the Royal Navy
(by Cmdr. Alastair Wilson)
A Fleet in Being
the Pyecroft stories
the Royal Navy - 1905
warships' boats -1905
'knots an hour'
|“Judson and the Empire”||first published in Many Inventions (Macmillan, 1893).|
|“The Bonds of Discipline”||first published in Windsor Magazine, August, 1903, and collected in Traffics and Discoveries (Macmillan 1904).|
|“Their Lawful Occasions”||first published in Windsor Magazine, December, 1903, and collected in Traffics and Discoveries.|
|“Steam Tactics”||first published in Windsor Magazine, December, 1902, and collected in Traffics and Discoveries.|
|“Mrs. Bathurst”||first published in Windsor Magazine, September, 1904, and collected in Traffics and Discoveries.|
|“A Tour of Inspection”||first published in Windsor Magazine, December, 1904, and not collected in the Macmillan standard editions: it does, however, appear in the Sussex edition of A Diversity of Creatures (Macmillan, 1938), where it replaces “Regulus”.|
|“The Horse Marines”||first published in Pearson’s Magazine, October 1910, and collected in A Diversity of Creatures (Macmillan, 1917).|
|“Sea Constables”||first published in Nash’s Magazine and Pall Mall Gazette in October, 1915, and collected in Debits and Credits (Macmillan 1926).|
|“A Flight of Fact”||first published in Nash's Magazine, Pall Mall, and Metropolitan in June 1918, collected in Land and Sea Tales for Scouts and Guides (Macmillan, 1923).|
|“A Naval Mutiny”||first published in The Story-Teller magazine, December, 1931, and collected in Limits and Renewals (Macmillan, 1932)|
|“A Sea Dog”||first published in Collected Dog Stories, (Macmillan, 1934).|
...with whom as a small boy I perambulated all Portsmouth, Gosport and Fratton – the old Portsmouth with its ramparts and old houses. He died but the town remained to me and as I grew bigger I wandered all over it and the mudflats at the back among the old forts”.Alternatively he may have seen one or other, in the Captain's company (or possibly on his own), shortly before the old man died, while they were being prepared for their voyage. The Navy Lists show that Alert was in Devonport (Navy List (NL) for 20 Sept. `74), and arrived in Portsmouth sometime between then and 20 December `74 (NL for that date has her marked as 'Portsmouth'): while Discovery was purchased to act as a storeship for the proposed expedition on 5 December `74. So, in the absence of other information (such as Alert's log, to tell us the exact date she arrived in Portsmouth), one can say that it is possible that Kipling (whether in company with the Captain or on his own) saw Alert any time from the beginning of October `74, and Discovery any time from mid-December `74.
“the captain of the Pelorus, one Chawbags Bayly, came on board to call on our new captain … Chawbags Bayly was a hearty, burly, thoroughbred seaman of the old school, with square-faced whiskers, a fore-royal yard voice, and a vocabulary fully charged with poetical similes.”It would seem possible that Kipling was aware of the nickname, and when writing Something of Myself late in life, confused the nickname with the real name. Captain Bayly also had a reputation for “making the punishment fit the crime”, and that, too, may possibly have conveyed an idea for "The Bonds of Discipline".]
20. [July] Still down. Rud joins his ship and gets into her this evening.From the above it would appear that he spent no more than six days in the Nile. But Carrie’s diary entries are amplified by letters which Kipling wrote (The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Volume 3, Ed. Pinney). He wrote first to his mother-in-law on 5 July, 1901 as follows:
21. Still more down in body my mind doing a series of acts in a circus beyond words to depict in its horrors. Rud writes from Sandown Bay at Anchor.
22nd. Dreary enough. Rud at anchor off Brighton.
26. Rud at Shillington. [Shillington is a village in Bedfordshire, four miles north-west of Hitchin.]
I go away first to Tisbury to see my people and then with the fleet on its manoeuvres about the 12th or 13th. I shall be away for a fortnight or three weeks at least....He also wrote to Moberly Bell (Editor of The Times) on 14 July, including the phrase: '...I go down to Weymouth tomorrow to join the Nile,.' And when it was all over, he wrote to H.A. Gwynne (journalist, later Editor of the Morning Post) on 23-24 August 1901:
Did I tell you how I was out from the 20th to the 31st of July with the fleet on Manoeuvres? I had the ill luck to be on the beaten side - and battleships at that. Our admiral "didn't believe in destroyers" - i.e. the light horse. Result was he was out-scouted outwalked out manoeuvred and generally De Wetted all up and down the Channel. The navy is pretty good but its still full of spit and polish and fuss and muckings.The admiral referred to was Sir Gerard Noel: and the expression 'De Wetted' refers to the Boer General De Wet who successfully surprised British troops on several occasions, as Admiral Noel evidently was on this occasion. (But he had a reasonable excuse – his fleet was definitely 'the ‘B’ team', and his opponent was Admiral Sir Arthur Wilson, VC, who was generally held to be an excellent tactician.) And the Nile, although only ten years old and with a successful commission in the Mediterranean behind her, had already been relegated to being the port guard ship in Devonport. It would appear that Kipling had become acquainted with the Nile’s captain, Captain Henry Clarke, through the latter’s wife, who was a neighbour of the Kiplings in Rottingdean. (Thomas Pinney (Ed.) Letters lII, footnote to letter dated 27 June 1907.) The fact that he joined Nile at Weymouth was used as material for "Their Lawful Occasions", in which Nile becomes the Pedantic.
Fame had blocked Kipling's descent to the lower decks. He wrote great verses about the sea, but he never wrote a good story about the Navy.The author of this essay would beg to disagree: there are only six stories which can really be said to be about the Navy: "Judson and the Empire", "The Bonds of Discipline", "Their Lawful Occasions", "Sea Constables", "A Flight of Fact" and "A Sea Dog". All are technically correct (as near as a non-naval writer can ever get) and are typical examples of Kipling showing off his virtuosity in a different field. "Judson", and "A Flight of Fact" are comedy, while "The Bonds of Discipline" is pure farce. "A Sea Dog" has more to it than appears from its lumping together with Kipling's other dog stories.