A Book of Words – II

“The Claims of Art”

Artists’ General Benevolent Institution
9 May 1907

(notes by Leonee Ormond)


The Times, 10 May 1907, page 9. Published in pamphlet form, by A. Forbes Sieveking, London,1907. Collected in A Book of Words, Macmillan, London, 1928.


The dinner was held in the Whitehall Rooms of the Hotel Metropole with Kipling in the Chair. The Institution, whose 92nd Anniversary dinner this was, was founded in 1814 in order to relieve artists in difficulties and their families.

Kipling began by praising the work of the Institution, putting in a plea for artists who have not been successful in a worldly sense and their dependents. All of his audience, he said, must have known someone who, however talented, had fallen into poverty. This was not a defeat, but it had the appearance of defeat and it was good to think that the Institution was there to help.

Notes on the Text

(the page and line numbers below refer to the Uniform Edition of A Book of Words Macmillan, London 1928)

[Page 11, line 3] King Solomon King of Israel in the 10th Century BC. Builder of the Temple and famous for his wisdom. In “The Butterfly that Stamped” Kipling calls him ‘Suleiman bin Daoud.’

[Page 11, lines 4-7] the race was not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong … ‘ … Nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all’ Ecclesiastes 9.11.

[Page 14, line 2] Cruikshank George Cruikshank (1792-1878), artist and illustrator, particularly known for his illustrations to Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist (right) (1837-9).

[Page 14, line 9] stropping their razors the ‘strop’ was the strip of leather on which razors were sharpened.


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