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[*] posted on 4-4-2016 at 05:06 AM
Serbske Nowiny: 1856


January 26, p. 26-27: Wobrasy s jendželskeje Ameriki. Translated from Upper Sorbian by Gerald Stone.

Scenes from English America.

I recently met a friend unexpectedly in the house of his family. He has been living in western Canada, a country that belongs to England and lies further north than the free American states. I have frequently corresponded with him. He has now returned for a while from America to Europe, accompanied by a fine fellow, namely, a tame raccoon (Waschbär, procyon lotor).

This pretty and tame animal gave me and a number of other people present a lot of fun, and, because its owner likes to talk to people about it, I recommend to anyone who wants to know about America a visit to Mr C. Nöcker in Hochkirch. Because Mr Nöcker had previously written to me on a great many matters, including his acquisition of the aforementioned raccoon, I asked his permission to publish his letters in Serbske Nowiny. He kindly gave his consent and so I shall soon have them printed.

First scene. Hunting in west Canada. – Dear Friend, you wanted to hear something about hunting here and I would like to tell you something thrilling, but hunting here is no longer very thrilling. The brown bear, the ruler of the wild, left these parts long ago. He fled from the rifle and from the noise made by the new settlers with their axes before they burned one piece of ground after another. Only his little brother, the agile raccoon, has been left behind in the isolation of the forest. And the deer? Well, these poor, timid creatures too have moved further into the interior, because their habitat was being constantly destroyed and their young constantly killed. Now you will not see more than 5 of them together or at most 10. Between 20 and 30 miles from our house a cunning and patient rifleman can catch them, but his shadow or his hasty step on rotten wood may drive the whole herd through the fallen trees and low bushes or through the bright lakes into the deepest forest. Only rarely you may see deer brought in for sale; formerly you would pay 2 dollars, but now 8 or 10, and they are no bigger than a sturdy small roe. From this you can see that here too venison is a meat only for wealthy people. Roe deer (Reh) do not exist at all here, being replaced by big deer (Hirsch), but these, as I said, are not much bigger than roes. There are no wild boar here, but many domestic pigs, which often, having been put out to pasture, have become like the wildest boars. (To be continued.).

Editor’s note. Today we were able only to give you this small extract. In a week’s time we shall publish a large portion of the same thing.

February 2, p. 35-36: Continuation of Wobrasy s jendželskeje Ameriki.

Scenes from English America.
By C. Nöcker of Hochkirch.

First scene. Hunting in western Canada (continued). As for hares, there is nothing to say; these miserable white-grey little creatures are more like mangy cats than the animal with the same name in Europe. People have told me that the hares here get their white colour only at the beginning of winter, and that in summer and autumn they have a colour more like those in Europe. Apparently, nature gives these poor little creatures a sure protection against the persecution of human beings by dressing them in white every winter. It has even happened to me that I failed to notice a cowering hare. – There is plenty of poultry, including about 12 kinds of duck, but the partridges are much smaller than those you have in Europe, about the size of a quail and they are called perdriges.

But I really wanted to tell you about a Canadian hunt. One evening we were sitting with our inn-keeper, whom we call Father Jahn, in his back room, and we were eagerly tasting some Bavarian beer which our solicitous host had had brought specially for us from New York. I want to write to you another time about Father Jahn and his children or sons, but today I shall only mention the fact that a ‘son’ is the name given to every guest who deposits a shilling or more with him and we were his favourite sons. We had the right to sit in his special room; we drank only from Bavarian beer-mugs; we were the first to get the secret news that fresh oysters had arrived; we also often had that pleasure that our dear Father Jahn would also slip 3 or 4 of the biggest oysters from a deserved dozen into his insatiable belly. But for all these rights Jahn gladly took our money and he never took less than a little of it. On the other hand, he did make possible for us all kinds of necessary impossible things; and that stout, round Jahn once even went on a hunt with us. With us? But who were we? Well, a crowd of jolly young Germans. The president, so called, was an editor, born in Saxony. He was a great Nimrod, for whom all the ducks fell into the water, from which, because of his polished boots, he could never retrieve them. His Diana, a fine black [Censored], was so well trained that she knew how to gobble up with skill the kidneys of suspended calves; but the idea never entered her head that she should go into the water, probably because she feared catching a cold. Yet she could chase a flock of sheep over hills and dales until they fled into a farmyard. I deliver this eulogy in Diana’s honour, because she was our only hunting dog and, as our friend L .... nn asserted, also trained. – After him I must mention his printer, who for a long time had lived in New York and a year earlier had come to Canada with his Augusta and several children in order to surprise us poor, uneducated Canadians with his beard and glasses. He could tell us immense, unbelievable things, and did not mind if we consequently made fun of him.

