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peasant only did not speak. He was silent for a time, and
then said : " May I ask my lord a question ? " " Certainly,"
was the reply.

Peasant : " I have two fields of corn, one richly manured,
but badly cultivated and full of weeds; the other sparingly
manured, but well cultivated and clean. Which will yield
me the most ? "

Lord : " The second, of course, since you have made it
possible for the corn to grow freely."

Peasant : " Well, my lord, if, instead of loading us with
gifts, you would be good enough to leave us to manage our
own affairs, I think we should be better off."



The animals stood before Jupiter's throne awaiting his
decree, most of them believing and hoping that the elephant
would be appointed. The lion had as domineering an air as
though he were king already, but the elephant moved quietly
to and fro with the greatest unconcern.

Suddenly the voice of the lord of the thunder was heard :
" The lion is king."

" My choice surprises you," said Jupiter to the others, who
were standing open-mouthed with astonishment ; " you must
learn, then, that the elephant needs you not, having intelli-
gence and talents enough to be self-sufficing ; but the lion
has need of you, and as he is able, at the same time, to make
himself respected, I appoint him to be king."


The princes of hell, assembled in council, complained of
the slow progress of the kingdom of lying and injustice.
" The violent means," they said, " that our servants employ
against our eternal enemies, truth and justice, are absolutely
useless. In vain do we make martyrs of the heroic followers
of truth, love, and justice ; the more we persecute hell's
enemies, the more strength do they seem to gain."

After a moment's silence, Mephistopheles rose and addressed
the assembly: "It is true that our servants do not understand
all that is wanted to establish our sway amongst men. They
should pursue our enemies not only with fire and sword, but
above all with the tongue. They must learn better how to
throw dust into men's eyes by empty words; to twist injustice
into justice, And lying into truth; to make straight crooked,
and crooked straight ; to pervert the truth in an opponent's
mouth even before it is uttered ; to represent all manifesta-
tions of goodness, kindness, and love as the contemptible
results of human folly and weakness. The sole strength of
our enemies lies in the crumbs of love and truth that have
fallen to them from heaven ; but this gift is in weak hands,
from which, if we be but bold enough of speech, we may
wrest it. A clever, brazen tongue cannot be too highly
praised, for it is always associated with hatred, injustice,
harshness, and tying, which in themselves are quite enough


to destroy the love and truth that heaven has bestowed upon
feeble men."

The whole of hell applauded this speech of the prince, and
all the devils obeyed.


King Lion one day asked his subjects what they meant
when they talked of liberty.

Said the ox: "I should think it the most desirable liberty
to be never fastened to the yoke, but always to the manger."

Said the monkey : " I shall never think nvyself free so
long as I have a tail and a hairy skin. Without these
disadvantages I should be quite free, for I should be a man."

Said the draught horse : " I feel free when my harness is
taken off, and I have nothing at all to carry."

Said the carrriage horse : " When I am magnificently har-
nessed, and drag a fine carriage for a short distance, I
sometimes feel freer than the noble lord behind me."

Said the ass : " To be free is never to have either sack or
basket upon your back." .

Said the sloth : " If, when I have devoured all the leaves
on my branch, somebody would be good enough to carry me
to another and put me within reach of the leaves I so much
enjoy, I should be free indeed."

Said the fox : " And I should be free if my prey did no
cost me so much fear, cunning, and patience."

A man overheard all this and cried : " Surely none but
animals can wish for this sort ' of liberty." He was right:
every wish for such liberty as is only fit for animals stifles
in a man's soul all true sense of real liberty.

In this same year, 1797, in which the first edition of
the Fables appeared, Pestalozzi published his Inquiry
into tlie Course of Nature in the Development of the
Human Race. His aim was to study the law of man's
natural development, and by so doing to throw light on
certain points of moral and political science, and furnish
education with a few fundamental principles. In other
.words, Pestalozzi sought to give some philosophical colour
to the views he was endeavouring to spread, and which he
had hitherto rather felt than proved to be true.

