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.

Thank You, Jeeves was originally annotated by Mark Hodson (aka The Efficient Baxter). The notes have been reformatted somewhat and extended by other members of the group, notably Neil Midkiff [NM in notes below] and Ian Michaud [IM], but credit goes to Mark for his original efforts, even while we bear the blame for errors of fact or interpretation.

Thank You, Jeeves was serialized in the Strand magazine, August 1933 through February 1934, and in Cosmopolitan magazine, January through June 1934. In book form, it was published by Herbert Jenkins in the UK on 16 April 1934 (left) and as Thank You, Jeeves! by Little, Brown in the US on 23 April 1934 (right). For once, both used the same title other than the exclamation point (which had appeared in both magazine serials).

See Neil Midkiff’s novel page for an overview on the differing versions of the text. The Cosmopolitan serial generally follows US spellings; the other three versions are similar to each other in spelling, with the UK style in honour and neighbour but the US style in realize and recognize.

Chapter titles are found only in the UK book editions.

Page references in these notes are based on the 1999 Penguin edition; page numbers with ? are approximate locations for newly inserted notes.




Written for the 1975 Barrie & Jenkins edition

As Wodehouse says, Thank You, Jeeves was the first full-length novel featuring Jeeves and Bertie. They had previously appeared in the story collections My Man Jeeves (1919), The Inimitable Jeeves (1923), Carry On, Jeeves! (1925). and Very Good, Jeeves! (1930).

Miss Spelvin

The poet Rodney Spelvin was reformed by golf in three stories in 1924–5, but suffered a relapse in 1949. [Also, in Summer Moonshine, the first husband of the Princess von und zu Dwornitzchek was a Mr. Spelvin, Elmer Chinnery’s partner in the glue business. In theatrical circles, “George Spelvin” is a common pseudonym for an actor who doesn’t want to be credited in the program under his own name. —NM] [There was also an off-stage Doctor Spelvin in “The Luck of the Stiffhams.” —IM]

Lord Jasper Murgatroyd

Murgatroyd was a name Wodehouse often used for characters mentioned in passing – it is one of those names that seems to fit equally well to aristocrats (the style “Lord Jasper Murgatroyd” implies that he is the younger son of a duke) or to butlers and stablemen. The only important character called Murgatroyd is the red-haired Mabel.

[But see “The Kind-Hearted Editor” for another reference to the character name. Wodehouse’s Jaspers are often baronets and usually heavies, whether financiers like Sir Jasper Addleton (“The Smile that Wins”) and Sir Jasper Todd (“Big Business”), wicked guardians like Sir Jasper ffinch-ffarrowmere (“A Slice of Life”), or just evildoers like Sir Jasper Murgleshaw (“The Baronet’s Redemption”). —NM]

Murgatroyd is originally a West Yorkshire name. The place formerly known as Moorgateroyd lies near Luddendenfoot in Calderdale (a “royd” was a clearing in a wood).

Baronets called Murgatroyd appear most famously in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Ruddigore, or the Witch’s Curse (1887). Sir Jasper (3rd Baronet) is listed as one of the ghosts in the famous picture gallery scene, although he doesn’t have an individual speaking part.

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

Wikipedia article on Murgatroyd family

And so the long day wore on.

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

machines … recorded on wax

Rosie M. Banks writes her stories this way – see “Clustering Round Young Bingo” (1925).

like the Ancient Mariner when he got rid of the albatross

See Cocktail Time.

hemispheres … corpus collosum [sic]

In human beings, the left hemisphere of the brain is dominant in analytical tasks and language, and controls the right side of the body; the right hemisphere is specialised in things like spatial tasks and emotion, and controls the left side of the body. Presumably the implication is that the construction of the plot is a right-hemisphere task, but writing the text belongs to the left hemisphere.

As Wodehouse says, the corpus callosum (the correct spelling) handles most communication between the two. If it is damaged, then the two hemispheres of the brain act somewhat independently of each other. This was established in some famous experiments on cats performed by Nobel laureate Roger Sperry in the early 1960s; Wodehouse presumably wrote this preface around the time that Sperry’s work was published. [The preface first appeared in the 1975 Barrie & Jenkins edition. —NM]

Oh, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown

This is Ophelia, talking about the supposedly-mad Hamlet, who has just told her to go into a nunnery. It is perhaps a little harder for us to think of Wodehouse as “The glass of fashion and the mould of form.”

O! what a noble mind is here o’erthrown:
The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s, eye, tongue, sword;  
The expectancy and rose of the fair state,  
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,  
The observ’d of all observers, quite, quite down!
And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,  
That suck’d the honey of his music vows,  
Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,  
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh;  
That unmatch’d form and feature of blown youth  
Blasted with ecstasy: O! woe is me,  
To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!

William Shakespeare (1564–1616): Hamlet III:i, 132–143
See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse for more references to this passage.

proposer and seconder

In exclusive clubs, a motion to admit a new club member must be proposed and seconded by two existing members. [NM]

Chapter 1
Jeeves Gives Notice

Runs from pp. 1 to 10 in the 1999 Penguin edition

banjolele (Ch.1; page 1)

The banjolele or banjo-ukulele is a hybrid instrument that first appeared in 1918, the first type being patented by Alvin D. Keech (Keech used the trade-name “Banjulele,” so later imitators had to come up with new variants of the name). Banjoleles are tuned and strung like ukuleles, with four gut strings, but they have a hoop with vellum stretched over it, like a banjo, thus allowing them to produce a louder sound than a standard ukulele. (There’s a lot of American history in this instrument – the banjo was developed from their traditional instruments by African slaves and the ukulele by Hawaian islanders.)

The instrument was made famous in particular by George Formby (1904–1961), probably the most successful British entertainer of the thirties and forties. It is difficult to imagine the fastidious Bertie singing Formby’s suggestive lyrics, though...

Ignatius Mulliner, “The Man Who Gave Up Smoking,” plays “Old Man River” on a standard ukulele.

The third of the links below takes you to a picture of Mike Skupin playing the banjolele at a Wodehouse convention in the USA.

J. Washburn Stoker (Ch.1; page 1)

Phelps notes that Wodehouse’s lawyer at the time of his tax actions of 1948–51 was Watson Washburn. It’s not clear if he was already acting for Wodehouse in 1934. [Yes, it seems that he was. McCrum: Wodehouse: A Life, p.219; 1933 correspondence from agent Reynolds to Wodehouse mentioning Washburn, in McIlvaine N46.25, N46.31. —NM]

Stoker might have been named for the 19th century American wire manufacturer and philanthrophist, Ichabod Washburn, founder of Washburn University.

Barry Phelps: P. G. Wodehouse: Man and Myth (1992) 26, 190–191

“They must be over here.” (Ch.1; page 1)

Thus in both magazine serials and UK book; US book has “They must be in London.” [NM]

Old Man River (Ch.1; page 1)

Song from the musical Show Boat (1927, Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II), written for and made famous by the African-American lawyer, political activist, actor and singer, Paul Robeson (1898–1976). [In the revised version of “Big Business” from A Few Quick Ones (1959), a Small Bass at the Anglers’ Rest argues that the first word of the title is “Old” while a Light Lager prefers “Ol’.” Mr. Mulliner suggests that Mr. Oscar Hammerstein, the lyricist, preferred Ol’, and this is supported by the sheet music. —NM]

Sir Roderick Glossop (Ch.1; page 2)

The prominent nerve specialist and his daughter, Honoria, first appeared in The Inimitable Jeeves. Glossop is a town in Derbyshire. [For the full saga up to this point, read “Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch” in The Inimitable Jeeves, “The Rummy Affair of Old Biffy” and “Without the Option” in Carry On, Jeeves!, and “Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit” in Very Good, Jeeves! Sir Roderick reappears in Uncle Fred in the Springtime (briefly), How Right You Are, Jeeves / Jeeves in the Offing, and “Jeeves and the Greasy Bird” in Plum Pie. —NM]

putting on the nosebag (Ch.1; page 2)

Bertie is joshing the diners at the famous grill restaurant in the Savoy Hotel by referring to the way that horses are fed their oats, from a bag literally tied around the horse’s nose. [NM]

Lord Chuffnell (Ch.1; page 2)

This seems to be a name that Wodehouse invented. It doesn’t correspond to any British placename, and I have found no reference to it on the web that is not related to this book.

Tinkler-Moulke (Ch.1; page 3)

This seems to be her only appearance in the canon.

Tinkler is a variant of “Tinker” that occurs occasionally as a British surname, Moulke is rare as a name, perhaps an anglicisation of a German name.

Sherry-Netherland (Ch.1; page 3)

Elegant New York hotel at 781 Fifth Avenue, overlooking Central Park. It was built for Louis Sherry and Lucius Boomer in 1927 (architects Schultze & Weaver) to replace the New Netherland Hotel of 1892. When it opened, the 38-storey building was the world’s tallest apartment-hotel. Some of the decoration in the lobby comes from the demolished Vanderbilt mansion.

She got right in amongst me. (Ch.1; page 3)

Usually Wodehouse uses “got right in amongst” with respect to a person’s nervous system; see Bill the Conqueror. So this must be a way of describing the physical effect of Bertie’s attraction to Pauline. [NM]

Keats … Chapman’s Homer … Cortez (Ch.1; page 3)

Jeeves fails to point out to Bertie that Keats famously got it wrong: it was Balboa, not Cortez, who was the first European to see the Pacific Ocean from Panama.

Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

John Keats (1795–1821): On first looking into Chapman’s Homer

Wodehouse had something to say about this in the preface to The Clicking of Cuthbert:

In the second chapter I allude to Stout Cortez staring at the Pacific. Shortly after the appearance of this narrative in serial form [in America], I received an anonymous letter containing the words, “You big stiff, it wasn’t Cortez, it was Balboa.” This, I believe, is historically accurate. On the other hand, if Cortez was good enough for Keats, he is good enough for me. Besides, even if it was Balboa, the Pacific was open for being stared at about that time, and I see no reason why Cortez should not have had a look at it as well.

a monkey wrench was bunged into the machinery (Ch.1; page 3?)

See Leave It to Psmith.

pot of poison (Ch.1; page 3?)

This epithet is used for a wide range of Wodehouse characters. It seems originally to have been used as a euphemism for alcoholic beverages in William Cobbett’s Cottage Economy (1824). [NM]

“The kid is a pest, a wart, and a pot of poison, and should be strangled!”

George Caffyn on Junior Blumenfield in “Jeeves and the Chump Cyril” (1918; ch. 10 of The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923)

[Lady Underhill] was a pest and a pot of poison…

Jill the Reckless/The Little Warrior, ch. 1.3 (1920)

“Jane,” said Archie, into the telephone, “is a pot of poison.”

“Washy Makes His Presence Felt” (1920; as ch. 21 in Indiscretions of Archie, 1921)

To me the girl was simply nothing more nor less than a pot of poison.

Bertie speaking of Honoria Glossop in “Bertie Gets Even” (1922; as ch. 5 in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923)

“The modern young man,” said Aunt Dahlia, “is a pot of poison and wants a nurse to lead him by the hand and some strong attendant to kick him regularly at intervals of a quarter of an hour.”

“Jeeves and the Song of Songs” (1929; in US edition of Very Good, Jeeves, 1930; replaced by “is a congenital idiot” in UK book)

Agnes Flack, he reflected, was undeniably a pot of poison; but so much the better.

“Those in Peril on the Tee” (1927; in Mr. Mulliner Speaking, 1929/30)

On the point of asking who the devil Reginald was, Sir Aylmer remembered that his daughter had recently become betrothed to some young pot of cyanide answering to that name.

Pongo Twistleton in Uncle Dynamite, ch. 3.2 (1948)

At any other moment this coarse ribaldry would have woken the fiend that sleeps in Bertram Wooster and led to the young pot of poison receiving another clout on the head, but I had no time now for attending to Thoses.

The Mating Season, ch. 18 (1949)

“The first thing he would do would be to run bleating to the Dalrymple pot of poison and spill the beans, and half an hour after that she would be round here with grapes and kind inquiries.”

Bachelors Anonymous, ch. 12 (1973)

doing down the widow and orphan (Ch.1; page 4?)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

the Wedding Glide (Ch.1; page 4)

Song, “The Wedding Glide” by Louis A. Hirsch, performed by Shirley Kellogg in “The Passing Show of 1912” (Winter Garden New York) and “Hullo, Ragtime!” (London Hippodrome).

Parlour maids and nurse maids banish their pride
Throw their arms around his neck and do the wedding glide

Louis A. Hirsch: The Wedding Glide

Sheet music, with American cover artwork

Cover artwork of British sheet music

cats and fish … stolen hat (Ch.1; page 5)

See “Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch”; also in The Inimitable Jeeves as two chapters: “Introducing Claude and Eustace/Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch”

Punctured hot water bottle (Ch.1; page 5)

See “Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit” (1927; in Very Good, Jeeves, 1930).

sponge-bag trousers and gardenia (Ch.1; page 5)

Formal morning apparel suitable for a wedding, along with a flower for decoration; see explanation and illustrations of these black-and-gray-striped trousers. [NM]

the cool what’s the word to come calling (Ch.1; page 5)

Possibly “cool cheek”? Wodehouse used it from 1905 (“An International Affair”) to 1963 (Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 11) to mean audacity or effrontery. [NM]

Those who know Bertram Wooster best (Ch.1; page 5)

See The Code of the Woosters for similar phrases in which Bertie refers to himself in the third person. [NM]

Ben Bloom (Ch.1; page 5)

Ben Bloom and his Baltimore Buddies seem to be fictitious.

Alhambra (Ch.1; page 5)

See Bill the Conqueror.

the germ of dementia praecox (Ch.1; page 6)

Nowadays the term dementia is used to describe an irreversible deterioration in brain function, the result of various medical conditions (senile dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, etc.). Dementia praecox (premature dementia) was the 19th century term used for the severe personality disorders that we now call schizophrenia.

Eugen Bleuler established in 1908 that these illnesses were not linked to an irreversible brain deterioration, and introduced the new term schizophrenia to describe them more accurately. It is thus unlikely that Sir Roderick, in the 1930s, would use the term Dementia praecox. Nowadays, schizophrenia patients often respond well to antipsychotic drugs.

There doesn’t seem to be any evidence of the existence of a schizophrenia germ – modern science seems to lean more towards the idea of a schizophrenia gene.

You ought to be certified! (Ch.1; page 6)

The legal basis for the care of people with mental illnesses was established in the late nineteenth century (Lunacy Act 1890). Certifying someone insane allowed them to be detained against their will in a poor-house or asylum. The Mental Treatment Act, 1930, moved the emphasis to treatment, and provided for voluntary mental patients, so it would no longer have been necessary for Bertie to have been certified (assuming he was willing to undergo treatment).

In the current trade jargon, patients who need to be detained against their will are “sectioned” under Sections 2, 3 or 4 of the Mental Health Act 1983.

Shakespeare … Treasons, stratagems, and spoils (Ch.1; page 7)

In both US and UK magazine serials and in the US book, Bertie slightly misquotes Shakespeare as “the man who has not music in his soul” here. In the UK book Bertie correctly quotes it as “the man that hath no music in himself”; apparently an editor at Herbert Jenkins Ltd. took it upon himself to fix the quotation, not realizing that Bertie’s memory for this sort of thing is often faulty. At least Bertie got the iambic pentameter correct in his version! [NM]

The man that hath no music in himself,  
Nor is not mov’d with concord of sweet sounds,  
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;  
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus:  
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.

Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice V:i, 93–98
See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse for more references to this passage.

…pluck out the Pom which is in her own eye (Ch.1; page 7)

Pom = Pomeranian dog, of course.

1  Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Bible: Matthew 7:1–5

‘The Wedding of the Painted Doll’ (Ch.1; page 8)

Song by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown from the 1928 film Broadway Melody, the first all-singing, all-dancing Hollywood musical. This film was originally conceived as a “biopic” about the Duncan sisters, who, as Wodehouse describes in Bring On the Girls, were supposed to star in one of his shows, but went off to do Topsy and Eva instead.

Most of the songs Bertie lists in this section are still copyright. However, you can find the lyrics to most of them on the web or performances of them at “The Wedding of the Painted Doll” from The Broadway Melody (1929).

‘Singin’ in the Rain’ (Ch.1; page 8)

Song by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown from the 1929 film Hollywood Revue of 1929. Like “Wedding of the Painted Doll,” it was later re-used in the 1952 Gene Kelly film Singin’ in the Rain.

‘Three Little Words’ (Ch.1; page 8)

Song by Harry Ruby and Bert Kalmar, from the 1930 film “Check and Double Check”. 1930 recording by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra with the Rhythm Boys. This one was also recycled in the fifties, in the Fred Astaire film Three Little Words (1950), based on the career of Ruby and Kalmar.

‘Goodnight, Sweetheart’ (Ch.1; page 8)

Song by Ray Noble from the early 1930s. Yet again, this song came back as a hit in the fifties.

‘My Love Parade’ (Ch.1; page 8)

Song by Victor Schertzinger and Clifford Grey from the 1929 film The Love Parade.

‘Spring Is Here’ (Ch.1; page 8)

Song from the 1929 show of the same title by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Not to be confused with a later song of the same name by the same writers, composed for their 1938 musical play “I Married an Angel”—far more commonly performed and recorded.

‘Whose Baby Are You?’ (Ch.1; page 8)

Song from the 1920 show The Night Boat by Jerome Kern and Anne Caldwell. It is curious that, even when he plays a Kern song, Bertie doesn’t choose one with Wodehouse lyrics here. Obviously a bit of Wodehouse modesty!

‘I Want an Automobile With a Horn That Goes Toot-Toot’ (Ch.1; page 8)

Unidentified so far. There are many songs from the period about automobiles, of course.

Berkeley Mansions, W.1. (Ch.1; page 8)

The W.1. postal district of London (now divided into W1A through W1W) is the highly desirable West End consisting of areas such as Mayfair, Marylebone, Piccadilly, Grosvenor Square and Soho. Only the UK book edition has W.1.; the magazine serials and the US first edition have simply Berkeley Mansions, W. [NM]

the Honourable Mrs. Tinkler-Moulke (Ch.1; page 8)

‘Honourable’ in this case is a courtesy title indicating that Mrs. Tinkler-Moulke is the daughter of a peer below the rank of Earl. In theory, she could also be a High Court judge, a government minister (not being a Privy Councillor), or Lord Provost of Glasgow, but in the 1930s there were few, if any, women in these positions.

Notice how Wodehouse creates comic effect by having Bertie use in informal speech a title that would normally only be used in the written form (e.g. for addressing an envelope). It immediately makes Mrs T-M seem pompous and self-important.

Lieutenant-Colonel J. J. Bustard, D.S.O. (Ch.1; page 8)

The bustard (otis tarda) is the largest European bird, extinct in the British Isles since the 1830s, despite recent attempts to reintroduce it on Salisbury Plain. Bustard occurs occasionally as a real English surname, but Wodehouse presumably chose it for its associations with turkey-like pomposity (cf ‘bluster’ as well).

In “The Ordeal of Osbert Mulliner,” Sir Masterman Petherick-Soames claims to have horsewhipped Rupert Blenkinsop-Bustard on the steps of his club, the Junior Bird-Fanciers.

One might suppose that there is an allusion to the character Col. Mustard in the board game “Cluedo” (“Clue” in the US – trademark of Hasbro in both cases), but this game only appeared for the first time in 1947, having been invented by Anthony Pratt in 1943.

The D.S.O. (Distinguished Service Order) is a military decoration first awarded in 1886. Once again, Bertie makes the colonel ridiculous by being over-specific for the context.

Sir Everard and Lady Blennerhassett (Ch.1; page 8)

This was originally an English name, possibly Cumbrian, although all modern Blennerhassetts claim descent from the Anglo-Irish landowner Robert Blennerhassett, who settled at Blennerville in County Kerry in the late 16th century.

Sir Marmaduke Blennerhassett (1902–1940), 6th baronet, who was killed in action in the second world war, had an even better name than his fictional counterpart, although Wodehouse is more likely to have come across his father, Sir Arthur (1871–?). It is unusual for Wodehouse to use a real title in this way – possibly it was an accident. There is no evidence that he knew the Blennerhassetts.

Blennerhassett Island in West Virginia takes its name from Harman Blennerhassett (1765–1831), who was involved in the Burr conspiracy.

