The Dean of Faculty: A new Ballad

Robert Burns

Dire was the hate at old Harlaw,
That Scot to Scot did carry;
And dire the discord Langside saw
For beauteous, hapless Mary:
But Scot to Scot ne’er met so hot,
Or were more in fury seen, Sir,
Than ’twixt Hal and Bob for the famous job,
Who should be the Faculty’s Dean, Sir.

This Hal for genius, wit and lore,
Among the first was number’d;
But pious Bob, ’mid learning’s store,
Commandment the tenth remember’d:
Yet simple Bob the victory got,
And wan his heart’s desire,
Which shews that heaven can boil the pot,
Tho’ the devil piss in the fire.

Squire Hal, besides, had in this case
Pretensions rather brassy;
For talents, to deserve a place,
Are qualifications saucy.
So their worships of the Faculty,
Quite sick of merit’s rudeness,
Chose one who should owe it all, d’ye see,
To their gratis grace and goodness.

As once on Pisgah purg’d was the sight
Of a son of Circumcision,
So may be, on this Pisgah height,
Bob’s purblind mental vision—
Nay, Bobby’s mouth may be opened yet,
Till for eloquence you hail him,
And swear that he has the angel met
That met the ass of Balaam.

In your heretic sins may you live and die,
Ye heretic Eight-and-Tairty!
But accept, ye sublime Majority,
My congratulations hearty.
With your honours, as with a certain king,
In your servants this is striking,
The more incapacity they bring,
The more they’re to your liking.

Last updated July 13, 2015