The Blind and the Deaf-and-Dumb

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1. The Blind.

Benefits of statistics to the blind

It is everywhere acknowledged that an important service has been rendered by statistics to the Blind and to the Deaf-and-Dumb. Not only have the authentic numbers of these unfortunate members of the community been ascertained and found to be much larger than was previously supposed, but a fresh impulse has been given to the effects of philanthropy on their behalf.

Mode of obtaining the information

During the last thirty years the Blind have been enumerated in the principal European countries and in the United States of America; in Great Britain and Ireland an inquiry into their numbers was, for the first time, instituted in 1851, and there is no reason to doubt the general accuracy of the information then obtained. At the recent Census the inquiry in England was repeated in the same form as in 1851, and this consisted simply in providing in the Householder's Schedule a special column, wherein the householder was instructed to write "Blind, " or "Blind from Birth" against the entry of the name of any member of the family to whom such a description was applicable. From other columns of the schedule we learn their names, ages, sexes, and occupations. It is possible that a few persons labouring under partial blindness may have been entered as blind, but such cases may be taken as a set-off against accidental omissions. In preparing the abstracts, however, every care has been taken at the Census office to exclude persons described in such a manner as to indicate that their sight was merely impaired by the advance of years or otherwise, and to reckon those only who might be fairly assumed to be destitute of sight for all useful purposes.

Number of the blind, 1861

The number of blind persons enumerated in the United Kingdom on 8th April 1861 was 29,248, viz

England and Wales 19,352 or 1 blind to every 1,037 persons.
Scotland 2,820 " 1,086 "
Ireland 6,879 " 843 "
Islands in the British Seas 197 " 728 "
Total in United Kingdom 29,248 " 994 "


A comparison of the numbers in England and Wales with the return of 1851 shows an absolute increase of 1,046 blind persons; but it is satisfactory to find that relatively to the population the number has not increased, the proportion being 1 in every 1,037 persons in 1861 against 1 in 979 at the preceding Census.


In Scotland the number o blind returned in 1851 was 3,010, or 1 in every 960 of the population; the present return shows a decrease of 190 persons, the proportion being now 1 in 1,086. Whether this decrease is attributable to the information being less complete than in 1851, when the numbers were scarcely likely to have been overstated, or to other causes, we have not been able to ascertain; the Scottish Commissioners will probably afford some explanation of the subject in their Report.


In 1851 the blind in Ireland were 7,587, or 708 more than in April 1861, but in consequence of the decrease of the Irish people to the extent of three quarters of a million during the interval of ten years, the ratio of the blind to the population is now somewhat higher than at the former period, being 1 in 843 again 1 in 878.

Islands in British Seas

There is an increase of 26 blind persons in the Isle of Man and Channel Islands since 1851, while the population has remained almost stationary. The general result for the United Kingdom shows an absolute increase as compared with the number returned in 1851 of 174 only, and a decrease in the ratio to population from 1 in 950 to 1 in 994 persons. In round numbers the blind in this country may be set down as amounting to nearly 30,000, or about 1 in every 1,000 of the inhabitants.

Blindness in Ireland

It will be observed that blindness is much more common in Ireland than in the other parts of the United Kingdom. This circumstance has been investigated by an eminent authority on the subject, Dr. W. R. Wilde, one of the Irish Census Commissioners, who has traced the history of several outbreaks of epidemic ophthalmia in that country during the last 160 years, and described particularly the effects of the great "epidemic constitution," so marked by the failure of the potato, and by consequent famine in Ireland during the years 1845 to 1852. A wide-spread inflammation of the eyes prevailed throughout the pestilential period, not only amongst the peasantry suffering from want, and exposed to the vicissitudes of the weather in their wretched dwellings, but amongst the masses of pauper children crowded in the workhouses; and even regiments of healthy and well-fed soldiers became the recipients of this peculiar influence upon visiting those localities where the disease existed in an epidemic form. The number of. those who suffered from ophthalmia in the Irish workhouses alone during the years 1849 to 1852 was as many as 118,800, besides vast numbers in the rural districts and in the different cities and towns. In the 13 years from 1849 to 1861 the cases of ophthalmia in the workhouses, according to the published statement of the Irish Poor-Law Commissioners, were little short of-two hundred thousand. Latterly the disease has been gradually lessening in the workhouses, and in 1860 there were only 5,416 cases.1

Distribution of blindness

Blindness it is supposed becomes gradually more prevalent as the equator is approached from the poles, and fixed ratios of the blind to the sighted have even been assigned to different parallels of latitude. No sufficient data exist, however, for any certain conclusions of this nature; and although the prevalence of blindness in tropical countries is well known, we believe the fact may be ascribed to causes which exercise a more powerful influence than climate. In countries where the masses of the people are badly fed and lodged, where sanitary laws are disregarded, and where there is little knowledge of ophthalmic surgery, blindness will always be common, and it will be little modified by the circumstances of mere geographical position. In the subjoined Table2 we give the latest statistics accessible to us relating to foreign countries and to a few of our colonial possessions. It will be observed that in Norway the ratio is as high as I blind to every 540 inhabitants, or nearly two to one as compared with Great Britain. In the American States the ratio of blind to the whole population is 1 in 2470, and of Wind slaves to all slaves, I in 2616; in several of the southern states between 26 and 33 degrees of latitude the proportion is much lower, tending to show that climate has here had little or no direct influence. But it must be borne in mind that in the United States, and in several of our own colonies, where the people are largely recruited by the immigration of young and healthy persons, the blind will naturally be in a low ratio to the rest of the population. Persons labouring under deprivation of sight, like the sick, the maimed, and the decrepit, rarely emigrate; and, apart from this circumstance, the comparatively small proportion of aged persons in the population of these countries will sufficiently account for the inconsiderable numbers of the blind.

Distribution of the blind in England

With regard to the distribution of the blind in different parts of England, the recent returns lead to the same conclusion as those of 1851, namely, that this affliction is more common in the rural districts than in those chiefly devoted to manufacturing, mining, and commercial industry. For example, in the south-western counties, comprising Wilts, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, the average proportion is 1 blind in 793 inhabitants; in the eastern counties (Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk) it is 1 in 902, and in North Wales 1 in 880; these parts of the country being for the most part agricultural and pastoral. On the other hand in the north-western counties (Cheshire and Lancashire) the ratio falls to 1 in 1253; in York, West Riding, it is 1 in 1296; in Durham 1 in 1252; and in Bedford shire, where young persons are largely employed in the straw-plait manufacture, 1 in 1325. But to whatever causes the high ratios in the agricultural counties are due, it is certain that the crowded dwellings and defective sanitary arrangements of large towns, combined with the occupations usually carried on amongst dense masses of people, are extremely conducive to diseases resulting in loss of sight. The lower proportions observed in the manufacturing and mining districts must therefore be mainly ascribed to immigration, and the comparative youthfulness of the population in those localities. Loss of sight being greatly influenced by age, part of the excess of blind persons in the rural districts is owing to the fact that they contain a larger proportionate number of persons in advanced life than the towns and manufacturing districts; while the immigrants into the latter are chiefly young persons who labour under no physical disability to interfere with their employment in the factories, in domestic service, or in trade as apprentices and work-people.

Blindness in the principal towns

Hence we find that in the principal cities and towns the ratios of the blind are below the average for England, although institutions or charities for the benefit of this class are in operation in many of them. In London where the number (2638) is augmented by the presence of blind children and adults from the provinces who are receiving benefit from charities administered in the metropolis, the proportion is 1 in 1063 inhabitants; in Liverpool it is 1 in 1111, and in Manchester 1 in 1320. The Table at foot exhibits the ratios in the districts representing these and other large English towns.3

Distribution influenced by the age of the people

In most of the agricultural counties the proportional number of the people above 60 years of age is high, being seldom less than 9 or 10 per cent.; while in Lancashire scarcely more than 5 per cent. are found to have attained that age; in York West Hiding, Cheshire, Durham, and Staffordshire, about 6 per cent. On comparing the numbers of the blind at ages above 60 with the population at the same ages, the differences apparent on a comparison between the blind and the people at all ages become less striking. 4 But while the influence of the age of the people on the distribution of blindness is sufficiently obvious, other influences which have not yet been fully investigated are undoubtedly at work in particular localities.

Sexes of the blind

Of the 19,352 blind persons enumerated in England and Wales, 10,249 were males, and 9,103 females, being in the ratio of 113 males to 100 females. In 1851 the ratio was nearly the same. In Scotland the female blind are rather in excess of the other sex (102 females to 100 males), a result partly owing to the preponderance of the female population, particularly at advanced ages, in that country. In Ireland the inequality of the sexes amongst the blind is still greater, the proportion being 118 females to 100 males; and here there is a large numerical excess of females. But on comparing the blind of each sex with the enumerated population of each sex, we obtain the following results:—


  BLIND to 100,000 Persons enumerated of each Sex
Males Females
In England and Wales 105 88
Scotland 96 88
Ireland 111 126

The proportion of the blind in every 10,000 of the population of each sex is shown for the Divisions and Counties in Table 137 of the Appendix (p. 167). In nearly all the English counties the proportion of blind males is greater than that of females; the exceptions are Bedford, Dorset, and Rutland.

As the occupations followed by men are likely to produce accidents and diseases resulting in loss of sight to a greater extent than those of women, it is natural to expect that blindness amongst males would be more common than amongst females; where such is not the- case, as in Ireland, the explanation must be sought in circumstances connected with the relative numbers of the sexes living at advanced ages, or in other conditions peculiar to the country.

Ages of the blind in England

The influence of age on the distribution of the blind has already been adverted to; we proceed to notice the principal facts shown by the Tables on this important head of the inquiry. It appears that 2,702—about one-seventh of the whole number of the blind in England—are under 20 years of age; viz.:—


  Total under 20 Years. Under 5 years. 5- 10- 15-
Males 1,517 293 326 443 455
Females 1,185 236 274 327 348


Counties. Population at all Ages. Blind at all Ages. Population aged 60 and upwards. Blind aged 60 and upwards. Blind to 100,000 living.
At all Ages. Aged 60 and upwards.
Cheshire 470,174 391 31,368 161 83 513
Lancashire 2,465,366 1,952 130,626 597 79 457
York (West Riding) 1,530,007 1,181 95,364 495 77 519
Durham 542,125 433 30,793 195 80 633
Bedfordshire 140,479 106 10,626 55 75 518
Survey (Extra-Metropolitan) 273,264 189 20,574 101 69 491
Hereford 106,796 154 10,619 76 144 716
Gloucester 443,535 591 39,160 254 133 649
Cornwall 364,848 503 31,678 244 138 770
Devon 589,385 771 56,707 418 131 737
Dorset 182,193 209 16,630 109 115 655
Wilts 236,027 276 23,072 150 117 650
Norfolk 427,466 552 44,074 258 129 585
Suffolk 335,409 374 32,770 190 112 580

In the early years of life the number is small, only 529, including both sexes, being under 5 years of age. Between the ages of 5 and 20 there are 2,173 boys and girls, who are mostly within the limits assigned for. the admission of pupils into schools for the special instruction of the blind.

At the ages between 20 and 60 there are 7,852 persons, or about 40 per cent. of the whole number; while 8,798 persons, or 45 per cent., are at the advanced ages above 60, and their blindness must in many instances be regarded as the result of natural infirmity attendant upon old age. The following are the numbers of each sex at the ages above 60:—


above 60.
60- 65 70- 75- 80- 85- 90- 95- 100 &
Males 4,125 817 794 903 771 519 251 54 14 2
Females 4,673 754 847 938 928 728 336 115 23 4

It is a significant fact, that of the persons in England who had attained ages from 80 and upwards, 1 in every 56 men, and 1 in every 55 women, was found at the Census to be destitute of sight.5

Previous or present occupations of the blind

The information given in the Householders' Schedules with respect to the occupations of the blind affords no correct indication of their' condition and resources, nor is it sufficiently precise to admit of a rigid distinction between the employments carried on in a state of blindness and those followed previous to the loss of sight by persons in adult life. In some instances blind persons are engaged as employers in pursuits apparently incompatible with loss of vision; but, except in the case of employments commonly taught in the institutions,—such as basket-making, brash-making, sack, mat, and net making,—the occupations specified in the returns are usually those in which the persons were engaged before their deprivation.

The previous or present occupations of the blind have been classified in Tables for each sex, according to the arrangement adopted for the general population.6 In the "professional class" are returned 43 clergymen and ministers, 17 physicians and surgeons, 11 barristers and solicitors, 79 schoolmasters, schoolmistresses, and teachers, and no less than 609 musicians and teachers of music. Besides 16 army officers, there are 164 Chelsea pensioners, soldiers, and militia-men; of naval officers there are 16, of Greenwich pensioners 58, and of seamen 106. Amongst the other occupations of males in which considerable numbers are or were engaged are the following,—agricultural labourers 754, labourers, not otherwise described, 349, farmers 341, coal and other miners 253, engaged in the iron manufacture, blacksmiths, and other workers in iron 167, shoemakers 164, carpenters 109, bricklayers and masons 94, tailors 80, stone and limestone quarriers, &c. 59. In the trades which the blind practise with success are, 571 basket makers, 178 mat, rope, sack, and net makers, and 51 brush and broom makers. With respect to the females, the largest items are domestic servants 305, dressmakers, seamstresses, and stay makers 111, knitters 94, washerwomen 123, basket makers 68, charwomen 56, brush and broom makers 27. The great textile manufactures appear to have furnished only a moderate contingent; viz., the cotton manufacture 112, including both sexes, woollen cloth manufacture 61, silk and ribbon 61, in all 234 persons described returned as having been engaged in these branches of industry. With respect to 7,220 no information is given as to their occupations or means of support; 1,091 are described as dependent on parochial relief or assistance from charitable sources, besides 1,80 children and others living with their relatives.7 It is to be feared that the bulk of the blind, even including those who are referred to distinct occupations, are unable to support themselves; nevertheless, the returns include a small proportion of person belonging to the upper and richer classes. We find 140 described as land proprietor 145 as house proprietors, 156 as of independent means, and 30 as merchants and capitalist in addition to those of the learned professions already referred to.

Occupations of the born blind

Amongst the occupations of those described as "blind from birth" are the following musicians and teachers of music 134, basket-makers 111, mat, rope, and net makers 2 agricultural and other labourers 15, brush-makers 6, knitters (females) 18, newspaper vendors 2, and town criers 4. With respect to 512 adults born blind no information given on this head.8

Sufficient experience has now been acquired with regard to the employments best suited to the blind, and the truth is recoglized that their welfare is more likely to be promoted by affording them the means of learning and supporting themselves by such employments, than by training them to pursuits in which they cannot hope to compete with the sighted. Even the study of music, in which the blind take great delight, is said to be of doubtful advantage to them, for although some of the musical pupils, on leaving the schools, obtain situations as village organists, a large number fail in this object; while it is asserted that devotion to music almost always precludes success in any industrial work.9

Congenital blindness

The mode of procedure adopted in taking the English Census precluded the enumerators from pausing in the performance of their appointed task for the purpose of making special inquiries, which would be of great interest if they could be efficiently carried out, in reference to the blind; such as the causes of their infirmity and the period of life at which it commenced, their circumstances with regard to instruction, and their means of support. An attempt was made, for the first time, upon this occasion, to ascertain the extent of congenital blindness, by means of an instruction in the Householder's Schedule, to the effect that persons blind from 'birth were to be so described; but whether the information thus obtained may be regarded as tolerably complete and satisfactory we are not prepared to say.

Vague use of the term "born blind"

It appears that the term "born blind" is often applied to children losing their sight in the early years of life as well as to those actually blind from birth; and no doubt the difference is slight between those who never beheld the light and those who lost the faculty of vision before they had used it long enough to acquire permanent impressions.10 To what extent the vague employment of this term,; thus sanctioned by popular usage and similarity of condition, has affected the value of the statistics of the born blind, we are unable to state; but it is not improbable that while some of the persons making the returns would use the words in a popular sense others would restrict them to their literal meaning, and that imperfect information would be the result.

Number returned as born blind

However this may be, we find that 1,846 persons, namely, 1,005 males and 841 females, were returned as blind from birth, being 1 in 10-5 of the whole number afflicted with blindness. The highest ratios of the born blind are observed in the counties of Bedford, Herts, Norfolk, Leicester, Lincoln, Chester, York, and Durham, which furnish an average of about 1 in 8. In Monmouthshire and "Wales, on the other hand, the average ratio is only 1 in 17.5; in Surrey (extra-metropolitan), 1 in 19: Westmoreland and Rutland had only one each, and in several of the counties the numbers were remarkably small. The average proportion in London was 1 in 11, in the south-western counties, the part of England in which blindness most prevails, 1 in 10, and in the north-western counties (Cheshire and Lancashire) 1 in 9. In Herefordshire, where there is one blind person to every 693 inhabitants, the ratio of the born blind to the total is 1 in 12.8.11

Blindness resulting from diseases

Small-pox has undoubtedly been one of the most prolific causes of blindness in England. Of 1,456 pupils received into the Liverpool School from 1791 to 1860, no less than 250, or more than one-sixth, are said to have been blinded by small-pox; and of the pupils admitted, to the London asylum a large proportion had been deprived of sight by the same disease. Purulent ophthalmia, with which the new-born infant is frequently attacked a few days after birth, is a disease quickly destructive of sight unless arrested by careful treatment. Many other forms of disease result in this calamity; but happily the great advances made in the knowledge of the anatomy of the eye have enabled surgeons to treat successfully many of the structural causes of blindness, and to restore sight in cases which, not many years ago, would have been considered hopeless. If all diseases of the eye cannot be traced to their origin, there can be no doubt that the bulk of them, when not attributable to advanced age, are induced by the unhealthiness of dwellings, the want of cleanliness, bad or insufficient food, and other well-known causes of physical deterioration, as well as by every description of overwork involving a considerable strain on the organs of vision, whether that of the student, the needlewoman, or the mechanic. To these undoubted causes of blindness must be added the various accidents to which all classes, and the labouring classes in particular, are constantly exposed.

We have already noticed the practical difficulties which stand in the way of employing the enumerators to collect special information with regard to the persons returned as blind or deaf and dumb. In Ireland these difficulties do not exist, the Census Commissioners being enabled through the Constabulary and police force to institute a secondary inquiry into the circumstances connected with each case noted by the enumerators; and in 1851 the mass of information thus collected, afforded the most complete account of these classes which has been yet obtained in any country.

Special inquiry respecting the blind in Herefordshire

We have endeavoured, however, to supplement the Census inquiry with some additional particulars in reference to one county—Hereford—where, as shown by the returns both of 1851 and 1861, the blind and the deaf and dumb are more numerous in proportion to the whole population than in any other part of England. In Herefordshire the ratio of the blind is 1 in 693 inhabitants, the average for England and Wales being 1 in 1,037. Of 10,000 of each sex in Herefordshire 15.6 males and 13.3 females are blind, the corresponding ratios for England and Wales being 10.5 and 8.8 respectively. Of deaf mutes the ratio in Herefordshire is i in 998 against 1 in 1,640 for all England.12

Physical character of the county of Hereford

Hereford is an inland county, almost exclusively devoted to agriculture, and celebrated or its breed of cattle, its cider, and its wool. The surface of the county is beautifully diversified by magnificent woods, and the soil is represented as fertile, with rich alluvial lands on the banks of the Wye and other rivers. On the east it is separated from Gloucestershire by the Malvern Hills, and on the south-west from Wales by the Black Mountains. The population has increased from 88,436 in 1801 to 123,712 in 1861, being at the rate of 40 per cent. in 60 years; in the last ten years the increase was 8,223 persons, or 7 per cent. About one fourth of the population inhabit the towns.

Mode of obtaining the information

To the officiating clergyman of every Herefordshire parish in which any blind or deaf and dumb person was living at the time of the Census a circular letter was addressed, accompanied by forms to be filled up with the results of inquiries respecting the individuals, where the particulars could be ascertained without inconvenience; and our acknowledgments are specially due to the, clergy for their trouble in obtaining, in a large number of instances, and chiefly by personal inquiry, the information sought for. In several cases, however, no particulars could be furnished, in consequence of the persons referred to having either died since the Census or removed from the neighbourhood. The inquiries with respect to the blind were restricted to the following points:—whether the person was blind from birth, or if not, to what accident or disease the infirmity was attributed; whether any other members of the family were similarly affected; whether he had received instruction in any institution, or assistance from any charity; and lastly to what extent he was able to support himself by any trade or occupation. Out of 154 cases of blindness returned at the Census, these inquiries were answered with respect to 131.

As regards the origin of the blindness, we learn that in 10 of these 131 cases the persons (7 males and 3 females) were born blind; at the Census the total number of this class returned for the county was 12, or about 1 in 13 of the total blind. In 25 other cases the loss of sight is attributed to "inflammation" or "cold," probably ophthalmic of the common form; 2 cases are ascribed to scrofula, 6 to cataract, 2 to amaurosis, and 4 to other forms of disease, (in one case only is small-pox assigned as the cause,) 18 to old age, 1 to lightning, and 24, or more than one seventh of the whole, to accidents of various kinds, mostly connected with rural pursuits.13 In one instance the blindness is. attributed to neglect of ablutions, combined with the effects of wood smoke in a badly ventilated cottage, wood being the fuel commonly used by the poor.

Influence of age at which blindness occurs

The period of life at which blindness occurs has a most important influence over the future history of the individual. Those who are born blind, or who become so before they have learnt to observe, are dependent for knowledge on the remaining senses, which usually attain an increased development; and the same may be said of those who are deprived of sight in youth, to whom, however, the acquisitions of the few years of vision they have enjoyed will prove of great value.But to those who experience this calamity in adult life the remaining senses will afford little additional aid, and the powers of the mind and body, if not already on the wane, are often severely shattered by the blow. In 40 out of 109 specified instances in Herefordshire the blindness occurred at different ages under 20, in 43 instances at ages between 20 and 65, and in 26 at the advanced ages over 65. Of the adult blind only a part, therefore, were destitute of sight in infancy or youth.

Blindness in families

In answer to the inquiry as to whether any other members of the family of the individual were similarly affected, we learnt that of the 7 males born blind, two were brothers; amongst the non-congenital cases, in one instance the father was blind; in another, a brother and the mother; in two instances the grandfather (in one of these an uncle and an aunt also); in two instances a brother, and in three a sister. The father of one person had lost the sight of an eye, while one uncle was born blind, and another had become so. In several instances other members of the same family were said to be partially blind. From, these statements it may be inferred that blindness, like deaf-dumbness, has a tendency to manifest itself in families; and the causes which influence both these defects are no doubt in some degree similar.

Number of the blind instructed

Only 12 of the blind in Herefordshire were stated to have received any instruction in special institutions; namely, 5 in the London School in Southwark, and the others in the asylums at Liverpool, Bath, Bristol (3), Exeter, and Avenue-road, London. It is an encouraging fact that nearly all these persons were able to support themselves by following the industrial or other occupations acquired at school, besides having had also the advantage of some mental culture.

Means of support

The returns show, however, that the proportion of the blind who can wholly or even partially support themselves in any trade or calling is very small, and that the majority of those who are not in good circumstances, or whose friends do not maintain them, are forced to take refuge in the workhouse, or to obtain out-door relief from the parish.14 The information given as to the means of support in the case of 129 blind persons shows that while 21 were wholly or partially able to maintain themselves, no less than 70, of whom 63 were adults, were dependent on parochial relief; but as two thirds of these were upwards of 60 years of age, it is probable that some of them would have been recipients of this relief owing to advanced age and infirmity, independently of loss of vision. Seven persons were in receipt of small annuities from the Rev. W. Hetherington's charity for the blind, and two persons had been enabled by their training as musicians to obtain engagements as village organists.

