Read PART I - WHY IS THE GLOBE? of This Giddy Globe , free online book, by Oliver Herford, on


    Six busy days it took in all
    To make a World and plan its fall,
    The seventh, SOMEONE said ’twas good
    And rested, should you think he could?
    Knowing what the result would be
    There would have been no rest for me!
                         Claire Beecher Kummer.

It takes much longer to write a Geography than, according to Moses, it took to create the World which it is the Geographer’s business to describe; and since the Critic has been added to the list of created beings, it is no longer the fashion for the Author to pass judgment on his own work.

Let us imagine, however, that concealed in the cargo of Hypothetic Nebula destined for the construction of the Terrestrial Globe was a Protoplasmic Stowaway that sprang to being in the shape of a Critic just as the work of Creation was finished.

Would it not be interesting to speculate upon that Critic’s reception of the freshly made World?

We may be sure that he would have found many things not to his liking; technical defects such as the treatment of grass and foliage in green instead of the proper purple; the tinting of the sky which any landscape painter will tell you would be more decorative done in turquoise green than cobalt blue.

Like the foolish Butterfly in the Talmud, who (to impress Mrs. Butterfly) stamped his tiny foot upon the dome of King Solomon’s Temple, our Critic might have declared the World “Too flimsy in construction.”  He would certainly have found fault with the Solar System and the Plumbing — the absence of heat in Winter when there is the greater need of it and the paucity of moisture in the desert places where it never rains.

The comicality of the Ape family might have provoked a reluctant smile, but much more likely a lecture on the impropriety of descending to caricature in a serious work.

THE YEAR I 1st Sunday 1st Wednesday 1st Monday 1st Thursday 1st Tuesday 1st Friday]

At best, our Critic would have pronounced the freshly made World the work of a beginner, conceding perhaps that he “showed promise” and “might go far,” and if he wished to be very impressive indeed, he would pretend that he had penetrated the veil of Anonymity and hint darkly that he detected evident traces of a Feminine Touch!

In that, however, our Critic would only have been anticipating, for is there not at this very moment on the press a Suffrage edition (for women only) of the Rubaiyat, in which one verse is amended to read thus —

The ball no question makes of Ayes or Nos, But right or left, as strikes the Player goes, And SHE who tossed it down into the field, SHE knows about it all, SHE knows, SHE knows!



For the Reader Only


This is for you, and you only.  We have concealed it between chapters one and two so that it will not meet any eye but yours.

We have a confession to make — it would be useless to attempt concealment — we have the Digression habit.

We have tried every known remedy but we fear it is incurable.

All we ask, Gentle Reader, is that when we stray too far you will favour us with a gentle reminder.


It is a long jump from Moses, the author of the first work on Geography, to Peter Simple.

When the acrobatic reader has fetched his breath and looks back at the fearsome list of Geographers he has skipped — Strabo, Anaximander, Hecatoeus, Demoeritus, Eudoxus, Ephorus, Dicoearchus, Erastothenes, Polybius, Posidonius and Charles F. King, — he may well be thankful to find he has fallen upon his feet.

The Geographer’s task is endless.

The Planet he endeavours to portray is perpetually changing its appearance.  After thousands and thousands of years, it is no nearer completion than it was in the beginning.

The Sea with its white teeth bites the edges of the continents into new shapes, as a child bites the edges of a biscuit.  The glaciers file away the mountains into valleys and plains.  Beneath the ocean busy insects are building the foundations of new continents and, under the earth, Fiery Demons are ready at all times to burst forth and help to destroy the old ones.

It really begins to look as if this Planet would never be finished.

In the first chapter of his geography, Moses tells us there were only two people in the world.

Today we are preparing to put up the “standing room only” notice.  In another thousand years, for aught we know, the earth may be going round dark and tenantless and bearing the sign “To Let.”  What does it matter to us?  What are we but microscopic weevils in the mouldy crust of earth?  Sufficient unto the day is the weevil thereof.


Men of Science, who delight in applying harsh terms to things that cannot talk back, have called this Giddy Globe an Oblate Spheroid.

Francis Bacon called it a Bubble; Shakespeare, an Oyster; Rossetti, a Midge; and W. S. Gilbert addresses it familiarly as a Ball —

    Roll on, thou ball, roll on!
    Through pathless realms of Space
          Roll on!
    What though I’m in a sorry case?
    What though I cannot meet my bills?
    What though I suffer toothache’s ills?
    What though I swallow countless pills?
          Never you mind
          Roll on!
                (It rolls on.)

