Digital Tradition Mirror

Get Welshmen to Break the Stone

Get Welshmen to Break the Stone
(Dafydd Jones)

 Os bydd eisiau cael swyddogion,
 Danfon ffwrdd a wneir yn union,
 Un ai Gwyddel, Sais neu Scotsman,
 Sydd mewn swyddau braidd ymhobman.

 Mewn gweithfeydd sydd yma'n Nghymru,
 Gwelir Saeson yn busnesu;
 Rhaid cael Cymry i dorri'r garreg,
 Nid yw'r graig yn deall Saesneg.

 (If officials are needed,
 They are at once sent for from afar,
 Either Irishmen, English or Scots,
 Are in jobs almost everywhere.

 In works here in Wales,
 Englishmen can be seen interfering;
 You must get Welshmen to break the stone,
 For the rock does not understand English.

 The verses are found in a collection in the British Museum called "Welsh Songs,
etc., 1767 -
 1870," No. 69. I have the reference in an excellent book on the labor union of
the slate workers in
 North Wales, written by R. Merfyn Jones, called "The North Wales Quarrymen 1874
- 1922"
 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1982).

 The song reflects not so much resentment at doing the actual labor of quarrying
-- there was
 immense pride taken in the skills required for prizing the stone from the
quarries and then
 dressing and splitting the slate into shingles, etc. -- but rather at the
ineptitude and arrogance of
 the English owners and managers who had little or no understanding of the
complexities of
 quarrying slate. Jones makes clear that there was an earnest belief on the part
of some people
 that only the Welsh -- and indeed only Welsh speakers -- could properly run a

This particular David Jones is the famous balladmonger from Llanybydder, Carms,
 Jones (1803-1868), also known as 'Dewi Medi' and 'Dewi Dywyll'. He was blinded
by lime
 blowing into his eyes when he was a child, and became one of the most
productive composers
 of 19th century ballads, which he also sang and sold. In the verse quoted by
Wolfgang, he his
 complaining that the captains of industry in Wales tend to be English - the
Welsh are required
 to undertake menial tasks like breaking stones. It is a bit of sarcasm not
often found on this
 subject in the ballads of that period. I am not able to check the relevant
ballad at the moment but
 could do so some other time. Tegwyn


Thanks to Mudcat for the Digital Tradition!

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