Scraps from my Sabretasche.
Being Personal Adventures while in the 14th (King's Light) Dragoons.London: W. H. Allen & Co., 1882 Stock Code: 140276
NotesFirst edition of this scarce and colourful memoir, "full of material that would sound familiar to any reader of Kipling's stories set in India" and teeming with detail, this copy skilfully restored in the attractive original cloth.
Stent's book includes a description of "an elephant who plays jokes on his keeper, to Stent's dressing up as a woman so that he can visit his lover in a woman's hospital, to several paragraphs of praise for the regimental water carriers At one point Stent is menaced by a thousand gibbering monkeys. He and his comrades kill "Rebels" without mercy, with the explanation that their ferocity is justified by the rebels' having cold-bloodedly killed English women and children" (Havholm, p. 39). Havholm speculates that one contemporary review may have been written by Kipling, "because of its location, brevity, and its naiveté".
The son of a Kent fruiterer and market gardener, George Carter Stent (1833-1884) served with the 14th (King's Light) Dragoons but made his name in China, where he joined the Chinese imperial maritime customs service. His natural aptitude for the language led to the publication in 1871 of his Chinese and English vocabulary, which became a standard work. Scraps from my Sabretasche opens with a brief account of life in England before the regiment's departure for Persia and India, the second half of his narrative dealing with the Central India Campaign during the Mutiny. Stent clearly enjoyed campaigning and does not stint in giving details of the atrocities committed by both sides. His book remains sadly memorable for the oft-cited eyewitness accounts of the execution of Indian rebels, sometimes by his own hand ("this was capital sport", p. 199) but also by "blowing from a gun", a method of execution in which a prisoner was tied to the muzzle of an artillery piece which was then fired (see pp. 170-71).
Library Hub locates copies at just four British and Irish institutional libraries (British Library, Aberdeen, Cambridge, Scotland), WorldCat adding another eight (all in the US).
Octavo. Original dark red fine oblique-grain cloth, gilt lettered spine with wraparound ornamental band in black, front cover with gilt motif of crossed carbines and sabre, drab brown-coated endpapers.
Binding skilfully refurbished, extremities of spine and corners consolidated, gilt retouched, endpapers renewed to style, title page and a few leaves lightly soiled, old brown wax stain to half a dozen leaves. A very good copy, with the publisher's 48-page catalogue at the end (dated October 1882).
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