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means of communication was by writing, or spelling the substantives on his fingers, and then signing the rest, which he did so perfectly, that few who would give their attention were at a loss to know his meaning
The first piece of composition he ever wrote, is here introduced :
“I was stripping Frederick Wright out of his clothes, and I prayed to God for him. I was putting him lay in the bed last night, and I was stripping out of my clothes, and I prayed to God, and I lay asleep in the bed. The servant took F. Wright out of a bed, and went up the stairs into the bed-room And I was awaking out of a bed, and I was seeking in a bed for F. Wright, and I lost hinn.”
Thus it will be seen, that the very first time that ever he expressed his thoughts in writing, was to disclose the fact, that he had prayed to God for his little mute companion.
About this time there are one or two interesting notices of this dear boy in the Visiting Ladies' Report Book:
“October, 1843. Another pleasing instance occurred, in the boy Lashford's very appropriate application of a text he had found himself. Looking at a small picture describing Hagar's distress in the wilderness, he immediately wrote on his slate, “In my distress I cried unto the Lord.'"
March, 1844. On being shown some engravings of animals, in which the larger and fiercer ones were attacking the feebler and more harmless,—he looked at them for a few minutes, and then spelt on his fingers, ‘God made them all,' and waited anxiously for a reply, to solve a difficulty which appeared to him to question the wisdom and goodness of Him who had created them. The lady who had showed him the engraving, reminded him that God had made Adam and Eve good; but when, by disobedience, they became bad, the curse of God fell upon every thing, and all became bad. He immediately made the sign · Yes;' which he repeated two or three times, and then spelled 'sin, bad,' as though he would have said—and that is the cause of all that is bad. The next day the subject appeared to be still in his mind; and on seeing the same lady, he brought her a picture of Daniel in the lions' den, and shewed her that the lions there had their mouths shut, and then spelled, 'God shut their mouths, for Daniel was a good man.' She told him that when Jesus Christ returned to this world, the curse would be done away with, and the animals would no longer be fierce, and tear one another. He immediately asked her, if that was in the Bible. She replied, 'Yes ;' upon which he ran for one, and begged her to find it for him. She shewed him Isaiah xi. and says she shall never forget the eagerness
with which he read the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th verses, especially that which says, 'A weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den.'"
The following, his first letter, was written to the matron of the institution, from Balcombe, July 18, 1844, where he had gone to spend his holidays with his aunt:
“My dear matron,-I am happy to write a letter to you. I have a pen. I am happy you are reading in it. I did go to the church with Benjamin J. and other some bad men laughed in it; and the clergyman taught to people, and other some men nodded at him. I was climbing up to in a tree to see, some oxen leaped over a hedge, to ran to under trees in rain. A farmer took some hares out of traps, and killed them. Cousins were glad to see me was coming from Brighton. They went to Mrs. S. I was happy to see her. I am very well. I cannot catch many hares; they ran into holes. E, S. was falling off the stool, and tore chin with the nail of the corner shelf; and I was help to take up her, and she wept. M. gave snuff to me, and I was snuffing my nose, and I was sneezing and make nose bleed ;—she was laughing at me. Chickens sprang out of the broken eggs. They lay in the wings of a hen as warm. bowing to two ladies, and one of them gave four-pence to me, and I was thanking her. I am," &c.
About a year and a half afterwards he was able to express himself pretty well upon all common subjects. Being anxious to know something of what his thoughts were before coming to school,” says the master of the institution, “I asked him what he thought made the wind blow; and he said, he thought it was some man with a very large bellows, for he could make a great deal of wind with his mother's bellows, and he thought it must be a very, very large bellows that makes great winds. I then asked him what he thought the moon was;—he said, he thought that it was a very large ball of fire, which was put up by some man; and that one night he thought he saw it on the top of a hill, and he walked up the hill, thinking that when he got to the top he should be close to it, and he was much astonished to find that when he got there he seemed no nearer than before. I put numerous questions to him at different times, with a view to find out whether he had any real knowledge of a Supreme Being, or whether he had formed any superstitious notions in his own mind respecting God; but I could never discover that he had formed any idea, either real or superstitious, respecting there being but one Ruler and Governor of the universe, by whom all things were made,
The power of grace over his natural disposition will in some
measure be illustrated by the following little anecdote. On his first coming to school, if ever a quarrel arose between him and any of his companions, he would not fight or shew much passion at the time, but would take the first opportunity of secretly destroying or hiding something belonging to them. He said he did not know that it was wrong to steal or lie, if he could do so without being found out; and I shall never forget when he wrote this, how beautifully his countenance brightened up when he added, " I did not know then, but now I know, that God, hath commanded and said, “Thou shalt not steal.'"
It was quite a common thing with him, when we had told him any thing was wrong, to ask, “ Is it in the Bible?” and when the passage was pointed out to him, it was beautiful to see his sweet smile, accompanied by a gentle nod of acquiescence. No further argument, no greater proof did he ever want, than his Bible afforded. The Word of God was, indeed, all in all to him.
