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Eggs, Beans and Crumpets (1940) [EBC] • Quick Service (1940) [QS] • Money in the Bank (1946) [MB]
Joy in the Morning (1947) [JM] • Full Moon (1947) [FM] • Spring Fever (1948) [SpF]
Uncle Dynamite (1948) [UD] • The Mating Season (1949) [MS]

EGGS, BEANS AND CRUMPETS

EBC, Chapter 1 (All's Well with Bingo)

Bingo was beginning to understand how the Israelites must have felt when that manna started descending in the wilderness.

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).

Bingo drew a deep, shuddering breath. He felt like one who had passed through the furnace

Isaiah 48:10 / Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

There are many other passages in the Bible which compare chastening experiences to the fire of a furnace.

EBC, Chapter 2 (Bingo and the Peke Crisis)

The car was scarcely out of sight before the Serpent had raised its head in this Garden of Eden—the Little home was one of those houses that stand in spacious grounds along the edge of Wimbledon Common—and was wispering in Bingo's ear: "How about it, old top?"

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.

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.

Mrs Bingo loved these Pekes. She had left them with him as a sacred charge. And at the thought of what would ensue when the time came for him to give an account of his stewardship and he had to confess that he was in the red, imagination boggled.

Luke 16:1-2 / 1 And he [Jesus] said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. 2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? Give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.

Until this moment Bingo had not been altogether free from those things of Conscience... not psalms... yes, qualms.

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

As he passed into the Little domain, he was feeling in some respects like a murderer who has at last succeeded in getting rid of the body and in other respects like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego on emerging from the burning fiery furnace.

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).

Bingo, like Jonah, is one of those fellows who always come up smiling. You may crush him to earth, but he will rise again.

Jonah 1:17 / Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. / 2:10 / And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

The "great fish" has become a "whale" in popular imagination.

EBC, Chapter 3 (The Editor Regrets)

The salary, though small, had come under the head of manna from heaven

Psalm 78:24 / And [the Lord] had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven.

John 6:31 / Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

For the meaning of manna, see above.

EBC, Chapter 5 (Anselm Gets His Chance)

"Ah, well", said Anselm, "these things are no doubt sent to try us. It is by accepting such blows in a meek and chastened spirit..."

"Meek and chastened spirit my left eyeball", cried Myrtle, who, like so many girls today, was apt to be unguarded in her speech.

Isaiah 57:15 / For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Not a literal quotation, but possibly an allusion to a text Wodehouse uses elsewhere.

Myrtle, eyeing him, had the feeling that in supposing that in this pre-eminent plugugly there still lurked something of the Old Adam, she had called her shots correctly.

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.

He wondered what the prophet Isaiah would have had to say about it, had he been informed of her views on strategy and tactics.

Like the other prophets of the Old Testament, Isaiah proclaimed a message both of threat and of consolation. He was certainly not gloomier than his colleagues... Or was Wodehouse thinking of Jeremiah?

He said, not once but many times, that he confidently expected, if the fine weather held up, to knock his little flock cockeyed.

Luke 12:32 / Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

"Of course he has injured me", said the Rev Sidney, with some testiness. "Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Proverbs, six, twenty-seven."

Proverbs 6:27 / Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?

Most curates who find themselves unexpectedly allowed to preach on Sunday evening in the summer time are like dogs let off the chain. They leap. They bound. They sing snatches of the more rollicking psalms.

See above.

Anselm cleared his throat and gave out the simple text of Brotherly Love.

Romans 12:10 / Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.

Beginning with a thoughtful excursus on Brotherly Love among the Hivites and Hittites

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.

The Hivites and the Hittites are two of six or seven pre-Israelite Palestinian peoples mentioned in the Bible.

And what I come to do is 'and back in a meek and contrite spirit this 'ere album of stamps what I snitched last night

See above.

When I think of that there wonderful sermon and all those beautiful things you said in that there wonderful sermon about the 'Ivites and the 'Ittites and doing the right thing by the neighbours

Leviticus 19:18 / Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.

"When I reflect that, had our good vicar but been able to take evensong tonight, this distressing thing would not have occurred, I find myself saying in the words of the prophet Hosea to the children of Adullam..."

"Putting the prophet Hosea to one side for the moment and temporarily pigeon-holing the children of Adullam", interrupted Myrtle, "what are we going to do about this?"

1 Samuel 22:1 / David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him.

Adullam is a place in Judah where David took refuge when he had to flee from Saul. Hosea is one of the Minor Prophets. There is no mention of Adullam in the Book of Hosea, nor does the Bible suggest the slightest connection between the prophet and the locality. Has the Rev Anselm been having a couple?

EBC, Chapter 6 (Romance at Droitgate Spa)

"Her father is a colonel. Or, rather, was. He's dead."

"Ah, well, all flesh is as grass."

"No, it isn't. It's nothing of the kind. The two things are entirely different. I've seen flesh and I've seen grass. No resemblance whatever."

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.

EBC, Chapter 7 (A Bit of Luck for Mabel)

Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, that battered man of wrath

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

Undeniably things had taken a nasty twist, and many a man lacking my vision and enterprise might have turned his face to the wall and said: "This is the end!"

2 Kings 20:1-2 / 1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. 2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord...

EBC, Chapter 9 (Ukridge and the Old Stepper)

Spring, coming in London in a burst of golden sunshine, was calling imperiously to all young men to rejoice in their youth

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.

Who knows but that a man like that would have been called to the telephone at the eleventh hour, leaving me stuck with the bill?

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.

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QUICK SERVICE

QS, Chapter 1

"What are those things sheep have?"

"Lambs?"

"Yes, but some special breed of lambs."

"Ewe lambs?"

"That's right. The Paramount Ham is old Duff's ewe lamb."

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".

She seemed so young, so frail to go up against one who even on his good mornings resembled something out of the Book of Revelation.

The Book of Revelation, or "Apocalypse of John", is the last book of the New Testament and of the entire Bible. Like other apocalyptic literature, its aim is to reveal hidden things, especially what will happen when this world ends. The language used in this sort of writing is highly symbolic, and its visions of horror and destruction should not be taken literally. The true message of the Book of Revelation is a hopeful one: God protects his persecuted Church and will lead her to victory.

QS, Chapter 2

The Paramount Ham, in its capacity of ewe lamb to the managing director, has a shrine to itself.

See above.

QS, Chapter 6

His frame of mind resembled in almost equal proportions that of Mariana in the Moated Grange and that 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.

QS, Chapter 9

"This is a lovely place", he said.

"I'm glad you like it."

"An earthly Paradise, absolutely."

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.

I pointed out to him that it is of the essence of a barmaid's duties that she be all things to all men

1 Corinthians 9:22 / To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

You seem to go from strength to strength.

Psalm 84:7 / They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.

QS, Chapter 10

This extraordinary behaviour on his part convinced him that the fellow was a broken reed.

Isaiah 36:6 / Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him.

QS, Chapter 11

When she went off unexpectedly under their feet like a bomb, strong men were apt to lose their poise and skip like the high hills.

Psalm 114:4 / The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.

One of Wodehouse's favourite biblical gags. This Psalm deals with the crossing of the Red Sea by the children of Israel, as related in Exodus, chapter 14. Although the book of Exodus does not mention any "skipping mountains", this and other extraordinary phenomena are part of the metaphorical language the Bible uses to evoke the power and glory of God. The "high hills" instead of "mountains" may be found in Psalm 68:16 / Why leap ye, ye high hills? This is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever.

He put forward the rather interesting theory that this was quite possibly the selfsame song that found a path through the sad heart of Ruth when, sick for home, she stood in tears amid the alien corn.

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."

He was at a loss to account for its presence there, but it seemed to him to come under the head of manna from heaven.

