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From A Literary Source-book of the German Renaissance, by Merrick Whitcomb, PH. D., University of Pennsylvania; 1900; pp. 99-112.



Thomas Platter, 1499-1582, affords another example of the strong general impulse toward intellectual advancement which characterized the eve of the Protestant Reformation in Germany. Born in Switzerland, in the canton of Wallis, Platter obtained the rudiments of his education at Schlettstadt, in the upper Rhine country. Successively rope-maker, proof-reader, publisher and finally chosen rector of the city school of Zürich, Platter, like Butzbach, ever displayed an ardor in the pursuit of learning, which no obstacles nor temporary interruptions of his course of study were able to extinguish. Led away in childhood upon a course of mendicancy and thievery, he came unscathed through these adverse experiences, retaining only an inflexible desire for that culture of which his wanderings had afforded so meagre a foretaste. A follower of the Zürich reformer, Platter took an active art in the struggles of the Zwinglian party, became one of the leaders in Swiss Protestant life, and died full of years and honors.


When they would no longer let me herd the goats I went to a farmer who had married one of my cousins, a miserly and ill-tempered man. I had to herd his cows, for in most places in Wallis there were no common cow-herds; and whoever had no mountain pasture, whither he might conduct his cattle in summer, kept a herder for them, who pastured them on his employer’s property. After I had been there for a while my cousin Fransy came, and wished to take me to my cousin, Master Antoni Platter, in order that I might learn my letters, as they say, when they put anyone in school. This cousin Antoni was no longer stationed at Grenchen, but at the church of St. Nicholas, in the village they call Gassen. When the farmer, who was called Antscho (that is Antoni) an der Habzucht, heard my cousin’s intention, he was much dissatisfied. He said I would learn nothing; and putting 100 the index finger of his right hand into the palm of his left, he added: “He will no more learn than I can poke my finger through my palm.” I saw and heard this. Then my cousin replied: “But who can say? God has not denied him gifts. He might become an excellent priest.” So she took me to the master. I was, I think, about nine or nine and a half years old. At first it was very unpleasant for me, because the master was a high-tempered man, and I an awkward peasant lad. He beat me savagely, seized me often by the ears and drew me from the hearth, so that I shrieked like a goat with the knife at his throat, and the neighbors often cried out against him, that he would murder me.

I did not stay long with him. About this time there came along another cousin, who had been away to school in Ulm and Munich in Bavaria. He was a Summermatter, son of my old grandfather’s son. This student was named Paulus Summermatter. When my relatives spoke to him of me, he promised to take me with him and put me to school in Germany. As I learned of this I fell upon my knees and prayed to God the almighty, that he would deliver me from the parson, who had taught me just nothing at all, but had beat me sore; for all I had learned was to sing the Salve for eggs, along with other pupils, who were also at the parson’s in the village. One time we thought we would perform a mass; so the other youngsters sent me into the church for a candle, which I stuck all lighted into my sleeve, and burned me, so that I bear the mark of it to this day.

When the time came for Paulus to set again upon his wanderings, I was to join him at Stalden. Near Stalden is a house called “The Mühlbach.” There dwelt a man, called Simon zu der Summermatter, my mother’s brother, who was supposed to be my guardian. He gave me a golden florin, which I carried in my hand all the way to Stalden, and often on the way I looked to see if I still had it; and there I gave it over to Paulus, and thus we went forth from home.

