[March 24th 2010]
In his new (February 2010) Bibliography David Alan Richards notes that the first part of the play was published in The Flag in 1908 with a second scene "An Unrecorded Trial", in The Car on July 25, 1913. There is an American copyright edition of 1913. The play was collected in vol. xxv of the Bombay Edition The Muse Among the Motors in 1919.
A revised text of the whole appeared in Poems, 1886-1929 in 1929. The same text, with the twenty-five other poems of the series appeared in Inclusive Verse in 1933, Definitive Verse in 1940, the Sussex Edition vol. xxxv, pp. 149-166, and the Burwash Edition vol. xxviii.
In the various revisions of the play the former title “An Unrecorded Trial” was changed to “The Marrèd Drives of Windsor” and the Acts were renumbered.
Like "The Merry Wives of Windsor" on which its title is based, it has a complicated and improbable plot, ending with the survival of Falstaff after various undignified adventures in which he displays wit, impudence, a splendid flow of language, and a thirst for strong drink.
With Prince Hal and his followers, Falstaff has been driving through London. Their car has broken down in the City, and they have repaired exhausted to a tavern for some restorative sack. There they hear that Poins has restarted the car, and that it has gone out of control, running people over, battering a house and now lying wrecked.
They are brought to trial at Westminster before the Lord Chief Justice on trumped up charges for speeding, where they are successfully defended by Portia. She argues that the accident was not their fault, that cars have their life-saving uses, that the Judge should be merciful, and that in any case it is too late to try to hold back the motor age. When asked by the Prince what reward she seeks, she asks for her own car.
Various other Shakespearian characters appear, including Ariel, Hamlet, Shylock, Benedick, Beatrice, and Andrew Aguecheek, making speeches echoing well-known lines, and giving the author further opportunities for exuberant parody. The Prince buys an insurance policy from Shylock, and Feste the jester brings down the curtain with a plangent lament.
Some critical comments
Ann Weygandt notes (pp. 34/35) that as a schoolboy at United Services College:
... Kipling had "hundreds of old plays" at his disposal in the Head's library, and we gather from a remark in "The Uses of Reading" [A Book of Words p. 92] that the Elizabethan dramatists meant a great deal to him ... his true devotion is evidently to Shakespeare, and to a lesser extent to MarloweWeygandt continues (pp. 58/59):
A survey of Kipling's passing references to Shakespeare has shown us the extent of his acquaintance with his elder, and provided us with a theory as to his favorite plays. But if Kipling had made no allusions to them save in "The Marrèd Drives of Windsor," ... we should still have been able to arrive at conclusions concerning his knowledge of, and preferences for, Shakespeare's various works.Kipling and Shakespeare
Harry Ricketts (p. 63) tells of a parlour-game in the Kipling household in Lahore:
Sometimes they would have a Shakespeare evening, with only quotations from the Bard allowed and no checking of references until the following morning. Part of the fun was to see how much fake Shakespeare they could get away with undetected. Rud, already an accomplished parodist, was especially good at coming up with plausible lines such asSee also our notes on his "How Shakespeare came to write "The Tempest" ". Also the notes by Lisa Lewis on his uncompleted psuedo-Jacobean play "Gow's Watch" .
This apology for the piece is in the dignified style of Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), known as Dr Johnson—English essayist, poet, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer—who is often regarded as one of the most distinguished men of letters in English history. His edition of the works of Shakespeare with notes and emendations appeared in 1765.
Johnson, seldom using a short word if he can find a long one, begins with somewhat faint praise of the play, but finds some good in it as a release from the demands of scholarship, in a similar manner to the relief found in laughter. Dr Tompkins examines this in her Chapter 2, where she looks at some of the laughter-provoking stories; observing that:
What strain, then, requires to be relaxed in such boisterous abandon ? Kipling is not explicit in the tales themselves, but, tucked away where one would least think of looking for it, in the Johnsonian Preface to ‘The Marrèd Drives of Windsor’… we find the assertion that …’those same forces of natural genius, which expatiate in splendour and passion, demand for their refreshment and sanity an abruptness of release and lawlessness of invention, proportioned to precedent constrictions.'See Shakespeare in Themes in Kipling’s Works, for the tales, and—among the poems— "The Coiner" and "The Craftsman".