Institutions and charities for the blind

Blindness being one of the greatest misfortunes with which humanity can be afflicted, it is not surprising that in this country the active sympathy and assistance of the benevolent should have been largely extended to the sufferers from this infirmity; still it appears doubtful whether the efforts which have yet been made to diminish the ignorance and improve the general condition of the class have been commensurate with the necessities of the case. The institutions established for their benefit in different parts of the country have undoubtedly accomplished much good in instructing the young, and in teaching them useful trades whereby they may be enabled wholly or partially to earn their own livelihood; but a large number of the blind amongst the humbler classes are a burden on the parish or their friends, or wander about in hopeless mendicancy, often for want of the opportunity of learning a simple trade. Every thing that has yet been done has been the unaided work of private charity. Philanthropic persons, impressed with the helpless condition of the ignorant and neglected blind, have often urged that it is the duty of the State to throw around these unfortunate persons its special protection, and to secure for them the blessings of education, combined with such industrial training as may assist them in supporting themselves. But this view has been opposed on the ground that State assistance would tend to check the flow of private benevolence, and that cripples, orphans, and other suffering members of the community would be equally entitled to similar aid. In most of the European countries, however, as well as in the United States of America, it has been regarded as a duty of the Government to make suitable provision for the instruction of the blind and the deaf and dumb.15

25 & 26 Vict. C. 43., which empowers Guardians of the poor to send children to special schools

Under the provisions of a recent Act of Parliament the Guardians of any parish or union are authorized to send poor children to any school or. institution certified by the Poor Law Board as fitted for the reception of such children, and to pay out of the funds in their possession the expenses incurred in the maintenance, clothing, and education of each child during the time such child shall remain at the school (not exceeding the total sum which would have been charged for the maintenance of the child at the workhouse), such expenses to be charged to the same fund and in the same manner as the relief otherwise supplied to the child would be charged. It is manifestly the duty of the Guardians to avail themselves of this provision of the placing such poor children as are blind or deaf-and-dumb in the special schools, where they can be instructed in a manner suited to their condition, and in a great measure qualified to support themselves, instead of being a burden upon the ratepayers during the rest of their lives. To be fitted to become useful members of the community is a part of the relief to which these children are entitled. But while facilities are thus given to Guardians of the poor to provide education and maintenance for pauper children- in schools and institutions, there is no adequate provision for the instruction 'of the children of those who, like agricultural labourers and others in receipt of low wages, are not reduced to the condition of pauperism, although unable to bear the expense of sending a child to an institution.

Without expressing an opinion on the question of the expediency of subsidizing these institutions from the national exchequer, we may remark, that no trustworthy information regarding the number and condition of the classes under consideration existed previous to 1851, and as the usual practice in this country is to make full inquiry in the first instance, in order to ascertain whether any necessity for interference exists, it can scarcely be a matter of surprise that no action of the kind suggested has yet been taken by the Government.

Different classes of charities for the blind

The efforts of the benevolent to promote the well-being of the blind in England have led to the establishment of several classes of charities; namely, (1) the schools and educational institutions designed to afford them mental culture and the means of learning a trade; (2) the institutions, which are in fact manufacturing establishments, affording regular employment to blind workers, most of whom reside at their homes; (3), societies for visiting the poor blind, for supplying them with home teachers, and for printing and distributing books in embossed type; and (4) relief funds and charities for granting small annuities to the aged amongst them. Thus some provision is made to meet their peculiar necessities at each period of life,—to furnish the young wita instruction, to provide able-bodied adults with employment, and to afford the aged and infirm, who are past work, some means of support.

Educational institutions for the blind

The first institution for the instruction of the blind in Great Britain was established at Liverpool in the year 1791; it was followed by the asylums at Edinburgh and Bristol; and in 1799 was founded the school in London (St. George's Fields), now the largest in the country. During the last thirty years other institutions have been established in several of the principal towns in England.

The circumstances appertaining to the principal institutions for the instruction of the blind, at present in operation in England, will be found in the details of the subjoined Table. The requisites for admission into these establishments are, that the applicant shall be within certain limits of age, that he or she shall be totally blind—or have no greater degree of sight than to distinguish light from darkness—and of good health and sound intellect; a respectable householder must engage to receive the pupil on leaving the school. But even when the candidates are in every respect eligible they are rarely admitted except by a majority of the votes of the subscribers at an annual or half-yearly election. For the convenience of comparison with the Tables showing the distribution of the blind, the institutions are arranged according to the statistical divisions, We learn that of the 19,352 blind in England and Wales, the inmates of these institutions at all ages,—in some instances they remain several years after the age of 20,—were at the time of the Census only 760. There were in addition a few day-pupils and outmates; but as the enumerated blind between 5 and 20 years of age alone amounted to 2,173, the sufficiency of the existing provision for the education of the afflicted class now under consideration may well be questioned. The distribution of the schools is also defective; for example, in the country of York, with upwards of two millions of population, and 324 blind under 20 years of age, there is but one such institution with 65 inmates16 ; in the South-Midland and Welsh Divisions, containing an aggregate population of 2,600,000, with 2,630 blind (of whom 257 were under 20 years), there are no institutions whatever. The accommodation is very little in excess of the numbers already admitted; and if Boards of Guardians were to exercise more freely the powers conferred upon them by law with regard to sending children to these schools for instruction, it is doubtful whether there would be room. This circumstance, and the restrictive rules of admission to the existing institutions, may justly be urged as an argument for the establishment of a school specially devoted to the instruction of the pauper blind.

Industrial establishments

The second class of institutions for the blind comprises the manufacturing establishments intended to provide permanent employment for adults who usually reside at their own homes. This laudable object appears to be successfully accomplished by the Association for Promoting the General Welfare of the Blind, Euston Road, London, which employs in its manufactory, or benefits in other ways, about 170 persons, and 230 more are employed by affiliated societies in Bradford, Liverpool, Sheffield, and a few other towns. Work-shops are provided for adult workers (outmates) at some of the schools for the blind.

Other charities for the blind

The next class of charities addresses itself to the task of improving the intellectual, moral, and social condition of the blind. To this end various agencies, for the most part sufficiently indicated by the.names of the societies, are employed; amongst these societies are—the Association for Supplying Home Teachers for the Blind; the Society for Printing and Distributing Books for the Blind; the Indigent Blind Visiting Society; and the Milton Society for Improving the Social Condition of the Blind. A fourth class includes the different funds and charities from which small annuities are granted, chiefly to the aged blind who have not been the recipients of parochial relief. Several of these funds owe their origin to the bequests of wealthy persons who were themselves sufferers from deprivation of sight; the Blind Man's Friend or Day's Charity founded by the late Mr. Day (of the firm of Day and Martin), who bequeathed 100,000l . to this benevolent object, and the Rev. W. Hetherington's Charity, which is administered by the. Governors of Christ's Hospital, are examples. The latter charity, founded in 1774 now appropriates annuities of 10l. each to 600 blind persons over 61 years of age. The Painter-Stainers' Company's Charity grants pensions to 217 aged blind persons; the Cordwainers' Company's Charity distributes 5l . annually to 105 blind persons; and others of the City companies also grant small annuities for the relief of the same class. It would be too much to expect that these various charities, notwithstanding every care on the part of those who administer them, should not be occasionally abused; but at leastit cannot be said of them, as of some charities, that they tend to create the objects of their bounty.


Division Name of Institution Locality When instituted or opened Means of its Support Sexes admitted Accomodation for resident Pupils Limits of Age on Admission Usual Period of Instruction or Residence Average Annual Admissions Number in Institution on 8th April 1861 Number admitted since Foundation or Opening Description of Industrial Work
TOTAL Males Females TOTAL Males Females For Males For Females
I. London School for the Indigent Blind St George's Fields, Southwark, London 1799 Donations and subscriptions, legacies &c Both 160 80 80 From 10 - 20 years About 6.5 years 25-30 152 78 74 Not stated Making door mats, plain and fancy worsted rugs, rope and cocoa nut fibre matting, basket-work of all descriptions, patent sash, and clothes lines, twine, shoes, knitting, netting, fancy hairwork &c Nearly the same as for males
The London society for teaching the blind to read, and for training them in industrial occupations Upper Avenue Road, Regent's Park 1838 Voluntary contributions and partial payments by those resident pupils who are not free pupils by election Both 57 26 31 Between 8 and 17 for boys, and 8 and 20 if for girls, except when otherwise ordered by the executive comitee 9 Years 13 latterly 61 34 27 384 Brush-making, basket-making, bead work, basket work Brush-making and knitting, both sexes are also taught music
II. South-Eastern Brighton Asylum for the Instruction of the Blind Eastern Road, Brighton Instituted, Oct 1841.New Asylum opened 1861 Payments of 9l per annum for each child from 8-12 years of age. After that age 10l and upwards, depending on circumstances, and voluntary contributions Both 60 30 30 Admitted at 8 years of age and remain till provided for, adults also in special cases 7 Years variable 19 6 13 Not stated; 14 since opening of new asylum Basket Work Needlework and knitting
IV.Eastern Norwich Institution for the Indigent Blind Magdalen St Norwich 1805 Voluntary Contributions Both Pupils, 38 19 19 Pupils not under 12 years, Aged Persons not under 55 years Pupils, for 5 years, Aged Persons, for life 7 Pupils 25 Aged persons 12 17,6 8,6 398 Making door mats, baskets, hampers, sacks, cocoa matting, twine, sash and linen lines, rugs, carpenting, frails, hassocks, bottle envelopes. All the pupils are also taught to read and print Stockings knitted, kneecaps, geurnseys, gloves, gauntlets, and anti-macassars
Aged persons 12 6 6                  
V. South-Western West of England Institution for the Instruction and Employment of the Blind Exeter 1838 Voluntary Contributions, and a small payment for boarders, only 3s per week Both 50, Out-pupils 10 30, 10 20 From 10 years of age From 4-7 Years 9 41 Out pupils (adults){ 10 22,10 19 188 Making mats, matting, baskets, brushes and sash lines Making Baskets, Knitting
Institution for the Blind and Deaf-and-Dumb Walcot Parade, Bath 1843 Voluntary Contributions and payments by pupils Both Blind pupils { 18 8 10 Girls from 6-13, Boys from 6-10 From 5-7 years, or longer if required 4 Blind pupils 18 8 10 77 Basket Making Basket-making and knitting
VI. West-midland Bristol Asylum or School of Industry for the blind Bristol 1793 Incorperated 1832 Interest of funded property, voluntary subscriptions, donations, and 3s per week from each pupil Both 60 35 25 Males, 9 - 21 years, females 9 -25 years 7 years 10 59 Outpupils{10 34, 10 25 482 Basket making, brush and door mat making, with music (singing, piano-fote, and organ) Knitting, fine basket making, brush-drawing, with music (singing, piano-forte and organ)
General Institution for the Blind Edgbaston, Birmingham 1847; removed to present building in 1852 Subscriptions, donations, legacies, interest from a small investment and pupils fees. The pupils are charged 1l 16s per quarter in advance in nearly all cases Both 64 40 24 Not strictly defined; usually admitted between the ages of 10 and 21 Not limited, average period 5 years 10 (since 1852) 61 35 26 150 Music ( organ, pianoforte and vocal), basketmaking, mat and rug weaving. Music (Organ, pianoforte, vocal), knitting, netting and crochet
VII. North-midland Midland Institution for the Blind Nottingham 1844; the present institution in 1853 Charitable Contribution, &c Both 47 25 22 Not under 7 or over 20, except in special cases 7 years 7 (since 1853) 42 23 19 120 Making baskets, brushes, matresses, mats, hearth-rugs &c, and weaving cocoa nut matting Knitting, Netting, crochet, can chair seating, brush drawing
VIII. North-westerm School for the Indigent Blind Liverpool 1791, and incorperated in 1829 Annual subscriptions, donations, and legacies(Each pupil paying 3s per week for bard &c) Both 90 52 38 Males not under 14, females not under 12 years old, but no limit beyond those ages No definite period, much depends on progress in learning, and prospects when they have learned a trade 16 for the last 13 years 71 41 30 1462 to 8th April 1861 Weaving, mat and twine making, basket, brush and sash cord making Knitting, sewing, hair and silk platting, and brush-making
Catholic Blind Asylum Liverpool 1841 Voluntary Charity Both 80 60 20 None Indefinite 5 24 15 9 About 100 Mat, rug and basket making, music, reading, &c Knitting, sewing, washing, cleaining, music, reading &c
Henshaw's Blind Asylum Manchester Opened 1838, and new workshops for outmates in March 1861 Interest arising from the endowment of the founder (Thos. Henshaw Esq.) and annual subcriptions and donations Both 81 48 33 9 - 16 Years Candidates are not elected for any limited time, except in special cases 10 to 12 76 47 29 322 Weaving, basket-making and mat-making Knitting, netting, crochet work, and brush making
IX.Yorkshire Yorkshire School for the Blind York Opened 1835 Voluntary Subscriptions Both 70 44 26 From 9 -15 Years 7 Years 9 65 40 25 270 Mat-making, netting-weaving, basket making Knitting, netting, sewing and fancy mat making
X. Northern Royal Victoria Asylum for the Industrious Blind of the Northern Counties Newcastle-On-Tyne in June 1838 Voluntary Contributions, and an annual payment of £10 10s on behalf of each pupil Both 38 18 20 From 9 - 16 as a general rule. In special cases adults are admitted for 1 or 2 years, in order to learn a trade Till the pupil has learned a trade, if capable of doing so. A few are retained for a longer period 4 or 5 34 16 18 140 Mattress-making, mat-making, and basket work Plain and Fancy Knitting
                        Total inmates:          
                        Pupils - 748 416 332      
                        Aged Persons - 12 6 6      

