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Origins: George Collins: revisited

DigiTrad:
GEORGE COLLINS
GEORGE COLLINS (2)
GEORGE COLLINS (3)


Related threads:
George Collins Is Innocent! (18)
George Collins - what's it all about? (18)
Penguin: George Collins (13)
Lyr Req: Tony Rose's George Collins (5)
Lyr Req: Shirley Collins' George Collins (10)
TUNE ADD: George Collins (3) (1)


Richie 20 Jun 15 - 03:50 PM
Richie 20 Jun 15 - 05:36 PM
Kent Davis 20 Jun 15 - 10:06 PM
Richie 21 Jun 15 - 12:01 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 21 Jun 15 - 02:52 AM
Richard Mellish 21 Jun 15 - 12:22 PM
Richie 21 Jun 15 - 12:25 PM
RTim 21 Jun 15 - 12:51 PM
Tradsinger 21 Jun 15 - 01:48 PM
Richard Mellish 21 Jun 15 - 04:02 PM
Richie 21 Jun 15 - 04:19 PM
Richie 21 Jun 15 - 11:54 PM
Tradsinger 22 Jun 15 - 03:52 AM
Mrrzy 22 Jun 15 - 09:38 AM
Mrrzy 22 Jun 15 - 01:41 PM
Richard Mellish 22 Jun 15 - 03:40 PM
Richie 22 Jun 15 - 06:35 PM
Mrrzy 22 Jun 15 - 07:45 PM
Richie 23 Jun 15 - 02:47 PM
Mrrzy 23 Jun 15 - 05:37 PM
Richie 24 Jun 15 - 05:36 PM
Steve Gardham 24 Jun 15 - 07:01 PM
Steve Gardham 24 Jun 15 - 07:08 PM
Jim Brown 25 Jun 15 - 09:05 AM
Mrrzy 25 Jun 15 - 10:36 AM
Richie 25 Jun 15 - 12:33 PM
Richie 25 Jun 15 - 01:26 PM
Steve Gardham 25 Jun 15 - 05:25 PM
Steve Gardham 25 Jun 15 - 05:49 PM
Phil Edwards 26 Jun 15 - 12:39 PM
Steve Gardham 26 Jun 15 - 02:16 PM
Richie 26 Jun 15 - 09:25 PM
Richie 27 Jun 15 - 09:14 AM
Richie 27 Jun 15 - 09:51 AM
Richie 27 Jun 15 - 10:52 AM
Richie 27 Jun 15 - 11:07 AM
Steve Gardham 27 Jun 15 - 05:06 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Jun 15 - 05:23 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Jun 15 - 05:43 PM
Richie 27 Jun 15 - 05:45 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Jun 15 - 05:52 PM
Richie 27 Jun 15 - 07:01 PM
Richie 27 Jun 15 - 07:30 PM
Steve Gardham 28 Jun 15 - 04:34 AM
Richard Mellish 28 Jun 15 - 07:01 AM
Richie 28 Jun 15 - 08:36 AM
Steve Gardham 28 Jun 15 - 09:50 AM
Steve Gardham 28 Jun 15 - 09:57 AM
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Jim Brown 28 Jun 15 - 01:03 PM
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Subject: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 20 Jun 15 - 03:50 PM

Hi,

Rather than rehash some of these ideas on an old thread. I thought it would be better to start anew.

This ballad is of particular interest to me because it was collected by my grandfather Maurice Matteson from Nathan Hicks, Frank Proffitt's father-in-law and a fine dulcimer maker.

When I visited my mother I used Nathan's dulicmer to record an improve version of George Colon (sic) with my niece and nephew. To listen: http://bluegrassmessengers.com/Data/Sites/1/avatars/02%20George%20Collon.mp3 I believe it had the original strings and had to be tuned lower to be played!!!

There are four article that explain the relationship of 85. Lady Alice (George Collins) and 42. Clerk Colvill. The articles are: (1) George Collins- Barbara M. Cra'ster 1910; (2) The "Johnny Collins" Version of Lady Alice- Bayard; (3) The "Clerk Colvill" Mermaid- Harbison Parker 1947 and (4) "George Collins" in Hampshire - David Atkinson. They are all on my site, here's the link to Bayard's article: http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/the-johnny-collins-version-of-lady-alice--bayard-.aspx

I have a couple questions and I'll give a basic plot of the ballad and I'd like your comments and suggestions.

1. The Johnny Collins version, first collected by Gardiner in 1906 in Hampshire, appears to connect Child 42 with the short almost plotless George Collins ballad. It was collected in a specific area in Appalachia: Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. What do the versions from Canada (Karpeles 1929, Peacock) add-- as far as dissemination? Is this ballad from Ireland as Bayard suggests?

2. Is the pretty fair maid" in the Johnny Collins type a mermaid?

3. Is the hero (see Child 42 C) given a choice of becoming a fish and stayed with the mermaid or dying? When he leaves and goes home to his earthy lover does that mean he has made this choice?

4. Is the mermaid (Child 42 A) preparing a sark for him suggesting he is her betrothed?

5. When Johnny meets the "pretty fair maid" doesn't she know he is going to die because she is a mermaid and he has rejected her?

I'll give my story line later.

TY

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 20 Jun 15 - 05:36 PM

Hi,

6. I also have a question about the marble stone, which some have associated with a tombstone. Do you see that association? In the Johnny Collins versions, the mermaid is now a "pretty fine maid" who is "washing a marble stone." The relationship between washing the sark on the stone (Child 42 A) and washing the marble stone (Johnny Collins) is unclear. I assume she originally was washing something on a marble stone, not washing the stone itself. So "washing on a marble stone" is an easy step from "washing a marble stone." What do you think?

