Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

will go through the Ispravnik's hands, and that he will follow no occupation except shoemaking, carpentering, or field-labor. He is then told be is free! —but at the same time is solemnly warned that should he attempt to pass the limits of the town he shall be shot down like a dog rather than be allowed to escape, and should he be taken alive shall be sent off to Eastern Siberia without further formality than that of the Ispravnik's order.

The poor fellow takes up his little bundle, and fully realizing that he has now bidden farewell to the culture and material comfort of his past life, he walks out into the cheerless street A group of exiles all pale and emaciated, are there to greet him, take him to some of their miserable lodgings, and feverishly demand news from home. The new-comer gazes on them as one in a dream; some are meltincholy mad, others nervously irritable, aud the remainder have evidently tried to find solace in drink. They live in communities of twos and threes, have food, a scanty provision of clothes', money, and books in common, and consider it their sacred duty to help each other in every emergency, without distinction of sex, rank or age. The noble by birth get sixteen shillings a month from the Government for their maintenance, and commoners only ten, although many of them are married, and sent into exile with young families. Daily a gendarme visits their lodgings, inspects the premises when and how he'pleases, and now and then makes some mysterious entry in his note-book. Should any of their number cirry a warm dinner, a pair of newly mended boots, or a change of linen to some passing exile lodged for a moment in a police ward, it is just as likely as not marked against him as a crime. It is a crime to come and see a friend off, or accompany him on his way. * In fact, should the Ispravnik feel out of sorts—the effect of cards or drink—he vents out his bad temper on the exiles; and as cards and drink are the favorite amusements in these' dreary regions, crimes are marked down against the exiles in astonishing numbers, and a report of them sent regularly to the Governor of the Province.

Winter lasts eight months, a period

during which the surrounding country presents the appearance of a noiseless, lifeless, frozen marsh—no roads, no communication with the other world, no means of escape. In course of time almost every individual exile is attacked by nervous convulsions, followed by prolonged apathy and prostration. They begin to quarrel, and even hate each other. Some of them contrive to forge false passports, and by a miracle, as it were, make their escape, but the great majority of these victims of the Third Section either go mad, commit suicide, or die of delirium tremens. Their history, when the time comes for it to be studied and published, will disclose a terrible tale of human suffering and administerial evils and shortcomings, not likely to find their equivalent in the contemporary history of any other European Siate.—London Standard.

German Hymn Writers.

BY THE EDITOR.

Some of our readers have read and admired Longfellow's beautiful translation of '' Annie of Tharaw." How touching and true are the following lines:

"How in the turmoil of life can love stand, Where there is not one heart, and one mouth, and one hand?

Some seek for dissension, and trouble, and strife;

Like a dog and a cat live such man and wife.

Annie of Tharaw, such is not our love. • Thou art my lambkin, my chick, and my dove.

Whate'er my desire is, in thine may be seen; I am»King of the household,—thou art its queen.

It is this, Gray Annie, my heart's sweetest rest, That makes of us twain but one soul in one breast.

This turns to a heaven the hut where we dwell;

While wrangling soon changes a home to a hell.'

Simon Dach wrote this poem. It was inspired by the daughter of a neighboring clergyman, whom the youug poet was courting at the time. He was for years professor of poetry in the UniI versity of Konigsberg, Prussia. Dach, too, had to pass through the terrorstricken period of war, pestilence and famine. He spent years amid scenes of slaughter and death. The many religious hymns which he wrote are tinged with the sad spirit of the times, but are full of faith and the deepest devotion.

One of the first prayers of my childhood were a few verses of a German hymn. For, my now sainted mother, especially in her devotions, preferred the use of the German language. And thus it happened that my first evening prayer was;

'' Ach bleib' bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ,
Weil es nun Abend worden ist."

"Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide,
For round us falls the evening tide;
Nor let Thy Word, our glorious light,
For us be ever quenched in night.

