The Books of To-day and the Books of To-morrow, February 1904


1.   THE amount of mud in the Strand at 8 a.m. is three million gallons and one pint. Of this the coats of pedestrians absorb one-third, their collars two-sevenths of what does not adhere to their hats, and three-fifths of the remainder is swept into the gutter. Will there be enough left at 11.30 p.m. to go round the people coming out of the theatres, assuming that only one in every ten wants a second helping?


2.   A MOTOR-CAR, incapable (according to its owner) of running at more than ten miles an hour, starts from Brighton at four in the afternoon and arrives in London at four-fifteen. 1 How does the chauffeur account for this at the subsequent proceedings, and the owner’s income being sixteen thousand a year, what damages will be granted to the proprietor of the fowl which the car overtook at Purley?


3.   PETER is given a bag of apples to divide between Paul, Edward, John, Arthur, and himself. He is told to give to Paul a number equal to one-third of the combined ages of Edward and Arthur, and to John a number equal to the combined ages of Paul and Edward. He does not know their ages, and is bad at figures. How long will it be before he has a headache?


4.   TWO years ago President Roosevelt said that something would have to be done about the Trusts. Last year he said that something would really have to be done about the Trusts. 2 When will something ‘certainly’ have to be done?


5.   ACCORDING to Sir Thomas Lipton, 3 the defeat of his yachts is due to the superior ability of the American designer. 4 Taking this gentleman’s age at fifty, and assuming that he comes of a long-lived family, estimate the chances of Shamrock XCVIIb.



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



The distance from Brighton to London is approximately 54 miles. If the owner is to be believed, his chauffeur would not have arrived in London earlier than about 9.30 PM.



Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) became the twenty-sixth President of the United States following the assassination of President William McKinley on 14 September 1901. In his first message to Congress, on 3 December 1901, Roosevelt stated: “There is a widespread conviction in the minds of the American people that the great corporations known as trusts are in certain of their features and tendencies hurtful to the general welfare. . . The first essential in determining how to deal with [them] is knowledge of the facts—publicity. . . Publicity is the only sure remedy which we can now invoke.” A year later, on 2 December 1902, he stated: “In my Message [last year] I discussed . . . the regulation of those big corporations . . . which are popularly known as trusts. The experience of the past year has emphasized, in my opinion, the desirability of the steps I then proposed.” A year later, on 7 December 1903, his message was that “a common-sense and successful effort was made in the direction of seeing that corporations are so handled as to subserve the public good. The legislation was moderate.” This approach led to criticisms, especially from progressive Republicans and the American Anti-Trust League, that it was “words not backed up by deeds.”

Wodehouse treated Roosevelt’s pronouncements about the “trusts” as a running joke, especially in his “By the Way” columns for The Globe newspaper and in “Our Rapid Calendar” in The Globe By the Way Book.



Sir Thomas Lipton (1848–1931) was a self-made businessman—the Lipton Tea brand that he established is still in existence—and a keen yachtsman. In 1899, Lipton’s yacht Shamrock was the challenger for the America’s Cup, losing in three straight races to the defending American yacht Columbia. Lipton mounted another challenge in 1901, with a new yacht, Shamrock II, which was again beaten by Columbia. A third challenge followed in 1903, with Shamrock III; this time, the defending yacht was Reliance, which, having defeated Columbia for the right to defend the trophy, went on to beat the challenger. Lipton made two further unsuccessful challenges, in 1920 (with Shamrock IV) and 1930 (with Shamrock V), and was preparing for a sixth challenge when he died.



The American designer was Nathanael Herreshoff (1848–1938), a naval architect-engineer from Bristol, Rhode Island. Between 1893 and 1920, he designed all the America’s Cup winning boats; he was the helmsman aboard the 1893 winner. Herreshoff and his brother founded a boat-building company that built yachts for most of America’s sailing elite, including William Randolph Hearst, John Pierpont Morgan, and several of the Vanderbilt family; the company also created the first torpedo boats for the US Navy.

After his loss in the 1903 America’s Cup, Sir Thomas Lipton was quoted as saying: “They tell me I have a beautiful boat. I don’t want a beautiful boat. What I want is a boat to lift the Cup—a Reliance. Give me a homely boat, the homeliest boat that was ever designed, if she is as fast as Reliance.”