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her on the affliction and withdrew, full of the thought of taking the place of Father Famin.
The first conception of a great man is usually fruitful germ. Well acquainted with the French grammar, he knew that every language was a collection of signs, as a series of drawings is a collec
tion of figures, the representation of a multitude of objects; and that the deaf and dumb can describe every thing by gestures, as you paint every thing with colours, or express every thing by words: be knew that every object had a form, that every form was capable of being imitated, that actions struck your sight, and that you were able to describe them by imitative gestures : he knew that words were conventional signs, and that gestures might be the same, and that there could therefore be a language formed of gestures, as there was a language of words. We can state as a probable fact, that there was a time in which man had only gestures to express the emotions and affections of his soul. He loved, wished, boped, imagined, and reflected, and the words to express those operations still failed him. He could express the actions relative to his organs; but the dictionary of acts, purely spiritual, was not begun as yet.
Full of these fundamental ideas, the Abbé de L'Epée was not long without visiting the unfortunate family again; and with what
; pleasure was he not received! He reflected, be imitated, he delineated, he wrote, believing he had but a language to teach, while in fact he had two minds to cultivate ! How painful, how difficult were the first essays of the inventor! Deprived of all assistance, in a career full of thorns and obstacles, he was a little embarrassed, but was not discouraged. He armed himself with patience, and succeeded, in time, to restore his pupils to Society and Religion.
Many years after, and before his method could have attained the highest degree of perfection of which it was susceptible, death came and removed that excellent father from his grateful children. Affliction was in all hearts-Fortunately the Abbé Sicard, who was chosen for his successor, caused their tears to cease. He was a man of profound knowledge, and of a mind very enterprising. Every invention or discovery, however laudable and ingenious it may be, is never quite right in its beginning. Time only makes it perfect. The clothes, shoes, hats, watches, houses, and every thing of our ancestors, were not as elegant and refined as those of the present century. In like manner was the method of the Abbé de L/Epée. Mr. Sicard reviewed it, and made perfect what bad been left to be devised, and had the gocd fortune of going beyond all the disciples of his predecessor. His present pupils are now worthy of him, and I do not believe them any longer unhappy. Many are married, and have children endowed with the faculties of all their senses, and who will be the comforters and protectors of their parents in their old age. (The United States is the first country where I have seen one or two deaf and dumb fathers, some of whose children are deaf and dumb like themselves. Will this prove that the Americans are worse than Europeans? By no means. It
is the result of natural causes, which I shall explain hereafter.) Many others of the deaf and dumb are the instructors of their companions of misfortune. Many others are employed in the offices of government and other public administrations. Many others are good painters, sculptors, engravers, workers in Mosaic; while others exercise mechanical arts; and some others are merchants, and transact their own business perfectly well: and it is education which has thus enabled them to pursue these different professions. An uneducated deaf and dumb would never be able to do this. Let us now speak of instruction, and say what Mr. Sicard did while teaching me. By reading or hearing this, you may pretty well judge how we teach the Anerican deaf and dumb.
The sight of all the objects of nature which could be placed before the eyes of the deaf and dumb, the representation of those objects, either by drawing, by painting, by sculpture, or by the natural signs, which the deaf and dumb employ or invent themselves, or understand with an equal facility: the
expression of the will and passions, by the mere movement of the features, combined with the attitude and gestures of the body; writing traced, or printed, or ex. pressed by conventional signs for each letter, or even simply figured in the air, offered to Mr. Sicard many means of instructing those unfortunate beings to whom he had resolved to devote his life. He afterwards discovered, by his own experience, that it was possible to make the deaf and dumb speak by the imitation of the movement of the organs of speech, a movement which the eye
alone enabled them to conceive and transmit to their understanding. He saw that they could thus comprehend and express the accents of words which they did not understand. But this artificial speech not being susceptible among the deaf and dumb-of complete improvement, nor of modification and regulation, by the sense of hearing, is almost always very painful, harsh and discordant, and comparar tively useless. It has neither the rapidity nor the expressiveness of signs, nor the precision of writing. This artificial part of instruction of the deaf and dumb, therefore, appeared to him very limited, and of little advantage.
