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De Murault, 1 of Zurich, a well-informed man, of large
views and good administrative ability ; simple and kindly
with children. He had lived in Paris, and spoke French
fairly well ; and as all the singing in the institute was in
German, he won the hearts of all the French-speaking boys
by taking us for walks, and teaching us songs in our mother-
tongue. 5 * He afterwards became the head of an important
educational establishment in St. Petersburg.

Mieg, a capable man ; kind, but very firm. After Murault's
departure, Pestalozzi entrusted him for some time with the
general management of the discipline of the institute.

Von Tiirck, of a noble family in the north of Germany. He
gave up a good position in the Oldenburg magistracy to come
and study Pestalozzi's work, of which he afterwards pub-
lished an account, with the title : Letters from. Munclien-
buchsee on Pestalozzi and his Elementary Method of Educa-
tion. This man, distinguished alike for his talents, his high
aims, and his extraordinary strength of will, after having
conducted a school in Yverdun in connection with Pesta-
lozzi's institute, was appointed a Councillor of State in
Potsdam, where he zealously worked for thirty years at the
application and propagation of the masters doctrine.

Barraud, soon called away by Maine de Biran to Ber-
gerac, in Dordogne, where he founded an educational insti-
tute based on Pestalozzi's principles.

Amongst the poor children who had been received at
Burgdorf, and who afterwards became masters at Yverdun,
the three most distinguished were :

TJamsauer. of whom mention has already been made, and
whom we shall have occasion to quote again.

1 He had been teaching in a family in Paris at the time of the Con-
sulta, and having become acquainted with Pestalozzi, had expressed a
desire to work with him.

8 The author was an old Yvordun pnpil. [Tr.]


Joseph Schmidt, a shepherd-boy from the Tyrol, who had
had no early education whatever. Burgdorf had a greater
influence on his intellect than on his heart. He soon showed
a remarkable talent for mathematics, which he taught at
Yverdun with great skill and astonishing success. With a
glance like an eagle and a will of iron, he was crafty,
domineering, and utterly devoid of sensibility. He gradu-
ally obtained complete ascendancy over Pestalozzi's mind,
and was finally the cause of the departure of the other
masters, and of the ruin of the institute. It was he who
drew up the Elementai-y Lessons in Number and Form, which
are printed in volumes xiv. and xv. of the very incomplete
edition of Pestalozzi's works published by Gotta from 1820
to 1826.

Steiner, a neglected child, who received all his education
from Pestalozzi at Burgdorf. He was an under-master at
Yverdun. and was one of the pupils who did the greatest
credit to the " method.'' Much later he became a professor
of mathematics in Berlin, and published works which have
had a very considerable effect in popularizing and improv-
ing the study of that science.

Such were now Pestalozzi's chief helpers. There were
many others afterwards, but it must be remembered that we
are speaking of a time when the Yverdun institute was still
in its infancy.

To give our readers a clear idea of the life of the institute
in these early days, we cannot do better than quote the
interesting writer who has lately published, for his family
and friends, as he says, the memories of his childhood. We
refer to Professor Vulliemin, the eminent historian and con-
tiuuator of Jean de Muller. He entered Pestalozzi's institute
in 1805, at the age of eight, and remained there two years.
His account of the place is as follows :

" Imagine, my children, a very ugly man, with rough,
bristling hair, his face scarred with small-pox and covered
with freckles, a pointed, untidy beard, no neck-tie, ill-fitting
trousers, stockings down, and enormous shoes ; add to this
a breathless, sliuffling gait, eyes either large and flashing,
or half-closed as though turned within, features expressing
either a profound sadness or the most peaceful happiness,
speech now slow and musical, now thundering and hurried.


and you will have some idea of the man we called ' Father

" Such as I have described him to you, we loved him ;
yes, we all loved him, for he loved us all ; we loved him so
much that when we lost sight of him for a time we felt sad
and lonely, and when he came back to us again we could
not tuin our eyes away from him.

