Daily Chronicle, March 23, 1903

1 (The “Tailor and Cutter” suggests that a sartorial professor be appointed at Oxford, and correct dressing taught as a regular subject.)

Oh, I’m not what you’d call a ripe scholar.
 At Latin, I own, I don’t shine.
While Greek merely rouses my choler,
 It’s not my particular line;
I can’t understand mathematics,
 Their beauty I quite fail to see,
Whether simple addition or statics;
 But I fancy I’ll get my degree.

I quaff the convivial pewter,
 Play cricket, and go to the boats.
When I go—once a term—to my tutor,
 I seldom, if ever, take notes.
Then, of course, there is Bridge after dinner—
 We play from eight-thirty till three.
(I’m a very occasional winner):
 But I fancy I’ll get my degree.

My tailor is pressing for payment—
 I tear up his bills with a sigh—
And meanwhile, in beautiful raiment,
 I stroll in the Broad and the High.
In that line, I don’t mind confessing,
 There has never been much wrong with me.
If a fellow can do it by dressing,
 I fancy I’ll get my degree.

For, if I’m but garbed as is proper,
 If I don’t wear a “bowler” with tails,
If my notion of sporting a “topper”
 With praise the examiner hails,
If there’s nothing much wrong with my trousers,
 If my waistcoat is all it should be,
I shall not stand a chance of a plough, sirs.
 Yes, I fancy I’ll get my degree.

P. G. W. 




“Sartorial Professor Needed at Oxford. Our friend the ‘Tailor and Cutter,’ having lectured our Parliamentarians till he was able to record a general improvement in their attire, has now turned his attention to Oxford undergraduates, who apparently badly need a ‘dressing.’ This is what he says of them: ‘The vagaries of fashion seldom find more eccentric expression than are to be seen in the dress of the University men at Oxford. If these ridiculous customers continue, the University will have to appoint a sartorial professor to lecture the undergraduates on dressing as gentlemen.’ ” (Falkirk Herald, March 25, 1903)
Tailor and Cutter and Outfitting News is a longstanding London paper (founded 1866) of interest to tailors, clothiers and outfitters. It contained “sartorial interviews with well-known people and local trade news.” The paper was scandalized in 1925 by losing the famous feature article What the Well-Dressed Man Is Wearing to rival publication Milady’s Boudoir.

John Dawson    

Wodehouse entered this poem under the title of “His Pet Subject” in Money Received for Literary Work, and that is how it is indexed in the McIlvaine bibliography, but it appeared in the Daily Chronicle as shown here.

plough: University slang for failing one’s examinations