GHDI logo

"The Education of the Countryman in Lippe" (1789)

page 3 of 6    print version    return to list previous document      next document

There, on long winter nights, the head of the household, the lady of the house, and the farmhands, young and old, spin a certain number of skeins of yarn, conventionally assigned to everyone according to age and other responsibilities. This is done by the light of a lamp hanging from a movable wooden hook in the middle of the room. The perhaps overly liberal conversations of the older folks are moderated by the presence of the children, the latter’s mischief is tempered by the seriousness of the old folks, and time is thus spent spinning in pleasant circles, time that otherwise would be frittered away only with contemptible deeds. Just how much would boredom torture the sort of people who cannot entertain themselves with speculative discourse, if constant work and activity did not benevolently grant them this entertainment?

How much yarn everyone, whether young or old, must supply in this spinning room shall be made clear in the graduated description of each person working industriously in this communal storeroom. The quantity to be supplied by the seven-year old boy, who tends geese, has already been mentioned.

At the age of nine, this boy becomes a cowherd. Herding cows lasts from May Day to Martinmas, during which time he must go to school for at least one hour a day at the lunch hour; alternatively, if that is not possible, he must learn the Heidelberg Catechism and psalms as prescribed by the schoolmaster, though he has to go to school for six hours during wintertime; however, in this period, he has to spin nine skeins of yarn over the long reel or 15 skeins over the small reel every day.

From age ten to 12, the activity remains the same: cow herding, attending school, and spinning the same quantity of yarn as in the previous period.

From age 12 into his 13th year, however, every Sunday afternoon during the summer he must go to children’s classes (to be precise, to church, where the preacher catechizes) so that the terms of religion are renewed in souls that would otherwise soon degenerate, and so that the young boy should not grow up in ignorance between cattle herds.

The cowherd receives, if he does not live with his parents, as pay for the summer 1 Reich thaler and 3 ells of Mengellakenlinnen (fabric made of flax hackled once to which is added weft made of tow) as a smock.

From the age of 13 onward, he becomes a stable boy, while in the wintertime he attends school for six hours from Martinmas (November 11) and goes every second day and eventually every day to the preacher for Confirmation, which usually takes place before May Day so that everyone can carry out the services within their responsibility.

During this time, from the age of 13 into his 16th year, in the summer he must, as a groom, drive the draft animals on the plow, sometimes operating the implement as well, help make hay during the hay harvest, and put down in order and rake swaths of cut grain during grain harvest.

first page < previous   |   next > last page