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The BooksThere is a certain something in P. G. Wodehouse's precise articulation of lunacy that brings the reader moments of great jollity. In other words, Hilarity Ensues at least once on every page.
My Man Jeeves
- One of the most hilarious early-morning conversations in fiction:
"What ho!" I said."What ho!" said Motty."What ho! What ho!"After that it seemed rather difficult to go on with the conversation.
- "I'm not absolutely certain of my facts, but I rather fancy it's Shakespeare — or, if not, it's some equally brainy lad — who says that it's always just when a chappie is feeling particularly top-hole, and more than usually braced with things in general that Fate sneaks up behind him with a bit of lead piping."
- Bertie meets the husband of one of his ex-girlfriends.
Have you ever been turned down by a girl who afterwards married and then been introduced to her husband? If so you'll understand how I felt when Clarence burst on me. You know the feeling. First of all, when you hear about the marriage, you say to yourself, "I wonder what he's like." Then you meet him, and think, "There must be some mistake. She can't have preferred this to me!"
- Bertie reflecting on the refining effect of suffering in The Aunt and the Sluggard.
As I stood in my lonely bedroom at the hotel, trying to tie my white tie myself, it struck me for the first time that there must be whole squads of chappies in the world who had to get along without a man to look after them. I'd always thought of Jeeves as a kind of natural phenomenon; but, by Jove! of course, when you come to think of it, there must be quite a lot of fellows who have to press their own clothes themselves, and haven't got anybody to bring them tea in the morning, and so on. It was rather a solemn thought, don't you know. I mean to say, ever since then I've been able to appreciate the frightful privations the poor have to stick.
- "The funny thing was that he wasn't altogether a fool in other ways. Deep down in him there was a kind of stratum of sense. I had known him, once or twice, show an almost human intelligence. But to reach that stratum, mind you, you needed dynamite."
The Inimitable Jeeves
Bertie: What are the chances of a cobra biting Harold, Jeeves?Jeeves: Slight, I should imagine, sir. And in such an event, knowing the boy as intimately as I do, my anxiety would be entirely for the snake.
- "We Woosters do not lightly forget. At least, we do - some things - appointments, and people's birthdays, and letters to post, and all that - but not an absolutely bally insult like the above."
- Bertie reflects on his place in the family.
As a rule, you see, I'm not lugged into Family Rows. On the occasions when Aunt is calling Aunt like mastodons bellowing across premieval swamps and Uncle James's letter about Cousin Mabel's peculiar behaviour is being shot round the family circle ('Please read this carefully and send it on Jane') the clan has a tendency to ignore me. It's one of the advantages I get from being a bachelor - and, according to my nearest and dearest, practically a half-witted bachelor at that.
- The twins arrive.
Claude: Hear that, Eustace? He wishes we were staying a good long time."I expect it will seem a good long time," said Eustace, philosophically.
- Bertie displays his complete lack of tact yet again.
Jeeves: [Harold] is of an outspoken disposition, and had made an opprobrious remark respecting my personal appearance.Bertie: What did he say about your appearance?Jeeves (austerely): I have forgotten, sir. But it was opprobrious.
- Bingo falls in love (again) and spends the night outside what he thinks is the girl's window. Turns out it's the butler's window.
- The Delayed Exit of Claude and Eustace. All of it. Especially when the titular twins have just been expelled from Oxford and Bertie thinks they're on their way to South Africa... and then Claude walks into Bertie's room.
I'd been having so many distorted nightmares since I had dropped off to sleep that for half a minute I thought this was simply one more of them, and the worst of the lot. It was only when Claude sat down on my feet that I got on to the fact that this was stern reality.
Claude: Very sound fellow, Eustace. Probably end up by being a magnate of some kind. I shall watch his future progress with considerable interest. And now you must excuse me for a moment, Bertie. I want to go and hunt up Jeeves and get him to mix me one of those pick-me-ups of his. For some reason which I can't explain, I've got a slight headache this morning.Bertie: [narrating] And, believe me or believe me not, the door had hardly closed behind him when in blew Eustace with a shining morning face that made me ill to look at.
- Claude reveals that he's fallen in love with a girl called Marion Wardour, so he "gave Eustace the slip at Waterloo" to come back in hopes of seeing her again. Then he starts talking about Eustace, who he thinks is on a boat bound for South Africa.
...[Claude] came in in person, looking like a giant refreshed. There's no doubt that Jeeves's pick-me-ups will produce immediate results in anything short of an Egyptian mummy. [...] Claude had revived like a watered flower, but he nearly had a relapse when he saw his bally brother goggling at him over the bed-rail.
- Eustace reveals that he's in love with Marion too, and he thinks Claude is en route to South Africa. Then Claude returns.
Aunt Agatha: ...What I was thinking was, are [Claude and Eustace] safe?Bertie: Are they what?It seemed such a rummy adjective to apply to the twins, they being about as innocuous as a couple of sprightly young tarantulas.
- And then, while the twins are staying with Bertie and trying to see which one of them Marion will choose, Aunt Agatha comes to visit, and as far as she knows the two of them are in South Africa.
Aunt Agatha: You do think those poor, dear boys are safe, Bertie? They have not met with some horrible accident?It made my mouth water to think of it, but I said no, I didn't think they had met with any horrible accident. I thought Eustace was a horrible accident, and Claude about the same, but I didn't say so.
