Lord Emsworth and Others
P G Wodehouse
Literary and Cultural References
This is part of an on-going effort by the members of the Blandings Yahoo! Group to document references, allusions, quotations, etc in the works of P G Wodehouse.
Carry on Jeeves was originally annotated by Mark Hodson (aka The Efficient Baxter). They have been reformatted somewhat, but credit goes to Mark for his original efforts, even while we bear the blame for errors of fact or interpretation.
You can spend many happy hours sorting out the bibliography here. Both Lord Emsworth and Others (Herbert Jenkins, UK, March 1937) and The Crime Wave at Blandings (Doubleday Doran, US, June 1937) were evidently conceived as vehicles for what is generally agreed to be one of Wodehouse's best and funniest stories, the extended short story "The Crime Wave at Blandings." However, the remainder of their contents seem to have been cobbled together from whatever Wodehouse material their respective publishers hadn't used yet. The result, at least in the UK edition, is an unusually broad selection: what other volume brings you Blandings, Mr Mulliner, Freddie Widgeon of the Drones, Ukridge, and the Oldest Member between the same covers? The US edition contains a further extended short story, the shortened US version of Doctor Sally, which of course started life as Good Morning, Bill, an adaptation of a Hungarian play by Ladislaus Fodor.
Lord Emsworth and Others only shares three stories with The Crime Wave at Blandings. The three golf stories in Lord Emsworth and Others had appeared in the US edition of Young Men in Spats (April 1936); the three Ukridge stories would not appear in book form in the US until Eggs, Beans & Crumpets (1940). Conversely, the US version contains one story that had been in the British but not the American version of Young Men in Spats, and two that were to appear in the British, but not the American, version of Eggs, Beans & Crumpets. There may well have been a good reason for all this, but if so it has been lost in the mists of publishing history...
UK version: Lord Emsworth and Others
US version: Crime Wave at Blandings
The Medicine Girl
Romance at Droitgate Spa
All's Well with Bingo
The Crime Wave at Blandings (pp 9 to 79)
This story first appeared in two parts in the Saturday Evening Post in October 1936. It appeared in book form a year later in Lord Emsworth and Others (US title: The Crime Wave at Blandings). Page references are to the UK 1st edition, where the story runs from pp 9 to 79
well-bred bees ... gentlemanly birds (p 9)
Before we even get to the end of the first paragraph, Wodehouse has subverted the narrative convention by which bees and birds are used as a marker of idyllic rural life (cf. Tennyson's Princess: "the murmuring of innumerable bees...").
Shropshire (p 9)
The action of this story takes place after Leave it to Psmith (1923/24), Summer Lightning (1929) and Heavy Weather (1933), so Blandings is safely established as being in Shropshire.
crime wave (p 9)
The OED records a Times headline from 1920 as the first use of this phrase.
Cornflower blue (p 9)
Typically a rich, blue colour, characteristic of the flower Centaurea Cyanus (blue bottle, bachelors' button). The term has been used in the fashion world since the early 20th century. In computing, the RGB code #6396FC is called "light cornflower blue".
The man with the missing toe (p 10)
Seems to be fictitious. Richard Burgin and JM Alonso's Man with missing parts only appeared in 1973. Beach inherits Freddie Threepwood's thriller collection later in the saga.
airgun (p 10)
An airgun (in this case it is probably an air rifle that is referred to) fires a projectile (usually a small metal pellet or dart) by the release of compressed air. Air rifles with muzzle energy less than 12 ft lbs (16 J) can be used without a permit in the UK, provided that they are used on private land and with the landowner's permission, and that young people under 14 are supervised by adults. In the past there were even fewer restrictions, and air guns were commonly given to children as (expensive) toys.
Jane, his Lordship's niece (p 10)
Jane is one of six nieces of Lord Emsworth's who appear in the canon in similar circumstances. The others are Prudence (who marries Bill Lister), Gertrude (marries the Revd. Beefy Bingham), Veronica Wedge (Tipton Plimsoll), Angela (James Belford) and Millicent (Hugo Carmody). cf. the Threepwood family tree in Sunset at Blandings.
looking Scotch (p 10)
This adjective was formerly used interchangeably with Scots and Scottish; in the 20th century its meaning is more usually limited to certain particular senses, especially Scotch whisky. Wodehouse is perhaps being a little provocative when he uses it here.
Hollywood yes-men (p 10)
Wodehouse had been in Hollywood in 1930-1931. Yes-men appear in some of the Mulliner stories in Blandings Castle and Elsewhere.
New Deal (p 11)
The New Deal was a programme of economic and social reforms brought in by US president Franklin D. Roosevelt between 1933 and 1939 to help the United States recover from the depression of the 1930s. Roosevelt's measures aroused a lot of opposition, in particular from conservative politicians. We are to assume that Lord Emsworth is similarly conservative in his gardening policy.
a bit of snailing (p 11)
The use of snailing in a gardening context to mean keeping free from snails goes back to the 17th century, but is very unusual. This may well be an independent reinvention of the term - it sounds as though Wodehouse wants to give it more of an incongruously sporting sense of snail-hunting (cf. a bit of fishing).
American named Jevons (p 12)
cf. Leave it to Psmith. Jevons had been Baxters employer before he first came to work for Lord Emsworth.
Garden of Eden ... snake (p 12)
Cf. Genesis, Ch.3. The Devil takes the form of a snake to tempt Eve. In the Authorised Version, the word Serpent rather than Snake is used.
stuck pig (p 13)
A stuck pig is one that has been stabbed (by a butcher). The proverbial expression to stare like a stuck pig goes back at least to the 18th century, and may come originally from Aesop.
insulating and confining a disease germ (p 14)
Wodehouse (or Emsworth) seems to have only a rather vague sense of what microbiologists actually do. Preventing a disease by capturing the relevant bacteria and locking them up in a safe place does not sound like a very feasible strategy! Bacteria are usually isolated to exclude other influences for the purposes of research, not to protect the public.
Your heir, Bosham (p 14)
Viscount Bosham appears in person in Leave it to Psmith.
galumphing (p 15)
The word was invented by Lewis Carroll. It usually means something like charging around noisily.
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
[Carroll, Lewis (C.L. Dodgson) Jabberwocky (1827) ]
Senior Conservative Club (p 16)
Murphy identifies this as the Constitutional Club in Northumberland Avenue, London.
[Murphy, N. T. P., In Search of Blandings (1986) ]
thin end of the wedge (p 16)
This seems to be a mid-Victorian cliché, first appearing in print around 1850 - Emsworth might equally well have heard it from his father, or read it in Trollope (who also uses small end... and little end...).
vultures gnawing at his bosom (p 16)
This does not seem to be an exact quotation, but is presumably a reference to Prometheus, who in Greek mythology was chained to a rock with a vulture gnawing at his liver as a punishment for stealing fire from the gods.
Why the dooce...? (p 16)
Dooce or deuce meaning plague or mischief (later sometimes as a euphemism for the Devil) seems to have come into English in the 17th century from Dutch or Low German. The OED maintains that this is not the same word as deuce meaning the two at dice, cards, etc., which came in much earlier from Old French.
Leighs in Devonshire (p 20)
Leigh is a very common British surname.
Devon is a county in the south-west of England ('Devon' and 'Devonshire' are used almost interchangeably), about 200km away from Shropshire.
tweed coat and flannel knickerbockers (p 21)
Tweed is a hard-wearing woolen material, traditionally woven in Scotland (especially on the island of Harris). The term flannel is used for a range of softer, open woolen materials, originally made in Wales. Knickerbockers in this context are knee-breeches. Janes young man is wearing what a gentleman of Wodehouses generation would wear for a walk in the country (several photos of Wodehouse from the 20s and 30s show him dressed like this).
land-agent (p 21)
In this context, an estate manager
Simmons (p 21)
A pig girl called Monica Simmons appears in the later Blandings stories, eventually to marry Lord Emsworths nephew Wilfred; there is a Constable Simms in The Girl in Blue
his sister Charlotte (p 23)
Lord Emsworth is famously overloaded with sisters: there are eleven in all (including two who are mentioned for the first time in Sunset at Blandings). This seems to be the only mention of Charlotte in the canon.
[Garrison, Daniel H., Whos Who in Wodehouse (1991) ]
he's your brother or cousin or something (p 25)
George is the son of Janes first cousin, Bosham. He is thus a second cousin. There has been no prohibition on cousin marriage in Britain since the Reformation (in contrast to some parts of the US), and marriages between first cousins were not uncommon in the British aristocracy, so Lord Emsworth is being more than usually vague here. He is quite right about George being too young to marry, of course.
George Abercrombie (p 25)
Abercrombie is the name of a district of Fife, Scotland, near St Monans. The current chiefs of clan Abercrombie are the descendants of Sir Alexander Abercromby of Birkenbog in Banffshire. Names in Aber- (beyond) are typically Scots or Welsh. It is thus a slightly surprising name for one of the oldest families in Devonshire (p26). In A Pelican at Blandings a Sir Abercrombie Fitch is mentioned (as Glossops locum), clearly a reference to the famous New York store Abercrombie and Fitch: presumably this is also where George gets his name from.
Conquest (p 26)
The Norman conquest of 1066. Again, it is odd that someone with a Scottish surname should have come over with William the Conqueror.
Paynim (p 26)
Archaic term for paganism or pagans - sometimes used in the Middle Ages (as here) to mean followers of non-Christian faiths, particularly Islam.
Wimbledon (p 26)
Southern suburb of London. Jane presumably refers to the tennis club there, which holds an annual tournament.
There's a song of that name... (p 27)
The song appeared in 1916. The lyrics to Nat Ayers tune are by Clifford Grey (1887-1941) who later worked with Wodehouse and Bolton on Sally. Apart from being a lyricist, Grey (using an assumed name to conceal the fact that he was a British citizen) also won two gold medals as a member of the US Olympic bobsleigh team.
If You Were The Only Girl In The World,
And I were the only boy,
Nothing else would matter in the world today,
We could go on loving in the same old way.
A Garden of Eden just made for two,
With nothing to mar our joy—
I would say such wonderful things to you,
There would be such wonderful things to do,
If You Were The Only Girl In The World
and I were the only boy.
