Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 52

Bread Tax Once More

page break

Bread Tax Once More.

(A November Night's Vision, after reading Edgar Poe and the Earl of Dunraven's Address on "Fair Trade," delivered by him, as President of the National Fair Trade League, at Sheffield, on November 12th, 1884.)

Buckle crest of the Cobden Club

Once upon a midnight dreary, as I pondered weak and weary
Over many a dry and tedious tome of economic lore,
Whilst I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a snapping
As of some small terrier yapping, yapping at my study door.
'Tis old Ponto there, I muttered, yapping at my study door,—
Only that, and nothing more.

Ah, distinctly I remember it was early in November
When to Town the wearied Member came, and thought the thing a bore.
Eagerly I hoped the morrow Salisbury some sense might borrow,
And I thought with ceaseless sorrow of the stream-side and the moor,
Of the rare and radiant raptures of the stream-side and the moor.
Heather's sweep and trout-stream's roar.

Open then I flung the doorway, when, with blast as chill as Norway,
In there stepped "Fair Trade" Dunraven, solemn as a monk of yore;
Not the least apology made he, though I thought his manners "shady,"
But, as stiff as Tate and Brady, stood within my study-door,
Underneath a bust of Cobden just above my study-door,—
Stood, and scowled, and nothing more.

Then this sombre guest, beguiling my tired spirit into smiling
By the doctrinaire decorum of the countenance he wore,
"Smugly trimmed and deftly shaven, though I trust I'm not a craven,
You have startled me, Dunraven," said I, "yapping at my door.
Tell me what your little game is, late at night at this my door?"
Quoth Dunraven, "Tax once more."

page break

Much I chuckled (though urbanely) him to hear talk so insanely,
For his answer little wisdom, little relevancy bore;
And one cannot help agreeing no sane living human being
In "Fair Trade" salvation seeing, could come yapping at one's door,
Snapping, late at night in winter, at a fellow's study-door,
Just to bid him "Tax once more!"

But Dunraven, standing lonely under Cobden's bust, spake only
Those same words, as though his creed in those few words he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered; calm he looked, and quite unfluttered.
Then unto myself I muttered, "Other fads have flown before;
Very soon this fad will vanish, as Protection did before."
Quoth Dunraven, "Tax once more!"

Startled at the silence broken by reply so patly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what he utters is his only stock and store,—
Caught from some bad fiscal master, whom trade-loss or farm-disaster
Followed fast and followed faster, till his talk one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his craft one economic burden bore,—
Of 'Tax—tax Corn once more.'

"Prophet," said I, "of things evil, trade is going to the devil,
Is the plea of you and Lowther, Chaplin, many another bore.
Sophists dull, yet all undaunted, do you think the thing that's wanted,
By our land, depression-haunted,—tell me truly, I implore,—
Is it, can it be Protection? Answer plainly, I implore!"
Quoth Dunraven, "Tax once more!"

"Prophet," said I, "of things evil, I don't wish to be uncivil,
But, by heaven! this Fair Trade figment is becoming a big bore.
Think you Corn with taxes laden means an economic Aidenn
For that somewhat ancient maiden who 'protected' was of yore,
For that very ancient maiden, Agriculture?" With a roar
Yelled Dunraven, "Tax once more!"

"Then it's time that we were parting, Parroteer!" I cried, upstarting,
"Get thee back to silly Sheffield, twaddle on St. Stephen's floor,
I require no further token of the rot your League hath spoken,
Fair Trade phalanx to be broken by experience sad and sore.
Take thy Beakey's words to heart, who said Protection's day was o'er!"
Quoth Dunraven, "Tax once more!"

And Dunraven, dolefuller waxing, still stands croaking of Corn-taxing,
Underneath the bust of Cobden, just above my study-door,
And his talk has all the seeming of a monomaniac's dreaming—
Here I woke, and day was streaming through the lattice on the floor,
And I hope that no such vision e'er again my ears will bore
With the burden, "Tax once more!"

Messrs. Cassell & Company, Limited, La Belle Sauvage Yard, London, E.C., supply the Cobden Club Leaflets in packets of 100, price 1s.