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Rudyard Kipling and Baden-Powell

Kipling drawn by Baden-Powell
My interest in Kipling's Scouting connections was aroused by reading Mowgli's Sons by Hugh Brogan published in 1987, and my own visit to Bateman's, Kipling's home, in the summer of 2002. I discovered that my own close researches into the 'two lives' of Baden-Powell, in the Army and in Scouting, had brought me into contact with information about the friendship between the two men.
What follows is not meant as a biography of either man, but is an account of the points where their lives crossed, their shared experiences and the influence that they had upon each other.

Starting points

BOTH men were born in the Victorian era, Baden-Powell first in 1857, Kipling eight years later. Both men died within five years of each other. B-P died last, aged 84, in 1941, so all of Kipling's life occurred within B-P's span. They were contemporaries who grew up in the national culture, sharing many of the 'imperial' beliefs that underpinned the British Empire and Kipling was born in that Empire, in India. It could well be argued that both men went on to be advocates of Empire, and both have been individually described as "the greatest living Englishman".

'Just so' elephant

Kipling and Baden-Powell both had clergymen for fathers, who were also authors. The Rev. Professor Powell died when B-P was only three years old. Kipling was sent to school in England whilst his parents remained in India, so he too grew up without direct contact with his father for most of his school years.

Rudyard Kipling aged 6
Rudyard Kipling aged 6

There is no doubt that B-P inherited his father's skill as an artist, particularly in the medium of the pen and ink cartoon. Kipling's father, John Lockwood Kipling, was one of the pioneers of art education in India. Rudyard shared his father's talent and, like B-P, illustrated his own work, notably the Just So Stories, from which 'The Elephant Child', shown here, is taken. Many others, however, were illustrated by Rudyard's father, also in the medium of pen and ink.

Kipling experienced some bleakness in his childhood. He and his sister were sent from India, as were many ex-patriot children, for their schooling in England. They were sent off, without warning or explanation, to live for six years, with someone they had not previously met, in Southsea. They were not kindly treated. Kipling called the house where they lived 'The House of Desolation'.


'Rudyard' is an unusual Christian Name. I have not come across the name before the time of Kipling, though it might have become popular after his fame and affection in the public eye grew. There is, however, an English place-name 'Rudyard' in Staffordshire, which is the only occurrence of this name in the British Isles. Some sources say that the name comes from Ralph Rudyard, who is reputed to have slain Richard III at Bosworth, but as that was in 1485 and the place-name Rudegeard was first recorded in 1002, it is more likely that Ralph Rudyard's ancestors came from the place in Staffordshire.

Rudyard is a small village between the Potteries towns of Stoke-on-Trent and the moorlands town of Leek. The dam that formed Rudyard Lake, an artificial reservoir two miles long and a quarter of a mile wide, was built in 1797 to provide water for the Trent and Mersey Canal and later, in 1831, to feed the Macclesfield canal.

Rudyard - 1900
A corner of Rudyard Lake - showing
pleasure boats - early 1900's

The Churnet Valley Railway Line, running from Manchester to Uttoxeter, was built in 1849. There were two stations near the lake, one at the dam end at Rudyard village, the other at the feeder end at Rushton Spencer. Once the railway was built, the lake became very popular with tourists, who could easily get out from Manchester or the Potteries towns for a day in the country. There were stalls on the dam, 'Tea Rooms' were built, houses, boathouses and chalets - many of which are still to be seen - provided accommodation, and amusements such as boating and a roller-skating rink sprang up. Colder winters were more common in those times and many people would come to ice-skate on the lake, as it would freeze over for weeks at a time. In 1906 a golf course with its own clubhouse and tea rooms was made at the north end of the lake. Rudyard Lake was an extremely popular tourist attraction at the turn of the nineteenth century, and as such became known as "The Blackpool of the Potteries".

Kipling's father, John Lockwood Kipling, was an artist and scholar who had considerable influence on his son's work. He was involved in the decoration of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and came to the Potteries to work for the potter Pinder Bourne in Burslem. In 1863 he and Robert Edgar were awarded joint first prize in the competition for the design of the façade and elevation of the Wedgwood Memorial Institute in Burslem. Later, he became curator of the Lahore museum, and is described presiding over this "wonder house" in the first chapter of Rudyard Kipling's Kim.

John Lockwood Kipling is said to have met Alice Macdonald for the first time at a picnic party by Rudyard Lake in 1863. They became engaged and married, two years later, in London. They fell in love with Rudyard so much during their courtship that they decided to christen their first child, born in Bombay, India in 1865, Joseph Rudyard Kipling.

Rudyard - 2000
Rudyard, and its Reservoir, from the South

Today, Rudyard Lake is as popular as ever. Although the railway has gone, a Miniature Railway has been established, using the old track-bed, and runs from the old Rudyard station to Rushton Spencer, at the head of the Lake. The Staffordshire Way runs along its west shore and one of the Staffordshire Moorland Walks along its east. There is an active sailing club, bridle paths, facilities and entertainments for visitors. 'Tea Rooms' are still to be found (though not under that name) and many of the buildings and boathouses that would have been familiar to John Kipling and Alice Macdonald are still there and still in use.

More remarkable still, on top of the steeper eastern slopes bordering the Lake (to the right and not seen in the photograph above) lies Barnswood Scout Camp. I wonder how many Scouts (and their Leaders!) realise how close they have been to a place which, by its association, has a place in the earliest days of Scouting . . .

