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Prince Charlie Stuart / Flora McDonald's Lament
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Even if this song was obviously intended to expand the legend of Bonnie Prince Charlie, one can not help but feel some of the bewilderment that must have struck the rural highlanders when they first saw Charlie Stuart, standing in his aristocratic attire at the shore of Loch Shiel and trying to start a revolution.
Brigid Tunney of Beleek, Co. Fermanagh sang Prince Charlie Stuart to Peter Kennedy on 20 July 1953 (BBC recording 20025). This recording was also included on the anthology album A Soldier's Life for Me (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 8; Caedmon 1961; Topic 1970).
Maddy Prior learned Prince Charlie Stuart from the singing of Brigid Tunney, and sang it in 1971 on Steeleye Span's second album, Please to See the King. She sang very much nasal, praising the Young Pretender to a strummed backing, imitating a bagpipe's swirl and melody line, which was here played on Peter Knight's violin.
This video shows Steeleye Span in John Pearse's ATV programme “Music Room” in 1970:
A live recording from The Forum, London on 2 September 1995 was released on Steeleye Span's 2 CD set The Journey. Another live recording from The Rose Theatre Tewkesbury, on 20 April 2004 was issued on their DVD The 35th Anniversary World Tour 2004:
Moira Craig sang Flora McDonald's Lament. on her 2000 album On ae Bonny Day. She noted:
The Steeleye Span version of this, Prince Charlie Stuart, was one of the first songs I sang in public with two of my best friends Steve and Henry. A chance encounter with Roisin White almost 20 years later in Sidmouth indicated that it was only part of a Jacobite song Flora McDonald's Lament. It was found by John Moulden in the Kidson Collection in the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, not far from where I first sang it.
Brigid Tunney sings Prince Charlie Stuart
Come join in lamentation, ye princes and nobles
And kings of the highest degree;
And pity the lot of a poor forlorn maiden
Who mourns for her love night and day.
Although she's but a lady of eighty pounds a year,
Both lords, dukes and earls to her they do draw near.
She disdains them all with silence and she bids them disappear,
For so dear was my Charlie to me.
If you had seen my Charlie at the head of his army,
He was a pleasant sight to behold;
With his fine tartan hose on his bonnie brown leg
And his buckles of the pure, shining gold.
The tartan my love wore was of yellow and green silk,
And his lovely skin in under it far whiter than the milk;
It's no wonder there were hundreds of highlanders killed
In restoring my Charlie to me.
Oh my love was six foot two, without stocking or shoe,
In proportion my true love was built.
As I told you before, upon Culloden moor,
Where the brave highland army was killed.
Prince Charlie Stuart was my true love's name;
He was champion of Scotland and son to King James.
And so far they have banished him over the main,
And so dear was my Charlie to me.
But the grief and the sorrow that blights my tomorrow,
Between and betwixt us does stand;
That my Charlie was brought up in the Catholic religion,
And I in the Church of Scotland.
But if that is all divides us, although my kin may mock,
I will go with my Charlie and worship at a Rock;
And I'll become a member of Saint Peter's flock;
And so dear was my Charlie to me.
Steeleye Span sing Prince Charlie Stuart
If you had seen my Charlie at the head of an army
He was a gallant sight to behold
With his fine tartan hose on his bonnie round leg
And his buckles all pure shining gold
The tartan my love wore was the finest Stuart Kilt
With his soft skin all under it as white as any milk
It's no wonder that seven hundred highlanders were killed
In restoring my Charlie to me
My love was six foot two without stocking or shoe
In proportion my true love was built
Like I told you before upon Culloden Moor
Where the brave highland army was killed
Prince Charlie Stuart was my true love's name
He was the flower of England and a pride to his name
Ah but now they have banished him over to Spain
And so dear was my Charlie to me
(repeat last verse)