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Laura Bridgman.

The ' Daily News' of May 28 contains a biographical notice of Laura Bridgman, the relief of whose early misfortunes proved so great a blessing to thousands similarly afflicted. The death of Laura Bridgman, in her sixtieth year, removes from the world a figure which has been almost forgotten by the present generation, but which excited the liveliest interest forty years ago. Her life was one long series of triumphs over difficulties such as are, happily, rare indeed. In early infancy she was like other children. She saw the world with her baby eyes, and heard her mother's voice. But long before the childish miud could realise the meaning of what she saw and heart!, knowledge at both entrances was quite shut out. Eyes and ears were closed by fever and sealed up for ever. Blind and deaf, and therefore dumb, she lived on among her kin the most desolate life a human being can live, in the world but not of the world, and with only two senses instead of five—the sense of smell I and the sense of touch. When she was seven years old her parents took her to Boston. In that city her affliction came to the knowledge of Dr S. G. Howe, of the Perkins Institution. Dr Howe was intensely interested in the case, for he believed a method might be found by which the one remaining avenue of knowledge, the sense of touch, might be made use of to reveal the world and the ways to its isolated denizen. Mr S. Eliot, president of the Perkins Institute, relates how Dr Howe, Mr Hillard, and Mr Longfellow went together ostensibly on a trip to the White Mountains, but really to Laura Bridgman's home, where Dr Howe again saw the child, and urged her parents to let him have charge of their daughter. They yielded, and he returned to his friends looking like a man who had won a victory. The party of friends took tho child back with them to Boston, where she was placed under Dr Howe's care, and her eduoation was begun. It was a long and difficult task. But an active and intelligent mind. was shut in behind the barrier of blindness and deafness, and through the senße of touch it was reached and roused. Thanks to Dr Howe's patience, his constant and watchful observation, she was gradually lifted out of her loneliness. Working solely through the one subtle sense of touch, he led her onward step by step and she learned to work, to read, to write, and to talk , with ease and fluency by means of the finger .alphabet. As time went on she studied arithmetic, algebra, geography, history, astronomy, philosophy, and geometry, and, as shtf herself wrote on her fifty-eighth birthday, " besides doing duties for the matron and friends, she was happy to be the assistant of the teacher in the work of the ■school for many long terras." This was written on the occasion of a special celebration held in the hall of the Institute on the fiftieth anniversary of Laura Bridgman's admission. For those fifty years she had lived a life of happy interest and usefulness —a marvellous example of the triumph of the mind over bodily imperfection and deprivation. Laura Bridgman has, in fact, been a pioneer. She has led an unhappy section of her race out of the most terrible bondage. She has shown what things are possible even to those who are blind and deaf. There are two little girls now inmates of the same home who are similarly afflicted; but the example has been given, and their path is plain. When Carlyle impertinently asked: "What gieat or noble thing has America ever done ?" somebody replied: " She has produced a girl, deaf, dumb, and blind from infancy, who, from her own earnings, has sent a barrel of flour to the starving subjects of Great Britain in Ireland." The gift was made in 1847, and has not been forgotten. Nor must it be forgotten that it was to Dr Howe that Laura Bridgman owed the opportunity, and even the possibility, of living a useful and happy life, full of intelligence and beneficent activity, and that some knowledge of the world and some interest in life are now possible to those who suffer deprivations similar to hers.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890817.2.29.6

Bibliographic details

Laura Bridgman., Evening Star, Issue 7988, 17 August 1889, Supplement

Word Count
722

Laura Bridgman. Evening Star, Issue 7988, 17 August 1889, Supplement

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