§ Lord Ashley
in rising to bring forward the Motion of which he had given notice, for an Address to the Crown, praying Her Majesty to take into her consideration the Report of the Metropolitan Commissioners in Lunacy to the Lord Chancellor, presented to the House by command of Her Majesty, said it would be necessary for him shortly to explain the reasons which actuated him. First, the nature of the subject and the protraction of inquiry had inevitably delayed the production of the Report to this period of the Session. Secondly, the statute under which the Commissioners acted would expire in the next Session, and it would be necessary to call upon the House to consider in what form and to what extent power should be confided to any administrative body for the government of lunatics throughout the Kingdom. It was desirable, therefore, that the country should not be taken by surprise, but that these weighty matters should be maturely considered during the approaching recess. He had been unwilling to bring forward this subject at all, but his colleagues in the Commission had thought that the novelty of the subject, the great expenses incurred and the vast numbers who were subject to this jurisdiction, would justify him in calling 1258 the attention or the House to it. Though the Report embraced a variety of matters, those with which he had to deal were limited to the civil and external government of lunacy; it was the duty of the House to prescribe the conditions under which a man should be deprived of his liberty, and also those under which he might be released; it was their duty to take care that for those who required restraint there should be provided kind and competent keepers, and that, while the patient received no injury, the public should be protected. Insane patients were lodged either in single houses, in public or county asylums, or in private asylums where paupers were received. With respect to the first class there were no Returns, the Commissioners were precluded by the statute from any interference in such circumstances, and he must take the opportunity of saying that he thought this a most unfortunate enactment, not that he wished to claim for the Board the invidious and burthensome power of examining and censuring the neglect of private families, but because he believed that a power of this kind ought to be confided to some hands that would hunt out and expose the many horrible abuses that at present prevailed. No doubt there were many worthy exceptions, but the House had no notion of the abominations that prevailed in those asylums. It was the concession of absolute secret and irresponsible power to the relatives of lunatics and the keepers of the asylums, and exposing them to temptations which he believed human nature was too weak to resist. There were many patients in these single houses for whom were paid not less than 500l. per annum. This was a temptation to keep such a patient in perpetual confinement, because with the returning health of the sufferer the allowance would be discontinued. So strong was his opinion of the bad effect of this, that if Providence should afflict any near relative of his with insanity, he would consign him to an asylum in which there were other patients, and which was subjected to official visitation. The only control they had over the single houses was this—that if a patient resided in one more than a twelvemonth, the owner of the house was compelled to communicate under seal the name of that patient to the Clerk of the Commission. But for the most part no notice whatever was taken of this law, and 1259 it was frequently evaded by removing the patient, after a residence of eleven months, to some other lodging. He knew the delicacy of the subject, but it was one with which the Legislature ought to interfere. The second class of houses was the county asylums. The total number of lunatics and idiots chargeable to unions and parishes on the 1st of January, 1844, was 16,821; in England, 15,601; in Wales, 1,220. In county asylums there was provision for no more than 4,155 persons, leaving more than 12,000, of whom there were in asylums under local acts 89, in Bethlehem and St. Luke's 121, in other public asylums 343, while others were disposed of otherwise, leaving in workhouses and elsewhere 9,339. Although a few of the existing county asylums were well adapted to their purpose, and a very large proportion of them were extremely well conducted, yet some were quite unfit for the reception of insane persons. Some were placed in ineligible sites, and others were deficient in the necessary means of providing out-door employment for their paupers. Some also were ill-contrived and defective in their internal construction and accommodation. Some afforded every advantage of science and medical treatment; others were wholly deficient in these points. All of them, however, had the advantage of constant supervision, and of not giving any profit to the superintendents, so that it was not necessary that the keeper should stint and spare his patients in the articles necessary for the curative process, with the view of realising a profit. Some of the country asylums were stated in the Report to be admirably managed. It might be invidious to specify, but he would mention those of Wakefield, Hanwell, Lincoln, Lancaster, and Gloucester. Why, then, were not these institutions multiplied? At this moment there were twenty-one counties in England and Wales without any asylum whatever, public or private. The expense was one cause; in some cases the cost of construction had been exceedingly great; the asylum most cheaply constructed was that of Wakefield, of which the average cost per head was 111l.; while the highest priced was that of Gloucester, which had cost, on the first accommodation, 357l. per head. In many cases, the cost of construction had exceeded 200l. per head. The cost of the Bedford asylum, for 180 patients, was 1260 20,500l.; that of the Gloucester, for 261 patients, 51,366l.; that of the Kent, for 300 patients, was 64,056l.; that of Hanwell, for 1,000 patients, was 160,000l., exclusive of 36,000l. paid since July, 1835, for furniture and fittings. On the other hand, the best constructed union houses in the country had not cost more than 40l. a-head. No doubt a lunatic asylum was more expensive, but not in that enormous degree. The reason of this difference he did not know, except that many of them had been constructed with a great display of architecture. The Commission had no wish to advise the erection of unsightly buildings, but they thought that no unnecessary cost should be incurred in the erection of asylums. Some asylums were far too large, and on this subject the Report said,The asylum for Kent will contain 300, for Surrey 360, for West Riding 420, for Lancaster 600, and for Middlesex 1,000. From the best opinions that we have been able to collect, and from the result of our own observations and experience, we think it is highly desirable that no asylum for curable lunatics should contain more than 250 patients, and that 200 is perhaps as large a number as can be managed, with the most benefit to themselves and the public, in one establishment.The principle had been recognized in the district asylums of Ireland, and they had the great authority of Dr. Conolly for saying that 100 persons were the highest number that could be managed, with convenience, in one of these asylums. It would be better to have two of a moderate size than one very large, to which patients would be brought from a great distance. The asylums of Lancaster and Middlesex were so excessively overgrown that it was impossible to do full justice to the patients kept in them. And yet he feared that further enlargements were in contemplation. The third class was that of private asylums, which received persons who paid their own expenses, and also paupers. The total number of private patients in asylums of various descriptions, on the 1st of January, 1844, was 4,072; of these there were in metropolitan licensed houses, 973; in provincial, 1426. The paupers in private or licensed houses were—metropolitan, 854; provincial, 1,920. With respect to these a very serious question arose, how far any house should be licensed to take patients or paupers for payment. He knew there were some very good houses of that description, but the 1261 principle was very dangerous. Whatever might be the opinion of the House as to places of reception for wealthy and independent patients, he considered there could be very little doubt as to cases in which paupers were sent to such houses to be maintained, at the low rate of seven or eight shillings, out of which the proprietor was to feed, and clothe, and house the patient, and carry on the remedial process, paying all these expenses, and still getting a profit. In the