by John McGivering)
|notes on the text|
And since bees share with man one common fateThe story
[from Dryden’s translation of Virgil’s Georgics IV, 366-369].
Here the menace to the British Imperial civilisation is not so much Tory old-guardism, as it had been when Balfour ruled in 1902. The new enemies were progressivism, liberal individualism, pacifism, cosmopolitanism, egalitarianism, little Englandism, class division - all the elements in the Liberal Government's rule that worked against a cohesive, well-armed Empire ready both physically and psychologically to resist the growing German menace to the English world-civilising mission.André Maurois (pseudonym of Emile Hertzog 1885-1967) French novelist and Honorary Vice-President of the Kipling Society, delivered a paper to the Society in 1934 which was published in KJ 30/12, and collected in 1971 in Kipling The Critical Heritage, Ed. R L Green (p. 380) :
This corrupting enemy is represented in the fable by the Wax Moth, a deadly progressive female who enters the beehive, and, laying her eggs, sets up an internal rot. It is notable that this destructive stranger "dodged into a brood frame, where youngsters who had not seen the winds blow or the flowers nod, discussed life. Here she was safe, for young bees will tolerate any sort of stranger." It is the susceptibility of the young to new ideas that allows the progressivist Wax Moth to spread her deadly eggs.
Sentimental talk and its consequences is seen in the story “The Mother Hive”, the young bees become contemptuous of the other bees who respect the Law, feed the Queen Bee and have a healthy fear of the Wax-moth. All this ends in the loss of the stored honey and the ruin of the hive. But it would be inaccurate to say that Kipling is anti-liberal minded., For him, liberty is essentially the daughter of Discipline and Law.See also “The Vortex” (A Diversity of Creatures) and the accompanying verse “ The Song of Seven Cities”; also “The Bees and the Flies”, and “The Bee-Boy’s Song.” Also KJ 081/07 and 083/16.