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more than probable you will survive me, though my doctor assures me there is at present no cause for anxiety; but I do not think my life will pass without important and dangerous undertakings."
In one of Anna's letters we read:
"You might perhaps say that Nature had done little for you, if she had not given you those large dark eyes, which tell of all the goodness of your heart and breadth of your mind."
There was indeed an inexpressible tenderness in Pestalozzi's look, which was sometimes flashing with intelligence and energy, sometimes meditative almost to sadness.
The following letter shows that Anna approved of Pestalozzi's plans for a country life, and also that he was anxious to make this life a basis for some scheme of patriotic philanthropy.
"I am glad to find that you too think life in a town unsuited to the sort of education we think best. My cottage must certainly be far from such a centre of vice and misery. I shall be able to do more for my country in a solitary hut than in the tumult of the city. When I am in the country and see that one of my neighbours who is in want has a child of great promise, I shall take this child by the hand and make a good citizen of him; he will work, he will have enough to eat, and will be happy. And should this young man do a noble action and incur the scorn of those who fear men only, he will find food in my house as long as I have any. I shall take pleasure in drinking nothing but water to give him the milk I prefer, that he may see how much I esteem the nobleness of his character. And then, my beloved, you will be content to see me drinking water only. Is it not true that to help our neighbours we are willing to limit our needs so far as is reasonably possible? How much more I could say about this happy outlook, the joy of having children, the unexpected visits of friends! But I must stop and will only say one thing more: circumstances may some day take me from our fireside; I shall never fail in what a loyal citizen owes to his country. But I know, my beloved, that the fulfilment of any duty is a delight to you."
Anna's parents did not approve of this union; her mother
particularly dreaded the consequences that the enterprising and eager nature of a young man with so little prudence and knowledge of the world might have for her daughter's happiness.
Much as he loved Anna, however, our young reformer would not give up his agricultural projects. Furnished with a letter of introduction from his friend Lavater, he went to Tschiffeli, at Kirchberg, near Berne, who at that time had made a great reputation by his manner of cultivating his land and by the tempting innovations he had introduced, one of the most important of which was madder-growing.
Almost immediately after his arrival, Pestalozzi wrote to Anna thus:
"I am at last settled, and am happier than I ever expected to be. It is the happiest household you can imagine. Tschiffeli, the great agriculturist, is the kindest of fathers. I shall earn farming in all its branches and in all its latest developments. I shall certainly become independent of the whole world."
And a little later:
"Tschiffeli makes up for the loss of all my friends. This profession that I have chosen will enable me to make our home very comfortable, for Tschiffeli, who really makes a great deal of money by his farming, is teaching me his whole system most thoroughly, so that I feel sure of being able to do exactly as he is doing."
Anna Schulthess had four brothers younger than herself; the second, Gaspard, had been intimate with Pestalozzi, and had always known and approved of his love for his sister. Just at this time he was appointed to a pastor's post at Neuchâtel, whither Anna went with him to see him comfortably established in his new home. They passed by Kirchberg to see Pestalozzi, who was of course happy to see Anna again and accompanied them to Neuchâtel. In the course of this journey, the brother and sister introduced their friend to several of their acquaintances, doing their best to make them appreciate his worth; but so unfavourable was the first impression produced by Pestalozzi's appearance, and by the strange ness of his manners, that their trouble was thrown away.
Pestalozzi spent a whole year at Kirchberg, where he was very happy. He took part in all the work of the farm, and was proud of showing his visitors his horny hands and sunbrowned face. His zeal at that time for the improvement of agriculture, was one of those youthful enthusiasms that are always so fruitful of illusions. If the question of making money entered into his thoughts, it was only because it was necessary for him to reassure Anna's parents about his future position.
He had formed plans for a method of cultivation which he expected would be very profitable. Indeed, so confident was he of success that no shadow of doubt ever crossed his mind. He gives Anna all the details of these plans in a letter which is too long to be given in full :
"I shall cultivate nothing but madder and vegetables. Tschiffeli has fifteen acres down in madder and gets wonderful crops. The expenses of growing it will not be higher near Zurich than here, and the soil is much more favourable.
"As madder takes sixteen months to ripen, I shall begin by planting fifteen acres of poor land, which I shall endeavour to improve the first year. If I buy twenty acres of waste land, my third crop of madder ought to repay the purchase money; and then sixteen months later I shall have another crop, and so on. But as I shall have to wait for the madder, I must grow something else for a living in the meantime.
"The best way of getting anything out of the land the first year is to grow vegetables. The method of growing vegetables has undergone improvements of which people in Zurich know nothing, but which I have had explained to me by a very clever gardener here. I have seeds of much better quality than those to be had in our markets, and I have learned how to keep vegetables through the winter so as to be able to sell them in the spring when they are worth twice the money. I shall make good use, too, of the manure that is at present wasted in Zurich, and in this way I shall soon fertilize the very worst land in the district."
After speaking of growing cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, artichokes, etc., and calculating how many plants
will go to the acre, and what yield he will have for the market, Pestalozzi continues:
"I shall limit myself to these two things; I shall have neither meadows, fields, vines nor cattle, nothing but madder and vegetables.
"My one thought, my one occupation all day long, is to it myself for this work I have chosen. Now you know what my plans are. In forming them I have been helped by the eminent agriculturist with whom I am living. Do you not think, beloved, I am right to say that by putting all my strength, all my intelligence and zeal, into this work, I shall be quite able to supply the modest wants of a family living in the country, and living principally on the produce of its own land. But my master and I go farther; we think that in this way I shall not only be able to provide what is absolutely necessary for my family, but be certain of making them a very comfortable home.
"Examine what I have said with the greatest care, beloved, to see whether it is clear and reasonable. In all my plans I have been guided, as you know, by the experience of the great agriculturist Tschiffeli. How happy I shall be if they please you, and satisfy your revered parents!"
Anna was both trustful and hopeful, but her parents' doubts and fears were as strong as ever.
Early in the autumn of 1768, Pestalozzi, full of courage and confidence, came back to Zurich, to find land suitable for his purpose. His choice fell on Letten, in the western part of the plain called Birrfeld, in Aargau. He there purchased, for twenty-three pounds, some fifteen acres of land at the foot of the hill on which Braunegg Castle stands, and between this hill and the village of Birr. This small quantity of land he gradually increased by buying up the neighbouring fields from their peasant owners, till he found himself the master of about a hundred acres; and a Zurich banker having joined in the undertaking and advanced him fifteen hundred pounds, he was at last in a position to put his projects into execution.
As there was no house on the land, he settled temporarily at Muligen, a small village on the left bank of the Reuss, about two miles to the west of Letten. The house he occu
pied was an old mansion, said to have been the ancestral home of some noble family of the district; it now belonged, however, to Mr. Froehlich, of Brugg, a friend of Pestalozzi's, who let him house, barns, and garden, for an almost nominal
His good mother, who divided her attentions between her son and her father-in-law, helped him to get his house o order. The old pastor was still living at Höngg, but had become very infirm. Pestalozzi had once said, speaking of his mother: "If you could only see what she does at Höngg, how she denies herself, and what she bears for our sakes Anna also contributed, though in secret, towards the wants of the new household.
The faithful Babeli had remained in Zurich, and Anna had written about her to Pestalozzi as follows:
"I cannot look upon our good Babeli as a servant, but as a friend. Our first care must be to ensure her a peaceful old age. I chatted with her for an hour, and we paid a visit together to grandpapa. It is astonishing how careful and sensible she is in everything."
Pestalozzi describes his new establishment thus:
"The place I am living in has many charms. My rooms, newly plastered and whitewashed, are pleasant, and will do well enough for the present. The house stands by itself at some little distance from the road, and is very quiet. Our three rooms get the sun at noon and at evening, and the sweetest music from the birds every morning. The water is so pure that there is said to be none like it within thirty miles, and the air is the finest in the world. We are at the foot of a low hill, from the top of which you can see across eighteen miles of plain. The Reuss, very useful for the transport of madder, flows quite near the village. There is a pleasant garden adjoining the house, and even our yard is shaded by fine trees. So much for comfort. What is more important is the advantage that such a position will be to my undertaking; the low price
land, for instance, its suitability for madder-growing, and the ease with which it may be broken up into fields. The whole district is poor, so that labour will be cheap. Indeed, in every respect, I shall have the advantage of