metropolitan districts, at one time, the competition was so great that they were preparing to take persons at seven and even six shillings a-head; but the Commissioners had done everything they could to discountenance this, and to a certain extent they had succeeded, though they were still taken at eight and nine shillings. But in the country this evil was still altogether unchecked, as the extracts from the Report, which he should now read to the House, would show:—Many asylums had formerly been private houses; the mansion was sometimes engrossed by the proprietor and a few private patients, while the paupers were consigned to buildings formerly used as offices and outhouses.The following were the remarks of the Commissioners on some of these houses:—West Auckland—Thirteen males, sixteen females; the violent and the quiet, the dirty and the clean, shut up together; only one small yard, and when the one sex was in it, the other shut up; in the day room of the males five restrained by leg locks, and two wearing, in addition, iron handcuffs and fetters from the wrist to the ancle, all tranquil, but they would otherwise escape; chains fastened to floor in many places, and to many of the bedsteads; the males throughout the house slept two in a bed. Wreckenton, near Gateshead—Chains attached to the floor in several places, and it was the practice to chain patients by the leg upon their first admission, in order, as it was said, to see what they would do; bedding filthy, cell offensive, also sleeping room; improved by visitation, but still unfit. Licensed house at Derby—Damp, unhealthy; bedding in a disgusting condition from running sores. At Lainston, in Hants—Even on third visit seven female paupers in chains; these seven and three others chained to their beds at night; the usual accompaniments of dirty, wet, and ill-clothed. Kingdown-house, at Box—the same details. House of Industry, Kingsland, near Shrewsbury — Containing from eighty to ninety insane persons. They were nearly all fastened to their beds by chains to the wrists. Union House, Redruth, in 1262 Cornwall—Forty-one insane persons, several violent and requiring restraint. Ditto at Bath—Twenty-one insane persons. At Leicester—Thirty insane persons; namely, eleven males and nineteen females, of whom three males and nine females were dangerous. Of the males, W. K. was a noisy maniac, very cunning, and occasionally striking the other men in the ward. P. R. was subject to maniacal attacks, during which he was placed in a strait waistcoat; he was raving mad about two months before our visit, and was consequently fastened to his bed at night, to prevent him from injuring or annoying the other inmates. A. H. was violent and passionate, and tried to cut others with knives, and all these persons were dangerous. Amongst the other cases J. L., an epileptic; J. D., a case of melancholia; J. G., formerly in the asylum, and still insane, noisy, and abusive: the rest of the males of the class appeared to be either harmless idiots, or in a state of mental imbecility. The three most dangerous of the females were C. B., admitted June 12, 1839, a destructive and dangerous idiot; M. H., admitted the 23rd of February, 1839, an abusive and dangerous lunatic: she was brought to the workhouse in a state of violent excitement by two policemen. M. A. R., admitted the 24th of February, 1841, a quarrelsome and dangerous idiot, once knocked out the teeth of a child. To these may be added the following as properly coming within the description of dangerous lunatics:—M. B., a sullen, ill-tempered person, who refused to be employed, and had threatened, when at home, to kill her mother. A. W., in the workhouse three years, an abusive lunatic, who had occasionally struck most of the women in the ward, particularly a paralytic patient, who could not defend herself. J. S., an irritable mad woman, who threw knives at those whom she happened to have a dispute with, E. H., a violent, irascible person, subject to maniacal excitement, and dangerous when irritated. She had been twenty-six weeks in the county asylum, having become unmanageable at home after the death of her mother sixteen years ago, and was said to strike the inmates maliciously. A. H., a harmless lunatic, with delusions, was most improperly sent to the workhouse instead of the asylum four years ago, Besides the above, there were in the house six quiet female lunatics, all confirmed cases, and five idiots. Workhouse at Birmingham—Seventy-one insane persons, amongst them was an unusual proportion of epileptics, namely, eleven males and sixteen females. Several of these were idiots, others were subject, after their paroxysms of epilepsy, to fits of raving madness or epileptic fever, during which they were stated to be excessively violent. Besides these, there were several patients who were occasionally under great excitement and furiously maniacal, two of the females had strong suicidal propensities, and one of them had attempted suicide. There is no class of persons more dangerous 1263 than are those epileptics who are subject to attacks of epileptic furor or delirium.Of Plympton, in Devonshire, the Commissioners said,—In one of the cells in the upper court for the women, the dimensions of which were eight feet by four, and in which there was no table, and only two wooden seats fastened to the wall, we found three females confined, there was no glazing to the window, and the floor of this place was perfectly wet with urine. The two dark cells which adjoin the cell used for a day room, are the sleeping places for these three unfortunate beings, two of them sleep in two cribs in one cell. The floor in the cell with the two cribs was actually reeking wet with urine, and covered with straw and filth, and one crib had a piece of old carpet by way of bedding besides the straw, but the other appeared to have had nothing but straw, without any other bedding. In the other cell, the patient who had slept in it had broken her crib to pieces, and a part of it was remaining in the cell, but the straw was heaped up in one corner, and as far as we could rely upon what was said, she had slept upon the straw upon the ground, at least one night. The straw itself was most filthy, the floor was perfectly wet with urine, and part of the straw had been stuck to the wall in patches with excrement. It must be added that these two cells, and one other adjoining to it, have no window and no place for light or air, except a grate over the door, which opens into a passage. The persons of these three unfortunate women were extremely dirty, and the condition in which we found them and their cells was truly sickening and shocking. Adjoining to the two sleeping cells of these women, and opening into the same passage, was a third cell, which was occupied as a sleeping place by a male criminal of very dangerous habits and an idiotic boy. This cell was dirty and offensive, and the floor of it wet with urine, but it was not in so filthy a state as the other two. The criminal was fastened at night to his bed with a chain. We strongly objected to these men being confined in a cell closely adjoining to the females. The whole of these cells were as damp and dark as an underground cellar, and were in such a foul and disgusting state that it was scarcely possible to endure the offensive smell. We sent for a candle and lantern to enable us to examine them.That asylum had since been improved, but it was in consequence of repeated visitations. To correct these evils (proceeded the noble Lord) there was no remedy but the multiplication of county asylums; and if advice and example failed, they ought to appeal to the assistance of the law, to compel the construction of an adequate number of asylums over the whole country. If constructed, however, on the same 1264 principles as had been adopted in many of those now existing, they would be little better than useless, and mere hospitals for incurables. Great benefit, it was to be observed, as well as great saving of expense, resulted from the application of curative means at an early stage of insanity. The keepers of all the great asylums stated that numbers of persons, especially pauper lunatics, were sent there at so late a period of the disease as totally to preclude hope of recovery. It was the duty of the State to provide receptacles for the incurable patients, apart from those devoted to the remedial treatment: it would be necessary also to enact that the patients should be sent without delay to the several asylums. On this subject he would read a few observations of the Commissioners. With reference to Hanwell they said:—The county asylum is nearly filled with incurable lunatics, and almost all the recent cases are practically excluded from it. When we visited it in March last, there were 984 patients, of whom only thirty