Pastorius's Description of Pennsylvania
An Electronic Edition
Francis Daniel Pastorius
"Pastorius's Description of Pennsylania" In Old
South Leaflets Volume IV.
Boston: Directors of the Old South work.
Old South Meeting House.
Copyright 2003. This text
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Pastorius's Description of Pennsylvania, 1700
A PARTICULAR GEOGRAPHICAL DESCRIPTION OF THE LATELY DISCOVERED PROVINCE OF PENNSYLVANIA, SITUATED ON THE FRONTIERS OF THIS WESTERN WORLD, AMERICA. BY FRANCIS DANIEL PASTORIUS. TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL GERMAN BY LEWIS H. WEISS.
The fourth grand division of our world, America, is divided into two great parts, the first of which lies to the south, and comprises the following provinces : -
1st, The Golden Castilia, which again contains the colonies of Papaya, New Grenada, Carthagena, Venazola, Nova Andalusia, and Paria.
2d, The land of Guyana, in possession of the Dutch, of which they were desirous to lease a part lying between the rivers l'aria and Amazones to the Count Hanau in 1669.
3d, The land of Brasilia, belonging to the Portuguese, in the which are the cities of St. Salvator, Olinda, and Pernambuco.
4th, The land of Chile.
5th, The land of Peru, the metropolis of which is Lima, in which city the Spanish viceroy has his residence. This province bounds on the Andes, among which there is much gold to be found. The aborigines are a race of giants of ten feet stature.
In this Southern America there are two great rivers, the Amazones and the Rio de la Plata. Upon the borders flows the stream Panama or Isthmus, on which the rich productions of the country are brought to the seashore, and thence transported to Spain.
The second part, or North America, comprises: -
1st, The land of Nicaragua, Guatimala, Nova Hispania, and Chersonesa, which expand to the Mexican sea.
2d, The land of Flowers (Florida).
3d, Virginia, which belongs to the English.
4th, Nova Belgia, the chief town of which is New Amsterdam.
5th, Nova Anglia, in which land is the city of Cambridge, where the Bible has been printed in the Indian language.
6th, The lands Canada, Nova Gallia, Terra Corte Realis, Terra Labrador, and Nova Britannia.
Of this entire American continent very little was known until 1441, for none of its inhabitants had ever ventured across the can to Europe.
The first discoverer of this western world was Christopher Columbus, an Italian, a native of the village of Cucurco near Genoa, descended from the noble family Pilustroli, a profound scholar and an experienced navigator.
Having observed while on the isle of Cadiz that at certain seasons of the year the wind blew from the westward for many days together, he concluded that it must come from some undiscovered country in that direction, and he offered to proceed on a voyage to discover said land, provided the Genoese republic would furnish him with several suitable vessels. Upon his being refused it, he next applied to Henry VII., king of England, with no better success. He also waited upon Alfonsus, king of Portugal, with no better success; but finally Ferdinand and Isabella, sovereigns of Castilia, granted him three small ships, with which he set sail in August, 1492, and after a month he came to the island of Comera, where he laid in some provisions, and thirty days after he arrived at the isle Guarglysna. He next visited the islands of Cumana and Haiti, which last he named Hispaniola. Here he built a fort. After he had examined into the resources of these countries, he resolved to return to Spain, to announce his good fortune to the king and queen, and arrived again safely, without having lost a single man on his expedition. The king was much pleased with the new discovery, and conferred upon Columbus the title
Admirandus. He afterward made some other voyages to the Insolas Fortunalus, and to the Canaries, on which there are two miraculous fountains, one of which, if persons drink the water therefrom, it causes them to laugh immoderately, even so as to cause death; but, if they immediately take a draught from the other fountain, it will stop the laughing effect at once. He also visited the isle of Teneriffa, in which there is a great and terrible volcano. Finally he came to the island where the cannibals reside, and because he landed there on a Sunday named it Dominica. After making these discoveries, he returned, by way of Cumana and Jamaica, to Spain.
Anno Christi, 1495, the above-mentioned King Ferdinand sent the noble Florentine, Vesputius Americus, with four large ships into these regions for the purpose of making further researches and discoveries. Americus was the first European that reached the continent, where he saw great numbers of the naked inhabitants; and, after cruising about some time among the islands, he returned to Spain in the year 1498. The newly discovered continent was named America in honor of him, and now contains many rich and valuable colonies and trading ports belonging to the Spanish, French, English, and the Hollanders.
