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Pestalozzi: His Life and Work.
PESTALOZZI THE CHILD.
Influence of home on his character; influence of school and of a visit to the country. To help the poor, he decides to be a village pastor.
IN 1567, Antony Pestalozzi, a Protestant refugee from Chiavenna, and his wife Madeline de Muralt, of Locarno, also an exile from her country through having adopted the reformed faith, found refuge in the town of Zurich. From them was descended Andrew Pestalozzi, who was a pastor at Höngg near Zurich, and the grandfather of the subject of this biography.1
Andrew's son, John Baptist, was a surgeon of good standing in Zurich, and had acquired some reputation as an oculist; he had married Susanna Hotz, of Richterswyl, a beautiful village on the edge of the lake of Zurich. Susanna was a sister of the well-known Dr. Hotz, and the niece of the General Hotz who was killed at Schoennis in 1799.
Henry, the subject of this biography, was the son of John Baptist Pestalozzi, and was born on the 12th of January, 1746. His early home and the circumstances of his childhood had so great an influence on his character that we must give some account of them.
In the middle of the town of Zurich stands a large bridge, used as a market for flowers, fruit, and vegetables, and con
The parish registers of Höngg afford evidence of the mistake of those biographers who call this pastor Hotz and make him the maternal grandfather of Pestalozzi.
necting a small square on the left bank of the Limmat with the square in which the Town Hall stands on the opposite side. Not far from the latter building and the quay there is a small, old-fashioned square called Rüdenplatz, leading, on the south, into a very narrow street. The corner house fronting the street is the house where Pestalozzi was born. It is numbered five, and bears the date 1691; the ground-floor, which is now used as a warehouse, was probably in 1746 the shop where, according to the custom of the time, the chirurgeon John Pestalozzi sold his simples and his drugs.
It was an old custom in Zurich for every house to have a name and sign; that in which Pestalozzi's parents lived was called The Black Horn.1
Henry was only just five years old when his father died, leaving a widow and three children (two boys and a girl), but very little fortune. Baptist, the eldest boy, died young; the girl, Barbara, eventually married a Mr. Gross, a merchant in Leipsic, and corresponded all her life with her brother Henry, to whom she was very much attached.
Susanna Pestalozzi was a gifted woman and an admirable mother. Having been well brought up herself, she now thought of nothing but her duty to her children, and it was undoubtedly the educational advantages of Zurich that made her prefer this town to the pleasanter and easier life she might have led near her brother at Richterswyl. She must, however, have succumbed under the difficulties of the task she had set herself, had it not been for the devotion of a faithful servant. But here we will quote from Pestalozzi's own account of his early education :
"My mother devoted herself to the education of her three children with the most complete abnegation, foregoing everything that could have given her pleasure. In this noble sacrifice she was supported by a poor young servant whom I can never forget. During the few months she had
1 Some have maintained that Pestalozzi was born at the Red Lattice, 23, Münsterstrasse, a house which bears the inscription, Honour to God alone, 1664, and which is a little lower down than the one occupied by his friend Lavater. This is a mistake, for it is contradicted not only by local tradition but by Pestalozzi's own statements, as we shall see. 1t is true, however, that at the age of eighteen Pestalozzi lived with his mother at the Red Lattice.
been in our service, my father had been struck by her rare fidelity and unusual quickness. On his deathbed, agonized at the thought of what the consequence of his death might be for his family that he was leaving almost penniless, he sent for her, and said: 'Babeli, for the love of God and all His mercies, do not forsake my wife! What will become of her after my death? My children will fall into the hands of strangers and their lot will be hard. Without your help she cannot possibly keep her children with her.' Her noble, simple heart was touched, and her soul accepted the sacrifice. If you die,' she said, 'I will not forsake your wife, but I will remain with her, if needs be, till death.' Her words soothed my poor father, a gleam of joy shone in his eyes, and he died happily.
"She kept her word, for she stayed with my mother till she died, helping her to bring up her three children under the most difficult and painful circumstances imaginable, and showing in this work of patient devotion a tact and delicacy which were the more astonishing, seeing that she was entirely without education and had left her native village only a few months before to try and find a situation in Zurich.
"Her fidelity and dignity of manner were a result of her piety and simple faith. However painful the conscientious fulfilment of her promise may sometimes have been, it never once occurred to her that she might break it.
"My mother's position as a widow necessitated the most careful economy, and the trouble that Babeli took to do what was almost impossible, is hardly credible. To save a farthing or two in the purchase of vegetables or fruit, she would go two or three times to the market, waiting for the moment when the peasants would be anxious to get rid of their goods for the sake of returning home. The same careful economy was applied to everything, otherwise my mother's slender means would not have sufficed for our housekeeping expenses. When we children wanted to be off somewhere and there was no particular reason for us to go, Babeli would stop us, saying: 'Why do you want to go and spoil your clothes and shoes to no purpose? See how your mother goes without everything for your sakes, how she never leaves the house for months together, how she is saving every farthing for your education.' But of herself, of what she did for us, of her continual sacrifices, the noble
girl never spoke. The economy in the house was not allowed to interfere in any way with the family traditions, and the money devoted to alms, gratuities, and new year's gifts was out of all proportion to our personal expenses. Although these extra disbursements always troubled my mother and Babeli, they never hesitated to make them. My brother, my sister and myself had all fine Sunday clothes, but we wore them very little, always taking them off as soon as we got indoors, in order that they might last the longer. When my mother expected visitors, no pains were spared to make our one room fit to receive them."
This economy did not prevent the children from occasionally having a little pocket-money. One day, when little Henry had a few pence in his pocket, he was tempted by the good things in a confectioner's window near his home and went in to buy something. The house, which was in the square and has since been restored, was called The Plough. The shopkeeper's name was Schulthess, and inside Henry found little Anna Schulthess minding the shop. The girl was only seven years older than he was, but she refused to sell him anything and advised him to keep his money till he could make a better use of it. She who now gave him this excellent piece of advice afterwards became his wife, and remained his good angel till her death.
Thus Pestalozzi passed his childhood in an atmosphere of love, devotion, and peace, of rigid economy and of noble generosity. It was this, undoubtedly, that made him trustful, self-forgetful, calm, and affectionate, and gave him that gentle, sincere, and active piety which finds pleasure even in renunciation and privation. At the same time his imagination did not remain dormant, indeed its development seemed to make up in a measure for his lack of physical activity. The little fellow, nearly always shut up at home, listened eagerly to tales and readings, of which he never forgot a word. On the contrary, he turned them over and over in his mind, putting himself in the place of his heroes and making them act differently with different results. Already he was busy with thoughts which took him far away from the realities of his life.
1 Letter from Pestalozzi to Professor Ith, 1802.