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PESTALOZZI AT STANZ.
Swiss Revolution: the hopes it awakens in Pestalozzi. His political pamphlets. He is appointed chief editor of the "Popular Swiss News," the organ of the Government. The Directory orders the formation of an Educational Institution to be managed by Pestalozzi. Revolt of the small cantons. Disaster at Stanz. The Directory founds a Home for Orphans there under the management of Pestalozzi. Great difficulties. Astonishing success. Return of the French troops to Stanz. The orphanage wanted for a hospital. Pestalozzi ill. Goes away to the Gurnigel. His letter to Gessner on his work at Stanz. Pedagogical results of this experiment.
PESTALOZZI'S correspondence with Fellenberg has shown us how much he dreaded the intervention of France in the home affairs of Switzerland; but in the beginning of 1798 this intervention was an accomplished fact, and the young republic, scarcely recovered from the bloody convulsions of its birth, set to work to refashion its elder sister, Switzerland, in its own image.
The principles of 1789 having penetrated into most of the cantons, and divided the country, resistance was easily overcome, and the ancient structure which for four centuries had safeguarded the independence of the confederated states, crumbled and fell, carrying with it, however, oligarchical governments, family and local privileges, and a host of rights, customs and prejudices that had considerably interfered with the liberty and equality of the citizens. The Swiss Republic, one and indivisible, was now proclaimed, under the government of a Directory of five members.
In the meantime Pestalozzi had become somewhat re conciled to the intervention he had so much dreaded.
The real progress and great moral regeneration that now seemed in store for his country made him forget all the harm done to Switzerland by the presence of foreign armies, and by the irritation that resulted from the conflict of so many different ideas, feelings, and interests. He firmly believed that the reforms so often asked for in vain by many of the wisest and noblest men, were at last about to be realized, that he would be able henceforth to sow his ideas in a fruitful soil from which all obstacles had been removed, and that the efforts of the new rulers, who cared for nothing but the well-being and happiness of the people, were destined to meet with complete success. Carried away by his enthusiasm, he already seemed to see the simplicity, purity, and loyalty of former times reviving under this new breath of liberty.
Thoroughly convinced of the benefits that were to result from the new order of things, Pestalozzi at once became one of its most zealous supporters; and between the spring and autumn of 1798 published in quick succession a number of political pamphlets bearing the following titles:
a. "A Word to the Legislative Councils of Helvetia." b. "On Tithes."
c. "Awake, People of Helvetia!"
d. "To my Country."
To the People of Helvetia."
f. "An Appeal to the Inhabitants of the old Democratic Cantons."
g. "On the Present and Future of Humanity."
The first of these pamphlets, however, was condemned by the very party for whom it was written, and for no other reason than that it vehemently opposed a scheme that had been adopted by the Great Council for indemnifying, at the expense of the oligarchies, certain patriots who had been prosecuted for their attacks on the old order of things. In all these writings, indeed, Pestalozzi advocated union, harmony, and forgetfulness of the past. Nor was he satisfied with merely seeking to reconcile to the new constitution those who were still hostile to it, but exhorted the governing bodies to establish justice and morality, stimulate activity throughout the country, encourage all industries,
and above all help on in every possible way the education of the people.
But his publications were hardly looked at by the people to whom they were addressed, and exercised little or no influence.
It is doubtful indeed whether they would have exercised much influence, in any case, for their author does not betray any very great practical sense. The fact is that Pestalozzi, as the Germans used to say, "understood man better than men."
Before very long, Pestalozzi's influence as a political writer was still further lessened in a way which we must now explain. In June, 1798, the Great Council asked the Directory to publish a newspaper for the purpose of meeting the opposition excited by the new state of things, enlightening men's minds, and rallying the people throughout the country round the unitary government. On the 23rd of July, the Directory instructed Stapfer, the Minister of Arts and Sciences, to see that this was done. Stapfer at once applied to Pestalozzi, who, on the 20th of August, accepted the editorship of the new publication. The paper was to be called the Popular Swiss News, was to appear weekly, and was to be sent gratuitously to schoolmasters, ministers of religion, and all government officials, who were instructed to read it and explain it to those about them.
