An Interview With Laura Bridgman





We presume most of our readers will have read of Laura Bridgman, who is

without any perfect sense except that of touch. A correspondent of the

"Christian Union" gives an interesting account of an afternoon spent

with her, from which we make the following abstract:--



If any one supposes that by reason of her deprivation she is queer or

awkward in person or manners, he is altogether in error. There is

nothing at all singular in her appearance. When I entered the parlour, a

member of the family with whom she lives was playing on the piano, and

close behind her, on a low seat, there was a very slight, very erect,

quiet, self-possessed looking person, who seemed to be listening to the

music, while her hands were busy over some crocheting or some similar

work. She would have been taken for a guest who was fashioning some

pretty article whilst being entertained with music. The expression of

her face was bright and interested; and one watching her satisfied look

would have been slow to believe that she did not hear. The green shade

over her eyes indicated that she was one of the blind. She had on a

brown dress, a blue ribbon at the neck, a gold ring and chain, and a

watch or locket in her belt--a neatly attired, genteel, lady-like

person, looking about thirty-five (though her age is not far from

forty-four), with soft, brown hair, smooth and fine, a well shaped head,

fair complexion, and handsome features. That was Laura. As soon as she

learned that she had a visitor who knew people in the town where her

nearest kindred live, she came swiftly across the room, leaving her work

on the centre table as she passed it, and grasped my hand, laughing with

the eagerness of a child. Then she sat down face to face with the lady

who has charge of her, and commenced an animated conversation, by the

manual alphabet, easily understood by one who has practised it; but the

slight-of-hand by which the fingers of the friendly hostess,

manipulating on Laura's slender wrists, communicated with that living

consciousness shut in there without one perfect sense except of taste

and touch, was something mysterious, inscrutable to my duller sense. Yet

that the communication was definite, quick, missive, so to speak,

manifest enough, for Laura's face beamed, and she was all alert. Partly

by the letters and partly by signs she said a great deal to me. She

"ought to be at home to be company for mother," she said; and, once or

twice, she fashioned the word "Mamma" very distinctly with her lips. She

asked if I knew a member of her family now dead, and said "that was a

long year after Carl died." She seemed brimming over once with things to

tell me, and wanted me to know about her teaching some of the blind

girls to sew, which she takes great pride in, threading the needle, and

making her pupils pick out their work if it is not done nicely. She is a

good seamstress herself, does fancy work, and can run a sewing machine.

Next, she caught hold of my hand and led me up two flights of stairs to

her room to shew me her things; but the first movement was to take me to

the window, where she patted on the glass and signified that I should

see what a pleasant prospect there was from it. And there she, who had

never seen or heard, waited by my side in great content while I looked

and listened. Yet her face was radiant, and she stood there as if she

both saw and heard. I wish I could bring before all those who are

discontented with their lot, repining because God has withheld something

from them or taken something away, the cheerful face of this lady, who

has so little, but who accepts it as though she had all, who has never

seen a human countenance or heard a human voice, who in the infinite

glory and beauty of this outward world has no part, shut in by herself

in that silent, dark, unchanging, awful loneliness. Next she showed me

how springy her bed was. Then she took off my shawl, and showed me all

the pretty things and conveniences she had in her room, opening every

box and drawer, and displaying the contents. Her jet chain she laid

against her neck, her bows and collars and embroidered hand-kerchiefs

were taken up one by one, and deftly replaced in their proper

receptacles. Her writing materials, sewing implements, little

statuettes, trinkets, large Bible--I had to see them all. Lastly she

took out a sheet of paper, pressed it down on a French writing-board,

examined the point of the pencil, and wrote her autograph, "God is love

and truth. S. N. Bridgman." And then from her needle-case and spool-box

produced a cambric needle and fine cotton, and showed me how to thread a

needle, which was done by holding the eye against the tip of her tongue,

the exquisite nicety of touch in it guiding her to pass the thread

through. It was done in an instant, though it seemed impossible to do it

at all, and then she presented me the threaded needle triumphantly,

having secured it by slipping a knot. Going down to the parlour again,

she told me how kind it was in Dr. Howe to fit her up such a pretty

room; and then I must go into the school room, whither she led me by the

hand, and introduced me to several of her friends among the pupils, and

when I took my departure she would have the teacher go with me to the

door to tell me which car to take.





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