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I. Pestalozzi and Herbart. How Pestalozzi deserves to be 

studied in himself. His great fame. A militant 
teacher. He can be defined as a philanthropist of 
education. Recrudescence of his renown in Switzer 
land, during these last years 3 

II. Zurich at the period when Pestalozzi was studying there 

(1764). A hot-bed of literary studies. Centre of a 
political and social movement. Influence of Rous 
seau's writings. Pestalozzi a youthful revolutionary. 

His belief in democracy. Home training. Pesta 
lozzi the pupil of his mother. Precocious experience of 
the miseries of the people. His marriage. His wife's 
character. How Pestalozzi became an educator. 
Education of his son his first pedagogical experience. 
The Journal d'un pere. Hesitations between the prin 
ciple of authority and the principle of liberty. "I 
wish only to be a schoolmaster." . . . 9 

III. Neuhof (1768-1780). Agricultural and industrial at 
tempts. Why Pestalozzi went to the country people. 

Financial ruin. Establishment of the refuge for 
poor children. Association of manual labour and ele 
mentary instruction. A school of abnormal children. 

Heroic efforts. Definite check to the enterprise 
(1780) 19 

IV. Stans. Eighteen years of discouragement, from 
1780 to 1798. Pestalozzi the writer. List of his 




works. The Helvetic Revolution. The orphanage 
at Stans (1798). Peculiar difficulties of the work: a 
heretic, a revolutionary, is sent to a Catholic and 
reactionary people. Wretched introduction. Pesta 
lozzi 's moral action. His enthusiasm for France. 
Methods pursued and results obtained. Wonderful 
activity. Pestalozzi exhausted by his efforts. 
Closing of the orphanage (1799). A visit to Stans in 
1901 28 

V. Burgdorf and Yverdon (1800-1825). Pestalozzi, at 

fifty-two, assistant teacher in a school for children. 
He receives promotion. He becomes superintendent 
of the "Burgdorf Educational Institute."- His first 
collaborators : Krusi, Buss, and Tobler. Other collab 
orators. Special branches of teaching. The Burg 
dorf Institute transferred to Mimchenbuchsee (1804), 
then to Yverdon (1805). Everything taught. 
Pestalozzi does not, however, give up the achievement 
of his "Method" of elementary instruction. Bril 
liant success of the Yverdon Institute. Influx of 
visiting strangers. Pestalozzi seeks the support of 
the chiefs of state. His visits to the emperor of Rus 
sia and to the king of Prussia. A school day at Yver 
don. A cosmopolitan college. Interior troubles. 
Internal dissensions. Rivalry of Schmid and Nie- 
derer. Attacks from without. Pestalozzi's religion. 
His philosophic deism. Pestalozzi and Rousseau 
compared. Closing of the Institute (1825). Last 
days at Neuhof. Death of Pestalozzi (February 17, 
1827) . .41 

VI. The method and the practice. Pestalozzi's uncer 
tainties. His commentators. Intuition the starting- 
point of all knowledge and of all instruction. Intuition 
of the senses and moral intuition. The " art of intui- 



tion." The principle of gradation and of concentration. 

Study of the human body, first exercise of intuition 
and of language. Intensive development of the fac 
ulties of more importance than the extension of positive 
knowledge. The faculties grow with exercise. In 
terest in the study a necessary condition to intellectual 
progress. Conversation with Bell. Simplifying of 
the Method. The Method-machine. Pestalozzi's 
practice often at variance with his principles. Abuse 
of the device of object lessons. The bees and the 
flowers. Criticism of the theory " of the number, the 
shape, and the word."- -The Burgdorf tapestry and 
language exercises. Fresh form of verbiage. 
Drawing studied geometrically. Ravaisson's opinion. 

Intuition in the study of geography. Mental calcula 
tion. Many educators of the present day are Pestaloz- 
zians without knowing it. Reading made subordinate 
to oral exercises. The movable letters. Drawing 
before writing. Arithmetic and geometry taught 
experimentally. The technical ABC. Moral edu 
cation based on intuition and experience. Develop 
ment of the sentiments in the child. Education should 
be continued kindness. The leading role of the mother. 

Religious education. Pestalozzi's work limited to 
elementary education 63 

VII. Pestalozzi's influence. Diesterweg and the celebra 
tion of the anniversary of his birth (January 12, 1846). 

Immediate propagation of his doctrines. A gather 
ing at Mme. de Stael's. His influence in Germany. 
Fichte and Froebel. Pestalozzian schools in Berlin, 
Frankfort, etc. Pestalozzianism in Spain. Come- 
nius and Pestalozzi. Importation of his methods into 
Denmark and England. The Lettres a Greaves sur I' edu 
cation elementaire. Pestalozzian experiments in Amer- 



ica and France. How Pestalozzi has been compared 
to nearly all the educational theorists. Application 
of his methods by practical workers . . . . 100 

VIII. The author and the man. Defects and qualities of 
his writings. His def ectiveness in the presentation of 
abstract truths. His talent as a narrator. Leonard 
et Gertrude and the popular novel. The ironical note. 
View of social policy. The right of property. 
Utopias. His estimation of printing and of the Protes 
tant Reformation. Burning eloquence. The virtues 
of the man. His courage. His disinterestedness. 
His sufferings. Mme. Pestalozzi. Hours of happi 
ness. He dreamed more than he accomplished. 
Schools in Pestalozzi 's time. A Swiss educator in 
1795. The lay school. Pestalozzi's moral great 
ness 118 



IN placing the name of Pestalozzi after those of 
Rousseau and Spencer, in the list of great educators, 
we render rightful tribute to a man of heart, a 
man of action, praiseworthy in both, who is not 
well enough known in France, where he is by turns 
cried down, neglected, or unduly exalted, but who, 
impartially judged, merits one of the chief places in 
the golden book of the history of education. 

Was it not of him that the English Andrew 
Bell who, however, did not appreciate his 
methods of instruction said : " He is a man of 
experience, enthusiasm, and genius " ? Was it not 
him that the German Diesterweg hailed as the 
"Father of the public school"? 

Pestalozzi has been the direct descendant of 
Rousseau. J.-P. Richter, in his Levana, wrote in 
1806: "And still Pestalozzi continues among the 
people the work of Rousseau." But although the 
author of Emile has had only one descendant, even 
an imaginary one, Pestalozzi has brought up millions 
of children ; and he has trained the masters no less 



than he has instructed the pupils. He has had an 
extraordinary influence upon the education of his 
day, which has continued throughout the years of 
the past century. In 1861 the Society of Teachers 
of Berlin did not hesitate to make this declaration : 
" We are convinced that the happy results of the 
present time in our schools, obtained despite the 
official red tape/' -the famous Code of 1853, 
" are due in large measure to the corps of teachers 
who have been grounded in the principles of 

Pestalozzi is undoubtedly the creator of the idea, 
as well as the fact, of the new school, the promoter 
of modern pedagogy. He has dreamed, he has de 
sired, the school universal, the school free alike to 
rich and poor, just as the Church or Temple is open 
to people of every condition. And in order to bring 
about the accomplishment of his dream, he has de 
voted, sacrificed his life. He has laboured only for 
others. He has spent his days, to the weakening, 
despoiling, and ruining of both body and mind, 
in the service of humanity, of humanity down 
trodden and oppressed. It is to the lowly and the 
little ones especially that he has dedicated the sen 
timents of his heart and the fruits of his strength, 
burning for the rights and liberty of the people, and 
for their honour and happiness. 


In choosing the sub-title for this study, we might 
therefore have well written, " Pestalozzi, and Popu 
lar Education." But it was not to the people alone 
that he addressed himself ; and in his teaching he 
has not been concerned merely with the simple edu 
cation of children, sons of the common people, of 
workmen, or of peasants. Similarly, if we con 
sidered one of the essential principles of his 
method, it would not be incorrect to say, " Pesta- 
lozzi, and Intuitive Education," since he is the real 
initiator of the Lemons de Choses. 

On the other hand, if we had preferred to define 
the character of his work as that of intuition, to 
which he attached some importance, it is after all 
not the point of departure for his system of teach 
ing. We think that we have responded better to 
his ideas, and have at the same time conformed to 
his exact terms, when we assign as his especial 
domain, "Elementary Education," that which fixes 
the first instruction of the child in letters and 
morals. "Elementary Education" -that is in 
deed the constant goal of the indefatigable activity 
of Pestalozzi. He has not laboured when he felt 
moved only by his inspiration, and when the circum 
stances have imposed upon him a role to his liking ; 
he has laboured only for childhood. He has excelled 
in the art of training the child in the life intel- 


lectual and moral. " That which takes chief place 
in my aspirations is the first impulse of my youth 
for the people and for childhood/' he asserted. In 
his last work, The Swan Song, he devotes two hun 
dred pages to analyzing the development of the 
idea of Elementarbildung . In the discourse which 
he prepared, some time before his death, for the 
Societe Helvetique, which had proclaimed him its 
president, it is with insistence that he reverts again 
to the fixed idea of " Elementary Education." 

His real glory has been not merely in the inspir 
ing of one class of the world's employees, the school 
master ; it is in the school itself, in the elementary 
school, that he would have liked to spend all his 
life. It is by the side of the schoolhouse that he 
desired to sleep his last sleep. 

"I desire that they lay me down beneath the 
eaves of the school ; that they write merely my 
name on the stone which receives my ashes ; and 
when the raindrops have partly effaced the letters, 
mankind will deal more justly with me, perhaps, 
than they have during my life." 

The appeal which Pestalozzi, out of his sorrows 
and misfortunes, addressed to future generations, 
to repair the injustice of certain of his contempo 
raries, has been heard. If his life was one of hard 
ship, posterity has dealt kindly with him ; and it 


is in order to contribute in our turn to the grate 
ful homage and admiration due him, that we have 
written the following pages which, though brief, 
yet present the most complete picture of the dra 
matic episodes of his career, of his heroic life, and 
of his immortal work. 


"!T is in Herbart that Pestalozzi must be studied," 
said Doctor Mager, a German author ; doubtless in 
the way that Socrates is studied in Plato. If, indeed, 
we wish to follow up some of Pestalozzi's concep 
tions in their philosophic development, it is perhaps 
to Herbart that we should address ourselves. He 
had visited Pestalozzi, in 1799, at his Burgdorf 
school ; he had seen him at work ; and it cannot be 
denied that he drew inspiration, on certain points, 
from the principles of the Pestalozzian method, of 
which he spoke favourably in three small works, 
published in 1802 and 1804. 1 The desire to establish 
between them the relation of master to disciple, 
and the claim to connect closely two minds which 
hardly resemble one another, a deep, subtle theorist 
and a sentimental, enthusiastic educator, would 
be unwarranted. If Pestalozzi, before he died, had 

1 The most important of these three monographs is entitled : 
Pestalozzis Idee eines ABC des Anschauungsunterrichts und 
wissenschqftlich ausgefuhrt. Gottingen, 1802. 



had time to read Herbart's works, but he himself 
tells us that he did not open a book in the last fifty 
years of his life, if he had become acquainted 
with Pedagogic generate, which dates from 1806, 
it is probable that he would have exclaimed, some 
what like Socrates concerning Plato: "What fine 
things this young man imagines that I never thought 
of! ,;." 

It is in himself in his character, his life, and 
his actions that Pestalozzi deserves to be studied. 
If to Rousseau he owes a part of his inspiration, none 
the less for that is the great Swiss teacher an ini 
tiator, an innovator; and if, moreover, his doctrine 
remained incomplete and confused, it has its par 
ticular value all the same. Let us add that by anno 
tations and attempts at its interpretation, it has 
often been disfigured. In a sense, also, it is per 
missible to invert the aphorism which we have 
quoted and to say: "In order to understand Her- 
bart and the other educational philosophers, it is 
as well to have a preliminary knowledge of Pesta 

Michelet, in Nos Fils, hails him as one of the evan 
gelists of modern pedagogics. R. H. Quick, in his 
Educational Re formers, declares him to have been "the 
most celebrated of educational reformers." Karl 
Schmidt, in his Geschichte der Erziehung, calls him 


"the king of pedagogics, the prophet of the new 
education." I do not think that the history of edu 
cation can show us another figure of such original 
ity, such a touching physiognomy, such an example 
of impassioned devotion to the education of the peo 
ple. His long life of fourscore years was dominated 
by a single thought, the regeneration of humanity 
by education. "All my life I have desired/' he 
wrote in 1801, " and to-day I still desire one thing 
alone: the welfare of my beloved people whose 
wretchedness I feel as it is felt by few." He was 
himself wretched. And his heroic life of suffering, 
humiliation, and sacrifice surpasses in its sad reality 
everything that the novelists of the school have 
been able to imagine in our times, when recounting 
the misfortunes of Jean Coste or those of the Insti- 
tutrice de village. 

He was not merely a theoretical pedagogue, 
calmly drawing up on paper projects of reform, with 
out taking the trouble to apply them. He was not 
satisfied, like Rousseau, with a platonic philan 
thropy, manifested only by fine words. He was 
above all a man of action, a militant teacher; and 
it is not his fault that he was not a simple school 
master all his life. It was not alone the progress 
of instruction for its own sake that concerned him. 
He worked, acted, and suffered for the happiness 


of mankind. He wished to prepare a better-edu 
cated humanity, so that it might be happier and 
more virtuous. If it were said that he was a philan 
thropist of pedagogics, and, as it were, the Saint 
Vincent de Paul of education, the description would 
be very accurate. 

For an immediate realization of the work carried 
on by a pedagogue, of whom the English professor, 
Joseph Payne, could say that "of all educators, he 
is the one whose influence has been the deepest 
and the most penetrating," it is sufficient to scan 
the enormous list of works written by biographers 
or close critics on his life and work. With Pesta- 
lozzian books alone a rich library could be formed. 
Germany has devoted hundreds of volumes to him. 
In France, it is true, his name has been pronounced 
more often than his ideas have been studied. It 
must not be forgotten, however, that whilst he was 
still alive, when Fichte, in his famous Discours a 
la nation allemande, declared that he expected the 
salvation and regeneration of his country from the 
application of Pestalozzian methods, French voices 
also were raised in Pestalozzi's honour. In 1810, 
Madame de Stael wrote in her book, De V Allemagne, 
that "Pestalozzi's school was one of the best insti 
tutions of the century;" and some years earlier, 
in 1807, Maine de Biran, then sub-prefect of Bergerac, 


endeavoured to introduce and acclimatize the new 
method, which he esteemed most highly, in the 
schools of Dordogne. 

A hundred years old, Pestalozzi's renown has not 
faded. His glory shines especially in his native 
land, where he is the object of a kind of cult. It even 
seems that these last years have seen, as it were, a 
recrudescence and a resurrection of the homage ren 
dered to him. It was on the 12th of January, 1846, 
the anniversary of his birthday, that his compa 
triots raised to him at Birr, in Aargau, the first 
monument of their gratitude. In the last twenty 
years, however, proofs of admiration have been 
multiplied; in Zurich and Yverdon statues have 
been erected to him; in Burgdorf a medallion and 
a commemorative tablet have been dedicated to 
his memory ; in Zurich, again, it was under the pat 
ronage of his name that, about 1875, the academic 
museum, the Pestalozzianum, was instituted. And 
to these monuments perpetuating his memory are 
added very significant trifles, bearing witness that 
the affection of the people is ever his. In Zurich, 
I went into a bookseller's ; there I found postcards 
adorned with his portrait. I sat down at a restau 
rant table ; the menu presented some of the scenes 
of his scholastic life. ... In the Pestalozzianum, 
beside his manuscripts and books, I was shown some 


of his relics, collected by pious hands, his stick, 
his snuff-box, a lock of his hair, his diploma as 
Doctor of Breslau University, conferred on him in 
1817. . . . What, however, is worth more than 
all these material monuments, is that the operation 
of his thought is still alive and circulates from school 
to school. What, moreover, has contributed, in 
recent times, to revive his popularity, is the fine 
work of Mr. L.-W. Seyffarth, who, after publishing, 
from 1869 to 1872, a complete edition of Pesta- 
lozzi's works, is occupied in preparing a fresh one, 
in which he has brought together a certain number 
of important writings hitherto unpublished. 


ZURICH, at the period when Pestalozzi was going 
through his studies there, was a hot-bed of intellec 
tual life. Never had "the Athens of the Limmat," 
as it is sometimes called, better justified this some 
what ambitious title. It was the time when Zurich 
was competing with Leipzig, and Bodmer with 
Gottsched, when Zurich's writers were making their 
names known in ever wider circles. In 1756, Gess- 
ner published his Idylles; in 1767, Lavater, who was 
Pestalozzi's friend, composed his Chants suisses, an 
attempt at popular lyric poetry. Again, it was the 
time when Zurich was becoming the meeting-place 
of the German poets. Wieland accepted Bodmer's 
hospitality there in 1753; and before him, in 1750, 
Klopstock had there obtained a triumphant recep 
tion; surrounded by nine youths and nine damsels, 
so many Muses, he made sentimental excur 
sions, in a boat bedecked with flowers, on an en 
trancing lake, reading unpublished fragments of 
his Messie to his enraptured admirers. 

But especially it was the time when a breath of 
liberty was disturbing men's minds. Control social 



and Emile were read with passion. Pestalozzi was 
quite enraptured by them ; and even in his old age 
he remained faithful to this youthful passion, since 
he wrote in 1826 : " With Herculean might Rousseau 
rent asunder the heavy chains which bound the 
human mind; he restored the child to itself and 
education to nature. 77 When Geneva, imitating 
the intolerance of the Parliament at Paris, in its 
turn condemned and expelled Rousseau, Zurich 
sided against Geneva. Encouraged by its profess 
ors themselves, the university youth grouped itself 
into societies for study and for political or social 
reforms. Anonymous pamphlets appeared, ener 
getically attacking the sheriffs, the bailiffs, and even 
certain ministers of religion. Pestalozzi grew up 
in this inflamed environment. Some years later, 
he made a wicked bailiff the villain, in his romance 
of Leonard et Gertrude. From his twentieth year, 
however, he was already committed to the new ideas. 
He was looked upon as a revolutionary. With a 
few friends, the " patriots, 77 as they were called, with 
Lavater, among others, he caused himself to be 
prosecuted for complicity in a pretended conspiracy 
against the safety of the State. Whilst the govern 
ment of Zurich banished one of these innocent con 
spirators, guilty only of denouncing the embezzle 
ments of Bailiff Grebel and Sheriff Brunner, and the 


evil conduct of Pastor Hottinger, others, and Pesta- 
lozzi himself, were imprisoned, tried, and fined. 

From these passionate struggles of his youth, 
Pestalozzi imbibed, and even whilst imbibing dis 
played, the democratic faith which animated him 
throughout his life and made of him the indefatiga 
ble supporter of the poor and suffering against the 
abuses of the great. Other influences, however, 
helped in the formation of his noble character. 
Home surroundings, still more than social environ 
ment, acted on his affections. At the age of six 
he lost his father, a medical practitioner in Zurich. 
He is peculiarly his mother's son. Rousseau was 
badly brought up by a fantastic, careless father; 
Pestalozzi was well brought up by a good, intelli 
gent mother. This is partly responsible for the 
diversity of their characters and destinies. Left 
destitute with a daughter and two sons, the poor 
widow devoted herself entirely to her children's 
education. She was assisted by a wonderfully 
devoted servant, faithful Babeli, who had promised 
the dying father and she kept her word never 
to forsake the family as long as she lived. In this 
humble home, under this watchful, tender care, the 
child learned early the virtues of simplicity and 
frugality, which the conditions of an arduous life 
imposed as a rigorous obligation on the man. There 


also he acquired an unalterable purity of sentiment. 
Thence, moreover, with all these qualities, were per 
chance derived some of the defects of his incom 
plete mind, sensitive rather than meditative. He 
often lacked practical sense. In 1765, his friend 
Bluntschli, who died at the age of twenty-five, said 
to him: " Never engage in an enterprise without 
having at your side a man whose experience and cool 
reason will guarantee you against the dangers to 
which your goodness and trusting confidence will 
expose you." Niederer, who was one of the collabo 
rators of his old age, says that in him were to be 
found the persevering will of a man and the 
courage of a hero, united with the sensibility and 
delicacy of a woman and the confiding simplicity 
of a child. 

Pestalozzi's studies were of the most serious kind. 
He quickly renounced theology and the ecclesias 
tical calling which had at first attracted him. The 
cause of his retirement was doubtless the spirit of 
liberty obtained from reading Rousseau, rather than 
the alleged misadventure of an unsuccessful sermon; 
it is indeed narrated that he stopped short after the 
first words of his discourse. He turned to legal 
studies, in order to acquire the knowledge neces 
sary for a politician and social reformer, as he wished 
to become. He read the ancient authors lovingly, 


and in his twentieth year produced a little work in 
which he dealt with the legislation of Sparta. 

It was not, however, classical reading or theoretical 
revery alone which prepared him to become the 
free citizen, the friend of humanity. The circum 
stances of his life procured for him a premature ex 
perience of social realities. He spent his holidays 
in the country, either at Hongg, with his paternal 
grandfather, Pastor Pestalozzi, or with his mother's 
brother, Doctor Hotze, at Richtersweil. With them, 
he visited the poor and the sick. He was brought 
into contact with the sufferings of the people. He 
heard the lamentations of the peasants. Pity en 
tered his young heart and dwelt there ever after. 
Since it is true that human personality is largely 
the reflection of the surroundings in which it develops, 
it must be taken into consideration that Pestalozzi 
spent his youth amongst good people, that he grew 
up in an atmosphere of uprightness; and he was 
influenced by it during the whole of his life. 

