This is part of an ongoing effort by the members of the Blandings Yahoo! Group to document references, allusions, quotations, etc. in the works of P. G. Wodehouse.

Money for Nothing was originally annotated by Mark Hodson (aka The Efficient Baxter). Notes contributed by the late Terry Mordue are signed [AGOL] (A Gentleman of Leisure). The notes have been reformatted somewhat and have been significantly expanded and updated in 2020 by Neil Midkiff [NM] and others as credited below, but credit goes to Mark and Terry for their original efforts, even while we bear the blame for errors of fact or interpretation.

Money for Nothing first appeared as a serial, slightly abridged, in London Calling in 21 weekly installments from 3 March 1928 through 28 July 1928. In the US Liberty magazine, it appeared at nearly full length in fifteen weekly installments from 16 June 1928 through 22 September 1928.

Money for Nothing was first published in book form by Herbert Jenkins in the UK on 27 July 1928 and by Doubleday, Doran in the US on 28 September 1928. The US first edition (as also its only apparent reprint, in 1929 by A. L. Burt from the Doubleday plates) differs from the UK text in having significant additional passages (totaling approximately 1,065 words), many of which are also present in the magazine serials, as well as a few small cuts and many word substitutions. Rather unusually, the US text generally uses UK spellings such as colour and neighbour, but there has been much editorial intervention (probably some done at each publishing house) in capitalization, punctuation, and the setting of compound words as two separate words, one hyphenated word, or one word without hyphens. These notes will include only significant rewordings and interpolated/omitted passages comparing the hardcover first editions, with occasional reference to the magazine serials, but not attempting to annotate all the passages omitted in those.


Mark Hodson’s original annotations relate to the Penguin (UK) reprint currently published, in which the text runs from page 1 to page 274. Newly interpolated notes are added in sequence and flagged with *; significantly updated notes are flagged with °. I [NM] do not have this recent edition; my slightly older Penguin reprints the Autograph Edition plates of 1959, even though its copyright page says “Published in Penguin Books 1991” as the current Penguin paperback also does. I have also not seen the earliest Penguin edition of 1964.

Neither the magazine serials nor the US book have chapter titles; only the UK book editions have chapter titles as given in the headings below.

 

Money for Nothing (Ch. 0; page 0)

Money for Nothing was first published by Herbert Jenkins in the UK on 27 July 1928 and by Doubleday, Doran in the US on 28 September 1928.
The book was written between June 1926 and July 1927. Norman Murphy has worked out that Wodehouse started and finished it at Hunstanton Hall in Norfolk, and worked in between times at London and Droitwich.


Dedication (Ch. 0; page 0) °

The Scottish writer Ian Hay (Captain Ian Hay Beith, 1876–1952) stayed with Wodehouse at Rogate Lodge in Sussex in 1928, shortly before Money for Nothing was published. He was working together with Wodehouse on the dramatisation of A Damsel in Distress: they subsequently went on a golfing holiday in Scotland together in Hay’s car.
Hay is perhaps best-known today for the early novel Pip (1907), but between the wars he was also very successful as a dramatist and screenwriter.

The dedication does not appear in US editions.


Chapter 1 (Ch. 1; page 1)
Introducing a Young Man in Love

Runs from pp. 1 to 15 in the present Penguin edition.


Rudge-in-the-Vale (Ch. 1; page 1)

There is a village called Rudge, and a Rudge Hall, in Shropshire, not far from Stableford, where Wodehouse’s parents lived for a while.
Of course, the name Rudge is also associated with the Rudge-Whitworth motorcycle company (also based in the West Midlands) and Dickens’s Barnaby Rudge. Perhaps the similarity of sound between Carmody and Barnaby suggested the name?


Jubilee Watering Trough (Ch. 1; page 1) °

In rural districts, a frequent way to commemorate Queen Victoria’s jubilee in 1897 was to erect a watering trough for the benefit of local horses, thus offering them some refreshment while their owners were in the pub. Many small villages in Wodehouse have one.

You can find these in Maiden Eggesford (“Tried in the Furnace,” 1935, and Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen, 1974); Walsingford Parva (Summer Moonshine, 1938); and Steeple Bumpleigh (Joy in the Morning, 1946).


a little group of serious thinkers *

Compare “Comrade Bingo”:

…in front of me there stood a little group of serious thinkers with a banner labelled “Heralds Of The Red Dawn”…

and “The Long Arm of Looney Coote”:

Everybody seemed to be fighting everybody else, and at the back of the hall a group of serious thinkers, in whom I seemed to recognize the denizens of Biscuit Row, had begun to dismember the chairs and throw them at random.


Broadway, Piccadilly, Rue de Rivoli (Ch. 1; page 1)

Famously busy streets in New York, London and Paris, respectively.


grey stone of Gloucestershire... (Ch. 1; page 1)

This, and other evidence later in the book, suggests that the geographical location Wodehouse was thinking of was Droitwich, the small Worcestershire Spa town where part of Money For Nothing was written.


Skirme (Ch. 1; page 1)

Skirme is a surname that occurs occasionally in England, but neither Skirme nor any of its obvious variants seems to be an existing British placename or river.
The river at Droitwich is called the Salwarpe.


Norman church (Ch. 1; page 1)

Like that of Market Blandings, the church dates from the period of roughly a hundred years (1066–1154) which followed the Norman conquest of England. Characteristics of the Norman style of church architecture include: round-headed arches and doorways, the latter often a series of concentric, stepped-backed arches, each with its own columns, and with the doorway head often infilled with a carved tympanum; thick walls, often buttressed; the use of simple barrel or tunnel vaulting in crypts, but rarely in naves, because of the weight and outward thrust on the walls; massive columns with a plain capital, later examples being thinner and with a carved capital. [AGOL]


eleven public-houses (Ch. 1; page 1)

The implausible number of pubs to be found in small English towns is a running joke in Wodehouse. Again, Market Blandings is singularly well-provided in this respect.
The reason for the existence of all these pubs is normally that the town has a weekly market serving a large and prosperous agricultural district, with a population much bigger than that of the town itself. Farmers attending the market would need somewhere to eat, drink, and negotiate business; traders coming from further afield to buy or sell would need to stay overnight.


Automobile Guide (Ch. 1; page 1)

The Automobile Association and the Royal Automobile Club both published guidebooks for their members with details of hotels, garages, and other local information for every town in Britain.


Chas. Bywater, Chemist (Ch. 1; page 1) °

Chas. is a conventional abbreviation for Charles. Wodehouse is quoting his name as it would appear on the shop sign — another running joke. He seems to be the only Bywater in the canon, although there are a number of Attwaters in Wodehouse.
A “Chemist” in Britain is usually a pharmacist who also sells toiletries and the like: something like a drugstore in the US. (As noted in section II, p. 6, Bywater’s inventory is even more inclusive and varied than most chemists’.)
Cf. Jno. Banks, hairdresser, the sole live wire in Market Blandings in Leave It to Psmith (1923).


live wire *

From the original meaning of a wire carrying electricity, the colloquial meaning of an energetic, lively, talented person arose in the US at the end of the nineteenth century. The first use so far found in Wodehouse:

It was about time that Uncle Cooley had a real live-wire looking after the Pulp and Paper Company’s affairs.

Bill the Conqueror, ch. 2 (1924)


Colonel Meredith Wyvern (Ch. 1; page 2) °

Meredith is a traditional Welsh man’s name (originally Maredudd or Meredydd). For obscure reasons, Americans seem in recent years to have taken to using it for girls. A Wyvern is a heraldic creature — a winged dragon with an eagle’s legs and a serpent’s tail.
Colonel Aubrey Wyvern and his daughter Jill appear in Ring for Jeeves/The Return of Jeeves (1953).


Brophy’s Paramount Elixir *

Brophy is a characteristic Irish surname, not used by Wodehouse for any of his onstage characters. Paramount as an adjective means superlative, of highest rank or quality; compare Duff and Trotter’s Paramount Ham in Quick Service (1940). Wodehouse usually uses “elixir” in its generic (and originally alchemical) sense of a liquid with transformative power, when referring to the seemingly magical effects of good alcoholic beverages. This is his only use so far found in the name of a pharmaceutical remedy.


the reign of Queen Elizabeth (Ch. 1; page 2)

This is Elizabeth I, who reigned from 1558–1603, of course. The future Elizabeth II was still wearing nappies when this was written.


a wobbly menace *

The US magazine serial has the form “wabbly” here; see A Damsel in Distress.


as near as a toucher *

British colloquial for “as close as possible without actually touching (or, figuratively, taking place).”


set fire to the train (Ch. 1; page 2)

When blasting with gunpowder, it was the usual practice to lay a “train” of powder along the ground to ignite the main body of the explosive with a suitable time delay. This involved many hazards, especially when working out of doors; with dynamite, one would be more likely to use a detonator with electric ignition.


nobility and gentry *

In the British aristocracy as of the time of writing of this book, “nobility” refers to peers of the ranks of duke, marquess, earl, viscount, or baron, and members of their immediate families who bear courtesy titles or honorifics. “Gentry” refers to non-titled members of their families; to those of the lower ranks of baronet, knight, and dame; and to those bearing formally recognized coats of arms as landowning families from feudal times.


glass going up *

That is, increasing barometric pressure, typically associated with pleasant weather.


thug *

Originally a term (capitalized) for a class of professional stranglers in India; transferred in the late nineteenth century to apply to violent criminals and ruffians in general.


Mr. Lester Carmody (Ch. 1; page 3) °

Carmody is an Irish surname, particularly associated with County Clare. Mr. Carmody and his nephew Hugo are the only characters of that name listed in Garrison.
Lester as a first name is more common in the US than in Britain: it seems to be related to the placename Leicester. There are a few other Lesters in the canon, e.g. Lester Mapledurham in “Strychnine in the Soup”; Lester Burdett in Barmy in Wonderland/Angel Cake; Lester Burrowes in The Adventures of Sally; and J. Lester Clam in the Playboy revision of “The Right Approach”.


he stood there with his ears flapping, waiting for details *

The OED’s first citation for “ears flapping” in the sense of “listening attentively” is from Wodehouse:

But, as a matter of fact, it was the work of a moment with me to chuck away my cigarette, swear a bit, leap about ten yards, dive into a bush that stood near the library window, and stand there with my ears flapping.

“Jeeves Takes Charge” (1923)


jelly-bellied *

Probably used in the literal sense of “soft in the abdomen”; Mr. Carmody is a fat man, weighing 220 pounds. But a figurative meaning of “cowardly, not firm in having ‘guts’ ” is also possible. No connection, of course, with the Jelly Belly brand of candies, introduced in 1976.


suing him (Ch. 1; page 5)

Probably the Colonel would have a better case against the men doing the blasting (or Mr. Carmody in his capacity as their employer) for not securing the area properly before setting off the charges. The House of Lords is the highest court of appeal in England and Wales; Wyvern would only have been able to take his case so far if he could get a senior judge to certify that it involved an important new point of law. Juries were still involved in most types of civil action when this was written — nowadays they are only used in defamation cases.


Blackhander (Ch. 1; page 5)

Presumably a reference to Ujedinjenje ili Smrt (Union or Death), also known as the Black Hand, which was a secret terrorist organisation formed in Serbia in 1911 to further the cause of Pan-Serbianism in territories then forming part of the Austrian Empire, especially Bosnia and Herzegovina. They infiltrated Serbian nationalist organisations and were most famously responsible for the assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914.


picking oakum (Ch. 1; page 5)

Oakum is loose fibre obtained by unpicking ropes, and formerly used for caulking the seams of ships. Picking oakum was a tedious and unpleasant type of work commonly given to prisoners in the 19th century.
Prison sentences are awarded only in criminal cases. If he wanted to see Carmody behind bars, Wyvern would have to try to persuade the police (nowadays it would be the Crown Prosecution Service) to bring a prosecution for battery.


lint *

A soft wound-dressing material consisting of fibers of flax, made from scraping or shredding linen rags.


arnica (Ch. 1; page 6)

A tincture made from the dried flower heads of the plant Arnica montana is often used to relieve pain when treating minor wounds.


half-crown (Ch. 1; page 6)

Patent medicines and the like always come in ‘the large, or half-crown size’ in Wodehouse: cf. “Buck-U-Uppo”. A half-crown was a coin worth two shillings and sixpence (12.5 new pence).


Sooth-o *

See Hot Water for other patent medicines whose names end in “-o” as coined by Wodehouse.

Abhik Majumdar suggests that the name is reminiscent of Sugg’s Soothine in Full Moon, which is of course a specific for gnat bites, so is hence a direct competitor to Brophy’s Paramount Elixir (above) rather than Sooth-o, which is recommended more for “cuts, burns, scratches, nettle-stings and dog-bites.”


believed in Preparedness *

The earliest Google Books citations of this phrase in general discussion of military readiness date from 1916. That same year, Wodehouse and Jerome Kern wrote a song titled “Polly Believed in Preparedness” for the musical Have a Heart; the lyric references the Boy Scout motto “Be prepared.” At this distance of time, it is unknown whether the song was the literary source for, or a reaction to, the use of “believed in preparedness” in news and political discussions.


Old Rugbeian (Ch. 1; page 6) °

The grammar school at Rugby in the East Midlands was established by a London grocer, Lawrence Sheriff, in 1567. It rose to prominence in the nineteenth century under Thomas Arnold (headmaster 1828–1842; the father of Matthew Arnold). His educational and organisatory ideas, widely copied by other schools and publicised in Thomas Hughes’s novel Tom Brown’s Schooldays, established the notion of ‘Public Schools’ as the key institutions of the English class system: if you had been to one, you were a gentleman; if not, the best you could hope for was to send your son to one.
Rugby School is also famous as the birthplace of Wodehouse’s favourite sport, of course.

The Old Rugbeian tie has broad stripes of navy and green and a narrow stripe of white. (Clicking the link opens a new window with an image from the Rugby school shop.)


Marshall Field (Ch. 1; page 6) °

Marshall Field (1834–1906) started out as a shop assistant, and in 1851 established the Chicago shop which became Marshall Field & Co., the largest and most famous retail store of its day. The company was taken over by Target Corporation in 1990, but department stores under the Marshall Field name still existed in most midwestern cities when Mark Hodson first prepared these notes in 2003. The company was acquired by Federated Department Stores, Inc., in 2005 and the stores were renamed Macy’s in 2006.
(As an aside: his grandson, Marshall Field III (1893–1956), later a successful newspaper proprietor, would have been at Eton and Cambridge at the same time as many of Wodehouse’s young men.)


crystal sets (Ch. 1; page 6)

Crystal radio receivers used a ‘cat’s whisker’ diode (a thin wire forming a Schottky contact with a selenium crystal) to separate the signal from the carrier wave. They did not have any amplification, so they could be very cheap and simple, and did not need a battery or mains electricity; the disadvantage was that you could only listen with headphones, and discrimination between stations was poor.


pipe-joy *

Wodehouse named a fictional dog biscuit Donaldson’s Dog-Joy; this is the only use of “pipe-joy” so far found in his works.


Robot (Ch. 1; page 6)

The word was invented by Karel Capek (1890–1938) for his play R.U.R. (‘Rossum’s Universal Robots’) (1920), translated into English in 1923. Capek also wrote a book called ‘The War of the Newts’ that gave offence to Gussie Fink-Nottle.


like the note of the Last Trump (Ch. 1; page 6)

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We all shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed,
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.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Bible: 1 Corinthians 15:51–54; see Biblia Wodehousiana.


Lincoln Hotel, Curzon Street (Ch. 1; page 11)

Curzon Street is in Mayfair (not far from the Drones Club). At present, the only hotel in the street is the Curzon Plaza. There is a Lincoln House Hotel in Marylebone.


a daughter in the post office *

The original independent telegraph companies in the UK were nationalized in 1870 and run by the General Post Office, so postal employees would be able to know the content of telegraphed messages such as this. There is no need to suspect them of opening private letters in this case.


who for some years now had looked after the business of the estate for his uncle *

This phrase is omitted in the US edition, perhaps deemed redundant with the fuller discussion of dairy-farm expenses in chapter V, section iii.


the Dex-Mayo (Ch. 1; page 12)

Seems to be fictitious, but many car makers had hyphenated names of this sort (Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz, Hispano-Suiza, etc.): Mayo is a county in the West of Ireland, of course, so presumably this is meant to be an Irish make of luxury car.


Le Touquet (Ch. 1; page 13) °

Le Touquet–Paris Plage is a seaside resort in northern France, about 15 km south of Boulogne. Still very fashionable in the twenties, although it declined in popularity with the upper classes when they started going to the Riviera in summer as well as winter.

Plum and Ethel Wodehouse stayed there in the mid-1930s, first in hotels, later renting a house called Low Wood, which they bought in 1935. This is where they were living when the Germans invaded France and took Plum as an enemy alien to an internment camp in 1940.


a Puck-like look *

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.


slight tip-tiltedness *

See A Damsel in Distress.


Doctor Crippen (Ch. 1; page 13)

Peter Hawley Harvey Crippen (1862–1910), an employee of an American patent medicine company (technically his US diploma didn’t entitle him to call himself ‘doctor’ in Britain) poisoned his wife Cora, a music hall singer, in February 1910 and buried her dismembered body in the cellar of their house in Camden Town. When the police became suspicious he fled to Canada with his mistress, Ethel Le Neve. They were spotted and arrested at sea amid huge publicity, thanks to radio telegrams sent by the captain of the ship.


Brides-in-the-bath murderer (Ch. 1; page 13)

Another celebrated murder case of the period: George Joseph Smith (1872–1915) killed three successive wives between 1912 and 1915 by drowning them in the bath. As in the Crippen case, evidence from the forensic pathologist Sir Bernard Spillsbury was crucial in the case against him.


