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PAUPER LUNATIC ASYLUM AT HANWELI, NEAR LONDON *.
THE principles acted on at the Asylum at Hanwell are nearly these:
1. It is the conviction of its active, intelligent, and truly benevolent superintendent Dr Ellis, that insanity is almost always a partial, not a total, aberration of reason:-and, consequently, that in all cases alleviation, and in many cure, may be effected by temperately, yet steadily, exercising the sane faculties, and soothing the insane to repose.
2. He is therefore very careful so to arrange and distribute his patients, that those may not be together whose weaknesses are likely to conflict, at the same time that all enjoy the benefit of company and society. To this latter condition he attaches extreme value; attributing the small number of cures effected in the higher circles almost entirely to the seclusion in which such patients are usually kept. And his greatest ambition, he says, is to be able to bring this principle so far into evidence, as to see a similar institution to that which he conducts founded for the upper ranks, surrounded with all the luxury and indulgence to which they are accustomed, and with the necessary restraint as much as possible unseen and unfelt.
3. In classifying his patients, Dr Ellis professes to be much assisted by studying the minute indications of character furnished by the modern science of Phrenology, in which he implicitly believes and whatever may be thought of this guide in the abstract, his tact at least seems unerring, for he has few quarrels, and in twenty years has had no accident. It is obvious, however, that this is not so much a principle as a mere method,―a means by which he attains, or supposes that he attains, a particular end.
4. He is next careful constantly to occupy his patients' minds by light, useful labour, in the open air as much as possible, and otherwise in warm but well ventilated apartments. It is a remarkable gleam of sanity which appears in all, that they will tolerate, and even court, work which appears to them useful, but no other; and Dr Ellis finds a medical benefit in indulging
• Extracted from the Athenæum of 3d May 1834, by the editor of which the following note is prefixed :-"We are indebted for the following interesting paper to a friend, who was led accidentally the other day to visit this asylum; and who is anxious to give publicity to the system of management observed in it, and the admirable results of that system." We have ascertained the name of the writer, but shall merely state, that he is a man of science, and a Professor in an English University.
this preference, as strengthening in their estimation the tie which yet connects them with the sane and usefully employed world.
5. For the same reason he encourages them to undertake long consecutive tasks, that their minds may be occupied steadily, for at least some days, with the same object. The acquisition and practice of a trade he thus finds eminently beneficial, provided that neither is urged too fast or far, beyond the strength of mind of the patient set to them.
6. His last rule is undeviating kindness, and even affectionate familiarity of manner towards them on which head, however, his difficulties are infinite with the sane part of his establishment. He complains much of a hard-hearted abruptness and unkindness, which seem, in this country and district particularly, to pervade the minds even of those, otherwise gentle enough, when they are brought in contact with patients of this description; the effect of which, on those recovering, is especially disadvantageous. They are extremely jealous of indignity or contempt.
Such are the leading principles on which this admirable Institution is conducted; and I must say, that in all my experience, I have never seen more interesting or affecting results brought out. The number of patients approaches to six hundred, for whose efficient guard, protection, and service, about forty sane servants, of all kinds, are sufficient, At the head of every department of work in the house, whether cooking, baking, brewing, washing, carpentering, shoemaking, tailoring, strawhat making, bricklaying, gardening, dairying, or what it may, one of these sane individuals is placed; but the labourers under them are all patients. About sixty acres of ground are annexed to the premises, over which these poor creatures are thus distributed. The fences are by no means everywhere secure, yet no attempt is made to escape. And the affectionate attachment of all to Dr Ellis, and, if possible, even more obviously, to his admirable wife, appears unbounded; it is, indeed, almost distressing, for in some of the worst cases it is more like the affection of a brute than of a human being, and is, in truth, no more.
Lords Jersey, Howe, Chichester, and other gentlemen about the Court, have visited the establishment with feelings similar to mine, (as appears from their observations written in the visitors' book); and it has been intimated, in consequence, that their Majesties will shortly examine it. A very celebrated lady also, (on such an occasion, I think I may name her-I mean Miss Martineau), who was in the same party with myself the other day, has since returned alone, and passed a whole day in it, that she might study it at leisure, and undisturbed*. I mention these
This lady has published in Tait's Edinburgh Magazine for June 1834, a very interesting account of her observations at Hanwell; with some excel
circumstances partly to prove, that I have not been unduly excited by what I saw,-partly to show that there is nothing painful or oppressive in its examination, but, on the contrary, much that is delightful, while it is improving. How is it that it is generally so little known, or talked of? There is no difficulty, I believe, in obtaining admission: it is only wished that parties going should not be numerous or imposing, otherwise the patients are agitated by their presence!
A few anecdotes may, however, further illustrate the kind of reflections which a visit to this place excites. One poor woman whom we saw working in the garden, was ten years in chains, furiously mad. She has been only fifteen months here, never in chains, and now under as little restraint as the others. Her delight is the garden; and she fancies that she has almost the exclusive charge of it. Another woman was fifteen years in the strictest confinement, and has been two years here. We saw her occupied in the pleasure-grounds; and her delight on seeing Mrs Ellis, who accompanied us, was ecstatic. She kissed her hand, leaped about and around her, shewed what she was engaged in, and so forth, with a glee which seemed infantine, but was neither offensive nor alarming. The man who shot Mr Mellish last year, and who was acquitted on the ground of insanity, is also here. He came moody and dissatisfied, as fancying that he had cause for his act, and was therefore ill-treated; but he is now comparatively cheerful and contented, working, by his own desire, among the shoemakers, where we saw him. Lastly, a lady of fortune has been treated for the last eighteen months, as much as possible, in a private house, on Dr Ellis's system, after having been many years in the strictest confinement, even to a strait-waistcoat. She now goes out in her carriage without a keeper; and so much is her intellect strengthened by being judiciously appealed to whenever possible, that when consulted, at the beginning of last winter, as to the prudence of dispensing with a guard to her fire, her reply was, that she hoped it was not necessary, yet, as a measure of precaution, she would recommend its adoption.
