Chapter 11: The importance of friendship

1789 aged 53

Several entries for this year have marginal notes to the editor, instructing him to conceal some identities, for example: Anna Katharina is to be described as the daughter of a neighbour.

The year begins with exceptionally cold weather. Bräker takes no part in the drinking and exchange of greetings at the New Year. [Chronik, p 336]

19th Jan. Bräker complains that everyone is asking him for money: beggars, creditors and his daughter's fiancée Mathias Wälli. On the 22nd he writes that he is alone with his two younger daughters, "the eldest is in Ennetbühl, reconnoitring her future dwelling-place". [Chronik, p 337]

27th Jan. "Yes, today the sun is shining again and makes for a real spring day. But yesterday it was an abominable day for the market at Lichtensteig. For 24 hours the rain poured down, it was horrible. The path for the sledges collapsed and the water rose rapidly. All the streets, under a monstrous fall of snow, were impassable to carriages and very difficult on foot. At some places the water ran down under the snow, at others it was held back and made veritable lakes. The market was visited by only a few people who lived nearby. Not a sackful of grain or the like came to market. The millers from Appenzell and other distant places came as far as Wasserfluh, from where they had only another half-hour to go to reach the town. But all the carters had to unload there and take the horses back. It was a scrimmage of horses and drivers. They stuck fast up to their bellies in snow, then in the mud and water, all of them wet though like drowned rats. Nobody is able to remember that there ever was a more annoying, obstinate, uncontrollable fall of snow than this one. It will neither bend nor break. Even down the valley one could not make a good sledge-way, it was rough and all full of holes. Neither man nor horse could get out of them. In the mountains most of the timber is still lying under snow where it lay in autumn." [Voellmy, v 2 pp 210-211]

28th Jan. "Old rubbish and old tomfoolery, always at your weather reports. Everyone can see it for themselves - says my droll neighbour Fritze. Quite right, neighbour, but our descendant ten years hence will know nothing about it, and yet it will be wonderful for him if he finds the events of nature so excellent. If he is no clod and has a little curiosity, it will please him, when he too makes observations on the weather, when he finds examples here and there of the same kind of events. And if he is a blockhead, well then, it is still a pleasure to me to record the great doings of Nature and the remarkable actions of the elements. Just as great a pleasure as it was for Frederick the Great to record the history of his time. It might be a very admirable work for statesmen. I too read it with enjoyment, because I too served a short while under his great men, and shot off a few hundred rounds for them.[...] To observe beautiful Nature, wind and weather in their courses, is my favourite study. Apropos, this morning there was a beautiful rainbow. What might that mean? Ha, fine weather." [Voellmy, v 2 pp 211-213]

Böning [p 66] quotes the end of this passage differently:

"I have truly no such things to describe, but mischievous tricks in my own narrow circle - and there are enough of all kinds of foolish matters: but, as I said before - to observe beautiful Nature, wind and weather in their courses, is my favourite study - apropos - this morning there was a beautiful rainbow - and on the 6th in the most dreadful cold another one - what may that mean? - so says the little mother, ha, fine weather, silly boy."

On the same day Bräker writes to Imhof thanking him for money and asking him to thank Füssli for him. He is pleased with his writings now that Füssli has revised them. [Chronik, p 338]