Frozen Charlotte

The Ultimate Victorian Inaction Figure
Before Barbie, Cabbage Patch and Furby, there was Frozen Charlotte. Thirty-four fragmentary Frozen Charlotte dolls were found during the Muni Metro excavation. These small ceramic dolls, the most diminutive of which were called "penny babies," took their name from a popular romantic ballad of the middle nineteenth century. The song (shown below) laments Charlotte's death after riding to a New Year's Eve ball in a sleigh with her sweetheart and refusing to dress warmly or use a blanket.


 

Fair Charlotte

 

Fair Charlotte lived on a mountain side,
In a wild and lonely spot,
No dwelling was for three miles round
Except her fathers cot.
 
On many a cold and wintry night,
Young swains were gathered there,
For her father kept a social board,
And she was very fair.
  Her father loved to see her dress
Fine as a city belle -
She was the only child he had,
And he loved his daughter well.
 
On New Year's Eve when the sun was set.
She gazed with a wistful eye
Out of the frosty window forth,
To see the sleighs go by.
  She restless was, and longing looked
Till a well-known voice she heard,
Came dashing up to her father's door,
Young Charlie's sleigh appeared.
 
Her mother said, -"My daughter dear,
This blanket round you fold,
For tis an awful night without,
And you'll be very cold."
  "Oh nay, oh nay," young Charlotte cried,
And she laughed like a gypsy queen,
"To ride in a blanket muffled up,
I never will be seen."
 
"My woolen cloak is quite enough,
You know it is lined throughout,
Besides I have my silken shawl,
To tie my neck about."
  She gloves and bonnet being on,
She jumped into the sleigh,
And off they went down the mountain side
And over the hills away.
 
With muffled faces, silently,
Five long cold miles were passed,
When Charles in few and broken words,
The silence broke at last.
  "Oh! Such a night I never saw,
My lines I scarce can hold," -
Fair Charlotte said, in a feeble voice,
"I am exceeding cold."
 
He cracked his whip and they onward sped,
Much faster than before,
Until five other dreary miles,
In silence they passed o'er.
  "How fast," said Charles, "the frozen ice,
Is gathering on my brow."
Said Charlotte in a weaker voice,
"I'm growing warmer now."
 
Thus on they went through the frosty air,
And in the cold starlight,
Until the village and bright ballroom,
They did appear in sight.
  Charles drove to the door, and jumping out,
He held his hand to her, -
"Why sit you like a monument,
That has no power to stir?"
 
He asked her once, he asked her twice,
She answered never a word;
He asked her for her hand again,
But still she never stirred.
  He took her hand into his own,
Oh God! It was cold as stone!
He tore her mantle from her brow,
On her face the cold stars shown.
 
Then quickly to the lighted hall,
Her lifeless form he bore,
Fair Charlotte was a frozen corpse.
And her lips spake no more.
  He threw himself down by her side,
And bitter tears did flow,
And he said, "My own, my youthful bride,
I never more shall know!"
 
He bore her body to the sleigh,
And with it he drove home,
And when he reached her father's door,
Oh! How her parents mourned!
  They mourned the loss of a daughter dear,
And Charles mourned o'er her doom,
Until at last his heart did break,
And they both lie in one tomb.
   



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