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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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Her pleasures are of the simplest kind, and taken regularly, and therefore never pall upon the sense. She has not any of that moral intemperance which so often destroys happiness, -- the thirst for excitement, the wish for pressing the joys of years into one day, and drinking the whole at a draught, leaving the lees of satiety, perhaps of repentance and sorrow, as the portion of the future. A gleam of sunshine upon her face, a warm south wind, the soft grass under her feet, a growing plant, or an opening flower, -- any of these things awaken a feeling of pleasure, and often lead her thoughts up to Him who created them. Her lessons afford her continual pleasure. The simple portions of knowledge, -- her mind's daily bread, are earned by labor, which gives a relish to the homeliest morsel of truth.


Then there are her pure affections, still more abundant springs of enjoyment, from which the deepest draught can produce no moral intoxication. She loves her friends tenderly and indulgently. She never forgets them, but speaks of those whom she has not met for years with earnest interest. To their virtues and praises she is ever sensible; to their faults and their detractions she is indeed blind and deaf. Few persons are less exacting in their requirements and less censorious in their judgment respecting their friends and acquaintance, than she is. Indeed I do not recollect ever hearing her speak censoriously or unkindly of any person. Miss Wight mentions in her journal, that Laura has occasionally spoken of the faults of some of her friends with sorrow, but not in a detracting spirit.


Miss Wight, in her journal, observes, very properly, that


"There is one thing that seems worthy of remark about Laura, the affection which every body has for her here in the house, where the novelty has worn off, and where, from her love of conversation, she sometimes taxes severely the time and patience of her favorites. But every body loves her. As Sophia said yesterday, 'She is so good they can't help it.' And she is good to every one, -- and whoever comes here, be it Mrs. G ---, or the F. ---s, or S--- B---, she exerts herself to her utmost to make them happy. Sometimes a dozen little girls will crowd round her while she is writing, shaking the table, and pushing her arm, and interrupting her to try their powers of saying a few words with their fingers, all of which she will bear patiently, and is always glad when they come to see her."


It is most remarkable that she has not become very selfish, and inconsiderate of others, because she has necessarily been in the less blessed situation of receiver, and seldom in that of giver, of favors and kindnesses. This will often cause the seeds of many virtues to perish in the young mind. But though Laura may have suffered from this cause, she has not become selfish or inconsiderate of others. In the words of Miss Wight, "she is never as happy as when she is able to do something for the comfort and happiness of others, more especially if they are sick and suffering." Perhaps this is a strong expression, but if it cannot be taken in a literal sense, I, and many others, can testify to the readiness and eagerness with which Laura attempts to show her sympathy with any suffering, and to do something to lessen it.


It has ever been a subject of anxiety with me to have her furnished with opportunities of exercising these virtuous dispositions in the various offices of charity and love, knowing well that they need exercise, just as much as do the mental faculties. A man may as well expect that he can come to understand the Mécanique Céleste without early exercise of his mathematical powers, as expect to comprehend fully the Sermon on the Mount without previous training of his feelings of charity and love by actual exercise of them.


He who should propose to become a great mathematician by beginning his studies after his life is almost spent, would be called mad; but he who proposes to spend threes core years in the pursuit of mere pleasure or fortune, and then begin the practice of virtue, so as to die a saintly Christian at threescore and ten, finds so many to keep him company that his sanity is not doubted.


Laura's sympathy is ever ready to flow for those who are afflicted. She lately wrote, of her own accord, the following letter to a lady who had lost an only child.


"Sept. 28, 1849.




"I was very much surprised to hear of the decease of your darling, last Tuesday. I hoped that she would recover very soon. I trust that your little Mary is much happier at her new home than she was on the earth. I am very positive God, and his beloved Son Christ, will educate your child much better than men could in this world. I can scarcely realize that the school is so excessively beautiful in heaven. I can sympathize with you in your great affliction. I cannot help thinking of your trouble and little Mary's illness. I know very certainly that God will promote her happiness for ever. I loved her very dearly, as if she were my own daughter. I shall miss her very much every time I come to see you. I send my best love to you and a kiss. I am very sad for you. Yours, &c. L. B."

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