Imágenes de páginas
[blocks in formation]

his nurse.

Here they are suffocated, like flies under the air pump, by the empty vanity of power; and there again they are drowned in the abundance of their wealth, like bees in overflowing honey. A man turns insane, and speaks nonsense, such as was never heard before, and nations prostrate themselves before him, build altars, and learn piety, order, obedience, and humanity, in the worship of a calf, or of the devil. Legions of knaves lurk in the temples of justice like greedy cats before the holes of mice, and for whole centuries my species is contented to be consumed by them.

“ How then shall I find the clue by which I may enter this labyrinth of misery and well-being, of wisdom and folly, of madness and high elevation of mind?

“ Even while he dwells in his cave, there is no equality between man and man; under the roof, behind the brick wall and the bolt, the inequality increases; and, when hundreds and thousands are gathered together, he is compelled, in spite of himself, to say to the strong, ‘Be thou my shield;' and to the cunning, ‘Be thou my guide;' and to the rich, 'Be thou my preserver.'

“This is the origin of power, deeply founded in our nature, and indispensably connected with the development of our species; like the stream which distributes moisture and blessing, when dikes and locks confine it within its due bounds, but when it overflows its borders, and breaks through its limits, lays the country waste; so power is sacred only, when those that hold it, keep faithfully within the bounds assigned to them by the rights of their species.

“ It is not power that causes the corruption of our species, but the person in whose hand the power is, or he who criminally misleads that person. When man cannot rise to the divine virtue of fidelity, when his word is like a reed shaken by the wind, when the possession of power raises him no higher, nor renders him more faithful than the man against whose weakness he has to defend himself, then he destroys with the strength of his arm the rights of mankind, and fattens the earth which he renders desolate, with the blood of those against whom he has violated his own word, and the laws of everlasting justice.

“ But even in the struggle of lies and injustice our species is developed and rises to the feeling of every dignity, and to the possession of every power, that is implanted in human nature.

“Be not troubled, then, while thou hast to sustain the warfare of truth and justice; tremble not when lies conquer; but the more thou seest the brutality of thy species obtain against truth and justice, the more study thou its corruption : and if thou shouldst be ensnared by the bonds of lawlessness, as the fly by the spider's web, learn to die, that thou mayest remain faithful to thyself, and to thy species.

“It is done, alas; the earth is desecrated by the homage paid to profane power by exalted brutality.

[blocks in formation]

“The insane faithlessness of power has stirred up the feelings of selfdefence in the corrupt multitude; and the furious people aim the knife at its guilty throat.

« All the bonds are torn asunder by which power was formerly preserved in a sense of its obligations, under continual temptations to defection and treason.

“ Incalculable is the misery of our superannuated continent. An eternal and unchangeable law turns the balance of mortal existence for ever on the side of animal energies and tendencies; and he who combines with them the advantages of power will ever say to the weaker part of his species: ye are made for my sake! And he plays on their crowded ranks as on the wires of the dulcimer. What is it to him whether the wires break or not, they are only wires; as many as there are men in the land, so many are his wires; as many as break, he throws away, and draws new ones across his damaged instrument; for are they not mere wires ?

.“ Alas they are men! but they grow up in the inexpressible degradation of a flawless servitude like the claws on the paws of a bear; they know not what is the design of the growling animal that rests on them; but they are always ready to assail the entrails of any one against whom he may growl.

“ Alas they are men! and the degradation of this servitude reduces them again to the state in which they were, before they called power into existence, and said to the strong man: Be thou our shield and our king.

“When once power has become unfaithful, and has learnt to palliate the sin of treason by cold unmeaning language, then the law of humanity is departed from the earth.

“ It then says to the weak of our species: This is my law which thou shalt obey. I will sell thee to the kingly nation, which gives me money for thy life and for thy death; beat the drum, and hail the kingly nation that pays so much for human life. Hail the noble race which learns of kings the price of humankind. Hail it with shouts of gratitude, for it directs its golden streams into the bosoms of men-selling rulers, that they, being secured on their thrones, may henceforth offer our species for sale to the men-purchasing island ; that our continent may remain what it is, an old rotten structure, daily menacing a complete ruin, lawless, divided, unassisted, and unassistable; and that no nation on the earth may become as this kingly nation, domineering over the seas, and directing the countries as with leading-strings. It is done! the earth is desecrated by the homage paid to profane power by exalted brutality.

“ If thou find a gem that glitters in the sun, thy tyrant speaks: Thou and thy children shall dwell in eternal night; all your lives you shall seek beneath the earth for brilliant gems.

