Union Songs

The Chartists Are Coming

A Broadside Ballad c. 1848

What a row and a rumpus there is I declare,
Tens of thousands are flocking everywhere;
To petition the Parliament, onward they steer,
The Chartists are coming, oh dear, oh dear.
To demand equal justice, their freedom and rights,
Pump-handles and broomsticks, lawk, how they can fight;
The nation, they say, is o'erwhelmed with grief,
A peck loaf for two pence and four pounds of beef.

Hurrah for old England and liberty sweet,
The land that we live in and plenty to eat;
We shall ever remember this wonderful day,
The Chartists are coming, get out of the way.

Such a number together was never yet seen,
Hurrah for the Charter and God save the Queen;
And when that the Charter old England has got,
We'll have stunning good beer at three halfpence a pot.
A loaf for a penny, a pig for a crown,
And gunpowder tea at five farthings a pound;
Instead of red herrings we'll live on fat geese,
And get lots of young women at two pence apiece.

The bakers and grocers, look how they do laugh,
With dustmen and coalhavers, armed with a staff;
Five thousand old women, oh, how they do sing,
With frying pans, fenders, and big rolling pins.
There's Russell and Bobby, old Nosey and Hume,
With pistols and bayonets, big muskets and brooms;
Load away, fire away, and chatter and jaw,
Shoot at a donkey and knock down a crow.

See the lads of old Erin for liberty crow,
Smith O'Brien for ever and Erin 'go bragh';
Peace and contentment, then none can we blame,
Plenty of labour and paid for the same.
Some are rolling in riches and luxury too,
While millions are starving, with nothing to do;
Through the nation prosperity soon will be seen,
Hurrah for Great Britain and God save the Queen.

To Kennington come in droves they repair,
'Cause Smith O'Brien and Feargus are there;
A-telling the story would reach, sir, indeed,
From the Land's End of England to Berwick on
Tweed. The Charter, the Charter, or England shall quake,
I wish they may get it, and no grand mistake,
The Feargus shall be a prime minister keen,
And Smith O'Brien a page to the Queen.

Such constables there is in London, now mark,
There's tailors and shoemakers, labourers and clerks,
Gaslightmen, pickpockets, and firemen, too,
Greengrocers and hatters, pork butchers and Jews,
Lollypop merchants and masons a lot,
And the covey that hollers 'Baked taters all hot'.
They're sworn to protect us and keep well the peace,
To frighten the Chartists and help the police.


This Ballad is published in Hugh Anderson's "Fairwell to Judges and Juries" with the note 'Broadside, H. Paul, Printer 22 Brickbane, Spitalfields, nd.
[c. 1848].

There were two big Chartist meetings on Kennington Common in London in on the 10 April and 12 June 1848. They were both called to present huge national petitions to Parliament to extend votes to workers or as the ballad has it 'to demand equal justice, their freedom and rights'. The second petition reached parliament al right but was unceremoniosly burned in the House of Commons furnaces.

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