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“It was observed in the learned Mons. Sauvage's Nos. Meth., that the pulsations of the optic artery might be perceived by looking attentively on a white wall well illuminated ; a kind of net-work, darker than the other parts of the wall, appears and vanishes alternately with every pulsation. This change of the colour of the wall he well ascribes to the compression of the retina by the diastole of the artery. The various colours produced in the eye by the pressure of the finger, or by a stroke on it, as mentioned by Sir Isaac Newton, seem likewise to originate from the unequal pressure on various parts of the retina.”
May it not be inferred from this and analogous facts adduced by Sir David Brewster, Dr. Hibbert, and others, that what has hitherto been considered the mind's eye is really the body's eye, and that some (at least) of our thoughts may be excited by reiterations of the adjustments strongly formed during previous sensations ?-and if this be so, it may be worth the consideration of those who engage in plans of practical education, whether more may not be permanently fixed in the mind by welldevised exercises of the adjustments of the organs of sense, than by confining the attention of their pupils to loading their memory with mere wordsnot always well defined, or susceptible of being clearly understood, even by themselves. In training
for the arts of life, an opposite course is invariably followed ; and no one is so absurd as to suppose that the seaman or the soldier, the sculptor, the musician, or the manufacturer could be formed by merely verbal instruction, however clearly or frequently repeated ; yet it is by words alone that instruction is given to the youth who may be called on to officiate in our temples, or to bear his part in the councils of his country. It is at his play, and only during his play, that his hand and his eye and his ear have opportunities afforded them of working in concurrence with his mind. It was not by such a course of training that a Michael Angelo or a Galileo were trained to excel all who had existed before them-nor, in our own time, a Franklin, a Hunter, a Herschell, a Davy, a Bell, or a Watt.
Whenever a stranger was spoken of to the late Dr. Wollaston as a man noticed for his intelligence, his invariable question was, “Has he hands*?"
* “ The impact of a cube against the hand of a child who has never yet seen his hand, and the impact of a cube against the coat of the stomach, seem equally incapable of giving any notion of magnitude or figure; and the superiority of the hand above other parts of the body in suggesting these notions is owing entirely to the more numerous visual ideas which our habits have connected with it. The hand is indeed the most convenient organ of touch; but if, from accident, other parts of the body are much exercised in its stead, we
Most impartial and competent judges of the proficiency of children under different plans of instruction have assured me, that the blind, who acquire a knowledge of words by their fingers alone, learn quicker and are more retentive of what they have learned than those who learn by the eye; and what I myself have been told and have seen in asylums for the blind, in Glasgow, Liverpool, and London, has satisfied me, that this estimate of difference has not been exaggerated. In the asylum for the blind at Glasgow there is a young woman, perfectly formed and intelligent, but both blind and deaf. She read with her fingers, and then wrote what she had read as quickly, correctly, and legibly as any person her age and station would have done with the most perfect sight. She was in frequent correpondence with a distant friend, equally blind with herself, and their thoughts were conveyed to each other, not by writing, which other persons might have read, but by knots made of twine; and these cumbrous and seemingly-intricate letters, I was
find that they acquire much of that delicacy of touch which is usually peculiar to the hand.”—(From a paper by Mr. Wedgwood, already quoted.)-Yet the born blind, who consequently never can have seen their hands, soon learn to judge of form and distance, and, as Laura Bridgman, to substitute the hand for the other organs of sense, which are in her all defective.
told, sometimes form a parcel of considerable bulk. It is an interesting fact in the history of mind, that two young women, to whom the method of recording events said to be in use among the North American Indians was not likely to have been known, should have been prompted, merely by the natural desire of confining their thoughts to their own bosoms, to have hit upon this very identical expedient.
There still remain many curious peculiarities in the mental state of the Deaf and the Blind unnoticed in these pages. But I forbear to extend my observations on them here, as they might not appear attractive to any, but the few, to whom researches into the operations of our minds are familiar, and who might feel an interest in tracing the physiological part of the process by which our thoughts are formed.
W. B. BRODIE AND CO., CANAL.