But these people belong to a privileged class that is encouraged (even paid) to distort the language, and they must not be taken too literally.

The Giddy Globe is really quite large, not to say obese.

Her waist measurement is no less than twenty-five thousand miles.  In the hope of reducing it, the earth takes unceasing and violent exercise, but though she spins round on one toe at the rate of a thousand miles an hour every day, and round the sun once a year, she does not succeed in taking off a single mile or keeping even comfortably warm all over.

No wonder the globe is giddy!


Explain the Nebular Hypothesis.

State briefly the electromagnetical constituents of the Aurora Borealis, and explain their relation to the Hertzian Waves.

Define the difference between the Hertzian Wave and the Marcel Wave.


What is the Earth for?  Nobody knows.  Some say the Earth was made to supply the wants of Man, but as Man is part and parcel of the Earth herself, dust of her dust, mould of her mould, it does not answer the question.

 Owing to the high price of living the cow was partially eaten by the
 author before the photograph could be taken.]

To be sure the Earth produces the Tobacco Plant, and many other things that we classify among the needs of Man, including the “Friendly Cow” —

    She walks among the flowers sweet
      And chews and chews and chews,
    And turns them into friendly meat,
      And pleasant boots and shoes.

But the “Friendly Cow” may in her secret heart regard the classification as anything but friendly.  For all we know, in the hidden scheme of Creation, the Cow may herself be the subject for ultimate evolution into the Perfect Being, and Man (to reverse Darwin), descending through the Ape to ever lower planes, only a discarded experiment.

And the Tobacco Plant?  In the course of time there may be no Tobacco Plant.

Should the American People be again tempted to wage a World War for Freedom, they may find on their return that the Tobacco Plants have gone to join the Grape Vines of California!

Our only hope will then be that smoking is permitted in Hea —

The Author is digressing.
The Reader.


What is “Friendship"?

Why is the Cow “friendly"?

Is the Oyster friendly?

When Prohibition is applied to tobacco will cigars containing less than one-half of one per cent tobacco be permitted?


The Earth is self-centred.  Poised on an imaginary toe, she pirouettes round her self-centre, at the rate of over a thousand miles an hour.

We say imaginary toe because the Earth, owing to the enormous size of her waist, has never been able to see it.

To anyone with a waist measurement of twenty-five thousand miles the very existence of toes is purely problematical.

To wear an actual belt round a waist of such dimensions would be impossible even if it could be of any use.  Instead, therefore, the Earth wears round her middle an imaginary line called the Equator.

To give this imaginary belt some excuse for existence we have depicted the Earth in an imaginary ballet skirt, which without in any way hampering her movements complies with the strict regulations pertaining to feminine attire.

Being self-centred, the Earth has naturally an exaggerated sense of self-esteem.

Other Spheres of equal or greater importance are referred to as “Luminaries” and supposed to exist chiefly for the purpose of furnishing light when the Sun and Moon are otherwise engaged.

    Oh would some Power the giftie gie her
    To see, as other Planets see her!


Can an imaginary line be said to exist?

If not, why does it need an excuse for existence?


Matter-of-fact Geologists speak of the Earth’s Crust as if there were only one Crust.

Thoughtful people (like ourselves) who can read between imaginary lines, know that there are (as in a pie) two Crusts, the Upper Crust and the Under Crust.

The Upper Crust is pleasantly situated on the top and is rich and agreeable and much sought after.

The Under Crust is soggy and disagreeable.  The only apparent reason for its existence is to hold up the Upper Crust.

To quote the eminent Nonsensologist Gelett Burgess —

    The Upper Crust is light as snow
      And gay with sugar-rime;
    The Under Crust must stay below,
      It has a horrid time.

When in the course of time the Upper Crust becomes too rich and heavy for the popular taste, the Social Pie flops over and the Under Crust becomes the Upper Crust.

These periodic flip-flops of the Social Pie are called Revolutions.

You would think that a Revolving Pie would be a disturbing thing to have in one’s system, but the Giddy Globe doesn’t seem to mind it in the least.

Balanced on an imaginary toe, she continues to pirouette at the rate of a thousand miles an hour, just as if nothing were the matter.

The latest specimen of Acrobatic Pastry is after a Russian recipe.

