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MEMORIES OF LAURENT CLERC: JAMES DENISON


The origin story of Clerc and Gallaudet is well known and pawed over. And why not? It is a fantastic story. The intensity of Sicard’s relationship with Clerc makes for some fascinating relationship drama. It must have been so hard for both of them to untangle themselves from each other. The interloper, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, must have offered Clerc something truly alluring. There is a debate as to who suggested Clerc go just as there seems to be some debate as to how much the Braidwood folks hassled Gallaudet and drove him into the arms of a more loving Sicard. Whatever transpired, we are all glad for it. Dension clearly would agree.

In this work, during the last eight years of Laurent Clerc 's connection with the Paris Institution, he was Sicard's most earnest and successful co-laborer. In 1816, however, his life in France drew to a close. Thomas H. Gallaudet - revered be his memory! - repulsed from the institutions of Watson and Braidwood, that, as he sorrowfully expressed it, they might retain a " sad monopoly of the resources of charity," turned his face towards Paris. " Here, in the splendid metropolis of his ancestors," to use his own words, " the light of hope began to dawn on his path. For here, thanks to the ready kindness of the illustrious Sicard, he was furnished with every facility for obtaining the knowledge which he sought. And here, too, he was enabled to make such arrangements as to surprise his friends and supporters at home by an unexpected return with a colleague, whose peculiar condition and striking talents and attainments gave a new impulse to the enterprise " of educating the American deaf-mute.”



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