- Aunt Agatha then reveals that Uncle George saw what he thought was Eustace's ghost.
Marion: Your cousins not at home, Bertie?Bertie: No, thank goodness!Marion: Then I'll tell you where they are. They're in my sitting-room, glaring at each other from opposite corners, waiting for me to come in. Bertie, this has got to stop.Bertie: You're seeing a good deal of them, are you?Marion: I can't move a step without tripping over one or both of them. Generally both. They've taken to calling together, and they just settle down grimly and try to sit each other out. It's wearing me to a shadow.
- Then poor Marion, the object of the twins' affection, comes to call.
- Claude gives Marion a cigarette case. Then Aunt Agatha visits again, and Bertie learns that it's Uncle George's cigarette case, and Claude stole it.
Carry On, Jeeves
- "What's the use of a great city having temptations if fellows don't yield to them? Makes it so bally discouraging for the great city."
- Bertie's descriptions of people or things are always good for a laugh.
He looked haggard and careworn, like a Borgia who has suddenly remembered that he has forgotten to shove cyanide in the consommé, and the dinner-gong due any moment.
- Bertie meets Sir Roderick.
If ever there was a bloke at the very mention of whose name it would be excusable for people to tremble like aspens, that bloke is Sir Roderick Glossop. He has an enormous bald head, all the hair which ought to be on it seeming to have run into his eyebrows, and his eyes go through you like a couple of Death Rays."How are you, how are you, how are you?" I said, overcoming a slight desire to leap backwards out of the window.
Very Good, Jeeves
- "The voice of Love seemed to call to me, but it was a wrong number."
- "Unseen in the background, Fate was quietly slipping lead into the boxing glove."
- Bertie forgets his quotations again.
Hell, it is well known, has no fury like a woman who wants her tea and can't get it.
- In The Ordeal of Young Tuppy Jeeves demonstrates that when dealing with Bertie, you have to be a Captain Obvious.
Bertie: I will read [Tuppy's telegram] to you. [...] When you come tomorrow, bring my football boots. Also, if humanly possible, Irish water-spaniel. Urgent. Regards. Tuppy. What do you make of that, Jeeves?Jeeves: As I interpret the document, sir, Mr. Glossop wishes you, when you come tomorrow, to bring his football boots. Also, if humanly possible, an Irish water-spaniel. He hints that the matter is urgent, and sends his regards.Bertie: Yes, that is how I read it. But why football boots?Jeeves: Perhaps Mr. Glossop wishes to play football, sir.
- And in the same story, the climactic rugby match.
He was so crusted with alluvial deposits that one realized how little a mere bath would ever be able to effect. To fit him to take his place once more in polite society, he would certainly have to be sent to the cleaner's. Indeed, it was a moot point whether it wouldn't be simpler just to throw him away.
- And in the same story, the climactic rugby match.
- In "Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit", Jeeves advises Bertie against pursuing Bobbie Wickham, calling her "volatile and frivolous." Later in the story Bertie tells Jeeves that he's about to eat his words: Bobbie just gave him an excellent plan to prank Tuppy Glossop by puncturing his hot water bottle, "and this is the girl you were calling volatile and frivolous."
- In The Love That Purifies, Bertie's cousins Thomas and Bonzo are the subject of a bet: whichever is the most well-behaved until Mr. Anstruther leaves gets five pounds. And then there's The Reveal of why they're both so well-behaved: Bonzo has fallen in love with Lillian Gish, and Thomas is in love with Greta Garbo. And then Sebastian Moon comes along with a crush on Clara Bow...
- Also in The Love That Purifies, Thomas finally snaps and tries to throw a bucket of water at Sebastian. Unfortunately, Sebastian dodges, and poor Mr. Anstruther gets it instead.
[Thomas], for some reason plainly stirred to the depths of his being, moved adroitly to one side and, poising the bucket for an instant, discharged its contents. And Mr Anstruther, who had just moved to the same side, received, as far as I could gather from a distance, the entire consignment. In one second, without any previous training or upbringing, he had become the wettest man in Worcestershire.
Thank You, Jeeves
- Bertie has been informed by his landlord that he must, by popular demand, either cease his attempts to learn to play the banjolele, or take himself and 'that infernal din' elsewhere.
'Complaints, it would seem, have been lodged by the Honorable Mrs. Tinkler-Moulke of C-6; by Lieutenant Colonel J. J. Bustard (DSO) of B-5; and Sir Everard and Lady Blennerhassett, of B-7. All right. So be it. I don't care. We shall be well-rid of these Tinkler-Moulkes, these Bustards, and these Blennerhassetts. I leave them without a pang.'
- "I mean, if you're asking a fellow to come out of a room so that you can dismember him with a carving knife, it's absurd to tack a 'sir' on to every sentence. The two things don't go together."
Right Ho, Jeeves
- The telegram war between Bertie and his Aunt Dahlia.
Aunt Dahlia: Am taking legal advice to ascertain whether strangling an idiot nephew counts as murder. If it doesn't look out for yourself. Consider your conduct frozen limit. What do you mean by planting your loathsome friends on me like this? Do you think Brinkley Court is a leper colony or what is it? Who is this Spink-Bottle? Love. Travers.[...]Aunt Dahlia: Well, this friend of yours has got here, and I must say that for a friend of yours he seems less sub-human than I had expected. A bit of a pop-eyed bleater, but on the whole clean and civil, and certainly most informative about newts. Am considering arranging series of lectures for him in neighbourhood. All the same I like your nerve using my house as a summer-hotel resort and shall have much to say to you on subject when you come down. Expect you thirtieth. Bring spats. Love. Travers.Bertie: On consulting engagement book find impossible come Brinkley Court. Deeply regret. Toodle-oo. Bertie.Aunt Dahlia: Oh, so it's like that, is it? You and your engagement book, indeed. Deeply regret my foot. Let me tell you, my lad, that you will regret it a jolly sight more deeply if you don't come down. [...] Deeply regret Brinkley Court hundred miles from London, as unable hit you with a brick. Love, Travers.
- Bertie and Jeeves's eyebrow competition.
I consulted Jeeves once more in the language of the eyebrow. He raised one of his. I raised one of mine. He raised his other. I raised my other.
Then we both raised both. Finally, there seeming no other policy to pursue, I flung wide the gates and Tuppy came shooting in.
"Now what?" I said, as nonchalantly as I could manage.
"Why was the door locked?" demanded Tuppy.
I was in pretty good eyebrow-raising form by now, so I gave him a touch of it.
- "And if I portrayed the scene with anything like adequate skill, the picture you will have retained of this Fink-Nottle will have been that of a nervous wreck, sagging at the knees, green about the gills, and picking feverishly at the lapels of his coat in an ecstasy of craven fear."
- Gussie Fink-Nottle's epic drunken speech at the Market Snodsbury grammar-school prize-giving, which is often cited as Wodehouse's funniest passage. Sadly, it is somewhat lengthy to quote here, and makes little sense out of context because it acts as Chekhov's Gunman for half the gags in the book - but rest assured it is well worth reading.
Bertie: [Gussie's] nerve cracked under the strain, and he sneaked into the dining-room and started mopping the stuff up like a vacuum cleaner. Whisky would seem to be what he filled the radiator with. I gather that he used up most of the decanter. Golly, Jeeves, it's lucky he didn't get at that laced orange juice on top of that, what?[...]Jeeves: It was a most prudent act on your part, if I may say so, sir, to dispose of the orange juice.Bertie: What? Didn't you?Jeeves: No, sir.Bertie: Jeeves, let us get this clear. Was it not you who threw away that o.j.?Jeeves: No, sir. I assumed, when I entered the room and found the pitcher empty, that you had done so.[Beat]Jeeves: I very much fear, sir -Bertie: So do I, Jeeves. [...] The jug was standing on the mantelpiece, for all eyes to behold. Gussie had been complaining of thirst. You found him in here, laughing heartily. I think that there can be little doubt, Jeeves, that the entire contents of that jug are at this moment reposing on top of the existing cargo in that already brilliantly lit man's interior. Disturbing, Jeeves.
- Prior to Gussie's aforementioned drunken speech, Bertie and Jeeves discover that he's drunk.
Bertie: And in two shakes of a duck's tail Gussie, with all that lapping about inside him, will be distributing the prizes at Market Snodsbury Grammar School before an audience of all that is fairest and most refined in the county. [...] It seems to me, Jeeves, that the ceremony may be one fraught with considerable interest. [...] What, in your opinion, will the harvest be?Jeeves: One finds it difficult to hazard a conjecture, sir.[...]I inspected my imagination. He was right. It boggled.
- After this, they realise Gussie's about to give his famous speech.
- How Gussie's speech ended: he said one of the students could only have won a prize by cheating, and the student's mother objected. Jeeves tells Bertie about it afterwards, and says that after this "they sang the national anthem". Bertie thinks this means Gussie and the student's mother sang a duet, and Jeeves has to clarify that everyone else sang it.
- "...Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."
- When Jeeves and Bertie are discussing ringing the fire alarm (like everything else in these books, it Makes Sense In Context), Bertie gets a bit of snark in at Tuppy's Big Eater tendencies.
Jeeves: Possibly you may recollect that it was an axiom of [...] Sherlock Holmes, that the instinct of everyone, upon an alarm of fire, is to save the object dearest to them.Bertie: It seems to me that there is a grave danger of seeing Tuppy come out carrying a steak-and-kidney pie, but resume, Jeeves, resume.
- The Running Gag of Aunt Dahlia calling Gussie "Spink-Bottle" instead of "Fink-Nottle". Stops being Accidental Misnaming after his speech, when she announces that from now on she'll always think of him as "Bottle".
- After Anatole gives notices thanks to one of Bertie's bright ideas, Aunt Dahlia has this to say.
Aunt Dahlia: [to Bertie] ...I wonder if you would mind doing something for me. [...] I want you, like a good boy, to fasten the rope to the brick and tie it around your damned neck and jump into the pond and drown yourself. In a few days I will send and have you fished up and buried because I shall need to dance on your grave.
Bertie: I acted for what I deemed the best.Aunt Dahlia: Another time try acting for the worst. Then we may possibly escape with a mere flesh wound.
- Then Bertie tries to defend himself.
- After Gussie makes faces at Anatole through the skylight, Aunt Dahlia isn't happy with Bertie.
Aunt Dahlia: [to Bertie] Attila. That's the name. Attila, the Hun. I was trying to think who you reminded me of. Somebody who went about strewing ruin and desolation and breaking up homes which, until he came along, had been happy and peaceful. Attila is the man. It's amazing. To look at you, one would think you were just an ordinary sort of amiable idiot—certifiable, perhaps, but quite harmless. Yet, in reality, you are worse a scourge than the Black Death. I tell you, Bertie, when I contemplate you I seem to come up against all the underlying sorrow and horror of life with such a thud that I feel as if I had walked into a lamp post.
