Gervinus has so well compared the poet, with his playful fancy and flow of rhyme, half-thoughtful, half-gay, leaving us often in doubt whether head or heart had most to do with the impression he produces; for it is not so much the song, perhaps, as the saying in it that touches us. If one may use such a phrase, Rückert's best things are musical epigrams.

The romantic re-action, of which we have said that Rückert was the most brilliant illustration, ended long before his death. With him and Leopold Schefer the wisdom of the Brahmins died away. The generation now upon the stage is too restless and too excited for the peaceful worship of nature. And one cannot fail to be struck by the fact, that as in his youth Rückert had gone with his age from patriotism to philosophy, so in his last days he went back with his age from contemplation to action. Summoned by an assembly of the people to revive once more the national spirit in the Schleswig-Holstein war, the weary bard grasped yet more firmly the lyre he had held so long, and ended, as he began, with a war-song. And presently the last string snapped in his motionless hand, and the long-haired troubadour was at rest for ever.


Six Months among the Charities of Europe. By JouN DE LIEFDE.

Two vols. London : Alexander Strahan. 1865.

MR. LIEFDE, of Holland, being in London in the autumn of 1862, was induced by Mr. Strahan to visit, in the two following years, twenty-six of the chief Protestant charitable institutions of the Continent. Of these he selects fifteen, as the most poteworthy, for his volumes. He closes his own humble and brief Introduction to the work with expressing the fear, that his book will not be found a model of good English. His first lessons in that tongue were from the Bible ; and few of his readers, we think, will find fault with his somewhat quaint simplicity of speech. In noticing a work so remarkable and instructive,-a work whose value consists in its details even more than in its general plan, - we shall content ourselves with citing, at some length, two of his examples; hoping that they will move the interest of our readers, not only in the matter they illustrate, but in the volumes where they are contained. The two which we select are — the Establishment for Indigent Children at Neuhof, near Strasburg; and the Asylum for Poor, Neglected Children at Düsselthal, near Düsseldorf, in Rhenish Prussia.

Neuhof is a wretched village. A broad gateway leads from its filthy streets to a spacious farm-yard and large building, with the words, Soli DEO GLORIA (“To God alone the glory") over its door. The premises and the buildings are the monument of Philip Jacob Wurtz, who founded them at the age of eighty,—a poor carpenter, past labor, and at the close of a life of privation and trials. He was born in 1745, and left an orphan in 1750. His mother supported herself and son by her needle or at the wash-tub. Schooling was then in its infancy. Writing, reading, and a little arithmetic, were all that it attempted. German was the common tongue. French, equally necessary, was taught by private, itinerant teachers, who went to their pupils by night, lantern in hand, and were known as “the lantern preceptors.” The mother of Wurtz was too poor to hire one of them; and her poor boy, French by birth, lived all his days, in his native land, unable to read or speak the language. At the age of fourteen, he was apprenticed; and in six years commenced his journeyman's tour, according to the custom of the country. His mother was blind, and it was a sore trial to leave her; but the law was imperative that he must thus travel from place to place for six years, before he could work at his trade at home. He went in grief, bearing his Bible with him. That and his mother's love saved him from all harm and sin. At the end of nine years, he returned,- honest, chaste, and sober. He had seen the world in its true colors, and he never lost the lesson. Childhood without God he felt to be most perilous. He always was full of sympathy and compassion for poor and neglected children. He knew not how to begin to labor for their good; for the day of home-missions, ragged-schools, and such things, had not dawned. Still he must save souls somehow from ruin. He opened his small home, for poor lads and mechanics, on Sunday evenings. Many a young man was brought into the true fold. Little did busy, crowded Stras. burg know of the light that was shining for the rescue and cheer of hundreds, year after year, in one of its dark, back streets !