Of the Discovery of the Pennsylvanian Regions.
Although, after the successful expeditions of Columbus and Americus, many colonies had arisen in this western world, such as Nova Hispania, Nova C~allia, Brasilia, Peru, Golden Castilia, Hispaniola, Cumana, Jamaica, Nova Anglia, Florida, Virginia, etc., it so happened, anno 1665, [!] by means of the skilful and enterprising navigators sent out under the auspices of Caroli Stuardus L, king of England, a new and large country was discovered, lying far beyond the above-mentioned colonies. For the time being, however, no name was given to it, inasmuch as the natives roamed about the forests, not having any fixed residences or towns from which any name could have been derived; but they lived here and there in the wilderness in Tuguriis, or huts made of the bark of trees.
About the time of this discovery the Duke of York, having great numbers of Swedes and others under his control, commanded that a town should be commenced on the
Della Varra River, which was fortified ; and he called the place New Castle. He likewise granted to the Swedes large privileges to induce them to remain there, and to cultivate the lands, intending to settle it, also, with English emigrants. The Swedes began to clear away the forests, and soou became a flourishing community.
About this time the unheard-of tragedy was enacted in Eng land, that the king was taken by his own subjects and beheaded; his son, the heir to the throne, pursued for his life; but he managed to make his escape through the instrumentality of his general, Lord Penn, who carried him to France in disguise, for which goodly
service Penn's entire estates were confiscated or destroyed; and he himself died in exile, before the restoration of the prince.
Upon the reinstating of Carolus II. on the throne of his her, he was visited by William Penn, the only son of Lord nn; and he received him very graciously. In consideration of the services of his father, lie presented to him this entire region, together with the colony of New Castle, forever. This royal bounty bears the date April 21, 1681. Penn now published it in the city of London, that he intended to establish a colony there, and offered to sell lands to all such as wished to emigrate. Upon this many persons offered to go, and Penn accompanied them thither, where he founded the city of Philadelphia, in 1682. A German society also contracted with his agents in London for several thousand acres of land to establish a German colony there. The entire region was named Pennsylvania, which
signifies Penn's forest lands.
Contains Penn's charter and plans of settlement, which are already well known in the English language.
Concerning the German Society.
The German Society commissioned myself, Francis llaniel Pastorius, as their licensed agent, to go to Pennsylvania and to superintend the purchase and survey of their lands.
I set out from Frankford on the 1layne, went to London, where I made the purchase, and then embarked for America.
Under the protection of the Almighty, I arrived safely at
Philadelphia; and I was enabled to send my report home to Germany on the 7th of March, 1684.
The lands I purchased were to be as follows: fifteen thousand acres in one tract on some navigable stream.
Three hundred acres in the City Liberties, which is the strip of land lying between the rivers Dellavarra and Scolkill, above Philadelphia.
Three lots in the city proper for the purpose of building thereon.
Upon my arrival I applied to the governor, William Penn, for warrants, so as to survey and take possession of 'the aforesaid lands.
His first answer, concerning the three hundred acres in the Liberties and the three lots in the city, was this: "That these could by right not be claimed by the German Company, because they had been purchased after he had left London, the books closed, and all the lots previously disposed of." lie, however, had three lots in the city surveyed for me, out of his youngest son's portion, instead of those above mentioned.
Beginning to number the houses from the Dellavarra River, our house is the ninth in order.
Our first lot in the city is of the following dimensions. It has one hundred feet front, and is four hundred feet deep. Next to it is to be a street. Adjoining it lies the second lot of the same size as No. 1. Then another street. Lot No. 3 joins this street, its size being the same as the other two. On these lots we can build two dwellings at each end, making in all twelve buildings with proper yards and gardens, and all of them fronting on the streets.
For the first few years, little or no profit can reasonably be expected to accrue from these lots, on account of the great scarcity of money in this province, and, also, that as yet this country has no goods or productions of any kind to trade with or export to Europe.
Our governor, William Penn, intends to establish and encourage the growing and manufactory of woollens; to introduce the cultivation of the vine, for which this country is peculiarly well adapted, so that our company had better send us a quantity of wine barrels and vats of various sorts, also all kinds of farming and gardening implements.
