Thank You, Jeeves
P. G. Wodehouse
Literary and Cultural References
This is part of an ongoing effort by the members of the Blandings Yahoo! Group to document references, allusions, quotations, etc. in the works of P. G. Wodehouse.
Thank You, Jeeves was originally annotated by Mark Hodson (aka The Efficient Baxter). The notes have been reformatted somewhat and extended by other members of the group, notably Neil Midkiff [NM in notes below] and Ian Michaud [IM], but credit goes to Mark for his original efforts, even while we bear the blame for errors of fact or interpretation.
Thank You, Jeeves was published by Herbert Jenkins in the UK on 16 April 1934 and as Thank You, Jeeves! by Little, Brown in the US on 23 April 1934. For once, both used the same title other than the exclamation point (which had appeared in both magazine serials).
Page references in these notes are based on the 1999 Penguin Edition; page numbers with ? are approximate locations for newly inserted notes.
Preface (Ch.0; page 0)
As Wodehouse says, Thank You, Jeeves was the first full-length novel featuring Jeeves and Bertie. They had previously appeared in the story collections My Man Jeeves (1919), The Inimitable Jeeves (1923), Carry On, Jeeves! (1925). and Very Good, Jeeves! (1930).
Miss Spelvin (Ch.0; page 0)
The poet Rodney Spelvin was reformed by golf in three stories in 1924–5, but suffered a relapse in 1949. [Also, in Summer Moonshine, the first husband of the Princess von und zu Dwornitzchek was a Mr. Spelvin, Elmer Chinnery’s partner in the glue business. In theatrical circles, “George Spelvin” is a common pseudonym for an actor who doesn’t want to be credited in the program under his own name. —NM] [There was also an off-stage Doctor Spelvin in “The Luck of the Stiffhams.” —IM]
Lord Jasper Murgatroyd (Ch.0; page 0)
Murgatroyd was a name Wodehouse often used for characters mentioned in passing – it is one of those names that seems to fit equally well to aristocrats (the style Lord Jasper Murgatroyd implies that he is the younger son of a duke) or to butlers and stablemen. The only important character called Murgatroyd is the red-haired Mabel.
[But see ”The Kind-Hearted Editor” for another reference to the character name. Wodehouse’s Jaspers are often baronets and usually heavies, whether financiers like Sir Jasper Addleton (“The Smile that Wins”) and Sir Jasper Todd (“Big Business”), wicked guardians like Sir Jasper ffinch-ffarrowmere (“A Slice of Life”), or just evildoers like Sir Jasper Murgleshaw (“The Baronet’s Redemption”). —NM]
Murgatroyd is originally a West Yorkshire name. The place formerly known as Moorgateroyd lies near Luddendenfoot in Calderdale (a royd was a clearing in a wood).
Baronets called Murgatroyd appear most famously in Gilbert & Sullivans Ruddigore, or the Witchs Curse (1887). Sir Jasper (3rd Baronet) is listed as one of the ghosts in the famous picture gallery scene, although he doesnt have an individual speaking part.
[Garrison, Daniel H., Whos Who in Wodehouse (1991) ]
machines recorded on wax (Ch.0; page 0)
Rosie M. Banks writes her stories this way – see Clustering Round Young Bingo (1925).
hemispheres corpus collosum (Ch.0; page 0)
In human beings, the left hemisphere of the brain is dominant in analytical tasks and language, and controls the right side of the body; the right hemisphere is specialised in things like spatial tasks and emotion, and controls the left side of the body. Presumably the implication is that the construction of the plot is a right-hemisphere task, but writing the text belongs to the left hemisphere.
As Wodehouse says, the corpus callosum handles most communication between the two. If it is damaged, then the two hemispheres of the brain act somewhat independently of each other. This was established in some famous experiments on cats performed by Nobel laureate Roger Sperry in the early 1960s; Wodehouse presumably wrote this preface around the time that Sperrys work was published. [The preface first appeared in the 1975 Barrie & Jenkins edition. —NM]
Oh what a noble mind is here oerthrown (Ch.0; page 0)
This is Ophelia, talking about the supposedly-mad Hamlet, who has just told her to go into a nunnery. It is perhaps a little harder for us to think of Wodehouse as The glass of fashion and the mould of form.
O! what a noble mind is here oerthrown:
The courtiers, soldiers, scholars, eye, tongue, sword;
The expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,
The observd of all observers, quite, quite down!
And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
That suckd the honey of his music vows,
Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh;
That unmatchd form and feature of blown youth
Blasted with ecstasy: O! woe is me,
To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!
[Shakespeare, William (1564–1616) Hamlet III:i, 132–143]
Chapter 1 (Ch.1; page 1)
Jeeves Gives Notice
Runs from pp.1 to 10 in the 1999 Penguin Edition
banjolele (Ch.1; page 1)
The banjolele or banjo-ukulele is a hybrid instrument that first appeared in 1918, the first type being patented by Alvin D. Keech (Keech used the trade-name Banjulele, so later imitators had to come up with new variants of the name). Banjoleles are tuned and strung like ukuleles, with four gut strings, but they have a hoop with vellum stretched over it, like a banjo, thus allowing them to produce a louder sound than a standard ukulele. (Theres a lot of American history in this instrument – the banjo was developed from their traditional instruments by African slaves and the ukulele by Hawaian islanders.)
The instrument was made famous in particular by George Formby (1904–1961), probably the most successful British entertainer of the thirties and forties. It is difficult to imagine the fastidious Bertie singing Formbys suggestive lyrics, though...
Ignatius Mulliner, The Man Who Gave Up Smoking, plays Old Man River on a standard ukulele.
The third of the links below takes you to a picture of Mike Skupin playing the banjolele at a Wodehouse convention in the USA.
J. Washburn Stoker (Ch.1; page 1)
Phelps notes that Wodehouses lawyer at the time of his tax actions of 1948–51 was Watson Washburn. It’s not clear if he was already acting for Wodehouse in 1934. [Yes, it seems that he was. McCrum: Wodehouse: A Life, p.219; 1933 correspondence from agent Reynolds to Wodehouse mentioning Washburn, in McIlvaine N46.25, N46.31. —NM]
Stoker might have been named for the 19th century American wire manufacturer and philanthrophist, Ichabod Washburn, founder of Washburn University.
[Phelps, Barry, P.G. Wodehouse: Man and Myth (1992) 26,190–191]
Old Man River (Ch.1; page 1)
Song from the musical Show Boat (1927, Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II), written for and made famous by the African-American lawyer, political activist, actor and singer, Paul Robeson (1898–1976). [In the revised version of “Big Business” from A Few Quick Ones (1959), a Small Bass at the Anglers’ Rest argues that the first word of the title is “Old” while a Light Lager prefers “Ol’.” Mr. Mulliner suggests that Mr. Oscar Hammerstein, the lyricist, preferred Ol’, and this is supported by the sheet music. —NM]
Sir Roderick Glossop (Ch.1; page 2)
The prominent nerve specialist and his daughter, Honoria, first appeared in The Inimitable Jeeves. Glossop is a town in Derbyshire. [For the full saga up to this point, read “Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch” in The Inimitable Jeeves, “The Rummy Affair of Old Biffy” and “Without the Option” in Carry On, Jeeves!, and “Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit” in Very Good, Jeeves! Sir Roderick reappears in Uncle Fred in the Springtime (briefly), How Right You Are, Jeeves / Jeeves in the Offing, and “Jeeves and the Greasy Bird” in Plum Pie. —NM]
Lord Chuffnell (Ch.1; page 2)
This seems to be a name that Wodehouse invented. It doesnt correspond to any British placename, and I have found no reference to it on the web that is not related to this book.
Tinkler-Moulke (Ch.1; page 3)
This seems to be her only appearance in the canon.
Tinkler is a variant of Tinker that occurs occasionally as a British surname, Moulke is rare as a name, perhaps an anglicisation of a German name.
Sherry-Netherland (Ch.1; page 3)
Elegant New York hotel at 781 Fifth Avenue, overlooking Central Park. It was built for Louis Sherry and Lucius Boomer in 1927 (architects Schultze & Weaver) to replace the New Netherland Hotel of 1892. When it opened, the 38-storey building was the worlds tallest apartment-hotel. Some of the decoration in the lobby comes from the demolished Vanderbilt mansion.
Keats Chapmans Homer Cortez (Ch.1; page 3)
Jeeves fails to point out to Bertie that Keats famously got it wrong: it was Balboa, not Cortez, who was the first European to see the Pacific Ocean from Panama.
Much have I travelld in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browd Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He stard at the Pacificand all his men
Lookd at each other with a wild surmise
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
[Keats, John (1795–1821) On first looking into Chapman’s Homer ]
the Wedding Glide (Ch.1; page 4)
Song, “The Wedding Glide” by Louis A. Hirsch, performed by Shirley Kellogg in “The Passing Show of 1912” (Winter Garden New York) and “Hullo, Ragtime!” (London Hippodrome).
Parlour maids and nurse maids banish their pride
Throw their arms around his neck and do the wedding glide
[Hirsch, Louis A. The Wedding Glide ]
cats and fish stolen hat (Ch.1; page 5)
See “Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch”; also in The Inimitable Jeeves as two chapters: “Introducing Claude and Eustace/Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch”
Punctured hot water bottle (Ch.1; page 5)
See Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit
sponge-bag trousers and gardenia (Ch.1; page 5)
Formal morning apparel suitable for a wedding; see explanation and illustrations of these black-and-gray-striped trousers. [NM]
Ben Bloom Alhambra (Ch.1; page 5)
Ben Bloom and his Baltimore Buddies seem to be fictitious.
The Alhambra Theatre on Leicester Square was the first of Londons big music halls, opening ca. 1865.
the germ of dementia praecox (Ch.1; page 6)
Nowadays the term dementia is used to describe an irreversible deterioration in brain function, the result of various medical conditions (senile dementia, Alzheimers disease, Parkinsons disease, etc.). Dementia praecox (premature dementia) was the 19th century term used for the severe personality disorders that we now call schizophrenia.
Eugen Bleuler established in 1908 that these illnesses were not linked to an irreversible brain deterioration, and introduced the new term schizophrenia to describe them more accurately. It is thus unlikely that Sir Roderick, in the 1930s, would use the term Dementia praecox. Nowadays, schizophrenia patients often respond well to antipsychotic drugs.
There doesnt seem to be any evidence of the existence of a schizophrenia germ – modern science seems to lean more towards the idea of a schizophrenia gene.
You ought to be certified! (Ch.1; page 6)
The legal basis for the care of people with mental illnesses was established in the late nineteenth century (Lunacy Act 1890). Certifying someone insane allowed them to be detained against their will in a poor-house or asylum. The Mental Treatment Act, 1930, moved the emphasis to treatment, and provided for voluntary mental patients, so it would no longer have been necessary for Bertie to have been certified (assuming he was willing to undergo treatment).
In the current trade jargon, patients who need to be detained against their will are sectioned under Sections 2, 3 or 4 of the Mental Health Act 1983.
Shakespeare Treasons, stratagems, and spoils (Ch.1; page 7)
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not movd with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.
[Shakespeare, William (1564–1616) Merchant of Venice V:i, 93–98]
pluck out the Pom which is in her own eye (Ch.1; page 7)
Pom = Pomeranian dog, of course.
1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
[Bible Matthew 7:1–5]
The Wedding of the Painted Doll (Ch.1; page 8)
Song by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown from the 1928 film Broadway Melody, the first all-singing, all-dancing Hollywood musical. This film was originally conceived as a biopic about the Duncan sisters, who, as Wodehouse describes in Bring On the Girls, were supposed to star in one of his shows, but went off to do Topsy and Eva instead.
Most of the songs Bertie lists in this section are still copyright. However, you can find the lyrics to most of them on the web or performances of them at youtube.com.