[Mabel Murgatroyd’s father in the American magazine version of “Bingo Bans the Bomb” (Playboy, January 1965) is titled Lord Blennerhassett. —NM]

Mr. Manglehoffer (Ch.1; page 8)

This seems to be an invented name, although it sounds like a plausible anglicisation of a German or Jewish name: “Mangel” from German Mangold, a type of beet (or, less probably, from Mangel, want, shortage); and “-hofer” (originally Hofherr, i.e. proprietor, farmer), which is a common suffix in southern Germany and Austria.

A cottage ... if possible, honeysuckle-covered (Ch.1; page 8 or 9)

A cliché of romantic fiction, important in Wodehouse’s 1925 short story “Honeysuckle Cottage.” [NM]

Gospodinoff … Ripley (Ch.1; page 9)

Robert Leroy Ripley (1890–1949) started out as a newspaper cartoonist and baseball player. He came up with the “Believe it or Not” idea when working for the New York Globe, later moving to the Hearst group and expanding the newspaper cartoon into books, exhibitions (“Odditoriums”) and, most famously, a radio show.

The development of “Believe It or Not” from a newspaper space-filler to a huge industry is often cited by outsiders as the ultimate expression of the American obsession with the trivial, but Wodehouse was clearly a fan, and often uses Ripleyesque items in his writing, especially the “Our man in America” pieces for Punch.

I haven’t found any confirmation of the “Gospodinoff” item. Bagpipes (gaida) are prominent in traditional Bulgarian music. [Online newspaper archives show that Gospodinoff was featured in the May 6, 1930 “Believe It or Not” panel and explained more fully in the May 7 “Yesterday’s Explanations” footnotes. The day-long dance was “many years ago” in the Old World; Gospodinoff was living in Greenwich, Connecticut in 1930. Real-estate transaction notices in Connecticut papers show an Elia G. Gospodinoff as recently as 2012, so the family seems to have settled in for good. —NM]

Mussolini (Ch.1; page 10)

Benito Mussolini (1883–1945) became Prime Minister of Italy in October 1922. He rapidly did away with the democratic process and concentrated power in his own hands, but people in Britain and America generally paid more attention to his economic success than to his human rights abuses until 1935, when his invasion of Ethiopia led to strong international condemnation (but no action). Writing in 1934, Wodehouse is simply using him as a symbol of authoritarianism.

Do I mean truckling? (Ch.1; page 10)

Yes, he does.

A truckle-bed is a low bed on castors that can be rolled under another bed when not in use. The verb “truckle,” which originally simply meant to sleep on such a bed, had taken on a figurative sense of “lying down unworthily” or “cowering” by the late seventeenth century.

Battle of Crécy (Ch.1; page 10)

At Crécy, in northern France, on 26 August 1346, Edward III of England defeated Philip VI of France in the early stages of the Hundred Years War. This victory made the English capture of Calais in the following year possible.

[Only the US magazine serial in Cosmopolitan includes the accent as in the French name; Strand magazine and both US and UK first editions simply read “Crecy” here. —NM]

Chapter 2

Runs from pp. 11 to 17 in the 1999 Penguin edition

the lemon-coloured (Ch.2; page 11)

Lemon-coloured gloves were the mark of a dandy; the poet Browning in his twenties was described as “slim and dark, and very handsome, and . . . just a trifle of a dandy, addicted to lemon-coloured kid gloves and such things.” [NM]

chilled steel (Ch.2; page 11)

See The Code of the Woosters.

I wonder if I have ever told you about Chuffy? (Ch.2; page 11)

No, this is the first mention of him in the Wooster saga. He reappears in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1963) and is mentioned in the book versions of “Jeeves and the Greasy Bird” (Plum Pie and The World of Jeeves). [NM]

private school, Eton and Oxford (Ch.2; page 11) °

In this context “private school” means what in England and Wales is now usually called a “preparatory school,” i.e. a school that prepares young children to take the public school entrance examinations, usually when they are about 13 years old. Such schools are commonly run as commercial ventures; often the headmaster is also the owner and proprietor. Elsewhere, we are told that Bertie’s early education was at Malvern House, under the Rev. Aubrey Upjohn.

“Public school” in England and Wales (but not in Scotland or North America) refers to a small group of independent schools, usually having their origins in medieval charitable foundations, decently obscure for centuries, which in Victorian times took on the role of defining Britain’s future ruling élite. These were organized similarly to nonprofit corporations, with boards of trustees or governors, endowments, and no owner or stockholders. To be sent there you merely had to have wealthy parents; once you had been there, you were a gentleman. Eton College, on the Thames near Windsor, 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.’

Oxford University was in existence by the twelfth century. Bertie’s college, which is elsewhere said to be Magdalen, was founded in 1448 by William of Wayneflete.

Chuffnell Regis … Somersetshire (Ch.2; page 11)

The Somersetshire coast extends along the southern shore of the Bristol Channel from Bristol to Exmoor. There are several well-known seaside resorts, including Weston-Super-Mare, Burnham-on-Sea, Watchet and Minehead.

The only seaside resorts in Britain with the suffix “Regis” (King’s) are Bognor, in Sussex, and Lyme, in Dorset.

in these times? He can’t even let it. (Ch.2; page 12)

The financial difficulties of many owners of large country estates were not new in the stock-market slump following 1929. As N.T.P. Murphy points out in A Wodehouse Handbook, in the early years of the twentieth century the death duties introduced by Lloyd George and rising taxation had already begun to affect many great families. Further taxes arising from the Great War made the situation worse. Murphy:

As a boy, Wodehouse had seen the heyday of the country houses but fully appreciated their later difficulties. As early as A Gentleman of Leisure (The Intrusion of Jimmy) [1910] he writes of noble establishments that have fallen on hard times. John Carroll of Money for Nothing [1928] works hard to keep the estate going…

Some great houses were let (leased) to institutions such as schools and sanitariums when no one could be found wealthy enough to maintain them as private residences, but as Chuffy notes (ch. 3, p. 25) the cost of renovations to make the entire house habitable would be enormous after decades of deferred maintenance. [NM]

the local doctor and parson (Ch.2; page 12)

As educated men, these professionals would be admitted to County society and could socialize with their wealthier neighbors. [NM]

Seabury (Ch.2; page 12)

An unusual name for a British boy – Samuel Seabury (1729–1796), the first American bishop in the Episcopal Church, has lent his name to many institutions in the USA, but is essentially unknown in Britain.

Dower House (Ch.2; page 12)

A house, usually in the grounds of a larger house, but at a safe distance from it, intended as a residence for the widow (dowager) of the former head of the family.

one of the lads (Ch.2; page 12)

A shortening of “one of the lads of the village”; an ironic term for the bright young idle men-about-town of which Bertie is such a good representative. [NM]

“The moment I saw you, I said, ‘Here comes one of the lads of the village.’ This is no time for delay. If we are to liven up this great city, we must get to work at once.”

The Prince and Betty (UK edition), ch. 4 (1912)

He was All Right, a sportsman, one of the lads, and a good egg.

Archie Moffam in “The Man Who Married An Hotel” (1920) [omitted from Indiscretions of Archie, 1921]

Never before had I encountered a curate so genuinely all to the mustard. Little as he might look like one of the lads of the village, he certainly appeared to be real tabasco, and I wished he had shown me this side of his character before.

“Aunt Agatha Takes the Count” (1922; as ch. 4 in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923)

One would have expected a New York playboy, widely publicized as one of the lads, to confine himself to prose, and dirty prose, at that.

Jeeves in the Offing/How Right You Are, Jeeves, ch. 3 (1960)

Norman Murphy, in The Reminiscences of the Hon. Galahad Threepwood, explains “one of the lads” as the shortened form of the phrase, and that “from about 1870 till 1914, ‘the village’ was the term used for that area of London stretching from St Paul’s in the east to Hyde Park Corner in the west. ‘The lads of the village’ was the name given to fellows like myself [Galahad] who spent our days and nights making use of the facilities for harmless, and not so harmless, entertainment to be found there.”

more or less of a washout (Ch.2; page 12)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

Carlton (Ch.2; page 12)

The Carlton Hotel was opened by Ritz and Escoffier in 1899. See also A Damsel in Distress.

on the edge of the harbour … not a neighbour within a mile (Ch.2; page 13)

On the face of it, this sounds unlikely. In most places with a harbour, the harbour will have been the focus of economic activity, so one expects the village to be clustered around it.

If we take the mile as an exaggeration, one place that might fit could be Minehead, where the town is stretched out along a sandy bay, but the harbour is tucked in under the cliffs at the far end, leaving little room for building.

Like Chuffnell Regis, Minehead was also the property of a single family – the Luttrells – and although quite small, it would have had enough holiday visitors to support a summer theatre.

Police Sergeant Voules (Ch.2; page 14)

The best-known Voules in the canon is of course the man behind the wheel of the Blandings Hispano-Suiza. Reggie Pepper’s valet and the stand-in clergyman in The Small Bachelor are among the others.

Stirling Voules (1843–1923), who came from Somersetshire, played cricket for Oxford University in the 1860s, but seems to have retired from first-class cricket well before Wodehouse’s time.

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

nigger minstrels (Ch.2; page 14)

Note: the word “nigger” is nowadays considered offensive by many people. It has consequently been deleted or replaced in some recent US editions. In the thirties, this was the usual word for this kind of entertainment, and it would not have occurred to Wodehouse that it would offend some of his readers.

[As far as I am aware, the only times this word is used pejoratively in Wodehouse to refer to people of African descent are when it is being spoken by American characters who are shown up by Wodehouse as being racially prejudiced. In other words, he uses it realistically, as Mark Twain did. In the mouths of sympathetic characters like Bertie, or in Wodehouse’s narrative voice, the word seems always to refer to white minstrel performers in blackface, and is used without any appearance of animosity. Black characters are generally called something else, for instance “the coloured chappie in charge of the elevator” in “Jeeves and the Chump Cyril.” See also the first Kid Brady story for an early look at how the young Wodehouse reacted to American racial prejudice. —NM]

Minstrel shows first appeared in the USA in 1830, and the vogue had reached Britain by the 1840s. They involved white musicians made up as caricatures of black people from the South of the USA, performing songs and ritualised jokes in an exaggerated dialect. The songs of Stephen Foster (1826–1864) soon took over as the core of the repertoire.

The format persisted in Britain for a long time – it was only in 1978 that the BBC finally acknowledged the racist implications of the “Black and White Minstrel Show.” However, by the 1930s minstrel shows were no longer the dominant form of seaside entertainment.

parted brass-rags (Ch.2; page 14)

Naval expression: ratings used to share a bag of polishing rags with a colleague (a “raggie”), so parting brass rags was a consequence of separating after a disagreement. See Very Good, Jeeves.

high road … low road (Ch.2; page 14)

O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road,
 And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye,
 But me and my true love will never meet again,
 On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomon’.

Anonymous: Loch Lomond (traditional Scottish song)

immortal rind (Ch.2; page 14)

Rind here is a jocular synonym for the colloquial usage of “crust” meaning impudence or “cheek.” The OED cites George Ade in a 1901 newspaper column: “Do you have the immortal Rind to say that a galvanized Bun and one little Oasis of Ham are worth ten cents?” Wodehouse picked up on this and used “immortal rind” as early as 1915 in Something Fresh/Something New. [NM]

accepted his portfolio (Ch.2; page 14)

The word portfolio is often used figuratively to describe the tasks of a government minister (this was originally a French usage). Thus, when a minister resigns she is said to hand in her portfolio. For an valet to do this is delightfully incongruous.

bite the bullet (Ch.2; page 14)

Said to come from the practice of giving wounded soldiers a bullet to bite on while surgery was performed.

‘I shall watch your future career with considerable interest.’ (Ch.2; page 14?)

See A Damsel in Distress.

follow the green line (Ch.2; page 15)

This injunction, from the idea of painting a green line on the floor, wall or pavement to guide people to a particular destination, must already have been a cliché by the early 1920s – the Art Steel Company in the Bronx were using it as an advertising slogan for their green-painted filing cabinets, and the Scott Fitzgerald example below has the air of referring to something that would have been well-known to readers. I haven’t been able to identify the origin of the practice, but it seems to be more an American than a British idea.

The Townsends had determined to assure their party of success, so a great quantity of liquor had been surreptitiously brought over from their house and was now flowing freely. A green ribbon ran along the wall completely round the ballroom, with pointing arrows alongside and signs which instructed the uninitiated to “Follow the green line!” The green line led down to the bar, where waited pure punch and wicked punch and plain dark-green bottles.

F. Scott Fitzgerald: “The Camel’s Back” (Saturday Evening Post, 21 February 1920)

pair of pustules (Ch.2; page 15?)

See Hot Water.

giving me the pip (Ch.2; page 16?)

See The Code of the Woosters.

soup and fish (Ch.2; page 16)

Gentlemen’s formal evening dress.

when my toilet was completed (Ch.2; page 16)

In other words, “when I had finished dressing.” The word toilet originally referred to a light cloth used to protect clothes (as during hairdressing) or to cover a dressing-table, then to the table itself and the articles found there (comb, brush, etc.), then to the act of dressing and grooming, or the clothing or hairstyle itself (often toilette); later to a dressing room, sometimes having washing facilities. Its use as a euphemism for lavatory or water-closet began in America in the late nineteenth century but was rare in Britain until the mid-twentieth century. [NM]

meet at Philippi (Ch.2; page 17)

Brutus: There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Cassius: Then, with your will, go on;
We’ll along ourselves, and meet them at Philippi.

Shakespeare: Julius Caesar IV:3, 249–257
See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse for more references to this passage.

July the fifteenth (Ch.2; page 17)

For reference in later discussions of time of day, assuming the location of Minehead as above, dawn on 15 July would be at 04:33 British Summer Time, sunrise at 05:17, sunset at 21:22, dusk ending at 22:06. [NM]

a meditative cigarette (Ch.2; page 17)

A classic transferred epithet: see Right Ho, Jeeves. [NM]

Chapter 3
Re-enter the Dead Past

Runs from pp. 18 to 26 in the 1999 Penguin edition.

Chapter title: the Dead Past (Ch.3; page 18)

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 hearts, 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!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;—

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

wheeze (Ch.3; page 18)

Here used as a synonym for “scheme”; more often used as a catchphrase or repeated joke; see Right Ho, Jeeves. [NM]

cloth-headed (Ch.3; page 18)

See Money in the Bank.

frowsty (Ch.3; page 18)

Stuffy, underventilated, smelly. [NM]

a hundred quid (Ch.3; page 18?)

One hundred pounds sterling. The Bank of England inflation calculator suggests a factor of roughly 73 from 1933 to 2020, so in modern terms this would be about £7,300 or US$10,000. [NM]

whacking great yacht (Ch.3; page 19?)

See If I Were You.

gasper (Ch.3; page 19?)

a cheap cigarette [NM]

No, I’m wrong. (Ch.3; page 19?)

Thus in UK first edition; in Strand, Cosmopolitan, and US first edition, this reads “No, I’m a liar.” We must assume an editorial intervention at Herbert Jenkins Ltd.

the old two-seater (Ch.3; page 19?)

We learn in Chapter 8 that this is a Widgeon Seven.

fiend in human shape (Ch.3; page 19?)

See The Mating Season.

“Hallo” (Ch.3; page 19?)

The UK first edition uses the spelling “Hallo” most often; the US and UK magazine serials and the US book spell it “Hullo” throughout. [NM]

aeroplane ears (Ch.3; page 20?)

In Quick Service (1940), Mr. Steptoe is described at one point as having aeroplane ears, and elsewhere “ears like the handles of an old Greek vase” and “ears that seemed to be set at right angles to his singularly unprepossessing face”; we thus have a definition of the term used here. [NM]

Rogues’ Gallery (Ch.3; page 20)

The name normally used for the police collection of photographs of known criminals.

Young Thos. (Ch.3; page 20)

Aunt Agatha’s dreadful son appeared in “Jeeves and the Impending Doom” (1926) being tutored by Bingo Little, and again in “Jeeves and the Love that Purifies” (1929). Later reappears in The Mating Season.

“Thos.” was a conventional abbreviation for Thomas, seen frequently over the doors of shops, etc., but incongruous in spoken language. His family name is presumably Gregson, the name of Aunt Agatha’s first husband.

Mr. Blumenfield’s Junior (Ch.3; page 20)

See “Jeeves and the Chump Cyril” in The Inimitable Jeeves and “Jeeves and the Dog McIntosh” in Very Good, Jeeves.

[If the Penguin edition has “Blumenfield” here, it is unique; all other editions of Thank You, Jeeves including original magazine serials spell the name “Blumenfeld.” See The Inimitable Jeeves. —NM]

Sebastian Moon (Ch.3; page 20)

See “Jeeves and the Love that Purifies” in Very Good, Jeeves.

Bonzo (Ch.3; page 20)

Also appears in “Jeeves and the Love that Purifies” in Very Good, Jeeves.

… and the field (Ch.3; page 20)

An echo of racing reports, referring to the “also-ran” horses after the individually-named winners.

nif (Ch.3; page 21)

Smell – slang, esp. among schoolboys. The OED cites this as one of the first uses in print. It may possibly be derived from sniff. [Spelled “niff” in the Strand and Cosmopolitan serials and in the US book. —NM]

five shillings (Ch.3; page 21)

25p in modern coin; one-quarter of a pound sterling. A largish sum for a schoolboy in those days, with the buying power of about £18 today.

bronzed and fit (Ch.3; page 22?)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

The scales fell from my eyes. (Ch.3; page 22?)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

…something Lady Chuffnell had picked up en route (Ch.3; page 23)

As she is Lady Chuffnell, the marriage resulting in Seabury must have been prior to her marriage to the late Lord C. Seabury presumably can’t be more than 12 or so, which suggests that her marriage to Lord C must have been rather brief.

pegged out (Ch.3; page 23?)

Slang for “died”; cited from the 1850s from US sources in the OED. Though existing citations for connections to games are not as old as that, there may be a connection to croquet, in which hitting the winning peg with one’s ball is the final stroke in the game, or to cribbage, in which advancing one’s scoring peg to the last hole of the board is one way of winning the game before the show of hands. [NM]

relict (Ch.3; page 23?)

Survivor, widow; a historical term now mostly in formal or mock-formal use. The OED cites Wodehouse’s use in The Small Bachelor, ch. 2 (1927). [NM]

it’ll be in the Morning Post in a day or two (Ch.3; page 24)

See Right Ho, Jeeves. [NM]

…getting Aunt Myrtle off this season (Ch.3; page 24)

This is an echo of the language usually associated with the parents of debutantes. The ‘season’ was the period of the year when aristocratic families moved into their London houses and took their daughters to a series of balls to meet eligible young men. By the thirties, all but the wealthiest had been forced to sell off their London mansions, but the idea of a London season persisted until the fifties.

widower more than two years (Ch.3; page 24)

The first Lady Glossop, née Blatherwick, is mentioned as a friend of Bertie’s Aunt Agatha in “Scoring Off Jeeves” (1922; as ch. 5 in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923) and as a sister of Professor Pringle’s wife in “Without the Option” (1925; in Carry On, Jeeves!). [NM]

Our Humble Heroines (Ch.3; page 24)

??? This sounds as though it might be the title of a patriotic film or a wartime poster, but I haven’t been able to trace it yet.

[Maurice Maeterlinck, in The Life of the Ant (1930), refers to the fertile females: “our humble heroines find it easier than we do to modify, in case of need, their fundamental laws, or even to reverse them, adapting themselves to circumstances, and turning these to account.”

[An article in the Pittsburgh Press, July 13, 1933, about the lack of realism in hair and makeup of Hollywood actresses, says that “even in such ‘homey’ pictures as ‘Peg O’ My Heart’ and ‘State Fair,’ our humble heroines are on every beauty parlor secret.” —NM]

fifteen thousand quid (Ch.3; page 25)

Roughly equivalent in buying power to £1.1 million today. [NM]

get outside (Ch.3; page 25)

Wodehouse didn’t invent this humorous inversion of putting food or drink inside oneself, but he certainly helped to popularize it, beginning in 1906; see the endnote to “How Kid Brady Joined the Press” on this phrase. [NM]

Dwight (Ch.3; page 25)

Nowadays we associate this name mostly with Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890–1969), Second World War general and later President of the USA. However, in 1934 he was an obscure professional soldier unknown outside military circles.

The name owes its original popularity in the USA to the Baptist minister Timothy Dwight (b. 1752), who was president of Yale University in the late 18th century. Was Wodehouse perhaps reading about American church history when he wrote Thank You, Jeeves?

