Morton L. (Morton Luther) Montgomery.

Historical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. online

. (page 90 of 227)
Online LibraryMorton L. (Morton Luther) MontgomeryHistorical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. → online text (page 90 of 227)
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dated with the Evening Dispatch, under the title The Times
and Dispatch. The Reading Times Publishing Company was
organized in 1897, with IVIr. Zimmerman as president and
editor. This paper is one of the foremost journals in the
State, and exerts the strongest kind of influence upon the
moral and material development of its city, standing in
high esteem with the political leaders in the State and at
Washington. After more than half a century of journal-
istic work in Reading, he retired in October,_1908. In com-
inemoration of the event a public subscription dinner was
given him at the "Mineral Springs Hotel," in which up-
ward of eighty leading citizens of Reading and adjoining
cities participated.

Mr. Zimmerman was happy in the choice of his vocation
and his home. He is a great lover of nature, and evidently
believes, with a distinguished writer and fellow-pedestrian,
that "the shining angels second and accompany the man
who goes afoot, while all the dark spirits are ever looking
out for a chance to ride." It was his habit for nearly
forty years to take daily walks into the country, accom-
panied often only by his favorite dog, returning after a
long excursion to his editorial desk by noon. Nothing
turned hini aside from' the calling for which he was
so eminently fitted. He had many flattering ofifers to
engage in other fields of work, but in all cases these
were declined. In his early manhood he had arranged to
enter the law office of Hon. William' Strong, and was also
importuned to study for the ministry; his manifest destiny,
however, made and kept him a journalist and writer
of no mean ability, A brother editor comments on the jour-
alistic abilities of Mr. Zimmerman in this language : "Mr.
Zimmerman is a writer of force and ability. His writings
are pure, easy and graceful. He is witty and humorous
when occasion demands. In controversy he is gentlemanly
at all times, and in argument he is fair and generous to
his opponents. He has a genuine taste for literature, poetry
and the fine arts, as many of his articles attest. He is
one of the ablest writers in the old ConiTnonwealth. Many
of his articles show alike the eye of the artist, and the
hand of the litterateur." One of these 'productions, that
most widely published and copied, was a sketch , of his
visit to the Luray Caverns in Virginia ; the merits of this
inspiration of the moment were seen by the Hotel and
Cave Company, who caused to be published upward of
sixty thousand copies in illustrated pamphlet form for
general circulation. The newspapers of Richmond, Va.,
copied this article, and the favor it met with called out
the request that Mr. Zimmerman also write up the unde-
veloped resources of Alabama.

Mr. Zimmerman was united in marriage with Tamsie T.
Kauffman of Reading, on June 11, 1867. Several years
previous, in 1863, he enlisted in Company C, 42d Pa. V. I.,
but that company did not see active service. He was one
of the founders of the Pennsylvania German Society, as
well as one of the reorganizers, in 1898, of the Historical
Society of Berks County. He has been for many years a
member of the Board of Trustees of the Asylum for the
Chronic Insane of Pennsylvania, and a member of the
Board of Directors of the Reading Free Public Library.
The degree of L. H. D. (Doctor of the Humanities) was
conferred upon him by Muhlenberg College in 1904. He
was also a member of the 37th National Conference of
Charities and Corrections — office at Chicago; was also
elected President of the Pennsylvania Association of Sup-
erintendents and Trustees of the Insane Asylums and
Feeble-Minded of the State of Pennsylvania, 1908-09. In
October, 1908, he was elected president of the Pennsylvania
German Society.

Mr. Zimmerman has delivered quite a number of ad-
dresses on public occasions. H^e has been selected half a
dozen tirnes or more to speak before the Pennsylvania Ger-
man Society: Once in the court-house at Lancaster, where
the Society was organized; once in the court-house at York,
in response to the address of welcome, and in the evening
of the same day at the banquet in the same city ; once

at Lebanon; once at Harrisburg; and twice at Allentown,
besides numerous occasions in Reading. He was sub-
sequently selected by the Society as its special represen-
tative before the Chautauqua Assembly at Mt. Gretna,
at which time he was elected one of the vice-presidents
of that body in honor of the occasion. Within the last
ten years Mr. Zimmerman has made upward of a hundred
public addresses in various parts of the Commonwealth.
He has frequently been mentioned as an available
candidate for mayor of Reading, and twice his name was
presented for the Congressional nomination from the
Berks Legislative district, both of which honors he de-
clined. He is a well-known figure in Rieading, and has
a host of devoted friends, who were won by his lofty,
manly spirit, universal friendship of heart, and strong
sense of right and duty; he is in particular favor with
the Germans, in whose behalf he has written and spoken