were reported curable, and there were 429 patients belonging to the county out of the asylum, who, if they wait for the rota before they are admitted, will probably have become incurable, and will be lunatic annuitants upon the county or their parishes. Lancaster asylum contains 600 patients, of whom 546 are considered incurable; and there are more than 500 pauper lunatics in the county for whom it has no accommodation. Surrey Asylum opened in 1841, on 1st January, 1844, number in asylum, 382, of whom 362 are reported incurable; there are belonging to the county of Surrey 591 pauper lunatics. This was a most costly system. The superintending physician of Hanwell Asylum published a table in 1842, to show how long each patient had been confined there. There were 936 in the asylum; 696 had been there more than two years, and were pronounced incurable. The average duration of confinement of these 696 was upwards of six years and nine months. The yearly cost was about 22l. 4s. for each patient; each patient, therefore, will have cost 140l. "It should not be forgotten," the Report said, "that many pauper lunatics have families, who would no longer be thrown on parishes for support, if their mental maladies could be removed, or even materially ameliorated.But the benefits of early attention were most evident from the following statements. It was impossible that they could press too much upon the attention of all parish officers the immense benefit which arose from early attention to all cases of lunacy, and an early attack, medicinally, 1265 upon the disease, before it became confirmed. In general, all the best practioners at county asylums complained of the late stage of the disease at which patients were sent in, and hon. Members would see that the Commissioners were obliged to make frequent complaints upon that subject, and the state of filth and rags in which the poor creatures were transmitted from their parishes. Into the asylum at Forsten, in Dorsetshire, during the course of last year, out of thirty-seven pauper lunatics, six had been sent in within three months of their being attacked with the disorder, and the result was most cheering, for out of the six, five were dismissed cured within four months after their arrival, and the sixth, although a female of seventy-five years of age, was in a state of convalescence, and he had no doubt she was also now restored to her family. Into St. Luke's it was well known that no patient was admitted after he had been labouring under the attack for more than twelve months. He was astonished to find, from the Returns made from that hospital, that, in 1842, the cures averaged 70 per cent, and that last year they reached 65 per cent. His curiosity was so excited upon the subject, that he wrote a letter to Dr. Sutherland, the visiting physician, to ask him whether those cases were merely temporary, or whether they were real and substantial cures. In answer the Doctor said,—All the cures mentioned in the Report, page 81, are permanent. Our rule is, that if any patient, who has been discharged from the hospital as cured, relapses within three months, he is re-admitted, not as a fresh but as a relapsed case; the period he has been at home is deducted, and he is kept in the hospital to the end of the twelve months, or till he is again cured; but all such relapsed cases are deducted from the list of cures; however, we very seldom have instances of relapses, three or four during the year is the average.Was not that a most satisfactory statement? Contrast that with reports from other parts of the country. The Commissioners report thatIn the asylums of Lincoln, Leicester, Nottingham, and Northampton, the superintendents and visiting physicians have expressed their unanimous opinion that pauper lunatics are sent there at so late a period of their disease as to impede or prevent their ultimate recovery. Opinions to the same effect from almost every county lunatic asylum" Chester may be taken as a sample. "Paupers are 1266 brought in a very bad state, in filth and rags, and from too long delays, in a state where there is little or no chance of recovery.He believed that one reason why parochial authorities were so backward in sending in patients, was their ignorance of the great benefit arising from early care and medical attendance, partly, too, the want of a sufficient accommodation, but the great inducement was the increased expense. They liked much more to keep such unfortunates in the workhouse at an expense not exceeding 2s. per week, rather than sending them to the county asylum, where the minimum charge was 7s. per week. He verily believed that even in the matter of expense, a first outlay, which might be considerable in the beginning, would prove eminently profitable in the end. His full conviction was, that the number of cures which would be effected, and looking at it merely as a question of expense, would fully repay the expenditure in ten years. Now, it was true, that they could show but few instances of restoration to reason; how was it possible? They could show a mighty improvement in the condition of the sufferers, the alleviation of their state, their occupations and amusements (all, with some bright exceptions, of recent date), and that the services of religion had infused a momentary tranquillity; but they could show little else; and unless the Legislature should interfere, and bring these unfortunates by force within the reach of sympathy and care; for every one restored to his senses, we should see a hundred in whom the light of reason would be extinguished for ever. Next, there were two points of deep interest to which the House would do well to advert for a moment—the questions of restraint, and the admission and liberation of patients. Upon restraint, it was unnecessary to dwell very long, as it was a matter of internal arrangement, and beyond their immediate legislation; but he wished to direct the attention of the House to the chapter in the Reports which handled that subject, that it might share the general satisfaction, and give praise to those good and able men, Mr. Tuke, Dr. Hitch, Dr. Corsellis, Dr. Conolly, Dr. Vitrè, Dr. Charlesworth, and many more, who had brought all their high moral and intellectual qualities to bear on this topic, and had laboured to make the rational and humane treatment to be the rule and principle of the government 1267 of lunacy. Respecting the admission of pauper-patients, it would be necessary to make very stringent regulations: for their admission into private asylums, a certificate was required, signed by a medical man; county asylums also, though not compelled by law, had made similar regulations for their own guidance; but for the transfer of them to any lunatic ward in a workhouse, no authority was required but that of the master. This power was open to the greatest abuses. The Report suggested that, until a sufficient number of asylums had been created, certain portions of stated workhouses should be licensed, and subjected to all the conditions and superintendence of the appointed visitor. The admission into licensed houses offered a better guarantee of security; the Commissioners were satisfied that it was, on the whole, well guarded, as they had not found a single instance of which they could say, that the first confinement was unquestionably, and beyond all doubt, improper: they have found some instances in which the confinement was unnecessarily prolonged. The question of liberation was very delicate: they had two parties to consider, the patient himself, and the public, which must not be exposed to the evil of persons, who may become violent and dangerous, being allowed to wander at large. What was to be done? There was one point to which he wished to direct attention with reference to this portion of the subject, and that was, the fact that no more frequent cause of insanity existed than was found in intoxication; the number of persons who were confined in lunatic asylums, and whose insanity originated in drunkenness, was very great, and would surprise any person who was not aware of the effects of this habit. In a majority of cases, a few days curative treatment produced a cure; but then the patient relapsing into former habits, became again insane, and underwent a series of repeated cures and repeated relapses; in many instances such persons, if set at liberty, endangered not only their own lives but those of others: this was one of the most difficult points to adjudicate. He (the noble Lord) had frequently urged upon the House, and especially in his Motion upon Education, the frightful consequences of inebriety, a habit fostered among the people, as much by the system of things, we permitted, and the temptations 1268 to which we suffered them to be exposed, as by their own tendencies. He would now call the attention of the House to the state of Wales with respect to pauper lunatics. In 1843, by the Poor Law Returns, the number of Welsh pauper lunatics was 1,177. Of these thirty-six were in English county asylums, forty-one in licensed houses in England, ninety in union workhouses, and 1,010 living with their friends. Many of these were in a wretched condition. The Commissioners stated—It has been represented to us, that many of the Welsh lunatics who have been in the English asylums, have been very violent, and have been sent to them in a wretched and most neglected condition.He (Lord Ashley) had been charged for having included South Wales in a reproach that belonged only to the north; but what was the fact? In a letter from South Wales, one of the Commissioners, now on a visitation, stated—We have met with one case which we think most atrocious. A. B. was sent to the Hereford Asylum from near Brecon, on Nov. 28, 1843. She died on January 30; she was in such a shocking state, that the proprietor wished not to admit her; she had been kept chained in the house of a married daughter. From being long chained in a crouching posture, her knees were forced up to her chin, and she sat wholly upon her heels and her hips, and considerable excoriation had taken place, where her knees pressed upon her stomach. She could move about, and was generally maniacal. When she died, it required very considerable dissection to get her pressed into her coffin! This might be taken as a sample of Welsh lunatics.But it had been urged as a reason for not building lunatic asylums in Wales, that the pauper lunatics could be easily provided for in the English lunatic asylums, and in consequence, it had not been attempted to institute a curative system in that country. This appeared to him, and, would, no doubt, appear to every one, to be a great cruelty. "The greatest of all cruelties," said Dr. Lloyd Williams, in speaking of this subject, "was to send the wretched pauper to a people whose language he could not understand;" and the general result was, that the lunatic—whose state of mind, in general, was characterised by suspicion of all who approached him, not being able to understand the language of those around him, or to communicate with them—became excited and 1269 inflamed, and passed from the incipient or curable stage of insanity, to confirmed lunacy. It was true that the foundation of an asylum had been lately laid at Denbigh; but the present activity of all parties must be ascribed in great measure to the inquiry which had been instituted by the Commission which had travelled throughout the country, and which had shown that it was the determination of Parliament not to permit these crying evils any longer to go unchecked and unredressed. He now came to the criminal lunatics. The number of whom in April, 1843, was 257, distributed in the following manner:—In gaols, 33; in Bethlehem Hospital, 85; and in various asylums, 139. With respect to those criminals who were confined in the various private asylums, he would put it to the House whether it was not an improper and unnecessary aggravation of their miseries towards the other lunatics to subject them to confinement in the same place and under the same regulations as criminal lunatics, he spoke not of crimes of a higher dye, but of those of whom some had committed the most atrocious crimes, such as murder and detestable offences. He assured the House it was felt by such lunatics to be a serious hardship that they should have to associate with these persons: the regulations also which were enforced in those places where criminals were confined were more severe than elsewhere, and their severity was felt by all the lunatics alike. They were likewise debarred from much indulgence which, under other circumstances, their melancholy situation would have procured for them. The whole course of experience, and the judgment of all the most enlightened and humane men who had reflected on the subject, went to establish the necessity of instituting and maintaining the most vigilant system of frequent visitation. It was in itself a most salutary mode of executing a duty so essential to the comfort of the unhappy objects whose welfare was concerned, while it afforded the opportunity of bringing to bear upon those institutions the influence of public opinion and public notoriety, and of exposing their administration to praise or blame. Now it was believed that within the metropolitan districts that vigilance had generally been exercised; but he could not say the same in the provincial districts, an exception could be made in favour of the County 1270 asylums, where the visiting Justices had shown the greatest attention, and in some few, though very few, the borough and rural asylums. In general this duty had been shamefully neglected. It would be needless for him to detain the House by enumerating facts that spoke for themselves; for if the parties to whom the duty of visitation had been entrusted had discharged their office with but common vigilance, the Commissioners would never have been able to have collected such materials for the Report that had been laid on the Table. But he should like to state to the House the beneficial effects of continual visitation. He would mention a case, which he felt warranted in doing from a sense of justice to the proprietor of a very great establishment in this town, whose asylum was the original cause of the Commission of Inquiry being appointed in 1818, but whose asylum now presented, as far as it was possible for an institution of that nature to present, a most agreeable and a most consolatory picture of what might be done by vigilant inspection. He spoke of Dr. Warburton's asylum at Bethnal-green. He remembered that the state of that asylum was so bad, that in 1826 a Commission of Inquiry was instituted, when scenes of the most cruel and disgusting nature were revealed, which made one shudder at the very recital of them. He remembered well the sounds that assailed his ear, and the sights that shocked his eye, when visiting that abode of the most wretched. But what was that asylum now? Altogether changed. There was, however, an original and inherent sin in all private asylums, because they must be made to yield a profit to the keeper. But Dr. Warburton had expended large sums to make improvements in his establishment. He had extended his grounds for affording opportunities of exercise, and had adopted every means for the amelioration and care of his patients. As a proof of the very great change in the system adopted at that asylum, he (Lord Ashley) would simply mention, that whereas, in 1828, there was commonly from 150 to 200 of the patients restrained by leg-locks, chains, and other fetters—certainly, during the night; in 1844 there were out of 582 patients only five whose violence rendered this species of restriction necessary; and even the confinement or coercion resorted to was of the most moderate description, 1271 and in the opinion of the visiting officers, most necessary. He would point to that case as to a sample of the salutary influence which was exercised by watching the proceedings carried on in these places of confinement, which but for such constant vigilance would again become dens of iniquity and oppression. Sir, these subjects may be dull, and want the light and shade of more exciting topics; but the expense which is incurred, the numbers that suffer, and the nature of their sufferings will, perhaps, justify the present demand upon your time and patience. The House possesses the means of applying a real and a speedy remedy. These unhappy persons are outcasts from all the social and domestic affections of private life—nay more, from all its cares and duties; and have no refuge but in the laws. You can prevent, by the agency you shall appoint, as you have in many instances prevented, the recurrence of frightful cruelties; you can soothe the days of the incurable, and restore many sufferers to health and usefulness. For we must not run away with the notion, that even the hopelessly mad are dead to all capacity of intellectual or moral exertion—quite the reverse; their feelings too are painfully alive—I have seen them writhe under supposed contempt, while a word of kindness and respect would kindle their whole countenance into an expression of joy. Their condition appeals to our highest sympathies,Majestic, though in ruin;for, though there may be, in the order of a merciful Providence, some compensating dispensation which abates, within, the horrors manifested without, we must judge alone by what we see; and I trust, therefore, that I shall stand excused, though I have consumed so much of your valuable time, when you call to mind that the Motion is made on behalf of the most helpless, if not the most afflicted, portion of the human race.
§ Sir J. Graham
was certain that he was giving expression not only to his own sentiments and those of the House, but also to the sentiments of the whole country, when he declared that his noble Friend, so far from standing in need of an excuse for the statement which he had just made, was entitled to the grateful thanks of all his countrymen, for his indefatigable endeavours and the constancy he had displayed in pointing 1272 the public attention to the subject of his Motion. Although sensations of pity and commiseration could not but take possession of those who reflected upon the condition of a lunatic, yet the degrading associations, and the wretchedness by which that condition was characterised, too often induced the most philanthropic individual to turn his head away from so humiliating and fearful a spectacle, and to intrust the alleviation of that misery to those who were willing to undertake it from motives, in no degree akin to compassion. His noble Friend had, however, if proof of the readiness of some to step forward in such a cause were wanting, afforded a striking example of benevolence successfully exerted, and the example he had set was invaluable. The Act by which the present treatment and supervision of pauper and other lunatics was regulated would expire as his noble Friend had justly stated, in the course of the following year, and he was ready to admit the necessity which existed for bringing the subject under the consideration of Parliament. He had understood his noble Friend to admit that a very considerable improvement had taken place in the treatment and cure of lunatics, and that the means of coercion formerly resorted to were nearly, if not altogether abandoned, as in the instance of Mr. Warburton's establishment, where out of 582 patients confined during the present year, only five were under that species of restraint, whereas formerly every kind of cruelty and privation had been resorted to in that same establishment. With respect to what his noble Friend had said generally as to the course which it was expedient hereafter to pursue, he begged to say, there was no difference between his views and those entertained by the Government as to the leading points. In the first place, he did not deny the importance of an immediate resort being had to curative measures on the first symptoms of lunacy making their appearance. In the next place, he considered that it was highly expedient to separate the lunatic patients confined in public institutions, and to place those who were hopelessly insane, and consequently incurable, in a totally distinct part of the building, so that they could not influence those who were undergoing a curative treatment. He agreed in the opinion expressed by his noble Friend, and promulgated in the Report of the Commissioners, that in the great majority of the existing 1273 lunatic asylums the progress of cure was greatly impeded by the number of incurable lunatics confined with those not so hopelessly circumstanced. He was likewise convinced of the necessity for taking the state of the pauper lunatics throughout the kingdom into consideration at an early period of next Session. And with respect to the dangerous lunatics who were now, according to the statements referred to by his noble Friend, shut up in workhouses and other places where they ought not to be confined, he admitted that this subject must be taken into consideration with a view to their removal to some more appropriate place of constraint. The construction of the law was extremely doubtful upon this point; but, whatever the law might be, he had no manner of doubt that whether the subject were regarded in relation to the possibility of a cure, or to the safe custody of the person in a confirmed case of lunacy; in neither case was a workhouse a fit receptacle for such persons, whether they were dangerous lunatics or not; and he therefore was of opinion that the time was not far distant when some effectual means for remedying this evil would be devised, and that the Executive would take into consideration the means of providing places to which the cases of incipient lunacy might be removed at once, to the end that remedial treatment would be applied, and for providing distinct asylums for the incurable lunatics, where they would be entirely separated from those whose cases admitted the hope of cure. The expense of making such arrangements alone prevented them from being carried out; but he believed the law would hereafter compel the different Unions to incur the necessary outlay which would enable such asylums to be erected; and he must likewise express his conviction that in the end the expense would not be found much greater than it was under the present most imperfect and unsatisfactory treatment of lunatics. He, therefore, had no hesitation in saying that the condition of pauper lunatics generally would come under the consideration of the House next Session, and that proper provision would be made for them in Wales, where at present they were shamefully neglected. So likewise with respect to the criminal lunatics, the expense of maintaining them was considerable; but out of 257 persons thus circumstanced there were only eighty-five supported by the public, thirty-eight 1274 of whom were at Bethlehem, whilst all the other criminal lunatics were maintained at the expense of the counties where they were confined. He had no hesitation in declaring it to be his opinion that persons of this class ought to be collected together and confined in one or two distinct and separate buildings, and the statements already made by his noble Friend ought to weigh very strongly in inducing the House to be favourable to such a proposal. Having thus stated the points upon which he agreed with the views expressed by his noble Friend, he would point out in what respect he dissented from some parts of his plan. Though he did not doubt the accuracy either of the statements or of the deductions made by his noble Friend, with respect to the detention of single lunatics by their Friends in private dwellings, it was only necessary for him to remind the House of the caution necessary to be exercised in this respect, as the rights of relatives in these matters deserved some consideration, and that secrecy which was occasionally essential, and indispensable, would be violated by the Commissioners having the power to inspect such private houses. He therefore would recommend the House to approach the subject of private treatment of lunatics with great caution; for, notwithstanding the practice was open to abuse, yet it did not appear that such prevailed to any great extent. He had some doubts upon other points of his noble Friend's statements and suggestions, but he hesitated in giving expression to them, as he had not sufficiently studied the matter in its detail. He must, however, acquaint his noble Friend and the House, that he had not hesitated as to the assistance which he thought it his duty to afford the noble Lord in pursuing his humane inquiries, for he had given instructions on the subject during the last two Sessions, more particularly to the Poor Law Commissioners, to inquire into and Report on the lunatic paupers dispersed in the union workhouses throughout the country; and the result of these inquiries was a belief on his part that distinct asylums were requisite for the reception of pauper lunatics who were incurable; and he should therefore be prepared to submit for the consideration of Parliament some proposition respecting the matter, and also for providing means for separating criminal from other lunatics. He trusted therefore his noble Friend would not press his Motion 1275 for an Address to Her Majesty, as it would tend to raise expectations that might not possibly be realised. The Government was prepared to co-operate with his noble Friend, and to aid him in realizing those views of enlightened philanthropy which he had so well explained, and he himself joined his noble Friend in the benevolent determination not to let this matter slumber, but to perfect those ameliorations which the state of the case required. He therefore hoped his noble Friend would not press his Motion.
§ Mr. Sheil
wished to mention a most important and painful fact—that in Ireland there were 300 lunatics scattered amongst the prisons—the evil was a most frightful one; murderers and maniacs were mixed up together. Some means must be taken to cure that state of things. It was sufficient to state the fact. He was delighted to find that the right hon. Gentleman was disposed to take this important subject up, and he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would take means to extend the beneficent provisions which he had in contemplation to the sister kingdom. He concurred entirely in what the right hon. Gentleman had said with respect the conduct of the noble Lord. It was a common phrase to say, "It does one good to see you," and in this instance it was impossible to deny that it did one good to see the noble Lord exerting himself in this benevolent work. There was a sort of "circum corda" about his labours, and whatever difference of opinion they might entertain on some of the noble Lord's new crotchets, on one point they all concurred—that he was worthy of the highest praise for the motives by which he was actuated, and the sentiments by which he was inspired. It was more than gratifying to see a man of his high rank not descending, but stooping down from his position—not permitting himself to be lowered by the pursuits of pleasure or ambition, but seeking the nobler gratification of doing good, and the virtuous celebrity with which his labours were rewarded. It may be truly stated that the noble Lord had added nobility even to the name of Ashley, and that he has made humanity one of "Shaftesbury's Characteristics."
§ Mr. Wakley
hoped that, after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department, the noble Lord would not press his Motion. A debt of gratitude was due to the Commissioners 1276 for the labour they had bestowed on this most important question. In some points he disagreed with them; but on the whole he thought they had laboured with great assiduity, and had brought before the House some very important details. There was now such a mass of materials as would enable the House to legislate upon the subject without further inquiry. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that he was prepared to legislate, and he (Mr. Wakley) rejoiced to hear it, because he was convinced from the declarations the right hon. Gentleman had made in his Address to the House, that he would legislate practically and usefully on this important question. The subject of insanity had engaged the attention of the Legislature for many years, and it was evident, both from the statement of the noble Lord and the Report, that vast improvements had been made within a very limited period—in fact, the amount of improvement in reference to the humane part of the question was immense; in the scientific part the advance had not been so rapid as it ought to have been. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to be fully persuaded by the statement of the noble Lord and from having read the Report, that it was absolutely necessary that two different courses should be adopted with reference to curable and incurable lunatics. In fact, one of the most important features in the whole subject was that difference of treatment. It was a lamentable fact that the asylums in England, from one end of the kingdom to the other, were crowded with incurable patients. In the Middlesex Asylum there were only thirty curable patients out of 900, and some had been there from the very first week it opened—now fourteen years ago. At the same time, it was perfectly notorious that in every union workhouse of this country there were at this moment numbers of pauper patients—many recently afflicted with insanity, who could not get admission into that asylum. He rejoiced then that the right hon. Gentleman approved of the system of establishing district asylums for incurable patients. The noble Lord had particularly dwelt, and so did the right hon. Gentleman, on the necessity of early attention to these cases, and if they lost sight of that great fact—if their minds were not impressed with the necessity of attending to them at the earliest possible period, they would never adequately understand the subject, or 1277 adequately apply the means which science afforded for the relief of these afflicted persons, It was not within the first three months, nor the first three weeks; but within the first three days, if they could discover that insanity existed, that remedies should be applied. There were some peculiar features about insanity which had not come before the Commissioners, but which frequently came before him in his official capacity as Coroner. In this county he had had twenty-four suicides before him in twelve days—not one having committed suicide in a public or private institution, and in a great majority of them insanity had been entirely unobserved by the whole of their relations and friends: and in fact at the inquest, in the most searching investigations, in the majority of these cases not a single symptom of insanity had shown itself. But what did they find? The relatives of the suicides were generally called before them. They were asked, "Did you observe nothing particular in your relative?" "No," was the answer; "nothing extraordinary—nothing out of the way." "Did he do nothing odd or strange—something he never did before, to attract your attention?"—"No." "Was there anything new or peculiar in his habits?"—"No." "Did he complain of no ailment?"—"No, nothing in particular," "Did he apply to a medical man?"—"No." "Did he complain of no ailment whatever?"—"Only a little uneasiness in his head." That was the answer he found almost invariably given in these cases. "In what part of the head did he feel the pain?"—"He said he felt uneasiness in his head—a pain in his forehead;" but yet it was not enough to induce him to go to a medical man, or for his friends to make him apply to one. In almost all these cases he found that the symptoms were pain and uneasiness in the head. The poor head was the last part of the whole body that was attended to. If a man hurt his foot his family sent him to the doctor, because he might be prevented from attending to his work and supporting his family, but not so with the head. If one poor man asked another "How's the old woman?" the answer frequently was, "Oh, she's nothing very bad; she's only got the headache." If their horses or cows were bad, they would be sending for a surgeon, but in their family they thought so little of head affections, that application 1278 to a medical man was delayed for weeks and months together until the mischief was established, and insanity made its appearance. Now, he was satisfied that the system which the noble Lord had hinted at—the establishment of institutions for the treatment of insanity as soon as it manifested itself—would not only be a work of humanity but of economy too, and he was thoroughly persuaded by experience, that they would not have, in the course of years even, with an increased population, more than two-thirds of the number of lunatics they had now. That was his firm conviction, and he believed that medical men were beginning to be impressed with the same conviction, because now it was well known, that insanity never existed without some organic affection of the human body—that the mind never became deranged or disordered in its functions but from some derangement in the structure of the human frame; so that every person aware of that fact would feel how necessary it was to apply remedial means in the beginning of an attack. In general there was an inflammatory attack going on, requiring to be treated and subdued, and when subdued the derangement disappeared. He was delighted to find that the right hon. Gentleman was so strongly impressed with this view of the question that he declared he would sanction the establishment of institutions for incurables, and of others for curables; and upon that part of the subject he would not detain the House further. But he must express his regret at the manner in which the "restraint" and "non-restraint" system were referred to in the report. A part of it had a very strong leaning in favour of the restraint system, but it could not have been written by the noble Lord, for he had spoken as strongly in favour of the mild system as could be, and had told the House what effects he had seen where that system was adopted towards 582 patients. Now, at page 138 of the report he found these words:—"It seems to us that these measures" (there were two systems, restraint and non-restraint) "are only particular modes of restraint, the relative advantages of which must depend altogether on the results." Doubtless they did; everyone would admit that. Now, the noble Lord had given them, in his own glowing terms, a picture of the restraint-system which he witnessed twelve years ago, and he also, in the happiest 1279 terms, gave a full description of the non-restraint system. But the report went on to say, "The advocates of these two systems, to which we have called your Lordships' attention, appear to have been actuated by a common desire to improve the condition of the insane." That persons who chained them down—who confined them—placed them in cells—should be actuated by the same desire as those who adopted a milder system, and from which treatment such happy results followed, was strange indeed. But, said the report, "Those who employ, as well as those who do not employ mechanical restraint, adopt an equally mild and conciliatory method of managing their patients." The deuce they did; it was the oddest in the world. So that a man who whipped his child every morning before breakfast adopted just as mild a system of treatment as the father who endeavoured to admonish his child into the path of duty and happiness. He thought, therefore, that the report had not been drawn up with that care which the case required. He thought, too, that that there almost lurked about it something of a sneer at the Hanwell Lunatic Asylum. What did he find at page 147? One of the most curious things he ever saw. It was not a fit subject to be discussed in that House, but the sentence ought not to have been there. This was a very grave subject, and they who wished to get rid of trouble, and to carry on an asylum at the least possible expense, knew very well that chains, ropes, gloves, strait waistcoats, and bonds, were not so expensive as rational and humane and kind attendance, and, consequently, they were inclined to practices of that sort, and turned them at once to the disadvantage of the patient, if care were not taken. Now, here was a remark on cleanliness and dirtiness, and he was surprised to see such a sentence in the Report. The Commissioners could not have read it. It was this:—"At the Middlesex Asylum it has been attempted to defeat dirty habits by the administration of aperients." Without explanation, that was a sort of sneer or sarcasm at the conductors of that establishment. [Lord Ashley: Read on.] At the Lancaster asylum good effects have been produced in obviating, and in many cases in entirely removing, such habits, by assiduously endeavouring to invite due attention to the calls of nature." Yes; but they gave no explanation of the former 1280 sentence, and it was not fit to be explained in that House. It was calculated to raise a sneer at the institution of Hanwell, and in his opinion a most unjustifiable one; because it was known that in some cases the administration of medicine such as was described in that sentence had had the effect of curing patients of dirty and vicious habits. But that was not stated, and it was calculated to have a bad effect on the character of that institution. He had seen a great deal of the conduct of the managers of that asylum, and never had witnessed more humanity exhibited in any institution in his life. They had done everything to do away with every painful restraint, and now persons who used to be confined in close rooms mixed together playing about on the grass and in the pleasure grounds, and apparently enjoying themselves from one week's end to another. He regretted that the Commissioners should have introduced a single word into their Report which should be calculated to throw a slur upon that asylum. He hoped it was not meant—in fact, he found in another part of the Report that the state of Hanwell Asylum was strongly commended, and was blended with the institution at Lincoln, where the non-restraint system was first adopted. But if what he had referred to went forth to the world unexplained it would be most injurious to that asylum. He hoped the next Session would not be allowed to pass away until towards the end of it without some measure being introduced on this subject. It might be thought to be a difficult and complicated one, but if treated in a common sense way it would be greatly simplified. But he would ask the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman whether they considered it right and justifiable that a great number of persons should be confined in this country by their relations in houses not licensed, or not subjected to any superintendence, or to any supervision, or to any visitation whatever from any person? Now, the Lunacy Commissioners had the power, if they went into a town with 100,000 inhabitants, where only two persons were confined in any house, being a licensed house, to visit that house; but if in the same town there were 100 persons confined singly, they had not the opportunity of going into any one of those houses in which these unhappy beings were incarcerated, for the purpose of seeing how 1281 they were treated by their most affectionate relations. The fact was, that individuals were confined for the purpose of some relations seizing their property. Persons were employed, with a very large salary, as keepers; and, unfortunately, those persons had an object in the patient's remaining lunatic, and in not being cured. He knew nothing more objectionable or more inhuman; and if any measure were brought in on the subject of lunacy it would be a most serious deficiency if it did not touch that part of the question.
