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WORKS PREPARING FOR PUBLICATION,
One Vol. 8vo,
On Softening, and other Obscure Diseases
of the Brain.
One Vol. Svo,
The Physician: His Vocation.
In No. II. of this Journal will be published,
Part I. of a series of Papers on
Idiocy, and other forms of Arrest of Intelligence
occurring in Early Life,
A Psychological Quarterly Retrospect.
[BY THE EDITOR.]
DURING the past quarter, two vacancies on the Board of Lunacy Commissioners have occurred; one occasioned by the retirement of Dr. Turner, and the second by the death of Mr. Mylne, the barrister. Dr. Turner's unfortunate infirmity of sight was considered materially to interfere with his usefulness and the efficient performance of his duties; and, consequently, it was considered necessary that he should vacate his official position, if not to a better man, at least to one who had a perfect use of his visual powers. Dr. Turner was much esteemed by all who had an opportunity of witnessing the unvarying gentlemanly urbanity, kindness, and tact with which he uniformly performed the duties assigned to him as one of the Medical Commissioners in Lunacy. He always exhibited great judgment in the exercise of his responsible functions; and whenever he had suggestions to make with reference to the domestic conduct of lunatic asylums, or the treatment of those confined in institutions licensed for the care and treatment of the insane, it was done with great gentlemanly discrimination, and with a kind and delicate consideration and regard for the feelings of others. Although exercising great authority, and armed with stringent legal powers, he had the good taste never to let others feel that they were in a position subordinate to himself. His loss will be on this account, severely felt. His great experience in the investigation of cases of insanity much enhanced the value of his opinion on all occasions, and gave undeniable confidence in his judgment. It is understood that the Treasury has granted Dr. Turner a retiring pension of £350 per annum,-a small pittance considering his advanced age, and the lengthened period zealously devoted to anxious and important official services.
Mr. Mylne's death has caused a vacancy among the legal members of the board of the Commissioners. This gentleman's health had for some time given his family and friends cause for much anxiety. He suffered from great bronchial irritation, of which he is reported ultimately to have died at his residence in Onslow Square. One vacancy has been filled up by the appointment of Dr. Wilkes, for many years Medical Superintendent of the Stafford County Lunatic Asylum; and Mr. Lutwidge, who for a considerable period has efficiently occupied the post of NO. I.-NEW SERIES.
Secretary to the Board of Commissioners in Lunacy, is appointed successor to Mr. Mylne. Dr. Wilkes brings to the performance of his duties a large amount of practical experience. He was appointed, within the last twelve months, one of the Commissioners to visit and report on the condition of Irish Lunatic Asylums; and in the performance of this duty he is said to have exhibited great business and administrative talent. Dr. Wilkes's antecedents are all in his favour : he will undoubtedly earn fresh laurels in his new sphere of usefulness. Mr. Lutwidge for many years acted as a commissioner in lunacy under a former statute, having been appointed to that post by Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst. He, therefore, possesses the recommendation of experience. His appointment will give unqualified satisfaction to the profession as well as the public. He is an active, accomplished, and sagacious lawyer, and will resume his post of Visiting Commissioner with a conscientious determination to discharge the duties devolving upon him with judicious zeal.
The nomination of Dr. Wilkes to the Medical Commissionership has created a vacancy of Medical Superintendent at the Stafford County Asylum. The post is a lucrative one, the salary being £700 per annum.
The subject of intemperance, as a type of disease requiring legal interference, has frequently been a topic of discussion in the "Psychological Journal.” This question has recently been litigated in the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh. We extract from a local paper the following report of the proceedings, which will, no doubt, prove of interest to the English public :
“The Court met to-day, December 8, on the rising of the Second Division, to consider the note of suspension and liberation, previously before them in preliminary stages, of Mr. Ġiles Gerard-lately residing in Elgin, and now a prisoner in Morningside Asylum-against Mr. William Grigor, ProcuratorFiscal of Elgin. The complainant--a gentleman of independent fortune-had been examined by the Sheriff Substitute of Elgin, under the Lunacy Act, and, on the evidence of his wife, his medical attendant, and others, been found by the sheriff to be “furious and fatuous, or a lunatic, and in a state threatening danger to the lieges,' and was by him committed to a lunatic ylum, which it was eventually arranged should be the asylum at Morningside. From the evidence taken before the sheriff, it appeared that Mr. Gerard was subject to frequent fits of furiosity; arising, it was said, among other causes, from intemperance, and in this condition was dangerous to his family. The complainer craved liberation on the plea principally of wrongous detention and sanity, and subsidiarily on several grounds of informality. He adduced the joint certificate of Dr. Christison and Dr. Combe, that they were unable to discover any indications of insanity, and believed him to be at the present time sane. A certificate was produced, on the other hand, from the physicians of the asylum, stating they had not, during his brief residence there, been able to satisfy themselves that he was of perfectly sound mind, or capable of so regulating his conduct as not to be dangerous either to himself or others. The principal question argued on Saturday was the competency of the sheriff's judgment. Mr. Logan and Mr. Young appeared for the complainer ; the Dean of Faculty and Mr. A.R. Clark for the respondent; and Mr. Andrew Mure for Mrs. Gerard. After hearing the case, the Court were divided in opinion. The Lord JusticeClerk, Lord Cowan, and Lord Deas, were of opinion it was sufficient in the case that the sheriff should be satisfied, and that, therefore, his judgment was perfectly correct. Without deciding that point, or reviewing his decision, they also thought that, upon the evidence, it was a right one. What the result of throwing further light on the complainer's past and present state might be, their lordships did not anticipate, but this detention was not necessarily a permanent one; it being only, until cured.' It was unnecessary, on the other hand, that the furiosity should be continuous; for occasional and intermittent bursts of furiosity on the part of a person, at other moments sane, might be sufficient to warrant such proceedings; while the danger to his family, from these fits, entitled them to this protection. Lords Handyside and Ardmillan took a different view. Ascribing the furiosity to intemperance, they thought the application of the Lunacy Act an extreme and unusual remedy. It was proved, said Lord Ardmillan, that the complainer was a violent man; but it was not proved he was a madman. It was no proof that a man was mad, because, when drunk, he did violent or furious things. That might make him a fit subject for police restraint, but it did not justify his being shut up as a lunatic. Many thousand husbands, perhaps, were drunk in Glasgow every Saturday night, and a large proportion of them probably were violent, but were they to crowd their lunatic asylums with these men ? The Court, by a majority, thus sustained the sheriff's decision. The case, however, will come up again, on an application by Mr. Gerard's counsel to have a fuller inquiry into his present and past condition."
