Billeder på siden

reported on. His report, which was in French, was entirely favourable to Pestalozzi, and runs as follows:

"The memorial of citizen Businger begins by insinuating that citizen Pestalozzi was not fitted to be the director of this institution.

"I regret to say that, in consequence of prejudices, of which I cannot now examine either the source or the nature this excellent and well-known old man has reason to be greatly dissatisfied with the treatment he has received at the hands of citizens Zschokke and Businger. By their exaggerated complaints they have paralyzed an establishment which promised to be very useful to the country.

"They accuse Pestalozzi of being wasteful, dirty, and brutal, and of having lost the affections of his pupils."

Stapfer then examines these different charges in detail, and refutes them one after the other by citing certain wellknown facts. After referring again to Pestalozzi's views, and to the good that might be effected by their realization, he concludes as follows:

"In my opinion, it is important that citizen Pestalozzi should be restored to the post which the misfortunes of the war have compelled him to give up."

Meanwhile, rest and the waters of the Gurnigel had restored the old man's health, and he was now eager to return to Stanz to continue his interrupted work.

"I could not," he said, "live without my work; I was like a man who rests for a few moments on a rock in the sea, impatient all the time to go on swimming."

In spite of his burning desire, in spite of all Stapfer's efforts, the Directory did not send Pestalozzi back to Stanz, but allowed the orphanage to be closed.

In our opinion, this action of the Directory was most fortunate both for Pestalozzi and for education.

The noble old man had undertaken a task which was beyond his strength. It had already nearly brought him to death's door, and he certainly would not have been able to carry it on much longer. He encountered, besides, the most

violent opposition. Most of the inhabitants of Unterwalden saw in him nothing but an agent of revolutionaries and heretics. They easily believed all the calumnies of which he was the object, and instead of looking on his presence as a blessing, endured it as an unjust punishment fraught with danger to their country. Under these circumstances, he could do them but little good; for it is almost impossible to help people against their will.

A priest named Gut, living in Stanz, has since re-echoed his countrymen's grievances against Pestalozzi in a book entitled, The Surprise-attack on Lower Unterwalden: its Causes and its Consequences. At page 579, he says that the choice of Pestalozzi was a mischievous action on the part of the Directory; that he kept the best of everything for himself and his servant, and fed the children badly; that he dressed them like convicts; that their eyes lacked lustre, and their cheeks colour; that they were chiefly taught to imitate the cries of animals; that he took away the furniture from Stanz for his institute at Burgdorf,


But as Mr. Gut was only a child of five when Pestalozzi left Stanz, his accusations are evidently nothing more than the repetition of what was said around him, and are scarcely worth refuting.

As we thought it would be interesting, however, to ascertain with what feelings Pestalozzi was still remembered in the district for which he well-nigh sacrificed his life, we made inquiries at Stanz at a time when several old men, who remembered the poor-school, were still living. But all they told us was mere hearsay; none of them could give us any positive facts.

They had heard, for instance, that the Directory had sent Pestalozzi to Lower Unterwalden to destroy the very_religion for which its inhabitants had fought; that the priest Businger had been much blamed for helping to found the orphanage; that Pestalozzi's manners and appearance were a sufficient proof that he was incapable; and further, that he was mortally afraid of the Austrians, and at the news of their approach had fled hastily in the night.

We also had an interview with Mr. Gut himself, whose opinions seemed to us to have undergone considerable modification since the publication of his book, for he did not repeat

any of the charges mentioned above, and only spoke of Pestalozzi in becoming terms. Two grievances, however, he still thought well founded. The first was that the teaching of the Catholic religion was too much neglected in the school. Yet he could quote nothing in any of Pestalozzi's utterances opposed to it, and could only say that he was reported to have once said to the children, "Crucifixes will not give you bread; you must learn to work." The second grievance was that he sometimes corrected the children by striking them with a rope.

To sum up, it seems to us that it was a mistake to send Pestalozzi to Stanz, as he could not avoid hurting the religious feelings of the people he was expected to help. The opposition he excited was not only quite natural, but, from the point of view of the people themselves, was even legitimate and meritorious, and ought to have been foreseen. It may be said that for five months he did but struggle against the difficulties of an untenable position, and it is lucky that, when he recovered from the illness which so nearly proved fatal, he was not allowed to continue his heroic efforts.

