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Whilst Pestalozzi was working at Leonard and Ger-
trude, he wrote four other works, which were published
from 1781 to 1783, and of which we have not yet spoken,
because we were unwilling to interrupt what we had to say
about the book which made his literary reputation.

In 1779 a Society in Basle had offered a prize for the best;
essay on the following subject : How far is it advisable to
set a limit to personal expense in a small free state where
commerce is the foundation of prosperity ? Twenty-eight
essays were sent in, and the judges divided the prize be-


tween a professor, named Meister, and Pestalozzi, who were
both from Zurich, and were old schoolfellows. In 1781,
Pestalozzi's essay, with two others, was published in
pamphlet form by the Society that had given the prize.

In this paper Pestalozzi pronounces an absolute condem-
nation of sumptuary laws in general, for reasons which we
need hardly reproduce, seeing that this question has long
been settled, and has little interest for us to-day. At the
same time he pleads forcibly for liberty in commerce and
industry. He also deplores the increase of luxury, and
suggests means by which it may be stopped. These means
must be purely educational, for coercion, prohibition, and
regulation could only do harm. In this way the question
which had been proposed, and which at first sight seemed
entirely foreign to Pestalozzi's work, brings him back to his
favourite theme of education.

He would have education fill both heart and mind with
such high aspirations that men should no longer be capable
of finding pleasure in the refinements of material life. He
would have the rich love the poor so well as to hesitate to
flaunt before them pleasures which are not within their
reach. He would have rulers and public bodies cease to set
the example of ostentatious and useless expense.

The foregoing is but a poor summary of the chief ideas
which make this essay, written before the second volume
of Leonard and Gertrude, still interesting to us.

In 1782 Pestalozzi published Christopher and Eliza;
My Second Book for the People. But this title deceived
the public. They expected to find another story as graphic
and interesting as the volume of Leonard and Gertrude
that they had just read, whereas the new work was nothing
but a commentary on the earlier one.

The aim of the author was to bring out and develop the
lessons contained in the first volume, lessons which his
readers had missed. He had chosen the form of a dialogue
between Christopher and Eliza, a husband and wife who
read a chapter of Leonard and Gertrude every evening in
the presence of their son Fritz and their old servant Joost.
In this way Pestalozzi directs attention to a number of
important considerations, all bearing on the morals, comfort
and happiness of the people.

But the reading of this bock requires a more sustained


mental effort than most people are capable of, and even many
who might have profited by it, but who began to read merely
for the sake of amusement, soon abandoned the attempt.

Pestalozzi here made the same mistake that he often made,
a mistake, indeed, which on more than one occasion proved
fatal to his attempts to propagate his doctrine. The truths
which he himself held, as it were, intuitively, seemed so
simple and self-evident, that he could not understand how
other minds could fail to grasp them, and never doubted
that he would be able to spread them by writing popular

Christopher and Eliza did not succeed because both aim
and form were bad. In matter, indeed, it was perhaps
better than Leonard and Gertrude, being richer in im-
portant views on education and other social questions, many
of which views are still of value to-day. But it was pro-
bably Pestalozzi's opinions in matters of this sort that
hindered the success of his book amongst educated people,
for such opinions must at that time have been very offensive
to the upper classes. He points out, for instance, that the
corruption of those who are ruled generally results from the
corruption of their rulers, and that the vices of the poor
are too often caused by the vices of the rich, ideas, we think,
which no one would dare to condemn to-day so absolutely
as was done ninety years ago.

It was after having failed to reach his end with Chris-
topher and Eliza that Pestalozzi wrote the continuation
of Leonard and Gertrude.

We must here mention a publication of Pestalozzi's on a
question which had occupied his thoughts ever since he was
quite a young man. He was still a law student in Zurich
when two young girls of the Canton of Vaud were condemned
to death for infanticide. The trial made a great stir through-
out Switzerland, and Pestalozzi was both pained and in-
dignant. At first he refused to believe in the possibility
of such a crime against nature, but when upon inquiry
he found that infanticide was not only possible, but frequent,
he set himself to ascertain the causes which in civilized and
Christian Europe led young women to commit crimes so
monstrous as to be unheard of even amongst savage nations.

