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 were found with their heads covered over with cold poultices of oak-bark, which the foolish parents supposed would tan the brain and harden it as the tanner does his ox-hides, and so make it capable of retaining impressions and remembering lessons. In other cases, finding that the child could not be made to comprehend anything, the sagacious heads of the household, on the supposition that its brain was too hard, tortured it with hot poultices of bread and milk to soften it. Others plastered over their children's heads with tar. Some administered strong doses of mercury, to ‘solder up the openings’ in the head and make it tight and strong. Others encouraged the savage gluttony of their children, stimulating their unnatural and bestial appetites, on the ground that ‘the poor creatures had nothing else to enjoy but their food, and they should have enough of that’ In consequence of this report, the legislature, in the spring of 1848, made an annual appropriation of twenty-five hundred dollars, for three years, for the purpose of training and teaching ten idiot children, to be selected by the Governor and Council. The trustees of the Asylum for the Blind, under the charge of Dr. Howe, made arrangements for receiving these pupils. The school was opened in the autumn of 1848; and its first annual report, addressed to the Governor and printed by order of the Senate, is now before us. Of the ten pupils, it appears that not one had the usual command of muscular motion,—the languid body obeyed not the service of the imbecile will. Some could walk and use their limbs and hands in
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