Open main menu

DALGARNO, George (c. 16261687), an ingenious but now almost forgotten writer, born at Old Aberdeen about 1626. He appears to have studied at Marischal College; and in 1657 he went to Oxford, where, according to Wood, “he taught a private grammar-school with good success for about thirty years,” and where he died on August 28, 1687. In his work entitled Didascalocophus, or the Deaf and Dumb Man's Tutor, printed at Oxford in 1680, he has the merit of anticipating some of the most useful modern discoveries as to the education of the deaf and dumb, including the hand-alphabet. “In prosecution of his general idea,” says Dugald Stewart in his “Account of a Boy Born Blind and Deaf” (Trans. of Royal Soc. of Edinb. vol. vii.) “he has treated, in one short chapter, of a Deaf Man's Dictionary, and, in another, of a Grammar for Deaf Persons, both of them containing a variety of precious hints, from which useful practical lights might be derived by all who have any concern in the tuition of children during the first stage of their education.” Twenty years before the publication of his Didascalocophus, Dalgarno had given to the world a very ingenious piece entitled Ars Signorum, from which, says Mr Stewart, it appears indisputably that he was the precursor of Bishop Wilkins in his speculations concerning “a real character and a philosophical language.” It is alleged that, although Wilkins does not refer to Dalgarno, it was from him that he took the hint of his celebrated work. Leibnitz on various occasions alluded to the Ars Signorum in commendatory terms. The works of Dalgarno, which had become exceedingly rare, have been reprinted by the Maitland Club.