A Plea for the Cotton District

Stay not the rich stream that so nobly is flowing;
Up, up, to the rescue, and lend them a hand!
Oh, be not content with a pittance bestowing,
And dare not the promptings of conscience withstand:
But cheer them in darkness, in gloom, and in sorrow,
And save them from pestilence, pain, and despair;
Defer not the work of to day till the morrow,
Nor keep back the hand that may lighten their care.
Oh, help them ye lowly! – by plans self-denying –
For pennies and shillings soon mount to the pound;
Wait not, then, to argue, while brothers are dying,
For darkly the future is looming around!
Oh, help them, ye rich one – ay, give from your treasure –
Both lowly and wealthy may join to bestow;
And as ye have meted, so ye shall have measure,
E’en as ye have aided to soften their woe.
Oh, ye who have known the sweet pleasures of giving,
Have felt ’tis more blessed to give than receive;
Continue your message of mercy, believing
Your efforts are blest when you seek to relieve.
Give, even as God in His goodness hath give –
Stern duty bids each to lend some hopeful ray;
And soon, by the blessing and bounty of Heaven,
May darkness be lost in the brightness of day.

Title:A Plea for the Cotton District


Publication:Stockport and Cheshire County News

Published in:

Date:March 21st 1863

Keywords:charity, poverty, religion


Like many other poems on this database, this work has a specific social function, in this case to elicit charity for the relief of those suffering the financial effects of the Cotton Famine. Published at the end of the worst winter of the Distress, in one of the most heavily industrialised areas of the region just outside of Manchester, there is an air of desperation evident here. It is possible that this tone reflects an awareness of the kind of ‘charity fatigue’ which often takes effect when the public have been asked to contribute to causes over a long period of time. Marking up these poems for inclusion on this database gives one the opportunity to observe patterns across several texts, and here we can see a common trope of leaving the religious element until the end of the poem in order to reinforce the earlier call for assistance with a specific plea to Christian morality. – SR