« ForrigeFortsett »
conclusion of the prayer, the clergyman descended, receiving the name of the child from the father, and a small phial filled with water from the godmother, with which the ordinance was administered. M. Bonjour preached an impressive sermon, commencing with, “Christians, my brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ our Lord.” He concluded by singing and reading a short liturgy, which embraced the Lord's Prayer and the Creed.
Before service was completed, the thunder of cannon, within a few paces of the place of worship, announced the amount of toleration extended by Sardinian Catholics to their Protestant brethren! There was no misinterpreting the object of this noisy ceremonial, nor was it a solitary instance of their hostility to these unoffending worshippers. A few years before, a lofty barricade was erected in front of the Protestant church; and though the effects of time and weather had so far accomplished its demolition, its place had been supplied by a large screen in the interior of the "temple,” to prevent any part of the Protestant worship being heard outside. Often have the Vaudois clergy patiently to pause in the middle of divine worship until this artillery is discharged.
After service, we accompanied M. Bonjour to his lovely residence, part of which forms the winter abode of a veteran English soldier, who has left a monument of his Christian philanthropy in every commune of the valleys, in the substantial shape of a village school, and whose name and virtues are much revered by the grateful peasantry. We arranged to start with M. Revel the following morning on an extensive tour through the more distant valleys; but this we must reserve for a future paper.
(To be concluded next month.)
BLIND WILSON. A philosophical biography of any blind person who has attained to eminence, would be exceedingly interesting and profitable. Individuals so afflicted afford the best illustrations of the extent to which the faculties of the mind may be instructed and disciplined ; and it is hardly possible to believe without such illustrations, how very deficient in most cases is the education of the senses with those who enjoy the full use of all. There is every reason to suppose that the blind, generally speaking, feel less acutely than is commonly imagined, a visitation which appears so awfully severe as the loss of sight. A kind and considerate Providence often makes up to them in other ways
this lamentable bereavement, and by imparting to the remaining senses a more exquisite perception, enables them with comfort, and even pleasure, to pass the days of their pilgrimage, almost unconscious of the pity they are exciting in the breasts of others.
It has been often noticed that the blind are usually cheerful, and it may be added as a general rule that they seem to be much less addicted to vicious courses than their more favored neighbours. We are confirmed in this opinion by the perusal of a small volume entitled “Biography of the Blind,” by James Wilson, which has just fallen under our notice, and from which we purpose extracting materials for a memoir of its author, who has been blind from his infancy. A more interesting volume we have seldom read, and we hope in the course of this paper to draw from it some suggestions which may prove profitable as well as entertaining.
To us there appears a certain majesty in blindness. Our great Milton has feelingly hallowed the subject by the finest strains of poetry of which our own, or any other language, is capable; and never does he appear so truly sublime as when, meekly acquiescing in his trying visitation, he expresses at once the sweetest child-like docility, and a steadfastness and manliness of purpose the most heroic. Homer, we all know, was blind. Huber, the closest observer and most ingenious of entomologists, Saunderson the eminent mathematician, and a host of others, who have earned names of high standing in the world, were similarly afflicted. Handel, it is not perhaps so generally known, was blind in his old age. Describing one of his latter performances, our author says, “It was a most affecting spectacle, to see the venerable musician, whose genius had so long charmed the ear of a discerning audience, led to the front of the stage, in. order to make an obeisance of acknowledgment to the enraptured multitude. When Smith played the organ, during the first year of Handel's blindness, the oratorio of Sampson' was performed, and Beard sang, with great feeling
• Total eclipse! No sun, no moon;
All dark amidst the blaze of noon!' The recollection that Handel had set these words to music, with the view of the blind composer, then sitting by the organ, affected the audience so forcibly, that many persons present were moved even to tears."