" We knew that at the time when the wars of the Swiss
Revolution had so largely increased the number of poor and
orphan children, he had taken a great number of them into
his house and cared for them as a father, and we felt that
he was the true friend of children, and of all who were in
trouble or misfortune.

" My fellow-citizens of Yverdun, my native town, had
generously placed at his disposal the old Castle. It was
built in the shape of a huge square, and its great rooms and
courts were admirably adapted for the games as well as the
studies of a large school. Within its walls were assembled
from a hundred and fifty to two hundred children of all
nations, who divided their time between lessons and happy
play. It often happened that a game of prisoner's base, begun
in the Castle court, would be finished on the grass near the
lake. In winter we used to make a mighty snow-fortress,
which was attacked and defended with equal heroism. Sick-
ness was hardly known among us.

" Early every morning we went in turns and had a shower
of cold water thrown over us. We were generally bare-
headed, but once, when a bitterly cold wind was blowing,
my father took pity upon me, and gave me a hat. My com-
panions had no sooner perceived it than a hue and cry was
raised : ' A hat, a hat ! ' It was soon knocked off. my head
and a hundred hands sent it flying about the playground and
corridors, till at last it went spinning through a window,
and fell into the river that flows under the walls of the
Castle. It was carried away to the lake and I never saw
it again.

" Our masters were for the most part young men, and
nearly all children of the revolutionary period, who had
grown up round Pestalozzi, their father and ours. There
were, indeed, a few educated men and scholars who had
come to share his task ; but, taken altogether, there was not
much learning I myself hrve heard Pestalozzi boast, when


an old man, of not having read anything for forty years. Nor
did onr masters, his first pupils, read much more than
Pestalozzi himself. Their teaching was addressed to the
understanding rather than the memory, and had for its aim
the harmonious cultivation of the germs implanted in us
by Providence. ' Make it your aim to develop the child,'
Pestalozzi was never tired of repeating, ' and do not merely
train him as you would train a dog, and as so many children
in our schools often are trained.'

" Our studies wei-e almost entirely based on number, form,
and language. Language was taught us by the help of
sense-impression ; we were taught to see correctly, and in
that way to form for ourselves a just idea of the relations of
things. What we had thoroughly understood we had no
trouble to express clearly.

" The first elements of geography were taught us from the
land itself. We were first taken to a narrow valley not far
from Yverdun, where the river Buron runs. After taking
a general view of the valley, we were made to examine the
details, until we had obtained an exact and complete idea
of it. We were then told to take some of the clay which
lay in beds on one side of the valley, and fill the baskets
which we had brought for the purpose. On our return to
the Castle, we took our places at the long tables, and repro-
duced in relief the valley we had just studied, each one
doing the part which had been allotted to him. In the
course of the next few days more walks and more explora-
tions, each day on higher ground and each time with a
further extension of our work. Only when our relief was
finished were we shown the map, which by this means we
did. not see till we were in a position to understand it.

" We had to discover the truths of geometry for ourselves.
After being once put in the way of it, the end to be reached
was pointed out to us, and we were left to work alone. It
was the same with arithmetic, which we did aloud, without
paper. Some of us became wonderfully quick at this, and
as charlatanism penetrates everywhere, these only were
brought before the numerous strangers that the name of
Pestalozzi daily attracted -to Yverdun. We were told over
and over again that a great work was going on in our midst,
that the eyes of the world were upon us, and we readily
believed it.


" The Pestalozzian Method, as it was somewhat ostenta-
tiously called, was, it is true, an enigma, not only to us but
to our teachers, who, like the disciples of Socrates, each
interpreted the master's doctrine in his own way. But we
were still far from the time when these divergencies resulted
in discord, and when the chief masters, after each claiming
to be the only one who had understood Pestalozzi, ended
by declaring that Pestalozzi had not understood himself.

" At the time of my first appearance among the healthy,
happy children gathered within these walls, scenes like
those in Moliere's Le Bourgeois Gcntilhomme, which were
destined ultimately to result in the ruin of the institute,
had not yet taken place. At this time, indeed, belief in
Pestalozzi still united the members of his large family. Not
that he had not already given signs of that lack of adminis-
trative ability which afterwards became so evident. He
had no sense of order, no gift for managing. In his childish
simplicity he could not be suspicious. Having no belief in
evil, he was easily deceived, and bound, sooner or later,- to
have serious disappointments ; but at the time of which I
speak, he commanded devotion and obedience from all.