Nevertheless, he saw with great interest, when in England with myself, the degree of perfection with which this mechanical movement had been able to imitate speech, according to the method of Mr. Braidwood, and by the talent and care of Dr. Watson, in London. He heard several of their pupils, in whose voice there was not any thing very disagreeable. Dr. Watson observed to Mr. Sicard, that this artificial speech was a medium which was found peculiarly useful for the deaf and dumb among the poor, because the children of this description are placed in manufactories, and are thus enabled to communicate more easily with their masters. This motive of convenience appeared to Mr. Sicard to deserve the greatest attention; but if the question regards the opening of the understanding of the deaf and dumb, as to the important end of giving them in society the same rank they would have if they were not deprived of the sense of hearing and the use of speech, his own experience and that of his pupils themselves demonstrated fully to him, that nothing can supply to them the place of their natural language, the language of signs, of which all languages spoken or written, are no more to them than translations.
The language of signs, then, ought to fix the attention of every enlightened man who makes it his study to improve the various parts of public instruction; this language, as simple as nature, is capable of extending itself like her, and of attaining the furthest limits of human thought. This language of signs is universal, and the deaf and dumb, of whatever country they may be, can understand each other as well as you who hear and speak, do among yourselves. But they cannot understand you; it is for this reason that we wish to instruct them, that they may converse with you by writing in the room of speech, and know the truths and mysteries of religion.
Mr. Sicard's first steps, and even the difficulties presented to him by his pupils, made him soon feel the necessity of proceeding according to the strictest method, and of fixing their ideas as well as the knowledge they were progressively acquiring, permanently in their memory, so that what they already knew, might have an immediate connection with what they were to learn ; his pupils, unable to comprehend bim, if the instruction which he wished to give them did not coincide with that which they had received before ; for thus they stopped his progress, and he could not accomplish his purpose
, but by resuming the chain of their ideas, and constantly following the uninterrupted line from the known to the unknown. It was thus that he succeeded in making them comprehend the language of the country in which he instructed them. This natural method is applicable to all languages. It proceeds by the surest and shortest way, and may be applied to all the channels of communication between one man and another.
It is by this method that Mr. Sicard has brought the deaf and dumb to the knowledge of all the kinds of words, of which a language is composed, of all the modifications of those words, of their variations and different senses; in short, of all their reciprocal influence.
In this m the nouns become to the deaf and dumb the signs of all the objects of nature ; words, which indicate qualities, become the signs of the accidents, variations and modifications which they perceive in objects. "Mr. Sicard bas made them comprehend, that qualities may be conceived of as detached from the object; whereby the adjective is far better defined than in the grammar written for youth, and by which means, also, he has so very rapidly led them to the science of abstraction. Besides, Mr. Sicard bas made them conceive, that the qualities, which, in their eyes, appeared inherent in the cbjects, could be detached from them by thought; but then it was necessary to unite them to objects, and they themselves pointed out the necessity of the junction by a line. Mr. Sicard has taught them that, in all languages, this line is translated by a word 'affirming existence; in French, by the verb être ; in English, by the verb to be. Tree-green, or tree is green, has equally represented to their minds the object existing in conjunction with its quality, or the quality inherent in the object.
Mr. Sicard has thus made them understand the nature of the verb, and by making them afterwards comprehend that the verb could express either an existence, or an action present, past, or fu. ture, he has led them to the system of conjugation, and to all the shades of past and future, adopted in all the various languages written or spoken; an admirable system, in which the influence of the genius and of the thoughts of ages is perceptible.
It is to this system, which embraces all possible combinations, and which unites all thoughts, that the language of the deaf and dumb accommodates itself with wonderful facility. The proofs of this assertion, given by Mr. Sicard's pupils, must astonish even the best informed men.
