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Title: Reminiscences of a Workhouse Medical Officer
Author: Rogers, Joseph
Language: English
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The author of the brief narrative which I have edited, and have seen
through the Press, passed away before the printing of his work was
completed. What he wrote was composed under the presence of a mortal
disease, the issue of which he clearly foresaw. But he was unwilling to
quit life without leaving behind him some record of the evils with which
he grappled, of the obstacles which he had to encounter, and of the
changes which he strove to effect. He might indeed, and with the
acquiescence of the profession which he honoured, have claimed the
credit of those great reforms in the treatment of the sick poor, and in
the status of his professional brethren, to which the labours of his
life were directed; but he has preferred to give a narrative of his
experiences, and to leave his reputation to the members of the great and
beneficent calling which he followed, and to those among the public who
were cognizant of his zeal and perseverance.

My late brother was the descendant of three generations of medical
practitioners, who, from the first quarter of the eighteenth century,
plied the art of tending and healing the sick down to the last quarter
of the nineteenth, for his elder brother relinquished his practice only
about ten or a dozen years ago. And this was in the same locality. But
soon after my brother Joseph was qualified he went to London; and very
speedily after he came to London he began the labour of his life--the
reform, namely, of the medical relief accorded to the indigent poor. To
this he surrendered the prospects of professional success and
fortune--prospects which his professional abilities might have made
certainties; for this he sacrificed popularity, health, and all that a
vigorous constitution might have assured to him. He literally wore
himself out by his labours.

It is infinitely more difficult for a medical practitioner to urge
necessary but unpopular reforms than it is for any other professional
person to do so. The physician believes that he can succeed only by
raising no prejudice against himself. He is always tempted to be
neutral, when partizanship may seem likely to imperil his interests.
There are no safe prizes to be won in the one profession which every
one allows to be beneficent, whatever may be thought of other
professions. By a code of honour which is rigidly adhered to, the
process of a physician's treatment cannot be kept to himself. By an
equally rigid rule, the confidences reposed in him are as sacred as the
secrets of the confessional. It is no easy matter to win position and
fortune in a calling which is regulated by the strictest rules of
professional honour. It seems easy to imperil the most carefully
acquired reputation by running counter to obstinacy and prejudice. A
medical man has every motive to avoid hostile criticism. If he
determines on doing that which is unpopular, the risks which he runs are
far greater than those of any other person. Now all this was encountered
by my brother's action, and he never was allowed to forget that he had
to encounter it. He had to reckon with sordid London vestrymen, perhaps
the worst class of men with whom honest people have to deal, and with
the officials of the Poor Law Board, who were determined, as far as
possible, with rare exceptions, to shirk all responsibility. In the
pages of this volume he shows plainly what were the obstacles to his
endeavours. As might be expected from an honest man, who never counted
the odds against him when he was convinced that he was in the right,
his original manuscript commented, with no little indignation, on the
persons who thwarted his efforts, and would have baffled his ends. But
it is entirely superfluous to stigmatize such people; and I have excised
these just but unnecessary judgments. It is sufficient that the
reappearance of such persons has been made improbable, if not

The new Poor Law of 1834 was probably a necessary measure; but it was
suddenly and frightfully harsh. The Whigs carried it, in deference to a
particular school of economists, now happily, I trust, extinct. It was
exceedingly and reasonably unpopular. The working classes had been
impoverished in the country by the enclosure of the common lands, and in
both town and country by restraints on the right of combination with the
object of raising wages. But they had always been assured that the
maintenance of the poor was a first charge on the land, and that it must
be satisfied, and should be, before the profit of the enclosure should
accrue to the landlord. When the plunder was completed the other side of
the bargain was repudiated, and the easy-going system of the old method
of parochial relief was abandoned for the new and severe provisions of
the new departure. I am old enough to remember the indignation which
the change aroused. I am sure that indignation and resentment against
the new Poor Law had a good deal to do with the political reverses of
1841, and the entire destruction of the popularity which the Whigs had
achieved by the Reform Act of 1832.

It is true that the Act established a central authority which should
control the action of the new Boards of Guardians. But these persons
were by no means willing to check the machinery which they had erected.
If the legislation of 1834 was distasteful to the country, they were
resolved to limit their responsibility to the change which they had
themselves made in the law, and to avoid further odium. The case of the
permanent officials, who are really the departments of state, was much
simpler. They wished to earn their salaries with as little trouble as
possible, just as they wish now, and always will wish. To importunately
call attention to the cruelties practised under the new system was to
diminish their ease, to give them trouble, and such action must be
resented and discouraged. In my personal experience of the permanent
staff of the Poor Law Board I have met with officials who were
persistently resolved not to give themselves, if they could help it, the
trouble to rectify evils which were brought before their notice by the
Board of Guardians to which I belonged, if they could in any way find a
dilatory plea.

Of course a reformer is always odious to a large number of persons.
There are people who profit by the abuse or malpractice which he tries
to remove, and such persons are naturally indignant at his
meddlesomeness. There are others who acquiesce in the existing state of
things from sheer indolence, and are impatient only at being disturbed.
There are others who hold that all reforms cost money, and are alarmed
at the expense which they may incur; while the fact is that all reforms
which are wise and true save money in the end and diminish cost. To
build a proper hospital for the sick poor, to supply it with properly
qualified nurses, and sufficiently paid medical officers, one must incur
initial expense, which is in the end constantly overpaid by eventual
economies. My late brother constantly predicted that the changes which
he counselled would relieve the rates in the end, and his prediction was
constantly verified. The reader will find these facts illustrated in the
pages which follow. A genuine reform is a sensible saving. But even if
this result did not follow, the system which he found and attacked was a
scandal to humanity and a dishonour to civilization. The London
vestrymen did not see this; but Londoners have found out at last that
the average vestryman is unteachable and incurable.

The courage which will attack abuses such as were found in those
workhouses near forty years ago is rare indeed. The person who
undertakes the unpopular task has to come to close quarters with such
Guardians of the Poor as are described below, and such government
officials as are resolved to wink at abuses. Not but that, even in the
worst days, the Poor Law Board and the Local Government Board were of
great public service. They could be squeezed in Parliament. A judicious
and temperate question has often discomfited the most corrupt official,
and stirred the most lethargic. I am pretty sure that nearly all the
reforms which have been achieved in the administration of the law for
the relief of the poor, have been derived from persistent questioning in
the House of Commons. Much indeed remains to be done, but much has been
done; and my brother was exceedingly fortunate during his lifelong
efforts in the advocates which he obtained among Members of the House.

It must not be forgotten that a medical reformer is apt at first to be
unpopular with his brethren, or at least to be discouraged by them. The
more fortunate members of the profession are apt to feel a serene
indifference to the purposes which he avows. I do not think that the
reform of those evils with which my brother concerned himself has had
much assistance from the more wealthy and influential among the
physicians. As Arnold said, contemptuously and justly, of Isaac Walton,
that "he fished through the civil wars," so these good people held, as a
rule, severely aloof from the struggle. To the poorer members of the
profession, who had to make every effort for a livelihood, and were
constrained to give their services for nominal sums in order to get a
status in their calling, it seemed more practical to get them better pay
and not to give offence. In the end this was part of the result of my
brother's labours. He was able to assert, towards the close of his
active career, that he had added £18,000 a year to the incomes of the
Poor Law medical officers in the Metropolis, and to allege that the
change, with others, had saved ten times that amount in the Metropolitan
rates. I am convinced--having once been a Guardian of the Poor in the
city where I live--that the adoption of the policy which he recommended
has effected a still greater saving.

The first reform which my brother undertook, persevered in, and speedily
saw achieved, was the prohibition of intramural interment. He had good
reason to make efforts in this direction, for he had abundant evidence
of what came from the old practice in the experience of his profession.
Most of the Metropolitan clergy were very hostile to this reform, and
for obvious reasons. But it came gradually, finally, and thoroughly. The
present generation in London has a very inadequate conception of the
abominations, in the midst of which their fathers and mothers lived, and
not a few of them were born. The abandonment of intramural interment,
and the drainage of London, imperfect as the latter is, have turned one
of the unhealthiest cities in the civilized world into one of the
healthiest. One of the first churchyards closed was that of St. Anne's,
Soho, the parish in which my brother lived for many years.

His next efforts were directed towards obtaining a mortuary in the
parish. Every one admits how serious are the evils of overcrowding, and
how difficult a problem it is to supply the London poor with decent
homes at moderate rents. A century ago, as I know very well, house-rent,
even in London, took a small part of the workman's scanty earnings; now
his earnings are sometimes very little better than they were a century
ago, and his rent absorbs from a fourth to a half of what he earns in
poorly paid labour. At best his home is crowded and unhealthy enough,
but when death occurs in the family the condition of things is
intolerable. It cost my brother three or four years of incessant effort
and pleading to obtain this concession from the Vestry of St. Anne, and
for a long time this was the only London parish which made this
necessary provision.

The next mischief which he attacked was the window tax. His experience
as a physician proved to him that lack of light and air intensified
disease and rendered recovery difficult. There was a plea for the window
tax. It seemed to bring a fair charge on large houses, which an assessed
tax notoriously does not. In assailing the tax his principal helper was
Lord Duncan, at that time one of the Metropolitan Members. The tax went
at last in 1851. The repeal of this tax took nearly twenty years'
agitation, the first physician who attacked it on sanitary grounds
having been Dr. Southwood Smith.

My brother commenced his practice in London in 1844. In 1855 there was a
serious visitation of cholera in St. Anne's, Soho, and he became a
supernumerary medical officer in the district. Cholera had a very
serious effect on his private practice, as he states himself, and nearly
twelve years after he had taken up his abode in London, he concluded to
become a candidate for the function of medical officer to the Strand
Workhouse. He was to receive a stipend of £50 a year, and find all
medicines for the sick. It may be doubted whether he knew what he was
undertaking: certainly they who appointed him and the officials who
confirmed his appointment at the Poor Law Board had no conception of
what they were doing. The character of his duties, and a description of
the place in which he had to perform these duties is to be found at the
commencement of his narrative. For its condition it is hard to decide
whether the Guardians of the time, or the central authority were most to

The Strand appointment was the beginning of those systematic labours on
behalf of the sick poor and the medical profession which thenceforward
became the principal business of his life, to which he sacrificed such
leisure as he had, health, and money which he could ill spare. He gave
also what was more important--undaunted courage, and accurate
information. Thus in 1861 he gave evidence before a Select Committee of
the House of Commons, on the subject of the supply of drugs in Workhouse
infirmaries, such a supply being as essentially part of the Guardians'
duty as the purchase of food and clothing are. His views were adopted by
the Committee and pressed on the Department. What he advocated was the
germ of the Workhouse infirmary.