Singin in the Rain (Ch.1; page 8)
Song by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown from the 1929 film Hollywood Revue of 1929. Like Wedding of the Painted Doll, it was later re-used in the 1952 Gene Kelly film Singin in the Rain.
Three Little Words (Ch.1; page 8)
Song by Harry Ruby and Bert Kalmar, from the 1931 show of the same title. This one was also recycled in the fifties, in the Fred Astaire film Three Little Words (1950), based on the career of Ruby and Kalmar.
My Love Parade (Ch.1; page 8)
Song by Victor Schertzinger and Clifford Grey from the 1929 film The Love Parade.
Goodnight, Sweetheart (Ch.1; page 8)
Song by Ray Noble from the early 1930s. Yet again, this song came back as a hit in the fifties.
Spring Is Here (Ch.1; page 8)
Song from the 1929 show of the same title by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.
Whose Baby Are You? (Ch.1; page 8)
Song from the 1920 show The Night Boat by Jerome Kern and Anne Caldwell. It is curious that, even when he plays a Kern song, Bertie doesnt choose one with Wodehouse lyrics here. Obviously a bit of Wodehouse modesty!
I Want an Automobile With a Horn That Goes Toot-Toot (Ch.1; page 8)
Unidentified so far. There are many songs from the period about automobiles, of course.
the Honourable Mrs. Tinkler-Moulke (Ch.1; page 8)
Honourable in this case is a courtesy title indicating that Mrs. Tinkler-Moulke is the daughter of a peer below the rank of Earl. In theory, she could also be a High Court judge, a government minister (not being a Privy Councillor), or Lord Provost of Glasgow, but in the 1930s there were few, if any, women in these positions.
Notice how Wodehouse creates comic effect by having Bertie use in informal speech a title that would normally only be used in the written form (e.g. for addressing an envelope). It immediately makes Mrs T-M seem pompous and self-important.
Lieutenant-Colonel J. J. Bustard, DSO (Ch.1; page 8)
The bustard (otis tarda) is the largest European bird, extinct in the British Isles since the 1830s, despite recent attempts to reintroduce it on Salisbury Plain. Bustard occurs occasionally as a real English surname, but Wodehouse presumably chose it for its associations with turkey-like pomposity (cf bluster as well).
In The Ordeal of Osbert Mulliner, Sir Masterman Petherick-Soames claims to have horsewhipped Rupert Blenkinsop-Bustard on the steps of his club, the Junior Bird-Fanciers.
One might suppose that there is an allusion to the character Col. Mustard in the board game Cluedo (Clue in the US – trademark of Hasbro in both cases), but this game only appeared for the first time in 1947, having been invented by Anthony Pratt in 1943.
The D.S.O. (Distinguished Service Order) is a military decoration first awarded in 1886. Once again, Bertie makes the colonel ridiculous by being over-specific for the context.
Sir Everard and Lady Blennerhassett (Ch.1; page 8)
This was originally an English name, possibly Cumbrian, although all modern Blennerhassetts claim descent from the Anglo-Irish landowner Robert Blennerhassett, who settled at Blennerville in County Kerry in the late 16th century.
Sir Marmaduke Blennerhassett (1902–1940), 6th baronet, who was killed in action in the second world war, had an even better name than his fictional counterpart, although Wodehouse is more likely to have come across his father, Sir Arthur (1871–?). It is unusual for Wodehouse to use a real title in this way – possibly it was an accident. There is no evidence that he knew the Blennerhassetts.
Blennerhassett Island in West Virginia takes its name from Harman Blennerhassett (1765–1831), who was involved in the Burr conspiracy.
Mr. Manglehoffer (Ch.1; page 8)
This seems to be an invented name, although it sounds like a plausible anglicisation of a German or Jewish name: Mangel from German Mangold, a type of beet (or, less probably, from Mangel, want, shortage); and -hofer (originally Hofherr, i.e. proprietor, farmer), which is a common suffix in southern Germany and Austria.
A cottage ... if possible, honeysuckle-covered (Ch.1; page 8 or 9)
A cliché of romantic fiction, important in Wodehouse’s 1925 short story “Honeysuckle Cottage.” [NM]
Gospodinoff Ripley (Ch.1; page 9)
Robert Leroy Ripley (1890–1949) started out as a newspaper cartoonist and baseball player. He came up with the Believe it or Not idea when working for the New York Globe, later moving to the Hearst group and expanding the newspaper cartoon into books, exhibitions (Odditoriums) and, most famously, a radio show.
The development of Believe It or Not from a newspaper space-filler to a huge industry is often cited by outsiders as the ultimate expression of the American obsession with the trivial, but Wodehouse was clearly a fan, and often uses Ripleyesque items in his writing, especially the Our man in America pieces for Punch.
I havent found any confirmation of the Gospodinoff item. Bagpipes (gaida) are prominent in traditional Bulgarian music. [Online newspaper archives show that Gospodinoff was featured in the May 6, 1930 “Believe It or Not” panel and explained more fully in the May 7 “Yesterday’s Explanations” footnotes. The day-long dance was “many years ago” in the Old World; Gospodinoff was living in Greenwich, Connecticut in 1930. Real-estate transaction notices in Connecticut papers show an Elia G. Gospodinoff as recently as 2012, so the family seems to have settled in for good. —NM]
Mussolini (Ch.1; page 10)
Benito Mussolini (1883–1945) became Prime Minister of Italy in October 1922. He rapidly did away with the democratic process and concentrated power in his own hands, but people in Britain and America generally paid more attention to his economic success than to his human rights abuses until 1935, when his invasion of Ethiopia led to strong international condemnation (but no action). Writing in 1934, Wodehouse is simply using him as a symbol of authoritarianism.
Battle of Crécy (Ch.1; page 10)
At Crécy, in northern France, on 26 August 1346, Edward III of England defeated Philip VI of France in the early stages of the Hundred Years War. This victory made the English capture of Calais in the following year possible.
Do I mean truckling? (Ch.1; page 10)
Yes, he does.
A truckle-bed is a low bed on castors that can be rolled under another bed when not in use. The verb truckle, which originally simply meant to sleep on such a bed, had taken on a figurative sense of lying down unworthily or cowering by the late seventeenth century.
Chapter 2 (Ch.2; page 11)
Runs from pp 11 to 17 in the 1999 Penguin Edition
the lemon-coloured (Ch.2; page 11)
Lemon-coloured gloves were the mark of a dandy; the poet Browning in his twenties was described as “slim and dark, and very handsome, and . . . just a trifle of a dandy, addicted to lemon-coloured kid gloves and such things.” [NM]
I wonder if I have ever told you about Chuffy? (Ch.2; page 11)
No, this is the first mention of him in the Wooster saga. He reappears in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1963) and is mentioned in the book versions of “Jeeves and the Greasy Bird” (Plum Pie and The World of Jeeves). [NM]
private school, Eton and Oxford (Ch.2; page 11)
In this context private school means what in England and Wales is now usually called a preparatory school, i.e. a school that prepares young children to take the public school entrance examinations, usually when they are about 13 years old. Such schools are commonly run as commercial ventures. Elsewhere, we are told that Berties early education was at Malvern House, under the Rev. Aubrey Upjohn.
Public school in England and Wales (but not in Scotland or North America) refers to a small group of independent schools, usually having their origins in medieval charitable foundations, decently obscure for centuries, which in Victorian times took on the role of defining Britains future ruling élite. To be sent there you merely had to have wealthy parents; once you had been there, you were a gentleman. Eton College, on the Thames near Windsor, is the oldest public school in England. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as The Kings College of Our Lady of Eton beside Windsor.
Oxford University was in existence by the twelfth century. Berties college, which is elsewhere said to be Magdalen, was founded in 1448 by William of Wayneflete.
Chuffnell Regis Somersetshire (Ch.2; page 11)
The Somersetshire coast extends along the southern shore of the Bristol Channel from Bristol to Exmoor. There are several well-known seaside resorts, including Weston-Super-Mare, Burnham-on-Sea, Watchet and Minehead.
The only seaside resorts in Britain with the suffix Regis (Kings) are Bognor, in Sussex, and Lyme, in Dorset.
Dower House (Ch.2; page 12)
A house, usually in the grounds of a larger house, but at a safe distance from it, intended as a residence for the widow (dowager) of the former head of the family.
Seabury (Ch.2; page 12)
An unusual name for a British boy – Samuel Seabury (1729–1796), the first American bishop in the Episcopal Church, has lent his name to many institutions in the USA, but is essentially unknown in Britain.
Carlton (Ch.2; page 12)
The Carlton Hotel was opened by Ritz and Escoffier in 1899.
on the edge of the harbour not a neighbour within a mile (Ch.2; page 13)
On the face of it, this sounds unlikely. In most places with a harbour, the harbour will have been the focus of economic activity, so one expects the village to be clustered around it.
If we take the mile as an exaggeration, one place that might fit could be Minehead, where the town is stretched out along a sandy bay, but the harbour is tucked in under the cliffs at the far end, leaving little room for building.
Like Chuffnell Regis, Minehead was also the property of a single family – the Luttrells – and although quite small, it would have had enough holiday visitors to support a summer theatre.
Police Sergeant Voules (Ch.2; page 14)
The best-known Voules in the canon is of course the man behind the wheel of the Blandings Hispano-Suiza. Reggie Peppers valet and the stand-in clergyman in The Small Bachelor are among the others.
Stirling Voules (1843–1923), who came from Somersetshire, played cricket for Oxford University in the 1860s, but seems to have retired from first-class cricket well before Wodehouses time.
[Garrison, Daniel H., Whos Who in Wodehouse (1991) ]
parted brass rags (Ch.2; page 14)
Naval expression: ratings used to share a bag of polishing rags with a colleague (a “raggie”), so parting brass rags was a consequence of separating after a disagreement. Apparently.
high road low road (Ch.2; page 14)
O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road,
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye,
But me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomon’.
[Anonymous Loch Lomond (traditional Scottish song) ]
accepted his portfolio (Ch.2; page 14)
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 valet to do this is delightfully incongruous.
bite the bullet (Ch.2; page 14)
Said to come from the practice of giving wounded soldiers a bullet to bite on while surgery was performed.
nigger minstrels (Ch.2; page 14)
Note: the word nigger is nowadays considered offensive by many people. It has consequently been deleted or replaced in some recent US editions. In the thirties, this was the usual word for this kind of entertainment, and it would not have occurred to Wodehouse that it would offend some of his readers.
[As far as I am aware, the only times this word is used pejoratively in Wodehouse to refer to people of African descent are when it is being spoken by American characters who are shown up by Wodehouse as being racially prejudiced. In other words, he uses it realistically, as Mark Twain did. In the mouths of sympathetic characters like Bertie, or in Wodehouse’s narrative voice, the word seems always to refer to white minstrel performers in blackface, and is used without any appearance of animosity. Black characters are generally called something else, for instance “the coloured chappie in charge of the elevator” in “Jeeves and the Chump Cyril.” See also the first Kid Brady story for an early look at how the young Wodehouse reacted to American racial prejudice. —NM]
Minstrel shows first appeared in the USA in 1830, and the vogue had reached Britain by the 1840s. They involved white musicians made up as caricatures of black people from the South of the USA, performing songs and ritualised jokes in an exaggerated dialect. The songs of Stephen Foster (1826–1864) soon took over as the core of the repertoire.
The format persisted in Britain for a long time – it was only in 1978 that the BBC finally acknowledged the racist implications of the Black and White Minstrel Show. However, by the 1930s minstrel shows were no longer the dominant form of seaside entertainment.
follow the green line (Ch.2; page 15)
This injunction, from the idea of painting a green line on the floor, wall or pavement to guide people to a particular destination, must already have been a cliché by the early 1920s – the Art Steel Company in the Bronx were using it as an advertising slogan for their green-painted filing cabinets, and the Scott Fitzgerald example below has the air of referring to something that would have been well-known to readers. I havent been able to identify the origin of the practice, but it seems to be more an American than a British idea.