§ Lord Eliot
said, that after the observation which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Sheil) he was most anxious to assure the House that the subject of the pauper and criminal lunatics in Ireland had engaged the serious attention of the Government. As to criminal lunatics, it was proposed to grant a sum of public money towards the erection of a central asylum in Ireland.
Mr. V. Smith
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department had stated that he had issued an order to the Poor Law Commissioners that they should attend to the early admission of pauper lunatics into lunatic asylums. But the difficulty was this, that there was no means of compelling the relatives to disclose the state of the patient. Their wish was to conceal it. That was one point to which he hoped the attention of the right hon. Gentleman would be called, that he should show the manner in which that early discovery could be best achieved. The principal doubts expressed by the right hon. Gentleman on the statement of the noble Lord were first as to the prohibition of private asylums. Upon that point he was inclined to agree with the noble Lord that it was desirable to prohibit, if not to prevent, private asylums. He thought that, in this unfortunate condition of man, as in other evils to which he was subject, publicity was one of the means of cure, and he believed that that opinion was gaining ground among the public in general. He fully admitted that the subject was one of the greatest delicacy, and he quite understood the feelings of the right hon. Gentleman. It must to a certain extent be known if a person were confined in a public asylum; but he must say, that if any man maturely considered this with reference to the case of his relative, rather than to the concealment of the misfortune which had befallen his family, he would have no 1282 doubt that a public asylum was infinitely preferable to a private one. The next point upon which the right hon. Gentleman said he had a doubt was as to the size of these asylums. The noble Lord said he considered the size of the present county asylums as much too great; but the right hon. Gentleman turned upon his noble Friend and said that one of the complaints had been the excessive expense, and that a division of asylums in counties would be more expensive than having one large one. But he thought the right hon. Gentleman had not paid so much attention to that part of the noble Lord's statement as he did to the other parts of it, for the noble Lord dwelt more particularly on the distinction between asylums for curables and for incurables. No doubt, according to the evidence of Dr. Conolly, asylums for curable patients should be small, but he did not think the same objection could be made to hospitals for incurables. Now, if the right hon. Gentleman intended to carry into execution the system which he understood him to say he should do, he would procure a diminution of expense; but undoubtedly, in considering this question, expense occurred at every turn. It applied to the question of a mild or severe treatment. The latter was much more economical, and more he believed on that account, than from any regard to the sufferings of the patient, that system was adopted. Mild treatment was more expensive, it was carried on by the supervision of others, and when they considered what was required for the supervision of lunatic patients, how much temper, firmness, and vigour of frame, not for the purpose of violence, but to inspire awe in the patient, they would see how difficult it was to provide keepers for asylums where mild treatment was adopted. With respect to the Hanwell Asylum, the Commissioners had no intention whatever of casting any slur upon that institution. Where they had found fault with asylums, they had done so directly, and in a positive and fair manner. It must, however, be considered whether it was not better to adopt some permanent coercion than to use great violence occasionally; for instance, if they had a patient who had committed any offence that obliged them to drive him back into a cell, the effect upon him was more injurious than if he had been under coercion previously. With respect to the cases which had been brought forward from Wales, they were some of the strongest that were 1283 adduced before the Committee; and such as ought to be brought forward—as they had been by the noble Lord—in the strongest manner. He contended that the Commissioners sent down for the purpose of visiting asylums were much more likely than the local magistrates to discharge that duty efficiently. In saying this he did not mean to cast any slur upon the local magistrates; but they were gentlemen who were not professionally educated, and who knew comparatively little about the state of lunatic patients in these asylums. He repeated that he intended to throw no imputation upon the magistrates; but he would suggest to the right hon. Baronet opposite whether it might not be advisable to extend the powers of the Commissioners to visit, with respect to all county asylums, so as in many cases to supersede the powers of the county magistrates. It frequently happened that the county asylums were left to the superintendence of medical men, over whom there was no power of control; and the visitors did not visit the asylums so frequently and so unexpectedly as would be the case if the power of visitation was vested in the Commissioners. The superintendents of asylums, if they were anxious to disguise anything, were well aware when the visits of county magistrates might be expected. He must say he considered that great neglect existed with respect to the present system of visitation, and that when visits were made to asylums, they were in a great measure useless. The visiting magistrates walked round the asylums, scarcely knowing what inquiries to make; and, however good might be their intentions, however humane their feelings, their habits of life did not fit them to detect and investigate the abuses which might exist in such institutions. He would invite the attention of the right hon. Baronet to the Report of the Commissioners of Poor Law Inquiry in Scotland. In an Appendix to that Report—Appendix No. 3, he believed—there was a statement made by Dr. Hutchison, of Glasgow, with reference to the Isle of Arran. That Gentleman stated that there were 123 lunatics in the island, who were lodged in cottages and other places, some of them being placed in cells and garrets, in which they were compelled to remain in a crouching position. It appeared from the Statement to which he alluded, that during the day these unfortunate persons were allowed to rove about the island. Indeed, the statements in this Report portrayed a 1284 scene like that of Bedlam broke loose; and the only excuse made was, that it was better for these lunatics that they should be allowed to ramble about the island than that they should be placed in confinement. Certainly, if such statements had not been made by Dr. Hutchison, and reported by the Commissioners, he (Mr. V. Smith) should scarcely have thought them credible. He hoped then, that while the right hon. Baronet extended his consideration on this painful subject to England and Wales, and while he also paid regard, as he had promised to do, to the state of Ireland, Scotland would not be forgotten or overlooked. He hoped that, when the right hon. Gentleman took into consideration the renewal of the Act for the appointment of the Commission next Session, he would direct his attention to several points which in his (Mr. V. Smith's) opinion were worthy of notice. One subject to which he wished to call the attention of the right hon. Baronet was the expense attending the Commission. That expence was running up to a very considerable sum. There were at present eleven Gentlemen who were paid Commissioners; and he thought it would be well if the right hon. Gentleman would consider whether the object he sought could be best obtained by the employment of those Commissioners—whether it might not be more advisable to have persons whose services would be more permanently at command. Some of the present Commissioners were Gentlemen of great eminence in the medical profession, and others were very accomplished lawyers; but in travelling through the country they did not confine themselves to the business