[Grey, Clifford (1887-1941) If You Were The Only Girl In The World ]
tap-room (p 28)
The public bar, i.e. the room in a pub where draught beer is served, which would be patronised mostly by working-class men.
smoking concert (p 28)
A concert where smoking was allowed, thus intended for men only. Normally means an entertainment organised by a mens group (college, sports club, or simply a group of workmates), where members of the group would take turns to get up and sing.
Aristotle (p 32)
Greek philosopher, 384-322 BCE. Student of Plato in Athens, later tutor to Alexander the Great in Macedonia. Wrote extensively on many aspects of philosophy and natural science.
Mapleton (p 34)
In Very Good, Jeeves there is a headmistress called Miss Mapleton.
G-men (p 42)
This term was first used for members of G Division of the Dublin Police (the political branch) during and after the First World War. It later came to refer to agents of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. It isn't clear whether the one led to the other.
leather-jackets (p 43)
Popular name for cranefly larvae, which can cause damage to turf by eating the roots.
flower pots (p 44)
See Leave it to Psmith
Piccadilly Circus (p 48)
Busy road junction in the West End of London.
Chicago business man of the modern school (p 49)
Gangster. Presumably the blameless Mr Jevons is not of the modern school?
pantaloon (p 53)
A weak and foolish old man - from the name of the character in Italian commedia dellArte.
asphasia (p 54)
A misprint in the first edition: should read aphasia, the medical term for a loss of the ability to use spoken language.
high tenor voice (p 54)
Wodehouse is not usually given to musical imagery, but we have already been told (p29) that Lady Constance is a soprano, George a treble, and Baxter a throaty baritone.
what a tangled web we weave (p 58)
Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!
[Scott, Sir Walter (1771-1832) Marmion ]
Gloire de Dijon (p 59)
A tea-noisette rose (Jacotot, 1853), popular with English gardeners in the 19th century. Yellow flowers, blooms early in the season.
lost the blue bird (p 59)
The association of the blue bird with elusive happiness comes from Maeterlinck's play LOiseau bleu (translated into English in 1909).
weighed sixteen stone in the buff (p 66)
224 lb or 102 kg
Buff can mean military uniform, but more usually, as here, it is a colloquial expression for nudity.
distrait (p 69)
French: distracted, troubled
...inundating countrysides while thousands flee (p 70)
Wodehouse never tired of sneaking newspaper headline clichés into normal text.
Nature had blown the All Clear (p 79)
All clear seems to have originated as a nautical expression indicating that a particular evolution had been completed properly; in the First World War it was used to describe the signal indicating that danger from an air raid had passed, which would be blown on a bugle or similar means. The OED lists Wodehouse as the first to use it in a metaphorical sense, in The Girl on the Boat.
Buried Treasure (pp 80 to 107)
This story (original US title: Hidden Treasure) appeared in This Week in the US and The Strand in the UK, in September 1936. It appeared in book form in Crime Wave at Blandings (US) and Lord Emsworth and Others (UK). Page references are to the first edition of the latter, where the story runs from pp. 80-107.
The situation in Germany (p 80)
Buried Treasure first appeared in September 1936, although the situation in Germany might have been an equally legitimate topic for discussion at any time in the thirties. Hitler had remilitarised the Rheinland on the 7th of March and was putting his armed forces on a war footing; the civil rights of Jews had been taken away a year before, and readers of this story would have seen pictures of the Nürnberg rally in their newspapers the same week.
moustache (p 80)
This story is often considered the most complete expression of Wodehouse's lifelong obsession with facial hair.
Brancepeth (p 81)
Brancepeth is a village in County Durham, with a noted castle (now a golf club). It was the birthplace of Frederick William Sanderson, the famous headmaster of Oundle School, who may well have taught Wodehouse's elder brother as physics master at Dulwich before 1892.
Lord Bromborough of Rumpling Hall (p 81)
Bromborough is on the Wirral penninsula, near Liverpool. Rumpling seems to be fictitious.
Potter is a common enough name (Mervyn Potter in Barmy in Wonderland, Constable Potter in Uncle Dynamite, Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright), but Wapleigh also seems to be fictitious without an obvious source.
Wodehouse had extensive family connections in Norfolk, and stayed at Hunstanton Hall a number of times.
Joyeuse (p 82)
This is also the name of Lord Ickenhams great bath sponge. The most likely origin for the name is Charlemagne's famous sword Joyeuse.
Love in Idleness (p 82)
This is another name for the poppy. Perhaps there is a joke here about the moustache being dyed?
Yet marked I where the bolt of Cupid fell.
It fell upon a little Western flower,
Before, milk-white, now purple with loves wound;
The maidens call it Love-in-idleness."
[Shakespeare, William (1564-1616) Midsummer Nights Dream, ii. 2. ]
bestowing names upon their favourite swords (p 82)
Brewer gives a comprehensive list of such famous swords (s.v. SWORD-MAKERS). Note that both Joyeuse and Flamberge were said to have been made by Galas, each taking three years. Considering that Siegfried only takes about ten minutes to forge Nothung (Wagner, Siegfried, Act II) this seems quite generous.
(said Mr Mulliner) (p 82)
The US edition has (since Mrs Mulliner) here, pointlessly giving away the ending of the story. Tony Ring and Geoffrey Jaggard (Wodehouse at the Angler's Rest) suggest that this comes from a misprint in the text of the story as published in The Strand, corrected by Herbert Jenkins in the UK edition.
Longfellow's Evangeline (p 84)
A deservedly forgotten narrative poem, many would argue.
THIS is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.
[Longfellow Evangeline 1-6]
Liverpool Street (p 84)
London terminus of the former Great Eastern Railway, serving most of East Anglia. The stations location in the heart of the City of London led to its complete rebuilding in the 1990s - there is little if anything of the original station left visible today.
zareba (p 84)
A fortification or an enclosure for cattle, made out of thorn bushes (from Sudan).
Mr Walkinshaw (p 85)
Presumably he of the Supreme Ointment (see Something Fresh and The Inimitable Jeeves).
Potter's Potted Table Delicacies (p 90)
The term 'potted' was used for food products preserved in a glass or ceramic jar: a process now largely replaced by canning. Some processed meat products sold in cans are still marketed as 'potted meat,' especially in the USA. The alliteration is reminiscent of the advertisement into which Leopold Bloom reads a sexual joke in Joyce's Ulysses (published 1922, first US edition 1933) - Wodehouse might have had this in mind, although there's no evidence that he had read Ulysses.
What is home without
Plumtree's Potted Meat?
With it an abode of bliss.
[Joyce, James Ulysses Ch.5]
Walt Disney (p 90)
Walter Elias Disney (1901-1966) made his first animated cartoons in Kansas City after serving with the Red Cross in the First World War. He moved to Hollywood in 1923 to set up a production company with his brother Roy O. Disney. The character Mickey Mouse was created in 1928, first appearing in Steamboat Willy. Disney's first full-length animated film was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1932). More sinister aspects of his personality are evident in the sanitised, controlled version of American society he attempted to create in the hugely successful Disney theme parks and the scary "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow" (EPCOT) in Florida.
Velasquez (p 90)
Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599-1660), Spanish painter and courtier. For much of his career he was official painter to the Spanish court in Madrid, and later in life he also held the post of marshal of the royal household, with responsibility for organising court ceremonial. He is known both for his court portraits and his genre pieces. His aristocratic status makes the comparison all the more incongruous.
Bertie the Bandicoot (p 90)
A bandicoot is a large Indian rat (Mus malabaricus), about the size of a cat. Not a very plausible cuddly cartoon character.
District Council (p 91)
In British local government terms, a District is a subdivision of a County. Local government has been reorganised many times since then, but in the 1930s, at least in larger counties like Norfolk, District Councils were responsible for most local services (highways, education, refuse collection, etc.). Councils, although elected democratically, often included members of the local gentry and aristocracy, usually elected as Conservatives or Independents.
Phipps the butler (p 92)
Another Phipps is the safebreaking butler of Spring Fever/Phipps/Kilroy was here/The Old Reliable (1948-51).
watered silk (p 92)
Silk made with a wavy, lustrous pattern.
fagged (p 93)
Wearied - the OED cites Fanny Burney as the first to use it in print.
cottage hospital (p 93)
A small local hospital in a country district, with medical services provided by resident nurses and a rota of local general practitioners. Most had disappeared by the 1970s. Mary Renaults 1947 novel Return to Night gives a good account of the workings of such an institution.
brother brush (p 93)
Fellow artist. Brother of the brush is a more common way of saying this.
leaving not a wrack (p 95)
The OED tells us that this phrase results from a misprint in Shakespeare's Tempest iv. i. 156: "The great Globe it selfe shall dissolue, And Leaue not a racke behinde." Shakespeare was using the now obsolete sense of rack to mean 'mist or fog' (what one might plausibly expect to find if a planet has dissolved), but in some editions the word 'wrack' (ruin, remains) was substituted.
Slumberola (p 95)
Oddly enough, no-one seems to have used this name for a sleeping pill yet.
tangled wildwood (p 96)
How dear to my heart are the scenes of my childhood
When fond recollection presents them to view
The orchard, the meadow, the deep tangled wildwood,
And ev'ry loved spot which my infancy knew
The wide spreading pond, and the mill that stood by it,
The bridge and the rock where the cataract fell;
The cot of my father, the dairy house nigh it,
And e'en the rude bucket that hung in the well.
The old oaken bucket, the iron bound bucket,
The moss covered bucket that hung in the well.
The moss covered bucket I hailed as a treasure,
For often at noon, when returned from the field,
I found it the source of an exquisite pleasure,
The purest and sweetest that nature can yield.
How ardent I seized it, with hands that were glowing,
And quick to the white pebbled bottom it fell
Then soon, with the emblem of turth overflowing,
And dripping with coolness, it rose from the well.
The old oaken bucket, the iron bound bucket,
The moss covered bucket that hung in the well.
[Woodworth, Samuel (1788-1842) The Old Oaken Bucket ]
apes, ivory and peacocks (p 97)
21 For the king's ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram: every three years once came the ships of Tarshish bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.
[Bible 2 Chronicles 9:21 ]See also 1 Kings 10:22
razing ... to its foundations (p 97)
This phrase is most often used to describe the destruction of cities, etc., after battles. Wodehouse is, of course, playing on another sense of the verb 'raze' (or rase) which survives today only in the noun 'razor.'
lighting wicks ... hot dishes (p 98)
Breakfast in English country houses was normally a 'self-service' affair - family and guests would help themselves to hot food kept warm in serving dishes placed over lamps or candles on the sideboard.
kedgeree (p 101)
A dish made of rice and fish, often served at breakfast. (A British variant of an Indian dish made with rice, pulses and onions.)
animal magnetism (p 102)
This term comes from the Austrian physician F.A. Mesmer (1734-1815) who developed a form of hypnosis, which he believed to be based on an influence passing from practitioner to patient which he called animal magnetism.
Debrett (p 102)
Debretts Peerage of England, Scotland and Ireland, a directory of the peerage, originally compiled by John Debrett (1750-1822), which first appeared in 1803.
cottage loaf (p 106)
A round loaf of bread shaped by putting two balls of dough one on top of the other, rather than using a rectangular tin as for a standard loaf.
The Letter of the Law (pp 108 to 136)
This story (original US title: A Triple Threat Man) appeared in Redbook in the US in February 1936 and The Strand in the UK, in April 1936. It appeared in book form in Young Men in Spats (US version only) and Lord Emsworth and Others (UK). Page references are to the 1st edition of the latter, where the story runs from pp. 108-136.
spavined (p 108)
Lame - horses suffering from spavin have bony growths on the joints of their legs.
Wilmot Byng (p 109)
The most famous Byng in the canon is of course Bertie's friend Stiffy, fiancée of the Rev. Stinker Pinker. Wilmot Mulliner is the aspiring Hollywood executive in Blandings Castle and Elsewhere. Neither name has an obvious connection with Wodehouse, although Wilmot was of course the family name of the Earl of Rochester (he of the monkey), while Byng was the admiral who was executed pour encourager les autres.
Gwendoline Poskitt (p 109)
As Richard Usborne has pointed out, girls with polysyllabic first names are usually bad news in Wodehouse, but this particular Gwendoline is harmless enough. Although Gwendoline as a girl's name is popularly supposed to have come from medieval Wales, in fact it seems to be an English 19th century invention based on a misreading by Geoffrey of Monmouth of the Welsh man's name Guendoleu (Source: Jodi McMaster).
There is no obvious Wodehouse connection with Poskitt, although it is a reasonably common name in England.
First Grave Digger (p 110)
A reference to the comic gravedigger in Shakespeare's Hamlet V.i (sometimes known as "First Clown").
the University (p 110)
Oxford (see p 111)
Consul, the Almost Human (p 111)
A cartoon character???
Update: Consul was a performing chimpanzee trained by Frank Bostock, interviewed under the title “The King of Wild Animal Trainers” in The Captain for August 1908, p. 407–09. A 1913 newspaper advertisement of Consul’s upcoming appearance at the Exeter Hippodrome describes him as the “almost human” chimpanzee. [Neil Midkiff, 2014-06-20]
perfectos (p 112)
A type of cigar, tapering at both ends.
all-day sucker (p 113)
A giant lollipop. Note that in golf a 'sucker' is a ball stuck in mud.
canaille (p 113)
Pejorative term for the masses, the great unwashed, etc. (from French - pack of dogs, cf. English 'kennel'). Used ironically here - Wodehouse himself had taken up the game in his forties.
Wadsworth Hemmingway (p 114)
Wadsworth is the middle name of Longfellow, a poet Wodehouse is fond of quoting. The confidence tricksters in The Inimitable Jeeves call themselves Aline and Sidney Hemmingway, also with two "m"'s. Since the next story in the present collection is called 'A farewell to legs,' it is not unreasonable to suppose that Wodehouse was familiar with the other spelling of Hemingway too.
business in London (p 114)
Presumably the US edition has "New York" here???
d'Artagnan (p 120)
The central character of Alexandre Dumas's sequence of historical novels starting with The Three Musketeers. D'Artagnan is the bold and penniless young Gascon gentleman who arrives in Paris to seek his fortune and meets the musketeers Athos, Porthos and Aramis. The main source Dumas used for Les trois Mousquetaires was the historical novel Les mémoires de Mr d'Artagnan by G. Coutilz. The original for d'Artagnan is believed to have been Charles de Batz Castelnau (1618-1673).
half-crown ... honour (p 122)
A half-crown was an English coin worth 2/6 (12.5p in decimal currency). The first were issued under Henry VIII, and the last in 1967. The denomination was withdrawn at the end of 1969.
The 'honour' in golf is the right to strike first.
the short lake hole (p 122)
For a description of the Sound View golf course in Long Island, the setting for all the Oldest Member stories, see the essay by Walter S. White included in Murphy's In Search of blandings.
St Peter's Eaton Square (p 132)
Anglican Church in London's Belgravia district. Built in 1827 in the classical style, extended in the 1870s. The Victorian interior was replaced by a modern building within the original Georgian exterior walls after a fire in 1987.
Farewell to Legs (pp 137 to 164)
This story first appeared in This Week (US, July 1935) and in The Strand (UK, May 1936). It appeared in book form in Young Men in Spats (US version only) and in Lord Emsworth and Others (UK). Page references are taken from the first edition of Lord Emsworth and Others, where the story runs from pp 137-164.
The title of the story is, of course, a pun on the title of Ernest Hemingway's celebrated First World War novel A Farewell to Arms (1929), which in turn is taken from the title of an Elizabethan poem.
HIS golden locks Time hath to silver turn'd;
O Time too swift, O swiftness never ceasing!
His youth 'gainst time and age hath ever spurn'd,
But spurn'd in vain; youth waneth by increasing:
Beauty, strength, youth, are flowers but fading seen;
Duty, faith, love, are roots, and ever green.
His helmet now shall make a hive for bees;
And, lovers' sonnets turn'd to holy psalms,
A man-at-arms must now serve on his knees,
And feed on prayers, which are Age his alms:
But though from court to cottage he depart,
His Saint is sure of his unspotted heart.
And when he saddest sits in homely cell,
He'll teach his swains this carol for a song,ù
'Blest be the hearts that wish my sovereign well,
Curst be the souls that think her any wrong.'
Goddess, allow this ag d man his right
To be your beadsman now that was your knight.
[Peele, George (1558-1597) A Farewell to Arms ]
Clark Gable (p 137)
William Clark Gable (1901-1960), American film actor, best known for his portrayal of tough, romantic heroes. One of his most famous films, Mutiny on the Bounty, was released shortly before this story was published; Gone with the Wind was still a couple of years in the future.
Angus McTavish (p 138)
Wodehouse was always fond of sending up the Scots, but it is relatively unusual for him to take a Scot as central character. McTavish is an English phonetic rendering of the Gaelic name MacTamhais. Many members of Clan MacTamhais translated their name into the English equivalent, Thom[p]son, in the aftermath of Culloden when it was politic not to have a Highland name. The traditional seat of the clan is at Dunardarie, in Argyll.
Some ten years after this story appeared, the ex-hairdresser Trimmer in Evelyn Waugh's Officers and Gentlemen takes the name McTavish when he fraudulently turns himself into an officer of a highland regiment.
Evangeline Brackett (p 138)
Although the name evokes associations with Dr Evadne Hinge (George Logan) and Dame Hilda Brackett (Patrick Fyffe), it seems unlikely that there is a diract connection. The prolific science-fiction writer Leigh Brackett published her first books in 1940. We do know that Wodehouse was familiar with Longfellow's poem Evangeline (see "Buried Treasure").
Legs Mortimer (p 140)
Perhaps inspired by the New York gangster John "Legs" Diamond, owner of the Hotsy-Totsy Club?
Braid on Taking Turf (p 143)
James Braid (1870-1950), professional golfer and course designer, born in Fife. Won his first Open in 1901, and became the first man to win the event five times (see also p157 below).
smilax (p 146)
A decorative plant, also known as bridal creeper, a climbing version of asparagus (Myrsiphyllum asparagoides). The name smilax is also used for smilacaeae, from whose roots sarsaparilla comes.
Henry Cotton (p 147)
Sir Henry Cotton (1907-1987), English professional golfer. Won the Open three times, and used his influence to campaign for better recognition of professional players. Like Wodehouse, he was awarded a knighthood a few days before his death.
qua (p 149)
In the capacity of. From the feminine ablative singular of the Latin relative pronoun: it isn't very clear how it gets this meaning in English, but it has been used like this since the 17th century, esp. by lawyers.
J.H. Taylor (p 157)
John Henry Taylor (1871 - 1963) English professional golfer. Won the Open four times from 1894. One of the founders of the PGA.
like a dome of many-coloured glass... (p 157)
If James Braid did say this, he must have pinched it from Shelley:
The One remains, the many change and pass;
Heavens light forever shines, Earths shadows fly;
Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity,
Until Death tramples it to fragments.ùDie,
If thou wouldst be with that which thou dost seek!
Follow where all is fled!ùRomes azure sky,
Flowers, ruins, statues, music, words are weak
The glory they transfuse with fitting truth to speak.
[Shelley, Percy Bysshe Adonaïs 460-468]
four bisques to the opposition (p 158)
A bisque is a type of handicap concession, applicable to matchplay. It isn't allowed in competitions. The term comes originally from the game of Real Tennis.To understand the bisque, you have to understand how normal handicaps work in matchplay. On any proper golf course, the holes are graded for difficulty. The most difficult hole is rated 1, the easiest is rated 18.
If a player has a handicap, he receives a stroke on all holes up to and including that rated as high as his handicap. So a player with a handicap of 3 will receive an extra stroke on the 3 most difficult holes. What this means is that if, for example, a hole is a par 4, a player receiving a stroke can treat it as a par 5 -- if he holes out in five and his opponent holes out in four, the hole is halved, whereas if neither player is receiving a stroke, the player taking only four strokes will win the hole.
If a player has a handicap in excess of eighteen, he receives a stroke on every hole and two strokes on the more difficult holes; so a player with a handicap of, say, 21, will receive two strokes on each of the three most difficult holes and one stroke at each of the other 15 holes.
