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collectors, who both agreed as to its extreme value, but differed as to its exact date. Their friend by the fire took no part in the discussion, but, at last, when the coin was handed to him for examination and judgment, his answer was prompt and decided enough. Strange to say, he did not glance at the medal, but having felt it over very carefully with the tips of his fingers, he next applied it to his tongue. This done, he quietly laid the headless Augustus down on the table, saying as he did so, 50 B.C., or 88 A.D., the thing isn't worth a shilling; I doubt very much its being gold, and I'm sure it isn't Roman ;' and the next day proved that he was in the right.* The thing that had been shown to him and detected was a clever counterfeit, got up for the occasion of an antiquarian sale, just as Roman coins were dug up a month or two ago in making the Thames Embankment. Yet this keen judge was a blind man, and had never set eyes on a coin good, bad, or indifferent; having lost not only his eye-sight, but even his very eye-balls, by the small-pox in 1682, when but a twelvemonth old. He was now Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in the first University of the World, a friend of Whiston, Halley, and Sir Isaac Newton, whose Principia' formed the chief subject of his public Lectures. His whole life from boyhood had been one of striking interest, though we can do no more than touch on the few salient points which startle us in the career of a blind man. At the Free School of Pennistone, in Yorkshire, and with the help of a reader and such few books as his father, an exciseman, could procure for him at home, by dint of unwearied perseverance he managed to acquire such a knowledge of the Classics as to master the works of Euclid, Archimedes, Diophantus, and Newton, in their original Greek and Latin. This was all done before he was twenty; at twentyfive he was a famous teacher in Cambridge ; at thirty, Lucasian Professor, M.A. by royal mandate, lecturing on the solar spectrum, the laws of light, and the theory of the rainbow,-none of which he had ever looked on.
His genius as a mathematician, his keenness of judgment, his accuracy as a reasoner, and his dexterity and quickness in performing arithmetical operations, naturally lead us to the question of how far the sense of touch in the blind, as well as the mental powers, can be so educated as to atone for or supply the place of the sense that is gone. The common notion is that when a child loses his sight, the other bodily and mental powers are all stimu
* Thus, oddly enough, fulfilling the old Portugu dinheiro.' The Blind man has picked up a Coin.'
Proverb, ' Achou o cego hum
lated and sharpened to such an increase of new and keen life as to supply the deficiency-touch, hearing, taste, and intellect all becoming doubly acute. But this is only one of the plausible fancies by which people relieve their minds from the uneasiness caused by the contemplation of a hopeless calamity ; for, on the contrary, wide and long experience has established that in ninetynine cases out of a hundred the loss of sight for a greater or less time shatters the whole framework of mind and body, and the remaining senses and powers, instead of springing into new life, are weakened and depressed. A man does not become blind by merely shutting his eyes. His loss of vision seems to affect every part of him.* If it befalls him suddenly, when grown up, he is for a time utterly prostrated; and many a long weary month may pass before he can so far rouse himself as to set to work at any task with hope or spirit. But if born blind his lot is still worse. He is from the first more or less cut off from the rest of the world, treated in some respects as an inferior, weaker and less capable than his friends and companions; and though most unwilling to believe this himself, he at last sinks into a state of isolation in which the darkness may be felt.' If his friends are well off, and educated people, all the appliances that education demands and money can procure are at once brought to bear upon him. The hand of love leads him to the tree of knowledge, proves that it is within even his reach; shows to him a spark of light in the darkness, how the spark may be fanned into a flame, and the flame made to shine cheerily on the up-hill path. But if his friends be poor, or uneducated, the whole treatment is reversed. Too often he is pushed aside into a corner as an encumbrance, or at all events one for whom little or nothing can be done; treated perhaps not unkindly, but gradually spoiled in the worst sense of the word by a mixture of careless neglect and more worthless indulgence. In this case the boy sinks into a condition little better than that of an animal, vicious or mischievous, amiable, lazy, or apathetic, as the case may be, but probably into darkness moral as well as mental, greater or less according to the light about him. Bodily pleasures are his main thought; he becomes selfish; selfishness at times makes him talkative, but as often moody; he grows silent, reserved, nervous, timid, opinion
* • Blindness' says Guillié, not only deprives a man of the sensations which belong to sight, but modifies and distorts all his thoughts. Untrained, he has no idea of decorum, of social propriety, or of modesty.' Strongly put, but essentially true. Du Puiseaux used to say, that he could not understand why one part of the body should be covered more than another.
ated, and discontented. These are too often (whatever optimists may imagine to the contrary) the characteristics of poor blind children.