7 The traditional Ballad index says this ballad (his death) is about his unfaithfulness to the mermaid. What do you think?

8. Is she a mermaid, a water sprite, a fairy lover??

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Kent Davis
Date: 20 Jun 15 - 10:06 PM

Thank you (and thanks to your niece and nephew also) for sharing the recording. I couldn't get the link to the article to work. Will try again later. Thanks again.

Kent


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 21 Jun 15 - 12:01 AM

Hi,

TY, it was fun doing the recording and considering we never played it before or practiced it. Also considering I'd never played that dulcimer before and we did it in one take--it sounded good, maybe because my niece(could sight sing) and nephew (could improvise on the fiddle). I found some additional text to the Hick's version of the ballad in my grandfather's papers -- after we did the recording.

I think this is also the same version Frank Proffitt sang. I'll have to listen to his version again.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 21 Jun 15 - 02:52 AM

Do you know this version, one which I collected from a singer in Gloucestershire in 1978? You can hear it sung on the double Musical Traditions CD "Up In the North and Down in the South" (MTCD 311-2).

Giles Collins rode out one May morning,
When bloom was all in a drift;
And there he spied a fair pretty maid
Washing her fine silken shift.

She whooped, she hailed, she highered her voice,
She waved her lily-white hand.
"Come hither to me, Giles Collins", she said,
"Or your days won't be long in the land."

And he's set his foot on the broad river brim,
And over the water sprang he.
He's clasped her about her middle so slim
And he's taken her fair body.

Giles Collins he rode to his own father's hall.
"Rise Mother and make my bed,
And fetch me a 'kerchief of linen so fine,
For to comfort the pain in my head."

"And if I should chance to die this night,
I greatly fear I shall.
Then bury me under a white marble stone,
Set close to fair Alice's hall."

Fair Alice she sat in her bower so fine,
A-sewing a fine silken sheet.
She saw the fairest corpse coming by
That ever her eyes did meet.

And she's called to her serving-maid:
"Whose corpse goes there so fine?"
"Oh, that is the corpse of Giles Collins", she said,
"A one-time lover of thine."

"If that be the corpse of Giles Collins", she said,
"Go now and make my bed.
And fetch me a priest to shrive my sins,
For tomorrow I shall be dead."

"Then go you upstairs and fetch me a sheet,
One woven of silk so fine;
And hang it all over Giles Collins's corpse,
Tomorrow, hang it o'er mine."

"Then set him down you six pretty maids,
And open his coffin so fine.
That I may kiss those clay-cold lips,
That oftimes have kissed mine."

The news it was brought to famed London Town,
And through London's streets was spread;
That seven fair maids died all of one night,
Because Giles Collins was dead.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 21 Jun 15 - 12:22 PM

I've just read the Bayard article (and commend that to everyone interested in these ballads) and then the rest of this thread.

Here are my answers to most of Richie's questions:
2. Not a mermaid as usually understood, but a supernatural being of some sort. Bayard's argument for her being a banshee is plausible.
3. Yes, at least in the above Gloucestershire version.
4. Exactly what she is washing, and what that might signify, seems variable. But washing a sark as a token of betrothal would make sense in connection with her telling him to choose. "I'm washing this to show that we're going to be married – or else."
5. She knows that he will die IF he refuses her.
6. The change from "washing [something] on a white marble stone" to "washing a white marble stone" is the sort of change that can easily happen, albeit that the result makes little if any sense.
7. His death must have some cause, and it is surely something to do with the (mer)maid. None of the Collins versions make clear that he has been or is now being unfaithful, but the Colville (Child 42) versions imply that he has married another woman.
8. See 2.

The Gloucestershire version, though very similar to the Hampshire version, has some interesting features, including the explicit choice between the maid and dying, her washing the shift (i.e. her own garment) rather than a sark for him or the stone, and just the one white marble stone; the one that he is to be buried under, though as in other versions it is to be placed "close to fair Alice's hall", so presumably in unconsecrated ground.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 21 Jun 15 - 12:25 PM

Thanks Mike. The singer was Jacquey Gabriel. Here's what you wrote about her:

   Jacquey Gabriel, who was then living in Winchcombe, sang frequently in local folkclubs and was an extremely accomplished performer. Like Bill Dore, I only met her the once - thanks to Gwilym Davies - but remember how much I enjoyed hearing her sing. Originally from Suffolk, she had learnt a number of songs from her father who used to sing in the pubs around Bury St Edmunds. One such item was this splendidly complete - and extremely rare - version of the ballad Giles Collins.

Do you happen to know who her father was? Also, at this late date, the possibility exists that this was fashioned after a version heard at a folk club. What do you think? It's certainly from the Hampshire tradition.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: RTim
Date: 21 Jun 15 - 12:51 PM

I have been singing this song for many years, and have recorded two of versions - mainly because I was born on the edge of the New Forest where 5 versions were collected by Gardiner.

I have never thought of mermaids when singing it!!

I found today some notes I sent awhile ago to Steve Gradham on the subject:

George Collins.

Steve Gardham and I have been discussing this song; here is what I sent him:

I spent some time looking for a connection between Henry Blake and George & Moses of Emery Down and found none.
I have seen reference lately to Henry and giving him the nickname of "Bristol" - as part of the Hampshire Folk Map project (See Hampshire Voices).
What little I could find on him soon told me there was no relation. He seems to have been born in Nursling around 1853 and lived in Millbrook in 1881 (where my father was born!) before being in Bartley to be collected in Sept. 1908.
There was quite a time difference between Gardiner's collecting in Lyndhurst and this later visit to Minstead and Bartley area to collect Henry. I am sure if George & Moses (and Stansbridge) had known of Henry, they would have told Gardiner earlier.

