Volume VI, song 514, page 530 - 'Wee Willie Gray' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'Wee Willie Gray, an' his leather wallet; Peel a willie wand, to be him boots and jacket. The rose upon the breer will be him trouse an' doublet the rose upon the breer will be him trouse an' doublet.' 'Peel a willie wand' is to peel a willow wand.
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.
According to Johnson, Burns wrote this song for inclusion in the 'Museum'. Whilst the attributions supplied by Johnson have not always proved to be accurate, in this instance he appears to be correct. William Stenhouse, editor of the 'Museum' (1853) following Johnson's death, noted that the accompanying tune was entitled, 'Wee Totum Fog'. John Glen (1900), however, disputes Stenhouses claim, stating that 'We have bever been fortunate enough to come across it, and thus are left in a 'fog''. Glen is generally considered the more reliable source.