Chapter 10: Becoming a published author

1st Jan. [1787] "My eyes begin to become weak - spectacles render me kind assistance - I begin to feel the burden of old age - but I do not trouble myself about it.[...] I will begin my diary again - will again pay strict attention to the tricks of my fickle heart - will continue to divert myself with my dear friends - which though I know them for the most part only by their writings - but I hope to meet with them in eternity - heaven shall be my desire - and the beauties of nature my pleasure - they lead me to our Creator." [Chronik, p 292]

2nd Jan. "Yes, O God, teach me to number my days! [Psalm 39, v 4] No day should go by on which I do not put by a crust of bread from my small earnings, to be used to revive a needy brother or sister. No sponger, no whore, who loves only my batzen, who caresses me only for my purse, shall take it from my thirsty brother. Yes, only for his sake will I limit my own needs. Only take my due penny, which is my sole income, from every poor weaver and spinner. My children must work and I myself will not waste a single hour in idleness. I will number my hours. I will hang up a striking clock near my bed, so that at night upon my couch I may hear the hours strike. I wanted to rent a meadow from my neighbour, so that in my older days I might enjoy a reminder of the patriarchal life of my youth, to provide fresh milk for my children, and besides sometimes to help now and then one of my neighbours lacking for milk. O generous God, do not withhold Thy favour, without Thee not a blade of grass can grow." [Voellmy, v 2 pp 120-121]

3rd Jan. Bräker goes to market in Lichtensteig, visits The Lion to change money and The Crown to check the post. Then he is expected at the home of "the great gentleman" [probably Giezendanner]. [Chronik, p 292] "I must pay a visit - smoke a pipeful and, and, and - nothing - just nowt - and yet the great gentleman is angry - if sometimes I don't come - they think that it is love towards me - maybe - but 'tis a strange love indeed - Firstly, they want to torment me for news of the streets about which I care nothing, or only because I will have something to say - and they won't torment me for nothing. Secondly, I should manifest my deep respect for the H[err] - which I can never do in all earnest - but only by laughing and jesting - Thirdly, I should be the court fool - the H would like to split his sides laughing - distort my words - say all kinds of uncouth and coarse things - make themselves merry at my expense - and raise a foolish laughter - And with that all those present, and if there are a few women present, feel and see - what a man of sense and gravity - how high he is exalted above such a poor fool... - yes, many a time they have made me writhe" [Böning, pp 140-141]

9th Jan. Bräker goes to Herisau and Schwellbrunn. Next day he starts out in the dawn in order to return as soon as possible to Jakob, who is ill again, but he is met by Johannes, dressed in mourning, who tells him that Jakob died in his mother's arms on the previous day. On the 11th Jakob is buried and Bräker writes of him "My son Jakob - was a true mirror of myself - of my bad qualities as well as my better side". On the 14th he writes that Salome has been "preaching" to the remaining children. He would rather leave them to their own thoughts. [Chronik, p 293]

26th Jan. Jakob the cowherd invites Johannes to a neighbour's house where they drink brandy. Bräker, who has himself been drinking wine, loses his temper, and at midnight fetches his son home and gives him a box on the ear. [Chronik, p 294]

9th Jan. Bräker goes to Lichtensteig, he has plenty to do there but allows time to cheer himself up with a bottle of wine. On the way home he is accompanied by a widowed hatmaker from Kappel, who wants to marry Bräker's eldest daughter, Anna Katharina. [Chronik, p 294]

6th Feb. Bräker leaves home after the midday meal on the pretext of having to go to Herisau on business as usual. He visits a business partner, probably Johannes Schweizer, a dealer in textiles, but spends the afternoon in Schwanden. He cuts the name of his "Phyllis" into a smooth beech-tree "to imitate the lovers of the heroic age". In the dusk he slips furtively into Lichtensteig and