The Townsends had determined to assure their party of success, so a great
quantity of liquor had been surreptitiously brought over from their house
and was now flowing freely. A green ribbon ran along the wall completely
round the ballroom, with pointing arrows alongside and signs which instructed
the uninitiated to “Follow the green line!” The green line led
down to the bar, where waited pure punch and wicked punch and plain dark-green
[Fitzgerald, F. Scott: “The Camels Back” (Saturday Evening Post, 21.2.1920)]http://www.sc.edu/fitzgerald/
soup and fish (Ch.2; page 16)
Gentlemens formal evening dress.
when my toilet was completed (Ch.2; page 16)
In other words, “when I had finished dressing.” The word toilet originally referred to a light cloth used to protect clothes (as during hairdressing) or to cover a dressing-table, then to the table itself and the articles found there (comb, brush, etc.), then to the act of dressing and grooming, or the clothing or hairstyle itself (often toilette); later to a dressing room, sometimes having washing facilities. Its use as a euphemism for lavatory or water-closet began in America in the late nineteenth century but was rare in Britain until the mid-twentieth century. [NM]
meet at Philippi (Ch.2; page 17)
Brutus: There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
Cassius: Then, with your will, go on;
Well along ourselves, and meet them at Philippi.
[Shakespeare, William (1564–1616) Julius Caesar IV:3, 249–257]
July the fifteenth (Ch.2; page 17)
For reference in later discussions of time of day, assuming the location of Minehead as above, dawn on 15 July would be at 04:33 British Summer Time, sunrise at 05:17, sunset at 21:22, dusk ending at 22:06. [NM]
Chapter 3 (Ch.3; page 18)
Re-enter the Dead Past
Runs from pp 18 to 26 in the 1999 Penguin edition.
Chapter title: the Dead Past (Ch.3; page 18)
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 hearts, 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!
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;—
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 ]
gasper (Ch.3; page 19?)
a cheap cigarette [NM]
Rogues Gallery (Ch.3; page 20)
The name normally used for the police collection of photographs of known criminals.
Young Thos. (Ch.3; page 20)
Aunt Agathas dreadful son appeared in Jeeves and the Impending Doom (1926) being tutored by Bingo Little, and again in Jeeves and the Love that Purifies (1929). Later reappears in The Mating Season.
Thos. was a conventional abbreviation for Thomas, seen frequently over the doors of shops, etc., but incongruous in spoken language. His family name is presumably Gregson, the name of Aunt Agathas first husband.
Mr. Blumenfields Junior (Ch.3; page 20)
See Jeeves and the Chump Cyril in The Inimitable Jeeves and Jeeves and the Dog McIntosh in Very Good, Jeeves.
Sebastian Moon (Ch.3; page 20)
See Jeeves and the Love that Purifies in Very Good, Jeeves.
Bonzo (Ch.3; page 20)
Also appears in Jeeves and the Love that Purifies in Very Good, Jeeves.
and the field (Ch.3; page 20)
An echo of racing reports.
nif (Ch.3; page 21)
Smell – slang, esp. among schoolboys. The OED cites this as one of the first uses in print. It may possibly be derived from sniff. [Spelled “niff” in the Strand and Cosmopolitan serials and in the US book. —NM]
five shillings (Ch.3; page 21)
25p in modern coin – A largish sum for a schoolboy in those days, with the buying power of about £16 today.
something Lady Chuffnell had picked up en route (Ch.3; page 23)
As she is Lady Chuffnell, the marriage resulting in Seabury must have been prior to her marriage to the late Lord C. Seabury presumably cant be more than 12 or so, which suggests that her marriage to Lord C must have been rather brief.
it’ll be in the Morning Post in a day or two (Ch.3; page 24)
The Morning Post was a conservative London newspaper, noted for its attentions to the activities of the powerful and wealthy, and recognized as “the medium for all London society announcements” (New York Times, Feb. 14, 1901). [NM]
getting Aunt Myrtle off this season (Ch.3; page 24)
This is an echo of the language usually associated with the parents of debutantes. The season was the period of the year when aristocratic families moved into their London houses and took their daughters to a series of balls to meet eligible young men. By the thirties, all but the wealthiest had been forced to sell off their London mansions, but the idea of a London season persisted until the fifties.
Our Humble Heroines (Ch.3; page 24)
??? This sounds as though it might be the title of a patriotic film or a wartime poster, but I havent been able to trace it yet.
[Maurice Maeterlinck, in The Life of the Ant (1930), refers to the fertile females: “our humble heroines find it easier than we do to modify, in case of need, their fundamental laws, or even to reverse them, adapting themselves to circumstances, and turning these to account.”
[An article in the Pittsburgh Press, July 13, 1933, about the lack of realism in hair and makeup of Hollywood actresses, says that “even in such ‘homey’ pictures as ‘Peg O’ My Heart’ and ‘State Fair,’ our humble heroines are on every beauty parlor secret.” —NM]
fifteen thousand quid (Ch.3; page 25)
Roughly equivalent in buying power to £1 million today. [NM]
get outside (Ch.3; page 25)
Wodehouse didn’t invent this humorous inversion of putting food or drink inside oneself, but he certainly helped to popularize it, beginning in 1906; see “How Kid Brady Joined the Press” and the endnote there on this phrase. [NM]
Dwight (Ch.3; page 25)
Nowadays we associate this name mostly with Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890–1969), Second World War general and later President of the USA. However, in 1934 he was an obscure professional soldier unknown outside military circles.
The name owes its original popularity in the USA to the Baptist minister Timothy Dwight (b. 1752), who was president of Yale University in the late 18th century. Was Wodehouse perhaps reading about American church history when he wrote Thank You, Jeeves?
[Ian Michaud notes: in Piccadilly Jim an assortment of Rollos, Clarences, Dwights and Twombleys were frisking around Ann on the boat crossing the Atlantic and later we discover that Willie Partridge’s father was the famous inventor Dwight Partridge. There was an artist called Robert Dwight Penway in The Coming of Bill. And a few years before Thank You, Jeeves, in Big Money a different Ann told Twombley Burwash (“You know. The Dwight N. Burwashes”) that she would only consider marrying him if he hit a policeman, a task Twombley declined to take on.]
Chapter 4 (Ch.4; page 27)
Annoying Predicament of Pauline Stoker
Runs from pp 27 to 36 in the 1999 Penguin.The chapter heading sounds as though it might be an indirect reference to the famous 1914 silent film serial The Perils of Pauline, in which Pearl White was forever being tied to railway tracks.
removed the lid (Ch.4; page 27)
In the days when gentlemen wore hats, it was considered polite to take ones hat off when greeting someone. The gesture is said to be a survival of knights wearing helmets; more likely it is just a way of giving the other party a clear look at your face so that they can decide for themselves that you look harmless.
under the ether (Ch.4; page 27)
Colonel Wooster (Ch.4; page 27)
David Wooster (1711–1777), a Connecticut man, served in the British army against the French and the native Americans. In 1775, he resigned his commission as colonel of a Connecticut militia regiment to become a general in the revolutionary army of the American colonists. He was mortally wounded in action in the Quebec campaign.
Masters of Hounds (Ch.4; page 28)
The Master of [Fox-]hounds (MFH) is the person in charge of a fox hunt. Masters traditionally have red faces, loud voices and short tempers, but, hunting being a dangerous activity, they presumably have to be competent organisers, good at ordering people around. The title Master is used equally for men and women, as Wodehouse implies.
scratch the entire fixture (Ch.4; page 29?)
Sporting terminology for “cancel the whole event.” [NM]
Soul’s Awakening (Ch.4; page 30)
[A sentimental portrait by James Sant (1820–1916) of his young niece (or great niece) Annie Kathleen Rendle, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1888 and widely reproduced in engravings and prints. —NM]
Also used as the title of a book by Rudolf Steiner (published 1922). [The Steiner book is probably not relevant, as Wodehouse was referring to the look of the portrait in stories as early as 1911. The other artwork previously noted here, “a sentimental mezzotint engraving by Charles John Tomkins (1847–1897), published by Graves in 1892,” is listed in a guide to artworks as a companion piece to The Soul’s Awakening. —NM]
You find the girl, and he does the rest. (Ch.4; page 30)
A takeoff on the longtime Kodak advertising slogan “You press the button, we do the rest”— famous in Britain as well as America since 1890 at least. [NM]
Janet Gaynor (Ch.4; page 31)
(Laura Gainor, 1906–1984) Film actress. Made her debut in The Johnstown Flood (1926), and was one of the few silent actors to do well in talkies. Her biggest success was the 1937 version of A Star Is Born. She was described as a waif with large innocent eyes.
mot juste (Ch.4; page 34?)
French for the “exact word” that expresses the intended meaning. Wodehouse often attributes this goal, correctly, to novelist Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880, best known for Madame Bovary), who argued that careful choice of the right word was the key to literary realism and an essential truth in writing. [NM]
Marmaduke (Ch.4; page 34?)
A masculine name, derived from Irish Gaelic, with comical upper-class English overtones according to thinkbabynames.com. [NM]
Like “Murgatroyd” in the preface, Marmaduke is a name found in Gilbert and Sullivan. The elderly baronet (but, somewhat surprisingly, not a “bad baronet”) Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre is the tenor’s father in The Sorcerer. [IM]
how the other half of the world lives (Ch.4; page 34?)
The phrase can be traced back to the title of a 1752 satirical book, Low-life: Or One Half of the World Knows Not how the Other Half Lives...— one of those interminable eighteenth-century titles that fill the title page. The authorship is variously attributed to William Hogarth and to Thomas Legg. The phrase became popular again in 1890 with the publication of How the Other Half Lives, a pioneering work of photojournalism by Jacob Riis documenting conditions in New York tenements. [NM]
king in Babylon ... Christian slave (Ch.4; page 35)
Or ever the knightly years were gone
With the old world to the grave,
I was a King in Babylon
And you were a Christian Slave.
I saw, I took, I cast you by,
I bent and broke your pride.
You loved me well, or I heard them lie,
But your longing was denied.
Surely I knew that by and by
You cursed your gods and died.
And a myriad suns have set and shone
Since then upon the grave
Decreed by the King of Babylon,
To her that had been his Slave.
The pride I trampled is now my scathe,
For it tramples me again.
The old resentment lasts like death,
For you love, yet you refrain.
I break my heart on your hard unfaith,
And I break my heart in vain.
Yet not for an hour do I wish undone
The deed beyond the grave,
When I was a King in Babylon
And you were a Virgin Slave.
[Henley, William Ernest To W.A. ]
charging into a railway restaurant for a bowl of soup (Ch.4; page 36)
This image dates back to Wodehouses younger days – the advent of corridor trains and restaurant cars on most routes around 1900 put an end to the old practice of meal stops on long railway journeys.
[The modern equivalent is found on long-distance bus journeys when the driver pulls in to a highway truck-stop to give the passengers a short meal-break. —IM]
Chapter 5 (Ch.5; page 37)
Bertie Takes Things in Hand
Runs from pp 37 to 44 in the 1999 Penguin edition
whereabouts ... at the wash (Ch.5; page 37)
Wodehouse had Lord Marshmoreton laughing over this gag from a newspaper in Chapter VI of A Damsel in Distress. [NM]
a sentiment deeper and warmer than that of ordinary friendship (Ch.5; page 38?)
Wodehouse uses this phrase often enough that I had always taken it to be a stock phrase of Victorian proposals, but there is little available evidence for the phrase in full before him. In Horatio Alger’s A Fancy of Hers (1892), one man writes to his friend about a young woman he is interested in: “If I am not too precipitate, I hope that esteem may pave the way for a deeper and warmer sentiment.” A platonic friendship between German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher and Henrietta Herz was described by her (quoted in a review published in 1860): “There were…people who, knowing the intimacy that existed between us, suspected that it was based upon a warmer sentiment than friendship. They were mistaken.” And this is as close as I can find until “The Truth About George” (1926), “Jeeves and the Spot of Art” (1929), this novel, and “Dumb Chums at Riverhead,” one of his Punch columns (Sept. 7, 1955) about a breeding pair of armadillos. In Right Ho, Jeeves, Bertie uses the similar phrase “sentiment warmer and stronger than that of ordinary friendship.” [NM]
a worm i the bud (Ch.5; page 39)
She never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm i’ th’ bud,
Feed on her damask cheek.
