#150 Rudyard Kipling
March 09th, 2016
LOCATION: 339 West Pender, site of the Acland Hood Hall, aka Pender Hall, Dominion Hall and Boilermakers Hall.
Perhaps the most enthusiastic reception ever accorded to a visiting writer in British Columbia was given to Rudyard Kipling–the chief literary cheerleader for the British Empire–when he addressed the one-year-old Canadian Club at the Acland Hood Hall, next door to a grocer’s shop run by John F. Maythe (later the Battery House) at Pender & Howe, on October 7, 1907, the year he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. “Such land is good for the energetic man,” Kipling wrote of British Columbia. “It is also not so bad for the loafer.”
As John Mackie has written for The Vancouver Sun, the building at 339 West Pender was destroyed by a fire in 2003. “The historic structure was officially called the Victory Block, and in later years the Marine Workers hall was known as the Pender Ballroom or Pender Auditorium. In the 1960s, it was the original home of the Afterthought, Vancouver’s first psychedelic club. The Grateful Dead played their first Vancouver show there in 1966.”
“Blessed be the English and all that they profess.
Cursed be the savages that prance in nakedness.
Blessed be the English and everything they own.
Cursed be the Infidels that bow to wood and stone.” — Rudyard Kipling
When Kipling had first arrived in Vancouver in 1892, the City Solicitor named St. George Hamersley, a member of the Inner Bar, London, was asked if he might greet the visiting writer named Kipling. “Kipling! Who the devil is Kipling?” the lawyer reportedly said. “Never heard of the man!” Sam Rob, a reporter sent by J.C. McLagan to meet Kipling’s evening train and gain an interview for The World newspaper, was perplexed when Kipling didn’t get off the train. He sent a note, pleading for an interview on the grounds that Kipling had granted an interview in Winnipeg. Kipling wrote back: “Dr. Mr. Rob. I am very sorry to disappoint you with your city editor, but the Winnipeg interviews you mention were the product of the fertile imagination of Winnipeg newspapermen, and, as a humble worker in the field of fiction I have no doubt I shall read with interest in The World tomorrow of your interview with me tonight.”
Fifteen years later Kipling was met by the Mayor, presidents of the Board of Trade and provincial government members. An overflow audience of over 500 attended his luncheon speech. Women weren’t invited; there was not enough room. But women came anyway, crowding the hall to its doors, filling the spectator gallery. “There is a crafty network of organizations of business men called Canadian Clubs,” Kipling wrote. “They catch people who look interesting, assemble their members during the mid-day lunch hour, and, tying the victim to a steak, bid him discourse on anything that he thinks he knows.”
Born in Bombay, India on December 30, 1865, Kipling had been greatly impressed by British Columbia during his wedding tour of North America in 1892. He admired the efficiency of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. “Always the marvel to which Canadians seem insensible,” he wrote, “was that on one side of an imaginary line should be Safety, Law, Honour and Obedience, and on the other, frank, brutal decivilization.” Kipling was so pleased with Vancouver that he purchased a town lot in the Mt. Pleasant area (subdivision 264A, Ward Five) prior to embarking for Japan from the CPR dock on the Empress of India on April 4, 1892. “He that sold it to me was a delightful English boy,” Kipling later wrote in American Notes. “All the boy said was, ‘I give you my word it isn’t on a cliff or under water, and before long the town ought to move out that way.’ And I took it as easily as a man buys a piece of tobacco. I became owner of 400 well-developed pines, thousands of tons of granite scattered in blocks at the roots of the pines, and a sprinkling of earth. That’s a town lot in Vancouver. You or your agent hold onto it till property rises, then sell out and buy more land farther out of town and repeat the process. I do not quite see how this sort of thing helps the growth of a town, but the English boy says it is the ‘essence of speculation’ so it must be all right. But I wish there were fewer pines and rather less granite on the ground.”
Kipling was duped. When he returned in 1907, he learned that he’d been paying taxes on property legally owned by someone else. Privately, Kipling wrote, “All the consolation we got from the smiling people of Vancouver was: “You bought that from Steve, did you? Ah-hah, Steve! You hadn’t ought to ha’ bought from Steve. No! Not from Steve!’ And thus did the good Steve cure us of speculating in real estate.” Unfazed, he published glowingly positive newspaper articles praising the enterprising West Coast whalers. Nary a word appeared about his property loss. In 1907, after receiving a standing, cheering ovation and a Moroccan leather case, embossed with his initials, containing his honourary lifetime membership to the Canadian Club, Kipling rose to discourse on Vancouver. He compared the city to the head of an army bravely passing through the mountains “to secure a stable Western civilization facing the Eastern Sea.” Frequently interrupted by applause, he added, “If I had not as great faith as I have in our breed, and in our race, I would tremble at your responsibilities.” When later asked by a reporter for the Vancouver World newspaper about “the all-absorbing topic of Hindoo immigration,” Kipling confided he “had come six thousand miles to study it.” He added, “I have seen all Hindoos in many places and they are the same all over except that here they seem to be more timid and weak than is their wont.” Kipling concluded this was due to the weather.
