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we now see fulfilled, was Henry Pestalozzi.

It is important to have complete knowledge of a man who,
throughout a long life, sacrificed himself for what was, perhaps,
the most fertile idea of modern times the regeneration of nations
by elementary education ; a man who, passionately loving the
people in spite of their ignorance and vices, sought to teach and
raise them even before they had made themselves feared ; a man
who, in his ardent desire to help humanity, became, in turn,
theologian, lawyer, agriculturist, manufacturer, author, journa-
list, and schoolmaster ; a man who, amid flattery from kings
and people, never swerved a moment from his course ; a man,
finally, whose bold and original genius was, to the very last, com-
bined with the openness, simplicity, and absolute trust of a child.

Such was Pestalozzi. In another age and in other circum-
stances he would have been a saint. The Catholic Church has
few greater or purer.

The life of this man offers strange contrasts. It will seem full
of eccentricities, blunders, and even follies, unless we are guided
by a perfect knowledge of his character and of the idea which
was the mainspring of all his actions.

His child-like trust, which prevented him from thoroughly
understanding the men of his time, led him into many an error,
and caused the failure of his undertakings, and the world, that
believes only in success, condemned Pestalozzi.

But posterity has been fairer to him, 1 and to-day his memory
is venerated and his devotion admired. We see that it is to him

1 The town of Yverdun is jnst about to honour the memory of the famoua
man who lived there for so long, a bronze statue of Pestalozzi with two poor
children being almost ready for inauguration.


we owe the reform of elementary education, a reform, however,
which, notwithstanding the progress already made, is still far
from complete.

And yet Pestalozzi is still very little known, and not at all
understood, even those who have heard of him having but a
vague idea of the principles that guided him, and of the end
that, in spite of disappointment and failure, he steadily pursued
for so long.

Throughout his life Pestalozzi had always the same object in
view ; and though the idea which animated him developed with
age and experience, it never really changed. As the illusions
of his youth vanished, his work appeared more holy and moro
beautiful, and the means he had employed more and more in-
sufficient. And so he never ceased in his efforts to perfect and
complete them. No man was ever less satisfied with himself ;
no man was ever so quick to learn from experience. In one thing
alone did he refuse to listen to its teaching : ingratitude never
lessened his kindness, nor deceit his trust.

A history of Pestalozzi must, above all, be a history of the
development of the great idea which, in its successive stages,
he sought to put into practice in the various enterprises of his
life. In this way alone can it be true, .clear, and complete.

Such is the task we have set ourselves in writing this book, in
which all who wish to understand Pestalozzi's work will find its
true results, and, we hope, some practical help for the improve-
ment of education.

Pestalozzi, like other men, had his faults and his weaknesses,
which it would be unfair to the public and to him to hide. To
the public, the historian's duty is to hide nothing of the truth;
to Pestalozzi, to show him as he himself has chosen to appear in
his appeal to posterity (Song of the Swan) in which, in an excess
of humility and forbearance, he has even gone so far as to say
that his faults alone were the cause of his misfortunes, con-
demning himself that he might save the beneficent idea he was
bequeathing to humanity. His glory will lose nothing if we
respect this last wish.

Pestalozzi's great and beautiful character is like no other ; the
eagle and the dove, the lion and the lamb are there, the woman
and the child, perhaps, more than the man. Its originality, to be
fully understood, must be studied from its very earliest growth,
and hence the importance of every detail we have been able to
collect concerning the childhood of a man who has already had
BO many biographers, but the history of whose life is still so full
of error and defects.

Amongst the innumerable works on Pestalozzi, we must par-
ticularly notice Pompee's, which was published in Paris in 1850,
under the auspices of the Academy of Moral and Political Science.

xviii PREFACE,

He gives certain facts which are generally wanting in the Swiss
and German biographers, and which we have made use of in the
present work. He draws, too, a very true and lively picture of the
man and his life of devotion; but the account of the fall of the
Yverdun Institute is so full of strange errors and mistaken views,
that it would seem that the author must have drawn from a source
which was not entirely trustworthy. It is this, undoubtedly, that
has made him unfair to many of Pestalozzi's friends and fellow-

Before finishing this work, on which we have been long en-
gaged, we were fortunately able to profit by the many German
publications which, for some years past, have been throwing new
light on the life and work of Festal ozzi.

