For a' that and a' that

A New version, Respectfully Recommended to Sundry whom it Concerns

Original Text: 
Shirley Brooks, Wit and Humour (Poems from "Punch") (London: Bradbury, Agnew, 1875): 275-76. Internet Archive.
2    It claims respect, and a' that;
3But honest wealth's a better thing,
4    We dare be rich for a' that.
5        For a' that, and a' that,
9What though on soup and fish we dine,
10    Wear evening togs and a' that,
11A man may like good meat and wine,
12    Nor be a knave for a' that.
13        For a' that, and a' that,
15        A gentleman, however clean.
16            May have a heart for a' that.
18    Who bawls and brays and a' that,
21        For a' that, and a' that,
23        A man with twenty grains of sense,
24            He looks and laughs at a' that.
25A prince can make a belted knight,
26    A marquis, duke, and a' that.
27And if the title's earned, all right,
28    Old England's fond of a' that.
29        For a' that, and a' that,
30            Beales' balderdash, and a' that,
31        A name that tells of service done
32            Is worth the wear, for a' that.
33Then let us pray that come it may
34    And come it will for a' that,
35That common sense may take the place
36    Of common cant and a' that.
37        For a' that, and a' that,
38            Who cackles trash and a' that,
39        Or be he lord, or be he low,
40            The man's an ass for a' that.


1] A parody of Robert Burns's "For a' That and a' That" (1797). Back to Line
6] spooney cant: silly jargon. Back to Line
7] ten-pun: ten-pound. Back to Line
8] brick: good guy. Back to Line
14] fustian: bombastic, nonsensical (after coarse cotton-flax cloth). Back to Line
17] Beales: Edmond Beales (1803-81), a right-wing reform movement radical, president of the Reform League, which lobbied for universal manhood suffrage, successfully, as it turned out, with the passing of Isaac Disraeli's Reform Bill in 1867. Back to Line
19] bosh: nonsense. Back to Line
20] goose: fool. Back to Line
22] Bubblyjocks: posturing, after the word for "turkey-cocks." Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: