When Love Is Over, Song of Khan Zada
Only in August my heart was aflame,
Catching the scent of your Wind-stirred hair,
Now, though you spread it to soften my sleep
Through the night, I should hardly care.
Only last August I drank that water
Because it had chanced to cool your hands;
When love is over, how little of love
Even the lover understands!
|Bijapur manuscript, 16th Century|
Simla When It Sizzled
"Only in August my heart was aflame" - the marriage market town of Simla, now pronounced Shimla, was an elite destination for The Fishing Fleet girls, who usually arrived in Bombay or Karachi in August and left the following spring as "returned empties" - the few girls who didn't marry or stay on. In this poem Hope may very well be commenting dryly on the way love affairs were often conducted in the Simla winter season of romance, when the Government and most husbands associated with it were busy elsewhere conducting the Raj's business.
Simla functioned like a sort of Las Vegas escape for British India - the parties never seemed to stop, people lost their inhibitions, and life could be expensive, very frivolous, and melodramatic Most importantly, what happened in Simla seemed to stay in Simla, without significant career consequences. Military policy discouraged soldiers from marrying before 30, so the upper-crust Calvary boys and other young British bucks worked off their passions by squiring around Simla's married women, often near their own age and quite desirable into their late 30s and 40s. The older women wielded the social power, and it was good to be on their good side. In the summer, Simla put on a fresh party dress and welcomed back all the husbands returning to conduct affairs of state for the Raj, and the other sorts of affairs as well. According to wikipedia -
This is the simmering atmosphere in which we find direct evidence that the Corys and the Kiplings mixed socially for business and pleasure. Since his retirement from the military in 1877, Hope's father Arthur Cory was part owner and also worked as chief editor of the Civil and Military Gazette, which famously brought the Kiplings' son Rudyard out to work in late 1882 . Prior to Kipling's appearance on the scene, the Corys and the Kiplings socialized. "Colonel Cory was a friend of the Kiplings and in Simla in the summer of 1881, he...(and) Alice Kipling performed together in a series of tableaux vivants." (Kipling Sahib, pg. 116) A tableaux vivant or "living picture" was an after dinner entertainment like charades, done partly for artistic enjoyment, but mostly for fun. It involved standing around and posing in elaborate "fancy dress" costumes to recreate and sometimes photograph famous scenes from art or literature. Between the costumes, the posing and the wine, hilarity was sure to ensue. MacMillan in Women of the Raj (pg.123)quotes Maud Driver as saying, "that the great dangers were 'amateur theatricals and military men on leave. It is hardly too much to say that one or the other of these dominant factors in Hill Station life is accountable for half he tragedies of India.'"
In 1863, the Viceroy of India, John Lawrence, decided to shift the summer capital of the British Raj to Shimla....During the "Hot Weather", Shimla was also the Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief, the head of the Indian Army, and many Departments of the Government...They were joined by many of the British wives and daughters of the men who remained on the plains. Together these formed Shimla Society, which according to Charles Allen, "was as close as British India ever came to having an upper crust." This may have been helped by the fact that it was very expensive, having an ideal climate and thus being desirable, as well as having limited accommodation. British soldiers, merchants and civil servants moved here each year to escape from the heat during summer...The presence of many bachelors and unattached men, as well as the many women passing the hot weather there, gave Shimla a reputation for adultery, and at least gossip about adultery: as Rudyard Kipling said in a letter cited by Allen, it had a reputation for "frivolity, gossip and intrigue".
Atkinson, 1860, Raj Dinner
"John Lockwood Kipling was a regular contributor (to the paper edited by Cory), and the British Library possesses a richly comic photograph of Colonel Cory, Mrs Kipling and others in Simla in 1881, dressed up for a performance of a tableau vivant illustrating the ballad Auld Robin Gray...The tableaux vivants were reviewed in the Pioneer Mail and Indian Weekly (31 July 1881)" (Mitchell note 14) Thus the parents of Rudyard and Adela rubbed elbows and mixed light business with pleasure, spending leisure time together in a party town of intrigue.
