(notes edited by Roberta Baldi. We are grateful to Alastair Wilson for a number of suggestions and additions)
'It was an August evening and, in snowy garments clad,[F.A Underwood, 'The Expansion of Departmental Ditties', KJ 188]
I took my hawah-khana round the lines of Hezabad,
When, presently, my Waler saw, and did not like at all,
A Commissariat hathee, nautching gaily down the Mall.
I couldn't see the driver, and across my mind it rushed
That that Commissariat hathee had — forgive the rhyme — gone musth'
The Waler originally jumped an ekka rather than a bullock, patent wheels were shisham wheels and, 'Before they called the drivers up' read, 'Before they got the up'.”
“Drains are a great and glorious thing and I study ’em and write about ’em when I can ... one decent primer on Sanitary Engineering and sewage disposal is worth more than all the tomes of sacred smut ever produced” [ “To W. C. Crofts, 18-27 February 1886” in Thomas Pinney (Ed.), The Letters of Rudyard Kipling. Volume I, pp. 121-122.] See also Gillian Sheehan's article on Sanitation in this guide.[Line 5] I learnt a lesson once Kipling uses this expression to introduce the lines that follow, which narrate the episode of the elephant-hunted Binks, who is defined a “most veracious man” in the next line. This is one of the examples in which introductory lines of verse are directly linked to the subsequent text and act as a pilot-entry to it; other examples of this technique so far in the collection have been, in particular, "Study of an Elevation, in Indian Ink”, "A Legend of the Foreign Office", "Public Waste", and "Delilah".
“She’s always about on the Mall of a mornin’-”[Line 12] That Commissariat elephant had suddenly gone musth Mad. Musth is a state of excitement to which elephants are periodically liable. Their keepers understand and provide for it. Mere bad temper is quite different. In "My Lord the Elephant" (Many Inventions) a mahout says that when a elephant is angry he will kill any one except his keeper, but when he is musth he will kill his keeper first.
"a gunner orf’cer in full rig’mentals down the road, hell-for-leather, wid his mouth open’ till the officer ‘dived like a rabbut into a dhrain by the side av the road."[Line 15] buggy A light one-horse carriage.
...made the City Elders flush their drains so that he would have a better chance if he were chased up one by an elephant again!, and not for sanitary reasons. ['Kipling’s Army and Navy' KJ 191 September 1974: p. 4)Drains, sewage and public health were of major concern to Victorians wherever they were. So ‘Binks of Hezabad’ was bound to try to improve the drainage of that city. ‘Surface drainage’ – open ditches – could be, and often was, blocked by litter, large and small. So Binks believed in ‘well-flushed culverts’ (covered drains). Quite apart from the health aspects of good drainage, there was also a matter of coping with monsoon conditions – a freely-running system of drains was essential. [A.W.]