Accordingly, in 1780, after a long study of the question,
he wrote a pamphlet, entitled, On Legislation and Infanti'


tide ; Facts and Fancies, Investigations and Portraits. The
preface of the first edition, which was published in Frankfort
and Leipsic in 1783, concludes thus :

" I have considered this subject for many years, and I
ani convinced that my view is the right one. But I know
two things : in the first place, that I am weak and cannot
see far ; and, in the second, that truth, as men see it, is
never entirely free from error, and that no road goes quite
straight to its mark. And so I earnestly hope that what is
false in my opinions, as well as what is true, may be made
perfectly clear."

The title of this work is misleading, since the author only
speaks of legislation to show the harm it has done, and its
powerlessness to prevent immorality and the crimes to which
immorality leads. He declares in a note that his object is
to give an answer to the question : What are the best means
for preventing infanticide ? In his opinion these means are
purely educational, educational that is in the widest sense,
and he would have parents, teachers, clergymen, and magis-
trates lose no opportunity of using their influence to reform
the manners, opinions, and conduct of people of all ages.
The work is divided as follows :

1. Introduction.

2. General causes of infanticide, resulting from legislation
and social relations.

3. Examination of special causes. Eight cases.

4. Results of this examination, corroborated by quotations
from official records of trials for infanticide.

5. Means for prevention.

We shall soon have occasion to return to this work, for
in the interval which elapsed between its composition in
1 780, and its publication in 1783, much of it was printed in
the pages of the Swiss News, a periodical started by Pesta-
lozzi about this time, and of which we must now give some

At this period of his life, when no practical undertaking

was any longer possible to him, Pestalozzi was indefatigably

active with his pen, and always in the direction of his one

great object, the improvement of the condition of the people



by education. Eager to seize every opportunity of reaching
his end, he was often working at several different subjects
at the same time, and as what was written first was not
always published first, it is sometimes hard to determine the
exact chronological order of his works.

As the best means for making his views more widely
known, Iselin had advised him to publish a newspaper.
Accordingly, on the 3rd of January, 1782, there appeared
a paper, consisting of sixteen duodecimo pages, with the
title, the Swiss News. This paper continued to appear
every Thursday till the end of the year, and the whole of it
forms two volumes, which are very rare and very little

The contents are of a most varied nature, including, amongst
other things, short moral stories, dialogues, fables, and verse.
But the variety is more apparent than real, for the author's
favourite ideas are always recognizable, no matter what their
dress. The farther he gets, the more clearly does he explain
his plans of reform, so that the interest of his paper is con-
tinually increasing.

As early as the second number there is a fragment of the
essay on infanticide, which, together with his other writings,
attracted the attention of the most distinguished princes
of the time. The Emperor Joseph II., for instance, and the
Grand Duke Leopold of Tuscany, both endeavoured to apply
Pestalozzi's views to the improvement of the condition of
their subjects, and particularly to the reform of penal legis-
lation and of prison discipline, and with this object instructed
their ministers to communicate with the author of Leonard
and Gertrude.

Numbers 19 to 24 of the Swiss News contain a scheme
for a penitentiary system so complete in every detail, that
it might have been drawn up in the middle of the present
century, and indeed might still be consulted with profit.
The author supposes that a prince, whom he does not hesitate
to call Duke Leopold, has consulted Arner (the lord of Bonal
in Leonard and Gertrude), as to the best system of State
prisons. Pestalozzi first gives the Duke's letter, and then
Arner's reply, which is doubtless the same as that he made
to the Grand Duke at the request of his Minister.

