To raise the tempest of reform
You waste your spells; the winds are dumb,
Deaf are the spirits of the storm.
You call them and they will not come.
How should they, when, while all are free
To buy and sell, to speak and hear,
Your strongest charms are untaxed tea,
Tobacco, sugar, gin, and beer?
Broad lands, in many a narrow farm
Pieced out by Confiscation’s hand,
Are not a likelier kind of charm
The British Lion to command;
And when you bid the common mind
Elsewhere for weal and justice roam,
It only looks abroad to find
Good reason for content at home.
Direct taxation is a plan
Whose mention serves but to array
Against you every working man
That has an income-tax to pay.
And ‘tis a maxim with the wise,
In prospect of a war-halloo,
That those alone should vote supplies
Who have to stand taxation too.
Extol those regions of the blest,
Beyond the broad Atlantic main,
You spend your burning breath in vain,
With envy of the Yankees’ lot
The British bosom to inspire,
Your declamation should be hot
Enough to set the Thames on fire.

Title:Reform Conjurers at Fault


Publication:The Bolton Chronicle

Published in:Bolton

Date:December 5th 1863

Keywords:politics, satire


This satirical Punch poem is a reminder that in the early years of the American Civil War publications such as this could still make mention of America without referring to the conflict, perhaps suggesting that an early resolution was expected. As the war became more protracted and bloody it always featured in poetry which touched on transatlantic subjects. This poem rails against Liberal Party efforts to raise taxes and uses America as an example of a successful economy which maintains a system of low taxation. – SR