BLACKLOCK, Thomas. ~ Poems by the late Reverend Dr. Thomas Blacklock; together with an Essay on the Education of the Blind. To which is prefixed a new Account of the Life and Writings of the Author. Edinburgh: Printed by Alexander Chapman and Company; sold by W. Creech, Edinburgh, and T. Cadell, London. 1793.
4to (267 × 204 mm), pp. viii, xxxv, , 262, with half-title; contemporary Scottish sprinkled calf, spine ruled in gilt, red morocco label; slightly rubbed, with a little more wear to corners, upper joint just starting to crack at head and foot; contemporary letterpress bookplate of John Rutherford, Esq; of Edgerson; a handsome copy.
First edition, which includes the important first printing in English of Valentin Haüy’s Essai sur l'éducation des aveugles (1786).
Blacklock was a pioneer of blind education in the British Isles. ‘He made recommendations about the manner of treatment and the means of education of blind children and adults, and applied his mind to the invention of techniques and devices for the education of the blind. When Blacklock became aware of the new methods of educating blind children being developed in Paris by M. Haüy at the Institut des Jeunes Aveugles he requested a sample of the raised type used to help the children to print and learn to read. Although communication between the countries was disrupted by the onset of the French Revolution, Blacklock received a copy of the book containing the raised text and began translating it into English as An Essay on the Education of the Blind. Blacklock determined that an institution similar to that in Paris should be set up in Edinburgh so that blind children and adults could be educated and earn their living with dignity. Blacklock died at his home in Chapel Street, Edinburgh, on 7 July 1791, after contracting a fever... His ambition to establish an institution to educate blind people was realized through the efforts of his friend David Miller (also blind) and the Revd David Johnston. The Society for the Relief of the Indigent Blind was established in 1793, two years after the first such institution in Britain had been formed in Liverpool’ (Oxford DNB). Jackson, p. 184.