One day, whilst quite a youngster, having a little 
pocket-money, he went into the shop of a neighbor, 
a confectioner of Zurich, to buy some dainties. 
The young lady who was serving, the shopkeeper's 
own daughter, Anna Schulthess, whom Pestalozzi 
was to marry some years later, understanding her 
business interests none too well, as it would seem, 


dissuaded the child from satisfying his gluttony 
and advised him to save his money for a more useful 
purpose. One of the first lessons of wisdom by which 
he profited was thus received from the person who 
was for forty-six years, from 1769 till 1815, to share 
his hopes and disappointments, to partake of his 
too rare joys and the long succession of his sorrows. 
Anna Schulthess herself, however, was not without 
defects : she was somewhat coquettish ; and Pesta- 
lozzi was perhaps present at the conversation which 
she once had with Bluntschli, their mutual friend. 
She asked him for his opinion on an elegant assort 
ment of ribbons, with which she wished to adorn 
herself. But Bluntschli answered her severely: 
" Whilst your poor neighbour is in greater need of a 
thaler to buy food than you are of this bauble, you 
have a better use for your money." 

The gentle, salutary influences of family life were 
continued for Pestalozzi in the conjugal dwelling. 
Pestalozzi's wife was worthy of him, and their 
marriage was a union of souls. The letters which 
they exchanged have been preserved, and never 
did betrothed lovers correspond in such terms. 
Far from displaying himself to the greatest advan 
tage, Pestalozzi complacently detailed all his defects, 
his absent-mindedness, his neglect of dress, his 
unattractive exterior. His love declarations seem 


like a confession of his sins. He exhorted Anna to 
reflect well before coming to a decision. He told 
her that he lacked foresight greatly, that he had 
no presence of mind, and felt others 7 misfortunes to 
the extent of being unhappy himself and losing 
all peace of mind ; he warned her that he would be 
first a citizen, then a husband; that she would 
have to suffer, that it would be necessary to 
know how to sacrifice family and interests, both 
personal and selfish, to the superior interests of 
humanity. In short, he traced out his life's pro 
gramme. But Anna also had a noble heart. 
She attached no importance to a badly tied 
cravat, and although she let Pestalozzi under 
stand that she was well aware that he was not exactly 
beautiful, that nature would have been harsh to 
him "if she had not given him large, dark eyes in 
which she portrayed the goodness of his strong, serious 
mind, "she did not hesitate: she plighted her troth, 
in spite of her parents' opposition, in spite of the 
tears of her mother, who said to her, and she was not 
mistaken: "You must resign yourself to privations; 
you must be satisfied with bread and water ! . . ." 

Married at the age of twenty-three, in 1769, 
Pestalozzi was a father a year later; and if the 
educator had been awakened by philanthropic 
ideas, his paternal love finally determined his voca- 


tion. If he became a teacher, it is because humanity 
was dear to him, and also because he tenderly cher 
ished his only child. His first dream, which lasted 
till his death, was to comfort and regenerate man 
kind, especially the poor, by instruction and educa 
tion. In his twentieth year, a journalist of original 
ity, he wrote down in the foremost rank, amongst 
the prayers which he formulated for the improve 
ment of the people's condition, "that some one might 
be willing to draw up in simple form some educational 
principles within the reach of all." The father it was 
who responded to this appeal, or at least, attempted to 
do so, by jotting down, in the private Journal which 
he wrote out in 1774, the results of his son Jaqueli's 
education. This education was his first experi 
ment in pedagogics. He brought to it no precon 
ceived notions. Indeed, all his life he was nothing 
but an experimentalist, seeking the truth in action, 
in teaching, without a systematic mind or a plan 
drawn up beforehand. 

With Jaqueli, he observed, hesitated, groped : he 
never ceased to grope. He hesitated between 
the principles of authority and of liberty. In this 
first attempt, however, were present the germs of 
most of the ideas which dominated all his pedagogic^ : 
to be in no hurry, to make clear but to the sig&t 
and to the understanding, to develop the senses, to 


take nature as guide, to attach more importance to 
things than to words, to respect the child's dawning 
liberty. . . . " To know words which do not respond 
to precise ideas is an immense barrier to the truth." 
" All instruction would not be worth a farthing if it 
necessitated the loss of a child's courage and gayety." 
He wrote later: "Laughter is a gift of God; let 
children laugh ; encourage merriment in them." 
Imitation of Rousseau is apparent: at the age of 
eleven, Jaqueli, like Emile, could hardly read 
and write. 1 He exercised his senses more than 
his memory and judgment. His education was 
chiefly negative, obeying nature's necessities, and 
not man's will. Pestalozzi's good sense, however, 
showed him what was chimerical in Rousseau's 
Utopias. Experience taught him that it is at times 
necessary to oppose nature. He prescribed hours 
of regular work for Jaqueli. He shut him up, when 
four years old, to force him to study. He found 
reasons for liberty and invoked other reasons for 
obedience. In the same way, false to Rousseau's 
principles in this also, he did not allow the child's 

1 Jaqueli was sent to college, at Basle, in 1784. He did not 
fulfil his father's hopes. Very sickly from childhood, he died 
young, in 1800, leaving a son, Gottlieb, the consolation of his 
grandfather's old age. Gottlieb, at first apprenticed as tanner's 
workman, returned to Yverdon in 1817. There he married one 
of Schmid's sisters. 


affectionate feelings to remain dormant, and he 
strove to develop affection in Jaqueli before all else. 
"I wish only to be a schoolmaster/' replied Pesta- 
lozzi, twenty years later, to those of his friends who 
had been brought into power by the Swiss Revolu 
tion of 1798, when they offered him administrative 
posts and lucrative appointments. His true voca 
tion was that of schoolmaster, and all his life he 
longed to teach, but very little of his time was so 
employed. Circumstances and events, which so 
often disturbed the long career in which we are about 
to follow him, prevented him from fulfilling his wish. 
He could not continue even the education of his 
son, which he had begun with such delight, at least 
not under the same conditions, in the isolation and 
privacy of family life. In 1775, the school for in 
digent children at Neuhof was opened ; and Pesta- 
lozzi, who was going to give his entire affections to 
the little unfortunates whom he had collected there, 
did still more: he gave them for a comrade his 
well-beloved son, Jaqueli, as though to show clearly 
that he was a father to them all. 


NEUHOF, Stans, Burgdorf, Yverdon, are the four 
stages of Pestalozzi's pedagogical apostolate, we 
may almost say the four stations of his Calvary; 
for, in the dreary shadow of his existence, darkened 
by so many clouds, the days of joy and peace were 
but passing gleams of light. At Neuhof his mis 
fortunes began. 

Pestalozzi had left Zurich, in 1768, to settle in the 
canton of Aargau, in the open country; he was 
impelled by various reasons. In the first place, the 
love of the country called to him. Like Rousseau, 
he had become disgusted with towns, and he would 
willingly have indorsed the saying, omne malum ex 
urbe. In addition to this, he had to seek a profes 
sion which would provide him with a livelihood. 
He naively believed that he was destined to become 
a farmer, and as a farmer he settled near Birr. After 
a makeshift establishment, he built an unassuming 
house, which he named Neuhof, "the new farm. 7 ' 
He established himself there, first with his mother, 
then with his young wife. He arrived rich in hope 



and in illusion. He reckoned on making a fortune 
by cultivating land which till then had been barren. 
He had gone through a rapid technical apprentice 
ship with Tschiffeli, an agriculturist in Berne can 
ton. He had returned with the horny hands of a 
field labourer and with a small stock of agronomic 
ideas. Furnished with this newly acquired knowl 
edge, he flattered himself that he would profitably 
work his rural domain and gain his independence: 
"I shall become independent of the whole world." 
By new methods of cultivation, by planting madder 
and starting gardening operations, he hoped to fer 
tilize the few acres of poor ground which he had 
bought at a cheap rate; just as he dreamed later of 
transforming difficult child natures by applying his 
personal methods of instruction. 

It was not, however, care for his material interests 
alone which sent Pestalozzi to live in the country. 
The young patriot of Zurich had not bidden farewell 
to his aspirations to become a reformer. If he went 
to the country people, it was out of sympathy for 
the wretchedness of the toilers of the fields. When 
quite little, he had said, "When I am big, I shall 
support the peasants." He wished now to keep 
his word, to seek the means of curing poverty and 
lightening the ignorance of the country people. 
This secret thought of becoming an educator in the 


village is shown clearly by what he wrote to his 
betrothed in 1768, to persuade her to follow him 
and to leave Zurich. "We must," said he, "set 
up our cottage home far from that centre of vice. . . . 
When I am in the country, if I see a child with prom 
ise of a beautiful mind, and in need of bread, I shall 
take it by the hand and make a good citizen of it." 
As Anna Schulthess, and especially her parents, 
became uneasy concerning the fortune that such 
an adventurous enterprise had in store for him, 
he invoked the high moral incentives of the services 
to be rendered to the poor and to humanity: "In 
order to be of service to our fellow-citizens, 
should we not restrict our personal needs? . . . 
To give poor children the milk which I like I 
shall joyfully content myself with drinking cold 
water. . . ." 

That is, moreover, what happened. Neuhof was 
not for long a simple agricultural undertaking. In 
spite of unremitting labour and prodigies of economy, 
the defeat was complete at the end of a few years. 
Bankruptcy was imminent. In vain generous 
friends, who tired eventually, had advanced funds 
to Pestalozzi. In vain his wife had made over the 
greater part of her patrimony. He struggled; he 
worked with his own hands; but all in vain. In 
1775, the ruin was complete. The fields on which 


he had built up illusory hopes, from which he 
expected extraordinary returns and profits, had 
to be sold. The ownership of the house and a 
few plots of land alone remained to him. And 
for the first time the ill-starred great man had 
to cry out: "The dream of my life has faded 
away! . . ." 

If, however, the agricultural enterprise of Neuhof 
ended in financial disaster, it was the occasion of a 
moral triumph. Ruined, having lost almost his all, 
what did Pestalozzi do? He opened a refuge for 
poor children. He himself was poor, to almost the 
same degree as the unfortunate children whom he 
harboured, fed, arid clothed, and whom he was at the 
same time trying to instruct and educate. With 
them he shared what little bread he had. Never 
was the spirit of sacrifice carried so far. It 
is in memory of this charitable effort that 
Pestalozzi was able to say, "I myself have lived 
like a beggar, that I might teach beggars to live 
like men.' 7 

Success seemed at first to attend this bold stroke. 
The refuge opened with a score of children. The 
number increased as time went on, but never ex 
ceeded a hundred. They were for the most part 
little vagrants, whom "the angel of beneficence," as 
Madame de Krudner called him, picked up at random 


and without selection, on the highways. Did they 
not need his help and care so much the more as they 
were more vicious and wretched? Boys or girls, 
they varied in age from ten to twenty. Some were 
natural children, without family. There were con 
victs' sons among the number. They came to him 
covered with rags and vermin. Never was less 
promising matter offered to the efforts of an edu 
cator. "They were/ 7 said he himself, " specimens 
of the lowest stage of humanity." 

Pestalozzi divided the time of these singular pupils 
between manual labor and a few intellectual exer 
cises, language lessons, moral and religious explana 
tions: "They were not allowed to forget God, their 
Father and Saviour; 77 and this was almost their 
entire mental training. During the greater part of 
the day, the children were busy in the garden or 
fields, or occupied in industrial work. For Pesta 
lozzi, fertile in expedients, had joined to his farm 
a cheese dairy and also spinning works. In the fine 
season, work was done in the open air ; on bad days 
and in winter, cotton was spun. Pestalozzi had en 
listed the services of a certain number of workmen, 
weavers or others. It was the application of one 
of the main ideas of his pedagogics : the association 
of handicraft with elementary education. A school 
without a workshop, a school which is not at the same 


time an apprenticeship to a livelihood, seemed an 
absurdity to him. 1 

Undoubtedly it is not to be supposed that dis 
tinguished men could issue from the school at Neu- 
hof, recruited as it was from such abnormal material. 
One, however, is mentioned, the painter Gottfried, 
celebrated under his cognomen of the "cat Raphael." 
What could be done with pupils of whom Pestalozzi, 
in an account published in 1778, gives us particulars 
such as the following? " Barbara Brunner is seven 
teen years old ; she came to us in a state of complete 
ignorance and extreme wildness. . . ." Another 
lass showed all the signs of an "unimaginable brut- 
ishness." The boys were no better. Pestalozzi por 
trays them for us, sly, distrustful, heedless, enfeebled 
by privation, accustomed to idling. Nevertheless, 
there is no doubt that the beneficent action of an 
ardent and enthusiastic educator had an influence 
for good on the character of some of these poor crea 
tures, whom he strove to deliver from the evil instincts 
of their nature and the depraved habits of their 
childhood. Very careful not to train them in ad 
vance of their future condition, he thought less about 
their instruction than about their moral regeneration. 

1 This is the idea which he set forth, at this period, in his Lettres 
sur V education de la jeunesse pauvre des campagnes. Seyffarth's 
edition, Vol. VIII. 


At the end of a few months, some, at least, of these 
fallen beings were quite transformed. They entered 
the refuge in an abject condition; they left it, if not 
cured of all their moral blemishes, at least perceptibly 
improved and capable of earning an honest living. 
The pedagogic trial of Neuhof was, however, to fail, 
as the agricultural undertaking had done. The estab 
lishment passed through crises, followed by some re 
turns of hope. In 1778, Pestalozzi wrote: " After a 
time of privation surpassing anything that could be 
imagined, my establishment is saved." Generous 
benefactors, indeed, had come to his assistance. From 
the beginning, in 1776, the philanthropist, Iselin, a 
native of Bale, who was " a veritable father" to him, 
had recommended this interesting attempt at regen 
erating the masses ' ' to the friends of humanity." Some 
subscriptions delayed the final ruin. Moreover, a large- 
hearted woman, a humble servant, Elisabeth Naf, 1 

1 Elisabeth Naf married, in 1802, Mathias Krusi, the brother 
of Pestalozzi's first collaborator. She it was who served for the 
pattern of the ideal woman personified in Gertrude, of whom Pesta 
lozzi said, likening her somewhat pompously to the sun : " Reader, 
I should like to find you a perceptible representation of this woman, 
so that her silent activity may be understood and admired. What 
I am about to say is tremendous, but I venture to say it: thus 
does God's sun journey from morn till eventide; . . . when it 
sinks to rest, you know that it will rise once more on the morrow, 
to reanimate the earth. . . . This great sun which is earth's 
life-giver is the image of Gertrude and of every woman who makes 
the family chamber into God's sanctuary. ..." 


had come to offer her services to Pestalozzi, 
and to bring back a little order into a house left 
somewhat neglected from^ sickness or the absences 
of Madame Pestalozzi. Elisabeth Naf, like Babeli, 
was the type of those daughters of the people 
who, by an admirable instinct of devotion, are 
attached for life to an unfortunate family. It is 
of Elisabeth that Pestalozzi said: "I should turn 
and be uneasy in my tomb, nor should I be happy 
even in heaven, if I did not know that after my 
death she will be more honoured than myself. . . . 
Without her, I should long have ceased to exist." 
But money difficulties multiplied. Always sub 
ject to illusions, Pestalozzi had hoped that the pupils' 
work would produce enough to cover the expenses of 
their maintenance. He himself attended the mar 
kets and fairs to sell his cotton stuffs and thread; 
but the receipts were wholly insufficient. His pupils 7 
lack of discipline also caused him bitter disappoint 
ment. Those who had relatives, worked upon by 
covetous families, no sooner received their new 
clothes from the generosity of the poorest of men, 
than they ran away and appeared no more. Those 
who were orphans were at times preferable. In the 
school itself, Pestalozzi could not make himself 
respected. The moment his back was turned, the 
rascals made fun of him. His crops were ravaged 


by hail. Epidemic diseases, measles and scab, 
raged amongst the children. Doctors were needed; 
but how were they to be paid? Courage cannot 
meet all needs. Never did Pestalozzi better appre 
ciate the disproportion between what he desired and 
what he could do. They suffered from cold, and at 
times from hunger. In 1780, Pestalozzi had to give 
up the impossible struggle, in which he had ex 
hausted all his strength and all his resources. 


EIGHTEEN years passed by years of material 
poverty and moral discouragement for Pestalozzi, 
from the day on which the last beggar child left 
the refuge at Neuhof to that on which the first 
orphan entered the refuge at Stans. A period of 
waiting and inaction, during which "he ate away 
his heart/ 7 as he said, " swallowed up in the mire of 
his wretchedness/ ' living the life "of a plant trampled 
at the roadside/' Pestalozzi spent these sad years 
at Neuhof, in the humble dwelling which he had 
retained. Neuhof, moreover, was always his chosen 
abode. There his son had been born; there he had 
reared him; thither he returned when his term of 
life was coming to an end, weary and ill, to write 
Destinees de ma vie, the Chant du Cygne, a kind 
of autobiography, and then to die. From 1780 to 
1798, he often knew dire privation. But he suffered 
still more from the feeling of his powerlessness, from 
the downfall of his hopes, and from the interruption 
to his career of activity. He had not even the con 
solation of his neighbours ' sympathy. The peasants, 



who have no great liking for unsuccessful enter 
prises, looked on him as a poor madman. 

At any rate, whilst waiting for the means of re 
commencing his life of action, he worked with his 
mind; he meditated and wrote. These eighteen 
years were not lost. It was at this time that he 
composed most of his works. In 1780, he published 
the Soiree d'un ermite, a series of reflections pre 
sented in the form of short aphorisms, having for 
their main object the raising of the people by edu 
cation; in 1781 appeared the first volume of Leonard 
et Gertrude, the celebrated popular novel, which had 
a brilliant success and which made him famous in 
a day; the three last parts were issued in 1783, 1785, 
and 1787 ; l but the public welcome was colder for 
these. In 1782, Pestalozzi published Christophe 
et Else, another novel, "the second book for the 
people," which passed unnoticed, and which he had 
designed as an educational manual for the use of 
the actual school (Realschule), and of the universal 
school. Lastly, in 1797, appeared the Fables, which 
he had begun to write about 1782, and which, whilst 
possessing a certain literary value, are especially 
social in character; and a work which he considered 

1 Among Pestalozzi's unpublished manuscripts have been found 
two other supplementary parts of Leonard et Gertrude: the fifth, 
in which he dealt with government, and the sixth, which is purely 


the most important of his writings, the Recherches 
sur la marche de la nature dans le developpement de 
V esprit humain. This was an essay on general phi 
losophy, in which, in spite of painstaking effort, the 
inadequacy and weakness of his abstract thought are 
left too much in evidence by the author. Beyond 
all doubt, Pestalozzi had literary talent ; and Leonard 
et Gertrude, besides the Fables, proves that by his 
simple conceptions, his penetrating, intimate ob 
servations, and, above all, by his feeling, he was 
capable of distinguishing himself in works of popular 
literature. But he was by no means equipped for 
a work of philosophic generalization. The Recherches, 
though they obtained Fichte's attention, were not 
at all successful and scarcely deserved to be. Pesta 
lozzi might have had more success if he had tried 
dramatic literature, as at one time he thought of 
doing : he might have inaugurated, a hundred years 
in advance, the " Popular Plays." 

Pestalozzi had become an author from necessity 
still more than from liking. "I would have made 
wigs," said he, mournfully, "to give bread to my 
wife and child." But his writings, if they were his 
livelihood, earned him besides a beginning of repu 
tation and glory. The hermit of Neuhof, scoffed 
at and ridiculed by his near neighbours, became a 
personage afar off. The legislative Assembly con- 


ferred on him the title of French citizen by the de 
cree of the 26th August, 1792, in which it was stated 
that "men who, by their writings and their courage, 
had served the cause of liberty and freedom of mind 
could not be looked upon as foreigners in France/' 
Pestalozzi's name was there written down in good 
company, beside glorious names, such as Washing 
ton, Kosciusko, Schiller, Klopstock, and a few others. 

From Germany also came to him precious testi 
mony of interest and sympathy. In the same year 
which saw him proclaimed a French citizen, he was 
favourably received, on making a journey to Leipzig, 
by Goethe, Wieland, Klopstock, and Herder. In 
the following year, he entered into relations with 
Fichte, who was to remain his friend forever, and 
who said of him: "He is ugly, he is dressed like a 
peasant, but he is so full of feeling that few men can 
compare with him." 

The author's success did not make Pestalozzi 
forget the fundamental aspiration of his life. He 
still wished to be a teacher, but there was to be a 
revolution ere he could resume the role, and then 
only for a very short time, in the improvised or 
phanage, which the new government of the Swiss 
Confederation organized at Stans, in 1798. 

In Pestalozzi's academic life, the Stans experi 
ment appears to us to have been the heroic moment, 


the moment when he was most truly himself, and 
when he showed most clearly all the treasures of 
devotion and tenderness which his heart contained. 
He was fifty-two years old. Already, as his friend 
Stapfer, minister of arts and sciences, said, "he was 
fighting against the approach of old age." And at 
an age when some of our teachers already think 
of taking their pension, he undertook the direction 
of a school of children, aged from six to ten, under 
most unfavourable conditions. There was, indeed, 
nothing tempting in the task. It has been said, 
and not without reason, that in choosing Pestalozzi, 
the Swiss Directorate made a blunder. The up 
bringing of orphans in a devastated country, laid 
waste by the civil war, was to be undertaken, and 
it was a representative of the victorious party, it 
was a democrat and heretic, who was sent to the 
vanquished people in their exasperation. Pesta 
lozzi came to preach peace and humanity in a region, 
the Nildwalden, where, on the very eve of his arrival, 
the French army, joined to the Swiss army, had 
waged a cruel war. Nearly four hundred men, 
women, and children had been killed ; as many houses 
had been burned; priests had been massacred at 
the altars; Stans had been half destroyed by fire. 
Moreover, it was a Protestant who was sent as 
educator to a devout Catholic population, made 


fanatical by the preaching of the Capuchins, to make 
trial of lay education in a transformed convent. 

