« ForrigeFortsæt »
Her obsequies took place on the 16th. The first thing in the morning the coffin was placed in the chapel. The whole of the household had assembled there, and were singing a funeral hymn, when the unhappy old man entered. As soon as the singing had ceased, he approached the coffin, and, addressing himself to his faithful companion as if she could still hear him, passed in review their forty-five years of companionship, so full of labours, trials, and disasters, dwelling particularly on the many sacrifices she had made and the many sufferings she had endured for him and through his fault. After speaking of the time when, "forsaken and scoffed at by everybody, and weighed down by misery and disease," they had eaten their "dry bread with bitter tears," he added: "What, in those days of affliction, gave us the strength to bear our troubles and recover hope?" and, seizing a Bible which was near him, he drew still nearer the body, crying: "This is the source whence you drew, whence we both drew, courage, strength, and peace!"
The coffin was then closed, and carried, followed by all the household and a large concourse of the inhabitants of Yverdun, to the farthest end of the garden, where, in accordance with Mrs. Pestalozzi's express desire, a grave had been dug between two walnut trees. At the tomb
there was singing by the boys and girls, and a prayer by Niederer, who also preached the sermon on their return to the chapel. The ceremony ended with Klopstock's beautiful hymn: The Song of Triumph of Christian Hope.
Pestalozzi's grief was profound; for a long time he would go stealthily out at night, when all were asleep, and pray and weep under the walnut trees, on the marble slab engraved with his wife's name, and the dates of her birth and death.1 And he had reason to lament her who so long had been his support, his adviser, and his good angel; for now that she was gone, he was to be buffeted by the winds of adversity, like a ship without a rudder.
Pestalozzi, however, was strangely impressionable, and when once possessed by his favourite idea of elevating the lower classes, he forgot everything else. Some short time after the death of his wife, one of his old pupils, deeply moved by his loss, came to see him. After a few words
1 The reniains of Mrs. Pestalozzi now lie in the cemetery of Yverdun.
on the painful subject of the visit, the old man began to speak of his new plans and new hopes for his success of his method, and before long, carried away by his illusions and enthusiasm, he cried excitedly: "I am swimming in a sea of joy!"
The year 1816 opened very sadly for Pestalozzi, and it was destined to be a disastrous one. The old man looked upon Schmidt more and more as his only means of salvation, and was prepared to sacrifice everything to keep him, but as he could only keep him by allowing him to have his own way, he ceased any longer to have a will of his own.
From this time, Schmidt, certain of his power, cared little how he acted. He suppressed the meetings of the masters, and gave his own orders in Pestalozzi's name. He was a
tall man, rather slim, but strong and sinewy; his dark face, with its eagle eyes, had an expression of impassible severity; he was feared no less than Pestalozzi was beloved, and yet he exercised considerable influence over many of the scholars. He moved about the house with a high head and a proud gait, as if to impress upon everybody that he was the master.
To show the progress he had made since his arrival at Yverdun, we may mention an incident which occurred in 1805, and which was told us by an eye-witness. In those days, Schmidt was very careless of his appearance, and amongst other things wore a cap which was no longer presentable. One day, during a lesson that he was giving to the children, de Muralt entered the class, and seeing the dirty cap on a form, threw it out of the window into the The grave is on the left as you enter the cemetery. The following inscription has been added to the first:
The Worthy Wife
The friend of the poor,
The benefactor of the people,
The reformer of education.
His close partner for forty-six years in his work
blessed and venerated memory.
On the 11th of August, 1866, her mortal remains, which had been resting in the garden of the Castle, were religiously removed to this place by the municipality of Yverdun.
river which ran under the walls of the Castle. The pupils all laughed, but Schmidt did not take the least offence.
The man's overbearing manners, however, made it impossible for the old friends of Pestalozzi to remain in the institute. Ramsauer left him in the early spring of 1816. For a long time he had refused the most brilliant offers rather than leave his benefactor, and it was only after having been completely thrust aside by Schmidt that he decided to accept one of three proposals that had just been made to him.
The coadjutors formed by Pestalozzi were, in general, as disinterested as himself, and had as little idea of the value of money, often refusing very good offers for the sake of retaining their modest and laborious positions, save when the master himself, with a view to spreading his method of education, encouraged them to leave.
Pestalozzi had always clung to the hope of founding a new school for the poor, and had relied upon Ramsauer to direct it; indeed, ever since 1807, he had made him learn several handicrafts for that very purpose. But, strangely enough, this poor, neglected child, who had been so carefully trained to educate other poor children, was finally to become the tutor of the princes and princesses of Oldenburg.
