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monials, and for the ability and devotion with which he had discharged his duties as the Medical Superintendent of a large Asylum, under the supervision of the Commissioners in Lunacy, who had frequently testified to the excellence of the Institution while under Mr. Millar's superintendence.
His management of your County Asylum has been warmly and repeatedly applauded, both by the Cemmissioners in Lunacy and by the Committee of Visitors. So recently as June last, the Chairman of the Visiting Justices officially eulogized the condition of the establishment under Mr. Millar's management.
At a Board meeting on the 15th of August last, without any previous intimation of the slightest feeling of dissatisfaction with Mr. Millar's conduct or management, the Visitors informed him that if he would not resign his situation they would not meet him at any future monthly meeting. To this Mr. Millar yielded at the time, but a few days afterwards he withdrew his assent. At a subsequent meeting on the 29th of August, the Visitors came to an official resolution that Mr. Millar was to be removed from his appointment that day three months, thus ignoring, by the date of his actual dismissal the resignation which they had previously forced upon him.
The Visitors adopted this course upon charges made in an anonymous letter which was read at the Board meeting of the 15th of August, and upon other secret charges respecting which they refuse to afford any information.
They refuse to a professional gentleman the privilege accorded by the laws of England to the lowest offender ;-the privilege of meeting his accusers, of knowing the charges and hearing the evidence for which he is made to suffer. The urgent appeals which have been made for this privilege, both in Mr. Millar's published letter to yourselves, and at the Michaelmas Court of Session, have been utterly disregarded by the Visitors, who shield themselves behind the legal powers conferred upon them by the Lunatic Asylums' Act.
We do not presume to entertain the question whether Mr. Millar is or is not worthy to be entrusted with the management of the Bucks Asylum; nor do we doubt that the Statute gives the Visitors the power of dismissal with or without a cause.
Nevertheless, we do earnestly protest against the exercise of this power in a manner opposed to the usages of all courts, boards and communities of Englishmen in the investigation of offences and the infliction of penalties.
Unlimited power over their officers was doubtless conferred upon the Visitors of Asylums by the Legislature, under the belief that it would be exercised in the spirit which usually characterizes the investigation of offences and the infliction of penalties in all courts, boards, and communities of Englishmen Had it been deemed possible that any Committee of Visitors could convert their Board into a tribunal passing sentences of professional ruin under charges made in anonymous letters or by other secret evidence, the legislature would probably have imposed some adherence to the common formalities of judicial enquiry, and have subjected the sentences of the Committee to be ratified by the Courts of Session.
But the Legislature had implicit faith in the justice and candour of English gentlemen. The Superintendents of Asylums have also had faith therein; for they have placed their reputations and their worldly prosperity in the keeping of Asylum Visitors. We are happy to acknowledge that hitherto their confidence has not been misplaced; proof whereof is afforded by the fact that medical appointments in Asylums are sought for by gentlemen, by whom they would be carefully avoided, if ignominous dismissal without cause, or for causes veiled in mystery and silence were known to be among the liabilities of such appointments.
If it is the interest of the insane poor to be placed under the care and treatment of professional men of education, skill, and repute-if it is the interest of rate-payers that their Hospitals for the cure of Insanity should be managed by zealous and able officers-if it is the interest of the English Magistracy to preserve their high character for even handed justice and manly candour-the interests of all have been deeply wounded by the manner in which Mr. Millar has been dis
missed from his office in your county. This dismissal has been the occasion of alarm and profound discouragement to the medical men who have charge of fifteen thousand of the insane poor of this kingdom-men who did not need to have their great anxieties augmented by the fear of dismissal and of professional ruin either upon secret or paltry accusations.
We most respectfully address these observations to you in the earnest hope that you will mark with your disapproval the manner in which the Visitors of your County Asylum have discharged the trust you have committed to them; and that you will thus establish the circumstances of Mr. Millar's dismissal as a precedent not to be imitated, but to be regretted and carefully shunned.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
We have the honor to be,
Your very obedient Servants, &c.,
Mr. Snape. The termination of Mr. Snape's contest with the Commissioners is referred to elsewhere. We have from the first expressed our great regret that a prosecution for manslaughter was instituted in this case, not only because it was likely to be futile, but also because it tended to shake public confidence in the humane and scientific treatment of the insane poor. The public generalize on all matters and on all occasions, and every member of our specialty has to some extent lost character in this unfortunate affair. Doubtless the Commissioners were induced to take the course they did by the earnestness of their desire to maintain considerate and humane treatment of the insane; but we trust and believe that in future, they will find less objectionable methods of doing so, and especially we trust to see them acting in concert with the Visitors of county asylums, who with rare exceptions, devote themselves with great ability and uprightness to the government of the important institutions which the legislature has placed under their rule. We observe that in a recent investigation into the death of a patient, caused by the accidental turning of a hot water tap, the visitors of the asylum had the advantage of Mr. Lutwidge's presence and skilful assistance, an advantage which they fully appreciated and gratefully acknowledged; and we can only regret that the first investigation into Mr. Snape's difficulty was not made by the visitors of the Surrey asylum assisted in like manner.