" One instance will show you the kind of spirit that pre-
vailed in the early days of the institute.

" These educators, who afterwards filled the world with
their quarrels, received no payment in money. Their daily
wants were provided for, and they asked nothing more. The
money received from the pupils was kept in Pestalozzi's
room, and all the masters had access to it, so that if one of
them wanted a coat, or a pair of boots, he just took what
he needed. This state of things lasted nearly a year without
any serious inconvenience. It was almost a return to the
communism of the early Christians."

Soon after Vulliemin left the institute, its outward
splendour and reputation were still further increased, the
propagation of its method received a new and powerful im-
petus, and some of its principles began to take definite root
in the educational system of a whole nation. This was a
consequence of the battle of Jena, after which, Prussia,
smarting under her defeat and humiliation, resolved to adopt
the remedial measures that Pestalozzi had so long been


When Frederick William the Third saw his monarchy
crushed by the loss of a single battle, he boldly made up his
mind for the slow and laborious, but only sure method of
restoring it, exclaiming :

" We have lost in territory, in power, and in splendour ;
but what we have lost abroad we must endeavour to make
up for at home, and hence my chief desire is that the very
greatest attention be paid to the instruction of the people."

The king was not alone in Prussia in desiring a reform
of public education. Many of the best minds had been con-
sidering the question and making plans and suggestions for
a long time, but nothing had as yet been done.

Queen Louisa also used her influence in the matter. An
entry in her private diary runs ih\\s : " I am reading
Leonard and Gertrude, and enjoy transporting myself to
this Swiss village. If I were my own mistress, I should at
once go to Switzerland and see Pestalozzi. Would that I
could take his hand, and that he might' read my gratitude
in my eyes ! . . . With what kindness and ardour he
works for the good of his fellow-men ! Yes, in the name of
humanity, I thank him with my whole heart." Later on,
when Zeller was sent to Koenigsberg to teach according to
Pesfalozzi's method, the queen took a keen interest in the
experiment, and often visited the new school.
? During the winter of 1807-8, Fichte delivered in Berlin
I his Discourses to the German Nation. It will be remem-
bered that he had visited Pestalozzi in 1793, and that, struck
by the truth of his views, he had promised to make them
j known in Germany. In these discourses he kept his word,
' and without any hesitancy, for he was fully convinced of
the truth of what he urged, and knew that by speaking thus
he was doing a philanthropic and patriotic act. After show-
ing that education is the only means of raising a nation, he
gave an account of Pestalozzi and his work, and declared
that no reform of public instruction could be efficacious and
salutary unless based on Pestalozzi's teaching. 1

On the llth of September, 1808, Altenstein, of Koeniga-
borg, one of the king's ministers, wrote to Pestalozzi :

1 Discourses IX. and X.


" His Majesty the King, being anxious that some active
efforts should be made to improve the state of popular educa-
tion, which I am aware is the object of your constant solici-
tude, has entrusted me, as minister, with the management
of educational matters in the Prussian provinces of his states.
Being fully convinced of the great value of the method you
have invented and so successfully practised, I hope that, by
introducing it into our elementary schools, I may be enabled
to bring about a complete reform of public instruction in
our royal provinces, a reform from which I shall look for the
most valuable results on the development of the people.

"Amongst the various steps towards this end that I am
thinking of taking, one of the most important will certainly
be the sending of two young men to you to study your system
of education and methods of teaching at the. very fountain-
head. They will not confine themselves merely to the con-
sideration of a few particular points, but they will endeavour
to understand your system as a whole and in all its different
bearings. Under the direction of its venerable inventor and
his worthy colleagues, they will be prepared, not only in
mind and judgment, but also in heart, for the noble vocation
which they are to follow, and they will be filled with a sense
of the holiness of their task, and with new zeal for the work
to which you have devoted your life. To ensure the success
of the step we are taking, I am anxious to know from you
yourself under what conditions these young men will be
best able to absorb your method ; of what age and character
they should be, for instance, and how much instruction they
should already possess. This information will enable us to
send you only such persons as you would desire to receive."