The scales seemed to have fallen from his eyes *

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


Chapter 2 (Ch. 2; page 16)
Healthward Ho

Runs from pp. 16 to 31 in the present Penguin edition.

The US edition breaks this chapter into two sections, i and ii; the UK text has an undivided chapter.


Healthward Ho (Ch. 2; page 16) °

The name of Dr. Twist’s establishment is obviously a reference to Westward Ho!, the only novel by Charles Kingsley to have had a Devon seaside resort named after it. (Surely “Water Babies” would have been a better choice?)


Graveney Court (Ch. 2; page 16)

Graveney is a small village in the marshes of North Kent. Murphy suggests (see also p.68 below) that Healthward Ho/Graveney Court is based on Wodehouse’s grandmother’s house Ham Hill, so perhaps there is an association of ‘ham’ and ‘gravy’ at work here?


New Men for Old (Ch. 2; page 16)

In the story “Aladdin and the enchanted lamp,” one of the standard plots for traditional British pantomime (although it now seems that this ‘traditional Arabian story’ was most probably invented by the French orientalist Antoine Galland in the early 18th century), Aladdin’s wicked uncle deceitfully offers him “new lamps for old.” Dr. Twist is being labelled as a dodgy character.


Mens Sana in Corpore Sano (Ch. 2; page 16)

Latin: a healthy mind in a healthy body (Juvenal).
Formerly a saying frequently used when persuading people of the virtues of exercise: it has dropped out of favour, presumably because we now value healthy bodies much more highly than sound minds.


“out of shape” *

Doctor Twist puts the phrase in quotation marks because it is a fairly recent coinage, and an American one at that. The oldest OED citation (in their “Draft additions” section for the word shape) for “out of shape” in the sense of not being in good physical condition is from 1933.


does itself too well when the gong goes *

In large British country houses, a gong was rung by the butler to alert all the household and guests that dinner was ready, and often also a short time in advance (“dressing gong”) to remind people to put on their evening clothes. More modest establishments would have a “dinner bell” instead. Wodehouse is hinting that the sort of customers who would need and could afford his course of treatment probably lived in large houses and indulged themselves freely at elaborate multiple-course dinners.


a better liver *

Popular opinion on medical matters often concentrated on the liver as the seat of health, not only in digestive senses but more generally (“feeling liverish” or “a chill on the liver”). Given its role in processing and storing fats and metabolizing alcohol, Dr. Twist’s patients would not have been too far wrong in attributing at least some of their symptoms of excessive intake to that organ.


ex-Sergeant-Major Flannery (Ch. 2; page 18) °

The Sergeant-Major is the senior warrant officer in an army regiment, who assists the Adjutant and is responsible for matters including the training of recruits. Before the days of specialist sports teachers, retired NCOs were often employed in schools as Physical Training instructors.

Other Wodehouse characters with the same surname:
G. J. Flannery, a literary agent, appears in Bachelors Anonymous.
Otto Flannery, formerly a Hollywood agent, now runs The Happy Prawn and is married to Ivor Llewellyn’s third wife Gloria in Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin.
Flannery and Martin own a Sloane Square book shop in The Girl in Blue.
Any of these may or may not be the same as the Flannery that Howard Saxby Senior keeps mentioning in Cocktail Time, who may be his stockbroker or may be entirely imaginary.


Sherlock Holmes … could have told … *

Wodehouse’s initial readers would have thought of Holmes in contemporary terms; the last of the short stories, “The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place” was published in magazines in March and April of 1927, and it may not have been clear that the series had concluded. Indeed, in chapter 9 of this book, he is spoken of in the present tense: “Sherlock Holmes can extract a clue from a wisp of straw or a flake of cigar ash.”


Julius Cæsar ... about him (Ch. 2; page 18)

Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o’ nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

Shakespeare, William (1564–1616): Julius Caesar I,ii
See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse for more references to this passage.


Thirty guineas a week… *

See Ukridge for the background of using guineas for professional fees. A guinea was equal to 21 shillings (one pound and one shilling), so the weekly fee would be £31/10/- or 630 shillings. (The equivalent purchasing power in 2020 would be on the order of £2,000 or $2,500 US.) This does indeed work out to 90 shillings or £4/10 per day, three shillings and ninepence per hour (3.75 shillings, and there are twelve pence in a shilling) which works out to 45 pence. A farthing is one-fourth of a penny, so three farthings per minute is an exact calculation. Whatever mental gymnastics it may take for modern readers accustomed to decimal coinage to assimilate these older units, they at least had the advantage of being evenly divisible by factors of two, three, four, five, six, and (for amounts in guineas) seven.


salver *

See Leave It to Psmith.


a lissom young man *

This is our first view of Hugo Carmody, who returns in Fish Preferred/Summer Lightning (1929) and Heavy Weather (1933), and is remembered in Pigs Have Wings (1952).


features of a markedly simian cast *

The US and UK magazine serials and US book omit this phrase.


cold shower *

See A Damsel in Distress.


“Turkish this side, Virginian that.” *

Pongo Twistleton’s cigarette case in Uncle Dynamite, ch. 8.1 (1948) and Judson Phipps’s in “Life with Freddie” (1966, in Plum Pie) both contain the same choice of tobacco sources. Turkish tobacco is sun-cured and was known for being milder and aromatic; former brands such as Murad and Fatima were exclusively Turkish. It is now more expensive, and appears as one component in blended brands such as Camel. Virginia tobacco is heat-cured and grown from varieties developed in the nineteenth century which could grow in less-fertile soils; its stronger yet sweeter flavor became increasingly popular in Europe and the USA in the early twentieth century.


gasper *

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


“it’s no life for a refined Nordic.” *

The US magazine serial and the UK book have “Nordic” here; the UK magazine and US book read “Caucasian” instead. Compare:

…the thunder, lightning and rain which so often come in the course of an English summer to remind the island race that they are hardy Nordics and must not be allowed to get their fibre all sapped by eternal sunshine like the less favoured dwellers in more southerly climes.

Summer Lightning, ch. 12.1 (1929)

The OED cites this sentence from the UK book as an example in its definition of Nordic as a noun.


triturated sawdust (Ch. 2; page 21)

To triturate something is to grind it down to a fine powder or chew it, which seems somewhat redundant in the case of sawdust. Trituration has a special significance in homeopathy, where it is used to “dynamise” substances before dissolving them.


coffin-nail *

Originally US slang for a cigarette; OED citations go back to 1888 and include the present sentence from Wodehouse. The antiquity of the popular term gives the lie to claims that the dangers of cigarettes were not known until the mid-twentieth century. US magazine and book read “coffin nail” without hyphen.


bulldog breed *

Describing the courage and tenacity of what was considered the ideal British character; the “John Bull” personification of an Englishman has often been depicted accompanied by a bulldog.

There has always been something of the good old English bulldog breed about Bingo.

“The Metropolitan Touch” (1922)


Theoretically, no doubt… *

The US book begins section ii of Chapter Two at this point.


that Kruschen feeling (Ch. 2; page 21)

“He’s got that Kruschen feeling” — advertising slogan for Kruschen salts (a proprietary laxative) ca.1924.


sweetness and light *

See Sam the Sudden, and be sure to follow the further link there.


a gallon of petrol *

That would be an imperial gallon, just a little more than 1.2 US gallons, 4.54609 liters.


one shilling and sixpence halfpenny *

Decimalized, about £0.077; in modern purchasing power, roughly five pounds.


bring home the bacon *

See Laughing Gas.


the School-Girl Complexion *

“Keep that schoolgirl complexion” was a long-running slogan of Palmolive soap from 1917 on, praised by advertising experts early on and referred to as “that schoolgirl complexion look” in ads into the middle 1950s.


a noise like a buffalo pulling its foot out of a swamp *

Ambrose, about to follow, was halted by a noise like a buffalo taking its foot out of a swamp, and perceived that his employer, Mr. Llewellyn, wished to have speech with him.

The Luck of the Bodkins, ch. 6 (1935)

I should have expected something that sounded more like a buffalo pulling its foot out of a swamp.

Laughing Gas, ch. 16 (1936)

There are two things I particularly dislike about G. D’Arcy Cheesewright—one, his habit of saying ‘Ho!’, the other his tendency, when moved, to make a sound like a buffalo pulling its foot out of a swamp.

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 3 (1954)

He found speech, if you could call making a noise like a buffalo taking its foot out of a swamp finding speech.

Kipper Herring, in Jeeves in the Offing/How Right You Are, Jeeves, ch. 13 (1960)

The newcomer’s only response was a bronchial sound such as might have been produced by an elephant taking its foot out of a swamp in a teak forest.

“Sleepy Time” (1965; in Plum Pie)


the milk of human kindness *

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.


put his fortune to the test, to win or lose it all *

See The Girl on the Boat.


“His name’s Fish.” *

In the US book and UK magazine serial, Hugo continues this speech by adding “Ronnie Fish.”


Bond Street (Ch. 2; page 26)

Running between Oxford Street and Piccadilly, Bond Street is home to many of London’s most expensive shops. The name of the street commemorates Sir Thomas Bond, a courtier and property developer who was part of a consortium that acquired the former site of Clarendon House in the late 17th century to build Old Bond Street. Nowadays London’s nightlife is centered a little further east, around Piccadilly Circus/Leicester Square and in Soho.


looney-bin *

The lunatic asylum. See Leave It to Psmith for earlier uses and two other spellings.


Quarrel scene from Julius Caesar (Ch. 2; page 27)

The famous quarrel between Brutus and Cassius forms the first part of Act IV, Sc. 3 of Shakespeare’s play.
http://www.bartleby.com/70/4043.html


Smokers (Ch. 2; page 27)

A smoking concert was an informal entertainment for the members of a men’s club (or as here, the undergraduates of a college). Normally the members of the club would take it in turns to get up and perform. As there were no ladies present, smoking was permitted.


Mr. Carmody said he did. *

In US and UK magazine serials and US book, this sentence is worded more actively:

“I do,” said Mr. Carmody.


Albert Hall (Ch. 2; page 27)

The construction of this concert and meeting hall in South Kensington in 1867 was one of the public projects undertaken with funds raised by the Great Exhibition of 1851. It is a large, circular building, topped by a shallow dome.
http://www.royalalberthall.com/


Eustace Rodd ... Cyril Warburton (Ch. 2; page 27) °

Both seem to be fictitious. There are no major characters in the canon called Rodd or Warburton, although there are plenty of Todds and there is Lady Anne Warblington in Something Fresh. A Colonel Warburton encourages the Wambledon tennis players with sudden, sharp hunting noises in “Prospects for Wambledon” (1929, collected in Louder and Funnier).


Welter-weight (Ch. 2; page 27) °

Welter-weight boxers have a weight between that of a light-weight and a middle-weight. At this period, before the weight classes were more finely divided in the mid-twentieth century, a welter-weight weighed over 147 lb. (66.68 kg) but not over 160 lb. (72.57 kg).
Wodehouse had a keen interest in both professional and amateur boxing. One of his first trips to America was timed to allow him to see an important fight, and boxing plays an important part in several of his early books (cf. e.g. The Pothunters, Not George Washington, Psmith Journalist)


the heavyweight champion of the world is actually named Eugene *

Hugo is mistaken here; “Gene” Tunney (heavyweight champion 1926–28) was actually named James Joseph Tunney (1897–1978). He retired undefeated in 1928.


Boat Race night (Ch. 2; page 27) °

The Oxford and Cambridge boat race takes place on a four and a half mile course on the Thames (between Mortlake and Putney), on a Saturday during the Easter vacation. It was first held in 1829. As it is in the vacation, it used to be an occasion for large numbers of students to gather and celebrate in London. See The Code of the Woosters for additional detail and more Wodehouse references.


at the eleventh hour *

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


“getting along and taking your shower, Mr. Carmody” *

For unknown reasons the US book has “showers” here.


“I hope … you aren’t sore at me for calling you down about those student’s lamps.” *

Thanks to Green’s Dictionary of Slang for pointing us to what must be Wodehouse’s source for this obscure bit of US slang for cigarettes, from one of Plum’s favorite American authors, George Ade, in In Babel, 1903.


stepped on the self-starter *

See Bill the Conqueror.


marts of trade *

A fancy way of referring to retail business:

“It is only to be expected that at a bazaar in aid of a deserving cause the prices of the various articles on sale will be in excess of those charged in the ordinary marts of trade.”

“Buttercup Day” (1925)

Tubby, it was plain, had struck it rich and come a long way since the old Criterion days when he used to plead with her to chalk the price of his modest refreshment up on the slate, explaining that credit was the life-blood of Commerce, without which the marts of trade could have no elasticity.

Pigs Have Wings, ch. 7 (1952)

Sunday, with the marts of trade closed and no chance of going out and doing a little shopping, was always a dullish day for Dolly Molloy…

Ice in the Bedroom, ch. 9 (1961)


Hugo Carmody, the Square Dealer *

See If I Were You.


carolled like a linnet in the springtime *

See the two adjacent notes on linnets for Summer Moonshine.


Chapter 3 (Ch. 3; page 32)
Hugo Does His Day’s Good Deed

Runs from pp. 32 to 36 in the present Penguin edition.


“Yes sir ... that’s my baby” (Ch. 3; page 32)

Song by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson. Seems to have first been a hit for Blossom Seeley in 1925: later recorded by many others, of course.


“without a taint of vulgarity or suggestiveness” *

“In my opinion, good clean fun, gratifyingly free from all this modern suggestiveness.”

Hot Water, ch. 2.1 (1932)

“It’s the duty of all of us in these licentious post-war days to put our hands to the plough and quench the flame of this rising tide of unwholesome suggestiveness.”

“The Code of the Mulliners” (1935)

He was genuinely grateful to his recent buddy for having given him five minutes of clean, wholesome entertainment, free from all this modern suggestiveness, and he wished him luck if he was planning to sell that ring to Beefy.

Cocktail Time, ch. 8 (1958)


Hugo, in a similar situation, would have advertised his love like the hero of a musical comedy… *

But there’s no reticence about Bingo. He always reminds me of the hero of a musical comedy who takes the centre of the stage, gathers the boys round him in a circle, and tells them all about his love at the top of his voice.

“Scoring Off Jeeves” (1922)


To hear his aspirations put into bald words like this made him feel as if he were being divested of most of his more important garments in a crowded thoroughfare. *

Listening to “Parted Ways” made him, personally, feel as if he had suddenly lost his trousers while strolling along Piccadilly.

“Best Seller” (1930, collected in Mulliner Nights)


Widgeon Seven *

See Summer Moonshine.


Blenheim Park (Ch. 3; page 35)

Country estate at Woodstock, about ten miles north of Oxford, given to the first Duke of Marlborough in recognition of his services as a general, or possibly in gratitude for his wife’s friendship to Queen Anne. The Palace (not visible from the road) was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh.


Martyrs’ Memorial (Ch. 3; page 35)

A Victorian obelisk in St. Giles (the continuation of the Woodstock Road into the centre of Oxford), designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, and erected in 1842. It commemorates the three bishops (Cranmer in 1556, Latimer and Ridley in 1555) whom Queen Mary burnt at the stake nearby in Broad Street.


Clarendon Hotel (Ch. 3; page 35)

This ancient coaching inn (known as the Star before it was rebuilt with a new facade in 1743) stood in Cornmarket, a little way south of the Martyrs’ Memorial. It was demolished in a fit of civic vandalism in 1954, to be replaced by a Littlewood’s department store (now in turn replaced by a miniature shopping mall called the Clarendon Centre).


dickey (Ch. 3; page 35) °

In this context, a folding extra seat on the back of a car, usually using the lid of the luggage compartment. Equivalent to the US “rumble seat.”


Chapter 4 (Ch. 4; page 37)
Disturbing Occurrences at a Night Club

Runs from pp. 37 to 65 in the present Penguin edition.


picking a winkle out of its shell *

An edible gastropod (marine snail), in full periwinkle; a mollusk of genius Littorina.


the Portuguese, the Argentines and the Greeks (Ch. 4; page 37) °

Refrain of a mildly ethnocentric comic song by Arthur M. Swanstrom and Carey Morgan, published 1920. In the song, these three nationalities are represented as taking over everything from subway seats to American patriotism.

And a funny thing — when we start to sing
“My country ’tis of thee”
None know the words but the Portuguese,
the Argentines and the Greeks.

Arthur M. Swanstrom & Carey Morgan: The Argentines, the Portuguese and the Greeks

The sheet music is online:
http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/sheetmusic/a/a02/a0232/a0232-2-72dpi.html

Wodehouse wrote the introduction to a book by Charles Graves titled —And the Greeks (London: 1930, Geoffrey Bles; New York: 1931, Robert M. McBride) whose title derives from this song.


She extended her hand composedly. *

The UK magazine serial and US book have two additional sentences completing this paragraph:

In her this meeting after long separation had apparently stirred no depths. Her demeanour was friendly, but matter-of-fact.

The US magazine serial includes only the second of these sentences.


as if he was something unpleasant that had come to light in a portion of salad *

Other similar references in Wodehouse usually specify a caterpillar, often in the salad of a vegetarian:

Mr. Downing—for it was no less a celebrity—started, as one who perceives a loathly caterpillar in his salad.

Mike, ch. 36 (1909) (“The Lost Lambs”, ch. 7, 1908)

He put up his eyeglass, and stared at the offending journal with the air of a vegetarian who has found a caterpillar in his salad.

The Prince and Betty [US edition], ch. 14 (1912)

It was with the sullen repulsion of a vegetarian who finds a caterpillar in his salad that he now sat glaring at them.

Something New, ch. 1 (1915)

He lugged them out of the drawer as if he were a vegetarian fishing a caterpillar out of the salad.

Jeeves and the purple socks, in “Jeeves and the Chump Cyril” (1918; as “A Letter of Introduction” in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923)

Nothing, of course, in this world is perfect; and, rosy as were the glasses through which Archie looked on his new surroundings, he had to admit that there was one flaw, one fly in the ointment, one individual caterpillar in the salad.

