Letter from Orson Hyde, 17 July 1841

it of the matter does not dwell, is lost— the life and animation thereof, die away  into a cold monotony, and it becomes al most entirely another thing. This step  is according to the best light I can get,  and hope and trust that it is according to  the mind of the Lord. The people will  hardly believe but that I have spoken Ger man before; but I tell them, neicht, not.  The German is spoken in Prussia, Bavaria,  and in all the States of Germany—Aus tria—the south of Russia, and in fine more  or less all over Europe. It appears to  me, therefore, that some person of some  little experience ought to know this lan guage so as to translate himself without  being dependant on strangers. If I am  wrong in my movement, pray that the  spirit of the Lord may direct me aright.  If I am right, pray that Heaven may  speedily give me this language. It is very  sickly in Constantinople, Syria and Alex andria, at present; I would rather, there fore, wait until cool weather before I go  there. I might have written most of this  letter in German; but as you would more  readily understand it in English, I have  written it in English.
With pleasure I leave the historical  part of my letter, to touch a softer note,  and give vent to the feelings of my heart.
I hope and trust that the cause which  you so fearlessly advocate, is rolling forth  in America, with that firm and steady  motion which characterizes the work of  Jehovah. The enemies which we are  forced to encounter are numerous, strong,  shrewd and cunning. Their leader trans fuses into them his own spirit, and brings  them into close alliance with the numer ous hosts of precious immortals who have  been earlier taken captives by the haugh ty Tyrant, and sacrificed upon the altar  of iniquity, transgression and sin. May  it please our Father in Heaven to throw  around thee his protecting arms,—to place  beneath thee Almighty strength, ever  buoy thy head above the raging waves of  tribulation through which the chart of  destiny has evidently marked thy course.  Happy in the enjoyment of the distin guished consideration with which Heav en’s favor, alone, has endowed me. of  bearing, with you, some humble part in  laying the foundation of the glorious king dom of Mesiah which is destined, in its  onward course, to break in pieces and  destroy all others and stand forever.
The friendship and good-will which  are breathed towards me through all your  letters, are received as the legacy which  noble minds and generous hearts are ev er anxious to bequeath. They soften the  hard and rugged path in which Heaven  has directed my course. They are buoy ancy in depression,—joy in sorrow; and  when the dark clouds of desponding hope  are gathering thick around the mental  horizon, like a kind angel from the foun tain of mercy, they dispel the gloom, dry  the tear of sorrow, and pour humanitie’s  healing balm into my grieved and sorrow ful heart. Be assured, therefore, Bro.  Joseph, that effusions from the altar of a  greatful heart are smoking to Heaven,  daily, in thy behalf; and not only in thine,  but in behalf of all Zion’s suffering sons  and daughters whose generous magna nimity will ever environ and adorn the  brow of the object of their compassion.  Tho’ now far separated from you; and  also from her who, with me, has suffered  the chilling blasts of adversity, yet hope  lingers in this bosom, brightened almost  into certainty by the implicit confidence  reposed in the virtue of that call which  was borne on the gentle breeze of the  spirit of God through the dark shades of  midnight gloom, ’till it found a mansion  in my anxious and enquiring heart, that  my feet shall once more press the Amer ican soil; and under the shade of her  streaming banner, embrace again the  friends I love.
I never knew that I was, in reality,  an American, until I walked out one fine  morning in Rotterdam along the wharf,  where many ships lay in the waters of  the Rhine: Suddenly my eye caught a  broad pendant floating in a gentle breeze  over the stern of a fine ship at half-mizzen- mast; and when I saw the wide-spread  Eagle perched on her banner, with the  stripes and stars under which our fathers  were led on to conquest and victory, my  heart leaped into my mouth, a flood of  tears burst from my eyes, and before re flection could mature a sentence, my  mouth, involuntarily, gave birth to these  words, “I am an American!
To see the flag of one’s country in a  strange land, and floating upon strange  waters, produces feelings which none  can know except those who experience  them. I can now say that I am an Amer ican. While at home, the warmth and  fire of the American spirit lay in silent [p. 572]
Orson Hyde, Letter, Ratisbon, Bavaria, to JS, Nauvoo, IL, 17 July 1841; in Times and Seasons, 15 Oct. 1841, 2:570–573.