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public are almost purely anecdotical, not to say gossiping. Many French and German works are of a higher order. Among these, the treatise of M. Dufau stands preëminent for the evidence which it presents of exhaustive knowledge of his subject, both in its theoretic and practical aspects, for the philosophic method and powers of generalisation it displays, as well as the insight it gives into the many interesting questions of psychology to which the study of the mental life of the blind introduces The blind are treated of in his

at once objects of social beneficence and of scientific observation;" and in either relation with equal skill. It is in the latter aspect that we propose now to view them. But before proceeding to this part of our subject, we desire to gather together such scanty statistics of blindness as have been collected. They are far froin being either extensive or exact enough to warrant any very positive conclusions on the points to the clearing-up of which attention should be drawn. Among these, M. Dufau, to whom (except when another authority is expressly cited) we are indebted for the details about to be stated, enumerates the “relative extent to which blindness prevails in town and country, in agricultural and manufacturing districts, dry and marshy lands; the various degrees of blindness; the age at which in each case it has supervened; the rank in life of the sufferers,” &c.

The following figures convey the proportion which the blind hold, in the undermentioned countries, to the entire population. The average of three censuses, taken in Prussia in the years 1831, 1834, and 1837, gives one blind person among 1401 inhabitants. In Belgium, in 1831, the proportion was rather higher, being one in 1316. As regards France, no reliable information appears to exist. M. Dufau, comparing it with the two neigh

, bouring countries, states that in 1836, supposing the proportion of blind the same as in Prussia, there would have been 23,862 of this class in France; and if the ratio were equal to that of Belgium, 25,487; or, taking a mean, 24,675. In an English book published this year, Realities of Paris Life

, the number of blind in France is estimated at 50,000. But this is mere guesswork. Among the subjects of Queen Victoria, according to Mr. Johns, the ratio is one in_1000, there being 30,000 blind among 30,000,000 who see. In Ireland one in 870 is blind; in Sweden one in 1091; in Norway one in 566. In Spain the number of blind persons is very great. In Egypt and Morocco they are rudely estimated in the ratio of one to every hundred of the population. Of the white inhabitants of the United States, one in 2824 is blind; among the coloured population the proportion is nearly twice as great, being one in 1465.* In Africa,

* Dufau, p. 217. The partial identity of these numbers with those given by

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on the other hand, the white population is said to suffer more than the black from ophthalmic affections. Dr. Zeune of Berlin has drawn up a table representing the manner in which, as he believes, blindness varies according to degrees of latitude: Latitude 20° to 30° 1 blind in 100 individuals. 30 40 1

300 40 50 1

800
50 60 1

1400
60
70 1

1000 It is evident, however, that a definite numerical statement of this kind is as yet (to say the least) premature. Some of the details already cited conflict with it. Dr. Zeune's general principle is, however, true, that “the number of the blind, considerable in the more northern parts of the globe, diminishes in the temperate zones, and then increases more rapidly as we approach the equator, where it is at its maximum." Still it is impossible at present to draw lines of equal blindness, like the lines of equal heat which physical geographers have laid down; and it is clear that the former would, just as little as the latter, correspond exactly with the parallels of latitude. Conditions of climate, soil, and employment; social arrangements, sanitary, economical, and others; and many other circumstances which do not vary as the distances from the equator, are no doubt causes which, as they affect the physical organisation for good or ill, tend to promote or check blindness. There seems some reason to believe that mountainous districts are more favourable to the preservation of sight than flat tracts of country. In the canton of Berne, a return made in 1840 gave few blind-one in 1570. In the three more elevated provinces of Prussia, the blind were one in 1613; in the ten lower and more level provinces, one in 1308.

