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The Calico Printer's Clerk is an English, in fact Lancashire, broadside ballad that was set to a tune by Dave Moran (Halliard). It tells the tale of a twee young gentleman, a cruel but beautiful young lady, and the eponymous clerk, who quite literally waltzes off with the girl in the end.
It is full of rich, period detail from 1860s Lancashire, including lines like the gentleman's remark: “I was dressed in the pink of fashion all me clothes and shoes were new.” It also details the trendy dances of the time, mentioning schottisches, varsoviennes, polkas, mazurkas, waltzes, and circassians as it relates its sadly comical tale. It is featured on the Harry Boardman/ Mark Dowding compilation ‘The Manchester Ballads’ – all part of Lancastrians’ rich folk heritage.

Lyrics

In Manchester, that city of cotton, twist and twills
There's a girl who's young and pretty, she's the cause of all me ills
Years she has but twenty and her eyes are azure blue
Admirers she's got plenty and her name is Dorothy Drew.

Chorus:
She was very fond of dancing,
But allow me to remark
One fine day she danced away
With the calico printer's clerk.

It was at a dance I met her in 1863
And I never will forget her, though she was unkind to me
I was dressed in the pink of fashion, all me clothes and shoes were new
And we danced the Waltz Circassian with the lovely Dorothy Drew.

We Schottisched and we Polka'd to the tunes the band did play
We Waltzed and we Mazurka'd, til she waltzed my heart away
I whispered in this manner as around the room we flew
Doing the Varsovianna, "How I love you, Dorothy Drew."

For months and months attention unto her I did pay,
'Til with her condescension, she led me quite astray;
For the money I expended, I'm ashamed to tell to you
I'll inform you how it ended with meself and Dorothy Drew.

She wrote to me a letter that a call she meant to pay
Unto some dear relations, who lived some miles away
In a week she'd be returning, I must bid a short adieu
And her heart for me was burning, oh, deceitful Dorothy Drew!

It was early the next morning, to my breakfast I sat down
The smile my face adorning was soon turned into a frown
For in the morning paper, a paragraph I did view
That Jones, the calico printer's clerk, had married Dorothy Drew.

In Manchester, that city, of cotton, twist and twills
There's a girl who's young and pretty, she's the cause of all me ills
Years she has but twenty and her eyes are azure blue
Admirers she's got plenty and her name was Dorothy Drew.

© PhilDrane Music 2016