Aunt Dahlia: If the prophet Job were to walk into the room at this moment, I could sit swapping hard-luck stories with him till bedtime. Not that Job was in my class.
- Then, after summing up the situation, she concludes:
- The aftermath of Bertie ringing the fire-bell.
Aunt Dahlia: So much healthier for us out in the open like this than frowsting in bed. I had just dropped off when you did your bell-ringing act. For it was you, my sweet child, who rang that bell, was it not?Bertie: I did ring the bell, yes.Aunt Dahlia: Any particular reason, or just a whim?Bertie: I thought there was a fire.Aunt Dahlia: What gave you that impression, dear?Bertie: I thought I saw flames.[...]Aunt Dahlia: I see. So we have all been dragged out of bed and scared rigid because you have been seeing things.
Bertie: ...I think I'll go in now.Aunt Dahlia: That's fine. Because I was thinking of going in, too, and I don't believe I could sleep knowing you were out here giving rein to that powerful imagination of yours. The next thing that would happen would be that you would think you saw a pink elephant sitting on the drawing-room window-sill and start throwing bricks at it.
- After this:
Uncle Thomas: But, confound it all, we can't stop out here all night.Aunt Dahlia: Can't we? You just watch us. There is nothing — literally nothing — which a country house party can't do with Attila here operating on the premises.
- And then they discover the doors are locked.
- Bertie muses on the aphorism that "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned":
I had never scorned a woman myself, but Pongo Twistleton once scorned an aunt of his, flatly refusing to meet her son Gerald at Paddington and give him lunch and see him off to school at Waterloo, and he never heard the end of it. Letters were written, he tells me, which had to be seen to be believed. Also two very strong telegrams and a bitter picture post card with a view of the Little Chilbury War Memorial on it.
The Code of the Woosters
Joy in the Morning
- The entirety of Joy in the Morning (US: Jeeves in the Morning), but especially the moment at which Bertie finds himself 'a gazelle short.'
Bertie: You don't mind me referring to you as a gazelle, do you, Jeeves?Jeeves: Not at all, sir.
- "It is true of course, that I have a will of iron, but it can be switched off if the circumstances seem to demand it."
- "A hoarse shout from within and a small china ornament whizzing past my head informed me that my old friend was at home."
- Jeeves tells Bertie that Aunt Agatha is in London on her way to see her son Thomas, who has mumps. Bertie has this to say.
His allusion was to [Aunt Agatha]'s son by her first marriage, one of our vilest citizens. Many good judges rank him even higher in England’s Rogues' Gallery than her stepson Edwin. I was rejoiced to learn that he had got mumps, and toyed for a moment with a hope that Aunt Agatha would catch them from him.
- Nobby explaining to Bertie why Uncle Percy disapproves of her engagement to Boko, which includes her comparing him to a butterfly. Bertie takes the metaphor and runs with it.
If Uncle Percy really thought that Boko was a butterfly that might go broke at any moment, Love’s young dream had unquestionably stubbed its toe. I mean, an oofy butterfly is bad enough. But it can at least pay the rent. I could well imagine a man of conservative views recoiling from one which might come asking for handouts for the rest of its life.
Nobby: I love Boko distractedly, but at the thought of him going to Hollywood without me I come over all faint. He wouldn’t mean to let me down. I don’t suppose he would even know he was doing it. But one morning I should get an apologetic cable saying that he couldn’t quite explain how it had happened, but that he had inadvertently got married last night, and had I anything to suggest.
- During the same conversation, Nobby says she wants to marry Boko before he leaves for Hollywood.
- Edwin tries to help Bertie settle into the cottage where he'll be staying, and in the process sets the cottage on fire. And then he tries to put out the fire... with paraffin. (Note to American readers: You call it kerosene.)
- After the burning-the-cottage-down incident, Bertie says what he thinks about Edwin.
There's a boy who makes you feel that what this country wants is somebody like King Herod.
- Bertie discovers that he's lost Aunt Agatha's brooch.
...I filled in the time by thinking of what Aunt Agatha was going to say. I did not look forward to getting in touch with her. In fact, it almost seemed as if another of my quick trips to America would be rendered necessary. About the only advantage of having an aunt like her is that it makes one travel, thus broadening the mind and enabling one to see new faces.
- Nobby says Stilton is "very impressionable".
I agreed with her there. I had never forgotten the time at Oxford when somebody temporarily converted him to Buddhism. It led to a lot of unpleasantness with the authorities, I recall, he immediately starting to cut chapel and go and meditate beneath the nearest thing the neighbourhood could provide to a bo tree.
- Nobby and Bertie discuss how to get Florence and Stilton back together.
Bertie: When chatting with Florence, therefore, boost Stilton in every possible way. Make her see what a prize she has got. And if you have any influence with him, endeavour to persuade him to chuck all this policeman nonsense and stand for Parliament, as she wants him to.Nobby: I'd love to see Stilton in Parliament.Bertie: So would I, if it means healing this rift.Nobby: Wouldn't he be a scream!
- Nobby hears how Edwin burned down Bertie's cottage.
Nobby speculated as to the chances of somebody some day murdering Edwin, and we agreed that the hour must eventually produce the man.
