« PreviousContinue »
properly altested, before the Commissioners at regular periods
, and to expose it annually to view in some part of the establish
The mere initials of names might serve for this latter pur. pose.
It is lastly expedient that, in all provisional measures for the insane, due cognizance be taken of the necessities of pauper lunatics; an inefficiency in the expedients adopted in reference to this important particular being but too obvious, and much both of private and public mischief having thereby been produced. Parliament, the summer before last, passed a temporary act (Geo. S. 59. cap. 127.) in order to remedy the defects of preceding regulations respecting pauper lunatics. • But this act (says Dr. Bur
. rows) short as it is, contains some serious errors and omissions. First, it does not order that these lunatics should be returned to the Commissioners; secondly, it takes cognizance of dangerous lunatics and idiots only; and thirdly, it is compulsory on parishes situated within counties, but it is not so on parishes situated within cities or places having a separate jurisdiction.'
The whole inquiry, indeed, with regard to the treatment of the insane resolves itself into two leading heads. It is desirable, first, that while none should be confined unnecessarily, all that do require controul, whether pauper or otherwise, should be subjected to it; and secondly, no means should be left untried which promise relief and cure. In order to give every facility for the trial of those means, the master must be sensible and humane, and the house so constructed and situated as to ensure as much comfort as possible to its distressed inmates.
But the question still remains, as to the most effectual mode of accomplishing the above requisites ? Dr. Burrows suggests, and the suggestion seems to us highly worthy the consideration of the legislature, that there shall be two distinct sets of officers for conducting the regulation of lunatics,-Commissioners and District Inspectors,-a majority of the first being selected from the College of Physicians. They should consist of three or five, meet quarterly, or oftener, in London, 'be empowered to grant, transfer, and annul licences; to release improper objects from continement; approve or reject superintendants; receive and register returns; arrange reports and communicate them to Parliament and the Secretary of State; and visit on especial occasions. They should go out by rotation. The duty of the District Inspectors should be subordinate to and under the controul of the Commissioners. Our author adds that England and Wales might be divided into eight districts, and that to each two or three inspectors might be appropriated ;-—these should be required to visit each asylum at least four times in the year, and at irregular and
those slender intimations which have escaped us under a lively
unexpected periods. Under the authority of the Commissioners, they should likewise be impowered to inspect all houses intended to be opened for asylums, and report thereon to the general commission.
In the case of those institutions which are supported by gratuitous funds, some delicacy will of course be required in the enforcement of necessary rules. In the event, however, of the com mission and inspection being both conducted by properly qualified agents, we do not think there could be much objection to subjecting the regulations even of these independent establishments to legal authority. Dr. Burrows estimates that the whole expense of commissioners, inspectors, registrar, and all the inciden tal charges of the arrangement, would scarcely amount to one-third of the computed expense of the plan embraced in the reje cted bill, viz. that of having eight commissioners, four secretaries, &c.
We shall further venture to suggest the expediency of instituting a fresh and minute inquiry into the present condition of lunatic asyl ums, prior to the arrangement of any legal measures for their man agement. The framing of a Bill would, after such inspection, be a matter of less difficulty, and its enactments would be more likely to meet the exigencies of the case, than if taken from the resu lts of the late inquisition: such an investigation likewise, by
an opportunity for estimating the actual state of these esta blishments, would prove, when compared with the documents already before Parliament and the public, to what extent the improvements already effected might supersede the necessity of restrictive or coercive measures. It would be conducted
under the advantage of less excited sensibility, and consequently of a judgment unbiassed by interested and exaggerated statements; while an opportunity would be presented of obtaining from institutions reformed, and from others since established
improved principles, a mass of information of the most valuable and unobjectionable nature. But we must not suffer ourselves to enlarge on this very interesting topic. When indeed we
ect on the high qualifications of the legislator, who stands pledged to the measure of preparing a code of enactments for par
Dentary consideration, we feel almost inclined to withhold feeling of the necessities of the case; and at the same time, under a Consciousness that, although much has already been effected, much still remains to be done towards ameliorating the afflicting circumstances connected with the suspension or loss of reason.
The following is the table to which we referred in page 173.
OL. XXIV. NO. XLVII.
A COMPARATIVE VIEW OF THE CURES OF CASES OF INSANITY IN DIFFERENT INSTITUTIONS FOR LUNATICS.
