Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES, age. It is supposed she was the person who is elegantly praised in one of the papers of the Mirror, as rejecting the most flattering and advantageous opportunities of settlement in marriage,’ that she might amuse a father’s lonelinessnurse the sickly infirmity of his age-and cheer him with all the tender cares of filial affection. Her presence contributed to draw around him, in his house and at his table, all that was truly respectable among the youth of his country. She delighted in reading, in literary conversation, in poetry, and in the fine arts ; without contracting from this taste any of that pedantic self-conceit and affectation which usually characterises literary ladies ; and whose presence often frightens away the domestic virtues, the graces, the delicacies, and all the more interesting charms of the sex. When Burns first arrived from the plough in Ayrshire, to publish his poems in Edinburgh, there was none by whom he was more zealously patronised than by Lord Monboddo and his lovely daughter. No man’s feelings were ever more powerfully or exquisitely alive than those of the rustic bard to the emotions of gratitude, or to the admiration of the good and the fair. In a poem which he at that time wrote, as a panegyrical address to Edinburgh, he took occasion to celebrate the beauty and excellence of Miss Burnett, in perhaps the finest stanza of the whole :- ’ “ Thy daughters bright thy walks adorn ; Gay as the gilded summer sky- Sweet as the dewy milk-white thorn- Dear as the raptured thrill of joy! Fair Burnett strikes the adoring eye, I see the Xire of Love on high, Heaven’s beauties on my fancy shine ; And own his works, indeed, divine ! ’‘3 She was the ornament of the elegant society of the city in which she residedher father’s pride, and the comfort of his domestic life.”a Miss Burnett is known to have refused the late Dr. Gregory. In a letter to his friend Chalmers, Burns says-‘‘I inclose you two poems which I have carded and spun since I passed Glenbuck. One blank in the ‘Address to Edinburgh’-‘Fair B-,’ is the heavenly Miss Burnett, daughter of Lord Monboddo, at whose house I have had the honour to be more than once. There has not been anything nearly like her, in all the combinations of beauty, grace, and goodness the great Creator has formed, since Milton’s Eve, on the first day of her existence.” Miss Burnett had rather indifferent teeth ; but this was known to few, as she had so beautiful a mouth that they were completely concealed. Dr. Blacklock, who waa hlind, when dining with the late Mr. Smellie, made a curious remark on a lady who had just left the room- ‘‘ That lady,” said he, “ has very fine teeth !” “ How can you possibly know that ?” inquired Mr. Smellie. The lady undouhtedly had beautiful teeth. Miss Burnett always avoided laughing either loud or long; but what was preferable, there was always a sweet smile on her countenance. To all her father’s guests Miss Burnett paid the most unremitting attention, and more especially to such as appeared diffident or 6ashfu.J. “This being a failing which very much beset myself,” says our respected informant, “the first time I had the honour of dining with her, she at once perceived the feeling under which I laboured; and accordingly paid me such fascinating attention, that I came away quite delighted with her kindness.” At the suggestion, and through the influence of Lord Gardenstone, a pension of $100 per annum was conferred on Miss Burnett. She was called the “pretty pensioner.” ‘‘ Because,” replied the Doctor, “ she laughs so long and loud.”
Volume 9 Page 182
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