Hearing the Evidence, p.62.

[Anecdotes of Burns Contents]

ROBERT BURNS dined in Edinburgh with a large party, in company with the late Lord Swinton and the Honourable Henry Erskine. Honest Lord Swinton had become extremely deaf. From time to time he observed the company convulsed with laughter; but his deafness prevented him enjoying the exquisite humour of Mr. Erskine. That, however, was of little consequence; he inquired at his next neighbour, “Is that my friend, Harry?” Being answered in the affirmative, he burst out into as hearty a laugh as the best of them; and in this manner partook in the general hilarity the whole evening. burns next day mentioning the circumstance to a lady of his acquaintance, she expressed her astonishment that a man who could act so absurdly should sit as judge on the lives and fortunes of his fellow-subjects. 

“My dear Madam,” answered Burns, “you wrong the honest man, he acts exactly as a good judge, ought; he does not decide before he has heard the evidence.” 

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