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With O the broome, the bonny, bonny broome,
The broome of Cowdenknowes ;
Pain would I be in the North Countrie,
Milking my daddy's ewes. 1
Cowles, it may be remarked, was a publisher of broadside
ballads in the reign of Charles II., if not also somewhat earlier.
A considerable number of those published by him and preserved
in the Roxburghe Collection, including this of The Northern
Lass, are in a certain style marking one authorship — a style
distinguished by its involving a great deal of mythological
allusion, thus somewhat recalling the manner of Burn the Violer.
One of these pieces bears the initials 'L. P.,' which we may
consequently regard as a shadow of the name of the author of
Tlie Northern Lass.
In Playford's Dancing Master, as early as 1650, occurs a tune
called Broom, the Bonny Bonny Broom, which perfectly suits this
song, and is believed by Mr William Chappell to have been its
proper melody : it is probably that alluded to in the well-known
book of that period, Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, under the
name of the Broom, the Bonny Bonny Broom. Thus we pretty
clearly take back the date of this famous air to the middle of
the seventeenth century.
It is the opinion, however, of Mr Chappell 2 — and no opinion
on such a subject can be entitled to greater weight — that the
tune was of still earlier origin. There is in the Pepys Collection
another black-letter emanation of the press of Francis Cowles,
entitled The New Broome, and opening thus :
Poor Coridon did sometimes sit
Hard by the broome alone,
And secretly complained to it,
Against his only one.
1 Printed at London for P. Cowles.
2 Popular Music of the Olden Time, ii. 458.

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