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Psmith in the City (1910) [PIC] • The Little Nugget (1913) [LN] • The Man Upstairs (1914) [MU]
Something Fresh (1915) [SFr] • Psmith Journalist (1915) [PsJ] • Uneasy Money (1917) [UM]
The Man with Two Left Feet (1917) [MLF] • Piccadilly Jim (1918) [PJ] • My Man Jeeves (1919) [MMJ]
A Damsel in Distress (1919) [DD]

PSMITH IN THE CITY

PIC, Chapter 4

Mike merely stood wrapped in silence, as in a garment.

Psalm 104:1-2 / 1 Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. 2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain.

PIC, Chapter 6

My feelings towards him were those of some kindly father to his prodigal son.

The "prodigal son" is the name usually given to the younger of two sons in the parable told by Jesus in Luke 15:11-32. Having demanded of his father his share of the estate, he left for a distant country and "wasted his substance with riotous living." Came a famine, and he hired himself out to one of the inhabitants who made him feed his pigs. "And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him." So he decided to go home. Instead of rebuking him, his father clasped him in his arms, kissed him, and ordered his servants to bring out the best clothes and to kill the fatted calf. One of the most beautiful parables of the Gospel, illustrating God's mercy.

PIC, Chapter 7

What with the strenuous labours of the bank and the disturbing interviews with the powers that be

Romans 13:1 / Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

In modern English, the expression "the powers that be" is often applied in a humoristic way to the people in authority.

PIC, Chapter 8

The moral reformation of Comrade Bickersdyke, that man of blood.

2 Samuel 16:7 / The words of his curse were these: Be off, be off, man of blood, scoundrel! (Jerusalem Bible)

Shimei, a partisan of the house of Saul, cursing David. This verse is the first of many biblical passages featuring the expression "man of blood" (in Hebrew, literally, "man of bloods", denoting a bloodthirsty, violent person. The King James Version reads "bloody man".

PIC, Chapter 9

By the end of the fortnight the flapping of the white wings of Peace over the Postage Department was setting up a positive draught.

Genesis 8:11 / And the dove came in to him [Noah] in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.

The olive leaf or branch, heralding the end of the flood, has become the universal symbol of peace and goodwill.

The great man (...) was coming down the main staircase at peace with all men

Hebrews 12:14 / Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

PIC, Chapter 11

When a second man of wrath put the above on my forehead.

Proverbs 19:19 / A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: for if thou deliver him, yet thou must do it again.

PIC, Chapter 12

On Mr Rossiter's return from the lion's den

Daniel 6:16 / Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said to Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.

The satraps of the kingdom of Darius, resenting Daniel's promotion, had set a trap for him by inducing Darius to sign a decree banning prayer to anyone but the king. When Daniel was seen praying to his God, the king had no choice but to order him to be thrown into a den of lions. Next morning, Daniel was found, unhurt, and his accusers were thrown to the lions instead.

When a merchant has attached himself to your collar, can you do less than smite him on the other cheek? I merely acted in self-defence.

Matthew 5:39 / But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Christ forbids his disciples to return evil for evil in the "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth" spirit. His own example in John 18:22-23 shows us that it is not forbidden to resist unjust attacks.

PIC, Chapter 15

"I may possibly say a few words", said Psmith carelessly, "if the spirit moves me."

"But it is quite possible that the spirit may not move me."

Judges 13:25 / And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

This verse—speaking of Samson—is a possible source for the phrase which sounds very biblical indeed, but which is difficult to trace back to any passage in particular.

PIC, Chapter 17

Already the fatted blanc-mange has been killed

Luke 15:23 / And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry.

For the parable of the "prodigal son", see above.

If his feelings could have been ascertained at that moment, they would have been summed up in the words, "Death, where is thy sting?"

1 Corinthians 15:55 / O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Another verse often quoted by P G Wodehouse, and always, one regrets to say, used in the wrong way! In the 15th chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul reminds his readers of the fundamental creed of the Christians: the resurrection of the dead, heralded by Christ's own rising from the dead. At the end of his explanation, he exclaims triumphantly: "When this perishable nature has put on imperishability, and when this mortal nature has put on immortality, then the words of scripture will come true: Death is swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?" (Jerusalem Bible)

PIC, Chapter 29

Well, Comrade Jackson, you have fought the good fight this day.

2 Timothy 4:7 / I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.

The apostle Paul, shortly before his martyrdom in 67, looks back on a well-spent life.

When a friend has solved all your difficulties and smoothed out all the rough places which were looming in your path

Isaiah 40:4 / Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.

Luke 3:5 / Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth.

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THE LITTLE NUGGET

LN, Preface (1972)

He will be the sort of man who kicks dogs, grinds the face of the poor and takes three hours for lunch at expensive restaurants.

Isaiah 3:15 / What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts.

LN, Part Two, Chapter 1, section 1

I wrapped myself in comfort as in a garment.

Psalm 104:1-2 / Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. 2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain.

LN, Part Two, Chapter 4, section 1

Mr Abney had a smaller sanctum of his own, reserved exclusively for himself.

The Latin word means "holy place" (Exodus 26:33, Authorised Version). In the Temple of Jerusalem, the Holy (Place) was the middle room, between the Porch and the Holy of Holies.

How long it was before my breath returned, hesitatingly, like some timid Prodigal Son trying to muster up courage to enter the old home, I do not know

The "prodigal son" is the name usually given to the younger of two sons in the parable told by Jesus in Luke 15:11-32. Having demanded of his father his share of the estate, he left for a distant country and "wasted his substance with riotous living." Came a famine, and he hired himself out to one of the inhabitants who made him feed his pigs. "And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him." So he decided to go home. Instead of rebuking him, his father clasped him in his arms, kissed him, and ordered his servants to bring out the best clothes and to kill the fatted calf. One of the most beautiful parables of the Gospel, illustrating God's mercy.

LN, Part Two, Chapter 7

I had said to Love, "Thus far, and no farther", and Love had swept over me, the more powerful for being checked.

Job 38:11 / And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.

A possible allusion to the words with which the Creator limits the power of the sea; compare the phrase "Love had swept over me".

LN, Part Two, Chapter 8, section 3

Before I could reply, babel broke loose.

Genesis 11:9 / Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

In Genesis 11:1-9, Babel is the name of the city, where God caused the confusion of languages, in order to put a halt to the presumptuous construction of a tower reaching to heaven.

LN, Part Two, Chapter 9

When Sam had left, which he did rather in the manner of a heavy father in melodrama, shaking the dust of an erring son's threshold off his feet

Matthew 10:14 / And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

Jewish gesture, signifying that the place or the house that refuses Jesus' word is to be considered as "unclean", i.e. unworthy to approach God.

LN, Part Two, Chapter 10, section 1

I was resolved that the last day of term should end for ever my connexion with Sanstead House and all that was in it.

Psalm 146:6 / Which [God] made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever.

The phrase "all that therein is" can be found elsewhere in the Bible, but Wodehouse is more likely to have picked it up in the Psalms.

LN, Part Two, Chapter 10, section 2

"This is the end of all things", I said to myself.

It was the end of all things.

1 Peter 4:7 / But the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

I sat there and groaned in spirit.

John 11:33 / When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.

LN, Part Two, Chapter 14, section 2

A little rest, Mr Burns! A little folding of the hands? Thank you.

Proverbs 6:9-11 / 9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? 10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.

LN, Part Two, Chapter 15, section 2

Manna falling from the skies in the wilderness never received a more whole-hearted welcome.

Deuteronomy 8:16 / Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end.

John 6:49 / Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

After their flight from Egypt, God provided the Israelites in the desert with a miraculous sort of food, called "manna" (full story in Exodus 16:1-36).

The babel of talk broke out again.

See above.

The darkness was about us like a cloud.

Psalm 97:2 / Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.

A possible reminiscence of the biblical association of "cloud" and "darkness"?

LN, Part Two, Chapter 16

The world and all that was in it seemed infinitely remote.

See above.

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THE MAN UPSTAIRS

MU, Chapter 1 (The Man Upstairs)

She was so used to hearing Sellers lash the Philistine

The Philistines were among the most bitter enemies of Israel in the Old Testament. Figuratively speaking, a philistine is an uncultured, prosaic person.

You're just in time to join in the massacre of the innocents.

Matthew 2:16 / Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

When Herod, king of Judaea, heard of the birth of an infant who was to be king of the Jews, he ordered the massacre of all the children of two years and younger, expecting the newborn king to be among the victims. This massacre is also called the "slaughter of the innocents".

Sellers has been smiting my child and cat hip and thigh.

Judges 15:8 / And he [Samson] smote them [the Philistines] hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam.

Sellers' views on Philistines and their crass materialism and lack of taste underwent a marked modification.

See above.

MU, Chapter 2 (Something to Worry About)

He classed cinema palaces with theatres as wiles of the devil.

Ephesians 6:11 / Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Only centenarians die

Isaiah 65:19-20 / 19 I shall rejoice over Jerusalem and exult in my people. No more will the sound of weeping or the sound of cries be heard in her; 20 in her, no more will be found the infant living a few days only, or the old man not living to the end of his days. To die at the age of a hundred will be dying young; not to live to be a hundred will be the sign of a curse (Jerusalem Bible).

In the above passage—quoted from the Jerusalem Bible, as the King James Version does not give a satisfactory translation—the prophet Isaiah foresees that in the future the peace and harmony of the earthly paradise will be restored, of which longevity is one of the symbols. The resemblance to the conditions prevailing in Millbourne, Hampshire, England, is striking.

"Why you're nothing more nor less than a Joshua!"

The years that had passed since Joe had attended the village Sunday-school had weakened his once easy familiarity with the characters of the Old Testament. It is possible that he had somebody else in his mind.

After the death of Moses, Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan and conquered the Promised Land. It is indeed possible that Joe Blossom was thinking of someone else: either Delilah or—which is more likely, given a certain similarity between her name and Joshua's—Jezebel.

MU, Chapter 3 (Deep Waters)

The sun no longer beat down on the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:2 / And the earth was without form, and void: and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

The biblical sounding "face of the waters" may be a reminiscence of the well-known beginning of the book of Genesis.

MU, Chapter 4 (When Doctors Disagree)

Half-hours in the editor's cosy sanctum

The Latin word means "holy place" (Exodus 26:33, Authorised Version). In the Temple of Jerusalem, the Holy (Place) was the middle room, between the Porch and the Holy of Holies.

MU, Chapter 5 (By Advice of Counsel)

You wouldn't think, to look at me, would you now, that I was once like the lily of the field?

What I mean to say is, I didn't toil, neither did I spin.

Matthew 6:28-29 / 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Began to talk about Delilahs and Jezebels

Judges 16:4-5 / 4 And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. 5 And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.

Full story in Judges 16:4-22. Samson's wife Delilah betrayed the secret of his great strength—namely that his head had never been shorn—to the Philistines, lulled him to sleep in her lap, and summoned a man who sheared Samson's hair. The Philistines were so enabled to seize him and put out his eyes.

1 Kings 21:23 / And of Jezebel also spake the Lord, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.

2 Kings 9:35-36 / 35 And they went to bury her: but they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands. 36 Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he [Jehu] said, This is the word of the Lord, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jizreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel.

Jezebel was the wife of Ahab, king of Israel. Her despotism and idolatry have made her a symbol of female wickedness. Ahab's general Jehu ordered that she be thrown out of her window. You can read about her in 1 Kings 16-21 and 2 Kings 9.

A big brother, who worked in a bank and was dressed like Moses in all his glory

Matthew 6:28-29 / 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Mr Roach is confusing Moses with Solomon. Oddly enough, the description of "Solomon in all his glory" comes from the same gospel passage quoted at the outset of this short story. While it is true that Moses certainly gave the populace an eyeful when he came down from mount Sinai—"the skin of his face shon", says Exodus 34:29—this had nothing to do with his wardrobe.

MU, Chapter 6 (Rough-Hew Them How We Will)

To marry the former and own the latter was Paul's idea of the earthly paradise

Genesis 2:8 / And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

The Hebrew word for "garden" was translated as "paradise" in the Greek version of the Old Testament.

Wandering disconsolately among those who dwell in outer darkness

Matthew 22:13 / Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

In the light of Wodehouse's fondness for this verse (see the Biblical Index), we may assume that the "outer darkness" here is another reference to the same text.

Adding her own voice to the babel.

Genesis 11:9 / Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

In Genesis 11:1-9, Babel is the name of the city, where God caused the confusion of languages, in order to put a halt to the presumptuous construction of a tower reaching to heaven.

MU, Chapter 7 (The Man Who Disliked Cats)

If I fail, his 'ands shall be washed of me.

He washed his hands of you?

Matthew 27:24 / When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

MU, Chapter 8 (Ruth in Exile)

Ruth in Exile

The Book of Ruth tells the story of Ruth, a Moabitess, who had married a Hebrew and determined to live in Judah—i.e. in exile—with her mother-in-law, where she was to become the great-grandmother of king David through her marriage with Boaz. The poet Keats, in his "Ode to a Nightingale", wrote these famous lines: "... the sad heart of Ruth, when sick for home, / She stood in tears amid the alien corn."

He added his voice to the babel

See above.

Mr Warden started like a war-horse at the sound of the trumpet.

See Job 39:25. Curiously enough, this is one of the passages where Wodehouse does not quote the Authorised Version, which he uses elsewhere ("He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha"), but a different translation, in which the war-horse starts (or snorts) at the sound of the bugle (or trumpet). On the internet, I have found only one version that comes close to our text, the so-called "New Living Translation": "It snorts at the sound of the bugle." Unfortunately, this translation was only published in 1996! Could someone help me to identify the version used by Wodehouse?

On his face, as he went, was a look such as Moses might have worn on the summit of Pisgah.

Deuteronomy 34:1-4 / 1 And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, 2 and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, 3 and the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. 4 And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.

For some shortage of faith, which remains obscure, Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land. On the peak of Pisgah, he was granted a sight of it.

MU, Chapter 9 (Archibald's Benefit)

He was the serpent in their Eden.

For Eden, see above.

Genesis 3:1 / Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

The serpent symbolises a force hostile to God and mankind. The New Testament and the Christian tradition identify this being with the Devil or Satan.

But he persevered heroically, and so far had not been found wanting.

Daniel 5:27 / Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.

Belshazzar, whom the book of Daniel calls "king" of Babylon and son of Nebuchadnezzar (he was, in fact, the son of Nabonidus and was never king), was giving a great banquet—one of these "Babylonian orgies" to which the Master periodically refers—when suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the wall: "Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin". Daniel was able to interpret this "writing on the wall", and gave the meaning of the word "tekel": "You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting". That same night, Belshazzar was murdered.

MU, Chapter 12 (Pots o' Money)

It missed him by an inch, and crashed against a plaster statuette of the Infant Samuel on the top of the piano. It was a standard loaf, containing eighty per cent of semolina, and it practically wiped the Infant Samuel out of existence.

A picture of the Infant Samuel in prayer, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, apparently inspired the little statuette which could be found in nearly every respectable protestant household in the days of yore. Sir Joshua may have based his painting on 1 Samuel 3:1-18, where the child Samuel is called by the Lord and replies: "Speak; for thy servant heareth."

You need not babble it from the house-tops.

Matthew 10:27 / What I tell you in darkness, that preach ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.

