Daily Express, Thursday, October 1, 1903

Poem 02

(Attribution uncertain, but probably by B. Fletcher Robinson)

Where the newsboys shout and hustle, and the printers’ devils 1 bustle,
  You’ll find the Parrot perching on an editorial door.
Mournful leaders are his failing—all may hear his daily wailing, 2
  As he sobs in tearful accents that: “Your food will cost you more.”

When you talk of Steel Trust 3 dumping,4 he continues moping, mumping;
  When you mention Tariff barriers 5 it chills him to the core.
For his mind is microscopic, and he cannot grasp a topic
  Unconnected with his motto that: “Your food will cost you more.”

When you talk of “Joe” the worker, 6 “Joe” who never was a shirker,
  Setting out to do his duty as he oft has done before,
Flapping wildly he decries him, with his parrot cries defies him,
  Screaming wildly in rejoinder that: “Your food will cost you more.”

Thus the Parrot still addressing, in a manner most depressing,
  Silly folks who care to listen to his reasons crude and raw,
Proves as plain as words can tell ’e that his god is in his belly,
  And with him there’s no salvation if “Your food will cost you more.”



A printer’s devil was an errand boy or junior apprentice in a printing establishment.


The next poem confirms that this is probably a play on the name of the Daily Mail.


The “Steel Trusts” were monopolistic iron and steel businesses, especially the U.S. Steel Corporation and the Stahlwerke Verbund of Dusseldorf (German Steel Trust).


“Dumping” is the practice of selling goods in a foreign market at a lower price than the one prevailing in the home market. Especially in the US, a decline in demand for steel products had left the steel producers with surplus capacity, which meant that they could afford to sell in Britain at prices below the full cost of production.


Because successive British governments had pursued a free trade policy, there were no tariff barriers to protect British manufacturers from cheap imports. But when it came to exporting their goods, British producers faced prohibitive tariff barriers in most of their potential markets.


When Chamberlain returned from South Africa in mid-March 1903, the Daily Express published a poem entitled “A Welcome to Joseph Chamberlain (From a Man in the Crowd)”, which include the lines:

 That’s the way with Joe, the worker—
  Joe who precious straight ’as run—
 Joe, wot ’ates the snob and shirker—

The poem was signed “B.F.R.”—Bertram Fletcher Robinson.