It is to be hoped that Mr. Snape's pamphlet will induce no one to imitate his example in the administration of prolonged shower-baths. His habitual employment of them would have been a good defence against the charge of manslaughter, since it would have proved his opinion of their safety. But if they constitute, as we hold they do, a most severe and objectionable mode of treatment; it is a matter of greater importance that their habitual use should
be condemned and prevented, than that a solitary instance of excess in their employment should be punished. We apprehend that Mr. Snape is quite wrong in supposing that he has discovered and introduced this mode of treatment. Ten years ago its employment, (though not to the Surrey extent) was by no means uncommon. It ought without delay to be abolished, like all other harsh and severe modes of treating insanity, like the large depletions which were formerly the routine practice, and like the fearful scalp issues which were invented and extensively used by a late Commissioner, the learned and lamented Pritchard.
Irish Commission. Since our last issue a royal commission has been issued to inquire into the government and condition of Irish asylums. Ireland is the peculiar land of commissions, because it is the country where no two people can agree upon any one thing. Our only objection to the present commission is that it removes from England the services of Mr. Wilkes and Mr. Lutwidge, and as the number of the English Commissioners is inadequate to the discharge of their own legitimate duties, the loss of these valuable services cannot fail to be detrimental to the public interests of this country.
Asylums Pension Act. We trust the Irish commission will succeed in recommending a scheme of retiring allowances, which will be acceptable to the government and satisfactory to the officers of asylums. At the fag end of the last session of Parliament, an asylum pension act was passed through the House by Sir R. Fergusson, for which he has received a good deal of abuse. If judged by the provisions of the act, no terms would be too hard for Sir Robert. But the circumstances under which he was compelled to acquiesce in a very bad bill, ought to exonerate him from much animadversion to which he has been subjected. When it was found that the whole of the new Irish asylums bill had no chance of becoming law, Sir Robert attempted to save the pension clause, (copied from the one in the English Asylum Act,) by passing a time bill. This was done with the intention of avoiding injustice and loss to persons who might need to claim pensions before the postponed asylum bill could be re-introduced. The government, however, refused to acquiesce to this extent, and Sir Robert had to take an extension of the civil pension act as his time bill, or nothing. All that can be said in favor of this act, is that it is indefensibly bad, a great advantage to those whose privilege it will be to introduce its successor, and a consolation to those
who have entertained any fears that it will become per
The Visitors of the Nottingham County Asylum have at their recent quarterly meeting, determined not to fill up the appointment of visiting physician to that institution, vacant by the death of Dr. John Calthorp Williams. Dr. Williams died on the 21st of July, from concussion of the brain, occasioned by a fall from his carriage. He graduated at Edinburgh in 1824, was F. R.C. P., Edin., and the author of a work on "Palpitations of the Heart."
J. C. B.
In addition to the letters from the Secretary of State for War, and from the Director General, (see page 271,) Dr. Robertson has to communicate the following:
Dublin, 25th October, 1856.
Dear Sir, I have been much gratified by the congratulatory address agreed to at the late Annual Meeting of the Association of Medical Officers of Asylums and Hospitals for the Insane, and beg that you will convey to those gentlemen my best thanks for this kind expression of their good opinion and esteem.
I remain, dear Sir,
Yours faithfully and obliged,
C. L. Robertson, Esq., M.B., &c., &c., &c.
Appointments. MR. JOHN HUMPHREY, M.R.C.S., L.S.A., to be Medical Superintendent of the Bucks County Asylum.
MR. RICHARD ADAMS, M.R.C.S., to be Medical Superintendent of the Cornwall County Asylum.
JOHN CHAPMAN, M.D., to be Assistant Medical Officer of the West Riding County Asylum.
The Pathology of Insanity; by JOHN CHARLES BUCKNILL, M.D.
The widely differing opinions which have been entertained by the ablest physicians respecting the pathology of insanity, clearly shew that there is some difficulty at the bottom of the question, greater than that which has existed with regard to the nature of other classes of disease. of this difficulty is not hard to find. A rational pathology must ever be founded upon the basis of physiology. It is indeed a kind of physiology; it is an account of the abnormalities of organization and of function, which as much depend on the natural laws of our being as do those of health. Fair weather and foul equally depend upon the laws of meteorology; health and disease equally depend upon the laws of animal life. The division of their study into the two departments of pathology and physiology is, therefore, perfectly arbitrary, and useful only for purposes of classification. But the knowledge of the laws of aberration cannot precede, or even be contemporaneous with, the knowledge of the normal laws of action. The high-road of health must be well known before the bye-ways and devious paths which surround it can be investigated.
In all organs of the body, except the brain, great advances have been made in the knowledge of their physiological laws, and the amount of this knowledge bears a close relation to the obvious adaptation of each organ to the discharge of its function. The adaptation of the heart to the propulsion of the blood, the adaptation of the VOL. III. NO. 21.