[by Laurence Wood, NOT by P. G. Wodehouse]*

Punch, December 6, 1905


[“Young ladies are the only people nowadays who have the courage of their opinions, and all the daring books are written by female pens.”—Lady Violet Greville.]

Nowadays, where can you find
Men who dare to speak their mind?
Only ladies who are young
Have a quick, courageous tongue.

Who, amongst the modern men,
Wields a ready, fearless pen?
Only maids of seventeen
Dare to scribble what they mean.

Literary maidens write
Daringly, with all their might,
And, presumably, intend
That our hair shall stand on end.

I have often thought of them,
Sitting round at nine a.m.,
And endeavouring to shock
Somebody, till one o’clock.

I can almost hear them laugh,
As they pen a paragraph
Full of wicked little bits
Guaranteed to give us fits.

Maidens, I believe you make
An excusable mistake.
You are very young and so
Cannot be supposed to know.

But the things that seem to you
Daring are not very new,
For the newest, I believe,
Is about as old as Eve.

If you ever make our eyes
Bulge a little with surprise,
It is when you illustrate
Maiden English up-to-date.

You unquestionably can
Startle the grammarian
In a way that puts to shame
Any man that I could name.

You accept no aged rules
From academies and schools.
Fearlessly you stand alone,
With a grammar of your own.


* Editor’s note:
This poem has been misquoted and misattributed. I have just revised it directly from a photocopy of the magazine, where it is unsigned. The index to Punch, vol. 129, attributes it to Laurence Wood, a published poet in his own right, and not a pseudonym for P. G. Wodehouse. Its erroneous appearance in McIlvaine’s Wodehouse bibliography has led many subsequent compilers astray. It is enjoyable on its own, so I am not deleting it here, but I see no evidence to attribute it to Wodehouse, who did not enter it into his account book of published works.