Education of the blind

From the reports of the schools for the blind we gather that the intellectual culture is of a sound and practical character. There is no attempt to give them an education of a high order, as in some of the schools in the United States, where, besides reading, writing, geography, arithmetic, music, and so on, the pupils are instructed in algebra, natural and intellectual philosophy, rhetoric, and mathematics. Such a course of instruction would be of great advantage to those who were in after life to be employed as teachers; but as manual work must be the chief resort of the blind, the object to be aimed at is to obtain for them, educational facilities not inferior to those enjoyed by sighted children of the same rank in life. The blind should be enabled to keep pace with the spirit of the age, which demands an advance of knowledge in all; and as they are shut out from the general system of public instruction to which the nation contributes so largely, the need of concerted efforts on the part of those who desire to promote their advancement is everywhere admitted. Unfortunately, however, there is a great diversity of opinion on subjects connected with the instruction of the blind. The partial advocates of the various systems of embossed printing (in raised type) by which the blind are taught to read, have been carried along by a party spirit which has resulted in great confusion and waste of the pecuniary resources of the charities. Several different systems are in use in England, and it seems almost incredible that after all the experience acquired in the institutions, even first principles have not yet been settled; whether, for instance, full spelling in letters familiar to the sighted or in arbitrary characters is preferable to an abbreviated method of spelling with or without arbitrary forms. At present books printed in embossed type are very costly, whichever system be followed17 ; and it is obvious that the only means by which an extension of the literature of the blind can be effected, so as to render the books accessible to all classes, will be by the adoption of one national, and, if practicable, international system, based on sound scientific principles, and suited to the wants of the great majority of the blind.18

Persons blind and deaf-and-dumb

Instances in which persons are in the melancholy condition of being deaf-and-dumb as well as blind are unhappily more common than might have been supposed. In advanced age, deaf-mutes, like others, are liable to loss of vision, while the blind, and especially the born blind, may also be deaf-and-dumb,—indeed the latter are in a measure predisposed to the organic defects which result in mutism; for it is an established fact, that congenital blindness and deafness proceed from a common cause, and the virus which destroys the organs of one sense sometimes extends its work of destruction to a second. The table at foot furnishes some particulars concerning 30 persons, 17 males and 13 females, described as blind and deaf-and-dumb or dumb.19 In 9 of these cases the blindness was congenital, and probably the deafness also; there were 8 hoys and 4 girls under 15; 2 men and 3 women were upwards of 60, and the conditions attending old age were added to blindness, deafness, and dumbness. In 3 cases, the persons were idiots, and therefore not properly belonging to the class of deaf-mutes.

Usefulness of special hospitals for eye diseases

We cannot close our remarks on this afflicted section of the population without adverting to the happy results which have attended the establishment of infirmaries and hospitals specially devoted to diseases of the eye, not only in the relief of suffering, but in promoting the advancement of ophthalmic medicine and. surgery. The institutions of this character in London have afforded relief to thousands of sufferers, including many who have been restored to sight by successful operations for the removal of cataract; and in Dublin, St. Mark's Hospital has been largely instrumental in relieving sufferers from this class of disease. It is true that the general hospitals, both metropolitan and provincial, admit patients labouring under diseases and accidents of the eye, but the superior advantages of special hospitals cannot be questioned. Hundreds amongst the poor of the United Kingdom may be said to lose their sight annually by bad surgery, or the want of good treatment such as those who have made ophthalmic diseases a specialty can supply

2. The Deaf-and-Dumb.

Method of obtaining the information

The mode of obtaining at the Census an account of the number of deaf-mutes is precisely similar to that already noticed in reference to the blind: the words "deaf-and-dumb" were to be written against the name of any member of the family to whom such a description was applicable. Although in the schedules the word "dumb" was entered against the names of some who should have been described as deaf-and-dumb, it cannot be doubted in a few cases the persons returned as dumb were not destitute of hearing; and in some instances idiots were erroneously returned as deaf-mutes. It would be impossible, however, without an extensive inquiry, to ascertain accurately the number of persons who should be excluded on the ground of their not being, strictly speaking, deaf-mutes; and as such persons were, for the sake of convenience, classed with the deaf-and-dumb in the returns of 1851, the same course has been pursued on the present occasion. In preparing at the Census Office the abstract of the results, every care has been taken to exclude persons against whose names the word "deaf" was entered from misconception of the instructions on the part of heads of families or enumerators who mistook deaf-and-dumb for deaf or dumb; a few young children, however, described as "deaf from birth," were excepted. It is not probable that the aggregate return presents an over-statement of number of deaf-mutes in England, since, from the uncertainty which surrounds the existence of deafness in the first years of infancy, and the natural reluctance of the parent to enter the child as deaf-and-dumb while there remains a glimmer of hope that it will ultimately hear, the returns are necessarily defective as regards infants.

Number of deaf-and-dumb in England;

According to the Census returns, the number of.the deaf-and-dumb (including under that term all who were described as dumb) in England and Wales, was 12,236—of whom 6,841 were males and 5,395 females—being in the ratio of 1 in 1,640 of the general population. In 1851 the number returned was 10,314 (5,640 males and 4,674 females), and the ratio to the population was 1 in 1,738.

As the figures for 1861 show a numerical increase of 19 per cent.,—the inhabitants of the country having increased only 12 per cent. in the decade—as well as an increased ratio to the general population, we are almost driven to one of two conclusions: either that in 1851 the numbers were understated to a greater extent than was anticipated, or that the infirmity of deaf-dumbness is on the increase in England. We have no certain information to guide us in forming a correct opinion on the subject; but as the inquiry in 1851 was the first of the kind instituted in this country, it is not improbable that the deaf-and-dumb were less carefully noted in the schedules than on the more recent occasion.

In Scotland;

In Scotland the number of deaf-mutes, returned in 1861 was 2,335, or 1 in every 1,311 of the inhabitants, a numerical increase of 8 per cent. on the return of 1851, which was 2,155 deaf-mutes, or 1 in 1,340. The northern counties of Scotland contain a larger proportional number of the deaf-and-dumb than any other part of Great Britain.

In Ireland

The number of the deaf-and-dumb and dumb only in Ireland on 8 April 1861 was 5,653 in Ireland. (3,132 males and 2,521 females), or 1 in every 1,026 of the population. It will be observed that the ratios for Scotland and Ireland are both much higher than that for England. The aggregate returns for the United Kingdom, with the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, give a total of 20,311 mutes, being 1 in every 1,432 of the population.20

Distribution of deaf-and-dumb in England

The distribution of the deaf-and-dumb in England points to the fact that special influences, at present imperfectly understood, are in operation in particular localities. In Herefordshire the ratio is 1 in every 998 persons, while in Kent, Hants, Huntingdon, Leicester, York North Riding, and Durham, the ratios are 1 in 2,000 and upwards. Of the eleven Divisions of England, the South-western (Wilts, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset), contains the greatest proportional number of deaf-mutes as well as of the blind, and the Northern the least. The following are the numbers and ratios in the Divisions, which are arranged according to the prevalence of mutism:—

    Number of Deaf-and-Dumb Proportion to Population       Number of Deaf-and-Dumb Proportion to Population
Div.   One in   Div.   One in
5. South-western 1,321 1,390   3. South-midland 789 1,642
6. West-midland 1,613 1,511   9. York 1,222 1,649
1. London 1,819 1,542   7. North-midland 748 1,723
4. Eastern 729 1,567   2. South-eastern 1,022 1,808
11. Welsh 814 1,613   8. North-western 1,582 1,856
England and Wales 12,236 1,640   10. Northern 577 1,995

The above results are in the main conformable to those of 1851, Then as now, the South-western Division stood out conspicuously as having the largest proportion of the deaf-and-dumb, and Herefordshire (in the West Midland division) filled the same position amongst the counties. It has been suggested that, in rural districts little disturbed by the presence of immigrants, the extent of deaf-dumbness may be influenced by the fact that members of the same families frequently intermarry, producing results similar to those observed in agricultural stock, under a system of breeding in and in. No doubt the counties lying in the South-western extremity of this island are by their geographical position peopled in a larger proportion by natives than counties occupying a midland situation; still amongst their inhabitants are large numbers of persons from other parts, and these are in a higher ratio than in some other counties where this infirmity is less common. In Herefordshire the native-born population is in the ratio of 75 in 100, consequently one-fourth of the people were immigrants.

Congenital mutism

Very little success attended the attempt to ascertain at the Census the number of congenital cases of deaf-mutism, by means of an instruction in- the householders' schedule to the effect that persons deaf-and-dumb "from birth" should be so described. In many instances the fact was duly noted, but it was evident that in many others the instruction had escaped notice, or the person filling up the return was unable to give the information. Even the schedules of more than one institution for the class under consideration were altogether silent on this point. As incomplete statistics would be of no value, we considered the partial information not worth the labour of extracting. In Ireland, where a further investigation of every case of deaf-dumbness returned at the Census was made by the constabulary and police, much difficulty was experienced in ascertaining whether the individuals were born deaf or not.21 From a large number of facts derived from the experience of various institutions in Europe and America, collected with much labour by Mr. D. Buxton, Principal of the Liverpool School for the Deaf-and-Dumb, that gentleman has arrived at the conclusion that it is hopeless at present to expect to establish any fixed ratio between cases of congenital deafness and those which have resulted from accident or from disease acquired after birth. Another writer, who is connected with the London School for the Deaf-and-Dumb, states that out of 3,050 well-authenticated cases within his own knowledge, 2,241 were born deaf, 759 resulted from various diseases, and with, respect to 50 no positive information could be obtained; and adding to these the results of 2,805 other cases in different institutions and countries, he concludes that the actual preponderance is about 60 per cent. on the side of the congenitally deaf, while 40 per cent. are accidentally deaf. 22

Causes of congenital mutism

The causes of congenital mutism have engaged the attention of eminent physiologists and pathologists, but they are still enveloped in much obscurity. One thing appears certain, that the organic defect which results in real deafness from birth is always incurable. Among the most common causes assigned for the appearance of congenital deafness in families are fright and morbid mental impressions on the part of the mother during gestation, consanguinity of the parents, and the transmission of the defect itself, or of the predisposition to it, from parents to their offspring.


In the special returns furnished to us by the clergy of Herefordshire respecting the deaf-and-dumb in their parishes, the common reply to the inquiry as to the supposed cause of the defect in the case of congenital mutes was, "the mother attributes it to a fright which she had a few weeks before her confinement, and in some cases the mother attributes it to the impression left on her mind by a former child having been born deaf-and-dumb." Whether morbid impressions on the mind of the mother really do affect the offspring in such a manner as to produce the defect in question is still, we believe, a matter of dispute.

