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.

These initial notes by Neil Midkiff are a placeholder and outline for a forthcoming complete set of annotations to Very Good, Jeeves.

 

Very Good, Jeeves was first published in the US by Doubleday, Doran & Co. on 20 June 1930, and appeared in the UK published by Herbert Jenkins Ltd. on 4 July 1930, with a preface by Wodehouse. The UK version only has a dedication to E. Phillips Oppenheim. The eleven stories had appeared in magazines from 1926 through 1930, sometimes in slightly different versions; somewhat unusually, the US book in many cases reprints the US magazine versions of the stories, while the UK book versions are nearly always substantially similar to the Strand magazine versions, as is the usual case. Further details about the magazine appearances can be found at Neil Midkiff’s web page of the Wodehouse short stories.

The texts of these stories show plentiful evidence of editorial intervention, apparently at each periodical and publisher, as there are frequent tiny changes to punctuation, hyphenation, capitalization, and the like, and more substantial cuts and changes in word order from time to time. As yet, no consistent pattern can be discerned, so one must assume that editors and typesetters at the Strand, Liberty, Cosmopolitan, Doubleday, Doran & Co., and Herbert Jenkins all felt free to conform the text to each publisher’s house style and make other “improvements,” although these are not always done in a uniform manner. For instance, even in the British first edition, nominally derived from the Strand appearances, there are internal inconsistencies (e.g. vocal cords vs. vocal chords) which seem to have been introduced at Jenkins.

When in 2026 the stories fall into US public domain, it will probably be worthwhile to do a parallel-column comparison of the details of each version. Until that time only the most significant of the variants will be annotated here for most of the stories. The cuts in the US versions of “Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit” are more fully documented here as an example of these changes.


Preface

The page numbers in the Preface are for the original Herbert Jenkins printings of the 1930s.


some fourteen summers since I started to write Jeeves stories (p. vii)

The first story in which Jeeves is mentioned is “Extricating Young Gussie” (Saturday Evening Post, September 18, 1915); the first in which he plays a prominent role is “Leave It to Jeeves” (SEP, February 5, 1916), later adapted into “The Artistic Career of Corky” in Carry On, Jeeves! (1925).


the third volume of a series (p. vii)

Wodehouse omits to mention the early story collection My Man Jeeves (George Newnes Ltd., 1919) which contained four Bertie and Jeeves stories and four Reggie Pepper stories; the two predecessor collections mentioned in this paragraph were both published by Herbert Jenkins.


half-a-crown apiece (p. viii)

Two shillings and sixpence, or one-eighth of a pound sterling. (The Bank of England inflation calculator gives a multiplier of approximately 62 from 1930 to 2019.) The two earlier volumes had been priced at 3/6 when first published then reissued after a year or so at 2/6.


in a plain van (p. viii)

This seems to be a stock phrase from advertisements, equivalent to the “plain brown wrapper” in which potentially embarrassing items would be mailed. A 1919 hardware trade magazine describes a cut-price paint and varnish store delivering in a plain van so that the customers’ neighbors would not know with whom the recipients were dealing. A London furniture store that initiated sales on credit used a plain van so as not to let neighbors know that the delivered goods had not yet been paid for.

Bertie promises that his gift of Spinoza’s books to Jeeves in Joy in the Morning will be “delivered at your door in a plain van without delay.” In The Mating Season, ch. 13, Jeeves sends a telegram to Bertie telling him that the plan to get young Thos to run away from school is in progress: “The goods, it said, were in transit and would be delivered in a plain van in the course of the evening.”


Jules St. Xavier Popinot (p. viii)

Possibly a glancing reference to Jean-Jules Popinot, a character in Balzac’s Le Comédie humaine, an honest and competent judge.


AU COIN DE LIVRES (p. viii)

“At the book-corner”; the dialogue following contains many common phrases from elementary textbooks for students of French. A very rough translation by a very poor student of French:

Good morning, Mister Bookseller.
Good morning, sir. What beautiful weather today, is it not?
Absolutely. Do you have The Inimitable Jeeves and Carry On, Jeeves! of the master Wodehouse?
But certainly, sir.
Give me the two, if you please.
Yes, for example, (expression of surprise). And also the pen, the ink, and the aunt of the gardener?
I don’t care about those. I want only the Wodehouse.
No shirts, no ties, or hair tonic?
Only the Wodehouse, I assure you.
Perfect, sir. Two-and-six for each item (“trinket”)—exactly five bob. [Note the bilingual pun here; “bob” is English slang for “shilling[s]” but “roberts” for “shillings” is pure invention by Wodehouse.]
Good morning, sir.
Good morning, sir.

Note that McIlvaine’s monumental Wodehouse bibliography does not include the French titles mentioned in the dialogue above; the earliest listed French version of Carry On, Jeeves! is a 1934 work titled Monsieur et servi, and L’Inimitable Jeeves did not appear until about 1983. So Popinot is presumably asking to buy the English editions (he is in London, after all) but using French equivalents of the titles to refer to them.

