The Books of To-day and the Books of To-morrow, January 1907
These letters, on the subject of the Zancigs’ performances, were
probably intended for the ‘Daily Mail,’ but we publish them.
Sir.—The Zancigs, I believe, claim to be able to read the mind. They are not alone in this accomplishment. The other day I happened to tread inadvertently upon the toe of our curate. I am a heavy man, and Mr. Barlam suffers from corns. He made no comment, but I chanced to catch his eye at the moment, and something seemed to tell me just what it was he wanted to say.
Sir.—While on duty in Palace Yard during one of the recent Suffragette disturbances, a woman rushed towards me with a hat-pin. She said nothing, but somehow it was borne in upon me in a flash that her intentions were unfriendly.
13 X A.1. (in hospital).
Sir.—Ordinarily my powers of mind-reading are not large, but on Boxing Day for some reason I became wonderfully intuitive. Several men, including the postman, the butcher’s boy, and a telegraph boy, called upon me, and, though none of them did more than smile and touch their hats, I read their thoughts immediately.
Sir.—The other night I found that I, too, was gifted in much the same manner as the Zancigs. I am an actor—my friends tell me, a very fine actor. On the night to which I refer I was interpreting the role of Hamlet, when suddenly, as I was in the middle of the Danish Prince’s great speech it was as though some telepathic communication had been established between my brain and those of my audience. I knew, I say I knew, that they did not like my acting.
P.S.—Only three hit me.
Sir.—I am ten years old. My brother Bob is thirteen. As a rule he gives me a pretty hot time: but yesterday afternoon, as I was sitting reading in the dining-room, he came up to me and, putting a hand on my shoulder, said, ‘Hullo, old chap. What are you reading? Anything good?’ At that moment I had a curious feeling of certainty that father had said that he wanted something fetched from upstairs.
Sir.—It is four and a half years since I moved in Society to any great extent, as I have been down in Devonshire for a protracted period, and the news of the day takes some time reaching me. I have only just heard of Mr. and Mrs. Zancig, and I write to say that I anticipated their methods by four and a half years. That so long ago as that I was climbing out of a window one night carrying a sack full of silver, when I noticed a policeman watching me. I said, ‘Good evening, constable. I am doing this for a bet.’ At the same time some inward voice seemed to tell me that he did not believe me. Later, I found that I was right.
W. Sykes (Dartmoor).
Sir.—Though not a great conversationalist, I am exceptionally intelligent, and : I see now : abnormally so, for I have the power at times of reading what is in people’s minds. The other day I was calling on a lady of my acquaintance, when, after I had been there an hour and a half, I observed her look hastily at the clock once or twice and yawn slightly. Instantly, or fairly instantly, it flashed across my mind that she was wishing that I would go.
Sir.—I am rather a clumsy man, and last night, while dining out, I happened quite unintentionally to jerk my soup into my hostess’ lap. She protested that it did not matter, but I was conscious all the time of a curious feeling that she was not speaking the truth.
Printed unsigned; entered by Wodehouse in Money Received for Literary Work with the note
“I wrote this under H. Westbrook’s name & divided the gnas. Clever work. PGW”
He usually got two guineas per item, regularly submitting two items per month, but entered £1·1 for this one, the third submission in January 1907. Art (in the form of Not George Washington) would soon imitate life in this respect, as in the book (co-written with Westbrook) James Cloyster submits his work to publications under an array of names and divides the earnings with his “ghosts,” the owners of those names.