He had now a Bible of his own, which he read daily, I might almost say hourly. And, considering the limited knowledge of language he possessed, it was quite astonishing to see the facility with which he could refer to passages touching upon any subject about which I might be signing. He shewed great pleasure in reading the Bible, long before I could possibly think that he was sufficiently acquainted with language to understand even the most simple passages; but how fully was the scripture fulfilled in him which saith, “The entrance of Thy Words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple.”— Ps. cxix. 130.
At this time he was very fond of seeking out and writing down the different titles of Christ; and he would make lists the various miracles wrought by our Lord,—the names of the apostles and evangelists,—with any little circumstance connected with them that he might have understood on trying to read over their history, as related in the gospels. And truly it was the delight of his soul; for, after he was able to read the Bible, we never knew him go to bed without it. I have, many a time, gone into his bed-room in the morning, and found him reading it long before the hour for rising. He always kept a piece of paper in his Bible, on which to write every word he did not understand; he would then bring them to me, to have them fully explained.
The following letter will be read with great interest, as it fully shews his perfect knowledge of the nature of sin and the temptations of the devil, and to whom alone he could look for strength to withstand them.
" Deaf and Dumb Institution, Sept. 9th, 1846. “Dear Madam,— I hope you are very well and happy. I am very well and happy at school. I hope God takes care of you in Lindfield. I think of God and Jesus much. It is very nice and good to think of God and Jesus. God is very kind and good to us always. I wish you to pray for me, because I pray for you often. Why do I pray for you? Jesus Christ is our kindest Saviour, and he hath told me to do so. He told his dear disciples to pray for each other. He prayed all night in his agony for us in the garden on the earth, and then be was crucified to save us from the power of sin and the temptations of the devil. He has done much for us.
You must pray for the poor people. God says, ye must work for his great love. I love the Bible very much, but I love God best of all, because he first loved me very exceedingly. I want us to be the children of God, and I want us to pray and love and serve only God always. We must pray to God. We must pray to him to keep us from all evil, for our blessed Saviour's sake. The devil wants us to break God's all holy laws, and work much evil for him; but we must pray to God to keep us from being tempted to sin, and then the devil cannot tempt us to sin. God is more powerful than the devil that wants to get power.
I and you must pray to God to keep us froin all evil, for our Saviour's sake. The devil mocks us when we pray, but we must love God more and more. God is very angry with the devil, from the beginning to this time. God says the devil will be made everlasting prisoner, and cast into hell for ever.
We must pray to God to make us holy every day and night, and then God will take us to heaven, to live with him in everlasting bliss in heaven. “ I remain, dear madam, your obedient servant,
“ J. W. LASHFORD.” He would doubtless have left the institution for the purpose of learning a trade when he had reached the age of seventeen, had he been a strong boy; but being of a weak constitution, and also having made great progress in drawing, the committee consented that he should remain in the institution, with the view of his ultimately becoming a teacher, and likewise to enable him to prosecute his studies in drawing, with a hope that it might at some future period be made a means of livelihood. Thus we had planned, and thus we had hoped for the future well-being of this dear boy, until about the middle of March, 1848, when the feeling gradually stole upon us, though very reluctantly, that he was not long for this world. We called in the physician to the institution, who, on examining him, thought he would eventually go into consumption, but at that time he
did not consider there was any real disease of the lungs. He ordered him strengthening food, which he was well able to take, and for a while appeared a little better; but after a time he seemed to sink again, and then it was thought desirable he should go home to his parents for a little change, which he did on the 4th of April. At this time he seemed very low in spirits, and his poor fond mother told me, with tears, she felt sure something was preying upon his mind, for she had never seen him so cast down before; and she said that which hurt her more than all was, he had not taken any delight in reading his Bible, for it had lain on the shelf untouched ever since he came home, which was what she had never before seen since he had had a Bible.
But this dark cloud soon passed away, though the trial was very severe at the time, and the enemy was never again permitted to cast him down; for the words of the beloved apostle were verified in his experience,~“I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the Word of God abideth in you, and ye have over* come the wicked one." Oh, no! his remarkably cheerful countenance again returned; his large dark penetrating eyes again wore their usual brightness; his Bible was again seen in his hand: and although his sunken cheek and wasted frame shewed that death had put its hand upon his mortal body, still that sweet, grateful smile which at all times lighted up his happy face, bespoke a peace within which was not of earth.
On the 14th of April we held an examination at Hastings, and as he was thought equal to the journey we took him with us, thinking the little change might do him good. He was very weak, and there. fore only wrote answers to about half a dozen questions. A gentleman in the room being anxious to know whether they understood the meaning of abstract terms, requested me to write the question, you a conscience ?"
He at once wrote “ Yes.” The next question proposed was, “What is conscience ?” He answered, “That which makes me know right from wrong." One of his school-fellows wrote to the same question, “The thought which makes me know right from wrong." These answers were written simultaneously. Little did we then anticipate that this was to be almost the last time we were to have him amongst us.
A day or two afterwards he felt unequal to the walk, and said to his mother, “Mrs. Sleight said 'you will come to-morrow,'” and repeated it again, as though his heart wished to come, but his poor body was too weak. She advised him to lie down for a time, which he did, but could not make the effort to come. We did not hear of