August Bebel


Years of Apprenticeship and Wandering

“What business are you going to take up?” was the question which my guardian, an uncle of mine, put to me one day. “I should like to study mining!” “Have you any money for studying?” This question put an end to my illusions.

That I wished to study mining was due to the fact that iron ore mining had risen to great importance in the Wetzlar district after the Lahn had been made navigable as far as this town in the beginning of the fifties. Until then the iron ores had lain in the tunnels almost worthless, because the high cost of transportation made the exploitation of these ores rather unprofitable. Since the study of mining was out of the question, I decided to become a wood-turner. I declined the offer of a tin-smith to become his apprentice, for the man was not sympathetic to me, and had the reputation of being a drinker. I became a wood-turner simply because I had reason to assume that the husband of a friend of my mother, who was a master wood-turner and enjoyed the reputation of a capable man, would accept me as an apprentice. This came true. The reason which he gave for accepting me was peculiar. He said that he had heard that I had passed my religious examination well on the occasion of my confirmation in church. For this reason he assumed that I would be a useful boy in other respects. Now it is true that I was not a dull boy, but I should be lying if I were to claim that I became an artist in woodturning. There were some artists in that line, and my master was one of them, but in spite of all efforts I did not get beyond mediocrity. Nevertheless, three years later, I received the first mark for my journeyman’s work.

My physical ability was lessened by my bodily weakness. I was an uncommonly weak boy, and insufficient nourishment no doubt contributed to this result. For many years our supper consisted of only a piece of bread of moderate size, upon which some jam or butter had been spread thinly. If we complained that we were still hungry, which we did every day, our mother replied regularly: “The sack must be tied sometimes before it is full.'” She could not do any better. Under these circumstances it was natural that we should clandestinely cut off more bread whenever we had an opportunity. But mother would discover this at once and punish us. One day I had once again committed this crime. Altho I had tried hard to imitate the smooth cut of mother, she discovered the deed in the evening. For some reason, unknown to, me, her suspicion fell upon my brother, who at once received his drubbing with the broadside of an office-straight-edge belonging to the inventory of our late fathers. My brother protested that he was not the guilty party. But my mother thought he was lying and gave him a second beating. Now I wanted to tell her that I had done the deed, but just then it occurred to me that it would be foolish, because my brother already had his drubbing, and I should probably have gotten more. This was the consolation I offered to my brother, when he complained because I had not admitted my guilt. It is easy to understand why my ideal was for years to be able to eat my fill of buttered bread.

