Chapters in the History of the Insane in the British Isles

Chapters in the History of the Insane in the British Isles
Title: Chapters in the History of the Insane in the British Isles
Release Date: 2010-02-05
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 26 March 2019
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CHAPTERS
IN THE
HISTORY OF THE INSANE
IN THE BRITISH ISLES

BY

DANIEL HACK TUKE, M.D., F.R.C.P.

PRESIDENT OF THE MEDICO-PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION,
JOINT EDITOR OF "THE JOURNAL OF MENTAL SCIENCE," AND FORMERLY
VISITING PHYSICIAN TO THE YORK RETREAT

"I might multiply these instances almost indefinitely, but I thought itwas desirable just to indicate the state of things that existed, in order to contrastthe Past with the Present."—Earl of Shaftesbury.

WITH FOUR ILLUSTRATIONS

LONDON
KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH & CO., 1, PATERNOSTER SQUARE
1882

DEDICATED TO
JONATHAN HUTCHINSON, F.R.S.,
PROFESSOR OF PATHOLOGY AND SURGERY, ROYAL COLLEGE OF SURGEONS, ENGLAND,
IN MEMORY OF
A LONG FRIENDSHIP.

[vii]

PREFACE.

[Skip to Contents]

I think it was Pascal who said that the last thing anauthor does in making a book is to discover what to putat the beginning. This discovery is easily made in thepresent instance.

I wish to state that the range of this book, as its titleimplies, is mainly restricted to the salient points of thehistorical sketch it attempts to pourtray. To havewritten a complete History of the Insane in the BritishIsles would have necessitated the narration of detailsuninteresting to the general reader. Hence, as theperiods and the institutions of greatest importance havealone been brought into prominence, others have beeninevitably thrown into the shade. Thus BethlemHospital has occupied much space as the centre aroundwhich gathers a large amount of historic interest, havingbeen with our forefathers almost the only representativefor many centuries of the attempt to provide for theinsane in England—the outward symbol of nearly all[viii]they knew on the subject. To the Retreat at York,again, considerable attention has been devoted in thishistory, as the cradle of reform which made the year1792 the date of the new departure in the treatmentof the unhappy class, on whose behalf the various charitableand national acts recorded in this volume havebeen performed.

Lincoln and Hanwell also, which in the course oftime were the scenes of redoubled efforts to amelioratethe condition of the insane, have received in these pagesa large, but certainly not too large, measure of praise;and the writer would have been glad could he haveconveniently found space for a fuller description of thegood work done at the latter establishment.[1]

Of no other malady would the history of the victimsdemand so constant a reference to legislation. In thechapter devoted to it, the Earl of Shaftesbury has formedthe central figure, honourably distinguished, as have beenseveral other members of the legislature in the samecause, both before and after the year 1828, when asLord Ashley he seconded Mr. Gordon's Bill, and firstcame publicly forward in support of measures designedto advance the interests of the insane. A laboriousand sometimes fruitless examination of Hansard from[ix]the earliest period of lunacy legislation, has beennecessary in order to present a continuous narrative ofthe successive steps by which so great a success hasbeen achieved.

No one knows so well as the historian of an importantand extended movement like this, the deficienciesby which its recital is marred, but I trust that I have atleast succeeded in supplying a want which some havelong felt, in placing before the British reader the mainoutlines of a history with which every friend of humanityought to be acquainted. Its interest, I need hardlyurge, extends far beyond the pale of the medical profession,and no one who has reason to desire for friendor relative the kindly care or the skilful treatmentrequired for a disordered mind, can do otherwise thanwish gratefully to recognize those who, during well-nigha century, have laboured to make this care and thistreatment what they are at the present day.

In conclusion, it remains for me to express myobligations to those who have in various ways renderedme assistance in the prosecution of this work. Inaddition to acknowledgments made in the followingpages, I have pleasure in thanking Dr. McDowall, ofMorpeth, for the use of manuscript notes of works bearingon the first chapter; as also Mr. S. Langley. I have tothank Mr. Coote, of the Map Department at the British[x]Museum, and Mr. F. Ross, for help in preparing thechapter on Bethlem Hospital; also Dr. W. A. F. Browneof Dumfries, and Dr. Clouston of the Edinburgh RoyalAsylum, for valuable information utilized in the chapteron the history of the insane in Scotland. Lastly, inthe preparation of this, as of other works, I am greatlyindebted to the ever-willingly rendered assistance ofMr. R. Garnett, of the British Museum Reading Room.

4, Charlotte Street,
Bedford Square,

June 12, 1882.

Footnotes:

[1] The reader is referred to Dr. Conolly's "The Treatment of theInsane without Mechanical Restraints" (1856) for more details.

