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.

Bill the Conqueror has been annotated by Neil Midkiff, with substantial contributions from Diego Seguí [DS] and suggestions from Ian Michaud [IM] and others as credited below. It is a standalone novel with respect to its main characters, although Sir George Pyke (Lord Tilbury) and Percy Pilbeam return in later books.

Bill the Conqueror was first published on 13 November 1924 by Methuen & Co., London, and on 20 February 1925 by George H. Doran, New York. It was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post and in the UK Grand magazine prior to book publication; see this page for details of serial appearances. Both magazine serials contain passages omitted from the books; the SEP serial has a very few tiny cuts, and the Grand serial has significant omissions; at present only the initial episode of Grand, corresponding to the first two episodes of the SEP serial, has been transcribed, since it seems less authentic to Wodehouse’s original, for reasons explained in its endnotes. The cuts in the Grand serial are mentioned below only as they affect passages which are otherwise annotated; this document does not purport to describe all the omissions.

These annotations and their page numbers relate to the Doran first US edition, in which the text covers pp. 11–323. For those who are reading other editions, a table of correspondences between the page numbering of several published editions can be seen here.


His Invasion of England in the Springtime

Diego Seguí points out that the title and subtitle of the book contain a strong allusion to William, Duke of Normandy, who invaded England (but in the autumn, not the springtime), defeating King Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings, 14 October 1066, and then being crowned King of England; in history he is often called just “William the Conqueror.”

Chapter 1
A Marriage Has Been Arranged

Sir George Pyke … Roderick (p. 11)

This is our first glimpse of the newspaper magnate, soon to be known as Lord Tilbury; see the notes to Sam the Sudden (1925) for his real-life antecedent Alfred Harmsworth (Lord Northcliffe). He appears later in Heavy Weather (1933), Service with a Smile (1961), and Biffen’s Millions/Frozen Assets (1964).

Ian Michaud brings our attention to a bookseller’s listing for the original typed manuscript of the first few chapters of this book, bound and given as a gift to Jerome Kern. A pencil note to the publisher’s typist on the title page (image at right) reads: “I have changed the names ‘Ernest’ and ‘Dominic’ to ‘George’ and ‘Roderick’ throughout. If I have omitted to make the alteration in any place, will you do it. PGW.”

Pilbeam (p. 11)

Another character encountered here for the first time but by no means for the last. We meet him again in Sam the Sudden (1925), Summer Lightning (1929), Heavy Weather (1933), Something Fishy (1957), and Biffen’s Millions/Frozen Assets (1964).

Fleet Street … Tilbury House (p. 11)

Harmsworth (Lord Northcliffe) owned two buildings just off Fleet Street: Carmelite House, from which he issued his newspapers, and Northcliffe House, the home of his Amalgamated Press magazines. Wodehouse clearly created Lord Tilbury with Northcliffe as a model, and as Norman Murphy notes, did not do so until after Northcliffe’s death in 1922, possibly to avoid annoying a powerful man or even provoking a lawsuit; the resemblances are many, including the use of the name of his title for the name of his headquarters building.
[The Grand serial omits this passage, leaving these references to be made later in the novel.]

Mammoth Publishing Company (p. 11)

First mentioned in Something New/Something Fresh (1915) as the publisher of several newspapers and magazines as well as the British Pluck Library for which Ashe Marson writes the adventures of Gridley Quayle, Investigator under the pseudonym of Felix Clovelly. Norman Murphy noted in A Wodehouse Handbook the similarities to Harmsworth’s real-life Amalgamated Press, including Harmsworth’s Pluck Library.

buttons (p. 12)

The uniform jacket of a boy working as a page, messenger, or the like was conventionally decorated with one or more rows of close-set buttons to give a quasi-official, almost military air. See the illustration by A. Wallis Mills of Harold, the page boy at Twing Hall, in the Strand magazine appearance of “The Purity of the Turf” (1922). See also Albert, the page boy in A Damsel in Distress. Diego Seguí notes that in Spanish, a hotel bellboy is called a botones (literally “buttons”).
[The Grand serial omits the passage with the pageboy; this reference has nothing to do with Sir George Pyke’s Napoleonic pose with his right hand at his waistcoat buttons.]

Ilfracombe etc. (p. 13)

As we will see, Sir George has been offered a peerage; Wodehouse is inconsistent on the rank involved, referring to him as a viscount in Sam the Sudden and Heavy Weather, but only as a baron in Service with a Smile and Biffen’s Millions/Frozen Assets. In either case, it is a hereditary peerage that is being offered; other than a few judges ex officio, life peers did not exist until the Life Peerage Act 1958. Most of the fictional peerages in Wodehouse derive their title from British place names, and the list here contains several: Ilfracombe is a seaside resort on the North Devon coast; Barraclough is an alternate spelling of Barrowclough, near Wakefield in Yorkshire; Wensleydale is the valley near Wensley in Yorkshire, famous for a classic cheese; there is or was a Bighton-Woodshot in Hampshire; there is a Micheldever in Hampshire near Winchester. Forshore and Waynscote may be archaic spellings of “foreshore” and “wainscot”; Creeby is a family name. Diego Seguí finds a Marlinghue in a 1922 story by Burt L. Standish.
[The Grand serial omits this passage, mentioning a few of these potential titles later.]

about twenty pounds overweight (p. 13)

By the time of Heavy Weather he is about twenty-five pounds overweight.
[The Grand serial begins with the sentence containing the phrase above.]

Napoleonic (p. 13)

Norman Murphy again fills in the details: Northcliffe was a great admirer of Napoleon, and it is rumored that he chose the title in order to be able to sign himself simply “N” as did the Emperor.

the port of Sir George (p. 13)

The OED classifies this usage of port to mean “deportment, bearing, carriage” as archaic and rare in its online edition (last updated 2006), although (as Diego notes) it is not so labeled in the original 1907 print edition.

How Many Pins Does The Prime Minister’s Hat Hold competition (p. 15)

In a time of expanded literacy and avid competition among newspapers and magazines for the public’s attention and trade, contests with attractive cash prizes were a common publicity stunt in popular publications. The Globe By the Way Book (1908) satirized these; see the section “The Great Puzzles” in John Dawson’s annotated selection of items from the book.

Ian refers us again to Norman Murphy’s A Wodehouse Handbook, in which we learn that Harmsworth’s publishing empire made its breakthrough with an 1899 competition offering one pound per week for life to the person who came nearest to guessing “How Much Money Is There in the Bank of England?”

turn the corner (p. 15)

This phrase, for passing from an unsuccessful to a successful period in business or in health, reminds this Wodehouse reader of Aunt Dahlia’s Milady’s Boudoir in Right Ho, Jeeves (1934):

  “Is the Boudoir on the rocks?”
  “It will be if Tom doesn’t cough up. It needs help till it has turned the corner.”
  “But wasn’t it turning the corner two years ago?”
  “It was. And it’s still at it. Till you’ve run a weekly paper for women, you don’t know what corners are.”

Harrod’s Stores (p. 15)

See The Inimitable Jeeves (1923) for a history of the store and of the apostrophe in its name. The Saturday Evening Post serial, in accordance with that magazine’s editorial policy of avoiding real company names, disguises Mr. Shale’s employer as “Beasley’s Stores.”
[The Grand magazine serial omits this passage and Mr. Shale entirely.]

dictaphone (p. 16)

A trademark (1907) of the Columbia Graphophone Company for a wax-cylinder speech-recording device for business dictation; by 1923 the product was spun off into a separate Dictaphone Corporation. Wodehouse uses it as a generic name in lower case, but the Saturday Evening Post serial substitutes “dictating device” here to avoid naming a specific company.

Beaverbrook—Stratheden—Leverhulme (p. 16)

Lord Beaverbrook (Canadian-born Max Aitken, 1879–1964) was a newspaper magnate (the Daily Express, Evening Standard, and others) and politician, knighted and then in 1917 given a peerage for his wartime efforts. Stratheden is the name of a barony in Scotland, now Stratheden and Campbell; the first holder (1836) was a Baroness. The first Viscount Leverhulme was William H. Lever (1851–1925), co-founder of Lever Brothers, a highly successful soap manufacturer, though controversial because of his involvement in the soap trust. See Wodehouse’s 1906 satires “The Soap King’s Daughter” and “The Martyrs” and the annotations in the end notes to both. His title was created in 1922, shortly before the writing of the present book.

blacker than ever (p. 16)

These three words are cut in the SEP serial, among the very few slight cuts in that version.

Lucy Maynard (p. 17)

Ian Michaud wonders if Sir George’s late wife was some relation of Rose Maynard of “Honeysuckle Cottage” (1925). Their personalities seem similar although Rose, unlike Lucy and her son, had blonde hair and blue eyes.

Holborn Viaduct Cabin (p. 17)

This frugal lunch counter is apparently a Wodehouse invention; the viaduct itself is a road bridge in London, built in the 1860s to connect Holborn and Newgate Street in the City of London, spanning the valley of the subterranean River Fleet. Diego finds the Holborn Tavern as a possible influence, although the Viaduct Hotel was advertised as luxurious, not frugal.

do it now … motto (p. 17)

See Leave It to Psmith (1923) for background and mentions of a few of the dozens of uses of this phrase in Wodehouse, many of these capitalized or referred to as a motto or catchphrase.

One of Northcliffe’s editors recounts his use of the phrase in a 1916 newspaper campaign for stronger wartime leadership: “Get a smiling picture of Lloyd George and underneath it put the caption Do It Now, and get the worst possible picture of Asquith and label it Wait and See.” Once again Wodehouse transfers a characteristic of Northcliffe to his fictional counterpart Pyke/Tilbury.

For Asquith and his motto, see The Code of the Woosters.

In some such accents might King Lear have spoken of his children. (not in book)

This sentence appears in both magazine serial texts just before the speech in which Sir George says the next-listed phrase.

gave that boy his head (p. 17)

A phrase from driving a horse-drawn carriage, where “giving the horse its head” means slackening the reins so the horse goes in the direction it wants to go.

Walter Pater (p. 17)

Victorian British art historian and critic; see Summer Lightning for one example of his prose quoted by Wodehouse.

limp purple leather (p. 17)

Wodehouse often describes limp purple and squashy mauve bindings for pretentious publications of his overly-artistic writers and poets. See Leave It to Psmith and a later reference in the present book.

twice-told tale (p. 18)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

imbecile (p. 18)

At this point, the word imbecile was used by psychologists as a technical term for adults whose mental age was that of a child of three to seven, capable of fluent speech but unable to master the written language; for more on this, see Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man (1981). Its generic use as a popular term of invective (as in Sir George’s tirade here) and the introduction of IQ scores led to its abandonment by scientists.

female brain is smaller than the male (p. 19)

More fascinating history of the bad science behind this theory is in Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man (see previous note).
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

arbiter elegantiarum (p. 21)

Latin for a judge of artistic taste, first used for Petronius in Nero’s court.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

—the ones which Pilbeam, a jovial enthusiast, had described as the fruitiest of the bunch (p. 22)

This passage is the largest one cut in the first episode of the SEP serial.

Sir George’s frown (p. 22)

In the magazine serials, it is “Sir George’s Jovian frown”; that is, majestic and terrible as that of Jupiter. Not to be confused with “jovial,” an adjective somewhat contradictorily derived from the lighter side of Jupiter’s character or the supposed jollity of those under Jupiter’s astrological influence.

Kempton Park (p. 22)

See A Damsel in Distress.

Lucius Junius Brutus … comfort of his son (p. 23)

One of the founders of the Roman Republic in 509 BC, having helped to overthrow his uncle Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the last king of the Roman monarchy. His own two sons were involved in a conspiracy to return the royal family to power; Brutus became famous for stoically watching their execution.

Ian Michaud reminds us that Nanki-Poo, son of the Emperor of Japan in W. S. Gilbert’s libretto for The Mikado, was claimed in marriage by Katisha, an elderly lady of the court, and that:

My father, the Lucius Junius Brutus of his race, ordered me to marry her within a week, or perish ignominiously on the scaffold.

Diego Seguí notes that Galahad Threepwood tells a somewhat different account of Lucius Junius Brutus’s fame to Linda Gilpin in A Pelican at Blandings/No Nudes is Good Nudes, ch. 9 §2 (1969/70).
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

His voice was like that of a nervous Roman gladiator saluting the emperor before entering the arena. (not in books)

This sentence follows “said Roderick hopelessly” in both magazine serials. Suetonius, in The Twelve Caesars (Claudius, 21), records the gladiators’ salutation Ave, Caesar, morituri te salutant (“Hail, Caesar, we who are about to die salute you!”). Diego reminds us that Jill’s Uncle Chris quotes the Latin before going off to propose to Mrs. Peagrim in Jill the Reckless/The Little Warrior.

Wimbledon Common (p. 23)

A large open space of heathland in southwestern London, formerly the the property of the Earls Spencer, but designated in 1871 as public parkland for recreation and conservation. The adjacent private homes are naturally desirable residences; see The Mating Season for a list of Wodehouse characters who lived next to the Common.

alarm and despondency (p. 24)

See Ukridge.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

Hamadryad (p. 25)

A divine spirit in Greek mythology, a wood nymph born bonded to a tree.

always this way with girls (p. 25)

It is impossible for your annotator to resist the supposition that Wodehouse was influenced in this description by the maturing beauty of his stepdaughter Leonora, who was eleven when he met her in the spring of 1915, some months after marrying her mother Ethel, and thus would have been about twenty as this book was written. Some corroboration can be found in Alexander Woollcott’s description of her as “that lovely stepdaughter of Wodehouse” in a 1933 letter to Jerome Kern (The Letters of Alexander Woollcott, Viking Press, 1944, p. 117).
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

Why should I get up? (not in books)

This question precedes “I refuse to get up for anyone” in both magazine serials.

reseating himself (p. 25)

The magazine serials have a longer conversation following this. Passages omitted from the book text are highlighted in yellow; text omitted from the Grand serial is in dark red type:

  “You know, of course, that you are an abominable nuisance, child?” he observed, reseating himself.
  “Of course,” said Flick equably. “It’s awfully nice of you to offer me your chair, but I shall be perfectly all right down here on the grass.”
  “I wouldn’t give you this chair if you pleaded for it with salt tears,” said Mr. Hammond. “For one thing, you’re only going to stay a moment.”
  “I’m not. I’ve come for a nice long talk.”
  “Leave me, woman. Get back into your tree, you yellow-haired hamadryad. Can’t you see I’m busy?”

  Flick glanced up. She was looking, Mr. Hammond thought, unusually pensive. Her mouth was a little drooped and white teeth showed below her lip. Her blue eyes, which always reminded him of a rain-washed sky, were clouded. This surprised Mr. Hammond, for as a rule she took life lightly.
  “Are you really busy, uncle?”
  “Of course not. I was just wondering when you came out how I should find a decent excuse for stopping work. Something on the mind, Flickie?”
  Flick pulled at the grass thoughtfully.
  “Uncle Sinclair, you know you always say you never give advice to anybody.”
  “My guiding rule in life. I attribute my universal popularity to it.”
  “I wish you would give me some.”

avoided the society of his juniors (p. 27)

In this Sinclair Hammond resembles Peter Pett (Piccadilly Jim, ch. 1), Lord Emsworth (Full Moon, ch. 4 §4), and L. G. Trotter (Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 18).

but if Francie endorsed him that settled it (p. 27)

Magazine serials insert here the following dialogue, omitted from book versions:

  “Good-looking chap, too.”
  “Yes, in a way.”
  “Ah,” said Mr. Hammond, bravely trying to keep it light, “I see what the trouble is. Constant association with me has set your standards a little too high. You must be practical, my child. There is only one Sinclair Hammond in the world. You will have to resign yourself to something short of perfection.”

the chap in the Bab Ballads (p. 27)

The title character, Captain Parklebury Todd, of W. S. Gilbert’s comic poem “The Sensation Captain” (1868).
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

Terry’s Theatre (p. 27)

Built in 1887 on the site of the Coal Hole tavern, the 800-seat theater was converted to a cinema in 1910. Hammond would have been fourteen some thirty-nine years before the 1924 publication of this novel if he is fifty-three now (p. 26), which works out to about 1885, before the theater was built. Either Hammond is misremembering his age at the time of the infatuation or is thinking of a different theater.

The Saturday Evening Post serial goes into more detail; once again, passages highlighted in yellow are omitted from the book text, and text omitted in Grand is in dark red:

In my case it was the passion I conceived at the age of fourteen for a lady who played in comic opera at Terry’s Theater. I used to sneak off and watch her from the gallery and write for her autograph and wish I could save her from red Indians. I sent her a shilling box of chocolates once. Heavens, how I loved that woman! There was none like her—none. Those were the days when lovely, free, unfettered goddesses roamed the earth—between eight-thirty and eleven at night—with their beautiful limbs emphasized by frank satin tights. It hardly gave a fellow a chance. I was bowled over like a shot rabbit the instant I saw her. Still, I’m glad that for one reason and another we were not able to marry. I suppose she would be about seventy-eight now. Much better to have her image tucked away in my heart, always as good as new. . . . Well, now tell me your romance. From the way you were speaking, I’m sure you’ve had one. Out with it! Some fatal, fascinating boy with a jammy face and a Lord Fauntleroy suit whom you met at a birthday party, eh?”
  Flick smiled indulgently.
  “It isn’t quite so long ago as that.”
  “Oh, then there really was somebody? Come on, child, confide in me. I’m quivering with excitement. Very bad for me, too, at my age.”
  “You’ll laugh at me.”
  “Not I! You did not mock at my great love.”
  Bob, the Sealyham terrier, had wandered up. Flick rolled him over on his back and pulled his ears absently for a moment without speaking.


none like her—none: see annotations to Sam the Sudden.

Sealyham terrier (p. 28)

A breed of dog developed in Victorian times by Capt. John Edwardes at Sealyham House in Wales for hunting small game; it has a white wiry coat and a strong jaw. Males grow to 12 inches at the shoulder and 20 pounds. Popular in the UK and US in the 1920s, the breed is in danger of dying out today. The Wikipedia article has photos of Sealyhams both in show trim and informally ungroomed.

Cooley Paradene is one of my best friends. (p. 28)

The magazine serials have this longer passage here:

Besides, Cooley Paradene is one of my best friends. We both collect old books, which gives us an excuse for writing to each other. Only man in the world I do write letters to. I’m always urging him to come here and pay me a visit. But how does he come into the story?

All the beautiful-opalescent-dream stuff. (p. 28)

Magazine serials insert “fairy-prince and” before “beautiful-opalescent-dream”.

about five years ago … at Harvard (p. 28)

We learn in chapter 2 §1, that Bill is twenty-six, so this accords well.

snapped up by now. (p. 29)

After this, magazine serials insert “Heroes don’t lie around loose for long.”

Chapter 2
Bill Undertakes a Mission

William Paradene West (p. 31)

Many of Wodehouse’s young heroes were christened William and called Bill; even some male romantic leads with other given names were called Bill. It seems likely that his longtime friend Bill Townend may have been a reason for Wodehouse’s preference for the moniker.

Among the Bills who end up getting the girl are the Rev. Cuthbert “Bill” Bailey (Service with a Smile), Bill Bannister (Doctor Sally), Bill Bates (pretending to be Alan Beverley in “The Man Upstairs”), Bill Belfry (Earl of Towcester/Rowcester in Ring for Jeeves/The Return of Jeeves), Bill Chalmers (Lord Dawlish in Uneasy Money), Thomas “Bill” Hardy (The Purloined Paperweight/Company for Henry), Bill Hollister (Something Fishy/The Butler Did It), Bill Lister (Full Moon, Galahad at Blandings), Bill Oakshott (Uncle Dynamite), and Bill West in the present novel. Also, Detective Henry Pifield Rice is dubbed “Bill the Bloodhound” in the story of the same name.

Exceptions to the rule: A woman, Wilhelmina Shannon (The Old Reliable) is called Bill. Bill Brewster (Indiscretions of Archie) is romantic, but gets neither of the two girls to whom he is attracted. William Bates of the golf stories is about the only romantic William who is not called Bill. Willoughby “Bill” Scrope (The Girl in Blue) is now a confirmed bachelor.

clad only in a suit of meshknit underwear (p. 31)

Wodehouse’s characters often prefer this fabric, though usually not as a sole garment. One widely advertised brand, “Porosknit” (see advertisement at right), was even mentioned in the lyric to “Bongo on the Congo” from Sitting Pretty (1924); see also Plum Lines, Winter 1997, page 16, in which David Landman first alerted Wodehouse readers to the topic.

King Merolchazzar calls for his mesh-knit underwear in “The Coming of Gowf”. Bertie Wooster wears mesh-knit underwear in “Jeeves Makes an Omelette”. In Summer Lightning Percy Pilbeam hides in a caravan because he had taken his damp trousers off to dry them, and didn’t want to be seen in knee-length mesh-knit underwear. Mr. Scarborough of the Cohen Bros. brings knee-length meshknit pants to Biff Christopher, who really wanted trousers, in Frozen Assets/Biffen’s Millions. The real-life producer Arch Selwyn is described as losing not only his shirt but his mesh-knit underwear at gambling in Bring On the Girls.

Wodehouse himself mentioned mesh-knit underwear as one of the kinds of gifts he would be glad to receive from grateful readers in “Attention All Patrons” (Punch, 13 July 1958).
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

rose to a demoniacal crescendo (p. 32)

See Heavy Weather.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

cushat dove (p. 33)

See Cocktail Time.

large quarterly allowance (p. 33)

Present-day readers may well be surprised at the number of Wodehouse’s young heroes who are supported by family money doled out periodically by older relatives. Bertie Wooster describes himself as having been “more or less dependent” upon his Uncle Willoughby six years earlier, at the time of “Jeeves Takes Charge” (1916). Since we hear no more about the uncle or Bertie’s allowance, we must presume that he has inherited control over his money, until, in the late story “Jeeves and the Greasy Bird” (1966), he pretends to be dependent on an allowance from his Aunt Dahlia in order to make a breach-of-promise suit against him seem less likely to be lucrative. Bingo Little, when we first meet him, is dependent on an allowance from his uncle Mortimer Little, later Lord Bittlesham. Bruce “Corky” Corcoran gets a small quarterly allowance from his uncle Alexander Worple in “Leave It to Jeeves” (1916). Psmith gets an allowance from his father in addition to his meager income from the bank in Psmith in the City (1908/1910), as did Wodehouse himself. Spennie, Lord Dreever in The Intrusions of Jimmy (1910), loses his allowance after two years at college, when his uncle cuts him off after losses at gambling. Freddie Threepwood’s allowance was stopped before we meet him in Something Fresh (1915). Rocky Todd’s aunt gives him an allowance, with conditions, in “The Aunt and the Sluggard” (1916). The Duke of Dunstable, before succeeding to the title, had “an allowance big enough to choke a horse” (A Pelican at Blandings, 1969); in his turn he is obliged to help support his nephew Archie Gilpin with an allowance (Service with a Smile, 1961). Some other recipients of allowances include Jimmy Crocker (Piccadilly Jim, 1917), Galahad Threepwood (Full Moon, 1947, and others), Stanwood Cobbold (Spring Fever, 1948), Freddie Widgeon (Ice in the Bedroom and many short stories including “The Masked Troubadour”), Lionel Green (Money in the Bank, 1942), Bicky Bickersteth (“Jeeves and the Hard Boiled Egg”), Mervyn Mulliner (“The Knightly Quest of Mervyn”), and Tubby Vanringham (Summer Moonshine).

the trees of Central Park across the road (p. 33)

It is clear that Bill West is enjoying his large quarterly allowance in part by renting a well-situated apartment. Then and now, living adjacent to Central Park is highly desirable and correspondingly expensive. Plum and Ethel Wodehouse rented an apartment at 375 Central Park West in 1915–16, and he used “C. P. West” as one of his many pseudonyms in articles for the US Vanity Fair magazine during that period.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

voice … of Conscience (p. 34)

Many of Wodehouse’s characters, from the school stories onward, are possessed of an active conscience. Actual reported speech from Conscience is rarer; Ann Moon’s conscience speaks to her several times in Big Money (1931) and Lord Emsworth hears the voice of Conscience in “The Crime Wave at Blandings” (1936). Beach interprets Millicent’s call as the voice of conscience in Summer Lightning (1929); Jeff Miller has talked things over with his conscience in Money in the Bank (1942). Bertie Wooster would have taken Edwin the Boy Scout’s exclamation to be the voice of Conscience in Joy in the Morning (1947) if he hadn’t also said “Coo!” Indirectly reported messages of the voice of conscience can be found in Uneasy Money (1916), Piccadilly Jim (1917), Leave It to Psmith (1923), “Tuppy Changes His Mind”/“The Ordeal of Young Tuppy” (1930), “Excelsior” (1948), and Do Butlers Burgle Banks? (1968), among others.

beasts of the field (p. 34)

A frequent phrase in the Bible and literature, so it is impossible to say precisely which inspired this one. In Biblia Wodehousiana Fr. Rob Bovendeaard considers Daniel 4:32, in which Nebuchadnezzar dwells with the beasts of the field and eats grass, as the most likely parallel.

Harvard (p. 34)

Other Harvard men in Wodehouse’s fiction include James Datchett in the US version of “Out of School” (1909), Bob the cracksman in “The Gem Collector” (1909); John Maude and Rupert Smith in US versions of The Prince and Betty, Ashe Marson in the US version of Something New (1915), George Bevan in A Damsel in Distress (1919), the Oldest Member in the US book version of “The Heel of Achilles” (Golf Without Tears, 1924), Cyril J. Davenport in the American magazine version of “Monkey Business” (1932). Fillmore Nicholas, in The Adventures of Sally (1921/22), had been expelled from Harvard.
[The Grand serial substitutes “college” for Harvard in both places on this page, although Flick’s earlier mention of Bill at Harvard is retained in the serial.]

you were in the football team (p. 34)

Both magazine serials read “you made the football team” here, a more American locution which seems likely to have been Wodehouse’s original usage.

Uncle Jasper (p. 35)

There are many Jaspers in Wodehouse, and not one of them is nice. Many are “bad baronets” in the tradition of W. S. Gilbert; see Leave It to Psmith for a list of these. The present Jasper is not evil, but hardly worth supporting, as we will see.