MU, Chapter 13 (Out of School)

A general air of being present in body but absent in spirit.

1 Corinthians 5:3 / For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed.

A possible reminiscence?

The deeper did the iron become embedded in his soul.

Psalm 105:18 / Whose feet they hurt in the stocks: the iron entered into his soul (Book of Common Prayer).

A possible allusion to the Psalm which is quoted more literally elsewhere in the Wodehouse canon.

MU, Chapter 14 (Three from Dunsterville)

He stayed her with minced chicken and comforted her with soft shelled crab.

Song of Solomon 2:5 / Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.

Wonderful update of a beautiful love poem!

Speaking in parables

Matthew 13:3 / And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow.

That you should perform a similar act of Christian charity.

1 Corinthians 13:13 / And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

One ought to read the whole of 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 to understand the meaning of Christian "charity" or love.

MU, Chapter 16 (Ahead of Schedule)

"Men have married at twice my age!"

Strictly speaking, this was incorrect, unless one counted Methuselah

Genesis 5:27 / And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.

Methuselah holds the record for longevity in the Bible.

We wait on, hoping against hope

Romans 4:18 / Who [Abraham] against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.

She appeared at peace with all men.

Hebrews 12:14 / Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

MU, Chapter 17 (Sir Agravaine)

He groaned in spirit.

John 11:33 / When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.

MU, Chapter 18 (The Goal-Keeper and the Plutocrat)

Poised on one foot in the attitude of a Salome dancer

See Mark 6:21-29. Although the New Testament does not mention her name, Salome is the girl whose dancing so pleased her stepfather Herod Antipas, that he promised to give her anything she might demand, "unto the half of my kingdom". At her mother Herodias' request, she asked for the head of John the Baptist, who had denounced Herodias' unlawful marriage to Herod Antipas. Wodehouse's immediate source, however, must be Maud Allan (1873-1956), who was a huge success on the London stage, in or about 1908, with a daring number called "Vision of Salome", most probably inspired by Oscar Wilde's "Salome".

Leaving the ground with the air of a father mourning over some prodigal son

The "prodigal son" is the name usually given to the younger of two sons in the parable told by Jesus in Luke 15:11-32. Having demanded of his father his share of the estate, he left for a distant country and "wasted his substance with riotous living." Came a famine, and he hired himself out to one of the inhabitants who made him feed his pigs. "And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him." So he decided to go home. Instead of rebuking him, his father clasped him in his arms, kissed him, and ordered his servants to bring out the best clothes and to kill the fatted calf. One of the most beautiful parables of the Gospel, illustrating God's mercy.

MU, Chapter 19 (In Alcala), section 2

As I was before the cares of the world soured me.

Mark 4:19 / And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

MU, Chapter 19 (In Alcala), section 4

There is balm in Broadway

Jeremiah 8:22 / Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?

A well-known hymn, based on an African-American spiritual, has this refrain: "There is a balm in Gilead / To make the wounded whole; / There is a balm in Gilead / To heal the sin sick soul." The trees of the mountains of Gilead, east of the river Jordan, were noted for the healing balms produced from them.

MU, Chapter 19 (In Alcala), section 6

He seized upon Rutherford and would not let him go.

Song of Solomon 3:4 / It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.

A little far-fetched, perhaps, but there may be a reminiscence here.

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SOMETHING FRESH

SFr, Chapter 1, section 2

Surely you don't think anyone's name could really be Felix Clovelly? That is only the cloak under which I hide my shame.

Genesis 9:23 / And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.

According to Genesis 9:20-27, Noah was the first to plant vines, and with so much success, that he managed to drink himself drunk, uncovering himself inside his tent in the process. His son Ham saw him like that, and told his brothers, Shem and Japheth, about it. Shem and Japheth then did the square thing by their father, by covering him with a cloak, walking backwards in order not to see his nakedness.

SFr, Chapter 2, section 1

To Lord Emsworth the park and gardens of Blandings were the nearest earthly approach to Paradise.

Genesis 2:8 / And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

The Hebrew word for "garden" was translated as "paradise" in the Greek version of the Old Testament.

SFr, Chapter 2, section 2

The prodigal son, by George! Creeping back into the fold after all this weary time!

Matthew 18:12 / How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

A nice blend of two parables: the "prodigal son" and the "lost sheep".

The "prodigal son" is the name usually given to the younger of two sons in the parable told by Jesus in Luke 15:11-32. Having demanded of his father his share of the estate, he left for a distant country and "wasted his substance with riotous living." Came a famine, and he hired himself out to one of the inhabitants who made him feed his pigs. "And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him." So he decided to go home. Instead of rebuking him, his father clasped him in his arms, kissed him, and ordered his servants to bring out the best clothes and to kill the fatted calf. One of the most beautiful parables of the Gospel, illustrating God's mercy.

What he was certain of, was the fact that the Heavens had opened unexpectedly

Matthew 3:16 / And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.

SFr, Chapter 3, section 1

The smile of a man at peace with all men curved his weak mouth

Hebrews 12:14 / Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

SFr, Chapter 3, section 2

Gradually he came to love his scarabs with that love passing the love of women which only collectors know.

2 Samuel 1:26 / I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.

SFr, Chapter 3, section 3

With silent blessings on the head of the genius who founded the place

Proverbs 10:6 / Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.

SFr, Chapter 3, section 5

To be transferred to one of peace and goodwill.

Luke 2:14 / Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

The above song of praise, rendered by the angels in Bethlehem, has become the beginning of a hymn sung in both Catholic and Anglican worship, the "Gloria in excelsis Deo".

SFr, Chapter 3, section 6

A great light had dawned upon him

Isaiah 9:2 / The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

SFr, Chapter 5, section 2

Turning the world from a bleak desert into a land flowing with milk and honey.

Exodus 3:8 / And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

She had yelled, she had bellowed, and would not be comforted

Jeremiah 31:15 / Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.

Several Bible texts speak of persons who refuse to be comforted, but the verse quoted above is more likely to have left its marks in the memory of P G Wodehouse, as it is quoted by the evangelist Matthew to illustrate the distress of the mothers of the slaughtered innocents. When Herod, king of Judaea, heard of the birth of an infant who was to be king of the Jews, he ordered the massacre of all the children of two years and younger, expecting the newborn king to be among the victims. "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not" (Matthew 2:17-18).

SFr, Chapter 5, section 3

It was open to the four winds of heaven

Daniel 7:2 / Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.

A possible reminiscence of a biblical expression.

SFr, Chapter 5, section 5

A trifle shaky on the subject of the Kings of Judah

After the reign of Solomon, the Hebrew nation was split up into two distinct kingdoms, Judah and "Israel" (i.e. the ten northern tribes). The kings of Judah, until the Babylonian captivity in 587 BC, were: Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, Ahaziah, Athaliah, Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah.

SFr, Chapter 5, section 6

He prowled through life as we are told that the Hosts of Midian prowled.

Allusion to a hymn by John Mason Neale (1818-1866), first published for congregational use in his Parish Hymn Book (1863): "Christian, dost thou see them / On the holy ground? / How the troops of Midian / Prowl and prowl around? / Christian, up and smite them, / Counting gain but loss; / Smite them by the merit / Of the holy cross." In the Old Testament, the Midianites lived to the south of the Promised Land. Their raids on the neighbourhood lead them to blows with the Hebrews. Judges 6-8 describe how Gideon delivered Israel from their oppression.

SFr, Chapter 6, section 1

Such is life. A little rest, a little folding of the hands in sleep, and then, bing! off we go again.

Proverbs 6:9-11 / 9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? 10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.

SFr, Chapter 8, section 2

Mastication of rich meats which, together with the gift of speech, raises Man above the beasts of the field!

Daniel 4:32 / And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.

