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A Lay of Reform

1867-8: Representation of the People Acts

Author: William Donaldson (1847-1876)

Publication: People's Journal

Publisher: John Leng

Published: 11 August 1866

Place of publication: Dundee, Scotland

Publication type: Newspaper/Periodical

Featured individuals:
John Bright (1811-1889)
William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898)
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
John Russell, 1st Earl Russell (1792-1878)

A full copy of this poem is available.

Archive/Library: Dundee Central Library
Pages(s): 2

This poem is included in Blair's The Poets of the People's Journal anthology.William Donaldson was a shoemaker from Keith in Moray, north-east Scotland (formerly Banffshire) and the author of The Queen Martyr, and Other Poems (Elgin: J. McGillivray and Son, 1867): the People's Journal noted this book on 1 June 1867 as by ‘a young man whose poetical effusions have occasionally appeared in our columns’ (p. 2). ‘A Lay of Reform’ was not included in this collection, probably because of its political content. It is a fervently pro-Reform and anti-Tory poem (mirroring the principles of the newspaper in which it appeared), which celebrates John Stuart Mill, who had proposed an amendment to the 1866 bill to enfranchise all householders, both men and women, and John Bright, radical MP and leading reform campaigner. It also references the participation of working men in the Rifle Volunteer movement and alludes specifically to the Hyde Park Riots of July 1866, subsequent to the collapse of the government due to dissension over the reform bill in June 1866.