Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

90

MANLINESS OF FEELING.

her views and principles to the education of her sex, Pestalozzi wrote to her, after an interview on the subject, with all the enthusiastic warmth of his feelings:

“ Thou saidst to me ‘My father!' and thou gavest me the privilege to say, to thee · My daughter !' My soul delights in that name, and delights still more in the thought of contributing to the happiness of thy life. Were I confined within the limits of my earthly days, I should have doubts and fears lest that delight should never fall to my lot. But the look of hope thou hast directed towards me, reaches beyond those limits. It is in my disciples, it is in my cause, that I live indeed; and I am sure, as I am of my own existence, that my calling will be thine, and those that are united with me, though at present they know it not, nor perceive it, will be united with thee also. And in the days when I shall rest in slumber, separated from the world, in the arms of death, thou wilt delight in the remembrance of me, and find bliss in the labours of a cause which already fills thy soul with rapture, which has gained me from thy lips the paternal name.

Thanks, ceaseless thanks, be to thee for that endearing title; mayest thou receive from me, with equal delight, the name of daughter! The influence which thou canst and wilt exercise upon the work of my life, by those pure and lofty gifts wherewith God has adorned thee, shall be to me, on my deathbed, a source of consolation and confident hope for my cause, even as the influence of the noblest and best of

my

sons."

To this almost feminine effusion, the manly tone in which he represents his relation with Niederer forms a fine contrast :

“ Niederer has indeed peculiarities, which, being directly opposed to mine, I find it sometimes difficult to endure. But his friendship is beyond all that I have ever experienced, or

even dreamed. What more can a man do for his friend, than for his sake to abandon a well-secured, tranquil, and satisfactory existence, and to place himself in a position full of uncertainty, disappointment, difficulty, and danger? This is what Niederer has done for me. For my sake he has left the church over which

• The results of her experience, during long-continued successful labours in that cause, were embodied by her, a few years ago, in a work published at Berlin, under the title: Blicke in das Wesen der weiblichen Erziehung ;' of which some extracts may be found in the “Christian Monitor, and Family Friend."

WEDDING- DAY LETTER.

91

he presided, an active, happy, and greatly esteemed pastor of his flock; he has joined me, and embraced my poverty and my embarrassments, at a time when my cause was not yet matured in myself, and when I was almost entirely destitute of external assistance for its further pursuit. At that period he was the only man, who had a claim to literary education, that stood by my side, and exposed himself to all the dangers which his participation in my undertaking necessarily involved. His friendship, above all personal interests, is devoted to the object of my life, that object, respecting which I have, during the course of my career, so often found myself without any one to befriend me. The generality of my friends were only interested in my personal welfare; their assistance was too often proffered as oil poured into my wounds; it never occurred to them to support the energies of a man in the prime of his strength under the discouragements of an arduous undertaking. Their life had little in common with mine. They afforded me happy hours of friendship, such as I shall never enjoy with Niederer, but they were hours of merely personal sympathy. I shall never forget them, nor shall I ever be ungrateful to those, who have laid me under so many personal obligations. But the debt I owe to Niederer is altogether of a different kind. Our personal characters are most dissimilar. I might almost say he falls short, in this respect, even of the common sympathies of men dwelling near one another. But his friendship is in his whole life; in his persevering efforts in the service of my cause; in the constant struggle which he sustains against himself, in order to fit himself more and more for its service; even his opposition to me, whenever he finds my personal wishes or inclinations at variance with my purposes, proves the noble, pure, and uncommon character of his friendship. He struggles hard only because he loves much.”

The following letter, written on the wedding-day of these his two “first children," is still more characteristic:

“My friends, joined together from this day for evermore; and if it please God, for ever united with me!

“On this your wedding-day let not one thought be found in my soul that might cast the shadow of a cloud over the bright heaven of your sweetest and holiest hour. Let me think of you all the day; let me remember what I ought to be, and what I ought to do, that you may be happy with me till the day of my death; oh, and let me fancy all that you can and will be, to make me happy with you to my last hour. O Niederer, O my dear Kasthofer, let us not abandon ourselves blindly to our fate, but let us unite and conquer whatever of wrong and evil may come in our way! Let us join hand in hand for this purpose; but let us

92

A WEDDING-DAY LETTER.

not expect from each other such assistance as it is not severally in our power to give. God has given to every distinguished individual a peculiar nature, within the limits of which he is to seek after perfection, but beyond which he cannot take one step, except to his own great hurt. Niederer, thy sphere is great, it is sublime; acknowledge its limits, and never outstep them; and I too will acknowledge the extent of my sphere, and endeavour, by keeping within its limits, to preserve my union with thee. And thou, generous soul, who celebratest this day the holy festival of thy destination, intercede thou between us with thy meek and lofty spirit, if either of us should offend or wrong his brother; let thy gentleness reprove us, if the delusion of any phantom should obscure to our minds that eternal truth in which our hearts are knit together, if misunderstandings should unfit us for the great and sacred object of our union. Dear, dear Niederer, let us have faith and hope, let us exert ourselves in our career to the best of our power, and leave all care for the success of our labours to him who will bring forth their fruits in due season; to him who guides the destinies of all mankind, and who forsakes not one of those that put their trust in him. O my dear friends, may the blessing of this your solemn day become a rich source of blessings to our work, to our institution; may it be the means of giving us the victory over all the obstacles, by which the great end of our lives is obstructed.