Kipling was also wildly enthusiastic about Victoria, having first visited in 1889. He wrote, “To realize Victoria you must take all that the eye admires most in Bournemouth, Torquay, the Isle of Wight, the Happy Valley at Hong Kong, the Doon, Sorrento, and Camps Bay; add reminiscences of the Thousand Islands, and arrange the whole round the Bay of Naples, with some Himalays for the background. Real estate agents recommend it as a little piece of England–the island on which it stands is about the size of Great Britain–but no England is set in any such seas or so fully charged with the mystery of the larger ocean beyond. The high, still twilights along the beaches are out of the old East just under the curve of the world, and even in October the sun rises warm from the first Earth, sky and water wait outside every man’s door to drag him out to play if he looks up from his work; and, though some other cities in the Dominion do not quite understand this immoral mood of Nature, men who have made their money in them go off to Victoria, and with the zeal of converts preach and preserve its beauties…. I tried honestly to render something of the color, the gaiety, and the graciousness of the town and the island, but only found myself piling up unbelievable adjectives, and so let it go with a hundred other wonders.”
Kipling was forever spewing venom about Huns, Yids and Micks. He was equally contemptuous of trade unionists, liberals and suffragettes. Kipling’s rhetoric was taken seriously in British Columbia, an outpost of Empire. He ominously advised, “The time is coming when you will have to choose between the desired reinforcements of your own stock and blood, and the undesired races to whom you are strangers, whose speech you do not understand, and from whose instincts and traditions you are separated by thousands of years.”
He died in 1936.
Historian John Bosher has written about Kipling on Vancouver Island in “Vancouver Island and the Kiplings,” The Kipling Journal (London), vol. 83, no. 332 (June 2009), pp. 8-22.
BOOKS (mentioning British Columbia)
From Sea to Sea and Other Sketches: Letters of Travel (London, 1900)
Letters of Travel 1892-1897 (Doubleday, 1941).
The Letters of Rudyard Kipling (McMillan), edited by Thomas Pinney
[An unpublished poem by Rudyard Kipling, written following a “night out” with the late John Vitrue, proprietor of the Oak Bay Hotel, Victoria, in November 1907, has come to light. Kipling reputedly wrote the poem before ending his vacation in Victoria and presented it to Mr. Virtue, who framed the original and allowed some of his friends to have copies.]
A gilded mirror, and a polished bar,
Myriads of glasses strewn ajar,
A kind of faced man all dressed in white,
That’s my recollection of last night.
The streets were narrow and far too long,
Sidewalks slippery, policemen strong,
The slamming door, the sea-going back,
That’s my recollection of getting back.
A rickety staircase and hard to climb,
But I rested often, I’d lots of time,
An awkward keyhole and a misplaced chair,
Informed my wife that I was there.
A heated interior and a revolving bed,
A sea-sick man with an awful head,
Cocktails, Scotch and booze galore,
Were all introduced to the cuspidor.
And in the morning came that jug of ice;
Which is necessary to men of vice,
And when it stilled my aching brain,
Did I swear off?—- I got drunk again.
From: Vancouver Daily Province, Dec. 22, 1945
[Reprinted by permission of the author, J.A. Bosher, “Vancouver Island and the Kiplings,” The Kipling Journal / (London), vol. 83, no. 332 (June 2009), pp. 8-22. ]
Kipling’s first visit to the Pacific coast of British Columbia was in 1889 in the course of his journey from India via Japan and the U.S.A. to London with every intention of making a literary name for himself. He describes his visit in Chapter XXVIII of From Sea to Sea, first published in the Allahabad Pioneer of 7 January 1890, writing specifically of Victoria:
“When I left [Vancouver city] by steamer and struck across the Sound to our naval station at Victoria, Vancouver Island, I found in that quiet English town of beautiful streets quite a colony of old men doing nothing but talking, fishing, and
loafing at the Club. That means that the retired go to Victoria. On a thousand a
year pension a man would be a millionaire in these parts, and for four hundred he
could live well. . . The sight afar off of three British men-of-war and a torpedo boat
consoled me as I returned from Victoria to Tacoma [U.S.A.] and discovered
en route that I was surfeited with scenery.”
Like many British travellers before and after him, he had found an island refuge that was attracting officers, civil servants, and other pensioners from all over the Empire because of its Devon-like climate, abundant cheap land, good fishing and hunting, pretty coastal landscape with snowy mountains beyond, and a society of British gentlemen with their families, the whole well protected by the Royal Navy patrolling out of its station at Esquimalt. A sea voyage of eighty miles separated Victoria from Vancouver city but history as well as geography had made them quite different. In 1889 Vancouver was only three years old, built as a terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway when and where it reached the coast overland from Canada; whereas Victoria had been established forty years earlier by sea from the British Isles and as a separate colony. Attaching it to British Columbia in 1866 and adding the whole to Canada in 1871 had not changed it much. The Union Club mentioned in the above passage was ten years old in 1889 and resembled a London club. With Esquimalt three miles to the west and small settlements a few miles north up the island, Victoria was comparable with outposts such as Bermuda, Hong Kong, Malta, Capetown, or Sydney, Australia, whereas Vancouver was more like Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, and other Canadian towns linked by rail.