Unfortunately for the Grand Duchy, Leopold was soon
called to replace Joseph II. on the throne of Austria, but he


had already done an immense amount of good, and there
is every reason for thinking that the influence of Pestalozzi's
ideas may be traced in the admirable institutions which for
a long time placed Tuscany in the vanguard of civilization,
and thanks to which the plains of the Arno are still culti-
vated by the flower of the Italian peasantry.

But it is education that occupies the chief place in the
Swiss News. In very many things Pestalozzi still shows
himself to be a disciple of Rousseau, though his popular and
practical spirit, and the weight he attaches to moral and
religious development already separate him widely from the
Genevan philosopher. The quotations that follow will be
a sufficient proof of this :

Volume ii., page 11. " Everything that raises humanity
to purer pleasures is of use to man, who is certainly destined
to develop all the powers which have been given him, and
thus to rise to the height of whatever circumstances can
favour and utilize this development."

Page 24. " In this state of things, rulers and teachers
have only to guide the progress of the knowledge and pleasures
of the century with all the power and wisdom they possess,
in order that the people may lose nothing that is still good,
may thoroughly understand their duty, and gladly do what-
ever enables them to live."

Page 157. " Why, oh men, do you serve God, if it is not
to sanctify yourselves and free yourselves from sin, to which
you are the more inclined the less you fear God and the
less you serve Him. The service that you render to God
preserves you from your greatest dangers. It is thus a
service that you render to yourselves, and is only true in
so far as it is useful."

Page 158. " Your God and Saviour seeks to lead you by
victory over your passions to a wise knowledge of life, and
by a wise knowledge of life to the worship of the invisible."

Page 159. " Love is the only real worship that man can
offer to God, and the only source of real faith. Love alone
leads man to life ; without it the earth holds nothing but
death and perdition. The man without love is without hope.
He who is a slave to envy, hatred, and anger, falls into
despair. A man's best powers forsake him if he love not his
brother, and he cannot love his brother if he have no rever-


ence for God. And thus the forgetfulness of God is a cause
of weakness^and death."

Page 167. " Oh, my country, may you be enabled to recog-
nize that it is the domestic virtues which determine the
happiness of a nation."

Page 171. " On the throne and in the cottage man has
an equal need of religion, and becomes the most wretched
being on the earth if he forget God."

Page 173. " See what a mortal man is without God ;
he has nothing on earth because he hopes for nothing in
heaven ; whereas he who fears God has everything on earth
because he hopes for everything in heaven."

Page 209. " The child at his mother's breast is the weak-
est and most dependent of human creatures, and yet he is
already receiving the first moral impressions of love and

Page 211. " Morality is nothing but a result of the de-
velopment in the child of these first sentiments of love and

" The first development of the child's powers should come
from his participation in the work of his home, for this work
is necessarily what the parents understand best, what most
absorbs their attention, and what they are most competent to

" But even if this were not so, work undertaken to supply
real needs would be just as truly the surest foundation of a
good education.

" To engage the attention of the child, to exercise his judg-
ment, to open his heart to noble sentiments, is, I think, the
chief end of education ; and how can this end be reached so
surely as by training the child as early as possible in the
various daily duties of domestic life ?

" Nothing makes a greater call on the attention than work
in general, because without close attention no work can be
well done ; but this is especially true of work which children
can do in a house, for it varies continually, and in a thou-
sand ways, and compels them to fix their attention on a great
number of different objects.

" Further, it is by doing all sorts of work at an early age
that a man acquires a sound judgment ; for if his work is to
succeed, the different circumstances under which it has to be
done must be thoroughly understood ; nor can the child help


being struck by the fact that failure results from errors in

" Finally, work is also the best means of ennobling the
heart of man, and of preparing him for all the domestic and
social virtues. For, to teach a child obedience, unselfishness,
and patience, I do not think anything can be better than
work in which he engages regularly with the rest of the

" As a general rule, art and books would not replace it in
any way. The best story, the most touching picture the
child finds in a book, is but a sort of dream for him, some-
thing unreal, and in a sense untrue ; whereas what takes
place before his eyes, in his own house, is associated with
a thousand similar occurrences, with all his own experience
as well as that of his parents and neighbours, and brings him
without fail to a true knowledge of men, and develops in
him a thoroughly observant mind."

