Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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100               Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
beer, sharpened their shears, and set to work again. Their dinner-hour was one, but this was not the great meal of the day, their supper being the time of real enjoyment, and when this was over they would remain for several hours in the house smoking their pipes and singing their sheep-shearing songs, in which they were joined by the servants of the farm; and sometimes the master and mistress of the house would favour them with their presence.
Some of these sheep-shearing songs still linger in the memories of old men and women, and may occasionally be heard at rural merry-makings, one of their characteristics being their interminable length. The following is a speci­men :—
Come, all my jolly boys, and we'll together go Abroad with our masters, to shear the lamb and ewe; All in the merry month of June, of all times in the year, It always comes in season the ewes and lambs to shear; And there we must work hard, boys, until our backs do ache, And our master he will bring us beer whenever we do lack.
Our master he comes round to see our work is doing well,
And he cries, " Shear them close, men, for there is but little wool."
" O yes, good master," we reply, "we'll do well as we can,"
When our Captain calls, " Shear close, boys !" to each and every man.
And at some places still we have this story all day long,
" Close them, boys, and shear them well!" and this is all their song.
And then our noble Captain doth unto our master say,
" Come, let us have one bucket of your good ale, I pray."
He turns unto our Captain and makes him this reply:
" You shall have the best of beer, I promise, presently."
Then out with the bucket pretty Betsy she doth come,
And master says, " Maid, mind and see that every man has some."
This is some of our pastime while we the sheep do shear, And though we are such merry boys, we work hard, I declare; And when 'tis night, and we are done, our master is more free, And stores us well with good strong beer and pipes and tobaccee. So we do sit and drink, we smoke and sing and roar. Till we become more merry far than e'er we were before.
When all our work is done, and all our sheep are shorn, Then home to our Captain, to drink the ale that's strong. 'Tis a barrel, then, of hum cap, which we call the black ram ; And we do sit and swagger, and swear that we are men; But yet before 'tis night, I'll stand you half a crown, That if you ha'n't a special care the ram will knock you down.
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