Kipling visited the island three times in less than twenty years – in June 1889, April 1892, and October 1907. Was he looking to see whether it might suit him as a place of retirement? His “colony of old men” included veterans of the Indian Army, the Indian Civil Service, the Indian Medical Service, the tea plantations of Darjeeling, and other careers in the Raj. For instance, Major James F. Lennox MacFarlane (1845–1940) of the Royal Artillery read about the Cowichan River and the east coast of Vancouver Island in The Field magazine before Christmas 1867 “sitting on the veranda of our mess bungalow at Ahmedzezzare [Ahmadnagar?], Bombay District, with some of my brother officers …. I exclaimed, ‘By Jove, that’s the place for me. I’ll get there before I die’” and indeed he did so. After some years in retirement as a J.P. hunting, fishing, and breeding horses in 2 County Dublin, Ireland, he lost money by the dishonesty of a lawyer and sold out. He ranched in Alberta for some years but in 1903 bought a hundred acres a few miles south of Cowichan at Mill Bay, where he lived for the rest of his life.¹
Similar gentlemen were continually visiting with a view to settling permanently. More and more Imperials in India found their way to the Island by going home to Britain across the Pacific Ocean via the “Empress” line of passenger ships, which plied regularly between Yokohama and Vancouver from 1891, stopping at Victoria on the way. On 26 June 1907, for example, shortly before Kipling’s third visit, the M.S. Empress of Japan brought Colonel Henry Appleton (1855-1929) who had served the Military Works Department in India with the Royal Engineers since 1877. He had hunted big game and rare plants in Tibet, and was a notable collector of Hiroshige and other Oriental prints which he later exhibited at the Alexandra Ballroom in Victoria before disposing of them to “some of the famous Japanese print collectors of Chicago, Boston, New York, and London.”² Like such officers Kipling had left India and although he had nostalgic memories and wrote continually about the land of his birth he never returned, refusing official posts and even an invitation to join the Prince of Wales on a journey there in 1903.³ His parents likewise retired to England once his father’s work in India no longer kept them there. So alert an observer as Kipling would have known Vancouver Island’s reputation, which had spread throughout the Empire long before. The Cariboo goldrush of 1858, which almost coincided with the Indian Mutiny, seems to have induced a number of sea captains and others to transfer from the East India Company to the shipping service of the Hudson’s Bay Company, commanding ships that carried passengers and cargoes around South America and up to Victoria.
Even before Kipling’s first visit the Island had become one of those places in the Empire noted for its population of retired officers from the British and [British] Indian Armies as well as the Royal Navy and it was promoted as such both locally and Imperially. As early as 1901 a former British consul at Kerch, on the strait between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, remarked in a pamphlet printed in Victoria and evidently directed at prospective immigrant gentlemen, “In the Duncan’s [sic] District there is a very large element of English settlers, including naval and military men, pensioned Indian civil servants, and gentlemen’s younger sons. The amusements are very much those of an English country life, only that THEY COST YOU NOTHING.”4 The author, Captain [later Sir] Clive Phillipps-Wolley (1853-1918), had come out in 1891 to hunt big game and taken to writing verse even more eagerly patriotic than Kipling’s. He was often described as “the Kipling of the West.”5 In his “The Kootenay Prospector” he used a rough local speech equivalent to that of Kipling’s “The Sergeant’s Weddin’.”6 Another minor poet, Robert Service (1874-1958), not yet known for his jolly doggerel about life in the Klondike goldrush of 1898, was entertaining audiences at Duncan in the 1890s with public recitations of Kipling’s verse (and Henry Newbolt’s) while working on British farms in the Cowichan Valley.7 This was not long after Kipling and his American wife had visited the Island in April 1892 during their honeymoon journey Yet another British writer, Harold Begbie (1871-1929), had visited the Island and celebrated the British loyalty he found there in a poem he called “Esau’s Dream of Home,” published in the 3 London Standard.8
Another of the writers who retired to Vancouver Island shortly before Kipling’s third visit was Lieut.-Colonel A.C.P. Haggard, D.S.O. (1854–1923), an older brother of his friend the novelist Sir Henry Rider Haggard. He settled about forty miles north of Victoria in the Cowichan Valley, where Rider visited him in 1916. The island attracted others who knew Kipling or his parents. Among the family’s friends at one time was Major W.F.C. Tayler [sic] (1868-1962) who was born at Bangalore, served for more than eighteen years in India with the 21st Cavalry, as Acting Cantonment Magistrate (Peshawar) in the years 1889-1905, and retired to Victoria in 1910 with his wife, also born in India.9 A younger man who resided on the Island with his family for many years, Major R.G.R. Murray (1888-1973), was born in Quetta, served in the 9th Gurkha Rifles before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps, and never forgot that Kipling once told his mother, “he still couldn’t stop himself from ducking automatically if anyone passed behind his chair, he was so used to having his ears cuffed for no discernible reason when he was studying or reading.”10 This lady was born in Madras circa 1857 as Mary MacInnis MacKay, daughter of George MacKay (circa 1820-1900), a Surgeon-General and Professor at Calcutta. She had lived in India for most of her life with her father and then her husband, who also had a career in the Indian Medical Service.11
The Kiplings had, of course, known the ubiquitous Rivett-Carnac family, so active in the Raj, and two officers in that family lived the last years of their lives on Vancouver Island.12 These were Colonel Percy Temple Rivett-Carnac (1852-1932), born at Rawal-Pindi of India-born British parents, his father in the I.C.S., and Charles Edward Rivett-Carnac (1901–1980), son of a Deputy Inspector-General of Police in India.13 The Colonel had served for 32 years in the Indian Army all over the Empire but especially in India, and the younger man, his great-nephew, had run elephant camps on the Borelli River in the Himalayan foothills, gathered cottonwood timber to be milled and turned into tea boxes on the Brahmaputra River, managed a lime factory at Bisra in Central India, and then moved to Calcutta to work for Bird & Co. in everything from jute to timber, all this before joining the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in western Canada.14
More interesting is the closer acquaintance of the Palmer and Sime families. They arrived on the Island from India in stages beginning in 1910 and an interested descendant, John Palmer, who was heir to their papers, wrote to me:
“Forgive some more notes about Rudyard Kipling but he is of special interest to me for three reasons in addition to his writings. The first is that Kipling’s father was on my other grandfather John Sime’s staff when Sime was Director of Public Instruction for the Punjab. Kipling senior ran a print shop in Lahore. I don’t know if it was a private shop or one set up by the governing authorities, but John Sime used to get his textbooks printed there. I have a nice old photo of the assembled staff of the Education Dep’t, and I’m pretty sure that the senior Kipling is quite evident there. My mother often used to quote her father respecting what the senior Kipling said about his son, viz. ‘I don’t know what to make of Rudyard; he doesn’t seem to be interested in anything.”15