Psalm 78:24 / And [the Lord] had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven.

John 6:31 / Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

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).

QS, Chapter 13

Giving her an uncomfortable shock as if scales had fallen from her eyes

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".

"Feet of clay" was the distasteful phrase that forced itself on the mind.

Daniel 2:33 / His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.

In the second chapter of the Book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar has a puzzling dream, which only Daniel is able able to reveal: "Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces" (Daniel 2:31-34). Daniel's interpretation of the dream is too long to be discussed in detail (read Daniel 2:36-45), but we must note the meaning of the "feet of clay": "And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken" (Daniel 2:42). Hence the modern use of the expression "feet of clay" to indicate a flaw in the character of an admired person.

It would be alright with him if the entire town of Loose Chippings were to be submerged in molten lava like the Cities of the Plain

Genesis 19:24-25 / 24 And the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

QS, Chapter 16

Because we've got to face it, I'm not fit to button your 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.

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

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MONEY IN THE BANK

MB, Chapter 1

With that air of welcoming a prodigal son which always endeared her to her employer.

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.

MB, Chapter 2

But they were not the sort of eyes which go with a meek and contrite heart

Isaiah 57:15 / For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

She was a stranger in a strange land

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

This is one of the many examples of popular etymology in the Bible, "ger" being the Hebrew word for "stranger".

MB, Chapter 3

She had trained her little flock to come at her call

Luke 12:32 / Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

The carver flexed his muscles and behaved like a war horse at the sound of a bugle.

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 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?

MB, Chapter 5

Something that did not merely cheer without inebriation but bit like a serpent and stung like an adder.

Proverbs 23:31-32 / 31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

With its hideous peril averted only at the eleventh hour

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.

And it was as if a sudden bright light had shone 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.

The theory was one which would have been scouted by anyone at all intimate with Chimp Twist, but it really looked as if he must have been snatched up to heaven in a fiery chariot.

2 Kings 2:11 / And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

MB, Chapter 6

After having preserved for some five minutes the appearance of being one of those loved ones far away, of whom the hymnal speaks

Isaiah 26:3 / Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteh in thee.

Isaiah 57:19 / Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord.

The hymn "Peace, perfect peace" was written by Edward H. Bickersteth, Jr. (1825-1906) in 1875, and contains the lines: "Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away? / In Jesus' keeping we are safe, and they".

MB, Chapter 11

There's a squirt, if you want one. A Hivite and a Jebusite, no less.

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.

The Hivites and the Jebusites are two of six or seven pre-Israelite Palestinian peoples mentioned in the Bible.

MB, Chapter 12

He stood staring at them, his manner that of one from whose eyes the scales have 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".

She shot a swift glance of approval at her helpmeet for the timely suggestion.

Genesis 2:18 / And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

MB, Chapter 13

In fact, I have been through the furnace.

Isaiah 48:10 / Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

There are many other passages in the Bible which compare chastening experiences to the fire of a furnace.

A mighty hunter.

Genesis 10:8-9 / 8 And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.

Nimrod's name has become a synonym for a hunter.

He hated to be the bearer of bad news.

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!

Possibly the negative version of a biblical expression which Wodehouse uses elsewhere more literally.

MB, Chapter 14

He cast a hopeful glance at his pensive helpmeet

See above.

MB, Chapter 16

A little sleep, a little folding of the hands, may be all right for the man of leisure

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.

They prowled and prowled around, like the hosts of Midian

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.

He could see that it would be a snug fit, but he yearned for it as the hart yearns for the water-brooks.

Psalm 42:1 / As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

The simple question "Do you hide in wardrobes?" is a handy means of separating the sheep from the goats in this world.

Matthew 25:31-32 / 31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.

Housemaids, after all, are but broken reeds to lean upon in such an emergency.

Isaiah 36:6 / Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him.

MB, Chapter 17

To Mr Trumper there came the growing conviction that he had feet of clay, and cold ones, at that.

Daniel 2:33 / His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.

In the second chapter of the Book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar has a puzzling dream, which only Daniel is able able to reveal: "Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces" (Daniel 2:31-34). Daniel's interpretation of the dream is too long to be discussed in detail (read Daniel 2:36-45), but we must note the meaning of the "feet of clay": "And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken" (Daniel 2:42). Hence the modern use of the expression "feet of clay" to indicate a flaw in the character of an admired person.

So far, he had had the misfortune to draw either deaf adders who stopped their ears and sang "You're The Tops"

Psalm 58:3-5 / 3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. 4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; 5 Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.

These verses are certainly among the Bible texts most often alluded to by Wodehouse.

The Gadarene swine, rounding into the straight, must have experienced much the same uneasy sensation.

Mark 5:11-13 / 11 Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. 12 And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. 13 And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.

For the full story, read Mark 5:1-20, and the parallel versions in Matthew 8:28-34 and Luke 8:26-39. The incident, takes place in the country of the "Gadarenes" or "Gerasenes", east of the Sea of Galilee.

MB, Chapter 18

He was just feeling what a Paradise the world would be without women (...) when these dreams of an Eveless Eden were shattered with an abruptness which caused him to bump his head on a projecting hook.

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.

Genesis 3:20 / And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

MB, Chapter 22

The comfortable conclusion that all things had worked 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.

It was just these little acts of kindness, he had reflected, that raised Man, the Boy Scout, above the beasts that perish.

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

The scales had fallen from her eyes.

See above.

No Israelite, contemplating a wholly unforeseen consignment of manna, could have been less in touch for the time being with extraneous things.

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).

MB, Chapter 23

Nothing, not even tidings of the gladdest joy

Luke 2:10-11 / 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

MB, Chapter 24

Not since the November afternoon (...) had Jeff experienced so strong and sudden an urge to break the sixth Commandment.

Exodus 20:13 / Thou shalt not kill.

MB, Chapter 25

He was a man who liked the dead past to 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!"

Threatening a deadlock at the eleventh hour

See above.

Tell her Lord Cakebread's inside, raising Cain.

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.

MB, Chapter 27

He started like a war horse. (...) Pawing the air and snorting valiantly

Job 39:21 / He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men.

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.

See above.

Let me tell you, you greasy Tishbite

2 Kings 1:7-8 / 7 And he [king Ahaziah] said unto them, What manner of man was he which came up to meet you, and told you these words? 8 And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite.

Elijah is called a Tishbite, because he came from the town of Tishbe in Gilead. The derogatory use of "Tishbite" appears to be school slang, based on the above bit of biblical dialogue—especially the "hairy man"—which does sound rather funny, and not only to a schoolboy's ears! "Tishbite" thus seems to be the equivalent of "hairy ape" or "ugly brute".

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JOY IN THE MORNING

Title

Joy in the Morning

Psalm 30:5 / For his anger endureth but a moment: in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

JM, Chapter 1

Having shaken the dust of Steeple Bumpleigh from our tyres

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.

"Something about Joy doing something."

"Joy cometh in the morning, sir?"

"That's the baby. Not one of your things, is it?"

"No, sir."

"Well, it's dashed good", I said.

See above.

Talk about exulting in my youth!

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.

"The young lady tells me the fish are biting well there just now."

"No, Jeeves. I'm sorry. Not even if they bite like serpents do I go near Steeple Bumpleigh."

Proverbs 23:31-32 / 31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

Even if in the fulness of time she wore him down and at length succeeded in making him jump through hoops, she would know she had been in a fight.

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.

The thing having been broken off and self saved from the scaffold at the eleventh hour

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.

JM, Chapter 2

I headed for my destination like a hart streaking towards cooling streams, when heated in the chase

Psalm 42:1 / As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

However, the immediate source for this quotation appears to be the hymn "Converting Grace 230", from "A New Version of the Psalms": "As pants the hart for cooling streams / When heated in the chase; / So longs my soul, Oh God, for Thee, / And Thy refreshing grace".