Very early in life Mr. Zimmerman began to read 'poetry
for the intellectual pleasure and profit which its elevated
diction afforded him, and at the age of eighteen he had
already made considerable progress in a predetermined sys-
tematic perusal of the whole line of English poets, or of as
many of them as lay within his reach. The instinct of
the translator asserted itself in marvelous maturity, when
he began to make this one of the prominent features of
The Reading Times. Hundreds of these matchless trans-
lations from the German classics into English appeared
from time to time, the Saturday issue of the paper invar-
iably containing a translation into English of some German
poem, the original and translation appearing close- together
in parallel columns ; in recognition of their merit he has
been made the recipient of many presents, from friends
at home and abroad. Worthy of mention among these are
seventy-five volumes of German poetr}' from an admirer,
residing in Berlin, Germany; his collection of tobacco
pipes from Germany, England, Ireland, France, Denmark,
Finland and Holland is palpable evidence of the widespread
influence his work has had upon readers. Mr. Zimmerman
has shown remarkable aptitude and poetic skill in all his
translations, preserving with remarkable fidelity the exact
measure of the original poems, and the rhythmical beat of
each syllable with remarkable fidelity.

One of his most noted translations from the German,
viz.. The Prussian National Battle Hymn, appeared in the
Berlin (Germany) Times, with a half-tone portrait of the
author of the translation.

Some very original work has been done by Mr. Zimmer-
man in his translations of English classics into Pennsyl-
vania German, that curious mixture of German dialects
and English words which continues to be the chief spoken
language of over half of the inhabitants of Berks county.
His first attempt, Clement C. Moore's "Twas the Night
before Christmas," caught the fancy of the press at once,
and its favorable mention brought him congratulatory let-
ters from such men as Prof. Haldeman, the eminent phil-
ologist of the University of Pennsylvania; Hon. Simon
Cameron; Gen. Hartranft; P. F. Rothermel, painter of
the "Battle of Gettysburg"; Prof. Porter of Lafayette
College; Prof. Home of Muhlenberg College, and other
men of prominence in the literary world. Poems of Tom
Hood, Oliver Goldsmith, Heine and Longfellow followed,
and were received with hearty interest by the German

"Luther's Battle Hj'mn," a translation from the German
into English, was a wonderful inspiration, and fairly ran
up and down the country, as soon as it was given to the
'public through The Reading Times. In five weeks it
brought eighteen columns of letters to the paper that
published it, from eminent divines, professors, publicists,
poets, historians and others in the higher walks of society.
Notwithstanding there are some seventy or eighty transla-
tions of this magnificent poem, Mr. Zimmerman's effort
has been characterized by Rev. Dr. Pick, the publisher of
these translations, as "the newest and best that has been
made." The new version was especially favored by being
sung with enlarged choirs in different denominations of



town and city, and sermons here and there were delivered
on the translation. Following is Mr. Zimmerman's trans-
lation of the famous hymn :

"A rock-bound fortress is our God,
A good defense and weapon,
He helps us out of every need
That doth us press or threaten.
The old, wicked foe.
With zeal now doth glow;
Much craft and great might
Prepare him for the fight,
On earth there is none like him.

"With our own strength there's nothing

iWe're well nigh lost, dejected:
For us doth, fight the proper One,
Whom God himself elected.
Dost ask for his name?
Christ Jesus — ^the same !
The Lord of Sabaoth,
The world no other hath;
This field must He be holding.

"And were the world with devils filled;
With wish to quite devour us.
We need not be so sore afraid,
Since they can not o'erpower us.
The Prince of this World,
In madness though whirled,
Can harm' you nor" me ;
Because adjudged is he. .
A little word can fell hipi.

"This Word shall they now let remain.

No thanks therefor attending;

He is with us upon the plain,

His gifts and spirit lending. j

Though th' body he, ta'en,

Goods, child, wife and fame;

Go — life, wealth and kin!

They yet can nothing win :
For us remaineth the Kingdom."

