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Full text of "An essay on the education of the blind; (Dedicated to the King of France), Paris, 1786"

II IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIMIMlliittniHiiii 

\ba6 mllMMM 




RE-PRINT, 1894 




AN 


ESSAY 




ON 


THE EDUCATION 


' 


OF 


THE 


BT.IND 


M. 

i 


BY 

HAUY 


(DEDICATED TO 


THE KING OF FRANCE) 




PARIS, 1786 




LONDON 


SAMPSON LOW, 


MARSTON & COMPANY 




LIMITED 


5t. 


Qunstan's IQause 


Fetter Lane, Fleet Street, E.C. 




1894 



v 

[TITLE PAGE TO VOLUME] '<^ 



POEMS 



BY THE LATE REVEREND 



DR. THOMAS BLACKLOCK; 



TOGETHER WITH 



AN ESSAY ON THE EDUCATION OF THE BLIND 

By M. HAUY. 



TO WHICH IS PREFIXED 



A New Account of the Life and Writings 
of the Author, 

By Mr. Mackenzie, Author of the Man of Feeling, &c 



EDINBURGH: 

Printed by Alexander Chapman and Company ; 

Sold by W. Creech, Edinburgh, and T. Cadell, London. 

MDCCXCIII. 



1894 

Some Books and Papers 
about the Blind 

REPRINTED BY 

Messrs. SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON & COMPANY 

LIMITED 

Scti. l)uttstan's ^ousc 
FETTER LANE, FLEET STREET, LONDON 



1774 

THE EDUCATION OF THE BLIND. A LETTER 
IN THE EDINBURGH MAGAZINE and REVIEW 
for NOVEMBER, 1774. Price Is. 

1793 
TRANSLATION OF AN ESSAY ON 

THE EDUCATION OF THE BLIND by M. Haijy. 
Dedicated to the King of France in 1736. Price Is. 

1801 
HINTS TO PR0M3TB BENEFICENCE, &c., by 

Dr. LETTSOiM, with an account of the Blind Asylum at 
Liverpool. Price Is. 

1819 
TRANSLATION OP AN ESSAY ON 

THE INSTRUCTION AND AMUSEMENTS OF 
THE BLIND by Dr. Guillie. Published in Paris, 1817. 
Illustrated, 5s. 

1837 
RECENT DISCOVERIES FOR FACILITATING 

THE EDUCATION OF THE BLIND. 

By James Gall, of Edinburgh. Illustrated. Price 2s. 

1842 
THE EDUCATION, EMPLOYMENTS, &c., AT 

THE ASYLUM FOR THE BLIND, GLASGOW. 
By John Alston. Illustrated. Price 2s. 

1861 
TRANSLATION BY REV. W. TAYLOR OF 

THE MANAGEMENT AND EDUCATION OF 
THE BLIND. By J. G. Knie, of Breslau. Price Is. 



^"^TZX^ 



'^^^ 



[PAGE 217.] 



AN ESSAY 



ON THE 



EDUCATION OF THE BLIND 

OR, 

An Explication of the different Means, confirmed by successful 
Experiments, to render them capable of Eeading by the As- 
sistance of Touch, and of printing Books, in which they may 
obtain the Knowledge of Languages, of History, of Gleography, 
of Music, &c., of performing the different Offices necessary in 
mechanical Employments, &c. 



DEDICATED TO THE KING, 

BY 

M. HAUY, 

Interpreter to his Majesty, the Admiralty of France, and the 
Hotel de Ville, of the City of Paris ; Member and Professor 
of the Academical Office for Writing, in which Ancient and 
Foreign Characters are taught to be read and ascertained. 



PARIS: 

Printed in the Original by Blind Children, under the Superin- 
tendence of M. Clousier, Printer to the King, and sold for their 
Benefit at the House where they are educated, in the Street 
called Rue Notre Dame des Victoires, 

MDCCLXXXVr. 

Under the Patronage of the Academy of Sciences. 



397215 



[PAGE 219.] 



To THE KING OF FRANCE. 



Sire, 

The Protection with which your Majesty honours dis- 
tinguished Talents ascertains your Claim to their Reverence and 
Respect. But when their Productions have a Tendency to console 
the Miseries of suffering Humanity, they have still a more 
powerful Title to attract the attention of Louis the Beneficent. 
It was under tlie influence of Sentiments inspired by a Title so 
amiable, which is deeply engraven on all the Hearts of France, 
that I conceived the desire of presenting to your Majesty the 
Fruits of my Labours ; if they have any Yalue, they will owe ifc 
to the double Advantage of appearing under a Patronage so august, 
and of becoming Vehicles to the Bounty expected from their 
Sovereign by the Young and unhappy, who have been early 
deprived of the Benefit of Light with all its numerous and 
important Resources. 

I am, 

"With the profoundest respect, 

f 

Sire, 
Your Majesty's most humble, 
most obedient 
and most faithful subject and Servant, 

HAtlY. 



[PAGE 221.] 



PREFACE 



Amongst the unfortunate, who have been deprived, whether from 
the instant of their birth, or by some early accident in the course 
of their lives, of that organ which most sensibly contributes to our 
enjoyment of the delights and advantages arising from society, 
there have been found some who, by the pregnancy of their genius, 
and the force and perseverance of its exertions, have found out for 
themselves certain employments, which they were able to execute, 
and by these pursuits have proved successful in alleviating the 
miseries of a situation, in itself so afflicting. Some of them, full 
of penetration, have enriched their memories with productions of 
genius, and have imbibed from the charms of conversation or from 
reading, at which they were happily present, knowledge of a 
nature and extent which it was impossible for them either ta 
acquire or collect from their own internal resources alone, or 
from the precious repositories in which it was confined. Others, 
endued with a dexterity, which might do honour to the most 
enlightened artist, have performed mechanical tasks with an 
exactness, neatness, and symmetry, which could only have been 
expected from hands informed and regulated by the advantage of 
sight. But in spite of these happy dispositions in the blind, these 
marvellous exhibitions, which ought rather to be called prodigies, 
than natural events, could only be, in the persons by whom they 
were displayed, the slow results of indefatigable industry and 
obstinate application, and seemed alone to have been reserved for a 



PREFACE. 



small number amongst them, who were peculiarly prerogatived by 
nature, whilst the rest of their brethren appeared consigned by 
destiny to idleness, languor and dependence, without a possibility 
of escaping from a durance so horrible in its nature, and so 
permanent in its continuance. Thus with respect to all social 
utility and importance, people in these unhappy circumstances 
were to be accounted dead members, even in those societies where 
their existence was protracted, and its exigencies supplied ; and 
the most part of them victims at once to the double calamity of 
blindness and indigence, had no other portion assigned them but 
the miserable and sterile resource of begging, for protracting, if 
we may so speak, in the horrors of a dungeon the moments of a 
painful and burdensome existence. It is to be essentially service- 
able to this class of suffering mortals that I have invented a 
General Plan of Institution, which, by principles and utensils 
proper for their use, might facilitate to some of these what they 
could not otherwise accomplish, without almost insuperable 
difficulty, and render practicable to others, what it appeared 
impossible for them to execute. I felt the difficulty of this 
enterprise in its full extent, that it was too arduous to be per- 
formed by myself alone ; I have therefore been assiduous in my 
researches for support and assistance. Beneficent characters have, 
on aU hands, exerted themselves with ardour, that they might 
co-operate in promoting this labour of love. They have laid 
the foundation of a fabric whose structure wiU at once reflect 
honour on their own hearts and on the age which their lives adorn. 
Each of them indeed, with a laudable emulation, seems to have 
disputed with me for the cordial pleasure of perfecting and 
finishing a monument so congenial and so grateful to humanity ; 
and I confess it with delight, if it was permitted to any to claim 



PREFACE. 

an honour from such an undertaking, it is they more than any one 
else, who have a just claim to that honour. I shall therefore 
avoid, in the sequel of this work, every expression which may 
seem to imply any design of appropriating that merit to myself ; 
and I shall there speak only in the person of those who have 
insured their unalienable right to my gratitude, whether they have 
contributed to the maturity of this plan by the exertions of their 
understanding, or by any other means. 



