(notes edited by John McGivering)
[Sir John Frederick Bridge (1844-1924) was an English composer and organist at Westminster Abbey from 1875 to 1918. He composed music for Queen Victoria's Jubilee and King Edward VII's coronation, in addition to other works.Other composers who had or would shortly set Kipling verses to music were also present, including Elgar, German and Parry. In his speech Kipling confesses that he is no musician. However, he obviously appreciated the importance of music in both civilian and military life, as witness “Parade-Song of the Camp Animals” which goes with “Her Majesty’s Servants” in the Jungle Book, in which the various 'songs' are written to familiar tunes; also Kipling's habit of walking about humming a tune while composing verse.
The Royal Irish Regiment (also known as the 18th (Royal Irish) Regiment) was until 1881 the 18th regiment of Foot (Infantry) in the British Army. First raised in 1684, this was one of eight Irish regiments raised and garrisoned in Ireland. After serving for two and a half centuries it was disbanded in 1922 with the Partition of Ireland under the Anglo-Irish Treaty.]
We're marchin' on relief over Injia's sunny plains,*[The last phrase means 'why don't you get on ?'; Ed.]
A little front o' Christmas-time an' just be'ind the Rains;
Ho! get away you bullock-man, you've 'eard the bugle blowed,
There's a regiment a-comin' down the Grand Trunk Road;
With its best foot first
And the road a-sliding past,
An' every bloomin' campin'-ground exactly like the last;
While the Big Drum says,
With 'is "rowdy-dowdy-dow!" --
"Kiko kissywarsti don't you hamsher argy jow?"*
DREARY lay the long road, dreary lay the town,Kipling must have misread the poem – there was only one Dragoon, as far as we know, and he was Major Tom Bridges – see below. Click here for the full text.
Lights out and never a glint o’ moon:
Weary lay the stragglers, half a thousand down,
Sad sighed the weary big Dragoon.
“Oh! if I’d a drum here to make them take the road again,
Oh! if I’d a fife to wheedle, Come, boys, come!
You that mean to fight it out, wake and take your load again,
Fall in! Fall in! Follow the fife and drum!
The men in the square were a different problem, and so jaded it was pathetic to see them. If one only had a band, I thought. Why not? There was a toy shop handy which provided my trumpeter and myself with a tin whistle and a drum, and we marched round and round the fountain where the men were lying like the dead, playing " The British Grenadiers" and beating the drum like mad.[See Lt. Colonel Osburn‘s narrative – "St. Quentin 1914"]
They sat up and began to laugh and even cheer. I stopped playing and made them a short exhortation and told them I was going to take them back to their regiments. They began to stand up and fall in, and eventually we moved slowly off into the night to the music of our improvised band, now reinforced with a couple of mouth-organs. When well clear of the town I tried to delegate my functions to someone else, but the infantry would not let me go. "Don't leave us, major," they cried, "or by God we'll not get anywhere." So on we went, and it was early morning before I got back to my squadron. Our rearguard was unmolested by the Germans, and it looked as if "more haste, less speed" might well have been the description of this part of the retreat.
Though they’ve ‘ad us out by marches10th Lincolns The 10th Regiment of Foot or 10th North Lincoln Regiment, raised in 1685 as the Earl of Bath's Regiment and renamed the 10th Regiment of Foot in 1851. Kipling would probably also have known of the 10th (Service) Battalion – known as the Grimsby Chums, raised in 1914 as part of the New Armies.
an’ they’ve ad’ us back by rail;
But it runs as fast as troop trains,
and we cannot get away,.....”
When I was bound apprentice in famous LincolnshireClick here for the full text.
Full well I served my master for nigh on seven years
Till I took up to poaching as you shall quickly hear
Oh, 'tis my delight on a shiny night in the season of the year...
As me and my companions were scrambling up a hill,soldiers do not live by bread alone 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.' Matthew 4,4, Deuteronomy 8,3.
The path was lost in rolling stones, but we went forward still;
For we can wriggle and climb, my lads, and turn up everywhere,
And it's our delight on a mountain height, with a leg or two to spare!