There has been much gossip in the literary and scientific world relative to some Spirit Rapping experiments, alleged to have been performed at the private residence of Mr. Rymer, a London solicitor, at Ealing, in the presence of Lord Brougham, Sir David Brewster, Mr. Hume, and Mrs. Trollope. All these distinguished individuals are reported to have become converts to the spiritual phenomena. Sir David Brewster has, however, since deemed it necessary to repudiate the fact of his conversion. Lord Brougham and Mrs. Trollope have not spoken out on the subject. Sir David Brewster's letter will be read with interest, and deserves to be placed permanently on record. He writes,
“It is true that I saw at Cox's Hotel, in company with Lord Brougham, and at Ealing, in company with Mrs. Trollope, several mechanical effects which I was unable to explain. But though I could not account for all these effects, I never thought of ascribing them to spirits stalking beneath the drapery of the table; and I saw enough to satisfy myself that they could all be produced by human hands and feet, and to prove to others that some of them, at least, had such an origin. Were Mr. Hume (the American medium) to assume the character of the Wizard of the West, I would enjoy his exhibition as much as that of other conjurers; but when he pretends to possess the power of introducing among the feet of his audience the spirits of the dead, of bringing them into physical communication with their dearest relatives, and of revealing the secrets of the grave, he insults religion and common sense, and tampers with the most sacred feelings of his victims.” In another letter Sir David enters in more detail into what Lord Brougham and he saw done by “the spirits," and what they did not see: It is not true that the accordion played an air throughout in Lord Brougham's hands. It merely squeaked. It is not true, as stated in an article referred to by Mr. Hume, that Lord Brougham's 'watch was taken
out of his pocket, and found in the hands of some other person in the room.' No such experiment was tried. .... At Mr. Cox's house, Nr. Hume, Mr. Cox, Lord Brougham, and myself sat down to a small table, Mr. Hume having previously requested us to examine if there was any machinery about his person, an examination, however, which we declined to make. When all our hands were upon the table noises were heard-rappings in abundance; and, finally, when we rose up the table actually rose, as appeared to me, from the ground.
. . . Besides the experiments with the accordion, already mentioned, a small hand-bell to be rung by the spirits, was placed on the ground, near my feet. I placed my feet round it in the form of an angle, to catch any intrusive apparatus. The bell did not ring; but when taken to a place near Mr. Hume's feet, it speedily came across and placed its handle in my hand. This was amusing. It did the same thing bunglingly to Lord Brougham, by knocking itself against his lordship’s knuckles, and after a jingle it fell
. The séance was most curious at Ealing, where I was a more watchful and a more successful observer. I will not repeat the revelations made to Mrs. Trollope, who was there, lest I should wound the feelings of one so accomplished and sensible. I remember them with unmingled pain. The spirits were here very active, prolific in raps of various intonations, making long tables heavy or light at command; tickling knees, male and female, but always on the side next the medium; tying knots in handkerchiefs drawn down from the table, and afterwards tossed upon it; and prompting Mr. Hume, when he had thrown himself into a trance, to a miserable paraphrase on the Lord's Prayer. During these experiments I made some observations worthy of notice. On one occasion, the Spirit gave a strong affirmative answer to a question by three raps, unusually loud. They proceeded from a part of the table exactly within the reach of Mr. Hume's foot, and I distinctly saw three movements in his loins, perfectly simultaneous with the three raps.”
We have to record among the deaths the decease of Dr. T. Romeyn Beck, one of the able and active managers of the New York State Lunatic Asylum. The readers of the “ American Journal of Insanity” are, no doubt, familiar with his name. He took a deep interest in the success of our accomplished American contemporary, and watched with great care the progress of the cases under treatment in the State Asylum previously referred to. The following eloquent eulogium
Dr. Beck is copied from the Albany Evening Journal of November 19th :
“ Dr. Beck's health had been gradually declining for several months. In the absence of any organic disease, hopes of his recovery were entertained until some few weeks ago, when an unfavourable opinion was obtained froin high medical authority. Since that period his family and friends, prepared for the worst, have awaited an event which bereaves them and the community of a man who in all things was the type and exemplar of his race.
“Dr. Beck's mission was one of practical usefulness. During the quarter of a century that he devoted himself laboriously to the instruction of youth, as the principal of our academy, people wondered how a man so gifted could content himself with a position so comparatively humble. The answer is, that Dr. Beck was unselfish and unambitious. He loved his school, his friends, his associates, and above all his home. These were, to him, sources of happiness too precious to be sacrificed. He pursued, therefore, with diligence and cheerfulness, the even tenor of his way,' raising up generation after generation of thoroughly educated young men, whose first duty and highest privilege through