James Burnet 1714 - 1799
Advocate, (Lord Monboddo)
In the painting he is seen conversing with Henry Erskine on Burns appearance. Burn wrote that he had the pleasure of being entertained more than once at Monboddo's house. The first night he was there, he met Hugh Chisholm who had followed Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746. The same night he composed the lines to 'Fair Burnet' to his Lordship's daughter, which would become on her death 'The Elegy On The Late Miss Burnet of Monboddo.'
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.
Lord Monboddo was widely known to be an eccentric One day when he came out of court to be met with a downpour, he calmly placed his wig in his sedan chair and walked home. Another time after a decision went against him regarding the value of a horse, he refused to sit with the other judges and assumed a seat below the bench with the court clerks. When Burnett was visiting the King's Court in London in 1787, part of the ceiling of the courtroom started to collapse. People rushed out of the building but Burnett who, at the age of 71, was partially deaf and shortsighted, was the only one not to move. When he was later asked for a reason, he stated that he thought it "an annual ceremony, with which, as an alien, he had nothing to do". One of his more eccentric views was that babies were born with tails, and the midwife cut them off at birth!