We made an early call on our kind friend the count, he being in attendance on the prince, when we made our visit to him, and for whom I felt much at the time, from his not being able tounderstand what passed; and the responsibility that would attach to him, should any thing I might have had to say give offence: but on my informing him how it was with me in this respect, he replied, he was glad to be present at the opportunity ; for although he could understand but very little of what I had to say, yet he was satisfied that he was made sensible of the substance, from the feelings he had here, putting his hand to his heart. The prince also, after our departure, he said, told him, he rejoiced at having made acquaintance with those good men; the count further adding, the desire which he felt, that we might remember him in our prayers to Almighty God.



No information having been received of the arrangements for our visit to the king, we waited on the Prince Witgenstein, who is in attendance on the king: he received us in an affable manner. On his being made acquainted with the cause of our thus calling on him, he informed us that the king had left Berlin for his palace at Charlottenburg, but was expected to return on Second-day; but as he should be with the king before that time, he would use his endeavours that my wishes should be accomplished. Having felt drawings in my mind to pay a visit to the prisoners in the state-prison at Spandau, about ten English miles from Berlin, to which criminals are removed after sentence is passed against them ; and the subject coming before the view of my mind with increasing weight, whilst we were sitting with the Prince Witgenstein, and in a manner that led me to believe it would be right for me to open my prospects to him in this respect, I therefore mentioned the subject to him, requesting his advice how to proceed to obtain permission. I had rather doubted the liberty being granted us, as I understood that one of my countrymen, who had obtained this permission, had made such unfavourable reports in print, relative to the state of the prison and prisoners in various respects, that it gave great offence to those in power. The prince however put the question to me, whether curiosity was my motive for desiring to visit the prison; but when I told him my real motives for making the request to him, he appeared agreeably disposed to enter into my views, and gave us a letter. From the many titles upon the address of the letter, we supposed the person to whom it was addressed was a person of consequence in the government. With this letter we proceeded as directed: but, from the manner in which we were received, it did not give me a favourable opinion as to our reception by the person to whom the letter was addressed. I concluded our standing in his presence with our hats on, caused him to treat us with a kind of hauteur we had not before met with : this I found, without great watchfulness, the creature was ready to recoil at; but feeling the evidence in my own mind, that the cause which had brought us to him was not my own, but my Divine Master's,



[merged small][ocr errors]

I endeavoured to rise above noticing his treatment of us. We were ordered to be with him again the next morning. Seventhday morning, we proceeded to ascertain the result of our visit with the letter presented yesterday. I was not wholly without apprehension, that our request would not be granted, from the manner in which we had been received : had this been the case, I could have sat down satisfied with a refusal, believing my movements thus far in the business, had been under the influence of best Wisdom, and that the will would be taken for the deed. Although the individual carried himself with as much distance towards us as before, yet he furnished us with two letters, one addressed to the governor of the prison at Spandau, and one to admit us to the town-prison ; that for the town-prison we were ordered to present to the chief magistrate of the city for his signature. We accordingly proceeded to his residence. I may remark, that the town-prison is for the reception of those who are waiting to take their trial; here great caution is used in admitting persons of any description, before the prisoners have been tried. At first he spoke rather sharply to us; but when he enquired of me, was curiosity my motive for desiring to go to the town-prison, and I presented him with my certificates, and he had read them, he appeared cheerfully to add his signature to our order, saying, had not his engagements with government concerns required his attendance elsewhere, he would gladly have attended us himself. We proceeded to the prison and produced our order; the person in authority met us at the gate, and asked us, had we not called at his house, and been disappointed at not meeting with him at home. To our agreeable surprise, he proved to be the magistrate, whose name, amongst other serious persons in Berlin, had been furnished us by my kind young friend, the professor before mentioned. The countenance of our kind friend, the magistrate, bespoke the pleasure which the prospect of having to attend upon us afforded him; and from the feelings of affection awakened in my mind towards him, his company felt

equally grateful to me. Our first visit was to a man about twenty years age,

in a room by himself; his legs were chained to the floor, and one arm to the wall; the cause of which, we were informed, was, that he had repeatedly made his escape from prison : he was committed to this prison for having twice wilfully set fire to buildings, whereby a whole village was destroyed; for which, about two years ago, sentence of death was passed upon him: but the merciful laws of Prussia, and the merciful disposition of the king, had thus far prolonged his life: his present coerced situation, notwithstanding the greatness of his crime, awakened in me every feeling of pity I was capable of. I endeavoured, as ability was afforded, to lay before him the awful situation he was placed in, through his own evil conduct, not knowing how soon an order