JM, Chapter 4

Sorry to have to rub it in like this, but it's only kind to remove the scales from your eyes

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".

JM, Chapter 7

Well, you might have had the sense to send a wire. I'd have killed the fatted calf.

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

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.

Well, you know me when I hear rumours of these entertainments. The war horse and the bugle.

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 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?

JM, Chapter 11

Edwin did that. There's a lad, Jeeves. There's a boy who makes you feel that what this country wants is somebody like King Herod.

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".

Only recently, he was speaking about killing fatted calves.

See above.

"One false step, and he'll swoop on me like the—who was it who came down like a wolf on the fold?"

"The Assyrian, sir."

Allusion to the opening lines of "The Destruction of Sennacherib", by Lord Byron: "The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold, / And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold; / And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea, / When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee." According to the Bible, when Hezekiah, king of Judah, refused to become an Assyrian feudatory, Sennacherib marched on Jerusalem. Isaiah promised Hezekiah that God would not allow the Assyrian king to take the holy city. "And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses" (2 Kings 19:35).

Wee Nooke was burning lower now, but its interior was still something which only Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego could have entered with any genuine enjoyment.

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).

JM, Chapter 12

"You remember the deaf adder?"

"What deaf adder?"

"The one that stopped its ear, and would not listen to the voice of the charmers, charming never so wisely. That's Stilton."

Psalm 58:3-5 / 3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. 4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; 5 Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.

These verses are certainly among the Bible texts most often quoted by Wodehouse.

JM, Chapter 14

To a man, I mean, who, like myself, had twice tonight been forced to skip like the high hills on finding himself unexpectedly addressed from the shadows.

Psalm 114:4 / The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.

One of Wodehouse's favourite biblical gags. This Psalm deals with the crossing of the Red Sea by the children of Israel, as related in Exodus, chapter 14. Although the book of Exodus does not mention any "skipping mountains", this and other extraordinary phenomena are part of the metaphorical language the Bible uses to evoke the power and glory of God. The "high hills" instead of "mountains" may be found in Psalm 68:16 / Why leap ye, ye high hills? This is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever.

JM, Chapter 15

"Well, this lets me out", said Boko. "I wash my hands of the whole affair."

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.

But though seeing his viewpoint, I mourned. In fact, I would go further, I 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.

JM, Chapter 16

To Boko, who had actually been in the ring with the young geezer while she was exploding in all directions, it had naturally seemed that the end of the world had come and Judgment Day set in with unusual severity.

2 Peter 3:7 / But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

The New Testament teaches that Christ will return in glory on the "day of the Lord", which will also be the "day of judgment", when the dead will rise to be judged.

JM, Chapter 18

I groaned in spirit.

See above.

In spite of the fact that, as I say, I had practically known it was coming, I skipped like the high hills.

See above.

The sudden arrival of a burglar must have seemed to him manna from heaven.

Psalm 78:24 / And [the Lord] had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven.

John 6:31 / Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

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).

JM, Chapter 19

This awful thing that had come upon me had practically turned me into a pillar of salt.

Genesis 19:26 / But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

When Lot, Abraham's nephew, was summoned by angels to take his wife and his daughters and leave the city of Sodom, which was soon to be destroyed, he was told that they should not look behind them. Lot's wife did, however, with desastrous results. This anecdote is probably a popular explanation of some strangely shaped mass of rock which is still pointed out to tourists near the Dead Sea.

And I shall go on saying it. Even unto seventy times seven.

Matthew 18:21-22 / 21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

JM, Chapter 20

In the trees outside my window the ear detected the twittering of a covey or platoon of the local fowls of the air.

Matthew 6:26 / Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

It was the kind of thing a minor prophet of the Old Testament might have thrown together on one of his bilious mornings

The last twelve books of the Old Testament, all attributed to different prophets, are called the "Minor Prophets", not because they are less important than the "major" prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel), but because their writings are much shorter. They are, in the traditional order, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Like that of all prophets, their message is a melange of threat and consolation. In the Wodehouse canon, a Minor Prophet is practically the equivalent of a Scottish elder rebuking sin from the pulpit.

It needed but a glance to inform me that the man had good tidings.

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!

The scales had fallen from my eyes.

See above.

JM, Chapter 21

I (...) shot down the passage that led to the relative's sanctum and dived in.

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.

JM, Chapter 22

The rear was brought up by Uncle Percy, waving a cigar menacingly like the angel expelling Adam from the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:24 / So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

After the Fall, Adam and Eve were banished from paradise, while cherubs, one of the two highest orders of angels, were posted at the entry.

Nothing was clearer than that by the time the latter reached his sanctum he would have drifted away like thistledown.

See above.

And, by George, that is what Bumpleigh Hall wants, to make it an earthly Paradise—fewer and better Fittleworths.

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.

Clam's psychology was a sealed book to me.

Isaiah 29:11 / And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed.

Revelation 5:1 / And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

The sealed book symbolises God's secret decrees. Only the Lamb (i.e. Jesus Christ) is worthy "to take the scroll and break the seals of it" (Revelation 5:9).

JM, Chapter 23

Well, dash it, already I am practically Uncle Percy's ewe lamb. That will make me still ewer. (...)

So that you can become more than ever the ewe lamb

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".

"Fancy dress, I take it, is obligatory. In other words, we come up against the snag the Wedding Guest ran into."

"Which Wedding Guest? The one who beat his breast?"

"No, the chap in the parable, who was invited to a wedding but, having omitted to dress the part, got slung out on his ear like—"

I had been about to say "like Boko from the precincts of Bumpleigh Hall", but refrained, fearing lest it might wound.

Matthew 22:11-13 / 11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 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.

The "Parable of the wedding feast", in Matthew 22:1-14, is an allegorical lesson about the kingdom of heaven. The wedding guest who is not dressed for the feast symbolises the believer whose moral conduct does not correspond to his faith.

JM, Chapter 24

To prevent him issuing an eleventh hour nolle prosequi

See above.

JM, Chapter 25

I had no wish to grind the man into the dust but he had the wages of sin coming to him.

Romans 6:23 / For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

If you had been an Israelite in the wilderness, you wouldn't have passed up your plateful of manna, would you?

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.

For the meaning of manna, see above.

Here, at the eleventh hour (...) an admirable custom has been sent from Heaven

See above.

JM, Chapter 26

The sight of a policeman's uniform lying on the river bank would, he maintained, call to such a Scout like deep calling to 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.

I thought it best to speak the word in season.

Proverbs 15:23 / A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!

JM, Chapter 27

Oh, as a matter of fact, I had just been saying to myself at that very moment, for the wings of a dove.

Psalm 55:6 / And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away, and be at rest.

And I was just about to fling wide the gates

Psalm 24:7 / Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

A passage in Tales of St Austin's proves that Wodehouse is referring to this psalm here, although he does not quote the Authorised Version. Contemporary translations, such as "Today's English Version", read: "Fling wide the gates, open the ancient doors, and the great king will come in". Wodehouse may be quoting from "The Crucifixion", a composition by Sir John Stainer (1840-1901)—words by the Rev J Sparrow-Simpson—in which the choir sings: "Fling wide the gates / for the Saviour waits / to tread in His royal way / He has come from above / in His power and love, / to die on this Passion day."

JM, Chapter 28

I had almost forgotten how like the Assyrian swooping down on the fold he could look, when deeply stirred.

See above.