Consanguinity of parents

With regard to deaf-dumbness being a common result of the intermarriage of blood relations, the facts which have been adduced by the Irish Census Commissioners, by Dr. Boudin of Paris, and by other authorities, would seem to place the matter beyond dispute. Mr. Buxton states that in an inquiry which he made from a large number of persons he found 'that in about every tenth case of deaf-dumbness the individuals were the issue of cousins.23 ; that the near relationship of parents should be attended by a certain degeneracy in the offspring is simply in conformity with a well-understood natural law; and where any taint or hereditary predisposition to disease exists, it is almost certain to betray itself in a subsequent generation; hence the long train of mental and physical diseases, including deafness, which may often be traced with certainty from the unoffending offspring to the progenitors. Where the parents are both congenitally deaf there is a great probability that their children will be deaf-mutes; and even where a person born deaf marries a sound person not related, such a marriage would be apt to introduce predisposition, and prove the first step, although perhaps only in a transitive form, for the re-appearance of congenital deafness in succeeding generations. The transmission of mutism, by hereditary taint or family peculiarity must be regarded as an established fact.24

Causes of acquired mutism

Acquired mutism has its most frequent origin in diseases which in early life and before children have learned to speak, either deaden or destroy the sensibility or mechanical arrangement of the ear so as to occasion the defect of deafness of which dumbness is the consequence. Amongst these diseases scarlatina, typhus, small-pox, measles, and epileptic convulsions supervening on dentition, as well as the various forms of cerebral affection, are undoubtedly the most common causes of acquired deafness; but chiefly scarlatina, through which more children are said to become deaf-and-dumb than from any other malady. In districts notorious for the prevalence of zymotic diseases, the fruitful sources of deaf-dumbness continually exist, and whether in crowded towns or in the-open country, wherever the supreme importance of sanitary science and preventive medicine remains unrecognised, the same lamentable results will be produced. The Irish Census Commissioners (1861) furnish the details of 763 cases of acquired mutism the causes of which they classify under three heads: (1) affections acting on the organs of hearing, 146 cases, in 83 of which scarlatina was the assigned cause, while 63 are referred to small-pox, measles, and other maladies; (2) diseases and accidents affecting the brain and nervous system, 383 cases, including 109 referred to fever, 96 to paralysis, 37 to falls, and 45 to fright; and (3) unclassified, 234 cases, in which the most frequently assigned causes are, cold and exposure 39, scrofula 14, and sleeping in the open air 17; but in 158 instances, although attributed to disease or accident of some description, the immediate cause was not specified.25 Mr. Buxton has, in like manner, classified the various causes assigned as having produced loss of hearing in 3,138 children not congenitally deaf who have entered institutions in Europe and America; and although the value of his statement is impaired by the large proportion of cases in which the cause was vaguely stated or unascertained, it affords abundant evidence of the pernicious effects of scarlatina, typhus, and other fevers, and zymotic diseases generally, in producing deaf-dumbness.26 ; These diseases are also frequently mentioned as causes of the affliction in question in the returns furnished to us by the clergy of Herefordshire.

Having thus briefly adverted to the recognised causes of congenital and acquired mutism, we proceed to notice a few of the principal results shown in the tables which specially relate to the deaf-and-dumb.


In Summary Table XXXV. (Vol. II, p. xcv) the ages of the persons of each sex returned as either "deaf-and-dumb" or "dumb" are stated for England and Wales and for each of the eleven statistical divisions in quinquennial periods. Exclusive of those under the speaking age, 3,184 male and 2,427 female mutes—total 5,611—were under 20 years of age; in 1851, the numbers were 2,750 and 2,210—total 4,960. The numbers at the ages from 5 to 10, (viz. 1,773 boys and girls,) and from 10 to 15, (viz. 1,783 boys and girls,) were greater than at any other periods of life. Between 5 and 20 years of age there were 5,056; at ages between 20 and 60 there were 5,809; but only 816, or 6.7 per cent., had reached 60 years of age, the proportion of the general population aged 60 and upwards being 7.4 per cent. In London, which contains the largest school for the deaf-and-dumb in the kingdom, the proportion of youthful deaf-mutes is higher than in any other division.

On comparing the ages of the deaf-and-dumb and of the blind with those of the general population, the most opposite results are shown with respect to these two classes. In the case of the blind, the numbers increase at each period from infancy to old age, after 55 very rapidly, and nearly in the same ratio as the general mortality. Of the deaf-and-dumb, the highest proportions are at the periods of age ranging between 5 and 25 years, and the numbers then gradually diminish as the ages advance.27

Occupations of the deaf-and-dumb

The Summary Table XLIII (Vol. II. p. cii) shows the occupations of the deaf-and-dumb, the number of persons of each sex under and above 20 years of age in each calling being distinguished. It is satisfactory to observe that the heavy calamity under which they labour does not disqualify a large proportion of the 6,841 male and 5,395 female mutes from following a great variety of those pursuits which sweeten the life of man by increasing his usefulness. A few are" engaged in the professions, including 3 in the Civil Service, I conveyancer, 48 artists and engravers, 13 schoolmasters and teachers, 9 schoolmistresses and female teachers. Amongst the male occupations the largest items are,—agricultural labourers and farm servants, 594; labourers, undefined, 227: shoemakers,. 505; tailors, 230; miners, 86; carpenters, 66; cotton manufacture, 57; farmers, 49; blacksmiths, 45; of "children and relatives" 1,855 are returned, besides 832 described as "scholars.;" there are also 106 paupers and 65 lunatics not otherwise returned, and 714 "undescribed" males above 20 years of age. Turning to the occupations of the women and girls, we find 475 dressmakers and seamstresses, 281 domestic servants, 128 laundresses, 75 employed in the cotton manufacture, and 47 charwomen. Only 67 of the women are returned as wives and 16 as widows; the deaf-and-dumb "children and relatives" amount to 1,869, besides 465 described as "scholars;" 124 are paupers, 31 are lunatics, and with respect to 1,269 adults no information is given.

Suitable employments for the deaf-and-dumb

Although the four-sensed can never in many employments successfully compete with persons gifted with all their faculties, the fact can no longer be questioned that the deaf-and-dumb when properly instructed are qualified to take their share in the labours and pursuits of active life; but in order that they may be effectually aided in the effort to support themselves it is requisite that the employments best suited to their capacity should be ascertained. Occupations of a simple and straightforward character which, once acquired, can be executed without the necessity of constant direction, are obviously those which the deaf-mute is best qualified to follow; and this may account for a large number of operatives among them being employed in the trades of tailoring and shoemaking. But it is said that the circle of their pursuits might be greatly enlarged, and that although deficient in the imaginative powers they possess the imitative faculty in such a high degree as would enable them to excel in many handicrafts. Unfortunately a great obstacle to their obtaining work in suitable trades arises from their inability to hold communications with persons who might become their employers.28

Institutions for the education of the deaf-and-dumb

The unhappy condition of the deaf-and-dumb who are not supplied with any artificial means of making their wants and wishes known to others, and who are destitute of the advantages of education, has excited the sympathy of the benevolent in every civilized country, and the efforts of.those who have devoted themselves to their instruction with a view to raise them to the rank of intelligent and useful citizens have been attended with much success. In the year 1760, not long after the celebrated Abbè de l'Epeè had succeeded in awakening attention to the subject in France, a school for of the deaf-and-dumb was established in Edinburgh, by Thomas Braidwood. Some years later Mr. Braidwood removed to Hackney, and the presence of his school so near the metropolis is said to have led to the foundation of the London Asylum, the first public institution for the deaf-and-dumb in the British dominions, in the year 1792. This institution, the largest as well as the oldest of the class in the United Kingdom, has educated upwards of 3,000 persons, and has trained a staff of assistants from whom have been selected the principals of several other establishments; it contained 305 inmates at the time of the Census. Other institutions have sprung up in the more populous parts of the kingdom, and. there are now 11 schools in England containing together about "1,000 pupils; 5 in-Scotland with about 240 inmates, and 7 in Ireland with about 400 inmates, making in all 23 institutions with about 1,640 pupils in Great Britain and Ireland.29 The locality, date of foundation, amount of accommodation, and other particulars concerning the several institutions in England will be found in the subjoined table. There are two or three private schools for deaf-mutes with respect to which we have received no specific information.30

It will be seen on reference to the table that the English institutions for the deaf-and-dumb depend for their support on voluntary contributions, donations, legacies, and annual payments made on behalf of the pupils, la all cases there are restrictions as to the age of admission, and in nearly all the managers are obliged to resort to the objectionable system of admitting the majority of the children after periodical elections by the subscribers,—a system which has the effect of shutting out many deserving objects, besides being attended with useless expense to the friends of the applicants. Nearly all the reports issued from these institutions represent that the funds at the disposal of the managers are inadequate to meet the increasing applications for admission; and earnest appeals are made to the charitable to send in contributions.

Necessity of special instruction

The ordinary means of instruction are in a great measure inapplicable to children whose original condition, as a writer on the subject has remarked, is far worse than that of persons who can "neither read nor write;" for it is that of persons who can neither read, nor write, nor hear, nor speak,—who are unable to ask for information when they want it, and unable to understand what is imparted to them by words.31 Deaf-and-dumb children cannot be grouped with other children in ordinary schools with a reasonable prospect of making much educational progress. The mode of giving them instruction being peculiar, and their mode of receiving it being also peculiar, the necessity for committing them to the care of specially qualified teachers arises precisely as in the case of other children requiring instruction in special subjects, such as drawing or music. From these considerations it may be inferred that the education of deaf-mutes can only be effectually carried beyond the mere rudiments by means of the special schools established for their benefit.

TABLE XXI.—Showing the Number, Locality, and Date of Foundation, with the Amount of Accommodation, of the INSTITUTIONS for the INSTRUCTION of the DEAF-AND-DUMB in ENGLAND

Division Name of Institution Locality When instituted or opened Means of its Support Sexes admitted Accomodation
TOTAL Boys Girls
I. London Asylum for the Support and Education of the Deaf-and-Dumb Children of the poor Old Kent Road, London (With a branch at Margate) In Bermondsey 1792, Old Kent Road, 1809 Voluntary Support, and funded property Both 330 190 140
II. South-Eastern Brighton Institution for the Instruction of Deaf-and-Dumb Children Eastern Road, Brighton 1840 Children's payments, annual subscriptions, donations and legacies. Both 110 55 55
V. South-Western West of England Institution for the Deaf-and-Dumb in the counties of Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset St Leonard's, Exeter 1827 (enlarged in 1862) Payments for children, donations, and subscriptions Both 70 40 30
Institution for the Blind and Deaf-and-Dumb, Bath Walcot Parade, Bath 1843 Voluntary Contributions and payment for pupils Both 27 (Deaf-and-Dumb pupils) 11 16
VI. West-Midland Bristol and Western District Institution for the Deaf-and-Dumb Park Row, Bristol 1841 Voluntary Subscriptions Both 26 16 10
General Institution for the Instruction of Deaf-and-Dumb Children Edgbaston near Birmingham 1812 Subscriptions, donations and payment by the pupils Both 120 60 60
VIII. North-Western Liverpool School for the Deaf-and-Dumb Oxford Street East, Liverpool 1825 (enlarged in 1880) Voluntary Contributions (Including payments of behalf of pupils) Both 90, and 30 or 40day scholars besides 50 40
Manchester School for the Deaf-and-Dumb Old Trafford, Manchester Upper School, 1823 Voluntary Contributions, together with small paymentson behalf of the pupils Both 100 50 50
Infant School, 1860 ditto Both 50 25 25
IX. Yorkshire Yorkshire Institution for the Deaf-and-Dumb Doncaster 1829 Annal Subscriptions, and payments made on behalf of the pupils Both 110 68 42
X. Northern Northern Counties Institution for the Deaf-and-Dumb Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1839, New building, 1861 Subscriptions, donations, legacies and payments for pupils Both 110 60 50
XI. Monmouthshire and Wales Cambrian Institution for the Deaf-and-Dumb Swansea 1841(at Aberystwith) Voluntary contributions and fees of playing pupils Both 27 15 12

It has been contended, however, that the "asylums" and other institutions for deaf-mutes as well as those for the blind, are open to objection, because their inmates are isolated from the world without, and cut off from family and social ties. The authority of the Canon Carton, of Bruges, who has devoted many years to the education of the deaf-and-dumb has been cited in favour of this view; but he has only recommended, that in their early years they should be educated in ordinary schools among children of their own age, before their admission into special institutions.32 The objections urged against these institutions apply equally to hospitals, workhouses, almshouses, and similar establishments, where persons of the same class or suffering under the same disability, are, for reasons of economy and convenience, collected together. Doubtless suchpersons would be better off in well-ordered homes amongst kind and watchful relatives; but we know that advantages are offered to them in public establishments which they could not hope to attain in their often wretched habitations, and although these advantages are obtained at the sacrifice of home ties, the recipients are, upon the whole, great gainers by the removal to institutions where they are no longer a burden to those whose narrow means scarcely enable them to supply their own necessities.


