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The Dean of Faculty


A NEW BALLAD.

[The Hal and Bob of these satiric lines were Henry Erskine, and Robert
Dundas: and their contention was, as the verses intimate, for the
place of Dean of the Faculty of Advocates: Erskine was successful. It
is supposed that in characterizing Dundas, the poet remembered "the
incurable wound which his pride had got" in the affair of the elegiac
verses on the death of the elder Dundas. The poem first appeared in
the Reliques of Burns.]


I.

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 with 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 Faculty's Dean, Sir.--

II.

This Hal for genius, wit, and lore,
Among the first was number'd;
But pious Bob, 'mid learning's store,
Commandment tenth remember'd.--
Yet simple Bob the victory got,
And won his heart's desire;
Which shows that heaven can boil the pot,
Though the devil p--s in the fire.--

III.

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.--

IV.

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 open'd yet
Till for eloquence you hail him,
And swear he has the angel met
That met the Ass of Balaam.

Robert Burns


Poetry