Item, several iron boilers of various sizes, and copper and brass kettles. Item, an iron stove, several blankets and mattresses, also a few pieces of Barchet and white linens, which might be sold in our use here to good advantage.
On the 16th of November last a fair had been held at Philadelphia ; but we only sold about ten dollars' worth at our trading-house, owing altogether to the scarcity of money, as has been already mentioned.
As relating to our newly laid out town, Germanopolis, or Germantown, it is situated on a deep and very fertile soil, and is blessed with an abundance of fine springs and fountains of fresh water. The main street is sixty and the cross street forty feet in width. Every family has a plot of ground for yard and garden three acres in size.
Treats of William Yenn's laws, which are already known 1n the English language.22.
Of the Situation of the Country and the Rivers thereof.
The situation of Pennsylvania is like unto that o£ Naples in Italy. This region lies in the fortieth degree of north latitude, is bounded on the east by the Dellavarra River, and extends in length 75 miles, in breadth 45.
The islands bordering upon this province are New Jersey, 1tlarieland, and Virginia. In these regions, several new and beautiful stars and constellations are visible, which have heretofore been entirely unknown to the European astrologi and learned ones.
The river Dellavarra is so beautiful a stream as not to have its equal among all the rivers of Europe.
It is navigable for vessels of one hundred tons thirty miles beyond Philadelphia. It separates Pennsylvania from New Jersey. At Philadelphia it is two and at New Castle three miles wide; is abundantly stocked with the finest fish, as is likewise the river Scolkill.
The springs and fountains of water are innumerable.27.
The woods and copses are filled with beautiful birds of great variety, which proclaim their Creator's praises, in their pleasantest net. There is, besides, a great abundance of wild geese, ducks, turkeys, quails, pigeons, partridges, and many other sorts of game.
CHAPTERS VI. AND VII.
Are omitted, as containing nothing of interest to the English reader.29.
Of the Towns and Cities in this Province
The governor, William Penn, laid out the city of Philadelphia, between the two rivers Dellavarra and Scolkill, naming it with the pious wish and desire that its inhabitants might dwell together in brotherly love and unity.
The Dellavarra is deep enough so that the largest vessels can come up close to the bank, which is but about a stone's cast from the city.
Another English company have laid out the new town of Frankfort, five miles above Philadelphia, at which now so flourishing and pleasant place they have already established several good mills, a glass-house, pottery, and some stores and trading houses.
New Castle lies forty miles from the ocean on the Dellavarra, and has a very good harbor.
The town of Uplandt is twenty miles above New Castle on the river, and is a fine large place, inhabited mostly by Swedes.
On the twenty-fourth day of Octobriis, anno 1685, I, Francis Daniel Pastorius, with the wish and concurrence of our or, laid out and planned a new town, which we called Germantown or Germanopolis, in a very fine and fertile district, with plenty of springs of fresh water, being well supplied with oak, walnut, and chestnut trees, and having besides excellent and abundant pasturage for the cattle. At the commencement there were but twelve families of forty-one individuals, consisting mostly of German mechanics and weavers. The principal street of this, our town, I made sixty feet in width, and the cross street forty feet. he space or lot for each house and garden I made three acres in size; for my own dwelling, however, six acres.
Before my laying out of this town, I had already erected a small house in Philadelphia, thirty feet by fifteen in size. The windows, for the want of glass, were made of oiled paper. Over the door I had placed the following inscription:–
Parva domus, sed amica Vonis, procul este prophani,
at which our governor, when he paid me a visit, laughed heartily, at the same time encouraging me to build more.
I have also obtained 15,ooo acres of land for our company, in one tract, with this condition,-that within one year at least thirty families should settle on it; and thus we may, by God's blessing, have a separate German province, where we can all live together in one.
Of the Productions of the Country.
Inasmuch as this region lies in the same degree of latitude as Montepelier and Naples, but has a much richer soil, and that better watered by its many springs and rivulets, it is but reasonable to suppose that such a country must be well calculated to produce all kinds of fruit. The air is pure and serene, the summer is longer and warmer than it is in Germany, and we are cultivating many kinds of fruits and vegetables, and our labors meet with rich reward.
Of cattle we have a great abundance, but for want of proper accommodation they roam at large for the present.
