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tution was proclaimed at Berne and the new Government
was formed. As a consequence of this, the country was soon
afterwards evacuated by the French troops that had hitherto
occupied it.

This was the signal for a rising which spread from the
smaller cantons over well-nigh the whole of Switzerland.
The Swiss army had to retreat before the insurgent troops,
and the Government, that on the 2nd of September had
decided to ask for "the kind services and intervention of the
French Government," was compelled, on the 19th, to with-
draw from Berne. It had taken refuge at Lausanne, where
its only protectors were the Vaudese militia, when a pro-
clamation from the First Consul Bonaparte arrived and put an


end to the hostilities. The French Government consented
to act as mediator, and with a view to ascertaining the best
means of restoring union and tranquillity amongst all parties,
convoked at Paris a " Consulta," composed of deputies from
the Helvetian Senate, the cantons, and any communes that
wished to send them.

Pestalozzi had just published a conciliatory political
pamphlet, and was now chosen by the village of Kirch-
berg to represent it at the Consulta. He was also chosen
by canton Zurich, in company with Usteri and ex-director

The first meeting of the Consulta took place in Paris on
the 10th of December, 1802. The First Consul had appointed
a Commission to confer with the Swiss deputies, composed
of Barthelemy, the president of 'the Conservative Senate, and
formerly ambassador in Switzerland ; Fouche, of Nantes ;
and Roederer and Desmeuniers, councillors of state. There
were two opposing parties in the Consulta: one composed of
forty-five members, amongst whom was Pestalozzi, for the
most part favourable to the new ideas ; the other, a minority
of sixteen, who asked more or less explicitly for a return to
the old state of things.

Pestalozzi's almost unintelligible French and his eccentric
appearance were much against his getting a hearing in
Paris ;.nor could he confine himself to the political questions
under discussion, but tried to make the occasion an opportu-
nity for expounding his educational ideas in France. He
therefore exercised little or no influence in the Consulta,
although Roederer was at that time displaying both zeal
and talent in the matter of public instruction.

Pestalozzi was eager to obtain an audience of the First
Consul, but his request was refused, Bonaparte saying that
he had something else to do than consider questions of A
B C. He instructed Senator Monge, however, to hear what
Pestalozzi had to say.

Monge, the inventor of descriptive geometry, and the
founder of the Polytechnic school, was a man of large mind
and keen intellect. He listened patiently to Pestalozzi,
asking question after question till he was satisfied that he
had thoroughly understood him, but after carefully consider-
ing the plans the old man had proposed, he replied in half-
a-dozen words : " It is too much for us."


As soon as Pestalozzi saw that he could do nothing in
Paris, he forsook the Consul ta to return to his work at
Burgdorf. As he entered the Castle, Buss said to him :
" Well, did you see Bonaparte ? " " No," replied Pesta-
lozzi ; " nor he me.'' l These > words, though they were
spoken with a smile, may perhaps appear presumptuous.
And yet, if Pestalozzi merely expressed his sense of his own
worth by them, he was not deceived, for of these two men
there is one whose memory will be blessed by posterity in
all lands, and it is not he whom his contemporaries called
" the great." Bonaparte did France an immense wrong by
rejecting Pestalozzrs ideas, ideas so soon to be accepted by
Prussia. But Bonaparte's desire was to be master of the
people, whereas Pestalozzi's one effort was to set them free.

We may here mention an anecdote related by Pompee in
the book already quoted, and, so far as we are aware, to be
found nowhere else. We give it in his own words :

" General Ney, the French ambassador in Berne, was in
the habit of paying not infrequent visits to the Burgdorf
institute, of which he had formed a very high opinion, and
of which he gave an account to the First Consul. . . .
(p. 127.)

" If Bonaparte had been unwilling to concern himself
with Pestalozzi's questions of A B C when the latter was in
Paris as a Swiss deputy, he had at any rate readily accepted
Ney's suggestion that the new system should be introduced
into French schools. Naef, one of the Burgdorf masters,
was accordingly sent to Paris. He commenced his teaching
in an orphan asylum, where a certain number of children
were entrusted to him by the commissioners of charitable
institutions. Napoleon was anxious to see for himself the
results obtained, and visited the asylum,' accompanied by
Talleyrand, the United States ambassador, and several other
distinguished personages. He watched several lessons, and
was very satisfied with all he saw. A Commission was then
appointed to render an account of the experiment, and De
Wailly, the head of the Lycee Napoleon, expressed in his
report the opinion that the method might prove to be very
useful for children intended for the mechanical arts.

