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The Ban de la Roche suffered in common with other districts, but to a less extent, in consequence of Oberlin having introduced a vigorous variety of the potato. From this cause alone the people did not die of famine, as they must otherwise have done.

While thankful for the narrow escape which his parishioners had made on this occasion, the good pastor was the more alarmed for the continued welfare of his flock; and as they did not seem inclined to emigrate, he set about contriving means for introducing employment from without. The plaiting of straw, knitting, and dyeing with the plants of the country, were accordingly introduced. A more successful branch of industry which followed, was the spinning of cotton by the hand, for the manufactories of Alsace. In having women and girls taught the art of spinning, Oberlin was indefatigable; and such was his earnestness, that he gave prizes to the best spinners in addition to their ordinary wages. He had the gratification of seeing his plan succeed. In a short time the spinners became so expert, that in a single year the wages paid by a manufacturer for spinning cotton in the Ban de la Roche amounted to 32,000 francs (L.1280). Weaving by the hand was next introduced, and promised to be equally remunerative, when a stop was put to the whole of this prosperity by the introduction of machinery at Shirmeck. Hand labour could wage no effectual war with this cheaply-wrought and powerful enginery, and the inhabitants sunk to their former state of privation.

At this juncture it is impossible to avoid pitying Oberlin as well as his parishioners, whose duty, however, was clearly before them. The young and more able-bodied amongst them ought to have shifted to localities where their labour in the mechanic arts, or on the soil, would have earned them the bread of which they stood in need. A lucky turn in affairs saved them from the penalty of their neglect. While still smarting under the bereavement of their labour, the Ban de la Roche had the good fortune to be visited by a M. Legrand, a ribbon manufacturer from Basle in Switzerland, and so charmed was he with the character of the cher Papa Oberlin, and the orderly habits of the people, that he forthwith induced his two sons, to whom he relinquished his business, to remove their manufactory to the Steinthal. This proved to be a more permanent and suitable undertaking than that of cotton-spinning. Ribbons are woven by hand-looms, and these being dispersed amongst the cottages of the peasantry, in which also the winding of the silk weft for the weavers is conducted, employment was found for some hundreds of people, old and young, in their own dwellings—a plan everyway more advantageous than that of working in large factories. As in some of the Swiss cantons, the Ban de la Roche now exhibited a happy mixture of agricultural and horticultural labours with mechanical pursuits. From many of the cottages on the hill-sides were heard the sounds of the swift-flying shuttle;

and when these were hushed at an early hour in the evening, the weaver might be seen trimming his garden or digging in the patch of arable land connected with his establishment.

The Messieurs Legrand had no cause to lament their removal to the Steinthal. In a report made to the Royal and Central Society of Agriculture in France, a letter occurs from one of these gentlemen to the Baron de Gerando, from which we draw the following interesting observations. “ Conducted by Providence into this remote valley, I was the more struck with the sterility of its soil, its straw-thatched cottages, the apparent poverty of its inhabitants, and the simplicity of their fare, from the contrast which these external appearances formed to the cultivated conversation which I enjoyed with every individual I met whilst visiting its five villages, and the frankness and naïveté of the children, who extended to me their little hands. I had often heard of the good pastor Oberlin, and eagerly sought his acquaintance. He gave me the most hospitable reception.

It is now four years since I retired here with my family; and the pleasure of residing in the midst of a people whose manners are softened and whose minds are enlightened by the instructions which they receive from their earliest infancy, more than reconciles us to the privations which we must necessarily experience in a valley separated from the rest of the world by a chain of surrounding mountains."

