The Utopian Communist: A Biography of Wilhelm Weitling

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poverty. He knew most of the human miseries from firsthand
experience, and they not only made him introspective, but prob­
ably were the most significant single cause for the role of rebel
against the established order which he played throughout his later
At a tender age Weitling was apprenticed, after the fashion
of the old guild system, to a tailor known as Master Schmidt, with
whom he lived and from whom he learned his trade thoroughly.
He became equally proficient in ladies' and men's tailoring. With
legs crossed and back bent, the boy sat, often from early dawn to
dark, on the tailor's bench. His food consisted of the black bread
and sauerkraut that were important features of the diet of this
part of Germany. Several times during his apprenticeship the lad
suffered from severe illnesses, probably caused partly by malnu­
At eighteen, Weitling had achieved the goal of journeyman
tailor and was ready to begin wandering from town to town as a
Handwerksbursche, seeking employment and new experiences
until he too would be ready to establish his shop as a master tailor.
That goal Weitling never achieved. His restless spirit became ab­
sorbed in other things, and tailoring was merely the means of keep­
ing body and soul together while his inquiring mind was engrossed
in ambitious plans for the reconstruction of the social order.
Weitling left his native city almost immediately after he had
completed his training. His career as a journeyman took him
through a large part of western Europe. As he hiked from town
to town, carrying his pack on his back like a snail his house, we
may picture him pulling fruit from the trees along the public high­
ways, sleeping in the shade of the roadside, begging for food at
friendly homes, stopping at the various hostels maintained in order
to provide cheap food and lodging for journeymen, talking and
arguing with his fellow workers, or joining them in a song, a glass
of wine, or a game of cards in the inns where they happened to
meet, for this was the way of life of the old-fashioned European
journeyman. Weitling always was regarded by his fellows as a

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