The Bolshevik Pie has no Upper Crust at all and is declared by the leading Chefs of Europe to be unfit for human consumption, but the proof of the Pie is in the eating, how would you like to try just a —

Take it away, or we won’t
read another word!
The Reader.

Oh, very well!  We never did care much for pie anyway, not even for breakfast.


In spite of incessant and violent exercise, the Giddy Globe (as we have remarked before) is unable to keep comfortably warm all over.

Her Temperature varies from intense cold at her upper and lower extremities to fever heat in the region of her equatorial diaphragm.

Ancient Geographers indicated these variations of temperature by means of Zones.

The Term Zone is derived from the Greek word [Greek:  zone] a Belt or Girdle, and a Girdle in the days of the First Geography Book was the principal (if not the only) garment of a well dressed person.

Today, however, the Girdle is no longer accepted as a complete costume.

No modern Costumer would countenance such a “model,” it would be too easy to copy and consequently unprofitable.

Even the “Knee-plus-ultra” of Newport or Palm Beach Society would hesitate to pose for the Sunday Supplement Photographer in a one-piece Bathing Girdle.

You might explore the World of Dress, from the Land of the Midnight Follies to the Uttermost parts of Greenwich Village and find nothing exactly like it.

It is on its way, to be sure, but it will never be fashionable until —

    The two extremes of decollete
      Of Ballroom and of Bathing Beach
    Here meet in a bewildering way
      And mingle all the charms of each.

Why, then, in this up-to-date Geography Book, should we depict the Giddy Globe in an obsolete hoop skirt of imaginary Zones?

In striving to answer the question, we have hit upon a pleasing compromise.

At least it is up-to-date.

A. and E. are the two extremities of the Giddy Globe, which are quite bare.

They correspond to the Frigid Zones.

C. is the Corset, which being hot and uncomfortable corresponds to the

D. is — that is to say are —

Pardon us for interrupting — but
we thought this was to be a
geography book.
The Reader.


Some people are sensitive about their ages.  The Giddy Globe has never told us hers.

Rude men of science, after careful examination, declare she can’t be a day under five billion years old.

Theologians, ever tactful in feminine matters, set her down as a shrinking young thing of barely four thousand summers.

Real delicacy of feeling goes with the bulging tum rather than with the bulging forehead; who ever saw a thin Bishop or a fat man of science!

Happy the man with the bulging Tum, Who smiles and smiles and is never glum! — But alas for the man with the bulging brow, If he wanted to smile, he wouldn’t know how!

If the Giddy Globe asked us to guess her age, we should say, without a moment’s hesitation, “Whatever it is you certainly don’t look it!”

Astronomers may say what they like, a Planet is as old as it looks, especially if it is a Lady-Planet, and we have seen ours when she didn’t look a June day over sixteen! and, not having a bulging forehead, we told her so!

Astronomers think themselves so wise, but what do they know about the sex of the Planets?

With the exception of Mother Earth and old Sol Phoebus, — nothing!

If you asked an Astronomer whether the Pleiad girls were really the daughters of Atlas, or what Jupiter was doing with eight Moons (if they were Moons), he would think you were trifling with him.

But is it not possible that the old Greek tales were the garbled gossip of an age-forgotten science of which we have only the A.B.C.?

If it is Love that makes the world go round (and who can prove that it isn’t?), what makes the other Planets go round?

How about the movements of the Heavenly Bodies?

How about —

This is all very interesting,
but don’t you think perhaps
it is —
The Reader.

Quite right!  Quite right! how we do run on!


There are no good photographs of the Giddy Globe; she refuses to sit.

Imagine attempting to photograph an obese and flighty Spheroid who spends her time pirouetting round in a circle with all her might and main.

Perhaps it is to avoid the photographer that the Earth spins, and not merely to reduce her girth as we hinted elsewhere.

In these days such a strenuous evasion of publicity is suspicious.

Where does she come from?

Where is she going?

She refuses to answer, she will not even state her business or tell her real name.

For aeons (quite a number of aeons) this Giddy one has been going round under various male and female aliases such as — Cosmos, Mother Earth, The World, Mrs. Grundy, the Footstool, the Terrestrial Globe.

If you look up her record you will find the following press notices —

 “The Earth’s a thief.” 
          Timon of Athens.

 “Earth’s bitter.” 

 “This distracted Globe.” 

 “This tough World.” 
          King Lear.

 “Naughty World.” 
          Merchant of Venice.

