What tho' I am a country lass
X:1 T:Country Lass, The M:3/4 L:1/8 R:Air N:"What tho' I am a Country Lass," S:The Devil to Pay (1731, p. 50) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:C G|Gc B3c|de/d/ c3B|AG F3 E|E c3 z:| G|GE G3A|AF A3e|fe d3c|Bd3 z G| FE D2C2|fe d3c|dc B3A|G c3z||
WHAT THO' I AM A COUNTRY LASS. AKA and see "Country Lass (The)," "Sally in our Alley." English, Air (3/2 time). C Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. "What tho' I am a country lass" was a ballad written in the early 18th century by Martin Parker, printed in William Thomson's Orpheus Caledonius (London, 1725, p. 85). Stenhouse, in his notes to The Scottish Musical Museum, claims the tune is Scottish in origin and found its way to England around the year 1700 where it was printed that year in the second volume of Thomas D'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy. "Henry Playford," wrote the antiquarian, "the editor and publisher of the three first volumes of that work, had not however known the original tune, as he directs it to be sung to the air called "Cold and Raw"; and to make the verses suit this tune, he has altered some of the words, as well as the terminating leter 'O' into 'A', at the end of every alternate line." Stenhouse thought this change "perfectly ludicrous," ruining the intention of the folk ballad.
What tho' I am a Country Lass,
A lofty mind I bear a;
I think my self as good as those,
That Gay Apparel wear a;
What tho' my Coat be Home-spun Gray,
My Skin it is soft a,
As those that in their Cypress Veils,
Do carry their Heads aloft a.
X:1 T:Country Lass, The M:6/4 L:1/8 R:Air N:First line -- "What tho' I am a Country Lass." N:A version of "Cold and Raw" B:D'Urfey - Pills to Purge Melancholy vol. 2 (1700) N:Published by Henry Playford Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:Dmin G4A2 B4c2|d2e2f2 F4F2|G4G2 d4B2|G6 B6| B4 B2 B3c B2|c4 c2 c4 c2|d4 d2 g4 f2|d6 f6| B4 B2 B3c B2|c4 d2 _e4 f2|d3c B2 A3G ^F2|G6 d6||
"What tho' I am a country lass" was also printed in the Tea-Table Miscellany, directed "to be sung to its ain tune." The melody served as the vehicle for a song by Theophilus Cibber in his 1732 one-act version of Charles Coffey's The Devil to Pay. It begins:
In plain stuff gown, an short-ear'd coif,
Hard Labour did endure—a
Tho' late I was a cobbler's wife
In cottage most obscure--a.
Other songs were also written to the air, including "The London Lady," printed in the Universal Spy; or, London Weekly Magazine in 1733, and it served for a song in The Harlot's Progress, sung by Madame Decoy.
The melody achieved widespread fame when it was attached to Henry Carey's song "Sally in our Alley," which had originally been sung to an air credited to Carey but which was similar to that of "What tho' I am a country lass." Carey's tune began to be supplanted for his "Sally" song around the 1760's, and the two coexisted for some time before the new air became firmly ensconced in anthologies and collections.