R.Topliff (1815)


Location: town
Time of Occurrence
Collective name
Sword Dancers


Source author
Source title
A Selection of the most Popular Melodies of the Tyne and Wear
Source publication
London, R.Topliff, [1815], pp.37,42


Squire's Son
Sailor Bold
Tailor Fine
Keelman Grand


{The Sword Dancers.}



The first that I call in, is a squire's son,
He's like to loss his love, because he is too young.


Altho' he be too young, he has money for to rove,
And he'll freely spend it all, before he'll loss his love.


The next that I call in, he is a sailor bold,
He came to poverty by the lending of his gold.


The next that I call in, he is a tailor fine,
What think you of his work, he made this coat of mine.


The next that I call in, he is a keelman grand,
He goes both fore and aft, with his long sett in his hand.

{(Note.) After other characters are introduced in a similar manner,the sword-dance takes place, in which one of them is killed, and they again sing.}


Alas our actor's dead, and on the ground he's laid,
Some of us must suffer for't young men, I'm sore afraid.


I am sure t'was none of me, I am clear of the crime,
'Twas him that follows me, that drew his sword so fine.


I'm sure 'twas none of me, I'm clear of the fact,
'Twas him that follows me, that did the bloody act.


Then cheer up my bonny lads and be of courage bold,
We'll take him to the church, and bury him in the mould.

{(Note.) The doctor is introduced, and a dialogue of some length takes place, which terminates in his restoring the man to life, the ceremony concludes with the following verses, and a dance to the tune of Kity-Bo Bo.}


Cox-Green's a bonny place, where water washes clean,
And painshaw's on a hill, where we have merry been.


You'v seen them call'd in, you'v seen them all go round,
Wait but a little while, some past time shall be found.


Then fidler change the tune, play us a merry jig,
Before I will be beat, I'll pawn both hat and wig.


"This ceremony, which in its origins is extremely remote, is performed chiefly by pitmen, who at Christmas, emerge from their subterraneous employ, forming themselves into parties, each having a sword by his side, and decorated with all the varied coloured ribbons of this mistress, resort to the more populous towns, whereby their performance, in which they display numberless feats of activity, excite the liberality of the inhabitants. The fool and bessey are two of the most conspicuous characters in this motley group. 'Tis there by grimace, gesticulation, and vulgar witicisms to provoke the risible faculties of their audience, and to collect at the end of the entertainment, a reward for the exertions ; they have with them a fidler who accompanies the song in unison with the voice, repeating at the end of each stanza, the latter part of the air, forming an interlude between the verses; during which, the characters as introduced by the singer, make their bow and join the circle. When they are not able to effect an entrance, they exhibit at the front of the house, which in deference to their finery, abbreviates the performance."