Friday, 27 January 2012

27th January 1812: Song 'General Ludd's Triumph', Nottinghamshire

General Ludd’s Triumph
Tune “Poor Jack”

Chant no more your old rhymes about bold Robin Hood,
His feats I but little admire
I will sing the Achievements of General Ludd
Now the Hero of Nottinghamshire
Brave Ludd was to measures of violence unused
Till his sufferings became so severe
That at last to defend his own Interest he rous’d
And for the great work did prepare

Now by force unsubdued, and by threats undismay’d
Death itself can’t his ardour repress
The presence of Armies can’t make him afraid
Nor impede his career of success
Whilst the news of his conquests is spread far and near
How his Enemies take the alarm
His courage, his fortitude, strikes them with fear
For they dread his Omnipotent Arm!

The guilty may fear, but no vengeance he aims
At the honest man’s life or Estate
His wrath is entirely confined to wide frames
And to those that old prices abate
These Engines of mischief were sentenced to die
By unanimous vote of the Trade
And Ludd who can all opposition defy
Was the grand Executioner made

And when in the work of destruction employed
He himself to no method confines
By fire, and by water he gets them destroyed
For the Elements aid his designs
Whether guarded by Soldiers along the Highway
Or closely secured in the room
He shivers them up both by night and by day
And nothing can soften their doom

He may censure great Ludd’s disrespect for the Laws
Who ne'er for a moment reflects
That foul Imposition alone was the cause
Which produced these unhappy effects
Let the haughty no longer the humble oppress
Then shall Ludd sheath his conquering Sword
His grievances instantly meet with redress
Then peace will be quickly restored

Let the wise and the great lend their aid and advice
Nor e’er their assistance withdraw
Till full fashioned work at the old fashion’d price
Is established by Custom and Law
Then the Trade when this ardorus contest is o’er
Shall raise in full splendor it’s head
And colting, and cutting, and squaring no more
Shall deprive honest workmen of bread.

The ballad 'General Ludd's Triumph' is a good illustration of the rhetoric and concerns of Nottinghamshire Luddism, and makes for an interesting contrast with other 'Luddite song', principally the songs of West Yorkshire Luddism which will be featured in due course. It is not clear exactly when the song was written, but a transcription of the lyrics appears in the Home Office papers at HO 42/119, dated 27th January 1812, so it was clearly composed prior to that date. The Burnley band Chumbawamba are well known for their version of this song, and it can be heard here.

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