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Pestalozzi: his life and work online

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is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh
not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil ; re-
joiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoice th with the truth;
beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things,
endureth all things. Friends and brothers, do good to those
who hate you ; bless those who curse you ; heap coals of fire
on the head of your enemies. Let not the sun go down upon
your wrath. "When "you bring an offering to the altar, first
be reconciled with your brother and then bring your offering.
Let there be no hardness among you, even towards those who
do us wrong. Let all human hardness disappear before the
holiness of our Christian faith. Let none of you excuse hard-
ness towards those who have done wrong. Let no one say
that Jesus did not love the unjust and the wrongdoers. He
loved them with a Divine love ; it was for them that He died.
It was not the just, but sinners that He called to repentance.
He did not find the sinner humble and faithful, but made him
BO by His own faith and humility. It was, indeed, by His
Divine service in His most lowly position that He overcame
the pride of the sinner, and inspired him with the Divine faith
and love with which His own soul overflowed. Friends and
brothers, if we do likewise, and love 'each other as Christ
loved us, we shall then be able to surmount every obstacle
that separates us from the aim of our life, and found the
happiness of our house on the eternal rock on which Grod
Himself founded the happiness of humanity in Jesus Christ."

This discourse is interesting and instructive in many
ways; full of Pestalozzi himself, it yet bears traces here and
there of Schmidt's influence. We should like to have given
it in full, but in its first edition, it filled no less than a hun-
dred and thirteen pages. In Cotta's edition, however, there
were many long and important omissions, omissions which
can only be attributed to Schmidt. It no longer contains, for
instance, the urgent appeal to Niederer and Krusi, which,
as we shall see, remained without effect. As a general rale,


Pestalozzi's real thoughts must be looked for in the first
edition of his works, which, unfortunately, is no longer to
be found. Seyffarth'a edition, however, gives the original
text, together with most of the subsequent alterations.

Fellenberg relates, in his book already referred to, that
on the 12th of January, 1818, immediately after the old
man had finished his discourse, Schmidt announced that,
though he did not approve of Pestalozzi's gift, he was
anxious to associate himself unreservedly with his founda-
tion, and would therefore make over to him his whole fortune,
consisting of about two hundred and forty pounds. Fellen-
berg asserts that Schmidt did not really mean this ; that it
was, moreover, merely for the purpose of increasing the
subscriptions that he had induced Pestalozzi to announce
his plans for a new foundation ; and that two years later,
when Gottlieb became his brother-in-law, it was also he who
compelled the old man to declare that he was not in a
position to carry out the engagements into which he had
entered ; but as it is known that Fellenberg greatly disliked
Schmidt, and judged him very harshly, such a statement
must be received with the extremest caution.

The poor-school, however, remained Pestalozzi's favourite
project ; he was always coming back to the idea, and forgot,
in this dream of his youth, the far greater plans which he
had only lately conceived. He was very anxious to at last
take some practical steps in this direction; but Schmidt, who
felt that there was enough to be done already, offered a
strenuous opposition. The old man insisted, and, in spite of
Schmidt's obstinate resistance, returned incessantly to the
attack. An absurd episode of the struggle has been related
by an entirely reliable eye-witness a lady who, in, 1818,
was living, a child of thirteen, in the Castle at Yverdun, and
who in 1874 was still alive in Burgdorf. She tells how
Pestalozzi one day earnestly begged Schmidt to allow him
to found his poor-school; how the latter, refusing to listen,
turned his back and ran away, and how the old man pursued
him for some time, and at last, angry at being unable to
catch him, threw his shoes at him.