[Ian Michaud notes: in Piccadilly Jim an assortment of Rollos, Clarences, Dwights and Twombleys were frisking around Ann on the boat crossing the Atlantic and later we discover that Willie Partridge’s father was the famous inventor Dwight Partridge. There was an artist called Robert Dwight Penway in The Coming of Bill. And a few years before Thank You, Jeeves, in Big Money a different Ann told Twombley Burwash (“You know. The Dwight N. Burwashes”) that she would only consider marrying him if he hit a policeman, a task Twombley declined to take on.]

Other American Dwights include Dwight Blenkiron of Chicago (Sam the Sudden, 1925), Dwight Stoker in Thank You, Jeeves (1934), Dwight Z. Rollitt in the US version of “Ordeal by Golf” (1919), and perhaps Dwight Messmore in “Up from the Depths” (1950), in which the Fourth of July is mentioned.

Chapter 4
Annoying Predicament of Pauline Stoker

Runs from pp. 27 to 36 in the 1999 Penguin edition.

The chapter heading sounds as though it might be an indirect reference to the famous 1914 silent film serial The Perils of Pauline, in which Pearl White was forever being tied to railway tracks.

a-twitter (Ch.4; page 27)

A shortened form of “all of a twitter”; see The Inimitable Jeeves.

as juicy a biff (Ch.4; page 27)

as intense a blow [NM]

removed the lid (Ch.4; page 27)

In the days when gentlemen wore hats, it was considered polite to take one’s hat off when greeting someone. The gesture is said to be a survival of knights wearing helmets; more likely it is just a way of giving the other party a clear look at your face so that they can decide for themselves that you look harmless.

under the ether (Ch.4; page 27)


Colonel Wooster (Ch.4; page 27)

David Wooster (1711–1777), a Connecticut man, served in the British army against the French and the native Americans. In 1775, he resigned his commission as colonel of a Connecticut militia regiment to become a general in the revolutionary army of the American colonists. He was mortally wounded in action in the Quebec campaign.

Masters of Hounds (Ch.4; page 28)

The Master of [Fox-]hounds (MFH) is the person in charge of a fox hunt. Masters traditionally have red faces, loud voices and short tempers, but, hunting being a dangerous activity, they presumably have to be competent organisers, good at ordering people around. The title “Master” is used equally for men and women, as Wodehouse implies.

scratch the entire fixture (Ch.4; page 29?)

Sporting terminology for “cancel the whole event.” [NM]

expression … of a stuffed frog (Ch.4; page 30?)

See Bill the Conqueror.

Soul’s Awakening (Ch.4; page 30)

A sentimental portrait by James Sant (1820–1916) of his young niece (or great niece) Annie Kathleen Rendle, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1888 and widely reproduced in engravings and prints. [NM]

A color engraving of the painting

An 1897 interview with the artist, with black-and-white engraving of the painting

[The 1922 Rudolf Steiner book of the same title previously mentioned here is probably not relevant, as Wodehouse was referring to the look of the portrait in stories as early as 1911. The other artwork previously noted here, “a sentimental mezzotint engraving by Charles John Tomkins (1847–1897), published by Graves in 1892,” is listed in a guide to artworks as a companion piece to The Soul’s Awakening. —NM]

copped it (Ch.4; page 30)

See Very Good, Jeeves.

You find the girl, and he does the rest. (Ch.4; page 30)

A takeoff on the longtime Kodak advertising slogan “You press the button, we do the rest”— famous in Britain as well as America since 1890 at least. [NM]

Janet Gaynor (Ch.4; page 31)

(Laura Gainor, 1906–1984) Film actress. Made her debut in The Johnstown Flood (1926), and was one of the few silent actors to do well in talkies. Her biggest success was the 1937 version of A Star Is Born. She was described as “a waif with large innocent eyes.”

A 1931 publicity photo of Janet Gaynor

“…do you keep cats in your bedroom?” (Ch.4; page 32?)

The incident is recounted in “Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch” (1922; in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923). [NM]

mot juste (Ch.4; page 34?)

French for the “exact word” that expresses the intended meaning. Wodehouse often attributes this goal, correctly, to novelist Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880, best known for Madame Bovary), who argued that careful choice of the right word was the key to literary realism and an essential truth in writing. [NM]

Marmaduke (Ch.4; page 34?)

A masculine name, derived from Irish Gaelic, with comical upper-class English overtones according to [NM]

Like “Murgatroyd” in the preface, Marmaduke is a name found in Gilbert and Sullivan. The elderly baronet (but, somewhat surprisingly, not a “bad baronet”) Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre is the tenor’s father in The Sorcerer. [IM]

how the other half of the world lives (Ch.4; page 34?)

The phrase can be traced back to the title of a 1752 satirical book, Low-life: Or One Half of the World Knows Not how the Other Half Lives...— one of those interminable eighteenth-century titles that fill the title page. The authorship is variously attributed to William Hogarth and to Thomas Legg. Another citation from the same decade: Matthew Henry’s commentary on the Book of Job, chapter 30 (1758).

The phrase became popular again in 1890 with the publication of How the Other Half Lives, a pioneering work of photojournalism by Jacob Riis documenting conditions in New York tenements. [NM]

tidings of great joy (Ch.4; page 35?)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

king in Babylon ... Christian slave (Ch.4; page 35)

Or ever the knightly years were gone
With the old world to the grave,
I was a King in Babylon
And you were a Christian Slave.

I saw, I took, I cast you by,
I bent and broke your pride.
You loved me well, or I heard them lie,
But your longing was denied.
Surely I knew that by and by
You cursed your gods and died.

And a myriad suns have set and shone
Since then upon the grave
Decreed by the King of Babylon,
To her that had been his Slave.

The pride I trampled is now my scathe,
For it tramples me again.
The old resentment lasts like death,
For you love, yet you refrain.
I break my heart on your hard unfaith,
And I break my heart in vain.

Yet not for an hour do I wish undone
The deed beyond the grave,
When I was a King in Babylon
And you were a Virgin Slave.

William Ernest Henley (1849–1903): To W. A.

charging into a railway restaurant for a bowl of soup (Ch.4; page 36)

This image dates back to Wodehouse’s younger days – the advent of corridor trains and restaurant cars on most routes around 1900 put an end to the old practice of meal stops on long railway journeys.

[The modern equivalent is found on long-distance bus journeys when the driver pulls in to a highway truck-stop to give the passengers a short meal-break. —IM]

Chapter 5
Bertie Takes Things in Hand

Runs from pp. 37 to 44 in the 1999 Penguin edition

whereabouts ... at the wash (Ch.5; page 37)

Wodehouse had Lord Marshmoreton laughing over this gag from a newspaper in Chapter VI of A Damsel in Distress. [NM]

a sentiment deeper and warmer than that of ordinary friendship (Ch.5; page 38?)

Wodehouse uses this phrase often enough that I had always taken it to be a stock phrase of Victorian proposals, but there is little available evidence for the phrase in full before him. In Horatio Alger’s A Fancy of Hers (1892), one man writes to his friend about a young woman he is interested in: “If I am not too precipitate, I hope that esteem may pave the way for a deeper and warmer sentiment.” A platonic friendship between German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher and Henrietta Herz was described by her (quoted in a review published in 1860): “There were…people who, knowing the intimacy that existed between us, suspected that it was based upon a warmer sentiment than friendship. They were mistaken.” And this is as close as I can find until “The Truth About George” (1926), “Jeeves and the Spot of Art” (1929), this novel, and “Dumb Chums at Riverhead,” one of his Punch columns (Sept. 7, 1955) about a breeding pair of armadillos. In Right Ho, Jeeves, Bertie uses the similar phrase “sentiment warmer and stronger than that of ordinary friendship.” In Cocktail Time, ch. 17, Wodehouse’s narration uses “feelings deeper and warmer than those of ordinary friendship” to describe Phoebe Wisdom’s attraction to her butler Peasemarch. [NM]

dippy about the man (Ch.5; page 39?)

The OED has a 1903 citation for “dippy” alone meaning crazy, and, when used with “about” or “over” defines it as “in love with.” A 1904 citation from George Ade (“to get dippy over the Honest Working-Girl”) and a 1923 one from Wodehouse (“You’ve no notion how dippy I am about him.”) illustrate the “in love” sense. Actually, in one serial episode of The Adventures of Sally Gladys Winch uses “dippy” twice to indicate that Fillmore Nicholas is crazy to star her in a revue, as well as once, as quoted above, to indicate that she loves him anyway. [NM]

a worm i’ the bud (Ch.5; page 39)

She never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm i’ th’ bud,
Feed on her damask cheek.

Shakespeare: Twelfth Night II:iv, 110
See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse for more references to this passage.

[In Hot Water (1932) we learn that Blair Eggleston is the author of the novel Worm i’ the Root. —IM]

Missing on every cylinder. (Ch.5; page 39)

An automobile engine will run roughly if it is missing on even one cylinder — that is, if due to such causes as a dirty spark plug, failed ignition wiring, or bad valve operation, one cylinder doesn’t explode its fuel mixture at the proper time to contribute its share of the driving force. An engine missing on every cylinder will of course not run at all, so this is a metaphor for Chuffy’s total failure to act on his feelings for Miss Stoker. [NM]

love laughs at … locksmiths (Ch.5; page 39)

This expression seems to be proverbial. It has been used as the title of several plays and operas, most notably by George Colman the Younger (1762–1836).

fifty million dollars (Ch.5; page 39)

Using US consumer price index data from 1934 to mid-2021, the relative inflated worth would be just over a billion dollars in modern terms. [NM]

kicked the bucket (Ch.5; page 39)

This colloquial euphemism for dying was recorded in a 1785 slang dictionary; an 1888 dictionary explains it as referring to a different sense of the word “bucket” than the container for water. In Norfolk, the beam on which a butcher suspends a slaughtered pig upside-down was called a “bucket”; since the pig’s back feet were near the beam, the dead pig was said to kick the bucket. [NM]

Benstead (Ch.5; page 39)

Benstead/Binstead was a favourite Wodehouse name, obviously inspired by Arthur “the Pitcher” Binstead (1846–1915), founder and chronicler of the Pelican Club.

Kid Lazarus, the man without a bean (Ch.5; page 39 or 40)

Not the Lazarus of Bethany, raised from the dead in chapter 11 of the Gospel of John, but rather the poor man Lazarus of Luke 16:19–31, who longed to eat the crumbs that fell from the table of a rich man. [NM]

plenty of bust blokes have married oofy girls (Ch.5; page 40?)

“Oof” was late-Victorian slang for money, so “oofy” means wealthy. [NM]

put the bite on (Ch.5; page 41?)

Like bite the ear, this is slang for asking for a loan. [NM]

complex (Ch.5; page 42?)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

musical comedy … Lord Wotwotleigh (Ch.5; page 42)

Seems to be invented. [The name is a takeoff on the upper-class English stock phrase “What? What?”; see note for page 204? below. —NM]

continue to do business at the old stand (Ch.5; page 43)

This phrase often appears in advertisements from around the turn of the century when a business has been taken over by a new owner. It seems to be more American than British.

See also Bill the Conqueror.

…you really are sure it is ‘damask’? (Ch.5; page 43)

The word “damask” has been used in English to describe many disparate items associated with the city of Damascus. In modern use, it normally refers to textiles, especially the twilled white linen used for tablecloths and the like, hence Bertie’s bewilderment.

Shakespeare was using it to describe the colour of the damask rose. Apparently there is some doubt as to precisely which varieties of rose were covered by this name, but everyone agrees that they were red.

[Wodehouse has one of his characters misquote this to great effect. Colonel Wedge, in chapter 6 of Full Moon, is worried that his daughter Veronica is brooding because Tipton Plimsoll is diffident about proposing to her. He quotes the Shakespeare passage as “let concealment, like a worm i’ the bud, feed on her damned cheek.” As a bluff military man, the phrase “damned cheek” (meaning roughly “blasted impertinence”) would come to mind more easily than the archaic “damask”. —NM]

I have got the whole thing taped out. (Ch.5; page 43–44?)

Measured, assessed, planned fully. The OED cites a similar passage in Right Ho, Jeeves, ch. 9, in which Bertie asks Jeeves: “Didn’t I tell you I had everything taped out?” [NM]

till I see the whites of his eyes (Ch.5; page 43–44?)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

half-bot of the best (Ch.5; page 44)

Half-bottle (of wine).

Chapter 6
Complications Set In

Runs from pp. 45 to 63 in the 1999 Penguin edition

Master Dwight … Master Seabury (Ch.6; page 45)

‘Master’ was the title used when it was necessary to address a young boy formally. Jeeves would naturally use this form, to indicate their status as guests of his employer.

trillions (Ch.6; page 45?)

Traditionally, in British English, a billion was a million squared, or 1012, and a trillion was a million cubed, or 1018. Beginning gradually in the 1950s, and officially in UK statistics since 1974, British writers have conformed to the longtime usage of the USA and France, defining a billion as a thousand millions, 109, and a trillion as a thousand billions, 1012. But in 1933, a British boy like Master Seabury would have intended the larger or “long scale” definition of trillions. [NM]

imbroglio (Ch.6; page 46)

Confusion, entanglement, disagreement (a direct borrowing from Italian)

…the subject of socks (Ch.6; page 47)

Jeeves and Bertie have had a number of disputes on this delicate subject, notably in “Startling Dressiness of a Lift Attendant” (in The Inimitable Jeeves, the chapter which concludes the short story “Jeeves and the Chump Cyril”).

shining like twin stars (Ch.6; page 47)

See Money for Nothing.

“Sonny Boy” … Beefy Bingham’s Church Lads (Ch.6; page 47)

See “Jeeves and the Song of Songs” in Very Good, Jeeves. The Rev. Rupert “Beefy” Bingham is one of the handful of characters who link the world of Jeeves with that of Blandings – he later marries Lord Emsworth’s niece Gertrude and becomes vicar of Much Matchingham.

The Church Lads’ and Church Girls’ Brigade was founded in 1891 as an Anglican counterpart to the secular Boy Scout movement, and still exists. They appear in a number of stories, most notably in Service with a Smile, where Lord Emsworth sabotages their tents.

It was one of those things that want doing quickly or not at all (Ch.6; page 48?)

If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well
It were done quickly...

Shakespeare: Macbeth I:vii, 1–2 [NM]
See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse for more references to this passage.

Homburg (Ch.6; page 48)

A soft felt hat with a curled brim and a dented crown, named after the spa near Wiesbaden. Made popular by Edward VII as Prince of Wales in the 1890s.

floater (Ch.6; page 48?)

See The Code of the Woosters.

stout Cortez (Ch.6; page 49)

See p. 3 above.

in his kick (Ch.6; page 49)

In his pocket (19th century British slang). cf. Summer Moonshine Ch. 1: “She slung your brother Joe out.” “And with only ten dollars in his kick, mind you.”

hoofing his daughter’s kisser (Ch.6; page 49)

In Wodehouse hoof as a verb normally means either to go on foot, or to dance (on stage). Another occasional meaning is to throw out, or eject, someone. Here, Wodehouse seems to be using it to mean “kick.” Presumably he resorts to this because he has already used “kick” in a quite different sense a couple of sentences previously.

Bertie, as usual, is digging himself in too deep linguistically – “kisser” can mean either “mouth” or “person who kisses.” The sensible interpretation here is the latter, but on first reading the phrase we get a fleeting impression of Stoker trying to decide which of the two he can kick. Knowing Wodehouse, this ambiguity is deliberate.

a touch of the iron hand (Ch.6; page 50?)

Polite firmness; see Carry On, Jeeves for the full phrase that is probably being alluded to here.

the work of a moment (Ch.6; page 50?)

See A Damsel in Distress.

Follow the dictates of the old heart (Ch.6; page 50?)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

port … the last of the ’85 (Ch.6; page 51)

Wine-growers in Europe were starting to recover from the devastation of phylloxera and mildew by the early 1880s; 1885 was one of the first years since 1845 when significant quantities of good quality wine could be produced.

Two bottles of 1885 port were sold recently (Oct. 2000) for $250 each.

Size nine-and-a-quarter (Ch.6; page 51)

British hat sizes are based on the diameter of the head in inches. The largest standard size is 7 3/4 (63 cm). Size 9 1/4 would be about 75 cm! (US sizes are slightly smaller than British ones, but look similar; if Bertie is using a US size, it would be about 73cm...).

something in me that strikes a chord… (Ch.6; page 51)

Compare: [NM]

“…it is a known scientific fact that there is a particular style of female that does seem strangely attracted to the sort of fellow I am.”
 “Very true, sir.”
 “I mean to say, I know perfectly well that I’ve got, roughly speaking, half the amount of brain a normal bloke ought to possess. And when a girl comes along who has about twice the regular allowance, she too often makes a bee line for me with the love light in her eyes. I don’t know how to account for it, but it is so.”
 “It may be Nature’s provision for maintaining the balance of the species, sir.”

“Without the Option” (1925; in Carry On, Jeeves!)

demesne (Ch.6; page 51?)

Technically, in land law, the possession of real estate as one’s own. Bertie is using the more modern sense of the land so possessed: an estate, consisting of a mansion and its immediately surrounding grounds, park, farm, etc. Note also the figurative sense in Keats’s poem referenced above.

muffins (Ch.6; page 53)

These would of course be the English type, small, flat cakes made from bread dough and dried fruit, and eaten toasted with butter.

storm-tossed soul … harbour (Ch.6; page 53)

This may be a reference to an evangelical hymn – if so I haven’t been able to trace it yet. “Storm-tossed soul” is a cliché of religious language.

[A Google search for the phrases “storm-tossed soul” and “safely into harbour” together returns only online quotations of this sentence, so this combination appears to be a Wodehouse original. —NM]

coaching his college boat (Ch.6; page 56)

Oxford and Cambridge colleges have their own rowing clubs, which compete against each other within the university. When rowers are training, the coach generally cycles alongside, shouting abuse through a megaphone from the towpath.

put the lid on it (Ch.6; page 56?)

See Ukridge.

arnica (Ch.6; page 56?)

See Money for Nothing.

durance vile (Ch.6; page 57?)

See The Code of the Woosters.

immuring (Ch.6; page 57)

Imprisoning (literally: walling in)

You could see Reason returning to her throne (Ch.6; page 59?)

See Hot Water. Another such allusion is in chapter 9.

seven-and-six for the licence (Ch.6; page 59?)

Seven shillings and sixpence, three-eighths of a pound sterling. Roughly equivalent to £27 or $35 US in modern buying power. Coincidentally, the first UK edition of this book was priced at seven-and-six too. [NM]

the man behind the Prayer Book (Ch.6; page 59?)

That is, the clergyman who performs the wedding. In the Church of England, the text of the wedding service is included in the Book of Common Prayer. (In the US first edition, “prayer book” is in lower case; in the UK magazine serial, “prayer-book” is hyphenated in lower case; in the US magazine serial, this sentence is omitted.) [NM]

I had never heard such crust in my life (Ch.6; page 60?)

Colloquially, “crust” means “impudence”; see Something Fresh.

special licence (Ch.6; page 60)

This can mean two different things. In the Anglican church, a special licence may be granted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to allow a couple to marry in a church other than that of the parish where one of them lives.

What Bertie is referring to is almost certainly a special licence from the Registrar, which allows a civil marriage to take place with only one day’s notice, instead of the usual three weeks.

Boat Race … Eustace H. Plimsoll (Ch.6; page 61) °

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.

Eustace H. Plimsoll seems to be the first appearance of the name Plimsoll in the canon: Veronica Wedge’s fiancé, Tipton Plimsoll, first appears in Full Moon (1947).

Bertie seems to have come to grief on Boat Race night a number of times in his career; see The Code of the Woosters.

Alleyn Road exists: it is just round the corner from Acacia Grove, which Norman Murphy [In Search of Blandings] identifies as the setting for most of the Valley Fields novels. It is named for the Elizabethan-era actor Edward Alleyn, founder of Plum’s alma mater Dulwich College. It is curious that on this occasion Bertie chose the middle-class West Dulwich rather than the more obscure East Dulwich normally used for false addresses by the likes of Lord Ickenham (Uncle Dynamite); see Very Good, Jeeves for more.

a solitary steak and fried (Ch.6; page 62?)

Fried potatoes, of course. UK editions from the original 1934 plates have the misprint “friend” here (p. 89). A similar error, “friend potatoes,” was made in the first UK edition of Indiscretions of Archie (1921). [NM]

…measuring me for my lamp-post (Ch.6; page 62)

Dickens introduced English readers to the Parisian practice of hanging people from streetlamps in A Tale of Two Cities.

