Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[graphic]
[graphic][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

More than 19,000 persons are under re- to be erected. Under the second head, we straint as lunatics in England and Wales, and have hospitals for the insane, described as nearly 4,000 in 317 workhouses. of the Institutions founded and supported by chariformer some are in private houses, but by table individuals, and designed for the recepfar the greater number are in public estab- tion of needy patients of the middle and lishments. Some of the county asylums upper classes. They are not always desigmay be termed " villages” of lunatics; for nated Hospitals” popularly; being “Re

“ they are as populous as large villages. Thus, treats," or " Asylums," simply. The third Colney-Hatch contains 1,244 inmates; Han head comprises Licensed Houses. These are well, 963; Springfield, 713; Wakefield, 647; Asylums, or Retreats, set on foot and mainLancaster, 630; several, more than 300. tained by private enterprise, for the reception Add the necessary attendants, servants, and of every grade of lunatic, from the pauper officers, and it is obvious that we have con- to the peer. In England and Wales, on the gregated in these institutions large societies. first of January, 1854, 37 county and borHow do these people spend their lives ?-is ough Asylums contained 12,609 inmates; a question which may very reasonably be | 14 Hospitals (not including the Royal Navy asked.

and Military Hospitals at Haslar and YarThe Commissioners in Lunacy classify mouth) had 1,613 inmates ; and 130 Liasylums under three heads. The first com- censed' Houses had 4,880 inmates. The enprises the County Asylums, which externally tire number of the insane under care of these are palatial residences, built expressly for the establishments, at the time mentioned, was reception of the insane poor of counties. 18,659. Every county in England and Wales has an

Ten years ago, the report of a Commisestablishment of this kind, except ten; and sion of Inquiry into the Condition of Lunathese are making arrangements for asylums tics, throughout England and Wales, was

printed by the government. A comparison Eighth Report of the Commissioners in Lunacy of this document with that of 1854 affords to the Lord Chancellor. 1854.

ground for congratulation. In 1844 we find VOL. XXXIV.-NO. III.

19

that in several Asylums, the old cruelty and | ing a crust that had been thrust through the neglect was still practiced, and that so many bars by a curious visitor; his bed being a litas eleven were in a state deserving unquali- tle heap of straw ; his sole furniture, a box fied censure. Wales then, as now, was re- for his excrements, which was passed in and markable for the shameful neglect of the out through a narrow opening in the strong lunatic. The Asylum at Haverford-West, wooden partition that constituted one side of at the first visit of the Commissioners, in his den. The history of the struggles of 1842, was declared to be a disgrace to the Professor Guislain (whose Clinical Lectures age and country. Eighteen patients were are before us) to ameliorate the condition of found in two dark cheerless rooms, with the insane in Belgium, reveals similar atrocipaved floors, the only article of furniture in ties in the treatment of the insane in that each being a single table. The dress of the country. The admirable institution over lunatics was ragged, uncleanly, and insuffi- which he presides, is a sufficient proof of the cient; and not a single change of either bed vast improvement in the condition of the luor body linen was in the place. Their beds natic which has been effected of late years. of dirty straw had only a filthy rug, or a Now, although there are no such atrocities scrap of blanket, for covering. In a cell now practiced in Asylums, illustrations of the lighted by a grating, where the stench was working of the same principle which gave so offensive that it was scarcely possible to rise to them, are revealed from time to time, remain, was a woman, fastened to a chair, to remind us of what the man 'reft of reason and entirely naked. No place for exercise, has escaped from. Two such are presented no attempt at employment or amusement, in the last Report of the Commissioners. prayers never read, no visits from the minis- Evan Roberts was the eldest son of a farmer ters of religion. Devonshire rivalled Wales near Bangor, and, soon after he arrived at in horrors. At the Asylum at Plympton, manhood, became subject to periodical fits of seventeen patients were found in a room sev. mania. These, as he grew older, became enteen feet by twelve, with seats for ten more confirmed, until, about seven years ago, only, and no table. In a day-room was found he threatened the lives of his father and a young woman, who had been delivered younger brother. He was thereupon shut only six weeks, in a state of furious mania, up in a small upper room, and chained by the wearing a strait-waistcoat, and chained by leg to his bedstead, from which be was never the arm and leg to a bench. Another wo- released, during the three remaining years of man, in a similar vest, was lying in a hole in his father's life. At the death of the latter, the middle of the yard, with her head ex- the brother took charge of bim, and conposed to a hot sun. Twenty-one male pa structed an outhouse for his residence, vine tients were chained to their beds at night. The feet by four, lighted by a small skylight in night cells damp and as dark as cellars ; win the roof and a window eighteen inches square. dows unglazed; floors soaked and reeking Here he was imprisoned three years; and, with urine, and partly covered with straw and when discovered, was found lying on a woodexcrement; filthy straw for beds; and in en bedstead, to which both his legs were nine (containing women) there were no win- chained by loose fetters, riveted on just above dows, but the light was conducted by a grat- the ankles. In a recess in the wall, at the ing over the door opening into a passage; bottom of the bedstead, covered by a lid on and so little of it, that the Commissioners, hinges, was a sort of privy, emptying itself in the day-time, were obliged to use a lantern into a hole in the adjoining garden, and which to view this sickening and shocking sight. the chain was just long enough to enable At Kingsland, near Shrewsbury, nearly all him to reach. The poor man conversed the lunatics in the House of Industry, amount calmly and intelligibly, and his brother and ing to between eighty and ninety, were chain- sister admitted that he was often sane for ed by their wrists to their beds at night. weeks and months together. When removed,