However, he also enjoyed, like B-P, idyllic times. He had famous relatives who were able to exert influence on his behalf. Kipling's mother was Alice Macdonald, two of whose sisters married the highly successful 19th-century painters Sir Edward Burne-Jones and Sir Edward Poynter, whilst a third married Alfred Baldwin and became the mother of Stanley Baldwin, Kipling's cousin, who went on to become Prime Minister. B-P's childhood was also populated with influential relatives and figures such Robert Browning, William Makepeace Thackeray, John Ruskin, and the scientist Thomas Huxley, were among the more famous regular visitors to his home. (Baden-Powell's childhood will be more thoroughly documented in a forthcoming Milestones article 'Nature or Nurture'.)

Kipling was a prolific author. He wrote 4 novels as well as numerous poems, some of which have been collected into 19 different compilations of his work, as well as many articles. The 'man in the street' would perhaps be unaware that B-P, as far as mere output is concerned, out-produced his literary friend, as a visit to the Baden-Powell Bibliography on this Website will demonstrate. On it, 36 Books are listed besides numerous Scouting pamphlets. He also wrote his weekly 'Yarns' in The Scout magazine and contributed a monthly 'Outlook' in Headquarters Gazette and The Scouter over a thirty-year period.


BOTH men attended English public schools and, because of that alone, have much in common. These establishments were, after all, predominately all-male, residential, and occupied mainly by the children from families rich enough to afford the fees, though Baden-Powell was exceedingly fortunate to be a 'scholarship' boy at Charterhouse School.

Kipling young man
Kipling as a young man
 Besides this, it would seem that there were remarkable similarities between the philosophies of each school and indeed both men were to carry a life-long affection for their particular Headteachers, Dr Haig Brown of Charterhouse and Cormell Price of the United Services College. This affection though was not enough, whilst they were actually resident at school, to stop them both from wanting to escape and disappearing for hours in the nearby scrubland; if, that is, Kipling's character 'Stalky' in Stalky and Co. is, as is commonly assumed, based on the author's own childhood experiences.

There is no doubt that juvenile homosexuality was present in the all-male public schools of the day, and this fact is often quoted in association with the two men. After their deaths, both were accused of being repressed homosexuals. The charge has probably more to do with the emerging 'liberalism' of biographies which, from the 1970's onward, often include psycho-analytical research into their subject's sexuality - no doubt in an attempt to boost sales. Typical of these is Baden-Powell by Tim Jeal, a review of which appears on the 'Bibliography' Page on this Site. Other biographers of both Baden-Powell and Kipling have conversely 'uncovered' real and supposed heterosexual love affairs prior to their marriages. Their marriages, at least so far, have escaped this sort of attack, it being quite apparent that both men worshiped their wives.


THE two men first met in Lahore, India, sometime between October 1882 and November 1884. The date is imprecise because Baden-Powell, in his obituary on Kipling in The Scouter of March, 1936, only tells us the place of their meeting and not the date. So their meeting must have been at some time during the period that Baden-Powell was in the region of Lahore.Fylfot They met through their respective families; B-P wrote "His father and my brother were colleagues in establishing the museum in Lahore of Indian arts and crafts." Kipling was a promising cub reporter and Baden-Powell a junior army officer; both were considered to be 'thrusting personalities'. B-P at that time had also had books and articles published to gain necessary additional income. (Army officers at the time were expected to have private incomes; most of them had bought their commissions). It can be imagined that they would become friends.

Kipling used two very Indian motifs, the head of the elephant and the fylfot or swastika, an Indian good luck sign, to embellish his work. He saw to it that they were included somewhere, on his book covers or flyleaves, to bring good luck to his readers. B-P also adopted the fylfot symbol and incorporated it in the designs of the 'Thanks Badge' and Scouting awards from 1911 until around 1936, when the Nazis - the German National Socialist Party - adopted a version of it as their symbol. The Milestones article on The Fleur-de-lis and the Swastika gives a full account of the Scouting use of the symbol and the Kipling version.

The Mafeking Connection, Part I

Leander Starr Jameson
"Dr. Jim" - Leander Starr Jameson, from an illustration for Vanity Fair, 1896

KIPLING wrote one of the most popular poems in the English Language, If, for Dr Leander Jameson. Kipling admired Jameson and had invited him to Bateman's in 1909, one year prior to the writing of If. Jameson (see 'Internet Sources', below) was infamous for the 'Jameson Raid', which is generally acknowledged as being one of the contributory factors which led to the Boer War. On December 29th, 1895 Jameson, with support from his close friend Cecil Rhodes and, unofficially, the British Government, planned an incursion into the Transvaal, Boer sovereign territory, from Mafeking with a group of 600 volunteers from the British South Africa Police. The raid was to support civil unrest, mainly stirred up by British settlers, the Uitlanders, in the hope that the Boer regime might be overthrown, resulting in an all-British South Africa and, of course, British ownership of the gold and diamond fields. It was a bungled job and Jameson and his men were soon caught. He was only returned to British jurisdiction on the promise of his imprisonment.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!.

Rudyard Kipling

He was sentenced to fifteen months imprisonment, serving ten months in London, after which he returned to South Africa and was back in Mafeking just prior to the Siege in 1899. Baden-Powell insisted that Jameson leave on the last train out with the officers' wives. He, or, more likely, British High Command, feared that Jameson's presence would further incite the Boers - who regarded the Jameson Raid as the ultimate provocation - when the Siege, as they fully expected it to be, was broken. The Boers, even without Jameson's presence, threatened that, on entering Mafeking, they would 'not leave one stone upon another'.

