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Cutbush - Letters, Lusk and Syndicates

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  • #16
    Thanks RJ. All I can get is the merest snippet view.

    The staff were certainly jittery. Mad though they were, the lunatics knew that if they did kill a member of staff, there was nothing further that the law could do to them.

    Robert

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    • #17
      “BROADMOOR ASYLUM AND ITS INMATES” BY A LEGAL VISITOR. " (from the Green Bag: An Entertaining Magazine for Lawyers, 1893)

      “The prisoner was acquitted on the ground of insanity, and directed to be detained during her Majesty's pleasure." How often does the newspaper report of a criminal trial end with these commonplace and colorless words, and how many readers understand their significance, or attach to them any definite idea whatever? In this paper I propose to give an account, based on personal observation, of the great English asylum for the reception of criminal lunatics and lunatic criminals, and thus, if possible, to bridge over a gap in popular knowledge.

      Down to the year 1860 persons accused of having committed a criminal offence, but found insane upon arraignment or by the verdict of the jury that tried them, and convicts who became lunatic while undergoing their terms of imprisonment, were in this country simply distributed under a magisterial or judicial order among the various county and other asylums, where they were maintained at a cost of from £26 to £34 a year. This system had, however, a number of obvious disadvantages, of which the chief were the evil influence exerted by criminal lunatics upon ordinary patients, who in spite of their madness have a large and comprehensive faculty of imitation, and the impossibility of subjecting the criminal inmates of such asylums to adequate supervision and control ; and accordingly in 1860, principally through the agency of the Earl of Shaftesbury, an act of Parliament was passed authorizing the establishment of a State Criminal Lunatic Asylum for England. Three years later the project contemplated by this statute was carried into effect, and Broadmoor Asylum was formally opened. All that I desire to say about the local habitation, the exterior, the interior, the administration, and the inmates of this important and interesting institution may be stated most compendiously in the form of a description of a visit which I paid to it a few days ago, in company with my friend Grice, an official of high standing in the civil service of India, who is now at home on furlough, and who seeks to divert his thoughts from the unspeakable rupee by plunging into a course of scientific dissipation. We started from Waterloo at 9.38 A. M., and reached Brackwell in Berkshire a little after eleven. Brackwell is thirty miles from London, and — a fact of some moment to the traveller already suffering from the tedium of the railway journey— four miles from Broadmoor. A considerate cabman offered to drive us to the asylum and back for ten shillings ; but

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      • #18
        here's page two of the article:
        Attached Files

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        • #19
          continuing on to page 3...

          under Dr. William Orange, and succeeded that gentleman in 1886, received us with the utmost kindness, and initiated us into all the mysteries of the asylum life and administration. We of course selected the most sensational topics for the subject matter of our inquiry. Escapes from the asylum are of rare occurrence, — the height of the surrounding wall and the absolute smoothness of its cope-stone render this intelligible. Between the opening of the asylum in 1863 and the end of 1877, only twenty-three inmates escaped. Between 1877 and 1880 there were no escapes, and between 1880 and the present year very few. The majority were recaptured on the next or following day, one not till three months after his escape, and four were never discovered. Although a large proportion of the past and present inmates of Broadmoor has been and is composed of convicted murderers and murderesses, no case of actual homicide has occurred within the asylum since 1863 ; and yet no forms of mechanical restraint, such as fetters, strait- waistcoats, leg-locks, straps, or padded rooms, are resorted to, or indeed are to be found within the walls of the asylum ; the superintendents and officials have no firearms or weapons of any kind for their own protection, and the only safeguard that exists against the violence of 'this strange colony of mad criminals is an unusually large staff of powerful and imperturbable attendants. In the main this régime has worked well ; and it is clearly for the good of the patients that the
          treatment should as far as possible proceed on the assumption that they are still amenable to ordinary human motives, and be directed
          to the reconstruction, rather than to the dispersion, of the scattered fragments of their reason. But the defencelessness of the officials at Broadmoor has on several occasions been taken advantage of. One Sunday about twenty-five years ago, during the Communion, and when the chaplain was in the middle of the collect for the Queen, a patient with a sudden yell rushed at Dr. Meyer, then the superintendent, who was
          kneeling, surrounded by his family, close to the altar, and a deadly blow was struck at his head with a large stone slung in a handkerchief. The stone inflicted a serious injury, and the blow would have been fatal if it had not been somewhat turned aside by the promptness with which the arm of the patient was seized by an attendant. The chaplain was never afterwards able to say the particular collect which was interrupted in so awful a manner. A similar attack was made on Dr. Orange, who preceded Dr. Nicholson as superintendent of Broadmoor ; and unless my memory deceives me, Dr. Nicholson himself was a few years ago temporarily laid aside from duty by a blow from the hand of a patient. Inspite of these gloomy memories, however, the lives of the inmates of Broadmoor are, on the whole, both smooth and attractive. Concerts, Punch and Judy shows, and private dramatic representations are held in the theatre, the walls of which are decorated with fantastic paintings, the handiwork of a gifted artist once a patient in the asylum. Chess, draughts, billiards, bagatelle, and whist are the usual indoor games ; while bowls, cricket, and croquet are played out of doors. Although work is not compulsory,—for Broadmoor is not, of course, a prison, — a large number of the inmates are engaged in useful employment. Some clean the wards ; others repair clothes and linen, furniture, mats and carpets ; others are engaged in the laundry and on the farm ; an eighth of the patient's earnings is put to his credit, and he is allowed to spend it as he thinks best. Grice and I saw orders drawn on their accounts by patients, for the purchase of apple-trees for their gardens and other articles ; and payments in such cases are made by transfer orders similar to checks on a banker. The asylum is a model of cleanliness, good discipline, and comfort, and reflects the highest credit on Dr. Nicholson and his assistants. The patients are recruited chiefly from the lower, but to some extent also from the midde and upper classes. We conversed with a great number of patients, heard their griev-

