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the starting-point of the movement which has given Germany her admirable modern literature.
Soon after Klopstock had published his Messiah, he came to Zurich to stay with Bodiner, who had been one of the first to appreciate the value of his work. He was soon followed by Wieland and Kleist, so that gradually the little Swiss town became quite a centre of literary activity. Kleist wrote to Gleim :
“Zurich is really one of the finest places in the world, not only on account of its magnificent position, but on account of the men to be found there. Whereas in great Berlin there are not more than three or four men of taste and genius, in little Zurich there are twenty or thirty.”
So great was the influence of these professors on their pupils, that the latter came to despise wealth, luxury, and material comfort, and cared for nothing but the pleasures of the mind and soul, and the unceasing pursuit of justice and truth. For a long time Pestalozzi and his friends slept on the bare ground, with no other covering but their clothes, and ate nothing but bread and vegetables.
Such was the spirit which reigned in the University of Zurich about 1760, seven or eight years after Klopstock's visit to his friend Bodmer. It was at this time that young Pestalozzi arrived there. His previous studies in a humble school had not prepared him in any way for the University, but this lofty teaching suited his character, and, acting powerfully on his impressionable nature, furnished his faculties with the stimulus and food they lacked. As a schoolboy, he had not shown much power, but now he rapidly became a distinguished scholar. He was still little more than a boy, when the University honoured him by printing a translation he had made of a speech of Demosthenes.
He afterwards referred to his academical studies in these words:
"The spirit of the public teaching in my native town, though eminently scientific, was calculated to make us lose sight of the realities of life, and lead us into the land of dreams. All the best of us, Lavater not excepted, were mere dreamers. We had decided to live for nothing but indepen
dence, well-doing, sacrifice, and love of country, but we were without the practical knowledge necessary for reaching these ends. We were taught to despise the external advantages of wealth, honour, and consideration, and to believe that by economy and moderation, it is possible to do without most of the things considered essential by ordinary middle-class people. We were beguiled by a dream, to wit, the possibility of enjoying independence and domestic happiness without having either the power or the means of acquiring that position which alone can give them. These dreams had all the more power over us because it was to our best feelings that they appealed when they incited us to make a stand against the decay of the old Swiss spirit, that spirit of simplicity, dignity, and fidelity, which had once been the glory of our country, but which at that time was already slowly disappearing from amongst us."
No man was ever a greater victim than Pestalozzi himself of this illusion which he calls a dream, this ideal which he pursued with so much self-forgetfulness; and yet is it not just because he reached so high a point in this high path, that he made the discoveries which have rendered his memory immortal ?
We have seen that young Pestalozzi wanted to be a pastor, like his grandfather. He accordingly studied theology, but after having brought his studies to a successful close, he discovered that he could not preach. It is even said that in the middle of his trial-sermon an uncontrollable fit of laughter seized him and obliged him to stop. So he gave up the ministry to study law. But this change was not entirely the result of his inability to preach, for his thoughts had long been taking another direction, and slowly leading him to another sphere of activity.
Already, as a child at school, Pestalozzi had had a horror of injustice and oppression, and had always been the champion of those who were wronged. One day he had taken to task a worthless under-master who had been guilty of some injustice, and, to the amazement of the whole class, his energy had carried the day. Later, in an anonymous letter addressed to the educational authorities, he had disclosed the vices which were secretly undermining a public educational institution; this letter had excited some very angry
feeling, and on its authorship being discovered, Pestalozzi, although an inquiry had proved the truth of his statements, had been threatened with severe punishment, and had been obliged to escape to Höngg to his grandfather.
There he had heard the peasants complain how the burgesses of Zurich lorded it over them, monopolized the trade in the town, and refused to sell them the right of citizenship. Often, too, he had stayed with his uncle Hotz at Richterswyl, the inhabitants of which village made the same complaints as those of Höngg. The doctor used to speak with great bitterness of the "gracious lords of Zurich," and one day, when his nephew was boasting of the liberty of the Swiss peasants, he replied sharply, “Don't talk so much about their liberty; they are no more free here than in Livonia."
