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together. Hence the animated glow of delight and satisfaction which may be seen on the countenance of him who is aiming day by day to lessen the sum of existing wretchedness, and whose best energies are devoted to the sacred cause of benevolence. The countenance is most assuredly, in this case, the index of the mind. Such an individual cannot but be cheerful: no remorse corrodes his bosom; the blessings of the widow and the fatherless attend him he is beloved by man, approved by God. On the other hand, he is indeed to be pitied.who enjoys not the "luxury of doing good," and has not contributed his exertions for the removal or mitigation of human woe: for however exalted his rank, and however varied the sources of his gratification, he has yet to learn that the highest honour, as well as the purest felicity, is to be found in the exercise of that kindness and generosity wherein man most nearly resembles his Maker.
Still, the number of truly philanthropic individuals is but small, perhaps much smaller than most imagine. Many whose influence and property are advantageously employed for the benefit of their fellow-men, are unable to give their personal attentions. They may be ready to lend pecuniary aid, but excuse themselves from actual labour. The onus of benevolence lies upon the few. The consequence of this is, that there is a greater demand upon the zeal of the active than they are at all times prepared to meet; and, not unfrequently, the backwardness of those of whom better things had been hoped, and the overwhelming pressure of objects, somewhat tend to dishearten. In such circumstances, whatever facts or considerations may be useful to encourage the well-disposed, to animate the depressed, and to quicken declining energies, should be carefully sought after, and judiciously employed. And perhaps nothing can be more suitably adduced as a stimulus to action, than the examples of persons distinguished by the variety and extent of their philanthropy; and especially of those who, having had to encounter difficulty and opposition, have not suffered any obstacles to subdue their ardour, and check their progress. We are happy in presenting to the notice of our readers some account of one whose life has realized the truth of these observations.-M. Jean Frederic Oberlin, the father of the Ban de la Roche, is a man who will ever be ranked among the benefactors of his race*.
The Ban de la Roche, in the department of the Vosges, is a mountainous district in the N. E. extremity of France, on the
* For the information contained in this article, we are principally indebted to a pamphlet published by the Rev. Mark Wilks, entitled-" The Ban de la Roche, and its Benefactor M. Jean Frederic Oberlin."
borders of Germany, and about 220 miles E. of Paris. It consists of two parishes, Rothau and Waldbach: Rothau is placed at the height of 1360 feet above the level of the sea, and Waldbach at about 1800. Upwards of one third of the district is covered with wood; the remainder is partly pasture and partly arable land. "The temperature varies according to the elevation and position of the villages. At an elevation of 1200 feet above the level of the sea, the climate corresponds to that of Geneva, and is called the warm region. Above that, and as high as 2400 feet, is the temperate region, which answers to the thermometer of Warsaw and Wilna: the cold, at 2700 feet above the same level, corresponds with the temperature of Stockholm; and, ascending again from thence, it is as intense as at Petersburg." The produce varies in a similar manner. There are in each commune three degrees of fertility, according to the position of the lands,—as the low grounds, those on the sides, and those near the summits.
A hundred years ago, this country was uncultivated, and scarcely accessible. Fourscore families gained a scanty subsistence from its precarious produce, but lived in a state of deplorable wretchedness, being destitute of all the comforts, and provided with but few of the necessaries, of life. Now, the population consists of upwards of three thousand, who procure their livelihood by the labours of agriculture and manufacture, and appear to be in every respect a contented and happy people. This great change is to be chiefly ascribed to the philanthropic exertions of M. Oberlin, who has been pastor of Waldbach more than half a century.
Oberlin's predecessor, M. Stouber, began the work of reformation. Rightly judging that a good education is the basis of all social improvement, he directed his attention in the first instance to the state of the schools. He found them miserably conducted: the masters themselves could neither read correctly nor write legibly; and the time of the pupils was wasted by an entire want of method. M. Stouber instructed the masters, and at his own expense brought a teacher from the neighbouring country to introduce proper modes of tuition. Notwithstanding the prejudices of an ignorant people, who were averse to all innovation, much good resulted from these measures: the parents saw that the progress of their children was much more rapid than it had before been, and by degrees learned to appreciate the advantages they now enjoyed.
The wife of M. Stouber entered into his plans with spirit, and was his willing associate in every benevolent exertion. They had been united but three years, when death tore her from his arms. The afflicted husband paid the last tribute of affection by causing the
following epitaph to be placed upon her tomb:-"After three years of marriage, Marguerite Salomée, wife of G. Stouber, minister of this parish, expired at Ban de la Roche, in the simplicity of a peaceful and useful life, (the delight of her benevolent heart,) and in the prime of youth and beauty. She died August the 9th, 1764, aged twenty years. Near this spot her husband has deposited her mortal remains, uncertain whether he is more sensible of the grief of having lost, or the glory of having possessed her." Three years after this, Stouber was succeeded by M. Oberlin.
M. Oberlin is descended from a learned family at Strasburg, in the university of which town he received his education. Having determined to devote his talents to the cause of religion, he became pastor of Waldbach in 1767. Here, secluded from society, and almost out of the reach of his connexions, a fine opportunity presented itself of prosecuting his literary researches to an extent which in a more public situation would have been impracticable. The temptation was powerful and fascinating,--a cultivated mind must have felt its force. But Oberlin was swayed by nobler motives. As soon as he perceived the situation of his parish, and the great room for improvement, his resolution was formed. The good of his flock became the paramount object of his regard; to them his best energies have been devoted; for their welfare he has laboured with unwearied solicitude; and he has lived to see his exertions crowned with success.