Age at which admitted Period of Instruction or Residence Average Annual Admissions. Number in Institution on 8th April 1861 Number admitted since Foundation or Opening Description of Industrial Education
TOTAL Boys Girls Boys Girls
Between 8and½ and 11and½ years 41 to 5 years — 75 305 172 133 3220 (to March 1863) None - - - None.
Between 7 and 18 years 6 or 7 years 14 90Also Sunday Scholars(Adults). 44 46 230 None (a)- - General housework and sewing.
      10 5 5      
Between 9 and 12, not allowed to remain after 15. 5 or 6 years - - 9 47 29 18 230 (to March 1863). Gardening - - - Household work, sewing,knitting, washing, &c.
Girls from 6to 13 years ; boys, 6 to 10. From 5 to 7 years, or longer if required. 7 27 11 10 135 Basket-making or tailor- ink;. Needlework or housework
Between 7 and 12 years - 6 years - - - 5 23 14 9 Unknown (c) None —- - Needle and housework.
Between 8 and 13 Varies according to cir- cuinstanees. 19 ¿ 107 57 50 549 (to March 1863). Domestic work. No trades are taught. The girls learn plain am fancy needlework., house hold work, ironing mangling, &e, &c.
Between 7 and 14 years - Not specified, but pratically until suitable occupations are found for them. 12 or 13 Boarders, 62(e) Day Scholars 37 41 21 470 Domestic work — Domestic and needlework
        10 18      
Between 8 and 12 years - 5 years ; until fit to be apprenticed to a trade. About 20 94 49 45 604 Occasional work in the garden. Householdwork andneedle work.
Between 3 and 7 years - 5 years, and then ad- About 10 28 19 9 47 None - - - - Plain needlework.
  mitted if desired into the upper school.     -      
Between 9 and 16 years - 5 or 6 years - 18. 30 admitted in 1862. 94 55 39 628 Gardening, printing, and bookbinding, Needlework and domestic work.
Between 7 and 14 years 5 to 7 years - 9 60 36 24 194 Such employment as is afforded in a garden of 2 acres, and on a farm of 4 acres with cows, pigs, &c. Domestic work Sewing, knitting, and household work.
Between 9 and 13 years - 5 years —- 4 or 5 17 11 6 72 None - - - - Household duties and needlework.
    Total - 1001 502 439      

Preparatory education of the deaf-and-dumb

With respect to deaf-and-dumb children, we are inclined to think that more might be done for them in the way of elementary instruction either at home or in ordinary day schools than at present. If assistance were afforded by popular manuals and school books, and if certificated schoolmasters of national schools were encouraged before leaving the training colleges to acquire the simple methods of conveying instruction to deaf-mutes, many of the years during which these children now "vegetate," to use the expression of the Canon Carton, in utter neglect, would be turned to useful account in the acquisition of rudimentary knowledge, and much valuable time would afterwards be saved to the professional teacher. At the ordinary day schools they would not only acquire the habit of order, but would learn to imitate letters and to write the names of many common objects. As the children are upon an average nearly nine years old before they are eligible for admission into the schools for the deaf-and-dumb, the necessity for some preparatory education is apparent.33

Societies for sending children to special institutions

Associated with the institutions are several branch societies, by the agency of which deaf-and-dumb children of the poor are sent to the parent establishments to be educated at the expense of the charitable in their own localities. This is an excellent arrangement, which might with advantage be carried out in all the counties which are without institutions of their own; at present it too frequently happens that the charities in the large towns are burdened with the expense of inmates admitted without payment from distant parts.

We regret to find that the educators of the deaf-and-dumb, like those of the blind, are not agreed in the solution of many important questions connected with the difficult task they have undertaken. The system of lip reading and articulation, the artificial method of teaching the deaf-and-dumb to speak, so warmly advocated by some, has been condemned by others as sheer waste of time and labour; it is said to be gradually falling into disuse in the British institutions, although practised with so much success by Braidwood, Watson, and their immediate followers who made themselves familiar with the nature of speech and the anatomy of the organs employed in the utterance of words. In the United States, where the education of deaf-mutes has been carried to a higher point than has yet been attained in other countries, the system of articulation has been entirely disregarded.34

Small proportion of deaf-and-dumb children under instruction

It is stated on good authority that about 16 per cent., or one in six, of the deaf-and-dumb are of the proper age for instruction at school.35 This proportion of one in six, however, is far from being reached in England, even if every allowance be made for pupils not in the special institutions. Of 12,236 mutes of both sexes, only 1001, or i in 12, were under tuition at the institutions; but in the householders' schedules 829 boys and 463 girls, making together 1,292 under 20 years of age, were entered as "scholars" in conformity with the instruction which required that children, if daily attending school, or receiving regular tuition under a tutor or governess at home, should be so described. As there are very few private schools for the deaf-and-dumb, and they contain only a small number of pupils, the children returned as "scholars" must of necessity include many who were only in attendance at ordinary day schools. Inclusive of these, the number under instruction does not exceed 10.5 per cent., or about 1 in 9 of the deaf-and-dumb. The Guardians of the poor are under a moral if not a legal obligation to send poor deaf-and-dumb children to the special schools, in order that they may become self-sustaining and not burdensome members of the community; and we agree with the Irish Census Commissioners in thinking that this duty should be rendered a compulsory one.

Special inquiry as to deaf-and-dumb in Herefordshire

We have already alluded to the inquiry which through the courtesy of the clergy in Herefordshire we have been enabled to make, as supplementary to the information collected at the Census, into the circumstances connected with the cases of blindness and deaf mutism in the parishes of that county, where the ratio of the blind and of the deaf-and-dumb to the general population is higher than in any other part of England. The facts thus obtained concerning the deaf-and-dumb in Herefordshire do not indeed furnish any solution of the causes of this high ratio,—a solution only to be arrived at after a minute and patient study of a]l the circumstances likely to influence the physical and social condition of the inhabitants; but the details, although confined to a comparatively small number of cases, are nevertheless not devoid of interest.

In a population of 106,796 within the registration limits of Herefordshire in 1861, there were 107 mutes, or 1 in every 1,000 persons. In 1851 the number returned was 94, or 1 in every 1,054 inhabitants. The clergyman of each parish in which any deaf mute was living at the time of the Census was furnished with a form containing the name, age, occupation, and place of abode of the person referred to, and beneath were printed the questions to which answers were desired. We had the satisfaction to receive information, more or less precise, with respect to almost every individual named, except where removal from the parish or death had occurred during the interval between the Census and this.inquiry. Some of the statements furnished by the relatives of the mutes were of course of a vague and hearsay character, while in a few instances it was difficult to obtain correct answers to the questions bearing upon the other members of the family afflicted and the relationship of the parents, but upon the whole the answers appear to be tolerably complete.36

Ages of deaf-and-dumb in Herefordshire

The following are the ages of the individuals of each sex as returned at the Census:—


— ALL AGES, Under 5 Years. 5- 1.0- 15- 20- 40- 60- 80 and upwards. Males 60 1 7 6 5 2.3 16 2 — Females 47 1 5 4 9 19 4 4 1

Thus 38 were between the speaking age and 20 years of age, 62 were between 20 and 60, and 7 were aged 60 and upwards. There is no institution for the deaf-and-dumb in Herefordshire; a few children, therefore, may have been absent in schools at a distance.37 For the sake of convenience, we shall notice the results of the answers to our inquiries in the order in which the latter appeared in the printed forms.

The object of the first question was to ascertain whether the deafness was congenital or acquired. 66 persons, 34 males and 32 females, were stated to have been born deaf; in 23, the defect was attributed to disease or accident; and in 5 cases no information on the subject was obtainable. The ratio of cases of congenital deafness, 70 per cent., is much higher than the supposed average of the whole kingdom; it is well known, however, that acquired mutism is much less common in the rural parts than in the large towns.

Assigned causes of congenital deafness

Our next inquiry had reference to the supposed cause of the defect in persons congenitally deaf, and elicited the following particulars with respect to the 66 individuals so described:—

In 20 cases, the defect was attributed to fright or morbid impressions acting on the mind of the mother during pregnancy38 ; in 7 to hereditary predisposition; in 3 to deafness or illness of mother; and in 3 to the near relationship of parents, —first cousins, in two instances. No cause could be assigned in the 33 remaining cases.

Assigned causes of acquired deafness

The causes of the defect in the case of those whose deafness was produced by disease or accident formed the next head of inquiry, with the following results: —

Affections acting locally on the organs of hearing: —Small-pox 1,
measles 1, scarlatina 4
Diseases and accidents affecting the brain and nervous system: —Fever 2,
water on the brain 1, abscess on do. 1, convulsions 2, epilepsy 1, fall
from a height 2, effect of a cut 1
Unclassified: —scrofula 1, unspecified 6 7

Of these 23 persons, 12 were males and 11 females, and in more than half the cases the disease or accident occurred "in infancy" or before the 3rd year of age; in every case it occurred before the 7th year. The exact year, however, was not always stated.

Family peculiarity

With a view to ascertain the existence of any family peculiarity or hereditary taint, information was sought as to whether any other members of the family were similarly affected. In none of the cases of acquired mutism was there any mention of relatives so affected; but 27 of the persons born deaf were stated to have deaf-and-dumb relatives; viz. —in 2 instances, the mother; in 2 families, two brothers; in 1 family, three brothers; in 5, a brother and a sister; in 1, a brother, a sister, and an uncle; in 1, three sisters; in 1, a brother, a sister, and two distant cousins whose grandfather was first cousin to their grandfather; in 1, an uncle and a brother. In one of the families, three out of six children were deaf-and-dumb, the defect having appeared in alternate children. A few of the returns speak of the parents as unhealthy, or labouring under deformities, &c., and some of the children are illegitimate.

Education of the deaf-and-dumb in Hereford

The following is an abstract of the answers furnished to our inquiry as to whether the deaf-and-dumb persons had been educated, and if so, where: —


  ALL AGES Under 5 Years 5- 10- 15- 20- 40- 60 and upwards
Not educated 69 2 12 6 10 24 8 7
Educated: 9 0 0 2 3 4 0 0
  • At the London Institution
4 0 0 1 0 3 0 0
  • At the Birmingham ditto
1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
  • At the Bristol ditto
1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
  • At the Parish School
4 0 0 0 0 1 3 0
  • Elsewhere
6 0 0 0 0 2 4 0
Not stated 94 2 12 10 13 35 15 7

Thus only 19 out of 94 persons are stated to have received any education either in institutions or elsewhere.

Of 57 adult deaf-and-dumb persons above 20 years of age, 4 of the men and 2 of the women were married, and in 5 instances they had children, none of whom were mutes.

