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Kipling's America

Travel Letters, 1889-1895

Rudyard Kipling edited by D. H. Stewart

Publication Year: 2003

Rudyard Kipling claimed that he never wrote "the bland drivel of the globetrotter." As a journalist for seven years in India, he watched tourists scurry across the land and then publish their superficial impressions. Ironically over the course of his life, Kipling too became a tourist, visiting and describing six continents. Kipling was just twenty-three years old when he reached San Francisco in May 1889; he immediately began recording the sights and sounds of boom-town America. For four months he toured the United States, publishing accounts of his journey in the Pioneer, a major newspaper in western India. A few years later, when he lived in Vermont (1892-1896) with his American wife, Kipling wrote several syndicated articles published in both England and the U.S. Then in 1899 he revised and abridged the Pioneer versions and published them in From Sea to Sea. The second series of syndicated articles he collected in Letters of Travel (1920). Most of these travel writings are now out of print. In Kipling's America, Professor D. H. Stewart brings all of these articles together and reproduces the original printed versions; he sets the context with an engaging introduction and helpful annotations. Readers are provided with the opportunity to hear again Kipling at his cocky and often opinionated best. From Kipling's perspective, America unleashed the chaotic energy latent in human beings, and he was uncertain whether this energy inevitably would be productive or destructive.

Published by: ELT Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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CONTENTS

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pp. vii-x

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PREFACE

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pp. xi-xiii

OVER TWENTY YEARS ago my interest in Kipling led me to Professor Alvice W. Yeats, a bibliographer and collector of Kipling’s works. He mentioned that a new edition of Kipling’s writing about the United States might be interesting to a generation of readers unfamiliar with his journalism. The appearance of Kipling’s Japan, edited ...

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. xiv-xxxiii

RUDYARD KIPLING’S journalistic writing about America occurred in two periods. He recorded his journey in 1889 from the west coast to the east in numerous travel letters collected a decade later in From Sea to Sea. Then in 1892–1896 he lived in Vermont and wrote his impressions in three articles exclusively about America and several others ...

GLOSSARY

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pp. xxxiv-xxxv

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ILLUSTRATIONS

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pp. xxxvi-xlii

WHILE KIPLING traveled with Aleck and Ted Hill in the Far East, the Professor recorded their progress with black-and-white photographs, preserved with Kipling’s manuscripts at the Hunting ton Library. Some have Kipling’s hand-written captions. For example, a picture of Japanese visitors at a tea house in Arashimaya (a picnic ...

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Letter One: SHOWS HOW I CAME TO AMERICA BEFORE MY TIME AND WAS MUCH SHAKEN IN BODY AND SOUL BY WHAT I FELT AND HEARD

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pp. 1-10

The saloon is the cabin, but the officers are saloon officers, the steward wears plain clothes for the most part, and there is a gentle and refined abstraction called the chief steward who is rarely seen and might be an eminent teacher of the violin. We are divided between missionaries and generals—generals who were at Vicksburg and Shiloh, and German by birth, but more American ...

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Letter Two: HOW I GOT TO SAN FRANCISCO AND TOOK TEA WITH THE NATIVES THERE

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pp. 11-22

THIS IS WHAT Bret Harte has written of the great city of San Francisco, and for the past fort night I have been wondering what made him do it. There is neither serenity nor indifference to be found in these parts, and evil would it be for the continent whose wardship were in trusted to so reckless a guardian. Be hold me pitched ...

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Letter Three: SHOWS HOW THROUGH FOLLY I ASSISTED AT A MURDER AND WAS PROPORTIONALLY AFRAID. THE RULE OF THE DEMOCRACY AND THE DESPOTISM OF THE ALIEN

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pp. 23-30

The China man with his usual skill has possessed him self of good brick fire-proof buildings and, following instinct, has packed each tenement with hundreds of souls, all living in filth and squalor not to be appreciated save by you in India. This cursory investigation ought to have sufficed; but I wanted to know how deep in the earth the Pig-tail had taken root. ...

