Much esteemed and worthy editor,
I shall regard you as my creditor
If you’ll give this communication –
A versified and brief narration –
Insertion: for full well I know
That you are a stubborn foe
To demon Wrong, a friend to Right;
And so to you I will indite.
G.T. called on my neighbor John,
And thus the colloquy begun: -
“Much respected burgess,” said G.T.
“Thy vote I humbly come to ask of thee;
And if the Council Chamber yields a seat,
Repaired and lighted well shall be your street;
The night-soil men shall not remove away
Manurial scrapings by the light of day;
Pig styes shall be removed, back slums kept clean,
Pure air shall flow where pestilence has been;
And – ” “Nay, stop,” says John;"no more my vote
Shall by such worthless men be caught.
There is a class of men their seats disgrace,
Who form conspiracies so dark and base;
Discharging men who own a liberal mind,
To fill their place men of their stamp they find.
And I hear thou art a Tory – thou belongs
To this disgraceful clique who do these wrongs.
Nay! by the twinkling stars that shine at night,
My vote shall be for those who act aright!”
“Now, John, come, keep thy temper, let us reason;
For everything there is a time or season;
And, if our tempers get in a confusion,
We cannot get unto a right conclusion.
I see some signs, if I’m allowed to guess,
Or symptoms that bespeak thy deep distress;
Thy wife’s wan countenance, thy children’s clothes,
In words of eloquence bespeak thy woes.
Here, take this crown, go pay thy grocer’s bill,
It will assist thee thy meal bag to fill;
Meantime thou’ll come and labor at my mill!”
Alas! the bribe prevailed; tho’ who can tell
The pain it cost his birthright thus to sell.
By bribes and intrigues he secures a seat,
An honest man will meet a sure defeat.
And Blackburn Councillors are Blackburn’s shame;
This is the question asked: - “Who are to blame?”

Title:Municipal Candidates

Author:R. R.

Publication:The Blackburn Times

Published in:Blackburn

Date:November 7th 1863

Keywords:industry, politics, poverty


This angry and pointed poem by a writer who refers to themselves as merely ‘R. R.’ condemns local politicians for corrupt practices within the machinations of civic government. What appears to be suggested is that ‘G. T.’ acquires the political support and votes of ‘John’ by offering him work in his mill. Where this is relevant to the Cotton Famine is in the mention of John’s ‘distress’, an abstract noun which when capitalised was an alternative term for the effects of the cotton blockade in Lancashire. It certainly seems that mention of John’s ‘wife’s wan countenance, thy children’s clothes’ suggests the effects of Famine-related unemployment. Inevitably, the closure of many mills in the region meant that those who could remain open reaped the benefits, either by cheaper labour or increasing prices. – SR