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such support from the Government as will guarantee its continuance. Ought it not even to be utilized for a reform of public elementary education throughout Switzerland ?”
Since the revolution of the 18th of October, 1801, Mohr had no longer been minister, and the Executive Council of the Republic had been replaced by a Petty Council. The latter, feeling the necessity of doing something for Pestalozzi, had appointed a Commission to visit the institute, in order that, before taking any decisive step, it might be in possession of reliable and detailed information as to its working.
The report of this Commission, drawn up by Ith, the president of the Council of Public Education in Berne, was presented in June, 1802.1
"On my first visit," he says, "I was full of distrust, and had thoroughly made up my mind not to let myself be dazzled by a brilliant theory, or carried away by the novelty of a few striking results." (p. 76.)
At that time there were some eighty children in the institute, of ages ranging from five to eighteen, and of almost every social condition. Amongst the number were twelve poor children, supported entirely by the establishment.
The report first endeavours to make clear the principles of the method invented by Pestalozzi, "who has discovered the real and universal laws of all elementary teaching." It then points to the excellence of the results already obtained, as established by the Commission in its late careful and thorough examination of the pupils, and especially praises the moral and religious life of the establishment, and the discipline, which, it points out, is entirely based upon affection. It recommends finally that the institute shall be turned into a normal school, to be supported by the State; that fixed salaries shall be allowed to all the masters, and that the projected new edition of Pestalozzi's works on elementary education shall be helped forward by a large subscription.
For Pestalozzi himself the Commission asked but one thing, which was that help should be given him to found a new home for orphans on his land at Neuhof, as soon as the
1 Official Report on Pestalozzi's Institute, etc., Berne and Zurich, 1802.
opportunity offered. The fact is that Pestalozzi, satisfied with having made his method known, and with having found men capable of applying it, thought that his presence would soon be no longer needed at Burgdorf, and was already beginning to think of leaving the future management of the institute in the hands of his collaborators, and once more taking up the work to which he had always believed himself to be especially called. As rest from his long labours he looked forward to ending his days amid poor and destitute children, to whom he might be as a father.
In August, 1802, Burgdorf was visited by Soyaux, of Berlin, whom the Jena Literary Gazette reckoned amongst the opponents of the Pestalozzian method. And yet Soyaux has given an account of his visit in a pamphlet, which confirms the favourable testimony we have already quoted. He begins by summing up Pestalozzi's personality and character with wonderful insight and power of analysis. He then describes the different lessons at which he was present, and points out the remarkable development of the pupils' powers in arithmetic and drawing. Here again we can only give one or two short quotations:
"Pestalozzi's method will, perhaps, meet with little approbation, but his principles and the tendency of his method will certainly have a most valuable influence.
"His discipline is based upon the principle that children must be allowed the greatest possible liberty, and that only when they abuse this liberty must they be interfered with.
"The establishment contains in all a hundred and two persons, seventy-two of whom are pupils. These are mostly Swiss, and are drawn from every canton in the country, Catholic and Protestant alike. They are taught by ten masters. There are also a certain number of foreigners in the Castle, who are there to study the method.
"The institute is young, and Pestalozzi's principles are still in process of development. As they are not yet come to maturity, it follows that the organization of the establishment is still incomplete. Director and assistants are working with all their might to perfect the edifice. One tries to improve certain appliances, another seeks a natural way of teaching reading, numbers, etc. Would that all educational
establishments might present such a picture of concord and harmony, and betray the same zeal in advancing from progress to progress.'
Meanwhile the Petty Council had adopted the suggestions of the Commission. A small salary had been granted to Pestalozzi and each of his masters; a normal school had been instituted in the Castle to which every month a dozen schoolmasters were to come for lessons; and lastly, with the help of the State, a second and cheap edition was being prepared of the books compiled in the institute.
Pestalozzi already saw the future of his work assured, and was on the point of realizing his most cherished desire, when the unitary Government was overthrown by a fresh revolution, and he found himself robbed, at one blow, not only of all his hopes, but of the position he had already acquired. It seemed, indeed, as though this man was fated to see the ground fail beneath his feet whenever he felt himself within reach of his end.
On the 17th of April, 1802, the Council had convoked in Berne an assembly of "notables," chosen by itself, for the purpose of drawing up in the name of the Republic a scheme for a new constitution. This scheme was unanimously adopted by the Assembly on the 19th of May, and on being submitted to the votes of the electors throughout Switzerland, was accepted by two hundred and twenty-eight thousand citizens out of three hundred and two thousand entitled to vote, those who abstained from voting being counted as accepting. On the 3rd of July, the acceptance of the constitution was proclaimed at Berne and the new Government was formed. As a consequence of this, the country was soon afterwards evacuated by the French troops that had hitherto occupied it.
