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7 corrections, most recently by doug.butler - Show corrections

M. Fellenberg's Establishment at Hofwyl,

in Switzerland.  

(Abridged from Mr. Macgregor's Note Book.)

" The most prolific source of crime,   sedition, and the bloodshed on scaffolds, is the false education of the people.

" Labour is the great moraliser of man, and rural labour has this particular advantage,that the property which it acquires, inspires a respect for the rights

of others."

These, (translated from hia own language,) are the maxims of Emanuel Von Fellenberg :-not of a demagogue, but of a nobleman, and who, if he were not, would with his soul have been noble, although

born the son of u peasant.

Hofwyl, the scene of M. Von Fellenberg's phi-   lanthropic experiment, is within less than one hour's brisk ride of Berne. It is one of the most interest- ing scenes of intelligent industry in the world, situated in one of the most beautifully rural spots in Europe. The buildings are chiefly on the brow a hill, the Jura chain s sheltering them from the

northern blasts. The inferior mountains extend to   the east, and the eternally snow-clad Alps appear   beyond them in the distance. On one side lies the   water nf the Buchsee, a clear pictuuresque stream on the other rises and extends the wood of Grau-  

bois. Such is the situation of Hofwl, the seat of the patrimonial family of Fellenberg, and of its   present representative, to whom the property and     that of Meincheen-bu'cbee adjacent belongs.  

M Von Fellenberg had early in life remarked the extreme profligacy of the poor in the Swiss Cantons, and the moral superiority of those who, like the

pastoral people of ihe Alps, live comparatively     independent in their means- while pauper children, especially in the towns, were invariably brought up     in ignorance and vice. He was by constant and   vigilant observation led to the conclusion that the most effectual way to make people belter, was to make them comfortable. That morality and comfort         through life are to be most effectually secured by bringing up children from early years in habits of   industry , and, at the same time, that the best education for them was to cultivate their minds with   a view to virtuous conduct, and to useful purposes. With this philanthropic object steadily in view, the     excellent Von Fellenberg commenced the rudiments of his plan for educating pauper children. The great     principle of his plan-useful and intelligent labour   - was grounded on the fact, that the greatest     portion of mankind must live by labour, and conse     quently that those who are habituated to labour from childhood, are the happiest of the working classes. He began by essaying what could be done with one poor orphan. He then appropriated two large farms, the one as a practical ferme modele, the other to the   purposes of new experiments in agriculture. The     children taken, after the first successful experiment     were chiefly from the mendicant poor of Berne who   led a life not dissimilar to that of gipsies. The princi-    

ple first attended to, was to treat the children with uniform kindness, and as rational beings, by which means their affections and confidence were won and   secured. M Von Fellenburg observing that, in case

of misconduct, an unsatisfactory reason was always  

uttered with confusion of manner, took advantage of      

this natural sjstem of misconduct and established the       rule of asking the children to give reasons for what   they did ; this became in practice an excellent regu   lator of conduct. He laid down also as a second   principle that no humiliating chastisements should be   inflicted and that none of the ordinary means of en   couragement should be adopted-that there should be neither high nor low in the classes - no prizes -no medals -no whippings-increasing the task during the hours allotted tor recreation forming the sole   punishmient. The children are allowed to justify       themselves with perfect liberty of speech, and are heard with patienee, and reproved with tenderness of   language that produces gratitude, allays angry feelings, and prevents the deceit which severity engenders.

M. Von Fellenberg's plan embraces the uniting with useful labour, those amusements which unbend the minds, and gladden the hearts of youth, to unite liberty with established rules of property and order, and to prepare all for their avocation through after life, and for their intercourse with the world, in     whatever sphere they may be employed. In cases of misconduct pointing out calmly to a child its errors in private, is admirably conceived. The early feelings of tenderness are thus not wounded, the angry temper s not irritated, the child is not excited to centradic-  

* Not meant io extend lo assumed or despotic rights, but respect for person and property.

* A man may be industrious with little intelli-  

gence. He who makes only one part of a watch, or of a steam engine, probably understands nothing of the principles of machinery. At Hofwyl, the object is to teach the scholars to depend on tbeir own

ingenuity aud knowledge as agricltrists, that   they may mend or make the wooden work, if not   the iron work, of a plough, harrow, or rake, if   necessary.  

inn by the vanity of appearing in spirited opposition     in presence of us schoolfellows , silent reproof im-  

presses deep self-regret and virtuous conviction, while open degradation renders the feelings callous and   gives birth to artful inventions to deceive the master   and school-fellows of the delinquent. M. Von Fel-

lenberg's triumphant success for thirty-four years, on   his own responsibility, and for a long time opposed by   the advocates of established practices, proves also that his maxim is much better, to rid a school of an unnclaimable boy, rather than enforce a system ol public castigation.