My master and his wife were very orderly and respected people. I received full board at the house, and while the food was not good it was very plentiful. My apprenticeship was strict and the hours of labor long. It began at five o’clock in the morning and lasted till seven o’clock in the evening, without a pause. From the turning bench we went to meals, and from meals to the turning bench. Immediately after rising in the morning I had to fetch four times two buckets of water for my master’s wife from a well a distance of about five minutes. For this I received 14 pennies per week. This was my pocket-money during my time of apprenticeship. I was rarely permitted to go out during the week, and hardly at all in the evenings, and then only by special permission. It was the same on Sundays, which was our principal business day, because then the farmers came to town and bought their tobacco, pipes and other things, or had their repairs made. In the later part of the afternoon or in the evening I was then permitted to go out for two or three hours. In this respect I was probably the most strictly-kept apprentice in Wetzlar. Often I cried with anger when I saw friends and comrades out for a walk on a fine Sunday, while I had to stand in the shop, wait for customers and clean the dirty pipes of the farmers. I had permission, however, to go to church on Sunday forenoon, after I had given up going to Sunday school. But this did not suit me. So I availed myself of the opportunity to play truant. But in order to be sure, and be safe against surprises, I always found out what hymn was to be sung and which one of the pastors preached. Nevertheless, fate overtook me one Sunday. The master asked me at supper whether I had been in church. I replied boldly: “Yes.” He continued his questions. “What hymn was sung?” I gave the number of the hymn, but discovered, to my discomfiture, that the two daughters, who were seated at the table, could hardly keep from laughing. And when I also gave a wrong answer to his third question, who the preacher was, they burst into a merry laugh. I had been trapped. I had gone to the church door too early, before the organist had posted the new number of the hymn and I had been misinformed concerning the name of the preacher. The master said, dryly, that I apparently did not care to go to church, and that I could stay at home in the future. So I lost a considerable portion of my freedom. From then on I devoted myself with so much greater zeal to the reading of books, which I perused at random, most of them being novels, of course. Even in school I had used my privileged position in my relation with comrades, whom I helped in the solution of problems, or whom I permitted to copy from me, for the purpose of borrowing books from them. In this way I managed to read “Robinson Crusoe” and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Now, I spent my scanty pennies for books from a circulating library. One of my favorite authors was Hackländer, whose “Soldier’s Life in Times of Peace” succeeded in dampening my military enthusiasm a good deal. I also read Walter Scott, the historical novels of Ferdinand Stolle, Louise Mühlbach and others. We had saved a few, historical books from the bequest of our fathers. Among these was one book which contained a very excellent sketch of the history of Greece and Rome, [though] I have forgotten the name of the author. There were, furthermore, some books on Prussian history, officially stamped, of course, whose contents I had memorized so well that I could recite all dates concerning the princes of Brandenburg-Prussia, famous generals, days of battles, etc., without difficulty. Impatiently I waited for the end of my apprenticeship. I had a longing to see the whole world. But things did not move as fast as I desired. On the same day on which my apprenticeship was completed, my master died, likewise of consumption, which was then epidemic in Wetzlar. Thus I got into the peculiar situation of becoming business manager on the same day on which I became a journeyman. There was no other journeyman, neither was there a son who could have continued the business. Consequently, my master’s wife decided to sell out gradually and give up the business. I would have gone thru the fire for her, for she was an unsually pretty and active woman for her age, and always treated me well. Now I demonstrated my devotion for her by working beyond my strength. From May to August I rose with the sun and worked till nine o’clock pm and later. At the end of January, 1858, the business had been closed up, and I prepared for my wandering tour. When I took leave of my master’s wife, she gave me a Prussian dollar, in addition to the wages due. On February 1, I started on foot in a heavy snowstorm. My brother, who was learning to be a joiner, accompanied me for about an hour. When we said good-bye, he broke into a flood of tears, an emotion which I had never noticed in him. It was the last time that I was destined to see him. In the summer of 1859, I received news that he had succumbed to a grave attack of inflammatory rheumatism within three days. So I was the last of my family.

My next stopping place was Frankfort-on-Main. From the station of Langgöns, I availed myself of the railroad, and so I arrived in Frankfort on the evening of the same day. I stayed in the lodging house, “Prince Carl.” I did not care as yet to accept a job, and so I rode, two days later, to Heidelberg by rail. Instead of glass windows, the train in which I rode had bergant curtains, which could be drawn. In those days, passports were compulsory. Journeymen had to carry a so-called wander book, in which the routes passed by them had to be entered by the police. Those who had no such “visum” were punished. In many cities, among them also Heidelberg the additional rule was enforced that the journeymen had to go to police headquarters between 8 and 9 A. M., in order to be examined by a physician, especially for infectious skin diseases. Whoever missed the official hour had to defer his departure to the next day, and did not get his “visum.” This happened to me, because I did not know the rule, and came too late to the police station. From Heidelberg I wandered on foot to Mannheim, and thence to Speier, where I found work. The treatment was good and the food likewise, also plentiful, but I had to sleep in the workshop, in one corner of which a bed had been put up. The same fate befell me also in Freiburg, in the Breisgau. At that time the custom still prevailed in the handicrafts that the journeymen received board and lodging from their master, and the lodging was often miserable. The wages were also low, amounting to about 2 marks per week in Speier. When I complained about this, the master said that he had not received any more either in his first position as a journeyman. That may have been about fifteen years earlier. As soon as spring came, I could not stand it any longer in the workshop. In the beginning of April I wandered off once more. I marched thru the Palatinate by way of Landau to Germersheim, and back across the Rhine to Karlsruhe, and then up country by way of Baden-Baden, Offenburg, Lahr to Freiburg, in the Breisgau, where I took work once more. In that spring the demand for journeymen tailors was exceedingly large. And as I wandered, well dressed and corresponded in my exterior to the conception that people generally have of a tailor, I was often accosted by master tailors in front of the town gate, because they mistook me for an object of their exploitation. Several of them did not want to believe that I was not a tailor, others excused themselves for having mistaken me for one, “because I looked just like a tailor."

