Vanity Fair (UK), August 11, 1904
[See attribution note on Vanity Fair menu page]

In the Stocks.

IN spite of the thunderstorm at Welbeck on Thursday, people stayed to listen to Mr. Chamberlain. There was no bolt.

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Pointing out the evils of infant-prodigy promoting, a medical paper remarks that “some of the prodigies play with skill and finish.” The majority, however, never seem to finish. That is our grievance.

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There is a clergyman of Pennsylvania who appears to be something of a humorist. “During the hot weather,” he said recently, “I hope that all ladies will come to church without their hats.” The women smiled cynically. What did the man think they came to church for?

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“Mr. Balfour,” we read, in a Parliamentary report, “spoke in a large and brilliant house.” M.P.’s are delighted with the second adjective, and are wondering who told the writer.

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What has the aristocracy done to Mr. Macbean, of Avenue Mansions, Clapham Common? For some reason he regards them with disapproval, rejects their overtures, and refuses them admittance when they call at his address. “Were there any noblemen or lords living at the flat?” asked counsel, in a case in which he was a witness. “No,” said Mr. Macbean, icily; “they were all respectable people.”

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Animal prodigies seem to be in the air just now. The Berlin Zoological Society is rejoicing in the possession of a sea elephant, and last Thursday Mr. Chamberlain is stated to have spoken to a “mammoth audience.”

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(“High Tea,” according to a medical journal, “is a deadly meal, containing albuminoids and tannin.”)

(Air: Bedelia.)

There’s a certain gifted dramatist who never cares to dine;
He abjures his soups, both thick and clear, his entrées and his wine:
Every evening at six-thirty, if a play he means to see,
He rings the bell and orders up high tea,
Though he knows how very deadly it must be.
  Pinero, you are a hero,
   For danger you care no pin:
  Albuminoids and tannin
   You tackle with a grin.
  You care not, though your digestion
   Such acts must surely mar;
  Oh! Pinero—ero—ero,
  You’re a hero, hero, hero,
   Yes, Pinero, yes you are.

Oh! Pinero, do be careful; my dismay I can’t conceal,
When I witness your devotion to that cataclysmal meal;
You’re the only man I know of who can write a play in style,
Most modern ones are absolutely vile,
So we shouldn’t like to lose you yet awhile.
  Pinero, you are a hero,
   But don’t be one any more:
  Your craving for eggs and muffins
   Your well-wishers must deplore.
  The stoutest of constitutions
   Curls up before high teas,
  So Pinero—ero—ero,
  Be a hero, hero, hero,
   On some other lines but these.

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There is going to be more trouble in Chicago, unless the custodians of the local Zoo promise to mend their ways. For some time past their habit of calling new monkeys by Irish names, as if the association of ideas were only natural, has been goading the Patsys and Mickys and Terences of Chicago into a state of suppressed fury. It wounded them when a chimpanzee was called “Murphy”; they were pained when a Capuchin was described in the catalogue as “Mulligan”; they bore up with difficulty on hearing a blue-nosed mandril publicly addressed as “Casey”; but when a new ourang-outang arrived, and was promptly named “Miss Dooley,” they shtood up f’r their rights, bedad, and demanded legal compinsation. It seems that every third man in Chicago is a Dooley; and the Zoo authorities are now afraid to go out-of-doors.

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“I have been trying to smoke a cigar,” says Mr. T. P. O’Connor, “since I was eight years old, and I haven’t yet succeeded.” He should throw it away and buy another one.

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Russia continues to baffle the foe with almost fiendish ingenuity. “The timely retreat of our Southern force from Taschichao,” says the Novoe Vremya, “has quite upset the Japanese plans.” The Japanese may have the best arms, but when it comes to legs they are simply nowhere.




Printed unsigned in Vanity Fair; entered by Wodehouse as “In the Stocks” for this date in Money Received for Literary Work. It is possible that not all individual items are by Wodehouse.




DANGERS OF MEAT TEAS. When the tannin of tea is taken into the system, apart from albuminoid material, it is quickly converted during digestion into glucose and gallic acid, the former being a useful food substance and the latter less injurious than the original tannin. If, however, the tannin is taken in conjunction with albuminoid matter – as in the horrible meal dear to the hearts of a certain class of English folk called a “meat tea” – a leathery compound is very soon formed. In fact, says the “Family Doctor,” “meat teas,” or any other similar combination of albuminoids and tannin, mean dyspepsia. (Lancashire Evening Post, July 15, 1904)
Meat tea (also known as high tea) is the evening meal or dinner of the British working class, typically eaten between 5 pm and 7 pm. It typically consists of a hot dish such as fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, or macaroni cheese, followed by cakes and bread, butter and jam.

John Dawson   


“Bedelia” seems to have been much on PGW’s mind during the summer of 1904, as this is the third reference in Vanity Fair alone. The popular American “Irish Coon Song Serenade” was written by Jean Schwartz and William Jerome, and published in 1903. You can see the sheet music and listen to an early performance at these links.
Arthur Wing Pinero (1855–1934) was a leading English playwright of both comedies and social-issue dramas.