See also the notes to Monty Bodkin’s French in The Luck of the Bodkins, especially the bracketed note at the end with a quotation from Jerome K. Jerome on French vocabulary exercises.


See that the name “Wodehouse” is on every label (p. ix)

Another stock phrase from advertisements of proprietary foods and patent medicines, warning against imitations. “The large and increasing demand [for Worcestershire Sauce] has caused unprincipled traders to manufacture a spurious article, but the ‘genuine’ all bear Lea and Perrins’ name on the bottle, label, and stopper.” (Advertisement in London Observer, July 8, 1860, p. 8) “See the names of Lea and Perrins on every label, bottle, and stopper.” (Advertisement in London Times, August 4, 1860, p. 13)


Jeeves and the Impending Doom

First published in the Strand magazine, December 1926, and in a slightly abridged version in Liberty, January 8, 1927.


Aunt Agatha’s place at Woollam Chersey in the county of Herts

The first of Bertie’s formidable array of relatives to be mentioned (in “Extricating Young Gussie”, 1915) she is the sister of his late father, and is married to Mr. Spenser Gregson. This story is the first to mention her newly acquired country home in Hertfordshire, a county not far north of London (the center of the county is less than thirty miles from central London). Norman Murphy notes (In Search of Blandings) that some features of her home, including the lake and the Octagon, are modeled on Hunstanton Hall in Norfolk, the home of Wodehouse’s friend and frequent host Charles Le Strange, so this is another example of Wodehouse modeling a fictional setting on a place he knew well, but resetting it in a geographic locale more convenient to his plot.


fragrant eggs and b.

The common abbreviation b.-and-s. for brandy and soda had appeared as early as “Leave It to Jeeves” (1916), but the use of initial-letter abbreviations for some of the words of stock phrases is a habit of Bertie’s that first seems to have appeared in “The Great Sermon Handicap” (1922), in which he is “quaffing deeply of the flowing b.” (for “bowl”). The present instance, with b. for bacon, seems to be the second appearance of the habit, which will occur more frequently in later stories and novels. Note the inverted usage “e. and bacon” later in this scene.


moody forkful

Another instance of the transferred epithet (see Right Ho, Jeeves); a more straightforward way of saying this would be “I pronged a forkful moodily.”


floater

Slang, originally from British universities, for a social mistake or faux pas.


a worm and an outcast

Only the UK book ends the sentence at this point; both magazine versions and US book continue “and would gladly drop something on me from a high window.”


lair

Wording more suggestive of a dangerous animal’s den than the boudoir or sitting room of an English lady.


smut

A black smudge, possibly soot from a coal-burning railroad engine.


the stage-door

Aunt Agatha recognizes, as we do frequently in these notes, how familiar Bertie is with theatrical jargon.


beetled out

The OED cites a 1925 [Royal] Air Force slang dictionary: to beetle off: to fly straight, to go off direct, as a beetle flies.


Rosie M. Banks

See “Bingo and the Little Woman” for the story of their marriage.


Ascot

Used without other qualification, this must mean the Royal Ascot races held each June at the Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, England.


gave tongue like a bloodhound

Cried out as a hunting dog does when its quarry is scented or sighted.


I must have forgotten to post it

This bit of absent-mindedness is borrowed from Ukridge, who similarly fails in Love Among the Chickens.


made the old lemon swim a bit

Only the UK book changes “lemon” to “head”; this does make the phrase clearer for those who are not familiar with Bertie’s slang. See The Inimitable Jeeves for an earlier use.


get it right through the concrete

Archie Moffam ought to have “more brains and less concrete above the neck-band” in Indiscretions of Archie. Gussie Fink-Nottle is “all right up to the neck, but from there on pure concrete” in The Code of the Woosters. Stilton Cheesewright is also solid concrete above the neck in Joy in the Morning. Mortimer Bayliss claims that J. J. Bunyan’s explanation did not penetrate the concrete of his guests’ heads in Something Fishy.


fiend in human shape

See The Mating Season.


life-giving cocktail

Other instances of Bertie treating alcoholic beverages as healthful are noted as “restoratives” in The Mating Season.


soup-and-fish

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


in the soup … knee-deep in the bisque

See The Inimitable Jeeves.


pest-house

Historically, a hospital for patients with infectious diseases such as plague or cholera; figuratively, any place perceived as the locus of wickedness or iniquity.


black-jack

Wodehouse had used this American term for an assailant’s tool for concussing an opponent in the American-set Psmith, Journalist as well as once in “Leave It to Jeeves” but more frequently employed the stuffed eel-skin in his fiction.


couple of hundred quid

The Bank of England inflation calculator gives a multiplying factor of about 62 from 1926 to 2019, so this would be well over £12,000 in modern terms. “Moderate affluence” indeed!


lumbago and the botts

Lumbago is pain of the lower back; though modern veterinary sources do not seem to use the term, it can be found in a 1911 veterinary textbook in reference to horses. “The botts” is not referenced in that same textbook; it is a colloquial term for an infection of the horse’s stomach by the maggots of the horse bot fly. Wodehouse more frequently refers to the equivalent disease in sheep, as in “The Salvation of George Mackintosh.”


got mixed up with the next race

Reminiscent of Ocean Breeze in “Comrade Bingo,” who “was so far behind that he nearly came in first in the next race.”