On the continent matters were not dissim- subsequently, to the North Wales Asylum, ilar. It is only about fifteen years since we he was uniformly orderly and tranquil, and, ourselves saw, at Vienna, lunatics confined in for consideraale periods, coherent and comcages, and exhibited for public amusement, paratively rational. like wild beasts. Like wild beasts, they A very similar case was brought to light never left their cages, by night or by day. in Devonshire in 1851. Charles Lusmere The poor wretch is still in our mind's eye was the son of a small farmer, and was himwho sat crouched up in a corner of his cage, self brought up to be a blacksmith. Twenty with matted beard and unkempt hair, munch- 1 years ago, he became insane, and was thereupon confined by his father in a sort of wood- | indebted, than to the enlightened judge on en cell, seven feet long, four feet wide, and the bench. six feet high, constructed for the purpose, It is amongst those who are practically and in which he continued chained to a beam acquainted with insanity in every phase and in the floor. In this place he was kept a form, that the lunatic finds his kindest friends. close prisoner for upwards of nine years, These endure his provocations with equanimgenerally in a state of complete nudity ; ity, smile at his threats and insults, pity bis when, the father having become bedridden, delusions, and kindly minister to his diseased and going to live with a son-in-law, the luna- mind. They do all this because they know tic and his den were removed to the same that the will is partially or wholly in abeyplace, where the latter was re-constructed, ance, and that bis acts and language proceed and he was kept chained in the same condi- from a disordered brain, over wbich he has tion as before. His cell had no fire place, little or no coutrol. To the experienced manwas only lighted by a small hole with iron ager of the insane, they are but children of bars across it; and, with the exception of a larger growth, to be ruled by a happy mixlow wooden bedstead with a little loose straw ture of love, firmness, and severity. The upon it, it was wholly destitute of furniture, medical superintendent of an Asylum is in was close and dirty, and had a most disgust. loco parentis to the unfortunate persons under ing smell. This poor sufferer was removed his care. Perhaps in no department of medto the Devon County Asylum, where he ical practice have the benevolence and enproved to be an amiable, inoffensive, and well-lightened judgment of the profession shone conducted man, quite cleanly in his habits, more brightly forth, than in the management and taking a pride in being neat and well of the insane'; from the time of Pinel to the dressed.

present, that profession has been the consistThere is nothing more certain, we believe, ent and persevering friend of the lunatic. than that the nearest relations of a lunatic Amongst the most energetic and able of grow weary of him, sooner or later feel dis. the continental Superintendents, Professor gust towards him, and, in instances not a few, Guislain takes a bigh rank, both as a reformer hate the sight of him. The causes of this of abuses and as a teacher. He lectures, are of mixed origin. Often, the sufferer is every week, alternately, in the men's and wovery disgusting and provoking in his language men's department of the Asylum at Ghent, and conduct, manifests bitter hatred towards of which he is the superior officer. Each his nearest relations, is exceedingly trouble- lecture continues two hours, and is illussome, and not unfrequently threatens life and trated by cases. The students have the folproperty. Under these circumstances, love lowing simple rules for the guidance of their grows gradually cold. Then, again, there is conduct while in the wards : "Ask no imprua feeling that the lunatic brings disgrace on dent questions. Wait until you are invited his relations; a taint fixes on the blood, and to speak to the patients. Do not annoy them people say there is madness in the family. by conversation, by looks, or by making them Madness, too, inspires fear, horror, and aver- feel your presence.” No bad result has fol. sion in many persons. A maniac is a bateful lowed from these practical studies; and yet person, because he is a maniac: he is abbor- every form of insanity is illustrated. red instinctively.

• Look at that woman,” Guislain remarks; That there is a large amount of popular "her expression, attitudes, crouching position, prejudice in regard to the insane, is very ah show that excessive fear is the predomitrue ; but we doubt much whether the me. nant passion. She is sixty-six years old. Till tropolis is so much superior to "the prov- she was sixty, she was a house servant ; disinces” as the Commissioners assert: we missed, she had to gain a livelihood by makdoubt it as a fact, and we question it as a ing lace and doing needle-work. A year ago theory. In these days of general informa- she began to lose her sight; then the entire tion and rapid intercommunication, there is loss destroyed all her means of existence. no reason why “the provinces” should be Six months ago she was in hospital for tymore deplorably ignorant than the metrop. phus ; when she recovered, she was insane, olis. It is a fact, that there is the most lam- and suffered from intense melancholy and terentable ignorance, in the very highest quar. ror. ters of the metropolis, as to the nature and This is no uncommon case :- poverty, anxconsequences of mental derangement, and iety, a terrible struggle to keep up appearthat to the common sense of a middle-class ances, but in vain, ending in a work-house ; jury a criminal lunatic is often more deeply then the idiot wards in a County Asylum.

