« ForrigeFortsæt »
principal street of the little town, and when everything was prepared, although there was thick snow on the ground, took the old man there, well wrapped up, in a closed sledge. This was on the 15th of February, 1827.
The next day Mr. Lippe arrived from Lenzburg to see his old friend, but found him unconscious. In the morning a paroxysm of frightful pain had been followed by delirium, which had ceased about noon, since when he had not spoken.
By four o'clock the next morning the crisis was past, and the old man regained consciousness. He seemed easy and composed, helped to arrange his bed, and talked to those about him for nearly an hour.
"My children," he said, "you cannot carry out my work, but you can do good to those about you, you can give land to the poor to cultivate. As for me, I am soon to read in the book of truth. I forgive my enemies; may they find peace, even as I am now about to find the peace which is eternal. I should have been glad to live six weeks longer to finish my writing, and yet I thank God for taking me away from this earthly life. You, my children, remain quietly at Neuhof, and look for your happiness in your home." 1
About six o'clock Doctor Stæbli arrived. There was no fever, no pain, but he saw that the end was near; indeed, little more than an hour afterwards, Pestalozzi, with a smile on his lips, quietly breathed his last. "He seemed to be smiling at the angel who had come to fetch him," was the testimony of those who were present. His grandson's wife had watched over him tenderly to the last.
Pestalozzi's great-grandson, Colonel Charles Pestalozzi, of the Zurich Polytechnic School, who at this time was not more than three years old, relates that he has often heard his mother talk of his great-grandfather's last days. Always kind and thoughtful, patient when suffering most keenly, cheerful and affectionate the moment he was free from pain, grateful for the least attention, and calmly happy even at the moment of death, he had borne his sufferings with a fortitude that she never wearied of recalling.
1 Several biographers place this speech before the removal from Neuhof. It is an open question. We have taken the view which seemed, after careful investigation, to be the best.
On the 19th, the mortal remains of the great philosopher and philanthropist were committed to the ground in the village of Birr, near Neuhof. The news of his death had scarcely reached Aarau, and people did not expect the interment to take place so soon; the communications, moreover, were almost interrupted by the snow. The consequence was that many who loved and respected Pestalozzi were absent from the ceremony, though the inhabitants of the neighbourhood were there in great numbers.
The coffin was borne by schoolmasters, and was followed by Gottlieb and a few relations and friends, villagers and children being the only other mourners. As this simple procession entered the churchyard, it was met by some eighty village schoolmasters of the district chanting a psalm. In the course of his address, Pastor Steiger said: "If ever Pestalozzi was truly great, it was in his last days. Why could we not all be witnesses of his patience and resignation, of the calm trust with which he relinquished the world and all his earthly hopes?" The simple, touching ceremony closed with a hymn that had been expressly composed for the occasion by Pastor Froehlich.
When Pestalozzi had been asked what sort of monument should be raised to him, he had replied: "A rough, unhewn stone, such as I myself have always been." He had asked to be buried at Birr, near the school, without pomp, and followed by children and peasants. This last wish at least had been fulfilled. His grave was in a narrow strip of the churchyard, lying between the church and the school, and for nineteen years was marked by a single rose-tree. As it had then become necessary to rebuild the school, the Great Council of Aargau, feeling that the country still owed a debt to the memory of its immortal benefactor, decided to honour him by some more fitting memorial. A side of the new school was chosen for the purpose, and as the buildings still adjoined the churchyard, although a new grave was necessary, it was only a few steps distant from the old one.
The inauguration took place on the 12th of January, 1846, the hundredth anniversary of Pestalozzi's birth, in the presence of delegates from the Council of Public Instruction, the various school-commissions, and many other public bodies. A great crowd of other people were also present. The singing of several choral societies alternated with the
sound of the church bells, whilst the coffin was being raised from its original resting-place, and lowered, covered with wreaths, into the new tomb.1
The memorial is plain and suitable: above the grave is a paved space enclosed by an iron railing, and in the middle of the wall a niche containing the bust of Pestalozzi, be low which is the following inscription:
HENRY PESTALOZZI ;
Born at Zurich, the 12th of January, 1746,
Saviour of the poor at Neuhof, at Stanz the father of orphans, at Burgdorf and Munchenbuchsee founder of the popular school, at Yverdun the educator of humanity; man. Christian, and citizen. All for others, nothing for himself, Peace to his ashes.
