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system, and of these a large proportion are excellent readers, but the circumstances of the case are such that any other result would have long since consigned · The Phonetic System' to that abode of oblivion wherein our deceased friend the . Fonetic Nuz' now lies sepulchred and forgotten. The fact is that nine-tenths of Frere's readers have been taught either by himself or under his own immediate superintendence. Mr. Frere, and the friends who work with him and for him, possess talents, abundance of leisure, and the golden sinews of all success — money. These they devote nobly, heartily, unweariedly to the cause. Their very hearts and souls are in the work. What wonder that local success has crowned their labour of love? What system—having good for its object — would not thrive under such noble suspices, such unwearied diligence, such ardent zeal ?
With such right arms as these in such a cause,
We believe that Mr. Frere would think nothing of travelling fifty miles to teach a poor blind man to read his Bible, and we cannot doubt of success attending such a work. But the defects. of a system are not a whit the less flagrant, however noble may be its author's charity, or earnest his labours.
In our younger days we were much afflicted with a treacherous memory; like the invalid's of another date, our motto might well have been plenus rimarum.' In our distress we were recommended a dose of Grey's Memoria Technica.' In this system letters stand for numerals, which numerals are appended to certain other half words, themselves being signs or symbols of certain events or names to be remembered. Barbarous enough was the jargon, but a few doses were said to be infallible. The first instalment we exhibit in its native crude form, as we first tasted it:- Crofth Deletok Abaneb Exafna Tembybe Cyrutz.' Such was the primary and delicious morsel to be administered to the unfortunately weak and treacherous memory, after "get'ting up' with considerable difficulty the details, rules, and principles of the system itself. Surely of all barbarous hexameters this was the most uncouthly barbarous. Crofth signified that the Creation took place B. C. 4004, Deletok the Deluge 2348, and so on to Cyrus himself metamorphosed into Cyrutz. All history, ancient and modern, was thus translated into barbarous hexameters, and a royal road at once opened to an intimate acquaintance with every date, large or small, since the days of Adam. It was merely to learn a few score (or hundreds, as the case might be,) of such pleasant hexameters, and the disciple • would be no more troubled with weakness of memory, &c. for
VOL. XCIX. NO. CCI.
the rest of his life.' In reply to this we have only to say, that the same amount of diligence, time, and labour expended on Old Testament history on a more ordinary, intelligible, and simple plan, would have infallibly taught the disciple all he wished to acquire in the matters of Adam, Noah, and Cyrus. The same argument applies to all systems encumbered with such a memoria technica. The same amount of time, labour, diligence, and hearty love expended in teaching an Alphabetical System would have produced not only equal but far greater results. There would have been a wider field for work, many more advocates, and consequently greater resources; and, above all, a more abundant harvest. There would have been no necessity for the teacher to get up the system beforehand; any one who could read, who had an hour to spare, and a heart to devote it to the blind, might at once have set to work. Unity of action would have been secured, and the success which attends unity of action would have followed.
But all these contingencies are now but profitless would-havebeens ; and meanwhile Mr. Moon of Brighton is waiting. He has invented a system of reading which he naturally enough considers perfect. His advocates are few in number, but so strongly convinced of the superiority of their own views and the inferiority of every one else's, that to them he would appear to be
“Velut inter ignes
Luna minores. Let us hear what Mr. Moon says for himself :- In order to (avoid the complicated form of the Roman letter, and the still « less discernible angular type,' he tells us that he has invented can alphabet, each letter of which is formed of two lines only; most of the letters bearing a partial resemblance to those in common use. Nine forms placed in different positions represent the whole alphabet and numerals, one form serving for "A, V, K, L, and x, and another for E, L, M, and y, while there are but four contracted forms, ment, ing, tion, and ness.'
Merely pausing to notice that the use of mt for ment, tn for tion, &c., is not a very profound or original idea, let us now see how far the claims of the advocates of this system are to be allowed. It is asserted, that the system is not an arbitrary but an alphabetical one; that so great a resemblance exists between the Roman and Moonish characters, that a teacher with eyes would readily, if not at once, read by Moon's system; and that, nevertheless, so simple are the Moonish characters, and so entirely are the “intricacies of the Roman letters' removed, that a blind scholar learns to read by them with greater facility than
by the ordinary A, B, c. We will leave both these questions to
R. S. T.
2. Proof of Intricacies being removed.
L. Moonish 0. l. 1. <. 1. For our own part we must confess that we can neither discern the faintest trace of the resemblance sought to be established by No. 1., nor detect the removal of more than the least possible intricacy by No. 2. In fact, the system claims both the freedom of an arbitrary character, as well as the advantages of an alphabetical one; it professes to be at once like and unlike the same thing; and of necessity failing to establish any claim to either title, ends in being a mere mongrel. Of all the systems, moreover, this is among the bulkiest and most expensive, two characteristics which are alone sufficient to prevent its ever being adopted by any but its own few partisans.
If the New Testament, printed in all the five systems used in the English language, be taken as a standard of comparison, the following table will show the relative position of each.