(1) Parl. Rep. 1816. App. p. 41: (3) a Stow's Survey of London, chap. 26. Haslam's Obaerv. &c. p. 245.. c Ibid. p. 249. d Parl. Rep. 1819. p. 131. e Ann. Rep. (4) Hallaran on Insanity,
(28) a Rap. sur l'etat des Hopitanx, &e. a París. Carter's Acc. of Foreign Hoxp. 1810 (29) Rapport, dec. ('blet. Scien. Medie. tom. xvi? 20. ep.compte rendu de l'Admin. centr. Ci 1107 114) Annuaire statistique Departs du Nord: p. 901. b Esquirol sur les Passions, e. p. *. (a) D. Buisson, Traite der Vasantes, p. 38. * (51) Dr. Bergmann'. Rep. April, 1919. (90) Dr. Vinen Private Commun, and purl. Rep. 1815, P. 16. (93) Pari. iuio, P.AS, 1. (*1) Ibid. 1913, p. 181. (5) a Diet. des Scien. Medio. tom. xvi. they are ivananted to Landeter Bounty Aerial. The praksally the langue ble the Asylum from the neighbourine parieto au publte conveyance,
Art. VIII.- Report from the Select Committee on Criminal
Laws, &c.; ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, 8th
July, 1819. pp. 270. WE E live at a period when the human mind is every where acting
under a powerful impulse. Whatever difference of opinion may be entertained respecting the causes from which it proceeds, or the consequences to which it leads, the existence of the fact itself admits of no dispute. Wherever our inquiries or personal observations extend, we find mankind restless and dissatisfied, and straining every faculty of mind and body for the improvement of their condition, to a degree of which no former age can furnish an example. Nothing can more strongly illustrate this than the comparative insignificance into wbich those countries are falling which do not participate in the general struggle for superiority; while in all the rest, new channels of communication are opened, more ingenious methods are adopted for giving permanence to natural and acquired advantages, and the resources of art are exhausted in increasing the value of the produce of the soil, or of the commodities which may be found beneath its surface. A still loftier idea will be formed of this display of mental energy, when it is considered that it is not confined to external nature alone. It has been equally conspicuous in the intellectual world; and in those sciences which treat of man as a rational, moral, and social being, there has been a greater revolution in opinion within the last half century than for some thousand years preceding. The deference formerly paid to custom and authority is every day diminishing, and the public has now acquired a confidence in its own judgment which makes it submit with impatience to any other species of controul. All classes of society are as tenacious of rights which they conceive to belong to themselves as they are prompt to challenge those which are claimed by others, and seldom admit any question of literature, morality, or policy, however subtle or comprehensive, to be too high for their understandings. Whenever the community at large takes an interest in any question which the course of events brings before it, neither length of acquiescence nor strength of legal title can protect it from full, and often uncereinonious, investigation; and if an attack is once made, however unreasonably, upon any received or established doctrine, law or usage, it cannot safely be defended otherwise than by shewing, not only that it is true or useful in the abstract, but that it is so under the particular modification in which it then presents itself. This spirit of universal inquisition is one of the most striking characteristics of the present day, and demands the deep and dispassionate attention of all who govern human affairs, as well as those who ruminate upon them. It
is openly or secretly pervading every part of the civilized world, and there is no appearance that it has yet fulfilled its appointed course. Instead of striving to stop its progress altogether, which we suspect will ultimately prove unavailing, we cannot help thinking that it would be wiser and safer to endeavour to confine it, as far as possible, within reasonable limits, and direct it to the attainment of practicable objects.
Few subjects have lately occupied more of the inquisitive spirit of which we have been speaking than that of Criminal Jurisprudence. By the abolition of torture, and the impartiality which characterised its general procedure, the criminal law of England early obtained a decided superiority over that of the other states of Europe, but, till near the end of the last century, continued an object rather of admiration than imitation. It is perhaps owing to the comparative superiority which it thus attained, that so little has been done within the last two or three hundred years for its amelioration. Committees of the two Houses bave from time to time been appointed, but their attempts at improvement have been languid ; and even those which sat in 1750 and 1770 were attended with no practical result. Scarcely any change was effected either in the form or substance of the criminal code, except when new taxes or new kinds of crime caused fresh felonies to be added to the list of existing penal enactments. At last, Sir S. Romilly, in 1810, introduced his bills for abolishing capital punishment in certain sorts of larceny; and it is owing to his celebrity and talents that the criminal law was first brought into general discussion. What the views of that distinguished man on the whole subject of crimes and punishments were, no speech or publication of his, as far as we are aware, has unequivocally disclosed; but without assuming them to be the same with those entertained by the Committee on criminal laws, the Report which they have now made may fairly be considered as a continuation of his labours.
Without stopping to inquire whether the Report is drawn up with the accuracy and perspicuity which might have been expected from the reputation of the chairman and members of the Committee, and the importance of the task devolved upon them, we shall proceed at once to the examination of its contents. It consists of four sections: the first relates to the returns, or statistical tables, produced before the Committee by the different gentlemen officiating in the courts of assize; the second, to the existing laws which the Committee propose to repeal; the third, to the renewal of Sir S. Romilly's acts respecting larceny; and the fourth, to the subject of forgery, We shall make some observations: I. On the contents of each of the four sections of which the Report is composed; II. On