The Grinders' Hardship

NOTE: This song is referenced in Cutlery and Cutlers at Sheffield. While there are many versions of this song, the earliest reference I can find is in the 1862 book The Songs of Joseph Mather.


It happened in the year eighteen hundred and five,

From May-day to Christmas the season was quite dry,

That all our oldest grinders such a time never knew,

For there's few who brave the hardships that we poor grinders do.


In summer time we can't work till water does appear,

And if this does not happen the season is severe:

Then our fingers are numb,d by keen winter frosts or snow,

And few can brave the hardships that we poor grinders do.


When war is proclaimed our masters quickly cry,

“Orders countermanded,” our goods we all lay by;

Your prices we must sattle, and you'll be stinted too

There's few suffer such hardships as we poor grinders do.


There seldom comes a day but our dairy-maid goes wrong.

And if that does not happen, perhaps we break a stone,

Which may wound us for life or give us our final blow,

For there's few that brave such hardships as we poor grinders do.


There's many a poor grinder who's thus been spatched away

Without a moment's warning to meet the Judgment day;

Before his Judge he must appear, his final doom to know -

There are few who brave such hardships as we poor grinders do.


Thus many a poor grinder, whose family is large,

That with his best endeavours cannot his debts discharge,

When children cry for bread, how pitiful the view,

Though few can brave such hardships as we poor grinders do.


So now I must conclude these few humble rhymes

With “ Success to all grinders" who suffer in hard times;

I wish them better fortune-their families the same,

And may we never experience such hardships again.

By being further stinted and paying discount too,

There are few who brave such hardships as we grinders do.

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