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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

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This loyalty and devotion to those whom he loved made him a model husband and father. We may not draw aside the sacred veil which envelopes the home now so desolate, in the loss of its head and husband; but I am sure that all who knew our deceased friend well, will agree with me that in the tender care and eager solicitude of his loving heart no sacrifice was too great, no labor too arduous, which might help to preserve the life and health or advance the intellectual culture of that son, whom we recognize to-day as well worthy to maintain the honored name so long upborne in the medical profession on both sides of the Atlantic.


Often called to encounter severe and crushing disappointments, and, perhaps oftener still, in these later years, to suffer sharp physical pain, our dear friend has often excited our admiration by the calm philosophy with which he met the former, and the heroic fortitude with which he endured the latter. More than once have we seen his lips white with anguish, and the manifest tokens of physical suffering on face and brow, yet no moan, no word, no tell-tale gesture even, revealed his physical distress, and he discussed some philosophical topic as calmly as if he was perfectly at ease. Only repeated questioning brought at last the reluctant admission, that he was "somewhat ill."


In all the relations of life, he was ever self-sacrificing, generous, thoughtful of the wishes, and mindful of the interests and feelings of others, eminently loyal and true to those whom he loved, and courteous and considerate even to those who endeavored to injure him. And yet these lovable and gentle traits were combined with a lofty courage and a chivalric spirit, which would not tolerate or succumb to wrong-doing, even in the highest places of power. He was not a dough-face, not in any sense a weak or easily-moulded man; and these decided and positive traits in his character only made his gentleness the more admirable.


Intellectually, I think Dr. Seguin was underrated by the profession, and his casual acquaintances in literary circles. This was mainly due to his extreme modesty.


His mind was essentially philosophic in its character. He had, even in his earliest published writing's a marked tendency to grasp great principles, and develop them in all their bearings. His great discovery and unfolding, when but twenty-five years of age of the fundamental cause of idiocy, and of its proper mode of treatment, a discovery which had escaped the most astute intellects of the preceding centuries, is a case in point. Yet this discovery lay on his mind so perfectly formulated, that the terms in which it was stated in 1837 are the terms in use to-day. His subsequent extension of this idea to the instruction of the young generally, by "the physiological method," a work to the illustration of which he has devoted some of the best years of his life, seems to me the greatest discovery in the methods of education since the time of Aristotle, and, if given to the world, as he hoped to give it, will win for its author a far higher place than that occupied by Pestalozzi or the Moravian Bishop Comenius. Time would fail to allude to many other evidences of his remarkable powers as a thinker and educator; but these must suffice.


His scholarship was extensive, and in some directions profound. He was well up in the literature of most of the continental countries, as well as of that of Great Britain and the United States; in classical literature and the classics generally, he was thoroughly at home; in all art matters he was a connoisseur; he had made the subject of philanthropic enterprises a profound study, as is evident in his "Life of J. R. Pereire." He was greatly the superior, in genius and fertility of resource, of the founders of other charities, such as Huäy, De l'Epeé, Sicard and Braidwood, and in the work to which he devoted his life, lived to see greater suits than any of them. He had won distinction also, in early life, as a poet, and a writer of more ephemeral, but graceful literature. His style in French is admirable, classic, and polished; never turgid or diffuse. Although he wrote much in English, in later life, it was almost to him, in some sense, a foreign language, and he could never quite overcome those French idioms, which marred the elegance, though they did not impair the ability of his writings.


But we must close. Philosopher, scholar, philanthropist, and, above all, loving friend and brother, as we look for the last time on that noble face, now still in death, with the blinding tears chasing each other down our cheeks, we bid thee hail and farewell!




After the eloquent and just tribute to the departed now made by Dr. Wilbur and Dr. Brockett, it would seem proper that I shall be excused at this time from any extended remarks, but my heart incites me to add, in this impromptu manner, my expressions of personal respect always for more than twenty-five years entertained toward Dr. Seguin.

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