תמונות בעמוד

sanity. The longest that has come officially within our knowledge was eighteen years, during which the party enjoyed the best health both mental and bodily. The second was a severe and protracted attack, followed, however, by a perfect recovery.” (p. 13.)

The Commissioners lay stress upon the advantages derived from religious ministrations in the asylums, and point out the necessity which exists for législation in order to secure the same.

The bill providing for the superannuation of managers and servants works well, and the non-professional superintendents of asylums have been gradually superseded by professional men, one of the former only now remaining. The Commissioners urge the importance of establishing clinical instruction in the asylums; and look upon the appointment of visiting Physicians as important, particularly from giving confidence to the public in the management of these institutions. The success arising from the encouragement of literary pursuits in the Irish Asylums has not been great, from the deficiency of preliminary instruction among the patients; prints, pictures, and ornaments attached to the walls.of the corridors are, however, found to be to the taste of the inmates..

The poor-houses, as with us, are stated to be unsatisfactory domiciles for the insane, and for the same reasons; and many disadvantages arise from the committal of lunatics to gaols. The Central Criminal Asylum works well; and speaking of the general habits of the patients, the Commissioners say: “It

may be remarked that they scarcely ever allude to their own offences, or to the nature of the institution itself, by drawing a distinction between it and others. Strong objections exist, and perhaps justly, to convicted thieves and felons, who become insane in prison, being mixed up with ordinary lunatics in County Asylums, as the morale of the institution, and the self-respect of untainted parties, might be injuriously affected by the association. Even were there no other reason, from this consideration alone we would recognise the advantages of a central establishment such as that at Dundrum. No doubt individuals committing offences very different in degree are detained in it, but practically no inconvenience has arisen therefrom. The lesser and greater cri. minals, if criminals they be, meet together, and never feel themselves so exempt from blame as to cast reproach on others. The sane no doubt suffer from a protracted intercourse with their maniacal and idiotic companions, an inconvenience which can only be obviated by fostering the hope that though their detention is rendered necessary by a due regard to public prejudice and the public safety, their liberation is to be dependent upon their own good conduct. The principal difficulty to contend with arises from a perversity of disposition displayed by convicts, principally on admission. They give a bad example to their fellows, so much so, that the resident physician would, if the arrangement of the house admitted it, have them placed apart in probationary wards—a practical suggestion which may be of much value in the future construction of similar establishments.”—(p. 21.)

The condition of private asylums is reported to be in several instances very creditable, in others much improved. The mortality in these establishments during the two years has been remarkably low, amounting only to 6:50 per cent. on the average under treatment; and the proportion of recoveries very satisfactory, being 36:59 per cent. as calculated upon admissions. In two instances only have special investigations been necessary, and in both they had reference to the escape of patients. The sources of complaint by the Commissioners respecting patients in private asylums rest principally on the same grounds as with us, to wit, the neglect exhibited towards patients by relatives; want of sufficient care in filling up certificates by medical men, even in well-marked cases; and the inability of permitting patients to leave the asylum on probation. The want of accommodation for persons of limited means is also much felt. The Commissioners direct attention, moreover, to the anomalous state of the law regarding lunacy inquisitions, and suggest a modification of the same.

In concluding our notice of this Report we would again direct attention to the valuable statistical appendix. We shall not enter into any details upon this portion of the Report, as comparatively recently we had occasion to present to our readers a summary of Irish Lunacy Statistics, and we shall, sooner or later, have to recur to the subject. We would, however, point out a defect in the tables which we think might be readily remedied in the preparation of other Reports, adding thus to their value, as well as to the comfort of readers. We allude to the want of summaries of the different tables, as well as of a summary of the results of previous years. By the latter addition a comparison of results would be practicable, accuracy would be secured, and the scientific value of the tables increased; by the former much labour would be saved which is now needlessly entailed upon readers, and which might be avoided by a slight additional expenditure of type on the part of the printer, and of calculation or writing on the part of the compiler.

From the whole of the Report we conclude that there is a steady and most gratifying improvement in all that relates to lunacy matters in Ireland, with one exception. The prime workers in the improvement, and the men upon whom it most depends, seem to have been forgotten; we allude to the Inspectors in Lunacy. Their salaries are quite incommensurate with the duties they perform, and as compared with those attached to several legal posts of secondary importance in the Irish Government, or with those of our own Commissioners in Lunacy, they are most parsimonious. We have had to allude to this subject on previous occasions, and we regret to find that there is still no appearance of justice being done in this respect to the Irish Inspectors in Lunacy.






In April last a Supplement to the Twelfth Report of the Commissioners in Lunacy was published, containing an account of the condition, character, and treatment of lunatics in workhouses. The matter of this supplementary report appeared to us at the time so important that we devoted an article to the question of Pauper Lunacy.* From the statistics accessible to us we came to the conclusion that there was a steady and progressive increase in the amount of pauperism from lunacy in the country; that the explanations advanced to show that this was more apparent than real were not satisfactory; and, on the authority of the Lunacy Commissioners, we ventured to express the opinion that it seemed as if our workhouses, in reference to lunatics, were “little better than hot-beds in which pauper lunacy was fostered and matured.” The Lunacy Commissioners had, indeed, asserted that the detention of lunatics in these institutions was one of the most fertile causes of the increase of lunatic paupers throughout the country. It is this that mainly tends to fill our county asylums with hopeless chronic cases, and is most directly responsible for the heavy and permanent burdens upon parish rates.”+ Moreover, in his evidence before the Select Committee on Lunatics, Session 1858-59, Lord Shaftesbury, the Chairman of the Lunacy Board, had stated the condition of lunatics in workhouses in stronger terms even than those used in the Supplementary Report of the Commissioners.

The very grave charges advanced by the Commissioners have not been suffered to pass unnoticed by the Poor-Law Board; and Mr. Andrew Doyle, one of the Inspectors of the Board, gave evidence before the last Select Committee on Lunatics, with an intention to show that the Lunacy Commissioners had been guilty of great exaggeration in what they had reported concerning workhouses. As we had conceived that, from the evidence adduced in the text and appendix to the Commissioners' Report, we were warranted in assuming the correctness of their conclusions, it is but just that we should put our readers in possession of the principal objections made by Mr. Doyle.

This gentleman characterizes the statements of Lord Shaftesbury and the Commissioners' Report in the following terms :

“I have to observe of the evidence of Lord Shaftesbury, as of the statements published by the Commissioners, that they are general allegations, almost impossible to lay hold of, but that whenever I have been able to put my finger upon particular statements

, I have found nine out of ten, in some important respect or other, at variance with the facts as I have found them upon investigation.. “Do you confine your contradiction, to your own district only, or do you apply it to the rest of the kingdom generally?- I apply it emphatically to the whole of the kingdom, upon evidence which I am prepared to give before the Committee. I shall show that the cases selected by the Commissioners, as illustrations of the bad condition of work houses, are the only cases that have occurred, and that their complaints are, in nine out of ten cases, inconsistent with evidence in the office of the Commissioners in Lunacy. That I am prepared to prove."*

* See Vol. xii. p. 337, + Supplementary Report, p. 34,

Mr. Doyle, however, makes an important distinction between the Special Reports of the Commissioners on different workhouses and their General Report. He says :

“As I have stated before, I have not found, so far as I can judge, one word of exaggeration from the beginning to the end of the Reports of the Commis. sioners. Accidental mistakes I have found. But I have found exaggeration, misstatements, and incorrect quotations of the Reports of the Commissioners in this Supplemental Report. Of the separate Reports of the Commissioners, as to their impartiality and general fairness, I cannot speak too highly. It is impossible that any document can contrast in those qualities more remarkably with them than the Supplemental Report which professes to be founded upon them."-(Qy. 1983.)

