« AnteriorContinua »
well's tract, by merely remarking, that we think some credit is due to him for his courage in crying down the common cantfor cant it is—that religion is so much the occasion of mad.
The last in the list of the pamphlets under notice, is penned by no common hand. It contains in the first place a general sketch of the act of the 14th of his present Majesty, intituled, “ an act for regulating Madhouses;” which is followed by an outline of the “Bill to repeal that act, and for making other provisions in lieu thereof,” which passed through the House of Commons in the year 1814. The objections of the writer to this last bill are made against that part of it, in which it principally differs from the previous one, viz. to the mode of granting licenses, and the powers given to the visiters. We do not perceive the validity of his objections respecting the application of new laws to establishments already existing, for such an enforcement would not, as in the case of apothecaries and attorneys, deprive the individuals to whom they should apply, of their means of sustenance; and, it should be recollected, that one of the prime objects which the framers of the new bill had in view, was to correct already existing abuses in lunatic establishments.
Nor does it appear to us, that the person to be licensed must be so hardly dealt with by the discretionary powers being vested in the hands of the commissioners; for, independently of the circumstance of such commissioners being chosen from a liberal and respectable class of men, there would be very little apprehensions of sinister motives guiding their decision; inasmuch as the refusal of a license, or impediments of any kind to the present licentiate's views and wishes, would not be the act merely of one individual. It would appear, however, as far as relates to the laws of visiting, to be a greater safeguard to the rights of the masters of houses, were the visiting magistrates in the county districts required to be at least four instead of two in number; and it would be, perhaps, expedient, that two of these four should be selected from gentlemen resident in a part of the county distant from that in which the establishment existed; as too much care cannot be used to prevent the operation of local prejudices and
party interests. It is to be recollected that both Commissioners and visiters, in case of their decisions being inconsistent with justice, are liable to be convicted of improper conduct, by the act giving to the aggrieved person apower of appeal.
With respect to the right of removal being in the hands of the visiters, we think, upon the whole, that this is calculated to have a salutary effect as an in terrorem preventive of abuses; and it is not likely that the censors in question would very readily take upon themselves the heavy responsibility of ordering the liberation of any individual, unless the proofs of sanity were of too marked a character to admit of indecision or doubt.
That clause in the Act, which requires the visiters of asylums to direct that one or more accessible pumps be placed in certain parts of the premises, we think liable to all the objections which the author brings against it. We think too, that his charge of injustice is valid against that clause of the bill relating to payments of licenses for a part of the year, however small. But our limits prevent us from pursuing the subject further, and we shall now bring the discussion to a close, by again stating, in a very few words, our general sentiments respecting the treatment of insanity, and on what has been already, and ought further to be done, towards meliorating the condition of the unhappy subjects of mental derangement.
It will have been gathered from what has been advanced in the course of these pages, that our dependance on medicine, merely, is exceedingly small. There is a want of tangible decision, if we may so express it, in the pathology of lunacy; and its treatment must, by consequence, be, at present at least, in a great measure empirical. If any medicinal agents deserve to be preferred to others in affections of the mind, they are, perhaps, purgatives, regularly and perseveringly administered, and the warm-bath. Our few short extracts afford sufficient evidence of what is to be done by air, exercise, cleanliness, classification of patients, duly regulated bodily and mental occupation, and lastly, assiduous endeavours on the part of the superintendents to excite new trains of thought, and new habits and associations. It will have been remarked, that in
those establishments in which the above advantages were insured to the sufferers by the skill and humanity of the keepers, good was in the same proportion invariably effected.
In regard to legislative enactment, we really think that Mr. Rose's-bill, a little modified, might effect all that is desirable to be done. There is, however, in our judgment, a loud call for County Establishments. These ought not to be optional, but compulsory, and each county should bear its own expenditure. The erections ought not to be suffered, until a plan of the building, its situation, and dimensions, shall have been presented to, and approved of by the commissioners of lunatic asylums. These buildings, when erected and occupied, should be subjected to precisely the same regulations and restrictions as the private asylums; and it would of course be desirable to avoid every expense that is not necessary to the comfort and well-being of the inmates of the respective houses. We may in conclusion express our belief, that a certain degree of reform must be the consequence of the investigation that has been excited, and of the regulations that are proposed; and although experience teaches us, in cases of this kind not to expect perfection, yet we feel convinced that much and lasting good will be conferred upon the community, by the recent labours of the House of Commons to improve the condition of Madhouses in England.
