Sympathy With Lancashire.

In the valleys of Lancashire commerce once smiled;
Each village in wealth did abound;
And plenty went forth like a rosy-cheeked child,
Dispensing her blessings around.
Then, health, hope, and happiness beamed in each eye,
And brightened each face with a smile;
Then, friendships were warmer, and help ever nigh,
While pleasure dull care did beguile.
Then, industry happily found its reward,
And peace in each cottage did dwell;
No night-watch was needed the storehouse to guard,
For honesty bound like a spell.
And ships they came laden with bales from the West,
For cotton in plenty was found;
While corn from all quarters, on ocean’s broad breast,
Was borne from the plenty around.
But, oh! a sad change has adversity brought,
A contrast most grievous to see,
For many, who nobly have struggled and fought,
Fall conquered by grim poverty.
And demons of famine and want are at work,
A progeny hell-born and dire;
Dark thoughts in men’s minds are beginning to lurk,
For hunger consumes like a fire.
And peace in each cottage no longer is found,
For now haggard want is the guest;
And gloomy despair spreads its terrors around,
While poverty rears its foul crest.
Yet, bravely they bear it, for every one feels
That God on the whirlwind will ride;
And the proud ark of freedom which, tempest-tossed, reels,
To the haven of victory guide.
Take heed, then, ye owners of houses and land-
Ye stewards of God-given wealth-
Forget no the bounties ye have from His hand,
In luxuries, riches and health.
These poor as your brothers, and God is their sire,
And their “keepers” he calls you to be;
And “Where is thy brother?” if thundered in ire,
Will shake you like leaves on a tree.
Proud Cain said, “I know not,” in confident mood;
“Am I, then, his keeper and guard;”
As full of assurance - though guilty – he stood,
Yet ‘scaped not the dreadful award.
And Christ, the great teacher of all who can think,
Has spoken as plain as can be,
“If my little ones thirst, and ye give them not drink,
Ye cursed! depart ye from me.”

Title:Sympathy With Lancashire.


Publication:The Bradford Observer

Published in:Bradford

Date:October 23rd 1862

Keywords:charity, industry, poverty, unemployment


This poem, discovered by Francesca Howard of the University of Exeter in 2016, expresses sympathy for fellow workers across the Lancashire-Yorkshire border, using familiar tropes and imagery. The poem makes a point of noting the former prosperity of Lancashire workers, and indeed, it is generally recognised that at the time, workers in the cotton industry were some of the highest paid operatives in the world. But the dire change in circumstances recounted here leads to a general call for charitable relief, as the Cotton Famine enters its very worst winter. – SR