In his previous writings he had either described concrete


facts or proclaimed isolated truths ; but in the book we are
now considering he undertakes a serious philosophical
inquiry, with a view to building up such a sound and com-
plete system as will explain and justify his views, and at
the same time give them a centre and unity.

This new method was not much to Pestalozzi's taste, nor
was it in accordance with the general bent of his mind ; it
is probable indeed that he would never have adopted it,
had he not been persuaded by his friend Fichte, the philo-
sopher, who, accustomed to generalizations, urged the Swiss
philanthropist to formulate the philosophical principle
which was at the root of his teaching and plans. Fichte
even gave him certain directions for the work, to which
Pestalozzi devoted himself for three years with incredible
zeal and assiduity.

The Inquiry is the most important book published by
Pestalozzi, but it is also the most unsatisfactory. The very
qualities which are so essential in a work of this kind
method and order are sadly lacking; there are far too many
unnecessary and tedious developments, and the whole book
is prolix and obscure. The result was that it met with no
success, as the author himself tells us in How Gertrude
Teaches her Children, published in 1801. The passage is
as follows :

" For three years I took immense pains with my In-
quiry, my chief object being to co-ordinate my favourite
ideas, and bring my natural sentiments into harmony with
my views on civil law and morality. But my work was
but another proof of my incapacity. . . .

" And so I reaped no more than I had sown. My book
had no more effect than my previous labours, nobody under-
stood me, and there was not a man who did not give me to
understand that he considered the whole work a jumble of
nonsense. Only to-day even, a man of some distinction, and
a friend, said to me : ' Surely, Pestalozzi, you see now that
in writing that book you did not really know what you
meant.' "

Niederer, however, who was afterwards so intimately as-
sociated with Pestalozzi, judged differently. Early in 1801
he wrote to the author as follows :


" Your- Inquiry strikes me as a rough but solid product
of that psychological intuition which is peculiar to you;
and so little does it seem, to me to be nonsense, that I look
upon it as containing a most valuable discovery, what in-
deed I may call the germ of your whole educational method,
Your ideas are so profound and suggestive that I wish you
could find enough quiet leisure to arrange them somewhat
more clearly ; but you must not attempt this till you have
put your educational work on a satisfactory basis. 1 The
expression of your views will then probably be more general
and complete, and more intelligible to men who are still
unfamilar with the new point of view you have thrown open
to us."

After having carefully studied this book, we have come to
very much the same conclusion as Niederer. It certainly
contains many suggestive truths, not yet generally recog-
nized, which go far to explain some of the apparent con-
tradictions in the life of the individual and of humanity,
which might help to solve the political and social problems
that torment our age, and which afford a broad and solid
basis for Pestalozzi's method of education. But with all
this, the book, if it is to be really useful, must be rewritten;
and since the author did not follow Niederer's advice,
some capable man is wanted, first to saturate himself with
Pestalozzi's ideas, and then to restate them, and make of
this nonsense, as it has been called, a new work, clearer
and more systematic than the original, and leading to more,
definite conclusions.

After what we have said, it is evident that we cannot
here attempt an analysis of the book. It will be enough to
give a general notion of the subjects it treats, and cite a few
of the most striking ideas. Pestalozzi's aim may be best
stated in his own words :

" The contradictions which apparently exist in human
nature affect very few people so keenly as they affect me.
Even when I was beginning to grow old, I felt the same
need that I had always felt of some sort of free and useful

1 This letter was written just after Pestalozzi had started his institu-
tion at Burgdorf.


activity, and this in spite of the fact that my activity hag
always been vain and sterile and productive of little con-

" But now at last I feel tired and sit down to rest, and
yet I am thankful to say that though my heart is suffering
and downcast, I am still able to ask myself with all the
simpleuess of a child : What am I, and what is humanity ?
What have I done, and what does humanity do ?