This has some fairly significant implications, given that there is not one word in Kipling's remaining correspondence or that of his family that mentions either the Corys or anything of their daughter Adela, born a few months before Kipling.
|Punkaha Party 1790|
Adela and probably Isabel arrived on a Fishing Fleet boat in 1881. At 16 Adela was slightly young for the marriage market, but Isabel at 18 definitely was not. The sisters would have taken the train from Bombay to Lahore and may have gone straight on up to Simla with their mother sometime that November. However, it is also possible the Cory ladies sat out that winter season and stayed in Lahore for a less brilliant round of dinners and entertainments.
In her unpublished work (here and here), adolescent Adela writes of the vivid beauties and mysteries of Venice, Rome, and Florence; of Germany and Normandy. While she may have wearied sooner than most of the frivolous lifestyle at Simla, in her first Indian years the lively hill station would have promised all the romance, intrigue and thrills a young, imaginative lady could reasonably wish for. She would have wanted to take it all in. Her poet's eye would have been fascinated by the beauties of the forest surrounds, the fabulous trappings of wealth, and the dramatically plunging cliffs which someone usually tumbled over every year.
|Late Raj era picnic|
The Cory/Kipling Timeline
The timeline below demonstrates that Adela and Ruddy not only both lived in Lahore in the same social milieu from 1882-1888 but would have most likely shared Simla summer seasons in 1883 and 1885, '86, '87, and '88. The timeline also raises some interesting possibilities in their parents lives.
- April - As reported by The Cory Society, Adela and Isabel Cory are named in the British Census as schoolgirls presumably boarding at a school of 33 pupils near London. There were several other girls "with Indian connections" also in attendance at their school.
- May-July - This is a likely time for Adela to have completed her studies on the Continent. She was inspired by her time in Europe, which is evident in her early unpublished works. (If not 1881 it would have been in 1880 - prior to that Adela at 14 may have been too young for a Continental finishing trip.) It would have made sense for her and Isabel to make their way to Italy and then take a steamer from Venice to Bombay, the same route it is known their father took back to England a year and a half later. The youngest Cory sister Vivian (Victoria Cross) remained in England.
- July - Adela and Rudyard's parents socialize together in Simla as discussed above.
- August - Adela and Isabel arrive in India, most likely Bombay, and make their way to Lahore via train. The Fishing Fleet winter season gears up in Simla, possibly their first.
- April - The marriage season.
- May/June/July- The Raj government relocates as usual to Simla, as do the British women and children of Lahore - the Cory women would have gone as well. Husbands and unmarried soldiers on leave follow if and when they can.
- Sept/Oct- Kipling leaves his Aunt Georgiana's house in Rottingdean in Sept, arrives Bombay 18 Oct and takes a train for about a week to Lahore. The last week of October he has a happy reunion with his mother and father and begins his new life in India.
- Nov- Kipling starts working at the Civil and Military Gazette (CMG). He later wrote about sitting out this first Simla winter season, as he has heavy duties early on. Arthur Cory departs suddenly from the paper and Lahore, citing ill health. Nov 14 the CMG notes Arthur Cory's "...unaccompanied departure from Bombay for Venice by P & O’s ship Surat, on 17 November (see text and note 14).
It almost appears as if Arthur Cory was waiting for Kipling to arrive so that he could take off, and when he went, he went alone. The only reason given for Cory's departure is simply "ill health" - an easy enough claim for the British in India."Announcing his departure, the paper referred to his anti-Russian views which ‘though they may have been identified by writers of the opposite school with what is termed Jingoism, have been largely confirmed by the hard logic of events.’ The young Rudyard was given his first job on the Civil and Military Gazette and started in November 1882; it seems likely that he took over at least some of Cory’s duties, but they cannot have known each other for long." (Ibid)
- Mohammad Ikram Khan, Kaushal Kumar, Studies in Modern Mass-media: Country studies in media development (New Delhi: Kanishka, 1993), 93:In 1879 Colonel A. Cory, a retired Artillery Officer of the British Army and a shareholder of The Civil and Military Gazette, Lahore, went to Karachi and, by arrangements with the proprietors of the Lahore newspaper, started a Sind edition of The Civil and Military Gazette. In 1883, however, Colonel Cory severed his connections with his Lahore partners and carried on the Karachi paper, then bi-weekly, under the name of The Sind Gazette. In 1915 the name was changed to The Daily Gazette and the paper was converted into a daily newspaper
- The family now lives in Karachi, Isabel is 21 and assists her father at running the paper - she will stay in Karachi and run it actively until 1910, and remain treasurer of the paper until her suicide in 1912. "By 1884 Cory must have returned to India, for he took over the paper’s Sind edition and turned it into a new journal, the Sind Gazette, published twice weekly in Karachi, eight hundred miles south-west of Lahore."17 Note 17 reads thusly - "Azimusshan Haider, History of Karachi 1839-1900 (Karachi: the author, 1974), 38, 76 http://victorianfictionresearchguides.org/victoria-cross/#footnote_16_2570 sourced from Charlotte Mitchell's excellent study on Victoria Cross.
- July - Trix and Alice Kipling spend this one summer in Dalhousie (The Long Recessional, David Gilmour) which is considered "the least fashionable and the least expensive" of all the hill stations. (Kipling Sahib, pg. 160). Alice for some reason seems to be in exile from Simla - avoiding the newly returned Arthur Cory and wife Fanny? or someone else? This is the summer Kipling publishes his collection Echoes, with very direct verses chiding matrons of Simla about their infidelity and hypocrisy (discussed further below).
- July - Hope's future husband Malcolm Nicolson's army unit Jacob's Rifles were stationed in Karachi starting at this time, making it possible for them to meet. From Ed Marx: "The National Library of Scotland has a partial set online, in which you can see his regiment (the 30th Bombay, aka "Jacob's Rifles") listed as being headquartered at Karachi (Kurrachee) in the editions for July 1, 1884, Dec. 30, 1884, and 31 Dec. 1888. Here's a link to the relevant page in the Dec. 1884 edition: digital.nls.uk/british-military-lists/archive/103749150"
- Adela and Isabel would spend at least every summer in Simla and possibly some winter seasons as well, until Adela and Malcolm marry. Kipling also attends Simla every summer.
- 1887 - Kipling moves from Lahore to Allahabad to work at the Pioneer Newspaper. He is 22 and already balding.
- 1888 - Moving to Allahabad does not keep Kipling from going to Simla in the hot season, where he participates in a theatrical production at The Gaity Theater. He also falls in love hard, and at some point hopes to or actually quietlly proposes marriage, which is rejected, according to Ted Hill, his confident. She wrote, "About RK's love affair, which he got bravely over. The girl was not worthy - she wouldn't marry such an "ineligible". (Rudyard Kipling, Andrew Lycett)
'For weeks he sent a female friend bulletins of his unrequited love for a woman he referred to as "My Lady". (The Long Recessional, David Gilmour).
"Shortly after returning to Lahore he started telling Ted Hill about a mysterious woman he referred to vaguely as 'My Lady'. The extravagant terms in which he spoke of this person have led some commentators to suggest that she was either a figment of his imagination or else a vehicle for stating his affections for Ted Hill herself. The latter idea is unlikely since he switches distinctly in his letters from discussing his 'Lady' to addressing questions directly to Ted. The only satisfying solution to this mystery is the most obvious. There really was a young woman, whose name is unknown, with whom Rudyard was besotted. Mrs. Hill herself stated as much in a note she later appended to one of his letters, 'About RK's love affair which he got bravely over.' " (Rudyard Kipling, Andrew Lycett)
- Jan/Feb - If Adela Cory and Malcolm Nicolson had a "whirlwind romance" just before their marriage, as stated by the Cory Society website, this would have been the time they met.
- March 9 - Kipling quits India and never lives there again. He meets and proposes to Carrie Taylor, then abruptly drops the engagement, ruining his long friendship with her sister. One possible way to view Kipling's behavior is as that of an upset man on the rebound.
