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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Kipling in Vermont

Rudyard Kipling, lived in Vermont during the years 1892-1896. He built his estate known as *Naulakha in Dummerston, Vermont.  It is the only house built by Kipling.  His 19th Century estate today is virtually as it was when he vacated it, although some slight modifications have occurred.  

The name of the estate was derived from a book that was co-authored by a friend that he met while attending school in England.  His name was Wolcott Belestier, an American writer,  and jointly they wrote Naulahka, A Novel of East and West, the story of a priceless Indian jewel. Wolcott died of typhoid near completion of the book, while Rudyard was traveling abroad.  Upon hearing the news, he rushed back to England.   It may be said that Rudyard was not entirely broken-hearted, as he had secretly telegraphed Wolcott's sister, Caroline Balestier, and asked him to marry her.  For Kipling, it was a bittersweet return to England.

"On 18 January 1892, Carrie Balestier (aged 29) and Rudyard Kipling (aged 26) were married in London, in the "thick of an influenza epidemic, when the undertakers had run out of black horses and the dead had to be content with brown ones." The wedding was held at All Souls Church, Langham Place. Henry James gave the bride away." -wiki

Their honeymoon began with a trip to Brattleboro, Vermont; where they visited Caroline's family, composed of her mother who was a widow,  her grandmother and her brother, Beatty.  They spent three days in the Brattleboro area, before departing to travel the world. While visiting, the Kiplings had found the peace and tranquility of the area very charming.  After being abroad for some time, their funds "failed" while in Japan, they returned to Dummerston. Here, they purchased 11 acres of property and began to build Naulakha.  During the time the homestead was being built they resided in a rented cottage, dubbed "The Bliss Cottage," near the property.

Rudyard began to write his first Jungle Book at "Bliss Cottage", and at this time their first child, Josephine, was born.  During the autumn of 1893, after hiring Henry Rutgers Marshall to design the house which resulted in a resemblance of an Indian bungalow, they moved into Naulakha. 

Kipling w/ daughter, Josephine
Born: 1892,
Died 1899: Contracted pneumonia, age 7
Kipling w/ his son, John
 After moving into Naulakha, the Kiplings' second child was born. Kipling then wrote the second of the Jungle Books, Captains Courageous, The Seven Seas, and The Day's Work.  He also completed numerous short stories and poems, such as Gunga Din and Mandalay.

Josephine, John and Elsie Kipling
In 1896, the peace was tragically shattered after an argument pertaining to his wife's desire for a formal garden where a pasture resided became the source of a very public and nasty disagreement. 

Beatty's and Kipling's land abutted one another.  Caroline wanted to plant a formal garden in the place that Beatty was using as a pasture.  In defense of his wife, Kipling made public his disdain for his wife's brother.  And, also publicly, Beatty was known as a rough and tumble drunkard, who was frequently in-debt and a tightwad.

Beatty brazenly went to see his brother-in-law about the rumors he heard that Kipling was spreading.  Kipling replied that Beatty should consult his attorney.   Beatty, angered by this response, told Kipling, "By Jesus, this is no case for lawyers. You've got to retract the Goddamned lies you've been telling about me. You've got to retract them in a week or by Christ I'll punch the Goddamned soul out of you."

Caroline never approved of her brother's raucous ways, and pressured Kipling to put an end to it. Browbeat by his wife, Kipling went to his lawyer and in two days, Beatty was arrested. 

"Kipling soon realized his mistake but it was too late; Beatty had contacted all the newspapers which Kipling had spurned. The trial, held in the Brattleboro Opera House, was blown out of proportion, shattered Kipling's privacy, and made a spectacle for the reporters, the metropolitan newspapers, and readers. Although Kipling won the trial, on a personal level he had lost." -wikipedia 

Young Rudyard Kipling
Kipling was born in Bombay, India, and it was forever endearing to him, but he could not remain there because of poor health.  When he discovered the isolation and peace of Vermont, he felt as if he had found the perfect spot for to write. 

By 1903, after the very public trial, the Kiplings had removed their personal belongings from Naulakha, and returned to England.  At that time, Kipling was quoted by friends to say, 

"There are only two places in the world where I want to live - Bombay and Brattleboro. And I can't live at either." 

15 years later, Kipling's son, John, was serving as a Second Lieutenant after being mustered into the Irish Guards.  He shipped out of  Southampton, England on August 16, 1815 to fight the Great War in Loos France.   If it were not for Rudyard pressuring the Irish Guard to allow his sons entry, the boy would have never been accepted, as he had extremely poor eyesight, which would normally excuse one from being mustered into service.  

John died the second day of battle, which involved heavy artillery use by the Germans.  It was brutal trench war. John Kipling never returned and his corpse could never be authenticated or truly identified.  It has been said that Kipling never recovered from this tragic loss.

John Kipling, center, wearing glasses

Lt. II John Kipling

His surviving daughter, Elsie, went on to marry Captain George Bambridge, in October, 1924.  Captain Bambridge had survived the Irish Guard. 

by Rudyard Kipling

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 impostors 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 worn-out 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!

*Naulahka - was the correct spelling as it originally appeared in the book by the same name.  It was incorrectly spelled Naulakha, and this is how it remains, hereafter.  Kipling never corrected the spelling.

More on Kipling's life - a very interesting read - can be found by clicking here.