[Shakespeare, William (1564–1616) Twelfth Night II:iv, 110]
[In Hot Water (1932) we learn that Blair Eggleston is the author of the novel Worm i’ the Root. —IM]
love laughs at locksmiths (Ch.5; page 39)
This expression seems to be proverbial. It has been used as the title of several plays and operas, most notably by George Colman the Younger (1762–1836).
Benstead (Ch.5; page 39)
Benstead/Binstead was a favourite Wodehouse name, obviously inspired by Arthur the Pitcher Binstead (1846–1915), founder and chronicler of the Pelican Club.
Kid Lazarus, the man without a bean (Ch.5; page 39 or 40)
Not the Lazarus of Bethany, raised from the dead in chapter 11 of the Gospel of John, but rather the poor man Lazarus of Luke 16:19–31, who longed to eat the crumbs that fell from the table of a rich man. [NM]
plenty of bust blokes have married oofy girls (Ch.5; page 40?)
“Oof” was late-Victorian slang for money, so “oofy” means wealthy. [NM]
musical comedy Lord Wotwotleigh (Ch.5; page 42)
Seems to be invented. [The name is a takeoff on the upper-class English stock phrase “What? What?”; see note for page 204? below. —NM]
continue to do business at the old stand (Ch.5; page 43)
This phrase often appears in advertisements from around the turn of the century when a business has been taken over by a new owner. It seems to be more American than British.
you really are sure it is damask? (Ch.5; page 43)
The word damask has been used in English to describe many disparate items associated with the city of Damascus. In modern use, it normally refers to textiles, especially the twilled white linen used for tablecloths and the like, hence Berties bewilderment.
Shakespeare was using it to describe the colour of the damask rose. Apparently there is some doubt as to precisely which varieties of rose were covered by this name, but everyone agrees that they were red.
[Wodehouse has one of his characters misquote this to great effect. Colonel Wedge, in chapter 6 of Full Moon, is worried that his daughter Veronica is brooding because Tipton Plimsoll is diffident about proposing to her. He quotes the Shakespeare passage as “let concealment, like a worm i’ the bud, feed on her damned cheek.” As a bluff military man, the phrase “damned cheek” (meaning roughly “blasted impertinence”) would come to mind more easily than the archaic “damask”. —NM]
half-bot of the best (Ch.5; page 44)
Half-bottle (of wine).
Chapter 6 (Ch.6; page 45)
Complications Set In
Runs from pp 45 to 63 in the 1999 Penguin edition
Master Dwight Master Seabury (Ch.6; page 45)
Master was the title used when it was necessary to address a young boy formally. Jeeves would naturally use this form, to indicate their status as guests of his employer.
imbroglio (Ch.6; page 46)
Confusion, entanglement (Italian)
the subject of socks (Ch.6; page 47)
Jeeves and Bertie have had a number of disputes on this delicate subject, notably in Startling Dressiness of a Lift Attendant (in The Inimitable Jeeves, the chapter which concludes the short story “Jeeves and the Chump Cyril”).
Sonny Boy Beefy Binghams Church Lads (Ch.6; page 47)
See Jeeves and the Song of Songs in Very Good, Jeeves. The Rev. Rupert Beefy Bingham is one of the handful of characters who link the world of Jeeves with that of Blandings – he later marries Lord Emsworths niece Gertrude and becomes vicar of Much Matchingham.
The Church Lads and Church Girls Brigade was founded in 1891 as an Anglican counterpart to the secular Boy Scout movement, and still exists. They appear in a number of stories, most notably in Service with a Smile, where Lord Emsworth sabotages their tents.
It was one of those things that want doing quickly or not at all (Ch.6; page 48?)
If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well
It were done quickly...
[Shakespeare, William (1564–1616) Macbeth I:vii, 1–2] [NM]
Homburg (Ch.6; page 48)
A soft felt hat with a curled brim and a dented crown, named after the spa near Wiesbaden. Made popular by Edward VII as Prince of Wales in the 1890s.
stout Cortez (Ch.6; page 49)
See p. 3 above.
in his kick (Ch.6; page 49)
In his pocket (19th century British slang). cf. Summer Moonshine Ch. 1: She slung your brother Joe out. And with only ten dollars in his kick, mind you.
hoofing his daughters kisser (Ch.6; page 49)
In Wodehouse hoof as a verb normally means either to go on foot, or to dance (on stage). Another occasional meaning is to throw out, or eject, someone. Here, Wodehouse seems to be using it to mean kick. Presumably he resorts to this because he has already used kick in a quite different sense a couple of sentences previously.
Bertie, as usual, is digging himself in too deep linguistically – kisser can mean either mouth or person who kisses. The sensible interpretation here is the latter, but on first reading the phrase we get a fleeting impression of Stoker trying to decide which of the two he can kick. Knowing Wodehouse, this ambiguity is deliberate.
Size nine-and-a-quarter (Ch.6; page 51)
British hat sizes are based on the diameter of the head in inches. The largest standard size is 7 3/4 (63 cm). Size 9 1/4 would be about 75 cm! (US sizes are slightly smaller than British ones, but look similar; if Bertie is using a US size, it would be about 73cm...).
port the last of the 85 (Ch.6; page 51)
Wine-growers in Europe were starting to recover from the devastation of phylloxera and mildew by the early 1880s; 1885 was one of the first years since 1845 when significant quantities of good quality wine could be produced.
Two bottles of 1885 port were sold recently (Oct. 2000) for $250 each.
storm-tossed soul harbour (Ch.6; page 53)
This may be a reference to an evangelical hymn – if so I havent been able to trace it yet. Storm-tossed soul is a cliché of religious language.
muffins (Ch.6; page 53)
These would of course be the English type, small, flat cakes made from bread dough and dried fruit, and eaten toasted with butter.
coaching his college boat (Ch.6; page 56)
Oxford and Cambridge colleges have their own rowing clubs, which compete against each other within the university. When rowers are training, the coach generally cycles alongside, shouting abuse through a megaphone from the towpath.
immuring (Ch.6; page 57)
Imprisoning (literally: walling in)
special licence (Ch.6; page 60)
This can mean two different things. In the Anglican church, a special licence may be granted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to allow a couple to marry in a church other than that of the parish where one of them lives.
What Bertie is referring to is almost certainly a special licence from the Registrar, which allows a civil marriage to take place with only one days notice, instead of the usual three weeks.
Boat Race Eustace H. Plimsoll (Ch.6; page 61)
The Oxford and Cambridge boat race takes place on a four and a half mile course on the Thames (between Mortlake and Putney), on a Saturday during the Easter vacation. It was first held in 1829.
Eustace H. Plimsoll seems to be the first appearance of the name Plimsoll in the canon: Veronica Wedges fiancé, Tipton Plimsoll, first appears in Full Moon (1947). Bertie seems to have come to grief on boat-race night a number of times in his career. Alleyn Road exists: it is just round the corner from Acacia Grove, which Norman Murphy [In Search of Blandings] identifies as the setting for most of the Valley Fields novels. It is curious that on this occasion Bertie chose the middle-class West Dulwich rather than the more obscure East Dulwich normally used for false addresses by the likes of Lord Ickenham (Uncle Dynamite).
a solitary steak and fried (Ch.6; page 62?)
Fried potatoes, of course. UK editions from the original 1934 plates have the misprint “friend” here (p. 89). A similar error, “friend potatoes,” was made in the first UK edition of Indiscretions of Archie (1921). [NM]
measuring me for my lamp-post (Ch.6; page 62)
Dickens introduced English readers to the Parisian practice of hanging people from streetlamps in A Tale of Two Cities.
sprinting down Park Lane with the mob after me with dripping knives (Ch.6; page 62?)
Comrade Prebble, in chapter 15 of Psmith in the City, addresses a crowd on Clapham Common, who “roared with happy laughter when he urged them to march upon Park Lane and loot the same without mercy or scruple.” In “Comrade Bingo” Bingo Little has fallen in love with the daughter of a revolutionary; he tells Bertie: “You must meet old Rowbotham, Bertie. A delightful chap. Wants to massacre the bourgeoisie, sack Park Lane, and disembowel the hereditary aristocracy.” [NM]
thirty miles or so to Bristol (Ch.6; page 63)
This would put us somewhere west of Bridgewater, on the stretch of coast at the northern end of the Quantocks. There is nowhere on this part of the coast with a harbour. Watchet and Minehead would be 40–45 miles from Bristol.
heliotrope (Ch.6; page 63)
Name given to flowers that turn to follow the sun, especially heliotropium, and hence also to the rich purple colour of these flowers.
Chapter 7 (Ch.7; page 64)
A Visitor for Bertie
Runs from pp 64 to 71 in the 1999 Penguin edition
woman wailing for her demon lover (Ch.7; page 67)
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 ]
the story of the Three Bears (Ch.7; page 69)
This famous story seems to have appeared first in the collection English Fairy Tales (1890), by the Australian-born scholar Joseph Jacobs (1854–1916). In Jacobss version it is a little old woman who visits the bears cottage; Goldilocks seems to have been added later.
had his licence endorsed (Ch.7; page 69)
A motoring reference: before the introduction of points, motorists who were convicted of certain types of driving offence had their driving licences endorsed; collecting too many endorsements would lead to revocation or suspension of the licence.
Obviously Bertie doesnt count being engaged as incompatible with his bachelor status, otherwise he would have lost his licence long ago...
Portland, Oregon (Ch.7; page 71)
On the West coast of the United States, roughly 2500 miles from New York City.
Chapter 8 (Ch.8; page 72)
Runs from pp 72 to 83 in the 1999 Penguin edition
wild surmise, silent upon (Ch.8; page 72)
This is the third(!) reference to Keatss famous sonnet, so far in this book (see p.3).
first-floor back (Ch.8; page 72)
In British terminology, the first floor is the first above the ground floor (i.e. what Americans call the second floor). Thus a first-floor back is an upstairs room or apartment, looking out towards the rear of the house.
Carterville (Ch.8; page 73)
There are at least twelve different places of this name in the US. Only those in Illinois and Missouri are of appreciable size. There does not appear to be a Carterville in Kentucky, however.
Albert Hall (Ch.8; page 75)
The construction of this concert and meeting hall in South Kensington in 1867 was one of the public projects undertaken with funds raised by the Great Exhibition of 1851. It is a large, circular building, topped by a shallow dome.
presidential veto (Ch.8; page 76?)
Bertie’s reference to American constitutional law is somewhat unusual for him, but it appears this way in all versions, both British and American. [NM]
the Mail (Ch.8; page 76)
The Daily Mail was established in 1896 by Alfred Harmsworth (1865–1922). The Mail was Britains first American-style lowbrow popular newspaper. It was famous for its outspoken criticism of government, especially during the first world war.
Harmsworth became Lord Northcliffe in 1904, and may well have been the original for Wodehouses Lord Tilbury.
[Strand serial just says “the paper” here; Cosmopolitan serial omits the passage altogether. —NM]
indictable offences (Ch.8; page 76)
Crimes too serious to be tried at a Magistrates Court, which have to be referred for trial by jury in a Crown Court.
sofa Noahs (Ch.8; page 78)
Bertie is using Noah to stand for antediluvian (which literally means before the Flood).
There is no biblical authority for the idea that Noah took a sofa with him in the Ark. As he would hardly have been likely to cater for unexpected overnight guests, it seems at least implausible.