The mother here quoted was Susan Emily Palmer (ca. 1887-1974), née Sime, third and youngest daughter of Dr John Sime, C.I.E. (1843-1911). He was born at Inchture, Perthshire, attended St. Andrews University and in 1864 went out to India, where he became professor at the Government College in Agra five years later. He took a post thereafter as principal at Delhi College, where he spent seven years, and was then appointed principal and professor at the Lahore College until 1885, when he became tutor to the Maharaja of Patiala. In 1887 the government appointed him Inspector of Schools and, three years later, Director of Public Instruction in the Punjab, a post he held for eleven years, and Under-Secretary to the Government in the Education Department.16
It was in Lahore that Rudyard Kipling’s “artistic genius first flowered” during the five years 1882-87 spent near his parents.17 The Kiplings and the Simes must have met there in the Punjab during those years, if not earlier, but the field of education in India then was so broad and complex, the personnel so numerous, that it can hardly be a matter of surprise that the Simes and Palmers are not named in biographies of Rudyard Kipling.18 The Palmer family’s recollection about their collaboration in printing textbooks seems plausible, however, in that one of Dr. Sime’s books, Man and his Duties: a moral reader, containing a simple account of man’s moral nature and of his duties both to God and man (Lahore, 1896, 254 pp., and 1899, 287 pp.) was “prepared at the request of the Punjab Text-Book Committee” and printed at Lahore by Mufid-i-am Press.19 Whatever relations Dr. Sime had with the Kipling family, he married Ann Metcalfe Palmer (1848-1925), daughter of General Henry Palmer (1807-1892), at Mussoorie [Mussourie] in 1871 and it is their descendants on Vancouver Island who have memories of the Kipling family. The one closest to Rudyard Kipling was Dr. Sime’s oldest daughter, Catherine Mary Sime (1874-1945), of whom her nephew writes, “my Aunt Kate (Miss C.M. Sime) was a friend of Rudyard’s, and in fact received a letter from him just about the time of his death. I always regretted that I never asked about its contents, and I’m afraid the letter has not survived.”20
By the time Catherine Sime joined her family on the island in 1926, they were living near thousands of British families, of which more than a hundred had retired from careers in India. Why did they not choose to live near the greater numbers of other such families in Cheltenham, Bedford, Eastbourne, the Kensington or Marylebone districts of London, or in Sussex where Rudyard Kipling eventually settled?21 Even a partial or hypothetical answer to this difficult question may throw some light on Kipling’s movements. Motives are, of course, mixed and discretion often keeps them hidden but in his journal C.G. Palmer left a rare private glimpse of his reasons for retiring to England and then out to Cowichan Valley on the Island. Born in India at Jullunder to a General in the Indian Army, he spoke Urdu and local dialects from childhood, had life-long Indian friends, and spent most of his life as an engineer managing irrigation schemes and famine relief in various parts of India. “I knew many very good and pleasant and reliable Indians; yet I could not fancy ending my days among them. The whole of their social structure is pervaded with chicane, with petty lying and deceit and cheating in some form or another. It forms an unwholesome atmosphere very nauseous to my taste; in the language of the West it makes my moral sense kick like Hell.”22 Here, incidentally, was a person who could appreciate Kipling’s patriotic message about civilization as expressed in poems like “If” (1895), “The White Man’s Burden” (1899), and some of his stories.
More to the point, Palmer went on to explain why he did not settle in England. Having taken his family in 1908 to live in London near the Crystal Palace and not far from a son then at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, Palmer “hated it worse day by day …. The smoke and stuffiness, grime and suburbaness of it all…. the execrable climate, and an enforced scale of expenditure which just exceeded my income.”23 In addition, he was one of the many who could see that the ambitions of the newly-unified Germany, the second Reich, were threatening Britain and the Empire, so he took an active part in an association that was promoting Lord Roberts’ scheme for organizing and training a reserve army of 640,000 young men.24 Working people seemed to favour the scheme but the business and professional men he spoke to argued that a war with Germany was “unthinkable.” When Parliament rejected the scheme, Palmer was alarmed. It was then that he cast about for somewhere else to go and chose Vancouver Island on the advice of Colonel Walter Way Baker (1859-?) of the Royal Engineers, whom he happened to meet in London.25 Baker was born in Bombay to Colonel William Adophus Baker, R.E. (1834-1901), had a long career in India, but spent a year on the Island at Crofton, a few miles north of Cowichan Bay, and took his family out to a farm in the Cowichan Valley in 1910, when and where the Palmers first migrated.26
If Vancouver Island’s “pull” factors (land, climate, hunting, informaliy, Britishness etc.) are added to Palmer’s “push” factors (poverty, political anxieties, grey damp climate, etc.) an explanatory equation begins to emerge. The Palmers, Simes, and many others could not afford to live a pleasant country life in southern England but the Kiplings could once Rudyard’s fame as a writer was assured. Much more successful than Phillipps-Wolley and Andrew Haggard, both of whom remained minor authors, he did not need to take refuge in a remote Imperial outpost, however agreeable it might be. Nor did he suffer from personal problems like those which seem to have made “refugees” of Sir Charles Delmé-Radcliffe (1864–1937), apparently escaping from a difficult marriage, and Major John C. Bowen-Colthurst (c.1881–1965), a veteran of the British expedition to Lhasa in 1903-04, apparently banished for shooting some Irish journalists in Dublin in April 1916 and escaping execution for murder by a successful plea of insanity.27 Others who rose in the Indian Army or the I.C.S. may have been avoiding life at home in England with families they had outgrown culturally or socially: Colonel Appleton, for example, was one of the two sons of a Manchester drysalter who both migrated to Victoria.28 Younger sons of landed families commonly emigrated. Some officers, such as the three sons of Major-General H.C.P. Rice (1837–1922), who served all his life in a Sikh regiment, felt uncomfortable in England, their family being rooted in India for generations. They used to gather each summer at a tiny hill station called Thandiani in the Himalayas north of Murree and there, as a ten-year-old granddaughter recalled later, “the family decided to emigrate to British Columbia. ‘Life in India,’ they said ‘is not what it was in our young days, and there is no future in soldiering.’ (This must have been in about 1910). There must, they thought, be some place in the world where they could own their own land and farm it, live a gentleman’s existence on their retired pay and enjoy their shooting and fishing without too many restrictions.”29 Major-General Rice soon settled in a remote part of Maple Bay in a house he called “Kelston” and the sons found places in the Cowichan Valley nearby.
