Daily Express, Monday, October 12, 1903

Poem 11

(Attribution uncertain)



  [“We must be careful to guard against causing resentment to the United States. The United States would punish Canada.”—Mr. Ritchie 1 at Croydon. 2]


From the hall where Mr. Ritchie
Spoke about the reason which he
Thought had caused the resignations
That the Cobden Club deplore,
I observed the Parrot flying,
And in mournful manner crying,
“We are certain to be punished,
And Your food will cost you more.”

“Hi! Come back,” I said, “and tell us
Who it is that will compel us
To abandon all our chances
British trading to restore?
Are we then a subject nation
That we act with hesitation?”
But the bird in bursts of sorrow
Stuttered, “Food will cost you more.”

“Were the Yanks apologising
While McKinley 3 was devising
Tariff walls to bar the exports
That we sent them before?
Did the Germans crawl before us
When their rising duties saw us
Crowded out? Did they go squawking
That ‘Your food will cost you more’?

“Do you fear that Squashville city 4
Will not hold our conduct pretty,
Or the Emp’ror of Sahara
Will declare a real war? 5
Do you hold that Kars or Joppa 6
Will not think our tariff proper?”
But the bird in words of terror
Cried “Your food will cost you more.”

“If the Empire should require it,
Do we care who don’t desire it
When the factories are humming
As they hummed in days of yore?”
But the bird continued sighing
And occasionally crying.
“I’m afraid, and so is Ritchie,
And Your food will cost you more!”



C. T. Ritchie (1838–1906) was a Conservative politician. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in Arthur Balfour’s government from July 1902 until September 1903, when he was forced to resign from the government, along with three other free traders, because he would not support Balfour’s proposals for retaliatory tariffs.


Ritchie made his remarks in Croydon on 9 October while addressing a meeting of his constituents to explain his views on the political situation.


William McKinley (1843–1901), 25th President of the United States (1897–1901), was closely associated with the use of tariffs as an instrument of protection.


There is no US city named Squashville. The name seems to have originated with the Canadian writer Thomas Chandler Haliburton (1796–1865) who used it in his book Sam Slick in England (1862) as a generic name for small rural towns.


This refers to Jacques Lebaudy (1868–1919), a French man-about-town, who had inherited a fortune of several million pounds from his father, a successful sugar refiner. In May 1903 Lebaudy landed on the coast of what is now southern Morocco, in an area that was only loosely under the control of the Sultan of Morocco, and declared himself “Emperor of the Sahara”.

Lebaudy visited London at the end of September 1903 (see poem 15).


Kars is a city and province in Turkey, Joppa (or Jaffa) is now part of the Israeli city of Tel Aviv–Yafo; in 1903, both were cities of the Ottoman empire.