Indiscretions of Archie, ch. 4 (1921)

But there is always a fly in the ointment, a caterpillar in the salad.

“The Clicking of Cuthbert” (1921)

She stared at him wildly, as she might have stared at a caterpillar in her salad.

“Jane Gets Off the Fairway” (1924)

“Yes,” said Millicent, rather in the tone of voice which Schopenhauer would have used when announcing the discovery of a caterpillar in his salad.

Summer Lightning, ch. 11.3 (1929)

And now she was wearing a look of definite disapproval, like a duchess who has found half a caterpillar in the castle salad.

“The Knightly Quest of Mervyn” (1933; in Mulliner Nights)

Mr. Llewellyn did not speak, merely looked at Monty as if he had been a beetle in the salad…

The Luck of the Bodkins, ch. 21 (1935)

She had lowered her knife and fork, and was staring at her plate with a sort of queenly disgust, like Mrs. Siddons inspecting a caterpillar in her salad.

Quick Service, ch. 1 (1940)

He eyed me for a moment as if I had been a caterpillar in some salad of which he was about to partake, and resumed.

Joy in the Morning, ch. 19 (1946)

She gave him a fleeting look, the sort of look a good woman gives a caterpillar on finding it in her salad, and turned back to Gally.

Pigs Have Wings, ch. 4.3 (1952)

It was a cold, disapproving gaze, such as a fastidious luncher who was not fond of caterpillars might have directed at one which he had discovered in his portion of salad, and I knew that the clash of wills for which I had been bracing myself was about to raise its ugly head.

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 1 (1954)

Giving this snail-impersonator a look such as a particularly fastidious princess might have given the caterpillar which she had discovered in her salad, Jane averted her gaze, and was continuing to avert it, when the uncouth intruder spoke.

Something Fishy/The Butler Did It, ch. 10 (1957)

She was looking cold and revolted, like a princess who has discovered a caterpillar in her salad.

“Unpleasantness at Kozy Kot” (1958, in A Few Quick Ones [US edition, 1959])

Where Lady Constance had winced at the sight of Lord Emsworth like a Greek goddess finding a caterpillar in her salad, she smiled upon him as if their meeting were something to which she had been looking forward for years.

A Pelican at Blandings, ch. 1.2 (1969)

He lowered the beaker as I drew near and regarded me in a squiggle-eyed manner like a fastidious luncher observing a caterpillar in his salad.

Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen, ch. 16 (1974)


Cleopatra (Ch. 4; page 41)

Cleopatra VII (69–31 BCE), Macedonian queen of Egypt, the last of the Ptolemies to hold power. As head of the most economically important country in the region, she inevitably became involved in the power struggles for the control of the Roman Empire, marrying Julius Caesar and, after Caesar’s assassination, Mark Anthony (she also had to marry two of her younger brothers and one of her sons at various times to comply with Egyptian dynastic law). When Anthony was defeated by Octavian she committed suicide rather than be humiliated as a Roman captive.


Catherine of Russia (Ch. 4; page 41)

Catherine the Great (1729–1796). German-born princess who overthrew her husband, Peter III, in 1762 to become empress of Russia. During her reign, industries were built up, Russia’s military power consolidated, and the construction of St. Petersburg completed. Russia was exposed to strong cultural influences from the European enlightenment, but none of them seem to have done anything to improve the lot of the peasants, who only suffered from more efficient government control of their lives.


the Laughing Cavalier (Ch. 4; page 43)

The modern name for a portrait by the Haarlem painter Frans Hals (ca.1580–1666), showing a cheerful — if not exactly lissom — young man with a fine upswept moustache and goatee beard. The painting is now in the Wallace Collection in London.



“Mitt … my dear old friend” *

Mitt is US slang for greeting with a handshake, cited in the OED from 1908 onward; probably a jocular combination of “meet” with “mitten” as slang for the hand.


Thomas G. Molloy (Ch. 4; page 43) °

The Molloys and their associate “Chimp” Twist first appeared in Sam the Sudden, three years earlier. In that novel, Soapy took Dolly’s maiden surname for his own alias, pretending to be Thomas G. Gunn, father of Dora “Dolly” Gunn. This is their second outing.


Founder of the Feast *

Reminiscent of Bob Cratchit’s toast to Mr. Scrooge in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.


Ben Baermann’s Collegiate Buddies (Ch. 4; page 45) °

Wodehouse seems to have been fond of popular songs (quite apart from writing their lyrics himself!), but evidently disliked club musicians: this is by no means the only place where a nightclub band gets a raw deal from him. Presumably, in calling the band “collegiate buddies” he wants the reader to conclude that they are neither.
In his liner notes for his recording of the Kern–Wodehouse–Bolton musical Sitting Pretty, conductor John McGlinn quotes Kern on this subject, “None of our music now reaches the public as we wrote it except in the theatre. It is so distorted by jazz orchestras as to be almost unrecognizable.[...] A composer should be able to protect his score just as an author does his manuscripts.[...] The public, through the cabaret and radio broadcasting, is not getting genuine music, only a fraudulent imitation.”
Kern in fact banned the score of Sitting Pretty (1924) from being broadcast or recorded by dance bands. Wodehouse would surely have been aware of his partner’s feelings on this subject and presumably agreed with him. [Ian Michaud/The Mixer]


the same spirit of captious criticism… *

See Sam the Sudden.


Lot ... cities of the plain (Ch. 4; page 45)

In the book of Genesis, Lot is Abraham’s nephew. He goes to live in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Jordanian plain. In Gen. 19, a couple of angels turn up and tell him to take his family and flee, as the cities are due to be demolished, without a UN mandate, for unspecified wickedness. (Christian theologians have since had a lot of fun inventing evil acts that the Sodomites might have been guilty of, had they thought of them.)
However, there isn’t any specific reference in the text to Lot himself regarding the cities in a spirit of captious criticism.

See Fr. Rob’s take on this at Biblia Wodehousiana.


The Courtship of Miles Standish (Ch. 4; page 46) °

Miles Standish (ca.1584–1656) was one of the members of the group of colonists who travelled to America on the Mayflower in 1620. He had been a professional soldier, and became the military leader and treasurer of the Plymouth colony.
Longfellow’s blank-verse epic of 1858 seems to have little or no historical foundation. Standish, a shy widower, sends his beautiful young secretary, John Alden, to court Priscilla the Puritan Maiden on his behalf. Although Pat remembers the words, she has got the plot mixed up: Alden is secretly in love with Priscilla himself, as she quickly realizes, so she is chiding him for carrying another’s message, not (as Pat thinks) for relying on a messenger.
Longfellow seems to be critical of Standish not for lacking the courage to carry his own proposal, but for thoughtlessly putting his friend Alden in an impossible position.

Thereupon answered the youth:—“Indeed I do not condemn you;
Stouter hearts than a woman’s have quailed in this terrible winter.
Yours is tender and trusting, and needs a stronger to lean on;
So I have come to you now, with an offer and proffer of marriage
Made by a good man and true, Miles Standish the Captain of Plymouth!”

Thus he delivered his message, the dexterous writer of letters,—
Did not embellish the theme, nor array it in beautiful phrases,
But came straight to the point, and blurted it out like a schoolboy;
Even the Captain himself could hardly have said it more bluntly.
Mute with amazement and sorrow, Priscilla the Puritan maiden
Looked into Alden’s face, her eyes dilated with wonder,
Feeling his words like a blow, that stunned her and rendered her speechless;
Till at length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence:
“If the great Captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me,
Why does he not come himself, and take the trouble to woo me?
If I am not worth the wooing, I surely am not worth the winning!”
Then John Alden began explaining and smoothing the matter,
Making it worse as he went, by saying the Captain was busy,—
Had no time for such things;—such things! the words grating harshly
Fell on the ear of Priscilla; and swift as a flash she made answer:
“Has he no time for such things, as you call it, before he is married,
Would he be likely to find it, or make it, after the wedding?”

But as he warmed and glowed, in his simple and eloquent language,
Quite forgetful of self, and full of the praise of his rival,
Archly the maiden smiled, and, with eyes over-running with laughter,
Said, in a tremulous voice, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: The Courtship of Miles Standish, III


“My Sweetie is a Wow” (Ch. 4; page 47) °

Mark Hodson didn’t find a song with this exact title: he thought it could perhaps be a mixed-up reference to the opening lines of the song “If You Knew Susie” (1925). Despite what Meyer and DeSylva suggest, Shakespeare seems to be innocent of the expression “...is a wow” — the OED records it as 1920s slang, with one of the first examples being from The Small Bachelor.

I have got a sweetie known as Susie
In the words of Shakespeare she’s a “wow”
Though all of you may know her, too
I’d like to shout right now…

B. G. DeSylva & Joseph Meyer: If You Knew Susie

[Note an earlier PGW usage of “is a wow” in Bill the Conqueror from 1924, before this song was published, so the slang phrase itself predated the song. Linking it to “sweetie” may well have been influenced by the song, though the title as quoted here may be a Wodehouse invention, since the only references Google can find are to this story. —NM]


jellyfish ... mind of your own (Ch. 4; page 47)

A jellyfish does have a mind of its own, if not a very highly developed one. Its nervous system is distributed throughout the body, and there is no central brain.
Usually, jellyfish in Wodehouse are used to stand for spinelessness, a quality they indubitably have to excess.


you’ve gone blah (Ch. 4; page 47)

Dull, unadventurous (slang). The OED seems to have missed this one — it records the first use in print as Ngaio Marsh in 1937. (Blah as a noun, used to describe meaningless talk, is also from the 1920s.)


“Our Miss Wyvern appears to have got the wires crossed.” *

See Hot Water.


Keats ... forlorn (Ch. 4; page 49)

Wodehouse seems to have thought Keats wrote knell, not bell. He also uses “the very word is like a knell,” mentioning Keats, in the concert scene of The Girl on the Boat.

... The same that oft-times hath
Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
 
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back back from thee to my sole self!

John Keats: Ode to a Nightingale, 68–72


it simply isn’t on the board *

See Ice in the Bedroom.


Jewish black beetle (Ch. 4; page 50)

Wodehouse experts have never been able to work out how Jewish black beetles are to be distinguished from coleoptera of other faiths, although there have been some ingenious suggestions. Wodehouse didn’t often descend to this sort of cheap and inexact insult: obviously he considered nightclub musicians were not worth the price of a fully-thought-out Wodehouse insult.


Ronald Overbury Fish (Ch. 4; page 51) °

This is his first appearance: he returns in Summer Lightning and Heavy Weather, with a mention of his marriage in The Luck of the Bodkins. Fish is not an uncommon name, but there must be at least a suspicion that Wodehouse chose the name so that people could call him “that poor Fish.”
The village of Overbury, just south of Bredon Hill in Worcestershire, is close to Hanley Castle and Malvern, where Wodehouse had relatives and spent time in his youth.
Sir Thomas Overbury (1581–1613) was a poet and courtier of James I, who died of poisoning while imprisoned in the Tower of London after upsetting the royal favourite Robert Carr and the influential Howard family.


Eton (Ch. 4; page 51)

Eton College is the oldest public school in England. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as “The King’s College of Our Lady of Eton beside Windsor.” A year later, the king founded King’s College, Cambridge, with the intention that scholars from Eton would continue their education there.


Trinity College, Cambridge (Ch. 4; page 51)

Established in 1546 by Henry VIII. Probably has more famous alumni than the rest of Oxford and Cambridge universities put together. Ronnie and Hugo, assuming they were up in the early 1920s, might have encountered Hardy and Ramanujan, Alfred Whitehead, Lord Rayleigh, Wittgenstein, A. E. Housman, and many other great names.


“Shall I like your uncle?”
“No.” *

US and UK magazine and US book texts have a longer version of the second line:

“No,” said Hugo confidently.


She reminded him of a leopardess, an animal of which he had never been fond. *

US magazine and US book texts omit this sentence. UK magazine omits the entire paragraph.


“Oh?” said John. *

US magazine and book continue this paragraph with:

He supposed the practice of calling a father by a nickname in preference to the more old-fashioned style of address was the latest fad of the Modern Girl.

In the US magazine, “modern girl” is in lower case.


marcelled hair *

See The Code of the Woosters.


Vine Street (Ch. 4; page 56) °

Vine Street is a small side street between Piccadilly and Regent Street, close to Piccadilly Circus. It was the site of a police station, now closed, the headquarters of “C” Division of the Metropolitan Police.

Wodehouse disguises it slightly as “Vinton Street” in Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit (1954).


after hours (Ch. 4; page 56) °

Until quite recently, English licensing laws didn’t make any separate provision for nightclubs, which were (theoretically) supposed to stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m., like pubs.

US magazine serial and book have “after prohibited hours” here.


All quiet along the Potomac (Ch. 4; page 57)

Popular song of the American Civil War. The Potomac is the river which flows through Washington, DC.

“All quiet along the Potomac,” they say,
Except now and then a stray picket
Is shot as he walks on his beat to and fro
By a rifleman hid in the thicket.
’Tis nothing. A private or two now and then
Will not count in the news of the battle;
Not an officer lost. Only one of the men
Moaning out all alone the death rattle.
All quiet along the Potomac tonight,
Where the soldiers lie peacefully dreaming,
Their tents in the rays of the clear autumn moon,
O’er the light of the watch fires, are gleaming;
There’s only the sound of the lone sentry’s tread
As he tramps from the rock to the fountain,
And thinks of the two in the low trundle bed,
Far away in the cot on the mountain.

His musket falls slack, and his face, dark and grim,
Grows gentle with memories tender,
As he mutters a prayer for the children asleep,
For their mother, may Heaven defend her.
The moon seems to shine just as brightly as then
That night when the love yet unspoken
Leaped up to his lips when low-murmured vows
Were pledged to be ever unbroken.

Then drawing his sleeve roughly over his eyes,
He dashes off tears that are welling,
And gathers his gun closer up to its place
As if to keep down the heart-swelling.
He passes the fountain, the blasted pine tree,
The footstep is lagging and weary;
Yet onward he goes, through the broad belt of light,
Toward the shades of the forest so dreary—

Hark! Was it the night wind that rustled the leaves?
Was it moonlight so wondrously flashing?
It looks like a rifle—“Ah! Mary, good-bye!”
And the lifeblood is ebbing and splashing.
All quiet along the Potomac tonight,
No sound save the rush of the river;
While soft falls the dew on the face of the dead—
The picket’s off duty forever.

Ethelinda Beers (1827–1879): All Quiet Along the Potomac


more or less jake *

US slang for “satisfactory, excellent, fine” dating from 1914; the OED cites Wodehouse’s use in Bill the Conqueror (ch. 6.2 of the book, ch. 8.2 of the magazine serial linked here).


a keen east wind *

In the UK, east winds have traveled over a large Continental land mass, and in winter can be very cold.


a bad quarter of an hour *

A direct translation of the French idiomatic phrase un mauvais quart d’heure, also common in its English version since the middle of the nineteenth century.


A very deep depression off the coast of Iceland … Snow Queen *

More metaphors for the coldness of Pat’s manner as she feels that she has been neglected during the police raid. The first is more meteorological talk; the second is a reference to an 1844 fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen.


Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned *

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


He likes to nuzzle them. *

The verb has a variety of meanings, some relating to the nose (as a horse might affectionately push its nose up against a person it likes), and some less specifically physical, for cherishing and coddling something, “to provide with a snug place of rest” [OED]. The US book has the misprint “muzzle” here.


An American statistician … nearly fifty different methods of replying in the affirmative *

This appears to be a quotation from Pathfinder, v. 33, p. 16 (1926). Google Books gives only a snippet view, but the “found inside” text says:

Louis Pound, of the University of Nebraska, there are too many substitutes for the word “yes” in the English language. ... The list includes: yeth, yap, yum, yo, yaws, yezz, chess, chass, chahss, chuss, ’es, yair, chow, yip, yaw, yap, yop, yup, yurp, ...


Pots of money. *

See Ukridge.


a twin set of head phones *

As mentioned above, crystal radio receivers did not have amplification so as to be able to drive loudspeakers, so must be listened to with headphones. The picture of husband and wife enjoying the same radio broadcast together is a charming one.


Just a Real Good Face. *

US magazine serial and book omit this sentence.


I suppose I’ve sold more dud oil stock to suckers” *

The US and UK magazine and US book have “bum oil stock”—but the Jenkins editors apparently thought the colloquial UK sense of “bum” as “posterior” necessitated a change for their readers.


“You don’t say!”
“Yes, ma’am!”
“Well, isn’t that great. Is he rich?” *

In US and UK magazines and US book, the second and third lines are:

“I do say!”
“Well, isn’t that the greatest thing. Is he rich?”

US magazine also has an exclamation point after “thing” here.


stately homes of England *

See Leave It to Psmith.


the bulls after us *

US slang for the police; Chapman (New Dictionary of American Slang) says it is from the 1700s.


something attempted, something done… *

Something attempted, something done,
 Has earned a night’s repose.

Longfellow: “The Village Blacksmith”


Chapter 5 (Ch. 5; page 66)
Money for Nothing

Runs from pp. 66 to 88 in the present Penguin edition.


compelled to gaze every time they looked out of window *

The UK first edition reads as above; later UK editions (Autograph 1959 and following) and US and UK magazine serials have “out of the window”; the US first edition book reads “out of windows” here.

The older British idiom “out of window” is also found in Summer Lightning, ch. 12.1:

“What have you been doing, Mr. Baxter?”
“Jumping out of window.”


…disappointed with Rudge. *

US and UK magazine serials and US book have a paragraph break following this, and insert:

 There are times in everyone’s experience when Life, after running merrily for a while through pleasant places, seems suddenly to strike a dull and depressing patch of road: and this is what was happening now to Pat. The sense, which had come to her so strongly in the lobby of the Lincoln Hotel in Curzon Street, of being in a world unworthy of her—a world cold and unsympathetic and full of an inferior grade of human being, had deepened.