If Kipling had thoughts of his own future retirement during his first two visits – and there is no direct evidence of this – he went to Victoria in 1907 in the course of a speaking tour across Canada. He arrived on 8 October as a distinguished visitor famous for writing about the India that was probably familiar to more people on the Island than in any other part of North America. He made an impression not only by his artistic celebration of life in British India but also by his Imperial vision and a passionate concern for the future of what some now term “the Anglosphere.” While he was crossing Canada in the previous weeks, thousands of central European peasants and American farmers were pouring into the western prairies as a result of the Canadian immigration policy of Clifford Sifton (1861-1929), adding to the alienation caused by older French-Canadian, Irish republican, and American influences.30 Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier had been resisting all efforts to unify the Empire and Ottawa had been contributing little to Imperial defence, apart from a small expeditionary force in the South African War (1898-1902). The Royal Navy had withdrawn from Esquimalt a few months before Kipling’s visit and, neglected by Ottawa, the base already looked to him like “a marine junk-store which had once been … a station of the British Navy.”31 The property he had bought on the B.C. mainland in 1889 had been sold to him by a typically sharp estate agent, like the Jacob Snape in one of Phillipps-Wolley’s novels, who cheated trusting English gentlemen of their money and then despised them as broken-down “remittance men.”32 Like other educated travellers Kipling would certainly have felt the strong current of anti-English sentiment common in Ontario and western Canada.33 Bob Edwards’ popular journal in Edmonton, the Eye-Opener, made a habit during the 1890s of mocking educated Englishmen who were numerous on the Island and indignantly defended there by The Daily Colonist and its readers.34
It was to an enthusiastic audience, the biggest yet assembled in Victoria by the Canadian Club, that Kipling said on 9 October 1907:
“Much of the present stream of immigration that strikes the east side of this continent is recruited from countries where people have always regarded the law as an oppressor…. Our stock in Great Britain does not suffer from the drawback of those races. It is not necessary to evolve an elaborate and extensive scheme of education to instruct the immigrant from Great Britain how to talk the English language in order that his children shall later teach him the rudiments of citizenship…. the time is coming when you will have to choose between the desired reinforcement of your own stock, and the undesired rush of races to whom you are strangers, whose speech you do not understand, and from whose instincts you are separated by thousands of years. That is your choice. Myself, I think that the time for making that choice is on you NOW.”35
Not yet influenced by the ideologies of “multiculturalism” and Canadian nationalism, which lay in the future, that audience worried as Kipling did about anti-Imperial tendencies in North America.36
Yet he was impressed as before by the town and its picturesque site. In a letter home he wrote:
“To realise Victoria you must take all that the eye admires most in Bournemouth, Torquay, the Isle of Wight, the Happy Valley at Hong-Kong, the Doon, Sorrento, and Camps Bay; add reminiscences of the Thousand Islands, and arrange the whole round the Bay of Naples, with some Himalayas for the background …. There is a view, when the morning mists peel off the harbour where the steamers tie up, of the Houses of Parliament on one hand, and a huge hotel on the other, which as an example of cunningly fitted-in water-fronts and façades is worth a very long journey. The [Empress] hotel was just being finished …. I tried honestly to render something of the colour, the gaiety, and the graciousness of the town and the island, but only found myself piling up unbelievable adjectives, and so let it go with a hundred other wonders.”37
Inspecting the new Empress Hotel, he was delighted at the ladies’ drawing room, 100 ft. by 40, with its decorated plaster ceiling copied (the contractor told him) from a photo in Country Life, and he reflected that “about the time the noble original was put up in England Drake might have been sailing somewhere off this very coast.”38 On a visit to the naval station at Esquimalt, some three miles to the west, he revelled in “winding roads, lovelier than English lanes, along watersides and parkways any one of which would have made the fortune of a town.” With its Imperial origins, mild climate, and relative freedom from the mosquitoes, black flies, and deer flies that plague continental Canada, the Island lent itself to country living and bore no resemblance to the rest of the Dominion. It was more like home than anywhere else in North America, certainly more than the state of Vermont near the Canadian border, where Kipling lived for several years near the home of his American wife.