No. 3. A carpenter, 3 ells tall, a fine young man of 25 years. He had come from South America and could talk a lot about the soft life of young ladies there. According to his tales, every young lady has two slave-girls, who stand before her bed and fan her with a fan made of ostrich feathers and so they keep the blood-thirsty mosquitoes away. He was a bold marksman, but always with a borrowed gun.

No. 4. A man from Kentucky, who had been living in Louisville and had a big brewery there. In a fight, involving some drunken customers, he had shot an American with a revolver who had attacked him. So he had to flee and came to Canada. He was a good huntsman and a few days earlier had shown us a deer he had shot.

No. 5. This was me, whom you know. When I was in the army I had the honour to be the best shot in the regiment, but as a huntsman I could not say that of myself. When, a few years ago, freedom to hunt was proclaimed in Saxony, I bought myself a double-barrelled gun from Hóltsch in B., but in our region I was only able to shoot one young partridge. It probably had not realized that I was so skilful and so had to pay for that with a damaged wing. I easily retrieved it and killed it. Another time on a hunt I fired shot into the boot of a neighbour and another said he had heard a whistling sound beside his ears. A hare, however, at which I was aiming, had escaped. (To be continued.)

February 9, 43-44: Continuation of Wobrasy s jendželskeje Ameriki.

Scenes from English America
by C. Nöcker of Hochkirch

First scene. Hunting in western Canada. Although our society had over twenty members, I do not intend to describe every individual, because I want to speak of a hunt and those who most influenced it were those I have described in Serb. Now. no. 5.
One evening my friend Spitznagel brought news that he had seen a huge flock of wild pigeons and that they had settled down in a nearby wood. These wild or wandering pigeons often come through our country in flocks of many thousands and look for wheat seeds. Because this makes them very fat they are very welcome creatures. But in 1855 very few of them had come, so we could scarcely believe the news that such a big flock had arrived. But it was resolved under Spitznagel’s leadership to go on a pigeon hunt.

Because you must, if possible, catch these pigeons asleep, to get a decent result, we decided to set out at 4 o’clock in the morning. – At the appointed time we were all in Jahn’s inn and each one of us equipped himself with a bottle of Curaçao. Because I usually had my meals at Father Jahn’s, I was given a cold breakfast to take with me and Jahn attached himself to me, whether from personal attachment or because of the breakfast I had taken with me, I don’t know. Moreover, my bottle of schnapps was a bit bigger. We set out; the weather promised to be fine; the night had been cold and the mist was rising in great clouds over the lake stretching before us and separating us from the meadow. It was preferable not to go through this meadow owing to the long shadows and because the turf was permeable, although we knew there were great hordes of ducks there. We did not want to shoot them, because that would have woken the pigeons and driven them away. But our friend the printer was disobedient. He wanted at least to see how close he could get to the lake and had therefore separated himself from us. As we five, smoking our pipes, approached the woods, where Spitznagel was, where he pointed out a place for each of us, we heard a noise and saw an enormous hawk flying out of the shadow and hurrying towards the woods. The printer had surprised him at his breakfast and fired at him, but the pigeon shot, it seems, had failed to harm him.

Soon we were in the woods; they were still fairly damp and misty. The forests in Canada are magnificent: beeches, oaks, maples, cedars, elms, all kinds of nut-tree and other trees stand together in a fresh, mixed selection. They look their best in autumn, when the leaves are coloured. The maple with its purple-red leaves is beautifully distinguished from the dark green elms, fawn-coloured oaks, and from the [unknown word] needles of the so-called weeping spruce. Moreover, a forest like this is in a constant state of dying and being reborn. Trees of impossible girth and height lie rotting, fertilizing with their huge corpses the new growth, as it raises itself freshly and joyfully. But hunting in forests like these is difficult; you must constantly be climbing over these gigantic trees or looking for a place to crawl under them. Often the fallen trees serve as nature’s bridges over peacefully and brightly flowing streams and the huntsman frequently looks for one of these fallen trees to help him reach the other bank. Your foot may break through the bark of a tree that still looks firm but whose appearance deceives the hunter.

