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Johann Gottfried Seume: Obolen - Kapitel 12
authorJohann Gottfried Seume
booktitleProsaische und poetische Werke ? Siebenter Theil
publisherBerlin. Gustav Hempel


Jack Rostbeef's return

Welcome, dear Jack, from foreign ground
Back to old England save and sound! I
s yet your carriage staunch and stout?
What devil came you home about?

'Tis but some years, You curs'd and swore,
You would our island see no more,
Where all your soul's high blazing fire
Expired in pit coals, fogs and mire.

Well, pray, dear Jack, come let us know,
Your spirits are they high or low?
Are You disburthen'd of your load,
By what you found and fed abroad?

Let me alone! old Jack replied,
Quick turning to an other side;
And when they prest and prest him close,
The surly fellow blew his nose.

And listless of the curious crowd,
Which very thick and very lowd
Besieg'd their dear strange country man,
The following rhapsody began.

Well, what before I feard,
I found By rambling all the globe around,
from thrones and sees to chamberstools,
That mankind are but knaves or fools.

Broad folly reigns all over the map,
And only wears a different cap:
The cowl but changes with the climes,
And nonsense flows in smoother rhimes.

The German prince and English peer
The selfsame haughty jargon sneer,
And everywhere with heavy Hem
The people's fleec'd and cries God dam!

Boldly commands with giddy mope
Through Russian fields the flatfaced pope,
And all the throng falls on the knee,
And bawls Pomuiluj Gospodee!

There was a race of generous fools,
For every whim the stoutest tools,
The Polacks once; but with one sway
Now the whole frame is fool'd away.

With heavy pace the German clown,
His hardy countenance sunburnt brown,
Sets now and then his tongue a loose,
And for his driver crams his goose.

The thinlegg'd Frenchman skims away
From comedy to bloody fray,
And for a thing, he freedom calls,
Walks round his dance through cannonballs.

And after having in his frown
The ennemy's army battled down,
He abject curbs his liberal mind,
For fear of being guillotined.

Now look You there, over holy rome
Broad dulness hangs with midnight gloom,
And fatten'd monks with Molochs stare
Upon the people's marrow fare.

And in the lap of pious Spain
He's damn'd whoever is sound in brain,
Who does but change to purse his mouth
Southwestward, when the wind is south.

The Dutch upon a throne of cheese
are happily dull with pork and pease,
With patience tutor'd by their wives,
The cordials of their shellfish lives.

And all the rest of human race,
Run down to slavery apace:
God bless the blockheads on their way!
For folly ever plays foolish play.

Here I am back in british air;
Our country is as good and fair
As ever a handywork of god,
By other twolegg'd creatures trod.

Go, take the round east north and west
To look for fools; at home is best.
Our excellent pudding is as sweet,
As pumpernick or polnish meat.

Our pippins have as fine a taste,
As berries of the dreary waste;
And who shall small beer thin and stale
Compare with our high flavouring ale?

What though our Lords, for jockies fit,
Be sometimes something out of wit,
They do the nation little evil;
We damn and give them to the devil.

God save the King! and go to hell,
Who in his name do buy and sell!
Peace to the brave, and knock them down,
The rascals of the church and gown!

Let them be fools, who choose to be;
I shall be one myself for me,
Jack Rostbeef I, not Lord nor knight,
But all along an honest wight.

And though we be as stately fops
As ever turn'd their crazy tops,
In all our tricks there's yet left sense
From Shakespeare down to Peter Squence.

Well let me live with merriment,
And homely feed, what heaven has lent,
Till goes my whimsy soul to rest!
For even our Bedlam is the best.

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