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THE COLLEGE OF THE DEAF AND DUMB. 203
made two or three signs,, too swift for me to discriminate; Chap. the silent youlh bowed, took me by the hand, led me into the XIX" theatre, and, with the greatest politeness, procured me an excellent seat. The room was very crowded, and in the course of a quarter of an hour after I had 'entered, every avenue leading to it was completely filled with genteel company. The benches of the auditors of the lecture, displayed great beauty and fashion, a stage, or tribune, appeared in front, behind was a large inclined slate, in a frame, about eight feet high,. by six long. On each side of the stage the scholars were placed, and behind the spectators was a fine bust of the founder of the institution, the admirable dc l'Epec.
The abbe Sicard mounted the tribune, and delivered his lecture with very pleasing address, in the course of which he frequently excited great applause. The subject of it was an analysis of the language of the deaf and dumb, interspersed with several curious experiments upon, and anecdotes of his , pupils. The examination of the scholars next followed. The communication which has been opened to them in this singular manner, is by the philosophy of grammar.
The denotation of the tenses is effected by appropriate signs. The hand thrown over the shoulder, expressed the past, when extended, like the attitude of inviting, it denoted the future, and the finger inverted upon the breast, indicated the present tense. A single sign communicated a word, and frequently a sentence. A singular instance of the first occurred. A gentleman amongst the spectators, who appeared to be acquainted with the art of the abbe, was requested to make a sign, to
D D 2 the
204• THE COLLEGE OF THE DEAF AND DUMB.
Chap. the pupil then under examination, the moment it was made, XIX" the scholar chalked upon the slate, in a fine swift flowing hand, " une homme." The pupil erred; the gentleman renewed the sign; when he immediately wrote, "une personne," to the astonishment of every person present. This circumstance is a strong instance of the powers of discrimination, of which this curious communication is susceptible.
Some of the spectators requested the abbe to describe, by signs, several sentences which they repeated from memory, or read from authors, which were immediately understood by the pupils, and penciled upon the slate.
The lecture and examination lasted about three hours. Upon the close of this interesting exhibition, a silent sympathy reigned throughout the spectators. Every face beamed with satisfaction. A tear was seen trembling in the eyes of many present. After a momentary pause, the hall rang with acclamations. Elegant women pressed forward in the crowd, to present some little token of their delighted feelings to the children protected by this institution. It was a spectacle, in which genius was obr served assisting humanity, and nature in a suffusion of gratitude, weeping over the hallowed and propitious endeavours of the good, the generous, and the enlightened. Well might the elegant and eloquent Kotzebue select from such a spot, a subject for his pathetic pen, and give to the british Roscius of the present day*, the power of enriching its drama, by a fresh display of his unrivalled abilities. The exhibition of the
* Mr. Kemble brought out the pathetic play of Deaf and Dumb, the character of the abbe de l'Epee with admirable effect.
in which he sustains
Deaf THE COLLEGE OF THE DEAF AND DUMB.
Deaf and Dumb will never be eradicated from my mind. The tears which were shed on that day, seemed almost sufficient to wipe away the recollection of those times, in which misery experienced no mitigation;: when every one trembling for himself, had no unabsorbed sensation of consoling pity to bestow upon the unfortunate. Those times are gone—May their absence be eternal ! This institution is made serviceable to the state. A pupil of the College is one of the chief clerks of the national lottery office, in which he distinguishes himself by his talents, his calculation, and upright deportment.
Whilst the subject is before me, I beg leave tO' mention a curious circumstance which was related by a very ingenious and honourable manr in a party where I happened to be present, to prove the truth and agreement of nature, in her association of ideas. A blind man was asked by him, to what sound he resembled the sensation produced by touching a piece of red cloth, he immediately replied, to the sound of a trumpet. A pupil of the College of the Deaf and Dumb, who could faintly hear a loud noise, if applied close to his- ear, was asked, to what' Golour he could compare the sound of a trumpet, he said, it always excited in his mind, the remembrance of scarlet cloth *. Two pupils, male and female, of the same College, who had; been placed near cannony when discharged, without being susceptible of the sound, were one day taken by their humane tutor, into a room where the harmonica was playing; a musical instrument, which is said to have a powerful influence
* The first experiment is well known. It is also noticed in Locke upon the Human Understanding.
over 2<Jl? THE COLLEGE OF THE DEAF AND DUMB.
Chap. over the nerves. He asked them by signs, if they felt any XIX' sensation. They replied in the negative. He then placed the hand of the girl upon the instrument, whilst it was playing, and repeated the question, she answered, that she felt a new pleasure enter the ends of her fingers, pass up her arms, and penetrate her heart.
The same experiment was tried upon her companion, who seemed to he sensible of similar sensations of delight, but less acutely felt.
The emotions of sympathy are, perhaps, more forcibly excited by music than by any other cause. An illustrious example of its effect is introduced into Boeihaave's academical lectures on the diseases of the nerves, published by Van Eems. Theodosius the Great, by levying an excessive tribute, inflamed the minds of the people of Antioch against him, who prostrated his statues, and slew his ambassadors.
Upon coolly reflecting on what they had done, and re'membering the stern and ruthless nature of their sovereign, they sent deputies to implore his clemency and forgiveness. The tyrant received them, without making any reply. His chief minister lamenting the condition of these unhappy people, resolved upon an expedient to move the soul of his offended prince to mercy. He accordingly instructed the youths whose office it was to entertain the emperor with music during dinner, to perform an affecting and pathetic piece of music, composed for the purpose. The plaintive sounds soon began to operate. The emperor, unconscious of the cause, bedewed his cup with tears, and when the singers artfully proceeded to