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Eighteenth Annual Report Of The Trustees Of The Perkins Institution And Massachusetts Asylum For The Blind

Creator: Samuel Gridley Howe (author)
Date: 1850
Source: Perkins School for the Blind

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She knows the cost of rich shawls and fine lace, of precious stones, and jewelry, and furniture; but no display of them ever seems to affect her appreciation of the owner's worth. As yet, she has escaped the disturbing influence which wealth, and other hollow and factitious distinctions among persons, have upon the opinion and esteem in which they are held. She is no respecter of things artificial or superficial. The absence or presence of "the guinea's stamp" alters not, in her mind, the value of the metal that is in the man. No display of wealth or luxury can dazzle her, though it may be perceived by her. Even beauty of person or sweetness of voice fails to affect her. The seductions of the smile and of the eye charm not her judgment into sleep. The speaker must drop, before her, the masquerade of soft smiles and sweet tones, which impose upon others, and his words have weight only according to their real worth. They must be signs of feelings and deeds, and if they tally not in every particular with the things they represent, they are thrown aside as counterfeit and worthless coin.


She meets the Governor of the State as quietly as she does the most ordinary person; and she would meet the Queen of England just as quietly, though she might perhaps raise a curious hand to feel if she wore her crown. True, she is fond of being neatly dressed herself, as has been said, and she is curious to know all about the newest fashions. She would, if permitted, examine with eager fingers the new articles of dress upon a fashionable lady, fresh from Paris; but her admiration of their qualities would not be transferred to the wearer, any more than it would to the padded figure that turns round and round in a shop-window. Nevertheless, she has an appreciation of the value of the comforts and refinements of life, and of the importance of having the means to secure the enjoyment of them. Her father is a respectable farmer, and a man of some worldly inheritance, and he would gladly give her the shelter of his home for life. She loves her parents and her brothers, but she could not find in their remote village the means of continual culture and improvement, which are to her the bread of life, and the appetite for which grows by what it feeds upon. She desires to possess what she knows to be the key to many of the pleasures and advantages of life, -- to wit, money, -- and is beginning to gather it together in her small way. She works constantly, making bags, purses, &c., which are sold, and the profits paid to her. It is evident, however, that she cannot earn enough, by ever so diligent use of her fingers, to give her a competence. Other means she has none, though she sometimes, with pleasing simplicity, says she has. In a late conversation with Miss Bremer, Laura asked her, with perfect simplicity, whether she found that writing books "paid well." "Pretty well," was the reply. Upon which Laura eagerly rejoined, "Do you think, if I should write a book, it would pay well?"


Perhaps, by a little effort on the part of her friends, money enough might be raised to buy for her a life-annuity, which would place her beyond the reach of pecuniary want, and secure to her the attendance and companionship of some young lady, who could be to her what Miss Wight has so long been. Laura will do what she can, diligently and cheerfully, to perform those duties and labors of life, of which every conscientious person should discharge his proper share. She asks no one to do for her what she can do for herself. She wishes no one to be her menial or servant. She has already done some service in her day and generation, by setting forth in her deportment, under her sore afflictions, the native dignity of the human character. She has shown in what degree the spirit is dependent upon the senses for its manifestation and enjoyment. She has shown how little the factitious and arbitrary distinctions of life are necessary to happiness. She is, however, utterly dependent upon human sympathy and aid for the continuance of her happiness, and even of her life. She can appeal only as she has done, by the mute exhibition of her helplessness, for that sympathy and aid. Hitherto it has been proffered with eagerness and in abundance. May it never be withheld; may an hour of need never come to her; but may new friends be raised up to her, when those who now watch over her with the tender solicitude of parents can watch over and comfort her no longer upon earth!


Respectfully submitted,



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