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HE beginning of
systematic care for the blind in our state was as humble, as it was honorable to the best impulses of the human heart.
No committee met to devise relief for the unfortunate. No definite plan was formulated in their behalf. A single soul was touched by a single sorrow and disability, and moved to its practical relief. This was the little till now broadening into a river
whose steady current, it is to be hoped may carry blessing to a great number of these children of need. In the history of the blind in Connecticut the story of a little Italian boy deaf to the English language handicapped in body, besides his blindness will be ever notable one. He made his mute appeal to a Hartford lady, who found him in one of the purlieus of the lower part of the city.
What could be done for him? Again, the will found a way. He was taken to her pleasant home by his kind patron, Mrs. Emily Wells Foster, and there little by little a new world opened upon his darkened spirit. Kindness could open the
inner eye while the outer was sealed to the difficulties vanished before resolution reverdant fields, and the human face divine. enforced by sympathy, and so from time He woke up to a sense of happiness in to time the enterprise enlarged in what these new surroundings, joy touched and might seem a purely natural way. enlarged his boyish heart. The response Waifs were drawn toward the temelicited from this neglected child, was in porary home from all quarters, and an the nature of a revelation to his friend, interest in the blind was enkindled while the satisfaction it gave her own throughout the state. The children thus spirit, became an incentive to new drawn together found a new life in social deavors in the same direction. Were there contact, and the softening and elevating not others who might be lifted out of the influence of music added greatly to their shadows? Patient inquiry impelled by lov- sources of enjoyment. A little boy from
ing solicitude soon brought knowledge of Meriden who came in later days was various cases in different portions of the unable to stand alone. At seven years of state.
In October 1893, a small house age, the muscles from disease had become on Kenyon street was engaged, and a weak and useless.
In fact the little shelter thus provided for blind children, fellow's life had been chiefly spent in bed. especially for the children of the poor His mother, a working woman had no and neglected. Some of the children skill to care for the development of the gathered here were very attractive despite blind child.
. The pale, unintelligent their infirmity. There were sweet voices child was taken in charge immediately by for speech and song among them. In Miss Hurford, the tactful matron of the some cases children were with difficulty children, and in three months he could rescued from bad surroundings. But walk about the house and enter heartily into kindergarten games.
No wonder other evidence of his skill and perseverwhen he waked in the night he used to
In October, 1894, the growing sing“ Ring, ring happy bells !"
wants of the mov-ment required enlarged After this boy had been taught to walk, accommodations and the group of chilhis father called at the Nursery to see him. dren and teachers were moved to more Appearing to one of the teachers he eligible quarters in the double three-story inquired in broken English for "his little house at 1207 Asylum Avenue. Meanblind and crippled boy.” “Oh!" said while friends were secured both among the the teacher,"you have no crippled boy any seeing and the blind, who gave encouragemore.” When the little fellow appeared ment to the plan of ameliorating the conand was recognized, the father was over- dition of the blind wherever found in the come with emotion as he embraced the state. A notable figure among these was
child'who appeared to him at least half F. E. Cleaveland, Esq., a blind attorney in transformed.
the city of Hartford. Few tongues have Musical instruction has been given been more eloquent in pleading for the from the start, and has proved a most rights of the blind than that of this enervaluable aid in raising hope and inspiring getic and well informed lawyer. Thormental aspiration in the children. Mr. oughly familiar with the literature of the Marshall, himself blind, but a graduate of achievements of his class, and himself a the Perkins Institute of Boston, has been fine instance of what they may do in a diffithe indefatigable and successful teacher cult field, his carefully prepared addresses of these rescued sufferers.
Any one who carry conviction wherever they are heard. has heard the rehearsals of his children's He pleads for no infantile legislation on orchestra, and marked the proficiency of behalf of the blind. He asks only for a his pupils from year to year, will need no fair opportunity for them with simply a just recognition of their disability. One self-sustaining and useful member of sois startled, who hears for the first time his ciety. Second, that the only reason why assertions of their capacity even when all blind people who are otherwise menhandicapped by loss of sight. Hear his tally and physically sound, do not become well chosen words in the following self-sustaining, is not because they are appeal :
blind, but because the general belief en“Your reason is like a king who in his
tertained by all their seeing friends, (inpalace sits enthroned. Your sense of sight
cluding their parents,) has in the case of is but one of five grand avenues of approach
children, robbed them of that training and along which swift-footed messengers bring discipline essential to a successful career tidings of what transpires throughout your even on the part of those who can see, kingdom. You lose this sense of sight and
and in the case of the adult blind operatyou have but closed the palace gates of one of these grand avenues.
But the messen
ing to confirm them in the belief that they gers who are thus debarred, are only hin
are rendered helpless by the loss of sight. dered, not dismayed. For quickly they
These assertions do not however hang in approach the throne along the other four. the air. Witnesses are not wanting to Belore you lost your sight you thought their truthfulness, in measure, at least, that little more could be accomplished for who have watched for a few years past the the blind than to provide them food, raiment and shelter, but now, with plenty of
progress of the children gathered in the time to think it over and revise your
Asylum Avenue home. Two years have former opinion, shall you feel compelled sufficed in some instances to inscribe new to resign the office you now hold and live signs of intelligence and happiness over in idle dependence on your fortune or these young faces. It is of course true of friends, or perchance, if your fortune and
the blind as of the seeing, that differences friends should be swept away, will you be content to take a place in some neglected
in original capacity and native energy, corner of a town poor-house? Or will you
manifest themselves in different degrees say in your mind, what blind men have of progress, under a course of education. accomplished may be again accomplished There is an able physician in Hartford, by the blind? Remembering Mr. Fawcett, who in a condition of nearly total blindwho was chosen by Gladstone as a Cabinet Minister, would you not say if it was possi
ness meets with efficiency a variety of ble for him to make an eminently successful
engagements. This is partly due to an Postmaster-General of a great empire, will element of courage and resolution, the abit not be possible for me to retain the sence of which in another case of similar office I now hold, and still find a way in misfortune would result in folding of the which I can faithfully discharge my duty hands, and retiring from an active life. as a public servant ?
There is however an influence very
radical Would you think it possible for a blind man to use the eyes of others as men use
in its character, upon blind pupils as upon spectacles, and become one of the most
all others, from the healthful rivalry of celebrated naturalists of this day? Turn social training. Beyond this the blind to your encyclopedia and read the life of
from the natural aversion to activity proHuber who is still the leading authority
duced by their condition are greatly in on the particular lines he followed out.”
need of regular physical training. WithMr. Cleaveland has stoutly and persist- out external help they become very shy of ently claimed from the beginning; First, exercise. that blindness itself is not an impassable The report of the Assistant Secretary of barrier preventing a person with this the Board of Education for the Blind for limitation from becoming a self-reliant,
the year ending September, 1897, says :