Supriya Ghosh

The Pitman's Revenge

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Written  c1804
Lyricist(s)  George Cameron
Published  Allan
Language  English (Geordie)

The Pitman's Revenge (against Bonaparte) in Geordie dialect is a traditional Geordie folk song written c1804, by George Cameron, in a style deriving from music hall.



Around this period, Napoleon had gathered his armies and was threatening Britain. All over the country volunteer regiments (a sort of Homer Guard) were being recruited. George Cameron served as a Sergeant in one such regiment formed to defend Newcastle upon Tyne. He wrote this, his first (and it appears his only) song "The Pitman's Revenge against Bonaparte" during this period, c1804. He first performed the song at a meeting of his regiment, and despite being met with much approval this appears to have been the only song he wrote.
According to the 1872 edition of "Allan's Illustrated Edition of Tyneside songs", Cameron's daughter reported that the writer first performed the song at a meeting of his regiment at the Three Indian Kings on Newcastle's Quayside, and that the song was later borrowed by a friend, who, unbeknown to the writer, arranged for it to be published. The story was added to in the 1891 edition when a report from Cameron's grandson showed that on the first printing by Bell, a whole line had been missed and in various other printings the author's name had either been omitted or erroneously given as John Shield. These errors were corrected in the 1891 edition.


Verse 1
Ha'e ye heerd o' these wondrous Dons,
That myeks this mighty fuss, man,
About invadin' Britain's land?
I vow they're wondrous spruce, man;
But little de the Frenchmen ken
About wor loyal Englishmen;
Wor Collier lads are for cockades,
They'll fling away their picks an' spades
For guns te shoot the French, man.

Tol lol de rol, de rol de rol.

Verse 2
Then te parade the Pitmen went,
Wi' hearts byeth stout an' strang, man;
Gad smash the French! we are se strang,
We'll shoot them ivry one, man!
Gad smash me sark! if aw wad stick
Te tummel them a' doon the pit;
As fast as aw cud thraw a coal,
Aw'd tummel them a' doon the hole,
An' close her in aboon, man.


Verse 3
Heeds up! says one, ye silly sow,
Ye dinna mind the word, man;
Eyes reet! says Tom, an' wi' a dam,
And march off at the word, man;
Did ever mortals see sic brutes,
Te order me to lift maw kutes?
Ad smash the fyul! he stands and talks,
How can he learn me te walk,
That's wark'd this forty year, man!


Verse 4
But shud the Frenchmen shew thor fyece,
Upon wor waggon-ways, man,
Then, there upon the road, ye knaw,
We'd myek them end thor days, man;
Ay, Bonaparte's sel aw'd tyek,
An' thraw him i' the burnin' heap,
An' wi' greet speed aw'd roast him deed;
His marrows, then, aw waddent heed,
We'd pick oot a' thor een, man.


Verse 5
Says Willy Dunn to loyal Tom,
Yor words are a' a joke, man;
For Geordy winna hae yor help,
Ye're sic kamstarie folk, man;
Then Willy, lad, we'll rest in peace,
In hopes that a' the wars may cease;
But awse gi'e ye, Wull, te understand,
As lang as aw can wield me hand,
Thor's nyen but George shall reign, man.


Verse 6
Eneuf of this hes shure been said,
Cried cowardly Willy Dunn, man;
For shud the Frenchmen cum this way,
We'd be ready for te run, man.
Gad smash ye, for a fyul! says Tom,
For if aw cudden't use me gun,
Aw'd tyek me pick and hew them doon,
An' run an' cry, thro' a' the toon,
God save greet George, wor King, man!


Comments on variations to the above version

In the early 19th century, as today, there were cheap books and magazines. Many of these "chapbooks" were on poor quality paper to a poor standard and with poor quality print. The works were copied with no thoughts of copyright, and the work required very little proof-reading, and what was done was not required to a high standard. Consequently, the dialect words of songs varied between editions. As this was a very popular song, it appeared in numerous editions. The many versions published show considerable, some very minor, variations, mainly in the spelling of the words, and sometimes variations within the same edition. Some of the most common are listed below:


a' and all
aboon and abuin
about and aboot
an' and and
aw's and awse
ay and aye
burnin' and burning
come and cum
could and cud
could not and cudden't
cried and cry'd
cutes and kutes
de and do
doon and down
eneuf and enough
every and ivry
face, fyeece and fyece
fool and fyul
great and greet
ha'e ye and ha'ye
heads and heeds
heard and heerd
invadin' and invading
maw, me and my
one and yen
oot and out
our and wor
reet and right
sae and se
shew and show
should and shud
shure and sure
stoot and stout
te and to
their and thor
thro' and through
tumble and tummel
walk's, walked and wark'd

Specific differences

  • Verse 1 Line 8 – originally this line was omitted in the printing
  • Verse 1 Line 9 – originally started with "For"
  • Verse 4 Line 8 – varies between wad nae heed and waddent heed
  • Verse 6 Line 7 varies from "Aw'd tyek me pick, and hew them doon" or "aw'd hew"
  • References

    The Pitman's Revenge Wikipedia

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