Diego Seguí notes:
 The name Jasper seems to be somehow associated with villains in Victorian literature. Una McGovern in Dictionary of Literary Characters says that Jasper Milvain (a character from George Gissing’s 1891 New Grub Street) has a “stock villain’s name”. The most prominent baddie of this name, of course, is John Jasper from Dickens’ The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

exordium (p. 35)

A rare Latinate word, usually meaning the beginning part of any speech or document. Wodehouse seems to use it for a speech of chastisement (as here) or instruction (Money in the Bank, ch. 26), even after the lesson is finished; in Big Money, ch. 9, “Lady Vera began to deliver the exordium which she had roughed out in the train.” I wonder if Wodehouse was confusing this word with exhortation.

excrescence (p. 35)

From Latin roots meaning “growing outward”; most frequently used anatomically for an abnormal protrusion or swelling such as a wart or tumor. Figuratively, a useless or undesirable person or thing.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

old Adam (p. 36)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

collecting old books (p. 36)

Wodehouse’s frequent theatrical collaborator, the composer Jerome Kern, was an avid collector of rare books; he added a new room to his Bronxville home, twenty-four feet square, lined with bookshelves, about 1920, for his library of English and American first editions and manuscripts. See this article for more. It seems likely that Kern’s bibliophilia influenced the same mania in the character of Cooley Paradene.

cold shower (p. 37)

See A Damsel in Distress.

HEART-BALM (p. 37)

Though the idea here is clearly that of money awarded to soothe the emotional pain of a divorce, the term “heart balm” was more widely used in the awarding of damages in a breach-of-promise-of-marriage lawsuit, in which one party (usually the woman) could sue for financial damages if the other party (usually the man) had promised to marry but had broken the engagement. In response to widespread abuse of this sort of case, most US states had abolished “heart-balm laws” by the end of the 1930s. The UK did so in the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1970.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

super-film (p. 38)

See Leave It to Psmith.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

cuts three thousand feet (p. 38)

A bit of explanation will show this to be an exaggeration. In the early days of silent film, cameras and projectors were hand-cranked rather than motorized; from a nominal rate of sixteen frames per second set by Edison, speeds gradually advanced in order to give smoother motion without flicker, so that by the mid-1920s frame rates were typically in the range from 22 to 24 per second, close to the 24 adopted as the standard for sound film later in the decade. Still, it was typical during the silent era to describe the length of a movie in feet rather than minutes. As frame rates increased, the running time of a standard 1000′ reel decreased from about fifteen to about eleven minutes, so in 1924 three thousand feet would be on the order of thirty-five minutes, or about half the length of a standard feature, or roughly one-third of a super-film.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

parasangs (p. 38)

See Thank You, Jeeves.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

Such a frown as St. Anthony might have permitted himself (p. 39)

Wodehouse doesn’t explicitly specify which St. Anthony he means, but we can take this together with his other references:

  “I have it on the most excellent authority that you are entangled with a chorus-girl. How about it?”
  Hugo reeled. But then St. Anthony himself would have reeled if a charge like that had suddenly been hurled at him.

Summer Lightning, ch. 1 (1929)

  “What great good fortune that you should arriving on this particular day, my Packy, and that we should so happily have met. We will whoop it up.”
  St. Anthony might have equalled Packy’s stare, but only on one of his best days.

Hot Water, ch. 3 (1932)

 …on [Pongo’s] face a close observer would have noted at the moment an austere, wary look, such as might have appeared on that of St. Anthony just before the temptations began. He had a strong suspicion that now that they were alone together, it was going to be necessary for him to be very firm with this uncle of his and to maintain an iron front against his insidious wiles.

Uncle Dynamite, ch. 2 (1948)

  “My husband wouldn’t have the nerve to cheat on me if you brought him all the girls in the Christmas number of Playboy asleep on a chair.”
  This was a disappointment to Chimp, for he knew that he was at his best when obtaining the necessary evidence, but Grayce continued to look so rich that he crushed down his natural chagrin and inquired why, if Mr. Llewellyn was such a modern St. Anthony, she wanted an eye kept on him and his every move watched.

Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin, ch. 3 (1972)

The common theme of avoiding temptation pins the identification on St. Anthony of Egypt, also known as Anthony the Great and Anthony Abbot (c. 251–356), an early Christian hermit, often taken to be the founder of the monastic tradition in Christianity. His biography, written by the near-contemporary St. Athanasius, depicts a series of temptations by the Devil which Anthony resisted by the power of faith and prayer. More at The temptations have been the inspiration for paintings by Hieronymus Bosch and many others, as well as a novel by Gustave Flaubert.

[Thanks to Diego Seguí and Ian Michaud for suggestions.]

Never-Say-Die (p. 39)

Bertie Wooster notes that Worcester Sauce is an ingredient in Jeeves’s hangover cure in “The Delayed Exit of Claude and Eustace”; Jeeves mentions it generically among the ingredients in the magazine version of an early story:

It is the dark meat-sauce that gives it its color. The raw egg makes it nutritious. The red pepper gives it its bite.

“Jeeves Takes Charge” (1916)

In this story as collected in Carry On, Jeeves!, the proprietary name Worcester Sauce is used.

Karen Shotting identified spirits of ammonia as another likely ingredient in an article in Plum Lines, Summer 2018, page 13.

All female voices sound very much alike over the telephone (p. 40)

See A Damsel in Distress.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

cut the pages of a detective novel (p. 41)

In traditional hardcover bookbinding, a large printer’s sheet of paper containing several pages is folded once (folio), twice (quarto), thrice (octavo), etc. to make a signature, whose “spine” edge is sewn together; the signatures are then sewn and/or glued together along the spine edge in binding the book. Often the upper and lower edges of the pages would be mechanically trimmed in the binding process, but in smaller book sizes (octavo and beyond) some of the right-hand edges would still be connected as they were in the signature folding.

Some buyers preferred uncut pages as a guarantee that a book was new and unread, so it was worth it to them to carry a paper-knife (a not-very-sharp blade something like a letter opener) to separate the pages. Here Judson has used the stiff cardboard backing of a formal portrait photograph for the same purpose.

See also “Wilton’s Holiday” for another mention of using a photograph as a paper-knife.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

the nation’s songs (so much more admirable than its laws) (p. 42)

The sentiment “Let me write the songs of a nation, and I don’t care who writes its laws” is frequently attributed to Andrew Fletcher (1655–1716), but the original quotation, according to Bartlett, is:

If a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation.

Conversation Concerning a Right Regulation of Governments for the Common Good of Mankind (1704)

Many will think of the verse of the Irving Berlin song “Let Me Sing and I’m Happy”:

What care I who makes the laws of a nation;
Let those who will take care of its rights and wrongs.
 What care I who cares
 For the world’s affairs
As long as I can sing its popular songs.

Though this song is clearly influenced by Fletcher as well, it was not Wodehouse’s source; it was probably written in 1927 and registered for copyright as an unpublished work in 1928; Al Jolson introduced it in the 1930 film Mammy.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

look for the silver lining (p. 42)

Title of a 1919 song, lyrics by B. G. DeSylva, music by Jerome Kern, originally written for the unsuccessful musical Zip Goes a Million and reused in Sally (1920), a show to which Wodehouse contributed other lyrics, causing some confusion about authorship, especially since the later edition of the sheet music issued with a cover featuring the film version of Sally credits Wodehouse as sole lyricist.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

The lyrics of the song’s chorus:

Look for the silver lining,
When e’er a cloud appears in the blue,
Remember somewhere the sun is shining,
And so the right thing to do is make it shine for you.
A heart full of joy and gladness
Will always banish sadness and strife,
So always look for the silver lining,
And try to find the sunny side of life.

Diego Seguí contributes these further notes:

The source of the proverb “to every cloud there is a silver lining” can be traced to Milton’s Comus (1634), lines 221ff:

Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
I did not err: there does a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
And casts a gleam over this tufted grove.

The saying became popular in the second half of the 19th century. Apparently it started with the 1840 novel Marian, or a Young Maid’s Fortunes by A. M. Hall, which quoted Milton’s lines on the title page, and in ch. II attributes the saying to the character Katty:

Katty was so firmly resolved that no stigma should attach itself to her ward [Marian, the heroine], that she acted with more precipitation than prudence. The probability of her darling wanting the necessaries of life would have crushed a less hopeful spirit; but her own beautiful aphorism, that “There is a silver lining to every cloud,” supported her under privations which no mere worldly wisdom could have struggled through.

After this it is often quoted or used in titles, e.g.:
1850 “There’s a Silver Lining to Every Cloud”, poem [by Eliza Cook]
1853 The Cloud with the Silver Lining, novel [by Mrs. H. S. Mackarness]
1859 Cheerful Heart, or, “A Silver Lining to Every Cloud”, novel [anonymous]
c. 1863 “There’s a Silver Lining to Every Cloud”, ballad by Claribel [Ch. A. Barnard]

Wodehouse first used it in “Lines by a Host” (1904):

However, by idle repining
 There’s nought to be gained, so I hold;
And the cloud has its own silver lining—
 Some day this young man will grow old!

seek the Blue Bird (p. 42)

Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1908 play L’Oiseau bleu is the source of the concept of the Blue Bird as a symbol of happiness. Hundreds of songs mention this, but so far a search has not identified one from before this book was written.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

put all our troubles in a great big box and sit on the lid and grin (p. 42)

This is a slight misquotation of one of Wodehouse’s own lyrics, from the Bolton–Kern–Wodehouse musical Sitting Pretty, which had opened in April 1924. The published sheet music to “Worries” reads:

Crying never yet got anybody anywhere,
So just stick out your chin and
Shove all your worries in a great big box
And sit on the lid and grin!

[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

Old Man Trouble (p. 42)

This is another case where the song Wodehouse knew in 1924 was not the one we think of today. The Gershwins wrote “I Got Rhythm” originally for Treasure Girl in 1928, in a slow setting, and when that show closed after only 68 performances, it was reworked as an up-tempo number for Girl Crazy (1930), in which Ethel Merman made it a hit and herself a star.

The Fats Domino number “Old Man Trouble” by Jerry Smith is even more recent, from 1964. The combination of these two widely popular numbers makes searching for an early-1920s song with this phrase difficult.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

Diego Seguí finds two possibilities:
• “Old Man Trouble” (part song for mixed voices, words anon., music by Daniel Protheroe, copyrighted 1916)
• “Old Man Trouble” (for male voices, words from Washington Star, music by Stanley F. Widener, copyright 1918)

The latter goes:

Old Man Trouble has an irritatin’ way
Of makin’ conversation, when he hasn’t much to say;
He isn’t entertainin’ an’ he isn’t very wise,
An’ he simply hollers louder when he wants to emphasize.

Old Man Trouble never helps the work along,
He wants the world to stop an’ hear his wailin’ loud an’ long;
There’s no use interferin’ while he’s usin’ up his breath.
We hope he’ll keep on talkin’ till he talks hisself to death.

registering devotion, sympathy, and willingness (p. 43)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

Lucky Pig (p. 44)

According to one of the Oxford museums, pigs of gold, silver, or enameled porcelain were popular lucky charms in the era.

Diego reminds us that another lost lucky pig shows up in ch. 10 of Ice in the Bedroom (1961):

“I can wait. Say, listen. What I came about was that lucky pig of mine.”
“That . . . I beg your pardon?”
“Little silver ninctobinkus I wear on my bracelet. I’ve lost it.”

leaving the party any moment now (p. 44)

The Saturday Evening Post serial adds “and going home” to this sentence. The Grand serial omits this passage.

one of those peculiar Beasts in the Book of Revelations (p. 44)

Once again, Biblia Wodehousiana gives commentary. The formal title in the KJV is The Revelation of St. John the Divine; Wodehouse follows the popular error of making Revelations plural.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

oldest inhabitant (p. 44)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

family prayers (p. 46)

Wodehouse’s young characters often consider this practice an imposition on their freedom. Other homes with family prayers are mentioned in “Disentangling Old Percy” (1912), Piccadilly Jim, ch. 1 (1917), “The Début of Battling Billson” (1923), and in “Fate” (1931; in Young Men in Spats, 1936). US editions of Thank You, Jeeves also have a mention in a passage cut from UK editions.

There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune (p. 46)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse for more citations of this quotation from Brutus in Julius Caesar.

Yale Bowl (p. 46)

This football stadium in New Haven, Connecticut, was built in 1913–14, the first bowl-shaped stadium in the USA; its design and name influenced many other stadia including the Rose Bowl. Original seating capacity was 70,896.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

Westbury, Long Island (p. 48)

A village in Nassau County, New York, about 18 miles east of Manhattan along the Long Island Rail Road, and some seven miles east of Great Neck, where Wodehouse lived part of the time between 1918 and 1922. In the late 19th century what had been mostly an agricultural village was transformed by new wealthy residents who built “country” mansions which were still convenient to the city via rail; the upper-class section of town came to be called Old Westbury. In The Old Reliable (1951), Wilhelmina “Bill” Shannon once wrote a romance whose hero “was one of the huntin’, ridin’ and shootin’ set of Old Westbury, Long Island.” In Company for Henry (1967) the butler Ferris recalls disturbing goings-on at the Waddingtons’ country residence at Old Westbury.

Atlantic Monthly (p. 48)

Founded in 1857 in Boston as a magazine of literature, art, and politics, it has retained a prominent role in USA periodical publications to the present day, although in recent years it has dropped the Monthly from its title, changed to a ten-issues-per-year schedule, and moved to Washington, D.C.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

Quarterly Review (p. 48)

One of Britain’s most influential periodicals, founded in 1809 and published by John Murray. It concentrated on literary and political issues, generally with a moderate political philosophy. Its final issue came out in 1967.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

Mercure de France (p. 48)

Many French periodicals have appeared under the label Mercure since the 17th century; the present journal was founded in 1890 and became bimonthly in 1905.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

masses of laburnum (p. 48)

Several species and hybrids of laburnum, a decorative tree of the pea family, are commonly used in ornamental gardens; in spring they feature long clusters of golden-yellow flowers.

yestreen (p. 49)

A Scottish dialect variation of “yesterday evening” relatively much rarer in usage after 1910 or so. Spelled yestere’en in SEP serial; omitted in Grand.

Diego Seguí reminds us that Jimmy Crocker used it in Piccadilly Jim, chapter 4:

“Well, it’s a funny thing, but I can’t get rid of the impression that at some point in my researches into the night life of London yestreen I fell upon some person to whom I had never been introduced and committed mayhem upon his person.”

and that Bertie Wooster is fond of the word:

That matter we were in conference about yestereen.

“The Inferiority Complex of Old Sippy” (1926)

Why on earth didn’t you stop Miss Stoker from swimming ashore yestreen?

Thank You, Jeeves, ch. 11 (1934)

Waking next morning to another day and thumbing the bell for the cup of tea, I found myself, though still viewing the future with concern, considerably less down among the wines and spirits than I had been yestreen.

Joy in the Morning, ch. 5 (1946)

“You have not forgotten our telephone conversation of yestreen, Jeeves?”

How Right You Are, Jeeves, ch. 11 (1960)

Oh, love! Oh, fire! (p. 49)

Probably quoted from Tennyson’s “Fatima” (1833):

O Love, O fire! once he drew
With one long kiss my whole soul thro’
My lips, as sunlight drinketh dew.

[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

pale reptilian eye (p. 50)

An uncommon adjective in Wodehouse:

She had never yet been frightened of any man, but there was something reptilian about this fat, yellow-haired individual which disquieted her, much as cockroaches had done in her childhood.

Jill Mariner, gazing at Mr. Goble in The Little Warrior/Jill the Reckless (1920/21)

It was not Hugo who was Sue’s companion, but a reptilian-looking squirt with narrow eyes and his hair done in ridges.

Ronnie Fish’s view of Percy Pilbeam in Summer Lightning, ch. 4 §3 (1929)

old crumb (p. 50)

The OED calls crumb originally US slang for “an objectionable, worthless, or insignificant person” with citations only as far back as 1918. Another citation is Wodehouse’s use of it in Very Good, Jeeves referring to Sir Roderick Glossop, first published as the short story “Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit” (1927):

…Jeeves had been aware all along that this old crumb would be the occupant of the bed which I was proposing to prod with darning needles…

See also Uncle Dynamite, in which Otis Painter thinks this of Sir Aylmer Bostock.

[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

“Good God! … Is this Old Home Week?” (p. 51)

The SEP serial substitutes “Great heavens!” to soften Uncle Jasper’s oath. Old Home Week is a tradition originating in New England in the late nineteenth century, a festival celebrated in towns and villages either annually or every few years, in which former residents who grew up in the municipality are invited to return to their old home town during the festivities.

picking at the leather of an armchair with the nib of a pen (p. 51)

Reminiscent of Mary, Mrs. Charlie Ferris, in “At Geisenheimer’s” (1915):

She dug away at the red plush with the hatpin, picking out little bits and dropping them over the edge.

[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

“when a man has passed sixty he’s simply waiting for the end” (p. 51)

Wodehouse was not yet forty-three when he wrote this, but of course this is not his own opinion but that of a rather fluffy-minded character. In “Company for Gertrude” (1928) the title character at twenty-three feels the hopelessness of life, longing for “the ineffable peace of the grave” and mourning that it would be long in coming since “all our family live to sixty.” So this may just be a way of indicating the span of life as seen by a young person. Fortunately for us, Wodehouse would stay productive for another half-century, continuing to write into his nineties.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

“Save us a lot of money on the inheritance-tax” (p. 51)

At this time, there was no federal gift tax in US law; it was instituted in 1932 as a means of at least partly removing this incentive to distribute money to relatives during the donor’s lifetime. Since the gift tax rate was initially lower than the estate tax rate, there was still some benefit to making settlements, but at least the loophole Uncle Jasper envisions here was partly closed.
[The Grand serial omits this passage.]

The little man in the doorway (p. 53)

The SEP serial omits “little” here.

“thought it so sweet of you to invite us” (p. 53)

The SEP serial has “so cute and sweet of you” here; the Grand serial omits a large chunk of dialogue at this point.

Sensation. (p. 54)

See Summer Lightning.

wild surmise (p. 55)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

“Gee whistikers” (p. 55)

An apparently unique variant of “Gee whillikers”; most slang references treat this as a modified oath, with Gee for Jesus and the second part used as an intensive.

prunes (p. 55)

Slang dictionaries seem only to cite negative senses of “prune” for a disliked, foolish, prissy, or disagreeable person, frequently an older one; this seems to be Horace’s intent here. But see Right Ho, Jeeves for the variant form “young prune” with quite a different connotation.

frock coat (p. 55)

A man’s suit jacket which extended to a knee-length skirt all around its lower edge, originating as ordinary informal daytime wear in Victorian times, but gradually becoming considered more formal (especially in its double-breasted variety) and more conservative than newer styles of tailcoat with the front of the skirt cut away. By the time of this book, the frock coat was most often seen in political and diplomatic circles, so Professor Appleby’s choice of it was probably intentionally designed to give him an authoritative air. Edward VIII (later the Duke of Windsor) abolished the frock coat as official British court dress in 1936.

minor prophet (p. 55)

See Biblia Wodehousiana for Fr. Rob’s commentary.
[The Grand serial omits the first reference to “minor prophet”; this makes later ones a bit confusing.]

joyous gathering (p. 56)

A misprint in the US first edition (Doran, 1925). The SEP magazine serial and UK first edition read “joyless” here, obviously the correct version to match the context; the Grand serial cuts the last half of the sentence.

“Do I have to kiss them all?” he asked. (p. 56)

Both magazine serials add “apprehensively” after “he asked” here.

Eugenics (p. 56)

Capitalized in books, but lower-cased in both magazine serials, the term was coined in 1883 by Francis Galton to describe approaches to improving the genetic quality of the human population. It became associated with both scientists and pseudo-scientists, with political and social movements across the spectrum, and was widely discussed and promoted in the early decades of the 20th century. In retrospect, especially after the racial purity policies of Nazi Germany became known, many earlier supporters of eugenics have been viewed as racist, white supremacist, xenophobic, and otherwise dangerous to human liberty and equality. It is interesting to see Wodehouse viewing proponents of eugenics with suspicion and disfavor even as early as 1914’s The White Hope (later in book form as The Coming of Bill, 1920), in which Lora Delane Porter is portrayed as an interfering crank, and this book, in which Professor Appleby pretends to be a eugenicist for criminal ends. Even Bertie Wooster is suspicious of Aunt Agatha’s concern for “the future of the race” in “Scoring Off Jeeves” (1922, collected in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923, as chapters 5–6).

Ian Michaud reminds us that this book has some similarities to the plot of the musical comedy Sitting Pretty (Bolton–Wodehouse–Kern, 1924), in which William Pennington, a grumpy old man not nearly as nice as Uncle Cooley Paradene, is a passionate believer in eugenics. He set the plot in motion by disinheriting his worthless, sponging relatives, and setting out to create a new family by adopting a son named Horace (much older than the boy in the book; played on stage by 25-year-old Dwight Frye, later famous in horror movies) and a daughter from the neighbouring orphan asylum, with the plan to breed them to produce “fewer but better Penningtons.” His plans were upset by the fact that his nephew Bill and the new daughter fall in love, while Horace, besides being in love with the new daughter’s twin sister, was working the inside stand with his Uncle Jo in a plot to loot the Pennington estate of its valuables.

Bernard Shaw … new race (p. 56–57)

Even in early works like Cashel Byron’s Profession, Shaw mentions eugenics in terms of choosing a mate with complementary strengths to balance weaknesses. A 1914 critical study noted that “he degrades a character in order to convince us how very necessary it is to breed a new race and not waste time tinkering with such inferior stuff.”

But Shaw’s vision had a very ugly side; as early as 1910 he said “We should find ourselves committed to killing a great many people whom we now leave living... A part of eugenic politics would finally land us in an extensive use of the lethal chamber. A great many people would have to be put out of existence simply because it wastes other people’s time to look after them.” His later statements on the subject are too repugnant and specific to quote here.

to fall squashily to the floor (p. 57)

The SEP serial omits the last three words.

as popular as a cold welsh rabbit (p. 58)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

sanguine countenance (p. 59)

In the classical theory of temperaments, those whose personality is ruled more by the blood than by other fluids such as phlegm and bile are called “sanguine”; they tend to be cheerful, optimistic, and outgoing. Wodehouse seems not to be using the term in this manner for Mr. Paradene; here it refers to having a ruddy complexion, as in the “red clean-shaven face” of his first description (p. 52).

ten dollars a week (p. 59)

Roughly equivalent in buying power to $150 in 2019, according to this website.

perfect peace (p. 60)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

a tale of desert love (p. 60)

We learn a few pages later that this is Sand and Passion, a title not found in libraries today according to, so presumed fictitious. The popularity of the desert romance genre was sparked by the success of E. M. Hull’s 1919 novel The Sheik and its 1921 film version starring Rudolph Valentino.

Diego points out that a few months earlier than the appearance of this book in serial form, in “Rodney Fails to Qualify” (1924), Jane Packard is reading The Love That Scorches by Luella Periton Phipps, “all about the desert and people riding on camels and a wonderful Arab chief with stern yet tender eyes and a girl called Angela and oases and dates and mirages and all like that.”

dust-coat (p. 60)

A long light overcoat worn to protect clothing from being dirtied while driving or riding in an open automobile or carriage. See “The Deserter” for an illustration from a 1905 school story. Billie Dore wears one for motoring in chapter 8 of A Damsel in Distress.

“Hallo,” said this young man, spitting out gravel. (p. 60)

Both magazine serials have “Hullo” here, and after this sentence add the additional speech “How’s everybody?”

coming up the drive at a pretty good lick (p. 61)

The OED calls the sense of lick as “a spurt at racing, a short brisk spin” as colloquial and as originally American, also in Australian and New Zealand usage. This seems to be the first usage in Wodehouse in this sense; earlier it has the more common meaning of “defeat” most often, as well as for a literal application of the tongue and in “a lick of paint.”

fairway (p. 61)

Judson uses golfing jargon here, seeing the drive ahead as part of the course; see A Glossary of Golf Terminology.

“Good God!” said Judson. (p. 61)

The SEP serial substitutes “Huh!” for the oath here and after the mention of the Fifth Avenue Silks on p. 63, and omits it entirely on p. 62, after Roberts disclaims acquaintance with Town Gossip.

Broadway BadinageTown Gossip (p. 62)

Apparently fictional periodicals. The four-line exchange with Roberts beginning with the first of these is omitted in the Grand serial.

AK points out that the titles of these may have been influenced by real-life scandal sheets Broadway Brevities and Town Topics, though these were scurrilous rags that made a lucrative sideline in blackmail, and there is no indication that Judson felt anything but pride at being mentioned in the ones he names.

kindly physician … healing fluid (p. 62)

Roberts seems to agree with Bertie Wooster and other Wodehouse characters who look upon alcoholic beverages as restorative or as a bracer. Judson will make similar arguments for the health-giving properties of alcohol later in the book.
[The Grand serial omits the sentence referring to “kindly physician.”]

“Mix it pretty strong, will you?” (p. 62)

The SEP serial substitutes “Fix” here.

as a hen does of tooth-powder (p. 63)

The expression scarce as hen’s teeth is proverbial, but Wodehouse tweaks the cliché by mentioning a powdered dentifrice instead.

the Sunday magazine section of the American (p. 63)

Somewhat unusually, Wodehouse refers to a real newspaper, the New York American, published by William Randolph Hearst from 1895 to 1937, when it merged with his New York Journal to become the Journal-American. It had been founded in 1882 by Albert Pulitzer as the New York Morning Journal. The Sunday magazine section was typically a 16-page insert, printed in rotogravure for better reproduction of photographs and illustrations, beginning in 1896. A web page of illustrations from the American Weekly. The SEP serial avoids naming a specific publication by substituting “three Sunday magazine sections” here.
[The Grand serial omits the passage.]

“Because if there is I’m sunk.” (p. 66)

Both magazine serials read “Because if there is I’m in very Hollandaise” (“hollandaise” in SEP). Hollandaise is a sauce made by whisking egg yolks and lemon juice together, cooking lightly, then stirring in butter until the sauce thickens; the sauce is then seasoned with salt and usually some kind of pepper or paprika and kept warm until ready to serve. Other than the possibly mistaken reference to “ravioli hollandaise” in chapter 16 of The Adventures of Sally (chapter 12 in the US magazine serial) this seems the only mention of the sauce in Wodehouse. Of course this is a clever variant on “in the soup” (see The Inimitable Jeeves); one wonders why the book editors decided to substitute the very ordinary “sunk” here.

a particularly unspiritual wart-hog (p. 66)

The African wild pig of this name (genus Phacochœrus) makes a few appearances in Wodehouse, and not one is complimentary:

“But this girl is probably one solid mass of brain. She will look on me as an uneducated wart hog.”

Chester Meredith, speaking of Felicia Blakeney in “Chester Forgets Himself” (1923)

“Bertie, you have about as much imagination as a wart hog, but surely even you can picture to yourself what Jimmy Bowles and Tuppy Rogers, to name only two, will say when they see me referred to in print as ‘half god, half prattling, mischievous child.’ ”

Bingo Little in “Clustering Round Young Bingo” (1925)

And when, as happened a little farther on in the scene, Monty had called his former employer a fat, double-crossing wart-hog, the latter had terminated the interview by walking away with his hands under his coat-tails.