Towards the end of his life, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, suffered a form of madness which lead him to believe he was an animal. The author of the book of Daniel considered this a punishment for worshipping the wrong gods. Chapter 4 gives the biblical version of this strange disease.

Other people might hide their light under a bushel, not George Emerson.

Matthew 5:15-16 / 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

SFr, Chapter 8, section 4

The second shot hit the dinner-gong and made a perfectly extraordinary noise like the Last Trump.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 / 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. / 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

The trumpet is a traditional feature of so-called apocalyptic imagery, i.e. the language describing metaphorically what will happen at the end of time. The instrument symbolises the solemn fulfilment of God's plan.

SFr, Chapter 9, section 2

He perceived Lord Emsworth, in an un-Sabbatarian suit of tweeds and bearing a gardening-fork which must have pained the Bishop

Exodus 20:8-10 / 8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.

The Sabbath is the seventh day of the Jewish week, considered as the day of religious rest ordered by the fourth of the Ten Commandments. The word "Sabbath" is often applied, in the protestant tradition, to the Sunday, which the Christians observe as the Lord's day instead of the Jewish Sabbath. Whether Lord Emsworth's messing about with gardening-forks falls into the category of "work" is a moot point.

SFr, Chapter 10, section 1

In the fullness of time there came to her the recollection

Galatians 4:4 / But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.

The "fulness of time" is the moment, foretold by the prophets, for the Messiah to come.

SFr, Chapter 10, section 5

That's not the gospel I preached to you in Arundell Street, is it!

Matthew 4:23 / And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

This is the first time the expression "preaching the gospel" occurs in the New Testament. The "gospel" is the "good news" of the impending coming of the kingdom of God.


The following two items can be found in the "red paint" sequence in chapter 9 of "Something New", the American edition of "Something Fresh". The sequence was omitted from the UK edition.

The room to which he referred was none other than the private sanctum of Mr Beach

The Latin word means "holy place" (Exodus 26:33, Authorised Version). In the Temple of Jerusalem, the Holy (Place) was the middle room, between the Porch and the Holy of Holies.

No trumpet-call ever acted more instantaneously on old war-horse than this simple remark on the Efficient Baxter.

Job 39:25 / He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.

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PSMITH JOURNALIST

PsJ, Chapter 4

Billy's first act on arriving in this sanctum was to release the cat

The Latin word means "holy place" (Exodus 26:33, Authorised Version). In the Temple of Jerusalem, the Holy (Place) was the middle room, between the Porch and the Holy of Holies.

For genuine lovers of the dance fought shy of a place where at any moment Philistines might burst in and break heads and furniture.

The Philistines were among the most bitter enemies of Israel in the Old Testament. Figuratively speaking, a philistine is an uncultured, prosaic person.

And the police left the Groome Street Gang unmolested and they waxed fat and flourished.

Psalm 92:13-14 / 13 Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing.

PsJ, Chapter 5

Sufficient unto the day, Comrade Windsor.

Matthew 6:34 / Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

PsJ, Chapter 7

And a larger room beyond, which was the editorial sanctum.

See above.

PsJ, Chapter 8

To an outside spectator he would have seemed rather like a very well-dressed Daniel introduced into a den of singularly irritable lions.

Daniel 6:16 / Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said to Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.

The satraps of the kingdom of Darius, resenting Daniel's promotion, had set a trap for him by inducing Darius to sign a decree banning prayer to anyone but the king. When Daniel was seen praying to his God, the king had no choice but to order him to be thrown into a den of lions. Next morning, Daniel was found, unhurt, and his accusers were thrown to the lions instead.

PsJ, Chapter 11

The noise penetrated into the editorial sanctum

See above.

PsJ, Chapter 13

For the moment I fancied that my literary talents had been weighed in the balance and adjudged below par.

Daniel 5:27 / Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.

Belshazzar, whom the book of Daniel calls "king" of Babylon and son of Nebuchadnezzar (he was, in fact, the son of Nabonidus and was never king), was giving a great banquet—one of these "Babylonian orgies" to which the Master periodically refers—when suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the wall: "Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin". Daniel was able to interpret this "writing on the wall", and gave the meaning of the word "tekel": "You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting". That same night, Belshazzar was murdered.

His lot had been cast in pleasant places

Psalm 16:6 / The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.

The Book of Common Prayer reads: "The lot is fallen unto me in a fair ground."

His duties will be to sit in the room opening out of ours, girded as to the loins

Luke 12:35 / Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning.

Wearing a girdle round one's loins or waist means being ready for action, or equipped for a journey.

PsJ, Chapter 14

But always he kept boring in, delivering an occasional right to the body with the pleased smile of an infant destroying a Noah's Ark with a tack-hammer.

Genesis 6:13-14 / 13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.

The Master's text refers to a toy replica of the vessel in which Noah saved his family and the animal kingdom.

PsJ, Chapter 15

"To such an extent, Comrade Brady", said Psmith, "that he left breathing threatenings and slaughter."

Acts 9:1 / And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest.

PsJ, Chapter 21

Suddenly from the street far below there came a fusillade of shots and a babel of shouts and counter-shouts.

Genesis 11:9 / Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

In Genesis 11:1-9, Babel is the name of the city, where God caused the confusion of languages, in order to put a halt to the presumptuous construction of a tower reaching to heaven.

PsJ, Chapter 24

"Why, Comrade Jackson", he said, with the air of a father welcoming home the prodigal son

The "prodigal son" is the name usually given to the younger of two sons in the parable told by Jesus in Luke 15:11-32. Having demanded of his father his share of the estate, he left for a distant country and "wasted his substance with riotous living." Came a famine, and he hired himself out to one of the inhabitants who made him feed his pigs. "And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him." So he decided to go home. Instead of rebuking him, his father clasped him in his arms, kissed him, and ordered his servants to bring out the best clothes and to kill the fatted calf. One of the most beautiful parables of the Gospel, illustrating God's mercy.

PsJ, Chapter 25

Psmith received the newcomers in the editorial sanctum.

See above.

PsJ, Chapter 28

"I am Psmith", said the old Etonian reverently. "There is a preliminary P before the name. This, however, is silent. Like the tomb. Compare such words as ptarmigan, psalm, and phthisis."

A psalm is any of the religious songs and hymns which together form the biblical "Book of Psalms".

PsJ, Chapter 29

During the past seven weeks you have been endeavouring in your cheery fashion to blot the editorial staff of this paper off the face of the earth in a variety of ingenious and entertaining ways

Genesis 7:4 / For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.

A possible reminiscence of the biblical story of the flood; other translations read "blot out" instead of "destroy".

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UNEASY MONEY

UM, Chapter 4

When I contemplate you, the iron enters my soul.

Psalm 105:18 / Whose feet they hurt in the stocks: the iron entered into his soul (Book of Common Prayer).

UM, Chapter 9

I'd have treated you like the Prodigal Son.

The "prodigal son" is the name usually given to the younger of two sons in the parable told by Jesus in Luke 15:11-32. Having demanded of his father his share of the estate, he left for a distant country and "wasted his substance with riotous living." Came a famine, and he hired himself out to one of the inhabitants who made him feed his pigs. "And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him." So he decided to go home. Instead of rebuking him, his father clasped him in his arms, kissed him, and ordered his servants to bring out the best clothes and to kill the fatted calf. One of the most beautiful parables of the Gospel, illustrating God's mercy.

I object to having a stranger on the premises spying out the nakedness of the land.

Genesis 42:9 / And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.

Joseph, son of Jacob, was disliked by his brothers, who sold him to a group of Ishmaelites. Carried to Egypt by his captors, he became, after many adventures, Pharaoh's chief minister. During a long period of famine, Jacob sent ten of his sons to Egypt to buy some grain. When Joseph, who was in charge of the granaries, recognized his brothers, he pretended to believe that they were spies, as part of a stratagem designed to make them fetch his youngest brother Benjamin. Read the whole story in Genesis 37-50.

