The Cotton Famine

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Ed. ― this edition of Waugh's classic account of the social impacts of the Lancashire Cotton Famine differs from that originally published in several respects: pictorial content relating to the Lancashire 'cotton towns' has been added (not always of the exact period, but illustrative of Victorian cotton-town life nevertheless), together with additional poems and newspaper cuttings of the period, while long unrelieved passages in the original narrative have been split into shorter paragraphs. The verses that originally formed the final section ― "Songs of Distress" ― have, for better effect, been placed within the body of Waugh's text.

A facsimile of Waugh's original text is available online at http://www.spinningtheweb.org.uk/


――――♦――――


HOME-LIFE

OF THE

LANCASHIRE FACTORY FOLK
DURING THE COTTON FAMINE

BY EDWIN WAUGH

――――♦――――

Author of "Lancashire Sketches", "Poems and Lancashire Songs",
"Tufts of Heather from the Northern Moors", etc, etc.

 


"Hopdance cries in poor Tom's belly for two white herrings.
 Croak not, black angel: I have no food for thee."

King Lear.

――――♦――――

PREFACE


The following chapters are reprinted from the columns of the Manchester Examiner and Times, to which Paper they were contributed by the Author during the year 1862.


――――♦――――
 

CONTENTS.
――――♦――――

Among the Blackburn Operatives:

I.II.
_________

Among the Preston Operatives:

 III.; IV.; V.; VI.; VII.; VIII.; IX.; X.; XI.; XII.; XIII.; XIV.
_________

Among the Wigan Operatives:

XV.; XVI.; XVII.; XVIII.; XIX.; XX.; XXI.
_________

An Incident by the Wayside:

XXII.
_________

Wandering Minstrels; or, Wails of the Workless Poor

XXIII.
_________

LETTERS AND SPEECHES
UPON THE COTTON FAMINE
――――♦――――

Letters of a Lancashire Lad
Mr Cobden's Speech
Speech of the Earl of Derby
Songs of Distress chiefly written during the Cotton Famine
[Ed.
in this edition, the poems that form "Songs of Distress" are supplemented, and appear within the body of the text.]

1.

AW WOD THIS WAR WUR ENDED.

2.

AW'VE HARD WARK TO HOWD UP MI YED.

3.

TO MY STARVING KIN IN THE NORTH.

4.

THE SPINNER'S HOME.

5.

SEWIN' CLASS SONG.

6.

THE SMOKELESS CHIMNEY.

7.

THE MILL-HAND'S PETITION.

8.

CHEER UP A BIT LONGER.

9.

FRETTIN'.

10.

GOD HELP THE POOR.

11.

 TH' SHURAT WEAVER'S SONG. (Laycock)

12.

TH' SURAT WEYVER'S SONG. (Billington)

13.

TICKLE TIMES.

Ed. for other poems, prose and news articles relating to the Cotton Famine, please see: ―

I left the realm of silence, and arrived,
Once more, i' the realm of noise, and haste, and toil:
The realm of cotton mills, in which seemed hived
Man, woman, child: all join the gainful moil,
'Midst heat, and rattle of machines, and broil
Of steam.   And still they build new mills, and vaunt
That nought their enterprise shall henceforth foil
Until their manufactures spread aslant

The world ― where'er is found the human habitant!

                .                .                .                .                .

How the sage holder of the reins displayed his skill,
And starving crowds gat food, there is no need
That I should tell. When hungry men could fill
Their stomachs, they soon ceased to list the rede
Of agitators.   "Let us work, and feed
And clothe ourselves and children," soon became
The all-prevalent resolve.   They worked with speed;
And when broke out, across the sea, the flame

Of war, and they could get no cotton, they did not
        blame,


The "Cotton Lords," of whom, in bygone time,
They spoke so angrily.   Their common sense
Kept them from insurrectionary crime;
And, famine-stricken though they were, suspense
Of work and wage with patience most intense
Was borne.   And, now the wheels go round
Again most merrily, thoughts of turbulence
Return not for men's eyes upon the ground

Are fixed: to thoughts of food and clothes their minds
        are bound.

                .                .                .                .                .


"The night falls fast, and finds me brooding thus
O'er evils that afflict my fatherland:—
The night falls fast, yet brightly luminous
Beam out the cotton mills that round me stand,
Where garish gas turns night to day; and hand,
And eye, and mind of myriad toilers win
The wealth of England, but cannot command
A certainty of bread,—though, for her sin,

Woman, like man, doth weave, and watch, and toil,
        and spin."

THOMAS COOPER

 


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