KANT IN THE CLASSROOM     Materials to aid the study of Kant’s lectures

Kant’s Writings
Academy Edition
Kant’s Life


> Students


Kant’s Lectures
The Student Notes

Königsberg Schools
Kant’s Career [classes at the Coll. Frid.]
Student Life at the University
> Student Finances
Composition of the Student Population
The Hofmeister

Student Finances

“[As a student,] Kant lived quite frugally. He was never wholly destitute, although there were times when he needed to go out, but his clothes were with a seamstress being repaired. At those times one of the other students would stay home while Kant would leave with a borrowed coat, pants, or shoes.”

— C. F. Heilsberg, as qtd. in Reicke [1860, 48-49]

1. Expenses: [Matriculation Fees] [Course Fees] [Graduation Fees]

2. Income: [Scholarships] [Alumnat] [Collegium Fridericianum] [Kant’s Letters of Recommendation]

The Berlin offices calculated in its 1735 decree governing the universities that a student could manage well enough in Königsberg on 40 rthl. per year [as reprinted in appendix #54, Arnoldt 1746, i.364; see also Benninghoven 1974, 112]. Goldbeck [1782] put the minimum expenses at 60 Reichsthaler, but it was well known that living expenses varied considerably between universities. For comparison, the base salary for a full professor of philosophy was a bit over 166 rthls. (or 500 Prussian Guilders, to be exact) — considered at the time as fairly low pay (see Professors: Salaries and Benefits). Budgets were published by various universities in the late 18th century to give would-be students and their parents some idea of the feasibility of attending. Leipzig offered five budget classes, ranging from 120 rthl. to 800 rthl. per year. The 120 rthl. budget included 17 rthl. 8 gr. for a small, barely furnished room, 18 rthl. for a daily main meal that would still leave you feeling hungry, and 6 rthl. for the basic courses and a book or two. These budgets appealed, as is clear, to a range of tastes and economic levels. In Göttingen, a month of violin or riding lessons cost the same as a month’s rent of a furnished room [La Vopa 1988, 19-27].

One memorable portrait of student poverty in 18th century Königsberg is provided by J. T. Hermes in his popular novel, Sophiens Reise von Memel nach Sachsen (1770-72), near the end of the 29th letter. A theology student at Königsberg offers a brief portrait of an ideal school, from which one gathers the deficiencies of the current system (“the lecture rooms would be large, well-lit … and all built in a row,” “The lecture catalog ... would be examined for eight days, and then it would remain valid for the entire year”). The student’s room is shared with two others, and has only one proper bed. A second bed consists of an old outer coat, and a third of nothing more than worn out straw. One of the students earns a few ducats each month giving violin lessons and puts in two days a week as a scribe to a local pastor, for which he receives three groschen — barely enough to pay for food and incidentals (he has free lodging — what otherwise would have cost 5 rthl./year for his share of the room — and he steals his firewood).

The brief sketch that Heilsberg offers of Kant’s student days is not much rosier. Kant appears to have always rented a room with one or more other students, and Heilsberg relates how they would pool together their clothing so that at least one of them could walk out the door, and then pool their money when some article of clothing was completely worn out and needed replacing.[1]

[1] Christoph Friedrich Heilsberg [bio], a fellow student of Kant’s at the university, later served as an advisor overseeing the schools in Königsberg. His remarks come from a letter solicited by Wald in 1804, who was collecting biographical data on Kant. Printed in Reicke [1860, 48-49; repr. in Malter 1990, 18-19].

Expenses [top]

The student’s expenses included a matriculation fee (payable to the university), fees for private lectures (payable to the individual professors), food, lodging, wood for heating, lamp oil, books and writing materials, laundry, boot and clothing repair, and other sundries, as well as fees for graduation. Goldbeck claimed that a good room in a not-too distant part of town would cost from 8-12 rthl. per year. Wood for heating would cost another 10-12 rthl., and meals at a local inn about 36 rthl. per year [Goldbeck 1782, 102]. Baczko reports that a cup of coffee in a Königsberg coffeehouse in the 1770’s cost three Prussian Groschen [1824, i.230] – that would put the real value of a Reichsthaler at 30 cups of coffee.

There was always some financial assistance for poorer students: A surgeon hired by the university was available to provide free healthcare, and burial in the cathedral cemetary was likewise gratis [Goldbeck 1782, 119].

