Library Collections: Document: Full Text

Use What You Have

Creator: n/a
Date: 1862
Publisher: American Tract Society
Source: American Antiquarian Society
Figures From This Artifact: Figure 1  Figure 2  Figure 3  Figure 4  Figure 5

Next Page   All Pages 

Page 1:


I once met a fat little boy, who seemed about ten years of age. When I first saw him he was wandering about as if looking for something on the ground.


This way and that way he went, until I was close at his side. "Have you lost any thing, my little fellow?" I asked. I expected to have a bright young face turned up to mine as he replied; but when the child raised his head, I was inclined to move away in disgust.


There was a silly, helpless look about the poor creature, that told at once why he was wandering hither and thither without any object. He had no mind to direct his steps. He was an idiot. His body was well; he could eat and sleep and enjoy himself like a mere animal, but he had no mind to make bright his eye, and give to his face a pleasing expression.


The child was ragged and dirty; but he did not care for that, if he could have enough to eat and drink. What a trial such a child must be to his parents. He must always be watched over and cared for like an infant. He could never learn to read or work, he could never pray to the heavenly Father, or sing sweet hymns in his praise.


He was not able even to reply to the simple question I had asked him. He opened his mouth and made sounds that he meant for talking, but they were more like the voice of some strange animal than the words of a child.


Poor boy, it is to be hoped that he is at least kindly treated. No doubt his mother speaks tenderly to him, for a mother can love the most disagreeable and unfortunate of her children.


Kind gentlemen in Europe and in our own country have built houses, where idiots are gathered together and trained with the greatest patience and care, so as to be more like men than they otherwise would be. Some have been taught to knit, or do some other kind of simple work; and a few of the least afflicted have seemed to be able to get some idea of the great God, who is the maker of all things, and who loves the meanest of his creatures.


Surely it is kind to give time and painstaking for the improving of idiots, these poor beings who have no minds.


But what a blessing it is to have a mind and to have the use of our reason; to be able to think and read and study and talk and work!


I once visited a large and beautiful building with pleasant grounds around it. There I saw a variety of people engaged in the strangest manner. In the side yard a woman was sitting in a chair, with her feet drawn up under her and her face leaning against a high fence. She half turned towards me and said, in a quick way, " Don't come here! Don't come here! I'm keeping Sunday!" Not far from her in another yard, was a man walking round and round in a large circle. There he had been walking for years, when awake, until he had worn a deep path, in which only his feet had trodden.


In the basement of the building there was a great room, in the centre of which was a space shut in by a high iron fence reaching to the wall. In this kind of a cage was a woman so fierce and wild, that it was painful to hear her voice or to look upon her.


Ah, that beautiful house and those beautiful grounds, with their tall trees, could not make a happy home; and my heart was heavy as I looked around me. The persons walking in the shade, the faces I saw at the window, the group getting into the close carriage at the door, they were all suffering under the same affliction. Each one had a diseased mind, each one was insane. They had lost the use of their minds, and could no longer rule and govern themselves; and here they were placed to be under the care of skilful physicians, and to be kept from doing any of the wild, dangerous freaks that came into their crazy heads.


How precious seemed a sound mind, as I looked at these poor afflicted beings. How grateful ought we to be for the power to think and reason and guide our conduct according to God's law.


Yet are there not children who never think that their minds are blessings, or at least who do not seem to value them? Those little ones who grumble and fret that they must sometimes study, or read, or sew, do they wish that they were like the poor idiot boy or the unhappy people of the insane asylum?


Dear children, God has given you your minds, and it is your duty to improve them. It is right that you should try to be something more than little animals. Never think it hard that you must leave your play for your book or your work; but rather be thankful that you have sense to learn to be useful, and a mind that can understand the law of God. May you have a heart to love that law and obey it.


Many years since I had two young friends who came to play with me sometimes. Bright-looking, pleasant little girls they were; but they could not hear when I spoke their names; they could not say one word with their expressive mouths. We used to get on very well together however, for they could talk with their fingers, and were very quick in the many games where speaking is not needed. You will be surprised to hear that these little girls were at school.

Next Page

Pages:  1  2    All Pages