Page images

L'ignorance, en courant, fait sa ronde bomicide, L'indifférence observe, et le basarde décide.” Mr. Walsh, speaking of the lectures gratis at the Collège de France, observes that they are attended “ by persons who, from their exterior, seem to require eleemosynary contribution of another kind from that which the professors bestowed." The carrabins of the French lecture-rooms are extremely poor- but they are industrious and well-behaved. The English medical pupils must be in good circumstances, otherwise they cannot pay the exorbitant prices exacted for fees, &c. But they are too rich to be very studious; they buy very pretty libraries which they never consult, and very sharp scalpels which they leave to rust in their cases.

The college of physicians gives licenses to practise. The edifice is very fine; the entrance is thruugh an elegant vestibulum surmounted by a cupola, and terminated by a glittering sphere, or, as it has been jocosely termed, a gilded pill! The Royal College of Surgeons, in Lincoln's Inn Fields, contains John Hunter's museum, and a variety of lecture-rooms. All murderers who have forfeited their lives on the gallows, are cut up in Surgeons' Hall. Once a year, the Hunterian oration is delivered in this institution. I will not attempt a description of Hunter's museum, but will content myself with adopting the language of Sir Everard Home, in his interesting life of that great man: “ In this collection, we find an at

tempt to expose to view the gradations of nature, from the most simple state in which life is found to exist, up to the most perfect and most complex of the animal creation-Man himself.”

Bethlem Hospital is an asylum for lunatics. It was formerly situated in Moor-fields, and the design of the building was taken from the Tuilleries at Paris. Louis XIV. was so enraged at this plaisanterie, that he ordered a plan of St. James's Palace to be taken for a temple of Cloacina, (indeed it is fit for nothing else!) The bedlam in Moorfields was still used for lunatics, after it was in a ruinous condition -it was so tottering and holy, that a wag made the following couplet on its state and destination:

" The place to the purpose should suited be;

Wby so is this—for it is crack'd you see!" The present Bethlem Hospital is in Lambeth, near west square. The building is large and of noble architecture; it contains about two hundred patients. Accompanied by one of the physicians, to whom I had a letter, I visited this gloomy habitation, and noted down several important cases, which you will find in my medical journal. In proceeding through the wards I was alternately horrified with “ Madness laughing in his ireful mood,” Idiotism in blank stupidity, and rooted Sorrow" talking idly into shapes of air.” But none of these soul-harrowing objects left such an impression

on my mind, as an unhappy youth whom a disappointment in love had driven to distraction. The girl to whom he had paid his addresses, really loved him, but had been forced by her inexorable parents to marry a rich clown; as soon as her husband died, she came to see her former lover, whom she daily visited at the hospital. I saw them together, and was struck with the singular expression of his countenance when she spoke to him:

“Charm'd by her voice, th' harmonious sounds invade His clouded mind, and for a time persuade: Like a pleas'd infant who has newly caught From the maternal glance a gleam of thought; He stands enrapt the half known voice to hear, And starts half conscious at the falling tcar.“ A part of this asylum suffered from a fire several years ago. The distracted inmates of the building were observed standing at the windows looking at the destructive progress of the flames; they grinned that “ horrible ghastly smile,” which arose either from a total ignorance of the calamities of mankind, or from misery so deep-rooted that the most terrible exhibitions of torment or death could no longer frighten them. After visiting this hospital in all its details, I spent the evening with a fashionable

party, where I continued my observations on insanity; although the cases were so common, that I did not note them in my medical journal!

I next day went through the wards of the Lock Hospital, the object of which can be un

derstood from the hint which Moliere gives about Pourceaugnac " qui fut mis chez le médecin pour etre panse”—I should have the pencil of the terrible Michael Angelo, who tormented his living models to catch the expresrsion of their passions,* in order to trace the horrid effects of depravity, displayed in this hospital.

Here the inexorable Alecto seems to have refined her cruelty; for she could not have chosen a more hideous and more barba. tous method of indulging her malevolence. No sermon could have a inore edifying effect on a young man, than a view of the patients in these wards. The author of Emile, tells us that one of his friends had in vain tried every method to cure his son of his dissipated habits, At length, he resolved to take him to a hospi. tal of veroles. Without giving him previous notice, he introduced him into a room where a number of wretches were expiating their vices by a horrible mercurial treatment. At this hideous sight, the youth nearly fainted away in the arms of his attendants. vile inclinations, (cried the old gentleman to him, as he recovered from his stupor;) you will soon think yourself happy to be admitted into this dreadful place, where, a victim to the most infamous disorders, you will force your

* Angelo, wishing to represent our Saviour in the agonies of ileath, actually crucified a poor wretch, and took a sketch of him, whilst writing with the tortures of this cruel execution! It is said that the celebrated painter David, finished some of bis best exhibitions of suffering, with his models before him excited into the most horrible expressions of agony!!

6. Follow your

wretched father to thank heaven for your death." I will merely add that the young man reformed, and became an ornament to his family.

I have not met with any maisons de santé or private infirmaries in London. They are very common in the environs of Paris, and are, in. fact, nothing more or less than fashionable hos.. pitals, kept by old disciples of Esculapius, whc despair of success in the common routine oli practice. There are some of these establish , ments quite on a magnificent scale, resemblin; chateaux, pavilions, &c. Before I left Paris, I accompanied my friend Dr. Gondret to visit one of them in the Fbg. St. Honoré, kept by a physician à la mode. We walked through an elegant garden, into a saloon adorned with oriental splendour; we were then introduced into the music room, and were presented to several beautiful Parisian ladies. Soon afterwards the old fat Doctor Lebeau stalked in with a meri. no shawl over his shoulders, which two or three girls pretended to relieve him of, but purposely bound him faster, till the poor man could scarcely breathe! Gondret now whispered in my ear, that all the ladies in the room were patients, who amused themselves every evening according to the doctor's prescription! When I observed the healthy bloom on their: cheeks, and their vivacity and good humour, I could not withstand the temptation of ad dressing Lebeau in the following line from the " Menteur" of Corneille:

" Les gens que vous tuez se portent assez bien!"

« PreviousContinue »