In Freiburg, in Breisgau, I passed a very agreeable summer. Freiburg is, by location, one of the most beautiful cities of Germany. Its woods are charming, the hill of the castle is a magnificent piece of nature, and dozens of delightfully situated villages tempt one to make excursions into the country. But what I missed was a suitable companionship of congenial young men. In those days no community of fellow craftsmen existed. The guilds had been dissolved, and no new trade organizations existed so far. Nor did any political clubs exist that a workingman could have joined. The reactionaries were on tap everywhere in Germany. For mere pleasure clubs I had neither liking nor money. But I happened to hear of the existence of a Catholic journeymen’s club, which had its own clubhouse on Carl’s Square. Having ascertained that men of other denominations were also admitted by this club, I joined it, altho I was a Protestant at that time.

Later, as long as I stayed in southern Germany and Austria, I belonged to the Catholic journeymen’s club in Freiburg and Salzburg, and have not regretted it. In those days no fight between church and state had begun in Germany. Consequently, men of other denominations were treated very tolerantly in those clubs. The president of the club was always a priest. The president of the Freiburg club was professor Alban Stolz, who later became very prominent in the “Kulturkampf,” the fight of Prussia against the Vatican. The representative of the members was the Senior Journeyman elected by the membership, who was the most important man after the president. Lectures were given from time to time, and instruction was supplied in various lines, for instance, in French. So the clubs were a sort of educational societies. What development they took later on I cannot say. There were only Catholic newspapers in the clubroom, but they supplied news of the world’s happenings. That was the main thing for me, for I was greatly interested in politics, even during my last school years.

My need of companionship with ambitious young men of my own age also found satisfaction here. A peculiar element of the club were the chaplains, who were young and full of life, and glad to associate with congenial spirits of the same age. I have spent some very enjoyable evenings with such young chaplains. One such evening I passed in Munich, when visiting the journeymen’s clubhouse on my return trip from Salzburg in the beginning of March, 1860. When a member of the journeymen’s club left the town, he received a wander book, which identified him in the journeymen’s clubs and with the clergymen, in case he should want to ask them for assistance. I am still in possession of such a book, on the first page of which Saint Josef, with the Christ child in his arm, is painted. Saint Josef is the patron saint of the journeymen’s clubs. I became acquainted with its founder, the priest Kolping, then in Cologne, who, if I am not mistaken, was himself a shoemaker in his young days in Freiburg, in Breisgau, where he gave a lecture one day.

In September, I felt impelled to wander further on. I left Freiburg and marched in the most delightful weather thru the Hell Valley across the Black Forest to Neustadt, Donaueschingen and Schaffhausen. It was a wonderful view that presented itself to me in those days, when a mighty comet, that of Donati, shone in the heavens even in the afternoon, and displayed a rare splendor and a tail of unusual length. At that time the Black Forest still stood out in its whole majesty and beauty. In later decades the ax and the saw felled and thinned out large areas of the most magnificent timber. Modern development demanded it. I was not permitted to stay in Switzerland. Sojourn in Switzerland was forbidden to the Prussian journeymen by their government, for the Neuenburg feud had been envied only the previous year in favor of the Prussian government. Besides, the journeymen might have assimilated republican ideas, and this had to be prevented in the interest of law and order. When, in the spring of 1858, I asked for permission at the German Embassy to stay in Switzerland, I met with a refusal and a reference to the existing prohibition.

