페이지 이미지

the driver on the box—"this is a gentleman you the fact, that the evil consequences of such intercarry. He is just from the Guildhall Charity, marriage very often do not appear until the second which accounts for his appearance. Go on now. generation, or even later. However, in these London Tavern, Fleet Street, remember, is the seventeen households there were ninety-five chilplace."

dren. What were these children like? Imagine

a school of ninety-five children, of all ages, or “Now, Heaven in its kind mercy save me from the children of a hamlet at play, and think what the noble charities of London," sighed I, as that the little crowd would look like ; and then read night I lay bruised and battered on my bed ; this! Of these ninety-five children, one was a "and Heaven save me equally from the Poor dwarf. Well, that might easily be. One was Man's Pudding' and the • Rich Man's Crumbs.'' deaf. Well, no great wonder in that. Twelve

were scrofulous. That is a large number, cerA CHAPTER ON IDIOTS.' tainly ; but scrofula is sadly common, and esDEOPLE whose ancestors came in at the Con- pecially in unhealthy situations. Well, but fortyI quest, are apt to have one idea over-ruling all FOUR were idioTS. others—that nobody is worthy of their alliance Of all the long and weary pains of mind to whose ancestors did not come in at the Conquest. which the unselfish can be subject, we know of Of course this has been an idea ever since the none so terrible as that of the mother attainConquest began to be considered an old event; ing the certainty that her child is an idiot. Reand, of course, there have been fewer and fewer viewing the whole case as we have ourselves obfamilies who had a right to it. Of course, also, served it, it seem to us an affliction made tolerable those families have intermarried, and the inter- only by its gradual growth, and the length of marriage has been more and more restricted. years over which it is spread. How sweet was Another " of course" follows, on which we need the prospect of the little one coming--not only not enlarge. Every body knows the consequences in the sacred anticipations of the parents, but of prolonged intermarriages between any sort of when the elder children were told, in quiet, joyful people who are few enough to be almost all blood moments of confidence, that there would be a relations. The world was shocked and grieved, baby in the house by-and-by! And when it some years since, at the oldest baronage in En- came, how amiable, and helpful, and happy every gland - going out at the ace of diamonds”-ex- body was-keeping the house quiet for the mother's piring in the disgrace of cheating at cards. The sake, and wondering at the baby, and not mindworld ought to be quite as much shocked and ing any irregularity or little uncomfortableness grieved at seeing—what has been seen, and may while the mother was up-stairs. Perhaps there be seen again the honors of the same ancient was a wager that baby would take notice,” turn birth being extinguished in a lunatic asylum.' its eyes to a bright watch, or spoon, or looking