TO OUR FATHER PESTALOZZI
1 The same day witnessed the inauguration of a still worthier memorial to this faithful friend of the poor.
Pestalozzi's friends had thought that the best way of celebrating his jubilee would be to found at last at Neuhof the poor-school he had so long dreamed of. A printed appeal, circulated in Switzerland and abroad, had at once brought in a considerable sum of money, but unfortunately this first generous impulse had soon been checked by the political and religious discords which were at that time troubling the Confederation. Not being in a position then to purchase Neuhof, the committee had been obliged to begin operations on some land at Olsberg, near Rheinfelden, the property of the State. There, under the name of the Pestalozzi Foundation, a poor-school was established for children of both sexes, with separate divisions for Catholics and Protestants. It has lately been proposed to enlarge this foundation by the addition of a training-school for forming teachers for similar institutions, and of an establishment for reforming vicious children.
French Switzerland ought also to have had her Pestalozzi Foundation. An appeal sent out from Yverdun had been everywhere well received, and success seemed certain; in consequence, however, of the revolution of 1845, and the resignation of the Protestant ministers, party feeling ran so high in the canton that each side, dreading the political and religious tendency of the other, insisted on having the direction of the establishment in its own hands, and this being impossible, the enterprise had to be abandoned.
PESTALOZZI'S LAST WRITINGS.
The "Song of the Swan." The "Experiences of My Life." Discourse read at Langenthal.
WE were unwilling to interrupt the sad story just concluded to speak of the works written by Pestalozzi during the two last years of his life.
The Song of the Swan and the Experiences were originally intended as parts of the same work, but the author soon decided to keep them separate; and it was well that he did so, for the first would certainly have suffered from being connected with the second.
In the life of Pestalozzi by J. Paroz, there is an interesting summary of the Song of the Swan in the form of a discourse supposed to be spoken by Pestalozzi; but any such reconstruction is necessarily too artificial and too arbitrary to leave the reader's judgment thoroughly unbiassed. We think it best not to attempt anything of the sort, but to give the author's principal ideas in his own words. In this way, by a series of quotations, we shall be able to convey some idea of this supreme appeal, addressed by the octogenarian to his contemporaries in vain, but from which posterity may yet profit.
THE SONG OF THE SWAN.1
"For half a century I have been seeking with unwearied activity to simplify the elementary instruction of the people, and find for it such a path as Nature follows in developing and perfecting a man's various powers. During all this time, despite my many weaknesses, I have worked zealously for this one end. My want of skill has indeed often shown
1 In both Cotta's and Seyffarth's editions.
itself in the conception and execution of my enterprises, and has brought upon me endless sorrows; but till now I have borne them with unfailing patience, and without ever interrupting my serious efforts towards my end.
"It is impossible that during such a life I should not have made important experiments in the subject of my investigations, and that I should not have arrived at certain results to which the friends of humanity and education cannot be indifferent.
"I am now eighty years old, an age at which a man is wrong not to think of himself every day as on his death-bed. I have felt this more than ever for some time past, and hence I am unwilling any longer to put off publishing an account of my experiments, an account which will be as clear and precise as I can make it, and will tell not only of what has succeeded, but also of what has failed. This will explain the title of my work.
"Friends of humanity! take it for what it is, and do not expect more literary graces from me than I am able to give. My life has produced nothing complete or perfect, nor can my writing do so either. Such as it is, grant it an attentive examination, and whenever you happen upon a truth that you think likely to benefit mankind, do what you can for it, less for my sake than for that of the end I have in view. Í ask nothing better than to be put on one side, and replaced by others, in all questions that others understand better than I, so that they may be enabled to serve humanity better than I have ever been able to do.
"I know not if it be necessary to add that a man of my age repeats himself often and deliberately, and that when his end is near, nay, even on his death-bed, he cannot repeat himself enough, nor weary of speaking of what he has in his heart till his last breath. But nobody takes this amiss; most people indeed are touched by it. I hope then that, considering my age and position, I shall be forgiven if in the following pages I repeat myself too often, and forget many important matters which in other circumstances I should not have forgotten.
"As for those who might like to have a more complete knowledge of my educational experiments and institutions, I must beg them to read the history of my undertakings, which is to appear with the present volume."