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As soon as Pestalozzi saw that he could do nothing in Paris, he forsook the Consulta to return to his work at Burgdorf. As he entered the Castle, Buss said to him: "Well, did you see Bonaparte ?" "No," replied Pestalozzi; nor he me." 1 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 Pestalozzi's 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 Pompée 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 Lycée Napoléon, 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 Barraud, 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.
แ 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 into 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 Pestalozzi's system, and offered Naef the most favourable terms if he would go to Philadelphia and found a Pestalozzian institute." (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 mistake. 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 one object of my life, my poorschool. 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 internaĺ 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 publication 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 philanthropic 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 unitarism, 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 Pestalozzi left Burgdorf, and transferred his institute to Munchenbuchsee.
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 bustle and noise of such a large establishment, hardly ever left her room. She managed the accounts, 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 attention.
Mrs. Pestalozzi's room was next to the large refectory, where Pestalozzi and the masters took their meals with the pupils. From 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 the 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, saying: '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, straightforward, and remarkably intelligent man."1
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, Reinhardt, 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, pointing 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 brightness, and when at last he ceased, his rheumatism had disappeared.
At the time of which we are speaking, Fellenberg and Pestalozzi had been friends for twenty years; it will be remembered 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 handkerchief full of stones, was arrested by the police as a beggar and suspicious character, and taken before the judge. The
1 Notes on Pestalozzi, Ramsauer and Zahn, vol. i., p. 27. Elberfeld and Meurs, 1846.