Billeder på siden

an account of a visit he paid to Neuhof, in 1780, refers to her in the following terms:

"'I should like,' said Pestalozzi, moved by his gratitude and admiration, 'to give you some idea of this woman's quiet activity, that you may always have a picture of her in your mind. What I am going to say may perhaps seem too strong, and yet I am not ashamed to say it. God's sun pursues its path from morning to evening, yet your eye detects no movement, your ear no sound. Even when it goes down, you know that it will rise again, and continue to ripen the fruits of the earth. Extreme as it may seem, I am not ashamed to say that this is an image of Gertrude, as of every woman who makes her house a temple of the living God, and wins heaven for her husband and children.'1

"I was anxious to see the woman to whom he owed so much. As she did not appear, Pestalozzi took me to the field where she was working, and asked her a few questions, that

might have time to contemplate her. The same evening, he said, 'Knowing all she does for us, you will not be surprised to hear that she eats at our table. I hope you will not mind her doing so to-night.' But she did not come, and was so unwilling to do so that at last I went myself and begged her to come so earnestly that she could not refuse. Her whole being seemed aglow, if I may say so, with humble modesty."

Fröhlich, of Brugg, who, in his Recollections of Pestalozzi, also speaks of Elizabeth, tells us that the author of Leonard and Gertrude had so much confidence in her judgment, that he often read her passages from his writings, especially those which portrayed character, for the sake of having her opinion.

Ramsauer, too, in his letter to Principal Zahn, speaks as follows:

"I knew the housekeeper who was the original of Ger

1 This passage occurs, word for word, in "Leonard and Gertrude."

2 Ramsauer was a poor orphan, who, after having been brought up by Pestalozzi, at Burgdorf, became one of his most distinguished assistants. He was afterwards a fervent Pietist, and the tutor of the Princesses of Oldenburg.

trude very well, having lived under the same roof with her at Yverdun for eleven years. Pestalozzi said to me one day, 'I know that after my death she will be more honoured than I; indeed, if it were not so, I should turn in my grave and be unhappy in heaven; for, had it not been for her, I should have been dead long ago, and you, Ramsauer, would not have been what you are!' She was certainly a remarkable woman, though entirely without education."

In 1801, Elizabeth, after nursing poor Jacobli like her own son throughout his long illness, married Krusi, the brother of Pestalozzi's indefatigable colleague, and from 1805 filled the post of housekeeper at Yverdun, where she was a general favourite with the pupils.

The material distress from which Elizabeth had rescued Pestalozzi was not, however, the most painful result of his disaster. All hope of carrying out his generous intention seemed gone for ever. He had lost the confidence of his fellow citizens, and people, seeing him pass, exclaimed, as they shrugged their shoulders, "Poor wretch! He is less capable than the most ignorant labourer, and yet he talks of helping the people!" Even his own friends no longer believed in him; they felt, indeed, deep sorrow for him, but avoided meeting him as much as possible, finding it too painful to talk to a man whom they still loved, but whom they could neither help nor console, and who seemed doomed to end his days either in the workhouse or the madhouse.

The unfortunate man suffered still more from the thought of the misery he had brought on his wife, especially when he saw how uncomplaining she was, and how she sought to lighten his troubles by redoubling her attentions and tenderOn one occasion, when Anna and Jacobli had prepared a surprise for him on his birthday, he cried:


"Ah, you do too much; but I am grateful to you for thinking of me. I am deeply grieved that the mistakes of my youth should have brought you to this painful position, and yet I would say, Let us not abandon the struggle we have been engaged in so long, but calmly and firmly carry it on to the end. There is a God above who smooths the difficulties of life for some, but chains others to their misery. How can we fight against the stern decrees of fate better than by

remaining upright and calm amid the storms that surround us?"

Another passage that belongs to this time of misery and humiliation runs thus:

"Christ teaches us by His example and doctrine to sacrifice not only our possessions, but ourselves for the good of others, and shows us that nothing we have received is absolutely ours, but is merely entrusted to us by God to be piously employed in the service of charity."

It was thus that he acted, the noble-hearted man, and one cannot help wondering whether the Puritan theologians who attacked him for heterodoxy were better Christians than he?

It was Elizabeth who bad rescued Pestalozzi and his family from destitution, but it was Iselin who now inspired him with fresh courage to pursue his work, that work which the world thought finished, but which in reality had hardly begun.

[ocr errors]




Iselin inspires him with new courage, and urges him to write. The Evening Hour of a Hermit." First volume of "Leonard and Gertrude.' "The Education of Children in the Home." The continuation of "Leonard and Gertrude." Relations with Leopold of Tuscany and Joseph II. of Austria. "The Sumptuary Laws." Christopher and Eliza." "On Legislation and Infanticide." "The Swiss News." Obliged to work on his land for a living. His unpublished manuscript on "The Causes of the French Revolution." Correspondence with Nicolovius and Fellenberg; relations with Fichte. "An Inquiry into the Course of Nature in the Development of the Human Race." Merit as a writer.

THE failure of the undertaking at Neuhof had not changed Pestalozzi's belief in the possibility of raising the people by education, but it had for the time deprived him of all means of putting his ideas into execution. His dejection was so great as to affect his health, and almost to endanger his life.

But although the experiment had not succeeded, Iselin still believed in the excellence of the idea which had prompted it. He accordingly came to Pestalozzi, and sought to rouse him from his despair by offering to help him bring before the public the views he had been unable to carry out.

After Iselin's death, Pestalozzi thus expressed his admiration and gratitude for his lost benefactor:

"He was a man to the end; whatever was human attracted him, and he had moreover a wonderful faculty for finding it out, wherever and under whatever mask it lay concealed. It was in this way that, at the end of his life, he discovered me, bringing me warm-hearted encouragement at a time when others shrugged their shoulders as I passed, and those who

loved me could but groan at the mention of my name. It was then that this man came to me with smiles and comfort, this man who was at once my father, master, helper and deliverer."

Pestalozzi's experiments, which had now lasted five years, had taught him much; always in contact with the children of the people he wanted to save, he had seen them just as they were; by his steady work, varied experiences, and persistent efforts, he had got to the heart of the question he wanted to solve; his very errors, by bringing new light, had only strengthened him in his convictions. As he himself


"Even while I was the sport of men who condemned me, I never lost sight for a moment of the object I had in view which was the removal of the causes of the misery that Í saw on all sides of me. My strength, too, kept on increasing, and my own misfortunes taught me valuable truths. I knew the people as no one else did. What deceived no one else always deceived me, but what deceived everybody else deceived me no longer.

"I say to-day, with deep gratitude to God, that it is my own sufferings that have enabled me to understand the sufferings of the people and their causes, as no man without suffering can understand them. I suffered what the people suffered, and saw them as no one else saw them, and, strange as it may seem, I was never more profoundly convinced of the fundamental truths on which I had based my undertaking than when I saw that I had failed!" 1

The speedy and complete ruin of his work at Neuhof, though sad in many ways, was on the whole a good thing both for Pestalozzi and the world. For if it had been at all successful, this man, in his efforts to be a father to the fatherless, would have worn himself out in a sphere of activity which was not his true vocation, and for which he had little capacity, and education perhaps would still be awaiting its reformer.

Not being in a position to make any more practical experiments, but being very anxious to put his ideas before the

Letter to Gessner, dated Burgdorf, 1801.

« ForrigeFortsæt »