Means of support

The last question had reference to their employments and means of support, and from the answers it appears that out of 94 at all ages, 30 were able wholly or partially to maintain themselves, of whom 16 were agricultural labourers, 1 farmer, 3 needlewomen, 2 living on their means, &c. Including 29 children, 64 were unable to support themselves; of these 13 were supported by relatives, and 10 were paupers. It will be seen that the proportion of the deaf-and-dumb able to support themselves by their own industry is much larger than that of the blind.39

It is a matter of regret that the census inquiry into the number of the deaf-and-dumb in other parts of the country could not have been supplemented by a secondary inquiry of the same nature as that just noticed with respect to Herefordshire. We did not feel justified, however, in taxing the clergy with the laborious task of investigating these cases while the services they rendered were gratuitous; moreover, we had reason to believe that in the populous town districts the plan of procedure which was adopted with success in rural parishes, where nearly every inhabitant is known to the clergyman, would have proved inadequate for the purpose of obtaining such information from persons in all grades of society. We venture to hope, however, that the additional information now afforded by the Census of 1861 with respect to both the blind and the deaf-and-dumb —imperfect as it is, compared with that collected in Ireland,—will throw some light on the important inquiry as to how far these afflictions are inevitable, and how far they are preventible by the progress of sanitary and medical science, and by the avoidance of all those conditions which are likely to favour their development and perpetuation

1 On the Number and Condition of the Blind in Ireland, by W. E. Wilde, M.D., a paper read before the "Congrès International de Bienfaisance" in London, 1862. Dr. Wilde attributes the wide spread result of the workhouse ophthalmia to the "crowding together of multitudes of badly-fed children and young persons in close, ill-ventilated, and unsewered temporary workhouses" at the period of the famine; but he considers the great variability of climate of Ireland and the continuance of easterly winds often far into the summer, to be unfavourable conditions, which, combined with the want of special hospitals for the treatment of diseases of the eye, and the extreme apathy and indifference of the Irish people with regard to these diseases, as well as a certain amount of uncleanliness, contribute to swell the number of the blind. It is due to Dr. Wilde to state that he has himself been largely instrumental in relieving sufferers from this class of diseases amongst the poor in Ireland, St. Clark's hospital for diseases of the eye and ear, having been maintained in active operation in Dublin during sixteen years chiefly through his connexion with the institution, which he has munificently assigned to trustees for the use and advantage of the afflicted poor. It contains 5 wards with 30 beds, and last year relieved 257 in-patients and more than 2,000 out-patients. Pauper patients were received in the institution from 21 Poor Law Unions under the Amended Poor Law Act for Ireland (25 & 26 Vict. c. 83. sect. 7.), which empowers Boards of Guardians in cases requiring special treatment to send inmates of the workhouse to any hospital or infirmary, the managers of which shall be willing to receive such inmates, and to pay the cost of their maintenance and treatment out of the poor rates; these patients were received at the rate of nine-pence per day.

2 TABLE X.—NUMBER and RATIO to POPULATION of the BLIND in the under-mentioned COUNTRIES, according to the latest Returns. (From the Report on the Status of Disease in Ireland, 1861.)

COUNTRIES Number of Blind Ratio to Population COUNTRIES (Cont.) Number of Blind Ratio to Population
Norway 2,759 1 in 540 France 38,413 1 in 938
Sweeden 2,566
1 in 1,419
Savoy 614  
1 in 884
Denmark 1,710
1 in 1,523
Piedmont 5,683  
1 in 887
Prussia 10,205
1 in 1,738
Belgium 3,675  
1 in 1,233
Saxony 1,606
1 in 1,386
Holland 1,990  
1 in 1,663
Hanover 1,196
1 in 1,579
United States of America 12,635  
1 in 2,470
Wertemburg 1,198
1 in 1,436
Newfoundland 86  
1 in 1,426
Hesse Darmstadt 696
1 in 1,231
Nova Scotia 185  
1 in 1,788
Oldenburg 167
1 in 1,720
Prince Edward's Island 43  
1 in 1,880
Bavaria 2,362
1 in 1,986

3 TABLE XI.—NUMBER and PROPORTIOIN of BLIND in DISTRICTS representing the under-mentioned TOWNS
Principle Towns. Registration Districts representing the Towns Population Total Blind Proportion Blind to Population one in
London Registrar General's Limits (Districts 1-36) 2,803,989 2,638 1,063
Liverpool (461) Liverpool, (462) West Derby 495,587 446 1,111
Manchester (472) Salford, (471) Chorlton, (473) Manchester 518,902 393 1,320
Birmingham (395) Aston, (394) Birmingham, (393) Kings Norton 360,492 295 1,222
Leeds (500) Hunslet, (501) Leeds 220,215 183 1,203
Bradford (499) Bradford 196,475 143 1,374
Sheffield (501) Ecclesall Bierlow, (508) Sheffield 192,569 155 1,242
Newcastle (551) Gateshead, (552) Newcastle-on-Tyne 170,378 160 1,065
Huddersfield (497) Hudderfield 131,336 95 1,382
Halifax (498) Halifax 128,673 88 1,462

4 TABLE XIV.—Proportion of the Blind to 100,000 of the General Population at all Ages, and aged 60 Years and Upwards.

Counties Population at all Ages Blind at all Ages Population aged 60 and upwards Blind aged 60 and upwards Blind to 100,000 living
At all Ages Aged 60 and upwards
Cheshire 470,174 391 31,368 161 83 513
Lancashire 2,465,366 1,952 130,626 597 79 457
York (West Riding) 1,530,007 1,181 95,364 495 77 519
Durham 542,125 433 30,793 195 80 633
Bedfordshire 140,479 106 10,626 55 75 518
Survey (Extra-Metropolitan) 273,264 189 20,574 101 69 491
Hereford 106,796 154 10,619 76 144 716
Gloucester 443,535 591 39,160 254 133 649
Cornwall 364,848 503 31,678 244 138 770
Devon 589,385 771 56,707 418 131 737
Dorset 182,193 209 16,630 109 115 655
Wilts 236,027 276 23,072 150 117 650
Norfolk 427,466 552 44,074 258 129 585
Suffolk 335,409 374 32,770 190 112 580

5 Aged 80 and upwards,—male population 47,260, of whom were blind 840; female population 65,990, of whom were blind 1,5

6 See Vol. II., Summary Table XLI, p. c.

7 According to a Return, ordered by the House of Commons to be printed in 1861, of the adult paupers who had been inmate workhouses during a continuous period of five years and upwards, blindness was assigned in 428 instances, and "bad sight" in instances as the reason why the pauper in each case was unable to maintain himself or herself. Many others were returned "aged, nearly blind."—Parl. Ret., No. 490, Session 1801.

8 See Vol. II., Summary Table XLIL, p. ci.4

9 In the Report of the School for the Indigent Blind in St. George's Fields, London, for 1862, we read: "Few of those who study music learn much in the school-room or workshop, and great difficulty exists in procuring situations for blind organists. * * * * The pupil who becomes a good musician, and is able at once to command employment, may do well; but if from lack of talent or other causes he is unable to find employment as a musician, or to gain his living at a trade, he will probably become a burden to his friends."

10 The late Dr. T. Bull, who was himself deprived of sight during the last eight years of his life, wrote as follows: "Those truly born blind are very few in number. Not one case came under my notice during a professional life of more than 25 years in London, although physician for the greater part of that period to a lying-in institution, averaging more than 1,000 cases annually; nor do I remember a single one to have occurred in the practice of a large circle of medical friends."—The Sense Denied and Lost, by T. Bull, M.D., p. 7.

11 See Appendix, Table 135, p. 165. The following are the ratios of the blind and the born blind to the total population in the eleven divisions of England, arranged according to the prevalence of blindness —


REGISTRATION DIVISIONS Proportion to Population; Blind; One in Proportion to Population; Born Blind; One in Born Blind to Total Blind; One in REGISTRATION DIVISIONS Proportion to Population; Blind; One in Proportion to Population; Born Blind; One in Born Blind to Total Blind; One in
5 South-western Counties 793 8,195 10 .3 3 South-midland Counties 1,052 11,671 11 .1
4 Eastern Counties 902 8,656 9 .6 1 London 1,063 11,932 11 .2
11 Welsh Counties 938 16,410 17 .5 10 Northern Counties 1,133 12,120 10 .7
6 West-midland Counties 961 9,746 10 .2 9 Yorkshire 1,146 9,552 8 .3
7 North-midland Counties 1,025 10,070 9 .8 2 South-eastern Counties 1,163 14,435 12 .4
All ENGLAND 1,037 10,870 10 .5 8 North-western Counties 1,253 11,649 9 .3

12 The difference in the ratios is still greater when Herefordshire is compared with Staffordshire and Warwickshire, in the same group of counties (West Midland division):— One in One: Blind, to population in Herefordshire - - 693 Deaf-and-Dumb, to population in Herefordshire - 998 ? ? Staffordshire - - 1,099 ? ? Staffordshire - 1,831 ? ? Warwickshire - - 1,194 ? ? Warwickshire - 1,840

13 Amongst the accidents mentioned are the following: "blindness produced by an acrid weed blowing into his eye while attending a thrashing machine;" "from a grain of corn flying into his eye, the other eye having failed from sympathy;" "from a thorn having entered his eye while hedging;" "from the lashing of his eyes by the bough of a tree whilst at his business as a game-keeper;" "from a blow in the eye whilst breaking stones;" "one eye lost in boyhood during play, the other at the age of 45 in consequence of a cold after washing sheep."

14 TABLE XVII.—Showing the MEANS of SUPPORT of 129 BLIND PERSONS in HEREFORDSHIRE, as stated in the Returns furnished by the Clergy

  Age at the Date of the Census TOTAL
Under 20 Years 20 and under 60 60 and upwards
Can wholly or Partially support themselves M F M F M F M F
Living on their Means . . . 2 . 4 . 6
Farmer . . 1 . . . 1 .
Ironmonger . . 1 . . . 1 .
Basket-Maker . . 2 . . . 2 .
Basket-Maker and Inn-Keeper . . 1 . . . 1 .
Hallier . . 1 . . . 1 .
Carrier with donkey-cart . . 1 . . . 1 .
Organists (a) . . 2 . . . 2 .
Rug-Weaver . . 1 . . . 1 .
Hair-Dresser (by means of an assistant) . . . . 1 . 1 .
Agricultural Labourers (with parish relief in winter) . . 2 . . . 2 .
Fancy Knitting (with parish relief) . . . 1 . . . 1
Spinning . . . 1 . . . 1
Supported by Parochial relief. 5 1 10 13 18 23 38 37
By annuity from Hetherington's Charity . . 1 . 3 3 4 3
By annuity from other Charities . . . . 1 1 1 1
Supported by relatives 6 1 2 3 4 6 12 10
Supported by relatives, with parochial aid . . 1 . 1 . 2 .
By annuity from former master . . . . 1 . 1 .
Alms man,-woman . . . . 1 1 1 1
Army Pensioners . . . . 2 . 2 .
Total 11 26 20 32 38 69 60

15 The support of 22 institutions for the deaf and dumb in the United States, with 2,000 pupils, costs not far from 350,000 dollars (£70,000) annually, of which as much as 300,000 dollars are appropriated by the legislatures of 29 States, and provision for the instruction of the deaf and dumb, in some cases restricted to the indigent, in others made free to all, is made by law in all the States, except in a few sparsely settled ones. Legislative assistance is also largely given to the institutions for the blind. See Mr. Kennedy's Preliminary Report on the 8th Census of the United States.

16 The North of England Manufactory for the Blind, at Sheffield, employs 29 workers, whose earnings average about 7s. per week, but it is not an educational institution.

17 It is stated that the price of the New Testament printed by Moon's system is 4l . 2s. 6d. , by Frère's system (phonetic), 2l . 10s. ; by the systems of Lucas, Gall, and Alston, about 2l .; and by Howe's system, adopted in America in 1836, 165. The first three mentioned employ arbitrary characters, the others either Roman numerals or common letters.

18 One of the most earnest advocates of measures for the intellectual improvement and moral elevation of the blind, Mr. John Bird, M.R.C.S., himself afflicted with blindness, observes on this subject:—

"The permanent form of relief type for the blind will not be invented till the earnest and inquiring educated blind of matured years shall be consulted, and their opinions, reasons, and objections shall be delivered and submitted to the judgment of a competent body of educated and disinterested philanthropists"

Contributions to Social Pathology, London 1862. 2d Ed., p. 21.