If both players have handicaps, normal practice is to take the difference between their handicaps and allot that to the weaker player. So, if a 3-handicapper plays a 12-handicapper, for example, the latter will receive strokes on the nine most difficult holes.
Now we come to bisques. If a player offers you, say, three bisques, he is offering to give you the benefit of a three-stroke handicap difference. But with one crucial difference: instead of being obliged to take your three strokes on the three most difficult holes, you can choose to take them at any three holes. [AGOL]
Napoleon at St Helena (p 159)
The French Emperor Napoleon Buonaparte was exiled to the South Atlantic island of St Helena after losing the battle of Waterloo and abdicating from government on 22 June 1815. He died there on 6 May 1821.
Scotch-reeled (p 162)
Unlikely, as it takes four people to dance a Scottish reel. It is a dance in which two couples move around each other in a figure-of-eight pattern.
There's Always Golf (pp 165 to 191)
This story first appeared in The Strand in March 1936 (as "There's Always Golf!" - the exclamation mark seems to have been lost on book publication) and in Redbook (as "Not out of Distance") in April 1936. It was published in book form in Young Men in Spats (US version only) and Lord Emsworth and Others (UK). Page references are to the first edition of Lord Emsworth and Others, where the story runs from pp. 165 to 191.
Mrs Plinlimmon ... Clarice Fitch (p 165)
For Plinlimmon, see p.168 below.Apart from Sir Abercrombie Fitch (mentioned in A Pelican at Blandings) there is also Sally Fitch in Bachelors Anonymous.
fly across oceans and things (p 166)
Possibly Wodehouse had in mind the most famous woman aviator of the period, Amelia Earhart (1897-1937), the second person to fly solo across the Atlantic (in 1932). She was to disappear over the Pacific Ocean the year after this story appeared, during an attempt to fly around the world. She had maried publisher George Putnam in 1931.Women who have travelled in Africa occur several times in the canon, from the unpleasant Mrs Adela Cork of Money in the Bank to the more sympathetic Jane Hubbard of The Girl on the Boat.
Cleopatra (p 166)
Cleopatra VII (69-31 BCE), Macedonian queen of Egypt, the last of the Ptolemies to hold power. As head of the most economically important country in the region, she inevitably became involved in the power struggles for the control of the Roman Empire, marrying Julius Caesar and, after Caesar's assassination, Mark Anthony (she also had to marry two of her younger brothers and one of her sons at various times to comply with Egyptian dynastic law). When Anthony was defeated by Octavian she committed suicide rather than be humiliated as a Roman captive.
average-adjuster (p 167)
In marine insurance, average means extra costs other than pure freight costs incurred in the shipping of a cargo, especially as a result of loss or damage. General average refers to costs incurred intentionally, e.g. damage to the cargo in the course of salvage operations. An average-adjuster assesses the liabilities of the different parties and apportions costs between the insurers of the shipowner and the cargo in such cases.
form-fitting suits of plus-fours (p 168)
Plus-fours are baggy knee breeches formerly often worn by golfers: the name comes from the fact that tailors would cut the leg four inches longer than ordinary knee breeches, producing the characteristic overhang at the knee. Thus "form-fitting" plus-fours are something of a contradiction in terms.
Ernest Faraday Plinlimmon (p 168)
The name reinforces our idea of him as the serious businessman: Ernest ("Earnest") has been a guarantee of seriousness since Samuel Butler and Oscar Wilde; no parent with a sense of humour would name a child after a famous scientist; Plynlimon is a mountain in Mid-Wales, some way inland from Aberystwyth, often and unfairly regarded as a part of Britain far removed from all sources of fun.
Portuguese Love Sonnets (p 168)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning's best-known collection of poems, these 44 sonnets were written in the two years before her marriage to Robert Browning, and are often considered to be autobiographical. The suggestion in the title that they are translations is false, of course. The most often anthologised is No.43:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,--I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!--and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
[Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Sonnets from the Portuguese XLIII]
'Mgoopi 'Mgwumpi (p 169)
Fictitious, of course, but it seems to be a play on the American (originally Algonquian) word "mugwump," generally used in English as an ironic term for a boss or leader ("bigwig"). In US politics it is used to refer to a pose of aloofness from party politics.Cf. The Ordeal of Osbert Mulliner:
Did you ever hear what I did to the King of Mgumbo-Mgumbo?
I didnt even know there was a King of Mgumbo-Mgumbo.
There isnt - now.
Sir Jasper Medallion-Carteret (p 170)
"Carteret" sounds rather like "Cazalet" - could this be a little poke at Peter Cazalet, who had married Wodehouse's stepdaughter Leonora in 1932?
woman ... wailing for her demon lover (p 171)
IN Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced;
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that done in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
[Coleridge, Samuel Taylor (1772-1834) Kubla Khan ]
'Trees' (p 172)
Presumably not Tom Lehrer's version of this hoary old chestnut of American sentimentality, which includes the immortal couplet "A tree that looks at God all day, / Because it cannot run away."
I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks to God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
[Kilmer, Joyce (1886-1918) Trees ]
Ghengis Khan or Attila the Hun (p 172)
Attila the Hun (406-453) was king of the Huns from 434-453. He fought against the Roman Empire, earning himself the title "Scourge
of God", and ultimately being defeated at the battle of the Catalaunian Plains (Châlons-sur-Marne).
Genghis Khan (1162 - 1227) was the founder of the Mongol Empire, uniting the central Asian tribesmen to create an empire stretching from the Pacific to the Black Sea. His grandson was Coleridge's Kublai Khan.
say Bo to a cassowary (p 173)
The usual expression is "say Bo to a goose," of course. A cassowary is a large flightless bird, related to the ostrich, and found in mainly in Indonesia and New Guinea - presumably a far more formidable prospect than the domestic goose when it comes to saying "Bo".
The Masked Troubadour (pp 192 to 224)
This story originally appeared in The Strand for December 1936 and in a version under the title "Reggie and the Greasy Bird" (some changes to characters and settings) in the Saturday Evening Post for 28 November 1936. It appeared in book form in Crime Wave at Blandings (US) and Lord Emsworth and Others (UK). Page references are to the first edition of the latter, where the story runs from pp 192 to 224.
Troubadours were poets and singers who used the Provençal language and lived in France, Spain and Italy in the 11th to the 13th century.
Drones Club (p 192)
The Drones is first mentioned in Jill the Reckless (1921). For more on the real background to this, the most celebrated fictional club in the Wodehouse world, see Murphy, Chapter VII.
[Murphy, N. T. P., In Search of Blandings (1986) Ch.Vii]
stap my vitals (p 192)
This expression of surprise seems to have been invented by Sir John Vanbrugh - it is said by Lord Foppington in the play The Relapse (1696). Foppington pronounces all his 'o's as 'a's: he means "Stop my vital [organ]s."
tanner ... bob (p 193)
A tanner was sixpence (2.5p) and a bob one shilling (5p). The OED doesn't venture on guessing the origin of either.
been through the furnace (p 194)
Proverbial expression, probably comes from the story of the burning fiery furnace in Daniel Ch.3:
19 Then was Nebuchadnez'zar full of fury, and the form of
his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed'nego: therefore
he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven
times more than it was wont to be heated.
20 And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed'nego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their hose, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
22 Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed'nego.
23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed'nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
24 Then Nebuchadnez'zar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
[Bible Daniel 3:19-25]
handed him the horse's laugh (p 194)
Rejected his suit. Wodehouse has almost as many ways of describing this as he has words for drunkenness or for saying goodbye. This is a rather obscure one: a horse-laugh is a loud, coarse laugh. The horses laugh seems to exist in colloquial American English to mean disdainful rejection of an idea, but the OED doesn't record it in this sense, and Ive only seen a couple of examples on the internet, which may even come from Wodehouse.
Lord Blicester (p 194)
Fictitious, of course. The joke is that the name would most obviously be pronounced to rhyme with Bicester (a town in Oxfordshire), i.e. as blister. He seems to share many attributes with Bingo Littles uncle, Lord Bittlesham.
blot on the escutcheon (p 194)
An escutcheon is the shield (or shield-shaped object) on which a coat of arms is painted. Thus a blot on the escutcheon, figuratively speaking, is something which damages a person's or a family's reputation. Dryden is cited by the OED as the first to use the phrase.
Lady Pinfold (p 195)
A pinfold or penfold is an enclosure for stray sheep or cattle (a predecessor of the municipal car pound).
Limerick (p 195)
A short humourous nonsense verseform, it consists of five anapestic lines with the rhyme scheme aabba. The third and fourth lines have two stresses each, and the others three. It has been around in various guises since medieval times, but only achieved serious popularity with the publication of Edward Lear's first Book of Nonsense in 1864. The association of the name "Limerick" with the form is not very clear - the OED asserts that it comes from an old parlour game where each person had to improvise a verse, which was followed by a chorus of "Will ye come to Limerick". Although Lear's Limericks are entirely unobjectionable, the form lends itself very well to bawdy jokes, which is clearly what Lord Blicester is afraid of.
There was a Young Lady whose chin
Resembled the point of a pin:
So she had it made sharp,
And purchased a harp,
And played several tunes with her chin.
[Lear, Edward There was a young lady whose chin ]
throw in the towel (p 196)
Boxing metaphor: to concede the fight.
the going was good (p 197)
In horse-racing, the quality of the turf and its suitability for racing on a given day is referred to as "the going"
Notting Hill (p 197)
District in west London. Formerly mainly working-class, especially in the 1950s and 60s when it was one of the main areas where people from the Caribbean settled in London, but more recently somewhat infested by film-stars, TV personalities and the like, as a result of its proximity to much of the fashionable West End. G.K. Chesterton celebrated the spirit of the area in his novel The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904).
preux chevalier (p 197)
Brave knight - a piece of pseudo-medievalism taken from modern French and probably popularised by the Ingoldsby Legends (1840). The adjective preu existed in English in Chaucer's day, but seems to have disappeared in the 16th century.
