Billeder på siden



GIVEN a certain native genius of mind and character, it is true of most of the world's great men that they are as much the product of their own and previous times as they are the reformers of their own age, and the formers of some of the elements of all subsequent ages. It is, therefore, necessary to know something of the spirit of the times in which a man lived if we are to know, fully and truly, what he was and what he did. It has been well said that a proverb is the wisdom of all ages wittily expressed-world wisdom crystallised by individual In much the same way it is true to say that the wisdom and work of the world's heroes represent the wisdom and work of all men articulated and universalised by a great master-man. Not every one, however, can make proverbs, nor can every one discover and reveal foundation principles. It needs at least a flash of genius for the one and a man of genius for the other.


We can

get only as we give; and he who sees the world's secrets is he who has the large vision and the great soul. All are called but few are chosen: all come under the influences, but only the finely tempered mind and man is in "sympathetic vibration" with them. From him rings out the new note of revelation; and happy is the world if it hearkens thereto.

The master-mind is not the only star in a particular intellectual firmament, but it is at least one of the suns therein. The real founder of theories and institutions is not necessarily the first or the only one who has thought and acted in such matters, but he who gathers up and puts into clear and potent form great truths: he who universalises what has hitherto been individual and special: he who gives to all what would otherwise have been only for the few: he who completes, in the large sense, what others only began. The great man can no more exist without the help of smaller men, than smaller men can become greater without the help of the great man. How much each owes to the other it is useless to discuss and impossible to determine: we might as well ask whether the product ab is the more indebted to the factor a or b. It is sufficient to remember that neither can do without the other, nor can either do the work of the other.

In trying to set forth the relations of Pestalozzi and his work to the spirit of the age in which he lived, we shall take it as true that every great popular movement in favour of educational progress has been chiefly based on political and social grounds. It has ever been the general aim to consider how to make a man a good citizen rather than a good man; though, of course, the latter effect could never be wholly ignored, and has always been most clearly recognised by the clearest thinkers and the best intentioned workers. Nevertheless, one is inclined to say that, as a rule, educational progress has been the result of the slow growth of a conviction that it pays better to have men rather than beasts of burden as citizens. The movement towards the social and intellectual emancipation of "the lower

orders" has always received its most powerful stimulus from the efforts of the great thinkers and philanthropists of their times, and from the consequences of the intolerable sufferings and oppressions heaped upon the victims of ignorance and greed, i.e., " the lower orders "which they in fact were, thanks to the treatment they received.

It is a happy dispensation that in the nature of things the struggles in their own interests only, in the first instance-for progress of those at the top of the social scale inevitably bring, in the long run, great good to those at the bottom. The growth of political power (in modern times), and with it the increase of educational and social advantages, has been downwards from kings to the aristocracy; the aristocracy to the middle classes; middle classes to the democracy. During the life of Pestalozzi one of the greatest political and social revolutions in European history reached its climax. Professor H. Morse Stephens writing on the period 1789-1815 entitles his book Revolutionary Europe. This revolution was really the outcome of an intellectual revolution.

With the revival of learning (1453)—the Renaissance -there had come what may be called the democracy of ideas. Learning was no longer the monopoly of a class, but was open to all who had sufficient ability, leisure and means. And there was such a high and noble enthusiasm for "knowledge for its own sake" that we find the more generous souls desired that all, even the poorest, should partake of it. Erasmus (1467-1536) wished that the Scriptures should be translated into every language and given to all: "I wish that the weakest woman might read the Gospels and the Epistles

« ForrigeFortsæt »