Heavy Weather, ch. 15 (1933)

“I don’t mind informing you that in my opinion you are behaving like a hound, a skunk, a worm, a tick, and a wart hog.”

Chuffy Chuffnell speaking to Bertie Wooster in Thank You, Jeeves, ch. 13 (1934)

“I shall be very terse about Tuppy, giving it as my opinion that in all essentials he is more like a wart hog than an ex-member of a fine old English public school.”

Bertie Wooster speaking of Tuppy Glossop in Right Ho, Jeeves, ch. 13 (1934)

“And do you know what he’s gone and done now, the old wart-hog?”

Reggie Tennyson speaking of J. G. Butterwick in The Luck of the Bodkins, ch. 3 (1935)

“Uncouth young wart hog.”

Lord Ickenham speaking of Ricky Gilpin in Uncle Fred in the Springtime, ch. 6

“The only thing that can make me feel better is to thrash that pie-faced young wart-hog Fittleworth within an inch of his life.”

Lord Worplesdon in Joy in the Morning, ch. 28 (1947)

Gally’s monocle came swinging round at Jerry like the eye of a fire-breathing dragon. His face was hard and set.
“You abysmal young wart-hog!”

Pigs Have Wings, ch. 4 §iii (1952)

I thought this showed a vindictive spirit in the old wart hog and one that I deplored, but I felt it would be injudicious to say so.

Bertie Wooster, referring to Sir Watkyn Bassett in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 18 (1963)

Take a wart hog, add a few slugs and some of those things you see under fIat stones, sprinkle liberally with pimples, and you will have something which, while of course less loathsome than Alexander Prosser, will give you the general idea.

Bingo Little to Mabel Murgatroyd in “The Word in Season” (as revised for A Few Quick Ones, 1960)

Slingsby (p. 68)

This somewhat unusual surname seems to have been a favorite with Wodehouse. First used by Jeremy Garnet in Love Among the Chickens (1906, 1909, and 1921 versions, but not in US magazine serial) as Tom Slingsby, a character who saves the peppery old father in Garnet’s short story “Hilda’s Hero.” The chauffeur at Blandings Castle in Something New/Something Fresh (1915) is named Slingsby. Wilfrid Slingsby is the unscrupulous manager in this book, Bill the Conqueror. Alexander Slingsby of Slingsby’s Superb Soups and his wife Beatrice appear in “Jeeves and the Spot of Art” (1929). Theodore Slingsby is the butler at Langley End in If I Were You (1931). Horatio Slingsby is the author of Strychnine in the Soup in the short story (1932) of the same title. Crispin Scrope places his racing bets with Slingsby’s in The Girl in Blue (1970).

Mark Hodson found a real Slingsby family at Scriven Park, near Knaresborough; see Cocktail Time. Diego notes that the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names shows the surname as deriving from the village of Slingsby in North Yorkshire.

“As solemn as a what-d’you-call-it!” (p. 71)

The most common completions seem to be “as solemn as a judge” (anonymous) and “solemn as an owl,” attributed to Goethe in this collection of similes along with several other possible comparisons. Wodehouse seems not to have used any form of this simile elsewhere.

Romano’s (p. 71)

See A Damsel in Distress.

the Savoy bar (p. 71)

In the Savoy Hotel.

“get this into your nut” (p. 71)

Wodehouse masterfully contrasts Appleby’s professorial demeanor in the earlier scene in Mr. Paradene’s library with his slangy word choices when alone with Horace. The colloquial “nut” for “head” is cited as far back as 1841 in the OED.

good and solid in this house (p. 71)

Both magazine serials read “joint” instead of “house” here, which must have been Wodehouse’s original intention. See Sam the Sudden for more on the word choice.

picking daisies (p. 71)

Idling away one’s time; not attending to business. Compare:

I turned to Aunt Agatha, whose demeanour was now rather like that of one who, picking daisies on the railway, has just caught the down-express in the small of the back.

Bertie Wooster, in “Aunt Agatha Takes the Count” (1922)

Another use is in Money for Nothing.

Joe the Dip (p. 71)

Dip is nineteenth-century American slang for a pickpocket, first cited in the OED from an 1859 dictionary of thieves’ jargon.

bone-headed (p. 72)

US slang, with citations dating from 1883 in the OED, describing an unintelligent, stupid, or thoughtless person, by analogy to “thick-skulled”: leaving little room for brains. The OED cites Wodehouse’s use of it in Something Fresh (1915; in US as Something New), and he used it in roughly a dozen stories. For unknown reasons the SEP serial of Bill the Conqueror substitutes “dumb” here, which hardly gives the same flavor.

hook, line and sinker (p. 73)

Completely; the analogy is to a fish who eagerly snaps at the angler’s bait and swallows not only the fish hook and part of the fishing line, but also the lead weight (sinker) attached to the end of the line. This sentence from Bill the Conqueror is one of the example quotations for the phrase in the OED, among citations from 1838 to 1945. Other uses in Wodehouse:

Mrs. Gedge, he stated with confidence, had swallowed his story, hook, line, and sinker.

Packy Franklyn in Hot Water, ch. 14 §1 (1932)

…it was scarcely half an hour later that Dolly, having been informed over the telephone by her second in command that Mr. Twist had swallowed the whole setup, hook, line and sinker, and might be expected at the tryst any minute now, made her way to Lord Uffenham’s pantry.

Money in the Bank, ch. 15 (1942)

Chapter 3
Flick Pays a Call

the manner in which Spring comes to England (p. 74)

In “The Tuppenny Millionaire” (1912), Wodehouse refers to those tourists on the French Riviera

who wished to avoid the rigours of the English spring.

proletariat (p. 74)

This term for the working or lower classes had been borrowed from French into English by 1847, even before the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels was published in 1848 in German and in 1850 in English. Wodehouse used it at least as early as 1911:

Harold, the proud office-boy, lost his air of being on the point of lunching with a duke at the club and perspired like one of the proletariat.

“Three from Dunsterville”

Claridge’s (p. 75)

See Summer Lightning.

We grey-beards (p. 75)

As noted above, Wodehouse was not yet forty-three when writing this. SEP serial has “graybeards” here.

syncopated appearance (p. 75)

No earlier appearance of this pair of words has been collected in Google Books, and this sentence is the first-cited example in the OED for the figurative use of syncopated. The term is more common in music, denoting the placement of musical notes at spots in the measure where accents do not normally fall, giving a shifting or flickering effect to the rhythm, a technique common in ragtime and jazz. Here the water’s ripples bend light rays to give a similar flickering effect to the view of the fish.

lightning changes (p. 76)

A clever reversal by Wodehouse of figurative to literal use of this phrase! The reference is to the vaudeville performer who single-handedly portrays multiple characters, dashing behind a screen for an instant to alter costume, makeup, and/or wig and coming out as a different personality; he or she would be billed as a quick-change or “lightning change” artist, as described in the article linked here.

There was an exclamation of patient anguish on the other side of the window, such as Prometheus might have uttered when his torment became almost too hard to bear. (only first half sentence, p. 76)

Both book editions stop at “window”; Grand serial omits the paragraph entirely. Only SEP serial includes the mythological reference to the everlasting torment of the immortal Prometheus, chained to a rock forever, whose liver is eaten each day by an eagle, only to regrow each night for the next day’s attack, until Heracles kills the eagle and breaks the chains.

Diego Seguí finds more:
 Wodehouse alludes to Prometheus’ punishment elsewhere (e.g. The Little Warrior, ch. 4 §3: “Prometheus, with the vultures tearing his liver”; Big Money, ch. 7 §1: “like Prometheus watching his vulture”; and possibly whenever he wrote about vultures gnawing at someone’s entrails; see annotations to Lord Emsworth and Others). As can be seen, he regularly associates Prometheus with a vulture, but the more respectable sources, like Aeschylus or Hesiod, coincide in speaking of an eagle (Greek aietós). One who did have his liver eaten by vultures (Greek gýps) was the giant Tityos, according to the Odyssey, book XI.

Fortnightly (p. 76)

The Fortnightly Review was an influential magazine, founded in London in 1865, and dedicated to “the unbiassed expression of many and various minds on topics of general interest in Politics, Literature, Philosophy, Science, and Art.” Wodehouse joked in “Journalistic Jottings” (1908) what might happen to its contents if it were acquired by C. Arthur Pearson, publisher of newspapers and magazines for the masses.

“Crawshaw and Francis Thompson” (p. 76)

Both book editions read as above; Grand serial omits the paragraph; SEP reads “Crashaw” here. Francis Thompson (1859–1907) was an English poet and mystic, best remembered for the poem “The Hound of Heaven.” Crashaw (as in SEP) refers to Richard Crashaw (c.1612–1649), an English metaphysical poet, an Anglican cleric who converted to Catholicism. Diego Seguí notes that poet and critic Coventry Patmore (1823–1896) compared “Mr. F. Thompson, a New Poet” to Crashaw in an 1894 article in, yes, the Fortnightly Review.

When I have leisure—which, may I say politely but firmly, at the moment I have not—I will give you some statistics… (p. 77)

Both magazine serials read as above. Both book versions omit the phrase set off by dashes.

putting up the spout (p. 79)

See Lord Emsworth and Others.

popping (p. 79)

British slang for pawning, cited by the OED as far back as 1731 (Henry Fielding); OED includes Bertie’s use of it talking to Aunt Dahlia in Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit (1954):

“Pawned it?” I said.
“Pawned it.”
“Hocked it, you mean? Popped it? Put it up the spout?”

Mario’s Restaurant (p. 80)

See Ukridge.

three-mile limit (p. 80)

At the time of writing, most nations claimed that their legal authority extended three nautical miles (5.6 km) beyond their shoreline; since 1982 the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea has been adopted by most nations to define territorial waters as 12 nautical miles (22 km) from shore. In 1924, Prohibition was in force in the USA (Eighteenth Amendment and Volstead Act, 1919–1933), so even a British ship’s bar would be closed until beyond the three-mile limit. (Liners registered under the American flag observed Prohibition no matter where they sailed.)

Aquitania (p. 80)

A real-life ocean liner of the British Cunard Line, launched 21 April 1913, in service 1914–1950, including service as a troop carrier in both world wars. Before being reconfigured in 1926, it carried 618 first class, 614 second class, and 2,004 third class passengers plus a crew of 972.

Bill, he had felt, was ever a kidder (p. 80)

The OED gives both British and American citations for “kidder” in the late nineteenth century and a 1900 one from George Ade’s Fables in Slang, which we know Wodehouse enjoyed and mined for colloquialisms. Wodehouse’s own first use, in “The Rough Stuff” (1920, collected in The Clicking of Cuthbert, 1922), is cited in the OED.

shades of the prison-house began to close about the growing boy (p. 80)

From Wordsworth, Intimations of Immortality; see The Inimitable Jeeves.

This, thought Bill, was encouraging; and he spurned the pavement of Piccadilly as buoyantly as one of Mr. Marlowe’s satyrs treading the antic hay (p. 81; only first part in book)

Both book editions and Grand serial finish the sentence after “encouraging.” The SEP serial alludes to Christopher Marlowe’s play Edward the Second, in which Gaveston declares:

And in the day, when he shall walk abroad,
Like sylvan nymphs my pages shall be clad;
My men, like satyrs grazing on the lawns,
Shall with their goat-feet dance an antic hay.

The antic hay was a rustic dance, also alluded to by Wodehouse in Money in the Bank, ch. 13 (1942), and in Pigs Have Wings, ch. 1 §3 (1952).

Things, he felt, were looking up (p. 81)

The song “Things Are Looking Up” may come to mind, but it had not yet been written by George and Ira Gershwin when this book was written; it was part of the score of the 1937 film of A Damsel in Distress. It is pure speculation, but tempting to believe that Ira’s lyric for this Wodehousean film may have been influenced by this sentence, also used in Summer Lightning (1929) and If I Were You (1931); other lyrics in the film are explicitly based on Wodehouse phrases, especially the song “Stiff Upper Lip.” The usage of the phrase “looking up” for an increase in value originated in nineteenth-century financial circles, as for stock prices, and then generalized to any favorable expectation.

This new arrival was made of sterner stuff altogether (p. 82)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

bounder (p. 83)

British colloquial term for a cad, one whose manners are outside the norms of society; originally cited in an 1889 slang dictionary. Both magazine serials use the American term “four-flusher” instead here, defined as “a pretender, braggart, humbug” in the OED. The root is from the game of poker, in which a four-flush is a worthless hand, a failed attempt at getting five cards of a single suit.

Battersea. Marmont Mansions. (p. 85)

The Battersea area of London is on the less-fashionable south bank of the Thames, connected to Kensington and Chelsea by the Albert Bridge, the Battersea Bridge, and the Chelsea Bridge. Its most striking current landmark, a now-disused power station, was built in 1933, and so was not present when this book was written. One of its most pleasant aspects is Battersea Park, on the south bank of the Thames between Albert Bridge Road and Chelsea Bridge Road/Queenstown Road; its southern boundary is Prince of Wales Drive. Blocks of mansion flats were built beginning in the 1890s on the south side of the Drive, thus overlooking the park. In one of these, Prince of Wales Mansions, Wodehouse himself lived for a time in 1913 at Number 94; in the 1952 novel Pigs Have Wings Jerry Vail lives at Number 23 in Prince of Wales Mansions; in the 1961 novel [The] Ice in the Bedroom Leila Yorke recalls living in a flat there early in her married life. Since in real life none of the mansion blocks is called Marmont, and Wodehouse had a practice of using sites he knew in his fiction, it is easy to assume, as N.T.P. Murphy did in In Search of Blandings, that Marmont Mansions is a pseudonym for the real-life Prince of Wales Mansions. [Thanks to IM for reminding us of the parallel location.]

the ungirt loin (p. 86)

Figuratively, casual or incomplete dress; Jeremy Garnet looks forward to the same in original editions of Love Among the Chickens (1906–09) as he contemplates life in a rural retreat. See Biblia Wodehousiana for Fr. Rob’s take on this.

the shop in the Burlington Arcade (p. 87)

A covered passage in London, connecting Piccadilly with Burlington Gardens, lined with small luxury shops. Built in 1818 by George Cavendish, 1st Earl of Burlington, adjacent to his Burlington House; it is an early example of the shopping galleries of Europe and a precursor of today’s shopping malls. Both magazine serials read “the store on Forty-Second Street” here, suggesting a New York origin for the socks.

In “The Delayed Exit of Claude and Eustace” (1922), Bertie Wooster’s Old Etonian spats were bought in the Burlington Arcade. His ties come from Blucher’s (fictitious) in the Burlington Arcade in “The Indian Summer of an Uncle” (1930, in Very Good, Jeeves).

go off with a swing (p. 87)

The OED currently has only a single citation from 1976 for the phrase “go with a swing” for “a lively, successful party or other entertainment or undertaking.” I have submitted this earlier example of this sense.

hole-in-the-sockful (p. 87)

Apparently a Wodehouse coinage; not found elsewhere in an Internet search. An amusing “-ful” condition after listing three “-less” states.

“a skinny kid, all legs and freckles” (p. 88)

A similar change was noted above by Sinclair Hammond, but more elegantly expressed.

semi-nude (p. 88)

Bill’s “orthodox views on costume” must be strict indeed if he categorizes being in his shirtsleeves as semi-nude. Wodehouse also uses the term for workout costume in “The Physical Culture Peril” (1914) and, in “The Story of Webster” (1932), budding artist Lancelot Mulliner is urged by his uncle, a bishop, to avoid

a career which must inevitably lead sooner or later to the painting of Russian princesses lying on divans in the semi-nude with their arms round tame jaguars.

In “George and Alfred” (1967), The Great Alfredo suggests adding comic juggling to a forthcoming biblical epic motion picture which has “more seminude dancing girls than you could shake a stick at, but where are the belly laughs?”
[The Grand serial describes Bill here simply as “shod and clothed.”]

walk as far as Sloane Square (p. 91)

If we assume that Marmont Mansions is a pseudonym for Prince of Wales Mansions, the walk counterclockwise around Battersea Park and across Chelsea Bridge to the Sloane Square Underground station would be 1.2 miles, about a 24-minute walk, according to Google Maps. From Sloane Square, the District Underground line gives a 10-minute journey (today) to Blackfriars station, and a seven-minute walk to Fleet Street, less than half a mile.

looked upon life and found it a wash-out (p. 91)

A total failure; see The Inimitable Jeeves.

pouched (p. 92)

Put into a pocket, hence taken for one’s own. OED cites Wodehouse using “pouching” in “Comrade Bingo” (1922).

Chapter 4
Activities of Judson Coker

turned the corner into Queen’s Road and presently found himself on Chelsea Bridge (p. 94)

Modern maps show the Queen’s Circle roundabout at the southeast corner of Battersea Park and denote the road along the east side of the park merely as A3216; further south the A3216 is also called the Queenstown Road today. Judson is taking the counterclockwise path around Battersea Park in any case.

thirteen shillings, two sixpences and five pennies (p. 94)

The two sixpences together are equivalent to another shilling, so this is the same as the amount of fourteen shillings and fivepence on the next page. This is about 0.721 pounds in 1924 terms; multiply by a factor of about 60 (Bank of England inflation calculator 1924–2018) to give approximately £43 in modern terms.

If you don’t speculate, Judson was well aware, you can’t accumulate. (p. 94)

Standard dictionaries of quotations have not yet pinpointed the origin of this maxim, but Google Books finds it quoted as if already familiar in an Australian parliamentary debate of 1903. Wodehouse used it at least as early as 1913 in the form “He does not speculate, so he does not accumulate” (“The Small Gambler”), in a context implying that this may be a standard come-on of the racetrack bookie. Corroborating this, Claude “Mustard” Pott, a retired Silver Ring bookie, says it to Lord Bosham in ch. 14 of Uncle Fred in the Springtime (1939) when encouraging him to play a game of Persian Monarchs. Also, Captain Biggar quotes ‘Honest Patch Perkins’ using the same phrase in Ring for Jeeves, ch. 1 (1953)/The Return of Jeeves, ch. 5 (1954).

the sum of forty shillings and fivepence (p. 95)

This is a misprint in the first US edition; all other versions have fourteen shillings and fivepence here.

one majestic orgie (p. 95)

The SEP serial spells this “orgy”; the OED calls the spelling used in book editions and the Grand serial “now rare.” Following its classic definition as rites celebrating Bacchus, the term for most of its history denoted drunken revelry; only in the latter part of the 20th century did connotations of licentious sexual activity become the most common use of the word.

And this was the first time he had managed to shake off his limpetlike guardian. (not in books)

This sentence is in both magazine serials, following the sentence about orgy/orgie cited above.

Chelsea Barracks (p. 95)

Until 2008, a British Army barracks originally built in 1862, replaced in the 1960s with concrete tower barracks; those have now been demolished and the site is being redeveloped.

cosy little dolls’-houses in Lower Sloane Street (p. 95)

This Google Street View of Lower Sloane Street gives the impression that this part of London at least looks much as it did in 1924. One needs to be rich as well as respectable to live there today, according to estate agent listings for current leases.

that haven where he fain would be (p. 95)

A line often found in hymns and religious poetry, e.g.:

Now the Christian’s bark behold
 Lonely on life’s troubled sea;
He shall reach with joy untold
 The haven where he fain would be.


This is the traditional Christian image (of medieval vintage; see E. F. Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, pp. 128–130) of life as a storm-tossed ship that finds harbor in God. Wodehouse elsewhere applies the metaphor in its secular sense to his heroes and heroines, e.g.:

[John] held out his arms in a soldierly manner, and Pat came into them like a little boat sailing into harbour after a storm.

Money for Nothing, ch. 15.1 (1928)

“I find it very gratifying to reflect that Chuffy’s storm-tossed soul has at last come safely into harbour.”

Thank You, Jeeves, ch. 6 (1934)

“I see Sally as a little storm-tossed boat that has put into harbour after the dickens of a gruelling from the winds and waves, and can now take it easy for a bit.”

Uncle Dynamite, ch. 9.3 (1939)

[Note by DS]

King’s Road (p. 95)

The present A3217, heading roughly southwest from Sloane Square. Google Maps shows plenty of retail establishments and a few restaurants and sandwich shops, but few if any pubs today near the Sloane Square end of the road.

As he stood there pawning (p. 95)

A misprint in the first US edition; UK book and both serials read “pawing” here.

frock-coat (p. 95)

See above at p. 55. The mix of formal and informal wear recalls other such sartorial hodgepodges in Wodehouse:

A black tail-coat, burst at the elbows and stained with mud, was tightly buttoned across his chest, this evidently with the idea of concealing the fact that he wore no shirt—an attempt which was not wholly successful. A pair of grey flannel trousers and boots, out of which two toes peeped coyly, completed the picture.

Spike Mullins in The Intrusions of Jimmy (1910)

His neck was swathed in a green scarf; he wore an evening-dress coat; and his lower limbs were draped in a pair of tweed trousers built for a larger man. To the north he was bounded by a straw hat, to the south by brown shoes. … He appeared to possess no shirt, though this defect was offset by the fact that the tweed trousers fitted snugly under the arms.

“Archie and the Sausage Chappie” (1920)

can’t get a drop … in America (p. 96)

Referring to Prohibition; see under three-mile limit above.

West End (p. 96)

A term with a number of overlapping meanings: for London’s theatre district (parallel to Broadway for that of New York City); for the region immediately west of the medieval walled City of London; for the fashionable upper-class residential districts there such as Mayfair; for the upscale commercial and retail establishments that serve those residents. One definition includes Mayfair, Soho, Covent Garden, Fitzrovia, and Marylebone; this area is roughly bounded by Regent’s Park on the north; Paddington and Hyde Park on the west; Westminster on the south; Temple and Holborn on the east. Therefore much of London is “west of the West End” including Kensington, Chelsea, and Sloane Square, relevant to the present book: see p. 98 below.

Charing Cross (p. 96)

Not the Underground station east of Trafalgar Square currently called Charing Cross, but rather the station now called Embankment, on the southeast side of Charing Cross railway station. The Underground station bore the name of Charing Cross from 1915 to 1974, then was called Charing Cross Embankment until 1976, when the name was simplified to Embankment as today. Judson would have traveled from Sloane Square on the District line (the Circle line does not appear on Tube maps till 1949), and as we shall see (p. 98) missed his stop and went two stations further to Blackfriars.

twopence (p. 96)

There were 12 pence in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound sterling, so this is 1/120 of a pound. Applying the inflation factor of 60 mentioned above, we get the equivalent of half a pound today, which seems relatively cheap; I doubt if many weekly papers are available for 50p today.

Church Times (p. 96)

An independent weekly newspaper aimed at Anglican readers, founded in London in 1863 and still going strong.

Spectator (p. 96)

A weekly British magazine dealing with politics and current affairs, founded in 1828 and still going strong. It probably took its title from the eighteenth-century paper founded by Addison and Steele, but has no direct lineage from it.

beaten him over the head with a sand-bag (p. 97)

Here, a leather or eelskin tube filled with sand, designed to knock a criminal’s victim unconscious without leaving a mark; a softer cousin of the cosh or blackjack.

a gap in the make-up (p. 97)

An empty space in the layout of the printed page.

passage that has so stunned Judson (p. 97)

Typo in the US first edition; all other versions read “had” here.

ague (p. 97)

An illness, such as malaria, which causes chills and fever.

bearing a raging Judson westward (p. 98)

An error in both magazine serials and the US first edition; the UK book correctly says “eastward” here. See above or any London map for a confirmation that Sloane Square is west of the West End. Wodehouse was back and forth between the US and England during the years prior to writing this book, even living in the St. James’s neighborhood of London, between these two areas, for part of 1923; it is difficult to imagine him making this elementary error in geography, and yet the error is in three of the four original versions. Perhaps a typist misread his manuscript, or thought that one would have to go west to get to the West End.

full apology and retractation (p. 98)

Both books read thus; both magazine serials have the simpler form “retraction” here.

“I knew that Personal column would be a success.” (p. 102)

Wodehouse had frequently quoted items from American Wit and Humor (1900) during his days on the “By The Way” column in the Globe newspaper in the first decade of his literary career. The story here is slightly elaborated, but the punch line is nearly the same as in the 1900 book. Wodehouse used the same story earlier in chapter X of Psmith, Journalist (1909/1915). [Thanks to DS for the parallel reference.]

a warm admirer of the sex (p. 102)

“The sex” as shorthand for “the female sex” dates from 1589 but is now out of common use. The SEP serial substitutes “her sex” here.

Niece by marriage, Pilbeam understood. (not in books)

Both magazine serials add this after “boss’ niece”; it is one sentence separated by a semicolon in Grand and two sentences in SEP.

“let’s walk along the Embankment … and go to the Savoy” (p. 103)

Since Tilbury House is but a step from Blackfriars station, we know this is a walk of just under a mile, mostly along the built-up north bank of the Thames. For the Savoy, see A Damsel in Distress.

wafted away like some Homeric warrior snatched from the thick of battle in a cloud (p. 104)

Diego Seguí notes: In the Iliad, several heroes are snatched from battle in a cloud by the gods. The most famous case is that of Paris (III.373–382), who is saved from death by Aphrodite during his duel with Menelaus; Idaeus (V.20–24), Aeneas (V.311–317, 343–346), Hector (XX.441–444) and Agenor (XXI.595–598) are rescued in a similar manner. Patroclus’ body is also covered with a mist by Zeus to prevent the Trojans from defiling it (XVII.268–273, 366–369).
  The Menelaus–Paris episode:

And now would Menelaus have dragged him away, and won glory unspeakable, had not Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, been quick to see, and to his cost broken in twain the thong, cut from the hide of a slaughtered ox; and the empty helm came away in his strong hand. This he then tossed with a swing into the company of the well-greaved Achaeans, and his trusty comrades gathered it up; but himself he sprang back again, eager to slay his foe with spear of bronze. But him Aphrodite snatched up, full easily as a goddess may, and shrouded him in thick mist, and set him down in his fragrant, vaulted chamber. [transl. A. T. Murray, Loeb]

There is an earlier example in “Ruthless Reginald”:

Reginald felt as those Homeric warriors must have felt who, when they had, after great trouble, succeeded in rattling an opponent, had the mortification of seeing him rescued by some local god of unsportsmanlike nature, and conveyed to a place of safety in a special cloud.

