The Mary Cabot Memoir

(edited by Tom Ragle)

Mary Cabot’s Journal, Balestier Memoirs, Letters, and Papers in the F. Cabot Holbrook Library Collection, at Marlboro College Vermont © 1985 by Anna F. Holbrook. Excerpts from these documents are included by permission of The Landmark Trust USA. Miss Cabot’s picture by courtesy of the Brattleboro Historical Society.

Mary Cabot’s memoir of Kipling at Naulakha, as she wrote it out in 1911 for her sister Grace Holbrook, ended with the departure of the Kiplings to England in September 1896, never to return, and a brief encounter with Beatty Balestier who made it clear that if they came back he would make their lives very difficult. The Memoir was continued by Howard C Rice, using rough notes and letters preserved among Miss Cabot’s papers, and further gleanings from the Brattleboro newspapers, to provide an account of the aftermath to Kipling’s days in Vermont. It was first published in the ELT Journal, volume 29 Number 2, in 1986.

Tom Ragle writes: in 1936 Howard Rice published a little volume entitled Rudyard Kipling in New England. Rather than representing the culmination of his interest in Kipling, however, this was merely the first evidence of it.

Throughout the rest of his life–while teaching French at Harvard, broadcasting for the Office of War Information, serving briefly as Director of the U.S. Information Library in Paris, then as Assistant Librarian for Rare Books and Special Collections at the Princeton University Library for over twenty years until his retirement in 1970–Rice patiently researched all the references to Kipling he could find in the local newspapers of the time.

In 1979, he appeared in my office at Marlboro College with three large boxes containing the typescript of a book, almost complete, entitled Kipling’s Vermont Period and asked my help in getting it published. A year later, without warning, he died.


December 11, 1896
Vermont Phoenix

The court of insolvency adjudged Beatty S. Balestier an insolvent debtor April 11 last, and the adjudication was affirmed at the September term of the Windham County court. A meeting of the creditors will be held at the probate office Dec. 23 at 10 A.M., to prove claims and choose assignees. The payment of any debts, the delivery of any property belonging to the estate to him or for his use, and the transfer of any property to him is forbidden by law. Mr Balestier has filed a statement showing his liabilities to be $7012.74, and his assets $2875. To the Joseph N. Balestier estate he owes $2350, and to A. S. Balestier [Anna Smith B., his mother] of New York $2152.25. A large part of the merchants of Brattleboro are named as creditors in sums varying from $5 to $180, several concerns having accounts of upward of $100.


December 28, 1897
The Elms,
Rottingdean, near Brighton


Dear Miss Cabot,

Your Christmas letter was heartily greeted and the interesting news of the Brattleboro changes read with attentive and instructive interest. My only news otherwise has come from the assignees who want me to pay bills a second time.

I think often and lovingly of dear Naulakha as the year brings round the
festivals we so rejoiced to celebrate there: but there seems nothing to be
gained in a return until one may hope for a change at Maplewood. Life is too short to spend as we spent our last year at Naulakha even if one were quite sure of the necessary physical strength.

Our children three thrive and grow long and strong and deeply interesting. The man child is rather a success and I feel that the nursery family is stronger and more impersonal since his arrival. We go next to Africa for a few months, to avoid the rough English spring and to get a taste of real air with a dry brace and force to it. It’s a vast
undertaking: but English steamship lines are good to us and we are to have plenty of space and good service and a comfy house is ready for us the other end. I shall redt myself, I hope, in those hot days on a still blue sea. We are in quiet water after Madeira, and it’s a 19 day voyage in our ship.

I continue to hope you will come to England, when we are at home, for a change and we shall have the pleasure of welcoming you there. Bring dear Miss Keyes and have a good holiday. Josephine sends you greetings. She is grown into a big girl full of many exciting interests and always full of a great longing for Naulakha. I hope the place improves ? Howard wntes of many things bemg done but his letters are characteristic and so full of a great reserve.