The great majority of cases have been preceded by habits of vicious indulgence, especially intemperance and violent passion. This deplorable malady is also a frequent termination of the unhappy fate of women of the town, especially when their maternal, as well as other affections, have been severely lacerated. The majority of cases here (it is the Pauper Asylum) are among the uneducated; but this is not, I believe, a general fact.
lent remarks on the irrational treatment generally received by the insane, and the hurtful prejudices which prevail in society on the subject of mental derangement. The article is written in a most pleasing strain of philanthropy, and doubtless will powerfully aid in rousing the public from their apathy and ignorance.-ED. P. J.
In almost every instance the extreme crisis may be traced to injudicious and generally cruel treatment, when reason was tottering, but not yet gone. Without altogether denying the doctrine of hereditary tendencies, Dr Ellis is persuaded that, if taken in time, these may almost always be overcome; and that their effect would be comparatively trifling if unaided by moral
In the whole compass of moral statistics, perhaps, no subject is more interesting than this. It is interesting in itself, as relating to beings of themselves utterly helpless; and it is, if possible, still more interesting in its ulterior application. For may we not assume that the treatment which is eminently successful in the extreme case of mental disease, must contain within itself the principles on which all mental training ought to be founded? In our schools, therefore, as in our lunatic asylums, may we not infer, from this example, that not less value should be set on the indirect than on the direct culture of the yet imperfect mind; that the leisure of pupils should be improved, as well as their school hours; that their temper and affections, as well as their intellect, should be nurtured; their active, as well as sedentary, pursuits be such as to give habits of industry and consecutive labour, &c.? Instead of this, it is to be feared that in most of our English schools our boys are dismissed from their tasks to idleness at best, but to mischief and vice much more commonly; the weak are overborne by the strong; the strong are spoiled by their superiority; the tempers of all are injured, and their affections only brought out during their brief holidays. Ought we to wonder, then, that a fitful manhood should so of ten succeed an unruly youth, and that both should so frequently disappoint the fairest promise of opening childhood? The subject can be here only hinted at; but its development well deserves the attention of every friend to national education, national happiness, character, and virtue.
In saying this much respecting Hanwell Asylum, I could wish to be understood as far from meaning to intimate that it stands alone in the interesting experiment making in it. On the contrary, I believe that similar attempts are in progress in several other places; but I wish to testify to the almost complete success here. In conclusion, one of the most striking physical effects of his system Dr Ellis states to be the uninterrupted sleep of bis whole establishment during the night. His patients are not lodged in separate apartments, but together, in wards: yet is he not disturbed by them three times a-year. This he attributes both to their occupation through the day and their ge neral tranquillity of mind.
OPINIONS OF TIEDEMANN AND ARNOLD RESPECTING PHRENOLOGY INCONSISTENCY OF THE ANTIPHRENOLOGISTS.
OUR readers will be amused, if they will take the trouble to contrast the sayings and opinions of the antiphrenologists with each other, and see how much each admits, which the other denies. In the article on Temperament, by Dr Prichard, to which we alluded in last Number, that learned opponent gives sundry weighty reasons for believing the cerebellum to be the seat, not of Amativeness, but of the intellect! and, as a proof, he avers, that many Cretins with small cerebella manifest strong sexual desire, but little or no intellectual power,-facts which he says he can reconcile with the above theory, but not with Phrenology. Tiedemann, the celebrated professor at Heidelberg, propounds a different view of the matter; and while he is equally hostile to Phrenology, and to the connection of Amativeness with the cerebellum, he chooses a more dignified habitation for the intellect, and declares in his lectures to his wondering students, "that persons with large foreheads are endowed with superior intellects, and that individuals with small heads have inferior intellects. The brain of Cuvier, which was unusually large, will illustrate the first, and the skull of this idiot (shewing one) the second." This is not amiss for a great antiphrenologist like our friend Tiedemann; but what says Dr Prichard on the same subject? He disapproves altogether of this doctrine, and gives the palm to the head of moderate or smallish size. "It would rather seem probable," says he, "that the state of interior organization, from which the highest degree of energy in its" (the understanding's)" appropriate action may be supposed to result, would be found in a brain, the volume of which, both generally and in its parts, has the medium degree of development, or is neither greater nor less than the average dimension. As far as our experience and observation reaches, it bears out this presumption: the individuals whom we have known possessed of the greatest intellectual powers have been those in the form and size of whose heads, compact and of moderate volume, nothing remarkable presented itself."*
It would be curious to discover whether Dr Prichard has a moderate-sized head, and Tiedemann rather a big one! The result might enable us more easily to reconcile them to each other. In the mean time, it is not too much to conjecture, that the intellectual • Cyclopædia of Practical Medicine, article TEMPERAMENT, No. xxi. p. 174.