Daily Chronicle, January 21, 1904

[Conversation at Society dinner tables is said to deal now exclusively with diseases and cures.]

We used until the other day
 To talk on every kind of topic,
The latest book, the freshest play,
 The newest movement philanthropic:
We sometimes probed—it served our need—
 Some politician’s last oration—
Those were sufficient fuel to feed
 A desultory conversation.

But now we try another plan
 (I question if it’s an improvement):
A weather-dictum shows a man
 Beyond the pale, not in the movement.
We don’t discuss the latest play,
 Such trivial talk no longer pleases:
Our table-tattle turns to-day
 Exclusively upon diseases.

Entrancing theme! He never fails
 To shine in well-bred conversations,
Who thrills the company with tales
 Of interesting amputations,
Or woos them from a state of dumps
 With apt, exhilarating humour
Anent the lighter side of mumps,
 The inner quaintness of a tumour.

And yet, I own it with a sigh,
 Though, mark you, I am not complaining,
I pass each dish untasted by,
 My hunger curiously waning.
And when the ladies rise, I find,
 Feeling exceptionally odd, I
May possibly have fed the mind
 But not by any means the body.

P. G. W.