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marked in a letter to a friend. Finally, in October, 1524, he discarded it altogether, and appeared thenceforth in the ordinary costume of a university professor.
In December of the same year, when he and Brisger proposed to vacate the monastery and let it be devoted to other purposes, the elector virtually made Luther a present of the building, with the court in front and the garden behind, and put a small house belonging to it at the disposal of Brisger. The gift to Luther was legally confirmed seven years later by Frederick's successor, the Elector John. The building in which Luther was married, and where he continued to live for the rest of his life, was thus no longer a cloister, but his own private dwelling.
While the monastery was still flourishing, he depended entirely upon it for his support, as all the other monks did. But with the exodus of most of its inmates, and with the waning respect for monasticism in Wittenberg and its neighborhood, the income of the monastery from begging and from the voluntary gifts of the faithful was greatly reduced, and it was found difficult even to collect the rents and other taxes legally due, as Luther frequently complained in letters to the elector and Spalatin. The situation was finally met by giving him a salary for his university work, and for the rest of his life this remained his only regular source of income. For his services as preacher in the city. church he received nothing, and in accordance with a not uncommon custom of the day he refused to take money for his books, though more than one publisher made a fortune out of them. His salary at first amounted to a hundred gulden, intrinsically equal to fifty dollars of our money, but probably the equivalent in purchasing power of six or eight hundred dollars to-day. When he married, it was doubled, and some years later another hundred was added, making with the payments in kind regularly allowed him by the elector, an assured income of about four hundred gulden. This was the same amount received by Melanchthon, and was unusually large for a university professor of the day.
In addition, gifts of all sorts poured in not only from the elector and the town council of Wittenberg, but from admirers in all parts of the world. Occasionally he
had to protest that he was given too much, as, for instance, in the following letter to the Elector John, written in 1529:
I have long delayed to thank your Electoral Grace for the clothes and the gown you sent me. I respectfully beg your Electoral Grace not to believe those who say I am in want. I have, unfortunately, espe
cially from your Electoral Grace, more than I can conscientiously bear. It does not become me as a preacher to have a superfluity, nor do I desire it. I feel your Electoral Grace's all too mild and gracious favor so much that I am beginning to be afraid. For I should not like to be in this life among those to whom Christ says, "Woe unto you rich, you have your reward." Besides, to speak humanly, I do not want to be burdensome to your Electoral Grace. I know your Grace has to give to so many that nothing remains over; for too much destroys the sack. The brown cloth is too splendid, but, in order to show my gratitude to your Electoral Grace, I will wear the black coat in your honor, although it is too costly for me, and if it were not your Grace's gift, I should never wear such a garment. I beg your Electoral Grace will henceforth wait until I ask, that I may not be prevented by your Grace's anticipation of my wants from begging for others who are much more worthy of such favor.
As this letter suggests, he was continually asking gifts for others, but he did it rarely for himself, and as a rule only when he needed venison or wine for some social festivity. From the city council he apparently never solicited anything on his own account, but they knew the city owed its growth and prosperity largely to him, and frequently showed their appreciation of the fact. He would not consent to be relieved from taxation, but scarcely a year passed that he was not voted substantial gifts of one kind and another. Despite it all, the early years of his married life were full of money troubles. He was very free with what he had, giving away his last gulden without hesitation, and when there was no more money, tableware and household ornaments, presented to Käthe or himself by admiring friends, would often go to relieve the wants of the needy. Käthe kept as firm a hand on him as she could, and many a gulden was saved which would
otherwise have found its way into the pocket of some friend or stranger. On the occasion of Agricola's marriage, he wrote him he was sending as a wedding-present a vase received sometime before from another friend; but in a postscript he had to inform him that Käthe had hidden it away, so it could not be found.
Curiously enough, a wedding-gift of twenty-five gulden was sent him by Archbishop Albert of Mayence. Luther himself declined to receive it; but the more thrifty Käthe accepted it without his knowledge, and when he learned of it, he did not know whether to be more annoyed or amused.