It used to be thought a very religious and glass, at the end of ten days or a fortnight, and beautiful thing (it certainly was the easiest thing) the wager was lost. Here, perhaps, was the to say that it pleased God to send idiots, and first faint indication. But it would not be thought other defective or diseased children, to try and dis much of, the child was so very young! As the cipline their parents by affliction, and so on; but weeks pass, however, and still the child takes no religious physicians now tell us (showing reason notice, a sick misgiving sometimes enters the for what they say) that there is something very mother's mind a dread of she does not know like blasphemy in talking so—in imputing to what, but it does not last long. You may trust Providence the sufferings which we bring upon a mother for finding out charms and promise of ourselves, precisely by disobedience to the great one sort or another in her baby—be it what it natural laws which it is the best piety to obey. may, Time goes on; and the singularity is apIt is a common saying, that families who inter-parent that the baby makes no response to any marry too often, die out; but no account is taken thing. He is not deaf. Very distant street of the miseries which precede that dying out. music probably causes a kind of quiver through Those miseries of disease of body and mind are his whole frame. He sees very well. He cerascribed to Providence, as if Providence had not tainly is aware of the flies which are performing given us abundant warning to avoid them! Dr. minuets and reels between him and the ceiling. Howe, the wise and benevolent teacher of Laura As for his other senses, there never was any Bridgman, says in his Report on Idiocy in Mas- thing like his keenness of smell and taste. He sachusetts, that “the law against the marriage is ravenous for food—even already unpleasantly so; of relatives is made out as clearly as though it but excessively difficult to please. The terrible were written on tables of stone." He gives his thing is his still taking no notice. His mother reasons for saying so; and of those reasons, longs to feel the clasp of his arms round her neck; the following sample will, we think, be enough. but her fondlings receive no return. His arm When the tables of health and disease were com- hangs lax over her shoulder. She longs for a piled for Massachusetts, a few years ago, the fol-look from him, and lays him back on her lap, lowing was found to be the state of seventeen hoping that they may look into each other's eyes; families, where the father and mother were re- but he looks at nobody. All his life long nobody lated by blood. Some of the parents were un will ever meet his eyes; and neither in that way healthy, and some were intemperate—but to set nor any other way will his mind expressly meet against this disadvantage to begin with, there is that of any body else. When he does at length look at any thing, it is at his own hand. He, and refuse the term. She would point to the spreads the fingers, and holds up the hand close wonderful faculty her child had in some one direcbefore his face, and moves his head from side to tion, and admit no more than that he was “not side. At first, the mother and the rest laugh, I like other children.” Well, this is enough. She and call it a baby trick ; but after a time the need not be driven further. If her Harry is not laughter is rather forced, and they begin to wish like other children," that is enough for his own he would not do so. We once saw a child on her training, and that of the rest of the household. mother's lap laughing at the spinning of a half- A training it may be truly called for them all, crown on the table, when, in an instant, the from the father to the kitchen-maid. The house mother put the little creature down-almost that has an idiot in it can never be like any other. threw her down on the carpet, with an expres The discipline is very painful, but, when well sion of anguish in her face perfectly astonishing. conducted and borne, it is wonderfully beautiful. The child had chanced to hold up her open hand Harry spoils things, probably : cuts with scissors before her face in her merry fidget; and the whatever can be cut-the leaves of books, the mother, who had watched over an idiot brother daily newspaper, the new shirt his mother is from her youth up, could not bear that terrible making, the doll's arm, the rigging of the boat token, although in this case it was a mere acci- his brother has been fitting up for a week, the dent.

maid's cap ribbon, his father's silk purse. It The wearing uncertainty of many years suc- would be barbarous to take scissors from him, ceeds the infancy. The ignorant notions of and inconvenient too; for he spends hours in idiocy that prevailed before we knew even the cutting out the oddest and prettiest things little that we yet know of the brain, prevent the symmetrical figures, in paper; figures that seem parents recognizing the state of the case. The to be fetched out of the kaleidoscope. Lapfuls old legal accounts of idiocy, and the old supposi- of such shapes does he cut out in a week, wagtions of what it is, are very unlike what they see. ging his head, and seeming not to look at the The child ought not, according to legal definition, scissors; but never making a wrong snip. The to know his own name, but he certainly does; same orderliness of faculty seems to prevail for when his own plate or cup is declared to be throughout his life. He must do precisely the ready, he rushes to it. He ought not to be able, samo thing at precisely the same moment every by law, “to know letters ;" yet he can read, and day ; must have always the same chair, wailing even write, perhaps, although nobody can tell or pushing in great distress if any body else is how he learned, for he never seemed to attend using it; and must wear the same clothes, so when taught. It was just as if his fingers and that it is a serious trouble to get any new clothes tongue went of themselves, while his mind was put on. However carefully they may be changed in the moon. Again, the law declared any body while he is asleep, there is no getting him dressed an idiot " who could not count twenty pence;" in the morning without sad distress. One such whereas this boy seems, in some unaccountable Harry, whom we knew very well, had a present way, to know more about sums (of money and one day of a plaything most happily chosen—a of every thing else) than any body in the family. I pack of cards. There was symmetry in plenty ! He does not want to learn figures, his arithmetic When he first took them into his hands, they is strong without them, and always instantaneous | happened to be all properly sorted, except that ly ready. Of course we do not mean that every the court-cards were all in a batch at the top, idiot has these particular powers. Many can not and one other—the ten of spades—which had speak; more can not read. But almost every slipped out, and was put at the top of all. For one of the thousands of idiots in England has some all the rest of his life (he died at nineteen) the power that the legal definition declares him not to cards must be in that order and no other; and his have, and that popular prejudice will not believe. fingers quivered nervously with haste to put them Thus does the mother go on from year to year, in that order if they were disarranged. One day hardly admitting that her boy “is deficient," and while he was out walking, we took that top card quite sure that he is not an idiot—there being away and shuffled the rest. On his return, he some things in which he is so very clever ! went to work as usual. When he could not find