Number One touring towns (Ch.6; page 62?)

Provincial theaters were ranked by the potential revenue they could return to a touring theatrical company, and managers would cast different troupes of performers to match with different classes of theaters. The best actors would be in the Number One company which would visit the Number One towns, and so on down the line. [NM]

a gesture which had once impressed him very favorably when exhibited on the stage by the hero of the number two company of “The Price of Honor,”

“The Episode of the Financial Napoleon” (1916)

A Number Three company of Grumpy or Sherlock Holmes or Lightnin’ would be worth seeing, but it is impossible to imagine The Cat-Bird without John Drew.

“The New Plays” (1920)

…sprinting down Park Lane with the mob after me with dripping knives (Ch.6; page 62?)

Comrade Prebble, in chapter 15 of Psmith in the City, addresses a crowd on Clapham Common, who “roared with happy laughter when he urged them to march upon Park Lane and loot the same without mercy or scruple.” In “Comrade Bingo” Bingo Little has fallen in love with the daughter of a revolutionary; he tells Bertie: “You must meet old Rowbotham, Bertie. A delightful chap. Wants to massacre the bourgeoisie, sack Park Lane, and disembowel the hereditary aristocracy.” [NM]

thirty miles or so to Bristol (Ch.6; page 63)

This would put us somewhere west of Bridgewater, on the stretch of coast at the northern end of the Quantocks. There is nowhere on this part of the coast with a harbour. Watchet and Minehead would be 40–45 miles from Bristol.

toddling upstairs (Ch.6; page 63)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

heliotrope (Ch.6; page 63)

Name given to flowers that turn to follow the sun, especially heliotropium, and hence also to the rich purple colour of these flowers.

Chapter 7
A Visitor for Bertie

Runs from pp. 64 to 71 in the 1999 Penguin edition

woman wailing for her demon lover (Ch.7; page 67)

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced;
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And ’mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!

The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that done in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834): Kubla Khan

mentally somewhat negligible (Ch.7; page 68?)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

“Tchah!” (Ch.7; page 68?)

This interjection of ”impatience or contempt” [OED] is an alternate spelling of “Pshaw!”; indeed, the Cosmopolitan editor substituted Pshaw! in the US magazine serial.

In both magazines and in the US book, after the first such exclamation, Pauline asks “Have you caught cold?” and Bertie replies “I wasn’t sneezing. I was saying ‘Tchah!’ ” (or ‘Pshaw!’) instead of the simpler “Eh?” and the following line in the UK text. [NM]

the story of the Three Bears (Ch.7; page 69)

This famous story seems to have appeared first in the collection English Fairy Tales (1890), by the Australian-born scholar Joseph Jacobs (1854–1916). In Jacobs’s version it is a little old woman who visits the bears’ cottage; Goldilocks seems to have been added later.

The Story of the Three Bears

had his licence endorsed (Ch.7; page 69)

A motoring reference: before the introduction of “points,” motorists who were convicted of certain types of driving offence had their driving licences endorsed; collecting too many endorsements would lead to revocation or suspension of the licence.

Obviously Bertie doesn’t count being engaged as incompatible with his bachelor status, otherwise he would have lost his licence long ago...

[I have only recently learned that the root meaning of “endorse” (to write on the back of a document) comes from the same Latin root dorsum, meaning “back,” as in dorsal fin. —NM]

stagger humanity (Ch.7; page 71?)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

bowler hat (Ch.7; page 71)

UK magazine and US book substitute synonymous “Derby hat” here; US magazine omits the little tale. Under either name, the appropriate headgear for a butler or valet when out in public.

Portland, Oregon (Ch.7; page 71)

On the West coast of the United States, roughly 2500 miles from New York City.

Chapter 8
Police Persecution

Runs from pp. 72 to 83 in the 1999 Penguin edition

wild surmise, silent upon… (Ch.8; page 72)

This is the third(!) reference to Keats’s famous sonnet, so far in this book (see p. 3 above).

first-floor back (Ch.8; page 72)

In British terminology, the first floor is the first above the ground floor (i.e. what Americans call the second floor). Thus a first-floor back is an upstairs room or apartment, looking out towards the rear of the house.

[In fact, the US book edition substitutes “second-floor back” here. —NM]

more follow-through than ever (Ch.8; page 72?)

Golfers are taught not to stop the swing of the club at the point where it hits the ball on the tee, but to continue the swing through that spot, for increased power in the drive. Figuratively, Bertie means that the knocking has increased in vigor. [NM]

Carterville (Ch.8; page 73)

There are at least twelve different places of this name in the US. Only those in Illinois and Missouri are of appreciable size. There does not appear to be a Carterville in Kentucky, however.

US Geographic Survey query results

roopy (Ch.8; page 74?)

Hoarse or husky of voice. Related to the poultry disease “roup” (see Love Among the Chickens); indeed, the US magazine serial uses the spelling “roupy.” [NM]

Albert Hall (Ch.8; page 75)

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.

as if Nature had intended to make two police sergeants (Ch.8; page 75?)

See Summer Lightning. This sentence is omitted in US magazine and book editions. [NM]

presidential veto (Ch.8; page 76?)

Bertie’s reference to American constitutional law is somewhat unusual for him, but it appears this way in all versions, both British and American. [NM]

the Mail (Ch.8; page 76)

The Daily Mail was established in 1896 by Alfred Harmsworth (1865–1922). The Mail was Britain’s first American-style lowbrow popular newspaper. It was famous for its outspoken criticism of government, especially during the first world war.

Harmsworth became Lord Northcliffe in 1904, and may well have been the original for Wodehouse’s Lord Tilbury.

[Strand serial just says “the paper” here; Cosmopolitan serial omits the passage altogether. —NM]

Unshackle the police (Ch.8; page 76)

See the image at right (thanks to AK for locating it!), from the Daily Mail of April 2, 1932; note the 1929/1930 statistics and the seven per cent increase in violent crime. The Mail item seen by Voules must have been another in a series of announcements of a forthcoming article in the Sunday Dispatch (another Harmsworth paper) of April 3, 1932, or a subsequent summary of the article with more detailed statistics. [NM]

indictable offences (Ch.8; page 76)

Crimes too serious to be tried at a Magistrates’ Court, which have to be referred for trial by jury in a Crown Court.

doss (Ch.8; page 78?)

A principally British slang verb meaning to sleep, especially in a makeshift way or at a cheap lodging house. [NM]

sofa … Noah’s (Ch.8; page 78)

Bertie is using “Noah” to stand for “antediluvian” (which literally means before the Flood).

There is no biblical authority for the idea that Noah took a sofa with him in the Ark. As he would hardly have been likely to cater for unexpected overnight guests, it seems at least implausible.

See also Biblia Wodehousiana.

trickled down the stairs (Ch.8; page 78?)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

The point is pretty moot (Ch.8; page 79)

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. Bertie might equally be using the phrase with its American meaning, of something that is only of academic interest, not relevant to the outcome of the present case – both would fit.

[However, in Chapter 13, below, Bertie clearly uses it in the “debatable but relevant” sense. —NM]

gardener-by-the-day (Ch.8; page 80)

A part-time worker, in modern terms.

Widgeon Seven (Ch.8; page 80)

See Summer Moonshine.

deep-delved earth (Ch.8; page 80?)

Bertie is employing humorously literary language to describe the soil dug up by the gardener. The phrase comes from Keats, in his Ode to a Nightingale: [NM]

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
 Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
 Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!

if the mixture wasn’t a shade too rich (Ch.8; page 80?)

Since Bertie has just come from the garage, there is a suspicion of a double meaning here. Of course Wodehouse is a master at describing mixtures of scents (see The Inimitable Jeeves), and that is certainly the primary intent of the passage. But in earlier days of automobiles, drivers had to be aware of the mixture of fuel and air created by the carburetor and burned in the engine cylinders, and adjustments to the carb and to choke and throttle controls were frequently needed; a too-rich mixture would be wasteful of fuel and cause uneven idling as well as carbon buildup in the cylinders. I may be reading too much into this, as Wodehouse was not an experienced motorist or mechanic. [NM]

as a babe or suckling (Ch.8; page 83?)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Nosey Parkers (Ch.8; page 83)

Although the term ‘Nosey Parker’, applied to overly-inquisitive persons, is in common use, its origins are unclear. The first instances recorded in the OED dates from an 1890 magazine story and an 1896 news article; cited in 1907 is a picture post card with the caption ‘The adventures of Nosey Parker’; another entry in the OED is from Wodehouse’s Something Fresh (1915). [citations updated 2016 from OED Third Edition online —NM]

Partridge (A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English) notes that, according to the OED, ‘nosey’ on its own dates from 1851, and ‘parker’, a rabbit living in a park, from 1846, and quotes a suggestion that it may have arisen at the time of the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park, when the huge crowds of inquiring visitors could have attracted correspondingly large numbers of Peeping Toms and eavesdroppers. Another theory links the phrase to Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury at the time of Elizabeth I, who was noted for his enquiring attitude concerning church affairs.

Chapter 9
Lovers’ Meetings

Runs from pp. 84 to 93 in the 1999 Penguin edition.

The chapter title is certainly a reference to the famous song from Twelfth Night:

O mistress mine, where are you roaming?
O stay and hear! your true-love’s coming
That can sing both high and low;
Trip no further, pretty sweeting,
Journeys end in lovers’ meeting
Every wise man’s son doth know.

What is love? ’tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What’s to come is still unsure:
In delay there lies no plenty,
Then come kiss me, Sweet-and-twenty,
Youth’s a stuff will not endure.

Shakespeare: Twelfth Night II:3
See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse for more references to this passage.

It has been well said of Bertram Wooster… (Ch.9; page 84)

See The Code of the Woosters.

It seemed too jolly to think that he was dead (Ch.9; page 84?)

This is about as harsh as Bertie’s opinions of his fellow man ever get. [NM]

mix himself a final spot and turn in (Ch.9; page 84?)

That is, take a drink before bedtime. The OED citations for the sense of “spot” as a serving of liquor go back only to 1917, and the second citation is from Wodehouse in Laughing Gas, ch. 9 (1936). [NM]

bump-supper (Ch.9; page 86)

This is to do with “eights week,” the inter-college rowing competition in Oxford University. As the river Isis (elsewhere known as the Thames, don’t ask why...) at Oxford isn’t wide enough for two eights to race side by side, the boats of all the various colleges set off equally spaced in line astern.

If the bow of your boat catches up with the stern of the boat ahead, you are said to have “bumped” them, and you move up one place in the line in the following day’s race. The aim is to end up at the “head of the river” at the end of the week. A bump-supper is a celebration of such a victory. Traditionally the winning boat is ceremonially burnt in the quad – these days they’re rather too expensive for that.

college fountain (Ch.9; page 86)

As Norman Murphy points out, Bertie normally claims to have been at Magdalen, which does not have a fountain. The other plausible candidate for someone of Bertie’s wealth and aristocratic connections is Christ Church, which does have a famous fountain with a statue of Mercury.

In Right Ho, Jeeves, Bertie is said to have cycled round the quad in the nude after a bump-supper: it isn’t clear whether this was directly after his dip in the fountain, or on a different occasion.

Whackers (Ch.9; page 87?)

A contraction of “whacking big ones”; see The Inimitable Jeeves.

when reason returned to her throne (Ch.9; page 87?)

As before, see Hot Water.

frog’s march (Ch.9; page 87)

See the Word Histories blog.

amour-propre (Ch.9; page 87)

Self-respect (French)

leaving not a wrack (Ch.9; page 88)

The OED tells us that this phrase results from a misprint in Shakespeare’s Tempest iv. i. 156: “The great Globe it selfe shall dissolue, And Leaue not a racke behinde.” Shakespeare was using the now obsolete sense of rack to mean ‘mist or fog’ (what one might plausibly expect to find if a planet has dissolved), but in some editions the word ‘wrack’ (ruin, remains) was substituted.

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse for a fuller discussion and more references by Wodehouse to this passage.

took off my boots (Ch.9; page 88?)

North American readers may think of boots only as heavy footwear specialized for bad weather or for such activities as riding, fishing, skiing, and the like; they may not be aware of the British distinction between boots and shoes in everyday footwear: the upper leather of a boot extends just above the ankle, whereas a shoe fits entirely below the ankle. [NM]

hanging cupboard (Ch.9; page 88?)

Probably a stand-alone piece of furniture for hanging clothes, such as a wardrobe or armoire; or possibly a built-in clothes closet, which can also be referred to by this name, but is less likely in a country cottage. [NM]

eyes were protruding from one to two inches (Ch.9; page 89?)

Many of Wodehouse’s characters are described as having protruding eyes; in some this condition seems to be their normal state. In other cases, as here and as in chapter 21 below, surprise or incredulity makes the eyes stand out more than usual: [NM]

Pugsy, startled out of his wonted calm by the arrival of this distinguished company, observed the pair, as they passed through into the inner office, with protruding eyes, and sat speechless for a full five minutes.

Psmith, Journalist, ch. 25 (1915)

Mr. Bennett peered at Sam with protruding eyes which gave him the appearance of a rather unusually stout prawn.

The Girl on the Boat, ch. 9.2 (1922)

Sigsbee H. … was staring at his daughter with protruding eyes.

The Small Bachelor, ch. 5.2 (1926)

Mr. Waddington’s eyes were now protruding to such a dangerous extent that a sharp jerk would have caused them to drop off.

The Small Bachelor, ch. 12 (1926)

His uncle’s eyes were protruding rather like those of a nameless creeping frog.

“Came the Dawn” (1927; in Meet Mr. Mulliner, 1927)

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; in Meet Mr. Mulliner, 1927)

“You have observed his walrus moustache, his double chin, his protruding eyes.”

“The Romance of a Bulb-Squeezer” (1927; in Meet Mr. Mulliner, 1927)

Lady Constance sat rigid in her chair. Her fine eyes were now protruding slightly, and her face was drawn.

Summer Lightning, ch. 1.2 (1929)

Sir Gregory pushed his eyes back into their sockets a split second before they would have bulged out of his head beyond recovery.

Summer Lightning, ch. 7.2 (1929)

He [Freddie] did not immediately leap upon Jos. Waterbury, but stood clenching and unclenching his fists, while his protruding eyes sought out soft spots in the man.

“The Masked Troubadour” (1936; in Lord Emsworth and Others, 1937)

His eyes came out of his head like a snail’s

Tipton Plimsoll in Full Moon, ch. 3.4 (1947)

Lord Shortlands started … and his eyes seemed to be suspended at the end of stalks, like those of a snail or prawn.

Spring Fever, ch. 10 (1948)

His eyes, as always in times of emotion, were protruding, and at the sight of his daughter they protruded still further.

Lord Shortlands in Spring Fever, ch. 15 (1948)

Lady Bostock’s eyes were already bulging to almost their maximum extent, but at these words they managed to protrude a little further.

Uncle Dynamite, ch. 5.2 (1948)

Bill’s method … was to turn bright vermilion and allow his eyes to protrude like a snail’s.

Uncle Dynamite, ch. 8.2 (1948)

He broke off, leaping in the old familiar way, his eyes protruding from their sockets.

Smedley Cork in The Old Reliable, ch. 9 (1951)

Gally … was experiencing the quiet satisfaction of the raconteur who sees that his story is going well. A good audience, Beach and these two young people, he felt. Just the right hushed silence, and the eyes protruding just the correct distance from their sockets.

Pigs Have Wings, ch. 11.2 (1952)

With eyes protruding to their fullest extent he stared at this fair-haired, rather pretty girl, and noted that her charms had become enhanced by a flush which, in his opinion, was most attractive. Many girls, even in these sophisticated days, find themselves flushing when human snails halt beside the table where they are lunching and stand goggling at them with their eyes sticking six inches out of the parent sockets.

Bill Hollister and Jane Benedick in Something Fishy, ch. 10 (1957)

The Duke’s eyes were protruding like a snail’s.

Service With a Smile, ch. 11.1 (1961)

[Bingo] sat gazing at it with his eyes protruding in the manner popularized by snails…

“Bingo Bans the Bomb” (1965; in Plum Pie, 1966/67)

‘It’s the most extraordinary thing that you, admittedly one of the smallest little pipsqueaks that ever broke biscuit, should have eyes more fitted to a girl of twice your stature. They bulge from their sockets.’

Algy Martyn to Jane Martyn in Company for Henry, ch. 1.4 (1967)

demon lover (Ch.9; page 89)

Coleridge again – see p. 67 above.

sore as a gumboil (Ch.9; page 90?)

An infected sore or inflammation on the gums in the mouth.

simp (Ch.9; page 90?)

Colloquial short version of “simpleton”; earliest OED citation is from 1903 as circus-workers’ slang for an easy mark. [NM]

barefoot dancer … The Vision of Salome (Ch.9; page 90)

The Canadian dancer Maud Allan or Maude Allen (1873–1956), who went in for barefoot “Greek dancing,” toured Europe with a very successful dance version of Wilde’s Salome under the title The Vision of Salome in 1906. It seems to have been banned in a large proportion of the cities where it was performed. [Cf. Lady Pauline Wetherby in Uneasy Money. —NM]

See also Biblia Wodehousiana.

the word in season (Ch.9; page 90)

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

Bible: Proverbs 15:23

Wodehouse titled a 1940 short story “The Word in Season”; it was substantially revised for A Few Quick Ones (1959). [NM]

Tennyson … Norman blood (Ch.9; page 90)

Howe’er it be, it seems to me,
  ’T is only noble to be good. 
Kind hearts are more than coronets,
  And simple faith than Norman blood.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892): Lady Clara Vere de Vere, 7

signing off (Ch.9; page 90?)

The OED cites Wodehouse as the first to use “sign off” to mean to stop doing something, from “Those in Peril on the Tee” (1927; in Mr. Mulliner Speaking, 1929):

“If you’re trying to propose to me, sign off.”

The original sense of the phrase was from radio, to announce the end of a transmission or a broadcast, dating from 1910. [NM]

borrowing other people’s speak (Ch.9; page 91)

This is a misprint in the Penguin/Vintage editions. The complete text, with line-breaks as in earlier editions, reads:

… climbing into cottages and borrowing other people’s
pyjamas, and then, when she has come to journey’s end, so to
speak, and is expecting the tender smile …

The Penguin compositors have simply dropped a line. [And a significant one, too, as “journey’s end” recalls the Twelfth Night quotation at the start of the notes for this chapter. —NM]

the raspberry (Ch.9; page 91)

See A Damsel in Distress.

Saint Sebastian (Ch.9; page 91)

An early Christian martyr, according to legend a Roman soldier who was executed by being shot through with arrows. Medieval paintings usually show him with so many arrows piercing him from different directions that one feels the firing squad must have been at serious risk of shooting each other. [Mark’s point is well illustrated by this 1506 painting by Andrea Mantegna. —NM]

toes wiggling (Ch.9; page 92)

Cf. Psmith in the City, Ch.23 (Mr. Bickersdyke has been bearded by Psmith in the Turkish Bath): “…his toes wriggled. And when a man’s toes wriggle, he is interested in what you are saying.”

this world or the next (Ch.9; page 92?)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

Black Berkshires (Ch.9; page 93)

The Empress of Blandings, who first appeared in “Pig-hoo-o-o-o-ey!” (1927), is of course a black Berkshire sow.

Photo of Berkshire sow and piglets

Uncle Henry (Ch.9; page 93)

In “Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch” we were told that he kept eleven pet rabbits in his bedroom.

“Are you hurt?” … “Yes” … “Good” (Ch.9; page 93)

In Blandings stories, young men falling downstairs normally (unless they are Baxter) bring out the “ministering angel” tendency in their estranged girlfriends. Pauline is clearly made of sterner stuff. Or the staircase isn’t high enough to do serious damage…

sack of coals (Ch.9; page 93)

In many older houses, coal was kept in the cellar. A chute was provided to allow the stock to be replenished by tipping it in from outside without carrying coal through the house. The delivery of coal would be accompanied by suitably spectacular noises.

Chapter 10
Another Visitor

Runs from pp. 94 to 101 in the 1999 Penguin edition.

the male half of the sketch (Ch.10; page 94)

Bertie is once again resorting to theatrical jargon; in this sense, a sketch is a short stage piece with a small cast, typically a single item in a revue or vaudeville program. From Bertie’s point of view, Chuffy and Pauline are seen as actors and Bertie as the audience in the preceding scene. [NM]

Daniel in the lions’ den (Ch.10; page 94)

16 Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.
17 And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.
18 Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep went from him.
19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.
20 And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?
21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.
22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.
23 Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.
24 And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.

Bible: Daniel 6:16–24

See also Biblia Wodehousiana.

the permanent air (Ch.10; page 95)

To give someone the air is to throw them out.

Two loving hearts sundered for ever—bingo! (Ch.10; page 96?)

Bing! as an exclamation indicating that something happened suddenly predates the invention of the game of Bingo (1929); for instance:

“He either does something, or forgets to take something into his calculations, with the result that, bing! he’s copped.

“Concealed Art” (1915)

After the numbered-card game gained wide popularity, the interjection bing! was often modified to bingo!, as here. [NM]

giving each other the bird (Ch.10; page 97?)

Not, of course, the rude hand gesture recently called by that name, but a rejection, deriving from theatrical slang for hissing by an audience: see Leave It to Psmith. [NM]

The whole binge was irrevocably off. (Ch.10; page 97?)

See The Code of the Woosters.

a healing beaker (Ch.10; page 97?)

Bertie is just one of many Wodehouse characters who look upon alcoholic beverages as healing or restorative. [NM]

Staccato (Ch.10; page 98?)

An Italian term used in music to denote that the individual notes in a musical phrase are played for shorter than their usual duration in order that there is a clear separation between succeeding notes. Here used figuratively to refer to short, crisp sentences in the letter. [NM]

a refreshing slumber would be my portion (Ch.10; page 98?)

At root, portion means one’s allocated share in something that has been divided; from its use in wills and estates to mean one’s share of an inheritance, it took on the figurative meaning of one’s destiny or fate. [NM]

to ankle upstairs (Ch.10; page 98?)

The OED first records the verb as slang for “to walk” from a 1926 Wise-crack Dictionary then cites the 1930 Wodehouse/Ian Hay play Baa, Baa, Black Sheep and PGW’s 1932 Hot Water. [NM]

wind and weather permitting (Ch.10; page 98?)

The phrase is found in maritime law and ships’ timetables in its literal sense: if the prevailing conditions make a voyage possible. Wodehouse may have found it in a literary context in Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821):

The late Duke of Norfolk used to say, “Next Monday, wind and weather permitting, I purpose to be merry”

Early editions have “by the blessing of Heaven” in place of this phrase and “drunk” instead of “merry”; the version above seems to be from a bowdlerized source, a book of quotations for students.

In any event, Wodehouse found the phrase useful on many occasions; it can be found as early as 1901 in “The Ways We Have: Dulwich” and 1904 in “The Baronet’s Redemption” and “Blenkinsop’s Benefit”, and later in Three Men and a Maid / The Girl on the Boat, this novel, Joy in the Morning, “The Shadow Passes,” Pigs Have Wings, Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit / Bertie Wooster Sees It Through, Service With a Smile, and probably several others not found in a scattered search. [NM]

a life-giving snort (Ch.10; page 98?)

Yet another reference to the medicinal value of a whisky-and-soda. For snort, see Very Good, Jeeves. [NM]

‘I have only one daughter’ (Ch.10; page 99)

This is one of those famous inconsistencies – in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1963), we meet Pauline’s younger sister, Emerald, who has to take a job as a cook when she loses her allowance on the horses.

There are various possible explanations, of which the most charitable is perhaps the assumption that the hard-boiled J. Washburn Stoker does not let himself be distracted by irrelevancies as readily as Bertie, and means “I have only one daughter here in Chuffnell Regis.”

phlegm (Ch.10; page 99)

Not in the current sense of “mucus” but rather the calmness of one of the classical Four Temperaments; see Right Ho, Jeeves. [NM]

‘She regards me as a sister.’ (Ch.10; page 99)

Of course, we are supposed to assume that Bertie means “…as a sister [would regard me].” But Wodehouse has evidently left the ambiguity in on purpose, so that we can have a laugh at Bertie’s verbal confusion, and at the same time reflect that Bertie’s role is in many ways more that of a sister or female friend than a brother.

returned to my spot (Ch.10; page 100)

When we first read this sentence, we assume ‘spot’ means the place where Bertie had been before Stoker came in. However, the next couple of sentences upset this hypothesis, and we are have to go back and read it again before we realise that Bertie means “A spot of whisky-and-soda.”

A child could have played with him (Ch.10; page 100?)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Something attempted, something done, had earned a night’s repose (Ch.10; page 101?)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

an egg … a rasher … pot of coff (Ch.10; page 101)

Breakfast: eggs, bacon, and coffee. “Pot of coff” sounds as though it might be waiters’ shorthand.

joie de vivre (Ch.10; page 101)

French: joy of being alive, happiness.

Chapter 11
Sinister Behaviour of a Yacht-Owner

Runs from pp. 102 to 113 in the 1999 Penguin edition

gone to the mat together (Ch.11; page 102)

Wrestlers go to the mat when they fight.

“I Lift Up my Finger and I Say Tweet-Tweet” (Ch.11; page 102)

Seems to have been one of the big hits of 1929, written by Leslie Sarony for the London musical comedy Love Lies, and recorded by Stanley Lupino and the Gaiety Theatre Orchestra (amongst others).

Stanley Lupino’s record

A more musical rendition from Jack Hylton and his orchestra (also 1929)


“Body and Soul” (Ch.11; page 102)

Song from 1930, music by Johnny Green and lyrics by Edward Heyman, Robert Sour, and Frank Eyton. First performed in the UK by Gertrude Lawrence. Later used in the show “Three’s a Crowd,” where it was sung by Libby Holman and became a big hit for her. Many famous jazz musicians have recorded it since then.

in irons (Ch.11; page 102)

Naval term for detention aboard ship. Did not necessarily mean that the prisoner was manacled.

not the first time he had said that sort of thing (Ch.11; page 102?)

See “Scoring Off Jeeves” and “Bertie Changes His Mind.” [NM]

yestreen (Ch.11; page 103)

Scots word for ‘yesterday evening.’ Frequently used by Burns.

I gaed a waefu’ gate yestreen,
  A gate, I fear, I’ll dearly rue;
I gat my death frae twa sweet een,
  Twa lovely een o’bonie blue.

Robert Burns: Song (I gaed a waefu’ gate yestreen) 1–4

mangle a spot of garbage (Ch.11; page 106)

Have dinner. Presumably Bertie is paraphrasing Stoker’s words rather freely here!

Don’t dress. (Ch.11; page 106)

In other words, formal (white tie) or semi-formal (black tie, =tuxedo) evening wear is not required; an ordinary daytime lounge suit will be sufficient. [NM]

cats in the bedroom … purloined hat (Ch.11; page 106–07)

See “Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch”; also in The Inimitable Jeeves as two chapters: “Introducing Claude and Eustace/Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch.”

hot-water bottle episode (Ch.11; page 106–07)

See “Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit” (1927; in Very Good, Jeeves, 1930).

something which for the moment has escaped my memory (Ch.11; page 107?)

Of course Jeeves’s memory is perfectly reliable; he uses this formula as a polite way of avoiding repeating distasteful language. Compare: [NM]

 “What did he say about your appearance?”
 “I have forgotten, sir,” said Jeeves, with a touch of austerity. “But it was opprobrious.”

“The Purity of the Turf” (1922; in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923)

arbiter elegantiarum (Ch.11; page 107)

Latin: the judge of propriety or taste. A title originally applied by Tacitus to the Latin poet Gaius Petronius (? – 66 CE), who was an official in Nero’s household and is presumed to be the author of the Satyricon.

amende honorable (Ch.11; page 107)

In medieval France, this was a ceremony of public humiliation reserved for people who had committed certain serious offences. Later the term came to be used for a public apology and acknowledgement of guilt. In modern English it more often means a tangible (rather than symbolic) act of reconciliation. Jeeves seems to be talking only about this meaning.

olive branch (Ch.11; page 107?)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

as fit as a fiddle (Ch.11; page 108?)

Proverbial expression for being in good health or condition; the OED has citations from the early seventeenth century. Wodehouse had used it as early as Something New/Something Fresh in 1915. In Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen (1974), Aunt Dahlia says that Bertie has “always been as fit as ten fiddles.” [NM]

‘What is This Thing Called Love?’ (Ch.11; page 109)

Music and lyrics by Cole Porter, from the show Wake up and Dream (1929).

1929 recording by Leslie Hutchison

with my hair in a braid (Ch.11; page 110?)

See The Mating Season.

a passing salt (Ch.11; page 110)

A seaman. More the sort of term for the crew of a Conradian tramp steamer than the pampered personnel of a luxury yacht, of course.

ozone (Ch.11; page 110?)

See The Girl on the Boat.

one grand, sweet song (Ch.11; page 110?)

Charles Kingsley (1819–1875)

My fairest child, I have no song to give you,
No lark could sing ’neath skies so dull and gray,
But, if you will, a quiet hint I’ll give you
For every day, for every day.

I’ll teach you how to sing a clearer carol
Than lark that hails the dawn or breezy down;
To win yourself a purer poet’s laurel
Than Shakspere’s crown.

Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever.
Do noble things, not dream them all day long;
And so make life, death, and that vast forever
One grand, sweet song.

Wodehouse has young Harold memorizing this poem in “Keeping It from Harold” (1913). [NM]

perpetual vice president (Ch.11; page 110?)

Many clubs and civic organizations reserve the office of president as a quasi-honorary post for individuals of wealth or standing in the community, who are elected for short terms as much to lend dignity and publicity to the organization as to get any actual work done. In these groups, there may be other officers who continue in lesser positions year after year to do the administrative work; so here “perpetual vice president” indicates one who is the active power behind the throne and who knows and does everything that needs to be known and done. [NM]

stern and rockbound old Pilgrim Father (Ch.11; page 110?)

An allusion to a poem; see Blandings Castle and Elsewhere.

turned the food to ashes in my mouth (Ch.11; page 111?)

See The Code of the Woosters.

interested, elevated, and amused (Ch.11; page 112?)

See Leave It to Psmith.

Cowes (Ch.11; page 112)

Cowes is a town on the Isle of Wight. Cowes Week, a yachting regatta that takes place there in early August, has long been firmly established as one of the important social events of the summer season for the English upper classes. Wealthy people invite guests for the week to watch the racing from their private yachts.

they can’t get away so easy… (Ch.11; page 112?)

Perhaps Wodehouse is thinking of his experience on the Dorinda here?

Wodehouse: Bring On the Girls (1953/54), collected in Wodehouse on Wodehouse (1980) BOTG Ch.8

Chapter 12
Start Smearing, Jeeves!

Runs from pp. 113 to 124 in the 1999 Penguin edition

to follow the scenario (Ch.12; page 113)

To make any sense of the plot or situation; here “scenario” is an outline of the action of a novel, play, or film. [NM]

“The Masked Seven” (Ch.12; page 113)

For once, no one other than Wodehouse seems to have used this title.

one of those goose-fleshers (Ch.12; page 113)

See The Code of the Woosters.

Drexdale Yeats (Ch.12; page 113)

The Crockers in Piccadilly Jim live in Drexdale House on Grosvenor Square during their spell in London. The name Drexdale doesn’t appear to occur anywhere else. It is not a UK placename (the nearest seems to be Drax, in East Yorkshire).

Drexdale Yeats might be a variant of ‘Sexton Blake,’ the fictional detective created for Alfred Harmsworth’s Halfpenny Marvel Library in 1893. It has been estimated that Blake appeared in 3848 stories by 177 different writers over the years.

It also sounds a little as though it might be a nod towards Wodehouse’s fellow comic writer, ‘Dornford Yates’ (Cecil William Mercer, 1885–1960), author of the ‘Chandos’ thrillers as well as the comic stories featuring Berry Pleydell and his friends.

my case was more or less on all fours with his (Ch.12; page 113)

The OED defines “to be on all fours with” as “to exhibit an exact analogy or comparison”; citations begin in 1860 in a Parliamentary report. [NM]

cold storage (Ch.12; page 113?)

Before compact cooling equipment made home freezers practical, consumers could rent lockers within “cold storage” warehouses in which the entire building was kept at freezing temperatures. (I can remember our family buying a quantity of butchered beef which was stored in such a locker in the early 1960s.) Items in cold storage were not as readily accessible as fresh foods in one’s own kitchen, of course, and by analogy “cold storage” became a slang term for a prison; Green’s Dictionary of Slang cites a 1935 definition in A. J. Pollock’s The Underworld Speaks. [NM]

fiend-in-human-shape-y (Ch.12; page 114?)

See The Mating Season.

old crusted port (Ch.12; page 114?)

Port wine that has been aged in the bottle long enough to deposit a sediment. [NM]

He knocked the ash carefully off his cigar. I didn’t need to do it to mine. (Ch.12; page 115?)

A very subtle way of implying that Bertie’s hand was shaky! I am told by cigar connoisseurs that part of the ritual of relaxing with a cigar is seeing how long the burnt segment of ash can be maintained before it falls off, a discipline which encourages steady hands and slow movements. [NM]

You can’t reel when you’re sitting on a bed. (Ch.12; page 115?)

See Ice in the Bedroom.

solar plexus (Ch.12; page 115?)

See third button, p. 160 below.

Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright (Ch.12; page 117?)

As far as I can tell, this is the first time this member of the Drones Club is mentioned. His name comes up again in Right Ho, Jeeves, ch. 22, and The Luck of the Bodkins, ch. 3. His first actual appearance is in “The Masked Troubadour” (1936; in Lord Emsworth and Others, 1937), and he plays a major role in The Mating Season (1949) and other later books.

Oliver Sipperley (Ch.12; page 119)

See “Without the Option” (Bertie was let off with a fine, but Sippy had to spend a couple of weeks as a guest of His Majesty).

life sentence (Ch.12; page 119?)

In most other cases in Wodehouse, this has its usual meaning of a prison term without parole. Bertie uses it once again with the meaning of an unwanted marriage: [NM]

“If it’s a choice between serving a life sentence under Florence and sewing a mailbag or two, give me the mailbags every time.”

Much Obliged, Jeeves, ch. 16 (1971)

picking at the coverlet (Ch.12; page 120?)

See The Mating Season.

the wings of a dove (Ch.12; page 120)

This is one of the most popular pieces from Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah, but this passage has its origins in words written earlier by the great English hymn writer, William Cowper in his poem on Alexander Selkirk, the original of Robinson Crusoe.

Society, Friendship, and Love  
Divinely bestow’d upon man,  
Oh had I the wings of a dove  
How soon would I taste you again!
My sorrows I then might assuage  
In the ways of religion and truth,  
Might learn from the wisdom of age,  
And be cheer’d by the sallies of youth.

William Cowper: Alexander Selkirk 17–24

See Biblia Wodehousiana for the probable Biblical source.

You can lead a horse to the altar (Ch.12; page 120)

The usual form of the proverb is “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”

The Roman emperor Caligula made his horse Incitatus a priest and consul, which could perhaps be seen as a precedent for leading horses to the altar!

the poet Pope… (Ch.12; page 122)

…(Alexander Pope, 1688–1744) said many things about women’s characters, most of them unflattering. It is hard to guess what Jeeves is thinking of here, though of the list in Bartlett perhaps “Woman’s at best a contradiction still.” (Moral Essays, II, 270) might be the most pertinent.

straws in your hair (Ch.12; page 122?)

See Bill the Conqueror.

turned my face to the wall (Ch.12; page 123?)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

off his onion (Ch.12; page 123)

See Sam the Sudden.

squiffiness (Ch.12; page 123)


create the illusion … that you were a member of this troupe (Ch.12; page 123)

As the real minstrels would almost certainly be white men in black make-up themselves, this disguise would not be as flimsy as one might think.

he lived largely on fish, thus causing his brain to be about as full… (Ch.12; page 124?)

See Very Good, Jeeves.

Others abide our question. Thou art free. (Ch.12; page 124)

Matthew Arnold’s sonnet in praise of Shakespeare appears rather less often in Wodehouse than Keats’s in praise of Chapman, but from Bertie’s point of view it is a not inappropriate tribute to Jeeves.

Others abide our question. Thou art free.  
We ask and ask: Thou smilest and art still,  
Out-topping knowledge. For the loftiest hill  
That to the stars uncrowns his majesty,  
Planting his steadfast footsteps in the sea,  
Making the heaven of heavens his dwelling-place,  
Spares but the cloudy border of his base  
To the foil’d searching of mortality;  
And thou, who didst the stars and sunbeams know,  
Self-school’d, self-scann’d, self-honour’d, self-secure,  
Didst walk on earth unguess’d at. Better so!  
All pains the immortal spirit must endure,  
  All weakness that impairs, all griefs that bow,  
  Find their sole voice in that victorious brow.  

Matthew Arnold (1822–1888): Shakespeare
See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse for more references to this sonnet.

Chapter 13
A Valet Exceeds His Duties

Runs from pp. 125 to 137 in the 1999 Penguin edition

The stars twinkled above … a few minutes after nine (Ch.13; page 125–6)

See note at p. 17, above. Either Bertie’s watch was slow or British Summer Time (same as Daylight Saving Time in US) was not being observed in the vicinity. Sunset for BST would be 9:22 pm and dusk would end at 10:06 pm. [NM]

Greta Garbo (Ch.13; page 126)

Greta Garbo (born Greta Gustafsson, 1905–1990), the most famously beautiful film actress of the period. In 1932–3 she had returned from Sweden to Hollywood to make Queen Christina.

Dean Inge (Ch.13; page 126)

William Ralph Inge (1860–1954) was Dean of St. Paul’s from 1911 to 1934. He was well-known in his day as a gloomy and reactionary commentator on politics in the Evening Standard, although he is now best remembered (except by those who compile dictionaries of quotations) as a liberal theologian.

(If you want to imagine him in black-face, the link below takes you to the Laszlo portrait in the National Portrait Gallery.)

next train to London (Ch.13; page 127)

Once again, this suggests Watchet or Minehead, on the West Somerset branch of the GWR. This line makes a big loop to the south to join the main line to Bristol and London (Paddington) at Norton Fitzwarren near Taunton (avoiding the Quantocks): the coast between Bridgwater and Watchet never had a rail service. The West Somerset branch is now operated as a museum line by railway enthusiasts, so visitors can experience it much as it was in Bertie’s day.

Bridgwater and Burnham-on-Sea were served by the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway, offering an alternative route to London (Waterloo).

drives nails into the back of his neck instead of using a collar stud (Ch.13; page 127)

Lord Ickenham makes this claim about the Duke of Dunstable in Uncle Fred in the Springtime (1939). [NM]

the 10.21 (Ch.13; page 127)

Nowadays, the last train from Taunton with a connection to London is at 21.27 (summer 2002). The journey between Taunton and London generally takes between two and a half and three and a half hours. Speeds on the section between London and Bristol have improved considerably since the thirties, so Bertie’s train would have been unlikely to do it in less than three hours.

From ‘Chuffnell Regis’ to Taunton, it is probably reasonable to add on another hour, so Bertie could scarcely have been back in London before three in the morning.

as long as the wheels revolve and it trickles from point to point (Ch.13; page 127?)

Bertie usually uses trickle in reference to walking, as at the end of Chapter 16; see The Inimitable Jeeves. This entire phrase is omitted in the US first edition. [NM]

sitting-room … lounge-hall (Ch.13; page 129)

These expressions of course raise the spectre of the “U and non-U” debate of the fifties. In a small cottage, it would have been absurd to talk about a drawing-room, (which Professor Ross would consider the U term) so Bertie uses the rather neutral term sitting-room. A working-class family living in a cottage would probably have talked about the front room, best room, or parlour.

Lounge is supposed to be very non-U, except when referring to hotels. However, Bertie clearly feels happy with the compound lounge-hall, which presumably implies that as well as acting as a sitting-room, the room contains the front door and the stairs to the upper floor.

[See Noblesse Oblige, edited by Nancy Mitford]

stewed to the gills (Ch.13; page 130?)

Very drunk; see Right Ho, Jeeves.

Five-Year-Planner (Ch.13; page 130?)

The Soviet government under Joseph Stalin instituted a series of five-year plans for organizing the national economy under central bureaucratic control; the first of these, in 1928–32, failed to meet its ambitious goals and is widely blamed for massive famines. [NM]

“Lor lumme!” (Ch.13; page 130?)

Though Brinkley is capable of clear and precise speech, as in his dialogue with Sergeant Voules a few pages later, this colloquial variant on “Lord love me!” seems to suggest that his native speech was that of the lower classes. Various forms of the exclamation of surprise or exasperation are recorded from the early eighteenth century onward in the OED. [NM]

my bed had not been slept in (Ch.13; page 132?)