[Title] A pun on Shakespeare’s play “The Merry Wives of Windsor” - 'mar' in this context meaning to spoil.
[Line 5] Hamlet hero of the play of the same name.
[Line 5] Falstaff see below.
[Lines 7-12] discuss the release obtained by laughter See Dr Tompkins Chapter 2 on the subject.
[Line 15] concatenation a linking together
[Line 15] adumbrate to give only the main facts and not the details about a matter; in modern parlance, to summarise.
Dramatis Personae Characters in the play. Argument in this context means a summary.
[Line 1] sack fortified wine, like sherry, imported from Spain and the Canary Islands. .
[Line 2] Falstaff refused to march his ragged band of followers through the city. A reference to "Henry IV, Part I".
[Line 5] Hostess she is Mistress Quickly, Hostess of The Boar's Head in Eastcheap, in "Henry IV, Part I".
[Line 21] the Lord’s Anointed Since ancient times kings in Christian countries have been anointed—smeared with holy oil—at their coronation, as a mark of divine approval. Falstaff is premature; Henry would not be anointed until he succeeded his father to the Crown.
This echoes the 18th century song "The Vicar of Bray", about a vicar who skilfully adapted his preaching to the political climate of the day. In the reign of Charles II he insisted:
'Kings are by God appointed,[Line 22] foining thrusting with a pointed weapon.
[Line 22] Shrewsbury Castle Henry IV defeated the rebellious Percies there in 1403 ("Henry IV, Part I").
[Line 29] the street being full of Ephesians of the old church The reference is to St Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, the people of Ephesus. whom he was anxious to reconcile with other Christian churches. Falstaff probaby means old-fashioned people opposed to motoring and motorists.
[Line 34] Jove or Jupiter, King of the gods, and the god of sky and thunder in Roman mythology.
[Line 37] Sackerson a bear used for the cruel and long illegal “sport” of bear-baiting, by dogs, carried on in a pit at Paris Garden on Bankside, just over the Thames from the City of London in the 16th and 17th Centuries.
[Line 40] Sheriff’s Watch an early form of police.
red flag required to be carried in front of motor vehicles until the repeal of the 1865 Locomotive Act. This also had required vehicles to travel no faster than 4 mph (6·4 km/h).
[Line 41] Jack in this context not only a Christian name but also an apparatus for lifting a vehicle off the ground in order to change a wheel.
[Line 42] stamped like a butter-pat hand-churned butter was usually impressed with the emblem of the farm it came from with a wooden 'stamp'.
[Line 46] Atlas a hero of various legends – usually seen holding the world on his shoulder.
[Line 48] Faugh! an exclamation of disgust and surprise used by Ben Jonson [Oxford English Dictionary]. See Kipling's parody of Jonson, "To a Lady, Persuading Her to a Car" .
a smutty-wicked lamp an oil lamp is liable to smoke if the wick is not trimmed occasionally to remove the burnt particles.
[Line 50] buckbasket a (usually) wicker basket used for laundry. The bodies of some cars were then made of basketwork.
[Line 54] Brugs’ Hall window probably the famous windows in Bruges Town Hall in Belgium.
[Line 55] ‘prentices apprentices – young men bound by contract to serve their masters for seven years to learn a trade. They were liable to riot on occasion.
What- Ho ! "What-Ho – She Bumps !" is a once famous music-hall song by Harry Castling (1865-1933), a lyricists who had many similar successes. Kipling loved the 'Halls', which were the main places of entertainment for working people in his early days in London.
[Line 61] turnspit in this context the simple machinery that revolves a joint of meat before the fire, or the boy that turns it; a menial task.
