Vanity Fair (UK), September 29, 1904
[See attribution note on Vanity Fair menu page]

In the Stocks.

IT is pleasant to see that the modern boy is no whit less intelligent and resourceful than his father was before him. Every month over two hundred and fifty metal discs are found in the sweetmeat penny-in-the-slot machines in the Central Station, Newcastle.

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But British boys are not so ingenious as those of Bavaria. A Kallstadt youth, not wishing to go to school, had the happy idea of burning his school books. So he left them in the dining-room, and set fire to the house.

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People who want their hair cut at Bologna avoid the shop of Alfred Trombetti, barber. It has got about that he can talk four hundred different languages and dialects, and loves to discuss the weather in all of them.

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“I suppose my goods will be sold. So let it be,” observed the Rev. Joseph Hocking, on his first appearance in the rôle of passive resister. We imagine that the reverend author included his books among his goods. He would like them to be sold, too.

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[A recruit for the London Fire Brigade was rejected by Captain Hamilton, with the remark, “You are too stout, my man.”]

I should like to be a hero,
 I should like to fight the flames,
I could long to join the firemen
 In their philanthropic games,
I should love to wear a helmet,
 In the place of my top-hat—
 But I’m much too fat.

I can see myself, while thousands
 Cheered my efforts with a will,
Saving damsels from destruction
 On a fourth floor window-sill.
Any blaze, howe’er terrific,
 I could quench beyond a doubt—
 But I’m much too stout.

For the Fire Brigade wants workers
 Who are lean, and move with grace:
Any prodigy of Peckham
 They’d consider out of place.
My heart is of the stoutest,
 But I fear I shall not do—
 For I’m stout, too.

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Newlay, which is in Yorkshire, is not satisfied with that section of the River Aire which meanders past the town. “The smell of the river on Sunday night was so bad,” according to a member of the local Sanitary Committee, “that even the dogs bolted across the bridge as if they had been shot.” An Aire of this kind, though lively, is never likely to become popular.

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An American Peerage has been instituted. It was bound to come. “But,” says the report, “the promoters of the new American ‘Debrett’ are only human. To the many persons rejoicing in such names as Goldstein and Friedberger they turn a deaf ear.” These unfortunates, however, may—and do—find a refuge in the English “Debrett.”

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On September 10, 1902, the sister of a Parisian dancer was trodden on by an elephant. On September 10, 1903, her husband was attacked by a bear. On September 10, 1904, she herself was mauled by a lion. The animal which is to assault her brother-in-law on September 10, 1905, has not yet been selected.

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Whenever people reach the stage of quoting texts at one another, the astute looker-on prepares for trouble. Mr. Eugene Ware, Commissioner in the United States Bureau of Pensions, has decorated the door of his official reception-room with the words, “The Lord hates a liar.” The professional pension-seeker now prints on his visiting-card, “The Lord loveth a cheerful giver.” The next move is with Mr. Ware. He is said to be looking through his Commination Service.

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“Public dinners,” says a daily paper, “have been robbed of one of their greatest terrors.” To those who hoped that this meant that after-dinner speeches were going out of fashion, it will come as a disappointment to learn that the paragraph merely refers to an improvement in the system of flash-light photographs.

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Prophet Dowie has wired in his breezy way to a congress of faith-healers, “You are a meeting of charlatans and humbugs. The Lord detests humbugs, and I am commissioned to tell you so.” There is no greater authority on the subject.



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.




“THE LONDON FIRE BRIGADE. Greater care is being exercised in the selection of suitable men for the London Fire Brigade, and several who would have been engaged a year or two ago are now rejected as unfit. Only the other day a candidate who had passed the preliminary tests of strength, etc., was rejected by Captain Hamilton with the remark, “You are too stout for a fireman. As a matter of fact I am too stout myself.” The candidate resented the assertion and told the chief officer he was capable of jumping over the head of any man then in the drill class.” (Aberdeen Journal, September 24, 1904)


John Dawson    


At Kallstadt, Bavaria, a six-year-old boy set fire to his parents’ house “in order,” he afterwards confessed, “to burn his schoolbooks, as he did not want to go to school.” (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, September 20, 1904)

Alfred Trombetti, of Bologna, has risen from the position of a barber to the possession of an international reputation as the world’s greatest linguist. He has completely mastered 400 different languages and dialects. (Evening Telegraph, September 20, 1904)

REV. JOSEPH HOCKING SUMMONED. Among the number of passive resisters summoned at Walthamstow, to-day, was the Rev. Joseph Hocking, of Woodford Union Church, who did not appear, but a letter was read from him in which he said he had declined to pay the sectarian rate. (Nottingham Evening Post, September 22, 1904) At this time in British politics, Passive Resisters referred to religious Nonconformists opposed to paying taxes on the grounds that a portion of the tax went to support denominational (i.e. Church of England) religious teaching in publicly-supported schools.

A terrible scene took place at Enghien yesterday, says a Paris telegram, whan La Goulue, the once notorious dance, was attacked by a lion. (Lancashire Evening Post, September 12, 1904)

Mr Eugene Ware, Commissioner in the United States Bureau of Pensions, whose administration has been noted for its originality, has decorated the door of his official reception room with a sign in large letters reading, “The Lord hates a liar.“ (Edinburgh Evening News, September 22, 1904)

DOWIE ON THE WARPATH. The annual convention of faith healers was opened last night [September 20] at the Mount Zion Sanctuary, Jersey City....The “prophet” Dowie has sent [a] telegram to the leaders of the congress:— (Dundee Courier, September 23, 1904)


Neil Midkiff