19 TABLE XIX.—SEX and AGE of 30 PERSONS who were described as BLIND and DEAF-AND-DUMB (DUMB) also

County Sex Age Occupation (if any) How described
Middlesex M 30 Pauper Blind, deaf-and-dumb
.. M 41 .. Ditto
Oxford F 61 .. Ditto
Essex M 86 Formerly agric. labr Ditto
.. M 40 .. Blind and Dumb
Norfolk F 35 .. Blind, Deaf-and-Dumb
Wilks M 61 Formerly agric. labr Ditto
Dorset M 5 .. Blind and dumb
Cornwall M 20 .. Blind from birth, and dumb
.. F 9 .. Blind from birth, and dumb
.. F 43 Pauper Blind, deaf-and-dumb
Somerset M 6 .. Blind, deaf-and-dumb (idiot)
Gloucester F 23 Pauper Blind from birth, deaf-and-dumb
Hereford F 88 Annuitaut Blind, deaf-and-dumb
Salop F 12 .. Ditto
Stafford F 19 Pauper Blind from birth, deaf-and-dumb
Lincoln M 10 .. Blind from birth, dumb
.. M 14 .. Ditto
.. M 47 Formerly Engine Driver Blind and dumb
Lancashire M 11 Scholar Blind, deaf-and-dumb
.. M 12 .. Blind from birth, dumb
.. M 37 .. Blind, deaf-and-dumb (idiot)
.. M 34 Formerly Mason Blind, deaf-and-dumb
.. F 7 Scholar Blind from birth, deaf-and-dumb
York, W.R M 6 .. Blind and Dumb
.. M 9 .. Ditto
.. F 55 .. Blind, deaf-and-dumb
Wales F 4 .. Blind from birth, and dumb
.. F 40 .. Blind, deaf-and-dumb (idiot)
.. F 78 Pauper Blind, dead-and-dumb

20 This ratio for the United Kingdom may be compared with the following statements which have been collected by the Irish Census Commissioners, and published in their Report: and Tables on the Status of Disease in Ireland, 1861:—

  Deaf-and-Dumb to population   Deaf-and-Dumb to population
France 1 in 1,671 Wurtemburg 1 in  901
Belgium 1 " 2,277 Denmark 1 " 1,920
Holland 1 " 2,714 Sweden 1 " 1,360
Hanover 1 " 1,450 Norway 1 " 1,200
Prussia 1 " 1,334 Piedmont 1 "  563
Saxony 1 " 1,629 Savoy 1 "  443
Bavaria 1 " 1,774  

21 Of 4,930 deaf-and-dumb persons (exclusive of 723 dumb not deaf), the Irish Commissioners return 4,010 as congenital deaf-mutes, and, adding a portion of 186 persons the cause of whose infirmity was either uncertain or unknown, and also allowing for young children under the speaking age, they increase the number to 4257. These numbers give the large proportion of 86 per cent. of congenital cases, against 14 per cent. from accident or disease acquired after birth.

22 On the Constitution of the Deaf-and-Dumb. —By James Hawkins, London, 1863.

23 An Inquiry into the Causes of Deaf-Dumbness, a paper read before the Liverpool Medico-Chirurgical Society, Jan. 1857, by D. Buxton, F.R.S.L., Principal of the Liverpool School for the Deaf-and-Dumb. Mr. Buxton gives the result ascertained with respect to the offspring of 310 deaf-and-dumb persons, each of whom married a person not deaf-and-dumb, and the proportion of deaf-mutes in the whole of these families was 1 in 135, less than three fourths per cent. But in the case of 303 deaf-and-dumb men married to as many deaf-and-dumb women, 1 in every 20 of their offspring (5 per cent.) was a deaf-mute.

24 The well-known tendency of congenital mutism to run in families has been strikingly illustrated by the facts ascertained by the Irish Census Commissioners. One instance was mentioned in 1851, in which the grandfather, the father, and four grandchildren were all deaf-and-dumb; and in many other cases a plurality of relatives were affected. Prom a Table given in the Report on the Status of Disease far 1861 it appears that in 211 instances of congenital mutism, including 320 persons belonging to families some of the previous members of which were mute, 187 persons were born deaf-and-dumb where the disease came through the male parent, and 133 where the defect was transmitted through the female line. In one case of two mutes in the same family it was found that an uncle, cousins (number unspecified), three nephews, and two nieces were also deaf-and-dumb. In another case the relationship of the persons similarly affected included a grandfather, father, uncles, aunts, and cousins. The Commissioners remark,—

"When, however, one of a family is born deaf-and-dumb, even without hereditary predisposition, or in which there was no relationship between the parents, not only are those descended from such a marriage liable to mutism, even after the intermission of a generation, but collateral branches of the same family occasionally-exhibit the disease", p. 20.

It was found that in 357 instances in Ireland there had been born two mutes in each family, in 159 instances three mute children born of the same parents, in 36 instances four mute children, in 13 instances five mute children; six mutes in a family occurred five times, and in one case there were no less than seven mutes born of the same parents, the sexes being two males and five females. An instance is also mentioned of a family of eight mutes born of the same parents who were third cousins.—Status of Disease for 1861, p. 18. In the little work of Mr. Hawkins, already cited, several instances of the transmission of mutism in families are given.

25 Status of Disease in Ireland for 1861, pp. 25-6.

26 The following is condensed from a table in Mr. Buxton's excellent paper "An Inquiry into the causes of deaf-dumbness: "—

1. Affections acting locally on the organ of hearing, including scarlatina (448 cases), measles (123), ulcers (generally scrofulous or syphilitic), &c., of head, ears, and throat (238) 869
2. Diseases and accidents affecting the brain and nervous system, including typhus and other fevers (441 cases), fits and epilepsy (280), falls, blows, and other accidents (174), fight (86) 1,119
3. Other causes, including colds and rheumatism (130 cases), inflammation, &c. (183), various diseases and accidents unknown or doubtful (837) 1,150
Total 3,138


YEARS of AGE To every 100,000 living at each age
Males Females Males Females
ALL AGES— 104.8 88.5 70.0 52.4
0— 21.6 17.5 21.9 19.2
5— 27.8 23.4 85.2 66.1
10— 41.8 31.3 98.4 70.8
15— 49.7 36.5 83.6 59.9
25— 74.7 42.2 73.3 52.6
35— 104.0 62.7 68.1 47.1
45— 148.8 101.4 67.2 54.8
55— 263.4 216.6 64.7 54.6
65— 558.3 504.3 59.9 49.4
75— 1216.6 1233.4 55.6 43.2
85 and up 2468.5 2321.9 61.5 63.1

28 In a paper On the means of improving the social condition of the Deaf-and-Dumb among the lower orders, by the Rev. R. G. Baker, Vicar of Fulham, read at the London meeting of the Congrès international de bienfaisance, June 1862, the reverend gentleman forcibly points out that in providing for the welfare of this class the work has hitherto been confined to the instruction of their earlier years, the fact that they require a helping hand to obtain suitable situations being lost sight of. Mr. Baker states that they make efficient workmen as engravers, wood-carvers, bookbinders, watchmakers, iron and tinplate-workers, gold-beaters, cabinet-makers, and coopers; and the girls and women as milliners and dress-makers, bookfolders, tailors, and laundresses. It will be seen by the Table of Occupations referred to in the text that many of the deaf-and-dumb were engaged in these trades and employments at the time of the Census.

29 Several of the Principals of the existing institutions, like their predecessors the Braidwoods and Watsons, have by their practical writings rendered good service to the deaf-and-dumb; besides Mr. Buxton, of Liverpool, from whose works we have quoted, we may mention Dr. Scott, of the Exeter School, and Mr. Baker, of the Doncaster School. Nor should we omit to notice the valuable labours of Dr. Peet, of the New York Institution, and other American instructors of the deaf-and-dumb

30 The Irish Census Commissioners have ascertained that there were last year in foreign countries the following number of schools for the deaf-and-dumb:—In France 2 imperial and 44 others; Belgium, 5; Bavaria, 9; Hanover, 4; Wurtemberg, 3; Hesse Darmstadt, 2; Switzerland, 9; Austria, 15 (with 741 pupils); Saxony, 2; Holland, 3; Sweden, 1 j Prussia, 25; Savoy, 1; Russia, 2; United States of America, 22, with 2,000 pupils. Status of Disease, 1861, p. 28. Mr. Kennedy, in his preliminary Report on the 8th Census of the United States, observes "the support of these 22 institutions costs not far from $ 350,000 annually, of which, as much as $300,000 is appropriated by the legislatures of 29 States. Provision for the education of the Deaf-and-Dumb, in some cases restricted to the indigent, in others made free to all, is made by law in all the States except the sparsely settled ones." A State provision for the same object exists in France, Belgium, Austria, Prussia, Russia, and in several other European countries.

31 Chamber's Encyclopaedia, Art. "Deaf-and-Dumb," by Mr. D. Buxton.

32 See a paper entitled De I'abandon dans lequel vegète le petit sonrd-muet avant son admission dans les institutions spéciales, par M. le Chanoine Carton, in the transactions of the "Congrès International de bienfaisance." Session of 1862. "Vol. I. p. 302.

33 Deaf-and-Dumb children may be taught the formation of letters on a slate long before they are capable of doing anything else and such an acquirement is of the greatest assistance to them when they are sent to school. After they have learnt thoroughly the names of a given number of simple visible objects, as man, boy, woman, girl, body, head, arm, leg, &c. , they should be taught by the same manner as they learnt these names to qualify them as tall man, short woman, &c."—Hawkins On the Constitution of the Deaf-und-Dumb, p. 86.

34 It is said that the question of teaching articulation upon which such opposite views are held is really one of expense more time, and a larger staff of assistants than the moderate means of the institutions generally could afford, being required where it is systematically taught. At the Columbia Institution for tie instruction of the Deaf-and-Dumb and the Blind at Washington, founded in 1857 under the provisions of an Act of Congress, it is intended to afford deaf-mutes the means of acquiring a collegiate' education to qualify them as instructors, and to enable them to engage in pursuits and occupations usually beyond the reach of persons in their condition; the pupils are instructed according to the French system, improved and introduced into America by Dr. Gallaudet.

35 Chambers'Encyclopaedia, Art. "Deaf-and-Dumb."

36 The following questions were printed on the form, a blank space against each, having been left for the answer: —

  1. Was the above-named person born deaf-and-dumb, or did he become so afterwards ?
  2. If born so, to what cause is the defect attributed by the friends or relatives; whether to fright, hereditary predisposition, or the near relationship of parents, such as the intermarriage of cousins ?
  3. If he became deaf-and-dumb since birth, at what age did he become so; and to what cause or disease has the defect been attributed ?
  4. Are any other members of the family, parents or grand-parents, brothers or sisters, deaf-and-dumb?
  5. If the person is educated, please to state where, and by what means, the education was acquired
  6. If married, how many children has he, and have any of them been either mute from birth, or subsequently from accident or disease?
  7. In what occupation has he lately been employed, and has he been able to support himself?

37 The pauper lunatic asylum for Hereford and three other counties is situated in Monmouthshire.

38 Amongst the instances of "fright" to which the defect in their children was attributed by the mothers were these:—"A fright from the fire of a neighbouring cottage that was burnt down;"—"fright before the child was born, at seeing a neighbour suddenly struck down by paralysis;"—"frightened by a dog before the child's birth;"—"a great fright a short time before he was born; a little girl jumped on her back while she was washing;"—"the impression left on the mother's mind by a former child having been born deaf-and-dumb." In one instance the clergyman remarks,—"the mother had a great fright before the birth of the first child; this fright was destructive to the faculties of the first child (now aged 40), who can neither speak, nor walk, nor feed himself; quite an idiot. The effect extended seriously to the second, who is weak in intellect as in body, and liable to fits; slightly to the third, who can scarcely talk intelligibly; but little to the fourth; no great defect, but weak; and scarcely at all to the fifth, a shoemaker, who maintains himself, wife, and child." It may well be doubted whether the cause assigned for the condition of this family is the correct one.

39 See Table XXIV. p. 65.

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