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SCHOOL FOR THE INDIGENT BLIND, SOUTHWARK.
trivances had been previously tried and abandoned; possibly one of the most ingenious was the method of inserting pins in long cushions, leaving the heads only projecting, which were easily felt, and rendered the shape of the letters quite distinct and palpable, while the arrangement could be altered at pleasure.
French philanthropists appear, after this time, to have worked with great ardour on behalf of the blind. We can, however, here only mention two remarkable pupils of Dr. Guillie, who was a most successful teacher.
Paingeon, who, “ by the force of the genius with which he was endowed, acquired a transcendant knowledge of mathematics, and, after having carried off, in 1806, all the first prizes at a general meeting of the four Lycées du Paris, was appointed, by the Grand Master of the university, Professor of Mathematics in the Lycée d'Angers." The same successful teacher also mentions another pupil, J. Delille, remarkable as an acute metaphysician, and for the admirable precision of the definitions which he applied to his somewhat abstract science. While we see, therefore, that it is possible for blind men to achieve eminence in different ways, we conceive that before the formation of the modern institutions and the invention of the embossed types, the number of those who did so must have been
small. Now, however, if we hear of no remarkable cases of blind eminence, we have the satisfaction of knowing that a vast number of the blind in the United Kingdom, estimated variously at from thirty to fifty thousand, are in process of education in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and of instruction in sundry useful arts. For this laudable purpose several societies are at work, mostly having their head quarters in London or Edinburgh, but having local corresponding associations in different parts of the country. We shall endeavour to indicate the principal of these, giving the specialities of each where
The most important of the blind schools and industrial institutions, both for its extent in space and building, and for its expenditure, is the School for the Indigent Blind in St. George's Fields, Southwark. The extensive range of buildings will be well-known to any of our readers who ever proceed into Surrey over Blackfriars Bridge, and occupies one side of the open space distinguished by that wonderful specimen of municipal taste and expense, the Obelisk.
The accounts of this great institution show, by the last published annual statement, an expenditure of nearly £10,000, but there must have been something abnormal in that year's accounts, for in order to make the income equal to this cost a sum of £3000 stock had to be sold out; as, however, the institution possesses nearly £90,000 of
property, this circumstance, for one year, assumes comparaVOL. I. —NO. VI.
tively little importance.* The sources of income are, from donations and subscriptions, £2095, and from dividends on stock, rents, etc., £2700, together with legacies £600, goods sold £840, and other miscellaneous items.
This institution receives 160 blind pupils, who are admitted (by election only) between the ages of ten and twenty, and are clothed, lodged, and fed for about six years. During this time they are, if capable of receiving instruction, taught to read the Bible, to write, and to cipher-chosen books are read aloud to them. They receive regular religious instruction, attending daily prayers in the chapel, and the usual full service of the church on Sundays. They are also taught some industrial trade, such as mat-making, basket-work, wear. ing, knitting and netting, brush-making and hair-work, so as to be able to earn something towards their own living on leaving the school. Goods thus manufactured are annually sold, to the amount of about £1000. These goods are, it is said, made of the very best materials, and comprise door-mats, worsted rugs, cocoa-nut matting, basketwork, sash-line, twine, shoes, and brushes. Such of the pupils as have real talent for it, are taught vocal and instrumental music, and are sometimes trained for village organists.
Of twenty-six pupils (male) who have left this school since 1858, six are organists, and of these three can maintain themselves; of the others there appear good returns of their character, with one or two exceptions, but they are not able, in most cases, to earn their living, yet they are doing all they can to maintain themselves; and though that may be little, it is, perhaps, all that can be expected. It is difficult, and perhaps always will be, to find constant employment for blind
persons, as people are slow to believe, what is, however, a fact, that the work of a good blind workman is in reality quite as good as that of seeing workers.
What the managers of this and kindred institutions claim for them is, that in them the blind are taught and trained in habits of industry, which, by far the larger part, are trying, as far as they are able, to put into practice. All can read their Bibles, and many try to practise what they learn from them.
Of course it is one of the special recommendations of these societies that they open out to a large and unfortunate class the capacity for
* The Rev. B. G. Johns, the Chaplain of the School, says : “The work carried on has of late years been considerably widened, and the expenditure has therefore proportionably increased, the receipts not sufficing to meet the full expenditure. Hence, and from the fact that many legacies are bequeathed to the school in stock instead of cash, it often happens that to meet the expenses of the current year, the committee have to sell out from their funded property. The increased work at the school constitutes a strong claim for additional help from the public, who have always given it a most generous support.”
GENERAL WELFARE INSTITUTION, EUSTON ROAD.
the attainment of many physical, as well as mental enjoyments, which, but for these, must have been for ever sealed, or at least very partially known.
The institution for promoting the general welfare of the blind, situated in the Euston Road, presents many features of great and special interest. It is under the immediate patronage of our good Queen, who, amongst the cares of state, and those of domestie life, and even in spite of the direst domestic affliction, shows, in numerous instances, her warm sympathy with works of philanthropy and charity. This institute is under the fostering and discriminating care of Miss Gilbert, daughter of the Bishop of Chichester, and is managed by the resident director, Mr. Hanks Levy, and his wife. It was our good fortune to be shown over the building and workshops by the latter lady, and it was a source of true pleasure to see the kind interest taken in her unfortunate clients; ono man, both deaf and blind, was engaged in making baskets; the kind directress informed another man that she wished to speak to him, dictating what should be said. The man, though deaf and blind, could speak with considerable fluency, and repeated aloud the message he received from the hands of the other“Mrs. Levy wishes me a happy new year ; thank ye, m'm; and a gentleman-happy new year to you, sir; like to hear some versesyes, very glad.” Taking an embossed book he read very fairly some part of the book of Proverbs. He had learned to read by four different methods, and, as is often the case with better educated men, was rather the prouder of that in which he excelled the least.