[PAGE 224.] 



ADVERTISEMENT TO THE FEENCH EDITION. 



The Frontispiece of the Original Work, the Dedication, the 
Preface, this Advertisement, the Notes, the Opinion of the 
Academy of Sciences, and that of the Printers, the Examples 
of the forms of the several operations in printing, which may be 
executed by the blind, and the Table of Contents, have been 
printed by blind children in the typographical characters generally 
used. For what remains of the work, they have employed the 
characters invented for their peculiar use*, the impression of which 
they trace in reading, when the creases, made in the paper by 
the types, are not effaced. 



A specimen has been sent for from Paris, and will be annexed if it can be procured. 



[FADE 2^5] 



AN ESSAY 

ON THE 

EDUCATION OF BLIND CHILDREN. 



CHAP. I. 

The Intention of this Plan. 

Before we give an account of the motives of our institution, let 
us be permitted to say a few words on that readiness which we 
declare ourselves to possess, not only to answer all the objections 
which may be urged against us, but even to enter into a minute 
detail of all the circumstances, whose solution the public have a 
right to expect from us. Though there is scarcely any invention 
which has not, by its novelty, excited the clamour of envy and of 
ignorance, we are bold enough to flatter ourselves that our plan 
has nothing to fear from the malignity of their attacks. The 
nature of our design, the wisdom of the age in which we live, the 
humanity of our countrymen — all these circumstances conspire to 
assure us that we shall only have to resolve, in the sequel of this 
work, such difficulties as may be proposed by a wise and well- 
intended criticism ; a criticism rather designed to favour our 
attempts than to discourage us in their prosecution. It is with 
this hope that we are determined to answer every objection which 
shall appear to us, either as lying against the motives or plan of 
cultivation, which we have proposed for the blind. We will do 
more ; we will endeavour to dissipate in the imagination of our 
readers every prepossession, even in our favour, which may deceive 
those who have not been present at our probationary exhibitions, 
and to whom the too zealous partisans of our plan may have 

A ;3 



10 AN ESSAY ON THE 

represented as marvellous and unaccountable, such circumstances 
as are its natural and proper effects. In offering thus a faithful 
delineation of our method, considered in its proper point of view, 
it is our intention to leave no impressions on the minds of the 
public with respect to our establishment, but such real and just 
ideas as they ought to entertain : to teach the blind reading, by 
the assistance of books, where the letters are rendered palpable by 
their elevation above the surface of the paper, and by means of 
this reading to instruct them in the art of printing, of writing, 
of arithmetic, the languages, history, geography, mathematics, 
music, &c., to put in the hands of these unfortunate people such 
arts and occupations as are merely mechanical ; spinning, for 
instance, knitting, bookbinding, &c. From such an institution 
two objects are in view, both of which benevolent men will own 
to be of importance. 

Firsts to employ those among them who are in easy circum- 
stances in an agreeable manner. Secondly, to rescue from the 
miseries of beggary those to whom fortune has been parsimonious 
of her favours, by putting the means of subsistence in their 
power ; and, in short, to render useful to society their hands, as 
well as those of their guides. 

Such is the end pursued by our institutions. 



CHAP. II. 
Ansicer to the Oljection against the Utilitij of this Plan, 

The public has done us the justice unanimously to agree that we 
have accomplished the first object of our institution in presenting 
an amusement to the blind who share the bounties of fortune, 
and if any doubt have arisen it can only be concerning the possi- 
bility of realising the hopes which we have given of blending in 
our establishment the useful with the agreeable. ^In teaching 
your blind," say the objectors, " all the parts of education which 
" you propose, can you have conceived the project of peopling the 
" republic of letters and arts with men of learning, professors, and 



EDUCATION OF BLIND CHILDREN. 11 

" artists, each of whom, though blind, shall be capable of making 
" a distinguished figure in these conspicuous departments, or can 
" they even be certain of deriving the means of subsistence each 
" fi'om the labours of his own vocation ?" No, we never pretend 
that those of the blind who even discover the most shining parts 
shall enter into competition, either in the liberal sciences or 
mechanical arts, with scholars or artisans who are blessed with 
the use of sight, even when their talents rise not above medio- 
crity ; but when any or all of these provinces are not properly 
supplied with persons who to the advantage of sight add pro- 
fessional abilities, the blind may then exert their powers, whether 
natural or acquired, as well in promoting private as public utility; 
and in this view it requires no mighty effort of courage to recom- 
mend them to the public benevolence and attention ; and though 
their talents should not be sufficient to pre-engage the general 
taste in their favour, or the necessity of employing them, so 
considerable as to open a resource for their exigencies, yet the 
force of humanity alone may be adequate to produce an effect so 
desirable. How often have we already seen beneficence ingenious 
in prescribing tasks to these unhappy labourers, that it might 
have an opportunity of supplying their indigence without 
wounding- their delicacy. This is what at first occurs as an 
answer to the objection urged against the general utility of our 
plan, till our readers be convinced by a detail of this work, and 
still more effectually by exparience, to what degree our scheme of 
education may be carried, and how essentially it may contribute 
to the subsistence of those among the blind who are born in the 
depth of want and obscurity. 



CHAP. III. 

Of Reading^ as adapted to the Practice of the Blind, 

Reading is the only method of adorning the memory, so that it 
may command the stores which it has imbibed with facility, 
promptitude, and method. It is, as it were, the channel through 
which every different kind of knowledge is communicated to us. 

A 4 



12 AN ESSAY ON THE 

Without this medium literary productions could form nothing in 
the human mind but a confused heap of disarranged and fluctu- 
ating ideas. To teach the blind, therefore, to read, and to form 
a library proper for their use, must constitute the object of our 
first care. Before our time various but ineffectual experiments 
had been tried ; sometimes by the assistance of characters moving 
upon a board and raised above its surface (a) ; at other times by 
the use of letters formed upon paper with the puncture of a pin (b), 
the principles or elementary characters of reading had been 
rendered obvious to the perception of the blind. Already had 
the wonders of the art of writing, which before had appeared 
chimerical, been realised. Already, under their touch, which was 
now found a substitute for vision, had the conceptions of the 
blind assumed a body. But these gross and imperfect utensils 
only presented to the bhnd the possibility of attaining and 
enjoying the pleasures and advantages of reading without 
affording them the proper means for acquiring them. "We had 
no difficulty in exploring them ; their principles had existed for 
a long time, and were daily exhibited to our eyes. We had 
observed that a printed leaf issuing from the press presented to 
the eye, on the contrary side, the letters higher than its surface, 
but reversed both in their position and in their order. 

We ordered typographical characters to be cast of the form in 
which their impression strikes our eyes, and by applying to these 
a paper wet, as the printers do, we produced the first exemplar 
which had till then appeared of letters whose elevation renders 
them obvious to the touch without the intervention of sight. 
Such was the origin of a library for the use of the blind. 

After having successively employed characters of different sizes, 
according as we found the touch of our pupils more or less delicate 
and susceptible, it appeared proper to us, at least during the first 



(a) It is without doubt, by these means that the blind man of Puiseaux, of whom 
M. Diderot speaks in his letter on the blind, p. 8, taught his son to read. 

