In 1860, the Christian Watchman and Reflector, a Boston Baptist newspaper, secured Charles Spurgeon as an exclusive correspondent. Over that year, Spurgeon wrote 15 letters to the paper. They are being available now for the first time in 150 years. An index of the letters and several background articles can be found here: Charles Spurgeon in the Christian Watchman & Reflector | Index
Here is the complete text of his ninth letter:
LETTER FROM REV. C.H. SPURGEON
CONFERENCE OF KINGS AT BADEN
I am now in Baden-Baden, refreshed by my rambles, and renewed by my rest. There were no less than nine crowned heads in this little town during Saturday and the Sabbath which has just passed. One could hardly walk in any direction without stumbling over a grand duke or being run over by the horses of an emperor. Some of the largest hotels being favored with regal tenancy, were so crowded with the attendants and households of the kings that they could not receive ordinary travellers, whose patronage they had aforetime courted and enjoyed. The Emperor of the French passed through Strasbourg on Friday, at about five in the afternoon. There were great crowds in the streets, a liberal display of flags and streamers, and great multitudes of soldiery. The Emperor seemed to be enthusiastically received in this border city of France, although I cannot speak with authority as to the cheers which he received, for our conveyance was ordered into back streets, quite out of the line of route, and we were at too great a distance to have heard the shouts of the populace. Every one appeared to be happy and full of excitement, and when we rode along the streets after the Emperor had departed, we were struck with the number of country people, who had evidently come from their rural homes to see the great sight. The whole city was like a great fair, and the tri-colored flags and garlands of oak leaves presented a most attractive appearance, as they decorated the quaint old-fashioned houses of the older streets, and the elegant mansions of the new. The very guards at the frontier relaxed their severity, and the most polite of bows was an admirable substitute for the rigid examination of which many travellers complain. On the German side of the river, the town of Kehl was resplendent with the orange and red colors of the grand duke of Baden. I suppose the inhabitants have a sufficiently large admixture of the French element to account for their being seized with the imperial fever, as well as their opposite neighbors of Strasbourg. If the people of Kehl received the emperor heartily, they were the only Germans who would have done so, for everywhere throughout Belgium, Prussia and the small German kingdoms, he is either dreaded or execrated. It is the universal belief that he will never be content until he has completed the “natural boundary” scheme. by subduing all the Territory on the west of the Rhine to his imperial sway. If the English are no friends to Napoleon, the Germans go even further, and are more anti-imperial than ourselves.
On Saturday, the Emperor might be seen early in the morning walking in the garden, leaning upon his walking-stick, and looking more decrepit than his age might justify. It is a theme for great gratitude that he is not a young man, and that be his ambition what it may, he has no great time before him in which to work out his political adventures. On horseback or in the carriage, all men confess his noble bearing, and no signs of decay are manifest, but when he is walking, the spectators foresee that the greatest of men are mortal. During the greater part of the day the Emperor returned the visits of the prince, who had waited upon him in the morning. Possibly the laws of etiquette may in this case have been very agreeable to the great one, for it enabled him first to see all the princes together, and then to give them a lesson privately and individually. Who can tell what devices were in the heart of the mighty, who shall fathom the depth of the thoughts of kings? May the Lord rule and overrule, and out of every evil may his glory spring. The princes and dukes may have rejoiced at the coming of the lord of France, but the people wondered what all could mean, and forebodings of evil were neither rare nor frivolous. As for the little kings, they came to this place like moths to a candle. Uninvited and unexpected, they must needs come forth to the presence of the potentate, if not to be lacqueys to his pride, at least to sun themselves in his superior glory. It is to be hoped that while the dexterous player has not succeeded in throwing the apple of discord among these minor monarchs; divided, they would soon be overcome, but united, they might oppose a serious barrier to any aggrandizement he may anticipate. I like not to see either thieves in company, or kings in conclave. Eagles come not together unless they scent the prey. All may be well, and the meeting may merely a friendly visit, and an exchange of courtesies, but uneasy thoughts will suggest themselves, for when the wolf inspects the sheepfolds and dines with the shepherds, the silliest of the sheep are troubled at nightfall.
When the emperor came forth from the hotel to his carriage, the populace of Baden gave him unmistakable evidence of their feelings towards him. Several gentlemen have assured me that the hissing was very far in excess of the few notes of acclamation. Even in the Conversation House, where the elite of the visitors were assembled, the hisses were very distinct, and must have been an unpleasant sound to one who breathes the air of flattery and eats the bread of adulation. When the grand-duke afterwards appeared the people cheered him very heartily, as if to show for whom the sounds of disapproval had been intended. After all, as far as I can judge, it is not what he has done, but what he may do, which causes this ill-feeling towards him. Some men would have done less and have had more credit for it, but this man contrives to mar all his good deeds by a crooked policy which leads most men to suspect his best actions, and to impute to him designs which may be very far from his thoughts. Worse men than he have been better liked, and yet there is no injustice in this treatment of him, for his conduct courts suspicion, and his dark reserve creates distrust.
Sunday was the great day of discussion, deliberation, arrangement, or whatever else may have been the end and aim of the interview. How little is God in the thoughts of the great when his own day is the chosen season for their councils, and that, too, when no crisis is impending, and no immediate disaster compels them to hasty deliberations. Here were all the days in the week, all equally available no haste compelling, no wars alarming, and yet none of their own six days will suit them, they must usurp God’s peculiar day, as if they were lords of the Sabbath, or irresponsible to the laws of heaven. What, but confusion, can be the result of such councils ? Will not the Lord be avenged on such a people as this?
The companies of country people who filled the roads were very interesting to observe, and as I looked from the windows of my quiet chamber upon the gaiety which the advent of these princes had caused upon a day consecrated to rest and worship, I could not fail to remember that men in high places have vast responsibilities, and God alone knows how much of the sins of the nations will be visited upon the heads of their governors. They are not only partakers of other men’s sins, but creators of evil; surely there are chains of darkness, of unusual weight, reserved for these ringleaders in rebellion.
The Emperor left for Strasbourg at ten o’clock, and his train started in the midst of a silence more profound than I have ever remarked before. Standing on the edge of the crowd, I was astonished to the utmost, at a stillness like that of death, a quiet which was not broken until the cause of it had departed; then every man breathed freely, and as the Duke of Baden rode back to his castle, the people gave him loyal cheers, which contrasted with the gloomy silence with which the Gallic despot had been greeted. To my mind there was something truly dignified in this noiseless censure. To hiss might be but a display of weak, impertinence, but to be sternly silent was the noble rebuke of resolute minds.
I ought to have said that on Saturday there was a fine illumination at the Conversation House, which is the grand resort of the company who are staying in the neighborhood, and the building in which is concentrated the gambling for which the town is famous. Beyond this one display I did not perceive a flag or a light upon any louse or hotel. This was very strange to me, for, if in any English town there bad been but one king, much less nine, there would have been some sort of display, unless, indeed the unpopularity of one of the number had been great enough to compel the people to ignore the existence of the other eight.
What wonderful times we live in, for I have no doubt that the people of London know more about what was done in Baden yesterday than I do to-day, and merchants upon change are talking of the very matters, which I upon the very spot can only surmise and guess. May the end be such that the nations may have rest, and the kingdom of Christ may fully come.
I am yours, most truly,
C. H. SPURGEON