Concert And Literary Entertainment In Aid Of The Relief Fund.
Title:Concert and Literary Entertainment in Aid of the Relief Fund (W. A. Abram poem)
Author:W. A. Abram
Date:May 31 1862
This poem appears as part of a larger article which provides its context, as follows:
"An entertainment was given on Thursday evening, in the Town-hall Assembly-room, for the purpose of enabling the Oddfellows of the district, numbering about 3,000, to aid the funds for the relief of the distressed poor. The occasion drew together a crowded assembly numbering about 1,200 … few minutes before eight o’clock, the excellent band of the Rifle Volunteers, conducted by Mr. Finney, took up their position on the platform amid the applause of the assembly, and the concert commenced. The playing of the band was much admired, though greater effect would have been produced if the internal arrangements made in the loft, above the hall, by Mr. G. Ellis at the two previous concerts, had been again carried out. Indeed, we hope the Town.hall Committee will make this arrangement permanent, and thus considerably improve the defective acoustics of the hall. The recitations were well rendered, and the sketch of “Where’s my Hat?” written expressly by Mr. Fountain convulsed the auditory. The prologue to the sketch, written by Mr. W. A. Abram, of the Free Library, is as follows:". After the poem, there is further commentary, including: "The total receipts would be about £60[?], so that we anticipate that the Oddfellows will be able to hand over a sum of £40 to the Relief Fund. The whole of the performers and the numerous staff of gentleman who assisted in the getting up of the entertainment deserve all praise".
Such fundraising events were common during the Cotton Famine, and often featured poetry among the entertainments on offer. The poem moves between humour and serious description of the suffering of Lancashire workers, reminding the listeners of the purpose of the night’s events. The reference to a “Jew dealer” in the ninth line is an example of the anti-Semitic stereotype associating Jewish people and moneylending trades in the nineteenth century, which was unfortunately common in Victorian literature. – RM.
The form of this poem refers to the English epic tradition of the heroic couplet (favoured by Alexander pope and other writers in the classic tradition). However, instead of the rhyming couplets being written in the metre of iambic pentameter, there is a hypercatalexic effect, with an extra syllable at the end of each line taking the count to eleven instead of nine. The metrical unevenness chimes with the comic nature of the poem, which is essentially a comic monologue in its form of address.- SR