As regards the age at which blindness occurs, it seems established that comparatively few cases occur in childhood, or even adolescence. “ In Prussia, in 1831, it was calculated that out Mr. Johns respecting Pennsylvania alone, makes it possible that we have, in one case or the other, an inaccurate form of the same statement. “ There are some points of detail connected with the statistics of blindness in America of which we can offer our readers no satisfactory explanation. For example, why should the free and independent drab-coated men of Pennsylvania, having white skins, suffer only to the amount of one in 2842 ; negroes in a state of freedom, to that of one in 370; while if they do not survive sugar-hoeing, and never emerge into free life, blindness attacks only one in 2645? If the statistics be true,--and we quote on the best authority, - great must be the virtues of sugar-planting and hoeing, and gross, we fear, the excesses into which liberty too often leads the free and emancipated negro:- Mrs. H. B. Stowe nevertheless and notwithstanding" (Land of Darkness, pp. 99, 100). If the same figures were cited of Roman bondsmen and liberti, they would furnish a more powerful argument than any M. Dufau has been able to bring forward to show that Roman masters were in the habit of destroying their blind slaves;—and yet an entirely false one.

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"*

of 9212 blind persons of every age, 846, or nearly one-eleventh, were between one and fifteen years of age; while in Sweden, in 1840, on a total number of 2790 blind, only 138, or one-twentieth, belonged to this category.” In the duchy of Brunswick, out of 286 blind persons, 14, or one-twentieth, were under seren years of age; 18, or one-fifteenth, under fifteen years of age. . Dr. Bull sets down 2500 out of 30,000 (that is, one-twelfth of the whole) as born blind in England; by which he means blind before their eighth year. In America, the adolescent blind apparently furnish a much larger percentage of a much smaller number of blind. “From a recent report of the Pennsylvania Blind-School,” says Mr. Johns, “we find that there are 10,000 blind persons

in the United States; of whom 8000 are under thirty-five years of age, 4000 blind at birth, or before the third year, and 5500 (including, of course, the 4000 just named] before the tenth year.

In France, in Prussia, and in Belgium, the greater number of the blind belong to the male sex.

As regards the hereditary transmission of blindness, the solitary fact stated by M. Dufau, and that without much confidence in its accuracy, is that in England such cases are four per cent. The proportion, he thinks, is probably higher. A single fact conveys the only statement we can give as to the relative prevalence of different degrees of blindness. “In the duchy of Brunswick, in 1842, of 277 [accounted] blind persons, three saw moderately (avaient un æil médiocre), six saw confusedly (jouissaient d'une vue confuse), fifty-one had what is called a point of view (avaient ce qu'on appelle un point de vue), the blindness of the remaining 217 was complete.”+

We have now quoted all the facts on which we could lay our hands, at the risk of wearying the reader, to show the inadequacy of the existing knowledge on the subject as the basis of any but the most provisional generalisations and inferences as to the causes of blindness, and to justify our abstinence from any inquiry into those causes, which at present stand in need of more facts and less speculation on them. On most of the points referred to,—the geographical distribution of the blind; the relative numbers of blind children, adolescents, and adults; of men and women; the age at which vision disappeared; the comparative prevalence of blindness in different ranks in life, as indicated by the employments of the parents or of the sufferers themselves, -it would be quite easy in England to collect a body of exact and authentic information on the occasion of the next census. If proper explanations were offered, few would object to make the requisite returns, which could scarcely be made other than volun

Land of Darkness, p. 99.

+ Dufau, p. 222.

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tarily. Information on some of these heads was, in fact, asked for and obtained in Ireland on occasion of the last census.

In considering the characteristics of the blind as a class, we begin with their physical nature, to which Bloomfield's imaginative description of the life of the blind boy may serve as an introduction:

“Where's the blind boy, so admirably fair,
With guileless dimples, and with flaxen hair
That waves in every breeze? He's often seen
Beyond yon cottage-wall, or on the green,
With others match'd in spirit and in size,
Health on their cheeks and rapture in their eyes.
That full expanse of voice, to children dear,
Soul of their sports, is duly cherished here.
And hark! that laugh is his,—that jovial cry-
He hears the ball and trundling hoop brush by,
And runs the giddy course with all his might,
A very child in every thing but sight;
With circumscribed but not abated powers,
Play the great object of his infant hours.
In many a game he takes a noisy part,

And shows the native gladness of his heart.” Dr. Bull, who quotes this fancy sketch, says that the picture which it contains is “touchingly and most truthfully delineated." “Foremost among his young companions in their pleasant pastime,” says the Doctor in his own person, “he (the blind child] pursues his sport as active and daring as any, guided and guarded by the exquisite keenness of the perceptions of hearing and touch.”* There are instances familiar to every

" one, which both Bloomfield's and Dr. Bull's language very faintly and inadequately portray. Such is that of John Metcalf (or, as he was called, "Blind Jack”), celebrated as a lad for his boldness in swimming, diving, fox-hunting, and all daring and athletic amusements. So far, however, is it from being true that

* Sense [of Vision] Denied and Lost, p. 37.