Pestalozzi knew what obstacles he would encoun 
ter. Anybody else would have been afraid, but 
he had no hesitation. He had so long been pining 
away "in rage and despair" at his inaction. He 
issued from a species of moral death throe. The 
mission offered him at Stans was for him a resurrec 
tion. He was at last to be able to apply the ideas 
which he had set forth in Leonard et Gertrude. 
"I am effacing the shame of my life," said he, in a 
triumphant shout. ... "I feel myself become a 
man again." He perceived no better possible em 
ployment for his activity than to struggle against 
stupidity, coarseness, ignorance, and vice. The gov 
ernment had thought of intrusting him with the 
control of a normal school. He preferred to go to the 
infants, feeling strongly that elementary education 
was his true vocation. "To realize my life's dream 
I would have agreed to go and make my attempt on 
the highest summits of the Alps, without fire or 
water. . . ." 

There have been Swiss historians who have blamed 
Pestalozzi for taking part in the work of the Swiss 
Revolution, and treating with the French army 
which fought for it. We know of nothing, on the 
contrary, which does more honour to Pestalozzi 


than his having resolutely joined with those of his 
compatriots who were friends of progress, and conse 
quently having sided with France and the Revolu 
tion. At this period he was at heart a Frenchman. 
It was not without a measure of patriotic pride 
that we saw, in the Pestalozzianum at Zurich, one 
of his manuscripts, an Appel aux habitants des bords 
du Lac, signed: "Pestalozzi, citizen of Zurich and 
citizen of France." So long as the Revolution aimed 
only at serving the cause of emancipation of the peo 
ple, Pestalozzi remained faithful to it. In the 
Helvetisches Volkblatt, a newspaper in which he 
wrote before settling at Stans, he addressed eloquent 
discourses to his fellow-citizens, at the time when 
France asked Switzerland to furnish her with a 
contingent of eighteen thousand armed auxiliaries: 
"0 my native land, rejoice! France, the great na 
tion, takes thee by the hand in a passion of brotherly 
love. ... It is no small honour to go and learn the 
profession of arms beside the legions of Bonaparte, 
Jourdan, and Moreau, and to train yourselves for 
the service of your fatherland in the heroic army 
of the French. . . ." It was not till later that 
Pestalozzi's affections turned from France when he 
saw its generous aspirations followed by the bloody 
dashes across Europe and the ambitious follies of 
Napoleon's despotism. 


The material settlement at Stans was of the most 
miserable kind. Pestalozzi was assisted only by 
a charwoman: "I myself was governor, accountant, 
man-servant, and almost maid-servant, in a wreck 
of a house." The workmen were engaged in putting 
the refuge to rights, with the orphans already in 
possession. Pestalozzi had to attend to a thousand 
material cares, to busy himself with the food and 
clothing of all this little company of eighty children, 
of whom the majority were confined in the school. 
He slept in their midst; he cared for and nursed 
them with a mother's tenderness. He surrounded 
them with his love : "It was necessary," said he, that 
from morn till night, these poor forsaken ones should 
feel that my heart was with them, and that their 
happiness was mine." By the constant influence 
of his presence and the radiance of his sympathy 
he took possession of these little souls. "I laughed 
and cried with them. . . ." With them he was ill, 
in a refuge which was less a school than a children's 
hospital: "We all coughed," said he, "within the 
damp walls of a newly reconstructed house, and in 
a particularly severe winter." 

In a long, affecting letter addressed to his Zurich 
friend, the bookseller Gessner, son of the author 
of Idylles, Pestalozzi recounted the means which he 
employed to begin the intellectual and moral edu- 


cation of his pupils at Stans. One word sums them 
up : action. He acted unceasingly. He spoke ; he 
taxed himself unreservedly. In class, he went from 
pupil to pupil, encouraging the hard-working and 
rebuking the idle. An extraordinary animation, 
a sustained attention on the part of the pupils, re 
warded the master's efforts. "They had the desire, 
they found the power," said he; "they persevered; 
they were joyous. They felt dormant and unknown 
forces awakening within them." The tedium which 
too often accompanies study had disappeared like 
a shadow from the school. Those who visited 
Pestalozzi at Stans bear most favourable testimony 
to the progress which had been accomplished in a 
few weeks: "One cannot believe one's eyes/ 7 wrote 
Vicar Businger. "When I entered the class room," 
said Zschokke, the publicist, in his turn, "the chil 
dren were so engrossed in their work that they hardly 
lifted their heads." Some were learning letters and 
figures ; some were calculating, others were drawing. 
The only master for rather a large number of pupils, 
Pestalozzi called on the more advanced to guide 
the weaker ones. They were, added Zschokke, 
grouped in threes; the eldest, placed in the middle, 
put his arms around his little comrades' necks, the 
better to conduct their work. It was a beginning 
of mutual instruction. Intellectual exercises, as at 


Neuhof, alternated with manual labour. In short, 
the results came up to Pestalozzi's expectations. 
"I was convinced/' said he, "that my heart would 
correct and change the character of my children 
by the time the spring sun came and revived the 
earth benumbed by winter. And, indeed, before 
the spring had melted the snow on our mountains, 
my pupils were no longer recognizable. In their 
angels' eyes and their transparent glances, I saw 
the progress of their souls. . . ." What Pestalozzi 
said of the Pere Girard can be applied to himself: 
"The Pere Girard works miracles; with mud he 
makes gold." 

The course of events abruptly interrupted Pesta- 
lozzi's courageous trial. The exigencies of the war, 
which had begun again, required that the orphans 7 
refuge should become a military hospital. The 
little mountain dwellers had to make room for sick 
and wounded soldiers. The experiment had lasted 
less than six months, from the 14th of January, 1799, 
to the 8th of June in the same year. Assuredly 
one could not think of suggesting it as a model for 
imitation, any more than it would be possible to 
make general the ideal education invented by Rous 
seau for his Emile. The " Stans folly," as it has been 
called, though it was a reality, should only be con 
sidered as a hazardous enterprise upon which none 


but an exceptional man may venture. Where find 
another Peotalozzi, animated with the same fer 
vour? He himself could not have long continued 
such an effort. Whilst the little flock prospered, the 
shepherd, indeed, was becoming exhausted. He had 
reached the end of his strength and was spitting 
blood. He left for the mountains, for the heights 
of Gurnigel, grieved to see his work interrupted, 
determined to take it up again, when he was able, 
on the first opportunity, but under the necessity 
of restoring his strength and health, in the complete 
repose and salubrious air of the high mountains. 
It was from the height of Gurnigel that he said, 
whilst contemplating the vast perspectives and 
beautiful scenery of the valleys of Switzerland, 
stretching away into the distance in front of him: 
"I admire the beauty of the landscape, but I think 
chiefly of the poor people who dwell in these pictu 
resque valleys, of those who suffer there from bad 
instruction, ignorance, and misery!" 

Roger de Guimps, who was one of the best stu 
dents and most observant biographers of Pestalozzi, 
wrote, after he had journeyed, about 1870, through 
the Aargau countryside, and had made a pilgrimage 
to Neuhof: "We saw no poverty-stricken people; 
everywhere a hard-working and prosperous popula 
tion, well- cultivated lands, and good schools. . . . 


If Pestalozzi did not succeed in his practical attempts 
at improving the people of these parts, the prin 
ciples which inspired his enterprise have ended by 
bearing their fruit." The same reflections came to 
us when, a few months ago, we were about to visit 
Stans for the purpose of there evoking the memory 
of Pestalozzi's passage. In this retired corner of 
Switzerland, where, a hundred years ago, he found 
the ruins of the civil war and awakened hatreds, 
where he was ill-received by a hostile populace, - 
he who, as does happen, brought liberty in the guise 
of oppression, he is to-day forgotten. But all 
is gay and smiling in the pretty little town of Stans, 
situated a few miles from the beautiful Lake Lucerne. 
The inhabitants seem happy, cured of all hatred, 
and quieted in republican liberty. All around the 
little town stretch cultivated fields and rich pas 
tures, strewn with enormous apple trees and vener 
able pear trees, which perchance Pestalozzi saw 
planted, and which are loaded with abundant fruit 
each year. From the height of the terrace of the 
Stanserhorn, which, from its altitude of 6300 feet, 
dominates the plain of Stans lying at its feet, whilst 
looking at this pretty white village in its setting of 
verdure, I said to myself that, despite appearances, 
men such as Pestalozzi do not pass useless through 
the world; that human thought also bears its fruit, 


since, by the continuation of its effort and with the 
help of time, it succeeds in bringing about the reign 
of peace, comfort, and happiness, where before was 
only fanaticism, war, and misery ; and that if Pesta- 
lozzi is forgotten at Stans, at least the dreams which 
he conceived for the happiness of humanity are in 
part realized in this corner of the universe as else 

IT was at Burgdorf, the second town in the can 
ton of Berne, that teacher Pestalozzi was called again 
to active service, some months after the closing of 
the orphanage at Stans. And to speak the truth, 
this was the only time that he was truly a teacher 
in the proper sense of the word, in a regular school, 
and had a class : a small class, however, of children 
of both sexes not yet able to read. He found that 
he was at the same time, as he said, "the most subor 
dinate of masters, and the reformer of education." 
And for a year he occupied himself, a humble assist 
ant master, "in pushing the modest wheelbarrow 
of the A B C." 

I do not know whether the assistant teacher of 
the infants' class at Burgdorf, if visited by a present- 
day inspector, would have obtained from him a 
good " Inspection report." I fear that he would 
have been unfavourably commented on in more than 
one respect : thus he liberally bestowed boxes on the 
ear, in his movements of impatience ; he spoke very 
quickly and shouted at the top of his voice ; he gave 



scarcely any explanations to his pupils, and con 
fined himself to making them mechanically repeat 
letters, then syllables and words. He did not fol 
low a regular time-table. But, on the other hand, 
how can we refrain from admiring the devotion and 
zeal of the " celebrated old man," as the official 
reports styled him already, who, still young under 
his gray hair, strove to teach the alphabet to chil 
dren of from five to eight years old ? The inspectors 
of that time, the members of the Berne scholastic 
commission, who visited the school in July, 1800, 
after only eight months' work, had nothing but 
praise for him: "Your pupils," they said, "have 
made astonishing progress ; the cleverest are already 
distinguishing themselves in penmanship, drawing, 
and calculation. . . . You have shown what powers 
are present in the youngest children, and the means 
by which these powers can and should be developed." 
After such a favourable inspection, Pestalozzi 
really deserved promotion, and he obtained it. 
From the infants' class, in which he was only as 
sistant, he went as superintendent to the "second 
boys' school" ; the first was in the hands of a teacher 
who at the same time carried on the trade of shoe 
maker, and had not been willing to authorize Pesta 
lozzi to conduct his experiments with him. Burg- 
dorf castle was assigned to the new establishment. 


Almost at once, however, the primary school was 
transformed into the "Burgdorf Educational In 
stitute," a composite, mixed establishment, half 
school, half college, of which Pestalozzi took con 
trol, obtaining the cooperation of his first collabo 
rators, Krusi, Buss, and Tobler. 1 

Hardly had it begun, when the longed-for teacher's 
career was already ended for Pestalozzi. Hence 
forth he was something quite different from what 
he wished to be : he was the head of an institution, 
the superintendent of a great establishment for 

1 Hermann Krusi, born in 1775, at Gais, in the canton of 
Appenzell, was twenty-five years of age when he came to Burg- 
dorf with a certain number of Appenzell children, and opened 
a school there. Pestalozzi obtained his cooperation in 1800, and 
thenceforward Krusi continued his collaboration. We tell else 
where how he became a teacher. He left the Yverdon institute 
some time before that establishment was closed; and, after Pesta- 
lozzi's death, he became superintendent, first of a cantonal school 
at Trogen, and later of a normal school at Gais. At Burgdorf 
and Yverdon he was principally intrusted with the language 
exercises and with natural history. Roger de Guimps pays tribute 
to his moral qualities. He died in 1844. Buss was a native of 
Wiirttemberg. It was Tobler who brought him to Pestalozzi, as 
a specialist in drawing and singing. Tobler went to Burgdorf 
some months later than Buss. He was born in Appenzell in 1769. 
He died in 1843. He was directing a poor children's school at 
Bale, when his friend Krusi sent there for him in 1800 and per 
suaded him to rejoin Pestalozzi. He taught geography chiefly. 
He left Yverdon long before the dissolution of the college, and, in 
1810, he had already founded an industrial school at Mulhouse. 
He afterwards directed other establishments. 


secondary education, or at the very least for higher 
elementary education; he had a boarding-school 
to govern, big boys to instruct, and quite a body of 
professors to direct. What cares and difficulties 
awaited him in functions for which he knew quite 
well that he was unsuited! More than once he 
thought of resigning, of becoming a teacher once 
again, and of leaving what he called his " galley- 
slave's bench." In spite of all, for twenty-five years 
he devoted himself obstinately to his task, with 
varying fortunes, and valiantly bore "a burden 
which overwhelmed him." He resided at Burgdorf 
until the 1st of July, 1804 ; in 1804, for a few months 
at Miinchenbuchsee, in the neighbourhood of Hofwyl, 
where Fellenberg, 1 his intermittent friend, continued 
his philanthropic attempts; lastly, at Yverdon, in 
the canton of Vaud, from the 1st of July, 1805, 
till 1825. "What a pity/ 7 wrote the Pere Girard 
in his celebrated Rapport on the institution at Yver 
don, "that Pestalozzi has been taken away from 

1 Fellenberg (Emmanuel de), born in 1771, died in 1844, played 
a great part in the history of Swiss education. He is the pedagogue 
venerated in Berne, as is the Pere Girard in Fribourg, and Pesta 
lozzi in Zurich and the whole of Switzerland. His aim was analo 
gous to that of Pestalozzi, whose methods he rated highly in spite 
of the very lively disagreements which he had with him. Like 
Pestalozzi, in his Institut agricole, in his Institut des pauvres, etc., 
he wished to base the people's education on the combination of 
manual labour with instruction. 


the career which he chose with such affection. 
The primary school, the model of all the others, was 
then nothing but a vision in his restless and labori 
ous life ! . . ." 

This was just what Pestalozzi himself felt : " What 
I desired was not the possession of an establishment, 
it was the consummation of my method." And, 
in fact, as far as his administrative cares permitted, 
he did not cease to pursue in his institutions this 
intangible " Method" which he had outlined in his 
books and made trial of in the refuges, the orphanages 
and the schools, without having as yet succeeded in 
defining it. At times he fancied that it should not 
be restricted to childhood, that it could be extended 
and applied to the more advanced studies of his new 
pupils. He intrusted to his collaborators the care 
of its elucidation, by preparing practical books, in 
conformity with its principles. In 1803, Krusi and 
Buss drew up Exercices intuitifs sur les nombres and 
Exerdces intuitifs sur les formes et les grandeurs. On 
his part Pestalozzi had written, as early as 1801, an 
Instruction pour apprendre a lire et a epeler, and par 
ticularly the most important of his pedagogic works, 
Comment Gertrude instruit ses enfants. 

The success of the institution at Burgdorf added 
to the reputation which Pestalozzi had already 
made. This educational establishment, we read in 


an official document, was the object of an extraor 
dinary infatuation. It was eulogized by legions of 
people. The number of pupils did not, however, 
exceed a hundred. Amongst them was Ramsauer, 
of Appenzell, who recounted humorously, and not 
without malice, his old school-boy memories. 1 

About the year 1803, fresh collaborators gathered 
round the master : the Alsatian Neef ; 2 Barraud from 
Vaud, whom, some years later, Pestalozzi had to 
send to France, at the request of Maine de Biran; 
Pfeiffer the musician ; Muralt the theologian, 3 who 
just missed being the teacher of Madame de Stae'Ps 
children; Pastor Niederer, 4 a lettered theologian, 

1 See Ramsauer's work: Kurze Skisse meines padagogischen 
Lebens. 1838. 

2 Neef was chiefly occupied with the education of the deaf and 
dumb. He went to Paris in 1803, and taught there for a time; 
then he went to the United States and settled there. 

3 Muralt, born at Zurich in 1780, was Pestalozzi's collaborator 
from 1803 until 1810. 

4 Niederer, like Krusi a native of Appenzell, had from afar 
conceived an admiration for Pestalozzi. He went to Burgdorf, in 
1803, to superintend the religious instruction there. In 1814, 
he married Rosette Kasthofer, the teacher, who, since 1808, had 
been superintending the girls' institution attached to the boys' 
institution. Pestalozzi called him "the first of his sons," but he 
had great cause to complain of him, and finished by giving the 
preference to Schmid. In the last years of Pestalozzi's life, 
Niederer, having become estranged from him, founded at Yver- 
don an institution for girls, which prospered and which he trans 
ferred to Geneva in 1837. He died in 1843. 


who scarcely left Pestalozzi again, and lastly Schmid, 
first and foremost a mathematician. 1 The scope of 
the teaching was enlarged, thanks to these numerous 
special collaborations. All subjects were studied: 
chemistry, algebra, and also the dead languages. 
Pestalozzi himself tried to draw up Latin exercises. 
But the pupils became noted principally for their 
dexterity in drawing and in mental arithmetic; 
and in this the influence of the " Method" declared 
itself. The discipline, moreover, was liberal and 
gentle: "It is not a school but a great family that 
I see," exclaimed a visitor. "Of all petty tyrants," 
said Pestalozzi, "the worst are school tyrants;" 
and he wanted no tyrants, either small or great. 

It was not of his own free will that Pestalozzi, 
in 1804, gave up his first institution, in the full tide 
of prosperity. Political happenings, however, dis 
possessed him of Burgdorf castle, which once more 
became what it was before, the seat of the public 
authorities for the district. This is still its function 
at the present day. We recently visited Pesta- 
lozzi's old residence. It is reached by a difficult 

1 Joseph Schmid, the chosen of Pestalozzi, was born in 1786 in 
the Tyrol. Having entered Burgdorf as a pupil in 1801, at six 
teen years of age, he made such rapid progress that, two years 
later, he was capable of teaching arithmetic. "I had," said he, 
"found in Pestalozzi a second father." After the master's death, 
he settled in Paris, where he died in 1851. Schmid was a Catholic. 


path which follows steep slopes, and it is situated 
at the highest-lying part of the pretty industrial 
town, which is proud of its Technikum, a school for 
engineers, electricians, and architects. One cannot 
help thinking, whilst ascending the hard-paved 
road, of all the people of inquiring mind who were 
attracted to it a century ago by Pestalozzi 's grow 
ing fame. . Herbart, the favourite at the present day 
of Swiss, German, and American pedagogues, visited 
it; and after him a large number of German and 
Danish educators, who came to make themselves 
familiar with the processes of the Pestalozzian method, 
the majority returning captivated and convinced, to 
spread it in their respective countries. Those times 
are distant. I entered the inner courtyard of the 
castle, lonely and silent. On a wall a medallion of 
Pestalozzi may be seen, and beside it there is an 
inscription in German to inform us that this is a 
token of gratitude, dedicated to his memory, in 
1888, by the town of Burgdorf. Another inscription 
calls to mind that Pestalozzi uttered " these divine 
words": "Love your brothers, be not in love with 
yourself, " and that they are taken from the book 
which he composed in this very place, Comment 
Gertrude, etc. This is all that remains of Pestalozzi 
in Burgdorf. From the inner courtyard of the castle 
a superb panorama is visible : the green, industrial 


valley of the Emmenthal; nearer at hand, thick 
forests, escarpments, and rocks; nearer still, the 
lower town, in which Pestalozzi was a teacher. The 
castle itself gives an impression of profound melan 
choly. I look closely, and see barred windows: 
I even seem to hear smothered groans. This is 
because the old castle is a prison. By a curious irony 
of fate, the school from which in former times came 
words of confidence in human dignity, eloquent ap 
peals for nobility of conscience and for liberty of 
existence, is now a place of detention for wrong-doers. 
At the precise moment that I cross the threshold 
on leaving, I pass a constable who is escorting a 
prisoner, a vagabond of twenty years of age. The 
unhappy man is going to be isolated in a cell. Pes 
talozzi, in the simplicity of his candid soul, would 
have received him very differently, with words of 
encouragement ; he would doubtless have wished to 
attempt to regenerate him also by instruction. . . . 
Indeed, was it not thus, or nearly so, that one day 
he addressed a criminal who was about to be con 
fined in a prison cell? In a friendly way he took 
his hand, slipped a coin into it, and said to him: 
"If you had received a good education, you would 
now be an honest man and a useful citizen. It 
would not be necessary to chain you up like a 


It was at Yverdon, even more than at Burgdorf, 
that Pestalozzi knew the delights of glory. There 
he had moments of real celebrity. Pupils flocked 
from all countries, from England, Italy, Spain, and 
France as much as from Switzerland and Germany. 
Some were refused from lack of space. Yverdon 
became a cosmopolitan college, and the times were 
heavy with ambition. "We were told that the eyes 
of the world were fixed on us," narrates a pupil. 
Visitors were so numerous as to interfere with the 
order and the regularity of study. In the eyes of 
foreigners Yverdon Institute was, as it were, one 
of the curiosities of Switzerland. People visited 
Pestalozzi as they made an excursion to a noted 
peak or a glacier, or as they go at the present day 
to Interlaken or Zermatt to admire the forces of 
nature. Pestalozzi lent himself complaisantly to 
these exhibitions, in which he saw a means of propa 
gating his theories. When a visitor of note was 
announced, he at once sent for one of his best collab 
orators: "Take your best pupils," said he to him, 
"and show what they know best." They applied 
themselves to displaying the institute in the most 
favourable light. The most sincere of men succumb 
at times to the temptation of a certain charlatanism. 
Their excuse is that they are seeking the triumph 
of their ideas. "A prince is coming to see us," 


said Pestalozzi; "he is the master of a great number 
of serfs ; when we have convinced him he will have 
them educated." 

