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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Culture and Life

An Affecting Scene

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Transcript from original newspaper article: -


AN Affecting SceneThe valley of Otsego is proverbial for its beauty. No traveler has beheld it without lingering to take a last look at its majestic scenery. The shelving banks of the romantic Susquehanna, the river itself in its meanderings, the neat cottages of the thrifty farmers, all conspire to present a landscape such as is found in few parts of our country. In the midst of those romantic hills is located the Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary of Hartwick. While a student in that institution, I witnessed a scene that made a deep impression on my heart, and can never fade from my memory.

A poor exile from Germany, accompanied by his family, had found his way thither in pursuit of employment, and he was fortunate in finding one person, a Lutheran clergyman, who would converse with him in his native language. Ere his prospects had begun to brighten, that dreadful malady, the small-pox made its appearance in his family. The strictest quarantine was immediately laid upon them, alarm spread through the neighborhood, and fear kept every one from the infected spot. With no heart to give him sympathy, no ministering hand to help, the poor emigrant was left to meet his melancholy fate alone. A stranger in a strange land, under a heavy visitation of Providence, he must have felt like the daughters of Israel when they hung their harps upon the willows. Before many days one of his children died. A necessary precaution forbade the funeral by daylight. It was a lovely night in the month of August; the stars shone brightly; the tall trees cast their deep shadows upon the road. A lonely band was seen traversing the pathway by torchlight. A clergyman, the father bearing the dead child upon his shoulders, the mother and two children, composing the solemn company. The days of the Covenanters seemed brought before the mind in all the vividness of reality. Who could read the poor German’s heart – who could tell his bitter sorrows? I saw them in the graveyard; I heard the heavy sod fall upon that infant’s coffin, cast there by a father’s hand. In all the pomp and ceremony I have witnessed on such occasions, I have never seen anything half so touching. How precious the thought at such an hour, that there is God and Saviour who in all the lowliness of our circumstances keep and comfort us. In a remote corner, a solitary stake marks the little sufferer’s resting place; but I have never seen it without hearing the exhortation repeated to me with redoubled force, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers.”