The great improvement in the treatment of the ten of spades, he turned his head about in idiots and lunatics since science began to throw the way which was his sign of distress, gave light on the separate organization of the human that most pathetic sort of sigh-that drawn-in, faculties, is one of the most striking instances in instead of breathed-out sigh, which is so comall human experience of the practical blessedness mon among his class and searched every where induced by knowledge. The public is already for the card. When obliged to give the matter familiar with the way in which, by beneficent up, he mournfully drew out the ten of clubs, and training, the apparent faculties of idiots are made made that do instead. We could hold out no to bring out the latent ones, and the strong powers longer, and gave him his card; and he seized to exercise the weaker, until the whole class are upon it as eagerly as any digger on any nugget, found to be capable of a cultivation never dreamed and chucked and chuckled, and wagged his head, of in the old days when the name Idiot swallowed and was perfectly happy. We once poured some up all the rights and all the chances of the unfor-comfits into his hand. They happened to be seven. tunate creature who was so described. In those At the same moment every day after, he would days the mother might well deny the description, hold out his hand, as if by mechanism, while his head was turned another way. We poured six / quest from motive, in this way Harry will be comfits into his palm. Still he did not look, but learning it from imitation. He will insist upon would not eat them, and was restless till we gave being properly washed and combed, and upon him one more. Next day, we gave him nine ; having no more than his plateful or his two and he would not touch them till he had thrust platesful—at dinner : and so on. The difficult back two upon us.

thing to manage at home is the occupation : and In all matters of number, quantity, order, and this is where lies the great superiority of schools punctuality, Harry must be humored. It is a or asylums for his class. His father may perharmless peculiarity, and there will be no peace haps get him taught basket-making, or spinning if he is crossed. If he insists upon laying his with a wheel, or cabinet-making, in a purely little brother's tricks only in rows, or only in mechanical way; but this is less easily done af diamonds or squares, he must be coaxed into home than in a school. Done it must be, in the another room, unless the little brother be capable one place or the other, if the sufferer and his of the self-denial of giving up the point and companions in life are to have any justice, and taking to some other play. It is often a hard any domestic leisure and comfort. The strong matter enough for the parents to do justice faculty of imitation usually existing among the among the little ones : but we can testify, be- class, seems (as we said just now, in reference cause we have seen, what wonders of magna- to the faculties of idiots in general) a sort of niity may be wrought among little children, miracle before the nature of the brain-organization servants, and every body, by fine sense, and sweet was truly conceived of. How many elderly and cheerful patience on the part of the govern- people now remember how aghast they were, as ing powers of the household. They may have children, at the story of the idiot youth, nat sudden occasion for patience on their own ac- being able to do without the mother, who had count too. Perhaps the father comes home very never left him while she lived: and how, when tired, needing his coffee. His coffee is made every body supposed him asleep, and the neighand ready. So they think : but lo! poor Harry, bors were themselves asleep, he went out and who has an irresistible propensity to pour into got the body, and set it up in the fireside chair, each other all things that can be poured, has and made a roaring fire, and heated some broth, turned the coffee into the brine that the hams and was found, restlessly moaning with distress, have just come out of; and then the brine and while trying to feed the corpse. And that other the coffee and the cream all back again into the story-a counterpart to which we know of our coffee-pot, and so on. Such things, happening own knowledge of the idiot boy who had lived every day, make a vast difference in the ease, close under a church steeple, and had always cheerfulness and economy of a household. They struck the hours with the clock; and who, when are, in truth, a most serious and unintermitting removed into the country, far away from church, trial. They make the discipline of the house clock, and watch, still went on striking the hold: and they indicate what must be the bless-hours, and quite correctly, without any visible ing of such institutions for the care and training means of knowing the time. What could we, of idiots as were celebrated in the paper we have in childhood, and the rest of the world, in the referred to.