Jameson's portrait was and is still to be found in Kipling's study at Bateman's, above the central section the bookcase, next to that of Josephine, Kipling's first daughter, who died aged seven. Jameson's full name was Leander Starr Jameson. Kipling had married an American, Caroline Starr Balestier. Whilst I have no proof whatsoever, the co-incidence of this very unusual name, used by both families as a middle name, leads me to think that Kipling not only admired Jameson, but was related to him through his wife's family. This certainly would explain the juxtaposition of the two portraits.

IT would be hard to imagine a more far-flung corner of Empire than Mafeking in 1899. The town backed onto the Kalahari Desert and only eight miles away was the hostile border of the Boer territory of Transvaal. The Siege of 'gallant little Mafeking' was to last for 217 days, with the British Public receiving news on an almost daily basis. This 'news' was generally manufactured propaganda, but, when available, came from one of the several war correspondents amongst the besieged. Kipling had been offered the job as War Correspondent by the Daily Mail at the outbreak of war, but at first declined, though eventually he did accept and left for South Africa with his family, nursemaid and governess, arriving on Christmas Day, 1900. He was invited by his old friend and fellow member of the Athenaeum Club, Cecil Rhodes, to build a house, 'The Woolsack', on his estate at Groote Schuur. As a war correspondent, Kipling did see some action in the field, though he was not in Africa at the time of the Siege of Mafeking. His influence though was to be felt within that besieged town.

Absent Minded Beggar Cover

Major Alexander Godley was B-P's second-in-command in the later part of the Siege and, prior to the outbreak of hostilities, his wife was with him in Mafeking. B-P ordered the women out at the same time as Dr Jameson, and Lady Godley went to live in Bulawayo. She and Godley exchanged messages, hidden on native runners, throughout the Siege. The popular story was that these messages were written on thin paper and concealed on the person of the runners, in the soles of their shoes, for instance. However, the actual envelopes still in existence, one in the Royal Collection, are perfectly normal, uncreased and unmarked. One of the messages contained Kipling's latest work, The Absent Minded Beggar, which was a poetic patriotic appeal to the British public to provide for the wives and sweethearts of the 'gentlemen in khaki', who had been ordered 'South to Table Bay'. After going the rounds, the poem was eventually published in the Mafeking Mail ('Published Daily, Shells Permitting') and, we are told, this helped to raise morale. (The poem was later set to music by Sir Arthur Sullivan.)

There are further twists to this story. Godley had been at school with Kipling, indeed they were fellow-pupils in the same dormitory at school. In his book, Life of an Irish Soldier, to which B-P wrote the Foreword, Godley does not remember his schoolmate with much affection, but, with masterly understatement wrote of Kipling that "we realized that he would probably achieve a certain measure of success in the literary world." As we realize now, B-P also knew Kipling well from his time in India. It is easy to imagine that, with Godley's stories of his school days, B-P's recollections and the arrival of The Absent Minded Beggar in town, the talk around the Officers' Mess must have made Kipling's ears burn! (It is fascinating to imagine the conversation that might have taken place between Godley and B-P, when they shared their reminiscences about Kipling. My researches may have made me the first person in modern times able to do this, as, prior to this article, no other single document records the links between the three men.)

After Kipling died in 1936 his nephew, Oliver Baldwin, the homosexual son of Kipling's cousin, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, made a speech attacking his famous uncle which was, not surprisingly, widely reported. Oliver had been an idolised favourite of the Kiplings, especially after the death of their own son John, but Kipling had ostracised him on finding out about his 'beastliness' (homosexuality), already disliking his politics. Oliver, at the time of this outburst, was a Labour Member of Parliament. Many people wrote to the papers in Kipling's defence, including his old school friend Sir Alexander Godley.

BADEN-POWELL and Kipling met at least twice in South Africa. Mrs Kipling's diary reports that in March and April, 1901, B-P visited the Kiplings' house 'The Woolsack', and they would have met again, as seems most likely, if they were both guests of Cecil Rhodes at Groote Schuur. It is certain that Kipling and B-P did meet again in South Africa in 1906. B-P sketched Kipling (shown at the head of this article) and Kipling wrote a verse about a B-P seascape that Kipling had 'read' as a view of the veldt, because he held it upside down. He went on to scribble a comic verse about it.

This is the ocean bright and blue
That the Armadale Castle plowtered through,
But if you turn it the other way
It's the lonely veldt on a cloudy day,
That is if you hold it upside down
It's the gathering storm on the desert brown;
And very seldom since Art begun
Could you get two pictures by drawing one.

And this doggerel was written by the poet most commentators thought should have been Poet Laureate.

THE connection between the two men would no doubt have been strengthened as B-P met Kipling's daughter Elsie on various voyages to and from South Africa and, according to her diary, they would stroll around the deck together. Kipling was also a frequent traveller on this route and both he and B-P had sailed on the Armadale Castle. I hope that my on-going study of B-P's diaries might also reveal that B-P and Kipling were too, at some time, 'shipmates'. Certainly B-P seemed to have the knack of finding important 'connections' on his frequent voyages to postings. In January 1897, at the end of the Matabele Campaign, he sailed home on the newly launched Dunvegan Castle. Its glittering passenger list included Lady Grey, Lord Charles Bentinck, who was later to be one of B-P's officers in Mafeking, Cecil Rhodes and his brother Frank. Cecil Rhodes became one of the richest men in the world and certainly the most influential person as far as Africa was concerned. B-P had shared adventures with him during the campaign and, like Kipling, he was later to be a guest at Rhodes' house, Groote Schuur, in Cape Town. Viscountess Milner, who lived at Groote Schuur whilst her former husband, Lord Edward Cecil, was in Mafeking, claimed in her book My Picture Gallery, 1886-1901 that the house, like the ships plying between South Africa and Britain, was a focal point for the great and the good of the day.

