Last week we were pleased to welcome the Aberdeen Art Fund for a guided tour. Our very knowledgeable and enthusiastic visitors were shown the House's most interesting treasures, one of which had just been discovered gathering dust in the depths of the library cupboard - A wonderful book of poetry entitled 'Songs of A caged Bird', written by Christina Leslie Burnett (1818-1866, daughter of John 5th of Kemnay).
Christina suffered from ill health throughout her life, spending many days languidly reclining on the long Victorian sofa that is still a central feature of the drawing room today. The sofa was especially designed for her, due to her exceptional height, and was placed near the south facing Georgian windows, presumably so that she could catch some sunlight.
Although Christina never married, her poetry is full of heart-felt passion:
Speak not the words by love once spoken,
They chill like ice in their altered tone;
Now that the spell is broken,
The spell that once held thee all mine own.
Speak not the words when their soul is fled;
When I know that the love is dead!
Extract from 'The Buried Love'
Her sister Mary published the book in memory of Christina, stating on the title page:
"To the friends who knew and loved her, this Selection from compositions termed by herself 'Songs of a Caged Bird', as having beguiled her years of suffering."
While tidying away the archives after the tour had finished, I had a moment to reflect at how amazing it is to be able to sit on the same sofa, with the same sun warming the room, while reading the poignant words penned by Christina 160 years ago.