Billeder på siden

back to Germany, his native country, and wrote a History of Pedagogy, in which the praise he bestows on the institute is not altogether unmixed.

Chavannes' Life of Pestalozzi (Lausanne, 1853), contains the testimony of a pupil from Vevey, afterwards a minister of the Gospel, as to the state of the establishment at this time. We quote the following extracts:

"I entered in June, 1808, when I was about seven and a half years old, but I only stayed nine months. It was the most brilliant period of the institute. There were as many as a hundred and thirty-seven pupils there, including not only Swiss, Germans, and Frenchmen, but Italians, Spaniards, Russians, and even Americans.

"In the matter of food and cleanliness we were not very well looked after; but though at first I suffered very much, being so far from Vevey and my parents, I gradually became accustomed to the new state of things, and grew very fond of my kind masters, who not only took part in all our amusements, but even, by an excess of liberty, allowed us to 'thou' them. I was especially attached to their excellent chief, Pestalozzi. I seem still to see this kind old man, with his knee-breeches half-buttoned, his stockings down, his collar, hair and beard in disorder, and yet with such a quick, tender glance in his eyes, and such a kind smile upon his lips, that everybody felt attracted to him, men, women and children gladly accepting his affectionate embraces.

"I should add, further, in praise of this excellent man, that if he did not develop in me the fear of God or faith in the Saviour, he at least taught me to do my work from a sense of duty, avoiding as far as possible the dangerous stimulus of praise and reward. Having been called to his room one day with a young Italian who had given some cause of complaint, and whom he gently reproved, I thought for a moment that the same thing was going to happen to me; but the good old man, turning to me, said that my masters were quite satisfied with me, and that he would send word of this to my parents, who would doubtless be very glad to hear it. I thus found that I had done my duty without being praised before my companions, and almost without knowing it.

"Upon the whole I may say that, although I was very

young, and spent but a very short time with this extraordinary man, he has left an ineffaceable impression upon me, and that I look upon him as one of the benefactors of my youth.

"It often happened, I remember, that one of the masters, seated near the fireplace while Pestalozzi pronounced his morning meditation, would eagerly write it down. One of these improvised discourses, delivered by Pestalozzi on a Friday morning in winter, has been preserved. As it gives a fairly good idea of what Pestalozzi's Christianity was at that time, I do not hesitate to give it in full :

[ocr errors]

No day in the week is so important as this day on which Jesus Christ suffered and died. We were talking yesterday of the repose of winter. I tried to make you understand that no seed thrives unless the ground has been well prepared; when it has been badly prepared, neither the winter nor its snows can help forward the work of the sun, and in spite of the repose of winter, the seed perishes. Similarly a man cannot hope for a peaceful death and a happy resurrection unless the seeds of his life are likely to yield a good harvest. He cannot lie down to sleep in peace unless his day's work is done.

[ocr errors]

"When we once realize that this is true, we see that Christ's sacrifice and death were but the accomplishment of His work on earth. His last words were: "It is finished," and as He was satisfied that His work was well finished, He died in peace. Had his work not been finished, He would not have died.

"By living for His heavenly Father and for humanity, He earned, as it were, His repose.

"Would that we might follow His example, and recognize that it is the only way to eternal repose. The man who does not attempt to fulfil his duties, and who consequently does not tend towards perfection, will never obtain this


"How difficult it is for us teachers to strive towards this end throughout our lives, nay, even for a single hour' Jesus alone could say: "All is finished"; everything that man undertakes is paltry and incomplete.

"We must be always asking ourselves: Have I tried to work at my own improvement? Does my conduct show that I have advanced somewhat in the way of sanctification?

No man can meet death with tranquillity but he

who has fully accomplished his task.

[ocr errors]

"We accomplish nothing; on all sides we are powerless; our action is broken and fragmentary; and yet we shall only find rest in so far as we strive after perfection.

66 6

'Try to love God, your parents, and each other more and more.

"He who develops and perfects his inner nature will gradually find the strength and means to accomplish his task with regard to outer things.'

[ocr errors]

We may add that Pestalozzi pronounced these meditations at morning and evening worship, walking up and down before the assembled school in the large hall which served for a chapel. The service closed with singing and prayer, the prayer being sometimes silent.

Pestalozzi had founded at Yverdun, not far from the Castle, a girls' school, the pupils of which received lessons from some of the masters in the institute, and were always present at evening worship. Pestalozzi had entrusted the direction of this establishment to his daughter-in-law, who, it will be remembered, had been the good angel of the Burgdorf institute, and who had now married a second husband, Mr. Kuster.