[Line 61] lieges masters, entitled to service.
[Line 62] Apollo also known as Helios or Hyperion, the sun-god of Greek legend, who drove the chariot of the sun which was drawn by white horses.
[Line 63] Phæton son of Phoebus, God of the Sun, who drove his father’s chariot but was upset, causing parts of Africa to become desert. An elegant four-wheeled carriage is named after him.
[Llne 70] Walloons French-speaking descendants of the ancient Belgæ living in what is now Belgium and part of France; good soldiers, they appear in several of the plays. In the early days of motoring Walloons were often employed as chauffeurs in England.
[Line 73] Dumain there are several characters of this name but none is royal. It is possible that Kipling, working from memory, has confused this name with John, Count of Dunois, an illegitimate son of Louis, Duke of Orleans, who appears with Joan of Arc in “King Henry VI Part I”. It is not clear why Kipling's Falstaff utters such a tirade here, echoing "The Justice's Tale".
[Line 78] corn-cutter an early chiropodist. who treated afflictions of the feet, and was skilled at removing 'corns', painful accretions of horny skin.
[Line 78] Ypres a Belgian city in the Flemish province of West Flanders.
[Line 79] Rouen the historic capital of Normandy in northern France on the River Seine. Talbot was captured there when Falstaff deserted him. (“Henry IV” Part I).
[Line 83] Holborn a district of London and an importasnt street mentioned in “Richard III”.
kennel A sleeping place for a dog. In this context the gutter.
[Line 88] cote-armour usually 'coat-armour', the coat of arms born on his armour by a gentleman or nobleman. See "A Displaie of New Heraldrie".
[Line 89] ostler a stable-man who looks after horses.
[Line 90] oiling the cars of the time had to be lubricated by hand with an oil-can.
[Line 92] three baronies in eight hours a barony was the land subject to a baron and could consist of estates scattered throughout the country. An echo of "The Moral": 'I’ll sling you through six counties in a day'.
[Line 93] the very essence of the petrol that fumes him petrol, then as now, was the main fuel for cars, known as 'gasoline' in the USA, and 'essence' in France. According to Kipling's footnote it is as explosive as a petard, an archaic word for bomb.
This is an echo of “Hamlet” (Act III scene iv) : 'For 'tis the sport to see the enginer Hoist with his own petar' (blown up by his own bomb). Kipling amuses himself with footnotes to give an air of scholarship to this delightful fragment.
Horne Took may be John Horne Tooke, formerly John Horne (1736–1812), radical philologist; we have not traced his private notes.
[Line 95] the first speed gears were known as 'speeds' at the time.
[Line 102] vizaments the process of looking at or viewing; observation, notice, attention, consideration. [Oxford English Dictionary]. Fluellen is given Shakespeare’s idea of a Welsh accent, much as Kipling makes Mulvaney what some readers see as a stage Irishman in the Soldier stories.
[Line 103] Monmouth a town in south-east Wales and county town of the historic County of Monmouthshire, close to the English border.
Henry V, immortalised by Shakespeare for his victory over the French at the battle of Agincourt in 1415, was born in Monmouth Castle in 1387, and brought up at Courtfield nearby.
[Line 105] Pabes babes, ‘ooman (woman), tamnably (damnably), all express Fluellen's Welsh accent.
[Line 109] crowns A play on words – the crown worn by a king and the top of the head.
[Line 111] Most gracious lord... the heralds, being dignified officers, speak in dignified decasyllables, as do other characters below.
[Line 117] touring-car this usually implied an open car, with or without a moveable hood, as opposed to a fully-enclosed saloon; sometimes the passengers were enclosed but not the driver, in which case the car was a sedanca.
The Touraine an ancient province of France, with its capital at Tours - now divided between the departments of Indre-et-Loire, Loir-et-Cher and Indre. It is the scene of some of the Plays.
William Warburton (1698-1779), Bishop of Gloucester and Shakespearian scholar. We have not traced his observation about the Touraine cart.
