Page images


fellow-creatures, who showed that they only wanted our assistance, to take their place among the useful members of the community, instead of being a burden on it. A liberal appropriation was made by the state legislature ; and Mr. Thomas H. Perkins made a munificent grant of his own noble mansion, contingent on a contribution of fifty thousand dollars, to be raised by private subscription. The people of Boston answered the call with their characteristic spirit; and, in a few weeks, an institution, which was without patronage, without funds or prospects, saw itself, by the conviction, produced on the public mind, of its utility, in a situation for diffusing as extensive and important benefits, as almost any other in the country. The whole story is highly creditable, as we have said, to a community, which, cautious in embarking in doubtful experiments, showed that it could enter earnestly and effectually into so important a plan of benevolence, as soon as its practicability was proved.

The management of the Institution has been distinguished by a wise forecast, which has turned the bounty of the public to the best account. Instead of hoarding up its funds, it has employed them in providing accommodations for a thorough system of instruction, confiding in the belief that the same enlightened spirit, which supplied the means for commencing the work, would continue to cherish it, as it became evident that its sphere of usefulness could be more and more widely extended. Under this system, the appropriation of the State has been uniformly expended in the maintenance of pupils, much beyond the number required of the Asyluin to support. The most thorough apparatus has been provided for education, not only in mechanical occupations, but in the higher departments of mental cultivation. Music, and mathematical science, for both of which the blind discover peculiar aptitude, have been taught with the greatest thoroughness; and the result has been, to qualify those, who seemed cut off by natural infirmity from the ways of men, for the various duties of active life, and for occupying their own lonely hours in a manner both pleasing and profitable to themselves. These results are not overstated. Numbers of those, who have been in the Institution, and who before were supported by their families or towns, have returned home, with the means of earning their livelihood wholly, or with very little aid. It is needless to expatiate on the blessed consequences to the unfortunate individuals, as well as to society at large, from such results. Surely, never did the bounty of the public meet with a richer or speedier return.

The Institution is now removed to the neighbourhood of

Boston, to an airy and elevated position, with ample grounds around it, and a building sufficiently spacious for the present and prospective demands of the establishment. The change was rendered necessary by the increase of the school, whose numbers would soon have been restricted by the confined quarters of the city, and who are obviously every way better accommodated in the open country, and with more personal safety, than they could be amidst the crowds of a bustling metropolis. The resources of the Asylum have been so largely drained by the various arrangements, as to be now barely adequate to its immediate wants ; while it is straitened in some departments, where, if it had the means, it might accomplish a great good. This is particularly the case in regard to its printing, in which its sagacious director, Dr. Howe, – to whom the school is under obligations, not to be estimated by money, has made such improvements as to have attracted much attention, as well as imitation, on the other side of the water. His labors, in this department, may be said, indeed, to have given sight to the blind ; and we can only regret that the want of funds should limit the means of extending those blessings, so freely enjoyed by the poorest who can see, to those of our unfortunate brethren who cannot. But there can be little doubt, that a community, who have the interests of education as much at heart as any other people in the world, will be alive to them in the present instance, where they are connected with circumstances more touching than ordinary.

But our remarks are running to a greater length than we intended. We shall content ourselves with making a single extract, and with recommending the Report itself to the careful perusal of all who take an interest in the welfare and improvement of their fellow-creatures.

The Appendix to the Report contains, among other things, highly interesting details respecting a pupil, named Laura Bridgman, who was placed in the school, some two or three years since, with scarcely an idea ‘in her mind, — for she is deprived, and has been so ever since she was little more than a year old, of every sense, save that of touch. The power of communicating knowledge, through this single channel, — the solitary thread, by which she is connected with humanity, - is one of the most remarkable and interesting phenomena in the history of mind. The full description, in the Appendix, of the course pursued with her, and of its marvellous results, is so long that we are compelled to deny ourselves the satisfaction of laying it before our readers. The account given of her in the body of the Report, is as follows;

“ There is one whose situation is so peculiar, and whose case is so interesting in a philosopbical point of view, that we cannot forbear making particular mention of it; we allude to Laura Bridgman, the deaf, dumb, and blind girl, mentioned in the two last Reports.

“ The intellectual improvement of this interesting being, and the progress she has made in expressing her ideas, are truly gratifying.

“She uses the manual alphabet of the deaf mutes, with great facility and great rapidity ; she has increased her vocabulary so as to comprehend the names of all common objects; she uses adjectives expressive of positive qualities, such as hard, soft, sweet, sour, &c.; verbs expressive of action, as give, take, ride, run, &c., in the present, past, and future tense; she connects adjectives with nouns to express their qualities; she introduces verbs into sentences and connects them by conjunctions; for instance, a gentleman having given her an apple, she said, Man give Laura sweet apple.

“She can count to high numbers; she can add and subtract small numbers.

“ But the most gratifying acquirement which she has made, and the one which has given her the most delight, is the power of writing a legible hand, and expressing her thoughts upon paper; she writes with a pencil in a grooved line, and makes her letters clear and distinct.

