4 APRIL 1914, Page 16



BIR,—For many years I have been greatly interested in the cad lot of those who are blind, and have long had the privilege of subscribing to the funds of a Society for their welfare. At the present moment there is a strenuous effort being made to supply blind persons with books in the Braille type. This effort is most laudable, and I, for one, hope it may be crowned with success; but there are some aspects of the case which seem to have escaped public notice. It was stated by Mr. Wardle in the House of Commons on March 11th last that there were 34,000 blind persons in the United Kingdom. " Out of these, 5,000 were in workhouses, 5,000 were receiving parish relief, and 7,000 begged their bread exposed to all the inclemency of the weather—a perpetual reproach to the nation at large." If Mr. Wardle's figures are, as I believe, correct, it is abundantly evident that something ought to be done, and done quickly, to meet the urgent bodily needs of the destitute blind. The first concern, in my opinion, should be to see whether we cannot permanently raise them above their destitution by putting them to remunerative work. When we have rescued them from beggary, the workhouse, and parish relief, it will be time enough to provide for their mental needs and pleasures. It is hardly kind to offer them a book when they are asking for bread ; especially as the book can be of small value to the majority, for, as things are now, only a very small percentage of the blind can read the Braille type. So large a number of destitute blind in our• midst is, indeed, a national reproach. When this has been removed, then books for the blind have their place and their mission; but the blind man or woman who hardly knows where the next meal is to come from is in no fit frame of mind for literature, even if he or she can read the type. The Association for Promoting the General Welfare of the Blind, 258 Tottenham Court Road, London, W., has for sixty years been endeavouring, with considerable success, to find employ- ment for blind men and women ; and, in spite of innumerable difficulties, a market for the sale of the goods manufactured. It is sincerely to be hoped that the strong claims of this Society will not be overlooked, and that the Mansion House Fund for the Distribution of Literature to the Blind (a most worthy and laudable object, as I have said already) will not divert assistance from a Society which is chiefly concerned with saving the blind from unemployment, hunger, and misery.—I am, Sir, &e., SUBSCRIBER. [We do not believe that the Braille Fund will in any way deplete the resources of other institutions concerned with the welfare of the blind.—En. Spectator.]