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Life Of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet
To Mr. Gallaudet, and as he says, to some of his advisers, the contract with Mr. Braidwood seemed as one without legal force, and this view he did not hesitate to express openly. But when the incidents of his experience in Edinburgh were made, somewhat later, the subject of comment in the public journals, he was virulently assailed, accused of the "sin of violating the obligations of gratitude and truth," charged with "obtuseness of understanding" and a "defective moral system," all because he had ventured to characterize the Braidwood bond as an illicitum pactum.
While remaining in Edinburgh Mr. Gallaudet received an interesting letter from his far off pupil, Alice Cogswell, which will be read with interest as showing the progress she was making under the instructions of Miss Huntley -Mrs. L. H. Sigourney-.
HARTFORD, Wednesday, October 11, 1815.
MY DEAR SIR: -- I remember story Miss Huntley was tell me. Old many years Mr. Colt little boy Name man Peter Colt very much curls little boy hair Oh! very beautiful mama lap little boy comb curl love to see O beautiful. Morning long man preacher coat black come bow ask mama give little boy hair make wigs very beautiful preacher give, mama no preacher yes oh yes talk long man say come back little boy scissors cut hair white hair curls all in heap make wig preacher am very much glad proud little -- little boy head very cold mama tie handkerchief warm, tears no more mama very sorry. I hope my hair never cut make wigs -- This morning study all in school away Geography all beautiful a school all very beautiful very still very good noise no -- the Play no, Miss Huntley work and two go Norwich all school come not -- me very sorry come back little while -- O all very glad, -- O beautiful -- I love you very much --
In a letter from Dr. Cogswell, of the same date, Alice's letter is explained as follows: --
As soon as I knew of Mr. Upson's sailing I proposed to Alice to write you by him. She readily consented, but said she was at a loss what to write. I told her to write the story Miss Huntley related to her from Mr. Colt -- the circumstances I will relate, that you may the better understand it: Mr. Peter Colt, from Patterson, was lately here on a visit; he told her -Miss Huntley- what happened to him, when he was a little boy. It seems he had a very thick head of white curled hair; a clergyman who was visiting his mamma, took a fancy to it, for the purpose of making himself a wig; his mamma, at first, refused, but after a little urging, talk long, as Alice calls it, she consented, and the hair was cut off and the wig made. You will observe that the conversation between his mamma and the preacher is somewhat in the form of a dialogue. You know so much of her manner, that I believe you will understand it. Miss Huntley communicated the story to her by signs. Miss Huntley, as, you will perceive by Alice's letter, is at Norwich, on a visit. The letter is all her own, without any assistance or correction. With every wish for your success and happiness,
I am affectionately yours,
MR. T. H. GALLAUDET.
Mr. Gallaudet remained in Edinburgh until toward the close of the winter, making good use of his time, as may be understood from his letters, although he failed to accomplish the special object of his visit. The memoranda found in his notebooks show him to have been indefatigable in his endeavors to improve himself in every possible way. He made many acquaintances among the cultivated people of Scotland -- visiting Dugald Stewart at his home near Edinburgh, and Thomas Chalmers at Glasgow -- both of whom, as well as Mrs. Stewart, became his warm friends, Dr. Chalmers sustaining a voluminous correspondence with him after his return to America.
Mr. Gallaudet during his stay in Edinburgh wrote a letter to Dugald Stewart, describing the case of Julia Brace, a blind deaf-mute whom he had visited before leaving America. Some extracts from this letter will be of interest, particularly in view of the fact that the teaching of this child antedated by several years the education of Dr. Howe's more distinguished deaf and blind pupil, Laura Bridgman.
Mr. Gallaudet says, under date of September 26, 1815:
When about four years and a half old, this little girl was afflicted with a violent fever of long continuance, on her recovery from which it was found that she was entirely blind and deaf. She had before this enjoyed the use of all her senses in perfection. .... For a short time after her loss of sight and hearing she retained the use of speech, which she employed to make her wants known to those around her. But in this she soon became imperfect and incoherent. Still she would delight to repeat in their order the little lessons of words she had before learned in her spelling book, and what was most distressing to hear, to pour forth, occasionally, an incessant volley of oaths and imprecations, which were, no doubt, first taught her by the force of a pernicious example, and now furnished by memory on every occasion of perturbation or anger; for at this time she was the victim of a temper so furious and ungovernable, that nothing short of absolute confinement could restrain it; and this, as the mother acknowledged, was unfortunately too seldom employed. Her circle of words daily contracted within narrower and narrower limits, so that when I saw her she uttered nothing more during the space of a few hours than two or three inarticulate sounds which seemed to be the result of some emotions, though they were entirely unintelligible. And these imperfect remains of speech must soon be lost, so that she will in a little while be as absolutely dumb as she is now deaf and blind. Her senses of touch and smell have been gradually growing more acute and discriminating. She could go to any part of the house without assistance, and even into the yard, which she sometimes did with a basket for the purpose of gathering chips...