The Handloom Weaver’s Lament
The Hand-Loom Weaver’s Lament,
performed by Harry Boardman from the folk album Deep Lancashire.
Handloom Weavers Lament – Lyrics
You gentlemen and tradesmen, that ride about at will,
Look down on these poor people; it’s enough to make you crill;
Look down on these poor people, as you ride up and down,
I think there is a God above will bring your pride quite down.
You tyrants of England, your race may soon be run,
You may be brought unto account for what you’ve sorely done.
You pull down our wages, shamefully to tell;
You go into the markets, and say you cannot sell;
And when that we do ask you when these bad times will mend,
You quickly give an answer, “When the wars are at an end.”
When we look on our poor children, it grieves our hearts full sore,
Their clothing it is worn to rags, while we can get no more,
With little in their bellies, they to work must go,
Whilst yours do dress as manky as monkeys in a show.
You go to church on Sundays, I’m sure it’s nought but pride,
There can be no religion where humanity’s thrown aside;
If there be a place in heaven, as there is in the Exchange,
Our poor souls must not come near there; like lost sheep they must range.
With the choicest of strong dainties your tables overspread,
With good ale and strong brandy, to make your faces red;
You call’d a set of visitors–it is your whole delight–
And you lay your heads together to make our faces white.
You say that Bonyparty he’s been the spoil of all,
And that we have got reason to pray for his downfall;
Now Bonyparty’s dead and gone, and it is plainly shown
That we have bigger tyrants in Boneys of our own.
And now, my lads, for to conclude, it’s time to make an end;
Let’s see if we can form a plan that these bad times may mend;
Then give us our old prices, as we have had before,
And we can live in happiness, and rub off the old score.
Source: John Harland and T. T. Wilkinson’s Ballads and Songs of Lancashire: Ancient and Modern, 3rd edition, 193-95.
THE HANDLOOM WEAVER’S LAMENT
By Ewan McVicar Tune Shift and Spin
Shift and spin, weave and twine
Making cloth coarse and fine
Poor folk work while rich folk dine
Make your shuttle fly
Spin your yarn, spin it well
Spin enough to weave an ell
Weave enough to claith yersel
Make yer shuttle fly
As the spinning mills come in
We’ll go there, our bread to win
Singing sadly in the din
Workin in the mill