Mr. Zimmierman's translation of Schiller's "The Song of
the Bell" met with even more favor from the public; no
less than twenty columns of newspaper matter made up of
letters from all over the world came to the translator, and
though twenty years have elapsed since its first appearance,
Mr. Zimmerman receives continued inquiries for the trans-
lation from far and near. The Philadelphia Ledger says :
"Mr. Zimmerman's translations have been highly com-
mended by literary authorities at home and abroad. He
has shown a special gift for making his English readers
familiar with the spirit of the best German poets. Even
those who are well at home in German will find a special
interest in comparing the translation with the original,
for he is sure to find that Mr. Zimmerman has not only
seized the meaning of the author, but he has so put it into
an English clothing as to show that the real bone and sinew
of the original still lives in its new dress." Hon. Andrew
D. White, U. S. Minister to Germany, in a letter to Mr.
Zimmerman about his translations writes : "They have
greatly interested me, as you ' seem to have, caught their
spirit and rendered them admirably. I am not sufficiently
strong in literary criticism to compare them with other
translations, but they seem to me to he thoroughly well
done. I have also been especially interested in your trans-
lations into Pennsylvania German of some of the poems.
Although not a philologist, the reading of them has also
greatly interested me, and they, too, 'seem very spirited and
in all respects interesting." Prof. Marion D. Learned, of
the Department of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania,
says: "A masterful hand is visible in all the translations.

* * , * * *
It is perhaps safe to say that Schiller's 'Song of the Bell'
is the most difficult lyrical poem -in the German language
to render into English with the corresponding meters. Your

version seems to me to excel all other English translations
of the poem, both in spirit and in rhythm. Especially
striking in point of movement is your happy use of the
English participle in reproducing Schiller's feminine
rhymes. Your version, however,- while closely adhering
to the form of the original, maintains at the same time
dignity and clearness of expression, which translators
often sacrifice to meet the demands of rhythm. Your poetic
instinct has furnished you the key to this masterpiece of
German song." The New York World says : "Mr. Zim-
merman's rendering [Schiller's 'Song of the Bell'] is a
triumph' of the translator's art, and recalls the work of
Bayard Taylor." The New York Herald says : "Mr. Zim-
merman has placed his name in the category of famous
litterateurs by a very creditable translation of Schiller's
'Song of the Bell.' "

The following ably written criticism is from the pen
of J. B. Ker, who, while a resident of Scotland, once stood
for Parliamient : "To Col. T. C. Zimmerman — Sir:' Having
read and studied your noble translation of Schiller's 'Song
of the Bell,' I have been forcibly impressed by the music
of the language into which you have rendered the poem.
This is a merit of capital importance in the translation
of this poem. In estimating the value of translations of the
great German poems, it is necessary to bear in mind the
weight which the literary and critical ■ consciousness of
Germany attached to the ancient classical canons of poetry.
There is no question here as. to whether the ancients were
right. The point for us is that their influence was loyally
acknowledged as of high authority during the Augustan
age of German literature. Proof of this can be found in
Goethe as distinctly as it super-abundantly appears in
Lessing's famous 'Dramatic Notes,' where the poetic dicta
of Aristotle are treated with profound respect. In the
study of Aristotle's work on the Poetic, nothing is perhaps
more striking than his dictum that poetry is imitation,
with the explanation or enlargement so aptly given by
Pope in the words :

" "Tis not enough no harshness gives offense,
The sound must seem, an echo to the sense.
Soft is the strain when zephyr gently blows.
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;
But when loud surges lash the sounding shore.
The hoarse, rough waves should like the torrent roar;
When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw.
The line, too, labors, and the words move slow.
Not so, when swift Camilla scours the main,
Flies o'er the unbending corn, or skims along the plain.'

"Not knowing the German recognition of the law and
acknowledging its realization in the works of the leading
Teutonic poets, one of the crucial tests of a translation
of a great German poet is. Does the language into which
the original is rendered form an 'echo to the sense'? It
seems to me that one of the strongest points in your trans-
lation of the 'Beir is that the words which you have
selected and gathered have sounds, which, like the music
of a skillful musical composer, convey a signification in-
dependently of their literal meaning. Not to protract
these remarks unduly, few words could more appropriately
refer to the music of strong and distant bells than your
rendering —

'That from the metal's unmixed founding
Cle^r and full may the bell be sounding.'

"Very slight poetic capacity must admit the music of
these, words as eminently happy in the 'Song of the Bell.'
The echo to the sense is also striking in the sound of the
word-symbols in many places throughout the rendering
where the poet describes the occurrences conceived in con-
nection with the bell's imagined history. Speaking of the
visions of love, ,

'O; that they would be never-ending.