The new paragraph (or two paragraphs in US magazine, with slightly different punctuation) continues with “Her home-coming…” as in UK book.

The phrase “pleasant places” may allude to Psalm 16:6: “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.”


piazza (Ch. 5; page 67)

In this context, the inner courtyard of a town house (Shakespeare does not use this Italian word).


Capulets ... Montague (Ch. 5; page 67) °

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, these are the two feuding families in Verona. Juliet is the daughter of Lord Capulet, and Romeo is a Montague, of course.

US and UK magazines and US book continue the paragraph with:

And, though, being a modern girl, she did not as a rule respond with any great alacrity to parental mandates, she had her share of clan loyalty and realized that she must conform to the rules of the game.


deadline (Ch. 5; page 67)

This is the original meaning of deadline: a line (usually the perimeter of a prison) which may not be crossed on pain of death. The meaning time limit, used in the publishing industry, came in around 1920.


Lowick (Ch. 5; page 68)

Fictitious: obviously a reference to Powick, where Wodehouse’s grandmother lived. It is about twenty miles from Droitwich, the main source for Rudge.


Pat, still distrait *

The adjective, meaning “distracted from attention, absent-minded,” is a borrowing from French. The editor of the US book treated it as a foreign word and used the French feminine form “distraite” here.


diablerie (Ch. 5; page 70)

Devilry, mischief.


life in the old dog yet *

US and UK magazines and US book have considerably more material in this and following paragraphs. The easiest way to show this is to present the passage as in the US book, with material omitted in the UK book in red.

 The Dolly whom Colonel Wyvern beheld was a beautiful woman with just that hint of diablerie in her bearing which makes elderly widowers feel that there is life in the old dog yet. Colonel Wyvern was no longer the dashing Hussar who in the ’nineties had made his presence felt in many a dim sitting-out place and in many a punt beneath the willows of the Thames, but there still lingered in him a trace of the old barrack-room fire. Drawing himself up, he automatically twirled his moustache. To Colonel Wyvern Dolly represented Beauty.
 To Chas. Bywater, with his more practical and worldly outlook, she represented Wealth. He saw in Dolly not so much a beautiful woman as a rich-looking woman. Although Soapy had contrived, with subtle reasoning, to head her off from the extensive purchases which she had contemplated making in preparation for her visit to Rudge, Dolly undoubtedly took the eye. She was, as she would have put it herself, a snappy dresser, and in Chas. Bywater’s mind she awoke roseate visions of large orders for face creams, imported scents and expensive bath salts.
 Emily, it was evident, regarded Mrs. Molloy as Perfection. A dog who, as a rule, kept herself to herself and looked on the world with a cool and rather sardonic eye, she had conceived for Dolly the moment they met one of those capricious adorations which come occasionally to the most hard-boiled Welsh terriers. Hastily swallowing her cough drop, she bounded up and fawned on her.
 So far, the reactions caused by the newcomer’s entrance have been unmixedly favourable. It is only when we come to Pat that we find Disapproval rearing its ugly head.
“Disapproval,” indeed, is a mild and inadequate word. “Loathing” would be more correct. Where Colonel Wyvern beheld beauty and Mr. Bywater opulence, Pat saw only flashiness, vulgarity, and general horribleness. Piercing with woman’s intuitive eye through an outer crust which to vapid and irreflective males might possibly seem attractive, Pat saw Dolly as a vampire and a menace—the sort of woman who goes about the place ensnaring miserable fat-headed innocent young men who have lived all their lives in the country and so lack the experience to see through females of her type.

Hussar *

A light cavalry regiment, deriving its title and some of its ceremonial dress from earlier Central European mounted forces.

vapid and irreflective *

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

vampire *

See Summer Lightning.


Church organ fund... (Ch. 5; page 73)

The regular income of Anglican churches comes mostly from land owned by the Church Commissioners. This tends to be only barely enough to pay the clergy, so charity work, social activities and major repairs to church buildings usually require additional funds from voluntary donations.
The charities listed are mostly obvious. Many churches used to organise social events for church members under the name Pleasant Sunday Afternoons (PSA) — presumably Pleasant Sunday Evenings are a variant on this.
A curate is a junior member of the clergy who assists the vicar of a parish. There would have been at least one in most larger parishes. An Additional Curate is one not provided for in the regular income of the parish: the Additional Curates Society is an Anglican charity which has funded such posts in many poorer parishes since Victorian times.


the actual bag *

The Reverend Alistair uses “bag” in the sporting sense of the quantity of game, fish, etc. shot or caught in one outing, or figuratively the successful output of the day’s efforts.


Five shillings gone—just like that! *

The US magazine serial and US book omit the exclamation point and continue:

 —and every moment now he was expecting his nephew John to walk in and increase his expenditure. For just after breakfast John had asked if he could have a word with him later on in the morning, and Mr. Carmody knew what that meant.
 John ran the Hall’s dairy farm, and he was always coming to Mr. Carmody for money to buy exotic machinery which could not, the latter considered, be really necessary. To Mr. Carmody a dairy farm was a straight issue between man and cow. You backed the cow up against a wall, secured its milk, and there you were. John always seemed to want to make the thing so complicated and difficult, and only the fact that he also made it pay induced his uncle ever to accede to his monstrous demands.


…never set eyes upon a baser document. *

US and UK magazines and US book have a long passage following this:

 He was shuddering at the depths of depravity which it revealed, when the door opened and John came in. Mr. Carmody beheld him and shuddered. John—he could tell it by his eye—was planning another bad dent in the budget.
 “Oh, Uncle Lester,” said John.
 “Well?” said Mr. Carmody hopelessly.
 “I think we ought to have some new Alpha Separators.”
 “What?”
 “Alpha Separators.”
 “Why?”
 “We need them.”
 “Why?”
 “The old ones are past their work.”
 “What,” inquired Mr. Carmody, “is an Alpha Separator?”
 John said it was an Alpha Separator.
 There was a pause. John, who appeared to have something on his mind these days, stared gloomily at the carpet. Mr. Carmody shifted in his chair.
 “Very well,” he said.
 “And new tractors,” said John. “And we could do with a few harrows.”
 “Why do you want harrows?”
 “For harrowing.”
 Even Mr. Carmody, anxious though he was to find flaws in the other’s reasoning, could see that this might well be so. Try harrowing without harrows, and you are handicapped from the start. But why harrow at all? That was what seemed to him superfluous and wasteful. Still, he supposed it was unavoidable. After all, John had been carefully trained at an agricultural college after leaving Oxford and presumably knew.
 “Very well,” he said.
 “All right,” said John.
 He went out, and Mr. Carmody experienced a little relief at the thought that he had now heard all this morning’s bad news.
 But dairy farmers have second thoughts. The door opened again.
 “I was forgetting,” said John, poking his head in.
 Mr. Carmody uttered a low moan.
 “We want some Thomas tap-cinders.”
 “Thomas what?”
 “Tap-cinders.”
 “Thomas tap-cinders?”
 “Thomas tap-cinders.”
 Mr. Carmody swallowed unhappily. He knew it was no use asking what these mysterious implements were, for his nephew would simply reply that they were Thomas tap-cinders or that they were something invented by a Mr. Thomas for the purpose of cinder-tapping, leaving his brain in the same addled condition in which it was at present. If John wished to tap cinders, he supposed he must humour him.
 “Very well,” he said dully.
 He held his breath for a few moments after the door had closed once more, then, gathering at length that the assault on his purse was over, expelled it in a long sigh and gave himself up to bleak meditation.

For Alpha Separators, see the note below.


…little to view with alarm. *

US and UK magazines and US book insert following this:

He was sitting pretty, and he admitted it.


churl ... scurvy knave (Ch. 5; page 74)

In Anglo-Saxon times, churl was the lowest category of freeman. After the Norman Conquest most churls were reduced to the status of villein (i.e. a peasant who holds his land in return for feudal service to his lord), and the word also took on this sense.
A knave in feudal times was a male domestic servant. The adjective scurvy, in the sense of disreputable, worthless, is a 16th century word, so the expression “scurvy knave,” though popular with historical novelists, is a little anachronistic.


Modern sons of the soil *

In the US and UK magazines and US book, this phrase is replaced simply with “They”.


He stood at the window and looked out on the sunlit garden. *

In the US and UK magazines and US book, he “wandered to” the window instead, and looked out “at” the sunlit garden.


blue bird (Ch. 5; page 74)

The association of the ‘blue bird’ with elusive happiness comes from Maeterlinck’s play L’Oiseau bleu (translated into English in 1909). Wodehouse uses this image quite often: cf. e.g. “The Crime Wave at Blandings”, Money in the Bank, and Cocktail Time.


July ... golden wings (Ch. 5; page 74)

This may not be a specific allusion, as golden wings are something of a literary cliché. If looking for this phrase, it would even be possible to make a case here for “Va, pensiero” from Nabucco..!
Burns’s song “Highland Mary” doesn’t use the exact expression, but it does associate “the golden hours on angel wings” specifically with summer.

How sweetly bloom’d the gay, green birk,
How rich the hawthorn’s blossom,
As underneath their fragrant shade,
I clasp’d her to my bosom!
The golden Hours on angel wings,
Flew o’er me and my Dearie;
For dear to me, as light and life,
Was my sweet Highland Mary.

Robert Burns: Highland Mary 9–16


manufacturing diamonds out of coal-tar (Ch. 5; page 75)

Synthetic industrial diamonds (made from graphite, not coal-tar) were first successfully produced about 25 years after the publication of Money for Nothing.


Human Sardine (Ch. 5; page 75) °

Sardines are normally sold packed in vegetable oil and tinned/canned.


“You are a stranger in England,” *

In the US and UK magazines and US book, this is more specific to the vicinity:

“You are a stranger here,”


Worcester is only seven miles away, Birmingham is only eighteen (Ch. 5; page 75)

As Norman Murphy has pointed out, Droitwich is the only place that could fit this description. Wodehouse was staying in Droitwich during at least some of the time he was writing this book.
Droitwich is a small town which originally developed as a centre for salt extraction. When the salt industry started to decline in the late 19th century, the place rebranded itself as a Spa offering brine baths.

N.T.P. Murphy: In Search of Blandings (1986), p. 205


Job (Ch. 5; page 76)

In the Book of Job, in the Bible, Job is a respectable, god-fearing and reasonably wealthy man, upon whom God inflicts a remarkable series of catastrophes to prove a theological point.


First in war... (Ch. 5; page 77)

To the memory of the Man, first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.

Henry Lee: Memoirs (Eulogy on George Washington)


What did Gladstone say in ’88? (Ch. 5; page 77)

W.E. Gladstone (1809–1898), leader of the Liberal Party, was Prime Minister three times. He doesn’t seem to have said anything especially notable in 1888, a period when he was out of office.
Ronnie is (mis-)quoting a remark usually attributed to Abraham Lincoln.

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

Abraham Lincoln (attributed)


John D. Rockefeller (Ch. 5; page 78)

John D. Rockefeller (1839–1937) — Founder of the Standard Oil Company, reputedly the world’s first billionaire. Donated more than US$ 540 million to charitable causes.


Charley Schwab (Ch. 5; page 78) °

Charles M. Schwab (1862–1939). An American steel tycoon who started out working in one of Carnegie’s steelmills — first president of United States Steel, was running the Bethlehem Steel Corporation at the time Wodehouse was writing.

Charles R. Schwab, founder of the present-day investment corporation, is not a relative of the steel Schwab.


how much cash he could get for its contents *

The US and UK magazines and US book replace “its contents” with “this Velasquez or this Gainsborough”.


the iron entered into Lester Carmody’s soul *

A traditional phrase in the Book of Common Prayer version of the Psalms, deriving from Miles Coverdale’s 1539 English version, relying on a mistranslation of a Hebrew phrase in Psalm 105:18. Most modern translations render this as “he was put in irons” or in fetters, but the Latin Vulgate had it as ferrum pertransit animam ejus which says that the iron entered his soul.


Elizabethan salt cellar (Ch. 5; page 81) °

In medieval times, a salt-cellar (often just a box or pot) would be placed in the middle of the table, marking the boundary between the parts where the gentry and the servants sat. Elizabethan salt-cellars of the type Sir Lester presumably refers to here were large, decorative table ornaments in silver or gold, normally not intended to contain actual salt.
Given Droitwich’s historical role in the salt industry, Wodehouse might well have seen such a salt-cellar during his stay there. The Chateau Impney Hotel where he stayed was the former home of the town’s main saltmaker, Sir John Corbett.

The US and UK magazines and US book omit this entire sentence about the Elizabethan salt cellar, although it is mentioned in Chapter 9 as one of the items that had been burgled.


laws governing heirlooms (Ch. 5; page 81)

In fact, as I [MH] understand it, the law had been changed by the Administration of Estates Act 1925, and most of the legal restrictions on disposing of heirlooms no longer applied.
Wodehouse also uses this plot device in Company for Henry.

Heirlooms were articles which, either from their connection with real estate or by special custom, formerly passed, on the death of the ancestor, to the heir. They were connected in this manner with real estate when they were an incident of the tenure of land, or were necessary for maintaining the dignity of the owner of land or the possessor of a title.

Halsbury’s Laws of England REAL PROPERTY—2. LAND AND INTERESTS IN LAND—(2) CHATTELS IDENTIFIED WITH REAL ESTATE—89. Heirlooms.


a bunch of trustees *

US magazine, UK magazine, and US book characterize them as “a hard-boiled bunch of trustees.”


for the love of Pete *

Also sometimes expressed as “for the love of Mike”; in either case a substitute oath for swearing by the love of God.

The US and UK magazines and US book have:

“For the love of Pete . . .!” began Mr. Molloy.

Then in the next sentence, “Mr. Molloy” is replaced by “him”.


hands in his dinner pail *

From the term “dinner pail” for what we might call a workman’s lunch box or bucket; Wodehouse made the phrase popular as a euphemism for death, but he did not invent it. The first citation in the OED is from A. M. “Pitcher” Binstead of the original Pelican Club, in his 1905 book Mop Fair:

…there was a new star born in the Middle Way on Monday night, for during the small dog watches, Evelyn Godolphin Mountprospect, fourth and youngest son of the Earl of Atholbrose, passed in his dinner pail.
 He met his end in the shape of the new regimental mess waistcoat, or rather in his suicidal efforts to get into it: he died of tight lacing.


Pierpont Morgan (Ch. 5; page 83)

John Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913) was a banker and financier who controlled much of the US railway network and a number of important shipping lines, including Cunard–White Star. He donated most of his vast art collection to the Metropolitan Museum in New York on his death.


Jake Shubert (Ch. 5; page 83)

Jacob J. Shubert (1880–1963), youngest of the three Shubert brothers who owned many of the theatres on New York’s Broadway.


only the imbecile laws... (Ch. 5; page 83)

He might also have had problems with the laws governing the export of antiques and works of art from the UK, of course.


Almost all embezzlers, for instance, says this authority, are fat men. *

(There is a strange kinship between obesity and financial crime—almost all embezzlers are fat.)

Vance Thompson: Eat and Grow Thin: the Mahdah menus (1914)


that spacious charity *

Thus in US magazine, UK magazine, UK book; reminiscent of Ukridge’s “big, broad, flexible outlook.” US book editor amended it to, or misread it as, “specious”: appearing genuine on the surface.


mashed potatoes *

Slang for nonsense; Bertie replies to Jeeves’s caution about the red-haired Bobbie Wickham in “Jeeves and the Yuletide Spirit” that his advice is “rot,” “absolute drivel,” and “pure mashed potatoes.” [Thanks to Ian Michaud.]


“Pop’s got a friend” *

US magazine, UK magazine, and US book insert “another millionaire like himself” here (set off by commas).


kayo *

Here, a humorous inversion of “O.K.” In other contexts, an abbreviation for “knock-out” either as a boxing victory or a drug to cause unconsciousness, as in Chapter 9.3 of the present book.


“Cheese it!” *

See Leave It to Psmith.


his nibs *

See A Damsel in Distress.


Chapter 6 (Ch. 6; page 89)
Mr. Carmody Among the Birds

Runs from pp. 89 to 99 in the present Penguin edition.


second floor (Ch. 6; page 89)

This would be the third floor, in American terms (in Britain only floors above the ground floor are counted).


Jack ... bean-stalk (Ch. 6; page 89)

The play Jack and the Beanstalk was first produced by David Garrick in 1773. It soon became established as one of the regular subjects for traditional Christmas pantomimes. However, the origins of the story itself are obscure. There may be a link to German or Welsh stories of giant-killers.


set foot on the ladder’s lowest rung (Ch. 6; page 89)

This is, metaphorically, how all great businessmen in Wodehouse claim that they started their careers.


the start of a perfect day *

Probably a slyly altered allusion to a popular song; see A Damsel in Distress for another such allusion and the source.


This substitute appeared to be fizzing…*

US and UK magazines and US book have “This substitute, whatever it was, appeared to be fizzing…” here.


Country Life articles (Ch. 6; page 91) °

Evelyn Waugh killed this style of writing stone dead a few years later with his immortal ‘questing vole’ parody, although nature articles still persist in the British papers, many of them written by Australians.
Wodehouse doesn’t seem to be referring specifically to Country Life, a British magazine very popular with dentists and other proprietors of waiting rooms, but rather to the genre as it appeared in daily newspapers.

Feather-footed through the plashy fen passes the questing vole.

