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the frequency of suicide ; even the celebrated Montesquieu has condescended to become a vehicle of this calumny.' Now it is a curious fact, that an estimate taken in 1817 of the proportion of suicides in several large cities on the continent, presents a greater number than our own metropolis for the same year; in some of these indeed the proportion is enormously great when compared with that of London : this, perhaps, is to be attributed mainly to the particular circumstances of the respective provinces arising from the protracted war: but even in Paris, Berlin and Copenhagen, the number of suicides during the above year is in relation to that of London, as 5 to 2, 5 to 3, and 3 to 1. Thus, says Dr. Burrows, if the prevalence of suicide be truly a test of the prevalence of insanity, we have here positive proof, that mental derangement is less frequent in England than in several other countries.' It must however be recollected, that the above comparison only applies to one year, and that no true estimates of this kind can be formed unless the circumstances political and otherwise of the several countries are precisely similar. We question too the propriety of making the number of suicides an indication of the number of the insane, since we are not disciples of that creed which indiscriminately puts down every case of selfdestruction to the score of deranged intellect.
As to the more particular question of the prevalence of lunacy in England, Dr. Powell, while investigating this subject, took the pains to compare the Commissioners' register of Lunatics for 1800, with the census of the country's population of the same date ; and this comparison presents the proportion of only one lunatic in 7300. Admitting,' says Dr. Burrows, this proportion to be a just one, none would pronounce insanity a prevalent malady, and all apprehension on that account ought to cease.' But these returns, as we have already intimated, are too defective to authorize any correct deduction from them; they do not, in the first place, comprehend private unlicensed houses; they omit pauper lunatics and idiots; lunatics also still dwelling in their own habitations are not included; and will it be believed ?- the largest lunatic hospital in the empire is quite overlooked: St. Luke's is not in the list! Neither is the small but excellent establishment attached to Guy's Hospital, nor the celebrated Retreat at York.'
. Let us suppose,' says Dr. Burrows, that the number of all classes of lunatics omitted in this return amount to half the number included in it,' (which by the way we imagine to be a larger number than is actually the case,) 'then the total of lunatics in England and Wales would be about 6000. This estimate we will assume to be nearly correct. What standard then offers with which this enumeration may be com
pared, and whence the degree in which insanity prevails may be measored?'
'According to the census in 1810, the population of England and Wales was about ten millions and a half; being an increase, since 1800, of 1,300,000; therefore to rate the population in 1819 at twelve millions must be a moderate computation. Now the relative proportion of 6000 to 12,000,000 is a unit to 2,000. This, in comparison with one Junatic in 7300 persons, is a high proportion; but, accepting the former and consequently more unfavourable proportion, does it justify the conclusion that insanity is an exceedingly prevalent disease?
In relation to the population, although this ratio be more than thrice Dr. Powell's, yet I feel assured it does not warrant such an inference; and in relation to the occurrence of other maladies, I am convinced very litile reflection will induce a concurrent opinion that insanity is comparatively in England a rare affection.'
As to Ireland, we have already remarked upon the uncertainty that must at present attend all estimates of the number of lunatics in comparison with the population of the country; and as it respects Scotland, it is a remarkable fact that the combined parochial returns, compared with the whole population, give a proportion of 2; to every 1000 persons, the average being about five lunatics for each of the 992 parishes of Scotland, and the population of the country being estimated at two millions. Now this proportion is so much above what would be anticipated, allowing the correctness of the estimate for England, that we are inclined to think there must be some undetected source of fallacy in one or the other of the calculations, probably in both, the rate for England being placed too low, and that of Scotland too high; for, from a comparison of the circumstances and habits of the two countries, and more especially from the consideration that our metropolis, compared with Edinburgh, is so immensely disproportionate, both in numbers and incentives to practices and pursuits which make way for the irruption of mental disease, we should have expected a result opposite to that which the above estimate presents. We hope that in the act relative to lunacy, now about to be framed, especial attention will be given to insure a greater accuracy of return than has hitherto obtained; these interesting calculations respecting the comparative prevalence of mental to other maladies will then prove more satisfactory. As the case now stands, however, we do not feel disposed to dispute the postulatum of Dr. Burrows,—that he has advanced enough to refute the general conclusions, that insanity is extraordinarily prevalent, and that it exceeds in England. What is still more pleasing and important, we meet with sufficient evidence in the work, to convince the unprejudiced inquirer that recoveries from insanity are becoming much more numerous than formerly. Soothing, inM 4
deed, must be the reflections of those individuals who recently, at the expense of great personal inconvenience, instituted and pursued that inquisition into public and private abuses, which has doubtless proved one of the principal causes both of the present improved condition of institutions for the iusane, and of the mode of treating deranged intellect. It is one of the distinguishing characteristics of British senators, that even while occupied in those momentous affairs which involve the political interests of their country, they are ever mindful of the more minute considerations that bear upon the public comfort:--and yet there are those who affect to believe in the indifference of the English parliament towards the well-being of the English people.
Dr. Burrows devotes a section of his book to the agitation of the following query, ' Is religion a cause or an effect of insanity?' In the remarks on this very delicate and interesting topic, we find a great deal to approve. We formerly stated that the crowded asylums of Paris, during the revolutionary commotions of that city, afford pretty ample proof that insanity may become even endemically prevalent without any assistance from religious fervour; and we have now to add, on the authority of Dr. Esquirol, a celebrated French physician, that religious fanaticism, which formerly occasioned so much insanity, has almost ceased to have any influence. In more than 600 lunatics in La Salpetriere, he discovered only eight; and in 337 admitted into his own private asylum, he recognizes only one whose malady was supposed to arise from that source.' We
e cannot resist the temptation of presenting to our readers the picture which Dr. Esquirol himself draws of the present condition of his country.
