Charlie Is My Darling

DESCRIPTION: Charlie comes to town; he spies a lass. He runs up the stairs; she opens the door, and he sets her on his knee. The rest is left to imagination. Chorus: "Charlie he's my darling, my darling, my darling/Charlie he's my darling, the young Chevalier"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: c.1775 (Ritter and Henderson)
LONG DESCRIPTION: [Based on Ritter] Charly came to town "recruiting grenadiers" A "maid both young and sweet" saw him from her window and, being alone at home invited him in "to please a bonny lass" He gave a her purse of gold "as long as her arm" She sings, "up the rosy mountains and down the scroggy glen; We dare not go a milking for Charly and his men. Yet we will go a milking let them say what they will, And if we dare not milk the cow our maids will milk the bull" She put on her best, met him in Aberdeen, and followed him to Inverness. "Her true love was forc'd to fly, and leave Culloden muir," leaving her behind. She says she'll wait for him till he comes home; if she could, she would follow him over the sea.
KEYWORDS: courting army soldier Jacobites seduction
1745-1746 - The '45 Rebellion, led by Bonnie Prince Charlie
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (11 citations):
Hogg2 49, Hogg2 50, "Charlie Is My Darling" (2 texts, 1 tune)
GreigDuncan4 803, "'Twas on a Monday Mornin'" (1 fragment)
Silber-FSWB, p. 140, "Charlie Is My Darling" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL:Robert Chambers, The Picture of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1828 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. I, p. 166, ("Blythe, blythe, and merry was she")
ADDITIONAL: Alfred M. Williams, _Studies in Folk-Song and Popular Poetry_, Houghton Mifflin, 1894, pp. 125-126, "Charlie Is My Darling" (1 text, being Lady Nairn's strongly pro-Charlie rewrite)
Otto Ritter, Neue Quellenfunde zu Robert Burns (Halle, 1903 ("Digitized by Google")), pp. 9-11, "Charlie is my Darling"
(no author listed), _The Vocal Companion_, second edition, D'Almaine and Co., 1937 (available from Google Books), pp. 74-75, "Charlie Is My Darling" (1 text, 1 tune)
James Kinsley, editor, Burns: Complete Poems and Songs (shorter edition, Oxford, 1969) #562, pp. 666-667, "Charlie he's my darling" (1 text, 1 tune, from the Scots Musical Museum)
Walter de la Mare, _Come Hither_, revised edition, 1928; #195, "Charlie He's My Darling" (1 text)
Charles W. Eliot, editor, English Poetry Vol II From Collins to Fitzgerald (New York, 1910), #336, p. 566, "Charlie Is My Darling" (by Carolina Oliphant, Lady Nairne)

Roud #5510
cf. "Shane Crossagh" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Twas on a Monday Mornin'" (form and some lines)
cf. "Johnny Is My Darling" (tune)
Johnny Is My Darling (File: SCW11)
NOTES [997 words]: This is a mess; the song sounds like a fragmentary remnant of a Jacobite song (there is a final verse, "We daurna gang a-milking/For Charlie and his men") but the political content is virtually gone, and we're left with a song of seduction, and a bowdlerized one at that. - PJS
The Hogg2 50 and Burns texts are virtually the same. The Nairne and Digital Tradition texts are virtually the same. The two sets of texts share their first two verses. - BS
Hogg2 49 is a more political version, though it shares only the first verse with the Digital Tradition version. Hogg2: "I wrote [Hogg2 49] some years ago, at the request of a friend, who complained that he did not like the old verses. I have, however, added [Hogg2 50, which is the same as the Burns text] that those who delight in the fine original air may take which they choose." In Hogg2 49, The lasses sing at the king's return for Charlie and his men being "Out-owre yon moory mountain, And down yon craigy glen." - BS
The common version of this, which Paul describes (probably correctly) as bowdlerized, is also rather slanderous; although most of the single women of Scotland (and more than a few of the married ones) swooned after Bonnie Prince Charlie (1720-1788), his behavior was generally above reproach. Indeed, there are "many reports of aloofness towards women during the rising" (Douglas, p. 4); "women played only a secondary part in the life of this frustrated man of action" (Wilkinson, p. 158).
