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We will not weary the reader's patience with an elaborate preliminary, nor with apologies for offering the present work to the public. We have been induced to enter the arena of bookmakers, by a desire to disseminate a more correct and extended knowledge of blindness, and its effects upon mental and physical development, than the reading public has hitherto possessed. In this way we hope to remove some of the most formidable obstacles that hedge up the way to usefulness and independence, for all who are placed in this condition; a condition to which, by the vicissitudes of life, every person is exposed, and in whose dark and inauspicious night more than five hundred thousand of our race are at present enshrouded. In almost
every state of our Union, as well as in those of Europe, Charity, with her angelic hand, has raised up, within the present century, institutions dedicated to the sacred purpose of giving the light of science, and a knowledge of some of the useful arts, to those who behold not the beautiful earth and the serene sky. But sad experience has taught us, that until society in general better understands and appreciates the abilities
of the blind, all the knowledge and skill we can acquire at these establishments, are not available as means of self-support, but tend only to awaken a keener sense of our privation and dependence. To illustrate : A young man graduates at one of our institutions for the blind, after receiving a thorough course of instruction in the theoretical and practical sciences. Elated with the hope of henceforth being able to earn for himself a respectable livelihood, as a teacher of music or of some other science, he hears of a vacant situation, and he makes the necessary application, but is informed that, as he cannot see, he cannot, of course, discharge the requisite duties. The next time an opportunity offers he determines to go in person, say a hundred miles, and in winter, too, to show that he is qualified. If a knowledge of music is required, he performs with proficiency; if of literature, philosophy or mathematics, he is ready and clear, and proves himself competent to the discharge of all the duties of the employment which he seeks. But the idea that one who can see is more serviceable than one who cannot, still erects an impenetrable wall between him and success. And thus the prejudice which his condition creates, opposes him on
Without hesitation we say, that all the most painful disadvantages with which we have been obliged to contend under the absence of sight, have arisen entirely from ignorance, on the part of community, of our capabilities and resources. And why all this incredulity and want of confidence? Does not history introduce us to scores of individuals, who have triumphed over all the difficulties of blindness, and have become the most
illustrious performers and instructors of their age? Reader, peruse our work with candor, then answer.
It is not surprising that under such formidable opposition and depreciating influences, the blind themselves have, generally speaking, lost sight of the examples which their illustrious predecessors set before them, and have adopted the degrading sentiment of_" can't do anything." Having lost all confidence in themselves, they beg without shame or compunction of conscience, and advert only to their sightless eyes as an excuse for choosing this disgraceful method of protracting life, when we need not the sagacity of a philosopher to discover that, in ninetynine hundredths of these cases, their dependence might be more justly attributed to a want of industry and an enterprising spirit, and perhaps a little kindly encouragement on the part of community. Notwithstanding the magnanimous efforts that have been made to elevate the social, moral and intellectual condition of this class, we find an appeal to sympathy painfully prevalent in almost all their transactions with society.
We need but turn to the Prefaces of most of the literary productions of the blind, to discover how much they have countenanced the ignorance and prejudice so prevalent among the public, for the sake of obtaining sympathy where they despaired of inspiring confidence, though eminently deserving. For example, we quote the following: “Any one familiar with the process of composing, and particularly of writing verses, will understand how great the advantages of being able to commit to paper, for preservation or correction, the passages interrupted from day to day, and how immense the labor of bear