Daily Express, Friday, October 2, 1903

Poem 03 1

(Attribution uncertain)

  [The “Daily Mail,” while daily condemning Mr. Chamberlain, asks its readers for an unbiassed vote on his policy. Prizes are offered for the men or women who buy most copies of the paper and obtain votes which must be written on a form printed therein.] 2


Lo! the Parrot and its faction straight have blundered into action
  With a scheme to wreck the party whose behaviour they deplore;
It has cried to its supporters, aunts and uncles, sons and daughters:
  “Please to vote and win my prizes or—‘ Your food will cost you more.’ ”

And this parrot daily mailing does not check its daily wailing;
  Rather, squawks a little louder than it ever did before.
While its hearers vote, it waxes petulant on stomach taxes:
  “Vote for ‘Joe,’ and it is certain that—‘Your food will cost you more.’ ”

When you ask it: “Is it fair, now—is it really on the square, now—
  While the Freer Traders’ party 3 and its statements you ignore—
To expect unbiassed voting from the men to whom you’re quoting,
  With a silly repetition, that ‘Your food will cost you more’?”

It replies by calmly winking, just as if the bird was thinking
  That you’d asked it for its motto as a permanent encore;
For the scheme that it devises, with its politics and prizes,
  Is a plant to sell its paper—only that and nothing more. 4



This is the only poem in the series that did not appear on the front page of the Daily Express, having been displaced to page 4 by a large front-page illustration.


The Express had carried a report about this scheme on its front page a day earlier.


While the Cobden Club and the Liberal Party claimed to be the defenders of “free trade”, some of those who favoured retaliatory tariffs took to calling themselves “freer traders”. Their argument was that, because Britain alone refused to impose protectionist tariffs, the existing situation was one of “free imports”, not “free trade”, and that the imposition of retaliatory tariffs would force other countries to reasses their tariff regimes, leading to an overall increase in international trade, hence “freer trade”.


This is another allusion to Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven, the first stanza of which ends with the line “Only this, and nothing more.”