Popular Science Monthly/Volume 47/September 1895/Dr. Daniel Hack Tuke


DR. DANIEL HACK TUKE, the distinguished English alienist and editor of the Journal of Mental Science, who died early in March, 1895, was a grandson of William Tuke, the founder of the York Retreat, and one of the earliest English workers in the humane treatment of the insane, and was born in York, April 19, 1827. He was a delicate child, of high spirit, and with a turn for investigating; pertinently to which the story is told of him that he once carried the family cat to the woods and left it there, expecting to find it again some day a wild cat. His father being a member of the Society of Friends, he was sent to their school, and afterward to Bradford to study law. Three months' experience in this occupation showed that he had no taste for the law, and he was allowed to gratify his own inclination and study medicine. He held the post of steward at the York Retreat; entered St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, in 1849; became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1852; was graduated M. D. at Heidelberg in 1853; visited the asylums of Holland, Germany, and France; and in 1857 published his first book, an account of these visits. He was next appointed visiting physician to the York Retreat and the York Dispensary; became Lecturer on Psychology at the York School of Medicine; was prevented by an attack of hæmorrhage from converting the old family house in York into a private asylum for ladies; recovered in a year, and settled in Falmouth for fifteen years. Here he took active interest in the library, schools, workingmen's clubs, etc., and did much literary work. He settled for practice in London in 1879, and eventually became a governor of Bethlem Hospital. He had great power of continued intellectual work, and a corresponding indifference to mere physical comforts; and possessed an extraordinary memory for details. His work in the study of lunacy and advocacy of the humane treatment for the insane was known all over the world. He visited most of the asylums in Europe and America, never, says the Lancet, "losing a chance of picking up the threads which connected the present with the past. He knew the city of the simple (Gheel) in Belgium and the secluded valley in Ireland where priest healing had held sway. He was one of the originators of the After-care Association for patients who, having left asylums, were not fit for full work. His holidays were combinations of the study of asylums with (insufficient) complete relaxation." He gave much thought and attention to the study of moral insanity. His earliest established literary work was prepared in collaboration with Dr. Charles Bucknill, and is known as "Bucknill and Tuke on Insanity." He set great value on his book on the Influence of Mind on the Body, which has now been "left behind." He was for eighteen years editor of the Journal of Medical Science; prepared an Index Medicus; and undertook and carried out the Dictionary of Psychological Medicine.

A body of the English engaged in the Chitral Expedition suffered severely at the river Panjkora, in consequence of the enemy's launching heavy logs of wood down stream, which destroyed the bridge the men were constructing. One of the enemy who was captured in the subsequent fight described in vivid language how their attempt at a night surprise was frustrated by the magnesium light of a star-shell fired from the English camp. "There were two thousand hillmen who set forth that night to crawl up to the soldiers' camp. We lay for hours in the wet fields, with the rain falling steadily, waiting for our chiefs to give the signal for the great rush. Word came round from chief to chief to be ready, and every man crouched, grasping his weapon, to run forward. But at that very moment a devil's gun boomed forth, and lo! instead of bullets and balls coming out, there burst over us a mighty light, so great that we thought the night had suddenly become day. And we cried aloud to Allah to abate his wrath against us, and when the great light faded we all hurried away, and even our mullahs had no word to say."