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Letter Four1: Untitled

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pp. 31-35

THERE ARE three great centers in America—San Francisco, Chicago and New York. These three are administered by the alien for the alien—by the Irish man for his own interests and those of the German. And the rule of the Democracy is a rule of iron. The news papers must bow to the power that controls the vote: and they bow with reverence. ...

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Letter Five: TELLS HOW I DROPPED INTO POLITICS AND THE TENDERER SENTIMENTS. CONTAINS A MORAL TREATISE ON AMERICAN MAIDENS AND AN ETHNOLOGICAL ONE ON THE HUBSHI. ENDS WITH A BANQUET AND A TYPE-WRITER

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pp. 36-46

I HAVE BEEN watching machinery in repose after reading about machinery in action. An excellent gentle man who bears a name honoured in the magazines writes, much as Disraeli orated, of “the sublime instincts of an ancient people,” the certainty with which they can be trusted to man age their own affairs in their own way, and the ...

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Letter Six: TAKES ME THROUGH BRET HARTE’S COUNTRY, AND TO PORT LAND WITH “OLD MAN CALIFORNIA.” EXPLAINS HOW TWO VAGABONDS BE CAME HOME SICK THROUGH LOOK ING AT OTHER PEOPLE’S HOUSES

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pp. 47-61

SAN FRANCISCO has only one draw back. ‘Tis hard to leave. When like the pious Hans Breitmann2 I “cut that city by the sea” it was with regrets for the pleasant places left behind, for the men who were so clever and the women who were so witty, for the “dives,” the beer halls, the bucket shops, and the poker hells where humanity was going to ...

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Letter Seven: SHOWS HOW I CAUGHT SALMON IN THE CLACKAMAS AND CLOTHED MY SELF IN PURPLE AND TRIUMPH

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pp. 62-69

We returned from the Dalles to Portland by the way we had come, the steamer stopping en route to pick up a night’s catch of one of the salmon-wheels on the river and to deliver it at a cannery down stream. When the proprietor of the wheel announced that his take was two thousand two hundred and thirty pounds’ weight of fish, “and not a heavy catch, neither,” I thought he ...

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Letter Eight: DISCUSSES THE SHORTCOMINGS OF TACOMA-ON-THE-BOOM AND SEATTLE-AFTER-THE-FIRE. INTRODUCES A HERETIC

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pp. 70-76

VERY SOLEMNLY and thank fully we put up our rods. It was glory enough for all time—an experience which rendered the possessor ever lastingly the superior of the Norwegian, Scotch or Irish plutocrat who pays three hundred a year for a hook on captives not half the size of those we had taken. California and I returned weeping in each ...

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Letter Nine: TAKES ME FROM VANCOUVER TO THE YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK—WITH A MEAN OPINION OF MY SELF AND A MEANER OF RAYMENT’S TOURISTS

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pp. 77-86

THIS DAY I know how a deserter feels. Here in Victoria, a hundred and forty miles out of America, the mail brings me news from our Home—the land of regrets. I was enjoying myself by the side of a perfect trout-stream away in the woods, and I feel inclined to apologise for every rejoicing breath I drew in the diamond clear air. The sickness, ...

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Letter Ten: SHOWS HOW YANKEE JIM INTRODUCED ME TO DIANA OF THE CROSS WAYS ON THE BANKS OF THE YELLOWSTONE, AND HOW A GERMAN JEW SAID I WAS NO TRUE CITIZEN. ENDS WITH THE CELEBRATION OF THE 4TH OF JULY AND A FEW LESSONS THERE FROM

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pp. 87-94

LIVINGSTON IS A TOWN of two thousand people and the junction for the little side-line that takes you to the Yellowstone National Park. It lies in a fold of the prairie, and behind it is the Yellowstone river and the gate of the mountains through which the river flows. There is one street in the town where the cowboy’s pony and the little ...

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Letter Eleven: SHOWS HOW I ENTERED MAZAN DERAN OF THE PERSIANS AND SAW DEVILS OF EVERY COLOUR, AND SOME TROOPERS. HELL AND THE OLD LADY FROM CHICAGO. THE CAPTAIN AND THE LIEUTENANT

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pp. 95-106

TWICE HAVE I WRITTEN this letter from end to end. Twice have I torn it up, fearing lest those across the water should say that I had gone mad on a sudden. Now we will begin for the third time quite solemnly and soberly. I have been through the Yellowstone National Park in a buggy, in the company of an adventurous old lady from Chicago ...

