BASEDOW (JoHN BERNARD), a celebrated German writer, born at Hamburgh, September 11, 1728, was the son of a hair-dresser. Ill treatment made him abandon his father's house. A physician, in a took him into his service, and shortly persuaded him to return home to his father. Being placed in one of the lower classes of the college of St John, the severity of his masters rendered him harsh and vio lent himself. Forced to submit to a slow and ri gorous method of study, he contracted a dislike to patience and regularity, which exercised a marked influence over the whole course of his life. Poor but intelligent, he often performed their tasks for his school-fellows, who could afford to pay for it ; and they, in return, invited him to their parties of plea.. sure, which contributed to those habits of irregulari ty, by which his health and reputation often suffered. In 174.4, Basedow went to Leipsic to study theology. He gave himself up entirely to the instructions of the professor, Crusius, and the study of philosophy. This, at first, made him sceptical in theology ; a more profound examination of the sacred writings, and of all that relates to them, brought him back to the Christian faith ; but, in his retirement, he formed his ' belief after his own ideas, and it was far from ortho dox. Having returned to Hamburgh, he lived there without any employment till 1749, when M. de Quaalen, privy-counsellor of Holstein, appointed him preceptor to his son. Basedow now began to apply himself to the subject of education. At first, he would not teach his pupil Latin otherwise than by talking with him in Latin ; and he wrote a dissertation on this subject, published at Kiel in 1751, In Imitate et optima honestioris Juventutis erudiendce Methodus. In 1758, he was chosen professor of moral philosophy and belles-lettres in the academy of Soroe, in Den mark. Here he published, in 1758, his Practical PAilosophy for all Conditions, in two volumes (Co penhagen and Leipsic, second edition, in 1777), which contained many good observations on educa tion in general, and on that of girls in particular ; but he advanced in it opinions by no means consist ent with Lutheran orthodoxy ; so that the Count Danneskiold, superintendant of the academy, took his place from him, and removed him to the school of exercises at Altona. Basedow still continued to devote himself to theological studies. In 1764, he • published his Philalethes, or New Considerations on the Truths of Religion and Reason, within the Limits of Revelation, two volumes in 8vo. The magistrates of Altona forbade the reading of this work. He was not allowed any longer permission to print his writing' at Hamburgh or Lubeck ; the communion was pro hibited to him and all his family ; and the common people were on the point of stoning him. Basedow, however, who was convinced of the truth of his opi nions, displayed prodigious activity in them. He wrote his Methodical Instruction in Reli gion, and the Moralityy of Reason, 'Ahem 1764; his Theoretical System of sound Reason, 1765; his Essay on Free Dogmatism, Berlin, 1766 ; his E.vtrads from the Old and New Testament, and his Essay in favour of the Truth of Christianity, in the same year. The last of these works he particularly valued himself upon, because he there founds the evidence of Christ ianity chiefly on its moral purity. In these, and other works, he, however, maintained several hetero dox opinions ; as the non-eternity of future punish ments,—the inequality of the three Persons of the Trinity,—the insufficiency of the atonement for our sins by the death of Jesus Christ, &c. Constantly persecuted in his theological career, he would have fallen the victim of his incautious zeal, if the Count de Bernatoff, minister of state, and J. A. Cramer, another officer of the court of Copenhagen, had not taken him under their protection. He left of giv ing lessons, without losing his salary ; and, towards the end of 1767, he abandoned theology to devote himself with the same ardour to education, of which he conceived the project of a general reform in Ger many, He began by publishing An Address to the Friends Humanity, and to Persona em Selioals, on Education, and its Influence on public Happiness, with the Plan of an Elementary Treatise en *Amin Knowledge Hamburg.b, 1768. He pro posed the reform ofecloole, of the conquer, methods of instruetion, the establishment of an institute for qualifying teachers ' • and solicited subscriptions for ee printing of his Elementary work, where his prin ciples were to be explained at length, and accompa nied' with plates. For this object, he required 5050 Grown& The subscriptions presently mounted up. to 18,000 prowns : the Empress of Russia, Catheaine II. sent $ thousand crowns, the King of Denmark nine hundred. • Is rpm appeared at Altana the first