1 This was told us by Buss himself.


" After this, Maine, of Biran, the sub-prefect of Bergerac,
had brought into Dordogne a Burgdorf master named Bar-
raud, whom he had entrusted with the management of an
establishment in which he was greatly interested. Public
servant and philosopher, he used all his influence against
routine, never losing an opportunity of recommending the
application of Pestalozzi's principles and of making known
in public meetings and elsewhere what had already been done.

" ' We have just seen,' he says, on one of these occasions,
' that this school, still in its infancy, has nevertheless
adopted educational methods of a very high order, methods,
indeed, which are entirely in accordance with man's nature
and the progressive development of his faculties.' (p. 254
and following.)

" Whilst every Government in Europe was thus seeking
to introduce a new system of instruction into its elementary
schools, a private -American citizen, Mr. MacLure, endowed
his native country with such an establishment of public
instruction as would have compared favourably with any of
the best European schools. A strange chance put him in
the way of thus effecting these great improvements in the
educational system of his country. Being in Paris in 1804,
and having a great desire to see Napoleon, he applied for
assistance to the United States ambassador, who accordingly
took him with him on the occasion of the First Consul's visit
to Naef to test the results of his experiment on the orphan
children that had been entrusted to him.

" During the time that the lessons lasted, MacLure was
entirely absorbed in the contemplation of Napoleon, and saw
nothing else ; but on going out, he heard Talleyrand say,
'This is too much for the people.' Struck by these words,
he went back injo the room and ascertained from Naef the
object of the meeting. As. he was profoundly convinced of
the necessity of improving the condition of the poor, he at
once saw how much might be done in this direction by Pesta-
lozzi's S} r stem, and offered Naef the most favourable terms if
he would go to Philadelphia and found a Pestalozzian insti-
tute.' (p. 270 and following.)

We have spoken of Pestalozzi's success at Burgdorf, and of
the great reputation his institute had acquired in Switzerland
and elsewhere. He himself, however, did not share in the


general admiration, and was by no means satisfied with what
he had done. At the end of his life he declared publicly
that in founding the Burgdorf institute he had made a mis-
take. It may be thought that this opinion was not formed
till later, and was the result of his many troubles, but, as a
matter of fact, as early as 1803 he felt himself out of place
at Burgdorf, and, still faithful to the dreams of his youth,
longed to leave the institute and devote himself to founding
another poor-school. That this was his state of mind is
evident from- a letter he wrote to his friend Fellenberg, who
had asked him to visit him.
Pestalozzi replied in these words :

" A thousand thanks for your warm invitation, but I will
not and, indeed, cannot thrust my troubles upon my friends.
It is my duty, and it is within my power, to see to my own
cure. When I have done so, I shall be able to enjoy the
friendship of men ; but till I am entirely satisfied with myself
no one can soothe my troubled heart. Help me to sell my
books, so as to forward the ono object of my life, my poor-
school. There, in silence and retirement, I shall look for
such repose as is to be found behind bolts and bars. Oh,
my friend, I can hardly express to you the state of internal
discord in which I am living. The means, however, of my
deliverance increase daily. Farewell ; I am a prey to such
melancholy as I have never before experienced, but it will
pass away."

Meanwhile the act of mediation which had been signed on
the 19th of February, 1803, had re-established Federalism in
Switzerland. The unitary Government ceased to exist, and
with it vanished all Pestalozzi's hopes of future support.
But his work was by this time too well known to be thus
easily destroyed. The Governments of Aargau, Lucerne,
and Zurich showed a disposition to support the institute, the
last-named voting a sum of forty pounds towards the publi-
cation of the elementary books. The Swiss Diet, assembled
at Freiburg, instructed a Commission to examine what could
be done to help on the fulfilment of Pestalozzi's philan-
thropic views, but we have not been able to discover
whether it ever published a report.

