Wheel of Fortune (Dublin City, Spanish Lady)

DESCRIPTION: The young man comes to the young woman and asks her to wed. He offers her gold, silver, and land. She tells him she is not interested in these; "all I want is a (good young/handsome) man." That being offered, the two agree to marry
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1883 (Jackson/Burne)
KEYWORDS: courting marriage money virtue playparty
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South,West),Scotland(Aber)) US(Ap,MA,MW,SE,So,SW) Canada(Ont) Ireland
REFERENCES (40 citations):
Greig/Duncan4 746, "The Spanish Lady" (9 texts, 8 tunes)
Greig/Duncan8 1588, "There's a Lady Over Yonder" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
Stewart/Belle-Stewart-QueenAmangTheHeather, p. 28, "Owre yon Hill" (1 text, 1 tune)
Williams-FolkSongsOfTheUpperThames, pp. 196-197, "March Away" (1 text) (also Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Wt 458)
Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Ox 225, "Yonder Sits a Pretty Little Creature" (1 text)
Purslow-TheConstantLovers, p. 73, "Portsmouth City" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brocklebank/Kindersley-DorsetBookOfFolkSongs, p. 24, "Madam, Madam" (2 texts, 2 tunes; the first could be any of the courting songs but looks most like this; the second is clearly this)
Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety, pp. 506-507, "Madam, I Have Gold and Silver" (1 text)
Eddy-BalladsAndSongsFromOhio 98, "Spanish Lady" (1 text); 131, "The Quaker's Wooing" (1 text, 1 tune); possibly 132, "The Sober Quaker" (1 text, 1 tune)
Gardner/Chickering-BalladsAndSongsOfSouthernMichigan 173, "The Wooing" (2 texts, the "A" text being "The Courting Case" and "B" being probably this piece)
McIntosh-FolkSongsAndSingingGamesofIllinoisOzarks, p. 106, "(On yonder hill there stands a lady)" (1 short text, consisting of just the opening lines of either "Wheel of Fortune (Dublin City, Spanish Lady)" or "No, John, No," used as a game song)
Flanders/Brown-VermontFolkSongsAndBallads, pp. 154-155, "Yonder Hill There Is a Widow" (1 text, 1 tune)
Reeves/Sharp-TheIdiomOfThePeople 69, "Ripest Apples" (1 text)
Sharp-EnglishFolkSongsFromSouthernAppalachians 205, "Come My Little Roving Sailor" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
Sharp/Karpeles-EightyEnglishFolkSongs 55, "Come, My Little Roving Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sandburg-TheAmericanSongbag, p. 71, "The Quaker's Wooing" (1 text, 1 tune); also p. 144, "Kind Miss" (1 text, 1 tune, primarily this piece but with one verse of "The Drowsy Sleeper")
Botkin-TreasuryOfAmericanFolklore, pp. 804-805, "There She Stands, a Lovely Creature" (1 text, 1 tune)
Henry/Huntingdon/Herrmann-SamHenrysSongsOfThePeople H532, p. 367, "Tarry Trousers" (1 text, 1 tune -- a curious version in which, after all the business about riches and a good young man, the girl finally sends the lad off by saying she has a sailor love)
OLochlainn-MoreIrishStreetBallads 79A, "The Tarry Trousers" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 12, "Madam, I Have Gold and Silver" (1 text, starting with this song but ending with a "Ripest of Apples" verse and ending with a Riley stanza)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore5 12, "Madam, I have Gold and Silver" (1 tune plus a text excerpt)
Hudson-FolksongsOfMississippi 37, pp. 151-152, "Annie Girl" (1 text, which conflates 2 verses of "The Drowsy Sleeper" [Laws M4], 2 or 3 of "Wheel of Fortune (Dublin City, Spanish Lady)" or "No, John, No: or similar, and 3 verses probably of "Pretty Fair Maid (The Maiden in the Garden; The Broken Token)" [Laws N42])
Cox-FolkSongsSouth 158, "The Spanish Lady" (1 text)
Wolfe/Boswell-FolkSongsOfMiddleTennessee 45, pp. 79-80, "The Spanish Lady" (1 text, 1 tune, with perhaps half the song being floating material; much of it looks more like "The Barnyard of Delgaty" or something similar than like "Wheel of Fortune")
