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leading to a suspicion of the truth, and finally the travellers entered a forest beyond Knaresborough, where there was as yet no turnpike. Evening came on, and by asking his companion if he saw lights in particular directions, Metcalf brought the journey to a safe close, though in those days a man with all his eyes about him might well have strayed from the path. On landing at the Granby Inn, the two travellers took some warm liquor, after which Metcalf retired. Having noticed some difficulty on the part of his companion in lifting the glass, the gentleman remarked to the landlord that his guide had surely taken drink since his arrival. 'I judge so,' added he, from the appearance of his eyes.' 'Eyes ! bless you, sir, don't you know that he is blind ?'
'Blind!' cried the traveller ; 'surely that cannot be ; he acted as my guide.
'I can assure you, sir, he is as blind as a stone; but you shall judge for yourself.
Metcalf was called in, and his late companion, yet trembling with agitation, exclaimed : ‘Had I known your condition, sir, I would not have ventured with you for a hundred pounds !'
' And I, said Metcalf, 'would not have lost my way for a thousand !'
The nicety of touch which Metcalf had acquired was very wonderful. He could play at cards with no other guide ; and when persons were by on whom he could depend, he frequently played for serious stakes, and won through the advantage of his uncommon memory. Even when no friend was near him, it would have been very difficult for an opponent to have taken unfair advantage, such was his acuteness of ear and powers of observation. One occasion is mentioned where he won eighteen guineas from strangers at cards.
In the summer of 1788, Mr Metcalf lost his wife, who had brought him four children. He had before this realised a handsome sum by his road and bridge contracts, but he lost considerably in his old days by some cotton speculations into which he was led by his enterprising spirit. In 1792, he gave up his extensive engagements, and settled at Spotsforth, near Wetherby, in his native county. Here, having retained as much of his fortune as to secure a comfortable independence, he spent his latter days in happy ease in the bosom of his family. He died in the year 1802.
Of the attainment of skill in the arts by the blind, we have perhaps a still more remarkable case in that of the late Mr Strong of Carlisle. Although blind from birth, he acquired a thorough knowledge of diaper weaving, and was an adept in various mechanical arts; among other things, he constructed many articles of household furniture, and the model of a loom with a figure working it. The following anecdote is related of him while a boy of fifteen years of age. He concealed himself one afternoon in the cathedral during the time of service; after the congregation was gone and the doors shut, he got into the organ-loft, and examined every part of the instrument. This had engaged his attention till about midnight, when, having satisfied himself respecting the general construction, he proceeded to try the tones of the different stops, and the proportion they bore to each other : this experiment was not to be conducted in so silent a manner. In short, the noise alarmed the neighbourhood, and some people went to see what was the matter, when Joseph was found playing the organ. The next day, he was taken before the dean, who, after reprimanding him for the step he had taken in order to gratify his curiosity, gave him leave to play it whenever he pleased. In consequence of this, he set about making a chamber organ, which he completed without the assistance of anybody. He sold this instrument to a mechanic in the Isle of Man. Soon after this he made another, on which he played both for amusement and devotion.
In Scotland some interesting cases of blind persons arriving at dexterity in the arts could be produced. We have seen many figures of fair proportions and of delicate finish come from the hand of a blind man-his only instruments being the blades of a common pocketknife. The daily work of another whom we knew was the fashioning of ornamental spoons, paper-folders, and the like, by which he gained for himself a more than comfortable livelihood. We believe the Laurencekirk snuff-boxes were originally executed by a blind man, and certainly nothing could surpass them for accuracy of form and beauty of finish. What is more wonderful, there resided in a country town in Scotland, some years ago, a blind person who followed the profession of an optician. This respectable individual grinded and polished lenses of all shapes with the most perfect accuracy, and fitted them to the exact focal distances with an aptitude which could not be surpassed by any one possessing the most perfect vision. That a person altogether blind was thus able to supply a customer with exactly the kind of spectacles he required, is surely a fine instance of the compensatory powers in the human faculties and energies. The ingenious individual to whom we refer possessed a touch so delicate that he could detect not only the most minute flaw on the surface of a lens, but could tell where the form departed in the least from the required convexity or concavity. We have likewise heard it mentioned that he could by feeling distinguish decided colours in cloth, such as black, red, green, or blue, from others of a fainter tint.
There are, we believe, few districts in England and Scotland which have not produced proficients on the violin who were blind; and in a like manner Ireland can shew its illustrious catalogue of blind performers on the national harp. Among the most remarkable harp-players of a past age was the famous Hempson, who died in 1807 at the age of 112, having been born in 1695. Hempson lost his sight when three years old, and being taught the harp while still a youth, he devoted himself with extraordinary ardour to the playing of the old national airs. Travelling from place to place with his harp, and playing at the houses of the nobility and gentry, where he was very acceptable, he visited most parts of Ireland and Scotland; and in 1745 had the honour of playing before Prince Charles Stuart at Holyrood. Latterly, when no longer able to travel, he lived in the house of his daughter; and such was his attachment to his harp, that he kept it constantly beside him in bed. A gentleman who visited him in 1805, when he was 110 years of age, mentions that, gratified with a call from an old friend, he started up in bed, and tuning the ancient companion of his wanderings, played some of the fine old airs of Ireland with indescribable feeling and delicacy. Hempson left few successors, the national instrument having gone almost out of use in Ireland.
He left, however, one blind Irish harper-we might call him the last of the minstrels—Mr Patrick Byrne, who made a livelihood by playing to parties, and for this purpose he travelled, like Hempson, through different parts of England and Scotland, as well as his own country. Byrne was a well-informed, modest, and agreeable man, and was a delightful performer on his instrument. Such was his confidence in himself
, that he walked everywhere without a guide : he successfully groped his way through the streets of the largest cities to the houses he intended to visit.