In these dark days that yet remain
May we Thy sacraments maintain,
And keep Thy word still true and pure,
And steadfast in the faith endure I"

The little prayer calls to mind the gentle patience with which the dear mother first helped me to memorize it. The spot where stood the old rush-bottomed chair on which she sat as I stood bv her side learning this pious lesson. The little room with all its belongings. The bed in the corner. The solemn tender tones of her voice; the conscientiousness and sincerity with which it was prayed; the repeated worrying effor's made to keep awake till the amen had been said; all these sacred reminiscences are called to mind by these lines. How, after it was prayed, I felt absolutely sure that the kind and merciful Father would keep me from harm, that night and forever! How the loving "good night" of this guardian angel of my childhood was hallowed by this little prayer, I now well remember. For aught I then knew she herself wrote the prayer, never dreaming that Nicholas Selnecker had written it more than 200 years before. He was born in Nuremberg, the home of Hans Sachs and Albrecht Diirer. Like David of old, he was a boy with a beautiful face; «o attractive indeed that Ferdinand, King of Rome, tried to kidnap and take him to Spain. Then he narrowly escaped death at the hands of a highway robber. He became a ripe scholar

whose services for a while were in great demand. From his cordial intercourse with Melanchthon he became charitable in his views, gave offence both to the ultra Lutherans and to the extreme Calvinists or Reformed. Seven times he was driven from Saxony and seven times entreated to return. He served in turn as pastor in Wildesheira, Court preacher at Dresden and Wolfenbiittel, and was professor at the Universities of Jena and Leipsich. He was a man of gentle spirit, yet firm and decided in his views. He suffered much for conscience' sake, which gave to some of his hymns the dreary spirit of his personal sadness. In 1592 he died at the age of 62 years. He had for his motto: "God knows us." And for his daily prayer he had composed the following lines:

(''Lass mich Dein sein und bleiben.")

•'Let me be Thine forever,
Thou faithful God and Lord,

Ffom Thee let naught me sever,
Preserve me in Thy word."

Selnecker belonged to the class of hymn writers who "learn in suffering what they teach in song." Quite a number of very good hymns in common use, found in all the best German Hymn books, were written by Christian Fiirchtegott Gellert. Those of our readers who are familiar with the religious services of our German Churches will gratefully recognize such hymns as:

"Wie gross ist des All miicht'gen Gtite!" "Diess ist der Tag den Gott gemacht!' "Jesus lebt, mit-ihm auch ich I"

These and many others were written by him. Gellert was born July 4th, 1715. His father served more than fifty years as pastor in a mountain village of Saxony, where he was the shepherd of a population of humble miners. The rickety parsonage had to be kept on its unstable foundation with 15 props. Thus like the people of Amsterdam, he was perched on tree tops. This gave the. son a subject for his first poem. When but a youth he wrote this on his father's birthday, in which he compared the 15 props of the ptirsonage to the children and grand-children of the good man, of whom there happened to be just fifteen. When only fifteen years of age he was, for certain reasons, called on to deliver an address at the burial of a child, where he bad the misfortune to stick, whether from want of matter or memory I do not know. The shock of this failure followed him through life. In due time he studied theology at Leipsich. With timid fear and with almost a trembling heart, he preached his first sermon in the church of his native village. His timiditv, treacherous memory and weak lungs diverted him from the pulpit to a University chair. The University of Leipsich appointed him as professor of poetry and eloquence at a salary of 100 Thalers. He soon won many grateful admirers. His simple Fables and Comedies so touched the heart of a plain farmer, that his gratitude prompted him to pile a wagon load of wood before the poet's door, just at a time, too, when he mott needed it. Perhaps Prince Henry of Prussia thought the professor's delicate health could be improved by horseback riding, for he presented him with a fine gray horfe.

With moved heart a Prussian officer said to him: "Through your writings you have benefited my heart; this blessing I would not exchange for the whole world," and therewith the grateful warrior pressed a paper enclosing one hundred Thalers into Gellert's hand. His writings attracted the attention of the learned of all Europe. Frederick, the Great, admired his scholarship greatly, paid him a visit, and vainly tried to gain him for Berlin. Goethe was a student under Gellert, and in his Autobiography, or Wahrheit und Dichtung, says:

"The reverence and love with which Gellert was regarded by all young people was extraordinary. I had already visited him, and was received by him in a friendly manner. Not of a large frame, slender without being lank, soft and rather pensive eyes, a very fine forehead, not too much of a Roman nose, a delicale mouth, a face of an agreeable oval, all made his presence pleasing and desirable. It cost some trouble to reach him. His two Famuli (servants) appeared like priests who keep guard over a sanctuary, the access to which was not permitted to everybody, nor at every time; and such a precaution was very necessary; for he would have sacrificed his whole time, had he been willing to receive and satisfy all those who wished to become more intimate with him."