Pestalozzi had help from Hess, Lavater, Füssli, and others, but he wrote most of the paper himself. Having one day asked Zschokke for his collaboration, the latter refused, saying, "A really popular paper ought not to be the organ of the Government, but a perfectly independent publication written in the spirit and language of the people for whom it is intended."
Zschokke was right. The paper was looked upon with suspicion by the opponents of the Republic, and was not read by the common people. After the first nineteen numbers, therefore, the Government suppressed it, "because it was not reaching its end." Pestalozzi, however, had ceased to be the editor some time before, grave events having called him away to work that was far more worthy of him.
As early as May, 1798, Pestalozzi had addressed the following letter to Meyer, the Minister of Justice, in the absence of Stapfer, who was then in Paris:
"Convinced that the country is in urgent need of some improvement in the education and schools of the people, and feeling sure that three or four months' experience would give the most important results, I address myself, in the absence of citizen minister Stapfer, to citizen minister Meyer, to offer through him my services to the country, and to beg him to take the necessary steps with the Directory for the accom plishment of my patriotic purpose.
"With republican greeting,
"Aarau, the 21st May, 1798."
This offer was accepted, and Stapfer, on his return to Aarau, at once opened negotiations with Pestalozzi. The minister was inclined to begin by establishing a training school for country schoolmasters, and putting Pestalozzi at its head, but the latter declared that he was particularly anxious to test his method with children, and showed Stapfer a plan for a poor school, such as he had attempted to establish at Neuhof, and had described in Leonard and Gertrude. The minister proposed the execution of this plan to the Directory in a long report from which we can only give a few extracts.
After pointing out the necessity for an entire reorganization of public education, the report continues:
"Thanks to a distinguished patriot, your minister is in a position to do this. Citizen Pestalozzi has submitted to me a plan for an educational establishment, suited not only to the needs and resources of our own time, but to the nature of men and citizens in general. The mere name of the author is enough in itself. He is a man who in his excellent and popular works has given the greatest proofs of capacity, whose disinterested activity for the country both before and after the Revolution is well known, whose opinions have received the unanimous approval of the most enlightened men and noblest princes of our time, and who longs, by a thoroughly efficient system of popular education, to give dignity to our political reform, and provide it with a solid guarantee of duration and strength.
"I might here call attention to the many advantages that
would be likely to result from listening to the advice of such a man, but I will content myself with one observation. Although this indefatigable patriot has been praised on all sides, and has seen his ideas partially applied in many parts of Germany, nothing has as yet been done in his own country, where he himself would have worked for the success of each establishment, where he would have been sure of finding active collaborators, and where he would have given the world an example of the realization of his views. He is already fighting against old age, but the hope of obtaining aid from an enlightened magistracy in carrying out his heart's desire for his country and humanity, fills him once more with the courage and strength of youth. Your minister hopes, citizen directors, that the honour of rewarding him with the realization of his plans for the happiness of the country has been reserved for you."
The report then proceeds to prove:
1. That Pestalozzi's proposal satisfies all the requirements of education in general, and of public education in particular.
2. That it in no way endangers the unity and uniformity of the educational establishments of the republic, and constitutes no sort of privilege.
3. That it satisfies the requirements of the most rigid
It closes with the following suggestion:
PROPOSED FORM OF DECREE.
1. The Directory hereby assures citizen Pestalozzi of its high appreciation of the many proofs he has given of his patriotism, disinterestedness, and activity in all that concerns the welfare of his country and fellow-citizens.
2. The Minister of Arts and Sciences is authorized to allow citizen Pestalozzi the sum of one hundred and twenty pounds, to be payable in such instalments and at such times as shall be agreed upon.
3. The Minister will settle with citizen Pestalozzi as to the place where an educational establishment shall be founded, and as to the number of masters, pupils, etc.
4. On receiving the Minister's report, the Directory will