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FRUITS OF THE EXPERIMENT.
or to think about; they gained little positive knowledge, but they increased daily in the love of knowledge, and in the power of acquiring it; they might have been at a loss if called upon to quote texts in support of any particular doctrine of Christianity, but in the practice of its virtues they were perpetually exercised. The whole tendency of Pestalozzi's instructions was not to initiate his children in the use of those phrases which form the currency of the scientific, literary, political, and religious world, nor to habituate them to any sort of routine for the future purposes of business; but to raise their state intellectually and morally, by a treatment conformable to the law of God in human nature. To discover this law, and to learn by experience the bearing which it has upon the development of the child, was the great object of his present exertions; he had thrown off all the fetters by which human society generally disqualifies man for that higher freedom in which God would lead him on; wherever he saw a land-mark of truth he steered his course towards it, and the result was, that when the events of the war banished him from Stantz, before the expiration of a twelvemonth, he left it with a distinct view of the nature of his task, and with a thousand floating ideas on the means by which it might best be accomplished,
Burgdorf-Working in a Corner-Fisher and Kruesi— Boarding School - How Gertrude Teaches her little Ones
In summer 1799 the Austrians took possession of Stantz, and Pestalozzi was obliged to abandon his interesting experiment at the moment when it began to promise fruits of success: a result which was the more mortifying, the less prospect he had of meeting with another opportunity for the further pursuit of his labours. The political crisis, which for a long time threatened, and ultimately brought on, the dissolution of the central government, preoccupied the attention of the public, and especially of those in power, and prevented them from keeping their attention fixed upon the practical operation of ideas which they had, in theory, so warmly espoused. Owing to this unfavorable juncture of affairs, the number of enlightened visitors at the asylum in Stantz had been but very small, and unable to counterbalance in the public opinion the injurious reports spread by scores of superficial and ignorant observers, who considered a flaw in the details of instruction, or an irregularity in the conduct of the house, or even their own incapability of seeing what Pestalozzi would be at, as conclusive evidence of the incorrectness, or at all events impracticability of his views. Thus it came to pass that while the monks and nuns of Underwalden paid the tribute of sincere admiration and sympathy to an undertaking upon which they had at first cast the evil eye of suspicion, the public at large were more than ever confirmed in their old notion, that Pestalozzi was at best but an enthusiastic fool. It was with great surprise that he
IJUMBLE ATTEMPTS AT BURGDORF.
found himself treated as such on reentering society, after a time of seclusion, during which he had, more than at any former period, given proofs of his personal usefulness, and of the powerful effect which could be produced by a persevering application of his principles. His work had been snapped off by the hand of war, but the scoffers exclaimed: “It is a pity, indeed, that the Austrians should have driven him away; had he been left to himself, he would not have gone on much longer, and then he would have been without excuse.” The disappointment of seeing the work of his hands suddenly destroyed, after the greatest difficulties and dangers had been conquered, was rendered more poignant by the thought that the enemies of the cause had a new opportunity afforded them of reviling and ridiculing what he was on the point of establishing on the evidence of incontestable facts. Depressed by mental sufferings he fled into the solitude of the Alps, and amidst the rocks and steeps of the Gurnigel, sought rest for his weary soul, and health for his exhausted nerves.
But he was not made for inactive contemplation. The enjoyment of nature in its most majestic aspect, and the kind solicitude of his friend Zehender, soon restored him to cheerfulness and vigor, and he descended from the mountains with the firm determination to resume his experiment from the point where it had been cut short at Stantz. In consideration of his past services, as well as with a view to facilitate his further proceedings, he obtained from the Helvetic government the grant of a pension of about thirty pounds a year, which was raised to one hundred in 1801, but ceased entirely at the dissolution of the Helvetic government in 1803. This scanty pittance barely sufficed to secure him against absolute want, while the private resources which the wreck of his fortune had left him, were entirely absorbed in the maintenance of his family. By the advice of his friends Pestalozzi went in autumn 1799 to Burgdorf, where the interest taken by some of the leading men in the improvement of education seemed to open a door for him, and where he actually obtained access to one of the public schools, with liberty to
try his experiments. The school itself, however, remained under the management of the former master, who eyed his new colleague with a considerable degree of jealousy; and failed not to exert himself to the utmost of his power for the preservation of “the old system,” as well as of his office, both of which he judged to be in equal and imminent danger. At last he succeeded, by alarming the prejudices of the parents whose children frequented his school, to bring about the dissolution of a partnership into which he had been forced without his consent and against his will. Pestalozzi who, in his eager zeal for the pursuit of his cause, had submitted to be “yoked together unequally” with a common drudge, received now the additional insult of being turned out of his office of supernumerary schoolmaster. But he was soon consoled for this misfortune by admission into an infant school, in which children between four and eight years of age were taught spelling and writing. Here the amiable disposition of the good old dame who presided over the toils. of the poor innocents, and her indifference to the manner in which the “young idea was taught to shoot,” left him at full liberty to keep “crowing the ABC” after his own fashion, from morning to night.
While he was thus engaged in following up the discoveries which he had made in Stantz, he had an opportunity of forming some connexions, which afterwards proved highly important for the promotion of his object. Fisher, one of the under secretaries of state in the Helvetic government, had been directed to reorganize the schools at Burgdorf, at that time the brightest spot for education in Switzerland, with a view to form them into model schools. The castle of Burgdorf, which before the revolution was the residence of the aristocratic governors, was assigned to him for the formation of a teachers' seminary, by means of which it was proposed to put the public instruction of the whole country upon a uniform plan. The calamities of the war, however, so exhausted the finances of the “directoire,” that the remittance of the funds necessary for the first foundation of such an establish
ment was delayed from month to month, and Fisher, whose heart was in the work, kept in a state of involuntary inactivity. This unwelcome leisure time he filled up by close attention to the proceedings of Pestalozzi, with whose ideas he had in his official capacity become previously acquainted, and for whom he entertained personally a sincere and affectionate regard. From the documents that are still extant, it appears that Fisher had a system of his own, which seemed to him better calculated for general introduction as a government measure than Pestalozzi's as yet unripe ideas and the detached results of his experiments. But Fisher was not one of those men whom the consciousness of having done some good, renders bigoted against every attempt to do better; the sentence of condemnation pronounced by Pestalozzi upon the word-mongery of all the existing systems, so far from prejudicing his mind against a man whom he saw sincerely devoted to the service of mankind, on the contrary, rendered him the more anxious to ascertain the grounds of his dissent from the commonly received opinions, and the foundation on which his new structure was to be raised. The result of his frequent interviews with Pestalozzi was, that he regretted less and less the obstacles by which the execution of his own projects was delayed, and there is reason to believe that, if he had lived long enough to see a school organized on the plan of his friend, he would have given him the support of all his influence and his means.
But, though Fisher did not live long enough to cooperate personally with Pestalozzi, yet he rendered him a service of paramount importance for the success of his labours, by bringing him in contact with Kruesi. Switzerland had at this time become the scene of a murderous war between the Austro-Russian and the French armies, and the violent factions by which its inhabitants were divided, vied with the foreign invaders in carrying desolation and mourning to the remotest hamlets. In the canton Appenzell, where the old · conflict of Catholicism and Protestantism had been pointedly preserved by a division of territory, the old feud was now