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PREFACE.

(As in the Original Limited Edition.)

In thus providing for the perusal of the relatives of Burns the following Memoir of his youngest sister, I feel that little is required of me in the shape of a preface, and still less in the shape of an apology. To those who were privileged to know her, the many

admirable traits of her character must have become a deeply pleasing remembrance, while to those who were not so privileged, they can scarcely fail to prove an equally pleasing revelation, I have left her life's story to speak for itself, without the slightest attempt on my part in the way either of embellishment or of modification, and if in this little volume I have in any measure succeeded in conveying a just conception of her, and of her largehearted, loving nature, I shall feel that my effort has not been altogether “ love's labour lost."

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R. B. B.

KINROSS, 25th January, 1891.

MEMOIR OF ISOBEL BURNS

(MRS. BEGG).

THE subject of the following brief

Memoir presents in the incidents of her chequered life, as well as in the traits of her disposition and character, a personality sufficiently noteworthy to justify the hope that these pages may not be without interest to the many admirers of the genius and personality of her distinguished brother, Robert Burns. Of Mrs. Begg's life's experience it has been both well and justly remarked that "it has all the charm

which a tale of humble and honourable independence can possess," while of her mental characteristics it

may

with equal truth be said that they were eminently fitted to adorn almost any sphere of society.

In her picturesque cottage on the banks of the Doon, she was for the last sixteen

of her existence regarded with much public interest and veneration, simply because she was the youngest sister of Burns, and the last survivor of that domestic group, which, alike within “the auld clay biggin'” at Ayr and in the farm homesteads of Mount Oliphant and Lochlea, has for more than a century concentrated so much of the kindly scrutiny of the

years

Scottish people. Independently, however, of the lustre shed around her by her brother's fame, Mrs. Begg possessed a personal claim to special regard, which none of the many who were privileged to come in contact with her found it possible to ignore. To them her natural dignity and refinement, her acute and vigorous intellect, and her cultivated taste, especially in literary matters, never failed to convey an interesting and lasting impression. This is gracefully and truthfully referred to in the following extract from a tribute to her memory, which appeared in the public press on the occasion of her death towards the close of the year

1858 :

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