So I wandered along the Swiss shore to Constanz, crossed Lake Boden by boat to Friedrichshafen, and became seasick on account of the storm. From Friedrichshafen, I went on foot to Munich by way of Ravensburg, Biberach, Ulm and Augsburg. In Württemberg, the custom prevailed at that time to grant to the traveling journeyman a so-called town gift, which, as a rule, consisted of six kreuzers, in order to induce them not to beg. I conscientiously collected this gift everywhere. On leaving Ulm, I was joined by a heavy set Tyrolean, who looked like a butcher, but who was a tailor. Instead of the ordinary journeyman’s pack he carried a military knapsack on his back, which gave him a queer look, especially since he also wore a linen blouse. As we were short of money, and begging was not considered a disgrace for a journeyman, we rather frequently begged our way thru the villages which we passed. One noon we had adopted a strategic plan in a certain village. “You take the right side, I take the left one!” was the agreement. When I came to a house and asked for something, the daughter gave me a handout and warned me to be careful, because a policeman was near by. I took this warning to heart, and did not beg any more. But when I saw outside of the village, on the other side of the street, a big building, which looked as tho its inhabitants could afford to assist two journeymen, I could not resist the temptation, and walked up to it. Fortunately I looked at the building once more from the outside, before I walked up the six or seven stone steps and discovered, to my surprise, a sign above the door with the inscription “Royal Bavarian Field Police Station.” Thereupon I passed by reverently, and lay down in a meadow outside of the village in the bright sunshine, in order to wait for my traveling companion. At last he came along, and marched directly up to the house, which lay on his side of the street. Without looking at it from the outside, he walked up the steps and went in. I confess I was seized with a laughing fit at that moment. After some seconds, the Tyrolean came out of the house flying, jumped with one mighty leap over all the steps, and ran as fast as his legs could carry him. When I asked him, laughingly, what had happened, he related to me that he had gone straight to the kitchen, whence a very savory smell had emanated; but there a field policeman was standing with his sleeves rolled up, and had asked him gruffly what he wanted. He had grasped the situation at once, and ran off immediately. On the following afternoon we arrived in Dachau. Here my traveling companion suggested to me that we should both make the round of the master tailors. He thought I might risk that, because everybody took me for a tailor. I remark, by the way, that such a round of masters of one’s trade netted better gifts than ordinary begging. No sooner said than done. Cautiously enough, I permitted the Tyrolean to take the lead. That this was wisely done became evident immediately. We went up the steps of one house and rang the bell till the master came out. As soon as the Tyrolean said: “Two traveling tailors ask for a gift,” the master replied: “Very glad, I can employ both of you right now; let me have your wander books.” After a master had a man’s wander book in his hands, the slave’s chain was welded, and he had to begin work. While the Tyrolean was hesitatingly pulling his wander book out of his coat pocket, I faced right about, leaped downstairs in long jumps, and left the town. I regretted losing the companionship of the Tyrolean for he was a good comrade and pleasant associate.