In 1791, at the age of forty-six, Philip commenced business in his own name. He was soon known for his honesty and faithfulness. When making out a bill for work, he always knelt down, and prayed to be delivered from the temptation of charging too much. Yet he was extremely poor. God smiled upon him, however, and that was enough. After a fortunate married life of thirty-two years, he lost his wife in 1824. They had no children; and, at the age of fourscore, Wurtz was alone again. He could not carry his little property to another world; and the question arose, “What shall I do with it?” His heavenly Master soon solved the problem. He heard of a company of Christian friends who met to discuss the alarming and deplorable condition of destitute, neglected children, – the victims of recent wars. A school and asylum was proposed. Philip, prevented by his great age from going out, invited a meeting at his rooms. Upon entering the humble place, they supposed they were summoned to aid this poor, decrepit creature, -as he seemed. He soon relieved their doubts, by offering to give them 4,000 francs, and open his shop for their use. The latter had been empty, and awaiting a tenant for six months in vain. "The Lord needs it, and he shall have it," was his conclusion. A high rent was offered the next day to no purpose. “It is let,” said he. It was soon converted into a school-room, and opened with twelve children, evidently enough in want of it. Among them sat Father Wurtz, singing, praying, reading the Bible, telling them of the great Friend of children, and doing what he could for body, mind, heart, and soul. All was light, easy, and winsome. If one day the little learners mastered the sum

of twelve from twelve and no remainder, at the supper-table, the proof was ready, in a dozen slices of bread and butter for a dozen hungry mouths, with nothing left in the plate. The good news spread; and every breast was touched with sympathy and admiration. The foundation was secured for a Protestant establishment for indigent children. A house, garden, farm, &c., were obtained at Neuhof. A good married couple were found for the head of the family of sixteen children, with whom they began. Philip followed them to their new abode, as a hen walks after her chickens. He made haste, in his declining days, to complete all his charitable promises and plans, "since life is like a tent pitched on the ice: an hour's heat may melt it, and you are gone." For three years longer, he enjoyed the sight of the good work to which his means were promptly and entirely devoted. His daily example of cheerful, consistent piety was a richer contribution to the establishment than even all his money.

In six months, there were twenty-four children. Eighty were offered before the end of the year; for most of whom there was no room. More money poured in. Wurtz bad invested all his remaining property. A circular was tried with good effect; and, in 1827, the new asylum was erected.

In 1828, Wurtz died. His last word was, Gottlob ! (Praise God!) His body rests in the garden, with a plain monument to his memory, as the chief founder of the estab-lishment. On one side are his own words, “This earthly good is not my property: it is a talent which the Lord hag lent me, and which I must return to him with usury. I will return it to him, by giving it to the least of these his brethren." On another are the words of the Lord, “ Well done, good and faithful servant!" and, on the last, the grateful feeling of the children, “Lord, thou hast saved my soul from death, and my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the land of the living.” The tomb and the scene around it teach a beautiful lesson. Behold, what a simple, plain, aged, and comparatively poor carpenter may do ! How like the carpenter of Nazareth he was! Four hundred

lost children have been restored to society by this humble follower of the Saviour.

The institution, in 1863, pursues six objects: 1. To rescue orphan or neglected and abandoned children from sin and misery ; 2. To train them in the gospel and for a Christian life; 3. To give them good, elementary learning; 4. To prepare them for trades or domestic service; 5. To watch over them after they leave; 6. By all these means to make them good and useful members of the community.

A committee of ten is established for direction and oversight. Children are admitted from six to twelve years of age. A few pay a low board, when their friends are able: the larger part come free.

Government recognizes the establishment as a public charity or utility. Two hundred and thirty associations of France contribute to its support, each doing a little. Both boys and girls are welcome to the house. The law enjoins instruction in French. The religious lessons and the daily conversation, however, are always in German, as that is their native speech, and goes more home to the children's hearts. Strict discipline is maintained, with great cheerfulness: very slight punishments are applied. Love, rather than fear, is depended upon, with a steady hand and a gentle tone. The majority turn out well, often admirably so. All the usual -festivals of the times and country are duly observed. The Philip-Jacob Day is peculiar to themselves, in memory of their noble founder. The inmates enjoy a most happy life. Of four hundred and twenty graduates, the greater number are known to have become better. In 1863, the pupils numbered eighty-three, — fifty-nine boys and twenty-four girls: twenty-six boys and five girls, besides, were supported outside by the institution. Four hundred and eighty-six were enrolled from 1825 to 1863. The estate contains forty-nine acres, and fifty more are hired. The whole is well stocked and cultivated. The total expenses for 1863 were 57,051 francs, 50 centimes. Each pupil costs about sixty dollars per annum: ninety acres are not enough for the family, and provisions are obliged to be bought. The establishment, like

« ElőzőTovább »