The merits of Oberlin as a great social reformer, would appear to have now become more prominent than they had hitherto been; attracting, in particular, the attention of governmentusually the last party to recognise any virtue in anything not connected with fighting. Louis XVIII., at the recommendation of his ministry, presented Oberlin with the decoration of the Legion of Honour—a mark of esteem, however, so exceedingly common, as to form a very insignificant reward for public services of so important a nature. Oberlin, like a true philanthropist, could not see that he had done anything deserving of this mark of royal approbation. The notice which was taken of him by the Count de Neufchateau, in a meeting at Paris of the Royal and Central Society of Agriculture about this period (1818), bore still more satisfactory testimony to his self-devoted labours. On the occasion of voting a tribute of gratitude, along with a gold medal from the society, to Oberlin, the count made the following among other vivid remarks :

“If you would behold an instance of what may be effected in any country for the advancement of agriculture and the interests of humanity, quit for a moment the banks of the Seine, and ascend one of the steepest sumınits of the Vosges mountains. Friends of the plough, and of human happiness, come and behold the Ban de la Roche! I have been long acquainted with the valuable services rendered, for more than fifty years, to that district by John Frederick Oberlin. During that time, and to


the advanced age of seventy-eight, he has persevered in carrying forward the interesting reformation first suggested and cominenced by his virtue, piety, and zeal. He has refused invitations to more important and more lucrative situations, lest the Ban de la Roche should relapse into its former desolate state; and, by his extraordinary efforts and unabated exertions, he averted from his parishioners, in the years 1812, 1816, and 1817, the horrors of approaching famine. Such a benefactor of mankind deserves the veneration and the gratitude of all good men; and it gives me peculiar pleasure to present you with an opportunity of acknowledging, in the person of M. Oberlin, not a single act, but a whole life devoted to agricultural improvements, and to the diffusion of useful knowledge among the inhabitants of a wild and uncultivated district.

It is already ascertained that there is in France uncultivated land sufficient for the formation of five thousand villages. When we wish to organise these colonies, Waldbach will present a perfect model; and in the rural hamlets which already exist, there is not one, even amongst the most flourishing, in which social economy is carried to a higher degree of perfection, or in which the annals of the Ban de la Roche may not be studied with advantage.”

Whatever were the feelings which inspired the venerable Oberlin in receiving the tribute of gratitude and accompanying medal from the society, it will naturally be supposed that these marks of regard to their beloved pastor afforded unqualified satisfaction and pleasure to his numerous parishioners.

One of the public services performed by the cher Papa for the Ban de la Roche, was the settling of a long and ruinous lawsuit which was carrying on between the peasantry and the seigneurs of the territory

A seigneur, according to the old French usages, was the feudal lord or superior of a tract of land, from the resident proprietors or cultivators of which he exacted certain annual dues and services; in requital, he gave them legal protection and some other privileges, such as the right of cutting timber from the forests, or fishing in the rivers. At the Revolution, the seigneuries were generally abolished; without, however, as it would appear, quashing any legal disputes which had previously been unsettled between the seigneurs and their vassals. The litigation in the present instance was with regard to the forests which covered a large part of the mountains, and, with varying fortune, the suit had lasted upwards of three quarters of a century, and through all varieties of tribunals. In 1813, the quarrel, handed down from father to son, still raged, and promised to rage for many years longer. Attempts had been made by the seigneurs to compromise the matter, but without avail. This perplexing law-plea had been the plague of Oberlin's life: it was the standing grievance of the canton : now sinking into silence, now reviving, it kept every tongue in exercise.

With some useful' advice from his friend the prefect of the department, Oberlin undertook to convince his parishioners how much more advantageous it would be for them to make certain sacrifices, with a view to settle the dispute, than to protract it even with the ultimate chance of being victorious. He showed them the amount of expenses they had already lost, and which they might still lose; what were the vexations to which they had been exposed; and what pleasure they would have in being no longer subjected to such a torment. Besides offering these reasons, he urged the religious view of the subject, insisting on the duty of living at peace and in friendship with all mankind. The moral power of the good pastor was perhaps in nothing so remarkable as his conquest on this occasion. Melting the obstinacy of his auditors by his arguments and eloquence, they agreed to the terms of a mutual compromise, and the litigation was brought to a close. A few smooth words effected what years of wrangling and battling had failed to accomplish. The day on which the mayors attended to receive the signature of the late belligerents, was one of rejoicing in the Ban de la Roche; and at the suggestion of the prefect, these magistrates presented to Oberlin the pen with which the deed had been signed, requesting him to suspend it in his study as a trophy of the victory which he had achieved over long-cherished animosities. The gift was gratefully accepted; and it was often afterwards declared by Oberlin that the day on which that pen was used had been the happiest of his life.