When this estimable inan entered on his pastoral functions, there was not one school-house in all the five villages of his parish. A miserable hut with one little room was the only accommodation afforded. This difficulty was soon removed. Partly at his own expense, and partly by the assistance of some benevolent friends at Strasburg, M. Oberlin procured the erection of a suitable building in one of the villages. In the course of a few years the example was imitated, and there is not now a village without a school-house. Having engaged competent masters for these schools, M. Oberlin was anxious that the children should be in some degree prepared for the instruction they would now receive. For this purpose he hired governesses in each village, and placed under their care the younger children. Here they were taught to spin, to knit, and to sew. The conductresses were furnished with engravings of sacred and natural history, of which the worthy pastor himself gave the explanation, to be communicated to their juvenile pupils. In summer, they gathered plants, and learned their names, properties, and uses; in winter, they painted little maps of the Ban de la Roche, France, Europe, &c. Thus trained, the children entered the public schools, where the masters taught them reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and
sacred and profane history. A weekly meeting of all the schools was established at Waldbach, when M. Oberlin inspected and examined them, communicated to them useful knowledge, and distributed prizes of valuable books, furnished by the generosity of his friends at Strasburg. Other improvements followed. A public library was formed; an electrical machine and mathematical instruments were procured; a collection of indigenous plants was arranged; and care was taken that the botanical knowledge already acquired by the children should be extended and put into practice. When they walked in the fields, they were instructed to mark such plants as were useful for food, and to destroy such as were poisonous. This knowledge proved so beneficial, that "during the disastrous months of 1817, when the harvest failed, and potatoes were extremely scarce, the accurate acquaintance of the people with the vegetable productions of their canton, contributed to prevent the most distressing dis
M. Oberlin has been successful in materially improving the agriculture of the Ban de la Roche. The first object of his care was the repair and widening of the roads,-a most useful undertaking in a country where the torrents pouring down from the summits of the mountains frequently cause considerable landslips, to the great loss of the cultivator. In furthering this important business, the pastor laboured with his own hands, selecting for himself and his domestic servant the most difficult and dangerous spots. Animated by his example, the whole parish set about the work; walls were raised to prevent the sliding of the earth; the torrents were stopped or diverted, and intercourse permanently established between, the five villages. When this was accomplished, they proceeded to open a communication with the great road to Strasburg. In effecting this, rocks were to be blasted, a wall built, a bridge erected over the river Brusche, and funds for the whole were to be procured. Nothing was impracticable; every difficulty yielded to the enthusiasm of the villagers. They laboured with an energy that braved danger and despised fatigue. Implements were wanting, their pastor procured them; expenses accumulated, he interested his bourgeois and his distant friends, and funds were provided; and in two years, in spite of every obstacle, the work was completed.
When the poor labourers broke any of their tools, they were often at a great loss through want of money to purchase new ones. M. Oberlin opened a warehouse, where he sold every article of this kind at prime cost, and gave the purchasers credit till their payments came round. He selected lads of suitable talents, clothed, and apprenticed thenr in neighbouring towns, and thus succeeded,
succeeded, in a few years, in introducing into the country wheelwrights, masons, smiths, joiners, and glaziers, of which trades there were no persons before in the neighbourhood.
In 1767, there was no fruit in Waldbach but wild apples. M. Oberlin was anxious to induce his parishioners to plant trees of various kinds. The method he adopted on this occasion was singularly ingenious. Aware of the reluctance of country people to be instructed by citizens, he silently took advantage of their curiosity. Two fields belonged to his parsonage, which were crossed by a public foot-path. "Here he worked with his servant, dug trenches, planted young trees, and placed round them the earths which he thought most likely to promote their growth: he then obtained slips of apples, pears, cherries, plums, and nuts, made a large nursery ground, and waited with patience the period when his parishioners, observing the success of his experiments, would come and request him to assist them in rearing trees for themselves. His expectations were not disappointed; the taste for planting was diffused, and the art of grafting, which he taught the people, was generally practised.”
Various other advantages have resulted from the labours of this extraordinary man. The improvement of the breed of cattle; the successful introduction of the artificial grasses, sainfoin, and clover; the great increase in the growth of potatoes, which form the principal subsistence of the Rochois; the employment of the young, during the winter months, in manufacturing useful articles from straw, knitting, dyeing, spinning cotton, and weaving; the culture of flax; the establishment of an agricultural society, of a dispensary for the sick, of a loan fund for the necessitous, and for the liquidation of debts ;-the happy termination of a law-suit between the seigneurs and the peasantry, which had been prolonged for more than eighty years, and which had impoverished the parties by enormous expense, and diffused a spirit of litigation and intrigue-all bear testimony to the zeal and disinterestedness of M. Oberlin, and the invaluable benefits which the inhabitants of the Ban de la Roche have derived from his counsels and his exertions.
It might be reasonably expected that such conduct as this would excite emulation, and induce others to tread in the steps of the worthy pastor of Waldbach.-The following is an account of an excellent female, transmitted by M. Oberlin, about 16 years ago, to the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society.
"Sophia Bernard is one of the most excellent women I know, and indeed an ornament to my parish. While unmarried, she undertook, with the consent of her parents, the support and education