Baden-Powell wrote in his obituary of Kipling that it was in South Africa that he got to know him best. In the interval between their last meeting in India and their next in South Africa, both men would become world-famous. Winston Churchill, for example, wrote about both men in glowing terms, they both received honorary doctorates, and were given the highest honours. Kipling received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907, B-P was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1939 for his work in 1938 and the preceding thirty years in promoting the "fraternity of the nations . . . through the Boy Scout Movement.", but, unfortunately, and for obvious reasons, the Peace Prize was not awarded in 1939.

Fame is never easy, and both men detested some of the attention that it brought. B-P was to call it 'damanable notoriety' and could only be persuaded to accept his peerage 'on behalf of the Scout Movement'. Kipling refused a knighthood and made every attempt to keep the public at bay, allowing his wife and daughter to become his 'gatekeepers'.

There was a young person of Bateman's
Who was guarded in most of her statements.
When asked, "Where's your pa?"
She said, - "Out in his car",
Whereas he was really in Bateman's.

Early days in Scouting

IN 1908 B-P wrote, in Scouting for Boys, a summary of 'Kim' and a description of 'Kim's Game', which Kipling freely allowed. The central importance of this book to Scouting was immense. Kipling's devising of 'Kim's Game' as a training for spies had been published around the same time as B-P's Aids to Scouting. This of course had as its central premise the importance to the army scout of learning from observation. B-P was to later publish his own My Adventures as a Spy in 1915.

In 1909, B-P wanted a Scouting Anthem, so he wrote to his old friend requesting:

"If the spirit will move you to give them [the Scouts] a sentiment in rhyme, I can promise you that it would be a very great thing for many thousands of good young hearts."

Baden-Powell also asked if Kipling would 'lend' him his son John for his forthcoming camp. The lads were to spend one week camping at Bucklers Hard, near Beaulieu, and one week on the Training Ship Mercury. B-P wrote in his letter "I hope to make sailors of them this year . . . "

John and Elsie when young
This photograph of John Kipling and his sister Elsie and is one of only two I have seen of John as a child. We would welcome, should it exist, one of him in Scout uniform

John, eleven at the time, was placed in a special patrol of B-P's guests along with his nephew Donald, who had also attended the Brownsea Island and Humshaugh camps. Donald was the same age as John, but most of the other boys were significantly older, so it is possible that the two became friends. When Kipling collected his son at the end of the camp, he saw an entertainment (held indoors because of the rain) provided by the participants for the guests.

Baden-Powell got his anthem, All Patrols Look Out, and the depth of Scouting knowledge portrayed in this song showed that Kipling had taken a keen interest in his son's experiences and had probably read Scouting for Boys. The song was published in The Scout on September 18th, 1909, but this was not to be Kipling's most literary or popular contribution to the Scouting Game. The log books used by participants in Wood Badge Training courses at Gilwell had a verse from 'The Feet of the Young Men' printed on the cover. The special Akela Certificate awarded to those completing the Akela's Wood Badge at Gilwell between 1922 and 1925, also carried the same verse.

Who hath smelt wood-smoke at twilight?
Who hath heard the birch-log burning?
Who is quick to read the noises of the night?
Let him follow with the others:
-for the Young Men's feet are turning,
To the camps of proved desire and known delight!

Hugh Brogan is a lecturer in American History at the University of Sussex. He has written several books, including a biography of Arthur Ransom, and wrote Mowgli's Sons as an academic treatise, for which he was presented with Ralph Lewis Award, for books having some Sussex connection, by his university. He does not claim any Scouting credentials, but is the only Kipling scholar to have attempted any research about Kipling's Scouting connections. He maintains that the provenance of the lines above was lost to Scouting circles until as late as 1978, when the then Association Archivist, Graham Coombe, was apparently able to establish the facts. I have, however, a pre-war Gilwell log book that clearly acknowledges Kipling as the author alongside the verse printed on the cover.

Scouts soon began to populate Kipling's literary work, and a whole troop appeared in Kipling's, The Horse Marines published 1911.

Naturally B-P and Kipling exchanged Christmas cards. It would appear that Kipling also received a privately-circulated pamphlet, Cadet Training and Education, in which B-P complained vigorously about the government's notion of enlisting all boys in the Cadet Corps. (See The Scouts Defence Corps and 'The Red Feather'.) Kipling's non-committal reply is still in existence. In a letter dated December 23rd, 1915, in the University of Sussex archives of Kipling Papers, Kipling airs his own views that the education system was over-political, that 5% of the population, "the ultimate dirt", have to be coerced to work, that discipline must stem from fear etc., etc. He does not comment on B-P's view, other than his parting shot of "Keep up the good work". Though these views are hardly non-committal, he was non-committal about Baden-Powell's points.

Smoking, drinking and the sense of smell

BADEN-POWELL'S stock-in-trade throughout his Scouting years was his repeated warnings to Scouts of the dangers - or 'rocks' as he described them in Rovering to Success - that they would encounter in life. Of all the dangers, most important for B-P, despite what his reviewers have to say about 'Continence', seems to be that of smoking, closely followed by drinking. B-P, contrary to what some of his biographers believed, was known to partake in both, but keeping 'all things in moderation'. Of the two it was perhaps the dangers of smoking that exercised B-P most and, during the period between 1900-07, he was the patron of at least two anti-smoking organisations. As far Kipling is concerned, the dangers of drink came first in his priorities, and he was, apparently, deeply affected when he observed young women 'drugged by drink' being led away for sailors for their own purposes.