" I am anxious to know what my life, such as it has been,
has made of me ; and what life,' such as it is, makes of
humanity ?

" I am anxious to find out the real sources of my activity
and of the opinions which have resulted naturally from the
circumstances in which I have been placed.

" I am anxious also to find out the real sources of the
activity of my race, and of the opinions which result
naturally from the circumstances in which men are placed."

After having thus stated the philosophical problem, the
author recognizes three different tendencies in himself,
three natures, three distinct men as it were : the animal
man, the social man, and the moral man.

The animal man is the work of Nature, a slave to the
pleasures of sense, careless of the morrow, thinking only of
to-day ; but kindly, simple, and straightforward in his ways.
He predominates in the infancy of the individual as in that
of humanity.

The weakness of the animal man, however, leads him to
engage in industry, and industry produces property, and
property strife. Gradually, too, differences in power and
capability produce differences in position, and the less
fortunate are compelled to appeal to the powerful for pro-
tection, to the thoughtful for guidance, and to the rich for
food, and so the social state begins.

The social man is not merely the work of Nature ; he is
also, and in a much greater degree, the work of society, for
it is society that makes him what he is by limiting his"
liberty and by subjecting him to rule, custom, and opinion. If
childhood may be taken as a fairly correct image of the ani-
mal man, adolescence may be taken as that of the social man,
for it is upon the youth that teachers and professors, schools
and universities, lay hands to fashion him to their liking.


But the animal man is restless under the control of the
social man, and so everybody tries to preserve for himself
the liberty he denies to others, and pleasures that cannot
be shared by all. And thus society, that aimed at putting
an end to strife, has only changed its form and made it
more general. The employment of force being forbidden, a
hundred other ways of attack have been found, and an-
tagonism has become so general that in civilized States every
man is on his guard against every other. The kindliness
and straightforwardness ' of the animal man have dis-
appeared, and have been replaced in the social man by ill-
will and cunning.

Society has need of laws and government, and must
therefore allow its rulers that right of force which is denied to
the individual. Thus the social state, bringing with it on the
one hand a spirit of dominion, and on the other a state of
subjection, indefinitely increases men's natural inequalities
as well as their pride and ambition, and the smothered
strife that goes on throughout society has no longer for
cause the simple desire to satisfy legitimate needs, but
rather the pursuit of a number of refined artificial pleasures,
limitless as the dreams of a diseased imagination.

The social state, then, in spite of its immense advantages
for the progress of order, security, industry, science, and
art, is powerless to improve the heart of man ; nay, even
religion itself, in so far as it is only a part of a social
system, is like a mould which does but shape the surface.
The moral man is not, therefore, the work of society.

The animal man is the work of Nature, the social man the
work of society, but the moral man must be the work of
himself the result, that is, of the development and exercise
of the sentiments of pity and justice, love and gratitude,
faith and charity, which the Creator has set in the human
soul. Each individual must have the desire to be higher,
nobler, and better, and must endeavour to make himself so
by working upon his own character. The result of such
work is the moral man, and society is only really and
entirely beneficial when it is composed of men of this sort.

True religion exists for the moral man alone ; for man
can only find God by the searchings of his own heart, and
in so far as he still pi-eserves God's image in himself. When
this image is no longer there, he makes a god in his own


image. The religion of the animal man is idolatry, and of
the social man deceit ; but the religion of the moral man is
truth, the principle and stay of all morality, and gives him
not only the desire for unceasing self-improvement, but the
means of carrying it out.

A man's progress is real, and his activity of value to
himself, his family, and society, only when he is self-formed;
for then only is all that he possesses really his own, then
only has he a distinct individuality, with heart and mind
no longer the slaves either of animal instincts or of the
prejudices of society.