During the last few months of his life he lived at Hampstead, in the
hope that the air might help him. At the back of his new home there was
built one of those great hospitals for the sick poor which it was the
principal aim of his labours to render general, and to see constructed
in such a way as would give the fairest prospect of recovery for the
patients who were treated in them.

The practice of the Poor Law Board at this time was to assert on paper
the supremacy of the medical officer in his own department, to give him
no personal support when he did his duty, to visit on his head all the
consequences of their own negligence or dilatoriness, and, right or
wrong, to support the Guardians when they took offence at
conscientiousness and zeal. Now, in 1865, a scandalous case of neglect
led to an inquest, to an exposure of the facts, and to very severe
comments by the Press. Shortly afterwards the proprietors of _The
Lancet_ newspaper--a medical journal which has, during a very long
career, been distinguished alike for its zeal in maintaining the honour
of the medical profession and for its advocacy of humanity in dealing
with the sick and destitute poor--resolved on investigating the
condition of the London workhouses and their hospitals. Among other
places, Dr. Anstie visited the Strand Workhouse, in Cleveland Street,
and made his own report on what he saw in the columns of the paper which
he represented. The report was candid, graphic, and by no means
flattering to the Guardians, to their management, and to their
officials. But it was entirely accurate, for the Strand Union and its
Guardians at that time were probably the worst examples of a thoroughly
bad and vicious system. Of course the Guardians were as angry as they
could have been if they had been known for the best of characters and
motives and had been grossly defamed.

The time was plainly come for concerted action, and one of the Strand
Guardians, a Mr. Storr, a gentleman of very different character from
most of his colleagues, convened a meeting at his own offices, in order
to discuss the situation. It was at first suggested to call a public
meeting; but my brother pointed out that even if the meeting were a
success its effect would be ephemeral. It was determined, therefore, to
create an association under the title of the Workhouse Infirmaries'
Association, Mr. Storr offering to find £100 towards its preliminary
expenses. But his generous offer was not needed. As soon as it was
known that the Association was in process of formation, names and money
poured in upon the scheme. New evidence about the Strand Union came out,
and was forwarded to Mr. Charles Villiers, then President of the Board.
An inquiry was held, and, as usual, the permanent officials strove to
throw the blame on the medical officers, and to exonerate the Guardians.
Now, to counteract this, my brother called a meeting of all the
Workhouse medical officers in London. The object of this meeting was the
formation of an Association for the protection of the character and
interests of these officials, and for supplying information to the
public as to the manner in which their best efforts were hampered and
thwarted. This was the nucleus of the Poor Law Medical Officers'
Association, an organization which has extended itself to the three
kingdoms. Of this my brother was, as long as his health allowed, the
president and principal administrator.

In 1867 Mr. Gathorne Hardy, now Lord Cranbrook, was President of the
Poor Law Board, and in this capacity introduced the Metropolitan Poor
Bill, some of the provisions of which were the establishment of
Workhouse hospitals and dispensaries, and the supply of all medicines
and medical appliances at the charge of the Guardians. The President
frankly acknowledged that he owed much of the information which he had
acquired from my brother. It was unfortunate that the provisions of the
Act were not made general, throughout England at least. But London at
last got an instalment of Poor Law Reform, and on rational lines. The
administration of the Poor Law is far from perfect; but the best part of
it is that of the sick poor. Even here officials for a long time
obstructed the will of the legislature and the objects of the law, but,
on paper at least, the ancient abominations described in the earlier
part of my brother's reminiscences were swept away.

In the eyes of the Strand Guardians, or rather of a majority among them,
his offences on behalf of justice and humanity were unpardonable. He had
to be got rid of. In this the officials of the Poor Law Board, then
under Lord Devon, agreed with the Guardians. The Guardians picked a
quarrel with him, the Poor Law Board instituted an inquiry, and
apparently instructed their Inspector as to what he should report, and
the President gave solemnity to the farce by removing him from his
office. The ground on which he was dismissed was that "he could not get
on with the Board of Guardians." Of course he could not. No man of
sense, honour, humanity, decency, and conscientiousness, could get on
with them, or, in those evil days, with the Poor Law Board either; for
the President and his officials, perhaps unconsciously, leagued with the
Guardians in the maltreatment and oppression of the poor.

It is a common trait in mean and malignant natures to think, if they can
injure in fortune or character an advocate of justice and right dealing,
that they can arrest his efforts and discourage those of others. Many
experiences will occur to those who have any knowledge of public affairs
which will illustrate this policy and its failure. It always fails with
such men as have any character at all. They disregard the loss or the
insult, and redouble their efforts after the object which they have put
before them. I do not remember that my brother ever dwelt with any
peculiar acerbity on the circumstances of his dismissal; but he gave
himself more than ever to the self-imposed task which became the
business, and eventually the success, of his life. He spoke, indeed,
with bitterness, and wrote with bitterness of the crew who had sought to
injure him, but for the reason that they were prolonging the miseries of
the poor, and for that reason only.

Of course my brother had the sympathy of his profession and the support
of the medical papers. But he resolved to perfect and extend the
organization which he had founded. The result was the formation of the
Poor Law Medical Officers' Association. In order to give strength and
stability to this agency he visited most of the principal towns in
England. He made several journeys to Ireland, the infirmary system of
which he highly commended, and went once at least to Scotland, where
indeed reform was greatly needed. And in these places he inculcated the
important truth, that where medical relief was abundantly and generously
accorded by the Guardians, pauperism decreased and rates were lessened.
In my frequent communications with him, I urged him to insist on this as
a matter of principle and a matter of fact. Generous relief to the poor,
if it be discriminating and founded on a few intelligible rules, is the
truest economy in the end. Owing to his efforts, many towns voluntarily
adopted the principle of the Metropolitan Act, and with the best
results. In the earlier years of his campaign he obtained great
assistance in Parliament from the late Dr. Brady, Member for Leitrim,
and from Dr. Lush, Member for Salisbury.

Four years after his expulsion from office in the Strand Union, he was
elected to a similar office in the Westminster Union. His career here
was not one of incessant and unavailing remonstrance. The Poor Law
Board, subsequently the Local Government Board, began to awake to a
sense of its duties, and to see, though reluctantly and haltingly, that
Boards of Guardians sometimes need supervision. But soon his troubles
recommenced. The inferior officials were harsh, violent, and dishonest,
and they were abetted by a majority of the Guardians. The inevitable
consequences followed. My brother undertook the cause of the poor, and
the Guardians and their tools or accomplices turned on him. They tried
their old trick of suspending him, in hopes that the Poor Law or Local
Government Board would endorse their ruling. My brother employed his
enforced leisure in extending the organization which he had founded. In
due course he was reinstated by the Department, and his enemies were

The mismanagement of the Workhouse by these Guardians, and the
outrageous misconduct of the master, at length roused the wrath of the
ratepayers. An influential committee was formed, which recommended a new
list of Guardians to the electors, and the whole of the old gang were
ejected from office by overwhelming majorities. I have reason to know
that the atrocities perpetrated by the master roused the anger, and
secured the unobtrusive but effective co-operation of a very exalted
personage. The resentment which affected this total change was not the
act of one section of society or of one party only, and it is just to
say that my brother had the assistance of eminent persons in both
political parties. I mention this the rather, because my brother made no
secret of his political opinions, and never omitted any opportunity of
inculcating them. He belonged, as all his brothers did, to the advanced
Liberal party.

During the remainder of his active life he was in perfect accord with
the Board of Guardians. He had the good fortune to see that what he had
laboured for, and had been persecuted for, was now acknowledged to be
humane, politic, and economical. He even had the opportunity of checking
reckless and unwise expenditure. He had done great services to the poor,
though his clients were unable to express more than their personal
gratitude to him. He had recognized and secured the co-operation of some
among those excellent women who have worked so energetically and
unobtrusively on behalf of the poor destitute. He had done great
services to his own profession, and had secured them a little of their
due; for, I repeat, there is no class of persons who do so much, from
whom so much is expected, and who are more scantily remunerated than
medical practitioners among the poor. Some of these practitioners in
1884 determined to offer him some recognition of his lifelong services.
There was nothing in his whole career which he dwelt on with more
satisfaction than on the rout of the Westminster Guardians, in 1883, and
on the testimonial of 1884.

Two years afterwards he was attacked by heart disease, and became
conscious of the organic mischief against which his naturally strong
constitution struggled for nearly three years. His incessant labours had
literally worn him out. His disease rapidly increased on him, and with
great pain and effort he wrote out, in the intervals of his trying
disorder, the reminiscences which follow. Had he been in better physical
health, they would have no doubt been fuller, for his memory was exact
and tenacious. That which is printed will show what manner of man he
was. But it will be seen that he dwells but little on his own unwearied
labours. During his sickness he was attended by many physicians who knew
him and valued him: chief and most untiring among them was Dr. Bristow.

I can say, without consciousness of partiality, that my brother's life
was one of incessant devotion to a noble object. They for whom he
laboured were the poor and helpless; who could make him no recompense,
could, perhaps, hardly understand his purposes. He was met by obstacles
which would have daunted a less resolute man; but he was sustained by
the rectitude of his aims, and by a firm belief in their wisdom. Such
men change the face of the world, as far as their own sphere goes. Their
reward is generally the approval of their own consciences, and sometimes
evidence accorded in their lifetime as to what has been the fruit of
their labours. Thousands of our fellow-countrymen have been saved from
suffering and misery by the lifework of Joseph Rogers.


_April 10_.