 “This World is given to Lying.” 
          Henry IV.

 “The World is too much with us.” 

 “The World is grown so bad.” 
          Richard III.

 “The narrow World.” 
          Julius Cæsar.

 “The World is not thy friend.” 
          Romeo and Juliet.

 “The World’s a bubble.” 

 “This World is all a fleeting show.” 

 “The World was not worthy.” 
          St. Paul.

 “The World’s a tragedy.” 
          Horace Walpole.

 “This bleak World.” 

 “The weary weight of all this unintelligible World.” 

 “A World of vile ill-favoured faults.” 
          Merry Wives of Windsor.

 “Stale, flat and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this World.” 

 “This dim spot that men call Earth.” 

 “The wicked World.” 
          W. S. Gilbert.

It is possible that the Giddy Globe has read the above clippings and, realizing that she has been discovered, spins round with all her might to avoid being photographed for the Rogues’ Gallery of the Universe.

Appearances are certainly against her.

When I am moved to contemplate
The rude and unregenerate state
Of that rampageous reprobate
The World at large,
And as I mark its stony phiz
And see it whoop and whirl and whiz,
I can but cry — O Lord, why is
The World at large?


Climate is a Theory.  Weather is a condition.

Or, to make it clearer to the reader, Climate is a Hypothesis and Weather is a Reductio ad Absurdum.  This explains why it invariably snows for the first time in years whenever one goes to California.

What is the Weather for?

Everything in Nature is designed to contribute to the needs or pleasures of Mankind.

From the tree of the forest we get the wood from which the nutmeg is made, the wood-alcohol for our Scotch high-ball and the pulp for our newspaper, which, in turn, is transmuted to leather for the soles of our soldiers’ boots.

From the sands of the sea we make sugar for sweetening our coffee — that mysterious beverage, the secret of whose manufacture has never been revealed.

From the cotton plant comes the woolen under-garment and the soldier’s blanket.

From the lowly cabbage springs the Havana Perfecto, with its gold and crimson band, and from the simple turnip is distilled the golden champagne, without which so many lives will now be empty.

Even the humble straw has its uses — to indicate the trend of the air current and for the stuffing of the life-preserver.

What then is the use of the Weather?

Supposing you have made a globe and put some people upon it to live. 
What would you do to make them feel at home?

You would give them something to talk about.

Just so — the Weather was designed to furnish a universal topic of conversation for Man.

Without the Weather, 999,999 out of 1,000,000 conversations would die in their infancy.

In the first geography book we learn from Moses how and of what the Weather was made.

Since then, nothing has been so much talked about as the Weather, and in nothing has so little advance been made.


Is it notoriety that makes the Weather-Vane?

Where does the Winter-Resort in Summer?  And why?

How many litres of champagne can be extracted from the cube-root of one turnip?

What did the Weather do to get herself so talked about?


The terrestrial Globe is pleasingly tinted in blue, pink, yellow and green.

The blue portion is called Water and is inhabited by oysters, clams, submarines, lobsters and turtles, besides delightful schools of fishes and whales.

The pink, yellow and green portions are called Land and are alive with human beings and other animals and vegetables.

Besides the animals and vegetables there are mountains, table-lands, rivers, forests and lakes.

In former times mountains were used as protective barriers.  Today they serve as monuments to Public Men for whom they are named (See Presidential Range), and country seats for retired Grocers and Fishmongers.

Rivers are the most curious and interesting form of Water.

Though seldom as shallow, they are as lengthy and involved as Congressional speeches, and have to be curled into the most ludicrous shapes to get them into the countries where they belong.

The first thing a river does after rising is to betake itself as fast as it can to the nearest River-Bed, in which it remains for the rest of its days.

The largest river in the world is the Amazon, named after the single-breasted suffragette of ancient times.


How many rivers can get into one river-bed?

Why is a Congressman?

    When Noah saw the flood subside,
    “The world is going dry!” he cried,
    “So let us all, without delay,
    Fill up against a drouthy day.”


In the first geography we are told of a young married couple who were cast into the world for a pomological error on their part, about 4000 B.C.

Some seventeen centuries later, the world was lost sight of in a deluge.

It was re-discovered by a navigator named Noah who, though barely six hundred years old, was the commander of a sea-going menagerie.

Commander Noah, after cruising about for twelve months and ten days, landed from his zooelogical water-wagon upon a precipitous Asiatic Jag called Ararat on the twenty-seventh of February, 2300 B.C.


