Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > German
The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vol. XII: German
The Examination in Theology
By Karl Arnold Kortum (1745–1824)
From “The Jobsiad”

HIERONIMUS stuck to his determination,
And the clerisy held a convocation,
  And every one came in his wig and robes
  To the examination of Hieronimus Jobs.
But how he felt in face of his danger,        5
Being to learning an utter stranger,
  And what an anxious face he made,
  The reader will not comprehend, I’m afraid.
The scene is beyond my power of painting:
If he ever in his life saw the hour for fainting,        10
  That hour at last was approaching now,
  Alas! thou poor Hieronimus, thou!
Begin now, Miss Muse, an enumeration
Of the clerical gentlemen whom the examination
  Brought hither on the appointed day        15
  From every quarter of Suabia.
The first, that was the Herr Inspector,
In doctrine strong as a second Hector,
  A stately, pot-bellied man was he,
  Whom you saw at a glance an inspector to be.        20
This post was accorded to his singular merit;
Its burdens he bore with a patient spirit,
  And, to say the truth, with a cheerful mood,
  And daily ate and drank what was good.
And after him came the spiritual assessor,        25
A man whose breadth was somewhat lesser,
  But height much greater; he was spare of limb,
  And his disposition exceedingly grim.
He not only the spiritual interests defended,
But to matters of economy also attended,        30
  And drank only bad wine and beer,
  For his income was small and his habit severe.
Then came Herr Krager, an oldish man rather,
Who was very well versed in many a church father,
  And to prove a point could readily quote        35
  Whatever any one of ’em wrote.
Next, Herr Krisch, polite as a Castilian,
Who was, in postils, a perfect postilion;
  Posted up in them as well as the best
  Parson the Swabian land possessed.        40
Next, Herr Beff, a linguist of great reputation,
And a tolerable Christian in walk and conversation,
  In lecturing a terrible bore,
  But always orthodox to the core.
Next, Herr Schreier, a man of great notoriety        45
Alike in the pulpit and in general society,
  Free and easy; had no wife,
  And led with his cook an exemplary life.
Next, Herr Plötz, an angelic creature,
In his youth of a somewhat genial nature,        50
  But when to preach he once began
  He became a very pious man.
He kept his belovèd congregation
From vice and evil communication;
  Faithful in season and out was he        55
  To admonish, when he had opportunity.
Next, Herr Keffer, who never could tire
In following his sheep through mud and mire.
  But alas! in his flock, besides the lambs
  Were likewise many stiff-necked old rams.        60
Sometimes, to get them to follow his leadings,
He instituted legal proceedings,
  For he understood the law of the state
  As well as the very best advocate.
Besides those named in the above enumeration,        65
Other clerical gentlemen attended the examination,
  Whom I neither need nor can
  Particularly designate man by man.
Now when the reverend and pious faces
Had all come together in their places,        70
  Præmissis præmittendis they
  Round a great table sate straightway.
With trembling and quaking came Hieronimus
Before this assembly of white bands so ominous,
  And scraped a greeting submissively.        75
  Oh, wo, Hieronimus, wo on thee!
First and foremost inquired the examiners
About his previous morals and manners,
  And presently asked him whether he
  Had a certificate from the university?        80
Hieronimus, without hesitation,
Handed the inspector the attestation,
  Who read the same immediately.
  Alas, Hieronimus, wo on thee!
’Tis true, the document was worded        85
In Latin and Greek, as here recorded,
  And consequently not easy to read,
  But, unfortunately, as ill luck decreed,
The inspector made out, in a free translation,
To give a substantial interpretation,        90
  For no other clergyman in the hall
  Dared undertake the task at all.
To leave no breach in this narration,
I will now give the reader full information
  What Hieronimus’s certificate,        95
  Word for word, did properly state.
First, the name and title of the professors,
And then, in larger hand, the letters
  L. B. S., and the meaning of them
  Was Lectori Benevolo Salutem!        100
“Forasmuch as Master Hieronimus Jobsius
As Theologiæ Studiosus,
  During three years’ and some weeks’ space
  Had his residence in this place;
“And the same now has it in contemplation        105
To take his leave, and has made application
  For a written certificate to me—
  A step of great propriety—
“I could not refuse his reasonable desires,
But give hereby the attest he requires:        110
  That the same did every quarter of a year
  Once in my lecture-room appear.
“Whether the rest was devoted to study,
Himself knows better than anybody,
  For I in this official report        115
  Assert and testify nothing of the sort.
“And as to general behavior,
There is not much to be said in his favor;
  Entire silence on that point would be
  The part of Christian charity.        120
“For the rest I have only to say, God speed him
On his journey home, and may Heaven lead him,
  When all these earthly troubles are past,
  To the place where he belongs at last!”
How the eyes of the learned body distended        125
When the reading of this document ended!
  And that Herr Hieronimus did not laugh,
  The reader can imagine readily enough.
However, on all hands, it seemed better
For this once to overlook the matter,        130
  And for charity’s sake to find all the good
  In the testimonial that they could.
For the gentlemen wisely recollected
How many of their tricks had not been detected,
  And how, if they had, it had fared with them,        135
  And so they proceeded at once ad rem.