We must now quote a passage from the Swiss News, in
which we find the first trace of a thought that became the
fundamental principle of Pestalozzi's method of education,
the analogy, that is, between the development of the moral
and intellectual man, and the physical development of the
plant ; in other words, the organism of education.

In volume i., page 407, we read :

" Summer evening ! Who can describe thee, when thou
comest at last, after a day of oppressive heat ? Everything
that breathes rejoices in thy freshness; everything that
breathes has need of thee. The roe leaves his hiding-place
in the forest to graze and breathe more freely in the open.
The flocks, too, gambol with enjoyment in the cool pastures,
and man, weary with the heat of the day, lies down till the
sun return.

" Summer day ! Teach this worm that crawls on the earth
that the fruits of life are formed amid the heat and storms
of our globe, but that to ripen, they have need of the gentle
rains, the glittering dew, and the refreshing rest of night.
Teach me, summer day, that man, formed from the dust of
the earth, grows and ripens like the plant rooted in the soil."

One more quotation from the Swiss News and we have
done. In a few lines towards the end of the introduction,


Pestalozzi paints one of the most touching and original
features of his own character. He had been reproached with
being still somewhat of a child, and he replies :

" I hope to remain so to the grave ; it is so pleasant to be
still a child, to believe, to trust, to love, to be sorry for your
mistakes and folly, to be better and simpler than knaves and
rogues, and at last, by their very wickedness, wiser. It is
pleasant to think nothing but good of men, in spite of all
you see and hear, to still believe in the human heart, even
though you may be deceived every day, and to forgive the
wise as well as the foolish of this world, when each, in his
own way, would lead you astray."

The two volumes of the Swiss News are certainly one of
the most remarkable productions of Pestalozzi's genius ; the
richness, originality, and independence of his thought, free
as yet from all foreign influence, are there displayed in all
their fulness.

We have said that the paper was chiefly concerned with
education. At first sight this does not seem true, but the
fact is that the author is considering the broad question of
the general education of humanity in its relation to man-
ners and customs, social systems and governments, and hence
politics occupy a large share of his attention.

But Pestalozzi was asking for reforms, and reforms were
distasteful to the educated portion of his readers. Amongst
other things, he advocated the abolition of capital punish-
ment, a measure which, thanks to the Grand Duke Leopold,
had already had good results in Tuscany, but for which
Switzerland perhaps was not yet ready. However this may
have been, subscribers began to fall off, and at the end of
the first year the paper had to be discontinued.

With the fourth volume of Leonard and Gertrude,
published in 1787, closes the first series of Pestalozzi's
writings. Ten years of silence are about to follow, in the
course of which the great French Revolution will be accom-
plished, giving a new phase to the literary activity of the
philosopher of education. Let us pause, then, a moment, and
examine the position he had now reached.

The starting-point of his work had been his pity for the
poor. He had seen that the evil cannot be cured either


by charity, legislation or preaching. Education seemed to
him the only effective remedy, but he saw that an education
was wanted which, based upon the child's daily life, should
set in action all the powers for good contained in germ in his
nature, and keep him continually employed. This is why he
wished to combine instruction with manual labour, feeling
that such a combination, if made living and attractive, would
be not only a means of livelihood, but a strengthening and
salutary exercise for heart, mind, and body.

Having failed in his attempt to give the world a practical
example of this method of regeneration, he tried to make it
known by his writings, and explained it in such a way as to
make it clear, he thought, to everybody, and capable of being
carried out in every village and every family. But then
various obstacles occurred to him : first, the mechanical
methods of education and religion, then custom and prejudice,
and various other hindrances which were more or less con-
nected with the social and political system of his time. It
is these last obstacles that he is attacking every time he
touches on politics.

