Project Canterbury

Songs and Ballads for Manufacturers

By the Rev. John Mason Neale

London: Joseph Masters, 1850.

IV. The Nailers.

[This Ballad only applies where the old method of hand manufacture is, as in many places, continued; and not where Clifford's, Willmore's, or Ledsam's Patents are employed.]

Home is home, however lowly,
So our English proverbs say:
Men that leave their homes go slowly;
Men go fast the other way:
Ploughmen, handicraftsmen, sailors,
One and all must rove and roam;
We are happy, we the nailers,
For we sit and work at home!

Blow or freeze or snow or drizzle,
We have little cause to heed;
Anvil, bellows, forge, and chisel,
These are all the arms we need.
Move the bellows! Soft and steady!
Nurse the furnace! give it strength!
When the iron bar is ready,
Off we chip the proper length.

Watch us while we touch the metal,
When and how our blows are laid;
One too much or one too little
Shows a bungler in the trade:
One will chip, and two will flatten;
Four struck right, the head will cast;
He who works like this will fatten:
He who strikes at chance, must fast.

Where that nail may stand hereafter,
What the scenes he has to see,
Joy or sorrow, tears or laughter,
Matters not to you or me:
We must make him, not for beauty,
But to serve for use and strength;
Fit him out to do his duty,
Head and point and shape and length!

So my young ones--go and view them
Yonder at the Parson's school--
Learn their parts, and how to do them,
And are made by line and rule:
Where their future lot may place them,
Neither he nor I can tell;
But we form them, and we brace them,
While we can, to meet it well!

Project Canterbury