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American Asylum.But the glory of Hartford, and indeed that of the United States, is the American Asy. lum, for the education of the deaf and dumb. This asy. lum was incorporated in 1816; the first establishment of the sort, in the United States, and the parent of those since established, in Philadelphia and New-York. Hav. ing mentioned those asylums, now, the third time in these sketches, a brief historical outline of the art by which these unfortunate beings are instructed, may not be unwelcome to the reader. "Some years ago, a lady of Paris had two daughters that were deaf and dumb. Fa ther Farnin, a member of the Society of Christian Doc. trines, being acquainted with the lady, called at her house one day when she was out: he found no one in the house but the two deaf and dumb young ladies, and addressed several questions to them, not knowing their misfortune, to all of which they returned no answer, but studiously pursued their work, without even lifting their cyes to look at him. He attributed their silence to contempt, and withdrew in a passion, when meeting their mother at the door, he learned the cause of their silence. The circumstance filled him with emotions of pity, and from that moment he resolved to exert himself in teaching them to read and write. Death, however, surprised him before he had attained any degree of success. The first conception of a great man is generally a fruitful one. The attempt was brought to perfection under the amiable Abbe Sicard. Some few years since, the Rev. Mr. Gallaudet, a citizen of New-England, and a gentleman of distinguished merit and classical attainments, went first to England, and then to Scotland, with a view of acquiring the art of teaching the deaf and dumb. Meeting with no encouragement at either of those places, he went to France, were he was received with great kindness and respect, by Abbe Sicard. The doors of the
school were thrown open to him, and being familiar with the French language, he soon returned to this country, qualified for the purpose, and bringing with him Laurent Clerc, one perfect in the science, himself being deaf and dumb. They arrived in August, 1816, and the asylum was opened in 1817. The progress of the institution has been beyond conception :-it is patronized by the United States, and many private gentlemen, among which I find the name of the amiable Gen. Van Rensselaer, of Albany. It is under the direction of a president, and twelve vice-presidents, for life, who are gentlemen of the first respectability in the United States. I found about 70 pupils in the asylum, some of whom were engaged in mechanical pursuits. I saw several specimens of their work, which were equal to any performed by other mechanics, such as shoes and cabinet work; but chiefly I was surprised at their literary attainments. Mr. Laurent Clerc, took me into his department, where there were about 30 pupils. He communicated to them my name, place of residence, and my pursuits. While he was doing this, their eyes were fixed on him with deep. attention, and the moment he had finished, each turned to his or her slate, and in the twinkling of an eye, I saw my name, the state I was from, &c. written in a fair, legible hand; and out of the thirty there was but one letter wrong. I examined several of them, myself, by means of a slate, upon geography, grammar, history, &c. and found them perfect. The asylum is built of brick, on the finest situation in the city. It stands upon a lofty eminence which commards an extensive view of the surrounding country. The building is amazing large, and handsomly divided into separate apartments. This institution received from congress 23,000 acres of land, lying in Alabama, and many of the states have contribut ed to its success, besides private donations; yet there are no free pupils taken in here, as at Philadelphia and New-York: this astonished me. Each pupil must pay for tuition and board, $150. A great falling off from the benevolence of New-York and Philadelphia: but they are large cities. Several of the male pupils are of the learning trades, such as shoe-makers and cabinet-makers.
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A number of shops stand round the building, where they attend to their business. This arrangement will be at tended with much inconvenience, as some want to learn one trade, and some another; scarcely any two of them wishing to learn the same trade; 'so that they must have nearly as many instructors as pupils. Several speci. mens of their composition were shown to me, one of which is the following:
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"The thanks of the Deaf and Dumb to the Public.-In the United States there were a great number of schools for children; but there were none places of instruction for the deaf and dumb. All the parents thought that their deaf and dumb sons and daughters were impossi ble to learn how to read and write, and were grieved with them. Fortunately the Kind Being brought Mr. Gallaudet to France; on the purpose for learning how to teach the deaf and dumb. When Mr. Gallaudet ap plied to Mr. Clerc to come to this country, and incited Mr. Clerc to think those poor deaf and dumb had no idea of God and Christ, and then his consent made Mr. Gal laudet pleasant. They came to the western country by water and arrived in it. They prayed to the citizens and countrymen to give them money for the Asylum and the generous contributed to the helps of the American Asylum. It was worthy that they were benevolent; so that all the deaf and dumb are thankful to them and think God will prompt the citizens and send the rain to pour out over the farms of the countrymen; to provide them fruits and live in happiness. We are sorry that they visit the Asylum but little; before they came frequently to attend schools, and if they pass through Hartford and stay at the hotel, they should come to see it; that they might wouder at seeing the deaf and dumb writing on slates and talking to each other by making signs."
