Martinus as a blacksmith’s apprentice

Smithy at Hornbæk (1875), P S Krøyer.
Smithy at Hornbæk (1875), P S Krøyer. (The Hirschsprung Collection)

As far as we know, Martinus never attended school after the age of 14, and did not go to university. Instead, he set out to work like many rural teenagers of his generation. Yet he went on to engage with some serious thought as an adult, perhaps against the expectations that his start in life could have predicted.

After working as a herd boy from the age of 12, Martinus had the idea of becoming a blacksmith’s apprentice[1], according to the account from the 1963 recording. What must that job have been like for him, a small, 14-year-old boy? It couldn’t have been easy work. The apprentice role would have included such tasks as working the forge to keep the temperature hot and even, assisting the master blacksmith with hammering the iron, wielding sledge hammers and so on.

Without doing any local historical study of the working conditions in Sindal at that time, it would be difficult to know what the life of a blacksmith’s apprentice there would have really been like. Even with study, it is worth thinking about how much we can really learn about the life of another, especially the inner life. Ultimately, it may be interesting in terms of details but devoid of any actual or real value. Still, if people find it is interesting then there is some relative value in presenting such information.

As for Martinus, he writes how he found the work too hard. He worked there for a few months before quitting and finding work as a dairy assistant:

I didn’t like my work in the smithy either. One should strike while the iron is hot, but when I had struck only a few blows with the sledge hammer I was so exhausted that I couldn’t lift it any more. But the blacksmith shouted, “Strike harder, damn you, strike harder!” I wasn’t used to that kind of tone and was very unhappy about it. I was home only on Sundays

Notes:

[1] http://www.martinus.dk/en/articles/index.php?mode=1&artikelnr=1494&artikelsubnr=2

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