UM, Chapter 13

Eustace has been raising Cain

Genesis 4:1-26. Cain is the first son of Adam and Eve, and a tiller of the soil, while his brother Abel was a shepherd. When both made gifts to God of their produce, the Lord accepted the latter's offering, but not the former's. Cain killed Abel and was condemned by God to be "a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth." Making trouble is raising the spirit of Cain.

UM, Chapter 14

But it had sneaked upon him like a thief in the night

1 Thessalonians 5:2 / For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

UM, Chapter 15

It was deep calling unto deep.

Psalm 42:7 / Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.

Waters are often used in the Bible as a symbol of deadly peril.

UM, Chapter 18

The Man, having spied out the land in his two visits to Lady Wetherby's house, was now about to break in.

See above, chapter 9. There may also be an allusion here to Numbers 13:16-17 / 16 These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua. 17 And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain.

UM, Chapter 19

A general suggestion of prodigal daughters revisiting old homesteads

See above.

UM, Chapter 20

To remind him (...) that all flesh was grass

Isaiah 40:6 / The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field.

Half an hour ago he had felt like Lucifer hurled from heaven.

Isaiah 14:12 / How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

Isaiah 14:3-21 is a satire on the king of Babylon's death. The name "Lucifer", Latin for "light-bearer", is used in classical mythology for the planet Venus. The Fathers of the Church saw in the fall of this "morning star" a symbol of that of the devil. That was how "Lucifer" became a synonym for Satan.

She suggested (...) the prodigal daughter revisiting the old homestead.

See above.

Bachelors were mere wild asses of the desert.

Job 24:5 / Behold, as wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work; rising betimes for a prey: the wilderness yieldeth food for them and for their children.

UM, Chapter 23

The iron entered into Nutty's soul.

See above.

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THE MAN WITH TWO LEFT FEET

MLF, Chapter 1 (Bill the Bloodhound)

Often as he had seen the piece in the course of its six weeks' wandering in the wilderness

Numbers 14:33 / And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.

Because of their rebellious attitude in the desert, God decreed that the Israelites who had fled Egypt would not enter the Promised Land, but wander in the wilderness for forty years until that generation had died.

MLF, Chapter 2 (Extricating Young Gussie)

Perhaps each head of the family's going to marry into vaudeville for ever and ever. Unto the what-d'you-call-it generation, don't you know?

Exodus 20:5 / Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them [viz. idols], nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.

MLF, Chapter 3 (Wilton's Holiday)

I'm not fit to black her shoes.

Mark 1:7 / And [John] preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.

Possibly a jocular reminiscence of the gospel text. John the Baptist, speaking of Christ, states he is not even worthy to serve him in a way usually reserved to slaves.

When I felt like one of the beasts that perish.

Psalm 49:12 / Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish.

Neither showed any disposition to exercise that gift of speech which places Man in a class of his own, above the ox, the ass, the common wart-hog, and the rest of the lower animals.

Isaiah 1:3 / The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.

Is Wodehouse thinking of the ox and the ass of our Christmas cribs? If so, it should be noted that they are not mentioned in the gospel narration of Christ's birth! They occur for the first time in the second century apocryphal Gospel of James, also known as the Protevangelium. The above quoted text of Isaiah, however, is likely to be the biblical source behind the animals' alleged presence at their "Master's crib".

MLF, Chapter 5 (The Mixer—II)

Perhaps Toto at the eleventh hour had explained everything.

Matthew 20:6 / And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

In the "Parable of the vineyard labourers", Jesus tells us of a landowner going out several times a day to hire workers for his vineyard: at daybreak, at the third hour (about 9 am), at the sixth hour (midday), at the ninth hour (3 pm) and, surprisingly, even at the eleventh hour (about 5 pm)! In the end, those who were hired at the eleventh hour receive the same wages as those who have been working all day. This story thus illustrates God's generosity, which exceeds the human understanding of justice.

MLF, Chapter 6 (Crowned Heads)

She was not likely to forget the time when he went to bed President Roosevelt and woke up the Prophet Elijah.

Elijah is traditionally believed to be the greatest prophet of the Old Testament. He lived in the 9th century BC. You can read about him in 1 Kings 17-21 and 2 Kings 1.

MLF, Chapter 9 (One Touch of Nature)

He loved baseball with a love passing the love of women

2 Samuel 1:26 / I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.

Fate had been very good to him. It had given him a great game, even unto two home-runs.

Mark 6:22-23 / 22 And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, she danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it to thee. 23 And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom.

Whereupon, at her mother Herodias' request, the girl asked for the head of John the Baptist, who had denounced Herodias' illegal marriage with Herod Antipas. The phrase "even unto", in combination with the verb "to give", must be an indirect reference to the gospel text, often quoted by Wodehouse.

We fans ought to stick to one another in a strange land.

Exodus 2:22 / And she bare him [Moses] a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.

If you have not been entertaining angels unawares, you have at least been giving a dinner to a celebrity.

Hebrews 13:2 / Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews is alluding to Abraham, who offered a princely hospitality to three men, who turned out to be the Lord himself, accompanied by two angels (Genesis 18).

He had found him at last, the Super-Fan, the man who would go through fire and water for a sight of a game of baseball.

Psalm 66:12 / Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.

MLF, Chapter 10 (Black for Luck)

He was black, but comely.

Song of Solomon 1:5-6 / 5 I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. 6 Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.

Knowing that you were all alone and that I had sneaked your—your ewe lamb, as it were?

2 Samuel 12:3 / But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.

I am not at all sure if this or any other biblical text is the direct source of the expression "my ewe lamb".

Solomon couldn't have solved this problem

1 Kings 3:16-28 narrates the "judgment of Solomon". Two prostitutes, each of whom had had a child, came to the king, claiming to be the mother of the only one to survive. Solomon solved the dilemma by ordering that the child be cut in two halves. The real mother, burning with pity for her son, having abandoned her claim, the king decided that the child be given to her.

He spoke briefly of college, still more briefly of Chicago—which city he appeared to regard with a distaste that made Lot's attitude towards the Cities of the Plain almost kindly by comparison.

Genesis 19:29 / And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.

The "cities of the plain" include Sodom and Gomorrah. Wodehouse clearly has forgotten the details of the biblical story: Lot, nephew of Abraham, lived in Sodom, but had to be told by angels to leave the city as God was going to destroy it. The Bible does not show us Lot criticizing the "cities of the plain".

Wolves in sheep's clothing were common objects of the wayside in her unprotected life

Matthew 7:15 / Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

MLF, Chapter 12 (A Sea of Troubles)

"Death, where is thy sting?" thought Mr Meggs

1 Corinthians 15:55 / O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Another verse often quoted by P G Wodehouse, and always, one regrets to say, used in the wrong way! In the 15th chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul reminds his readers of the fundamental creed of the Christians: the resurrection of the dead, heralded by Christ's own rising from the dead. At the end of his explanation, he exclaims triumphantly: "When this perishable nature has put on imperishability, and when this mortal nature has put on immortality, then the words of scripture will come true: Death is swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?" (Jerusalem Bible)

He toiled not, neither did he spin.

Matthew 6:28-29 / 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

All things work together for good.

Romans 8:28 / And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

MLF, Chapter 13 (The Man with Two Left Feet)

Sidney knew absolutely nothing of even such elementary things as Abana, Aberration, Abraham, or Acrogenae

We may suppose the Encyclopaedia Britannica entry to refer to the first of the patriarchs of Israel (Genesis 11-25).

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PICCADILLY JIM

PJ, Chapter 1

The Sabbath calm which was upon the house had not communicated itself to him.