One of the heaviest losses Pestalozzi had to endure was that of his faithful housekeeper, Lisbeth Krusi, the woman to whom he owed so much. Schmidt was anxious to effect certain reforms in the housekeeping, which were no doubt necessary, and which old Lisbeth was probably incapable of carrying out. But, at any price, some quiet and comfortable position in the house ought to have been found for her. It would appear that nothing of the sort was done, for she insisted on leaving. She had lost her husband many years before, and had an only son, who was an idiot. Thus this heroic woman, who had saved Pestalozzi and his family at Neuhof, and who had served as a type for the character of Gertrude, went away from Yverdun with her child, and ended her days in the poor-house of her husband's parish, at Gais.
Under the new housekeeper, Miss Ray, of Grandson, the living became somewhat less coarse and a little more varied, the soup and fruit being replaced at times by coffee, choco
late, and other delicacies. At the same time anything like prodigality was carefully avoided. But for all this, alas! the financial position was none the better.
Towards the end of 1816, the German masters in the institute resolved to celebrate the triumph of German independence. On the 18th of October, after dinner, they marched to the hill called "The Duke of Burgundy," where, according to tradition, Charles the Bold had fixed his tent and camp during the battle of Grandson. There they lighted a large fire, sang German hymns, and drank wine, remaining until night-fall.
Pestalozzi, who was one of the party, was full of spirits and mirth, but what he celebrated was not the triumph of one nation over another, but the despot Napoleon's fall that had set so many nations free. Ackermann, to whom we owe the details of this little episode, tells us that at that time the remains of the outer walls of the camp were still to be seen, and that he himself climbed to the top of the ruins and proposed a toast "To the liberty of the whole human race," to which about thirty people drank with a triple round of hurrahs.
In a very short time it was the German masters who could no longer bear Schmidt's supremacy; they felt that he was perverting the spirit of Pestalozzi's institution and injuring his reputation. They therefore resolved to lay their complaints and fears before Pestalozzi in a joint letter, which was drawn up by Blochmann, and signed by sixteen masters, under-masters, and student-teachers.
Those who had signed the letter were one evening summoned to the old man's bedside. Schmidt was already there, and proceeded to read his written defence, after which, as the complainants were neither satisfied nor reassured, Pestalozzi declared that he would rather see them all go than restrict in any way the power of the only man who was capable of saving him. A most painful scene then occurred, the old man at one moment deploring the decay of his institute and asking for everybody's support, at another, seizing Schmidt's hand and calling him his saviour and guardian angel. But as Schmidt remained inflexible, it was impossible to come to an understanding, and in the following spring all the Germans left Yverdun.
Later on Blochmann acknowledged, in a really Christian
spirit, that wounded pride had something to do with the determination taken by his colleagues and himself, and that their clear duty was to remain and suffer.
Certain children of the neighbourhood, of families in needy circumstances, that is, had formerly been received gratuitously into Pestalozzi's establishment, where they had in time become under-masters. These men, with a few newcomers, now did their best to replace the masters who had left; the teaching, however, suffered considerably. Niederer and Krusi were almost the only good masters that remained with Schmidt, but soon even their position became almost unbearable. Krusi, simple-minded and modest, gentle and affectionate, groaned in secret, but suffered everything without complaining. Niederer, on the other hand, could not submit to this new state of things, and was continually at strife with Schmidt, the animosity between them becoming more and more violent every day.
Meanwhile the financial position of the institute was going from bad to worse. At the pressing solicitation of Jullien, some experienced and honourable merchants of the town had consented to come once a week to examine the books and accounts; but their obliging intervention could only confirm the existence of the evil, not cure it. In that year of rain and floods, there was a dearth in the country, and food had risen considerably in price. Pestalozzi decided therefore to raise the school-fees; but even then he could not meet the increased expenditure, although the number of his pupils was rapidly falling off.
It was at this juncture that Schmidt conceived the idea of publishing, by subscription, a new edition of Pestalozzi's works, as a means of raising the money of which the institute stood so much in need. To this scheme he easily induced the old man to consent.
We must here point out that the views of Schmidt and Pestalozzi as to the destination of the funds to be yielded by the subscription were not quite the same.
Schmidt wanted money to repair the finances of the institute and secure its position, not only in the immediate future, but even after Pestalozzi's death. The latter, on the other hand, looked forward chiefly to at last finding himself in a position to found and establish on a proper basis that school for the poor which had been the dream