Evelyn Waugh: Scoop (1938)


African nemesia (Ch. 6; page 91)

Wodehouse now seems to be parodying the style of seedsmen’s catalogues, too.
Nemesia are a family of plants found in southern Africa, where they flower mainly during the winter months (July to September). In the northern hemisphere they are planted as annuals. As Wodehouse says, they are noted for their brightly-coloured flowers.
(As nemesia are only native to Africa, the ‘African’ in the name is redundant.)


delphiniums, Canterbury bells, ... geum (Ch. 6; page 91)

These are all classic ‘cottage garden’ flowers, to be found in any rural English garden in the summer months.


jay (Garrulus glandarius rufitergum) (Ch. 6; page 92)

Wodehouse is playing word games again, stuffing in some over-pretentious names for comic effect. He also has a habit, wrongly, of capitalising the specific and sub-specific names — in scientific names, only the first (generic) name should be capitalised. And no self-respecting ornithologist uses the sub-specific name except in very specialised circumstances.
Garrulus glandarius rufitergum is indeed the race of Jay (or, as we are now supposed to call it, the Eurasian Jay) which occurs throughout most of Britain and adjacent parts of the continent — it is not easily distinguishable in the field from the Irish race, G. g. hibernicus; the nominate race, G. g. glandarius, which occurs throughout most of Europe from the Balkans to the Arctic, and which sometimes winters in Britain, can only be distinguished in the hand. [AGOL]


Corvus Monedula Spermologus (Ch. 6; page 92)

Corvus monedula spermologus is the race of Jackdaw (or, would you believe it, Eurasian Jackdaw!) which breeds in Britain and most of Europe; the nominate race, C. m. monedula, breeds in Scandinavia and is sometimes found in Britain as a spring visitor. [AGOL]


Prunella Modularis Occidentalis (Ch. 6; page 92)

When we come to the Sparrow, we find the first of Wodehouse’s mistakes. Say “the Sparrow” to most British bird-watchers and they will assume that you are referring to the House Sparrow (yes, we are still allowed to call it that!), Passer domesticus, a bird which was, until recently, ubiquitous in almost all areas of habitation in Britain (for some reason as yet unexplained, it has become quite rare in some areas — I haven’t seen one in ages).
Prunella modularis occidentalis (not occidentails, as in some editions of the book) used to be called the Hedge Sparrow, though its near relative, P. collaris, was known as the Alpine Accentor. As they are not related to species of the genus Passer, P. modularis is now officially known as the Hedge Accentor. [AGOL]


Dartford warbler (Ch. 6; page 92)

The Dartford Warbler (referred to a page later as the Dartmouth Warbler in UK book editions!), or at least the race occuring in Britain, was indeed known as Melizophilus undatus dartfordiensis. It is now recognised as a member of the genus Sylvia, and its correct name now is Sylvia undata dartfordiensis.
While never common, it used to breed throughout southern and eastern England, from Suffolk, Essex and Kent (hence Dartford, type locality for the British race) west to Cornwall, and northward as far as Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Shropshire; as it’s a fairly distinctive bird, Wodehouse may have been familiar with it (he describes it accurately enough), most probably from when he lived in southern Hampshire.
But throughout the 20th Century its range contracted drastically: it’s estimated that only some 12 pairs survived the severe winter of 1962–63. Although numbers have since increased into the hundreds, it’s still a scarce resident, confined almost exclusively now to the fragmented remnants of lowland heathland in Surrey, Hampshire and Dorset. [AGOL]


a Fair Isle sweater in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot *

A style of knitting pattern using multiple colors of yarn in horizontal stripes; the Prince of Wales (shown in a 1925 painting by Lander, at right) [later King Edward VIII, then the Duke of Windsor] began wearing them in public in 1921. The dress code in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot mandates the most formal styles of daytime dress with (naturally) Ascot ties, swallowtail coats, spats, toppers and all the trimmings.



Dryobates major anglicus (Ch. 6; page 93)

The great spotted woodpecker, now reclassified as Dendrocopos major.


Sturnus vulgaris (Ch. 6; page 93)

The European starling.


Emberiza curlus (sic.) (Ch. 6; page 93)

The cirl bunting, Emberiza cirlus — very rare in the UK, where it is only to be found in Devon.


Muscicapa striata (Ch. 6; page 93)

Spotted flycatcher. Found throughout the British isles in the summer months.


Lucknow ... Highlanders (Ch. 6; page 94)

The siege of the Residency at Lucknow (June–November 1857) is one of the most famous incidents of the Indian “mutiny”. When Havelock and Outram arrived with their Highlanders on 25 September, they were able to fight their way through the beseiging forces into the Residency, but once there they found themselves trapped too: their force was far too small to raise the siege, which continued until Sir Colin Campbell arrived in November.

Day by day the Indian tiger
Louder yelled, and nearer crept;
Round and round the jungle-serpent
Near and nearer circles swept.
‘Pray for rescue, wives and mothers,—
Pray to-day!’ the soldier said;
‘To-morrow, death’s between us
And the wrong and shame we dread.’

Oh, they listened, looked, and waited,
Till their hope became despair;
And the sobs of low bewailing
Filled the pauses of their prayer.
Then up spake a Scottish maiden,
With her ear unto the ground:
‘Dinna ye hear it?—dinna ye hear it?
The pipes o’ Havelock sound!’

Hushed the wounded man his groaning;
Hushed the wife her little ones;
Alone they heard the drum-roll
And the roar of Sepoy guns.
But to sounds of home and childhood
The Highland ear was true;—
As her mother’s cradle-crooning
The mountain pipes she knew.

John Greenleaf Whittier: The Pipes at Lucknow 17–32


“But what,” persisted Hugo insatiably, “is the big idea?” *

US and UK magazines and US book read “the big—or general—idea” here.


Ladder, long, wooden, one. Correct as per memo. *

A style of describing inventory items by category in increasing order of specificity, common in both business and military jargon of the time. US and UK magazines and US book introduce an additional qualifier, “for purposes of climbing,” following “wooden.”


Esteemed order booked. *

Also business formality in shorthand form, a way of saying “We have entered your order on our books, and we consider it a great honor to serve you.”


I’m giving my popular imitation of a vice. *

One of the few occasions when the UK book text is more Wodehousean than the other three versions, which merely read “As in a vise.” (US magazine; US book and UK magazine spell it ‘vice’).


human talking-machine *

Talking machine was an early popular name for the phonograph, as well as being used for mechanical devices that mimic speech.


swallow (Ch. 6; page 96)

Hirundo rustica, presumably.


“Swallow’s nest?”
“Swallow’s nest.” *

US and UK magazines and US book expand the second line of this interchange:

“Swallow’s nest. The nest,” said Mr. Carmody between his teeth, “of a swallow.”


loopy … clean off his castors. *

“Loopy” for “crazy” was fresh slang at the time; the OED cites a 1925 dictionary of military slang, as well as Evelyn Waugh’s use of it in Decline and Fall also in 1928. “Off his castors” seems to be an original coinage with Wodehouse, at least in the sense of mental aberration, similar to “off the rails” or “off the track”; searches for the phrase only return literal usages or more clearly physical figurative ones such as a knocked-out boxer, in addition to reprints of this story.


Boadicea (Ch. 6; page 97)

Boadicea or Boudica, queen of the Iceni, a British tribe living in East Anglia, said to have been killed fighting against the Romans in 61 CE.

Regions Caesar never knew
Thy posterity shall sway,
Where his eagles never flew,
None invincible as they.

William Cowper (1731–1800): Boadicea, an Ode


bona fides (Ch. 6; page 98) °

Bona fide is Latin for “in good faith”.
Bona fides, treated as a plural noun, has acquired the meaning “proofs of good faith” in English.

[The UK first edition adds a circumflex accent to the ‘a’: bonâ fides. This apparently means that the vowel would be long in duration when pronounced, but other interpretations are also offered online; I am not enough of a classical scholar to be certain. —NM]


if you wish to accumulate ... speculate (Ch. 6; page 99) °

Mark’s original note:

“The saying ‘you must speculate to accumulate’ seems to be a cliché of the financial world rather than a specific quotation.”

The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs cites this from Wodehouse, in “A Bit of Luck for Mabel” (1925). But he had also used it in Bill the Conqueror, ch. 4 (1924) [ch. 5 of magazine serial linked here]. Be sure to visit the annotations for Bill the Conqueror for earlier citations from Wodehouse and other sources as well, including indications that this may be a racetrack bookie’s come-on. Barry Popik’s Big Apple blog gives several usages, some in card games and dice gambling as well as one in horse racing.


Chapter 7 (Ch. 7; page 100)
A Crowded Night

Runs from pp. 100 to 143 in the present Penguin edition.


noblesse oblige (Ch. 7; page 100)

French: nobility has its obligations


joie de vivre (Ch. 7; page 100)

French: joy in living


prophet Jeremiah (Ch. 7; page 100)

The Book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament contains writings attributed to a preacher active in Jerusalem in the decades immediately preceding the Babylonian conquest of 586 BCE. As well as the usual calls on the people to mend their wicked ways and return to true religion, there are a series of more personal meditations on the likely fate of Jerusalem known as the Lamentations. Jeremiah has always been very popular in the Anglican tradition, and Jeremiah has become a generic name in English for a pessimist, while jeremiad has come to mean ‘a tale of doom and gloom’.

See Biblia Wodehousiana for Fr. Rob’s comment on this.


full of an inferior grade of human being *

Strong words for Wodehouse! His critical passages on human failings are so typically tinged with loving amusement and understanding that this stands out as an especially vivid description of Pat’s disillusionment.


froth-blowing (Ch. 7; page 101)

i.e., blowing the froth off the top of a pint of beer before (implicitly) drinking it.
From 1914 to the 1990s, pubs in England opened at half-past eleven in the morning. For Hugo to have had time for a pint, it must be at least 11.45 when he meets Pat. This means that Pat can’t have gone to see her old retainer much before 10.25, so the Wyverns clearly don’t believe in early breakfasts.


non compos (Ch. 7; page 101) °

Non compos mentis — legal Latin for ‘of unsound mind’

US and UK magazines and US book insert “Mad as a coot.” after this. Sir Gregory Parsloe accuses Lord Emsworth of being mad as a coot in Summer Lightning, ch. 7.2, although Gally misdefines “coot” there as a sort of duck. See Money in the Bank for more.


was nearly konked in a railway accident (Ch. 7; page 102)

The OED records konk as a variant of conk. Things get complicated, though, because there are two unrelated slang words here:
conk(1) (apparently from French conque, a conch shell) meaning nose, and hence to hit on the nose, or more loosely to punch. This has been around since the early 19th century.
conk(2) (obscure, perhaps onomatopoeic) to break down (of an engine); to collapse or die (of a person). This seems to have originated among pilots in the First World War.
In the context of a railway accident, conk(2) would make more sense than conk(1), unless we assume that someone was just squaring up to hit him on the nose, when the train gave a sudden lurch and the blow missed its target...
The passive construction Hugo uses would only fit conk(1) — it sounds as though he is mixing the two words up in the same phrase to get a new level of meaning.


Slapped people on the ack (Ch. 7; page 102)

A misprint in the recent Penguin edition: should read ‘back’


Once a tight-wad starts seeing the light . . . *

The OED calls “tightwad” originally US slang, with a 1900 citation from George Ade of “the Tightest Wad in the Township”; their first British citation is from Punch in 1934. UK magazine and 1959 Autograph Edition have “tight-wad” as above; US magazine and US book have “tightwad”; UK first edition has “tight wad” as two words.

For “seeing the light” see Biblia Wodehousiana.


in re the aforesaid John *

Hugo is using legal terminology, but it varies from edition to edition. UK magazine has an apparent typo, saying “in the aforesaid John”; US magazine reads “in the matter of the aforesaid John”; US book has “in the interests of the aforesaid John”; UK books read as above. One may speculate, based on the UK magazine’s omission, possibly of the unfamiliar word re, that Wodehouse may have written “in re” and that the two US editors thought it needed expansion.


mitten (Ch. 7)

See Carry On, Jeeves.


like a stuffed frog *

See Bill the Conqueror.


the second post *

Before everyone was expected or could afford to have telephone service, businesses and individuals relied more heavily on mail for quick communication. Many parts of London had six deliveries per day, and some had as many as twelve. Even in a relatively small town like Rudge, residents could expect multiple postal deliveries per day. In ch. 15.2, we learn that the first post would be about 9 a.m.


an action … would not lie *

Legal terminology again: a lawsuit would not be admissible or sustainable.


the heavy father *

Originally theatrical jargon for a dramatic role in which the father of the hero or heroine is stern, controlling, repressive, unsympathetic.


superman *

See Leave It to Psmith.


Through the open window the sounds and scents of summer poured in *

A clever bit of plot preparation by Wodehouse; if reading for the first time, don’t spoil it by referring to the note below.


The visitor gave his moustache a final twirl *

In US and UK magazines and US book, he gives it “a final twist.” Possibly the Jenkins editor thought that, since the visitor is Chimp Twist, this was too much of a coincidence of name and action, so altered the UK book text to “twirl.”


nut-headed swozzie *

The OED and a few dictionaries of slang fail to define “swozzie,” but fortunately George Ade comes to the rescue:

Also we called him a “swozzie,” which means a chump who has gone on and on, exploring the furthermost regions of idiocy, until even his most daring companions are left far behind.

George Ade: In Pastures New (1906)

Ade is also the source for “nut-headed swozzie” in Knocking the Neighbors (1915).


George W. Ancestor (Ch. 7; page 108) °

Mark Hodson’s original note: “ ‘George W.’ may be chosen to give an impression of antiquity by association with George Washington, or perhaps there is something inherently ridiculous in the middle initial ‘W’ — Billie Dore talks about ‘Henry W. Methuselah’ in a similar context in A Damsel in Distress.”

I [NM] see the middle initial as Wodehouse’s marker for American names; it’s not exclusive to Americans (e.g. Rosie M. Banks, Leila J. Pinckney) but the majority of the cases are American, and often the initial is present when a character has a different name in American versions of a story.
• Joseph W. Bentley in American versions of “Pots o’ Money” vs. Owen Bentley in British versions
• Theodore P. Brinkmeyer (or Brinkwater) in Laughing Gas
• Cyril J. Davenport in American magazine version of “Monkey Business” vs. Cyril Waddesley-Davenport in UK versions
• James B. Flaherty, employer of detective Miss Putnam in Hot Water
• George G. Frampton, Hollywood writer in Laughing Gas
• Patrick B. Franklyn in Hot Water
• James J. Gossett in “Archie and the Sausage Chappie”
• Thomas G. Gunn in Sam the Sudden or Thomas G. Molloy in this book
• Thomas L. Moon in Big Money
• Elmer M. Moon in “Strange Experiences of an Artist’s Model”
• Ira J. Nutcombe in Uneasy Money
• Rev. Edwin T. Philpotts in The Prince and Betty/Psmith, Journalist
• John B. Pynsent in Sam the Sudden
• Prof. Dwight Z. Rollitt in Collier’s version of “Ordeal by Golf” vs. Prof. Orlando Rollitt in UK versions
• Jacob Z. Schnellenhamer in the Hollywood Mulliner stories
• James R. Schoonmaker in Summer Lightning and Service With a Smile
• Jasper K. Skinner in “How to Break into Society”
• Alexis B. Spottsworth, late husband of Rosalinda in Ring for Jeeves
• Nathaniel J. Trenton in “Providence and the Butler”
• Wilbur J. Trout in A Pelican at Blandings
• Sadie Q. Van Pott in “The Happy Marriage”
• Joe J. Vanringham and Theodore P. Vanringham in Summer Moonshine
• Sigsbee H. Waddington in The Small Bachelor
• Emerson K. Washington in “The Happy Marriage”
• James B. Wheeler in “Strange Experiences of an Artist’s Model”
• Elmer B. Zagorin in Summer Moonshine

The most striking case of this is in “The Prodigal” in which Sherlock Holmes returns from New York with a strong “Amurrican” accent and calls himself Sherlock P. Holmes.


the year G.X. something (Ch. 7; page 108)

Probably intended as a mixed-up reference to Roman numerals. Someone like Dolly would probably only have come across these in cinema credits, and might well read ‘C’ (100) as ‘G’. ‘X’ is 10, of course.


hock shop *

US slang for “pawnshop.”


old antiques (Ch. 7; page 108)

Surely these would have been new antiques back in the year G.X. something?


this here now Carmody *

See Hot Water.


hep (Ch. 7; page 109) °

Well-informed, in the know (US slang, first recorded by the OED from 1899). Wodehouse had previously used it in “The Pitcher and the Plutocrat” (1910), Piccadilly Jim (1916/17), and The Adventures of Sally (1921/22).


bimbo (Ch. 7; page 109) °

The slang term bimbo is now usually applied to women, though it originally applied to men (a borrowing from Italian, a variant of bambino or bambo for a boy, used ironically for a man) and simply meant ‘a vacuous person.’


Singer Building (Ch. 7; page 110) °

The Singer Building in New York, built in 1908 by Ernest Flagg for the Singer sewing machine company, was briefly the city’s tallest building, at 612 feet. It was demolished in 1968.
http://www.nypap.org/preservation-history/singer-building/


knock-out drops *

A drug, most often chloral hydrate, used to make someone unconscious, originally in liquid form, dissolved in ethanol (hence the name), but later also in quick-dissolving tablets. Once again, George Ade recorded it in 1896 in Artie. Popularly called a “Mickey Finn” when used in an alcoholic drink. Both terms are used in Uncle Fred in the Springtime, ch. 18 (1939).


...how do we share? (Ch. 7; page 111)

This becomes another running joke: the Molloys and Chimp Twist have some version of this discussion in every book where they appear.


to hand I and Soapy... (Ch. 7; page 112)

When she first appeared in Sam the Sudden, Dolly did not have this trick of speech. Possibly she might have picked it up from Anita Loos’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which was published in 1926.
The joke, of course, is that while it’s quite common for people to say “me” when the ‘rules’ of grammar would suggest “I,” the opposite mistake is only made by those who are trying to talk posh, but have been so confused by their teachers that they come to believe that to use “me” at all is somehow coarse and unrefined.


