« הקודםהמשך »
- p. 37.
Our author acknowledges that he found some few "oases, as it were, in these fields, which are as barren and neglected in point of intellectual culture, as they are fruitful and abundantly productive in agricultural respects.” There are some seminaries of learning, particularly in those parts which are most subject to the influence of the Anglo-Americans; and we all know that some German names are to be found amongst those of the eminent and honored citizens of Pennsylvania. But on the whole, says Mr. Bokum :
“It is out of the question to think of a strong feeling of sympathy, or of striking points of relationship, between the German emigrants who have enjoyed the common advantages of religious and intellectual cultivation, and those descendants of Germans who, by their language and peculiar situation, have been placed almost entirely beyond the pale of civilization. Seldom, indeed, have I felt so perfectly as a stranger in this fair land, as was the case on my visit to those ‘Germans.'"
We have next a sketch of the author's pilgrimage in New York. He went, partly at least, to learn something of the Dutch population. But he acknowledges no relationship with them; they speak a distinct language from the German, their ancestors came from the Netherlands. He has, however, given us two interesting chapters as the fruits of this journey.
We omit some miscellaneous matters, well worth the reading, though we cannot copy them, and pass with our author to a more interesting class of Germans, the recent emigrants, who within a few years have appeared in considerable numbers in our own community. There is something peculiar in the general character of this class of foreigners. Mr. Bokum says :
“Whether you see them as pioneers, struggling through every difficulty and overcoming every obstruction, or whether you visit them, when collected in families and quietly enjoying the fruits of their labors, or whether, finally, you meet with the German merchant and mechanic mingling in the larger cities with the American population, - they enjoy everywhere the reputation of being a hard-working, temperate, and honest people, little inclined to give way to temptations to which the lower classes of society are generally exposed, and highly susceptible to those religious and intellectual influences which they have enjoyed at home.”
We do not think this praise exaggerated. In a little settlement of two or three hundred, in the suburbs of Boston, consisting of peasants of the humbler orders, of which we have had some knowledge, we have found the above description substantially verified. They are not free, it is true, from all the faulty and disagreeable traits incident to their condition, but there is much to admire and respect in them. It is hardly possible to find one, who left Germany after the age of fourteen without being able both to read and write. They have a reverence for religion and its institutions, and desire to avail themselves of all its ordinances. When they have no other resourse, they attend religious services where they cannot understand a word. They are almost uniformly temperate. They seldom drink ardent spirits at all, and intoxication is extremely rare. Their voices are not heard in the riot or brawl. They fall quietly into the ranks of labor, and lay up their earnings carefully. They are not a reckless and thriftless people, like the corresponding class of some countries, but in general are grave, thoughtful, and intent upon the interests and responsibilities of life. There are many families in which the parents are advanced in life. They might have spent the remainder of their days in their native villages, in comfort and peace, sheltered from severe oppression by their obscurity ; they would never have emigrated for their own sakes; but they were anxious that their children should enjoy what they deemed the precious “ blessings of a free country, and have the produce of their labors secured to them.” For this object they came forth, broke away the knitted associations of long lives, submitted to the rigors of a long voyage, and the hardships and crosses of a strange land, their little property spent, and only their children (perhaps a diminished number) left them. They sacrificed themselves for these. There is something noble and worthy of profound respect in the strength of character and wise parental forecast, which such conduct displays. May time prove that they have not erred in these hopes for their children, hopes so dearly paid for.
We are anxious that these strangers should not, through the force of adverse circumstances, share the bad fate of their brethren in Pennsylvania, - both for their sakes and our own; for here, fit or unfit, they soon become citizens and share the sovereign power of the State.
of the State. We quote some good remarks of our author on this latter point.
“ It seems hardly possible, that by his own endeavours the foreigner should become capable, in the short space of five years, to discharge faithfully the duties of a citizen of the United States, after he has lived for thirty or forty years under a monarchical form of government, and, when arrived in this country, has been separated to a great extent from the rest of the community by a difference of language, or prevented by incessant labor from acquainting himself with the peculiar character of this government. It seems impossible, I say, in regard to the German emigrant, who is generally capable and willing to assimilate with his neighbour, without divesting himself of his individuality, and it is certainly impossible in regard to those foreigners, who with an unbending and exclusive spirit keep aloof from every change in the national views and peculiarities which they imbibed in their own country.
"Let the Americans beware,' (says a well-known foreigner,) 'of extending the rights of citizenship indiscriminately to foreign emigrants; and although there is often something in such laconic warnings addressed to a whole people, which savours of Shakspeare's 'I would croak like a raven, I would bode ! I would bode!' it cannot prevent us from adding, that, until the naturalization laws shall be changed, -- which indeed may never be the case, — let us engage in enlightening those to whom we extend these privileges. pp. 84, 85.
Mr. Bokum hopes much from the institution of the “ German Charitable Societies ” established in Boston and the other principal cities of the Union. They are formed for the purpose of “exciting among themselves a fraternal spirit; to supply the needy and newly arrived with advice and employment, and the sick and feeble with pecuniary assistance.”
The active part which the educated and influential Germans take in this institution, must render it exceedingly useful to the humbler emigrants, who need every possible aid and good influence to save them from discouragement, suffering, and degeneracy.
Mr. Bokum suggests the inquiry, whether the usefulness of the public schools in the principal cities of the Union might not be greatly increased by the addition of an Anglo-German branch, in which the children of the German emigrants might be instructed through the medium of the German language, until they are capable of proceeding with their American companions; a suggestion worthy the consideration of those municipal authorities, who are in some measure responsible for the character and competency of our future equals in citizenship.
But the most interesting effort, that has been made in behalf of these people, is the establishment in this city of a religious service in their own tongue and according to the forms of the Lutheran church. Through the exertions of Mr. Bokum, and others of the same spirit, the German Lutheran Synod in the United States have been instructed in their situation, and have engaged to establish a stated ministry here in the ensuing spring. In the mean time their religious culture is not neglected.
· Every Sabbath you may hear them unite in prayer, and in the singing of German hymns; you may see them listening attentively to the biblical explanations of their teacher, or, if sickness should prevent him from being present, to some well-selected printed sermon, read by one of their number. Availing themselves thus faithfully of the means of grace which they enjoy at present, they look forward with love and longing to the time when they shall enjoy all the religious privileges to which they had been accustomed at home. Their minister will preach to them partly in English and partly in German, and those Germans who have intermarried with natives will no longer be compelled to go to different places of worship, on account of their difference of language. Nor is their resolution to have English preaching in their church the only proof which they have given of their readiness to assimilate themselves to the Americans. But a few days ago, for instance, they assembled to listen to the Governor's proclamation, which had been translated for them into German ; and though many of them, unlike their American hosts, are here without a family circle with which they might unite in thanksgiving and praise, they were consoled by the consciousness that they felt towards each other as members of the same family, as the children of God'; for our conversation,' they said, 'is in heaven, whence alone we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.'
- pp. 96, 97. It is refreshing and delightful to see the cultivated German minds
amongst us laboring with warm sympathy and zeal in wise measures for the melioration of their countrymen's condi
- to save them from the downward course of ignorance, irreligion, and vice, to which the poor emigrant is exposed. It is a natural and a Christian service, and the worthiest they can render, both to the country of their birth and that of their adoption. We wish them encouragement and success.
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