Henry/Huntingdon/Herrmann-SamHenrysSongsOfThePeople H641, p. 383, "Ripest of Apples" (1 text, 1 tune, a tiny fragment of two verses, one of which often occurs with this song while the other is associated primarily with "Carrickfergus." The tune is not "Carrickfergus")
Creighton/Senior-TraditionalSongsOfNovaScotia, pp. 199-200, "Quaker's Courtship" (1 fragment, 1 tune, which might be either this or "The Quaker's Courtship")
Huntington-SongsTheWhalemenSang, pp. 194-195, "Song on Courtship" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 149, "Wheel Of Fortune" (1 text)
Opie/Opie-TheSingingGame 36, "Lady on the Mountain"; Opie/Opie-TheSingingGame 87, "Spanish Lady" (7 texts, 3 tunes)
Baring-Gould-AnnotatedMotherGoose #290, pp. 168-169, "(Madam, I have come to court you)" (a short text, which might well be "The Quaker's Wooing" with beginning and end lost, but as it stands, it has no Quakers and must be filed here)
Newell-GamesAndSongsOfAmericanChildren, #6, "There She Stands, a Lovely Creature" (1 text, 1 tune)
JournalOfAmericanFolklore, F.W. Waugh, "Canadian Folk-Lore from Ontario," Vol. XXXI, No. 119 (Jan 1918), #630 pp. 48-49 ("Here stands a lovely creature"),("Here sits a Spanish lady") (2 texts)
JournalOfAmericanFolklore, Marie Campbell, "Survivals of Old Folk Drama in the Kentucky Mountains," Vol. LI, No. 199 (Jan-Mar 1938), pp. 18-22, "A Plough Monday Play"), especially pp. 21-22, "For Gold and Silver" ("'Kind miss, kind miss, go ask your mother")
ADDITIONAL: Frank Harte _Songs of Dublin_, second edition, Ossian, 1993, pp. 48-49, "The Spanish Lady" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ray B. Browne, "Southern California Jump-Rope Rhymes: A Study in Variants" in Western Folklore, Vol. XIV, No. 1 (Jan 1955 (available online by JSTOR)), #22 p. 14 ("On a hillside stands a lady") (1 text)
Georgina Frederica Jackson, Charlotte Sophia Burne, editor, _Shropshire Folk-lore: A Sheaf of Gleanings_ (London, Trubner & Co, 1883, digitized by Google), pp. 509-510, ("Here stands a lady on a mountain"); pp. 551-552, "The Disdainful Lady" ("Yonder stands a comely creature") (2 texts)
Katharine (Tynan) Hinkson, "The Girls' Room" in Christabel R. Coleridge and Arthur Innes, editors, The Monthly Packet (London, 1897 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. XCIII, p. 345, ("There stands a lady on the mountain")
G.F. Northall, English Folk-Rhymes (London, 1892 ("Digitized by Google")), p. 376, ("Here stands a lady on a mountain") (1 text)
J Woodfall Ebsworth, The Roxburghe Ballads, (Hertford, 1896 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. VIII Part 2, pp. 851-852,"The Handsom' Woman" ("Yonder stan's a hansum woman, who she is I dunnot knaw")

Roud #542
Seamus Ennis, "Dublin City" (on FSB02, FSB2CD)
Hector MacIsaac and Emma MacIsaac, "Galway City" (on NFHMacIsaac02)

Murray, Mu23-y1:104, "The Wheel of Fortune," James Lindsay (Glasgow), 19C [an incredible mixture, with the "Wheel of Fortune" verse, though the rest seems an amalgam of thyme songs -- here spelled "time"]; also Mu23-y1:105, "The Wheel of Fortune," James Lindsay (Glasgow), 19C [even more mixture, with the "Wheel of Fortune" verse, a thyme stanza, a bit of "Fair and Tender Ladies," a "Queen of Heart" verse, and more]
cf. "The Keys of Canterbury"
cf. "No, John, No"
cf. "Madam, Madam, You Came Courting" (theme)
cf. "The Quaker's Courtship" (theme)
cf. "Killy's Den" (tune, per Greig/Duncan4)
cf. "The Twelfth of May" (floating lyrics)
cf. "The Ripest Apple" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Now All You Lads" (lyrics)
Chester City
All I Want is a Handsome Man
As I Walked Up Through London City
Edinburgh City
Tinkle, Tinkle, Tra-La-La!
NOTES [895 words]: The "Wheel of Fortune" was a leading image of the medieval era -- how fate could turn take one who was successful and cast him into dust, and raise anothe rin his place. For more about this image, see the notes to "The Downfall of Heresy."
Although several versions listed here mention Quakers in their titles (e.g. Eddy-BalladsAndSongsFromOhio's text, also that printed by Sandburg-TheAmericanSongbag), their texts make no mention of the Quaker, and so I list them here.