I had to beg now for myself and also to provide for my bacchant, Paulus; and on account of my simpleness and rustic speech people gave me freely. When at evening we crossed the Grimsel mountain and came to an inn, I saw there for the first time an earthenware stove. The moon was shining on the tiles of the stove and I thought it was a great calf, for I saw only the two tiles, and these 101 I took for its eyes. Next morning I saw some geese, which I had never seen before, and when they hissed at me I thought it was the devil, and that he would eat me up; and I fled screaming. At Lucerne I saw tiled roofs for the first time, and I marvelled at the red roofs. We came thence to Zürich, where Paulus waited for certain companions, who were to journey with us toward Meissen. In the meantime I went begging and completely provided Paulus’ support, for whenever I entered an inn the people were pleased to hear me speak the dialect of Wallis and willingly gave to me. At that time there was a certain man in Zürich, who came from Wallis stock, an eccentric man, Karle by name, who was generally thought to be an exorcist; for he knew at all times what was going on here and there. He was well known to the Cardinal. This Karle came to me (for we had taken lodgings at a certain house), and said that if I would let him give me a certain number of stripes on my bare back, he would give me a Zürich piece of six. I allowed myself to be persuaded, and he seized me fast, laid me across a chair and lashed me well. When I was done smarting he begged of me I should lend him the money back again; he wished to sup with a lady, and was in need of a piece of six to pay the bill. I gave him the money, and never saw it again.

After we had waited from eight to nine weeks for our companions, we set out for Meissen. For me it was a long journey, for I was not accustomed to go so far, and moreover I had to look out for our subsistence on the way. We set out then, eight or nine of us altogether, three little schützen, the rest, big bacchanten, as they were called, among whom I was the smallest and the youngest schütze of all. When I did not travel briskly enough, my cousin Paulus, who walked behind, pricked up my paces with a switch or a stick, laid upon my bare legs; for I had no hose and my shoes were worn out.

I can recollect no longer all that happened to us on the way; but some things I remember. While all sorts of things were being discussed as we marched along, the bacchanten remarked to each other that it was the custom in Meissen and Silesia to permit scholars to steal geese and ducks and other things to eat, and that nothing would be done to them, unless they allowed themselves to be taken by the one to whom the property belonged. One day, not far from a village we saw a great flock of geese, unaccompanied by the goose-herd (for each village has its especial 102 goose-herd), who was quite a distance away in company with the cow-herd. Thereupon I asked my companions, the schützen: “When shall we be in Meissen, where I may kill geese?” They said, “We are there now.” Then I took a stone, threw at a goose and hit it on the leg. The other geese flew away; the lame one, however, could not follow. Then I took another stone and hit it on the head, so that it fell; for I had learned the art of throwing stones while I was herding goats, so that no herder of my age could surpass me; and I could blow the herder’s horn and leap with poles, for I had exercised these arts among my fellow herders. Then I ran up to the goose, seized it by the neck, stuck it under my coat and went on through the village. But the goose-herd came running after me and cried: “The boy has stolen one of my geese!” I and my fellow schützen with me took to our heels, and the goose’s feet were sticking out from under my jacket. The peasants came on with spears, which they knew how to throw, and followed close upon us. When I saw that I could not escape with the goose, I let it drop. Beyond the village I sprang aside from the road into the bushes, but two of my companions who kept to the road, were overhauled by the peasants. They fell upon their knees and begged for mercy, saying that they had done them no harm; and when the peasants saw that none of them had let the goose drop, they went back into the village, taking the goose with them. When I saw, however, how they pursued my companions, I was in deep distress. I said to myself: “Good heavens, I surely think I have not said my prayers today!” For I had been taught to say my prayers every morning. When the peasants returned to the village they found our bacchanten at the inn; for they had gone on ahead, and we were following. The peasants were of the opinion that they should pay for the goose; it was a matter of two pence. I do not know whether they paid or not, but when they came back to us, they laughed and asked us how we had fared. I tried to excuse myself on the ground that it was the custom of the country; but they said, the time for that had not yet come.

