The Private Still (Mick Casey)
(The Gauger's Song)

An exciseman in Dublin,
when I lived over there,
Fancied that a private still
was being worked somewhere;
He came in one morning
and fancied that I knew,
But never mind that, says he,
"Mick, how do you do?"

"Oh, I'm very well, your honor,
but allow me for to say,
I don't know you at all," says I,
"But be that as it may!"
"I'm trying to find something out,
assist me if you will,
Here's fifty pounds if you will tell me
where there's a private still."

"Give me the fifty pounds," says I,
"Upon my word I can,
And I'll keep me word, the devil-a-lie,
as I'm an Irishman."
The fifty pounds he did lay down,
I pocketed the fee,
"Now sir, button up your coat
and straightway follow me."

As I was walking up the street,
a-talking all the while,
He little thought I'd take him
a-thunderin' many a mile;
He said, "Tell me how much further, Mick.
I'm getting very tired."
I said, "Now let us have a car."
And a jaunting car we hired.

When we got in the car
he says, "Come tell me Mick,
Where is that blessed private still?
Don't take me for a flak."
"A flak, your honor, no, sir!
But hear me if you will,
And I at once will tell you, sir,
where there's a private still.

"My brother is a soldier
in the army he do dwell."
"Oh, the devil take your brother," says he,
"Where is that private still?"
" Oh, yonder is the barracks,
and now it's close at hand,
And when we get up to the gate
we'll see and hear the band.

"And when the band stops playing,
we'll see the soldiers drill."
"To blazes with the soldiers," says he,
"Where is that private still?"
"Half a minute more," says I,
"I'll point him out to you,
There he is, old boy," says I,
"Standing between them two."

"Who in the blazes do you mean?" says he,
Says I, "Me brother Bill;
They wouldn't make him a corporal,
So he's a private still."

When the exciseman heard this,
he wanted his money back,
But I jumped in the car myself
and off was in a crack;
As he walked along the street,
so much against his will,
The people shouted, "Exciseman!
Did you find the private still?"

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, The Private Still, published by H Disley (London) sometime between 1860 and 1883, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Firth c.14(272) ....####
The above variant is from a recitation by Michael (Mick) Casey [1840-1895] of Black Island, Bonavista Bay, NL, published for the 1980 Merasheen Reunion in Placentia Bay, NL, by Loyola Pomroy and Bill Wilson.

A variant was also collected by Sam Henry [1878-1952] and published as #H103 on pp.55-56, in Sam Henry's Songs Of The People, edited, transcribed, and annotated by E Gale Huntingdon [1901-1993]; revised with additions and indices by Lani Herrmann (University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia, 1990).

From the glossary of Classic Whiskey:
Gauger - old name given to an exciseman whose job was to assist in the prevention of illicit distillation, notably poteen, in Ireland.


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