The Books of To-day and the Books of To-morrow, February 1906


FAREWELL to the hurry and bustle,
The speeches, the hecklings, and all,
The bracing delights of a tussle,
The posters on every wall:
Farewell to the rows, which were splendid,
Good-bye to the eggs which we cast.
The Gen’ral Election is ended 13
At last.

There isn’t a person who knows if
We gave in our votes for C.-B.,14
Or plumped for that warrior, Joseph,15
Who cries for a tax upon tea:
But Free Trader or Tariff Reformer,16
We all had our share of the fun;
And the contests, or peaceful or warmer,
Are done.

No more with a groan or a whistle
We hint that a speaker has erred,
Or use a dead cat as a missile
To prove that his views are absurd.
We don’t seize a ‘shop-’un’ 17 and shy it
As a prelude to joining the fray:
Eggs are merely a light form of diet

But years will roll by: and their rolling
Will bring us our pleasures anew,
The stir and the fight and the polling,
Opponents a fellow can boo.
May nothing occur to delay it,
No shifty political trick
Postpone that glad moment. Oh, may it
Come quick!



Printed unsigned; entered by Wodehouse in Money Received for Literary Work.



Following the resignation of the Unionist government in December 1905, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman succeeded in forming a minority government. He then called a General Election, which took place between 12 January and 8 February 1906, and in which his Liberal Party gained a large majority.


See The Phalanx.


Joseph Chamberlain had been a member of the Liberal Party but left to join the Liberal Unionist Party, a group of former Liberals who were opposed to W E Gladstone’s proposals for Irish Home Rule. He served as Colonial Secretary in Lord Salisbury’s Unionist Government, from 1895, and was one of the main advocates of military action against the Boers in South Africa.


Chamberlain resigned his position in the Unionist Government in September 1903 in order to be free to campaign for a policy of “Imperial Preference,” a tariff reform proposal that did not have the support of his Cabinet colleagues. The issue of tariff reform split the Unionists during the 1906 election, which the Liberal Party was able to fight from a unified position in favour of free trade. Two-thirds of those Unionists who retained their seats supported Chamberlain’s tariff policy, but they represented only a small minority in the new Parliament.


A “shop egg” is a bad or rotten egg which has been stored too long to be fresh. (The Gardeners’ Chronicle, January 25, 1902) [NM]