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A Contrite Heart; or Burns a Praying Man, p.95.

[Anecdotes of Burns Contents]

BURNS was deeply conscious of his own faults, and was ever ready to deplore them and condemn himself. A touching incident bearing on this is recorded in the edition of his works, edited by Hogg and Motherwell. It was related by a boon companion of Burns’s, and occurred after a night which they and others had spent together. This friend, who had shared the same room with Burns, had gone to bed, and was supposed by Burns to be asleep. He was lying awake, however, and, with partially closed eyes, was observing the poet’s movements. He saw him walk restlessly about the room for a while, and then throw himself on his knees with his face leaning on his arms, which were across a chair. In this position he began to pray audibly, and by degrees became so fervid in his appeals for mercy and forgiveness for his transgressions that his friend, stricken with awe, crept out of bed, and went down also upon his knees. Burns neither heard nor saw, and went on in an agony of penitence and supplication. No man (his friend said afterwards) could have prayed with such passion, with such contrition, with such a realisation of God’s presence, unless prayer had been a habit with him. When at last Burns stopped and looked about, and found his friend on his knees beside him, he shook his head, and seemed not pleased that he had been observed and heard. 

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