Baden-Powell maintained that one of the reasons why a Scout would not want to smoke was that he would lose his vital sense of smell. This particular sense, it would appear, was part of Kipling's stock in trade! T Thurston Thompson wrote a biography of Kipling in 1915 when he was at the height of his popularity. Thompson was so taken with what he called 'Kipling's Cultured Delight in Odour', that he wrote a whole chapter about it, and though he did not use the 'Who hath smelt wood-smoke at twilight?' text, quoted above, it is a good example of Kipling's constant invoking of the sense of smell.

Domestic Life

MR and Mrs Kipling were invited to attend B-P's wedding reception at the Mercer's Hall, London, on 17th December 1912, and later the B-Ps settled at Ewhurst Place, Robertsbridge, only ten miles from the Kiplings' home, Bateman's, in Sussex. Again the similarities of lifestyle, of two world-famous, well-travelled, very English gentlemen living a gentrified life in their respective Sussex villages, is striking. They were great motoring enthusiasts, and both owned (naturally) Rolls-Royce motor cars. Kipling said of his that it was the only car he could afford, a reference to its reliability and longevity. B-P's was given to him by the Scouts of the World. The B-P's visited Bateman's, and almost certainly the visit would have been reciprocated.

(Baden-Powell was in fact given two cars by his Scouts: The first, a Lanchester, was presented on his marriage to Olave in 1912 and was bought from funds raised by a penny subscription from Scouts across the world. The more famous, however, was the Jam Roll, a 20 h.p. Rolls-Royce Limousine. This was presented with an Eccles Caravan - the Eccles Cake - at the 21st birthday celebrations of Scouting during the 1929 World Jamboree at Arrowe Park, Birkenhead, England. B-P had been asked what he wanted, he replied that the only thing he could think of was a pair of braces - these were also presented at the same time!)

Both men had two daughters and a single son. John Kipling was born on August 17th, 1897, and Peter Baden-Powell, of a different generation, in 1913. Again there is another remarkable similarity, as both sons were to disappoint their fathers as far as their prowess at school was concerned, and the fathers' letters to the boys at their different public schools are almost interchangeable!

War Looms

BOTH men spoke out publicly about the menace of a strong Germany and predicted the coming conflict. At the outbreak of the First World War, both B-P and Kipling saw it as their patriotic duty to support Kitchener's efforts to raise an army. Both men spoke at recruiting rallies, though probably not on the same occasion.

John Kipling Irish Guards
John Kipling, in the uniform of the Irish Guards

John Kipling was, apparently, not a robust youth. Like his father he was severely shortsighted and only 5 feet 6 inches tall. He would have escaped conscription by virtue of his health, but he was very keen to join the colours, and was able to do so only because his father bought him a commission in the Irish Guards.

On first his meeting with the enemy in France, at the Battle of Loos on September 27th, 1915. John Kipling was lost, officially posted as 'Missing'.

" . . . from that day Kipling began to be an old man . . . "

John had been made a full Lieutenant only days before and may indeed have been unaware of his promotion, as it had yet to be 'gazetted'. This important fact may have had a bearing on subsequent events, as John's body was not located during Kipling's lifetime, despite the extraordinary searches that he undertook. For some time the Kiplings lived in the hope that John might yet be discovered in some Prisoner-of-War camp, but even when they accepted his death, the absence of a known grave meant that in today's terms they could find no sense of 'closure'.

Baden-Powell thought of all his Scouts as being part of his family and often expressed himself in these terms. Obituaries of Scout Officers appeared in Headquarters' Gazette month after month, year after the year, throughout the course of the war. Some of the dead were well known to B-P, such as Roland Philipps who had been his house guest. The dreadful and constant carnage of his Scouts, and the death of Philipps in particular, had a profound effect on the Chief Scout and, though his loss was perhaps not comparable to Kipling's, it similarly affected his future writings and philosophy. Before the War Baden-Powell often used the term 'Peace Scouting'. This stemmed from the concept of the Citizen Soldier. To be a loyal citizen meant to make yourself fit in body and mind for the time you might have to serve King and Country in active combat. After the War, the concept of Peace Scouting took on a far more active role. Generations of Scouts at successive World Jamborees were urged to make friends with the youth of all the nations and to go home and spread a message of peace and understanding, in order that the world would never again be subject to the spectacle of Scouts killing Scouts.

Both Kipling and Baden-Powell had ample opportunity to see at firsthand the effects of the War. Both men in civilian capacities worked in France at intervals during the war, B-P in his Scouts Huts and Kipling as a war correspondent, then later in his capacity as a member of the Imperial War Graves Commission.

Perhaps Kipling's natural grief was touched by pangs of guilt as, without his influence and money, John would not have gone to France. Kipling was possibly the most active member of the War Graves Commission and wrote most of the inscriptions on the many memorials, playing a large part in ensuring that the graves of the dead bore the badge of their regiment. He paid a British gardener at the Menin Gate War Cemetery to sound the last post, in remembrance of John, every evening until 1940 and he also wrote a mammoth history, The Irish Guards in the Great War, entirely without monetary reward, which was published in 1923. Profits from the book were probably donated to the 'Widows and Orphans Fund' of the Irish Guards.

There is correspondence from B-P in the Collection of John Ineson, which indicates that B-P was also writing a regimental history of the 13th/18th Hussars, but this book was probably never published.

Peter Baden-Powell was only five when John was killed, but the Baden-Powell's, father and son, were also to experience trauma. Peter had to be withdrawn from Charterhouse School as he lacked academic ability and, despite his father's intervention, failed to gain a commission in the British Army. Eventually, B-P did manage, in November 1933, to secure him a non-commissioned posting in the British South Africa Police in Rhodesia, where eventually Peter, who by this time was not communicating with his parents, was married in secret, in January, 1936. Peter did not tell his parents of his marriage until his son Michael was born in January 1937. The rôle-model for a million boys was not at ease with his own son.

The Mafeking Connection, Part II

DURING the Siege of Mafeking, B-P's Chief Staff Officer was Lord Edward Cecil, or 'Nigs' as he was known to his family. He had been B-P's second-in-command and responsible, amongst other things, for the Siege-time operation of the Mafeking Cadets, often supposed to be the forerunner of the Boy Scouts. Not only was he the son of the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, Queen Victoria's last Prime Minister, but also the cousin of Arthur James Balfour who succeeded his uncle Lord Salisbury as Prime Minister in 1903.

Lord Edward Cecil
Lord Edward Cecil

Lord Edward Cecil married Miss Violet Maxse in 1894. Violet, by all accounts was a 'wild child', very artistic and from a family of unbelievers. She was never to gain full acceptance in the aristocratic, Catholic, Cecil family. At their wedding were gathered guests from the worlds of politics, arts and letters, including Oscar Wilde, six poets, but no mention of Kipling, though later the Cecils, and in particular Lady Violet, were to become close friends of the Kiplings. Violet's friendship was to endure long after the death of her husband in 1918, and she went on to marry Lord Milner who was, co-incidentally, also a friend of the Kiplings. Milner had been at Oxford with Baden-Powell's brother George and they had both made a career in the Civil Service and politics. Milner became the British High Commissioner for South Africa and prior to the Second Boer War of 1899, followed the line of the pro-Boer Prime Minister of the independent Cape Colony, W P Shreiner, in doing everything possible to try and avoid war. This included refusing Baden-Powell's requests for supplies and permission to raise his two regiments within the boundaries of the Colony. B-P wrote of his interview with Milner when he first arrived in Cape Town to request assistance in carrying out the orders of the Commander in Chief of the British Army, Viscount Wolseley, as being like 'a cold douche'.

The Cecil's only son, George, was born in 1895. He remained in England when the couple sailed for South Africa with Baden-Powell in 1899. Violet was resident in Mafeking with Lady Godley, but she too was evacuated with the other ladies (and Jameson) on the last trains before the town was besieged. Violet also accepted Cecil Rhodes' invitation to live at his house at Groote Schuur near Cape Town for the duration of the Siege. It was during this time that Lady Violet came into contact with the Kiplings and formed a friendship which continued after the war, when Lord Cecil's career took him to Egypt. Lady Violet stayed in England and took a house at Great Wigsell near Hawkhurst, Sussex, only seven miles north-east from the Kipling's house Bateman's at Burwash, in East Sussex (and, indeed, less that 5 miles north-west of the Baden-Powells at Ewhurst). The Cecil's son George and his younger sister Helen were ideal companions for John Kipling and his younger sister Elsie and there were frequent visits between the two families.

George Cecil was 18 years old in 1913, and had left school to go to the Army College at Sandhurst. Kipling thought him a wonderful rôle-model for John, and so he continued to be a frequent visitor to Bateman's. The Kiplings entertained George when he joined the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards in January 1914. Corrie Kipling wrote: "We did not have anybody else to dine so we might hear him talk . . . " and Kipling himself, "He has come on splendidly - sage, as ever and altogether delightful in his account of the new life and as keen as mustard."

In mid-July George organised a cricket match at Great Wigsell and enlisted the Kiplings as members of his eleven. Less than one month later George was sent to the front as part of the British Expeditionary Force and straight into the retreat from Mons. In his first action on August 12th, he was listed as wounded and missing. This, it has to be remembered, was one year before the death of John Kipling, but the circumstances were so similar and made more ironic by the fact that the action concerned was in support of the Irish Guards, which was to be John Kipling's regiment. What was to follow is even more remarkable.

THE Cecils were one of the most powerful families in the land but, as their friends, the Kiplings wanted to assist them in their natural desire to prove that George might still be alive and perhaps a Prisoner-of-War. Kipling's wife, Carrie, was an American Citizen from the publishing family of Balestier and of no mean influence - the family were considered to be 'American Aristocracy'. Kipling had been collaborating on a novel, The Naulahka, with Wolcott Balestier, Kipling's American publisher, in London when he met Caroline, the sister of Wolcott Balestier. Rudyard and Carrie married in 1892, the year after Wolcott's death, and they went to live near Brattleboro, Vermont, USA, where they stayed for four years, until there was a great falling-out over some trifling matter between the two brothers in law, Rudyard and Beatty Balestier. Carrie Kipling approached the American Ambassador and was soon able to report that "Mr Roosevelt is asking the Kaiser to give him a list of our wounded." (America was at this time, as it was to do again later, adopting a pose of 'neutrality'.) Lady Cecil in particular was unceasing in her search, even to the extent of travelling to France. Kipling took it upon himself to track down the men who survived the action. His report to Lady Violet was hopeful, though not conclusive, but the army were not as convinced, pointing out that men involved in the heat of battle make poor witnesses. This proved to be the case, as Kipling was to discover for himself, when interviewing witnesses of his own son's engagement with the enemy.

After two months of ceaseless searching, George's death was confirmed.

Later, Lady Violet was to become just as involved in the search for John Kipling when he was reported 'missing' as she had been for her own son. She did not hesitate to use her political connections and other friendships to help the cause, including those with the Prince of Wales and the Crown Princess of Denmark. Princess Margaret of Denmark was particularly useful, as she had a German mother-in-law who was related to the Kaiser. This period of intense mutual dependency naturally strengthened the friendship between Carrie Kipling and Lady Violet Cecil. They corresponded on an almost daily basis and, other than Carrie Kipling's mother, Lady Violet was her closest confidant. The friendship that began as a result of the Siege of Mafeking in 1899 was to last until Carrie Kipling's death in 1939.

IT is interesting to wonder why it was that B-P should have invited Kipling's son John and sons of his 'high powered' friends, but not Lord Edward Cecil's son George, to his early camps. The answer is probably to be found by reading between the lines of the following correspondences:

Baden-Powell wrote in his official report of the Siege that Cecil "stuck pluckily to his work although hampered by illness in the first part of the siege." (Private letter to GHQ). After the Siege, B-P wrote that Cecil "did his best but was not much use." Cecil was equally disenchanted. On hearing that the B-P's were to move into his area he confided to Violet. "I dread anything that reminds me of that ghastly time, I really dread it."

The Jungle Book

Jungle Book
First edition, 1894. Illustrated by J Lockwood Kipling

ON July 28th, 1916, Baden-Powell wrote to Kipling to ask his permission to use The Jungle Book in his own re-vamp of the Wolf Cub scheme. Wolf Cubs had been created in 1913 under the direction of Percy Everett. B-P felt the scheme needed a central story suitable for youngsters, on which to hang specially adapted Scouting teachings. He wrote to Kipling at the point when The Wolf Cub's Handbook, which uses The Jungle Book as its main theme, was in its proof stage. This was not blatant disrespect, but a complete understanding between the two men. Kipling was in total agreement with B-P's endeavours to spread Scouting and would do all he could to help. Yet this generosity, as far as Kipling's work was concerned, was not characteristic. Hugh Brogan asserts that Kipling "was notoriously sensitive about being quoted or exploited".

Mowgli and Bagheera, one of the Maurice and Edward Detmold illustrations from a 1903 edition of The Jungle Book

Kipling would have had every reason to be fearful as, however much B-P's literary style may have been loved, it was not in the same league as that of Kipling. The way his subtly-drawn creations were 'ghost written' by B-P into mere caricatures of their former selves, must have surely caused some qualms. However, Kipling sent B-P his proofs back without a single revision. This was true friendship linked by the certainty that, in B-P's hands, his characters would reach a wider audience, gain more popularity and do better for 'Empire' than they ever could if left within the covers of Kipling's own books.

Kipling was keen to play the Scouting game and in a letter to N D Power, the Chief Cub Commissioner of the day, he spells out just how The Howl should sound - just as I learnt it and millions of others have before and since.

"A-KAY-Lar with an accent on the second syllable which can be prolonged indefinitely. The initial A on the other hand is almost a grunt - 'Er'- Try this and you will see the beauty of the thing."

The following year the Duke of York was treated to the the largest 'Howl' ever assembled up to that time. Some 4,000 Cubs in a rally held in Hyde Park, gave the Prince "the biggest surprise of my life!" B-P wrote to Kipling and told him of the success of this rally, which also featured scenes from The Jungle Book.

Posse Programme Cover
Almost certainly Kipling would have been presented with his own copy of this programme
"I should have liked you to have been there not only to see the show but to feel the gratification you would have done, at having brought so much romance and sunshine into the lives of these boys."

On October 7th 1922, an even larger Grand Howl by 19,000 Wolf Cubs as part of 'a Posse of Welcome' at Alexander Palace was planned for the Prince of Wales who was returning from a World Tour. B-P was determined that Kipling would not miss out a second time and Kipling was present in the grounds of Alexander Palace, waiting with other dignitaries to meet the Prince of Wales, who, unfortunately, was late. However, the 'Grand Howl' took place on time and so Kipling was again robbed of seeing at firsthand how his written word was translated into a crescendo of noise by the greatest number of boys under the age of eleven ever assembled in one place. Kipling however did enjoy the 'show', but must have looked out-of-place in his frockcoat and top hat amongst all the bare knees. B-P wrote again to him after the event:

"I look upon you as the inspirer of a lot of the spirit in Scouting today and was therefore glad that you should see it in practice"

This great praise was perhaps half an apology for Kipling missing the Grand Howl and, with an invitation to visit Gilwell Park, half a 'softening up' for the request that was to follow. B-P wanted Kipling to write, through The Times, "to the people of Britain to ask for their help this once". The help required was 'material' i.e., financial, in order that the Scout Association could do great work "towards the prevention of crime and the promotion of a sane, happy citizenhood."

But in this last request, B-P was to be disappointed. Kipling was quite prepared to pledge his own allegiance to the cause, but high-profile campaigning was not his style. It might have been in his memory that the only time he broke his own rule was linked to the death of his son.

Land and Sea Tales for Scouts and Guides

I have yet to discover which came first, Kipling's intention to publish a book especially for the Movement, or his appointment as a Commissioner of Wolf Cubs. However, by the time Land and Sea Tales was published in 1923, its frontispiece proudly carried, against Kipling's name, his rank as 'Commissioner for Scouts'. Hugh Brogan, in his Mowgli's Sons, is, I feel, perhaps a little mischievous in pointing out that in reality Kipling had been made a Commissioner only for Wolf Cubs. The term 'Boy Scouts' in its widest sense included all sections of the Movement. In his obituary on Kipling, in the February 1936 edition of the The Scouter, Deputy Chief Scout Lord Somers tells us that Kipling had been a member of the Scout Council since 1923. It would appear that his rôle of 'Commissioner', though surely well deserved, was merely honorary. I have never encountered a picture of Kipling in Scout uniform and, it is has to be said, the imagination is hard-put to cope with the very idea!

