Notes on the text
These notes, by John McGivering, are partly new, and partly based on the ORG. We have also been grateful to be able to draw on the notes by Lisa Lewis in Mrs Bathurst and Other Stories (OUP 1991). The page and, line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of A Diversity of Creatures, as published and frequently reprinted between 1917 and 1950.
When I checked on this I found that it's been illegal since the 18th century to insure someone's life for more than the payee stands to lose if the insured person dies. So a housewife or child can be insured against the loss of a husband or father, but a brother cannot, unless he is supported financially by the insured person. Before the Children's Act of 1906, a paid childminder could insure against the loss of fees for minding a child, but it was realised that this could be a motive for murdering the child, so it was made illegal.See also the note on page 151 line 1 below.
But what exactly does Kipling mean by 'let them out into the world again' ? If he means the teenager was still resident at Dr Sichliffe's, but was allowed to go drinking in pubs and perhaps got run over while drunk, then there was an insurable interest before the 1906 Act. But 'let out into the world' sounds as though the teenager had left Dr Sichliffe's, in which case where is the insurable interest?
'A franklyn's dogge leped over a style,Saint Gengulphus was a Burgundian knight of Varennes-sur-Amance in the Département of Haute Marne, France. A man of outstanding piety and charity, his martyrdom took the unusual form of being murdered (circa 760) by his wife's lover.
And his name was littel Byngo!
B wyth a Y -- Y wyth an N,
N wyth a G -- G wyth an O --
They call'd him little Byngo!
… the most likely reading is that the goldfish (and the bowl in which she preseumably sends them) symbolize the spiritual imprisonment of the rich and lonely woman in her sinister house, whose 'reek of varnish' in its turn symbolizes the respectability with which her father covered up the source of his wealth: he pretended to ‘patch up’ neurotic young men , while in fact he turned them into dipsomaniacs, insured them heavily, and then left them to drink themselves to death. (pp. 109-110) See page 149 lines 9 and 10 below.[Page 138 line 18] stranger within our gates an echo of the Fourth Commandment (Exodus, 20): 'Six days shalt thou labour… but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy GOD: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son… nor the stranger that is within thy gates.'
'Now in the ungirt hour - now lest we blink and drowse...' (Verse 2)The soldiers are relaxing without their armour.
Let Erin remember the days of oldThe implication is that Malachi is ready to see off any invader, and indeed soon after (page 155 line 27) he falls on Harvey'as an enemy and an equal'.
Ere her faithless sons betrayed her
When Malachy wore the collar of gold
That he won from the proud invader...