On another occasion a murderer came upon us in a wood, eleven miles this side of Nuremberg, when we happened to be all together. He sought to trifle with our bacchanten, in order to detain us until his companions came together. We had with us at that time an honest fellow, by name Antoni Schallbetter, from Visperzehenden 103 in Wallis, who feared no four or five as he had often shown in Nuremberg and Munich, and in many other places. He threatened the murderer, ordering him to get out of the way; and he did so. It was so late, however, that we could only reach the nearest village. There were two inns, but few houses beside. When we entered one of the inns, the murderer were there before us, and still others, without doubt his companions. We would not stay there, and went to the other inn, but they came thither also. At supper time the people of the house were so busy that they would give us little fellows nothing to eat, for we never sat at table with our bacchanten. Nor would they give us any bed, but we must lie in the stables. When, however, they were conducting the big fellows to bed, Antoni said to the host: “Host, it seems to me you have rather unusual guests, and that you yourself are not much better. I tell you, landlord, you had better put us where we shall be safe, or we will kick up such a row for you, that your house will not be big enough to hold it.” For the rascals made every effort to engage our fellows in a game of chess, a thing which I had never heard of before. Then they were shown to bed, and I, with the other little fellows, were sent to lie supperless in the stables. There came in the night certain ones, the host himself with them very likely, to the chamber door, and sought to open it. Now Antoni had set a screw against the lock upon the inner side and rolled the bed against the door and made a light; for he always carried candles and flint and steel with him; and quickly he wakened his companions. When the rascals heard this, they went away. Next morning we found neither host nor servant. This is the story they told to us boys. We were all rejoiced that nothing had happened to us in the stable. After we had gone a good mile, we met with people, who, when they heard where we had passed the night, expressed their surprise that we had not all been murdered, for the entire village has the reputation of being a murderers’ den.

About a quarter of a mile this side of Naumberg our big fellows remained behind in a village; for when they wished to feast, they sent us on ahead. There were five of us. Then rode eight men out of the open country upon us with cross bows spanned, and demanded money, and turned their bolts upon us; for as yet no one bore firearms on horseback. Then one of them said: “Give us money!” One of us, who was pretty well grown, replied: 104 “We have no money; we are poor scholars.” A second time he cried: “Give us money!” But our companion said: “We have no money, and will give you no money, nor do we owe you any.” Then the horseman drew his sword, and aimed a blow at his head, so that he severed the cord that held his pace. Our comrade, was called Johannes von Schalen, and was from the village of Visp. Then they rode away into a wood, but we set off for Naumburg. Soon our bacchanten came along; they had not seen the rascals. We have often at other times been in danger from horsemen and murderers, both in the forest of Thuringia, in Franconia and in Poland.

At Naumberg we remained several weeks. We schützen went into the city. Some, who could sing, went singing, but I went begging. We attended no school, and the others would not suffer this, but threatened to force us to go to school. The school-master also ordered our bacchanten to go to school, or they would be arrested. Antoni sent him word to come ahead; and since there were several Swiss there, they let us know what day they were coming, so that we should not be taken unawares.

Then we little schützen carried stones up to the roof, while Antoni and the others held the doors. When the school-master came with his whole following of schützen and bacchanten, we youngsters threw stones upon them, so that they gave way. Thereupon we learned that we had been complained of before the city authorities. We had a neighbor, who was about to give his daughter a husband. He had a pen full of fat geese, of which we took three by night and retired to another quarter of the town. It was a suburb, without walls, as indeed was the place where we had formerly been. There the Swiss joined us, and they feasted together. Then our fellows went to Halle in Saxony, and we entered the school at St. Ulrich’s.

There, however, our bacchanten used us so shamefully that several of us conspired with my cousin Paulus, with the intention of running away from the bacchenten. In this manner we came to Dresden; but there were no good schools there, and our sleeping-rooms were so full of vermin, that at night we could hear them crawling under us in the straw.

Again we got under way and came to Breslau. On the way we suffered much from hunger, so that often we had nothing to eat but raw onions with salt, often for several days only roasted 105 acorns, wild apples and pears. Many a night we lay under the open sky, when no one would suffer us to enter his house, however politely we begged for lodging; sometimes they set the dogs upon us. In Breslau, however, everything was abundant; so cheap, indeed, that the poor scholars overate and often fell into serious illness. At first we went to the school in the cathedral of the Holy Cross. When, however, we learned that there were some Swiss in the upper parish of St. Elizabeth, we went thither. There were two from Bremgarten, two from Mellingen and others, and many Swabians as well; there was no distinction made between Swabians and Swiss. We addressed each other as compatriots and protected each other.

