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the earliest period of lunacy legislation, has been necessary in order to present a continuous narrative of the successive steps by which so great a success has been achieved.

No one knows so well as the historian of an important and extended movement like this, the deficiencies by which its recital is marred, but I trust that I have at least succeeded in supplying a want which some have long felt, in placing before the British reader the main outlines of a history with which every friend of humanity ought to be acquainted. Its interest, I need hardly urge, extends far beyond the pale of the medical profession, and no one who has reason to desire for friend or relative the kindly care or the skilful treatment required for a disordered mind, can do otherwise than wish gratefully to recognize those who, during well-nigh a century, have laboured to make this care and this treatment what they are at the present day.

In conclusion, it remains for me to express my obligations to those who have in various ways rendered me assistance in the prosecution of this work. In addition to acknowledgments made in the following pages, I have pleasure in thanking Dr. McDowall, of Morpeth, for the use of manuscript notes of works bearing on the first chapter ; as also Mr. S. Langley. I have to thank Mr. Coote, of the Map Department at the British

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Museum, and Mr. F. Ross, for help in preparing the chapter on Bethlem Hospital ; also Dr. W. A. F. Browne of Dumfries, and Dr. Clouston of the Edinburgh Royal Asylum, for valuable information utilized in the chapter on the history of the insane in Scotland. Lastly, in the preparation of this, as of other works, I am greatly indebted to the ever-willingly rendered assistance of Mr. R. Garnett, of the British Museum Reading Room.


June 12, 1882.




AMONG our Saxon ancestors the treatment of the insane was a curious compound of pharmacy, superstition, and castigation. Demoniacal possession was fully believed to be the frequent cause of insanity, and, as is well known, exorcism was practised by the Church as a recognized ordinance. We meet with some interesting particulars in regard to treatment, in what may be called its medicoecclesiastical aspect, in a work of the early part of the tenth century, by an unknown author, entitled “Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England," or, as we should say, “Medicine, Herb Treatment, and Astrology.” It forms a collection of documents never before published, illustrating the history of science in this country before the Norman Conquest. It clearly appears that the Saxon leeches derived much of their knowledge directly from the Romans, and through them from the Greeks, but they also possessed a good deal of

* Collected and edited by the Rev. Oswald Cockayne, M.A., 1865. Published under the direction of the Master of the Rolls.


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