- Bertie's Uncle Percy meets him as he's about to smash a window. And then Stilton comes along.
Uncle Percy: I try to enjoy a quiet stroll in my garden, and before I can so much as inhale a breath of air I find it crawling with nephews and policemen. I come out to be alone with Nature, and the first thing I know I can't move for the crowd. What is this place? Piccadilly Circus? Hampstead Heath on Bank Holiday? The spot chosen for the annual outing of the police force?
- Nobby and Boko have a quarrel. Bertie tries to comfort Boko afterward.
Bertie: Life's all right.Boko: Not if you've lost the girl you love.Bertie: Have you lost the girl you love?Boko: That's what I'm trying to figure out. I can't make up my mind. It all depends what construction you place on the words "I never want to see or speak to you again in this world or the next, you miserable fathead."
- Florence, while complaining about Stilton, says he "turned on her like a tiger".
...I couldn’t help admiring Stilton for his intrepid courage. Circumstances had so arranged themselves as to extract most of the stuffing from what had been a closeish boyhood friendship, but I had to respect a man capable of turning on Florence like a tiger. I would hardly have thought Attila the Hun could have done it, even if at the peak of his form.
- Bertie and Nobby discuss how to arrange a meeting for Uncle Percy.
Nobby: Perhaps Boko would have something to suggest.Bertie: I bet he would, and I bet it would be something which would land us so deeply in the soup that it would require a dredging outfit to get us out again.
The Mating Season
- A memorable scene occurs when Police Constable Dobbs, in hot pursuit of Gussie Fink-Nottle, chases him up a tree.
And what [Gussie] expected to get out of this maneuver, only his diseased mind knew. Constable Dobbs may not have been one of Dorsetshire's finest thinkers, but he was smart enough to stand under a tree. And this he proceeded to do. Apparent in the lines of his broad back was the determination to fight it out on these lines if it took all summer [...] I closed my eyes to shut out the painful scene. When I re-opened them [...] I beheld the officer flat on his back in the middle of the road, while Jeeves was replacing something in his pocket which instinct told me was small, serviceable, and made of India-rubber."I coshed the officer, sir," said Jeeves respectfully. "It seemed to me the best course to pursue."
- "In your walks about London you will sometimes see bent, haggard figures that look as if they had recently been caught in some powerful machinery. They are those fellows who got mixed up with Catsmeat when he was meaning well."
Ring for Jeeves
- "It was a confusion of ideas between him and one of the lions he was hunting in Kenya that had caused A. B. Spottsworth to make the obituary column. He thought the lion was dead, and the lion thought it wasn't."
Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit
- "Love is a delicate plant that needs constant tending and nurturing, and this cannot be done by snorting at the adored object like a gas explosion and calling her friends lice."
- Bertie, yet again, finds himself in a sticky situation.
I agreed the situation was sticky. Indeed, offhand it was difficult to see how it could have been more glutinous.
- Bertie is on the phone with Florence Craye, who talks about how jealous her (hulking, aggressive) fiancé, "Stilton" Cheesewright is, saying: "Why, if he even found out I was telephoning to you now, he would have a fit." At this moment, Stilton enters Bertie's room.
It was a moment for quick thinking. One doesn't want fellows having fits all over one's sitting-room. I was extremely dubious, moreover, as to whether, should he ascertain who was at the other end of the wire, he would confine himself to fits.'Certainly Catsmeat,' I said. 'Of course, Catsmeat. I quite understand, Catsmeat. But I'll have to ring off now, Catsmeat, as our mutual friend Cheesewright has just come in. Good-bye, Catsmeat.'I hung up the receiver and turned to Stilton. 'That was Catsmeat,' I said.
- Aunt Dahlia wants Bertie to have dinner with the Trotters. He describes it to Jeeves as "a blind date with some slabs of gorgonzola sponsored by Aunt Dahlia".
- Bertie mixes his metaphors.
I had the disquieting impression that it wouldn’t take too much to make the Stilton-Florence axis go p'fft again, and who could say that in this event, the latter, back in circulation, would not decide to hitch on to me once more? I remembered what had happened that other time and, as the fellow said, the burned child fears the spilled milk.
- Bertie tries to get out of visiting Aunt Dahlia by saying he refused to give another guest money. Aunt Dahlia replies that he needn't worry about it, because said guest got money from somewhere else.
Aunt Dahlia: So you needn't be shy about meeting him. What if he does think you the world's premier louse? Don't we all?
- Aunt Dahlia convinces Bertie to "steal" her necklace and tells him her bedroom is "the end one on the left". Bertie follows her instructions, but ends up in Florence's bedroom by mistake. Then Cheesewright comes along and finds him there, and then when Bertie tries to escape he finds the ladder has vanished.
Bertie: Would you mind informing me in a few simple words why you told me that your window was the end one on the left?Aunt Dahlia: It is the end one on the left. [...] Looking from the house.Bertie: Oh, looking from the house? I thought you meant looking at the house.Aunt Dahlia: Don't tell me you got into the wrong room?Bertie: It could scarcely have been wronger.
- Then, when Bertie finally goes back to his own room, he finds Aunt Dahlia waiting from him.
