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SUCCESS OF THE ESTABLISHMENT.
manifest tendency of his proposals to put a stop to existing evils, and to turn the crisis to account for effecting improvements which had long been called for, conciliated the minds of the well-meaning among all parties, and offended none but the high ascendency men of the old aristocracy, who took their opportunities of testifying to him their displeasure at subsequent periods, when fear being less present with them, they grew more candid.
Meanwhile his establishment flourished under the hands of Kruesi, who had, as it were, identified himself with Pestalozzi's views, and had enlisted in his service two young men of ardent zeal, and more than common talent, Tobler and Buss. While Kruesi undertook arithmetic and the elementary parts of language, Tobler applied himself to the higher branches of scientific education, and Buss endeavoured to trace out for the instruction in singing and drawing, a course analogous to the general principles of the new method. The publication of the work, “How Gertrude Teaches her Little Ones,” aroused the attention of several other young men, who came to Burgdorf, some with a view merely to get acquainted with “the system,” and to turn it to account afterwards for their own purposes,
and some with the intention of assisting Pestalozzi in the further pursuit of his plans. Among the latter was John Niederer, a young minister of high character and distinguished abilities, who had long held the author of “Leonard and Gertrude” in veneration; and who, after a personal acquaintance with him of about a twelvemonth, felt so deeply impressed with the truth and the importance of his ideas, that he gave up his living, and a small boarding school which he had formed in his house, and devoted himself entirely to the service of Pestalozzi's cause. As superintendent of the public schools of his district, Niederer had had an opportunity of making himself acquainted with the effects of education such as it was there imparted; he had been a witness to the ignorance in which the children were allowed to grow up; he had himself experienced the
difficulty of exciting them to observation and inquiry, after their minds were once deadened by mechanical routine and mere memory knowledge ; and as a minister, who was not satisfied to see his people “sit” under the Gospel, he had not remained blind to the fact, that notwithstanding a great facility of apprehending the words of Christianity, and reasoning upon its doctrines, the generality of the people had not even a dawn of its spiritual import, nor the slightest feeling of its life and power. In the ideas put forth by Pestalozzi he seemed to recognise what he himself had been long in search of; and the more intimately he became acquainted with them, the more was he confirmed in his conviction, that by following them up theoretically and practically, until they were reduced to last principles, the foundation of a new era might be laid in the progress of human civilization. On the other hand, Niederer possessed qualities which rendered him eminently fit for participating in so important a work. His mind, early accustomed to soar above the systems and creeds of men, had penetrated through the clouds of learning, and through the veil of the letter to the brightness of true wisdom, to an apprehension of the substance. He was distinguished by universality, clearness, and precision of ideas, and by an uncommon power of abstraction. Facts had no value in his estimation but so far as they led to principles; and he distinguished, with eagle eye, the hollow metaphysics of the sophist from the plain though emblematic language of truth. The assistance of such a man was essentially necessary to Pestalozzi, whose genius was like the dark summer cloud pregnant with light, but incapable of emitting it, except in sudden flashes, separated by intervals of deep obscurity. With all the anxiety of one who carries an unborn universe within his bosom, Pestalozzi was never able, often as he attempted it, to explain himself fully and clearly to others, or even to himself. His language, especially on abstract subjects, resembled the wavering glimmer of a lamp through the gloom of the forest, which, while it presents to the eye a few objects in a transient light, harasses the imagi
nation by a thousand changeable shapes and shades, moving to and fro through the nightly mist. Niederer, on the contrary, who was not endowed with that creative genius, which would call a world of new ideas into existence, possessed in an eminent degree steadiness of vision, depth of thought, acuteness of judgment, and perspicuity of expression. Pestalozzi discerned and appreciated in him these gifts; he saw at once that Niederer was the man, who, like a mirror, would place his own ideas and feelings before his consciousness, and enable him to pursue his course securely and successfully.
With the assistance of such men as Niederer, Kruesi, Buss, and Tobler, the institution at Burgdorf was soon brought into a more organized state, and the complaints to which Pestalozzi's often desultory manner of teaching had, at the beginning, given rise, gradually ceased. Regular courses were drawn up by the respective teachers for the different branches of instruction taught in the establishment; which, after they had been put to the test of two years' experience, and had, undergone the joint revisal of Pestalozzi and his friends, were committed to the press in the year 1803, and published under the title, “Pestalozzi's Elementary Books,” in six Parts. They comprised a manual of arithmetic, one of elementary geometry, and one of languages, under the separate titles: "Intuitive Instruction in the Proportions of Number;" three Parts: “Intuitive Instruction in the Proportions of Measure;” two parts: and “The Mothers' Manual, or Help to Mothers for Teaching their Children the Arts of Observing and Speaking;” one Part. A spellingbook on the same plan had been publishing as early as the year 1801, under the title, “Help for Teaching Spelling and Reading.” These books, although far less imperfect than might be expected, considering the novelty of the idea, and the comparative rapidity with which they were completed, failed to produce the effect which Pestalozzi had anticipated. The fault, however, lay not so much with the books as with the public. The intention was
The intention was to present parents and teachers with a detailed view of the course of exercises which
EFFECT PRODUCED BY THEM.
Pestalozzi and his friends pursued; but these exercises received all their value from the spirit in which they were applied, and the public being entirely devoid of that spirit, were unable either to use or to appreciate them properly. On the other hand, the few who had drank into the principles in which the method originated, and among them first of all Pestalozzi himself and his friends, made, with the facilities afforded them by those manuals, such rapid strides towards improvement, both in the theoretical and the practical part of the plan, that the first lesson courses were soon superseded by others more perfect in their arrangement, and more directly leading to the end proposed. Thus it happened, that those who stood in need of the “Elementary Books” were unable to understand or to use them, while those who understood them, and would have known how to use them, found them superfluous, and considered them only as interesting documents, marking distinctly the progress which the development of Pestalozzi's method had made up to the period of their publication.
Removal of the Establishment-Emmanuel de Fellenberg Yverdon-Teachers and Pupils-Spirit of the
The disappointment in the anticipated effect of his elementary books, was, however, not the only one which Pestalozzi experienced about this time. He had flattered himself with the hope, that the sale of those manuals would furnish him with the means of beginning, on a small scale at least, the projected orphan asylum; and with a view to render their circulation as extensive as possible he had obtained from the Helvetic government an advance of £250, At the close of the accounts, however, in 1804, it was found that the expenses of publication had not only swallowed up the whole produce of the sale, but in addition to it nearly the whole amount of the government grant. Meanwhile the Act of Mediation having set aside the system of central administration which the revolution had introduced into Switzerland and the “ Directoire" being dissolved, Pestalozzi was deprived of all farther assistance from that quarter, without the prospect of similar support from any of the cantonal governments, whose means were mostly inadequate to an extraordinary expense of even this small amount. That of Berne indeed, in whose territory Pestalozzi's establishment was situated, had not the plea of poverty; the continuation of the annuity granted to Pestalozzi for himself and two of his teachers by the Helvetic government, would have been a mere trifle, compared to the sums annually voted by the senate of Berne for the maintenance of a family of bears, whose blood, uncontaminated by any intermarriage with common brutes of their species, reaches to the same antiquity as the noblest pedigree of the republic, of whose