Kingsbridge, Kent

At present there is a new housing development named Kingsbridge at Headcorn in Kent, but the only Kingsbridge I can find which existed when this story was written is a market town in the South Hams of Devon.


oojah-cum-spiff

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


like a bull-dog that has been refused cake

Norman Murphy tells us (In Search of Blandings, p. 61) that Wodehouse was given a bulldog in 1917 which he named Sammy after the bull-terrier painted red in Mike (1909), and who was the inspiration for The Mixer, Percy in “A Room at the Hermitage” (Indiscretions of Archie, ch. 12–13), and other bulldogs especially including Smith in The Girl on the Boat/Three Men and a Maid:

…closely followed by Smith, who, now convinced that interesting events were in progress which might possibly culminate in cake, had abandoned the idea of sleep and meant to see the thing through.

and George in Something Fishy/The Butler Did It:

He had that defect, so common in bull-dogs, of liking everyone, from the highest to the lowest.
[...]
George had coughed to attract the attention of the occupants of the room in case any of them had cake to dispose of.

The conclusion is inescapable that Wodehouse’s Sammy too was a gregarious cake-hound.

Wodehouse even used this association of ideas in a simile when describing a moody Tuppy Glossop in Right Ho, Jeeves, chapter 8:

In build and appearance, Tuppy somewhat resembles a bulldog, and his aspect now was that of one of these fine animals who has just been refused a slice of cake.


pie-faced

U.S. slang, chiefly derogatory; having a round, flat face or a blank expression; stupid [1910–15]


salmon mayonnaise

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


I now came down to earth with a bang

The phrase “down to earth” is now such a common expression alluding to everyday, mundane matters rather than flights of fantasy that it seems surprising that this story is the earliest citation in the OED for the phrase.


Aunt Agatha’s spaniel, Robert

For unknown reasons, Robert is replaced by Aunt Agatha’s terrier, McIntosh, in the US book edition of Very Good, Jeeves. Both magazine versions refer to the spaniel Robert.


food trough … nosebag

Bertie is joshing the traditions of an English tea by referring to ways to feed cows and pigs (food trough) and horses (nosebag).


messuages

A dwelling house with outbuildings and land assigned to its use [OED].


tout ensemble

French for “everything together”: the general effect of all the parts taken as a whole.


Octagon

See Plum Lines, vol. 33, no. 3, Autumn 2012, page 3 for a photo of the real Octagon at Hunstanton Hall, showing the “grooves at regular intervals” mentioned later in the story.


And in the middle of the Octagon…

This paragraph is different in UK and US versions. The UK book follows the Strand text, with the sentence cited above immediately following the first mention of the Octagon.

In Liberty this sentence also follows, but the sentence ends with “Filmer, shouting.” A paragraph break follows, and a few sentences are skipped. The next paragraph is simply the one sentence “It seemed to me … to shelter under.”

The US book has most of the same words as the UK book, but the first mention of the Octagon is followed by “As we drew nearer … located the Right Hon. He was in the middle of the Octagon.…” So it appears that the Doubleday editor revised the order of the paragraph when inserting the sentences omitted in Liberty.


strained a vocal cord

This is now the preferred spelling for one of the folds of mucous membrane in the larynx whose vibration in a stream of exhaled air produces the pitched sounds of the speaking and singing voice. The older spelling “vocal chord” is not entirely defunct; the OED associates it with the meaning of “chord” as “the string of a musical instrument, such as a harp.” It is apparently unrelated to “chord” as a combination of musical notes or as a line in geometry joining the ends of an arc of a circle.

In the present sentence, only the Liberty version uses the spelling “chord”; the other three versions have “cord.” But this pattern is not consistent throughout the story collections, as will be seen.


eight and elevenpence

Eight shillings and elevenpence in full, or the equivalent of a bit less than £0.45 in decimal terms. Inflated to 2019 values, roughly £27 in modern terms.


Sure-Grip tennis shoes

Wodehouse seems prescient here, as there is currently a line of shoes using the Suregrip name, now part of the Shoes for Crews family. I suspect, though, that he was influenced by 1920s ads for Keds saying that their soles “give a sure grip of any playing surface.”


waste of waters

See Hot Water and Blandings Castle and Elsewhere.


in my puff

From the association of puff with breath: slang for “in all my life.”


rocketing pheasant

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


Excelsior!