His admiration was enthusiastically returned by the public. The hired chauffeur who took a later British traveller up the island proudly claimed to have driven Kipling on the same road a few years earlier.39 Kipling’s stories were keenly appreciated in the Cowichan Valley and after his death in 1936 a librarian in Duncan, herself an enthusiastic admirer, reported a siege at the public library by the borrowing public.40 In 1939 a Kipling Society was formed in Victoria which was unique in Canada and the first of only three such societies outside England.41 The founder was Alfred Edward Garbett Cornwell (1874-1956), a baker from Epping, Essex, who constructed his own ovens at 1842 Oak Bay Avenue but was determined not to live by bread alone.42 At first the parent society hesitated to sanction Cornwell’s organization, perhaps anxious about the uncertain dignity of a literary society founded by a tradesman, but he attracted a keen membership in Victoria. Reflecting that Kipling himself was certain to be delighted by such humble patronage and had professed admiration for Victoria – did they perhaps consult him? – the London society changed its mind. Cornwell was able to preside over the Victoria Kipling Society until 1952. They were naturally interested in the Palmer family’s relationship with Kipling. “In the 1950s, early 1960s,” John Palmer wrote, “the local Kipling Society, through their spokesman Humphrey Davey, a local newspaperman told my Dad that they had concluded that Rudyard Kipling had modelled his male leading character in one of his short stories on my grandfather, C.G. Palmer. The story concerned a very aloof woman who would have no truck with men until this one particular engineer came along.”43
The members shared a passionate devotion to the Empire with other societies in Victoria, such as the China-Japan Society, supported by retired captains from the China coast and officers from Sir Robert Hart’s Chinese Maritime Customs Service; and the India-Burma Society founded in 1932 by Lieut.-General Sir Percy H.N. Lake (1855-1940), who had served as Chief of the General Staff in India (1911-16) and who remained active in Victoria’s public life until his death there on 17 November 1940.44 Members of the Victoria Kipling Society gathered at regular meetings, including an annual banquet, for toasts, recitations, readings, and singing.45 Upon their hero’s death the Victoria Daily Colonist printed “Rudyard Kipling: An Appreciation,” by a friend of the Kipling family, Colonel H.T. Goodland (1874–1956), whom the Society then invited to address their meeting of 29 January 1936.46 In his will, probated on 6 April 1936, Kipling left a generous sum to the Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School for British orphans that had opened in 1935 on a thousand acres near Duncan.47 In August 1937 Goodland arranged for the society to picnic at that school. They presented it with a set of Kipling’s works and held their annual picnic there again in August 1938.48 At their meeting in January 1939 they spent the evening reading aloud four of Kipling’s Indian stories. They were expressing the Imperial feeling of Victoria in those times when they celebrated Kipling’s birthday on December 28, 1943 by singing Gunga Din and other such songs.
The Second World War gave the Victoria Kipling Society a new purpose. In February 1940 its monthly meeting received an appeal from the Society in London for clothing and comforts for the crew of HMS Kipling, recently launched in Glasgow by the late poet’s daughter, Mrs Elsie Bambridge, at shipyards of Sir Alfred Yarrow (1842–1932), whose son Norman (1891-1955) had been building ships in Victoria since 1914. The Kipling Society sent seaboot stockings and an assortment of luxuries for the ship until she was sunk in the Mediterranean in 1942.49 At their annual dinner in 1941 a Major Charles Wilson, retired in Victoria after thirty years as Chief Forester at Madras, spoke about his life in the Indian Forest Service, showing slides of elephants, the cutting of teakwood, and as a climax to the evening, a colour film of the fight to the death between a mongoose and the deadly hooded cobra.”50 Who in that audience did not know Kipling’s story of “Rickki-Tikki-Tavi” (1893), the mongoose, who made a habit of killing cobras?
Who did not also know “Kim”, “Toomai of the Elephants”, and “The Jungle Book” on which the Boy Scout movement was based? Kipling approved of scouting as he showed by writing Land and Sea Tales for Scouts and Guides (1923).51 His blend of romantic adventure and vigorous commonsense appealed to the general public of that generation all over the English-speaking world but particularly on the Island, where the Boy Scout movement relied on the leadership of Indian-Army veterans.
At its AGM in January 1936 the Scouts Association in Victoria elected Sir Percy Lake as its first vice- president and five more veterans from India to is Executive Council. In the Cowichan Valley an officer retired from the 1st Gurkha Rifles, Colonel M.E. Dopping-Hepenstal (1872—1965), was Scoutmaster of the Quamichan Scout Troop at Duncan from 1926 until 1934, when he took charge as District Commissioner. One of the boys in his troop was John Palmer, whose family had come from India with memories of Rudyard Kipling in earlier times.
1. MacFarlane, “Our Island Past and Present,” Colonist, Sunday Supplement, 20
December 1936, p. 20.
2. Indian Army List, July 1891, pp. 12, 194; Colonist, 26 June 1907, p. 7; 6 March 1914, p. 7.
3. Khushwant Singh, Kipling’s India (New Delhi, Roli Books, 1994), p. 21.
4. Phillipps-Wolley, Cowichan, Vancouver Island as a Home: Fishing, Shooting, Mining, Farming, Lumbering. (Victoria, British Columbia, Colonist Printing and Publishing Company Ltd, 1901), p. 7.
5. Peter Murray, Home from the Hill: Three Gentlemen Adventurers (Victoria, Horsdal and Shubart, 1994), p. 90. Phillipps-Wolley was knighted in 1915 for promoting the Navy League in British Columbia.
