A cycle of wet seasons has past, the learned say;
The cycle to the sickle, I thinks, is given way.
We’re ‘customed arter dinner to drinkin’ “Speed the Plough,”
We’ve had some smartish labour to speed the rip-hook now.
A finer whate and barley I never yet zet eye;
The wutz is as abundant ; zo likewise is the rye.
As touchun of the turmuts there’s nothun to complain,
No doubt but in due sezon what we shall have some rain.
I’m happy to inform you the ‘taters be all right;
At laste I han’t heer’d nuthin about the ‘tater blight.
There wun’t be much occasion for scarcity to grieve,
Except the Cotton Famine, and that we must relieve.

Title:Hawbuck on the Harvest


Publication:The Bolton Chronicle

Published in:Bolton

Date:22nd August 1863

Keywords:hunger, poverty


This poem by anonymous author is in the voice of a ‘Hawbuck’, an archaic term referring to a country bumpkin. The diction is parodic rather than authentically country dialect, and perhaps owes something to William Barnes’s Dorset dialect poems popular in the previous generations. The interesting thing here is how this poem depicts times of plenty in other parts of the country, in this case a successful agricultural harvest, being seen as an opportunity to provide relief for the Lancashire Cotton Famine. This gives an indication of the strength of feeling and sympathy across the UK for the sufferers of the effects of the famine, and the kinds of efforts which were being marshalled to mitigate against those effects. – SR