Matriculation Fees [top] [currency conversion]

It cost 2 rthl. and a few groschen to matriculate at Königsberg (and double that for the nobility).[1] The rector received payment directly when the student was inscribed into the Matrikel, and kept half of the fee for himself, the other half going into the university treasury. He often waived all or part of the fee, which would then be noted in the matriculation entry for the student; and if payment was required, he would occasionally allow the student to pay the fee later. To get the fee waived, students were required to bring some proof of poverty (testimonium paupertatis) from one’s pastor or Latin school teacher. Johann Gottfried Herder claims to have had only 3 rthl., 8 gr. in his pocket when he showed up in Königsberg in the summer of 1762, most of this going to pay the matriculation fee [Dobbek 1961, 85]. Herder’s entry in the Matrikel (August 10, 1762) says nothing about his fee being reduced, so presumably he paid the full 2 rthl. — rather remarkable given his poverty.

Comparisons with Kiel and Göttingen show that students at Königsberg were receiving a bargain matriculation. At Kiel, the fee was normally 5 rthl. (rising to 10 rthl. for nobility, 15 rthl. for Freyherrn, and 20 rthl. for a Graf).[2] Göttingen charged 4 rthl. for normal citizens, 8 rthl. for simple nobility (Edelleute), 12 rthl. for Barons, and 16 rthl. for a Graf or a Fürst, with students transferring from another school paying only half the fee.[3] Fees paid at Frankfurt were listed in the Matrikel; in the early 1700s they were only 9 gr. (18 gr. for the nobility).

[1] Goldbeck [1782, 103]; see also Arnoldt [1746, i.236]. Vorländer [1924, i.44] claims the fee was nine rthl.

[2] Herrlitz [1973, 140n49], quoting from records in the Landesarchiv Schleswig (A XVIII, Nr. 586: “Das Curatel Collegium der Kieler Universität am 10.12.1772 an das Consistorium Academicum”).

[3] Meiners [1801-2, ii.213-14]. He notes that a third of the matriculation fee belonged to the rector, a third was divided among the philosophy faculty, and a third went into various budgets: a poor fund, money for the library, and support of the Pedellen (students hired to run errands and carry out certain regular duties on behalf of the rector and senate). On matriculation fees, see also Eulenburg [1904, 70].

Course Fees [top] [currency conversion]

Every full professor was obliged to offer a course of public lectures [glossary], the idea being that poorer students would be able to acquire a basic education without having to pay. The majority of course offerings were private lectures, however, and often these were the better courses. To attend a course of private lectures, the student needed to visit the professor before the semester began (or in the first week, presumably) and sign his name to a “Subscription List” obliging him to pay the agreed upon honorarium at the end of the semester. To indicate payment, the professor would then mark the name on the list (e.g., DDJ). With payment came the privilege of repeating the course one time at no extra cost.

Honoraria were initially determined by individual professors, and at Frankfurt/Oder always so. At Halle in 1768, G. F. Meier [bio] was charging three rthl., Carrach (Law) was charging four to six rthl. The honorarium might also differ according to the social rank of the student: a graf would pay double and a prince five times the normal amount [Bornhak 1900, 142-43].

In Königsberg, the honorarium was three or four rthl., depending on how long the class lasted (four to six hours per week), and the subject (for example, experimental physics would cost more because of the cost of equipment). The honoraria for Kant appear always to have been 4 rthl., judging by the receipts he wrote [Stark 1993, 262].[1]

Goldbeck [1782, 42] notes that the honoraria were often waived for poorer students, and this seems to have been Kant’s practice as well. We learn from Stuckenberg that:

As a rule, Kant was strict in demanding compensation for his lectures, though he permitted some poor students to hear them gratis. He said that by neglecting to pay, the students ‘become spendthrifty and unscrupulous; if they neglect and cheat their teacher, they will also learn to cheat other persons. The hearer of lectures who is obliged to pay for them, is in this way made more conscientious, and is always impelled to be industrious; but he who, through careless indulgence, interferes with the success of the private lectures, brings the university itself into a miserable condition, for no one in the world is willing to sacrifice his powers for nothing.’ Kraus, on the other hand, was careless about the pay of students. Once he gave private instruction in mathematics to two young men, for which each was to pay him forty thalers. When the course was finished, he said to one of them, who is called a thorough Kantian and a conceited echo of the metaphysician, ‘I advise you, Mr. L., to abandon mathematics altogether, since you have no mind for it; from you I shall accept no pay.’ From the other, who had learned something, he accepted the money. [Stuckenberg 1882, 211-12][2]

