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He did not Know Burns, pp.120-121.

[Anecdotes of Burns Contents]

HAVING lost my copy of Burns some time ago, I went into the book-shop of this town – Vryheid, Transvaal – to buy another. The proprietor (Von Schalweedenberg) was also the librarian of a circulating library. 

“Could you oblige me with a copy of Burns?” 

“I beg your pardon?” 

“I wish to buy a copy of Burns.” 

“I don’t know what you said, sir.” 

“Do you know Robert Burns?” 

“I haven’t had the pleasure of that gentleman’s acquaintance.” 

“I want the works of Burns.” I emphasised the name here, and thought I could detect by the man’s face a ray of light struggling into his brains. 

“O ho! I have an excellent treatise by our great Medical Doctor, Herre Gottenburg, on the very subject. It’s entitled, ‘How to treat and cure burns.’ ” At this stage of the dialogue I raised my voice and thundered, by way of explanation, 

“Robert Burns was a man who lived in the west of Scotland a hundred years ago, who wrote poems. Those poems have been published, translated into many languages, and retailed all over the world. Those poems have exercised a mighty elevation, giving subtle expression to that divine spark within the human breast we vulgarly call love, which sentiment I dare say you yourself have felt, sir. Do you know him now?” 

“Never heard of him before.” 

“Do you know Goethe?” 

”Oh, I know him well.” 

“Well, Burns is the Scotch Goethe, and your education is not complete till you know him.” 

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