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ON SOME RESULTS OF THE CENSUS OF
THE DEAF AND DUMB IN 1861.
By David Buxton, F.R.S.L.,
Principal of the Liverpool School for the Deaf and Dumb.
(READ 16TH FEBRUARY, 1865.)
I CANNOT claim for the present subject that it is one of popular or even general interest; but its importance is beyond dispute. As a matter of education, and as a department of social science, it is interesting to some who have no special concern with the deaf and dumb; but to those who have such an interest, no subject can be more attractive.
The first decennial census of Great Britain which collected facts on this subject was that of 1851. Those facts, though imperfect, were valuable. Still they stood alone. Comparison was impossible, for we had not the means of comparison. Now we have. The census of 1861 has given us another group of facts, treating of the same class of persons, going over the same ground, after an interval of ten years. So now, for the first time we have, in this particular branch of enquiry, those means of comparison which have been so largely employed, with such valuable results, in other fields of investigation with which the census deals.
Such comparison I purpose now to enter upon.
In order to present the enquiry in the form which will be most in harmony with the scope of the social science philanthropist and the friend of education, I shall address myself in the first instance to the proper answer to two enquiries.
1. Has the number of the deaf and dumb increased between 1851 and 1861 ?
2. Has education, or the means of education, increased in an equal or greater proportion?
Our first enquiry then is-Has the number of the deaf and dumb increased since 1851 ? The answer is-Yes. And if we further ask-Where has this increase taken place? The answer is-In every part of the United Kingdom. In Great Britain and the islands of the British seas, taking the total, there is an increase; and the same is found in every separate member contributing to that aggregate, viz., England and Wales, Ireland, Scotland and the islands in the adjacent seas. In Great Britain and Ireland, and the islands, the deaf and dumb have increased during the years 1851-1861 from a total of 17,300, or 1 in 1,590, to 20,311, or 1 in 1,432. Not only is this so, but in every one of the eleven registration divisions in England and Wales the same result is shown. Deaf mutes have increased throughout the United Kingdom
The total given in the Irish Returns is 5,653, but 723 are stated to be "Dumb, not Deaf."
Thus we see that in every District the number of the deaf and dumb has increased, and we know that the aggregate population has increased as well. But besides this, in every separate District but one, the proportion of the deaf and dumb to the general population has increased also: that is to say, in any given number of our population, there is a larger number of deaf and dumb persons now than there was in 1851. The rate of increase in the general population is 12 per cent., but the increase in the number of the deaf and dumb during the same period was 19 per cent. There were-e.g., in the two counties of Lancaster and Chester, which form our own immediate district-1,582 deaf and dumb in 1861, or 1 in 1,856, as against 1,237 in 1851, or 1 in 2,014.*
In the South Western District (Wilts, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Somerset) the proportion of the deaf and dumb to the population has undergone scarcely any change (the difference between 1 in 1,393 in 1851 and 1 in 1,390 in 1861 being quite immaterial); and in the district of Wales alone the proportion is absolutely less. The number of deaf mutes has increased from 771 to 814, but the general population has increased in a much greater proportion; so that the deaf and dumb in the Principality, who in 1851 were as 1 in 1,542, were in 1861 as 1 in 1,613.
This is the only instance of the kind-the only exception to the general rule of increased proportion throughout the
Thus our first question is fully and completely answered. Between 1851 and 1861 the deaf mute population of the United Kingdom increased very largely.
* A portion of this increase is probably due to the fact that the returns were made with greater accuracy at the last census than in 1851, when the deaf and dumb were separately enumerated for the first time. It is right to mention this, though it does not affect the fact that we have actually a larger deaf and dumb population now than we had then, and therefore require increased means of education.
Our second question is-Have the means of education increased in an equal or greater proportion?
A satisfactory answer to this question is most to be desired, as affording the only relief which a benevolent mind can receive on a consideration of the painful fact disclosed in the former answer. And here again the answer is as conclusive
as in the former case, and far more gratifying.
The number of "pupils in institutions" in the three kingdoms stood as follows, at the two periods under consideration:
This increase of 350 on 1,300 is equal to 27 per cent. Viewed separately, in England the increase is 25 per cent; in Scotland there appears a falling off; in Ireland the increase is large and striking: and it is to be accounted for by the fact that each religious denomination in that country possesses now (and this has not always been the case) institutions in which the children belonging to its own communion can be educated in accordance with its own forms of belief.
We thus arrive at the conclusion which answers our second question, and find-that the general population has increased at the rate of 12 per cent.; the deaf and dumb, 19 per cent. ; the number of pupils in the deaf and dumb institutions, 25 to 27 per cent. Thus the means of education have increased in a still greater proportion than that in which the deaf and dumb have themselves increased.
But any statement, which merely sets forth the increase in
the number of pupils, would very inadequately represent the improvement which has taken place in the social and intellectual condition of the deaf and dumb during the last ten or fifteen years. It is therefore right to add, that a larger number of them are engaged in industrial and remunerative occupations; the number of occupations in which they are found employed has largely increased; and the character of these employments has markedly improved. They make their way in the world; they stretch further; they rise higher; they hold their own in the competition of every-day life; they unite with each other in designs which promote their common benefit; and I believe that a survey of their condition at the present time would afford more satisfaction to those who wish them well, than could have been afforded at any former period. One hundred years ago the condition of the deaf mute was one of total darkness; seventy, nay fifty years ago, one institution existed in Great Britain--one only; forty years ago, our own was founded; but really we may say that education has only been readily accessible to the deaf and dumb poor (and the poor form by far the largest class of these afflicted ones) within the last twenty-five years. This is a fact which we must in common justice bear in mind when considering the social progress and condition of the deaf and dumb. What have you a fair right to expect of a class who have only been enfranchised, so to speak, in the ranks of ordinary workmen-who have only begun to appear as a noticeable element in social life-as fathers, tenants, tradesmen, artists, servants of the Crown, testators or legatees, within the last quarter of a century?
In the census report of 1861 for England and Wales, it is stated, with respect to those pursuits "which sweeten the life "of man by extending his usefulness," that " a few of the deaf "and dumb are engaged in the professions, including three "in the Civil Service, one conveyancer, forty-eight artists and