It says something about England, that they do not revere Rudyard Kipling. His works are not studied in school, and few know his name or connect to famous works or words. Many sayings were first written by him, but few know the author or sources. I was surprised to learn that he has 91/2 pages of quotes in Barlett’s Familiar quotations, outdone only by Shakespeare and the Bible. One writer compared his treatment in England to Soviet erasing of unwanted personages. He paid the price for being patriotic and popular when the Empire was fading.
I have always admired Kipling’s work and often spouted his sayings. I recall the joy of finding a musty copy of his biography in the basement of my parent’s house. Not only was his writing interesting, so was his life. It was not easy, but perhaps that is what stamped his writing.
Below are a few of the more well-known sayings, to help spread a word that the English are foolish enough to suppress.
The female of the species is more deadly than the male.
A woman is only a woman but a good cigar is a smoke. (Never having smoked, I don’t get this, but have heard it often.)
Everyone is more or less mad on one point.
The backbone of the Army is the non-commissioned man.
Lest we forget. (Warning against the use of national power, which no American learned...or ignoring great authors.)
Meddling with another man’s folly is always thankless work.
Down to Gehenna or up to the throne, he travels fastest who travels alone. (Ever travel with a family?)
She was as immutable as the hills but not quite so green.
A woman’s guess is much more accurate than a man’s certainty.
The silliest woman can manage a clever man, but it needs a very clever woman to manage a fool.
More men are killed from overwork than the importance of the world justifies.
What should they know of England who only England know? (Works for any country.)
For the colonel’s lady and Judy O’Grady are sisters under the skin. (I have met many “simple” people, that I much preferred many members of “better” society.)
Oh East is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet.
The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it. (He lived in India!)