The Bard’s Boyhood or Burns & Jenny Wilson, p.13.

[Anecdotes of Burns Contents]

THE bard himself tells Doctor Moore the following:-

“In my infant and boyish days I owed much to an old woman, Jenny Wilson by name, who resided in the family, remarkable for her ignorance, credulity, and superstition. She had, I suppose, the largest collection in the country of tales and songs concerning devils, ghosts, fairies, browies, witches, warlocks, spunkies, kelpies, elf-candles, dead-lights, wraiths, apparitions, cantraips, giants, enchanted towers, dragons and other trumpery. This cultivated the latent seeds of poesie; but had so strong an effect upon my imagination that, to this hour in my nocturnal rambles, I sometimes keep a look-out in suspicious places. The collection of songs was my vade-mecum. I pored over them, driving my cart or walking to labour, song by song, verse by verse, carefully noting the true, tender, or sublime from affectation and fustian. I am convinced I owe to this practice much of my critic craft, such as it is.”

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