The Books of To-day and the Books of To-morrow, October 1904


(A younger son of an old English family has founded an ‘American Debrett,’ in which any citizen who cares to pay £10 can have his pedigree traced for him.)

I ’M just a young fellow, you know,
A mere impecunious cadet,
But my brain is the cutest,
Most slick and astutest:
I’ve founded a Yankee Debrett.
If only the man of the States
The price that I ask can afford,
I make it my mission
To raise his condition
To that of a duke or a lord.

A twang I consider no sort of a bar
In a newly-made peer of to-day:
It really don’t matter a bit what you are,
If only you’re willing to pay.

Oh, I am the popular man:
The broker who brokes in New York,
The man from St. Louis,
The gentleman who is
Engaged in the packing of pork,
The dweller in distant Oshkosh,
They all try to cultivate me:
They know I’m the chappie
To make them all happy
By finding a long pedigree.

They seek me from near, and they seek me from far.
I rope in a dozen a day.
It really don’t matter a bit what they are,
If only they’re willing to pay.

If you happen to visit the land
In a decade or possibly less,
You’ll find that a title
Is reckoned as vital
In matters of social success:
And you’ll find if you go there again
At the end of a score, say, of years,
The whole population
That makes up the nation,
Will then be exclusively peers.

But numbers, I feel, such a scheme cannot mar,
And so, I imagine, do they:
It really don’t matter how many there are,
So long as they’re willing to pay.



Printed unsigned; entered by Wodehouse in Money Received for Literary Work.