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Letter Twelve: ENDS WITH THE CANYON OF THE YELLOWSTONE, THE MAIDEN FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE, LARRY, “WRAP-UP-HIS-TAIL,” TOM, THE OLD LADY FROM CHICAGO, AND A FEW NATURAL PHENOMENA, INCLUDING ONE BRITON

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pp. 107-119

ONCE UPON A TIME there was a carter who brought his team and a friend into the Yellowstone Park with out due thought. Presently they came upon a few of the natural beauties of the place and that carter turned his team into his friend’s team howling: —“Get back o’ this, Jim. All Hell’s alight under our noses.” And they call the place Hell’s

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Letter Thirteen: OF THE AMERICAN ARMY AND THE CITY OF THE SAINTS. THE TEMPLE, THE BOOK OF MORMON, AND THE GIRL FROM DORSET. AN ORIENTAL CONSIDERATION OF POLYGAMY

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pp. 120-131

IT HAS JUST occurred to me with great force that delightful as these letters are to my self their length and breadth and depth may be just the least little bit in the world wearisome to you over there. I will compress myself rigorously, though I should very much like to deliver a dissertation on the American Army and the possibilities of its extension. ...

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Letter Fourteen: HOW I MET CERTAIN PEOPLE OF IMPORTANCE BETWEEN SALT LAKE AND OMAHA

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pp. 132-139

LET THERE BE no misunderstanding about the matter. I love this people, and if any contemptuous criticism has to be done I will do it myself. My heart has gone out to them beyond all other peoples, and for the life of me I can not tell why. They are bleeding raw at the edges, almost more conceited than the English, vulgar with a massive vulgarity ...

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Letter Fifteen: ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE, AND HOW THE MAN GRING SHOWED ME THE GARMENTS OF THE ELLEWOMEN

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pp. 140-146

AFTER MUCH DALLYING and more climbing we came to a pass like all the Bolan Passes2 in the world, and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison called they it. We had been climbing for very many hours and attained a modest elevation of some seven or eight thousand feet above the sea, when we entered a gorge, remote from the sun, where ...

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Letter Sixteen: HOW I STRUCK CHICAGO. AND HOW CHICAGO STRUCK ME. OF RELIGION, POLITICS, AND PIG-STICKING, —AND THE IN CARNATION OF THE CITY AMONG SHAMBLES

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pp. 147-157

I HAVE STRUCK a city—a real city—and they call it Chicago. The other places do not count. San Francisco was a pleasure-resort as well as a city, and Salt Lake was a phenomenon. This place is the first American city I have encountered. It holds rather more than a million people with bodies, and stands on the same sort of soil as Calcutta. ...

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Letter Seventeen: HOW I FOUND PEACE AT MUSQUASH ON THE MONONGAHELA

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pp. 158-167

IT IS A MEAN THING and an unhandsome to “do” a continent in five hundred mile jumps. But after those swine and bullocks at Chicago I felt as though complete change of air would be good. The United States at present hinge in or about Chicago, as a double-leaved screen hinges. To be sure the tiny New England States call a trip to Pennsylvania ...

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Letter Eighteen1: TELLS HOW THE PROFESSOR AND I FOUND THE PRECIOUS REDICULOUSES AND HOW THEY CHAUTAUQUACKED AT US. PUTS INTO PRINT SOME SENTIMENTS BETTER LEFT UNRECORDED, AND PROVES THAT A NEGLECTED THE ORY WILL BLOSSOM IN CONGENIAL SOIL. CONTA

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pp. 168-178

OUT OF THE SILENCE under the apple-trees the Professor spake. One leg thrust from the hammock netting kicked lazily at the blue. There was the crisp crunch of teeth in an apple core. “Get out of this,” said the Professor lazily. As it was on the banks of the Hughli,4 so on the green borders of the Musquash and the Ohio ...