“Say, listen!” (p. 105)

In the stories so far uploaded to Madame Eulalie, Wodehouse puts “Say, listen!” into the mouths of American characters only; his British-born characters (e.g. Freddie Rooke and Archie Moffam) exclaim “I say, listen!” instead.

a shilling and a sixpence (p. 105)

Considered here as physical exhibits as well as coin of the realm, a note on the silver coinage of the era may be useful. From 1920 to 1946 the silver content of both shilling and sixpence was 50%. The British shilling coin was 23.6 mm in diameter, about 0.93 inches, and weighed 5.66 grams. For comparison, the USA quarter dollar coin is 0.955 inches in diameter (about 24.3 mm); the current copper-nickel clad quarters weigh 5.67 grams, almost exactly the same as the old shilling. The sixpence was 19.41 mm in diameter and weighed 2.83 grams. It was slightly smaller and quite a bit thinner and lighter than a USA nickel coin, at 21.21 mm diameter and 5 gram weight, but slightly larger and heavier than a USA dime coin, which is 17.91 mm diameter and 2.268 grams.

she had taken an Underground train to Wimbledon (p. 106)

Wimbledon station was the southern terminus of a branch of the District line, according to a 1923 tube map. The closest station to the Savoy Hotel is the station then called Charing Cross, now called Embankment, also on the District line. The trip today takes 35 minutes.

if he had not been interrupted (p. 106)

The SEP serial inserts a word here: “if he had not been unexpectedly interrupted.”

Chapter 5
Night Operations at Holly House

my brother’s keeper (p. 107)
return to the fold (p. 107)

See Biblia Wodehousiana for both of these Scripture references.

the heir of the Cokers (p. 107)

Usually referring to a young man who is at present the last of his line, the descendant of all the others in his family. Wodehouse repeats this locution referring to Judson in chapter 12 §3 (p. 242) and in chapter 16, p. 272; he also uses it in other books:

The heir of the McCalls looked up from his cereal.

“Washy Makes His Presence Felt” (1920)

“Jolly old William, the son and heir of the Brewsters?”

“Mother’s Knee” (1920)

His friendship with the heir of the de Blissacs dated back to the brave old days in New York, and something told him that the other was going to start talking about them.

Hot Water, ch. 2 §1 (1931)

A little more of this, he was feeling, and the heir of the Bunyan millions would be growing so spiritual that his society would be a pleasure.

Something Fishy, ch. 18 (1957)

[Billie Bennett was] looking affectionately across the table at the heir of the Mortimers, who, finding Mr. Bennett’s medical confidences a trifle fatiguing, was yawning broadly, and absently balancing his wine glass on a fork.

Referring to Bream Mortimer in The Girl on the Boat, ch. 9 §2

See also “heir of the ages” in The Code of the Woosters.

out where the West End begins (p. 108)

A play on the familiar phrase “out where the west begins” referring to the American frontier; popularized by American poet Arthur Chapman (1873–1935) in a 1910 poem of that title, which became the leading poem and title of a 1917 collection, then, set to music by Estelle Philleo, became a popular song. Wodehouse would also parody it in a song lyric about “Men With Whiskers” in America, I Like You (1956), in which he claims:

What this country needs is men with whiskers
Out where the best begins.

there was no lift (p. 108)

The SEP serial substitutes the word “elevator” here.

Bill laughed a frosty laugh. (p. 109)

Both magazine serials have a “hard” laugh here.

a train in the Subway (p. 109)

Judson, a New Yorker, uses the name of his own city’s underground railway rather than calling it the Underground or the Tube as a Londoner would. Both magazine serials have “subway” in lower case.

pie-faced (p. 110)

See Very Good, Jeeves.

Marconi … hadn’t invented the telephone (p. 110)

Judson is clearly too distraught to remember that Guglielmo Marconi developed wireless telegraphy and that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, according to both magazine serials and the USA first edition. The UK book, however, substitutes “wireless” for “the telephone”; this must have been due to a Methuen editor who didn’t get the joke. Both magazine serials interrupt Judson’s speech before this sentence to interject the narration “He laughed witheringly.”

Three on the what-not (p. 110)

The term “what-not” (with a hyphen or a space, or run together as one word) pops up often in Wodehouse, either as a term for something whose name is not mentioned or as an equivalent to et cetera, sometimes especially used by Wodehouse’s dude characters as a marker for indecision of speech; see A Damsel in Distress. Here it simply means a piece of light open furniture with shelves for displaying miscellaneous decorative items.

graven upon his heart (p. 110)

Wodehouse laughs at Judson’s intensity of purpose by using a metaphor more commonly encountered in religious imagery or poetic flights of fancy; Browning declared that the name of Italy would be found grav’d inside of his heart, for instance.

kicked him in the slats (p. 111)

USA slang for the ribs, first cited 1898 in the OED. See also Lord Emsworth and Others and The Luck of the Bodkins.

Basius Secundus (p. 112)

Diego Seguí found that Wodehouse lifted this description of bookishness from an article by journalist Burton Rascoe (1892–1957) about author and critic Ernest Boyd (1887–1946), originally published in the New York Tribune, and quoted in Boyd’s 1924 book Portraits: Real and Imaginary.

Toward other matters, social, moral or political, he maintained a complete indifference: so long as men did not attribute to Basius Secundus sentiments which had actually been uttered by Aristides, of Smyrna, and did not misconstrue in translation the exact meaning of a phrase, it mattered not a whit to him how they cast their votes, what beliefs they subscribed to or what breaches of decorum they were in the habit of observing.

Aristides of Smyrna (p. 112)

In full Publius Aelius Aristides Theodorus (117–181), orator and author of the Second Sophistic period in Greece. After an earthquake in 177 destroyed Smyrna, Aristides successfully appealed to Marcus Aurelius for funds to rebuild the city.

Robert Burns’s Poems (p. 112)

The 1786 Kilmarnock edition is the most desired by book collectors, since it was the first publication and the rarest; only 612 copies were printed. As of 2012 only twelve copies were still in private hands, and one sold for £40,000. More of the history of surviving copies, including a mention that Jerome Kern (see above) once owned a copy, now in the Florida State University library.

“I am going to Speak To Her” (p. 113)

Both books read as above, and continue the emphasis in the next paragraph in which “Sir George was still Speaking To Her.” The SEP serial does not use the capital letters, but adds an exclamation point to the first sentence. Grand also omits capitals, but puts speak to her and speaking to her in italics. Capital letters seem more consistent with Sir George’s habit of thinking and speaking in maxims such as Do It Now. [Thanks to IM for noticing these differences.]

“An excellent idea” (p. 114)

Wodehouse deftly and economically illustrates Sinclair Hammond’s status in the house by contrasting Mrs. Hammond’s response to her husband with her response to the same suggestion when made by her brother Sir George.

busting the fellow one on the snoot (p. 116)

The OED cites this Wodehouse usage as one of the example sentences for snoot, a dialect and slang variant of snout or nose. Wodehouse also uses it in Laughing Gas (1936) and Summer Moonshine (1937).

Fulham Road; Putney Bridge; Putney Hill (p. 116)

The Fulham Road is the present-day A308 as it heads southwest in a straight line through Chelsea; its designation changes to A304 through Coleridge Gardens and Fulham. Putney Bridge, a five-span stone bridge over the Thames designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, was opened in 1886; its present width of three lanes dates from 1933, so at the time of the story was only two lanes wide. The bridge’s southern end connects with Putney High Street, which then is called Putney Hill as it rises to the plateau of Wimbledon and Putney Common, at an elevation from roughly 140 feet at the northern end near Putney to 170 feet further south.

the Duke of Wellington … had waited for Blücher (p. 117)

Prussian field marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher (1758–1819) brought his army to the assistance of Wellington’s British and allied forces at the Battle of Waterloo, arriving late in the afternoon of 18 June 1815. Their assistance proved decisive in defeating Napoleon’s army. Wellington later wrote of the Prussians:

The time they occupied in approaching seemed interminable. Both they and my watch seemed to have stuck fast.

thews and sinews (p. 117)

See The Code of the Woosters.

left-tackle on a Harvard football team (p. 117)

A player of Bill’s size would be completely overwhelmed by the college football players of today; the average height of the offensive line of the 2018 Harvard team is six feet four and seven-eighths, and their average weight is just over 281 pounds.

send ancient Vikings berserk (p. 119)

Wodehouse uses the specific adjective for the situation: berserk comes from Norse myth; the berserkers were a class of warriors who worked themselves into a frenzy before battle and fought with insane and savage fury. [IM]

makes modern Malays run amok (p. 119)

Another culture-specific term: Malays who harboured a hidden, brooding ill-feeling were said to run amok when they suddenly erupted in a violent frenzy. [IM]

captain of her soul (p. 121)

I am the master of my fate:
 I am the captain of my soul.

W. E. Henley (1849–1903): “Invictus” ll. 15–16

alarms and excursions (p. 122)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

dream and let the world go by (p. 122)

Diego Seguí finds a possible source in the poem “Sunshine” by Robert W. Service (appealing, because PGW quotes Service elsewhere); other less likely sources are “A Prelude” and The New Pandora.

fine frenzy (p. 123)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

Walpurgis Night (p. 124)

April 30, the night before May Day; according to German folklore, celebrated by witches reveling with the Devil on the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz mountains. Celebrated in northern Europe and Scandinavia as a modern holiday with bonfires, noisemakers, fireworks, vigorous dancing, loud music, and costumed revelry.

seeking whom he might devour (p. 124)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

strength of the company (p. 125)

Originally military jargon used when assessing the combat-readiness of a command organization; only healthy and well-trained soldiers counted toward the strength. Wodehouse uses the phrase often, variously speaking of a group of students, athletes, onlookers, family members (as in chapter 17, p. 277 of this book) or the complete cast of a theatrical show.

The man who lays a hand upon a woman, save in the way of kindness (p. 126)

See Piccadilly Jim.

trying to get past him on the football field (p. 126)

Both magazine serials have the more specific “trying to make a ten-yard gain round the end” here.

“Biffed you over the head with a stick!” said Flick, marvelling. (p. 128)

In both magazine serials, Flick’s speech is interrupted by Bill’s response “Sloshed me.” before she goes on to ask who hit him.

“Marry that blighter!” (p. 128)

This reads “Marry that oil can!” in SEP and “Marry that oil-can!” in the Grand serial.

smoked a thoughtful pipe (p. 130)

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

You poor impulsive ass (p. 131)

Both magazine serials read “You poor impulsive nut” here.

from the mantelpiece and what-not (p. 131)

The SEP serial reads “from mantelpiece, whatnot, and elsewhere” here. We do know that two were on the console-table and one on a bracket near the door (section 1 of chapter 5), so this is indeed more accurate.

You did dose off for a minute or two. (p. 132)

Both magazine serials read “doze” here. OED lists dose as an alternate spelling used in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, but it is more compelling to think of this as a typographical error in the books rather than a deliberate archaism.

leaped into a cab and flew for his life (p. 135)

The SEP serial has “fled for his life” here.

to advertise in the Personal column of the Daily Mail (p. 135)

A real-life paper to which Wodehouse contributed in his early journalistic career as well as in his later fiction; see this menu page for a description of the paper and links to the early work.

“That must have been Judson.” (p. 135)

In both magazine serials, Bill continues: “It’s too long to explain now, but it just shows that even Judson is of some use in the world.” Possibly the sentence was removed to avoid redundancy with “a world in which even Judson had his uses” in chapter 20.2, page 314 of the US edition.

hoof it all the way home (p. 138)

We don’t know just where Holly House adjoins Wimbledon Common, so can only estimate a walk of five or six miles to Marmont Mansions. This should not have been a burdensome exercise for a young man—Wodehouse himself walked similar distances regularly even late in life—so this reinforces Wodehouse’s portrait of Judson as in debilitated condition.

Jermyn Street Turkish baths (p. 138)

London’s first Turkish bath opened in Jermyn Street in 1862.

on the fritz (p. 138)

In an unsatisfactory condition; out of order. OED citations begin in 1900 from slangy dialect articles in USA newspapers, and include this sentence from Wodehouse.

Call it a pound in round numbers (p. 138)

Judson is rounding up heavily; there are twenty shillings in a pound, so he is asking for about half again what he spent on the cab. Both magazine serials read “sovereign” instead of “pound”; a sovereign was a gold coin worth a pound, with the image of the current monarch on it.

Chapter 6
Horace Changes His Mind

Unless anything occurs to alter my plans (p. 139)

The SEP serial has “something” here.

to sail for England (p. 139)

Mr. Paradene will of course take a steamship, not a sailboat.

Browning’s own copy of Pauline (p. 140)

Pauline: A Fragment of a Confession (written in 1832, published in 1833) is Robert Browning’s first published poem, described by critic Arthur Symons as “a sort of spiritual biography.” A London publisher reproduced a facsimile edition of Browning’s own copy of Pauline, with penciled notes by the author, in 1887 in an edition of 400. The original is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Paracelsus (p. 140)

A five-part epic poem by Robert Browning about a sixteenth-century Swiss scientist. The first edition was indeed published by E. Wilson in 1835.

Strafford (p. 140)

A historical tragedy, a five-act drama in verse by Robert Browning. The first edition was indeed published by Longmans in 1837.

Pierpont Morgan’s collection (p. 140)

Banker J. Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913) was one of the most important financiers in the world, helping to capitalize the growth of the American railroad and steel industries and supplying credit to partly stabilize the economy during panics in 1893 and 1907. His collection of art and books was turned into a public institution by his son J. P. Morgan Jr. in 1924; see The Pierpont Morgan Library web site to appreciate the scope of his collecting.

I would not take twenty thousand for it. (p. 140)

The US book is the only edition which does not specify “twenty thousand dollars” here.

foaming at the mouth … Had Roberts been a dog… (pp. 140–41)

A classic symptom of rabies, although not always present; the rabies virus infects the salivary glands, making them overactive, as well as suppressing the ability to swallow.

a cloud no bigger than a man’s hand (p. 141)

A scriptural allusion to the first inkling of something big to come. See Biblia Wodehousiana.

he forced himself to inquire (p. 142)

The SEP serial simplifies this to “he inquired.”

Imperiousness had vanished and curiosity occupied his mind (p. 142)

The SEP serial erroneously leaves out “had vanished” here.

“He called me one or two names which … I have not forgotten.” (p. 143)

Compare Roberts’s pique to the suavity of Jeeves:

“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)

A dazzling light shone on his darkness. (p. 143)

See the second item for this section at Biblia Wodehousiana.

“Good God!” he exclaimed. “You don’t mean there was soap in it!” (p. 143)

The SEP serial omits “Good God!” and moves “he exclaimed” to the end of the second sentence.

the feeling which the ancient Romans used to call desiderium (p. 143)

See Sam the Sudden.

an extra ten dollars in the monthly envelope (p. 144)

A rough equivalent would be $150 in 2019 dollars, according to consumer price index data.

Mr. Sherman Bastable, his tutor (p. 145)

One of seven characters in Wodehouse with that surname, ranging from publishers Bastable & Kirby mentioned in Love Among the Chickens (1906) to Bastable, Rupert Bingley’s butler in Much Obliged, Jeeves (1971). Most prominent are Major-General Sir Aylmer Bastable, eminent invalid in “Romance at Droitgate Spa” (1937), and Sir Raymond “Beefy” Bastable, author of the eponymous novel in Cocktail Time (1958).
[A passage following “blunder” is omitted in Grand, so that this sentence does not appear there.]

supermen (p. 145)

See the notes to Leave It to Psmith.
[The passage omitted in Grand runs through the end of the sentence containing this reference.]

second mate of a tramp steamer (p. 145)

[Mrs. Rastall-Retford] was a massive lady, with a prominent forehead, some half-dozen chins, and a manner towards those in her employment which would have been resented in a second mate by the crew of a Western ocean tramp.

“The Best Sauce” (1911)

Ramsden Waters had a soul that seemed to combine in equal proportions the outstanding characteristics of Nero, a wild-cat, and the second mate of a tramp steamer.

“The Rough Stuff” (1921)

[Hermione Bostock] had yearned secretly for something rough and tough with a nasty eye and the soul of a second mate of a tramp steamer.

Uncle Dynamite, ch. 14 (1948)

See another use of the phrase in Chapter 17 below.

restoring his tissues (p. 147)

Wodehouse most often uses this phrase in one of two senses: for sleep or rest, and for liquid refreshment, usually alcoholic. See Sam the Sudden for some other examples. The only non-alcoholic liquid tissue restorers besides the present lemonade that I can find in Wodehouse are coffee in “Out of School” (1910), tea in Mike (serialized as The Lost Lambs), and lemonade in The Old Reliable.

A rare third sense is that of nourishment by solid food, as in Piccadilly Jim, ch. 15; in “Jeeves and the Old School Chum” (1930; in Very Good, Jeeves); and in Uncle Dynamite, ch. 2 (1948).

jake (p. 147)

The OED terms this as originally American slang for “excellent, admirable, fine, ‘O.K.’ ” with the earliest citation from a 1914 dictionary of criminal slang. The present sentence from Wodehouse is the fourth of their citations of its usage.

forehead, a narrow strip … separating the eyebrows from the fringe (p. 147)

Reminiscent of the gang leader Bat Jarvis in Psmith, Journalist, who “wore his hair in a well-oiled fringe almost down to his eyebrows, which gave him the appearance of having no forehead at all.”

executive (p. 148)

In the older sense of executing, or carrying out, orders from the organizers; the principal nineteenth-century and British sense of the term. The modern sense of an executive as a business planner and administrator arose in the USA early in the twentieth century, but this is not relevant to the distinction Wodehouse makes here, as the succeeding sentences make clear.

you would pass over Joe. (p. 148)

Following this phrase is a sentence in both magazine serials, cut from both book editions:

Not only was his head not the right shape for that kind of thing, but in the circles in which he moved it was reputed to be constructed of solid bonzoline.

Passing lightly over the phrenological implications of worrying about the shape of someone’s head, this is a variant on the earlier bone-headed and later ivory skull slurs. Bonzoline was an early plastic compounded of nitrocellulose, camphor, and alcohol, produced by the Albany Billiard Ball Company beginning in 1893 as a replacement for ivory billiard balls, and an essentially similar compound was marketed in the UK as Crystalate from 1900. Because the synthetic materials had a uniform density, unlike ivory which had a natural “grain” and a slight susceptibility to humidity, this was one instance where an artificial substitute was widely praised as an improvement over traditional materials.

get next (p. 148)

Something of a double meaning here, both to come into physical proximity and to understand. The OED first cites George Ade, in Artie (1896), as recording this American slang for becoming familiar with or informed about. Wodehouse used it a few times:

“We cops get next to the game easier than most. We hear things.”

“Kid Brady—Light-Weight” (1905)

His hearing was a bit on the blink, but he could get next if you handed it to him nice and clear.

The US magazine version of “By Advice of Counsel” (1910)

“A wop. A Dago. Why, don’t you get next? Why, an Italian.”

Psmith, Journalist (1910/15)

sittin’ pretty (p. 148)

See the discussion of the musical comedy Sitting Pretty under Eugenics above. The OED defines the phrase as “comfortably placed, well situated, in an advantageous or safe position” and cites a 1915 American newspaper as the first recorded usage. Another citation is from Wodehouse’s 1932 Hot Water, but they fail to note his earlier usage here.

the fat of the land (p. 148)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

turns up in a dress suit in the last reel (p. 149)

After a series of scandals in Hollywood, the film industry attempted to head off government censorship by creating the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America under Will H. Hays in 1922 as a self-regulating body. Even before the issuance of explicit “do’s and don’ts” the MPPDA attempted to influence plots and themes, and enforced the moral code of retribution for wrongdoers as well as redemption for those who reformed, as Horace describes in the films he has seen. A dress suit is of course a screen shortcut for showing that a character has achieved success, and “the last reel” would be the last ten or fifteen minutes of a silent film feature.

“Kind of coincidence, wasn’t it?” (p. 149)

Both magazine serials insert “a” before “coincidence” here.

rich millionaire (p. 149)

A neat tautology! Diego points out that Wodehouse returned to this in Money for Nothing, ch. 6; Money in the Bank, ch. 12; Angel Cake/Barmy in Wonderland, ch. 7; in the first two the rich millionaire is specifically American. See also “well-to-do millionaire” in Sam the Sudden, If I Were You, The Luck of the Bodkins, Summer Moonshine, The Old Reliable, Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, and Jeeves in the Offing, ch. 3.

simp (p. 150)

See discussion under zimp in the notes for Ukridge.

with cane complete (p. 150)

Reminiscent of advertising of Victorian and Edwardian eras, in which an item sold along with an essential accessory would have the price given as “with [accessory] complete” as in the 1913 advertisement at right. A possible literary influence is the commercial necromancer John Wellington Wells in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Sorcerer:

Our Abudah chests, each containing a patent Hag who comes out and prophesies disasters, with spring complete, are strongly recommended.

sweetness and light (p. 150)

See Sam the Sudden.

whangee (p. 150)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

convenances (p. 151)

A French term for conventions, society’s normal proprieties; the word has been borrowed in English as well, but it appears in italics in all original versions of this novel, so Wodehouse apparently thought of it as a French term.

bozo (p. 151)

“Originally and chiefly US slang” according to the OED, which defines it rather weakly as “a person, fellow.” The present sentence from Wodehouse is the third OED citation; the earliest is 1920. Jonathon Green, in Green’s Dictionary of Slang, suggests “a slight overtone of clownishness” and an alternate meaning of “fool, idiot.” The character of Bozo the Clown was created in 1946, so is irrelevant here.
[The Grand serial substitutes “thing” for “bozo.”]

Chapter 7
Mr. Slingsby Invites Suspicion

“What has become of Mr. Coker?” she asked. (not on p. 154)

This one-line paragraph follows “Flick’s fingers…She looked up.” in all versions but the US first edition, so its omission on p. 154 must be a printer’s error.

Desdemona and Othello. She liked him for the hardships … (p. 154)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

feminine intuition (p. 155)

Most often appearing as “woman’s intuition” in Wodehouse. [DS] This form of the term is rare in his work; the only other instances found so far:

“Her feminine intuition has enabled her to read his secret. She detects the lovelight in his eyes.”

Bertie Wooster, speaking of Pauline Stoker and Chuffy Chuffnell, in Thank You, Jeeves (1934)

“How did you know Gertrude was bossy?”
“Feminine intuition. I don’t like her.”

Monty Bodkin and Sandy Miller in Pearls, Girls, and Monty Bodkin (1972)

It reminded him of a startled kitten. (p. 156)

Jane made an odd little noise like a startled kitten and backed slowly towards the window.

Hot Water, ch. 17 §4 (1931)

“Miss Benedick?” he said, in a low, hoarse voice which would have interested a throat specialist, and Jane turned like a startled kitten, her flush now the blush of shame and embarrassment.

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

the door opened and Judson came on (p. 157)

Misprint in US edition; all other versions have “came in.”

disillusionment and dejection written plainly on his speaking countenance (p. 158)

See Leave It to Psmith.

a fellow just has to have a nip of the right stuff to keep the cold out (p. 158)

Here “the right stuff” is liquor, but the term has other meanings in Wodehouse. See The Inimitable Jeeves.

medicinal (p. 158)

Many of Wodehouse’s young men share this view, including Bertie Wooster; see The Inimitable Jeeves.

slated to get (p. 158)

Figuratively, as if one’s name is written on a slate listing the fate in store for one. Wodehouse’s use of this in Laughing Gas (1936) is cited in the OED, but they missed this earlier usage.

in a minor key (p. 159)

See Leave It to Psmith.

fainting … restored with brandy (p. 159)

Another Wodehouse character who does this is described by Sergeant-Major Flannery at Healthward Ho in Money for Nothing (1928):

“Only yesterday that Admiral Sir Rigby-Rudd toppled over in my presence after doing his bending and stretching exercises and said he felt faint and he was afraid it was his heart and would I go and get him a drop of brandy.”

close the office and put the cat out for the night (p. 160)

Compare Bertie Wooster’s view of the end of the business day in “Leave It to Jeeves”:

As a rule … the American captain of industry doesn’t do anything out of business hours. When he has put the cat out and locked up the office for the night he just relapses into a state of coma…

Winchester-Murphy (p. 160)

A fictional car company, invented by Wodehouse.

Bruton Street (p. 160)

A real address in London’s high-class Mayfair district. Queen Elizabeth II was born in 1926 at 17 Bruton Street, the town home of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne, her maternal grandparents.

Chapter 8
A Job for Percy Pilbeam

galley proof (p. 163)

A test printing for proofreading of typeset material, after composition but before the type is transferred to the forme in its final page layout for the work to be printed.

turf commission agents (p. 163)

Bookmakers for racetrack betting.

zippiness (p. 163)

See zippy in the notes for Leave It to Psmith.

Juvenal (p. 163)

See Cocktail Time.

philippic (p. 164)

See Ice in the Bedroom for a definition at one of only two other usages so far found in Wodehouse. Diego Seguí notes an early misspelled appearance as “Phillipic” in “L’Affaire Uncle John” (1901): “Biffen was just settling down to a sort of Phillipic when I went, and I knew that I had left the man in competent hands.”

shining morning face (p. 164)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

He wore a lively young check suit (p. 164)

Suits in a checked fabric are one of Wodehouse’s markers for men whose taste in clothing has not yet matured (or never developed) and for denizens of the race track and other sporting venues.

He made his way through them, resisting without difficulty the entreaties of a hoarse gentleman in a check suit to have three to two on ’Enery Something for the hundred yards, and came at last to the dressing tent.

“The Manœuvres of Charteris” (1903)

I had on a rather sprightly young check that morning, to which I was a good deal attached; I fancied it, in fact, more than a little. It was perhaps rather sudden, till you got used to it, but, nevertheless, an extremely sound effort, which many chappies at the club and elsewhere had admired unrestrainedly.

Bertie Wooster, in “Jeeves Takes Charge” (1916)

It is, of course, an axiom, as I have heard Jeeves call it, that the smaller the man, the louder the check suit, and old Bassett’s apparel was in keeping with his lack of inches.

The Code of the Woosters, ch. 3 (1938)

Architecturally, Walsingford Hall offended his cultured taste, but it had the same charm for him which a millionaire uncle from Australia exerts in spite of wearing a loud check suit and a fancy waistcoat.

Summer Moonshine, ch. 9 (1938)

“Were he to encounter on the threshold a butler in a check suit and a false moustache, it is possible that his suspicions might be aroused.”

Jeeves explains having changed out of his disguise as a bookie’s clerk for “Honest Patch Perkins” in Ring for Jeeves, ch. 4 (1953).

fungoid growth of moustache (p. 164)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

bubbly (p. 164)

Dictionaries such as the OED record the figurative use of this adjective to describe a person’s feeling of high spirits; Clarence Mulliner experiences love as a bubbly sensation in “The Romance of a Bulb-Squeezer” (1927). Of course the word often applies to champagne as well. But this usage to describe the exciting aspect of a piece of news seems to be unrecorded in the several dictionaries I consulted. The meaning is clear, by analogy to “fizzy.”

paper cuffs (p. 165)

Men’s shirts of the era typically had removable collars and sometimes cuffs, as these were often the first parts to get soiled, and refreshing these would save on laundry at a time before the convenience of automatic home washing machines. In an office where fresh printer’s ink on galley proofs (see p. 163 just above) would be ever-present, disposable cuffs make even more sense.

