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public by Professor Vulliemin in an article in the Evangelical Christian, from which we borrow the following passages:
"In September, 1807, a German tutor arrived at Yverdun with two pupils and their mother. The tutor was Charles Ritter, his pupils the young Hollwegs, of Frankfort, members of a great banking family, whose subsequent fame has been due in no small measure to these very boys. Ritter was not an ordinary tourist. As it was known that he was very eager to become acquainted with Pestalozzi and his method, he was warmly welcomed at the institute, and spent a busy week of educational investigation in the society of the head of this large family and his chief colleagues, Niederer, Tobler, Muralt and Krusi. Not a day passed without lectures and discussions, in the course of which education was looked at from very many different sides. It was at the time of Pestalozzi's greatest prosperity; and although his sensitive heart had already detected the germs of those dissensions which were afterwards to destroy his work at Yverdun, he still retained many of his earlier illusions, and it was with the most complete faith in the power of his method that, with Niederer's help, he had just made a public report on the state of his institution. What Ritter saw at Yverdun filled him with admiration and respect. He felt that he was in the presence of an exceptional nature, of a great-souled, self-sacrificing man, who was entirely possessed by a stimulating and original idea, and in whom child-like simpleness and humility mingled with unbounded confidence in the greatness of the task he had set himself to do. Transported thus into a world that was new to him, Ritter could not but feel its elevating and ennobling influence.
"Two years later (the 1st of October, 1809) he repeated his visit to Yverdun. After journeying in rain and sun,' he writes to a friend, 'I once more came to my dear Yverdun, where I was received like an old friend of the family. Amongst the many joys that Providence has bestowed upon me, and for which, on account of their great influence on my development, I shall never cease to be thankful, I set the highest store by those that I have tasted in the society
Charles Ritter, the Geographer; biographical fragments (Evangelical Christian, 1869, p. 21).
of my good friends Pestalozzi, Niederer, Mieg, von Türck, Schmidt, and others, men who, in different degrees, are very dear to me, since we are all striving for the same great end, the raising of humanity by education.'
"Great changes had taken place in the institution; but though their sphere of action had considerably increased, these energetic men still remained the same. The noble old man, always a child in heart, was kept by his eager enthusiasm in an almost constant state of feverish activity; his wife was a model of unassuming virtue, delicacy and kind-heartedness. 'In their company,' says Ritter, 'my hours pass like minutes. When evening comes, seated between the father and mother of this great family, I share with my friends a simple repast, at which dishes are passed and glasses filled amid many a pleasant jest.
"The work has grown to such proportions that its founder can no longer attend to the whole of it. There are more than a hundred and fifty pupils, and as many as forty student-teachers of various ages, some of whom are already engaged in active work outside the institute, and all of whom apply themselves diligently to the study of the 'method.' I have not been able to ascertain the number of masters. Add to all this a school for girls, two private establishments, and a number of teachers who live with their pupils in the town, but give and receive lessons in the institute, and you will have some idea of what is going on here.
"Pestalozzi himself is unable to apply his own method in any of the simplest subjects of instruction. He is quick in grasping principles, but is helpless in matters of detail; he possesses the faculty, however, of putting his views with such force and clearness that he has no difficulty in getting them carried out. He was right, indeed, when he said to me, speaking of himself: 'I cannot say that it is I who have created what you see before you. Niederer, Krusi and Schmidt would laugh at me if I called myself their master; I am good neither at figures nor writing; I know nothing about grammar, mathematics, or any other science; the most ignorant of our pupils knows more of these things than I do; I am but the initiator of the institute, and depend on others to carry out my views.'
"He spoke the truth, and yet without him nothing that is here would exist. He has no gift for guiding or govern
ing this great undertaking, and yet it continues. He has sacrificed everything he possessed to this end; even now he knows nothing of the value of money, and is as ignorant of accounts as a child. Even his speech, which is neither German nor French, is scarcely intelligible, and yet in everything he is the soul of this vast establishment. All his words, and more especially his religious utterances, sink deep into the hearts of his pupils, who love and venerate him as a father.'