The folly of unitarism did much harm to Switzerland, and yet, since God is able to bring good out of evil, it gave rise to an era of true progress. In the same way the folly of Stanz resulted in the primary school of the nineteenth century, an institution which has already brought no small increase of strength and prosperity to those nations that have adopted it.

Pestalozzi's experiences at Stanz, their value for his observant mind, the principles his genius deduced from them for a natural and logical method of elementary education, the whole picture, in short, of the birth of a great, fruitful, and salutary reform, is to be found in the letter written from the Gurnigel, and addressed by Pestalozzi to his friend Gessner, the bookseller, the son of the author of the Idylls. This letter, in which he gives an account of his work at Stanz, was printed for the first time in 1807, in the Weekly Journal for the Education of Humanity, and then in the edition of Pestalozzi's works published by Cotta (vol. ix.). It was afterwards reprinted in the complete edition by Seyffarth. Parts of it have often been quoted by different biographers, who have copied them from each other. Its great importance compels us to give it here in its entirety.

[ocr errors]

Letter from Pestalozzi to a friend on his work at Stanz. "My friend, once more I awake from a dream; once more I see my work destroyed, and my failing strength wasted. But, however weak and unfortunate my attempt may have been, a friend of humanity will not grudge a few moments to consider the reasons which convince me that some day a more fortunate posterity will certainly take up the thread of my hopes at the place where it is now broken.

"From its very beginning I looked on the Revolution as a simple consequence of the corruption of human nature, and on the evils which it produced as a necessary means of bringing men back to a sense of the conditions which are essential to their happiness.

"Although I was by no means prepared to accept all the political forms that a body of such men as the revolutionists might make for themselves, I was inclined to look upon certain points of their Constitution not only as useful measures protecting important interests, but as suggesting the principles upon which all true progress of humanity must be based.

"I once more made known, therefore, as well as I could, my old wishes for the education of the people. In particular, I laid my whole scheme before Legrand (then one of the directors), who not only took a warm interest in it, but agreed with me that the Republic stood in urgent need of a reform of public education. He also agreed with me that much might be done for the regeneration of the people by giving a certain number of the poorest children an education which should be complete, but which, far from lifting them out of their proper sphere, would but attach them the more strongly to it.

"I limited my desires to this one point, Legrand helping me in every possible way. He even thought my views so important that he once said to me: 'I shall not willingly give up my present post till you have begun your work.'

"As I have explained my plan for the public education of the poor in the third and fourth parts of Leonard and Gertrude, I need not repeat it here. I submitted it to the director Stapfer, with all the enthusiasm of a man who felt that his hopes were about to be realized, and he encouraged me with an earnestness which showed how thoroughly he understood the needs of popular education. It was the same with the minister Rengger.

"It was my intention to try to find near Zurich or in Aargau a place where I should be able to join industry and agriculture to the other means of instruction, and so give my establishment all the development necessary to its complete success. But the Unterwalden disaster (September, 1798) left me no further choice in the matter. The Government felt the urgent need of sending help to this unfortunate district, and begged me for this once to make an attempt to put my plans into execution in a place where almost everything that could have made it a success was wanting.

"I went there gladly. I felt that the innocence of the people would make up for what was wanting, and that their distress would, at any rate, make them grateful.

"My eagerness to realize at last the great dream of my life would have led me to work on the very highest peaks of the Alps, and, so to speak, without fire or water.

"For a house, the Government made over to me the new part of the Ursuline convent at Stanz, but when I arrived it was still uncompleted, and not in any way fitted to receive a large number of children. Before anything else could be done, then, the house itself had to be got ready. The Government gave the necessary orders, and Rengger pushed on the work with much zeal and useful activity. I was never indeed allowed to want for money.

"In spite, however, of the admirable support I received, all this preparation took time, and time was precisely what we could least afford, since it was of the highest importance that a number of children, whom the war had left homeless and destitute, should be received at once.

"I was still without everything but money when the children arrived; neither kitchen, rooms, nor beds were ready to receive them. At first this was a source of inconceivable confusion. For the first few weeks I was shut up in a very small room; the weather was bad, and the alterations, which made a great dust and filled the corridors with rubbish, rendered the air very unhealthy.

"The want of beds compelled me at first to send some of the poor children home at night; these children generally came back the next day covered with vermin. Most of them on their arrival were very degenerated specimens of humanity. Many of them had a sort of chronic skin-disease, which almost prevented their walking, or sores on their heads, or rags full

« ForrigeFortsæt »