THE Urlsperger Reports contain the diaries and letters of the Lutheran pastors who ministered to the Salzburger exiles and other German settlers in the colony of Georgia, to which are added certain reports and letters written by various members of their congregations. These reports were collected, collated, edited, and published periodically by Samuel Urlsperger, the minister of St. Anne’s Church in Augsburg and senior Lutheran minister of that city, who, himself the descendant of Protestants expelled from Austria, was the spiritual father of the Georgia Lutherans for most of his life. Urlsperger’s Reports, with the quaint baroque title given in literal translation on the title-page of this volume, were published from 1735 to 1751 at the Orphanage (Waysenhaus) of the Francke Foundation (Franckesche Stiftungen) in Halle. They were followed by a more compact series, Ackerwerk Gottes, which was published from 1751 to 1767, also at the Orphanage, first by Samuel Urlsperger and later by his son and successor, Johann August Urlsperger.
Samuel Urlsperger, who had once sojourned in England, was a corresponding member of the SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge), a missionary society in London, and was therefore able to interest the members of that organization in the plight of the Protestants expelled from Salzburg in 1731 by the archbishop, Leopold Anton, Freiherr von Firmian. (For more details about this infamous expulsion, the reader may consult the preface of George Fenwick Jones, etc., Henry Newman’s Salzburger Letterbooks.) The SPCK not only sent generous contributions to help the distressed Protestants but also brought them to the attention of the Trustees for Establishing a Colony in Georgia, who were then making grandiose plans for creating a haven in America for the relief of the poor, and, incidentally, for procuring raw materials and defending the English colonies to the northward from the Spaniards in Florida. Whereas the SPCK paid the salaries of the pastors and transported the Georgia Salzburgers from Augsburg to Rotterdam, the Trustees paid their passage to America and supported them there until they should become self-sustaining. This explains why Urlsperger dedicated his Reports to the Trustees.
This first volume in the series relates the experiences of the first transport, or group, of Georgia Salzburgers from their recruitment at Augsburg in August 1733 to their settlement at Ebenezer, near Savannah, Georgia; and it breaks off abruptly on July 16, 1734, just as death and disillusionment were beginning to set in. Urlsperger’s preface also relates the recruitment of the second transport and their journey from Augsburg to London and from there to Savannah; but it leaves their experiences in Georgia for the second volume. While most of the entries in the journal were written by Johann Martin Boltzius, the senior pastor at Ebenezer, a few were written by Israel Christian Gronau, his assistant pastor and catechist, for example, those made between 14 May and 4 June during Boltzius’ journey to Charleston.
As the reports tell, these two young clergymen had been called from the famous Orphanage at Halle, where they had previously studied and were then serving as instructors in its Latin school. The influence of Halle Pietism, particularly that of Prof. August Hermann Francke, is everywhere evident in the reports and letters sent by the two pastors from Georgia. Typical of their Pietistic outlook is Gronau’s remark of June 9th: “No matter how many good qualities a man may show, he cannot be saved unless he is reborn and experiences a change of heart.” Living as we do in a secular age, we may well regret that Boltzius and Gronau were more concerned with spiritual than worldly matters; for we are more interested in their physical experiences in the Georgia wilderness than in the condition of their parishioners’ souls. Most annoying is their practice of replacing people’s names with N. or N.N.
A spot-check of some of the original documents in the Francke Foundation in Halle has shown that not all the blame belonged to Boltzius and Gronau, for Urlsperger took the liberty of deleting whatever he thought best unsaid. The reports were published for the Salzburgers’ benefactors in Germany, who were to be edified, inspired, and encouraged to donate more; and the last of these purposes might well have been nullified by too much bad news. This explains, for example, why Urlsperger removed all mention of the “barbarous” treatment the Salzburgers received from Capt. Tobias Fry during their voyage, which is mentioned in the more confidential letters of Henry Newman’s Salzburger Letterbooks.
The unadulterated optimism of the Reports resulted not only from policy, but also from an ingrained philosophy of life then widespread, an attitude best exemplified in the Theodicy of Boltzius’ compatriot Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz, which was later so mercilessly lampooned in Voltaire’s Candide. Optimism is the only logical conclusion for those who accept the tenets that God is all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful. What appears to be evil must be a blessing in disguise, because a loving father chastizes his child for its own good. We should praise the Lord for the favorable wind that speeds us on our way to Georgia, yet we should also thank Him for the calm or adverse wind that gives us pause to reflect upon His goodness. We should praise the Lord for good health, but we should also thank Him for a salutory sickness that enables us to prepare for death. Boltzius survived the Lisbon Quake and the tragic death of two of his four children, yet he seems never to have questioned God’s infinite goodness. Such optimism was not limited to the two Halle-trained pastors, for it is equally typical of Baron Philipp Georg Friedrich von Reck, the handsome young nobleman from Hanover who accompanied the first Salzburger transport to Georgia and then wrote vivid observations on his return to Europe via the northern colonies.
In addition to von Reck’s travelogue, this volume also includes his description of Georgia and of the Indians there, who so fascinated the subscribers of the Reports that Urlsperger saw fit to grace his first volume with an engraving of the Indian chief Tomochichi and his nephew, who returned to Georgia on the ship carrying the second transport after a royal visit in England. Von Reck seems to have received his information about the Indians directly from Oglethorpe, who preceded Rousseau by some years in his admiration for the still-uncorrupted Noble Savage. Following von Reck’s report on Georgia and the Indians, this volume presents a collection of letters written by various Salzburgers, some of whom, like the Hubers, died wretchedly even before their happy letters reached their kinsmen in Germany. Since most of these letters were dictated to Boltzius and Gronau, it is not surprising that they appear, in both form and content, much like those of the two worthy divines. The letters from Boltzius and Gronau to their superiors and former teachers in Halle seem to serve as articles of faith, by which they wish to assure their mentors that they have remembered their wise instruction. For the professors in Halle, theology was an exact science through which one can achieve sure salvation, provided the Old Adam is ready to die and be reborn in Jesus.
