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follows of course. I have felt myself impelled to write these two or three words, as I have not time for more. May God help us!
“ With sincere respect,” &c. Münster, May 4, 1824."
“I need not assure your reverence what great delight I have received from what you write to me on the 15th of August, as you must already be fully couvinced of that. I have so long delayed thanking you for giving me this delight, by reason of my having fallen ill a few days before the receipt of the joyful report. I continued ill for some time, and then, while yet weak, I had to begin the instruction in the normal school, on the 23rd of last month ; which so exhausted both my time and my strength, that every thing which did not demand immediate attention had to lie still. I am now tolerably well again, but yet I have not fully recruited my strength: this will return, if and when the Lord pleases. In regard to the seminary at Büren, I have nothing more to desire, but that it may be speedily opened, and that the Lord may grant to your reverence health and strength to preside over it for a long course of years. This is my heart's desire, and prayer to God. I am," &c.
"Münster, September 26, 1824."
The seminary at Büren was opened in May, 1825, and the first pupils were set forth from it at Easter, 1827, after a course of two years training. From that period, all who would wish to be schoolmasters, have had to be instructed in the seminary, or at least be examined there. The Normal course in the autumn of 1826, was thus to be regarded as the last one. At this time Overberg said to a friend, "I now can die in peace; the seminary at Büren takes my place." There existed, indeed, as yet, no establishment for schoolmistresses; the forming one, however, was already resolved upon. Besides, so many female candidates had, during the last years, attended the normal instruction, and received approbation, that their number appeared sufficient to supply all the vacant places for schoolmistresses, which would offer for many years to come.
Overberg gave the normal course in the autumn of 1826, with his accustomed zeal; only his increasing ill health had obliged him to leave the instruction in the science of education to Mr. Hölling, the vicerector, and to reserve for himself nothing but the instruction in religion. During the course itself he was making his last preparations for depar
ture from the world. It was discovered, after his death, that within this time he had either written out again, or altered, or at least put a new date to his last will and testament. Altogether, he worked and wrote a great deal, looked over his books and papers, and, in a manner, made a reckoning with himself. Four weeks before his death he wrote a note to Mr. Natorp, one of the chief counsellors of the consistory, which he preserved as a memorial of his delicate conscientiousness. The schoolmasters of Münsterland, at the time of their entering upon their office, received an indemnification for the expenses incurred by their attendance on the normal school, from the funds appropriated to the augmentation of the salaries of masters in the district. The evangelical schoolmasters of the county of Tecklenburg had not received this indemnification, as they were trained in the seminary at Soest, and their expenses were paid, as far as they had need of help, from the funds of that seminary. Now, since the district of Tecklenburg contributed to the augmentation fund, in the same proportion as the other districts, it had already been taken into consideration, at the suggestion of Overberg, to grant a compensation to the schools of Tecklenburg, on account of their masters not receiving their expenses. This was done with arithmetical accuracy; and Overberg made out an account in detail, of the mode in which the augmentation fund was distributed. However, in looking over this, in the last years of his life, he conceived that the schools of Tecklenburg might have suffered some trifling disadvantage in the distribution, and therefore he begged Mr. Nathorp to set this straight, and for this purpose to look over his accounts, in case he should not himself live till the next distribution.
At the same time he called to him Mr. Vicar Bullenhar, his assistant in the normal instruction, and said to him: “I shall soon die, and yet have something to say to you.” Bullenhar was greatly moved, and could not contain his tears. “Do not be troubled," continued Overberg, “we must one day part, after all : sit down.” He then spoke of the property which he left behind him, and of what should be done with it after his death. Among other things, in reference to the office which they had held together, he remarked to him, that for the future, according to what was prescribed in the regulations for schools, the schoolmasters were to be examined every three years, as had formerly been done.
Overberg went through the normal course, without faltering, to its termination. He concluded it on the seventh of November, with the words, “Now let us put all things into the hands of our good God."
He bid farewell to his scholars, who could have no idea that they should never again see him alive, but should see his body already in the coffin within three days. The examination was to take place on the eighth and ninth, yet it was not appointed for him to conduct it, as he had done for forty-three years. These two days were granted him, only that, upon his sick-bed, he might complete his preparation for death. On the seventh, in the evening, about half-past seven, unusually cheerful and merry: at nine o'clock he said night-prayers, as usual, with the seminarists, and dictated to them the matter for their meditation the next morning. He was arrived, in the course of these meditations, exactly to the duty of the pastor, to visit often the schools of his parish. It was a remarkable coincidence, that he found occasion, on bis last evening, to deliver his sentiments once more, on this subject, which, through his whole life, had lain most near his heart. Here follows, word for word, what he dictated to the seminarists :
THE UTILITY OF FREQUENT VISITS TO THE SCHOOLS, ON THE PART
OF A PARISH PRIEST.