At that time a straight highway, studded on both sides with spreading poplars, led from Dachau to Munich. The vista of the highway was completed by the steeples of the Woman’s Church in Munich, called the “boot jack,” by Heinrich Heine, which seemed to stand at the end of the several miles of highway. I was plodding on moodily, when a farmer with a wicker wagon came up behind me, evidently bound for Munich. The contents of the wagon were covered with a large sheet. The distance was still long, and it was late in the afternoon. I asked him, politely, whether he would permit me to take a seat in the wagon. He replied in his Bavarian German, which I did not understand at that time, but I interpreted his words as meaning consent. So I climbed on the wagon, and made myself comfortable on the sheet. The farmer looked around several times, and called out something to me, but I did not catch that either. At last we pulled into Munich. The wagon stopped in front of a store near Carl’s Gate. I jumped down, lifted my hat, and thanked him politely for the free ride. At the same time he had thrown back the sheet, and exposed a large clump of several pounds of butter clinging to it. Without knowing it, I had trampled with my feet a keg of butter which had been covered by the sheet. As soon as I saw the disaster that I had worked, I became red in the face, asked him his pardon, and declared myself ready to make good the damage. At the same instant two girls broke into a peal of laughter. They had been looking out of a first-story window and observed the spectacle. This made me still more embarrassed. But the farmer helped me quickly out of my quandary by roughly declining my offer of damages, with the words: “Get along with you; you haven’t anything yourself!” I did not wait for him to repeat his advice. With a few steps I had turned the corner of the Neultauser Street. Whenever I go to Carl’s Gate, in Munich, I am reminded of this scene.

I arrived in Munich on the day after the conclusion of the seven hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the city, which had lasted for a whole week, and which was immediately followed by the October festivities. The entire population was still in high feather, and it was very lively in the lodging house on Rosenstrasse, where the flavor of guild mannerisms was still strongly felt. I was received joyously, and remained in Munich for a whole week, where I liked it exceedingly well. But no matter how much my colleagues and myself tried to obtain work for me, it was in vain. All jobs were taken. So I decided to wander to Regensburg. In the company of another man, who likewise wanted to go there, I went to the Isar River, in order to see whether we could ride on a raft as far as Landshut. We had been told that we might ride free of charge, if we would be willing to lend a hand in rowing the raft, and that we could also get our board in that way. The first information was correct, the second was not. The Isar River, at that time, was low of water and had many turns. My traveling companion, who was from Treves, and who steered at the bow while I steered at the stern, sometimes handled his oar very clumsily, and so we ran aground on the sands several times, whereupon the owner of the raft became very angry, and showered a flood of vilification upon us. During one of my spells of rest, I engaged in a political conversation with the passengers, who were farmers, with the exception of one priest, and I became so excited over it that the owner of the raft threatened to throw “the damned Prussian” into the river, if I did not stop arguing. I kept still, for I did not care to get acquainted with the water of the Isar in October. When we arrived in Mosburg, toward evening, within a few hours from Landshut, we sneaked away. We had had enough of this ride.

At our night’s lodging, in the shape of a village inn, which we reached late at night, hailed with the barking of furious dogs, all rooms were overcrowded with guests, who wanted to be at the fair in Landshut next morning. We had to find a place in a barn, where several dozen men and women were already resting pell-mell. We had barely dozed off, shivering with cold, when we were awakened by a noise. One of the women, who was tucked away in the straw, had noticed her husband bestowing some rude caresses on a servant girl who was carrying a lantern and showing him the way to the barn. The woman gave him a lecture in the genuine Bavarian dialect, which stirred up all the sleepers, and called forth great laughter. In the morning it was still pitch dark, when we groped for an exit from the barn, and found out that we two, who had lain down on top of a pile of hay, had slid down on opposite sides during our sleep.

In Regensburg I found a job, together with a colleague who had come from Breslau. We had been warned not to take this job, because the master was said to be the greatest ruffian in Bavaria. But that did not scare me.

I did not meet with much in Regensburg worth telling. In the circle of our professional comrades with whom I congregated, there was no one, with the exception of the Breslauer, who had any higher intellectual wants. Whoever drank most was most prominent. So we two generally went to the theater on Sunday evenings, taking seats in the highest gallery, at nine kreuzers per seat. But one day we wanted to see a play also on a week day. This, however, was impracticable, because the close of our working time coincided with the beginning of the play. So we coaxed our cook to serve supper half an hour earlier, and told her we would set the clock in the room half an hour ahead. In those days the masters in southern Germany and Austria always served a warm supper. After the meal, we dressed quickly, and ran to the theater. At the instant when we entered from one side, the master and his wife entered from the other, and just then the clock on a neighboring church struck seven. Our working time would have been up only then. We had been found out. To our surprise, the master did not say anything to us next day, but he said to the cook: “Say, Katy, be on your guard against those Prussians; they set the clock half an hour ahead last evening."

