Watches Of The Night Meaning

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The phrase ‘watches of the night’
has been used since at least the Book of Mishna: “watches of the night”: the night-time; watch originally each of the three or four periods of time, during which a watch or guard was kept, into which the night was divided past the Jews and Romans”.[1]
The phrase occurs several places in the Old Testament (Psalm
63:6; 119:148;
2:19) and it is suggested in the New Attestation (Gospel of Marking

This has also been used in several works of literature every bit a cliché for what is too called ‘the wee small-scale hours’, or ‘the early on morning’, often with connotations of blackness (both of nighttime and of the spirits) and depression (e. chiliad. Longfellow wrote in
The Cantankerous of Snowfall
(1879) “In the long, sleepless watches of the night”). Kipling uses this, along with a pun on the word ‘watches’: the story turns on two identical timepieces.

Watches of the Dark” is a short story past Rudyard Kipling. It was kickoff published in the
Ceremonious and Armed services Gazette
on March 25, 1887; in book form, get-go in the first Indian edition of
Plain Tales from the Hills
in 1888; and in the many subsequent editions of that collection. It is one of the “Tales” which deals with the tense, enclosed guild of the British in Bharat, and the levels of gossip and malice that could be engendered therein. “Watches of the Night,” like many of Kipling’south works, has a punning, allusive title. Both the Colonel, commanding the regiment, and a Subaltern in the Regiment, Platte, a poor man, own Waterbury watches. (These are fox or Pocket watches, non wrist watches: Each usually hangs from a concatenation.) The Waterbury (from the town of Waterbury, Connecticut is a mass-produced and not specially prestigious brand. The Colonel, who affects to exist “a horsey man” (simply is not) wears his sentinel, not on a concatenation, but on a leather strap fabricated from the lip-strap of a horse’due south harness; Platte wears his from a leather guard, presumably considering he can afford no better. 1 night the two men modify – in a bustle – at the Gild, and, not unnaturally, take each other’s watch. They continue their split means. Later that night, as Platte returns dwelling house, his horse rears and upsets his cart, throwing him to the ground outside Mrs Larkyn’southward house, where his picket falls loose. The Colonel loses his watch, which slips on to the floor – where a native bearer finds it (and keeps information technology). Going abode in a hired carriage, the Colonel finds the driver drunk, and returns late. His wife, who is religious (and, nosotros have been told “manufactured the Station scandal”), is disinclined to believe him.

In the morning, Mrs Larkyn, who has been a victim of the Colonel’s married woman scandal-mongering, finds the watch that Platte has dropped, and shows it to him. He affects to believe it is “…disgusting! Shocking onetime homo!”. They send the Colonel’s watch (which is the one Platte had been wearing) to the Colonel’s wife. She attacks the Colonel, existence wholly convinced of Original Sin – and begins to realize the harm and pain that unfounded suspicion can cause – and has caused her victims.

That is really the moral of the story. “The mistrust and the tragedy of information technology,” says Kipling, “are killing the Colonel’due south Wife, and are making the Colonel wretched.

All quotations in this article have been taken from the
Uniform Edition
Plain Tales from the Hills
published by Macmillan & Co., Limited in London in 1899. The text is that of the 3rd edition (1890), and the author of the article has used his own re-create of the 1923 reprint. Farther comment, including folio-by-page notes, can be found on the Kipling Guild’s website, at



  1. ^

    The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Oxford University Press. Jan 2006. ISBN978-0-xix-860981-0.