Sugar and syrup we import from Barbados, and he that has not money barters with such articles of produce as he may have. The articles of trade between the Indians and the Christians consist of fish, birds, deerskins, and the furs of beavers, otters, foxes, etc. They usually exchange these things for liquor or else for their own kind of money, which they call wampum, and consists of red and white seashells, which are neatly prepared, and strung like beads. These strings of wampum they make use of to decorate themselves with. Their king wears a crown made of the same.
Twelve strings of the red are valued as much as twenty-four white ones. They like this kind of money much better than our silver coin, because tliey are so often deceived by it, not being able to distinguish the counterfeit from the genuine, and, as they cannot well calculate the difference in . its value, they do not much like to take it.
The money in circulation among ourselves is Spanish and English coin. Gems and precious stones we have none, neither do the desire any. We would not give him any great thanks who would dig them out of the earth; for these things which God has created for good and wise purposes have been most shamefully abused by man, and have become the servants of human pride and ostentation rather than being conducive to the Creator's glory.
Of the Growth and Improvement of this Colony.
Although this far-distant land was a dense wilderness,-and it is only quite recently that it has come under the cultivation of the Christians,-there is much cause of wonder and admiration how rapidly it has already, under the blessing of God, advanced, and is still advancing, day by day. The first part of the time we were obliged to obtain our provisions from the Jerseys for money, and at a high price; but now we not only have enough for ourselves, but a considerable surplus to dispose of among our neighboring colonies. Of the most needful mechanics we have enough now; but day-laborers are very scarce, and of them we stand in great need. Of mills, brick-kilns, and the-ovens we have the necessary number.
Our surplus of grain and cattle we trade to Barbados for rum, syrup, sugar, and salt. The furs, however, we export to England for other manufactured goods.
We are also endeavoring to introduce the cultivation of the vine, and also the manufacture of woollen cloths and linens, so as to keep our money as much as possible in the country. For this reason we have already established fairs to be held at stated times, so as to bring the people of different parts together for the purposes of barter and trade, and thereby encourage our own industry and prevent our little money from going abroad.
Of the Inhabitants of this Land
The inhabitants may be divided into three classes: (r) the Aborigines, or, as they are called, the savages ; (z) those Christians who have been in the country for years, and are called old settlers ; (3) the newly arrived colonists of the different companies.
1. The savages, or Indians, are in general strong, nimble, and well-shaped people, of a dark, tawny complexion, and wore no clothing whatever when the first Europeans came to this country. Now, however, they hang a blanket about their shoulders, or some of them also have shirts. They have straight black hair, which they cut off close to the head, save one tuft, which they leave stand on the right side. Their children they anoint with the fat of the bears and other animals, so as to make their skin dark, for by nature they
would be white enough. They cultivate among themselves the most scrupulous honesty, are unwavering in keeping promises, defraud and insult no one, are very hospitable to strangers obliging to their guests, and faithful even to death towards their friends.
Their huts, or wigwams, they make by bending clown several young trees, and covering them with bark.
They use neither tables nor chairs nor furniture of any kind, except, perhaps, a single pot or kettle to cook their food.
I once saw four of them dining together in great enjoyment of their feast. It consisted in nothing more than a pumpkin, simply boiled in water, without salt, butter,, or spice of any kind. Their seat and table was the bare ground, their spoons were sea-shells, wherewith they supped the warm water, and their plates were the leaves of the nearest tree, which, after they were done their meal, they had no occasion of washing or any need of carefully preserving for future use. I thought to myself on witnessing this scene how these poor savages, who have never heard of the Saviour's doctrines and maxims of contentment and temperance, how far superior they are to ourselves, so-called Christians, at least so far as these virtues are concerned.
They are otherwise very grave and reserved, speak but little, and in few words, and are greatly surprised when they hear much needless and even foolish talking and tale-bearing among us Christians.
They are true and faithful in their matrimonial relations, abhorring licentiousness in the extreme. Above all do they despise deception and falsehood. They have no idols, but adore one great, good Spirit, who keeps the devil in subjection. They believe in the immortality of the soul, and, according as they have lived in this world, do they expect a reward or punishment in the future.