La religion n'intervient que comme un usage dans les actes les plus solennels de la vie; elle n'apporte plus ses consolations et l'esperance aur malheureur; la morale religieuse ne guide plus la raison dans le sentier étroit et difficile de la vie ; le froid egoisme a desesché toutes les sources du sentiment; il n'y a plus d'affections domestiques, ni de respect, ni d'amour, ni d'autorité, ni de dépendances reciproques, chacun vit pour soi; personne ne forme de ces sages combinaisons, qui liaient à la generation future les generations presentes.'
A mere comparison, indeed, of the proverbial freedom from the restraints of religion, which is at present conspicuous in Paris, with the vast excess of suicides above those of our own metropolis, according to the census already adverted to, would, of itself, be sufficient to prove the salutary tendency of Christianity in preventing the inroads of mental sickness; and, indeed, abstractedly considered, all must allow, that the manifold ills of life unbalanced
by faith are much more calculated to overturn the intellect, and produce the horrid consequences of mental alienation, than the belief of any religious dogmata, however extravagant and untenable. The plain case we take to be this : in constitutions
prone to mental aberration, or in individuals originally so framed and circumstanced, that an exciting cause is only wanting to bring the latent tendency into life and action, vivid representations or conceptions respecting the awful concerns of futurity are perhaps more operative in overturning the understanding, than any other single excitement. But madness, for the most part, is a complicated effect; and it must ever be recollected that despondent feelings and maniacal horrors, on the score of religion, are more frequently the consequence than the cause of the condition we deplore.
Many cases (says Dr. Burrows) have, it is to be feared, been hastily attributed to a religious origin, merely because the conduct or conversation of the lunatic has exhibited traits of too vivid spiritual impressions.'
We would not have it supposed by these admissions, that we concede any thing in favour of that creed which proceeds upon the principle of selection and exclusion on the part of the Deity, and demands, as the criterion of saving faith, a consciousness and conviction of a peculiar cast and character. Who does not wish, while perusing the life of Cowper, that the sensitive and amiable spirit of this extraordinary man had been differently directed! And when we learn from his biographer (Hayley) that he one day took him aside and imparted the awful secret that a great wall was built between himself and heaven, which it was impossible he should ever be able to scale; we are shocked at principles which in any mind could lead to such feelings, and we imagine that the majority of our readers will discover in the following very affecting narrative, by Dr. Burrows, something of a similar effect from a similar source.
• A young lady, aged about 22, not the only member of her family marked by natural genius, but of acutely nervous sensibility and delicacy of constitution, had, from living in a state of affluence, retired with her mother to a modest cottage in a beautifully situated village, where she soon engaged herself in every pursuit thai an ardent imagination and pure philanthrophy dictate. She was the instructress of the poor,
and the comforter of the distressed. In short she was an enthusiast in every opinion she adopted, or duty that she undertook. In this frame of body and mind, a minister, not less remarkable for his zeal than for his persuasive powers in enforcing certain theological tenets, settled in the same place. Struck with his discourses, she gradually imbibed his doctrines, though very opposite to those which she had been taught. She grew very disquieted, and although becomingly pious and attentive before, henceforth she devoted herself entirely to theological studies; but without interruption of those good works in which she was ever engaged. Her health, however, soon suffered by the extraordinary ardour she displayed in the performance of the various duties she had now undertaken. To wean her from pursuits which were evidently making as great inroads on her peace of mind as on her corporeal system, she was removed to the sea-side. Here her case was unfortunately mistaken, her health grew worse, and her spirits more unequal. She returned home; and it was at this period she wrote to a physician in a contiguous provincial city, not less distinguished for his private qualities than his love of science, the following letter :
• Dear Sir.—The benevolent and persevering attention which I saw you exercise last summer for my unhappy friends, induces me to think that any opportunity of doing good is welcome to you, and that you will not, on account of its length, and the time it may occupy, refuse to read the statement of a case, which I think requires a fuller explanation than ordinary.
* I am not, I hope, prompted to write to you by the despicable wish to speak of myself, but by a sincere desire to profit by your assistance in avoiding errors, and becoming as useful as the measure of my talents will permit.
• Į believe your penetration must have discovered, when my mother consulted
me, that I concealed some part of my disorder from you ; and you probably conjectured the hidden part was a mental disease; since whatever terrors infirmity of body may bring on, weakness of mind, I believe, only can produce an excessive fear of human opinions.
"It was early decided by a medical friend of my family, that my stitution was extremely irritable; a sentence which was quite incomprehensible to me till experience too well explained it. In my earliest childhood my spirits were very weak, and I frequently shed tears, though when asked by my mother what was the reason, I could never give any, However, I felt that I wanted something. Perhaps the discipline used for me was not exactly suited; but I know not how it could have been otherwise, since my mother's natural character was as different as possible from mine, so that no experience could lead her to understand me. My outward appearance was exceedingly calm, so that I resembled more the statue of a child than one alive. My mother thought that so much apparent moderation needed no correction, and she did not know that I wanted all the assistance that the most watchful care could give me. As this was the case I was too much indulged, I believe. As a father, sir, you will comprehend many little things that to another might appear ridiculous, and they will not appear unimport-ant to you because they are childish. Amongst your children's books there may perhaps be one of scripture history, with prints, and amongst them one of Nebuchadnezzar in his state of degradation, very ill executed, and probably ridiculous enough. When I was very little; perhaps before I could read, my mother found me crying violently over this print; and, on inquiry, found it was because I thought I might at