“that deaf stupid man!”

In 1839, a deaf man, G.H. Bosanquet, published a pamphlet entitled The Sorrows of Deafness, explaining in the preface that his aims for publication were derived from his “having suffered misery…from the privations of deafness.” Writing on behalf of his “fellow-sufferers,” Bosanquet remarks “[t]here is no class of sufferers whose feelings, as far as the results of my own bitter experience teach me, are so little understood as that of deaf patients.” He thus condemns those in society who pity “that deaf stupid man!” and especially those, who despite their charitable intentions and sympathy, misunderstand the experiences of thedeaf man and fail to bestow compassion towards him:

But, “the most unkindest cut of all” is, the wonder, the not concealed dislike of relations at your want of energy;–

“The pitying friend,

With shoulder shrugged and sorry.”

To hear them talk one would suppose deafness a possession to be coveted, as an excuse for idleness, instead of thegreatest source wherewitn the Almighty ever afflicted and tried the faith of an educated being.

Bosanquet’s pamphlet is reflective of relatively common perceptions of the deaf: they were  social outcasts deprived from communication and left as objects of charity.

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