The point is pretty moot (Ch.8; page 79)
A moot (from an Anglo-Saxon word for a meeting or assembly) is a mock-trial in which law students discuss a hypothetical case. Hence, in normal British usage, a moot point is something debatable, open to argument. Bertie might equally be using the phrase with its American meaning, of something that is only of academic interest, not relevant to the outcome of the present case – both would fit.
gardener-by-the-day (Ch.8; page 80)
A part-time worker, in modern terms.
Widgeon Seven (Ch.8; page 80)
Norman Murphy, in A Wodehouse Handbook, identifies Bertie’s two-seater with the Austin Seven, one of the most popular British small cars, made from 1922 to 1939, and probably with one of the open-topped Sports models. [NM]
Nosey Parkers (Ch.8; page 83)
Although the term ‘Nosey Parker’, applied to overly-inquisitive persons, is in common use, its origins are unclear. The first instances recorded in the OED dates from an 1890 magazine story and an 1896 news article; cited in 1907 is a picture post card with the caption ‘The adventures of Nosey Parker’; another entry in the OED is from Wodehouse’s Something Fresh (1915). [citations updated 2016 from OED Third Edition online —NM]
Partridge (A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English) notes that, according to the OED, ‘nosey’ on its own dates from 1851, and ‘parker’, a rabbit living in a park, from 1846, and quotes a suggestion that it may have arisen at the time of the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park, when the huge crowds of inquiring visitors could have attracted correspondingly large numbers of Peeping Toms and eavesdroppers. Another theory links the phrase to Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury at the time of Elizabeth I, who was noted for his enquiring attitude concerning church affairs.
Chapter 9 (Ch.9; page 84)
Runs from pp 84 to 93 in the 1999 Penguin edition.The chapter title is certainly a reference to the famous song from Twelfth Night:
O mistress mine, where are you roaming?
O stay and hear! your true-love’s coming
That can sing both high and low;
Trip no further, pretty sweeting,
Journeys end in lovers’ meeting
Every wise man’s son doth know.
What is love? ’tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What’s to come is still unsure:
In delay there lies no plenty,
Then come kiss me, Sweet-and-twenty,
Youth’s a stuff will not endure.
[Shakespeare, William (1564–1616) Twelfth Night II:3]
bump-supper (Ch.9; page 86)
This is to do with “eights week,” the inter-college rowing competition in Oxford University. As the river Isis (elsewhere known as the Thames, don’t ask why...) at Oxford isn’t wide enough for two eights to race side by side, the boats of all the various colleges set off equally spaced in line astern.
If the bow of your boat catches up with the stern of the boat ahead, you are said to have “bumped” them, and you move up one place in the line in the following day’s race. The aim is to end up at the “head of the river” at the end of the week. A bump-supper is a celebration of such a victory. Traditionally the winning boat is ceremonially burnt in the quad – these days they’re rather too expensive for that.
college fountain (Ch.9; page 86)
As Norman Murphy points out, Bertie normally claims to have been at Magdalen, which does not have a fountain. The other plausible candidate for someone of Berties wealth and aristocratic connections is Christ Church, which does have a famous fountain with a statue of Mercury.
In Right Ho, Jeeves, Bertie is said to have cycled round the quad in the nude after a bump-supper: it isnt clear whether this was directly after his dip in the fountain, or on a different occasion.
amour-propre (Ch.9; page 87)
leaving not a wrack (Ch.9; page 88)
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.
demon lover (Ch.9; page 89)
Coleridge again – see p.67 above.
barefoot dancer The Vision of Salome (Ch.9; page 90)
The Canadian dancer Maud Allan or Maude Allen (1873–1956), who went in for barefoot Greek dancing, toured Europe with a very successful dance version of Wildes Salome under the title The Vision of Salome in 1906. It seems to have been banned in a large proportion of the cities where it was performed. [Cf. Lady Pauline Wetherby in Uneasy Money. —NM]
the word in season (Ch.9; page 90)
A word spoken in due season, how good is it!
[Bible Proverbs 15:23]
Wodehouse titled a 1940 short story “The Word in Season”; it was substantially revised for A Few Quick Ones (1959). [NM]
Tennyson Norman blood (Ch.9; page 90)
Howeer it be, it seems to me,
T is only noble to be good.
Kind hearts are more than coronets,
And simple faith than Norman blood.
[Tennyson, Alfred Lord (1809–1892) Lady Clara Vere de Vere 7]
borrowing other peoples speak (Ch.9; page 91)
This is a misprint in the Penguin/Vintage editions. The complete text, with line-breaks as in earlier editions, reads:
climbing into cottages and borrowing other people’s
pyjamas, and then, when she has come to journeys end, so to
speak, and is expecting the tender smile
The Penguin compositors have simply dropped a line. [And a significant one, too, as “journey’s end” recalls the Twelfth Night quotation at the start of the notes for this chapter. —NM]
Saint Sebastian (Ch.9; page 91)
An early Christian martyr, according to legend a Roman soldier who was executed by being shot through with arrows. Medieval paintings usually show him with so many arrows piercing him from different directions that one feels the firing squad must have been at serious risk of shooting each other. [Mark’s point is well illustrated by this 1506 painting by Andrea Mantegna. —NM]
toes wiggling (Ch.9; page 92)
Cf. Psmith in the City, Ch.23 (Mr. Bickersdyke has been bearded by Psmith in the Turkish Bath): his toes wriggled. And when a mans toes wriggle, he is interested in what you are saying.
Black Berkshires (Ch.9; page 93)
The Empress of Blandings, who first appeared in Pig Hoo-o-o-o-ey (1927), is of course a black Berkshire sow.
Uncle Henry (Ch.9; page 93)
In Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch we were told that he kept eleven pet rabbits in his bedroom.
Are you hurt? Yes Good (Ch.9; page 93)
In Blandings stories, young men falling downstairs normally (unless they are Baxter) bring out the ministering angel tendency in their estranged girlfriends. Pauline is clearly made of sterner stuff. Or the staircase isnt high enough to do serious damage
sack of coals (Ch.9; page 93)
In many older houses, coal was kept in the cellar. A chute was provided to allow the stock to be replenished by tipping it in from outside without carrying coal through the house. The delivery of coal would be accompanied by suitably spectacular noises.
Chapter 10 (Ch.10; page 94)
Runs from pp 94 to 101 in the 1999 Penguin edition.
Daniel in the lions den (Ch.10; page 94)
16 Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the
den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou
servest continually, he will deliver thee.
17 And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.
18 Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep went from him.
19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.
20 And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?
21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.
22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.
23 Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.
24 And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.
[Bible Daniel 6:16–24]
the permanent air (Ch.10; page 95)
To give someone the air is to throw them out.
wind and weather permitting (Ch.10; page 98?)
The phrase is found in maritime law and ships’ timetables in its literal sense: if the prevailing conditions make a voyage possible. Wodehouse may have found it in a literary context in Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821):
The late Duke of Norfolk used to say, “Next Monday, wind and weather permitting, I purpose to be merry”
Early editions have “by the blessing of Heaven” in place of this phrase and “drunk” instead of “merry”; the version above seems to be from a bowdlerized source, a book of quotations for students.
In any event, Wodehouse found the phrase useful on many occasions; it can be found as early as 1901 in “The Ways We Have: Dulwich” and 1904 in “The Baronet’s Redemption” and “Blenkinsop’s Benefit”, and later in Three Men and a Maid / The Girl on the Boat, this novel, Joy in the Morning, “The Shadow Passes,” Pigs Have Wings, Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit / Bertie Wooster Sees It Through, Service With a Smile, and probably several others not found in a scattered search. [NM]
I have only one daughter (Ch.10; page 99)
This is one of those famous inconsistencies – in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1963), we meet Paulines younger sister, Emerald, who has to take a job as a cook when she loses her allowance on the horses.
There are various possible explanations, of which the most charitable is perhaps the assumption that the hard-boiled J. Washburn Stoker does not let himself be distracted by irrelevancies as readily as Bertie, and means I have only one daughter here in Chuffnell Regis.
She regards me as a sister. (Ch.10; page 99)
Of course, we are supposed to assume that Bertie means as a sister [would regard me]. But Wodehouse has evidently left the ambiguity in on purpose, so that we can have a laugh at Berties verbal confusion, and at the same time reflect that Berties role is in many ways more that of a sister or female friend than a brother.
returned to my spot (Ch.10; page 100)
When we first read this sentence, we assume spot means the place where Bertie had been before Stoker came in. However, the next couple of sentences upset this hypothesis, and we are have to go back and read it again before we realise that Bertie means A spot of whisky-and-soda.
an egg a rasher pot of coff (Ch.10; page 101)
Breakfast: eggs, bacon, and coffee. Pot of coff sounds as though it might be waiters shorthand.
joie de vivre (Ch.10; page 101)
French: joy of being alive, happiness.
Chapter 11 (Ch.11; page 102)
Sinister Behaviour of a Yacht-Owner
Runs from pp 102 to 113 in the 1999 Penguin edition
gone to the mat together (Ch.11; page 102)
Wrestlers go to the mat when they fight.
I Lift up my Finger and I Say Tweet-Tweet (Ch.11; page 102)
Seems to have been one of the big hits of 1929, written by Leslie Sarony and recorded by Stanley Lupino and the Gaiety Theatre Orchestra (amongst others).
Body and Soul (Ch.11; page 102)
Song, music by Johnny Green and lyrics by Edward Heyman, Robert Sour, and Frank Eyton. First performed in the UK by Gertrude Lawrence. Later used in the show “Three’s a Crowd,” where it was sung by Libby Holman and became a big hit for her. Many famous jazz musicians have recorded it since then.
in irons (Ch.11; page 102)
Naval term for detention aboard ship. Did not necessarily mean that the prisoner was manacled.
not the first time he had said that sort of thing (Ch.11; page 102?)
yestreen (Ch.11; page 103)
Scots word for yesterday evening. Frequently used by Burns.
I gaed a waefu gate yestreen,
A gate, I fear, Ill dearly rue;
I gat my death frae twa sweet een,
Twa lovely een obonie blue.
[Burns, Robert Song (I gaed a waefu gate yestreen) 1–4]
mangle a spot of garbage (Ch.11; page 106)
Have dinner. Presumably Bertie is paraphrasing Stokers words rather freely here!
cats in the bedroom … purloined hat (Ch.11; page 106–07)
See “Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch”; also in The Inimitable Jeeves as two chapters: “Introducing Claude and Eustace/Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch”
hot-water bottle episode (Ch.11; page 106–07)
See Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit.
arbiter elegantiarum (Ch.11; page 107)
Latin: the judge of propriety or taste. A title originally applied by Tacitus to the Latin poet Gaius Petronius (? – 66 CE), who was an official in Neros household and is presumed to be the author of the Satyricon.
amende honorable (Ch.11; page 107)
In medieval France, this was a ceremony of public humiliation reserved for people who had committed certain serious offences. Later the term came to be used for a public apology and acknowledgement of guilt. In modern English it more often means a tangible (rather than symbolic) act of reconciliation. Jeeves seems to be talking only about this meaning.
What is This Thing Called Love? (Ch.11; page 109)
Music and lyrics by Cole Porter, from the show Wake up and Dream (1929).
a passing salt (Ch.11; page 110)
A seaman. More the sort of term for the crew of a Conradian tramp steamer than the pampered personnel of a luxury yacht, of course.
one grand, sweet song (Ch.11; page 110?)
ONE GRAND SWEET SONG
Charles Kingsley (1819–1875)
My fairest child, I have no song to give you,
No lark could sing ’neath skies so dull and gray,
But, if you will, a quiet hint I’ll give you
For every day, for every day.
I’ll teach you how to sing a clearer carol
Than lark that hails the dawn or breezy down;
To win yourself a purer poet’s laurel
Than Shakspere’s crown.
Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever.
Do noble things, not dream them all day long;
And so make life, death, and that vast forever
One grand, sweet song.
