[Page 161 line 2] my friend Woodhouse Alastair Wilson writes :Kipling may well have had his new-ish friend Sir Max Aitken, MP in mind when he drew the character Woodhouse. Aitken, a Canadian entrepreneur, had made his first million (worth £114M today) by his 30th birthday (in 1909) and having evidently exhausted possibilities in Canada came to Britain in 1910, seeking new opportunities. Kipling met him in 1911 (probably through Bonar Law, another Canadian, who became Leader of the Conservative Party) and the Kiplings quickly established friendly relations with the Aitkens. Within a month of their first meeting the two families went for a brief tour together in Normandy in their respective cars. When the tale was written in 1913, Aitken had just bought the Globe, an ailing London evening newspaper (the Bun), and ‘he was wisely ignorant of journalism, but when he stooped to a carcase there was sure to be meat’ (lines 11-13) describes him exactly. Later, he became one of the great press barons of the 1920s. [A.W.]
[Page 161 line 4] M.P. Member of Parliament, sitting in the House of Commons.
[Page 161 line 13] stooped on a carcase usually applied to a bird of prey, to hang over and then to swoop down on to a dead or dying creature.
[Page 161 line 9] dead centre See the notes on “.007” in The Day’s Work” (page 232 line 17).
[Page 162 line 1]
Olyett Kipling was not acquainted with any brilliant young Oxonian editors, but he was well-acquainted with Howell Gwynne, his contemporary, who had recently taken over the editorship of theMorning Post after being Editor of the Evening Standard for seven years.
[Page 161 line 11] gold injections an injection of capital.
[Page 161 line 18] planted me with Given to me, unsolicited.
[Page 162 line 2] coir-matting-coloured Coir matting is thick and rough, made from cocoa-nut husks, and light brown in colour.
[Page 162 line 6] more like a crane’s than a peacock’s a crane’s voice is deep and grating, while peacocks give vent to high screeching cries.
[Page 162 line 8] knacker’s yard the place to which a dealer in worn-out horses etc. took his purchases to be slaughtered and disposed of as dogs-meat, hide etc.
[Page 162 line 14] when the car stopped and a policeman asked our names The Locomotive Act (also known as the Red Flag Act) of 1865 was one of a series of measures to control the use of mechanically propelled vehicles on British public highways during the latter part of the 19th century.This required that a man precede the horseless carriage with a red flag by day and a red lamp by night. In 1896 this law was repealed, but early motorists still encountered hostility from other road users. Until 1930 a speed limit of 20 m.p.h. was imposed on all motor vehicle, but was widely disregarded, outside town limits.
Kipling, with his strong interest in new technology, bought a “Locomobile Steamer” in June 1901 (right), and was an enthusiastic motorist thereafter. [See Something of Myself (pp. 176-179), “They” and “Steam Tactics” in Traffics and Discoveries, “The Vortex” later in this collection, “The Bull that Thought” in Debits and Credits, “The Muse Among the Motors”, and a number of other tales. See also The Long Trail, by Meryl Macdonald.
[Page 162 line 28] spare tyres aft At the back of the car, rather than strapped on a fixture on the door.
[Page 163 line 6] brush encounter.
[Page 163 line 10] summonsed formally called to appear before a court.
[Page 163 line 14] Jubilee clock-tower One of many erected in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, 50 years on the throne.
[Page 163 line 15] corn-exchange A permanent, open, often elegant building in English market towns for the sale of agricultural produce.
[Page 163 line 24] rooked took, with a suggestion of dishonesty. A rook is traditionally a thieving bird.
[Page 164 line 5] allocution a formal address.
[Page 164 line 13] rollicked had lively fun.
[Page 164 line 15] cads people with low manners, no gentlemen.
[Page 164 line 16] breaking stones on the road an employment for convicted criminals.
[Page 164 line 26] to the tune of accompanied by, in this case, ‘with a fine of’.
[Page 165 line 2] in extenso at length (Latin).
[Page 165 line 11] home address in Jerusalem Sir Thomas was jeering at Masquerier for being Jewish.
[Page 165 line 16] auto da fé trial by the Spanish Inquisition.
[Page 165 line 24] his face was set fixed in expression.
[Page 166 line 6] turn comedy act
[Page 166 line 7] dub literally a muddy or stagnant pool. Masquerier means that Sir Thomas is a red-faced dullard.
[Page 167 line 3] ret’na retina, the seeing part of the eye.
[Page 167 line 14] the Bench the panel of magistrates.