When the Silver of the Moonlight Meets the Love-Light in Your Eyes (p 198)
There are many songs with similar titles, but this one doesn't seem to be listed anywhere. From the way Wodehouse quotes the lyrics later in the story, one suspects that he may have written them himself - with all his experience as a lyricist he would have been more than capable of sending up the genre in this way.
like a Crosby (p 198)
Presumably a reference to the American singer and actor Bing Crosby (1903-1977). His recording and film career was well-established by the mid-thirties. In 1936 he appeared in the film version of Anything Goes, based on the Cole Porter show for which Wodehouse and Bolton had written the original book, although little of their work was actually used in either the stage or movie versions. Wodehouse later adapted Porter's lyrics for the British stage version.
one pound, three shillings and fourpence (p 199)
GBP 1.17 in decimal currency
twenty quid (p 199)
"Quid" is slang for a pound
pocket-book (p 199)
by-election ... Bottleton (p 200)
A by-election is an election that takes place in a single constituency (voting district), to fill a seat that becomes vacant between general elections, usually as a result of the death, resignation, or ennoblement of the sitting member.
Bottleton (sometimes "Bottleton East") is a fictitious working-class district of the East End of London that is mentioned in many of Wodehouse's stories. The suffix - "East" - makes one suspect that Wodehouse might have had somewhere like Stratford East in mind. See also the description on p 207 below.
a bob a nob (p 201)
A shilling (5p) a head. The OED records the first use of this phrase in 1823, predating the Boy-Scout "bob-a-job" idea by many years. In the discussion that follows, it might be helpful to remember that there were twelve [old] pence to the shilling.
Barmy Phipps's cousin Egbert from Harrow (p 202)
The same Egbert (still at Harrow) lends his catapult to Lord Ickenham twenty-two years later, in the opening chapter of Cocktail Time. In that case it is Beefy Bastable's hat which suffers.
Harrow is of course a well-known public school on the northern fringes of London.
Bessemer (p 205)
The name Bessemer also appears in "Tangled Hearts" (Nothing Serious), and was the name of Mrs Spottsworth's first husband (Ring for Jeeves). It is of course the name of Sir Henry Bessemer, FRS (1813-1898), the British engineer and inventor of a steel-making process, but there isn't any obvious Wodehouse link.
Lord Bountiful (p 205)
More usually Lady Bountiful, from the name of a character in Farquhars play The Beaux Stratagem (1707). Often used ironically to mean a condescending do-gooder.
Palace of Varieties (p 206)
A common name for a music hall or variety theatre. The most famous music halls were always in working-class districts, near their audience.
Limehouse (p 207)
As Wodehouse implies, this area, home to many immigrant communities because of its proximity to London's docks, had become something of a cliché for writers of crime fiction in the 19th and early 20th century.
Whipsnade (p 207)
Europes first open zoo, where animals are shown in something approaching natural surroundings, was opened on a former farm at Whipsnade in the Chilterns in 1931 by the Zoological Society of London.
raising the wind (p 208)
Raising funds. The expression in this figurative sense goes back to the 18th century, and more recently it was the title of one of Edgar Allan Poes Tales of the Folio Club (1836).
Jos. Waterbury (p 208)
There are several other Waterburys in the canon, starting with the Rev Mr Waterbury, the headmaster in The inferiority complex of old Sippy (Very Good, Jeeves).
Jas. Waterbury, the theatrical agent in Freddy, Oofy and the Beef Trust and Jeeves and the Greasy Bird is presumably the same man. He has traded on his acquaintance with Freddie to blackmail members of the Drones Club.
Green Goose (p 209)
A green goose is a goose not yet fully grown. Although not a very common pub name in Britain, it does appear occasionally. There is a particular local connection with the East End of London, as the annual fair at Bow was known as "Green Goose Fair." The fair is mentioned by John Taylor, the Water-Poet.
At Bow, the Thursday after Pentecost,
There is a fair of green geese ready rost,
Where, as a goose is ever dog cheap there
The sauce is over somewhat sharp and deare
[Taylor, John (1580-1654) ]
unsweetened gin (p 210)
Gin is a spirit made by redistilling grain alcohol over a flavouring mixture including juniper berries. It was first developed in the Netherlands. Until the 18th century, when London-based distillers developed a way to make a palatable dry gin, most gins were sweetened to hide the raw taste of the spirit.
Queen's Hall (p 210)
The Queen's Hall in Langham Place was London's main large concert hall from its opening in 1893. It was destroyed by bombs in 1941. Pianists playing there in the thirties would have included people like Rubinstein and Horowitz.
aziz (p 210)
As they are - "as is" (presumably a theatrical shorthand: I haven't been able to find confirmation of this).
cop the gage of victory (p 211)
This is probably a conflation of two allusions, but I haven't yet been able to pin down the precise origin. To cop is to take, seize, arrest; a gage is a pledge or reward, so the meaning is evidently to take the prize.
It is unlikely that this has anything to do with General Thomas Gage, British commander-in-chief in North America during the Revolutionary War.
selling platers (p 211)
A selling plate (claiming race) is a horserace intended for horses at the lowest level of competition. To discourage owners from entering horses of too high a standard, entry is subject to the condition that every horse competing in the race must be offered for sale at a given (low) price.
"Just break the news to mother" (p 211)
Charles K. Harris (known as "King of the tear-jerker") was America's most successful purveyor of sentimental ballads. This was originally a song about a brave fireman, published in 1891. Harris rewrote it in 1897 to cash in on the Spanish-American war. Harris wrote both words and music.
While the shot and shell were screaming on the battlefield,
The boys in blue were fighting their noble flag to shield;
Came a cry from their brave captain, "Look, boys! our flag is down;
Who'll volunteer to save it from disgrace?"
"I will," a young voice shouted, "I'll bring it back or die,"
Then sprang into the thickest of the fray,
Saved the flag but gave his young life; all for his country's sake.
They brought him back and softly heard him say:
"Just break the news to mother,
She knows how dear I love her,
And tell her not to wait for me,
For I'm not coming home;
Just say there is no other
Can take the place of mother;
Then kiss her dear, sweet lips for me,
And break the news to her."
From afar a noted general had witnessed the brave deed.
"Who saved our flag? Speak up lads; 'twas noble, brave, indeed!"
"There he lies, sir," said the captain, "he's sinking very fast,"
Then slowly turned away to hide a tear.
The general, in a moment, knelt down beside the boy;
Then gave a cry that touch'd all hearts that day.
"It's my son, my brave young hero; I thought you safe at home."
"Forgive me Father, for I ran away."
[Harris, Charles K. (1867-1930) Just break the news to mother]
"Top Hat, White Tie and Tails" (p 215)
Song by Irving Berlin written for the 1935 Fred Astaire movie Top Hat.
raspberry (p 215)
"Raspberry" meaning a rude noise comes from rhyming slang "raspberry tart," dated to 1875 by Eric Partridge.
jellied eel industry (p 216)
Jellied eels have long been associated with the East End of London. Traditionally they are sold in eel, pie and mash shops.
costermongers (p 218)
Traditional term for those who sell fruit and vegetables from barrows in the street in London (from the old word "costard" - a large apple).
King Harold at the Battle of Hastings (p 218)
Harold led the Saxon defenders against Duke William of Normandy at the battle of Hastings on the south coast of England in 1066. According to tradition, Harold was struck in the eye by an arrow and killed. This incident is depicted on the Bayeux tapestry.
on the sawdust (p 220)
Pubs of the type where a lot of beer is likely to be spilt in the course of the evening generally have sawdust spread on the floor.
in the slats (p 220)
ribs - the OED lists this as US slang, giving the first example from 1898.
amuck ... berserk (p 222)
Malay and Norse terms for fighting madness, respectively.
black cap (p 222)
English judges used to put on a black cap when pronouncing a sentence of death. Wodehouse continues the metaphor in the following paragraph.
Ukridge and the Home from Home (pp 225 to 255)
This story first appeared in Cosmopolitan in the US and The Strand in the UK, both in early 1931. In the UK it appeared in book form in Lord Emsworth and Others, in the US in Eggs, Beans and Crumpets. Page references are to the UK first edition of Lord Emsworth and Others, where the story runs from pp 225 to 255.The character Ukridge (pronounced "Yoo-kridge") first appeared in the novel Love among the Chickens (1906, 1909, 1921), and had a volume of short stories to himself with Ukridge (He rather enjoyed it in US) in 1924. Apart from Lord Emsworth and Others there are Ukridge stories in Eggs, Beans and Crumpets (1940) and Nothing Serious (1950). The distribution of stories between these books varies between the UK and US, of course! Usborne has an interesting chapter comparing the Ukridge of the short stories to Love among the Chickens. Murphy has done some detective work into the real prototypes for Ukridge, and claims to have found Aunt Julia's house.
Macbeth ... knocking (p 225)
Macb. Whence is that knocking?
How ist with me, when every noise appals me?
What hands are here! Ha! they pluck out mine eyes.
Will all great Neptunes ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.
[Shakespeare, William (1564-1616) Macbeth II:ii, 72-79]
Roman emperor (p 225)
Most of Wodehouse's butlers look like Roman emperors. In Love among the chickens Bowles was Beale, an ex-soldier rather than an ex-butler.
