I was born in Skutsch, a municipal city, of the Chrudimer circle in Bohemia, on April 17, 1774. My father, a simple, and at the same time, serious man, early exchanged his loom for the canvas business, which he kept until his old age, doing steady business with Prague. Heaven rewarded his activity, and he soon arrived in a financial condition where he could give the six sons remaining to him from his thirteen children a good upbringing. Because he, endowed with wealth, was enriched by conversation with cultivated men regarding insights for life, it is no surprise that his fellow citizens elected him as their mayor, which office he held for several years to the satisfaction of the city. During this time the oldest brother was consecrated as priest; he, being 21 years old than I, later became the steerer of my destiny. Two other brothers dedicated themselves to the complete philosophical study of economics, and the remaining two pursued the canvas trade, although without notable success.
I, the youngest of such a numerous family, enjoyed, as is natural, not as much of the former prosperity, but I felt no lack of love and care during my upbringing.
Hardly was I five quarter years old, when I fell ill with smallpox, whereby my poor mother was very disturbed, and had already given me up to death, since the smallpox had shown itself to be so powerful in the city; but providence wished otherwise, I healed, recovered, and regained my strength so that, as the old housemaid Elsbeth often told me when I was old, already in my fourth year I was singing my own melodies, and used every piece of paper that I could find to scribble down hieroglyphs that looked like notes.
My earliest recollections date to the sixth year of my life, and still today I often think of the pleasure of that time that I felt when I observed the size of an organ, and the number of the stops it had, and thus imagined its powerful sound. This was also the moment in which to start school, which I left after three years, in complete possession of the abilities to read, write and reckon.