[The full title of this broadsheet produced by Reuben Holder in Bradford is The New Starvation Law Examined and some description of the food, dress, labour, and regulations imposed upon the poor and unfortunate sufferers in the new British Bastiles. Transcribed and added by Marjie Bloy Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, National University of Singapore.]
Come you men and women unto me attend,
And listen and see what for you I have penn'd;
And if you do buy it, and carefully read,
'T'will make your hearts within you to bleed.
The lions at London, with their cruel paw,
You know they have pass'd a Starvation Law;'
These tigers and wolves should be chained in a den,
Without power to worry poor women and men.
Like the fox in the farm-yard they slily do creep,
These hard hearted wretches, O, how dare they sleep,
To think they should pass such a law in our day,
To bate and to stop the poor widow's pay.
And if they don't like their pay to be stopp'd,
'Gainst their own will into th' Bastile they're popp'd;
Their homes must break up, and never return,
But leave their relations and children to mourn.
The three pension'd paupers in grandeur do live,
Pon riches that they from the taxes receive;
Which poor people pay from their scanty week's wage,
Though pinch'd and confin'd like a bird in a cage.
But if they'd to work before they were fed,
They'd not go a tolling the poor children's bread,
Which fathers do earn very hard every day,
While they in carriages are dashing away.
There's many poor children go ragged and torn,
While they and their horses are pamper'd with corn;
Now is not this world quite unequally dealt?
The Starvation Law by some few is felt.
When a man and his wife for sixty long years
Have tolled together through troubles and fears,
And brought up a family with prudence and care,
To be sent to the Bastile it's very unfair.
And in the Bastile each women and man
Is parted asunder, — is this a good plan?
A word of sweet comfort they cannot express,
For unto each other they ne'er have access.
Of their uniform, too, you something shall hear,
In strong Fearnaught jackets the men do appear;
In coarse Grogram gowns the women do shine,
And a ninepenny cap, — now won't they be fine?
To give them hard labour, is it understood,
In handmills the grain they must grind for their food,
Like men in a prison they work them in gangs,
With turning and twisting it fills them with pangs.
The master instructs them the law to obey,
The governor minds it's all work and no play,
And as for religion the parson doth teach
That he knows the gospel, — no other must preach.
Ye hard-working men, wherever you be,
I'd have you watch closely, these men, d'ye see;
I think they're contriving, the country all o'er,
To see what's the worst they can do to the poor.
But if that their incomes you wish for to touch,
They'll vapour, and grumble, and take very much,
The Corn Laws uphold, the poor will oppress,
And sent the to th' Bastile in th' day of distress.
Last modified 16 November 2002