[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. It was relegated to page 4, possibly because that day’s front page was given over almost entirely to a report on a major speech by the Prime Minister.


The Express had carried a report about this scheme on its front page a day earlier. Under the heading “Election by Coupon: An old friend in a new guise”, it explained that:

The man or woman who obtains and sends to our contemporary the longest list of votes for or against Mr Chamberlain and Mr Balfour [the Prime Minister] will receive a large sum in cash. Twenty-eight minor awards console the less successful.

It went on to comment that:

The idea is not particularly new. Such competitions may be found in many of the weekly publications of the firm which publishes the “Daily Mail”. Whether the plans which increase the circulation of “Comic Cuts” are best suited to the “Daily Mail” it must remain with their joint proprietor [Alfred Harmsworth] to decide.

And it concluded:

As a method of increasing circulation it is eminently desirable; as a test of the nation’s opinions it is utterly without value.


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”. For example, The Times of 22 September 1903 reported a speech by Sir William Hart Dyke MP, who was addressing voters at Rochester during a by-election campaign:

He could not understand why we should not have a weapon of some kind in our hand when we were negotiating with foreign countries. In advocating this he was more than a free-trader, because as things were at present we had not got anything like free trade. As compared with the Cobden Club he was a far freer trader.


This is another allusion to Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven (see poem 01 fn 01), the first stanza of which ends with the line “Only this, and nothing more.”

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