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fered himself to be carried away by these sad reflections. “It is but to our perishing bodies, and to the name which they bear, that they will be strangers; for if they have served here indeed their father's God, they will be his friends and our friends, forever. Even now, with the eye of faith, we may see these graves opening, and multitudes issuing forth, who have served here the Lord in spirit and in truth. We may see them approaching the mercy-seat, and hear a mighty voice saying—"The Lord preserveth the stranger.” And many blessed spirits who have been near them during their short earthly course, are following in their heaven-bound path; and again the voice is heard, saying—"I was a stranger, and ye took
More edified by these reflections than by the English sermon, which in part had been unintelligible to him, the young stranger returned to his new home full of bright hopes and prospects, and with the intense desire of acting his part in realizing them.
THE AMERICAN GERMANS. *
Jeder, der in einer Sache den ersten Anfang macht, oder, nach dem sprüchwörtlichen Ausdruck, das Eis bricht, hat das unveräusserliche Recht einzelne Fehler zu begehen; d. i. kein billig Denkender wird ihm dergleichen hoch anrechnen. SCHLOETZER'S NESTOR.
Every man who makes a beginning in any matter, or, according to the proverbial expression, “ breaks the ice," has the inalienable right to commit some faults; that is, no fair-minded person will bring him to a too strict account.
You have probably, kind reader, asked occasionally to be admitted to the little circular aperture of some popular panorama, and with the assistance of the experienced interpreter, whose art, in Germany, is in particular demand at Christmas time, you have seen the most beautiful representations of cities and landscapes, so quickly passing your view that it was almost entirely out of your power to ascertain the truth of the descriptions you received from its enterprising proprietor. Indeed, the latter seemed to know his tale so well, that you might see him count the number of those who, at your right and left, were waiting for admission, without being at a loss even for a single
* A great portion of the matter contained in this chapter was laid before the American Institute of Instruction, at their last session, and some other passages have been taken from a Review written by the author, and published in the seventh volume of the Christian Spitator. The modifications which some of the views there expressed have undergone, are partly to be ascribed to the connection, in which they are now presented to the public.
word. How dissatisfied did you feel, when finally the little window was closed, and you found yourself almost incapable of recalling any of the diminutive panoramas which you had seen; and how readily would you have doubled the fee, in order to see it over again, if such indulgence had not interfered with the rights of your neighbors.
. It is with a similar feeling that I now look back upon the many and various views which America has presented to me; and if it were possible, I likewise would willingly go once more over the same ground, before I describe any part of it. There is one picture, however, which, like the paintings of the ancient masters, seems to have gained in distinctness and vividness in the course of time, and of which I shall now attempt to draw the most striking features.
Climate and habit combine, in Germany, to make social pedestrian excursions an agreeable and very general means of becoming acquainted with the country, with the people and with yourself, while in America, excessive heat and continual changes of weather, but particularly the influence of the political and mercantile element on the social character of the people, prevent them from enjoying, in any great degree, the physical and intellectual advantages which a walk of several hundred miles affords. It was by pedestrian excursions that Thales, Pythagoras, and all the sages of antiquity, gained new wisdom, and the apostles,
I doubt not, new strength and zeal for the holy work. It is likewise pedestrianism, I venture to add, and other hardening exercises, by which our modern sages and divines might be benefited, at least as far as their physical welfare is concerned, if they would practice them at an early period of their lives. There is a reviving power in the feeling with which you cast off for a time the regular and ever-returning cares which from day to day have fettered you down. The very recollection of it fills your breast with youthful vigor, and by arming you with new strength for the discharge of your duties, teaches you at the same time how to enjoy them.
It was on one of these extensive pedestrian excursions that I first became acquainted with the German settlements in the interior of Pennsylvania. They are called German because the land was originally occupied by German emigrants, and because those who now own it are descended from them, and are thought to retain the use of the German language, though in many parts of the interior a native of Germany will find it very difficult to recognise his mother-tongue. But a very small portion have carefully fostered those principles of religious and intellectual cultivation which they imbibed in their own country. The greater portion have not only been deprived of the light which their forefathers enjoyed, but have been likewise excluded
in a great measure from the influences which operate favorably on the religious, moral and intellectual state of the American people.
It is well known that the great mass of the first German settlers consisted of redemptioners, who fled from the oppression to which they had been subject in their native country. It is also known that by perseverance and industry, they succeeded in benefiting the country which had received them hospitably, and that they obtained a rich return from the produce of their agricultural labors. But it is far less known how little their religious and moral state corresponds to their physical wellbeing. The frequent and entire want of instruction, the necessity of gaining their livelihood by great and uninterrupted efforts, and the slow but certain reward which they obtained from the ground they cultivated, has been the cause that they seem to have become incapable of raising their eyes from that ground to Him who gave them both to will and to do according “to his good pleasure.” The situation of their ministers almost prevents their usefulness, when they have to attend to the spiritual wants of six or seven congregations; and attempts at extending to them other means of instruction have but too often met with decided opposition, and have sometimes excited the most unexpected and unaccountable suspicions. A very devoted and benevolent friend of mine, for instance,