(A Legend.)

Punch, March 11, 1903


[How many a doctor or architect must own that his professional life consisted of two periods—one in which he was too young to be trusted, the other in which he was too old to be efficient.—Times’ leading article]

Oh, read my melancholy rhyme,
 Peruse my mournful ditty,
Two men there dwelt upon a time
 Within a certain city.
Both were distinctly men of parts,
Well versed in their respective arts.

To fell diseases of the kind
 That everyone who can shuns,
One of this pair had turned his mind,
 The other’s forte was mansions.
They were, as you’d no doubt expect,
A doctor and an architect.

The latter, when but twenty-nine,
 Planned a Titanic building,
A house of wonderful design,
 All marble, stone, and gilding.
Said he: “My fortune’s made, I wis,
Men can’t resist a thing like this.”

With eager hope his heart beat high,
 He took his plans up boldly,
And thrust them in the public eye:
 The Public viewed them coldly.
“Pray take that rubbish right away,
You’re far too young for us,” said they.

The doctor next, a gifted man,
 Whose brain-pan teemed with gumption,
Discovered quite a novel plan
 For dealing with consumption,
By treating each consumptive wight
With hard-boiled eggs last thing at night.

He told the Public of his scheme,
 But met with stern denial.
“Absurd,” said they, “we shouldn’t dream
 Of giving it a trial.
Apparently you quite forget
That you are barely thirty yet.”

The years rolled on. The doctor’s schemes
 Soared annually higher.
His fellow-sufferer covered reams
 With plans that found no buyer.
The Public eyed with gentle smiles
These energetic juveniles.

More years rolled on. The hapless pair
 Found life no whit the gayer.
The medico’s luxuriant hair
 Grew gradually greyer.
(The architect’s was nearly white,
Through sitting up too late at night.)

And then—the Public changed their mood!
 Their hearts began to soften,
They felt the doctor’s cures were good—
 (They’d had that feeling often).
They also chanced to recollect
The merits of the architect.

“Come, plan us mansions, bring us pills.”
 Their cry no answer rouses.
No one alleviates their ills,
 No one designs them houses.
Upon inquiry it appears
Each has been dead for several years.




Unsigned poem as printed; credited to P. G. Wodehouse in the Index to Vol. 124 of Punch.




Printer’s error corrected above:
In fifth stanza, magazine had “brain-pan teemed with   umption,” with enough extra white space at this point that it is evident that a letter had fallen out of the type. Not finding ‘umption’ in the original OED, I have presumed to correct it to ‘gumption,’ a word used at least three other times by Wodehouse.


Neil Midkiff