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COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY.
together within a few years, never once entered the minds of those who took upon themselves to pronounce on the value and practicability of Pestalozzi's views. They only asked: “Is it all in his house as he says it ought to be?” and finding that this question could without much difficulty be answered in the negative, they did not hesitate a moment to declare the whole a “mountebank's theory,” not deserving the attention of the respectable part of the public. Thus whilst a few men of intelligence and candour, such as Johannsen, Gruner, Von Tuerk, Chavannes, Jullien, and others, raised their voices in favor of the new plan, the clamour of detraction prevailed to such a degree, that Pestalozzi, confiding in the excellence of his cause, requested from D’Affry, at the time President of the Swiss diet, the nomination of a committee for investigating his plans and proceedings. His wish was complied with, but it was only that he might learn at his own cost the truth of the adage
“Incidit in Scyllam, qui vult vitare Charybdin.”
Three commissaries, one of whom was the celebrated Père Girard of Freyburg, were appointed to pay a visit to the institution. They remained at Yverdon for five days, during which they were present at the lessons, and had conversations with Pestalozzi himself and some of his first disciples and friends. After this deliberate inquiry the committee drew up a report, which, passing by altogether the principles and general ideas on which the whole undertaking was founded, confined itself to a statement of mere matters of fact. Nevertheless, the substance of it was by no means unfavorable to the establishment, especially as the commissaries explicitly acknowledged the difficulties under which they had laboured in forming a correct estimate, within so limited a period of time, of a subject altogether new to them. This report, which was originally intended only to be laid before the Swiss diet, was, to the great disappointment of the commis
saries themselves, ordered to be printed, and thus acquired a publicity for which it was ill fitted. As an official document it was laid hold of with a shout of triumph by Pestalozzi's enemies, whose vociferations became more frequent and more violent than ever, until an article in the Literary Intelligencer of Goettingen, in which every word of the report was malignantly strained to the very extreme of unfavorable construction which it would bear, drew from Niederer's pen a vigorous answer in two octavo volumes, of which the first was chiefly devoted to a vindication of the principles of Pestalozzi, and of the establishment so far as it had been misrepresented; while the second had no other object than to supply some necessary documents and to expose in all its baseness the malignancy as well as ignorance of the attacks which had at last rendered this defence necessary. So imposing was the dignity which pervaded the former part, and so cutting the censures contained in the latter, that the adversaries were completely put to silence, except, perhaps, here and there a faint murmur on “the tone" of the author. This work which, notwithstanding its polemical tendency, is of lasting interest, assigned to Niederer at once that preeminent position which he has ever since maintained among the advocates of Pestalozzi's cause, and in which he has been acknowledged even by those who have widely differed from him in sentiment. As a defence of Pestalozzi's person and of his views and plans against the attacks of calumny, it was published in Niederer's name on behalf and with the concurrence of all the teachers of the establishment, contrary to the usual practice of publishing under the name of Pestalozzi whatever was the production of his institution or of any individual connected with it, Schmid alone excepted, who would not forego the gratification of immortalizing his name on the titlepages of his manuals. The fact that, with one exception, all the men who formed Pestalozzi's circle at that period, placed themselves personally in the background in order that he might reap whatever of honour or emolument should result from their labours, while it affords an
OTHER LITERARY LABOURS.
additional evidence of the spirit by which they were actuated, throws great light upon the alteration not only of style but of ideas, which discovers itself in Pestalozzi's writings during this period. We find him now using a more definite and systematic language, and carrying his disquisitions beyond the surface of external perception to those more abstruse points of which the internal consciousness of man's mind is the only tangible evidence. This change is to be attributed chiefly to the influence of Niederer, who had made it his peculiar task to connect and systematise the scattered fragments of truth which Pestalozzi threw out in his own desultory manner.
To those who are conversant with the peculiarities of the two men, it is easy to point out, passage by passage, what belongs to Pestalozzi, and what to Niederer; whilst to the uninitiated the whole appears the production of one and the same mind. This is particularly the case in the speech which was read by Pestalozzi on the occasion of his being chosen president of a society for the promotion of popular education, and which being afterwards published with considerable enlargements and additions, is commonly known under the appellation of “The Lenzburg Speech,” from the name of the town in which the meeting took place. This document, which occupies the greater part of a moderate octavo volume, a “Report to the Parents” whose children were educated in the establishment, from 1807, and a series of essays on various branches of the method, most of which appeared in a weekly journal of education published between 1810 and 1812 “ by Pestalozzi and his friends,” present a tolerably clear view of the joint ideas which Pestalozzi and his disciples entertained during this period of the cause in which they were so zealously engaged.
But although his main exertions were directed towards the achievement of his plan of reform in education, he did not allow his attention to be engrossed by it so far as to render him indifferent to what was passing around him. In the
eventful years 1814 and 1815 he testified the lively interest which he took in the cause of European emancipation from the thraldom of military despotism by his “Earnest Appeal to the purer and nobler Feelings of my Countrymen.” His favorite topic, national improvement by means of general and especially domestic education, is here viewed in connexion with the new prospects which the political crisis seemed to hold out; and the work is, by the maturity of its views and the moderation of its language, truly characterized as what the title declares it to be, viz. the farewell of "a man who, on the verge of the grave, weary of the struggles of his life, wishes, before he depart hence, to deposit an offering of propitiation on the altar of humanity, on the altar of all the children of God.”
Vicissitudes und Failings—False and Faithful Disciples --
A cloudy Sunset.
Pestalozzi seemed now in the perihelion of prosperity. His establishment, in which the satisfactory results of past exertions were happily combined with sanguine anticipations of future success, counted pupils of all nations and tongues, and was daily inspected by visitors from all quarters of the globe; as a writer, he had at last, notwithstanding his peculiarities both of thought and of style, acquired an eminent position in the world of letters; his personal character was universally loved and respected, and his very detractors obliged to put on at least the appearance of regard for a man to whom the greatest sovereigns of Europe gave marks of interest and respect, not in idle leisure hours, but at the moment when the destinies of our hemisphere were put to the decision of the sword.
But“ all is not gold that glitters,” is an old saying, of the truth of which Pestalozzi's position afforded a striking illustration. His anxiety to supply his institution with apparatus of every kind, the enlarged view which he took of his undertaking, and which induced him, among others, to establish a printing-office in his house, his unbounded benevolence, which would not allow him to refuse an asylum under his roof to any one that professed to have “a calling,” for the school-room, together with his improvident habits and his inveterate neglect of all matters of business, brought his finances, which had not been very flourishing at Burgdorf, into so deplorable a condition at Yverdon, that even his credit was entirely destroyed. The relations of his wife