CHAPTER I.                         PAGE

THE STRAND                            1



RECOGNITION                         224


CONCLUSION                          241




In the latter part of the summer of 1854 I was living in Soho, where I
had been engaged in general practice for some ten years, and where, by
dint of laborious attention to my profession, I had secured a
sufficiency on which to live, when I became aware that an outbreak of
Asiatic cholera might be looked for. Some suspicious cases had appeared,
when, towards the end of the month of August, there was suddenly
developed an epidemic outbreak of such virulence and extent that it
became necessary for immediate action to be taken, if this fell disease
was to be effectually dealt with. Having taken an active part for some
years previously in sundry sanitary measures, I was requested by the
parochial authorities of St. Anne's, Soho, to take charge of one of the
districts into which the parish was at once divided. During the busiest
of those very busy days, a medical friend and neighbour called on me,
and in answer to my remark that I was too busy to talk to him, replied,
"You are busy now, but you will live to regret this outbreak in Soho. It
will ruin the neighbourhood and your practice for many years to come,
for the public will believe that it is too unhealthy to live in, and ere
long you will have nothing to do."

This casual prediction was amply verified in the following year by the
death of many inhabitants, and by the removal of others. As was the case
with others in other callings, I had to commence the world afresh. When
casting about for the best course to follow, the medical officership of
the Strand Workhouse, Cleveland Street, and of the parish of St. Anne's,
Soho, fell vacant. The person who held the appointment proposed to
resign in favour of his son, and I was strongly urged to compete for it.
I elected to try my chance, and, after a severe contest, was selected.
Here I began my experiences of the sick poor, which lasted, with a very
brief interval, for thirty years. My first impressions were not very
exhilarating, and could I have foreseen all that was in store for me, I
question whether I should have applied for the appointment at all, but,
having been appointed, I resolved to try it for a time at least. The
Strand Workhouse in the year 1856 was a square four-storied building
fronting the street, with two wings of similar elevation projecting
eastwards from each corner. Across the irregularly-paved yard in the
rear was a two-storied lean-to building, with windows in the front only,
used as a day and night ward for infirm women. There were sheds on each
side for the reception of so-called male and female able-bodied people,
whilst in the yard, on each side of the entrance gate, was a two-storied
building, with an underground apartment lighted by a single window, and
with a door for the reception of male and female casual paupers; the
wards above being for those of both sexes admitted to the house.

The necessary laundry work of the establishment, which never in my time
fell below five hundred inmates, was carried on in the cellar beneath
the entrance hall and the general dining-room, whence it came to pass
that the said hall, &c., was for four days in each week filled with
steam and the odours from washing the paupers' linen. A chapel was
contrived out of one of the male infirm wards on the ground floor on
the Sunday, and utilized on that occasion for both sexes. On the left of
the entrance hall was the Board-room; the corresponding apartment on the
right, and the room above on the first floor, being the apartments of
the master and matron. On the right side of the main building was a
badly paved yard, which led down to the back entrance from Charlotte
Street; on each side of this back entrance there was--first, a
carpenter's shop and a dead-house, and secondly, opposite to it, a
tinker's shop with a forge and unceiled roof. This latter communicated
with a ward with two beds in it, used for fever and foul cases, only a
lath and plaster partition about eight feet high separating it from the
tinker's shop.

There were no paid nurses. Such nursing as we had, and continued to have
for the first nine years I was there, was performed by more or less
infirm paupers, with the occasional aid of some strong young woman who
had been admitted temporarily and was on pass. Unfortunately it
frequently happened that just as she was becoming useful she left, and
there was nothing for it but to fall back upon the ordinary broken-down
inmates, the selection of whom did not rest with me, but with the master
or the matron, or both.

Just outside the male wards of the House, at the upper end of the yard,
there were two upright posts and a cross-bar. On this bar were suspended
the carpets taken in to beat by the so-called able-bodied inmates, from
whose labour the Guardians derived a clear income of £400 a year. In
despite of the continued noise and dust caused by this beating, the
Guardians persisted in carrying it on for ten of the twelve years that I
was there. The noise was so great that it effectually deprived the sick
of all chance of sleep, whilst the dust was so thick that to open the
windows was entirely out of the question until the day's work was over.
I attempted repeatedly to get this nuisance done away with, but so
fierce was the antagonism of the majority of the Board that I had to
abandon it.

The male insane ward, used also for epileptics and imbeciles, was on the
right wing above the male casual and reception ward. To reach it you had
to go up some four steps; it was absurdly unsuitable for such cases, and
when I had lunatic and imbecile there together I was always in dread
lest some horrid catastrophe might happen. One case of an epileptic was
to me the cause of much anxiety, for he was wholly unaware when his fits
were coming on. When a seizure occurred he always sprang up and then
dashed himself to the ground on his forehead and face. He contrived by
these means to smash his nose, make dreadfully disfiguring wounds on his
forehead and face, and from a good-looking, became a perfectly
repulsive-looking person. Poor fellow! I tried all sorts of expedients
to prevent his doing himself any further injury, but though he
constantly wore a stuffed helmet, he sometimes managed to injure
himself. I got him away at last, but I had two or three years of him,
during which time I had a very extensive surgical experience from his
case alone. I was constantly stitching up his wounds.

The female insane ward was a rather large room, and was situated over
the Board-room. As we always had the place full the space was desirable
or necessary. It was immediately beneath the lying-in ward. When we had
a troublesome or noisy lunatic in the ward, it must have been anything
but a comfort to the lying-in women above, but then neither their
interests, nor the feelings of any of the other inmates, were at that
time officially considered by the Guardians, by the Poor Law Inspectors,
nor by any one else. To be allowed to remain in the House and get waited
on somehow was all that was looked for by these truly wretched women.

The master of the House, a certain George Catch, since deceased, had
been a common policeman in Clare Market, where he had made himself
useful to the Chairman of the Board, who was the proprietor of an
_à-la-mode_ beef shop in that locality. Through this Chairman's
influence he became the porter of the Workhouse, and the master falling
sick, he had performed his duty for him. The illness ending fatally,
through the same influence Catch was promoted to the vacant office,
though, at the time I first knew him, he was so ignorant that he could
only write his name with difficulty. He was single on his appointment,
but an alliance with the late master's niece, who had acted as matron
for some time, was talked about on my taking office. As this official,
Mr. G. Catch, appointed with the sanction of Mr. H. Fleming, some time
Permanent Secretary of the Poor Law Board, played an important part in
bringing the Department into deserved contempt, I must hereafter again
refer to him.

On the morning of my entering on my duties I went over the sick ward
with the son of my predecessor. My curiosity was excited by sundry
ill-shaped bottles, all of which contained the same description of
so-called medicine. The salary did not admit of an extensive variety of
medical necessaries, as it was only fifty pounds a year, out of which
all drugs were to be found. It is true that this stipend was
supplemented by an occasional fee from attendance on parturient women,
in cases where difficulty or danger arose, or in any illness which took
place prior to the ninth day after the confinement. That fee was limited
to twenty shillings only. The decision as to the necessity for such
attendance was vested in the midwife or matron, and until that was given
the medical officer was interdicted from entering the lying-in wards.
This regulation was in direct contravention of the Poor Law Regulations,
but then the Department were very unwilling at that time to interfere
with the so-called discretion of the Guardians, however much their
regulations were disregarded.

I have stated that the Chairman of the Board was the proprietor of an
_à-la-mode_ beef shop. During my first year of office this dignitary
would often come to the House on Sunday morning dressed in the dirty,
greasy jacket in which he had been serving _à-la-mode_ beef the night
before, and unshaven and unshorn, he would go into the chapel with the
pauper inmates, and afterwards go to the Board-room, and have breakfast
with the master and matron. Of course, between the three, there was an
excellent understanding, and during this Chairman's reign all
alterations for the better were resisted.

I have before stated that all my nurses were pauper inmates. The
responsible duties they had to perform were remunerated by an amended
dietary and a pint of beer. Occasionally for laying out the dead, and
for other specially repulsive duties, they had a glass of gin. This was
given by the master or matron, but I was expected to sanction the

I have referred to the ward used for foul cases, which was in immediate
proximity to the tinker's shop. It was altogether unsuitable for the
reception of any human being, however degraded he might be; but it had
to be used. I remember a poor wretch being admitted with frost-bitten
feet, which speedily mortified, rendering the atmosphere of the ward and
shop frightfully offensive. At first I was at a loss to know whom to get
to go through the offensive duty of waiting on him. At last a little
fellow, called Wiseman, undertook the task, the bribe being two pints of
beer and some gin daily, with steaks or chops for dinner. Presently the
patient was seized with tetanus, and after the most fearful sufferings
died. He was followed almost immediately afterwards by poor Wiseman, who
had contracted from his patient one of the most malignant forms of blood
poisoning that I ever saw.

These two successive deaths took place whilst the tinker was plying his
business on the other side of the partition which separated this ward
from his smithy. This place was an utter disgrace to the Board, but they
never attempted to alter it whilst I was there.

I have referred also to the nursery ward. This place was situated on the
third floor, opposite to the lying-in ward. It was a wretchedly damp and
miserable room, nearly always overcrowded with young mothers and their
infant children. That death relieved these young women of their
illegitimate offspring was only what was to be expected, and that
frequently the mothers followed in the same direction was only too true.

I used to dread to go into this ward, it was so depressing. Scores and
scores of distinctly preventible deaths of both mothers and children
took place during my continuance in office through their being located
in this horrible den.

It frequently happened that some casual was admitted with her child, or
children, to the room below the female receiving ward. On my visiting
the House next day I would find that her child had got an attack of
measles and could not go out; and in spite of my sending the mother and
child to the children's infectious ward above, measles always broke out
in the nursery some eleven days after, and I have had as many as twenty
down with it at a time. I will not horrify my readers by stating the
proportion of deaths to recoveries, but content myself with stating that
the latter were very few.

What made these continuous outbreaks so vexatious was this, that I had
laid down the most stringent regulations as regards isolation and
disinfection; but unfortunately my orders could only be given to pauper
women. I had no other persons to act with, and with that habitual
carelessness which had led to their becoming paupers, they only in
exceptional instances paid any attention to what I said.