See Summer Lightning.

a teetotal Girl Guide (Ch.13; page 132?)

Since the Girl Guides are the British equivalent of Girl Scouts in America, describing one as “teetotal” (that is, abstaining from alcoholic beverages) seems to be a humorous redundancy. [NM]

one of the biggest toots in history (Ch.13; page 132?)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

the departure de luxe (Ch.13; page 134?)

The French origin of the phrase (literally “of luxury”) is emphasized in several ways here: with italics, in the two-word spelling, and by using the adjective phrase following the noun as is typical in French. Modern usage, at least in America, would substitute “the deluxe departure”; the one-word adjective has not so far been found in Wodehouse’s writings. [NM]

cats on hot bricks (Ch.13; page 135?)

See The Girl in Blue.

a very moot point (Ch.13; page 135?)

Unlike the earlier usage, it is clear in this instance that Bertie is using the British sense of the phrase for something which might be decided either way but is crucial, not merely of academic interest. [NM]

genial glow (Ch.13; page 135?)

A common phrase in poetic descriptions of nature, summer sunshine, and the like:

The wildest glen, but this, can show
Some touch of Nature’s genial glow;

Sir Walter Scott: The Lord of the Isles, III, xiv (1815)

Culloden, on thy swarthy brow
 Spring no wild-flowers nor verdure fair;
Thou feel’st not summer’s genial glow,
 More than the freezing wintry air.

John Grieve (1781–1836): Culloden: Lochiel’s Farewell

The willows droop,
The alders stoop,
The pheasants group
 Beneath the snow.
The catkins green
Cast o’er the scene
A summer’s sheen,
 A genial glow.

Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862): “A Winter Scene”

The chill embargo of the snow
Was melted in the genial glow;

John Greenleaf Whittier: “Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl” (1866)

Given this pastoral background, Wodehouse used the term ironically for the heat of a burning building a few times, as here. [NM]

…the roof fell in, sending up a shower of sparks and causing a genial glow to play about our cheeks.

Joy in the Morning, ch. 10 (1946), as the cottage Wee Nooke goes up in flames

“I remember waking up and feeling a sort of genial glow and seeing flames leaping hither and thither about the bedchamber, but it didn’t occur to me that there was anything I could do about it…”

Mervyn Potter, after smoking in bed in Barmy in Wonderland, ch. 1 (1952)

dropping like the gentle dew upon the place beneath (Ch.13; page 135)

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
’T is mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s,
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.

Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice IV:i
See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse for more references to this passage.

Robinson Crusoe … Credit and Debit account (Ch.13; page 136)

I now began seriously to consider my Condition, and the Circumstances I was reduc’d to, and I drew up the State of my Affairs in Writing, not so much to leave them to any that were to come after me, for I was like to have but few Heirs, as to deliver my Thoughts from daily poring upon them, and afflicting my Mind; and as my Reason began now to master my Despondency, I began to comfort myself as well as I could, and to set the good against the Evil, that I might have something to distinguish my Case from worse, and I stated it very impartially, like Debtor and Creditor, the Comfort I enjoy’d, against the Miseries I suffer’d, thus:

I am cast upon an horrible desolate Island; void of all hope of Recovery. But I am alive, and not drown’d, as all my Ship’s Company was.
I am singled out and separated, as it were, from all the World, to be miserable. But I am singled out too from all the Ship’s Crew to be spared from Death; and he that miraculously saved me from Death, can deliver me from this Condition.
I am divided from Mankind, a Solitary, one banish’d from human Society. But I am not starv’d, and perishing on a barren Place, affording no Sustenance.
I have no Cloaths to cover me. But I am in an hot Climate, where if I had Cloaths, I could hardly wear them.
I am without any Defence or Means to resist any Violence of Man or Beast. But I am cast on an Island where I see no wild Beasts to hurt me, as I saw on the Coast of Africa: And what if I had been shipwreck’d there?
I have no Soul to speak to, or relieve me. But God wonderfully sent the Ship in near enough to the Shore, that I have gotten out so many necessary Things as will either supply my Wants, or enable me to supply myself, even as long as I live.

Upon the whole, here was an undoubted Testimony, that there was scarce any Condition in the World so miserable, but there was something negative, or something positive, to be thankful in it; and let this stand as a Direction from the Experience of the most miserable of all Conditions in this World, that we may always find in it something to comfort ourselves from, and to set, in the Description of Good and Evil, on the Credit-side of the Account.

Daniel Defoe: The Life and strange and surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe Ch. 1

pounds of butter on a lordly dish (Ch.13; page 137)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

purchase a packet of milk chocolate from the slot machine ... (Ch.13; page 137)

For many years, Nestlé’s chocolate was sold at a penny a bar from red slot machines, especially at railway stations, in shop doorways and on piers.

A penny was the smallest unit in Britain’s pre-decimalisation currency – there were 12 pence (12d) in one shilling and 20 shillings (20s) in one pound. At decimalisation, one new pence (1p) was equivalent to 2.4 old pence.

Accounting for decimalisation and inflation, a penny in 1948 is roughly equivalent to £0.16 in 2023 values.

Then he saw the indubitable form of his betrothed at a penny-in-the-slot machine, and the indubitable form of Nellie at another penny-in-the-slot machine. And then, he could hear the click-click-click of the machines, working rapidly. And his thoughts took a new direction. Presently Ruth ran with blithe gracefulness from her machine and commenced a generous distribution of packets to the members of the crews. There was neither calculation nor exact justice in her generosity. She dropped packets on to heroic knees with a splendid gesture of largesse. Some packets even fell on the floor. But she did not mind. Denry could hear her saying: ‘You must eat it. Chocolate is so sustaining. There’s nothing like it.’

Arnold Bennett: The Card Ch. 4

scullery maid (Ch.13; page 137)

Scullery maids did the dirty work of washing up, preparing vegetables, etc. in the kitchens.

Chapter 14
The Butter Situation

Runs from pp. 138 to 148 in the 1999 Penguin edition

a pretty tan (Ch.14; page 138)

The fashion for sun tanning had only arisen in the 1920s; earlier, the upper classes had avoided the sun, thinking that a brown skin was the mark of the laboring classes. [NM]

a susurration of domestics (Ch.14; page 138)

Susurration, in modern use, most often refers to the gentle murmur of a breeze. However, it can also mean whispering, and used to have an implication of malicious gossip. Bertie is using it here as though it were a collective noun (cf. “a pride of lions”).

beetles falling down my neck (Ch.14; page 138?)

See Summer Lightning.

he cheesed it (Ch.14; page 139?)

See Leave It to Psmith.

Justice of the Peace (Ch.14; page 139?)

See The Code of the Woosters.

Lead, Kindly Light (Ch.14; page 140)

This famous hymn, an excellent choice for a walk on a dark night, was written by J. H. Newman, one of the main figures of the 19th century Anglican revival known as the Oxford Movement, who later became a Roman Catholic Cardinal. The Oxford Movement, although led by upper-class intellectuals, had a strong element of socialism about it, and was most influential in working class parishes, so Brinkley’s choice is perhaps not quite so surprising as one might think.

Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home—
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path; but now,
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.

So long Thy power hath blessed me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

J. H. Newman (1801–1890): Hymn

thews and sinews (Ch.14; page 141)

Muscular strength. ‘Thews’ by itself used to mean the physical strength of a person, and was used in that sense by Shakespeare (King Henry IV, Part 2, III, ii):

Falstaff: Will you tell me, Master Shallow, how to choose a man? Care I for the limb, the thews, the stature, bulk, and big assemblance of a man! Give me the spirit, Master Shallow.

The OED credits Sir Walter Scott with the combined phrase with the sense of “muscles and tendons”:

 “That villain,“ exclaimed the Dwarf,—“that cool-blooded, hardened, unrelenting ruffian,—that wretch, whose every thought is infected with crimes,—has thews and sinews, limbs, strength, and activity enough, to compel a nobler animal than himself to carry him to the place where he is to perpetrate his wickedness…”

Sir Walter Scott: The Black Dwarf, ch. 6

grey cells (Ch.14; page 141)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

handed him the mitten (Ch.14; page 141?)

Here, meaning “broke off the engagement.” See The Code of the Woosters.

by Jove, Heaven had sent… (Ch.14; page 141?)

Wodehouse deftly illustrates the diverse influences of Bertie’s upbringing and education in this tight little mash-up. Where a profane person would swear “by God” (sometimes euphemistically altered to “by gum” or “ba goom”) Bertie and others with a classical education would have been taught to substitute Jove (another name for Jupiter, greatest in the ancient Roman pantheon) as a “safe” alternative for a Christian speaker who does not believe in the ancient gods. But Bertie, like Wodehouse, had been brought up in the Church of England to use Heaven as a metonym for God’s providence and power. The juxtaposition of the two phrases is strikingly amusing. [NM]

the work of a moment (Ch.14; page 141?)

See A Damsel in Distress.

gimlet or bodkin (Ch.14; page 142?)

A gimlet is a hand tool used for boring holes in wood, in the shape of a T with a screw tip, grooved shank, and cross handle. Bodkin has a few meanings, but probably here refers to a pointed hand tool for piercing small holes in leather or cloth, as for lacing. (Among other bodkin definitions: a small dagger, as in Hamlet’s famous soliloquy (now an obsolete meaning); a hairpin; a long, blunt needle-like tool with a large eye used to thread tape or cord through the hem of a garment.) [NM]

“You put it across that fellow properly, Chuffy” (Ch.14; page 143?)

Regular readers of Wodehouse will be familiar with the idiom to put it across [someone] meaning to get even with, to defeat, to punish a person. Somewhat surprisingly, the OED has only one 1910 citation for this phrase before quoting Wodehouse in 1929 from Mr. Mulliner Speaking (in the 1928 story “The Ordeal of Osbert Mulliner”). But Wodehouse had been using the phrase much earlier. (I have submitted some of the earliest of these to the OED.) The first two quotations below are in Wodehouse’s version of American gangster dialect: [NM]

“If he t’inks his little two-by-four gang can put it across de Groome Street, he can try.”

Psmith, Journalist, ch. 25 (1910 serial/1915 book)

“You t’ink youse kin put it across us, huh?”

The Little Nugget, ch. 11 (1913)

“I rather fancy I put it across him with some vim and not a little emphasis.”

“Doing Father a Bit of Good” (1920; in Indiscretions of Archie, 1921, ch. 9)

“Put it across ’im proper. ’Ad to go ’ome in a keb, Tod did.”

“The Début of Battling Billson” (1923; in Ukridge, 1925)

“I’m going to put it across that slicker,” she said, speaking thickly in her emotion, “if it’s the last thing I do.”

Money in the Bank, ch. 12 (1942)

“I stress the adjective ‘well-earned,’ for I think you will admit that in the recent exchanges I put it across the Nervii properly.”

Uncle Dynamite, ch. 6.3 (1948)

“Remember how he enabled me to put it across Roderick Spode at Totleigh Towers.”

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 12 (1954)

“We didn’t half put it across that copper, didn’t we, mate?”

The Girl in Blue, ch. 14.3 (1970)

The phrase also appears in chapter 20, below.

See also the similar phrase “to slip it across [him]” in The Code of the Woosters. Not to be confused with the theatrical term “put it across” meaning to convey one’s acting or singing across the footlights to the audience, as in “Extricating Young Gussie” (1915). [NM]

move in a mysterious way, their wonders to perform (Ch.14; page 143)

...from J. H. Newman to William Cowper!

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

William Cowper (1731–1800): Hymn (1774)

“British Constitution,” “She sells sea-shells,”… (Ch.14; page 144?)

Tongue-twisters used as sobriety tests; see A Damsel in Distress.

Hold the line (Ch.14; page 144?)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

deleterious animal magnetism (Ch.14; page 145?)

Animal magnetism was the name given by Franz Anton Mesmer (1734–1815) to an invisible force he theorized as emanating from animals, with healing powers. In experiments trying to establish his theory, he laid the foundations for the modern practice of hypnotism, though he could never prove the existence of the force. In more recent times, the term also refers to an attractive, winning personality or charisma. Bertie combines a negative adjective with it for a unique description of a lack of sympathy and understanding. [NM]

Mr. Nickerson was a man of medium height, almost completely surrounded by whiskers, and through the shrubbery he gazed at Ukridge with frozen eyes, shooting out waves of deleterious animal magnetism.

“Ukridge’s Dog College” (1923; in Ukridge, 1924)

“So!” said Sir Preston, directing at Lord Bromborough a fiery glance full of deleterious animal magnetism.

“Buried Treasure” (1936; in Lord Emsworth and Others, 1937)

So packed indeed, with deleterious animal magnetism was the glance he directed at Seppings that one felt that there was a considerable danger of Aunt Dahlia at no distant date finding herself a butler short.

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 17 (1954)

Even at this distance one could spot what I believe is called the deleterious animal magnetism.

Jeeves in the Offing, ch. 19 (1960)

silent raspberry (Ch.14; page 145?)

Raspberry here means the rude noise of derision made by exhaling through the compressed lips, causing them to vibrate; also known as “Bronx cheer.” Chuffy is giving the equivalent impression of contempt without actually making any sound. [NM]

stearic matter (Ch.14; page 145?)

A more general term than just butter; it refers to a usually solid compound found in most animal and some vegetable fats; suet and lard contain high proportions of it, and it is used in the manufacture of soaps, candles, and many other products. [NM]

If you have butter, prepare to shed it now. (Ch.14; page 145?)

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.

Shakespeare, Julius Caesar III,ii,170. See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse for a fuller quotation.

a wart hog (Ch.14; page 146?)

See Bill the Conqueror.

like a soiled glove (Ch.14; page 146? and 148)

Casting aside a discarded lover “like a soiled glove” has been a cliché of romantic fiction from Victorian times to the present day. Chuffy’s use of it shows that he is viewing Bertie’s attitude to Pauline in strictly conventional terms. Bertie gets some comic use out of it when he repeats it at the end of the scene, at Chuffy’s exit. [NM]

put my shirt on it (Ch.14; page 147?)

Made a bet to the limit of his resources. [NM]

Savoy Grill (Ch.14; page 147?)

It is not clear whether this is the meeting observed by Bertie in Chapter 1, p. 2 above at which he saw Chuffy’s Aunt Myrtle but did not spot Chuffy, or whether this was a previous encounter at the same restaurant. [NM]

My left foot I will! (Ch.14; page 148?)

In “No Wedding Bells for Him” (1923) George Tupper exclaims “Busy my left foot!” to express doubt that Corky is really busy, and Corky describes it as a “relapse into the phraseology of school days.” [NM]

coughing … like a respectful sheep (Ch.14; page 148)

In Ring for Jeeves, Jeeves is described as coughing ‘like a sheep on a distant mountainside.’

[The US magazine serial omits this comparison. —NM]

…and with how can I describe what thankfulness and astonishment I perceived Jeeves. (Ch.14; page 148)

Both first edition books read as above; the Strand serial has a different word order which seems more natural:

…and how can I describe with what thankfulness and astonishment I perceived Jeeves.

The Cosmopolitan serial simplifies it even more:

…and with thankfulness and astonishment I perceived Jeeves.

Chapter 15
Development of the Butter Situation

Runs from pp. 149 to 159 in the 1999 Penguin edition

sine qua non (Ch.15; page 149)

Essential, indispensable. Latin “without which [it is] not.”

Came into English as the legal phrase conditio sine qua non (sometimes causa sine qua non), a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for something to happen.

Ouija board (Ch.15; page 150)

This is one of the best known types of “talking board” used by spiritualists. It comprises a board marked with letters, numbers, the words ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ etc. and a small moving platform or planchette, which is held by the participants. If messages from the spirit world appear, they are indicated by movement of the planchette to the appropriate letters on the board. The name – apparently it was or is a trademark – comes from the fact that a board marked in French and German would have the words ‘oui’ and ‘ja’ (yes) at the top left. The name seems to have been around since the mid-19th century.

on velvet (Ch.15; page 151?)

See Bill the Conqueror.

“Turkish or Virginian, sir?” (Ch.15; page 151?)

See Money for Nothing.

my nerves, which had been sticking out of my body an inch long and curled at the ends (Ch.15; page 151?)

Compare: [NM]

For the days that followed the unexpected resurrection of the blighted twins were so absolutely foul that the old nerves began to stick out of my body a foot long and curling at the ends.

“The Delayed Exit of Claude and Eustace” (1922, in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923)

Bill, whose nerves for the last hour or so had been sticking out of his body, twisting themselves about like snakes and getting all knotted at the ends, took a grave view of the matter.

Bill Lister, in Full Moon, ch. 3.5 (1947)

the illusion that his nerves were sticking two inches out of his body and curling at the ends being extraordinarily vivid

Pongo, in Uncle Dynamite, ch. 8.1 (1948)

If, on the one hand, he obeyed her behest and refrained from smoking, every nerve in his body would soon be sticking out and starting to curl at the ends…

“A Good Cigar Is a Smoke” (1967; in Plum Pie, 1967)

Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis (Ch.15; page 152)

Times changing, we change with them (Latin)

This familiar hexameter is sometimes wrongly ascribed to Ovid. Brewer and Bartleby are almost certainly wrong in their assertions of its origins too. Georg Büchmann (Geflügelte Worte: Der Zitatenschatz des deutschen Volkes. 26. Auflage. Berlin 1918) suggests that it is the conflation of two different lines:

(i) omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis

(ii) Tempora permutas nec tu mutaris in illis.

Version (i) is ascribed by the 16th century German poet Matthias Borbonius to the Emperor Lothar I (795–855); version (ii) is by the 6th century grammarian Corippus. Büchmann identifies the first use of the line in the form Jeeves uses it as Proverbialia dicteria, And. Gartnerus, 1566.

It seems to have been in widespread use throughout Europe by the late 17th century. Wodehouse would also have known ‘Tempora mutantur’ as the title of one of Gilbert’s Bab Ballads.

Letters, letters, letters, letters,
 Some that please and some that bore,
Some that threaten prison fetters
(Metaphorically, fetters,
Such as bind insolvent debtors)—
 Invitations by the score.

One from Cogson, Wiles, and Railer,
 My attorneys, off the Strand,
One from Copperblock, my tailor—
My unreasonable tailor—
 One in Flagg’s disgusting hand.

One from Ephraim and Moses,
 Wanting tin without a doubt,
I should like to pull their noses—
Their uncompromising noses;
One from Alice with the roses—
 Ah, I know what that’s about!

Time was when I waited, waited,
 For the missives that she wrote.
Humble postmen execrated—
Loudly, deeply execrated—
When I heard I wasn’t fated
 To be gladdened with a note.

Time was when I’d not have bartered
 Of her little pen a dip
For a peerage duly gartered—
For a peerage starred and gartered—
With a palace-office chartered,
 Or a secretaryship!

But the time for that is over,
 And I wish we’d never met.
I’m afraid I’ve proved a rover—
I’m afraid a heartless rover—
Quarters in a place like Dover
 Tend to make a man forget.

Now I can accord precedence
 To my tailor, for I do
Want to know if he gives credence—
An unwarrantable credence—
 To my proffered I.O.U.!

Bills for carriages and horses,
 Bills for wine and light cigar,
Matters that concern the Forces—
News that may affect the Forces—
News affecting my resources,
 Now unquestioned take the pas.

And the tiny little paper,
 With the words that seem to run
From her little fingers taper
(They are very small and taper),
By the tailor and the draper
 Are in interest outdone!

And unopened it’s remaining!
 I can read her gentle hope—
Her entreaties, uncomplaining
(She was always uncomplaining)—
Her devotion never waning
 Through the little envelope.

W. S. Gilbert: Tempora mutantur, as originally in Fun, July 15, 1865

A later edition of the same Ballad

ten shillings (Ch.15; page 154?)

Note that Seabury asked for twice the amount of protection money from Sir Roderick than he requested from Bertie (see ch.3, page 21 above). It is unclear whether he thought that Sir Roderick was richer or that being in love with Seabury’s mother would make him more susceptible to handing over that amount. [NM]

pi-jaw (Ch.15; page 154)

Late 19th century schoolboy slang for a tedious lecture from an adult. Pi was a slang shortening of “pious,” a jaw was a talk.

Cabinet Minister … swan (Ch.15; page 154)

The Minister was the Rt. Hon. A. B. Filmer, in “Jeeves and the Impending Doom” (1926; in Very Good, Jeeves, 1930).

that life was stern and earnest and that time was passing (Ch.15; page 155?)

Recollecting the sentiments of the Longfellow poem, page 18 above.

Hyde Park … Community Singing (Ch.15; page 156?)

