(notes by Alastair Wilson)
| notes on the text
Confound Romance! … And all unseenAnd in December 1893, notes Carrington (p. 212), "Carrie reported him as humming and strumming all over the house with rhythmical experiments. The hymn-tune, 'The Church’s One Foundation’, gave him a set of rhythms which he used, in part at least, for “McAndrew’s Hymn”.”
Romance brought up the nine-fifteen.”
“… but it may help you a little to know that the ship “McAndrew’s Hymn” belongs to is the old Doric, once an Atlantic White Star I think, and now a Shaw, Savill, Albion boat running to New Zealand via the Cape of Good Hope and home round the horn. She’d be about the same type, in her engine fittings, as the Germanic or the Brittanic (sic) I should say – i.e., in no sense a new boat with any special gear. When I was on her her l(low).p(pressure). cylinder had a play of about an inch and a half on the columns and every piece of machinery had the muffled and protected look of a long-voyage boat. Not a bit like the shiny stuff on a racing Atlantic hotel; but lapped and swathed and junked up and all white with salt-crust.Professor Pinney notes “Pyle’s illustrations pay no heed to these suggestions”!
Carrington confirms (p. 187) that the Doric “followed the great circle route far to the southward to get the advantage of the westerly winds in the roaring forties” (so-called, from the latitude in which the winds blow) “the run that has been made familiar by “McAndrew’s Hymn”.”
Kipling's letter went on: If you use American machinery for models you’ll get things much too light and graceful, for one can tell the difference between American and English engines as far as one can see them – or hear them, they say who know. McAndrew also is a Scot of the Scots – clean shaven or with a torpedo beard I should say and his uniform would be pretty dingy after a three month voyage.
In regard to the salient points for illustration of the verses I suspect you have already made your own choice. It seems to me that little line touches of hoisting the passengers luggage – the tramp steamer off Sumbawa Head – all nose and stern and funnel [sketch of tramp steamer] and the run of a liner through the misty, ice-strewn south bergs might be worth something.
Then there’s a good wash picture perhaps (a little one) of the couples kissing in the dusk. But I perceive I could go on like this for many pages so I’ll e’en come to an end and leave the matter trustfully in your hands.”
“. . .and the night we got in, sat up from twelve to four with the Chief Engineer who could not get to sleep either . . . said that the engines made him feel quite poetical at times, and told me things about his past life. He seems a pious old bird; but I wish I had known him earlier in the voyage.”Peter Keating’s comment above that that fictitious letter “makes it clear that McAndrew is on deck, reminiscing to a passenger” is a perfectly fair inference, but is not necessarily so. On a long voyage, such as this has been, it would have been perfectly normal and acceptable for McAndrew to have invited any passenger who showed an interest in the engines to visit the engine room at an appropriate time. In this case, the passenger has left it a bit late – they will be in Plymouth at about six o’clock tomorrow morning. But we suggest that the references given immediately above all suggest that McAndrew was inside the engine room, though not down ‘on the plates’, and the final form of the verse is undoubtedly that of a soliloquy, and not a conversation.