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Cheshire Wyches.

The following text is taken from Egerton Leigh's Ballads and Tales of Cheshire. London: Longmans and Co.1867. A version of the song was preformed by Cheshire folk band The Time Bandits at 'The Great Salt'.

THE ‘Wyches,’ and their plenteous store
Of rock-salt and of brine,
I sing,—a theme unsung before
By any lyre but mine. 
 
Apollo! thou the song exalt,
And from Parnassus mine
Impregnate with true Attic salt
This rhapsody saline.

Our ‘Wyches’ if deprived of these,
No salt below the soil,
In vain to thrutch the daily cheese
Would Cheshire damsel toil.

In infancy we all were taught
A trick that never fails,
How easily old birds are caught
With salt upon their tails.

A salmon hooked from fin to fin,
Full fifteen inches wide,
A pretty pickle he’d be in,
Were Cheshire salt denied!

When fattened hogs, of life bereft,
The appetite awaken,
What recipe have housewives left,
Save salt, to save their bacon?
 
Oude, skilled in soups and fricandeaux,
Without it were at fault,
Himself unequal to compose
A substitute for salt.

Soupe maigre were more maigre still,
Cold salads, grass would be;
Eat devils without salt who will,
The devil a bit for me!
 
No omen sad to cause alarm,
The mustard-pot o’erthrown;
Nor threatens any future harm
When pepper falls alone.

But salt, if spilt, each guest shall rue;
The scattered grains foretell
Rid luck to him who overthrew,
And worse to whom it fell.

Fair Venus, rising from the sea,
Was born upon the tide;
This charming goddess, what was she
But salt personified?
 
To her, the queen of smiles and mirth,
Old Ocean’s loveliest daughter,
Nor fount nor river stream gave birth,
No—salt was in the water.

As in the sea so on the strand
Its properties combine,
And Cheshire is the favoured land
Of Beauty and of Brine.
 
This nation may our queen exalt,
And blessings still accrue,
And never may one tear of salt
The royal eye bedew.
 
When knaves and traitors she would clear
From foul corruption’s blot,
We’ll bathe them, if she sends them here,
In brine-pan boiling hot

If France has not had war enough,
We’re ready still to meet her;
And give our foe a pinch of snuff
In the shape of black saltpetre.
 
Salt Hill invites the world to share
The Montem’s festive scene;
For ages salt and silver there
Synonymous have been.
 
Since all who deal in salt have skill
As Midas had of old,
May salt to-day our coffers fill,
And ev’ry grain be gold.