He watched over the students with fatherly tenderness, and did his utmost

to check their youthful excesses and to imbue their hearts with a spirit of piety. Continuous ill-heath mingled his cup with gloom and sadness. At a time when Europe was prevailingly infidel and atheistic, Gellert was openly pious, for which he incurred ridicule. He would never write a letter nor answer a message on Sunday, no matter how pressing the circumstances. He wrote 54 spiritual odes and hymns within a period of eleven days. During the writing of them he unceasingly prayed to God for help. Trusting solely in the merits of Jesus Christ, he died in 1709, in his fifty-fifth year.

The Moravian Church has from its start been noted for its love and practice of music. Count Zinzendurf, its apostle, is said to have written more than two thousand hymns. But a small proportion of these have passed into general use. Among them are some of the best in the language. Indeed I know of no better uninspired hymn, breathing more of a devotional and truly worshipping spirit, in any language than Zinzendorf's:

"Tesu geh voran
Auf der Lebens Bahn."

"Jesus, day by day

Lead us on life's way:
Naught of dangers will we reckon,
Simply haste where Thou dost beckon;

Lead us by the hand

To our Fatherland.

"Thus our path shall be

Daily traced by Thee;
Draw Thou nearer when 'tis rougher,
Help us most when most we suffer,

And when all is o'er

Ope to us Thy door."

The Moravians, like the Methodists, have always had much singing in their public and private devotions. In their earlier European history they were, for this reason, called "The Singers" (" die Singisten.") They count among their number some eight or ten hymn writers of well-known reputation. Spangeuberg, "the Melanchthon of the Moravian Church," Albertini, whose hymns the great German philosopher Schleiermacher asked to have rpad to, him on his death-bed, and the Zinzendorfs, father and son, are among the best of this class. Chief among these is the nobleman who was instrumental in the reviving of the old Church of Moravia.

Zinzendorf belonged to an old Austrian noble family, but when he was converted he said: "I will no longer be a Count, but a Christian." Left fatherless in his childhood, a pious grandmother and an aunt took charge of his training. Faithfully and well did they perform their solemn mission. His mother was a fashionable lady, and not very religious, who married a second time. Some writers consider it a fortunate providence for Zinzendorf that his grandmother, and not his mother, had charge of his early education. At ten years of age he became a student at Halle; at sixteen he en'ered the University of Wittenberg. Unlike the most German students he strove to lead a religious life. He strictly observed Sundays as days of fasling and prayer; indeed often spent whole nights in prayer. He began the study of law, but his pious longings also led him to study Theology, chit fly for his own comfort.

In 1719, at nineteen years of age, according to the custom for young people of his clas', he was sent a traveling to complete his education. Whilst such persons then mostly traveled for pleasure, through which they lost what Httle piety they possessed, this young nobleman sought light and peace for his soul on his journeys. Passing through Diisseldorf ou the Rhine, he visited the famous Gallery of Art in this city. Among other paintings he saw an Eece homo—representing Christ's cruel trial before Pilate, when the latter pointing to our Saviour said to the ferocious Jews: "Behold the man." Underneath the picture was the inscription: "All this I have done for thee, what doest thou for me?" Zinzendorf had been a pious man before, but this brief sermon gave him new light, and moved his heart to its inmost depths. He resolved henceforth to live wholly for Christ. In Holland he got a clearer insight into the emptiness and vanity of earthly pomp and show. A certain writer says that one of the great blessings of Zinzendorf's visit to Holland was that he here first learned to know men of the Reformed Church, after their pious hearts. He attended lec

tures at Utrecht, visited Paris; made the acquaintance of Cardinal Noailles, an eminent prelate of the Catholic Church, who although he failed to pervert the young Count to another faith, yet learned to esteem him highly. After being introduced to the Court of France, he visited his uncle, fell in love with his cousin, which affair led to the romantic heart-rendings common in premature and hasty engagements. Neither were to blame, and all was overruled for good. He introduced a young friend to his cousin whom she afterwards married, and Zinzendorf found his predestined help-meet elsewhere.