The Land and Sea Tales cover a miscellany of topics, ranging from stories about unnamed V.C.s, to further tales from Stalky and Co. If Scout and Guide readers were looking for stories with characters that were within the Movement, they would have been disappointed. From my perspective, there seems to be precious little to do with 'Scouting and Guiding', and little to capture the enthusiasm of its younger participants. The book, however, was well received by The Scouter whose reviewer, Alfred G Barralet in December 1923 declared it was "just the sort of yarn we want at the campfire or the pow-wow at troop headquarters."

Kipling's Howl

Kipling and Everett
In contrast to the confident-looking Everett, Kipling looks like a man not at ease with himself. His dress, even in 1924, must have looked antiquated

KIPLING was not to be totally deprived on opportunity to witness his Grand Howl performed in a grand manner. He was in attendance at the Imperial Jamboree held at Wembley in 1924. On Wednesday August 6th, 7,000 Wolf Cubs yelled their heads off for him and the Duke of York. In a special tribute, Kipling was able to see his Jungle Book creations brought to life.

"Mowgli, the boy, was chased by Shere Khan, the tiger, but was rescued by Baloo, the bear, and Bagheera, the panther, when suddenly a band of chattering monkeys arrived and seized him. This time however Kaa, the snake, came to his rescue and gobbled up all the monkeys."

Kaa was surely the biggest reptile ever seen, being composed of 150 yards of Wolf Cubs bent double in an elastic-sided 'skin'. Having devoured all the monkeys, it coiled itself twice round the 'council rock' and went to sleep.

The photograph shown here is from the 1924 Imperial Jamboree Book The caption names 'Mr Rudyard Kipling' with no mention of his Commissioner status. He is standing alongside Percy Everett who was responsible for the original organisation of the Wolf Cubs in 1913.

The last reference I have been able to find of Kipling's connection to Scouting, concerns the visit to Bateman's on August 5th 1931, when 28 Scouts were Kipling's guests for the day. Kipling was always reported as having 'the Pied Piper touch' and, like his friend B-P, was accused of being a Peter Pan, 'the boy that never grew up'. It is to be hoped that this so far unnamed Scout Group enjoyed their time with their founder's friend.

In death.

B-P Memorial

KIPLING died five years before B-P, leaving The Founder to write his obituary in The Scout of March 1936.

"Our Movement has lost a true and valued friend. From its earliest days Scouting was heartily encouraged by him. He had practically been a life-long friend to me, and I shall miss his cheery, clever and helpful personality."

Kipling was buried along with the other British literary immortals in Westminster Abbey. Baden-Powell was buried, by his own wishes, at Nyeri in Kenya, but Lady Baden-Powell was offered the opportunity, had she wished, for The Founder also to be buried in Westminster Abbey. It was proposed that his gravestone would be in the main aisle, a unique mark of respect for a commoner. In the event, a large commemorative stone was placed in the floor by the internal wall at the main entrance, so in death as in life Baden-Powell and Rudyard Kipling are forever linked.

An American Postscript


IN 1898 Kipling, living in America at the time, met Ernest Thompson Seton. Of Scottish descent, Seton had emigrated from England to Canada and was to start his own youth organisation based on Woodcraft Lore, and become one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America.

Kipling was profoundly affected by Seton's philosophy and when his friend suggested that he was going to write a book, 'A dictionary of woodcraft', Kipling could see that such a 'dictionary' would probably not attract a publisher. The great man of letters persuaded his friend instead to embody his philosophy and teachings in novel, but, though Seton agreed, he did not make a start on the work.

Later, in 1899, Kipling became seriously ill and sent for his publisher Frank N Doubleday (known to Kipling as Effendi). In what seemed to be a deathbed message, Kipling told Doubleday that he must, at all costs, 'sign up' Seton and publish his works. Doubleday approached Seton, who agreed to make start on the novel Kipling had suggested, saying the book would take two years to write. Two Little Savages was eventually published by Doubleday in 1903.

Seton went to England in 1904 where he met Baden-Powell and, in 1906, sent him his latest work, The Birch Bark Roll of the Woodcraft Indians from which B-P borrowed liberally, with the author's consent, whilst Scouting for Boys was under preparation.

Seton's influence on Scouting is well-documented in Scouting Milestones, particularly in Ernest Thompson Seton: The Beginnings of Controversy, by US Scout Historian David C Scott. The reader, if all the links are followed, should be in a position to judge for themselves just how much the Scout Movement, and Baden-Powell himself, owes to Kipling's intervention on Seton's behalf.


My particular thanks to:
David C Scott, US Scout Historian and Collector, for information concerning Kipling and Ernest Thompson Seton
Printed Sources
The Matabele Campaign, Colonel RSS Baden-Powell, 1897
Rudyard Kipling. A Character Study, T Thurston Thompson, Simpkin, 1915
The Imperial Jamboree, Boy Scouts Association, 1924
The Scouter, March, 1936
Life of an Irish Soldier, Sir Alex. Godley, G.C.B. K.C.M.G., John Murray, 1938
My Picture Gallery, 1886-1901, Viscountess Milner, 1951
The Later Cecils, Kenneth Rose, Harper Row, 1975
Baden-Powell, Tim Jeal, Hutchinson, 1985
Mowgli's Sons, Hugh Brogan, Jonathan Cape, 1987
Bateman's, The National Trust, 1996
My Boy Jack - The search for Kipling's only son, T & V Holt, Leo Cooper, 1998
Internet Sources
Sir Leander Starr Jameson
Vanity Fair portrait
A Kipling portrait for the magazine Vanity Fair, another shared accolade.
(See the opening image to this Website on 'The Aim of Scouting Milestones')

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