Roderick said he had not had that pleasure. (p. 165)

The SEP serial simplifies this to “Roderick said he did not.”

Alhambra (p. 165)

The Alhambra Theatre of Variety was one of London’s most prominent music halls, opening in 1860 on Leicester Square in a building previously occupied by the Royal Panopticon of Science and Arts (1854–1856), reconfigured with a circus ring in 1858, then converted with a proscenium stage as the Alhambra Palace Music Hall for its December 1860 opening, in which the ground floor was filled with tables for dining. In 1871 the tables were replaced with rows of theatre seats, and after an 1882 fire the seating was made permanent in tiers of curved rows. It continued to present a mix of ballet and revue until it was closed and demolished in 1936, after which the Odeon cinema theatre was built on the site.

St. Mary Axe (p. 166)

A street in the City of London’s commercial district, traditionally pronounced “Simmery Axe” (as in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Sorcerer). The street is named for a medieval parish church, demolished in 1561, on the site now occupied by Fitzwilliam House.

pop down (p. 166)

If we identify Tilbury House with Lord Northcliffe’s Fleet Street buildings, the distance to St. Mary Axe would be just over a mile.

Sir Claude Molesey and the Brighton bungalow (p. 167)

Like the story of Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe and the prawns, this is one of the tantalizing scandals of which Wodehouse never reveals the details.

to seek an interview with the great Chief (p. 167)

The Grand serial capitalizes “Great”; the SEP serial omits this phrase, ending the sentence at “left the room.” It is possible that Wodehouse intended this to be a reference to the translation of the Native American word “sachem” for a tribal leader, so that in treaties the President of the United States was sometimes referred to as the Great Chief.

like a stuffed frog (p. 167)

One of Wodehouse’s most common similes, from early days onward:

“…you go about trying to look like a Christian martyr——”
“I don’t,” said Fenn, indignantly.
“Well, like a stuffed frog, then—it’s all the same to me.”

Jimmy Silver and Fenn in The Head of Kay’s, ch. 18 (1905)

Bob’s face was looking like a stuffed frog’s, which was Bob’s way of trying to appear unconcerned and at his ease…

Mike (1909), serialized as Jackson Junior (1907)

He had looked like a stuffed frog and spoken like a bored policeman.

George Marlowe’s self-reflection in “Parted Ways” (1915)

His eyes were shining, and his face looked so like that of a stuffed frog that Archie had no difficulty in gathering that he had been lecturing on the subject of his latest enslaver.

Said of Bill Brewster in “Mother’s Knee” (1920; in Indiscretions of Archie, 1921)

“When I introduced you, you behaved—you will forgive an old friend for criticizing—you behaved a little like a stuffed frog with laryngitis.”

The Oldest Member to Chester Meredith in “Chester Forgets Himself” (1923)

“Because,” said George Finch, looking like a stuffed frog, “I love her.”

The Small Bachelor, ch. 1.4 (1926/27)

“You know what old John is. One of these strong, silent fellows who looks on all occasions like a stuffed frog.”
“He doesn’t.”
“Pardon me,” said Hugo firmly. “Have you ever seen a stuffed frog? Well, I have. I had one for years when I was a kid. And John has exactly the same power of expressing emotion.”

Money for Nothing, ch. 7.1 (1928)

“Sinister, Jeeves,” I said. “You noticed that the subject was looking like a stuffed frog?”

“Tuppy Changes His Mind” (1930; as “The Ordeal of Young Tuppy” in Very Good, Jeeves)

Not only had its expression, as he spoke of Pauline, been that of a stuffed frog with a touch of the Soul’s Awakening about it, but it had also turned a fairly deepish crimson in colour.

Chuffy Chuffnell, in Thank You, Jeeves (1934)

He assumed the grave, intent expression of a stuffed frog, and let it rip.

Esmond Haddock, in The Mating Season (1949)

“Why are you looking like a stuffed frog?”
“If you mean why am I looking like Rodin’s Le Penseur, I was wondering how the dickens you ever managed to get acquainted with this chap.”

Penny Donaldson and Galahad Threepwood, in Pigs Have Wings (1952)

“I ought to have warned you that Jeeves never leaps about and rolls the eyes when you spring something sensational on him, preferring to preserve the calm impassivity of a stuffed frog.”

Bertie Wooster to Aunt Dahlia in Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit (1954)

“I’ve been watching you with a motherly eye for some time, and I’ve noted all the symptoms—the faraway, stuffed frog look, the dreamy manner, the quick jump like a rising trout when spoken to suddenly.”

Leila Yorke to Sally Foster in Ice in the Bedroom (1961)

At least, I gave him a significant glance, and he looked like a stuffed frog, his habit when being discreet.

Bertie speaking of Jeeves in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1963)

There was nothing in Henry Blake-Somerset’s manner, as he stood in the doorway, to indicate that he was seething with righteous indignation and resentment, for the first thing the authorities teach young diplomats is to look like stuffed frogs on all occasions in order to deceive foreigners.

Frozen Assets (1964)

…whereas I sang a good deal as we buzzed along, he maintained, as is his custom, the silent reserve of a stuffed frog, never joining in the chorus, though cordially invited to.

Bertie Wooster speaking of Ginger Winship in Much Obliged, Jeeves (1971)

I think it is likely that one of Plum’s cherished toys when a young boy had been a stuffed frog; whether it was a taxidermized real frog or a fabric replica is debatable.

the alien Mail (p. 168)

Wodehouse sets up a rivalry between the real-life Daily Mail and his fictional publisher’s newspaper, the Daily Record.

heart of hearts (p. 168)

One’s innermost being or feelings. The phrase is common, dating back to Shakespeare in the form “hart of hart” (Hamlet, III, ii) and to Smollett, 1751, in modern spelling. This is the only use of it so far found in Wodehouse, though.

amnesia (p. 168)

An uncommon reference in Wodehouse; it forms one of the plot complications in the sensationalized A Prince for Hire, and is suggested by Jerry Shoesmith in Frozen Assets as a possible explanation for Kay Christopher’s failure to lunch with Henry Blake-Somerset.

eulogy (p. 169)

Though in common usage today this refers primarily to an oration at a funeral in praise of the deceased, the root meaning of “good words” is behind the general sense of the word as any speech of commendation or praise.

physiognomists (p. 169)

Experts in discerning personality or character by reading faces and features.

It was a mass of lines and wrinkles from which a physiognomist would have deduced uncomplimentary conclusions as to his character.

The Head of Kay’s, ch. 16 (1905)

A physiognomist would have gathered correctly that Ann Chester liked having her own way and was accustomed to get it.

Piccadilly Jim, ch. 1 (1917)

Wranhall Detective Agency (p. 170)

Thus in the US book; Wraxhall in the UK book; Whitehall in the magazine serials. Whether there was a real-life Whitehall Detective Agency, or perhaps it may have been considered as too close to Scotland Yard (located just off Whitehall), a change was clearly thought necessary for book publication. Wraxhall is an authentic English family and place name; Wranhall may be a mistake or an alteration by the US book editor, unfamiliar with British nomenclature.

the sort of name a girl would have (p. 170)

For instance, Alice Faraday, Lord Marshmoreton’s secretary in A Damsel in Distress.

“Quite,” murmured Pilbeam; “quite.” (p. 170)

The magazine serials include another short sentence from Mrs. Hammond following the sentence above:

“One is not responsible for one’s actions.”

Sir George’s speech about amnesia then follows, as in the book editions.

East Uganda (p. 171)

It is difficult to know just what Wodehouse had in mind; during his schooldays Uganda extended further east than it does now. The eastern section of the Uganda Protectorate was transferred in 1902 to the East Africa Protectorate (renamed the Kenya Colony in 1920).

Chapter 9
The Chase Begins

Leadenhall Market (p. 172)

A covered shopping market in the center of the City of London financial district, dating originally from the 14th century; the current structure dates from 1881, renovated and redecorated in 1990–91. Principal vendors include sellers of fresh meats, poultry, cheeses, fruits and vegetables as well as flowers; other retail shops sell clothes and accessories.

Pirandello (p. 172)

No apparent relation to Italian playwright/poet Luigi Pirandello (1867–1936), although he was well-known at the time of writing; his name may have influenced Wodehouse’s naming of this fictional restaurant.

Borgia family (p. 172)

An Italo-Spanish noble family, powerful in Renaissance times in both politics and Catholic affairs, producing two popes. Notorious for poisoning as well as other crimes committed to consolidate their power.

Gioconda smile (p. 172)

The painting by Leonardo da Vinci now most often called the Mona Lisa is also known in Italian as La Gioconda; it is traditionally held to be a portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, wife of a wealthy Florentine silk merchant. The Italian title means “the smiling/happy woman” as well as being a feminine form of her married surname.

See also Summer Lightning.

pavement (p. 173)

Traditional British terminology for what is called a sidewalk in North America.

Blake’s Chophouse (p. 173)

Apparently fictional. The name may possibly have been suggested by the pronunciation of the New York restaurant called Bleeck’s; see these notes.

dippy (p. 174)

Slang for being crazy, or being madly in love; OED has American citations from 1903 and 1904 (George Ade, one of Wodehouse’s sources for US slang) as well as citing PGW’s The Adventures of Sally (1921). The earliest usage so far found in Wodehouse is in the US version of “Keeping It from Harold” (1914); the Strand version substitutes “off your head.”

paraffin (p. 174)

A solid whitish wax, a byproduct of petroleum distillation often used in candles; Judson uses the term in its principal American sense. Elsewhere Wodehouse’s British characters also use the word to mean the liquid fuel kerosene, as in “The Fiery Wooing of Mordred” (1934); Joy in the Morning, ch. 10 (1946); Ring for Jeeves, ch. 2 (1953); and “Big Business” (as collected in A Few Quick Ones, 1959). [NM/DS]

She would have had to be a far less efficient stenographer to fail to secure the post. (p. 176)

The SEP editor apparently thought this needed clarifying by inserting “than she was” after “stenographer” here; no other version has the extra wording.

a dear old clerk (p. 176)

Both magazine serials call him “a nice old clerk” instead.

“I found out all sorts of things.” (p. 176)

The SEP serial omits this sentence.

at prices which allow only the smallest profit to Mr. Paradene (p. 177)

The SEP serial omits “to Mr. Paradene” here.

a small young man with close-set eyes and the scenario of a mustache (p. 178)

See Sam the Sudden.

the door he had so recently left, the window of which (p. 179)

Both magazine serials simplify this to “the door the ground-glass window of which”; here ground-glass refers to a frosted glass achieved by grinding with abrasives rather than by chemical etching or applied coatings.

gave, with a shilling, to a passing boy (p. 179)

Even with the inflation factor of 60 noted above, this would be £3 in modern values, but it seems unlikely that one could hire a messenger to carry a note for over a mile at that rate in today’s London.

subconscious mind (p. 180)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

touched a spring (p. 180)

That is, pressed a spring-loaded button which activates a mechanical device.

bolt hole (p. 181)

Originally, an alternate exit from a rabbit den by which the animal escapes a pursuing ferret; generalized to any hidden or inconspicuous means of exit from a room or house.

Somers Town (p. 181)

A district in northwest London near St. Pancras railway station, which in Victorian times became notorious for overcrowded slum housing; the St. Pancras Borough Council undertook improvements beginning in 1906, but even by 1924 the neighborhood would still have been distinctly downmarket.

all dressed up and having no place to go (p. 183)

Kansas newspaper editorialist William Allen White is credited in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations with characterizing the 1916 Progressive (Bull Moose) Party after the retirement of Theodore Roosevelt as “all dressed up with nowhere to go.”
[Omitted in Grand serial, which also substitutes “typist” for “stenographer” in this paragraph and the next only.]

stick straws in his hair (p. 183)

A signal of being distracted or eccentric, even to the point of madness. The first OED citation is from Lewis Carroll in 1890; the next two are from Wodehouse:

I mean to say, when your uncle the Duke begins to feel the strain a bit and you find him in the blue drawing-room sticking straws in his hair, old Glossop is the first person you send for.

“Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch” (1922; in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923)

[Sir Roderick’s] outlook on life has become so jaundiced through constant association with coves who are picking straws out of their hair…

“The Rummy Affair of Old Biffy” (1924; in Carry On, Jeeves!, 1925)

The thing got right in amongst Wilfrid Slingsby’s nerve centres. (p. 183)

Wodehouse gives us a synonym showing us what he means by this frequent reference to nerve centers:

“There are certain occasions when an oath seems to be so imperatively demanded that the strain of keeping it in must inevitably affect the ganglions, or nerve centers, in such a manner as to diminish the steadiness of the swing.”

The Oldest Member, in “Chester Forgets Himself” (1923)

Ganglions are clusters of nerve cells, which do not “quiver” as often suggested by Wodehouse’s characters, but transmit electrical signals to each other with the aid of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. Figuratively, though, Wodehouse often speaks of a situation itself getting into the action here:

She was by way of being a confirmed invalid, and something about Archibald seemed to get right in among her nerve centers, reducing them for the time being to a complicated hash.

“Archibald’s Benefit” (1910)

It ran in and out among her nerve centers like an intangible Paul Revere.

“A Sea of Troubles” (1914)

The thing got right in among Lord Wetherby’s highly sensitive ganglions like an earthquake.

Uneasy Money (1916)

It was not until the shrill barking of the dog Aïda penetrated his nerve centers and began to tie them into knots that he found himself compelled to descend.

Piccadilly Jim, ch. 24 (1917)

It was the sort of old French love song to which she could have listened for hours in some scented garden under the young May moon, but on the green of the fourth at Mossy Heath it got right in amongst her nerve centers.

“Rodney Fails to Qualify” (1924)

Paradise Walk, Earlsfield (p. 185)

Earlsfield is a London suburb in the district of Wandsworth, south of the River Thames; in Wodehouse’s time it was a working-class residential area of modest Victorian terraced houses. A search in the British Newspaper Archive returns no record of a murder in Earlsfield from 1920 to 1924.

Chapter 10
The Chase Continues

The callousness of Nature in times of human suffering has been commented on so often by poets and others that it has become a truism. (p. 186)

Diego Seguí points us toward similar passages:

The callous indifference of Nature toward human anguish has become such a commonplace that nowadays even the most reproachful poet scarcely bothers to comment on it. In literary circles it is pretty well taken for granted that the moment when Man is mourning is the very moment which Nature can be relied on to select for smiling her broadest.

Summer Moonshine, ch. 14 (1937)

Nature is ever callous to human woes, laughing while we weep; and we grow to take her callousness for granted.

A Damsel in Distress, ch. 20 (1919)

But though all Nature smiled, there was, as I have indicated, no disposition on the part of Bertram to follow its example. I got no kick from the shining sun, no uplift from the azure firmament, as it is sometimes called: while as for the twittering birds their heartiness in the circumstances seemed overdone and in dubious taste. When you’re faced with the sort of ordeal I was faced with, there is but little satisfaction to be derived from the thought that you’ve got a nice day for it.

Joy in the Morning, ch. 20 (1946)

The following day dawned bright and clear. The skies were blue, the birds twittered, all Nature smiled. But Nature’s example was not followed by Lord Emsworth.

Pigs Have Wings, ch. 6 (1952)

Tilbury Street, whose inhabitants still seemed to be boiling cabbage as if their lives depended on it… (p. 186)

The smell of cabbage cooking seems to be a marker for downmarket neighborhoods or downtrodden hearts; compare:

Back in West Kensington a rich smell of dinner would be floating through the flat; the cook, watching the boiling cabbage, would be singing A Few More Years Shall Roll…

Uneasy Money (1916)

…in the mean neighborhoods of the great railway terminals … lean, furtive streets, gray as the January sky, with a sort of arrested decay. They smell of cabbage and are much prowled over by vagrant cats.

The Little Warrior/Jill the Reckless (1920/21)

The first thing anyone entering the coffee-room would have noticed, apart from the ozone-like smell of cold beef, beer, pickles, cabbage, gravy soup, boiled potatoes and very old cheese which characterizes coffee-rooms all England over, would have been this young man’s extraordinary gloom.

Heavy Weather, ch. 15 (1933)

Hitherto, I should mention, my nephew’s poetry, for he belonged to the modern fearless school, had always been stark and rhymeless and had dealt principally with corpses and the smell of cooking cabbage.

Mr. Mulliner’s narration in “The Fiery Wooing of Mordred” (1934; in Young Men in Spats, 1936)

Halsey Court never bothered much about sunshine. What it specialized in was the smell of cooking cabbage.

Money in the Bank, ch. 1 (1942)

It was simply that the editors of the poetry magazines seemed to prefer rat-ridden tenements, the smell of cooking cabbage, and despair, and a girl had to eat.

Mrs. Spottsworth reminiscing about her days as a Greenwich Village poet in Ring for Jeeves/The Return of Jeeves, ch. 10 (1953)

[Lavender Briggs had] gone on to the opening performance at the Flaming Youth Group Center of one of those avant-garde plays which bring the scent of boiling cabbage across the footlights and in which the little man in the bowler hat turns out to be God.

Service with a Smile, ch. 8 §2 (1961)

Even at Blandings, unrequited love can bring this simile to mind:

…an atmosphere of doom and gloom still pervaded the premises like the smell of boiling cabbage.

Full Moon, ch. 4 (1947)

[Sentence omitted in Grand serial.]

inlaid with patines of bright gold (p. 186)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.
[Sentence omitted in Grand serial; misspelled “patinas” in SEP.]

all Nature smiled (p. 186)

See A Damsel in Distress.
[Sentence omitted in Grand serial.]

Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: It might have been (p. 186)

See Laughing Gas.

bird-and-snake shop (p. 187)

Another such emporium is referenced in “Something Squishy” (1924).

long green snake (p. 187)

Clarence, Lady Pauline Wetherby’s snake in Uneasy Money (1916), is described as long and green. Peter, Mme. Brudowska’s snake in “Dear Old Squiffy” (1920; in Indiscretions of Archie, 1921), is also a long green snake.

the light of pure deceit (p. 188)

Possibly a takeoff on Immanuel Kant’s “the light of pure reason,” quoted below (p. 210).

Plague Spots of the West End (p. 188)

Probably a reference to nightclubs; in Wodehouse, plague-spot variously refers to sources of infection, gambling dens, and other types of irritation.

…he hauled Kennedy over the coals, in a speech that lasted five minutes, for not having detected this plague-spot in the house.

The Head of Kay’s, ch. 22 (1905)

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Tables! The Temple of Chance. The Plague Spot of Europe.

Monte Carlo, in “The Small Gambler” (1913)

“Being the perambulating plague-spot I am, I was not taking any risks.”

Kirk Winfield, considered by Lora Delane Porter as a source of germs in The White Hope (1914; as The Coming of Bill, 1920)

…my Aunt Agatha … having always rather given me to understand that it is the presence in it of chappies like me that makes London more or less of a plague spot…

“Jeeves in the Springtime” (1921; as “No Wedding Bells for Bingo” in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923)

Sitting on the stonework, fishing, was a species of kid whom I took to be Oswald the Plague Spot.

“Bertie Gets Even” (1922, also as “Scoring Off Jeeves”; adapted as “The Pride of the Woosters Is Wounded” in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923)

“I’m afraid scratching that Monte Carlo trip has been a bit of a jar for you, Jeeves.”
“Not at all, sir.”
“Oh, yes, it has. The heart was set on wintering in the world’s good old Plague Spot, I know.”

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

About now, he thought, but for his brother George’s treachery in luring him down to this plague-spot by a misleading telegram, he would have been on the twelfth green at Squashy Hollow, trying out that new putter.

“Portrait of a Disciplinarian” (1927; in Meet Mr. Mulliner, 1927/28)

…her presence at his dinner table had become a matter of routine. (p. 188)

Both magazine serials treat this as a direct question and end it with “a matter of course?”

Flick had told on visiting Marmont Mansions (p. 189)

Both magazine serials insert “the” before Marmont Mansions.

Cheshire Cheese … Doctor Johnson’s chair (p. 190–91)

The pub at 145 Fleet Street, now known as Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, was rebuilt shortly after the Great Fire of 1666; earlier pubs had been located there since 1538. The Wikipedia article on the pub lists Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, Mark Twain, Alfred Tennyson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, G. K. Chesterton, and even P. G. Wodehouse as names claimed to have been regular patrons. “However, there is no recorded evidence that Johnson ever visited the pub, only that he had lived close by.”

Robert McCrum’s Wodehouse: A Life quotes a 1927 Wodehouse letter to Bill Townend mentioning his lunching there. In The Prince and Betty and “Diary of a War-Time Honeymoon” (1916) it is a tourist attraction; in Piccadilly Jim (1917) Ann Chester lists the Cheshire Cheese as one of the sights of London she has seen as a tourist. In If I Were You, ch. 11, it is mentioned as a long-standing fixture of London. [NM/DS]

lark-steak-and-kidney pudding (p. 191)

Steak-and-kidney puddings and pies are traditional pub fare; the recipe at the Cheshire Cheese included in addition not only larks but also mushrooms and oysters. See Cakes and Ale (1897/1900) by Edward Spencer for more.

send you proofs (p. 191)

If Judson had realized that this was not normal journalistic procedure, he might have been more suspicious that this was a ruse to find out his address. Diego Seguí even calls letting an interviewee see a preprint of an article ”a big thing, a breach of journalistic etiquette.”

kerb (p. 192)

The SEP serial uses the American spelling “curb”; the US book follows the British spelling.

“I shall Stand No Nonsense!” (p. 193)

Capitalized thus in both book editions, in accordance with Sir George’s habit of speaking in maxims. SEP serial has no printed emphasis here other than the exclamation point; Grand serial puts the last three words in lower-case italics.

His chauffeur had told him that this was Marmont Mansions… (p. 193)

Both magazine serials go into more detail: “His chauffeur had told him that a policeman had told him that this was Marmont Mansions…”

Shaftesbury Avenue (p. 194)

In London’s West End, the heart of the theatre district.

habitual motorists (p. 194)

Though McCrum, after recounting the tale of Wodehouse’s first purchase of an automobile in 1906 (“He crashed the Darracq within a week.”) claims that “for the rest of his life he preferred to be driven,” McCrum does acknowledge that Wodehouse included motoring (along with cricket, boxing, football, and swimming) among the hobbies in his Who’s Who entry.

Hindhead … majestic heights (p. 194–95)

A village in the highest area in Surrey, with buildings up to 770 feet (253 meters) above sea level, some 38 miles southwest of London as the crow flies. On modern motorways the driving distance from Battersea Park is a bit over 42 miles. Wodehouse would have been familiar with it because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had a country house there, inviting Wodehouse and other members of the Authors cricketing team for weekend visits.

The Grand serial has the typo “magnetic” instead of “majestic” here.

stepped … on his self-starter (p. 195)

The surge of current required in an automobile’s starter motor is very large, well over a hundred amperes in most cases, and in early cars with self-starters a large foot-operated switch was used to turn on the starter. This also kept the heavy wiring of the starter circuit desirably short. Modern cars use a starter relay, controlled by a much smaller current which can be more easily handled at the ignition key switch, to activate the starter motor’s high current.

Albert Road (p. 196)

On modern maps, the Albert Bridge Road, A3031, at the western boundary of Battersea Park.

Albert Bridge (p. 196)

Originally built in 1873 as a type of cable-stayed bridge; modified 1884–87 for increased stability with elements of a suspension bridge design, but still nicknamed “The Trembling Lady” as it vibrated under the feet of pedestrians. The roadway is only 27 feet wide, with a single automobile lane and a pedestrian lane in each direction.

The Grand serial omits the short (five sentences) Section 3 of the chapter, which contains this reference.

Chapter 11
The Chase Ends

a real hummer (p. 197)

See A Damsel in Distress.

snapped across Chelsea Embankment… (p. 197)

The map below attempts to highlight the initial stage of the chase, beginning in the previous chapter along the Prince of Wales Road, the southern edge of Battersea Park, and crossing the Albert Bridge. Present-day Oakley Street does not go through to the Fulham Road, so the dotted section (beneath the label “National Army Museum” on the map) is a speculative alternate route. The rest of the route also cannot be driven today as described; Lacy Road (the southernmost segment highlighted on the map) is divided by a traffic barrier, and Addison Road (the segment below the word “Museum” in the label for the Leighton House Museum) is presently one-way traffic in a southeasterly direction. Beyond Ladbroke Grove the description is less specific.

fleeing like the wicked man in the Psalms (p. 198)

Both US and UK book have “Psalms” here, but the original serial in the Saturday Evening Post reads Proverbs here, which must be correct. See Biblia Wodehousiana.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

chivvied (p. 198)

Chased, especially with the aim of harrassing or worrying the pursued. OED gives this as a form, dating back to 1918, of the older chevied, and indeed the SEP editor chose the older spelling. Nothing to do with the mid-century hooligan’s term for knifing someone with a chiv or shiv.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

Ridgway had had quiet but decided views on ties and hats (p. 199)

Diego Seguí notes that this is of course reminiscent of Jeeves.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

the last drop of petrol in the tank (p. 199)

The SEP serial calls it gasoline, of course.

Portsmouth Road, now heading for Hertfordshire (p. 200)

Portsmouth is on the middle southern coast of Great Britain, some sixty miles southwest of London as the crow flies, or seventy-five miles along the modern A3 roadway. Hertfordshire is north of London via the modern A1; the center of the county is some thirty miles north of central London.

he had come in the course of this stern chase to love it like a son (p. 200)

For unknown reasons, the SEP serial substitutes “adventure” for “stern chase” here.

recently turned up by expert hands (p. 200)

Misprint in the US first edition; SEP serial, Grand serial, and UK book have “tuned up” which must be correct.

Cardinal Six … Brown-Windsor (p. 200)

Automobile brands invented by Wodehouse. A popular British recipe is Brown Windsor soup, which might have put one of these ideas into Plum’s head.

New Barnet, Hadley Wood, Potters Bar and St. Mimm’s (p. 201)

The first three are still on maps; I can find only a South Mimms. It is clear that these lie along an older road than the modern A1 motorway.

Diego Seguí notes that the 1954 Methuen reprint of this book reads “South Mimms” here, and that the name is sometimes abbreviated “Sth. Mimms” which could have given rise to the confusion. For those who wish to trace the route in detail, Diego shares a link to a 1922 map of the area, which has all the locations mentioned in the passage; roads in red are “good and fit for fast traffic.”

The link above apparently requires the outdated Flash plug-in and is not working for me [NM] in 2023; another source of 1920s Ordnance Survey maps is from the National Library of Scotland. The four locations mentioned are on the map at this link, with New Barnet at the lower edge of my screen and the others in a generally north-northwest direction from it. You may need to drag the image or scroll in or out if your screen size is different. It is not clear that any one road would actually pass through all these, rather than just going nearby.