The city of Breslau has seven parishes, and each parish has a separate school. No scholar is permitted to sing in another parish than his own, or they cry, Ad idem! ad idem! and the schützen rush together and fight fiercely. There are said to have been several thousand bacchanten and schützen in the city at one time, all of whom were supported by alms; some had been there from twenty to thirty years and even longer, and they had their schützen, who begged for them. I have often of an evening carried five or six loads to my bacchanten at the school where they dwelt. People gave very willingly to me, because I was small and a Swiss; for they were very fond of the Swiss. There was great sympathy for the Swiss, because at this time they had fared ill in the battle of Milan, wherefore it was the custom to say, “The Swiss have lost their good luck;” for previously it was the belief that they were well night insuperable.

One day at the market-place I met two gentleman or squires, and later on I learned that one of these was named Benzenauer and the other Fugger. As they were walking by, I begged for alms, as was the custom with the poor scholars. The Fugger said to me, “Whence come you,” and when he heard that I was Swiss, he spoke aside with Benzenauer and then said to me: “If you are really Swiss, I will adopt you and sign the papers before the authorities here in Breslau; but you must bind yourself to remain with me all your life long, and to attend me wherever I may be.” I replied: “I have been entrusted to the care of a certain person from home, and I will speak to him about it.” When, however, 106 I mentioned the matter to my cousin Paulus, he said; “I have brought you from home and it is my intention to turn you over again to your own people; what they tell you to do, that you can do.” So I declined this Fugger’s offer, but as often as I went to his house his people did not permit me to come away empty-handed.

There I remained a long time. One winter I was sick three times, so that I had to be taken to the hospital. The scholars have their special hospital and their own physician. The city gives sixteen heller a week for each scholar, and this answers very nicely. They have good care and good beds too, but there are so many insects that I preferred to lie in the common room, or, as many did, on the stove. The scholars and bacchanten, indeed the ordinary men, in many cases are so full of vermin that it is beyond belief. Many a time, especially in summer, I went out to the Oder, which flows by the city, washed my shirt and hung it up on a bush to dry; meanwhile I picked the vermin from my coat, dug a hole in the ground, threw a handful of lice into it, covered them up with earth and set a cross upon the place. In the winter the schützen lay upon the stove; the bacchanten, however, slept in their cells, of which there were several hundred at St. Elizabeth; in summer, however, when the weather was warm, we slept in the churchyard, collecting the grass, which in summer was spread in front of the houses in the fine streets on Sunday. This we carried to the churchyard, heaped it together in a corner, and there we lay like pigs in straw; but when it rained, we ran into the school, and during thunder showers we sang responses and other offices with the chanter almost the whole night through. Once in a while after supper in summer we went begging in the beer-houses. The drunken Polacks gave us so much beer that I often unwittingly became drunk, so that I could not get back to the school, although I was only a stone’s throw away. On the whole there was enough to eat in Breslau, but not much studying.

In the school at St. Elizabeth nine bachelors lectured at the same time in one room; of Greek there was no trace anywhere in that part of the country; moreover, no one had any printed books, except the teacher, who had a printed Terence. Whatever was presented had to be dictated in the first place, then analyzed, then construed, and at length expounded; so that the bacchanten had loads of trash to carry when they went home.


