Quaint and Curious - Parodies and Pastiches of Poe's The Raven


Punch, November 22, 1884

From Punch Magazine: (A November Night’s Vision, after reading Edgar Poe and the Earl of Dunraven’s[1] Address on “Fair Trade,”[2] delivered by him, as President of the National Fair Trade League, at Sheffield, on November 12th, 1884.)

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[3] 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[4] some sense might borrow,
And I thought with ceaseless sorrow of the streamside and the moor,
Of the rare and radiant raptures of the streamside 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,[5] stood within my study-door,
Underneath a bust of Cobden[6] 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!”
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,[7] Chaplin,[8] 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?[9] 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[10] 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[11] 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!”


  1. DunravenWindham Thomas Wyndham-Quin (1841–1926), the 4th Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl. A Conservative politician, he succeeded to his father’s Irish Peerage in 1871, with estates in County Limerick, and lands in south Wales and, later, Colorado. (back to text)
  2. Fair Trade — The idea of Free Trade is to remove all governmental interference on trade between nations, most notably to do away with tariffs on imports, these being a means of levelling the market for home produce. Dunraven’s speech argued for Fair Trade — i.e., tariff-free trade with countries who were willing, in return, to impose no tariffs on UK goods, while for those countries that continued to impose tariffs on UK goods, the UK would impose them in return. He felt the current policy of Free Trade was, for Britain, reduced to “the freedom to buy”, at the loss of “the freedom to sell” (Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 13th November 1884, p.6). (back to text)
  3. Ponto — A generic dog’s name. (back to text)
  4. SalisburyRobert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (1830–1903), a Conservative Member of Parliament, leader of the opposition in 1884. (back to text)
  5. Tate and Brady — Poets Nahum Tate (1692–1715) and Nicholas Brady (1659–1726), who produced the New Version of the Psalms of David in 1696, which was often referred to as “Tate and Brady”. (back to text)
  6. CobdenRichard Cobden (1804–1865), a businessman and politican, who championed Free Trade. (back to text)
  7. Lowther — Perhaps William Lowther (1821–1912), Conservative MP from 1868 to 1892. (back to text)
  8. Chaplin — Perhaps Henry Chaplin (1840–1923), 1st Viscount Chaplin, a Conservative MP since 1868. (back to text)
  9. Protection — The opposite of Free Trade, Protection is the imposition of tariffs on foreign goods so as to protect the market for home-grown/made goods. (back to text)
  10. St. Stephen’s — Presumably St Stephen’s Church, Sheffield, built in 1856. (back to text)
  11. Beakey — I can't identify this person. It could be a Punch nickname, or might even refer to Punch Magazine itself. (back to text)

Return to the Quaint and Curious index for more pastiches and parodies of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”.