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more skilful hands, put considerably forward the work of some newly admitted novice.
Ere long, other branches of industry were taught, of which rope making, coarse weaving, and making of horse-hair mattresses were the chief. The public always bought liberally the articles manufactured at the asylum; for the materials and workmanship were of the best quality, and against all “tricks of trade” purchasers were quite assured.
The institution has gone on in an unvarying course of prosperity and advancement, and now the objects are much extended. There is a boarding house for the unmarried men, and there are separate establishments for females and children. The women knit beautifully, and many of them sew their own clothing. It is a sight truly cheering, to see nearly thirty girls busy and smiling, able to contribute materially towards their own maintenance, who would otherwise be helpless outcasts, or burdens on society. Both men and women are taught reading by the help of a peculiar raised type, which may be felt by the tips of the fingers. The whole Bible is prepared in this form for their use. And what a boon from Christian philanthropy, were this one alone! The blind are also instructed in geography-mental arithmetic and music. In the latter they soon excel, and it is ever, to them, a source of exquisite delight. The following anecdotes may illustrate a little farther the capabilities of this interesting class of persons.
Many of the inmates and protegeés of the above-mentioned institution, are able to thread their own darkling way through the streets of the populous city, going errands to any required spot, or even a mile or two into the country, and return, in perfect safety, in a space of time wonderfully short. It is interesting and most touching to witness, two or more of these persons, linked arm in arm, the most experienced guiding the others, proceeding leisurely, yet with steady steps, amongst an ever-busy jostling crowd. Kindly consideration is shown them by every passenger ; should they be in doubt at any puzzling turning, there will be ever some Christian hand extended to set them right. When a party of them are taken for a day's recreation into the country, it is quite exhilarating to witness their happiness. The fresh breezes, the flowery perfumes, the untrammelled freedom and safety of the fields, together with their holiday treat—they seem to enjoy with all the unrestrained mirth of gladsome childhood, filling the air with their sweet songs.
One of the men, who was among the first admitted to the benefits of this charity, was blessed with a memory so extraordinary, that he soon became of most important usefulness to his brethren in misfortune ; and for that purpose, was released from some hours of his day's work, while he received the full wages he could have earned. He had lost his sight when a few months old in small pox. He could remember nothing of the glorious sunshine-or the human countenance-or aught that is beautiful or endearing. He had never learnt to read, (for the system now used for teaching the blind, was not then invented), yet he knew the whole Bible by heart, merely from having heard it read regularly through, in the course of his pious father's household devotions. In many parts of the Sacred Volume-as the entire New Testament—the Psalms and some of the prophets—he could tell each verse of every chapter when it was named; and of all the books, he could give each chapter's contents. The whole metrical psalms and hymns, used in the church to which he belonged, he also knew verse by verse, and he acted, with undeviating correctness, as leader of the singing in a congregation. He never had been absent from public worship for above sixty years; and after service, could repeat the sermon and prayers he had heard verbatim.
Two or three years ago, some of the descendants of the venerated founder of this institution for the blind, paid a visit to the several establishments connected with it, These young persons had been accidentally brought together from different parts of the empire, and it was with feelings, not often awakened in our every day life, they met, and were recognized by the inmates of the asylum, of whom several yet remembered, and all had often heard, with reverence, of their original benefactor.
The most interesting object to these youthful visitors, was, assuredly, the person above referred to, whose name was Harry H- He was now an aged man, but looked considerably younger than he really was. He was quite exempted from labor, but he was as active, nearly, as ever, in teaching the
young, or recently admitted inmates; he repeated to them chapters of scripture, or hymns and catechism, till a class of more than a dozen boys or girls had learnt them perfectly. He taught them to sing the psalms and hymns to the fine old national melodies of the church, and he was never weary of explaining and illustrating the facts and doctrines of the Bible.
The visitors I have mentioned, with the curiosity of their age, would test this old man's powers of memory, and they proposed to him numerous texts of scripture, to which he never failed, with the correct response. Then on a hint from one of his companions, he began to recite an account of all the annual sermons that had been preached on behalf of the charity since its first foundation, at each of which he had been present—the name of the preacher, his text, and the heads of his sermon, and even the hymns and tunes sung, if asked. Now some of the auditors got sceptical at this, notwithstanding Harry's ready fluency; but it happened that one of the number, older than the rest, recollected, very distinctly, one of these annual sermons fifteen years previously. Stopping the old man in his history, she marked with a pencil in her pocket-book a certain text; a gentleman's name, with the month and year-(the day was not remembered) — when that particnlar sermon was preached. The date was then named by another visitor, and Harry supplied. all the rest, and some additional particulars, without an instant's hesitation. Another individual present, after having privately communicated to the others certain facts he happened to retain in his memory, asked old Harry if he had ever heard a sermon from such a text, at the same time repeating it. His face lightened up with emotion, as of joy long past, but well remembered, and the tears swelled into his sightless eyes, as he exclaimed, “Oh, yes, it was the good Doctor's text, when he opened his new church, just twenty-four years ago last Thursday;" and forthwith the whole particulars of that solemn service—the most interesting in the old man's life—including the chapter that was read; and a most lucid connected account of the sermon, was given to the no-longer-doubting, and delighted auditory.
Within a year after this interview, old Harry was removed after a few days' illness, to a land of unclouded vision ; and one cannot help fancying what additional wonders would burst on the raptured eye, first then enabled to view the glories of creation-not indeed by material vision—but by that spiritual sense, doubtless much more extensive and susceptible than these grosser organs of ours, from which, nevertheless, we receive so many pleasures. Ah! how would the lately-blind man rejoice that the eyes of his mind had been, by grace, enlightened to know the hope of his high calling! How would his tuneful voice raise glad hallelujahs to the Lord, for the unswerving memory, and clear perceptions with which he had been endowed, and by which he had been enabled to spend a long life of much usefulness, though in a humble sphere.
To the young pupils of the Blind Asylum his loss was great; for in addition to his patience, and to his ability and zeal, in imparting to them instruction in divine truth; his own similar circumstances gave him a power of adaptation, no other person, not so situated, could attain to. It is gratifying to add, that the loss has been again supplied, by one nearly as gifted-and yet blind too. Perhaps this little sketch, my young readers, may induce
you to bestow more consideration and sympathy than hitherto on the blind. It is part of my aim to lead you to do so, independently of other considerations; you cannot forget, that by stretching the soothing or assisting hand of charity, to some poor blind cottar, or way-side beggar-when old age may be superadded to their other infirmities--you are imitating that Divine Exemplar, whom
Lord and Master. Think on His compassion towards several of these unfortunates. Remember blind Bartimeus, calling so imploringly for mercy, and when asked what he desired, -Oh, it was not riches or knowledge, or even food and clothing, the beggar besought—but "Lord my sight!" And the Lord pitied, and enabled him to look on the fair face of nature, and on His own gracious countenance, beaming with love, and compassion, and power.
Or, my young friends, you may chance to visit some institution, like that I have been describing, and you may have the opportunity, there or elsewhere, of conversing with some blind persons.
Trust me, you will find them almost invariably most interesting and intelligent companions. Indeed, I have met with more than one, among the better classes of society, who,
by their conversation, could not be distinguished from others more favored. You will always detect the tenacious, correct memory; the thirst for information; the deep concentrated attention to whatever subject engages them; and what is best of all, a peculiar susceptibility of religious impressions. In corroboration of these remarks, I may state a fact, which is, perhaps, as new to you, as it may seem extraordinary,—that several persons, wholly blind from birth, have attained to a great proficiency in philosophy, in poetry, and even in land surveying, and engineering; proving how much the faculties may be sharpened by concentrated attention, and diligent application. I have already alluded to the fine ear and taste for music, the blind are usually gifted with. When you observe their rapt delight and tasteful performance, even when only selftaught, you cannot fail to admire the goodness of Almighty God, who, (as a poor blind man once remarked to me), "when He sees fit to deprive of one sense, so often makes up for it, by conferring additional acuteness on the others."
But I cannot yet consent to quit this subject, without placing it in another point of view. One of our blessed Lord's most noted miracles was, that by which he bestowed sight on a man born blind, and from the several incidents connected with it, took occasion to teach the nature and cure of spiritual blindness. Ah! my readers, this is a misfortune infinitely more to be deplored than the loss of bodily sight. By the Christian friends and pastors of the young, it is indeed viewed in this serious light; by themselves it is heeded far less, or not at all; for one of the symptoms of the disorder is, that the patient is insensible to his privation, as our Lord said to the Pharisees, -(John ix., 41.)—“Now ye say, we see, therefore your sin remaineth.” It is a sad and important truth, however, that the spiritually-blind are as unable to appreciate or comprehend their own character in the sight of God—the requirements of his law, and the only method of salvation, as a man born blind to understand and enjoy the variety of colors in the western sky, the loveliness of a rich landscape, or the mysteries of expression in the human countenance.
I have seen a most beautiful child ; his fair rounded form instinct with energy and gracefulness ; his face bright with the