Another useful period map at the National Library of Scotland site doesn’t allow hyperlinks to specific areas, so I have excerpted a section from a 1923 Ministry of Transportation road map (link opens in a new browser tab or window); the named locations in this note and the next are pointed out by yellow arrows.

outside Hatfield, just before you come to Brocket Hall (p. 201)

Brocket Hall is a historic house and estate, constructed about 1760 in neoclassical style. Currently its postal address is listed as Welwyn Garden City, but since that planned community was founded as recently as 1920, it is not surprising that Wodehouse locates it in relation to the old city of Hatfield. The house was owned in succession by two of Queen Victoria’s prime ministers and its history includes visits by many famous dignitaries and even royalty. The estate is now operated as an event center and golf course.

The National Library of Scotland map at this link has Hatfield at the lower edge of my screen, Welwyn Garden City above and slightly to the right, and Brocket Hall to the left of Welwyn Garden City. Once again, you can drag and zoom this map as needed if your screen size differs from mine. Brocket Hall lies along the River Lea, the most prominent blue lines on this map.

on holy ground (p. 202)

See the second note for this section at Biblia Wodehousiana.

banged imperiously on the glass (p. 202)

Sir George’s limousine apparently has a glass partition between the chauffeur’s front seat and the passenger seat in the rear.

he was impatient to be up and doing (p. 202)

An allusion to “Let us then be up and doing,” from the last stanza of Longfellow’s “A Psalm of Life”.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

Montague Grayson (p. 203)

The Grand serial is severely shortened here, so that the “large, mauve-faced individual in golfing costume” is never given a name nor an occupation as a novelist. Everything from “The owner of the neat little house” to “a bad morning’s golf” is cut, and there are other slight trims and substitutions.

the innermost of the seven Hells (p. 204)

Diego Seguí notes that the reference to “seven Hells” is puzzling, because Dante’s Inferno describes nine circles and one center where Satan is bound. Perhaps this is why the SEP serial simplifies this to “the innermost hell.”

that perilous stuff that weighs upon the soul (p. 204)

“upon the heart” in Macbeth; see Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

the Man Up Top (p. 204)

A new phrase for a person in command, a supervisor. Psmith used it in 1909, in the serial of Psmith, Journalist, and his alter ego Smith repeats it in the US edition of The Prince and Betty (1912). Google Books finds no earlier usages in this sense, but it becomes more common after 1914. The SEP serial does not have capital letters in this phrase.

the calmness of the man who is able to unhitch his brain at will and think of absolutely nothing (p. 206)


“You seem to have unhitched your brain and left it in the umbrella stand.”

Sir Mallaby Marlowe, to Sam, in The Girl on the Boat, ch. 9 §4 (1922)

The impression he conveyed was that he had unhitched his mind and was giving it a complete rest.…

Lord Uffenham, in Something Fishy, ch. 12 (1957)

half-a-crown (p. 206)

See A Damsel in Distress.

“If I give you this half crown will you go to the other side of the road and start throwing stones at it?” (p. 206)

The SEP serial omits “go to the other side of the road and” here.

“This half-crown.” (p. 206)

Both magazine serials instead give Bill the shorter response “Yes.”

his head seemed suddenly to split in the middle (p. 206–07)

This image for a big smile is reminiscent of Aunt Vera Sipperley’s sudden laughter in “Without the Option” (1925):

I was looking at her a bit anxiously all this while to see how she was taking the thing, and at this moment her face seemed suddenly to split in half. For an instant she appeared to be all mouth, and then she was staggering about the grass, shouting with laughter and waving the trowel madly.

See also The Old Reliable.

He took the half-crown, bit it (p. 207)

See A Damsel in Distress.

gasper (p. 207)

Slang for a cigarette, especially an inexpensive or harsh one.

Hurst Park (p. 207)

See Carry On, Jeeves.

billet (p. 208)

Here, a resting-place; see Leave It to Psmith for derivation and other senses.

A primrose by the river’s brim… (p. 208)

A primrose by a river’s brim
A yellow primrose was to him,
And it was nothing more.

Wordsworth, Peter Bell (1819 first edition)

you are to be found somewhere round these parts (p. 209)

Both magazine serials have “those” instead.

Sir George might miraculously have appeared as if out of a trap (p. 210)

Referring to a trap-door in a theatre stage, by which a ghost, devil, fairy, or other supernatural creature can make a sudden and startling entrance into a scene.

A little, bald, nervous man in spectacles appeared as if out of a trap.

“The Romance of an Ugly Policeman” (1915)

On several occasions he had startled her by appearing at her side as if he had come up out of a trap.

Jill the Reckless / The Little Warrior (1920/21)

“Rosbif,” said the waiter genially, manifesting himself suddenly beside them as if he had popped out of a trap.

The Adventures of Sally / Mostly Sally (1921/22)

She had only been out of the room a few minutes, and in that brief period a middle-aged lady of commanding aspect had apparently come up through a trap.

The Girl on the Boat, ch. 15.3 (1922; UK editions only)

It was as if the smooth-haired youth had popped up out of a trap.

Leave It to Psmith (1923)

Rudge Hall’s old retainer did not look the sort of man who would pop up through traps, but there seemed no other explanation of his presence.

Money for Nothing, ch. 10.1 (1928)

“Hell!” said the Bandit, appearing as if out of a trap.

“Jeeves and the Old School Chum” (1930)

“You do keep popping up, don’t you!” said Ann. “You always seem to appear from nowhere, out of a trap.”

Big Money, ch. 7 §2 (1931)

“It would scarcely be fair to ask him to do his stuff in a state of uncertainty as to whether or not a female dick was likely to pop up out of a trap and make a flying tackle the moment he got action.”

Hot Water, ch. 8 §3 (1932)

“She popped up out of a trap, eh?”

Heavy Weather, ch. 6 (1933)

I mean, it seemed too good to be true that the one chap I wanted to see should have popped up out of a trap like this so exactly at the psychological moment.

Laughing Gas, ch. 14 (1936)

“If a posse of curates hadn’t popped up out of a trap and lent a willing hand at precisely the right moment, he would have got me.”

The Code of the Woosters, ch. 12 (1938)

For an instant, indeed, his emotions had been practically identical with those of the heroine of a pantomime when the Demon King suddenly pops up out of a trap at her elbow in a cascade of red fire.

Uncle Fred in the Springtime, ch. 16 (1939)

The sort of look, in fine, which the heroine of a pantomime gives the Demon King when he comes popping up out of a trap at her elbow.

Joy in the Morning, ch. 7 (1947)

And then she suddenly pops up out of a trap at the house where we are staying, and before we can say “What ho!” love has sprung from the obituary column and is working away at the old stand more briskly than ever.

Pigs Have Wings, ch. 5 §3 (1952)

And right on top of that dramatic conversation who should pop up out of a trap but the man who had loved her with a strong silent passion from the first moment they had met.

Ring for Jeeves, ch. 6 (1953)

“A rather tight place has popped up out of a trap, Jeeves, and we should be glad of your counsel and advice.”

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

Often he had dreamed wistfully of a Prince Charming who would some day pop up out of a trap and, if encouraged to play his cards right, take Jane’s mind off Stanhope Twine before it was too late, and here, seated beside him, appeared to be the very man.

Something Fishy, ch. 12 (1957)

Remorse, in short, supervenes, and when the rejected one suddenly pops up out of a trap before her, her eyes widen, her nose twitches, her lips part, she cries, “Oh, Freddie darling!” and flings herself into his arms, and all is gas and gaiters again.

Ice in the Bedroom, ch. 2 (1961)

Always after him, always harrying him, always popping up out of a trap and wanting him to do things.

Service with a Smile, ch. 1 (1961)

I resented this habit he was developing of popping up out of a trap at me every other minute like a Demon King in pantomime, and only the fact that I couldn’t think of anything restrained me from saying something pretty stinging.

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 13 (1963)

After that session with the Sergeant he had supposed that nothing could ever again make him feel that life contained sunshine and laughter and happiness, but she, by the simple process of popping up out of a trap in the middle of a murky Paris street, had accomplished that miracle.

Frozen Assets, ch. 2 (1964)

“You are possibly wondering,” he said after Sam, recognising his advice as good, had taken it, “how I happened to pop up out of a trap like this at the centre of things.”

Galahad at Blandings, ch. 10 §2 (1965)

Any man is entitled to have trouble with his vocal cords when the girl he has been looking for all his life suddenly pops up out of a trap at him without a word of warning.

“Life with Freddie” in Plum Pie (1966)

“It must have shaken even a strong man like you when Connie suddenly popped up out of a trap like the Demon King in a pantomime.”

A Pelican at Blandings, ch. 3 §2 (1969)

Seeming to have popped up out of a trap, Chippendale had joined them.

The Girl in Blue, ch. 12 §2 (1970)

“Jeeves,” I said, “a somewhat peculiar situation has popped up out of a trap, and I would be happy to have your comments on it.”

Much Obliged, Jeeves, ch. 14 (1971)

It is difficult for a young man who has been brooding for a considerable time on the girl he loves to become articulate when she suddenly pops up out of a trap at his bedroom door.

Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin, ch. 9 §1 (1972)

congealed into a pillar of amazement (p. 210)

Diego notes the allusion to Lot’s wife in Genesis 19:26:

But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

If he had been a highly paid motion-picture star he could not have registered surprise more eloquently (p. 210)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

A man who has been through the sort of experiences which Bill had been having that afternoon does not look at things in the light of pure reason. (p. 210)

It is not necessary to claim that either Wodehouse had or your annotator has a complete understanding of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason to suggest that Kant, and commentators on his work, made “the light of pure reason” a stock phrase in the language. See also above for a variant on it.

roses—roses all the way (p. 211)

It was roses, roses, all the way,
 With myrtle mixed in my path like mad;
The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway,
 The church-spires flamed, such flags they had,
A year ago on this very day.

Robert Browning, “The Patriot” (1855)

a fist that looked to the other’s fascinated gaze like a ham (p. 212)


…it became redoubled as Mr. Thomas, swinging a fist like a ham, knocked Ukridge flat on his back.

“The Exit of Battling Billson” (1924)

I have observed my hands from time to time during my life and have never been struck by anything particularly hideous about them: but whenever I encounter Miss Julia Ukridge they invariably take on the appearance and proportions of uncooked hams.

“Buttercup Day” (1925; in Eggs, Beans and Crumpets, 1940)

[Beefy Bingham], bounding up, had extended a hand like a ham and, placing it beneath his host’s arm, gently helped him to rise…

“Company for Gertrude” (1928)

“Ah?” said Captain Bradbury, hiding with a hamlike hand a yawn that seemed to signify that Freddie’s foul antecedents were of little interest to him.

“Trouble Down at Tudsleigh” (1935; in UK edition of Young Men in Spats, 1936, and US edition of Eggs, Beans and Crumpets, 1940)

I pressed the glowing end [of the cigarette] on the ham-like hand which was impeding my way.

The Code of the Woosters, ch. 7 (1938)

…it was a gay and effervescent Ricky Gilpin who now bounded forward with a hamlike hand outstretched.

Uncle Fred in the Springtime, ch. 13 (1939)

the size of the hand. To Pongo’s excited imagination it seemed as large as a ham

Bill Oakshott’s hand in Uncle Dynamite, ch. 8.2 (1948)

[Stilton] passed a hamlike hand, gnarled with toiling at the oar, across his brow.

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 4 (1954)

“Well, someone ought to dot him in the eye. Wait!” said Lord Uffenham, holding up a hamlike hand.

Something Fishy, ch. 23 (1957)

[The Duke] banged the desk with a hamlike hand, upsetting, in the order named, an inkpot, two framed photographs and a vase of roses.

Service with a Smile, ch. 4 §2 (1961)

Reaching out a hamlike hand, [Spode] attached it to the scruff of Gussie’s neck and said “Ha!”

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 15 (1963)

“And what I came here for,” said Basher, resuming his remarks after thrusting a hamlike hand into his trouser pocket and bringing it out with a substantial wad of bank notes in it, “was to restore my ill-gotten gains.”

Do Butlers Burgle Banks?, ch. 7 (1968)

Diego notes that the comparison is not original with Wodehouse; he finds an earlier use of this simile from 1897.

beginning to come over the plate a bit too fast (p. 213)

A baseball pitcher must throw the ball through an imaginary rectangle called the “strike zone” for a valid pitch; the height of the zone has had different definitions over the years—at this period, not lower than the batsman’s knee, nor higher than his shoulder—but at all times the horizontal extent of the strike zone has been the width of the home plate, seventeen inches. One strategy for making it difficult for the batter to hit the ball accurately is to pitch it as fast as possible.

Wodehouse used this baseball analogy first in the American magazine version of a Reggie Pepper story, then in his dramatic criticism for the U.S. Vanity Fair, but it soon crept into the transatlantic versions of his fiction, even in British settings:

Looking back, it seems to me that I came nearer to getting over the home-plate with Ann Selby than with most of the others.

“The Test Case” (1915)
Note that the British version of the story simply says “nearer to rolling up the aisle” here.

Clare Kummer, whose “Dearie” I have so frequently sung in my bath, to the annoyance of all, suddenly turned right round, dropped song-writing, and ripped a couple of hot ones right over the plate.

“The Past Theatrical Season” (1917)

He has a good song, anyway, written by Ring Lardner, who puts them over the plate as deftly in verse as in prose.

“The Good Old Summertime” (1917)

“Now, how in the world,” said Psmith, struggling bravely, but with a growing sense that they were coming over the plate a bit too fast for him, “how in the world did she get an idea like that?”

Leave It to Psmith, ch. 10 (1923)

She had risen, and for perhaps half a minute stood staring at me in a sad sort of way, like the Mona Lisa on one of the mornings when the sorrows of the world had been coming over the plate a bit too fast for her.

The Code of the Woosters, ch. 10 (1938)

Aunt Dahlia heaved a deep sigh, the sigh of a woman who feels that they are coming over the plate too fast for her.

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 16 (1954)

throw in the towel (p. 213)

See The Luck of the Bodkins.

this hunted-fawn business (p. 213)

See A Damsel in Distress.

give you the willies (p. 213)

OED finds “to have the willies” first in Dialect Notes for 1896 as Cornell slang for “to be nervous.” Wodehouse used it as early as 1915 in Something New:

“I will not collect beetles!” said Mr. Peters definitely. “They give me the Willies.”

The SEP serial of Bill the Conqueror substitutes “heeby-jeebies” here, a more recent coinage (1923) by cartoonist William de Beck, creator of “Barney Google”; the citations in the OED suggest that his original intent was “a feeling of discomfort, apprehension, or depression.” Other senses of delirium tremens and of a jazz dance have citations later than 1924.

“I think this is a wow, don’t you?” (p. 214)

See Money for Nothing.

“A pip,” explained Bill. (p. 214)

Pip and pippin are colloquial terms for anything excellent of their type. The SEP serial substitutes “wam” for “pip” here; neither the OED nor Chapman’s New Dictionary of American Slang define it. Perhaps it is a variant of “wham”; OED has a 1923 New York Times citation defining it as a success, a knock-out.

“Tell me frankly, is the scheme a wam or is it not?”

“Jane Gets Off the Fairway” (1924)

“…in case friend Pilbeam starts any rannygazoo” (p. 215)

See The Code of the Woosters.
[Grand serial substitutes “games” for “rannygazoo.”]

Safety First was Pilbeam’s motto. (p. 215)

See If I Were You.

The good ship Homeric lay in her slip at Southampton, preparing for departure. (p. 215)

The name ending in -ic tells us that this is a ship of the White Star line, a naming convention used for Titanic, Britannic, and Majestic among others. The name was based on the Greek epics alluded to earlier in the book. [Thanks to DS for noting that it was a real ship.]

the sun-specked water (p. 215)

A misprint in the US first edition; other versions have “sun-speckled” here, which sounds more attractive.

the cobalt sky (p. 216)

This is the only instance so far found in Wodehouse of the adjective “cobalt.”

gulls…mewing like kittens (p. 216)

This is the only instance so far found in Wodehouse of this simile.

Chapter 12
A Visitor for Mr. Paradene

Action is the spice of life (p. 218)

We are more often told that variety is the spice of life, but one prominent advocate of the opinion above was silent film actress Helen Holmes (1892–1950), who starred in the action serial The Hazards of Helen from 1914 to 1917 for the Kalem Company. An interview with her in the New York Telegraph, 21 November 1915, was titled “Action is the Spice of Life, Says Miss Holmes.”
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

the historian of the fortunes of Bill West (p. 218)

Wodehouse uses “historian” as a synonym for “narrator” frequently. Here is a sampling:

It would be pleasant for a conscientious historian to be able to say that the one-thirty broke down just outside Victoria…

“Author!” (1901)

If I have done my work as historian with an adequate degree of skill, the reader should have gathered by this time the state of my feelings.

Love Among the Chickens (1906/1909)

But there are some things which the historian should hold sacred, some things which he should look on as proscribed material for his pen, and the actual words of a stout manufacturer of automobiles proposing marriage in the moonlight fall into this class.

Uneasy Money, ch. 10 (1916)

In matters where shades of feeling are involved, it is not always easy for the historian to be as definite as he could wish.

“Company for Gertrude” (1928)

In every chronicle of the rather intricate nature of the one which is here being related, there occurs a point where the conscientious historian finds it expedient to hold a sort of parade or inspection of the various actors in the drama which he is unfolding.

Hot Water, ch. 7 (1932)

It is one of the chief drawbacks to the lot of the conscientious historian that in pursuance of his duties he is compelled to leave in obscurity many of those to whom he would greatly prefer to give star billing.

Pigs Have Wings, ch. 5 (1952)

It is one of the drawbacks to the historian’s task that in recording dialogue between his characters he must select and abridge, giving merely the gist of their remarks and not a full stenographic transcript.

Ice in the Bedroom, ch. 19 (1961)

still doing business at the old stand (p. 219)

An advertising cliché used by long-established firms; Norman Murphy noted (A Wodehouse Handbook, volume 2) that bookmakers at racecourses used the phrase to emphasize their reliability, and Wodehouse used variations on it often. Here are just a few:

Next day it was noticed by the observant that the firm of Selwicke and Ellison was once more doing business at the old stand.

“The Last Place” (1905)

For Ferdinand’s inferiority complex, which had seemed cured for ever, was back again, doing business at the old stand.

“The Heart of a Goof” (1924)

“The damask cheek will continue to do business at the old stand indefinitely?”

Thank You, Jeeves, ch. 5 (1934)

I had forgotten all about that letter, but now, as its burning phrases came back to me, hope, which I had thought dead, threw off the winding sheet and resumed business at the old stand.

Joy in the Morning, ch. 21 (1947)

a mere additional fifty per month (p. 219)

A rough equivalent to $750 in the year 2020 in buying power, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index inflation calculator.

Sherman Bastable, who was now endeavouring to teach Horace French, was a very different man… (p. 219)

Despite the clear statement two paragraphs earlier that “the lad is receiving a lesson in the French language from Mr. Sherman Bastable,” David Jasen misread the sentence quoted above and included “Horace French” among the list of characters in the book in his comprehensive but not-entirely-reliable book A Bibliography and Reader’s Guide to the First Editions of P. G. Wodehouse. Other reference works, including earlier editions of Who’s Who in Wodehouse, perpetuated Jasen’s error. The new third edition of Who’s Who corrects this and lists the lad as Horace Paradene, his name after adoption. We never learn his original surname.
[Grand serial omits the commas.]

Simon Legree (p. 219)

See Money in the Bank.

a basilisk glare (p. 220)

See Ice in the Bedroom.

apple sauce (p. 220)

The OED calls this North American slang for “nonsense, insincere flattery, lies,” and gives their first citation in this meaning from Ring Lardner in 1925. I’ve submitted this earlier usage to the OED.
[Grand serial hyphenates “apple-sauce.”]

Diego finds three instances from 1922 popular magazine fiction, all by H. C. Witwer, one in Collier’s and two in Cosmopolitan, here and here; these magazines also published Wodehouse stories, so it is likely that Wodehouse learned the slang sense from Witwer.

Herod the Great (p. 221)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

diverted to an argument (p. 221)

The SEP serial omits the last three words here, saying simply “diverted.” The Grand serial omits the passage.

Beacon Lights of History, Vol. II, The Middle Ages (p. 221)

A real work, by John Lord, published in several volumes in the 1880s. The quotation which Horace is mangling actually begins on page 198 rather than page 98, and is slightly abridged and re-ordered; nevertheless the source is undisputable.
[For unknown reasons the SEP serial has Bernard’s birth as 1090 at Fontaines. The entire passage of reading from this book is omitted in the Grand serial.]

He did not know much about saints, but he knew what he liked (p. 222)

Allusion to the cliché “I don’t know much about Art, but I know what I like.” This topped one list of outworn sayings in Gelett Burgess’s 1906 Are You a Bromide?, showing that it was already old at the time.

a cake-eater (p. 222)

The OED calls this US slang for a self-indulgent or effeminate man, with one citation from 1922, so Wodehouse’s usage was up-to-date. Dialect Notes cites it in a 1922 list of college slang for “a small salaried male person who frequents teas and other entertainments and never makes any effort to repay his social obligations.” In Laughing Gas (1936) Orlando Flower calls Joey Cooley (actually Lord Havershot in Joey’s body) “Sissy! Pansy! Cake-eater!” Adrian Peake in Summer Moonshine (1937) could be put in a similar category, one of those twerps who “prefer to exist beautifully on free lunches, free dinners, free suppers and free cocktails with little sausages on sticks.”
[Grand serial omits the passage.]

from Aix to Ghent (p. 222)

See Ice in the Bedroom.

the assiduity of the polyp that builds the coral reef (p. 224)

Actually it takes thousands or millions of polyps to build a coral reef, but the image is a striking one, and as far as can be determined is unique in Wodehouse.

palimpsest (p. 224)

A writing surface, such as parchment, from which earlier writing has been erased or scraped off so that the writing surface can be reused, or a document written on such an erased surface. Once again the Professor uses an image that Wodehouse never repeated, as far as is known.
[The entire sentence is omitted in the Grand serial.]

virgin soil (p. 224)

Yet another unique metaphor, here referring to land that has never been cultivated.

his white beard wabbled agitatedly (p. 225)

See A Damsel in Distress. Unlike some of the examples cited there, Wodehouse’s choice of “wabble” here was retained by the editors of book and magazine editions in the US and UK.

a quick clean-up and fade-out (p. 228)

The OED has a Wodehouse citation for “clean-up” in the sense of “robbery” from Mr. Mulliner Speaking (1929); I’ve submitted this earlier Wodehouse usage to them, prior to the 1928 Edgar Wallace citation that is currently their first in this sense.

“Fade-out” is motion-picture jargon for ending a scene smoothly by stopping down the camera’s lens aperture slowly, making the image grow gradually darker in the final print; the OED has a 1918 citation from a technical book on movies and a 1920 citation from Wodehouse’s Jill the Reckless (The Little Warrior):

Marriage isn’t a motion-picture close-up with slow fade-out on the embrace.

Wodehouse also used “slow fade-out on the embrace” in The Girl on the Boat (1922, UK edition only).

A regular close-up and slow fade-out of Virtue Triumphant.

“The Sausage Chappie” (1920; in Indiscretions of Archie, 1921)

…the play ends like a stearine motion-picture with a close-up and slow fade-out on the embrace.

“The New Plays” (drama criticism, 1920)

“If this film is to end with the slow fade-out on the embrace, at least double is indicated.”

“Jeeves in the Spring-Time” (1921; ch. 2 in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923)

[Freddie] had spent the afternoon in a motion-picture palace, and the fascination of the film had caused him to lose all sense of time, so that only the slow fade-out on the embrace and the words “The End” reminded him to look at his watch.

Leave It to Psmith, ch. 7.2 (1923)

The term was soon generalized to leaving a scene (one 1924 OED citation) and to dying or other gradual disappearances; once again Wodehouse is right up to date with the most current colloquial terms.

yegg (p. 228)

A burglar; see the end notes to The Intrusion of Jimmy (1910, also as A Gentleman of Leisure) for a 1910 Wodehouse usage and the derivation.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

rubbering (p. 228)

American slang for looking, especially turning the head to look (a shortening of “rubbernecking”). The first OED citation is from George Ade in 1896, one of Wodehouse’s favorite sources for colloquial Americanisms.

ivory skull (p. 228)

Another way of calling Horace bone-headed as before.

The table was covered with a deep top-dressing of books and papers (p. 230)

Just like your annotator’s own desk! Here “top-dressing” is an agricultural term for mulch, compost, or fertilizer spread on the surface of garden soil.

a buff envelope (p. 231)

Of a light brownish-yellow color: the color of buff-leather, a heavy oxhide leather dressed with oil, with a fuzzy surface. The paper envelope might well be what we now call manila.

holy of holies (p. 234)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

wireless (p. 235)

A telegram sent by radio; see also the synonym “marconigram” below.

“I suppose he roasted me, eh?” (p. 235)

To “roast” in the sense of to criticize or ridicule is far older than I would have guessed; the OED has citations as far back as 1710. One is from Wodehouse in 1920, from Jill the Reckless/The Little Warrior:

“I’ve an idea,” said Mr. Goble, raising his voice as the long form of Mr. Pilkington crossed the stage towards them, “that the critics will roast it.”

But Wodehouse used it earlier, in an American magazine story, ”The Romance of Mac’s” (1916):

…while some of them roasted the play considerable, they all gave Katie a boost.

The British version of the story substitutes “cussed” here.

“must be a damned fool!” (p. 235)

The SEP serial omits “damned” here.

Chapter 13
Bill Makes a Discovery

dressing-gown (p. 236)

A long robe with a belt worn at home in order to be “dressed”; typically worn to cover incomplete dress, nightwear, underwear, or the bare body; a bathrobe.

New York World (p. 236)

A major newspaper in America, founded 1860; most famous under the ownership of Joseph Pulitzer from 1883 to 1911 and the Pulitzer family until 1931, when it was merged into the World-Telegram. The World was known for sensational journalism, competing with Hearst papers in “yellow journalism”; it also had the first color comic section. It is not surprising that it was Judson’s paper of choice.

regular stimulus of alcohol so highly recommended…by the medical profession (p. 236)

See medicinal above and the links there.

wrap himself round half a dozen slices of bacon (p. 236)

Like “get outside” this is a humorous inversion of the process of getting food or drink inside oneself. See The Inimitable Jeeves for more.

joy and elasticity (p. 237)

The term “elasticity” is memorably used by Ukridge referring to financial flexibility, especially in terms of credit:

“Without credit commerce has no elasticity. And if commerce has no elasticity what dam’ good is it?”

