All men, whatever be their station,
Have each one something good to do;
And yet, among life’s busy throng,
Many are idly lounging too!
Would they but imbibe the truth,
They’re moving in the path of crime,
And spreading woe where’er they go
By this wasting precious time,
Would they such a lesson learn,
What goodness might, indeed, be done!
What love and cheer, both far and near,
Amongst mankind would there be won!
No murmurings or wrath and strife
Might then be heard from one another,
If man would rise, and be but wise,
And greet his neighbour as a brother.
Thus a world might gain true glory,
And its people dwell in peace;
Whilst charity, with sincerity,
Would more and more each day increase.
Then stand not idle in the way,
While there is aught that’s good to do;
But lend your might both day and night,
For the world hath truly need of you.



Publication:Preston Guardian

Published in:Preston


Keywords:charity, industry, morality


This anonymous poem is fairly typical of generalised moral verse from the period, though it is presented in a distinctly secular fashion, with no reference to religion or divinity of any kind. It is possible that this is significant due to its place of publication, Preston, which was a town with a large Roman Catholic contingent; if the poem does not appear to emerge from a particular religious denomination then its message will not appear bipartisan. The condemnation of idleness in the poem given the context of enforced mass unemployment in the region might seem inappropriate, but there were real fears that lack of work was creating a malignant social apathy which was exacerbating the effects of poverty and general morality. The celebration of charity in the final stanza ties into efforts to encourage the working classes to help each other. Eventually, institutions across the region mobilised in response to the continuation of the effects of the Cotton Famine in order to provide alternative work for cotton operatives. – SR