“ In the depth of the earth, in the horrid darkness of noxious vapours, the injured mother forgets the sun, and the light of day, which she is no longer permitted to behold; she praises the lord who sends her bread in the



abodes of darkness; she thanks him in the foul air which she breathes, for every strengthening draught; she presses the dying heir of her wretched existence, whose features she scarcely can discern, to her bosom, with heartfelt delight; she dutifully rejoices at every gem which she finds, and sends it up to her ruler, who beholds the sun, and enjoys all the pleasures of day.

“ Is she not an angel in the vaults of night? but is our species such an angel?

“ Enthralled by a power which acknowledges no law against itself, man sinks back into all the helplessness and obtuseness of his natural corruption ; and the general spread of Sansculotism leads to the dissolution of the social ties.

“Before this comes to pass, kings grow hardened on their thones like the ancient oak; deep horror hovers round their crowns; they stand isolated like barren rocks surrounded by bottomless precipices; celibatarian monks, and misanthropic bachelors, become the last pillars of the state, till they too begin to give way; and then in the desolation of anarchy, which wanton lawlessness has brought on, nations sink into dissolution as corpses in their graves."

That a man whose imagination was dwelling on images like this, whose eye was turned away from the bright prospects of faith, and exclusively directed to the horrors by which our species has contaminated the earth, should writhe under the keen feeling of human degradation, in which he felt himself involved, is no more than might be expected; and accordingly we find Pestalozzi, at the close of the volume which presents human nature under so gloomy an aspect, giving the following portrait of himself:

“Thousands pass away, as nature gave them birth, in the corruption of sensual gratification, and they seek no more.

“ Tens of thousands are overwhelmed by the burdens of craft and trade; by the weight of the hammer, the ell, or the crown, and they seek no more.

“But I know a man who did seek more; the joy of simplicity dwelt in his heart, and he had faith in mankind such as few men have; his soul was made for friendship, love was his element, and fidelity his strongest tie.

“But he was not made by this world, nor for it; and wherever he was placed in it, he was found unfit.

“And the world that found him thus, asked not whether it was his fault or the fault of another: but it bruised him with an iron hammer, as the bricklayers break an old brick to fill up crevices.

“But though bruised, he yet trusted in mankind more than in himself; and he proposed to himself a great purpose, which to attain he suffered agonies, and learned lessons such as few mortals had learnt before him.



“ He could not, nor would he become generally useful; but for his purpose he was more useful than most men are for theirs; and he expected justice at the hands of mankind, whom he still loved with an innocent love. But he found none. Those that erected themselves into his judges without further examination confirmed the former sentence, that he was generally and absolutely useless.

“This was the grain of sand which decided the doubtful balance of his wretched destinies.

“He is no more; thou wouldst know him no more; all that remains of him are the decayed remnants of his destroyed existence.

“He fell, as a fruit that falls before it is ripe, whose blossom has been nipped by the northern gale, or whose core is eaten out by the gnawing


Stranger that passest by; refuse not a tear of sympathy; even in falling this fruit turned itself towards the stem, on the branches of which it lingered through the summer, and it whispered to the tree; “Verily, even in my death will I nourish thy roots.'

“Stranger, that passest by, spare the perishing fruit, and allow the dust of its corruption to nourish the roots of the tree, on whose branches it lived, sickened, and died.”


How Gertrude Teaches her Little Ones--Sketch of Self-biography

Early AspirationsThe Experiment at Stantz.

Such was the language of Pestalozzi's weary soul, after all his sanguine anticipations had been disappointed, all his prospects of usefulness destroyed, when years began to bleach his head, and sorrow to break his heart. Little did he then suspect, that a few years more would bring him nearer his aim than he had ever been; and that, at an age at which it is more natural for man to review the past, than to form projects for the future, a career would be opened to him, compared to which all his former exertions must in his own eyes have dwindled into utter insignificance. The progress of this important alteration, both in his position and in his views, he has himself amply detailed in his letters to his friend Gessner, which were published under the title, “How Gertrude Teaches her Little Ones," and of which, as it is among all his works the most important for the purpose of the present volume, we shall present our readers with a fuller analysis and more copious extracts, than our limits would permit us to do with reference to his other writings.

Before entering upon the subject-matter of this publication, which was intended to give to the public was clear an insight as possible into his views,” the author gives in the first letter an outline of his career, which we are the less inclined to suppress, as the light in which he himself viewed the progress of his mind, accounts for much of that metaphysical obscurity, and many of the mistakes, to which we shall in the sequel have occasion to advert:

« AnteriorContinuar »