JM, Chapter 29

I don't know if the name of Lot's wife is familiar to you, and if you were told about her rather remarkable finish. I may not have got the facts right, but the story, as I heard it, was that she was advised not to look round at something or other or she would turn into a pillar of salt, so, naturally imagining that they were simply pulling her leg, she looked round, and—bing—a pillar of salt. And the reason I mention this now is that the very same thing seemed to have happened to Uncle Percy. Crouching there with his fingers riveted to the marmalade jar, he appeared to have turned into a pillar of salt.

See above.

Anchovy paste is a slender reed on which to lean in a major crisis.

Isaiah 36:6 / Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him.

Something about Joy...

See above.

Back to top

FULL MOON

FM, Chapter 1, section 1

Freddie, when at Blandings, had a way of mooning about looking like a bored and despairing sheep, with glassy eyes staring out over an eleven-inch cigarette holder, which had always been enough to bring a black frost into this Eden of his.

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.

FM, Chapter 1, section 3

Even nowadays, I mean, when everybody calls everyone every dashed thing under the sun—"darling" and "angel" and all that sort of thing?

Ecclesiastes 1:3 / What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

The expression "under the sun" comes from Ecclesiastes, where it is repeated about thirty times. It is equivalent to "upon the earth", with reference to life in the material world.

FM, Chapter 2

"No man ever amounted to anything till he got married."

"—man, my best pal and sev—"

"Look at Henry the Eighth."

"—erest critic."

"And Solomon. Once they started marrying, there was no holding them—you just sat back and watched their smoke."

1 Kings 11:1 / But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites / 1 Kings 11:3 / And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hunderd concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.

"That will give me nice time to sow the good seed with Aunt Dora and go to the jewel bin." (...)

The process of sowing the good seed with his aunt Dora had been attended by none of the success to which he had looked forward with such bright anticipation.

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.

He was realizing how those charmers must have felt who suffered from the sales resistance of the deaf adder.

Psalm 58:3-5 / 3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. 4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; 5 Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.

These verses are certainly among the Bible texts most often alluded to by Wodehouse.

FM, Chapter 3, section 2

Feeling a little like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego after their passage through the burning fiery furnace, Bill strode past and set off in the direction of the Brompton Road and its registry office.

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).

And so it came about that Tipton, flinging wide the door and glancing sharply to right, to left, and in front of him, beheld only emptiness.

Psalm 24:7 / Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

A passage in Tales of St Austin's proves that Wodehouse, in using the words "flinging wide", is referring to this psalm here, although he does not quote the Authorised Version. Contemporary translations, such as "Today's English Version", read: "Fling wide the gates, open the ancient doors, and the great king will come in". Wodehouse may be quoting from "The Crucifixion", a composition by Sir John Stainer (1840-1901)—words by the Rev J Sparrow-Simpson—in which the choir sings: "Fling wide the gates / for the Saviour waits / to tread in His royal way / He has come from above / in His power and love, / to die on this Passion day."

A new respect for E Jimpson Murgatroyd had begun to burgeon within Tipton Plimsoll. No longer could he regard that medical Jeremiah in the old, off-hand, careless way as a talker of apple-sauce.

Jeremiah was a prophet of the 7th century BC. His prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem, his rather pessimistic message, and his personal sufferings, caused by the misunderstanding of his people, have made his name a synonym for despair and lamentation.

FM, Chapter 3, section 3

He panted for these quick ones as the hart pants for cooling streams when heated in the chase.

Psalm 42:1 / As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

However, the immediate source for this quotation appears to be the hymn "Converting Grace 230", from "A New Version of the Psalms": "As pants the hart for cooling streams / When heated in the chase; / So longs my soul, Oh God, for Thee, / And Thy refreshing grace".

The supposition that it had no existence outside his imagination and was working in cahoots with E Jimpson Murgatroyd was so absurd that it made him laugh—merrily, like the crackling of thorns under a pot.

Ecclesiastes 7:6 / For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.

FM, Chapter 3, section 5

"Don't call her a half-pint!"

"Well, don't you be so dashed grovelling about her. She isn't the Queen of Sheba."

"Yes, she is."

"Pardon me."

"Well, just as good, anyway."

1 Kings 10:1 / And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions.

FM, Chapter 3, section 7

His eye was not dimmed nor his natural force abated

Deuteronomy 34:7 / And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.

He led his way through the swing doors (...) and settled his little flock at a table in the lounge.

Luke 12:32 / Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

FM, Chapter 4, section 1

"My niece Prudence", continued the voice, speaking now from the centre of a rosy mist to the accompaniment of harps, lutes, and sackbuts.

Daniel 3:4-5 / 4 Then a herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, 5 That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up.

A probable allusion (with "lutes" instead of "flute") to the beginning of chapter 3 of the Book of Daniel. Our good friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego will not obey the king's order, and be thrown into the burning fiery furnace.

FM, Chapter 4, section 4

"Yessir, I'll bet she's fat", said Tipton, groaning 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.

FM, Chapter 5, section 1

He saw now that he had come near to missing an opportunity of speaking the word in season.

Proverbs 15:23 / A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!

FM, Chapter 5, section 3

So if an elderly Scotsman who looks like a minor prophet comes up and gives you the eye, don't be alarmed.

The last twelve books of the Old Testament, all attributed to different prophets, are called the "Minor Prophets", not because they are less important than the "major" prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel), but because their writings are much shorter. They are, in the traditional order, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Like that of all prophets, their message is a melange of threat and consolation. In the Wodehouse canon, a Minor Prophet is practically the equivalent of a Scottish elder rebuking sin from the pulpit.

FM, Chapter 6, section 1

There are fathers, not a few of them, who tend to regard suitors for their daughter's hand with a jaundiced and unfriendly eye, like shepherds about to be deprived of a ewe lamb. Colonel Wedge did not belong to this class.

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".

FM, Chapter 6, section 2

Even in this bitter mood of his, when he was feeling like some prophet of Israel judging 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.

FM, Chapter 6, section 6

"I gave her half a crown and asked her to smuggle a note to Prudence."

"I see. Yes, I grasp the thing now. And she wipped out the flaming sword and drove you from the garden?"

Genesis 3:24 / So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

After the Fall, Adam and Eve were banished from paradise, while cherubs, one of the two highest orders of angels, were posted at the entry.

FM, Chapter 7, section 1

What had misled him was the rose in the mouth. Nothing in his association with Veronica had given him the idea that she was a female Nebuchadnezzar.

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. I suppose Wodehouse is referring here to this grass (and rose?) eating aspect of Nebuchadnezzar's character, to which he alludes in other novels.

FM, Chapter 7, section 2

"What's he grouchy about?"

Colonel Wedge made a despairing gesture.

"God knows. The boy's mentality is a sealed book to me."

Isaiah 29:11 / And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed.

Revelation 5:1 / And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

The sealed book symbolises God's secret decrees. Only the Lamb (i.e. Jesus Christ) is worthy "to take the scroll and break the seals of it" (Revelation 5:9).

FM, Chapter 7, section 3

It was possibly this stimulation of his mental processes from beyond the veil that enabled him to hit upon a solution of the problem.

Hebrews 6:19-20 / 19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

The most sacred room of the Temple of Jerusalem, called the "Holy of Holies", was separated from the rest of the edifice by a veil, beyond which only the high priest was allowed to go. The Epistle to the Hebrews presents Jesus as the eternal high priest, who, through his death and resurrection, has passed "beyond the veil" of the heavenly sanctuary, to take place at God's right hand. The phrase "beyond the veil" or "passing the veil" is therefore commonly used with reference to the next world.

FM, Chapter 7, section 4

"Well, what price her playing fast and loose with me?" he cried. "Leading me on and then starting the old army game, the two-timing Jezebel."

"Don't you mean Delilah?"

"Do I?" said Tipton, dubious.

"I think so", said Gally, none too sure himself. "Jezebel was the one who got eaten by dogs."