See Sam the Sudden.


Home Counties

Loosely defined as the counties of England that surround London; various lists of them range in number from four to twelve. Hertfordshire is included in nearly every such list.


infinite resource and sagacity

A description of the Mariner in Kipling’s “How the Whale Got His Throat” in Just So Stories (1902).


He virtually lives on fish

A complicated issue! Bertie usually associates eating fish with supplying nutritive support to the brain; Jeeves sometimes assents and sometimes denies that his sagacity is dependent upon his intake of fish. See Chris Dueker’s 2005 TWS convention talk “Remembrance of Fish Past” in Plum Lines 27.2, Summer 2006, p. 4. Note that later in the present book, in the variously-titled story of the Dog McIntosh, Jeeves declines to eat sardines to help him think in a crisis because he does not like them.


caught a crab

Made a bad stroke in rowing, so that either the oar blade gets too far beneath the water to be easily lifted out (thus driving the handle against the rower’s body, in the more traditional definition), or so that the blade skips across the water surface, causing splashing but not efficient propulsion of the boat.


salved

For many years I failed to notice this particular term here, reading it as “saved” although most editions agree on “salved” here. [Only the US book among original editions has “saved” here, as does the Jeeves Omnibus/World of Jeeves text, and I did not own a copy of those until recent years.] Salved is a nautical term referring to a ship or its cargo rescued from destruction or loss at sea; a back-formation from salvage. One wonders if Wodehouse’s early education at a naval preparatory school was responsible for his use of this uncommon term here. The use of “from stem to stern” later in the sentence instead of “from head to toe” seems to support this idea. It is possible that Wodehouse intended a dual meaning here too, in the sense of salve as a soothing ointment: Bertie thinks that his rescue may have had the effect of buttering Filmer up, giving him the old oil, so to speak.


Purvis, the butler

When this story was collected in the Jeeves Omnibus and its later expansion as The World of Jeeves, Purvis was renamed Benson for unknown reasons.


The Inferiority Complex of Old Sippy

Originally appeared in the Strand magazine, April 1926, and in a slightly abridged form in Liberty, April 17, 1926.


beetled off

See beetled out above.


Ne sutor ultra whatever-it-is

Ne sutor ultra crepidam: literally, “Not above the sandal, cobbler” (see World Wide Words for the phrase’s history); the same idea is expressed in the familiar phrase “the cobbler should stick to his last”—the meaning is that one should refrain from criticism outside one’s area of expertise, as Bertie implies in the rest of the paragraph.


hipped

Irritable, depressed, low-spirited; derived from hyp, a clipped form of hypochondria.


decanted

Poured out; from the verb for carefully pouring the contents of a bottle of alcoholic beverage into a serving container (decanter), as to separate a wine from the sediment that forms in the bottle.


rag

Informal or pejorative term for a newspaper; the original edition of the OED describes “rag” as a contemptuous term for such items as “a flag, handkerchief, theatre-curtain, newspaper, paper money, etc.” Robert L. Chapman’s American Slang (1987) gives one definition as simply “a newspaper or magazine, esp. one that the speaker does not like.” See “How Kid Brady Joined the Press” and Piccadilly Jim for other examples in Wodehouse.


tabasco

Hot stuff; see Carry On, Jeeves!


vapid and irreflective

See the notes to episode 5 of The Head of Kay’s for the literary background of this term.


Hawkshaw the detective

Originally a character in Tom Taylor’s 1863 play The Ticket of Leave Man; popularly produced as a Victorian melodrama. A newspaper cartoon by Gus Magor (1913–22 and 1931–52) revived the character name.


Love’s Young Dream

A reference to Thomas Moore’s poem of that title; “But there’s nothing half so sweet in life / As love’s young dream.”


the Metropolis

London.


copped it

Usually slang for getting caught, being punished, or even dying, so Bertie is giving us his opinion of romance in stark terms here.


a year ago … thirty days without the option

See “Without the Option” (1925), collected in Carry On, Jeeves!. Sippy, in other words, could not choose to pay a fine in lieu of the jail term.


Boat-Race night

See The Code of the Woosters.


whiffled

This is the earliest (published 1926 in magazines) use of the term to mean “intoxicated” cited in the OED, although since their citation is dated 1930 (from the date of the book collection) they list it after another Wodehouse usage, in “The Story of William” (1927 in both magazine and book appearances) in Meet Mr. Mulliner:

Intoxicated? The word did not express it by a mile. He was oiled, boiled, fried, plastered, whiffled, sozzled, and blotto.

In any event, Wodehouse seems to have been the first to use it in print, whether recording real-life slang or as a coinage of his own.


sozzled

Though the OED has one Victorian usage of sosselled from a 1903 slang dictionary, I suspect that Wodehouse learned this synonym for “intoxicated” from George Ade, as in “The Fable of Successful Tobias and Some of His Happy New-Years” in True Bills (1904); we know from many other quotations that Wodehouse found Ade to be a reliable source of American slang. This and the above quotation under “whiffled” seem to be his first uses; the term also shows up in Money for Nothing (1928) and Thank You, Jeeves (1934).


