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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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For four or five years past he has interested himself greatly in the universal introduction of the metric system into medical practice as a means of inducing greater uniformity of practice, more intelligible hospital reports, and a greater measure of success, and has crossed the Atlantic three or four times as a delegate from the American Medical Association to the International Medical Congress, and as an officer of the latter. He had this object much at heart, as a means of alleviating human suffering by a more full, careful, and uniform registry of symptoms and cases all over Christendom; and, as in all his philanthropical enterprises he performed all its duties and journeyings at his own expense. He had also plead most pathetically for an extension of the Kindergarten system to open-air schools in our parks during the favorable season. But the ruling principle was strong to the last.


One of his latest publications, which has been widely circulated in England and France as well as in this country, was his illustrated pamphlet entitled, "Psycho-Physiological Training of an Idiotic Hand and of an Idiotic Eye," a report of a deeply interesting case which had been under his training for several years, and his most recent act in this connection was the establishment, under the joint supervision of Mrs. Seguin and himself, of a physiological day training school in New York City for feeble-minded children and their nurses and teachers. This was just beginning to prove a success when he was called away. He was not yet sixty-nine years of age, and we had fondly hoped that there was yet a long period of usefulness before him, but it was not to be. While apparently in his usual health, a sudden cold brought on dysenteric symptoms, accompanied with extreme exhaustion, and he died after thirteen days' illness.


Dr. Seguin had been twice married; by his first marriage he had one son, Dr. Edward C. Seguin. His second wife survives him and will continue his work. Leaving to others, to whom it more appropriately belongs, the sad but loyal duty of giving expression to their admiration of his work as a teacher, philanthropist, and philosopher, it only remains for me, who had known him most intimately in the beauty of his private and social life, and his wide intellectual culture, to speak briefly of these topics, and especially of those traits which endeared him so greatly to his friends and bound him to them "as with hooks of steel."


His philanthropy was genuine and pervaded his whole nature. He loved his fellow-men intensely, because he saw through all their misfortunes, their weakness, deformities, and disabilities, the capacity for a higher and better life than they were then leading, and he desired to help them to attain to it. There was nothing morbid, nothing sour, nothing selfish, in his philanthropy, as there is in so much of what passes under that name.


He was a man of indomitable patience and forbearance. The blunders, the follies, even the malice of those whom he sought to help, never moved or discouraged him. No impatient word, no complaint ever escaped his lips, at any wrong done to him. The nearest approach to it, and that very rarely, and under the strongest provocation, was that slight shrug of the shoulders, so characteristic of his nationality.


He was always and under all circumstances a gentleman, courteous, manly, and brave; yet gentle and tender as a woman. Like his countryman, the Chevalier Bayard, he was a knight, sans peur et sans reproche. His private life was pure, and without spot or blemish. No public man of our century has maintained a more spotless reputation.


The unselfishness of the man was one of the most remarkable traits of his character. He was the most truly generous man it was ever my good fortune to know, and his generosity was not the lavish expenditure of the careless spendthrift, who flings away his money when he has it, and grumbles when it is gone; on the contrary, it was deliberate, calculated, and often involved serious personal sacrifice of comfort and convenience, which he gladly suffered, if, thereby, he could make any one whom he loved, happier, or give them an additional hour of enjoyment. For himself, his personal wants were few and easily satisfied; but for his friends or his work, nothing was too liberal which might give others pleasure, and delight his own aesthetic taste, in their surprise and admiration.


These gifts were not bestowed, as a rule, upon those who were able to return them in kind; indeed, nothing distressed him so much as to have gifts of value sent him in return; very often, they were bestowed upon the humble and lowly, in whose minds he desired to cultivate the love of the beautiful.


No man could have been more loyal to his friends, than was he. His friendships were not lightly formed; and though sometimes he might have been deceived in regard to the fidelity and loyalty of those whom he had taken to his heart, no one who had enjoyed his friendship was ever deceived in him. His fidelity and courage in defending those whom he loved against all assaults, was an exemplification of his loyal manliness. When he was assailed or abused personally (and there were few so base as to attempt that), he bore it patiently; but let any one assail a dear friend of his and it aroused all the combativeness of his nature. He was always solicitous for the comfort and welfare of his friends, never careful of his own. The most appropriate and truthful inscription on his monument would be, "He loved others better than himself."

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