This letter shows us with what serious decision and with
what scrupulous care Prussia now set out on the path which
was, in time, to restore it to its former position. And it
was not merely two pupils that were sent to Pestalozzi,
but seventeen, all of whom spent three years at Yverdun,
at the expense of their government. Most of them after-
wards became distingiiished men ; amongst others, we may
mention the well-known names of Henning, Dreist and
Kaverau. 1 Prussia was not the only country that sent

1 An idea of tbe results of the experiment may be gathered from
7. Cousin's report on public instruction in i'ru.-sia


student-teachers to Pestalozzi ; the kings of Denmark and
Holland also sent two each, and many came from other parts
of Germany. Sometimes Pestalozzi had as many as forty
about him at a time.

But, in our opinion, it was Saxony that most successfully
carried out its educational reforms. For a long time the
man in whom the control of the Saxon schools was vested
was Justiis Blochmann, a former pupil and distinguished
collaborator of Pestalozzi, and it was probably owing to his
influence that the tone of popular instruction in Saxony
became more distinctly moral and religious and more
thoroughly Christian than it did in Prussia. In the great
international competition of a few years ago, it was the
primary schools of Saxony that took the first place.

The ardour with which Germany, and especially Prussia,
adopted Pestalozzi's method, attracted the attention of many
other countries to the institute of Yverdun ; pupils poured
in from all parts of the globe, visitors became more numerous
than ever, and included not only those who took a serious
interest in education, but mere sight-seers, princes, generals,
bankers, and a host of others, who made a point of seeing
Pestalozzi, as they made a point of seeing a lake or a glacier.
Such people as these generally went away disappointed.

This great and unintelligent popularity, unparalleled in
the history of any educational establishment before that
time, had the most unfortunate consequences. Not only were
the lessons daily troubled by the numerous visitors, but
parents came from different countries and begged for- an
instruction for their children adapted to the customs and
circumstances of their homes, a demand which Pestalozzi,
anxious to lose no opportunity of spreading his doctrine,
was often unwise enough to attempt to satisfy. This was
undoubtedly one of the causes of the confusion which after-
wards invaded the system of studies at Yverdun.

But the reputation of the institute also brought visitors
of another sort to Pestalozzi men of ability, that is, who
were capable of turning what they learnt from him to good
advantage. Amongst these we must mention Charles Hitter,
who exercised so great an influence on the development of
geographical science. The account given by this eminent
man of the state of the institute of Yverdun in 1807 and
1809 is particularly valuable. It has lately been made


public by Professor Vulliemin in an article in the Evangelical
Christian, 1 from which we borrow the following passages :

" In September, 1807, a German tutor arrived at Yverdun
with two pupils and their mother. The tutor was Charles
Hitter, his pupils the young Hollwegs, of Frankfort, members
of a great banking family, whose subsequent fame has been
due in no small measure to these very boys. Ritter was not
an ordinary tourist. As it was known that he was very
eager to become acquainted with Pestalozzi arrd his method,
he was warmly welcomed at the institute, and spent a busy
week of educational investigation in the society of the head
of this large family and his chief colleagues, Niederer,
Tobler, Muralt and Krusi. Not a day passed without lec-
tures and discussions, in the course of which education was
looked at from very many different sides. It was at the
time of Pestalozzi's greatest prosperity; and although his.
sensitive heart had already detected the germs of those
dissensions which were afterwards to destroy his work at
Yverdun, he still retained many of his earlier illusions, and
it was with the most complete faith in the power of his
method that, with Niederer's help, he had just made a public
report on the state of his institution. What Ritter saw at
Yverdun filled him with admiration and respect. He felt
that he was in the presence of an exceptional nature, of a
great-souled, self-sacrificing man, who was entirely possessed
by a stimulating and original idea, and in whom child-like
simpleness and humility mingled with unbounded confidence
in the greatness of the task he had set himself to do. Trans-
ported thus into a world that was new to him, Ritter could
not but feel its elevating and ennobling influence.

