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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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He was my early teacher, through his book upon the education of idiots, and he was my personal and dear friend, whose counsel it was my happiness on many occasions to follow to good issues, and as I stand here in the presence of this inanimate body, I do not feel that he has ceased to be my monitor and my influencer, but by his precepts and teachings I shall always, while reason is mine, have a steady and strong inspiration for my chosen work of educating the unfortunate class of feeble-minded youths.


His friendship and I am sure his love were freely shown toward myself and mine, creating an enthusiasm in me to strive and to attain success in our Institution.


His piquant sayings shadowing the deepest philosophical principles; his pleasant, polite manners showing his love of imparting knowledge to any and all the race; his generosity of nature, and his love of the right always, and his detestation of the wrong; his exquisite taste for the refinements of life in the arts, and the unravelling of the sciences in their abstract and obscure elements, -- all these are qualities and reasons why I should say to-day and here that I loved him -- shall sadly miss him hereafter. He could and did show the relation of one methodical thought and movement with another, thus leading to permanence in education.


He showed that all intellectual progress is the gradual unfolding of all the powers of the mind, whatever those powers may be, whether central or peripheral, forming an original and perfect union.


Dr. Seguin, in the strictest sense, was a gentleman of self-control, and deepest and joyful enthusiasm fed by great principles and profound meditation, even as the deepest green of the leaf and the stateliest growth of the trunk grow up from roots that shoot far down into a strong black mould of earth. And although he may now have ceased to address us more in vocal tones, his influence for the good of the unfortunate and dependent ones will never cease to remotest time.


Dr. Brockett, of Brooklyn, the author of the biographical sketch I have just heard, was the warm personal friend of Dr. Seguin for nearly a third of a century, and he has here briefly and tersely set forth the life-work and character-traits of his friend.


Dr. Sequin did not willingly leave his native country. Politically associated with the leading radicals of his day he would have suffered their lot of expatriation if he had remained till the bursting of the storm that swept so many into exile. He left his beloved France with regret, with a mental protest against the political tendencies of the time, but with the hope that he might find a field of usefulness in our country. He came at an opportune moment, for he had a mission to fulfil of which he knew not.


And he is not the only political foreign exile who, landing on the shores of the New World, has found a field ready for the reaper.


Thus we see that seeming misfortunes are often only blessings in disguise.


Dr. Brockett has shown us how he was instrumental in establishing schools for idiots in various parts of our country, which are living, working monuments of his life-long-labors. All of these here and all of those in the old country had their origin directly or indirectly in the labors of Dr. Seguin in teaching idiot children in the Hospice des Incurables in Paris. The founder and father of this great philanthropic movement lies here dead, but his works live after him. For these beneficent institutions must necessarily multiply in proportion to our growth in population, and each new one will attest the value of his labors.


Much has been accomplished in this direction in our country in the last twenty years, and greater things will be done in the next fifty.


Without Seguin this great monument could not have been. Without Seguin thousands of children would to-day be drivelling idiots, who are now, thanks to his modest labors in the Hospice des Incurables raised in intellectual status and made happy in their institutional life.




I have not known Dr. Seguin as long as some of you, but I have known him long enough to learn his noble traits of character; long enough to love him as well as any of you do, and to mourn him as sincerely.


In 1876 he singled me out to aid him abroad in his work of uniformity in medicine, in the metric system, in thermometry, etc. I told him I was not the man he wanted. But he insisted that I was, and would not let me off. He was so modest, so diffident of his own powers that I came in to supplement his labors by bringing such men to his assistance as he would designate to me. I was simply his servant to do his bidding, and I was never happier than in serving him. But I could have been of no use to him if his views had not commanded the attention and convinced the judgment of those whom he wished as coadjutors.


The metric system and uniformity in thermometry will some day be universally adopted by the profession, and this desired result will be due to the labors of Seguin.

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