Volume VI, song 501, page 517 - 'My Peggy's face' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'My Peggy's face, my Peggy's form, The frost of hermit age might warm; My Peggy's worth, my Peggy's mind, Might charm the first of human kind. I love my Peggy's angel air, Her face so truly heav'nly fair, Her native grace so void of art, But I adore my Peggy's heart.'
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.
At the bottom of this page a note from Burns to the publisher has been included. It appears from his note that Burns wrote this song to accompany a melody previously discussed with Johnson. Mr Clarke is Stephen Clarke, Johnson's musical editor. Although Burns was quite adamant that the song be included in the second volume, it did not appear until this, the sixth, volume, by which time the musical editor was William Clarke, son of Stephen. The 'Peggy' of the song is purported to be Margaret Chalmers (1763-1843), for whom Burns also composed the love song 'Where braving angry winter storms' (song 195).