And yet this time it was Pestalozzi who got the upper
hand ; for in this same year, 1818, the poor-school was
opened at Clendy, a hamlet just outside Yverdun, in the
house afterwards occupied by Daulte's boarding-school. It


began with twelve poor children, of both sexes, most of them
orphans, or forsaken by their parents. In spite of his
seventy-two years, the old man devoted himself to them
with the same activity, the same zeal, the same love as in
his youth, and, what seems hardly credible, with the same
wonderful success as had crowned his first efforts at Neuhof,
Stanz, and Burgdorf. Such is the power that an education
which conforms to the laws of human nature has over the
heart, that this man, absent-minded, awkward and incapable
in practical life, and entirely without external advantages,
was able, as though by enchantment, not only to gain the
attention and affection of the children by whom he was
surrounded, but to make them eager to learn.

In a few months the number of the children at Clendy
had risen to thirty, and marvellous progress had been made.
To give some idea of the school, we will translate the
account given by Professor Heussler, one of Pestalozzi's best
biographers :

" Children of five a^id six years old joyfully spent hours
together at exercises in number and form, and even still
younger children learned something from merely being
present at the lessons. Some were so zealous that they
needed restraining rather than encouraging. The best
scholars were soon set to teach others, which they did well
and gladly. Winter and summer, day and night, they
would run off to Grandson, a village in the neighbourhood
of Yverdun, to give lessons to people older than them-
selves, often sitting up a part of the night. At Yverdun
their teaching was preferred to that of some of the masters.
'They know,' it was said, 'how to give instruction to the
children without letting them feel that they are expected
to learn anything, and often they seem to be drawing the
knowledge from the very children they are teaching.' "

This fresh success excited fresh admiration, and people
came from all sides to see the new school at Clendy. The
English were especially enthusiastic, as the Germans and
French had been previously. They even encouraged the old
man to think that England might be won over to his system
of education, and asked him to receive at Clendy a certain
number of rich children, who would pay for their instruction,


and afterwards carry his method across the Channel. Pesta-
lozzi was weak enough to consent, and the character of his
institution soon changed. The teaching became less ele-
mentary and more scientific, English was studied, and at
the same time the internal arrangements lost something of
their original simplicity.

It was then that Schmidt, who had only reluctantly con-
sented to the foundation of a poor-school, cleverly took
advantage of this change in its character to prevent its
continuation. In view of the success that the scholars had
obtained in teaching, he advised Pestalozzi to turn it into a
training school, and transfer it to the Castle, where all the
necessary means of instruction were ready to hand. In a
pamphlet published in 1820, entitled, A Word on the State
of my Pedagogical Labours and the Organization of my
Institute, Pestalozzi himself admits that this advice was
given him by Schmidt.

But the idea of uniting the two establishments in the
Castle already existed in the spring of 1819, as is clear from
a printed leaflet, which was freely circulated in Yverdun
and the neighbourhood. This leaflet was written in French,
signed by Pestalozzi, and dated the 26th of May, 1819 ; it
ran as follows :

"For the fifteen years that I have been settled in this
town, my educational establishment has been freely open to
everybody from morning till night, not indeed without
certain inconvenient results, which were, however, not
entirely insupportable, and to which I have submitted in
consideration of the circumstances. But these circumstances
having now in part changed, this easy access can no longer
continue, at any rate to the same extent. And so, although
it is part of my plan to act openly, and although I desire
nothing better than to make my efforts and experiments
known to all who are interested in education, I cannot help
begging those who may wish to see my institute at Clendy,
to leave word first at the office of the Castle, so that a con-
venient hour may be fixed for their visit.

' As the children of the new establishment form rather
a family than a school, and take part in the domestic work
of the house, they are no more prepared to receive visits
from strangers at any moment than any other family. As,


