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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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My married state sweetened all of the tribulations I had suffered previously, and truthfully, I must confess that when I thought of my previous situation and then regarded the current one, I was beside myself with delight. By comparison, my second wife was the very opposite, and my marriage turned out to be one of the blessed ones.

[ . . . ]

[After ten years’ wait, in 1785, Händler obtained the post of a ‘wedding inviter’ and ’funeral bidder’.]

[ . . . ] Thank God, my domestic affairs thus went quite satisfactorily, so that I could not thank God enough. However, just as misfortune had never been far off throughout my life, it was present now as well; my good, worthy, and honest wife was in the years when women for the most part become feeble and weak. God called my wife home.

I spent eleven years in happy marriage with my wife, fathering five children with her. Never had I been so overwhelmed with work than precisely at the time when my wife was bedridden. [ . . . ] My situation was really sadder than it had ever been before, so what was I to do but to get married again. My gentle readers must not believe that lust induced me to do so. Not at all; my two underage children were the main motive forcing me to take this step. [ . . . ] I fervently called on God to guide my heart to a virtuous person. [ . . . ]

[On January 7, 1793, Händler married for the third time.]

Source: Johann Christoph Händler, Biographie eines noch lebenden Schneiders von ihm selbst geschrieben [Biography of a Living Tailor Written by Himself], 2 Volumes. Nuremberg, 1798, Vol. I, pp. 1-160; Vol. II, pp. 48-50.

Reprinted in Jürgen Schlumbohm, ed., Kinderstuben, Wie Kinder zu Bauern, Bürgern, Aristokraten wurden 1700-1850 [Upbringing, How Children Became Farmers, Middle-Class Citizens, and Aristocrats 1700-1850]. Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1983, pp. 259-68.

Excerpted by the volume editor. Translated by Erwin Fink

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