Henry Salt Archive

Henry Salt (1853-1939) was the author of the Life of Henry David Thoreau, Animals Rights and A Plea for Vegetarianism which inspired Gandhi for follow a vegetarian diet.

Workmen's Song

THE BLESSING OF CONTENT.

When times are hard, and wages low,
And workmen starve and pine;
When rises many a sound of woe
From factory and mine
How say ye then, rich fellow-men?
And do your hearts relent?
No so: ye preach with oily speech
The duty of “content.”

Oh rare content, Oh wise content,
When grasping landlords raise the rent!

When hope itself become despair
For help that is not given;
When many a mingled curse and prayer
Go wildly up to heaven:
What greeting then to starving men
By pious friends is sent?
Glad news, ye say, we bring o-day,
The gospel of “content.”

Oh blessed, heavenly content,
With sorrow and starvation blent!

So now, since comfort is denied
To us who perish here,
We’ll fight the battle side by side,
And bid farewell to fear—
Thus swear we all, whate’er befall,
To flinch not, nor repent.
Come, judge ye now, who hear our vow;
How like ye our “content?”

Oh cursed, meaningless content,
With nought to earn and savings spent

But when we’ve wrought by years of toil,
The glorious age to be,
When Englishmen on English soil
Shall live as live the free;
When idle drones have fled their thrones,
And labour’s chains are rent;
And then, at last, all peril past,
Will come the true “content.”

Then only is the true content,
When Justice is with freedom blent.

H. S. S.
Justice, February 7, 1885 - No. 56