Exodus 20:8 / Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

The Sabbath is the seventh day of the Jewish week, considered as the day of religious rest ordered by the fourth of the Ten Commandments. The word "Sabbath" is often applied, in the protestant tradition, to the Sunday, which the Christians observe as the Lord's day instead of the Jewish Sabbath.

He (...) wandered about, finding, like the dove in Genesis, no rest.

Genesis 8:8-9 / 8 And he [Noah] sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; 9 But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.

That lingering boyishness in him which endeared him to Ann always led him to open his Sabbath reading in this fashion.

See above.

PJ, Chapter 2

They have sung of Ruth, of Israel in bondage, of slaves pining for their native Africa, and of the miner's dream of home.

The Book of Ruth tells the story of Ruth, a Moabitess, who had married a Hebrew and determined to live in Judah with her mother-in-law, where she was to become the great-grandmother of king David through her marriage with Boaz. The poet Keats, in his "Ode to a Nightingale", wrote these famous lines: "... the sad heart of Ruth, when sick for home, / She stood in tears amid the alien corn."

The Book of Exodus narrates the release of the Israelites under Moses from their Egyptian captivity. In "Ivanhoe", the poet Scott sings: "When Israel, of the Lord belov'd, / Out of the land of bondage came, / Her fathers' God before her mov'd, / An awful guide in smoke and flame."

His eyes shone wildly and he snorted like a warhorse.

See Job 39:25. Curiously enough, this is one of the passages where Wodehouse does not quote the Authorised Version, which he uses elsewhere ("He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha"), but a different translation, in which the war-horse starts (or snorts) at the sound of the bugle. On the internet, I have found only one version that comes close to our text, the so-called "New Living Translation": "It snorts at the sound of the bugle." Unfortunately, this translation was only published in 1996! Could someone help me to identify the version used by Wodehouse?

In the centre of which a man in a grey uniform was beginning a Salome dance.

See Mark 6:21-29. Although the New Testament does not mention her name, Salome is the girl whose dancing so pleased her stepfather Herod Antipas, that he promised to give her anything she might demand, "unto the half of my kingdom". At her mother Herodias' request, she asked for the head of John the Baptist, who had denounced Herodias' unlawful marriage to Herod Antipas. Wodehouse's immediate source, however, may be Maud Allan (1873-1956), who was a huge success on the London stage, in or about 1908, with a daring number called "Vision of Salome", most probably inspired by Oscar Wilde's "Salome".

The blighting necessity of offering themselves in the flower of their golden youth as human sacrifices to the Moloch of capitalistic greed

Leviticus 18:21 / And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.

The native population of Canaan used to sacrifice children by burning them, presumably to a divinity called Molech or Moloch. The law of Moses condemns this practice, which seems to have found its way into Israel as well.

Like Saul of Tarsus, he had been stricken dumb by the sudden bright light which his wife's words had caused to flash upon him.

Acts 9:3-4 / 3 And as he [Saul] journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

Acts 9:1-19 relate the conversion of Saul, as the apostle Paul was known then. He was born in Tarsus, in Asia Minor. Saul was travelling to Damascus, in order to persecute Jesus' disciples there, when there came a light from heaven, causing him to fall to the ground, and a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" When Saul got up, he could see nothing at all, until a disciple who lived in Damascus, Ananias, laid his hands on him, whereupon the "scales fell away from Saul's eyes".

PJ, Chapter 3

She did not covet Eugenia's other worldy possessions, but she did grudge her this supreme butler.

Exodus 20:17 / Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

The last of the Ten Commandments. Needless to explain that a butler is not a manservant, of course...

In such a manner as would scourge the offending Adam out of him for once and for all.

Romans 6:6 / Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him [Christ], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

The "old man" or "old Adam" is man considered as sinful and in want of redemption and re-creation. Wodehouse's immediate source is Shakespeare's "King Henry V": "Consideration like an angel came, / And whipp'd the offending Adam out of him."

PJ, Chapter 5

"Jimmy! You haven't been raising Cain again?"

See Genesis 4:1-26. Cain is the first son of Adam and Eve, and a tiller of the soil, while his brother Abel was a shepherd. When both made gifts to God of their produce, the Lord accepted the latter's offering, but not the former's. Cain killed Abel and was condemned by God to be "a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth." Making trouble is raising the spirit of Cain.

PJ, Chapter 6

Prudence came at the eleventh hour to check Jimmy.

Matthew 20:6 / And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

In the "Parable of the vineyard labourers", Jesus tells us of a landowner going out several times a day to hire workers for his vineyard: at daybreak, at the third hour (about 9 am), at the sixth hour (midday), at the ninth hour (3 pm) and, surprisingly, even at the eleventh hour (about 5 pm)! In the end, those who were hired at the eleventh hour receive the same wages as those who have been working all day. This story thus illustrates God's generosity, which exceeds the human understanding of justice.

Mark how all things work together for good.

Romans 8:28 / And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

PJ, Chapter 7

Ann, whom he had looked upon purely in the light of an Eve playing opposite his Adam in an exclusive Garden of Eden

Genesis 2:8 / And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

The Hebrew word for "garden" was translated as "paradise" in the Greek version of the Old Testament. In this Garden of Eden, Eve was shaped from one of Adam's ribs.

If bears were sent to attend to the children who criticized Elisha your little friends were in line for a troupe of tigers.

2 Kings 2:23-24 / 23 And he [Elisha] went up from thence unto Beth-el: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. 24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

PJ, Chapter 8

A morbid enterprise, akin to the eccentric behaviour of those priests of Baal who gashed themselves with knives

1 Kings 18:28 / And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.

In 1 Kings 18, the prophet Elijah sets up a competition between 450 priests of Baal (a pagan divinity) and himself, as the representative of the God of Israel. In spite of their impressive self-mutilation, the priests of Baal were unable to make their god ignite a sacrificial bull.

As far as he had had any connected plan of action in his sudden casting-off of the fleshpots of London

Exodus 16:3 / And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

Prodigal Son stuff was all very well in its way, but it lost its impressiveness if you turned up again at home two weeks after you had left. A decent interval among the husks and swine was essential.

Luke 15:16 / And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

The "prodigal son" is the name usually given to the younger of two sons in the parable told by Jesus in Luke 15:11-32. Having demanded of his father his share of the estate, he left for a distant country and "wasted his substance with riotous living." Came a famine, and he hired himself out to one of the inhabitants who made him feed his pigs. "And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him." So he decided to go home. Instead of rebuking him, his father clasped him in his arms, kissed him, and ordered his servants to bring out the best clothes and to kill the fatted calf. One of the most beautiful parables of the Gospel, illustrating God's mercy.

PJ, Chapter 9

It was as if the last trump had sounded.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 / 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. / 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

The trumpet is a traditional feature of so-called apocalyptic imagery, i.e. the language describing metaphorically what will happen at the end of time. The instrument symbolises the solemn fulfilment of God's plan.

PJ, Chapter 11

He refused to be comforted.

Jeremiah 31:15 / Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.

Several Bible texts speak of persons who refuse to be comforted, but the verse quoted above is more likely to have left its marks in the memory of P G Wodehouse, as it is quoted by the evangelist Matthew to illustrate the distress of the mothers of the slaughtered innocents. When Herod, king of Judaea, heard of the birth of an infant who was to be king of the Jews, he ordered the massacre of all the children of two years and younger, expecting the newborn king to be among the victims. "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not" (Matthew 2:17-18).

A resolute determination to raise Cain at the slightest provocation.

See above.

Jimmy found her staring in a rapt way at a statuette of the Infant Samuel that stood near a bowl of wax fruit on the mantelpiece.

