« ForrigeFortsæt »
"Pestalozzi then left us, and I set to work questioning, explaining, and bawling, with an energy which made me very hot and tired, never doubting for a moment that the prince was perfectly convinced. On Pestalozzi's return at the end of an hour, the prince expressed his satisfaction, and we took our leave. Going downstairs, Pestalozzi said, 'He is quite convinced, thoroughly convinced; he will certainly set up some schools in Hungary.' At the bottom of the stairs Pestalozzi suddenly cried out, 'Why, what is the matter with my arm? Look, how swollen it is; and it is so stiff that I cannot bend it.' And as a matter of fact the large sleeve of his coat looked almost too tight. I immediately noticed that the great house-key was bent in the lock, and we concluded that on coming in an hour before he must have knocked his elbow against the key and bent it. And yet, so ardent was the flame that burned within him, even at seventy years of age, when his mind was bent on doing good, that during that hour the old man had felt no pain. I may add that I could give many more instances of the same sort of thing."
We have now arrived at a time when there were almost as many French as Germans in the institute.
The consequence of this was that a master was often obliged to make his observations in both languages; very often, too, a pupil could not be placed in the class which would have suited him best, on account of his not understanding the language in which it was conducted.
The pupils who came from French schools, having been accustomed to an almost military discipline, were inclined to take advantage of the liberty they enjoyed at Yverdun; accustomed, too, to look upon the masters as natural enemies, with whom they must necessarily be at war, they took pleasure in playing all sorts of tricks upon them. Furthermore, having been deprived suddenly of the only stimulus they had hitherto known, the stimulus of self-love, they were little disposed to study, where there was neither reward to hope for nor punishment to fear. At the same time the rustic simplicity of life in the institute filled them with repugnance and contempt. Much less than this would have sufficed to promote indiscipline and confusion in the establishment, so that the result may be imagined.
Jullien had undertaken to obtain some French masters for the institute, but among those he sent there, only one was really a capable man and fit to collaborate with Pestalozzi. This was Alexander Boniface, the author of one of the best French grammars.
Amongst all the men of note," said Jullien, "I only found Boniface who was willing to give up Paris for toil and moil at Yverdun."
Of a cheerful and lively disposition, Boniface was a true child of Paris, but he was, at the same time, kind and simple of heart, and soon learned to love and admire Pestalozzi. He became the centre of the French side of the institute, and exercised a most salutary influence. By his uniform kindness to the children he won their love, and, in spite of his not very imposing presence, their entire respect. He was small and exceedingly short-sighted, and generally wore red or green slippers, which was thought at Yverdun to be an extraordinary eccentricity. To a good knowledge of classics he joined a cultivated taste, and gave excellent lessons in grammar and French literature, in which the scholars took great interest. On his return to Paris he founded a higher school on Pestalozzi's principles. When in 1829 Mr. de Vatisménil appointed a Commission to inquire into the methods employed in private schools in Paris, the commissioners, after a very conscientious examination, made a report to the minister, in which they declared the method employed by Mr. Boniface to be superior to all the others they had examined. (Pompée, p. 269.)
At this time, unfortunately, the assistant masters were not all like Boniface; they were not all zealous and diligent in their work, and often, in the absence of any complete control, did very much as they liked. The devotion of the good teachers was powerless against all the elements of disorder which had crept into the institute, and none of them could make up for the administrative weakness of its head. Concurrently with this, the financial position grew more and more unsatisfactory, and the various causes of ruin already referred to were increased by the great extension that peace had given to the establishment.
In this state of things Schmidt was thought of as the only man capable of governing with a strong hand. Niederer, his old antagonist, was the first to advise Pestalozzi to recalĺ
him, and even undertook to go and urge him to return himself.
Schmidt was now the director of the public school of Bregenz, an establishment which his talents and energy had brought into a state of great prosperity. It was there that Niederer sought him out, and succeeded in inducing him to return to Yverdun. Niederer had never denied Schmidt's great capacity, and at that time still had perfect confidence in his character. We may judge of this from the following passage of a letter written a few days after this interview:
"Rely entirely on Pestalozzi's love; he has never ceased to look on you as a son. Besides the strength which makes you valuable, and which is the gift of Nature, you have still greater gifts, for you are a true man, and your will is set on good. This last is the gift of a man to himself, and is what makes you worthy of our respect."
Schmidt returned to Yverdun at Easter, 1815, and Pestalozzi, receiving him as a son who was sacrificing himself for his father, made vows of eternal gratitude.
