MS: Letter from Mrs Agnes McLehose to Robert Burns, dated 22 February 1788

Agnes McLehose, Author 
Object Number:


Robert met one of the greatest loves of his life, Mrs Agnes McLehose, during his extended trip to Edinburgh. Although they were both involved with other people, the two began an epistolatory affair which has been immortalized through their surviving correspondence. Addressing each other as ‘Sylvander’ and ‘Clarinda’ to protect their identities in case of exposure, Robert and Agnes continued to write to each other for years, even after Robert married Jean Armour and moved to Ellisland near Dumfries.

Here, Agnes writes to Robert following their final meeting in Edinburgh. Burns has now returned to Ayrshire to begin farming again in Ellisland and to resolve his ongoing affair with Jean Armour.

Agnes laments that she has not heard from Robert for some days and hopes that he is not unwell. She continues by describing her latest social outing, the first since his departure from Edinburgh. She attended a geological lecture given by the blind Dr Moyes with her friend Miss Craig and a gentlemen, whom Agnes unflatteringly calls 'one of the many stupid animals, knowing only in the Science of Puppyism'.

Agnes also notes the attendance of the beautiful Miss Burnet at the occasion, and asks Burns why he had ever paid attention to her when he could have admired Miss Burnet and her many charms. She finishes by begging for a return letter in the coming days.

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