« ForrigeFortsæt »
THE BENEVOLENT SCHOOLMASTER.
HE man, the story of whose life we are now about to relate, may with truth be called the
children's friend, the poor man's protector, the father of the abandoned and of the suffering. Heinrich Pestalozzi first saw the light of day at Zurich, on 12th January 1746. His father was an oculist in that town, whose ancestors, some centuries before, had emigrated thither from the Italian Switzerland; they had attained to considerable influence and dignity in Zurich, and were distinguished by that thorough integrity, which was the special characteristic of the Swiss in those days.
Heinrich was the second child of his parents. had a brother older, and a sister younger, than himself. From the cradle he was weak and delicate, but his feelings were easily excited, his affections were warm, his tastes and inclinations were strongly marked, and rapidly developed themselves. When he was only
four years old he had the misfortune to lose his father. He never forgot the beautiful hymn which he heard sung at his father's grave. So deep an impression did it make upon him, that he henceforth regarded music as something sacred. A thorough sense of honour and strict conscientiousness, Heinrich Pestalozzi inherited from his father, his deeply loving spirit from his mother. Of both parents he always spoke with reverence and admiration. His mother's great failing seems to have been an ignorance of economy and of household management, which, as we shall see, her son unfortunately inherited.
When Pestalozzi's father felt that he must soon die and leave his family in want and without a protector, he sent for a faithful maid-servant, who had been for several years in the family, and said to her: "Babeli, for God's sake, and for pity's sake, do not forsake my wife; when I am dead she will be ruined, and my children will fall into strange hard hands, unless through your assistance she succeeds in keeping them together." Babeli promised the dying man, “I won't forsake your wife if you die. I will remain with her till death, if she has need of me."
These high-spirited words comforted the dying father, and he closed his eyes in peace.
Babeli kept her word; she remained with Pestalozzi's mother till her death. She helped to educate the three poor orphans through all the want and distress the family had to endure, and she did so with a prudence, perseverance, and circumspection, which
was all the more praiseworthy from the fact that this poor girl had, without any previous instruction, come from a humble village cottage to the town. "Her great fidelity," said Pestalozzi, "was the fruit of her lofty, simple, and pious faith."
She required the strictest economy.
children wanted to run about in the street, Babeli would keep them back with the words: "Why will you uselessly spoil your clothes and wear out your shoes? Look how your mother is denying herself for you, never spending a farthing, but sparing all for your education." This kind of bringing up had an injurious effect on Pestalozzi; he was kept too much at home, too much tied to his mother's apron-strings. "Year after year, I scarcely ever left the chimney corner," he says, "and all the means and attractions for the development of manly vigour, of manly experiences, and manly exercises, entirely failed me."
Notwithstanding all this pinching and thrift, Pestalozzi's mother was very liberal in giving away Christmas and New Year's presents. The children were always provided with very neat Sunday clothes, which, however, they usually had to take off when they came home, that they might last all the longer.
Strange and foreign as the world and real human life remained to the boy, yet that deep inward love, that uncommon devotion to his mother, that earnest taste for quiet family life, which formed so prominent a feature in Pestalozzi's character, developed themselves all the more strongly in his nature. That conquest over
self, which stood out so grandly in all his subsequent actions, and guided all his endeavours, was kindled in him by the self-denying fidelity of Babeli, the poor maid-servant.
Naturally enough, when such a boy as this went to school, he was the butt and laughing-stock of all his comrades. He was the most awkward and helpless in all games, and yet he was ambitious, and always over-estimating his powers and talents. In his studies he was wonderfully quick in some things; he one day translated from the Greek some of Demosthenes' orations with so much fire and taste that, at the examination, they met with general approval, and were afterwards printed in a newspaper. In this instance his feelings were touched, but he often neglected to master those fundamental principles, by which alone a science can really be put in practice; he found, for example, the rules of writing and spelling so difficult, that he never thoroughly learned them during his whole life.
Most of his school-fellows loved him for his good nature and obliging disposition. On 19th December 1755, Switzerland was visited by a severe earthquake. The scholars of the Latin school in Zurich, among whom was Heinrich Pestalozzi, fled in terror from their classes down the steps into the courtyard. When they began to recover from their fright, they consulted on the least dangerous way of recovering possession of their books and caps. To enter the schoolhouse, whose walls were cracked and tottering,