Now and then a decent widow with an infant came in, and became an inmate
of the nursery ward, there being no other place for her to go to. What
her feelings must have been when forced into day and night companionship
with some of the most abandoned of her own sex in this miserable
Gehenna, I will not attempt to portray, and yet the majority of the
Board looked upon this den as a perfect paradise, and looked on me as an
irreconcilable fellow for troubling them with my complaints respecting

I had not been the medical officer for many months before I found that
my pauper nurses were frequently under the influence of drink, and that,
too, in the forenoon. On inquiring, I heard to my surprise that the
master was in the habit of giving out the stimulants at 7 a.m., and, as
many of the inmates sold their allowance, the nurses had become partly
or wholly intoxicated when I reached the House in the morning.

My first request to the master was that some other time should be
selected for the issue of stimulants. Such request was angrily refused,
and it was not until I had appealed to the Board that I succeeded in
effecting an alteration, but my success made the master, henceforward,
my determined foe.

As I have stated, the medical officer's salary was intended to cover the
provision of medicine. The Guardians, however, had supplied my
predecessor with linseed-meal and mustard, but finding that I had a
great many consumptive and bronchitic patients, I was induced to apply
to the Guardians for some linseed, to enable me to give the patients
some linseed tea. Now there was one nurse in the female sick ward, by
name Charlotte Massingham, who had been in supreme authority there some
years. She was nearly always muddled; to work with her was impossible;
Charlotte invariably treated me with supreme indifference, not
unmingled with undisguised contempt. I had introduced new-fangled
notions, would have my medicines correctly given, and the patients well
attended to. On hearing that my application for the linseed had met with
success, I went up to the Workhouse. On going into the female sick ward
I told Charlotte of my having gained the assent of the Board, when,
suddenly springing up at least a foot, she came down slapping both
sides, with her arms on to the ground, with the startling observation,
"My God! linseed tea in a workhouse!" Charlotte's reign, however, was
not of long continuance after this; she died, worn out by the effects of
habitual intemperance. I heard, after she was dead, and the inmates were
free to speak, that she systematically stole the wine and brandy from
the sick.

It was obvious that one of the first points to secure was the removal of
the laundry before referred to, situated in the cellar beneath the
dining hall. The Guardians having assented to my suggestions, a contract
was entered into with the builder to put up a laundry in the back yard.
The structure was to cost some £400. On proceeding to dig out the
foundation, the workmen came on a number of skeletons, the yard having
been originally the poor burial ground of St. Paul's, Covent Garden,
for which parish the Workhouse, &c., had been built, and had been rented
by the Guardians from that parish when the Strand Union was formed. So
full was this yard of human remains, that the contractor was compelled
to go down twenty feet all round, before a foundation for the laundry
could be obtained. In making this huge trench, they disinterred the
remains of the poor Italian boy, murdered by Bishop and Williams, whose
murder was discovered by the late Mr. Partridge of King's College
Hospital, to whom Bishop and Williams had sold their victim for
anatomical purposes. Similar murders of the same kind in Edinburgh, led
to the passing of the Anatomy Act, and to the suppression of the
practice of body-snatching by the abandoned wretches who formerly
supplied Schools of Anatomy with subjects.

My next endeavour was an enlargement of the cellar at each wing so as to
secure better accommodation for the reception of casual poor, and
increased space for sick children and others. This was accomplished by
nearly re-building the wings. Unfortunately these suggestions rendered
me extremely unpopular with many of the Guardians, and delayed for some
two years any increase of my wretched stipend, which would otherwise
have been granted, if I could have remained a passive observer of that
which I saw around me. But worse was in store.

My first serious quarrel with the Board happened thus. Many of the young
women who came in to be confined, came under treatment afterwards,
suffering from extreme exhaustion, and some were hopelessly consumptive.
On making inquiry, I found that the practice in the lying-in ward was to
keep the single women on a dietary of gruel for nine days, and then, at
the end of a fortnight, to dismiss them to the nursery ward on House
diet, with their children. Assuming, as I had a perfect right to do,
that this dietary had emanated from an order of the Poor Law Board, I
wrote to the Department telling what I had observed, and asking that
Board's permission to introduce a more generous system. My communication
was sent to the Guardians, and I was informed in a letter from the Board
at Whitehall that it rested with me exclusively to order whatever form
of dietary I chose, a power which I did not hesitate to use. The Board
of Guardians condemned my conduct in writing to the Poor Law Board, in
the strongest possible terms, and the use I had made of the power vested
in me. The course taken by me was held to be in the highest degree
reprehensible, as it traversed the deliberate action of the Guardians,
who had established the starvation dietary for single parturient women,
as a deterrent against the use of the Workhouse as a place in which to
be confined. As the number of fresh admissions went on increasing, and I
had not sufficient accommodation, I recommended that the side wings
should be enlarged by carrying the building up a storey higher. This was
done, and the pressure put on the accommodation was met for a time, but
all these suggestions increased my unpopularity with certain of the
Board, who condemned me for the expense I was putting them to. About
this time the annoyance and obstruction I met with from the master and
matron compelled me to apply to the Inspector for support. He came to
the House to make inquiry, but so large a number of the Guardians
attended to support the master, that after a few questions had been put,
he closed the inquiry. Some years after he expressed to me his regret
that at that time he could not see his way to aid me.

At the end of the first year some business took me to Scotland. The
Board sanctioned my absence, and gave their approval of the gentleman
who was to act as my substitute. On my return journey by the night
train, on getting out at Peterborough at 6 a.m. to get some coffee, I
was surprised to see the master of the Workhouse and the clerk of the
Board standing on the platform. On reaching King's Cross I remained in
the carriage till all the passengers had alighted and had passed me. I
was in doubt whether I had been deceived, but I had not been, for
presently the pair passed the carriage, each carrying a small bag. About
ten days after, a letter was sent from the Board, asking for an
explanation of an alleged neglect of a sick person in the House. I
forthwith called on my substitute and showed him the letter. He denied
in the most positive terms the allegation of neglect. On visiting the
House, no information could be gained from any one, but it occurred to
me on leaving to ask the porter whether he could throw any light on the
matter. After reading the clerk's letter he made the remark, "Why, Catch
was not in the House at the time he alleges the neglect took place, for
he and the clerk went down to Peterborough from the Thursday to the
Monday morning, to be entertained by the contractor who put up the
laundry boiler." In my defence, I stated this to the Board, when great
was the indignation expressed by some of the Guardians; first, at his
false charge of neglect, and secondly, that he and the clerk should have
gone away without leave, and for their being entertained by the

The exposure of course intensified this master's hostility, in which his
friend the clerk cordially cooperated. The consequence to me was that I
was continually sent for on most frivolous pretences. The messenger
would come to my house and say, "You are wanted at Cleveland Street;" if
I asked for what, he was studiously ignorant. If I went, or if I sent my
assistant, Catch would keep us waiting in the hall until it suited his
humour to come out to me, when in a loud voice he would say, "You are
wanted in such and such a ward." Hard as this was to bear with from this
ignorant and incompetent official, I put up with it for a time, but at
last I again called on the Poor Law Inspector, and asked him his advice,
when he informed me that the master was bound to send a written order,
stating the name of the sick person, &c. On my having intimated to him
that I should not again notice his calls unless this requirement was
complied with, the annoyance was stopped--nearly all of these second
visits having been wholly unnecessary, and arranged with the view of
wearing me out.

I have stated that, unless called on, either by the midwife, matron, or
master, to visit a woman recently confined, I was debarred from
attendance on her, and could not claim any fee. The master and clerk
arranged that no order should be given until nine days had elapsed, when
it was held that I was bound to take charge of the woman as in an
ordinary case of illness. This calling one in on the morning of the
tenth day was so frequently done that I saw that the thing was arranged,
especially as I learned on inquiry that the woman had been ill for some
days, and had asked that I should be sent for. I thereupon took on
myself to visit the ward daily, and to judge for myself as to the
necessity for my attendance. Some half-dozen of these cases occurred
within three months. On sending notice to the clerk that I had visited
such and such a case, I received the reply: "I have made inquiries and
find that you attended without getting the necessary authority." This I
afterwards learned was done without any authority from the Board. I
therefore decided that I would give up going into this ward for the

Some time after, and in pursuance of this man's policy of annoyance, a
case occurred just as I expected, which enabled me to get rid of him. On
going to the House one morning, the porter told me there was a woman ill
in the lying-in ward. On going into my room the pauper attendant came
and asked me to go to this ward. To the inquiry, "Who sent you?" "No
one," she replied. I then said, "Go to the matron, or if you cannot find
her, to the master, state that the woman is very ill, and bring me the
authority to visit her." She went away. Some half-hour after, I went by
the ward door, and heard this poor wretch's cries for assistance, but I
did not visit her. Again the attendant came to me and implored me to go
up. I asked, "Have you seen the master or matron?" "Yes," she said.
"What did they say to you?" "Why, they only laughed." I again declined
to visit the ward. Shortly after I left the House. I had hardly passed
the gate when the master rushed into the hall and inquired whether I had
left; on hearing I had done so, he said in a loud voice, "I have caught
that damned doctor at last," and directed the porter to go for the
nearest medical man. Some gentleman came and attended to her, and the
bill, and a garbled statement of the facts, was sent by Catch to the
Board. I was ordered to attend their next meeting and explain my
conduct. I requested the attendance of the porter and of the pauper
nurse at the Board's meeting. Catch gave his version of the story. When
called on for my explanation, I narrated the course adopted by the
master, the matron, and the clerk, and pointed out to the Guardians the
evident intention of all three to prevent me being paid any fee; that in
the case in question I had asked for an authority to visit the woman;
that, although both of these officers knew of the poor woman's
condition, they had maliciously allowed her to remain without proper
attendance, and would not give any order, so that I should not be paid a
fee. The defence was so complete, and so completely turned the tables on
all three, that a severe censure was passed on the master and matron for
their inhumanity, and a hint was given that they had better look out for
some other appointment. This they did, and a vacancy for a master and
matron having taken place at Newington Workhouse, Mr. and Mrs. Catch
applied for the post, and, to the delight of all the inmates and
officers of the Strand Workhouse, were selected. So intensely tyrannical
and cruel had been the rule of this man, that the day he resigned the
keys, and was leaving the House, the whole establishment--at least, all
those who could leave their beds--rose in open rebellion, and with old
kettles, shovels, penny trumpets, celebrated their departure from the
premises. The incoming master subsequently told me that he had never
witnessed anything like it in his life, and that the row was so general
and spontaneous, that he was powerless to check it. Mr. Catch's
subsequent career did not disappoint the expectations of those who were
cognizant of his utter unfitness for so responsible a post. I shall
refer to him again in a subsequent part of this narrative.

Before I had been long in office, I became aware that there was a
benevolent agency at work, conducted by some Christian ladies, whose
mission it was to visit the wards, read to the sick and infirm, and
generally to help them in the effort they might make in re-establishing
themselves. At the head of this movement was Miss Louisa Twining, who
has devoted years of her busy life to the amelioration of the lot of the
workhouse sick; Lady Alderson, the widow of the late judge, her
daughter, Miss Louisa; and, though last, by no means the least, Miss
Augusta Clifford, were associated in this good work. It was to Miss
Twining's initiative that the abolition of the system of entrusting the
care of the sick poor to the numberless Sairey Gamps and Betsy Prigs was
mainly due; but she did not succeed in her laudable efforts until after
several years of incessant appeal to the Guardians of the Poor and the
Poor Law Board. Ultimately her demand was conceded in deference to
outraged public opinion.

The efforts of Miss Clifford demand a special reference here. Very
early in my official life she called on me and volunteered to help any
deserving case brought to her notice. Over and over again did she put
her hand in her pocket, and give money to inmates of her own sex, whose
cases I called attention to. At last her good doing attracted the notice
of the Board, who passed a very eulogistic resolution, in which they
thanked her for her great kindness to their sick.

Here let me remark that, although the majority of the Strand Board were
wholly unfitted for any administrative duties, yet it would be
ungrateful not to state that there were several kindly-disposed persons
among them. They were generally, however, outvoted, though occasionally
their suggestions for a milder and more generous _régime_ prevailed.
Catch had hardly left the house when it was proposed to increase my
stipend, at first to £75, ultimately to £100 a year; and I was also
entrusted by the Board with the duty of certifying as to the lunacy of
the inmates who were admittedly insane.

This office had been filled for many years by a Dr. Beaman, of Henrietta
Street, Covent Garden, in deference to a view recently revived by the
present Lord Chancellor, in his hitherto abortive attempts to amend the
Lunacy Laws, and was to the effect that it would be hazardous to entrust
such a duty to the Workhouse medical officer, as he might be tempted to
eke out his salary by certifying that healthy persons were mentally
affected, so as to secure a fee. The injustice implied in this
gratuitous imputation, having been brought before one of the Presidents
of the Poor Law Board, he was induced to get the prohibition removed,
and one of the results was that my friends at the Board carried a
resolution that in future I should be the examining official, as I had
all the trouble of the case, whilst a stranger pocketed the fee. Dr.
Beaman was much annoyed at this; and as the relieving officer, who was a
friend of Beaman's, persisted in sending all cases to Dr. Beaman, a
collision was inevitable. A short while after, a lad was brought by the
police, found wandering at large. I diagnosed that he was a homicidal
lunatic, and that it was necessary that he should be sent away. The
relieving officer having called in Dr. Beaman, he visited the House,
examined the lad, and took him down to Bow Street, and deposed before
the magistrate that he was of sound mind. He would have been discharged,
but the police having testified to the very questionable condition in
which he was on coming into their hands, the presiding magistrate
directed that he should go back to the House for further observation.
This was done, and I again saw and examined him, and gave a fresh
certificate of his insanity. Dr. Beaman was again requested to attend;
he, however, sent his partner, who also decided that the lad was not
insane. He was again taken before a magistrate, with the result that he
was ordered to be discharged. Thereupon Dr. Beaman wrote to the Poor Law
Board complaining of the action of the Guardians in appointing an
inexperienced young man as the examining medical officer, and stating
that neither he nor his partner could discover any evidence of insanity
in the case in question. A copy of this letter was sent to the
Guardians, who directed the clerk to write to me for an explanation of
my conduct. I was satisfied that I was right, but I had a great deal of
trouble in tracing what had become of the boy. Ultimately I found his
father, who informed me that the day he was discharged he came home and
sat down to his dinner; after the meal was over, the father resumed his
work, that of shoe mending, when his son, without saying a word, struck
him a severe blow on the head with a hammer. The aid of the neighbours
and of the police was invoked, and after a desperate struggle he was
overpowered, handcuffed, taken before a magistrate, who sent him to
Marylebone Workhouse, from which establishment he had been sent to
Hanwell, where he had been some days.

I sent a copy of my reply to the Guardians to the Poor Law Board. My
judgment was never again called in question in cases of lunacy. I found
this part of my duty an agreeable episode in my daily routine of all but
thankless work. I also made the acquaintance of Sir Thomas Henry, Mr.
Flowers, and Mr. Vaughan, and from all these magistrates received the
greatest courtesy.

Before I had long held office my attention was drawn to the marvellous
zeal displayed by the Catholic priests, who, although unpaid, were
untiring in their attendance on the sick poor of their persuasion, a
large number of whom were always in the House. A somewhat ludicrous
incident occurred about this time. There was a very old woman in the
infirm ward, across the yard. She was stated to be ninety-five; she had
been blind from childhood, and the balls of both eyes were gone, leaving
nearly empty sockets. Although life under such circumstances was not
very attractive, I never met with any one who so strongly objected to
dying. She was constantly sending for me to prescribe for her imaginary
ailments. One very cold night, when the snow was on the ground, and it
was blowing strongly from the north-east, at about 11.30 my night-bell
was rung violently. I had not gone to bed, and therefore answered the
door, when I found a young Irishwoman, cowering in the recess of the
doorway. On asking what she wanted, she replied, "Oh, if you please,
sir, the Father has sent me over to ask whether Bridget Gaines is dying,
as a messenger has just come from the House saying Bridget is going, and
requesting the Father to go there at once. Now the Father has a bad
cold, and his feet are in hot water, and he has a poultice on his chest,
and he is afraid to go out as the night is so cold." I laughingly told
her to go back and tell the Father that I thought Bridget was not near
her end yet. On the following morning the priest called on me. He was
very anxious about Bridget, and earnestly asked whether I had heard from
the House. I told him there was no need for anxiety, when, in a
deprecatory tone of voice, he said, "I should have gone after all, but
Bridget has been very tiresome. Do you know," he said, "Bridget has had
extreme unction administered nineteen times." I saw Bridget that
morning, she was much in her usual condition; she lived a long time
afterwards, and probably was anointed on a great many subsequent

I was constantly encountering odd stories and odd people--many of them
profligates who had seen better days. One person in particular attracted
my attention, as he had evidently been a gentleman; indeed, he assured
me that he had once a large estate in Yorkshire, and was Master of the
Hounds. I had no reason to doubt him. He did not live very long after
his admission to the sick ward. After his death I received from five
different solicitors written requests for a copy of my death
certificate. It was accompanied in each case by a fee of a guinea. This
poor fellow had insured his life in five different offices, and had sold
the policies. It will be seen that I shared in the pecuniary advantages
that sprang from his death.

The immediate successor of Mr. and Mrs. Catch did not stay very long.
The matron's health broke down, and she had to resign. They were
followed by Mr. and Mrs. Thorne, who remained master and matron until
the death of the former some years afterwards. Mr. Thorne was a
kind-hearted person, who had filled a position of responsibility in the
parish of Marylebone; whilst Mrs. Thorne was a well-educated, ladylike
woman. They managed the House well, and treated the inmates with
kindness and consideration, but do as they would they could not alter
the structural deficiencies of the building, make it larger, nor prevent
the fearful over-crowding with its disastrous results, nor improve upon
the wretched system of pauper nursing, which was the curse of that and
all similar institutions, and which the powers that were in those days
at Whitehall made no genuine effort to change.

Shortly after the collapse of his friend Catch, the proprietor of the
_à-la-mode_ beef shop ceased to be a Guardian, and a wholesale
fruit-dealer in Covent Garden reigned in his stead. He was a far less
satisfactory Chairman than his predecessor, as all thoughts, words, and
deeds were actuated by the consideration of his personal and private
interests, as will be shown by the following, among other instances that
could be related. One of the earliest things very properly done by the
new master was to find out the previous occupation of those who had come
in sick, and to utilize them, when recovered, in the trade they had
followed, for the improvement of the House. One day a middle-aged man
came in very ill. He had evidently seen better days; in fact, he turned
out to have been a highly-skilled decorator, especially in the
representation of marble and in graining. As soon as he was well enough
the master set him to work to decorate the entrance hall. This he did
most admirably, and his work was much admired by the Guardians, and by
visitors to the House. This employment coming to an end he was allowed,
as a reward for his industry, to go in and out, ostensibly to look for
work. I used frequently to meet this man on my daily visits. As he
continued to go out in this manner, I one day stopped him and asked
whether he had been successful in finding a job. His reply, in the
negative, was accompanied by a look so significant, that I was induced
to push my inquiries, when he told me that he was occupied in decorating
the Chairman's house, and he had been engaged at it for some three
weeks. To the further inquiry, "What have you got there?" pointing to a
bag he was carrying, he replied, "That is my dinner, which I always take
with me, from the House." "Oh, then," I said, "the Chairman does not
find you your dinner even; does he give you any beer or any money?" He
replied, "I have been working there all day long for the last three
weeks, and he has never given me anything." As he shortly after
disappeared, I made an inquiry as to what had become of him, when I
learned that he had suddenly left the work he was doing for the
Chairman, and gone off and drowned himself. This Chairman did not long
continue to act as such, as some months after this he died suddenly of
heart disease, the only evidence he had ever afforded that he possessed
one. Having occasion just at that time to go to the Poor Law Board, I
was waiting in an office for the gentleman I went to see, when one of
the junior officials said to me, "You have lost your Chairman." "Yes," I
replied, "but I do not feel his loss very acutely;" on which he said,
"It is customary for the clerk of the Board to write and apprise us of
the death of the Chairman, and we always send a sympathetic letter in
reply. On the clerk's letter being read the question was asked, 'Should
the usual reply be sent?' The official reply was grim enough: 'Write and
say that we are delighted to hear it.'"

