The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #151087   Message #3602696
Posted By: Richie
18-Feb-14 - 07:58 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 6
Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 6
Here are Boette's notes edited:

According to Winnifred Brown Scott, who sang this song in 1969, her aunt, Sarah Brown Connolly, and her father, Emery Ellsworth Brown of Ritchie County, sang it too. They said the brothers in the family sang it to tease their sisters. The song went back to the family of John Brown who came to what is now Lewis County in 1784 and built the old Fort Mongue on White Oak Flats. Child No. 73 is usually known as "Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor," "Fair Ellender" or the "Brown Girl." Found in many parts of America, this is a most unusual version in that the brown girl and the pretty fair maid change places.

It's important to compare this with the earlier broadside found by Steve Gardham, titled--

The Cruel Nymph

I am as brown as brown can be
And my eyes as black as a sloe;
I am as brisk as a nightingale,
And as wild as any doe.

My love sent me a letter,
Far from yonders town;
He could not fancy me,
Because I was so brown.

I sent his letter back again;
His love I value not,
Whether he could fancy me,
Or whether he could not.

My love sent me another letter
That he lay dangerous sick,
And I must needs go presently,
And give my love physick.

But now you shall hear what a love I had,
And a love for that sick man;
That I was whole summer's day,
One mile a going on.

When I came to my love's bed-side,
Where he lay dangerous sick,
I could not then for laughing stand
Upright upon my feet.

I sat me down by his bed side,
And laid a white wand on his breast.
And then cry'd I since you are well,
I hope your soul's at rest.

No sooner had I spoke these words,
He lifted up his eyes;
But since you see how bad I am,
'Tis you your love denies.

I'll do as much for my true love,
As any pretty maiden may:
I'll dance and sing upon your grave,
For a twelvemonth and a day.

When I have done what I can do,
I'll sit me down and cry,
And every tear that I do shed,
I'll hang them up to dry.

The date of the West Virginia version could be circa 1784, while Gardham says the Cruel Nymph is c1750-1770.

Richie