He frequently got into trouble through indorsing notes for his friends when he had no money of his own to lend. In order that he might not altogether impoverish himself, Lucas Cranach and other capitalists of the town finally refused to honor his signature, and this way of helping the needy was thus closed to him. He was rather deeply in debt when he married, and it took some time for Käthe, by judicious management, to straighten out his tangled affairs. In 1527, he wrote Brisger that his own imprudence made it necessary for him to plunge still deeper into debt and to pawn some silver goblets. A little later he could announce the payment of all his debts, but he not infrequently had to lament the burden of new ones. "I justly remain in the catalogue of the poor," he once remarked, "for I keep too large an establishment." Gradually, despite his free-handedness, a certain measure of worldly prosperity was attained through Käthe's energy and economy, and they were able to make considerable improvements in the Wittenberg house, to buy an orchard, a hop-garden, and some other pieces of land in the neighborhood, where Käthe raised cattle and did farming on a small scale. Finally Luther purchased from her brother a farm at Zulsdorf, a part of the small family inheritance, not far from her birthplace. In the management of this she took particular delight. One of Luther's letters to her opens with the playful greeting, "To the rich wife at Zulsdorf, Frau Doctor Luther, in the body at home at Wittenberg, but in spirit busy at Zulsdorf."
Even then petty economies were still necessary, and ready money was often en
tirely lacking. As late as 1540 he had to go for weeks without his nightly glass of beer because there was none left in the house and no money to buy more with. In 1542, when he made his will, he carefully reckoned up his possessions, and wrote out detailed accounts covering a number of years. We still have some of the original pages, decorated with amusing rhymes, ruefully lamenting his extravagance and making sport of his lack of business capacity. At his death he left a respectable property, perhaps amounting, all told, to eight thousand gulden; but most of it was unproductive, and Käthe found considerable difficulty in making both ends meet. She once complained that he might have been a rich man had he wished; but wealth was the last thing he cared for, and with his disposition he could hardly have compassed it had he tried.
Käthe was a vigorous and efficient housewife. The monastery had been sadly neglected before she became its mistress. Luther had lived very carelessly, often leaving his bed unmade, as he once remarked, for a year at a time, and tumbling into it at night too tired from his strenuous labors to notice the difference. His marriage brought order into the place, and transformed the bare and cheerless monastery into a real home. In 1536, after a visit to Wittenberg, Wolfgang Capito of Strasburg wrote Luther: "My greetings to your wife, Lady Katharine, best of women! When I have returned home I will. send her something to remember me by. I love her with all my heart. She was born to look after your health, that you may the longer serve the church which has come into existence through you."
Luther's own personal habits changed little. He remained negligent about his dress, as he had always been, and his study continued a wilderness of disorder. Desks, tables, chairs, and every available spot were covered with books, letters, and manuscripts, and he often lost things altogether in the confusion of the place. Even before his marriage he kept a dog, which frequently played havoc with his papers. He was also careless about his food. fore Käthe came upon the scene he ate very irregularly, often forgetting his meals. altogether. His bodily needs, indeed, meant little to him. As he once wrote
Melanchthon, when he could not get meat and wine, he contented himself with bread and water. On the other hand, he was often as imprudent in his eating as in his fasting. Käthe set a bountiful table, and whatever the condition of his health, and despite her protests, he was apt to eat anything that seized his fancy, bad as it might be for him. His irregular habits and his strenuous labors combined with the ascetic practices of his early years to undermine his health. He was a sufferer .from severe kidney and liver trouble during most of his life, and had to endure a great deal from headaches, which often completely incapacitated him for work.
A masterful person Käthe was, with a mind and will of her own. The cloister she made her particular domain, and ruled it with a strong hand. Strength and energy, indeed, were her prominent characteristics. Among her neighbors she bore the reputation of being a capable but somewhat over-thrifty housewife, and while generally respected, she was not generally liked. To many she seemed proud and domineering. As the wife of the great reformer, it was not unnatural that she should hold her head high and expect her will to count in the little university city. Luther once compared her to Moses and himself to Aaron, and he often spoke of her jestingly as "My Lord Käthe." In In October, 1535, he wrote his friend Jonas: "My Lord Käthe greets you. She rides about, cultivates the fields, raises and buys cattle, brews beer, and the like. At the same time she has begun to read the Bible, and I have promised her fifty florins if she finishes before Easter. She is very earnest about it, and has already reached the fifth book of Moses." Her reason for taking up the reading of the Bible at this particular time, it may be remarked, was the recent appearance of Luther's German version in its first complete edition.
