Health, Medicine, and Society in Victorian England

By Mary Wilson Carpenter | Go to book overview

6

Deafness

There are, at this time, 32 poor children, male and female, receiving
education and maintenance; they are all deaf and were totally dumb:
being introduced, the company (among whom were many of the
Clergy) had auricular and ocular proof that they are now taught to
speak, read, write, cipher, and comprehend the meaning and applica-
tion of words; whereby they are raised from the low condition of mere
automata to that of intellectual beings, capable of holding intercourse
with their fellow rationals, and of forming suitable notions of their
duty and expectations as reasonable creatures and Christians.1

In the year 1799, on the seventh anniversary of the London Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb, between three hundred and four hundred gentlemen who were assembled at the London Tavern at Bishopsgate Street beheld an exhibition that they regarded as little short of miraculous. Children who had been born deaf or who had been deafened before they learned to talk (now termed prelingual deafness) demonstrated their ability to read, write, do arithmetic, and even speak aloud. At a later anniversary exhibition, some of the children were reported to have actually “stood upon the tables, and pronounced a few lines, as an address to their benefactors, with a propriety and feeling that excited wonder and admiration.”2

Until 1792 there was no school anywhere in Britain for poor children who had been born deaf or deafened by disease or accident at so early an age that language was either never learned or what had been learned was lost because the child’s speech was no longer reinforced by hearing others

-108-

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Health, Medicine, and Society in Victorian England
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Series Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Chronology xv
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Practitioners and Patients in Victorian England 9
  • 2 - Cholera 34
  • 3 - Tuberculosis 54
  • 5 - Smallpox 91
  • 6 - Deafness 108
  • 7 - Blindness 128
  • 8 - Victorian Women as Patients and Practitioners 149
  • Glossary 177
  • Notes 181
  • Bibliography 193
  • Index 203
  • About the Author 215
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