[Line 118] heroics in this context, verse in epic poetry, with lines of eight or ten syllables.
[Line 120] boltered brow the hair matted with clotted blood – an echo of “Macbeth”: 'The blood-boltered Banquo smiles upon me.'
[Line 126] Anon in this context, 'soon'.
[Line 131] the Duchy He was created Duke of Lancaster on 10 November 1399.
[Line 134] Star Chamber an echo of “The Merry Wives of Windsor”. This court took its name from the "Star Chamber" or "Starred Chamber" built for the meetings of the King's Council. It was created inder Henry VII (1485-1509) to ensure the effective enforcement of laws against people so powerful that ordinary courts could never convict. The Court sat in private with no indictments, no right of appeal, no juries, and no witnesses; evidence was presented in writing. Indictment before the Court of Star Chamber was thus a very serious matter.
[Line 135] Glasses, Glasses, glasses is the only drinking “Henry IV“.
Doll an abbreviation of Dorothy. 'Doll Tearsheet' appears in several of Skakespeare's plays and though described as “a gentlewoman” is probably no better shan she should be; 'Tearsheet' is believed to be a corruption of Tearstreet – a prostitute.
[Line 138] herein fail not at your peril the wording often appearing in a subpoena, a formal document summoning a witness to court.
[Line 139] some dealings with this same Chief Justice he severely admonishes Falstaff in "Henry IV Part II".
[Line 142] Exeunt A stage direction They all lave the stage (Latin.)
Prince Henry, Poins etc. see Act I[Line 1] red rear-lamp Bardolph has a very red face.
[Line 2] Southwark a district of London just over the Thames from the City.
[Line 6] fed my father’s exchequer he had been fined for two offences. The 'exchequer' is the financial department of government.
[Line 13] ropperies robberies.
[Line 15] When they cry Budget To play (at) mumbudget: to keep silent. (now archaic). [Oxford English Dictionary].
[Line 17] Welsh flannel a famous hard-weating cloth made in Wales.
[Line 22] steeped crusts crusts of bread soaked in (probably) milk
[Line 23] mumble In this context 'to eat slowly and ineffectually; to chew as with toothless gums'. Now rare. [Oxford English Dictionary].
[Line 35] ink-horn the horn of a cow or other animal made into an ink-bottle and worn on the girdle.
[Line 42] ten leagues the hour 30 miles, or 48 km. per hour. A great speed in those days.
[Line 46] a stopped watch a stopwatch is used for ascertaining speeds
[Line 47] forsworn perjured, having lied on oath.
[Line 52] kennel in this context the gutter.
[Line 57] In such a car as this an echo of “The Merchant of Venice” Act V, scene i, Lorenzo speaks:
The moon shines bright - in such a night as this,[Line 61] Huntingdon the county town of the shire of the same name, north of London, bordering on Cambridgeshire.
[Line 65] Berwick Berwick-upon-Tweed An ancient town in Northumberland, on the east coast of England at the mouth of the River Tweed, just south of the Scottish border.
Glamorgan a former county of Wales.
[Line 66] Brighthelmstone an early name for Brighton in Sussex, on the South coast of England.
[Line 70] chirurgeon a surgeon (archaic) Portia’s speech—which somewhat echoes “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”—shows the benefit of the car by bringing the doctor to a sick child.
See "Contradictions” earlier in this series, and “ 'They' ” in Traffics and Discoveries.
[Line 72] fays fairies.
[Line 74] coney’s burrow rabbit-hole.
[Line 76] thrid to make one’s way through - to thread.
[Line 86] Cotsall an alternative for 'Cotswold' used in several of Shakespeare's plays. The Cotswold Hills are in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire in the west of England. See “Toby Dog” in Thy Servant a Dog p. 96 lines 3-5: 'That place was colder than Cotswold when I was a young ’un.'
[Line 88] Doll see Act I Line 135 above.
