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§ 1. Qui facit per alium facit per se. It is thus the law holds us accountable for the action of others which we direct. By the extension of this rule we immensely increase the personality of great writers and may credit them with vast spheres of action which never come within their consciousness. No man gains and suffers more from this consideration than Rousseau. On the one hand, we may attribute to him the crimes of Robespierre and Saint-Just; on the other Pestalozzi was instigated by him to turn to farming and-education.
In treating of Rousseau as an educational reformer I passed over a life in which almost every incident tends to weaken the effect of his words. With Pestalozzi we must turn to his life for the true source of his writings and the best comment on them.
§ 2. John Henry Pestalozzi was born at Zurich in 1746. His father dying when he was five years old, he was brought up with a brother and sister by a pious and self-denying mother and by a faithful servant "Babeli," who had com. forted the father in his last hours by promising to stay with his family. Thus Pestalozzi had an advantage denied to Rousseau and denied as it would seem to Locke; there
His childhood and student-life.
was scope for his home affections, and the head was not developed before the heart. When he was sent to a dayschool he became to some extent the laughing stock of his companions who dubbed him Harry Oddity of Foolborough ; but he gained their good-will by his unselfishness. It was remembered that on the shock of an earthquake when teachers and taught fled from the school building Harry Oddity was induced to go back and bring away what his companions considered precious. His holidays he spent with his grandfather the pastor of a village some three miles from Zurich, where the lad learnt the condition of the rural poor and saw what a good man could do for them. He always looked back to these visits as an important element in his education. "The best way for a child to acquire the fear of God," he wrote, "is for him to see and hear a true Christian." The grandfather's example so affected him that he wished to follow in his steps, and he became a student of theology.*
§ 3. Even as a student Pestalozzi proved that he was no ordinary man. In his time there was great intellectual and moral enthusiasm among the students of the little Swiss University. Some distinguished professors, especially Bodmer, had awakened a craving for the old Swiss virtues of plain living and high thinking; and a band of students, among whom Lavater was leader and Pestalozzi played a prominent part, became eager reformers. The citizens of the great towns like Geneva and Zurich had become ineffect privileged classes; and as their spokesmen the Geneva magistrates condemned the Contrat Social and the Emile.
* In these visits he observed how the children suffered from working in factories. These observations influenced him in after years.
A Radical Student.
This raised the indignation of the reforming students at Zurich; and though their organ, a periodical called the Memorial, kept clear of politics, one Muller wrote a paper which contained some strong language, and this was held to be proof of a conspiracy. Muller fled and was banished. Pestalozzi and some other of his friends were imprisoned. The Memorial was suppressed.
§ 4. It is in this Memorial, a weekly paper edited by Lavater who was five years Pestalozzi's senior that we have Pestalozzi's earliest writing. We find him coming forward as "a man of aspirations." No one he says can object to his expressing his wishes. And "wishes" with a man of 19 are usually hopes. Among other wishes he says: "I would that some one would draw up in a simple manner a few principles of education intelligible to everybody; that some generous people would then share the expense of printing, so that the pamphlet might be given to the public for nothing or next to nothing. I would then have clergymen distribute it to all fathers and mothers, so that they might bring up their children in a rational and Christian manner. But," he adds, "perhaps this is asking too much at a time."
The Memorial was suppressed because "the privileged classes knew that it was in the hands of their opponents. Pestalozzi then and always felt keenly the oppression to which the peasants were exposed; and he spoke of "the privileged" as men on stilts who must descend among the people before they could secure a natural and firm position. He also satirises them in some of his fables, as, e.g., that of the "Fishes and the Pike." "The fishes in a pond brought an accusation against the pike who were making great ravages among them. The judge, an old pike, said
Turns farmer. Bluntschli's warning.
that their complaint was well founded, and that the defendants, to make amends, should allow two ordinary fish every year to become pike."
§ 5. By this time Pestalozzi had given up theology and had taken to the law. Now under the influence of Rousseau, or rather of the craving for a simple “natural” life which found its most eloquent expression in Rousseau's writing, Pestalozzi made a bonfire of his MSS. and decided on becoming a farmer.
§ 6. There was another person concerned in this decision. In his childhood he had one day ventured into the shop of one of the leading tradesmen, Herr Schulthess, bent on procuring for his farthings some object of delight; but he found there a little shop-keeper, Anna Schulthess, seven years his senior, who discouraged his extravagance and persuaded him to keep his money. Anna and he since those days had become engaged-not at all to the satisfaction of her parents. Their intimacy had been strengthened by their concern for a common friend, a young man named Bluntschli, who died of consumption. This friend, three years older than Pestalozzi, seems to have understood him thoroughly; and in the parting advice he gave him there was a warning which happily for the general good was in after years neglected. "I am going," said Bluntschli, "and you will be left alone. Avoid any career in which you might become the victim of your own goodness and trust, and choose some quiet life in which you will run no risk. Above all, do not take part in any important undertaking without having at your side a man who by his cool judgment, knowledge of men and things, and unshakable fidelity may be able to protect you from the dangers to which you will be exposed."
New ideas in farming. A love-letter.
§ 7. When the friendship with Anna Schulthess had ripened into a betrothal Pestalozzi spent a year in the neighbourhood of Bern learning farming under a man then famous for his innovations. His new ideas Pestalozzi absorbed very readily. "I had come to him," he says, a political visionary, though with many profound and correct attainments, views, and anticipations in matters political. I went away from him just as great an agricultural visionary, though with many enlarged and correct ideas and intentions with regard to agriculture."
§ 8. During his "learning year" he kept up a correspondence with his betrothed, and the letters of both, which have been preserved, differ very widely from love-letters in general. Of himself Pestalozzi gives an account which shows that in part at least he could see himself as others saw him. "Dearest," he writes, "those of my faults which appear to me most important in relation to the situation in which I may be placed in after-life are improvidence, incautiousness, and a want of presence of mind to meet unexpected changes in my prospects. Of my great, and indeed very reprehensible negligence in all matters of etiquette, and generally in all matters which are not in themselves of importance, I need not speak; anyone may see them at first sight of me. I also owe you the open confession, my dear, that I shall always consider my duties toward my beloved partner subordinate to my duties towards my country; and that, although I shall be the tenderest husband, nevertheless, I hold myself bound to be inexorable to the tears of my wife if she should ever attempt to restrain me by them from the direct performance of my duties as a citizen, whatever this must lead to. My wife shall be the confidante of my heart, the partner of all