[Page 167 line 25] Silhouettes an invented name for a group of artistes doing a “turn”.
[Page 167 line 26] The Trefoil and the Jocunda Invented names for music-halls.
[Page 167 line 27] Vidal (“Dal”) Benzaguen ‘The prototype of ‘Dal’ might well have been Violet Loraine of revered memory (left). She was famous in 1913 on the Music Halls and the boys loved her (me too!), but she came to her final and absolute fame with George Robey in “The Bing Boys” and “The Bing Boys on Broadway”, 1915 -20.’ [P.W.I.]
‘Vidal Benzaguen’ is also mentioned in “Dayspring Mishandled” (Limits and Renewals).
[Page 168 line 4] ‘Hear! Hear!’ I agree.
[Page 168 line 4] privileged in this context the right of Members of Parliament to discuss matters in the House without fear of prosecution that might be libellous outside it.
[Page 168 line 26] Sodom and Gomorrah ‘the cities of the plain’ destroyed by fire from Heaven for their evil doings. See Genesis XIII.
[Page 168 line 27] winsome sweet.
[Page 168 line 31] block out the scenario plan the show.
[Page 169 line 1] astrachan collar an expensive fur collar. astrachan – or astrakhan – was the wool of a karakul lamb – which is why it is sometimes known as ‘Persian lamb’. In the eyes of the commonality it was associated with the nouveau riche, people with more money than sense. [A.W.]
[Page 169 line 2] nickel-plated Nickel-plating was the fore-runner of chromium-plating: its finish was not quite so bright as chromium. [A.W.]
[Page 169 line 30] halfpenny evening papers In 1913 there were some four or five quite important national ‘evening’ papers issued in London, which came onto the news stands at around mid-day, costing a halfpenny each; that is about a fifth of a present-day penny.
Nowadays (2019) there is only the Evening Standard one of a number of free newspapers.
[Page 170 line 2] sub-leaders articles.
[Page 170 line 3] Brasenose Brasenose College Oxford had a reputation for the excellence and precision of its English. Walter Pater (1839-1894) the celebrated Victorian essayist and stylist, had been a Fellow of Brasenose.
[Page 170 line 24] Hoopoe a crested bird common in Greece and points east and south. It would be very rare to see one in England
[Page 171 line 11] eheu ab angulo! ‘alas from that rustic nook!’ (Latin). In the background. [A.W.]
[Page 171 line 32] the Spec. had a middle The Spectator, named after Joseph Addison’s (1672-1719) famous periodical, started as a weekly review in 1828 and is still being published in London (2008). A middle was one of a series of articles in the middle pages of the journal, a secondary editorial opinion piece.
[Page 172 line 9] Epping Forest A pleasant country area some ten miles north of London. Kipling had spent a happy holiday with his mother there, as a child, after leaving ‘The House of Desolation’ at Southsea.
[Page 172 line 17] tump Slang, here meaning a piece of calculated journalese, or advertising copy, of little literary merit, aimed at a particular effect, to capture readers’ atttention and create an atmosphere.
[Page 172 line 18] non nobis gloria ‘Not to us the glory’. See “Non nobis domine”.
[Page 172 line 22] adenoids glands in the throat. If they become infected they need attention.
[Page 172 line 26 to 30] ‘the crepuscular penumbra ….
crepuscular penumbra dim shadow
boskage a thicket.
gravid heavy with young
Angus a breed of beef cattle.
swart dark, dusky. swarthy.
[Page 172 line 32] late King Emperor Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom and Emperor of India, born 1842, reigned 1901-10.
[Page 173 line 11] Lancet The well-known weekly medical periodical.
[Page 173 line 21] Model Village an excellent village, fit to be copied by others; such places as New Lanark, founded in 1786 by the industrialist and philanthropist, Robert Own: Port Sunlight, 1899-1914. the Lever brothers: and in our own days, Poundbury, founded by the Prince of Wales in 1983. [A.W.]
[Page 173 line 26] `publish and be damned” Attributed to the Duke of Wellington. ‘It seems well-authenticated that he replied with these words when Harriette Wilson. a prostitute, wrote demanding £200 from him and others, if they wished their names to be left out of the list of visitors in her Memoirs. The book ran to 38 editions. [See Elizabeth Longford’s Wellington, 1970.]
[Page 174 line 10] foot and mouth disease A dangerous and highly infectious disease of cattle, which can devastate animal farming if left unchecked.