[Line 89] dunghill a manure-heap. Falstaff is so addressed in “The Merry Wives of Windsor”.
[Line 93] the unprobeable decree of Time This word may have been coined by Kipling. We take it to mean 'Such as commends itself to reason or acceptance', 'unchallengeable'.
[Line 99] Northumberland Northumberland Avenue runs from Trafalgar Square to the Victoria Embankment in London
[Line 115/6] Put ... shentlemans But .... gentlemen. More expressions of Fluellen's Welsh accent.
the sky shall rain larks A proverb we have not traced.
[Line 134] Where the car slips there slip I... an echo of Ariel’s song in Act V of “The Tempest”: 'Where the bee sucks there sip I...' .
Beatrice daughter of Leonato in “Much Ado About Nothing” A headstrong and outpoken girl.[Line 1] When that I had and a little tinny car... an echo of: 'When that I was and a little Tiny boy...' Feste's song at the end of Act V, “Twelfth Night”.
[Line 6] the wise child an echo of the proverb: 'It’s a wise child that known its own father' There is a variation in “The Merchant of Venice” 'it is a wise father that knows his own child.'
[Line 7] begot … the cooler side of the blanket illegimate.
[Line 11] they pride apart A 'pride' is a group of lions forming a social unit. [Oxford English Dictionary].
[Line 19] Pegasus The winged horse in Greek mythology which sprang from the blood of the Gorgon Medusa when she was beheaded by Perseus.
[Line 22] double This pseudo-scholarly footnote explains the cryptogram which supports the theory that the works of Shakespeare were written by others—a belief that Kipling does not share—and is discussed in our notes on "The Propagation of Knowledge".
See also “Dayspring Mishandled” (Limits and Renewals page 22 line 17) for another cypher devised by Kipling.
[Line 4] Nicholas Bacon Sir Nicholas Bacon (1510-1579), English politician and father of Sir Francis Bacon.
[Line 6] Frances Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban, KC (1561-1626), son of Nicholas Bacon. He was a notable philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, and author.
[Line 11] Nessa Droenberg not traced.
[Line 15] distant and home signals On a railway line, the “distant” signal is placed, as its name implies, a quarter-mile (400 metres) or so ahead of the “home” signal and repeats the message of the “home” signal in order to give the driver time to slow his train and stop if necessary.
[Line 21] Professor O. P. Callowitz see our notes on “The Propagation of Knowledge”. . We have not traced the Professor or his book but have found William Shakespeare Not an Impostor by An English Critic (J. Routledge & Co., 1857).
See also: KJ 233/46, KJ 234/32, & KJ 236/40 . This play is evidence—if it were needed—that Kipling was not a Baconian. Also KJ 295/86, an examination of Kipling’s accounts of the two Bacons, Francis here and Roger in “The Eye of Allah”. (Debits and Credits).
[Line 35] Bridewells Bridewell Prison, on the River Fleet in central London, was established as a 'House of Correction' for disorderly women in 1553. It remained a prison until the mid-19th Century.
[Line 38] hearsays Rumours. But Kipling's footnote also quotes the punning hearses, implying as an untrained driver, Portia would be dangerous – hence the possible reference to a 'hearse', used for taking coffins to funerals.
Warburton see the note on Act I [Line 117] above.
[Line 49] she-kite the female bird of prey Milvus milvus.
[Line 51] entertain conjecture of a time an echo of “Henry V" (Act IV, Prologue), on the eve of battle:
Now entertain conjecture of a time[Line 52] horses fed to hounds foxhounds are often fed on horsemeat but this implies all horses have been eaten and replaced by motor-vehicles.
[Line 56] on the wood A sarcastic footnote. In Kipling's day, some streets in London were still surfaced with tarred wooden blocks, which were slippery in wet weather, so that motor-cyclists and their pillion-passengers often came to grief.
[Line 58] Signor the Italian equivalent of Mister.
[Line 59] owlings not found in the Oxford English Dictionary, but from context perhaps 'howlings'.
