Friday, May 21, 2010

Evangelical Biography of Otto de Büren

I found this biography of Otto de Büren (1822-1888), former Mayor of Bern, in Evangelical Christendom, published in 1889 by the Evangelical Alliance. Otto was the President of the Swiss Branch of the Evangelical Alliance and a very devout Christian.

"The Evangelical Alliance has lost one of its most distinguished and valued supporters in the demise of Otto de Büren, whose death took place on December 25, 1888.

Born at Berne, September 19, 1822, and the only son of Colonel Albert Rudolf de Büren, Otto de Büren was placed at an early age under the care of Mons. Wenger, to whose careful training and skilful development of character and abilities Switzerland is indebted for several able and distinguished men.

After following a course of religions instruction under Mons. Gaudard, he made his first communion on Whit Sunday 1839, and it may well be said that it was not with him a ceremony observed as a custom, but one in which his heart and soul participated in faith and love. After a sojourn of a few months at Neuchâtel, whither he went to perfect himself in the French language, ha returned to Berne, and there prosecuted his studies in the law, and likewise in military strategy, etc. It was with zest and impressment that Mons. de Büren, in 1842, entered the army, his father's example, his previous training and love of physical exercise heartily inclining him thereto. His advancement was rapid. In 1855 he was commandant of the battalion of the town of Berne; in 1875 he became colonel, and commanded successively the 7th and 8th brigade of infantry. In 1882 he retired from active service, leaving his duties to younger men, able and willing to take them up.

As a soldier he was called to take part in the war of the Londerlund, and was adjutant to Colonel Bontems, a well-known Vaudois. His abilities were highly appreciated by his superiors, and not less was he beloved and trusted by the common soldiers, whose confidence he won from his first coming in contact with them.

When the municipal election in 1849 look place, Mons. de Büren was elected a member, and in 1850 was made a member of the Grand Council. He was re-elected every fourth year, during a period of thirty eight years, and continued in office up to the time of his death. He eventually held the proud position of President of that renowned body. This last proof of the high esteem and confidence in which his fellow-citizens held him was given in the spring of 1887.

When Strasburg was beseiged in 1870. Mons. de Büren, Mayor of Berne, Dr. Rômer, Mayor of Zurich, and Gottliel Bischoff, Chancellor of Bâle, were chosen at a conference held at Olten, to go to Strasburg, having a letter of recommendation to General Werder. The deputation succeeded in entering the city so long intimately connected with the land of Tell, and were received with loud cries of 'Long live Switzerland.' Thousands of women, children, and non-combatants were permitted to withdraw from the city, and enter Switzerland, under the protection of the noble men who had gone to their succour. Mons. de Büren has published a most interesting account of this episode in his life.

In 1833, the candidature of Mons. de Büren for the mayoralty was very severely contested, so much so, that a little later on, in 1888, he would not allow himself to be nominated to that office again. Times and men had changed. He felt the moment was come to retire and give place to others. His compatriots, however, were not ungrateful. When his decision became known, the Bernois organised an immense cortege with the intention of rendering homage to the magistrate who had served his generation during a quarter of a century, sans peur et sans reproche. To the multitude, Mons. de Büren spoke with a firm voice, in words of patriotism as ardent as they were disinterested, and in no way hesitating to avow his Christian principles. 'The honour which you do me,' he said, 'and for which I thank you, ought in verity to be given to one higher than I. It is God who has given me success! All glory be to him!'

The earthly career of this truly great and good man was now nearing its close. He fell asleep in Jesus on Christmas night, Dec. 25, 1888. Amidst all his sufferings, which were ofttimes acute, the consolations of religion were ever present, and bis soul filled with longing expectation of an abundant entrance awaiting him in the presence of the Lord."

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