Page:Addresses to the German nation.djvu/17

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INTRODUCTION


Johann Gottlieb Fichte was born on May 19, 1762, at Rammenau, a little village in Upper Lusatia between Dresden and Bautzen. His father, Christian Fichte, married the daughter of Johann Schurich, a ribbon manufacturer of the neighbouring town of Pulsnitz, to whom he was apprenticed, and returned to settle with his bride in Rammenau, where he managed to make a living by following his trade as a ribbon-weaver. Johann was the eldest of a family of six sons and one daughter, and at an early age showed signs of precocious intelligence, conscientiousness, and stubbornness.

By a fortunate accident the young Johann came under the notice of Baron von Miltitz, a neighbouring landowner, who took him under his protection and sent him to be educated, first at Niederau by a Pastor Krebel, with whom he remained for nearly five years, and then in 1774 to the well-known school at Pforta near Naumburg. His patron’s death early in the same year made no difference to Fichte’s education, for he received financial support from the relatives and friends of the baron until 1784, when his allowance was stopped by the latter’s widow. He remained at Pforta until 1780, when he became a theological student first at Jena and then at Leipzig. He did not complete his course, but spent the years from 1784 to 1788 as a private tutor in various