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voice, some page of St. Paul, in Frere's system. Whether he is reading it or not is entirely another question. At all events he has learned a good many pages by heart most correctly; and so reads on glibly enough in all weathers, rain, east wind, or snow, when the finger of an unprofessional blind boy would be utterly disabled. Next come such as the youth who blows into a tin flageolet one long, crazy attempt at a tune which he never finds; the three young, unkempt, grimy minstrels who sing alternately snatches of funereal psalmody and ‘Old Dog Tray' as a trio;* the soldier without a hat, who invokes blessings on all passers by who have eyes, and especially on those who remember the defenders of old England; another hatless sufferer, a big-faced, tall fellow in a white smock-frock, who boldly steers his way along the most crowded pavement under the guidance of a sturdy bulldog; the whining outcast, near St. Giles', Endell-street, who is one day silent and still as a blind and deaf mute, and the next day moaning and shaking with St. Vitus's dance; and lastly, the old, red-haired, freckled Scotchman, who, under the inspiration of a frowsy old woman, expends himself with desperate energy on a hopeless clarionet with absolute and hideous success. Of such as these there are probably some hundreds in London dragging on a miserable existence in a mixture of want, extravagance, privation, and dirt. Then, far above these dreary spectacles, come the blind adults belonging to the middle and upper classes, among whom are 43 clergymen and ministers, 17 physicians and surgeons, 11 barristers and solicitors, as well as 32 officers in the army and navy; all of whom have probably become blind after entering on a profession; besides 80 described as teachers, many no doubt driven by necessity to embrace pedagogy for a living; and 600 musicians and teachers of music. Fifty-eight old salts’ have, after long years of service afloat, found a quiet haven in Greenwich Hospital, and about an equal number of rivals on shore are Chelsea pensioners. How far the clergy, barristers, and physicians are still able to carry on their professional duties we have no data to help us to decide; though we are aware of more than one clergyman in the neighbourhood of London still most efficient in the desk and pulpit. All parochial work of course is out of the question.
We come now to the last point of our subject, the different rival systems of embossed printing, which have unhappily been
* These three were at Brighton in August, 1865, and were making about 10s. a day.
invented for the use, we had almost said distraction, of blind people. So fierce and so bitter has been the war waged over the knotty problem, and so eager have the partisans of each new invention been to claim for themselves the discovery of the one, sole, best method, that the blind man's library now consists of a very few volumes, only to be had at a price which puts them entirely beyond the reach of the class who most need them. The four chief systems,* all that need our notice here, are those of Frere, Lucas, Moon, and Alston, each claiming to be the one infallible method of reading for the blind. Mr. Frere's system is, he tells us, based entirely on the phonetic principle, or combination of elementary sounds, and is conveyed to the touch of the blind reader by a series of stenographic signs or symbols. Thus instead of the four letters, T, N, D, R, he substitutes four lines, !
, respectively named Teh, Un, Deh, Ur; while F, G, J, and B, are metamorphosed into Gehr, 1 Uf, J Jeh, and
Beh; and so on through the rest of the alphabet, in a series of sounds, “ guttural,” “ hissing,” and “gushing,” with hard and soft breathing, and aspirations. All this, be it remembered, is to teach a poor, ignorant, blind child the names and meaning of his letters, which are supposed to be too hard for him in their ordinary shapes and names. He is accordingly introduced to angles Z, crooks 1, crescents w, dots (which latter stand for vowels); dots final, dots upper, middle, and lower, upwards, downwards; angles, with points forwards or backwards; to straight lines downwards or sideways; long vowels, and short vowels; in all, 29 signs; each accompanied by a rule in prose, or still drearier verse, of some three or four lines, to be learned by heart by the hapless disciple, to whom A B C is a mystery. All that can be said of this method is that it is a very ingenious and elaborate system of shorthand, very difficult-we speak from positive experience—to be understood by a person with eyes, and
* We omit all mention of the host of minor systems which have from time to time been found out by private friends of the blind, at least ten or a dozen in number. The last new one has just been put into our hands by the inventor, B. Mitford, Esq., of Cheltenham. "It is in the Roman letter, and has no peculiarity whatever but that of forcing blind people to read in perpendicular columns 'of words, from the top to the bottom of the page, instead of from left to right as the rest of the world do. The alphabet stands thus:
A F F El D
hopelessly bewildering to any one without them. It is said that many blind people have learned to read by Frere, and truly, no doubt; for time, money, skill, and love have been expended on its behalf with lavish generosity. Armed with the same weapons, we would undertake to teach half a dozen such scholars Polish or Scandinavian.
Next we have Lucas's system, still more arbitrary in character, and more purely stenographic than Frere. Instead of a simple character for each of the elementary sounds of the English language, he gives us an alphabet redundant in eight characters, and deficient in ten; he makes no distinction between long vowels and short ones. F appears in four different disguises as f, ff, ph, and gh; final ees are abolished, and we meet with such strange monsters as fac, accurat, censur, and tim, for time, censure, face, and accurate; we find people “laffing without noing it, at being caut, and not abl to giv a reson ;
( because when the sound of a word is different from the spelling, the spelling is altered;" until at last, in utter bewilderment with the long list of contractions and omissions, we are at a loss to know whether our respectable old friend Q stands for queen, quaker, or question; or why I should not stand for horrible, as well as P, for puzzle, instead of for “have," "hither," "he;” “put, “patience,” or “upon,” according to Rule in “Table 1, for learners.” A single line in the Lucasian dialect will probably explain its full beauty more clearly than any words of ours. 1. Pure Lucas.
[190 gr 7-) 2. Translated into Letters. If. t. bl, bi, hs. p. h.
b. pzlu. u. t. ed. 3. Translated into Words.
If the blind Boy has patience he will verily be puzzled unto the end. 4. Various Readings.* house upon have with
unity the If two blind Boy his put hither which vanity be puzzled you to end.
9th So much for short, simple, and common words, as in the above example; but if the learner meet with any longer ones, he is more mystified than ever. Nos stands for nevertheless, kd for kingdom, instead of kid ; nsg for notwithstanding, pr for prayer, while fr stands for friend, and thf not for thief, but therefore; tables becomes tabs, and overtake, otak; while elasti wrnss stands for everlasting weariness. Our readers will be able to judge from
* Various Readings;' because most of these signs have two or more distinct meanings; hs his, has, house; u= - unity, you, and unto, &c. &c.
Z. &c. N.
this how far such an elaborate, complicated, and purely arbitrary system is likely to help the blind boy over the miseries of the Alphabet and the Spelling Book.
The third of the arbitrary systems is the invention of Mr. Moon,* and he naturally considers it to be more perfect than perfection. He claims to have avoided “the complicated form of the Roman letter, and the still less discernible angular type,” by a revised alphabet, each letter of which is formed of one line, or at the most of two, having a partial resemblance to those in common use, and allowing only of five contractions, ment, ing, tion, ness, and and, each of which is represented by its final letter. A dozen letters of this alphabet will show how far intricacies have been avoided, or likeness to the ordinary letter kept up.
P. We must agree with him that the resemblance he speaks of is partial enough, but we are at a loss to discover in what way our respected old friends Z, and K, N, U, and J are more complicated than the half-barbarous looking symbols Z. Sic,V,V, J. One lunar line will suffice to show the aspect of the whole system to the eye of the seeing, and to the finger of the blind boy :
MAN'S A ANION nrrir -0017 Air ALL IMANI
Whatever claims these arbitrary systems may have on the blind boy's notice, one fatal defect runs through them all, viz., that they tend to cut him off more than ever from the rest of the world, and especially from those who are able to read, and to help him when he comes to a hard word. The task of learning Moon, Frere, or Lucas, would be to him like learning a new language; with this difference, that when he has learned it, and hard work in the course of years has deadened his sense of touch, not a single friend or companion at home will understand it, or be able to read with the eye the mysterious symbols which his reading, finger can no longer discern. Twenty years ago shrewd, old Abbé Carton spoke to this very point: • En effet,' he says, 'si un caractère, connu des clairvoyants, est employé dans l'impression en relief pour les aveugles, ces infortunés sont plus rapprochés des autres hommes que s'ils se servaient d'un caractère inconnu
* Mr. Moon deserves infinite praise, as a blind man, for his labours on behalf of himself and his fellow-sufferers; but it is to be wished that he had never meddled with the alphabet but to print it in the old Roman letter,
de ceux qui les entourent. Diminuer la difficulté qu’ auraient les clairvoyants à connaître l'alphabet des aveugles, est réellement travailler en faveur des aveugles. Le plus grand malheur des aveugles est leur isolément. Common sense ought long ago to have stepped in and settled this question, but she has had the door shut in her face by prejudice; and the strife still goes
Meanwhile the old Roman letter, in spite of all patent inventions, manages to hold her own; to print books far less expensive and less bulky than Moon's, and, if the testimony of a large number of blind children is to be believed, quite as easily read; the New Testament in Alston costing 21., that in Moon's type 41. 10s.* The use of the Roman letter helps the blind boy to read as all the rest of the world reads; to spell and to write as they do. The other three systems absolutely prevent his doing so, and inflict upon him the intolerable hardship of learning a semibarbarous jangle which no one with eyes can understand, and which he himself is unable to express in writing. Sooner or later (the sooner the better) some one system of embossed printing will be generally adopted, and it must embrace at least the following features : -1. It must resemble as nearly as possible the type in use among seeing men ; that the blind scholar, in learning to read, may have every possible help from his remembrance of letters he may once have seen, but which now his fingers must see for him; or from any one who can read an ordinary book; or, if need be, that a friend may read to him. 2. The words must be correctly spelt in full ; that when he learns to write, others may read his written words. And 3. All must agree on a clear, sharp type, which the finger of the adult, hardened by rough work, and the keen touch of the child, may be alike able to discern.f It is to be hoped that science, which has done so much for all other readers, will in due time provide for the dwellers in the land of darkness a literature and a typography which will help to make them wiser, better, and happier. Many earnest men are working in this good cause.
It is to be hoped that, as 'pax paritur bello,' differences will some day be laid aside, and the work be crowned with that strength and success which unity of action as well as purpose alone can give.
A single word on two final topics—the general Statistics of European Blindness, and the Educational status of the upper and middle class—and our task is done. Blindness has been supposed to become gradually more prevalent as we get nearer
* See 'Catalogue of the Society for Printing Books for the Blind.'