Best wishes and greetings for the New Year from Rud and me.

Sincerely yours
Caroline Kipling


January 1, 1899

The Elms,
Rottingdean, near Brighton

Dear Miss Cabot,

The photograph continues its first impression of delight in
both our minds and the balancing depression and longing for life at Naulakha again. It was most kind of you to think of the thing to give us most pleasure, and we send your most appreciative thanks.

We have had a pleasant Xmas. The children three are growing most entertaining and were quite comprehensive in their joy this year. They are a happy nursery family full of absorbing interests. Mr Kipling joins
me m sending best wishes to you and your parents.

Sincerely yours,
Caroline Kipling


February 3,1899
Vermont Phoenix

The Boston Globe of today contains the following dispatch from New York:
“Rudyard Kipling was a passenger on the steamship Majestic which arrived this morning [February 2]. With him were Mrs. Kipling and their three children. Mr. Kipling wore a suit of dark clothes, a heavy overcoat with a fur collar and a derby hat. His wife wore a short sealskin coat. Both appeared in good health. Mr. Kipling when asked why he was here and how long he expected to stay, replied “I have absolutely nothing to say”. With his family he went to an hotel. With his family he will stay here for ten days. Then he will go to Brattleboro. Later he will journey down into the southwest and after that to Mexico.”

A probable sign of Rudyard Kipling’s return to this town is the fact that his coachman has reently boiught a horse to be driven with the one already owned by him. The pair formerly used by Mr Kipling was sold when he left Brattleboro.


February 6, 1899

Kipling to Dr. Conland, New York

Dear Conland,

The first because your topsails are lifting over the sky-line and the second because all our kiddies are down with bronchitis caught en route to America.

Come down on Wednesday if you can-come and dine but come early—as early as you know how and we’ll have a day together. I can’t get away just yet but you come.

Sincerely, Rudyard K.

P.S. Come along on Wednesday


February 10,1899
Vermont Phoenix

Dr. James Conland will retum tonight from New York, where he went to visit Rudyard Kipling and family Tuesday.


February 16,1899
Kipling to Dr. Conland, from New York
Dear Conland,
I’ve just written down a rather colorless acknowledgment of that little
document you forwarded me; which I beg you to hand over to the good folk concerned. The clumsiness of the language must be forgiven—I haven’t much experience in expressing thanks properly; and I don’t use a lot of fine words. But, you may be sure, I feel it just the same.

The weather here is something beyond description. Rain on slush with a freeze running through it. The kiddies are getting better and so’s Carrie but it’s slow work. Keep me posted on any happenings of interest up in Brattleboro and Fll let you know when I am on the move for Boston.

In haste, between engagements,
Yours ever,

You didn’t tell me who stated the idea of the letter so I don’t know who to address the reply to; but I can depend on you to put it into the right hands. Thank ’em all personally from me.



February 17, 1899
Vermont Phoenix

The Glad Hand Extended to Kipling by Brattleboro Men. Their Action Brought About by the Talk of a Suit Against the Author for $50,000~Something About the Story of the Suit.

An Associated Press dispatch heralded the announcement across the continent last Saturday [February 1st] that Beatty Balestier had gone to New York with the avowed intention of bringing suit against his brother-in-law Rudyurd Kipling for $50,000, the grounds being alleged malicious prosecution and false arrest in 1896. The dispatch also stated:

It will be recalled that in May of that year Balestier and Kipling met on a highway near Brattleboro. Kiplmg caused the arrest of Balestier, and swore in court a few days later that his brother-in-law had threatened to take his life. Balestier was bound over to the grand jury and put under bonds to keep the peace. The case was to have been tried at the September term of that year. Mr. Kipling, however, sailed for England in August, and the case was dropped. Balestier says that he has had no opportunity to tell his story, and he now seeks justice by bringing suit.