Thence eight of us went on to Dresden. We suffered greatly from hunger on the way. One day we determined to divide our forces; certain ones should go after geese, others after turnips and onions, one should bring a pot, and we little ones were to go to the town of Neumarkt, which lay not far away upon our road, and procure bread and salt. At evening we were to come together outside the town, and cook whatever we had collected. About a rifle-shot distance from the town was a spring, where we intended to spend the night. When the people in the town saw the fire, however, they came out, but did not find us there; we took to our heels behind a ridge of ground toward a pond in the woods. The big fellows piled up bushes and made a hut; some of us plucked the geese, of which we had two; while others prepared the turnips for the pot, and put therein the heads and feet and entrails of the geese; still others made two wooden spits and began to roast the geese, and as soon as they were a little reddened with the heat we took them from the spit and ate them; and the turnips as well. In the night we heard a noise; near-by was a fish-pond; during the day the water had been drained off, and the fish were leaping in the mud. We gathered up the fish, as many as we could carry in a shirt fastened to a staff, and went hence to a village. There we gave one fish to a peasant, on condition that he should cook the others in beer for us.

When finally we came to Dresden, the schoolmaster and our bacchanten sent some of us boys forth to look about for geese. We agreed that I should throw at the geese, while the others were to get them and carry them away. After we had found a flock of geese, and they had caught sight of us, they flew away; then I threw a little club which I had with me up under them as they flew, and struck one of them, so that it fell to the ground. But my companions saw the gooseherd and dared not run for it, although they had considerably the start of the herder. Then the other geese flew down and surrounded the wounded goose and gabbled as though they were speaking to it; and it stood up again and went away with the others. I was vexed with my comrades, that they had not carried out their promises; but we did better after that, for we brought home two geese. These the bacchenten ate with the schoolmaster at a farewell feast. Thence we set out for Nuremberg and further on to Munich.

On the way, not far from Dresden, it happened that I went begging 108 into a village and came up to a peasant’s house. The peasant asked me who I was; and when he heard that I was a Swiss, he asked if I had not comrades who were also Swiss. I said: “My comrades are waiting for me outside the village.” Then he answered: “Tell them to come!” He prepared a good meal for us and gave us plenty of beer. When we were quite comfortable and the peasant with us, he said to his mother, who lay on the bed in the common room: “Mother, I have heard you say, you wanted very much to see a Swiss before you died; now here you see several of them; for I have invited them on your account.” Then the mother raised herself, thanked her son for the guests and said: “I have heard so many good things said about the Swiss, that I was very anxious to see one. It seems to me I shall now die that much easier; therefore make merry!” and she lay down again. We thanked the peasant and departed.

As we came near Munich it was too late to see the city, so we had to spend the night in the lazaretto. When on the following morning we came to the city gate, they would not admit us; we had, however, an acquaintance in the city, whom we gave as reference. M cousin Paulus, who had been in Munich before, was permitted to look this man up, with whom he had lodged on the occasion of his former visit. He came and went security for us, and then they let us in. Paulus and I went to the house of a soap-boiler, named Hans Schräll, who had taken his master’s degree at Vienna, but was an enemy to priestcraft. He had married a beautiful girl, with whom he came, many years later, to Basel, where he worked at his trade; and many people here know him. I helped this master boil soap more than I went to school; went with him to the villages, buying ashes. Paulus, however, went to the school in the parish of Our Lady and so did I, but rarely, merely because I had to sing for bread through the streets and support my bacchant, Paulus. The woman of the house was very fond of me; she had an old blind black dog, and it was my task to feed him, make his bed, and lead him into the court. She always said: “Tommy, take the best care of my doggy; you won’t be any the worse for it.” When we had been there a time, Paulus began to get too friendly with the maid. This the master would not permit. Then Paulus determined that we should go home, for we had not been at home in five years. So homeward we turned toward Wallis. My friends there could scarcely understand 109 me; they said: “Our Tommy speaks so strangely that scarcely anybody can understand him;” for I was young then, and had learned a little of the speech of every place where I had stopped a while. In the meanwhile my mother had taken another husband, for Heinzmann am Grund was dead; at the end of her period of mourning she had married Thomas an Gärstern. On this account I could not be with her much, but spent most of my time with my cousins, especially with my cousin Simon Summermatter and my cousin Fransy.