(b) We have seen some words thus marked by punctures upon cards in the hands of 
Mile. Paradis. This virtuosa is 20 years of age ; she was born in Vienna in Austria, the 
place of her ordinary residence. A kind of apoplexy deprived her suddenly of her sight, 
at the age of two years. She has principally applied herself to music, and constituted in 
1784, at Paris, the chief pleasures of the spiritual concert. 



EDUCATION OF BLIND CHILDREN. 13 

periods of our progress, to confine ourselves to that type which 
has been used in printing the greatest part of this work. This 
character appears to us as a proper medium amongst those which 
can be felt and distinguished by different individuals who are 
deprived of sight, according to the various degrees of tactile nicety 
with which nature has endued them ; or at least according to the 
degrees of sensibility which diversities of age or occupation may 
have left them. It will be easily conceived, that when these 
means are found, there is no more difficulty in teaching a blind 
person the principles of reading, than in teaching one, whose visual 
powers are in their highest perfection, and that the blind may pass 
by an easy transition from the perception of typographical to that 
of written characters. "We do not here speak of characters written 
in the manner of those who see ; for all our endeavours to form 
characters rising to the touch by the assistance of ink have proved 
abortive. "We have therefore substituted in their place impressions 
made upoti strong paper, with an iron pen, whose point is not slit. 
It is unnecessary to mention, that in writing to the blind we do 
not make use of ink, that the character is deeply impressed, 
distinctly separated, a little larger than common, and nearly of the 
same kind with those now in the hands of our reader ; that, in 
short, we never write but on the side of the paper contrary to that 
which is read, and in such a mariner that the position and order 
of the letters may appear proper when the page is turned. These 
precautions being scrupulously observed, the blind may read 
tolerably letters from their correspondents who see, those formed 
by their own hands, or by the hands of others in similar circum- 
stances (c). They will do more, they will equally distinguish, on 
the same paper, musical characters and others rendered sensible 
by our method of procedure, as we shall immediately shew in the 
sequel. 



(c) M. Weissenbourg, a boy dwelling at Manheim, having become blind between the 
seventh and eighth year of his age, celebrated for the knowledge which he has acquired, has 
preserved the faculty of writing ; but this advantage, wliich is only an object of curiosity, 
win become of real utility, if, as we hope, he adopts our method. 



14 AN ESSAY OX THE 



CHAP. IV. 



Answer to various Oljections against the Method of Reading 
pro;posed for the Blind. 

1. " The elevation of your charaters will doubtless be very soon 
" depressed," says an objector, " and of consequence no longer per- 
" ceptible to the blind by touch." No person is ignorant of the 
acuteness of that sense in several individuals, who from their 
infancy have been obliged to use it, in order to supply the want of 
that which nature has denied them. A surface which appears the 
smoothest to our eye, presents to the fingers of the blind in- 
equalities which escape the notice of that organ, though by its 
assistance those who see exult in being able to perceive the 
remotest stars that adorn the spacious concave of heaven ; and 
when our pupils distinguish a typographical character by feehng, 
which may elude even a microscopic eye, when between the thick- 
ness of two given objects, if the one differs from the other only 
by the fourth part of a French line, they can clearly perceive that 
difference ; when, in short, they read a series of words, after the 
elevation of the letters is depressed, what have we to fear from 
the frequent use of their books, except the absolute destruction of 
the volumes themselves, a misfortune to which those who see are 
equally liable ? 

2. " Your books," it is objected, " are too voluminous. You 
" swell a 12mo to the enormous and unwieldy size of a folio ; and 
" by thus altering its convenient form, you render it less portable 
" and useful." We might satisfy ourselves with answering to this 
objection that our art of printing is yet in its infancy, but pro- 
gressive, and may perhaps one day become perfect, as that which 
is obvious to the sight has already done ; that it may likewise have 
its Elzevirs, its Barbous, its Peters, its Didot, &c. And since its 
commencement, how many and how important are the obligations 
which it already owes to M. Clousier, printer to the King, who 
assists us by his advice with as mucji zeal as disinterestedness, 



EDUCATION OF BLIND CHILDREN. 15 

We add that during the interval between its present and its 
more perfect state we are employed in adapting a method of 
epitomising, which will considerably diminish the size of our 
volumes. Of this we hope to give the first specimen in a work 
which will be immediately printed after this is finished (d). 
Besides, we will make a selection of authors, nor shall any one 
enter into om* press but such works as by their reputation have 
merited that distinction ; so that on one hand, if by the magni- 
tude of our characters we enlarge our volumes, on the other we 
shall lessen them by a judicious abridgement ; and perhaps one 
day the library of the blind may become the library of taste and 
learning. 

3. " But confess, then, that your blind scholars read slowly, and 
" that the spirit of the most animated composition will evaporate 
" beneath their fingers, while the words are languidly pronounced 
" without energy and without emotion." Our pupils, it is true, 
read in slow succession ; besides the little practice, which an insti- 
tution so lately begun allows them in reading, they have the 
disadvantage of only perceiving one letter at once, as readers who 
see themselves must do, were their eyes obliged to traverse an 
opening between each letter equal to the space occupied by one 
typographical character in this work. 

But we hope that after frequent practice in reading and in 
making use of the abbreviations we have mentioned above, our 
blind pupils will proceed with greater quickness. Besides, we 
have never entertained the ambition of qualifying them to be 
readers for princes, or to declaim in public with all the graces of 
oratory. Let them only, by means of reading, learn the elements 
of science ; let them find in this exercise an effectual remedy 
against that intolerable melancholy which corporeal darkness and 
mental inactivity united in the same person are too apt to pro- 
duce ; these ends attained, will fully accomplish om- wishes. 

4. " But what good purpose will it serve to teach the blind the 
" letters ? Why instruct them in the art of printing books for 



[d) Examples of these abbreviations, within the capacity and reach of aU readers, are 
in the Treatises of Philosophy, in the Dictionaries, the new Methods and other Elementary 
Books of Education. 



16 AN ESSAY ON THE 

" their peculiar use ? They never will be able to read ours. And, 
" from the knowledge which they will acquire by reading, will 
" any considerable advantage result to society ? " Permit us, in 
our turn, to ask you, To what purpose is it that books are 
printed amongst all the people who surround us, and exclusively 
intended for the peculiar use of each ? Do you read the 
language of the Chinese, that of Malabar, or of Turkey ? Can 
you interpret the Peruvian Quipos, and so many other tongues 
indispensably necessary to those who understand them ? Should 
you then be transported to China, to the Banks of the Ganges, to 
the Ottoman Empire, or to Peru, you will there be precisely in 
the same predicament with one of our blind pupils. With regard 
to the utility which the knowledge of a blind man in reading 
may produce to society, without deviating from the sentiment 
expressed near the end of the following page of this work, we 
may wdth pleasure appeal for its reality to the experiment so 
often repeated under our own eyes, and of which the public itself 
has been a witness in our exhibitions ; w^e mean the experiment 
of a blind child teaching one who saw to read {e). We appeal 
for its reality to the example of the blind person at Puiseaux (/). 
We appeal to you, in short, ye tender and respectable parents, 
born to a liberal share of fortune's favours, whose son is just 
entered into the world, but shall never see the light of heaven ; 
what a sensible satisfaction it is to us to find ourselves in a 
capacity to alleviate the transports of your grief ! Yes, our plan 
of education bids fair on one hand to restore to your son, already 
tenderly loved, the dearest prerogative of intellectual existence ; 
on the other to furnish you with the means of gratifying those 
desires with which your taste for learning and genius inspires 
you, to procure him an education worthy of a child born in a 
distinguished rank. And you men of learning, who enlighten 

(e) According to the propopal made in advertisements, annunciations and various 
intimations on the 3rd of December, 1786, page 3204, in the lirst article of demands, on the 
5th of the same month we caused one of our blind to begin tejiching a child who saw, to 
read. During the lessons, the master had beneath his fingers a white book printed in 
relievo for the blind, whilst the other had under his eyes the same edition in black. This 
child gave, for the tirst time, proofs of his advancement in the exercises performed by the 
blind at Versaillas during the Christmas holidays in the same year. 

(f)1 his blind person, as we have said before, Note (a), p. 12, gave to his son lessons 
in reading. 



EDUCATION OF BLIND CHILDREN. 17 

US by your exertion of corporeal sight, if the fatigues of unre- 
mitted labour for our instruction should one day extinguish that 
organ, permit us at that unhappy crisis to offer you the means at 
once of continuing the benefit of your lessons to us, and to you 
the enjoyment of an advantage of which they are in some 
measure the agreeable fruits. Homer, Belisarius, and Milton, 
afilicted with blindness, would with pleasure have consecrated to 
the service of their country those years of their lives which 
followed that catastrophe. 

CHAP. y. 

Of the Art of Printing^ as pi^actised ly the Blind for their 
peculiar Use. 

The analogy which the manner of reading adapted to the blind 
has with their method of printing, having reduced us to the 
necessity of giving by anticipation, in detail, some circumstances 
which relate to the origin of their art of printing, it remains for 
us to explain the principal operations of that art, as adapted to 
their practice. It will be much the same case with respect to 
the mechanical operations of printing among the blind as with 
those who see. It is doubtless impossible for every individual to 
have an exclusive possession of it {g). The necessity of habitually 
knowing and practising the different branches of that art, the 
multiplicity and high price of the utensils requisite for its exe- 
cution, the civil privileges with which its professors must be 
endued, all these conspiring obstacles limit its pursuit to a society 
of the blind, solely formed and intended for its practice. It is in 
our academy for their education where we hope to constitute the 
chief place (if we may use the expression), from whence will issue 
such typographical productions, for instance, as are proper for 
the use of all the blind who, in their misfortune, shall have the 

{g) One knows how easy it is to abuse printing in aU respects ; and not satisfled with 
the rectitude of our intentions, and the indulgence with which people hare honoured our 
infant printing, the productions of which bear a character of originality easily distinguish- 
able, we have formed to ourselves an inviolable rule not to suflfer anything printed to issue 
from us without the sanction of M. Clousier, printer to the King, and which has not been 
executed under his eyes, or those of some person commissioned by him. 

A 5 



18 AN ESSAY OX THE 

sweet consolation of being born within the dominions of our 
Monarch Qi). Let us proceed to the manner in which our blind 
pupils perform their typographical labours. We have given to 
their cases the order of the alphabet, so as to preserve, immedi- 
ately under their hands, the characters which they shall have 
most frequent occasion to use. We preferred that distribution 
under the apprehension that the blind would be less clever than 
we have really found them. It is upon the same principle that 
we make them set their types in a case lined with a copper 
bottom, and pierced with several lines of small holes, from 
whence, by the assistance of a pointed instrument, they bring out 
the types which are to be changed. It is upon the same prin- 
ciple that we cause to be adjusted, in the inside of these cases, 
iron rulers (moveable by means of their screws), one at the side 
and the other at the bottom of the page, to keep the lines in it 
regular. It is, in short, upon the same principle that we raise 
these cases horizontally in longitude upon four feet, of which the 
two that support the upper end of the page are one-half lower 
than those upon which the under end rests ; so that without 
making use of a composing stick the blind compositor may place 
the words at proper distances, and that they may not be inverted 
whilst he is composing the remainder of the page. 

The way in which the typographical characters of the blind 
present themselves naturally indicates that the arrangement ought 
to be made from left to right, as we have observed chap. 3d. And 
in order to make reading easy to the blind, at least in the first 
periods of their education, it may prove a happy expedient to 
leave spaces between the words, and even sometimes between the 
letters. It is easy to see that when one prints in relievo he 
cannot print on the other side without being in danger of 
destroying the former impression, by tracing which with their 
finger only the blind can read. Likewise, for preserving the pages 
in the same order that they have in books for the use of those 
who see, the blind are obliged to paste together, back to back, by 



[h) Till establishments similar to ours be formed in other nations, it will be a pleasure 
to us to cause to be printed in relievo, and in other languages, by our blind pupils, books 
destined for the use of strangers who are deprived of sight. 



EDUCATION OF BLIND CHILDEEN. 19 

their extremities, the four pages of a sheet coining from the 
press ; and then the arrangement of the cases is made in an order 
different from that of persons who see. Thus the leaves being 
pasted, they form them into books, by simply stitching and 
covering them with pasteboard without beating them. 

The office of the ordinary printing-press is easily done, by help 
of a cylindrical press, which is moved by a lever from one 
extremity to the other, along two bars of iron, between which 
are placed the forms, or pages that are set, after the manner of 
printers (i). 

We may employ with success the same process for printing in 
relievo for the use of the blind, musical characters, geographical 
maps, the principal strokes of designing, and, in general, of all 
the figures of which the knowledge may be obtained by means of 
touch. It is upon account of these last objects, above all, that 
we hope the admirable discovery of M. M. Hoffman will be 
precious to the blind ; we share by anticipation their sentiments 
of gratitude towards those estimable artists (Jc). 

To the press of which we have spoken a little above we have 
thought it proper to add a kind of tympanum, by the assistance 
of which the blind may, at their pleasure, tinge with black, copies 
of an edition perfectly similar to those which they print on white 
paper for their own private use. 

This procedure, which is equally applicable to music, to geo- 
graphical maps, or to designs, &c., puts the blind artist in a 
capacity not only of giving an account to himself of all the 
productions which he wishes to convey to those who see, but 
likewise easily to direct their studies by the similarity of copies, 
on the supposition of his being employed to give them lessons. 

(i) This press is the invention of Sieur Heaucher, chief lock-smith. It has amply and 
successfully accomplished our wishes, as to the facility with which it is managed without 
any great eflTort by a blind child, and by which it admits the mechanism which we have 
adapted to it. We believe, however, that a perpendicular pressure given to the whole leaf 
at the same instant, will leave behind it a more solid impression ; we hope to lind this in 
a press ot another kind, which the Sieur Beaucher has described to us. 

(k) Although in pages 8 and 14 of this work we have not repeated the names of some of 
the distinguished printers whom we have heard celebrated, we cannot forbear to confess 
that according to our manner of thinking, there are many otliers who appear to us to 
exercise their employment with eclat. We even perceive, in those who compose the body 
of this society, a general emulation. And obliged, by the nature of our institution, to serve 
a kind of apprenticesliip to this art, we would quote with pleasure a considerable number 



20 AN ESSAY ON THE 



CHAP. YI. 

On the Art of Printing^ as practised ly the Blind for the Use 
of those who See. 

If we have been happy enough to discover the means of render- 
ing printing useful to the blind for their own use ; if it is to us 
that they owe the advantage of henceforth possessing libraries, 
and of taking from books formed on purpose for themselves, 
notions of letters, of languages, of history, of geography, of 
mathematics, of music, &c. ; we are not the first who dared to 
try to make them impress their ideas upon paper by help of typo- 
graphical characters. "We have seen in the hands of Mademoiselle 
Paradis (/) a letter printed by her in the character called Pica^ 
and in the German language, full of sentiments the most delicate, 
as well as the best expressed. This attempt gave birth in my 
mind to the idea of applying the blind to the art of printing for 
the use of those who see ; it has succeeded with us in every kind of 
work, whether with large or common types, as one may judge by 
the different specimens which they have exhibited, and which are 
to be found at the end of this work, if they can possibly be 
procured. 

After our manner of proceeding, the blind, formed according 
to our institution, compose a typographical plate in imitation of 
these models, with so much more ease as they are almost con- 
tinually of the same form ; it suffices to write for them the 
subject with a pen of iron, of which the top is not split, or with 
the handle of a penknife as we have shewn above in the 3d 
Chapter. 

x\f ter having exercised the blind upon the different branches of 
the art of printing in the manner of those who see, there are 



of well-known productions from diflferent presses which leave no further improvement to 
be wished ; as well for the neatness of the characters, as for the choice of paper, and which 
have served us as models in the study of printing which we had to go through. Besides, 
far from erecting ourselves as judges in opposition to persons who cultivate the arts and 
sciences, whether from situation or taste, we praise even attempts that have not been 
crowned with success.— .See Translation published with " Blacklock's Poems." 

(V) This production was executed by the assistance of a little press, which M. de 
Kempellan, the inventor of the automatic chess-player, had formed for her. 



EDUCATION OF BLIND CHILDREN. 21 

found few kinds in which they have not succeeded. We have 
seen them successively compose, adjust, impress, moisten the 
paper, touch it, print, &c., &c. (m). We appeal, besides, to com- 
petent judges in that affair, and we refer our reader to the report 
of M. M., the printers, which agrees with that of the Academy of 
Sciences. 

CHAP. VII. 
Of Writing. 

The example of Bernouilli, who had taught a young blind girl to 
write, and that of M. Weissenbourg, who, deprived of sight from 
seven years of age, has procured for himself the advantages of 
fixing also his ideas upon paper by writing, have encouraged us to 
try the means of putting the pen into the hands of our pupils. 
But always occupied in our real point of view, that is to say, in 
rendering our institution in every respect useful to those indi- 
viduals who were its objects, we have thought that it could not 
but be curious to cause the blind to write, if they could arrive at 
reading their own hand ; this is what engaged us in causing to 
be made for their use a pen of iron, the top of which was not 
split, and with which writing without ink, and supported with a 
strong paper, they produce upon it a character in relievo which 
they can afterwards read, in passing their fingers along the 
elevated lines on the back of the page. This elevation, however 
slight it may appear, is always sufficient, especially if care is taken 
to place below the paper upon which the blind write a soft and 
yielding surface, such as several leaves of waste paper, of paste- 
board, or of leather. With respect to the proper mechanism of 
teaching the art of writing to those who are born blind, it is by 
no means difficult to be executed ; you have only to teach your 

(m) If there is any operation among the blind which requires to be directed by those 
who S€ e, it is printing for the use of these last we acknowledge. This speculation has been 
often repeated to us upon other different branches of our institution. But have not clear- 
sighted persons who labour at the press themselves need of a guide to whose skill they are 
obliged to pay deference? And in the other states of life do we not see persons more 
enlightened, directing those who are less, whilst those are in a situation to conduct people 
less experienced than they? 'Tis thus that, in the day of battle, the general of an army 
gives orders, the intention of which his subaltern officers are ignorant. It is thus that 
the pilot conducts to the end of their voyage the learned academicians, who are unskilled 
in the art of navigation. 



22 AN ESSAY ON THE 

pupil to trace, with a pointed instrument, the characters ranged 
in form of lines. But instead of directing the process of this 
pointed instrument by means of characters in relievo, as 
M. Weissenbourg has done, it is better to conduct it by letters 
graven hollow on some plate of metal. We have besides this 
precaution taken that of giving our printed letters the form of 
written, in order early to accustom the blind pupil to catch the 
resemblance. At last, when he has acquired the habit of dis- 
tinguishing their forms, there remains nothing more for him to 
write straight but to place upon his paper a frame internally 
furnished with small rising lines, parallel to the direction of the 
writing, and distant from one another about nine-tenths of an 
inch. These parallel lines serve to direct his hand, whilst he 
transports it from left to right, in order to trace the characters. 



CHAP. YIII. 

Of Arithmetic. 

We have admired the ingenious tables of Saunderson {a) and 
those of M. Weissenbourg (p) ; the reason why we have adopted 
neither of these methods was from another view, viz., that we 
might preserve, without interruption, the strictest analogy pos- 
sible between the means of educating the blind and those who 
see, we have thought that the manner of these last ought to be 
preferred. Likewise, when our pupils calculate, one may follow 
their operations step by step. 

We have caused to be made for them to this end, a board 
pierced with different lines of square holes, proper for receiving 
moveable figures and bars for separating the different parts of an 
operation. 

(n) The arithmetical table of Saunderson was formed of a board divided into small 
squares placed horizontally and separated one from the other at equal distances; each 
little square was pierced with nine holes, viz., one on the midst of each side. It was by 
the different positions of the pegs uniformly placed in diflTerent holes that Saunderson 
could express any kind of number. 

(o) We have seen, in the hands of Mile. Paradis, arithmetical tables which we believe 
to have been those of M. Weissenbourg. But without a particular study, one cannot follow 
the operations which are performed by the help of these tables. We do not know if our 
pupil could operate with equal swiftness and certainty by these means as he could by tliose 
of persons who see, and we have no other merit but that of rendering them palpable to him. 



EDUCATION OF BLIND CHILDREN. 23 

We have added, to render this board more useful, a case 
composed of four rows of little boxes, containing all the figures 
proper for calculation, and which are placed at the right hand of 
the blind person while he operates. The only difficulty which 
occurred was to represent all the possible fractions without 
multiplying the characters which express them. We have thought 
of causing to be cast 10 simple denominators in the order of the 
figures 0, 1, 2, &c., even to 9 inclusively ; and likewise 10 simple 
numerators in the same order, moveable in order to be adapted at 
the head of the denominators. By means of this combination, 
there is not a fraction which our pupils cannot express. 

One may see from what has been said, that our method has a 
double advantage. 

1. A father of a family, or a tutor, can easily direct a blind 
child in the study of arithmetic. 

2. This blind child, when once instructed, may also conduct, in 
his turn, the arithmetical operations performed by a child who sees. 

The blind have, besides, so great a propensity for calculation that 
we have often seen them following an arithmetical process and 
correcting its errors by memory alone. 

CHAP. IX. 
Of Geography. 

We owe to Madame Paradis the knowledge of geographical maps 
for the use of the blind. She herself had it from M. Weissenbourg ; 
but we are astonished that neither the one nor the other has carried 
to a higher degree of perfection, the utensils which contribute to 
the study of that science. 

They mark the circumference of countries by a tenacious and 
viscid matter, covering the different parts of their maps with a kind 
of sand mixed with glass, in various manners, and distinguish the 
order of towns by grains of glass of a greater or lesser size. 

We are satisfied with marking the limits in our maps for the 
use of the blind, by small iron wire rounded ; and it is always a 
difference either in the form or size of every part of a map, which 
assists our pupils in distinguishing the one from the other, 



24 AN ESSAY ON THE 

These means we have chosen in preference, on account of the 
ease which they afford us of multiplying, by the assistance of the 
press, the copies of our original maps for the use of the blind. It 
will, besides, be more apt than any other to offer itself to the 
execution of details the most delicate which can affect the touch 
of these individuals ; and the first of our pupils have brought 
themselves to such admirable perfection in the use of geographical 
maps, that people see them with surprise, at our exhibitions, 
distinguish a kingdom, a province, an island, the impression of 
which is presented to them, independent of other parts of a map, 
upon a square piece of paper. 

CHAP. X. 
Of Musk. 

In tracing the plan of the education of the blind, we have at 
first looked upon music only as an appendage fit for relaxing them 
after their labour. But the natural propensity in the greatest 
number of the blind for this art ; the resources which it can 
furnish to several among them for their sustenance ; the interest 
with which it inspires those who deign to be present at our 
exhibitions, have all forced us to sacrifice our own opinion to the 
general utility. 

The blind have natural propensities for this art. A considerable 
number of them, deprived of the means of living, seize with 
eagerness, through necessity, an employment towards which their 
inclination had already so powerfully attracted them. It is only 
the want of instruction, without doubt, which reduces some of 
them to the necessity of wandering in the streets, from door to 
door, grating the ear by the aid of an ill-tuned instrument, or a 
hoarse voice, that they may extort an inconsiderable piece of 
money, which is frequently given them with an injunction to be 
silent (;?). 

(pj If the taste and inclination which certain blind persons have shown for the violin, 
or for such instruments as can easily be joined with it, were directed by art, perhaps they 
might make use of it for gaining more decently their liveliliood. An estimable citizen,* 
who approves of all the parts of our institution, without discovering for any of them a 
particular predilection, suggested to us in the course ot one of our exhibitions, that one 
might usefully employ in the train blind musicians at festivals. 

* Mr. Thierry, Author of the Traveller's Almanack. 



EDUCATION OF BLIND CHILDREN. 25 

Others less unfortunate, and giving themselves up by choice to 
an instrument which affords them more resource, follow the career 
of Couperin, of Balbatre, of Sejan, of Miroir, of Carpentiers (q). 

Our institution will furnish all of them with assistance, whether 
in the study or practice of their art. Before our time, teachers of 
the blind were obliged to make them comprehend, by playing them 
over and over, the small pieces of music which they wished to 
execute. We have caused to be cast musical characters proper to 
represent upon paper all its possible varieties, by elevations on its 
surface in the manner of those which we have devised to represent 
words (r). 

By the assistance of our printed music, then the blind pupil 
may learn at present the principles of that art, and impress on his 
memory the different pieces of music with which he wishes to 
enrich it (s). 

He may likewise form to himself a library of taste, composed of 
the most enchanting musical productions ; and in short he himself 
may transmit to us the fruits of his own genius (t). 

With respect to the music introduced into our particular 
exhibitions, we beg of our readers only to consider it as a decent 
recreation, which we have seen ourselves obliged to grant to our 
pupils. Our institution is, in its origin, a kind of workhouse, 
the different artists and labourers of which amuse their toils from 



(?) AU the world knows the merit of Mr. Chauvet, blind organist of Notre Dame de 
Bonne-Nouvelle. They quote in France several other blind people whose talents ascertain 
the utility of this study for our pupils. How comfortable for us will it be one day to have 
extracted from this art of harmony the means of subsistence for a part of these unfortunate 
people, and to have seen them become, by a happy choice, the instruments of beneficence. 

(r) It has been objected to us with propriety, that our blind pupils cannot execute and 
feel the musical characters at the same time, which people who see call performing at sight, 
but this never was the end which we proposed. What matters it though they perform a 
piece of music by heart, provided they perform it correctly and faithfully, 

(s) No person is ignorant how faithful and sure are the memories of the blind, and with 
what readiness they furnish them. It is likewise known what a clear conception the 
greatest number of them discover in difficult operations of mind ; talents so astonishing, 
tliat one would almost doubt whether nature was more parsimonious in her gifts with 
respect to them, or anxious to recompense them for those which she has refused. 

(t) Mile. Paradis, who was employed in the study of composition during her continu- 
ance in Paris, and who then sought the means of figuring the chords, learned with pleasure 
that we were making trials on the same subject. We regret that her abrupt departure to 
go and reap, under another climate, the fruits of her talents, did not leave us time to offer 
her the result of our procedures, to assist her in fixing upon paper the matter of her study. 



26 AN ESSAY ON THE 

time to time with harmony. And we have, with less reluctance, 
permitted them to execute some little pieces, even in their public 
exercises, that the most part of the beneficent people, who have 
deigned to be present at them, have shown the most lively and 
sensible compassion on hearing their performances. 



CHAP. XI. 

Of the Occupations relative to Manual Employments, or 
Handicrafts. 

Befoee the birth of our institution, some of the blind, doubtless 
fatigued with that wretched inactivity to which their deplorable 
situation seemed to condemn them, made efforts to shake it off. 
(u) Convinced of their fitness for several manual employments, 
we had no other anxiety but that of selecting such tasks as were 
proper for them. We applied them with success to spinning. 
{x) Of the thread which they spun we succeeded in making them 
twist pack-thread, and of this pack-thread we made them weave 
girths. Their labours at the Boisseau {y) in making small walk- 
ing staves of cords, in the working of nets, in sewing, in binding 
books, all were tried to our satisfaction ; and we wanted labourers 
rather than work ; so many are the kinds of manual employment, 
which one may trust to the unfortunate persons who are deprived 
of the pleasure of sight. 

(m) Amongst the blind who, not haying the advant.tge of enjoying the pension of 
Quinze-Vingts, are obliged to ask their liveliliood in the capital, we have seen several who 
occupied themselves in employments relative to handicrafts. The number ot these which 
we can make the blind exercise in our workhouses is very considerable ; and we are not 
afraid to assert, that, if we continue to be favoured, we shall arrive one day at placing all 
the blind under shelter from indigence by employing tht-m advantageously. 

(a;) Blind children, who are under instruction in the house of our institution, spin by 
the assistance of the ingenious machine invented by tne Sr. Hildebrand, a mechanic. One 
among them turns a principal wheel which gives to several smaller wheels a motion which 
each spinner can stop, quicken or retard, at his pleasure, without disturbing the general 
order. 

(y) The translator takes here the liberty of retaining the original French word, not 
being able to find an English name for the same utensil. Boisseau properly signifies a 
bushel, but likewise means an instrument of timber, of a semiglobular form, and about 
one foot and a half in length, very light, which is placed upon the knee for working. 
They make use of it in plaiting small round cord, or working girdles of silk, or other 
works which they call done with the boisseau, to distinguish them from those which are 
made upon frames. 



EDUCATION OF BLIND CHILDREN. 27 

After these first trials, we will neglect nothing to put early 
into the hands of a blind child, born of indigent parents, an 
occupation from which he may one day draw his sustenance. We 
will thus extirpate the inclination to beggary ; and we will finish 
(if the expression may be allowed us) by grouping our picture, as 
well as by giving animation to the individual figures it contains. 



CHAP. XII. 

Of the Manner of Instructing the Blind, and a Parallel of their 
Education with that of the Deaf and Dumb. 

As we have principally attached ourselves to simplify the means 
and the utensils proper for the instruction of the Blind, we flatter 
ourselves we have placed their education within the reach and 
compass of all the world. This operation, besides that it is easy 
in itself, requires more courage than knowledge in a master. We 
believe then, that upon this subject we have no particular advice 
to give. 

By the aid of our books in relievo, every one can teach them to 
read. Upon the musical works formed in our press every pro- 
fessor of that art may give them lessons. With an iron pen, with 
plates and moveable characters, executed according to our models, 
the first masters in writing may teach them that art and arith- 
metic. In short, there wants nothing but maps in relievo to 
direct their studies in Geography ; and so of other things {y). 