The foregoing sketch will give but a very imperfect idea
of the Inquiry, for we have done little more than point out
the general plan of the work, whereas it is in the digressions
and developments that we often find the author's most
striking ideas. Often, too, when he is led by his feelings and
imagination either to satirize the institutions of his time,
or paint in glowing colours the moral and intellectual pro-
gress to which he aspires, the philosopher is lost in the
poet, and we come upon page after page of the most lofty
eloquence. The book closes with the following touching
reference to himself:

" Thousands of men (the work of Nature alone) yield to
the corruption of sensual pleasures and desire nothing
further ; myriads accept the hard bondage of their needle,
their hammer, or their crown, and also desire nothing

" I, however, know a man who was not thus contented.
The innocence of childhood was his delight, his faith in men
was such as is shared by few mortals, his heart was
fashioned for friendship, his nature was love itself, con-
stancy his chief joy.

" But as he was not made by the world, the world had
no place for him, and finding him thus, without even
asking whether the fault was his or another's, crushed him
with its iron hammer as the mason crushes a useless stone.

" But thotigh crushed, he still cared more for humanity
than for himself, and set to work on a task from which,
amid cruel sorrows, he learned things that few mortals
know. Then he looked for justice from those whom in his
retirement he still loved, but he was disappointed, for he


was judged by men who had not even listened to him, and
persistently declared him to be fit for nothing.

" This was the grain of sand that turned the balance of
his fate and was his ruin.

" He is now no more, and a few confused traces are all
that remain of his broken existence. He has fallen, as the
green fruit falls from the tree when the cold north wind
has smitten its blossom, or the cankerworm gnawed its
heart. And as he fell, he leaned his head against the trunk,
and murmured : ' Yet would I still nourish thy roots with
my dust.' Passer-by, give a tear to his memory, and leave
this fallen, rotting fruit to strengthen the tree in whose
branches it passed its short-lived summer."

With this book closes the series of works published by
Pestalozzi during the period when he was merely a writer,
and before he .entered upon the educational undertakings
in which he applied and developed his method of teach-
ing, and which not only brought him many eminent colla-
borators, but helped to spread far and wide the fame of the
Pestalozzian method.

Pestalozzi's publications during this period have a peculiar
importance, partly because they give their author's ideas
free from all foreign alloy, partly because his manuscripts
were printed just as they left his pen.

Afterwards, at Burgdorf and Yverdun, it was no longer
the same, for Pestalozzi, unable to write everything himself,
entrusted much of the work connected with his elementary
books to some of his collaborators, particularly Krusi and
Schmidt. Niederer also helped him in this way, revising all
his more important work before publication, with a view to
giving it a more philosophical form.

But none who have studied Pestalozzi can be deceived,
the master's style bearing an unmistakable stamp of origin-
'. ality. Pestalozzi sees far and deep, but seldom indulges in
'\ general views; his impulsive genius is entirely unsystematic;
he sheds no steady light, but breaks out rather in brilliant
flashes, following every impulse of his heart and every dis-
covery of his genius with little care for logical sequence
This is at once his great merit and his great defect.



THE Swiss Revolution of 1798 divides Pestalozzi's life into \
two widely different parts.

In the first, left to himself, he worked alone ; he was little
understood ; his undertakings failed, and he lived on in his I
obscure retreat, poor and despised by everybody. But at the /
same time there was nothing to check the activity of his I
thought, or in any way affect the originality of his genius /
und his ideas. I

In the second part of his life, Pestalozzi, thanks to the \
Revolution, obtained support from the Swiss Government, /
and was at last able to carry out his views for the education^
of the people. His rare devotion and success excited general^
admiration ; offers of helpers and pupils came to him from
all sides, and he founded his educational institutions. But
after the first outburst of enthusiasm, criticism and envy also
made their appearance. The general body of teachers, indeed,
manifested considerable opposition to the new method, and
numerous attacks were directed against it, which had all to be
answered. The consequence of this was that from that time
Pestalozzi, having to consider his protectors the magistrates,
his collaborators, and the parents of his pupils, was no longer
able to preserve the complete independence he had formerly
enjoyed. And hence it is important that we should clearly
understand what Pestalozzi's doctrine was at the end of this
first period of his life, before those undertakings were em-
barked upon which brought him glory, it is true, though
often, if we may judge from its outward manifestations, at the
expense of the independence and originality of his genius.

