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zero, it then reads 507; then taking another of the same kind of type he puts the other end down and leaves above the surface the point in the middle of the upper side, in the situation in which it signifies 3.
But even in this method, the best certainly of any in the European schools for the blind, there is an improvement, which has been carried into effect in the institution at Boston. The nature of this improvement will be perceived when we state, that if the fingers be rubbed over the surface of a number of types, it will be difficult for the blind person engaged in the experiment to ascertain whether the point is upon the corner, or in the middle of one edge of the type, and a mistake such as this, it is obvious, will ruin the whole process. Hence, in the Institution in Boston, a remedy for preventing this consequence is employed, which consists of the use of an entirely different mark on the end of the type; instead of distinguishing the sign 3 from the sign 4, by its being on the corner instead of the middle of one side of the type, it is marked by two points on the surface of the type; and the figure 5, instead of being marked by a type which differs only from the rest by having its point in the centre instead of on the corner, is marked by a sharp line drawn diagonally across it, so that the types differ from each other not only by their position, but by such a marked difference in the feeling of them, that they cannot be confounded. The arithmetical board itself has been improved by being made much more compact, by the holes being brought much nearer together, and the bulk and weight of the whole apparatus considerably diminished.
The duties of composing, of taking off the impression, and in fact, the whole business included in the art of printing, is effected in the hospital, and that too with scarcely any assistance from those whose vision is perfect. Even the folding, stitching, and binding are performed by blind pupils, and many of them are as expert as it is possible for any boy to be in distributing the type. The only occasion which they have for the assistance of a person with sight, is, when they wish to correct the proof, and then some person must read the copy to them.
With respect to the works already printed by the blind, they do not appear to be executed with any thing like skill; they resemble more the earliest attempts at printing when the art was in its infancy, than they do the elegance of modern ingenuity. There was some reason for this, because the principle unreasonably adopted and adhered to in France, was, that in all things the blind should be brought to imitate those with sight as much possible, and hence the little tendency which has hitherto been shown in these establishments to change the clumsy apparatus now in the hands of the blind. Mr. Gall, of Edinburgh, was the first to break through the vicious restriction, and zealously, and with great trouble and expense, he instituted a series of experiments. He has succeeded in bringing the lines much nearer together, and saves something in space on each page; but he founds his principal claim for improvement, upon the change in the shape of the letters, which he makes entirely angular; and distinguishes one from the other by the different positions of the angles,—for instance, a triangle with the acute point turned to the left, shall signify one letter, and the same shaped triangle, with the point turned to the right, shall signify another letter. Mr. Gall asserts that he has tried the experiment upon blind children, and found that they could learn his system of letters mnch quicker than the common shaped ones. This may be, and still his system be a very imperfect one; but we do not place much confidence in such experiments, unless they be tried upon great numbers, and with most marked results.
The American reviewer entertains some striking objections to Mr. Gall's plan, as also to some other systems which have been tried in Scotland, such as that by Mr. Hay, a blind man, teacher of languages in Edinburgh; but there exists as powerful objections to it as to that of Mr. Gall, viz. the size and similarity of the characters; his may be called the right lined system, while Mr. Gall's is the angular one.
But the clumsiest and most uncouth system which ever was devised, is that practised in the Glasgow Asylum; where they have letters made by different kinds of knots tied on a string, which of course must be wound up in a ball, so that the pupil must unroll the whole ball, before he comes to the part he wants. A chapter of the Testament makes a ball as large as an eighteen pound shot; and the whole bible would require a store room as large as a church.
The reviewer, who appears intimately acquainted with the subject, after declaring all the existing systems of instruction now in use for educating the young blind, proceeds to lay down some general principles, which should properly form the ground work of any system that is calculated to produce the desired effect. The grand objectionable point which is to be got rid of in the present method, is the clumsy size, and the consequent superfluity of expense to which it gives rise. It is therefore essential that these three principles should form the foundation of any system in future to be carried into operation, namely,
1. To make the letters differ from each other as much as possible. 2. To adapt those figures or shapes which most resemble each other, to letters which do not often come together in writing, as for example, P. and Q.
3. To express, by signs of the smallest possible dimensions, those letters which are of most frequent recurrence, such as the vowels, or, at least, the major part of them.
Another great point to be attended to in the education of the blind, is one that happens to be strikingly illustrated in a negative way in the institution at Paris. There, there is no distinction made in accordance with the various dispositions and tendencies of the inmates. If, for instance, a boy were tried at different pursuits, say in mathematics, in mechanics, in music, or in any other branch, he
might show an aptitude for one of them in preference to the rest, and it is obvious in such a case that if this boy were brought up to the particular art, he would at once have a security for subsistence during his life. But no arrangement like this is known either in Paris or in any other European institution for the blind; every boy is taught the same thing, and many of them came out with a very fair knowledge of several branches of art, but not with a sufficient acquaintance with any one avocation to enable them to turn it to proper advantage. At Paris, the custom is for the whole of the pupils to study for a certain number of hours each day, then to work a certain number, and to give the remainder to music. This routine, is invariable no matter, what are the tastes, capabilities, and predilections of the pupils. The time of these boys is frittered away by an extremely minute subdivision; they give half an hour to one study,--and then they are called away by the bell to another class-room, whence, after losing fifteen minutes in arranging them, selves, and fixing their minds upon the subject, they are summoned in less than an hour to a third, and to a fourth. Another great fault is, that they all devote five hours a day to handicraft work; now, this is a great deal too much for a blind man whose object is intellectual education, and it is far too little for one who means to live by the labour of his hands. But what is worse than this, they are obliged to try to learn so many different kinds of work, that they succeed in none; they devote a few months, or a year, to making whips, another similar term to weaving, a third to net-making, and a fourth to braiding; so that, in learning how to hraid, a boy forgets how to weave. Now if men, with all their senses, must give their undivided attention for seven years in order to learn any art or trade, how much more necessary is it for a blind man so to do?