66

Such an instance we remember of a feeble | wholly from alcoholic drinks. Feeling, in one young woman, the educated daughter of a of his lucid intervals, the premonitory indicaprofessional man, sent by the Union to an tions of his disorder, he destroyed his own Asylum for receiving paupers. Her iron- life. Sometimes this paroxysm of oinomagray hair was cut short, her face was deeply nia, (as the disease is designated,) is accomstamped with care and melancholy, her panied by an inclination for a vagabond life clothes neglected; she rarely spoke, never in the lowest company; or else, there is just smiled. Our first care was to recruit her the latter without the former. The two sons shattered strength, and to awaken the dor- of a professional man of some standing, in mant cerebral powers, by appeals to her fem- whose family there was hereditary insanity, inine taste for personal adoroment. It was were thus affected. They were both well a hopeful sign when she decked her head educated, gentlemanly men, accustomed to with an incongruous medley of flowers and excellent society, and remarkable for their scraps of colored calico, and took pleasure in elegant dress. The eldest abandoned pracà ring of yellow worsted; but, when she tice, to wander about the country, - now began to brush and part her hair, clean ber sleeping under a hedge, now lodging in a shoes, and keep her clothes seat, we felt no union-house, now in jail for acts of vagrancy, doubt of her approaching convalescence. begging from house to house, ragged and fil

The monomania for thieving is a curious thy as the filthiest mendicant. "I'bis he did form of mental abberration. Its existence is for several years in succession, until, the bardly credited ; it is not thought possible paroxysm abating, he returned to his orthat a man can pilferas senselessly as a raven dinary habits of life. The other got his or a magpie. But so it is.

living by selling matches at fairs, playing at

thimblerig, &c., and was last seen, in the “ The young man you see there,” observes Guis- society of a low prostitute, in a miserable lain, “ remarkable for his clear complexion, pleas- lodging in London, the only furniture of which ant expression of countenance, intelligent look, and good manners, has this mania; he is employed Both these young men had a home to return

was a three-legged stool and a heap of straw. here as under-attendant. The disease occurs every two or three years, and is manifested by an

to, replete with every comfort. A character excessive tendency to desire other people's prop- of this kind, Thomas H-, a surgeon by erty. This lunatic, so remarkable for his good profession, and connected, we are assured, qualities of both head and heart-amongst others, with a dignitary of the church, has begged a great desire for instruction-is a gardener by through the United Kingdom as a common trade, and steals the plants of the garden, money, mendicant and impostor for more than twenty the clothes of his fellow-workmen. He deceives most experienced attendants, and often escapes years past. We have ourselves had bim callfrom them. He spends the money he has stolen, ing upon us thrice within eighteen years, the and steals from the people with whom he lodges. last occasion being within the last six months. He barters and exchanges, and cheats every one This man is never so happy as when he has he has to do with. He gives himself up to every imposed upon the benevolence of his victim kind of roguery, commits depredations, every by a plausible tale of distress and misery, where, spends his money foolishly, and winds up for which his gentlemanly manner and style by coming to the gates of the Asylum to be ad- of feature give him great facilities. mitted. The paroxysms continue for some months, and are followed by long lucid intervals, during

Murderous malice and cunning are somewhich he conscientiously makes restitution, out times the chief characteristics of the insane. of savings, to those whom he has plundered. Dur. "Look at that young person," said the Mediing these intervals, he is wholly free from disease.” cal Superintendent of an Asylum, and we

observed a modest, gentle, amiable-looking Such is Guislain's description of the case; girl, seated sewing, remarkable only for the the moral he points is, that it would be diffi- furtive, cunning glances she gave us from cult to convince a court of law that, when in time to time. That girl bad attempted suicide a paroxysm, the young man is insane. repeatedly,-her throat bore the scars of two

Drunkenness is another vice which appears attempts to cut it,--and had committed murin the form of insanity. Guislain mentions der once if not lwice. She seemed to have, the example of a music-master, who every every now and then, an irresistible impulse

or two years, would suddenly cease to take life from the feeble and imbecile. She teaching, and give himself up to incessant would inveigle them into a corner, or to some intoxication. This would continue for three remote place, and, watching her opportunity, months; then, he would become sober as attempt to strangle them. Or she would suddenly as he became drunken, and abstain I whisper to them the most horrid threats, if

one

« VorigeDoorgaan »