“Ukridge’s Dog College” (1923)

A few other characters use similar arguments in trying to get a drink on credit at a bar. But in nearly all other cases in Wodehouse it refers to physical resiliency, springiness of step, suppleness of body. This is the only instance so far found where it refers to emotional buoyancy, which is the oldest figurative sense of the word according to OED citations going back to 1678.

smiling faces around him (p. 237)

See Summer Lightning.

“Broadcasts His Love” (p. 237)

My earlier note here suggested that this seemed like the sort of thing that Wodehouse might have clipped and saved from a real newspaper, the way he did with Harold Sperry. Diego Seguí discovered that in this case Wodehouse changed the names and cities but kept most of the other phrasing intact. The wire-service report was found in many newspapers; the cutting imaged at right is from the Miami Daily News, Feb. 15, 1924. The story had a happy ending; their marriage was reported in the Brooklyn Chat of March 7, 1925.

the Pollyanna behind the coffee-pot (p. 237)

See Carry On, Jeeves.

‘Would Match Miss Bauer Against Men Swimmers’ (p. 237–8)

Sybil Bauer (1903–1927) set 23 world records in backstroke swimming, and won an Olympic gold medal in 1924. In 1922, she was the first female athlete to break a sporting record held by a man, the 440-yard backstroke. See this 1923 article from Popular Science magazine.

Absolutely snatched from the undertaker’s grasp. (p. 238)

The SEP serial reads “snitched” here; our transcription assumes this to be a printer’s error, although there is the barest possibility that the magazine editor wanted to emphasize the “stolen” rather than “grabbed” meaning.

inditing a letter (p. 239)

The verb is rare in modern times; the last OED citation is from Disraeli in 1870. Wodehouse seems to have used it only this one time, but it may well be the mot juste; inditing has two overlapping senses: composing the content of a document as well as writing it down on paper.

prose poems (p. 239)

Writing that combines the form of prose (set out in ordinary paragraphs without meter, rhyme, line divisions, etc.) with the creative ambition in word choice and imagery characteristic of poetry.

“What a vivid description that was that you gave of me. Quite a prose poem.”

“The Man Who Gave Up Smoking” (1929)

He had picked up his yachting magazine and was re-reading the advertisement of which he had spoken to her at Waterloo. It virtually amounted to a prose poem.

Hot Water, ch. 2 §6 (1931)

mauve covers (p. 239)

See limp purple above.

giving him no kick whatever (p. 240)

This seems to be a very early usage of “kick” in the sense of a thrill of enjoyment, made famous a decade later by Cole Porter in the song “I Get a Kick out of You” from Anything Goes. Earlier OED citations in sense 2.c. of the noun refer to the kick of alcohol in a mixed drink. Other usages of “no kick” in Wodehouse seem all to mean “no objection” or “no complaint,” except for this one parallel passage:

I got no kick from the shining sun, no uplift from the azure firmament, as it is sometimes called: while as for the twittering birds their heartiness in the circumstances seemed overdone and in dubious taste.

Bertie Wooster’s narration in Joy in the Morning, ch. 20 (1946)

medicinally as a food capable of supplying energy in a particularly labile form to the body (p. 240–41)

For alcohol as a food, see the notes to the US magazine version of “Absent Treatment” (1911). “Labile” in chemistry usually means unstable, or with easily broken chemical bonds; the sense here seems to be “easily-absorbed.” In any case, it is clear that Judson has consulted the Encyclopædia Britannica, eleventh edition, in the article on Brandy.

stimulant, carminative and hypnotic (p. 241)

Judson continues to quote from the Encyclopædia Britannica (see link in item above). Later medical opinion of course characterizes alcohol as a depressant of many neurological functions, including inhibitions, so that in some persons it may appear to be a stimulant, at least for a time. Wodehouse himself wrote accurately of this in Hot Water, ch. 5 (1932):

…beyond a certain point, the wine-cup ceases to stimulate and, instead, depresses.

Jeeves says that “Alcohol has a sedative rather than a stimulating effect” on himself, in Joy in the Morning, ch. 23, (1946).

A carminative is a medicine that helps to expel flatulence. A hypnotic is one that induces sleep.

their name would have been mud (p. 241)

Usually the phrase is used to describe someone unpopular, unreliable, disgraced; OED links it to obsolete British slang (18th–19th centuries) for “mud” as a fool or stupid person. Judson takes it further to imply impending doom, and that sense is noted in Chapman’s New Dictionary of American Slang.

bimbo (p. 241)

See Leave It to Psmith.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

feeling like a two-year-old (p. 241)

The age when a thoroughbred racehorse usually begins training and sometimes participating in races against other young horses; a time of great liveliness and vigor.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

pots of money (p. 241)

See Ukridge.

the agony would commence (p. 243)

An allusion to Gilbert & Sullivan’s Ruddigore, in which the ghosts of the ancestors of the present Bad Baronet threaten him with torturous pains if he fails to commit a crime each day; at one point the leading ghost says “Let the agonies commence!”

these mementos of a dead past (p. 243)

See Sam the Sudden.

It was a day when even the most prudent would have left his umbrella at home (p. 244)

The SEP serial instead says “It was a day when even Queen Mary would have left her umbrella at home”; the Grand serial omits the passage. Diego Seguí found news references to a 12 January 1914 incident when the Queen visited the Norwich Castle Museum and an attendant, not recognizing her, refused her admission unless she gave up her umbrella, which she refused to do. Commentary on the incident included this from the Manchester Courier, 15 January:

Queen Mary sticks to the tradition of the umbrella. In Victorian times a neatly-rolled umbrella was a hallmark of gentility, not to say respectability, and a woman thirty years ago would no more walk about town without one than she would swing her handbag in Bond Street to-day. But the modern woman of fashion no longer has a rack stacked with umbrellas.

After her death, the Northern Whig claimed to have an explanation (13 April 1953):

 It is not generally known that these tall, stoutly-built, if fragile-looking umbrellas were originally suggested to the late Queen because she suffered so badly with foot troubles.
 A clever chiropodist to whom she went many years ago, when long standing and much walking at public functions began to have their effect on foot and ankle bones, told her that she must never be without some kind of support so that the weight of her body was not all borne by foot and ankle.
 The tall umbrella was his solution, and Queen Mary had it made to the measurements suggested by the chiropodist. She found it of the utmost benefit and continued to have the original model copied in whatever material blended best with her gowns and ensembles.
 The Queen was rarely seen in public without the umbrella, and it was generally regarded as a foible of hers to carry it.

Diego points us to a news photo of the queen with her granddaughters, carrying the umbrella, and notes that Swaine, Adeney, Brigg & Sons Ltd. advertised that they were glove and umbrella makers by appointment to Her Majesty.

In any event the reference was changed for the book editions.

caracolling gayly on down the path (p. 245)

A caracol or caracole is a maneuver in horsemanship, a wheeling half-turn to the right or left, or a succession of alternating turns. Generalized to any capering or zigzag course by a human or animal.

She turned towards the drive, Smith caracoling at her side.

Smith is the bulldog in The Girl on the Boat, ch. 10 §2 (1922)

Nevertheless, there was a moment when, as she saw Sigsbee H. caracole into the drawing-room with George and heard him announce in a ringing voice that this fine young son of the western prairies had come to take pot-luck, Mrs. Waddington indisputably reeled.

The Small Bachelor, ch. 3 §1 (1927)

Alastor on the long Chorasmian shore (p. 245)

An allusion to Shelley’s poem Alastor, or the Spirit of Solitude (1816). The SEP serial quotes Shelley correctly as “the lone Chorasmian shore”; the Grand serial omits this sentence. Chorasmia was a satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire in Persia; it approximates the modern region of Khwarezm.

the depression of a Eugene Aram (p. 247)

See Summer Lightning for notes on the real-life man and a link to the poem by Thomas Hood, which describes Aram’s dream that the corpse of his murder victim continues to pop up despite attempts to conceal it.

a long and flowing tie of mauve silk (p. 247)

See Leave It to Psmith.

Stevenson’s Bottle Imp (p. 248)

An 1891 short story by Robert Louis Stevenson, a fable about a bottle with a spirit inside with the power to grant wishes, but with a curse on it which condemns the owner to hell if he dies with it in his possession. Summary at Wikipedia. Online text of Island Nights’ Entertainments at Project Gutenberg.

hour of clear vision (p. 249)

See A Damsel in Distress.

marconigram (p. 250)

A telegraph message sent via radio; same as “wireless” above. Sometimes capitalized, after the inventor Marconi.

For the 1923 musical The Beauty Prize, Wodehouse and George Grossmith Jr. supplied a lyric about a shipboard radio operator whose girlfriend was on shore, and who complained:

You can’t make love by wireless;
It’s like eggs without the ham.
There is nothing girls desire less
Than a cold Marconigram.

Chapter 14
Unforeseen Enchantment of Waterloo Station

silent watches of the night (p. 251)

See The Clicking of Cuthbert.

Romeo…Rosaline (p. 251)

Though Romeo gets over sixty mentions in Wodehouse, this appears to be the only reference to Rosaline.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

the scales had fallen from his eyes (p. 251)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

Flick was the only girl in the world for him (p. 251)

See Lord Emsworth and Others.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

The march of progress has robbed Waterloo Station of its mysteries (p. 252)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

it seemed to boil and bubble like a cauldron (p. 253)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse. The SEP serial has the simplified spelling “caldron” here.

causing more hard feelings than a judge at a baby-contest (p. 254)

From an early beginning, commenting in the “By the Way” column (first item below) and responding in verse to a medical journal’s reaction to baby-contest judging standards (see “The Modern Babe”, 1903), Wodehouse frequently mentions the topic.

On Saturday last a baby-show was held at Tourcoing. Two o’clock struck, and there was an expectant whoop from the infants, for the time had come for the judges to arrive. To the evident disappointment of the competitors they were two hours late, and when they decided that none of the babies deserved a prize, outraged maternal feelings produced unutterable chaos, in which mothers and judges became inextricably mixed. In future these judges will limit their professional duties to football matches.

“By the Way” in the Globe, London, September 7, 1903

Well, when I tell you that he hadn’t been out on the Croisette ten minutes before a French bloke came up and offered him five hundred francs to judge a Peasant Mothers Baby Competition down by the harbour, where they were having some sort of local fête or jamboree in honour of a saint whose name has escaped me, you will admit that he must have looked pretty impressive.

“Noblesse Oblige” (1934)

“Officer,” said Charles Pikelet, “to settle a bet, is this baby here uglier than that baby there?”

“Sonny Boy” (1939)

“Dashed dangerous things, these baby contests. The little beasts are bad enough themselves, but it’s the mothers you want to watch out for. Look,” he said, baring his leg and indicating a cicatrice on the calf. “That’s what I got once in Peru for being fool enough to let myself be talked into judging a competition for bonny babies. The mother of one of the Hon. Mentions got after me with a native dagger.”

Uncle Dynamite, ch. 12 (1948) — one of many references in the book to judging baby contests.

Came a day when Bingo’s bouncing baby, entered in a baby contest against some of the warmest competition in South Kensington, scooped in the first prize, a handsome all-day sucker, getting kissed in the process by the wife of a Cabinet Minister and generally fawned upon by all and sundry.

The Mating Season, ch. 12 (1949)

“Mr. Little,” said Purkiss, avoiding Algernon Aubrey’s eye, for the child was giving him the sort of cold, hard look which Jack Dempsey used to give his opponents in the ring, “there is to be a Bonny Babies contest here tomorrow, and I have got to act as judge!”

“Leave It to Algy” (1959)

“All marriages are disastrous,” said Plank, who gave one the impression, reading between the lines, that he was a bachelor. “They lead to bonny babies, and bonny babies lead to bonny baby competitions. I was telling this gentleman here of an experience I had in Peru and showing him the scar on my leg, the direct result of being ass enough to judge one of these competitions.”

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 20 (1963)

Come one, come all, this platform shall fly from its firm base as soon as I (p. 254)

An allusion to Sir Walter Scott, The Lady of the Lake; see Leave It to Psmith.

plenty of room at the top (p. 254–55)

The oldest reference so far found, from 1887, puts this phrase in quotation marks but gives no citation. An 1890 article gives a source and says that it has been stated for many years.

It is related that a young limb of the law once asked Daniel Webster if the legal profession were not overcrowded, and that the great lawyer informed him there was plenty of room at the top.

F. J. Masten, in The Age of Steel, Sept. 6, 1890

Diego Seguí finds an older account, from 1870.

sand-bag (p. 255)

See above.

truck (p. 256)

Not a motor truck (=UK lorry) but a handcart or baggage dolly, pushed by a porter.

Juggernaut (p. 256)

See Heavy Weather.

“Ask Mr. Halleran!” (p. 257)

Ask Mr. HalleranJohn J. Halleran Sr. founded a real-estate agency in Flushing, New York, in the latter part of the nineteenth century, and his sons continued the business after his death in 1898, giving the business a span of more than 120 years. Billboards with the slogan “Ask Mr. Halleran, the Real Estate Man!” are still remembered by the oldest inhabitants, according to a newspaper profile. Another article has a photo of their office, with their slogan in bold letters.
[Reference omitted in Grand serial.]

The image at right was an incidental illustration to Part Nine of the Liberty serial of The Small Bachelor, November 13, 1926, in which the substitute minister for George Finch’s wedding is found in Flushing. It is a mere coincidence that the Halleran billboard is shown; the real-estate man is not mentioned in that novel.

“Let’s go off and get married—quick!” (p. 257)

The SEP serial has “go out” here.

“I never went to her.” (p. 258)

Thus in the US book, but “I never went near her” in all three other versions, which seems more in keeping with Flick’s feelings about her.

“I’ll write you.” (p. 259)

Thus in the US book, but “I’ll write to you” in all three other versions.

Aunt Francie was finding some difficulty in manœuvring round a truck (p. 260)

The SEP serial substitutes the verb “navigating” here.

Agony Column (p. 260)

A popular term for two different kinds of newspaper features; originally, and in this case, a column of personal advertisements, such as appeals for missing friends or relatives to get in touch. Sherlock Holmes frequently uses the term in this sense, as in “The Adventure of the Red Circle” (1911):

He took down the great book in which, day by day, he filed the agony columns of the various London journals. “Dear me,” said he, turning over the pages, “what a chorus of groans, cries, and bleatings! A rag-bag of singular happening! But surely the most valuable hunting ground that was ever given to a student of the unusual.”

Wodehouse used it as early as 1901:

He encloses a sample of some porridge, which, he avers, was served to him on the twenty-fourth ult., and wishes me to have it analysed, and publish the result in the agony column of the Times.

“Under the Flail” (August 1901)

Another sense of the term, arising somewhat later and apparently not used by Wodehouse, refers to “advice to the lovelorn” columns, also dealing with other personal difficulties. Since the 1970s the authors of these are referred to as “agony aunts” (or uncles, in a few cases).

Mr. Rawlinson (p. 260)

The quick-thinking Flick comes up with a surname that sounds plausible and respectable. Wodehouse never used it for another character.

a courteous bow in the direction of the more formidable than ever Aunt Francie (p. 260)

Thus in both US and UK books, but the magazine editors had different choices. In the SEP serial, it is “a courteous bow in the direction of the more than ever formidable Aunt Francie”; in Grand it is “a courteous bow in the direction of the more-formidable-than-ever Aunt Francie” (your annotator’s choice for the most readable option).

Chapter 15
Judson Finds an Old Friend

the Regent Grill-Room (p. 261)

See Ukridge.

La Boheme and even louder classics (p. 261)

The US book has no accent, as quoted above; the UK book misspells it “Bohéme”; both magazine serials have the incorrect “Bohême”; the proper spelling is “Bohème.” It is unclear which selection from Puccini’s 1895 opera was being played, but there are many “even louder classics” than this opera, most of which has tender and sentimental music.

little ray of sunshine (p. 262)

An English play titled “A Little Ray of Sunshine” by Mark Ambient and Wilton Heriot played in New York in 1899; Harper’s Weekly reviewed it as “a conventional English farce.” Wodehouse linked the phrase to a dramatic adaptation of Pollyanna in a 1916 theatre review:

But there is another thing to be glad about in connection with “Pollyanna.” A new Winter Garden revue is in preparation, so we shall probably have an opportunity of seeing George Munroe in the part. Charming as Miss Collinge is, George Munroe is what the play really wants. His kittenish style would fit the role of the little ray of sunshine to perfection.

“Gladness Under Difficulties” in Vanity Fair, November 1916.

See also Piccadilly Jim.

“that was just infatuation.” (p. 262)

The magazine serials both read “just an infatuation”; both book editions omit the indefinite article as above.

Judson, who came of a free race (p. 262)

In other words, as an American he has freedom of speech and other rights.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

Bill groaned in spirit. (p. 263)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Better to have poured out his heart into a dictaphone (p. 263)

The SEP serial follows the magazine’s editorial policy and omits the trade name as above, substituting “listening-in device” here. This seems less accurate than the earlier substitution, as “listening in” is a typically British locution for the use of a radio receiver to enjoy a broadcast program. The less-frequent sense of the phrase “listening in” means wiretapping a telephone conversation, and neither piece of equipment would seem the sort of device one would pour out one’s heart into.

“The world’s worst,” said Judson. “The world’s very punkest.” (p. 264)

From the noun punk, meaning timber which has rotted or decayed until soft and useless, comes the adjective meaning “rotten” or “lousy” in the figurative sense of being worthless or inferior. Wodehouse’s first uses of the word so far discovered:

I wish I’d seen this before I put on the punk I’m doing now.

“In Alcala” (1909)

Until he was thirty he had been satisfied to class all poetry (except that of Mr. George Cohan) under the general heading of punk.

“Archibald’s Benefit” (1910)

The only other usages so far found of the superlative form of the adjective:

“That means you agree with me that it’s the punkest state of things you ever struck.”

“This is about the punkest joint I ever was in.”

Both spoken by Steve Dingle in The White Hope, book 2, ch. 3 & ch. 9 (1914), later in book form as The Coming of Bill/Their Mutual Child.

“I seem to see myself letting them do it!” (p. 265)

Bill is speaking ironically here. Wodehouse also uses the phrase in a positive sense in The Gem Collector (1909):

“Then,” said Jimmy decidedly, “I seem to see myself making a big hit.”

a pal of Miss Stryker’s pal whose name had sounded like Biscuit, only it could hardly be that (p. 266)

Later, in Big Money (1931), Wodehouse created a character named Godfrey Edward Winstanley Brent, Lord Biskerton, and gave him the nickname “the Biscuit.”

trap-drums (p. 266)

A set of drums and other percussion instruments such as cymbals, set up for the use of a single player.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

There is a brisk delirium about a modern revue (p. 267)

Wodehouse, an experienced man of the theatre, uses the phrase only in theatrical settings:

…rehearsals had just reached that stage of brisk delirium when the author toys with his bottle of poison and the stage-manager becomes icily polite.

“Deep Waters” (1910)

…things theatrical are inseparable from a sort of brisk delirium usually associated only with the interiors of homes for the insane.

“What Really Happened to Hamlet” (1915)

…there is a brisk delirium about these boys [theatrical managers] which is simply fascinating.

“The New Plays” (1917)

beneath their lady’s window (p. 267)

Both magazine serials read “beneath their ladies’ windows” here.

Obviously there was but one place for him on such a night. (p. 267)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

Chapter 16
A Dinner Engagement for Bill

Exactly when it was that he was awakened by a noise (p. 269)

The SEP serial has “wakened”; the Grand serial and UK book have “woken” here.

Battersea at that moment contained no sunnier man than Judson Coker. (p. 269)

This sentence is omitted in both magazine serials.

“You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!” (p. 270)

See Ukridge.

“I’m glad! glad!! glad!!!” (p. 270)

The SEP serial uses only one exclamation point for each word. This is another quotation from Pollyanna:

“Oh, I’m so glad, glad, glad to see you,” cried an eager voice in her ear. “Of course I’m Pollyanna, and I’m so glad you came to meet me! I hoped you would.”

Wodehouse had alluded to this before:

“And I’m glad—glad—glad, if you don’t mind my quoting Pollyanna for a moment.”

The Little Warrior, ch. 16 §4 (1920)

a hundred smackers (p. 271)

The OED quotes this sentence as its second citation for “smackers” as dollars; the first citation is from 1920. Later examples use the term for pesos or pounds as well, but this one is clearly in American money.

four in every five will get pyorrhea (p. 271)

The Forhan Company of New York trademarked the phrase “four out of five of them will get pyorrhea” for their toothpaste advertisements. The malady (in full pyorrhea alveolaris) is a periodontal disease involving discharge of pus from the gums, often leading to loss of teeth.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

if people don’t like it they can do the other thing (p. 271)

Although the oldest citations for “do the other thing” are euphemisms for sexual activity, in Victorian and Edwardian times a less explicit colloquial sense arose, a rude dismissal somewhere between “get out of here” and “go to hell.”

I didn’t get an absolute strangle-hold on the facts of the case (p. 274)

Literally, a strangle-hold is a wrestling hold on the opponent’s neck which stops his breath; the first figurative use cited in the OED from 1901 refers to a business strategy that undercuts a rival. Wodehouse uses it as a humorous exaggeration of “grasp” with no implication of competition.

“And Comrade Jackson is improving every day. Being, as he is, under my constant supervision, he is rapidly developing a stranglehold on his duties, which——”

Psmith, in Psmith in the City (serialized as The New Fold, 1909)

In order that the reader may get that mental strangle-hold on the plot of this narrative which is so essential if a short story is to charm, elevate, and instruct, it is necessary now for the nonce (but only for the nonce) to inspect Reginald’s past life.

“Reginald’s Record Knock” (1909)

There still come days in the spring when the country seems to get a strangle-hold on me and to start in pulling.

“At Geisenheimer’s” (1915)

[The SEP serial spells “strangle hold” as two words.]

a girl from the Gaiety (p. 274)

See A Damsel in Distress and another note from the same book.

dirty work (p. 274)

See Laughing Gas.

running on all six cylinders (p. 274)

An unsigned piece in Vanity Fair, November 1915, is the earliest usage of “running on all eight cylinders” so far found. (No, it doesn’t sound like Wodehouse to me.) A 1917 article reprints a 1916 description of salesmanship “running on all six cylinders.” But there are only a few search results for either phrase before 1924, so it seems that Wodehouse may have been the first major fiction writer to adopt the term from the business world.

pie-eyed (p. 274)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

tanked (p. 274)

Slang for “drunk”; OED citations from the 1890s are British, but in American usage by 1906. Wodehouse is cited for a 1964 use in Frozen Assets, but he used it much earlier as well:

“They were both a good deal more tanked than I could have wished, but I introduced them to Aunt Isabel as David Belasco and Jim Corbett, and it went well.”

Rocky Todd in “The Aunt and the Sluggard” (1916)

“He was a good deal tanked.”
“He’s always drinking, I believe.”

Piccadilly Jim (1917)

[Omitted in Grand serial.]

Samson (p. 274–5)

See Love Among the Chickens and Biblia Wodehousiana.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

Marc Antony (p. 275)

See Love Among the Chickens.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

“The bigger they are,” sighed Judson, “the harder they fall.” (p. 275)

Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations calls this a boxing expression attributed to Robert Fitzsimmons (1862–1917) and to John L. Sullivan (1858–1918), but “probably much earlier than either.” Google Books does not find an earlier source than Boys’ Life in 1913.

chopping and changing (p. 275)

Your annotator has encountered this pair of gerunds mostly in British literature for years without pursuing what chopping has to do with changing. It turns out that an obsolete verb sense of chop is to barter or exchange one thing for another, and that the two verbs have been paired alliteratively for centuries; even Tyndale’s 1526 English Bible has “which choppe and chaunge with the worde of God” (2 Corinthians 2:17, rendered “which corrupt the word of God” in the King James Version). So even then, the “barter” sense had “become indistinct” [OED] and the sense of making frequent or unmotivated alterations was rising.

Wodehouse used it a few times throughout his career; here is a sampling:

“I was thinking,” said Werner Stauffacher, “that it would be a pity always to be chopping and changing. Why not choose the same three as were sent to Gessler?”

William Tell Told Again, ch. 4 (1904)

“And what I say is that all this chopping and changing handicaps a chap.”

Hugo Carmody, complaining about fads in dancing in Summer Lightning, ch. 4 §2 (1929)

“Pretty soon you’ll have to be keeping a daily memo, to remind you which actually is your current shed. But don’t think, sir,” said Albert Peasemarch, striking a graver note, for he could be serious as well as witty, “that I approve of all this chopping and changing.”

The Luck of the Bodkins, ch. 13 (1935)

“I disapprove of all this chopping and changing,” he said, though agreeing that there was nothing in the rules against it.

A Crumpet at the Drones in “The Fat of the Land” (as revised for A Few Quick Ones, 1959)

Aces and eights (p. 276)

Most references to this phrase are to the “dead man’s hand” in poker: two pair, the black aces and the black eights, supposedly held by Wild Bill Hickok when he was shot in 1876. The Wikipedia article gives a 1926 book as the earliest source of this identification, although “aces and eights” as the dead man’s hand can be found in Heywood Broun’s The Boy Grew Older (1922). In any case, the dead man’s hand is clearly an unlucky one, which is hardly what Judson would be stressing in this conversation.

Far more plausible is this theatrical identification:

The late Will A. McConnell, critic and wit, was wont to refer to all good things of the stage as “aces and eights.” Thus he distinguished the successes from the failures, which he classified as “deuces.”

Channing Pollock, reviewing “The Fortune Hunter” in The Green Book Album, vol. II, no. 5 (November, 1909)

My God! (p. 276)

The SEP serial omits even this mild oath.

Judson reached for the Referee (p. 276)

A Sunday newspaper founded in London in 1877, primarily covering sports news. It merged with the Sunday Chronicle in 1939.
[The SEP serial merely refers to it as “the Sunday paper.”]

Chapter 17
Sunday Night at Mario’s

return of prodigals…fatted calf (p. 277)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

whole strength of the company (p. 277)

See above.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

day by day, in every way (p. 277)

An allusion to Coué; see Young Men in Spats and the further cross-reference at that note.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

depression claiming her for its own (p. 277)

Probably a glancing allusion to a line in the Epitaph to Thomas Gray’s 1751 Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard:

Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
 A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
Fair Science frown’d not on his humble birth,
 And Melancholy mark’d him for her own.

