O Gladstone, born to affluence,
Hadst thou thy bread to earn.
Of rents from earnings, how immense
The difference thou wouldst learn!
Wert thou compelled by industry
To win each daily meal,
That which the conscience fails to see,
Thy consciousness would feel.
With wife and children to support,
All beggared shouldst thou die;
Should thy employment e’er fall short,
The Workhouse in thine eye;
Thou wouldst perceive the truth, ignored,
By thee, a wealthy man,
Precarious income can’t afford
What certain income can.
The tax that takes from both alike
Would move thy own disgust.
Thee, when it wronged thyself, ‘twould strike
As monstrously unjust,
The difference thou wouldst comprehend,
Denied by fool and knave,
Between the means a man may spend,
And those he ought to save.
Great, when the savings, which should make
Provision for thine age,
The tax-collector came to take,
Would be thy manly rage!
Injustice thou wouldst then discern,
Thy craft defied to flee;
And what would be thine own return,
Then, under Schedule D?
Title:Hubbard’s Appeal (from Punch)
Date:February 28th 1861
This Punch poem was published before the Cotton Famine but as British overproduction and the threat of Confederate states refusing to ship cotton began to depress the industrial economy – eventually the Union blockaded cotton exports anyway. The poem lampoons Gladstone’s failure to repeal universal income tax rates, which were widely seen as greatly exacerbating the economic situation of the poor, especially during downturns. Schedule D refers to the band of taxable income which might be from ‘casual’ earnings, which many people relied upon to make ends meet. – SR