Toiling, hoping, suffering Brothers!
Workmen of my native land,
Mark this truth above all others –
Mind must evermore expand!
Man must wrestle for the blessing,
Ever up at duty’s call,
Light-increasing, life-progressing,
Let us labor one and all.
For the spread of mutual kindness,
For the freedom of our class,
For the sons we leave behind us,
Fettered by our faults, alas!
Still the path of toil pursuing,
Truth and love our guide and goal,
Vices vanquished, hopes renewing,
Let us labor one and all.
To obtain a firmer footing
On the ground of happiness,
Planting right, and wrong uprooting,
Chasing discord and distress;
On the world of woman’s folly
Let the dew of pity fall,
And, to make her pure and holy,
Let us labor one and all.
Men must love and trust each other
Ere the truth can make them free,
Each regarding each as brother,
Bound in social unity;
By a wise co-operation,
Whilst our class we disenthral,
Winning wisdom, wealth, and station,
Let us labor one and all.
Let us husband our resources –
Hoard up for a “rainy day” –
Thrift and forethought, the forces
That keep Care and Want at bay;
Then those fiends, which men call famine,
May no more our minds appal;
For ourselves we will examine
All things – laboring one and all!
Truth and freedom let us cherish!
Prize them more than priest and king!
Then our tree of life will flourish –
Labor’s heart for gladness sing!
Why should we, like steeds in harness,
Stand in some proud master’s stall.
When we for ourselves might furnish
All things, working one and all.
Let us drill and bore the mountain,
Till the blessed light of day,
Breaking through, displays the fountain
Whence the floods of evil stray;
Let us curb Pride’s wrathful current
Fling from bank to bank a caul,
And to stem dark Error’s torrent,
Let us labor one and all.
None may rest on Hope’s bright anchor
Save the soul that vainly strives;
Work wears off the rust and cankers
From the hinges of our lives;
On ourselves be our reliance,
Sternly built, a bustion tall,
Bidding fate a proud defiance
Let us labor, one and all.
Skill sits at the helm of Fortune!
Perseverance, his first mate,
Backed by Courage, wins his portion;
Worth will triumph soon or late!
Misery from misdeeds still floweth,
Bliss sits throned in Virtue’s Hall;
Myriads reap what one man soweth, -
Labor for the good of all.
Woe to him that would restrain us
In our on and upward march;
O’er their graves that seek to chain us,
Build we our triumphal arch!
For the crown and throne of Labor,
Fenced by freedom’s flaming wall,
Brother, friend, companion, neighbour,
Let us labor one and all!
For our glorious Queen and country’s
Welfare – for Old England’s name,
Gleaming through the gloom of centuries,
First in freedom as in fame!
For our homes, and hearts within them,
Though our pittance be but small,
Life has blessings – and to win them!
Let us labor one and all.
Still increase our store of knowledge,
Not alone from book or scroll,
But from Nature’s boundless college,
Free to every searching soul!
Whilst the vernal Year still wingeth
Round this mighty mundane ball,
Her bright way, she ever singeth
“Love, and labor, one and all.”
Blackburn, Feb. 27th, 1861.

Title:Let Us Labor, One and All

Author:WM. Billington

Publication:The Blackburn Times

Published in:Blackburn

Date:March 2, 1861

Keywords:gender, industry, work


Published just before the advent of the Cotton Famine, this piece by the Blackburn poet William Billington encourages working-class solidarity, thrift, and patriotic loyalty. It perhaps reflects growing concerns relating to cotton overproduction and a looming sense of economic hardship, even before the devastating effects of the American Cotton Blockade which began just a few months later. At this point Billington was only really known locally for his poetry but the Cotton Famine made his name when he lost his employment in the cotton industry and began to write full time and was much more widely published, often writing in characteristic Lancashire dialect. He became one of the great Lancashire dialect poets and was deeply integrated into the town’s thriving literary culture. – SR