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MISS DAPHNE S. GILES.
“With affections warm, intense, refined,
THERE is perhaps no manifestation of the human intellect that more conclusively proves its immortality, than our constant discontent with the present, and insatiate reaching forward after objects of desire shrouded in the vista of futurity. Before the budding mind is sufficiently developed to comprehend its responsibility or learn its destiny, the heart is moved forward by an innate impulse, and the pure fancy is impressed with alluring images, natives of a brighter sphere. When in the sunny hours of childhood we sport upon the flowery lawn, sit by the murmuring rill, as it gently meanders along its willowed banks, or chase with fantastic tread the gay butterfly over the rich green meadows, plucking from our path the lily and the wild rose, life seems to us but one scene of charming beauty, unsullied by the snares of sin.
Yet oft from those innocent sports we turn away, our hearts panting for maturer years; and, while glancing to the future, we paint in our youthful ardor all that is delightful and gay. But, alas ! as we gently glide along the current of time and emerge into the busy scenes of life, how oft are our fondest hopes blighted, and mountains of sorrow and disappointment appear in view, rearing their summits to the sky, yet glittering with the tears of earthly pilgrims that have passed over before us. Yet who dares murmur at his lot? He who holds in his hands the destiny of individuals as well as nations, has purposes to accomplish. Whatever he decrees in his righteousness, though it at first seems our loss of all, will ultimately prove our highest good. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
. No theme or philosophy devised by ancient or modern sages can administer so sovereign a solace to the afflicted or sorrow-stricken soul as an unshaken confidence in a wise, overruling Providence, and an enlightened faith in the doctrines of the everlasting gospel. On the precious promises beaming from that volume our present authoress has securely rested under all her trying afflictions.
Miss Giles was born at New Haven, Vermont, October 20, 1812. Of her parentage we can gather no information from either her writings or allusions to her life by other authors. It appears that her former biographers, like ourselves, placed no high estimate on hereditary celebrity, or, feared to commit treason
against this age of progression by dragging their readers back over the ruins and rubbish of feudalism and chivalry, to detail the wonderful achievements of her ancestors; but in harmony with the true republican spirit of her own themes, we are content to rest her fame upon the literary and poetic merit of her own productions.
As the years of her youth afford no incidents deserving notice in this connection, we will pass them over to the fourteenth year of her age. At this period, when the mind is just beginning to unfold to the beauties of nature and science, and elating hopes of the future inspire the heart, the blighting hand of disease laid hold upon her, and bowed her tender heart to the sad destiny of having looked upon the variegated colors of creation, the fleecy clouds, the silvery moon, the burnished stars, and the radiant king of day in his meridian splendor, for the last time. The deep sorrow and gloom that must have shrouded her spirits at the time of this melancholy privation, we can justly appreciate, but have no terms to give them utterance. And were all the force of each language, ever spoken by human tongue, concentrated into one short sentence, it would be far inadequate. Her native energies and brilliant intellect were, however, not crushed by this appalling event, nor long suffered to slumber undeveloped. The glorious spirit of the gospel, that in the morning of the nineteenth century has raised up friends to bless every class of suffering humanity, also moved the hearts of philanthropists, (though last of all,) to ameliorate the condition of the blind. In the twenty-second year of her age, while residing at Dexter, Michigan, being informed that books with embossed letters were printed for the blind, she would not rest content until in possession of such (to her) priceless volumes. She has since been enabled to read the sacred oracles, together with other works prepared in this manner, and highly esteems the privilege, though it is by the slow process of feeling ont the letters.
In 1839, the refulgent star of the New York Institution for the Blind, that has shed its intellectual light upon so many noble youths, and who in return have become lights of the first magnitude in the literary world, beckoned her to come, and soon her cheerful voice echoed within its spacious halls. Her legitimate residence being in Michigan, and she therefore unable to claim the patronage of our state proffered to all New York pupils, the Baptist society (of which she was a member and ornament) and the directors of the institute, generously offered to defray her expenses while here passing through a course of scientific studies.
There have been episodes in the annals of literature, whose greatest and controlling intellects were the spontaneous productions of nature, and their own unaided efforts. But in an age like the present, when everything in the scope of human reason is so thoroughly theorized and systematized, the world is slow to acknowledge merit, unless tipped by a diploma and honorary medals of some renowned university. But aside from the honors generally awarded to su perior knowledge, to secure a literary education and connection with the mighty battery of science that electrifies and binds together the entire enlightened portion of mankind, and thereby keep pace with the spirit of the nineteenth century, is an object claiming the most assiduous attention of every social being.
There is perhaps no institntion in our country more eminently calculated to develop all the essential powers of our nature, than the one of which Miss Giles became a happy inmate, and no effort did she spare to avail herself of all the advantages afforded in its several departments. The student's time is here di vided into three parts, and his instruction arranged into three separate classes, intellectual, mechanical, and musical. By means of the first, regular instruction is given in reading, writing, grammar, geography, arithmetic, history, and all other English branches taught at the best schools, together with the Latin and French languages.
The number of books printed in raised characters being as yet very limited, the instruction in this department is principally conducted orally; a system of teaching not inferior to any other, especially where the retentive powers of the pupil are as tenacious as those of the blind. The mechanical operations consist of several trades, in the prosecution of which sight can be most easily dispensed with. This, while it produces something towards the expenses of the in