Lines By Samuel Laycock, and read by him at Mr. S. Pickering’s Farewell Tea Party, on Saturday evening, Oct 29th, 1864.

We’re met to-night to drop a parting tear,
And bid farewell to one we fondly love –
An old and valued friend we all respect.
Alas! alas! that this my native land,
With all her greatness, all her boasted power,
Should not be able, with her mass of wealth,
To make provision for her needy sons.
Thousands on thousands of our fellowmen
Have left their homes – the land that gave them birth,
To try their fortunes on some foreign shore;
And seek for that which here hath been denied.
And why is this? Has England sunk so low,
Through her extravagance, that she must needs
Thrust upon others those she can’t maintain?
Can she be ignorant of the painful truth –
Painful to all who seek this country’s good –
That those who made her great now use their powers
To make some other nation great and strong?
O that my country would more wisely act,
And see their folly ere it be too late.
Of hath these hearts been pained as, one by one,
Friends and dear kindred have been borne away,
And homes once happy rendered lone and sad.
And now once more, like those who are bereaved,
We sigh and sorrow, loth to grasp the hand
We may not grasp again this side the grave.
Good-bye, dear friend, the God of Israel keep
And land you safe across the briny deep;
May He be with you whereso’er you roam,
And ever bless you in your future home.
Oft have we met, in months and years gone past,
And now we feel this night may be the last.
‘Tis hard to speak the parting word good-bye;
We do it now with many a heart-felt sigh.
Long years ago we grasp’d that horny hand;
And, with the influence we could then command,
We pleaded with you, for your children’s sake,
To rouse yourself and one more effort make
To snap the fetters which had bound you fast.
Now, heaven be praised, we see you free at last;
Hold fast, my friend, to all that’s good and right,
‘Gainst drinking customs war with all your might;
Use all your powers to crush that subtle foe,
Which once, alas, crushed you so very low.
Heaven bless your labours in another sphere;
May they be useful, as they have been here;
May your weak efforts still be strong to save
Some erring brother from a drunkard’s grave.
And now farewell, we leave you in God’s hand,
May he protect you in that far-off land;
And when our farewells here on earth are o’er,
May we all meet in heaven, to part no more.


Author:Samuel Laycock

Publication:Ashton And Stalybridge Reporter

Published in:Ashton-under-Lyne

Date:November 12th, 1864

Keywords:emigration, family, poverty, work


These lines, written for a friend’s leaving party, are not usually included among Laycock’s well-known Cotton Famine poetry. Unlike the majority of his work, the poem is in standard English, perhaps in line with its somewhat sombre tone. The poem expresses some anger that so many workers, like Mr. Pickering, have been forced to emigrate to obtain a living. Temperance themes are also present – Laycock reminds his friend of a past drinking problem, and urges him to continue to guide others away from this fate. The rhyme scheme in the poem is unusual, switching from blank verse to an ABAB scheme part way through. – RM.