Abbildungen der Seite

under the view of one of the members of it, which appears likely to be quite as secure as the one now in use, and infinitely less distressing to the wearer.

VIthly. The situation of the parish paupers in some of the houses for insane persons; respecting the care of whom, when confined in parochial workhouses, the Committee also made some inquiries, as connected with the matter before them, although not expressly included in the reference to them.

VIIthly.-Detentions of persons, the state of whose minds did not require confinement:-On this ground of complaint, Your Committee had very slender means of information.

VIIIthly. Insufficiency of certificates on which patients are received into the madhouses.

[ocr errors]

IXthly. The defective visitation of private Madhouses, under the provisions of the 14th Geo. III., c. 49.

On consideration of the evidence adduced, Your Committee are persuaded, that no doubt will be entertained of the insufficiency of the visitation which has taken place, even within the limits of the district assigned to the care of the College of Physicians, from the professional occupations of the visitors not allowing them sufficient time to perform the duties required; and still less doubt will probably remain, of the utter insufficiency or total neglect of those duties in other parts of England. It follows of course, that some amendment of the law is requisite for this part of the subject.

Your Committee cannot resist observing also, that the Commissioners have not the power of withholding a new licence to a person deprived of one for the most flagitious conduct.

In Ireland, the necessity of making some further provi

sion for insane persons, appears to be more urgent even than in this part of the United Kingdom; as it will be seen in the evidence, that, with the exception of two public establishments, and some private houses in Dublin, there are no places appropriated separately for the reception of persons in this state in Ireland. In a few hospitals for general relief of patients, there are wards for insane persons, but these are very ill calculated for the attainment of the objects that should be had in view; and as there are no poor houses in that part of the United Kingdom, the pauper lunatics are allowed to wander about the country, till those who are outrageous are sent up to Dublin, in a manner shocking to humanity; while the idiots are left to go about the villages, the sport of the common people.

As the governors of the Asylum at York called the attention of the other House of Parliament, by petition, in the last session, to the management of the establishment, in order to show that it was unnecessary to subject it to the provisions of a bill then depending, respecting madhouses; and the governors of Bethlem succeeded on that occasion in obtaining a clause, while the bill was in the House, for a partial exemption from the provisions of the act in favor of that hospital; Your Committee are desirous of directing the attention of the House, to the parts of the evidence which relate to those two establishments.

Your Committee, impressed with the inadequacy of the buildings for the reception of insane persons throughout England, obtained from an architect, who has given great attention to this subject, and who has been employed to make designs for an asylum for the West Riding of the county of York, plans with estimates, which they think may be useful to the public, especially in counties where there may be a disposition to erect houses for the reception

of insane persons under the Act 48 Geo. III, c. 96; as it appears to Your Committee to be highly desirable to promote the operation of that wise and beneficent law, in order to prevent the intolerable evil of these unhappy persons being imprisoned in gaols or in parish workhouses, or permitted to wander about the country in a state of total helplessness and neglect; in the former case, to the great annoyance of the other prisoners or poor, as well as the unneces sary restraint and suffering to themselves; and in the latter, to the great danger of their doing mischief to others or to themselves.

Some suggestions for the improvement in the care and management of houses for the reception of insane persons, will be found in the evidence.

The length to which this Inquiry has been unavoidably drawn, must in any event have prevented, at this period of the session, a bill being passed in the remaining part of it, as perfect as the necessity of the case demands; Your Committee deeply lament the necessity for this delay, because the management in more than one of the places for the reception of the unhappy persons, has been so reprehensible, as, in their opinion, to subject the persons concerned, if it had been known, to criminal prosecutions; but that regret is somewhat abated by a conviction, that the state of those establishments has already been considerably meliorated by the inquiries which have taken place.

Your Committee are persuaded also, that when the extent of the evil pointed out in this report shall be generally known, the visiting Physicians in London and its neighbourhood will, as far as the professional calls upon them will permit, give additional attention to the duty they have been desirous of discharging; and that the justices of the peace in the several counties, will feel it to be their duty to watch

as narrowly as circumstances will admit, over the conduct of the keepers of these houses, and the treatment of the patients in them. The Committee trust also, that every magistrate in the kingdom, who may think the condition of insane persons worthy of his attentions, will inform himself as well as he can, respecting abuses of the nature alluded to, that it may be submitted to His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether it may be fit in such case, that a prosecution should be instituted at the suit of his Majesty's Attorney General.

If in any instance a magistrate (during the approaching recess) shall be refused admittance into one of these houses, Your Committee cannot doubt, but that such refusal will have due weight with the persons who may hereafter be authorised to grant licences for keeping houses of this description, if they shall be invested with a discretion to refuse them to unfit persons.

AFTER the patient inquiry made by Your Committee on the matters referred to them, they thought it desirable to inspect the New Bethlem Hospital, erected in Saint George's Fields, but not yet inhabited; that they might consider, with the advantage they have acquired from this examination, how far the building might appear to be well calculated for the accommodation of, and to afford the best chance of cure to, the patients intended to be soon removed into it; and having accordingly made a careful inspection of that building, they submit the following observations :

On entering the gallery on the principal floor, they observed that the windows were so high as to prevent the patients looking out; with the unfitness of which Your Committee were struck, as intelligent persons had stated in

the course of the examination, that the greatest advantage might be derived from the patients having opportunities of seeing objects that might amuse them. An alteration might be made in this respect, if it shall be deemed proper by the Governors, at little expense, and with no risk of injury to the building; as it was stated by Mr. Upton, the deputy architect, that these windows were at first so constructed, but were afterwards built up at the lower part, on a suggestion that it would be inconvenient to expose the patients to the view of passengers: which inconvenience it is conceived might be very easily obviated. The windows in the upper story appear to be properly constructed.

In the sleeping apartments the windows are not glazed, which Your Committee think deprives the patients, generally, of a reasonable comfort, and may in many cases be really injurious; but what appears to be still more important, there are no flues constructed for the purpose of con. ducting warm air through the house, except in the lower galleries on the basement story, which are proposed to be warmed by steam. This appears to be deserving of serious consideration, because it is represented that the patients suffer sensibly from cold; and Doctor Munro, the physician to the hospital, stated, that it had not been thought advisable to administer medicines in the winter, on account of the cold of the house.

In this opinion, respecting the advantage to be derived from the hospital being properly warmed, the Committee are strengthened by the testimony of the Reverend Mr. Becher, who has witnessed the good effect of it in the Nottingham Asylum, and in other places.

In the infirmary for female patients, there are only three small windows at a great height, on the northern side of the

« ZurückWeiter »