[xi]

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER PAGE
I. Medical and Superstitious Treatment of theInsane in the Olden Time 1
II. Bethlem Hospital and St. Luke's 45
III. Eighteenth-Century Asylums—Foundation of the York Retreat 92
IV. Course of Lunacy Legislation 147
V. Lincoln and Hanwell—Progress of Reform in the Treatment of the Insane from 1844 to the Present Time 204
VI. Our Criminal Lunatics—Broadmoor 265
VII. Our Chancery Lunatics 285
VIII. Our Idiots and Imbeciles 299
IX. Scotland 321
X. Ireland 393
XI. Progress of Psychological Medicine during the last Forty Years: 1841-1881 443
Conclusion 502
Appendices 507
Index 537

[1]

CHAPTER I.
MEDICAL AND SUPERSTITIOUS TREATMENT OF THEINSANE IN THE OLDEN TIME.

Among our Saxon ancestors the treatment of the insanewas a curious compound of pharmacy, superstition, andcastigation. Demoniacal possession was fully believed tobe the frequent cause of insanity, and, as is well known,exorcism was practised by the Church as a recognizedordinance. We meet with some interesting particularsin regard to treatment, in what may be called its medico-ecclesiasticalaspect, in a work of the early part of thetenth century, by an unknown author, entitled "Leechdoms,Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England,"or, as we should say, "Medicine, Herb Treatment, andAstrology." It forms a collection of documents neverbefore published, illustrating the history of science inthis country before the Norman Conquest.[2] It clearlyappears that the Saxon leeches derived much of theirknowledge directly from the Romans, and through themfrom the Greeks, but they also possessed a good deal of[2]their own. The herbs they employed bespeak considerableacquaintance with botany and its application tomedicine as understood at that day. The classic peonywas administered as a remedy for insanity, and mugwortwas regarded as useful in putting to flight what thisSaxon book calls "devil sickness," that is, a mentalmalady arising from a demon. Here is a recipe for "afiend-sick man" when a demon possesses or dominateshim from within. "Take a spew-drink, namely lupin,bishopwort, henbane, cropleek. Pound them together;add ale for a liquid, let it stand for a night, and add fiftylibcorns[3] or cathartic grains and holy water."[4] Here, atany rate, we have a remedy still employed, althoughrejected from the English Pharmacopœias of 1746 and1788—henbane or hyoscyamus—to say nothing of ale.Another mixture, compounded of many herbs and ofclear ale, was to be drunk out of a church-bell,[5] whileseven masses were to be sung over the worts or herbs,and the lunatic was to sing psalms, the priest sayingover him the Domine, sancte pater omnipotens.

Dioscorides and Apuleius are often the sources of theprescriptions of the Saxons, at least as regards the herbemployed. For a lunatic it is ordered to "take clove wortand wreathe it with a red thread about the man's swere(neck) when the moon is on the wane, in the monthwhich is called April, in the early part of October; soon[3]he will be healed." Again, "for a lunatic, take the juiceof teucrium polium which we named polion, mix withvinegar, smear therewith them that suffer that evilbefore it will to him (before the access), and shouldestthou put the leaves of it and the roots of it on a cleancloth, and bind about the man's swere who suffers theevil, it will give an experimental proof of that samething (its virtue)."[6]

It is greatly to be regretted that the virtues ascribedto peony, used not internally, but in the following way,are not confirmed by experience. "For lunacy, if a manlayeth this wort peony over the lunatic, as he lies, soonhe upheaveth himself hole; and if he have this wortwith him, the disease never again approaches him."[7]

Mandrake, as much as three pennies in weight, administeredin a draught of warm water, was prescribedfor witlessness; and periwinkle (Vinca pervinca) wasregarded as of great advantage for demoniacal possession,and "various wishes, and envy, and terror, andthat thou may have grace, and if thou hast this wortwith thee thou shalt be prosperous and ever acceptable."

Then follows an amusing direction: "This wort shaltthou pluck thus, saying, 'I pray thee, Vinca pervinca,thee that art to be had for thy many useful qualities,that thou come to me glad, blossoming with thy mainfulnesses;that thou outfit me so, that I be shielded andever prosperous, and undamaged by poisons and bywrath;' when thou shalt pluck this wort, thou shalt beclean from every uncleanness, and thou shalt pick it[4]when the moon is nine nights old, and eleven nights,and thirteen nights and thirty nights, and when it is onenight old."[8]

For epilepsy in a child a curious charm is given inthis book, used also for "a dream of an apparition." Thebrain of a mountain goat was to be drawn through agolden ring, and then "given to the child to swallowbefore it tastes milk; it will be healed."[9]

Wolf's flesh, well-dressed and sodden, was to be eatenby a man troubled with hallucinations. "The apparitionswhich ere appeared to him, shall not disquiet him."[10]

Temptations of the fiend were warded off by "a worthight red niolin—red stalk—which waxeth by runningwater. If thou hast it on thee and under thy headbolster, and over thy house doors, the devil may notscathe thee, within nor without"

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