With a Study Chair
to the Pater


(notes by Philip Holberton drawing on the researches of Andrew Rutherford and Thomas Pinney)


There is a version of this poem in Kipling’s own handwriting in the Kipling Papers in the Special Collections at the University of Sussex. It is undated, but seems to be a companion piece to “With a Fan to the Mother”, suggesting Christmas 1886. It was not published by Kipling, but is to be found in Rutherford (p. 351) and Pinney (p. 1838).

The Poem

The poem, in the language of Shakespeare’s day, or perhaps rather earlier, ponders on the origin of “Fancie”, and concludes that it comes most often when sitting down, hence the Christmas gift of a chair to his father, to whom he was devoted. See also “Of Birthdays”. and “The Letter of Halim the Potter”.

The first two lines are from a song in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice Act III. scene 2:

Tell me where is fancy bred,
Or in the heart or in the head?
How begot, how nourished?
Reply, reply.
It is engender’d in the eyes,
With gazing fed; and fancy dies
In the cradle, where it lies.
Let us all ring fancy’s knell;
I’ll begin it—Ding, dong, bell.

Ding, dong, bell.

Beeswax is used as furniture polish to beautify a chair and make it comfortable. There is
another version of the second part of the first verse in a letter from Trix to J. H. Brooking (December 10, 1941):

Beeswax in ye study chair
Breedeth fancies rich and rare
But good sons would perish rather
Than spread beeswax for their Father.
Therefore I, your son, prepare
Not ye beeswax, but ye chair.

John Walker has pointed out that in The Light that Failed (Chaper VIII) there is a mention of cobbler’s wax on a chair, but whether it is a practical joke against the sitter, or a metaphor for helping in creative imagination is not clear.
Baito means “Sit down” in Hindi.


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