“What was that?”

In US book only, “What was it?”


off his onion

Out of his mind; see Sam the Sudden.


“He’s dead.”

Bertie seems to be either misinformed or indulging in wishful thinking here; the Rev. Aubrey Upjohn is alive and well in How Right You Are, Jeeves/Jeeves in the Offing (1960) in which Bertie meets him for the first time as an adult, as well as “Bramley Is So Bracing” (1939) where Freddie Widgeon leaves Bingo Little’s baby in Upjohn’s study. Possibly it is Wodehouse himself feeling the relief as he wrote this story in 1926, as his own headmaster had died in 1911. See the note to the following item for more.


six of the juiciest on the old spot with a cane

Six strokes of the cane on the seat of the trousers. See The Mating Season annotations for further details; also compare Sam the Sudden and magazine versions of Leave It to Psmith.


bit like an adder

Conflating a pair of phrases from Proverbs: see Biblia Wodehousiana.


posish

Position, in the 1920s slang style of shortening words for informal effect. Both Wodehouse and lyricist Ira Gershwin were noted for this style.


drip

In the slang sense of “nonsense” the OED has citations dating from 1919, originally from the U.S. As an epithet for a fool or dull person, the earliest citation is from 1932.


inferiority complex

A fairly new term in popular culture at the time, based on the psychoanalytic theories of Freud and Adler; outside of professional texts the earliest OED citations in print are from the mid-1920s.


‘Don’t go down the coal-mine, daddy’

A song written by an itinerant song-sheet seller after the pit disaster in Whitehaven, Cumbria, Wales in 1910. Lawrence Wright bought the copyright for £5 and sold a million copies in three weeks. [N.T.P. Murphy, A Wodehouse Handbook]


mount the deadly breach

The oldest appearance of this phrase so far found is in The Missionary Gazetteer (1828, reprinted numerous times).


“What is it Shakespeare calls sleep, Jeeves?”

Lots of things, of course; but “Tired Nature’s sweet restorer” isn’t one of them. See The Mating Season annotations. This is a rare lapse in Jeeves’s citations.


Foch

Marshal Ferdinand Foch (1851–1929), French general who rose from infantryman during the Franco-Prussian War to supreme Allied commander during World War One.


yestereen

Yesterday evening. A deliberate archaism; the most recent OED citation for this spelling is from 1863, and in the more common spelling yestreen from 1894. US serial and book have ‘yestere’en.’


the scales will fall from his eyes

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


Aunt Agatha accused the maid at that French hotel … still in her drawer

Recounted in the Strand magazine version (also in The World of Jeeves) of “Aunt Agatha Takes the Count” (1922). The US magazine version and its adaptation for The Inimitable Jeeves end somewhat differently.


(even of an inferior school to your own)

US book has (even of a school inferior to your own) here. US serial in Liberty omits the entire paragraph.


Greenwich mean time

Standard time for the British Isles, based on mean (average) solar transits at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, but reckoned from midnight instead of noon.


spuds and cabbages

Potatoes and cabbages; Covent Garden was then the site of London’s produce markets.


sucked the handle of my stick

A reversion to behavior that Bertie had deprecated in another; compare Motty, Lord Pershore, in “Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest”.


And so the long day wore on.

See The Inimitable Jeeves.


as much as will cover a sixpence

The proprietary laxative “Kruschen salts” advertised that the daily dose of “as much as will lie on a sixpence” would result in “good health and youthful spirits”; see Money for Nothing.


“If you get an article accepted…”

It has been well observed that when a writer has a story rejected he should send that story to another editor, but that when he has one accepted he should send another story to that editor.

“Out of School” (1910)


“I shall watch your future progress with considerable interest.”

See A Damsel in Distress.


like an exuberant snipe

See Sam the Sudden.


Carlton

See A Damsel in Distress.


St. Peter’s, Eaton Square

See Bill the Conqueror.


Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit

Originally appeared in the Strand magazine, December 1927, and somewhat abridged (by over 13% in word count) in Liberty, December 24, 1927, with the spelling “Yuletide” in the title. For purposes of example, these notes will go into more detail about the cuts in the US version of this story (both the Liberty appearance and the US book edition) than will be attempted for other chapters/stories.


As Shakespeare says, if you’re going to do a thing…

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.


life is stern and life is earnest

An echo of Longfellow’s line “Life is real! Life is earnest!”; see Right Ho, Jeeves for the full poem.


festive s.

The above reading is from Strand, an abbreviation for “festive season”; it seems the most likely original reading. The UK book has “festives” which is unidiomatic, and is probably a misreading of the above. US magazine and book have “festivities” which at least makes sense, and is a word Wodehouse uses often elsewhere. But the Strand reading above is not an obvious typo for “festivities” so reading it as an abbreviation (in the style of eggs and b. above) is at least plausible.