As for the mechanical methods of education which were
generally in use at that time, they disgusted the child with
work, filled his head with nothing but words, and left him
incapable of doing anything without help. Pestalozzi's object
was to find a simple, natural, efficacious system to replace
them. The search for such a system had already occupied
him a long time. It became more and more the chief work
of his life, and finally ended in the reform which has immor-
talized his name.

At the time of which we speak, he had already recognized
several very important principles of his method. For instance,
the true starting-point is in personal impressions, whether
physical or moral. Words, rules, and regulations should not
come till afterwards. Hence, practice in talking before
reading. For the child, religious impressions, prayers,
reading of the Bible, but no catechism, no dogmatic teaching.
His tendency to compare the education of the child to the
development of the plant was already visible, and this com
parison, which is profoundly true, implies the idea of organic
development not only in the physical man, but in the intel-
lectual and moral man. And this idea is just what distin-
guishes Pestalozzi from those who preceded him ; the old


school professed to build up upon a child a complete structure
of knowledge and morality ; the new contents itself with
merely giving the necessary support, direction, and means
of activity to the child's faculties, which, left to develop by
themselves, will produce a perfect man.

f After 1787, Pestalozzi remained ten years without pub-
lishing anything. The chief reason of this silence was the
necessity for providing food for his family, for, notwithstand-
ing the success of his first book, his writing did not enable
him to live. In the first place, he was writing for an idea,
and not for the public taste ; and, in the second, jf a man
/ is to make money, even as a writer, he must possess a certain
/ commercial aptitude, which, as we know, Pestalozzi was
I entirely without. Lavater was perfectly right when he said
to Mrs. Pestalozzi : " If I were a prince, I would consult
your husband on everything connected with the improvement
and happiness of my people, but I would not entrust him
with a single farthing to spend/' Indeed, after publishing
all the books we have mentioned, Pestalozzi was just as poor
as ever. He had, however, recovered his health and strength,
and now, for the sake of his wife and child, he set to work
again on his land, with his wonted energy and enthusiasm.
But his attention was soon diverted by the French Revo-
lution which had just burst upon the world, and which
he was inclined at first to consider a fortunate circumstance,
and likely to remove many an obstacle to the reforms he was
meditating. A short essay on the causes of the Revolution
which he wrote at this time remained unpublished till 1872,
when it was discovered by Seyffarth and printed at the end
of the sixteenth and last volume of his edition of Pestalozzi's
works. Pestalozzi had given the manuscript to Mrs. Niederer,
who, at her husband's death, had given it to Krusi, whose
son, Doctor Gr. Krusi, entrusted it to Seyffarth. Mrs. Niederer
herself had originally intended to publish it, and in 1846 had
written an introduction, in the course of which occurs the
following striking passage :

" Pestalozzi, the enthusiast and prophet, whose whole long
and troubled life was spent in the cause of education, once
said to me :

" ' In another fifty years, when these times have passed
away and a new generation has taken our place, when Europe


has been so undennined by a repetition of the same mistakes,
and by the terrible consequences of the ever-increasing
misery of the people, that the very foundations of society aro
shaken, then perhaps will the lesson of my life at last be
understood, then will the wisest come to see that it is only
by ennobling men that an end can be put to the discontent
and suffering of the people, and to the abuses of despotism,
whether on the part of the many or the few.'

" For twenty years now the earth has covered the mortal
remains of this remarkable man, and more than half a century
has elapsed since he wrote down his inmost convictions in
this essay.

" If he did not publish it in his lifetime, it must undoubt-
edly have been because there was then some danger in
speaking thus openly, and because he was unwilling to im-
peril in the least degree the educational work to which he
was devoting his life."

An analysis of the Causes of the French Revolution would
' take us too far. Pestalozzi's own words, as quoted by Mrs.
Niederer, must suffice to show the aim and importance of this

Online LibraryRoger de GuimpsPestalozzi: his life and work → online text (page 10 of 43)