I have always felt anyone who was possessed of any soldierly intent or experience required at the least a small knowledge of Kipling. Rudyard Kipling, the author and poet, wrote extensively about soldiers and soldiering during the late eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds. In my own view, he is required reading. However, with fashion and filters the authors of the past are often cast aside in modern days and we are left to encounter them only in the sad and rare promontories figuratively created through trivia questions in pub quizzes or board games.
I include therefore a poem that I recalled, quite by accident while assisting my youngest with her homework. Being a communicator in my youth and familiar with both the use and history of the devices of that trade, I respectfully inform those not similarly experienced that a ‘heliograph’ is a device, used to reflect the suns rays across great distances via Morse Code. Each flashes a ‘dash’ or ‘dot’ as required, in the AM Western transmission occurs, and in the PM the Eastern transmitter responds.
For your entertainment and edification then:
A Code of Morals – By Rudyard Kipling.
Lest you should think this story true
I merely mention I
Evolved it lately.
‘Tis a most
Now Jones had left his new-wed bride to keep his house in order,
And hide away to the Hurrum Hills above the Afghan border,
To sit on a rock with a heliograph; but ere he left he taught
His wife the working of the Code that sets the miles at naught.
And Love had made him very sage, as Nature made her fair;
So Cupid and Apollo linked , per heliograph, the pair.
At dawn, across the Hurrum Hills, he flashed her counsel wise –
At e’en, the dying sunset bore her husband’s homilies.
He warned her ‘gainst seductive youths in scarlet clad and gold,
As much as ‘gainst the blandishments paternal of the old;
But kept his gravest warnings for (hereby the ditty hangs)
That snowy-haired Lothario, Lieutenant-General Bangs.
‘Twas General Bangs, with Aide and Staff, who tittupped on the way,
When they beheld a heliograph tempestuously at play.
They thought of Border risings, and of stations sacked and burnt –
So stopped to take the message down — and this is what they learnt —
“Dash dot dot, dot, dot dash, dot dash dot” twice. The General swore.
“Was ever General Officer addressed as ‘dear’ before?
“‘My Love,’ i’ faith! ‘My Duck,’ Gadzooks! ‘My darling popsy-wop!’
“Spirit of great Lord Wolseley, who is on that mountain top?”
The artless Aide-de-camp was mute, the gilded Staff were still,
As, dumb with pent-up mirth, they booked that message from the hill;
For clear as summer lightning-flare, the husband’s warning ran: —
“Don’t dance or ride with General Bangs — a most immoral man.”
[At dawn, across the Hurrum Hills, he flashed her counsel wise –
But, howsoever Love be blind, the world at large hath eyes.]
With damnatory dot and dash he heliographed his wife
Some interesting details of the General’s private life.
The artless Aide-de-camp was mute, the shining Staff were still,
And red and ever redder grew the General’s shaven gill.
And this is what he said at last (his feelings matter not): —
“I think we’ve tapped a private line. Hi! Threes about there! Trot!”
All honour unto Bangs, for ne’er did Jones thereafter know
By word or act official who read off that helio.
But the tale is on the Frontier, and from Michni to Mooltan
They know the worthy General as “that most immoral man.”