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enabled to command their enjoyment. In fact this is comprised in the three foregoing heads; nevertheless, as the laws proposed on the subject of madhouses appear to us principally defective in what relates to the poor, we have been willing to give a character of distinctness to this branch of the inquiry.
It has been said that the first evil, namely, that of confinement upon spurious pretences, is of very partial and limited operation. We believe, however, the case to be otherwise; and when the statements made in the former part of this article are adverted to, it may easily be conceived how subject individuals, especially those who have had trivial and transient aberrations of intellect, are to improper confinement from sinister motives on the part of relatives. The remedy we would propose is that of lessening the facility of attestation. As the law now stands, every soi-disant practitioner of medicine is competent to the signature of a certificate declarative of insanity. Let the power of signing such certificate be confined to the hands of the legitimate prescriber, that is, to one who has either obtained a diploma from some medical university, or is a member of the College of Surgeons. To the really respectable apothecary we mean nothing invidious by this exclusion. There are many of this profession, whose talent and learning would do honour to any rank or station in life; but it must be allowed, the other hand, that there are also many, calling themselves apothecaries, who are miserably deficient in every qualification but that of impudence; and we believe that, according to the present constitution of the law, both as it applies to the practice of medicine and to the statutes of lunacy, there are no means of distinguishing legally between the one and the other description of men. Another remedy we would propose, is that suggested by the author of 'Observations on Laws relating to Private Lunatic Asylums. We de not agree with him in every particular of his objections to Mr. Rose's bill; but the following meets with our hearty concurrence:
• No person should, in future, begin to superintend a lunatic asylum, unless he had previously taken a regular degree in medicine, at some university, or was a member of the College of Physicians or Surgeons, or hud undergone an examination of his qualifications by some competent judges.
The second object to be gained by the enactment of a code of laws, namely, that of providing that all persons whose mental condition requires that they be put under confinement, should be so confined, is of high moment, but of difficult accomplishment. Incipient insanity is too delicate a thing to be roughly handled. Nothing is more calculated to make a man mad, than the idea that he is thought so by others. Forcible subjection to legal restraints might (itha's been said) have prevented the melancholy catas
trophe which took place in the British Senate: but would the high spirit of the individual concerned have brooked treatment founded upon the supposition of his insanity? Would not the clouds which were gathering around his brain have been increased and thickened to tenfold gloom, by the consciousness that the world was to think him a madman ? On the other hand, we certainly too often meet with instances where a kind of self-deception on the part of relations and friends has been pursued till the dreadful consequences of such forbearance have been most fatally displayed. Yet we fear much must still be left to private discretion; for we confess it appears difficult to conceive how the vigilance of Government could be brought into exercise, for the prevention of the evil, without touching too closely upon individual freedom and family rights. There is, however, one class of men about which there ought to be no difficulty,—we mean that of wandering lunatic paupers. It would seem expedient for Government to compel the friends and relations of such to deliver them to the custody of guardians properly qualified and duly appointed.
It is obvious that the third object above stated, namely, that of securing in all cases the best possible treatment to the insane, would be most effectually gained, first, by difficulties thrown in the way of license, so as to ensure the qualification and respectability of 'madhouse conductors; and secondly, by an assiduous system of thorough and frequent inspection. The writer of that tract to which we have just made allusion deprecates the severity of the recently proposed bill, especially as it relates to the laws of visitation: but for ourselves, we do not see how the severity would operate excepting in cases of dereliction of duty; and in such cases, laws cannot be too severe. We think, however, with this writer, that the possible influence of local prejudices is not sufficiently guarded against in cases of county inspections. Two magistrates and one physician do not, in our minds, form a sufficient quorum for the exercise of visiting duties ; especially when such magistrates are selected from situations in the vicinity of the respective establishments, thus appointed, for the very reason which should be the cause of their rejection, namely, that they are neighbours, and therefore continually liable to be excited by personal pique and enmity. With respect to the discretionary powers and right of liberation, which the act gives to the inspecting visi. ters—these are not so likely to be abused as our objector would seem to insinuate; and the marks and peculiarities of insanityhave recently become so much the subject of investigation, that it is not very probable any rash or unwarrantable exercise of such powers would be attempted by men of intelligence and responsibility: and yet it seems well, in order to provide against abuses, that such powers
should be possessed. The round-about process of appealing to the Chancellor in cases of unjust confinement or improper treatment, might be attended with too much difficulty for the object of immer diate redress.
But further, as it respects the poor,-those establishments which are more strictly considered public charities, ought to be subjected to as severe and rigid a system of inspection as the private ones; and every officer, from the physician to the porter, ought to be compelled to hold his situation solely upon the tenure of correct conduct. Some scheme, too, ought to be devised for excluding in toto such persons from the benefits of these charities as have means equal to their supportin other situations; for much mal-practice has taken place in reference to this particular. But the great desidera tum, as it refers to pauper lunatics, is that of COUNTY ASYLUMS. The erection and endowment of these ought to be made compulsory; and there should, further, be a responsibility attached to every parish officer to cause the removal of insane paupers from poor-houses, and other situations into these establishments. Here, too, the visits and inspections must be frequent and severe, and every guard be in constant readiness to prevent the intrusion of abuse. After taking a general census of the county returns, it should be laid before the commissioners of madhouses, accompanied with plans of the size, situation, &c. of the proposed building. The expense, which should of course be as small as possible consistent with the objects to be effected, would be best defrayed by addition to the county rates; and we see no objections (provided care be taken to prevent any abuse of the privilege) to the medical officers of the respective institutions being permitted to have private patients from the more respectable classes of the community. Persons in comfortable, but moderate, circumstances in the country, are often deterred from sending their relations to private madhouses by the expense and other inconveniences attending distance from home. County establishments would in this case (and we speak from actual observation) be for the most part a convenience : but every possible care should then be taken that the duties of officers to the poor be in no measure trespassed on by their attendance upon the superior classes of patients.
