Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Mind like a box-room

I was reading something the other day which referred to the city of Callao in Peru. Instantly, and for no real reason my mind flitted off to a small snatch of verse that I remember from one of P G Wodehouse's books:

"On no petition/ Is extradition/ Allowed in Callao"

The book in question is 'The Gold Bat" but where the hell do the lines come from? Any assistance on this point would be gratefully accepted.

UPDATE: Hurrah! Problem solved thanks to a marvellously thorough (though unfortunately anonymous) commenter. Thankyou whoever you are...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could it be from the end of chapter 7?

Googling "on no petition is extradition" (quotes inlcuded) returns:

3:59 pm  
Blogger Tim J said...

Yes - but where does Wodehouse get it from? It looks like a quotation in the book...

6:10 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, sorry, I see what you're getting at now.

Wodehouse's The Gold Bat was published in 1904. The Wrecker, by Robert Louis Stevenson and his stepson Lloyd Osbourne, was published in 1892. Chapter 18 of The Wrecker has the words:

"On no condition is extradition Allowed in Callao!"

As in The Gold Bat, this appears to be a quotation.

The quotation also appears in W.B. Churchward's Blackbirding In The South Pacific (1888):

'I did not know then the Callao hymn, of which the chorus is - "On no condition is extradition allowed in Callao," - and was afraid that the police might nab me and send me back so I got away as far as I could into the country till the vessel left.'

Stephenson and Osbourne's The Ebb Tide (1894) contains another phrase that is almost exactly replicated in The Gold Bat:

'There's no extradition there,'

It’s perhaps not unlikely that Wodehouse had read Stevenson. From chapter 7 of The Gold Bat:

"What on earth do you mean?" inquired Barry.
"I was trying to make an A.B. case of it," explained Shoeblossom.
"What's an A.B. case?"
"I don't know," admitted Shoeblossom, frankly. "But it comes in a book of Stevenson's. I think it must mean a sort of case where you call everyone A. and B. and don't tell their names."

This may refer to Stevenson and Osbournes's The Wrong Box (1892) where we have:

"Indeed, the problem is really entertaining; it is one I have long contemplated in the light of an A. B. case..."

10:55 am  
Anonymous Bard Judith said...

"On no condition, is extradition,
Allowed in Callao." These same lines occur in "The Opal Serpent", an old novel available on Project Gutenberg. I have encountered it at least twice before in adventure novels of the same period within this very month, and 'third time pays for all' so I determined to track it down. It seems it was so well known a song at the time that no author needed...or quote it in full. Ah well, I shall persevere.

7:33 pm  

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