Cosher Bailey's Engine
DESCRIPTION: "Cosher Bailey had an engine, It was always wanting and mending." Tall tales of Bailey, the engine (bought second-hand, and capable of "four miles an hour"), his sister, brother, daughter, education, and death
EARLIEST DATE: 1893 (Cambrian Minstrelsie, Volume 1)
LONG DESCRIPTION: Railroader Cosher Bailey's locomotive is described, along with his sister, brother, daughter, and escapades. At least half of the verses are double entendre, in a cleaned-up sort of way -- e.g. "Cosher Bailey had a daughter/Who did things she shouldn't oughta/She was quite beyond the pale/But over that we'll draw a veil." He dies (maybe) and is refused entrance into Hell
KEYWORDS: train humorous family funeral death sex railroading bawdy Devil
FOUND IN: Britain(Wales)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
MacColl-Shuttle, pp. 17-18, "Cosher Bailey's engine" (1 text (edited), 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 31, "Cosher Bailey's Engine" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Jon Raven, _VIctoria's Inferno: Songs of the Old Mills, Mines, Manufacturies, Canals, and Railways_, Roadside Press, 1978, pp. 53-54, "Cosher Bailey" (1 text, 1 tune)
cf. "Mochyn Du (The Black Pig)" (tune)
cf. "Was You Ever See?" (tune, structure)
cf. "Lili Lon" (tune)
NOTES [214 words]: I suspect there are verses out there considerably more bawdy than these. - PJS
As well as some of the "blatantly obviously cleaned up" variety -- witness this from the Digital Tradition:
Cosher Bailey's brother Matthew
Had a job at cleaning statues
But when he was cleaning Venus
He slipped and broke his elbow.
In fact, the notes in MacColl-Shuttle, derived from A. L. Lloyd, admit that there are many ribald verses.
According to those notes, Bailey was an ironmaster who in 1846 built the Taff Vale railroad. Legend has it that he drove the first train on the line and got stuck in a tunnel -- obviously something that invited some really dirty verses. Bailey is said to have died in 1872, by which time railroads had obviously been entirely vindicated.
It was John Patrick who pointed out to me the citation of this song in the 1893 volume of Cambrian Minstrelsie. Under the tune "Lili Lon" ("Bright Lily") there is a reference to a "comic song" sung to the same tune, which begins
Crawsay Bailey had an imjin,
It was puffin' and a-blowing',
And according to its power,
It was go five miles an hour.
Was you ever see, (x3)
Such a thing before!
It would appear that even this 1893 version had undergone some folk processing (or damage), so the song is presumably even older. - RBW
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