Their peculiar mode of worship consists principally in singing and dancing, during which they make use of the most singular contortions and positions of the body; and, Mien the remembrance of the death of parents or dear friends is brought their mind, they break forth into the most piteous cries and lamentations.
They are fond of hearing us speak about the Creator of heaven and the earth, and of his wisdom and divine power, and particularly do they listen with emotion to the narrative of the Saviour's life and sufferings; but it is greatly to be regretted that we are not yet sufficiently acquainted with their language, so as to explain the great plan of salvation to them.
They behave with the greatest respect and decorum whenever they attend public worship in our churches ; and it is my belief that many of these poor American savages will in great day rise up in judgment with those of Tyre and on against our own wicked and perverse generation. As their domestic arrangements, the men attend to the , hunting, and fishing, the women bring up their children, instructing them in virtue and honor. They raise some vegetables, such 'as corn and beans ; but, as to any extensive farming and cultivation, they concern themselves nothing but are rather surprised that we, as Christians, should so many cares and anxieties as to our support and nourishment, just as if we did not believe that God will and can sustain and provide for us.
They speak a most beautiful and grave language, which very much like the Italian, although it has entirely different words.
They are in the habit of painting their faces with various rs, and the wrnuen as well as the men are very fond of tobacco.
2. The earlier Europeans or old settlers. These never had the proper motives in settling here; for, instead of instructing the poor Indians in the Christian virtues, their only desire was gain, without ever scrupling about the means employed in obtaining it.
By these means they have taught those natives who had dealings with them nothing but deception and many other evil habits, so that there is very little of virtue or honesty remaining on either side.
These wicked people make it a custom to pay the savages in in and other liquors for the furs they bring to them, so that these poor deluded Indians have become very intemperate, and sometimes drink to such excess that they can neither walk nor stand. On such occasions they often commit thefts and other vices.
3. The newly arrived colonists of our and other companies. We who have come over to this land with good and honest intentions have purchased considerable tracts of land where we will settle, and endeavor to live in happiness and contentment; and we are living in the hope and expectation that we can in time do something for the eternal welfare and salvation of the aborigines. May our God prosper and. bless our undertakings!
Of the Government of the Land.
The aborigines of this country had their own chiefs and kings.
We Christians acknowledge as our governor and chief magistrate the oft-named and excellent, the Hon. William Penn, to whom this region yeas granted and given as his own by his majesty of England, Carolus II., with the express command that all the previous and future colonists should be subject to Penn's laws and jurisdiction.
This wise and truly pious ruler and governor did not, however, take possession of the province thus granted without having first conciliated, and at various councils and treaties duly purchased from, the natives of this country the various regions of Pennsylvania. He, having by these means obtained good titles to the province, under the sanction and signature of the native chiefs, I therefore have purchased from him some thirty thousand acres for my German colony.
Now, although the oft-mentioned William Penn is one of the sect of Friends, or Quakers, still he will compel no man to be long to his particular society ; but he has granted to every om free and untrammelled exercise of their opinions and the larg est and most complete liberty of conscience.
Of the Various Religious Denominations of these Parts.
The native Indians have no written religious belief or creed; and their own peculiar ideas, which are by no means so rude or so barbarous as those of many other heathens have to be transmitted from the parents to their children only per traditionem.
The English and the Dutch adhere to the Calvinistic persuasion.
The colonists of William Penn are nearly all Quakers.
The Swedes and Germans are Evangelical Lutherans, under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Upsala. The Swedes have their own churches. The name of their clergyman is Fabricius, of whom I must say with deep regret that he is an intemperate man, and, as regards spiritual things, very dark and ignorant. We in Germantown built a little chapel for ourselves in 1686, but did not so much care for a splendid stone edifice as for having an humble but true temple devoted to the living God, in which true believers might be edified to the salvation of their souls. The ministers here might have an excellent opportunity to obey and practise the command of the Saviour, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel"; but, unfortunately, they seek more their own comfort and ease than they do the glory of the Redeemer.
Of the German Society for the Settling in Pennsylvania.
The principal participants in this society of ours are the following-named gentlemen:–
Jacob von De Walle, Dr. John Jacob Schuetz, and Daniel Behagel, all of Franckfort-on-the-Mayne.
Gerhard van Mastricht, of Duisburg ; Thomas van Wylich, and John Lebrunn, of Wesel.