[Page 174 line 12] measly shorthorns Shorthorns were a common English breed of dairy cattle, but (2008), no longer so, though they do appear as a cross in some herds. Measly means worthless, meagre.
[Page 174 line 22] House of Commons paper House of Commons writing paper.
[Page 175 line 18] Budget Statement of future taxation and expenditure.
[Page 175 line 25] the deuce the devil.
[Page 176 line 3] ‘Here we go gathering nuts in May…’ a traditional old rhyme sung by children at their round-games. See also page 189. line 22.
[Page 176 line 18] no action can lie in respect of virgin shorthorns the newspaper could not be sued for libel for what they had written about the cows.
[Page 176 line 5] ‘Dal— and some nuts About 1910 the word ‘nut’ burst into English usage, as slang for a smartly turned out young-man-about-town. who usually wore yellow chamois leather gloves. The word was sometimes spelt knut. At around the same time Basil Hallam took London by storm with his song “I’m Gilbert. the Filbert. the nut with a K”.
[Page 176 line 20] the House The House of Commons.
[Page 176 line 28] an Irish afternoon The House of Commons was to have an afternoon session dealing with Irish issues.
[Page 177 line 7] breaking up a fox in the face of rabid hounds Cutting up a fox to throw to the furious hounds. (rabid strictly means mad, afflicted by rabies.)
[Page 177 line 9] question-time A session in the House of Commons when M.P.s can question Ministers, including the Prime Minister.
[Page 177 line 30] should have been put as a question At Question Time Members cannot make speeches, only ask questions.
[Page 178 line 4] Mr Speaker He (or she) chairs parliamentary sessions, ensures that the business of the House is conducted fairly, keeps order, and deals with Members who misconduct themselves.
[Page 178 line 9] lift his pack A hunting metaphor, move his hounds on to a new quarry.
[Page 179 line l3] ‘By the Grace of God. Master Ridley …’ Ollyet is quoting from the famous words of Hugh Latimer (1485-1555) one time Bishop of Worcester, to Nicholas Rid1ey (1500-1555), as they were taken together to be burnt at the stake in Oxford, under Queen Mary, for refusing to embrace the Catholic faith:
“Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man: we shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England as shall … never be put out.”
[Page 179 line 15] Reuters and the Press Association Two of the great news agencies: both are still (2019) functioning in London, though for Reuters news is now only about a tenth of its business.
[Page 179 line 16] he went off at score a phrase used of a horse making a sudden dash at full speed, and figuratively of a person breaking out suddenly into impetuous speech or action. See Something of Myself page 187, line 3. [ORG}
[Page 179 line 20] ‘leper-window’ or a `squinch-hole’ A leper window enabled lepers, who were shunned and isolated lest they infect others, to witness a church service from without. A squinch is an arch across the angle of two walls.
[Page 179 line 27] the sexton’s tool-shed The sexton keeps the church and churchyard clean and tidy.
[Page 179 line 30] Hone’s Every-Day Book William Hone’s Book; or Everlasting Calendar of Popular Amusements, Sports, Pastimes, Ceremonies, Manners, Customs and Events, issued as a weekly miscellany, from 1825 to 1827.
[Page 179 line 32] Druidical mysteries The religion of the Druids is believed to have existed in Celtic Britain in pre-Christian times. Little if anything is known about it.
[Page 179 line 33] Solar Solstice There is a Summer Solstice at mid-summer, when in the Northern Hemisphere the sun is highest in the sky at mid-day, and a Winter Solstice at mid-winter, when it is at its lowest.
[Page 180 line 11] You’s better put it in an obvious misprint, corrected in the Sussex Edition to ‘you’d’.
[Page 180 line 21] Fallen Virgins This implies reformed prostitutes; ‘fallen’ means sexually compromised.
[Page 181 line 3] bring out the Bun in his absence Ollyet had asked the narrator, himself an experienced journalist, to act as Editor for that night’s edition, approving copy and layout and dealing with any unexpected issues that might arise.
[Page 182 line 15] There is a real Society that thinks the world is flat There was indeed and still is. Samuel Rowbotham (1816-1884), interpreting certain biblical passages, published Earth Not a Globe, and ever since there has been a Flat Earth Society. See also KJ 138 for an account of a meeting of the International Flat Earth Research Society in 1960.
[Page 182 line 30] Morgiana and Drexel An invented name, we believe, for a burlesque of the type common in revue at the time, based on “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” in The Arabian Nights. See also page 186, line 33, and page 187, lines 1-5, below:
[Page 182 line 31] Billy Turpin, the North London Star We don’t know who he was, but he is supposed to refer to himself as “I’m the Referee that got himself disliked at Blackheath”. Blackheath was and is, the famous Rugby Football ground.