Mr. Moon, himself a blind man, deserves the highest praise for his labours in behalf of his fellow sufferers; but he might have done them a better service if he had led them into the highway", - the old beaten highway, where fellow travellers who had eyes might have helped them on the journey, instead of
* It is true that the highway is often not the shortest road, — that with many a winding turn it presses steadily on up hill and down dale ; • but even highways which wind among mountains, by being much frequented, become gradually so smooth and commodious, that it is muuch better to follow them than to seek a straighter path by climb*ing over the tops of rocks and descending to the bottom.' (Descartes, on Method, p. 57.)
taking them by a short cut across the fields. Stiles, brambles, and miry paths add neither to the pleasure, despatch, or profit of
Yew Testah, 10s. Te marine shawill cost
Roman road, or the stones of a more recent piece of Mac Adam. Thus far, the different systems of embossed printing. Before, however, we quit this part of our subject we must again touch on the all-important point of price. Books of embossed printing, on whatever system, are chiefly for the benefit of the poor blind ; their cost, therefore, is a question of primary importance. And in this age of cheap books, when a handsome library can be purchased for a few pounds, it is sad to think that the poor blind man who may chance to have mastered the great task of reading, cannot procure even the New Testament on any system at a less cost than 21.; even on Frere's it will cost 21. 10.; and if he have grown up under the marine shadow of Mr. Moon, he will be mulcted of 41. 10s. To all intents and purposes, therefore, the New Testament as a whole is utterly beyond the reach of those who most need it; the poorest and most ignorant of the blind. But it remains to be proved whether the printers of this age will not be able to introduce into printing for the blind improvements equal to those which mark every other branch of the art. To use a well-known phrase of logical precision,
there is no antecedent improbability' why the blind should not have a pocket bible and prayer book, and therewith rejoice on many a happy Sunday. Neither is there any 'archidiaconal' reason why they should not in a shilling volume wax melancholy over the sable miseries of Uncle Tom, or enjoy with wonder and delight the exciting adventures of that worthy mariner Robinson Crusoe.
We now come to another branch of our subject, and to note what has been done for the intellectual cultivation of the blind. Little more has been yet accomplished in England than teaching them to read*, write, and cipher, and even thus far only in the best of the schools with any degree of accuracy or skill. But the spirit of inquiry on their behalf is now spreading through the land. Many thoughtful and philanthropic men are expending
* But looking back on what Saunderson and Moyes achieved in the study of pure science and mathematics, there seems to be no reason why a few of the cleverest pupils who show any taste for such subjects should not be allowed to read a book or two of Euclid. That the attempt has been made, and not without success, we know. It is more than probable that the blind boy who fairly crosses the fatal · Pons asi. norum,' realises the pure reason of his task far more fully than many a learner with eyes who again and again describes the dreadful angle on a greasy slate.
the As.might natuf so intelligen probably 'vinterest and i
other choiceWorks of Handsanist, performing choir, guided and
time and labour on a subject at once of interest and importance, and the next ten years will probably witness many useful discoveries in aid of so intelligent and afflicted a class.
As might naturally be supposed, the study of Music affords to the blind the purest and most unmixed pleasure; for in this pursuit are they least reminded of their infirmity. They find in it scope for the highest imagination, as well as the deepest feelings of religion; and when a blind man becomes a musician he is one with his whole heart, giving up to this study his entire energies and thoughts. At the Blind School in St. George's Fields, under the able direction of Mr. Turle of Westminster Abbey, many of the pupils have attained considerable skill both in vocal and instrumental music. A blind choir, guided and accompanied by a blind organist, performing choruses and solos from the works of Handel, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Bach, and other choice masters, is, indeed, a surprising spectacle; of which, however, our readers may themselves judge by attending one of their usual Monthly Concerts at the School. It is much to be regretted that difficulty should exist in procuring situations for blind organists, however well qualified, more especially as the pupil who becomes a musician rarely masters a trade, or shows much skill as a reader.
How the blind man writes is a problem of much easier solution than that of on what system he is to learn to read. The apparatus he uses is very simple. A small framework of wood, somewhat like a gridiron without a handle, is made to shut with a hinge on a flat square of mahogany, on which is laid the sheet of paper. Between the wooden bars thus resting on the paper, the writer inserts, one by one, each letter,- a small slip of deal with the Roman capital (thus 2) protruding from one end in points of metal. These points pierce the paper and produce corresponding letters ; the operation being most like what children call pricking a pattern;' easily seen by the eye, and on the reverse side easily detected by the finger. The process is soon learned, and requires but a little patience, strength of finger, and a knowledge of spelling not Moonish or Lucasian. Almost as easily the blind scholar learns to use a ciphering frame, which is of the ordinary size, - of metal in a frame of wood. Across it, in parallel lines at equal distances, run rows of pentagonal holes, like the cells of a honey-comb.
* Mr. Hughes, the Governor of the Blind School at Manchester, has invented a most ingenious typograph for the use of the blind. But its price at once removes it beyond the reach of all but the wealthy.