The Robert Burns Connection
The celebrated and world renowned Scots poet Robert Burns once held a deep affection for the young Eliza Burnett, daughter of Lord Monboddo.
Burns’ father was a tenant at the Monboddo House, and Robert frequently visited the residence during the learned suppers.
It was likely that he also took this as an excuse to see Eliza as Burns was known to have written several poems dedicated to her beauty and grace. But due to her untimely death on the 17th of June 1790 at the age of 22, no opportunity for a lasting relationship was given to develop.
In a letter addressed to William Chalmers of Ayr, dated 27th December 1786, Burns described Eliza Burnett thus:
“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“.
In his Elegy On The Late Miss Burnet Of Monboddo burns commemorates the memory of Eliza:
Life ne’er exulted in so rich a prize,
As Burnet, lovely from her native skies;
Nor envious death so triumph’d in a blow,
As that which laid th’ accomplish’d Burnet low.
Thy form and mind, sweet maid, can I forget?
In richest ore the brightest jewel set!
In thee, high Heaven above was truest shown,
As by His noblest work the Godhead best is known.
In vain ye flaunt in summer’s pride, ye groves;
Thou crystal streamlet with thy flowery shore,
Ye woodland choir that chaunt your idle loves,
Ye cease to charm; Eliza is no more.
Ye healthy wastes, immix’d with reedy fens;
Ye mossy streams, with sedge and rushes stor’d:
Ye rugged cliffs, o’erhanging dreary glens,
To you I fly – ye with my soul accord.
Princes, whose cumb’rous pride was all their worth,
Shall venal lays their pompous exit hail,
And thou, sweet Excellence! forsake our earth,
And not a Muse with honest grief bewail?
We saw thee shine in youth and beauty’s pride,
And Virtue’s light, that beams beyond the spheres;
But, like the sun eclips’d at morning tide,
Thou left us darkling in a world of tears.
The parent’s heart that nestled fond in thee,
That heart how sunk, a prey to grief and care;
So deckt the woodbine sweet yon aged tree;
So, rudely ravish’d, left it bleak and bare.