Sir Robert Burnett of Shaftsbury
Our patron saint, Sir Robert Burnett of Shaftsbury, was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne on the 17th of May, 1735. He was born out of wedlock, the product of a one-night-stand between Captain Morgan and Queen Mary II of Scotland.
As a young boy, Robert had little contact with either his sea-going father or his mother, who shunned him due to the circumstances of his birth. He was raised by a loosely-knit group of liberal arts students at the local university. By day, he watched his adoptive family slave away in lecture after lecture, only to graduate without any hope of landing a job. By night, he watched as they tried in vain to get drunk, limited by their poverty and the weak nature of the alcoholic beverages available at the time.
Robert wasn't good at sports or his studies. The girls didn't pay him much attention. Reading bored him. He couldn't hold a job. What Robert discovered, however, was that he had a burning passion to make cheap, fuck-you-up-quick booze with which to solve the problems of liberal arts students and manual laborers everywhere.
Robert's path to greatness was not paved with gold. A long process of trial and error preceeded the successful product for which history is in his debt. Some of his early liquors were too weak. Others were too delicate-tasting. Others were quite good, but would have been too expensive to sell cheaply.
Then, one day, the fortune smiled upon Robert. The heavens parted and sun shone down upon his brew. His latest concoction of water, rancid pine needles, and juniper berries came out perfect. It was 44% alcohol, enough to make even the most ornery bricklayer drunk, yet low-grade enough to be sold for $5 per bottle, which was within the price range of liberal arts majors.
Little Robert from Newcastle became a national hero. Soon he was no longer Bobby Burnett, failed moonshine manufacturer — he was Sir Robert Burnett of Shaftsbury, standard-beared of the working class.
Success never changed Sir Robert. Never once did he consider improving his gin's taste, increasing its price, or altering its alcohol content. While he moved to the regal land of Shaftsbury, he still ate tacos for dinner and sat around in his underwear. And even though he became a regular guest in the Royal Court at state occasions, he always showed up piss-drunk and underdressed.
Sir Robert died Jimi Hendrix-style on December 21, 1797, choking on his own vomit while plastered. It was a fitting end; he died just as he lived.
Few people take the time to recognize the importance of this great man. Sir Robert Burnett — a man without whom a psychology degree would be unattainable.