With some such qualities as these we will suppose a boy to be sent up from the country to some Blind School—say that for the Indigent Blind in St. George's Fields.* Let us see what becomes of him, a boy of average ability. He is brought into an extensive and rambling building, containing a large number of rooms, and enclosing two good-sized playgrounds respectively for girls and boys. This building stretches over nearly two acres of ground; and with almost every part of his † side of it-all its outer shops and dependencies—he has to become acquainted almost entirely by touch and ear, with a little help from a companion's longer experience. It is all so utterly new and strange to him that for the first day or two he is entirely dependent on some pupil's or teacher's hand to get as far as the school-room, the chapel, dining-room, or basket-shop, all of which are widely apart. But within a week the chances are that out of his eighty blind fellow pupils he has chosen one as a companion, and probably his friend, for several years to come, who, if need be, convoys him across the open yard to any special point-to the dormitory, or through the more intricate navigation of staircase leading to the band-room.§ In a month all the plain sailing is fairly mastered. He can find his way from the dining-room to the basket-shop, and down that shop, 150 yards long, just to the very site of his own box on which he sits to split the withies for basket-work. He knows his own box, too, from Smith's and Brown's on either side of him. In a year he will know probably his own tools from theirs by some little flaw or feature not patent to the eye of a looker-on; in a couple of years he will know the handle of the door to music-room No. 5 from that of No. 6; he will run quickly with a half-finished basket in his hand from the workshop across a wide yard exactly to the very door-step of the open shed in which is a tank for soaking his willow-work. His senses of touch and hearing are being silently and surely educated; as their education progresses they become keenerhearing as a sharp and watchful sentinel, guide, and spy; touch
* Vide 'Jurors' Report, Great Exhibition, 1861. Educational Works and Appliances, p. 19.
† It is divided into two distinct wings, one exclusively for males and the other for females.
| First impressions with the blind are all in all.-Guillié, p. 47.
$ This band consists of about thirty instrumental performers, flutes, and brass horns, &c., and manages to play well such music as one hears from a good German band,
as his servant-of-all-work and detective. To the seeing touch is an auxiliary, but to the blind boy it is the primary sense of all. By it he knows his own clothes, and almost all the property that he possesses-his tools, box, bed, bat, fiddle, cupboard, seat in chapel, school-room, and workshop; by it he reads his chapter in St. John or in Robinson Crusoe ; † he plays chess or dominoes; works a sum in long division or writes a letter home to his mother which she can read with her eyes, and he with his fingers. By the help of touch he weaves a rug of coloured wools embracing every variety of scroll-work, or of those peculiar flowers and fruits which grow only on carpet-land, or fringes with delicate green and red a door-mat for a lady's boudoir; by touch he sees any curiosity, such as a lamp from the Pyramids, or a scrap of mineral, which you describe to him, and which, having once handled, he always speaks of as having been seen.
Our present object is to illustrate for our readers the way in which a blind boy of fair ability manages to accomplish by touch some one or two of those tasks just now enumerated. We will select three of the more curious ones as types of the rest ; how he does a sum in long division, how he writes a letter, and weaves a rug. His slate is a board of about 12 inches by 10, bound with metal round the edges, and containing about 190 pentagonal holes a quarter of an inch apart, arranged in the following fashion:
Into these holes he inserts a five-sided metal pin, which, according to its position, and the end kept uppermost, repre
* A blind boy sent by his master to sell fish in the village, cut certain nicks or notches in the head or tail of each cod, and thus wrote down the price of his goods where his finger could feel it: and yet not to be detected by the eye of the customer.
† Thanks to the Society for Printing Books for the Blind, both these are now within his reach.
sents the numerals from 1 to 0. The pin is of this shape
and aspect, under its two positions. When used
reads by running his finger along the tops of
the two pentagonal holes without numbers marked over them being blanks, left so purposely by the arithmetician instead of the curved lines drawn by his rival with eyes to separate divisor, dividend, and quotient. It is obvious, therefore, that all ordinary sums in arithmetic may be worked by a blind boy almost as quickly as, and far more plainly than, by the schoolboy on his
The board on which Saunderson performed his arithmetical calculations is a far more complicated affair, and although we have a woodcut of it, its exact nature and use are hard to be understood. No account of it we have met with offers a clear explanation of the various parts; but we will do our best to condense and improve that written by Hinchcliff, his pupil and