Getting large numbers of people to raise their voices together seems to have been popular in early 20th-century England for several different purposes. The League of Arts sponsored many such meetings for purely musical purposes (Musical Times, August 1, 1920, p. 532). Cinema audiences were encouraged to join in and “follow the bouncing ball” that pointed out the lyrics in rhythm on the screen, both in silent and in early talking pictures. But the ones Bertie is probably referring to were political rallies that used massed choruses of tens of thousands of common people to engender a spirit of solidarity with their cause. Both Socialist and Conservative rallies in the 1920s used this technique, obviously with different repertoire:

…the Socialists and Communists singing the “Marseillaise” and “The Red Flag”, the Anti-Socialist Union singing “John Peel” and “John Brown’s Body”.

The Sounds of the Silents in Britain, by Julie Brown and Annette Davison.

Silent newsreel clip of 80,000 people in a park, in a 1927 community singing sponsored by the Daily Express [NM]

The affair may be said to have had its inception (Ch.15; page 157?)

See If I Were You.

“And Sir Roderick came a stinker?” (Ch.15; page 157?)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

like a ton of coals (Ch.15; page 157)

On page 93 Bertie had used the more apposite ‘sack of coals’ to describe Chuffy’s descent, so Mary is not quite stealing his material.

a dead stymie (Ch.15; page 158)

Figuratively, a situation in which an opponent’s action is blocked. Literally, a golfing expression: in a situation where a putt is blocked by an opponent’s ball. The stymie has been obsolete since a rule change in 1952 – a player was “laid a stymie” if, on the green, the opponent’s ball fell in the line of his path to the hole (providing the balls were not within 6 inches of one another). The player was not allowed to strike the opponent’s ball when putting his own ball.

‘Young Blood!’ (Ch.15; page 158?)

See Very Good, Jeeves.

The moving finger writes and, having writ… (Ch.15; page 159)

The moving finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

Omar Khayyam (tr. Edward FitzGerald): Rubaiyat 71

Chapter 16
Trouble at the Dower House

Runs from pp. 160 to 173 in the 1999 Penguin edition

Washington Square (Ch.16; page 160)

In Henry James’s day, this was an exclusive residential district of Lower Manhattan – by the time Wodehouse lived there at the Hotel Earle (now the Washington Square Hotel) in the years before the first world war, Greenwich Village had become the artistic, ‘bohemian’ quarter of New York City.

Italian kids … on roller skates (Ch.16; page 160)

Every morning he took his outing in Washington Square, where, from his invalid’s chair, he surveyed somnolent Italians and roller-skating children with his old air of kindly approval.

“Crowned Heads” (1915)

Washington Square is bountifully supplied with sad-eyed Italian kids who whizz to and fro on roller skates, and one of them, proceeding on his way with lowered head, rammed me in the neighbourhood of the third waistcoat button at a high rate of m.p.h.

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 15 (1963)

at my waistcoat … on the third button from the top (Ch.16; page 160)

Wodehouse often describes the location of the solar plexus, a sensitive nerve center in the abdomen, as at the third waistcoat button. A sampling follows. [NM]

The hand on his collar loosed its grip. Its owner rushed, and as he came, Tony hit him in the parts about the third waistcoat-button with his right.

The Pothunters, ch. 17 (1902)

The “mark,” it may be explained for the benefit of the non-pugilistic, is that portion of the human form divine which lies hid behind the third button of the waistcoat. It covers—in a most inadequate way—the wind, and even a gentle tap in the locality is apt to produce a fleeting sense of discomfort. A genuine flush hit on the spot, shrewdly administered by a muscular arm with the weight of the body behind it, causes the passive agent in the transaction to wish fervently, as far as he is at the moment physically capable of wishing anything, that he had never been born.

“The Manœuvres of Charteris” (1903)

Once … George had been smitten unexpectedly by a sportive playmate a bare half-inch below his third waistcoat-button. The resulting emotions were still green in his memory.

“Deep Waters” (1910)

The finger darted forward and struck home in the region of the third waistcoat button.

The White Hope, ch. 3 (1914, later in book form as The Coming of Bill)

Something bumped into the Wooster waistcoat just around the third button, and I collapsed on to the settee and rather lost interest in things for the moment.

“Jeeves and the Chump Cyril” (1918)

[His opponent] buried his left in Mr. Billson’s stomach on the exact spot where the well-dressed man wears the third button of his waistcoat.
  Of all human experiences this of being smitten in this precise locality is the least agreeable. Battling Billson drooped like a stricken flower, settled slowly down, and spread himself out. He lay peacefully on his back with outstretched arms like a man floating in smooth water. His day’s work was done.

“The Début of Battling Billson” (1923)

Then she gasped a sudden gasp, as if she had received a punch on the third waistcoat button.

Lady Florence Craye in Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 6 (1954)

Washington Square is bountifully supplied with sad-eyed Italian kids who whizz to and fro on roller skates, and one of them, proceeding on his way with lowered head, rammed me in the neighbourhood of the third waistcoat button at a high rate of m.p.h.

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 15 (1963)

In other references, it is described as a potential target for a gunshot.

The muzzle of his gun, which rested on the sill, was pointing in a straight line at the third button on Garnet’s waistcoat.

Love Among the Chickens (1906–09 versions), ch. 4; “my waistcoat” in 1921 revision

I observed Roderick Spode in the window. He had a shotgun in his hand, and this he was pointing in a negligent sort of way at my third waistcoat button.

The Code of the Woosters, ch. 2 (1938)

before the Board (Ch.16; page 160)

Probably a business expression (Board as in ‘Board of Directors’), although that isn’t a field from which we should expect Bertie to pick up expressions.

about ten parasangs (Ch.16; page 160)

The parasang is an ancient Persian unit of measure representing the distance one can walk in an hour, usually taken to be approximately equal to 3.7 miles (6km). (Interestingly, the example in the Shorter OED for the figurative sense of parasang is taken from another Wodehouse story.)

[Wodehouse’s first usage seems to have been “Personal Details” (1920); other uses occur in Bill the Conqueror (1924) and the first two Jeeves novels. —NM]

in statu quo (Ch.16; page 160)

Another bit of legal Latin: in statu quo: ‘in the state that exists’; in the present condition.

Hymns of Hate (Ch.16; page 162)

This seems to be an allusion to Dorothy Parker’s free verse squibs for Life magazine.

[This was not the photojournalism magazine of the 1930s onward, but an earlier humor magazine. Parker’s Hate Songs had begun at Vanity Fair while she and Wodehouse were both writing for that magazine in the 1910s. —NM]

One example: A Hymn of Hate (“I Hate the Drama”) Life, May 5, 1921.

the iron entered my soul (Ch.16; page 162)

This expression seems to come originally from a mistranslation of Psalm 105:18 by Miles Coverdale, preserved in the Book of Common Prayer psalter:

17 But he had sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold to be a bond-servant;
18 Whose feet they hurt in the stocks; the iron entered into his soul;

The King James Version (below) has a more accurate translation of the Hebrew original.

The phrase conventionally expresses anguish and embitterment, although Bertie generally seems to use it in a slightly different way. In this case it comes nearer to ‘righteous indignation’ or ‘desire for revenge.’

17  He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:
18  whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron:

Bible: Psalms 105:17–18

blue ribbon (Ch.16; page 162)

The blue ribbon has long been a symbol of pre-eminence: originally it was associated with the Order of the Holy Spirit, the highest order of chivalry in medieval France (hence the term cordon bleu, now normally associated with pre-eminence in the kitchen). In Britain the blue ribbon was used for the Order of the Garter.

The best-known use of the term in the thirties was probably the competition between the different shipping lines for the fastest Atlantic crossing, something a regular transatlantic traveller like Wodehouse would have known a lot about.

fine metal … dross (Ch.16; page 162)

Bertie—surprisingly—seems to know the technical meaning of dross (waste removed during the processing of metal ore) as well as its more common figurative meaning.

box hedge (Ch.16; page 163)

The evergreen shrubs of the box (buxacea) family are commonly used for hedging.

…the time Bingo Little persuaded me to break into his house (Ch.16; page 163)

See “Clustering Round Young Bingo” (1925, in Carry On, Jeeves!)

despondency and alarm (Ch.16; page 163?)

See Ukridge for the background of the phrase alarm and despondency.

snifter (Ch.16; page 163?)

A drink of some alcoholic beverage. This sense (originally American slang from the mid-nineteenth century) predates the meaning of snifter as a rounded glass with a narrower opening at the top, designed to concentrate the aroma of brandy or liqueurs; that sense is cited only as far back as 1937 in the OED. So we should not picture the gardener bloke appreciating a fine Cognac in a balloon glass at the Chuffnell Arms pub; having a simple shot of whisky is far more likely. [NM]

go by the form book (Ch.16; page 164)

A horse-racing expression: the published record of the past performance of individual horses.

in-and-out performers (Ch.16; page 164)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

that bit about “the night is dark” (Ch.16; page 165?)

Since this is in the third line of the first stanza (see the hymn text on p. 140 above), the inference is that Brinkley is singing the hymn repeatedly. Bertie could scarcely have had time for “careful, unhurried thought” after recognizing the hymn and the singer (on the previous page or two of the book) if this had been Brinkley’s first time through it. [NM]

uncertain in the lower register (Ch.16; page 165?)

That is, having trouble placing the notes of the music accurately when they fall in the lower part of his singing range. If Brinkley is using the usual hymn tune by John B. Dykes for this text (as in Hymns Ancient and Modern), the lowest notes in the melody fall on the ends of lines one, three, and five of the text: “gloom,” “home,” and “see” in the first verse. On lines one and three, these ending words are set to two slurred notes: in the key of C, these would be slurred from an A to a G below the tonic (closing) pitch C of the melody. So uncertainty in the lower register of the voice would show up most noticeably at these places in the tune. [NM]

Grosvenor Square or Cadogan Terrace (Ch.16; page 165)

Grosvenor Square is of course the focal point of the wealthy London district of Mayfair. Cadogan Terrace is a bit of a mystery. Currently the only London street of that name is in Hackney Wick, at the top end of Victoria Park in north-east London, not an area Bertie would be familiar with. Probably Wodehouse meant Cadogan Place, in Belgravia. The name “Cadogan Terrace” comes up in Conan Doyle’s Stark Munro Letters, a book Wodehouse knew well enough to take some of the inspiration for Ukridge from it.

sozzled (Ch.16; page 166?)

The OED has citations back to 1886 for the spelling sosselled; earlier British dialect sources show the use of soss (similar to slosh in applying to liquid moving about) as a root for such forms as soss-pot, a drunkard. Linguist David Crystal identifies sozzled as “well up any scale of drunkenness, but…still capable of carrying out some actions, albeit not perfectly.” (Words in Time and Place, 2014). [NM]

chased rainbows (Ch.16; page 166?)

Probably an allusion to the popular song “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” (1917), lyrics by Joseph McCarthy, music adapted from Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromptu by Harry Carroll. The phrase is an apt description of the futility of pursuing impractical dreams; a rainbow must, by the laws of optics, be an arc of a circle centered opposite the sun in the sky, refracted and reflected back to the observer at fixed angles for each color. If the observer tries to approach it, perhaps to find the pot of gold at its end, the rainbow appears to recede just as fast as it is approached. [NM]

came a purler (Ch.16; page 166?)

Took a headfirst fall or trip; British colloquial from mid-19th century.

Rock of Ages (Ch.16; page 167)

Like Newman, Toplady left the Anglican church, but he went in the opposite direction, becoming a Calvinist preacher.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

Augustus M. Toplady (1740–1778): Rock of Ages (Hymn)

touched in the wind (Ch.16; page 167?)

See The Code of the Woosters.

within a toucher of (Ch.16; page 168?)

The OED calls this British colloquial for “very near to doing something”; Wodehouse is cited for using it in Doctor Sally (1932).

“…being blacked out” (Ch.16; page 168?)

In both magazine serials and the US book, the more common phrase “blacked up” for this type of make-up appears here, so the inference is that “out” is an editorial amendment made at Jenkins. The OED’s definitions of “black out” do not include this cosmetic sense. [NM]

let the dead past bury its dead (Ch.16; page 168)

See page 18 above and Biblia Wodehousiana.

snootered (Ch.16; page 169)

The OED lists snooter as “only in P. G. Wodehouse” and defines it as “to harass, to bedevil; to snub.” It first appeared in “Aunt Agatha Makes a Bloomer” (1922; in ch. 3 of The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923). Derives from US slang “snoot” for nose.

from crag to crag (Ch.16; page 171?)

See the discussion under chamois of the Alps in Sam the Sudden.

…cometh in the morning (Ch.16; page 172)

4  Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his,
and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
5  For his anger endureth but a moment;
in his favour is life:
weeping may endure for a night,
but joy cometh in the morning.

Bible: Psalms 30:4–5

the old onion (Ch.16; page 173)

Late Victorian British slang for the head.

trickled along (Ch.16; page 173)

See page 127, above.

Chapter 17
Breakfast Time at the Hall

Runs from pp. 174 to 181 in the 1999 Penguin edition

ghost stories (Ch.17; page 174)

Bertie’s plot summary sounds very like E. Nesbit’s story “The Pavilion” (1915), but there may well be others where people spending the night in summer-houses meet horrible ends.

champing at its bit (Ch.17; page 175)

Bertie sometimes refers to his two-seater automobile as his Arab steed, such as in The Mating Season, ch. 5 (1949). Here he describes its availability using a phrase for an impatient horse. [NM]

Voules and Dobson belt (Ch.17; page 175)

In other words, the area patrolled by these policemen. A variant of mid-19th century American expressions like ‘cotton belt.’ Didn’t become current in Britain until rather later (‘stockbroker belt’ comes from the 1960s, for instance).

my moral (Ch.17; page 175)

The word morale, referring to the psychological condition and motivation of troops, entered English in the 1830s. Around 1900, someone seems to have realised that the equivalent word in French doesn’t have a final ‘-e,’ and the spelling Bertie uses here became popular for a while. However, the feminine form has now triumphed again in the English-speaking world.

[The US magazine serial has “morale” and the US book has “morale” in italics here; the UK magazine and book read as quoted above. —NM]

So I stayed where I was (Ch.17; page 175?)

The UK book has a large cut at this point, for unknown reasons. Here is the passage in full as it appears in the US first edition. (Both magazine serials have some of this material, but the US magazine is slightly cut and the UK magazine omits the Pongo-and-Wilfred section.)

 So I stayed where I was, letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would,” like the poor cat i’ th’ adage. That’s not my own, by the way. It’s Jeeves’s. He said it about young Pongo Twistleton-Twistleton of the Drones once, and it’s always stuck in my memory. Pongo had been invited for the week-end to his uncle’s place in Hampshire, and couldn’t for the life of him make up his mind whether to go or not. On the one hand, there was the fact that his cousin Wilfred would be there, which meant at a conservative estimate a couple of quid in his pocket, Wilfred having the mistaken idea that he could beat Pongo at billiards. On the other hand, he would have to go to church twice on the Sunday and there was a distinct risk of family prayers on Monday morning. And when I told Jeeves about the poor chap’s doubts and hesitations and inward debates, he said that Pongo was letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would,” like the poor cat i’ th’ adage. And I remember thinking, as I have so often thought before, how well Jeeves puts these things.

And that’s how it was now. The old swashbuckling element in me was all for the bold dash to the garage, but my prudent side said Stick around here and play for safety. So in the end, as I say, that was what I decided to do, and I hitched myself into position forty-six in the hope that it would be easier on the f.p’s than the last forty-five, and had another shot at the dreamless.

eggs and b. (Ch.17; page 176?)

See Very Good, Jeeves for more about this style of abbreviation in Bertie’s narration. [NM]

rusk (Ch.17; page 176?)

A form of dry toast, made from bread which has been thinly sliced, optionally cut into smaller rectangles, and baked a second time until crisp. The German name for it, zwieback, means twice-baked. [NM]

getting outside (Ch.17; page 176?)

See page 25, above.

treading like a Red Indian on the trail (Ch.17; page 177?)

See Summer Lightning.

snaffling the works (Ch.17; page 177?)

In other words, taking the whole thing for himself. The OED has a citation of snaffle as “to steal, to rob, to purloin” from a 1725 dictionary of criminal slang. Bertie catches his former valet Meadowes “snaffling my silk socks” in “Jeeves Takes Charge” (1916). [NM]

I recked little whether anybody saw me (Ch.17; page 177?)

The verb reck, meaning to care or be concerned, has been in the language since Old English, and the OED explains that it has been almost exclusively used in a negative or diminuitive sense, as Bertie uses it here, with nothing, little, and so forth. It now has an archaic or high-flown feeling; only the derived adjective reckless is in common use. [NM]

‘Chuffnell Regis two-niyun-four’ (Ch.17; page 178)

Automatic telephone exchanges were rare in rural areas of Britain until well after the second world war. Jeeves has to ask the operator to connect him. Wodehouse gets in a little dig at the exaggerated efforts people would make to speak clearly on the telephone. Whether a town the size of Chuffnell Regis would have had as many as three hundred telephone lines in the thirties remains open to question.

pure to the last drop (Ch.17; page 178)

Probably echoes the Maxwell House coffee slogan “Good to the last drop” dating from 1915. [NM]

a nasty salient (Ch.17; page 178?)

This sense of the word salient originated in mathematics, describing a spot on a curve where it is no longer smooth but bends sharply, then was applied to an outward-projecting point in a fortification. In the trench warfare of the First World War, it was applied to a spur of occupied land projecting into enemy territory, where fighting is most severe. This is the sense which Bertie generalizes here to emphasize the danger of going into the Dower House. [NM]

that House of Fear (Ch.17; page 178?)

Clearly a reference to the title of a book or other work; two possible sources among many are a theatrical mystery novel by Wadsworth Camp (1916) and a novel by Robert W. Service (1927). Not applicable is the 1945 movie with Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes, since that was based on Conan Doyle’s story “The Five Orange Pips”; the film title was created for the 1945 movie, not by Doyle. [NM]

amende honorable … olive branch (Ch.17; page 180)

See p. 107 above.

silent watches of the night (Ch.17; page 180)

See The Clicking of Cuthbert.

chez (Ch.17; page 180)

French: with, at the house of.

shoe-number-eleven (Ch.17; page 181?)

See Ukridge.

Chapter 18
Black Work in a Study

Runs from pp. 182 to 191 in the 1999 Penguin edition.

zareba (Ch.18; page 182)

A thorn stockade protecting a village or cattle pen. Mainly used in Somalia and the Sudan (from Arabic).

listening-in (Ch.18; page 183)

This was the usual British expression for listening to a broadcast in the early days of radio. I can remember people born before ca.1914 using it as late as the 1970s, so it was probably still fairly current in the thirties.

ultra vires (Ch.18; page 184)

More legal Latin: an act is said to be ultra vires (beyond the powers) when it is performed without any legal authority, or goes beyond a body’s legal powers. Jeeves is suggesting that although Stoker as owner has certain powers over people on board his vessel, these do not include the power to confine guests against their will.

have the floor (Ch.18; page 184)

A term from parliamentary procedure: to be recognized as having a chance to speak in a debate. [NM]

kidnapping (Ch.18; page 184)

Jeeves is bluffing here—whatever else it is, the offence is certainly not kidnapping. In the technical sense (in English law) kidnapping is the forcible taking away of a person into another country. As long as the yacht remains at anchor, Stoker is safe on this point.

Even using the term in a looser, popular sense, Stoker’s act lacks the necessary elements of abduction (as Jeeves admits, Bertie had come on board voluntarily) and extortion. If Bertie had been a woman and Stoker had abducted her to gain her property (e.g. by marrying her against her will), this would have been a criminal offence.

Stoker is probably guilty of the trespass of false imprisonment. This is normally a civil matter (as Jeeves finally suggests), but in some circumstances it can be an indictable offence as well.

mulct in substantial damages (Ch.18; page 185)

To mulct is to penalise by means of a fine. Damages are normally a reparation, not a penalty, so this is not a standard legal expression.

Daniel did (Ch.18; page 185)

See page 94, above. It’s clear from the Bible that Daniel spent the night in the lions’ den—of course, the text doesn’t tell us what time the Babylonians went to bed, but still, one imagines he must have been in there for more than “half an hour or so.”

dumb chums (Ch.18; page 185)

See The Code of the Woosters.