But Pestalozzi did not content himself with the 
propaganda carried on for him by his visitors: 
Madame de Stael, Froebel, Maine de Biran, the queen 
of Wurttemberg, to mention only the most illustrious. 
He did not shrink from any exertion to evangelize 
the world. Thus, in 1802, with an official mission, 
moreover, as a member of the Consulta helvetique, 
he journeyed to Paris, nursing the secret hope of 
gaining Bonaparte himself to his cause. "Switzer 
land is too small," said he, "for what I would wish 
to be. My ideas are cosmopolitan." But his recep 
tion at Paris was not of a nature to encourage him. 
"I have no time to occupy myself with questions of 
ABC," declared the First Consul, plainly. And 
Talleyrand, who a little later was present at a prac 
tical exhibition of the Pestalozzian method, in the 
class held by Neef, decided disdainfully: "It is too 
much for the people !" Monge also, the founder of 
the Polytechnic School, had said, "It is too much 
for us !" Do not let us be astonished, after this, at 
the severity of the opinion which Pestalozzi pro 
nounced concerning France: "French children could 
be made into the finest men in the world, if they 
were brought up by German hands. French women 


are good, but the men are worth nothing! . . ." 
Let us find consolation in thinking that Pestalozzi 
had judged us somewhat hastily, as he only stayed 
a few weeks in Paris. 

Pestalozzi always looked for powerful protectors. 
He was well aware that the individual action of 
a few enthusiastic dreamers, such as himself, is far 
from being sufficient to secure the success of the 
most necessary reforms, that the support of govern 
ments and the cooperation of legislators is essential. 
"I am looking for a minister who is a man," he 
exclaimed. He thought that he had found him, 
in 1808, when his friend Nicolovius, having become 
a State Councillor and one of the directors of public 
education in Prussia, informed him of the schemes 
for reform which the king befriended : "My dream/' 
cried he, " shows me in Frederick- William the hero 
of love as opposed to the heroes of war !" He hung 
on, if I may use the expression, to all the sovereigns 
who passed near him. In 1814, when Czar Alex 
ander the First came to Bale, Pestalozzi hastened 
to visit him. Without hesitation, he asked of him 
the emancipation of the serfs and the reform of the 
schools in Russia. What he obtained from him 
was a cross, the Saint- Vladimir decoration of the 
fourth class. In the same year, Frederick- William 
the First, king of Prussia, passed through Neuchatel. 


Pestalozzi, though sick and feeble, asked audience 
of him. To his friends who wished to dissuade him, 
he replied: "I must see him, though it kill me! 
Should my visit result only in obtaining a better 
education for a single child, I shall be amply rewarded 
for my trouble. . . ." 

But it was especially in the organization of the 
studies in a college of which he was the soul, that 
Pestalozzi displayed all the efforts of his activity. 
The programme of a school day at Yverdon was 
nearly as follows: The pupils left their beds 
at six o'clock. Pestalozzi, however, was awake 
before them, and he was known to summon 
the masters to his bedside as early as two o'clock 
in the morning, to give them his instructions. 
Having got up, the collegians went into the 
courtyard, and there, in the open air, washed 
in cold water spurting out of a long pipe, 
pierced with holes, which brought the water 
from a neighbouring well. Pestalozzi began the 
day with a religious or moral lecture, in presence 
of the professors and the assembled pupils: it was 
the happy custom which in our times Felix Pecant 
has so brilliantly reestablished in the Normal School 
at Fontenay-aux-Roses. None of the lessons lasted 
longer than an hour. They were varied by recrea 
tion and walks on the neighbouring mountains. 


Manual labour, working in pasteboard and garden 
ing, alternated with study. Each pupil had a small 
plot of ground to cultivate. Physical training, of 
which Pestalozzi hardly ever speaks, was not neg 
lected. 1 Some exercises in gymnastics were gone 
through. In the evening, from seven o'clock till 
eight, was the time for free intellectual work: the 
pupils worked for themselves, wrote letters, or 
practised drawing. Singing played an important 
part : they sang all the time and everywhere, in the 
intervals between lessons, at play, and out walking. 
The masters mixed with the pupils during their 
games, and played with them. There were neither 
punishments nor rewards. Pestalozzi did not wish 
for either rivalry or fear. The professors went to 
report three times a week. Pestalozzi frequently 
received the children in groups of five or six. At 
times he stopped them in the corridors, and said to 
them, "And you, too, don't you want to be good 
and well-behaved?" He admitted no discipline 
other than that of duty, or rather of affection and 
love. He was not a master to his pupils: he 
was "Father Pestalozzi/' and they all were his 

1 See the twentieth letter to Greaves, in which Pestalozzi recom 
mends gymnastics, especially from the point of view of their moral 


Such a regimen very nearly approximated to that 
which the reformers of our time are endeavouring 
to introduce into some new foundations, such as the 
"College of Normandy," or the "Des Roches School." 
It was at that time a great novelty, and there is no 
occasion for surprise at the success with which it 
met. Side by side with brilliant pages, however, 
the story of Yverdon contains many painful recitals. 
There Pestalozzi was in turn the most celebrated 
and acclaimed of educators, and the most decried 
and vilified of men. A series of intrigues were 
carried on around him. Wretched quarrels divided 
the collaborators, whose cooperation he had been 
obliged to obtain for special subjects, owing to the 
mediocrity of his own learning. Undoubtedly he 
had had the good fortune, thanks to the attraction 
which he exercised over the minds of men, to obtain 
the help of a great number of active, intelligent 
young men. But unfortunately nearly all the most 
distinguished and learned of these professors had very 
bad dispositions: egotistical and absolute in their 
opinions, if they possessed the knowledge which Pes 
talozzi lacked, they were wanting in kindliness, which 
constituted his power. How was it possible to suc 
ceed in conciliating and keeping united masters who, 
to begin with, differed in nationality and in racial 
characteristics, there were, at Yverdon, Germans, 


Frenchmen, and Italians, and who also differed 
in their aims? How was it possible, for example, 
to make the idealistic theologian Niederer work in 
harmony with the realistic mathematician Schmid? 
To succeed in this would have required the energetic 
control of an administrator like Fellenberg, whom 
Pestalozzi called "the man of iron," a tact and 
skill which, being entirely without it, he did not 

Hence a series of internal dissensions, quarrels 
followed by reconciliations, departures and returns. 
There was a perpetual coming and going of profess 
ors who could not manage to agree, and who, after 
abusing each other, abused the master himself. 
The conflict was incessant. Pestalozzi was con 
tinually obliged to intervene in order to restore 
peace, a precarious and temporary peace at that. 
He addressed pathetic speeches, interrupted by sobs, 
to his collaborators. He asked pity for himself: 
"I entreat Mr. and Mrs. Niederer," wrote he, "to 
spare me the martyrdom which I have suffered 
for six years." At times, worn out, his patience at 
an end, he escaped from this "hell," and took 
refuge alone in the mountains, at Bullet, where 
he composed verses of melancholy resignation: 
"In days of tempest, God strengthened me, . . . 


He was, in addition, attacked from without. 1 
In every time and country, fanatics have been found 
to decry innovators. He was accused of counte 
nancing anti-Christian doctrines. Did he not dare 
to write that "man can do all things, that his will 
is enough, and that he should rely on himself alone " ? 
Those of his colleagues who had remained ortho 
dox Protestants were the first to cast stones at 
him. 2 

Yet he was religious; he had a pious mind: "I 
recognize the hand of God/ 7 he said, whenever any 
thing auspicious happened to him. But he was not 
forgiven for contenting himself with natural religion, 
with a philosophic deism such as Rousseau professed, 
and with a rational Christianity. "The mystery 

1 Among his most violent detractors must be mentioned an 
Englishman, Biber, who had been employed for some time in the 
institute. He published, in 1827, a veritable pamphlet against 
Pestalozzi, an " impious book/' said M. Guillaume, in which Pes- 
talozzi was described as a " charlatan " and a " hypocrite " : 
Beitrag zur Biographie Pestalozzis. In addition to this German 
work, Biber published, in 1831, a book entitled : H. Pestalozzi and 
Ms plan of Education, which we would not have mentioned, if we 
had not recently learned from Mr. Herbert Spencer himself, who 
nevertheless most accurately appreciated the strength and the 
weakness of the Pestalozzian method, that it was through this 
book alone that he knew Pestalozzi. 

2 Several books have been written in Germany on Pestalozzi's 
religious ideas. See Burkart, H. Pestalozzi etait-il un incredule? 
Leipzic, 1841 ; Heer, Sur la methode de Pestalozzi consideree comme 
lefordement d'une education chretienne. Zurich, 1870. 


of the Trinity/' he said, "is not in the Bible, 
Jesus is simply the greatest of men." 

Pestalozzi's sensitive soul suffered cruelly from 
all these troubles. In vain did he cry out: "I am 
master in my own house." The poor man, in propor 
tion as he aged, grew weaker and more irritable, and 
became more and more the plaything and dupe of 
his associates. In 1820, he could still delude himself ; 
he exclaimed: "I feel happy now. . . . Praise be 
to God ! All goes well. The evening of my life is 
peaceful and serene. . . ." This did not last. 
The decay of the institution began about 1824, 
and became ever more rapid. The pupils lessened 
in number. His most faithful friends deserted him. 
Jealous of Schmid, who, from 1815, reigned as master, 
Niederer and Krusi established, in Yverdon itself, 
rival schools in which they claimed to inherit the 
Pestalozzian spirit, which, according to them, was 
with Pestalozzi no longer. In addition to this 
the State Council of the canton of Vaud demanded 
the dismissal of Schmid, from whom Pestalozzi did 
not wish to be separated. At last, wearied and 
discouraged, the good old man resigned himself to 
a fresh renunciation, and left Yverdon for good 
on the 2d of March, 1826. "It was," said he, "as 
though I were putting an end to my life, so much 
did this separation pain me !" 


He had lived there for twenty years. And, 
whatever he himself may have thought, it was there 
that he reached the height of his glory. "My in 
stitute, as born from the womb of chaos at Burgdorf, 
as it existed at Yverdon in a deformity for which 
no words serve, was not my life's ambition." He 
continued to dream of a humble village school, with 
the infants. 1 It is none the less true that the ad 
ministration of the college at Yverdon remains, in 
the eyes of an equitable posterity, one of the chief 
claims which Pestalozzi's pedagogic activity has 
to distinction. 

It was at Yverdon that Switzerland raised, in 
1888, the finest of the monuments which she has 
dedicated to him. We recently made our reverence 
to this statue, which is the ornament of Pestalozzi 
Place, quite near to the old castle where he used up 
his declining years in the service of education. He 
is represented standing, energetic and gentle, with 
a well-tied cravat, such as he never wore : for, as 
is known, nothing was more neglected than his dress. 

1 The best proof that can be given of the interest which Pesta 
lozzi did not cease to take in primary education is the creation of 
the normal school, organized by him, in 1818, at Clindy, a suburb 
of Yverdon. This institution, which was to be paid for from the 
Cotta subscription money, took in twelve poor children, boys and 
girls, who were prepared there for the profession of teaching; it 
is deserving of a special study. 


Near him, two children, a girl and a boy, are listen 
ing to him. He is pointing out to them the way 
to the school, Yverdon castle, which remains the 
seat of the primary schools of the town, with their 
twenty-two classes and their thousand pupils. The 
secondary education is conducted on other premises, 
in a college which is a veritable palace and bears on 
its fagade, written in large letters, the names of 
Pestalozzi and some of his pupils, Roger de Guimps, 
Vuillemin, etc. Rousseau's name might also have 
been written there. 

We like to couple Pestalozzi with Rousseau, for 
we see in them two heroes of modern education. 
Brothers in origin, the citizen of Geneva and the 
citizen of Zurich are also brothers in feeling and in 
their aspirations towards better education. But 
at Yverdon the comparison is singularly striking. 
It was in fact to Yverdon, in that delightful country 
whose beauty he has so highly praised, that Rous 
seau, in 1762, forty years before Pestalozzi arrived 
there, sadly came to live through the first days of 
his exile, after the condemnation of Emile by the 
Parliament of Paris. It was of Yverdon that he 
wrote: "I am going to wander among these moun 
tains, until I find a refuge wild enough for me to 
spend there in peace the remainder of my wretched 
days." It was from Yverdon, where he had thought 


to set foot in "a land of justice and liberty," that he 
was expelled, some weeks later, by the retrograde 
government of Berne, and was compelled to go for 
hospitality to the king of Prussia. And it was to 
Yverdon that the government, transformed by the 
revolution of 1798, summoned Pestalozzi to continue, 
in practical form, Rousseau's theoretical work. 
So that, in the space of half a century, the same town 
sheltered them both ; it witnessed the passage of the 
unhappy outlaw, embittered and irritated by per 
secution, and then it welcomed Rousseau's disciple, 
full of ardour and courage, who also was working for 
the education of humanity. 

Sad and poor, Pestalozzi, in his turn, left Yver 
don and retrod the road to Neuhof. Schmid, his 
inseparable, his alter ego, having at least the merit 
of fidelity, accompanied him in his retirement. 
With pleasure he saw once more his chosen place of 
abode, where he had cherished his first schemes for 
the intellectual emancipation of the poor. Incor 
rigible in his hopes, he still had thoughts of founding 
a boys' school there. But death was drawing nigh. 
. . . "Soon shall I see the celestial light," said he. 
A few tokens of public recognition softened the 
melancholy of his last days. Life dealt harshly with 
him, but posterity is kind, and its kindness seems to 
have begun for him before he closed his eyes forever. 


In 1825, he was enthusiastically welcomed by the 
annual assembly of the Swiss Society, of which for 
twenty-nine years he had been a member: he was 
acclaimed president for the following year. In 
1826, he visited an orphanage, where the children 
presented him with a wreath of oak. To the very 
end, however, vexations were not spared him. On his 
death-bed he had to endure the insults of Fellenberg, 
who dared to reproach this most disinterested of men 
with having appropriated the funds from the sub 
scriptions received for the first complete edition of 
his works, Cotta's edition ; and also the odious abuse 
of Biber's pamphlet, which appeared in 1827: "I 
must live for six weeks longer/ ' exclaimed the dying 
man, "that I may answer these base calumnies!" 
But his strength forsook him. He had overtaxed 
his robust constitution, which he delighted to char 
acterize in these words: "I have the health of a 
bear;' 7 and on the 17th of February, 1827, he ex 
pired peacefully, saying: "I die without regret. 
I forgive my enemies and bless my friends. . . ." 
At Birr, thirty men and thirty women, no more, 
followed the funeral procession of one of Switzer 
land's most illustrious children. 


THE story of Pestalozzi's life, as has just been 
seen, is interwoven with his practical education work. 
It reveals to us in all their splendour the high moral 
qualities with which he was endowed. It shows, 
throughout the vicissitudes of a long, wandering, 
agitated existence, a perpetual striving towards the 
final establishment of a method of instruction and 
education for the people. 

What was this method ? There is, let us confess, 
considerable difficulty in defining it. Some critics 
have got over this difficulty, somewhat lightly, by 
saying that Pestalozzi had none. The fact is that 
he himself did not succeed in expressing it by settled 
formulas. It remained vague and uncertain in 
a brain which, in its state of ferment, was fitter 
for passionate conception than for the arrangement 
of abstract thought. Destutt de Tracy wrote, in 
1807, to Maine de Biran, that he suspected that 
"the method of which there was so much talk was 
not yet properly unravelled in the mind of its author." 
This was perfectly true. Pestalozzi made deep re- 


search but arrived at no conclusion. He conceived 
great things and started off to accomplish them; 
he strove hard and overtaxed himself to carry them 
into execution, but he did not succeed. The truth 
is that his work was left unfinished. ' i His theories/' 
said Steinmuller, in 1803, ' ' followed his experiments ; " 
and as he experimented throughout his life, his 
theories varied. In 1817, in a letter to Niederer, 
he spoke of the " elaboration of his method": this 
was an admission that at this date it was not yet 
settled. In 1820, he rejected as immature the ideas 
which he had set forth, in 1801, in his Lettres a 
Gessner. 1 The confusion is increased by the fact 
that his commentators, profiting from what inde 
cision there is in his thought, have often interpreted 
it according to their own ideas : they have disfigured, 
distorted, and even obscured it. One recalls what 
an Yverdon scholar, the historian Vuillemin, said 
concerning it in his Souvenirs, written, however, 
fifty years later: "What went by the name of Pes- 
talozzi's ' Method' was an enigma to us. It was 
an enigma to our professors themselves. Like the 
disciples of Socrates, each understood the master's 

1 We say Lettres a Gessner for brevity. The correct title of the 
work is Wie Gertrud ihre Kinder lehrt. Gertrude, the heroine of the 
novel Leonard, does not, however, appear in the book. She became 
the symbolic name which represents the perfect mother and ideal 
teacher as conceived by Pestalozzi. 


doctrine in his own way ; and a day came when, after 
each had given himself out as the only one who had 
understood Pestalozzi, they all finished by declaring 
that Pestalozzi had not understood himself." 

It is not impossible, however, to distinguish, 
through the various and at times contradictory 
processes which he tried in turn, the essential char 
acteristics of the method which he wished to insti 
tute, and the dominant ideas which governed his 
teaching and composed the unity of his pedagogic 
life. Disciples have even been found intrepid 
enough to undertake the task of a systematic clas 
sification of Pestalozzi's ideas, a labour hardly 
warranted by his impulsive and changing genius. 
Jullien, 1 in his Expose de la Methode, a crude and 
ponderous work, distinguishes in it as many as twelve 
fundamental principles, and also twelve essential 
characteristics, neither more nor less. The model 
is distorted and the original travestied by the claim, 

1 Jullien (Marc-Antoine), called Jullien of Paris, son of the 
Member of the National Convention, Jullien of Dr6me, went to 
Yverdon, in 1810, and stayed there for some months. He had 
played a part in military and political affairs under the orders of 
Bonaparte, from whom he seceded on the 18th Brumaire. At 
a later date he was again taken into favour and was intrusted with 
missions in Italy: it was during one of these missions that he 
visited Pestalozzi's institute. It was Jullien who founded, under 
the Restoration, le Constitutionel newspaper. He took a rather active 
part in the July revolution. 


with this analytical excess and profusion of divisions, 
to imprison and catalogue in hard and fast formulas 
the varied inspirations of a mind which was always 
in motion and which could never come to a final de 

There is one ruling idea which must at the out 
set be insisted upon: this is the idea of intuition 
(Anschauung), considered as the starting-point of 
all knowledge, and consequently as the basis of all 
instruction. We should approach the truth very 
nearly, if we defined Pestalozzi as "the pedagogue 
of intuition." "What have I done," said he, 
"that is my personal work ? I laid down the higher 
principle ruling the science of education, on the day 
when I recognized in intuition the absolute prin 
ciple of all knowledge." It is true that Comenius 
and Basedow, before him, had perceived the same 
truth and attempted to apply it. 

What, then, is intuition ? It is not only the exter 
nal perception of the senses. Intuition extends to 
the experiences of the inner consciousness, to senti 
ment and emotion as much as to sensation. "In 
tuition is the immediate impression which the physi 
cal and moral worlds produce on our external and 
internal senses." Intuition is direct personal ex 
perience; and if sensible perceptions should form 
the foundation of intellectual education, moral 


perceptions, sentiments of love, confidence., and grati 
tude, early developed in the child's conscience, will 
become the firm and sure support of his moral edu 

Let us clearly understand Pestalozzi's thought. 
Too often the common instruction presents to the 
child, at the very outset of his studies, abstract 
and general notions, which do not correspond to 
anything in his experience. He is told of rivers 
and oceans, without having seen even a pond or 
a brook; of mountains and river basins, without 
having climbed even a hillock. He is taught the 
great words duty and virtue, without first having the 
moral sentiments awakened in his heart. Thus is 
the edifice raised upon the sand. An unploughed 
field is sown ; or, indeed, scraps of knowledge which 
cannot lodge and take root in the mind are laid, as 
it were, on the surface of a fragile memory. They 
are like signboards which, lightly fastened to an 
insecure and badly made wall, are carried away 
by the first breath of wind. 

It was this superficial instruction of the old 
"Gothic and monastic" schools that Pestalozzi 
wished to sweep away. Close those schools in which 
the master alone, or indeed the book, acts, and 
open, instead, the school in which the child, invited 
to make use of his senses and exercise his conscious- 


ness, finds in himself the principle of his activity, 
the support of his intellectual and moral develop 
ment, and the seed from which, by a progressive 
evolution, the human personality issues, educated, 
enlightened, and virtuous, like a living organism, 
in the same way that the tree issues from the acorn. 
Intuition alone can plant this seed in the mind. 
And that is why Pestalozzi, discarding books and 
suppressing the abuse of didactic lessons, aspires to 
placing the child in the presence of the things. "Do 
not cast him into the labyrinth of words, before 
forming his mind by a knowledge of realities." 
"The child requires no intermediary between nature 
and himself." He often repeated, "Nature does 

Let it not be imagined, however, that Pestalozzi 
put his trust in the natural tuitions, as offered to us 
by our senses and our consciousness, in their com 
plexity and crudity. They must come to maturity 
as the result of a slow analysis. A phrase which is 
constantly recurring, like a refrain, in the Lettres a 
Gessner is that it is a question of leading the child 
" from confused intuition to clear perception," that 
he must be raised "from vague intuition to precise 
idea." What does this mean, if not that nature's 
education is insufficient, that primitive intuition 
needs elucidation and analysis, in short that there 


is an "art of intuition"? And this art consists in 
organizing a series of methodically arranged exer 
cises, which are brought to the child's attention 
one after the other. 