Aunt Dahlia: You'd better go and shift that ladder to the right window.[...]Bertie: ...The ladder isn't there. [...] Under the right window, or perhaps I should say the wrong window. When I looked out, it was gone.Aunt Dahlia: Nonsense. Ladders don't melt into thin air.Bertie: They do, I assure you, at Brinkley Court, Brinkley-cum-Snodsfield-in-the-Marsh. I don't know what conditions prevail elsewhere, but at Brinkley Court they vanish if you take your eye off them for so much as an instant.Aunt Dahlia: You mean the ladder's disappeared?Bertie: That is precisely the point I was endeavouring to establish. It has folded its tents like the Arabs and silently stolen away.
- After Aunt Dahlia learns whose room Bertie broke into, she says, "You'll have to marry [Florence]... though I doubt if she would have you."
- Even after all this, Aunt Dahlia doesn't give up on her burglary plan.
Uncle Tom: The place is alive with burglars.Aunt Dahlia: Burglars? What gives you that idea? I haven't seen any burglars. Have you, Bertie?Bertie: Not one. I remember thinking how odd it was.[...]Uncle Tom: I saw a ladder. When I was taking my stroll in the garden before going to bed. Propped up against one of the windows. I took it away in the nick of time. A minute later, and burglars would have been streaming up it in their thousands.
- Uncle Tom comes along and reveals he took the ladder.
- "I moved in a mysterious way my wonders to perform, but was impeded by a number of Acts of God."
- "There is one drawback to not wearing a moustache, and that is that if you don’t have one, you’ve got nothing to twirl when baffled. All you can do is stand with your lower jaw drooping like a tired lily, looking a priceless ass, and that is what Stilton was doing now. His whole demeanour was that of an Assyrian who, having come down like a wolf on the fold, finds in residence not lambs but wild cats, than which, of course, nothing makes an Assyrian feel sillier."
Jeeves in the Offing
- Bertie grumbling about how everyone makes him do the things they don't want to.
Whenever there is a job to be taken on of a kind calculated to make Humanity shudder, the cry goes up, "Let Wooster do it."
- Bertie saying that Aunt Dahlia could never read in the paper that he'll be shot at sunrise... because he's never up that early.
- Bobbie's mother calls Bertie and is very upset over something she read in The Times. Confused, Bertie looks at the paper to find out what it is, and discovers someone has sent in an announcement of his engagement to Bobbie, who he most definitely is not engaged to.
- Followed by The Reveal that Bobbie herself put the announcement in. Why? She's in love with Kipper, one of Bertie's friends, but her mother wouldn't approve of him, so she took advantage of the fact that her mother approves of Bertie even less to fake an engagement to him, then fake a break-up so she can get together with Kipper. Ridiculously overcomplicated? Yes. Inevitably going to go wrong? Yes. Hilarious? Yes.
- Bertie is so startled at seeing Aunt Dahlia's new "butler" (otherwise known as Roderick Glossop) that he spills his tea... all over his former headmaster.
...we all know what happens when you start violently while holding a full cup of tea. The contents of mine flew through the air and came to rest on the trousers of Aubrey Upjohn, MA, moistening them to no little extent. Indeed, it would scarcely be distorting the facts to say that he was now not so much wearing trousers as wearing tea.
- Aunt Dahlia discovers how difficult it is to talk to Phyllis.
Phyllis: [about her father taking libel action against a newspaper] It's this book Daddy wrote about preparatory schools. He wrote a book about preparatory schools. Did you know he had written a book about preparatory schools?Aunt Dahlia: Hadn't an inkling. Nobody tells me anything.Phyllis: Well, he wrote this book about preparatory schools. It was about preparatory schools.Aunt Dahlia: About preparatory schools, was it?Phyllis: Yes, about preparatory schools.
Much Obliged, Jeeves
- Bertie's comments on Aunt Dahlia's habit of talking loudly.
I believe that she, when in good voice, could be heard in several adjoining counties.
- Bertie's reaction to hearing Ginger is staying with Aunt Dahlia.
I uttered a joyful cry, and [Aunt Dahlia] said if I did it again, she would sue me, it having nearly cracked her eardrum. A notable instance of the pot calling the kettle black, as the old saying has it, she having been cracking mine since the start of the proceedings.
- At the end, Bertie gets side-tracked while summing things up.
Bertie: There remains a fly in the ointment, a familiar saying meaning... well, I don't quite know what it does mean. It seems to imply a state of affairs at which one is supposed to look askance, but why, I ask myself, shouldn't flies be in ointment? What harm do they do? And who wants ointment, anyway? But you get what I'm driving at.
- When Jeeves reveals that Runkle went to prison for bribing a juror, Aunt Dahlia "revived like a floweret". Bertie adds, "Not that she looks like a floweret, but you know what I mean."
- "...the McCorkadale gave that sniffing snort of hers. It was partly like an escape of steam and partly like two or three cats unexpectedly encountering two or three dogs, with just a suggestion of a cobra waking up cross in the morning. I wondered how it had affected the late Mr McCorkadale. Probably made him feel that there are worse things than being run over by a municipal tram."
Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves
- Bertie snarking at Madeline's melodramatic declaration to Gussie.
'I hate you, I hate you!' cried Madeline, a thing I didn't know anyone ever said except in the second act of a musical comedy.
- Stinker's introduction. Especially when Bertie comments on his fondness for playing football.
Rugby football is more or less a sealed book to me, I never having gone in for it, but even I could see that he was good. The lissomness with which he moved hither and thither was most impressive, as was his homicidal ardour when doing what I believe is called tackling. Like the Canadian Mounted Police he always got his man, and when he did so the air was vibrant with the excited cries of morticians in the audience making bids for the body.
- "[Stinker] gave me the impression of a two-hundred-pound curate with something on his mind beside his hair."
- Aunt Dahlia's phone call to Bertie.
Aunt Dahlia: Bertie, you foul young blot on the landscape! [...] I got your telegram. [...] What do you mean, you're leaving town? You never leave town except to come down here and wallow in Anatole's cooking. Where are you going?...I said I was going to Totleigh Towers, and she uttered an impatient snort.Aunt Dahlia: There's something wrong with this blasted wire. It sounded as if you were saying you were going to Totleigh Towers.Bertie: I am.
Bertie: Incredulous!Aunt Dahlia: If you mean incredible, you're wrong. I told you how he had fallen under Jeeves's spell when he was here. He used to follow him with his eyes as he buttled, like a cat watching a duck, as Anatole would say. And one morning I heard him making him a definite proposition. Well? What's the matter with you? Have you fainted?
- Then Aunt Dahlia reveals that Mr. Bassett wants to steal Jeeves away.
- Bertie meets Roderick Spode.
Spode: Wooster, I can't make up my mind whether to break your neck or not.'Not' would have been the way my vote would have been cast, but he didn't give me time to say so.
...I was interested to learn that this was what snakes did.
- Then Spode accuses Bertie of trying to come between Madeline and Gussie, "like a creeping snake".
- Mr. Glossop's reaction to learning Bertie is coming to stay for at least a week... after Bertie arrives.
- Bertie's description of the atmosphere at Totleigh Towers.
Sombre, that's the word I was trying to think of. The atmosphere was sombre. The whole binge might have been a scene from one of those Russian plays my Aunt Agatha sometimes makes me take her son Thos to at the Old Vic in order to improve his mind, which, as is widely known, can do with all the improvement that's coming to it.
- Jeeves objects to Bertie's alpine hat.
Bertie: If you really want to know, several fellows at the Drones asked me where I had got it.
- Jeeves gets Bertie out of having to marry Madeline, by claiming Bertie's a kleptomaniac.
Aunts Aren't Gentlemen
- Bertie, about Aunt Dahlia:
If she ever turned into a werewolf, it would be one of those jolly breezy werewolves whom it is a pleasure to know.
- Bertie has to go to Maiden Eggesford for the sake of his health, and expects he'll have a nice, quiet time.
In due course Aunt Dahlia rang to say that she had got a cottage for me and to let her know what day I would be arriving. And so began what I suppose my biographers will refer to as The Maiden Eggesford Horror – or possibly The Curious Case Of The Cat Which Kept Popping Up When Least Expected.
- Aunt Dahlia notices Bertie isn't acting normally and confronts him about it.
Bertie: What you say is true. But I am not myself today.Aunt Dahlia: Well, that's a bit of luck for everybody.Bertie: I'm what you could call distraught.Aunt Dahlia: You're what I could call a mess.
- After Bertie tells Orlo that Vanessa wants to meet him at Bertie's cottage:
Eventually [Orlo] spoke, his voice rather like that of a living corpse in one of those horror films where the fellow takes the lid off the tomb in the vault beneath the ruined chapel and blowed if the occupant doesn't start a conversation with him.
- Bertie tells Aunt Dahlia about his engagement to Vanessa. She offers him a few words of comfort.
Aunt Dahlia: I wouldn't worry. You're bound to wriggle out of it somehow. You told me once that you had faith in your star. The girls you've been engaged to and have escaped from would reach, if placed end to end, from Piccadilly to Hyde Park Corner. I won't believe you're married till I see the bishop and assistant clergy mopping their foreheads and saying, "Well, that's that. We've really got the young blighter off at last."
- Bertie tells Jeeves about his engagement.
Bertie: I'm in sore straits, Jeeves.Jeeves: I am sorry to hear that, sir.Bertie: You'll be sorrier when I explain further. Have you ever seen a garrison besieged by howling savages, with their ammunition down to the last box of cartridges, the water supply giving out and the United States Marines nowhere in sight?Jeeves: Not to my recollection, sir.Bertie: Well, my position is roughly that of such a garrison, except that compared with me they're sitting pretty. Compared with me they haven't a thing to worry about.
- Jeeves reads over Bertie's article on "What the Well-Dressed Man Is Wearing" for Milady's Boudoir:
I watched him narrowly as he read on, and, as I was expecting, what you might call the love-light suddenly died out of his eyes. I braced myself for an unpleasant scene.
"Come to the bit about soft silk shirts for evening wear?" I asked carelessly.
"Yes, sir," said Jeeves in a low, cold voice, as if he'd been bitten in the leg by a personal friend.
- "If that doesn't leave me without a stain on my character, well, then I don't know what it does leave me without a stain on."
The TV series
- Aunt Agatha saying that Honoria Glossop is the perfect wife for Bertie because "she will mould you".
Bertie: I don't want to be moulded! I'm not a jelly!Aunt Agatha: That is a matter of opinion.
- Jeeves expresses his doubts about Bertie's plan.
Jeeves: Any undertaking that requires the presence of four people in one place at the same time, while two of them are unaware of the fact, is fraught with the possibility of mishap, sir.
- "Well, [Honoria] didn't phone me, exactly. I mean, I picked the phone up because I was standing beside it." "What did she say?" "She said, 'Let me talk to someone with a brain'. But it was friendly, the way she said it!"
