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Canada Medical Journal.
MONTREAL, JANUARY, 1866.
We may reasonably suppose that our Government have determined on not affording asylum accommodation in or near the city of Montreal. And now that a late member of the Government has been suddenly converted into an Asylum proprietor, by the purchase of Dr. Douglas' share of the Beauport Asylum by Mr. ex-Commissioner of Crown Lands Cauchon, we may presume that a person possessing at least the sympa. thies of his former colleagues will be able to bring such pressure on the members of the Executive as will crush out all the feeble attempts to do justice to this section of the Lower Province in respect to this question.
We hope that Mr. ex-Commissioner of Crown Lands Cauchon will, as plain Mr. Cauchon of the Beauport Asylum, post himself up on the question of cubic space, and not be led into the error, as was the case with his predecessor, Dr. Douglas, of asserting, before an assembled concourse of savans, that his patients have each 300 cubic feet of breathing space. But perhaps our present proprietor will ignore all such low and ill remunerative questions which involve the health and lives of the unfortunates, but which are of very little importance after all, because he has embarked a certain amount of capital in the concern, simply regarding the return likely to accrue, and not caring whether the inmates have 10 cubic feet space or 10,000. These minor points he is not expected to debate. There is an imperative duty imposed on us, as public journalists, to repeat the oft-told tale of over-crowding, which, in spite of the increased accommodation in the Beauport Lunatic Asylum, still appears to exist. In the last report of the Prison Inspectors, Mr. Ferres, one of the inspectors, says, in regard to the Beauport Asylum: "I was somewhat taken by surprise to observe that it was accompanied, even while works were advancing, with a continued addition to the numbers, so that when it was fully completed, (the italics are ours), the same and indeed worse over-crowding still remained."
With regard to cubic space, Mr. Ferres states that he and Mr. Meredith took the measurements of all the rooms then occupied as dormitories, and found that many of these did not afford more than 350 cubic feet of air to each patient, and none of them over 500 cubic feet. These are incontrovertible facts, and not to be got over by mere newspaper assertion to the contrary.
There are many other facts of which we are cognizant, with regard to this Asylum, such as the fact that the system of ventilation in the building is most defective, the dormitories open into corridors, receiving light and air from them. The air breathed by the inmates in the upper stories having already been breathed by those occupying the rooms underneath; there is no direct means of ventilating each room independently, and the light is borrowed light, supplied from the corridors or passage ways. This is certainly a sad picture of the only Lunatic Asylum in the Lower Province of Canada. As we said before, we presume that Mr. Couchon, having the sympathies of his former colleagues, there will be no lack of funds; and we have no doubt that if the $2.75 per weck is not sufficiently remunerative, an increase can easily be obtained. In fact, we, in Lower Canada, have no Insane Hospital; the establishment in Quebec is nothing more than a large boarding house, as has been pointed out by Mr. Inspector of Prisons, T. J. O'Neil, in the last report before referred to—“ Beauport Asylum may, therefore, be regarded rather in the light of an extensive boarding house than a public institution."
Of this system of private institutions, under government inspection, we have somewhat to say, but as it is rather foreign to the subject under discussion, we can only condemn the principle as unjust to the community, and not likely to be of benefit to the inmates. Of the necessity for an Asylum, devoted to the treatment of the Insane in Lower Canada, there is no question, no such institution being in existence. In proof of this great want, we can give a case which came under our observation in the village of St. Scholastique, about thirty-six miles from Montreal. On a recent occasion, we visited the temporary jail in that place ; the building was originally a farm-house, built of wood; there we found confined in a cell, not as large as a horse's stall, an unfortunate being who was so violent that he had to be locked up. The cell was dark, ill ventilated, noisome with the exhalations and excretions of its unfortunate occupant, who was wallowing in his filth, to remain there if in mercy death does not put an end to his misery—until room can be made for him, either at the Beauport Lunatic Asylum, or at the miserable make-shift at St. Johns." This case is one of acute mania, the result of injury, a portion of a building having fallen on his head. It is
really to be regretted that his brains had not been knocked out with his wits—as death, in our opinion, would be far preferable to the miserable existence to which he is condemned, and which is likely to become a permanent and settled mania, as in his present condition, he is deprived of all chance of recovery, from the very nature of his surroundings, as well as the absence of all attempts at treatment. Mania, to be treated at all with a chance of benefit, must be treated early in the attack. We ask, is this a single instance? We fear not; indeed we know that cases of acute mania have been retained in the cells of our city prison, until the period has passed when the chance of benefit could have followed judicious treatment. So long as there are no means at hand for the proper care and treatment of this class of discase, so long may we anticipate a repetition of such cases; and, as a result, the necessity of support, by the people of Canada, of a class of incurables who, had proper means been at hand, might have recovered from their malady, and returned to the industrial population.
These are questions of serious moment, to be taken up and gone into with a heart and will by the philanthropist and political economist. There is no need shirking the question; it will have to be considered before long; but delay is dangerous, nay, it is worse—criminal. Communities as well as individuals are answerable for their acts; and no single act of injustice passes un recorded and unpunished, while there is a God above us who gives us the means and teaches us how to employ them.