How should these exercises be arranged ? Accord 
ing to a principle clearly laid down by Pestalozzi and 
developed by Herbart, the principle of "gradation," 
or, if you will, of "concentration." Let us distrust 
the parcelling out which is too much practised in 
ordinary studies and in lessons in which incoherent 
notions having no mutual connection are juxta 
posed without any order, like ill-fitting pieces of 
a badly adjusted mosaic. Just as knowledge re 
quires a fulcrum, which is supplied by intuition, 
so it needs connection and an order of development, 
and in this the method consists. The various no 
tions which compose elementary education are offered 
to the child "in continuous, unbroken succession." 
To each intuition are joined, as to a parent idea, 
all the facts which belong to the same class of ideas. 
There is never any lack of continuity between the 
studies of one day and the next. Care is taken, 
however and this is a point to which Pestalozzi 
insistently returns to keep back the pupil on each 
exercise, with calculated deliberation, until he has 
thoroughly mastered it. He is only permitted to 
take a step forward, to advance a little farther, when 


he has firmly assured his progress on the ground 
already traversed. Nothing is more at variance 
with a good educational method than too rapid 
a passage from one study to another, without being 
sure that the preceding knowledge is completely 
acquired, and that it makes the knowledge which 
follows both possible and easy. "Everything that 
is not perfect in the germ will be abortive in its 
growth." Moreover, it is a great evil, in education, 
to be satisfied with less than " quite " ; and it is impor 
tant to accustom a child to doing well whatever he 
does, so that he "may aim at perfection." Madame 
de Stael said, "There is no 'almost' in Pestalozzi's 

In the gradation and disposition of the exercises 
which he recommends for making first intuitions 
bear fruit, Pestalozzi claims, moreover, to follow 
nature's order. Now nature wills us to go, not 
from the simple to the compound, which is an 
equivocal and highly debatable statement, but 
from the nearer to the more remote, which is a much 
clearer recommendation. A child's observation 
should radiate from what he touches and sees around 
him, to what is situated in the neighbourhood, and 
gradually to more distant objects. "Knowledge 
begins around man, and thence extends in ever 
widening circles." 


In order to give at once an example of the applica 
tion of this principle, let us draw attention to the 
exercises on intuition and language, which, in the 
Manuel des Meres, 1 Pestalozzi or rather his 
disciple, Krusi, who drew up three-quarters of this 
little volume proposed for the pupils of the in 
stitute at Burgdorf. There is nothing nearer us 
than our own body. A child must then, before all 
else, be trained to know, and to be able to name, all 
the parts of his body. Did not Jean Mace, when 
writing the Histoire d'une bouchee de pain, draw 
inspiration from Pestalozzi's idea ? The pupil must, 
as in a litany, mention in detail the lips, the bones of 
the lower lip, the bones of the upper lip, the mouth, 
the corners of the mouth, the right corner of the 
mouth, etc. Certainly these exercises in language ex 
pose themselves to ridicule: they occupy more than 
fifty pages. The French critic, Dussaulx, said hu 
morously, " Pestalozzi takes great pains to teach his 
pupils that their nose is in the middle of their face !" 

The idea, stripped of the grotesque childishness 
in which it pleased Krusi to envelop it, is, never 
theless, not to be disdained in itself. Maine de 
Biran praised Pestalozzi for this very desire to begin 
the development of the child's intuitive and reason- 

1 The Manuel des Meres, published in 1803, was translated into 
French in 1821. 


ing faculties by a descriptive analysis of the object 
nearest to it, and most interesting for it to know; 
that is, the human body. And especially is it of 
importance to observe how, in the portions of the 
book which he wrote, Pestalozzi ingeniously unites 
with the enumeration of each of our organs the study 
of their functions; and how the analysis of these 
functions itself leads to a series of useful observa 
tions concerning the objects with which our organs 
put us in communication, with men, animals, and 
plants, with everything that can be seen or heard. 
In a phrase which is, as it were, the rapid recapitu 
lation of all his pedagogics, Pestalozzi wrote: "For 
each branch of knowledge there should be series 
of exercises having their starting-point within reach 
of all (intuition), and with a regular sequence (gra 
dation), which would keep the child's faculties con 
stantly at work, without exhausting or even tiring 
them, and would contribute to continuous, easy, 
and attractive progress/ 7 Everything essential in 
the Pestalozzian method is contained in these few 
lines: the principle of intuition, that of rigorous 
connection between successive teachings; and also 
two other principles of which we have yet to speak, 
which, moreover, depend on those already mentioned ; 
namely, that there is no other good method of 
education than that which trains the activity, and 


that which, as a natural consequence, excites the 

The extension of positive knowledge is of less 
importance than the intensive development of the 
faculties, strengthened and enlarged by exercise. 
Intellectual growth, indeed, depends on exercise 
and continued action. " Nature," said Pestalozzi, 
in the Soiree d'un ermite, as early as 1780, " nature 
develops all the forces of humanity by exercise, and 
their growth proceeds from their use." It is neces 
sary for the child to act, for his eyes, his voice, and 
also his hands to be constantly occupied. No more 
sluggish reading then, or long, mechanical recitations. 
No more of those sleepy, half-dead classes, in which 
a routine-bound master dictates or expounds his 
knowledge to poor patients, who content themselves 
with submitting to monotonous lessons, with more 
or less wandering attention, but certainly with 
weariness. The true school is the one in which 
everybody acts, the pupils as well as the master. 
"The teacher speaks; he pronounces sentences and 
the pupils repeat them. The teacher asks questions : 
the pupils reflect and reply. Long expositions are 
tiring; questions excite and enliven. Action, the 
source of happiness in life, is also the condition of 
progress in school. Let us unceasingly enliven and 
awaken the intelligence. Let us make the active 


faculties, attention and judgment, predominate 
over the passive faculties, such as memory, and for 
mechanical education let us substitute active in 
struction which stimulates the attention, stirs the 
will, and sets in motion the inner forces of the 

It will perhaps be objected that this appeal to 
activity does not seem to be in accordance with 
what is known of Pestalozzi's academic practice and 
with the unbounded ardour which he himself dis 
played in his teaching. Did he, full of activity as 
he was, allow an opportunity for the pupils to make 
their initiative apparent? At Stans he is depicted 
for us as continually in motion, going from one end 
of the class room to the other, harassing the pupils 
and giving them not one moment's respite. At 
Burgdorf, "he bawled out the ABC from morn till 
night/ ' in a stentorian voice, until he made himself 
hoarse; and he pretended that the children took 
an extreme pleasure in repeating for hours after 
him b a, ba. To which Ramsauer, one of his pupils, 
replied ironically, "It was enough rather to drive 
away their guardian angels! . . ." None the less 
is it true that the master's activity summons the 
activity of the pupil. Flaubert wrote somewhere : 
"Instruct yourselves, enlightened classes. Before 
sending the people to school, go there yourselves!" 


In the same way, one can say to teachers: "You 
wish to interest the children? Begin by interesting 
yourselves in your teaching. It is impossible to 
communicate an emotion not felt by one's self, or to 
make others share in a taste in which one does not 
participate. It is necessary to give before one can 
hope to receive." 

There is no doubt that, in practice, Pestalozzi 
often contradicted himself. In spite of his good 
intentions, he himself fell back into routine and 
mechanical teaching. As a general rule, however, 
Pestalozzi's exuberant and boisterous activity formed 
no obstacle to the activity of his pupils, whilst, on 
the contrary, its aim and result was to provoke and 
sustain such activity. If he was restless, it was to 
encourage the hard-working in their ardour and to 
awaken the indolent from their torpor. If he acted, 
it was to make others act. He set the example of 
movement and effort, an example which was fol 
lowed. Is not the true means of calling others to life 
to begin by being alive one's self? 

An active instruction, in which the master points 
out the way, but lets the child walk, in which he 
exerts himself principally in providing opportunities 
for observation and personal reflection, does not 
merely result in directly preparing education's work, 
that is to say, the formation of the human faculties. 


It contributes indirectly to the same result, by 
exciting the interest and by profiting from the charm 
which well-directed studies inspire: not indeed 
the charm which dispenses with effort, and which 
tends to transform serious study into puerile amuse 
ment, but, on the contrary, the charm which insures 
effort by assisting it. Pestalozzi, who owed some 
thing to Basedow and the Philanthropiniste school, 
did not fall like them, however, into the puerilities 
of amusing instruction. Should not everything 
contribute to making instruction "attractive," 
Pestalozzi used the word before Mr. Herbert Spencer, 
in a system of education in which everything 
aspired to being brightness and light, in which truth, 
issuing from intuition, rendered useless those long 
verbose explanations, which are about as efficacious, 
for illumining the mind and dissipating error, as 
the ringing of bells is efficacious for driving away 
threatened storms; and in which, lastly, the most 
ingenious methods were contrived, so as to proceed 
by easy stages and impel the intelligence from easy 
things to those more difficult, and at last to procure 
for the pupil the great joy of activity? 

Such was, indeed, Pestalozzi's preoccupation. 
When, in 1816, he received a visit at Yverdon from 
Andre Bell, who was, with Lancaster, the propa 
gator in England of mutual instruction, he oblig- 


ingly expounded his method to him. Bell, in his 
turn, explained his. The two pedagogues came 
into touch, but their minds did not unite* Bell 
left without being touched by the Pestalozzian grace. 
He found, as it were, nothing deserving praise in 
the rules followed at Yverdon, although Pestalozzi 
had explained them to him at length. He had told 
him how, among all the possible motives for activity, 
if he excluded amour propre as far as possible, 
if he reckoned on attachment to duty and on affec 
tion for parents and masters, he placed interest 
in study first and foremost, that interest which in 
struction cannot fail to excite when it is simple, 
familiar, progressive, and exactly adjusted to the 
degree of intellectual development in each child. 
One last point to be noted in the general charac 
teristics of Pestalozzi's method is the great care 
which he took in simplifying the processes of instruc 
tion, in simplifying them to such a degree that their 
manipulation was made easy even for the unlearned. 
The intention was praiseworthy, but the inference 
was excessive and false. " You wish to make teach 
ing mechanical," Pestalozzi was told one day; and 
Pestalozzi joyfully acquiesced in this unlooked- 
for definition of his method. He dreamed, in fact, 
of a harmony of processes simple and precise enough 
for the least-prepared teacher, the least-informed 


mother, an elder sister, or even a devoted servant, 
to be able to apply it with good results. He cher 
ished the chimera of a method which should owe its 
entire efficacy to the perfection of its arrangements 
and not to the ability of those who put it into prac 
tice: like a machine so perfect in the precision of 
its component parts that the least skilled workman 
can work it. Simplification is the great art, said 
he, and, in the exaggeration of his thought, he went 
so far as to say that the normal schools and the scho 
lastic libraries were quite unnecessary for the for 
mation of the people's educators, that in the future 
it would be sufficient to put into the hands of any 
teacher that Livre des Meres, of which he spoke so 
much in his Lettres a Gessner, but which he never 
found time to write. In this he was false to him 
self ; for never was there a teacher who spared him 
self so little and put as much of his heart and soul 
into his practical work of education. But he sus 
pected that it would be very difficult, if not impos 
sible, when education should be generalized and made 
universal, to require from the innumerable teachers, 
scattered throughout the multitude of schools, the 
ardour and enthusiasm which he himself possessed. 
And this is why he considered the success of element 
ary education, in the future of mankind, as insepa 
rable from and conditional upon the invention of 


an instrument, a pedagogic machine, whose perfec 
tion should reduce the workmanship almost to noth 
ing. Let us add, to say all, that this great friend 
of the school allowed himself at times to consider 
it as a kind of makeshift, a temporary expedient 
to which we are condemned for a time by the igno 
rance of our parents and their disheartening lack 
of aptitude for educating their own children. It was 
not only with a view to the careful treatment of 
the frail intelligence of children that he projected 
his plan for simplifying methods. It was principally 
to make his supreme dream, the education of a child 
by its mother, capable of realization. He would 
willingly have consented to the disappearance of 
the elementary school and the institution in its 
stead of the "family room," in which an attentive, 
tender mother, workwoman, or peasant, as well as 
woman of the middle classes, armed Vith her Manuel, 
would herself instruct her sons and daughters. 

From these essential principles are derived the 
processes devised by Pestalozzi: inventions which, 
for the greater part, are ingenious rather than sound, 
and evidence more good will than skill and ability. 

Let us remark first we have already given it 
to be understood that Pestalozzi, in practice, 
was often untrue to his theoretical maxims. The 
apostle of intuition and nature's education did not 


allow the natural laws sufficient freedom of action, 
and he subjected intuition to rules which were arti 
ficial in the extreme. He claimed to educate the 
child in the liberty of its aspirations and the spon 
taneity of its inclinations, but round about it he 
wove a close, imprisoning network of minute method 
ical exercises, in which its spontaneity ran great 
risk of disappearing, and its initiative is constrained 
and crushed. A story is told concerning a man 
who kept bees, and, being of a very inventive turn 
of mind, reflected one day that the bees really 
took too much trouble in flying here and there, going 
from garden to garden and from flower to flower, 
in order to gather their honey. He then conceived 
the idea of himself gathering them a heap of flowers 
of every species and carefully making them into 
bunches which he placed ready-made in front of 
the hives. . . . The story does not tell whether 
the bees gave up their free cross-country flight and 
chance harvest; nor whether those, if any there 
were, who satisfied themselves with the flowers 
whose spoil had been made ready for them, had 
better honey in their combs. ... Is not this 
almost the image of the attempt in which Pestalozzi 
went astray when he thought it necessary to sub 
mit the child to the necessity of imprisoning its 
thought in rigid lists of objects, systematically 


arranged, instead of allowing relative liberty to 
the course of its observations? It has been said, 
and not altogether wrongly, that the application of 
the Pestalozzian methods would be disastrous and 
fatal to the imagination. The flight of a child's 
intelligence must be guided but not restrained. It 
is no more appropriate to put a new-born babe under 
the yoke of a geometrical discipline, in order to 
accustom it to observe and reflect, than it would 
be to employ a sergeant-at-arms to teach it to walk. 
At the risk of a few stumbles let us let the child try 
to walk by itself. At the risk of coming to wrong 
conclusions in its researches and making more than 
one mistake, let us be willing for it to look to right 
and left, examining freely according to its fancy. 
On this condition alone will it learn to think for 
itself; whilst on the other hand an excessive sys 
tem of rules would oppress and destroy that natural 
spontaneity which must be respected, if we wish to 
train flexible intelligences, rich in imagery and idea, 
and to form free minds. 

Nothing can better throw light upon what was 
artificial and false in Pestalozzi's methods, than the 
satirical, perhaps somewhat exaggerated, picture 
which Ramsauer drew of the exercises to which 
he was himself subjected during his stay in the 
institution at Burgdorf. "What we did best," 


said he, "were the language exercises, especially 
those having as their subject the old tapestry, all 
in holes, which Pestalozzi forced us to consider in 
all its details for hours at a time. Children, what 
do you see ? I see a hole in the tapestry. Good ; 
repeat after me: I see a hole in the tapestry. . . . 
I see a long hole in the tapestry. . . . Behind the 
tapestry, I see the wall, etc. . . ." These somewhat 
grotesque exercises were, in truth, only a caricature 
of intuitive teaching. Instead of the torn and worn- 
out tapestry, which Pestalozzi made his pupils 
study because of the poverty of his scholastic ap 
pliances, and of which the particularized analysis 
was scarcely able to excite the interest which he 
considered nevertheless to be the principle of prog 
ress in study, why did he not show them natural 
objects, genuine material for lessons on well-under 
stood things of which the examination would not have 
been merely an occasion for wearisome exercises in 
language, but which might have given rise to a series 
of interesting observations and have prepared for 
the acquisition of as many useful and practical 
pieces of information? And in the tapestry itself, 
however wretched that object of study may have 
been, should he not have called his pupils 7 atten 
tion to something more than accidents of form and 
shape, or the length, breadth, and number of holes, 


have taught them, for example, of what textile 
substances it was made, what workmen had pro 
duced it, and for what purposes it was intended ? . . . 
By a singular contradiction with his own prin 
ciples, then, Pestalozzi forgot reality and nature, to 
linger over questions of vocabulary. In so doing, 
he claimed, however, that he was applying one of 
his favourite theories, to which he wrongly attached 
prime importance. I refer to the famous classi 
fication which consisted in bringing all elementary 
knowledge under three heads, a kind of trilogy: 
number, shape, and word, or, in other terms, arith 
metic, geometry, and language. In the simplicity 
of his somewhat narrow philosophy, Pestalozzi 
flattered himself that in this he had made a great 
discovery. He brought forward his theory as a 
sort of marvellous revelation, brought to him, as 
he said, by a Deus ex machina, to extricate him from 
difficulty, in the midst of his laborious researches, 
like a flash of light which all at once illuminated 
"his vague, irresolute reveries." What captivated 
him was that he thought he had by this theory 
separated the essential part of things from what is 
accessory and the qualities common to all objects 
from those which are merely accidental. Every 
thing that has a material existence, indeed, has 
a shape; all objects can be counted and added up; 


lastly, they can all be expressed in words. But 
to begin with, why make a separate category for 
the "word," since the "word" is the expression 
of all thought, whatever its nature, and since unities 
can be counted and shapes defined only by means 
of words? Further, do not natural objects possess 
other qualities common to them all ? Should Pesta- 
lozzi, who often mentions the Appenzell women, 
on account of their habit of hanging paper birds of 
many colours on the cradles of new-born children, 
have forgotten that colour also is a universal quality 
of things ? And why should not the composition of 
bodies, their uses, causes, and effects, be given a 
place in elementary study? A child is not truly 
educated if it can only calculate, measure, and talk. 
If its knowledge goes no farther it will be deficient 
in all the useful knowledge which the natural and 
physical sciences contain. A calculator and geome 
trician, it has grasped only the two abstractions of 
shape and number from amongst the complex reali 
ties of the world and animated nature. 

It would be profitless to dwell on a narrow, paltry 
conception, which proves to what a degree those 
minds which have most thoroughly freed themselves 
from the old routines are themselves liable to create 
new ones. We will only retain one of its articles: 
the importance which Pestalozzi rightly accorded 


to the study of words. Language, when it responds 
to clear intuitions, when it is the correct expression 
of precise, plain thought, is, indeed, as he considered 
it, the essential instrument for the liberation of the 
mind. And Pestalozzi cannot be too highly praised 
for having applied himself to the discovery of prac 
tical means of establishing a strict adaptation of 
word to idea, in the consciousness and on the lips 
of the child. "If the peoples of Europe," said he, 
"have fallen so low, it is because, in the popular 
schools, such importance has been given to words 
devoid of meaning that not only attention to nat 
ural impressions, but even the faculty of receiving 
such impressions, has been destroyed in the human 
mind. Children have not been taught to speak. ..." 
Language should be learned by use, and, as has 
been said, Pestalozzi did away with grammar as 
though by magic. It is true that here again he did not 
proscribe artificial mechanism with sufficient severity. 
Thus, impatient and in haste to develop his pupils' vo 
cabulary rapidly, he made them learn by heart long 
lists of words, which related to nothing within their 
experience. Thus, also, he wrongly extended the 
language exercises beyond the circle of intuitions al 
ready acquired. In the same way, under the pretext 
that ability to describe must precede ability to define, 
he made them recite ready-made descriptions, for 


example, descriptions of walking or of being seated. 
The adversary of book education and school chatter 
came to grief himself over a fresh form of verbiage. 
"My system/ 7 said he, "is a refinement of nature." 
He refined, indeed, and to excess. See, for example, 
how he understood the study of drawing. Nature, 
according to him, does not give lines to the child: 
it presents objects in the varied complexity of their 
forms. From which, it would seem, he should logi 
cally have concluded that, in its first attempts at 
drawing, the child should be trained to represent 
things as it sees them. This is by no means his 
conclusion : he asked, on the contrary, that the child 
be made to trace lines, arcs, and angles. In this, he 
went against the primitive instinct of both human 
ity and infancy. Are we not taught by travellers 
that, amongst African tribes, for example, the notion 
of the right angle is unknown, and that in Abyssinia 
as well as in the Congo, the houses and huts are 
usually round? Abstraction predominates in that 
peculiar A B C de Virtiuition, in which Pestalozzi 
claimed to reduce the diversity of natural shapes to 
geometrical forms. 1 One feels inclined to smile at 

1 Let us take note, however, that M. Eugene Guillaume, an 
other expert in these matters, agrees with Pestalozzi, and wishes 
the apprentice draughtsman to begin with the study of geometrical 
lines. This practice is the one which has prevailed. The Pesta- 
lozzian idea, as the inspiring principle, has entered all schools. 


the declaration made in all seriousness, "If I have 
had a merit in my life, it is that I placed the square 
at the base of intuitive education." Luckily, 
Pestalozzi had other merits! Ravaisson, 1 an ex 
pert in these matters, wrote: "They were greatly 
in error who wished to restore the art of drawing 
to a kind of science founded on geometry. This 
was an invention of Pestalozzi's, who thought that 
he had thus found a means of putting drawing 
within the reach of the middle classes." And Ra 
vaisson concluded that "to simplify the contours 
of things, so complicated in animated nature, by 
bringing them back to straight lines and circles, was 
to distort and debase the forms after the manner 
of the materialists. . . ." Certainly there was no 
trace of materialism in Pestalozzi's conception: 
he simply gave way to the tendency of introducing 
a precision quite geometrical into elementary studies. 
The tendency became more pronounced at Yverdon, 
where, under Schmid's influence, mathematics be 
came the principal preoccupation. The Pere Girard 
remarked on this in his Rapport officiel for 1808, 
"I pointed out to my old friend Pestalozzi that 
he allowed mathematics an inordinate measure of 
dominion, and that I feared the results for educa- 

1 See the article on Histoire de I'enseignement du dessin, in M. P. 
Buisson's Dictionnaire de pedagogic. 


tion. . . ." Pestalozzi did not deny this, and re 
plied with his customary vivacity, "That is because 
I wish my children to believe nothing that cannot 
be demonstrated to them as clearly as that two 
and two make four." 