It is with regret we hear from an experienced authority, that the Institution at Paris for the Blind is the centre of a system of illiberality of mystery and quackery, such as reflects disgrace on so enlightened and otherwise so generous a country. There is a ridiculous attempt at mystery,-- an effort at show and parade, which injures the establishment in the minds of men of sense. Instead of throwing wide open the door of knowledge, and inviting the scrutiny and the suggestions of every friend of humanity, the process of education is not explained, and the method of constructing some of the apparatus is absolutely kept a secret! The same spirit leads to ungenerous treatment of those pupils who leave the institution, who cannot procure the books which are for sale there without paying an enormous advance on the cost,—while those who remain, be their age or character what they may, are not allowed to go into the city to give lessons in music, the languages, or in any thing else. Some of them study the English language secretly in their leisure hours, because those having the direction of the establishment had in their wisdom discovered, that it was an improper study for the blind!
The Institutions for the Blind in other parts of the world vary
Education of the Blind. respectively from that of Paris, of which we have just spoken. Those of St. Petersburgh and of Amsterdam no longer retain the system of education, and are no more than so many asylums for the blind, who spend a passive existence within them. Political agitations have hindered the progress of all civil and domestic arrangements in Spain; therefore, we shall not be surprised to find that the Institution for the Blind established in Madrid has fallen to the ground. In the establishment at Berlin, which is under the superintendance of a scientific man, Professor Zeun, the inmates seem to be better off for skilful management than in most others; and it is the experience of the learned gentleman just mentioned, that the blind, when educated, form the very best instructors of the ignorant blind.
In England we have not at all acted upon the belief that the blind can be instructed, or that there would be any advantage in instructing them. In the Institution, which is situated at the bottom of the London Road, in Southwark, nothing but handicraft and music are taught; and no doubt a considerable sum is yearly obtained by the sale of baskets, &c. But then, no sufficient attempt is made to diminish the grand impediment under which they labour, and no substitutes for books are employed by them. This, in fact, with some slight exceptions, is the principle of all our institutions connected with the care of the blind. And yet a little consideration will show that even on our own principles we ought to change the system altogether. What should be our great object in any arrangement for aiding the blind? Would it not be to place in their hands as much moral power as is possible, of a nature that does not require the advantages of the organ of sight? Is handicraft-is shoe-making—is any mechanical trade properly understood, when it is considered as most proper blind man? We answer, that it is not because each of these callings is essentially an art connected with external appearance, and therefore best left to those who possess the power of vision; but, on the other hand, how many important pursuits may be considered as exclusively under the jurisdiction of the other four senses, and the general intelligent power, which does not require an immediate sense at all in its operations. Music, for example, exclusively belongs to the organ of hearing, and is assisted, to a very small comparative degree, by the sight. What is more proper, then, than that the blind should be generally educated to that profession, unless where some insurmountable obstacle exists against it? Languages again do not necessarily require any subsidies from the eyes, and the same may be said of the mathematics and arithmetic. How far better off would a blind man be, whose mind was stored with the knowledge which it might easily attain, than he, who, during his early years, is devoted to the manual labour, such as making carpets, baskets, &c. Thus, in the Asylum in Southwark, the blind boys are taught to make shoes; but then
send one of them out to work for himself, and he cannot earn under the most favourable circumstances, any thing like half the wages of a common shoe-maker. The general conclusion to which these remarks inevitably lead, is this, that manual labour should not be resorted to as an employment for the blind, except in ose cases in which a fair trial has been made of their qualifications for a pursuit better adapted to the mutilated condition of
Amongst the works to which the reader is referred as worthy of his attention, supposing him to be interested in the education of the blind, that of Rodenbach, published at Brussels, is by far the most curious. The author is, or was lately, a member of the Belgian Chamber of Deputies, and, we may add, one of the most zealous and able on the patriotic side of the house; he was deprived, at an early age, of the faculty of sight, and became a pupil of the Abbe Hauy; the result of whose care has been since so splendidly attested in the person of M. Rodenbach. The title of his book in English, is "A Glance by a Blind Man at the Condition of the Deaf and Dumb Man.”
The most intersting chapter is that on the comparative situation of the blind and the dumb. Is it a greater misfortune to be blind or to be deaf? It is as remarkable as fortunate, that each class decides this question in its own favour; but it appears to us evident, that abundant reasons might be given why blindness is the less evil, were this not rendered unnecessary by the well-known fact, that the blind are generally much more happy and contented with their lot than the deaf. We would recommend this book to those engaged in the education of the deaf and dumb; they will find in it some proofs of the imperfection of the system in common use,-some allusions to the quackery that has been imposed upon the world, and from which the Abbé de l'Epée was not entirely free. We fully agree with Mr. Rodenbach on the importance of teaching the deaf to articulate sounds, and we are sorry that this plan has been abandoned in the Hartford school, -which (otherwise) is one of the best in the world. We have known deaf persons in Germany, who could express their thoughts by articulate sounds, so as very easily to be comprehended by any one; and when we reflect that the world will not learn their system of signs, and that they are often placed in situations where they cannot write, it becomes to them a matter of moment to make themselves understood by speech.
While on the subject of the deaf, we may observe that, strong as are their claims upon humanity, those of the blind are still stronger; for the blind are much more dependent, a deaf boy can learn any kind of handicraft work or trade, while a blind one can learn nothing, without a system of education entirely adapted to his situation.
The efforts of human ingenuity to overcome the obstacles which accident has placed in his way, are no where more visible, than in