“Charlie Is My Darling”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1821 (Hogg)
Keywords: courting army soldier Jacobites seduction
Found in: Britain(Scotland)

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"

Notes

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

It's 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.

It is reliably reported that Charlie left only one illegitimate child -- Charlotte (1753-1789), by Clementina Walkinshaw, with whom he lived for several years. Walkinshaw seems to have been the great love of his life; 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 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)." - RBW

Historical references

Cross references

References

  1. Silber-FSWB, p. 140, "Charlie Is My Darling" (1 text)
  2. DT, CHARDARL*
  3. ADDITIONAL: Walter de la Mare, _Come Hither_, revised edition, 1928; #195, "Charlie He's My Darling" (1 text)
  4. Roud #5510
  5. BI, FSWB140A