too, it is my duty to fit these children for their ultimate
duties as quickly as possible, I am obliged to observe the
strictest economy in the employment of their time. The
results of their education will, please God, soon be visible
in the institute of the Castle, and I shall be in a position,
not only to carry out on a much larger scale what is being
done at Clendy by the children themselves, but also to open
a course of lessons in those parts of the method already
perfected, for persons not attached to the institute of the
Castle, lessons to which the most advanced children of the
institute of Clendy will be admitted, and in some of which
they will be employed. There will shortly be lessons in
the English language, for instance, given at the Castle by
Englishmen, and not only to men,but to women, if there
are any who desire it. Some Englishmen are coming next
summer to study certain branches of the method, and I will
willingly grant permission to other persons to attend the
lessons they will give. The public may rest satisfied that
I shall in no wise slacken in my efforts for the improvement
of education ; but though I am perfectly ready to put myself
at the service of all who take a real interest in my work,
nobody can be offended if I ask that my two institutes may
be spared such visits as have no other motive but curiosity,
and only uselessly waste my time and that of the children
entrusted to my care." x

It is a very great pity that Pestalozzi should have put his
name to this document, which aimed, it is true, at doing
what was really necessary and ought to have been done long
before, but which at the same time degenerates into a sort
of advertisement in which we no longer recognize the noble-
hearted educational reformer.

In July of that same year, the institute of Clendy was
united with that of Yverdun in the Castle, the young girls
being installed in the second storey of the north wing, in
the rooms formerly occupied by Pestalozzi and his wife. At
the same time various repairs were carried out in the Castle,
several new rooms being built in the towers, and fire-places
supplied to those rooms that were without them.

On the 23rd of July, 1819, the Yverdun municipality,
having to communicate with Pestalozzi concerning the
repairs, took advantage of the occasion to let him know


that they regretted this fusion of the two schools, and that
public opinion did not at all approve of young people of
different sexes being brought together in the same building.

The Clendy poor-school had only lasted a year, but it had
brought the old man one more taste of joy. In these last
days, days embittered by disappointment and failure, it had
shone for a moment brightly and serenely, as though in
answer to the desire he had expressed at Bullet for a rain-
bow to shine upon his tomb.

This last success, short-lived as it was, was not without
important results for humanity. The little children, who
were assembled at Clendy, amused, occupied and instructed
by the rational, gentle and paternal discipline of Pestalozzi,
furnished the model of one of the most valuable educational
institutions of our century. Speaking of this in his Remi-
niscences, Professor Vulliemin says :

" The effect of Pestalozzi's action has already lasted longer
than his institute, and longer than he himself, nor will it
cease for a long time to come; for though the flower and fruit
have disappeared, the seed has been scattered over the globe.
There is no new book on education in which Pestalozzi's
name does not occupy a place of honour. Think, too, of the
mothers taught by him to give increased care and attention
to their children's early years, and of the schools that are
the better for his influence. As for the infant schools, which
nowadays exist everywhere, it was he who originated thenv
in a manner which I myself saw, and will now describe.

" The Yverdun institute was drawing near its end, when
Pestalozzi, at the age of seventy-two, conceived the idea of
returning to his earliest interests, and founding outside the
institute a school for poor children. You know the hamlet
of Clendy, on the shore of the lake to the east of Yverdun.
It was there that I saw him resume his first efforts, with the
same devotion, the same youthful enthusiasm, and with even
a purer faith ; there that I saw him obtain the same suc-
cesses, and split on the same rocks. Clendy fell, as, before
very long, the great institute itself was to fall. But there
was a man there who had taken part in the short-lived
enterprise, a man of Christian spirit and enlightened under-
standing. This man, who was an Englishman, by name
Greaves, carried the ideas he had gathered at Clendy back


to England, where they took root, and became the origin of
infant schools. From England these schools returned to us,
first to Geneva, then to Nyon, then everywhere. We had
not understood Pestalozzi; but when his methods came back
from England, though they had lost something of their
original spirit, their meaning and application were clear."

The year 1820 was another time of illusions and dreams
for Pestalozzi. He had brought together in the Castle rich
and poor, boys and girls, an elementary class for little chil-
dren, a school and a training college. The poorer children,
who were admitted out of charity and paid little or nothing,
lived more simply than the rich, and during the hours of
recreation, when the others were enjoying themselves, took
part in the domestic work. As a general rule, it was out
of these poorer children that the future schoolmasters and
schoolmistresses were to be made.