[Page 183 line 11] Nellie Farren Ellen Farren (1848-1904) Chiefly famous for her acting in burlesque (right), she had a vivid personality, the incarnation of the cockney spirit.
Hollingshead is quoted in the Encyclopaedia Britannia as saying that: ‘she could play anything, dress in anything, say and do anything’ and that ‘she ought to go down to posterity as the best Principal Boy since women were admitted to the stage’.
[Page 183 line 20] Ionic style as in a classical Greek statue or urn.
[Page 183 line 31] knocked ’em to sawdust delighted and overwhelmed the audience. See the celebrated music hall song: Knocked ’em in the Old Kent Road.
[Page 185 line 12] char-à-banc A long vehicle, with many seats for passengers. (char à bancs, French for ‘carriage with benches’) They sat on transverse bench seats, quite often gently raked like the seats in a theatre, so that those behind could see over the heads of those in front. [A.W.]
[Page 185 line 20] qua as.
[Page 185 line 22] Peter’s Vision at Joppa Peter was shown that in the right cause one should be ready to use anything, nothing was too common or unclean. See Acts 10, 9-16.
[Page 186 line 6] By God, What a genius I was yesterday!’ adapted from Jonathan Swift’s remark about The Tale of a Tub: ‘Good God, what a genius I had when I wrote that book!’
[Page 186 line 30] stage box seats for a group of people in a small compartment very near the stage, where they could look out at both the show and the audience.
[Page 187 line 4] the nasty jar etc. These are references to the tale of ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’.
[Page 188 line 6] Lockstep ‘About 1910 there was introduced to the London stage a sort of follow-my-leader dance with a peculiar step called the “Lockstep”, said to be used for exercising prisoners in Sing Sing Penitentiary, U.S.A.’ [P.W.I.]
[Page 189 line 26] With a boy’s ease ‘Another recollection of Nellie Farren, who played boys’ parts at the Gaiety Theatre from its opening in 1868 until her retirement in 1891.’ [ORG]
[Page 190 line 2] catherine-wheeling to the electrolier A catherine-wheel is a spinning firework, and the electrolier an ‘electric chandelier’, a chandelier converted for electric lamps. The shoe went spinning up towards the lights. [A.W.]
[Page 190 line 33 etc.] Winnie Dean … Ramsden Invented names for revue or
music-hall artistes: no originals have been suggested.
[Page 191 line 7] The Holy City A sentimental and semi-religious drawing-room ballad composed by Stephen Adams to words by Frederic E. Weatherley (1848-1929), author of ‘Danny Boy’, ‘The Midship Mite’ etc. The first line runs:
‘Last night I lay a sleeping’
and the refrain
Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Lift up your voice and sing!
Hosanna in the highest, Hosanna to your King!…
[Page 191 line 10] disgorging picture palaces capering on the pavements he is referring, of course to the emerging audiences, rather than the buildings.
[Page 191 line 12] gramophones Machines for playing recorded music on twelve inch discs, at that time running by clockwork with a fibre needle, later electrified, now superseded by digital compact disc players.
[Page 191 line 30] magic-lantern show a Victorian form of slide-show, very popular in its day (right) .
[Page 192 line 17] Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay ‘The title and refrain of a song by Henry J. Sayers (1858-1934) with new verses by B. M. Batchelor. First sung by Lottie Collins (1866-1910) at Islington on 26th December 1891, after which she scored a tremendous success with it at The Gaiety Theatre.’ [ORG]
[Page 192 line 17] West African significance erotic undertones.
[Page 192 line 18] Everybody’s doing it ‘This was one of the first ragtime songs giving its name to a review of that title which took London by storm in about 1911-1912’. [P.W.I.]
[Page 192 line 29] flashed that letter in full The Reuters news agency had sent out the letter as a ‘news flash’, hot news that all the Press would want to carry.
[Page 193 line 6] Niagara Niagara Falls, between the United States and Canada, one of the great waterfalls of the world, which dwarfs spectators through its sheer scale and power.
[Page 193 line 17] key-bugle an adaptation of the brass instrument which can play more notes than an ordinary bugle.
[Page 194 line 11] Limoges enamels Limoges, in western France, has been famous since medieval times for a special kind of enamelled picture.
[Page 194 line 16] a grateful South Kensington this refers to the Victoria and Albert Museum, formerly the National Museum of Ornamental Arts. An object as ancient and rare as Huckley’s font would be welcomed there and treasured.
[Page 194 line 19] purblind dim-sighted, dull, obtuse.
[Page 194 line 20] Royal Academy The leading British Art institution. Its members were the leading artists of the day.
[Page 194 line 21] Margaritas ante Porcos Latin, meaning ‘pearls before swine’ – from Matthew 7,6.
[Page 194 line 22] Punch The famous humorous illustrated weekly, founded in 1841, sadly now (2008) not in publication.
[Page 194 line 23] The Times The notable London daily paper founded in 1785. (‘The Thunderer’ was one of its nicknames.) Still going strong.
[Page 194 line 25] Village Hausmania craze for modernising, after Baron Haussmann, who, when Prefect of the Seine Department in France (1853-70) remodelled and modernised Paris, substituting new buildings for old.
The phrase also has an echo of verse 15 of the “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” by Thomas Gray (1716-71):
Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood,
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country’s blood.
[Page 195 line 29] triple-dubs ‘dubs’ here means fees or salary. In this case it refers to extra fees against the income from sales of recordings, still a lively issue for actors and musicians in the 21st Century.
[Page 195 line 33] fifty-four thousand i.e. £54,000, a vast sum, worth over six million pounds in today’s values. (2019)
[Page 196 line 3] motor-brake motor ‘bus
[Page 196 line 8] it must be Cooks the celebrated travel agency.
[Page 196 line 29] Apollo the god of music and poetry– son of Zeus: the quotations is from the penultimate verse (ll. 28-9) of “Tithonus” by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892):
[Page 197 line 3] kodaking photographing. A Kodak was a particular kind of portable camera made originally in America by Messrs. Eastman. For some years there was a tendency to call any small portable camera a ‘Kodak’.
[Page 197 line 15] ‘ For Gorze sake, chuck that votin’ business … we’re fed up with it’ ‘For God’s sake forget that voting business … we’ve had enough of it’
[Page 197 line 21] tole told.
[Page 198 line 11] harmonium a small organ (right) driven by pedals which pushed air through its reeds. This is a classic harmonium for use in a chapel or at home. The collapsible one of the Flat Earthers would have been smaller. Alastair Wilson recalls that in the Royal Navy there was a portable harmonium recorded in the ‘stores rate book’ as Organ, portable, small. Much music was made in the Fleet in times of leisure.
[Page 198 line 13] Salvation Army This world-wide Christian organization for helping the poor was started in 1865 in Whitechapel in the East End of London by ‘General’ William Booth. Kipling met Booth on a voyage from New Zealand to Colombo, and conceived much respect and admiration for him. (Something of Myself pp. 102-104).
[Page 199 line 14] Christians awaiting their lions Early Christian martyrs were sometimes thrown to the lions in the Colosseum at Rome, as an entertainment for the populus. There were a number of Victorian pictures of such scenes, in which the Christians sang hymns as they went to their deaths.
[Page 199 line 16] two-stepped the ‘two-step’ was a ballroom dance in March or Polka time.
[Page 199 line 26] we are not suffragettes At that time the ‘suffragettes’ were demonstrating, passionately and sometimes violently, for women to get the vote. They were not very popular with the general public. In contrast the flat-earthers did not expect to encounter hostility.
[Page 199 line 31] font used as a verb this word means that the sexton was thinking of having these visitors unofficially `baptised’, i.e. chucked in the village pond.
[Page 200 line 7] by divers roads by different routes.
[Page 200 line 16] cromlechs stone monuments from prehistoric times.
[Page 200 line 27] sworn at ladies swearing was bad manners, and swearing in the preence of – or at – ladies doubly bad manners.
[Page 201 line 6] ‘I give this person in charge for assault’ I formally accuse this person of assault, a criminal act.
[Page 201 line 23] apron-veiled she threw her apron over her head so as not to hear the bad language.
[Page 201 line 33] sweep here not literally a chimney sweep, but a term of abuse, meaning a low and dirty person.
[Page 202 line 20] I don’t dive after Dickens Ollyet means that he is not on the look out for the sort of colourful people that figure in Dickens’s novels, but that Police-courts always seem to be full of Dickensian characters.
[Page 202 line 30] although he was a Radical he might apologise Radicals could be expected to be uncompromising. (see the headnote), but as an M.P. if Sir Thomas apologised he might be able to lie his way out of trouble.
[Page 204 line 16] in toto completely.
[Page 204 line 31] Gehazi Ingell has become a social leper, one to be shunned. Gehazi figures in 2 Kings 5, notably 27: `and he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow’ Kipling refers to Gehazi in several other places, notably the poem with this title.
[Page 205 line 31] street organs The barrel-organ (played by turning a handle) had virtually disappeared by 1913 and its place was taken by the street piano, sometimes called a piano-organ.
Street organs came in two sizes, on wheels, and the smaller version, as
here (right), and in The Puzzler” (Actions and Reactions), carried by a strap around the shoulders.
[Page 206 line 1] the Provinces all of Britain outside London.
[Page 206 lines 9-10] ‘there isn’t two penn’orth of legality in the whole thing’ It is not clear on what grounds Pallant made this statement. When asked to explain by Woodhouse, he tells him ‘You wouldn’t understand if I talked till morning.’
The ORG Editors (pp. 3074-3075) looked into the matter, with the aid of an article in The Justice of the Peace for October 1931 (‘The Huckley Police Court’), but failed to resolve it. That article, having considered various grave legal issues, concluded:
‘We should like to have seen the Secretary of State’s answer to Mr Pallant’s question. It is, alas, lost, for the House went into hysterics, and nearly into the Gubby dance. If Mr Kipling reads The Justice of the Peace. and none can ever guess the limits of that omnivorous reader, he may be moved to tell us the answer.’
Perhaps the truth is that Kipling had to invent an issue relating to Huckley, even a spurious one, for hysteria to strike the assembled legislators in the final scene.
[Page 206 line 28] they’re all Rads See the headnote.
[Page 207 line 7] tinkers Travelling people who mend pots and pans. Used here as a term of abuse, meaning ‘people without roots’.
[Page 208 line 9] Bail The narrator is suggesting that Pallant’s terrible appearance is due to his having been getting drunk and disorderly all night to the extent that he has been arrested. ‘Bail’ is the money paid to allow an arrested person to leave jail temporarily until the trial.
[Page 208 line 12] divisions formal votes in the House.
[Page 208 line 12] Whips M.P.s appointed by the parties to keep discipline and ensure that their supporters are there to vote when required.
[Page 209 line 1] cooked … flew off the handle exhausted … suddenly got very angry.
[Page 209 line 14] Turkish bath Baths, hammams, where you can relax in steamy hot rooms and refreshing cold rooms, and have a massage if you wish. A good place for an M.P. after an all-night sitting.
[Page 209 line 21] Front Benches Where Ministers sit in the House of Commons, opposite their senior opponents, as opposed to the Back Benches (line 28) where the more junior and less disciplined M.P.s sit.
[Page 209 line 30] hard-mouthed Unresponsive. A metaphor from riding, where a hard-mouthed horse can resist the bit and be slow to respond to his rider.
[Page 211 line 8] a cross-bencher In the British Parliament, ‘cross-benchers’ are those peers (on the left in this photograph) in the House of Lords, who have renounced party ties and declared themselves politically neutral. They are termed crossbenchers because they sit on neither the government benches nor the opposition benches but on benches that are perpendicular to the other seats and face the Woolsack on which the Lord Chancellor sits.
Kipling seems to be using the expression incorrectly, for a Member of the House of Commons who has changed party, and moved across to the benches on the other side of the House, and who might be seen as volatile in his loyalties.
Alastair Wilson notes: there could be ‘Independents’ in the Commons, elected with no party allegiance, but they did not sit on cross-benches. There were in fact no Independents in the House of Commons in 1913.
[Page 211 line 20] howling syndicalism Extremism. Syndicalists were on the far left of politics, advocating action through trade-unions to control capitalism and bring power to the working class. There had been major strikes and industrial agitation in 1911/12, to which Kipling and his political friends were far from sympathetic.
[Page 212 line 12] Antaeus Son of Poseidon in Greek mythology Whenever he touched the ground his strength was renewed. (He was only finally killed by Heracles who held him above his head and squeezed him to death.)
[Page 212 line 24] vain was the help of man see Psalms 60 and 108.
[Page 212 line 13] Strangers’ Gallery for visitors to the House.
[Page 213 line 8] interview with the Chief Whip The Chief Whip was (and is) a senior figure in the governing party, responsible for discipline. Sir Thomas was an object of national ridicule, and an embarrassment to his party. He was probably going to be asked to resign his seat.
The motorists’ vengeance was complete.
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