In describing Kant’s own meager resources while a lecturer, Rink tells the story how, “after a poor student had just paid him his honorarium, Kant gave the remainder back to him after he, as he said himself, had taken enough to finish paying his six-month rent” [Rink 1805, 33; repr. in Malter 1990, 31]. Kant would also waive course fees for poorer students; Herder, for instance, attended Kant’s lectures for free.[3]

The various diary entries of Christian Friedrich Puttlich [bio], who matriculated at the university on March 23, 1782, at the age of 19 years, gives us some sense of how this played out. At the beginning of his first semester, he was looking to attend Kant’s lectures on logic and physical geography. The logic lectures were public, but the physical geography lectures were private, which meant he needed to sign up for it, and also be ready to pay at the end. Logic was taught on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday (the main lecture days), and Kant’s lectures began promptly on the first day of the summer semester:

15th April [Monday] went to the first class in Logic with Herr Professor Kant about 6:30 in the morning.

16th April. This morning I asked Herr Professor Kant if I could hear the course on physical geography for free, which he allowed. [Warda 1905a, 275; repr. in Malter 1990, 186; the lectures would begin the following day, on Wednesday.]

By the mid-1770s, Kant was lecturing on physical geography Wednesdays and Saturdays for two hours each. The following October found Puttlich attending Kant’s public lectures on metaphysics (again, that began promptly on the first day of the winter semester), and again asking to have the fee waived for Kant’s private lectures on anthropology (that, like physical geography in the summer, was taught on Wednesdays and Satudays from 8-10 in the morning):

14th October [Monday]. Herr Professor Kant began Metaphysics from 7-8.

15th October. I went around 9 with Herr Nivolovius to Herr Prof. Kant. I asked to hear the course for free, and Herr Nicolovius pränumirirte and subscribed.

16th October. Herr Professor began Anthropology. [Warda 1905a, 275; repr. in Malter 1900, 190]

Given Goldbeck’s estimate for the minimum annual living expenses for these students at about 60 rthl., the course fees for private lectures would be relatively expensive, and one would well expect poorer students petitioning to have them waived.

[1] One receipt written out by Kant for tuition received reads: “Vier Reichsthaler, als honorarium für ein collegium der physischen Geographie, welches Hr. Studiosus Kurow bey mir frequentirt hat, sind mir in dato richtig bezahlt worden, worüber quittire Königsberg d[en] 29sten Januar. 1794. I Kant.” [in English: “Four Reichsthaler, as honorarium for a course of lectures on physical geography, that the student Mr. Kurow attended, have been properly paid, for which I give receipt. Königsberg, the 29th of January, 1794”]. Kant lectured on physical geography during summer semester, which in SS 1793 ended on September 14; this payment occurred, then, at the least four months later. (Original in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München (Handschriften Abteilung: Kantiana). Reproduction in Richter [1974, 57].

A second receipt has been found, made out to Isaac Naumburg, who matriculated 21 Dec 1789, and from whom we have a set of anthropology notes.: “Acht Reichsthaler, als das honorarium für zwey collegia, der physischen Geographie und Anthropologie, sind mir in dato von Hr: Studios: Naumburg aus Märksch. Friedland bezahlt worden, worüber qvittire. Koenigsberg d 9 May 1791. I Kant” [Marburg, UB: Ms 764]. More examples of receipts (along with testimonials) can be found at Kant Online, and a receipt for a course of lectures on mathematics (“das Collegium der gesammten Mathematic”; dated April 1, 1757) is reproduced in Grimoni/Will [2004, 183]; here the student was an aristocrat (Count Finckenstein) and so the honorarium was triple the normal fee of 4 Thaler.

[2] Stuckenberg is basing this story on (and drawing the quotes from) Voigt’s biography of Kraus [1819, 437-39], who noted that Kraus and Kant were of opposite views on the payment of honoraria. The combined 80 thaler would have been excellent pay, given the normal tuition of four thaler per student (thus, equivalent to 20 paying students). As for “Mr. L.”, one wonders if this wasn’t Johann Friedrich Gottlieb Lehmann [bio], who later taught at the university. We read in a set of notes on Kraus (likely prepared by Kraus’s friend, Johann Brahl), that Kraus “had never reminded a student to pay an honorarium, like Kant did” [qtd. in Stark 1987b, 185].

