The Life and Experiences of a Layman by Charles Boller

Pages 28 - 32


9. A Remarkable Experience
Shipwreck in the Year 1882

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It was on my return trip from Germany in the year 1882 in the English Channel at Lizzard Point. The ship was called the Mosel by the German branch of Loyd Associates. It was an absolutely beautiful morning. The sun was clear and bright at 8 o'clock. Then a fog enveloped us and it seemed to be about 12 feet above us. Since there was a bishop in our company I asked him whether it was white bone or large stones we were seeing above on the 200 foot cliff. Should we be sailing so close to these rocks? A minute later and a foghorn blew, "Get back, get back!" A moment later there was a mighty crash. The steamship had a hole of approximately twelve feet and after two convulsive quakes the aft section of the magnificent boat sank into the sea. Approximately thirty feet of the forward section of the ship rested on the rocks thus stranding it. The ship was heavy with cargo such as fine linen. What an indescribable scene! The masts, the stacks, all the people lying


on the top deck like flies crying and praying; in our minds we all saw our graves in the depths of the sea.

Above on the 200 foot high coast there was a rescue station and a telegraph station. Within an hour people in Buffalo must have known that the proud Mosel was shipwrecked. They took us back eighteen miles to the city of Falmouth, population 18,000, and we stayed there until another ship from Bremen was sent. Those among us in first and second class were quartered in the largest hotels in the city. The people of the city were very polite to us and I told this to the Sea Captain."Yes," he said, "that's the way the wheat grows when approximately two thousand people spend a week or two in the city; then the people leave money, a great deal of money."

When the steamship "Blücher" ran aground only two miles from where the Mosel was stranded, the people around the bay had a large harvest. It is a fact that in this region more ships have run aground than in any other region. It's said that many residents in this region live


off the proceeds of ship strandings. The grounding of the steamship "Blücher" caused about three thousand deaths with only five persons being saved. The residents of this region teach their children to pray when they go to bed, "Heavenly Father, bless Papa and Mamma, and send a ship ashore before morning."

We stayed in this region over a Sunday and found an excellent Sunday school which very graciously took us in so I had to deliver an English address to them. In the remaining time we took up a collection for the poor stern passengers who had lost everything. Oh what an unforgettable sight we saw at the sinking of the ship! It was the same for the Apostle Paul, who endured a shipwreck. The ship was lost but we all lived. Praise be to God!.

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10. Sudden Conversion described as Quick Bleaching

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When I was in Germany for the second time in 1887 I was in Baden-Baden, which is unbearably hot in July, with a religious pamphlet vendor by the name of Weiss.


I went with him to the Black Forest near Hornberg, where he lived, and I stayed four weeks with him. On evenings and Sundays he held meetings. The first Sunday evening he had a meeting in the large orphanage in Hornberg and I went with him. At the close of this first meeting he said, "The American brother will now pray with us."

As they sang the blessing he made it known that next Sunday evening the American brother would lead the meeting. "Listen to me, Mr. Weiss, how did you come to the idea that I would lead the meeting?" I asked him. "Next Sunday evening the American brother will lead the meeting," he repeated and added, "Tell everyone and bring them along." I had never said a word about such a thing with him. He did not know who and what I was and during my stay with them the people only knew me as "the American brother."

On Monday morning I took a book from his library and brought it with me into the wondrous pine forest, which was near his house. As I entered the forest and


looked at the magnificent giant pines the words of the poet came to mind:
               O Forest, as beautiful as you are,
               Life under your canope is fine!"

Now there was a well-worn path in the forest which led to a high peak where a beautiful hut with simple benchs could be seen and where one could read the placque "The Sighing Cabin."

Here in the balsalmic atmosphere of the Black Forest I spent four weeks-worth of mornings and afternoons. The heavens seemed closer to me here that in any other place in Germany.

Wonderful! The cabin has the right name, "the Sighing Cabin." As soon as stepped into it I sighed, "O Lord, what shall I say to the many people next Sunday evening. Grant me an understanding and a passage so that I can bear witness to you before strangers, O beloved Savior, and thus be to their benefit and well-being." Then I sat down on a sighing-bench, took my book to hand and began to read. I came to a passage where I read: "Get away from me with tracts and pamphlets from Methodists and similar sects which preach so-called quick-bleaching conversion.


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Text provided by Lockwood Library, State University of New York at Buffalo, BX8080.B65

Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks