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Penelope&apos;s Postscripts
Kate Wiggin

MDCCCXC

On a second side these words are carved in the stone:—

Sauveur des Pauvres à Neuhof

Père des Orphelins à Stanz

Fondateur de l’école

populaire à Burgdorf

Éducateur de l’humanité

à Yverdon

Tout pour les autres, pour lui,—rien!

An older monument erected in 1846 by the Canton of Argovia bears this same inscription, save that it adds, “Preacher to the people in ‘Leonard and Gertrude.’  Man.  Christian.  Citizen.  Blessed be his name!”

On the third side of the Yverdon Monument is Pestalozzi’s noble speech, fine enough indeed, to be cut in stone:—

“J’ai vécu moi-même

comme un mendiant,

pour apprendre à des

mendiants à vivre comme

des hommes.”

We sat a long time on the great marble pedestal, gazing into the benevolent face, and reviewing the simple, self-sacrificing life of the great educator, and then started on a tour of inspection.  After wandering through most of the shops, buying photographs and mementoes, Salemina discovered that she had left the expensive tumbler in one of them.  After a long discussion as to whether tumbler was masculine or feminine, and as to whether “Ai-je laissé un verre ici?” or “Est-ce que j’ai laissé un verre ici?” was the proper query, we retraced our steps, Salemina asking in one shop, “Excusez-moi, je vous prie, mais ai-je laissé un verre ici?”,—and I in the next, “Je demands pardon, Madame, est-ce que j’ai laissé un verre dans ce magasin-ci?—J’en ai perdu un, somewhere.”  Finally we found it, and in response not to mine but to Salemina’s question, so that she was superior and obnoxious for several minutes.

Our next point of interest was the old castle, which is still a public school.  Finding the caretaker, we visited first the museum and library—a small collection of curiosities, books, and mementoes, various portraits of Pestalozzi and his wife, manuscripts and so forth.  The simple-hearted woman who did the honours was quite overcome by our knowledge of and interest in her pedagogical hero, but she did not return the compliment.  I asked her if the townspeople knew about Friedrich Froebel, but she looked blank.

“Froebel?  Froebel?” she asked; “qui est-ce?”

“Mais, Madame,” I said eloquently, “c’était un grand homme!  Un héros!  Le plus grand élève de Pestalozzi!  Aussi grand que Pestalozzi soi-même!”

(“Plus grand!  Why don’t you say plus grand?” murmured Salemina loyally.)

“Je ne sais!” she returned, with an indifferent shrug of the shoulders.  “Je ne sais!  Il y a des autres, je crois; mais moi, je connais Pestalozzi, c’est assez!”

All the younger children had gone home, but she took us through the empty schoolrooms, which were anything but attractive.  We found an unhappy small boy locked in one of them.  I slipped behind the concierge to chat with him, for he was so exactly like all other small boys in disgrace that he made me homesick.

“Tu étais méchant, n’est ce-pas?” I whispered consolingly; “mais tu seras sage demain, j’en suis sûre!”

I thought this very pretty, but he wriggled from under my benevolent hand, saying “Va!” (which I took to be, “Go ’long, you!”) “je n’étais méchant aujourd’hui et je ne serai pas sage demain!”

I asked the concierge if the general methods of Pestalozzi were still used in the schools of Yverdon, “Mais certainement!” she replied as we went into a room where twenty to thirty girls of ten years were studying.  There were three pleasant windows looking out into the street; the ordinary platform and ordinary teacher’s table, with the ordinary teacher (in an extraordinary state of coma) behind it; and rather rude desks and seats for the children, but not a single ornament, picture, map, or case of objects and specimens around the room.  The children were nice, clean, pleasant, stolid little things with braided hair and pinafores.  The sole decoration of the apartment was a highly-coloured chart that we had noticed on the walls of all the other schoolrooms.  Feeling that this must be a sacred relic, and that it probably illustrated some of the Pestalozzian foundation principles, I walked up to it reverently,

“Qu’est-ce-que c’est cela, Madame?” I inquired, rather puzzled by its appearance.

“C’est la méthode de Pestalozzi,” the teacher replied absently.

I wished that we kindergarten people could get Froebel’s educational idea in such a snug, portable shape, and drew nearer to gaze at it.  I can give you a very complete description of the pictures from memory, as I copied the titles verbatim et literatim.  The whole chart was a powerful moral object-lesson on the dangers of incendiarism and the evils of reckless disobedience.  It was printed appropriately in the most lurid colours, and divided into nine tableaux.

These were named as follows:—

I—La Vraie Gaîté

Twelve or fifteen boys and girls are playing together so happily and innocently that their good angels sing for joy.

II—Une Proposition Fatale!

Suddenly “le petit Charles” says to his comrades, “Come! let us build a fire!”  Le petit Charles is a typical infant villain and is surrounded at once by other incendiary spirits all in accord with his insidious plans.

III—La Protestation

The Good Little Marie, a Sunday-school heroine of the true type, approaches the group and, gazing heavenward, remarks that it is wicked to play with matches.  The G. L. M. is of saintly presence,—so clean and well groomed that you feel inclined to push her into a puddle.  Her hands are not full of vulgar toys and sweetmeats, like those of the other children, but are extended graciously as if she were in the habit of pronouncing benedictions.

IV—Insouciance!

Le petit Charles puts his evil little paw in his dangerous pockets and draws out a wicked lucifer match, saying with abominable indifference, “Bah! what do we care?  We’re going to build a fire, whatever you say.  Come on, boys!”

V—Un Plaisir Dangereux!

The boys “come on.”  Led by “le petit vilain Charles” they light a dangerous little fire in a dangerous little spot.  Their faces shine with unbridled glee.  The G. L. M. retires to a distance with a few saintly followers, meditating whether she shall run and tell her mother.  “Le petit Paul,” an infant of three summers, draws near the fire, attracted by the cheerful blaze.

VI—Malheur et Inexpérience

Le petit Paul somehow or other tumbles into the fire.  Nothing but a desire to influence posterity as an awful example could have induced him to take this unnecessary step, but having walked in he stays in, like an infant John Rogers.  The bad boys are so horror-stricken it does not occur to them to pull him out, and the G. L. M. is weeping over the sin of the world.

VII—Trop Tard!!

The male parent of le petit Paul is seen rushing down an adjacent Alp.  He leads a flock of frightened villagers who have seen the smoke and heard the wails of their offspring.  As the last shred of le petit Paul has vanished in said smoke, the observer notes that the poor father is indeed “too late.”

VIII—Desespoir!!

The despair of all concerned would draw tears from the dryest eye.  Only one person wears a serene expression, and that is the G. L. M., who is evidently thinking: “Perhaps they will listen to me the next time.”

IX—La Fin!

The charred remains of le petit Paul are being carried to the cemetery.  The G. L. M. heads the procession in a white veil.  In a prominent place among the mourners is “le pauvre petit Charles,” so bowed with grief and remorse that he can scarcely be recognized.

It was a telling sermon!  If I had been a child I should never have looked at a match again; and old as I was, I could not, for days afterwards, regard a box of them without a shudder.  I thought that probably Yverdon had been visited in the olden time by a series of disastrous holocausts, all set by small boys, and that this was the powerful antidote presented; so I asked the teacher whether incendiarism was a popular failing in that vicinity and whether the chart was one of a series inculcating various moral lessons.  I don’t know whether she understood me or not, but she said no, it was “la méthode de Pestalozzi.”

Just at this juncture she left the room, apparently to give the pupils a brief study-period, and simultaneously the concierge was called downstairs by a crying baby.  A bright idea occurred to me and I went hurriedly into the corridor where my friend was taking notes.

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