Schmidt had probably only consented to this amalgamation
from motives of economy, but to Pestalozzi it meant a new
and important condition of success for his work. In order
to get others to share his opinion in this matter, he pub-
lished the pamphlet already referred to, entitled, A Word on
the State of my Pedagogical Labours, etc., which begins thus :

" In acquainting the public to-day with the new organiza-
tion of my establishment, I find myself compelled, on the one
hand, to say a few words as to my previous efforts in the
cause of education, and on the other, to give a few general
explanations as to what I feel able and bound to do for the
purpose of consolidating my work, and assuring its con-
tinuation after my death."

After reminding his readers that the aim of his earlier
labours was to comfort and raise the people by education,
and after admitting that he lacked the necessary strength
and capacity when he founded his institute of Burgdorf, he
speaks of the dissension with which his own weakness has
surrounded him as being the chief cause of the defects
which have ruined his work. But to-day these troubles
have disappeared, and all his collaborators are harmoniously
walking in the path that leads straight to his end. Nor ia
the progress of the institute any longer hampered by the


financial difficulties from which it has long suffered. But
as, notwithstanding all this, the public is not yet able to
appreciate the bearing of his labours, he concludes that
their prejudices will have to be eradicated, not by words,
but by action and by time. He then continues :

" The resolution of my grandson to continue my work, to
dedicate his whole life to it, and to unite himself to my
friend Schmidt by the closest ties, 1 gives our undertaking,
even from a financial point of view, as much solidity as we
could desire.

" But what is still more important than financial sound-
ness, and all other external means for forwarding our work,
is that, by my new institution for forming masters and
mistresses, I have succeeded in laying a sure foundation for
the realization of the most important parts of my earlier
undertakings, a statement which no one will doubt after
seeing the results of the union of my two institutes, which
has now lasted for more than eighteen months.

" The facts will show that the children of the two insti-
tutes joyfully work together, full of kindness, help and
mutual attentions, each of them advancing according to
his diligence and talents without either jealousy or humilia-
tion. Yes, I venture to say, with, the most profound con-
viction, that when rich and poor children live together in
the same institution, under different regulations and condi-
tions, they may often find in this very circumstance a most
valuable means of moral development."

Pestalozzi then explains at length the advantages of his
new organization. In the first place, his institute being
more like a family than a school, the children enjoy all the
advantages of home life, and become imbued with a sense
of what is owing to parents and brothers and sisters ; both
boys and girls, too, learn something of the gentleness,
modesty, and respect which should, in ordinary life, charac-
terize the relations between the sexes. In the second place,
he speaks of the social advantages of his institute, and the
wholesome influence they are likely to exercise in the future.
Children of both rich and poor mix freely together, the

1 Soon after this Gottlieb married Schmidt's sister.


difference in tastes and habits, however, and in the positions
they will some day be called upon to occupy being strictly
kept in view ; they receive the same education and the
same elementary instruction, and profit equally from all
the resources of the institute. In this way they learn to
know and respect one another, and on going out into the
world do much to weaken the prejudices which foster such
dangerous antagonism between the different classes of

Pestalozzi recognizes with regret that his magnificent
ideal of social regeneration has not yet baen realized in his
own establishment, but the experience of the last year and
a half leaves no doubt in his mind as to its possibility. He
also recognizes his own incapacity, but counts on Schmidt,
who already bears the whole burden, to continue and com-
plete his work. After once more speaking in terms of tha
highest praise of this valiant collaborator, whose full value
he alone appreciates, he concludes by giving the conditions
of admission, terms, etc., for the different classes of pupils.

But neither Pestalozzi's experiment, nor the pamphlet
which gave such a favourable account of it, succeeded in
convincing the public. The well-to-do parents, little inclined
to believe in the value of such a mixed institution, removed
their children without delay, and Pestalozzi once more found
himself in a position of grave financial embarrassment.