" Two years later (the 1st of October, 1809) he repeated
his visit to Yverdun. ' After journeying in rain and sun,'
he writes to a friend, ' I once more came to my dear Yverdun,
where I was received like an old friend of the family.
Amongst the many joys that Providence has bestowed upon
me, and for which, on account of their great influence on
my development, I shall never cease to be thankful, I set
the highest store by those that I have tasted in the society

1 Charles Bitter, the Geographer ; biographical fragments (Evangelical
Christian, 1869, p. 21).


of my good friends Pestalozzi, Niederer, Mieg, von Turck,
Schmidt, and others, men who, in different degrees, are very
dear to me, since we are all striving for the same great end,
the raising of humanity by education.'

" Great changes had taken place in the institution ; but
though their sphere of action had considerably increased,
these energetic men still remained the same. The noble
old man, always a child in heart, was kept by his eager
enthusiasm in an almost constant state of feverish activity ;
his wife was a model of unassuming virtue, delicacy and
kind-heartedness. ' In their company,' says Hitter, ' my
hours pass like minutes. When evening comes, seated
between the father and mother of this great family, I share
with my friends a simple repast, at which dishes are passed
and glasses filled amid many a pleasant jest.

" ' The work has grown to such proportions that its founder
can no longer attend to the whole of it. There are more
than a hundred and fifty pupils, and as many as forty
student-teachers of various ages, some of whom are already
engaged in active work outside the institute, and all of whom
apply themselves diligently to the study of the ' method.' I
have not been able to ascertain the number of masters. Add
to all this a school for girls, two private establishments, and
a number of teachers who live with their pupils in the town,
but give and receive lessons in the institute, and you will
have some idea of what is going on here.

" ' Pestalozzi himself is unable to apply his own method
in any of the simplest subjects of instruction. He is quick
in grasping principles, but is helpless in matters of detail;
he possesses the faculty, however, of putting his views with
such force and clearness that he has no difficulty in getting
them carried out. He was right, indeed, when he said to
me, speaking of himself: ' I cannot say that it is I who have
created what you see before you. Niederer, Krusi and
Schmidt would laugh at me if I called myself their master ;
I am good neither at figures nor writing ; I know nothing
about grammar, mathematics, or any other science ; the
most ignorant of our pupils knows more of these things thau
I do ; I am but the initiator of the institute, and depend
on others to carry out my views.'

" ' He spoke the truth, and yet without him nothing that
is here would exist. He has no gift for guiding or govern*


ing this great undertaking, and yet it continues. He has
sacrificed everything he possessed to this end ; even now
he knows nothing of the value of money, and is as ignorant
of accounts as a child. Even his speech, which is neither
German nor French, is scarcely intelligible, and yet in every-
thing he is the soul of this vast establishment. All his
words, and more especially his religious utterances, sink
deep into the hearts of his pupils, who love and venerate
him as a father.'

" Hitter continues : ' If Pestalozzi is the inspirer, Niederer
is the philosopher of the enterprise, for it is he that develops
all Pestalozzi's ideas, and he does so in a way which would
do honour to the very greatest teachers of philosophy. To
him, however, philosophy is inseparable from religion, and
the only wisdom is in Jesus Christ. His conversation is
elevating, inspiring and comforting. Inferior as I am to
him in depth and power, he is attracted by me, because, in
spite of all I can say to the contrary, he finds in me a certain
harmony which he is conscious of lacking. His thoughts
give him no repose, and he frequently suffers from the
effects of overwork. He is, indeed, always in a state either
of intense mental activity or of complete mental exhaustion.
His wealth of ideas is most striking when he is talking of
the history of religion, of the life and teaching of Christ, of
the Gospel of St. John, or, in another connection, of the open
nature of the child, and of the intimate connection between
psychology and the study of languages. Were he inclined

Online LibraryRoger de GuimpsPestalozzi: his life and work → online text (page 25 of 43)