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and threes as if they had the keenest sight. At a second glance, however, you will see that here and there in the crowd are one or two who, if they lose the arm of their companions, are at once in great difficulty. The new comers are to be distinguished at the first glance. They stoop much, and walk with a shambling, shuffing step, as if in fear and dread of suddenly meeting some unseen obstacle, and so coming down with a crash. Yet it is not so with all the new comers. One, a smart active boy, who perhaps has had companions at home, learns in a few days the exact line of the covered way, never swerves from it, nor wanders into the wrong side of the path so as to interfere with the stream going in the other direction, though his fellow-pupil admitted at the same time cannot walk five yards alone without fear and trembling. Another learns to run, cleverly, from one angle of the building to another, as if his fingers saw the handle of the door which they so readily and exactly find; while a fourth for many months never gets out of a zigzag when he tries to walk alone, and is certain to fall if he attempts to run.
A similar difference exists among them in the acquirement of any art or knowledge. The blind boy generally excels in some one special department. Thus, the clever basket-maker is no musician; he persists in singing G while the organ strongly exhorts him to sing A, and yet hears no discord; while his companion, who entered the school with him, and can sing and play scales major and minor from A to Z, elaborates the tenth part of a basket in a month, and in great misery cuts his finger when he should be splitting a withy or chipping off an irregular and stray end at the edge of his work.
But whichever phase of character A. or B. presents, the one favourite pursuit is carried on with zeal and diligence. If B. has strong intentions of outbasketing all other framers of twigs, A. threatens to become a second Handel, and C., who prides himself on his powers of memory and mental calculation, bids fair to make mnemonic Major Beniowski retire from Bow Street in despair. * Zeal and diligence may, therefore, be noticed as
* This characteristic faculty is, according to Father Charlevoix, turned to good account in Japan, where the public records of the empire are committed to memory by chosen blind men.
We are ourselves acquainted with an old blind mat-maker, who can repeat Thomson's · Seasons, and one or two other long poems, besides having an almost equally ready knowledge of several of the Gospels. Very recently a son was added to a friend's family, and news of the birth was brought to the blind man, who instantly set about calculating how often the child's birthday would fall on a
special characteristics of the blind who are being educated in a true sense. Many of them, too, possess that spark of what, at first sight, appears like vanity, but is an essential element in the composition of all men who attain any degree of skill, whether in the making of an osier basket or in ruling a great nation.
Every man, when once any one power of mind has been thoroughly trained and is ready for action—if he be really in earnest - feels and knows in his own heart that he possesses this power. He knows that he can do, and therefore does. Like the poet- the true trointis, doer or maker — he too feels
· The energy divine within him shrined
Bid every glowing thought in action live.': In such as these it appears as a high and noble self-consciousness of real living power within them, widely differing from mere empty vanity. Vanity sees nothing higher or greater than self. The true consciousness of power is not a confession of self, but of Him who made man, and placed in him the power to act and to feel conscious of the power; and that from Him comes the power, whether to make baskets or rule empires, to weave a door-mat, or
With never-ending waves of melody
From Music's deep, unfathomed sea.' * How nobly Milton realised this, and in his days of darkness felt and owned the presence of a Power greater than himself, may be seen in the following grand words :-'Et sane haud 'ultima Dei cura cæci sumus; qui nos, quominus quicquam * aliud præter ipsum cernere valemus, eo clementius atque
benignius respicere dignatur. Nos ab injuriis hominum non 'modo incolumes, sed pene sacros divina lex reddidit, divinus ' favor; nec tam oculorum hebetudine quam cælestium alarum • umbrâ has nobis fecisse tenebras videtur; factas illustrare rursus • interiore ac longe præstabiliore lumine haud raro solet.' (Defens. Secund.) That the gloom of the blind man's life
Monday up to the year 1900. In a short time he had accurately settled the matter. He is now, though upwards of sixty, trying to learn to read. But his fingers are become hard and horny with work.
** There is in the heart of all men a working principle,- call it ambition, or vanity, or desire of distinction, the inseparable adjunct of our individuality and personal nature, and flowing from the same source as language, — the instinct and necessity in each man of declaring his particular existence, and thus of singularising himself.' (Coleridge's Omniana, p. 375.)
should not be from mere dulness of vision, but rather from the • shadow of the Divine wings' which overspread him, is indeed a conception worthy of Milton himself.
We do not, of course, assert that the blind, as a class, possess this noble self-consciousness in a greater degree than, but only in common with, other men. In them as in others empty vanity may usurp its place; but on the whole we imagine that the higher tone is not unfrequent, and is one secret of their success, though casual observers are apt to call it the result of mere cleverness.
There is an idea, we believe, extant among persons that the blind as a class are inferior in actual power of mind * as well as in attainment; as if with their eyes their mental faculties had also become blinded that a sort of blight had passed over the powers of mind, destroying at once both keenness and vigour. People are apt to say, 'O he is blind, just as they say, 'he is 6an idiot.' It would be easy to prove the injustice of such words at once, but we prefer leaving plain facts to speak for themselves in a future page of these remarks. It is sufficient here to say that the idea is altogether erroneous, arising from ignorance of the facts of the case, or a knowledge of the blind derived only from books.