[3] A fellow student of Herder’s, Karl Gottlieb Bock [bio], noted in his 1805 memoir of Herder that “Kant offered for him to hear for free all his lectures on logic, metaphysics, moral philosophy, mathematics, and physical geography” [qtd. in Herder 1846, 127; repr. in Malter 1990, 63]. See also the comment by Christian Friedrich Reusch [bio], the son of Carl Daniel Reusch [bio], Kant’s colleague and full professor of philosophy: “When I visited [Kant] at the end of the private lecture [presumably the physical geography of SS 1795], following the proper custom of the time, in order to thank him for the permission to visit his lecture and to give him the honorarium of four thalers, he refused it with the saying: clericus clericum non decimat” [1848, 7; repr.in Malter 1990, 401]. Hamann’s letter to F. H. Jacobi (9 April 1786) includes the comment that Kant gave Hamann’s son Michael permission to hear all of his courses [repr. in Malter 1990, 295]. It is unclear what this could mean, unless Kant is giving Hamann’s son permission to attend the private lectures for free.

Graduation Fees [top] [currency conversion]

It also cost money to graduate — 50 rths., or 150 florins, to graduate as a Magister in Könïgsberg[1] — and this expense was high enough to prove burdensome, as we learn from Kant’s attempt in 1780 to bring his former student, Christian Jakob Kraus [bio], back to Königsberg to assume the chair of practical philosophy (made vacant by the sudden death of Karl Andreas Christiani). Kraus was finishing up his studies in Halle, and Kant sent word by way of Hamann that it would be more economical for him to receive his Magister’s degree there (in Halle).[2] This had clearly been a problem for some time. A decree of 4 February 4, 1701, issued from Berlin begins:

We have been informed that at our university in the last 20 or more years, there have been no graduates from the Medical Faculty; instead the candidates have, when it came time to be examined, transferred to another university and accepted their doctorate there. The sole reason for this is that the costs are too high here, running to as much as a thousand thaler, while the graduation can take place elsewhere for a much smaller Sumtibus. [Reprinted in Appendix #51 in Arnoldt 1746, ii.73]

In the case of Friedrich Plessing [bio] we learn how this graduation fee was divided up. Plessing was hoping to graduate in absentia, but was encountering various difficulties, including the fee, and he wrote in April of 1783 to Kant for help. Kant was philosophy dean that term, and he explained in a letter to his faculty (that is, to the seven other full professors of philosophy), that Plessing was able to send only 40 rthl. and that furthermore he didn’t have time to translate his dissertation into Latin. Kant hoped the German text would do; and as for the shortage of money, Kant agreed to forgo his share, hoping that the others wouldn’t mind a slightly smaller sum. The 50 rthl. is normally divided as follows: 6 fl. goes to the government with the remaining 144 fl. being divided among the eight philosophy professors (thus, 18 fl. each). With Plessing’s underpayment and Kant’s foregoing his share, each would receive 16 fl. 8.5 gr. (where 1 fl. = 30 gr.). Kant also agreed to assume payment for the pulsatore [glossary], for the academic secretary, and for the printing of the diploma [Schöndörffer 1986, 213-14; this letter is not included among the Academy edition correspondence, but is reprinted in the notes at AA 13:116f].

[1] Record of Kant's own payment is quoted in Dietzsch [2003, 58]: “150 fl. Von Herrn Magister Kant wegen der Magister Promotion.”

[2] Hamann’s letter to Kraus (22 June 1780; Ziesemer/Henkel 1955-79, iv.199-200]. Kraus followed Kant’s advice, receiving his Magister’s degree from Halle that year, and then re-matriculating at Königsberg on Dec. 28, 1780, and began teaching as the full professor of practical philosophy with SS 1781.

