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A CELEBRATED MUSICIAN IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.
“Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast,
If we look back to former periods, we shall find illustrious and abundant proofs, how amply nature has capacitated the blind to excel, both in the scientific and practical departments of music. In the sixteenth century, when the progress in musical science was rapid and conspicuous in almost every country in Europe, flourished CASPAR CRUMBHORN, who was blind from the third year of his age; yet he composed several pieces of music in parts, with so much success, and performed, both upon the fute and violin, so exquisitely, that he was distinguished by the favour of Augustus, elector of Saxony. But, preferring his native Silesia to every other country, he returned thither, and was appointed organist of the church of St. Peter and St. Paul, in the city of Lignitz, and likewise had the chief direction of the Musical College, in that place. He died there on the 11th of June, 1621.
The writer of the article “Blind" in the Encyclopædia Britannica, speaking of this musician, and of the blind in general, makes the following remark; which, though it may be considered somewhat severe, is not altogether out of place.
“ To these individuals might be added Martini Pesenti, of Venice, a composer of vocal and instru
mental music, of almost all kinds, though blind from his nativity; with other examples equally worthy of public attention. But if vulgar prejudice is capable of blushing at its own contemptible character, or of yielding to conviction, those already quoted are more than sufficient to show the musical jugglers of our times, who are generally as absolute strangers to learning and taste, as to virtue, that their art is no monopoly, with which those who see are alone invested, by the irreversible decree of Heaven.”
History of Music, vol. 3.
THE BITER BIT,
AND OTHER ANECDOTES.
« Gold, too oft, with magic art,
Blind persons, not being subject to have their attention distracted by the number of objects which the sense of sight presents, must have the senses of hearing, smelling, and feeling more refined and exquisite. This we find confirmed by several facts; and we may add, that the habit of exercising one sense, in default of another, makes that one more acute.
It is said of a person born blind at Puiseaux, in France, that he judged of the fulness of vessels by the sound of the liquors while they were decanted, and of
the nearness of bodies by the action of the air on his face. By constant practice be had made very exact balances of his arms, and almost infallible compasses of his fingers. The varieties in the polish of bodies were distinguished by him with great facility, and he was also very expert in perceiving variations in the sound of the voice. He judged of beauty by feeling, and also by pronunciation and the tone of voice. He was very sure of the exact spot from whence a voice or noise came; it is reported, that he once had a quarrel with his brother, whose eye-sight was of no advantage to him in avoiding his blows; and that, vexed at his taunts, and at something he took to be ill usage, he laid hold of the first object at hand, threw it at him, struck him in the middle of the forehead, and knocked him down. This adventure, and some others, caused him to be cited before the Lieutenant of the police, in Paris, where he then lived. The external signs of power that affect others in so sensible a manner, make, however, no impression on the blind. He appeared before the magistrate, as before his equal, and his menaces did not in the least intimidate him. “What will you do to me?” said he to the magistrate. “I will cast you," answered the magistrate, “into a dungeon." "Ah! good sir," said the blind man, “I have been in one these five and twenty years past."
It may be perhaps thought that one born blind has no idea of vision. Of this we may judge by the answer of the same blind person, when asked, “What are eyes ?” “Eyes,” said he," are organs on which the air has the same effect as my stick has on my hand. This is so true," added he, “ that, when I place my hand between your eyes and an object, my hand is present to you, but the object is absent. The same thing happens to me, when I seek for a thing with my stick, and meet with another thing." He defined a looking-glass to be a machine that gives things an existence, far from themselves, if placed conveniently relatively to them. “Just as my hand," said he, “ which I need not place near an object in order to feel it.” “How many renowned Philosophers," says a modern author, “have shewn less subtility, in endeavouring to prove the truth of notions, which have been equally false !"
Some blind men are distinguished by peculiar sagacity. One of this character, who was possessed of two hundred guineas, hid them in a corner of his garden; but a neighbour, who had taken notice of what he did, dug them up and carried them away with him. The blind man, not finding his money, suspected who was the thief. What did he do to obtain his money again ? He went to his suspected neighbour, and said that he came to him for advice; that he had four hundred guineas, the half of which he had hidden in a safe place, and that he was thinking with himself, whether he should deposit the rest in the same place. The neighbour advised him to do so, and conveyed back, in all haste, the two hundred guineas he had taken away, in hopes of being soon master of four hundred. But the blind man having found his money, secured it effectually; and, calling upon his neighbour, told him, " that the blind saw more clearly than he did, who had two eyes.”
Tho' darkness still attends me,
It aids internal sight;
As blush to see the light.
No glittering fop offends;
Kind darkness me befriends.
Then, cease your useless wailings,
I know no reason why ;
Are all as blind as I.
On a very dark night, a blind man was seen walking the streets, with a light in his hand, and a large bottleful of some liquor on his hack. Some one going along, knowing him, and surprised at the light, said, “What a simpleton thou art! What need hast thou of a light ? are not day and night the same to thee?' “It is not for myself that I carry the light," answered the blind man; “it is rather that such bodies as yours should not jostle against me, and break my bottle."
THE BLIND ENGINEER. To the preceding instances we may add that of the Count de Hagan, who was born in the beginning of the seventeenth century. Having entered the army at the early age of twelve years, he lost his left eye