot instead of bulleted breech caps and, more or less, keeping a crooked left arm before their eyes.

[D. P.]
©David Page 2007 All rights reserved