- April 23 - Adela "Violet" Cory and Malcolm Nicolson are married at the registry office in Karachi, after about a three month courtship,
- In Barrack Room Ballads, Kipling publishes the well known "Ladies" with the line, "What does the Colonel's Lady think? Nobody never knows." Coincidentally, Laurence Hope was later known to be "The Colonel's Lady" in the Somerset Maugham short story of that title.
- In William Watson & Co's A Guide to Karachi the list of members of the Karachi Gymkhana - an important social hub for Brits in the city- lists only Colonel and a Miss Cory (i.e., Isabel; Adela having married). (Mitchell, note 24)
|MF Hussain, Modern Indian artist|
- 1895 -
- In her very well researched 2002 biography of Victoria Cross, to which this entire article is deeply indebted, Charlotte Mitchell adds this interesting speculation regarding a society column mention of Vivian Cory in 1895 -
"...She was led to adopt her nom deplume (Victoria Cross) because her initials are V.C., and also by the fact that she is a descendant of a V.C. Roberts Brothers will publish shortly a novel by her, entitled A Woman Who Did Not, in the Keynotes Series." And:
"No relation of either the Corys or the Griffins seems to have won a Victoria Cross. It is not difficult to believe that Vivian could have embroidered the facts, but it is just conceivable that she believed herself to be the offspring of an affair between her mother and a V.C. (Victoria Cross medal recipient) of whom there were certainly plenty in India in 1867. The heroine of (her novel) The Night of Temptation is the youngest of three sisters and the result of an extramarital affair: ‘the child of love and passion, as the others were of distaste and dislike’." (see Note 26)Did the Cory marriage eventually become a situation of "distaste and dislike" with one or both of them involved in affairs? This could explain why Fanny Cory seems to disappear from history for awhile and from India altogether.
Victoria Cross (Vivian) never seems to surface in India and probably never lived there permanently. She did come as a visitor, traveling to India for eldest sister Isabel's wedding in 1892, according to Mitchell, "with only four days to spare" (Note 25). She seems to have doted on her mother Fanny, to the point of taking up her mother's maiden name "Griffin" as her own last name as she matured in Britain into a bestselling novelist of racy stories that usually involved a heroine overturning the patriarchy in some way. It may be that with some early success in The Yellow Book and with a clear goal of being a novelist, Vivien never made the move to male dominated, patriarchal India because it was unappealing to her and would have also been a career killer.
All three of the Cory sisters became professional writers or editors during a time when that was unusual. Two out of the three wrote highly unconventional material that flouted the sexual biases of their era, and two out of three of the sisters took their own lives. The mother of this family must herself have been quite an unusual duck for a Victorian, a definite freethinker and proto-feminist, with daughters who were encouraged to think and to express themselves, unlike ninety-nine percent of the young women in India who were told specifically and repeatedly, "Don't be clever - men don't like clever girls." (see Ann DeCourcy's history, "The Fishing Fleet") With that profile, it does not seem untoward to consider that strong minded Fanny Cory might have experimented with one or more extra-marital affairs even prior to her times in Simla, a place that practically condoned such activity.
|D'Oyly, House Party in India|
In Kipling Sahib (Pg.166) Allen writes,
"...it is hard to believe that Alice in particular could have been anything but dismayed by her son's public harping about a wife who escapes to the hills to cheat on her "little husband" in the plains. Could Ruddy have been trying to make a point? At least one biographer has suggested that both Ruddy's parents had eyes for the opposite sex, but evidence of actual impropriety is scant."
Mrs. Alice Kipling was the vivacious eldest of a quartet of sisters who all found their way into high society and made notable marriages. She thrived in the atmosphere of Simla, which granted more status to accomplished women in their 40s and 50s than to the younger Misses trying to find their footing socially. Alice's own lovely daughter "Trix" co-wrote the poem "My Rival" with her brother Rudyard about being eclipsed in the eyes of men by a more popular older woman. Compared to her mother, unattached Trix was rarely squired or asked to dance, and she called Simla "Looking Glass World". (Kipling Sahib)
Did The Corys Part Ways?