"What a beastly idea."

"Not pleasant", agreed Gally. "Must have hurt like the dickens."

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.

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.

Tipton, to whom it came as a complete surprise and who for a moment had mistaken it for the Last Trump, rose an inch or two into the air.

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.

FM, Chapter 7, section 5

And he had just reached the first landing, still in low gear, when something occurred that caused him to go abruptly into high, something that made him throw his head back like a warhorse at the sound of the bugle

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 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?

FM, Chapter 8, section 1

Lord Emsworth stiffened. He was shocked, not only by the sentiment but by the allusion to his ewe lamb as "that pig".

See above. Needless to underline the amusing comparison of a pig with a lamb, however ewe!

We rather overstayed our time in Shrewsbury owing to Tippy insisting on buying up the whole place. The two-seater returned laden with apes, ivory, and peacocks like a camel of the epoch of King Solomon.

1 Kings 10:22 / For the king [Solomon] had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.

In the Bible, "T(h)arshish" stands for the western limits of the earth. It is interesting to note that modern translations read "baboons" instead of "peacocks".

FM, Chapter 8, section 2

Gally said that he had never been able to understand his brother's objections to London, a city which he himself had always found an earthly Paradise.

See above.

Only to discover, after they had been on a binge together one evening, that the fellow was the salt of the earth.

Matthew 5:13 / Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Hence the use of this phrase to indicate a person who is thought to make the world a better place.

FM, Chapter 9, section 3

When we are feeling that ours is the world and everything that's 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).

Wodehouse is quoting Kipling's famous poem "If": "If you can fill the unforgiving minute / With sixty seconds' worth of distance run, / Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, / And—which is more—you'll be a Man, my son!" One cannot but wonder whether the poet had the Psalm in mind when he wrote that line.

His eye, resting on Freddie, had not actual brotherly love in it

Romans 12:10 / Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.

FM, Chapter 9, section 4

"We won't weaken."

"Not an iota."

Matthew 5:18 / For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

The "jot" (or "jod") is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, as the "iota" is the smallest of the Greek. The Greek text of the New Testament says "iota", by the way, and some English translations read therefore: "not an iota shall pass". Jesus means that the slightest detail of God's law is so sacred that it shall not be abolished.

FM, Chapter 10, section 3

There was the realization that he had passed through the valley of the shadow and come up smiling on the other side.

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.

FM, Chapter 10, section 5

I got the impression that he was so much obliged to you for not being a spectre that you would be able to ask of him anything you wished, even unto half his kingdom.

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.

Back to top

SPRING FEVER

SpF, Chapter 2

"The day of retribution is at hand", I says, "when there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth."

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.

Traditional biblical description of damnation. The variant "wailing" can be found in Matthew 13:42 and 13:50.

Let your Yea be Yea and your Nay be Nay, as the Good Book says.

James 5:12 / But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

It's like in the Good Book, where the feller said "Go" and they goeth and "Come" and they cometh.

Matthew 8:8-9 / 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

SpF, Chapter 3

The modernized section where the family lived and had their being.

Acts 17:28 / For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

The curious expression "lived and had their being" can probably be traced back to the above excerpt—referring to God—from the apostle Paul's speech before the council of the Areopagus, which itself may be an indirect quotation of the poet Epimenides of Cnossos.

He would have turned his face to the wall and given up the struggle

2 Kings 20:1-2 / 1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. 2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord...

Leading him to break Commandments

Ezra 9:14 / Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? Wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping?

SpF, Chapter 4

For a proper slap-up binge, of course, on the lines of Belshazzar's Feast, five pounds is an inadequate capital

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.

It was only that he did wish that some angel could have descended from on high and increased his holdings to ten

Matthew 28:2 / And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

The angel announcing Christ's resurrection to the women come to see the sepulchre is the most likely blueprint for Plum's angel descending "from on high".

Terry (...) was stunned by a father's tale of manna in the wilderness.

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).

SpF, Chapter 5

"If I don't do what he tells me to, he'll slice off my allowance. It's like in the Bible", said Stanwood, searching for an illustration and recalling Augustus Robb's observations on the subject. "You remember? Where the bozo said 'Come' and they goeth."

See above.

SpF, Chapter 8

I wonder if you've ever considered the risk you're running of everlasting fire?

Matthew 25:41 / Then he shall say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

Sinful pride, of course, like Jeshurun who waxed fat and kicked, but there you are.

Deuteronomy 32:15 / But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.

The name Jeshurun, of uncertain etymology, is applied to Israel, who "waxed fat and kicked" like a bull ("shor" in Hebrew, to which "Jeshurun" may be alluding) and did not remain faithful to God amidst the riches of the Promised Land.

The Wages of Sin you might call it.

Romans 6:23 / For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

SpF, Chapter 11

To Lord Shortlands (...) everything connected with Beevor Castle might be the abomination of desolation

Matthew 24:15 / When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

"Abomination of desolation" is a litteral translation of an expression meaning "disastrous abomination" (Jerusalem Bible). Daniel 9:27 and 11:31 refer to the statue of Zeus set up in the Temple of Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 BC. Jesus applies the same prophecy to the devastation of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70.

This, then, was (...) the cork-drawing Adonis who had threatened at one time to play the Serpent in his lordship's 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.

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.

SpF, Chapter 12

He looked at Terry meditatively, planning the word in season.

Proverbs 15:23 / A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!

SpF, Chapter 13

Lord Shortlands was not 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).

SpF, Chapter 14

You would have said that his soul had passed through the furnace

Isaiah 48:10 / Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

There are many other passages in the Bible which compare chastening experiences to the fire of a furnace.

You could see the iron twisting about 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.

"Good news", he said. "Tidings of great joy. The problem is solved."

Luke 2:10-11 / 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

The wicked may flourish like a ruddy bay tree, as the Good Book says, but they always cop it in the end.

Psalm 37:35 / I myself have seen the ungodly in great power : and flourishing like a green bay-tree (Book of Common Prayer).

The word "wicked" can be found in the King James Version: "I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree."

All right, I wash my 'ands 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.

If ever there was an emissary of Satan with side whiskers, it's him.

2 Corinthians 12:7 / And lest I should be exalted through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

The above mention of a "messenger of Satan" may be the origin of the expression "emissary of Satan". Exegetes still quarrel about the exact meaning of the apostle Paul's ordeal: he may be referring to a mysterious disease, or perhaps to the impermeability of the Jewish people, his brothers "according to the flesh", to the Christian faith.

Whom it was evident that he had mentally labelled as The Tempter.

Matthew 4:3 / And when the tempter came to him [Jesus], he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

The "Tempter" is, of course, the devil or Satan.

Get thou behind me, Satan, and look slippy about it.

Matthew 16:23 / But he [Jesus] turned, and said to Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

SpF, Chapter 15

What an admirable opportunity this was for speaking that word in season.

See above.

SpF, Chapter 16

In the silent night it had seemed to blare out 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.

Acting a lie, that's what it amounts to. Ananias and Sapphira.

Acts 5:1-3 / 1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

Swanking about and taking the bread out of the mouths of the widow and the orphan.

Exodus 22:21 / You must not be harsh with the widow, or with the orphan; if you are harsh with them, they will surely cry out to me, and be sure I shall hear their cry. (Jerusalem Bible)

SpF, Chapter 17

He yearned for it as the hart yearns for the waterbrooks.

Psalm 42:1 / As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

My 1981 Penguin edition reads "heart", which is a misprint. The first printings of the novel have "hart" alright.

"You've been acting silly, trying to 'arden your heart to Mr Cardinal like Pharaoh in the Good Book when all those frogs come along."

(...)

"Well, what was we talking about?"

"Frogs."

