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pression of objects they have once seen, by their peculiar color, or, in other words, by the contrast of light and shade, will hardly understand how it is that one who has never seen color, and consequently can have no conceptions of the outlines of objects as they appear to the eye, can picture to himself the relative distance of bodies, their magnitude and different pro- . portions, and more particularly, bodies in motion. At a casual glance at the subject, it no doubt appears wonderful that a person entirely depending upon the sense of touch, should be able to form any idea of extent beyond the space he occupies. But it should be remembered that all knowledge was first gained by repeated experiment. Some writers on optics claim that the infant first sees every object inverted; but that the delusion vanishes when he has once ascertained by the sense of touch their true position. Whether this be true or not, it is certain that the most experienced observer cannot always determine the true distances of objects from the eye by their apparent magnitude. Hence, in order to gain a knowledge of extent, figure, and the real magnitude of bodies, a series of experiments seem requisite for the seeing, as well as for the blind.
By a few of Miss Brown's poems, which we propose to subjoin presently, the reader will be able to judge whether their learned authoress was ignorant of the scenes she so vividly describes. Although she could have retained no recollection of visible objects, her imagery is perfect, and her descriptions by no
means deficient in warmth and color. Her first poetical efforts were but feeble imitations of everything she knew—from the Psalms to Gray's Elegy. Depending upon the eyes of others for much of her information, Miss Brown had, up to this time, been able only to manage the lighter kinds of reading, by the aid of her young relatives, who took great pleasure in reading to her such publications as most amused and interested themselves. As this kind of reading did not greatly elevate her standard of taste, her powers of invention, for a time, kept pace with her imperfect ideas of poetry.
In a few years her compositions had accumulated into a considerable manuscript. But having read the poems of Burns, and Pope's translation of Homer's Iliad, she became so disgusted with her own feeble attempts at versification, that in a fit of sovereign contempt she committed her whole manuscript to the flames, and resolved never again to insult the
In this resolution she persevered for several years. Byron's Childe Harold next made a deep impression on her mind, and served greatly to strengthen hor resolution. Her strong inclinations, however, for writing verse, together with the influence of her friends, at length induced her to break the rash promise she had made, and become a contributor to the “Irish Penny Journal.” In 1841 she sent a few small poems to the editor of the London Atheneun, with the offer of further contributions, and solicite is that a copy of the journal might be sent to her in return. After waiting in anxious suspense some acknowledgment of her voluntary contributions, she had nearly given up as lost her long cherished object, when to her great delight, several numbers of the journal arrived. This encouragement gave a new impulse to her efforts ; and with it dawned a brighter
; day in her life than had hitherto cheered her solitary way, lighting up a fairer prospect in the future than she had yet anticipated.
From that time Miss Brown's writings have been more before the public, and never failed to attract favorable notice. She is at present well known in the literary world as an authoress of some very creditable verse. Her long poem, “The Star of Attigher," is thought by some less meritorious than many of her smaller productions. Her style is brilliant, and her poems abound in metaphor. If they have a fault, it is the sudden transition from one simile to another, illustrating the same idea, somewhat analagous to a rapid modulation in musical composition: a new key is introduced, before the ear is prepared for a new succession of sounds. Her themes, however, are happily chosen, and the construction of her verse is fluent and musical.
To those who see, like herself, by the light which fancy kindles in the imagination, creating for the blind an artificial day, her poems cannot fail to be peculiarly attractive. It is most remarkable that, in her whole collection of poems, there is not a word about blindness. The most probable reason that we
can assign for this is, Miss Brown did not wish the sympathy which her supposed unhappy condition might awaken, either to enhance or diminish the intrinsic value of her productions. Sympathy is like an image reflected from a mirror, it only remains while the object is present. It is but an echo of suffering, and seldom more than a faint response from light hearts but imperfectly tuned, to the deep, sad tones of a lonely and desolate heart. Another inducing motive was, we doubt not, her sad experience of the fact, that any allusion to her misfortune would carry with it, to the minds of some, an idea of moral, physical, and intellectual deterioration. Although many think in the dark with their eyes open, their thoughts are not supposed to gather darkness; or if they wish to shut out intruding objects by closing their eyes in the day time, the torch of reason and the fire of genius are supposed to give luster to their imaginings. But when one is compelled to gather his thoughts in the dark, there is great danger, it is thought, that the shades of night will even gather around his mid-day scenes. “ Blindness from infancy," says Dr. Kitto, “however deeply to be lamented by those who enjoy sight and know the sources of pleasure and usefulness which it opens, can afford few materials of sorrow to one who knows not this, and can scarcely be practically aware that there is any happier physical condition than her own."
There are few perhaps better able to estimate the loss of sight and the many inconveniences to which
such a loss exposes one, than the learned author we have quoted, having himself been deaf from a very early period of life. But our own experience leads us to a conclusion very different from his. It is not strictly true that persons born blind are so blissfully ignorant of their own misfortune. It is quite as reasonable to suppose, that one who has never enjoyed the use of his legs, yet observes how others value them, should be ignorant of the inconvenience to which he is exposed, in pushing himself from place to place by the mere strength of his arms. Though on the principle of the lever, what he loses in velocity he gains in power, (since in the absence of legs his arms are made to subserve a double purpose, thereby acquiring great strength and dexterity,) yet to him this fact is not so consoling after all. The illustration we have used, however, is too strong for the reality; for of the two physical defects, were it left to our own choice, we would gladly choose the former. The dull soul that looks coldly out on the bright aspect of things, upon all the beauties of the visible universe, and feels no chord vibrate with the harmony of nature, no generous response to her theme of universal praise, no deep and fervent emotions of love, nor even rises above the mean and sordid things of earth, can have no sympathy with a spirit fettered and immured in its dark prison-house, ever wishing to pierce the impenetrable vail of darkness, if only to admit one ray of heaven's pure light. There are some who never look up; whose admiration never