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[215] His teacher can only engage his attention by strenuous efforts, loud, earnest tones, gesticulations and signs, and a constant presentation of some visible object of bright color and striking form. The eye wanders, and the spark of consciousness and intelligence which has been fanned into momentary brightness darkens at the slightest relaxation of the teacher's exertions. The names of objects presented to him must sometimes be repeated hundreds of times before he can learn them. Yet the patience and enthusiasm of the teacher are rewarded by a progress, slow and unequal, but still marked and manifest. Step by step, often compelled to turn back and go over the inch of ground he had gained, the idiot is still creeping forward; and by almost imperceptible degrees his sick, cramped, and prisoned spirit casts off the burden of its body of death, breath as from the Almighty is breathed into him, and he becomes a living soul.

After the senses of the idiot are trained to take note of their appropriate objects, the various perceptive faculties are next to be exercised. The greatest possible number of facts are to be gathered up through the medium of these faculties into the storehouse of memory, from whence eventually the higher faculties of mind may draw the material of general ideas. It has been found difficult, if not impossible, to teach the idiot to read by the letters first, as in the ordinary method; but while the varied powers of the three letters, h, a, t, could not be understood by him, he could be made to comprehend the complex sign of the word hat, made by uniting the three.

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