In support of these assertions, Mr. Doyle instanced, first, a statement made respecting the Blackburn workhouse, at p. 23 of the Supplemental Report. It is there said that," at an inclement season of the year, there was not more than one blanket on any bed, and on many there were none whatever.” In the special reports on the Blackburn workhouse contained in the appendix to the General Report, it is stated, under the date of 29th October, 1859, simply, that “only one blanket is allowed to each patient in the coldest weather;" and under date of 31st July, 1858, that the beds were clean," but there is no blanket either above or below the patients.” Mr. Doyle remarks that when the last statement was referred to the guardians, their answer was,

“ that there were no blankets upon the beds, in consequence of the heat of the weather, the paupers having requested that they might be taken off.” This was given as one illustration of inaccuracy and misstatement, and may be fairly granted.

Again, the Commissioners recorded several examples of the dangers arising from discharging imbeciles or idiots from workhouses without médical sanction. In the Newark workhouse there had been found,

among other instances," two females, “who, although classed as of weak mind, were in the habit of discharging themselves, and after a short absence returning in the family way. Upon this statement, Mr. Doyle remarks~" That is perfectly true; the guardians assumed that they had no right to detain them.” In the Walsall workhouse an idiotic female was found who had had four illegitimate children. It would appear, however, that the youngest was six years old before the woman was admitted to the workhouse. This, therefore, is not a legitimate illustration. In the Monmouth work house two imbecile paupers were met with, “each of whom had had three illegitimate children, and one of whom was again pregnant.” To this Mr. Doyle answers, that “they were not certified as idiots, and the guardians could

Report of Select Committee on Lunatics, Session 1859. Queries 1972–1974.


This woman,

not detain them." This is simply a quibble. In the Tamworth work. house there were two idiotic women who had each had a child, but it would seem that they first came into the workhouse pregnant with those children. The last case referred to by Mr. Doyle occurred at the Mortley workhouse, in Worcestershire. " A female who had for some time been classed as of weak mind, was struck off the list in 1856, and was allowed to leave the house for the purpose of saving expense to the parish by earning something at hop-picking. This woman had pre, viously had two illegitimate children by paupers in the house, one of whom had died; the other (a girl about ten years of age) she took with her, on quitting the house, to her mother's home. When there, she and her daughter slept in the same room with her father-in-law and her mother, and in the same bed with two of her brothers. The result of this indecency was, that she returned to the workhouse in the family way, and was delivered of a child, the father of which she distinctly stated to be one of her brothers, but which she was unable to specify. though able to perform some useful work, was decidedly of weak mind, and there can be no doubt that, under the circumstances, the guardians were justified in detaining her in the work house, and that they ought not to have sanctioned her quitting it.” Mr. Doyle's explanation of this is, that the woman was not classed as an idiot in 1856, she having been struck off the list of idiots, by the medical officer in October, 1855, and that “the statement that the guardians had the power to detain her was perfectly preposterous, even if their medical officer had not certified that she was not an idiot.”—(Qy. 1997.) This may explain the mode in which freedom of action was given to an erotic imbecile, but it is no justification of that freedom. For the credit of humanity we will admit that the guardians did not allow the woman to leave the workhouse in 1856" for the sake of saving a few shillings ;" but can we justify them for not having taken the necessary steps to remove her to an asylum if she could not be legally detained in a workhouse ? Could any argument show more emphatically than this last story and the exculpation offered for it, the unfitness of workhouses for the confinement of lunatics or imbeciles. This woman had had two children to paupers in the workhouse (a curious comment on the propriety of keeping persons of weak mind in these institutions), and although manifestly an erotic imbecile, as the remarks of the visiting Lunacy Commissioner and the history of the case show, she is allowed to leave the house uncontrolled, under the cover of a legal quibble--for Mr. Doyle's objection amounts to nothing more than that. We admit the inaccuracy of the illustrations from Walsall and Tamworth ; but Mr. Doyle's explanations have clenched the truthfulness of the remainder.

Mr. Doyle next makes a trifling objection to a remark concerning the Blackburn workhouse, and he then proceeded to the question of restraint, and said :

“I find it stated by the Commissioners that mechanical control ‘is habitually employed to restrain the idle and mischievous propensities of patients.' I have gone through the whole of the Reports of the Commissioners in Lunacy (for two years) that were accessible to me, nearly 600 out of the whole 650, and I find the number in which they complain of restraint being imposed is only

« הקודםהמשך »