Sewin’ Class Song Samuel Laycock

Come, lasses, let’s cheer up, an’ sing, it’s no use lookin’ sad,
We’ll mak’ eawr sewin’ schoo’ to ring, an’ stitch away loike mad;
We’ll mak’ th’ best job we con o’ owt we han to do,
We read an’ write, an’ spell an’ kest, while here at th’ sewin’ schoo’.
Then, lasses, let’s cheer up an’ sing, etc.
Eawr Queen, th’ Lord Mayor o’ London, too, they send us lots o’ brass,
An’ neaw, at welly every schoo’, we’n got a sewin’ class;
We’n superintendents, cutters eawt, an’ visitors an’ o;
We’n parsons, cotton mesturs, too, come in to watch us sew.
Sin’ th’ war begun, an’ th’ factories stopped, we’re badly off, it’s true.
But still we needn’t grumble, for we’n noan so mich to do;
We’re only here fro’ nine to four, an’ han an heawer for noon.
We noather stop so very late nor start so very soon.
It’s noice an’ easy sittin’ here, ther’s no mistake i’ that,
We’d sooner do it, a foine seet, nor root amung th’ Shurat;
We’n ne’er floats to unweave neaw, we’re reet enough, bi th’ mass,
For we couldn’t have an easier job nor goin’ to th’ sewin’ class.
We’re welly killed wi’ kindness neaw, we really are, indeed,
For everybody’s tryin’ hard to get us o we need;
They’n sent us puddins, bacon, too, an’ lots o’ dacent cloes,
An’ what they’ll send afore they’n done ther’s nob’dy here ’at knows.
God bless these kind, good-natured folk, ’at sends us o this stuff,
We conno tell ’em o we feel, nor thank ’em hawve enough;
They help to find us meat an’ clooas, an’ eddicashun, too,
An’ what creawns o, they give us wage for goin’ to th’ sewin’ schoo’.
We’n sich a chance o’ lamin’ neaw we’n never had afore:
An’ oh, we shall be rare an’ wise when th’ Yankee wars are o’er;
Ther’s nob’dy then con puzzle us wi’ owt we’n larned to do,
We’n getten polished up so weel wi’ goin’ to th’ sewin’ schoo’.
Young fellows lookin’ partners eawt had better come this way,
For neaw we’n larned to mak’ a shirt, we’re ready ony day;
But mind, they’ll ha’ to ax us twice, an’ mak’ a deol ado,
We’re gettin’ rayther saucy neaw, wi’ goin’ to th’ sewin’ schoo’.
Ther’ll be some lookin’ eawt for wives when th’ factories start ogen,
But we shall never court wi’ noan but dacent, sober men;
So vulgar chaps, beawt common sense, will ha’ no need to come,
For sooner nur wed sich as these, we’d better stop a-whoam.
Come lasses, then, cheer up an’ sing, it’s no use lookin’ sad,
We’ll mak’ eawr sewin’ schoo’ to ring, an’ stitch away loike mad;
We live i’ hopes afore so lung, to see a breeter day,
For th’ cleawd ’at’s hangin’ o’er us neaw is sure to blow away.
Then, Lasses, let’s cheer up an’ sing, etc.

Title:Sewin' Class Song

Author:Samuel Laycock

Publication:Manchester University Press

Published in:Manchester


Keywords:charity, comic, dialect, gender, song, unemployment


Perhaps not coincidentally, E. Moss’s poem on the same subject, ‘Eawr Factory Skoo’, uses the same metre as this – iambic heptameter. If you recite this to the tune of ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ you will find it fits very well despite that song being trochaic, but remember that Lancastrian articles are often elided in speech into the previous or following words so, for instance, ‘for th’ cleawd’ has only two syllables. The collective female voice of this first person plural form of address is very unusual in Cotton Famine poetry, but only serves to highlight the relative lack of authentic female poetic voices in this body of work, especially of working-class origin.

Along with several other poems on the subject (see E. Moss’s ‘Eawr Factory Skoo’ and Joseph Ramsbottom’s ‘Gooin’ t’ Schoo’) the tone is rather celebratory in contrast to many Cotton Famine poems and the general attitude to the educational programmes begun during the crisis appears to be positive if the poetry is any guide. Of course, such poems, written and published during the crisis, may have functioned as encouragements to continue organising and attending such programmes and effectively have been propaganda exercises. The moral tone of the penultimate stanza would be in keeping with this interpretation. This is one of eleven Cotton Famine poems which feature in Brian Hollingworth’s Songs of the People: Lancashire dialect poetry of the industrial revolution (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1977), the most significant anthology of such works during the twentieth century.

- SR.