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individual selves ;-that if we are to love our neighbor as ourself, we must, of course, love all our neighbors collectively more than the single unit which each one calls I.
I would that considerations of this kind had more weight in the community generally. I would that the subject were more attended to, and that the violation of the laws of our organic nature were less frequent in our country. There is one great and crying evil in our system of education,-it is, that but part of man's nature is educated ;—and that our colleges and schools doom young men for years, to an uninterrupted and severe exercise of the intellectual faculties, to the comparative neglect of their moral, and still more of their physical nature. Nay, not only do they neglect their physical nature,they abuse it,—they sin against themselves, and against God; and though they sin in ignorance, they do not escape the penalties of His violated laws. Hence, you see them, pale, and wan, and feeble ;-hence, you find them acknowledging, when too late, the effects of severe application. But do they acknowledge it humbly and repentingly, as with a consciousness of sin ? No; they often do it with a secret exultation,—with a lurking feeling, that you will say, or think, “poor fellow, his mind is too much for his body!”—Nonsense! his mind is too weak,-his knowledge too limited, he is an imperfect man,he knows not his own nature. But, if he has no conscientiousness,--no scruple about impairing his own health and sowing the
,seeds of disease,-he has less about entailing them upon others. And a consumptive young man or woman,—the son or daughter of consumptive parents,--hesitates not to spread the evil in society, and entail puny frames, weakness, pain; and early death upon several individuals, and punish their children for their own sins. Is this picture too high colored?
And if I showed you satisfactorily, that sin against the organic laws caused so large a proportion of blindness, how much more readily will you grant, that the same sin gives to so many, of
our population the narrow chest, the hectic Alush, the hollow cough, which makes the victim doomed by his parent to consumption and early death!
Do you not see, every Sabbath, at church, the young man or woman, upon whose fair and delicate structure the peculiar impress of the EARLY DOOMED is stamped ; and as a slight, but hollow cough comes upon your ear, does it not recall the death knell, which rang in the same sad note before, to the father or the mother? Who of you has not followed some young friend to his long resting-place, and found that the grass had not grown rank upon the grave of his brother,—that the row of white marbles, beneath which slept his parents and sisters, were yet glistering in freshness, and that the letters which told their names and their early death, seemed clear as if cut but yesterday ?
They tell us that physical education is attended to in this country,—and yet, where is the teacher, where is the clergyman even, who dares to step forth in these cases, and those who are doomed, you must not and shall not marry; and where are the young men and women who would listen to them if they did ? It is not that they are wanting in conscientiousness; they may be conscientious and disinterested, but they do not know they are doing wrong, because they are not acquainted with all the organic laws of their nature.
All that is done in schools or colleges toward physical education, is the mere strengthening of the muscular system by muscular exercise, but this not half enough. These remarks may be deemed irrelevant to my subject,—but they cannot be lost to an audience, whose highest interest is the education of man; and, if I am mistaken in supposing that little attention has been paid to the subject, its importance will guaranty its repetition.
Thus, I have presented to you some considerations of means by which the proportion of blind to the whole community might be materially lessened. I might go on, and point out others, such as early and immediate attention to inflammation of
the eyes in infancy. I might show how advancing science, in this, as in a thousand other ways, tends directly to benefit society; and how a knowledge of ophthalmia,—a little more perfect than is now generally possessed by country physicians, -would diminish the number of blind; this, however, would be generalizing too much. But after all, when man shall have become ever so well acquainted with the laws of his organic nature, and ever so obedient to them, there will still be a certain proportion of every generation deprived of one or more of the organs of sense. It is my part to point out the means of educating those who are without sight.
The subject is an interesting and important one, whether viewed philosophically, or practically. Its full illustration requires an intimate acquaintance with the best systems of common education, and they might reflect back much light upon them. I would, indeed, that I possessed much acquaintance, or the power to make it useful to other methods; but I must plead ignorance, and crave your forbearance, if the crudity of
my remarks betray a want of familiarity with what is the vocation of many of my auditors,--the science of teaching.