Very nearly the whole of the persons holding office in the institution are themselves blind—the director, Mr. Levy, the teacher of music, teacher of brush-making and carpentry, teacher of ornamental leather work, teacher of bead work, teacher of basket making, educational teacher, collector, town traveller, porters, and housemaid. In reply to our question Mrs. Levy said she considered that it was most desirable that blind teachers should be employed. The proof of their efficiency is that they actually do teach and produce satisfactory results in their pupils, while their own misfortune makes them tender over that of others, and more patient and painstaking than would be teachers who have their sight.
The main object of this institute is to provide work for the blind, and so enable them to do at least something to support themselves at home. The greater part of the work is done at the homes of the people, not only in London but in different parts of the country.
The materials are periodically served out, and returned manufactured in the same manner. The necessity for an organization, which though effective and economical, is inevitably attended with considerable expense, prevents the institution paying its way by the profits
of trade. For this there are satisfactory reasons. First, the occupations are such as are not customarily highly paid ; basket work, netting, knitting, and the other occupations followed by the inmates of the institution, can be obtained in the ordinary way of trade at a low price, and of course no greater price can be obtained, because of the fortuitous circumstance of being manufactured by blind people. Therefore, considering that some of the employés are only learners, and some infirm, and all must labour under some disadvantage as compared with people who work under the most favourable circumstances of sight and practice, it follows that there must be some deficiency of wages to be made up from the general funds.
But this institution is not merely one of trade. A paid teacher is regularly engaged in holding classes at the parent establishment, and in various parts of the metropolis, in which the sightless are taught to read the Scriptures for themselves, and are also instructed in writing and other educational acquirements.
In these classes the average weekly attendance has been of late about one hundred and fifty. The society employs guides to fetch up and conduct to these classes such as cannot find their own way, and many clergymen in different parts of London give the use of their school-rooms at certain times for this good work.
A special boon accorded by this society is the loan of embossed books to be taken to the homes of the borrowers. The library consists of upwards of two hundred volumes in relief print. The kind directress
many come from distant parts of London and the neigl bourhood to borrow these books, and express great delight and thankfulness for the opportunity thus afforded them of acquiring at lenst some insight into the mysteries of religion, science, or general literature.
The books and apparatus for the use of the blind are various, and even processes for the same purpose differ greatly among themselves. Thus there are no fewer than five systems of printing—those contrived by Alston, Freer, Dr. Howe, Lucas, and Moon; in addition to which, doubtless, are others of less extended repute.
Some of these are more or less symbolical, and in all cases they differ somewhat from the ordinary type. The cost, however, of these books is a matter of considerable difficulty ; the mere expense
of duction of a book of the Holy Scriptures, without reckoning a doit for profit, varies from four shillings to eight shillings, so that a complete Bible would cost too many pounds for any charity to give it.
We were here shown some books printed in America. The types used are the ordinary ones, slightly varied for greater distinctness in some instances. One of these, a huge volume, printed, or rather embossed at the Parkins Institution at Boston, Massachusetts, contains,
SOCIETY FOR TEACHING THE BLIND TO READ.
according to the title-page, “Milton's Poetical Works,” including “Paradise Lost,” “Paradise Regained,” “Samson Agonistes," “ Lycidas," "Sonnets,' etc., etc.
Another useful book, exceedingly simple and easy of comprehension to the fingers, contains the figures to the propositions in the first six books of the “Elements of Euclid,” embossed by W. Pumphrey, York, 1855. A similar enterprise had been undertaken in France, many years before, but it entirely failed in consequence of some mechanical difficulties which could not then be surmounted.
Mr. Levy, the blind director, has himself contrived many ingenious matters for the people under his charge. He has lately published an embossed edition of “Hamilton's Instruction for the Pianoforte,” which we understand has been used with great success. The blind frequently evince an extreme avidity in the study and practice of music. One of the regular branches of industry pursued by the men instructed here is that of pianoforte tuning.
Dr. Moyes has invented a series of arithmetical processes for the blind. His system not only provides for common and fractional arithmetic, and calculations relating to money and weights, but by its means the study of algebra and fluxions may be followed by any
The London Society for Teaching the Blind to Read, and for training them in industrial occupations, has a handsome building devoted to that purpose in the Upper Avenue Road, St. John's Wood, with a reserved power to open and maintain any other schools of a similar kind within five miles of St. Paul's.
We made an inspection of this school during the absence of most of the pupils, but were delighted with the airy and cleanly aspect of the building and its several apartments. A few girls remaining during the holidays were in the organ room, one of whom, a little thing, was playing with great gusto manibus ac pedibus, and with considerable power and effect. On inquiry we find that here also the number of pupils, apt and enthusiastic in the study of music, is much greater than the ordinary average among those who have their sight. Two of the male inmates, in addition to acting as monitors in the school, fulfil, on Sundays, the duties of organists at neighbouring churches. In this, as in other institutions of the kind, many of the teachers and trade instructors are themselves blind.
In this school, many years ago, was instructed Agnes Gutzlaff, a blind Cantonese girl, who had been taken out of the streets and sent to England by the wife of the missionary whose name she bore. At the age of twenty she was sent back to her own country, where she, after having first assisted in a school at Ningpo, was made superintendent of a blind industrial school there. There were lately eleven