6. Phillipps-Wolley, Songs from a Young Man’s Land (1902; Toronto, Thomas Allen, 1917), pp. 22-24. This was the second edition of verse he had first published as Songs of an English Esau.
7. James Mackay, Robert Service: A Biography (Edinburgh & London, Mainstream Publishing, 1995), pp. 115ff. Born at Preston, Lancashire, and schooled in Glasgow, he worked for many months on British farms in the Cowichan Valley, where he befriended several retired officers and their families before moving north to the Yukon and beyond.
8. The Victoria Daily Colonist, 29 September 1907, p. 17, citing The London Chronicle.
9. The Monthly Army List for May 1891, pp. 394, 740e; Whitaker’s Naval and Military Directory and Indian Army List, 1900 (London, J. Whitaker & Sons, 1900), p. 507; Indian Army List, January 1905, pp. 6, 13, 109, 701; National Archives of Canada, CEF files, RG150, box 9511–29; British Columbia Archives, MS– 2015; Colonist, 21 January 1962, p. 22, obit.
10. Rona Murray, Journey Back to Peshawar (Victoria, B.C., Sono Nis Press, 1993), p. 112.
11. The husband, R.G.R. Murray’s father, was Robert Davidson Murray
12. John Henry Rivett-Carnac, Many Memories of Life in India, at Home, and Abroad (Edinburgh, Wm. Blackwood & Sons, 1910), pp. 225-26; Andrew Lycett, Rudyard Kipling (London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson Phoenix, 1999), pp. 34-36, 39, 40-41, 44, 146, 208.
13. Burke’s Peerage, 106th edition (2 vols., Switzerland, 1999), vol. II, pp. 2417–2419; Victoria Daily Colonist, 16 December 1951, Sunday, p. 6, G.E. Mortimore, “Charles E. Rivett-Carnac: Guardian of Law and Order”; Cowichan Leader (Duncan),10 and 17 November 1932, obit.
14. C.E. Rivett-Carnac, Pursuit in the Wilderness (Boston, Little, Brown, 1965; London, Jarrolds, 1967), 341 pp. of personal memoirs without index; Major Harwood Steele, Policing the Arctic: The Story of the Conquest of the Arctic by the Royal Canadian (formerly North-West) Mounted Police (Toronto, Ryerson Press, 1935?), 390 pp., pp. 306–307, 344, 351, 355.
15. Letter to the author dated at Victoria, 19 August 2001, and supported by family papers, notably “The Book of the Palmers”, a manuscript in several different hands, and “Memoirs of an Old-Fashioned Grandmother,” typed by Mrs. Susan Emily Palmer, née Sime (1886-1974). These families, quiet and unassuming, did not make much of their relations with the Kiplings and the details have to be coaxed out of various sources. Many thanks to John Palmer for his friendly assistance.
16. The Times (London), 7 March 1911 (obituary), p. 11.
17. Angus Wilson, The Strange Ride of Rudyard Kipling: His Life and Works (1977; St. Albans, Herts., Pantheon Books, 1979), p. 35.
18. S.N. Mukerji, History of Education in India (Modern Period) (1951; 6th ed., Vadodora, Acharya Printing Press Near Panigate, 1974), ch. 6, “From Hunter Commission to Lord Curzon (1882-1904)”, and Appendix I, “Biographical Notes;” and for an intelligent foreign tourist’s view of education, Katherine Mayo (1867–1940), Mother India (40th printing, New York, Harcourt Brace, 1927), index entries p. 429.
19. British Library, Oriental Collection, T 8374 and T 39479.
20. Cowichan Leader (Duncan), 26 April 1945, obit. John Palmer’s letter to the author dated at Victoria, 19 August 2001.
21. Elizabeth Buettner, Empire Families: Britons and Late Imperial India (OUP, 2004), pp. 209-251; David Gilmour, The Ruling Cast: Imperial Lives in the Victorian Raj (London, John Murray, 2005), pp. 312-314; David Cannadine, The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy (1990; New York, Random House Vintage, 1999), pp. 429–443.
22. C.G. Palmer, “The Book of the Palmers,” p. 79. Much the same view of Indian life is explained at length by F.W. Galloway (1881–1974) in his unpublished memoirs, “Life in the Indian Police.” He had spent more than twenty years as a police official in various parts of India before arriving (with a tiger skin!) in the Cowichan Valley, where he practised law for twenty years. (Courtesy of Margaret Horsfield, a granddaughter, Nanaimo, letter to the author, 18 December 2001, with a typescript, 112 fols.)
23. Op. cit., p. 67.
24. Frederick Sleigh Roberts (1832–1914) was by then Field Marshal Earl Roberts of Kandahar, who had served in 1895–1905 as Commander-in-Chief of the British Army. Earlier, he had been C-in-C of the Indian Army and then of the British forces in the South African War wherein he was eminently successful (and where his only son was killed). In 1905, he resigned and devoted himself to trying to rouse the nation to see the need for a policy of military training, rifle-shooting, and national service. The German menace was already clear to him, as to other military men. As head of the National Service League he worked for compulsory military service to defend the British Isles and published Facts and Fallacies: An Answer to “Compulsory Service,” (London, John Murray, 1911).
25. “The Book of the Palmers,” pp. 67–69.
