Date:Dec 27 1862
Keywords:charity, morality, poverty, war
A note at the end of the poem reads: "Copies of the above, on cards and on paper, for one or two stamps, are supplied by Mr. H. Reed, publisher, 57 Oxford-Street, London, W. The profits from the sale will be given to the Lancashire Relief Fund."
This forty line poem has the general rhyme scheme of ABABCDCD. There is quite a strict adherence throughout to iambic pentameter although the metronomic effect of this is softened with enjambment and the use of some punctuation within the lines (medial caesurae). The form of address is interesting in that it switches between addressing personifications of the Old Year itself, and the county of Lancashire. The speaker, however appears from the sentiments expressed in the second stanza to associate with England, and there is an interesting relationship between nation and county being delineated.
Cotton Famine poetry publication in newspapers tended to cluster around the winter generally (and the winter of 1862/3 was generally agreed to be the worst during the Distress), but also around the annual festivals of Christmas and New Year, with the former’s associations with plenty and charity, and the latter’s associations with new beginnings. The concept of shedding the old year, here personified as a ‘dethroned king’ (l. 24), is used as an attempt to celebrate and encourage charitable giving for relief of the effects of the famine. However, though the poem begins with specific references to the distress in Lancashire in the first stanza, and celebrates the national efforts to relieve suffering in the second, the subsequent sections of the poem settle further into more general terms, and the poem becomes a more standard Victorian seasonal piece in its morals and sentiment. – SR