“Plans changed.”

UK texts follow this line with Jeeves responding “Very good, sir.”; US texts omit the response.


the work of a moment

See A Damsel in Distress.


I was in no mood for this sort of thing…

US texts omit this paragraph.


“You nearly deafened me.”

US texts omit this sentence.


Stop me if I’ve told you this before…

US texts omit most of this sentence, beginning the next one with “This Glossop was…”


The fixture was scratched

See The Inimitable Jeeves.


stern and rock-bound coast

Norman Murphy found this in Felicia Hemans’s 1825 poem “Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers”:

The breaking waves dashed high
On a stern and rock-bound coast…


off my napper

The OED gives citations for “napper” meaning “head” as far back as 1724, and “off his napper” from 1899.


Loonies I have Lunched With

The story is told in “Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch” (1922; adapted into chs. 7–8 of The Inimitable Jeeves).


It seemed to me that even at Christmas time…

US texts omit this paragraph.


peace on earth and goodwill towards men

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


Cold and haughty. No symp.

US texts spell out “sympathy” (as does Strand) and shorten the next two paragraphs into one; Bertie’s response ends at “proudly.” The next paragraph omits the first two sentences and begins “Going down to Skeldings.…”


wear the mask

See Laughing Gas.


I was feeling considerably in the pink…

US texts omit the first two sentences of this paragraph.


the lion lying down with the lamb

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


all to the mustard

See The Inimitable Jeeves.


“Touching on this business…”

US texts omit this sentence and Jeeves’s response.


the world’s good old Plague Spot

See Bill the Conqueror.


the iron has entered into your soul

See Sam the Sudden.


“Oh, yes, it has.”

US texts condense the three paragraphs beginning here into one, omitting the references to the Yuletide spirit.


“His nephew.…”

US texts omit “I have it in for that man of wrath.” (See Love Among the Chickens.) UK book omits “The Wooster honour is involved.” US texts omit the “Listen” sentence and the phrase “both at the Drones Club and elsewhere.”


a hideous vengeance

A possible echo of W. S. Gilbert’s libretto for Iolanthe:

A hideous vengeance will pursue
All noblemen who venture to
 Oppose his views,
 Or boldly choose
To offer him offence.


“He told me that he had often…”

US texts omit the first half of this sentence, and begin with “And what I maintain…”


There was still something in his manner…

US texts omit this entire paragraph.


“Dwell on the fact…”

US texts omit this sentence.


“I wish you wouldn’t … I hardly like…”

US texts omit these two speeches.


“Jeeves,” I said coldly…

US texts omit the rest of this sentence, Jeeves's response, and the first part of Bertie’s next speech, continuing here with “what is your kick...?” Also omitted is the pair of speeches “Well, sir—”/“Jeeves!”; then shortly afterward a chunk of several missing lines skipping “asseverate … canvass … briefly” so that Jeeves says “I was about to observe, sir, that though Miss Wickham is a charming young lady—” in the shorter US version. Jeeves also omits “in my opinion” about red hair.


an imperial quart

The British Weights and Measures Act 1824 first defined the imperial system of units, with slight modifications in further acts through 1985. For comparison, one imperial quart equals 1.13652 liters, or very slightly more than 1.2 US quarts.


espièglerie

See Carry On, Jeeves!.


mashed potatoes

See Money for Nothing.


bringing young Tuppy’s grey hairs in sorrow to the grave

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


Gratifying…

US texts omit “girls’ ”, “of the community”, “privily” and have “helpmate” instead of “helpmeet.”

For slip it across see Money in the Bank.

For helpmeet see Biblia Wodehousiana.


Stick, one, and needle, darning, good, sharp, one,

A style of describing inventory items by category in increasing order of specificity, common in both business and military jargon of the time.


The more I thought about this enterprise…

US texts omit the first two sentences of the paragraph. In the next paragraph, US texts omit the choir, dance, and chatting, so that the narration joins together “what not; so that it wasn’t till past one…”


and off along the corridor

US book only inserts “was” before “off” here.


I suppose a burglar…

US texts omit the entire paragraph. The following paragraph is divided into three in US versions, and shortened by concluding with “jabbing at random.”


I beetled in

See beetled out above.


after one had sown the seed, so to speak

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


But I wasn’t giving much thought…

US versions omit the last half of the sentence, ending with “explosion.” The last sentence of the paragraph is also omitted.


something in between the last trump and a tiger calling for breakfast

See Biblia Wodehousiana. US texts and Strand have “last trump” in lowercase as above; UK book has “last Trump” which is unique and probably a typo, although many times reprinted. In other books Wodehouse generally capitalizes “Last Trump.”