Mr. Gallaudet lives in a handsome house, near the asylum, and has married one of the dumb pupils, (a wise choice ;) she is very handsome, with one of the most expressive faces in creation! Mr. Laurent Clerk, has married another of the pupils, likewise a very hands Rome female; she is a sister of Mr. Boardman, of Huntsville, editor of the Alabama Republican. I spent
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an evening at their house in Hartford, conversing with thein by signs and by means of a slate. They are both people of no common information, and possessed of easy and engaging manners. They had a very beautiful child of between two and three years old, who could talk fast enough, but it was amusing to see it hold communication with its parents by signs. They seemed very fond of it though it stood in great awe of its father. Mr. Gallaudet also had one child, though it was not old enough to talk. I would advise all gentlemen who wish to avoid a scolding wife, to go to the American Asylum, where I can assure them they will find a great deal of good sense, as well as beauty. I never did see so great a number of rieved interesting females together.
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Manners and Appearance. From what I had heard of Hartford in the western country, I expected to find a set of sour, contracted, bigoted, Pharisaical, illiberal men; the result proved quite the reverse. In their manners they are affable, open, liberal, and sociable; many of them are people of the first learning and talents. How then could they be bigoted? For politeness and easiness of address, they are inferior to no town I have visited. The ladies in these states are universally handsome as respects shape, countenance, and complexion. The ladies of Hartford, however, have a slight tinge of meland think choly in their countenance; it is softened by a shade of placid tranquility. They are very delicate; but the men, particularly the laboring class, are stout and well made. They have not advanced so far yet as to countenance a theatre, though they have a circus, the next step to it. I have no doubt, but in a few years, they will extend their rational amusements as far as the stage, which may perhaps be the means of saving them from the effects of an evil which seems to threaten their morals with a total overthrow; I mean the too free use of spirit. uous liquors, an evil which is making fearful strides throughout, the Atlantic country, and especially in port Many a man, for want of amusement goes to the og shop. Whiskey in the west, and gin in the eastern of states, is to be the Cæsar of America.
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Amongst the number of those whose claims to partic ular attention are indisputable, appears our distinguished country woman Mrs. Sigourney, one of the brightest ornaments of the present age. To her we are indebted for some of the finest specimens of poetry. She is the wife of C. Sigourney, of Hartford, a gentleman of repu tation, and easy fortune. This lady is richly endowed by nature, of rare personal beauty, a vigorous mind and native talent, improved far beyond her sex. But these are trifling qualities compared with her unbounded char ities; diffusing comfort and pleasure to all around her ; I do not know a more enviable female. Mrs. S. is above the common height of females, not too tall, she is slender with well proportioned limbs; her complexion is ruddy, with hair as black as a raven, with the finest black eye, and teeth as white as ivory. Her counte nance is animated with a pleasant smile, her cheek bedecked with blushes; she shrinks from the homage paid to her virtue. She is the mother of several children, (as I have been told,) though she does not appear to be more than twenty-five years old. I found her engaged in the domestic concerns of her family; she received me with that sort of cordiality which tended no little to enhance the accounts 1 had received from others. I am told she is a writer of the first class in our country, but extremely averse to being known as such. Hartford seems to be a favorite soil of the feminine virtues ; few cities can boast a greater number of exemplary females, I shall mention but one other family and conclude. will be recollected that with the clergy of Albany, I mentioned Dr. C. speaking of him to a lady in this city, she observed that an uncle of the Doctor's lived in Hartford, and that I must not fail to call on the family, speaking of them in the highest terms of respect. Accordingly 1 called at Mr. Chesters that evening, and was met at the door by Mr. C. himself. He saluted me with all the ease and warmth of an old acquaintance, and invited me to walk up stairs, where he introduced me to his family; but such a family I never saw before, or ever expect to sec again.