Home-Life of the Lancashire Factory Folk during the Cotton Famine
Edwin Waugh

Part 4 out of 4

{4} "During what has been well named 'The Cotton Famine,' amongst
the imports of cotton from India, perhaps the worst was that
denominated 'Surat,' from the city of that name in the province of
Guzerat, a great cotton district. Short in staple, and often rotten,
bad in quality, and dirty in condition, (the result too often of
dishonest packers,) it was found to be exceedingly difficult to work
up; and from its various defects, it involved considerable
deductions, or 'batings,' for bad work, from the spinners' and
weavers' wages. This naturally led to a general dislike of the Surat
cotton, and to the application of the word 'Surat' to designate any
inferior article. One action was tried at the assizes, the offence
being the applying to the beverage of a particular brewer the term
of 'Surat beer.' Besides the song given above, several others were
written on the subject. One called 'Surat Warps,' and said to be the
production of a Rossendale rhymester, (T. N., of Bacup,) appeared in
Notes and Queries of June 3, 1865, (third series, vol. vii., p.
432,) and is there stated to be a great favourite amongst the old
'Deyghn Layrocks,' (Anglice, the 'Larks of Dean,' in the forest of
Rossendale,) 'who sing it to one of the easy-going psalm-tunes with
much gusto.' One verse runs thus:-

" 'I look at th' yealds, and there they stick;
I ne'er seen the like sin' I wur wick!
What pity could befall a heart,
To think about these hard-sized warps!'

Another song, called 'The Surat Weyver,' was written by William
Billington of Blackburn. It is in the form of a lament by a body of
Lancashire weavers, who declare that they had

" 'Borne what mortal man could bear,
Affoore they'd weave Surat.'

But they had been compelled to weave it, though

" 'Stransportashun's not as ill
As weyvin rotten Su'.'

The song concludes with the emphatic execration,
" 'To hell wi' o' Surat!'"

--Note in "Lancashire Lyrics," vol. ii., edited by John Harland,
Esq., F.S.A.

{5} These beautiful lines, by the veteran Samuel Bamford, of
Harperhey, near Manchester, author of "Passages in the Life of a
Radical," &c., are copied from the new and complete edition of his
poems, entitled "Homely Rhymes, Poems, and Reminiscences," published
by Alexander Ireland & Co., Examiner and Times Office, Pall Mall,
Manchester. Price 3s. 6d., with a portrait of the author.


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