'Twas early one morning young Willie arose,
Straightway to his com-e-rades bedchamber he goes,
Saying, "Com-e-rades, royal com-e-rades, let nobody know,
For it is a fine morning and a bathing we'll go."
They walked straight along till they came to a long lane,
And the first that they met was a keeper of game;
He warned them with sorrow for to turn back again,
For there's a deep and false water in the lake of Colphin.
Young Willie stripped off and he swam the lake round,
He swum round the island, but not the right ground;
"Oh com-e-rades, royal com-e-rades, do not venture in,
For there's deep and false water in the lake of Colphin."
The very next morning his sister arose,
Straightway to her mother's bedchamber she goes,
Saying, "Mother, oh! Mother, I've had a sad dream,
Young Willie's a-floating in the watery stream."
The very next morning his mother came there,
She had rings on every finger and tearing of her hair,
Crying, "Murder, Oh! murder, was there nobody nigh,
To save the sweet life of my own darling boy?"
The very next morning his uncle came there,
He rode round the lake like a man in despair,
Saying, "Where was he drownded, or did he fall in?"
There's deep and false waters in the lake of Colphin."
The very next morning his sweetheart arose,
And straight to his mother in despair she goes,
For every other morning he did her salute,
With a bunch of red roses or fine garden fruit.
On the day of his funeral it was a grand sight,
Twenty-four young men all dressed up in white,
They carried him alog and laid him in cold clay,
Saying, "Adieu to young William" and then marched away.
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Source: Purslow, F, (1968), The Wanton Seed, EDFS, London
Frank Purslow wrote:
Tune and text from George Hatherill of Bath. (Hammond S279) This, presumably Irish, song was extremely popular at one time throughout Southern England and I am very pleased it has once more been returned to circulation due to a very fine version originating from Scan Tester of Horsted Keynes in Sussex. The text follows Scan's version pretty exactly and the tune is a variant of that employed by Scan, which is itself a version of The Bold Princess Royal or The Indian Lass, of which there are versions in Marrowbones
The lake can have many names: Colephin, Culfin, Coul Fin, Coolfin, Cold Finn, Cold Flynn, Cold Stream, Wolfrinn, Shallin, Shilin, Shillin, Shellin are some examples.
Two editions of The Lakes of Cold Finn are at Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads. Further examples are given in the discussion thread.
Roud: 189 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six