Library Collections: Document: Full Text

In Memory Of Edouard Seguin, M.D.

Creator: n/a
Date: 1880
Publication: Proceedings of the Association of Medical Officers of American Institutions for Idiotic and Feeble-Minded Persons
Source: Available at selected libraries
Figures From This Artifact: Figure 1

Previous Page   Next Page   All Pages 

Page 2:


Of the whole number, we believe, only Louis Blanc and Victor Hugo now remain. The others have mingled largely in political life, and some of them have achieved a great reputation in literature; but none have adhered, with so steady a purpose, to the object they had made the work of their lives, as the brilliant, refined and accomplished young physician who was, at that time, endeavoring to rescue from their filth and degradation the idiot children of the Hospice des Incurables and the Hospice de Bicêtre. After seven years of this patient work, and the publication of two or three pamphlets on the subject, a commission from the Academy of Sciences of Paris, consisting of Messrs. Serres, Flourens and Pariset in 1844, examined, critically and thoroughly, his method of training and educating idiot children, and reported to the Academy, giving it the highest commendation and declaring that up to the time when he commenced his labors (1837) idiots could not be educated or cured by any means previously known or practised, but that he had solved the problem. His work thus approved by the highest scientific authority, Dr. Seguin continued his philanthropic labors in Paris for some years, his school being almost constantly visited by teachers and philanthropists of his own and other nations, and his methods bearing the test of experience, schools for idiots were established very soon, based upon these methods, in England and several countries of the continent. To aid in this good work he prepared and published in 1846 his great treatise, Traitement Moral, Hygiène, et Education des Idiots, et des autres Enfants arrièrés, which was crowned by the Academy, and which has continued to be the standard text-book for all interested in the education of idiots to the present time.


Most of his abundant literary labor during the period between 1839 and 1849 was designed directly or indirectly to benefit his helpless clients, the idiotic children. In 1850, finding that the Prince President with whom in his humble days he had been associated in republican enterprises, which as Louis Napoleon he now found it convenient to persecute, was bitterly hostile to the friends and associates of his youth Dr. Seguin came to the United States, visited and aided by his suggestions in the more complete organization of the School for Idiotic Children in South Boston, the Institution for Feeble-Minded Youth at Barre, Mass. and the Experimental School then just being established by Dr. Wilbur at Albany, all of which owed their existence, wholly or in part, either to his school at the Hospice des Incurables, or to his treatise, or both.


In 1851 he went to Cleveland, Ohio, where he entered upon the general practice of his profession, for which he was eminently qualified. But his heart was too deeply interested for his helpless and unfortunate protégés to permit him to rest without constant and earnest effort for their rescue; and from 1854 to 1857 we find him at the Syracuse Institution, aiding Dr. Wilbur in teaching and training idiotic children, assisting in the establishment of new institutions in Connecticut, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and for a time at the head of the latter institution. In 1857 he revisited France, but soon returned to this country. In 1860 he settled again in the practice of his profession at Mount Vernon, N. Y., from whence he removed to New York. His thorough knowledge and rare skill in his profession, coupled with his pleasant and engaging address, would soon have won for him a large practice either in city or country, but his heart still plead so loudly for the idiot children that he could not give them up. He endeavored to improve the condition of the neglected children of the Idiot Asylum at Randall's Island, and to train teachers for them, visited and noted every step of progress in the various institutions for idiots in the United States, and was constantly in correspondence with European institutions. Meanwhile he had been studying the wider application of his "Physiological Method" to the education of children in general. This was foreshadowed in his able and valuable treatise on "Idiocy and its Treatment by the Physiological Method," New York, 1866, a work which all teachers would do well to study; and in his later publications which, though sometimes on professional topics, yet show conclusively the bent of his intellect toward the favorite topic of education.


Among his later works are: "Idiocy, its Diagnosis and Treatment by the Physiological Method," read before the New York State Medical Society in 1864; "New Facts and Remarks Concerning Idiocy" (1869); "Wunderlich's Medical Thermometry, with large additions," in 1871, followed by "Family Thermometry, a Manual of Thermometry" in 1873, and a large and admirable treatise on "Medical Thermometry and Human Temperature" in 1876. In connection with this subject it should be stated that in 1871 Dr. Seguin invented a medical, or, as he called it, physiological thermometer, making his zero at the normal temperature of health, which deserves to be substituted for the Fahrenheit or Centigrade in every physician's pocket-case, and in the hands of every mother and nurse. Still later came his report as special educational commissioner to the Vienna Exposition, mainly on crèches infant asylums, institutions for deaf-mutes, the blind, idiots and imbeciles, and homes for the aged and infirm in all parts of Europe. This report is one of the ablest and most searching documents in regard to these institutions ever published; a new edition has been called for and published recently at Milwaukee. Its only defect is that the doctor's English is somewhat obscured by French idioms. His French is always admirable.

Previous Page   Next Page

Pages:  1  2  3  4  5  6    All Pages