Burns and the Minister, pp.52-53.

[Anecdotes of Burns Contents]

WHEN he had made up his mind to retain a line in the words of its original inspiration – such as “when I look back on prospects drear” – he stated his reasons briefly for refusing to make any change, and then sat like his own heroine, “deaf as Ailsa Craig,” to all persuasion of remonstrance. Nor did he lose his serenity of mind, though the way in which he unconsciously, perhaps, crumpled up the sheet in his hand till he almost made it illegible, showed what was passing within him. It was on one of these occasions that a clergyman, stung with the irreverent way that Burns had handled the cloth in some of his earlier pieces, hazarded some stern remarks on the “Holy Fair,” not, he said, but that the poem was a clever picture, he only wished to show that the poem was not constructed according to the true rules of composition. The reverend censor did not acquit himself well in his perilous undertaking: the eye of the Poet began to lighten, and his lips to give a sort of a twitching announcement that something sarcastic was coming. All present looked towards him. He spoke as they expected, saying:- 

“No, by heaven, I’ll not touch him – ‘Dulness is sacred in a sound divine.’ ” 

“I’ll find you as apt a quotation as that,” said the aggressor, “and from a poet whom I love more -.” 

“Corbies and clergy are a shot right kittle.” 

Burns laughed, held out his hand, saying, – “Then we are friends again.” 

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