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Letter Nineteen1: KIPLING’S VIEW OF OUR DEFENCELESS COASTS

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pp. 179-188

JUST SUPPOSE that America were twenty days distant from England. Then a man could study its customs with undivided soul; but being so very near next door he goes about the land with one eye on the smoke of the flesh-pots of the old country across the seas, while with the other he squints biliously and prejudicially at the alien. ...

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Letter Twenty: RUDYARD KIPLING ON MARK TWAIN

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pp. 189-200

YOU ARE a contemptible lot out there, over yonder. Some of you are Commissioners and some Lieutenant-governors and some have the V. C., and a few are privileged to walk about the Mall arm in arm with the Viceroy; but I have seen Mark Twain this golden morning, have shaken his hand and smoked a cigar—no, two cigars—with him, and ...

PART II. FROM TIDE WAY TO TIDE WAY (1892–1895)

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Letter One: IN SIGHT OF MONADNOCK

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pp. 202-209

AFTER THE GLOOM of gray Atlantic weather our ship came to America in a flood of winter sun shine that made unaccustomed eyelids blink; and the New Yorker, who is nothing if not modest, said, “This isn’t a sample of our really fine days: wait until such and such times come, or go to such and such a quarter of the city.” We were content ...

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Letter Two: ACROSS THE CONTINENT (Excerpt)

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pp. 210-216

IT IS NOT EASY to escape from a big city. An entire continent was waiting to be traversed, and, for that reason, we lingered in New York till the city felt so home like that it seemed wrong to leave it. And further, the more one studied it, the more grotesquely bad it grew—bad in its paving, bad in its streets, bad in its street-police, and but for the ...

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Letter Three: WHAT RUDYARD KIPLING SAW ON HIS WAY BACK FROM JAPAN (Excerpt)

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pp. 217-220

Three times within one year did for tune come knocking to the door of a man I know.2 Once at Seattle, when that town was a gray blur after a fire; once at Tacoma, in the days when the steam-tram ran off the rails twice a week; and once at Spokane Falls. But in the roar of the land boom he did not hear her ...

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Letter Four: ON ONE SIDE ONLY

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pp. 221-228

Look at this.” He handed over the long list of deaths from heat that enlivened the news papers. All the cities where men live at breaking strain were sending in their butcher bills and the papers of the cities, them selves apostles of the Gospel of Rush, were beseeching their readers to keep cool and not to over-work them selves while the hot wave was upon them. The rivers were patched and barred with sun-dried ...

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Letter Five: FROM A WINTER NOTE-BOOK (1895)

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pp. 229-238

WE HAD WALKED abreast of the year from the very be ginning, and that was when the first blood-root came up be tween the patches of April snow, while yet the big drift at the bottom of the meadow held fast. In the shadow of the woods and under the blown pine-needles clots of snow lay till far into May, but neither the sea son nor the flowers ...

APPENDIX: FOUR INTERVIEWS

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pp. 240-257

First San Francisco Interview, INDIAN JOURNALISM 2 June 1889

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pp. 241-242

Second San Francisco Interview, SNAKES AND ELEPHANTS 9 June 1889

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pp. 243-249

An Interview At Buffalo, AS OTHERS SEE US 12 August 1889

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pp. 250-254

London Interview, STILL HE LIKES US (Excerpt) 29 June 1890

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pp. 255-257

NOTES TO THE LETTERS

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pp. 258-276

Index

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pp. 277-282


E-ISBN-13: 9780944318331
Print-ISBN-13: 9780944318171
Print-ISBN-10: 0944318177

Page Count: 324
Illustrations: 8 photos, drawings
Publication Year: 2003

Series Title: 1880-1920 British Authors Series, No. 17

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Subject Headings

  • Kipling, Rudyard, 1865-1936 -- Travel -- United States.
  • Kipling, Rudyard, 1865-1936 -- Correspondence.
  • Kipling, Rudyard, 1865-1936 -- Interviews.
  • United States -- Description and travel.
  • United States -- Social life and customs -- 1865-1918.
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