Died, at his house in Sambrook-court, after a few days illness, aged 71, John COAKLEY LETTSOM, M. D. F. R. S. &c. one of the ornaments of the age, a useful benefactor of mankind, a philanthropist in the truest sense of the word, and a man whose like the world will seldom witness. He was born in a small island near Tortola, about three miles in circumference, called Little Van Dyke, in the year 1744: his ancestors, on the father's side, originated from Letsom, or, as it is called in Doomsday-book, Ledsom, a small village in Cheshire: on the mother's side they are lineally descended from Sir Cæsar Coakley, an Irish baronet, whose family have uniformly possessed a seat in the parliament of that kingdom, the last of whom was Sir Vesey Coakley. When about six years of age he was sent to England for his education. His future destiny was determined by the accidental circumstance of his landing at a sea-port, where Mr. Samuel Fothergill, a celebrated preacher among the quakers, and own brother to the late distinguished physician of the same name, happened to be on a visit; and he was received into the very same house in which the preacher lodged. After leaving Dr. Sutcliff, he came to town, and assiduously attended St. Thomas's Hospital for two years; he then went back to his native soil, to take possession of a property which came to him by the death of his father, and elder brother, who, having contrived to run through an ample fortune, in a few years, left very little of the family estate to be inherited by the Doctor, except a number of negro slaves, whom, to his honour, he emancipated; and, in the twentythird year of his age, as he has often told the writer of this article, found himself five hundred pounds worse than nothing. The fortune of Mr. Lettsom was henceforth, therefore, solely to be made as a medical practitioner; and, as difficulty begets exertion, so strenuous were his endeavours, and so extensive was his practice in Tortola, where he settled, that in a very short time, he was enabled to return to Europe, and to visit VOL. VI.
the great medical schools of Paris, Edinburgh, and Leyden; at the latter of which universities he took his degree. To complete his education, he visited, besides Paris, most of the places of resort for the relief of invalids abroad; as Spa, in Westphalia, Aix-la-Chapelle, and various others. When he visited Paris, he carried, among other honourable recommendations, the following one from Dr. Franklin to Monsieur Dubourg.
Londres, 30 Août, 1760. 6* ***** Cette lettre vous sera remise
le Docteur Lettsom, jeune médecin, amériquain de beaucoup de mérite, qui est de la paisible secte des Trembleurs, et que vous regarderiez conséquemment au moins comme une rareté à contempler, quand même vous auriez épousé toutes les préventions de la plûpart de vos compatriotes sur le compte de ces bonnes gens.”—Euvres de Franklin, tom. ii. p. 314. Paris, 1773. He was afterwards introduced to the celebrated Macquer, Le Roy, and other characters conspicuous at that period, and with whom he corresponded till their decease. He published the life of his friend Dubourg, in the first volume of the Memoirs of the Medical Society of London. After this circuit, he repaired to London, where he finally settled, with the undeviating friendship of his old guardian, and the patronage of his brother, the physician, whose life he has lived to publish to evince his gratitude. About the year 1769, he was admitted a member of the Royal College of Physicians; the year after, he was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries; and in the year succeeding that, a fellow of the Royal Society. Amongst the most remarkable public services that Doctor Lettsom has rendered his country, was his contest with, and complete conquest of, the most famous of all the most famous water-doctors, the redoubted Mayersbach. Doctor Lettsom's writings are very numerous, as well moral as medical, and all of them discover the philanthropist and physician; the whole on the basis of public good. We are pleased with the opportunity of presenting a more accurate list of them than has yet been given:
1. Reflections on the general Treatment and Cure of Fevers, 8vo. 1772. 2s.