—the I hold, then, that education should bave for its aim, the development and greatest possible perfection of the whole nature of man:-his moral, intellectual, and physical nature. My beau ideal of human nature would be, a being whose intellectual faculties were active and enlightened,—whose moral sentiments were dignified and firm,--whose physical formation was healthy and beautiful ;-whoever falls short of this, in one particular,—be it in but the least,—beauty and vigor of body falls short of the standard of perfection. To this standard, I believe, man is approaching; and I believe the time will soon be, when specimens of it will not be rare.
In educating the blind, we meet with one insurmountable obstacle to perfection in the physical nature of man ;-we cannot make the body perfect. Let us see how far the imperfection prevents the development and improvement of the other parts of bis nature. With regard to the intellectual, we find that almost all the powers of the mind can be developed by being acted upon through the other senses.
And with regard to the moral and religious nature, it varies not materially from other human beings. We need then consider only the physical and intellectual nature.
In the education of the physical, we have great difficulty to encounter. Very often, blindness is one effect of a cause which occasions general derangement of health; thus we have not only the deprivation of one sense, but a weak and puny physical frame. Then, in most cases, where the only original defect is blindness, this itself causes derangement of health, by preventing the person from taking sufficient quantity of exercise to develop the powers of the different organs, or keep them in healthy action when they are developed. Generally speaking, the blind suffer much from want of exercise ;—they cannot run fearlessly about, like other children; and even the degree of exercise which the natural buoyancy of childhood would lead them to take, is diminished by the timidity or ignorance of their parents and friends, who fear they will hurt themselves. Instead of being encouraged to run about, and tumble, and frolic, the blind child is too often cautioned to sit still, or to be very careful in its movements. Later in life, in the period of youth, we find them cautious in their movements, and very much inclined to sit quiet in the house; or if they endeavor to take exercise, they are at once fatigued and discouraged ;—they complain of lassitude, and attribute to their own weakness what is but the effect of previous bad habits. Following this, a natural consequence, come a long train of physical and moral evils, of which peevishness and discontent are but a small part.
This is a point which deserves particular attention. And if there are any of my hearers who know a blind child in their neighborhood, they can do no kinder act to it, than to advise its parents how to treat it. They should encourage, rather
than repress motion,—they should not be over careful about removing things out of its way, but let it learn, by tumbling over them, how to avoid them in future. It should be made to run and jump about,—to be much in the open air ;-and, above all things, it should be made to practise its ear and touch, in every possible way. There is little danger of harm; —nature is there, ever watchful,—and the mother's love, increased by the infirmity of her child, will never let it really suffer. Although, unenlightened by instinct, she may help it into helplessness, and caress it into imbecility. I have known blind children, who, at the age of ten, had never been taught (I will not say taught, but never had been allowed), to dress themselves, or to run about, or even to feed themselves ; while, in the Institution in this city, you may see little fellows, less than five years of age, who give more trouble to keep them
, quiet, than moving ;—who run fearlessly all over the building, and through the play grounds,—who sit at table, and help themselves, and who can tell the footstep of almost every one of the sixty inmates, and even of the cat and dog.
Much depends upon the early education of the senses; and it is surprising to those who have not attended to the subject, how great is their susceptibility of improvement. You have, doubtless, all of you, heard and known cases of astonishing acuteness of perception, in those deprived of one or more organs of sense; and I shall merely allude to a few of them, to show how far the blind are compensated for want of sight. I have known blind persons, who could tell on entering a room to which they were accustomed, whether any large article of furniture had been removed, merely by the sound of their footsteps or cane upon the floor ;—who could tell the difference in height between two persons with whom they were talking (even when it was not more than three inches), and this by the direction in which the sound of the voice came to their ear. I have known blind men, who could tell the ages of persons as accurately by their voices, as any of us can by their counte