From Regensburg, I made a visit to Walhalla, which offers a wide view across the plains from the top of the mountain. Louis the First of Bavaria, called the “German,” was the builder of the Walhalla, in which the bust of Luther was missing at that time from among those placed on exhibition there.

The winter of 1858 to 1859 was very long and hard. A heavy frost began as early as the middle of November. A quarrel with my master induced me to start out on the road on the first of February, in spite of cold and snow. The Breslauer joined me. We marched first to Munich, where we tried once more for work, but vainly. Then we marched on by way of Rosenheim to Kufenstein. Our entry into Austria worried us some. At that time every journeyman who wanted to travel across the frontier had to show five florin of traveling money. We did not have that sum. So we conceived the idea of traveling by rail from the last Bavarian station to Kufstein. In order to look as much as possible like gentlemen, we cleaned our shoes and clothes very carefully and put on a white collar. Our trick had the desired result. Our neat exterior, and the fact that we arrived by rail, deceived the field police. They let us pass without objection. Our trip on foot thru Tyrol proceeded amid great cold and over snow three feet high. The cold and the snow drove the chamois down from the mountains. We could hear their calls at dusk, while we were marching along. We were very much surprised over the fact that we received so much money on our begging excursions, mainly copper coins of the size of our present two mark piece. But when we paid our little bill next morning, we had to cover half the table of the inn with these copper coins. It turned out that they would be valueless in a few weeks, because the Austrian government had issued new coins. So the riddle of that great liberality was solved. People were glad to get rid of the depreciated coins.

At last, after a large of several days, we marched by way of Reichenhall directly to Salzburg, which we reached on a certain afternoon while the sun was shining beautifully. We stood rooted to the spot when, after the march around a small hill, the Monk’s Hill, we saw the city with its many churches and its Italian architecture before us.

What seemed like a riddle to me in after life, was that I never contracted any serious disease on all these marches, altho I was often drenched to the skin and froze dismally. My clothes were by no means adapted to such hardships, woolen underwear was an unknown luxury, and an umbrella would have been an object of jeers and taunts for a wandering journeyman. Often I slipped in the morning into clothes that were still damp from the previous day’s wetting, and then experienced the same fate on the following day. Youth overcomes much.

In Salzburg, I found work, while my traveling companion, assisted bountifully by the remainder of my money, continued his march to Vienna. In Salzburg, I remained until the end of February, 1860. Salzburg was one of the most beautiful cities of Germany, for at that time it still belonged to Germany; but it has the reputation of having many rainy days in summer time. An exception was the summer of 1859, which must be called wonderful. But that summer was also a war summer. The war between Austria on the one side, and Italy and France on the other, had broken out in northern Italy. This rendered life in Salzburg especially interesting, inasmuch as masses of soldiers of all kinds and nationalities were marching, amid songs and cheers, to southern Tyrol. A few months later the poor fellows came back sadly, and beaten, followed by hundreds of wagons with wounded and footsore men. But at first they were full of joyful confidence in their coming victory. I was so excited over the political events that, on Sundays, I did not leave the Tomaselli Café until I had read nearly all the newspapers, for I had neither the time nor the money to do so on other days. A Prussian in those days had a hard time in Austria. That Prussia hesitated to come to the assistance of Austria was considered treason by the Austrians. As a good Prussian, which I still was at that time, I attempted to defend the Prussian policy, but had disagreeable experiences in so doing. More than once I had to leave the table of the inn, if I did not wish to get a beating. But when the volunteer Tyrolean scouts arrived from Vienna, Lower and Upper Austria and opened up a recruiting office in Salzburg, the lust of adventure seized me. With another friend, a native of Ulm, I presented myself for enlistment. But we were told that they had no use for strangers, and that only Tyroleans would be accepted. Not being permitted here to take part in the fun, I decided to report at home as a volunteer, when I heard that Prussia was mobilizing its troops. I wrote immediately to my guardian to send me a few dollars for traveling expenses. After a while the money actually arrived, six Prussian dollars, but then I did not need the traveling expenses any more, for in the meantime peace had been concluded in Villafranca. The war was over. However, the money came handy when I traveled to Wetzlar in the spring.