We have taken a long journey to squarely face some questions - Was Arthur Cory's abrupt departure for Britain a reaction to some kind of overheated summertime scenario in Simla that finally surfaced? An affair between players in the tableau vivants in the Simla season of 1881 could have lead to eventual marital discord. Perhaps with the arrival of his young daughters he or Fanny thought it best to not to dally, but someone broke their word, precipitating a necessary cooling off period requiring distance and time. This could explain Arthur Cory's sudden departure by himself, Alice Kipling's exile for a season to Dalhousie upon his return, his immediate move of the daughters to Karachi and Fanny's absence from the social club there. It is interesting that the year Arthur Cory returned and moved out of Lahore was the same and only year that the Kiplings did not attend their usual parties and friends at Simla. It could all be coincidence, or it could be the tracings of some kind of hot button event. Given the reputation of Simla society, hanky-panky between couples that were friendly can never be completely ruled out. Most importantly of all, it could in part explain why the Corys, including Adela, were never mentioned in any of the Kipling family correspondence.
At any rate, Adela's mother left no trace on Karachi, even though her eldest daughter lived on there until her death in 1912. (Isabel acted as treasured of the Sind Gazette until her suicide, but retired from active work as editor in 1910 according to Ed Marx.) With Fanny's youngest girl living among a fast set in London, it may have seemed like a good idea to chaperone her and enjoy her affections along with the wealth of Fanny's brother sooner than later. Isabel seems to have been more her father's daughter, and if there were any "distaste and dislike" she would've sided with him, helping him with his business and serving as his hostess, leaving her mother free to travel.
Shreds of Evidence or Shredding Of Evidence?
|Burning Love Letters|
Did these future writers, who would both eventually claim mass international audiences, never even notice each other, as if being highly strung, imaginative teenagers of the opposite sex made them invisible to one another? I'd say the opposite would be more likely. Or did they perhaps recognize the intelligence and deadpan wit of one of their own in each other, and talk about their favorite poets, share and compare verses, argue about ideas? Could they ever have shared a kiss, or only some instantaneous and great mutual disdain?
The answers may never be factually established. If something of these matters were ever written down, it was either encoded or destroyed. There were so many available playmates at Simla to both young and old that anyone could explore all kinds of possibilities, including crossing established color and class barriers to at least some degree. It seems likely that a young Victoria Cross visited India and came back with the idea for Anna Lombard, possibly based on the outre desires of her older sister Adela, who wrote about the beauty of certain Indian youths. Many of Kipling's biographers find evidence that he contracted a venereal disease once, visited Indian prostitutes, and may have become connected to one who he fictionalized as "Lalun, The Pearl".
And maybe, just maybe, at one point Adela and Ruddy, two future lights of British India, sitting on a Lahore hillside or in a Simla garden, laughed at the ridiculous antics of their mixed-up elders like teenagers do, criticized harshly some of each other's verses, and yet were very charmed by some others. Perhaps they eventually shared a quick searching kiss which did little for either of them, but sealed their casual acquaintanceship into a casual friendship over some years in the way of those that grow up in the same place at the same time.
- "Then, swift as a swallow heading south,
- I kissed your mouth!"
-The Teak Firest, LH
The Kipling and Cory adults were for a time entwined at the decadent height of the British Raj and the lives of their two most brilliant children must have been as well, at least to some degree. Did Ruddy and Adela erase all traces of a quiet crush passed back and forth between them, only to realize they were adrift in a world built on complicated adult wish fulfillment that allowed them both to follow their own developing desires and talents in other, far more interesting and inspiring directions?
- "When love is over how little of love,
- Even the lover understands!"
- I'd like to think so, yes.
- "When Love Is Over" is recorded in the third section of India's Love Lyrics and may be listened to here. This is a sneak preview, and will not be available on Librivox until the entire book has been recorded.