Mudcat Café message #3603019 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #151087   Message #3603019
Posted By: Richie
19-Feb-14 - 08:01 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 6
Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 6

It seems likely that this too is a forgery- as you say. But it's fairly unsually to publish family names as in the following. Any and all of these family members would likely read this:

"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."

Why would anyone publish something like this - if it were a complete lie? It was published in 1971 only two years after the informant gave the possible false version- but that seems beyond careless- which it may have been. There exists the possibility that someone in the family got it from Child's book in 1890 or later- since the verses are of Child A, B and two verses are also closer to Cruel Nymph.

Here's what I've found after analyzing the verses:

The Bonny Brown Girl- Verses compared to Child 295A, The Cruel Nymph and 295B; Sung by Winnifred Brown Scott; 1969. Collected by Juanita Dawson.

1- I am as brown as brown can be,
My eyes are black as a sloe,
I am as brisk as a nightingale
And as wild as any doe. [Child 295A- Verse 1; Cruel Nymph is same; Child B doesn't have "nightingale."]

2- My love he was so high and proud,
His fortune too so high,
He for another fair pretty maid,
He left me and passed me by. [Child 295B- Verse 2; Child A and Cruel Nymph missing this verse.]

3- Me did he send a love letter,
He sent it from the town,
Saying no more he loved me,
For that I was so brown. [Child 295B- Verse 3 and Child 295A- verse 2 same as Cruel Nymph; closer to 295B;]

4- I sent his letter back again,
Saying his love I valued not;
Whether that he would fancy me,
Whether that he would not. [Child 295b- Verse 4; Child 295A- Verse 3; slightly closer to 295B]

5- When a six months,
Were overpassed and gone
Then did my lover, once so bold,
Lie on his bed and groan. [Child 295B Verse 5; not found in 295A]

6- First sent he for the doctor-man;
"You, Doctor, me must cure,
These terrible pains do torture me,
I can not long endure." [Child 295B Verse 7 exactly; 295A does not have stanzas about the doctor]

7- Next did he send from out the town,
Oh next he sent for me.
He sent for me the brown, brown girl
Who once his wife should be. [Child 295B Verse 8 exactly]

8- When I came to my sick love's bedside
Where he lay so dang'rous sick,
I could not for laughing stand,
Upright upon my feet. [Child 295A- verse 6 not in first person; The Cruel Nymph, verse 6 is almost exact; compares not as well to 295B- verse 11]

9- The white wand I held in my hand,
And stroked it on his breast;
"My faith and troth I give back to thee,
So may thy soul have rest. [None except cruel Nymph in first person; closest to 295B but in first person]

10- I've done as much for my true love,
As other maidens may,
I'll dance and sing on your grave
A whole twelve month and a day." [Closest to Cruel Nymph and close to 295A; while 295B isn't close]

I guess the only thing to do is track down the informant to see if she's still living and see if the information is accurate. That doesn't mean it wasn't taken from Child's book but it means the whole family story is accurate- that other people from the family sang it that way. And I understand your contention Steve that it has to be a forgery.