Sloane Square (p 225)
In west London, where the King's Road meets Sloane Street, and Belgravia becomes Chelsea. A very fashionable neighbourhood since the 1960s but, when Wodehouse lived in Markham Square and later in Walpole Street around 1901, this part of Chelsea was mainly given over to cheap lodgings.
eight shillings and sixpence (p 225)
42.5p in decimal currency. In 1909 (the only year I've found figures for) the standard cab fare in London was 8d per mile, so you could travel 12 miles for 8/6, including a 6d tip. The distance from Wimbledon Common to Sloane Square is about five miles, so this amount would be right, assuming Ukridge was being charged double fare because of the late hour.
young and callow in baggy trousers (p 226)
See Over Seventy, Ch. 4, pt 1, for the "baggy trousers" anecdote.
house on Wimbledon Common (p 226)
Murphy has identified this as Gayton Lodge, Parkside, the house (now demolished) of a Mrs Holland, an aunt of Wodehouse's cousin, the lawyer Edward Isaac, who lived nearby, also in Wimbledon. In the stories in Ukridge the house is called "Heath House," here it has become "The Cedars" (see p 232 below).
eating the entrée with a fish-knife (p 226)
In traditional English cooking, the entrée is a dish served between the fish and the joint. Consequently, an efficient butler should have ensured that fish-knives had been removed before the entrée was served. It has also been questioned whether fish-knives are socially acceptable in the first place (see Nancy Mitford, Noblesse Oblige). Nowadays, of course, the structure of meals is less rigid, and the term entrée has come to have different meanings in various parts of the English-speaking world, leading to all sorts of misunderstandings. However, it is difficult to imagine how an entrée might be served before the fish, allowing this particular faux pas to arise.
the father of the Prodigal Son (p 227)
cf. Luke 15:11-32. Ukridge was certainly at least as fond of wasting his substance with riotous living as the son in the parable. There is a famous painting by Rembrandt of the father welcoming his son, which might be what Wodehouse has in mind here.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best
robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his
23 and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
[Bible Luke 15:22-24]
ginger-beer wire (p 228)
Ginger-beer contains a lot of carbon dioxide under pressure, because most of the fermentation takes place in the bottle. Consequently, it was sold in bottles sealed like champagne bottles with a cork held down by twisted wire. This wire would have been useful for improvised repairs in the days before adhesive tape.Pince-nez are spectacles without earpieces that clip on to the nose: Ukridge has converted his to ordinary spectacles.
Waterloo (p 230)
Waterloo station is a London railway terminus located just south of the river Thames. It was opened in 1848 to serve the London and Southampton Railway Company's line to Southampton. This company later became part of the London and South Western Railway, and from 1923 the Southern Railway. The old Waterloo was famously chaotic, comprising at least four separate stations that had grown together over the years, but the LSWR rebuilt it completely to something like its modern form in 1922. The station serves much of the South-West of England, including the seaside resorts of Hampshire, Dorset and Devon. It was the terminus for boat trains to the port of Southampton.
Upon my solemn Sam (p 230)
The origins of this expression seem rather obscure - it may have been popularised by Kipling's Stalky and Co (1899), but according to the OED it existed in Devon, at least, before that, so Kipling could have picked it up at school. The similarly obscure "Upon my salmon/Salomon/sang" seem to be much older.
a contract to go to Hollywood for a year (p 230)
Wodehouse did this in 1930-31. It is quite likely that he wrote this story while in Hollywood, waiting for the studio to find him something useful to do.
residential hotel (p 231)
A small hotel, which caters to long-term guests and only serves food and drink to guests staying overnight, hence doesn't need to be licensed as a public house. In effect an up-market lodging house.
Maison (p 231)
French: House [of]
dernier cri (p 231)
French: the last word
the staff (p 231)
The roles of butler and cook are familiar enough. A parlourmaid assists the butler serving at table, answering the door etc., especially in smaller households without footmen. A housemaid does the dirty work of cleaning and polishing above stairs. A tweeny ("between-stairs maid") assists both the housemaid (above stairs) and the cook ("below stairs"). This passage is a classic example of Ukridge's fondness for hyperbole.
cognoscenti (p 232)
Learned or well-informed people, those "in the know." Although this looks like an Italian word, it isn't: the corresponding Italian word is spelled "conoscenti," and usually means acquaintances, the people one knows. It is only very rarely used in the sense of "people who know something." The word seems to have entered English in the 18th century during the era of the Grand Tour, the spelling being latinised at some point by English pedants convinced that modern Italians don't know how to speak their own language. The word cicerone is another bit of Italian invented by the British (cf Something Fresh Ch. 5).
throw the handkerchief (p 232)
Probably an allusion to medieval tournaments, where ladies would throw a handkerchief to the champions they favoured.
Fourth Loyal Lincolnshires (p 232)
Seems to be fictitious. The 81st Regiment of Foot (Loyal Lincoln Volunteers) was created in 1793, and in 1882 it merged with the 47th (Lancashire) Regiment of Foot to become 2nd Bn, The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. The other infantry regiment with a Lincolnshire connection was the 10th Regiment of Foot, called the Lincolnshire Regiment (after 1946: Royal Lincolnshire Regiment). The Fourth were the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.
feasts of Reason and flows of Soul (p 233)
There St. John mingles with my friendly bowl
The feast of reason and the flow of soul.
[Pope, Alexander Satires, Epistles, and Odes of Horace I.ii.127]
Blackpool (p 233)
Seaside resort on the Lancashire coast - a very popular holiday destination with working people from northern industrial towns.
clique-i-ness ... Huddersfield (p 233)
Most people avoid this spelling difficulty by using "cliquishness."Huddersfield is a town in West Yorkshire, formerly known for manufacturing dyes, shoddy and mungo, now more famous for its annual contemporary music festival.
Brighton A's (p 233)
Presumably Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, founded in 1901. In the years before the First World War, when Wodehouse was living in the area, they were one of the leading soccer clubs in the South. Wodehouse wasn't terribly interested in soccer, but he uses it occasionally as a way of placing people socially - cf. Psmith in the City. The implication is that the City types didn't go to a rugby-playing Public School, but are from a slightly lower social stratum.
the quiet rubber (p 233)
A game of bridge or whist.
the wireless (p 233)
Although Ukridge clearly belongs to a pre-war generation, here the setting of the story is modernised by the introduction of new technology. The first regular entertainment broadcasts by Marconi's 2LO station and the BBC in London were made in 1922.
Bond Street (p 234)
Running between Oxford Street and Piccadilly, Bond Street is home to many of London's most expensive shops. Perhaps the choice of location was prompted by the association of Miss Vining with jewelry? The name of the street comemorates Sir Thomas Bond, a courtier and property developer who was part of a consortium that acquired the former site of Clarendon House in the late 17th century to build Old Bond St. There is no longer a dog shop in Bond Street.
Angelica Vining (p 234)
See "Ukridge and the Level Business Head," a story written ten years before the present one, but which Herbert Jenkins for inscrutable reasons have placed last in the collection in Lord Emsworth and Others. (p 285 below)
chloroformed at birth (p 235)
Chloroform (trichloromethane, CHCl3) was used as an anaesthetic. In the 1920s and 30s some eugenicists suggested that infants with birth defects could be "humanely" disposed of by chlorofoming them at birth.
snootering directions (p 235)
The OED defines snooter: "v. trans. To harass, to bedevil; to snub. (Only in P. G. Wodehouse.)"
"directions" here may be a misprint for "directors," although it remains unchanged in later editions.
bologney (p 236)
It isn't quite certain that the American slang word baloney/boloney meaning 'humbug' or 'nonsense' (first recorded 1928) is the same as balony/bolony/boloney meaning 'Bologna sausage,' but this spelling, which isn't in the OED, suggests that at least the editors at Herbert Jenkins thought so. In the later World of Ukridge (Barrie & Jenkins) it is spelled 'boloney.'
Cities of the Plain (p 237)
Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed in Genesis, chapter 19, for reasons which theologians have been debating for centuries. Only Lot and his daughters survive. The medieval theory, that the people of the two cities were being published for their sexual irregularities, an idea still popular with some Christian sects, seems to rest on a misreading of the text.
24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone
and fire from the LORD out of heaven;
25 and he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.
[Bible Genesis 19:24-25]
quorum (p 238)
In this context, it simply means a select group of people. The more usual meaning nowadays is the minimum number of people required to be present for a meeting to make valid decisions, of course.
drains (p 239)
Not necessarily a groundless fear: the drains at Windsor Castle are believed to have been responsible for Prince Albert's death from typhoid in 1861.
Putney (p 239)
District on the south bank of the Thames, on the way into central London from Wimbledon Common.
the nib (p 239)
Important person. cf. Laughing Gas Ch.8 "You don't run to an English butler in Hollywood unless you are a pretty prominent nib." Seems to be early 19th century: it appears in the historical novels of WH Ainsworth.
Wapshott (p 240)
There is a Wapshott Farm near Woking in Surrey. Wapshott is a reasonably common English surname, but there isn't an obvious Wodehouse link. Aunt Julia's butler is called Oakshott in some of the Ukridge stories. Cf. also Bill Oakshott (Uncle Dynamite).
the Oval (p 240)
Cricket ground in Kennington, also south of the river, and not too far from Wimbledon Common. It is the home ground of Surrey Cricket Club, and has been in use since the 1840s. The first English Test Match against Australia was played here in 1880.
Fedora (p 240)
A soft felt hat with a curled brim. From the title of a play by Victorien Sardou, written for Sarah Bernhardt in 1882. The play is now remembered mainly because of the opera by Umberto Giordano (1867-1948), first performed in 1898, with its famous bicycling aria ("Se amor ti allena").
war-horse ... bugle (p 240)
A real Wodehouse favourite, this one:
19 Hast thou given the horse strength?
Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?
20 Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper?
The glory of his nostrils is terrible.
21 He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength:
he goeth on to meet the armed men.
22 He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted;
neither turneth he back from the sword.
23 The quiver rattleth against him,
the glittering spear and the shield.
24 He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage:
neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet.
25 He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha!
And he smelleth the battle afar off,
the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.
[Bible Job 39:19-25]
Bingley-on-Sea (p 244)
Bingley is one of Wodehouses favourite names, for both people and places. Bingley-on-Sea (or the similar Bramley-on-Sea) appears in many stories, most memorably in 'Portrait of a Disciplinarian' (Meet Mr Mulliner). It is where the Drones have their golf tournament, and it is the setting for the first part of Doctor Sally. There are also villages called Upper and Lower Bingley in 'The Great Sermon Handicap'. Horace Davenports car in Uncle Fred in the Springtime is a rakish Bingley (Ch.15).
There is Bingley Crocker (Piccadilly Jim) Little Johnny Bingley (The Nodder), Elsa Bingley (secretary in Ice in the Bedroom), Gladys Bingley (Lancelot Mulliners fiancée), Lancelot Bingley (engaged to Gladys Wetherby(!) in A Good Cigar is a Smoke), Marcella Bingley (golfer), and Berties ex-valet Rupert Bingley (né Brinkley). In Cocktail Time, Bingley vs. Bingley, Botts & Frobisher is the name of a divorce case.
There is a tiny Bingley in Denbighshire and a rather larger one in Airedale, West Yorkshire, but neither of them is anywhere near the sea. Murphy guesses that the most likely prototype is the south coast resort Bexhill-on-Sea.
