Vanity Fair (UK), January 26, 1905

(Dr. Hollander, the nerve specialist, says that the only way to lead a decent life is to give up meat, and take to vegetarian food. An excellent dish, he adds, is maize mush.)

IF to live a life that’s good is your intention,
   If you wish to start in business as a saint,
There’s a recipe which I should like to mention,
   More marvellous and sure than words can paint.
It’s a food—there’s nothing in it that can hurt you:
   It simply squashes every kind of sin;
Every mouthful means another blob of virtue,
   It improves you while you’re shovelling it in.

It’s mush! maize mush!
   Every wicked sort of feeling it will crush.
      If you’re auxious to be holy,
      Knock off steak and roly-poly,
And come and plump for Purity and mush, much mush,
   Oh, never feed on anything but mush.

If a burglar never tackled beef or mutton,
   But took the food I’ve spoken of instead,
He’d scorn to steal a solitary button;
   And at night you’d find him sleeping in his bed.
The Anarchist would lay aside his weapons,
   If he only knew the finest thing to eat,
(You can get a very decent lot for threepence,
   Which is less than you would squander on your meat).

   Oh, mush! maize mush, &c.

Ye criminals of every class and nation,
   If your habits (which are beastly) you would drop,
I give you all a cordial invitation
   To join me at my vegetarian shop.
If you want to give up living in a manner
   At which a festive Hottentot would blush,
Come, rally round my enterprising banner,
   And make a really heavy meal of mush.

Try mush! maize mush!
   See the penitent and hungry, how they rush!
      For a luncheon and a dinner
      Will convert the toughest sinner,
If he doesn’t order anything but mush, mush, mush;
   If he only feeds exclusively on mush.

P. G. Wodehouse.



Note: The unusual meter of the refrain leads me to conclude that this may well be a parody of a musical-comedy song lyric. It almost goes with, but does not quite fit, the song “Tact” from Florodora by Leslie Stuart and Paul Rubens. Let me know if a better source comes to mind. —Neil Midkiff