26. National Archives of Canada (Ottawa), Canadian Census, 1911, RG 21, Statistics Canada, district # 13, Nanaimo, B.C., sub-district 15, Comiaken; British National Archives, census records, 1901, England, RG 13 / 870, p. 33; Whitaker’s Naval and Military Directory and Indian Army List, 1900 (London, J. Whitaker & Sons, 1900), p. 32; The Quarterly Army List, October 1916, p. 1963a (Indian Army).
27. For Delmé-Radcliffe, Colonist, 25 October 1931, p. 13; 14 December 1937, pp. 1 & 3; 19 December 1937, p. 5, obit.; The Times, London, 1 November 1924, p. 4; 3 November 1924, p. 4; 4 November 1924, p. 5; 5 November 1924, p. 5; Who was Who, vol. III (1929–40), pp. 350–351]; for Bowen-Colthurst see Charles Townshend, Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion (London, Allen Lane, 2005), pp. 193-5, 290, 292; F. S. L. Lyons, Ireland Since the Famine (1971; London, Fontana, 1973), pp. 373, 802 n. 11; O. Dudley Edwards and F. Pyle, 1916: The East Rising, (1968), pp. 135-148; Hart’s Annual Army List, 1913, p. 797.
28. British National Archives (Kew), census records 1871, RG 10 / 4063, p. 23.
29. Memoirs of Mrs. G.L. Waymouth née Rice (many thanks to David C.R. Waymouth, R.N. [retired], for extracts from his mother’s memoirs); Who’s Who in British Columbia, 1933–4, p. 146; Major D. G. J. Ryan, Major G. C. Strahan and Capt. J. K. Jones, Historical Record of the 6th Gurkha Rifles, vol. I, 1817–1919, pp. 156–182, 212–213,222–231.
30. Pierre Berton, The Promised Land: Settling the West 1896-1914 (Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1984), pp. 13-19, 138-39, 205, and in general parts One, Two, and Six. Sifton (1861-1929, Minister of the Interior in Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s government used his great political influence to fill the prairies with central Europeans and Americans, which was still going on in 1907.
31. Kipling, “Letters to the Family (1908)”, in Letters of Travel, 1892–1913 (New York, Doubleday, 1927), pp. 143-45; 154; 178.
32. Clive Phillipps-Wolley, One of the Broken Brigade (London, Smith, Elder & Co., 1897), pp. 24, 28, 107, 136-7. Snape’s office in Victoria had “almost as much plate-glass about it as a London gin-shop, and [was] very nearly as dangerous to its habitués.”
33. John Foster Fraser, Canada as It Is (London, Cassell & Co. Ltd., 1905), p. 111; Basil Stuart, Canada as It Is (1908; London, Routledge, 3rd ed., n.d.), ch. 13, “The Truth About Canada”, and ch. 14, “Why the Englishman is despised in Canada.”
34. Grant MacEwen, Eye Opener Bob: The Story of Bob Edwards (Saskatoon, Western Producer Book Service, 1974), ch. 4, “The Adventures of Bertie;” Pierre Berton, The Promised Land: Settling the West 1896-1914 (Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1984), pp. 13-19, 138-39, 205, and in general parts One, Two, and Six. Sifton (1861-1929); Colonist, 29 May 1907, p. 4, Editorial, “The Remittance Man.”
35. Colonist, 10 October 1907, pp. 1 and 3.
36. Pierre Berton, The Promised Land: Settling the West 1896-1914 (Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1984), pp. 13-19, 138-39, 205, and in general parts One, Two, and Six. Sifton (1861-1929, Minister of the Interior in Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s government used his great political influence to fill the prairies with central Europeans and Americans, which was still going on in 1907.
37. Rudyard Kipling, “Letters to the Family (1908)”, in Letters of Travel, 1892–1913 (New York, Doubleday, 1927), pp. 178–180.
38. op. cit. pp. 179-189.
39. E. Way Elkington, F.R.G.S., Canada, A Land of Hope (London, Adam & Charles Black, 1910), p. 225.
40. Colonist, 10 May 1936, 28; 15 August 1937, 7.
41. Notes from the Kipling Journal (London), courtesy of David Page, editor. The Journal kept in touch with the Victoria Kipling Society until the 1990s.
42. Colonist, January 14, 1956, p. 21, obit.
43. John Palmer to the author, 19 August 2001. This was the second of Palmer’s three special interests in Kipling.
44. J.F. Cummins, “Lieutenant-General Sir Percy Lake and Some Chapters of Canadian and Indian History,” Canadian Defence Quarterly, vol. III, no 3 (April 1926), pp. 244–256.
45. Colonist, September 28, 1933, p. 6; December 31, 1936, 2; January 20, 1939, p. 3. January 14, 1956, p. 21, Cornwell’s obit.
46. Colonist, January 28, 1936, p. 5; June 19, 1936, p. 2.
47. Colonist, April 7, 1936, p. 2.
48. Colonist, August 27, 1937, p. 3; September 29, 1937, p. 9; August 21, 1938, p. 6.
49. Colonist, February 28, 1940, p. 6; November 24, 1940, p. 5; May 28, 1941, 6; November 27, 1941, p. 2.
50. Colonist. June 22, 1941, p. 17; December 29, 1943, p. 18.
51. Robert Baden-Powell, Scouting for Boys: The Original 1908 Edition, ed. Elleke Boehmer (Oxford University Press, 2004), 382 pp.
52. These were Major J.B. Hardinge (1890–1965), Colonel J.S. Hodding (1867–1930), Colonel F.T. Oldham (1869–1960), Colonel B.A.M. Rice (1876–1940), and Lieut.-Colonel A.B. Snow (1866–1949). See the Colonist, January 31, 1936, p. 5; March 2, 1937, p. 2.
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