The newly constituted Government of canton Berne, how-


ever, had resumed possession of the castle of Burgdorf and
made it once more the residence of the prefect of the district.
Although the Government had little sympathy for Pestalozzi,
whom it considered a revolutionary and a friend of unitar-
ism, it had not been able to leave his institute without a
home, and had made over to him the use of an old convent
at Munchenbuchsee, about three miles from Berne, and near
Emmanuel Fellenberg's agricultural and philanthropical
establishment at Hofwyl. It was in June, 1804, that Pesta-
lozzi left Burgdorf, and transferred his institute to Mun-

Before following him to this new centre of activity, we
must add a few details of his life at Burgdorf, where he
spent, as it seems to us, his happiest years.

After the death of his son in 1801, his wife had left
Neuhof and rejoined him at Burgdorf. She was low-spirited
and in ill-health : and, being unable to bear all the biistle
and noise of such a large establishment, hardly ever left her
room. She managed the accoiints, however, as well as a
certain portion of the correspondence, for Pestalozzi was too
preoccupied and absent-minded, too busy and too impatient,
to be trusted with any work demanding regular and close

Mrs. Pestalozzi's room was next to the large refectory,
where Pestalozzi and the masters took their meals with the
pupils. Prom this room, as well as from the balconies and
terraces of the Castle, there was a splendid view. At one's
feet lay the green valley of the Emme, with its rich and
varied cultivation, and far away in the distance were tin
snowy summits of the Oberland Alps.

At this time a part of the Castle buildings was still used
as a prison for the unfortunate criminals of the district.
In this connection Ramsauer tells a most characteristic
story :

" There was a famous criminal called Bernhard, big and
strong as a giant, who had several times escaped from
prison, and each time been brought back to the Castle and
confined in a still deeper dungeon. On these occasions
Pestalozzi would slip a piece of money into his hands, say-
ing : ' If you had received a good education, and had learned
to use your powers for good ends, you would now be a useful


member of society, and instead of being obliged to put you
in a hole and chain you up like a dog, people would honour
and respect you.' I myself, when I could obtain permission
from Pestalozzi and the gaoler, used sometimes to visit
Bernhard, and, in spite of his horrible underground cell, I
always did so with pleasure, for he was a candid, straight-
forward, and remarkably intelligent man." l

There is another anecdote of this period, which shows
with what energy Pestalozzi could overcome sickness and
suffering. One day, when he was confined to his bed by a
sharp attack of rheumatism, the French ambassador, Hem-
hard t. came to the Castle to visit the institute. In spite of
doctor and friends, Pestalozzi insisted on getting up. As he
could scarcely stand, and could only be dressed with extreme
difficulty, everybody implored him to go to bed again, point-
ing out how little fit he was to do what he wanted; but he
turned a deaf ear to all their entreaties, and, supported by
friendly arms, painfully dragged himself out of his room. As
soon as he saw the ambassador, however, he shook himself
free, and began eagerly to expound his doctrine. The more
he talked, the more he seemed to regain strength and bright-
ness, and when at last he ceased, his rheiamatism had dis-

At the time of which we are speaking, Fellenberg and
Pestalozzi had been friends for twenty years ; it will be re-
membered that portions of their correspondence have already
been quoted. Now it happened one day that some of
Fellenberg's workmen brought him a poorly dressed man,
whom they had found, they said, in the fields, half dead
with hunger and fatigue. This man turned out to be no
other than Pestalozzi, who, carried away by his passion
for minerals, had wandered such a long distance filling his
handkerchief and pockets with them, that he had lost his
way, and, at last, fallen down dead-tired beside a ditch. It
was about the same time, too, that Pestalozzi, dragging wearily
along one evening near the gates of Soleure, with his handker-
chief full of stones, was arrested by the police as a beggar
and suspicious character, and taken before the judge. The

1 Nteg on Pestalozzi, Ramsauer and Zahn, vol. i., p. 27. Elberfeld and
Meurs, 1846.


judge was out, and the old man had to wait a long time in
the ante-chamber with his custodian. Great was the latter's
astonishment when the judge, on his return, recognized
Pestalozzi, and, after greeting him warmly, invited him to