A little later we set out again and came to Ulm. Paulus took still another boy with him, named Hildebrand Kalbermatter, a parson’s son; he too was very young. They gave him some cloth, such as was made in the country, enough for a coat. When we came to Ulm, Paulus had me go about with the cloth and solicit the money for making it up. In this way I got a good deal of money, for I was an expert at flattery and begging, and for this reason the bacchantes had used me for this purpose from the beginning, and would not let me go to school, nor even learn to read. There at Ulm I seldom went to school, and at first, when I ought to have been going, I went about with the cloth, and suffered greatly from hunger; for everything that I obtained I brought home to the bacchanten. I dared not eat a morsel, for I feared a beating. Paulus had associated with him another bacchante, Achatius by name, a Mainzer by birth. My comrade and I had to support them by begging, but Hildebrand ate almost everything. Therefore they used to follow him through the streets, in order to catch him eating, or they made him rinse his mouth with water and spit it out into a dish, so that they could see if he had eaten anything. Then they threw him upon a bed, placed a pillow upon his head, so that he could not cry out, and they beat him, these two bacchantes, until they could beat him no longer. Wherefore I was afraid and brought everything home. Often they had so much bread that it moulded; then they cut off the mouldy part and gave it to us. I have often suffered severely from hunger, and from cold as well, for I had to go about in the darkness until midnight and sing for bread.

I must not forget to relate that there was a kind widow living at Ulm, who had two unmarried daughters and one son, Paulus Reling, who was also unmarried. Often in winter the widow wrapped my feet in a warm piece of fur, which she put behind 110 the stove, so that she could warm my feet when I came. She gave me then a dish of porridge and sent me home. I have been so hungry that I have driven the dogs from bones and gnawed at them, and I have sought and eaten out of the garbage.

Thence we went again to Munich. There I was obliged again to beg for money to make up the cloth, which, however, was not mine. A year later we returned to Ulm, with the intention of turning again toward home. I brought the cloth back with me, and begged again for the price of making. I distinctly remember that certain persons said to me: “Good heavens, is that coat not made yet? I guess you are playing us a trick.” So we went away. I know not what became of the cloth, or whether the coat has been made or not. We came home, however, and went again to Munich.

On the Sunday of our arrival the bacchanten found lodgings, but we three little schützen were not so fortunate. Toward night we sought to go into the enclosure, that is to say the corn-market, in order to lie upon the sacks. Several women were sitting there near the salt-house, and asked where we were going. When they learned that we had no lodgings and that we were Swiss, one of them, a butcher woman, said to her maid: “Set the pot with what soup and meat is left over the fire. They must stop with me to-night, for I am fond of the Swiss. I once served at a tavern in Innsbruck, when the Emperor Maximilian was holding his court there. The Swiss had much to do with him at that time. They were so kind to me that I shall be fond of them so long as I live.” She gave us enough to eat and to drink, and lodged us well. Next morning she said to us: “If one of you wishes to stay with me, I will give him his lodgings and his meat and drink.” We were all willing, and asked which one she wanted; and as she looked us over, I seemed to her a little livelier than the others. So she took me, and I had nothing to do but hand her her beer, bring hides and meat from the shambles, and now and then accompany her to the field; but besides this I had to support my bacchant. That displeased the woman and she said to me: “Good heavens, let that bacchant go, and stick to me! You do not need to beg.” For a week I went neither to my bacchant nor to school. Then came my bacchant and knocked at the door of the butcher-woman’s house. She said to me: “Your bacchant is there. Say that you are 111 sick;” and she let him in. She said to him: “You are a pretty gentleman, in truth; and you want to see, do you, what Thomas is doing? Well, he has been sick, and is so still.” Then he said, “I am sorry, youngster. When you can go out again, come to me.” Some time after I went one Sunday to vespers, and after vespers he said to me: “Here, you schütze, you don’t mean to come to me! I will give you a good drubbing.” I made up my mind, however, that he should not beat me any more, and I concluded to run away. On Monday I said to the butcher-woman: “I think I will go to school and then go and wash my shirt.” I dared not say what I had in mind, for I feared that she might talk me out of it. I set out for Munich with heavy heart, partly because I was running away from my cousin, with whom I had travelled so far, but who was so harsh and merciless with me. Then too, I was sorry to leave the butcher-woman, who had been so kind to me. I crossed the river Isar; for I feared if I went toward Switzerland, that Paulus would follow me. He had often threatened me and others, that if any one should run away from him, he would pursue him, and when he caught him he would break every bone in his body.

