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[211] progenitors of 359; and in all but four of these cases he found that one or the other, or both, of their immediate progenitors had in some way departed widely from the condition of health; they were scrofulous, or predisposed to affections of the brain, and insanity, or had intermarried with blood-relations, or had been intemperate, or guilty of sensual excesses.

Of the 575 cases, 420 were those of idiocy from birth, and 155 of idiocy afterwards. Of the born idiots, 187 were under twenty-five years of age, and all but 13 seemed capable of improvement. Of those above twenty-five years of age, 73 appeared incapable of improvement in their mental condition, being helpless as children at seven years of age; 43 out of the 420 seemed as helpless as children at two years of age; 33 were in the condition of mere infants; and 220 were supported at the public charge in almshouses. A large proportion of them were found to be given over to filthy and loathsome habits, gluttony, and lust, and constantly sinking lower towards the condition of absolute brutishness.

Those in private houses were found, if possible, in a still more deplorable state. Their parents were generally poor, feeble in mind and body, and often of very intemperate habits. Many of them seemed scarcely able to take care of themselves, and totally unfit for the training of ordinary children. It was the blind leading the blind, imbecility teaching inbecility. Some instances of the experiments of parental ignorance upon idiotic offspring, which fell under the observation of Dr. Howe, are related in his report. Idiotic children

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Samuel G. Howe (1)
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