From my notebooks: The Oxford Book of Oxford

~edited by Jan Morris

Lancelot Phelps, as Provost, had devised a technique for cutting short undergraduates’ visits:

He would lead the conversation towards some athletic topic, from this to the games field, and from this to the subject of badgers–which he would aver, quite baselessly, to have established a set endangering the cricket pitch. He would then recall Sir Thomas Brown’s holding in debate whether or not badgers have longer legs on one side than the other, this the more readily to scamper round hills. Next, he would suddenly recall that a portrait of a badger hung somewhere in the Lodging, from which the truth of this matter might conceivably be verified. The picture would be located after a walk through the ramifying house; the badger would be seen to be equipped as other quadrupeds are; and then one would discover that the picture hung beside the Provost’s front door, which stood open before one.


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