|The Plight of the Exiles
|Excerpts from An account of the Exile's plight in letters of Charles and John Wesley
|Late at night, when the city gates were shut, about eight hundred Protestant exiles of Salzburg, of
both sexes, arrived here, under the guidance of a Bavarian messenger. They had been driven out of
their native country for the sake of their religion, and forced to leave their all behind them. A report
was spread that they had themselves desired to be conducted hither; but, upon inquiry, they solemnly
protested that they had not known whither they were to go; and that all they desired was, to be
admitted into some Protestant town, for the spiritual comfort of their souls.
After the arrival of these poor people, (who were very meanly clothed, and were for the most part
labouring people and servants, and had brought a few children with them,) they patiently waited
without the city-gates for admission, (which they had earnestly solicited by about forty of their
deputies, who arrived just before the gates were shut,) singing, with great devotion, Luther's hymn, '
God is our Refuge in distress,' &c.Orders were soon given for their reception; and some of them had
lodgings assigned them in the Protestant inns, whilst many were received into private houses, not
without many tears. They were as hospitably entertained as the smallness of the place would admit
of, and provided with spiritual and temporal food till the 30th of December. On Innocents' day they
heard, for the first time, the morning sermon; and at noon they attended a sermon suited to their
present circumstances, at which they expressed an uncommon desire and zeal for the word of God.
Their behaviour among us was as became true Christians. They were modest, humble, peaceable,
contented with, and thankful for, whatever was given them; and expressed the greatest delight in
praying, singing psalms, and reading good books.
As they had been expelled their country on a sudden, and not permitted to furnish themselves with
necessaries for their journey, our Protestant citizens have testified their charity to them, by furnishing
them with useful books, and better clothing for this cold season, and with food and money. Several
of them have been taken into service in the town; some of the children put out apprentices, and to
school; and their sick and weak provided for in the hospital.
When the Roman Catholic members of our Magistracy had complained in form of the stay of these
poor people, and other circumstances had intervened which rendered their further entertainment here
very difficult, (especially since nineteen thousand more were to make their pilgrimage through these
parts,) we came to this resolution, that all who could not be provided for here, should be sent through
three different roads to Memmingen, Augsburg, and Kempten, under the conduct of some of our
The necessary passports, with the money collected at the church-door towards defraylng the
expenses of their journey, were delivered to the deputies that went to conduct them; and four
waggons were provided for carrying the old weak people and the children, with the few things they
had brought with them. On the day of their departure, after they had heard the morning sermon, and
had taken necessary refreshment, they repaired to our Trinity church, at noon, where they heard a
farewell discourse, with many tears, and a hearty affection for the word of God, and, concluded with
the hymn, ' God is our Refuge in distress,' which was sung only by themselves. After this, the
deputies led them, two by two, between the Mayor and Aldermen, on one side of the church door,
and the reverend Ministry on the other.
Being dismissed by the citizens with innumerable blessings, they took their several roads in God's
name, like so many flocks of sheep, with great patience and humility. "Although we could not
imagine that the quiet march of these poor exiles would be anywhere obstructed, yet they that were
ordered to go to Kempten found that not one of their number could be permitted to pass that way.
The deputy went to lodge them in Ober Beuern, a village belonging to this city, till further orders. But
the Roman Catholics of that place opposed their entrance in so violent a manner, that all their lives
had been in danger if they had not retired. They therefore came back to this city, and were lodged at
the Golden Crown.
|The next day, being the 31st of December, they were sent to Memmingen, where they met with a
joyful reception. AUGSBURG. On the 30th of December, 1731, the Protestant Magistracy of
Augsburg, having had notice given them, by the Magistracy and Ministry of Kauffbeyern, that eight
hundred exiles of Salzburg had arrived there, and intended to march thither, earnestly desiring, for
the sake of Christ, that they would receive them; the same was immediately communicated by the
reverend Ministry of this city to the congregation at the cathedral church of St.Anne.
As soon as the sermon was ended, the Protestant Senate met, with our head Almoner and Recorder;
and, having resolved to make a collection on New-Year's day, for the benefit of these poor people,
they desired the senior Rectors to draw up an account of them, to be read after the noon and evening
sermons. But When the Protestant part of the Senate acquainted the Roman Catholic part, that many
Salzburg exiles were expected, and should be divided among the Protestants, without the least
molestation to the Roman Catholics, the Roman Catholics opposed their admission, under several
pretexts, insomuch that nothing could be effected; but we were obliged to quarter them among the
Protestants of the suburbs, some in inns, others in silver and copper mills, in sawing mills, the
hospital, and garden-houses. To all this the inhabitants expressed so great a readiness, that they who
were not able to 'receive any, lamented it as their misfortune. So great was the charity of all ranks of
people, that they had not patience to wait for their coming; but, some on foot, some on horseback,
and some in coaches, went to meet them several miles out of the town.
Two hundred of them, with their deputed Commissary of Kauffbeyern, arrived that evening, and
marched two by two over the fields, amidst some thousands of people, both Papists and Protestants,
some of whom distributed money among them. Every Protestant was desirous to comfort and relieve
these distressed brethren. Several tradesmen and merchants were not ashamed to call them brethren
and sisters in the fields. They are generally of good courage, and, notwithstanding all the misery they
have gone through, of a cheerful temper. There appears so much honesty and fidelity in their
countenances, that one may almost affirm they are without guile. They are, for the most part, of a
robust constitution, and from twenty to thirty-six years of age; though some few of them are from
forty to sixty.
These people behave themselves not only very thankfully, contentedly, meekly, and patiently, but,
when they have an occasion of mentioning their afflictions, they do it without the least bitterness or
murmuring against their former superiors: and they incessantly pray, with many tears, for their
relations whom they have left behind, not knowing what sufferings they may have to undergo.
The next day the Rev. Rector Frick preached a sermon upon Gen. xii. 1, 2. As this discourse was
chiefly applied to the Salzburgers, it is impossible to express with what attention they heard the word
of God. They stood like people who have had no food for a great while, and therefore wait with
greater eagerness to receive some to satisfy their hunger. Being averse to nothing more than idleness,
and ready to undertake the hardest labour, many have already found a subsistence....
In their own country, at first, all pains were taken to dissuade them from the Protestant religion, by
arguments from worldly interest; and when that would not do, their books, which they had been
many years in collecting, were seized in several places; and it is reported of the Dean of Werffen,
that he burned them. After they were thus deprived of the word of God, their enemies proceeded to
more violent means.
Many were apprehended, particuarly those who were suspected to be leaders, and sent in fetters,
dressed in derision with white caps, which hung down to their breasts, into the deepest dungeons in
Salzburg; and others have been sent away, their relations not knowing whither. When this would not
do, the Papists threatened them with beheading, drowning, the galleys, and the like. To all this these
poor people made only the following reply: ' In God's name; in God's name.' When it was found that
they could not be brought by any of these means to love their lives and fortunes more than God and
His truth, they were on a sudden ordered to leave the country; and these orders were immediately
executed with all imaginable rigour.
Some were taken from the field; others were dragged naked out of their beds. All had a sudden
summons to depart; and very few were permitted to sell their goods, or take anything necessary with
them. Many have been obliged to leave their wives and substance behind them, and to go away
deprived of all they had in the world. And what increased their calamity was, that they were forced
to begin their journey in the depth of winter, when the cold is most severe. The first eight hundred
spent five whole weeks in their journey, and that in the most bitter cold and stormy weather; and
were a fortnight in wandering over mountains and hills, not knowing whither they went. This fatigued
and emacerated them so much, that they were almost starved, having been in want of bread for three
days together. This is the case of these poor exiles, whose number will be considerably augmented by
those that are yet to come.
AUGSBURG. Jan. 26th, 1732, there arrived in our neighbourhood five hundred more exiles of
Salzburg, besides their women and children. One of our Protestant Aldermen was immediately sent
to meet them, who read their passports, registered them, and provided a dinner for the whole
company. After which they were divided into parties; so that one hundred in one place, eighty in
another, sixty in a third, and fifty in a fourth, might be quartered for this first day without the city;
and, when they were arrived in their lodgings, they sang hymns and prayed with great devotion.
There were with them three waggons full of women, new-born children, and old people, who were
taken to the hospital. It was a signal mercy that they did not all perish with cold; considering that they
came in a severe frost, being poor, and many of them very bare. Indeed, some did fall sick by the
hardships they endured; among whom was an old man, since dead, who, being asked whether he
was not sorry for having left his native country, answered, 'No: I die with joy, and in a hope of a