One moment, I was all dash…

US texts omit this initial clause, beginning the sentence with “An irresistible force…” and also omitting “the” before “leash.” In the first sentence of the next paragraph, “continuing” is omitted.


pipped me at the eleventh hour

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


The next thing that happened…

US texts omit this sentence.


those advertisements you see in the magazines … Correspondence School

See Hot Water for a similar advertisement.


The way he pushed out that ‘You!’

US texts conclude this sentence at “angry cobra.”


By rights, I suppose…

US texts conclude this paragraph at “bleating sound.” The last long sentence is omitted.


It seemed to me…

US texts omit “the thing along.”


nervous about fire

See “Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch” for some of Sir Roderick’s other phobias and dislikes. In Uncle Fred in the Springtime, while visiting Blandings Castle, the Duke of Dunstable requests a ground-floor bedroom because he says he is nervous of fire.


The injustice of the whole thing…

US texts omit the first part of this sentence, beginning it at “I lost that sense…”


a toad under the harrow

See The Girl in Blue.


up the spout

In Wodehouse, usually referring to something that has been pawned; see Lord Emsworth and Others. But Wodehouse had earlier used it in the sense of thwarted plans, in “The Episode of the Exiled Monarch” in A Man of Means: “Royalist revolution up the spout.”


I reeled.

US texts omit this and the following sentence, beginning the paragraph with the shortened sentence “This extraordinary statement staggered me.”


smoking a thoughtful cigarette

Another instance of the transferred epithet (see Right Ho, Jeeves).


He did some deep-breathing exercises

US texts omit “through the nose.”


a sort of night’s rest

US texts have “any night’s rest” here, and substitute “doze” for doss (a principally British slang verb meaning to sleep, especially in a makeshift way or at a cheap lodging house).


succeeded in dropping off

US texts end the sentence at this point, omitting the clause about “colder and colder”.


the dome felt like lead

The head; see Leave It to Psmith.


Bohea

Chinese black tea.


It was like one of those stories…

The Liberty editor apparently didn”t like the effect of breathless narrative intended by Wodehouse, and broke up this sentence with no fewer than seven commas and a sentence break after “Rover?’ Six of the commas and the break were preserved in the US book edition.


It’s perfectly amazing how a fellow…

US texts omit this opening sentence.


received back into the fold

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


Young Blood

A phrase used in several ways by Wodehouse: as here, meaning the animal spirits of youth (compare The Head of Kay’s, in which it is coupled with “Boys would be boys.”). It can also mean fresh talent, as on the newspaper staff in Psmith, Journalist, or even literal blood, as in “The Lost Lambs”/Mike and Psmith where it is shed in a fight, or in the often-quoted Shakespearean “freeze thy young blood”. (The sentence containing this phrase is omitted in US versions of this story.)


“You can’t say that’s not rummy.”

US texts shorten this sentence and the next to say “You can’t say that’s not a miracle.” The adjective “rummy” is mainly British slang for “odd; peculiar”.


“…he received the suggestion from the young lady.”

US texts have simply “from her” here, which does not sound at all like Jeeves’s usual diction; I blame the Liberty editor.


she went away and tipped Tuppy off

US texts have “she went off and tipped Tuppy off” which also seems a bad editorial choice, because of the repetition of “off”.


the heart and hand

US texts as well as Strand have “the Wooster heart and hand” here, so this seems a Jenkins typo.


“I thought you had.”

US texts omit this sentence and Jeeves’s reply. A “Very good, sir” on the previous page is also omitted.


Jeeves and the Song of Songs

Originally appeared in the Strand magazine, September 1929, and as “The Song of Songs” in Cosmopolitan in the same month. The UK edition of the book generally follows the Strand text and the US book follows the Cosmopolitan text, in this case about 1% longer than the UK version. Each has a few sentences or phrases not present in the other; there is also more substitution or replacement of words and short phrases than is usual.

As an experiment, I will attempt a tabular comparison of the variants between the book versions, since there are more substitutions than cuts in this story.

