Page images
PDF
EPUB

ball, was there to teach them the use of their poor, long, feeble, skinny fingers, or to interrupt the monotony of existence. In some of the “ Homes," kind ladies have supplied this want, and the little ones trot about with horses on wheels, hoops, balls, or dolls. It would be of use in various ways, if some such gifts might find their way into this doleful ward. Several of them seemed susceptible of interests-smiling on the doctor, and watching their companions as he spoke to them in turn. Two of them proposed to sing for us " Mary in Heaven ”they did sing, after a fashion. Their song, however, turned out to be “ The Castle of Montgomery." As they knew the words of that song, which they had probably learned before they came there, they must have been capable of learning a hymn. After we left them, one merry little chap called over the window, “You did not hear my song." Not liking to disappoint him, we returned and heard « Old Virginia's shore,” in a very imperfect pronunciation. Several seemed greatly to enjoy the song, and the return of the company to hear it; and there were evidences that many of them might be taught something which might render life less dreary, and even awaken in them some sense of the powers of the world to come.

But who has time and patience, or benevolence, for so repulsive an undertaking? No one, probably, but some medical experimenter on matter and mind. No inmates of the huge dwelling were more tidy, or had a more airy apartment than they. It is a great thing that the state clothes, feeds, and tends these poor things many of them victims of parental profligacy-and does not allow them to roam about like the “ fool Jacks” and “ daft Jamies” that we used to see a few years since hanging about innyards and gateways in Scotland.

This day was entirely interesting and satisfactory, in spite of the powerful sun which glared upon us. And the kind lady, whose acquaintance we made at the “ Home for the Friendless," and who, out of her generous goodwill, offered to conduct us, rendered it, by her society, still more interesting

On STATEN ISLAND, which forms one side of the Bay of New York, is the Quarantine House, where emigrants, unfit on account of sickness to be taken to Ward's Island, are cared for. Here many a patient in ship-fever is carried to be medicated and nursed—many are restored to health, but many also die.

The “Sailor's Snug Harbour” has also found its place on Staten Island; but being, as we are told, the fruit of private beneficence, it does not come into the same class with the institutions on the other islands.

Those who have buffeted with winds and waves for many a day find in this beautiful locality a haven of repose--a kind of miniature Greenwich Hospital. To escape the tedium of being unemployed, some of them have learned the art of making

baskets of a tough, reedy-looking substance, in such elegant forms, that you might imagine them modelled in Greece or Etruria, rather than woven by hands that have heaved at the capstan and furled the sail.

CHAPTER XXIII.

DEAF AND BLIND.

THERE is a Scotch proverb, “It is easier to look on a burden than to lift it,” meaning, that the sympathiser does not feel so keenly as the sufferer. The result of this truth is, that many sufferers remain unaided. Yet the Christian part of our world shews varied and noble establishments, the sole object of which is to lighten, if not remove, the load of the burden. We find it instructive to look from the institution to its source, and can generally trace it to a single bosom, where the chord of compassion has been touched by a sight of distress—and from that we thankfully follow it higher, till we reach Him from whom compassions flow, and who hath the hearts of all men in his hand, and turneth them as he turneth the rivers of water. Thus was the heart of the benevolent Count Von de Reeke touched when he found naked children living on roots in a Silesian forest, whom a prolonged and bloody war had rendered parentless. Out of his emotion of pity sprung the institution at Düsselthal Abbey, which

has preserved, educated, and sent out in the world, 1400 orphans. Thus was the heart of Mrs Tomlinson moved, by the faithfulness of a widow who rescued her children from a Popish asylum, and preferred extreme poverty with them to having them fed and perverted—and out of this sprung the Half Orphan Asylum, beginning in a cellar, where a matron took charge of four babes. One house after another was found too strait for them, till now they rank amongst the substantial and excellent charities of New York. Thus, too, was Dr Guggenbühl smitten with the idea that there might exist some portion of mind under the deformity and apparent idiocy of the poor cretin. He saw one of these miserable beings kneeling and muttering before an image of the Virgin. Compassion welled up till his heart had no repose--and out of that has sprung the cheerful and prosperous hospital of the Abendberg, which has been parent to another and another in Switzerland; to two schools for those of feeble intellects, in England; and it is expected that more of this humble but useful family of charities are hastening to come forth vigorously in America.

But the examples are numerous, and might occupy a chapter themselves. The only one that I shall name in addition is connected closely with our present subject.

In the city of Hartford it pleased God to afflict a very lovely and intelligent young creature, Alice

« PreviousContinue »