With regard to George Collins, I find it most interesting that George Blake & his son-in-law Henry Stansbridge had different tunes for the same song, and that although the song was known in a relatively small area, no complete texts were collected. The 3rd & 4th verses all seem to have a problem.
The old Penguin Book of Folk Songs suggests that the version in it is from Stansbridge. It is certainly his tune, but Gardiner only collected one verse from him, and the original editors used the Gaylor Brothers (Philip & Henry) of Minstead versions to make up the rest, and I think Malcolm's new edition corrects this.

Later I Sent this:

Your note and my very quick response to it, started me thinking again last night; so I spent more time looking at the 6 versions collected by Gardiner, particularly the tunes. Please remember that Mr. Guyer was collecting tunes for Gardiner at this time.

H327 - George Blake - Tune - 16th July 06, Text - 17th July 09 - St. Denys, Southampton
H419 - Henry Stansbridge - 1 verse Text & Tune - 27th Sept 06 - Bank, Lyndhurst
H439 - Philip Gaylor - Text only - 16th July 09 - Lyndhurst Road (Workhouse)
             - Henry Gaylor - Tune & Text - 27th Sept 06 - Minstead
H658 - George Hiscock - text only, in letter posted to Gardiner (did they ever meet?) - Nov 06
H1193 - Henry Blake - Text & Tune - Sept 9th, 08

Looking at the tunes, it seems clear to me (and my musician wife) that George Blake's, Henry Gaylor's and Henry Blake's are all practically the same or from the same root. However, Henry Stansbridge's is totally different (as I said in my earlier note.)

The other things I notice, and find very interesting, are the dates the texts & tunes were collected.

First - that George's tune was collected the day BEFORE the text? Very unusual.
Second - that Philip Gaylor's text was collected on the SAME day as G. Blake's tune!! St. Denys and The Workhouse at Lyndhurst Road, Ashurst are some miles apart - however there is a railway Station very close to both, ie. a 100 yards. So it would have been possible for Gardiner and/or Mr. Guyer to have collected both songs on the same day?
Third - That Stansbidge's Text & Tune were collected In Bank (near Lyndhurst) on the same day as Henry Gaylor's version in Minstead, some distance away (we don't know exactly where Gaylor lived)? According to information we have on other songs collected on 27th Sept by Gardiner, both George Blake and Henry Stansbridge were together in Bank that day.

It seems a strange coincidence that George Collins was on two occasions, collected from more that one person, in different places on the same day!! For me - it raises questions about the correctness of the dates??? ie. was this simply the day that Gardiner wrote them up, rather than the actual collection dates?

Thank you giving me the opportunity to re-examine these versions, something I did not see at the time of my original work on the song!


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Tradsinger
Date: 21 Jun 15 - 01:48 PM

In reply to Richie's posting above. I knew Jacquey Gabriel quite well although I have not seen her for a number of years. She was (is) a very fine singer and it was me who introduced her to Mike Yates as she knew some songs from her father, including Giles Collins. We asked her where her father had learnt the song and she was not sure, but I agree it is possible that it derives from the Hampshire version sung by Enos White and collected by Bob Copper. IMHO the question mark will have to remain as her father might have been of an age to have heard it at a folk club or on an LP.

As a bonus, you can hear Mrs Tradsinger and me singing the Enos White version here. (track 7).

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 21 Jun 15 - 04:02 PM

If Jacquey Gabriel's father's version was indeed derived from Enos White's (and/or from one of the other similar Hampshire versions) then either the father or someone in between in the chain of transmission made some small but constructive changes, significantly improving the sense.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 21 Jun 15 - 04:19 PM

TY for replies.

It's interesting to me (regarding question 1) that the same (or very similar) version found by Gardiner in Hampshire was found in Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania by Cox, Davis, Bayard and others. Also a similar version was collected by Karpeles in Newfoundland in 1929. Peacock later got another Newfoundland version.

As for the identity of the "pretty fair maid" in the Gardiner (Bayard) versions--perhaps someone can clear this up. Also the Marble stone- I assume "washing" and "buried under" are two uses-- but what do they mean? What clarity can be added from Child 42?

Tradsinger- listed to your version- nice modal harmonies and singing. TY for sharing that. How does the Enos White version tie into the Hampshire group?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 21 Jun 15 - 11:54 PM

TY Richard Mellish for answering some of my questions.

In regard to number 2: Do you think that she is a mermaid in Child 42? Herd's copy is "Clerk Colvill and the Mermaid" and clearly she turns into a fish. Comparing Child A and B to foreign analogues seems like comparing apples to oranges. In which British ballad did this reference water-sprite come from?

Anyone?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Tradsinger
Date: 22 Jun 15 - 03:52 AM

Coming back to Jacquey Gabriel's version and a possible derivation from the Enos White version, 2 thing mitigate against that. One is that Jacquey sang "Giles" and Enos sang "George", Now the George versions in the UK seems confined to Hampshire, and elsewhere in the UK it is Giles. Secondly, the naming of the lady as Alice agrees with some other versions, including USA versions, but there's no Alice in the White version. So that seems to tip the balance in favour of it being from the tradition rather than derived from the revival.

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Mrrzy
Date: 22 Jun 15 - 09:38 AM

I had this by Cynthia Gooding, nothing supernatural about it at all, I'll look and see if that version is in the Trad before posting those lyrics...


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Mrrzy
Date: 22 Jun 15 - 01:41 PM

Cynthia Gooding's George Collins, I believe it was from Faithful Lovers And Other Phenomena:

George Collins rode out one wintry night, he rode through sleet and snow
George Collins rode out one wintry night, was taken sick, and died
His own true love Mary was in her room, dressed in silks so fine
When she found out that George was dead, she laid them all aside

She followed him up, she followed him down, she followed him to his grave
And there upon the cold, cold stone, she wept, she mourned, she prayed
"Put down that casket, unscrew that lid, turn back that shroud so fine
That I might kiss his cold, cold lips, for I'm sure he'll never kiss mine."