Fellenberg was a skilful agriculturist and an excellent ad-
ministrator. Though a man of noble and lofty views, he
was eminently practical, and his activity was always wisely
directed. He possessed, indeed, in a marked degree the
very qualities which Pestalozzi lacked. He had voluntarily
renounced the brilliant career that his birth and talents
would assuredly have thrown open to him, in order to
devote his fortune and ability to undertakings of public

His establishments at Hofwyl had the double object of
forming active, intelligent, and honest workmen amongst
the poor, and skilled agriculturists amongst the rich. It was
obvious, therefore, that tho two friends could be of much
assistance to each other in their respective undertakings,
and Fellenberg suggested to the old man that they should
work together, Fellenberg taking entire control of the
financial department, and Pestalozzi, freed from responsi-
bilities for which he had neither taste nor capacity, con-
trolling the combined establishments in all educational

At first Pestalozzi accepted ; but he and Fellenberg were
made rather to respect each other than to live together.
There was as much difference in their characters and ways
of thinking and feeling as in their habits and outward
appearance. Fellenberg, though at bottom kind and gener-
ous, had a stern, masterful manner. Pestalozzi, who used to
call him " the man of iron," found the partnership anything
but helpful, and could not make up his mind to remain at
M unchenbuchsee.

Several towns were anxious to receive him, amongst
others Payerne, Yverdun, and Rolle in the canton of Vaud.
Thinking that to be established in a French-speaking coun-
try would encourage the spread of his method, he chose

" He left Munchenbuchsee, then, on the 18th of October,
1804, after having taken a touching farewell of his masters


and pupils. He arrived at Yverdun without knowing what
would become of him, and so entirely destitute of resources,
that he had to share a single room with Krusi and Niederer.
He was living thus when he received a present of four
pounds from the King of Denmark, as a token of gratitude
for the hospitality that he had shown to two Danes (Torlitz
and Strohm) who had been sent by their Government to
Burgdorf to study his method.

"But however pressing his personal needs may have been,
his first thought was for his friendless children, whom
Fellenberg had been very reluctant to keep. He now sent
for them, and placed them with Buss arid Barraud, who at
that time were laying the foundations of a Pestalozzian
institute at Yverdun." (Pompee, p. 141.)

The castle of Yverdun needed thorough repair before an
institute could be opened in it. The work, however, pro-
ceeded so slowly, that Pestalozzi decided, in the meantime,
to open a temporary school in a small set of rooms looking
on the Rue du Four, in a house which to-day is No. 51, Rue
du Milieu.

Pestalozzi had left behind him at Munchenbuchsee about
seventy pupils, with Tobler, de Muralt, Schmidt, von Tiirck, 1
Steiner, and a few under-masters. Tobler, who was per-
fectly capable in every respect, had been entrusted with the
management of all educational matters, but Fellenberg,
though he was only supposed to control the finance, soon
began to exercise an undue influence in everything.

To show the effect of this influence on the institute we
cannot do better than quote the following passage from
Ramsauer :

" At Munchenbuchsee I was unhappy for the first time in
my life. I was still table-boy and under-master, but I had
nobody to comfort my heart. We missed particularly the
love and warmth which pervaded everything at Burgdorf,

1 Von Tiirck, an Oldenburg magistrate, had been sent by the Grand Duke

? to Burgdorf. He published a book called Letters fiom Mun-henhuctis-e,

which was one of the first works to give a clear account of Pestalozzi's

method, and one of those that most helped to make it known in Gpr-

Iinauy. He afterwards opened a boarding-school in Yverdun, the pupils
of which attended the day-classes in Pestalozzi's institute.


and made us all so happy. With Pestalozzi the heart was
first, with Fellenberg, the mind. . . .

" And yet Munchenbuchsee had its good points too ; there
was more order there, and we learned more than at Burg-
dorf. . . .

"In February, 1805, to my great joy, Pestalozzi sent for
me to go back to him to Yverdun, where I once more found
a father's love, and my dear masters, Krusi and Buss. A
few months later the whole institute had rejoined Pestalozzi
in Yverdun Castle."