The first intimation Brattleboro people had in regard to the matter came intelegrams from New York asking for a verification of the statement. An hour or two later evening papers were received containing the press dispatch with some embellishments. Although the dispatch appeared under a Brattleboro date line, it was not sent from Brattleboro, and the conespondent of the Associated Press
and other newspaper men here were entirely in the dark at that time in regard to its origin. In response to requests from New York. Beatty Balestier was interviewed at his home that evening. He said that the statement was true that he intended to bring a suit, and that the amount of damages claimed would not be less than $50,000. He claimed to be greatly surprised that the story had appeared in print. He said that it was his understanding with lawyers in New York that the suit would be brought next (the present) week. He would not give
the names of his attorneys.

Balestier said that he would go to New York Sunday morning or Monday, but he has been in Brattleboro throughout the week. Members of the Balestier family in New York telephoned here Sunday for information in regard to the alleged suit. It is understood from friends of the family that Balestier’s relatives do not uphold the bringing of a sui—in fact, they were greatly disturbed at the appearance of the story Saturday.

Kipling’s relations with all of the Balestiers except Beatty are of a pleasant nature. The Balestiers like Kipling, and are proud of their connecntion with him, and of the great success which he has attained.

Balestier went to Springfield Mass. Friday [February 10]. When asked if he told anything on this trip which could have led to the artice published in the Springfield Evening Union he replied no emphatically. When asked directly if he had a talk Friday with a newspaper conespondent in regard to the matter he replied in the negative. Balestier said he supposed the story must have come
through his attorneys in New York.

Several of the statements made by Balestier were entirely false. He saw at Greenfield Friday W. S. Carson, the well-known conespondent [Walter S. Carson, whose territory for the Boston Globe including Brattleboro]. Balestier told Mr. Carson his plans for bringing the suit and said he was going to New York the following day. Mr. Carson considered a $50,000 suit against Kipling good material for a story and therefore prepared the press dispatch. Nothing has appeared in the New York papers this week about a suit and it is probable that no suit has been brought. Many people are of the opinion that the talk of the suit is a game of bluff. Lawyers here do not believe that
there is a ground for a suit. Beatty Balestier was arrested in May, 1896, on a State’s Attorney’s complaint, and the testimony give by Kipling was a witness under examination. Kipling told no more than was necessary, and this with evident reluctance. There were many at the hearing who came away with the impression that Kipling could have told a more extended story of the troubles with Beatty if he had been willing to do so.

People in Brattleboro do not need to be told of the esteem and admiration in which Mr Kipling is held here, or at the general reputation
which Beatty Balestier bears. Some of the ,ewspaper stories sent out at the time of the hearing in May, 1896, were gravely misleading as to the sentiments here in regard to the two men. The statement published in several newspapers last Sunday were of the same misleading character. The sympathy of Brattleboro is entirely with Mr. Kipling. People here believe that he was abused and insulted, and life here made so intolerable that he left the pleasant home which he had established and returned to Europe. The feeling here toward Mr. Kipling found suitable expression in the following letter which was written Monday by C. F. Thompson, at the solicitation of several prominent men.


Brattleboro, Vt.,
February 13,1899

Mr. Rudyard Kipling
New York, N.Y.

Dear Sir: —

We, citizens of Brattleboro, remembering with pleasure your former residence among us, and being desirous of expressing our personal gratification on your return to the United States, earnestly wish that you will visit Brattleboro, and also that you will find it agreeable to make your residence here, as hitherto, and take this method of expressing this hope. If satisfactory to you, we would like very much to give a dinner and reception in your honor at the Brooks House, on any date that may suit your convenience.