"Little Mary, don't weep, little Mary, don't mourn, there's more young men than one
Oh but mother, dear mother, he was all I had, and now I'm left alone.
Do you see that yonder turtledove, fluttering from pine to pine?
She's mourning for her own lost love, so why not I for mine?


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 22 Jun 15 - 03:40 PM

Richie said

"TY Richard Mellish for answering some of my questions."

Only personal opinions. Not worth more than anyone else's.

" In regard to number 2: Do you think that she is a mermaid in Child 42? Herd's copy is "Clerk Colvill and the Mermaid" and clearly she turns into a fish. "

All three of Child's versions of 42 call her either a "mermaid" or a "mermaiden". So in those versions she clearly is a mermaid of some kind, though apparently not the usual kind who live under the sea, as the location is "the wall o Stream", "the wells of Slane" or "Clyde's water".

" Comparing Child A and B to foreign analogues seems like comparing apples to oranges. In which British ballad did this reference water-sprite come from? "

Well, those are both fruit. And likewise the foreign analogues have analogous episodes, albeit with major differences in detail. It is to be expected that details would change as a story travels around the world.

As well as the Bayard article I've now read the others on your site concerning Child 85, including the Harbison Parker one which makes a plausible case for the change from an elf woman in the Scandinavian versions to a mermaid having arisen in Orkney or Shetland, where they apparently had no elves but did have selkies and possibly mermaids.

There is a quite separate instance of a mermaid in Clyde's Water. Joe Rae (Gutcher on here) has a story "The Carline Stane" in which a water kelpie in the river Clyde enjoys occasionally drowning young men and, to ensure a steady supply of them coming to bathe there despite the risk, changes an ordinary girl into a mermaid, who then sits on a rock in the river to entice them in. But unlike the one that Clerk Colville meets, who can shape-shift at will, the River Clyde one is stuck in her mermaid form until one young man kills the kelpie and kisses her. For the full story, buy the recording!
Musical Traditions Records MTCD313.

The Lady Alice versions start late in the story and give no hint as to the cause of the hero's death. In the George (etc) Collins versions his death follows very soon after his meeting with the fair maid, so presumably results from that meeting, but those versions don't explain how or why she causes his death, so the story still seems incomplete. If we take the events from Child 42 as part of the same story then it becomes quite clear that the mermaid causes his death, with the fact of his having married another woman as the motive, though the method is still not entirely clear.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 22 Jun 15 - 06:35 PM

TY for post Gooding text Mrrzy. What is her source? I don't know if it's traditional from someone else (cover song), or a ballad re-creation of a traditional song. This is case with many American folk singer (Summers, Baez, Mike Seeger, etc.)-- without the source I can't use the material.

Richard Mellish- you have a gift for explaining your points- ty.

If "Johnny Collins" (or Hampshire George Collins) is the link between Child 42 and Child 85, then when she started out a mermaid, she is still a mermaid. I assume she has the power to invite him to become a fish (Child 42C) and also the power to kill him when he refuses.

The mermaid in Johnny Collins as a result of the folk process has become a "pretty fair maid" (fair maid=mermaid) who is "washing a marble stone," the sark, symbolizing her wish to create a permanent union, has disappeared.

I. As Collins was walking the fields one day
All dressed in white linen so fine,
He spied a maiden, a pretty [mer]maid,
A-washing [on] a marble-white stone.

My changes in paranthesis.

At this point, because he left her and returned to his mortal love, she has already cast a spell on him and he is going to die. She still loves him:

2. She wrung her hands and tore her hair,
She waved with a lily-white hand,
Saying, Collins, dear Collins, come quickly here-
Your life is soon to an end!

She seduces him and takes him into the water:

3. She threw both arms around his neck,
She kissed both his cheeks and his chin,
Till the stars from heaven come twinkling down
On the banks where Collins jumped in.

This is why he must swim home:

4. He swam, he swam, he swam once more,
He swam to his own father's door,
Crying, Father, dear father, please let me in,
Please let me in once more!

The ballad then proceeds to the George Collins (Child 85) ballad.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Mrrzy
Date: 22 Jun 15 - 07:45 PM

I no longer have the LP, my sister in Tasmania does, and she is not great about looking stuff like that up, but I can confirm it's on the Faithful Lovers album. I have that on mp3. I will, however, ask.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 23 Jun 15 - 02:47 PM

Mrrzy- the 1957 Elektra release, Faithful Lovers, has song notes on the back of the LP.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Mrrzy
Date: 23 Jun 15 - 05:37 PM

Right, and it's in Tasmania. Got anybody over there? I'm in Virginia.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 24 Jun 15 - 05:36 PM

Hi,

This is from Frank Purslow (1968,The Wanton Seed, EFDS Publications, London), who wrote:

    [The tune from Gardiner H 1193 - Henry Blake, Bartley, Hants. The text is a collation of five versions of the same text all noted by Dr Gardiner in the Southampton/Lyndhurst area. Reference should be made to Professor Child's "English and Scottish Popular Ballads" Nos 42 Clerk Colville and 85 Lady Alice (or Giles Collins). Child treats these as two quite separate ballads but, as Barbara Cra'ster pointed out in the "Journal of the Folk Song Society" in 1910, it is possible to see in George Collins a traditional remnant (propagated by the broadside presses) of a ballad which was in all probability the original of both the Child Ballads. Certain elements are missing (mostly the supernatural one as usually happens in modern versions of old ballads), but it is possible to piece together the story as it might have been several centuries ago. Giles, or George, Collins is warned, either by his wife or more probably by his mistress, not to visit a certain locality if he values his life. He disregards the advice and meets with a fair maiden washing a silken shirt by the waterside. She is, unknown to him, a water-sprite - or a mermaid in some versions. He "sins with her fair body" - perhaps "And sinned with her fair body" was the original last line of verse three where the rhyme has been lost. He is on the point of leaving her when his head begins to ache violently. The water-sprite tells him to cut a piece from the shirt she is washing and bind it round his head. He does so and the pain becomes worse. He manages to reach home but dies. On hearing of his death his mistress dies of grief, as do five other young ladies who are presumably George Collins' paramours. It is interesting to note that it is the seventh victim of George Collins' evil attentions who is his undoing, just as, in The Outlandish Knight, "six pretty maidens thou hast drownded here, but the seventh has drownded thee." A Manx version of the story, quoted by Waldron in his "History of the Isle of Man" rationalises the cause of the headache by explaining that the mermaid's lover, suspecting that she is trying to drag him into the water, forces himself away from her embraces which so annoys her that she throws a pebble after him as he runs away. Although the pebble is too small to hurt, nevertheless he is afflicted with a headache which eventually causes his death.

    Dr Gardiner noted six versions of the George Collins ballad, all from singers in a small area. The texts are so similar that they were all probably learned from a common source; all the singers could not complete the fourth verse, so I have supplied a couple of lines from an 18th century version of the story. The tune is one of the standard English ballad tune.]

Purslow states: "Giles, or George, Collins is warned, either by his wife or more probably by his mistress, not to visit a certain locality if he values his life" which seems to wrong, the namme certainly should be from Child 42, an example would be Clerk Covill.

I thought Waldron's work was "Description of the Isle of Man" and I assume this is the quote:

A very beautiful mermaid, say they, became so much enamour'd of a young man who used to tend his sheep on these rocks, that she would frequently come and sit down by him, bring him pieces of coral, fine pearls, and what were yet greater curiosities, and of infinitely more value, had they fallen into the hands of a person who knew their worth, shells of various forms and figures, and so glorious in their colour and shine that they even dazzled the eye that looked upon them. Her presents were accompanied with smiles, Battings on the cheek, and all the harks of a most sincere and tender passion; but one day throwing her arms more than ordinarily eager about him, he began to be frighted that she had a design to draw him into the sea, and struggled till he disengaged himself, and then ran a good many paces from her; which behaviour she resented so highly, it seems, that she took up a stone, and after throwing it at him, glided into her more proper element, and was never seen on land again. But the poor youth, tho' but slightly hit with the stone, felt from that moment so excessive a pain in his bowels, that the cry was never out of his mouth for seven days, at the end of which he died.

Also where does he get "Water-sprite"- it seems to be mermaid in every instance (see Child 42)?

The five ladies dying? His paramours? Does this really have anything to do with the story?

Comments?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Jun 15 - 07:01 PM

Richie,
The new edition of Wanton Seed is now available and my notes are very different to those written by Frank, though that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with Frank's notes, just different emphasises and of course more info now available to us.

The new book I believe will shortly be available in the States from Camsco. I'm not sure what the ethics are of duplicating the notes here, for a newly published book.

Tim,
As I'm sure you know those refs are out of date if anyone wants to look them up on the Full English.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Jun 15 - 07:08 PM

See 'The Wanton Seed' thread.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Jim Brown
Date: 25 Jun 15 - 09:05 AM

> Also where does he get "Water-sprite"...?

As you say, it's "mermaiden" or "mermaid" in all three versions in Child. "Water-sprite" looks to me more like a scholar's term than one that would appear in a traditional song -- I notice it is used by Bayard and Harbison Parker in their articles, for example. But in any case, I'm not sure that the particular label put on a supernatural being is so important. It's the behaviour attributed to them and their function in the story that matter.

If we think of a mermaid as a sea creature, half woman half fish holding a comb and a mirror, who entices sailors to their doom with her singing, then the supernatural being in Child 42 is clearly something rather different. She lives in fresh water and seems to change from completely human to completely fish form in the course of the story, rather than being half and half. But there are plenty of freshwater mermaids in English and Lowland Scottish folkore. In "The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England's Legends" (2005), Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson write: "Mainly [...] mermaids lived in pits and pools. Although sharing the name 'mermaid' with the half-fish creature of the bestiaries and heraldry, they represent native tradition rather than learned lore. The 'mer' of mermaid is Old English *mere*, a pool [...]"


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Mrrzy
Date: 25 Jun 15 - 10:36 AM

Tasmania says it's on her list... I'm keeping my fingers crossed.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 25 Jun 15 - 12:33 PM

Steve,

I'll go ahead and order a book from CAMSCO to support "Wanton Seed" and I'm sure I'll benefit from the notes. I'm also a fan of Malcolm and miss him.

As far as the info on George Collins, I'm not asking you to quote the book but if you have anything to add - in your own words please do.

Can you review the broadsides mentioned by Frank?

TY

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 25 Jun 15 - 01:26 PM

Hi,

This is one of the parodies published in The Universal Songster, Volume 3; 1826:

GILES COLLINS AND LADY ALIS.

GILES Collins he turned to his mother, and said,
O, mother! tie up my pig-tail;
Run to dear Alis, and tell her, poor soul,
That Collin's as dead as a nail.

I will not be buried in are a coffin,
As timber is not very strong;
I will not be buried in are a coffin,
But wapt up in a blanket that's long.

Lady Alis was sitting up three pair of stairs,
A darning a hole in her stocking;
She saw from the window a terrible sight,
A burying—and dear, it was shocking.

What carry you there, you six ill-looking dogs,
What carry you there on your backs?
We are carrying the body of Collin O'Logs,
And his surname was Paddy O'Whacks.

