General Ludd's Triumph
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 Grand executioner made.
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 fashioned price
Is established by Custom and Law.
Then the Trade when this arduous contest is o'er
Shall raise in full splendour its head,
And colting and cutting and squaring no more
Shall deprive honest workmen of bread.
Contemporary ballad, quoted in The Making of the English Working Class by E.P.Thompson, who gives a lengthy history and background to the Luddite risings, placing them in the context of working class resistance to de-skilling and the loss of a more humane and equitable way of life to the horrors of the early capitalist factory system. 'Colting' was the practice of employing unskilled apprentices to do a skilled person's work, in contravention of established law and custom, 'cutting and squaring' were means of passing off substandard goods for the better quality craft-made product.
To the tune 'Poor Jack' (though God knows what that sounds like)