When Max was sixteen, his half brother Julius, who was then twice his age, had taken him to dinner at the Cafe Royal and then to his first music hall, the Pavilion, to hear The Great Macdermott — "a huge old burly fellow, with a yellow wig and a vast expanse of crumpled shirt-front that had in the middle of it a very large, not very real diamond stud." It was at a moment of anti-Russian tension, because of repressive measures taken by the Czar against the Nihilists, and The Great Macdermott, it appeared, had had an interview with the Prime Minister about it. This was odd — as if Eisenhower were to consult Jimmy Durante about certain Russian tensions now — but it was so. Macdermott, Max says, did not regard the interview as confidential. He sang about it the night Max first heard him:

'What would you like to do. My Lord?'
I asked Lord Salisburee."

Fond of tracing words to their sources. Max remembered that the word "jingo," as a symbol of effervescent patriotism, had been introduced in a music-hall song by this same Macdermott. [p. 155]


Behrman, S. N. Portrait of Max: An Intimate Memoir of Sir Max Beerbohm. New York: Random House, 1960.

Last modified 9 May 2008