Rolling in the Dew (The Milkmaid)
DESCRIPTION: Boy: Where are you going? Girl: Milking. Boy: May I come? Girl: Why not? Boy: What if I lay you down? Girl: Then you'll help me up. Boy: What if you get pregnant? Girl: You'll be the father....
EARLIEST DATE: 1842 (Halliwell), according to Kennedy
KEYWORDS: dialog seduction
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MW,Ro,So) Britain(England(Lond,South),Scotland(Aber)) Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (30 citations):
Randolph 79, "The Milking Maid" (1 short text, 1 tune)
Eddy 52, "The Milkmaid" (1 text)
Hudson 132, pp. 277-278, "The Milkmaid" (1 text plus mention of "numerous" others)
Moore-Southwest 100, "Mary Jane the Milkmaid" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hubbard, #75, "Where Are You Going, My Pretty Maid?" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Ford-Vagabond, pp. 137-138, "Where Are You Going, My Pretty Fair Maid?" (1 text)
Doerflinger, pp. 68-70, "Sacramento" (3 texts, 2 tunes, with the third text deriving its tune from this piece; the other two texts are independent)
Hugill, pp. 92, 210-211, "Rio Grande" (1 fragment, version "c" of "Rio Grande," with the text of this song and the chorus of "Rio Grande") [AbEd, p. 85]; "Blow the Man Down" (1 text, version "e" of "Blow the Man Down" sung to the that tune as well as those of "Rio Grande" and "Goodbye, Fare-ye-well") [AbEd, pp. 165-166]
GreigDuncan4 811D, "I'm Gaun to the Wood"; GreigDuncan4 812, "Rolling in the Dew" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Sharp-100E 44, "Dabbling in the Dew" (1 text, 1 tune)
Reeves-Sharp 24, "Dabbling in the Dew" (1 text)
Reeves-Circle 27, "Dabbling in the Dew" (2 texts)
Copper-SoBreeze, pp. 238-239, "Rolling in the Dew" (1 text, 1 tune)
Wiltshire-WSRO Wt 407, "Mummers' Song" (1 text)
Purslow-Constant, p. 80, "Rolling in the Dew" (1 text, 1 tune)
RoudBishop #67, "Dabbling in the Dew" (1 text, 1 tune)
Kennedy 189, "Rolling in the Dew" (1 text, 1 tune); also 94, "Pelea era why moaz, moes fettow teag? [Where Are You Going To, My Pretty Maid?" (1 text + Cornish translation, 1 tune)
OShaughnessy-Yellowbelly2 56, "Where Are You Going To My Pretty Maid" (1 text, 1 tune)
Leather, p. 205, "The Milkmaid's song" (1 censored excerpt, 1 tune)
LPound-ABS, 112, pp. 228-229, "The Milkmaid"; p. 230, "The Pretty Milkmaid" (2 texts, neither of which recounts the seduction)
JHCox 125, "The Milkmaid" (2 texts)
Gainer, p. 150, "Where Are You Going, My Pretty Fair Maid" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-SNewBrunswick 46, "My Pretty Maid" (1 text, 1 tune)
Opie-Oxford2 317, "Where are you going to, my pretty maid?" (3 texts)
Dolby, p. 43, "Where Are You Going to, My Pretty Maid" (1 text)
BBI, ZN242, "As I walked forth one summers day" ("Dreadful expansion of 'Where are you going my pretty maid, I'm going milking sir, she said'")
DT, DABBLDEW* MILKMDFR*
ADDITIONAL: Herbert Halpert, "Some Ballads and Folk Songs from New Jersey" in The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. LII, No. 203 (Jan-Mar 1939 (available online by JSTOR)), pp. 58-59 "The Milkmaid" or "A-Rolling in the Dew Makes the Milkmaid So Fair" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Jon Raven, _The Urban and Industrial Songs of the Black Country and Birmingham_, Broadside, 1977, pp. 14-15, "Dabbling in the Dew" (1 text, 1 tune)
Walter de la Mare, _Come Hither_, revised edition, 1928; #219, "Dabbling in the Dew" (1 text, probably cleaned up)
George Maynard, "Rolling in the Dew" (on FSB2CD, Maynard1, Voice10)
Bodleian, Firth b.26(348), "Where Are You Going My Pretty Maid?," H. Such (London), 1863-1885; also Firth b.34(275) View 2 of 2, "Where Are You Going My Pretty Maid"
LOCSheet, sm1882 21563, "O Where Are You Going, My Pretty Maid?," J. M. Russell (Boston), 1882 (tune)
cf. "Seventeen Come Sunday" [Laws O17]
cf. "The New-Mown Hay"
cf. "I'm Goin' Away to Texas" (dialog format, characters and attitude)
Where Are You Going, My Pretty Fair Maid?
NOTES: A number of the versions of this piece, such as Pound's two and the main Opie text, end seemingly BEFORE the seduction; the man asks the girl about her wealth, and she replies, "My face it is my fortune," whereupon he abandons her. I suspect, however, that these versions are bowdlerized, with the seduction eliminated from the middle.
In some cases this may be editors' bowdlerization, but it may have happened naturally in a few instances (note that Laura Ingalls Wilder actually quotes such a version in chapter 13 of By the Shores of Silver Lake!). - RBW
Wiltshire-WSRO has this as a Inglesham Mummers' Play Song. This is an example of a song of courting, rejection, and, in this case acceptance, inserted into a mummers' "wooing" or "plough" play. For other examples and some discussion see "Sweet Moll." - BS
One of the reasons milkmaids were held in such romantic esteem was for their smooth, fair, and un-pockmarked skin, which came from their contact with cowpox and resultant immunity to smallpox -- thus the milkmaid's remark, "My face is my fortune."
Kennedy's Cornish words are a revivalist translation from the English. - PJS
There seem to be several pieces of this sort floating about. Gammer Gurton's Garland and others have one running,
Little maid, pretty maid, whither goes thou?
Down in the (forest/meadow) to milk my cow.
Shall I go with thee? -- No, not now;
When I send for thee, then come thou.
(See Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #101, p. 90; Opie-Oxford2, p. 280, #313.) I suspect it is actually this, not "Rolling in the Dew," that Kennedy is citing for his date. I also suspect it is a cleaned-up version designed for public consumption.
Similarly, I suspect that Cox, who cites the "Universal Songster" of 1829, was looking at a clean version.
Robert Burns, it appears, collected a true "Rolling in the dew makes the milkmaid fair" text (thanks to Jonathan Lighter for pointing this out), but he did not supply details of the collection. Nonetheless this makes it clear that the song dates at least to the eighteenth century. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.2
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.