Volume I, song 020, page 21 - 'The Lass of Peaty's Mill' -...
Volume I, song 020, page 21 - 'The Lass of Peaty's Mill' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'The lass of Peaty's mill, So bonny blythe and gay, In spite of all my skill, Hath stole my heart away. When tedding of the hay, Bare headed on the green, Love 'midst her locks did play, And wanton'd in her een'. In English, the Scots word 'tedding' means 'tidying', 'Een' means 'eyes'.
The 'Scots Musical Museum' is the most important of the numerous eighteenth- and nineteenth-century collections of Scottish song. When the engraver James Johnson started work on the second volume of his collection in 1787, he enlisted Robert Burns as contributor and editor. Burns enthusiastically collected songs from various sources, often expanding or revising them, whilst including much of his own work. The resulting combination of innovation and antiquarianism gives the work a feel of living tradition.
Burns, in notes written in an interleaved copy of the 'Museum', divulges the results of his search to find the song's origin. The most interesting story came to Burns from Sir William Cunningham of Robertland. Apparently the Earl of Loudon was out walking with his son and the poet Allan Ramsay (1686-1758), at a place called Patie's Mill, when they were struck by the beauty of a country girl. The old Earl remarked that 'she would be a fine theme for a song' and before dinner Ramsay had composed this song.