Barter (p 244)
This is one of the famous inconsistencies in the canon: Miss Ukridge's butler is variously called Oakshott, Barter and Baxter (all three appear in the three stories in Lord Emsworth and Others), and the change of name is never explained. Presumably either Barter or Baxter must be a printers error: This seems to be the only Barter in the canon, but Baxter is well-established as the name of Lord Emsworth's bête noire, the efficient secretary.
a wireless (p 244)
A radio-telegram; conventional telegrams were also referred to as "wires." Note that there was only a relatively short period when "wireless" by itself could mean both a receiver (cf. p233 above) and a message. In the early days the word Marconigram was sometimes used.
Hotel Crillon (p 245)
The Hôtel de Crillon on the Place de la Concorde was built in 1758 for Louis XV, and was the family home of the Counts of Crillon until opening as the first luxury hotel in Paris in 1909. It remains one of the city's most splendid hotels: the price of a double room there today is in the region of EUR 500 a night.
o'goblins (p 245)
Obsolete slang expression for English pounds sterling - ogoblin is a short variant of Jimmy OGoblin, rhyming slang for "sovereign" (also obsolete).
Purundapore (p 247)
Seems to be fictitious - a generic Indian placename. The three closest matches are: -
1. Purandarpur Sonbarsa - in the Himlayan foothills
2. Purandarpur - West Bengal and
3. Purandharpur - in what looks like Maharashtra-Karnataka border.
Purandarpore - even if made up, would not have been as way-off as Maharaja of Gopal or of Gaipajama, as in Tintin.
-pore (used in British India) and -pur as used currently - is an added suffix that means a Village. Purandar could have come from Sri Purandara Dasa - a devotional composer from Karnataka (c.1480-1564). [Rathnasree/Lady C]
The Paris (p 250)
The liner SS Paris was launched in 1916 and started to operate between Le Havre and New York in 1921. She was destroyed in a fire at Le Havre in 1939.
mighty rushing wind (p 254)
Another Wodehouse biblical favourite:
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing
and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
[Bible Acts of the Apostles 2:2]
one of those mystery plays (p 254)
The expression mystery play is nowadays most often associated with medieval miracle-plays, i.e. plays illustrating Bible stories in a very down-to-earth way, traditionally performed by the trade guilds of a city. What Wodehouse means here must be simply a modern thriller or "Whodunnit."
pat it with your paws (p 254)
It sounds as though Wodehouse must have been going through a cat phase when he wrote this.
The Come-Back of Battling Billson (pp 256 to 284)
This story first appeared in Cosmopolitan (June 1935) and The Strand (July 1935). It was published in book form in Lord Emsworth and Others (UK) and Eggs, Beans and Crumpets (US). Page references are to the UK first edition of Lord Emsworth and Others, where the story runs from pp 256 to 284.Ukridge's boxing protégé Battling Billson previously appeared in "The Début of Battling Billson," "The Return of..." and "The Exit of...," all of which appeared in 1923 and were collected in Ukridge (UK, 1924) and He Rather Enjoyed It (US, 1926). Wodehouse was a keen amateur boxer in his school days. Poor eyesight forced him to abandon the sport, but both professional and amateur boxing feature in many of his stories, and he clearly followed it closely. On his first trip to the US in 1904 he went to meet the boxer 'Kid' McKoy in his training camp.
Talking Films (p 256)
Various systems for synchronising movies with recorded sound were tried out in the early 1900s, but it was only with the development of electronic amplification after the war that it became possible to reproduce sound of reasonable quality. The film industry wasn't very enthusiastic about sound at first, although it became reasonably common to include a few musical numbers or speeches recorded on disc with a film, mainly because the cinema boom had led to a shortage of musicians who could accompany the silent films. The surprise success of The Jazz Singer in 1927 forced the other studios to adapt to sound.
motion-picture sale (p 256)
One suspects that Wodehouse is putting quite a bit of himself, the professional writer, into Corky here. According to the list in Phelps, the first talkie made from a Wodehouse novel (as opposed to plays and musicals) was Summer Lightning in 1933.
dicta (p 256)
Latin: statements, sayings.
The Jazz Singer (p 257)
Film experts spill large quantities of ink over the question of why this Al Jolson vehicle was such a huge success when other silent films with interpolated musical numbers went unnoticed. One theory is that it was the presence of ambient sounds (tinkling glasses in the café scene, etc.) where audiences where used to hearing only voices and music.
muscles strong as iron bands (p 257)
UNDER a spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.
His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate'er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.
[Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth (1807-1882) The village blacksmith 1-12]
jellied eel ... Whitechapel (p 258)
Whitechapel is a district in the East End of London, traditionally having a large Jewish population. Jellied eels are a noted speciality of the East End - see also the notes to 'The Masked Troubadour.'
North Kensington Folk Dance Society (p 258)
North Kensington is not where you would expect to find it, next to South Kensington; Notting Hill and Holland Park intervene. It is not an especially fashionable neighbourhood, being bounded by the Great Western Railway and Wormwood Scrubs.
The lawyer and musicologist Cecil Sharp (1859-1924) was the main inspiration behind the English folk-dance revival. He started collecting folk dances after a chance meeting with the Headington Quarry Morris Dancers in Oxford, and founded the English Folk Dance Society in 1911 (it merged with the Folk Song Society in 1932). Since 1930, the main hotbed of morris-dancing in London has been not in North Kensington but at Cecil Sharp House, a couple of miles further east in Camden Town.
hoofers (p 258)
Dancers: Broadway slang, first recorded in the twenties, nicely incongruous when Wodehouse applies it to morris-dancers.
tie bells to their trousers (p 258)
Morris-dancing is a curious activity. It seems to have something to do with the Robin Hood legend and the Crusades (morris is a corruption of "Moorish"). Despite the fact that it involves men dressing up in white, drinking large quantities of beer, and waving sticks around, there is no proven link with cricket.
St Vitus (p 259)
St Vitus may have been an early Roman martyr. He is considered the patron of epileptics, those afflicted with St. Vitus' Dance (chorea, an illness characterised by involuntary muscle spasms), dancers, and actors, and is a protector against storms. His feast day is 15 June. "St Vitus's Dance" is often also used figuratively, as here.
Hon. Sec. (p 259)
Honorary [i.e. unpaid] Secretary. In many clubs and societies it is the Hon. Sec. who organises everything.
sarabands (p 259)
A slow Spanish dance in triple time (zarabanda). First appeared in England in the 17th century. More the domain of baroque dance enthusiasts than folk dancers.
beefed (p 259)
Objected, complained. This usage seems to have come from the American Midwest in the late 19th century. Sinclair Lewis used it before Wodehouse picked it up.
jug (p 260)
Jug for prison was originally American slang (initially as stone-jug), but it was well-established in England by the mid-19th century, both as noun and as here as a verb.
shadow of the cell (p 260)
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our lifes Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But He beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Natures Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.
Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,
And, even with something of a Mothers mind,
And no unworthy aim,
The homely Nurse doth all she can
To make her Foster-child, her Inmate Man,
Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came.
[Wordsworth, William Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood 59-85]
chloroform and forceps (p 260)
This is about as close as Wodehouse ever comes to referring to childbirth.
half-crowners and two-bobbists (p 260)
A half-crown was a coin worth 2/6 (12.5p); "two bob" was slang for two shillings (10p) - the two-shilling coin was also known as a florin, and remained in existence as a 10p coin until the 1990s, when it was miniaturised.
Wormwood Scrubs (p 261)
London prison, conveniently situated for the North Kensington folk-dancers.
Alistair Simms, Convict or They that are without hope (p 261)
The British character actor Alistair Sim (1900-1976) only made his film debut in 1935, but Wodehouse might have encountered him on the stage. The British Library doesn't have either title, so we can be reassured that Ukridge never paid his debt to society.
Limehouse (p 263)
Like Bottleton East, but with more mysterious Chinamen (cf. The Masked Troubadour).
handed in his portfolio (p 263)
The word portfolio is often used figuratively to describe the tasks of a government minister (this was originally a French usage). Thus, when a minister resigns she is said to hand in her portfolio. For an odd-job man to do this is delightfully incongruous.
roadwork (p 264)
Running as part of a physical training programme.
so much goose (p 265)
Presumably a slang expression for good fortune. Not recorded by the OED, and none of the other meanings of goose seem to fit.
Oakshott (p 266)
A few pages ago in Ukridge and the Home from Home (published five years earlier) the butler was called Barter.
Machiavelli (p 266)
Machiavelli, Niccolò (1469-1527). An important civil servant and diplomat in the Florentine Republic, he lost his job when the Medici family came to power in Florence, and retired to his country estate to write. His most famous work, based on his experience of diplomacy in the time of Cesare Borgia, is Il principe (The Prince) (1532), a book which advises an ideal amoral ruler on how to gain and maintain power. No-one has ever been quite sure whether it is sincere advice or political satire, but at any rate Machiavelli has become synonymous with amoral scheming.
entourage (p 267)
A slightly odd choice of word here - Wodehouse might have been thinking of the theatrical term ensemble, meaning the ordinary members of the cast, or the chorus. An entourage is always defined with reference to the particular person (or, in earlier times, place) it is associated with, so his [the butlers] entourage would have been more usual.
and Oakshott was an honourable man (p 267)
Ukridge is echoing the bitter irony in Antonys funeral oration for Caesar.
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest--
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men--
[Shakespeare, William (1564-1616) Julius Caesar III:ii]
gurgle like a leaking cistern (p 268)
An actual leaking cistern had appeared not long before in Hot Water (1932) - maybe Wodehouse is speaking from personal experience here?
Ally Pally (p 270)
The Alexandra Palace in North London opened in 1873. As well as the great hall (which burnt down and was rebuilt shortly after the opening, and again in 1980) there were numerous recreational facilities at various times, including a racecourse. The BBC had a television transmitter in part of the complex from 1935 onwards. Nowadays Alexandra Palace is mainly used as a conference and exhibition centre, though it still has an amusement park.
Wapping (p 270)
Yet another part of East London. Wapping lies on the northern bank of the Thames, just east of the Tower of London and south of Whitechapel. It is one of the oldest parts of the Port of London.
quivering of Hell's foundations (p 273)
Hell's foundations quiver
At the shout of praise;
Brothers, lift your voices,
Loud your anthems raise!