PROFESSIONAL REMUNERATION. After we had written the article under the above head, which appeared in the December issue of the Journal, but before the number had reached our subscribers, the question of regulating and equalizing the fees of physicians and surgeons practising in Montreal, was brought forward at a regular meeting of the Medico-Chirurgical Society, and a brief discussion thereon took place. It seemed to be the general opinion of the members present, that, considering the high price of every necessary of life, some slight increase in the amount of professional fees should be made; but, above all, that there should be a good understanding among the profession, as to what should be charged for professional services, and the agreement adhered to. We have so freely expressed our views upon this subject that we will not again enter at length upon it; yet we cannot but feel that this matter is one of the very highest importance to the profession, and one concerning which action should have been taken the many difficulties which surround it, yet we cannot see but that it may be approached, and, with care, all these difficulties surmounted. The question will again, we believe, be brought forward at the next (January) meeting, when we hope the elder members of the profession will be present, and give utterance to their views.
years ago. We are aware of the delicacy of the subject, and of
At the same meeting of the Medico-Chirurgical Society the adopting of a code of niedical ethics was suggested. We heartily approve of the
' suggestion, and hope to be able to write upon this subject in our next
THE LATE S. C. SEWELL, M.D., L.R.C.S., Edis. It is with deep regret, and sympathy for his afflicted widow, that we announce the death of Stephen Charles Sewell, M.D., &c., which lamentable event took place at his residence, in Ottawa City, C.W. Dr. Sewell was a son of the late Solicitor General for the Lower Province, and nephew of the late Chief Justice Sewell, of Quebec. He studied in Edinburgh, and during his pupilage was elected President of the Royal Medical Society of that city. He commenced practice in Montreal about the year 1836 or 1837. In 1842 he was elected Lecturer on Materia Medica McGill University, and Attending Physician Montreal General Hospital, which posts he held up to the year 1848, when he resigned, and left our city. In 1850, on his return to Montreal, he
. again became attached to the faculty of Medicine McGill College, and to the Staff of the Hospital, and lectured on Clinical Medicine up to the year 1852, when he removed to Ottawa.
Dr. Sewell has contributed several papers of value to medical periodicals, and in the pages of our Journal he published, from time to time, the results of his observations. In manner he was kind and affable; as a lecturer he was clear and painstaking. His views on medicine were sound; and though perhaps not brilliant as a teacher, yet he possessed that gentlemanly deportment which endeared him to his pupils. As a practitioner, he possessed a pleasing manner which inspired confdence. His death, though not sudden, was unexpected. Although his health had been failing for several years past, yet no serious apprehensions were entertained of a fatal result, until about a week before the event.
MEDICO-CHIRURGICAL SOCIETY OF MONTREAL.
The first annual meeting of this Society was held on the 15th of January, when the following gentlemen were elected office-bearers for the ensuing year: President, William H. Hingston, M.D., L.R.C.S.E.;
Vice-Presidents, R. Palmer Howard, M.D., L.R.C.S.E., J. L. Leprohon, M.D.; Treasurer, Hector Peltier, M.D., Ed.; Secretaries, E. Lemire, M.D., W. Wood Squire, A.M., M.D.; Council, Drs. Fenwick, Robert Craik, F. W. Campbell, Dagenais, Ricard.
The number of medical students attending the London schools this year is 1022, being an increase of 41 over last year. At the Provincial schools there are over 241 students, being an increase of 2. Dr. James A. Easton, Professor of Materia Medica in the Glasgow University, died recently of apoplexy. He was an able practitioner, and thoroughly oon versant with Materia Medica. John Moses Galignani, of Paris, has lately built and endowed at Paris an hospital for the English poor of of that city. It contains twenty-five beds, and is placed under the directioa of an English Sister of Charity. Two English surgeons have undertaken to give gratuitous attendance. — According to Professor Simpson, Messrs. Duncan, Flockhart & Co., the well known manufacturers of Chloroform in Edinburgh, prepare daily 7000 doses, counting two drachms as a full dose--thus making 2,500,000 doses a year. - A surgeon's assistant lately poisoned a young lady at Salisbury, England. He subsequently committed suicide by drowning himself in a warm bath. - Dr. Littlejohn, of Edinburgh, warns the public against the use of “ Pharaoh's Serpents," as they are called.
These toys are compound of sulphocyanide of mercury. The inhalation of some of their products of combustion is highly dangerous; viz., cyanogen, sulphurous and sulphuric acids, bisulphide of carbon, and mercury in vapour. The mass left after combustion is organic matter called “ mellor."- Dr. Hammond, late Surgeon General of the Federal Army, has gone to Europe, in charge of a grandson of the late John Jacob Astor, of New York. He receives for his services $10,000 in gold for six months, with all his expenses paid, and should he be detained longer than the time specified, is to receive $3000 per month for the remainder of the term employed.—Her Majesty has been pleased to confer the title of a Baronet of the United Kingdom on William Fergusson, Esq., F.R.S., Professor of Surgery to King's College, London.
The following are the only medical officers, in a list of those now living, who were present at the battle of Trafalgar :-Deputy Inspector General Peter Sutler, then surgeon of the Swiftshure; and surgeon P. Lyon, then assistant-surgeon of the Royal Sovereign.