صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

the former, you might say, "plain;" to the latter, and say, “mountain;" the child would understand you. Again, you might suffer your arm to hang motionless by your side, and say, this is the plain; that is the mountain;" and you would be understood equally well, for the demonstrative supplies the place of a gesture.

No one ever mistakes a gesture which is prompted by na. ture; no Joseph is demanded to interpret its meaning; when a man wrings his hands convulsively, you know that he is in distress; when he claps them and dances, he says to you, as plainly as he can, "rejoice with me, for I am happy." Who needs a commentator to inform him that this man is surprised, and perhaps a little alarmed, at something, which he does not deign to tell us?

Who doubts that Shakspeare's Horatio threw himself into a similar attitude, when spying the approaching ghost before Hamlet, he cries out, "Look, my lord, it comes !” Perhaps some one, when reading, in these pages, of the proceedings of those famous dairy folks, the ants, milking their kine, and folding their herds, may, dropping the book, lift his hands, as does this worthy, and in an ecstasy of surprise and appre

J

hension, exclaim, "bless me! can this be true? Is the author sane?" It would not be strange if some person should actually be affected thus, but I hope that you will not, reader.

Here comes another character:

[ocr errors]

I need not tell you that a strong feeling of aversion is in. dicated by the stretched out arms and averted head. It may possibly be, though I do not assert it, that this man, believing in the intelligence of animals, and in an intelligible language among them, has been listening to a tirade of ridicule against the views here expressed. Just at this fortunate moment, his patience becoming exhausted, he, with this expressive gesture, exclaims, "away with such contracted notions! Away with them!”

So great power did the ancients attain over their auditors by means of this language, when combined with artificial methods of communication, that a law was passed, forbidding the Roman Senators to employ it in their orations.

The proper use of gesture, sometimes produces wonderful effects. It is said that Curran, when pronouncing his elo. quent speech relative to those who acted as informers to a tyrannical government, after portraying their character in all

its dark and hideous lines; representing them as disinterred from a moral grave-wrapped in the garments of corruptiontheir hearts festered and dissolved within them, appearing in the Court-room as witnesses; after he had sketched all this, with a fearful minuteness, Curran suddenly stopped. His eyes starting from their sockets, were fixed by some hidden fascination upon the opposite door; his trembling finger pointed thither, as though the very image he had just portrayed, stood before him; in a voice low and sepulchral, as if terror had disembodied it, inquired, “hare you not seen when he entered, how the multitude retired at his approach? How the human mind bowed to the supremacy of his power, in the undissembled homage of deferential horror?” The words were nothing, but the manner, the look, the gesture were erery thing, and the vast concourse, already wrought up to the highest pitch, turned as one man, with a convulsive shudder, toward the door,

CHAPTER VIII,

The Deaf and DumbTheir manual AlphabetMr. Gallau

detThe countenance-Passion-dialing-Connection of mind with body-Description of the DialThe sixth sense- The facial musclesTheir names.

Having concluded what I proposed to say, of the language of gesticulation, I can only recommend it to you as worthy a far more thorough investigation, than I can even assist you to make, much less institute altogether.

In turning from this to another species of natural language, one of the artificial media of communication, seems to claim a place in this connection; viz: that of the deaf mutes. Perhaps, indeed, it cannot be more properly introduced than at this very moment, as we are leaving the only branch of natural language which bears the slightest analogy to it.

The skill of man was never directed to the accomplishment of a nobler object, than the invention of some means by which these unfortunate, but immortal beings could become more thoroughly conversant with one another, and the beautiful world around them. Remember that there are more than sixty two thousand* human beings, among the civilized and enlightened nations, beside the vast number scattered throughout the heathen tribes, who dwell in a world silent as the tomb; sixty two thousand who never heard the sweet tones of friendship, as you have; never listened to the melody of music; never felt the eloquence of speech.

When you remember this, you can appreciate that philanthropy, which catching a hint from the natural language of gesticulation, devised, a method, by which these pent-up spir. its can hold converse with their fellow-men. Think a mo. ment! What voiceless but heartfelt praise must have ascended from those silent ones, to that great and good Being, who put it into human hearts to do a deed like this. Think again! What gratitude should swell your bosom, that speech and hearing unimpaired, were given you. I am sure that you do not wonder why I have devoted a few lines to a notice of the language employed by the deaf-mutes, for, in truth, I will not hesitate to say, that if I could trace no analogy between this and any other branch of the subject, I should most certainly

* 6,106, in U. S. A.; 12,000 in England; 16,000 in France; 27,000 in Austria.

introduce it, for the peculiar interest with which it must ever be invested, to him who, with a clear head, is also blessed with a warm heart.

A few years only, have elapsed since the deaf, the dumb and the blind were considered to be without the pale of intel. lectual being, and amid the blaze of mental and moral light were suffered to grope in the darkness of heathenism. But a star has arisen in their dark horizon, ushering in a glorious morning, and almost blessing them with a new existence. It seems as if the prophecy of the gifted Isaiah was even now being fulfilled; “that the eyes of the blind are even now opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped, and the tongue of the dumb breaking forth in song. But when that time shall indeed arrive, the name of Thomas H. Gallaudet will be engraved on the tablet of many a grateful heart. Howard let the glad light of Heaven in upon the dark, damp cells of European prisons, but Gallaudet has unbarred the stronger gates of the mental prison-house, and admitted the nobler, purer radiance of intellectual day.

The manual or Spanish Alphabet of these unfortunate beings is here presented. Thus "the deaf hear :" A B С D

E

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

Η Ι

J

« السابقةمتابعة »