Saturday, July 30, 2011

Two Stories by Johann Peter Hebel

A Shave as an Act of Charity

A poor man with a black beard came into a barber’s shop and asked, for the love of God, not for a piece of bread, but a shave: would the barber kindly take off his beard so that he looked like a decent Christian again? The barber picked up his worst razor, thinking, ‘Why should I blunt a good one when he’s paying less than nothing?’ While he was scraping and hacking away at the poor wretch, who couldn’t complain since the bad job was being done for nothing, the dog started howling in the yard outside. ‘What’s up with Rover,’ said the barber. ‘to make whine and howl like that?’ ‘I don’t know,’ said Mike. ‘Don’t ask me,’ sad Johnny. But the poor devil under the razor said, “ He must be being shaved for the love of God too, like me.’

Well Spoken, Badly Behaved

A farmer on a nobleman’s estate met the schoolmaster in the fields. ‘Schoolmaster, do you still stand by what you were telling the schoolchildren yesterday: “Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also”? The schoolmaster said, ‘I can’t change a word of it! It’s written in the gospel!’ So the farmer boxed his ears, both of them, for he had a long-standing grudge against him.

Meanwhile the nobleman was riding by a little way off with his gamekeeper. ‘Go and see what those two are up to over there, Joseph!’ And as Joseph came up, the schoolmaster, who was a sturdy fellow, boxed the farmer’s ears twice too, saying ‘It is also written: “With the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. Good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give unto your bosom”!’ And with that text he gave him another half dozen good blows to the side of his head. Joseph went back to his master and said, ‘There’s nothing to worry about, sir, they’re only discussing Holy Scripture among themselves!’

Remember: You must not try to argue about Holy Scripture if you don’t understand it, least of all the way they did. For that same night the nobleman had the farmer locked up for a week; and the schoolmaster, who should have had more sense and more respect for the Bible, was sent packing when school closed in the spring.

The Treasure Chest ( Schatzkastlein des rheinischen Hausfreundes, 1811) by Johann Peter Hebel (1760-1826); translated from the German by John Hibberd, Penguin Books, 1994.


  1. “A Strange Walk and Ride”

    A man was riding home on his donkey, with his son walking alongside on foot. A passer-by came up and said, ‘That’s not right, you shouldn’t be riding and making your son walk! Your legs are stronger than his!’ Sop he got down from the donkey and let his son ride. Now another passer-by came up and said, “ that’s not right, young fellow, you shouldn’t be riding and making your father walk! Your legs are younger than his!’ So they both sat on the donkey and rode on a little way. Now a third passer-by came up and said ‘What nonsense is this? Two men on a frail animal! I’ve a good mind to take a stick to you both and knock you off its back!’ So the two of them got down, and all three of them went on foot, father and son to right and left, the donkey in the middle. Now a fourth passerby came up and said, ‘A queer threesome you make! Must you all tire yourselves out walking? Surely it’s easier if one of you saves his legs?’ So the father tied the donkey’s two front legs together and the son tied its back legs and the found a strong branch by the roadside and carried the donkey home slung between their shoulders.

    That’s what can happen if you try to please everybody!

  2. Please for humanity's sake please do it once
    I have made a blog at Since i have added a google adsense in the blog but haven't made a penny with this. I need your help and support to help me make some money to PAY MY Tuition Fees.

    What you have to do is follow these simple steps

    1.go to and search "Kwotz-Golden Words of Life"
    2.then visit my blog from the the search results.
    3.Remain on the page i.e Kwotz for one minute or so and do some random surfing
    4. click ONE of the ads that appeals to you from AdChoices and visit there.
    5.remain on that page for one minute or so and do some random surfing.
    and that's it.

    Note: You must visit my blog through Google. Only ONE click is needed and nothing else
    I will be very grateful to you.

  3. Majid Ali: O.K. I did what you suggested but you have discovered a poor way to pay for your tuition, perhaps you should try to get a real job and not try to make money quoting other people's words and believe me when I say there wasn't one google ad on your site which inspired me to make a purchase of even sign up for 'free' info.