0

'if a man has his private spite laid up against you, the Unions give him his excuse for workin' it off.'

'Well I know it,'said Hal.

'They never let you go, them spiteful ones. I knowed a plasterer in Eighteen hundred Sixty-one--C'if a man has his private spite laid up against you, the Unions give him his excuse for workin' it off.'

'Well I know it,'said Hal.

'They never let you go, them spiteful ones. I knowed a plasterer in Eighteen hundred Sixty-one--down to the wells. He was a Frenchy--a bad enemy he was.'

This is from "Rewards and Fairies" The Wrong Thing by Kipling.

I do not understand what "down to the wells" means.

I would be glad if somebody could explain this to me.

  • 2
    You have omitted a critical component here: "Wells" should be capitalized. It is a place name. The plasterer was from a place called "the Wells." It is usually wiser to provide a link to the source, although in this case, many of the online sources also lack a capital "W." This is because the book is in the public domain (anyone publish it) and over the years Kipling's work has been re-entered and "OCRed" so frequently that many important details (like this captilization) have disappeared and other errors have been introduced. – P. E. Dant Aug 11 '16 at 0:22
  • It's probably Tunbridge Wells, just thirteen miles from Kipling's home where Puck of Pook's Hill and Rewards and Fairies are set. – StoneyB Aug 11 '16 at 0:48
  • I would not fault @Hiroshi for the version that he/she posted. It is not his/her fault that many online versions have wells. I did, however, downvote this question because it did not include a link to the source. I asked Hiroshi to do this in his last question about this same story. A link should be included every time. – Alan Carmack Aug 11 '16 at 0:52
  • A working link with Wells: link. – Alan Carmack Aug 11 '16 at 1:09
  • @AlanCarmack Not a whit of "fault" is ascribed to the OP in my comment! The fault is ascribed clearly to the clowns who make an industry of mangling public domain works. – P. E. Dant Aug 11 '16 at 1:26
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In this passage from Rudyard Kipling's 1909 short story The Wrong Thing, the speaker in the dialogue tells about a French plasterer whom he knew in 1861 at a location called the Wells. This may refer to Tunbridge Wells, an English town located near Kipling's own residence.

This usage is redolent of what Kipling perceived as the idiom of a working-class British speaker of his era. In English, we often speak to this day of going down to London, and the idiom here is of the same lineage.

Down to the Wells here means at a place called "the Wells."

  • Thank you so much for many advice and answers. I will show the link to the text each time. The book I have (The Centenary edition 1982), well is not capital."down to the well. But the meaning of this sentence is impossible to understand for a foreigner. Thank you so much again! – Hiroshi Inagaki Aug 11 '16 at 8:09
  • I don't doubt this usage. I am unfamiliar with it, and wonder if you have any examples of it from other sources, of anything down to meaning at. – Alan Carmack Aug 11 '16 at 18:10
  • I can scare some up. It's cognate with things like "I have a friend over to Brighton." – P. E. Dant Aug 11 '16 at 18:22

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