Two in particular have been very useful to us :

First, that of Mr. Morf, at one time head of the Training
College in Canton Berne, and then Director of the Orphanage at
Winterthur, entitled, Documents for the Biography of Henry
Pestalozzi. Mr. Morf has gone through public records, private
letters, family papers, and indeed anything that was likely to
throw light on the life of his hero, with indefatigable zeal, and
judges the work of the educational reformer with much peda-
gogical penetration. 1

The second is that of Mr. Seyffarth, of Luckenwalde,
near Brandenburg, who, between 1870 and 1873, published in
eighteen volumes the first really complete edition of Pestalozzi's
works. Cotta's edition, in 1826, included many books which
were not written by the master, but by his assistants, whilst
several of Pestalozzi's most important works were wanting.
Mr. Seyffarth has further enriched his collection by the addition
of several interesting and characteristic smaller works which
had remained unpublished, and by prefacing each of the bigger
works with a well- written introduction.

How is it that so much has been talked and written about
Pestalozzi in Germany lately P Because she knows her present
greatness is owing, in a large measure, to him.

After Jena, when Napoleon persisted in rejecting the principles
of the Swiss Reformer, Germany, on the contrary, adopted them,
and, leorganizing her "public education in this spirit, produced a
generation of men who were not only instructed but educated.
Afterwards, however, she gradually neglected Pestalozzi's doc-
trine, especially from the moral point of view, and the Prussian
schools degeuerated. To-day, for instance, they would be in-
capable of forming men like those the country still possesses
in the flower of their age. All the best minds are well aware of

1 He lias lately published a second book, entitled, Leaves from t 7 ie Story
of Pestalozzi's Life and Sorrows.


this, and an effort is being made to restore to his old honourable
position the man whose educational doctrine was one of the
chief means of raising Prussia when she had fallen so low.

At Easter, 1872, there was a Congress in Berlin of delegates
from the Societies of Elementary Teachers in Brandenburg,
Saxony, Hanover, and Hesse- Nassau. The Congress represented
more than ten thousand teachers, and decided upon the creation
of a National Society of German Elementary Teachers, the head-
quarters of which should be in Berlin.

On the 4th of April, Dr. Falk, the Minister of Religion and
Education, received a deputation of delegates, who made three
requests in the name of the Congress.

According to the Hanover Courier the third request ran
thus :

" The extension of the programme of study for elementary
teachers, and the organization of training schools in accordance
with the pedagogic principles of Pestalozzi, which, thanks to the
protection of Queen Louisa, Stein, William Humboldt, Fichte,
etc., formerly enjoyed so much favour in Prussia and so visibly
contributed to the regeneration of the country."

In France, the first attempts at educational reform in the
spirit of Pestalozzi were owing to the efforts of men like Cochin
and Pompee ; not however that the full value of the labours of
the Swiss pedagogue was not recognized at the outset by a large
number of distinguished men Of all shades of opinion. It will
be enough to mention Maine de Biran, de Yailly, Georges Cuvier,
de Gerando, de Lasteyrie, Madame de Stael, de Clermont-
Tonnerre, de Dreux-Breze, Bourbon-Busset, Biot, Geoff roi-Saint-
Hilaire, Sebastiani, de Laborde, Gaultier, Jomard, Choron,
Ordinaire, Matter, Delessert, de Broglie, Casimir Perrier, and
Victor Cousin. But it is since the labours of Madame Pape-
Carpentier, and especially since the conferences on sense-impress-
ing 1 teaching in the Exhibition of 1878, that we may say that every
intelligent teacher in France has sought to reduce elementary
education to the principles laid down by Pestalozzi. The
pedagogical works published during the last ten or fifteen years
are all animated by the same spirit ; and if they do not all ex-
plicitly recommend the Pestalozzian method, they at least obey
the tendency. May the book we are now publishing contribute
to the success of their efforts !