| ignorance of that day, make of such facts, but As for the discipline of Harry himself, it must that they must be miraculous ? The most map be discipline; for every consideration of human- velous, to our mind, is a trait which, again, we ity, and, of course, of parental affection, points know of our own knowledge. An idiot, who out the sin of spoiling him. To humor, in the died many years ago at the age of thirty, lost sense of spoiling, an idiot, is to level him with his mother when he was under two years old. the brutes at once. One might as well do with His idiocy had been obvious from the earliest him what used to be done with such beings- time that it could be manifested ; and when the consign him to the sty, to sleep with the pigs, eldest sister took the mother's place, the child or chain him up like the dog—as indulge the appeared to find no difference. From the mode animal part of a being who does not possess the of feeling of the family, the mother was never faculties that counteract animality in other spoken of; and if she had been, such mention people. Most idiots have a remarkable tendency would have been nothing to the idiot son, who to imitation : and this is an admirable means of comprehended no conversation. He spent his domestic training—for both the defective child life in scribbling on the slate, and hopping round and the rest. The youngest will smother its the play-ground of the school kept by his sobs at the soap in its eye, if appealed to, to let brother-in-law, singing after his own fashion. poor Harry see how cheerfully every body ought He had one special piece of business besides, to be washed every morning. The youngest and one prodigious pleasure. The business was will take the hint not to ask for more pudding, -going daily, after breakfast, to speak to the because Harry must take what is given him, and birds in the wood behind the house; and the not see any body cry for more. Crying is con- supreme pleasure was turning the mangle. Most quered-self-conquered—throughout the house, of us would have reversed the business and because Harry imitates every thing; and it pleasure. When his last illness-consumption would be very sad if he got a habit of crying, -came upon him at the age of thirty, the sister because he could not be comforted like other had been long dead; and there were none of his people. As the other children learn self-con- own family, we believe, living; certainly none had for many years had any intercourse with him. / nations who believed that the gods dwelt in For some days before his death, when he ought them, more or less, and made oracles of themto have been in bed, nothing but a too distressing a perfectly natural belief in the case of beings force could keep him from going to the birds. who manifest a very few faculties in extraordinary On the last day, when his weakness was ex- perfection, in the apparent absence of all others. treme, he tried to rise, managed to sit up in Our business is, in the first place, to reduce the bed, and said he must go-the birds would won number of idiots to the utmost of our power, by der so! The brother-in-law offered to go and attending to the conditions of sound life and explain to the birds ; and this must perforce do. health, and especially by discountenancing, as a The dying man lay, with his eyes closed, and crime, the marriage of blood relations; and, in breathing his life away in slower and slower the next place, by trying to make the most and gasps, when he suddenly turned his head, looked the best of such faculties as these imperfect bright and sensible, and exclaimed in a tone | beings possess. It is not enough to repeat the never heard from him before, “Oh! my mother! | celebrated epitaph on an idiot, and to hope that how beautiful !” and sank round again—dead. his privations here will be made up to him here

There are not a few instances of that action of after. We must lessen those privations to the the brain at the moment before death by which utmost, by the careful application of science in long-buried impressions rise again like ghosts or understanding his case ; and of skill, and inexvisions; but we have known none so striking as haustible patience and love, in treating it. Hapthis, from the lapse of time, the peculiarity of pily, there are now institutions, by aiding which the case, and the unquestionable blank between any of us may do something toward raising the

There are flashes of faculty now and then in lowest, and blessing the most afflicted, members the midst of the twilight of idiot existence of our race. without waiting for the moment of death. One such, to the last degree impressive, is recorded