Wages were low also in Salzburg, as they were everywhere in the wood-turning business. It was hard to save money under these circumstances. Late in the fall, I had bought my first winter coat, on the instalment plan, and as a conscientious man, I not only saved, I starved myself for the purpose of being able to pay the weekly instalments. In addition to this I was oppressed by a great care. Work was slack, and I, being the youngest, feared that I would be discharged from the shop after New Year’s Day. The master’s wife had heard of this from my colleague. When I presented my best New Year’s wishes to her and to the master, she gave me the comforting assurance that I could stay at my job until the time of my departure for home. This was a great relief to me. Involuntarily I thought of the New Year’s reception accorded the preceding year to the Austrian ambassador, Baron von Hübner, when he attended the congratulation exercises at the Tuileries. The address of Napoleon to Hübner on that occasion had been considered the tocsin of the Italian war.

In Salzburg, there existed a club of Catholic journeymen, with more than 200 members, among whom were not less than 33 Protestants, nearly all of them North Germans. I also joined the club, for the reasons previously given. The president of the club was a certain Dr. Schöpf, professor at the seminary for priests in that city. Schöpf was a young and handsome man, with a very amiable and jovial nature. It was said that he belonged to the Jesuit order. Schöpf knew, of course, that a number of Protestants belonged to the club.

At one of the meetings of the club, he declared frankly that he liked the Protestants best, because they were among the most diligent visitors of the club. Every Sunday evening he gave a well attended lecture, which dealt purely with morality, and which any one could have attended without regard to confession. I became acquainted with Dr. Schöpf, and at his invitation I often visited him on a Sunday afternoon in his home, where we chatted especially about the conditions in Germany and Austria. On such occasions he expressed surprisingly liberal views.

Christmas approached, and the customary Christmas celebration was to be arranged at the club. A small orchestra and a glee club had been formed by members of the club. They were to be a part of the program. In addition, Dr. Schöpf had suggested that other members, representing various German tribes, should recite. I was selected for this purpose as a representative of the Rhineland. I was supposed to recite a poem, entitled “Cigars and Men.” The rehearsals took place at Dr. Schopf’s home, where he treated us to beer and bread. At these rehearsals I happened to make a certain mistake every time that I recited the final rhyme, by using a word which fitted into the rhyme, but not into meaning of the poem. Dr. Schöpf warned me pointedly not to make this mistake on the evening of the celebration. The holiday was to be on December 19, and it arrived at last. An illustrious gathering attended the festivities! The prince bishop of Salzburg, the abbot of Saint Peter, a number of other clergymen, and representatives of the authorities. In due course my recitation was called for. Shortly before my appearance, Dr. Schöpf enjoined me once more to be careful, and I promised solemnly to do so. But with the powers of fate no eternal compact can be made, and fate marches rapidly. I made the same mistake, whereupon Dr. Schöpf’s arm rose up in the background of the hall and shook his fist at me. But the misfortune had happened. I believe that most of the audience did not notice it at all. In other respects the festivities passed off smoothly, and I went home in good spirits, without having sustained any injury to my soul.