Then lay him down straight, you six ill-looking dogs,
You dogs that look so grim,
While I knock out my brains with the heel of my shoe,
That I may be buried with him.

So she knocked out her brains with the heel of her shoe,
Her skull cracked asunder, like leather;
The six ill-looking dogs bore the body away,
And laid them in one hole together.

Giles Collins grew up, and he turned to a thorn,
Lady Alis she grew to a thistle
Now nil you who don't like my song, and attend,
May go with Giles Collins and whistle.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Jun 15 - 05:25 PM

My own personal view is that the whole family of songs Lord Lovell, Lady Alice, George Collins are burlesques, either of an earlier lost ballad(s) or just burlesquing the genre.

The earliest datable example I have of Giles Collins (c1780) with score is definitely burlesque and a stage piece directed to be sung 'in a crying voice' in much the later style of Grimaldi who performed many trad ballads fairly straight but the burlesque or clowning came in the greatly exaggerated style he used. Sam Cowell did similar acts even later.

Although I haven't got a copy the song was in the catalogue of Hook of Brighton and I presume this was the source of the cluster of south coast versions.

Another parody was 'Giles Scroggins Ghost' written by Charles Dibdin Junior.

I'll have another look at what Frank says about the broadsides.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Jun 15 - 05:49 PM

Frank is surmising/generalising when he refers to broadsides. As far as I know there are no broadsides other than the Hook one which is probably just a reprint of the stage version I mentioned. If indeed it did originate as a burlesque it probably had its origin in some mid 18th century stage production along with its counterpart 'Lord Lovell'.

As I've stated on other threads, one man's burlesque is another man's serious song. In the 19th century these burlesques existed on broadsides and in sheet music alongside their serious counterparts, and in some cases what was collected in the early 20th century was a burlesque having become a serious song again. A good example is Sam Cowell's 'Ah my Love's Dead' which eventually morphed into 'I never will marry' but the version often sung in folk clubs today is actually Cowell's burlesque with its 'shrimps swimming over her head'. Some versions of 'William Taylor' are also the burlesque version.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 26 Jun 15 - 12:39 PM

Some versions of 'William Taylor' are also the burlesque version.

Or a bit of both? The version Tony Rose recorded seems pretty straight but for the last verse ("If young people in Wells or London"), which is out of a burlesque.

I suspect sometimes a burlesque gets taken for an original because the humour wasn't broad or obvious enough for a new audience to spot. This need not be because the burlesque writer's sense of humour was tremendously subtle; it might just be that the burlesque wasn't that good, possibly because it was dashed off as a fairly close copy of an original ballad with a few gags or bits of bathos stuck in.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 Jun 15 - 02:16 PM

Hi Phil,
If you read through the above posts you will see that many of the burlesques weren't that funny on the page, it was the grotesque delivery that was funny.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 26 Jun 15 - 09:25 PM

Hi,

I don't think Giles Collins was originally a burlesque (just as Child 42 isn't). It was perceived to be one when the "Lord Lovell" form was used in 'Giles Collins and Proud Lady Anna' (Child- Version B) from Gammer Carton's Garland, p. 38, ed. 1810. It begins:

1    Giles Collins he said to his old mother,
Mother, come bind up my head,
And sent to the parson of our parish,
For tomorrow I shall be dead, dead,
For tomorrow I shall be dead.

That's the reason Child/Kittredge call this a counterpart to Lord Lovel.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 27 Jun 15 - 09:14 AM

Jim,

The mermaid in Child 42/85 has certain powers. She has the power to turn from a "pretty fair maid" into a mermaid. She has the power to bring Covill/Collins into the water where he becomes a fish (he can breathe underwater, etc.). She has the power to cast a spell on him which gives him a headache that causes his death.

Her love for him is represented in Child 42 when she is washing his sark on a marble stone (which has been reduces in the Johnny Collins version to washing a marble stone). She casts the spell on him when he leaves her for his mortal lover after she offers to have him stay with her and become a fish (Child 42C). This spell in not immediate but it can't be undone.

She loves him and when he sees her again she warns him of his death (the spell cast on him). She also brings him into the water and seduces him (and makes him a fish again). Afterwards he swims home to his father's house and dies.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 27 Jun 15 - 09:51 AM

Hi,

Other observations:

1. The napkin in Johnny Collins (George Collins- Hampshire) versions, "For a napkin to bind round my head" relates directly to Clerk Covill,

And frae her sark he's shorn a gare,
Rowed that about his lovely head,

and is one of the important elements that establishes the relationship with with both Child 42 and Child 85.

2. "that marble stone" of the Johnny Collins (George Collins- Hampshire) is part of the mermaid's environment and not part of "fair Helen's (Eleanor's) hall." Fair Ellen/Helen/Eleanor and the mermaid (pretty fair maid) are confused in the Johnny Collins (George Collins- Hampshire) versions.

3. The death (in the Hampshire versions) of the six pretty maids (sometimes as many as sixteen) that die for his sake are a corruption of what should be the event of her death. She has died for his sake, not six maids. This was changed to balance the pall-bearers ( six pretty lads) in the preceding stanza.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 27 Jun 15 - 10:52 AM

Does anyone know the rest of this parody, published by Skillern c. 1778-1780. It was mentioned by Steve and begins:

Giles Collins he came to bis own father's gate
Where he so oft had been- a,
But who should come down but his own mother dear
For to let Giles Collins in- a.
Oh, for to let Giles Collins in.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 27 Jun 15 - 11:07 AM

This apparently is the earliest published version (1799) of "Lady Alice" and it was not mentioned by Child:

The Spirit of the Public Journals: being an impartial selection of the most exquisite essays and Jeux D'esprits, Principally prose; That appear in Newspapers and other Publications; Volume 1- Second edition, edited by Stephen Jones, Charles Molloy Westmacott- 1799