- One of Bertie's cousins says that Barmy "has the IQ of a backward clam". Jeeves replies, "It's my understanding that amongst his fellow members of the Drones Club he is considered something of a dangerous intellectual."
- When the cats run out of Bertie's bedroom, the Glossops jump up on the furniture to get away from them.
- "Whenever I see Miss Wickham, I know that trouble cannot be far behind."
- The look on Jeeves' face as he takes Macintosh (Aunt Agatha's dog) for a walk.
- "I was on my way there, when something happened! I can't remember what exactly."
- Barmy boasts about a new golfing gadget he's got that buzzes to tell him when to start the downswing. Then, when he tests it for the first time, it doesn't work. Turns out he forgot to wind it up.
- Bertie's first golfing attempt. He hits the ball... and sends it flying into a group of people, hitting one of them.
- Then a little later, he hits the ball then cowers as it bounces off several trees and ends up back at his feet.
- "If you ask me, Jeeves, that animal [Macintosh] is in the pay of the Fotheringay-Phippses!"
- The "menu" Bobby sends Bertie: roly-poly pudding, with lots of jam, oysters, ice cream and plenty of chocolate.
Bertie: She must be on some sort of diet.
- When Bertie goes to retrieve Aunt Agatha's dog, at least three other dogs follow him into the hotel where Macintosh was taken because of the aniseed on his trousers.
- Bertie diving behind the couch when Mr. Blumenfield comes to call.
- Uncle George sends Bertie a message telling him to come and see him, and it's urgent.
Bertie: I got a message that it was urgent.Uncle George: Oh, it is, yes, it is. Yes, yes, yes. What I wanted to ask you was, where do you get those ties you wear?Bertie: Ties?
- "Great Scott, Uncle George! You're not thinking about getting married?" "Yes, confound you, I am thinking about getting married. And if your Aunt Agatha comes sticking her oar in, I'll... well, I'll know what to do about it."
- Jeeves reveals that Uncle George's intended, Miss Platt, is a waitress.
Bertie: Good Lord, well, how is Aunt Agatha going to take to this?
- Aunt Agatha hears the news.
Aunt Agatha: [to Bertie] I'm sorry to have to tell you that my brother has gone mad.
- Bertie has a rare attack of [[Genre Savvy genre savviness] when Aunt Agatha suggests bribing Miss Platt not to marry Uncle George.
Bertie: ...[W]henever people do that in books the girl gets the sympathy every time.[...]Aunt Agatha: What trash you do read, Bertie. I sometimes despair of you.Bertie: Well, I just think you're going to find it dashed embarrassing, offering this girl money.Aunt Agatha: I am not proposing to do any such thing. You will undertake the negotiations.
- "If it's not troubling you too much, Bertie, I should be greatly obliged if you would stop driveling!"
- After Uncle George switches his affections from Miss Platt to her aunt Mrs. Wilberforce, he decides to take Mrs. Wilberforce to meet Aunt Agatha. Jeeves promptly starts packing.
Jeeves: Now, perhaps you would like the change before the journey, sir. I thought you would drive down after lunch while I take the baggage by train.Bertie: What train? What journey? Why are we packing?Jeeves: Your uncle has taken Mrs. Wilberforce to meet Mrs. Gregson this afternoon, sir.Bertie: He's taken her to meet Aunt Agatha?Jeeves: I think perhaps if we were to leave the metropolis for a while, it might be expedient, sir.
- Bertie's perfectly innocent "Me? W-what have I done?" a few moments after he'd accidentally shot a chandelier off the ceiling with a hunting rifle.
- Whenever Jeeves shows disapproval on any of Bertie's (or Bertie's friends) crazy fashion statements. From a white Mess jacket with brass buttons to a tie with horseshoes on it to Bertie's mustache. Made even funnier with Stephen Fry's wonderful facial expressions.
- Particularly the moment where Rocky reveals that he "dresses" by throwing on a sweater over his pajamas:
Bertie: Don't listen, Jeeves!
Jeeves: [anguished sob]
- Particularly the moment where Rocky reveals that he "dresses" by throwing on a sweater over his pajamas:
- Jeeves convinces Aunt Agatha that she's seeing ghosts. 'Nuff said.
- The Running Gag where Stilton Cheesewright threatens to break Bertie's "rotten spine in three (then four, then five, then six) places!"
- Anytime they take the piss out of Roderick Spode and his "blackshorts".
- The first time we see Bertie kiss a girl, he basically just grabs her and starts making out with her cheek. And then her dad sees them...
- The show's first genuine slice of Ho Yay which comes completely out of nowhere, spoken by Jeeves Disguised in Drag:
Jeeves: Why are you men holding hands like that? Is that some sort of English custom?
- Bertie trying to enlist Jeeves to sing "Minnie the Moocher" with him in the pilot episode.
Jeeves: Hoo-dee hoo-dee hoo, sir.
- In the penultimate episode "Trouble at Totley Towers" when Gussie finally liberates himself from Madeleine Bassett, who's been making him eat a vegetarian diet.
Gussie: In that case, I am going to eat a ham sandwich!
- Bertie puts some whiskey in Gussie's orange juice to help calm his nerves before he gives a speech. Then he finds out Jeeves also did it, and they both look forward with identical Oh Crap! expressions.
"I should say, Fink-Nottle.""Well, of course you should, you silly ass!"