Doug and Zuma and I went into Savannah today and trekked around Forsythe Park and then browsed the shops on River Street. Suddenly I saw this poster:
It surprised me to see this poster as I have one of these porcelain dolls; I purchased her from a Maine diver/artist who unearthed her ghostly little self offshore a while ago and placed her in the middle of a framed, stained glass shrine of sorts. She appealed to me at the time and I’ve often wondered why the artist/diver named her Frozen Charlotte. So I wandered into the shop and asked the shop-keeper about the history of the minuscule maiden. After a very informative visit, I purchased this:
I didn’t want to take Zuma into her shop with all the antiques and breakable items, but she insisted and lavished cookies to Zuma who thought she was at Grandma’s house. With Zuma’s four foot tail swathe, this is not a safe place for an uber happy Great Dane. But the woman didn’t even flinch (I did all the flinching).
This is the information the shop-keeper gave to me about Frozen Charlotte:
Firstly, she told me that the doll originated from a story about Charlotte, a young girl who was being courted by “Charlie”; she was on her way to a Ball one cold Wintry night and refused to wear a shawl or a blanket in the sleigh because she didn’t want to wrinkle her beautiful gown. Sadly, Charlotte froze along the way. Soon thereafter, Charlie died of a broken heart. This, apparently happened in Connecticut. Iiii know. I checked it out on Wiki, it’s a fact, ya’ll.
The note that accompanied the necklace reads:
“This beautiful pendant was created from a broken antique Frozen Charlotte Doll that was dug in Historic Savannah, GA, among artifacts dating back to the 1850s. Frozen Charlotte is a name used to describe a specific form of china doll made from ca. 1850 – ca. 1920. The Frozen Charlotte Doll is made in the form of a standing, naked figure molded all in one piece. The dolls may also be found described as pillar dolls or bathing babies. The dolls ranged in size from under an inch to over 18 inches. Smaller sizes were very popular for doll’s houses. Occasionally versions are seen with a glazed china front and an unglazed stoneware back. This enabled the doll to float in a bath …. The smallest dolls were often used in punches and teas at balls and parties, to cool drinks. Afterwards they were given as party favors. Sometimes they were baked into Christmas puddings. Then, the Ballad of “Frozen Charlotte” would be recited”.
I located the lyrics to the song on line:
Young Charlotte (Kenneth Peacock)
in a bleak and dreary spot,
There was no house for miles around,
except her father’s cot;
And yet on many a wintry night
young swains were gathered there,
For her father kept a social board,
and she was very fair.
far looked her wishful eye,
Out from the frosty window pane
as merry sleighs went by;
In a village fifteen miles away,
was to be a ball that night,
And though the air was heavy and cold,
her heart was warm and light.
as a well-known voice was heard,
And driving up to the cottage door,
her lover’s sleigh appeared;
“O, daughter dear,” her mother cried,
“This blanket ’round you fold,
It is a dreadful night tonight,
you’ll catch your death of cold.”
and she laughed like a gypsy queen,
“To ride in blankets muffled up,
I never would be seen;
My silken cloak is quite enough,
you know ’tis lined throughout,
Besides, I have my silken scarf
to twine my neck about.”
she stepped into the sleigh,
Rode swiftly down the mountainside
and o’er the hills away;
With muffled face and silent lips,
five miles at length were passed,
When Charles with few and shivering words,
the silence broke at last.
the reins I scarce can hold.”
Fair Charlotte shivering faintly said,
“I am exceeding cold.”
He cracked his whip, he urged his steed
much faster than before,
And thus five other dreary miles
in silence were passed o’er.
is gathering on my brow.”
And Charlotte still more faintly said,
“I’m growing warmer now.”
So on they rode through frosty air
and glittering cold starlight,
Until at last the village lamps
and the ballroom came in sight.
he reached his hand for her,
She sat there like a monument
that has no power to stir;
He called her once, he called her twice,
she answered not a word,
He asked her for her hand again,
and still she never stirred.
‘Twas cold and hard as stone,
He tore the mantle from her face,
cold stars upon it shone;
Then quickly to the glowing hall,
her lifeless form he bore,
Fair Charlotte’s eyes were closed in death,
her voice was heard no more.
while bitter tears did flow,
And cried, “My own, my charming bride,
you never more will know.”
He twined his arms around her neck,
he kissed her marble brow,
His thoughts flew back to where she said,
“I’m growing warmer now.”
and with her he rode home,
And when he reached the cottage door,
O, how her parents mourned;
Her parents mourned for many a year,
and Charles wept in the gloom,
Till at last her lover died of grief,
and they both lie in one tomb.
####…. Said to be based on a true event recorded in an original poem by Maine humorist and editor Seba Smith [1792-1868] and set to music by William Lorenzo Carter. [Laws G17] Native American Balladry (G Malcolm Laws, 1950/1964) ….####
This variant was collected in 1958
Are you shedding a tear? Yeh, me too.
Sometimes several tiny dolls are found at one dig site, it was a good party but these were trinkets and frequently discarded, though few remain. The male versions are called Frozen Charlies.
I like to imagine my new little Charlotte experienced an exciting Plantation Ball and accidentally ended up being thrown away to be found a century later and come to me. I really appreciate her. Although many may consider her story sad, I find it heartwarming to think that she and Charlie are remembered and immortalized forever.
So, next time you’re out in the cold, remember to bundle up, ya’ll.
When I think of the man in the tent, I will always remember him as Frozen Charlie.
I wear Charlotte everywhere now. She really likes touring around.
And it’s warm here.