of the Commission—they had other claims upon their attention. There was also a certain number of unpaid Commissioners, whom he thought it would be well for the right hon. Gentleman to retain in conjunction with the paid Commissioners; for, though he was of opinion that it was better for the State to rely upon paid than upon gratuitous services generally, yet he thought that, upon Commissions of this nature, gratuitous services were especially valuable. In the first place, he believed that an impression prevailed among the unfortunate persons visited by these Commissioners in favour of those Commissioners whose services were given gratuitously; they conceived that in cases of oppression or injury, they would be more likely to obtain redress from persons who devoted their time and attention to the subject without remuneration, than from 1285 those who were the paid servants of the country. He regretted that he had not been enabled to pay more attention heretofore to his duties as a Member of this Commission; but he must say, it was impossible to overestimate the services of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Ashley) in connexion with this subject. The noble Lord since he had been Chairman of the Commission, had given his constant and unwearied attention to the condition of these unfortunate lunatics, and although with reference to other occasions on which the noble Lord had advocated the cause of humanity, some persons might have accused him of doing so from a desire to obtain notoriety, such motives could not in this case be imputed to that noble Lord, for he had been toiling in comparative obscurity on behalf of this class of persons. The noble Lord could have done this from no hope of fame; for the unfortunate people on whose behalf he had used his exertions had no fame to give. But still they had something to bestow: and he must say that, when visiting those unfortunate persons, he[...]d frequently seen them exhibit a feeling of gratitude, and a sense of kindness, which their saner brethren would do well to imitate. Although, therefore, his noble Friend might have toiled unobservedly, he had not toiled thanklessly; and he was convinced that the noble Lord would deem the gratitude of these unfortunate persons a sufficient reward for the time and trouble he had devoted to this subject.
Mr. Sanders Davis
as a Member connected with Carmarthenshire, entered into an explanation of the circumstances connected with the lunatic asylum of that country. Previous to the issuing of any Commission, the three counties of Carmarthen, Pembroke, and Cardigan had done all in their power to carry the Act into operation, but had found great difficulties in their way. He referred to reports of the Commissioners to show that improvements had been made in the asylum. He did not make the statement in justification of the circumstances stated by the noble Lord; but he was sure the magistrates would be delighted to have sufficient power to administer the law for the benefit of these unfortunate persons.
§ Mr. Hawes
had read the statements of Dr. Hutchison, to which the hon. Member for Northampton had referred, and he considered that they deserved the serious attention of the House. He would beg to 1286 call the attention of the right hon. Baronet opposite to one or two of those statements, in order that, while considering the condition of lunatics in England, he might be induced to take into his consideration the state of that unfortunate class of persons in Scotland. His right hon. Friend (Mr. V. Smith) had stated that there were 123 lunatics in the Isle of Arran, but the report stated that the number was probably much larger. He believed that these unhappy persons were confined in that island in direct violation of the law; and in his opinion, the treatment experienced by these persons in one or two cases he would mention, afforded a not unfair illustration of the general treatment to which such persons were subjected, whether in Scotland or in the Isle of Arran. The first case mentioned was that of a weaver, who was imbecile, and a Mrs. Nicholl, in whose care he was placed, admitted that sometimes he did not sleep at home for some months together, and that when he did so he slept upon straw in a corner: she also confessed that he frequently slept in a loft without bed, bed clothes, or even straw, the place being without light, ill-ventilated and abounding with filth and vermin. The facts were not denied by Mrs. Nicholl, in whose presence the statements were made. Another case was that of a lunatic named John Campbell, who had been subjected to the most cruel usage. He was placed in the care of a person named Mackinnon and his wife, both of whom, it appeared, had frequently beaten him with ropes and sticks. Mrs. Mackinnon attempted to deny this; but when confronted with a neighbour who had witnessed the ill-usage, she did not persist in her denial. It was proved that this unfortunate man was frequently flogged with a cat-o'-nine-tails made of rope, till the blood ran down his back. Numerous cases of this sort were mentioned; but he referred to these instances of ill-treatment in order to draw the immediate attention of the right hon. Home Secretary to the subject. Out of the 123 lunatics discovered on the island 118 had come under the observation of Dr. Hutchison, and by far the greater proportion of them had been sent there without any medical certificate, without the warrant of the sheriff of the county, and they were confined in unlicensed houses. It might not, perhaps, be generally known that all persons harbouring those lunatics were liable to a penalty of 200l. or three months' imprisonment. This was a case 1287 involving a direct violation of the law; and he had, therefore, thought it right to call the attention of the right hon. Secretary of State for the Home Department to the subject.
Mr. Stafford O'Brien
said both sides of the House seemed fully agreed that some remedy should be provided for the evils to which their attention had been directed; but, why should there be a year's delay in the application of that remedy? It was evident from the statements which had been made as to the condition of the lunatic asylum in Dublin, that the case was most urgent.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
felt in some difficulty as to this question. Up to the present moment he had not received any plan and estimate which would enable him to know what would be ultimately necessary to be taken, and he could not yet tell what vote he should take. Where a building was to be erected, it would be impossible to take a vote without an estimate, or he would not delay any longer to forward a subject on which he felt as deep an interest as any hon. Member who had spoken.
§ Lord Ashley
, in reply, said it was well known that moderate restraint was useful, and that the lunatics, finding an attack coming on, would often ask for restraint; but this was very different from harsh coercion.In the asylum for the county of Dorset, we found a patient whose suicidal propensities were so determined that he had once determined to drown himself, twice to hang himself, once to cut his throat, and also to choke himself by thrusting his sheets down his throat, and to strangle himself by twisting his handkerchief round his neck. The restraint of muffs was resorted to; and although previously restless and trying continually to get out of bed, this person began to sleep comfortably, and was, when we saw him, tranquil and apparently convalescent.The superintendent at Lancaster hesitates in giving an opinion decidedly in favour of the non-restraint system; he thinks that although much may be done without mechanical restraint of any kind, there are occasionally cases in which it may not only be necessary, but beneficial. The superintendent of the Suffolk asylum considers that in certain cases and more especially in a crowded and imperfectly constructed asylum, like the one under his charge, mechanical restraint, judiciously applied, might be preferable to any other species of coercion, as being both less irritating and more effectual.He felt grateful for the expressions of 1288 the right hon. Baronet, and for the way in which the Motion had been met; and, in full confidence that the subject would receive attention, he would withdraw it.
§ Motion withdrawn.