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Corvey ‘Adopt an Author’ |
Elisabeth Pinchard
The Corvey Project at
Sheffield Hallam University

Elisabeth Pinchard The Blind Child: or Anecdotes of the Wyndham Family. Written for the Use of Young People (1791): A Synopsis.

Christina Giova

[1st Part] Mr Wyndham is a wealthy and benevolent man. He and his wife have four children: Emily, who is 14 years old and is not a beauty but is intelligent and charming, Arthur, who is 12 years old and is a good but very energetic boy, Helen, who is 9 years old and is blind since childhood due to a severe cold, and Maria, who is 7 and is very pretty and a favourite. During the summer the family visits Mrs Wyndham's best friend, Mrs Neville, who is very sick and worried about her little daughter being left an orphan. Emily is eager to take the responsibility of adopting the little girl and that is agreed upon since Emily is almost a woman. Earlier there had been a conversation among the members of the Wyndham family on inappropriate or bad language and Emily had to explain to her blind sister what death is.

[2nd Part] Mrs Wyndham is very sad about the approaching death of her best friend but she will not show excessive sensibility. She later explains to Emily that such behaviour is bad and should be avoided since one should tend to one's duties and not to such feelings. On different occasions the children learn, among other things: the benefits of a good translation, what a 'dead' language is, how being moderate is superior to being valiant, and about justice. Arthur and Emily visit the Sidney family where they witness much bad behaviour by the children and cruelty to animals. Emily later mimics for fun one of these children and is punished by her mother -by not getting a certain book for another month- to which Emily agrees. Mrs Neville dies and her daughter, little Charlotte, is adopted by Emily who soon explains to her what death is and talks about God and praying.

[3rd Part] On the expression of Emily's wish to know how certain relatives were employed at that hour, her mother gives her a story to read: Elfrida, or The Mirror; A Fairy Tale. It was a story that would prove to Emily how wrong her wish was: Elfrida's father left to go to the war and the girl wished to know how he was. A fairy appeared and gave her a magic mirror through which she could see, only three times a day, what her father was doing. The girl witnessed the injury of her father and it soon proved that using the mirror only three times per day caused her extreme anxiety about his safety. The girl returned the mirror and decided that such news was better left to Providence. None of Emily's siblings heard this story as they are too young for it. The next day Emily talks with some girls of her age who make fun of the fact that her mother is her best friend and tutor as well. Her mother explains later that young children are not able to form true friendships and that those particular girls were unprincipled. In October, on their return to London, the parents reveal to the blind Helen that a doctor is willing to operate on her eyes. Emily holds her sister's hand throughout the whole operation and the doctor praises her for her restrained sensibility. Everyone is happy and Helen becomes now a more articulate and clever person who has a talent for painting.