Of all the exploits in the way of travelling by blind persons, we imagine none excel those of Mr James Holman, usually styled the blind traveller. Mr Holman was bred to the naval profession, in which he had hopes of gaining distinction, when at twenty-five years of age his prospects were irrecoverably blighted by an illness leading to loss of sight. After the distressing feelings which accompanied the first shock of his bodily privation had in some degree subsided, the active mind began to seek for occupation and amusement, and finally pitched on locomotion. Acquiring an insatiable thirst for moving about, and if not seeing, at least hearing from description on the spot what each place and scene was like, he began to travel into foreign countries. Thus, between 1819 and 1821 he travelled through France, Italy, Savoy, Switzerland, parts of Germany bordering on the Rhine, Holland, and Belgium, of all which countries he has published a lively description. In 1827 he undertook a far grander expedition-a voyage round the world, which occupied him till 1832. What he heard and felt during this hazardous enterprise, which took him through Africa, Asia, Australia, and America, has also been described in a published narrative extending to several volumes.
Nothing more strikingly exemplifies the pliancy of the human faculties than the pleasure which this unfortunate gentleman derives from his examinations of remote and obscure parts of the globe, in the midst of numerous dangers and difficulties. Speaking of an exploring expedition on the coast of Africa in which he was concerned, and which required him to march for several days inland to visit a tribe of natives, he observes : 'I have ever throughout life, but perhaps more particularly since the loss of my sight, felt an intense interest in entering into association with human nature, and observing human character in its more primitive forms: this propensity I have previously had opportunities of enjoying in some of the countries most remote from European knowledge, amidst the wilds of Tartary and the deserts of Siberia : and I can refer to the indulgence of it many of my more pleasurable emotions. I believe the intensity of my enjoyment under the system I have adopted equals, if not surpasses, what other travellers experience who journey with the eyes open. It is true I see nothing visibly; but, thank God, I possess most exquisitely the other senses, which it has pleased Providence to leave me endowed with; and I have reason to believe that my deficiency of sight is in a considerable degree compensated by a greater abundance of the powers of the imagination, which enables me to form ideal pictures from the description of others, which, as far as my experience goes, I have reason to believe constitute fair and correct representations of the objects they were originally derived from. We may safely aver that after the success which has attended Mr Holman's efforts, no man need be afraid to travel over the world blindfold.
It may have been remarked by those who have given attention to the physical disabilities of the blind, the deaf, and the dumb, that blindness alone is much less a disqualification in point of mental aptitude than congenital deafness. The difference arises from the impossibility of conveying intelligence to the mind by spoken language. The blind can be made to comprehend many things by means of oral communication, which the deaf cannot readily acquire by any species of literature. Spoken language is the means pointed out by nature to communicate ideas, to express emotions and sentiments of every kind ; literature, at best, is only an auxiliary, and fails to convey the refinements of expression, the delicacies of feeling, utterable by the tongue. On this account, it may be doubted if the most accomplished deaf and dumb scholar can be made to possess a nice perception of philosophical reasoning, or be able to write with force, eloquence, and precision. In ordinary circumstances, deaf-mutes, even after lengthened instruction, fail to write with grammatical accuracy; so much do they lose by never having heard spoken language, and their ignorance of the value of sounds. We have seen, in the foregoing notices, that blindness does not prevent the attainment of a certain proficiency in arts requiring a knowledge of the beautiful and the exact in form. The deaf-mute from birth, however, rarely attains this distinction. We hear of a hundred blind musicians and poets for one congenitally deaf painter, sculptor, or author.
Among the long roll of blind poets who have gained a deathless fame for their effusions, two distinguished names will readily occur to remembrance—those of Homer and Milton. Happily for themselves, these renowned followers of the Muses had not been always blind, and having made good use of their eyes in youth, they had little difficulty in presenting finished pictures of natural scenery and other visible objects of creation which are to be found in their compositions. Blind Harry, an eminent Scottish poet of the era of Chaucer, was less fortunate, as he was blind from birth, yet has presented many vivid descriptions of natural scenery. Dr Blacklock, the early friend and patron of Burns, blind from infancy, left behind him poetical compositions remarkable for their taste and feeling. But of modern blind poets none has excelled Carolan, the celebrated Irish musician and lyrical writer. A piece which he composed in his native Irish on the death of his wife-an event he did not long survive—has been generally admired. From a translation we extract the following lines :
Once every thought and every scene was gay,
Friends, mirth, and music, all my hours employed
My life a solitude, my heart a void !
For every comfort is with Mary fled ;
Till age and sorrow join me with the dead.
That erst adorned me in life's early prime !
The soul ethereal, and the flights sublime !
Thy sweetness cheers, thy judgment aids no more;
And lost is every joy that charmed before.' How far the deaf may be made to acquire an idea of sounds has been a subject of much conjecture. In comparatively few cases is the auditory nerve entirely destroyed, and it is often only in a state of dormancy or secluded by superficial disease from the action of sounds. We have seen how the unfortunate boy Mitchell delighted in tingling a key or tuning-fork on his teeth. The greater number of those who are ordinarily considered deaf are keenly alive to sensations produced by music, when the instrument is brought in contact with their persons. We are told of a lady in Paris who tried an experiment upon a young woman who was both deaf and dumb. She fastened a silk thread about the girl's mouth, and rested the other end upon her pianoforte, upon which she played a pathetic air; her visitor soon appeared much affected, and at length