On arriving in the woods where our friend had seen the pigeons the previous day, we proceeded quietly, but nothing moved except some young pigeons that had been left behind. The others had flown away, probably frightened by the printer’s shot. From the feathers and droppings we could see that there had been a great number of them. Because our plans had been frustrated, we were obliged to decide to look for some other prey. Though it was still early morning, the woods were beginning to come to life. Various woodpeckers were beginning their noisy work, the fence mice, as a kind of little squirrel is called, raising their whistling, black squirrels (a kind of squirrel, but black and as big as a cat) were also making themselves heard. Father Jahn had taken off his coat and was hunting wearing only his shirt and trousers. We had already made good use of our bottles and we still had the whole day before us. We agreed that we would whistle from time to time, so as not to lose contact, and then we all entered the primeval forest. To begin with all went well, but when you are concentrating on squirrels and other animals and thinking only of this, you can soon become separated. Only Father Jahn remained firmly attached to me and did not leave me. We (or rather I) had so far bagged some black squirrels, for Father Jahn’s laziness did not allow him to chase after these shy creatures, which with an incredible speed rush across the tops of ten or twelve trees. So you have to trick them with cunning and make the same noises as they make. When you do that, they reply and you can easily find them. While we were crawling through an overgrown pine thicket, Jahn fired and I saw a great hawk fly up. It could not get much further owing to the dense tree canopies, so I quickly fired at it and it fell to the ground. But it was not yet dead and with a great effort we managed to put a rope around its neck. It was resisting with beak and claws, so for a long time we did not approach it. It lived for several hours and when I approached it, it snatched my coat from my huntsman’s pouch.

After a long time wandering around I had lost my friend Jahn. Because he was tired he had lain down in a pleasant, shady spot and quietly fallen asleep. An hour after the other hunters, he came home covered in sweat and half dead. (To be continued).

February 16, p. 51-52: Continuation and conclusion of Wobrasy s jendželskeje Ameriki.

Continuation and conclusion.
Scenes from English America by C. Nöcker of Hochkirch.

First scene. A hunt in western Canada (conclusion). Then I heard firing nearby and saw one of our huntsmen. “A good thing I found you,” he said, “I know a pond near here, where I have often shot ducks. Let’s go there.” So that is what we did and after a long search we came to the pond. It was not big and was overgrown with very big trees. My friend shot a black diving bird there. But how were we to recover it? After a time we found a raft made of a few trees, and we floated on as far as the diving bird, so that we could get hold of it, though it was actually worthless. When we had picked it up, we made for the other shore of the pond, where we were met by the chatter of so-called bluebirds. As I was trying to climb along a fallen tree over a ditch, I slipped and fell up to my waist in a swamp, so that, after I had forded my way out of it, I looked very much like an animal that likes to wallow in mud.

It was already around midday and my breakfast had been ruined, which displeased me greatly. The bluebirds were inviting us ever deeper into the woods and I eventually sat down and lit my pipe, but my friend, unweakened, chased after some pheasants. While I was resting, I saw a fine red fox creeping towards the water. I fired at it and hit it so squarely that it moved only a couple steps further. And then my friend came up bearing three pheasants.

But now we could no longer bear our hunger and thirst, so we set off for home. I had a heavy load, because, in addition to the five black squirrels, I had burdened myself with the fox and various woodpeckers and a few bluebirds. These I intended to stuff and send to a friend in Europe. When we had been walking through the woods for about an hour, we heard chopping and barking, and before long we came out into an opening in the woods, where the trees had only recently been cleared. There were already a few cultivated fields, where probably wheat had been sown. In the middle of the virgin soil stood stood a so-called blockhouse with a kind of barn. Wretched though this habitation made of trees appeared to us, its appearance was a joyful sight to us, because we hoped that here we might get something to eat and drink. We climbed over the fence and opened the door straight into the living-room. In the room was a crowd of children and a housewife, who was breast-feeding her youngest child. I knew her from Berlin and she fulfilled our request for food and drink as well as she could. A piece of pickled fat ham and a piece of dry bread and a glass of water tasted better to us than the most wonderful food in the smartest inn. We then continued our journey homeward and on the way we met our friend Spitznagel and the printer, who had made a pretty good haul. But everyone’s clothes were badly torn, so we sat for an hour in Jahn’s inn patching and repairing them. Meanwhile, at last Father Jahn arrived and was welcomed with great mockery.

The last to arrive was our Kentucky friend and he had shot about 20 black squirrels. He said he had found several raccoons and urged us to go back with him, but we were all very tired, except me, so finally I agreed to go with him. The inn-keeper’s servant was sent immediately to a neighbour for a dog that was trained for raccoons. We set out at two o’clock in the morning and found the tree where the raccoons were hiding. We started to chop it down, but it was two hours before it fell. Four raccoons jumped out of it. An old one was shot, another caught by our dog, which began to kill it, but the servant took it from the dog and gave it to me, so the dog caught the third and quickly killed it. The fourth raccoon escaped.

I carried my young raccoon home in a piece of cloth, although it used its teeth fiercely and, once tied to a light chain, it soon became tame.

Editor’s note: This raccoon is the very same one that Mr C. Nöcker brought with him live from America to Hochkirch and still has here to this day.

March 5, p. 76-77: Amerikanski list.

March 15, p. 82-83: Continuation of Amerikanski list.

March 22, p. 91-92: Continuation of Amerikanski list.

March 29, p. 101: Continuation and conclusion of Amerikanski list.

May 24; p. 162-163: Australiski list.

An Australian letter.

Editorial note: The Bautzen merchant Mr J. G. F. Nieksch has received the following letter from Australia. It is at his house, where it can be read, but at the request of his correspondents he has sent it to us, and we are therefore publishing it here. This is what it says:

Adelaide, 13 February 1856. Hearty greetings to you all from a distant land! Dear Mr Nieksch, we promised you that we would write from Australia and so we now permit ourselves to burden you with this letter, because an important incident has occurred, which we wish to bring to the attention of our Wendish friends. This important – though unfortunately sad – matter concerns two Wends, namely Jan Swora and Handrij Ponich.

You may already know that the aforementioned Jan Swora has founded a Wendish parish in Australia, which is called ‘Eben-Ezer, the Wendish Israel.’ In this parish he is the high priest and in it they have their new church order and, among other things, Jewish circumcision. So this high priest wanted to perform circumcision also on a man whom probably many of you know. It was Handrij Kowar of Cortnitz. But he resisted with all his might, fled from Eben-Ezer, hurried to Adelaide, and revealed everything to the authorities there. They discovered that he, as high priest, had carried out his sacred (!) act on everybody who had been referred to him by the Eben-Ezer chief justice; and to the question who that chief justice was they said it was Handrij Ponich, and when the authorities wished to know who had appointed him chief justice, they replied that he had been elected by the parish.

The provincial high court thereupon sentenced Handrij Ponich to a fine of £1,500 sterling or 20 years hard labour (class one), and Jan Swora, for blasphemy against Christianity, to a fine of £2,000 sterling or 25 years hard labour (class one).

It is very sad that we should live to see such things happen to our countrymen. The Eben-Ezer parish is now making every effort to raise the money to rescue these two unfortunates from this terrible punishment. It has therefore mortgaged all its property, but so far has raised only £2,000.

The old widow Haupt has been begging her living for over two years, because Swora has squandered her property.

Today, when the hearing of the Swora and Ponich case came fully to our knowledge, we also heard why their punishment was so severe. The Eben-Ezer judges had condemned Kowar, who would not submit to circumcision, to be stoned, but in the night before the day when he was to lose his life he escaped from prison and went to Adelaide.

The horrors which have happened to our Wendish brothers, who moved to Eben-Ezer, are fearful.

As a warning to others, have this letter printed in Serbske Nowiny, so that everyone who comes to Eben-Ezer, can be on his guard against the madmen there.

Give our good wishes to all out friends and acquaintances, especially Rev. Bróska in Kleinbautzen, the tailor Deutscher in Doberschau, Jan Deutscher in Großdöbschütz, Rev. Wjazka in Bautzen, Pjetsch (Kunat) in Steinstraße, and all our friends, close and distant.