By the same method of proceeding from the known to the unknown, he has subsequently brought to the perception of his pupils, the characters, use, and influence of all the other words, which, as parts of speech, unite, modify, and determine the sense of the noun, the verb, and the adjective.
It is thus that at length Mr. Sicard has led his pupils to analyse with facility the simplest propositions, as well as the most complicated phrases and sentences, by a system of figures, which, by always distinguishing the name of the object which is either acting, or receiving the effect of an action, the verb and its government direct, indirect, or circumstantial, embraces and completely displays all the parts of speech. The use of this method, when generally adopted, will simplify the rules of grammar in all languages, and facilitate, more than any other method, the understanding and translating, both of modern and ancient languages.
This is the way by which Mr. Sicard has initiated his pupils into the knowledge of all the rules of universal grammar, applicable to the primitive expression of signs, as well as to all spoken and written languages.
But names do not only express physical objects; there are some which represent abstract objects. Whiteness, greatness, beauty, heat, and many other words, do not express objects existing individually in nature, but ideas of qualities, common to several objects; qualities, which we consider detached from the objects to which they belong, and of which we make an intellectual substantive, created by the mind.-As soon as Mr. Sicard taught the deaf and dumb to comprehend that the will, which determines our senses and our thoughts, is not the action of a physical being, which can be seen and touched, he gave them a consciousness of their soul, and made them fit for society and for happiness. The affecting expression of their gratitude proves the extent of that benefit.
He advanced a step further, and the access to the highest conceptions of the human mind was opened to them. Mr. Šicard has found it easy to make them
pass from abstract ideas to the most sublime truths of religion. They have felt that this soul, of which
to the grave.
they have the consciousness, is not a fictitious existence, is not an abstract existence created by the mind; but a real existence, which wills and which produces movement, which sees, which thinks, which reflects, which compares, which meditates, which remembers, which foresees, wbich believes, which doubts, which hopes, which loves, which hates. After this, he directed their thoughts towards all the physical existences submitted to their view through the immensity of space, or on the globe which we inhabit; and the regularity of the march of the sun and all the celestial bodies; the constant succession of day and night; the return of the sea-sons; the life, the riches and the beauty of nature ;-made them feel that nature also had a soul, of which, the power, the action, and the immensity, extend through every thing existing in the universe; a soul which creates all, inspires all, and preserves all. Filled with these great ideas, the deaf and dumb bave prostrated themselves on the earth along with Mr. Sicard himself, and he has told them that this soul of nature is that God whom all men are called upon to worship, to whom our temples are raised, and with whom our religious doctrines and ceremonies connect us, from the cradle
All was now done ; and Mr. Sicard found himself able to open to his pupils all the sublime ideas of religion, and all the laws of virtue and of morals.
You see by the above particulars, ladies and gentlemen, what Mr. Sicard has achieved for his pupils. Their replies to the ques tions which have been proposed to them in France, sufficiently prove that they have run the career which I have above deline. ated. This career is that which a man, gifted with all bis senses, and who is to be instructed, ought alike to run. The arts and sciences belong to the class of physical or intellectual objects; and the deaf and dumb, like men gifted with all their senses, may penetrate them according to the degree of intelligence which nature has granted them, as soon as they have reached the degree of instruction which Mr. Sicard's system of teaching embraces and affords.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, if you will take the pains of reflect ing ever so little upon the excessive difficulties which this mode of instruction presents, without cessation, you will not believe, as many people in this country do, that a few years are sufficient, in order that a deaf and dumb person may be restored to society, and so acquainted with religion as to partake of it with benefit, and to render an account to himself of the reasons of his faith. You will notice, that the language of any people cannot be the mother tongue of the deaf and dumb born amidst these people. Every spoken language is necessarily a learned language for these unfortunate beings. The Eoglish language must be taught to the deaf and dumb, as the Greek or Latin
is taught, in the Colleges, to the young Americans who attend the classes of this kind. Now, will you, ladies and gentlemen, give yourselves the trouble of in.