US bookUK book
when Jeeves’s voice filtered through the woodworkwhen there was a soft step without and Jeeves’s voice came filtering through the woodwork
“Yes, sir,” Jeeves answered in his monosyllabic way.
“You say that he is in the sitting room?”
“Yes, sir.”
“In the sitting room?”
Owing to a certain episode that had occurred one night at the Drones’ Club, there had sprung up recently a coolness, as you might describe it, between this Glossop and myself. The news, therefore, that he was visiting me at my flat, especially at an hourThe news that Tuppy was visiting me at my flat, at an hour
towels about the torsotowels about the limbs and torso
not without hauteurnot without a certain hauteur
upon the fenderinto the fender
dreams of a hideous vengeancedreams of getting a bit of my own back
“Well, I have my own methods, Bertie, old man.”
“I bet they’re rotten, Tuppy.”
“I have my methods.”
“I bet they’re rotten.”
in the East End next Tuesday before an audiencein the East End next Tuesday.”
“Indeed, sir?”
“Before an audience
impeded and generally snookeredimpeded and generally snootered
do a good turndo a good turn than yourself
“I say he’s—breaking—Angela’s—heart!“Yes . . . Breaking . . . Angela’s HEART!”
begged me to suspendbegged me in rather a feverish way to suspend
is a pot of poisonis a congenital idiot
swimming poolswimming-bath
going stronggoing as strong as dammit
a thing like that!a thing like that?
Put the thing squarely up to Jeeves and let Nature take its course.Put the thing squarely up to Jeeves and tell him to let his mind play round the topic.
Get him working on it right away,Get him working on it,
I am fond of Aunt Dahlia, and I am fond of Angela.I am fond of my Aunt Dahlia and I am fond of my cousin Angela.
“He means the psychology,” I said.
“Oh, ah,” said Aunt Dahlia.
“And by psychology, Jeeves,” I went on, to help the thing along, “you imply——?”
“He means the psychology,” I said. “And by psychology, Jeeves, you imply——?”
talk like this when you’re alonetalk like this to you when you’re alone
a somewhat imperious naturea somewhat hard and intolerant nature
“Let me get this straight,” said Aunt Dahlia. “You think if he goes on trying to light her cigarettes with his automatic lighter long enough, she will eventually get fed up and hand him the mitten?”“Let me get this straight,” said Aunt Dahlia, looking a bit fogged. “You think that, if he goes on trying to light her cigarettes with his automatic lighter long enough, she will eventually get fed up and hand him the mitten? Is that the idea?”
A vicious specimenA woman of blood and iron
You see for yourself that we must do more than simply trust to luck.you must see for yourself that we can’t simply trust to luck.
volunteer your services at his forthcoming entertainmentvolunteer your services as a performer at his forthcoming entertainment
arranged to have you singarranged that you sang
after you had sungafter you, too, had sung
or may an aunt’s curseand sing it like a lark at sunrise, or may an aunt’s curse
operatic soprano.
How these things happen, I couldn’t say. The chivalry of the Woosters, I suppose.
operatic soprano.
I shall be gladI shall be obliged
men do desperate deeds with proud, set facesmen do desperate deeds with careless smiles
a grim look which I didn’t like at all.a grim look which I didn’t like at all. The mere sight of them gave me the sort of feeling Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego must have had when preparing to enter the burning, fiery furnace.
As I scanned the multitudeScanning the multitude,
Do you suppose for a moment that when Mr. Glossop hears me singing that dashed song he’ll come calmly on a minute after me and sing it, too?Do you suppose for a moment that, if when Mr. Glossop hears me singing that dashed song, he’ll come calmly on a minute after me and sing it too?
He had studied the psychology of the individual, if you see what I mean, and it had not led him astray.He had studied the psychology of the individual, and it had not led him astray.
And shortly afterwardAnd shortly afterwards
Well, it was a close thing. If ever my grandchildren cluster about my knee and want to know what I did in the Great War, I shall say, “Never mind about the Great War. Ask me about the time I sang ‘Sonny Boy’ at the Oddfellows’ Hall at Bermondsey East.”Well, it was a close thing.
lost their taste for that particular melody. I should have informed youlost their taste for that particular melody.”
“Eh?”
“I should have informed you
the sort of noise which you hear at one of those East End boxing placesthe sort of noise which you hear, they tell me, at one of those East End boxing places
the vegetable motifthe vegetable motive
At this point old Beefy Bingham came out upon the platform.
I supposed that he was about to rebuke his flock for the recent expression of feeling. But such was not the case. No doubt he was accustomed by now to the wholesome give-and-take of these clean, bright entertainments and had ceased to think it worth while to make any comment when there was a certain liveliness.
At this point old Beefy Bingham came out on to the platform.
Mr. Enoch Simpson will recite ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade.’Mr. Enoch Simpson will recite ‘Dangerous Dan McGrew’.
“I’ve just been singing at Beefy Bingham’s entertainment,” he said after a pause. “You weren’t there, by any chance?”
“Oh, no,” I said. “How did you go?”
“I’ve just been singing at Beefy Bingham’s entertainment,” he said after a pause.
“Oh?” I said. “How did you go?”
“What!”
“No, I don’t.”
“Why makes you think that?”
“You don’t?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Why don’t you?”
called up Angela.
“She says come right round,” I said.
called up Aunt Dahlia’s.
“She says come right along,” I said.


Jeeves and the Dog McIntosh


Jeeves and the Spot of Art


Jeeves and the Kid Clementina


Jeeves and the Love That Purifies


Jeeves and the Old School Chum


The Indian Summer of an Uncle


Tuppy Changes His Mind

Wodehouse’s writings are copyright © Trustees of the Wodehouse Estate in most countries;
material published prior to 1925 is in USA public domain, used here with permission of the Estate.
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