The signatories are: Michael Pilack, Traugott Jähne from Seidau, Peter Janasch, Jurij Bódlink, Martin Sieber, Jan Krušwica, and Handrij Měrćink.

August 9, p. 250-251: Australiski list.

An Australian letter.
From M. A. Deutscher.

Hamilton, Portland-Bay, Australia, Victoria, 7 March 1856. Many thousand greetings to our deeply loved parents and parents-in-law with our most heartfelt wish that this letter finds you in good health. We, thank God, are still well. Dear Father, we received your letter of 15 June 1851 through H. Ponich with the gift from our sister in Purschwitz, which especially made us happy. You write in your letter that it makes you sad, when letters arrive from Australia, but there is not one among them for you. But because we are not very good at writing letters it will always remain like that, and we think that you learn from my brother’s letter that – thank God – we are getting on well. In 1853 we had someone write to you that we had bought a bit of land in the Portland region on the River Greenwich, close to the town of Hamilton and only a quarter of an hour away from it. We have been living here for over two years and we like it very much. Our bit of land is very good and is 25 English acres or 35 Saxon bushels in size and I paid £215 sterling (about 1,400 thalers) for it and all in cash. My land borders to the east with my brother’s fields, to the south with the Melbourne Road, to the west with the town, and to the north with the River Greenwich. Along the river I have a piece of fine meadow, then there is a hill, then a fine garden as far as the house, in which we grow lettuce, cucumbers, onions, and carrots. There are also fruit trees growing well there and vines. My massive house I built myself and built it well too. I have some livestock now: 1 horse, 4 milch cows, 2 heifers, 3 calves, and 4 pigs. I sowed 8 bushels of wheat (a bushel is 60 pounds) and from that I have harvested 200 bushels. I shall use 40 bushels myself, so I have 160 bushels for sale; 1 bushel costs 3 thalers and 8 new silver groschen in the town. (conclusion to follow).

August 16, p. 259-260: Continuation of Australiski list.

An Australian letter
from M. A. Deutscher

Some time ago a few people from the Hochkirch parish visited us, like P. Kschiżank and K. Schlamaŕ from Rodewitz, but of you, dear parents, they brought us no news, though we earnestly desired to know how you are and whether you are still living. A. Ponich told us that our sister-in-law and sister Madlena intended to come to see us in Australia, which would make us very happy and we think nobody would regret that. And if anyone of our relatives should want to come here, let him do so in God’s name, because workers here earn more than they do where you are. For the sea journey everyone should bring with him some baked things and some bread, because the stomach finds it hard to get used to the ship’s biscuit. Beloved father and mother, because the Lord God has so blessed me with wordly goods that I could feed you well here, if only you were here with me, I have worked out how I might compensate you and therefore I send you a little support, namely a draft on a London bank for £10 sterling, which is 66 thalers and 20 new silver groschen. You can change it with any money changer for money, but you must sign your name on it. I have sent three such drafts, but you will get the money only from one. Now I am sending the first and later the second, so that perhaps one at least will come into your hands. But, dear father, write to me soon, please, so that I know whether I am to send the third. I don’t want to send it before I think your letter might be here, if you were to write me one.

Write to me to tell me if you are all alive and well and what else has happened among you and whether Peter is still a soldier. Finally, I want to mention that if any of you decide to come to Portland Bay, you should arrange with the captain for him to let you land here. It is better than if you have to get here yourself from Adelaide or Melbourne, though steamers do come here every week. So now I shall end my letter with the most heartfelt wish that our dear heavenly father should spread his grace richly over you. Sometimes I am very sad that I cannot show myself more grateful to you; I greatly desire to have you yet beside me in this life and to show with deeds my thanks for your love. But if that should not be possible on this earth, that we could now already be united in love with our dear saviour, if we one day all, after this life, all of us who love Christ, see one another again in heavenly joy and rejoice eternally together. Many hearty greetings to my father and mother, brothers and sisters. We remain in cordial love your Handrij Deutscher and Hańža Deutscherka.

Note: The letters you send me must have this address: M. A. Deutscher, Hamilton, Portland Bay, Australia, Victoria.

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