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The Early Life of a Nuremberg Tailor’s Son in the Second Half of the 18th Century (Retrospective Account)

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Now since he sensed a great inclination on my part, at some point the abovementioned Candidate Hofmann expressed toward my late father the wish that I be accepted into an elementary school [Normalschule, serving simultaneously for teacher training] [ . . . ] and after a brief exam I was taken on as a private pupil to the cantor at the time, Mr. Seiz, in the fourth and fifth year [Tertia] of Sebald School.

After three quarters of a year, when my teacher, Cantor Seiz, made a trip from which he did not return, Mr. Andreas Göz, M.A., was awarded the former’s teaching post, and I was given the honor of being nominated as a true pupil of the Tertia. Our new cantor at the time, Mr. Hummel, was a musician to the core and appreciated talent in this subject. He recognized in me a voice that could be called more than an everyday voice, delighting me with the position of sexton for early morning mass; up to then my fortune was made, and in those days I was so proud of the post given to me that I would not have traded with my father; the cause of this had been provided by a fellow student of mine who had the mad idea to die; and since I read on the funeral plate, ‘the respectable and learned…,’ I was completely infected with enthusiasm, since I imagined becoming a member of the Paris Parlament someday. [ . . . ]

[In 1758, Händler became Primaner [student in the second to last year of grammar school]; at Easter of 1760, he passed the school’s final exam.]

My father [ . . . ] talked to me in thoroughly sweet tones, saying there was nothing one could do at all and it was up to me to think of ways to scratch the money together for university. “You have two more siblings, and what would they say if I became a poor man because of you. Choose what living you wish, and I will provide for you, only you must forget about studying.” I asked for a little time to think about it [ . . . ]

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