A SAINT'S BROTHER, by the late Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, in his ac- UE was the brother of a saint, and his friends count of the great Morayshire floods, about a 11 were rich; so they dressed him in his best, quarter of a century since. An innkeeper, who, and they put his turban on his head (for he was after a merry evening of dancing, turned out to of the old school), and they bore him to the tomb help his neighbors in the rising of the Spey, upon a bier, and coffinless, after the custom of carelessly got upon some planks which were the East. I joined the procession as it swept floated apart, and was carried down the streamchanting along the narrow street; and we all on one. He was driven against a tree, which he entered the illuminated church together. climbed, and his wife and neighbors saw him The Archbishop strode solemnly up the aisle, lodged in it before dark. As the floods rose, with the priests swinging censers before him, there began to be fears for the tree ; and the and with the ordor of sanctity exhaling from his shrill whistle which came from it, showed that splendid robes. On went the procession, making the man felt himself in danger, and wanted help. its way through a stand-up fight which was taking Every body concluded help to be out of the place in the church, on through weeping relatives, question, as no boats could get near; and they and sobered friends, till at last the Archbishop could only preach patience until morning, to the was seated on his throne, and the dead man lay poor wife, or until the flood should go down. before him stiff and stark. Then the same unctHour after hour the whistle grew wilder and uous individual whom I fancy I have observed shriller ; and at last it was almost continuous. taking a part in religious ceremonies all over the It suddenly ceased ; and those who could hardly world, being yet neither priest nor deacon, busbear it before, longed to hear it again. Dawn tles up, and he places some savory herbs on the showed that the tree was down. The body of breast of the corpse, chanting lustily as he does the innkeeper was found far away—with the so to save time. watch in his fob stopped at the hour that the Then the Archbishop takes two waxen tapers tree must have fallen. The event being talked in each hand; they are crossed and set in a over in the presence of the village idiot, he splendid hand-candlestick. He extends it toward laughed. Being noticed, he said he would have the crowd, and seems to bless it mutely, for he saved the man. Being humored, he showed does not speak. There is silence, only disturbed how a tub fastened to a long rope would have by a short sob which has broken from the overbeen floated, as the plank with the man on it burdened heart of the dead man's son. Hush' was floated, to the tree. If this poor creature it is the Archbishop giving out a psalm, and now had but spoken in time, his apparent inspiration it begins lowly, solemnly, mournfully: at first, would have gone some way to confirm the Scotch the lusty lungs of the burly priests seem to be superstition, which holds—with that of the uni-chanting a dirge ; all at once they are joined by versal ancient world of theology—that “Inno- the glad voices of children-oh! so clear and so cents are favorites of Heaven."

pure, sounding sweet and far-off, rejoicing for It is for us to act upon the medium view the bliss of the departed soul. sanctioned alike by science and morals-neither. They cease, and there comes a priest dressed to cast out our idiots, like the savages who leave in black robes ; he prostrates himself before the their helpless ones to perish; nor to worship throne of the Archbishop, and carries the dust them, as the pious Egyptians did, and other of the prelate's feet to his forehead. Then he



kisses the Archbishop's hand, and mounts the against the church wall. By-and-by this will pulpit to deliver a funeral oration. I am sorry for decay, and the bones which have swung about in this; he is evidently a beginner, and twice he the wind and rain will be shaken out one by one breaks down, and gasps hopelessly at the con- to make daylight ghastly where they lie. Years gregation; but the Archbishop prompts him and hence they may be swept into the charnel-house, gets him out of this difficulty. A rascally young or they may not, as chance directs. Greek at my elbow nudges me to laugh, but I I have said that he was the brother of a saint. pay no attention to him.