[Baring-Gould, Sabine Onward, Christian Soldiers ]
Hootchy-Kootchers (p 273)
Hootchy-kootchy (variously spelled) was used as a generic term for erotic or suggestive dancing, from about 1890. Used of morris-dancers it is more than incongruous.
prox (p 274)
Short for proximo - Latin, next [month] - a common abbreviation in business correspondence of the time.
alderman (p 274)
One of the chief magistrates of a city, especially the City of London, next in status after the mayor. Since local government was put in the hands of elected councils in the 19th century, it has become a largely honorary title. As aldermen were mostly prosperous middle-aged men, and their chief duty as aldermen was to attend formal dinners, they were rarely lean.
Blue Anchor in Knightsbridge (p 276)
Knightsbridge is one of the main shopping streets in the West End. Currently there are only two pubs named Blue Anchor listed in the London phone book: one is in Bromley High Street and the other in Chancery Lane, neither of them anywhere near the West End.
vice-president in charge of the beer-engine (p 276)
This is an old joke, but Wodehouse builds up to it very nicely. Beer-engine is an old way of saying beer-pump, the apparatus that gets the beer from the barrels in the cellar to the customers glass.
peroxide (p 276)
Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) was often used as a bleaching agent to lighten the colour of hair.
up and doing with a heart for any fate (p 276)
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! --
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our heats, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead
Act,- act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead.
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
a forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us then be up and doing,
with a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
[Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth (1807-1882) A Psalm of life ]
French general ... taxicabs (p 277)
On 7 and 8 September 1914, a fleet of twelve hundred commandeered taxis was used to transport part of the garrison of Paris to reinforce the French forces at the battle of the Ourcq, part of the first battle of the Marne. The general responsible for the operation was Galieni, commandant of the fortress of Paris. One of these "Marne taxis" has been preserved in the Hotel des Invalides.
Hurst Park (p 277)
Racecourse near the Thames in Surrey, also the scene of duels and prizefights in the 18th and 19th centuries, and motorcycle races in the early years of the 20th. Now a housing development. The former grandstand was moved to Mansfield Towns football ground in the 1960s.
Wimbledon Rotunda (p 278)
A common enough cinema name - there is a modern cinema complex of that name in nearby Kingston-on-Thames, but I don't know if Wimbledon ever had one.
come in like a leopardess and was now a lambkin (p 278)
Proverbially, the month of March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.
shop-walkers from Harrods and sergeants in the guards (p 279)
A shop-walker was a supervisor or head of department in a large store; Harrods, on Knightsbridge, is of course the grandest of Britains (Egypts, nowadays...) department stores. The guards regiments of the British army have their London base at Knightsbridge Barracks. Guards sergeants could also be expected to be fairly haughty. However, note that Wodehouse has his tongue firmly in his cheek - however proud and haughty the sergeants and shop-walkers are, none of Wodehouses readers would take them to be gentlemen. They are firmly in the upper servant class.
Will you present me? (p 279)
Poor Billson is making a terrible faux-pas, and Oakshott, who should know better, is only encouraging him in his error. Billson should have presented Oakshott to Flossie, not Flossie to Oakshott.
No lady is ever, except to the President of the United States, a cardinal, or a reigning sovereign, presented to a man.
[Post, Emily Etiquette (1922) II]
Sir Gregory Dalrymple (p 279)
Dalrymple is a Scottish name, without an obvious Wodehouse connection.
a Shropshire Pobleigh (p 279)
Pobleigh doesn't seem to exist either as a personal name or a placename. Still, the hint of Shropshire suggests that it might be worth a closer look. Similar-sounding places (not very similar...) in the vicinity of Stableford incude Folley, Rowley, Bromley and Catstree. There's also Mike's and Psmith's (fictitious) school, Sedleigh, and Powick where one of Wodehouse's uncles lived.
Lady Slythe and Sayle (p 279)
Duke of Walmer (p 279)
Walmer is a castle on the Kent coast. There doesn't appear ever to have been a Duke of Walmer.
Devonshire Dalrymples (p 280)
Wodehouse seems to be intent on peopling Devonshire with Scots - George Abercrombie in "Crime Wave at Blandings" is also a Devonian.
cadet branch (p 280)
The descendants of a younger son or brother. Wodehouse himself was a member of a cadet branch, being descended from the younger brother of the first Baron Wodehouse.
The Level Business Head (pp 285 to 312)
First published in Liberty (US) and The Strand (UK), both in May 1926. Appeared in book form in Lord Emsworth and Others (UK) and Eggs, Beans and Crumpets (US). Page references are to the UK first edition of Lord Emsworth and Others, where the story runs from pp 285 to 312.It is not clear why Herbert Jenkins chose not to put the three Ukridge stories in Lord Emsworth and Others in order of first publication date, especially when "Ukridge and the Home from Home" contains a reference back to the events of this story (see p 235 above).
Baxter (p 285)
This is the third name Aunt Julia's butler has had in the three Ukridge stories collected in Lord Emsworth and Others! He was Barter in "Ukridge and the Home from Home" and Oakshott in "The Come-Back of Battling Billson."
beaker ... stoup of port (p 285)
In this context, both beaker and stoup are deliberately archaic terms for drinking vessels. Port is a strong, dark-red wine from Oporto in Portugal, often served at the end of a meal in upper-class British homes and institutions.
"She has never let you invite me here before" (p 285)
Very possibly. However, Ukridge did once trick his aunt into inviting Corky to Wimbledon herself - see "First Aid for Dora" in Ukridge.
less than the dust beneath my chariot wheels (p 286)
Less than the dust, beneath thy Chariot wheel,
Less than the rust, that never stained thy Sword,
Less than the trust thou hast in me, Oh, Lord,
Even less than these!
Less than the weed, that grows beside thy door,
Less than the speed, of hours, spent far from thee,
Less than the need thou hast in life of me.
Even less am I.
Since I, Oh, Lord, am nothing unto thee,
See here thy Sword, I make it keen and bright,
Love's last reward, Death, comes to me to-night,
[Hope, Laurence (1865-1904) Kashmiri Song ]
haggis (p 286)
Traditional Scottish peasant dish, comprising oatmeal and various internal organs of a sheep cooked in the stomach of the unfortunate animal.
ginger-beer wire (p 286)
See p 228 above
I will tell you the story... (p 286)
This passage looks as though it must contain a number of allusions, but so far there is no convincing explanation of their source. Just possibly it is simply a clever assembly of clich s to illustrate Ukridge's grandiose style.
story ... journey: this sounds a little as though it might come from Kipling, but there is no trace of it in his works.skies never so black: This phrase occurs among other places in the bible commentaries of the famous Baptist preacher CH Spurgeon (1834-1892), suggesting that it might be a pulpit clich of the period.
tempests may lour: Perhaps Longfellow's "Excelsior" - "Dark lowers the tempest overhead"? But the louring/lowering of tempests also seems to be somthing of a poetic cliché.
Bedford Street Bodega ... old tawny (p 287)
Bedford Street, WC2, is a side-street of The Strand, in the Covent Garden district of London. This is still an area with many wine-bars and restaurants. It is not very far from the former site of Romano's, the restaurant favoured by the members of the Pelican Club.A bodega is a Spanish grocery or wine-shop. Outside Spain, it normally means a basement wine-bar with bullfight posters and flamenco music. Tawny port is a blend of port from different years, matured together in the cask.
Waterloo Cup (p 288)
The Waterloo Cup is the main event in the controversial "sport" of hare coursing, where two greyhounds compete to chase a live hare across a field. The aim is for the dog to force the hare to change direction, but it often happens that the dogs catch and kill the hare. The event has been held at Great Altcar near Ormskirk in Lancashire since 1836, when it was established by William Lynn, landlord of Liverpool's Waterloo Hotel. With the British government finally making a serious attempt to ban hunting with dogs in England, it is possible that the event may have been held for the last time in March 2002, although it is argued that a ban on such organised events would encourage unregulated illegal coursing.
Murgatroyd's in Bond Street (p 289)
Either fictitious or no longer there. The best-known jewellers in Bond Street are probably Asprey's, but there are at least twenty others.
bureau (p 289)
A writing desk, especially the type which has a folding writing flap.
up the spout (p 290)
To put something up the spout is to pawn it: many pawnbrokers used to have a lift connecting the shop with the store-room which was known as the spout. By extension, pawnshops were often called spouts.
Barter ... Baxter (p 290)
The editor really was asleep when this was printed: here Aunt Julia's butler has two different names in the space of five lines.
Pewmonia (p 291)
Pneumonia - the 'p' is normally silent
Pen and Ink Club (p 292)
Ukridge had sabotaged a previous dance of the Pen and Ink Club in Ukridge sees her through. In The Indiscretions of Archie, there is a New York gentlemen's club called The Pen-and-Ink. We attend a dreadful Pen and Ink Club lunch with Leila Yorke in The Ice in the Bedroom.There may have been a real writers society, at least in the USA, with this name, but presumably Wodehouse intends with this to poke fun at the P.E.N. Club, whose members he regarded as taking themselves far too seriously.
Lewes Races (p 294)
The racecourse at Lewes in Sussex was last used in 1964.
Sandown (p 296)
The racecourse at Sandown Park, near Esher, Surrey, on the southern fringes of London, is still in operation. Sandown Park would only be about an hours walk from Aunt Julia's house, but still, it seems unlikely that Ukridge would have saved any money by staying overnight in an hotel at Lewes to wait for Joe's lift rather than take a thirty mile rail journey back to Wimbledon.
plough the fields and scatter (p 302)
We plough the fields and scatter
The good seed on the land,
But it is fed and watered
By God's almighty hand:
He sends the snow in winter,
The warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes and the sunshine,
And soft, refreshing rain.
[Claudius, Matthias (1740-1815; tr, Jane Montgomery Campbell) Hymn v.1]
roopiness (p 302)
Hoarseness - roupy seems to be mainly a northern and Scottish dialect word, but Wodehouse uses it occasionally.
legal fare (p 310)
Aunt Julia is clearly not the sort of person to approve of tipping.