1 This word or sense-impressed I have used thronghout for intuiti)
(anschaulich) . For intuition (Anschaulichkeit) I have said sense-impression .



INTRODUCTION ........... iii


























Pestalozzi: His Life and Work.



Influence of home on his character ; influence of school and of
a visit to the country. To help the poor, he decides to be
a village pastor.

IN 1567, Antony Pestalozzi, a Protestant refugee from
Chiavenna, and his wife Madeline de Muralt, of Locarno,
also an exile from her country through having adopted the
reformed faith, found refuge in the town of Zurich. From
them was descended Andrew Pestalozzi, who was a pastor
at Hongg near Zurich, and the grandfather of the subject of
this biography. 1

Andrew's son, John Baptist, was a surgeon of good standing
in Zurich, and had acquired some reputation as an oculist ;
he had married Susanna Hotz, of Richterswyl, a beautiful
village on the edge of the lake of Zurich. Susanna was a
sister of the well-known Dr. Hotz, and the niece of the
General Hotz who was killed at Schoennis in 1799.

Henry, the subject of this biography, was the son of John
Baptist Pestalozzi, and was born on the 12th of January,
1746. His early home and the circumstances of his child-
hood had so great an influence on his character that we
must give some account of them.

In the middle of the town of Zurich stands a large bridge,
used as a market for flowers, fruit, and vegetables, and con-

1 The parish registers of Hongg afford evidence of the mistake of those
biographers who call this pastor Hotz and make him the maternal grandr
father of Pestalozzi.


necting a small square on the left bank of the Limmat with
the square in which the Town Hall stands on the opposite
side. Not far from the latter building and the quay there
is a small, old-fashioned square called Riidenplatz, leading,
on the south, into a very narrow street. The corner house
fronting the street is the house where Pestalozzi was boru.
It is numbered five, and bears the date 1691 ; the ground-floor,
which is now used as a warehouse, was probably in 1746 the
shop where, according to the custom of the time, the chirur-
geon John Pestalozzi sold his simples and his drugs.

It was an old custom in Zurich for every house to have a
name and sign ; that in which Pestalozzi's parents lived wad
called The Black Horn. 1

Henry was only just five years old when his father died,
leaving a widow and three children (two boys and a girl),
but very little fortune. Baptist, the eldest boy, died young ;
the girl, Barbara, eventually married a Mr. Gross, a mer-
chant in Leipsic, and corresponded all her life with her
brother Henry, to whom she was very much attached.

Susanna Pestalozzi was a gifted woman and an admirable
mother. Having been well brought up herself, she now
thought of nothing but her duty to her children, and it was
undoubtedly the educational advantages of Zurich that
made her prefer this town to the pleasanter and easier life
she might have led near her brother at Eichterswyl. She
must, however, have sxiccumbed under the difficulties of the
task she had set herself, had it not been for the devotion of
a faithful servant. But here we will quote from Pestalozzi's
own account of his early education :

" My mother devoted herself to the education of her three
children with the most complete abnegation, foregoing
everything that could have given her pleasure. In this
noble sacrifice she was supported by a poor young servant
whom I can never forget. During the few months she had

1 Some have maintained that Pestalozzi was born at the Red Lattice,
23, Miinsterstrasse. a house which bears the inscription, Honour to God
alone, 1664, and which is a little lower down than the one occupied by
his friend Lavatnr. This is a mistake, for it is contradicted not only by
local tradition but by Pestalozzi's own statements, as we shall see. It
is true, however, that at the age of eighteen Pestalozzi lived with his
mother at the lied Lattice.


been in our service, my father had been struck by her rare
fidelity and unusual quickness. On his deathbed, agonized
at the thought of what the consequence of his death might
be for his family that he was leaving almost penniless, he
sent for her, and said : ' Babeli, for the love of God and all
His mercies, do not forsake my wife ! What will become
of her after my death ? My children will fall into the
hands of strangers and their lot will be hard. Without
your help she cannot possibly keep her children with her.'
Her noble, simple heart was touched, and her soul accepted
the sacrifice. ' If you die,' she said, ' I will not forsake your
wife, but I will remain with her, if needs be, till death.'
Her words soothed my poor father, a gleam of joy shone in
his eyes, and he died happily.

