(notes by John McGivering
and John Radcliffe)
| the text
... Kipling had "hundreds of old plays" at his disposal in the Head's library, and we gather from a remark in "The Uses of Reading" [A Book of Words p. 92] that the Elizabethan dramatists meant a great deal to him ... his true devotion is evidently to Shakespeare, and to a lesser extent to MarloweWeygandt continues (pp. 58/59):
A survey of Kipling's passing references to Shakespeare has shown us the extent of his acquaintance with his elder, and provided us with a theory as to his favorite plays. But if Kipling had made no allusions to them save in "The Marrèd Drives of Windsor," ... we should still have been able to arrive at conclusions concerning his knowledge of, and preferences for, Shakespeare's various works.Kipling and Shakespeare
... the parody is, however, very uneven; the blank verse and prose suffer, although not constantly, from the disability already complained of in the songs ... Direct parody weakens, but the use of words and phrases employed by Shakespeare is legitimate and effective; it adds power to Falstaff's opening speeches, which are among the best—both in themselves and as imitations—in the play...
The merits of the parts of the "Marrèd Drives" vary, as we have seen, but both the good parody and the bad reveal Kipling's intimacy with Shakespeare.
Sometimes they would have a Shakespeare evening, with only quotations from the Bard allowed and no checking of references until the following morning. Part of the fun was to see how much fake Shakespeare they could get away with undetected. Rud, already an accomplished parodist, was especially good at coming up with plausible lines such asSee also our notes on his "How Shakespeare came to write "The Tempest" ". Also the notes by Lisa Lewis on his uncompleted psuedo-Jacobean play "Gow's Watch" .
My liege of Westmoreland, thy pinnace staysWhich, if challenged, he would assign to “the Richards” or “the Henrys”, Or they might spend the evening making up spoofs of their favourite English and American poets.
To give you waftage to the further shore...
What strain, then, requires to be relaxed in such boisterous abandon ? Kipling is not explicit in the tales themselves, but, tucked away where one would least think of looking for it, in the Johnsonian Preface to ‘The Marrèd Drives of Windsor’… we find the assertion that …’those same forces of natural genius, which expatiate in splendour and passion, demand for their refreshment and sanity an abruptness of release and lawlessness of invention, proportioned to precedent constrictions.'See Shakespeare in Themes in Kipling’s Works, for the tales, and—among the poems— "The Coiner" and "The Craftsman".
Falstaff a fat and drunken knight who appears in "Henry IV, Parts I & II”, “The Merry Wives of Windsor”, and “Henry V”.
Nym a corporal, a follower of Falstaff in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and “Henry V”.
Poins (the spelling varies) “Henry IV, Part I” and Part II, “The Merry Wives of Windsor”
Bardolph another follower of Falstaff, who figures in “Henry IV, Part I,” "The Merry Wives of Windsor” etc. He has a very red face, for which he is mocked by Falstaff, and is later hanged for stealing from a church.
Fluellen a Welsh soldier, occasionally rather a figure of fun, in “Henry V”.
Prince Henry (1387-1422) son of Henry IV, known when young as 'Prince Hal', who succeeded his father as Henry V. Falstaff and his followers were friends of his youth – leading each other into various escapades. When he reaches years of discretion—in Shakespeare's account—the Prince ruthlessly disowns Falstaff: 'I know thee not, old man'. [Henry IV Part II, Act V.]
The Boar’s Head a famous tavern on the north side of Eastcheap, an important street in the City of London, running from the Monument towards the Tower. In Shakespeare's plays it was a regular haunt of the Prince and his friends. It was rebuilt after the Great Fire of London (1666) and demolished in 1831.
'Kings are by God appointed,[Line 22] foining thrusting with a pointed weapon.
And Damn'd are those who dare resist
Or touch the Lord's Anointed...'
Prince Henry, Poins etc. see Act I[Line 1] red rear-lamp Bardolph has a very red face.
Lord Chief Justice The head of the judiciary in England, among the judges second only to the Lord Chancellor.
Dogberry a constable in “Much Ado About Nothing” and Kipling’s “The Tour” .
Portia disguises herself as a “young doctor of Rome” and successfully defends Antonio in court in “The Merchant of Venice” against the demands of Shylock. Here she represents Prince Henry and his party before the Lord Chief Justice.
Justice Shallow a country justice in "Henry IV Part II” and ”The Merry Wives of Windsor”. He says he will make “a Star-Chamber matter” of Falstaff’s offences. A distinguished visitor was usually given a seat alongside the judge.
The moon shines bright - in such a night as this,[Line 61] Huntingdon the county town of the shire of the same name, north of London, bordering on Cambridgeshire.
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees...
Beatrice daughter of Leonato in “Much Ado About Nothing” A headstrong and outpoken girl.[Line 1] When that I had and a little tinny car... an echo of: 'When that I was and a little Tiny boy...' Feste's song at the end of Act V, “Twelfth Night”.
Benedick a young lord in the same play who marries Beatrice
Shylock a principal character in “The Merchant of Venice” who lends Bassanio three thousand ducats without interest, but on forfeit of a pound of Antonio’s flesh if he defaults. He does so, failing to repay the loan, but Shylock cannot receive his forfeit as blood is not mentioned in the bond (contract). If Shylock sheds blood he breaks the law. Portia represents Bassanio and Antonio in court with extreme skill and eloquence, disguised as 'a young doctor from Rome.'
Sir A Aguecheek Sir Andrew Aguecheek, a character in “Twelfth Night”
Feste Olivia’s Clown in the same play – see below
Now entertain conjecture of a time[Line 52] horses fed to hounds foxhounds are often fed on horsemeat but this implies all horses have been eaten and replaced by motor-vehicles.
When creeping murmur and the poring dark
Fills the wide vessel of the universe.
From camp to camp through the foul womb of night
The hum of either army stilly sounds,
'A lamentable tale of things[Line 63] To have at a man to attack him, usually with a sword.
Done long ago, and ill-done.'
There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that's for thoughts ... There's fennel for you, and columbines. There's rue for you ; and here's some for me. We may call it herb of grace a Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference. There's a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they wither'd all when my father died.[Line 101] arraigned accused.
When all aloud the wind doth blow,The 'roasted crabs' are, of course, crab-apples rather than crustaceans, and the 'parson's saw' a witticism rather than a tool.
And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian's nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl;
Tu-whit, To-who '—A merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.