Sunday, January 17, 2010
The Prodigal Son
Of what country the prodigal son was is not precisely known, but I believe he was an Irishman. What his name was, is not generally understood; but I believe it was Malefacius. From what place he took his title (seeing he was a nobleman) has not yet been discovered; but I believe it was Maidsberg or Womenham. What was the device in his coat of arms, no one has described; but I believe it was a sow's stomach in a field verd.
This chap travelled with well-larded purse through various countries and provinces, and returned no better, but rather worse. So it often happens still, that many a noble youth has his travels changed to travails.
Not seldom, also, he goes forth a good German, and returns a bad Herman. What honour or credit is it to the noble river Danube that it travels through different lands, through Suabia, Bavaria, Austria, Hungary, and at last unites with a sow ! The pious Jacob saw, in his journey, a ladder to heaven; but, alas! many of our quality find, in their journeys, a ladder into hell. If, now-a-days, a man travel not, he is called a Jack-in-the-corner, and one who has set up his rest behind the stove. But tell me, dear half-Germans, (for whole Germans ye have long ceased to be,) Is it not true 1 Ye send your sons out that they may learn strange vices at great cost in strangerlands, when, with far less expense, they might be acquiring His Pulfit Drolleries virtues at home. They return with no more point to them than they went out, except that they bring home some new fashion of point. They return no more gallant, unless it be that gallant comes from the French galant. They return more splendidly clad, but good habits were better than to be finely habited. New-fashioned hats, newfashioned periwigs, new-fashioned collars, new-fashioned coats, new-fashioned breeches, new-fashioned hose, newfashioned shoes, new-fashioned ribbons, new-fashioned buttons—also new-fashioned consciences creep into our beloved Germany through your travels. Your fool's frocks change too with every moon; and soon the tailors will have to establish a university, and take doctor's degrees, and afterwards bear the title of right reverend doctors of fashion.
If I had all the new fashions of coats for four-and-twenty years, I would almost make a curtain before the sun with them, so that men should go about with lanterns in the day-time. At least, I would undertake to hide all Turkey •with them, so that the Constantinopolitans should think their Mohammed was playing blind-the-cat with them. An old witch, at the request of king Saul, called the prophet Samuel from the dead, that he might know the result of his arms. It will soon come to pass, that people will want to call from the dead the identical tailor and master who made the beautiful Esther's garment, when she was so well-pleasing in the eyes of Ahasuerus
... So the prodigal son learned but little good in foreign lands. His doing was wooing; his thinking was drinking; his Latin was Prqfidat, his Italian Brindisi, his Bohemian Sasdravi, his German Gesegnets Gott. In one word, he was a goodly fellow always mellow, a vagrant, a bacchant.