Daily Express, Wednesday, October 7, 1903

Poem 07

(Attribution uncertain)



O’er a mansion’s stately portals
Only passed by ducal mortals
I observed the Parrot perching,
And a coronet he wore; 1
He’d an air of resignation, 2
And with sad disapprobation
He suggested to the public
That “Your food will cost you more.”

Then a Premier, looking harried, 3
For an instant came and tarried,
Tarried in a gloomy manner,
Just before the ducal door.
“Bird,” he said, “you vowed together
We should face the stormy weather,” 4
But the Parrot only muttered
That “Your food will cost you more.”

“Bird,” he cried, “I have not faltered
For three weeks, and nothing altered
Was my little speech at Sheffield 5
From my pamphlet writ before. 6
As you rather liked the latter,
What on earth can be the matter
With the former?” But the Parrot
Said “Your food will cost you more.”

“Bird,” he said, “you did deceive me;
In this crisis now you leave me; 7
You I held as quite converted!”
But the bird began to snore. 8
While the Premier sadly plodded
On his way, the Parrot nodded,
Nodded, croaking in his slumbers
That “Your (snore) will (snore) you more.”



All peers in the United Kingdom are entitled to a coronet, the precise style of which varies according to rank. The coronet is only ever worn as part of the peer’s ceremonial dress at the coronation of the monarch.


The Duke of Devonshire submitted his letter of resignation to the Prime Minister on 2 October. The official announcement that the King had accepted his resignation was published on 5 October.


Balfour, the Prime Minister, had only just succeeded in filling five government vacancies created by the resignations of Chamberlain and four of his free trade opponents some three weeks earlier; the announcement of the new appointments appeared on the same day as that of the Duke’s resignation.


Balfour’s response to Devonshire’s letter of resignation was written in tones of surprise and indignation. He complained that Devonshire had previously stated his resolve to remain in the government, a decision that Balfour had considered final.


This was Balfour’s speech to the Conservative conference on 1 October 1903. In his resignation letter, Devonshire stated that it was this speech that had prompted his resignation.


On 15 September, Balfour had published a pamphlet, “Economic Notes on Insular Free Trade”, which was a reprint of notes circulated to Cabinet in early August. He reminded Devonshire that the latter had seen this in late July, before the rest of the Cabinet, and he insisted that there was nothing in the speech of 1 October that was not also in his “Notes”.


Balfour was particularly indignant about the timing of Devonshire’s resignation and its effect on his efforts to heal the divisions within the Conservative party created by the opposing attitudes to tariff reform.


Once again—see the first poem—Devonshire is represented as having a tendency to doze off at inappropriate moments.