It is not without surprise that we find an apostle 
of nature, by an involuntary deviation from his 
principles, using artificial methods of constraint 
and regulation pushed to extremes. He said that 
it is not to the forest or the meadow that a child 
must be taken to teach it how to know trees and 
plants. And he gave as his reason that, in the 
forest and the meadow, trees and plants are mingled 
and the vegetable species are mixed. Let us con 
clude that he went somewhat at haphazard, vacillat 
ing from one method to another, capable rather of 
sudden inspiration than of sustained reflection. 
" Every day I feel how unknown to me are the re 
sults of my method." He would have been no less 
at a loss to arrange its so often irreconcilable rules. 

In many matters he made happy innovations; 
he applied the principle of intuition. At Yverdon 
he taught geography by direct observation in the 
neighbouring valleys or on the Jura mountains. The 
pupils brought back from their excursions supplies 
of clay which they afterwards used to reproduce in 
relief the valley which they had studied on the 


spot. It was only after several days' work, when 
the relief was finished, that they passed on to the 
study of maps. It is to Pestalozzi that Carl Ritter, 
the celebrated German geographer, ascribes the 
merit of the inspiration which had directed him 
in his work. "Pestalozzi," said he, "did not know 
as much geography as a child in our primary schools ; 
it was, however, whilst talking to him, during my 
repeated visits to Yverdon, that I felt the impulse 
towards natural methods awaken in me." 

How many processes, now familiar in the schools 
of every country in the world, were initiated by 
Pestalozzi ! How many teachers are Pestalozzians 
without knowing it ! He was perhaps the first to 
subordinate reading to oral exercises, which was a 
most important reform. For teaching how to speak 
he did not always rely on the old Burgdorf tapestry : 
he asked that the child be shown objects which please 
it and captivate its attention, and that it be made 
to touch and understand them. He put off reading 
as long as he could. The child should be able to 
talk before learning to read. For reading he used 
movable letters, each pasted on a card, so that, by 
bringing them together, all the syllabic combinations 
could be displayed. To strike the senses, he had 
multitudinous little inventions: thus, the vowels 
were coloured red. A proceeding to which he was 


much attached was rhymed spelling: the pupils 
repeated in chorus the letter or syllable which they 
were deciphering. He placed writing after drawing : 
" Writing is a kind of special linear drawing which 
is merely play for a child once its eyes and hand 
have been suitably trained." For both writing and 
drawing he recommended slate and pencil, which 
should be preferred to pen and paper. He taught 
arithmetic experimentally and by concrete methods. 
Before conceiving numbers in abstracto, the pupil 
should have grasped their material value by adding up 
actual objects, cherries, nuts, etc. Before calculating 
with the symbols 10, 12, he must have counted the 
ten fingers of the hands and the twelve months of 
the year. The first calculations should be made in 
the head, mentally, without the help of paper. 
Pestalozzi was truly one of the promoters of mental 
calculation. His pupils at Burgdorf and Yverdon 
acquired, in a short time, surprising deftness in these 
exercises. In the same way, with geometry, mate 
rial objects were first dealt with: "We invented 
geometry," said an Yverdon pupil. 

Elementary instruction, in Pestalozzi's scheme, 
aimed at reaching every faculty, "the hands as much 
as the head and heart," according to his own expres 
sion. The educator's first duty is undoubtedly to 
form men: "Apply yourself to developing children, 


not training them as dogs are trained." To this 
general culture, however, some elements of pro 
fessional education must be joined at an early stage. 
Pestalozzi complained bitterly that the people had 
no technical teaching at their disposal "except such 
as concerns the art of killing men." He wished, 
in consequence, to introduce into the school, if not 
an apprenticeship to this or that given trade, at 
least a sort of general preparation for every trade. 
He dreamed of compiling a technical A B C, in which 
he would set forth graduated exercises on the element 
ary actions, carrying, throwing, drawing, push 
ing, brandishing, twisting. The child would thus 
learn from it to develop its physical aptitudes, and 
would acquire that suppleness of movement and 
skill in the use of the organs which the practice of 
every trade exacts. 

Exercise, experience, practice, these, then, are 
the conditions of education in all its forms, the con 
ditions of moral culture as well as intellectual evolu 
tion. If it be true that a teacher can especially 
communicate to his pupils the qualities which he 
himself possesses, how can one doubt that Pesta 
lozzi particularly excelled in moral education? 
Here, again, intuition is the principle. No pre 
cepts, no lessons according to rule. I do not find 
that Pestalozzi ever thought of drawing up a code 


of theoretical or practical morality. Had he done 
so, he would have nearly approached Kant's doc 
trines, as, for example, this fine maxim would prove : 
"When I improve myself, I make of what I should 
the rule for what I would." No ; but in relying upon 
the child's good feelings, cleverly aroused, he claimed 
to establish a natural and organic development of 
practical morality : the free training of personality. 
As his pupil speaks before being able to read, as 
he sings, intuitively, because he has heard others 
singing, before knowing a single note of music, so 
he is to be virtuous, without virtue having been men 
tioned to him. In his optimism, Pestalozzi thought 
it sufficient to awaken the latent forces of the con 
science, in order to lead humanity to practise well 
doing. "At Stans," said he, "I taught neither 
morality nor religion." But by developing in his 
eighty little orphans a brotherly love and, as it were, 
a family pride, he thought to direct them surely tow 
ard sentiments of justice and honour. "I strove," 
said he, "to arouse the sentiment of each virtue 
before pronouncing its name." In other terms it 
was on the heart and on the sensibility that he 
wished to build up morality. It was by the heart 
that he influenced his pupils, not by the dry author 
ity of abstract teaching. No master has succeeded 
in making himself loved as he was. "We loved 


him," declared one of his pupils; "we all loved him, 
because we knew that he loved us all." Was it 
not he, moreover, who said, " Education should be 
benevolence and continued kindness"? 

He sought every possible opportunity of urging the 
children to display their generous instincts, and also 
of accustoming them to overcome their bad dis 
positions. Often has this touching passage been 
quoted from that one of his letters to Gessner which 
he wrote in 1799, during the few weeks which he 
spent at Gurnigel: "When news of the burning of 
Altorf reached us at Stans, I gathered together my 
little orphans and said to them: ' Altorf is burned 
down; perhaps at this moment a hundred poor 
children are without shelter, bread, and clothes. 
Would you like us to ask our good government to 
send us twenty or thirty of them, that we may 
receive them in this house ? ' And with a unanimous 
voice, ' Yes ! yes ! ' they answered. ' But, chil 
dren/ I added, ' our house is poor : reflect. If these 
poor children are given you for comrades you will 
have less to eat, you will have more work to do; 
perhaps you will be obliged to share your clothes 
with them/ After having spoken thus to them, 
with all the force of which I was capable, I made 
them repeat my words, in order to assure myself 
that they had properly understood me. Then I 


again put the question, and they all replied: 'Yes! 
yes ! even should we have less food and more work, 
we should be pleased for them to come with us.' " 
It was not from the school that Pestalozzi expected 
the most efficacious influence in this stirring up of 
the generous emotions: he relied principally upon 
the family, and in the family, on the action of the 
mother. Sentiments of love and gratitude have 
their chief origin in the relations which exist between 
the mother and the little child. It is the mother 
who sows love in the heart of the babe at her breast. 
Pestalozzi placed the mother above all, the loving 
mother, careful for her duties. "The essential 
thing, young mother, is for your child to prefer you 
to all else, and for you, on your side, to prefer noth 
ing to it." Nothing is so touching as the repeated 
appeals which he addressed to maternal love in his 
thirteenth Lettre a Gessner. Rousseau's invocations 
seem cold beside them. It was in vain that he was 
told: " Mothers, such as you wish for, you will not 
find ! To escape their duties they will pretext the 
necessities of their work and the obligations of the 
workshop." He replied with enthusiasm: "I wish 
to succeed in convincing even the pagan mothers 
of the most remote regions of the universe. And 
I trust in the mothers of my country, I trust in the 
hearts which God has placed in their breasts!" 


If the mother is to reveal the moral emotions, she 
is also to initiate the child in religious sentiments. 
Pestalozzi's religion was a sincere religion, full of 
sentimental effusions, which were almost mystic 
and devout. At Neuhof he blamed himself when 
he missed saying his prayers, as though he had com 
mitted a crime. It was with his heart that he 
believed in God. "The God of my brain is a chi 
mera; I know no other God than the God of my 
heart; and it is only by my faith in the God of my 
heart that I feel myself a man. Mother, mother, 
by your commandments you showed God to me, 
and by my obedience I found Him. . . . Mother, 
mother, if I love you, I love God, and my duty 
is my supreme delight. . . ." The mother, then, is 
the intermediary between the child and God. It is 
filial love which leads to divine love. Pestalozzi 
rejected from his faith the dogmas of Christianity, 
but he retained its spirit. True religion, said he, 
is nothing else than morality. Very indulgent 
towards simple piety, "I am not of those who 
turn to ridicule the rosary and prayer-book of poor 
people/ 7 - he was himself satisfied with adoring 
and invoking the infinite Bounty, the Love which 
permeates all things. And it was even in this form 
that he wished God to be presented to the child: 
" After teaching it on her bosom to lisp the name 


of the Divinity, the mother will show it the universal 
Love, in the rising sun, the bubbling stream, the 
pearly dewdrops on the plants, and the bright colours 
of the flowers." * 

As a whole, and in all its applications, Pestalozzi's 
method and this in no way lessens its merit - 
remains a method of elementary education. The 
gift which he received was for the education of the 
little ones. The purpose of his life was solely and 
exclusively the education of little children. He 
had no other aptitude than that, and he knew very 
well that infant instruction was all he had worked 
for, and that he could succeed in nothing else. 
"When setting my foot on the first step of Burg- 
dorf castle, I felt myself lost : for I was entering upon 
a career which could bring nothing but unhappiness 

1 It has perhaps been noticed that Pestalozzi's writings no 
where mention a special education for women. In truth, con 
cerned, as he was principally, with elementary education, he did 
not distinguish girls from boys in the primary schools at Neuhof, 
Stans, and Burgdorf . He was in favour of the principle of coedu 
cation in the case of infants. When he became director of the 
institute at Yverdon, he took care to organize, in 1806, a special 
institute for girls as an annex to the establishment. In 1807 he 
put this special institute under the direction of his son's widow, 
who had become Madame Custer. In 1808, the establishment 
was reorganized and placed under the direction of Mademoiselle 
Rosette Kasthofer, who married Niederer in 1814. It is none 
the less true that Pestalozzi had no special views on female edu 


for me, having in no measure the powers and talents 
which the direction of a college exacts." This has 
been quite understood by the majority of his 
critics also. Destutt de Tracy wrote: "Pestalozzi's 
method will only yield its full promise when 
applied to the teaching of those whose instruc 
tion should be very restricted." And this was 
Madame de Stae'Fs opinion also: "Pestalozzi's 
work must be considered as at present limited 
to infancy." 

I am well aware, and we have already mentioned 
it, that at times Pestalozzi pushed his designs far 
ther. He was inspired with this ambition prin 
cipally by his collaborators. Indeed, he wrote to 
Maine de Biran: " People are wrong if they think 
that my method should only expound the first 
elements of knowledge and education. Youth also 
must be governed in accordance with the same prin 
ciples and spirit." In other words, he believed it 
possible to extend his method of elementary educa 
tion to secondary studies. Assuredly, in all degrees 
of teaching, it is good for the master to be an ani- 
mater of minds, for him to interrogate, to set in ac 
tion, to stir up initiative and personal research, and 
professors of every class have something to learn 
at Pestalozzi's school. Nevertheless, it is evident 
that a method which is above all intuitive, inductive, 


and experimental, as was Pestalozzi's, exactly suits 
only the beginnings of instruction. Later, with 
minds already formed, the didactic, deductive, 
and expository method reclaims its rights; and in 
this field Pestalozzi was quite unable to succeed. 
Let him then be content with the glory which is 
his, and which is already fine enough, the glory 
of having been one of the founders of the popu 
lar school. This is his true domain, his kingdom, 
at once the honour and the limit of his power as 
an educator. For half a century he toiled, with 
incomparable ardour, at the simplification of ele 
mentary education. In 1816, he wrote to Nicolo- 
vius: " If I do not succeed in preparing at least the 
application of elementary instruction in the schools 
for the poor, and in insuring its execution after 
me, the essential thing in which I can still serve 
humanity will be lost: I shall have laboured in 

vain/ 7 

No, he did not labour in vain, for if he did not quite 
succeed in completing his work, yet will people not 
cease to seek inspirations from his writings and 
examples from his actions, to direct the child's first 
steps : at the age when, as Madame de Stael said, it 
seems "that the Creator still holds the creature by 
the hand in order to help it walk gently on the 
clouds of life;" an age at which it is, nevertheless, 


necessary for man's hand to intervene, a firm and 
gentle hand, which guides without constraining, 
which facilitates effort and clears the path of knowl 
edge from all difficulties against which the child's 
footsteps, still staggering and ill-assured, might 


PESTALOZZI'S influence has been considerable. 
When, on the 12th of January, 1846, 1 twenty years 
after his death, the anniversary of his birth was 
celebrated in fifty-nine Swiss and German towns, 
it could be seen, from the numbers and the zeal of 
those who took part in the celebration, what a deep 
and lasting power he had exercised over people's 
minds, and to what a degree his ideas had spread 
and had borne fruit throughout central Europe. 
He was not mistaken when, in the preface to the 
Manuel des Meres, he said, "The form of my 
method will perish, but the life-giving spirit, the 
spirit of my method, will survive." Diesterweg, 2 
the celebrated director of the Berlin Normal School, 
who was the principal organizer of this commemora 
tive ceremony, paid him glorious homage, in a speech 
in which he drew a comparison between the schools 

1 The anniversary was more particularly solemnized at Berlin 
and Copenhagen. 

2 Diesterweg fell into disfavor a short time after, and was forced 
to retire in 1847. The zeal displayed by him in the service of 
Pestalozzi's liberal pedagogy was not foreign to his revocation. 



of former days and those of the mid-nineteenth 
century, and gave Pestalozzi credit for the changes 
which had been accomplished. "His work/' said 
he, "has become the foundation of German public 
schools ;" and he went through the long list of Ger 
man educators who more or less have their origin 
in him. Further, effectively to honour the great 
teacher's memory, he projected the organization 
of an orphanage, to bear the name of Institut pes- 

While yet alive, however, Pestalozzi had wit 
nessed a triumphant propagation of his doctrine. 
It has been said that he understood better "how 
to raise ideas than men." How then account 
for this multitude of disciples, whose calling he 
determined, whom he inflamed with his enthusiasm, 
who went into every land sowing the Pestalozzian 
idea? Sometimes it only required an interview 
or a few hours' conversation to win over an indiffer 
ent visitor, or to make a new apostle of a passer-by : 
as, for example, the young German baron, de Renne- 
camp, who was for a few days a guest at the Yverdon 
institution in 1808. He was received soon after 
at Coppet, in Madame de StaeTs drawing-rooms, and 
warmly praised Pestalozzi and his method. Whilst 
he was speaking, one of his listeners, Madame 
Recamier, said nothing, and busied herself arranging 


a curl of her beautiful hair. But Benjamin Constant, 
who was also present at the gathering, whilst doubt 
less looking at Madame Recamier, listened and asked 
for fuller details concerning the reformer. Madame 
de Stael also was attentive, and displayed a marked 
curiosity, which she was to satisfy some months 
later by visiting Yverdon. She applauded the 
young interpreter of the method, whilst he explained 
that the master of Yverdon, instead of making edu 
cation's end the acquirement of knowledge, regarded 
that only as a means, the true object being the 
development of intelligence. And she prepared 
her interview with Pestalozzi by the most flattering 
compliments. She wrote to him, amongst other 
things, "I am convinced that your methods are 
able to compass the happiness of the majority of 
your fellow-men, and particularly of the most un 
happy and abandoned of mankind. . . ." 

It was naturally in Germany that Pestalozzi's 
influence was especially noticeable. Saxony and 
Wtirttemberg owe to him in part their scholastic 
progress. We have already stated the ties that 
bound him to both Herbart and Fichte. The phi 
losopher of. "ego" could not but be charmed with 
a pedagogue who, above all, aspired to form the 
human personality. In his public speeches, at the 
moment when, after the defeat of Jena, Prussia 


was undertaking the reform of its schools, he hailed 
Pestalozzi as "the man of genius who had eman 
cipated the art of education from routine and em 
piricism, in order to base it on the philosophic laws/ 7 
And in a private letter addressed to his wife, he 
recommended her in these terms to read the Lettres 
a Gessner: "I find in this system of education the 
true remedy for the sufferings of sick humanity," 
and also a thing not likely to be displeasing to 
a somewhat obscure thinker "the only means 
of fitting it for an understanding of my own phi 
losophy." Froebel also should be counted among 
Pestalozzi's admirers. He went to Yverdon for 
the first time in 1805. He went back in 1808 and 
lived there for two years with three pupils, whom 
he accompanied to all the lessons at the institute. 
"It was a decisive time in my life/ 7 he wrote. The 
future creator of the "children's garden/ 7 and of the 
maternal school, could not but feel drawn by a 
secret sympathy towards the founder of the ele 
mentary school which is its continuation. 

The impulse given by Pestalozzi did not have 
pedagogic theories and plans for school organization 
as its only result. It also produced actual estab 
lishments, a multitude of schools, made in the like 
ness of those in which he taught, and especially 
of that which was his dream. A volume would be 


required for the enumeration of all the founda 
tions which owed their existence to him : in Berlin, 
Plamann, who had been his auditor for some time, 
opened a school in 1805 which remained in exist 
ence until 1830; at Frankfort, which became a 
centre of Pestalozzianism, there was Gruner's school, 
in which Froebel taught ; at Mayence, F.-J. Miiller 
founded a school about 1804. It is not sufficiently 
well known in France to what a degree Pestalozzi 
moved and dominated the German imagination. 1 
In 1808, one of the ministers of Wlirttemberg wrote, 
"Our king has become a Pestalozzian from head to 
foot." When, in 1809, Nicolovius, one of Pesta- 
lozzi's old friends, was appointed director of public 
instruction for the kingdom of Prussia, he asked 
for his cooperation. "Come and help us/ 7 he wrote 
to him; "what I dreamed with you at Neuhof is 
about to become a reality. The seed which you 
scatter here will germinate; it will become a tree, 
whose shade will shelter a whole people. . . ." 
The moment at which Pestalozzi heard that the 
Prussian government was preparing to reorganize 
the schools after his principles was one of great ex 
pectation for him. He replied with childish joy: 
"I shall not die then before the harvest which I 
have sown approaches maturity. I have always 

1 In 1870, Gutzkow, the novelist, published Fils de Pestalozzi. 


lived awaiting the coming of a king to whom should 
be given the power necessary to benefit mankind. 
You have found this king; he is there! . . ." 

If the Germanic nations, as was natural, were 
more especially affected by the Pestalozzian influ 
ence, there is scarcely a district of Europe, in the 
North as well as in the South, which has remained 
foreign to the movement. Curiously enough, Spain, 
which may still be fairly called one of the least 
advanced of European nations as regards education, 
was one of the first to attempt the introduction of 
Pestalozzianism within her borders. Various trials 
were made: firstly, in the school of a Tarragona 
regiment, commanded by Voitel, a Swiss captain 
in the Spanish service; again, in a normal school 
organized at Santander, for training teachers in 
the new method; and, lastly, in Madrid itself, in 
a special school bearing the name of Real Institute 
Pestalozziano militar : in justification of the last 
word let us recall that, at Burgdorf and Yverdon, 
Pestalozzi had his pupils put through some military 
exercises. The Madrid school was at first placed 
under Captain VoiteFs direction, then under that of 
Amoros, who became known later in France as the 
propagator of gymnastic instruction. Pestalozzian 
ism had its hour of ascendency. The infante, Don 
Francis of Paola, was brought up after its methods, 


and the school for the poor became a school for 
princes. This was the realization of Pestalozzi's 
wish, that instruction should be the same for all. 
But political events abruptly suspended the experi 
ment; the Madrid Institute was closed in 1808, 
and there was no more talk of Pestalozzi in Spain. 
I can scarcely think of anybody but Comenius, 
as whose successor Pestalozzi may be considered, 
who spread so far across Europe the propagation of 
his ideas. The Moravian pedagogue of the seven 
teenth century has more than one point of resem 
blance with the Swiss pedagogue of the eighteenth. 
He indeed preceded him with his pedagogic presenti 
ments. Like him, and to a greater degree, he led 
a wandering, agitated life. This first evangelist of 
modern education went to England and Sweden to 
preach his faith in those countries. Pestalozzi cer 
tainly did not make these long journeys; but his 
doctrine at least circulated there, thanks to emis 
saries who came to study it on the spot and to gather 
it from his lips. Thus, in 1803, the Danish govern 
ment sent to Burgdorf several teachers who, on 
their return, opened a Pestalozzian school in Copen 
hagen. Bonaparte's royal creatures showed less dis 
dain than he for the A B C : Murat, king of Naples, 
in 1872, and Louis Bonaparte, king of Holland, in 
1807, tried to introduce Pestalozzi's methods into 


the schools of these two countries. Success, how 
ever, did not always attend these imitative attempts. 
Unskilled disciples grasped only the external form, 
the mere mechanism, of the method, without being 
able to borrow from the master the spirit which 
animated the system and made it productive. 

