The Books of To-day and the Books of To-morrow, September 1906
The following letters on the Tipping Problem have been intercepted on their
way to a daily paper.
It seems to me that a great deal of unnecessary fuss is being made about the harmless practice of giving tips in country houses. My grievance is that it costs so much to get into a country house, not to get out of it. I calculate that in one way and another my invitation to Sangazure Towers this August worked out at 10,000l. (though this, of course, includes the privilege of calling the duke Charlie). As regards tips, I never have any difficulty. Fifty pounds or so will always satisfy the butler, and an average of 20l. a-piece settles the other servants. These are mere fleabites to
Yours, &c. Max Hoggenheimer.
With tact, tipping need never be a burden. My own system may be of use to others. At the close of my stay I let it get noised abroad that I propose to leave by the morning express on, say, the following Saturday. On Friday afternoon I walk out of the house, ostensibly for an ante-dinner stroll. Once out of sight I race to the station, catch the up train, and write to my host from London asking that my luggage may be sent on. Except for the trifling objection that it reduces one’s list of friends, I have always found this answer admirably.
Yours, &c. Resourceful.
The error into which most of your correspondents fall is in supposing that it is essential for a tip to be a sum of money. I have never disbursed a penny in this way. It is my practice to present each of the domestics of the house at which I have been staying with a handsomely-bound autographed copy of my latest work of poetry. I have known butlers who would have sneered at a five-pound note sob with joy on receipt of ‘Pink Passion—a Poem,’ by
Yours, &c. Alfred Stephen Austin-Phillipps.
P.S.—Owing to this custom of mine, I may add that ‘P. P.’ is now in a third edition.
Not a bad plan, if you wish to avoid tipping, is to do as I do. I have, fortunately, a reputation for poor health. When I wish to leave a house, therefore, I am taken ill. One of those illnesses where you sit up in bed, propped up with pillows, and look pale. Something anæmic and interesting, but non-infectious. In due course the doctor comes along, and orders me off to the Riviera. I am carried to the station in a litter. Also in a swoon. I defy any servant living to broach the subject of tips with one in such a state. As soon as the train has started, I go to the restaurant car and have an underdone pork chop and potatoes.
Yours, &c. Valetudinarian.
Given common sense, nobody need tip excessively. I simply talk a good deal during my visit of the sums I have won on the turf, and create a general impression that I am in the know. On leaving, I press half-a-crown into the butler’s hand, and say in a whisper, ‘My boy, that’s fifty pounds if you put it on Bounding Butterscotch next Tuesday.’ The gratified man tumbles over himself with joy.
Yours, &c. Turfite.
I once tipped a butler a sovereign, and then borrowed a fiver off him for the other servants.
Yours, &c. Self-Help.
Post-dated cheques are the things. Scatter them about freely among the servants, then write to the bank and stop them. I always do this.
Yours, &c. Financier.
Printed unsigned; entered by Wodehouse in Money Received for Literary Work.
Max Hoggenheimer is a comic role in the 1902 musical comedy The Girl from Kay’s by Ivan Caryll, Owen Hall, and others. The character, originally played by Willie Edouin, is an American millionaire who falls in love with the hat shop girl of the title.
up train: No matter the compass direction of the route, trains to London are always ‘up’ and from London are ‘down’ (except that from London to Oxford is ‘up’ in the eyes of Oxonians).
Alfred Austin (1835–1913) was Britain’s poet laureate; Stephen Phillips (1864–1915) was a British poet and playwright. The combined name (with minor spelling change) may be taken as referring a generic poet; neither one would have been guilty of ‘Pink Passion.’
—Notes by Neil Midkiff