This was the signal for a rising which spread from the smaller cantons over well-nigh the whole of Switzerland. The Swiss army had to retreat before the insurgent troops, and the Government, that on the 2nd of September had decided to ask for "the kind services and intervention of the French Government," was compelled, on the 19th, to withdraw from Berne. It had taken refuge at Lausanne, where its only protectors were the Vaudese militia, when a proclamation from the First Consul Bonaparte arrived and put an
end to the hostilities. The French Government consented to act as mediator, and with a view to ascertaining the best means of restoring union and tranquillity amongst all parties, convoked at Paris a "Consulta," composed of deputies from the Helvetian Senate, the cantons, and any communes that wished to send them.
Pestalozzi had just published a conciliatory political pamphlet, and was now chosen by the village of Kirchberg to represent it at the Consulta. He was also chosen by canton Zurich, in company with Usteri and ex-director Laharpe.
The first meeting of the Consulta took place in Paris on the 10th of December, 1802. The First Consul had appointed a Commission to confer with the Swiss deputies, composed of Barthélemy, the president of the Conservative Senate, and formerly ambassador in Switzerland; Fouché, of Nantes; and Roederer and Desmeuniers, councillors of state. There were two opposing parties in the Consulta: one composed of forty-five members, amongst whom was Pestalozzi, for the most part favourable to the new ideas; the other, a minority of sixteen, who asked more or less explicitly for a return to the old state of things.
Pestalozzi's almost unintelligible French and his eccentric appearance were much against his getting a hearing in Paris; nor could he confine himself to the political questions under discussion, but tried to make the occasion an opportunity for expounding his educational ideas in France. He therefore exercised little or no influence in the Consulta, although Roederer was at that time displaying both zeal and talent in the matter of public instruction.
Pestalozzi was eager to obtain an audience of the First Consul, but his request was refused, Bonaparte saying that he had something else to do than consider questions of A B C. He instructed Senator Monge, however, to hear what Pestalozzi had to say.
Monge, the inventor of descriptive geometry, and the founder of the Polytechnic school, was a man of large mind and keen intellect. He listened patiently to Pestalozzi, asking question after question till he was satisfied that he had thoroughly understood him, but after carefully considering the plans the old man had proposed, he replied in halfa-dozen words: "It is too much for us.'
As soon as Pestalozzi saw that he could do nothing in Paris, he forsook the Consulta to return to his work at Burgdorf. As he entered the Castle, Buss said to him: "Well, did you see Bonaparte?" "No," replied Pestalozzi; "nor he me." These words, though they were spoken with a smile, may perhaps appear presumptuous. And yet, if Pestalozzi merely expressed his sense of his own worth by them, he was not deceived, for of these two men there is one whose memory will be blessed by posterity in all lands, and it is not he whom his contemporaries called "the great." Bonaparte did France an immense wrong by rejecting Pestalozzi's ideas, ideas so soon to be accepted by Prussia. But Bonaparte's desire was to be master of the people, whereas Pestalozzi's one effort was to set them free. We may here mention an anecdote related by Pompée in the book already quoted, and, so far as we are aware, to be found nowhere else. We give it in his own words:
"General Ney, the French ambassador in Berne, was in the habit of paying not infrequent visits to the Burgdorf institute, of which he had formed a very high opinion, and of which he gave an account to the First Consul. (p. 127.)
"If Bonaparte had been unwilling to concern himself with Pestalozzi's questions of A B C when the latter was in Paris as a Swiss deputy, he had at any rate readily accepted Ney's suggestion that the new system should be introduced into French schools. Naef, one of the Burgdorf masters, was accordingly sent to Paris. He commenced his teaching in an orphan asylum, where a certain number of children were entrusted to him by the commissioners of charitable institutions. Napoleon was anxious to see for himself the results obtained, and visited the asylum, accompanied by Talleyrand, the United States ambassador, and several other distinguished personages. He watched several lessons, and was very satisfied with all he saw. A Commission was then appointed to render an account of the experiment, and De Wailly, the head of the Lycée Napoléon, expressed in his report the opinion that the method might prove to be very useful for children intended for the mechanical arts.
1 This was told us by Buss himself.