it is situated separates into two smaller ones; the well-wooded vale of Framont on the right, and that of the Ban de la Roche, of which Rothau is the first and principal parish, on the left. The approach to the latter place is romantic in the extreme; the road winding down the side of a steep precipice towards the southern side of the valley, where, after crossing the stream, which flows through its bottom in the character of a mountain torrent, it rises again, and the cottages of the peasantry become visible, partly imbosomed in plantations of pine, and beneath immense masses of overhanging rocks.*

*The mountains of the Ban de la Roche are composed of granite, porphyry, and argillaceous schistus, which are commonly even with their convex surface: sienite, trapp, and grunstein, projecting on the sides and summits in irregular columns, and pointed cliffs, appear originally to have formed the general covering.

These rocks exhibit great variety in their grain and constituent parts. The granite, which is coarse and less compact towards the base of the mountains, presents the fineness of marble about two thousand five hundred feet above the valley; in these regions it is also found without quartz, taking the appearance of sienite or granite, according to the arrangement of the mica and feldspar.WILKS.

For further particulars relating to the topography of this district, See Propositions Géologiques pour servir, &c. Par H. G. Oberlin, Doct. en Médicine. 8vo. Strasbourg, 1806.

[ocr errors]

The hamlet of Foudai, at the distance of two miles from Rothau, is next in course, and occupies an almost equally picturesque situation. It is succeeded by Waldbach, whose tapering spire and straw-thatched cottages are surrounded by orchards of pear and cherry trees, and by the - intermingled foliage of the alder, the ash, and the sallow. The temperature varies extremely, according to the height and position of the districts. On the summits of the mountains, for instance, the climate is as intensely cold as at Petersburg, though in the valleys below it is so soft and delightful as to resemble that of Geneva, and parts of the Jura. The winter months generally commence in September, and the snow usually remains undissolved till the following May or June, when the wind blows from the south, thus leaving only a period of four or five months for summer weather. The produce of the canton necessarily varies with the elevation of the several communes; the highest are cultivated notwithstanding, though to so little purpose, that it is said the wife can carry home in her apron all the hay her husband has mown in a long morning. The harvest differs in time as well as in quantity. At Foudai it is about a week later, and at Waldbach a fortnight later, than at Rothau, which is about four hundred feet below.

The district of the Ban de la Roche comprises about nine thousand acres (of forty eight thousand French feet), between three and four thousand of which are covered with wood, two thousand are occupied with pasture, one thousand five hundred are employed in meadows or garden land, and the remaining fifteen hundred only are cultivated with the plough.*

In the reign of Louis the Fifteenth, the whole of this territory was in a most desolate state; for having been partially the seat of conflict during the thirty years' war (terminated in 1648), and again in the time of Louis the Fourteenth, it was so laid waste as to be scarcely habitable, there being no road from one place to another, and but little land under cultivation. About eighty or a hundred families earned indeed a scanty subsistence on its precarious soil, but, being destitute of all the comforts of civilized life, they existed in a state of misery and degradation, more easily conceived than described.

This remote district partook, however, with the rest of Alsace, in a privilege denied to the ancient French provinces. When it was incorporated with France, it was stipulated in the decree that its inhabitants should continue to en

*Four or five hundred potatoes, six hundred rye, four or five hundred oats.

joy an entire liberty of conscience; and whilst the persecuted Protestants of Languedoc, and other parts of France, could not find a sufficiently secure retreat for the celebration of their worship, here they possessed their own churches, and no restraint was laid upon their religious assemblies.

When M. Stouber, therefore, (who has been already mentioned as the predecessor of Oberlin,) entered upon his ministerial duties, in 1750, he had not to proclaim the "glad tidings of salvation" in the midst of intolerance and persecution, nor had he to apprehend any danger from the subtleties of theological controversy on the part of a people almost entirely destitute of the means of religious instruction. Many difficulties, however, stood in his way, in consequence of the deplorable ignorance and extreme wretchedness that universally prevailed — difficulties that would have baffled the endeavors of a mind less ardent and less energetic than his


The following anecdote will convey some idea of the state of the parish on his first arrival there. Desiring to be shown the principal school-house, he was conducted into a miserable cottage, where a number of children were crowded together without any occupation, and in so wild

and a noisy state, that it was with some difficulty he could gain any reply to his inquiries for the


"There he is," said one of them, as soon as silence could be obtained, pointing to a withered old man, who lay on a little bed in one corner of the apartment.

"Are you the schoolmaster, my good friend?" inquired Stouber.

"Yes, Sir."

"And what do you teach the children?" "Nothing, Sir."

"Nothing!-how is that?"

"Because," replied the old man, with characteristic simplicity, "I know nothing myself." "Why then were you instituted shoolmaster?" Why, Sir, I had been taking care of the Waldbach pigs for a great number of years, and when I got too old and infirm for that employment, they sent me here to take care of the children."

[ocr errors]

The schools in the other villages were of a similar description; for, if the schoolmasters were not swine-herds, they were shepherds, who, in the summer, followed their flocks over the mountains, and, during the winter months, imparted to their little pupils the knowledge they possessed. This, however, was so trifling,


« ElőzőTovább »