The Lancashire Operative.

Wife and children, I’ve heard of such good news!
It will fill all our sad hearts with glee;
There are brave ships, well filled with provisions,
Coming to us across the wide sea.
And they come from America’s merchants,
From her farmers, away in the West;
They had heard we were workless and foodless—
‘Twas not idleness made us distrest.
They had heard how our landlords and merchants,
And our ladies, the rich and the great,
Our masters, our children, our poor men,
Knowing if we’ve no work, we can’t eat;
All joined in contriving to lighten
The sufferings we work people bear;
So our cousins, across the wide ocean,
Thought they, too, in the good work would share.
And they said what they knew would please England,
How much they respect our good Queen,
She who reigns in the hearts of her people—
Such another has earth never seen.
So, when work comes again to our engines,
And our labor supplies all our needs,
While we thank God for the help that he sent us,
Through our country, its kind words and deeds,--
While we thank English brothers and sisters,
Who helped us when starving and poor,
We will thank our American cousins—
They, too, helped keep the wolf from our door.

Title:The Lancashire Operative.

Author:Jane Ashby

Publication:The Liberator

Published in:

Date:February 6th 1863

Keywords:poverty, relief, war


This poem by the British Quaker and abolitionist writer, Jane Ashby (real name Anna Gardner 1816-1901) adopts the voice of grateful Lancashire workers receiving aid from the Union states during the Cotton Famine. Such aid (including the famous ship the ‘Griswold’) accompanied attempts by the American government to court British support during the last years of the American Civil War. This did not come in concrete official terms, but the issue of abolition, which had broad but not universal support in Britain, helped to thaw relations between the two countries after the debacle of the Trent Affair in 1861. – SR