Wodehouse has young Harold memorizing this poem in “Keeping It from Harold” (1913). [NM]
Cowes (Ch.11; page 112)
Cowes is a town on the Isle of Wight. Cowes Week, a yachting regatta that takes place there in early August, has long been firmly established as one of the important social events of the summer season for the English upper classes. Wealthy people invite guests for the week to watch the racing from their private yachts.
they cant get away so easy (Ch.11; page 112?)
Perhaps Wodehouse is thinking of his experience on the Dorinda here?
[Wodehouse, P. G., Bring On the Girls (1953/54), collected in Wodehouse on Wodehouse (1980) BOTG Ch.8]
Chapter 12 (Ch.12; page 113)
Start Smearing, Jeeves
Runs from pp 113 to 124 in the 1999 Penguin edition
The Masked Seven (Ch.12; page 113)
For once, no-one other than Wodehouse seems to have used this title.
Drexdale Yeats (Ch.12; page 113)
The Crockers in Piccadilly Jim live in Drexdale House on Grosvenor Square during their spell in London. The name Drexdale doesnt appear to occur anywhere else. It is not a UK placename (the nearest seems to be Drax, in East Yorkshire).
Drexdale Yeats might be a variant of Sexton Blake, the fictional detective created for Alfred Harmsworths Halfpenny Marvel Library in 1893. It has been estimated that Blake appeared in 3848 stories by 177 different writers over the years.
It also sounds a little as though it might be a nod towards Wodehouses fellow comic writer, Dornford Yates (Cecil William Mercer, 1885–1960), author of the Chandos thrillers as well as the comic stories featuring Berry Pleydell and his friends.
Oliver Sipperley (Ch.12; page 119)
See Without the Option (Bertie was let off with a fine, but Sippy had to spend a couple of weeks as a guest of His Majesty).
the wings of a dove (Ch.12; page 120)
This is one of the most popular pieces from Mendelssohns oratorio, Elijah, but this passage has its origins in words written earlier by the great English hymn writer, William Cowper in his poem on Alexander Selkirk, the original of Robinson Crusoe.
Society, Friendship, and Love
Divinely bestow’d upon man,
Oh had I the wings of a dove
How soon would I taste you again!
My sorrows I then might assuage
In the ways of religion and truth,
Might learn from the wisdom of age,
And be cheer’d by the sallies of youth.
[Cowper, William Alexander Selkirk 17–24]
You can lead a horse to the altar (Ch.12; page 120)
The usual form of the proverb is You can lead a horse to water, but you cant make it drink.
The Roman emperor Caligula made his horse Incitatus a priest and consul, which could perhaps be seen as a precedent for leading horses to the altar!
the poet Pope (Ch.12; page 122)
(Alexander Pope, 1688–1744) said many things about womens characters, most of them unflattering. It is hard to guess what Jeeves is thinking of here, though of the list in Bartlett perhaps Womans at best a contradiction still. (Moral Essays, II,270) might be the most pertinent.
off his onion (Ch.12; page 123)
Off his head, i.e. mentally unbalanced.
squiffiness (Ch.12; page 123)
create the illusion that you were a member of this troupe (Ch.12; page 123)
As the real minstrels would almost certainly be white men in black make-up themselves, this disguise would not be as flimsy as one might think.
Others abide our question. Thou art free. (Ch.12; page 124)
Matthew Arnolds sonnet in praise of Shakespeare appears rather less often in Wodehouse than Keatss in praise of Chapman, but from Berties point of view it is a not inappropriate tribute to Jeeves.
Others abide our question. Thou art free.
We ask and ask: Thou smilest and art still,
Out-topping knowledge. For the loftiest hill
That to the stars uncrowns his majesty,
Planting his steadfast footsteps in the sea,
Making the heaven of heavens his dwelling-place,
Spares but the cloudy border of his base
To the foil’d searching of mortality;
And thou, who didst the stars and sunbeams know,
Self-school’d, self-scann’d, self-honour’d, self-secure,
Didst walk on earth unguess’d at. Better so!
All pains the immortal spirit must endure,
All weakness that impairs, all griefs that bow,
Find their sole voice in that victorious brow.
[Arnold, Matthew (1822–1888) Shakespeare ]
Chapter 13 (Ch.13; page 125)
A Valet Exceeds His Duties
Runs from pp 125 to 137 in the 1999 Penguin
The stars twinkled above … a few minutes after nine (Ch.13; page 125–6)
See note at p.17, above. Either Bertie’s watch was slow or British Summer Time (same as Daylight Saving Time in US) was not being observed in the vicinity. Sunset for BST would be 9:22 pm and dusk would end at 10:06 pm. [NM]
Greta Garbo (Ch.13; page 126)
Greta Garbo (born Greta Gustafsson, 1905–1990), the most famously beautiful film actress of the period. In 1932–3 she had returned from Sweden to Hollywood to make Queen Christina.
Dean Inge (Ch.13; page 126)
William Ralph Inge (1860–1954) was Dean of St Pauls from 1911 to 1934. He was well-known in his day as a gloomy and reactionary commentator on politics in the Evening Standard, although he is now best remembered (except by those who compile dictionaries of quotations) as a liberal theologian.
(If you want to imagine him in black-face, the link below takes you to the Laszlo portrait in the NPG.)
next train to London (Ch.13; page 127)
Once again, this suggests Watchet or Minehead, on the West Somerset branch of the GWR. This line makes a big loop to the south to join the main line to Bristol and London (Paddington) at Norton Fitzwarren near Taunton (avoiding the Quantocks): the coast between Bridgwater and Watchet never had a rail service. The West Somerset branch is now operated as a museum line by railway enthusiasts, so visitors can experience it much as it was in Berties day.
Bridgwater and Burnham-on-Sea were served by the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway, offering an alternative route to London (Waterloo).
drives nails into the back of his neck instead of using a collar stud (Ch.13; page 127)
Lord Ickenham makes this claim about the Duke of Dunstable in Uncle Fred in the Springtime (1939). [NM]
the 10.21 (Ch.13; page 127)
Nowadays, the last train from Taunton with a connection to London is at 21.27 (summer 2002). The journey between Taunton and London generally takes between two and a half and three and a half hours. Speeds on the section between London and Bristol have improved considerably since the thirties, so Berties train would have been unlikely to do it in less than three hours.
From Chuffnell Regis to Taunton, it is probably reasonable to add on another hour, so Bertie could scarcely have been back in London before three in the morning.
sitting-room lounge-hall (Ch.13; page 129)
These expressions of course raise the spectre of the U and non-U debate of the fifties. In a small cottage, it would have been absurd to talk about a drawing-room, (which Professor Ross would consider the U term) so Bertie uses the rather neutral term sitting-room. A working-class family living in a cottage would probably have talked about the front room, best room, or parlour.
Lounge is supposed to be very non-U, except when referring to hotels. However, Bertie clearly feels happy with the compound lounge-hall, which presumably implies that as well as acting as a sitting-room, the room contains the front door and the stairs to the upper floor.
[See Noblesse Oblige, edited by Nancy Mitford]
Five-Year-Planner (Ch.13; page 130?)
The Soviet government under Joseph Stalin instituted a series of five-year plans for organizing the national economy under central bureaucratic control; the first of these, in 1928–32, failed to meet its ambitious goals and is widely blamed for massive famines. [NM]
dropping like the gentle dew upon the place beneath (Ch.13; page 135)
The quality of mercy is not straind,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
T is mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest Gods,
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.
[Shakespeare, William (1564–1616) Merchant of Venice IV:i]
Robinson Crusoe Credit and Debit account (Ch.13; page 136)
I now began to consider seriously my Condition, and the Circumstance I was
reduc’d to, and I drew up the State of my Affairs in Writing, not so much
to leave them to any that were to come after me, for I was like to have but
few Heirs, as to deliver my Thoughts from daily poring upon them, and afflicting
my Mind; and as my Reason began now to master my Despondency, I began to
comfort my self as well as I could, and to set the good against the Evil,
that I might have something to distinguish my Case from worse, and I stated
it very impartially, like Debtor and Creditor, the Comforts I enjoy’d, against
the Miseries I suffer’d, Thus,
I am cast upon a horrible desolate Island, void of all hope of Recovery.
I am singl’d out and separated, as it were, from all the World to be miserable.
I am divided from Mankind, a Solitaire, one banish’d from humane Society.
I have not Clothes to cover me.
I am without any Defence or Means to resist any Violence of Man or Beast.
I have no Soul to speak to, or relieve me.
But I am alive, and not drown’d as all my Ship’s Company was.
But I am singl’d out too from all the Ship’s Crew to be spar’d from Death; and he that miraculously sav’d me from Death, can deliver me from this Condition.
But I am in a hot Climate, where if I had Clothes I could hardly wear them.
But I am cast on an Island, where I see no wild Beasts to hurt me, as I saw on the Coast of Africa: And what if I had been Shipwreck’d there?
But God wonderfully sent the Ship in near enough to the Shore, that I have gotten out so many necessary things as will either supply my Wants, or enable me to supply my self even as long as I live.
Upon the whole, here was an undoubted Testimony, that there was scarce any Condition in the World so miserable, but there was something Negative or something Positive to be thankful for in it; and let this stand as a Direction from the Experience of the most miserable of all Conditions in this World, that we may always find in it something to comfort our selves from, and to set in the Description of Good and Evil, on the Credit Side of the Accompt.
[Defoe, Daniel The Life and strange and surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe Ch. 1]
purchase a packet of milk chocolate from the slot machine ... (Ch.13; page 137)
For many years, Nestlé’s chocolate was sold at a penny a bar from red slot machines, especially at railway stations, in shop doorways and on piers.
A penny was the smallest unit in Britain’s pre-decimalisation currency – there were 12 pence (12d) in one shilling and 20 shillings (20s) in one pound. At decimalisation, one new pence (1p) was equivalent to 2.4 old pence.
Then he saw the indubitable form of his betrothed at a penny-in-the-slot
machine, and the indubitable form of Nellie at another penny-in-the-slot
machine. And then, he could hear the click-click-click of the machines, working
rapidly. And his thoughts took a new direction. Presently Ruth ran with blithe
gracefulness from her machine and commenced a generous distribution of packets
to the members of the crews. There was neither calculation nor exact justice
in her generosity. She dropped packets on to heroic knees with a splendid
gesture of largesse. Some packets even fell on the floor. But she did not
mind. Denry could hear her saying: You must eat it. Chocolate is so
sustaining. There’s nothing like it.
[Bennett, Arnold The Card Ch. 4]
scullerymaid (Ch.13; page 137)
Scullerymaids did the dirty work of washing up, preparing vegetables, etc. in the kitchens.
Chapter 14 (Ch.14; page 138)
The Butter Situation
Runs from pp 138 to 148 in the 1999 Penguin edition
a susurration of domestics (Ch.14; page 138)
Susurration, in modern use, most often refers to the gentle murmur of a breeze. However, it can also mean whispering, and used to have an implication of malicious gossip. Bertie is using it here as though it were a collective noun (cf. a pride of lions).
Lead, kindly Light (Ch.14; page 140)
This famous hymn, an excellent choice for a walk on a dark night, was written by J. H. Newman, one of the main figures of the 19th century Anglican revival known as the Oxford Movement, who later became a Roman Catholic Cardinal. The Oxford Movement, although led by upper-class intellectuals, had a strong element of socialism about it, and was most influential in working class parishes, so Brinkleys choice is perhaps not quite so surprising as one might think.
Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home—
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path; but now,
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.
So long Thy power hath blessed me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.
[Newman, J. H. (1801–1890) Hymn ]
.... thews and sinews .... (Ch.14; page 141)
Muscular strength. ‘Thews’ by itself used to mean the physical strength of a person, and was used in that sense by Shakespeare.