The successor in the Chair was very friendly disposed towards me, and
remained so until after the official inquiry in 1866, when, having
attended to hear the evidence that was given, and having made himself
conspicuous by some irrelevant interruptions, he brought down on himself
the criticism of the Press, which he most absurdly attributed to me, and
resented by becoming a most determined opponent ever afterwards.

About this time a Select Committee of the House of Commons was
appointed to take into consideration the administration of the Poor
Laws, and to decide as to the desirability or otherwise of the
maintenance of the Central Department. In conjunction with my friend,
the late R. Griffin, of Weymouth, who distinguished himself so much by
an advocacy of an amended system of medical relief, and the late Dr. R.
Fowler, of Bishopsgate Street, I volunteered to give evidence before the
Committee. Some time after, being asked by the late Metropolitan
Inspector, H. B. Farnall, Esq., C.B., to call upon him at the Poor Law
Board, I did so. "I hear," said he, "that you have asked to give
evidence before the Select Committee; pray, what are you going to
state?" "Nothing," I replied, "that bears on my personal position as a
Poor Law medical officer, except so far as I may support my views by
reference to my personal knowledge. I shall give evidence for the
purpose of urging on the Committee the desirability of abolishing the
system, whereby Boards of Guardians for a stipulated sum, often wholly
inadequate, bargain with medical men to find all medicines and
appliances, because the inevitable outcome of the system is this--that
the poor do not get the medicines they require. I feel that the sick of
the Strand Union got very little in the way of medicine before I was
appointed, and the provision of such medicines was to me in every sense
a pecuniary loss, until the Guardians quite recently increased my
stipend so as to make the strain less felt."

He at once assured me that he would do his best to put my views before
the Chairman, C. P. Villiers, M.P. for Wolverhampton. I did not at that
time know Mr. Villiers personally, except by repute, but I came to know
him some years later. Mr. Farnall then proposed to put some questions to
me and take down the answers. This he did, and as each question was put
I replied briefly, giving my reasons for my suggestion. I had to be
guarded in my answers, as I was not desirous of bringing the charge
against my medical brethren that they systematically failed to supply
medicines for the sick, though very many have with more or less
questionable candour said to me, "Why do you bother about the supply of
medicines? Go in and get for us an increase of our pay."

After Mr. Farnall had put me to the question, he shook me very warmly by
the hand, promising that as far as I was concerned the views I held
should be brought prominently forward.

Some time after I received a notice to attend, when I found Mr. Richard
Griffin and Dr. Fowler in the room. Griffin had come there with evidence
that would have taken a month to take down. Fowler was not so diffuse, a
couple of days would have got through what he had to say. Appalled by
the vast body of evidence offered by these two, the Committee ordered
the room to be cleared; on our re-admission we learned that the
Committee had decided that Mr. Griffin and Dr. Fowler should put in
their evidence, which should be taken as if delivered. I was then called
on. I had neither note nor paper, as I relied on Mr. Farnall's promise.
The questions were mainly put by Mr. Villiers. I amplified briefly the
views I had expressed to Mr. Farnall. This led to my being asked for
some additional explanations, which I supplied. Ultimately I was
dismissed, but not before I had convinced myself that my day's work had
not been thrown away. Poor Richard Griffin had worked for many years
with wonderful industry to call attention to the grievances of Poor Law
medical officers, and thought he should succeed. But he was destined to
fail, for although the Committee had allowed him to put in his evidence,
yet the facts he had collected with so much pains were successfully
traversed by Mr. R. B. Caine, Poor Law Inspector, who by certain
statistics made out to the Committee's satisfaction that medical men had
no great cause for complaint. Poor Fowler's evidence was similarly
snuffed out; as regards mine, the Committee reported in its favour, but
not as to the whole of it. They probably dreaded the cost to the various
Union Boards of the provision of all medicines, but they suggested a
compromise, to wit, that Boards of Guardians should be required to
supply expensive medicines, such as cod liver oil, quinine, opium, &c.
Small as the concession was, Mr. H. Fleming delayed the issue of the
Committee's recommendation for fifteen months after it had been made,
and then sent out a letter couched in such official language that a
great many Boards contented themselves with ordering the letter to lie
on the table. Some years after, I asked Dr. Lush, M.P. for Salisbury, to
move for a copy of the Board's letter and a return of what had been
done. I found from that return that about half of those bodies had not
noticed the letter at all. Subsequently, twenty years after the issue of
the letter, my brother, Thorold Rogers, moved for a similar return, only
to show that there were still several Boards where nothing whatever was

When the letter was read at the Strand Board, a suggestion was made
that I should be offered an increase of my stipend and be required to
purchase the medicines myself. This I declined. Ultimately it was
arranged that I should be allowed to order drugs of a wholesale chemist,
but only to the extent of £27 a year: anything beyond that I was
expected to pay for myself.

About this time (1862) the matron informed me that on the previous day a
very aged woman had been admitted, and that she had sent her to the
infirm ward across the yard. On looking at the order I found it was
stated that she was 104. I went to see her. She was undeniably of great
age, but she still retained her faculties and conversed with me for some
time. She told me that she had lived in Chancery Lane between fifty and
sixty years, and was forty-five years old when she went there to live.
She also told me that she went down the Lane to see Nelson's funeral
procession go by, that her children and her grandchildren were dead, and
that she had been looked after lately by her great grandchildren, who
had grown tired of waiting on her, and that was why she had come into
the House. Her eyes were blue and complexion fair. She did not live long
after her admission, the change from her own airy room to the close and
at times fetid atmosphere of this overcrowded ward was too much for her
aged frame. She passed away quietly, and I remember filling up a death
certificate for 105 years.

One day, I was informed that a very distressing case had been passed
from Canterbury. It was a young woman about twenty-four. She had one
child, and was about to be confined again. It would appear that she had
married a coach-builder, who was born in St. Paul's, Covent Garden. She
told me that he was a very good, quiet man, when sober, and had been
very kind and good to her, but that when he took anything to drink he
became as one insane, and in one of his drunken fits he had knocked a
man down and killed him; that he had been tried and found guilty of
murder, and was then lying under sentence of death. I also learned that
the Guardians of Canterbury had passed her on to us, away from all her
friends. The poor creature was simply broken-hearted. She had a very bad
confinement, and remained long sick and ill. When she got better she
made an application to the Strand Board for outdoor relief. She was told
to come before the Board at the next meeting in Bow Street. It was
unfortunately a very wet night, and being thinly clad, she got wet
through, and sat in her wet clothes two hours. She also got wet on her
return journey. That night she was seized with inflammation of the
lungs, and remained for many weeks in the greatest jeopardy. Ultimately,
she got better, when I sent her to a Convalescent Home in Hertfordshire.
She was so patient and grateful that I wrote an account of her sad
story, which was published in _The Morning Star_. It evoked donations
amounting to £25. After buying her some additional clothing, I paid her
journey for self and child to Canterbury (the baby had died), handing
her as she went away some £20. The Board, at my request, allowed her
outdoor relief for a twelvemonth. Some years after, I happened to be in
Canterbury, when I found her out. She had been in the same situation
some seven years. She had supported herself and child, and had no
occasion to spend the money I had collected for her; altogether she
fully bore out the opinion I had formed of her. The reason why the
Guardian Board had acted so harshly to this young woman was this: If
they had allowed her to remain in their workhouse until after the
execution of her husband, as a widow they could not have removed her for
a twelvemonth; they therefore sent her away at once to avoid this

About two years after Mr. Catch's departure, I was surprised by a visit
from the medical officer of the Newington Workhouse. He told me that he
had called to ask me whether I could advise him what he was to do; that
Catch obstructed him in his duty, swore at him, and refused to obey his
orders. I told him to go down to the Poor Law Board, but that they might
or might not assist him. Unfortunately, at that time, Mr. Farnall was
away in Manchester, superintending the special relief arrangements in
Lancashire with regard to the Cotton Famine, and there was no one at the
Board who could or would advise him. He called on me on several
occasions subsequently to tell me of the misery he daily underwent. On
one occasion I told him to write down in a journal all instances of
obstruction, and if possible get every case verified by a witness.
Sooner or later you will catch him, I said. He followed my advice. One
day he came to me and told me he thought he had got together sufficient
evidence, and should now ask for an official inquiry. Mr. Farnall, one
of the most honourable Poor Law Inspectors the Board ever had, had just
then come back to town. I got some influence to bear on the Board, and
an inquiry was granted. It lasted some time, and Mr. Simmonds proved the
obstruction, &c., so completely, that on the last day, and when it was
evident how the case would go, Catch followed the doctor and paid nurse
out of the Board-room. They stopped in one of the day wards to discuss
the case and its probable results, when Catch went to his office and
wrote in his journal that he had surprised the pair holding improper
relations. This charge coming to the knowledge of the nurse, who was a
respectable young woman, she went at once to the physician accoucheur of
Guy's Hospital and requested that he would examine her. This he did,
when he gave her a certificate that Catch's allegation was untrue. A
special meeting of the Board having been called to investigate this
charge, it was made absolutely clear that Catch had hatched this foul
accusation. The Board immediately suspended him. The circumstances were
reported to the Poor Law Board, who called on him to resign. It will
hardly be believed that after this, Catch, mainly through the influence
of his friends at the Strand Board and the aid of the clerk, got
appointed to the Lambeth Workhouse, where for some time he tyrannized
over the subordinate officers and inmates, until at last, his cup being
full, he lost that appointment also. Hereafter I will give the
particulars of this episode, and of the notable trial in the Court of
Queen's Bench, where he attempted to clear his character and to get

For five or six years after the departure of Mr. Catch my life was a
fairly pleasant one. There was no obstruction from the master or the
matron, and as there was nothing to ask of the Board things went on
quietly, and therefore the daily duty ceased to be onerous added to
which I had several pupils whose instruction in the wards was to me a
very agreeable pastime. Here let me remark how melancholy it is that the
vast field for clinical observation and study which the sick, nursery,
and lying-in wards of large urban workhouses afford, should be utterly
thrown away. There are certain diseases which can hardly be seen
anywhere else, such as of those of young children and of aged persons,
and yet they are completely ignored.