† As we may afterwards have to refer to the case of Metcalf, it may be well to give some account of him here.

John Metcalf was born at Knaresborough, in 1716. He lost his sight through smallpox, when he was six years of age. At fifteen he was employed to dive for the bodies of two drowned men in the river Nid, and succeeded in bringing one of them up. He also dived for, and brought up, two packs of yarn, which were sunk in twenty-one feet of water. He rode and won a race, on his own horse ; and enlisting in 1745 in Thornton's troop, fought at Culloden and elsewhere. He afterwards acted as a guide for belated travellers, and drove a stage-waggon between York and Knaresborough. After studying mensuration and engineering, we soon find him engaged,” says Dr. Bull, from whom we have abridged the foregoing statement, “ as a projector and surveyor of roads and bridges. Amongst other works, he built Boroughbridge, and made roads through Yorkshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, and Cheshire. Dr. Bew, the intimate friend of Dr. Moyse, was well acquainted with Metcalf, and thus speaks of him: “With the assistance only of a long staff, I have several times seen this man traversing the roads, ascending precipices, exploring valleys, and investigating their several

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blind children ordinarily manifest the same bodily energy, that M. Dufau points out in them a tendency to inaction and repose which is in remarkable contrast with the incessant and restless mobility of children who see. Instead of “ running the giddy course with all their

might,” a more or less rapid walk, according as the place in which they may be is more or less known to them, is generally the only exercise they take.” There are children who arrive at the age of reason without ever having run. " Their games,” says the same authority, “are seldom animated.” At work, their immobility is even more striking. At most one sees a hand noiselessly seeking its neighbour hand : the words Tenez-vous tranquille, which are elsewhere always in the master's mouth, are here rarely used; it is very common to see young people, who have reached the time of life at which an ardent activity develops itself in us, remaining for a quarter of an hour at a time perfectly motionless: their closed eyes, their grave foreheads, their countenances, in which the soul fails to be reflected, then present the appearance of the calmest sleep. When their features are good, you might think them antique busts, the models of which had been borrowed from the school of Zeno."*

This picture of the young blind is, no doubt, from M. Dufau's extensive opportunities of observation, the true one.

The indisposition which he remarks in them to active exercises is not to be attributed merely to the hesitation and constraint attendant

upon their darkness; it must be sought for in physiological considerations. In persons whose blindness is due to a paralysis of the optic nerve, the brain and nervous system generally are often impaired. That superabundant vital energy, therefore, the spontaneous overflowings of which seem to prompt the purposeless gambols of young animals, does not exist in them. The feeble “nerve-force” (whatever it may be) gives but a feeble stimulus from within to muscular action. Again, the influence of light upon the nervous system is necessary to its healthy tone, as the experiments of Dr. Edwards in regard to its effects upon animal organisation conclusively show. Tad

extents, forms, and situations, so as to further his projects in the best manner. .... Most of the roads over the Peak in Derbyshire have been altered by his directions, particularly those in the vicinity of Buxton. ... I afterwards made some inquiries respecting a new road he was making. It was really astonishing to hear with what accuracy he described the courses, and the nature of the different soils through which it was conducted. Having mentioned a boggy piece of ground it passed through, he observed that it was the only place he had doubts about, and that he was apprehensive they had, contrary to his directions, been too sparing of their materials. This extraordinary man lived to the advanced age of eightyfive, possessed of his mental faculties to the last, and died in 1802'” (Bull's Sense Denied, pp. 103-7).

• Dufau, pp. 2, 3.

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