In England, the effort was often renewed and was 
prolonged. Pestalozzi had received a number of 
English visitors at Yverdon, among others Robert 
Owen, the famous philanthropist, and Henry 
Brougham, the champion of popular education, who 
said with some emphasis : "The time is coming when 
the teacher and not the cannon will be the arbiter 
of the world." But it was especially with James 
Greaves, a young thinker, rather obscure, moreover, 
that Pestalozzi contracted a friendship. Greaves 
stayed at Yverdon from 1817 till 1822; and, during 
these four or five years, he became intimate with 
Pestalozzi. He served him as an interpreter and 
cicerone for English visitors, and was intrusted with 
the teaching of English to the pupils of the normal 
school at Clindy. Pestalozzi valued him highly 
enough to say that "he of all men most completely 
understood the end which he had in view." Greaves 7 
zeal was so ardent that he was not satisfied with 
passionately espousing Pestalozzi's ideas and projects : 
he cared for his person. It has been narrated that 


he suffered extremely from the neglected dress of 
his master, who scarcely thought of making his toilet 
except on great occasions and when visiting sover 
eigns. He was grieved at the unfavourable impres 
sion produced on strangers by his worn and ragged 
clothes, "his old gray overcoat." What, then, did 
he do? He discreetly ordered from a tailor new 
suits, which were placed in the wardrobe, during 
the night, in the place of the old ones. . . . Pesta- 
lozzi made no comments, and, perhaps, in his absent- 
mindedness, scarcely noticed the substitution. . . . 
He returned Greaves' affection, and it was for him 
that, in 1818 and 1819, he wrote the Lettres sur 
I' education elementaire, which Greaves translated 
into English, and published in London in 1827. 1 
This is perhaps the best exposition of his doctrine 
that Pestalozzi produced. In it he renewed his 
eloquent appeals to mothers, "to the mothers of 
Great Britain." In it he insisted on the truism 
that a pupil should not be a passive instrument, 
that his education is not firmly based unless he 
himself be the "agent." On his return to England, 
Greaves founded a school at Ham, near Richmond, 
in which he attempted to apply the Yverdon 
methods. He had been preceded in Ireland by 

1 We have a second edition of this work, published in 1850, 
under our eyes. 


Synge, another great admirer of Pestalozzi, who, 
after staying some months in Switzerland, published 
in Dublin, between 1815 and 1817, several anony 
mous works, in which he considered Pestalozzi's 
life and analyzed his writings. 1 He was followed 
by the Reverend Dr. Mayo, who, in 1819, had taken 
fifteen of his compatriots to Yverdon, and on his 
return to England applied himself to bringing the 
Pestalozzian methods within reach of all. Assisted 
by Reiner, an Yverdon pupil, and also by his sister, 
Miss Mayo, he organized a college and compiled a 
certain number of books, Object Lessons, Lessons on 
Number, Lessons on Form, liberally imbued with 
Pestalozzianism. From this movement came, in 
1836, the scholastic society which, under the name 
of the Home and Colonial School Society, rendered 
real service to English popular education. A sig 
nificant proof of its importance is that Reiner, one 
of its members, was chosen by Queen Victoria as 
tutor to her children. And that Pestalozzi has 
preserved some credit in England up to the present 
time is shown by his being the only foreign educator 
whom Mr. Herbert Spencer mentioned by name in 

1 Sullivan, an inspector of Irish schools, wrote that the germ 
of all the ameliorations which he introduced into the primary 
instruction of his country is to be found in Pestalozzi's works 
(Papers on Popular Education, Dublin, 1863). 


his book on Education; it is also shown by Pro 
fessor Joseph Payne's devoting to him, in 1875, his 
fine lecture entitled, Pestalozzi, the Influence of his 
Principles and Practice on Elementary Education, one 
of the most instructive studies written on the subject. 
It would be impossible for us to follow Pes- 
talozzi's influence everywhere it has penetrated. His 
name, followed by his thought, has actually made 
the circuit of the globe. One of his assistants, 
Muralt, 1 under the patronage of Czar Alexander I, 
established an educational seminary for the higher 
classes of Russian society at St. Petersburg, about 
1815. The work of Uno Cygnceus, the Finnish 
school reformer, is in part the product of his inspira 
tion. In the New World as well as the Old, he had, 
and still has, faithful followers. It was from Paris 
that Pestalozzian reform was first transmitted to 
the United States. A Burgdorf professor, Neef, 
was appointed to teach in a Paris orphanage in 1803, 
and his class was even honoured by an official visit 
from Napoleon, who was accompanied by Talley 
rand. Maclure, an American citizen, was present 
at the interview and, being impressed by the results 
obtained, he persuaded Neef to leave Paris for 
Philadelphia, whence he afterwards went to New- 

1 Von Muralt belonged to a noble family of Zurich; he lived 
for several years in Paris. 


harmonie, to organize the Pestalozzian teaching. 1 
Later, the son of that Krusi who was Pestalozzi's 
first collaborator at Burgdorf, emigrated to America, 
and became professor of educational science in the 
Oswego Normal School, whose founder, Sheldon, 
introduced and applied sight teaching. Oswego 
school, established in New York State in 1860, has 
perhaps more than any other school influenced the 
professional education of American masters. "This 
was due," said the Monograph on the 1900 Exhi 
bition, "to the practical application of Pestalozzi's 
method and ideas by Sheldon, its principal." A 
few years earlier, Lowell Mason, also an American, 
made use of Pestalozzi's method for singing instruc 
tion, 2 as formulated by Pfeiffer and Nageli, two 
Yverdon professors; and in a lecture several times 
repeated before a crowded audience he expounded 
Pestalozzianism to his fellow-citizens. Starting from 
1835, a school journal, entitled The Pestalozzian, 
appeared in Ohio. It was by Americans that Horace 
Mann was called the illustrious apostle of Pestalozzi. 3 
Henry Barnard, in his important publications, 
showed how highly he valued the experiments at 
Stans and elsewhere. And again this year we read 

1 See a pamphlet by Mr. William S. Monroe, Joseph Neef and 
Pestalozzianism in America, Boston, 1894. 

2 See the Pestalozzian Music Teacher, Boston, 1871. 

3 Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1892-1893, p. 1658. 


in an American journal: "The Stans experiment 
was destined to effect a revolution in men's ideas 
on education. ... It can be said with truth that 
the present-day educational system is substantially 
Pestalozzian." 1 

An entire and interesting chapter could be written 
on the relations of French thought with Pestalozzi. 
We have already mentioned the efforts of Maine 
de Biran, who especially prized the Pestalozzian 
method because it tended "to develop equally for 
all that faculty of reason which is necessary for all 
ranks, and applicable to all the conditions and require 
ments of human life." Bergerac school, organized 
in 1808 with Barraud's cooperation, lasted, under 
very varied forms, until 1881; like the Burgdorf 
school, it quickly became transformed into a kind 
of college for the middle classes. Maine de Biran, 
who had been in direct correspondence with Pesta 
lozzi, visited him at Yverdon in 1822; he found 
that he had "deteriorated," and that he was ruled 
by Schmid, of whom the French philosopher did 
not form a favourable opinion. It appeared to him 
that Schmid was merely "sharp." This enigmatical 
personage whom, in his simplicity, Pestalozzi lauded 
to the skies, whilst Fellenberg called him "Satan," 
and of whom M. Hunziker said to me a few months 

1 The Teacher's Institute, February, 1901. 


ago, "Schmid was nothing but a windbag," was 
received by France after the dispersion of the Yver- 
don institution. About 1830, he and five other 
Yverdon professors entered the Morin Institute in 
Paris, where he gave lessons in mathematics until 
his death, which occurred in 1851. He it was who 
provided Philibert Pompee, the first director of 
the Turgot school, with material for the preparation 
of the paper which he submitted, in 1847, for the 
competition opened by the Academy of Moral and 
Political Sciences on the following subject : " A critical 
examination of Pestalozzi's system of instruction 
and education, considered principally in its relations 
to the welfare and morality of the poorer classes." 
A great many other facts could yet be mentioned 
proving what attention France accorded Pestalozzi's 
works. 1 Let us recall the articles which Madame 

1 Pestalozzi has rarely been attacked and criticised in France, 
but the Pere Burnichon, a Father of the Society of Jesus, did 
assail him. What grieves me in this affair is that I occasioned 
these attacks, which were especially intended to be unpleasant to 
me. Twenty years ago I ventured to write that Pestalozzi was 
"famous," a belief in which I persist, and that he well de 
served a place in the front rank of the men who have done honour 
to the fine name of teacher. Thereupon the Pere Burnichon de 
clared war against poor Pestalozzi, of whom he dared to say that 
"he was deficient in brains." There are many people whom 
we might wish to have as much ! And he added that " he was but 
little known in France," proving chiefly that he himself did not 
know him, especially when he defined the Yverdon institute as 
"a kind of agricultural colony." 


Guizot wrote on Pestalozzi in 1813, for the Annales 
de I'Education, in connection with Jullien's com 
mentary ; the report which Cuvier drew up in 
1815, after a visit to Yverdon, where he had been 
sent by Carnot the minister; the creation of a 
Pestalozzian school in Paris, in 1822, by Professor 
Boniface, who had taught the French language at 
Yverdon, from 1803 till 1817, whose grammatical 
studies also have long been classics in France. 
Neither should it be forgotten that the Societe pour 
V instruction elementaire inscribed Pestalozzi among 
its corresponding members, and that one of his 
friends, Prefect Lezay-Marnesia, under his inspira 
tion established, in 1810, at Strasbourg, the first 
normal school in France. Our great historian, 
Michelet, in 1870, rendered him most eloquent 
testimony when he said of him that he was "a flame, 
a life," that "he improvised men," and that he 
was "a true saint." It was another Frenchman, 
M. Guillaume, who wrote, a few years ago, a book 
which is the best biographical study on Rousseau, 
even if it be compared with that written by M. 
Morf. 1 And before M. Guillaume, Pestalozzi had 

1 M. Morf, director of the Winterthur orphanage, collected a 
large number of original documents relating to Pestalozzi. Be 
tween 1864 and 1867 he published a whole series of detached studies, 
and he devoted to him a most interesting and complete biography, 
in four parts, which appeared in 1868, 1885, and 1889. 


in France for panegyrists Augustin Cochin and 
Philibert Pompee, without forgetting Rapet, who 
had shared with Pompee the prize of the Academy 
of Moral and Political Sciences, for a monograph, 
still in manuscript, 1 to which the Pedagogic Museum 
at Paris owes a collection of Pestalozzian books 
which can rival that in the Pestalozzianum at Zurich. 

Time has not effaced Pestalozzi from men's 
memories. In 1871, Zezchwitz acclaimed him as 
" the hope of the German people in evil days." In 
1873, Wiesinger discoursed on the part due to him 
in the renovation of the German people. Finally, 
in 1885, Wienner published a manual of pedagogy 
on Pestalozzi's principles. 

The importance attached by educational theorists 
to the work of the humble teacher of the people 
is proved by a whole series of books. In these he 
has been in turn compared with the most celebrated 
of modern educators. The Pere Girard said, " His 
tory will one day draw a parallel between the two 
Swiss pedagogues, Rousseau and Pestalozzi." His- 

1 It is to be regretted that Rapet's monograph has not been 
printed. His work is superior to that by Pompe'e, who shared 
the prize with him. The Academy gave 120 to Rapet and 80 to 
Pompee. Rapet informs us, in his unpublished notes, that there 
was a thought of awarding the entire prize to him. But this was 
in 1848, and Giraud, the correspondent, gave him to understand 
that 200 would have seemed "too aristocratic a reward." 


tory has not failed to do so. How often the Stans 
teacher has been compared with the author of 
Emile in pamphlets and in large volumes. 1 There 
is hardly an illustrious pedagogue to whom he 
has not been likened. Here we have a little book 
entitled, Comenius and Pestalozzi, considered as 
Founders of the Popular School; 2 another in which 
Pestalozzi's principles are compared with Froebel's ; 3 
a third, in which the resemblances between Pesta- 
lozzi and Diesterweg are examined; 4 others again, 
in which the relations of Pestalozzi's method with 
Francke's, 5 Fellenberg's, 8 and Herbart's 7 are studied. 
But it is not alone the study of Pestalozzi's gen 
eral theories which has continued to preoccupy 
the friends of education. Practical workers have 
not ceased to look to him for directions concerning 
the various divisions of primary education. Let 
us mention, for example, Exercices et travaux pour 
les enfantSj selon la methode et les procedes de Pesta- 
lozzi et de Froebel, published in 1873 by Madame and 

1 Herisson, Pestalozzi, eleve de Rousseau, Paris, 1886; Hunziker, 
Pestalozzi und Rousseau, Bale, 1885 ; Schneider, Rousseau und Pesta 
lozzi, Bromberg, 1866 ; Zoller, Pestalozzi und Rousseau, Frankfort. 

2 Hoffmeister, Comenius und Pestalozzi als Begrunder der 
Volksschule, Berlin, 1877. 

3 Fr. Beust, Die Grundgedanken von Pestalozzi und Froebel, 
Zurich, 1881 . 4 Balster, Dortmund, 1846. 5 Kramer, Berlin, 1854. 

6 Hunziker, Langensalza, 1879. 

7 A. Vogel, Herbart oder Pestalozzi f Hanover, 1887. 


M. Charles Delon; several manuals of elementary 
arithmetic, a small work by H. Ruppert, On the 
Application of Pestalozzi's Method to the Teaching 
0} Mathematics, which appeared at Langensalza, 
in 1879 ; a treatise by the Englishman, Tate, which, 
since 1850, has passed through several editions, under 
the title of First Principles of Arithmetic based on 
Pestalozzi's Principles; and again, The First Year 
of Pestalozzian Arithmetic, published by Hoose, 
the American, in 1882. Let us finally mention, from 
a more general point of view, the Cahiers de peda- 
gogie d'apres les principes de Pestalozzi, compiled 
in 1879 by the Swiss pedagogue Paroz. 

Our list is by no means complete. 1 If it be true, 
as Mr. Herbert Spencer said, that the Pestalozzian 
idea is yet to be realized, it is not the fault of the 
innumerable commentators who have attempted 
to develop it. We cannot call to mind a thinker 
who has traced so deep a furrow in the conscious 
ness of humanity. But whatever the interest of 
the publications which his memory has called forth, 
it is to himself that we must return, if we wish really 
to know him; it is in his own writings, his actions, 
and the virtues of his character that we must seek 
the causes of our admiration for him, his democratic 
mind and his popular soul. 

1 See also Pestalozzi und Luther, by Schlimpret, 1864. 


CERTAINLY we must not expect to find models of 
literary elegance, or studied composition, or even 
connected and concise reasoning in Pestalozzi's 
numerous writings. His thought is confused, dis 
connected, and obscure; his style often strange. 
Incapable of governing men, he was no less unable 
to control his ideas and to master the tumultuous 
flood of his fancies. Vivid but disordered con 
ceptions whirled through his brain. Nothing could 
be more incoherent, for example, than the com 
position of his Lettres a Gessner, and yet these form 
the best of his works. Sentimental effusions of an 
overflowing heart, apostrophe and invocation in 
prophetic and declamatory language, incessantly 
sever and break the irresolute thread of reasoning. 
One feels that the author is growing weary and that 
he finds it difficult to follow up the theoretical dis 
cussion on which he has embarked. His imagina 
tion is continually breaking loose and wandering. 
At every moment he is obliged to leave the long 
digressions in which he strays: "I resume my 



explanation; ... I return to my subject." Com 
parisons and figures of speech abound and over 
whelm the thought with the whimsicality of their 
confused fancies. Thus, in the space of a few pages, 
he likens himself, in turn, "to a sailor who has lost 
his harpoon and attempts to catch whales with a 
hook/ 7 when he wishes to express the disproportion 
between his means and his object; "to a straw 
which would not provide hold for a cat," to proclaim 
his lack of importance ; to an owl, to portra'y his 
isolation; to a reed, to illustrate his weakness; 
to a mouse afraid of the cat, to describe his timidity. 
From all this confusion and verbal chaos, however, 
flashes of sincere, true eloquence shine forth at times. 
If Pestalozzi is defective in the abstract presenta 
tion of general ideas, he makes up for it nobly in 
his imaginative works. In them he shows himself 
a clever narrator and an exquisite painter of manners. 
With Leonard et Gertrude he inaugurated the popular 
novel; he created a style which has not found suffi 
cient imitators, and of which he himself could not 
follow the inspiration in Christophe et Else, another 
of his works, which is nothing but a wearisome and 
ultra-didactic commentary to Leonard et Gertrude. 
But in his " first book for the people," in the innocent 
simple pictures which he traced of village life, there 
are really exquisite pages. No surprise is felt at 


learning from Madame de Stael that she shed tears at 
certain passages, when reading, for example, the 
touching scene in which the old dying grandmother 
obtains from her grandson the restoration of some 
potatoes which he had stolen. This beautiful book, 
which has been lost sight of too much, is also recom 
mended by the portraiture and character analysis 
which it contains. 

In it Pestalozzi displayed great subtlety of obser 
vation. Nothing could be more delicately studied 
and described than the moral physiognomies of the 
seven children of Gertrude, the perfect mother, 
whose sons and daughters have all the failings com 
mon to their age. Although the plot of the novel 
is not in itself intricate, it is blended with amus 
ing anecdotes, comic episodes, and touching scenes 
which save it from being devoid of interest. The 
eternal struggle between good and evil is there set 
out : the representatives of good are honest labourers 
whom the announcement of a few days' unhoped-for 
work is sufficient to delight, a simple, good pastor, 
and a generous, kindly lord ; whilst evil is incarnated 
in an unjust bailiff, who is at the same time a none 
too scrupulous publican. "I have long thought," 
said Pestalozzi, who would perhaps have occasion 
to repeat his words if he lived at the present day, 
"that a bailiff or mayor should not be a publican 


by trade. ..." Directed especially against the 
public house and drunkenness, the novel of Leonard 
et Gertrude has a high moral value, the importance 
of which has not diminished with time. The three 
last parts, although they do not offer the same 
dramatic attraction as the first, deserve, nevertheless, 
to be preserved from oblivion; for, in telling the 
story of the regeneration of a village, they present, 
as it were, an advance scheme of all the economic 
and moral reforms which have transformed the 
condition of the rural populations of Switzerland 
in the course of a century's constant progress. 
Sensibility and imagination, beyond all doubt, 
play the most prominent part in the majority of 
Pestalozzi's writings. But a ready wit is also ap 
parent in them. A teacher of Berne, with whom 
I recently had the pleasure of conversing, whilst 
pointing out to me the pointed nose and thin lips 
in a portrait of Pestalozzi, said: "Do you see? 
Pestalozzi possessed the ironical faculty. ..." 
An unexpected criticism, which, however, contains 
a certain amount of truth. Was not Socrates, a 
believer and an enthusiast, the father of irony? 
In the same way, Pestalozzi, sentimental as he may 
have been, was not wanting, at times, either in deli 
cate sarcasm or biting raillery. Take the Manuel 
des Meres itself, that elementary, infantile book: 


you will find in it a number of pungent observations, 
which would not be amiss in the work of a moralist. 
" Lawyers talk a great deal, especially when they 
are pleading a bad case/ 7 -"Many women who 
examined nothing but their mirror in their youth, 
prefer to examine their cash-box once they are mar 
ried." - "Men and women speak the more as they 
think the less. . . ." The impress of Pestalozzi's 
satirical vein is to be found more especially in his 
Fables, in which he brings before us lords and 
peasants, as well as animals and plants. 

Do not let us take him for a scholar, with a re 
stricted, narrow mind, confining himself to ques 
tions of method and pedagogical procedure. His 
thought often rises above the school and class room. 
We must not regard as wholly unworthy of atten 
tion the reflections contained in his philosophical 
book, Recherches sur la marche de la nature, which, 
of all his writings, as has already been said, gave 
him most trouble, he was at work on it for three 
years, and of which the lack of success grieved 
him deeply. In it he distinguishes three elements 
in the human being : animal man, social man, and, 
lastly, moral man, which is the work of individual 
ism and will. In it he expresses himself strongly 
on the rights of property. The origin of property, 
says he, whether legitimate or otherwise, should 


not weigh with us. Property is sacred, since it 
exists. We ought to respect it because we form 
a society. But, on the other hand, Pestalozzi com 
plains that property-holders do not fulfil all their 
duties. In their selfishness they forget the unfor 
tunate and the poor, who, having the same natural 
right to property, yet do not share in it ; they forget 
them, excepting when they require them to undergo 
military service or to pay taxes. 

Pestalozzi's thought was generally governed by 
wisdom and good sense, but at times he used the 
language of utopianism. For example, he attacked 
printing, cursing it as the cause of all the evils from 
which society is suffering. It has turned away the 
eyes of man the eyes, which are the principal in 
strument of knowledge, from the instructive and 
fertile spectacle of the actual universe, to fix 
and hold them on the dead letters of loquacious 
and barren books. He also attacked the Protestant 
Reformation, because it allowed ignorance and 
stupidity to speak on questions of theology which 
the human mind will never solve. 