In March, Saint Joseph’s Day, one of the great holidays of Austria, is celebrated. I have already mentioned that Saint Joseph is the patron saint of the Catholic journeymen’s club. A few days before this holiday, Schöpf made an impressive address to the Catholic members of the club, asking them to go to church without exception on that day. He said he knew that young men liked to evade going to church, but this time it would not do to discredit him like that, because the empress, the widow of Emperor Ferdinand, who lived in Salzburg, would surely hear about it, an she did much for the club. In the afternoon, he added smilingly, we would make a pilgrimage to Maria-Plain, a pilgrim’s place, whose church is splendidly situated on a hill in the middle of the plain, at least an hour’s march from Salzburg. There a keg of beer would be opened at the expense of the club’s treasury, and he would pay for a second keg out of his own pocket. He was sure that no one would miss that. Everybody laughed. I believe that events proved him to be right. The pilgrimage took place, we non-Catholics marched cheerfully and without exception, in line with the others, behind the banner which was carried by the senior journeyman. The banner represented a picture of Saint Joseph bearing the Christ child on his arm. After arriving at Maria-Plain, we inspected the richly decorated church. Then we proceeded to drink. The kegs were quickly emptied, and many a man marched back to Salzburg with tottering steps. The parade was dissolved. I don’t know to this day how the banner of Saint Joseph got back to Salzburg.

Dr. Schöpf, myself and a Hannoverian, started back home together. When we arrived at the city, he took us to a cafe, where we played billiards. It was the first and last time in my life that I played this game. Of course, we two lost, but Dr. Schöpf paid the bill.

At the end of February, 1860, I went home. About thirty years later a certain Knight von Pfister of Linz sent me a letter to Berlin, in which he said that he had intended to came to Berlin, and on that occasion to bring me regards from the prelate, Dr. Schöpf, in Salzburg, but illness had prevented him from making the trip, and so he sent Dr. Schöpf’s regards by mail. How it happened that Dr. Schöpf remembered me, I cannot say. It is hardly possible that he should have known that the nineteen or twenty-year-old wood-turner’s journeyman, if he remembered him at all, was the Socialist member of the Reichstag. Surely I did not make such a deep impression upon him. I rather assume that some colleagues of the Center party, to whom I had mentioned my Salzburg experience, reported it to the prelate. When I chanced to come again to Salzburg, in the beginning of the present century, Dr. Schöpf had been dead for several years. It is said that he preserved his jovial and serene nature and his full love of life to the end of his days.

I will not conclude my reminiscences of my Salzburg sojourn without mentioning at least one more incident, which furnished much cause for comment and laughter to us young folk. At that time, King Louis I of Bavaria, who resigned on account of the Lola Montez affair, lived in Leopoldskron Castle, close by Salzburg. The king, a tall gentleman, who often passed by our workshop attired in a grey summer suit, with a large and somewhat worn straw hat on his head and a strong crutch cane in his hand, loved to take walks by himself in the environment of Salzburg. One day, on one of his walks, he saw a boy making great efforts to pelt apples from a tree by throwing stones at them. The king stepped close to the boy and said: “Look, this is the way to do it.” And he hurled his cane with fine success into the tree. But the farmer’s wife had seen him from the house, which was situated close by, and crimson with rage, she came to her door, and, not knowing the king, shouted angrily: “You old reprobate, aren’t you ashamed to help that boy steal apples?” The king picked up his cane and shambled off. Next morning a servant appeared and handed a florin to the farmer’s wife, with the remark that it was payment for the apples which the gentleman had knocked out of the tree yesterday. When she asked, who the gentleman was, she received the surprising reply: “King Louis."

As I am here charging a dead Bavarian king with having stolen apples, I will add, in honor of truth, that I was not without sin in that respect. The prince-bishop had magnificent yellow plums in his garden that had captured my heart. On several occasions, when walking in this garden, I could not resist the temptation to appropriate some of this fruit. I take it that my sin did not hurt the prince-bishop, and the fruit agreed splendidly with me. Even my conscience felt relieved, when I read that Saint Ambrose, who was bishop of Milan about the close of the fourth century, had said:

"Nature gives all goods to all men in common; for God created all things, in order that enjoyment might be common. Nature, then, created the right of community, and it is merely unjust usurpation that produced the right of private property."

Could my action be excused, or even justified, more brilliantly?

Next: Back to Wetzlar and Onward!