Mr Costler (Lehr and Best)

Come all ye young fellows that lives near the sea,
Come and join in my song that I'll sing unto ye;
Come join in my song for there's nothing I fear,
It's concerning Lorne Costler, the brave engineer.

Now Mr Costler is a man you know well -
He's well fixed with brains as many can tell;
He has a large ship, The Packet, I'm sure,
And you will not see the like for miles down the shore.

He was born in Red Island a long time ago -
And he grew up from boyhood to manhood you know;
And he started with a compass and likewise a map -
You will never keep under a man in that hat.

He gained a position to carry the mail
Around to those people who live far away;
Fox Island and Coppett and all those poor souls
Were given in charge of this mailman so bold.

Now I cannot mention in this little song
Those wonderful things that our mailman has done;
The way he has acted, the things he has dared -
So simply forget it and not put it here.

Only one or two verses and I must write it down
About this coward mailman and how he came 'round -
So now you can see it, it's plain, my dear boys,
This is the worst service we had in our lives.

The day must be fine, the sea must be calm -
Billy Warren gets ready at Lorne Costler's command;
'Get down to the engine and give her a prime
Hurry up, Billy Warren, we must go while it's fine.'

The skipper, of course, to the tiller will stand,
He will look overhead and will view all the land;
He'll rub up his forehead and wiggle and shake,
Like a dog with a rope that is tied to a stake.

Now you scarcely can see him, he's so far away,
But we know by the sound he's coming this way;
His engine's still stopped but [by] his spyglass, I'm sure,
[He says:] 'What man in a dory is coming to shore?'

He gives out the mail at a terrible rate,
Saying: 'Next time I'm coming I'm calling both ways.'
[He] gets into his dory and goes down through the reach,
To jaw Billy Warren aboard the great skiff.

Of course it's too foolish for me to relate -
I will never forget that particular day;
Write it down in your log-book and keep it for sure,
I can picture him now bearing out from the shore.

If I had more time I would make up some more,
About Billy Warren when he came to the shore;
How him and Lorne quarrelled while reefing the sail,
The day they reached Ramea coming here with the mail.

Next day he reached Ramea on his homeward voyage -
He took on board freight with the help of some boys;
Billy Warren be ready and passengers too,
Be sure and remember what I'm telling you.

Next morning quite early as you may understand,
He embarked in his Packet and came for this land;
Jack Dominy was one, the engineer he made two,
And the clergy for Burgeo this made up his crew.

How long he was coming I cannot relate,
But when we did see him I guess it was eight;
[He] got a cheque for the teacher and freight for the store,
And the next news we heard he was leaving the shore.

For ice there was none and of wind the same way,
So you know it's the truth what I'm going to say -
He's too big a coward and that is no doubt,
We'll down the old villyan if he don't soon get out!

Now if that's not a humbug, there never was one -
We'll write to St John's to see what can be done;
We'll surely explain about this and about that,
For the old tyrant is now out with the Norwegian Cap.

So now, my dear boys, it's the end of my song,
You can take it and sing it as you go along;
Try and sing it aloud every day in the year,
About this Lorne Costler and his brave engineer.

Here's a health to the captain and engineer, too
But I hope you'll agree what I said about you -
Write it down in your brains for I know they are thick,
You can't come to Deer Island and get off your old tricks!

####.... Author unknown (see note below) ....####
Collected in 1977 by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best from Margaret Carroll [ca.1939-?] of Ramea, NL, and published as #80 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.140-142, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press ©1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that according to Margaret Carroll, this song about the incompetence of a certain mailman and his equally undependable engineer, Billy Warren [b.1944] of Burgeo, Lapoile District, NL, was composed by a teacher on Deer Island on the Southwest Coast. The islanders were obviously highly dissatisfied with their mail service. Lehr also noted that she assumed that the Norwegian Cap was a ship, but it could very well be a place name. Lehr concluded by noting that it has been suggested that Costler could possibly be a regional pronunciation of Costello, a common Newfoundland family name.

See more Lehr and Best songs.

Note: "... an added 'y' can enlarge or distort an existing vowel or diphthong: villyan, joynt, lovyer (villain, giant, lover)." Morath, Max (2004) Translating Mister Dooley: A New Examination of the Journalism of Finley Peter Dunne. (The Journal of American Culture Vol.27, Issue 2, page 147.)


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