Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/608

This page has been validated.

on that of Pinel. A few of Tuke's brother and sister Quakers seem to have been his only reliance; and, in a letter regarding his efforts at that time, he says, "All men seem to desert me."[1]

In this atmosphere of English conservative opposition or indifference the work could not grow rapidly. As late as 1815 a member of Parliament stigmatized the insane asylums of England as the shame of the nation; and even as late as 1827, and in a few cases as late as 1850, there were revivals of the old absurdity and brutality. Down to a late period, in the hospitals of St. Luke and Bedlam, long rows of the insane were chained to the walls of the corridor. But Gardner at Lincoln, Donnelly at Hanwell, and a new school of practitioners in mental disease, took up the work of Tuke, and the victory in England was gained in practice as it had been previously gained in theory.

There need be no controversy regarding the comparative merits of these two benefactors of our race, Pinel and Tuke. They clearly did their thinking and their work independently of each other, and thereby each strengthened the other and benefited mankind. All that remains to be said is, that while France has paid high honors to Pinel, as to one who did much to free the world from one of its most cruel superstitions and to bring in a reign of humanity over a wide empire, England has as yet made no fitting commemoration of her great benefactor in this field. York Minster holds many tombs of men, of whom some were blessings to their fellow -beings, while some were parasites upon the body politic; yet, to this hour, that great temple has received no consecration by a monument to the man who did more to alleviate human misery than any other who has ever entered it.

But the place of these two men in history is secure. They stand with Grotius, Thomasius, and Beccaria—the men who, in modern times, have done most to prevent unmerited sorrow. They were not, indeed, called to suffer like their great compeers; they were not obliged to see their writings—among the most blessed gifts of God to man—condemned, as were those of Grotius and Beccaria by the Catholic Church, and those of Thomasius by a large section of the Protestant Church; they were not obliged to flee for their lives, as were Grotius and Thomasius; but their effort is none the less worthy. The French Revolution, indeed, saved Pinel, and the decay of English ecclesiasticism gave Tuke his opportunity. But their triumphs are none the less among the glories of our race; for they were the first acknowledged victors in a struggle of science for humanity which had lasted nearly two thousand years.

  1. See D. H, Tuke, as above, pp. 116-142, and 512; also the "Edinburgh Review" for April, 1803.