This edition of Henry Newman’s Salzburger Letterbooks is based on Xerox copies from microfilms of the originals, which are preserved in London in the archives of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Because its assistance to the Protestant exiles from Salzburg had necessitated considerable correspondence, the secretary of the S.P.C.K., Henry Newman, caused it to be entered into several letterbooks for greater safety and convenience. Consequently, this correspondence is not only preserved in its entirety but also with painstaking care. There are two volumes of outward correspondence, both in folio size: one of 136 pages from the years 1732 to 1734 and one of 117 pages from the years 1734-39. The inward correspondence is contained in three volumes, also in folio size: one of 168 pages from 1732-33, one of 174 pages from 1734-35, and one of 41 pages from 1735. In addition, but not included here, the S.P.C.K. owns various autographed items concerning the Salzburgers, some of which are copied in these letterbooks, as well as three books of account of 100 double pages recording all the Society’s collections for and the disbursements to the Salzburgers.
This edition endeavors to follow the original syntax, spelling, and capitalization exactly; and it inserts correct forms, in brackets, only when the meaning might otherwise be obscure. The sole alteration in spelling is the occasional deletion of what appears to be an s at the end of certain words; for one of the copyists had the annoying habit of ending some words with a little flourish that happened to be identical with his s. Wherever the context indicates that the noun or verb in question is singular, the mark is assumed to have been merely a decorative flourish. Punctuation has been left largely intact, except that many commas have been omitted and a few added, since there seems to have been no rhyme or reason in their use. A collation of the few remaining original letters with their copies in the letterbooks indicates that the copyists paid no attention to the commas in the originals, which were in turn just as frequent and just as irrational as their own. Bracketed periods have been supplied where clarity demands.
Abbreviations have been resolved, and for very justifiable reasons. Most of them would have been resolved if the letters had been printed when written; and most of them were introduced by the copyists and therefore reveal nothing about the authors’ intent. Although familiar enough in the 18th century, many of these abbreviations would confuse a modern reader: e.g., Sen. Urlsperger was not a Senator, but a Senior of the Consistory; and M. Vat did not have a first name beginning with M. but was merely being addressed as Monsieur. Being thoroughly familiar with scripture, the gentlemen of the S.P.C.K. would have immediately recognized abbreviations like Col. and Ps., even though they are not immediately recognized by everyone today. Some 18th-century abbreviations now seem quaint or comical; for example, in America today the word Gent. does not suggest gentlemen as much as it does a men’s rest room. Some abbreviations have subsequently lost their. reason for being: it is no longer necessary to write would as wou’d to indicate that the liquid consonant should be dropped, since it is now dropped regardless of spelling. Likewise, we no longer have to write receiv’ d to show that the last e is silent, since it is silent now even when written. In the 18th century, on the other hand, the vowel sound of the weak verbal suffix could be pronounced or suppressed at will, as is still the case of the word learned in “The man learned” and “The learned man.” Reproducing abbreviations like yo’r (with a raised r) would add more to the cost than the meaning, and it would give these letterbooks a quaint and archaic flavor that they do not deserve. The authors of these letters were clear-thinking, practical men, not quaint antiquarians; and the language they wrote was both that of the pulpit and that of the counting house.
The French letters in this collection are copied verbatim, together with their total disregard for accent marks. Some of the irregularities are perhaps due to archaisms, others to the fact that the Swiss and German correspondents seem to have been rather vague in matters of syntax and orthography. Peculiar is the rather consistent practice of ending the infinitives and second person plural verbs with es or es. The errors in transcribing into the letterbooks suggest that the copyists were not familiar with French. This is even more obvious in the case of the Latin letters, the numerous errors of which indicate that the scribes copied them without any idea of their meaning.
Where possible, significant persons in these letterbooks are identified in the notes, and the location of the pertinent note may be ascertained in the appended index of proper names.
Because the S.P.C.K. discontinued its activities in the thirteen colonies when they won their independence, I had always thought of it as a relic of the past, as a venerable establishment somehow perpetuated by sheer force of tradition. Therefore, during my research in the Society’s archives in Trinity Church, I was surprised to discover that the Society is still a vital and vigorous organization busily engaged in sending books and men into the four corners of the earth. Were Henry Newman to return today, he would certainly be gratified to see his beloved Society still performing its mission so diligently more than two centuries after his death. At this point I wish to thank the staff of the S.P.C.K., particularly their archivist, Mr. Arthur E. Barker, for the hospitality and cooperation I enjoyed during my research in their archives. I also wish to thank the American Philosophical Society, the Wormsloe Foundation, and the Georgia Salzburger Society for the financial support required for this undertaking, and I also wish to express my gratitude to the University of Maryland for its generous encouragement of scholarly research. Miss Bessie Lewis of Townsend, Georgia, deserves my gratitude for correcting various errors in transcription and for other valuable suggestions. To Dr. E. Merton Coulter, the General Editor of the Wormsloe Foundation, as well as to Mrs. Craig Barrow, its patroness, I owe the actual publication of these letters.
GEORGE FENWICK JONES