The Utopian Communist: A Biography of Wilhelm Weitling

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through the streets of Magdeburg, arm in arm with a friend and
singing at the top of his voice. Presently he became known as
"jolly William." But in spite of his lightheartedness, he seems to
have had a sense of obligation to the maid he had gotten with child
and to their illegitimate son; for he gave the girl several gifts, tried
to arrange a monthly allowance for her when he went off to the
Russian campaign, and considered the possibility of having his son
educated in France. Guillaume Terijon was part of the Grand
Army which invaded Russia, and, like thousands of others who
followed their emperor on that fateful march on Moscow in 18 12,
never was heard of again.
Very little is known of the family background of Christine
Weitling. Her father was a stonemason. Her mother, nee Hahn,
was the daughter of a clergyman who lived near Gera. Orphaned
at an early age, this minister's daughter had been reared in the
castle of the petty Princess of Reuss-Gratz-Löbenstein, and had
become one of that lady's maidservants. When the girl married,
she and her husband moved to Magdeburg, and here they had two
sons and the daughter Christine, who became Weitling's mother.

Weitling's youth was one of such poverty and deprivation that
he seldom referred to these early years in later life. He was reared
in extreme poverty and never knew the protection and security
which home and family can give. During the siege of Magdeburg,
when he was a small child, his grandmother took the little boy out
of the city and supported herself and her grandson by selling
matches, lampwicks, tobacco, and chicory. As the boy grew old
enough to have playmates, we may imagine him running through
the streets of the old city, perhaps bathing in the Elbe in the sum­
mer and playing on the ice that covered the moat around the
citadel in winter, but Weitling himself left few of the simple
annals of the poor that would describe his boyhood days in Magde­
burg. His mother worked out as a cook and housemaid, and the
boy frequently was left in a pension in the care of others. Yet he
always spoke affectionately and reverently of his mother, and
even of the father whom he scarcely knew, and many years after,
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