Billeder på siden

chronic skin-disease, which almost prevented their walking; or sores on their heads, or rags full of vermin; many were almost skeletons with haggard, careworn faces and foreheads wrinkled with distrust and dread; some brazen, accustomed to begging, hypocrisy, and all sorts of deceit; others broken by misfortune, patient, but suspicious, timid, and entirely devoid of affection. There were some spoilt children amongst them who had known the sweets of comfort; these were full of pretensions. They kept to themselves, regarding with disdain the little beggars who had become their comrades; tolerating this equality; and quite unable to adapt themselves to the ways of the house, which differed too much from their old habits.

"But what was common to them all was a persistent idleness, resulting from the want of any exercise of their bodily powers and the faculties of their intelligence. Out of every ten children there was hardly one who knew his A B C; as for any other knowledge, it was, of course, out of the question. . . .


"I was alone with them from morning till night. was from my hand that they received all that could do good to their souls and bodies. All needful help, consolation and instruction they received directly from me.... We shared our food and drink. . . . I was with them when they were strong and by their side when they were ill. I slept in their midst. I was the last to go to bed and the first to get up. bed I prayed with them, and, at taught them till they fell asleep. bodies were intolerably filthy, but I looked after both myself, and was thus constantly exposed to the risk of contagion."

When we retired to their own request, Their clothes and

Although sickness broke out amongst them, "on the return of spring it was evident to everybody that the children were doing well, growing rapidly, and gaining colour. Certain magistrates and ecclesiastics, who saw them some time afterwards, stated that they had improved almost beyond recognition." But, better still: "I witnessed the growth of an inward strength in my children, which, in its general development far surpassed my expectations, and in its particular manifestations not only often surprised me, but touched me deeply. . . . My children soon became more open, more contented and more susceptible to every good and noble influence than any one could possibly have foreseen when they first came to me, so devoid were they of ideas, good feelings and moral principles. . I had incomparably less trouble to develop those children whose minds were still blank, than those who had already acquired inaccurate ideas. . . . My pupils developed rapidly; it was another race. . The children very soon felt that there existed in them forces which they did not know, and in particular they acquired a general sentiment of order and beauty. They were self-conscious, and the impression of weariness which habitually reigns in schools vanished like a shadow from my classroom. They willed, they had power, they persevered, they succeeded, and they were happy."

[ocr errors]

The kind of children with which Pestalozzi had to deal is shown in his report on them to the Directory; e.g., "Jacob Baggenstoss, fifteen, of Stanzstad: father dead, mother living: good health, small capacity; can do nothing more than spin cotton: accustomed to begging.. Gaspard Joseph Waser, eleven, of Stanzstad: father living, mother dead: healthy, and of good

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

abilities, rough detestable habits: does not know his A B C cannot spin: accustomed to begging. Mathias Odermatt, eight, of Stanz: father killed, mother living: deformed and sickly, weak and idle: knows nothing; poor..... Anna Josephine Amstad, fifteen, of Stanz: father dead, mother living: healthy, ordinary ability: can read a little: can spin: extremely poor. . . . Catherine Aieer, five, of Stanz: father killed, mother living: healthy, very good abilities: knows nothing: poor."

His success with his pupils is testified by Truttman and Businger in their reports to the Directory. The former says: "The poor-house is doing well. Father Pestalozzi works persistently night and day. There are now sixty-two children who are boarded and employed all day in the establishment, though only fifty can stay at night, owing to insufficient beds. It is amazing to see all that this excellent man does and what great progress his pupils have made in so short a time. They are now eager for instruction." Businger says: "The poor-house has started, and is going on well. Over seventy children have already been received, and every day brings more applicants for admission. Citizen Pestalozzi works unceasingly for the progress of the institution, and it is difficult to believe one's eyes and ears when one sees and hears all that his work has performed in so short a time." These reports, be it noted, were written the first on 11th February, 1799, and the second in the same week; whilst the first pupils were received into the establishment on 14th January, 1799.

Truttman's opinions are not the less valuable because he was not blind to Pestalozzi's weaknesses. On 25th March, 1799, he wrote to the minister as follows: "I

must tell you frankly that the economical administration of the establishment, the classification of the children, both for instruction and manual work; and the setting to work of the necessary superintendents and masters, can no longer be delayed without injury to this charitable institution. . . . I admire the zeal of Citizen Pestalozzi, and his untiring and devoted activity for the institution; this deserves honour and recognition; but I foresee that he will not be able to carry out his ideas, nor to give the undertaking the carefully arranged development which is necessary for its success. Indeed, without a new organisation, which shall provide for all the various requirements of the institution, it cannot succeed. This excellent man has both firmness and gentleness, but unfortunately he often uses them at the wrong time. . The establishment needs a larger staff."

This work was done in the face of great opposition on the part of the parents, and much misunderstanding by others. Pestalozzi was accused of under-feeding the children; being too severe with them; and seeking only his own advantage. Children were persuaded to run away from the school, but not "till they were free of their vermin and their rags". As a Protestant, Pestalozzi was suspected of a design to convert the children, who were practically all Roman Catholics. Writing to his friend Gessner, he says: "You will hardly believe that it was the Capuchin friars and the nuns of the convent that showed the greatest sympathy with my work. Few people, except Truttman, took any active interest in it. Those from whom I had hoped most were too deeply engrossed with their high political affairs to think of our little institution as having the least degree of importance."

[ocr errors]

Just as the French army was the cause of the opening of the institution, so, five months later, it led to its being closed. Retreating before the Austrians they were in need of a hospital, and hearing that there was a large building at Stanz they turned Pestalozzi and his children out on 8th June, 1799, and took possession of the convent. Zschokke, the Government agent, says that Pestalozzi gave to each of the children who were sent away "a change of clothes, some linen, and a little money" When the French departed, some of the children returned, and Zschokke on 28th June reported to Minister Rengger that "there still remain in the establishment twenty-two children of both sexes".

This closing of the institution was a blessing in disguise for Pestalozzi himself. He was very ill and spitting blood. He went up the Gurnigel mountain, in the Bernese Oberland, where there was a medicinal spring. Of this visit he writes: "On the Gurnigel I enjoyed days of recreation. I required them; it is a wonder that I am still alive. I shall not forget those days as long as I live they saved me, but I could not live without my work." In spite of these facts he was much blamed for giving up the school at Stanz.

How little for himself, yet how much for humanity, did he gain at Stanz. There he discovered that his ideas for the improvement of the people were not idle dreams. He says: "I had children at Stanz whose powers, not dulled by the weariness of unpsychological home and school discipline, developed very quickly. It was like another race. . . . I saw the capacity of human nature, and its peculiarities, in full play—in many ways. Its defects were those of healthy nature, totally different from the faults caused by bad and artificial teaching

« ForrigeFortsæt »