This obviously began life as a ballad, but was collected in New York as a playparty, and Belden also found it as a singing game. - RBW
Opie/Opie-TheSingingGame 36 has three texts of the "Yonder stands ... who she is I do not know" version.
Opie/Opie-TheSingingGame 87: "This song about an exile in disgrace was probably at the height of its popularity in Edwardian days." The "plot" in this case is that the singer, walking down the street, meets a Spanish or German lady with a baby in her arms. - BS
The text in the Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook version is extremely fragmentary, and contains almost nothing of the plot described above. All that happens is that the man and woman meet; she washes her feet and dries them, then he laments young girls' deceiving ways and sings about numbers. - PJS
What Paul describes is fairly typical. The description above is of the fullest texts, but this ballad seems to be unusually good at losing pieces of itself. Often it descends into a purely lyrical piece -- and sometimes it seems to "re-ascend" by taking on a new ending of abandonment.
The existence of the numbers chorus ("Twenty, eighteen, sixteen, fourteen...") seems to be characteristic of a particular, very widespread, sub-version.
It appears likely that we can positively date this song to at least 1822, when John Randolph of Virginia asked a niece if she had heard a ballad with the verse
What care I for your golden treasures?
What care I for your house and land?
What care I for your costly pleasures?
So as I get but a handsome man.
For some reason, scholars have claimed this verse is from "Lord Randal." But it certainly appears to belong here. - RBW
The Ebsworth text is the oldest I have seen -- certainly older than Jackson/Burne -- but Ebsworth does not date it, possibly because it was just a side note to another ballad. The end of the Ebsworth text, following an editorial comment that "woman has the last word as usual," is
He took a pail, and I took a pail, and a-milking he went wi' me;
I said nout, and he said nout; but, ma faith! I think he'll ha' me."
"This is the finale," Ebsworth continues, "Robert Roberts, of Boston, is a safe authority to follow on old books and Lincolnshire customs: he writes, 'To take her pail and go with a girl to milking, is considered almost equal to a proposal of marriage.' This throws light on the popular song '"Where are you going to, my pretty maid?" "I'm going a milking, sir," she said. "May I go with you, my pretty maid?"' and her comprehensive reply, '"Yes, if you please, kind sir," she said.' When he adds, 'Then I cannot marry you!' she knows it breaks the implied contract."'"
The Jackson/Burne text ends
'But fare you well, my dearest creature,
Since I have no more to say.'
'O turn again, young man! I'll have you!'
But his answer was, 'Nay, nay!'
The Campbell text is very close to Sandburg's "Kind Miss," which is also from Kentucky. These texts have an unusual twist to their "Drowsy Sleeper" verse: in printed texts of Laws M4, and one of its sources, "I Will Put My Ship In Order," the lines following "... ask your mother If you my bride shall ever be" are "If she says 'No,' come back and tell me, And I'll no longer trouble thee"; in these two texts the lines are "If she says 'yes,' come back and tell me, If she says 'no,' we'll run away." [These lines are also in Hudson-FolksongsOfMississippi 37 -- another "Drowsy Sleeper"-"Wheel of Fortune" hybrid -- and two closely related recordings of Laws M4: Harry and Jeannie West, More Southern Mountain Folk Songs, Stinson SLP 74, “Katy Dear"; Blue Sky Boys, "Katie Dear" (Bluebird B-7661, 1938) and Homer and Walter Callahan, "Katie Dear (Silver Dagger)" (Banner 33103/Melotone M-13071/Oriole 8353/Perfect 13017/Romeo 5353, c. 1934; Conqueror 9145, 1938; on GoingDown), identical texts.]
The Campbell text provides a rationale for this break: "Kind Miss" is a wooing song in a mummers' play. The form of the wooing song usually has a reasonable bid by the male to start an engagement, followed by rejection by the woman and, occasionally, a final acceptance. The "I'll no longer trouble thee" line would end the song prematurely, while the "we'll run away" line leads to the normal wooing song form. Of course, the "Drowsy Sleeper" verse insertion is not necessary for "Wheel of Fortune" to be used as a wooing song, but once the verse was inserted, its form was likely changed to suit its new function. For more on "wooing songs" in mummers' plays, see "Sweet Moll."
The Williams-FolkSongsOfTheUpperThames chorus -- "March away, march away, Trumpets sound and cymbals play. March away, march away, To the merry little fife and drum." -- is from the chorus of "The Merry Little Soldier" (see The Universal Songster or Museum of Mirth (London, 1834 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol I, p. 109, "The Merry Little Soldier" ("I'm a merry little soldier") (1 text)). - BS
Last updated in version 6.2
File: E098

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 2021 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.