That villain, exclaimed the Dwarf,– that coldblooded, hardened,
unrelenting ruffian, – that wretch, whose every thought is infected with
crimes, – has thews and sinews, limbs, strength, and activity enough, to
compel a nobler animal than himself to carry him to the place where he is
to perpetrate his wickedness;
[Scott, Sir Walter The Black Dwarf Ch. 6]
move in a mysterious way, their wonders to perform (Ch.14; page 143)
...from J. H. Newman to William Cowper!
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
[Cowper, William (1731–1800) Hymn (1774) ]
deleterious animal magnetism (Ch.14; page 144?)
Animal magnetism was the name given by Franz Anton Mesmer (1734–1815) to an invisible force he theorized as emanating from animals, with healing powers. In experiments trying to establish his theory, he laid the foundations for the modern practice of hypnotism, though he could never prove the existence of the force. In more recent times, the term also refers to an attractive, winning personality or charisma. Bertie combines a negative adjective with it for a unique description of a lack of sympathy and understanding. [NM]
silent raspberry (Ch.14; page 144?)
Raspberry here means the rude noise of derision made by exhaling through the compressed lips, causing them to vibrate; also known as “Bronx cheer.” Chuffy is giving the equivalent impression of contempt without actually making any sound. [NM]
stearic matter (Ch.14; page 144?)
A more general term than just butter; it refers to a usually solid compound found in most animal and some vegetable fats; suet and lard contain high proportions of it, and it is used in the manufacture of soaps, candles, and many other products. [NM]
like a soiled glove (Ch.14; page 144? and 148)
Casting aside a discarded lover “like a soiled glove” has been a cliché of romantic fiction from Victorian times to the present day. Chuffy’s use of it shows that he is viewing Bertie’s attitude to Pauline in strictly conventional terms. Bertie gets some comic use out of it when he repeats it at the end of the scene, at Chuffy’s exit. [NM]
coughing like a respectful sheep (Ch.14; page 148)
In Ring for Jeeves, Jeeves is described as coughing like a sheep on a distant mountainside.
Chapter 15 (Ch.15; page 149)
Development of the Butter Situation
Runs from pp 149 to 159 in the 1999 Penguin edition
sine qua non (Ch.15; page 149)
Essential, indispensable. Latin without which [it is] not.
Came into English as the legal phrase conditio sine qua non (sometimes causa sine qua non), a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for something to happen.
Ouija board (Ch.15; page 150)
This is one of the best known types of talking board used by spiritualists. It comprises a board marked with letters, numbers, the words yes and no, etc. and a small moving platform or planchette, which is held by the participants. If messages from the spirit world appear, they are indicated by movement of the planchette to the appropriate letters on the board. The name – apparently it was or is a trademark – comes from the fact that a board marked in French and German would have the words oui and ja (yes) at the top left. The name seems to have been around since the mid-19th century.
Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis (Ch.15; page 152)
Times changing, we change with them (Latin)
This familiar hexameter is sometimes wrongly ascribed to Ovid. Brewer and Bartleby are almost certainly wrong in their assertions of its origins too. Georg Büchmann (Geflügelte Worte: Der Zitatenschatz des deutschen Volkes. 26. Auflage. Berlin 1918) suggests that it is the conflation of two different lines:
(i) omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis
(ii) Tempora permutas nec tu mutaris in illis.
Version (i) is ascribed by the 16th century German poet Matthias Borbonius to the Emperor Lothar I (795–855); version (ii) is by the 6th century grammarian Corippus. Büchmann identifies the first use of the line in the form Jeeves uses it as Proverbialia dicteria, And. Gartnerus, 1566.
It seems to have been in widespread use throughout Europe by the late 17th century. Wodehouse would also have known Tempora mutantur as the title of one of Gilberts Bab Ballads.
Letters, letters, letters, letters,
Some that please and some that bore,
Some that threaten prison fetters
Such as bind insolvent debtors)—
Invitations by the score.
One from Cogson, Wiles, and Railer,
My attorneys, off the Strand,
One from Copperblock, my tailor—
My unreasonable tailor—
One in Flagg’s disgusting hand.
One from Ephraim and Moses,
Wanting tin without a doubt,
I should like to pull their noses—
Their uncompromising noses;
One from Alice with the roses—
Ah, I know what that’s about!
Time was when I waited, waited,
For the missives that she wrote.
Humble postmen execrated—
Loudly, deeply execrated—
When I heard I wasn’t fated
To be gladdened with a note.
Time was when I’d not have bartered
Of her little pen a dip
For a peerage duly gartered—
For a peerage starred and gartered—
With a palace-office chartered,
Or a secretaryship!
But the time for that is over,
And I wish we’d never met.
I’m afraid I’ve proved a rover—
I’m afraid a heartless rover—
Quarters in a place like Dover
Tend to make a man forget.
Now I can accord precedence
To my tailor, for I do
Want to know if he gives credence—
An unwarrantable credence—
To my proffered I.O.U.!
Bills for carriages and horses,
Bills for wine and light cigar,
Matters that concern the Forces—
News that may affect the Forces—
News affecting my resources,
Now unquestioned take the pas.
And the tiny little paper,
With the words that seem to run
From her little fingers taper
(They are very small and taper),
By the tailor and the draper
Are in interest outdone!
And unopened it’s remaining!
I can read her gentle hope—
Her entreaties, uncomplaining
(She was always uncomplaining)—
Her devotion never waning
Through the little envelope.
[Gilbert, W. S. Tempora mutantur, as originally in Fun, July 15, 1865]A later edition of the same Ballad
pi-jaw (Ch.15; page 154)
Late 19th century schoolboy slang for a tedious lecture from an adult. Pi was a slang shortening of pious, a jaw was a talk.
Cabinet Minister swan (Ch.15; page 154)
The Minister was the Rt. Hon. A. B. Filmer, in Jeeves and the Impending Doom (1926; Very Good, Jeeves).
that life was stern and earnest and that time was passing (Ch.15; page 155?)
Recollecting the sentiments of the Longfellow poem, page 15 above.
Hyde Park … Community Singing (Ch.15; page 156?)
Getting large numbers of people to raise their voices together seems to have been popular in early 20th-century England for several different purposes. The League of Arts sponsored many such meetings for purely musical purposes (Musical Times, August 1, 1920, p. 532). Cinema audiences were encouraged to join in and “follow the bouncing ball” that pointed out the lyrics in rhythm on the screen, both in silent and in early talking pictures. But the ones Bertie is probably referring to were political rallies that used massed choruses of tens of thousands of common people to engender a spirit of solidarity with their cause. Both Socialist and Conservative rallies in the 1920s used this technique, obviously with different repertoire:
…the Socialists and Communists singing the “Marseillaise” and “The Red Flag”, the Anti-Socialist Union singing “John Peel” and “John Brown’s Body”.
The Sounds of the Silents in Britain, by Julie Brown and Annette Davison.
like a ton of coals (Ch.15; page 157)
On p.93 Bertie had used the more apposite sack of coals to describe Chuffys descent, so Mary is not quite stealing his material.
a dead stymie (Ch.15; page 158)
Golfing expression: in a situation where a putt is blocked by an opponent’s ball. The stymie has been obsolete since 1952 – a player was “laid a stymie” if, on the green, the opponent’s ball fell in the line of his path to the hole (providing the balls were not within 6 inches of one another). The player was not allowed to strike the opponent’s ball when putting his own ball.
The moving finger writes and, having writ (Ch.15; page 159)
The moving finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
[Khayyam, Omar (tr. Edward Fitzgerald) Rubaiyat 71]
Chapter 16 (Ch.16; page 160)
Trouble at the Dower House
Runs from pp 160 to 173 in the 1999 Penguin edition
Washington Square (Ch.16; page 160)
In Henry Jamess day, this was an exclusive residential district of Lower Manhattan – by the time Wodehouse lived there in the years before the first world war, Greenwich Village had become the artistic, bohemian quarter of New York City.
at my waistcoat … on the third button from the top (Ch.16; page 160)
Wodehouse often describes the location of the solar plexus, a sensitive nerve center in the abdomen, as at the third waistcoat button. A sampling follows. [NM]
The “mark,” it may be explained for the benefit of the non-pugilistic, is that portion of the human form divine which lies hid behind the third button of the waistcoat.
“The Manœuvres of Charteris” (1903)
Once … George had been smitten unexpectedly by a sportive playmate a bare half-inch below his third waistcoat-button. The resulting emotions were still green in his memory.
“Deep Waters” (1910)
Something bumped into the Wooster waistcoat just around the third button, and I collapsed on to the settee and rather lost interest in things for the moment.
“Jeeves and the Chump Cyril” (1918)
before the Board (Ch.16; page 160)
Probably a business expression (Board as in Board of Directors), although that isnt a field from which we should expect Bertie to pick up expressions.
about ten parasangs (Ch.16; page 160)
The parasang is a Persian unit of measure, approximately equal to three miles (5km). (Interestingly, the example in the Shorter OED for the figurative sense of parasang is taken from another Wodehouse story.)
in statu quo (Ch.16; page 160)
Another bit of legal Latin: To put things in statu quo ante (in the state which [applied] before) is to restore the situation to that existing before the acts in question.
Hymns of Hate (Ch.16; page 162)
This seems to be an allusion to Dorothy Parkers free verse squibs for Life magazine.[This was not the photojournalism magazine of the 1930s onward, but an earlier humor magazine. Parker’s Hate Songs had begun at Vanity Fair while she and Wodehouse were both writing for that magazine in the 1910s. —NM]
One example: A Hymn of Hate (“I Hate the Drama”) Life, May 5, 1921.
the iron entered my soul (Ch.16; page 162)
This expression seems to come originally from a mistranslation of Psalm 105:18 in the Prayer Book version:
17 But he had sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold to be a bond-servant;
18 Whose feet they hurt in the stocks; the iron entered into his soul;
The King James Version (below) has a more accurate translation of the Hebrew original.
The phrase conventionally expresses anguish and embitterment, although Bertie generally seems to use it in a slightly different way. In this case it comes nearer to righteous indignation or desire for revenge.
17 He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:
18 whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron:
[Bible Psalms 105:17–18]
fine metal dross (Ch.16; page 162)
Bertie – surprisingly – seems to know the technical meaning of dross (waste removed during the processing of metal ore) as well as its more common figurative meaning.
blue ribbon (Ch.16; page 162)
The blue ribbon has long been a symbol of pre-eminence: originally it was associated with the Order of the Holy Spirit, the highest order of chivalry in medieval France (hence the term cordon bleu, now normally associated with pre-eminence in the kitchen). In Britain the blue ribbon was used for the Order of the Garter.
The best-known use of the term in the thirties was probably the competition between the different shipping lines for the fastest Atlantic crossing, something a regular transatlantic traveller like Wodehouse would have known a lot about.
box hedge (Ch.16; page 163)
The evergreen shrubs of the box (buxacea) family are commonly used for hedging.
the time Bingo Little persuaded me to break into his house (Ch.16; page 163)
See Clustering Round Young Bingo (1925, in Carry On, Jeeves!)
go by the form book (Ch.16; page 164)
A horseracing expression – the published record of the past performance of individual horses.
Grosvenor Square or Cadogan Terrace (Ch.16; page 165)
Grosvenor Square is of course the focal point of the wealthy London district of Mayfair. Cadogan Terrace is a bit of a mystery. Currently the only London street of that name is in Hackney Wick, at the top end of Victoria Park in north-east London, not an area Bertie would be familiar with. Probably Wodehouse meant Cadogan Place, in Belgravia. The name Cadogan Terrace comes up in Conan Doyles Stark Munro Letters, a book Wodehouse knew well enough to take some of the inspiration for Ukridge from it.
sozzled (Ch.16; page 166?)