"How Gertrude Teaches Her Children" "How to Teach
Spelling and Beading." " Book for Mothers." Elementary
Teaching on Number and form. " The Natural School-

PESTALOZZI had no sooner opened Iris institute at Burgdorf
than he was anxious to give the public some more complete
account than they had yet had of his life work and of the
views which he was endeavouring to put into practice. He
accordingly published the book entitled: How Gertrude
Teaclies Her Children; an Attempt to Show Mothers how
they can Teach their Children Themselves.

Morf, whose estimate of Pestalozzi's work at Stanz we
have already quoted, speaks of this book as follows :

" This book is the most important and the most carefully
thought out of all Pestalozzi's pedagogical writings. Not
only was its importance great at the time at which it
appeared, but it will remain great for ever. The true char-
acteristics of his genius stand out free as yet from all foreign
influence. His own thoughts, expressed in his own words,
give us the most faithful picture of this noble heart. We
are filled with admiration at the fulness of his intuitions
I might almost say of the revelations of which Providence
had made him the instrument. From the beginning to the
end of this work our attention and interest never flag.
Here and there we may object to certain of his methods,
but never to his principles and conclusions. And even
though experience has enabled us to improve on certain
points, we are bound to admit with gratitude that this
improvement has only been reached by following the
lines originally laid down by Pestalozzi. This book is
to-day and will ever remain the foundation stone of all


instruction for the people, but its hidden treasures are still
far from having been all put into practice, and we cannot
too earnestly urge all those who are engaged or interested
in education to make a serious study of it."

We must, however, add that this book is by no means
free from the defects of most of Pestalozzi's writings. The
author is too easily carried away by his heart and imagina-
tion ; the wealth and abundance of his ideas interfere with the
order of the general plan and the proportion of the various
parts. The digressions and repetitions are innumerable,
though it is fair to say that when the same ideas reappear,
it is always in a new light.

A simple analysis of the work would give but a very
imperfect idea of it ; we prefer to run rapidly through it
with our readers, calling attention to the most essential
principles, and translating the most characteristic passages.

The book consists of fifteen letters addressed to Gessner.
The first, which briefly reviews the author's life and work,
and his efforts towards raising the people, begins thus :

" My dear Gessner, you say that it is time I made some
public statement of my ideas about the education of the
people. I shall be only too glad to do so, and will en-
deavour in a series of letters to set forth my views as
clearly as possible.

" Seeing popular education lying before me like an im-
measurable swamp, I plunged into its slime, and, by ex-
erting all my strength, waded toilsomely through, till I
at last discovered the sources of its waters, the reason of
their stagnation, and the means of reclaiming the ground.

" I will now take you with me for a moment into this
labyrinth, from which, by good fortune rather than by good
judgment, I have at last found a way out."

After giving a description of the intellectual poverty
in which the schools of his time left the people, and the
history of his various unsuccessful attempts to remedy it,
Pestalozzi proceeds to sum up the aim of his work as
follows :

" Ah, how happy I shall be in my grave if in what I am
doing for popular education I can succeed in uniting Nature


and Art, now so widely separated ! That they should be
separated at all is sad enough, but that the wickedness of
men should have so opposed them to each other as to render
them utterly incompatible, fills me with indignation."

The second and third letters relate Pestalozzi's meeting
with Krusi, Tobler, and Buss, and the valuable assistance
that these men had rendered to him and his work.

The fourth, fifth, and sixth set forth the general prin-
ciples of his method.

In the fourth he endeavours to formulate the laws of

In the fifth he begins by declaring that these laws do not
satisfy him because he cannot find any general principle
to express their essential character. He then goes on to
search for the natural sources of human knowledge.-

In the sixth letter Pestalozzi says that in spite of the
trouble he is taking to explain his views, he is doing it
very imperfectly, because for twenty years he has lost the
power of philosophizing ; that is, of expressing his ideas in
a philosophical manner. He points out that for many"
centuries, reading, writing, and arithmetic have been
regarded as the elements of instruction, but that they are
not really the elements. His investigations have shown

Online LibraryRoger de GuimpsPestalozzi: his life and work → online text (page 22 of 43)