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Sir Egerton Brydges Interviews Burns, pp.77-78.

[Anecdotes of Burns Contents]

SIR E. BRYDGES thus relates an interview he had with Burns on the banks of the Nith:- 

“I had always been a great admirer of his genius, and of many traits in his character, and I was aware that he was a person moody and somewhat difficult to deal with. I was resolved to keep in full consideration the irritability of his position in society. About a mile from his residence, on a bench under a tree, I passed a figure which, from the engraved portraits of him, I did not doubt was the poet; but I did not venture to address him. On arriving at his humble cottage, Mrs. Burns opened the door; she was the plain sort of humble woman she has been described. She ushered me into a neat apartment, and said that she would send for Burns, who was gone for a walk. In about half-an-hour he came, and my conjecture proved right. He was the person I had seen on the bench by the roadside. At first I was not entirely pleased with his countenance. I thought it had a sort of capricious jealousy, as if he was half inclined to treat me as an intruder. I resolved to bear it, and try if I could humour him. I let him choose his turn of conversation, but said a few words about the friend whose letter I had brought to him. It was now about four in the afternoon of an autumn day. While we were talking Mrs. Burns, as if accustomed to entertain visitors in this way, brought in a bottle of Scotch whisky, and set the table. I accepted the hospitality. I could not help observing the curious glance with which he watched me at the entrance of this signal of homely entertainment. He was satisfied: he filled our glasses – 

‘Here’s a health to auld Caledonia!’ 

The fire sparkled in his eye, and mine sympathetically met his. He shook my hand with warmth, and we were friends at once. Then we drank ‘Erin for ever!’ and the tear of delight burst from his eye. The fountain of his mind and his heart now opened at once, and flowed with abundant force almost till midnight.” 

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