« PreviousContinue »
were sounded, and accompanying it in a manner suitable to its nature.”
Dr. Alcock's Memoirs.--Eccentric Mirror, vol. 2nd.-Rees' Encyclopædia. Musical Biography, vol. 2nd.
THE BLIND TEACHER.
“Yet he was kind, or, if severe in aught,
A few particulars in the history of this interesting character appeared in some of the periodical journals of the day; but, as all the accounts that I have seen were imperfect, I have been enabled, through the kindness of his family, to add a few additional facts, which have never been published. They will teach us that what appear to be misfortunes and privations, are appointed by our Heavenly Father for good, and may be turned to advantage by an active, intelligent, and pious mind.
Mr. Holland was born at Manchester, October 29, 1760, and spent his early years under the care of his parents, who long kept a flourishing boarding and day school for young ladies, in that town. At ten years of age he became a pupil of his uncle, the Rev. Philip Holland, of Bolton, whose eminence, as a teacher of youth, has still some living witnesses. Here, his natural quickness of intellect, under such judicious direction, rendered the acquisition of knowledge extremely easy and rapid; he soon obtained a competent share of classical and French literature, and became particularly expert in arithmetic, and geography. Being designed for trade, he did not pursue the higher classics so far as several of his school fellows. He was intended to pursue the trade of a yarn merchant, which was his father's occupation, and with this design he was placed as an apprentice with Mr. Mort, of Cowbent; but, when about 18 years old, he was gradually, but totally, deprived of sight. He was now reduced to that helpless condition which Milton has so feelingly described, in the following pathetic lines,
“O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,
And silent.”_ But happy is it for us, that we are constantly under the eye of a superintending Providence, who never fails to accommodate to the burden the strength appointed to bear it; and, in onr distresses, affords not only those alleviations and needful aids which enable us to support them, but also makes those sufferings frequently instrumental in producing the means by which they are mitigated. This is peculiarly the case with respect to the blind; for though nothing beneath the skies can compensate their loss, yet they derive from it advantages which those who are blessed with sight do not possess, which make the loss of it supportable, and furnish a needful supply of intellectual consolation.
This privation prevented Mr. Holland from pursuing the business for which he was originally intended; and he, at first, endeavoured to prepare himself for the musical profession; but his attention being directed to teaching, in a school kept by his mother, he afterwards became master of one of the most distinguished ladies' schools in Manchester, and attended a great number of private pupils in that town and neighbourhood. In this profession, he was particularly distinguished for his power of exciting the attention, and cultivating the understandings of his pupils; and his examinations for ascertaining whether they understood their lessons, were remarkably accurate and discriminating. In conjunction with his brother, the Rev. John Holland, of Bolton, he published three editions of “ Exercises for the Memory and Understanding," partly selected and partly original. His original contributions to this book were dialogues and pieces of poetry, well adapted to convey instruction ; such were the supposed “Dialogues between the Severn and the Wye,” and the “Ouse and the Trent;" giving a complete account of the parts of England and Wales through which those rivers flow, and of events in the history of England which happened there; the work also contained descriptions of birds and their notes, and of animals and their food. His peculiar infirmity led him to carry on his plan of instruction very much by conversation, and close questioning on the books which he gave his pupils to read;
and he may be said to have been the father of the "Interrogative System," which has since been claimed by another, whose merit, however, in promoting its extension, it is not here intended to question. His great skill in ready calculation, rendered him also a most valuable and efficient member of the committees of several of the canals, railways, and water-works, connected with the important district in which he resided.
In these useful labours he spent a long life, highly esteemed among an extensive circle of friends, for mental qualities of no common kind, extensive knowledge, and great cheerfulness; qualities which continued to the last, amidst much bodily infirmity, under which he laboured during several of the latter years of his life. He died on the 11th of June, 1829, calm and resigned ; and, at the close, so easily, that the moment of his departure was not perceived, by those of his numerous family who surrounded bis bedside. He was a constant attendant of the chapel in Mosley Street, where his funeral sermon was preached by the excellent Minister, the Rev. J.J. Taylor, who has permitted the following well merited character of him to close this tribute to his memory. Early in his career, our departed friend was visited by one of the severest privations which could have befallen an intelligent and inquiring mind, a privation which for ever closed up one of the principal avenues to knowledge, and compelled the sufferer to resort möre entirely to his internal resources. He once observed to me, with a rational and cheerful piety, which forcibly struck me at the time, and which I therefore, wish not to omit mentioning, that this privation, by the