Daily Chronicle, March 18, 1904
[One Virgile Marry, of Paris, attacked a stranger with a knife because he considered it “an unfriendly act for a man with such a face to go about the streets.”]
I am not one whose form and face
Are miracles of manly grace:
A Ouida guardsman, I admit,
Does not resemble me a bit.
But when through London’s streets I go,
Do passers-by attack me? No.
Pedestrians meet me in the Strand,
Yet every one withholds his hand.
However much my face offends,
They murmur softly to their friends
“ ’Twere better to eschew assault:
It may not be the fellow’s fault.”
But mark the stern Parisian:
He acts upon a different plan.
Should he, when on the boulevard, spy
An unattractive passer-by,
He hastens to attempt his life
By driving at him with a knife.
This summer I had meant to go
To Paris for a week or so.
I rather think I’d better tarry
Till death removes fastidious Marry.
* * * *
At Herne, its fascinating bay,
I’ll spend my annual holiday.
P. G. W.
form and face: When PGW’s original 1918 lyric for the song “Bill,” dropped from Oh, Lady! Lady!!, was revised for Show Boat in 1927, “form and face” was again rhymed with “manly grace” in the added lines usually credited to Oscar Hammerstein II. Coincidence? Or evidence of an intermediate Wodehouse version with this rhyme (taking place at an unchanged part of the melody), which was later amended by Hammerstein only where Jerome Kern added new notes? See Barry Day’s The Complete Lyrics of P. G. Wodehouse for more about the changes.
Ouida: pseudonym of Maria Louise Ramé (1839–1908), British author of popular novels of romance and adventure