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nothing, or next to nothing. I would then have clergymen distribute it to all fathers and mothers, so that they might bring up their children in a rational and Christian manner But perhaps this is asking too much at a time.”
“I would have all who work with their hands, all whose lives are industrious, frugal, and independent, looked upor as the pillars of our liberty, and held more in honour amongst
“I would that all my fellow-citizens could study the history of Switzerland and the laws of the canton, and that the new Helvetian Society would furnish them with the means.”
Meanwhile the irritation caused at Geneva by the condemnation of Rousseau had resulted in differences between the magistrates and the people, which were becoming more ar more pronounced and threatening, and in 1766, the government again asked for the mediation of Zurich, Berne, and France, " to save the country.” The deputies from these three States met at Geneva in March, and proposed an arrangement which suited the magistrates, but did not satisfy the people, who rejected it by a great majority on the 15th of December.
A rumour having reached Zurich that troops were to be sent to Geneva to force the people to accept the proposal made by the deputies, the town was thrown into a great state of excitement, and nothing else was talked about, nearly everybody approving of the step. patriots however were violently opposed to it, and debated whether it would not be possible to put the whole matter before the people of Zurich in such a way that they would refuse to become an instrument of injustice.
A young theologian, C. H. Muller, made the attempt, by drawing up a short statement in the form of a dialogue between peasants. The conclusions which he put into the mouth of one of the interlocutors were as follows:
“The townspeople of Geneva have a right to make what laws they please ; for the liberty of a people consists in its being able to organize its government as it likes. Besides, it was formally stipulated that the people should be free to
adopt or reject the various constitutional measures, and now that they have rejected this mediation by a great majority, are we to go and force them to accept it? Such a proceeding would be treasonable, shameful, infamous, and a government that insisted on it would no longer deserve our confidence. Come what may, then, I for one shall not go.”
Muller, saying the paper had been given him by some one, read it privately to a few friends, and then locked it up in his desk. But he afterwards allowed a student named Wolff to take a copy, and Wolff distributed it amongst the other students.
It was not till the 24th of January, 1767, that the magistrates heard of it. Their patience was now exhausted, and they were furious; they even suspected a conspiracy, and appointed a special commission to discover the author of the pamphlet and have him arrested.
This was on a Saturday. That same evening, Pestalozzi, on the advice of Lavater and other friends, went to Muller to urge him to confess to the magistrates that he had written the pamphlet. Muller promised to do so; but on going to his house the next day, Pestalozzi found that he had filed in the night. Pestalozzi thereupon hastened to consult his friends Lavater, Füssli, and Vogel, and it was agreed that if Muller had really run away, they should tell the magistrates all they knew of the matter. But others had been before them, and Muller had been already denounced by several citizens. Their readiness to do this is explained by the fact that all the townspeople were bound by an oath to tell the authorities everything which affected the State. But in this matter, most of them acted without regret, and were certainly not actuated by a sense of duty merely, for nearly everybody was just as indignant as the magistrates themselves. The latter indeed received many addresses, of which the following may be given as a specimen :
“The faithful citizens, in assuring their gracious lords of their devotion, humbly beg to make the followin request :
“Do not let your zeal in this matter grow cool, lest the welfare of the State as well as your own peace and safety be imperilled; continue rather earnestly and boldly to stifle at
their very birth the serpents who are seeking to poison the State."
All the young patriots who were thought to be concerned in the conspiracy were examined, and some of them were confined in the Town Hall. Thé result of the inquiries showed that the pamphlet had been written without any malicious intention, and that those who had distributed it had done so without the author's knowledge, believing it to be quite harmless.
But nothing could soothe the anger and fright of the “gracious lords and their faithful subjects.” They were particularly indignant with Pestalozzi, and confined him several times, believing that it was he who had suggested flight to Muller.
The burgomaster had, however, received a letter from the fugitive, in which he acknowledged that he was the author of the dialogue, explained how it came to be distributed without his consent, and asked pardon for this boyish fault, which he had committed without any malicious intention.
But the magistrates were too angry to forgive, and the inquiry was conducted as if it had been a question of saving the country from some great danger.
“The faithful people " did not conceal their indignation either, for in the streets and on the market places the students were many times threatened with death.