It is well, therefore, that I should also say someThen the priests begin to swing their censers thing of the saint himself. The saint was St again, and their deep voices mingle chanting | Theodore, one of the most recent martyrs of the with the fresh song of the children, and again Greek Church. St. Theodore was born about the Archbishop blesses the crowd. So now the fifty years ago, of very humble parents, who lived relatives of the dead man approach him one by at the village of Neo Chori, near Constantinople. one, crossing themselves devoutly. They take He was brought up to the trade of a house-painter, the nosegay of savory herbs from his breast, and an art of some pretension in Turkey, where it is they press it to their lips. Then they kiss the often carried to very great perfection. The lad dead man's forehead. When the son approaches, was clever, and soon attained such excellence in he sobs convulsively, and has afterward to be his craft that he was employed at the Palace of the removed by gentle force from the body.

Sultan. The splendor of the palace, and of the So the relatives continue kissing the body, gorgeous dresses of some of the Sultan's servants, fearless of contagion, and the chant of the priests fired his imagination. He desired to remain among and choristers swells through the church, and them ; so he changed his faith for that of Islam, there lies the dead man, with the sickly glare of and was immediately appointed to a petty post the lamps struggling with the daylight, and fall about the palace. ing with a ghastly gleam upon his upturned face. Three years after his apostasy and circumcisTwice I thought he moved, but it was only ion a great plague broke out at Constantinople, fancy.

sweeping away the Sultan's subjects by hundreds, The Archbishop has left the church, and the with short warning. The future saint grew relatives of the dead man are bearing him to his alarmed, a species of religious mania seized upon last home without further ceremony. It is a nar. him. He tried to escape from the palace, but was row vault just outside the church, and the Greeks brought back. At last, he got away, in the discourteously make way for me a stranger. A guise of a water-carrier, and fled to the island of man jumps briskly into the grave; it is scarcely Scio. three feet deep; be arranges a pillow for the Here he made the acquaintance of a priest, to head of the corpse, then he springs out again, whom he confided his intention of becoming a laughing at his own agility. The crowd laugh martyr. The priest is said warmly to have comtoo. Joy and grief elbow each other every where mended this view of the case ; for martyrs had in life : why not also at the gates of the tomb? | been lately growing scarce. Instead of convey

Then two stout men seize the corpse in their ing the young man, therefore, to a lunatic asylum, stalwart arms, and they lift it from the bier. he took him to the neighboring island of MityThey are lowering it now, quite dressed, but lene ; seeing, doubtless, sufficient reasons why coffinless, into the vault. They brush me as they the martyrdom should not take place at Scio; do so, and the daylight falls full on the face of where he might have been exposed to awkward the dead. It is very peaceful and composed, but remonstrances from his friends, for countenanlooking tired, weary of the world ; relieved that cing such a horror. the journey is over!

So the priest accompanied him to Mitylene, Stay ! for here comes a priest walking slowly where the first act of the tragedy commenced by from the church, with his mass-book and censer. the martyr presenting himself before the Cadi or He says a few more prayers over the body, and Turkish Judge. Before the Cadi he began to one of the deceased's kindred drops a stone into curse the Mussulman faith, and threw his turban the grave. While the priest prays, he pours at that magistrate's head. Taking from his some consecrated oil upon the body, and some bosom a green handkerchief, with which he had more upon a spadeful of earth which is brought been provided, he trampled it under foot; and to him. This is also thrown into the grave. It green is a sacred color with the Turks. The is not filled up; a stone is merely fastened with Cadi was desirous of getting rid of him quietly, clay roughly over the aperture, and at night there considering him as mad, as doubtless he was. will be a lamp placed there, which will be replen-But he continued cursing the Turks so bitterly, ished every night for a year. At the end of that that at last an angry mob of fanatics bore him time the body will be disinterred ; if the bones away to the Pasha. This functionary, a quiet, have not been thoroughly rotted away from the amiable man, tried also to get out of the disaflesh and separated, the Archbishop will be called greeable affair ; but the young man raved so again to pray over the body ; for there is a super-| violently that the Turks around began to beat stition among Greeks, that a man whose body him; and he was put into a sort of stocks till he does not decay within a year is accursed. When should be quiet. At last the Turks lost patience the bones have divided, they will be collected and with him, and his martyrdom began in earnest. tied up in a linen bag, which will hang on a nail He was subjected (say the Greek chronicles from

« 이전계속 »