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Chapter 6: Student of the Enlightenment
1773 aged 37
Autobiography 70 "Now as many as five years (1773-1777)":
96), and the expenditure on food, clothing, wood and so forth, with the grievous interest on my debts, were still eating up all my little profit, and more. My best hope rested on the distant years when my boys would be grown
97and able to help me. But if my creditors had taken against me they would long before have wiped out my living completely. But no! They had patience with me, and I for my part exerted myself to the best of my ability, to keep my word to them in full, if I could, but generally I did so by incurring new debts to meet the old.
98were very black days in my calendar, when I had to spend so many hours seeking credit once again. O, many a time my heart knocked against my ribs, when at three or four houses in succession I met with a Christian: "God help thee!" How often I wrung my hands before Heaven and prayed to Him who turns men's hearts according to His will, to direct one heart to come to my help. And every time my own heart was lighter from that moment on, and at last, after tirelessly searching and knocking on every door, I would find yet a few kindly souls, often where I least expected them. I had a few acquaintances, indeed, who had helped my in my need a hundred times already, but the fear of finally wearying them soon caused me to turn to them only as a last resort, and moreover, if I had failed only once to keep my word to one of them, that source of help would have dried up for ever; so I took as much care over them as if my life hung on it. For the rest, only a few of my neighbours and closest friends knew that I was up to my ears in debt, on the contrary, I succeeded in keeping the matter secret, in concealing my trouble and anxiety, and in appearing to other people cheerful and in good spirits at all times. And I believe that without this well-intentioned deception, it would have been all up with me long before.
99to borrow half a dozen doubloons for only a month. My fine gentleman made a hundred excuses, finally refused me outright, and then whispered in every ear that would listen: "Yesterday Bräker wanted to borrow money from me". Indeed, he did make some of my creditors uneasy. Others, however, said: "Ah, but he has always kept his word, and as long as he does so, my door shall always be open to him, for he's an honest man". And so it was these false friends who caused me the most trouble, to whom I could not disclose my affairs, if I did not
Bräker's youngest child, Anna Maria, was born in 1773. [Chronik p 93]
In 1773 Johann was six years old and Jakob four.
A town in canton Aargau. A fair was held there twice a year, these dates were appointed for the repayment of loans. [Chronik, p 303]
See note to chapter 57.