" She was sadly puzzled at first to know the meaning of the process to which she was subjected; but, when the idea dawned upon her mind, that by means of it she could convey intelligence to her mother, her delight was unbounded. She applied herself with great diligence, and in a few months actually wrote a legible letter to her mother, in which she conveyed information of her being well, and of her coming home in ten weeks. It was indeed, only the skeleton of a letter, but still it expressed in legible characters a vague outline of the ideas which were passing in her mind. She was very impatient to have the man carry this letter, for she supposed that the utmost limit of the Post Office Department was to employ a man to run backward and forward between our Institution and the different towns where the pupils live, to fetch and carry letters. We subjoin to this Report an exact fac simile of Laura's writing, observing that she was not prompted to ihe matter, and that her hand was not held in the execution; the matter is quite original, and the chirography is entirely her own.

“She has improved very much in personal appearance as well as in intellect; her countenance beams with intelligence; she is always active at study, work, or play; she never repines, and most of the time is gay and frolicsome.

" She is now very expert with her needle, she knits very easily, and can make twine bags and various fancy articles very prettily. She is very docile, has a quick sense of propriety, dresses herself with great neatness, and is always correct in her deportment. In short, it would be difficult to find a child in the possession of all her senses, and the enjoyment of the advantages that wealth and parental love can bestow, who is more contented and cheerful, or to whom existence seems a greater blessing than it does to this bereaved creature, for whom the suv has no light, the air no sound, and the flowers no color or smell."

pp. 8 - 10

3.- Topographical Description and Historical Sketch of Plain

field, in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, May, 1834. By Jacob PORTER. Greenfield. 1834. 8vo.



From this pamphlet, which, though not lately published, has but recently fallen into our hands, it appears, that Plainfield, at the northwest corner of Hampshire County, Massachusetts, on the eastern side of the Green Mountain range (incorporated in 1807), has geological features of some interest. Some strata (mica and talcose slate) the author says, are “ turned up, so that their inclination is perpendicular,” an effect which he ascribes to "the general deluge." A variety of minerals occur, some of which are prized by collectors. The writer thinks, that gold will probably be found in the beds of talcose slate, which occupy a large portion of the town, it having been discovered, in the same range, in Vermont. But as long as the good people of Plainfield, being short of one thousand, can, in addition to woollen fabrics, manufacture fortyeight thousand palm-leaf hats, in one year, valued at eight thousand nine hundred dollars ; turn shoe-lasts and broom-handles by means of an “improved machine " ; raise Indian corn, wheat, and other grains, to which, it seems, their soil is adapted, to say nothing of the sugar-maple and potatoes; and, besides, pasture some four thousand sheep ; they will do well, we think, to seek gold elsewhere than in the bowels of their mountains, - though, as to the probability (the author puts the question) of a profitable manufacture of "molasses” from "potatoes,” which grow there of excellent quality," we must demur a little.

We are not disposed to question what the writer asserts, that “walking in the woods is extremely delightful, especially in the spring ; ” and we can readily believe him, when he says, that he “has enjoyed many a ramble through the grove, and over

• The craggy hill, where rocks, with wild flowers crowned,
Burst from the shady copse and verdant ground;
Where sportive nature every form assumes,

And, sweetly lavish, spreads a thousand blooms.'' The author is fond of quoting poetry, and so are we. But to get back to sober prose, which, for the present, is needful, Plainfield will not suffer from a comparison with other towns in the interior of the Commonwealth, in regard to its efforts in the cause of education. In this connexion, the Rev. Moses

- p. 10.

Hallock, the first minister of the place, deserves honorable mention. The labors of such men are not always estimated at their full worth. To their patient and humble toils, to the direction they succeed in giving to the youthsul mind, and the ardor of truth and knowledge they inspire, the world is often more indebted than it is aware. Among the pupils of Mr. Hallock, we find the names of several individuals since extensively known to the public. The poet Bryant is one.

In conclusion, we can truly say, that the pamphlet has interested us in the reading ; and, though it betrays some marks of carelessness, it contains many facts which are worth being known and preserved. Such sketches of local history show the working of our free institutions, and the elements of our growth and prosperity. In a statistical view, they are too valuable to be dispensed with.

4. — An Historical Discourse, delivered at the Celebration of

the Second Centennial Anniversary of the First Baptist Church, in Providence, November 7th, 1839. By WilLIAM Hague, Pastor of the Church. Providence. 1839. 12mo.

pp. 192.

The Discourse of Mr. Hague, though not remarkably rich in original materials, holds a worthy place among the productions called forth by similar occasions at the present day. The subject, as the author could not but be aware, presents some points of great interest, and, as was proper, he has dwelt upon them at considerable length. Treating of the first Baptist Church in America, founded, too, by Roger Willians and his associates, he would very naturally be led to say something of those principles of the soul's freedom, which found so strenuous an advocate in that pure-minded man, in many respects in advance of his age. We are not disposed to complain of the Jength to which he has extended his inquiries and remarks on this subject, disproportionate as the space given to it may at first view seern. By many, this will be regarded as the most interesting portion of the performance.

Mr. Hague is at some pains to show, that Roger Williams was not the discoverer of those great “moral truths,” which animated and solaced him in all his wanderings and labors, and which he embodied in the polity of his new Commonwealth.

VOL. L. No. 107.


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »