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presented Jjy 

Pierre Gorman, 

Royal National Institute 
for the Deaf, London. 




W. R. SCOTT, Ph. D., 






















A vabibty of circumstances has induced the 
writer of the following pages to believe that the 
Public, generally, are far from being aware of 
the extent to which Deafness prevails, or of the 
effects which it produces upon the moral and in- 
tellectual characters of those who are its victims. 
The desire of making the condition of the Deaf 
and Dumb more fully known, and the necessity of 
their instruction better understood, has prompted 
him to the publication of the following pages, 
under the conviction that a people who contribute 
their thousands annually to enlighten the heathen 
ignorance of other nations would never permit 
similar ignorance to remain amongst themselves, 
without the attempt to enlighten it, were they 
but acquainted with its existence. In this coun- 
try the education of the Deaf and Dumb de- 


pends entirely upon the efforts of benevolence. 
It becomes, therefore, a duty incumbent upon those 
who are aware of the deprivations which they 
suffer to make their condition known — " to plead 
for those who cannot plead for themselves." If 
the following pages be successful in extending 
the knowledge of their misfortune, and exciting 
a more general sympathy in their behalf, the ob- 
jects of the writer will have been accomplished. 

A brief sketch of the means employed in their 
instruction has been given. This was adopted for 
several reasons. In the first place, because such a 
plan afforded a convenient opportunity to point 
out some of the peculiar disabilities attached to 
the condition of the Deaf and Dumb. In the 
next place, it tended to shew more clearly that 
their education demands a special method of in- 
struction, and that such persons only as have 
made that method their peculiar study can be en- 
trusted with their education with a prospect of suc- 
cess. And, thirdly, it will enable those persons 
who are connected with Deaf-mutes to judge more 
correctly what children, so situated, have to con- 
tend against in their acquirement of knowledge, 

and hence to see how necessary it is that the time 
devoted to their education should not be unduly 
abridged. The writer would mention that on the 
subject of Articulation the views here maintained 
differ from those held by some eminent teachers, 
especially those of Germany. Against these au- 
thorities, however, might be quoted those of others 
not less celebrated. Indeed, it will be seen that 
the chief arguments here advanced upon this sub- 
ject are taken from a distinguished American 
authority. So fully did these agree, in every 
respect, with the views held by the writer, that he 
did not hesitate to use them in preference to any 
observations of his own. He has also to acknow- 
ledge using a similar freedom with the same au- 
thority on one or two other points, and has not 
particularized these as quotations only, because they 
were not made sufficiently literal. 

A few remarks are added on the causes of 
Deafness, and some practical hints for the early 
management of Deaf and Dumb Children, which, 
it is hoped, will be found useful to those persons 
whose circumstances may require such information. 

" Plead for the Dumb — we cannot plead! 
The Blind may pour the faultering prayer, 
And sorrow may recount the deed 
That made her want and misery's heir. 
But our sad fate is mute despair, 
Unless all-gracious heaven above 
Makes vs the objects of your care, 
And you the heralds of its love !" 


Page 23, line 2 from bottom, for ceteris, read caeteris. 
30, last line, for Dialeetice, read Dialecticae. 
51, Note, for Cordan, read Cardan. 
56, Note, add of, after Locke. 
59, line 17 from bottom, dele them. 
62, line 13, add to, before excite. 
68, for Quettellet, read Quetelet. 
75, line 3 from bottom, for for, read of. 
88, line 6 from bottom, for word which has, read 

words which have. 
105 line 13, for Gronigen, read Groeningen. 




&c. &c. 

X HE great distinguishing feature of mankind is 
language. Deprived of the power of communicating 
and recording his ideas, and of receiving the ideas of 
others, man never could have advanced beyond the 
narrow boundaries of his own limited experience. 
That experience also must have remained crude and 
unsatisfactory, for it never could have been corrected by 
the purifying process, of passing through the minds 
of others. Without the means of communicating his 
thoughts, man must have roamed over the earth a 
solitary savage, with no power to develop those in- 
stincts of his nature, which prompt him to become the 
being of social and civilized life. There might have 
existed in his soul the fountains of love, joy, and 
hope, but he never could have mingled these feel- 


ings with those of his race ; he might have possessed 
a sou] capable of admiring the beauties of Nature, but 
he never could have sympathised in such emotions with 
others. His feelings must all have remained isolated 
within himself, never advancing beyond their origi- 
nal prison-house. How infinitely great, then, are the 
benefits which the power of communicating his ideas 
confers on man : all his mighty gifts of intellect would 
have been but a painful burden on hi s existence, had 
not Language, or the means of communion with his 
fellow creatures, been the crowning gift of his bene- 
volent Creator. 

There are few surer tests of the extent to which a 
people may have become civilized, than that of the 
power and accuracy of their language ; and there is 
no more prominent accompaniment of barbarism than 
a feebleness and poverty of expression. As a people 
extend their acquaintance into the mysteries of 
nature, new forms of speech are required ; and as the 
operations of thought become more refined and more 
subtle, it follows, as a necessary consequence, that 
their expressions of thought partake of a similar 
accuracy and precision. 

" To be without language," remarks Dr. Brown, 
" spoken or written, is almost to be without thought. — 
We must not think, in a speculative comparison of this 
sort, of mere savage life ; for the rudest savages would 
be as much superior to a race of beings without 
speech, as the most civilized nations at this moment 
are, compared with the half brutal wanderers of 


forests and deserts, whose ferocious ignorance seems to 
knowlittle more than how to destroy andbe destroyed. 

" In our social intercourse language constitutes the 
chief delight — giving happiness to hours, the weary- 
ing heaviness of which must otherwise have rendered 
existence an insupportable burden. In its more im- 
portant character, as fixed in the imperishable records 
which are transmitted in uninterrupted progression 
from that generation which passes away to the gene- 
ration which succeeds, it gives to the individual man 
the product of all the creative energies of mankind ; 
extending even to the humblest intellect, which can 
still mix itself with the illustrious dead, that privi- 
lege which has been poetically allotted to the immor- 
tality of genius, of being " the citizen of every coun- 
try and the contemporary of every age." 

It is only when the full advantages of accurate lan- 
guage are understood, that we are f ullyprepared to com- 
prehend the calamity of its absence. No race of people 
probably, exists where such a power is not developed. 

But amongst the various diseases to which man- 
kind are subject, there is found one, which places its 
unhappy victims in the condition we have contem- 
plated. It is that of Deafness from birth. With the 
advancement of scientific knowledge, diseases have 
generally been found, under divine favour, to give way 
more and more before the skill and assiduity of the phy^ 
sician ; but in the case of Deafness little has beendone.* 
Nor is this disease so uncommon as is generally sup- 

* See Note A. 

B 2 


posed, since statistical details give its average through- 
out Europe to be about one in sixteen hundred.* Even 
amidst the society of civilization this unhappy class of 
sufferers remains " alone in the world of thought." Dr. 
Johnson denominates this disease as " the most des- 
perate of human calamities ; " but yet, desperate as it 
appears, it has attracted comparatively little of the 
attention either of the philanthropist or the philoso- 
pher. This may arise from many causes, one of 
which, doubtless, is, that deafness does not obtrude 
itself upon our notice, like various other forms of 
disease. There is nothing in it that shocks our sight, 
or immediately appeals to our observation. When a 
Deaf-mute presents v himself before us there is nothing 
to invite particular attention, and he passes unnoticed 
amid the crowds that surround us. How different 
is it with the Blind ; his affliction is often painfully 
prominent, and even should that escape our notice, 
he still possesses the power of arresting our attention 
by his voice. This is not the case with the Deaf 
and Dumb ; he neither attracts our notice by his 
misfortune, nor can he excite our pity by his tale of 
woe — his is a voiceless misery that passes generally 
unheeded, because unknown. But even when the 
existence of this calamity has been known, its nature 
has frequently been misunderstood, and the position 
-of the Deaf-mute in society consequently falsely esti- 

* " The number of the Deaf-mutes in Europe is 140,000. 
It is of great importance that the case of so large a class of 
society should be completely understood." — Miss JMartincmi. 


mated. Some have ranked him amongst the idiotic 
and insane, others have considered him endowed 
with supernatural powers ; and as he presents no 
apparent distinctions to ordinary persons, many now 
imagine that no peculiarities are attached to his con- 
dition. From all these opinions he has suffered an 
additional burden of sorrow to that already allotted 
to him by nature. Even in the present day we have 
often seen persons desirous of investing him with a 
mysterious agency, and anxious to behold in him 
something more than natural powers ; and so strong 
is the prejudice of ignorance, that they are in general 
not willing to be undeceived. 

Dumbness sometimes arises from other causes than 
that of Deafness : it may arise from an imperfect for- 
mation of the organs of the voice ; and children 
who are so imbecile from mental weakness, as to be 
unable to acquire a knowledge of articulate sound, will 
remain Dumb ; but this Dumbness must be carefully 
discriminated from that produced by Deafness. More- 
over, the idiotic-mute has no thoughts to communicate, 
but the deaf-mute may have thoughts, but wants the 
means of communicating them. A deaf-mute is dumb 
only because he cannot hear sound, and therefore can- 
not be expected to use that, of which he can form no 
conception. Those, again, who are dumb from 
imperfect organs of the voice, may perfectly under- 
stand the language they hear spoken, though them- 
selves unable to use it. This kind of dumbness must 
also be distinguished from that occasioned by Deaf- 


ness, as its effects upon the sufferer are by no means 
of the same character with those perceived in the 
Deaf-mute. That class, then, only of the Dumb who 
are also Deaf, and which have been termed with sig- 
nificance Deaf-Mutes, it is our object to contemplate. 
The others are not of that interesting character, nor 
do they form so peculiar a class as the Deaf and 
Dumb. Those who have given but a limited attention 
to mental philosophy will easily perceive that the 
Deaf and Dumb form no distinct class in their natural 
intellectual constitution ; that the difference which they 
present is wholly produced by their want of social inter- 
course ; and however after a time, this deprivation may 
prevent the formation and development of their cha- 
racter, still by nature they are endowed with feelings, 
sentiments, and passions, common to the rest of man- 
kind. They are gratified with attention and applause, 
and they resent injuries equally with others, and 
exhibit amongst themselves the same varieties of 
disposition and intellect that mark the characters of 
the more fortunate of their species. The difference 
between them and others is solely that of their 
peculiar position — their state of isolation in society. 
In what condition, then, does this loneliness of their 
situation leave them ; what are the effects produced 
by man's social intercourse with his fellows, — how 
much do we owe to society ? The celebrated French 
physiologist, Andral, in the " Dictionnaire de Mede- 
cine," describes the condition of the Deaf-mute as 
follows : " We find him," says he, " remain habi- 


tually in a sort of half childishness, and he has great 
credulity. To balance this, he is, like the savage, 
exempt from many of the prejudices which we owe 
to our social education. In him the tender senti- 
ments are not very deep ; he appears not to be sus- 
ceptible of lasting attachments or lively gratitude — 
pity touches him but feebly ; he is an entire stranger 
to emulation ; he has few enjoyments and few desires ; 
and the impressions of sadness but slightly affect him." 
Mr. Baker* remarks on this subject, " that experience 
and observation would have induced this accomplished 
pathologist to have bestowed on them a more liberal 
endowment." He also observes, " at the same time, 
it must be acknowledged, that the Deaf and Dumb 
are generally inferior in their moral and intellectual 
powers to those who do not labour under the same 
defects." From what we have before remarked, it 
will be seen that we do not suppose that by natural 
constitution they are endowed with an inferior intel- 
lectual and moral nature, but that the inferiority is 
solely the result of their position. Amongst them will 
be found all the variety of intellectual and moral cha- 
racter which is presented by others. The difference, 
therefore, which they may be found to possess as re- 
gards degree in their moral and intellectual nature, 
must find its cause in the absence of that anxious train- 
ing which parental affection, — when communication is 

•Article " Deaf and Dumb," in the Penny Cyclopaedia, 
byC. Baker, Esq. Head Master of the Yorkshire Institution 
for the Deaf and Dumb. 


complete between parent and child, — will instinctively 
provide. But, shut out from intercourse with his friends, 
as a Deaf and Dumb child is, no moral truths enter his 
mind ; he sees in the world around him no govern- 
ment or order; he is not taught to recognise there, 
the guiding hand of an all-wise Providence, and he 
remains without God in the world, a stranger to 
every sentiment that ennobles, and to every hope 
that elevates man above the transitory things of 
time. What, then, does man not owe to society. 
It is to him what sun and air are to plants — it is the 
atmosphere adapted for the development of his nature, 
and, deprived of its influence, he grows up without 
unfolding one embryo blossom of his spirituality. Those 
of mankind who are endowed with hearing and speech, 
from their constant with society, educate 
themselves, and long before they have arrived at ma- 
ture age, they will have acquired an extensive acquaint- 
ance with many of the most useful facts of nature. 
Take, as an example of the value of early acquire- 
ments, the instance of language ; how perfectly and 
how extensively do even children become acquainted 
with it ; not, certainly, with its principles, but with 
what is of far more importance, its practice. Few, 
indeed, estimate properly the value of this early 
acquirement, and it is only when it has to be taught 
by a kind of artificial means, as is the case with the 
Deaf and Dumb, that it can be fully appreciated. 
Then, again, if we can estimate the amount of useful 
knowledge — the historical facts — the moral truths, 


&c, which we have received in the conversation 
of social life, we shall approximate to an estima- 
mation of what our education owes to our being one 
of an intelligent community. It is only by such 
an examination, that the true position of the Deaf 
and Dumb is ascertained. And what, we ask, 
is that position? Are they placed in a condition 
to educate themselves, like the rest of mankind ? 
Do they acquire that key to all knowledge, language, 
and thereby enter into communion with the wise of 
all ages, past and present ? No ! They are alone in 
the world of thought, and remain ignorant even in 
the midst of knowledge.* Their mental and moral 
nature is imprisoned ; a barrier separates them from 
those regions which science enlightens, happiness 
vivifies, and which virtue consecrates. Of all cala- 
mities this is truly the most desperate. Sociality is 
the highest blessing bestowed on man, for it is only 
tlirough its portals that he can become acquainted 
with himself, or learn the will of his Creator ; and of 
this greatest and most important of blessings the Deaf 
and Dumb are deprived. 

The comparative condition of the Deaf and Dumb 
and the Blind has often formed a subject of consider- 
ation. A glance at it here may assist us in putting 
the situation of the Deaf and Dumb more clearly 

" We can never be sufficiently grateful to Almighty God 
for Speech ; that divine scheme for the conveyance of senti- 
ment and the establishment of general intercourse — the 
parent, or the friend of all that adorns, and of all that 
delights, the soul of man. " -Aristarchus, 


before our readers, not only in respect to the Blind, 
but also as respects society ; and may also assist to 
shew what is the peculiar assistance which their res- 
pective conditions demand of society. In an estima- 
tion of our knowledge it is extremely difficult to assign 
to our separate faculties the true amount furnished by 
each. Our nature has so much of unity in it, that 
the derangement of one power materially interferes 
with the manifestations of others. It becomes difficult 
to say, therefore, what may be the true condition of 
either th^ Deaf and Dumb or the Blind. We know 
that in the formation of our notions of simple objects, 
more than one sense is usually employed, and that 
our senses have a reciprocal influence on each other 
in the formation of such perceptions. To reason, 
therefore, upon the functions of any one sense 
from what we consider in ourselves its appropriate 
action, may, perhaps, be as false as our chemical 
reasoning would be, were we to attempt to infer the 
properties of an uncombined acid or alkali from an 
observation of the very different properties of a neu- 
tral salt, into the composition of which we know that 
the acid or the alkali has entered. So our reasoning 
upon the effects of Deafness or Blindness, from what 
we believe in ourselves to be the functions of hearing 
and sight, may be very liable to error. Yet an exami- 
nation of what we owe to the senses will assist us 
to estimate, in a great measure, the position in which 
persons are placed, who are deprived of any of the five. 
It is now pretty generally admitted that the mind 


possesses no innate ideas. It has faculties capable of 
acting upon external nature, when brought into con- 
nexion with it, but they cannot develop themselves 
without the means exist for their being linked with 
objects beyond them. The mind may be compared 
to the eye, which when perfectly formed, is capable 
of being excited by light, of receiving its impres- 
sions, and transmitting them to the brain ; but though 
the eye be ever so perfectly fcrmed, if light be shut 
out from it, it is unable to go on with its functions. 
The mind, if deprived of the external world, would 
remain, like the eye, in darkness. Man, then, pos- 
sesses powers for receiving and operating upon exter- 
nal impressions, but he does not possess intuitive know- 
ledge. An erroneous view in this respect of the true 
mental condition of man frequently leads to grievous 
errors in education. Miss Martineau, in her " Society 
in America," speaking of such errors, and after 
remarking on the physical and moral evil produced 
in the subjects of such mistaken education, adds also, 
" This fundamental principle is working mischief in 
other directions. It affects, very unfortunately, the 
welfare of the Blind, and yet more, the Deaf and 
Dumb, who are taken under the benevolent protec- 
tion of society. As long as there are many of the 
most distinguished members of the community who 
hold that the interior being of these sufferers is in 9. 
perfect state, only the means of manifestation being 
deficient — that their training is to proceed on the 
supposition of their being possessed of a complete set 


of intellectual and moral intuitions — and that they 
therefore only need to be furnished with types, being 
already full of the things typified — and even that they 
have the advantage over others, in the exclusion of 
false and vulgar associations — the pupils will have 
little chance of benefit beyond the protection and 
comfort secured to them in their appropriate institu- 
tions. In the conversation of those who verbally 
pitied their case, I could frequently trace an inward 
persuasion that the Deaf and Dumb were better off 
than those who could hear and speak ; and there were 
few who discovered, while admiring the supposed 
allegorical discourse, or compositions of the pupils, 
that the whole was little more than a set of images, 
absolutely empty of the abstract truth which they were 
supposed to involve. I have witnessed this tremen- 
dous error in teaching the Deaf and Dumb elsewhere.*" 
This error is not confined to America, but may be met 
with in our own country. It is a mistake that can 
only arise from an ignorance of all facts connected 
with the mental constitution. The Deaf and Dumb, 
we have heard remarked, (by those who thought them- 
selves perfectly competent tojudge,) have, to compen- 
sate for their loss of hearing and speech, a " powerful 
imagination, which more than supplies to them the 
loss they sustain in the deprivation of a sense." We 
have before remarked that they do not form any dis- 
tinct class as far as natural mental endowments are con- 
cerned, and therefore in this faculty they are precisely 

" Society in America," by Harriet Martincau, vol. iii. 
page 176 etseq. 


as others ; but let us for a moment consider what is the 
true function of this faculty, which is in them suppo- 
sed to compensate for their loss of hearing and speech. 
Imagination here is supposed to be a power able of 
itself to create, not by forming new groups out of old 
materials, furnished by sensation, but totally inde- 
pendent of all knowledge obtained by means of the 
senses ; that it can of itself and by itself originate 
proprio vigore, something altogether different from, 
and independent of, acquired perceptions. Nothing 
can be further from the truth. Let us consider the 
nature of memory ; no one ever mistakes the legiti- 
mate operations of this faculty, yet imagination is 
very nearly allied to it as a mental act. Memory is the 
power which the mind has of retaining and reproduc- 
ing ideas, formed by the intellectual powers, attended 
by the consciousness of their former existence, 
and following the order of events as they were pro- 
duced in nature. But memory could have no place as 
a mental power, if there did not exist facts in the 
mind on which it could be exercised. We have 
remarked that imagination partakes in some respects 
of the character of memory ; that is to say, it repro- 
duces impressions like the memory, but in their 
reproduction it differs from memory, in producing 
them without regard to the order or the time in which 
they previously existed, and indeed without regard to 
their past existence at all. Imagination, then, ena- 
bles us to form new and ideal groups, but these are 
all formed out of the materials gathered in the first 


instance from sensation. The painter, when he pro- 
duces the finest specimen of his poetic imagination, 
has still in the first instance been indebted to his senses 
for a knowledge of those beautiful varieties of form 
and effects of colouring, which compose his picture ; 
and though to his taste and genius belong the 
creative power of adapting them to the particular com- 
bination which they now exhibit, still it is the arrange- 
ment alone that is new. An artist with ever so much 
genius, had he neglected to study form and colour, 
could never produce a great imaginative work. 
Imagination, therefore, deprived of the assistance of 
the senses, never could manifest itself; and this power, 
in the Deaf-mute partakes of the same depres- 
sion which is suffered by his other powers, in conse- 
quence of the state of isolation, to which he is doomed. 
The mind to receive knowledge must be brought 
into communion with the external world; and this 
can only be accomplished by means of the senses.* 
These are separate and distinct from mind, yet 
so dependent is it upon their presence, that if 
they are absent its powers must remain undeveloped 
for the mind is incapable of originating any subject 
of thought sua sponte but operates upon materials 
furnished by the senses. Even in dreams where the 

" In these [sensations] we find the elements of all our 
knowledge, the material on which the mind is ever operat- 
ing, and without which it seems to us almost impossible 
to conceive it ever could have operated at all, or could even, 
in its absolute uncertainty, have been conscious of its own 
inert existence." — Dr. Brown' s Lectures on the Philosophy of 
the Unman Mind. 


vagaries of the mind appear farthest from anything 
like sensible impressions ; still, a careful analysis 
of these strange and often ludicrous wanderings, 
will shew, that the fundamental idea is always caught 
from sensation. 

As in the case of the material world man can 
mould its plastic character into a thousand forms — 
can combine, compound, and sever its parts, so in the 
world of thought, he may variously arrange and 
transform his impressions, but in it also he has no 
creative power.* 

So much, indeed, of human knowledge, and of all 
that is delightful in human feeling, involves these 
elementary sensations, as it were, in the very essence 
of the thoughts themselves, that some of the most 
acute and subtle reasoners have maintained, that the 
whole variety of consciousness is sensation merely 
transformed, f But though various facts disprove 
this simplicity of arrangement of the mental pheno- 
mena, still it is not the less certain that the variety of 
our consciousness, when carefully traced, may be 
shown to be the result of sensation in some of its se- 
veral forms. 

In the case then both of the Deaf and the Blind, 
there must be a considerable difference in their mental 
acquirements, compared with those whose senses are 
complete. An absence of a number of sensations which 
the perfect senses would have supplied. It would 
seem a truth almost axiomatic, that (ceteris paribus,) 
in the same ratio in which we are denied the use of 
* Locke. t Condillac. 


our senses will be the absence of intelligence ; and, in 
consequence, the Deaf-mute and the Elind, from their 
respective positions, if allowed to remain without the 
application of some artificial means for supplying 
them with instruction, must always be inferior in 
their condition to those who possess their senses 
perfect. It seems almost unnecessary to argue 
this point, yet such are the mistaken notions which 
are not unfrequently met with upon it, that it becomes 
necessary for us to do so. 

From the the peculiar situation in which the Deaf 
and the Blind are placed, instruction cannot proceed 
in the same manner, as in the case of those who 
are more favourably endowed. It is therefore required 
of their instructor, to invent some special method 
by which their education can be accomplished. 

In the case of Deafness, its first visible effect is to 
take away language. This is unquestionably the 
greatest deprivation which arises to a deaf person ; 
and if he remains uneducated, his loss must be esti- 
mated by a consideration of all the advantages which 
flow from the use of language, and to consider him 
deprived of all these. 

This loss, though the greatest, is not however, the 
only one ; the enjoyments produced by music are 
entirely shut out from him, nor does it appear that by 
any analagous sensations can he be made to participate 
in the delightful emotions which musical expression 
produces. The Deaf and Dumb may be made to com- 
prehend, that the ear is cognizant of a variety in sound 


as the eye is cognizant of a variety in colour, and that 
the ear may be pleased or offended from such sensa- 
tions ; as the fact is with the eye from colours, the taste 
from flavours, or the smell from odours ; but the 
feelings which music awakens in the mind, that 
magic power of music described by Dryden, which — 
" Raised a mortal to the skies," 
" And drew an angel down," 
can never be understood or experienced by the Deaf 
and Dumb. 

It is very difficult to say how much of knowledge 
may not be acquired by a person born blind. A very 
profound writer maintains with considerable appear- 
ance of truth, that " Sight discovers almost nothing 
which the blind may not comprehend."* It is a fact 
frequently remarked, that blind persons distinguish 
themselves in mathematics — the science of form — and 
that they have shown a perfect knowledge of the 
powers both of the microscope and telescope, and 
have also been conversant with the laws of optics ; 
and these are branches of knowledge the phenomena 
of which are generally believed to be closely connec- 
ted with sight. They seem also to have upon such 
subjects, clear and precise arrangements of thought, 
nor do they appear to have any difficulty in follow- 
ing any discourse where reference is made to such 
subjects. This could hardly be the case if their ideas 
were not clear and definite. Such qualities as form, 
magnitude, extension, &c.,they might be supposed to 
acquire through the sense of touch ; but the idea of 
* Dr. Reid. C 


colour would appear to be difficult if not impossible 
for them to conceive. That they may form notions 
of this quality has been, however, often maintained 
and that they can form certain analogical ideas 
of its nature is very probable, by a similar process to 
which we have shewn the Deaf and Dumb may arrive 
at the idea of music. But they can never feel the 
pleasure which results from a contemplation of objects 
arranged according to the laws of harmonious colour- 
ing. So while the Deaf and Dumb are denied the 
pleasures derived from the perception of the har- 
monies of sound, the Blind are denied the enjoyment 
to be derived from harmony of colour. That the 
Blind speak often feelingly of the exciting effects of 
soft and pleasing colours, as well as forms, may be 
seen in the poetry of many Blind persons, whofrequently 
speak of the "blooming cheek" and "clustering ring- 
let," and " eyes of blue with jetty fringe," but it is 
probable that this language in them has force in asso- 
ciation rather than from any literal meaning which it 

The possession of the sense of hearing, however, 
enables the Blind to become acquainted with the use 
of speech, like other persons, and consequently, places 
them in a position, that, under any circumstances, 
where they have persons to communicate with, they 
can cultivate their minds. They have not, like 
the Deaf-mute, to wait until they acquire a means of 
communication by a special mode of instruction. 
They obtain it like ordinary people, and thus, though 
they never leave their home, they are never entirely 



deprived of instruction. But the Deaf-mute, if left 
under such circumstances, languishes for want of 
intellectual culture. M. Piroux, the eminent Professor 
of the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb at Nancy, 
has illustrated, by a very ingenious diagram, the com- 
parative condition of the Deaf-mute and the Blind.* 
He thinks, " From first appearances we are apt to sup- 
pose the situation of the Blind more deplorable than 
that of the Deaf ; but to estimate justly we must not 
be led away by external appearances. The Blind re- 
quires a conductor to guide him, the Deaf-mute requires 
a guardian, that his person and property may be pro- 
tected according to law. The first does not see the light 
of day, but the second does not see the light of Truth." 

With the following diagram he illustrates their 

He supposes the normal state of man to be repre- 
sented by the rectangle A. B. C. D. He divides this 
into two equal parts by the line F. E. The rectangle 
E. D. C. F. representing the physical part, and the 
rectangle A. E. F. B. representing the moral part, 
of man. Then from B. he draws the line B. D., 
and the triangle B. D. C. represents the condition 
* L 'Ami des Sourds-muets, par M. Piroux. 


of the Deaf-mute, and the triangle A. B. D. represents 
the situation of the Blind. 

Here it will be seen, that while their deprivations m 
extent are considered to be equal, the nature of these 
are very different. In the triangle representing the Deaf 
and Dumb, the physical part is exhibited as superior 
to that in the triangle representing the Blind ; and 
the moral part of the Deaf and Dumb as much infe- 
rior to that of the Blind. 

The advantages which the Deaf and Dumb have 
over the Blind in their physical part, are regained to 
the Blind in their moral part ; and on the other hand 
what the Deaf-mute loses in his moral power, he 
gains in his physical power. Thus while their losses in 
relation to the normal state of man, may be deemed 
as equal as far as extent is considered, namely, one sense, 
the effects produced respectively are entirely different ; 
the one confining and limiting the mental, and the 
other the physical powers, with which man is endowed. 

Thus, in the case of the Deaf-mute, we have seen 
that his situation is one of isolation ; he is shut out 
from intercourse with his fellow-men, and conse- 
quently cannot become acquainted with the know- 
ledge which exists in society. How melancholy 
must be the lot of such a human being ; he cannot 
obtain the slightest knowledge of the duties he owes 
to a Creator, his state of sinfulness as a fallen being, 
or his privileges as an object of a Saviour's love — all 
these highest, and most human, of feelings and aspira- 
tions are entirely denied him. To him has never 
come the glad tidings of salvation, even though a 


dweller in the midst of Christianity. More cannot be 
said than this to shew the misery of his condition or 
the extent of his calamity. The Blind, from his posi- 
tion, suffers deprivations of physical enjoyments ; he 
cannot see the variety exhibited by the delightful 
changes of external Nature, and the pleasing pictures 
presented in these extended scenes, which at one glance 
the eye can survey. But by the means of language, 
he can hear all the beauties of Nature described, and 
can to some extent experience the emotions which 
their beauties excite in us. The Blind have the enjoy- 
ments — blessings almost indescribable — which flow 
from the familiar and endearing conversations of 
domestic life, and they possess the means of religious 
communion. All the momentous truths which reve- 
lation teaches they can become acquainted with 
through the ordinary means of religious worship — 
the ministry of the church. They are not therefore 
so dependant on the contingencies of eleemosynary aid 
as the Deaf and Dumb. The fact that many Blind men 
have risen to the highest eminence, both in literature 
and science, supports strongly the belief, that the im- 
pediments to the progress of the Deaf and Dumb are of 
a far more insuperable character than those presented 
to the Blind ; since it has been remarked that no Deaf- 
mute has ever been distinguished amongst the great in 
literature or science in any age or country. A recent 
writer on the Deaf and Dumb attributes this to their 
want of ambition ; but granting this feeling to be one 
of the elements of greatness, it is certainly not the 


only one, otherwise we should have as many philo- 
sophers as pedants. The true reason is more proba- 
bly to be found in the difficulties they have to surmount 
before they can enter fully into communication with 
the accumulated stores of intellectual experience. 

The Deaf and Dumb do not remain in this state 
of isolation without making efforts to procure for 
themselves an intercourse with the world — and to 
some extent they succeed. Unable to address the ear, 
they have recourse to the eye of their fellows, and by a 
species of communication, — gesticulation — still open to 
them, they find that some of their wants and feelings 
can be made known. It is upon this fact that 
the hope of restoring the Deaf and Dumb to society 
rests. Here is found a starting point common to 
Teacher and Pupil, and on the power of developing 
and perfecting this intercourse the intellectual 
and moral freedom of the Deaf and Dumb depends. 
In the annals of Roman History we learn that the 
power of Gesticulation, or Pantomime, was carried 
amongst that people to great perfection ; but it re- 
mained for the holier influences of a Christian age 
to apply so useful an art to the amelioration of a 
painful affliction : and that which was only conse- 
crated by the ancients to mere frivolous pleasures, 
has become with us an instrument of blessing. About 
the fifteenth century we learn that an attempt was 
made to instruct the Deaf and Dumb ; this is related 
in a posthumous work of Eodolphus Agricola, " De 
Inventions Dialectice." It is said by the author that he 


had himself seen a person, born deaf, capable of under- 
standing written language. This account was dis- 
believed by some later writers, but they have not stated 
sufficient reasons to justify their disbelief. In the 
sixteenth century, however, there was no doubt left 
upon the practicability of such a scheme. A learned 
Benedictine Monk, Pedro Ponce, taught with suc- 
cess some Deaf and Dumb persons ; he left no re- 
cord of his plans, but the fact of his success is rela- 
ted by two of his contemporaries. Father Ponce 
died in the year 1584, and in the register of his death 
it is recorded, that " he was distinguished by his emi- 
nent virtues, and that he obtained a just celebrity 
throughout the world in instructing Deaf-mutes." 
The first work published upon the art was by John 
Paul Bonet, a Spaniard ; it appeared in the year 
1620, and we learn from its contents, that he con- 
sidered himself the inventor of the art. Whether or 
not any traditionary knowledge was preserved of 
Ponce's method it would be difficult to say. It is, 
however, by no means improbable, that after a 
lapse of forty years, many persons must have 
remained who had heard of or seen Ponce's success, 
and amongst them might have been Bonet. Soon 
after this period we find various persons engaged 
with experiments on the Deaf and Dumb, and they 
have generally left records of their proceedings. 
Amongst these so employed in England, one of the 
most successful was Dr. Wallis, professor of mathe- 
matics at Oxford. He exhibited in 1662 a deaf and 


dumb pupil before the Royal Society of London, 
and in 1698 he published a paper on the plan which 
he followed in his instruction. During the eighteenth 
century there were many similar examples of scientific 
men undertaking the instruction of one or two pupils ; 
but it never extended beyond this, and was generally 
pursued by such persons as were interested in specu- 
lating upon the advantages of an universal language.* 
It remained for the benevolent Abbe de 1' Epee\ a 
French Priest, first to undertake the education of the 
Deaf-mute on an extended scale, to reduce the mode 
of instruction to something like a system, and to draw 
public attention more to the situation and wants of 
these unfortunate beings. 

Having now traced slightly the instruction of the 
Deaf-mute down to the AbL6 de 1' Epe<3, on whose plan 
of instruction rests more or less the principles now pur- 
sued by all instructors, we shall proceed to a considera- 
tion of those principles which ought to regulate the 
education of the Deaf and Dumb, and endeavour to de- 
velope them as clearly as our limits will permit. We 
have previously mentioned that gestural language is 
the foundation upon which rests the first intercourse 
with the Deaf and Dumb. We shall therefore con- 
sider the character of this method of communication, 
and its application as a means of instruction. 

The means by which communication is carried on 
in society, is spoken and written language. It has 

* Penny Cyclopedia, article Deaf and Dumb, to which 
the reader is referred for » more extended account of the 
rise and progress of the Art of Instruction. 


been shown that the Deaf and Dumb do not, like 
other persons, learn these methods of intercourse, 
and when left without the peculiar instruction which 
their situation requires, they are unable to use them. 
Under such circumstances, they have recourse to a 
language which is found to exist, independent of all 
conventional arrangement, and which is principally ad- 
dressed to the sight. It is that language which assists 
our first attempts at intercourse with a foreign or 
strange people, and which is found to be as universal as 
those feelings which are the distinguishing charac- 
teristics of humanity itself. Hence it opens to us a way, 
through which we can exchange our thoughts with the 
Deaf and Dumb, and by which these unfortunate suf- 
ferers can be brought into the possession of some of 
those treasures which man owes to his social intercourse. 
Dr. Reidsays, " If mankind had not a natural language, 
they could never have invented an artificial one. For 
all artificial language supposes some compact or agree- 
ment to affix a certain meaning to certain signs,there- 
fore there must be compacts or agreements before the 
use of artificial signs, but there can be no compact or 
agreement without signs, nor without language, and 
therefore, there must be a natural language before 
any artificial language can be invented. *" 

It is this language, — obliterated almost by the 
polish of civilized manners — that we fall back upon, 
to restore from its imprisonment the moral and intel- 
lectual nature of the Deaf-mute. 

* Inquiry into the Human Mind. 


The mind is subject to a variety of feelings, and 
the effects of these are visible in the features, attitude, 
or gesture. Every distinct emotion has its appropriate 
expression, and thus a language altogether inde- 
pendent of words exists, displayed by the countenance 
or action of man. Every person is aware of the bodily 
expressions of fear, love, joy, and one can seldom 
ever mistake or confound the language of these with 
that of courage, hatred, or sorrow. Such language 
is immediately and instinctively recognised in every 
state of civilization, from the American savage to the 
most refined citizen.* The haughty step, the erect 
carriage, and disdainful look, are always sure indica- 
tions of pride ; in the timid gait and sidelong look, 
fear is at once perceived ; while agony is always too 
fearfully pourtrayed, in the distorted looks and ago- 
nized features of severe suffering. This language 
addresses itself to the sight ; the Deaf and Dumb there- 
fore are able to avail themselves perfectly of its use, 
and thus it possesses for them, through life, always a 
charm which written language appears rarely to 
acquire. In the application of this language to their 
instruction, a somewhat wider extension is given to 
it than in such instances as we have mentioned. It is 
made to embrace a class of signs, that, though per- 
haps less natural, still partake of that character, and 
become of great importance in the mute instruction. 
Such are the imitations of the forms and actions of 
animals, and of certain motions and actions of the 
body, which, though perhaps not strictly natural, still 
* See note B . 


are easily understood. There are certain modulations 
of the voice which also are considered a species of 
natural language ; but of this division the Deaf and 
Dumb can avail themselves but little, since though 
they may be able to express themselves by such 
means, still they cannot hear it in others. It is by 
gesture, therefore, that the uneducated Deaf-mute 
succeeds in his communication with the world. He 
sees, for instance one of his companions under the 
influence of anger — he sees his swollen features — his 
distorted visage — his convulsed limbs, and in fact he 
has carefully noted and observed all the violence of 
action visible in anger. To tell the circumstance of 
his having witnessed this he would imitate those con- 
tortions, and by acting the scene he would relate 
to others what he had himself beheld. This language, 
though confined in extent, is powerful in effect, and 
impresses often more forcibly than spoken language, 
since we know that it is not false. If we are 
told by a man, with an expression of joy upon his 
countenance, that he is overwhelmed with sorrow and 
torment of mind, we do not believe him, because we 
see that the natural expressions of grief are not upon 
his countenance, and we believe that his verbial, rather 
than his gestural, language is counterfeited, and that 
the latter is mostly a more certain index of feeling 
than the former. 

It is by natural signs that the orator chiefly gives 
force and energy to his language ; and in proportion 
as his oratory is deficient in the use of these natural 
signs, it is the less expressive and effective. It 


is for the same reason also that reading is less 
persuasive than speaking ; and he who addresses an 
assembly by reading merely, will have little power 
over the feelings of his auditory, compared with 
him who adds to artificial language the energy 
and force of natural language. Those who have 
only superficially examined natural language have 
little conception of its force,* and though not to 
be compared, in many respects, to written or spoken 
language, yet it has, when cultivated and de- 
veloped, considerable power of expression. Phre- 
nologists have often dwelt upon the fact that every 
mental power has a natural and manifest expression 
peculiar to itself, and though the idea has met with 
considerable ridiclue, yet careful observers, whether 
through the means of Phrenology, or otherwise, will 
find that such gestural expression has a much wider 
range than is generally supposed. The power of 
mimicry , which we frequently find so strongly developed 
amongst the Deaf and Dumb, depends altogether upon 
an appreciation of those minute shades of difference 
seen in natural expression, and which go to produce 
manner in individuals. There is a general character, as 
there is a general likeness, which is common to man, 
and which is discovered by all ; but it is he that discrimi- 

* " To-day Big Axe came to my tent and sat by me a 
long time. Never did I so much wish to - converse with any 
man, and tell him about the Saviour ; and from the expression 
of his countenance I thought he felt the same. But the 
gift of tongues was not imparted to me, and we could only 
converse by the language of signs which can be used far bet- 
ter than I had anticipated." — A Journey beyond the Rocky 
Mountains, by tl\e Rev. S. Parker, M. A . 


nates the peculiarities which apply to each, that 
makes the great artist. Careful to observe all such 
differences, the Deaf and Dumb catch these peculiari- 
ties, and, consequently, are ahle to reproduce them ; 
whereas, those who are not so careful in obser- 
vation of natural gesture, lose the minute varieties 
which belong to the individual in the general features 
which belong to the mass. Gesture, then, is the way 
which leads us to the mind of the Deaf and Dumb, 
and it forms one of the most important means for his 
instruction. It is not, however, a means that will 
take the place of his mother tongue. He cannot 
through it make himself generally understood ; and 
as a language for the improvement and development 
of his reasoning powers it is incomplete. It has a 
force and power when addressed to our feelings, but 
it is far inferior to written or spoken language, when 
addressed to our reason. Thus it may be said to be 
the language of poetry, of painting, and of acting, but 
it fails as a language of argument. It may entice, 
but it cannot so fully and clearly convince. It is from 
this cause that natural language is defective as a 
means of communication. Artificial language, like 
algebraical symbols, signifies and speaks to the under- 
standing' with accuracy and precision, but to the 
feelings it is comparatively dead : whilst the language 
of nature has the power of at once rousing, with 
energy, our passions. This purely arbitrary cha- 
racter of written or spoken language is one of its 
chief excellencies, as a vehicle, for the reasoning 


process ; but its defect, as a language of passion and 
feeling. Thus the man of science pushes it to its 
extreme limits by the adoption of technicalities, while 
the orator and the actor always associate with it the 
language of nature — action. 

Natural language has great charms for the Deaf- 
mute, and it remains always dearer to him than the 
most polished speech ; but unfortunately for him, it 
cannot be adopted in society, and does not restore 
him to the world ; he must therefore not be con- 
tented to rest here, but master the language of his 
country. This, and this only, will place him in a 
condition to enter society, and, alas ! it is his greatest 
difficulty. The language of action is very different 
in its forms from alphabetic language, and this differ- 
ence operates much against an easy acquirement of 
the latter mode of expression. 

Alphabetic language possesses a certainty and 
precision in the laws which regulate its combinations 
that admit of no misapprehension ; its entire conven- 
tional character, leaves, when properly understood, 
no doubt on the mind in regard to the ideas it 
wishes to express ; but it is very different with the 
language of action. From the pictorial form of its 
signs there often arises a certain degree of doubtful- 
ness between analagous ideas, and from the meagre- 
ness of its syntax, the groups which it presents are 
frequently ambiguous in expression. As long as the 
Deaf and Dumb remain in that state where their mental 
operations are directly associated with gesticulate 


signs, their use of alphabetical language will remain 
defective, and their power of expression limited ; 
and not until they are so instructed as to associate 
ideas directly with written words, will alphabetic 
language become easy to them, and their men- 
tal operations clear and precise.* To attain this 
end must be the unceasing endeavour of all Instruc- 
tors ; and until they arrive here, their instructions are 
incomplete. The language of gesture, then, which 
the necessity of the Deaf and Dumb compels them 
to adopt in the first instance, must be retained no 
longer than necessity requires. It unfortunately 
happens, that the tenacity with which the Deaf-mute 
clings to the use of signs in his ordinary conversation, 
prevents those around him from using written lan- 
guage so frequently as its importance demands; 
and Teachers, though admitting fully the truth 
of the principle here advanced, find it often difficult 
to carry it out into practice. Communication by 
spelling on the fingers is comparatively a long process, 
and what by this means it would require a dozen words 
to express, could be communicated by the means of 
signs with one or two passes of the hand and a single 
change of countenance. 

Another circumstance, which operates often most 
powerfully against the Deaf-mute's perfect acquire- 
ment of language, and over which the Teacher has no 
control, is the insufficient time allowed by the friends of 

* " Without precision of language there can be 
precision of idea."— Withers' s Aristarvhus. 



the pupil for instruction. Nothing can be more unwise 
than this ill-judged economy. Every person who 
has experienced the advantages of education, is well 
able to estimate how much more is done in one year 
in the latter stages of instruction, than can be per- 
formed in a similar period in its early part. The 
mind becomes more developed, the powers of per- 
ception and judgment become stronger, the know 
ledge already acquired assists materially in the 
acquisition of more ; and those subjects which at first 
were only partially comprehended, become more fully 
understood and impressed on the mind ; habits of 
thoughtfulness are promoted, and altogether the 
mental powers become sharpened and improved. The 
loss which the Deaf and Dumb suffer by a too early 
removal from instruction can only be fully estimated 
by those who know how much they have to learn, 
and the difficulties with which they have to contend. 
That these difficulties are rendered greater by the 
obstacles opposed by ill-judging parents or niggardly 
guardians, the Teacher finds frequently to be the 
case ; for until a full and adequate time be allowed 
for the proper instruction of the Deaf-mute, a 
Teacher, however talented, persevering, and anx- 
ious for his pupils' welfare, will never be able fo give 
them all the advantages which otherwise they might 
obtain. All that an Instructor can, therefore, do, in 
many instances, is to'direct his pupils which paths to 
pursue — to lead them through the first difficulties 
which beset them, and to give them the means, 
if properly used, of working out for themselves the 


completion of their education. We have before ob- 
served, that the Deaf and Dumb •cling to signs, and 
prefer them, wherever they can be understood, to 
alphabetical language. On a pupil's leaving school, 
especially under the circumstances we have just 
named, where language has been but imperfectly 
acquired, he will manifest, when communicating with 
his friends, the desire of using signs rather than writ- 
ten language. This habit must always be checked, 
and he should be strictly required, on all occa- 
sions, to express himself by alphabetical language, 
and the errors which he makes should be carefully 
corrected and pointed out to him. Indeed, while 
under instruction, in proportion as a knowledge 
of written language is acquired, so ought the use of 
signs to be discontinued, for only by such a plan will 
the habit of thinking in signs be broken up, and the 
important acquirement of associating thought with 
written language attained. We have known many 
children, who have left school with a fair knowledge 
of written language, lose much of it in the course of 
three or four years, from not being required to use it ; 
whereas, on the contrary, we have not unfrequently 
witnessed children considerably improve, who have 
gone amongst friends, that have followed the plan 
we have pointed out. 

There is another class of signs, employed by 
the Instructors of the Deaf and Dumb, which are 
made expressive of certain ideas. These signs 
have not, however, the same connexion with the 


ideas which they are made to represent, as the signs 
which we have already considered. The one have a 
relation in nature, the other only by convention. These 
conventional signs partake more of the character of 
symbolic language, and only have significancy from 
preliminary agreement. Such signs originate in the 
endeavour to make gestural language more precise, and 
invest it with more of the character of grammatical 
language. The Abhi de l'Ep6e carried this auxiliary 
in his instruction to a great extent, and in his work 
is found the kind of signs which he employed 
for the various forms of grammar. It has been 
much doubted whether he did not, in the use of this 
species of signs, often deceive himself, and ima- 
gine that he was giving his pupils solid instruc- 
tion, when he was merely giving them a word 
without any idea being attached to it. It is said 
that, by a certain set of arbitrary signs, the Abbe" 
could convey to his pupils any sentence, which they 
could put correctly into language ; and yet, these 
same pupils were unable alone to express their own 
thoughts in the simplest language. Such would 
be very likely to happen if great care was not ob- 
served to impart the use of language otherwise 
than by arbitrary Signs. These signs, there- 
fore, must always be used with judgment and circum- 
spection, lest the Teacher fall into the error of con- 
necting a word merely with a gesture, instead of 
associating it with the idea which it is to represent. 
It must be remembered that such signs have little 


to do with nature, and are as artificial as spoken 
language itself. 

So universal is the habit amongst mankind of 
associating their ideas with sound, that it becomes a 
difficulty to conceive it possible that ideas can be asso- 
ciated with written characters without the interven- 
tion of sound. Men learn to speak previously to 
their learning to write : articulate sound, therefore, 
becomes the representative of ideas, and writing 
the representative of sound. It is thus that writ- 
ing is not the representative of thought, but of 
sound. It was probably from this circumstance that 
most of the earlier Teachers dwelt so much upon the 
use of articulation as a means of instructing the Deaf 
and Dumb.* The value of articulation has been the 
theme of much discussion amongst Teachers, and, in 
the present day, it has not found, from universal con- 
sent at least, its true position as an auxiliary in 
instruction. It will be readily seen that it cannot 

* Persons who are anxious to know something of the 
plan of teaching Articulation, will find much information 
upon it in Dr. Wallis' Grammar, in an introductory chapter, 
which he entitles — " De Loquela, sive Literarum omnium 
Formatione, et genuino Sono." A translation of this is 
also to be found appended to " Greenwood's English Gram- 
mar." Harris' Elements of Speech may also be consulted, 
where there are some valuable remarks on the subject, 
chiefly taken from a Work, written by Conrad Amman, 
M.D., on Teaching Speech to the Deaf and Dumb, published 
at Amsterdam in 1 690. No work that has ever appeared 
surpasses Amman's " Dissert, de Loquela," in the analyza- 
tion and arrangement of the vocal sounds ; and Boerhave 
informs us, " so minutely had he inquired into the struc- 
ture and action of the organs of speech, that if his life had 
been longer preserved, he would have explained the physi- 
cal causes of the various kinds of voice in other animals." 


be to the Deaf-mute what it is to those who both hear 
and speak, and much of the power and force of arti- 
culation can never be conceived by the Deaf and 
Dumb. The Deaf may articulate, but they have 
still no idea of sound; they can never know the 
variously -modulated intonations of melody ; the 
variety of emphasis, which marks the difference 
between commanding and entreating, is lost to 
them ; they are strangers to the tender voice of sym- 
pathy in suffering ; no sweet sounds of music can 
ever reach their soul ; and no instruction in articula- 
tion can ever restore the Deaf and Dumb to a con- 
sciousness of these blessings. The gratifications, 
therefore, which flow from the interchange of our 
ideas, through the means of " sweet sounds," as such, 
must for ever remain unexperienced by the Deaf and 
Dumb. It is only, therefore, in a limited extent that 
articulation, under any circumstances, can be made 
applicable to their condition. In the case of those who 
hear, speech is addressed to the ear — it is the varia- 
tions of sound that to them are expressive. To the 
Deaf and Dumb, it is the position of the lips, and 
other vocal organs, that become associated with 
language. Now hearing and sound are fitted to 
each other, and so adapted by nature as to have the 
most intimate relationship. Hearing has been fitly 
denominated the " mirror of speech ;" but reading 
on the lips is not that to articulation. It is cold and 
lifeless in its association, compared to that of sound 
and speech. It has been maintained by some, that it 


has a special value as an auxiliary in instruction. 
But in this respect we confess that we haTe never 
been able to discover its peculiar advantages. " Its 
great usefulness is to be considered as a means of 
communication amidst society, and the only advan- 
tages that it can have over writing is its rapidity and 
readiness, for in it the lips will move quicker than 
the hand, and it does not need tablets and writing 
materials, which writing always requires. But, on 
the other hand, the imperfection of articulation, which 
the great mass of the Deaf and Dumb never get over, 
is a disadvantage which is to be set against its ad- 
vantages. Did articulation require little or no time 
to master its difficulties, its importance as a branch 
of instruction would be less questionable. But 
it is acknowledged that the time and attention it 
requires are great, and must often be bestowed 
by sacrificing some other acquirement. The faci- 
lity of acquiring expertness in reading on the lips, and 
articulating sound, is in some instances considerable, 
and in such cases to teach articulation maybe practica- 
ble ; but we must examine carefully what are really 
practicable cases. Suppose a mute to manifest just 
sufficient aptness for acquiring this species of know- 
ledge as, that by constant application during the 
period allotted to his education, he may be taught 
to speak and to read on the lips of others a limited 
vocabulary of words — suppose, too, that he speaks 
but imperfectly, as, except after very long practice, 
and very persevering correction, he will often be most 


likely to do — suppose, on the other hand, he reads 
more imperfectly still, (for this latter art is more 
difficult than the former.) -will such a one, on quitting 
his instruction, possess a knowledge of spoken lan- 
guage sufficient to make the advantages we have 
enumerated his ? Will he be able to communicate 
with such rapidity and clearness as to give him the 
valuable properties of articulate language ? Will he 
not, on the other hand, feel the necessity continually 
occurring of repeating and re-repeating his own 
words, and of demanding a similar repetition from 
others ; and will not this render the use of this im- 
perfect faculty irksome to him in the extreme ? 
And if, moreover — and this is a most important 
consideration — in the long period of close application, 
necessary to acquire even the little that he has 
to boast, his mental cultivation shall have been ne- 
glected, can he be said to have gained a fair equivalent 
for what he has thus lost ? In such a case can it be 
said that to teach articulation is advisable ? In cases 
of imperfect deafness, where the degree of hearing still 
retained enables the Deaf-mute somewhat to imitate 
sounds, or where extreme facility is shewn in acquir- 
ing the benefits of articulation, it may be practicable, 
but in ordinary cases it is not so.* In theory, then, 
it may be true that the instruction of the Deaf- 
mute is carried to its highest degree of perfection 

* This view of the subject is taken from one of the Re- 
ports of the New York Institution, and the eminent names 
connected with that Establishment ought to give every opi- 
nion emanating from it considerable authority. 


when the pupil has acquired the knowledge of the 
language of his country, not only in a written form, 
but also as it is spoken, by those who hear. But 
practice must bend to the exigencies interposed by 
circumstances beyond the power of the Teacher. Of 
these the principal are the limitations of time and the 
varying abilities, as well as the physical organization, 
of the subjects of instruction." For the great mass of 
the Deaf and Dumb, then, it appears that instruction 
ought to be confined to language, as expressed under 
visible forms, or writing. This is more especially 
applicable to Public Institutions, where the Teachers 
employed are generally reduced to as few as necessity 
will permit, and the time allowed by the parents 
and guardians of the pupils limited to the shortest 
period. Doubtless, in private instruction, where the 
efforts of a Teacher are limited to one pupil merely, 
much may be done with advantage, which in a public 
establishment and extended over a class, it would not 
be practicable to attempt. 

We trust that sufficient has been said to shew, that 
great caution is required in the cultivation of 
the faculty of speech amongst the Deaf and Dumb, 
and that those who contend for the advantages of its 
universal adoption, are contending against the facts 
presented by experience. There is little doubt 
but that persons have been deceived in this branch 
of the Deaf-mute's instruction, by witnessing the pro- 
ficiency of some few pupils, who have had naturally 
good voices, and who, probably, could hear a little, 


6r who had, perhaps, lost their hearing after some 
advance had been made in articulating words. Such 
examples of proficiency may have led people into the 
belief that such instances presented the degree of 
perfection to which the practice could be carried 
generally. But let such persons enquire into the 
proportion of the Deaf and Dumb who attain this 
proficiency, and they will find that such perfection is 
not the rule but the exception. 

We have endeavoured to shew in the preceding 
remarks, that articulate language is not the means 
best fitted for general communication with the Deaf 
and Dumb, inasmuch as its acquirement is more 
uncertain and tedious than that of writing. But it 
is written language, or speech under visible forms, 
that the Deaf-mute must be chiefly made to rely 
upon for his intercourse with the rest of mankind. 
We have before stated, that it is by gestural language 
that the Deaf-mute is introduced to the knowledge 
first conveyed to him by the Teacher, and that it is 
by the same means that he himself makes his thoughts 
and desires known. In the case of the Deaf-mute, 
therefore, gestural language becomes associated with 
thought, as spoken language does with us j or, to 
use a popular expression, — we think in words, he 
thinks in signs. 

It has been already remarked, that a great differ- 
ence exists between the language of signs and that 
of written language. To change gestural expres- 
sions into their equivalents in English, is not, there- 


fore, merely a literal change of symbols ; and this 
great difference in the characters of the two modes 
of expression, renders the acquirements of the new 
language to the Deaf-mute one of considerable labour 
and difficulty. It is long before he gets over the 
idioms of his own original language, and, as we 
have before observed, not until he can be made to 
associate written language with thought shall we find 
his written phraseology free, easy to him, and devoid 
of those peculiarities which are so generally visible 
in the compositions of the Deaf and Dumb. 

It requires but little acquaintance with the opera- 
tions of the human mind, to be well aware how 
powerful is the influence of the retroactive agency of 
language upon thought ; and all who are con- 
versant with metaphysical speculations, know how 
much the mind, in its reasoning functions, is in- 
fluenced by the signs which it employs. The 
ease and the accuracy, therefore, of the mental 
process will always, more or less, depend on the 
nature of the signs present ; if these be undefined, 
general, and vague, there will be little that is clear 
or defined in the mental process, while, with a lan- 
guage definite and precise, with its relations well 
methodized and understood, such as exist in all lan- 
guages which are highly cultivated, the operations of 
thought will be considerably facilitated. The lan- 
guage of signs, in its character of a thinking me- 
dium, but feebly tends to improve the reasoning 


principle, while the language of words is a powerful 
auxiliary in developing the logical faculty. 

In giving, therefore, the Deaf and Dumb a know- 
ledge of written language, we are not only conferring 
upon them the means of communicating with society, 
but are bestowing upon them a most efficient help 
in the improvement of their reasoning powers. It 
is curious to observe what strange fancies are formed 
when persons speak of things with which they are unac- 
quainted. We have sometimes heard it remarked, 
that the Deaf and Dumb have an extraordinary power 
and facility in written language, and that their 
expressions are finer and more forcible than those of 
ordinary people. Such opinions could only arise from 
a want of due consideration of the subject ; though it 
is not improbable, that the displays, which have 
degraded the proceedings of certain Teachers, egre- 
giously magnifying the acquirements of their pupils, 
have to some degree tended to create this erroneous 

To accomplish the end of making the Deaf and 
Dumb associate their ideas with written language 
is a long process, and we fear is, but in few in- 
stances, completely attained ; not, however, because 
there is anything in the principle of this association 
improbable or unphilosophical, but because the pupils 
are not a sufficient length of time under the necessary 
instruction. We shall not enter here into any argu- 
ments to prove the position we have advanced, namely, 


that the Deaf and Dumb can associate ideas with 
written language, as that position has already been 
sufficiently established.* The association of thought 
with written language will, doubtless, give to the 
latter a very different character to that which it 
assumes with those who hear and speak. With us a 
word is a complex idea composed of its several sounds, 
as in the word e-le-phant, or it may even be divided 
still more — into its letters. But with the Deaf and 
Dumb there exists no such division. Such words 
are expressive of an idea, and remembered only 
as a simple sign. The Deaf and Dumb, therefore, 
regard words " as units, in the same way that we 
regard letters ; and the various objects around them 
are so many simple objects of thought." On this 
Degerando remarks, that " written words awaken in 
the Deaf-mute the conceptions of things themselves, 
in the same manner as they awaken in ours the con- 
ception of sounds, with this difference, however, that 
polysyllabic words recal to the Deaf-mute but a single 
idea, while they recall to us a number of sounds at 
once. We cannot, therefore, doubt, that for the 
Deaf and Dumb our alphabetic writing, losing this 
character, can become to them truly ideographic." 
Now one great aim of the Instructor must be to ac- 
complish this end ; namely to make written language 

* Jerome Cordan, a learned Professor at Pavia, so early 
as the 16th centuary, says — " Writing is associated with 
speech, and speech with thought ; but written characters 
and ideas may be connected together, without the interven- 
tion of sounds, as in hieroglyphic characters." 


the immediate representative of thought with the 
Deaf and Dumb ; and although his great difficulty is to 
give the pupil a familiarity with, and facility in, 
using Language, still the interest of the Teacher 
should never cease till he overcomes all difficulties 
and makes written language to them the immediate 
representative of their ideas. We know it is difficult 
even with those who have all their faculties to 
acquire a new language so that it may become to them 
the immediate sign of their ideas. An Englishman is 
long before he can master French or German so com- 
pletely as to be able to make it take the place of his 
mother tongue ; that is to say, "before he can think in 
it." Nevertheless it is a matter to be accomplished, 
and though, in the case of the Deaf-mute it may not 
always be attainable, it is a principle that ought 
never be lost sight of in their education. 

We have already mentioned that gestural language 
is very different in its constitution to written lan- 
guage, that there are many species of words in the 
latter that have no representatives in the former, 
and this again is for a long period a stumbling-block 
to the Deaf-mute. A single action, where the eye, 
face, and hands will speak simultaneously, represents 
at once an idea which would require many words 
to express. General and abstract terms have no 
corresponding terms of equal significancy in sign 
language, while the various relations expressed by 
conjunctions, prepositions, relatives, and inflections, 
are without equivalents in natural language. The 


order also of natural language is extremely different 
to that of written language. We know that in 
various spoken languages much difference exists in 
their collocation. If, however, there be a natural 
order in the succession of thought, one would imagine 
that gestural language would assume that order. 
Dr. Spurzheim refers the variety exhibited by 
different languages* in this respect, to the cerebral 
developement of different nations, and considers that 
the difference between the French, who take the 
noun before its attribute, and the English, who place 
the adjective before the noun, depends upon the larger 
endowment of the organ of individuality, which is 
more prominent in the French than the English. 
If such a supposition be correct, gestural language, 
perhaps, will represent the same variety of form 
according to the peculiar organization of different 
individuals. Be this, however, as it may, the dif- 
ference between the order of gestural language 
and that of the English language presents a 
difficulty which the Instructor has to use considera- 
ble care and attention to get his pupil to -over- 
come. The order of natural language appears, 
as far as it has been investigated, to be what 
in the English language would be considered 
the inverted order : "the subject comes before the 
attribute, the modifier after the modified, and the 
object before the action." The early efforts in com- 
position of the Deaf and Dumb will betray in them 

* Philosophical principles. 


this arrangement of thought, and such examples as 
"beautiful dog," will be written "dog beautiful, 
"large lion" — "lion large," &c. &c. We have 
endeavoured to show the relation between natural 
language and the language of written signs, and 
to point out what ought to be the principles kept 
in view by the Teacher in his instructions in it. 
Natural language is the point where he must com- 
mence, and written language (so far as the instruc- 
tion is special,) is the place where it ends. With a 
full knowledge of written language all the great 
truths of revelation are opened to them, and the reposi- 
tories of learning are no longer sealed volumes. So 
educated, the Deaf-mute is able to enter upon any 
branch of study which his taste dictates or his situa- 
tion demands. The Teacher, however, while givingthe 
use of language, will not neglect at the same time to 
store the minds of his pupils with such useful knowledge 
as is suited to their understandings, and more especially 
will he endeavour to impress them with their duties 
as children, citizens, and christians, so that, with the 
divine blessing, when they leave him, they will 
depart with such useful information, and such christian 
dispositions as will enable them to become useful 
members of society and humble followers of Christ. 

We do not enter here upon the particular methods 
which must be followed in teaching ; our object has 
been more to develope the principle upon which all 
methods must be built. No method, however, will be 
successful that is not founded on the principle of 


Analysis — that principle by which alone science can 
be successfully investigated or truth developed — 
that which proceeds by advancing from the simple 
to the compound, from the consequences to the 
principles, or in other words, from the simple 
elements to the rules ; these being nothing but the 
generalization of the simple elements themselves.* 

Language itself has been formed upon this princi- 
ple.! ■"•* was mentioned when speaking of Natural 

* The great art in all education is the art of simplifying ; 
it would be very easy to show the absurdity of many works 
written purposely for children which are far more adapted 
for the intellectual developement of mature age, than the 
tender years of childhood. A great requisite in all instruc- 
tors therefore is this mental power ; but especially is it of 
importance to Teachers of the Deaf-mute. It is by no means 
so easy a matter as it is generally supposed to simplify for 
the capacity of children. It is much easier to overleap than 
to come down to their mental condition. " In the case of 
the Deaf and Dumb the Teacher has to begin by instructing 
them in the use of the simplest words," says Mr. Baker, 
"and, even after they have gone through half the period 
usually allowed for their instruction, an ordinary child of 
three or four years old has a large stock of ideas compared 
with them." 

t This view of language ought to shew the absurdity of 
allowing children to spend so many wearisome hours over 
the vague generalizations of grammar. To those who 
have carefully considered what the education of children 
ought to be, how forcible are the following remarks by Dr. 
Beddoes. — " According to the modern practice of education, 
instead of suffering children to follow the active tendency 
of their nature, or gently directing it, we forcibly debar 
them from the exercise of their senses, and condemn them 
to the horrible drudgery of learning by rote the conceits of 
a tribe of sophists and semi-barbarians, to whom it is no 
reproach not to have entertained just ideas either concerning 
words or things. Next to actual blindfolding and muffling, 
to oblige children to learn the terms in which these conceits 
are couched, is the happiest contrivance imaginable for keep- 
ing their minds unfurnished — by long continuance of seden- 
tary confinement we hold the perceptive faculties as much as 


Language, that certain spontaneous sounds were 
natural to man, and expressive of certain emotions ; 
a developement of thus associating sound with ideas 
would produce language. It is upon the same 
principle, that from natural signs, the Deaf-mutes 
extend their gestural language into conventional 
signs. Men who have reasoned about the formation 
of language after examining the nature of Grammar, 
and who have considered it so difficult a matter, 
have overlooked the fact that no language ever arose 
at once into the perfect symmetry exhibited in the 
tongues of a civilized people, and that to use speech 
it is not necessary to understand Grammar. We 
may be assisted to a correct view of this subject by 
a glance at the kindred one of Logic. No one 
would suppose that mankind did not reason before the 
time of Aristotle, who discovered the great principle 
upon which all reasoning is conducted ; and at this 

possible in a state of perfect inaction, at the same time we 
employ the organs of speech in pronouncing, and the 
memory in retaining, none but sounds insignificant, so that 
from the commencement of a liberal education one might 
be led to conclude that the following is the only sentence 
ever written by Mr. Locke, which his countrymen have 
attempted an application : * If it were worth while, no 
doubt a child might be so ordered as to have but a very few 
ideas till he were grown up to be a man ; ' and that nothing 
might be wanting to satisfy us that our apparent cruelty is 
real kindness, it has been clearly proved that the principal 
rules laid down in grammar are false, and the exceptions 
groundless ! Let the moralist, when he has verified this 
fact in the writings of Mr. Tooke and his fellow-labourers 
in the philosophy of language, determine whether it be an 
act of greater humanity to preserve the Africans from slavery, 
or deliver children from grammar." — Observations on the 
Nature of Demonstrative Evidence, tjc.," page 65, et seq. 


time do not savages reason and speak without know- 
ing either the Rules of logic or grammar ? It is one 
of the benevolent provisions of Nature that it is un- 
necessary for. the operations of man's faculties, either 
mentally or bodily, that he should know the laws by 
which their action is governed. How long did he 
use his arms and his legs before the anatomy of those 
parts were known, or the beautiful mechanical con- 
trivance that regulates their action understood — his 
sight before the laws of optics were discovered — and 
how long has he exercised his mind, though even 
yet much of its philosophy is unrevealed to him. 
Nothing appears further from the truth than to 
suppose that it requires philosophic wisdom to invent 
a word.* The occurrences of every day disprove 
such a supposition, since we find that any ordinary 
mechanic, when an invention or discovery requires 
it, has no difficulty in naming with sufficient propriety 
his production. If indeed words were to be framed 
without having ideas attached to them, a difficulty 
might occur, but such is not the order in which 
speech has been formed. It is probable that it was 
not till • long after man had made a considerable 
advance in the use of speech, that visible characters, 
or written language, was invented. It has been 
conjectured, and probably with truth, that it had 
its origin amongst the Chaldaic priesthood. The 
character of that body, with its mysterious rites 

* Dr. Adam Smith speaks of the "Metaphysical ab- 
straction, and profound discernment, of the Inventors of 



and its thraldom over the public mind, was well 
fitted to call forth an art, which, both from its con- 
venience as a means for secret correspondence, and 
from its being likely to add still more to those mys- 
terious powers which it seemed to possess, was one 
not less desirable than useful. An idea may be 
taken of what effect such a power would con- 
fer over an ignorant people from an anecdote 
related in Mariner's " Tonga Islands." * But if 
we consider, in addition to the astonishment which 
such a power was likely to produce, that their priests 
came avowedly invested with supernatural powers, 
then the two facts would strengthen each other, that 
the priests were truly god-like, and the art was 

* " This mode of communicating sentiments (writing) 
was an inexplicable puzzle to Finow ; he took the letter 
again and examined it, but it afforded him no information. 
He considered the matter a little within himself, but his 
thoughts reflected no light on the subject. At length 
he sent for Mr. Mariner, and asked him to write down 
something. The latter asked him what he choose to have 
written ; he replied, put down me. He accordingly wrote 
' Feenow,' (spelling it after the strict English ortho- 
graphy). The Chief then sent for another Englishman, 
who had not been present, and commanded Mr. Mariner to 
turn his back and look another way, he gave the man the 
paper and desired him to tell what that was : he accordingly 
pronounced aloud the name of the king, upon which Finow 
snatched the paper from his hand, and, with astonishment, 
looked at it, turned it round, and examined it in all direc- 
tions ; at length he exclaimed, ' This is neither like myself 
nor any body else ! where are my legs ? how do you know 
it to be I ? ' and then without stopping for any attempt at 
an explanation, he impatiently ordered Mr. Mariner to 
write something else, and thus employed him for three or 
four hours in putting down th e names of different persons, 
places, and things, and making the other man read them. 
* * • This as much resembled witchcraft as anything he 
had ever seen or- heard of." — Constable's Miscel., Vol. 13 op. 


amongst the mysteries hidden from the vulgar mind. 
Such was prohably the origin of that art, the great- 
ness of which no modern discovery has surpassed. 
Printing, which is modern, and which has obtained 
for Faust the celebrity of Satanic wisdom, as an in- 
vention, is far inferior to writing. In the first 
place it has not the originality of conception of con- 
veying ideas by visible signs; and in the second 
place, there was much of an analagous character 
to printing (considered as an art for multiplying 
copies) previously to the time of Guttenberg. The 
old German carten- makers had worked at their 
craft, and wooden blocks had been printed from them, 
long before the time of the ingenious citizen of 

Pictures and the Manual Alphabet are both ex- 
tensively used in the education of the Deaf-mute ; 
but the principles upon which these become useful 
are, in the case of pictures, as being one form of 
Natural Language ; and Dactylology is only " writ- 
ing set free from its material dress." Pictures 
are representatives of objects, actions, and expres- 
sions ; and they are used in the instruction of the 
Deaf and Dumb to exhibit such subjects, when the 
objects themselves cannot be conveniently obtained. 
Degerando has so beautifully described the nature of 
Dactylology, and the uses it has in Deaf-mutes' educa- 
tion, that we shall present his observations instead of 
any description of our own. " Dactylology," says 
he, "is to alphabetic writing what that is to speech. 

e 2 


Formed upon writing as its model, it represents it 
precisely as writing represents words. But in this 
connection between dactylology and writing, the reci- 
procal utility of the two orders of proceeding is at 
the same time the reverse of what we have remarked 
in the connexion between writing and speech. In 
fact, the office of dactylology consists in giving to 
writing that moveableness which speech enjoys, and 
which the first loses in the fixedness of depicted 
characters. Dactylology is writing set free from its 
material dress and from those conditions necessary 
for the employment of the pen or pencil ; it carries 
with itself these instruments ; it is thus ready in all 
familiar conversations ; it affords help at all times, 
and in all places. It is thus that dactylology is 
little more than a toy for those who already possess 
in speech a means of communication more easy, 
and more appropriate to all circumstances. It is 
thus also that it becomes an essential resource to 
those who are deprived of speech, to whom it renders 
a portion of those advantages, supplying for them 
writing, and giving it in some manner a new ex- 
tension. However, dactylology is far from affording 
all the advantages of speech, while it loses a portion 
of those which are peculiar to the privilege of 
•writing. On the one hand, it is much less rapid than 
speech, it is unfurnished with that expression which 
belongs to the human voice — of that infinite diver- 
sity which the soul finds within for pourtraying all 
the sentiments which affect it : it has nothing of that 


harmony, that secret charm, that power of imitation 
of which speech is so capable ; its employment, 
besides, obliges the suspension of all business, and 
all action. On the other hand, it has none of that 
durability which renders writing so favourable to 
the operations of reflection ; it is not able to exhibit 
its signs but after a successive manner, it cannot pre- 
serve in composing, as writing does, those vast pic- 
tures which the inventive faculty embraces simul- 
taneously, and subsequently surveys in every sense 
with perfect liberty. Dactylology shares in some of 
the inconveniences of speech, and in some of those 
of writing : it is as fugitive as the first, and it is as 
complicated in its forms as the second." Many have 
a very erroneous idea of the value of this auxiliary 
in educating the Deaf-mute ; imagining that all 
these persons naturally can understand language if 
it is only conveyed to them by the finger alphabet. 
Nothing can be further from the truth. Dactylology, 
after the alphabet has been acquired, will only be 
available in proportion as a knowledge of language 
exists ; and in proportion only as the pupil advances 
in the knowledge of words and their combinations, 
in the same proportion will be his power of availing 
himself of " finger talking." 

We have now sketched briefly the principles on 
which the instruction of the Deaf and Dumb must 
be conducted, and hope from what has been said 
that the necessity of providing an education suitable 
to their infirmities will be felt by all who take an 


interest in alleviating the sufferings of their fellow- 
creatures. The ordinary method of instruction can- 
not meet the wants of this class of children, and 
as the far greater proportion of the Deaf and Dumb 
are the children of parents in humble circumstances, 
the education of such children must necessarily de- 
pend upon the efforts of benevolence ; unless, there- 
fore, the public are made aware of their peculiar 
wants, and fully made to comprehend their peculiarly 
distressing condition, the necessary provision for their 
improvement cannot be expected. The chief object in 
giving these pages to the public, has been to endeavour 
excite for the Deaf and Dumb a more general sym- 
pathy — to plead the cause of those who cannot plead 
for themselves. There are doubtless many cases of 
misfortune that call loudly for the aid of benevolence 
and charity to soothe and to comfort their suffering, 
but there are few whose lot is more depressing than 
that of the Deaf-mute. Persons so afflicted, if left 
without the advantages of education, are deprived of 
all those hopes which can make this life cheerful 
or give the prospects of a future and a better. 
" How gloomy," says Johnson, " would be the man- 
sions of the dead to him who did not know that he 
should never die ; " and such must be the gloom 
of every uninstructed Deaf-mute. Let us then hope 
that ere long the wants of the Deaf and Dumb will 
be better and more generally understood, and that 
the fostering hand of benevolence will leave no deaf 
and dumb child without the means of instruction. 





The disease of Deafness is one that has been less 
successfully investigated than most others, and medi- 
cal treatment has but seldom been advantageously 
employed in its cure. There is no doubt but that it 
is produced by various causes ; sometimes being con- 
genital, sometimes arising from disease in the ear 
taking place soon after birth, and it not unfrequently 
remains after small -pox, fever, measles, &c. If 
deafness happens before the fifth or sixth year, 
dumbness will follow ; and even at a much later age 
the child will manifest a great disinclination to use 
speech, should it become deaf. In such cases, how- 
ever, a parent will early see the necessity of en- 
forcing the use of the language which has been 
learned, and the child, after a little practice in 
speaking without hearing himself do so, will feel 
less averse to it. 

The causes of congenital deafness are often diffi- 
cult to be traced, and the facts collected upon 
the subject are not sufficiently extensive, nor ac- 
curately ascertained, to allow much explanation of 
its production. It has been often observed that 


cases of congenital deafness are frequently found 
amongst persons who are of a strumous habit, and 
that the disease has a tendency to appear where 
marriages of consanguinity have taken place. It is 
probable that there is no institution for the instruc- 
tion of Deaf-mutes, that does not contain several 
pupils who are the offspring of cousins. 

Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that there are 
many instances of families where intermarriages have 
taken place without deafness having appeared. The 
proportion which children born deaf and dumb bear 
to those who become so after birth is not very accu- 
rately known, and there is much difficulty in the way 
of ascertaining this proportion with precision. It 
rarely happens that parents have observed any defect 
in the hearing of their children until they are ex- 
pected to articulate. It is not improbable, there- 
fore, that in many instances where the disease is 
thought to be congenital, that it may have com- 
menced after birth, and the time of its commence- 
ment escaped the notice of the parents. 

The statistics which have been published by differ- 
ent institutions on the comparative numbers of 
those born deaf and dumb and those who have be- 
come so afterwards, vary considerably. In a circular 
issued from the Dublin Institution it is stated that 
in 489 Deaf and Dumb children, 423 were born so, 
the remaining 66 losing their hearing after birth 
from various accidents and diseases. In the thir- 
teenth Report of the Hertford (America) Asylum, it 


is said, that out of 279 pupils 117 were born deaf 
and dumb, 135 lost their hearing in infancy, and 28 
were doubtful. These two statements differ con- 
siderably in the proportion which the two classes 
bear to each other, and though the induction, in both 
instances, is too limited to allow us to draw any 
general conclusion, still it is probable that the differ- 
ence between them results from that liability to 
error which we have referred to above — a want 
of accurate observation on the part of the parent ; 
and it may not be too much to say, that when the sta- 
tistics of Deafness are more accurately obtained, 
Congenital Deafness will bear a less proportion than 
it appears now to do, amongst the unfortunate sub- 
jects of this disease. 

Congenital disease may be considered as arising 
from two causes — hereditary tendency, and acci- 
dental interruptions of the foetal developement at 
some period during gestation. Hereditary diseases, 
in general, are involved in considerable obscurity ; 
and Deafness offers no exception to this absence of 
information. In looking at instances where deaf 
and dumb persons have married, we do not find that 
the offspring generally are deaf. Out of several 
cases which have come within our own personal 
knowledge, where either one or both of the parents 
were deaf and dumb, only one instance occurred 
where any of the children were afflicted with this 
disease. In this instance the father only was deaf 
and dumb. This absence of anything like regularity 


in the transmission of the disease has led some to 
deny its being hereditary. 11 We have already ob- 
served, that little is known about the transmission of 
disease from one generation to another, but that 
such a law exists in Nature cannot be denied. 
With regard to Deafness, the cases we have men- 
tioned show that it is not invariably transmitted, nor 
indeed, generally : can it therefore be said to be 
an hereditary disease ? Perhaps Deafness cannot be 
considered as hereditary, in one sense, while in another 
it may. We may suppose an hereditary tendency to 
exist to a peculiarity of constitution, and that this 
constitutional taint is liable to a certain class of dis- 
eases, of which deafness is one. So while a diseased 
constitution, where deafness has a tendency to ap- 
pear, is transmissable, the particular form of that 
disease is not invariably so, but may or may not 
appear according to modifying circumstances. If 
it be ascertained that deafness is often found accom- 
panying scrofulous affections, and that there is a ten- 
dency in such persons as have a strumous taint to 
have the organs of hearing diseased, then we may 
look upon deafness as most likely to appear in the 
children of scrofulous parents. But since the dis- 
eases incident to this peculiar constitutional taint 
vary in appearance, the organ affected in the parent 
may not be the one affected in the offspring ; and so 
while the parent may be deaf, the child may not be so, 

* If the deafness of the parent occurred after birth we 
-would not anticipate the transmision of the disease. 


and while the parent was free from deafness the child 
may have the organs of hearing diseased. 

We have heard mothers of deaf and dumb children 
frequently attribute the infirmity of their child to 
strong and disagreeable impressions received by 
them during pregnancy. Whether an interruption 
of the foetal developement took place in such cases, 
or not, it would be very difficult to ascertain with 
certainty ; but that strong impressions have an in- 
fluence on the child at this period a variety of ob- 
servations would lead us to believe. During such time, 
therefore, mothers ought to avoid everything likely 
to startle or give them unpleasant trains of thought, 
and such injurious impressions are more especially to 
be guarded against in the earlier stages of pregnancy 
— a time when least attention is generally paid to 
such precautionary measures. That deafness often 
arises in early infancy from a want of careful man- 
agement on the part of the mother is very probable. 
It is well known that the proper management of 
infants has been, and indeed now is, deplorably neg- 
lected, and not unfrequently altogether perverted. The 
great mortality which exists in infancy, and which has 
been fully shewn to be greatly influenced by improper 
treatment, renders it likely that this is also the season 
when many diseases are sown in the constitution, which 
only become visible as they ripen with the develop- 
ment of the body ; aud that we must attribute to our 
bad infant-treatment, not only the death of about 1 
in 5 of our infant population, but also the same pro- 


portion of misery which awaits us in our riper years 
in the form of disease.* 

In Mons. Quettellet's Treatise on Man he has shewn 
how remarkably even slight influences operate in modi- 
fying physical development ; and every pagfe of his work 
abounds with facts which are calculated to impress 
the most serious lesson on the mind of a mother, if 
she would ensure for her offspring a constitution free 
from disease. To do this she must begin to consi- 
der the welfare of her child in the earliest stage of 
gestation, since her state of health, both of body and 
mind, during this period, operates strongly for good 
or for evil on her future offspring. It ought, there- 
fore, to be considered a sacred duty in a mother to 
avoid, during such time, every thing likely to injure 
her child. There are certain laws which the Crea- 
tor has established to govern the habits at this pe- 
riod, and these cannot be neglected with impu- 
nity. How often does a sorrowing mother lament 

* The following is an extract from Mon. Quettelet's 
Treatise on Man, and the Developement of his Faculties ; 
a work which all interested in the physical and moral im- 
provement of man must consider of the highest importance. 
Mon. Quettelet remarks, " What first occupies our atten- 
tion is the great mortality of children after birth. To have 
an accurate idea of this, it is sufficient to consider that, in 
town as well as country, four times as many children die 
in the first month as in the second, almost as many as 
during the second and third years, although the mortality 
then is very great. Indeed the Table of Mortality shews 
that one-tenth die in the first month after birth." * * 
* * 11 xhe mortality is so great, especially for male 
children, that, from the first year after birth, the number 
is already reduced one-fourth. The loss of boys in towns 
is such, that, at the fifth year, out of 10,000, there are only 
•5,738 remaining." — Chap. V. 


over her suffering Deaf and Dumb child, for- 
getting, that she forms no exception to the ge- 
neral ordination of Providence, and that her afflic- 
tion is only a necessary effect of some disobedience 
to an established fiat of the Almighty will. She may 
have sinned ignorantly, but not the less on this ac- 
count is her disobedience punished. The regula- 
tions which ought to govern the habits of a mother 
during this important time it is not our province here 
to examine. This knowledge has already been placed 
within the reach of every intelligent parent, in the 
excellent work of Dr. Combe.* This early period 
of a child's being has been said by a learned physi- 
cian " to be the real fountain of physical educa- 
tion," and no future attention can compensate for 
errors committed at this time. We have remarked 
that early infancy is probably the age when deafness is 
often produced. The very complicated structure of the 
ear is soon affected, and is not always at once easily 
discovered to be diseased. We know that the eyes 
of children are soon injured ; and if a glaring light be 
allowed to fall upon them, or care be not taken in 
respect to cleanliness, variouss dieased states of these 
organs arise ; but any affection in these parts is easily 
observed, and we apply the remedies which are ne- 
cessary. But when the hearing is affected, we have 
no such direct guide to it, and the disease may pro- 
ceed until some of the delicately -distributed in- 
ternal parts are destroyed. And we only discover 
* Dr. Combo on the " Management of Infancy." 


the fact when we expect the child to commence its 
prattle. No period of life requires more vigilance 
than infancy ; it is then that the foundations of 
the future structure are laid — and if that struc- 
ture is to be strong, symmetrical, harmonious in 
its parts, and useful in its adaptation, we must 
begin with such a design in our earliest labours. 
These qualities may only become visible when the 
loftiest pinacle is finished, but they must have their 
beginning in the foundation. 

When a mother discovers that her child differs 
from ordinary children, that it does not attempt to 
repeat the sounds which she supposes it to hear, and 
that it allows her words of affection to pass heedlessly 
by, she becomes alarmed, and finds at last, though 
very unwillingly, that it is deaf, and consequently 
dumb. The anxiety of a mother in such circum- 
stances may be more easily conceived than described 
— her painful doubts, her anxious desires, her blighted 
hopes, all at last only quieted by the melancholy fact, 
that nothing restores the use of that sense which her 
child wants. 

Her first care, of course, when she finds her child 
does not hear, is to consult some medical practitioner. 
In this she must use prudence, if she would avoid 
giving her child unnecessary suffering. There are 
always men to be found, if we are to believe their own 
statements, that have remedies for all diseases. Let 
such practitioners be doubted. As modesty gene- 
rally accompanies talent, so pretence most frequently 


indicates ignorance. Let the person whom she con- 
sults be a regularly -admitted practitioner — a man 
who has a reputation of talent and integrity at stake. 
One having directed particular attention to aural 
cases may naturally be expected to be more success- 
ful in such diseases than one who has not paid marked 
attention to this branch of his art, and to such an 
one she will naturally give a preference. As we 
have remarked elsewhere, experience shows, in most 
cases, medical treatment fails to restore hearing, and 
a mother's hopes are again doomed to bitter disap- 
pointment. She now begins to think seriously of 
her child suffering permanently under this unhappy 
calamity, and she becomes anxious to know what can 
be done by other means to ameliorate its condition. 
She finds that from the absence of hearing she can 
not teach him as other children are taught, and that 
as he grows up he does not acquire the use of that 
most important faculty, Speech, but remains unable 
to listen to, or to return her words of affection. 
Thus she sees him from day to day remain a stranger 
in his home — unable to mingle in the lisp and 
prattle of his infant brothers and sisters, or hear the 
merry tale of the domestic hearth. It is not sur- 
prising that a parent so situated weeps over her 
misfortune and spends many anxious moments en- 
deavouring to obtain the means calculated to ame- 
liorate her child's distress. Her very anxiety often 
leads her from the only course which she is able ad- 
vantageously to pursue. 

72 A\ F.SS VT OX 

Early attention to the physical developement and 
moral training of all classes of children is of acknow- 
ledged importance, and the Deaf and Dumb do not, 
from their peculiar condition, form any exception to 
this law of Nature ; but, on the contrary, demand 
if possible a more careful attention in such particu- 
lars than others. On the parents of deaf and dumb 
children, then, this duty devolves, and it is of im- 
mense importance. For if it be neglected, no future 
education will be able to compensate for its loss. 
We have thought it advisable in this Essay to offer a 
few remarks on this subject, since experience has 
taught us that very frequently the true interests 
of the Deaf and Dumb suffer materially from a 
neglected early training. There are no institutions 
for the Deaf and Dumb, in England at least, 
where they are received sooner than the age of 
seven ; and it is for children, therefore, under 
this age, that our remarks are chiefly to be ap- 
plied. The first great object, at this age, is physi- 
cal developement — to see that the bodily organs are 
properly regulated, so as to induce in them the 
most healthy action of which they are capable, and 
to improve the constitutional vigour of the child. 
Wholesome and nourishing food, without being too 
stimulating ; exercise in the open air ; sufficiency of 
sleep and repose ; attention to cleanliness and proper 
clothing, are the heads under which Physical Edu- 
cation may be classed. To adapt tT-ese particulars to 
the constitution and circumstances of her child, must 


chiefly occupy the mind of the mother. Let her 
not trouble herself to make her child "an intel- 
lectual prodigy, which is an anomaly in nature," 
but let her anxiety be to produce a perfect and 
healthy organization, which afterwards will be able 
to withstand the fatigue which will be required in 
the coming years of mental labour. Intellectual 
education during these years will of itself proceed. 
Although the Deaf-mute may be shut out from 
hearing the sounds that are passing around him, his 
eyes will be active, and few things will pass before 
him which he will not attentively observe. By such 
means he will make himself acquainted with com- 
mon objects, and the uses to which they are applied ; 
and even with the limited intercourse that exists 
between him and his friends, he will be able to 
express his pleasure and his grief. 

While his intellectual instruction need not occupy 
particular attention, his morcd training will require 
the greatest care. He will soon begin to shew ebul- 
litions of passion and waywardness, which, if un- 
attended to, and unchecked, will soon become a source 
of grief both to himself and his friends. Let every 
attempt which he makes at communication be pa- 
tiently attended to. Endeavour, as much as possi- 
ble, to enter into his sympathies, his pleasures, and 
his pains ; his likes and his dislikes ; and try, by 
your own example, to direct his feelings into such 
channels as virtue and religion demand. Never 
heedlessly turn away from his observations, nor con- 



sider them tedious ; but however imperfectly you 
may understand his signs, always endeavour to do so, 
and never let him witness in you a want of interest 
in his welfare. His state of isolation is deplorable 
enough already, and a heedlessness on your part will 
have the tendency to make it more so by preventing 
him from offering such attempts at communication 
as his circumstances permit. Remember, that though 
he is a stranger to your discourse, he has the same 
feelings as yourself — he loves and he fears, he re- 
joices and sorrows ; and though he cannot hear 
your words, he can still read the language of feel- 
ing. Never, then, subject him unnecessarily to un- 
pleasant impressions ! treat him ever with kindness 
and affection, so that such feelings may beget similar 
ones in himself. Love him — let him feel that he is 
loved, and he will love you in return. It is true 
that the soft and soothing tones of a mother's voice 
cannot reach him; but a language little less ex- 
pressive is open to him — the language of the eyes. 
Look at him in affection and tenderness — smile upon 
him in earnest love — and his heart will be open to 
your discourse. 

Nothing can be more striking than the difference 
of character produced in the Deaf and Dumb by early 
training, and which is so visible on their entrance 
into an Institution. Those whose unfortunate lot 
has been rendered harder, by the cruel treat- 
ment of heartless men, have no confidence in you. 
They have become, like savages, suspicious and cun- 


ning ; and it is a considerable time before kindness and 
instruction can produce any degree of openness of com- 
munication. Their moral qualities have never been 
called into activity ; while in self-defence against the 
ill-usage of others, their cunning and selfishness have 
been continually exercised. In those whose early 
training has been well cared for, a great difference is 
presented. They are more open in their manners, 
kinder and more grateful in their dispositions, and, 
as a consequence, their progress under instruction is 
more rapid, and their education less difficult, both to 
themselves and to their teachers. There is another 
source of evil in the early management of the Deaf 
and Dumb, and from it probably arises more error 
than any other — it is that of ill-regulated affection on 
the part of the parent. It is unfortunate for many 
mothers that mere love for a child will not alone ac- 
complish the end of maternal duty. Were it so, 
fewer children would have to regret in after life the 
neglect of early training. A mother's love ought to 
be guided by intelligence. Love in itself is a mere 
animal instinct, and is as liable to abuse as any other 
feeling ; and, unfortunately, the effects of its abuse 
are more frequently visible than its well-regulated 
application. The infirmities of the Deaf and Dumb 
frequently tend, in this respect, against their true 
interests. It is an ordination of Providence that the 
intensity of the feeling for the love of offspring bears 
a proportion to the weakness or helplessness of its 
object ; and thus the misfortune of deafness fre- 

f 2 


quently secures to the sufferer a more than ordinary 
share of maternal affection. But, alas ! that affec- 
tion too often leads to evil consequences — irrational 
indulgences — the child being allowed to exercise 
every caprice without controul, and indulge every 
desire without resistance. Such a mother is the 
deadliest enemy to her child's happiness — her kiss is 
fatal. A parent who pampers and spoils her child 
with such ill-regulated love, instead of conducing to 
its happiness, is in danger of making it miserable. In 
proportion as a child finds its power in doing all it 
wishes, it shews the desire to increase it ; and, at 
last, it becomes a restless, headstrong, and selfish 
tyrant. The feeling of yielding to every wish of the 
child, and gratifying its desires, is one of the most un- 
fortunate qualities in the character of a mother. It 
is the cause of both misery in herself and her offspring : 
and the probability is, that when her child grows up, 
all that she will receive for this ill-regulated affec- 
tion will be coldness and indifference, or worse. 
She may wonder and talk of the ingratitude of chil- 
dren : but she ought to know that its true cause was 
in herself. With what anxiety ought parents, then, 
to watch the early years of children : for, " without 
such watchfulness," says Dr. Gregory, " they will 
contract such bad health, such bad tempers, and such 
bad habits, as will remain with them, in spite of all 
future care, as long as they live." * Think then what 
evil may be produced if the Deaf-mute be left to gra- 
» Dr. John Gregory's " Comparative View of Man," &c. 


tify every capricious wish, and indulge, without con- 
troul, every evil passion which may arise in his mind, 
such evil as all future instruction and moral training 
may never be able to eradicate. It is not till some 
advance is made in the instruction of the Deaf and 
Dumb, that we are enabled to impress them with the 
knowledge of the attributes of a God, and their duty 
to him as their Creator and Preserver. They can 
not for sometime learn their state as fallen creatures, 
and as being objects of a Saviour's love. They have 
not, therefore, these motives to lead them to acts of 
duty. At first, they ought to be taught implicit obe- 
dience to the will of a parent : and this duty ought 
to be insisted upon from them with undeviating strict- 
ness. So great is the necessity for enforcing this duty, 
that no parent should, in the first instance, request 
the performance of any act, if, on the refusal of the 
child, she is not prepared to insist upon its being 
done. It is much better not to require it, than, 
after making the requirement, to let the child escape 
without obeying. It often happens that, from 
allowing unimportant requests to pass without being 
complied with, a child learns to resist more un- 
important ones : for we cannot expect that a child 
will be able to distinguish such differences, or, 
indeed, desire to do so : the only wish it has in 
such cases is to gratify its own feelings. How great, 
then, are the duties of a parent, and yet how little 
are they generally thought of. Even when a mother 
does feel an interest in the education of her chil- 


dren, how seldom is it that her own education ena- 
hles her to fulfil properly her duties. From a want 
of knowledge, hoth on the bodily and mental consti- 
tution of her child, she frequently, in her very at- 
tempts at improvement, produces the contrary results. 
In the years of childhood, the chief mental education 
which is required is the education of the feelings. 
To train these, so that none shall be manifested too 
strongly or too feebly, it is surely requisite to have 
some knowledge of the various feelings which go to 
form the character of man. A mother, therefore, 
ought to possess a knowledge of the mental facul- 
ties exhibited by her child, and how and when to ap- 
peal to them as motives to exertion. True it is, that 
motives are appealed to ; but in such appeals there 
is a want of every thing approaching to definite or 
systematic knowledge. Any thing like proper at- 
tempts to strengthen the feelings, which are but 
feebly developed, or to repress such as are unduly 
active, are scarcely ever made. How true and how 
forcible are the following lines of Mrs. Maclean, re- 
ferring to the early management of children : — 

" How much they suffer from our faults, 
How much from our mistakes ; 
How often, too, mistaken zeal 
A pupil's misery makes." 

It is unfortunate that women have never yet been 
educated with the view of becoming parents. How- 
ever fascinating and elegant may be the accomplish- 
ments which occupy the principal attention in a 


young lady's education, they are by no means fitted 
to Supersede higher and nobler studies. Nature has 
given us faculties which fit us to receive pleasurable 
emotions from the beautiful in sound, form, and co- 
lour : but she has also implanted within us powers 
which are designed to enable us to perform the duties 
demanded of us as citizens, parents, and human beings, 
and when the due cultivation of any of these is ne- 
glected, education is imperfect. " That is the best 
education,'' says Plato, "which gives to the body 
and to the mind all the perfection of which they are 
capable." But in modern female education a very par- 
tial perfection is thought sufficient. Women are in- 
structed to become musicians, artists, and proficients 
in dancing (all rational pursuits, as far as they go) ; 
but are they fitted to fulfil the responsible duties 
of wives and mothers ? On these subjects they have 
too frequently to learn when they should act ; and 
the consequence is, that they rarely accomplish 
either well. Before, therefore, the education of 
woman, on whom is to devolve the duties of training 
the minds of others, at the time when these are 
most susceptible of impressions, can be called com- 
plete, the nature of both the bodily and mental 
constitution of man ought to form a prominent 
feature in her studies. Nor, indeed, until such an 
extension shall have taken place in the education 
of women, will society be freed from much of the 
bodily suffering, intellectual inability, and moral de- 
gradation, which it now so plentifully exhibits. What 


different results would be produced on the character 
of society, if domestic education were better under- 
stood. It is in the first developement of the evil 
propensities in man, that they are most easily re- 
pressed, and when the habits favourable to morality 
and happiness are soonest formed. How different 
it would be with education, if parents were themselves 
what they wished to see in their children. All chil- 
dren have strong tendencies to imitate the actions 
which they see performed by others. But the imi- 
tative impulse is pre-eminently powerful in the Deaf 
and Dumb. Parents, therefore, of such children 
ought to be in themselves examples of a Christian 
perfection : they ought constantly to be alive to the 
beautiful and the good : they ought to create around 
their afflicted offspring an atmosphere untainted by 
vice : no storms of passion — no withering blights of 
neglect ought ever there to be experienced. 

In these remarks we have endeavoured to shew 
that the chief care of the parent, in the first years of 
her child's education, ought principally to be devoted 
to the developement of the bodily organs, and to the 
formation of good moral habits ; and that lessons 
which would fatigue the mind are not to be attempt- 
ed. Before seven years of age, any continued 
application is calculated to fatigue, and becomes 
more injurious than beneficial. The health obtained 
by exercise in the open air, the cheerful play in the 
green fields, is, at this period of life, far more valua- 
ble than any scholastic information that can be given. 


It sometimes happens, however, that children are 
prevented from being placed under instruction after 
the age, when it becomes desirable that they should 
commence learning easy lessons. A few hints on the 
kind of lessons which ought to be then given may 
assist parents whose circumstances require them ; 
and if such instruction were well imparted, it would 
be of considerable advantage in facilitating the pro- 
gress of the child whenever it might be placed under 
a proper instructor. It is rather curious to observe, 
that almost all persons, who endeavour to give some 
preliminary instruction to the Deaf and Dumb, begin 
at the wrong end, and consequently the time and 
labour of such kind but ill-directed efforts are thrown 
away. Whereas, if such exertion was but properly 
directed, it would be of real advantage to the pro- 
gress of the pupil when placed in an Institution. — 
In most cases where attempts have been made, either 
by parents or ordinary teachers — and several in- 
stances of both have come within our own experience 
— to convey instruction to the Deaf-mute, they have 
generally commenced by writing some text of Scrip- 
ture, or moral maxim, before the child, teaching him 
to spell it on his fingers, or to copy it on a slate. — 
They do not see that, however correctly he might 
copy the forms before him, they remain still to him 
only so many unmeaning marks. The words them- 
selves are not to him representatives of the things. 
A boy was once brought to an Institution where we 
were, by a village schoolmaster, who stated that he 


had already taught him some useful knowledge ; and, 
being asked to name what he had taught him, said 
that, amongst other things, he had taught him to 
know that "the way of God was a good way." 
Being asked to shew how he knew that the boy 
understood the sentence, he made the pupil copy it ; 
and this was to him a sufficient proof, although, it ap- 
peared, he had never even attempted to explain either 
what God was, or what the way of God, was. Now 
it would be a considerable time before an experienced 
teacher would introduce such a sentence to a pupil ; 
because, before attempting to do so, he must have ex- 
plained to him something of the nature of the Al- 
mighty — of the different actions and thoughts of man 
— have pointed out those which God commands and 
approves, and those which he forbids, so as to shew 
the difference between good and bad, as applied to 
obedience or disobedience to God's will : and then, 
after such preliminary instruction, the way of God 
would still have to be explained as a metaphorical 

It will be seen, from this that considerable previous 
instruction would be required before such a sentence 
couldbeconveyedso as to be understood. It is hoped, 
therefore, that a few observations here, on the man- 
ner in which such instruction ought to be com- 
menced, and a few examples of early lessons suited to 
the capacity of the Deaf and Dumb, will be found 
of use to those persons whose kindness or whose 
duty leads them to be interested in the wel- 


fare of this unfortunate class of children. It is not 
intended to give anything like a lengthened or 
systematic view of the suhject, nor to enter into 
an enumeration of the various expedients which some- 
times are required for communicating language to 
Deaf-mutes ; hut merely to give such hints as are 
likely to be useful in guiding an ordinary person, in 
his efforts to be of assistance to them, before they are 
placed under proper instruction. The first object of 
the teacher must be to find out such words as will be 
most easily conveyed to his pupil. He will find these 
to be the names of the common objects around him, 
and for which, if the parent is the teacher, a sign will 
already have been used between his child and him- 
self. Select some of these objects, taking one at a 
time, and place it before the pupil ; if he has a sign 
for it, he will probably make it to the teacher, and 
let the teacher receive this as the sign of the object. 
Let this be done with two or three more objects, then 
referring to the first object, let its name be written 
down on a slate or tablet, and to shew the pupil that 
this is also a sign for the object, remove it, and call 
a child that can read, and shew him the word, and re- 
quire him to bring, or touch, or point to, the object 
which the name represents. Repeat this with other 
objects, and the deaf and dumb child will soon see that 
the word and the object have a connexion as well as 
his sign and the object. The following are words 
well suited for the first lesson ; they may, however, 










be altered, extended, or reduced, at pleasure, accord- 
ing to circumstances : — 

Pin, Book. Hat, 

Key, Ear, Pen, 

Axe, Pencil, Nose, 

Cow, Cap, Shoe, 

This lesson can be gone over, frequently until the pupil 
knows the meaning of all the words. Thathe does so 
can be easily ascertained, by requiring him to point out 
the object in connection with its name, or to make his 
sign of the object. Such objects as cannot be shewn 
may be represented by pictures. The child must be 
taught to write the words, and at the same time to 
spell them on his fingers, by means of the Manual 
Alphabet. Thus the exercise will be, first, write the 
names of the objects, and point out to which object 
each name refers : then require the pupil to point 
out the object from the name, or the name from the 
object ; then make him spell each name on his fin- 
gers, and then let him copy the words on a slate. — 
When he is able to write, let him from your signs, or 
pointing to the object, write its name. This will be 
another mode of varying the exercise. 

