CHAMBERS records the following, which illustrated the depth of the love of Mrs. Burns, and how careful she was to cast the mantle of prudence over her husband’s name. The daughter of the bard, born in March, 1791, and who was afterwards Mrs. Thomson, was brought home to the house of Burns, and taken charge of by Mrs. Burns. The babe was soon after found by Jean’s father in the same cradle with a child of her own, and drew from him the surprised enquiry if she had again had twins, when she quietly answered that the second baby was one of whom she was taking temporary charge for a sick friend. She brought up the little girl to womanhood, with an unvarying kindness of demeanour which created a filial degree of attachment.
NEAR the close of Mrs. Burns’s life, the Misses Begg, nieces of the poet, resided with her in the well-known house in Dumfries. A message-boy called at the house one day, and for some time was engaged with Mrs. Burns. When his business was finished, he lingered about the door as if something were still upon his mind. Miss Begg asked him if he wished anything further.
“Oh,” he said, “if it’s no a faut, I would like to see Bonnie Jean.”
“Bonnie Jean!” replied Miss Begg, “you have been speaking to her for the last quarter-of-an-hour.”
With a look of ineffable disappointment, he said – “Is that Bonnie Jean?” and went away.
Alas! that youngster forgot that time whitens the hair, and writes wrinkles on the brow, and effaces the marks of beauty from the cheek. But to burns himself she was Bonnie Jean to the last, and Bonnie Jean she will continue while the memory of the poet is cherished.