As early as 1804, and while war still existed between France and England, a friendly communication had been opened between the committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society in London and Oberlin, who entered with his accustomed enthusiasm into the idea of dispersing copies of the Scriptures throughout the districts under the sphere of his influence. Assisted by his son, Henry Gottfried, who, after being educated at Strasburg for the medical profession, was ordained for the church, and also one of the Messieurs Legrand, Oberlin organised an auxiliary society at Waldbach, which henceforth became one of the most important distributaries of the Bible in France. It is mentioned, that so zealous did the good pastor become in this as well as in the cause of Christian missions, that he not only gathered all the funds he could among his parishioners, and exhausted his own slender funds, but sold off many articles of value in his household, including every silver utensil, except a single spoon. Uniting with the cher Papa in these pious efforts, Louisa Schepler became a zealous contributor to the Bible societies ; on one occasion giving the entire annual rent of a small field which belonged to her.

In the latter part of his life, Oberlin became also deeply interested in the movements taking place in England and elsewhere for the abolition of negro slavery in the West Indies and America. So shocked was he with the injustice and impiety of the whole system of slavery, that he determined on relinquishing the use of coffee, the only slave-cultivated product which entered his dwelling; and at a considerable sacrifice of comfort, he never afterwards used this article, substituting milk in its place.

Thus, in acts of piety and self-sacrificing benevolence, conformable to all his previous actions, passed away the latter years of this remarkable man. In 1809, he felt acutely the loss of his daughter Fideleté; and in 1817 met with another severe bereavement in the death of his son, Henry Gottfried, who sunk under an illness aggravated by the severity of his labours among the mountains. These family losses were felt the more acutely, from his remaining children being dispersed and settled in life; his principal domestic stay being now his adopted daughter, Louisa Schepler, who clung to him till his last moments.

When no longer able to perform his pastoral functions, they were faithfully discharged by his son-in-law, M. Graff; and he spent the greater part of his time in literary and devotional exercises in his study. All who had the happiness of being introduced to him—and among these were numbered several clergymen from England—were struck with his venerable and dignitied appearance, and the singular artlessness of his manners and discourse. His head, which indicated high intellectual and moral faculties,* was thinly covered with finely flowing locks of hair white as snow, while on his countenance shone the calm placidity of one who was at peace with himself and the world. Great as was latterly his infirmity, he was affected with no bodily disease; and he may be said to have died solely from a decline of the natural powers. Dissolution made no sensible approach till Sunday the 28th of May 1826, when he was suddenly seized with shiverings and faintings; and he lingered, suffering from occasional convulsions, till the morning of the 1st of June, when he expired ; his last moments being of that peaceful and happy kind which so well befitted his character He died in the eighty-sixth year of his age, and the sixtieth of his ministry.

The intelligence of the sad event, communicated to the parish by the solemn tolling of the passing bell, was received with the deepest sorrow, every family feeling that it had lost the best of friends and benefactors. Agreeable to a not unusual custom, all were permitted to visit the parsonage, to pay a last tribute of respect to the cher Papa, whose wan and sunken, but venerable features, were exposed beneath a glass in the lid of the coffin. For several days, multitudes from all quarters crowded to Waldbach on this pilgrimage of affection, and many remained in the neighbourhood to attend the approaching funeral.

* Oberlin was a believer in Lavater's opinions respecting physiognomy, and also of the doctrines of Gall on phrenology. His own head, in relation to his character, is said to have afforded strong presumptive proofs of the correctness of Gall's theory.

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