Chapter 14: Last-ditch efforts and a delinquent daughter

1794 aged 58

Böning [p 129] quotes a review of the first part of Bräker's diary in the Neue Allgemeine Deutsche Bibliothek, [New General German Library] vol.9, part 1, p 65 ff. It was very hostile, though its previous reaction to Bräker's autobiography had been favourable. It sounds rather as if the writer thought that a diary from one in Bräker's class was not worth publishing, such a writer "arrived at the crazy decision to write down everything which that day he had thought or not thought, done or not done, spoken, suffered, heard, seen or felt, or under certain circumstances could have said, suffered, heard, seen or felt. Fortunately very few men have the time or inclination to do so, and that is just as well. For often enough nothing better reaches the light of day, than what we have found in the diaries of the Poor Man of Tockenburg... for the rest we are [...] of the overwhelming opinion that as an author he is not in his right place."

It seems that once again Bräker had to defend himself against the charge of desertion from the Prussian army. Voellmy [v 1 pp 38-39 ] quotes his defence:

"Do people really believe that I play so fast and loose with solemn oaths? Thou Who knowest all, Thou knowest whether I have ever sworn a false oath, whether it could be called an oath, to stand with other recruits under some tattered banners, which I of course had to go along with for the form of it. But they would rather have had to force my mouth open and drive the words out with blows of the whip, and even then I would have said "No" in my heart."
[Voellmy points out that Bräker was not serving in a Swiss-only regiment, and so would not have sworn the usual oath taken by mercenaries.]


4th Jan. Bräker writes to Füssli asking for 10 doubloons to repay a debt to Füssli's son-in-law, Abraham Steger, and urges him to hurry on with the publication of more of his writings, since he has very little income from his business. He encloses this in a letter to the firm, asking for an advance of 10 louis d'ors, again to pay debts. [Chronik, p 406]

5th Jan. Bräker addresses his readers, recounting the ups and downs of his business, explaining how he comes to owe so much money - he spent it on supporting his children. [Chronik, p 406]

12th Jan. Bräker's second daughter Susanna Barbara leaves for Canton Glarus with her bridegroom Johannes Zwicky, a textile manufacturer.

[This was a surprisingly "good" marriage. Zwicky may have been a relative of Bräker's employer. Zwicky had some experience in the printing of "Indian" cloth and in dyeing, and was already in a managerial position.]
[Voellmy, v 1 p 45] So both parents approve Susanna's choice, but Bräker has to provide a dowry, including furniture, which following custom is displayed on an open cart before being taken to the couple's new home. [Chronik, p 406]

14th Jan. Bräker's youngest daughter Anna Maria goes to a wedding in the neighbourhood, for which Bräker has to buy her a new dress. "She came home very happy and contented, with a whole basketful of presents ... but they are all really only borrowed - and on the next such occasion will have to be repaid." [Chronik, pp 406-407]

16th Jan. Anna Lüthold, Bräker's first sweetheart, dies. Bräker writes a "Gedenkblatt", a memorial page about her in his diary, reproduced by Voellmy as v 2 plate 12.

The Chronik [p 407] adds that Bräker went to her funeral and that he had fond memories of her. He had seen her nearly every week since his return from Prussia, but had been careful not to do anything that might destabilize her marriage to his cousin Michel