valuate of his Method for Fathers and Mothers gf Families, and fir the MO of the. People • and six months after, the three first parts of his, Elementary Treatise, in 8vo, with 54 plates. This work, milk& was praised in all the journals, was translated into- French by Huber, and into Latin by Man. geladorf; but Schloxer, in. the German transla tion of the Essay on National Education, by M. de la. Chalotais, accused Basedow of having omitted in his plan various branches of science, and of having had in view only a pecuniary speculation. Basedow, in despair, offered to return the price of his book to those who were not satisfied with it. Only one man, a Swiss, demanded his subscription. Encouraged by the success of the Treatise, our author continued to write other works on the same subject, and on the same principles ; among others, his Treatise on Arithmetic, 1773, and Elements of pore Mathematics, 1772. His Agathocrator, or the Education of Teach ers to cone, 1771, procured him a medal from the Emperor Joseph IL ; and the visits which he made to. Brunswick, to Leipsic, Demme, Berlin, and Halle, to inquire into the state of public instruction, having enabled him to enlarge and correct his ideas, and convinced him• that his Elementary work contained many erroneous and hasty assertions, he published a new and improved edition of this work in 1774. The same year, he published his Legacy for Con sciences, or Manual of natural and revealed Religion ; a work which he composed in order to make known the real state of his religious opinions, and to clear himself from the imputation of wishing to found a new sect. In his travels, he had been well received by the Prince of Anhalt-Deessu, who promised him his protection. From that time, he bad resolved to establish an institute for education at Dessau, and to apply his principles. himself in forming disciples who might spread them over all Germany. Little calcu lated, by nature or habit, to succeed in an employ meat which requires the patience, and attention, he, however, eng in this new pro ject with all his• accustomed ardour. The name of Philanthropinon appeared to him the most expres sive of his views; and he published at Leipsic in 1774 a pamphlet, entitled, The Philanthropinen founded at Dessau, containing the details of his plan. He immediately set about carrying it into execution ; but he had few scholars, and the success by no means answered his hopes. The institution, badly managed, became the theatre of the quarrels be tween Basedew and the masters who taught in it ender his direction. The meisteece °Atha seiejpob ed Campo, a journal which they-both composed me gether under the title. of School Dialogues, from 1777 to 1779, and e.publia extuniantion which went off with eclat, gave a tranweat splendour. to ,the Plailaisthropirion ; but in ashore time &endow trete relied with made complaints against, his Prince, quitted and returned to the care of the tusks); and exemjalifYing in his conduct the effects of cause manners, and bad temper, was m• into the most scandalous scenes in his din pews with Professor Wolke, hie formes coadjutor. This institution was finally shut up in 1703- BSI& dew for some time had given up all thoughts ,ofcdo cation; he returned to his old theological inquiries, and residing sometimes at Magdekmrgh, sometimes at Halle,. sometimes at Leipsic, he took past in the famous controversy excited in Germany by the Fragments Walfeabiltel, an anonymous posthu mous work of Reiman's, published by Leasing. Doctor Semler having written a pretended re. futation of the Fragments, Basedow, without dif fruity, ea d. the ill intentions of the author, who secretly attacked the cause he affected to de fend ; and, with his usual vehemence and frankness, called upon Semler to declare himself openly, offer ing to indemnify him with his fortune, if this public declaration should prove prejudicial to him. Sera; ler made no reply, and Basedow wrote on. He published his work entitled, Jesus Christ, the Christian World, and the small Number of the Elect, in 1784; and the year following, returning to the study, which had divided his time and his powers with theology, he gave the public his New Method V Learning to Read, which he employed with success in two schools, of little girls at Magdeburgh ; and in this occupation. he passed four hours every day for some time previous to his death, took place in this city, July 25, 1790. He died with Christian firmness and resignation, and desired that his body might be opened, wishing (to use his own words) to be still useful to his fellow-citizens after his death. In 1797, a monument of marble was erected on the spot where he was buried.