The impressions thus made on young Pestalozzi by his visits to the country were all the keener and deeper for being associated with the memory of happy days spent amongst a class of people who always made him welcome, and in a place where he was able to enjoy a freer and more active life than he had ever enjoyed in Zurich.
At that time, the village pastors of the canton were for ever repeating the old adage about evil coming from the town. Young Henry felt this too. “When I am big,” he used to say, “ I shall support the peasants; they ought to have the same rights as the townspeople.”
At the university, too, where Bodmer's teaching had directed his attention to the political state of his country, he was one of the most ardent amongst those young men who were anxious to reform everything in Zurich, and whose actions in the pursuit of liberty and justice occasionally caused their parents so much embarrassment, anxiety, and trouble.
In the middle of the last century, the country districts in most of the Swiss cantons were dominated by the towns, which were themselves governed by a certain number of privileged families, whose government was generally mild and kind, though the people had no right to take part in it. In Zurich, some thirteen trado-guilds monopolized all the industry and commerce of the place.
The desire for greater liberty showed itself first amongst the students, and was caused to a very great extent by the
example of the people of Geneva, who had for a long time been complaining of the domination of the patrician families, who had gradually robbed the people of all their ancient rights. In 1738, France and the cantons of Berne and Zurich, appealed to by the Genevan Government, had induced the people and the magistrates to accept their mediation, and had obtained for the former the right of remonstrance and veto in all measures which affected the constitution. And so, in 1762, when the Government, following in the steps of the Paris Parliament, condemned the author of Emile and The Social Contract, the people espoused Rousseau's side very warmly, and addressed a remonstrance to the magistrates, asking that the decree should be repealed as being in every way unjust and ill-advised. But the petitioners were civilly dismissed, and their petition disregarded.
These doings made a great stir in Zurich, and caused great excitement amongst the patriotic students, who expressed their entire sympathy with the people of Geneva and for a time almost worshipped Rousseau, in whose writings they found so many eloquent passages in praise of Nature, simple manners and country life, that were entirely in harmony with their own views.
These young Liberals, several of whom afterwards became famous, now undertook a crusade against the abuses and injustices of the time. During the years 1763, 1764, and 1765 they formally complained of three high functionaries; and an inquiry having proved the truth of the facts they alleged, the guilty persons were dismissed. The magistrates, however, alarmed at the spirit which was animating these young men, blamed their action, and punished them with one or two days' confinement in the Town Hall.
In the spring of 1765, Bodmer had founded a Helvetian Society, which used to meet every week to hear and discuss essays by its members on questions of history, education, politics, or ethics, and which contributed in no small degree to spread liberal ideas amongst the students.
of this society Pestalozzi was one of the most enthusiastic members.
The same year, the students started a weekly local paper called the Memorial. As its aim was purely moral, politics were not touched on; indeed, at that time, the discussion of
politics in a public paper was forbidden. The editors were Lavater and Füssli; but Pestalozzi was one of the chief contributors, and it is interesting to see the sort of thoughts that occupied him at the age of nineteen. The following are a few extracts from his articles :
“I am told nearly every day that a young man who occupies such a very unimportant position in his country as I do,
Ι should attempt neither to criticise nor to make things better; that both are beyond his province. I may, however, be allowed to express my wishes; this at least nobody can either forbid or find fault with. I propose, then, to formulate my wishes and print them for everybody to read. As for those who may make fun of me, I can only hope that they will soon learn to know better."
"I would have no great mind too indolent, or too proud of its own greatness to labour for the public good with courage and perseverance; I would have no one despise the very humblest of his fellow-creatures when they are honest and industrious."
“I would have parents exercise more care in choosing companions for their children. For who does not know what a powerful influence good or bad companionship has on
young souls ? "
"I would have people as eager to speak of a man's progress and good qualities as they are to tell his faults. Do we not owe this justice to our neighbour who is trying to be better?"
"I would that one of our doctors would make an abstract of Tissot’s excellent book, and that by the self-denial of a few rich people this abstract might be sold to every peasant for a half or third of its price."
This wish suggests another :
"I would that some one would draw up in a simple manner a few principles of education intelligible to everybody; that some generous people would then share the expense of printing, so that the pamphlet might be given to the public for