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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Friedrich von Schiller (1759–1805)

The Capuchin’s Sermon

From “Wallenstein’s Camp”


Cap.HURRAH! Hullo! Tol, lol, de rol, le!

The fun’s at its height! I’ll not be away!

Is’t an army of Christians that joins in such works?

Or are we all turned Anabaptists and Turks?

In the Sabbath a day for this sport in the land,

As though the great God had the gout in His hand,

And thus couldn’t smite in the midst of your band?

Say, is this a time for your reveling shouts,

For your banquetings, feasts, and holiday bouts?

Quid hic statis otiosi? Declare

Why, folding your arms, stand ye lazily there?

While the furies of war on the Danube now fare,

And Bavaria’s bulwark is lying full low,

And Ratisbon’s fast in the clutch of the foe,

Yet the troops they lie here in Bohemia still,

And caring for naught, so their paunches they fill!

Bottles far rather than battles you’d get,

And your bills than your broadswords more readily wet.

With the wenches, I ween, is your dearest concern,

And you’d rather roast oxen than Oxenstiern.

In sackcloth and ashes while Christendom’s grieving,

No thought has the soldier his guzzle of leaving.

’Tis a time of misery, groans, and tears!

Portentous the face of the heavens appears!

And forth from the clouds, behold blood-red,

The Lord’s war-mantle is downward spread,

While the comet is thrust, as a threatening rod,

From the window of heaven by the hand of God.

The world is but one vast house of wo;

The ark of the church stems a bloody flow;

The Holy Empire—God help the same!—

Has wretchedly sunk to a hollow name.

The Rhine’s gay stream has a gory gleam;

The cloisters’ nests are robbed by roisters;

The church-lands now are changed to lurch-lands;

Abbacies, and all other holy foundations,

Now are but robber-sees—rogues’ habitations.

And thus is each once-blest German state

Deep sunk in the gloom of the desolate!

Whence comes all this? Oh, that will I tell:

It comes of your doings, of sin, and of hell;

Of the horrible, heathenish lives ye lead,

Soldiers and officers, all of a breed.

For sin is the magnet, on every hand,

That draws your steel throughout the land!

As the onion causes the tear to flow,

So vice must ever be followed by wo.

The W duly succeeds the V,

This is the order of A, B, C.

Ubi erit victoriæ spes,

Si offenditur Deus? which says,

How, pray ye, shall victory e’er come to pass,

If thus you play truant from sermon and mass,

And do nothing but lazily loll o’er the glass?

The woman, we’re told in the Testament,

Found the penny in search whereof she went;

Saul met with his father’s asses again,

And Joseph his precious fraternal train;

But he who ’mong soldiers shall hope to see

God’s fear, or shame, or discipline, he

From his toil, beyond doubt, will baffled return,

Though a hundred lamps in the search he burn.

To the wilderness preacher, th’ evangelist says,

The soldiers, too, thronged to repent of their ways,

And had themselves christened, in former days.

Quid faciemus nos? they said—

Toward Abraham’s bosom what path must we tread?

Et ait illis, and, said he,

Neminem concutiatis;

From bother and wrongs leave your neighbors free.

Neque calumniam faciatis;

And deal nor in slander nor lies, d’ye see?

Contenti estote—content ye, pray—

Stipendiis vestris—with your pay—

And curse forever each evil way.

There is a command, thou shalt not utter

The name of the Lord thy God in vain;

But where is it men most blasphemies mutter?

Why, here, in Duke Friedland’s headquarters, ’tis plain.

If for every thunder, and every blast,

Which blazing ye from your tongue-points cast,

The bells were but rung in the country round,

Not a bellman, I ween, would there soon be found;

And if for every unholy prayer

Which to vent from your jabbering jaws you dare,

From your noddles were plucked but the smallest hair,

Ev’ry crop would be smooth ere the sun went down,

Though at morn ’twere as bushy as Absalom’s crown.

Now, Joshua, methinks, was a soldier as well;

By the arm of King David the Philistine fell;

But where do we find it written, I pray,

That they ever blasphemed in this villainous way?

One would think ye need stretch your jaws no more,

To cry, “God help us!” than “Zounds!” to roar.

But, by the liquor that’s poured in the cask, we know

With what it will bubble and overflow.

Again, it is written, “Thou shalt not steal,”

And this you follow, i’ faith, to the letter,

For open-faced robbery suits you better!

The gripe of your vulture claws you fix

On all, and your wiles and rascally tricks

Make the gold unhid in our coffers now,

And the calf unsafe while yet in the cow.

Ye take both the egg and the hen, I vow!

Contenti estote, the preacher said;

Which means: be content with your army bread.

But how should the slaves not from duty swerve?

The mischief begins with the lord they serve;

Just like the members, so is the head.

I should like to know who can tell me his creed.

Ne custodias gregem meam!

An Ahab is he, and a Jeroboam,

Who the people from faith’s unerring way,

To the worship of idols would turn astray.

Such a Bramarbas, whose iron tooth

Would seize all the strongholds of earth, forsooth!

Did he not boast, with ungodly tongue,

That Stralsund must needs to his grasp be wrung,

Though to heaven itself with a chain ’twere strung?

A wizard he is—and a sorcerer Saul—

Holofernes—a Jehu—denying, we know,

Like St. Peter, his Master and Lord below!

And hence must he quail when the cock doth crow.

He’s a fox more cunning than Herod, I trow,

A Nebuchadnezzar in towering pride,

And a vile and heretic sinner beside!

He calls himself rightly the stone of a wall,

For, faith, he’s a stumbling-stone to us all!

And ne’er can the emperor have peace indeed,

Till of Friedland himself the land is freed!