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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
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 G telligible only to one A pious woman she interested in Luther work. As his referen ecclesiastical affairs in to her show he took h and talked matters o Evidently she unders what was going on, a influence felt even in when she induced hin engage in open contr Erasmus.
Their home was th tive social life. No and neighbors were f but guests from abr for Wittenberg was Mecca of Christian Europe, and Luther
comers was generous a the regular members many university stu
custom common am
professors, Käthe beg her marriage to take the practice to the en some of them we ow ords of Luther's tabl we catch many fasci home-life. Beginni early in the thirties, boarders finally got ing down under his was talking the subs tions. At times h have presented the a with the auditors the lecturer's words seem as if the effect take all spontaneity his talk, but this was Even the most caref are full of informal sions of opinion on ject, grave and gay while some of the recently recovered s freely and unconsci scribes were waiti Often the talk, as w monplace enough, bu brilliancy and reve insight.
The records of c with caution, for
curious mixture of German a
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.
Their home was the cent tive social life. Not onl A masterful person Käthe was, with a and neighbors were frequent" mind and will of her own. The cloister but guests from abroad she made her particular domain, and ruled for Wittenberg was more it with a strong hand. Strength and Mecca of Christians fro energy, indeed, were her prominent charac- Europe, and Luther's hos teristics. Among her neighbors she bore comers was generous and ab the reputation of being a capable but some- the regular members of his what over-thrifty housewife, and while many university students generally respected, she was not generally custom common among the liked. To many she seemed proud and professors, Käthe began domineering. As the wife of the great her marriage to take boarders, reformer, it was not unnatural that she the practice to the end of her." should hold her head high and expect her some of them we owe the will to count in the little university city. ords of Luther's table-talk t Luther once compared her to Moses and we catch many fascinating himself to Aaron, and he often spoke of home-life. Beginning her jestingly as "My Lord Käthe." In early in the thirties, certa October, 1535, he wrote his friend Jonas: boarders finally got into the ti "My Lord Käthe greets you. She rides ing down under his very e about, cultivates the fields, raises and buys was talking the substance t have presented the aspect of i cattle, brews beer, and the like. At the tions. At times his d same time she has begun to read the Bible, and I have promised her fifty florins if she with the auditors dig finishes before Easter. She is very earnest the lecturer's words of w about it, and has already reached the fifth seem as if the effect wo book of Moses." Her reason for taking take all spontaneity and nat are full of informal and up the reading of the Bible at this particu- his talk, but this was by sions of opinion on every cont lar time, it may be remarked, was the re- Even the most carefully e cent appearance of Luther's German version in its first complete edition. With all his playful raillery, he valued ject, grave and gar, ser her highly for just those practical qualities while some of the org he lacked himself, and was very glad to recently recovered show the turn the management of family affairs freely and unconscious 25 wholly over to her. Though we hear of scribes were waiting up her chiefly as a housewife, she was not Often the talk, as we have simply that. While her tastes were not monplace enough, but ag intellectual or literary, she had a fair edu- brilliancy and reveals rare
The records of course
cation, and knew enough Latin to under-
MARTIN LUTHER AND HIS WORK
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