[ocr errors]


might come for his execution: he appeared very calmly to hear what I had to say, without, as we could observe, manifesting signs of sorrow for his conduct, or a sense of the awful uncertainty of his life, until, at our leaving him, I gave him my hand, when a change took place in his countenance, and he grasped my hand very sharply. I have since been informed, that the severest part of his sentence is, by the mercy of the king, remitted. We next proceeded to the women's department, consisting mostly of young persons: with them we had an interesting opportunity; most of them were brought to tears, manifesting at our parting, a grateful sense of this token of Divine 'regard : after which, we were conducted to a large room, in which, by order of our friend the magistrate, the keepers brought out the prisoners from their places of confinement, and collected them together. In addition to the magistrate, the keepers, and prisoners, we had the company of several genteel looking men, who remained until the opportunity closed, which was conducted with great quiet. At our parting, the prisoners generally evinced tenderness, giving us their hands at our leaving them.

After this we called upon the pastor, to whom my friend's letter was addressed. I was struck with his fine person, and the very polite manner with which he received us, and his great profession of pleasure it gave him in meeting with us. After he had read the letter of my friend, I presented him with my certificates.

On my remarking to him the reproachful manner in which the first day of the week was occupied in Prussia, by business going forward in the day-time, and the theatres open in the evening, with dancing and card-parties, he expressed his surprise these practices should not be considered allowable; saying, it was his opinion people might be in such practices as these on the Sunday evening, and not be doing wrong, and should any of his hearers question him on the subject, he should not hesitate to give them liberty to do so. I requested him to consider the awful and important situation he had placed himself in, by accepting of his appointment as pastor, adding, if such were his real sentiments, which he had now been advancing, I hoped he would be very careful not to express them in future. He appeared confused, and as if he hardly knew how to bear what I had been offering to him ; although the time spent with him was very exercising to my mind, yet I was thankful the opportunity had been afforded me, to testify against such unsoundness of principle, and to acknowledge the mercy it had been to me, that I had been disappointed by not being able to meet with him at home, in the more early stage of my being in Berlin ; the probability would be, that instead of his helping my cause, I should have had to experience my way made more difficult from his situation and views.

[ocr errors]

First-day morning, my dear companion Thomas Christy, our kind interpreter, (a young man who had shown us much attention,) and myself, left Berlin for Spandau, where we arrived about ten o'clock. Whilst our breakfast was preparing, we made inquiry when (what is called) the service would be likely to close at the prison ; apprehending if I could sit with them before they then separated, it would make less of a difficulty in my visiting the prisoners than by their being specially asseinbled for the purpose. Hearing the bell begin to chime for the prisoners to assemble in their place for religious worship, I placed myself at the door of our hotel, where I had a full view of the entrance into the prison : and when I observed a person 1 supposed to be the chaplain of the prison, making towards it, with my interpreter we met him before he entered the prison, to whom i proposed my sitting with the prisoners, after he had done with them. He informed us it rested with the governor to grant such permission ; this being the case, we proceeded to the prison, and were introduced to the governor, who received us kindly. I informed him what my motives were for wishing to see the prisoners, and my desire to have them as much as possible all together; on which we were requested to attend at the prison at twelve o'clock, that being the dinner-hour of the prisoners, and then we were assured an opportunity of seeing them should be afforded me. I felt it right for me to request, that the pastor of the prison should be informed of our intention, and if he inclined to attend, his company would be acceptable.

We proceeded at the time appointed, and found the governor, at sight of us again, considerably agitated in mind, and alarmed at the prospect of my intended visit to the pri

so generally together: he appeared to bring forward every excuse he was capable of, to discourage me from making the attempt, telling us that many of the prisoners were such desperately wicked creatures, that it would be dangerous for us to venture in amongst them. From that assurance I was favoured with, which never yet had failed me, I was persuaded that they would not be suffered to harm a hair of our heads; so that I felt as if I should not have hesitated to have gone in amongst them alone, could I have made them understand my language. Notwithstanding all the difficulties which the governor threw in our way, I found I must persist in my determination to see the prisoners, if it could possibly be allowed; when he observed I continued so firm in my determination, as that none of his arguments were sufficient to overcome me, and cause me to yield to his fears of consequences, he trembled, but at length yielded, and introduced us to the women prisoners ; the pastor also gave us his company. Here we found about seventy assembled, which we understood were all the female prisoners, except a few who were ill. The pastor placed us on a fight of steps, and the governor


« VorigeDoorgaan »