[Line 60] va’ward Perhaps 'vanguard', the foremost division of an army in battle. See Steevens below.
Steevens Perhaps George Steevens (1736-1800), a Shakespearean commentator whom Kipling seems to credit with the belief that va’ward is used by John Ford, who wrote "'Tis Pity She's a Whore" and "The Lovers Melancholy". The latter was well known to Kipling, since he quotes from Act IV scene ii in the heading to "Love-o’-Women" in Many Inventions:
'A lamentable tale of things[Line 63] To have at a man to attack him, usually with a sword.
[Line 64] running-board a step at the side of the car, nowadays only seen on 4 X 4s and commercial vehicles.
Johnson see Note to the Preface above. This footnote is obviously a joke.
[Line 65] Claudio In “Much Ado About Nothing”. He slanders Hero on her wedding-day, and Beatrice tells Benedick to kill him.
[Line 68] I have a bond This is an echo of “The Merchant of Venice”; see the note on Shylock above.
[Line 72] ducats gold coins in use in Italy in Shakespeare's day. Shylock loaned Bassanio three thousand ducats.
[Line 73] leech in this context a doctor of medicine
[Line 72] Jessica Shylock’s daughter in “The Merchant of Venice”.
[Line 88] a mad woman Ophelia in “Hamlet”.
[Line 89] borage Borago officinalis an ingredient of some drinks - sometimes used in salads. Nicholas Culpeper in his Herbal of 1652, celebrated by Kipling in "A Doctor of Medicine" (Rewards and Fairies), provides authority for the footnote, calling borage: 'one of the herbs of Jupiter - great cordials and great strengtheners of nature.'
Borage has many medicinal properties and has been used for treating various ailments, from sore throats to poultices for swellings. The ancient Greeks added it to wine and drank it before going into battle.
For Ophelia’s flowers see “Hamlet”, Act IV, scene v.:
There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that's for thoughts ... There's fennel for you, and columbines. There's rue for you ; and here's some for me. We may call it herb of grace a Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference. There's a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they wither'd all when my father died.[Line 101] arraigned accused.
Mr. Malone probably Edmond (Edmund ) Malone (1741-1812) Irish Shakespearean scholar and editor of his works.
[Line 7] M. Mason not traced.
[Line 102] murdress probably Lady Macbeth, who kills the King.
a Moor “Othello”.
a mad king “King Lear”.
[Line 113] that car rolls Rolls-Royce is still a famous make of British car. In the 1920s Kipling drove many miles in France in his.
fifty roystering steeds Fifty spirited horses, fifty horse-power. Horse power (HP) was originally calculated so as to compare the power of steam engines with the power of draft horses. It was commonly used to express engine power in the early days of motoring. See Kipling's poem "Song of Seventy Horses". (Nowadays it is more common to refer to the cubic capacity of the engine, in litres or cubic centimetres.)
[Line 115] IIlyria a country on the east coast of the Adriatic, scene of “Twelfth Night”.
let’s liquor out of him Let his drink out of him, relieve himself.
[Line 118] klaxon a motor-horn with particularly harsh notes.
sexton a church official with various responsibilities including grave-digging.
Sir T. Hanmer Sir Thomas Hanmer, 4th Baronet (1677-1746) Speaker of the House of Commons from 1714 to 1715 but probably best remembered as an early editor of the works of Shakespeare. He did not reveal his sources and is not, therefore, very highly regarded by scholars.
[Line 120] joiners men skilled in woodwork
[Line 123] beaks slang for magistrates
[Line 124] roasting cabs overheated motor taxi-cabs. An echo of the final lines of Shakespeare's "Love's Labours Lost" (Act V sc. ii):
When all aloud the wind doth blow,The 'roasted crabs' are, of course, crab-apples rather than crustaceans, and the 'parson's saw' a witticism rather than a tool.
[J McG. / J.R.]
©John McGivering and John Radcliffe 2010 All rights reserved