The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #36143   Message #572144
Posted By: toadfrog
14-Oct-01 - 11:12 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Cornwall Apprentice
Subject: Lyr Add: THE CORNWALL APPRENTICE
O.k. M. Mario, since you are curious. And it appears I missed the point when I did the above message; it seems so easy to make mistakes online. This is another of those songs that was written posthumously; they were tough in those days! The message I got, with lyrics, is as follows:

Hi Bill,

Here is the song copied from Peggy's singing on MATCHING SONGS OF THE BRITISH ISLES AND AMERICA, RLP 12-637. Fred thinks it may have been reprinted on CD, but we haven't checked that out. The note on the record jacket says "Miss Seeger's version is essentially the one collected by Cecil Sharp in 1918 from the singing of Mrs. Mary Gibson of Marion, North Carolina." She has a beautiful guitar acc. with it elaborate and clean.

The note mentions that the ballad was a popular broadside in the 19th century, often reprinted, and that the UK and US texts don't differ greatly, although there were many different tunes. You didn't say anything about needing the tune; I take it you already know it. By the way, the connection with Boston Burglar (I found a copy of the words in my old notebook, with the note that I got it from Mara Untermann, but not where she got it from), is mainly in the transportation verse; that eastbound train to Charlestown was obviously one you didn't want to be on. There is a Charlestown somewhere near Boston; I remember seeing the name on streetcars when I lived in Cambridge as a child; is that the one with a prison?

I was brought up in Cornwall all in a high degree.
My parents doted on me, no other child but me.
I ripped, I roved, I rambled where'er my fancies led
Till I became apprenticed, and all my joys they fled.

The man that I was bound to, he did not use me well.
I formed a resolution with him not long to dwell.
Unbeknownst to my dear parents from him I ran away.
I steered my course for London; oh, curs-ed be the day.

There were a lady in London; she chanced to spy me there.
She offered me great payment to dwell with her a year.
Her gold and her silver, houses and her land,
If I'd consent to wed her, should be at my command.

Oh no, my honored mistress, [YOU IDIOT! (t.f.)] I cannot wed you both.
I promised pretty Polly and bound it with an oath.
My mistress flew in anger and from me fled away
A-swearing by all vengeance she'd be my overthrow.

As I walked out one morning to take the pleasant air,
My mistress followed after to view the lilies fair.
Gold rings from off her fingers as she did pass me by,
She slipped them in my pocket, and for them I must die.

They put me on an eastbound train one cold December day,
And every station I rode through, I heard the people say,
"Yonder goes a young man, in iron chains he's bound.
For some crime or another, they've sent him to Charlestown."


Then I was executed and on the gallows hung.
My friends and relations all round me they did come.
Farewell to sin and sorrow, I bid them all adieu,
And likewise dearest Polly, I died for loving you.