Penetration was not lacking in Pestalozzi. Lively 
as was his sympathy with the French Revolution, 
he could recognize its faults, condemn its excesses, 
and foresee its consequences. "Either," said he, 
"it will respect the liberty and rights of all citizens, 


or else it will come about that the opposing minority, 
richer and craftier, will soon succeed in once more 
subjugating an imprudent and disordered majority, 
which those formerly in power persist in regarding 
as a band of escaped slaves." Rousseau had fore 
told the Revolution thirty years in advance: as 
early as 1793, Pestalozzi was prophesying the re 
newal of hostilities by the old regime, the Empire, and 
also the Restoration. 

An ardent, burning eloquence often directed 
Pestalozzi's pen, and a touch of poetry was added. 
He spoke of his misfortunes and his painful destiny 
with as much pathos as the author of the Confes 
sions, when recounting the trials of his life. But 
it is especially when he deals with education and 
the interests of humanity that his solemnly implor 
ing voice becomes animated and excited. "We 
have," cried he, "schools for reading, writing, and 
catechism; but we have not the essential, schools 
for forming men. . . . Modern civilization resem 
bles the colossus of which the prophet speaks. 
Its head of gold ; that is, the arts, in which it excels ; 
it touches the clouds. But popular instruction, 
which ought to be the basis and support of this 
magnificent head, is like the feet of the statue, 
it is made of the coarsest and most fragile 
clay. . . . The people of Europe are unhappy 


and orphaned: let us give them at least a 
mother! . . ." 

The writer, in Pestalozzi, is confused and incom 
plete ; numerous defects spoil the qualities. But the 
man is beyond compare and is almost entirely made 
up of virtues. I am not speaking only of the purity 
of his morals, nor of his devotion and abnegation, 
nor of his activity which scarcely knew repose, nor 
of his courage: the Zurich schoolboy, laughed at 
by his comrades, was, nevertheless, the only one 
who, one day of panic, when the rumblings of an 
earthquake shook the walls of the school and the 
occupants of the class rooms fled in fear, ventured 
to go back into the building and quietly remove 
his books. But what examples he has left, more 
especially, of active, superhuman charity, pushed 
to excess, as at Neuhof and Stans. He it was who, 
accosted by a beggar, and not having a halfpenny 
in his pocket, made him a present of the silver buckles 
of his shoes, and returned to Zurich with his foot 
wear gaping, badly fastened with straw. He it was 
who, bringing away from a friend's house some 
money, which, in a moment of distress, he had gone 
to borrow, met on the way a poor peasant who was 
lamenting the loss of a cow, and he despoiled himself 
for the man's benefit. . . . Only once was Pesta 
lozzi rich, and even then it was merely anticipation. 


When Cotta, the publisher, opened a subscription 
for the publication of his complete works, it met 
with great success. Kings and philosophers has 
tened to bring their offering: so that Cotta could 
undertake to pay Pestalozzi about 2000 for his 
rights as author. But this wealth expected 
rather than realized, moreover, for Cotta did not 
fulfil all his engagements was only a fresh op 
portunity for Pestalozzi to display his admirable 
disinterestedness. In one of those speeches which 
he loved to deliver in the presence of his assembled 
household, 1 on the 12th of January, 1818, he declared 
that he intended the money which was promised 
him to go to various scholastic foundations, to a 
normal school for men and women teachers, to one 
or more elementary schools, and, lastly, to the 
continued improvement of all means of instruction 
and domestic education for the people. And as 
his grandson, Gottlieb, who had returned to Yver- 
don a short time before, was present and listened 
to this solemn donation which robbed him of the 
most definite portion of his inheritance, Pestalozzi, 
turning to him, said: "You returned into our midst 
and said to me: 'Father, I want to be what you 
are. . . . ; These words made me happy. Neither 

1 It was from 1808 to 1818 that Pestalozzi formed the habit of 
delivering every year, in solemn gatherings, Discours a sa maison. 


gold nor silver can make you what I am. ... My 
heart alone made me what I am. . . ." 

The unhappy great man inspires in those who 
study him closely an admiration mingled with 
compassion. The material security of existence 
was often denied him. In 1781, he had no money 
for the purchase of paper to compose his immortal 
books, and he wrote Leonard et Gertrude on the 
margins of an old account book. In order to live 
he was reduced to selling the medals awarded him 
by the philanthropic societies of Switzerland. He 
walked "like a somnambulist in the world of busi 
ness. . . ." If one penetrates into his private life, 
it is impossible not to be touched by all that he had 
to suffer from his associates, and even from his 
family. Assuredly he could not have dispensed 
with his collaborators, who, by their acquirements, 
remedied the gaps in his education ; he spelled badly 
and was not sure of himself in the four rules ; with 
justice could he say, " If Buss, Krusi, and Tobler 
had not come to my assistance, my theories would 
have been quenched in my heart, like the stifled 
flames of a seething volcano which cannot find a 
vent. . . ." And yet what disillusions, what mor 
tification and bitterness, came to him from his asso 
ciates, whose slave he became, who were his tyrants, 
and grieved him by their hatred? "We founded 


this house on love, and love has disappeared from 
our midst ! . . ." At times he rose in revolt and 
used hard words to describe masters whom yet he 
loved: "Jullien is a superficial Frenchman; Krusi 
is a lazy dog ; Schmid behaves like a wild ass. . . ." 
Did he at least find in his life's companion a com 
plete consolation for his sorrows, his afflictions, and the 
loss of his only son ? It is to be doubted. Madame 
Pestalozzi was doubtless a devoted and generous 
wife, ready to sacrifice her patrimony to meet the 
expenses of her husband's hazardous undertakings. 
But she does not appear always to have sustained 
him with her confidence and surrounded him with 
her care. During the toilsome years of the Neuhof 
enterprise she absented herself frequently, visiting 
her friends' mansions, staying there several months 
at a stretch, and leaving the unhappy man to strug 
gle alone in the midst of difficulties of every kind. 
After the troubles and failure of Neuhof, she be 
came uneasy and distrustful, reasonably so we 
must confess. A few words written by Pestalozzi 
to her, from Stans, in 1798, throw much light on 
this point: ". . . If I am worth what I think, you 
may rely on receiving help and support from me 
before long. But in the meantime, be quiet. . . . 
Each of your words lacerates my heart. I cannot 
endure your eternal incredulity. You have waited 


thirty years: wait another three months! . . ." 
At Yverdon, Madame Pestalozzi lived apart in a 
corner of the castle, hardly joining in the life of the 
institution and her husband's activity, dreading the 
noise and agitation. Ramsauer, who was decidedly 
the scandal-monger among the Pestalozzians, nar 
rated some details which reveal singular peculiari 
ties in the relations of husband and wife. Pesta 
lozzi only sat at his wife's table when expressly 
invited by her. Ordinarily he shared his pupils 7 
meals. To make up for this he was expected to 
play cards with her every evening. They could 
not remain together for ten minutes without quar 
relling. And yet it was affirmed that they loved 
each other tenderly. When Madame Pestalozzi died, 
on the llth of December, 1818, the survivor was 
deeply afflicted. Let us, however, note these reflec 
tions of a woman friend of theirs who wrote some 
days before Madame Pestalozzi's death: " There are 
in them two distinct souls. In her will die a be 
loved wife and worthy companion, but not a part of 
Pestalozzi's ego." 

In the isolation of his last years, struggling with 
a thousand cares and in financial embarrassment, 
Pestalozzi suffered still more. Let us not pity him 
too much, in spite of all. In the consciousness of his 
duty done and the joy of his partly executed work, he 


more than once enjoyed heart-felt peace, what he 
himself called " paradise upon earth." He knew 
the grandeur of his design, and he found a few hours 7 
happiness by devoting his entire life to the happi 
ness of others. 

He dreamed more than he accomplished, and sowed 
more than he harvested. We are told that, during 
his walks, he gathered stones and minerals by the 
handful, filling his handkerchief and cramming his 
pockets with them; then, when this unmethodical 
collector returned home, he put them haphazard 
in a corner, and never found time to classify and 
catalogue them. This in some degree represents 
what he was in his intellectual life, heaping up ob 
servations and accumulating experience, without 
ever succeeding in organizing a body of doctrine. 
The nobility of his aspirations and the beauty of his 
aim, more than power of execution, the effort rather 
than the result, was what characterized him and 
constituted his worth. As is very justly said by 
Mr. Herbert Spencer, who of all his forerunners in 
educational matters mentions Pestalozzi alone, in 
his book on Education, " Pestalozzi's mind was one of 
partial intuitions." As he himself admitted, "I did 
not know what I was doing; I only knew what 
I desired. . . ." He desired humanity to be en 
nobled through instruction. "The only way of 


putting an end to the social disorder, the fermenta 
tions and popular revolutions, as well as to the abuses 
of despotism both of princes and of the multitude, 
is to ennoble man." He was sustained by an ardent 
faith in the natural forces of humanity and the power 
of education, but his optimism was not absolute. 
Rarely, said he, is man good. He added, however, 
that this was the fault of his bad instruction, as 
man only becomes man by instruction. And like 
Rousseau, beyond the misery and vice of existing 
society, he hailed the coming of a good and happy 
humanity, restored to itself by the effect of a uni 
versal education conforming to the laws of nature. 
"I believe," said he, "in the human heart, and in 
that belief I walk on ploughed-up ground as I would 
walk on the firm paving of a Roman road." 

To estimate equitably a man's merit and the value 
of a work, it is necessary to restore the setting, the 
environment in which the man lived and in which 
the work was attempted. To judge of the impor 
tance of Rousseau's attempts, let us make allowance 
for the wretched state of education in his time. 
" Despite the fine appearance of civilization, so 
much vaunted, nine men out of ten are dispossessed 
of the right belonging to every man living in society, 
- the right of education." Knowledge, still a privi 
lege of the richer classes, does not enlighten the 


poorer classes. " The more I observe the people, the 
more I am certain that the broad stream of education, 
which in books seems to flow for them, evaporates 
in the village and the school into a dark, damp mist." 
After a hundred years of progress, it is easy to 
deride the insufficiency and poverty of Pestalozzi's 
plan of instruction. If we would be just, let us think 
what primary studies were in Switzerland at that 
time, " on what a quicksand the cankered schools 
were built," with what pupils, and also with what 
teachers, Pestalozzi had to deal. Let us recall how 
Krusi, his first collaborator, became a teacher. 
Krusi was eighteen years old in 1793. He was a 
hawker by trade. One day, on the highway, he 
met a functionary who said to him point-blank: 
"Wouldn't you like to be a teacher? There is a 
situation vacant in the school at Gais." "But I 
know nothing," replied Krusi, naively. . . . His 
interlocutor was not discouraged. "You will easily 
learn what a teacher can and should know in our 
schools." Krusi made up his mind, and sat for the 
regulation examination. "There were two of us 
competing," he narrated. "The principal test con 
sisted in writing the Lord's prayer. I set about it 
as best I could. I had noticed the use of capital 
letters in German writing and distributed them 
liberally, even in the middle of words. When the 


examination was over, Captain Schoefer, who 
decided the contest, told me that my competitor 
read better than I did, but that my writing was 
better, in short, that I was successful. . . . How can 
we help being indulgent towards teachers recruited 
from the highways and scarcely able to read and 
write? . . . How avoid indulgence also towards 
the educator who, for the accomplishment of his 
great schemes, had as auxiliaries only masters barely 
reclaimed from rusticity, who had themselves to 
be instructed and formed before they could in their 
turn form the pupils confided to their care ? Pesta- 
lozzi was not wrong when he said, "The teaching 
actually in use seemed to me an immense swamp, 
which I crossed by resolutely plunging into the mire." 
Everything then remained to be done in order to 
institute the elementary school, the people's school, 
the modern school, such as a hundred years of effort 
have hardly succeeded in organizing in civilized 
countries. Pestalozzi sketched out the work, and 
those who have continued it cannot forget what they 
owe to the heroic impulse given by him. He con 
ceived the universal school, open to all children, and 
distinct from the church. Pestalozzi was the first, 
in order of date, of the lay teachers. In the last 
parts of Leonard et Gertrude, he boldly subordinates 
the pastor to the schoolmaster. And he gives as 


his reason that laymen alone are in a position to 
prepare men for family and social life. Summariz 
ing a conversation between a clergyman and a teacher, 
he concluded in these terms : "Thus the man, whose 
power came from his knowledge of the world, spoke 
to the priest whose weakness was due to his lack of 
such knowledge." 

Poor, strange, great man, at once puerile and 
sublime, awkward in his manners and gestures, but 
admirable in his intentions and actions ! His con 
temporaries ridiculed and derided him at times. 
At Zurich, his school-fellows called him a "queer 
chap"; his neighbours at Neuhof described him as 
a "crank"; his friends themselves, grieved at his 
lack of practical ability, said that he would die in 
a poorhouse or a lunatic asylum. But insult, 
derision, misadventure, and adversity, all glanced 
aside from his intrepid mind, without cooling its 
ardour or disturbing its valiant serenity. He went 
on to the end, smiling at privations, asking only 
to live under a thatched roof, there to pursue 
his dream, insensible to reverses, indomitable and 
patient. At the same time he was modest, recog 
nizing that he was only seeking to put into practice 
"what good sense had taught men for thousands of 
years," and not hiding from himself the imperfec 
tions of his unfinished work. "Examine," said he, 


in the Schwanengesang, his pedagogic testament, 
"examine everything in what I have proposed, and 
retain what is good. If some better conception has 
ripened in your minds, add it to what I have striven 
to offer you in a spirit of truth and love; but, I 
pray you, do not reject the whole work, in its en 
tirety and without examination, as though it were 
a chimera condemned beforehand. . . ." 

No, his aim was not chimerical. If he did not 
reach it, he showed his successors the road by which 
it could be reached. He did not forget himself in 
vain reveries. Rousseau, with his visionary hu- 
manitarianism and his platonic outbursts, seems 
small beside this active philanthropist, who did not 
rest content with writing, but acted and made his 
acts conform to his thoughts. Let him not be se 
verely judged because he could not define his method 
with exactitude. He himself was the method, with 
his animation and his indefatigable enthusiasm. 
He remains "a unique man/ 7 as his friend Lavater 
said. His life was not wasted, if only on account 
of the examples which it has left us; and not in 
vain did his heart beat for the same idea during 
sixty years. If what Raumer called "his all-power 
ful love" could, whilst he was alive, conquer all 
who approached him, his sentiments can still com 
municate themselves from afar to men's minds, give 


rise to noble emulation, and beget fine teaching 
careers. In any case, whatever its deficiencies, 
his work remains the product of a reason, superior 
at times, always and everywhere waited on by 
infinite tenderness. 

Queen Louise of Prussia, in transports of admira 
tion for Pestalozzi, said of him: "How that man 
loves humanity! ... I thank him in humanity's 
name." All posterity should associate itself with 
this grateful homage, and thank him, in the name 
of that ignorant humanity which he wished to edu 
cate and in the name of that poor, suffering human 
ity which he wished to raise and succour, by teaching 
it industrial work, thrift, and honesty. 

One day, Pestalozzi, looking out upon the pictu 
resque scenery of the mountains and valleys of his 
native land, exclaimed, "Yes, nature is beautiful," 
and where could this be said with greater truth 
than in Switzerland, that country on which nature 
has lavished her marvels, and has given to the Alps 
lakes which bathe their feet, like so many mirrors 
in which to reflect and multiply their beauties, 
"yes, nature is beautiful, but there is something 
more beautiful than nature and her earthly splen 
dours, and that is the human heart." 

Yes, we say, when it is the heart of a Pestalozzi. 


ONLY the principal authorities are mentioned here, the works 
which have been indicated at the foot of the pages being omitted. 

In the case of Pestalozzi 's own works, reference is made to 
the complete editions only. 

fcdition Cotta, Sdmmtliche Schriften, Stuttgart and Tubingen, 
1819-1826, 15 vols., 8vo. Edition Seyffarth, Sdmmtliche Werke, 
Brandenburg, 1869-1872, 18 vols., 12vo ; a new edition, prepared 
by M. SEYFFARTH, has been in course of publication since 1899. 

There is also a collection of (Euvres choisies (AusgewdhUe 
Werke), by F. MANN, Langensalza, 1869-1870, 4 vols. 

Translations into French : 

Manuel des meres, translated from the German, Paris-Geneva, 
1821. Leonard et Gertrude, translated from the German by the 
Baroness de Guimps (the first part only), Paris-Geneva, 1832. 
Comment Gertrude instruit ses enfants, translated from the Ger 
man by DR. E. DARIN, Paris, 1882. 

Commentaries and biographies in French : 

M*** DE H***, Precis de la nouvette methode d'education de 
M. Pestalozzi, etc., Paris, 1804. 

CHAVANNES, Expose de la methode elementaire de H. Pes 
talozzi, suivi d'une notice sur les travaux de cet homme celebre t 
son institut et ses principaux collaborateurs, Paris, 1805. 

LE P. GIRARD, Rapport sur I'institut de M. Pestalozzi, a 
Yverdon, etc., Fribourg, 1810. 

JULLIEN (de Paris), Precis sur I 'institut d 'education d'Yverdon, 
1 vol., 8vo, Milan, 1812; second edition, Paris, 1842, under 
the title : Expose de la methode d'education de Pestalozzi. 



RAYMOND, Lettre sur I'etablissement d'education d'Yverdon, 
fonde et dirige par M. Pestalozzi, 1814. 

DE THON (Mme. Adele), Notice sur Pestalozzi, a pamphlet, 
Geneva, 1827. 

MLLE. CORNELIE CHAVANNES, Biogmphie de H. Pestalozzi, 
1 vol., 8vo, Lausanne, 1853. 

PAROZ, Pestalozzi, sa vie, sa methode et ses principes, Berne, 

ROGER DE GUIMPS, Histoire de Pestalozzi, de sa pensee et de 
son ceuvre, 1 vol., Lausanne, 1874. 

POMPEE, titudes sur la vie et les travaux pedagogiques de 
J. H. Pestalozzi, Paris, 1878. 

AUGUSTIN COCHIN, Pestalozzi, etc., Paris, 1880. 

L. VUILLEMIN, Souvenirs, Lausanne, Bridel, 1880. 

J. GUILLAUME, Pestalozzi, Aude biographique, Paris, Hachette, 

A. PINLOCHE, Pestalozzi et r education populaire moderne, Paris, 
Alcan, 1902. 

Refer also to Psychologie de I'effort by M. A. BERTRAND, at 
the chapter on le Biranisme applique a I' education, Paris, 1889; 
in the Revue pedagogique, to the articles by M. MARTIN, on 
Greaves, November, 1886; by M. PAULIET, on I'Ecole pestaloz- 
zienne de Bergerac, April, 1890; in the Bibliotheque universelle 
et Revue suisse, the article by M. E. NAVILLE, Pestalozzi et Maine 
de Biran, April, 1890. Consult lastly Rapet's manuscripts, 
which are preserved in the Musee pedagogique: 1st, a Memoire 
of 800 pages presented to the Institute in 1847 ; 2nd, a collection 
of notes made by Rapet from that date until the last years of 
his life. 

Works in German : 

The list of German publications will be found in the bibliog 
raphy compiled by M. Guillaume at the end of his fine book, in 
the Catalogue des ouvrages du Musee pedagogique of Paris, 1886- 
1889, and in the Catalogue of the Pestalozzianum at Zurich. 


We will confine ourselves to a few references: 

RAMSAUER, Kurze Skisse meines pddagogischen Lebens, Olden- 
bourg, 1838. 

BLOCKMANN, Pestalozzi, Zuge aus dem Bilde seines Lebens, 
etc., Leipzig, 1846. 

H. MORF, Zur Biographic H. Pestalozzis, 2 parts, 8vo, 
Winterthur, 1865-1866. Pestalozzi und seine Anstalt in der 
zweiten Hdlfte der Burgdorfferzeit, Winterthur, 1885. Einige 
Blatter aus Pestalozzis Lebens und Leidens geschichte, Langen- 
salza, 1887. 

K. VON RAUMER, Geschichte der Pddagogik, etc., 4 vols., 8vo, 
Stuttgart, 1846-1854. The part devoted to Pestalozzi has been 
translated into English by Tikierd, London, 1855. 

OTTO HUNZIKER, Geschichte der schweizerischen Volksschule, 
3 vols., Zurich, 1881-1882, Vol. II, and various other works. 

MORIKOFER, Die schweizerische Literatur, Leipzig, 1861. 

Works in English : 

BIBER, Henry Pestalozzi and his Plan of Education, etc., 
1 vol., 8vo, London, 1831. 

HENRY BARNARD, Life, Educational Principles, and Methods 
of John Henry Pestalozzi, articles reproduced from the Journal 
of Education, 1 vol., 8vo, New York, 1859. 

REV. DR. MAYO, Lectures on the Life of Pestalozzi, London, 

H. KRUSI, Pestalozzi, his Life, Work, and Influence, 1 vol., 
8vo, Cincinnati, New York, 1875. 

JOSEPH PAYNE, Pestalozzi, the Influence of his Principles and 
Practice on Elementary Education, a pamphlet of 20 pages, Lon 
don, 1875. 

R. HEBERT QUICK, Educational Reformers, New York, 1893. 

WILLIAM H. PAYNE, Contributions to the Science of Educa 
tion, New York, 1886 (Chap. XIV. The Teacher as a Philan 

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Pestalozzi and elementary