Ci'Unt Zinzendorf had a castle and extensive lauds about 57 miles from Dresden. About that time a colony of fugitive emigrants were driven from Moravia whom he offered a home on his estate. Their character and condition deeply enlisted his interest. In 1722, Christ'an David, one of these colonists, felled the first tree and began to build the first house here. Many of his brethren followed his example. In 1727 Zinzendorf resigned an office he held under the Government, and moved among the colonists. The group of homes built around that of David was called Herrnhut. It is about a mile from the castle of Bethelsdorf, where Count Zinzendorf made his home. This is the mother colony of the modern Moravian Church, the centre of its great missionary operations throughout the world.

Thereafter Zinzendorf devoted himself wholly to the cause of religion. He visited America twice. While here he wrought with ceaseless effort to spread the Gospel. He spent months among the wild Indians, shared with them the discomforts of their uncivilized habits and preached to them through an interpreter. The following is told of one of these visits: Zinzenilorf encamped several days with a few Moravian brethren among the Shawnees, a very depraved and cruel tribe. Conrad Weiser, who had come with him, left him for a short time alone with the Indains. The latter thought the white men had come to trade or buy land, and would not believe the denial of this opinion. During his absence, Conrad Weiser, for some unaccountable reason felt very uneasy. Something urged him to return at once. On his arrival he learned that the Indians had conspired to murder the white visitors. By his prudent intervention the foul de*d was prevented. Unconscious of danger Zinzendorf had nightly retired to his tent, prayed for the poor savages and slept sweetly under the shadow of the Almighty. At sixty years of age this good man entered into rest, and to this day his works do f »llow him. Thus endeth our story of some of the German Hymn writers. But the life and power of song endeth not. On the wings of their rhythmic words the prayers and praise of millions are still borne to heaven. And so shall they continue to do until the battle songs of the Church militant shall be changed into the anthems of peace and glory of the Church triumphant.

The Courtship of John Knox.

John Knox, before the light of the Reformation broke, traveled among several honest families in the weft of Scotland, who were converts to the Protestant religion. Particularly he visited oft Steward L rd Ochiltree's family, preaching the Gospel privately to those who were willing to receive it. The lady and some of the family were converts. Her ladyship had a chamber, table, stool and candlestick for the prophet, and one night about supptr said to him:

"Mr. Knox, I think you are at a loss by want of a wife 1"

To which he said, " Madame, I think nobody will take such a wanderer as I."

To which she replied, " Sir, if that be your objection, I'll make inquiry to find an answer against our next meeting."

The lady accordingly addressed herself to her eldest daughter, telling her she might be very happy if she could marry Mr. Knox, who would be a great reformer and a credit to the church; but she despised the proposal, hoping her ladyship wished her better than to marry a poor wanderer. Then the lady addressed her second daughter, who answered as the eldtst. Then the lady

spoke to her third daughter, about nineteen years of age, who very faintly said, "Madame, I'll be very willing to marry him, but I fear he'll not take me."

To which the lady replied, " If that be all your objection, I'll soon get you an answer."

Next night at supper the lady said, "Sir, I have been considering upon a wife for you, and find one very willing."

To which Knox inquired: "Who is it, Madame?"

She answered, " My young daughter, sitting by your side at the table."

Then,addressing himself to the young lady, he said, " My bird, are you willing lo marry me?"

She answered, "Yes, sir ; only I fear you will not be willing to take me."

He said, '• My bird, if you be willing to take me, you must take your venture of God's providence as I do. I go through the country sometimes on my foot, with a wallet on my arm and a Bible in it. You may put some things in for yourself, and if I bid yyu take the wallet you must do it, and go where I go, and lodge where I lodge."

"Sir," she said, " I'll do all this."

"Will you be as good as your word f"

"Yes, I will."

Upon which the marriage was concluded. She went with him to Geneva. And as he was ascending a hill, she got up to the top of it before him and took the wallet on her arm, aud sitting down said, "Now, good man, am not I as good as my word ?'—Christian Intelligencer.

A Beautiful Incident.

A man blind from birth, a man of much intellectual vigor and with many engaging social qualities, found a woman who, appreciating his worth, was willing to cast in her lot with him and become his wife. Several bright, beautiful children became theirs, who tenderly and equally loved both their parents.

An eminent French surgeon while in this country called upon them, and exr amining the blind man with much interest and care, said to him:

"Your blindness is wholly artificial; your eyes are naturally good, and could

« AnteriorContinuar »