We cannot conclude this reflection on the degrees of facility 
with which the blind may be educated, without drawing a parallel 
between it and the method of educating the deaf and dumb. 
However surprising to the eyes of the public the result of our 
procedure may appear, we are very far from implicitly joining in 
that rash admiration of some persons who are very willing to give 

(y) We will take pleasure in directing the construction of utensils useful for the 
instruction of the blind who are strangers. The books and works of music shall be 
lurDished by our blind pupils, and sold for their benefit alone. When we shall have put 
the last hand to the objects which demand our chief care, we hope to employ ourselves in 
their amusements, and in everything which can form a decent and innocent recreation for 
the blind. We believe that it ought equally to enter into our views to teach blind children 
to walk alone, and without a guide. 



28 AX ESSAY OX THE 

this result a preference to the art of instructing the deaf and 
dumb : an art, we dare say, incredible to those who have never 
been witnesses of the success to which it has been conducted by 
the virtuous ecclesiastic, who is its original author ; and with 
regard to which, several, even of those who have seen the proofs 
of this art, neither know how to estimate its merit or to feel its 
difficulties. Let any person in reality follow them step by step ; 
let him take the Abbe in the first instant of time, when he 
begins to wish to make his first signs understood by his pupil. 
Let such a one explain to us by what enchanting and magical 
talents he teaches the deaf to distinguish the moods of a verb ; its 
tenses, and the inflections of its persons. How will one tell us in 
what manner he insinuates into their minds metaphysical ideas ? 
By what marvellous secret he makes himself understood by the 
motion of his lips alone, and maintains a kind of conversation with 
them, extremely expressive, quite silent as it is ; and it will be 
agreed, that the talent of impressing the soul with new ideas, in 
speaking to the eyes alone, by gesticulations infinitely more elo- 
quent than those of all our orators, is much superior to the talent 
of awaking in the soul ideas which are already engraven on it, by 
causing to concur with the impression of the voice, upon the organ 
of hearing, the delicacy of a touch exercised in seizing the nicest 
elevations on the surface of a paper. It is a long time since we 
have been anxious to pay this tribute to M. I'Abbe de I'Epee ; we 
congratulate ourselves on having this task to perform in such 
favourable circumstances, and we flatter ourselves that our readers 
will feel all the justice of the deference we pay him (z). 



(z) We speak with so much more knowledge of the cause of instructing the deaf and 
dumb; and our opinion is so much more agreeable tu truth, that obliged, by circumstances 
from which we could not extricate ourselves, to consecrate the leisure which the instruction 
of the blind left us to that of a young man found vpon the coast of yormavdy, who is deaf 
and almost dumb, we have felt in every step how difficult the enterprise was, beyond the 
reach of our powers, and a ta>;k alone for M. I'Abbe de I'Epee, We propose to ourt-elves 
to give the history of thi^ unfortunate young man. The compositiou of it shall be done 
by him, and the print by blind children. The whole .'^hall be introduced by proposals for 
subscription; the benefits arising from which shall be divided into two equal parts, and 
given one half to the blind children, and the other to that unf rtunate young man. 



EDUCATION OF BLIND CHILDEEN. 29 



CHAP. XIII. 

Of Languages^ History, Mathematics, dec. 

It is chiefly for the study of all these objects, that the books 
which we have invented for the use of the blind, will be to them 
of immense utility. Elementary works of languages, of mathe- 
matics, of history, &c., will be in reality the first foundation of 
their library. Those which they can produce themselves, and 
which shall merit the public approbation, will be justly entitled to 
a place there {a). 

We will take particular care to join in their library works 
equally fitted to form the heart and cultivate the mind of our blind 
pupil, in fixing, as the basis of these studies, the most essential of 
all studies — that of religion. By the assistance of such principles, 
we will inculate the love of his duty, and in particular, gratitude 
towards his benefactors. In enlivening his days by the interesting 
details of history, we will cause him to know the French, among 
whom he will congratulate himself on having received his existence. 
We will engrave upon his memory the principal facts of their 
history, and the marks of beneficence and humanity which are 
mixt with the relation of their achievements. We will cause him, 
above all, to remark that, in every period of time, the French have 
distinguished themselves by an inviolable attachment to their 
Kings ; and from the faithful picture which we will draw to him 
of a Monarch, who, formed by himself to inspire that attachment, 
includes in his equity and beneficence all the particular motives 
which can add to the energy of this hereditary sentiment, he will 
feel, as we do, that the most desirable state to which a nation can 
arrive, is that where the submission of several millions of people 
towards a common master, presents itself under the image of the 
respectful tenderness of a large family towards a father who 
constitutes its happiness. 

(a) It was certainly a desirable and happy thing for Saunderson, author of various 
productions, to commit them himself to paper, and without being obliged to depend on the 
fidelity of a Secretary, to be able at every instant to render himself an exact account. 

Oneof oar pupils shewing a disposition to poetry, we beg of our readers to permit us to 
encourage it in subjoining a specimen of his rising talent, after the models of different 
works in printing, which can be executed by the blind, and which are at the end of this 
volume. 



30 AN ESSAY ON THE 

AN 

HISTORICAL SUMMARY 

OF THE 

Rise, the Progress, and the Actual State of the Institution of 
Blind Children. 



Many respectable persons have carried the concern which they 
felt for our institution, even to demand how such an idea could 
possibly enter into our mind ; by what means we attempted the 
execution of it ; and by what degrees it advanced to the point in 
which it is at present. Anxious to satisfy a curiosity so laudable, 
we are eager to subjoin here a concise narrative of the rise, 
progress, and actual state of our establishment. 

A novelty of a kind so singular has attracted for several years 
the united attention of a number of persons at the entry of one of 
those places of refreshment situated in the public walks whither 
respectable citizens go to relax themselves about the decline of 
day. 

Eight or ten poor blind persons, with spectacles on their noses, 
placed along a desk which sustained instruments of music, where 
they executed a discordant symphony, seemed to give delight to 
the audience. A very different sentiment possessed our soul, and 
we conceived, at that very instant, the possibility of realizing, to 
the advantage of those unfortunate people, the means of which 
they had only an apparent and ridiculous enjoyment : the blind, 
said we to ourselves, do they not know objects by the diversity of 
their forms ? Are they mistaken in the value of a piece of money ? 
Why can they not distinguish a C from Gr in music, or an d from 
an/ in orthography, if their characters were rendered plain ? 

We reflected sometimes on the utility of this undertaking ; there 
another observation came to strike us. A young child, full of 
understanding, but deprived of sight, listened, with advantage, to 
correct the errors of his brother in reading. He even frequently 



EDUCATION OF BLIND CHILDREN. 31 

besought him to read his elementary books to him. He, more 
employed in objects of amusement, shut his ears to the solici- 
tations of his unhappy brother, whom a cruel disease carried off 
very soon. 

These different examples soon convinced us how precious it would 
' be to the blind to possess the means of extending their knowledge, 
without their being obliged to wait for, or sometimes even in vain 
to demand, the assistance of those who saw. 

If the execution of these means appeared to us possible, it did 
not fail at first to present us with some difficulties. We had need 
of encouragement, we confess. Mademoiselle Paradis arrived 
in this metropolis. She shewed us her attempts, and those of 
M. "Weissenbourg. "We collected those of the blind who lived before 
our time ; we put into execution several of their proceedings ; to 
these we joined the results of our own, and we formed a general 
plan of the Institution. There was only wanting a person upon 
whom we might try our first experiments. Providence deigned, 
without doubt, to direct our choice upon him. 

