Page images
PDF
EPUB

de l'ordre et du beau, pour animer l'instinct qui attache l'homme à son pays, et pour élever vers le ciel son imagination et ses vœux. Tous les élèves apprennent donc la théorie de la musique, et conxercés au chant. C'est le dimanche qu'on prend pour cette étude, ainsi que pour la lecture, l'écriture, le calcul à la plume, un peu de dessein, et de géométrie.

[ocr errors]

Chaque matin avant le travail, chaque soir après qu'il est terminé, Vehrli cause avec les enfans, et Mr Fellenberg assiste le plus souvent à cet entretien. Le plan du travail de la journée, les avertissemens et les exhortations convenables, suivent la prière du matin. Le soir on leur fait les observations auxquelles les petits événemens de la journée ont donné lieu. On les encourage sur ce qui est digne d'éloges; on les reprend doucement sur leurs torts; on les affermit dans leurs bonnes résolutions; et la prière achève et sanctifie cet exercice salutaire.

[ocr errors]

Quoique l'instruction positive soit, ainsi que je l'ai dit, subordonnée à la nécessité où sont ces enfans d'apprendre à gagner leur vie par le travail de leurs mains, les progrès ont été plus grands qu'on ne le croiroit possible en si peu de temps. Presque tous savent maintenant bien lire et écrire, un peu dessiner, estimer les angles, calculer de tête, et par les chiffres; chanter la note des airs simples, et tenir la mesure. Ils savent le nom, le caractère et les qualités de toutes les plantes cultivées à Hofwyl, de toutes les mauvaises herbes qui croissent dans les champs; ils connoissent également la nature des diverses pierres qu'on y trouve. Ils ont appris par cœur plus de cinquante hymnes, cantiques ou chansons nationales; plusieurs traits de l'Histoire sainte, et de l'histoire de la Suisse. Quelques-uns d'entr'eux sont exercés à rendre compte de ce qu'ils ont lû et entendu, et en entretiennent les autres.

La gymnastique trouve aussi sa place dans leur éducation. La course, le saut, la natation, les équilibres, se succèdent dans les intervalles du travail; on les accoutume à grimper lestement sur les arbres, à faire des exercices militaires, et à marcher ensemble d'un pas réglé en chantant des airs nationaux. Rien n'égale leur gaîté dans les jeux. Après avoir travaillé aux champs tout le jour, ils retrouvent leurs forces et leur agilité sur l'esplanade qui les rassemble le soir, et dans leurs bruyans ébats, lorsqu'abandonnés à eux-mêmes en toute liberté, ils se livrent à leur naturel, et parlent le langage propre à leur âge, ces mêmes enfans, dont plusieurs, en arrivant à Hofwyl, ne pouvoient pas dire une phrase sans y joindre des juremens, ne prononcent pas un mot qui soit répréhensible: tant l'exemple, et la régle les ont modifiés !' Lettre, p. 22-25..

The testimony borne to Mr Fellenberg's success in this truly enlightened and benevolent attempt, by the state of his accounts, is, if possible, more decisive, and may perhaps convince many whom no other evidence will influence. He shows his books freely to all visitors; to whom, indeed, every part of the esta

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

blishment is open at all times. Mr C. Pictet has given the result for the year 1810, the last for which the balance was made out he visited Hofwyl. The farm then yielded a clear gain of four per cent. upon the price of the land, reckoned at 621. the acre, together with 24 per cent. upon the capital employed in cultivation. Mr Brougham states the profits, on an average of four years ending 1814, to have been above four pounds an acre, including the interest of the purchase-money paid for the land. The profits upon the cattle are kept out of this account; and also those which Mr Fellenberg derives from the dealing in horses, a source of considerable gain to him; for he generally sells them at an advance of six or seven pounds, after keeping and using them from the age of three to six.

The general opinion entertained of the plan is the last evidence of its success to which we shall resort. At first, all the neighbourhood, and particularly the Bernese government and grandees, regarded Mr Fellenberg as an enthusiast and a visionary, whose schemes would lead to his certain ruin. They began afterwards to change the mode of attack, when they saw those schemes succeeding;-they described him as a money-making person, and one who, under the appearance of benevolence, carried on plans of avarice. They generally considered the Academy as a peculiar source of profit; but, from what has been already stated, the reader may have perceived that this branch of the Establishment can do nothing more than bear its own expenses; and that, if the farming operations do not perform the rest, the whole must be in arrear. Yet every one admits that the design has in fact succeeded; that the land has been greatly improved; that marshes have been drained, and fine crops made to grow, where weeds only were seen before; that the poor labourers are bettered in condition, habits and acquirements; that everything goes on with the appearance of a flourishing and an improving concern, and that no debts are contracted, nor any difficulties of a pecuniary nature experienced. The Government have given no manner of assistance, not even countenance, to Mr Fellenberg hardly protection. The patricians accuse him of lowering the dignity of their order, by leading what they term a vie pedagogique -that is, by devoting himself to the most dignified and virtuous of human pursuits, the propagation of virtue and communication of knowledge, instead of poring over a long pedigree of ancestors with cramp names, known at Berne and nowhere clse,-or moving up and down the streets of that ancient and noble town, adorned with a stiff tail, and impeded by a long sword. Every discouragement is given to him by the constituted authorities; the VOL. XXXI. No. 61.

L

existence of his Institution is studiously concealed in the journals devoted to Government, as they all are in that free State. Not even the common notice of an arrival is allowed to be inserted, if the traveller is come to visit Hofwyl, although every such incident is sedulously chronicled, if the stranger only comes to see Berne, or to pass through it; and, upon one occasion, an open and direct interference of power was used to thwart this philanthropic person's most admirable plan of improving the condition, generally, of his native country. He had observed the want of sufficient knowledge, which deprived most Swiss schoolmasters of the means of usefulness. He had therefore bethought him of a compendious method by which this defect might be supplied. It was by assembling at Hofwyl all the teachers of the canton, and maintaining and instructing them during the three months of their holidays. Being men of industrious habits, and eagerly bent upon improving themselves, they made great progress; and, on their return home, they did not fail to pursue their studies with additional advantage, after the lights received at Hofwyl. The next summer Mr Fellenberg invited them to return; but the Bernese government, strangely and unaccountably, chose to take umbrage at this assemblage, and issued a decree to prohibit any schoolmaster from resorting thither. This signal folly was fortunate in its effects for the neighbouring cantons; they encouraged their teachers to avail themselves of Mr F.'s invitation; and he thus had the opportunity of spreading a better system of education for all ranks through many parts of Switzerland. It is only rendering justice to the liberality and acuteness of the literary circles in Geneva, to add, that he has, from the first, been warmly encouraged by their applause; and that some of their most distinguished members have uniformly exerted themselves, strenuously to promote the success of his benevolent designs. We need only mention M. de Bonstetten, in addition to the able and enlightened author of the works now before us.

The connexion between the seminary for the poor and the academy for the upper classes, has already been mentioned generally. It consists in the pains constantly taken to inculcate upon each their relative duties towards the other. The pupils of the academy, whatever be their rank or wealth, are sedulously taught, that their first duty is to use the means which Providence has placed at their disposal, in a way likely to prove beneficial to the less fortunate members of the community. Indiscriminate charity, almsgiving, endowing hospitals, bestowing pensions, and the various other modes of benevolence which are So praiseworthy in their origin and so hurtful in their tendency,

[ocr errors]

Mr Fellenberg by no means recommends. A charity founded on rational principles, as well as proceeding from amiable feelings, is alone patronized and exemplified at Hofwyl. The real good of the poor is consulted, and not their temporary relief; the task of maintaining them, or teaching them to obtain a maintenance by industry and frugality, is prescribed to the rich, and not the momentary gratification of compassionate feelings. This charity may truly be said to bless the giver as well as the receiver; it requires only his care and attention, without diminishing his resources; and the objects of it are rendered valuable to the community, happy in themselves, and grateful to benefactors, who have made them at once industrious and independent. The poor children live quite separate from the rich; but they are daily seen by them; and the progress of their improvement and their labour is noted. The method of reclaiming and of training them is taught; and unquestionably few of Mr Fellenberg's wealthier pupils will be likely to leave his Institution, without having imbibed a strong desire to carry its principles into operation in their own country.

We cannot help expressing our earnest wish that some more practical and minute knowledge of the system were obtained by our own countrymen than any which can be gleaned from such general descriptions as books afford. The translation of some of the works of which we have prefixed the titles to this article, would be of use; and we are not without hopes, that the statements in the foregoing pages may call to the subject the attention of the public. But much remains to be learnt, after all that books can tell, of methods necessarily consisting in minute details. These can only be well understood, so as to e transferred and adopted here, by being studied daily upon the spot. For example, the admirable system of economy which prevails, and enables Mr Fellenberg to do so much with such limited means, resolves itself into an endless variety of expedients; each trifling, when viewed separately, but all of which, taken together, constitute the method required. In like manner, the plan pursued for reforming and training the poor children, consists of various processes and methods of treatment, which can only be learnt by actually seeing their operation. The pupils from Germany are sure to carry a practical knowledge of these matters into their own country; and if the system is only adopted in one instance, that knowledge will soon spread in proportion to its manifest usefulness. It is much to be wished that some of our countrymen, whose public spirit is proportioned to their means of serving the community, would devote a season or twą

of recreation from other employments, to the important and not uninteresting business of visiting Hofwyl. It appears, from Mr Brougham's evidence, that they would be most cordially welcomed by Mr Fellenberg, who offered him every accommodation, when he intended to remain there a few weeks, for the purpose of studying the system minutely. A residence, however, of five or six months, would be necessary thoroughly to understand all the details; and the sending two or three young persons to the academy, would probably be the best means of importing a knowledge of all Mr Fellenberg's improvements into this country. Such an experiment would, at all events, be safe as well as easy. If it led to no practical results in favour of the poor, or the agriculture of this nation, it would be attended with no risk nor expense to the individuals. The boys would receive, perhaps, one of the best educations that Europe affords, at a very moderate price; and the strictest regard would be paid both to their health and their morals. There is much difficulty, however, in obtaining admission for pupils; and Mr B. mentions a journey undertaken, while he was in Switzerland, by the present King and Queen of Wirtemberg, chiefly for the purpose of prevailing upon Mr Fellenberg to take one more youth from Germany, a young person of the highest rank, under his care. But it is to be expected that he may be induced to receive one or two Euglish pupils, of whom he has hitherto had none, in the hopes of extending to this country the knowledge of those principles, the success of which he naturally feels a very warm anxiety to promote. We may add, that as German appears to be the language spoken in the Establishment generally, any person resorting thither only for a few months, to examine the methods used, will do well to make himself master of it first but if boys are sent over, they will of course very soon learn it sufficiently to follow the routine of instruction.

In this article we have given our opinion as it really is, very much in favour of the principles upon which Mr Fellenberg proceeds. We deem them to be just and rational in themselves;and in their application, we perceive, by the evidence of facts, that they have been practically successful. At the same time, we by no means intend to assert, that an attempt should all at once be made to carry them into effect upon a large scale; especially in populous, and, above all, in manufacturing and commercial districts, where their adoption must needs be limited, by various circumstances that do not enter into the calculations at Hofwyl.

Formerly Grand Dutchess of Oldenberg, and sister of the Em peror Alexander.

« PreviousContinue »