Page images
PDF
EPUB

were in the ascendant, for the author of the one comedy could seriously and disparagingly leash his name with that of one of the least of his successors, and the author of the other (being then manager of the National theatre) could produce as his work the impudent and ludicrous forgery of a boy of seventeen years. But the restoration of Shakspeare was soon afterwards forthcoming, and thereupon ensued that revival of Romanticism which began, perhaps, with "Bertram" and " Remorse," and of which we have not yet seen the last. The first influence to be sensibly felt among dramatists was the broad influence of melodramatic design, which Goldsmith limited to " starts and attitudes," but which, as we see, meant more than tableau and climax. And this, which was the first influence of the Shakspearean drama on dramatic creators, is likely also to be the last, or, at least, the most permanent. It gives Mr. Charles Reade and his many followers a singular ascendancy over Mr. Browning and Mr. Tennyson. On its lowest ground, the Shakspearean influence covers the art of stage management, and perhaps the secret of all the best success in that direction is dramatic Surprise. Now Surprise may, like Accident, be a lower agent in art; Expectation may be the higher agent, just as (to recall a memorable simile) the surprise with which we start at seeing a star shoot is lower than the expectation with which we await the rising of the sun at a preconceived moment. But Surprise and Expectation may work together in a play, and the foreshadowing of the inevitable catastrophe need not exclude the employment of subsidiary incidents that startle and arrest. Nay, to return to the simile of that author from whom I have drawn so much, we may stand upon the hill-top and await the rising of the sun, and thereby experience the exaltation of feeling which is properly called Expectation; but if to the splendour of the sunrise which we looked for there is given us the glory of the northern aurora, we enjoy the added emotion of Surprise. So in Shakspeare is surprise linked to expectation, and the higher art that forewarns is united to the lower but no less alluring art that startles.

T. Hall Caixe.

INSANITY, SUICIDE, AND CIVILIZATION.

"Insanity attains its maximum development .anions civilized nations.'*—Bncknill.

"Civilization renders men more liable to mental disease."—Tuke.

"Education and suicide are increasing; all over Europe."—Cricktou Browne.

I.—The Increase Of Insanity.

rpHE increase of insanity, so long doubted by the Lunacy CommisI sioners, is now, as Dr. Tuke observes, too patent to admit of question, and, as it is accompanied both here and on the Continent by an increase of suicide, it is beginning to attract the notice of Europe. That there is a close relationship between insanity and civilization, appears from the fact that where schools and newspapers are few the number of insane is small, the ratio rising in the various countries so regularly that we might almost say the circulation of daily papers determines the proportion of lunatics. The countless blessings of civilization arc, however, no more responsible for insanity and suicide than commerce and free trade arc for cases of bankruptcy. But if such evils are, in a measure, inseparable from civilization, it is as palpably within our power to reduce and minimize their ravages as it was for Dr. Farr to diminish by one-half the death-rate of our soldiers in Indian barracks. It is hot new lunacy laws that are wanted, so much as a general understanding of the duties that those who think owe to those who work, for elevating the tone and strengthening the fibre of the working-classes, among whom insanity is making the greatest havoc.

In the United Kingdom the number of insane has almost doubled in twenty years, increasing three times faster than population, viz.:—

1860 65,130 = 2,326 per million inhabitants.

1880 112,590 = 3,217 „ „

The number registered is only 93,385, who are under the care of the Lunacy Commissioners, the unregistered amounting to 19,205, who reside with their friends. Those maintained by the public cause an annual expenditure of .£23 per head in Ireland, .£24 in Scotland, and £25 in England, making up a total of two millions sterling,to which if we add the cost of those maintained by their friends, we arrive at a grand total of three millions per annum, with the inevitable prospect that it will reach six millions by the close of the nineteenth century, unless we adopt the precautions within our power. Wc are the more interested in the matter, as the United Kingdom has a higher rate of insanity than other countries, the latest returns showing as follows:

[table]

As a rule, the New World and the British Colonies arc less afflicted than Europe, this being no less true in the proportions of deaf, dumb, blind, &c. The only item in the above table which is not reliable, is that of Spain, where the real number is probably double.

The Commissioners of Lunacy have invented numerous theories to account for the rapid rise of pauper lunatics in Great Britain, but, after all due allowance for the reasons alleged, it is painfully manifest that this disease is increasing among the working-classes, the ratio of pauper lunatics per million inhabitants, showing as follows:—

[merged small][ocr errors][table]

If we compare the number of pauper and private insane with their respective strata* in society, we shall find how much greater is the proportion among the lower than the middle or upper orders, just as the death rate of St. Giles's exceeds that of Belgravia:—

No. of Insane. Working-class . . 83,757 Middle and Upper . 28,833

Population. 24,150,000 10,790,000

Rutio per Million. 3,490 2,670

United Kingdom 112,590 ... 34,940,000 ... 3,217 The excessive ratio among the working-class shows that wc do not take sufficient measures to promote their health, and that Nemesis of insanity scourges us for our short-comings. Our neglect in this particular is also productive of moral deterioration, for Dr. Guy finds that the majority of criminals have a very low range of intellect, and that 12 per cent, of the prison population of Scotland are only a few degrees above idiotcy, and about 4 per cent, in England.

* Working-class 69 per cent., middle and upper 31 per cent., as shown by Probate returns in Contemporary Review for February, 1882, p. 326.

It is commonly supposed that women are more liable to insanity than men, simply because there are 15 per cent, more female than male lunatics, but this arises from two causes; 1st, That in most countries the number of persons over twenty years of age shows an excess of at least 10 per cent, for females: 2ndly, That insane women live much longer than men of the same class. If we compare the numbers admitted of each sex, we shall find that in Great Britain the males are 14 per cent, more; and the preponderance in other countries varies from 12 to 28 per cent, for males, although the number of female inmates be greater.

The average of ten years' statistics for England reveals the interesting fact that not only are women less prone to insanity than men, but the disease assumes with them a less malignant form, viz—

Male. Female. Gen. Average.

Ratio of Recoveries . . 35 p. cent. 43 p. cenl. 39

Annual Death-rate . . 12A „ 9 „ lOf

It is difficult to imagine why some parts of England or Scotland should have three times as much insanity as others, but such is proved by the following ratios per million inhabitants :— England. Scotland.

[table]

What may be the local causes, or how far remediable, would be a subject worthy of Parliamentary inquiry, for it seems strange that Nottingham should have double as many insane as Leeds or Sheffield, and that Birmingham should be enormously in excess of Liverpool.*

II.—Causes And Preventives Of Insanity.

It was not until sanitary improvements were introduced into our cities that men became aware of the prodigious waste of human life that had gone on so long through municipal neglect. Nor will it be readily believed how large a waste of human intellect is due to the vis inertice that obstructs so many valuable efforts to improve the condition of the masses.

* The ratios per 10,000 inhabitants in the principal towns are: Leeds lfi, Sheffield IS, Liverpool 22, Manchester 27, Birmingham 30, Nottingham 31, London 36. ,

If we take the medium average of ascertained causes of insanity in England, France, and United States, we shall find as follows:—

Hereditary or congenital .... 24 per cent.

Habits of drunkenness 14 „

Business and anxiety 12 .,

Loss of friends 11 „

Disease and want 10 „

Accidents 6 „

Various causes 23 „

100

Hereditary insanity is by no means uniform, being 19 per cent, of all cases in England, 24 in France, 25 in Germany, 27 in United States, and 49 per cent, in Scotland. The taint occurs equally in both sexes, but 'is oftener transmitted from the mother. It is frequently, as among Quakers, the result of intermarriage, to which cause Dr. Mitchell ascribes 14 per cent, of the idiotcy of the United Kingdom. We know that 2 per cent, of all marriages in England are between cousins, whereas in Spain and Italy, where such marriages are only permitted in extreme cases (by special leave from the Vatican), insanity is rare. Dr. Boyd mentions, among congenital causes in Scotland, a habit of Highland women doing field-labour in pregnancy, and shows that the Highland counties have 3,160 insane per million inhabitants, the Lowlands only 2,010, although the latter include the crowded cities, where drunkenness and death-rate are always very high.

With regard to drink, it was asserted by Lord Shaftesbury that 60 per cent, of the insanity of the United Kingdom arose from it, and all the advocates of temperance have ridden this horse to death. Nevertheless, good wine is at times most useful to check insanity, as when the wretched victims of Pellagra are sent to hospital, exhausted from poorness of diet. Indeed, wherever wine is cheap and abundant, we see little of lunacy or idiotcy. No one ever yet went mad from wiue, any more thau from eating cabbage, although the ancients had that impression.* It is when nations discard the use of wine for stronger stimulants that insanity spreads devastation among the masses. Of this we have a sad proof in the case of France, where wine was the sole drink of the people for centuries without any bad results, until the introduction of absinthe in recent years, with the following lamentable consequences:—

Gallons spirits Insane iRatio of insane

per 100 inhab. per million. cases from drink.

1841-50 .... 33 ... 925 ... 783

1851-60 .... 46 ... 1,950 ... 9-55

1861-70 .... 52 ... 2,405 ... 14-78

* Galen tells his pupils to beware of cabbage and the flesh of hares, as incentives to madness, and Cielius fays: "Insania siepe ex vinolentia."

« EelmineJätka »