A picture of the Infant Samuel in prayer, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, apparently inspired the little statuette which could be found in nearly every respectable protestant household in the days of yore. Sir Joshua may have based his painting on 1 Samuel 3:1-18, where the child Samuel is called by the Lord and replies: "Speak; for thy servant heareth."

PJ, Chapter 12

The iron entered into her soul and she refused to be comforted.

Psalm 105:18 / Whose feet they hurt in the stocks: the iron entered into his soul (Book of Common Prayer).

For "refused to be comforted", see above.

PJ, Chapter 15

I am a prodigal nephew returned to the fold.

Matthew 18:12 / How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

A nice blend of two parables: the "prodigal son" (see above ) and the "lost sheep".

On the contrary I am about to go to Mrs Pett and inform her that there is a snake in her Eden.

Genesis 3:1 / Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

For Eden, see above. The serpent symbolises a force hostile to God and mankind. The New Testament and the Christian tradition identify this being with the Devil or Satan.

PJ, Chapter 18

All things, he now perceived, had worked together for good.

See above.

PJ, Chapter 21

I've made up my mind never to lower myself to the level of the beasts that perish with the demon rum again

Psalm 49:12 / Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish.

Daniel 4:32 / And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.

Wodehouse blends two quotations: "lower oneself to the level of the beasts of the field" and "to be like the beasts that perish". Towards the end of his life, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, suffered a form of madness which led him to believe he was an animal. The author of the book of Daniel considered this a punishment for worshipping the wrong gods. Chapter 4 gives the biblical version of this strange disease.

Mr Crocker slid into the outer darkness like a stout ghost

Matthew 22:13 / Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

In the light of Wodehouse's fondness for this verse (see the Biblical Index), we may assume that the "outer darkness" Mr Crocker slid into is another reference to the same text.

PJ, Chapter 23

The experience of passing through the shadow of the valley of death

Psalm 23:4 / Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

PJ, Chapter 26

Why not bury the dead past?

Matthew 8:21-22 / 21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

The actual quotation, however, comes from Longfellow's "A Psalm of Life": "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!" Given the fact that Wodehouse regularly uses the phrase "let the dead past bury its dead", we may see another biblical reminiscence here.

Here's the dead past, Jimmy! Go and bury it!

See above.

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MY MAN JEEVES

MMJ, Chapter 1 (Leave it to Jeeves)

All he would consider would be that I had gone and taken an important step without asking his advice, and he would raise Cain automatically.

See Genesis 4:1-26. Cain is the first son of Adam and Eve, and a tiller of the soil, while his brother Abel was a shepherd. When both made gifts to God of their produce, the Lord accepted the latter's offering, but not the former's. Cain killed Abel and was condemned by God to be "a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth." Making trouble is raising the spirit of Cain.

MMJ, Chapter 2 (Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest)

Why interfere with life's morning? Young man, rejoice in thy youth! Tra-la! What ho!

Ecclesiastes 11:9 / Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.

There really is nobody like Jeeves. He walked straight into the sitting-room, the biggest feat since Daniel and the lions' den, without a quiver.

Daniel 6:16 / Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said to Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.

The satraps of the kingdom of Darius, resenting Daniel's promotion, had set a trap for him by inducing Darius to sign a decree banning prayer to anyone but the king. When Daniel was seen praying to his God, the king had no choice but to order him to be thrown into a den of lions. Next morning, Daniel was found, unhurt, and his accusers were thrown to the lions instead.

MMJ, Chapter 5 (Helping Freddie)

But Freddie wouldn't be comforted.

Jeremiah 31:15 / Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.

Several Bible texts speak of persons who refuse to be comforted, but the verse quoted above is more likely to have left its marks in the memory of P G Wodehouse, as it is quoted by the evangelist Matthew to illustrate the distress of the mothers of the slaughtered innocents. When Herod, king of Judaea, heard of the birth of an infant who was to be king of the Jews, he ordered the massacre of all the children of two years and younger, expecting the newborn king to be among the victims. "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not" (Matthew 2:17-18).

Just then the kid upset the milk over Freddie's trousers, and when he had come back after changing his clothes he began to talk about what a much-maligned man king Herod was. The more he saw of Tootles, he said, the less he wondered at those impulsive views of his on infanticide.

Matthew 2:16 / Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

For an explanation of this "slaughter of the innocents", see above.

MMJ, Chapter 6 (Rallying Round Old George)

I call it rotten work, springing unexpected offspring on a fellow at the eleventh hour like this.

Matthew 20:6 / And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

In the "Parable of the vineyard labourers", Jesus tells us of a landowner going out several times a day to hire workers for his vineyard: at daybreak, at the third hour (about 9 am), at the sixth hour (midday), at the ninth hour (3 pm) and, surprisingly, even at the eleventh hour (about 5 pm)! In the end, those who were hired at the eleventh hour receive the same wages as those who have been working all day. This story thus illustrates God's generosity, which exceeds the human understanding of justice.

MMJ, Chapter 7 (Doing Clarence a Bit of Good)

A woman who could take the name of St Andrews in vain as she had done wouldn't be likely to stick at a trifle.

Exodus 20:7 / Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

You'd have thought she would have preferred to let the dead past bury its dead

Matthew 8:21-22 / 21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

The actual quotation, however, comes from Longfellow's "A Psalm of Life": "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!"

MMJ, Chapter 8 (The Aunt and the Sluggard)

The Aunt and the Sluggard

Proverbs 6:6 / Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.

Given Wodehouse's familiarity with the "sluggard" paragraph of the Book of Proverbs (6:6-11, see the Biblical Index) and the comparable pronunciation—especially in North America—of the words "aunt" and "ant", I am inclined to think the title of this short story was inspired by the Bible.

To have to leave my little cottage and take a stuffy, smelly, over-heated hole of an apartment in this Heaven-forsaken, festering Gehenna.

Joshua 15:8 / And the border went up by the valley of the son of Hinnom unto the south side of the Jebusite; the same is Jerusalem: and the border went up to the top of the mountain that lieth before the valley of Hinnom westward, which is at the end of the valley of the giants northward.

"Gehenna" literally means "valley of Hinnom", which is how it is translated in the Authorised Version. From early times the valley, to the southwest of Jerusalem, was a place of human sacrifice. That is the reason why later Jewish writings considered it to be a place of divine punishment. In the New Testament the word "gehenna" is used to designate the final place or state of torment for the wicked after death. In the English versions of the Bible, the word "gehenna" is nearly always translated as "hell".

I felt rather like Lot's friends must have done when they dropped in for a quiet chat and their genial host began to criticise the Cities of the Plain.

Genesis 19:29 / And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.

The "cities of the plain" include Sodom and Gomorrah. Bertie clearly has forgotten much of his Scripture knowledge in these early short stories: Lot, nephew of Abraham, lived in Sodom, but had to be told by angels to leave the city as God was going to destroy it. The Bible neither shows us Lot criticizing the "cities of the plain", nor chatting with his friends.

She thinks you're Mr Todd's man. She thinks the whole place is his, and everything in it.

Psalm 24:1 / The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it (New International Version).

Mr Mundy was wonderful! He was like some prophet of old, scouring the sins of the people.

Isaiah 58:1 / Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.

He said that the tango and the fox-trot were devices of the devil to drag people down into the Bottomless Pit.

Revelation 9:1-2 / 1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. 2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.

In the Book of Revelation, the "bottomless pit" or "abyss" is the place where the fallen angels are incarcerated.

He said that there was more sin in ten minutes with a negro banjo orchestra than in all the ancient revels of Nineveh and Babylon.

Daniel 5:1-4 / 1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. 2 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. 3 Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. 4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.

