Tiglath Pileser

Notes on the text

Notes by David Page. The page and line numbers below refer to the Authorised Edition of Abaft the Funnel published by Doubleday and Page, New York, in 1909.

[Title] Tiglath Pileser was the name of a King of Assyria (but hyphenated) whose name appears in the Bible (Kings II 15,29). Under his rule Assyrian power in the Near East greatly increased as the result of his campaigns of conquest. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiglath-Pileser_III)

[Page 91, line 8] put away my rifle This conflicts with Page 98, lines 15 to 19, where the use of a shotgun is described.

[Page 91 & 92, lines 16] barsati there seem to be at least three different meaning of the word barsati:

  • part of a dwelling
  • clothing or covering for the rainy season, or against rain; water-proof; apron of a carriage
  • an infectious disease to which horses are subject, which generally makes its appearance in the rainy season. It is caused by skin infection with larvae of Habronema or Draschia species; cutaneous granulomas grow in size until the skin over and around them is destroyed, leaving a large raw surface.

It is clear from the story (page 93 lines 23-25) that the horse had been bought during the rainy season, and it is therefore thought that the second (for page 91) and third (for page 92) meanings are the correct ones.

[Page 91, line 16] a hundred and seventy rupees roughly equivalent to 12 bottles of malt whisky.

[Page 91, line 17] five-chambered, muzzle-loading revolver Colt made guns of this description in their London factory in the 1850s and at Hartford (CT) until the mid-1870s. A modern pistol “breaks” behind the cylinder, and you put the little bullet and its cartridge in from the back: but the Colt and other similar muzzle-loading pistols broke in front of the cylinder. Each individual chamber in the cylinder was like the back end of a muzzle-loading cannon, with a tiny vent and on the exterior, a nipple for a percussion cap. So you inserted and rammed down first the powder, then screwed up the paper in which the powder was supplied, as a wad, then finally the bullet. Having loaded the five chambers, you then put a percussion cap on each of the nipples, one for each chamber, and there you were ready. (This explanation was supplied by Cdr. Alastair Wilson).

[Page 91, line 18] Cawnpore saddle Cawnpore was the chief town in India for the making of harness, saddlery, boots and shoes. (https://www.mssu.edu/projectsouthasia/GEOGRAPHY/

[Page 92, line 3] the butt presumably the heavy end of a riding whip. [ORG]

[Page 92, line 10] shouk hobby, favourite pursuit, whim. (Hobson-Jobson, shoke, shauq, shouq).

[Page 92, lines 18 & 20] yaws swerves from side to side.

[Page 92, line 21] coachwan This word is used in “A Bazaar Dhulip” and “The Cow-house Jirga” (The Smith Administration), and in “Only a Subaltern” (Under the Deodars), as well as this story. All attempts to find it in various glossaries have been fruitless, but from the contexts in which it is used, it seems to mean a man who drives a horse-drawn carriage or coach, equivalent to the English word “coachman”.

[Page 93, line 5] lathy a lath is a long, thin strip of wood. Robert Browning, one of Kipling’s favourite poets, in “The Flight of the Duchess” (v.5) refers to ‘a lathy horse, all legs and length’, meaning that the horse was tall and slender. Presumably the same description would apply to a ‘lathy pig’. However, the description of the horse further in the same paragraph does not suggest slenderness.

The Editors of the ORG suggested that it referred to Tiglath always showing his ribs however well you fed him.

[Page 93, lines 7 & 8] haramzada chor, shaitan ké bap scoundrel thief, you are the father of Satan (or the Devil). (Based on Michael Smith’s Glossary of Hindustani – Urdu – Hindi).

[Page 93, line 8] oont ki beta son of a camel. (based on Michael Smith’s Glossary of Hindustani – Urdu – Hindi).

[Page 93, lines 9 & 10] fifteen-two at the withersfifteen hands two inches or 62 inches (5ft. 2in.) tall to the withers, i.e. ridge between its shoulder blades.

[Page 93, line 10] waler a horse from New South Wales in Australia, very common in India in the 19th Century.

[Page 94, line 3] thanda putties cold bandages wrapped spirally round the leg to help overcome the lameness.

[Page 94, line 12] portico a porch or roof on pillars, frequently leading to the entrance of a building.

[Page 94, line 17] sais horse groom (or syce).

[Page 95, line 1] carriage a four-wheeled horse-drawn private passenger vehicle.

[Page 95, line 2] brougham An enclosed carriage drawn by one horse. This was an up-market conveyance, frequently with bevelled glass windows.

[Page 95, lines 17 & 18] carriagecidal mania analogous to homicidal mania. Tiglath desired to kill carriages.

[Page 95, line 20] sahib log European people. Strictly speaking, Sahib is a term that was, and is, used to address any perceived superior of whatever ethnicity.

[Page 95, line 21] chabuq defined by Kipling as ‘whip’ in “The Hands of Justice” (The Smith Administration).

[Page 96, lines 1 & 2] filton … brougham … gharri … tum-tum are all horse-drawn passenger vehicles.
filton A reference in “The City of Dreadful Night” Chapter VI, in From Sea to Sea Vol. 2. p. 244, refers to a ‘big mail-phaeton’ as a ”fitton”. Consequently this Editor considers that ‘filton’ is most probably a misprint for ‘fitton’, meaning ‘phaeton’, an open four-wheeled carriage for one or two horses.
gharri simply means ‘carriage’; brougham is defined above.

a tum-tum is a dog-cart – a light open cart with two cross-seats back-to-back. Hunting dogs could be penned between the back seat and the end of the cart. Kipling had one of these vehicles and travelled in it to Pindi in 1885 (Pinney.)

[Page 96, line 17] pas de fantasie this is thought to refer to a dance. At the Adelphi Theatre, London, in 1846, Mme Celine Celeste performed a ‘pas de fantasie’ titled “Die Zaubertanz” (The Enchanted Dance) in a performance of a burlesque The Phantom Dancers, or Wili’s Bride based on A.C. Adam’s ballet Giselle. (https://www.emich.edu/public/english/adelphi_calendar/m46d.htm).

[Page 97, line 1] cheroot a cylindrical cigar with both ends clipped during manufacture.

[Page 97, line 2] fusee a friction match with a large head, capable of staying alight in a wind.

[Page 97, line 15] nullah a dry watercourse.

[Page 97, line 16] Jamabundi Moguls presumably an imaginary Indian regiment.

[Page 97, line 20] “Bohat acha” “very good”. This phrase, but with different spelling, can be found in “Hunting a Miracle” (The Smith Administration). (Michael Smith’s Glossary of Hindustani – Urdu – Hindi).

[Page 98, line 11] chupatti a dry unleavened bread.

[Page 98, line 18] four ounces of No. 5 shot in modern terms, lead shot of approximately 0.12 inches diameter. There are about 170 shot per ounce. To deliver four ounces of shot would suggest the use of three cartridges unless this was a muzzle-loading gun where one could vary the charge at will (provided that you didn’t burst the barrel by overloading it).


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