Volume VI, title page - Scanned from the 1853 edition of...
Volume VI, title page - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
The beautifully engraved text on this page reads, 'The Scots Musical Museum consisting of six hundred Scots songs with proper Basses for the PIANO FORTE &c. Humbly Dedicated To the Society OF Antiquaries of Scotland BY JAMES JOHNSON In this publication the original simplicity of our Ancient National Airs is retained unincumbered with useless accompaniments and graces depriving the sweet simplicity of their native melodies.' This volume sold for 7 shillings. At the bottom of the page are the vendor's details: 'Printed and Sold by JAMES JOHNSON Music Seller EDINBURGH to be had at T.PRESTON No.97 Strand LONDON, McFADYEN GLASGOW, and at all the principal Music Sellers.'
James Johnson published this sixth edition of the 'Museum' in 1803, after Burns's death. Though he is well-respected today, Johnson's outstanding contribution to Scots music was never recognised during his lifetime and he died in poverty.
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.