Sillar’s Description of the Poet, pp.28-29.

[Anecdotes of Burns Contents]

DAVID SILLARS describes the Poet thus:- 

“Mr Robert Burns was sometime in the parish of Tarbolton prior to my acquaintance with him. His social disposition easily procured him acquaintance; but a certain satirical seasoning, with which he and all poetical geniuses are in some degree influenced [?], while it set the rustic in a roar, was not unaccompanied by its kindred attendant, suspicious fear. I recollect hearing his neighbours observe he had a great deal to say for himself, and that they suspected his principles [meaning, we presume, his orthodoxy]. He wore the only tied hair in the parish; and in the church his plaid, which was of a particular colour, I think fillemot, he wrapped in a particular manner round his shoulders. these surmises, and his exterior, had such a magical influence on my curiosity, as made me particularly solicitous of his acquaintance. Whether my acquaintance with Gilbert was casual or premeditated, I am not now certain. By him I was introduced, not only to his brother, but to the whole of that family, where, in a short time I became a frequent, and I believe not unwelcome, visitant. After the commencement of my acquaintance with the bard, we frequently met upon Sundays at church, when, between sermons, instead of going with our friends or lasses to the inn, we often took a walk in the fields. In these walks I have frequently been struck by his facility in addressing the fair sex; and many times, when I have been bashfully anxious how to express myself, he would have entered into conversation with them with the greatest ease and freedom; and it was generally a death-blow to our conversation, however agreeable, to meet a female acquaintance. Some of the few opportunities of a noon-tide walk that a country life allows her laborious sons, he spent on the banks of the river, or in the woods in the neighbourhood of Stair, a situation peculiarly adapted to the genius of a rural bard. Some book he always carried and read when not otherwise employed. It was likewise his custom to read at table. In one of my visits to Lochlea, in time of a sowens supper, he was so intent on reading, I think, “Tristram Shandy,” that his spoon falling out of his hand, made him exclaim, in a tone scarcely imitable, ‘Alas, poor Yorick!’ Such was Burns, and such were his associates, when in May, 1781, I was admitted a member of the Bachelor’s Club.” 

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