"The Tie"

Notes on the text

These notes, by John McGivering, are partly new, and partly based on the ORG. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Limits and Renewals, as published and frequently reprinted between 1932 and 1950.

[July 10th 2008]

[Page 77 line 6] died of tubercle after gas Men who survived an attack by poison-gas were often left with scar tissue in their lungs, and were susceptible to tuberculosis. (See also Black's Medical Dictionary page 328, and “Fairy-Kist” page 164 later in this volume)

[Page 77 line 7] 26th Battalion …etc. an imaginary regiment.

[Page 77 line 15] E. C. in this context a postal district of London, meaning East Central. See “His Gift” (Land and Sea Tales page 77 line 6).

[Page 77 line 20] Blagstowe an imaginary place.

[Page 78 line 13] the unjust caterer an echo of the 'Parable of the Unjust Steward', Luke, 16.

[Page 78 line 21] six shillings a head The equivalent of some £13 in 2008.

[Page 78 line 25] break bread with us share a meal – an echo of the 'Last Supper', in Matthew 26.

[Page 78 line 28] Jambons à la Grecque ham prepared in the Greek manner, cooked in olive-oil with herbs, lemon-juice or vinegar

[Page 78 line 31] blancmange a jelly prepared with milk, a rather insipid dish, familiar to anyone who has attended a boarding-school.

[Page 79 line 6] ptomaine poisoning dangerous poisoning by toxic chemical substances produced when food rots.

isn’t cricket not the gentlemanly way to behave, here meaning 'not fair.'

[Page 79 line 14] libel defamation of character – written, printed or broadcast.

[Page 79 line 19] round-robin a petition or complaint that is signed in a circle so the name of the ringleader is not apparent.

[Page 79 line 20] not half a bad bit of English either He is saying that it was well-written, probably trenchant, vivid, and to the point. However, his praise of it is 'dead common' and not, one hopes, a sample of his usual prose! 'Not half' is a Cockney expression.

[Page 79 line 21] ‘simple of themselves’ without good ingredients being spoiled by over-elaborate cooking.

[Page 79 line 32] pickets usually a small party of troops patrolling ahead of the main body, but in this case manning a road-block.

[Page 80, line 8] at the rate of knots a pseudo-nautical expression supposed to mean 'fast'. [During some years at sea I never heard a sailor use it; Ed.]

[Page 80 line 14] Old E. H. W. School There is no such school, but the initials might stand for Eton, Harrow and Winchester, all famous old-established British public schools: see “An English School” (Land and Sea Tales) and the 'Stalky' stories.

[Page 80 line 18] Higher Counterjumpery by Transatlantic out of Top-Hat a play on the desription of a horse's breeding - name, name of sire, name of dam. A contemptuous term for a male shop-assistant in vogue at the time; the sire is American business methods and the dam Top-Hat. Thus it signifies highly developed selling methods based on American business ruthlessness combined with British style, though in a somewhat ill-bred manner.

[Page 81 line 18] the Eternal Verities a book of instruction in Theosophy - see “The Sending of Dana Da” (Soldiers Three).

[Page 82 line 31] a beak a schoolmaster or a magistrate – in this context, the former.

[Page 83 line 30] Omnes the Latin for 'all' – here used as a stage direction meaning 'all to speak together'.

[Page 85 line 11] ossuary a bone-house, where exhumed skeletons are stored to make room for new burials in the graveyard.

educated privately taught by private tutors at home.

[Page 85 line 17] as the islanders looked at St. Paul they thought he was a murderer when a viper bit him; but he came to no harm and they then thought he was a god. The story of his shipwreck on Malta is told in Acts 27 and 28. See also the Notes to “The Manner of Men” later in this volume.

[Page 85 line 18] dura ilia messorum an echo of “Don Juan” by the romantic poet Lord Byron (1788-1824):

O Dura illa messorum
Oh Ye rigid guts of reapers!" I translate
For the great benefit of those who know
What indigestion is -- that inward fate
Which makes all Styx through one small liver flow.
A peasant's sweat is worth his lord's estate:
Let this one toil for bread -- that rack for rent,
He who sleeps best may be the most content.

["Don Juan", Canto the Ninth, XV]
The Styx is one of the rivers of Hades across which Charon ferried the shades of the departed. Kipling suffered from a stomach ulcer for many years, and eventually died of it.

[Page 85 line 27] one learns to lie in the Army quicker even than on the land perhaps a somewhat distorted echo of Kipling’s “Poseidon’s Law” explaining how the Brass-bound Man possesses:

The soul that cannot tell a lie – except upon the land !
[Page 86 line 10] Nineveh was saved An echo of Jonah 4,11: 'that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand.' [Strictly, 'sixscore thousand' is 120,000 rather than the 'six hundred thousand' that Christopher Mervyn cited. But he was trying to excuse himself to his irate superior, and in any case Kipling was probably quoting from memory; Ed.]

"The Totem"


First published in Limits and Renewals (1932) where it precedes “The Tie”; collected in the Sussex Edition volume 11 page 73, and volume 34 page 404; also collected in Inclusive Verse, Definitive Verse and The Works of Rudyard Kipling (Wordsworth Poetry Library)

Notes on the text

[Title] Totemism is the world-wide belief that an animal, plant or object is of benefit to a nation or tribe: normally associated with native Americans who make impressive and highly-decorated emblems of their belief in the form of tall poles but here referring to The Old School Tie which may sometimes be of benefit to the wearer.

This belief still persists today, as witness the importance attached to national flags, to regimental and other emblems like the Red Bull on a Green Field on the flags and mess silver in Kim, and — in some circles — to The Old School Tie.

See The English Public Schools, Ritualism, Freemasonry and Imperialism by P.J. Rich (Regency Press, London & New York, 1989), reviewed in KJ 255/46. The sub-title of the book indicates its subject-matter, which is largely concerned with the intimate link between the traditional British Public School system (with its highly developed ritualistic culture) and the 19th century British Empire.

See the Headnote for a critical view by Hilton Brown, and KJ 075/08 for “Kipling and the Old School Tie” by Sir Christopher Robinson, and KJ 273/56 for a letter suggesting a tie for the Kipling Society .

[Verse 1]

the Brethren the school is regarded as a Masonic Lodge. (see Verse 2) and “The Mother-Lodge”.

[Verse 2]

‘ Bunny,’ ‘Stinker,' ‘Podge' the nickname, often based on physical characteristics is likely to last for life. See Something of Myself Chapter 2, and Schooldays with Kipling by George Beresford ('Turkey'). Kipling's own nickname at United Services College was 'Gigger' because he was the only boy in the school who wore glasses ('gig-lamps'). In Stalky & Co. and those stories which refer back to schooldays, he figures as 'Beetle'.

[Verse 3]

palm and toe he was slapped and kicked.

[Verse 4]

Oppressing as oppressed he is old enough to bully the younger boys. See "The Moral Reformers" (Stalky & Co.).

[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2008 All rights reserved