Receive the blessings of my everlasting love to you. May you soon return, the blessed of the Lord, and my joyful and loving children, into the arms of your father, who is old and weak, but whose love is persevering even unto death!”

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER IX.

Pestalozzi, the Father and Priest of his House

A Christmas-eve Discourse.

The spirit in which Pestalozzi presided over his house cannot be better described than by his own words, in the discourses which he addressed to the whole family every Christmaseve and New-Year's day. One of these, delivered on Christmas-eve, 1810, will not be read without interest, as it is not only a faithful expression of the tone which he maintained in his establishment, but affords, at the same time, a pleasing picture of that peculiarity of continental custom, by which Christmas-eve and New-Year's day are consecrated as the two great family festivals.

“Children, sons and daughters of this house, and ye matured men, my friends and brethren!

“What is there in this day that calls for rejoicing? For nearly twice ten centuries, this hour has ever been an hour of gladness! Is its joy, peradventure, worn out with age, and do we possess no more than the dregs and forms of its sacred solemnity? If so, I would rather not partake in it; I would not rejoice, but mourn, in this hour of ancient joy. And I ask: That ancient joy, what was it? And I look around me, to see what it is

I have heard of the ancients, and I have partly seen it in my own days, that Christmas-eve was a night on the earth above all earthly nights. Its shades were brighter than the noonday of highest earthly joy. The anniversaries of national emancipation from the thraldom of tyranny were not to be compared to that heavenly night, the night of heavenly rejoicing. Through the holy silence of its service resounded the words : ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and unto men purity of heart.' It was as if the angels were again gathering together over the heads of men in that hour, praising God that a Saviour was born unto the world. Oh! in those days, Christmas-eve was indeed a holy night, whose joys no words

now.

94

CHRISTMAS EVE OF OLD.

can describe, its bliss no tongue declare. The earth was changed into a heaven every such night. God in the highest was glorified, on earth there was peace, and gladness among the children of men. It was a joy flowing from the innermost sanctuary of the heart, not a joy of human affection. The joys of human affection are tied to place and outward circumstances; they are individual joys. But the joy of our ancient Christmas-eve was a universal joy, it was the common joy of humankind; for it was not a human, but a divine rejoicing.

“ Friends and brethren, and ye, my children; O that I could lead you back to Christendom of old, and show you the solemnity of this hour in the days of simplicity and faith, when half the world was ready to suffer death for the faith in Christ Jesus !

“My friends and brethren! Oh that I could show you the joys of Christmas-eve in the mirror of those days! The Christian stood at this hour in the midst of his brethren, his heart filled with the Holy Ghost, and his hand with earthly gifts. Thus stood the mother among her children, the master among his workmen, the landlord among his tenants. Thus assembled the congregation before its pastor; thus the rich entered the cottage of the poor. This was the hour in which enemies offered each other the hand of reconciliation, in which the heavily laden sinner knelt down, praying in tears for the pardon of his transgressions, and rejoicing in his heart that a Saviour was born to take away sin.

This hour of heavenly joy was an hour of sanctification; the earth was a heaven-like earth, and, though the dwelling-place of mortal man, breathed the breath of immortality. Death and sorrow seemed to have departed from the earth. The holy joys of that night lightened the burdens of the poor,

and eased the pangs of the wretched. Prisoners, who had long been shut out from the light of day, were liberated on that night, and returned as if led by an angel of God, to their desolate homes, to their wives and children, who were kneeling, weeping, and praying for their deliverance; for the heart of the judge had softened itself in the joy, that to him too a Saviour was born, and it had grown milder towards his fellow man, his enemy, and his captive. Even the criminal under sentence of death, whom no human power could rescue from his fate, was more kindly treated; words of peace, words of life everlasting, instilled comfort into his trembling nerves. He felt not merely his guilt and misery; he felt the pardon of iniquity, and when his hour drew near, he went to meet his end with manly composure. Many thousands entangled in debt by the necessity or the weakness of life, and persecuted by the arms of the law with merciless rigor, obtained in this sacred interval remission of their debts from the more generous feelings of their creditors, who, in the joy of having a Redeemer born to them, became themselves the redeemers of unfortunate debtors.

“Oh, what a night was Christmas-eve to ancient Christendom! O that I could describe its blessings, and your hearts would be moved to seek God's

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »