« AnteriorContinua »
if he be but humble enough to lay before it his own errors and his own miseries, it will dash to the ground, in him and through him, all the errors and miseries of the world around, and open to his view the prospect of that perfect order and harmony, wherein the complaining voice of rebellion and selfishness is no more heard. To an aim so lofty, so generous as this, neither a ready nor a general echo could be expected. It is sufficient, however, to know, that seeds were thus scattered, which afterwards sprung up in divers places; or, to use a more appropriate figure, an atmosphere was thus produced, favorable to the awakening in man of that Divine Spirit which so long had slept.
The incidents pertaining to a life so devoted cannot vary materially from each other. Where there is not a vulgar ambition for power or fame, a love of wealth or desire for martyrdom, even the ordinary intuitions of the love-spirit, how faint soever they are, by human clamor, allowed to be, will preserve an individual of great endowments from those actions, which hitherto have claimed the larger share of the historical reader's attention. The peace of heart and soul, which surpasseth all understanding, is not of a kind to thrust individuals into those predicaments, in which an eminence of doubtful renown is achieved at the cost of permanent virtue. This peacefulness was at all events too conscious and too copious in Mr. Greaves, to permit him to wander for one moment from the peaceful and peacemaking path. Few outward varieties therefore shall we be able to remark in his career. In all countries, at all times, amongst all people, there is almost the same difficulty in obtaining from the greater number admission for expression of the highest truth, when it is urged to conforming action, as there is a ready recipiency by the few. Accordingly it was generally Mr. Greaves's fate to be vehemently opposed, or most cordially beloved. So decided a mind could not possibly stand in neutral relationship to any. The power and practice of penetrating, through all films of words and sophistications of logic, to the very centre of thought and will, cannot, under any circumstances, fail of such results.
When at the universities of Basle and Tubingen, in the course of his German tour, in or about the year 1822, he undertook to give to such students as might feel disposed
to accept them, lessons in the English language, his almost entire ignorance of the German tongue did not frustrate, nor for one moment obstruct this design. At the former place he is, from his own verbal report, understood to have collected around him about fifty young men, amongst whom was the since celebrated Strauss, and other eminent minds, who have never forgotten the animating questions to which he called upon them to reply. For his method did not consist in the tiresome and almost vain effort to load upon the memory the equivalent word in another language, for the things or facts already known in our own, but first to awaken or develop the idea in the mind, and then let the idea take up or expand itself into the suitable expression. His interrogations, therefore, were not calculated to draw forth answers from his pupils which they could adopt, on mechanical principles, from their printed grammars and wordbooks. Nor were they limited to the physical substances present before their outward eyes, which he used as introductions and illustrations to those psychical facts it was his aim to open to their own interior consciousThe facts of and in their own life, the very law in their being, it was his aim to render evident to them, and language as the highest, or one of the highest, expressional modes, was merely the avenue to this greater end.
The vivacity, the interest, the love for the teacher and the pursuit, manifested in this class, as contrasted with the heavy and method-bound systems of formal teaching, could not fail to draw the attention of the authorities; and inquiries were privately made by the timorous government, and we believe were, in the first instance, or as far as the scholastic professors were concerned, satisfactorily answered. Although the practitioners in any art are not usually those who introduce new improvements into it, yet at least they are not unfrequently passive or friendly to progressive movements when adventured by others. But a fixed order, in which the highest good is conceived to be the rigid maintenance of everything as it exists, is not able to tolerate inquiry, much less innovation. In this instance it was felt, that the newly animated seed was too certain to expand; throughout Germany there were then too many soul-stirring elements in the moral atmosphere to permit another and a better to be added; and the man of
peace and love was advised to withdraw to some more accepting sphere.
While the external events in such a career are scanty, the internal experience is as eminently abundant. There are individuals who can travel round the world, encountering many things and really seeing nothing, and some who, remaining geographically unmoved, become acquainted with all things. There is a France, a Germany, a Rome, an India in the soul, which must be intravelled and introspected. At this period there was not perhaps a mental position in which one could be placed for this mental voyage better than Pestalozzi's establishment. Not because there were to be found there pupils or observers from every country in Europe, but because the congregation of free minds in a pure and noble purpose generates a state of things outward and inward, a physical order and a moral atmosphere which no where and no how can be constituted by a solitary one, though the most potent measure of love be his.
The intercourse between Pestalozzi and Greaves, we have before remarked, was not by means of that ofttimes equivocal instrument the tongue. The latter was wont to describe it by the term magnetic, as being above all ordinary influences by sympathy or talent. Indeed, Pestalozzi's whole life and conduct, at this period, was of this high character. He would salute Mr. Greaves each morning, as is somewhat customary in the country, by a kiss, and he not only felt but declared that of all the persons, either native or foreign, who came to witness his proceedings, none understood them so well, none appreciated him so truly as Greaves. It may not be too much to say that the latter was the more profound.
Pestalozzi's absence of mind, (for so, in default of better and affirmative terms, the super-sensuous life must be spoken of,) has frequently been reported. Mr. Greaves was scarcely more attentive to outward things; but as it fell to him to be the exponent, as far as words can accomplish it, of Pestalozzi's principles, to all the Englishmen who came to the establishment, he had frequently to explain, as best he could, the reason why the leader was so very negligent in dress and the usual external proprieties. So difficult was it, however, to withdraw his attention from deeper things, 37
that Mr. Greaves was obliged to take away his old garments in the night, replacing them by the new that he would not submit to be measured for, and, when he discovered his strange metamorphosis, he allowed Mr. Greaves to complete it by cutting his hair. The friendship cementing these two men was not such as the world commonly witnesses, and was equally grateful and encouraging for both.
While the spirit which united these men prevailed at Yverdun, the place was truly a university, for the universe spirit ruled them, and that only can constitute a university. This spirit continually and fervently actuating the leader, others, approximating to that state, were, by a law in their nature, attracted around him, and thus a comparatively large circle was collected, to be in which can alone induce any idea of such life. Mr. Greaves was too intent in the work of creating this new world, to engage in the business of making a written record of it; and, therefore, we shall in vain expect from his pen any notes concerning its progress. This, however, is scarcely to be considered a loss, as even by the acutest observer they could scarcely be rendered into language intelligible to the inexperienced reader.
Several attempts have since been made to constitute a collective association, not on the principle of common interests, but on that of unity or oneness in spirit, and just as far as the latter prevailed, and there was an acknowledgment of the highest, in all actions and details, a remarkable spiritual success has attended them, though small may be the gratulation in the pecuniary aspect. One of the latest acts of Mr. Greaves's life was the aiding in the foundation of such a point at Ham, a few miles from London. If, in some respects, it aimed at less than Pestalozzi accomplished or had in view, in other respects, it aimed at more. It was smaller in extent, but it was larger in intent. It was inferior in numbers, but it was superior in practice. It comprehended more points of being, for it was desired to include all being. This establishment, therefore, if an eyewitness and a heart-witness may affirm, offered another opportunity for an experience of that estate of life which ever distinguished Pestalozzi's circle. To very many it has confessedly been the means of opening the mind to an interior life, not previously imagined, nay stoutly denied. To both children and adults it was the bright green spot
in the wilderness of the world: and parents who searched Europe for a successor to Pestalozzi, disappointed everywhere else, fixed on it as the nearest approximation to their idea. Its disciplines in respect to diet appeared to the thoughtless as unnecessarily rigid: its mental lessons, on the other hand, seemed to the learned, far too desultory; but where a due regard was held for the moral purpose, which underlay this order or this freedom, the means were acknowledged to be harmoniously subservient. Its observers have been many; its inmates not a few, for either longer or shorter periods; and, perhaps, it may fairly be stated, that none quitted it without such beneficial results and memorable sensations, as will remain permanent. For so humble an effort, perhaps, there never was an instance of such deep human results.
This educative endeavor was partly modified by some improvements, in America, in the treatment of children, successful in those particulars to which they were applied. Miss Martineau, on her return from the United States, introduced the printed works to Mr. Greaves's notice, namely, "Conversations with Children on the Gospel," by A. B. Alcott, and the "Record of a School," by the same. Hence the establishment at Ham was designated "Alcott-House School." It was Mr. Greaves's intention also, at a recent period, to have undertaken the voyage to Boston; but events did not, for want of more frequent written communication, arrive at that point.
For the purpose of preserving a unity of idea, we have joined two operations which were severed by many years and many miles. On the subject of the "Education Idea," we could, and in justice perhaps, ought to enlarge, in order to render justice to the memory of one so active in all its modes, and in constantly endeavoring to connect and reconnect them with the living principle. For, that " Idea" is still but lowly appreciated, and coldly felt, even in that tender seat to which it was so eloquently addressed, the maternal bosom. The high duty of recalling parents to the fact, that something more than the culture of the understanding is needful to the happiness of their offspring and of themselves, still presses on the benevolent mind. Neither can a schooling of the heart ever be bought of the best vicarious teacher, whom the parent may hire. No