In a passage from his memoirs published in 1890, Vilhelm Birkedal (1809-92), pastor in a village on the island of Funen and one of the leaders of the Grundtvigian movement, recalls the uneasiness he experienced whenever he met the famous Søren Kierkegaard on the streets of Copenhagen. The peripatetic philosopher used to engage in long conversations with people he met on his way, and at the same time employed his piercing psychological insight to investigate his interlocutor’s mind. Birkedal loathed the pressure, the scrutiny of inspection, which he was subjected to when encountering his theological antagonist:

As I mentioned, when I met S.K. like this, I was afraid of becoming more deeply involved than necessary with him. I did not want to be grilled. He could cause the most ridiculous situations. One time I was walking along Østergade and suddenly heard a voice from the opposite sidewalk: “Birkedal!” It was S.K. accompanying Cand. Gjødwad by the arm. I crossed the street diagonally towards him, while he and G. did the same, and we met in the middle of the street where we found ourselves standing in a pile of dirt. “May I present messieurs to one another,” said K., “Pastor B. and Cand. G.” Then we immediately bade each other farewell.1