1. It stirs up the zeal of masters: of one master, because he fears the priest, or whoever comes in his name; of another, because he wishes to give pleasure to his priest; of a third, because
hird, because he wishes to put his school into good order,—and the frequent visits of the priest encourage him the more to hope that he will gain his end.
2. It encourages also the children to regularity, diligence, and good conduct, because among these also, some fear the priest, some strive to please him, some take pleasure in learning from him. By these visits, if they are made in the right manner,-and the master knows well how to avail himself of them,-punishments may be made unnecessary. If the master says to the good scholars, “ This will please the pastor, when he comes again to the school,” this will make them go on with joy in their good conduct. If he says to the others, “What will the pastor say when he hears of this ?" it will be a motive for improvement, at least in some.
3. Frequent visiting of the school gains the pastor more love and confidence on the part of the children, and thus helps him to acquire a better knowledge of them. Both these effects are highly advantageous. Experience will prove, even after the first visit, how much the practice of visiting the school, when it is done in a proper manner, wins the love and confidence of the children.
4. It gains for the priest the love and confidence of the whole parish,
and generally, as experience teaches, more than his other functions. The reason of this may be: first, that parents often set a higher value on benefits done to their children, than on what they receive immediately themselves ; secondly, that the parishioners will generally consider the other performances of the priest, such as hearing confessions, or preaching, as functions of his office for which he is paid; but his visiting the school, they will regard as an effect of his love for the children, and of his zeal for souls.
5. Diligent visiting of schools by a priest is the best means for detecting and removing the deficiencies and faults which so easily creep into schools.
APPLICATION. I therefore shall be most culpable, if I, as a priest, neglect this most useful practice of visiting schools; but peculiarly culpable in our diocese, where the frequent visiting of schools is repeatedly enjoined on parish priests by synodal decrees, and other regulations.
When Overberg had dictated the above, and had, according to his custom, yet farther enlarged on each point separately, he rose up,
and was about to depart, but sat down again, and related the following story:
“While I was still chaplain at Everswinkel, a neighbouring very worthy priest, who, besides the diligent fulfilment of all the other duties of his state, had paid particular attention to the school, and had visited it three or four times a-week, fell ill. Thinking his death approaching, he sent to call for me in the night, not to make a confession (for he had already received the holy sacraments), but that he might have a priest at his side in his last moments. His confessor was an old man, and could not come to him by night. I found him weak, but in the full possession of his faculties; he spoke of his end, and of the judgment of God, before which he was soon to stand. 'I have,' said he,' endeavoured to fulfil all the duties of my calling with the utmost possible fidelity ; I trust in the mercy of God, and do not fear the judgment. It is only the school, for which I have not exerted myself as much as I could have done, and this alone makes me fear. I sought to console him on this point, by remarking how often he had visited the school. He answered me, that he had not made his visits to the school
* Among Overberg's papers were found a complete series of meditations, which perhaps will be published in due time.
so useful as they might have been, and was, on this account, in great anxiety. He got well again, and lived three years more, during which time he believed he had corrected the defect, of which he then had accused himself. This pastor," added Overberg," was known to me as one most zealous in the care of souls; I also knew that he often visited his school. Now, as notwithstanding all this, he made himself these reproaches, it produced so strong an impression on me, that I renewed my resolution that night, to spare no exertions which might seem necessary or profitable for the good of school children. The recollection of this occurrence has often encouraged me when I have been moved to impatience by the fruitlessness, as it often appears, of one's exertions about children. If you will do the like, all will go on well. Good night."
Thus Overberg left the seminarists, and retired to rest. When the servant went to call hiin the next morning, he found him half dressed, powerless, and without his senses, lying on the sofa. His head hung downwards to the ground. The servant took him for dead, called in the seminarists, and then laid him in his bed; after which he soon came to himself again. He had slept through the night, had got up, and had swooned while he was dressing. When asked how he was, he answered, “I am very ill.” Two physicians were called in. They judged his complaint to be his usual spasms in the chest, ordered remedies, and gave hopes of his speedy recovery. “ We must try all means,” was Overberg's reply. The physician whom he usually consulted, Dr. Druffel, counsellor of the college of physicans, ordered him, as he went away, to keep himself from all reflection on serious matters. “Yes,' answered Overberg, “my time for studying philosophy is gone by.” His state of health did not materially alter during the day, and appeared doubtful. When he got up from his bed, towards evening, a fainting fit came upon him, or rather a torpor, during which he continued for five minutes apparently without breath, with his hands raised, his mouth half open, and his eyes fixed upwards. When he had again come to himself, and had been taken to the bed, Mr. Bullenhar reminded him of the receiving of the holy sacraments. He was at once prepared for it; and called for a little memorandum-book, in which he was used to note down, by signs, his daily examination of conscience, and which he used afterwards for making his confession. After he had gone to confession, he received the holy communion and extreme unction, with great devotion, from the hands of Mr. Hölling. He followed the prayers of the church in a low voice. When the holy act was completed, he pressed the hand of Mr. Hölling with extraordinary warmth of feeling and thanked him.