FrauQois le Sueur, struck with blindness in consequence of con- 
vulsions at the age of six weeks, had not, at the age of seventeen 
years and a half, any notion relative to literature. Descended from 
a respectable family, but entirely deprived of the advantages of 
fortune, and constrained to seek the means of subsistence in the 
place frequented by people least easy in their circumstances, although 
perhaps the most laborious, the blind youth scarcely enjoyed the 
use of reason, when he was afraid of being burdensome to his 
parents ; he soon found himself under the necessity of going and 
presenting himself at the gates of our temples, there to crave that 
kind of unsubstantial and momentary assistance which is given by 
those who enter, which the indigent often obtain with difficulty 
from the rich, who industriously avoid their importunities. Full of 
joy at the least acquisition, he flies with eagerness to the bosom of 
his unhappy family, to divide the fruit of his solicitations, with the 
authors of his being, and with three sisters and two brothers, 
whereof the last is still upon the breast. It was in the midst of 
this hard life, as little calculated to inspire as to favour a taste for 
the sciences, that our first pupil began his education. Soon did a 



32 AN ESSAY ON THE 

noble enthusiasm wholly take possession of him ; he snatched from 
the necessity of labouring for his existence, those moments which 
he consecrated to study. His efforts were not slow in being fol- 
lowed with success. They demanded of us to see the result of our 
proceedings ; we seized the favourable circumstance of an Acade- 
mical Assembly, where we were appointed to read a memorial. 
We took for its subject certain reflections on the education of the 
blind. M. le Noir, then the magistrate, charged with the adminis- 
tration of the police, was president of this assembly. He saw our 
first attempts, received them with that concern with which he 
presently inspired Ministers, protectors of arts and indigence. 
M. le Compte de Yergennes, M. le Baron de Breteuil, Mr. Comp- 
troller General, and Mr. Keeper of the Seals, were kindly willing to 
permit that the young Sueur should perform his exercises in their 
presence, and all these respectable witnesses encouraged our first 
pupil by their beneficence. 

But whilst we were employed in delineating our plan of 
education for blind children, already had a company of beneficent 
gentlemen, composed of members of the first distinction, for their 
birth, their employments, their fortune or their talents ; deposi- 
taries of the public benefits of which every one inclines to increase 
the mass according to his wealth ; who snatching an interval from 
their business or their leisure hours go twice every month to 
employ themselves at the bottom of a cloister, far from the public 
observation, about the means of diminishing the number of the 
unfortunate ; already, I say, had the Philanthropic Society laid 
the foundation of this institution. Twelve poor blind children 
received from this company each one the assistance of twelve livres 
per month. Satisfied with our first trials, they designed to intrust 
us with the care of these unfortunate people. We were not 
slow in conceiving the hope of adding, to the assistance which 
they had given them, the product of their labours. What obliga- 
tions have we not to acknowledge to the whole of this respectable 
society ? And why is it not permitted to us to name those of its 
members, who having neither reputation nor fortune to acquire, 
have shared with us, modestly and in silence, the numerous details 
into which the education of this establishment leads us ? 



EDUCATION OF BLIND CHILDREN. 33 

f Very soon did our institution acquire a new degree of impor- 
tance in the eyes of the public. Then they ceased to believe that 
th^ power of receiving by touch the education which we proposed 
was restricted to an individual alone favoured with the propensi- 
ties inspired by nature. Of the fourteen blind children instructed 
in the first rudiments, there were then found only three whose 
progress had been slow ; because enjoying still a weak ray of 
light, they obtained at least from touch what remained to them 
almost entu-ely lost from the weakness of their sight. 

There remained no more to put the last hand to this establish- 
ment but the testimony of the learned upon these means. The 
Academy of Sciences has designed to employ itself in examining 
them, and drew up the report which we have inserted at the end 
of this work. 

Led by the suffrages of people instructed, by their own experi- 
ence, by the emotions of a heart disposed to favour the good, the 
public have been eager from all quarters to contribute to the 
expense of rearing a house which we have built for suffering 
nature. 

The Eoyal Academy of Music performed on the 19th of Feb- 
ruary, 1786, for the benefit of blind children, a concert, in which 
the audience were divided on one hand between the noble disin- 
terestedness of the members, and on the other between the talents 
which they displayed on that occasion. 

In short, the Lyceum, the Museum, and the Hall of Corre- 
spondence disputed among themselves with emulation the agree- 
able satisfaction of seeing, in the midst of their academical 
meetings, young blind children lisp out the first elements of 
reading, of calculation, &c., and in the scenes of learned emu- 
lation, where Genius alone had till then found encouragement, 
beneficence has, for the first time, been seen decreeing a crown. 

Enthusiasm gained over particular societies ; and the exercises 
of blind children were always terminated by some acquisition in 
their favour, sent to the house of the Philanthropic Society, who 
joining their assistance to what was produced by the funds of the 
Institution, distributed the sums to them with the tenderness 
which a good mother equally feels for every one of her children. 



34 AN ESSAY ON THE 

Thirty of these unfortunate children, with these assistances, 
partake the advantages of our institution. Several others, too 
young to be set to work, receive no less that relief to which their 
sad situation seems to secure them a right. But in the actual 
state in which our establishment is, we beg our readers not to 
regard it but as a beginning. We hope that their sagacity will 
show them, in these first fruits, a pledge of that success which 
they promise in the sequel. It is thus that an attentive observer 
of the productions of nature sees, that the buds which the spring 
causes to shoot forth from all parts of the trees, announces the 
fruits which autumn will produce. 



Sweet Harmony, from heav'n descend, 

Inspu-e and tune my languid strain ; 
To me thy kind assistance lend, 

My genius in its flight sustain. 
deign, delightful God of day, . 
To guide and animate my way ; 

I seek the sacred vale alone. 
My muse, alas ! too apt to fear. 
When no bright beams her journey cheer. 

Trembling, approaches Helicon. 

To barren idleness our days, 

By cruel fate were once confined ; 
Our woes kind Industry allays. 

Once more to social life consign'd : 
The various useful tasks and arts. 
Which she to us with ease imparts. 

Shall soon our ling'ring hours console ; 
To cheerful hope once more we rise ; 
Our being, erst consum'd in sighs. 

Grows less oppressive to the soul. 



KBUCATION OF BLIND CHILDREN. 35 



Typographies, by which imprest, 

The learned's thoughts embodied shine. 
Their immortality attest : 

Treasm-es, France, which now are thine. 
Eyeless, thank heav'n's supreme decree, 
We can to late posterity 

Transmit the light of every sage ; 
Though blind, we can in open day 
Truth's venerable form display. 

And shew the glories of our age. 



Greece, fruitful source of arts refin'd. 

To mortals raptur'd and surpris'd, 
Gave perfect masters of each kind, 

At once beheld and idolis'd. 
Yet though their times we justly praise, 
Illum'd by such effulgent rays. 

Did then the dumb articulate ? 
Or had the hopeless blind been taught, 
From tactile signs to construe thought, 

To read, to write, and calculate ? 



Though Nature from oui* darkened eyes, 

For ever veils her charms sublime, 
The form of earth and ev'n of skies. 

By Fancy's aid we figuring climb ; 
We trace the rivers to their source, 
Of stars we calculate the course ; 

From Europe to th' Atlantic shore, 
Successive journeys we pursue. 
Thanks to the hand whose prudence due 

Guides us in Geographic lore. 



36 AN ESSAY ON THE EDUCATION OF BLI^CD OHTLDREX. 

Dear brethren of alfliction, aid 

My songs, th' anspicious days to bless, 
Which wrap our fate in softer shade, 

And tend to make its horroi*s less. 
And while my Muse, with grateful lays, 
To sing the virtues all essays, 

"Which in our zealous patrons glow ; 
The gratitude their worth inspires, 
Shall burn with unextinguished fires, 

And in our bosoms ever grow. 



By HUARD, 

Blind, and Pensioner to the Philanthroj 
Society of Paris. 



nc 



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