Saturday, July 6, 2013

"By Advice of Counsel" (short story)

By Advice of Counsel

Publication notes: First appeared in the United Kingdom in the July 1910 issue of The Strand Magazine and subsequently in the United States in the September 1910 issue of Pictorial Review. It was published in book form as part of The Man Upstairs collection in 1914 by Methuen & Co.

  • Lord Percy
  • Wodehouse didn’t choose the existing expression ‘Lord Muck’ for an ordinary man with aristocratic pretensions, perhaps because it was too earthy for him, or perhaps because it was too well-worn. But why Percy? It seems that Wodehouse associated the name with the aristocratically ridiculous (cf. Percy FitzMoatygrange, Lord Percy Whipple, and most particularly the reference to Lord Percy Something in the 1917 short story ‘Jeeves and the Hard-boiled Egg’ and perhaps also Sir Percival Something in "Something to Worry About").
    It is just barely possible that Percy (as a surname rather than a given name) holds this association for Wodehouse because of the title Baron Percy, one of a very few baronies created by error—in this case, in 1722. Therefore the term here may refer to someone who believes himself entitled to preferential treatment but who is not a ‘real’ lord. On the other hand, it may be a sarcastic use of the name of someone generally admired as worthy of preferential treatment—such as General Lord Henry Hugh Manvers Percy, VC, KCB (1817–1877)—to refer to someone much less worthy.
  • In this restawrong
  • Jack Roach (the waiter)'s rendition of the French pronunciation of restaurant.
  • Reckless Rudolf
  • I take this to be the sort of name used in popular entertainment such as music hall sketches, melodramas, Punch cartoons, or possibly even advertisements. Not to be confused with Sensible Sam's nemesis Reckless Rudolph, both of the 1936 American driving safety film “We Drivers”, not that anyone ever would.
  • a Wellington nose
  • That is to say, a long or large nose—comically so, in the case of a parrot—presumably after Field Marshall Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington (1769–1852), whose nicknames included ‘Old Nosey’ and ‘the Iron Duke’. I am unable to cite a formal definition, but note that the term was used by Virginia Woolf in her 1922 novel Jacob's Room. The phrase's earliest recorded use may be the 1833 entry from the journal of Jane Maria Barlow, whose description of the 26-year-old Marquis of Douro reads in part ‘he is handsome, between dark and fair with a Wellington nose’. This comment is perhaps not to be wondered at given that the Marquis of Douro is better known as Major (later Lieutenant-General) Arthur Richard Wellesley, later second Duke of Wellington—that is, the eldest son of the Iron Duke.

2 comments:

  1. The American version of "By Advice of Counsel" from Pictorial Review is now available at Madame Eulalie:
    http://madameulalie.org/pictrev/By_Advice_of_Counsel-PR.html

    It's pretty clear to me that this is closer to Wodehouse's original text than the familiar version in the Strand magazine and The Man Upstairs. At the link above, the significant differences between the American text and the British text are highlighted with "dynamic footnotes" -- see the end notes of that page for an explanation of how they work.

    Great job on the annotations in this blog post!
    -Neil

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    Replies
    1. Anyone who wants to read an excellent annotation on "the King of Denmark," which I am embarrassed to say I missed entirely, should definitely follow the link to the American version and its dynamic footnotes.

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