"We wasn't, neither. I simply 'appened to mention frogs in passing, like. We was talking about 'ardening 'earts, and I was saying the love had awakened in your bosom."

Exodus 9:35 / And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the Lord had spoken by Moses.

When Pharaoh remained reluctant to Moses' plea "let my people go", ten plagues befell the Egyptians (see Exodus 7:8-12:34). Only the last one, the death of all the first-borns in the country, broke his resistance.

Exodus 8:1-4 (or 7:26-29 in modern editions of the Bible) / 1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: 3 And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs: 4 And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants.

This is the second of the ten plagues mentioned above.

I've known Mr Cardinal pick up a pore lorst dog in the street and press it to his bosom, like Abraham

Luke 16:22 / And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried.

I suppose Mr Robb's biblical babble is an allusion to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), in which the latter is a beggar at the former's gates. Both die; the rich man goes to Hades, while Lazarus is carried to the "bosom of Abraham", i.e. he is received into the company of the patriarchs in the kingdom of God.

If we are to be saved from the disruptive forces that wrecked Rome and Babylon

The fall of Babylon in 539 BC is described and foretold, among other texts, by Isaiah 13-14, 21:1-10, and Jeremiah 50-51.

But the scales fell from my eyes.

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".

SpF, Chapter 19

Feeling like the man who, having got rid of one devil, was immediately occupied by seven others, worse than the first.

Matthew 12:43-45 / 43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

SpF, Chapter 20

Joy, it has been well said, cometh in the morning.

Psalm 30:5 / For his anger endureth but a moment: in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

It seemed to Terry ironical that on this day of days it should be her fate to associate with none but the crushed in spirit

Psalm 34:18 / The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Several modern translations, such as the New International Version, read: "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit". Could someone help me to identify the translation (or possibly a hymn, based on the same Psalm?) used by Wodehouse?

SpF, Chapter 21

"Who was that female in the Bible whose work was always so raw?"

"Delilah?"

"Jezebel", said Stanwood, remembering. "I've heard Augustus Robb mention her. That's how I shall begin. "Jezebel!" I shall begin. That'll make her sit up."

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.

And there's a Scarlet Woman of Babylon that Augustus sometimes wisecracks about. I shall work her in, too.

Revelation 17:3-5 / 3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5 And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.

The "woman in scarlet", also named "the great whore" (Revelation 17:1), symbolises Rome, capital of the empire which is persecuting the infant Church. In the Bible, marital infidelity is often used as a metaphor for idolatry.

SpF, Chapter 22

I have tidings for him that will bring the sparkle back to his eyes and make him skip like the high hills.

Psalm 114:4 / The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.

One of Wodehouse's favourite biblical gags. This Psalm deals with the crossing of the Red Sea by the children of Israel, as related in Exodus, chapter 14. Although the book of Exodus does not mention any "skipping mountains", this and other extraordinary phenomena are part of the metaphorical language the Bible uses to evoke the power and glory of God. The "high hills" instead of "mountains" may be found in Psalm 68:16 / Why leap ye, ye high hills? This is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever.

"Well, when I tell you that he spoke of writing a letter to Miss Stoker calling her the Scarlet Woman of Babylon—"

"Where on earth did Stanwood ever hear of the Scarlet Woman of Babylon?"

"Apparently Mr Robb chats with him about her sometimes."

See above.

SpF, Chapter 23

And their spirit had descended upon him.

Those ancestors, whose spirit had descended upon him.

Mark 1:10 / And straightway coming up out of the water, he [Jesus] saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him.

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UNCLE DYNAMITE

UD, Chapter 1

It would not be too much to say that Moab is his washpot and over what's-its-name has he cast his shoe.

Psalm 60:8 / Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe: Philistia, triumph thou because of me.

Psalm 60, written after some national disaster, foretells the restoration of Israel, with control over traditional enemies like Moab, Edom and the Philistines. Throwing one's sandal on a field signifies taking possession of it.

But you remember what the fellow said. Can the leopard change his spots, or the Ethiopian his hue? Or is it skin?

Jeremiah 13:23 / Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

You had better be girding up your 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.

UD, Chapter 2

What a relief it always is when the butler pops off. It makes you realize the full meaning of that beautiful line in the hymn book—"Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away."

Isaiah 26:3 / Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteh in thee.

Isaiah 57:19 / Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord.

The hymn "Peace, perfect peace" was written by Edward H. Bickersteth, Jr. (1825-1906) in 1875, and contains the lines: "Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away? / In Jesus' keeping we are safe, and they".

For though well stricken in years the old blister becomes on these occasions as young as he feels, which seems to be about twenty-two.

Genesis 18:11 / Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age...

Luke 1:7 / And they [Zacharias and Elisabeth] had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.

Get thou behind me, about sums it up.

Matthew 16:23 / But he [Jesus] turned, and said to Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

And it's no good saying "Ichabod", because I intend to stick to my position with iron resolution.

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.

UD, Chapter 3, section 1

Nothing so braces a young man in love as the consciousness of having successfully resisted a Tempter

Matthew 4:3 / And when the tempter came to him [Jesus], he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

The "Tempter" is, of course, the devil or Satan.

A voice, having in it many of the qualities of 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.

UD, Chapter 3, section 2

Her loved one (...) was to enjoy the status of an ewe lamb

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".

Picture a blend of the Derby and a garden party at Buckingham Palace, add Belshazzar's Feast, and you have the Ashenden Oakshott Fete.

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.

UD, Chapter 3, section 3

In Bottleton East everybody kisses everybody else as a matter of course, like the early Christians.

Romans 16:16 / Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.

Several of the epistles of the New Testament end with the author asking his readers to greet each other with a "holy kiss" or a "kiss of love".

Can the leopard change his spots, he had speculated. This leopard didn't even seem to want to.

See above.

UD, Chapter 4

If what you tell me is correct, any jury will give Bostock Otis's head on a charger.

Mark 6:27-28 / 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his [i.e. John the Baptist's] head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 and brought his head on a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother.

Salome's 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, the girl asked for the head of John the Baptist, who had denounced Herodias' illegal marriage with Herod Antipas.

UD, Chapter 6, section 1

His air, as it reached its culminating point, was that of one hearing tidings of great joy.

Luke 2:10-11 / 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

I should imagine he will get the start of his young life and skip like the high hills.

Psalm 114:4 / The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.

One of Wodehouse's favourite biblical gags. This Psalm deals with the crossing of the Red Sea by the children of Israel, as related in Exodus, chapter 14. Although the book of Exodus does not mention any "skipping mountains", this and other extraordinary phenomena are part of the metaphorical language the Bible uses to evoke the power and glory of God. The "high hills" instead of "mountains" may be found in Psalm 68:16 / Why leap ye, ye high hills? This is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever.

UD, Chapter 6, section 3

Sometimes in our wanderings about the world we meet men of whom it is said that they have passed through the furnace.

Isaiah 48:10 / Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

There are many other passages in the Bible which compare chastening experiences to the fire of a furnace.

Encouraging with word and gesture the weaker brethren who got depressed because they couldn't dress for dinner.

1 Corinthians 8:11-12 / 11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

The apostle Paul calls "weak brethren" those Christians who are not sufficiently instructed in their faith and who consider themselves bound to observe certain ascetical practices not required by God's law. At the same time, Paul urges the "strong" Christians to respect their weaker brothers' conscience.

Prepare to receive tidings of great joy. I'm coming to stay.

See above.

UD, chapter 7, section 1

Here, it seemed to Harold Potter, was funny business in excelsis.

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

The Latin translation of the first words of the above song of praise, rendered by the angels in Bethlehem, is: "Gloria in excelsis Deo". They have become the initial words of a hymn sung in both Catholic and Anglican worship. "In excelsis", literally "in the highest", has practically become the equivalent of "par excellence".