...the nub end of the deal (Ch. 7; page 112) °

Mark’s original note: “This is obscure: nub normally means a knob or protuberance, or the gist or essence of some question. In 18th-century thieves’ cant it was used for the gallows, but none of these senses really seems to fit here.”

The OED gives an alternate definition of “a stump, stub, or remnant; something cut off short or imperfectly grown”; an online discussion refers to a cigarette butt as a nub end. So Dolly apparently means the least valuable part of the division, the “short end of the stick” in a phrase also used by Wodehouse:

It left young Bingo very much with the short end of the stick.

“Jeeves and the Old School Chum” (1930)

The occasion, in a word, was one of those, so common in this imperfect world, where someone has to get the short end of the stick, and only Beefy was available for the role.

Cocktail Time, ch. 22 (1958)


look in the glass and see for yourself *

I [NM] would have expected that Dolly, as an American, would have said “mirror” rather than “glass”; certainly in my Midwestern mid-century American youth we knew “looking-glass” from British authors like Lewis Carroll, but wouldn’t have used it in our own speech referring to a mirror. Unless the patterns of usage changed quickly in the USA, this may be a rare slip-up in Wodehouse’s normally impeccable ear for American dialect.


magpie *

See Ukridge.


stringing the beads *

See Hot Water.


slathers of money *

US slang for a large amount; Mark Twain referred to “slathers of money—most a dollar a day” in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Only one other usage has so far been found in Wodehouse:

He knew all about film stars. Scarcely had they settled down in the love nest before they were bringing actions for divorce on the ground of ingrowing incompatibility or whatever it might be and stinging the bridegroom for slathers of alimony.

Spring Fever, Book I, ch. 1 (1948)


Shylock (Ch. 7; page 114)

The obstinate creditor in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. Despite appearances, Dolly must have some grounding in English literature!


old English glees (Ch. 7; page 115)

A glee is a form of harmonic song-setting for (male) chorus, popular in England in Georgian and early Victorian times. It differs from the Victorian part-song in comprising a sequence of short sections in different styles, rather than setting the whole text at once.
Glees were mainly secular, and were written for amateur choirs known as “glee-clubs” (this name survives among American amateur musicians, but the form itself doesn’t seem to have existed outside England).
There are at least two examples in Gilbert & Sullivan: The song presented by Sir Joseph to the crew of the Pinafore in Act One of HMS Pinafore, beginning with the words “A British tar is a soaring soul, As free as a mountain bird”, is officially labelled a “glee” in the libretto, as is the quintet in Act Two of The Mikado featuring Ko-Ko, Pooh-Bah, Pitti-Sing, the Mikado and Katisha beginning with the words “See how the Fates their gifts allot, For A is happy — B is not, Yet B is worthy, I dare say, Of more prosperity than A!” [Ian Michaud/The Mixer]


refined coon songs (Ch. 7; page 115)

Coon is an American slang term for a black person, now considered highly insulting, but certainly not used here with any intention of giving offence.
Coon song was the usual term for a popular song written in a style imitating African-American music for performance by Minstrel groups (white men in black make-up), a form of entertainment very popular in the late 19th and early 20th century. Stephen Foster was the most famous writer of such songs. The Misses Pond-Pond are evidently going to perform sentimental drawing-room arrangements of such songs.


positively appear in person *

A very common phrase from theatrical advertisements, assuring potential audience members that they would be seeing the true star of a touring show and not some substitute or understudy. The advertisement at right is from 1898, in the Butler (PA) Citizen.


Sixty-one pounds, eight shillings and fivepence *

Roughly equivalent in purchasing power to £3,900 in modern (2019) values, using a factor of 63.3 from the Bank of England website. No wonder Mr. Carmody is complaining about expenses!


Truby and Gaunt (Ch. 7; page 115)

Both seem to be surnames common in the West Midlands: I haven’t found any link between them, or Wodehouse connection.


Gas Engine (Ch. 7; page 115)

Gas engines were early internal-combustion engines: they could run on a variety of fuels, but the most likely in this case is piped coal-gas, assuming that Rudge is large enough to have a gasworks. Gas engines were very often used for powering machinery on larger farms, or in big houses for driving a generator to supply electric lighting.


Country Gentlemen’s Association (Ch. 7; page 115)

Founded in 1893 and still exists. To judge by the website, its main purpose is to obtain discounts on luxury goods for its members and sell them financial services. But that could be said of most organisations nowadays. There is no mention of seeds.
http://www.thecga.co.uk/


above the stables (Ch. 7; page 115)

The stables of big houses usually had rooms above them intended as accommodation for a large staff of grooms, coachmen, etc. Motor cars require a much smaller staff, so these areas were often converted into flats or offices.


Mona Lisa (Ch. 7; page 116) °

Celebrated painting by Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1521), the portrait of the wife of a Florentine merchant. One of the most famous works in the Louvre.

For the reference to weary eyelids, see Summer Lightning.


Russian novel (Ch. 7; page 116)

Wodehouse may well be thinking of the works of Dostoevsky.


“I’m a broken man. I came here for sympathy.” *

The UK book text (as quoted above) omits a longer interchange, present in US and UK magazine versions and in US book:

 “Don’t mock, John. Don’t jeer. Don’t jibe and scoff. I’m a broken man.”
 “Only cracked, I should have said.”
 Hugo was not attuned to cousinly badinage. He frowned austerely.
 “Less back-chat,” he begged. “I came here for sympathy. And a drink. Have you got anything to drink?”


point verging very much on the moot (Ch. 7; page 116)

A moot (from an Anglo-Saxon word for a meeting or assembly) is a mock-trial in which law students discuss a hypothetical case. Hence, in normal British usage, a “moot point” is something debatable, open to argument. Hugo is evidently using it this way, not with its American meaning, of something that is only of academic interest, not relevant to the outcome of the present case.


got the bird *

Hugo uses the phrase in its original theatrical sense here; see Leave It to Psmith.


Gloom once more claimed Hugo for its own. *

See A Damsel in Distress.


“The thing came on me as a stunning blow. I thought we were going to be a riot.…” *

Once again, both magazine versions and the US book have a longer interchange here. In full:

 “Don’t say ‘Yes?’ like that, as if you had expected it,” said Hugo, hurt. “The thing came on me as a stunning blow. I was amazed. Astounded. Absolutely nonplussed.”
 “Could I have knocked you down with a feather?”
 “I thought we were going to be a riot.…”


Disruptive influences are at work. *

The UK book omits, but US and UK magazines and US book insert following the above:

Bolshevik propaganda, I shouldn’t wonder.


the argument was specious (Ch. 7; page 117) °

Given the construction of this sentence, a reader unfamiliar with the word could not deduce its meaning from the context; years ago I [NM] thought it meant “sound.” Mark’s original note gives the definition: “a specious argument is one that appears strong on the surface, but does not have sound logical foundations.”


Bolshevism (Ch. 7; page 117)

The (clandestine) Russian socialist party split into two factions at the second party congress (Brussels and London, 1903). The larger faction, led by Lenin, were known as the Bolsheviks, and favoured a small, tightly organised party working for revolution, while the smaller Menshevik faction under Plekhanov preferred a gradual move to socialism through bourgeois democracy. The Bolsheviks, of course, got their revolution in 1917, reforming themselves in 1918 into the Russian Communist Party.


chi-yiking *

Wodehouse used the term again in reference to a tough audience, this time in Bermondsey East:

And the audience, though not actually chi-yiking in the full technical sense of the term, had a grim look which I didn’t like at all.

“Jeeves and the Song of Songs” (1929)

Wodehouse seems to have invented the term or at least this spelling of it; to me [NM] it is reminiscent of the baying of fox-hunting hounds. In Uncle Fred in the Springtime (1939), ch. 5, it is spelled “chi-iking,” done by Covent Garden costermongers to the poet Ricky Gilpin.

In later works clearly influenced by Wodehouse it seems to be used for hoots of disapproval by audiences or rowdy noises made by schoolboys disrupting a class.


‘Rotten!’ *

US and UK magazines and US book have ‘Tripe!’ here instead.


I’ll admit that Ronnie was pretty bad. *

US and UK magazines and US book have “I’ll admit that Ronnie was perfectly rotten” here instead.


foozling *

See A Glossary of Golf Terminology on this site.


Bessemer (Ch. 7; page 118)

The name Bessemer also appears in “The Masked Troubadour” and “Tangled Hearts,” and was the name of Mrs. Spottsworth’s first husband (Ring for Jeeves). It is of course the name of Sir Henry Bessemer, FRS (1813–1898), the British engineer and inventor of a steel-making process, but there isn’t any obvious Wodehouse link.


that bit about digesting the venom of your spleen though it do split you *

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.


his material was blue round the edges *

Not in the risqué sense of a modern comedian’s “blue” material! See The Inimitable Jeeves.


Alpha Separator (Ch. 7; page 119)

The Swedish engineer Gustaf de Laval (1845–1913) invented the first continuous-flow centrifugal milk separators (for separating cream from milk) in 1878. They were marketed under the name Alpha-De Laval. De Laval also developed some of the first successful vacuum milking machines — the gas engine referred to a few pages back could easily have been the power source for an Alpha milking parlour. The company Alfa Laval AB still exists.
An Alpha Separator prospectus also features in Doctor Sally.

http://www.alfalaval.com/


cellarette (Ch. 7; page 120)

(More usually cellaret)
A 19th century term for a small cupboard or enclosed box, used by prudent householders to lock the whisky away from the servants.


he liked its bally cheek *

Thus in the UK book; all three other original versions have “he liked its dashed nerve” here. For “bally” see The Inimitable Jeeves. “Cheek” is nineteenth-century British slang for impudence, audacity, disrespectful actions or attitude. For “dashed” see A Damsel in Distress.


“he had tipped a cloak-room attendant *

Thus in the UK book; all three other original versions have “he had tipped a hat-check boy” here.


aspirin tablet (Ch. 7; page 120)

The Bayer company started selling Aspirin powder in 1899; it was not until 1915 that it became available in tablet form.


diatheses (Ch. 7; page 121) °

A diathesis is a physical condition (usually hereditary) that renders a person particularly susceptible to a certain illness. The word also occurs in The Luck of the Bodkins, in a similar piece of pseudo-science, and Lord Ickenham bamboozles the Duke of Dunstable with it in Uncle Fred in the Springtime:

 “I don’t know what you call it, but I suppose there’s some scientific term for it when a feller starts seeing things.”
 “You mean a sublunary medulla oblongata diathesis.”

This passage is strongly reminiscent of a similar one in Arthur Machen’s 1917 mystery novel The Terror; it is possible that both Machen and Wodehouse are quoting a source not yet found in an internet search, or Wodehouse may have lifted some phraseology from Machen.

 “Why does one man react violently to a certain drug, while it makes no impression on another man? Why is A able to drink a bottle of whisky and remain sober, while B is turned into something very like a lunatic after he has drunk three glasses?”
 “It is a question of idiosyncrasy,” said the doctor.
 “Is idiosyncrasy Greek for ‘I don’t know’?” asked Remnant.
 “Not at all,” said Lewis, smiling blandly. “I mean that in some diatheses whisky—as you have mentioned whisky—appears not to be pathogenic, or at all events not immediately pathogenic. In other cases, as you very justly observed, there seems to be a very marked cachexia associated with the exhibition of the spirit in question, even in comparatively small doses.”


pathogenic (Ch. 7; page 121) °

Harmful; causing a disease.


cachexia (Ch. 7; page 121) °

[Literally:] being in a bad state; illness; a generally weakened state of the body.
—Very typical of the terms physicians use to describe a patient’s condition when they have no idea what causes it.

“I love her, I love her, I love her, I love her,” said Ambrose Gussett, getting down to it without preamble. “When in her presence I note a marked cachexia. My temperature goes up, and a curious burning is accompanied by a well-marked yearning.…”

“Up from the Depths” (in Nothing Serious, 1950)


fried, boiled, or even sozzled *

For sozzled, see Very Good, Jeeves; follow the link to “whiffled” there to see other synonyms for intoxication including fried and boiled.


centrebit (Ch. 7; page 121) °

A tool for boring large, round holes. Immortalised as part of the burglar’s toolkit by Gilbert and Sullivan.

Samuel: (distributing implements to various members of the gang)
 Here’s your crowbar and your centrebit,
 Your life-preserver — you may want to hit!
 Your silent matches, your dark lantern seize,
 Take your file and your skeletonic keys.

Police:
  Tarantara!

Pirates:
 With cat-like tread
etc.

Gilbert & Sullivan: The Pirates of Penzance, Act II

Wodehouse gave the name of James Centrebit to a burglar in his early short-short story “A New Line” (1905).


Stand ho! *

Actually among the lines of the scene immediately preceding the Quarrel Scene; see Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.


within an ace of *

See Leave It to Psmith.


Remember March … and not for justice? *

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.


Oh, I could weep my spirit from my eyes! *

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.


regretting that he had ever ignored the advice of one of the most intelligent magpies in Worcestershire and allowed Mr. Molloy to persuade him *

One more example where the UK book is longer than the other three versions, which ignore the magpie here; this phrase appears as “regretting that he had ever allowed Mr. Molloy to persuade him” in magazines and US book.


There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats *

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.


Must I give way and room to your rash choler? *

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.


By the gods, you shall digest the venom of your spleen *

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.


Away, slight man! *

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.


When Cæsar lived … he durst not thus have moved me. *

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.


Now tie yourself into a reefer knot *

Hugo means what we now call a “reef” knot (also called a square knot). A few citations from the early 1900s refer to it as a reefer’s knot (from the term reefer for the midshipman on a sailing ship). It is unlikely that he was mixing it up with the slang name of a marijuana cigarette; the oldest OED citation for that is 1931. It seems that after that term became widely known (e.g. the cautionary film Reefer Madness of 1936) the name of the knot was shortened.


A sorrow’s crown of sorrow *

See Something Fresh.


Are you thinking beautiful thoughts? (Ch. 7; page 125)

Life is beautiful to whomsoever will think beautiful thoughts. There are no common people but they who think commonly and without imagination or beauty. Such are dull enough.

Stanton Davis Kirkham: The Ministry of Beauty


a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune *

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.


nil admirari (Ch. 7; page 127)

Latin: Be astonished at nothing. (In Tom Jones, Fielding translates it literally as “Stare at nothing”)
In Uncle Fred in the Springtime we learn that this is also the motto of the Empress of Blandings.
The Herbert Jenkins edition of Money for Nothing has nil admirare at this point: this makes sense grammatically, but is not what Horace wrote.

Nil admirari, prope res est una, Numici
Solaque, quae possit facere et servare beatum


(To be astonished at nothing, Numicius, is the only way to become and remain happy)

Horace: Epistles Bk. I, Ep. VI, V. 1


Webleigh Manor (Ch. 7; page 127)

There is no Webleigh or Webley in Britain — possible sources include Webheath, a few miles east of Droitwich, and Websley (a farm near Blandford Forum in Dorset).


Blondin (Ch. 7; page 130)

Stage-name of Jean-François Gravelet (1824–1897), celebrated French tightrope walker, who crossed Niagara Falls for the first time in 1859.


Mr. Carmody, like Othello, was perplexed in the extreme. *

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.


waved a kindly cigarette holder *

An example of a transferred epithet; see Right Ho, Jeeves.


the old lemon *

See The Inimitable Jeeves.


glue or something to stick it together with *

Possibly Hugo is thinking of collodion, a solution of nitrocellulose (celluloid plastic) in alcohol and ether or other solvents, used by boxers’ seconds to coat and seal cuts acquired in the ring, and still available today in drugstores as “liquid bandage”; I have used it myself on shaving cuts to form an instant artificial scab. Hugo was too early to know of modern surgical adhesives in the cyanoacrylate family, relatives of the “super glue” type of products well-known in today’s hardware stores.


Doctor Bain (Ch. 7; page 136)

Bain is a fairly common surname, not least among physicians. There doesn’t seem to be an obvious Wodehouse connection.


bring their grey hairs in sorrow to the grave *

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


such larks (Ch. 7; page 137)

We tend to associate “lark” in this sense with Joe Gargery in Great Expectations (“Such larks, Pip...”), but it seems to have been current at least as a slang expression since the beginning of the 19th century. The OED quotes Byron using it in a letter.


A broken reed. *

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


his own fungoid growth *

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


zareba (Ch. 7; page 140)

A thorn stockade protecting a village or cattle pen. Mainly used in Somalia and the Sudan (from Arabic).
Wodehouse also uses this word to describe the moustaches in “Buried Treasure”, “The Clicking of Cuthbert”, “Mr. Potter Takes a Rest Cure”, Thank You, Jeeves, and Ice in the Bedroom.


I am doing sobthig *

Chimp’s stopped-up diction is variously transcribed; the phrase above is from both magazine serials and UK book text. US book has “I ab dog sobthig” here. Were I to edit a composite transcription, I would choose “I ab doig sobthig” as the most consistent with other phrases in this scene.


taraxacum and hops (Ch. 7; page 141)

Taraxacum is the Latin name for the common dandelion, well-known as a diuretic, sometimes touted as an anti-inflammatory. Hops, familiar as the flavouring in beer, are reputed to have a mild sedative effect. Both are frequently found in herbal remedies.


Chapter 8 (Ch. 8; page 144)
Two on a Moat

Runs from pp. 144 to 158 in the present Penguin edition.

The chapter title is probably an allusion to the title of Thomas Hardy’s novel Two on a Tower (1882).


Rudge Hall (Ch. 8; page 145) °

Norman Murphy explains that all the identifiable features of Rudge Hall and its grounds in the text correspond to features of Hunstanton Hall in Norfolk, as Wodehouse himself asserted in one of the letters in Performing Flea, dated April 27, 1929, to Bill Townend. Wodehouse stayed with his friends the Le Stranges at Hunstanton a number of times in the late 20s, and later rented the Hall from them for a summer.