These vernal days with lovelight blending,'



the way in which the penult of the word ■'ending' conveys
the idea of finaUty, while the affix of the present participle
yet prolongs the word as though loth to let it depart, is
a beautiful and enviable realization of the Aristotelian rule,
a prolongation of the words which expresses doubly a
prolongation of desire. The four lines reading:

'Blind raging, like the thunder's crashing
It bursts its fractured bed of earth

As if from out hell's jaws fierce flashing,
It spewed its flaming ruin forth,'

have a vehement strength and a rough and even a painful
and horrid sound which apply with singular propriety to
the horrible images by which the poet presents the catas-
trophe to our quickened apprehensions. The beautiful

'Joy to me now God hath given,' etc.,

in which the bell founder exults, avoiding, as they do, the
deeper vowel sounds and preserving as it were a series of
high musical notes save where the gift descends from
heaven to earth, when the vowel sounds fall from high to
low, form a delightful resonance of the happy sentiment
they embody. The general experience of translations is
that they are more prosy than sonorous or musical. Few,
however, if any, will deny the mielody of your language
in many places and its remarkable appropriateness in
others, and those who have worked on similar translations
can best judge how great is the success you have accom-
plished in this valuable contribution to Anglo-Saxon liter-

Mr. Zimmerman published a collection of his addresses,
sketches of Out-Door Life, translations and original poems
in two volumes, entitled "011a Podrida." The volumes,
which were published in the fall of 1903, were received
with great favor, almost the entire edition having been
sold in a month's time, a number of the public libraries
having become purchasers.

We present to our readers a few short selections from
Mr. Zimlmerman's translation of "The Song of the Bell" :

"Firmly walled in earth and steady,
Stands the mold of well-burnt clay.
Quick, now, workmen, be ye ready !
Forth must come the bell today !
Hot from forehead's glow
Must the sweat-drops flow.
Should the master praise be given ;
Yet the blessing comes from Heaven.

"The work prepared with so much ardor
May well an earnest word become;
When good discourse attends the labor,
Then flows employment briskly on.
Observe with care, then, what arises —
See what from feeble strength escapes ;
The man so poor, each one despises,
Who ne'er foresees the form he shapes.
'Tis this that man so well adorneth.
For mind hath he to understand
That in his inner heart he feeleth
Whate'er he fashions-with his hand.

"Through the streets with fury flaring,
Stalks the fire with fiendish glaring.
Rushing as if the whirlwind sharing!
Like the blast from furnace flashing
Glows the air, and beams are crashing.
Pillars tumbling, windows creaking,
Mothers wandering, children shrieking.
Beasts are moaning,
Running, groaning,
'Neath the ruins; all are frightened.
Bright as day the night enlightened.

"From the steeple.
Sad and strong,
Th' bell is tolling
A fun'ral song.

Sad and slow its mournful strokes attending
Some poor wand'rer tow'rds his last home wending.
Ah! the wife it is, the dear one;
Ah! it is the faithful mother,
Whom the Prince of Shades, unheeding.
From the husband's arms is leading.
From the group of children there.
Whom she blooming to him bare ;
On whose breast saw, maid and boy,
Growing with maternal joy.
Ah ! the household ties so tender
Sundered are forevermore ;
Gone into the realm of shadows
She who ruled this household o'er.
Now her faithful reign is ended.
She will need to watch no more ;
In the orphaned place there ruleth
A stranger, loveless evermore.

"O sweetest hope ! tender longing !
The earliest love's first golden time !
The eye, it sees the heavens thronging
With rapt'rous sights and scenes sublime;
O, that they would be nev'er-ending.
These vernal days with lovelight blending.

"And this henceforth its calling be.
Whereto the master set it free !
High o'er this nether world of ours.
Shall it, in heaven's azure tent,
Dwell where the pealing thunder lowers.
And border on the firmament.
It shall, too, be a voice from heaven,
Like yonder starry hosts, so clear.
Who in their course extol their Maker,
And onward lead the wreath-crowned year.
To earnest things and things eternal
Devoted be its metal tongue.
And, hourly. Time, with swift-winged pinions,
Will touch it as it flieth on.
Its tongue to dest'ny 'twill be lending;
No heart itself, from pity free
Its swinging ever be attending
Life's changeful play, whate'er it be.
And as the sound is slowly dying
That strikes with such o'erpowering might.
So may it teach that naught abideth.
That all things earthly take their flight."