On Sunday, the 1st of February, 1767, a proclamation by the Government was read in the whole canton, apprising the astonished peasants of the existence of an abominable pamphlet, which endangered the safety of the State, and ordering that its author, Charles Muller, should be arrested and handed over to justice by any one who should meet him.
The sentence, pronounced on the 11th of February, declares Muller unworthy of the holy ministry, and banishes him for ever from Swiss territory, orders the copies of his pamphlet to be publicly burned, condemns a dozen students, Pestalozzi amongst them, to bear the expenses of their confinement, warns them that if they continue to speak against the Government they will lose their right of citizenship,
1 Muller, afterwards a professor in Berlin, is famous for having been the first to introduce the Nibelungen to the literary world.
and forbids the publication of the Memorial A commission
. was also appointed to control the students and to prevent them from forming associations.
In the eyes of his fellow-citizens Pestalozzi was no longer anything but a dangerous revolutionary. Nor did the effects of the sentence cease to make themselves felt for a long time; indeed the undertakings even of his middle age suffered from it. As all chance of a public appointment was now gone, he had to relinquish his hope of being able to improve the condition of the people by legislation.
He cared little for the harshness of the rich, but he was deeply hurt by the part taken in the matter by those whom he had meant to serve.
The real cause of the material poverty of the people, he reasoned, is their intellectual and moral degradation. In an election, after having sworn to support the best citizen, they always find some good reason for electing the worst. But as only those can be really helped who are in a position to help themselves, the first step towards an improvement in the condition of the people will be to see that they are properly educated.
On abandoning his legal studies, Pestalozzi threw his manuscripts into the fire, and thus all the numerous writings of his early youth were lost, except one which had been printed in a Review published at Lindau and Leipsic, called An Account of some of the Most Remarkable Writings of Our Times (1766, No. 12, pp. 346-372). His article is entitled Agis, and bears the date 1765, with these words:
" This article was written by a young man of great promise, not yet twenty years old, and was not originally intended for publication.'
This Review is not to be had now, but Agis has just been included in the complete edition of Pestalozzi's works, published at Brandenburg by L. W. Seyffarth. It is the earliest of Pestalozzi's productions that we possess,
and is far too remarkable to be dismissed without further mention.
It will be remembered that our author, when still a student and a very poor Greek scholar, shocked by the literary defects in a translation of Demosthenes published
by his professor of Greek, had himself translated a part of the third speech to the Athenian people, and in such a way as to excite universal admiration. This translation serves as a preface to the history of Agis, and is intended to show how in the times which preceded 'the Macedonian invasion, the Greeks had forsaken the old simplicity of life and the old virtues that had so long contributed to their strength and happiness. The picture of this decadence has such a striking resemblance to the state of Switzerland in the last century, that the translator, in a footnote, and with a touch of irony, reminds those readers who might fancy they had detected allusions to the present time that the Athenians only are in question, and that it is Demosthenes who is speaking
Then follows the history of Agis, that king of Sparta, who at a time when the laws of Lycurgus had fallen into neglect, had undertaken to revive them. Although brought up in luxury and idleness, he had resisted their seductions, and now lived with severe simplicity, trying to make the rich follow his example, and endeavouring to bring about a new division of land for the purpose of restoring the old conditions of equality. The attempt, however, failed, and Agis paid for it with his life.
From beginning to end of the sketch Pestalozzi eloquently preaches the cause of the reform undertaken by Agis, and one cannot help thinking that he sought in that way to prepare a new era for his country, in which the utopian schemes that then filled the thoughts of all the most generous-minded students in Zurich might be realized. But by burning all he had written, Pestalozzi now seemed to be acknowledging that he had been moving in the wrong direction, and to be condemning the system by which he had been led away.
According to several of his biographers, it was at this period of his life that he said: “I will be a schoolmaster.” But this is a mistake; for he did not find his true vocation till later, when, having become a father, he gave all his best thought and care to the education of his child.
On leaving the law Pestalozzi turned to agriculture.
To follow this new direction of his thought, and to understand how it was that he saw in this fresh sphere of activity yet another way of raising the people, we must first know something of the many utopian schemes for the