This edition is based on a translation made in 1951-1952 by Hermann J. Lacher, a young German student, who attended the University of Georgia and subsequently for a time was a member of the History Department. A careful comparison with the original text has revealed great accuracy on his part despite his limited knowledge of the general background and his lack of access to the Salzburger Letterbooks, which have clarified various obscure points. All experienced translators know that texts must lose something in translation. Such loss becomes particularly evident if the translation is subsequently translated back into its original language, as is illustrated by the story of the translating-machine that rendered the proverb “Out of sight—out of mind” into Russian, and then translated it back into English as “Invisible Idiot.” Fortunately our translation seems to have lost relatively little, even in the case of back-translations. This is indicated, for example, by Oglethorpe’s letter of June 16, 1734, on p. 19, which, although translated from English into German and then back again, still retains the exact meaning, and even most of the wording, of Oglethorpe’s original letter as it was recorded by Henry Newman (Letterbooks, p. 459). The same is true, by and large, of Urlsperger’s voluminous footnote no. 3 on p. 190, which was based on Newman’s letter of Dec. 29, 1732 (Letterbooks, pp. 35-36) together with a few other stipulations received in later letters. The translation of the letters in Part V of this volume is partly the work of the late Mrs. Florence Janson Sheriff Fisher.
The present editor has taken the liberty of re-arranging Urlsperger’s footnotes, which, for typographical reasons, could not possibly be reproduced as they are. Urlsperger sometimes allowed his footnotes, and the footnotes to those footnotes, to cover successive pages, leaving only the top line for the text itself; but in this translation they have been collected and interspersed with the annotations of the present editor, while remaining distinct by being marked with asterisks. The brief and generally uninformative marginal summaries of the original foreword have been omitted to save space, as have, also, the marginal dates of the journals and the pagination of the original text. Whereas Boltzius wrote his name sometimes with and sometimes without a t, the t is used here consistently to remind the reader that a t sound was always pronounced. For the same reason the name Saltzburgers retains its older spelling with a t.
The Wormsloe Foundation is to be commended for its resolve to proceed with the long-delayed publication of these records of the courageous Salzburgers, who, for the sake of their faith, forsook their beautiful mountain homeland, braved the perils of the deep, and submitted with such Christian resignation to the trials and tribulations of the Georgia wilderness. Their suffering will confirm an ancient proverb handed down by German emigrants to undeveloped lands:
Dem Ersten, Tod—dem Zweiten, Not—dem Dritten, Brot
(Death for the first, hardship for the second, bread for the third)
GEORGE FENWICK JONES
University of Maryland
I take this opportunity to thank the American Philosophical Society and the General Research Board of the University of Maryland for supporting the research required to edit these reports. I am also indebted to Miss Marie Hahn of the University of Maryland for helping correct the galley proofs.
G F J
the most honorable
His Royal Majesty of Great Britain
With the establishment of the new colony of Georgia
as well as
to all the most honorable
of the very praiseworthy SOCIETY
FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE.
Although written in an Apocryphal Book, namely in the 8th verse of the 12th chapter of Tobias, it is a canonical truth which the German translation gives thus: YOU SHALL CONCEAL THE COUNSEL AND THE SECRETS OF KINGS AND PRINCES; BUT THE WORKS OF GOD YOU SHALL PRAISE AND REVEAL. Concerning this our Dr. Zeltner says in his commentary on the entire Holy Writ: “The late Luther translated it from the Latin. In Greek it read thus: FOR IT IS LAUDABLE TO HIDE THE SECRETS OF A KING, BUT HONORABLE TO REVEAL AND CONFESS THE WORKS OF GOD.”
Since without a doubt there belongs among the works of God which He has done in our times, and is still doing, the guidance of a Protestant community of Saltzburger emigrants from Augsburg to England and from there across the great ocean to Georgia in America, we are convinced that such a work which has characterized itself as divine should not be concealed but should be set in print for all to see, in honor of Him who wrought it, with all the particulars, so that they who know nothing about it will learn, and they who have insufficient knowledge of the matter will receive such through this, and that both will use their knowledge to praise GOD with heart and mouth, as in Romans 11:36; For of Him and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to Whom be glory forever. Amen.
My reason for dedicating these printed pages to you, most gracious gentlemen, is that you, the most honorable Trustees of Georgia, and you, the above-named very praiseworthy Society, including those of you who have been especially selected as Trustees for the poor Saltzburger Emigrants, have been the blessed, wise, and untiring tools with which the Lord decided to carry out His plan, and who, at the same time, have put so much undeserved trust in my humble person. You have not only turned over to me the generous charities for emigrant Protestants from Saltzburg, but have also commissioned me on several occasions with the reception and care of those emigrant Saltzburgers who resolved to go to Georgia.
In GOD’s name I continue to commend them (especially the small flock at Ebenezer) to your true love and benevolence. And I wish that the Lord in His grace may recompense you one and all, and may grant the True Gospel one victory after another among Christians, Jews and Heathens, and may grant you, most gracious gentlemen, success wherever you may be.
I hereby offer you in public print, as I have done several times before in letters, all possible further services of which you may find me capable, and assure you, most gracious gentlemen, that I will always remain yours, in prayer and humble service.
Augsburg, September 1, 1735
Senior of the Protestant Ministry
and Pastor of St. Anne’s