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that many of them were scarcely able to read with fluency, and very few could write at all. A total want of method in teaching, and of elementary books, also raised additional hindrances to the learners. If shown the commencement of a chapter in the Bible, it is reported of them that they could seldom find the end of the preceding chapter, and that even the most accomplished of the masters found it difficult to collect the sense of what he was reading, and would allow the children to say Jesus for Je suis, canaille for canal, or to make other mistakes equally egregious, without being aware of the
Stouber's first step, therefore, was to procure some schoolmasters willing to perform, and competent to discharge, the duties of their station. This was no easy task, for the office had sunk into contempt, and the more respectable of the inhabitants regarding it as a disreputable trade, would on no account allow their sons to embrace it. The pastor's ingenuity, however, soon contrived to overcome this difficulty. He changed the name of the office, and the objection no longer existed. "Well then," said he, "let us have no schoolmasters, since that would not become people of your situation in life; but allow me to select the most promising of your
young men, and to make them superintendents (Messieurs les régents) of the schools." To this proposition they readily acceded. His next business was to arrange a regular alphabet, and draw up a series of spelling and reading lessons for their use, which were printed at the expense of a benevolent individual of Strasbourg, who also presented Stouber with a thousand florins (nearly four hundred dollars), that he might encourage those schoolmasters whose pupils made the most rapid progress, by giving them the interest of it annually, in addition to their salaries, which were necessarily very small.
The next want to be supplied was that of a school-house, and for this purpose Stouber begged that the necessary timber might be gratuitously furnished from the surrounding forests, a privilege which the inhabitants of the Steinthal generally had in their power to bestow. The following anecdote shows the persevering character of this remarkable man. In the bad state of the woods at this period the Abbé de Regemorte (royal Prætor of Strasbourg) found an excuse for refusing the humble request for wood to build a school-house." But your Excellency," said Stouber, after having for a long time solicited in vain, "your Excellency will allow me to make a private collection among charita
ble individuals towards the erection of our new building?' This request was immediately granted. "Well then," continued the pastor, presenting his hat, "you are, please your Excellency, known as a charitable person, and I will make the beginning with you.' On hearing these words the Prætor quickly forgot all the objections he had just been adducing, and gave him liberty to cut down as much wood as he pleased, under the express condition that he should dine with him every time he visited Strasbourg.
Having thus happily succeeded in procuring materials, a small building, or rather a log hut, was constructed under Stouber's direction and superintendence: but as he had found obstacles in the worldliness of the governor, so now he had to contend with the ignorance and prejudices of the people. They still opposed themselves to his benevolent efforts; for as schoolmasters had always hitherto been hired, like laborers, at the lowest price, the cheapest were regarded as the best, and the peasants began to fear that if an increase of knowledge were required from their candidate, there would be a proportionate increase of expense. Nor was this all; for on seeing the unconnected syllables which were proposed as lessons for the scholars, they were
at a loss to comprehend their meaning, and for a long time opposed their introduction from the idea of some concealed heresy or divination.
On perceiving, however, in the course of a few months, that by means of the new spellingbook little children were enabled to read any book that was put into their hands, their elder brothers and sisters, and even the parents themselves, astonished at the rapid progress they were making, and ashamed to remain behind, came forward, and begged to be instructed also. A system of regular instruction for adults, during part of the Sunday and the long evenings of winter, was consequently established, in addition to the schools.
Another great object of Stouber's solicitude was to disseminate and make known the Holy Scriptures, as soon as he considered the people prepared for their reception. Hitherto they had only heard of the Bible as a large book that contained the word of God: and when their pastor, in order to circulate the Scriptures as widely as possible, divided each of fifty French Protestant Bibles, he had procured from Basle, into three parts, and bound these portions in strong parchment, to enable him to make a more general distribution, he had some difficulty in convincing his parishioners that these
thin volumes would answer the same purpose as the large book which they had been accustomed to see, and that they were equally the Word of God; still more to give them an idea of what was meant by the Old and New Testament, or a book, chapter, or verse. They were not aware that the preceding minister had been in the habit of adhering to any particular text in his sermons; this, however, is not surprising, as he himself had not possessed a Bible for upwards of twenty years. No sooner, however, had Stouber placed these Bibles in the schools, with permission to the pupils to carry them home, than the Scriptures began to be read in their different families. Some of them even found their way to the Roman Catholic villages in the vicinity. The priests, it is true, strictly forbade their perusal, but this prohibition only served, in many instances, as an additional stimulus to the inquirer after truth. The people secretly procured them for themselves, and sometimes, considering their poverty, at a very high price. I might, indeed, mention many anecdotes of the eager delight with which this new and precious privilege was embraced, but it is sufficient to say that the desire of possessing it continually increased, and that the diffusion of Scriptural instruction, both in the Ban de la