Income [top]

How did the poorer students find the money to meet these many expenses? There were various sources of income available. One might offer informal tutoring of fellow students, as Kant is said to have done.[1] One might work games of skill and chance like billiards or the card game Hombre, at both of which the young Kant excelled. Or one could copy out lecture notes to sell.[2] Or work as an amanuensis for a professor or local pastor (taking dictation, proofing, and transcribing texts). Or even sing in the street choir (which, according to La Vopa, could be rather lucrative). Begging was also common enough among students in Paderborn that an edict of 1717 forbade all begging “in the streets and in the homes, either by day or in the evening” [Eulenburg 1904, 71]. For about one-third of the students at Königsberg, additional support could be found in the form of a scholarship. G. C. Pisanski [bio], a contemporary of Kant’s who ended up teaching literature and theology at the university, was the son of a pastor and received a Duodezstipendien of 20 Thalers, which he needed to supplement by giving private lessons [Pisanski 1886, viii].

[1] Borowski [1804, 28-29]. Christoph Friedrich Heilsberg (1726-1807) recalled that Kant would tutor his friends for free, but tutored others for pay; in particular, Kant had helped Heilsberg with the lectures that they heard by Ammon, Knutzen, and Teske [Reicke 1860, 48].

[2] Of extant lecture notes from Kant’s classroom, several have prices on their covers or title pages: Fehlhauer/geography (“kostet 7 fl”), an-Werner/geography (“2 th 4 g”), an-Korff/metaphysics (“kostet 3 rthl”). These are all comparable prices: one Reichsthaler (rthl.) equals three guilder (fl.), and one guilder equals 30 groschen (gr.).

Scholarships [top] [currency conversion]

At the very founding of the university at Königsberg, Markgraf Albrecht provided an endowment of 4000 marks, a full fourth of which was dedicated to the support of poor students, the remainder being used to pay professors and the few staff [Goldbeck 1782, 7]. Arnoldt claims Königsberg ranked near the top of all German universities in the level of financial aid available for students. Scholarships were both governmental (state or church, and either local or from Berlin) and private in their origin, but all the locally awarded scholarships appear to be coordinated through a central office, the Stipendienkolleg (instituted in 1735), to ensure proper managing of the capital, and appropriate payment of the interest [Goldbeck 1782, 134]. For example, eight scholarships were available to the orphans living at the Royal Orphanage founded in 1701 and located just inside the city walls near the Sackheim gate. This orphanage had room for 30 boys “from good families” with six places reserved for orphans of nobility, and with half of all these positions reserved for Lutheran, and half for Reformed orphans. (For a fuller description, see the page on Königsberg Schools.)

For boys coming from Mohrungen, the Dohna family had endowed a stipend for study at the university (Herder received this stipend, amounting to 50 gulden per semester)[Dobbek 1961, 85]. Goldbeck claims that the local endowments totaled over one-hundred thousand rthl., paying out from six- to seven-thousand rthl. per year; some of these came from the Prussian government, some from the estates of professors, some from the Königsberg magistrate, and the rest from the families of the original founders. In all, there are about 100 different funds and about 150 recipients at any one time (averaging around 40 to 50 rthl. each, but some as high as 100 rthl.). Many of these were for the descendants of the benefactor (if any existed, the funds otherwise being released to other students) or for children of a certain nationality, but a few were wholly open to any student in need.

About one semester before being awarded, the stipends would be announced in the Königsbergischen wöchentlichen Anzeigen and on the university message board to allow students time to collect together the necessary application materials (proof of poverty, of genealogy, of citizenship, of good academic performance, and so on). Some were reserved for the children of pastors (often of stipulated parishes).

The effects of these scholarships were felt throughout the university. For instance, all recipients of a scholarship, regardless of any stipulations in the original endowment, needed to provide evidence of their academic diligence and progress each semester (by the mid-18th century, this was needed monthly), and so some university mechanism was needed for supplying the evidence. The typical solution was to require attendance at weekly repetitoria or examinatoria [glossary] associated with the lectures (and thus, to require that professors offered such repetitoria on a regular basis).[1] These requirements even extended to students enjoying subsidized meals at the cafeteria, including the amanuenses of the academic senators. Failure in any of this could result in loss of the support.[2] A royal decree of 1749 also required of all recipients of stipends over 40 rthl. in their last year (typically, their third) that they hold a public disputation (those receiving less than 40 rthl. are required to serve as an opponent in a disputation), or else lose support their final year [Goldbeck 1782, 133-39].[3] Despite his poverty, there is no evidence of Kant ever applying for, or receiving, a scholarship of any kind.