With all his playful raillery, he valued her highly for just those practical qualities he lacked himself, and was very glad to turn the management of family affairs wholly over to her. Though we hear of her chiefly as a housewife, she was not simply that. While her tastes were not intellectual or literary, she had a fair education, and knew enough Latin to understand and bear her share in the table conversation, commonly carried on in a
curious mixture of German and L telligible only to one acquainted wi A pious woman she was, too, and interested in Luther's great re work. As his references to theolog ecclesiastical affairs in some of his to her show he took her into his co and talked matters over freely w Evidently she understood and app what was going on, and at times m influence felt even in important af when she induced him, against his engage in open controversy with t Erasmus.
Their home was the center of a tive social life. Not only his co and neighbors were frequently wit but guests from abroad were nu for Wittenberg was more and n Mecca of Christians from all Europe, and Luther's hospitality comers was generous and abundant. the regular members of his househ many university students. Follo custom common among the Wi professors, Käthe began immediat her marriage to take boarders, and the practice to the end of her life. some of them we owe the interes ords of Luther's table-talk, throug we catch many fascinating glimps home-life. Beginning in a sm early in the thirties, certain of his boarders finally got into the habit ing down under his very eyes and was talking the substance of his tions. At times his dining-roo have presented the aspect of a cl with the auditors diligently tra the lecturer's words of wisdom. seem as if the effect would have take all spontaneity and naturaln his talk, but this was by no means Even the most carefully edited c are full of informal and unstudie sions of opinion on every conceiv ject, grave and gay, serious an while some of the original reco recently recovered show that he freely and unconsciously as if n scribes were waiting upon hi Often the talk, as we have it, sou monplace enough, but again it fla brilliancy and reveals rare wis insight.
The records of course have to with caution, for we cannot a
sure he was rightly understood or correctly reported, but frequently we run upon characteristic sayings which could have come from no one else and enrich and add to the vividness of our portrait of the man. His conversation was apt to be much freer than would be at all admissible today. In that respect he was a child of his age, for high and low alike were less careful in speech then than now. To be sure, he was often coarser than even the loose standards of the day approved. His humor was broad rather than subtle and delicate, and to men of the type of Erasmus and Melanchthon it often seemed only buffoonery. To the end of his life he retained many of the characteristics of a peasant, and he wielded in talk, as in controversy, an ax rather than a Damascus blade. But with all his lack of refinement, he was essentially a wholesome and clean-minded man. Despite the many unquotable things he said and wrote to illustrate a point or enforce an argument or give sting to his polemic, there is surprisingly little vulgarity or obscenity for its own sake either in his table-talk or in his writings.
Pure he was in life, too. Attacks of course were made upon his moral character by his enemies, and all sorts of unsavory stories were told about him. But for none of them can a shred of evidence be found, though he lived for twenty-five years in a blaze of publicity, observed of all the world and spied upon by countless critics. The most his bitter enemies, the radicals, who lived near by and knew him well, could urge against him when they tried to blacken his character was his liking for society, his fondness for playing the lute, his luxurious living, and, strange to say, his fine dressing, for on state occasions, it seems, he was fond of wearing starched cuffs and a gold chain. The radicals were the Puritans of the day, and their standards were very rigorous. Luther himself was certainly not a Puritan. He believed in innocent pleasure, and had no desire to make of Wittenberg what Calvin later made of Geneva. He liked particularly to see young people enjoy themselves. Dancing and private theatricals he approved of for them, and he played at bowls and chess himself. He was fond of pictures as well as of music, and had a Madonna in his chamber, to the great scandal of the Protestant rigorists.
His chief relaxation he always found in social intercourse. Particularly when depressed, as he often was, he sought comfort and relief in the society of others. When in the mood he could be a fascinating companion, and many were the merry hours spent at table with colleagues and friends. Speaking once of his faith in the gospel and of his confidence in his divine call, he added: "But when I consider my own weakness, how I eat and drink, and at times am merry and a good table-companion, I begin to be in doubt." On another occasion, when entertaining some of his colleagues at dinner, he called the company's attention to a large wineglass encircled with three rings. The first, he said, represented the Ten Commandments, the second the Creed, and the third the Lord's Prayer. Having emptied it at a single draft, he filled it again and passed it to Agricola, something of a fanatic on the subject of faith, who was able to get no further than the Ten Commandments, to Luther's great amusement.
Beer and wine he partook of freely, as was the custom of his countrymen, and his table-conversation may often have been less restrained in consequence; but his enemies exaggerated when they accused him of being a hard drinker. While he never criticized the moderate use of wine and beer, he always severely denounced over-indulgence in them, not sparing even his own elector, John Frederick, who, with all his piety, was prone to frequent intoxication. According to Melanchthon, Luther was always abstemious both in food and drink, and often, when absorbed in work, fasted completely for days at a time. An immoderate drinker, at any rate, he certainly was not. Had he been, he could not possibly have kept up year after year, day in and day out, to the very end of his life, his tremendous and unremitting labors. Almost superhuman they seem, as we look back upon them. Only a man of extraordinary self-control and constant concentration of purpose could have accomplished what he did.
Despite his public labors, which continued unabated, Luther showed himself no little of a family man. He did considerable gardening, and took a great interest in getting rare plants from distant parts of the country. Not long after his marriage he wrote Spalatin: "I have
planted a garden and dug a well, and both have turned out successfully. Come, and you shall be crowned with lilies and roses." He provided himself with a carpenter's bench and a turning-lathe, securing through his friend Link in Nuremberg the best tools to be had, and he proved not unskilful in making useful articles for the house. He continued to mend his own clothes, not, as he declared, for the sake of economy, but because the tailors were so poor. On one occasion Käthe had to complain that he had cut up one of the children's garments to patch his own trousers with.
Instead of working night and day, as he commonly had before his marriage, he now permitted himself more leisure of an evening, and confined his study and writing chiefly to the daytime. It was his custom, so he remarked in 1537, to go to bed regularly at nine o'clock, an extraordinary contrast to the late hours he kept in earlier years. When the children came, he loved to spend such time as he could spare with them, and they were devotedly attached to him. From Torgau he once wrote Käthe: "Although it is market season here, I can find nothing in this city for the children. Have something on hand if I should fail to bring anything home for them."
Their marriage was blessed with six children, Hans, who was named after Luther's father; Elizabeth; Magdalen; Martin; Paul, named for his favorite apostle; and Margaret. Elizabeth died in infancy. Immediately afterward, in a letter to a friend, Luther wrote: "My little Elizabeth, my wee daughter, is dead. It is wonderful how sorrowful she has left me. My
soul is almost like a woman's, so moved am I with misery. I could never have believed that the hearts of parents are so tender toward their children. Pray the Lord for me!"
The great grief of his life was the death, in 1542, of his favorite child, Magdalen, when thirteen years of age. She was a sweet and gentle character, and her parents' hearts were wrapped up in her. As she lay dying, a friend tells us, Luther threw himself on the floor beside her bed, weeping bitterly and praying for her restoration; but she passed away in his arms, while Käthe stood apart, overcome with emotion. For all his Christian faith and the consolations of the gospel he had brought to many others in similar affliction, he realized now, as he never had before, the clamorous insistence of human grief. "It is strange," he exclaimed, "to know she is certainly well and at peace, and yet to be so sorrowful." Her parents never ceased mourning her. Not long before his death Luther wrote a friend: "It is extraordinary how the loss of my Magdalen continues to oppress me. I cannot forget her."
Despite these afflictions, Luther's married life, taking it as a whole, was genuinely happy. Few of the world's greatest men have been privileged to enjoy for many years the solace and comfort of home and family as he did. It seems at first almost incongruous. The modern world's foremost prophet living the life of a family man and interesting himself in the petty affairs of a German professor's home! home! But it helped to keep him human, and it should help us to realize his human