It would be madness to hide his light under a bushel.

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.

UD, Chapter 8, section 2

Pongo, not knowing whether the bally things creaked or not, had descended the stairs mincingly, like Agag

1 Samuel 15:32 / Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past.

When Saul defeated the Amalekites, but spared the life of their king Agag, inspite of God's order that the Amalekites be destroyed completely, the prophet Samuel was sent to finish the job. After rebuking Saul, Samuel summoned Agag, who "came unto him delicately", and "hewed" him "in pieces".

By the most fortunate of chances remembering a good one at just the right moment, added that to the pure all things were pure.

Titus 1:15 / Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

UD, Chapter 9, section 1

For a moment it seemed as if it were his intention to rend it, like a minor prophet of the Old Testament.

My "first printing" has "read" instead of "rend", a rather intriguing misprint!

The last twelve books of the Old Testament, all attributed to different prophets, are called the "Minor Prophets", not because they are less important than the "major" prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel), but because their writings are much shorter. They are, in the traditional order, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Like that of all prophets, their message is a melange of threat and consolation. In the Wodehouse canon, a Minor Prophet is practically the equivalent of a Scottish elder rebuking sin from the pulpit.

In the Bible, rending one's garments is a traditional sign of mourning and repentance. I have found no evidence of a Minor Prophet ever rending his clothes; on the contrary, one of them, the prophet Joel, writes: "And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil." (Joel 2:13)

You swooped on that child, Mugsy, as if you had been an Assyrian coming down like a wolf on the fold.

Allusion to the opening lines of "The Destruction of Sennacherib", by Lord Byron: "The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold, / And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold; / And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea, / When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee." According to the Bible, when Hezekiah, king of Judah, refused to become an Assyrian feudatory, Sennacherib marched on Jerusalem. Isaiah promised Hezekiah that God would not allow the Assyrian king to take the holy city. "And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses" (2 Kings 19:35).

UD, Chapter 9, section 2

You scatter ruin and desolation on every side like a ruddy sower going forth sowing.

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

Opening verse of one of Jesus' best-known parables.

Thirty seconds later he had begun his journey to the promised land

Genesis 12:7 / And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.

Hebrews 11:9 / By faith he [Abraham] sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.

UD, Chapter 9, section 4

One never likes to see a man stifling his natural gifts. The parable of the talents crossed his mind.

The "Parable of the Talents" can be found in Matthew 25:14-30. It is about a man who, before going abroad, entrusts his property, in the form of "talents", to three of his servants. The meaning is clear: Jesus wants his disciples to make a good use of the gifts God has given them.

UD, Chapter 10, section 1

Sir Aylmer had not been treating her nominee like an ewe lamb. And she was a girl who when she said ewe lamb meant ewe lamb.

See above.

UD, Chapter 10, section 2

Obviously the crumb's daughter, the apple of his eye to whom he can refuse nothing.

Deuteronomy 32:10 / He [the Lord] found him [his people] in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.

UD, Chapter 10, section 3

From the first forkful of smoked salmon it went with all the swing of a Babylonian orgy

See above.

UD, Chapter 11, section 1

She could now have been mistaken in a dim light for Jael, the wife of Heber

Judges 4:21 / Then Jael Heber's wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.

Judges 4:17-22 tells how Jael, one of the Master's all-time favourites, managed to kill Sisera, the commander of the armies of Jabin, king of Canaan.

UD, Chapter 12, section 2

That this erstwhile idol of hers should have feet of clay was bad

Daniel 2:33 / His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.

In the second chapter of the Book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar has a puzzling dream, which only Daniel is able able to reveal: "Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces" (Daniel 2:31-34). Daniel's interpretation of the dream is too long to be discussed in detail (read Daniel 2:36-45), but we must note the meaning of the "feet of clay": "And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken" (Daniel 2:42). Hence the modern use of the expression "feet of clay" to indicate a flaw in the character of an admired person.

Constable Potter emerged, looking like a policeman who has passed through the furnace.

See above.

UD, Chapter 13, section 1

"A scarlet woman, sir", said Constable Potter, becoming biblical. "Well, what I mean to say, she was wearing a red jacket and a kind of red thingummy round her head, like as it might have been a scarf."

Revelation 17:3-5 / 3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5 And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.

The "woman in scarlet", also named "the great whore" (Revelation 17:1), symbolises Rome, capital of the empire which is persecuting the infant Church. In the Bible, marital infidelity is often used as a metaphor for idolatry.

UD, Chapter 13, section 2

He had suddenly stiffened, as if he had been turned into a pillar of salt.

Genesis 19:26 / But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

When Lot, Abraham's nephew, was summoned by angels to take his wife and his daughters and leave the city of Sodom, which was soon to be destroyed, he was told that they should not look behind them. Lot's wife did, however, with desastrous results. This anecdote is probably a popular explanation of some strangely shaped mass of rock which is still pointed out to tourists near the Dead Sea.

UD, Chapter 13, section 4

His general mental attitude was that of the war-horse which said "Ha!" among the trumpets.

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.

UD, Chapter 14, section 1

And now the sheep, casting off its clothing, had revealed itself as one of the wolves and now the worst of them.

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

UD, Chapter 14, section 2

His young friend's ecstatic expression, rather like that of a cherub or seraph on the point of singing Hosanna

Probable allusion to the hymn "Glorious Majesty" by Samuel Johan Hedborn. The first stanza runs as follows: "Glorious Majesty, before thee / We bow to worship and adore thee; / With grateful hearts to thee we sing, / Earth and heaven tell the story / Of thine eternal might and glory, / And all thy works their incense bring. / Lo, hosts of cherubim and countless seraphim / Sing hosanna, holy is God / Almighty God, all merciful and all wise God!" Cherubim and seraphim are the two highest orders of angels. In the Temple of Jerusalem, cherubs (or cherubim, in Hebrew) covered the ark with their wings, garding God's presence. In the prophet Isaiah's vision (Isaiah 6:1-13), seraphim stood above God's thrown. In the Bible, however, angels never sing "Hosanna"; this shout of acclaim is only heard at Jesus' solemn entry in Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9).

UD, Chapter 14, section 3

"I was shocked when I saw how he had aged. He looks like that chap in the Bible, Methuselah, the fellow who lived to a thousand and ate grass."

"Methuselah didn't eat grass."

"Yes, he did."

"He never ate grass in his life. You're thinking of Nebuchadnezzar."

"Oh, am I? Well, the principle's the same."

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.

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.

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THE MATING SEASON

MS, Chapter 2

He must be feeling as if he were living in the Book of Revelation.

The Book of Revelation, or "Apocalypse of John", is the last book of the New Testament and of the entire Bible. Like other apocalyptic literature, its aim is to reveal hidden things, especially what will happen when this world ends. The language used in this sort of writing is highly symbolic, and its visions of horror and destruction should not be taken literally. The true message of the Book of Revelation is a hopeful one: God protects his persecuted Church and will lead her to victory.

This came under the head of tidings of great joy.

Luke 2:10-11 / 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

MS, Chapter 3

This uncouth bluebottle is a thorn in his flesh.

2 Corinthians 12:7 / And lest I should be exalted through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

Exegetes still quarrel about the exact meaning of the apostle Paul's ordeal: he may be referring to a mysterious disease, or perhaps to the reluctance of the Jewish people, his brothers "according to the flesh", to believe in Jesus Christ.

Making offensive cracks about Jonah and the Whale.

Jonah 1:17 / Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. / 2:10 / And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

The Rev Sidney Pirbright ought to have explained to Constable Dobbs that the book of Jonah does not belong to the historical genre! It is a didactic story, which seeks to instruct the reader with a very amusing tale of a fictitious prophet, who unwillingly illustrates God's love for all mankind. The "great fish" has become a "whale" in popular imagination.