With regard to signs, the child will most likely 
have already fixed upon signs, by which it names 
most of the objects given in the above lesson, and 
which it uses in its intercourse with its friends. 
These signs had always better be retained ; and if a 
word has not received such a sign, endeavour to get 
the child to fix upon one. It will do this most pro- 


bably better than you. We give here some descrip- 
tion of the signs generally used for a few of the ob- 
jects named above, which will afford some assistance 
towards forming an idea of the character of signs for 
objects : — 

Pin. — Indicate on your finger the length of a 
pin. Make an appearance of holding it 
between your finger and thumb, touching 
your flesh with the point, then suddenly 
draw away your hand, to shew that such 
contact gives you pain. You may also indi- 
cate that it is put into the cuff of the coat, 
where boys generally keep such articles. 
Book. — Place your two hands together, in the form 
of a book ; hold them up before your face, 
and give the appearance of reading. 
Hat. — Draw the hand round, in the form of a 
hat, and make the appearance of placing 
the object on your head. 
Knife. — Make with your finger somewhat in the form 
of a knife, and draw the forefinger of the 
right hand over the forefinger of the left, 
indicative of the act of cutting. 
Egg. — Indicate the size and figure of the object ; 
make signs expressive of breaking the top 
of the shell upon your fist, and of eating 
the contents in the manner usually done. 
Key. — Indicate the form of the object, and the act 
of turning round, and locking or unlock- 


Cat. — Indicate the size of the animal ; draw your 
hands from each side of your mouth, to 
shew it has whiskers. Stroke your arm 
down several times, to shew the softness of 
its fur, and make the appearance of scratch- 
ing, hy applying your nails to your hand, 
and suddenly drawing it away. 
Dog. — Shew the size of the animal, by holding 
your hand about its height from the ground : 
then pat your thigh, as is done in the act of 
calling a dog. You may also imitate its 
action in barking. 
Cow — Draw your hands from your head, as if 
horns were issuing, and make the appear- 
ance of milking the animal. 
House. — Put your fingers on your head, in the posi- 
tion of ears : shew that something is put 
in its mouth, and put yourself in the posi- 
tion of a rider, imitating his movement 
Ass. — Somewhat similar signs as above, elongat- 
ing the ears more, and making the pace 
less active. 
These examples will help to give some notion of 
the plan of expressing objects by signs. The gene- 
ral direction for forming such signs is — indicate the 
size and form of the object, and give its most strik- 
ing quality. But in all the first lessons, it will be 
more advisable to teach generally from the object 
itself, and using, when a sign is necessary, the one 



The following words will also 

given by the pupil, 
be found suitable : — 

Pipe, Comb, Bird, Fish, Goose, 
Slate, Sheep, Rat, Tub, Desk, 

Clock, Watch, Fox, Rabbit, Hen, 

Cock, Coat, Pig, Moon, Spider, 

Fly. Cage, Door, Spade, Owl, 

Thimble, Needle, Candle, Box, Paper, 
Wafer, Ink, Inkstand, Ruler, String, 

Feather, Bottle, Brush, Grate, Sealing-waXj 
Fire, Potatoes, Pudding, Pie, Cabbage, 

Plate, Desk, Fork, Lamp, Glass, 

Bread, Water, Man, Boy, Girl. 

The plan to be followed in teaching here, is the same as 
given above. The sign generally used for man is made 
by touching the chin, to indicate the beard, and hold- 
ing up the hand, to shew his height from the ground. 
The sign for woman is, to touch the forehead, indi- 
cating the parting of the hair, and shewing the 
height the same as before ; boy and girl are made by 
similar signs, only reducing the height to the re- 
quired size. Child is made by imitating the nursing 
of a mother, shewing the general movement she uses 
when the child is in her arms. Male and female are 
shewn by touching the chin for the male, and the 
forehead for the female. Thus, the sign for a duck 
would be the bird with the flat bill, and the waddling 
gait, that swims in the water ; and to distinguish the 
drake, would be the same signs, but with the additional 
touch of the chin. Where a striking difference 


exists in the appearance of the different sex, that 
may sometimes be fixed upon, as the curled feathers 
in the tail of the drake, but the other is the general 
mode of indicating gender . Neuter is of course neither 
the one or the other. The names of sex, when ex- 
pressed by different words or by different termina- 
tions, only need to be pointed out, indicating each 
by the proper distinguishing signs. 

The article a or an is expressed by holding up 
the fore finger indicating one. An is shewn to be 
used only when the noun begins with a vowel, shew- 
ing which letters are so called. The plural may be 
taught at the same time, and is signed by holding up 
two, three, or four fingers : or suppose the word pin 
was to be taught, take one pin, and write down a 
pin, then add some more to the one, and shew that 
it is one no longer, but many, and write pins. Many 
is signed by holding up all the fingers, and moving 
them backwards and forwards. Thus an exercise 
on a and the plwral is — 

A Pen, Pens. 

— Cat, 

Make the pupil here supply the blanks from the 
word, which has been taught. The word an and 
plwral may be also shewn in a similar manner — 

An Egg, Eggs, 

— Awl, 



Lessons on the irregular plurals may be given in 
the same manner. When the child has made a little 
progress in his vocabulary, and acquired some facility 
in writing and spelling, a more systematic arrange- 
ment of names may be made, and adjectives com- 
menced, keeping him to such as are expressive of 
sensible qualities. Let the words which you are now to 
give be such as the child will often be called upon 
to use ; and in enumerating the names of objects, 
of any class, do not at first extend your list to objects 
that are not likely to be familiar to the pupil. A gene- 
ral rule which you will do well to remember is, never 
to oppress the memory of your pupil with words 
which he will rarely find occasion to use ; but rather 
to keep extending his vocabulary in words likely to 
be frequently required by him in his endeavours 
to express himself in language. 

In a classified arrangement of words, articles of 
clothing may be the first ; it will give many words 
which will be often required for the child to use. 
Hat, Cap, Jacket, Coat, 

Waistcoat, Trowsers, Shoes, Boots, 

Stockings, Bonnet, Pinafore, Frock, 
Shirt, Collar, Neckerchief, Handkerchief. 

Button, Comforter, Nightcap, Garters, 

Veil, Muff, Shawl. Gown. 









Thin, Heavy, Light, Rough, 

Smooth, Long, Short. Tough. 

These are to be taught in comhiuation, a9 — 
A black hat, A white hat, 

An old jacket, A new jacket, 

An old shoe, A new shoe, 

An old shirt, A new shirt, 

A clean handkerchief, A dirty handkerchief, 
A clean coat, A dirty coat, 

&c, &c. 

The qualities introduced here are such as will be 
easily perceived by the pupil if objects are shewn 
him in which such qualities are prominent. If the 
teacher uses contrasts, as old hat, new hat, he will 
find it of considerable help to him. After this 
exercise has been taught, the Articles of Food, — 
Articles in a School-room, — Domestic Animals, &c, 
may be gone through. To give a little more life to 
his lessons, the simple words — Bring, Touch, Strike, 
Catch, may be introduced, and to each new classifi- 
cation of objects introduced the teacher may extend 
also the list of such simple actions. Such sentences 
as the following may be written, and the pupil re- 
quired to perform them : — 

Bring a new book. Bring an old book. 

Bring a white hat. Bring a black coat. 

Bring a short pipe. Bring a long pipe. 

With regard to the signs of such sentences, it may 
be stated that Bring will be illustrated by doing the 
thing required, and Touch, Strike, 4rc, will be imi- 


tating such actions. The pupil may be shewn at 
first the use of Bring, by the teacher requiring 
another child to perform the action after it is written 
down. To express by signs, " Bring a black hat," 
it would be necessary first to point to, or make the 
sign of, a hat, holding up the fore-finger for a, then 
to shew its quality, black, and, lastly, to shew that it 
was to be brought by the action so expressive. 
This sentence in signs therefore would stand thus : 
hat a black bring. Numbers may be taught by the use 
of the ordinary Arithmometer, now generally seen 
in all infant schools. Let the child be shewn one 
ball, and shew him that it is called one, which he can 
write down both in figures and in letters, thus : — 
* 1 one ****** g g^ 

* * 2 two ******* 7 seven 

* * * 3 three ******** 8 eight 

* * * * 4 f our ********* 9 nin p, 

***** g £yg ********** JQ ^gJJ 

He may also be made to express these numbers by 
holding up one, two, three, &c, fingers. Such ex- 
ercises as the following will be useful both in ex- 
tending the use of numbers, adjectives, and nouns, 
and also will teach the use of the conjunction and : — 

Two fat cows and one lean cow. 
Four white dogs and three black cats. 
Two small desks and six large benches. 
Eight short pins and three long pins. 

The following lesson may be made very useful in 

G 2 


introducing many new words, and will also bring in 
the habitual form of the verb : — 

The baker bakes bread and pies. 

The butcher kills cows and sheep. 

The mason builds houses. 

The joiner makes tables, chairs, benches, &c. 

The hairdresser cuts hair. 

The shoemaker makes shoes. 

The miller grinds corn. 

The fisherman catches fish. 
This lesson may be carried through the trades which 
the pupil is likely to know. The present time of the 
verb to have may be introduced in the following 
manner. Let the teacher show to the pupil any ob- 
ject which he possesses, say, for instance, a watch, 
then let him write down — 

Mr. has a watch. 

has a black coat. 

has a knife. 

has a pair of boots. 

J. (name of pupil) has a jacket. 

has black hair. 

. has blue eyes. 

has a pair of shoes. 

Let also the names of persons whom the pupil knows 
be written down, and let the pupil supply examples 
of what he knows them to have. 

The personal pronouns may form the next step, 
with the verb to have. Write down — 

Mr. has a watch ; and then rub out the 



Mr. and has, and write I have, pointing to yourself 
for I. Continue this through several examples, and 
then let the pupil write down what he possesses. 
Go through the other persons in a similar manner, 
pointing to the persons indicated. Such examples 
as the following will be found very useful as well as 
likely to interest the pupil : — 

a head. 

A cow has 

A lion has 

A bird bas 

four legs, 
a long tail, 
a thick skin, 
a long mane. 

two legs. 

Give a good number of such examples, letting the 
pupils supply the blanks. Questions such as, — What 
has two wings? Who has a watch? What has a 
long tail ? — might now be put. The verb to be 
(to exist), present time, can be taught by such a 
lesson as the following : — 

I am a, 


Thou art a 


He is a 



She is a 



It is a 





We are men. 
You are boys. 
They are girls. 

To illustrate the use of the pronouns, / must be 
shewn to have reference to the person writing ; 
thou, to some one who is communicated with, and 
pointed to ; he is signed by touching the chin and 
pointing ; and she by touching the forehead and 
pointing. We is signed by bringing round the 
hand as pointing to many, and including yourself; 
and you by pointing round to many, but not including 
yourself. They is pointing to several, but at a dis- 
tance, or not spoken with. Many examples must 
be given to illustrate the use of both to have and 
to be. Such exercises as the following are useful : — 


John S is \ careful. 



R. S is I sulky. 



John and James are little boys. 
They are not strong. 
They are not deaf. 
They are active. 
They are honest. 
They are kind. 



treacle are swee 






not bitter. 






are yellow. 












&c, &c, &c. 
Such examples as these ought to be continued to a 
considerable number, as they are calculated to bring 
before the pupil a great variety of words which will 
be useful in extending his vocabulary. This form, 
with those also given of the verb to have, and the 
application of the forms of the simple habitual, as, 
" The shoemaker makes shoes," " the horse draws 
carts, ploughs, waggons, &c," will give the teacher 
the means of varying the forms of his lesson. Let 
him also introduce, when it is convenient, the use of 
the conjunction and numbers. By these means he 
will have the power of introducing the names of ob- 
jects, and their qualities and simple actions. 

Having carried our hints so far, we feel that to 
advance further would require our remarks to be 
made so much more in detail, and our illustrations 
to be so numerous, that they would not be suited to 
the limits of a small volume. Our observations, more- 
over, are not made with the view of fitting a person 
to become a teacher of Deaf-mutes, but to guide 
those who may for a short time have the opportunity 


of being useful to them before entering an Institu- 
tion. After the age of eight or nine it is most de- 
sirable that a child should be placed under a com- 
petent instructor ; one who has made the subject his 
peculiar study. Under such a person only is it to 
be expected that a child can be effectually educated. 
Nor is it to be wondered at if even under such cir- 
cumstances, with all the aids that experience, inge- 
nuity, and patience can afford, the progress of a 
Deaf-mute's instruction, incumbered as it is with 
difficulties, is slow and uncertain — and that the re- 
sults prove, in this instance, as in every other, that 
the perfection of nature is not to be reached by even 
the most elaborate efforts of art. 

NOTES. 97 


The following observations on the cures of Deafness are ex- 
tracted from a letter which appeared in the Glasgow He- 
rald, written by Mr. Baker, of the Doncaster Institution, 
and presents a very complete summary of all that is of in- 
terest on the subject : — " My experience among the Deaf 
and Dumb has extended over fifteen years ; and during the 
whole of that time I have inquired much into the physical 
means employed to restore hearing. I have heard of some 
instances of partial success in cases of acquired Deafness ; 
but I have heard but of one single instance in which a 
totally deaf person was restored to hearing, and this was 
at Brussels, fifteen or sixteen years ago. This case I only 
know of by report, and have never seen it recorded. Hun- 
dreds of attempted cures have been made known to me. 
Professional men of high characters and attainments have 
devoted themselves to the subject, but in all cases they 
have ultimately despaired of success, and have left the prac- 
tice; and the ground, thus desertedby regular practitioners, 
under the impression that nothing satisfactory could be 
achieved, has been most profitably occupied by empirics 
and ignorant pretenders. 

" But, although I have not been so fortunate as to meet 
with any cases in which hearing has been restored to the 
totally deaf, I would by no means have it inferred that it is 
impossible or impracticable. I shall state cases of restora- 
tion which deserve consideration — all, indeed, on which re- 
liance can be placed, together with any evidence that can 

98 NOTES. 

be adduced to warrant such reliance. And in thus fairly- 
stating all that have been recorded, I trust it will be con- 
sidered that there is no wish on my part to conceal any 
fact which offers ground for hope that relief may be offered. 
An article which appeared in Silliman's American Journal, 
in 1836, supplies abundant information on this subject; 
and from this article I shall extract most of my facts. They 
are all mentioned by Itard — ' TraiU des Maladies de V Oreille 
etde l' Audition. Paris, 1821. 

" Two hundred years ago, it was a general opinion that 
dumbness was caused by some organic defect in the organs 
of speech. It is now well known that the Deaf have the 
power of producing vocal sounds, and, indeed, of speaking 
and reading, and that these persons are dumb only because 
they are deaf. "When this was first ascertained, it was na- 
tural that every method should be resorted to that science 
or medicine offered, to accomplish their restoration to hear- 
ing ; for, possessing this faculty, language would soon be 
acquired, and they would be at once restored to the society 
of their fellow-men. Many distinguished physicians have, 
in different plans, directed their skill and science to various 
modes of curing or relieving Deafness. Amongst these, the 
much-lamented Sir Astley Cooper and Mr. Cleland, in 
England ; Drs. Itard and Deleau, in France ; Hendriskz 
and Guyot, in Holland ; and Hymly in Germany j may be 
mentioned as having taken extraordinary pains to ensure 
success in the means they devised and adopted. The first 
object with these practitioners was to endeavour to ascer- 
tain the causes of Deafness by post mortem examinations. 
Here a difficulty presented itself ; and it may be imagined 
that several years must have passed before a sufficient num- 
ber of such examinations could take place to warrant any 
definite conclusions. Dr. Itard, of Paris, perhaps, accom- 
plished more on this particular point than any other prac- 
titioner. His opinion was, that Deafness, when so total as 

NOTES. 99 

to occasion Dumbness, was invariably the consequence of 
paralysis of the auditory nerve. Farther observation, how- 
ever, enabled him to discover, in some cases, palpable 
causes for this defect. In two cases he found chalky con- 
cretions in the cavity of the tympanum ; in two others he 
found fungous excrescences. The fifth case presented a 
mass of gelatinous matter, which filled the cavity of the 
tympanum and the auditory passage. In another, who 
died of malignant fever, the auditory nerve was of no greater 
consistence than mucus. Itard has recorded, in his Trea- 
tise on the Maladies of the Ear, all the cases of cure pre- 
vious to the time of himself and his contemporaries : these 
are few, and well worthy of being known. Amatus, of 
Portugal, informs us of a child who was dumb till twelve 
years of age, who, at the end of that time, began to talk 
easily and plainly. He says the cure was owing to a seton 
which was applied to the back of her neck, which dried up 
certain feculent humours with which the head was filled. 
He makes no mention of Deafness, but it is impossible to at- 
tribute her Dumbness to any other cause. Besides, he relates 
this fact in connection with the cure of a case of acquired 
Deafness. Desgrands Pres, a physician of Grenoble, com- 
municated to Lazarus Riviere another case. A wandering 
beggar arrived by night at Pousenac, with his sick Deaf and 
Dumb child, who was suffering from fever. For several 
days they were charitably provided for ; at length the fa- 
ther, thinking the child would die, abandoned him and left 
the place. The patient was, however, cured, and on his 
recovery was employed to take care of some sheep. Some 
years after he received a blow on the occiput, which frae- 
turedit, but, under the care of an able surgeon, it was healed, 
and, as the cure advanced, the sense of hearing recovered 
its functions ; the man began to mutter a few words, and in 
time he was able to hear and speak distinctly. This power 
he retained to the end of his life. 

100 NOTES. 

The third case recorded by Itard is more generally 
known ; it is of a young man who had been born Deaf and 
Dumb, the son of a labourer at Chartres. At the age of 21 
he suddenly began to speak, to the great astonishment of 
all who knew him. It was ascertained from him that three 
or four months previously he hadheard the sound of thebells, 
to his great surprise, for this was to him a new sensation. 
Subsequently a watery discharge had taken place in his 
left ear, after which he heard perfectly with both. For 
three or four months he listened without speaking, and he 
spent this time in repeating to himself the words which he 
heard, and in becoming acquainted with words and the 
ideas attached to them. Then, believing himself suffi- 
ciently acquainted with language, he broke silence, though 
his speech was for some time imperfect. 

M. Varroine, a French physician, mentions an instance 
in which the application of the moxa was successful. (This 
is a lanuginous or cottony substance, which is burnt slowly 
in contact with the skin, for the purpose of producing cau- 
terisation.) — The patient was a young lady of Malaga, who 
was born Deaf, and was then twenty years of age. The 
tongue of the patient appeared to M. Varroine a little 
thicker than usual, and, as he regarded the case as present- 
ing a simultaneous paralysis of the ear and tongue, he ap- 
plied two moxas — one on the back of the neck, and the 
other under the chin, as near as possible to the root of the 
tongue. Each of the moxas was about the diameter of a 
crown, and produced a considerable inflammation in about 
seven days. There was a large swelling on the anterior 
part of the neck, which extended down to the breasts : it 
was accompanied with a violent fever of 24 hours, and 
ended in a copious perspiration. On the twelfth or four- 
teenth day the scabs fell off, and their loss was followed by 
considerable suppuration. The operator remarks that at 
this period the tongue was free in its movements, and dimi- 

NOTES. 101 

nished in thickness. In a little more than two months after 
the application of the moxas, the young lady began to hear 
the ringing of bells. Her hearing continued to improve, 
and in a short time her Deafness was completely dissipated. 
She afterwards began to articulate words. Dr. Itard re- 
marks on this case, very justly, that the operator probably 
deceived himself as to there being paralysis of the tongue, 
as this never causes total Dumbness. The cure of the 
Deafness was sufficient to call forth the functions of the 
vocal organs. 

In the year 1786, a Botanical physician, as he styled him- 
self, named Felix Merle, commenced a course of treatment 
for Deafness on all the pupils in the Institution for the Deaf 
and Dumb at Bordeaux : the number amounted to twenty- 
six or twenty-seven. His treatment consisted in introduc- 
ing, morning and evening, into each ear, a drop of a certain 
liquid, which was kept there by a bit of cotton. This treat- 
ment was continued for a month, and had no effect but in 
two instances. The first was the case of a boy, eight or 
nine years of age, who had become Deaf when young, but 
who yet heard a little with one ear. After the treatment 
had been continued twenty-three or twenty-four days, he 
experienced great pain in both ears, and the introduction of 
the liquid became insupportable. Some days after, a puru- 
lent discharge took place from both ears, the child began 
to hear more distinctly, and, though not perfectly, he 
learned to speak and to make use of language, which power 
he has since retained, though he has never heard nor spoken 
so well as other persons. 

The second case in which the treatment of Merle was 
successful was of a girl sixteen years of age, who was 
born with the sense of hearing quite perfect, and who began 
to talk at fifteen or sixteen months old. This child caught 
cold, from being placed on the grass in a vineyard where 
her mother was employed. She experienced similar sensa- 

102 NOTES. 

tions, on the application of the liquid, to those of the boy 
already spoken of, and about the same time after the treat- 
ment had commenced. On the twenty-eighth day she felt 
an inclination to sneeze, which was followed by a copious 
discharge of purulent matter from both ears. Soon after 
perfect hearing was re-established, and she learned to speak 

These are all the well-authenticated instances previous to 
more recent efforts. Of the six cases, one was spontaneous, 
andfive were produced by extreme irritation of certain parts. 
The two extraordinary cures effected at Bordeaux 
attracted the attention of Itard, and he endeavoured to 
ascertain the composition of the liquid employed. The 
Professor refused to disclose the secret. He, however, sent 
Itard a small quantity, which was tried on three Deaf and 
Dumb persons without any result. He offered to purchase 
the secret, but was refused, on the ground that the govern- 
ment only could afford a sufficient recompense. On the 
death of the inventor, however, his wife communicated the 
remedy to Dr. Itard, which is here given : — 

R. Pulverised Asarabacca Two Drachms. 

Rose Leaves. One Pinch. 

Horse Radish One Drachm. 

Parsley Pert ■ One Pinch. 

White Wine Bight Ounces. 

Boil to one-half, strain, and add Sea Salt, two drachms. 
Several of these ingredients had at that time a reputation 
of utility in cases of Deafness, and the liquid was tried on 
all the pupils in the Paris Institution who had lost the 
power of hearing in infancy. The hopes that had been 
formed were, however, wholly frustrated, since none of the 
effects which had followed the treatment at Bordeaux took 
place. Subsequently it was employed in a number of other 
cases, but with the same lack of success, with one slight 

NOTES. 103 

M. Itard applied the moxa to nine or ten pupils in the In- 
stitution atPaiis. He states that several of the pupils in that 
Institution had formerly been subjected to the same treat- 
ment, but in all cases without success. He then employed 
the actual cautery, a remedy similar to the moxa, and it 
was attended with better results. The patient was a child 
of four and a half years, with a good constitution, and in 
perfect health, but quite destitute of hearing and speech. 
The cautery was applied on each of the mastoid processes, 
with an iron heated white ; it was followed by abundant 
suppuration, and an eruption of purulent matter. Signs of 
hearing were shortly afterwards observed, and, as this 
power increased, the child began to repeat a few words, 
though it was necessary to pronounce them with a very ele- 
vated voice. Eighteen months after, the child pronounced 
words with tolerable distinctness, but his deafness was 
not wholly removed. The result of this treatment was 
enough to inspire hope, and it was employed in three other 
cases of congenital deafness, but without the slightest 

M. Itard still persevered in spite of continued failures ; 
he employed a new experiment in his next case, a child of 
three or four years old, whose Deafness was attributed to 
convulsions at the time of dentition. This new treatment 
consisted chiefly in the application of blisters. It was-suc- 
cessful, but in forty other cases in which it was afterwards 
employed no similar success followed. 

The next course of experiments to which the Deaf and 
Dumb were subjected, on the failure of the stimulating 
means which have been detailed, had for their object the re- 
moval of those material causes in the ear which prevent or 
obstruct the admission or circulation of sound. The two 
principal operations to effect this were perforation of the 
Tympanum and hyeetion of the Eustachian Tube. If this 
tube be obstructed, so that no air can pass through it into 

104 NOtES. 

the Tympanum, or if the Tympanum itself be filled with 
mucus, or any other material substance, or if its membrane 
become ossified, or so thick that it cannot communicate the 
vibrations of sound, the hearing will inevitably be destroyed. 
Such accidents often occur, and are a frequent source of 
total Deafness. 

Sir Astley Cooper, in the year 1800, performed the 
operation of perforating the Tympanum on many Deaf per- 
sons. His success for a time appeared promising, and the 
same operation was immediately practised in France and 
Germany. Not only simple perforation of the Tympanum, 
but the removal of a portion of the membrane, with an instru- 
ment shaped like a punch, was practised in some instances ; 
but no efforts could prevent the aperture from closing and 
becoming healed. Hymly, a German physician, performed 
this operation four times on one individual without being 
able to preserve the opening. Itard endeavoured to modify 
this system of practice, and certainly improved it, but he 
acknowledges that his success was completely temporary, 
and he renounced this operation as a method of cure. It 
was, however, taken up by M. Deleau : he contrived an 
instrument of more complicated structure than any that 
had been hitherto employed, which would render impos- 
sible the obliteration of the aperture ; and he published, in 
1822, a memoir on the results of twenty-five of his experi- 
ments. A reviewer of the pamphlet says, " In reading this 
essay it is difficult to avoid the conviction, notwithstanding 
the constant effort he makes to show the remarkable suc- 
cess he has met with, that, even if truly related, it is scarcely 
worth mentioning. In some cases, to his great disappoint- 
ment, the aperture closes ; in others, a promising subject, 
when just about to demonstrate the complete success of his 
operation, is afflicted with a cold, or some form of disease, 
and again plunged into his original state of Deafness ; some- 
times the parents are perverse enough to deny that the 

NOTES. 105 

hearing of their children is improved, and sometimes the 
children hear well enough, but utterly refuse to talk ! To 
judge from the cases before us, he seems to have succeeded 
in every thing except restoring his patients to the full and 
permanent use of the sense of hearing. In this it is per- 
fectly evident that he met with no success. He has not 
recorded a single instance in which a patient was so far 
restored to hearing as actually to have acquired the use of 
language.' He has abandoned the use of his instrument, 
and in his latter writings scarcely makes mention of the 
operation, which is conclusive as to his opinion respecting 

At the Institution at Gronigen, in Holland, the operation 
was performed on eighty-one individuals. Of these only 
seventeen had their hearing in the least improved, and of 
these /owrfeen relapsed into their original state of Deafness 
in less than nine months. The remaining three preserved 
theirs, but not to such an extent as to be of any use to them 
in the acquisition of language. 

All late writers on Deafness unite in condemning the per- 
foration of the membrane of the tympanum ; among these 
may be mentioned Dr. Wright, the author of one of the 
most practical works on Deafness that has yet appeared, 
Professor Dubois, M. Richerand, M. Saissy, M. Berjaud, 
and M. Itard. 

A new mode of operation was devised by Itard, with 
some promise of success. Having found in two Mutes, who 
died within a few months of each other, chalky concretions 
in one, and mucus concretion in the other, obstructing the 
internal ear, he injected the cavity of the tympanum, 
through the membrane to expel the concretions, through the 
Eustachian tube. The first Deaf and Dumb boy on which 
he operated was of that small number who owe their defect 
to this cause. He was 12 years of age, and Deaf from birth. 
His power of hearing was established, and, had he lived, 


106 NOTES. 

he would probably have acquired the use of speech ; but 
he was attacked with a disease which baffled skill, and 
died a few months after the operation. Itard was encou- 
raged to repeat his experiment on twelve other Deaf-mutes, 
but no further evidence of its utility appeared, and he aban- 
doned it in despair. 

Attention was next directed to the injection of the Eus- 
tachian tube, in order to allow of a free admission of air 
into the cavity of the tympanum. This injection was per- 
formed through the mouth, the instrument being applied to 
the extremity of the passage to be injected. The idea was 
abandoned for some time, from a distrust of its efficacy, 
though in one case it had been found useful. An English 
surgeon, Mr. Cleland, suggested an improvement in the in- 
strument, and that it should be directed by the Eustachian 
tube through the nose. The operation was performed by a 
greatnumber of individuals, both here and abroad, but it was 
considered to have demonstrated nothing more than the 
practicability of injecting the Eustachion tube. Deleau 
undertook a new series of experiments, and satisfied himself, 
but only himself, that the Deaf might be made to hear, and 
the Dumb to speak. The case on which he claims his 
greatest credit is the well-known one of Claude HonorS 
Frezel. The details of this case form the subject of one of 
Deleau's pamphlets. It is enough, perhaps, to say, that, at 
the end of six years after the operation, he " had learned 
to talk and to read juvenile books." Itard and Berjaud are 
of opinion, and in this opinion all intelligent persons of expe- 
rience among the Deaf and Dumb coincide, that this alleged 
cure was simply a successful instance of instruction in artificial 
articulation. The hearing might have been slightly im- 
proved, and this would facilitate the acquisition of speech. 
Dr. Itard was employed by the Paris Institution, in conse- 
quence of the partial success of Deleau, to report on the 
various remedies employed in the physical treatment of the 

NOTES 107 

Deaf; and, inconsequence of his report, it was decided that a 
certain number of the pupils should be subjected to medical 
treatment. He made a thorough experiment on the utility 
of injecting the Eustachian tube, and performed the opera- 
tion in one hundred and twenty cases, the results of which 
were, to use his own language, " just nothing, with regard 
to hearing, in the great majority of the Mutes, and in the 
rest temporary and of little advantage." 

It is now universally believed, among those who have 
given the most impartial and disinterested attention to the 
subject, that there is nothing sufficiently encouraging in all 
that has been done to warrant the conclusion that Deafness 
can be removed, though it may be alleviated in some cases 
in a slight degree ; and that the very few instances of its 
removal must be regarded as isolated exceptions which do 
not destroy the general principle. 

H 3 

108 NOTES. 


An interesting paper was read before the New York 
Lyceum of Natural History, by Dr. Akerly, in which a com- 
parison is made between signs in use amongst certain 
tribes of North American Indians, and signs used by the 
Deaf and Dumb. The following is an extract taken from 
Dr. Orpen's "Contrast," where a more lengthened account 
is to be found of Dr. Akerly's paper : — 

"If we examine the signs employed by the Indians, it 
will be found that some are peculiar, and arise from their 
savage customs, and are not so universal as sign language 
in general ; but others are natural, and universally applic- 
able, and are the same as those employed in the Schools 
for the Deaf and Dumb, after the method of the celebrated 
Abbe Sicard. 

" In comparing a few of these signs, it will be seen where- 
in they agree. Among them is found the sign for truth. 

" Truth, in spoken language, is a representation of the 
real state of things, or an exactness in words, conformable 
to reality. 

" In the language of signs, truth is represented by words 
passing from the mouth, in a straight line, without devia- 
tion. This is natural and universal ; it is the same as was 
adopted by the Abb6 Sicard, and is used in the Schools for 
the Deaf and Dumb in the United States. It is thus de- 
scribed in Major Long's Expedition, as practised by the 
Indians : — 

" ' Truth.— The fore finger passed, in the attitude of point- 

NOTES. 109 

ing, from the mouth, forward, in a line curving a litle up- 
ward, the other fingers being carefully closed.' 

" A lie, on the other hand, is a departure from rectitude — 
a deviation from that straight course which inculcates truth. 
The Indians represent a lie by the following signs : — 

" ' Lie. — The fore and middle fingers extended, passed two 
or three times from the mouth forward ; they are joined at 
the mouth, but separate as they depart from it, indicating 
that the words go in different directions.' 

"This sign is true to nature, and radically correct, though 
in the instruction of Deaf-mutes, we simplify the sign, 
by the fore finger passed from the mouth, obliquely or side- 
wise, indicating a departure from the direct course. 

" 'Souse or Lodge. — The two hands are reared together, 
in the form of the roof of a house, the ends of the fingers 

"This sign is true and natural, though we add to it by 
placing the ends of the fingers on each other, before they 
are elevated in the position of the roof, to indicate the 
stories of which a house, in civilized life, is composed. 

" Entering a House or Lodge. — The left hand is held with 
the back upward, and the right hand also, with the back 
up, is passed in a curvilinear direction, down under the 
other, so as to rub against its palm, then up on the other 
side of it. The left hand here represents the low door of 
the skin lodge, and the right, the man stooping down to 
pass in it. 

"This sign, though peculiar, is natural as respects the 
mode of living of the Indians, but is not universally applic- 
able. It corresponds with the sign for the preposition 

The sign for an object discovered, as distinguished from 
the simple act of seeing, is made by the aborigines with 
much nicety and precision, and may, with propriety, be 
adopted in a universal language. 

110 NOTES. 

" ' Seeing. — The fore finger, in the attitude of pointing, is 
passed from the eye towards the real or imaginary object. 

" ' Seen or discovered. — The sign of aman, or other animal, 
is made, after which the finger is pointed towards, and ap- 
proaching to your own eye: it is the preceding sign re- 

" The Indian sign for a man is a finger held vertically, 
which differs from the Deaf and Dumb sign. Their sign 
for a bison is the same as the Deaf and Dumb sign for a cow, 
viz. : — 

" ' The two fore fingers are placed near the ears, projecting 
so as to represent the horns of the animal.' 

"Now, when a party of Indians are out on a hunting or 
warlike expedition, they may discover a man, the scout of a 
hostile party, or an herd of buffaloes. The sign for disco- 
very, in such a case, will be different from that of the sim- 
ple act of seeing. 

"In general, we cast our eyes upon an object with indiffer- 
ence, and, in seeing, simply distinguish a man from an 
animal, a tree from a shrub, a house from a barn ; or we 
determine the relative shape, size, or distance of an object. 
This is done by the coup d'ceil; and therefore the act of 
seeing, in the universal language of signs, is to direct the 
finger from the eyes to the object. 

" But when we discover an object, we look and look again ; 
and then, in the true natural language of signs, it comes to 
our eyes, as the Indians have correctly represented it, be- 
cause we have repeatedly directed the eyes to the spot 
where the discovery is made, and not seeing it the first, se- 
cond, or third time, the object clearly comes to our eyes, 
and hence the distinction between sight and discovery is 
founded in the universality of sign language. 

" The signs for eating, drinking, and sleeping are naturally 
and universally the same, and cannot be mistaken. They 
are thus described in the account of the Expedition :— 

" ' Eating. — The fingers and thumbs are brought together, 


in opposition to each other, and passed to and from the 
mouth, four or five times, within the distance of three or 
four inches from it, to imitate the action of food passing to 
the mouth.' 

" ' Drinking, or water. — The hand is partially clenched, so 
as to have something of a cup-shape, and the opening be- 
tween the thumb and finger is raised to the nwath, as in 
the act of drinking. If the idea of water is only to be con- 
veyed, the hand does not stop at the mouth, but is conti- 
nued above it.' 

" ' Night, or Sleeping. — The head, with the eyes closed, is 
laterally inclined for a moment upon the hand. As many 
times as this is repeated, so many nights are indicated. Very 
frequently the sign of the sun is traced over the heavens, 
from east to west, to indicate the lapse of a day, and pre- 
cedes the motion.' "