A Single Word, pp.60-61.

[Anecdotes of Burns Contents]

ANOTHER of those critical scenes is well described by Professor Walker, who happened to be present. It also occurred at the table of Dr. Blair, who was fond of hearing the poet reading his own verses. “The aversion of Burns,” he observes, “to adopt alterations which were proposed to him, after having fully satisfied his own taste, is apparent from his letters. In one passage, he says he never accepted any of the corrections of the Edinburgh literati, except in the instance of a single word. If his admirers should be desirous to know this ‘single word,’ I am able to gratify them, as I happened to be present when the criticism was made. It was at the table of a gentleman of literary celebrity, who observed, that in two lines of the ‘Holy Fair,’ beginning – 

‘For Moodie speels the holy door, 

Wi’ tidings of salvation.’ 

The last word, from his description of the preacher, ought to be damnation. this change, both embittering the satire, and introducing a word to which Burns had no dislike, met with his instant enthusiastic approbation. 

‘Excellent!’ he exclaimed with great warmth, ‘the alteration shall be made, and I hope you will allow me to say in a note from whose suggestion it proceeds;’ a request which the critic with great good humour, but with equal decision, refused.” 

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