If we sum up the characteristics of the blind as a class , we shall find them to be thoughtful and diligent, with peculiar keenness and sensibility of mind and feeling; shy of expressing their thoughts or feelings before strangers; grateful for every little kindness, and equally tenacious in the remembrance of the least slight; not seldom conceited and opinionated. They are affectionate to one another, and to any who will take an interest in their cares or pleasures. One peculiarity — not to be forgotten — is, that they hate to be compassionated, — to be supposed to be so frightfully different from other people.
• Pity the poor Blind' is the cry of the professional mendicant who haunts the kerbstone behind a dog. His blindness is his stock in trade, –at once his misfortune and his most excellent property; though even in his case one's pity is all in vain until
* This idea Dufau contradicts strongly, even in the case of those born blind :-'C'est toutefois un fait bien digne de remarque que la
defectuosité de l'instrument intellectuel chez les aveugles-nés ne
depasse presque jamais certaines limites. On a observé qu'il est fort ‘rare qui'ls soient atteints sinon d'imbécillité du moins de folie.'
t 'En somme,' says Dufau, l'attention, la comparaison, et le raisonnement, l'abstraction, l'analyse et la mémoire, tous les élémens de la raison humaine sont en eux comme en nous; pas un n'y manque.' (P. 47.)
it assume a metallic form and drop into the canine basket. But the poor blind who are once placed above being tempted to this degradation do not like being lamented over with pitiful tears or words, or compassionated with sentimentalities. They will gladly listen if you take an interest in what they do, and talk to them as workers of an ordinary kind. But they feel that they are of the same flesh and blood as you are, and you must identify yourself with them if you would hear of their difficulties, successes, joys, and troubles. Otherwise the task will be one of difficulty, and unproductive of the least intimacy.
So keenly do they feel their oneness with other people, and 50 disinclined are they in general to allude, even remotely, to their own loss of sight, that among blind children such phrases as the following are constantly exchanged: - Have you seen • Martha Smith ?' I saw Robert in the basket shop.' Sarah, • have you seen my bonnet? (here the chapel bell rings); just see “if it is in your room.' As may be therefore imagined, they take great interest in listening to descriptions of many circumstances and things which it appears at first thought persons without sight could not at all realise. We happen to know that the pupils of the Blind School in St. George's Fields listened with great interest to several very lengthy printed accounts of the funeral pageant of the Great Duke. Many of them also visited the Great Exhibition, and were delighted with the wonders of the place, of which they still talk. * Of this thoughtful and ingenious race of people there are in Great Britain about twenty-five thousand t, of whom a small proportion, certainly not one half, are being educated, as the majority of the whole number belong to an indigent class for whom little has been attempted, and still less has been done. Shut
* Our readers will perhaps be surprised to learn that the blind were exhibitors at the world's mart; a large stand being entirely filled with their work in rugs, mats, and baskets, besides knitting in wool and silk, and hair-work of the finest kinds.
† Golownin's estimate of the number of blind persons in Japan appears to us impossibly large; he sets down 36,000 to the capital, Jeddo, alone!
The proportion of the blind to the whole population is rather higher in America than in Europe. In Egypt the average is still higher, probably on account of ophthalmia ; being computed to amount to one Blind person in every hundred; in Norway, one in a thousand; in Great Britain rather less than in Norway. All the blind do not seem to feel their privation with equal acuteness; different causes of blindness seeming to involve different degrees of suffering ; those born blind feeling their loss far less deeply than others who can form a real idea of vision.
out as the blind are from the thousand channels of information and improvement open to the rest of mankind in the world of books, of course the first object has been to teach them to read, especially to read the Scriptures. For unfortunately scarcely any other book has yet been brought within the reach of the pour blind. We say unfortunately, because The Book of all books has by this means been subjected to much usage--to which any book may be degraded-at once unbecoming and unworthy of its sacred character and contents.
• The Scriptures,' says the author of “Tangible Typography,' (a work which we gladly recommend to our readers' careful perusal)
are now read more frequently as an exercise, and a means for * mastering a system, than as a spiritual comfort, guide, and
consolation ; especially in schools, where portions of the Bible are used as the only class book, and where, consequently, 'monotony begetting indifference, and indifference want of • respect, the reading of the Word of God is apt to be regarded • as a task, rather than a pleasure and a privilege.' (P. 8.)
And again,- The books printed for their use are few in ' number, deficient in variety, and not procured without difficulty even at a large expense.' (Ibid.)
· The blind are almost entirely without works of interest or amusement.' (Ibid.)
It is evident, therefore, that much remains to be done before the blind, as a class, can be raised from their present dark and dreary condition. Two thirds of the twenty-five thousand in England cannot yet read (p. 10.), and those who can have their small library rendered still smaller by the multiplicity of systems on which the books have been printed. These systems are, it appears, so utterly different from each other as to require separate and special study before they can be deciphered. Learning a new system is, in fact, to a blind man, like learning a new language. That our readers may the more readily understand this, we propose giving a brief sketch of the different systems now in use among the blind in Great Britain; and then as briefly noticing what else has been done for them in other matters of mental and bodily education.
All printing for the blind is in raised, or, as it is called, embossed type, at once perceptible to the touch. The different systems may be subdivided into two distinct classes, which have been severally named Arbitrary and Alphabetical; the first in which arbitrary characters are used to represent letters, sounds, or words, and the second in which the ordinary Roman letters are employed.