[1] It is likely that these students comprised a majority of those attending Kant’s weekly repetitoria, which he appears to have held every semester, and (after becoming a full professor) always on the subject of his public lecture (logic in the summers, metaphysics in the winters). The enrollment of the repetitorium was, on average, 30 percent of the enrollment of the main lecture course.

[2] Arnoldt [1746, i.318-19]: “according to the regulation of 1735, Chap. 4, §10, and Chap. 5, §6., one must bring a testimony from one’s faculty that one is behaving well and proceeding diligently, otherwise the benefits will be removed.”

[3] All these endowments were overseen by the central Stipendienkolleg, as described above. Arnoldt gives what must have been at the time an exhaustive list of scholarships [1746, ii.1-38], and Goldbeck mentions those scholarships created after Arnoldt’s history was published, namely, the scholarships established by Coelestin Kowalewski (a professor of rhetoric and history, and law), Johann Quandt (professor of theology), Thack (a rector of the Löbenicht Latin school), and Georg David Kypke (professor of oriental languages).

Alumnat [top] [currency conversion]

Students enjoyed several opportunities for free lodging, primarily the Collegium Fridericianum and the Collegium Albertinum. The latter, also called the Alumnat, were rooms in the university building complex next to the cathedral. The beneficiaries were intended to be future pastors and schoolteachers, and so theology students were the primary occupants. Lodging was free, and one was able to eat in the Convictorium (what today in the States would be called a student cafeteria and in Germany the Mensa) two meals a day — consisting of “two bowls with good bread and a rather pale brown beer” — for just two groschen per week. There was money to support 24 alumni, with seven places reserved for Polish and Lithuanian students each. Apart from the alumni boarders, certain other students were also given the privilege to eat at the Convictorium.

Life here appears to have been rather closely regulated by the two inspectors of the school. Meals were served at 11:15 AM and 6:00 PM, and had to be taken without speaking, as is common among religious orders, with a designated theology student reading aloud from the Bible or some other appropriate text; anyone talking or causing a disturbance during the meal would be suspended from the Alumnat. The doors were locked at 9 PM in the summer (it would still have been light outside at this hour) and 10 in the winter; musical instruments could be played only from 12 to 1 in the afternoon; and seamstresses and laundresses were not allowed to enter the building (for fear of seductions), but had instead to send boys for pick up and delivery.[1] According to an account offered in Hermes’ novel Sophiens Reise von Memel Nach Sachsen, living in the Alumnat and eating in the Convictorium saved a student 50 rthl. per year, which accords well with Goldbeck’s account of living expenses. 

Other housing arrangements would also present themselves, of course. After moving into the remodeled Löbesnicht Rathaus, the bookdealer J. H. Kanter took in lodgers, both teachers and students, and often quite inexpensively or for free [Kohnen 1994, 10]. Among his various lodgers were Kant [more], Hamann, Starck, Kraus, and Baczko (the latter two as students).

[1] See Arnoldt [1746, 1: 313-19; and in particular the section of the 1735 ordinance governing these affairs, reprinted as appendix 54, pp. 346-65], Goldbeck [1782, 51-52, 125], Vorländer [1924, i.45], Euler [unpubl.].

Collegium Fridericianum [top] [currency conversion]

A rather large number of students also had jobs as teachers or as supervisors (Inspizienten) at the Collegium Fridericianum, for which they received free lodging, oil for light, and firewood. They also received a stipend if they taught any classes. The number of boarding students was never more than 50, and sometimes considerably less, and two school boys would share a room with one supervisor — so there were, at most, 25 university students receiving room and board at the Collegium Fridericianum as supervisors. Most of these supervisors also served as one of the several dozen teachers needed for the Latin and German classes, and these all received room, board, heating wood, and lamp oil, as well as a stipend. Apart from this, the various poor schools (up to 23 at one time) under the Collegium Fridericianum’s supervision employed some 100 more university students (although there certainly would not have been room to lodge this additional number at the school)[Goldbeck 1782, 211].[1] Finally, one might work as a famulus (or errand boy) for the rector, and so receive free room, board, and firewood — although these boys were more likely drawn from the students attending the school itself.[2]