Across the Isar is a hill. There I sat down, gazed at the city and wept softly to myself, that I had no longer anyone to take me up. My intention was to go toward Salzburg or toward Vienna in Austria. While I sat there a peasant came along with a wagon, carrying salt to Munich. He was already drunk, although the sun had only just risen. I begged him to let me ride, and he let me go with him, until he unhitched to feed. While this was going on I begged in the village; and not far beyond the village I waited for him and, while waiting, fell asleep. When I awoke, I wept bitterly, for I thought the peasant had gone along, and grieved as though I had lost a father; but soon he came along, now thoroughly befuddled. He told me to mount again and asked me where I wanted to go. I said, “To Salzburg;” and when evening came he left the highway and said: “Jump down: there is the road to Salzburg.” We had travelled eight miles during the day.

I came to a village, and when I arose the next morning such a frost had fallen that it was like snow, and I had no shoes, only tattered stockings: no cap, only a jacket without folds. In this guise I went on to Passau, and from there it was my intention 112 to go to Vienna by the Danube. When I came to Passau they would not let me in. Then I determined to go to Switzerland, and asked the watchman at the city gate, which was the nearest way. He said, “By way of Munich;” but when I replied; “I do not wish to go by the way of Munich. I had rather make a circuit of ten miles or even further,” he pointed out the way by Freisingen. There is a high school, and there I found Swiss, who asked me whence I came. But only two or three days passed before Paulus came with a halberd. The schütze said to me: “Your bacchant from Munich is here looking for you.” Upon this I ran forth from the city gate, as though he were upon my heels, and made for Ulm.

I went to my saddler’s wife, who formerly had warmed my feet in the rug. She took me into her house, and let me tend the turnips in the field. This I did, and went no more to school. Some weeks later a certain one, who had been Paulus’ comrade, came to me and said: “Your cousin Paulus is here and looking for you.” He had followed me for eighteen miles, because he had indeed lost a good thing in me. I had supported him for years. When I heard this, although it was night, I ran out through the city gate toward Constance, but grieved to myself, for it hurt me sore that I must leave my dear mistress. When I was nearly at Mörsburg I ran across a stone-mason from Thurgau. We met a young peasant and the stone-mason said to me: “We must get some money out of this peasant.” To him he said: “Here, peasant, hand out your money, or the devil fly away with you!” The peasant was frightened, and I was sore afraid, and wished I was somewhere else. The peasant began to pull out his purse, but the stone-mason said: “That’s all! I was just joking with you.”

Thus I came across the lake to Constance. As I was crossing the bridge I saw some Swiss peasants in their white jackets, and, O Lord, how glad was I! I thought I was in the kingdom of Heaven. I came to Zürich, and found there some big bacchanten from Wallis. I offered to beg for them on condition that they should teach me; and they did so, as the others had done. At that time the Cardinal von Sitten was in Zürich, seeking to enroll citizens of Zürich to accompany him to the Pope’s dominions; but it had rather to do with Milan, as the sequel proved some months later. Paulus sent his schütz, Hildebrand, from Munich, to tell me I should come back to him; that he would forgive me. I did not care to do so, and remained in Zürich, but not at study.


*  Thomas und Felix Platter, bearbeitet von H. Boos. Leipzig, 1878.

  Marignano, September, 1515.

[For more details of the life of schützen, or ABC-shooters, see The Autobiography of Johannes Butzbach, translated by Seybolt and Monroe, which includes an Appendix with details of the early life of Bernard Zink, plus a Bibliography on wandering scholars on this site. — Elf.Ed.]

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