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532



RE-PRINT, 1894



AN ESSAY



ON



THE EDUCATION



OF



THE BLIND



BY

M. HAUY



(DEDICATED TO THE KING OF FRANCE)
PARIS, 1786



LONDON
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON & COMPANY

LIMITED

St. Dunstan's fQause
FETTER LANE, FLEET STREET, E.G.

1894






[TITLE PAGE TO VOLUME]



POEMS



BY THE LATE REVEREND



DR. THOMAS BLACKLOCK;



TOGETHER WITH



AN ESSAY ON THE EDUCATION .OF THE BLIND

BY M. HAUY.



TO WHICH IS PREFIXED



A NEW ACCOUNT of the LIVE and WRITINGS
of the AUTHOR,

By Mr. MACKENZIE, Author of the MAN OF FEELING, &c.



EDINBURGH:

Printed by ALEXANDER CHAPMAN and COMPANY ;
Sold by W. CREECH, Edinburgh, and T. CADELL, London.

MDCCXCIII.



1894

Some Books and Papers
about the Blind

REPRINTED BY

Messrs. SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON & COMPANY

LIMITED

$f. IDunst art's <$ouse
FETTER LANE, FLEET STREET, LONDON



1774

THE EDUCATION OP THE BLIND. A LET PER
IN THE EDINBURGH MAGAZINE AND REVIEW
for NOVEMBER, 1774. Price Is.

1793
TRANSLATION OF AN ESSAY ON

THE EDUCATION OF THE BLIND by M. HAUY.
Dedicated to the King of France in 1786. Price Is.

1801
HINTS TO PROM3TE BENEFICENCE, &c., by

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

1819
TRANSLATION OF AN ESSAY ON

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

1837
RECENT DISCOVERIES FOR FACILITATING

THE EDUCATION OF THE BLIND.

By JAMES GALL, of Edinburgh. Illustrated. Price 2s.

1842

THE EDUCATION, EMPLOYMENTS, &c., AT
THE ASYLUM FOR THE BLIND, GLASGOW.
By JOHN ALSTON. Illustrated. Price 2s.

1861
TRANSLATION BY REV. W. TAYLOR OF

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



[PAGE 217.]



AN ESSAY



ON THE



EDUCATION OF THE BLIND

OR,

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



DEDICATED TO THE KING,



BY



M. HAUY,

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



PARIS:

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

MDCCLXXXVI,
Under the Patronage of the Academy of Sciences.



397215



[PAGE 219.]



To THE KING OF FRANCE.



SIRE,

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

I am,
With the profoundest respect,

Sire,
Your Majesty's most humble,

most obedient
and most faithful subject and Servant,

HAUY.



[PAGE 221.]



PREFACE.



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



PREFACE.

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



PREFACE.

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



[PAGE 224.]



ADVERTISEMENT TO THE FRENCH EDITION.



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



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



2?5.]



AN ESSAY

ON THE

EDUCATION OF BLIND CHILDREN.



CHAP. I.

The Intention of this Plan.

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

A. :;



10 AN ESSAY ON THE

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

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

Such is the end pursued by our institutions.



CHAP. II.

Answer to the Objection against the Utility of this Plan.

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



EDUCATION OF BLIND CHILDREN. 11

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



CHAP. III.

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

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

A 4



12 AN ESSAY ON THE

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

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

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



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

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



EDUCATION OF BLIND CHILDREN. 13

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



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



14 AN ESSAY ON THE



CHAP. IV.

Ansiver to various Objections against the Method of Reading
proposed for the Blind.

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

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



EDUCATION OF BLIND CHILDREN. 15

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

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

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

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

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



AN ESSAY ON THE

" their peculiar use ? They never will be able to read ours. And,
" from the knowledge which they will acquire by reading, will
" any considerable advantage result to society ? " Permit us, in
our turn, to ask you, To what purpose is it that books are
printed amongst all the people who surround us, and exclusively
intended for the peculiar use of each ? Do you read the
language of the Chinese, that of Malabar, or of Turkey ? Can
you interpret the Peruvian Quipos, and so many other tongues
indispensably necessary to those who understand them ? Should
you then be transported to China, to the Banks of the Ganges, to
the Ottoman Empire, or to Peru, you will there be precisely in
the same predicament with one of our blind pupils. With regard
to the utility which the knowledge of a blind man in reading
may produce to society, without deviating from the sentiment
expressed near the end of the following page of this work, we
may with pleasure appeal for its reality to the experiment so
often repeated under our own eyes, and of which the public itself
has been a witness in our exhibitions ; we mean the experiment
of a blind child teaching one who saw to read (e). We appeal


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Online LibraryRené Just HaüyAn essay on the education of the blind; (Dedicated to the King of France), Paris, 1786 → online text (page 1 of 3)