Johann Gottfried Herder [bio], a student of Kant’s in the 1760s, began teaching at the Collegium Fridericianum almost immediately after his arrival in Königsberg, beginning with in elementary school, but soon teaching at the secondary level once Schiffert became aware of his abilities, and he gave lessons in Latin, Greek, French, Hebrew, Mathematics, History, and Philosophy.[3] In 1762 he was receiving 16 rthl. per year (presumably the pay scale for the grade-school teachers), but in his second year received the equivalent of 50 rthl./year (as a teacher in the higher grades)[Dobbek 1961, 85]. On top of this, Herder was receiving 50 guilder each semester from an endowment set up by the Dohna family, the leading aristocracy around Mohrungen, for sending local boys off to the university. Herder applied for this scholarship at the beginning of his second full semester at the university.[4]

[1] This figure represents nearly one-third of the total student population of the university (according to Eulenburg’s enrollment estimates), and as such seems high, although Arnoldt [1746, ii.440] counted 350 students at the Collegium Fridericianum, along with 23 poor schools serving 1180 students and taught by 100 university students.

[2] Goldbeck notes that poorer students who were well-mannered might win such a position, receiving free room and board, as well as free access to the private lessons [1782, 225]. There had apparently been claims that Herder had first served as a famulus at the school, but this would hardly fit with Goldbeck’s general account, and Ludwig Seligo denied this explicitly [Herder 1846, 126-27, 133; repr. in Malter 1990, 61-63].

[3] A comment on p. 123 of Herder’s brown notebook (NL-Herder, XXVI.5) suggests he moved into the Collegium Fridericianum on August 10, the same day he matriculated at the university, although he did not begin teaching until WS 1762/63 — see Zippel [1898, 121-22] and Gause [1996, ii.267].

[4] On the Dohna’s relationship to the area, see the entry for Mohrungen in Weise [1966, 148-49]. In Herder’s Blue Notebook [NL-Herder XX.188] we find a sketch of a letter to Graf Dohna-Schlodien (early April 1763) asking to be considered for the scholarship [p. 135], as well as a letter to the magistrate in Mohrungen asking that they certify that he is indeed from there and therefore qualifies for assistance (the actual letter, dated 20 April 1763 [Arnold/Dobbek, i.23-24], is the earliest extant letter from Herder’s hand). The stipend was for three years, and so would not have expired when Herder left for Riga on 22 November 1764.

Kant’s Letters of Recommendation [top] [currency conversion]

Much of Kant’s correspondence concerning his students involves him seeking some scholarship or other for them (see also the discussion of his help locating private tutors on the Hofmeister page). One of Kant’s close acquaintances, Theodor Gottlieb von Hippel [bio], had served in various governmental capacities in Königsberg, eventually as mayor. In 1771 he was given the unpaid position of assessor in the Stipendienkolleg, the government body responsible for overseeing the university scholarships.[1] Perhaps for this reason, a great many of the letters from Kant to Hippel are recommendations for students seeking scholarships. For example, Kant’s letter of 29 September 1786 [#280, AA 10:466-67] concerns Johann Benjamin Jachmann [bio], the later physician, whose stipend was due to expire on St. Michaels (that very day), the official end of the semester. Kant asked whether Hippel might not give him one of the various stipendia advertised in the Königsberger Intelligenzzettel. And again, on 2 September 1787 [#302, AA 10:493], Kant wrote that “now that E. E. Magistrat is concerned with the distribution of stipendia,” Kant makes a request for the younger Jachmann (Reinhold Bernhard [bio], Kant’s eventual biographer).[2] On 28 September 1792 [#531, AA 11:371] Kant wrote to Hippel on behalf of his current amanuensis, Johann Heinrich Lehmann [bio], for a stipendium (a Magistratsstipendio), and three years later to the day [#681, AA 12:43] he was writing on behalf of Lehmann’s brother, the law student Johann Friedrich Lehmann, for a Boehmianum of about 10 rthl. to help him out for the winter semester: “He will bring all the necessary testimonials of his applied diligence and his acquired skills, to which I can also add my own without hesitation.” (See also Kant's testimonial for Lehmann.)

[1] See Goldbeck [1782, 134-35] for a description of this body. Goldbeck was financially marginal as a student and mentions both Kant and Reusch as helping him manage through their recommendations [1782, 117-18].

[2] See also his letter to Hippel of 6 January 1790 [AA 11:120-21, #397].