Rauhe Haus

Rauhe Haus

(Germ. for Rough House), THE, a great juvenile reform institution at the little hamlet of Horn, three miles from the German port of Hamburg, owes its origin to John Henry Wichern, the founder also of the German Home Mission Work. SEE INNER MISSION. The peculiar name which it bears (Rough House) is not due to any peculiar feature of the institution, as one might suppose, but rather to an awkward translation of the Germnan patois into the classical language. The house in which the institution was first located was built some hundred and fifty years ago by a certain Mr. Ruge, a gentleman of wealth and culture, and in every sense quite contrary in character to the name given him in classical German. People of Hamburg's suburbs always knew the place by the name of the "Ruge House," and so the institution was called Rauhe Haus when it was first opened on Nov. 1, 1833, by Wichern, with the assistance of his mother, he being then but a young man of twenty-five, and as yet not even in social relations with the opposite sex. For years previous to this event Wichern had conceived a plan for the amelioration of the condition of the lower classes. While at the university his mystical tendencies were noted. He frequently gave himself up to practices of great personal self-denial, and he formed an association of young men for self-improvement and religious edification. There was a constant longing for entire and unconditional consecration to God's service in this band, who all recognised the great fact that Christianity is only a truth to those who experience it. An acquaintance with Dr. Julius, then well known as a philanthropist, who had visited England and America in the interests of prison reform, only quickened Wichern in his purposes, and when, on his return from the university to Hamburg, he was placed in charge of a Sabbath-school in the religiously neglected suburbs of St. George, Wichern conceived a plan that shoull enable him to begin the task for which he felt himself called of God. Though poor himself, his father having died while he was yet scarcely out of the years of infancy, and his mother having depended upon him for years, he yet set about to realize his purpose. All the difficulties that arose in his way only acted as fresh incentives to exertion. His enthusiasm knew no restraints nor barriers. Finally he succeeded in interesting the syndic Seiveking, a man of warm heart and full pocketbook. A house upon his estate which was occupied by a gardener was vacated for Wichern as a place in which to try his schemes by actual experiment. It was a small space for so vast an undertaking, but Wichern was quite content to let his enterprise have a small beginning. Full of faith, and encouraged by what was already gained, he made immediate arrangements for the occupancy of the Rauhe Haus (see illustration), small and poor as it was, and however uninviting its little windows, and thatched roof and low ceilings appeared. With the help of a few interested friends, such repairs as were absolutely necessary were made, he entering the premises himself as an inmate. The day of opening mwas marked by the admission of three boys; in a short time the number increased to twelve, and thus humbly began beneath that roof of straw, on the Seiveking estate, a movement for the neglected youth of Germany whose influence is seen and felt not only in that country, but all over the Continent and far beyond it, and whose results can never be estimated by mortal man. A careful examination shows that, so far as the children of the Rauhe Haus alone are concerned, a very moderate estimate gives eighty per cent. of them as saved from what would inevitably have been a life of vice or crime. Describing this most Christian charity, Elihu Burritt says:

"These boys had bleen treated or regarded as a species of human vermin, baffling the power of the autholities to suppress. They had slept under carts, in doorways, herding with swine and cattle by night, when begging or thieving hours were past. Such were the boys that found themselves looking at each other in wonder and surprise the first evening they gathered around the hearth-stone of that cottage-home. There was no illusion about this sudden transformation in their experience. In their midst was that bland, benevolent man, with his kind eyes and voice, looking and speaking to them as a father to his children. And there was his mother, with the law of kindness on her lips, in her looks, in every act and word; and he called her mother, and they call her mother; and the first evening of their common life she became the mother of their love and veneration; and they, ragged, forsaken, hopeless castaways, conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity, became the children of her affection. This cottage, away from the city and its haunts, with its bright fire by night and the little beds under the roof — with its great Bible and little Psalm-books, was to be their home. The great chestnut-tree that threw out its arms over it, and all the little trees, and the ditches, hillocks, and bushes of that acre, were their own ... The feeling of home came warming into their hearts like the emotions of a new existence, as the father spoke to them of our house, our trees, our cabbages, turnips, potatoes, pigs, and geese and ducks, "which we will grow for our comfort." The boys at once set to work. At the end of the first week they had made a year's progress in this new life and its hopes and expectations. The faith that they could do something, be something, and own something grew daily within them. "So eager did they become," says the first report of the institution, "to accomplish the undertaking that they frequently worked by lantern-light in the evening, rooting up bushes and trees, in spite of snow or rain." As the number of pupils increased, and there seemed danger that the size of the family would seriously affect its domestic character, Mr. Wichern divided the compaly into households, containing from twelve to fifteen each — the children themselves, as each new house was required, performing a large part of the work. The first colony, "under the care," as the report says, "of an earnest young disciple of the law of love, who had come from a distance to discipline his heart and life to the regime of kindness, and who had lived in their midst as an elder brother," commenced their separate family life with affecting ceremonies. On a bright Sabbath morning, and in the presence of several hundred friends, the new cottage was dedicated "to the Good Shepherd, through whose love and help twenty-seven boys had already been gathered into a sheltering fold." With numbers and resources increased, new cottages of the same unpretending character were built in a semicircle around the Rough House. Girls were admitted, and separate cottages were constructed for them; and a new building was erected which afforded a more commodious residence for the superintendent, a chapel, kitchen, and other apartments for the general use of the little community, which grew to be quite a village. In 1851 Dr. Burritt found a considerable cottage-village, with workshops, dwelling-houses, a little chapel, a wash- and drying-house, a printing- office, bake-house, and other buildings. There were in all about seventy boys and twenty-five girls, constituting four families of boys and two of girls. Each family-house was under the charge of a superintendent (male or female), assisted by one or more brothers, as they are called — the superintendent being ordinarily a candidate for the ministry. The brothers are young men of the best character, who undergo a training of three or four years, after which they devote themselves to the care of similar institutions now rising all over Germany, quickened into life by this blessed experiment; or they become city missionaries, carrying the Gospel personally to the neglected and wretched. From thirty to forty brothers are inmates of this institution at one time, receiving no remuneration but their living, superintending the industry and aiding in conducting the moral discipline of the establishment. In its daily life this singular village is separated into three important divisions: domestic, educational, and industrial. Each family is to some extent an independent community. The members eat and sleep in their own dwelling, and the children belonging to each look up to their own particular father or mother as home-bred children to a parent. Each household has thus its individual character, its peculiar interest and history, and each bears some name of its own, such as the Beehive, the Dove's-nest, and the like. The bond of union is the loving father at the head of the whole institution; closely drawn by the morning and evening gatherings for prayer in the chapel or mother-house, and the celebration in common of the many festivals of the Church. The superintendents of the several houses meet the chief weekly to render their reports, and to discuss all questions of discipline. In their turn, each separate family visits him once a week in his study; and the record of each member, whether good or bad, is fullly considered and passed upon-any child being admitted, at the close of the interview, to private conference with him, a privilege that is often improved. The children were told at the beginning that labor is the price of living, and that they must earn their own bread if they would enjoy it. Mr. Wichern did not point them to ease and affluence, but to an honorable poverty, which they were taught was not in itself an evil. In illustration of this, the dress, food, and furniture of the cottages are of the simplest character. The secular education given is of the most rudimental description, reaching about the average of the German primary schoolsthree quarters of the weekly recitations being devoted to the study of the Bible Catechism, Church history, and to music. The principal labor, farming, is carefully taught in all its branches; in addition, instruction is given by the brothers in printing and other trades. The boys remain at the Rough House about four years, and the girls five. They are then apprenticed to service, chiefly in the city of Hamburg, whenever the work of redemption is sufficiently confirmed to admit of their exposure again to temptation. But it must not be inferred from the duration of their term of reform that the Rough House holds its inmates by force. As they come voluntarily, so they stay until dismissed by their own choice. The simple means relied upon for the accomplishment of this great reform work are prayer, the Bible, singing, affectionate conversation, severe punishment when unavoidable, and constant, steady employment in useful labor. "In a peculiar manner," says Dr. Peirce, "Wichern relied upon the Word of God. He made the whole Bible the familiar companion and food of the pupil. The whole Scripture was made to open to their minds, in an impressive series of readings, like a mine of priceless metal — reaching a climax in the Evangel of the New Testament. The thought that, miserable, wicked, despised as they were, Christ, the Son of God, loved them-loved them enough to suffer and die for them, and still loved them-melted their hearts, and gave them both hope and a strong incentive to reformation." As the Rauhe Haus is now constituted, it is partly a refuge for morally neglected children, partly a boarding-school for the moral and intellectual education of those children of the higher classes whose vicious or unmanageable character makes them fit subjects for training by such competent hands as the Rauhe Haus superintendents; lastly, a training-

school for those who wish to become teachers or officials in houses of correction hospitals, etc., in promotion of the objects of the Home Mission. This is an especially important enterprise, Its trained men are employed in positions of trust, such as prison directors, stewards of estates, and superintendents of charitable houses. It was founded in 1845, and is a kind of conventual house. Entrance into this institution is limited to the age of twienty to thirty. Besides religious belief and good character, freedom from military duties, bodily and mental health, some scholastic acquirements, and a knowledge of some craft or of agriculture are required. The boarding-school was established in 1851, and at the same time a seminary was founded, in which twelve brethren of the Rauhe Haus are especially prepared for school-work. A printing-office, a bookbinder's shop, and bookselling, form part of the institution also. The last named has its principal depot at Hamburg, and from it trade with all Germany has been opened. The Rauhe Haus has brought out numerous publications, and all these enjoy a very large sale. A monthly periodical called Fliegende Blatter, devoted to the Inner Mission, is printed, edited, and circulated by the Rauhe Haus. It may be added also that during the recent German wars the inmates furnished the principal organizers of what was like our "Sanitary Commission" in the war with the South. Dr. Wichern is still living as we write (1878), but he has retired from all active connection with the Rauhe Haus. See Amer. Education. Monthly, Jan. 1868, art. i; (Luth.) Ev. Quar. Rev. Jan. 1874, p. 129; National Repository, Dec. 1878, art. iii; Hurst's Hagenbach, Church Hist. of the 18th and 19th Centuries (see Index).

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