[It is reported from the Moscow Zoo that the elephant Marvrick has committed suicide at the ripe age of 115 years. He became morose and gloomy, refused all food, and finally starved himself to death. 1]


In the Moscow Zoo a rumour
Quickly spread from wolf to puma,
Causing even modest lions
To emit a dreadful roar,
For a Parrot fresh from London
Had declared they all were undone
Since in some surprising manner
Food would daily cost them more.”

Where the elephant was lunching,
Perched the bird and watched him munching,
While a sad commiseration
Was the look that Parrot wore;
Till at last he started yelling—
As the beast with buns was swelling,
Swelling in the plumpest manner—
Marvrick, food will cost you more.”

Facts defying, reason scorning,
Through the noon, the night, the morning,
Sat the wicked bird repeating
His suggestion o’er and o’er,
While poor Marvrick, growing thinner,
Dropt his breakfast, lunch, and dinner
In an economic terror,
Lest his food should cost him more.


And his sad extermination
Is a lesson to our nation
Of the folly of attending
To a troglodytish bore. 2
As the elephant diminished,
So will British trade be finished
If we listen to the Parrot
With his “Food will cost you more.”


The Washington Times carried a report about the sad fate of Marvrick the elephant in its issue of 23 November 1903:

The Moscow zoo has lost one of its chief attractions through the death of the elephant Marvrick, at the age of 115 years. The elephant was a gift of the Shah of Persion to the Emperor Alexander II, many years ago. The huge beast was until recently very docile, but two years ago he made an attempt to escape, and from that time was confined to the elephant house, where he became very morose, and at times exhibited great rage. Marvrick recently fell, and made no attempt to rise, also refusing food and drink, although choice morsels were placed before him. He literally starved himself to death.


This alludes to Chamberlain’s speech at Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 20 October, during which he said:

Really, if a man cannot see the difference between the state of things to-day and the state of things 30 years ago, or 60 years ago—well, it seems to me he ought not to call himself a Liberal or a Radical. He ought to call himself a Troglodyte and live in a cave.

The Daily Express carried a cartoon, "“Discovery of the Troglodytes”, in the same issue as this poem. The cartoon depicted Joseph Chamberlain as an explorer encountering his opponents, a group of cave-dwellers wearing animal skins.

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