A POET’S WELCOME TO HIS LOVE-BEGOTTEN DAUGHTER
Elizabeth Burns, his illegitimate “dear bought Bess”, born in 1785, was Robert Burn’s first child, and whose mother Elizabeth Paton had been a servant of the Burns family at Lochlie farm. She was brought up by her paternal grandmother and when Burns contemplated emigrating he charged his brother Gilbert with the welfare of his mother and his daughter. The following four verses are extracted from the poem.
“Thou’s welcome, wean! Mishanter fa’ me, If thoughts o’ thee, or yet thy mammie,
Shall ever daunton me or awe me, My sweet, wee lady,
Or if I blush when thou shall ca’ me Tyta or daddie!
“What tho’ they ca’ me fornicator, An’ tease my name in kintra clatter.
The mair they talk, I’m kend the better, E’en let them clash!
An auld wife’s tongue’s a feckless matter To gie ane fash.
“Welcome my bonie, sweet, wee dochter! Tho’ ye come here a wee unsought for,
And tho’ your comin’ I hae fought for, Baith kirk and queir;
Yet, by my faith, ye’re no unwrought for – That I shall swear!
“And if thou be what I wad hae thee, An’ tak the counsel I shall gie thee,
I’ll never rue my trouble wi’ thee – The cost nor shame o’t –
But be a loving father to thee, And brag the name o’t.”