The Herr Inspector he led off,
Clearing the way with a mighty cough
  Repeated thrice; thrice did he stroke
  His portly paunch, and then he spoke:        140
“I, as you see, pro tempore inspector,
And of the clergy present director,
  Ask you, ‘Quid fit episcopus?’”
  Straightway replied Hieronimus:
“A bishop is, as I conjecture,        145
An altogether agreeable mixture
  Of sugar, pomegranate juice, and red wine,
  And for warming and strengthening very fine.”
The candidate Jobs this answer making,
There followed of heads a general shaking,        150
  And first the inspector said, “Hm, hm!”
  Then the others, secundum ordinem.
And now the assessor began to inquire:
“Herr Hieronimus, tell me, I desire,
  Who the apostles may have been?”        155
  Hieronimus quick made answer again:
“Apostles they call great jugs, I’m thinking,
In which wine and beer are kept for drinking
  In the villages, and from them oft
  By thirsty students liquor is quaffed.”        160
The candidate Jobs this answer making,
There followed of heads a general shaking,
  And first the inspector said, “Hm, hm!”
  Then the others, secundum ordinem.
Herr Krager now in his turn stood ready—        165
And “If you please, Master Candidate,” said he,
  “Inform me who was St. Augustine?”
  Hieronimus answered with open mien:
“The only Augustine of whom I’ve any knowledge
Is the one I used to know at college,        170
  Augustine, the beadle of the university,
  Who often before the president cited me.”
The candidate Jobs this answer making,
There followed of heads a general shaking,
  And first the inspector said, “Hm, hm!”        175
  Then the others, secundum ordinem.
Now followed Herr Krisch at once, and requested
To know “Of how many parts a sermon consisted?
  In other words, how many divisions may there be,
  When it is written by rule?” said he.        180
Hieronimus, having taken a moment to determine,
Replied, “There are two parts to every sermon;
  The one of these two parts no man
  Can understand, but the other he can.”
The candidate Jobs this answer making,        185
There followed of heads a general shaking,
  And first the inspector said, “Hm, hm!”
  Then the others, secundum ordinem.
Herr Beff, the linguist, continued the examination,
And desired of Master Hieronimus information:        190
  “What the Hebrew Kibbutz might be?”
  Hieronimus’s answer was somewhat free:
“I find in a book to which I’ve paid attention,
Sophia’s tour from Memel to Saxony mention:
  That she to the surly Kibbutz fell,        195
  Because she refused the rich old swell.”
The candidate Jobs this answer making,
There followed of heads a general shaking,
  And first the inspector said, “Hm, hm!”
  Then the others, secundum ordinem.        200
Next in turn it came to Herr Schreier,
Who did of Hieronimus inquire,
  “How many classes of angels he
  Considered there might properly be?”
Hieronimus answered, “He never pretended        205
With all the angels to be acquainted,
  But there was one of them he knew
  On the Angel Tavern sign, painted blue.”
The candidate Jobs this answer making,
There followed of heads a general shaking,        210
  And first the inspector said, “Hm, hm!”
  Then the others, secundum ordinem.
Herr Plötz proceeded with the interrogation:
“Can you give, Sir Candidate, an enumeration
  Of the concilia æcumenica?”        215
  And Hieronimus answered, “Sir,
“When I at the university did study,
I was often cited before a body
  Called a council, but it never seemed to me
  To have anything to do with economy.”        220
The candidate Jobs this answer making,
There followed of heads a general shaking,
  And first the inspector said, “Hm, hm!”
  Then the others, secundum ordinem.
Then followed his spiritual lordship, Herr Keffer;        225
The question he started seemed somewhat tougher,
  It related “to the Manichean heresy,
  And what their faith was originally.”
Answer: “Yes, these simple devils
Did really think that without any cavils,        230
  Before my departure my debts I’d pay off,
  And in fact I did cudgel them soundly enough.”
The candidate Jobs this answer making,
There followed of heads a general shaking,
  And first the inspector said, “Hm, hm!”        235
  Then the others, secundum ordinem.
The remaining questions that received attention,
For want of room I omit to mention;
  For otherwise the protocol
  Would exceed seven sheets, if given in full.        240
For there were many questions, dogmatical,
Polemical, and hermeneutical,
  To which Hieronimus made reply
  In the manner above, successively.
And likewise many questions in philology,        245
And other sciences ending in ology,
  And whatever else to a clergyman may
  Be put on examination day.
When the candidate Jobs his answer was making,
There would follow of heads a general shaking,        250
  And first the inspector would say, “Hm, hm!”
  Then the others, secundum ordinem.
Now when the examination had expired,
Hieronimus by permission retired,
  That the case might be viewed on every side,        255
  And the council carefully decide
If conscience would advise the admission
Of Hieronimus to the position
  And class of candidates for the
  Holy Gospel ministry.        260
Immediately they proceeded to voting,
But very soon, without much disputing,
  The meeting was unanimous
  That, under the circumstances, Hieronimus
Would not persist in his application        265
As a candidate for ordination,
  But for special reasons they thought it best
  To let the matter quietly rest.
In fact, for years it was kept so private,
No stranger ever heard anything of it,        270
  But everybody, early and late,
  Held Hieronimus for a candidate.
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