Wodehouse would use a more direct version of the quotation later in Ice in the Bedroom, and another altered allusion in Hot Water, ch. 7 (1932), in which querulousness and self-pity had marked Blair Eggleston for their own.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

Hell hath no fury like a mild and peace-loving man who has at last decided to give battle… (p. 277)

We expect Wodehouse to continue, with Congreve [The Mourning Bride (1697)], “like a woman scorned”; reversing the sense of the quotation in midstream is a very effective way for Wodehouse to let us know that something unexpected is about to happen.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

king of France…no mere revolt but a revolution (p. 278)

A reference to the duke de la Rochefoucauld (1747–1827), who, when King Louis XVI exclaimed that the fall of the Bastille in 1789 was a revolt, replied, “Non, sire, c’est une révolution.” In Mike (serialized as Jackson Junior, ch. 10, 1907), Mr. Spence quotes Rochefoucauld in English to Mr. Appleby on the occasion of the Great Picnic.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

holding her with a glittering eye (p. 278)

Like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner; see The Luck of the Bodkins.

“But Sinclair,” protested Mrs. Hammond (p. 278)

Unusually, the magazine serials have a longer version of the passage at this point. Words in red are omitted in the book editions:

“…Do I make myself clear?”
“In one moment,” said Mr. Hammond suavely, but still with that unholy glitter in his benevolent eyes. “I asked you the simple question—do I make myself clear?”

“But, Sinclair,” protested Mrs. Hammond, and there was an awe-struck note of appeal in her voice, “you can’t take Felicia out to dinner!
“Watch me!” said Mr. Hammond.
George is coming to dinner!”

white waistcoat (p. 279)

In other words, full evening dress, more commonly abbreviated “white tie”: what Bertie would call the soup-and-fish. See Heavy Weather.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

hoisting the skull and cross-bones (p. 279)

Raising the pirate flag.

cold shower (p. 279)

See A Damsel in Distress for some among many in Wodehouse who like cold showers, or at least their reputed effects; Sinclair here seems a little more dubious about enjoying one.

where I can throw bread at people (p. 280)

In Wodehouse’s explanation to US readers of “The Knuts o’ London” he notes of this dude of the day:

His chief forms of relaxation are dancing and bread-throwing. The only time a Nut really sits up and begins to display animation is when a hard roll, thrown by a friend across the table, takes him in the eye, and he reaches out for another to throw back.

Of course the apotheosis of this occurs at the Drones Club:

”Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright once hit the game pie from the far window six times with six consecutive rolls.”

The Code of the Woosters, ch. 2 (1938)

a certain gravity (p. 280)

Following this phrase, both serials continue “Would it be indiscreet to ask with whom?” The Grand serial finishes Mr. Hammond’s paragraph at that point. The SEP continues “And I hope you appreciate the fact that I am the only man in Wimbledon who wouldn’t have said, ‘Who with?’ ”; it finishes with “Who took you to Mario’s, Flickie?” as in the book editions.

Rocketting (p. 280)

In other words, suddenly taking off into flight with a noisy flapping of wings, as some game birds such as pheasants do. Dating from the 1860s, and derived from the sound and action of firework skyrockets, which had already been known for centuries.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

Lanson (p. 281)

A French champagne producer, headquartered in Reims, tracing its roots back to 1760 and organized as Lanson et Cie in 1837. It has been appointed a supplier of champagne to the British royal family since the late 19th century. This is the only mention of it so far found in Wodehouse. Even the SEP serial calls the champagne by name, departing from that magazine’s usual editorial policy of omitting specific references to brand names.

a man may smile and smile, and be a villain (p. 281)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

those parties in New York of which Judson Coker had been the life and soul (p. 281)

The phrase “life and soul of the party” is too common in Wodehouse and in English generally and too well understood to need an explicit definition, I hope. Norman Murphy, in A Wodehouse Handbook, noted its prevalence in ads for confidence-building correspondence courses, but it is far older than that; Charlotte Brontë used it in Jane Eyre (1847) and Google Books finds it in Letters from the Living to the Living, from 1703.

Wodehouse, as is typical, made humorous alterations to the phrase, as in Laughing Gas.

a good scout (p. 281)

Slang, an affectionate term for one who gets along well with others or contributes to a group effort, though the original meaning of “scout” as one who does reconnaissance or gains information for an army is only vestigially present in the slang phrase. OED cites first a US usage of “good old scout” from 1912 and next cites Wodehouse’s application of it to a pet snake:

“You’ll never be lonely with Peter around. He’s a great scout. Always merry and bright.”

“Dear Old Squiffy” (1920; in Indiscretions of Archie, 1921)

[Omitted in Grand serial.]

by an impartial critic (p. 281)

The SEP serial reads “by any impartial critic”; the Grand serial omits this passage.

The balcony, to which are banished those who visit Mario’s without dressing (p. 283)

N.T.P. Murphy, in A Wodehouse Handbook, vol. 1, identifies Mario’s with the real-life Café de Paris on the basis that it also had a balcony for those who neglected to come in full evening dress (white tie and tails for the men). This point also is made in Summer Lightning, ch. 4 §3, when Ronnie Fish arrives in a flannel suit looking for Hugo Carmody and Sue Brown.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

ninety-nine per cent pure (p. 283)

Probably an allusion to “99 44/100% pure,” a slogan for Ivory Soap, used by Procter and Gamble since 1895. Sinclair is viewing the stylish, sophisticated revelers on the dance floor with the conservative standards expressed in some of the notes for p. 284.

“Want to know about that?” said Miss Stryker amiably. (p. 284)

The SEP serial has only her spoken words, omitting “said Miss Stryker amiably.” The Grand serial omits the whole conversation.

“Places like this are the outward and visible signs of the inward and spiritual change that has taken place in the life of the English family.” (p. 284)

The Church of England catechism defines a sacrament, such as baptism, as “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.”
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

“Twenty years ago, I would have spent the concluding hours of the Sabbath surrounded by my loved ones beneath my own roof-tree.” (p. 284)

Christian tradition has adopted “Sabbath” (the seventh day of the week in the Hebrew calendar, holy to God) to refer to Sunday, the Lord’s day in Christian observance. For roof-tree, see Right Ho, Jeeves.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

Sunday…supper (p. 284)

“Already the fatted blanc-mange has been killed, and the table creaks beneath what’s left of the mid-day beef.”

Psmith anticipating supper at Mr. Waller’s, in Psmith in the City (serial as The New Fold, ch. 17, 1909)

“…do you realize that a family like that has cold beef, baked potatoes, pickles, salad, blanc mange and some sort of cheese every Sunday night after divine service?”

Ukridge, about the Price family in “No Wedding Bells for Him (1923)

[Reference omitted in Grand serial.]

“…you are probably right.” (p. 286)

Once again, both magazine serials have a longer version of the passage. Words in red are omitted in the book editions:

“If you mean that you would have twisted me round your finger even more easily than you do at present, you are probably right. But you keep interrupting when you should be listening in silence, brushing away a tear from time to time. Harking back once more, I say I am a moth-eaten old relic with practically nothing to live for except to see you happy; and I don’t mind owning that I’ve been a good deal worried about you, my Flickie. I want to see you doing the right thing, and I’ve come to the conclusion that your marrying young Roderick will be the right thing. I’ve made a point of seeing something of him lately, and I like him.”
“I like him too. I like him very much,” said Flick warmly.
“The great point in favor of this Roderick idea is that it is sensible, and the older I get the more I feel that you can’t beat the sensible thing. Marry Roderick, my child, and may an uncle’s blessing be your reward.
The mere fact that he will eventually inherit several million pounds gives him a great glamour in my eyes.”

poverty is the banana-skin on the doorstep of romance (p. 286)

This maxim also appears in Bolton and Wodehouse’s libretto for the musical comedy Sitting Pretty (1924; see last paragraph under eugenics above). Mortimer Bayliss repeats it to Augustus Keggs in Something Fishy/The Butler Did It, ch. 4 (1957).
[In the Grand serial, Romance is capitalized.]

“Weird creatures,” said Mr. Hammond, puffing comfortably. (p. 287)

In the SEP serial only, the paragraph continues as Hammond goes on to say:

“Ages ago, though you may not believe it, I used to be one of them myself. Yes, I, your respectable uncle, loved and admired by all Wimbledon, frequently cavorted as a young man at the ancient equivalents of this place. It used to be Jimmy’s in those days, and Covent Garden. You probably expected me to say Cremorne; but no, that was before even my time.”

Jimmy’s was a colloquial name for the St. James’s Restaurant at Piccadilly and Regent Street, London, described as a haunt of the gilded youth around the turn of the century, also “spoken of round the camp fires” in the Boer War. For Covent Garden, see The Inimitable Jeeves. The Cremorne Gardens were a pleasure ground in Chelsea on the north bank of the Thames, flourishing from 1845 to 1877, featuring dining, dancing, concerts, and spectacles such as fireworks and balloon ascents.

Constancy is a shy plant that blooms only in the sunshine of middle age. (p. 287)

This maxim seems equally worthy of reusing, but Google searches do not find even partial phrases from this.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

the little muscles working about her mouth (p. 287)

The SEP serial omits this phrase.

patted her hand paternally (p. 288)

The SEP serial omits the last word of this phrase.

Chapter 18
Black Monday

white man’s burden (p. 289)

A reference to Kipling’s poem of 1899, which, despite a superficially ethnocentric and colonialist posture, at least stresses the responsibility of the inheritors of Western culture to work hard and sacrifice in order to share the best blessings of that heritage with other peoples rather than exploiting them.
[The whole sentence is omitted in both magazine serials.]

Everything seemed to him for the best in the best of all possible worlds. (p. 289)

See Something Fresh.

morning papers heaped beside his plate (p. 289)

The Grand serial omits the whole sentence containing this. The SEP serial omits only the word “heaped” in this sentence, but then omits the entire following paragraph, beginning “Most men…”

Bijou Theatre (p. 289)

A London theater, built in 1863 at what was then 21 Archer Street, Bayswater (presently 291 Westbourne Grove); renamed the Bijou in 1866, renovated in 1893, used as a cinema in the 1910s, but apparently returned to stage shows after the Great War. Renovated and renamed the Century Theatre in 1923. See this detailed history, and a notice in The Era, 22 August 1923, p. 19.
[Spelled Theater in SEP serial.]

Wodehouse seems to have referred only this once to the London theater of that name; he mentions the “new” New York Bijou Theatre once in a Vanity Fair review; it was built in 1917 at 209 W. 45th Street and demolished in 1982.

Philosopher’s Stone (p. 290)

The mythical goal of the alchemists, a substance with the power to turn other materials into gold; reputed also by some to have the power to cure any illness and to ward off death.

He leaned back with the benign air of the Alchemist who has just imparted to a favorite disciple the recently discovered secret of the philosopher’s stone.

“The Episode of the Financial Napoleon” (1916, No. 2 in A Man of Means series)

Like an alchemist on the track of the Philosopher’s Stone, he was for ever seeking for something which would really give him confidence.

“The Magic Plus Fours” (1922)

running forever in the provinces (p. 290)

Even though Britain does not have administrative units called provinces as does Canada, for example, there is a long-standing usage of “the provinces” to mean the areas outside the capital city, often considered less cultured or less critical in their tastes. (The adjective “provincial” has some of this same sense.) In theatrical parlance, referring to the theatres in smaller cities and towns through which stage productions would tour after finishing their London runs.

“But my experience has been that what pleases the London public is not always so acceptable to the rural mind. The metropolitan touch sometimes proves a trifle too exotic for the provinces.”

Jeeves to Bertie, in “The Metropolitan Touch” (1922)

smoked a leisurely cigar (p. 290)

Another transferred epithet; see above.

Damocles sword (p. 290)

See The Code of the Woosters.

on velvet (p. 290)

Advantageously placed; in a condition of luxury or prosperity.

“Well, then, dash it, I’m on velvet. Absolutely reclining on the good old plush! I may be down a hundred quid, but I’m up a jolly good string of pearls.”

“Aunt Agatha Takes the Count” (1922; as “Pearls Mean Tears” in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923)

“I couldn’t be more on velvet if they gave me a sack and a shovel and let me loose in the Mint.”

“The Exit of Battling Billson” (1923)


He was, to all appearances, absolutely on plush.

“Jeeves and the Old School Chum” (1930; in Very Good, Jeeves)

He curveted into the private office. (p. 290)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

Bill had come early and intended to stay late (p. 291)

This sentence and the paragraph break following it are omitted in the SEP serial.

ebullient chumminess (p. 291)

Simplified to “ebullience” in the SEP serial.

the proffered corona (p. 291)

One of the best-known styles of quality cigars, the corona is straight-sided (cylindrical rather than tapered), with a rounded head and an open foot, about five and a half inches long. Corona is capitalized in the Grand serial as if it were a brand name or trademark at the time, and the simple word “cigar” is substituted in the SEP serial.

Charley’s Aunt (p. 291)

This 1892 farce by Brandon Thomas had a record-breaking London initial run of 1,466 performances, and has remained a valuable property in stage revivals ever since, and in silent and sound films and stage and film musical adaptations based on it. The title character is a young aristocratic Oxford student, Lord Fancourt Babberley, who is persuaded to impersonate another student’s aunt, a rich widow from Brazil, to serve as a needed chaperone since the real aunt’s arrival has been delayed. Many famous actors and comedians have essayed this cross-dressing role, from the originator, W. S. Penley, to John Mills, Frankie Howerd, Sydney Chaplin, Charles Ruggles, Jack Benny, Tom Courtenay, José Ferrer, Roddy McDowall, Griff Rhys Jones, Raúl Juliá, and (in the musical Where’s Charley) Ray Bolger.

Nannie Bruce, a tall, gangling light-heavyweight with a suggestion in her appearance of a private in the Grenadiers dressed up to play the title role in Charley’s Aunt, was one of those doggedly faithful retainers who adhere to almost all old families like barnacles to the hulls of ships.

Cocktail Time, ch. 8 (1958)

I was reminded of the time when we did Charley’s Aunt at the Market Snodsbury Town Hall in aid of the local church organ fund and half-way through the second act, just when we were all giving of our best, Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright, who was playing Lord Fancourt Babberley, left the stage abruptly to attend to an unforeseen nose bleed.

Jeeves in the Offing (How Right You Are, Jeeves), ch. 15 (1960)

“He comes from Brazil, I hear.”
“Yes, like Charley’s Aunt.”

Service with a Smile, ch. 3 §2 (1961)

one scene where the fellow loses his trousers (p. 292)

Wodehouse apparently had an appreciation for the comic appeal of this situation; see the notes to Sam the Sudden for a partial list of his characters who are debagged or otherwise deprived of covering for the lower limbs.

“Your narrative interests me strangely!” (p. 292)

See Money in the Bank.

second mate of a tramp steamer (p. 293)

See above.

one of Ethel M. Dell’s more virile heroes (p. 293)

For instance, Nick Ratcliffe in her first novel, The Way of an Eagle (1911):

Light-footed and fearless, he passed through the midst of his enemies, marching with the sublime audacity of the dominant race, despising caution—yea, grinning triumphant in the very face of Death.

See The Inimitable Jeeves for a possible link between Dell and Rosie M. Banks.

mere babble from the sick-bed (p. 294)

“Jeeves,” I said sternly, “pull yourself together. This is mere babble from the sick-bed.”

“Without the Option” (1925)

“sounded to me like delirium straight from the sick bed”

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

For the first time her demeanor conveyed the impression that she wasn’t labeling my utterances as just delirious babble from the sickbed.

Bertie speaking of Aunt Dahlia in “Jeeves and the Greasy Bird” (as rewritten for Plum Pie, 1966)

The necessity of stopping dazedly at intervals… (p. 295)

The SEP serial inserts “walking slowly and” before “stopping”; the Grand serial omits the passage.

Crushed, defiant, free or in broad arrows (p. 295)

British convict clothing was marked with a pattern of broad arrows, rather than the stripes used in American prison garb. The emblem symbolized a barbed arrowhead and was also used as a mark to denote items which belonged to the government.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

Chapter 19
Bill Trespasses

an inspired letter, probably dictated word for word, with all the commas and full-stops complete (p. 298)

Here “inspired” does not have its typical modern meaning of “full of artistic or poetic expression and spirit” but an older sense, more akin to the literal roots of the word, of having been “breathed in” by an outside force. This is the sense in which religious persons believe that their scriptures were inspired by the spirit of God. “Full stop” is the traditional British term for the punctuation mark that Americans now call the period at the end of a sentence.

under the clock at Charing Cross (p. 299)

Described in Leave It to Psmith as:

that traditional rendezvous of Londoners, the spot under the clock at Charing Cross Station.

registry office (p. 299)

Wodehouse uses this term in two different ways: as an employment office for hiring servants, as in “Jeeves Takes Charge” (1916), and sometimes, as here, for what he more often names as a registrar’s office: see The Inimitable Jeeves.

Forget-Me-Not Novelettes (p. 299)

See A Damsel in Distress.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

“What Is Wrong With This Picture?” (p. 300)

See Uncle Dynamite.
[Omitted in Grand serial.]

“plug-ugly” (p. 302)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

sinister things were toward (p. 302)

See Leave It to Psmith.

a man of phlegmatic habit (p. 303)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

Bill could have given him fifty yards in the hundred (p. 303)

That is, Bill could have run a hundred yards in less time than Joe could run fifty. This is expressed in the terms of a handicap race; see The Inimitable Jeeves.

the spot where it was calculated to do most good (p. 303)

From the mention of a click, this must mean the jaw.

a night in the Bushes of Holly House (p. 304)

Both UK and US book editions capitalize Bushes here for some unknown reason; both magazine serials have the word in lower case, which seems better.

Judson’s speaking countenance (p. 305)

See above.

half a million a year (p. 304)

Both magazine serials read “a million a year” here.

Chapter 20
Sixpennyworth of Rice

From Putney to Sloane Square… (p. 307)

A quick and somewhat approximate guide to the locations mentioned:

red yellow and maroon omnibuses (p. 307)

The London General Omnibus Company had bought out its rivals by 1911, so this does not seem to be a reference to competing lines of buses in different colors, but (as the lack of separating commas might also suggest) apparently means buses which were mostly red but trimmed in yellow and maroon. See this image.

three o’clock editions of the evening papers (p. 307)

In these fledgling days of radio broadcasting (the BBC was not allowed at the time to give news bulletins before 7:00 p.m.) there was a wide demand for print news, and many newspapers revised their content and issued new editions every few hours during their morning or evening publishing hours.

St. Peter’s, Eaton Square (p. 307)

Designed in neoclassical style in 1824 by Henry Hakewell with a six-columned portico and a clock tower, rebuilt after an 1837 fire, this serves Church of England parishioners in Belgravia, London.

a marriage had been arranged and would shortly take place (p. 307)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

hoi polloi (p. 309)

Wodehouse had a classical education, so knew to use the Greek term for “the many” to mean the masses, the common people. Regrettably, in recent years some writers have begun to misuse this in the sense of “the upper crust”—perhaps thinking that anything described in a foreign language must be sophisticated? There is a technical redundancy in using “the” with the term, as hoi is the definite article in Greek, but this has been common and accepted usage in English for centuries.

a dented bowler hat (p. 309)

See Young Men in Spats. The SEP serial substitutes the US equivalent “derby hat” here; the Grand serial omits the passage.

“They always look pale,” said the man who knew, coldly. (p. 310)

The SEP serial alters this to “coldly said the man who knew.”

The idea of a man in a grey suit and minus a ticket being at a wedding of any importance offended all his finest feelings… (p. 310)

Attendees and participants at a wedding would normally be dressed in formal morning wear in a church in this wealthy neighborhood; when Uncle Sinclair comes out of the church (p. 315) he is described as morning-suited.
[The usher’s reaction quoted above is omitted in the Grand serial.]

when the bimbo Pyke arrived (p. 313)

See above. The Grand serial simply omits “the bimbo” here.

the bozo who pursued you in the car (p. 313)

See above. The Grand serial substitutes “old bean” for “bozo” this time.

Collar the cash (p. 314)

This sounds as if it were twentieth-century slang, but the OED cites a 1728 usage of “collar the cole” meaning “lay hold on the money.” [Cole is probably from German kohl for cabbage, and cabbage, lettuce, and other greens have been colloquially associated with money for a long time; compare “How are you fixed for lettuce, Hank?” in Wodehouse’s Company for Henry, ch. 5 (1967).]

leg it for foreign parts (p. 314)

See Leave It to Psmith.

tool off (p. 314)

The OED gives several nineteenth-century citations for “tool” in slang senses for traveling or going, but only one, from Punch in 1881, pairs it with “off.” Wodehouse is cited:

I borrowed a bicycle from one of the grooms and tooled off.

“The Great Sermon Handicap” (1922; in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923)

but an earlier usage has been found:

“Hence, we see my brother two terms ago, packing up his little box, and tooling off to Rugby.”

Clowes, in Jackson Junior (1907, later in Mike, 1909, and Mike at Wrykyn, 1953.)

Florence or Naples or one of those wop spots (p. 313)

Some of Wodehouse’s less tactful characters use this derogatory term for an Italian, common in American slang before colloquial terms for ethnic minorities fell out of general favor. The Grand serial simply omits “wop” here.

lallapaloosa (p. 314)

See Leave It to Psmith.

“he took some worms and slipped them a stiff bracer” (p. 315)

“ ‘No more alcohol for me,’ said Buffy. ‘Look what it does to the common earthworm.’ ‘But you’re not a common earthworm,’ I said, putting my finger on the flaw in his argument right away.”

Gally Threepwood in Summer Lightning, ch. 1 §2 (1929)

“Do you know what alcohol does to the common earthworm?”

Galahad at Blandings, ch. 8 §1 (1965)

the work of a moment (p. 316)

See A Damsel in Distress.

those old-fashioned shimmering motion-pictures (p. 316)

Recall that this is 1924, still firmly in the era of silent pictures! But it is true that cinematographers and projectionists had by then done much to reduce the notorious flicker of early films. Edison had recommended, and D. W. Griffith had adopted, a standard of sixteen frames per second, but other productions even in the ’teens were using higher rates. By the mid-1920s, MGM pictures were nearly all being shot at 22 fps and projected at 24 fps, according to Kevin Brownlow. This gave for smoother motion as well as a bit of liveliness—not the herky-jerky effect of bad film transfers shown in my youth, but an effect that still looks natural when these older films are properly projected in a theater.

“…you will probably find one along the street.” (p. 316)

In both magazine serials, Mr. Hammond continues: “This happens to be a private car.”

“My wife,” observed Mr. Hammond (p. 316)

Both magazine serials have a much longer passage, condensed in books to the first and last sentences of the following:

 “My wife,” observed Mr. Hammond in pleased recognition.
 Bill had not supposed that the flood of his appeal could be checked by any human power, but this bland remark brought him up with a turn. He gaped in a bewildered way at Mr. Hammond, as if aware for the first time of his presence.
 “Flick,” said Mr. Hammond genially, “you appear to know this gentleman with the performing dog—— Good gracious!” he broke off, surprised, as the Sealyham, after trying to climb through the roof, came down with outspread paws on the back of his neck and slithered thence to the floor. “Surely it’s Bob?” He scrutinized Bill once more. “The mystery thickens,” he said. “How do you come to be in possession of the Hammond family dog? And, if it is not a rude question, who in the name of goodness are you?”

“This is Bill West, Uncle Sinclair.” (p. 316)

Both magazine serials insert the following here:

 “Ah!” Mr. Hammond stretched out a polite hand. “How do you do? Are you making a long stay?”

“I can explain everything.” (p. 317)

Both magazine serials interrupt Bill’s long speech to insert the following here:

 “ ‘All’ is the more customary term,” murmured Mr. Hammond.

“…a stenographer or something.” (p. 317)

Both magazine serials insert the following here:

 “In the words of a song of the people that had a certain vogue in my youth, ‘What a day we’re having!’ ” said Mr. Hammond. “Flick,” he said, removing Bob’s tail from his mouth in order to speak the more clearly, “when you introduced this young man to me as Bill, did you use the name in its deepest and truest sense? In other words, is this the Bill–the brave preserver—the idol of the girlish dreams?”
 Flick nodded.

The U.S. Catalog of Copyright Entries for the last half of 1918 lists a song “Oh! what a day we’re having” by Victor Hammond and Charles Sefton, but that would hardly be of Sinclair’s youth. An 1875 review in The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News suggests that “ ‘What a day we’re having’ may be rather too well-worn a phrase for the veteran author to have recourse to whenever he was at a loss for a pun…” So a search on this phrase is probably not going to discover the song that Sinclair Hammond had in mind.

“the eminent Sir George Pyke,” (p. 318)

Both magazine serials insert “founder and proprietor of the Mammoth Publishing Company,” at this point.

Mr. Hammond shook him warmly by the hand. (p. 318)

Both magazine serials have a longer version of his speech, in a paragraph following the sentence above:

 “Say no more!” he said cordially. “The discussion is over. I esteem young men who chase Roderick about gardens, but for those who cause my brother-in-law George to fall into ponds I have a feeling that can only be called adoration. I wish you would look in oftener when he is around. Take him, Flickie! I could wish you no better husband! Why, good heavens, you can’t refuse to marry this splendid young fellow, any more than I can decline to give my blessing! It would be a crime against romance! A man who saved you from drowning, whose image you cherished in your heart through all those long, weary years—— Good gracious, no!” He took up the speaking tube. “Yates,” he said to the chauffeur, “do you know a good registry office? A place, I mean, where an enterprising young couple, aided and abetted by one old enough to know better, can get married in a hurry?” He turned to Flick and Bill. “He says he does not.”

11 Beaumont Street, Pimlico (p. 318)

The only Beaumont Street in central London is in Marylebone, not Pimlico. See Full Moon for another oddly-addressed registry office, also supposed to be in Beaumont Street.

“a trifle less tense.” (p. 318)

Both magazine serials have Sinclair Hammond continue speaking here:

“In any case, however, I come very well out of the affair. Your aunt sent me out today to give away the bride, and I am going to give you away. To the wrong bridegroom, true, but that is the sort of thing that might happen to anyone.”

Chapter 21
Astonishing Humility of an Uncle

Niobe, mourning for the loss of her children (p. 318)

See Sam the Sudden.

Mr. Paradene eyed him with a strange humility. (p. 320)

The SEP serial omits “a strange” here.

ten tutors with sawn-off shotguns (p. 322)

Both magazine serials omit “sawn-off” here. Some shotgun barrels were indeed shortened, others were manufactured with short barrels; they found military usage in close-quarters combat and confined spaces, and became popular with criminals, since they were easier to conceal than long-barreled guns. Since the 1930s, special permits have been required to own these legally.

Pierpont Morgan (p. 323)

See above.

Selfridge (p. 323)

See Ukridge.

Updated 2021-11-06, 2022-09-03, 2022-12-09, 2024-05-23 NM

Wodehouse’s writings are copyright © Trustees of the Wodehouse Estate in most countries;
material published prior to 1929 is in USA public domain, used here with permission of the Estate.
Our editorial commentary and other added material are copyright © 2012–2024