Benjamin Furly, of Rotterdam; Philip Fort, of London.
These persons will attend to and care for all letters and papers for our colony, and will also assist and give advice to all such as desire to emigrate, if such applicants be of good moral character and standing, and their motives and intentions for emigrating are honest and good.
In Pennsylvania the whole direction and management of the colony has been intrusted to my humble abilities, for the time being; and may the Almighty give me the proper wisdom and strength to fulfil all my arduous duties.
Of the Opportunities and Ways of Emigrating to this Country
From the month of April until in the fall of every year there are vessels sailing to Pennsylvania, at frequent times, from England, principally from the port of Deal, although there is no fixed time or day set for sailing, and persons are therefore compelled to watch their opportunity. Whenever there is a company of thirty-five or forty passengers together, exclusive of the ship's crew, a vessel is despatched. Every grown-up man pays for his passage the sum of £6 sterling, or thirty-six rix dollars. For a female or servant, twenty-two rix dollars. £ 1 sterling is equal to six rix dollars.
Of my own Voyage hither
After I had left London, where I had made all my arrangements with Penn's agent, and arrived at Deal, I hired four male and two female servants, and on the 7th of June, 1683, set sail with a company of eighty passengers. Our ship drew thirteen feet of water. ur fare on board was poor enough. The allowance of provision for ten persons per week was as follows: three pounds of butter; daily, four cans of beer and one can of water; every noon, two dishes of peas; four times per week salt meat, and three times salt fish, which we were obliged to cook, each man for himself, and liad daily to save enough from dinner to serve for our suppers also. And, as these provisions were usually very poor, and the fish sometimes tainted, we were all compelled to make liberal use o£ liquors and other refreshments of a similar nature to preserve the health amid such hard fare. Moreover, it is the practice of the masters of these vessels to impose upon their passengers in a shameful manner by giving them very short allowances. It is therefore advisable not to pay the passage in full in England, but to withhold a part until the arriving in America, so that they are obliged to fulfil their part of the contract. Furthermore, it is advisable to endeavor to obtain passage in vessels bound to Philadelphia direct, inasmuch as those who come in such, landing at Upland, are subjected to many and grievous molestations.
On the sixteenth day of August, 1683, we came in sight of the American continent, but did not enter the Capes of Delaware until the
18th ejusdem. The 20th ejusdem we passed by New Castle and Upland, and arrived toward evening at Philadelphia, in perfect health and safety, where we were all welcomed with great joy and love by the governor, 41'illiam Penn, and his secretary. He at once made me his confidential friend, and I am frequently requested to dine with him, where I can enjoy his good counsel and edifying conversations. Lately I could not visit him for eight days, when he waited upon me himself, requesting me to dine with him in future twice in each week, without particular invitation, assuring me of his love and friendship toward myself and the German nation, hoping that all the rest of the colonists would do the same.
Of the Duties and Labors of the German Colonist.
Our German society have in this place now established a lucrative trade in woollen and linen goods, together with a large assortment of other useful and necessary articles, and have intrusted this extensive business to my own direction. Besides this they have now purchased and hold over thirty thousand acres of land, for the sake of establishing an entirely German colony. In my newly laid out Germantown there are already sixty-four families in a very prosperous condition. Such persons, therefore, and all those who still arrive, have to fall to work and swing the axe most vigorously; for wherever you turn the cry is, Itnr in antiquam sylvam, nothing but endless forests. So that I have been often wishing for a number of stalwart Tyrolians, to throw down these gigantic oak and other forest trees, but which we will be obliged to cut down ourselves by degrees and with almost incredible labor and exertion, during which we can have a very forcible illustration of the sentence pronounced upon our poor old father Adam, that in the sweat of his brow he should eat his bread. To our successors, and others coming after us, we would say that they must not only bring over money, but a firm determination to labor and make themselves useful to our infant colony. Upon the whole, we may consider that man blessed whom the devil does not find idling. In the meantime we are employing the wild inhabitants as day-laborers, for which they are, however, not much inclined; and we ourselves are gradually learning their language, so to instruct them in the religion of Christ, inviting them to attend our church services, and therefore have the pleasing hope that the spirit of God may be the means of enlightening many of these poor heathens unto their souls' salvation. To Him be honor, praise, thanks, and glory, forevermore. Amen.