" She kept her word, for she stayed with my mother till
she died, helping her to bring up her three children under
the most difficult and painful circumstances imaginable, and
showing in this work of patient devotion a tact and delicacy
which were the more astonishing, seeing that she was entirely
without education and had left her native village only a few
months before to try and find a situation in Zurich.

"Her fidelity and dignity of manner were a result of her
piety and simple faith. However painful the conscientious
fulfilment of her promise may sometimes have been, it never
once occurred to her that she might break it.

" My mother's position as a widow necessitated the most
careful economy, and the trouble that Babeli took to do
what was almost impossible, is hardly credible. To save a
farthing or two in the purchase of vegetables or fruit, she
would go two or three times to the market, waiting for the
moment when the peasants would be anxious to get rid
of their goods for the sake of returning home. The same
careful economy was applied to everything, otherwise my
mother's slender means would not have sufficed for our
housekeeping expenses. When we children wanted to be
off somewhere and there was no particular reason for us to
go, Babeli would stop us, saying : ' Why do you want to go
and spoil your clothes and shoes to no purpose ? See how
your mother goes without everything for your sakes, how
she never leaves the house for months together, how she is
saving every farthing for your education.' But of herself,
of what she did for us, of her continual sacrifices, the noble


girl never spoke. The economy in the house was not
allowed to interfere in any way with the family traditions,
and the money devoted to alms, gratuities, and new year's
gifts was out of all proportion to our personal expenses.
Although these extra disbursements always troubled my
mother and Babeli, they never hesitated to make them. My
brother, my sister and myself had all fine Sunday clothes,
but we wore them very little, always taking them off as
soon as we got indoors, in order that they might last the
longer. When my mother expected visitors, no pains were
spared to make our one room fit to receive them." J

This economy did not prevent the children from occasion-
ally having a little pocket-money. One day, when little
Henry had a few pence in his pocket, he was tempted by the
good things in a confectioner's window near his home and
went in to buy something. The house, which was in the
square and has since been restored, was called The Plough.
The shopkeeper's name was Schulthesy, and inside Henry
found little Anna Schulthess minding the shop. The girl
was only seven years older than he was, but she refused to
sell him anything and advised him to keep his money till he
could make a better use of it. She who now gave him this
excellent piece of advice afterwards became his wife, and
remained his good angel till her death.

Thus Pestalozzi passed his childhood in an atmosphere
of love, devotion, and peace, of rigid economy and of noble
generosity. It was this, undoubtedly, that made him trust-
ful, self-forgetful, calm, and affectionate, and gave him that
gentle, sincere, and active piety which finds pleasure even
in renunciation and privation. At the same time his
imagination did not remain dormant, indeed its development
seemed to make up in a measure for his lack of physical
activity. The little fellow, nearly always shut up at home,
listened eagerly to tales and readings, of which he never
forgot a word. On the contrary, he turned them over and
over in his mind, putting himself in the place of his heroes
and making them act differently with different results.
Already he was busy with thoughts which took him far
away from the realities of his life.

1 Letter from Pestalozzi to Professor Ith, 1802.


The education Pestalozzi received from his mother left
ineffaceable memories in his heart. Mothers, to him, were
the ideal educators ; it was to them he addressed his ad-
vice and exhortations, and on them that he relied for the
regeneration of the people. And is not he himself an
example of how much a man's childhood may be influenced
by the care, love, and devotion of a good mother ? And may
we not think that if Rousseau had been brought up by a good
mother, his genius might have been entirely beneficent ?

