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Ottilie de Liagre

Letters to the Friend of Children and Humanity

Hamburg, June 1844

Dear Sir,

I also was obligated to put off answering your letter for so long, because of circumstances. I received it exactly as my husband was to travel to the Fair in Leipzig. I did not want to answer until I knew whether Mr. Pahn or Mr. Kroeger wanted to see or have the box. After my husband returned from Leipzig, his time was so compromised with business and friends that he could not search for the gentlemen, especially as they live way out in the country beyond a city gate other than ours.

I am very thankful to you for the various games and songs. I must thank you for the box, but I really do not have the place to set it up adequately. Honestly said, I find the drawings are sufficient. Thus when I have the opportunity to see the men, I will show then this one. Should they not keep it, I will send it to Bergedorf to the enclosed address, which is easy to do by train.

I would like the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Gifts for a female friend of mine, as well as both sets of push-pin punch out booklets. I still do not have an order for the songs as I have not yet read them. I would like to use the games in the coming winter. Please include the crystal forms which you indicate are now ready. I would appreciate it.

Your publication MUTTER, KOSE- und SPIELLIEDER was just sent to the same friend by a bookdealer. I would like to see it. Is it all the same to you if I order it directly from you or a bookdealer? I have tried with the best of my ability to distribute the pamphlets you sent me, although I still have a few, because my circle of acquaintances is rather small here.

Now, dear sir, I must answer one part of you letter. Do not hope to see an institute of the stature of yours to bloom here in Hamburg through my auspices. First of all, my time is too limited, because I instruct my children to a great extent myself and must dedicate myself to my own studies. The kindergarten should be in my house, but I can do little for Hamburg.

There are already four pre-schools (Warteschulen), and you know from your own experience that it is just as easy to start something new as to renew something already established. There is too much acceptance to transform. I do not have the courage or the strength to do it. In my opinion, the Zeitgeist will bring itself about by itself, something I do not dare to undertake.

My husband remarked on something in relation to Catholic children, because he is a director (elder) of the church. But that seems far off to me, as I do not know the other elders well enough to ascertain whether they recognize the value of such an appropriate idea as yours. One, I would add, that is the cornerstone of your institution.

Precisely as I so highly regard your Idea, I refrain from speaking of it when I do not know what kind of a reception I can expect. For if it is embraced with inadequate maturity, it is then not truly understood and carried out. If it is executed without its life-giving spirit, it then becomes as a pearl thrown before swine, as people can degrade it into a mechanical routine. Such a thing is deadly. Your Method should empower children to be lively and free. I should not like to say that this maturity or point of view cannot be found in Hamburg, only that I am unaware of it and do not know where to find it. Also my patriotism for Hamburg is lacking.

I am now sending you 3 Reichstaler,and believe that my bill is 2 Reichstaler, 3 Groschen, and 6 Pfennige. Please apply the rest to the Crystal Forms.

July 24. You can see that this letter has become old, but I could not find the gentlemen nor learn anything of them. I can tell you, though, that Dr. Kroeger will, indeed, see the box soon. So I shall retain it, until I learn something of the two men. I will then know something regarding your offer. I close today with the request to pardon me and to send the goods I am ordering directly to Leipzig to my brother Mr. Reinhard Küstner. I ask this as my husband will be attending the Michaelmas Fair there and can easily bring them home. If Mr. Middendorf, Mr. Kohl, and Mr. Ausfeld still remember me, please send them my regards. I always remember Keilhau and Blankenburg often and with a warm heart.

Yours most sincerely,

P.S. If you can, please send me a blue ball instead of a yellow one. Make it two. I already have two yellow ones and can then interchange them.

translated by Johannes Froebel-Parker, from the German "Mein Lieber Herr Froebel!, Briefe an der Kinder und Menschenfreund"

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