N.T.P. Murphy: In Search of Blandings (1986) Ch.VIII


Sturgis (Ch. 8; page 145) °

Other Sturgises in the canon include Miss Trimble’s boss at the International Detective Agency in Piccadilly Jim (possibly the same man as detective Denman Sturgis from “Rallying Round Old George”) and Mortimer Sturgis who appears in two golf stories, “Sundered Hearts” and “A Mixed Threesome.”
For some reason there seems to be a remarkable number of towns in the USA called Sturgis, the largest being the one in Michigan.


...held it for King Charles against the forces of the Commonwealth (Ch. 8; page 145)

A reference to the English Civil War of 1642–1648.
Strictly speaking, Carmody could not have been fighting against the Commonwealth, as it was only established in 1649, following the defeat and execution of Charles I. Perhaps Wodehouse is avoiding the use of the word “Parliament” in an attempt to deny the legitimacy of the forces opposing the Stuarts.


Birmingham ... Post ... Prince of Wales (Ch. 8; page 145)

Birmingham, as we have heard, is 18 miles (30km) from Rudge/Droitwich. It is the biggest city in the West Midlands.
The Post is the Birmingham morning paper. The Prince of Wales Theatre, a converted music hall that was Birmingham’s biggest theatre, was on Broad Street, not far from the present site of Symphony Hall.


Marlborough (Ch. 8; page 148) °

Marlborough is a public (i.e. private) school (see Thank You, Jeeves) in Wiltshire, founded in 1843 to provide education for the sons of Anglican clergymen.


wrapped them about as in a garment *

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


the punt (Ch. 8; page 151)

A punt is a small, flat-bottomed pleasure boat, used on shallow rivers and normally propelled by pushing against the bottom of the river with a pole, although John seems to be using a paddle here. They developed in the 19th century from the work-boats used by farmers and fishermen. Punting is a very popular summer recreation in the university cities of Oxford and Cambridge.
We know from Performing Flea that Wodehouse liked to write in a punt on the moat at Hunstanton Hall (cf. also “Mr. Potter Takes a Rest Cure”).


super-film *

See Leave It to Psmith.


any snow, so that he couldn’t drive his erring daughter out into it *

See Heavy Weather.


nor your ox nor your ass ... gates (Ch. 8; page 153)

Six days thou shalt labor, and do all thy work:
but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.

Bible: Deuteronomy 5:13–14


sport with me on the green *

See Ukridge.


Wenlock Edge (Ch. 8; page 157)

A ridge in Shropshire, much more spectacular than it looks on the map — a good place to go for a walk and picnic with a view. Close to Stableford, where Wodehouse’s parents lived for a while, and about 40km from Droitwich.

On Wenlock Edge the wood’s in trouble;
His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
The gale, it plies the saplings double,
And thick on Severn snow the leaves.

A. E. Housman (1859–1935): A Shropshire Lad XXXV


…the best of all rivers. *

The UK book text omits a sentence found in US and UK magazine and US book, a line of speech following this paragraph before Pat’s query “Will you?”:

“Pat!” said John at length, devoutly.


likes seeing young people happy *

US and UK magazine and US book have “likes to see young people happy” here.


Chapter 9 (Ch. 9; page 159)
Knock-out Drops

Runs from pp. 159 to 186 in the present Penguin edition.


…the best of all possible worlds *

See Something Fresh.


Worcester ... Shrub Hill (Ch. 9; page 160)

Worcester would have been the nearest place with a large railway station. There are two stations in Worcester: Shrub Hill, on the main line to Swindon and London Paddington, and the much smaller Foregate Street on the line to Hereford and South Wales. Both are still in use, although somewhat reduced from their size in the 1920s.
It is odd that Mr. Carmody should have sent the big car, when Bolt could as easily have taken the bag to Worcester by train — Droitwich Spa was only two stops away from Shrub Hill (nowadays only one stop).


morning-room (Ch. 9; page 160)

A sitting room or (as here) small dining room, arranged to get the sun in the mornings.


Fate waiting round almost every corner with its sandbag *

Fate is here depicted as a criminal with a stuffed eelskin (see Bill the Conqueror).


if you could spare the time to allow me . . . *

UK book reads as above; US and UK magazine and US book omit “to allow me” here.


Amyas Carmody (Ch. 9; page 160) °

Another echo of Westward Ho! — whose subtitle is “The Voyages and Adventures of Sir Amyas Leigh, Knight, of Burrough, in the County of Devon, in the Reign of Her Most Glorious Majesty Queen Elizabeth.”

The name Amyas seems to have gone out of favour completely, apart from the more backward corners of the USA, until Kingsley rediscovered it.
Phelps does not list anyone called Amyas in his genealogical table of the Wodehouse family.

Barry Phelps: P. G. Wodehouse: Man and Myth (1992) Appendix 3


Constable Mould (Ch. 9; page 160)

Apparently, there was a Thomas Mould who was Constable of Salem, Mass. in 1688, and someone called Christopher Mould is currently the Director of National Police Training in the UK. Perhaps the family re-emigrated?


bloodstained fingerprint (Ch. 9; page 164)

Sir Edward Henry introduced the systematic use of fingerprints for criminal identification in Bengal in the 1890s. He was recalled to England in 1901 to develop a similar system for Scotland Yard. There would surely have been ample time for PC Mould to hear about the possibilities of fingerprint evidence in the intervening 25 years.


Sherlock Holmes can extract a clue *

See above. Wodehouse had used a very similar passage about Watson and Holmes in Mike (serialized as “The Lost Lambs”, ch. 19; later divided in books as Mike and Psmith) and Something New/Something Fresh.


Scotland Yard Bungler *

In the Conan Doyle stories Sherlock applies the term “bungler” only to Monsieur Lecoq, a detective of the Sûreté in stories by Émile Gaboriau. Wodehouse seems to have transferred the adjective to detectives such as Inspector Lestrade in his own mind, as he uses the phrase in Mike and Something New (see links in the preceding note) and, without the extended passage as above, in Summer Lightning, ch. 12.1 (1929) and Joy in the Morning, ch. 8 (1946).


the God from the Machine *

A literal English translation of deus ex machina, itself a Latinization of the Greek θεὸς έκ μηχανη̂ς. The “machina” was the stage machinery in ancient Greek theatre which allowed actors representing gods to descend from the heavens to resolve a plot. Figuratively, someone or something that seems heaven-sent to resolve a difficult situation. Wodehouse used the Latinate phrase as the title of Chapter 13 of The White Feather (1906/07).


stottled ... crope (Ch. 9; page 168)

Sturtled is a known dialect form of startled, but the OED does not list stottled.
Crope was in common use until quite recently in many parts of England and the USA. It was only replaced by crept as the ‘standard’ form of the past tense of creep in the 16th century.
Wodehouse must have heard both of these from old servants on childhood visits to Worcestershire.


one of those electric torches *

What we would call a (battery-powered) flashlight today.


sticking plaster *

Former American and still current British term for what Americans would now call an adhesive bandage.


Hawkshaw (Ch. 9; page 173)

Hawkshaw was the name of the detective in the play The Ticket-of-Leave Man (1863) by Tom Taylor (1817–1880). It was also used in the cartoon strip Hawkshaw the Detective by Gus Mager.


I’ll bet a million dollars (Ch. 9; page 173)

Dolly seems to have forgotten that she is supposed to be an heiress: rich people never say things like this.


not going to spend the week-end with this guy *

The term “week-end” as a time to visit friends between two working weeks is not as old as one might think; OED cites Notes and Queries in 1879 defining it (as Saturday evening and Sunday, since most workers then had a five-and-a-half-day work week) and mentioning it as a special Staffordshire locution. The US book of Money for Nothing even spells it as two words: “week end.” As late as 1939, Lady Chervil in Jan Struther’s Mrs. Miniver “would have gone to the guillotine sooner than use the expression ‘week-end.’ ”


in cahoots (Ch. 9; page 175)

Southern and western US dialect for ‘in partnership’ or ‘in league.’ The OED suggests that it comes from French cahute, a poor hut or cabin.


don’t you go off wandering about the fields picking daisies *

See Bill the Conqueror.


pippin (Ch. 9; page 175) °

From its earlier meaning of “a sweet dessert apple” was generalized the sense of someone or something outstanding — George Ade used it for a young woman in 1897 in a newspaper column, adapted as one of his Fables in Slang (1899):

It was often remarked that Marie was a Pippin. Her Date Book had to be kept on the Double Entry System.


Admiral Sir Rigby-Rudd (Ch. 9; page 179) °

This is almost certainly a misprint. Referring to a knight or baronet as ‘Sir {surname}’ is a classic solecism, usually only committed by Americans and other foreigners, and most unlikely coming from someone whose former profession required him to have all the niceties of military etiquette at his fingertips. (On p.228 below, the admiral receives his correct style: ‘Sir James Rigby-Rudd.’)
Probably Wodehouse wrote ‘Admiral Rigby-Rudd’ and an officious proof-reader stuck in the erroneous ‘Sir’.

[I have preserved Mark Hodson’s note unchanged above, but my interpretation is a different one. All four original versions read as above here, so I would assume that Wodehouse put the mistake into Sergeant-Major Flannery’s speech to characterize him, just as his dialect pronunciation of “verlence” and the colloquialisms which he comes near to saying to Dolly add to our image of his social class. —NM]

Other Rigbys in the canon are Millicent (Lord Tilbury’s secretary in Service with a Smile) and George, a boy at Wrykyn in several school stories. There is also a prefect called Rudd at St. Austin’s.

Daniel H. Garrison: Who’s Who in Wodehouse (1991)


raw work *

That is, methods that Chimp considers crude or unrefined. Compare Wodehouse’s 1917 lyric for “Cleopatter” from Leave It to Jane, to a tune by Jerome Kern:

And ev’ry one observed with awe
That her work was swift, but never raw.


nursery ... bars to the window (Ch. 9; page 183) °

Because children in big houses were generally kept out of sight and hearing on an upper floor, it was considered necessary to take precautions to stop them falling out of the windows.

Compare also the bars on the dormitory-room window in chapter III of Mike [serialized as Jackson, Junior (1908), later in book form as Mike at Wrykyn].


I just slipped a couple of drops into his high-ball *

Dolly uses the predominantly American term for Chimp’s whisky and soda, served in a tall glass which contains the splashed liquid from the soda-syphon.


bunch of lilies *

Frequently used as decorations at funeral services.


Carroll’s runabout *

Dolly uses this originally American term for a small, light automobile; elsewhere it is named as a Widgeon Seven or as “the two-seater.”


Chapter 10 (Ch. 10; page 187)
Activity of Soapy Molloy

Runs from pp. 187 to 206 in the present Penguin edition.


telephone cupboard (Ch. 10; page 187) °

British houses often had the telephone tucked away in a special alcove or enclosure, ostensibly for privacy but actually to make telephoning as uncomfortable as possible and keep calls short. Even wealthy households often had only one telephone instrument at the time, and as it would usually be answered by a servant, the cupboard would be placed in a hall so that it would be accessible by a butler or parlourmaid without disturbing the household or guests until it was known who was wanted.


as his helpmeet had directed *

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


party of the second part *

Legal terminology, used in contracts and the like, to mean “the second person named above” or, informally, “the other person involved.”


groaned in spirit *

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


I’m telling the birds, telling the bees (Ch. 10; page 189) °

This seems to have been recorded by many different bands and singers in 1926–27, as well as in a Vitaphone short talking picture called “The Little Princess of Song” sung by Sylvia Froos (1927). Composed by Nacio Herb Brown, lyrics by Cliff Friend.


suddenly becoming manifest out of the infinite *

A phrase more commonly associated with the appearance of spirits in a séance.


wild woodnotes *

An allusion to John Milton’s “L’Allegro” (lines 131–34):

Then to the well-trod stage anon,
If Johnson’s learned sock be on,
Or sweetest Shakespeare, Fancy’s child,
Warble his native wood-notes wild.


pop up through traps *

See Bill the Conqueror.


covered with green baize (Ch. 10; page 189)

The traditional separation between the public part of the house and the servants’ quarters: the green baize (the same material used to cover billiard tables) acted as sound insulation.


bolt-hole *

See Bill the Conqueror.


this inconvenient old fossil *

See Hot Water.


Methuselah’s little brother (Ch. 10; page 190)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


looking like Noah taking ship’s stores aboard the Ark *

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


roberts (Ch. 10; page 192)

The OED doesn’t list this among the variants of rabbit. However, the English word rabbit has a common origin with Walloon robett and Flemish robbeke, so it’s not impossible that such a form might have been used in some English dialects.


done my silver (Ch. 10; page 192)

One of the butler’s traditional responsibilities is cleaning the silver.


a sort of human Topical Talk on rabbits *

At this time, the British Broadcasting Corporation presented a Topical Talk on some informative subject after the second evening radio news broadcast. For all I know, they may still do.


double-crossing Judas *

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


odd, gurgling noise like a leaking cistern *

A leaking cistern is a recurring plot point in Hot Water (1932). One wonders if the Wodehouses had lived in a home with such a noisy water tank in its attic.


he thought Nature a washout *

See The Inimitable Jeeves.


“I listened outside the study window while you and your friends were having your little discussion.” *

Wodehouse prepared his readers for learning this; see a note in chapter 7 above.


out in the great open spaces *

See Leave It to Psmith.


a maroon that exploded prematurely *

A firecracker which makes a loud bang like a cannon going off, sometimes with a flash of light, used as a signal or warning, or in patriotic celebrations to recall the sound of cannon fire.


General Washington (Ch. 10; page 199)

George Washington (1732–1799). Virginian landowner, commanded the Virginia militia in British actions against the French in the 1750s. Later joined the rebel forces, and became commander-in-chief of their army in the uprising of 1776–1781, and first president (1789–97) of the newly-formed United States.


some hundred and fifty years previously the United States of America had severed relations *

UK magazine and US book have “ago” instead of “previously” as above in UK book; the US magazine omits the sentence.


about half a minute of Sturgis seemed a good medium dose for an adult *

“Two minutes of my uncle Francis,” he said, “is considered by the best judges a good medium dose for an adult.

Aubrey Trefusis, in “Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court” (1929)

“But why, Jeeves? Dash it all, she’s just had nearly two months of me.”
“Yes, sir.”
“And many people consider the medium dose for an adult two days.”

Right Ho, Jeeves, ch. 3 (1934)

the thought that I had seen the last of Totleigh Towers, of Sir Watkyn Bassett, of his daughter Madeline and above all of the unspeakable Spode, or Lord Sidcup as he now calls himself, was like the medium dose for adults of one of those patent medicines which tone the system and impart a gentle glow.

Much Obliged, Jeeves (1971)


motion-picture director … registering *

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


Soapy’s mind was in a whirl *

The US book begins section iii of the chapter before this sentence. The UK first edition does not mark section iii, but continues with section iv at the same place as the US book. (The 1959 UK Autograph Edition puts a iii where the original editions have iv, further confusing the issue.)


that saddest of mental exercises, the brooding on what might have been *

See Something Fresh.


if ’twere done, ... (Ch. 10; page ?)

Macb. If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well
It were done quickly; if the assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
With his surcease success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We’d jump the life to come.

Shakespeare: Macbeth I,vii,1–7
See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse for many other quotations of this passage.


Upton Snodsbury (Ch. 10; page 203)

Upton Snodsbury, later to provide the source for the name of Aunt Dahlia’s local town, Market Snodsbury, is a real Worcestershire village, about five miles (8km) south-east of Droitwich.


push-bike (Ch. 10; page 204) °

Mildly derogatory term for a bicycle, used by those corrupted by prolonged association with the motor-car.
Despite being athletically inclined, and not a car driver himself, Wodehouse seems to have disliked bicycles. This scene and Bertie’s epic night-time expedition in Right Ho, Jeeves (1934) mark their only significant appearances in the canon.

[The above is Mark Hodson’s original note; he failed to remember a few other notable mentions, such as:

There are many other incidental references to postmen, policemen, telegraph boys, and to students and choirboys (both Bertie and Beach in their youth) riding bicycles. —NM]


his knickerbocker days *

Loose trousers extending just below the knee, where they are buckled or clasped around the leg just above the calf, worn along with knee-length stockings. At this time worn mostly by boys, until graduating to long trousers at the age of thirteen or so, hence this reference to Soapy’s youth. Also worn by some sportsmen, especially golfers, and frequently in the “plus four” variety with four inches of extra fabric length, giving a bagginess around the knee to give flexibility when making golf swings.


its pedals were naked and unashamed *

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


sans-culotte (Ch. 10; page 205)

In the French Revolution, the extreme radicals of the Jacobins, who came from the Parisian working-classes, were known as sans-culottes (literally: ‘without breeches’) because lower-class men wore long trousers, rather than the knee breeches and stockings of the upper classes and bourgeoisie.
Thus a ‘sans-culotte of a bicycle’ is likely to be both unrefined and ruthless.


Chapter 11 (Ch. 11; page 207)
John in Captivity

Runs from pp. 207 to 216 in the present Penguin edition.


Boat-Race night (Ch. 11; page 207)

See p. 27 above.


freshman year (Ch. 11; page 207)

Although the word freshman (more usually shortened to ‘fresher’) is sometimes used in Oxford and Cambridge for a student newly arrived at the university, the expression freshman year, used to denote the first year of a university course, comes from the American college system, and does not exist in Britain.
Oxford and Cambridge tended until recently to work in terms, rather than years, and courses could not usually be subdivided in the neat way that they are in the USA.