On his arrival, Schmidt at once quietly set about the necessary reforms, working almost incessantly day and night. He dismissed useless teachers, reduced the salary of others, stopped waste, and restored order and regularity in the lessons as well as discipline among the pupils. All Pestalozzi's right-minded coadjutors willingly gave him their aid in these much-needed reforms.
But Schmidt wanted to be master, to wield, that is, the sole authority in the name of Pestalozzi. Taking advantage of what had been told him of his usefulness, he went straight to his end with an acuteness, ability, perseverance, and calm energy that never forsook him. Under a mask of respect and affection, he submitted his proposals to the old man as the only conditions of safety, conditions without which he could answer for nothing. At the same time he succeeded in winning the women of the establishment to his side: Mrs. Pestalozzi, because she was tired of the philosophy of Niederer, and found him incapable of protecting her husband's financial position; Mrs. Kuster, to whom it had been pointed out, after the event, that Mrs. Niederer had behaved very badly to her in taking her place
as directress of the girls' school; and, lastly, the faithful housekeeper, Lisbeth Krusi herself, who looked on Schmidt as the only man capable of restoring order and economy in domestic matters. Schmidt, indeed, had this merit, that he was satisfied with little, and was continually preaching plain living. We shall soon see, however, that Mrs. Krusi had cause to repent of the preference she had given him.
In this same year, 1815, Pestalozzi published at Yverdun a book which he had written the previous year, entitled: A Word in Season to the Innocent, Serious, and NobleMinded Ones of My Country.
If it is chiefly to Switzerland that the author addresses his remarks, it is not to her alone, but also to the whole of Europe, which, set free by Napoleon's fall, is about to enter on a new era, an era it may be of virile and moral renovation, ensuring peace both at home and abroad, or it may be of weakness, vanity, and selfishness, such as has already ended in revolution, licence, and despotism. The nations of Europe are corrupted by a sensual civilization, which does but stimulate their appetites and their vanity, making those who suffer envious of those who enjoy, and those who enjoy insensible to the troubles of those who suffer. There is none of that real moral civilization which exalts a man and makes him capable of love, commiseration, and abnegation. The first step to this higher civilization is the reform of public education.
We have endeavoured to give in a few words some idea of the subject treated by Pestalozzi; but what we have just said can convey but a faint idea of the many precious truths and valuable and original ideas to be found in this new work, which is as it were a continuation of that which the author had written some years previously: An Inquiry into the Course of Nature in the Development of the Human Race. But the second work is more matured, more clearly written, and more practical. It is now fiftyseven years since it was first published and yet it has lost none of its appropriateness. Europe would still do well to think over this advice, and act on it.
About this time there arrived at Yverdun the celebrated Doctor Bell, the founder of the system of mutual instruction in England. His visit to the far-famed institute had a double motive. He came partly to see Pestalozzi, this man
whose reputation as the inventor and propagator of a new method of education rivalled his own, partly in the hope of discovering some further improvement for his own system. Bell understood neither French nor German, but he found an interpreter in the establishment whom he knew already. This was Ackermann, the Saxon, a teacher of some merit, who had left Pestalozzi in 1813 to fight for the liberation of Germany, and who, before returning to Yverdun, had spent some time in England visiting Bell's schools and examining his method.
During his visit to Yverdun, Bell, after watching the lessons in the different classes, gave, with the help of some teachers and under-teachers, a sort of representation of his own method; there was, moreover, a conference, in which Pestalozzi and the Doctor summed up, with Ackermann's help, their chief objections to each other's system. But, whatever the merits and defects of the rival systems may have been, the Englishman certainly possessed one talent that the Swiss was without; for whereas the latter by his educational labours had ruined himself, the former had amassed a fortune of £2,000 a year. On leaving Yverdun, Bell, in company with Ackermann and Jullien, went to Freiburg, to visit the schools of Father Girard, who, with true pedagogical tact and elevated moral views, had applied to his own system all that was really good in the method of Bell and Lancaster. On taking leave of Ackermann, Bell said: "In another twelve years mutual instruction will be adopted by the whole world, and Pestalozzi's method will be forgotten." A few days afterwards, one of those inquisitive and ignorant people whom fashion alone induced to visit Pestalozzi, was presented to him, and accosted the old man with: "It is you, sir, I believe, who invented mutual instruction?" "God forbid," replied Pestalozzi. And yet seventeen years before, at Stanz, he had already in his own way made use of the system.
Early in December, 1815, Mrs. Pestalozzi fell ill; her strength was gone. Without suffering and with admirable tranquillity, the good and kind old woman, now in her seventy-ninth year, felt her life slowly ebbing away. died on the evening of the 12th, as she lay upon her couch. She was still lying there when Pestalozzi's particular friends, anxious to share his sorrow, hastened to his side.