Wodehouse Quotations


It is a good rule in life never to apologize. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them.

When Epstcin, the agent, wrote to say that the allegory had been purchased by a Glasgow plutocrat of the name of Bates for one hundred and sixty guineas, Sellers' views on Philistines and their crass materialism and lack of taste underwent a marked modification. He spoke with some friendliness of the man Bates.


' Heavens, then what are you worrying about ? The thing's a cert. A man with a name like Grusczinsky could sell a dozen editions by himself. Helped and inspired by Buchterkirch, he will make the waltz the talk of the country. Infants will croon it in their cots.'

Even Sellers forgot his own triumphs long enough to allow him to offer affable congratulations. And money came rolling in, smoothing the path of life.

Those were great days. There was a hat... Life, in short, was very full and splendid. There was, indeed, but one thing which kept it from being perfect. The usual drawback to success is that it annoys one's friends so; but in Annette's case this drawback was absent.


Plainly he had now come to regard Annette as a legitimate confidante. She was listening. That was the main point.

'I know a good deal more than your name. You are a Glasgow millionaire.'

;-) ;-)

' Annette stiffened from head to foot. He met her blazing eyes with a look of quiet devotion.


'Listen I' he said. 'Sit down and I will tell you the story of my life. We'll skip the first twenty-eight years and three months, merely mentioning that for the greater part of that time I was looking for somebody just like you.

/Something to worry about/

A second, however, compelled attention by bursting like a shell on the back of his neck. He looked up, startled. Nobody was in sight. He was puzzled. It could hardly be raining mud. Yet the alternative theory, that someone in the next garden was throwing it, was hardly less bizarre.


As he stood wondering whether he should go to the fence and look over, or simply accept the phenomenon as one of those things which no fellow can understand, there popped up before him the head and shoulders of a girl.

;-) gs!

She was a pretty girl, small and trim. Tom was by way of being the strong, silent man with a career to think of and no time for bothering about girls, but he saw that. There was, moreover, a certain alertness in her expression rarely found in the feminine population of Millbourne, who were apt to be slightly bovine.

Tom was a slow-minded young man, who liked to have his thoughts well under control before he spoke. He was not one of your gay rattlers.

Tom considered this point also. Rarely, if ever, had he been given so many things to think about in one morning.


That was the trouble. Her beauty was not of that elusive type which steals imperceptibly into the vision of the rare connoisseur. It was sudden and compelling. It hit you. Bright brown eyes beneath a mass of fair hair, a determined little chin, a slim figure -these arc disturbing things; and the youths of peaceful Mill-bourne sat up and took notice as one youth. Throw your mind back to the last musical comedy you saw. Recall the leading lady's song with chorus of young men, all proffering devotion simultaneously in a neat row. Well, that was how the lads of the village comported themselves towards Sally.


The youths of Melbourne were sturdy and honest. They were the backbone of England. England, in her hour of need, could have called upon them with the comfortable certainty that, unless they happened to be otherwise engaged, they would leap to her aid.


Love is like that. It invariably comes just at the wrong time. A few months before there had been enough roses in Tom Kitchener's garden to win the hearts of a dozen girls. Now there were only vegetables. 'Twas ever thus.

;-) ;-) tt

He was overwhelmed. He kissed Sally across the fence humbly. Sally, for her part, seemed very unconcerned about it all. A more critical man than Thomas Kitchener might have said that, to all appearances, the thing rather bored Sally.


There arc moments in a man's life when, however enthusiastic a gardener he may be, his soul soars above vegetables. Tom's shot with a jerk into the animal kingdom. The first present he gave Sally in his capacity of fiance was a dog.


It is possible that a judicious meekness on Sally's part might have averted disaster. Mr Cobb was human, and Sally was looking particularly attractive that morning. Meekness, however, did not come easily to Sally.

On her way back she met Tom Kitchener. He was looking very tough and strong, and at the sight of him a half-formed idea, which she had regretfully dismissed as impracticable, of assaulting Constable Cobb, returned to her in an amended form. Tom did not know it, but the reason why she smiled so radiantly upon him at that moment was that she had just elected him to the post of hired assassin. While she did not want Constable Cobb actually assassinated, she earnestly desired him to have his helmet smashed down over his eyes; and it seemed to her that Tom was the man to do it.


'I'm not afraid,' said Tom, condensing his remarks to their minimum as his only chance of being intelligible.


There are some speeches that are such conversational knockout blows that one can hardly believe that life will ever pick itself up and go on again after them. Yet it docs. The dramatist brings down the curtain on such speeches. The novelist blocks his reader's path with a zarcba of stars. But in life there arc no curtains, no stars, nothing final and definite - only ragged pauses and discomfort. There was such a pause now.


She stopped. She had more to say, but she could not say it. She stood looking at him. And he looked at her. His face was crcy and his mouth oddly twisted. Silence seemed to fall on the whole universe.


A man's development is a slow and steady process of the years - a woman's a thing of an instant. In the silence which followed her words Sally had grown up.


I cannot help feeling a little sorry for Ted Pringle. In the light of what happened, I could wish that it were possible to portray him as a hulking brute of evil appearance and worse morals - the sort of person concerning whom one could reflect comfortably that he deserved all he got. I should like to make him an unsympathetic character, over whose downfall the reader would gloat. But honesty compels me to own that Ted was a thoroughly decent young man in every way. He was a good citizen, a dutiful son, and would certainly have made an excellent husband. Furthermore, in the dispute on hand he had right on his side fully as much as Tom. The whole affair was one of those elemental clashings of man and man where the historian cannot sympathize with cither side at the expense of the other, but must confine himself to a mere statement of what occurred. And, briefly, what occurred was that Tom, bringing to the fray a pent-up fury which his adversary had had no time to generate, fought Ted to a complete standstill in the space of two minutes and a half.

In everything that he did Tom was a man of method. He did not depart from his chosen formula.

;-) qq?

Physically, he was not finished; but in his mind a question had framed itself - the question. 'Was it worth it?' - and he was answering, 'No.' There were other girls in the world. No girl was worth all this trouble. He did not rise.

He spoke thickly. His breath was coming in gasps. He was a terrible spectacle, but Sally was past the weaker emotions. She was back in the Stone Age, and her only feeling was one of passionate pride. She tried to speak. She struggled to put all she felt into words, but something kept her dumb, and she followed him in silence.


The colossal nature of Sally's deceit was plainly troubling Joe Blossom. He expelled his breath in a long note of amazement. Then he summed up.

'Why you're nothing more nor less than a Joshua 1' The years that had passed since Joe had attended the village Sunday-school had weakened his once easy familiarity with the characters of the Old Testament. It is possible that he had somebody else in his mind.

Tom stuck doggedly to his point. 'You can't marry her, Joe.'

Joe Blossom raised his shears and clipped a protruding branch. The point under discussion seemed to have ceased to interest him. 'Who wants to?' he said. 'Good riddance !'



If this story proves anything (beyond the advantage of being in good training when you fight), it proves that you cannot get away from the moving pictures even in a place like Millbourne; for as Sally sat there, nursing Tom, it suddenly struck her that this was the very situation with which that 'Romance of the Middle Ages film ended. You know the one I mean. Sir Per-cival Ye Something (which has slipped my memory for the moment) goes out after the Holy Grail; meets damsel in distress; overcomes her persecutors; rescues her; gets wounded, and is nursed back to life in her arms. Sally had seen it a dozen times. And every time she had reflected that the days of romance arc dead, and that that sort of thing can't happen nowadays.


/Deep Waters/


For George, though you would not have suspected it from his exterior, was one of those in whose cerebra the grey matter splashes restlessly about, producing strong curtains and crisp dialogue.


George's mind, as he paced the pier, was divided between the beauties of Nature and the forthcoming crisis in his affairs in the ratio of one-eighth to the former and seven-eighths to the latter. At the moment when he had left London, thoroughly disgusted with the entire theatrical world in general and the company which was rehearsing Fate's Footballs in particular, re-'' hcarsals had just reached that stage of brisk delirium when the author toys with his bottle of poison and the stage-manager becomes icily polite. The Footpills - as Arthur MiflBin, the leading Juvenile in the great play, insisted upon calling it, much to George's disapproval - was his first piece. Never before had he been in one of those kitchens where many cooks prepare, and sometimes spoil, the theatrical broth. Consequently the chaos seemed to him unique. Had he been a more experienced dramatist, he would have said to himself, "Twas ever thus.' As it was, what he said to himself - and others - was more forcible.


'When a man's afraid,' shrewdly sings the bard, 'a beautiful maid is a cheering sight to sec'. In the present instance the sight acted on George like a tonic. He forgot that the lady to whom an injudicious management had assigned the role of heroine in Fate's Footballs invariably - no doubt from the best motives - omitted to give the cynical roue his cue for the big speech in Act III His mind no longer dwelt on the fact that Arthur MifBin, an estimable person in private life, and one who had been a friend of his at Cambridge, preferred to deliver the impassioned lines of the great renunciation scene in a manner suggesting a small boy (and a sufferer from nasal catarrh at that) speaking a piece at a Sunday-school treat. The recollection of the hideous depression and gloom which the leading comedian had radiated in great clouds fled from him like some grisly nightmare before the goddess of day. Every cell in his brain was occupied, to the exclusion of all other thoughts, by the girl swimming in the water below.


She swam well. His practised eye saw that. Her strong, easy strokes-carried her swiftly over the swell of the waves. He stared, transfixed. He was a well-brought-up young man, and | he knew how ill-bred it was to stare; but this was a special occasion. Ordinary rules of conventional etiquette could not apply to a case like this. He stared. More, he gaped. As the girl passed on into the shadow of the pier he leaned farther over the rail, and his neck extended in joints like a telescope.

gs comp

George did not struggle. His brain, working with the cool rapidity of a buzz-saw in an ice-box, had planned a line of action. Few things arc more difficult in this world for a young man than the securing of an introduction to the right girl under just the right conditions. When he is looking his best he is presented to her in the midst of a crowd, and is swept away after a rapid hand-shake. When there is no crowd he has toothache, or the sun has just begun to make his nose peel. Thousands of young lives have been saddened in this manner.


see also...

The struggle between George and George's conscience was brief. The conscience, weak by nature and flabby from long want of exercise, had no sort of chance from the start.



What is it?'

'I'll tell you later. There arc a few details to be worked upon first. Meanwhile, let us trickle to the sea-front and take a sail in one o? those boats. I am at my best in a boat. I rather fancy Nature intended me for a Viking.'



'It occurs to me on reflection that after all you wouldn't have agreed to it. A something, I don't know what, which is lacking in your nature, would have made you reject the scheme.'

'I'm glad that occurred to you.'



George finished lacing his shoe and looked up.

'Listen,' he said; 'I'll talk slow, so that you can understand. Suppose you fell off a pier, and a girl took a great deal of trouble to get you to the shore, would you say, "Much obliged, but you needn't have been so officious. I can swim perfectly well?"'

Mr Mifflin considered this point. Intelligence began to dawn in his face. 'There is more in this than meets the eye,' he. said.

Tell me all.'



Arthur Mifflin, as if refreshed and braced by his salt-water bath, was infusing a welcome vigour into his part. And even the comedian, George could not help admitting, showed signs of being on the eve of becoming funny. It was with a light heart and a light step that he made his way back to the hotel.


There was a silence. George began to feel uneasy. You could never tell with women, of course. It might be nothing; but it looked uncommonly as if -


Once, in the dear, dead days beyond recall, when but a happy child, George had been smitten unexpectedly by a sportive playmate a bare half-inch below his third waistcoat-button. The resulting emotions were still green in his memory. As he had felt then, so did he feel now.



'George's,' said Mr Mifflin, 'is essentially a chivalrous nature. At any crisis demanding a display of the finer feelings he is there with the goods before you can turn round. His friends frequently wrangle warmly as to whether he is most like Bayard, Lancelot, or Happy Hooligan. Some say one, some the other. It seems that yesterday you saved him from a watery grave without giving him time to explain that he could save himself. What could he do? He said to himself, "She must never know 1" and acted accordingly. But let us leave George, and return - '

'Thank you, Mr Mifflin.' There was a break in her laugh. 'I don't think there is any necessity. I think I understand now* It was very clever of you.'

'It was more than cleverness, said Mr Mifflin, rising. 'It was genius.'



/When doctors disagree/


Jealousy, according to an eminent authority, is the hydra of calamities, the sevenfold death'. Arthur Welsh's was all that and a bit over.


'I fail to understand your meaning,' he said.


The allusion was to the client who had just left " a jovial individual with a red face, who certainly had made Maud giggle a good deal. And why not? If a gentleman tells really funny stories, what harm is there in giggling? You had to be pleasant to people. If you snubbed customers, what happened? Why, sooner or later, it got round to the boss, and then where were you ? Besides, it was not as if the red-faced customer had been rude. Write down on paper what he had said to her, and i nobody could object to it. Write down on paper what she had said to him, and you couldn't object to that cither. It was just Arthur's silliness.


And a customer, pushing open the door unnoticed two minutes later, retired hurriedly to get shaved elsewhere, doubting whether Arthur's mind was on his job.


It was useless to say anything. She had a wholesome horror of being one of those women who nagged; and she felt that to complain again would amount to nagging. She tried to put the thing out of her mind, but it insisted on staying there.


A number of eminent poets and essayists, in the course of the last few centuries, have recorded, in their several ways, their opinion that one can have too much of a good thing. The truth applies even to such a good thing as absence of jealousy. Little by little Maud began to grow uneasy. It began to come home to her that she preferred the old Arthur, of the scowl and the gnawed lip. Of him she had at least been sure. Whatever discomfort she may have suffered from his spirited imitations of Othello, at any rate they had proved that he loved her.


But now these things were not enough. Her heart was troubled. Her thoughts frightened her. The little black imp at the back of her mind kept whispering and whispering, till at last she was forced to listen.


Previous 100 | Next 100


page 1 | page 2 | page 3 | page 4 | page 5 | page 6 | page 7 | page 8 | page 9 | page 10 | page 11 | page 12 | page 13 | page 14 | page 15 | page 16 | page 17 | page 18 | page 19 | page 20 | page 21 | page 22 | page 23 | page 24 | page 25 | page 26 | page 27 | page 28 | page 29 | page 30 | page 31 | page 32 | page 33 | page 34 | page 35

Quotaions from: Michel | Alla | Masha | "Russian" Quotes Articles: Stephen Fry | Hugh Laurie | Sound Quotations on pgw.ru

Quotes - By books

Index from book Wodehouse on Wodehouse. | Article "About Stories" | Dedications1 | Dedications 2 | Prefaces1 | Prefaces2 | Prefaces3 | Prefaces4 | "Facts from Usborn" (forewords from Vintage Wodehouse)