BURNS one day visited his landlord, Mr. Miller, at Dalswinton House; and Miss Miller, in answer to some complimentary remark from the poet about her blooming looks, told him that she had been much less commended on the previous evening. One of the Lords of Justiciary from the Circuit Court at Dumfries happened to be dining with her father, and the gentlemen sat over their cups a considerable time after dinner. When they joined the ladies in the drawing-room, his lordship’s visual organs were so much affected that, pointing to Miss Miller, he asked her father –
“Wha’s yon howlet-faced thing i’ the corner?”
Burns immediately pulled out his pencil and wrote on a slip of paper the following lines, which he handed to Miss MIller, saying –
“There’s the answer you should send him.”
“How daur ye ca’ me ‘howlet-face?’
Ye blear-e’ed, wither’d spectre!
You only spied the keekin’-glass,
And there ye saw your picture!”