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« The first and most sacred of all Property is Thought and the firstodůty of a philosopher and
"Freeman is to communicate his opinion to his country whatever may be its success."
For the Belfast Monthly Magazine.
man, without establishments which
now appearso necessary and indis. ON LUNATIC ASYLUMS.
pensable ? To aggravate the misery, OR some little time past, my atFOR
disease and poverty sunk the wretched tention has been turned towards victim in loathsome filth, and even the present state of the principal Lu- the few public receptacles rather hatic Asylums in and about London; deterred by their noisome uncleanness and in the course of my visits to these and careless management, than invited abodes of mental disorder, I could the diseased by an appearance of not but experience a variety of e comfort to enter their walls. motions—many, it will readily be sup Even to the time of the benevolent posed, of sorrow and compassion for Howard, many hospitais as well as suffering humanity—but, some, I must prisons in Great Britain and on the confess, of pleasure and satisfaction. Continent were rather a disgrace to The calamits of reason dethroned is humanity, than the emblems of chariindeed to be deplored, but the wisdom ty or justice. By the inestimable labours. that restores her lost empire cannot of this great Philanthropist, which be sufficiently admired. I did not the celebrated Burke eloquently termundertake this survey, from any exo, ed “a voyage of discovery-a cira pectation, that my own observations cumnavigation of chafiiy,:' low greatcould suggest any thing useful : But, ly:-1 tlie sum of: Human . mnisery considering the advances which have been dininished ! aird, during the been made within the last 20 or 30 short period ... Iris own life, what a years in the science of political and happy change was wiņught all over moral æconomy, if I may be allowed Europe: We need, but look over tlie latter expression, I was desirous his pages: to discoveri in what state to compare the present mode of treat
be found:ruimerous ubhappy beings, ing the unhappy objects of Insanity, deprived oftheir reason ; either wanderwith the practice of former times, in ing about without restraint, the oborder that I might discover the degree jects of horror or of pity; or, conof enlightened humanity to which the founded with felons in common jails; present age has attained, concerning or lastly, under ignorant and unteela subject so interesting to every in- ing keepers, in the gloomy cell of a habitant of every nation.
workhouse, condemned to clank their We have, indeed, some reason to chains night and day, upon the stony congratulate our country when floor--in winter, perishing with cold regard the numerous hospitals and in sutiner, without even the refreshcharitable institutions, established of ment of a Bath to cleanse the feverish late years in this metropolis, and in body from its accumulated filth. * Inost parts of the British Empire, supported too in the most liberal
*“In some few gaois are contined manner, and conducted upon the
Lunatics and Idiots. These serve wisest plans of @conomy: We cannot but reflect-these are all of a date sport to idle visitants at Assizes, and
other times of general resort. comparatively recento-poverty and MHIV of the Bridewells are crowded disease have always existed:
and otfensiv, because the rooms which then did our ancestors support their were designed for prisoners are occupied existence under evils so incident to by the insane. When besc are 10
BELFAST MAG. NO, XVII,
It is almost impossible to conceive as to children, with regard to its that, for
so many past ages, the practical effect, that the dominion of situation of the Maniac should have fear will not produce a moral change engaged so little the attention of en like the dominion of confidence and lightened politicians, or of wise and esteem. Yet, I apprehend, every one disinterested men ; that the sentiment will be inclined to confess, because of the vulgar should have been so from earliest infancy he has associated long praciically entertained, of made together the ideas of tury, Bediam ness being an incurable disorder, (as and chains, that, he thinks it so though an instance of recovery from necessary
that lunatics 'should be thal degraded state had never occurred confined and kept in awe, he has within their knowledge) that no public always been used to regard the name efforts were made, no system of of a mad-house with horror. I am wholesome and humane treatment a far from thinking, that any thing I dopted, to restore the wanderings of a inay have to communicate, respecting distempered imagination, to restore in the interior of these receptacles, the fact, a man to hintself—a citizen of secrets of the prison house"--will rethe world to his proper rank in the move the natural impression of awful scale of rational existence.
terror and sympathy for man's fallen But, what shall we say of their dignity, which must strike every feelsagacity, who, wben they had faintlying nwd. But I am inclined to discovered, that a restoration from believe ihat many of the particulars this bumiliating state was not in.
which I shall introduce amongst the possible, perunitted or used blows observations that I may have to make and stripes, with horrible barbarity upon the present state of Lunatic and ignorance, to correct the ravings Asylums in England and on the Con• of men, who knew not that they had tinent, will not be read without in. erred in any way to deserve a punish. terest by those who value, as they ment so cruel ? 'We are necessitated ought, the possession of their reason)-to conclůcko that the world is pro- perhaps with something like that gressively growing, #iser seeing we compassionate tenderness for suffering now find ihal Ktndness will produce humanity, and gratitude to the source a soothing elect:upon the affections, of wisdom, which are felt on reading and will often succeed: :in: calming the melaucholy tale of a shipwreck ; the fury of. a. (urbülent -itrine; when in which a favourite traveller is reharsh means wondd have :exasperated presented as being cast away sense. him 10 all the latrars of datermined iese, upon some distant store, destined Vengeance. The affections are not however,aftertoils and dangers to recover thereture extinguished, because the not only the strength of his body, controul of reason may have been but the vigour of his mind. The for a time suspended.* And the rule
wreck of intellect, when complete, is will as well apply to raging madinen indeed a mournful subject for retiec
tion; and the blameless forin which kept separate, they disturb and terrify was once governed by reason, is.conother prisoners. No care is taken of templated by many with more horror them, al:bongh it is probable that by than the wretch who has degraded medicines aod proper regimen, some of his nature, and dishonoured the surthen might be restored to their sense and to usefulness in life."--Howard on
viving gift of reason with the infamy prisons. Sect. 1, p. 8.
of some wicked crime. Whence arises *" cannot avoid giving my most
this strange prepossession unles from decided suffrag., says l'inci, in favour
ignorance of the cause? "Non unus of the moral quouties of maniaes. I
mentes agitat furor."* The inan who have no where net, except in winances,
is deeply versed in experience of the with fouder husbands, more affectionate aberrations of reason, knows that there parents, more empassioned lovers, mure are some species of Insanity, which, pure and exalted patriots, than in the with proper treatment are curable ; lui atic asylum, during their intervals and others he is accustomed to reof calmness and reason. Vid. Pinel vis lucauity, s. 5.
* Juvenal Sat. xiv.