The Cheshire Man
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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The words and melody of this tune are in Edward Jones's Popular Cheshire Melodies (1798). The "round" discussed is a hornpipe dance. The "Cheshire Round" was used in several ballad operas including John Gay's ballad opera Polly. It appeared in The Dancing Master (11th edition, 1701). There are engravings of actors dancing the Cheshire Round in play-bills dated 1691. A Cheshire man sail'd into Spain,
To trade for merchandise;
When he arrived from the main
A Spaniard him espies,
A Spaniard him espies.

Who said, 'You English rogue, look here!
What fruit and spices fine
Our land produces twice a year!
Thou hast not such in thine,
Thou hast not such in thine.'

The Cheshire man ran to his hoard
And fetch'd a Cheshire cheese,
And said, 'Look here, you dog! behold!
We have such fruits as these,
We have such fruits as these.'

'Your fruits are ripe but twice a year,
As you yourself do say;
But such as I present you here
Our land brings twice a day,
Our land brings twice a day.'

The Spaniard in a passion flew,
And his rapier took in hand:
The Cheshire man kick'd up his heels,
Saying, 'Thou'rt at my command,'
Saying, 'Thou'rt at my command.'

So never let the Spaniard boast
While Cheshire men a bound,
Lest they should teach him to his cost
To dance a Cheshire Round,
To dance a Cheshire Round.
Related Links
From One Hundred Songs of England
See Bibliography for full information.