I have said that for a time everything went on peacefully, but a rude
awakening was in store, for about the years 1862-1865, in consequence of
widespread distress in the metropolis, persons were admitted beyond the
capacity of the House to hold them. This necessitated a representation
to the Board, and, as a consequence, a revival of the antagonism from
the so-called economical members of the Board, who charged me with being
too squeamish, and with having brought the influx on myself by being
too indulgent to the sick. The hostility went so far with one Guardian
who considered me so very troublesome that he put a notice on the agenda
to reduce my salary. This was renewed by him from time to time, indeed,
whenever I made a representation to the Board on this subject.

That there was abundant cause for such representations will be
understood when it is stated that, in consequence of the overcrowding
and the heated and vitiated atmosphere caused thereby, cases of fever
induced therefrom were constantly cropping up, and it was one of my
perplexities how to deal with them. In those days there were no such
facilities as now exist for sending fever cases away to separate
asylums, and we had to do the best we could.

Having, in 1863, had a succession of boys affected with fever sent in
from St. Anne's, Soho, I inquired of the relieving officer from where
they came, whereupon he informed me that a Mr. Williams, a clergyman in
Porter Street, Soho, had opened a home for friendless boys. On
interviewing this clergyman, I told him that I had called to protest
against his sending these fever cases to the Workhouse, there being no
room for them. He replied by asking me what he was to do with them, as
at that time he had some four or five boys down with fever; and then he
took me into an old, disused slaughter-house, where, on some straw, I
saw these lads lying ill. Before leaving him I arranged that he should
go over the House and see for himself that there were no vacant beds. On
the morning appointed he came, bringing with him a person whom he
represented to be his secretary, and who he asked to be allowed to take
with him. No objection being made, he accompanied us. I was somewhat
surprised at the bearing of this so-called secretary, and still more so
at his conduct in the House, when we went through the wards. I thought
he was a very intelligent gentleman, and wondered at him occupying the
position of secretary to Mr. Williams, at say, £1 a week. I satisfied
Mr. Williams that I could not continue to take in his numerous waifs and
strays, and on leaving, his companion parted from me with many
expressions of thanks for my courtesy in allowing him to accompany me. I
had not the least idea who he was, or his name, but I felt pretty sure
that he must be a gentleman. It transpired subsequently that he was no
other than Mr. J. Alexander Shaw Stewart, and my chance acquaintance
became in after years one of my kindest and truest friends. As a result
of this interview with Mr. Williams a school was opened, called
afterwards the Newport Market Refuge Industrial School, and for several
years it was under my medical charge. During the years I was connected
with that establishment I never had a case of fever of any kind,
although the school was located in a densely crowded and repulsively
degraded neighbourhood. It was a striking instance of what could be done
in keeping schools free from epidemic disease, if only the persons
having control of them adopt, and strictly carry out, judicious sanitary
arrangements. During my period of office I made the acquaintance of the
Duke of Westminster, Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone, the latter of whom was a
frequent visitor there, as well as many ladies of rank, &c.

About this time there came an urgent request to go to the House. On my
arrival I found a young German woman near her confinement who was in a
state of great mental distress. On asking for an explanation, I was
informed that the day before a gentlemanly-looking person had called at
the house and asked to see the matron. To her he stated that he was a
medical man, and had been commissioned by the friends of one of his
patients to look out for some healthy young woman near her confinement
who might be engaged as a wet nurse by a lady under his care. The master
brought down to him this girl, when he instructed her to send her next
day to his consulting-room, where the lady's friends might see her. She
accordingly went. Shortly after her arrival there she rushed out of the
house, stating that she had been insulted by the doctor. Police aid
coming to her assistance, the doctor's residence was visited, with the
result that he was taken into custody, and brought before the
magistrate, who remanded him without bail for inquiries to be made. The
publicity of the case led to the bringing of other charges of a similar
character, and he was ultimately committed for trial. Having been called
upon to attend the German girl, I was naturally called as a witness, and
was subsequently subpoenaed to attend at the Old Bailey. I found four
other young women there in a similar predicament, all in charge of a
police constable, and for three days I spent my whole time in their
company, for whenever I got up to walk anywhere the women and the
constable got up also and followed me. The situation was suggestive, but
by no means pleasant. On the Thursday morning I was informed by the
prosecution that I might go away, as the prisoner, who turned out to be
a man of good family and an officer in the army, had pleaded guilty to a
common assault, &c., &c. As the girl's history was somewhat interesting
I sent an account of it to _The Times_ newspaper. It was as follows:
She had been living at Chicago with her two brothers, when they received
a letter stating that their mother in Germany was very ill, and begged
that her daughter would come home. She started immediately, but on
arriving at her native town found that her mother was dead. She
thereupon sold all the effects, and with upwards of £100 started back
again for Chicago. She passed through London to Liverpool to take
passage for New York, but the machinery of the steamer breaking down
when two days out, the captain returned for repairs. She had made the
acquaintance of a young Frenchman on board, who finding she had money,
made love to her, and induced her to go back to London and become his
wife. After living with her until all the money was gone, he deserted
her, and being without friends, she had to come into the House. My
letter appearing in _The Times_, some £45 was sent me, which sufficed to
enable me to send her and her child to her brother in Chicago. I
provided her with an outfit, and arranged with the captain of the
steamer to take charge of her, and send one of his trustworthy officers
to see her to the station in New York for Chicago, and parting with her
to put into her hands the balance remaining. Some months afterwards I
had a letter from the captain, stating that he had carried out my
request, and had finally given her the £25 or thereabouts. There was
every reason to believe that one of the subscribers was Her Majesty the
Queen, though it was not so distinctly stated in a letter I received
from a gentleman connected with the Court.

In the early part of 1865 the Guardians appointed a superintendent
nurse. She was a young, and very respectable-looking woman. The
Guardians had been moved to do this by the evidence of Miss Twining
before the Select Committee, and by the general feeling excited by the
revelations made in Gibson's case in St. Giles's, and that of Timothy
Daley in the Holborn, Union. In the winter of 1863 and 1864, and again
in 1864 and 1865, as also in 1865 and 1866 the admissions had been so
many, and the crowding so great, as to tax the resources of the
establishment to the utmost, notwithstanding that I had moved the sick
ward to the top of the building, and gained additional cubic space by
removing the ceiling and re-ceiling the rafters; but I could not by any
contrivance increase the area. The beds therefore were placed so close
together that the patients had to get out at the end of their beds,
there being no possibility of getting out at the side. It was a task
beyond this young woman's strength to effectually supervise the numerous
patients, but she could check some of the graver abuses connected with
pauper nursing. This she did to the best of her ability. In the same
spring that she was appointed--that of 1865--the late Dr. Francis Anstie
called on me. He said he was deputed by the late Dr. Wakley to call and
state that he had decided to appoint a commission for the purpose of
investigating the state of London workhouses, and he thought I could
suggest the best course to follow to obtain admission to them. I told
him I would introduce him to the Chairman of the Board, who alone had
the power to grant permission to a stranger to enter the Workhouse,
unless special application had been made to Board, and leave given. He
called on the Chairman, who gave him a letter to the master, authorizing
his admission. Before he left, I told Dr. Anstie that when he went over
the House I would accompany him. Some short time after, he wrote, making
an appointment. I showed him through the whole House, pointing out the
defects and shortcomings, and told him of my continued efforts to get
the place improved, and of the determined hostility of the majority of
the Board to any efforts I had made. I also showed him a list of the
fever cases I had attended, and how constantly fever was developed when
the numbers increased and the overcrowding was greatest. Dr. Anstie took
careful notes of what I showed him, as the sequel proved. Some month or
so after, I had a note from him, asking me to look in that week's
_Lancet_ for the report of his visit. I did so; when I found that he had
exposed the rotten condition of things with marvellous clearness and
fidelity, but as he had referred to me and my efforts to clear out this
Augean stable, I was perfectly convinced that the least intelligent
element of the Board would be incited by their clerk to charge me with
having written the article in question. As I anticipated, this came to
pass, for I heard that so it had been said at the Board meeting, and in
consequence, a most insulting resolution was adopted, in which I was
directly charged with trying to bring the Guardians--'who were my
masters'--into contempt. So angry was their language and so bitter their
hostility, that Dr. Anstie wrote to the Board, stating that he had been
permitted by their Chairman to go over the House, and that the
observations he had made were his own, and that I had not seen a line of
his manuscript, or knew of his report, until it appeared in print; he
further challenged the Board to show where, in his description, he had
departed from the truth. The storm he had raised was, after a while,
allayed. Dr. Anstie continued to visit other workhouses, the condition
of which he similarly described. These reports, which appeared in _The
Lancet_, were copied into, and commented upon, in sundry daily and
weekly journals, and gradually produced a feeling of intense public
indignation. Dr. Anstie had acted so generously towards me in screening
me from the hostility of the worst elements of the Board, that I
arranged a dinner-party, to meet and discuss workhouse abuses. Among the
guests was Mr. John Storr, of King Street, Covent Garden, who was one of
the wealthiest, as he was one of the most respectable, members of the
Strand Board, and who, since his election two years before this, had
proved to be my most able advocate and friend. When Dr. Anstie arrived,
he brought with him Mr. Ernest Hart, whom he introduced as one of the
staff of _The Lancet_, and as one interested in the question of
workhouse administration. After dinner a discussion took place as
regards the general condition of these establishments.

