Daily Express, Saturday, December 5, 1903

Poem 44

(Attribution uncertain) 1



  [The “Daily News,” 2 unabashed by the exposure of the falsehood in its “Zollverein and Free Trade Loaf” poster, 3 has issued a second equally untruthful placard to the effect that the present English loaf is three times the size of the German protection loaf. The “Express” has proved this to be a falsehood. 4]

Parrot paper—you whose morals
Are upset at warlike quarrels—
You who make parades of virtue
Which we feel the better for—
Can’t you fight your battle squarely?
Must you always play unfairly
In your efforts to establish
That “Our food will cost us more”?

Is your cause so weak and broken
That no way to you is open
Save the arguments of falsehood
And the lies we all deplore?
Not by means that rouse suspicion
Will you make the nation listen
To your shrieks of “Down with Joey!
Or your food will cost you more.”

Once a poster on each hoarding
You affixed, thereby affording
Mirth to see you lie so wildly
In anxiety to score.
But when Joe had criticised you, 5
When you found all men despised you,
You removed the picture falsehood
With its “Food will cost you more.”

Never was a plainer lesson
Taught to one whose retrogression
From the paths of honest dealing
Is a fact we all deplore.
Burn, good bird, your latest theory,
For your wriggles make us weary
As you struggle to convince us
That “Our food will cost us more.”



In McIlvaine’s P. G. Wodehouse: A Comprehensive Bibliography and Checklist, this poem is attributed to Wodehouse on the strength of an entry in the “PGW Account Book”. In fact, there is no such entry for this date and it is unlikely that it was written by Wodehouse.


See poem 23, note 4


See poem 23, note 2


On 11 December 1903, Sir William Harcourt made a speech at Tredegar in South Wales. The Times reported that “conspicuous objects on the platform were the German protection loaf at 1s 3d and the British free trade loaf at the same price, the latter being about as large again as the former”.


See poem 32, note 4