This banquet, given by Belshazzar, in reality son of the last king of Babylon, Nabonidus, may well be the prototype of the "Babylonian orgy" to which Wodehouse periodically refers. It was during this meal that the "writing on the wall" appeared, announcing Belshazzar's downfall. Nineveh, capital of the Assyrian empire, was destroyed in 612 BC. The fall of the city is the main subject of the Book of Nahum, one of the Minor Prophets.

Back to top

A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS

DD, Chapter 3

Few crises, however unexpected, have the power to disturb a man who has so conquered the weakness of the flesh

Matthew 26:41 / Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Possible reminiscence of the gospel text, to which Wodehouse alludes more explicitly elsewhere in his books.

He gazed upon Piccadilly with eyes from which the scales had fallen.

Acts 9:18 / And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Acts 9:1-19 relate the conversion of Saul, as the apostle Paul was known then. He was travelling to Damascus, in order to persecute Jesus' disciples there, when there came a light from heaven, causing him to fall to the ground, and a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" When Saul got up, he could see nothing at all, until a disciple who lived in Damascus, Ananias, laid his hands on him, whereupon the "scales fell away from Saul's eyes".

DD, Chapter 6

It was, in fact, a scene which (...) should have brought balm and soothing meditations to one who was the sole heir to all this Paradise.

Genesis 2:8 / And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

The Hebrew word for "garden" was translated as "paradise" in the Greek version of the Old Testament.

And all the time, dash it, you are prowling about London like a lion, seeking whom you may devour

1 Peter 5:8 / Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

DD, Chapter 7

The glory of Belpher is dead; and over its gates Ichabod is written.

1 Samuel 4:19-21 / 19 And his daughter in law, Phineas' wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.

"Ichabod" means "Where is the glory?", viz. the glory of the Lord, whose "throne", the ark of the covenant, has been captured by the Philistines. The tragic circumstances surrounding the boy's birth have lead to his name being used as an exclamation of distress.

On other days of the week all he could do was to stand like Moses on Pisgah and take in the general effect from a distance.

Deuteronomy 34:1-4 / 1 And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, 2 and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, 3 and the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. 4 And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.

For some shortage of faith, which remains obscure, Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land. On the peak of Pisgah, he was granted a sight of it.

So must have felt those marauders of old when they climbed to the top of this very hill to spy out the land.

Numbers 13:16-17 / 16 These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua. 17 And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain.

In fact, when George had removed from the room two antimacassars, three group photographs of the farmer's relations, an illuminated text, and a china statuette of the Infant Samuel, and stacked them in a corner of the empty studio, the place became almost a home from home.

A picture of the Infant Samuel in prayer, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, apparently inspired the little statuette which could be found in nearly every respectable protestant household in the days of yore. Sir Joshua may have based his painting on 1 Samuel 3:1-18, where the child Samuel is called by the Lord and replies: "Speak; for thy servant heareth."

DD, Chapter 8

And when, as happened on an average once a quarter, some visitor, strayed from the main herd, came upon him as he worked and mistook him for one of the gardeners, he accepted the error without any attempt at explanation

John 20:14-15 / 14 And when she [Mary Magdalene] had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

Far-fetched? Possibly.

DD, Chapter 10

I say, my dear old sportsman, I don't want to be the bearer of bad tidings and what not

Isaiah 52:7 / How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace: that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

Negative version of a biblical expression Wodehouse uses elsewhere.

DD, Chapter 11

What George was thinking was that the late King Herod had been unjustly blamed for a policy which had been both statesmanlike and in the interests of the public.

Matthew 2:16 / Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

When Herod, king of Judaea, heard of the birth of an infant who was to be king of the Jews, he ordered the massacre of all the children of two years and younger, expecting the newborn king to be among the victims. This event is called the "massacre" or "slaughter of the innocents".

DD, Chapter 13

It is the presence on the globe of these Plummers that delays the coming of the Millennium.

Revelation 20:4 / And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

The thousand-year period or "millennium" described here in the Book of Revelation, has been explained in different ways throughout the ages. "Millenarianists" are those who interpret these texts literally, and who believe in a future millennium of blessedness, either in heaven or on earth.

DD, Chapter 14

Upon Keggs a bright light had shone.

Isaiah 9:2 / The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

DD, Chapter 15

He appeared to have adopted an attitude towards him which would have excited remark if adopted by David towards Jonathan. He seemed to spend all his spare time frolicking with the man on the golf-links and hobnobbing with him in his house.

1 Samuel 18:1 / And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

The friendship of David and Jonathan, son of Saul, is celebrated by the Bible.

The mud stuck to him like a brother.

Proverbs 18:24 / A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Jocular adaptation of a maxim often quoted by the Master.

The curate's disapproval deepened. In a sense, we are all brothers

Matthew 23:8 / But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.

As we are given an insight into the curate's thoughts, I think I am justified in giving the biblical reference that the man of God may have had in his mind, even if the belief in the brotherhood of men is not exclusively a Christian viewpoint.

He was trapped. Groping in Egyptian darkness, his hands met a coat, then a hat, then an umbrella.

Exodus 10:21-23 / 21 And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. 22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: 23 They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.

This is the ninth of the "Ten Plagues of Egypt", as narrated in Exodus 7-12.

Percy heard the key turn in the lock and burst forth seeking whom he might devour

See above.

The second gift was a small paper pamphlet. It was entitled "Now's the Time!" and seemed to be a story of some kind.

2 Corinthians 6:2 / For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

DD, Chapter 17

Of all the qualities which belong exclusively to Man and are not shared by the lower animals, this surely is the one which marks him off most sharply from the beasts of the field.

Psalm 8:6-7 / 6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: 7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field.

DD, Chapter 20

George, who felt older than this by some ninety-eight years, groaned in spirit.

John 11:33 / When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.

You may take it from me that the good seed was definitely sown that night.

Matthew 13:24 / Another parable put he [Jesus] forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field.

DD, Chapter 21

"I have not stood at the stage-door for twenty-five years", said Lord Marshmoreton sadly.

"Now, it's no use your pulling that Henry W Methuselah stuff", said Billie affectionately.

Genesis 5:27 / And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.

Methuselah holds the record for longevity in the Bible.

I wish you wouldn't talk of "your day" as if you were Noah telling the boys down at the corner store about the good times they all had before the Flood.

Genesis 9:28-29 / 28 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. 29 And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.

Noah, Methuselah's grandson, failed to beat his grandfather's record by 19 years.

DD, Chapter 22

The very first night at dinner 'e took a steel knife to the ontray, and I see 'er ladyship look at him very sharp, as much as to say that scales had fallen from 'er eyes.

See above.

DD, Chapter 23

He found himself looking on his fellow-diners as individuals rather than as a confused mass. The prophet Daniel, after the initial embarrassment of finding himself in the society of the lions had passed away, must have experienced a somewhat similar sensation.

Daniel 6:16 / Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said to Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.

The satraps of the kingdom of Darius, resenting Daniel's promotion, had set a trap for him by inducing Darius to sign a decree banning prayer to anyone but the king. When Daniel was seen praying to his God, the king had no choice but to order him to be thrown into a den of lions. Next morning, Daniel was found, unhurt, and his accusers were thrown to the lions instead.

George huddled pinkly in his chair. He had not foreseen this bally-hooing. Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego combined had never felt a tithe of the warmth that consumed him.

Daniel 3:20 / And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

These three friends of Daniel—perhaps the most popular biblical characters in the Wodehouse canon—had refused to worship the statue of king Nebuchadnezzar, and were thrown in the furnace. But the fire had no power on them, "nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them" (Daniel 3:27). My edition of DD (Penguin, 1987) reads "Meschach" instead of "Meshach".

DD, Chapter 26

All she wanted was rest and leisure—leisure to meditate upon the body upstairs. All flesh is as grass.

Isaiah 40:6 / The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field.

1 Peter 1:24 / For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.

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