This letter was signed by G. C. Averill, President of the Vermont National Bank; C. A. Harris, Treasurer of the Brattleboro Savings Bank; W. H. Brackett, Cashier of the People’s National Bank; ex-Gov. Fredenck Holbrook; Postmaster D. P. Webster; ex-Postmaster F. W. Childs; Lawyers Waterman, Martin, Haskins and Fitts; Rev. W. H. Collins; Drs. H. D. Holton and S. E. Lawton; Crosby &
Adams, C. R. Crosby, L. F. Adams; J. J. Estey and J. G. Estey; George E. Cromwell, O. L. French, Emerson & Son, W. F. Richardson & Co., A. C. Davenport, C. W. Wücox, George W. Hooker, Principal H. K. Whitaker, Rollin S. Childs, Clapp & Jones, C. F. Thompson, C. H. Davenport, A. W. Childs & Co., and others.

The paper was circulated only on Tuesday and it was mailed Wednesday to Mr. Kiplmg. No attempt was made to get a large number of signatures. Hundreds of signatures could have been obtained by simply giving people an opportunity to sign the letter. The signers are thoroughly representative of the professional and business life of Brattleboro, and many of the people are acquainted with
Mr. Kipling.


February 24, 1899
Vermont Phoenix
Mr. Kipling’s Reply

The following reply was received Saturday [Febmary 18] in response to the letter signed by leading professional and business men of Brattleboro, expressing the wish that Mr. Kipling would visit Brattleboro, that he would find it agreeable to take up his residence here, and that the signers would like to give a dinner and reception in his honor:

Gentlemen. I have been more touche and gratified than I can well say by your kind correspondence, and take this opportunity of thanking you idividually and collectively most heartily. The shortness of my visit to America will prevent me from coming up to Brattlebiri at oresent. I trust that later on this may be possible, and I shall always bear in mind with deep appreciation the neighbourly
sentiment you have so spontaneously extended toward me.

Believe me, very sincerely yours,
Rudyard Kipling


Febmary 24,1899
Vermont Phoenix (front page)
Rudyard Kipling Ill. Suffering from Inflammation of the Lungs. At the Hotel Grenoble in New York-Physicians Say His Case is Serious but Not Critical.

Rudyard Kipling is suffering from inflammation of the lungs at Hotel Grenoble in New York City. The physicians say his condition is serious, but not critical. Everything possible is being done for him and the fact that he has a vigorous constitution is in his favor. Mr. and Mrs. Kipling, who arrived with their children in New York three weeks ago, had a rough passage across the Atlantic, and after their arrival Mrs. Kipling and the children were ill. Mr. Kipling seemed perfectly well until Monday [Febmary 20]. He had attended several dinner parties given by his friends since his arrival, but has declined to accept any invitations of a semi-public nature.

He visited his publishers, Doubleday & McClure MOnda, and seemed to be in the best of health. He attended a dinner party that evening, and after his return to the hotel complained that he did not feel well. He refused to have a doctor called in, however. The next day Dr. Theodore Dunham, who married Josephine Balestier, was summoned. He found that Mr. Kipling was suffering from inflammation of the right lung. Later Dr. E. G. Janeway, the specialist, was also summoned. The disease must run its course, but there is nothing to excite
alarm. When the fact of his illness was made known Wednesday inquiries were received from all parts of this country and Great Britain.

Mrs. Kipling soon found herself absolutely unable to cope with these inquiries. Many of those who called at the hotel sent their cards to her, but she was busy nursing her husband and saw no-one. Early in the day, however, it was thought best to issue a bulletin, which remained on the clerk’s table of the hotel. This simply announced that Mr. Kipling was suffering from inflammation of the
right lung. At 2 o’clock in the aftemoon the following statement was issued: Mr. Kipling has an inflammation of the right lung. This produces the usual fever. There are at present no complications.

E. G. Janeway
Theodore Dunham

This is all there is to say concerning Mr. Kipling’s illness. Mrs. Kipling will be greatly obliged if friends and newspaper men will be kind enough to read the daily bulletins instead of calling, as she is utterly unable to see any one.

Dr. Dunham was in almost constant attendance on his patient Wednesday. He was
assisted by Mrs. Kipling and a trained nurse.

(final section in preparation: Ed.)



Mary Rogers Cabot
January 10th 1911

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