Perhaps she’s on the Railway

For those of us who watch American politics from afar – even with all of the acuity that is the hallmark of Chetham’s Library staff – it’s sad to say the only thing any of us know about the Republican challenger Mitt Romney is that he is filthy rich and that he is a Mormon.

Whilst being rich has seldom been seen as a crime in itself – at least until relatively recently – being a member of the Mormon faith has often earned the subject considerable opprobrium and hostility. Why should this should be the case?

Not because the Mormons inflicted the Osmond family, with all their clean living and perfect white teeth, on an unsuspecting public used to a diet of pies, sugar and flat beer, resulting in many people in the North West having their ‘mouths cleared’ by the age of twenty-one (ie removing all teeth and replacing them with dentures). No, as a ballad from the Library’s Holt collection demonstrates, hostility to Mormons is not down to their clean living, but quite the opposite: that they all have more sex than the rest of us. Having said that, one would have to be pretty badly starved of sexual congress to wish the following on one’s ex-wife (click to enlarge and see text below):

Behold in me a wretched man,
Heart-broke by grief and woe,
I’ve lost my wife, and her can’t find,
Whichever way I go.
She robbed me of my heart and home,
And then she fled from me,
And left me by myself to moan,
Wherever can she be?

Perhaps she’s on the Railway, with this gent so fair,
Perhaps she’s up in a Balloon, a flying through the Air,
Perhaps she’s dead, perhaps alive, perhaps she’s on the Sea,
Perhaps she’s gone to Brigham Young, a Mormon saint to be.

She read so much of Brigham Young,
Of nothing else she’d talk,
And with a sanctified young gent,
Each day she used to walk;
She said he was a Mormon saint,
From far across the sea
I haven’t seen her for a week,
Wherever can she be?

She can’t respect her marriage vow,
Of that I’m pretty sure,
I hope she’ll wed some Mormon saint,
With a hundred wives or more.
I hope he’ll thrash her every night,
For cruelly she served me,
I hope they’ll always row and fight,
Wherever they may be.

I hope she’ll have a hundred kids,
Dangling in her lap,
I hope she’ll never know no joy,
But feeding kids on pap;
I hope their house may soon catch fire,
Or that it down may fall,
Kill her, her saint, and Brigham Young,
With all his crew and all.

If she’s on the Railway,
I hope she may be killed,
If she’s up in a Balloon,
I hope she may get spilled,
If on the road to Salt Lake,
I hope she may get drowned,
Then I’ll get another wife,
And quick too I’ll be bound.


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