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          • #20
            and the final page.
            Attached Files

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            • #21
              RJ, many thanks for that article. I wonder how many patients managed to get to the convalescent stage. It's clear that there was a chance of release, for those deemed to have recovered.

              Robert

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              • #22
                This is from the Penny Illustrated Paper, July 2nd 1870. Images squeezed a bit because of posting regulations.



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                • #23
                  I had vaguely imagined that Thomas in his canvassing days simply went into shops etc and asked them if they'd like to be listed in a directory, perhaps leaving a card. But this item from Jan 21st 1891 shows that some such canvassers collected the money in person.
                  Attached Files

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                  • #24
                    Thanks RJ and Robert for these instructive descriptions of life In Broadmoor.
                    I was quite moved reading about the progressive treatment given to the mentally ill who had committed criminal acts as a result of their illnesses.I did know that it was in the mid Victorian period that huge progress was made and that Colney Hatch and St Bernards were two psychiatric hospitals that did an enormous amount
                    of brilliant work with those who,though severely mentally ill had not committed criminal acts,but were unable to get by without strong external support.Apparently small self sufficient villages were created in these institutions with farms ,theatre,laundries and dressmaking facilities etc.
                    Hopefully poor Aaron Kosminski was helped to lead a not too dreadful life in Colney Hatch and later Leavesdon[run on similar lines].
                    Its good to know Thomas Cutbush was probably given these opportunities in Broadmoor-because left to the reactionary attitudes of the like of those Sun Journalists,he wouldnt have survived at all.

                    I think you may be right though RJ,Thomas might have been pumped full of medication to calm his moods and make for manageability.On the other hand schizophrenia was-and without medication still is-a totally debilitating and devastating illness once it has begun to get a grip on the sufferer.People have often been left as no more than ghostly shells of their former selves as a result of the ferocity of their psychosis....so Thomas could simply have been "burnt out"when he was behaving so strangely.
                    Thanks again for this window on some of the best develpoments that came out of that period.....in some ways they were more caring of each other than we are today!

                    Best
                    Natalie

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                    • #25
                      Yes, interesting stuff, Robert & RJ, my thanks for posting this up.
                      I seem to remember the article I posted some years ago was from a doctor's account of his days at Broadmoor - from a period when TC was confined there - and concerned the alarming activities of a young gentleman who had a fondness for leaving the building via the windows rather than the doors... and I think he brained someone in the billiard room with a cue.

                      RJ, you make a fine and good point regarding the soporific state that TC would have been in at that stage of his illness and life, but hey he was pretty drugged up between 1888 and 1891 as well, by all accounts, and modern experience teaches us that a five stone smack head could slit your throat in a second when he needs a fix.

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                      • #26
                        Hi AP and Nats

                        I vaguely remember something about a very agile patient, maybe working in the garden, and almost going over the wall?

                        Yes, it's nice that things wrre getting better for the lunatics, though Shaw said that a lunatic was exhibited to him as an entertainment. And the fire at Colney Hatch was unforgivable.

                        Robert

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                        • #27
                          Do we know he was a smack head AP? The constant and concentrated act of letter writing
                          together with his strongly held belief that several doctors were trying to poison him suggest his condition was a little different from that of a "smackhead".
                          I mean he wasnt writing these lengthy,wordy ,time consuming missives to doctors in the hope of getting "a fix" which would have made infinitely more sense had he simply been a smackhead.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Robert Linford View Post
                            Hi AP and Nats

                            I vaguely remember something about a very agile patient, maybe working in the garden, and almost going over the wall?

                            Yes, it's nice that things wrre getting better for the lunatics, though Shaw said that a lunatic was exhibited to him as an entertainment. And the fire at Colney Hatch was unforgivable.

                            Robert
                            I am quite sure there were still lots of places that were horrific.Not these though from what we can work out and fires will always be a hazard Robert ,where numbers of people are grouped together with mental health problems.

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                            • #29
                              Ay, Nats, but the nature of the building materials plus a complete absence of any kind of fire drill or foresight points to the same sort of tossers who let the Titanic set sail without enough lifeboats.

                              Robert

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                              • #30
                                Have just read it up Robert and yes it sounds as though it was horrific that fire and avoidable---most of the wards were constructed in timber and temporary.So Shaw was right to condemn it.
                                But I once went to several lectures given by one of the consultants at Hanwell Hospital, about the pioneering doctor behind the radical rethinking of treatment of the mentally ill, in the middle of the 19th century.Conolly was the doctors name and it was very impressive the work he initiated and carried through at St Bernards, Hanwell and Colney Hatch.
                                Best
                                Natalie.

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