These principles comprise the leading rules of the       plan on which M. Von Fellenberg commenced, and which he has put in practice with such eminent     honour to himself and such benefit to his fellow-crea-

tures. Few men, however, have encountered more malicious opposition. To annihilate his reputation, he was designated an underminer of order, of established   customs,and of religion-a mad enthusiast an ambi-    

tious character, who, with a view to power, aimed at political distinction - these were the epithets bestowed on him by the aristocrats of his country. He, how ever, persevered : the good cause prevailed - he ex- tended his plan, and then established a normal school  

but the worthy oligarchs of Berne passed a law for   its suppression. The people were roused in conse-   quence ; the law was rescinded, leaving, however,

the nomination of the director of the school to the Go

vernment, whose tool he became and exercised his      

functions so designedly improper, that he has been expelled.  

I did not see M. Von Fellenberg-he was for the moment absent-but all the information I required was communicated to me , every arrangement ex-   plained, every operation and experiment pointed out and elucidated by the superintendents or teachers. T'o the two farms are attached workshops for making all kinds of agricltural implements on the most ap-   proved models, and an admirable institution which is devoted to the theory and practice of agriculture.   Here also is a museum in which plants are classified     according to their utility, but scientifically, but with       their stalks roots, leaves flowers, and seeds, also specimens of most kinds ol wood, and of birds, rep- tiles, quadrupeds, &c., prepared by the boys. These     collactions afford at once instruction and amusement.

The winter evenings are spent in this room by the poor   children with their master, the good Werhli, and on   Sundays after divine service they go forth to the hills   and woods in search of whatever may enrich their

museum.

One hundred pauper boys, and the same number of pauper girls are wholesomely fed and warmly clad at       the expense of Von Fellenberg. They cultivate the largest farm to remunerate him in some degree for their maintenance and instruction ; and their parents,   or those who have had them in charge agree that they shall remain until the age of maturity, by which ar- rangement they acquire the habit of sober industry, and understand how to appreciate the value of labour be- fore they leave Hofwyl to begin the world on their own responsibility. About ten hours in sumner are spent in labour and in agricultural instruction in the fields , and one hour, (a short time it is true, but sufficient,) is devoted to school instruction, which includes, not only reading, writing, and calculation, according to the system of Pestalozzi, but also a knowledge of plants aimals, earths, chemical phenomena, etc In bad weather, they work within doors: ihe boys are √≠nstructed by carpenters, joiners, and blacksmiths, in making   various articles useful in cottages, and on farms , the girls in knitting, carding, spinning, plating  

straw, etc.

Their assiduously vigilant and kind head-master,   Weibli, under the special direction of Von Fellen- berg, keeps a journai of all that regards each child, from the moment of admission noting its natural   disposition, character, religious moral, and intellec-       tual progress and its application to labour  

To develop and maintain a spirit ot cheerfulness with active alertness is an object of the first   consideration with Werhli. He never speaks to   them but smilingly, and in tenderly kind expres-  

sions. He works, be sleeps, he converses, and sings       with them. Labour and order thus wisely perse- vered in, overcomes all the moral obstacles of     perverse, early habits; such has been the effect of this admirable plan, that the children of the most vagabond beggars, collected here and there from the   abodes of misery, are trained and reclaimed without   the least occasion for corporal ohastisement  

Besides the establishment for the children, there is an agricultural school in theory and practice for   boys of the middle and higher classes : these   scholers receive a superior education, in mechanics,   naturel history , and agriculture, on a principle of utility, in which art, science, and literary education      

are combined. The trades useful in connexion with  

agriculture, the German, English, French, and Italian languages, are taught ; and also music,   natural history, gymnastio exercises, the use of fire-arms, and the bow and arrow, to lend cheerful amusement to the more solid studies.  

'The normal school,or school tor preparing village schoolmasters, is, perhaps, in extensive usefulness equal, it not superier to either of the others : the masters taught there have now (1834) more than   eight thousand children under their care in various parts of Switzerland.

In all its divisions of instruction and labour, Hofwyl if not perfection, has tbe aspect of greater harmony than any institution that I have had the fortune to know. Here are children of various christian denominations, yet religion creates no dissensions. The worship of God is taught by the respective clergymen, chiefly by tracing the benefi- cence of the deity in his works, and by prayers of adoration anti thanksgiving, wiib hymns and patriotic songs. Vocal and Instrmental music are taught   with equal liberality. The great end of M Von Fellenberg is to render mankind useful and happy - his name will descend to posterity not as the   patrician, but as the great patriarchial schoolmaster, with more honour and renown than that of any oligarch or conqueror.

* M. Von Fellenberg's sister has the girls under her special charge, taught by competent matrons*.

* There are about twenty English boys, besides Swedes, Russians, and Germans in this sohool.    

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