“It was the practice of Lord Ickenharm, when visiting a country house to look about him, before doing anything else, for a hammock to which he could withdraw after breakfast and lie thinking in deep thoughts. Though, like Abou ben Adhem (from Leigh Hunt) a man who loved his fellow men, he made it an invariable rule to avoid them after the morning meal with an iron firmness, for at that delectable hour he wished to be alone to meditate.”
This Blandings book is my first encounter with Uncle Fred (the Earl of Ickenharm) for I still haven’t got myself a copy of Uncle Fred in the Springtime. Service with a Smile contains pocketful of lies and, reading the first page of the biographical profile on Wodehouse, I surmise he was in his 80 odd years, still so levelheaded to the utmost degree, and every lie and conspiracy is invincible and convoluted indeed. If I were Duke of Dunstable, Lady Constance, Lord Emsworth, Lord Tilbury, and Archibald, every detail Uncle Fred contrives to compose would I be so gullible.
For Uncle Fred has concocted and schemed many whirlwind details in his head, not fewer then twice has his guardian angel appeared to him when lying on the hammock,
- “There had been a moment when his guardian angel, who liked him to draw the line somewhere, had shown a disposition to become critical of his recent activities, whispering in his ear that he ought not to have…”
- “He nestled into the vacated hammock, and was in the process of explaining to his guardian angel, who had once more become critical, that there is no harm in deviating from the truth a little…”
Apart from that, I found there are bountiful bits of fate concerned here, but somewhat every character is getting devout and spiritual in the novel as well! As you could see from the title, “Service with a Smile”, says a lot already! First of all, never have I realised Lord Emsworth is a member of Freemason (stated by his grandson George), though he somehow attacked the Church Lads when agitated by their mischievous deeds; secondly Duke of Dunstable, curious as a cat and irritable like Edwin the boy scout, has himself resonated and linked to the idea of Providence (p. 191) rather than fate for his fortune and luck; thirdly, the rich infiltration of Church Lads sprawling and in a tent of the Blandings Castle (messuage of Lord Emsworth); last but not least, another character named Bill Bailey (incognito Cuthbert Meriweather) is a much respected curate who gives service in Bottleton East (girls in the 19th century would be so inclined with this clergyman with the stature like a military officer),
“A captious critic might have felt on seeing the Rev Cuthbert that it would have been more suitable for one in holy orders to have looked a little less like the logical contender for the world’s heavy-weight championship, but it was impossible to regard his rugged features and bulging shoulders without an immediate feeling of awe.” (one of my favourite lines of the Book 🙂 ! Cuthbert was also name of a saint with historical background as well.)
Apart from that, comparing Archibald’s engagement with polygamy of Brigham Young is quite an innovative one.
In this case, this Blandings book and very enriching and spiritual which exacts my taste, and through it I hope to know some information regarding the motives and religious background of Wodehouse when he was writing this masterpiece in his time. It is interesting when I overlook the farce and miseries each character incurs, and delve into this spiritual world of Wodehouse in Service with a Smile! More highlighting and note jotting on the way, which has sent me to cloud nine already!