The term “Habitable Globe” was doubtless invented by some Celestial Humorist who had never visited this planet.

People live on it, to be sure, but they have no choice.  There is nowhere else to live.

The Giddy Globe ...

Isn’t it about time to drop this
personal simile?
The Reader.

...  Quite so.  Suppose we consider the Globe as an Apartment House.

We are told it was finished in six days.  No wonder it is faultily constructed.

The Heating Apparatus is out of date.  The apartments nearest to the Radiator are insufferably hot, those farthest away unbearably cold, and those between too changeable for comfort.

The Water Supply is unreliable.  In some apartments, great numbers perish every year from thirst.

In the cellar there is a munition factory where, in defiance of regulations, there are stored High Explosives.  These blow up from time to time, causing great damage and loss of life among the tenants.

The janitor is a disobliging old person who has been there since the house was started and holds his job, in spite of incessant complaints.  When asked to hurry, he fairly crawls and, when people want him most to stay, nothing can stop him.

His name is Tempus.


The first tenants (as before stated) were a young couple who had been compelled to leave a more luxurious apartment because children were not allowed, though animals of all kinds, even snakes, were tolerated.

On the whole, the Globe is anything but a model Apartment House.  Each family considers itself the only respectable one in the building and they are constantly squabbling for the possession of the most desirable rooms.

The tenants of the different stories, originally of one colour, have been tanned according to their proximity to the Solar Stove.  They come in five shades of fast colours — Black, Brown, Yellow, Red and White, — the White being farthest away from the Stove.

There are also some brighter colours, which are not guaranteed, — varying from the chromatic discord of the post-impressionist Savage to the delicate rose-pink of the Perfect Lady.

This last is the most delectable of all — but, alas, it is the one that fades most quickly.


All the Families agree that the tenants of the Globe should be of one uniform shade.

Each Family, however, thinks that his own particular shade is the only fitting one for the Perfect Human Being.

To that end he spends a large part of his time in scheming how to get rid of all the other tints.

All of which is a great waste of centuries!  Old Tempus the Janitor has always settled the Tint question with his Solar Stove and always will.

A week at the seashore in August ought to convince anyone of the efficiency of the Solar Tint Factory.  In the tan of the surf bather is locked up the secret of Race Colouration.

And yet there are some Great and Wise Ones who believe that Civilization (with the assistance of Mr. Marconi and Mr. Rolls H. Royce and a few others) will bring the Race Families into such close relationship that they will eventually be all blended into one harmonious Neutral Tint!

A pale mauve World!  One tint, one religion, one food, one dress, one Drink, one everything.

How appalling!  And think of the moment when it is to be decided once and forever which it is to be — Blonde or Brunette!

Oh those Wise and Great Ones!


The best definition of Government may be found in Wordsworth’s lines: 

              "The simple plan
    That they should take who have the power
    And they should keep who can."

In every community on Earth, the strongest, the craftiest or the wealthiest of the male inhabitants conspire to compel their weaker, stupider or poorer brothers and sisters to pay them for the privilege of remaining on earth.

Government by the Strongest is called an Absolute Monarchy.

Government by the Craftiest, a Limited Monarchy.

Government by the Wealthiest, a Republic.

In an Absolute Monarchy, the People are Controlled.

In a Limited Monarchy, they are Cajoled.

In a Republic, they are Sold.

For the successful operation of Limited Monarchies and Republics, it is necessary to delude the Common People into the belief that they are managing their own affairs.

This is accomplished by means of a House of Lords, Congress, Chamber of
Deputies, Diet, Cortes, Assembly, Soviet, Etc.

These merry contrivances are designed on the principle of the revolving squirrel-cage, furnishing harmless exercise without progression.


Q.  What is a Constitution?

A.  A concession to Liberty enabling her to talk herself to death.

Q.  What is the essential difference between one government and another?

A.  The price of life.


According to Moses, the First Geographer, Immorality is an heirloom handed down to us by our First Parents.

Men of Science, on the other hand, declare it to be merely the psycho-neurotic reaction of climatic environment on the celliferous organism.

In other words, Vice is nothing more than Virtue outside of its natural geographical latitude.

This is clearly set forth in the accompanying Moral Map of the World in which the familiar idiosyncrasies of Mankind which we are wont to differentiate as Virtues or Vices are shown for the first time in their proper geographical environment.

(See Moral Map of the World.)