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It is interesting to see the blind thus leading the blind. The one pushes on ahead fearlessly, up stairs and down, almost drawing the other, who follows timidly, feeling in front of him with one hand, and trying every spot with one foot placed doubtingly down, before he will trust the weight of the body to it. When he has become familiar with the premises and the grounds, the new comer is placed at a desk in the schoolroom, and a sheet with the letters of the alphabet stamped or embossed, so as to be tangible,--these he learns in a day or two, and then goes on with the rest.

The pupils, in the Institution in this city, are taught the same branches, and about to the same degree, as are learned in our high schools and academies. English grammar, arithmetic, geography and history, and music to all. The higher branches of mathematics and astronomy,—the French language,

-natural and moral philosophy, to such as desire a more finished education.

As I said, most of the instruction is oral, but much aid, particularly in geography and mathematics, is derived from ingenious contrivances, by which the illustrations are made tangible. With the books for the blind, you are probably all acquainted ;—they are printed without ink, and the form of the letter elevated or embossed, and made tangible. The system has been very much improved within a short time, in this country, and the books printed here for the blind have an immense advantage over those of Europe, in diminished bulk and expense, and increased beauty and clearness.

Such are some of the contrivances, by which the artificial aids in common schools are adapted to the wants of the blind; and by them, rude and imperfect as they are, rapid progress is made. It is true the processes are slow, and a blind child cannot read but one third as fast as seeing children ;-but, then, he devotes himself with threefold energy,-he studies with pleasure unalloyed, and his mind, undiverted by visible objects, is intent upon the subject he is investigating. Hence, as I

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said before, he makes as rapid progress in most intellectual pursuits, and more rapid progress in some, than seeing boys in schools and academies.

But there is a department of knowledge which opens to them a wide and pleasant career, and upon which they enter with zeal and success ;-I mean that of music. Here the blind youth fears not the competition of his seeing rivals. A little attention, on the part of the teacher, gives him a scientific knowledge of the principles; and, guided by his pure and unerring ear, and enraptured by harmony, which he tastes in all its perfection, he advances rapidly to excellence. Already, the institutions of this country have nearly qualified many blind persons for organists; and there is no doubt but the increase of musical taste in the community will enable all to find useful and honorable occupations.

Attention, and considerable attention, is to be paid to physical exercise; and all the pupils in an institution for the blind should devote considerable time to it. At the one in this city, they have a gymnasium, where the boys acquire great hardihood and skill, while they strengthen the muscles and relax the mind. All spend, too, several hours daily in mechanical occupations; and those who have no talent for music devote themselves entirely to work, after they have spent time enough in school to obtain a knowledge of the common branches,arithmetic, grammar, geography, &c.

There are some occupations in which they can compete with seeing workmen. The Institution in this city has already qualified four blind persons to obtain a livelihood by their own hands, and they are actually obtaining it.

But, in order to estimate fully the advantages of educating the blind, you should see a boy or girl as they come from the country, and compare them with themselves after four years. They are at first awkward, ignorant, and timid; without selfconfidence, and without physical strength or moral energy. Illjudged kindness, by forestalling their wants, has prevented



them from action; and unwise treatment has made them consider themselves sad burdens upon others, and always destined to be so. But they soon find they must rouse themselves, and administer to their own wants ; they find themselves in a community of blind, and, undepressed by any sense of inferiority, they are excited to rivalry and competition. The acquisition of knowledge gives them great pleasure ;-confinement in school gives zest to the hours of exercise ;-hope spreads a bright picture before them,—and time, which once dragged along so heavily, now speeds on gaily, and his wings make music as he flies. Soon you see them become active, intelligent, self-confident and happy.

It is a common error, to suppose blindness, in itself, is a cause of great unhappiness to the sufferer. It is very seldom so with those who have been long blind, unless they have inordinate self-esteem, and are envious of seeing people. Generally speaking, the want of sight is regretted by them, as the want of an advantage, and not of a pleasure. The man born blind, knows that it must be advantageous to have an organ of touch, by which he could make himself acquainted with a distant grove or landscape; feel the size and shape of the trees, the form of the leaves, the inequality of the ground, &c. ;-and if he could have his hands so constituted as to give him all this knowledge, he would like it ;—but as for the pleasures to be derived, separate from any advantage, he cannot have any adequate conception of them; and, therefore, very wisely, he troubles not his head about them.

If, then, blindness is not necessarily a cause of unhappiness, --why is the lot of the blind so sad? Why are they generally considered the greatest objects of sympathy and suffering ? Why do they have to pass their lives in listlessness and inactivity,—their youth in the chimney-nook, or in the rockingchair,-eating the bread of dependence at the table of a kind relative, and when he is gone, doomed to pass their old age in an almshouse?

Why are they generally weak, inactive, moping and useless? Why are they burdens upon society, and why do so many sink into stupidity and idiocy, and die of premature old age ?

It is because the feelings have been listened to and followed, without thought or reasoning ;---the sympathy and pity of men called instantaneously forth by the situation of the blind, has acted impulsively, and alms and almshouses have been liberally supplied. The very means intended to solace and relieve the blind, have often added to their suffering, by making them peculiar and ostensible objects of charity.

Ay, the very hand that has been stretched out to cheer and solace, has often wounded and crushed them! The situation of the blind has not been understood, the wants of the blind have not been known, and, of course, not supplied. Alms cannot console them,-charity cannot cheer them ;—they have faculties, and they want to have them employed ;-they have moral and intellectual natures which require to be developed and cultivated, and until this is done, and until self-esteem can be gratified by earning their own subsistence, and making themselves independent of charity, they will never be happy, -never fill that place in society which they are able to do.

If there is any one class in our community, whose claim upon society is clear and indisputable, it is the blind. If any one class has been peculiarly and long neglected, it is the blind. We recognise the right of all the young to a participation in the blessings of education. We have long provided the means for all :—for white and black,—for the poorest as well as the richest;—even for the deaf and dumb; while the blind,—with capacity equal to any,—with wants greater, far greater than any,—have been entirely neglected until within a few years ! Compare the situation and wants of a blind per

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with those of a deaf mute. The one can move about in the world, he can go into a carpenter's shop, or a shoemaker's shop, learn a trade and become independent, and comparatively happy. But the blind man,—he is helpless. If unassisted


and unenlightened by a peculiar provision for his education, he must pass his days in ignorance and idleness, and often end them in an almshouse. And yet, while institutions for the education of the deaf and dumb have long been established, and are rapidly increasing, those for the blind are but just commencing. Thank God, however, the work has commenced; and in a community like ours, it cannot but go on. Already have two of our institutions placed themselves on a footing with,—nay, I may safely say, in some respects, have excelled,—the best and oldest in Europe ;-and there is nothing more ardently to be desired, than to see them multiplied and perfected.

It is but four years since the American public have learned that the blind could be educated ;-it is but four years since a call has been made upon their sympathies and charities, in behalf of this interesting class,—and yet, the call has been answered promptly and generously. The work has been begun with zeal and resolution ; more progress has been made here, than in the last twenty years elsewhere ;—and there is

for the first time, a rational prospect of a select and valuable library being soon printed for the blind. Already has the best of books, the New Testament, been finished, of which only short extracts had been printed abroad; and hope says, it is but the earnest of many more.

That our country may be the first to discharge its duty to those who are rendered its dependents, is to be ardently desired by every patriot and philanthropist.



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