The OED has citations back to 1886; earlier British dialect sources show the use of soss (similar to slosh in applying to liquid moving about) as a root for such forms as soss-pot, a drunkard, and sosselled as an early form of this word. Linguist David Crystal identifies sozzled as “well up any scale of drunkenness, but… still capable of carrying out some actions, albeit not perfectly.” (Words in Time and Place, 2014). [NM]
Rock of Ages (Ch.16; page 167)
Like Newman, Toplady left the Anglican church, but he went in the opposite direction, becoming a Calvinist preacher.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.
Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.
[Toplady, Augustus M. (1740–1778) Rock of Ages (Hymn) ]
let the dead past bury its dead (Ch.16; page 168)
See p.18 above.
snootered (Ch.16; page 169)
The OED lists this word as “only in P. G. Wodehouse” – it first appeared in The Inimitable Jeeves. Derives from US slang “snoot” for nose.
cometh in the morning (Ch.16; page 172)
4 Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his,
and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
5 For his anger endureth but a moment;
in his favour is life:
weeping may endure for a night,
but joy cometh in the morning.
[Bible Psalms 30:4–5]
Chapter 17 (Ch.17; page 174)
Breakfast Time at the Hall
Runs from pp 174 to 181 in the 1999 Penguin edition
ghost stories (Ch.17; page 174)
Berties plot summary sounds very like E. Nesbits story The Pavilion (1915), but there may well be others where people spending the night in summer-houses meet horrible ends.
Voules and Dobson belt (Ch.17; page 175)
A variant of mid-19th century American expressions like cotton belt. Didnt become current in Britain until rather later (stockbroker belt comes from the 1960s, for instance).
my moral (Ch.17; page 175)
The word morale, referring to the psychological condition and motivation of troops, entered English in the 1830s. Around 1900, someone seems to have realised that the equivalent word in French doesnt have a final -e, and the spelling Bertie uses here became popular for a while. However, the feminine form has now triumphed again in the English-speaking world.
Chuffnell Regis two-niyun-four (Ch.17; page 178)
Automatic telephone exchanges were rare in rural areas of Britain until well after the second world war. Jeeves has to ask the operator to connect him. Wodehouse gets in a little dig at the exaggerated efforts people would make to speak clearly on the telephone. Whether a town the size of Chuffnell Regis would have had as many as three hundred telephone lines in the thirties remains open to question.
pure to the last drop (Ch.17; page 178)
Probably echoes the Maxwell House coffee slogan “Good to the last drop” dating from 1915. [NM]
amende honorable olive branch (Ch.17; page 180)
See p. 107 above.
chez (Ch.17; page 180)
French: with, at the house of.
Chapter 18 (Ch.18; page 182)
Black Work in a Study
Runs from pp 182 to 191 in the 1999 Penguin edition.
zareba (Ch.18; page 182)
A thorn stockade protecting a village or cattle pen. Mainly used in Somalia and the Sudan (from Arabic).
listening-in (Ch.18; page 183)
This was the usual British expression for listening to a broadcast in the early days of radio. I can remember people born before ca.1914 using it as late as the 1970s, so it was probably still fairly current in the thirties.
ultra vires (Ch.18; page 184)
More legal Latin: an act is said to be ultra vires (beyond the powers) when it is performed without any legal authority, or goes beyond a bodys legal powers. Jeeves is suggesting that although Stoker as owner has certain powers over people on board his vessel, these do not include the power to confine guests against their will.
kidnapping (Ch.18; page 184)
Jeeves is bluffing here – whatever else it is, the offence is certainly not kidnapping. In the technical sense (in English law) kidnapping is the forcible taking away of a person into another country. As long as the yacht remains at anchor, Stoker is safe on this point.
Even using the term in a looser, popular sense, Stokers act lacks the necessary elements of abduction (as Jeeves admits, Bertie had come on board voluntarily) and extortion. If Bertie had been a woman and Stoker had abducted her to gain her property (e.g. by marrying her against her will), this would have been a criminal offence.
Stoker is probably guilty of the trespass of false imprisonment. This is normally a civil matter (as Jeeves finally suggests), but in some circumstances it can be an indictable offence as well.
mulct in substantial damages (Ch.18; page 185)
To mulct is to penalise by means of a fine. Damages are normally a reparation, not a penalty, so this is not a standard legal expression.
Daniel did (Ch.18; page 185)
See p.94 above. Its clear from the Bible that Daniel spent the night in the lions den – of course, the text doesnt tell us what time the Babylonians went to bed, but still, one imagines he must have been in there for more than half an hour or so
Cute Crispies (Ch.18; page 185)
This fictitious breakfast cereal also appears in Cocktail Time.
[And in Pigs Have Wings (1952) we learn from the butler Beach, who had been reading about the cereal in his newspaper, that it “contains sixty-two percent of nutroglutene and one tablespoonful, I understand, provides nourishment equal to that of a pound and a half of steak.” In Beach’s opinion the “preparation might prove efficacious” as a treatment for Lord Emsworth’s cold. —IM]
fish slice (Ch.18; page 186?)
Wodehouse seems to use this as the ideal wedding gift in many stories. This does not mean the ordinary slotted spatula of today’s kitchen utensils, but an item of heavy Victorian-style serving ware with a broad, flat silver blade with one sharper, gently curved edge. Fish would typically be served with an acid sauce of lemon juice or vinegar, which would react with ordinary steel blades, giving a metallic taste to the sauce and corroding the steel implement. The classic silver fish slice would prevent these chemical reactions. [NM]
Chapter 19 (Ch.19; page 192)
Preparations for Handling Father
Runs from pp 192 to 197 in the 1999 Penguin edition.
preux chevalier (Ch.19; page 192)
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.
Piping Rock (Ch.19; page 195)
This could mean several things, the most likely being a celebrated gambling club in Saratoga, New York (opened 1932). There is also a golf and country club of this name in New York State.
afraid of the big bad wolf (Ch.19; page 196)
Song from the Walt Disney short animated film “Three Little Pigs,” May 1933, by Frank Churchill and Ted Sears.
The scales have fallen from my eyes (Ch.19; page 197)
17 And Anani′as went his way, and entered into the house; and putting
his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared
unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive
thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
[Bible Acts of the Apostles 9:17–18]
This, if I mistake not, Watson, is our client now (Ch.19; page 197)
Like most of the Sherlock Holmes references in Wodehouse, this one does not have an exact source. The nearest seems to be from The Problem of Thor Bridge (The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes).
“And yet, Watson—and yet! This bridge—a single broad span of stone
with balustraded sides—carries the drive over the narrowest part of a long,
deep, reed-girt sheet of water. Thor Mere it is called. In the mouth of the
bridge lay the dead woman. Such are the main facts. But here, if I mistake
not, is our client, considerably before his time.”
[Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur: “The Problem of Thor Bridge,” Strand, February 1922 ]
Chapter 20 (Ch.20; page 198)
Jeeves Has News
Runs from pp 198 to 208 in the 1999 Penguin edition
...if you say Go, he cometh (Ch.20; page 203)
6 Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house,
the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself;
for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:
7 wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.
8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
[Bible Luke 7:7–9]
a thing compact entirely of sweetness and light (Ch.20; page 203)
This is an archaic use of compact as a past participle to mean composed of (cf. e.g. Shakespeare, Venus & Adonis, Love is a spirit all compact of fire). I havent identified a source for a thing compact entirely.
The phrase “sweetness and light” seems to have been first used by Jonathan Swift in The Battle of the Books (1710):
For the rest, whatever we have got, has been by infinite Labor, and search, and ranging thro’ every Corner of Nature: The Difference is, that instead of Dirt and Poison, we have rather chose to till our Hives with Honey and Wax, thus furnishing Mankind with the two Noblest of Things, which are Sweetness and Light.
The phrase also occurs twice in the works of Matthew Arnold:
The pursuit of perfection, then, is the pursuit of sweetness and light.
Culture and Anarchy, chap. 1 (1869)
Culture is the passion for sweetness and light.
Literature and Dogma, Preface (1873)
Richard Usborne (The Penguin Wodehouse Companion) notes that Matthew Arnold “was related by marriage to the Wodehouse family”, though this appears not to be mentioned in any of the several biographies of Wodehouse. [AGOL]
cablegram (Ch.20; page 204)
A cablegram was a specific term, invented in the 1860s, for a telegram sent via a submarine cable, usually across the Atlantic. There doesnt seem to be any suggestion that Stokers yacht is hooked up to a temporary cable – presumably a member of the crew has collected it from the Post Office on shore.
when pain and anguish racks the brow (Ch.20; page 204)
O woman! in our hours of ease
Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
And variable as the shade
By the light quivering aspen made;
When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou!
[Scott, Sir Walter Marmion vi:30]
“What? What?” I saw Chuffy start. (Ch.20; page 204?)
Chuffy is startled because he thinks Stoker is bringing up Lord Wotwotleigh again (see note for page 42 above). [NM]
potting-shed (Ch.20; page 208)
Other arrestees in Wodehouse who find themselves confined in this unorthodox way include Lord Tilbury (Heavy Weather), Chichester Clam (Joy in the Morning), and Bill Lister (Full Moon).
Chapter 21 (Ch.21; page 209)
Jeeves Finds the Way
Runs from pp 209 to 224 in the 1999 Penguin edition
The larger potting-shed (Ch.21; page 210)
Jeeves has no particular reason for irritating Stoker here – the delay is simply Wodehouse milking his dénoument scene for all that it is worth. Notice how Berties interventions, ostensibly to cut Jeeves short, are cleverly made to delay the issue even further.
aunt Scarcely germane (Ch.21; page 211)
There might be a buried joke here. Bertie is using germane in the common modern sense of relevant. However, since the original meaning of germane is having the same parents (cf. Spanish hermano, brother), it would be hard for an aunt to be germane.
Lo somebody’s name led all the rest … Abou ben Adhem (Ch.21; page 214)
Presumably Stoker hears this as Have you been at them. Since he raised the subject himself it is a little surprising that he doesnt recognise the name.
Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
‘What writest thou?’ The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, ‘The names of those who love the Lord.’
‘And is mine one?’ said Abou. ‘Nay, not so,’
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still; and said, ‘I pray thee, then,
Write me as one who loves his fellow men.’
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.
[Hunt, James Leigh (1784–1859) “Abou Ben Adhem” (1835) ]
started to say something about angels (Ch.21; page 216)
Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
[Shakespeare Hamlet I:iv,39]
crux (Ch.21; page 219)
From Latin crux interpretum (the cross of interpreters) – the central element of a problem (as here). Sometimes also used for a particularly difficult or insoluble problem in a text.
Finesse (Ch.21; page 219)
picked oakum at Dartmoor (Ch.21; page 219)
Oakum is loose fibre obtained by unpicking ropes, and formerly used for caulking the seams of ships. Picking oakum was a tedious and unpleasant type of work commonly given to prisoners in the 19th century.
Dartmoor, Britains most notorious prison, is in the remote village of Princetown in the wildest part of southern England. It was opened in 1809, originally catering for French and American prisoners captured in the Napoleonic wars, and is still in use. It plays an important part in Conan Doyles Hound of the Baskervilles, of course.
dipsomaniac (Ch.21; page 222)
the child is the father of the man (Ch.21; page 223)
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
[Wordsworth, William Rainbows ]
It is a far, far better thing (Ch.21; page 224)
This is Sydney Carton, on the way to the guillotine for rather similar reasons to Berties.
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far,
far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.
[Dickens, Charles A Tale of Two Cities Pt.3 Ch.15]
Chapter 22 (Ch.22; page 225)
Jeeves Applies for a Situation
Runs from pp 225 to 229 in the 1999 Penguin edition
Benstead (Ch.22; page 227)
See p.39 above.
the old aristocrat mounting the tumbril (Ch.22; page 227)
The third reference to A Tale of Two Cities in this book.
Thank you, Jeeves (Ch.22; page 229)
The trick of ending the book with the title also appears in several of the later Jeeves novels (e.g. Right Ho, Jeeves; Much Obliged, Jeeves; Joy in the Morning).