Were we to recount all the wonderful feats performed by the blind, we should provoke the smile of incredulity. New senses seem to be created, and new organs brought into requisition. Colours have been distinguished by the touch, and the various fabrics used for clothing identified by the smell. The position, the height, the temper, andeven the very features of an individual, have been correctly inferred from his voice. The tongue has served as an instrument of almost microscopic power—and every part of the frame has become so exquisitely sensitive, that acted upon only by the atmosphere it has indicated the proximity or remoteness of outward objects, and intimated dangers, that a man with the full use of his eyes would never have foreseen. The very want of sight has made common minds philosophic, and careless observers exact. In one word, it has proved a signal blessing instead of an unmitigated curse:
“So soothly kind is nature to her own”-50 gracious in his loving correction, is the God of all the families of the earth. But to our more immediate subject
JAMES WILSON, the subject of our present sketch, was born in 1779, in Richmond, Virginia, whither his father had gone at the age of eighteen. By the revolutionary war he lost his all, and died on his passage home to England with his wife and child, the former of whom immediately followed him to his watery grave, over-powered by her heart-rending loss. Nor did the misfortunes of the poor orphan end here. “I was seized” says he, “ with the small pox, and for want of a mother's care, and proper medical aid, this most loathsome disease deprived me of my sight. After a long and dangerous voyage, it being a hurricane almost all the time, the captain was obliged to put into Belfast harbour, as the ship had suffered
much in her masts, rigging, &c. and the crew were nearly exhausted. When we arrived there, I had not recovered from the effects of my late illness, the symptoms of which were at one period so violent, as to threaten instant dissolution; to make me the more comfortable, I was sent immediately to Belfast. The following circumstance is still fresh in
recollection: the vessel was four miles from the town, and one of the seamen, who had been my nurse from the time of my mother's death, and who, during the passage, rendered me all the assistance which his situation allowed, kept me on his knee in the boat, and this kind hearted individual administered the only cordial he possessed, which was rum and water.
“There was no time lost by captain Smith in applying to the church-warden in my behalf, and, in order to prevent me from becoming a charge to the parish, he deposited in his hands a sum of money, sufficient to pay the expense of supporting me for five years, and I was soon provided with a nurse."
Here, on the departure of the vessel which had brought him home, he was left a total stranger. “No one,” he says, “knew me, or had ever heard any thing of my family. My situation at this time was truly pitiable, as I was deprived of my parents at the time I most required their care; still, however, I under the protection of a merciful Providence, 'who can temper the wind to the shorn lamb.' In His word He has promised to be a father to the fatherless, and to me this gracious saying has certainly been fulfilled. Many of the first families in the kingdom I can rank among my kindest friends; and to nothing can I attribute this, but to the influence of His Providence, who inclines the hearts of men to that which is pleasing in His sight."
This calm and trustful spirit seems to be peculiarly characteristic of the Blind. Milton enjoyed much of it, as his lofty verses testify: “If,” says he, in prose, more staid, but scarcely less majestic—"if, as it is written, man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, what reason is there why a man should not rest satisfied that it is not with sight alone, but with the guidance and providence of God, that his eyes can avail him. Surely, while he regards—while he considers me, as he certainly does,
and leads me as it were by the hand as a guide through the whole of my life, I cannot but willingly resign my sight to him who has so ordained it."
“When I was about eight or nine years of age," continues our narrative, "I was not only projector, but workman, for all the children in the neighbourhood. I amused myself occasionally in constructing little windmills, cars, and ships. A kind friend made me a present of a little ship, a perfect model of the Roya! George, which was lost at Spithead, and this toy was esteemed by me as one of the most precious gifts I could possibly receive. Having made myself perfectly acquainted with its structure, I thought of making one for myself, upon the same principle. I procured a piece of wood, and with no other tools than an old knife, a chisel, and a hammer, completed, not, however, without the loss of some blood, my first attempt at shipbuilding."
Action is the parent of cheerfulness. The child who is constantly employed finds his reward in that employment, independently of ultimate results. It was so in this case, for these childish appliances of young Wilson laid the foundation of a real, useful, intelligent character in youth and manhood. A few years afterwards this poor blind boy was earning his bread by a pursuit ‘apparently ill suited to his situation'-carrying out letters with a punctuality and despatch that might be looked for in vain amongst many who are blessed with the full use of their eyes. Music, that forlorn hope of the blind, was subsequently recommended and followed with some success; but as it seemed likely to lead young Wilson into a variety of temptations, he had the manliness to decline its allurements.
“ About this time," he continues, “I began to pay some attention to books, but my first course of reading was of a very indifferent description.” Nor much better was the second, “novels and romances” forming its principal attraction. Yet this desultory acquaintance with books appears to have created a literary taste in the mind of Wilson. But before this feeling had developed itself to any extent, he was engaged by the Editor of the Belfast News' Letter, to deliver that paper to the subscribers, many of them residing four or five miles in the