chapter  3
6 Pages

The Years of Inaction

The failure of Pestalozzi's enterprise resulted in virtually all confidence being lost in him; those who had previously supported him now 'completely and blindly rejected even the smallest shadow of respect for my aims and for my capacity to achieve a single part of them'. 1 Pestalozzi became conscious that even his friends avoided him in the street in order to escape the embarrassment of expressing sympathy which would be of no help, and one friend told him that it was generally felt that he would end his days in a hospital or a lunatic asylum. Pestalozzi, however, remained sure of himself: 'My conviction that basically my aims were correct was never stronger than at that point in time when they were outwardly a complete failure.' 2 His ideals, unfortunately, could not feed his family, and so, reluctantly, he turned to writing as a means of earning his living. He did so 'in the same spirit as I would have combed wigs had I thereby been able to help and comfort my wife and child'.J Yet with whatever reluctance he might have taken up writing, he soon found that the activity was one which came easily enough to him. Remaining at the N euhof, he began to note down his reflections on a few general themes which were close to his heart. Beginning with the question, 'man, in his essence, what is he?', Pestalozzi turned his thoughts to the relationship of God and man, and man and nature. The issues in life which concerned Pestalozzi were already emerging; his writing was sincere and enthusiastic, but his thoughts loosely put together. The work which thus emerged, he entitled The Evening Hour of a Hermit, and, thanks to an editor friend, Isaac Iselin, he managed to have it published in a periodical in 1780.