Following is Reading's Official Sesqui-Centennial Hymn,
as written by Thomas C. Zimmerman, and sung on Tues-
day evening, June 6, 1898, by a chorus of 600 voices, to
an audience of 20,000 people, assembled on Penn's Com-
mon :

"All hail to Reading's name and fame !
And let the welkin ring
With song and shout and roundelay.

As we together sing.
And may our songs, with glad acclaim.

To heav'n, like incense rise,
While glowing hearts in tones proclaim
Her glory to the skies.



'"Tis sev'n score years ago and ten

Since this fair town was born;
Its sweet young life must have exhaled

A breath like rosy morn.
So let us sing till yonder hills

Send back the joyous song;
Till echoing dales and rippling rills

Th€ gladsome sound prolong.

"Let others tread life's stately halls,

Where princely pleasures flow ;
Give us our homes, like jewels set

In evening's sunset glow.
And may our hearts, in swelling pride,

Forget not those of old —
The men of Reading's pristine days —

Whose hearts have long grown cold.

"Let all, therefore, with mingled voice.

Repeat the glad refrain ;
Let civic pride, in flowing tide,

Rejoice with might and main.
And God, the Father of us all,

With His protecting care,
Will bless us while we praise in song

Our city, bright and fair."

Mr. Zimmerman also wrote the Sesqui-Centennial of
Berks, which was adopted by the Historical Society of
Berks as the ofiiciat hymn. Following is the translation:

Air : — "America."
"Hail, beauteous Berks ! to thee
Let song and minstrelsy
Their tribute pay !
Let joy in rapture break
Till echoing hills awake,
And woodland summits shake.
On this glad day.

"Our sires, long since at rest.
With mem,'ries, sweet and blest.

Were at thy birth.
With axe and brawn and brain.
They toiled, with might and main,
A dear loved home to gain

On this green earth.

"And now, with upturned eyes,
Your children's gladsome cries

Their homage bring.
From all our mines and mills.
From Manatawny's hiUs,
And Ontelaunee's rills,

Let praises ring.

"Then hail the natal day
When Heaven's fav'ring ray

Shone on thy face.
Let joy, in civic pride.
Gush forth, on every side,
And music's swelling tide

Add strength and grace.

"Our fathers' God ! may we
Be ever true to thee

Through all our days.
Thy Name be glorified,
Our hearts be sanctified.
As, with exultant pride,

We sing thy praise."

Mr. Zimmerman was also the author of the memorial
hymn sung at the dedication of the McKinley monu-
ment in the City Park, in the presence of one of the lar-
gest audiences ever assembled in Reading.

One of the proudest achievements of Mr. Zimmer-
man's journalistic career was the erection of a monu-

ment to Stephen C. Foster at his home in Pittsburg,
which, according to the Pittsburg papers, had its real
inception in an editorial prepared by Mr. Zimmerman
for the Reading Times, after a visit to that city and
finding no memorial to perpetuate the memory of the
world's greatest writer of negro melodies. This edi-
torial was republished in the Pittsburg Press and in-
dorsed by that paper, which also started a fund to pro-
vide a suitable memorial and called on the public for
popular subscriptions, the ultimate result being the stat-
ue which now adorns Highland Park, in that city. The
foUcfwing from the Pittsburg Times, in a personal no-
tice of Mr. Zimmerman's visit to that Park -several years
ago, said : "Out at Highland Park yesterday passers-
by noticed a handsome, military looking gentleman mak-
ing a minute study of the Stephen C. Foster statue.
Every feature of this artistic bit of sculpture, from Fos-
ter's splendid face to Uncle Ned and the broken string
of his banjo, was examined with affectionate interest.
The man was Col. Thomas C. Zimmerman, editor of the
Reading (Pa.) Times, and the statue was the fruition
of his fondest wish. Col. Zimmerman has been for
miany years one of the staunchest admirers of Foster's
imperishable songs and melodies. Sixteen years ago"
while in Pittsburg visiting the late Major E. A. Mon-
tooth, he asked the latter to show him the monument
to Foster, and was painfully surprised to discover that
no such memorial existed. Shortly after his return to
Reading he wrote an editorial for his paper, calling
the attention of the world in general and Pittsburg in
.particular to the neglect of Foster's memiDry."


Online LibraryMorton L. (Morton Luther) MontgomeryHistorical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. → online text (page 90 of 227)