A chairman there was both honest and bold.
And he was called up a council to hold,
By the side of this chairman was found,
A brother which sat upon the same ground ---
Next to him a steward was writing
What this coterie though worth inditing,
Besides him sat a steward of late,
With sufficient calmness to show his state.
A tenant of late, who devoid of all prate
Sat near the table pretty sedate;
Besides the chairman’s brother, a tenant there stood
Who always appeared remarkably good;
A gentleman there was, who took part in the play
But he was not found there everyday;
These formed a committee so happy and bland,
It was impossible to say which was the best hand.
This committee, then to work went,
And harmoniously joined in one consent;
They considered the distress very great,
But having weighty matters to state,
A question arose, shall we do something now;
Or [wait] till we have His Reverance’s bow.
By all means let us wait,
For his notions are great;
And sympathies strong,
Can do us no wrong.
We will do what we can,
For this pleasing man;
But the money, you know,
Is the first thing to draw;
A meeting we’ll call,
To be held in the Hall.
All classes shall come and pour out their gold,
But the deeds of these men shall never be told;
The poor shall have meal, soup, blankets, and all,
And these we’ll distribute in the said hall;
Peace and happy contentment shall dwell,
And Accrington shall be said to have done very well.
Accrington, Nov. 2nd, 1862. Celina.

Title:The Happy Family


Publication:Accrington Guardian

Published in:Accrington

Date:November 7th 1862

Keywords:morality, politics, poverty


This poem written largely in rhyming couplets with varying line lengths celebrates the work of the relief committee in Accrington, acknowledging the work done by local dignitaries in providing for people made destitute by the closure of the cotton mills. This is one of the few poems of its type recovered, which acknowledges the specific work of a civic body in a specific town, rather than generalised celebrations of relief or charity. The title presumably intends to suggest that the process of the town providing for its needy acts as a social adhesive. – SR