Mrs. Kuster's chief assistant was Miss Rosette Kasthoffer, of Berne, an intelligent person, who afterwards married Niederer, and became the directress of the school, which finally became independent of Pestalozzi. Under Mr. and Mrs. Niederer it acquired much celebrity. They carried it on in Yverdun till 1838, and then in Geneva till Niederer's death.

It was also Pestalozzi who attracted to Yverdun Mr. Conrad Naef, of Zurich, who in 1811 founded an institute for the deaf and dumb, an establishment which always enjoyed a thoroughly deserved reputation, first under the management of the founder, and, after his death, under that of his son.

The various testimony quoted above has already given our readers some idea of what the institute of Ÿverdun was like during the years of its prosperity; we must now add a few touches to complete the picture.

The pupils enjoyed a great deal of liberty. As the two

doors of the Castle were open all day, and there was no porter, they could go in and out at all hours as if they were at home, and they never abused this freedom. Their lessons lasted generally ten hours a day-the first beginning at six, the last ending at eight. But none of these lessons lasted more than an hour, and they were all followed by a short interval, during which the children generally changed rooms. Besides, some of these lessons consisted of gymnastics, or some sort of manual labour, such as working in cardboard or gardening. The last hour of the day was a free hour, devoted to what the children called their own work. They could do anything they liked-draw, or read geography, or write home, or put their note-books in order.

The youngest masters, who were generally Burgdorf pupils, were in charge out of school. They slept in the dormitories, and, in recreation time, played with the pupils with as much enjoyment as the children themselves. They worked in the garden with them, bathed with them, walked with them, and were in every respect on the friendliest terms with them. They were divided into sets, each set taking its turn every third day, for this superintendence kept them busy from morning till night.

Three times a week the masters rendered an account to Pestalozzi of the pupils' work and behaviour. The latter were summoned by the old man, five or six at a time, to receive his exhortations or remonstrances. He would take them one by one into a corner of his room, and ask them in a low voice if they had not something to tell him, to ask him. He tried in this way to gain their confidence, to find out if they were happy, what pleased them, or what troubled them. The work of the week was reviewed at a general meeting every Saturday.

The faithful Lisbeth, the brave woman who had brought Pestalozzi such timely succour in his distress at Neuhof, had followed her master to Yverdun as housekeeper. She had married Krusi's brother, who filled the post of confidential servant at the institute.

She had brought with her to Yverdun the economical and culinary habits of German-Switzerland, which were somewhat too simple and primitive to suit the tastes of the people she had come amongst. The food, however, though not very delicately prepared, was plain, wholesome, and

abundant, and the meals, as is customary in Germany,


At seven o'clock, after the first lesson, the pupils washed in the courtyard. The water, pumped from the well, ran through a long pipe with holes on both sides, from which each child received a pure, fresh stream, jugs and basins being unknown. After this came breakfast, consisting of soup. Lessons began again at eight. At ten came an interval, when any one who was hungry could get dried fruit and bread from the housekeeper. At mid-day there was an hour's recreation for bathing or prisoner's-base on the grass behind the lake. At one o'clock dinner of soup, meat, and vegetables. Lessons again from half-past one till half-past four. Then the afternoon meal, either of cheese, fruit, or bread and butter. Each could take his share away with him, and eat it where he liked during the play-hour, which lasted till six o'clock, and which was passed, when the weather was fine, either behind the lake or in the large garden adjoining the Castle, where every child had his own little plot. From six to eight more lessons, and then supper,

which was much the same as dinner.

When we consider the material conditions of the life of the masters in the Yverdun institute, we can have no doubt either of their devotion to Pestalozzi and his work or of the lofty and disinterested motives which first attracted them to him, and then kept them with him. Their lodging was even more primitive than their living. Some of the oldest of them lived outside the Castle, but the rest had not even a private room, and when they wanted to work alone, were obliged to construct little wooden cabins in the upper, uninhabited storeys of the round towers that crowned the four corners of the old building.

Pestalozzi's rooms were on the second floor of the north front. He often invited the masters there to take coffee with him, and not infrequently held receptions in the evening, to which some of the pupils were asked, and where occasionally townspeople or visitors might be seen. His wife did the honours with a pleasing and touching grace. Although still delicate from the hardships she had suffered at Neuhof, she had preserved all her freshness of imagination, as well as a certain poetical feeling, and this made her a most pleasant centre of conversation.

« ForrigeFortsæt »