CRITICISM ON AN ANCIENT BALLAD

SIR,

TO point out to public notice the merits of a Poem, is confessedly the noblest, as well as the most agreeable part of criticism. Dennis may hunt the errors of Cato, while its illustrious author is employed in immortalizing Chevy-Chace, by praises which will probably out-live the subject of them. Antiquity presents us with many commendatory critics, and the writers of Greece and of Rome have almost all found some one to applaud what, if they had written in modern times, would have drawn on them acrimonieus censure. During the present century, however, some of the ancient authors of our own country, who have confined themselves within a sheet of paper, have met with someone to refresh their laurels. Not only Chevy-Chace, but the Children in the Wood, and many otfter popular songs, have been dignified by panegyrics. The Lover's Ballad yet remains unpraised; not because it is undeserving, but because it is obscure.

That this poem is of great antiquity, may be concluded from its language and conduct. The heroine is introduced in a situation in which sew modern fine ladies can be found, that of mending her night-cap. We know, too, that the custom of burying the dead in open coffins, without any covering, in order to prevent the suspicion of violence, has been long discontinued.

Lady Alice was sitting at her bow-window,
Amending her night-coif;
And there she law the finest corpse
That ever she saw in her life.
Lady Alice she laid to the four tall bearers,
"What bear you on your shoulders?"
"It is the body of Giles Collins,
An old true lover of yours."

The great beauty of the second stanza is the circumstance of Giles Collins' love towards Lady Alice being so generally known; and the delicate and ingenious manner in which the tall bearers insinuate the cause of his death to have been his unfortunate passion for that lady. The provincialisms and the rugged metre of this poem can only be excused by the barbarism of that age in which it was probably written.

"Set him down, set him down," Lady Alice she said;
"Set him down on the grass so trim;
For before the clock it doth strike twelve,
My body shall lie by him."
Lady Alice she then put on her night-coif,
Which fitted her wond 'roufly well;
She cut her throat with a sharp pen-knise,
As the four tall bearers can tell.

If Cæsar has been deservedly praised by his biographers, for the solicitude which he discovered to die with decorum, let the same praise be extended to Lady Alice, whose night-coif was as material to the propriety of her apoearance, as the robe of the Roman Emperor. The moral of these verses, it may be said, is not agreeable to modern times; and suicide should not be encouraged by example, even in fiction. We may here appeal to Virgil, who makes Dido act in the fame way, although he considered self-murder to be criminal, as appears from the sixth book of the Æneid.

Proxima deinde tenint majii loca quisibi letum
---------pepercre manu, lucimque perori
Projecere mamas------------

and the rest of the passage.

It may be observed, too, that Dido and Lady Alice, and I believe all our great heroines, declare their intentions first, to shew how innocent they are of the knowledge of any guilt in them; and, sensible pf the propriety of their conduct, choose to have witnesses of their contempt of death.

Lady Alice was buried in the east church-yard,
Giles Collins was buried in the south;
And there came a lilly out of Giles Collins's nose,
Which reach'd Lady Alice's mouth.

The learned reader will immediately perceive that this thought is strictly classical. It is perhaps borrowed from Persius; who, in describing the advantages which a deceased poet derives from applauie bestowed upon his works, exclaims,

Nunc non i tnanibus illti
Nunc non i lumulo fortunataque fa-villa,
Nascentur violie

It is indeed astonishing how favourable to vegetation the corpses of a pair of lovers generally prove. It is long since I looked into Ovid; but I remember there are few, either male or female, who die for love, who do not add something useful or agreeable to the kitchen to the flower garden.

The limited space which the more important articles of your paper will suffer me to occupy, is much toy small to admit an examination of the particular excellence of each line. Of the whole, considered in the Aristotelian sense, as composed of beginning, middle, and end, the utmost praise that can be uttered is, that it is interesting. His acuteness, to speak in the diction of a brother critic, is more to be commended than his feelings, who can read with a malignant sneer, what was written under the influence of strong passions; nor was he, perhaps, so reasonable as he might have imagined himielf to be, who-first attempted to subject to the laws of poetry, those passions of which it is unhappily often a characteristic to defy the laws of morality.

[St. James's Chron.] Momus Criticorum.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Jun 15 - 05:06 PM

I think he was taking the piss!


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Jun 15 - 05:23 PM

Richie,
Have you ever come across any of Marryatt Edgar's monologues? The style is remarkably similar.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Jun 15 - 05:43 PM

The text quoted above which predates 1799 is remarkably close to the burlesque sung by Mr Needham prior to 1790.

I read the ridiculous nose-mouth episode as an attempt to avoid mentioning the word 'breast' in the earlier version.

Giles Collins was laid in the East Church Yard,
Lady Annis was laid in the West en,
There sprung a Lilly from Giles Collins,
Which touch'd Lady Annis's breast en
Oh, which touch'd Lady Annis's breast en.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 27 Jun 15 - 05:45 PM

:) despite a lot of verbolic hyperbole that says almost nothing, the critic does supply four stanzas and an ending.

It's hard to have a parody if you don't know what the original is :)

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Jun 15 - 05:52 PM

But a burlesque can be original.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 27 Jun 15 - 07:01 PM

Steve,

I assume the text you quote is from Mr Needham prior to 1790. Do you have more? The "en" added smacks of a burlesque.

Burlesque, however, is not mentioned in the four articles: (1) George Collins- Barbara M. Cra'ster 1910; (2) The "Johnny Collins" Version of Lady Alice- Bayard; (3) The "Clerk Colvill" Mermaid- Harbison Parker 1947 and (4) "George Collins" in Hampshire - David Atkinson.

