Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/353

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347
THE MINISTER'S SON
I was ever of opinion that the honest man who married, and brought up a large family, did more service than he who continued single and only talked of population; from this motive I had scarcely taken orders a year before I chose my wife as she did her wedding gown, not for a fine glossy face, but for such qualities as would wear well.

With such serious purpose and intent the founders of clerical households have exalted religion and adorned society. Goethe, when a young man, fell in love with Frederike Brion, the attractive daughter of the pastor at Sessenhiem. It was the purest and strongest love of his passionate career, and his intimate knowledge of the life of that clerical household led him to write:

A Protestant country pastor is perhaps the most beautiful topic for a modern idyl; he appears like Melchizedek, as priest and king in one person. He is usually associated by occupation and outward condition with the most innocent conceivable estate on earth, that of the farmer; he is father, master of his house, and thoroughly identified with his congregation. On this pure, beautiful, earthly foundation rests his higher vocation: to introduce men into life, to care for their spiritual education, to bless, to instruct, to strengthen, to comfort them in all the epochs of life, and, if the comfort for the present is not sufficient, to cheer them with the assured hope of a more happy future.

"The one idyl of modern life" Coleridge termed the ministerial family life, and Wordsworth thought it worthy of praise in his "Ecclesiastical Sonnets," where he sings,

A genial hearth, a hospitable board,
And a refined rusticity, belong
To the neat mansion, where, his flock among,
The learned Pastor dwells, their watchful Lord.

In 1750, Justus Möser calculated that in the two centuries after the reformation, more than ten millions of human beings in all lands owed their existence to the clerical family. In the century and a half since he made his estimate the number have very likely trebled. And what influence have these millions of ministers' children exerted upon civilization? To judge of this a brief study of eminent names in Protestant countries is most illuminating.

In the "Dictionary of National Biography," England, there are 1,270 names of eminent men who were sons of clergymen. There are 510 names of famous men who were sons of lawyers, and 350 who were sons of physicians. In this single compilation of great names in English history there are 410 more sons of ministers than sons of doctors and lawyers together. In a recent issue of "Who's Who," for America, out of nearly 12,000 names, almost 1,000 are sons of clergymen, a number out of all proportion to the whole number of ministers in the population of the country. According to that standard, there should have been not more than fifty of these famous men the sons of clergymen.

Time would fail to tell of all the notable men in all departments of human activity who were sons of ministers. We mention only a few