According to Wilkinson, p. 233, "He was always clumsy in his dealings with women." Douglas, p. 7, says, "He was shy and awkward with women, and he loved them, yet he could never give himself totally to them -- not even to those with whom he had passionate affairs." It sounds to me, frankly, as if Charles had some sort of mental condition, either borderline personality disorder (which would explain his terrible relations with women and his youthful anxiety and need for reassurance [Douglas, pp. 44-45) or very high-functioning autism (which would explain the relations with women, his anxiety, how easily he fell into alcoholism, and the fact that he couldn't stand steadily until age three [Douglas, p. 33], and his curious mix of abominable spelling and brilliant linguistic abilities -- he had what are known as "splinter skills" in autism circles).
It is reliably reported that Charlie left only one illegitimate child -- Charlotte (1753-1789), by Clementina Walkinshaw, with whom he lived for several years (c. 1752-1760; Wilkinson, pp. 233-234). Walkinshaw seems to have been the great love of his life, or at least the only liaison with any durability; he did not marry until 1772, and this marriage was dissolved. It is possible that Charlie was nearly sterile, as his marriage produced no children, but it seems more likely that his wife Louisa was infertile, as she had no children despite repeated proofs of adultery.
The fact that the girl is called "Jenny" is interesting; it is of course a solidly Scots name, but "the Hanoverians tried to make propaganda of 'affairs' with mistresses in Scotland, especially poor, innocent Jenny Cameron, who did nothing more than bring a group of Cameron men to join his army, but was piloried by pamphleteers and cartoonists, and Flora MacDonald" (Douglas, p. 4).
The Digital Tradition version of this song is much more political than the common text, and lacks the sexual element; I wish I knew more about its origin.
Long after this song was collected, William Allingham (1824-1889; for his history, see the notes to "Lovely Mary Donnelly") wrote his poem "The Fairies" ("Up the airy mountain, Down the rushy glen, We daren't go a-hunting For fear of little men..."). That that verse and this song are related seems undeniable -- though the nature of the link is unclear. For Allingham's complete poem, see Kathleen Hoagland, editor, One Thousand Years of Irish Poetry (New York, 1947), pp. 509-510, "The Fairies"; Walter de la Mare, Come Hither, revised edition, 1928; #133, "The Fairies"; or Donagh MacDonagh and Lennox Robinson, The Oxford Book of Irish Verse (Oxford, 1958, 1979), pp. 82-84, "The Fairies (A Child's Song)."
Incidentally, the reference to Charles as the "Young Chevalier" is quite proper; one of the titles of James III was the Chevalier de Saint George, which would eventually pass to Charles. - RBW
Henderson -- T.F. Henderson, "'Charlie He's My Darling,' and other Burns's Originals" in The Scottish Historical Review (Glasgow, 1906 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. III, pp. 171-178 -- prints and comments on "the original 'Charlie He's My Darling,' or at least a portion of it, for there are several stanzas, which, after the lapse of a century and more, no longer quite accord with the current notions of propriety." Ritter quotes the same text but includes the four of fourteen verses Henderson omits. Ritter's source is a volume of broadsides in the British Muuseum (shelfmark 1346.m.7(24), undated, c.1775). Henderson's source is "a volume containing a large number of rare white-letter broadsides, the majority of which are dated either 1775 or 1776. The 'Charlie He's My Darling' broadside ... is undated, but print and paper are identical with those of the 1775 and 1776 sheets ...."
Henderson makes the case that the Scots Musical Museum "Charlie He's My Darling" (1796) is a Burns work based on the 1775-1776 broadside text.
Looking at the broadside text, rather than the Museum text, Henderson writes that "Most probably it has reference to the affair of Clementina Walkinshaw. She rejoined Prince Charlie in France on his escape from Scotland and became the mother of Charlotte Stewart, whose hard fate in being debarred from her supposed heritage, the throne of her ancestors, is lamented by Burns in 'The Bonie Lass of Albanie."
"Milk the bull" is usually taken as a metaphor for a foolish attempt, in the absence of a "cow" readily yielding milk, to do the impossible. Here the metaphor is entirely realizable. - BS
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