In 1797 Pestalozzi was fifty-one years old, and, as we have
seen, looked upon himself as a worn-out old man incapable
of further effort. And yet his most important work, that



work which, in spite of not being entirely free from foreign
influences, was in the truest sense the result and development
of his past thought and activity, was not even begun. If we
examine Pestalozzi's views at the point we have now reached,
it will be easier, when we are describing the second part
of his life, to distinguish the natural and logical development
of these views from the modifications introduced into them by

We have seen that the starting-point of Pestalozzi's work
was his search for the means of rescuing the people from
their state of poverty and degradation. He soon saw that
it is impossible to help the poor, unless the poor are able and
willing to help themselves; that is to say, their material
destitution cannot disappear so long as their moral and intel-
lectual poverty exists. In other words, the true remedy is

Then, in studying human nature in very young children,
he found, even in the families most degraded by poverty, the
seed as it were of a wealth of faculties, sentiments, tastes,
and capabilities, whose natural development would provide
for the satisfaction of all the material, intellectual, and moral
needs of society.

He saw, further, that the ordinary education of his day,
instead of looking for these elements of power in the child,
in order to develop them by use and encourage a full natural
growth of all the child's best faculties, did nothing but put
before him the knowledge, ideas, and feelings of others, and
try to make him regulate his habits by them, and fix them
in his memory.

Thus the most precious powers of the child wasted in
inaction, and education did little more than stifle his indi-
viduality beneath a mass of borrowed ideas.

The direction of the education of the day was from without
to within ; Pestalozzi wished to make it from within to without.

All these ideas are expressed so often and so clearly in the
quotations we have given from Pestalozzi's writings, that it
seems superfluous to refer to the numerous passages in which
they are to be found. It was still necessary, however, to find
a way of developing these powers, which exist in the child
but in germ, and of strengthening and increasing the bud-
ding faculties whose united and harmonious action is to form
the perfect man.


In his first writing on education, TJie Evening Hour
of a Hermit, printed in 1780, Pestalozzi had said in No. 22 :
" Nature develops all the powers of humanity by exercising
them ; they increase with use." And, again, in No. 25 :
" Thou who wouldst be a father to thy child, do not expect
too much of him till his mind has been strengthened by
practice in the things he can understand."

Thus if faculties are to be developed, they must be used ;
and before they can be used they must be provided with
work within their scope. ' Hence the importance in all
elementary exercises of the starting-point, which, after much
careful investigation, Pestalozzi found in the child's natural
tastes, in the needs of . its age, in the circumstances of its
home-life, for we read in No. 40 of the Evening Hour :
" The pure sentiment of truth and wisdom is formed in the
narrow circle of our personal relations, the circumstances
which suggest our actions, and the powers we need to develop."
Having thus sought the starting-point of education in the
needs, desires, and circumstances of actual life, Pestalozzi
was naturally led to associate the work of the body with that
of the mind, to develop industry and study side by side,
to combine, as it were, the workshop and the school. It is
particularly in Leonard and Gertrude that this last point of
view is most fully treated.

Thus the question of education led to the consideration
of economical questions. It was not only necessary to
develop the intellectual faculties and the moral sense of the
child, but also to exercise his bodily powers and teach him to
earn his livelihood in the society in which he has to live, and
in which nothing but his own efforts will keep him a place.

This explains how it was that Pestalozzi felt called upon
to examine our social system, to point out the obstacles in the
way of an improved condition of the people, and to deter-
mine what reforms were necessary for helping this on.

Thus led to the consideration of social and political

Online LibraryRoger de GuimpsPestalozzi: his life and work → online text (page 12 of 43)