The Books of To-day and the Books of To-morrow, January 1905
IN these ‘isles of Crease,’ as Lord Byron in his happiest vein once called them, the importance of expunging from our London streets the corrugated trouser-leg is becoming clearer every day. Even a millionaire hardly dares to parade Piccadilly in a pair of trousers, each leg of which could not be used at will as a handy paper-knife. Indeed, it is related of one wealthy gentleman that he barely escaped with his life from such a feat of dare-devilry. The facts of the case—which were not allowed to get into the papers—were, briefly, as follows. Being interested in the sale of Brown’s Matchless Indestructible Stovepipe Trouserines, he conceived the plucky, but rash, project of exhibiting himself in a public thoroughfare in these garments for the sake of advertisement. He had not gone many paces before he was attacked by an infuriated mob of gilded youths, and it was only on his promising to purchase one of the newly-invented crease-while-you-wait machines that he was allowed to depart, in a policeman’s oilskin cape, worn skirt fashion. There is a pleasant sequel to this story. Some days later, after he had appeared in creased trousers on several occasions, he received a letter containing two free stalls for ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan,’ and a brief but infinitely encouraging note—‘Dear Sir,—They remind me of my own. Yours admiringly, George Alexander.’ This incident shows that there is a chance for all of us. Even the most hardened stove-piper may mend his ways and become a decent and useful member of society.
The arguments in favour of the crease are too numerous to be mentioned in a long, compendious list, but we may state one or two. Shakespeare despised the crease. He is dead. The Marquis of Anglesey at one time possessed three thousand pairs of sky-blue trousers, which he frequently lent to guests who had forgotten their razors. He is still alive. Why is Mr. Balfour a greater man than the Alake of Abeokuta? The one dotes upon the crease, the other eschews it. Why is football a more brutal sport than cricket? The crease, unknown in the former game, is a feature of the latter. We need bring forward no further arguments to prove a self-evident truth. It is strange that the supreme advantages and benefits of the crease have not been recognised before. Nobody denies that a man is a nobler specimen of the race at a mature age than he was when a boy, but nobody has thought of tracing this improvement to the fact that few boys ever think of creasing their trousers. The love of the crease is at first dormant, then gradually the soul begins to wake. A vague discontent seizes the subject. Too frequently he attributes this to love, and writes poetry. The real cause is the want of a crease. His life is empty, and at first he knows not why. He eyes his trouser legs, notes the wrinkles, and is moody. Then one day a sudden thought flushes his brow. He starts and shouts, ‘Eureka!’ Two minutes later he is in his bedroom, rolling back the mattress with a view to depositing his Sunday trousers beneath it. From thence onward, if he is the right sort, he never looks back, and life becomes one grand sweet song. In connection with which it is interesting to note the true reason of the traditional melancholy of the Scotch peasant. Wearing, as he does, a kilt, he cannot get a crease.
Printed unsigned; entered by Wodehouse in Money Received for Literary Work.