« ElőzőTovább »
or the distressed, presented itself to his notice. I shall mention some more anecdotes of a similar'description, because it is interesting to trace the germ of those dispositions, which, when ripened into maturity, brought forth such remarkable fruits.
As he was one day crossing the market-place, when his little box of savings was nearly full, he saw some rude boys knock down a basket of eggs, which a country-woman was carrying upon her head. The woman was in great trouble, when Frederic not only rebuked the boys with much spirit, but ran home, fetched his box, and presented her with all its contents. Another day, he was passing in Strasbourg market, by the stall of an old clothes’ vender. A A poor infirm woman was endeavouring, without success, to procure an abatement in the price of some article she appeared to be particularly desirous of purchasing. She wanted two sous to complete the sum demanded, and was on the point of leaving the stall from her inability to give them: Frederic, pretending to be engaged with something else, only waited for her retiring, when he slipped the two sous into the dealer's hand, and whispered him to call back the poor woman and let her have the gown ; and then, without stopping for her thanks, instantly ran away.
He at another time saw a parish officer illusing an invalid beggar in the street; and following the impulse of the moment, totally regardless of consequences, he placed himself in a spirited manner between what he thought the oppressor and the oppressed, reproving the former in strong terms for his inhumanity. The officer, indignant at such an interruption, wished to arrest the little fellow; but the neighbours, who knew and loved the boy, came running out of their shops to his assistance, and compelled the man to desist. A few days afterwards he happened to be walking in a narrow lane, when he saw the same person at a distance.
66 Shall I run away ?.” thought he to himself. “No: God is with me.
I relieved the poor man, and why should I fear?” With these reflections he proceeded on his way; and the officer, smiling at him, allowed him to pass unmolested.
This early horror of injustice and oppression was implanted by his parents, whose wise instructions and virtuous example were, in his case, crowned with the most gratifying success. To his pious and highly accomplished mother he often acknowledged himself indebted for his love of "things that are excellent," and for the desire that he subsequently felt of dedicating his talents and his powers to the good of others.
She was indeed a truly admirable woman, and conscientiously endeavoured to bring up her children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." She was in the habit of assembling them together every evening, and of reading aloud some instructive book, whilst they sat around the table copying pictures, which their father had drawn for them; and scarcely a night passed but, when on the point of separating, there was a general request for "one beautiful hymn from dear mamma,” with which she always complied. The hymn was followed by a prayer;, and thus their infant steps were conducted to Him, who has said, “Suffer little children to come unto me.”
About this time, by way of relaxation, their father used to take them every Thursday evening, at least during the summer months, to his family estate at Schiltigheim; and on arriving there, he would fasten an old drum to his waist, place his seven blooming boys in a line, and precede them in the capacity of a drummer, making them face to right and left, and go through all the military evolutions. The extreme delight which little Frederic took in this exercise probably induced his early partiality for the military profession, for, whilst quite a lad, he would mingle with the soldiers and march with them; and
having attracted the attention of the officers by the display of his knowledge respecting sieges and battles, he obtained permission to join them in their exercises. His father, however, having destined him to a learned profession, at length interfered, telling the young soldier it was time to renounce this child's play for study and serious labor. Frederic was of an ardent and lively temperament; but he readily coincided in his father's views, and devoted himself with the same enthusiasm to his literary pursuits, resolving to tread in the steps of his elder brother, the celebrated scholar of the same name, who was at this period pursuing his philological studies in the academy at Strasbourg.* By industry and application, he soon regained the time he had lost; though, indeed, his military exercises, having had the happy effect of strengthening and hardening his bodily frame, formed an important part of his preparation for the fatigues of the service which awaited him in the remarkable and arduous course which he was destined to follow.
* Jeremiah James Oberlin, a learned antiquary and laborious philologist. He wrote “Un Essai sur le Patois Lorrain des Environs du Comté du Ban de la Roche, 1775, petit in 8vo.,” which contains some very curious notes upon ancient French, and in which he endeavours to prove that the patois is a corruption of the Latin language.
The circumstances that induced him to resolve upon devoting himself to the ministry of the Gospel, are not known; but it appears from various memoranda found amongst his papers after his decease, that he was, from his very infancy, the subject not merely of pious convictions, but of holy affections towards his heavenly Father. “During my infancy and my youth,” he says, “God often vouchsafed to touch my heart, and to draw me to himself. He bore with me in my repeated backslidings, with a kindness and indulgence hardly to be expressed:” Even at a very early age his frequent prayer was, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth. O God, teach me to do thy will.”
About this time, Dr. Lorentz excited a great sensation in Strasbourg, by the ardent zeal with which he preached a crucified Saviour. Frederic's mother, attracted by the general report, went to hear him, and was so much struck with the powerful manner in which he set forth the grand doctrines of redemption and remission of sin, that she entreated her favorite son to accompany her on the following Sunday. Being a student in the theological class at the University, and having been warned by his superiors not to go, it was with
some reluctance that he was prevailed on to accompany her. In compliance