Vanity Fair (UK), September 22, 1904
[See attribution note on Vanity Fair menu page]

In the Stocks.

WHEN the Thibetan prisoners were informed that they were at liberty, they “put out their tongues.” Probably they reflected that while liberty was so much in the air they might as well take one.

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There are more troubles in store for the smoker. The growth of Irish tobacco has exceeded all expectations.

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The business instinct of the American is notorious. He loves to drive a bargain. “Who gives this woman—” began the clergyman, the other day, at a wedding at Inwood, Far Rockaway. A raucous voice interrupted him. “I do,” said the bride’s father; “only I don’t unless I’m allowed to marry the bridegroom’s sister. See? That’s me. Yes, sir.” They argued with him. They pointed out that he was forty years older than the lady, who, moreover, was not fond of him. But he was not to be persuaded. The bridegroom was obliged to give his content. And, business-like to the last, his father-in-law insisted on having it in writing. After that the wedding went on.

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(An Australian paper complains that writers of sensational fiction are too much in the habit of shipping their villains to Australia in the last chapter.)

When you’re tired of being wicked in a novel,
 When the charm of horrid deeds begin to pall,
When you’re, so to speak, fed up with an existence
 Which isn’t beer and skittles, after all,
When you’ve plundered all the widows and the orphans
 Till you feel that you can plunder them no more,
You may find a happy, peaceful little haven
 On the far Australian shore.

When the heroine, in spite of your exertions,
 Has been wedded to the hero, whom you hate,
When you’re harried by importunate detectives,
 What profit can you look for if you wait?
Go somewhere where there’s room for honest workers,
 Seek climes where there are happier days in store:
There’s a home for superannuated villains
 On the far Australian shore.

Pack your pistols and your knife in your portmanteau,
 Take your favourite knuckle-duster in your hand,
Slip a little prussic acid in your pocket,
 And quit this unappreciative land.
Though you’re baffled by the author every chapter,
 Till at last the thing begins to be a bore.
Keep a firm, courageous heart, you may make another start
 On the far Australian shore.

•   •   •   •   •

The fact that the British policeman loses almost his entire stock of dignity when he does not wear the regulation boots sometimes leads to embarrassing results. “My client,” said a solicitor at Brentford, “sent for a policeman, who promised to come directly he had his boots on. When he had put them on the assault was all over.” That is the worst of being a dressy man. You miss such a lot of amusement.

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“The horrible roughness of the Bay of Biscay,” says an evening paper, “is very largely only imagination.” But it gets in its fell work just the same.

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A Paris parrot has just been convicted of swallowing an expensive diamond. This is the sort of bird whose food will cost him more, if he is not careful.




Printed unsigned in Vanity Fair; entered by Wodehouse as “In the Stocks” for this date in Money Received for Literary Work. It is possible that not all individual items are by Wodehouse.


Irish tobacco
: “ the growing of tobacco in Ireland, he declared was all humbug. Irish tobacco, he added, had no taste.” (Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, July 11, 1904)

Brentford policeman and boots: (Falkirk Herald, September 21, 1904)

A Parisian diamond merchant who complained of frequent robberies was advised to kill his parrot. The missing gems were found in its crop. (Aberdeen Journal, September 16, 1904) The “your food will cost you more” reference is to the Parrot poems in the Daily Express; see the Parrot Poems page.

Neil Midkiff