University football match ... Twickenham (Ch. 11; page 207)

As usual, when Wodehouse uses ‘football’ without further qualification, he means rugby football. The University (’Varsity) match is played between Oxford and Cambridge universities every December. It was first played in 1872, and has been held at Twickenham rugby stadium, the West London headquarters of the Rugby Football Union, since 1921. John has obviously graduated quite recently — if he had gained his Blue in 1921 or 1922, it would hardly have been described as “one of the most spectacular games ever seen at Twickenham.”


Rip van Winkle (Ch. 11; page 208)

Eponymous hero of a story (published 1817) by Washington Irving (1783–1859). Van Winkle is a lazy, hen-pecked husband who disappears from his village on the Hudson River while on a hunting trip. He returns, not long after the death of his annoying wife, claiming that he had dropped off to sleep in the Catskill mountains and woke up to find that twenty years had passed. Oddly enough, people believe him.


voice like a lorry full of steel girders passing over cobblestones *

This deserves to be remembered in the same class with Honoria Glossop’s “laugh like a squadron of cavalry charging over a tin bridge” (“The Rummy Affair of Old Biffy”).


the eyes prawn-like *

The Hon. Freddie’s jaw dropped. His prominent eyes became more prawn-like.

Leave It to Psmith (1923)

A strange, new dignity seemed to have descended upon the Rev. Trevor Entwhistle. He was breathing a little quickly through his nose, and his eyes had assumed a somewhat prawn-like aspect.

“The Bishop’s Move” (1927)

…looking in the mirror, he met Lord Brangbolton’s eyes. Always a little prominent, they were now almost prawn-like in their convexity.

“The Smile That Wins” (1931)

Sir Buckstone’s eyes, already bulging, became almost prawnlike.

Summer Moonshine, ch. 22 (1938)

His eyes came out of his head like a prawn’s, and once more his moustache foamed up against his breakwater of a nose.

The Duke of Dunstable, in Uncle Fred in the Springtime, ch. 13 (1939)


non-commissioned officer (Ch. 11; page 213)

Strictly speaking, a sergeant-major is a Warrant Officer, not an NCO.


the voice with the smile wins *

See Ukridge.


son of a what-not … Gawd’s strewth … dam’ sight better *

Wodehouse effectively clues us in to the military strong language that comes naturally to Egbert Flannery by having him repeat Dolly’s speech to him interpolated with mild oaths that she never used. “God’s truth” is rendered here as above; the Stone Age Ancestor in chapter 15 uses the shorter form “ ’Strewth!”. The UK first edition uses “dam”; the US book and both magazines with the apostrophe as above; the Autograph Edition was able to spell out “damn” by 1959.


Widgeon Seven (Ch. 11; page 214)

The (fictitious) Widgeon Seven car also appears in a number of other places in the canon (e.g. Summer Moonshine), and there is a Pommery Seven in “Uncle Fred Flits By”. The Austin Seven was the first really successful small car in Britain, made in many different versions from 1922 until the war.
A widgeon is a kind of wild, freshwater duck. In Europe the term refers to the species Mareca penelope, and in North America to the similar M. americana. The OED records the use of widgeon for fool or simpleton (cf. ‘goose’) as obsolete, chiefly 17th and 18th century, but this is surely what Wodehouse was trying to suggest with the name.
(The Grumman Widgeon aircraft first appeared in 1940.)


to lower himself to the beasts of the field *

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


lantern slides showing what alcohol does to the liver *

By “lantern” is meant what we now call a slide projector (originally “magic lantern”), although at this period more likely to use glass slides of a larger size than the ones produced by small roll-film cameras in later years of the century. Mr. Flannery’s experience of temperance lecturers using photographic evidence is unusual; others mentioned in Wodehouse seem generally to make their points with earthworms in a glass of liquor.


press the bell. Nobody’ll take any notice (Ch. 11; page 215)

Could the sergeant-major have been thinking of a recently-published book about a Bear of Very Little Brain?

Owl lived at The Chestnuts, an old-world residence of great charm, which was grander than anybody else’s, or seemed so to Bear, because it had both a knocker and a bell-pull. Underneath the knocker there was a notice which said:
  PLES RING IF AN RNSER IS REQIRD.
Underneath the bell-pull there was a notice which said:
  PLEZ CNOKE IF AN RNSR IS NOT REQID.

A. A. Milne: Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) Ch. IV


the deeper did the iron enter into his soul *

See Sam the Sudden.


Chapter 12 (Ch. 12; page 217)
Unpleasant Scene Between Two Old Friends

Runs from pp. 217 to 227 in the present Penguin edition.


orderly-room (Ch. 12; page 217)

The administrative office of a regiment or company.


train of gunpowder (Ch. 12; page 217)

See p. 2 above.


Lowick station (Ch. 12; page 219)

In real life, Ham Hill is only about 1.5 km from Powick village, but Powick was not on the railway and has never had a station. The nearest would have been Bransford Road or Norton Junction (both since closed) about 5km away.
Notice how Wodehouse doesn’t bother to stick to the geography if it doesn’t serve the plot: Rudge/Droitwich has lost a station and Lowick/Powick has gained one.
It isn’t altogether clear why Dolly bothers to send the car back: perhaps she would have had to answer too many questions had she parked it at the station and bought a single ticket to London.


garridge (Ch. 12; page 220)

Presumably educated British people were still using the French pronunciation ‘gar-aazhe’ in the 1920s, as Americans do to this day; nowadays the usual British pronunciation is the Sergeant-Major’s, rhyming with carriage. The word entered English from French in 1902, so to Wodehouse it would still have been a recent import.


a shuffling noise without *

A slanting allusion to the theatrical term “confused noise without” for an offstage commotion; see Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.


backed and filled *

See Something Fresh.


“It’s in the calf of the leg that it gets me principally.” *

“It does catch you in the leg muscles, doesn’t it?” said Jerry sympathetically.
“Yes, sir.”
“In the calves, principally.”
“Yes, sir.”

Jerry Vail and Beach in ch. 10.3 of Pigs Have Wings


giving you the razz *

See Sam the Sudden.


closet ... depot (Ch. 12; page 223)

Wodehouse has remembered that Soapy is supposed to talk American: a closet is a built-in cupboard, and a depot is a railway station.


hubbard squash (Ch. 12; page 226)

A large American variety of squash or pumpkin, apparently first cultivated by a Mrs. Hubbard in the mid-nineteenth century. (Also appears in a similar context in Leave It to Psmith; the specific point at which it appears is different in the US magazine version and the text as revised for the book editions.)


Chapter 13 (Ch. 13; page 228)
Mr. Molloy Speaks on the Telephone

Runs from pp. 228 to 250 in the present Penguin edition.


lovely in sleep (Ch. 13; page 228)

Probably just a cliché, although Wodehouse makes it delightfully incongruous by applying it to Flannery. The earliest example I came across is from Morris’s verse-novel The Pilgrims of Hope — not very likely reading-matter for Wodehouse.

Till I woke, in good sooth, and she lay there beside me,
Fresh, lovely in sleep; but awhile yet I lay,
For the fear of the dream-tide yet seemed to abide me
In the cold and sad time ere the dawn of the day.

William Morris: The Pilgrims of Hope, ch. 2


began his simple toilet *

That is, the act of dressing and grooming himself. See Right Ho, Jeeves.


symposia (Ch. 13; page 229)

Wodehouse is playing with the ancient meaning of the word: for the Greeks, a symposium (literally: drinking together) was a drinking party with intelligent conversation, as described in one of Plato’s dialogues; nowadays it has come to mean a formal academic discussion of a particular topic.


Housekeeper’s Room (Ch. 13; page 230) °

The room in which the more senior members of the staff of a big house take their meals: see Something Fresh/Something New for more on below-stairs etiquette.


like twin stars *

Exactly the word. Twin stars shining in a clear sky on a summer night.

“Paving the Way for Mabel” (1920)

Myrtle Banks was staring at him with eyes that reminded him partly of twin stars and partly of a snail’s.

“The Story of William” (1927)

She was looking more beautiful than ever, her eyes, in particular, shining like twin stars.

Thank You, Jeeves, ch. 6 (1934)

“You’ve got the most terrific eyes.”
“Do you think so?”
“Everybody thinks so. It’s all over London. Like twin stars.”

The Luck of the Bodkins, ch. 12 (1935)

Her eyes, he says, were shining like twin stars and there was a sort of Soul’s Awakening expression on her face…

“Uncle Fred Flits By” (1935)

…but her eyes were shining like…well, more like twin stars than anything I can think of.

Laughing Gas, ch. 29 (1936)

“Oh, Bingo,” cried Mrs. Bingo, her eyes like twin stars, and damp ones at that, “there’s nobody like you in the world.”

“All’s Well With Bingo” (1937)

It would have been plain even to the most casual observer that Nobby was in the pink. Her eyes were shining like twin stars, as the expression is.…

Joy in the Morning, ch. 27 (1946)

Her eyes, normally like twin stars, were dull and a bit reddish about the edges, and I should have described her face as drawn.

The Mating Season, ch. 10 (1949)

Horace Bewstridge was a little long-winded about it all, going rather deeply into his emotions and speaking at some length about her eyes, which he compared to twin stars.

“Excelsior” in Nothing Serious (1950)

“You probably consider, Joe, that those eyes of hers are more like twin stars than anything?”

The Old Reliable, ch. 9 (1951)

He stared at her incredulously, and noted that her eyes were shining like, as he put it to himself in a happy flash of inspiration, twin stars.

Barmy in Wonderland/Angel Cake, ch. 17 (1952)

It was at this moment, as Terry sat with her heart racing and her eyes shining, so it seemed to Old Nick, like twin stars, that Mrs. Pegler, Freddie and Mavis came up.

French Leave, ch. 5 (1956)

But while equipped with eyes like twin stars, hair ruddier than the cherry, oomph, espièglerie and all the fixings, B. Wickham had also the disposition and general outlook on life of a ticking bomb.

Jeeves in the Offing/How Right You Are, Jeeves, ch. 1 (1960)

The last-named seemed to him to be shining like twin stars, as he believed the expression was, and he was not mistaken in thinking so.

Ice in the Bedroom, ch. 13 (1961)

Her eyes shone more like twin stars than anything, and she uttered animal cries and danced a few dance steps.

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 21 (1963)

“But every time you look at me with those eyes of yours, I feel as if I’d caught one squarely in the solar plexus. They’re like twin stars.”

Frozen Assets, ch. 10.2 (1964)

Gladys bounded in, her manner animated and eyes shining, it seemed to him from a quick glance, like twin stars.

“A Good Cigar Is a Smoke” (1967)

Those lustrous eyes of hers, though admittedly like twin stars, could flash in a very disconcerting manner when she was displeased.

The Girl in Blue, ch. 2 (1970)

Her eyes were glowing more like twin stars than anything.

Much Obliged, Jeeves, ch. 16 (1971)


bobbed auburn head (Ch. 13; page 231)

The more radical Modern Girl started cutting her hair soon after the first world war: by the late twenties it was no longer very daring to have bobbed hair, but a woman of Mrs. Evans’s generation might still look askance at it.


Old Monkey Brand (Ch. 13; page 231) °

Brooke’s Soap, for household cleaning but not for laundering, was extensively advertised in the 1890s as “Monkey Brand” with pictures showing a chimpanzee dressed in human clothes. No one seems to have complained that chimpanzees are not monkeys but apes.


one of those vamps in the pictures *

See Summer Lightning.


Hearts and Satins (Ch. 13; page 232)

There seems to have been quite a textile flavour to cinema in the early years of the 20th century, with titles such as Silks and Satins (1916), Satin and Gingham (1912), Satin and Calico (1917) The Satin Girl (1923), Smooth as Satin (1925) and The Satin Woman (1927). Hearts and Satins don’t seem to appear in combination, though.


Out in the garden, hidden… *

The US book begins section ii before this sentence; the UK first edition has no division at this point.


shrubbery ... pipe (Ch. 13; page 232)

Perhaps Wodehouse had smoked secretly in the shrubbery of his grandmother’s house as a young man.


rather to be pitied than censured *

See Leave It to Psmith.


a great gulf fixed *

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


toastmaster ... boiler-shop (Ch. 13; page 234)

Toastmasters, who act as masters of ceremonies at formal dinners, need extremely powerful voices to cut through the noise of conversation with their “My lords, ladies and gentlemen,...”
In the days when steel structures were rivetted rather than welded, a boiler-shop, with dozens of steam riveters working at once, was probably the noisiest of all workplaces.


“When I heard that gashly sound right in my ear I thought it was him got out.” *

Thus in US and UK magazines as well as UK book; only the US book reads “ghastly” here, an apparent “correction” by the Doubleday editor.


In describing John as eating his breakfast quite hearty… *

US and UK first editions agree on starting section iii of chapter 13 before this sentence. But since UK first omitted the ii mark above, the Autograph Edition of 1959 and later versions reproducing it marked this point as the start of section ii.


achieved the mot juste *

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


Placing himself outside an egg *

See The Inimitable Jeeves.


The moment was obviously one for cunning and craftiness *

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


In the pause which followed this brisk move… *

US and UK first editions mark this as the start of section iv of chapter 13; the Autograph Edition of 1959 and later versions based on it call this the start of section iii.


dance the Charleston *

The song “The Charleston” was written for the 1923 Broadway show Runnin’ Wild by James P. Johnson, and both the song and the dance adapted to it were great hits with the public in the Twenties; the Wikipedia article claims that its peak popularity with the dancing public was in mid-1926 to 1927. So it was a contemporary reference at the time of writing this novel.


He, too, had now become aware of the silver lining. *

That is, Chimp realizes that John’s eagerness to expose them will be lessened when he learns that his uncle is also a swindler and double-crosser.


So overwhelming was the joy of these tidings *

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


an eye that had much of the quality of the Ancient Mariner’s *

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


On that Last Awful Day, Mr. Twist, when you and I and all of us come up before the Judgment Seat *

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


Chapter 14 (Ch. 14; page 251)
News for John

Runs from pp. 251 to 260 in the present Penguin edition.


The sun, whose rays... (Ch. 14; page 251)

Surely a reference to Yum-Yum’s famous aria from Act II of The Mikado.

The sun, whose rays
Are all ablaze
 With ever-living glory,
Does not deny
His majesty—
 He scorns to tell a story!
He don’t exclaim,
“I blush for shame,
 So kindly be indulgent.”
But, fierce and bold,
In fiery gold,
 He glories all effulgent!

I mean to rule the earth,
 As he the sky—
We really know our worth,
 The sun and I!

Gilbert & Sullivan: The Mikado, or The Town of Titipu No. 13


anywhere on the premises at as late an hour as midnight. *

US and UK magazines and US book have a paragraph following this one which was omitted from the UK first edition:

 In these circumstances, it is scarcely to be wondered at that Mr. Carmody’s repose was not tranquil. To one who, like himself, had had the advantages of hearing the views of the Molloy family on the virtues of knock-out drops there could be no doubt as to what had happened. John, suspecting nothing, must have allowed himself to be lured into the trap, and by this time the heirlooms of Rudge Hall were probably in London.


and his eyes were red about the rims *

Thus in UK book; the other three earlier versions omit “were” here, so the Jenkins editor apparently thought the grammar needed touching up.


drew his cheque book from its drawer *

US and UK magazines and US book have two additional sentences continuing this paragraph, omitted from UK book:

He supposed in a vague sort of way that he ought to be feeling grateful to the young man for not heaping him with reproaches and recrimination, but the agony of what he was about to do prevented any such emotion. All he could feel was that dull, aching sensation which comes to most of us when we sit down to write cheques for the benefit of others.


“I shan’t know what to say.”
“I’ll tell you. And after that…” *

US and UK magazines and US book have an interpolation for Mr. Carmody, omitted from UK book:

“I shan’t know what to say.”
“I’ll tell you.”
“Very well.”
“And after that…”


life was stern and life was earnest (Ch. 14; page 257)

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our heats, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

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.

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
a forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
with a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882): A Psalm of life


hardened, like one who has been through the furnace *

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


Chapter 15 (Ch. 15; page 261)
Plain Speech from an Ancestor

Runs from pp. 261 to 274 in the present Penguin edition.


what a young man should know *

Possibly reminiscent of the titles of a number of manuals on sex and marriage written in late-Victorian and Edwardian times. See Sex Guides (2017) by Patty Campbell for a book preview giving an overview of the topic.


inferiority complex *

Google Books can find no reference to this phrase before 1922, so this was part of the explosion of interest in psychology and psychiatry during the Twenties.


claret cup *

A punch based on red wine (Bordeaux-style varieties such as cabernet and merlot) and soda water, iced and sweetened, strengthened with a little brandy, and flavored with liqueurs such as triple sec (orange); fruit, strips of cucumber, and mint or other herbs can be added. Sounds gashly.


a turn round the Serpentine *

A walk around an artificial ornamental lake in London’s Hyde Park, created in 1730 on the orders of Queen Caroline. Depending on the paths chosen, this walk would be slightly over two miles.


Reason returning to her throne *

See Hot Water.


flash of clear vision *

See A Damsel in Distress.


lobster mayonnaise *

See Right Ho, Jeeves for a description of the classic preparation of salmon mayonnaise.


Bexhill (Ch. 15; page 271) °

Bexhill-on-Sea is a coastal resort in East Sussex, not far from Hastings. It was served by both the Brighton line (LBSC) and the South-Eastern Railway: Mr. and Mrs. Bessemer could have travelled from London Bridge or Charing Cross if they wished.

Wodehouse’s parents had retired to Bexhill-on-Sea by 1926, and in a letter to William Townend (June 26, 1926, in A Life in Letters, ed. Sophie Ratcliffe) Plum described it as “the spot which God forgot.”


bee-stings were good for rheumatism (Ch. 15; page 274)

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that bee-stings can relieve various other kinds of pain. Bee-keepers believe this firmly, and will never admit to rheumatism. However, it never seems to have been proved to the satisfaction of the medical establishment.