“The Plains of Baltimore”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1934 (Sam Henry collection)
Keywords: emigration father love elopement
Found in: US(MA) Ireland Canada(Mar)

Description

As the singer prepares to leave (Ireland?), his rich sweetheart promises to go with him and takes some of her father's money with her. They leave Ireland for America and settle down happily. Her father promises a reward when their first son is born

Supplemental text

Plains of Baltimore, The
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

Plains of Baltimore

From Anne Warner, Traditional American Folk Songs from the Anne &
Frank Warner Collection, #5, pp, 53-54. From the singing of
"Yankee" John Galusha of New York State. Collected 1941.

It's of a rich merchant's daughter in London did reside.
She vowed and swore she loved me and wished to be my bride.
She knew the night I was going away, she wrung her hands and cried,
"O Willie, are you going away for to leave your love behind?"

"This very night I am ready, along with you to go,
If it's even through the Chiney seas or Greenland's hills of snow.
I am ready to adventure with you while Atlantic billows roar."
And she smiled on fortune's cruelties in the land of Baltimore.

It was early next morning, just as the dawn did appear,
Our journey we pursued it, me and Eliza dear.
In silk my love was dressed, most rare to behold,
And in her belt her fortune took, ten thousand pounds in gold.

When we arrived in Belfast, some hours before it was day,
My true love she got ready our passage for to pay.
We paid our passage from Belfast, bid adieu to the shamrock's shore,
And with a swift and gentle gale we sailed for Baltimore.

When we arrived in Baltimore, we took up on some plains,
We cleared the timber from the land and soon we made it pay.
And now we drink good coffee and tea, both brandy, ale, and wine,
And here's success to old Ireland and the girls we left behind.

I wrote my father-in-law a letter, as you shall plainly see,
That if her was not satisfied, his money I'd send back to him.
He wrote me back an answer and this to me did say,
Five thousand more you will receive on you first son's birthday.

Now to conclude and to finish, my pen I will lay down.
Here's a health to all good-hearted girls through city or through town --
Here's a health to all good-hearted girls with riches and money in store --
May they prosper now I've finished, on the plains of Baltimore.

          *** B ***

Jamie, Lovely Jamie

From Same Henry, Gale Huntington, Lani Herrmann, Sam Henry's
Song's of the People, p. 482. Henry #H553. Collected from Alexander
Thompson. Printed 1934.

When first in Ireland I was born, it was in Armagh town,
I own my parents they were poor and fortune on us frowned,
The farm we had was rather small, with taxes burdened sore,
Which now compels me for to leave my native Irish shore.

There was a wealthy merchant in Armagh did reside,
He had one only daughter, who longed to be my bride,
When she heard that I was going away, the tears her eyes did blind,
Saying, 'How can you sail across the main and leave your love behind?

'Oh Jamie, lovely Jamie, along with you I'll go
To the scorching sands of the burning east or Greenland clad with snow,
My parents they'll be angry, for they are both proud and high,
But I will follow my farming lad until the day I die.'

The morning we left Ireland the weather was calm and clear,
I took ship in the Immediate with my Eliza dear,
In silks my darling she was dressed, most glorious to behold,
And in her stays her fortune laced, five hundred pounds in gold.

We wrote a letter to Ireland and in it did explain.
My father-in-law was not content I'd pay him back again,
He wrote to me an answer and this to me did say,
'Five hundred pounds I will put down on your first son's birthday.

'And may you ever prosper, I hope you will do well,
Although you took my only child to a foreign land to dwell.'
We took a farm in Baltimore and the trees we cleared away,
And for our toil and labour it did us soon repay.

Come all ye brisk young farmer lads has go the heart and means
To sail unto America to Baltimore's fair plains,
For there you can drink strong brandy, come from a foreign clime,
So adieu to dear old Ireland and the girls we left behind.

Notes

Creighton-SNewBrunswick has the money sewn into her dress: "This lovely maid was gaily decked most wondrous to behold, And in her dress a fortune sewed, five hundred pounds in gold." - BS

This is fairly typical of the versions, though the amount varies, as does the place of departure. The ending, in which the father forgives and offers more money once the son is born, seems fixed. - RBW

Cross references

References

  1. Warner 5, "Plains of Baltimore" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. SHenry H553, p. 482, "Jamie, Lovely Jamie" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Creighton-SNewBrunswick 38, "There Was a Wealthy Farmer" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. ST Wa005 (Full)
  5. Roud #7457
  6. BI, Wa005