“there is none like you, none” (Ch.18; page 185)

Adapting Tennyson with a change of pronoun: see The Inimitable Jeeves.

the juice of an orange (Ch.18; page 185)

Wodehouse had used this phrase as the title of one of his Hollywood Mulliner stories in 1933 (collected in Blandings Castle and Elsewhere, 1935).

Cute Crispies (Ch.18; page 185)

This fictitious breakfast cereal also appears in Cocktail Time.

[And in Pigs Have Wings (1952) we learn from the butler Beach, who had been reading about the cereal in his newspaper, that it “contains sixty-two percent of nutroglutene and one tablespoonful, I understand, provides nourishment equal to that of a pound and a half of steak.” In Beach’s opinion the “preparation might prove efficacious” as a treatment for Lord Emsworth’s cold. —IM]

Old Home Week (Ch.18; page 186?)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

fish slice (Ch.18; page 186?)

Wodehouse seems to use this as the ideal wedding gift in many stories. This does not mean the ordinary slotted spatula of today’s kitchen utensils, but an item of heavy Victorian-style serving ware with a broad, flat silver blade with one sharper, gently curved edge. Fish would typically be served with an acid sauce of lemon juice or vinegar, which would react with ordinary steel blades, giving a metallic taste to the sauce and corroding the steel implement. The classic silver fish slice would prevent these chemical reactions. [NM]

William Knight fish slice (c.1815) at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Chapter 19
Preparations for Handling Father

Runs from pp. 192 to 197 in the 1999 Penguin edition.

weigh him in the balance (Ch.19; page 192)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

acid test (Ch.19; page 192)

Figuratively, any definitive method for evaluating someone’s character or a product’s performance; this sense predates the California gold rush but became more popular with it in the middle nineteenth century. The scientific basis of the term is from metallurgy; pure gold is resistant to most acids. The test was made by rubbing the gold-colored item against a black touchstone, leaving a mark like that of chalk on a chalkboard, then applying nitric acid to the mark; pure gold will not be affected, other metals will be dissolved. Further testing with aqua regia (a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids, which does dissolve pure gold) can verify the test and, in the case of alloys, give a sense of the purity of the metallic mixture. [NM]

preux chevalier (Ch.19; page 192)

Brave knight—a piece of pseudo-medievalism taken from modern French and probably popularised by the Ingoldsby Legends (1840). The adjective preu existed in English in Chaucer’s day, but seems to have disappeared in the 16th century.

Bates, or Cuthbertson, or whatever the name might be (Ch.19; page 192)

As co-author of the third edition of Who’s Who in Wodehouse, I [NM] am particularly impressed with Wodehouse’s versatility in coming up with names for his characters, and in situations like this, when a character is fishing for an arbitrary name to be used in a hypothetical case, we can almost see that creativity at work. Here a common name like Bates, used for fifteen characters in the canon, is coupled with an uncommon one like Cuthbertson, appearing only once elsewhere, for Charles Percy Cuthbertson, the Old Stepper, not-quite-an-uncle to Ukridge in “Ukridge and the Old Stepper” (1928; in Eggs, Beans and Crumpets, 1940). Sometimes the hypothetical names are indeed common:

“I would reply ‘To a certain extent, my dear Smith or Jones, or whatever the name might be, the facts are as you state.’ ”

Gally Threepwood in Pigs Have Wings, ch. 5.2 (1952)

Sometimes the names reflect Plum’s classical education:

Smedley quivered like a Roman Emperor hearing the leader of the band of assassins which has just filed into his private apartments say “Well, here we are, Galba” or Vitellius or Caligula or whatever the name might be.

The Old Reliable, ch. 16 (1951)

Sometimes the name is an uncommon but a familiar one, used a few times by Wodehouse for minor characters or product purveyors:

“I’d go to somebody who knew about moustaches. ‘Mr. Walkinshaw,’ I’d say, or whatever the name might be…”

“Buried Treasure” (1936; in Lord Emsworth and Others, 1937)

And sometimes they seem inserted just because Wodehouse had seen them somewhere and liked the sound of them:

“ ‘Tell me, Potter, to settle a bet, are you and Phipps old friends?’ and I reply, ‘Yes, Griggs or Freylinghausen or whatever the name may be, you are perfectly correct.’ ”

Barmy in Wonderland, ch. 13 (1952)

“I’ve forgotten his name … Griggs or Follansbee or something … but we call him the Timber Wolf.”

“Birth of a Salesman” (1950; in Nothing Serious, 1950)

Well, I suppose if someone had come along at this moment and said to me ‘Hullo there, Wooster, how’s it going? Are you making headway?’ I should have had to reply in the negative. ‘Not perceptibly, Wilkinson’—or Banks or Smith or Knatchbull-Huguessen or whatever the name might have been, I would have said.

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 5 (1954)

about two hundred and fifty words to the minute (Ch.19; page 192?)

Online guides for calculating the length of a speech suggest ranges from 110 words per minute for a slow speaker to 170 for a fast speaker, with average speakers delivering from 125 to 150 words per minute. Bertie was probably not carrying a stopwatch, but we can take his assessment as though he thought Chuffy was speaking about twice as fast as usual. [NM]

put the tin hat on it (Ch.19; page 193?)

For the literal meaning, see Laughing Gas; figuratively, see the similar phrase “put the lid on it” at Ukridge.

a smut on your face (Ch.19; page 193?)

The term usually means a small black smudge, pehaps a speck of soot from a coal-burning railroad engine. Here, with Bertie’s face covered in boot polish, it is a humorous understatement. [NM]

Piping Rock (Ch.19; page 195)

This could mean several things, the most likely being a celebrated gambling club in Saratoga, New York (opened 1932). There is also a golf and country club of this name in New York State.

a striking resemblance to something out of the Book of Revelations (Ch.19; page 195?)

Bertie makes the common error of pluralizing “Revelation” here. See Fr. Rob’s commentary on the Book of Revelation at Biblia Wodehousiana.

rub him the right way (Ch.19; page 195?)

Oddly, the OED seems not to have entries for this, but for “rub the wrong way” only. That phrase appears beginning in 1834 and is defined as to annoy or irritate a person, with reference to stroking a cat against the lie of its fur. [NM]

Another Wodehouse character who could be irritable unless properly stroked is Professor Derrick in “Love Among the Chickens”, ch. 7:

“He’s a dear old boy, if you rub him the right way.”

above the odds (Ch.19; page 196?)

UK colloquial for “past the acceptable limit.”

chewing broken bottles (Ch.19; page 196?)

Bertie’s Aunt Agatha is “the one who chews broken bottles and kills rats with her teeth” in The Mating Season, ch. 1 (1949); elsewhere, as in The Code of the Woosters, ch. 1 (1938), Joy in the Morning, ch. 1 (1946), and later books, she eats broken bottles.

Sir Rackstraw Cammarleigh in “The Code of the Mulliners” (1935; in Young Men in Spats, 1936) is said to swallow broken bottles. In Bring On the Girls, Guy Bolton is quoted as saying that Abe Erlanger “eats broken bottles and conducts human sacrifices at the time of the full moon.”

The US magazine serial omits this phrase, ending the sentence with “nostrils?” [NM]

…afraid of the big bad wolf (Ch.19; page 196)

Song from the Walt Disney short animated film “Three Little Pigs,” May 1933, by Frank Churchill and Ted Sears.

[US and UK magazines and US book omit the entire sentence with this reference. —NM]

The scales have fallen from my eyes (Ch.19; page 197)

17  And Anani′as went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
18  And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Bible: Acts of the Apostles 9:17–18

This, if I mistake not, Watson, is our client now (Ch.19; page 197)

Like most of the Sherlock Holmes references in Wodehouse, this one does not have an exact source. The nearest seems to be from “The Problem of Thor Bridge” (The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes).

“And yet, Watson—and yet! This bridge—a single broad span of stone with balustraded sides—carries the drive over the narrowest part of a long, deep, reed-girt sheet of water. Thor Mere it is called. In the mouth of the bridge lay the dead woman. Such are the main facts. But here, if I mistake not, is our client, considerably before his time.”

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: “The Problem of Thor Bridge,” Strand, February 1922

Chapter 20
Jeeves Has News

Runs from pp. 198 to 208 in the 1999 Penguin edition

on the cards (Ch.20; page 199?)

This phrase for “likely or destined to happen” is cited in the OED from 1788 until the present, with a derivation either from card games of chance or from fortune-telling using cards of one kind or another.

The living spit of him (Ch.20; page 201?)

The exact likeness or image. OED has citations for “the very spit of” and “the dead spit of” from 1825 to 1966; “living” seems like a perfect adaptation of the phrase when referring to the real-life counterpart of a character in a play. [NM]

chilled steel (Ch.20; page 202?)

See The Code of the Woosters.

He put it across little Seabury (Ch.20; page 202?)

See page 143, above.

...if you say Go, he cometh (Ch.20; page 203)

...not exactly!

6  Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself; for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:
7  wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.
8  For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
9  When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

Bible: Luke 7:7–9

a thing compact entirely of sweetness and light (Ch.20; page 203)

This is an archaic use of compact as a past participle to mean ‘composed of’ (cf. e.g. Shakespeare, Venus & Adonis, ‘Love is a spirit all compact of fire’). I haven’t identified a source for ‘a thing compact entirely’.

The phrase “sweetness and light” seems to have been first used by Jonathan Swift in The Battle of the Books  (1710):

For the rest, whatever we have got, has been by infinite Labor, and search, and ranging thro’ every Corner of Nature:  The Difference is, that instead of Dirt and Poison, we have rather chose to till our Hives with Honey and Wax, thus furnishing Mankind with the two Noblest of Things, which are Sweetness and Light.

The phrase also occurs twice in the works of Matthew Arnold:

The pursuit of perfection, then, is the pursuit of sweetness and light.

Culture and Anarchy,   chap. 1   (1869)

Culture is the passion for sweetness and light.

Literature and Dogma,   Preface   (1873)

Richard Usborne (The Penguin Wodehouse Companion) notes that Matthew Arnold “was related by marriage to the Wodehouse family”, though this appears not to be mentioned in any of the several biographies of Wodehouse. [AGOL]

an envelope on a salver (Ch.20; page 204?)

See Leave It to Psmith.

cablegram (Ch.20; page 204)

A cablegram was a specific term, invented in the 1860s, for a telegram sent via a submarine cable, usually across the Atlantic. There doesn’t seem to be any suggestion that Stoker’s yacht is hooked up to a temporary cable – presumably a member of the crew has collected it from the Post Office on shore.

when pain and anguish racks the brow (Ch.20; page 204)

O woman! in our hours of ease
Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
And variable as the shade
By the light quivering aspen made;
When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou!

Sir Walter Scott: Marmion vi:30

“What? What?” I saw Chuffy start. (Ch.20; page 204?)

Chuffy is startled because he thinks Stoker is bringing up Lord Wotwotleigh again (see note for page 42 above). [NM]

to see him for dust (Ch.20; page 205?)

See Cocktail Time.

alienist (Ch.20; page 205?)

A historical term for what would later be called a psychiatrist, borrowed from French into English in the middle nineteenth century; a specialist in insanity, especially in legal questions such as criminal responsibility and competence to make contracts and wills. [NM]

now you see him and now you don’t (Ch.20; page 207?)

Reminiscent of a conjuror’s patter when doing a vanishing trick; Bertie is hinting at magical qualities to Jeeves’s being present just when needed. Note the first paragraph of Bertie’s narration in the next chapter, p. 209, as well. [NM]

potting-shed (Ch.20; page 208)

Other arrestees in Wodehouse who find themselves confined in this unorthodox way include Lord Tilbury (Heavy Weather), Chichester Clam (Joy in the Morning), and Bill Lister (Full Moon).

Chapter 21
Jeeves Finds the Way

Runs from pp. 209 to 224 in the 1999 Penguin edition

‘The larger potting-shed…’ (Ch.21; page 210)

Jeeves has no particular reason for irritating Stoker here—the delay is simply Wodehouse milking his dénoument scene for all that it is worth. Notice how Bertie’s interventions, ostensibly to cut Jeeves short, are cleverly made to delay the issue even further.

aunt … Scarcely germane (Ch.21; page 211)

There might be a buried joke here. Bertie is using germane in the common modern sense of ‘relevant.’ However, since the original meaning of germane is ‘having the same parents’ (cf. Spanish hermano, brother), it would be hard for an aunt to be germane.

rising pheasant (Ch.21; page 212?)

Often described as “rocketing”; see Right Ho, Jeeves.

Great White Chief (Ch.21; page 212?)

In popular fiction of the time, supposedly Native American terminology for the President of the United States; figuratively applied to other leaders (as Lord Ickenham refers to his wife in Uncle Fred in the Springtime, ch. 3, as the Big White Chief), but here a little awkwardly referring to complexion rather than leadership. Compare “Big Chief”. [NM]

His eyes came out of his head like a snail’s (Ch.21; page 213?)

See page 89? above.

cognoscenti (Ch.21; page 213?)

See Lord Emsworth and Others.

passing through the furnace (Ch.21; page 213?)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

mirthless l. (Ch.21; page 214?)

There are at least a couple of dozen references to a “mirthless laugh” in Wodehouse, so the expansion of this abbreviation is unambiguous. Many of these are also described as hollow; see A Damsel in Distress. [NM]

loco (Ch.21; page 214?)

A colloquialism for insane, crazy; originally borrowed from Spanish into English in the Western United States.

Lo somebody’s name led all the rest … Abou ben Adhem (Ch.21; page 214)

Presumably Stoker hears this as ‘Have you been at them.’ Since he raised the subject himself it is a little surprising that he doesn’t recognise the name.

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
‘What writest thou?’ The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, ‘The names of those who love the Lord.’
‘And is mine one?’ said Abou. ‘Nay, not so,’
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still; and said, ‘I pray thee, then,
Write me as one who loves his fellow men.’

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.

James Leigh Hunt (1784–1859): “Abou Ben Adhem” (1835)

the County (Ch.21; page 215?)

The local nobility and gentry, the “upper crust” of the vicinity.

goofy as a coot (Ch.21; page 216?)

The usual phrase is “mad as a coot”; Sir Gregory Parsloe refers to Lord Emsworth that way in Summer Lightning, ch. 7.2. For more on the bird itself, see Summer Lightning.

Grade A. (Ch.21; page 216?)

Of the best of its type: a label applied by government inspection agencies to eggs, milk, and other products.

brought home the bacon (Ch.21; page 216?)

See Laughing Gas.

crux (Ch.21; page 219)

From Latin crux interpretum (the cross of interpreters) – the central element of a problem (as here). Sometimes also used for a particularly difficult or insoluble problem in a text.

Finesse (Ch.21; page 219)

French: subtlety

I am not made of marble. (Ch.21; page 219?)

Bertie means that, unlike a statue, he has physical desires: here, hunger. Bingo Little uses the same sentence to describe his emotional pain when Bertie mentions the name of Cynthia, for whom Bingo has an unrequited love in “The Purity of the Turf” (1922; in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923). Tuppy Glossop alludes to the “hunger” sense in Right Ho, Jeeves, ch. 9 (1934), when Bertie mentions the courses of Anatole’s dinner that Tuppy had refused on Bertie’s advice. Reggie Havershot, feeling the appetite of a growing boy as he inhabits Joey Cooley’s body in Laughing Gas (1936, ch. 11) also asks “Do you think I am made of marble?” when Joey (in Reggie’s body) mentions not having a sweet tooth as much as he used to. [NM]

to disinter the dead past (Ch.21; page 220?)

Yet another “dead past” allusion (see page 18 above and Biblia Wodehousiana), given additional thrust by using a verb meaning to dig up a grave. [NM]

one of those gossip-writers you find at the Drones (Ch.21; page 221?)

For example Tubby, Lord Bridgnorth, temporarily so employed in If I Were You (1931).

picked oakum at Dartmoor (Ch.21; page 221?)

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.

Dartmoor, Britain’s most notorious prison, is in the remote village of Princetown in the wildest part of southern England. It was opened in 1809, originally catering for French and American prisoners captured in the Napoleonic wars, and is still in use. It plays an important part in Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles, of course.

ties warmer than those of… (Ch.21; page 221?)

Bertie seems to be heading toward the stock phrase “than those of ordinary friendship” used regarding a budding romance or an engagement; see Laughing Gas. [NM]

frigid … caustic (Ch.21; page 222)

An odd pair of adjectives to use together, since in their scientific senses frigid means freezing cold, and caustic means burning or corrosive, whether by actual heat (same root as cauterize) or by strong alkaline chemicals. Figuratively, caustic speech is bitter and sarcastic. [NM]

dipsomaniac (Ch.21; page 222)


as good a Press as this (Ch.21; page 222?)

With the capital P, meaning praise from newspaper critics and commentators. [NM]

go through fire and water (Ch.21; page 223?)

See Biblia Wodehousiana for a possible Scriptural source; also a possible reference to the tests undergone by Tamino and Pamina in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. [NM]

the child is the father of the man (Ch.21; page 223)

My heart leaps up when I behold  
A rainbow in the sky:  
So was it when my life began;  
So is it now I am a man;  
So be it when I shall grow old,
      Or let me die!  
The Child is father of the Man;  
I could wish my days to be  
Bound each to each by natural piety.

William Wordsworth: Rainbows

It is a far, far better thing … (Ch.21; page 224)

This is Sydney Carton, on the way to the guillotine for rather similar reasons to Bertie’s.

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.

Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities, pt.3 ch.15

Chapter 22
Jeeves Applies for a Situation

Runs from pp. 225 to 229 in the 1999 Penguin edition

awful majesty of the Law (Ch.22; page 225?)

See Ice in the Bedroom.

raising Cain (Ch.22; page 226?)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Boat Race night (Ch.22; page 226?)

See above.

sang froid (Ch.22; page 226?)

French, literally “cold blood”; figuratively, calm, coolness, absence of excitement.

settled Dobson’s hash (Ch.22; page 226?)

The OED has citations for “to settle a person’s hash” dating back to 1795, meaning to cause the downfall or end of a person, to silence or subdue him.

Benstead (Ch.22; page 227)

See p. 39 above.

as sick as mud (Ch.22; page 227)

See Heavy Weather.

to shove the iron into the soul (Ch.22; page 227)

See p. 162, above.

…the old aristocrat mounting the tumbril (Ch.22; page 227)

The third reference to A Tale of Two Cities in this book.

that man of wrath (Ch.22; page 228?)

See Biblia Wodehousiana for a Scriptural source; Love Among the Chickens for other literary parallels.

Stalin (Ch.22; page 228?)

It may seem odd to refer to this real-life man of wrath in a humorous novel, but the repressions and purges which color our historical picture of him were yet to take place when this book was written. The earliest references to him so far found:

“Why, great Scott, I’d undertake to ingratiate myself with Stalin if I gave my mind to it.”

The Hon. Freddie Threepwood in “Company for Gertrude” (1928; in Blandings Castle and Elsewhere, 1935)

The sight of all those expensive cars rolling along, crammed to the bulwarks with overfed males and females with fur coats and double chins, made him feel, he tells me, that he wanted to buy a red tie and a couple of bombs and start the Social Revolution. If Stalin had come along at that moment, Freddie would have shaken him by the hand.

Freddie Widgeon in “Quest” (1931; rewritten with Mervyn Mulliner as “The Knightly Quest of Mervyn” in Mulliner Nights, 1933)

Archibald Mulliner is temporarily converted to Socialism in “Archibald and the Masses” (1935; in Young Men in Spats, 1936):

I don’t think a chap ought to be dancing at a time when the fundamental distribution of whatever-it-is is so dashed what-d’you-call-it. You don’t find Stalin dancing.

See Young Men in Spats for a note on the situation in 1935.

The Weasel, charabanc driver “ripe for the class war” who misinterprets Jane Abbott’s driving the injured Sam Bulpitt to a doctor in Summer Moonshine, ch. 19:

There had been a patrician hauteur in her voice which made him wish that Stalin could have been there to give her a piece of his mind.

See the commentary in the notes for Summer Moonshine and The Code of the Woosters. [NM]

Al Capone (Ch.22; page 228?)

Mentioned by name only one other time in Wodehouse’s fiction: [NM]

Personally, I’d sooner be somebody living in Chicago that Al Capone didn’t much like than your father’s valet.

Packy Franklyn to Jane Opal in Hot Water, ch. 7 (1931)

all six cylinders (Ch.22; page 229)

See Bill the Conqueror.

Thank you, Jeeves (Ch.22; page 229)

The trick of ending the book with the title also appears in several of the later Jeeves novels (e.g. Right Ho, Jeeves; Much Obliged, Jeeves; Joy in the Morning).

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