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EARLY YEARS AND EDUCATION.
JOHN HENRY PESTALOZZI was born at Zurich on the 12th of January, 1746. His father was a doctor, an able man, but one who had not the art, or the will, for achieving practical success in life. He died when Pestalozzi was only six years of age, and left the family in very straitened circumstances. The widow, with her two boys and a girl, was helped by members of the Pestalozzi family, and managed, thanks to this help and the cheapness of the best schooling in Zurich, to give her children a good education. In all her domestic trials and struggles she was most loyally and devotedly supported by a faithful servant named Babeli. When on his deathbed Pestalozzi's father had sent for this girl, in whom he must have had the greatest confidence and trust, and said to her: "Babeli, for the sake of God and mercy, do not leave my wife; when I am dead she will be forlorn, and my children will fall into strange and cruel hands". Babeli replied: "I will not leave your wife when you die; I will remain with her till death, if she has need of me". This promise she fulfilled to the letter.
Not only did she sternly second the mother's strict economies, but she did everything she could to nourish. in the mind of her young master that feeling of honest
independence which prevailed in those days almost with the intensity of a passion. On this point she would thus address him: "Never, never has a Pestalozzi eaten the bread of private compassion since Zurich was a city. Submit to any privation rather than dishonour your family. Look at those children (she would say as the poor orphans of Zurich passed the windows), how unfortunate would you be were it not for a tender mother, who denies herself every comfort that you may not become a pauper." She would often keep the children indoors when they wished to go out, saying to them: "Why will you needlessly wear out your shoes and clothes? See how much your mother denies herself in order to be able to give you an education; how for weeks and months she never goes out anywhere, but saves every farthing for your schooling." Their mother was, however, liberal in spending on such things as were needed to keep up their social position; the children had handsome Sunday clothes, but they had to take them off immediately they returned to the house.
The tender, affectionate and self-sacrificing mother, and the faithful and sturdy maid devoted themselves wholly to the good of the children. But this loving devotion was not without its drawbacks for Pestalozzi. As he himself says: "I was brought up by the hand of the best of mothers like a spoilt darling, such that you will not easily find a greater. From one year to another I never left the domestic hearth; in short, all the essential means and inducements to the development of manly vigour, manly experience, manly ways of thinking, and manly exercises were just as much wanting to me as, from the peculiarity and weakness of my temperament, I especially needed them."
of his biographers, Dr. Biber, remarks: "The influence which he enjoyed at home operated powerfully upon the growth of his feelings and, in the absence of an equally efficacious cultivation of his intellect, gave to his character that intense energy, uncontrolled by clearness of judgment, which, while it prepared for him many a grievous disappointment in the long course of his philanthropic career, gave also to his soul that unabated elasticity to rise, after every downfall, with renovated strength ".
He was first sent to a day-school, then to a grammarschool, where he was kept under the bondage of rigorous discipline and uninteresting tasks, and finally he passed to a college where youths received due preparation for the learned professions. It is not surprising, in view of what we are told of his home training, to find him writing of his early school-days thus: "In all boys' games I was the most clumsy and helpless among all my fellow scholars, and nevertheless, in a certain way, I always wanted to excel the others. This caused some of them very frequently to pass their jokes upon me. One of them gave me the nickname 'Harry Oddity of Foolstown'. Most of them, however, liked my goodnatured and obliging disposition, though they knew my general clumsiness and awkwardness, as well as my carelessness and thoughtlessness, in everything that did not particularly interest me.
"Accordingly, although one of the best pupils, I nevertheless committed with incomprehensible thoughtlessness faults of which not even the worst of them was ever guilty. While, I generally seized with quickness and accuracy upon the essential matter of the subjects. of instruction, I was very generally indifferent and
thoughtless as to the forms in which it was given. At the same time that I was far behind my fellow scholars in some parts of a subject, in other parts of the same subject I often surpassed them in an unusual degree. . . . The wish to be acquainted with some branches of knowledge that took hold on my heart and my imagination, even though I neglected the means of acquiring them, was nevertheless enthusiastically alive within me; and, unfortunately, the tone of public instruction in my native town at this period was in a high degree calculated to foster this visionary fancy of taking an active interest in, and believing oneself capable of the practice of things in which one had by no means had sufficient exercise, and this fancy was very prevalent among the youth of my native town generally."
Though he seldom, because of a want of inclination and physical capacity, joined in the games and pursuits of his fellows, yet he did not withdraw himself from his schoolmates in any morose or selfish spirit. He was always frank, kind-hearted and willing to be helpful, though he was the butt for boyish jokes. Indeed, on one occasion at least his courage and comradeship proved superior to that of the others. In the severe earthquake of 1755 the school-house in which he was taught was severely shaken. A panic was caused and the teachers and scholars rushed out of the school, the former "almost over the heads of their boys". After they had recovered from their first terror they wished to obtain the books, hats and other property which they had left behind; but being unwilling to venture into the building they persuaded "Harry Oddity" to undertake the task.
When he was nine years old he began to pay an
annual holiday visit to his grandfather, who was pastor of Höngg, in the canton of Zurich. These visits lasted for several months each year, and doubtless had some influence in moulding the lad's character and determining his views, for his grandfather was an excellent type of village pastor. He took the closest interest in everything that concerned the welfare of his flock, and more especially in the village school. Pestalozzi would, during his visits, see a good deal of the sufferings of the poor, and of the good which a benevolent and zealous helper could do amongst them. Of his grandfather's school he writes, in his last years: "His school, however defective it might be in point of method, was in living connection with the moral life and the home education of the people, and this combined education cultivated successfully and thoroughly the practice of habits of attention, obedience, industry and effort; in short, laid the fundamental foundations of education" (Swan's Song).
Doubtless he would see many other schools in his early years; and they must have influenced his mind very much. One writer thus describes the ordinary Swiss school of those days: "The instruction was generally given in the schoolmaster's only living room, while his family were carrying on their household avocations. In places where there were schoolrooms, they were never large enough to provide sufficient space for all the children to sit down. The rooms were low and dark, and when the door was opened the oppressive fumes of a hot and vitiated atmosphere met the visitor; closely crammed together sat the children, to the ruin of their health, breathing in the foul and heated vapours. The stoves, too, were generally overheated, and the closed