Nor is is associated with Clerk Covill. However, it was been compared to Lord Lovell by Child and others-- perhaps because of the same form of the 1810 version. Or, perhaps because it has been used frequently as a parody.

It was Atkinson who mentioned the bit about not knowing the original. So where is this ancient ballad?

Or do we need to bring in the tall (pall) bearers? And what about the 6 maids?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 27 Jun 15 - 07:30 PM

Although Child remarked that "this little ballad is a sort of counterpart to 'Lord Lovel'" in his headnotes. Q: Guess who he got it from??




A: Robert Bell


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Jun 15 - 04:34 AM

The similaritieS with Lord Lovel are obvious and don't need attributing to anyone.

Other scholars do mention the burlesque aspect. Perhaps the ones you quote were not aware of or priorotising this aspect. The only recent one is David's. Prior to WWII most ballad scholars had little knowledge of the comic ballad genre.

I thought I'd sent you a copy of the Needham version. I'll post the words here later today.

Rather than burlesque I'd say the added 'en' like the added 'a' is an affectation of the 17th century and is sometimes added to make the song look older or more exotic. That doesn't mean this version comes from the 17thc. 'John Dory' which is old springs to mind.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 28 Jun 15 - 07:01 AM

I am beginning to think that this particular ballad or family of ballads would be better classified in the way that folk tales are classified, by the mix-and-match combinations of elements, rather than as discrete items under the two Child numbers or the one Roud number.

Not counting elements that are in any of the Continental versions but absent from all the English-language ones, the elements are:
the girlfriend/wife's warning to keep clear of the (mer)maid
meeting the (mer)maid by the well or stream
some series of interactions with her, including the headache and binding of his head
return home
requests to make his bed etc
death
girlfriend sees coffin or corpse coming and asks who it is
girlfriend dies.

Child 42, Child 85, George/Johnny Collins have various combinations of these elements. They could have been created as separate self-standing stories, drawing on various combinations of these elements.

OR they could all derive from an "original" English-language version (possibly from Orkney, Shetland, mainland Scotland or Ireland). The last two might have been present at that stage or they might have been missing (as they are from Child 42) and tacked on later, being borrowed from other ballads, along with the plants-growing-from-graves element.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Richie
Date: 28 Jun 15 - 08:36 AM

Steve,

I agree that George Collins, by itself, is/was considered a burlesque and a nursery song- a ditty sung by children- and is compared to Lord Lovell. When we consider adding Clerk Covill and then Johnny Collins it becomes an ancient ballad that tells a story of love, remorse, murder and the death of two principle characters.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Jun 15 - 09:50 AM

Looking at all of those separate elements in the story most, if not all, are ballad commonplaces. Very little is unique to this ballad.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Jun 15 - 09:57 AM

Clerk Colvill.
Not very impressed by this either. My impressions are that Child A and C are derived from B which is Herd and B is a translation from the German.

This then presents us with possibilities, both the Johnny Collins and various burlesques are based on Herd.

All of this is conjecture of course, as is much of what else is speculated on this thread.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Jun 15 - 10:14 AM

BL G308 Vol III, 1790
Giles Collins. In a crying style, as sung by Mr. Needham.

Giles Collins he came to his own Fathers Gate,
Where he so oft had been a
And who should come down but his own dear Mother
For to let Giles Collins in a
Oh, for to let Giles Collins in a.

Giles Collins he said to his own dear Mother,
Oh! Mother come bind up my head'en
And send for the Parson of our Parish,
For tomorrow I shall be dead en
Oh for tomorrow I shall be dead en.

Lady Annis was sat in her green Bower.
And a dressing of her night coif en,
And there she beheld and as fine an a corpse,
As ever she saw in her life en.
Oh as ever she saw in her life en.

What bear ye these ye Six tall men,
And a top of your shoulders,
We bear the body of Giles Collins,
An old true lover of yours.
Oh an old true lover of yours.

Settin down, settin down, Lady Annis she said,
On the grass that grows so green,
For to morrow morn by ten o' clock,
Oh my body shall lie by his'n,
Oh my body shall lie by his'n.

Giles Collins was laid in the East Church Yard,
lady Annis was laid in the West en
There sprung a Lilly from Giles Collins.
Which touch'd Lady Annis's breast en,
Oh which touch'd Lady Annis's breast en.

Now curse'n the Parson of our Parish,
For cutting this Lilly in twain,
For ne'er was sawn such a pair of true Lovers
No or e'er will be sawn such again.
No or e'er will be sawn such again.


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Subject: RE: Origins: George Collins: revisited
From: Jim Brown
Date: 28 Jun 15 - 01:03 PM

> meeting the (mer)maid by the well or stream, some series of interactions with her...

I don't suppose the lines of asterisks that appear at this point in all three of Child's texts need any explaining, but it perhaps worth mentioning here that Child 42A is actually a bowdlerized version of what Anna Gordon sang. The original Tytler Brown MS was lost in Child's day (it turned up again in the 1930s), and all he had to go on was a copy in which anything sexually explicit had been changed. The main changes were to verse 3, which in the manuscript is actually more like its counterpart in 42B:

"O had your tongue my gay Lady,        
An' dinna deave me wi' your din,        
For I saw never a fair woman
But wi' her body I cou'd sin."

and verse 6:

He's taen her by the milk-white hand,
And likewise by the grass-green sleeve,
An' laid her down upon the green,
Nor of his Lady speer'd he leave.

Albert Friedman borrowed this verse from the Tytler Brown MS to fill in the gap in the story in 42B in "The Viking Book of Folk Ballads of the English-Speaking World". The correct text of 42A is given in full by Bronson, and more recently by Sigrid Rieuwerts in "The Ballad Repertoire of Anna Gordon, Mrs Brown of Falkland".


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