"Ritter continues: 'If Pestalozzi is the inspirer, Niederer is the philosopher of the enterprise, for it is he that develops all Pestalozzi's ideas, and he does so in a way which would do honour to the very greatest teachers of philosophy. To him, however, philosophy is inseparable from religion, and the only wisdom is in Jesus Christ. His conversation is elevating, inspiring and comforting. Inferior as I am to him in depth and power, he is attracted by me, because, in spite of all I can say to the contrary, he finds in me a certain harmony which he is conscious of lacking. His thoughts give him no repose, and he frequently suffers from the effects of overwork. He is, indeed, always in a state either of intense mental activity or of complete mental exhaustion. His wealth of ideas is most striking when he is talking of the history of religion, of the life and teaching of Christ, of the Gospel of St. John, or, in another connection, of the open nature of the child, and of the intimate connection between psychology and the study of languages. Were he inclined to give the results of his studies to the world, he would have much to say on these subjects that would be very valuable; but always dissatisfied with what he does, he will not consent to publish what he feels to be imperfect.
"Pestalozzi's most energetic helper in the development of his system is Schmidt, a Tyrolese, whose method of teaching drawing and geometry has been published, and is to be followed by that for arithmetic and algebra. The 'method' has been more fully applied to these branches than to any other. Problems in geometry, trigonometry and measurement of solids are nothing to Schmidt's pupils. In a large class, containing from fifteen to twenty groups of boys, all at different stages of progress, I have seen Schmidt teaching alone, encouraging and helping everybody, and keeping everybody occupied, without a single false step. This man, the
son of a peasant, is but twenty-three years of age; he is religious and simple-hearted, but with a will of iron.'
"Such was Ritter's opinion of the Yverdun institute in 1809. But his enthusiasm, as is evident, got the better of his judgment. Niederer's characteristic cordiality had kept him blind to his rationalizing tendency, nor had he discovered behind Schmidt's rough energy the preoccupations of a mind determined to command. His stay at Yverdun had been too short to allow him to discover the weak spots in the men and their work, and the strongly favourable impressions produced upon him by the good side of all he saw rendered him incapable of calm criticism. Nor was he at that time, though sincerely religious, sufficiently acquainted with the spirit of the Gospel to make it a test of Pestalozzi's work. Perhaps it was as well for him that he did not discover the real secret of its weakness at first. The impulsion he received was all the stronger, all the more salutary; for there can be no doubt that, independently of what he learned in other respects, it was his relations with Pestalozzi which awoke in him the ideas which he was so soon afterwards to apply in his geographical studies. To quote his own words on this subject:
"I have seen more than the paradise of Switzerland, for I have seen Pestalozzi, and recognized how great his heart is, and how great his genius; never have I been so filled with a sense of the sacredness of my vocation, and the dignity of human nature, as in the days that I spent with this noble man. I cannot think without emotion of this little company of brave men, struggling with the present that the future may be the better, and finding alike their joy and their reward in the hope they have of raising children to the true dignity of humanity. I have watched the growth of this precious plant, I have even drunk of the waters and breathed the air that give it life. I have learned to understand this 'method,' which, based upon the nature of the child, develops so naturally and so freely. It is for me now to apply it in the domain of geography, where Nature has been too long neglected.'
I left Yverdun fully determined to keep the promise I made to Pestalozzi of introducing his method into the study of geography,' he writes later, and already I am reducing the chaos to order; I hold in my hand, as it
were, the clue to such a knowledge of the globe as will satisfy both the mind and heart, reveal the laws of a higher wisdom, and contribute not a little to the science of physicotheology.'
"He certainly kept his promise, for his great work on comparative geography may be said to have founded a new science. He changed geography, which till then had been a mere collection of facts, into an organic science, thus throwing light on the relations between the physical and intellectual diversities of race. No doubt he owed much to many other men, and particularly to William Humboldt whose labours gave a new direction to the study of languages, but it is to Pestalozzi that he traces the first impulsion given to his mind, and the chief part of what was valuable in his work. Forty years after his visit to Yverdun, we heard him admit this himself:
"Pestalozzi,' he said, 'knew less geography than a child in one of our primary schools; yet it was from him that I gained my chief knowledge of this science, for it was in listening to him that I first conceived the idea of the natural method. It was he who opened the way to me, and I take pleasure in attributing whatever value my work may possess entirely to him.'"1
We have not hesitated to quote at this length, because any who are anxious to thoroughly understand Pestalozzi's work will be glad to have the opinions of two such men as Ritter and Vulliemin. As the article from which we have been quoting, however, anticipates a little, we shall have to return to certain points later on.
Amongst the other notable men who visited the Yverdun institute during this first period of its existence, we must mention von Raumer, who, at Fichte's suggestion, left Paris, where he was studying theology, to come to Pestalozzi. He stayed long enough to get a thorough understanding of the work of the establishment in all its details; but though he had a great admiration for its venerable founder, he was not blind to its defects, and even proposed certain alterations, which, however, were not carried out. He afterwards went
It was to Pestalozzi that Ritter dedicated the first volume of his Geography.