The year 1821 was filled with Pestalozzi's, or rather
Schmidt's disputes with the Yverdun Municipality ; for, in
spite of the great falling off in the number of the pupils,
and in spite of the fact that most of those who remained
were poor children, Pestalozzi actually allowed himself to
l)e persuaded that the rooms were not comfortable enough,
*,nd required considerable alteration. Accordingly, on the
12th of January, he. wrote to the Municipality reproaching
them with causing the decline of the institution by their
neglect of the buildings, asking for repairs to the amount
of nearly two hundred pounds, and threatening legal pro-
ceedings if they did not carry out their engagements.

On the 2nd of February the Municipality, which till now
had always readily acceded to Pestalozzi's requests, replied
that these recriminations and threats^ were in striking con-
trast with the friendliness of their previous relations, and
that it could only attribute the tone of Pestalozzi's letter


to the secretary he had been pleased to employ. It ex-
pressed surprise that additional accommodation should be
required when the number of pxipils had so much diminished,
and pointed out that the nature of the institute had been
changed, on the one hand by the addition of the poor-school,
and on the other by the attempt to adapt the internal
arrangements to the luxurious habits and tastes of the many
English who had come there, and who were dissatisfied with
the simplicity of the life, a simplicity, however, which hud
formerly been accompanied by so much prosperity. In con-
clusion, the Municipality promised that a Commission should
be appointed to confer with Pestalozzi, and see if some
understanding could be arrived at.

On the 13th of February, Pestalozzi, in another letter,
asks that the free use of the Castle to be granted after his
death to persons named by him, shall be not for five years
only but for twenty.

On the 24th, the Municipality suggests that the expense
of the repairs shall be borne partly by Pestalozzi and partly
by the town, and consents on these conditions to grant the
free use of the Castle for at least fifteen years from 1821.
In a further letter, on the 3rd of March, Pestalozzi refuses
to bear any part of the expense of the repairs. The Munici-
pality accordingly retracts its offer, and awaits the threat-
ened proceedings.

Before very long these proceedings were really commenced,
but only after the Municipality had made another fruitless
effort to come to an amicable arrangement. On the 17th of
August, and while the case was proceeding, a still further
effort was made, the Municipality offering to pay Pestalozzi
a hundred pounds on the condition that he would not ask
for any more money for five years, and that after that time
the expense of repairs should be divided equally between
himself and the town, the town's share never to exceed
fifteen pounds a year.

But this new proposal was also rejected, and the case
went on till the 15th of November, when Pestalozzi with-
drew. Even then, out of consideration for him, the munici-
pality undertook to pay the costs, which amounted to nearly
twenty pounds.

While Schmidt was thus compromising Pestalozzi's name
by these miserable disputes, the old man, paying little


attention to administrative details, never ceased to work at
the application of his principles to elementary instruction
and the raising of the people.

On the 12th of January, 1822, his seventy-sixth birthday,
he presented a child with a copy of Leonard and Gertrude,
the gift being accompanied by the following letter:

" My dear Child !

" If I were not so near the grave, if I could hope to see
with my own eyes your early development, I would not, in
memory of my experiences and views, offer you this poor
gift, but would joyfully devote all my remaining powers to
awakening and developing yours.

" But my time is past, and so I can only give you this
dead book, Leonard and Gertrude, to remind you of my
life. May it, by its impression on you, lead you to the same
wisdom, the same strength, and the same holiness in things
human as in things Divine !

" My child, the world is full of evil ; beware of its cunning
devices, its enchantments and its gold ; beware, above all,
of your own weakness. Learn to know yourself. Examine
and consider well what great powers God has given you,
what goodness and holiness He has put in your heart ; for
it is here that you will find your first help against your
flesh and against the world with its corruption. Pray God
that none of His precious gifts be lost through your own
fault. Bury none of your talents, like the worthless steward

Online LibraryRoger de GuimpsPestalozzi: his life and work → online text (page 33 of 43)