Since this was written, - The First Annual Report on Mad. houses, 1816,' has fallen into our hands. We do not think it necessary to detain our readers by any lengthened account of its contents, as it merely corroborates what has been before advanced. It is, however, a valuable document, and worthy the attention of all who are particularly interested in its subject. One remarkable feature in the account it may be right just to advert to,--we mean the statement which Mr. Sharpe gives to the Committee of the
want of success attendant upon some recent trials in Sir Jonathan Miles's house of powerful remedial processes, especially the administration of mercury and the fox-glove. This evidence is in another place qualified by the gentleman under whose direction these experiments were made, but by no means in such a manner as to prove the safety and efficacy of the means employed. Respecting the powers of the fox-glove, there is indeed a very remarkable state, ment made by Mr. Wakefield, from Dr. Finch,* of its successful administration to a raving maniac who had been chained for many years to the walls of a workhouse ;' but as far as our own observa. tion has extended, this very singular and important medicine has much less influence upon the paroxysms of insanity than might à priori have been supposed. We shall conclude by extracting from the Report before us the sentiments of one whose authority in all particulars pertaining to pathology is deservedly great.
I am of opinion,' (says Sir Henry Halford, addressing himself to the Committee, that our knowledge of insanity has not kept pace with our knowledge of other distempers, from the habit we find established, of transferring patients under this malady, as soon as it has declared itself, to the care of persons who too frequently limit their attention to the mere personal security of their patients, without attempting to assist them by the resources of medicine. We want facts in the history of this disease, and if they are carefully recorded, under the observation of enlightened pbysicians, no doubt they will sooner or later be collected in sufficient number to admit of safe and useful deductions. First Annual Report, p. 24.
We have recently heard of the expulsion from the principal lunatic asylum in Britain of its two principal officers, and of the election of others to succeed them. · Respecting the propriety of this strong measure on the part of the governors of that institution, it would be as indelicate as it is unnecessary for us to express any opinion. We think it, however, proper to say, that, while the public have a right to expect a great deal from the gentlemen now appointed to these important and responsible offices, anticipations of improvement must not partake too much of Utopian perfection. We would again respectfully submit to Government the superiority of preventive measures over punishments; and entreat that parliamentary enactments be so contrived as to continue as much as possible actually and unremittingly operative. Public institutions, and corporate associations, are naturally prone to degeneracy and decline, even though the members may be individually active and well-intentioned.
ART. VI.Symbolic Illustrations of the History of England, from the Roman Invasion to the present Time, accompanied with a Narrative of the Principal Events, designed more particularly for the Instruction of Young Persons. By Mary Ann Rundall, of Bath, Author of the Grammar of Sacred His
tory. London, Bath, Exeter, and Broxburne. 1815. 4to. THIS is
, in its way, by far the most absurd work that has ever fallen into our hands. It is in fact one of Mr. Newberry's little books grown into a huge quarto of 700 pages, and grown, with its growth, more than proportionably silly.
The author acquaints us in her Preface, that'objects which are seen make a more lasting impression on the mind than the mere rés: cital of facts; it has been therefore her aim to embody in symbols, or hieroglyphics, the most striking incidents recorded in the annals. of our country.'-(p. 3.) And this the good lady fancies that she bas done in thirty-nine plates, which, with the assistance of 700 pages of letter-press, teach about as much of the History of England as might be comprised in one of the aforesaid Mr. Newberry sixpenny abridgments. It is somewhat curious to find in a work composed on the principle of addressing not the ear but the eye, that thirty-nine pages only are for the use of the eye, while 700 are dedicated to the ear.
Our readers will suppose, of course, that some representations of objects are to be submitted to the eye, which will be atonce understood and retained more forcibly than the same ideas presented in words. No such thing : Mrs. Rundall's plates are, in truth, hieroglyphics, strokes, scratches and letters, perfectly unintelligible unless with the assistance of the 700 pages of explanation, and not very clear even with them.
An English individual is designated by an upright line surmounted with an oak leaf; if a diagonal line crosses it, it is a knight or a noble
Princes and princesses have a small crescent reversed on the top of a perpendicular line.'
An upright line, with a death's head, is an assassin-a horizontal line, with the symbolic bead detached, shows a person dead.' -Key to the Symbols.
This appears a curious mode of explaining that which words cannot make sufficiently clear, and we find, like Mrs. Dangle: in the Critic, 'that the interpreter is the harder of the two.'
We wish we could contrive to lay before our readers one of Mrs. Rundall's devices for making history plain," but it would not be pos.. şible without the assistance of a plate. Our printer, however, has endeavoured to imitate a diagram given in the Preface, from which