Daily Express, Tuesday, November 10, 1903

Poem 36

(Attribution uncertain)



  [“Agriculture is crippled. Education, where is it? The unemployed are a blot on our social system. We do not want fiscal reform; we want commercial repose.”—Lord Rosebery at Leicester. 1]


I observed the Parrot dozing,
And his manner of reposing
Proved he’d read the speech at Leicester
By the Public Orator. 2
Yet his beak kept softly swaying
Just as if the bird were saying,
In his sleep, his ancient motto
That “Your food will cost you more!

“When the Yanks,” I cried, “are hustling,
When the German firms are bustling,
When we’re putting up our shutters
And they’re closing up each door,
When the clatter of their dumping
Sets our British workmen mumping,
Is it right to plunge in slumber,
Dreaming ‘Food will cost you more’?

“We have heard his lordship’s wailings
Over education’s failings,
Over poverty and squalor—
All the evils we deplore.
It were better now he gave us
Some solution that will save us
Than to go on vaguely talking
That ‘Your food will cost you more.’ ”

But the Parrot, without waking,
In my views no interest taking,
Only answered my suggestions
By a solitary snore.
Like the Earl, he wouldn’t worry,
Wouldn’t toil and work and hurry;
For by making any changes
Food,” he thought, “will cost us more.”



On 7 November 1903, Lord Rosebery addressed a meeting of 5,000 Liberals in the Palace Theatre, Leicester. He devoted much of his speech to discussing whether Chamberlain’s proposals were necessary. He argued that there were more pressing needs than protective tariffs and that Chamberlain should have approached the matter differently. He used the phrase “commercial repose” with reference to the disruption arising from the recently-ended Boer War and the need for commerce to be given time to restablish itself. The Daily Express chose to interpret “repose” as meaning ‘sleep’.


See poem 14, note 6.