He's asking Uncle Sidney where Cain got his wife.

Genesis 4:17 / And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived, and bare Enoch...

Again, the vicar of King's Deverill should have replied to the constable's sneers with a subtle smile. The first eleven chapters of Genesis stand alone and are not to be considered as historical in the modern sense of the word. They relate the origins of humanity in popular and metaphorical style. But even from a fundamentalistic point of view, the story is consistent: according to Genesis 5:4, Adam "begat sons and daughters" after the birth of his third son Seth, thus providing Cain with an ample choice of spouses...

"Being in pix, I'm the scarlet woman."

"I've often wondered about that scarlet woman. Was she scarlet all over, or was it just that her face was red?"

Revelation 17:3-5 / 3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5 And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.

The "woman in scarlet", also named "the great whore" (Revelation 17:1), symbolises Rome, capital of the empire which is persecuting the infant Church. In the Bible, marital infidelity is often used as a metaphor for idolatry.

Catsmeat had always been her ewe lamb, if you understand what I mean by ewe lamb.

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".

MS, Chapter 4

Why are you skipping like the high hills?

Psalm 114:4 / The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.

One of Wodehouse's favourite biblical gags. This Psalm deals with the crossing of the Red Sea by the children of Israel, as related in Exodus, chapter 14. Although the book of Exodus does not mention any "skipping mountains", this and other extraordinary phenomena are part of the metaphorical language the Bible uses to evoke the power and glory of God. The "high hills" instead of "mountains" may be found in Psalm 68:16 / Why leap ye, ye high hills? This is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever.

MS, Chapter 5

I felt like a Gadarene swine that has come within a toucher of doing a nose-dive over the precipice.

Mark 5:11-13 / 11 Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. 12 And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. 13 And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.

For the full story, read Mark 5:1-20, and the parallel versions in Matthew 8:28-34 and Luke 8:26-39. The incident takes place in the country of the "Gadarenes" or "Gerasenes", east of the Sea of Galilee.

MS, Chapter 6

In the manner of the prudish Queen of a monarch of Babylon who has happened to wander into the banqueting hall just as the Babylonian orgy is beginning to go nicely.

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.

MS, Chapter 7

I was about to turn my face to the wall

2 Kings 20:1-2 / 1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. 2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord...

Do you remember the effect King Solomon had on the Queen of Sheba at their first meeting? My reactions were somewhat similar. "The half was not told unto me", I said to myself.

1 Kings 10:6-7 / 6 And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. 7 Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.

MS, Chapter 8

Cleaving to the roof of the mouth

Psalm 137:6 / If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.

The psalmist, in exile "by the rivers of Babylon", remembers Zion.

Prevented me turning my face to the wall

See above.

One of those whited sepulchres which try to kid the public that they drink nothing but orange juice

Matthew 23:27 / Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

It's time he threw off the yoke.

Genesis 27:40 / And by the sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt breack his yoke from off thy neck.

Isaac speaking to his son Esau. This is the first of many passages of the Bible featuring this metaphor.

MS, Chapter 9

Digging his feet in and refusing to play ball, like Balaam's ass

Numbers 22:23 / And the ass saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.

Read the full story in Numbers 22:1-35, and discover that the priceless ass was Balaam, not his donkey.

MS, Chapter 10

As I brooded on the Delilah stuff she was pulling

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.

Those fellows who tried to charm the deaf adder and had it react like a Wednesday matinee audience

Psalm 58:3-5 / 3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. 4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; 5 Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.

These verses are certainly among the Bible texts most often quoted by Wodehouse.

MS, Chapter 11

Finally he said something about Jonah and the Whale which it was impossible for her to overlook.

See above.

She's passing through the furnace.

Isaiah 48:10 / Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

There are many other passages in the Bible which compare chastening experiences to the fire of a furnace.

MS, Chapter 12

Like one of those women in the Old Testament who used to go about driving spikes into people's heads.

Judges 4:21 / Then Jael Heber's wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.

Judges 4:17-22 tells how Jael, one of the Master's all-time favourites, managed to kill Sisera, the commander of the armies of Jabin, king of Canaan.

Something about "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings"

Psalm 8:2 / Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

Jesus quotes this verse in Matthew 21:16, to justify the behaviour of the children shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David" in the temple, on the day of his solemn entry in Jerusalem.

After all, what's money? You can't take it with you.

Psalm 49:16-17 / 16 Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased; 17 For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.

MS, Chapter 13

By the way, she tells me you put in that word in season.

Proverbs 15:23 / A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!

MS, Chapter 15

It was with something of the emotions of the war-horse that sayeth "Ha!" among the trumpets that I once more braced the muscles.

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.

MS, Chapter 17

"Oh, she recognized him this time? He'd shaved, had he?"

"No, he still wore his beard, but she knew him when he spoke her name"

John 20:14-16 / 14 And when she 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. 16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

Very far-fetched, I know, but there is undoubtedly a parallel between the output of Rosie M Banks and one of the most moving passages of the Bible, where Mary Magdalene recognizes the risen Lord when he calls her by her name.

MS, Chapter 18

His cup of joy is full.

Psalm 23:5 / Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Her customary deaf-adder tactics

See above.

One was rather inclined, I said, to murmur "Death, where is thy sting?" and turn the toes up.

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)

MS, Chapter 19

Let Wooster stray one inch from the straight and narrow path

Matthew 7:14 / Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

MS, Chapter 21

Pharaoh and all those Plagues he got when he wouldn't let the Children of Israel go

Exodus 9:35 / And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the Lord had spoken by Moses.

When Pharaoh remained reluctant to Moses' plea "let my people go", ten plagues befell the Egyptians (see Exodus 7:8-12:34). Only the last one, the death of all the first-borns in the country, broke his resistance.

If Dobbs were visited by a Plague of Frogs

Exodus 8:1-4 (or 7:26-29 in modern editions of the Bible) / 1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: 3 And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs: 4 And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants.

This is the second of the ten plagues mentioned above.

A shepherd welcoming a strayed lamb back into 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?

Dogs that bit like serpents

Proverbs 23:31-32 / 31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

He looked like a minor prophet without a beard suddenly confronted with the sins of the people

The last twelve books of the Old Testament, all attributed to different prophets, are called the "minor prophets", not because they are less important than the "major" prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel), but because their writings are much shorter. They are, in the traditional order, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Like that of all prophets, their message is a melange of threat and consolation. In the Wodehouse canon, a minor prophet is practically the equivalent of a Scottish elder rebuking sin from the pulpit.

MS, Chapter 22

Cracks about Jonah and the Whale

See above.

The Rev Sidney Pirbright had hitherto been a sealed book to me

Isaiah 29:11 / And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed.

Revelation 5:1 / And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

The sealed book symbolises God's secret decrees. Only the Lamb (i.e. Jesus Christ) is worthy "to take the scroll and break the seals of it" (Revelation 5:9).

Vision of Salome

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".

MS, Chapter 23

He appears particularly interested in Jonah and the Whale.

See above. Did his theological discussion with Jeeves remove the Constable's intellectual objections to the Christian faith, as a final preparation for his thundering return into the fold?

MS, Chapter 24

Do you know what it is to have the scales fall from your eyes?

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".

MS, Chapter 25

Like a man who has fought the good fight

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.

What we want is some situation where they're saying "Go", like the chap in the Bible, and instead of going he cometh.

Matthew 8:8-9 / 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

MS, Chapter 26

One crack out of the zealous officer about Jonah and the Whale

See above.

A shepherd welcoming a strayed lamb back into the fold

See above.

Silversmith's ewe lamb

See above.

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