Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bulwer, John

BULWER, JOHN (fl. 1654), physician, was the son of Thomas Bulwer, a physician He devoted much attention to the discovery of methods for communicating knowledge to the deaf and dumb. Dr. John Wallis claimed to be the originator in England of the art by which the benefits of instruction are bestowed on the deaf, but it would seem that this honour is really due to his contemporary Bulwer. Wallis introduced his first deaf pupil, Mr. Whalley, before the Royal Society in 1662, after a year's instruction, but fourteen years previously Bulwer had published the first edition of his curious and suggestive work, 'Philocophus, or the Deafe and Dumbe Man's Friend,' in which he records many remarkable cases, several being within his own experience, of what had been accomplished for the education of the deaf. His proposed method of instruction included the visible language of signs and gestures, and the labial alphabet, or reading the movement of the lips and articulation. In estimating his claims to originality, however, it must be borne in mind that he was acquainted with some, at least, of the discoveries made by the Spanish Benedictine monks, Pedro Ponce and Juan Paulo Bonet, and he had certainly heard of the case, reported from Spain by Sir Kenelm Digby, of the younger brother of the constable of Castile, who was taught 'to hear the sounds of words with his eyes,' Bulwer was the first to recommend the institution of 'an academy of the mute,' and to notice the capacity which deaf persons usually possess of enjoying music through the medium of the teeth—a fact which, in the early part of the present century, was turned to excellent account in Germany, principally by Father Robertson, a monk in the Scots college of Ratisbon, by whose exertions a new source of instruction and enjoyment was thus opened up to those otherwise insensible to sounds. It is very strange that Bulwer, whose earlier treatise on the 'Natural Language of the Hand’ had acquired for him the appellation of ‘the Chirosopher,’ should have suggested nothing in regard to a method of speaking on the fingers, especially as he had himself mentioned a case in which a manual alphabet had been actually used.

His works are:

  1. ‘Chirologia; or the Natvrall Langvage of the Hand. Composed of the Speaking Motions and Discoursing Gestures thereof. Whereunto is added Chironomia: Or the Art of Manvall Rhetoricke. Consisting of the Naturall Expressions, digested by Art in the Hand, as the chiefest Instrument of Eloquence, by Historicall Manifesto's, exemplified out of the Authentique Registers of Common Life, and Civill Conversation. With Types, or Chirograms: A long-wish'd for illustration of this Argument.’ London, 1644, 8vo. Dedicated to Edward Goldsmith of Gray's Inn.
  2. ‘Philocophus; or the Deafe and Dumbe Man's Friend. Exhibiting the Philosophicall verity of that subtile Art, which may inable one with an observant Eie, to Heare what any man speaks by the moving of his lips. Upon the same Ground, with the advantage of an Historicall Exemplification, apparently proving, That a Man borne Deafe and Dumbe, may be taught to Heare the sound of words with his Eie, & thence learne to speake with his Tongue. By I. B., sirnamed the Chirosopher,’ London, 1648, 12mo. Dedicated to Sir Edward Gostwicke, bart., of Willington, Bedfordshire, Mr. William Gostwicke, his youngest brother, ‘and all other intelligent and ingenious gentlemen, who as yet can neither heare nor speake.’
  3. ‘Pathomyotomia, or a Dissection of the significative Muscles of the Affections of the Minde. Being an Essay to a new Method of observing the most important movings of the Muscles of the Head, as they are the neerest and Immediate Organs of the Voluntarie or Impetuous motions of the Mind. With the Proposall of a new Nomenclature of the Muscles. By J. B., sirnamed the Chirosopher,’ London, 1649, 12mo. Dedicated to his father, Thomas Bulwer.
  4. ‘Anthropometamorphosis: Man Transform'd; or the Artificial Changeling. Historically presented, in the mad and cruel Gallantry, foolish Bravery, ridiculous Beauty, filthy Finenesse, and loathsome Lovelinesse of most Nations, fashioning & altering their Bodies from the Mould intended by Nature. With a Vindication of the Regular Beauty and Honesty of Nature. And an Appendix of the Pedigree of the English Gallant,’ London, 1650, 12mo. Dedicated to Thomas Diconson, esq. The second edition, London, 1653, 4to, is illustrated with many woodcuts, and prefixed to it there is a fine portrait of the author engraved by W. Faithorne. The work was reissued in 1654 under the title of ‘A View of the People of the whole World.’
  5. ‘Vultispex Criticus, seu Phisiognomia Medici, continens Decretalia Secreta et Oracula Medicinæ Diagnosticæ, Prognosticæ, et Semeioticæ, Criticæque Magnalia,’ Sloane MS. 805
  6. ‘Glossiatrus: Tractatus de removendis Loquelæ impedimentis.’
  7. ‘Otiatrus: Tractatus de removendis Auditionis impedimentis.’ The last three works and other unpublished treatises by him are mentioned at the end of the second edition of ‘Anthropometamorphosis,’ 1653.

[Retrospective Review, 2nd ser. ii. 205; Oldys's British Librarian, 364; Granger's Biog. Hist. of England (1824), iv. 32; Edinb. Review, lxi. 413, 417; Penny Cycl. vi. 19; Evans's Cat. of Engraved Portraits, i. 47; Beloe's Anecdotes, vi. 25; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), 311; Wadd's Nugæ Chirurgicæ, 30, 188; Ayscough's Cat. of MSS., 526.]

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