Relief for Lancashire.

They come a noble band
Inured to toil and pain,
Who never sought for help before
And shall they seek in vain?
From hovels, once dear homes
Where lov’d ones pale with grief,
Sit shivering round the fireless grates,
They come to beg relief.
They ask for bread and shall
The prayer that Christ has taught?
Unanswered be when it ascends,
From hearts with anguish fraught?
For them we wish to plead
With all who have to spend
And they who give unto the poor,
Unto their Lord doth lend.
Then God your debtor make,
And do it while you live
And let us not your death-beds thank
For all you ever give.
But now your help afford,
Too soon you cannot give,
O hasten “to the rescue” now
And bid your brother live.

Title:Relief for Lancashire


Publication:Accrington Guardian

Published in:Accrington

Date:November 22nd, 1862

Keywords:charity, domesticity, religion, toil


This poem, written at the height of the Cotton Famine, makes an impassioned appeal for charity. The respectability of unemployed cotton workers is emphasised in the first two stanzas, which highlight the independence and honourable labour of the working classes in ordinary circumstances as a means of stressing the desperation implied by seeking relief. Stoic individuals “Inured to toil and pain/ Who never sought for help before” are driven at last to appeal for charity by the degradation of their “hovels, once dear homes”. The poem then turns to those who might be able to provide much-needed relief, appealing to them in religious terms to provide charity as a matter of urgency.

The poet signs off with the single initial, “H.”, which makes it difficult to trace their biography or determine much about their background, though the poem itself does seem to have been written in Accrington. – RM.