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New York State Asylum For Idiots, Second Annual Report Of The Trustees

Creator: n/a
Date: February 10, 1853
Source: Steve Taylor Collection

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Nor has the success that has already attended the labors of instruction in this case been the only reward we have received, or the only stimulus to our zeal in future efforts for his improvement. The nature of such additional reward and incentive in my be seen in a letter received by one of my teachers from dc if mute, sister of the boy, which I take the liberty of adding here as illustrating the excellent results of that other and kindred State charity, I have already alluded to, and the deep interest which is felt by those most concerned in the objects of our care and instruction.


To John's Teacher:


Excuse us for we are unknown to your name. We hope you will be kind enough to answer us as soon as this reaches you, as we are very anxious to hear from John.


I am a deaf mute, and I have been at school in New-York city seven years. I think you had better write a letter to us about John, instead of Dr. Wilbur, because he may be engaged in his business. We wish to know what John does in school, and wish you to tell us about him particularly, as we love to hear from him. Tell John that he must he a good boy, and must obey you and Dr. Wilbur's commands. We hope you are good and kind to teach him, and hope God will reward you for your kindness to a poor afflicted boy. Tell John that his dog (Penn) is lonesome without him, because he used to play with him. I expect that my father will go to Albany on a visit next spring. Does he have a mind to learn? Tell John that my mother gives a great deal of love to him. We wish to know if he feels homesick, and does he love to learn? Please to ask if he remembers all our names, and what town we live in?


Has John grown any since he left our home and went to school, or has his appearance changed?


I must bring this to a close, as I have no more to say at present. Please tell us what your name is. We give our best love and sweet kisses to John, and give our respects to you and Dr. Wilbur.


Yours with respect, Lucy G---.


CASE No. 12.


A little girl of five years old. She was bitten by a rabid cat, in July, 1847, being at that time one year and nine months old. Previous to that time she was a healthy child, and intellectually forward for one of her age; talking a good deal, and very distinctly. Soon after the bite, she was taken with diarrhea and vomiting, which lasted six weeks, during which period her voice changed, and the sore on her face occasioned by her bite opened. On the disappearance of these symptoms she was taken with violent convulsions continuing for 12 hours. Her face was afterward red and distended, and her eyes possessed an unnatural glow. For the three following days she had all the terrible symptoms of hydrophobia; tearing the bed-clothes, and attempting to bite those around her; unable to bear the sight of water and also to swallow any, together with a frequent recurrence of the spasms. At the end of this period, animation was suspended, and to all appearance she was dead. At the expiration of half an hour she revived, but with returning spasms, not, however, as severe as the previous ones. These continued for more than 24 hours, when it was found that she had forgotten everything previously acquired, and had lost the power of speech. In a few weeks she gained strength to walk, and then walked incessantly during the day for five months, disregarding everything. She continued to have spasms occasioned by fear, as at the sight of a dog or cat. She remained in this condition for fifteen months, not recognizing her own parents, ignorant of her own name, and utterly incapable of imitating anything. From that time, owing to a change of medical treatment, she began to improve in her bodily health, sleeping well by night, though still very restless by day.


She came under my charge not quite two years ago, a child of prepossessing appearance, of wonderful activity and fearlessness, (to such a degree, as to give currency to the opinion in the village where she resided, that she had received by her bite some of the feline nature), of a sweet disposition, and with her intellect only needing to be brought under the control of the will though without the power of speech. She had a great imitative faculty and tried to talk, but had lost control over the muscles necessary to articulation.


She is now very much more quiet; understands every thing that is said to her; can distinguish colors; has learned the names of many objects on printed cards, speaking the names of a few of them; she can put away all the letters of the alphabet in their places on a letter board, and is beginning to learn their names.


In the matter of articulation, her progress has not been as rapid as I anticipated, owing to an apparent paralysis from her hydrophobia, but from the success I have already had, I do not hesitate to predict that she will yet learn to speak. No one who has visited the school will fail to recognize the subject of this description, or I think doubt the fulfillment of this prediction on my part.

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