But however excellent Pestalozzi's early education may
have been in all the most important points, and especially
in the development of his affections, it was bound to be
incomplete. The boy, puny from his birth, always indoors,
brought up entirely by women, deprived of a father's in-
fluence, of all contact with boys of his own age, and of out-
door games and interests, remained all his life small and
weak, shy and awkward, changeable and impressionable.
As Niederer, who afterwards became his friend and helper,
once said : " In Pestalozzi there was as much of the woman
as of the man."

The springs of young Pestalozzi's life were in the heart
and imagination alone ; his thought, swift to perceive the
relations between things, and often turned in on itself, left
him absent-minded, inattentive, and careless about mere
formalities, and, as a general rule, about the material con-
ditions of life. He was unaware of the exceptional charac-
ter of the family-life he had enjoyed, and ignorant of what
the society of men in general was like. It is easy to judge
from this how many bitter disappointments were in store
for him.

They commenced as soon as he went to school. Although
he often gave proof of penetration, he* was unsuccessful with
most of his work; indeed, he wrote and spelt so badly that
his master judged him to be utterly incapable. His com-
panions liked him for his good disposition and obliging
nature, but they took advantage of his good qualities to
make a butt of him. Pestalozzi speaks of himself at this
period of his life as follows :

"The failures which would have sadly troubled other
children hardly affected me. However much I might have
desired or dreaded anything, when it was once over, and 1


had had two or three nights of good sleep after it, if it con-
cerned me alone, it was just as though it had never been.
From my childhood I have been everybody's plaything.
My education, which gave food to all the dreams of my
fancy, left me alike incapable of doing what everybody
does, and of enjoying what everybody enjoys. From the
very first, little children, my schoolfellows, sent me where
they would rather not go, and I went; in short I did all
they wanted. The day of the earthquake at Zurich, 1 when
masters and boys rushed pell-mell downstairs, and nobody
would venture back into the class-room, it was I who went
to fetch the caps and books. But, in spite of all this,
there was no intimacy between my companions and myself.
Although I worked hard, and learned some things well, I
had none of their ability for the ordinary lessons, and so I
could not take it amiss that they dubbed me Harry Oddity
of Foolborough. 2

" More than any other child, I was always running my
head against the wall for mere trifles ; but it did not trouble
me. I thought I could do many things which were quite
beyond me ; I measured the whole world by my mother's
house and my schoolroom, and the ordinary life of men was
almost as unknown to me as if I had lived in another world." 3

yf. From the time that he was nine years old, young Pesta-
lozzi was invited every summer to spend a few weeks with
his grandfather, Andrew Pestalozzi, the pastor at Hongg, a
village about three miles from Zurich.

This village is magnificently situated ; the hills on which
it lies, on the right bank of the Limmat, slope rapidly on
the south to the river, on the other side of which the ground
is lower and covered with houses. The land at Hongg ia
rich and divided into fields, vineyards, and large orchards.
The parsonage, which is close to the church, is still the
same as a hundred years ago, though parts of it have been
restored and modernized. The gardens which surround it
were formerly narrow terraces built on the side of the hill.
The dining-room, which- is in the south-east corner of the

1 The 19th of December, 1755.

5 A.S Mr. Quick lias well put it. [Tr.]

J Letter to 1th, already qu< ted.


building, and has large windows looking east and south
commanding a beautiful view of the basin of the Limmat, is
unchanged, save that a small stove, in white porcelain, has
replaced the enormous green structure that formerly stood

It was in this place that Pestalozzi, the schoolboy, passed
his happy holidays ; here that he learned to love Nature and
the work of the fields ; and here that he first conceived the
noble idea to which he was destined to devote his whole

Already at that time the peasants of this canton had begun
to combine industry with agriculture. As yet there were
neither factories nor machinery, it is time, but in every family

Online LibraryRoger de GuimpsPestalozzi: his life and work → online text (page 2 of 43)