To The Lords Of Land, Mills, And Money.
SIR – I am not much addicted to letter writing, but these hard times will sharpen the sensibilities of any rustic, and if there be any merit in these lines pray print them, if your valuable, impartial, and out spoken paper and you will oblige one who has been fasting for lack of bread for a couple of days. – I remain yours, truly,
TO THE LORDS OF LAND, MILLS, AND MONEY.
Title:To the Lords of Land, Mills, and Money
Publication:The Blackburn Times
Date:October 8, 1864
This poem is arranged with nine quatrains written with alternating rhymes, and it also alternates different types of three-beat patterns in its metre. Sometimes these are anapaests, sometimes dactyls, and sometimes these are preceded by upbeats (anacrusis) – (The penniless poor are used up, / For ‘tis you who have taken the grist; / And you give them far the bitterest cup, / When your overseer tells them to “list.”)
One of the interesting things about this poem is that its author takes on the personification of ‘STARVATION’ as a nom de plume, endeavouring to encapsulate the voice of those suffering most in the Cotton Famine. Of course, memories of the Irish Famine of the 1840s would still have been fresh for many people, and indeed some Irish workers had settled in Lancashire precisely because of that disaster. This is a relatively rare example of a Cotton Famine poem which contains explicit class antagonism and real political anger. Like ‘A Batchelor’s Fancy’, it is quite direct in its targets, and seeks to highlight a pre-existing economic and social inequality in society.