Drunken Billy





A poor deaf and dumb man, who might be said to be entirely friendless in

the world until the Institution of the Deaf and Dumb was formed at

Derby, was continually in trouble, owing to his intemperate habits.

"Drunken Billy," as he was called by some, had however a tender place in

his heart, and we frequently visited him at his lodgings and assisted

him in various ways. After a time Billy was persuaded to sign the

temperance pledge, and began to attend the lectures and services for the

adult deaf and dumb. For a time all went well, but one hot summer day

one of his fellow workmen, who ought to have known better, knowing that

Billy had signed the temperance pledge, offered him a shilling if he

would drink a glass of ale he held in his hand. The temptation was too

strong for Billy to resist, and having taken one, it was not easy for

him to resist a second, and in the end poor Billy got taken up by the

police. The head master of the Institution at Derby appeared, by

request, to interpret the evidence, and it transpired that Billy had

been sent to prison in the same month, June, each year, for the seven

previous years. The magistrates however expressed their reluctance at

sending Billy to prison, and asked him, through the interpreter, if he

would try and keep sober, and if he would again sign the pledge; this he

promised to do, and the magistrates on the bench not only dismissed the

case, but each became subscribers of one guinea annually to the Deaf and

Dumb Institution. Billy, true to his promise kept sober, and again

attended the services for the deaf and dumb, and when nearly 70 years of

age gave a brief lecture of his "Life's Experiences" to the deaf and

dumb, which caused considerable amusement, especially his remarks about

Derby fifty years ago. Billy was always thankful for the help rendered

him by the Institution, and frequently said "If he might have his way he

would be glad to die and get to heaven where he could hear." Poor

Billy's life was a hard one, for death took a good wife and four little

ones during the first ten years of his wedded life, and one by one the

whole of his relations passed away. Billy has now done with temptation,

and recently passed away to the majority, his last remarks bearing

testimony to the value of the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb.





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