REFORMING THE REFORMERS
(Improved from “Original Poems for Infant Minds”)
Title:Reforming the Reformers
Date:Sat, March 9th, 1861
Keywords:class, politics, satire
This satirical Punch poem imagines a conversation between the Quaker Liberal MP and reformer John Bright and the working classes in whose interests he campaigned for many years. Bright, and his associate Richard Cobden, had long been famous for their anti-Corn Law campaigns and promotion of free trade policies. By the early 1860s, the popular perception of both had been tarnished in the eyes of some due in part to their opposition to the Crimean War in the previous decade. The poem gives an indication of the Tory view of the relationship between middle class reformers and working people, which was to become complicated by the onset of Cotton Famine. Both Cobden and Bright were Lancastrian industrialists.