Ultimately it was arranged that a conference should be held at Mr.
Storr's offices, King Street, Covent Garden, at a time hereafter to be
named. Our dinner-party was held in December, 1865. In the early part of
January, Dr. Anstie, Mr. Hart, and I, met by appointment at Mr.
Storr's, when our discussion was resumed. At first it was proposed that
we should call a public meeting and denounce the system, when I pointed
out that if we only did that the agitation would soon come to an end,
and therefore it would be better to form an Association for the purpose
of more thoroughly enlightening the public. My suggestion was adopted.
Mr. John Storr generously offered to put down £100 to float the
Association. He also offered to become its treasurer, and to give us the
free use of one of his offices, in which the meetings of the Association
could be held. This meeting took place on a Thursday evening, and as
_The Lancet_ came out next day, Mr. Hart left us and went down to _The
Lancet_ office, to announce in the paper the formation of the society.
At our meeting it was also arranged that we should respectively write to
those we knew and ask them to join our Association. I wrote, among
others, to Mr. Shaw Stewart, who at once joined us, and to Miss Twining,
and to many other ladies and gentlemen who had been engaged in works of
benevolence. The Association prospered beyond our wildest anticipations,
and we were speedily joined by Earl Carnarvon, Earl Grosvenor, the
Archbishop of York, &c.; whilst money came in freely. Shortly after the
formation of the Association, of which, in conjunction with Dr. Anstie
and Mr. Hart, I was one of the honorary secretaries; Mr. Farnall, the
Metropolitan Poor Law Inspector, wrote to me, stating that he had been
deputed by Mr. Charles P. Villiers, the President of the Poor Law Board,
to offer his services in giving information to the youthful Association,
and that he had written to me, as I was the only honorary secretary he
knew. Mr. Farnall subsequently attended the meetings of the committee,
and afforded us much valuable information. No use was ever made of Mr.
John Storr's office, as all subsequent meetings of the Association were
held in Mr. Hart's house, in Wimpole Street.

In the month of May, 1866, Miss Beaton, the superintendent nurse,
informed me that she intended to resign her situation, and apply for
another as a nurse at a general hospital; at the same time asking me
whether I would give her a reference. Whilst expressing my regret that
she was going, I readily promised to do all I could for her, and with
that object gave her a letter of introduction to Dr. Anstie, assistant
physician to the Westminster Hospital, and to Mr. Hart, who was then
connected with St. Mary's Hospital. Dr. Anstie took her name and
address, and promised to do what he could for her; Mr. Hart asked her to
sit down, and proceeded to question her on the various matters
connected with the Strand Workhouse I had mentioned at the committee
meetings, &c. Ultimately he dismissed her, but not until he had a
promise from her that she would write down all her experience of the
wrong-doing she had witnessed at the Strand. She did this. On getting
her manuscript statement he sent it to Earl Carnarvon, one of the
committee, and asked him to apply to Mr. Villiers for an official
inquiry. I had not the remotest knowledge that anything of the kind had
been done, nor had my other colleague, Dr. Anstie. In the early part of
June Mr. Hart told me that there was to be an official inquiry into the
management and the condition of the Strand Workhouse, and that I should
be called as a witness, but he did not tell me how it had been brought
about. A few days after I received an official intimation that such
inquiry would be held, and that my attendance would be required. I had
hoped that the inquiry would be conducted by the Metropolitan Inspector,
Mr. Farnall; but it was not so. Mr. Fleming sent another member of the
staff. The inquiry was held, the first witness called being Miss Beaton.
She astonished me by the extent and character of her revelations, of
some part of which I was an eye-witness, and therefore knew to be true.
Her examination lasted all day. Next morning, the evidence she had
given appeared in all the papers, which commented thereon. On the second
day I was called. On taking my seat Mr. Caine said, "Oh! we have met
before;" I did not know where. I had not long been under examination
before Dr. Anstie, who was in the room, came behind my chair, and said,
"Take care how you answer questions; this inspector does not mean fairly
by you; he is trying to put you in a false position." Forewarned by
this, I simply answered his questions, and parried those which were
irrelevant and misleading. The next day my evidence, in full appeared in
every paper, and all the leading journals denounced the Board of
Guardians for their management of the House. It was unfortunate that my
Board should have been selected, inasmuch as nearly all the workhouses
in the metropolis were in very much the same condition. After the close
of the inquiry Mr. R. B. Caine returned to Whitehall, and made the
remarkable statement in his official report that the condition of the
House was due to my not having made proper representations to the
Guardians. I subsequently heard that on his report being submitted to
the President of the Board, it was altogether set aside by him, and that
he wrote the report himself. It had, however, come to my knowledge that
Mr. Caine had delivered himself of this view; when I wrote to the Poor
Law Board complaining of his injustice, and pointed out that for some
three years he had, as Metropolitan Inspector during the time Mr.
Farnall was away in Manchester, visited the Strand, and that he had
always entered in the visitors' book that he was completely satisfied
with the state of the House. I am happy to say that Mr. R. B. Caine got
very little credit out of the whole transaction, for his report was
severely criticized by the press for its transparent bias. Just at this
time a circular letter was sent by the Poor Law Board to all the
workhouse medical officers--some forty in number--in the metropolis. It
was issued evidently with the view of entrapping these gentlemen into
contradictory answers to the questions which were submitted to them. It
was clearly necessary to take immediate action. I therefore sent a
letter to each of them, asking them to meet me at the Freemasons'
Tavern, Great Queen's Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields. The majority of them
came. Having been voted into the chair, I pointed out to them what was
the object of the letter, and earnestly urged that we should agree as to
the form of reply. This view was adopted, and the answers as agreed upon
were sent by all present to the Poor Law Board. On the same occasion it
was arranged that an Association should be established of metropolitan
workhouse medical officers, so that we might be prepared to deal
promptly with any similar departmental trickery. This was done, and I
was elected as the first president, an office which through various
changes I have occupied to this day. The Association was, during the two
following years, enabled to play an important part in the settlement of
many vexed questions in the administration of workhouse medical relief,
which, without the practical knowledge of medical men, would have been
wholly left in the hands of the officials at the Poor Law Board, who at
this time exhibited a singular unwillingness to face the facts. My
official life after this was a particularly unpleasant one, inasmuch as
I was credited with having asked for the inquiry, and having resolved to
state that which would bring "my masters" into contempt. I should have
survived all this misrepresentation, but unfortunately just at this
juncture the Liberal Government was overthrown, and the Derby-Disraeli
premiership was established. Earl Derby speedily pointed out that he
intended to deal effectually with the scandal that had been brought to
light in connection with workhouse infirmary administration, and with
that view he had selected Mr. Gathorne Hardy--now Lord Cranborne--as
the President of the Poor Law Board, he being in Lord Derby's judgment
one of the fittest men in Her Majesty's dominions to put things
straight. Mr. Hardy up to that date had been principally known as a
Chairman at Quarter Sessions, and an _ex-officio_ Guardian of a Kentish
Board of Guardians. One of the first official acts of this gentleman was
to punish Mr. Henry Farnall for his conduct in aiding the Workhouse
Infirmary Association. He was banished from London and sent to the
northern counties. As Mr. Farnall's residence was at Blackheath, where
his wife and children were living, this act of Mr. Hardy's was a serious
inconvenience to him. The next thing done was to appoint Dr. Markham as
a Poor Law Inspector and so-called medical adviser. Dr. Markham up to
this date had been the editor of what was at that time an obscure
journal. He was not known to have ever been associated with any sanitary
work, nor to have seen the inside of a workhouse in his life, and yet
out of all the able physicians at the time in the metropolis he was
selected. The popular explanation given for this appointment was that he
spent the larger portion of the day in looking out of the windows of the
Carlton, Pall Mall, and that Mr. Hardy, making his acquaintance, gave
him something to do. He fully justified the selection thus made, as
will be shown hereafter, as he became in every sense one of the most
difficult officials of the Board.

At this time the permanent officials, notably Dr. Edward Smith,
promulgated the heresy that the area and cubic space suggested by our
Association for the housing of the sick was excessive; indeed, that the
area did not so much matter if the roof of the sick ward was carried up
high enough. These and other statements having been promulgated by the
staff, a meeting of the Workhouse Medical Officers Association was
called, to take the subject into consideration. We had the aid of the
late Dr. Parkes, the eminent Professor of Hygiene, at Netley Hospital,
as well as of my two colleagues in the secretaryship of our Association.
Conjointly, we drew up a paper stating what was in our view the minimum
area and the minimum cubic space that should be sanctioned. This action
forced the hand of Mr. Hardy, and caused him to issue a cubic space
commission to determine this question.

Shortly after the formation of the Conservative Government a numerous
and influential deputation, consisting of Earl Shaftesbury, the
Archbishop of York, Earl Grosvenor, and many others, waited on Mr.
Hardy, when representations were made to him urging extensive
alterations on the then system. I was so hurt at the intrigues going on
at the Poor Law Board and the attempt of Mr. R. B. Caine to make me
solely responsible for the condition of the Strand Workhouse, that I
availed myself of the opportunity to tell the President that in any
scheme he might lay down for an alteration, I hoped that he would be
guided by his own judgment, and not by that of the permanent officials,
who would most assuredly lead him astray. This plain speaking was not
particularly relished by those against whom it was mainly directed; it
doubtless intensified ill feeling against me. I also handed to him a
series of Resolutions drawn up by the Council of our Poor Law Medical
Officers' Association protesting against the misstatements that had been
propagated by Dr. E. Smith, Poor Law Inspector, against the Metropolitan
Workhouse medical officers.

Immediately subsequent to this our Workhouse Association engaged itself
in drawing up a scheme for a general dietary for all London workhouses,
which differed in every establishment; in some being, as at the Strand,
when I first went there, niggardly in the extreme, while in others it
was absurdly liberal. This question had engaged my attention many years
before, and when I introduced an amended dietary at the Strand I was
often twitted by the economical element of the Board to the effect that
my liberality in the way of dietary was the reason why the House had
filled so much, paupers being attracted to the Union by the prospect of
being better fed by the liberality I had evinced. This allegation was
absurdly unjust. Years before, in 1863, I had, at the time I amended the
dietary at the Strand, addressed a letter to the Department urging that
they should issue a general order to the London Boards of Guardians
enclosing a copy of a uniform dietary to be used in all Metropolitan
workhouses (acute cases of sickness alone excepted). Although this
suggestion had the approval of Mr. Farnall, who invited me down to the
Board to talk the matter over with him, it was set aside. Mr. Fleming,
the secretary, objected to everything of a controversial character.
About this time, understanding that Mr. Hardy was engaged in drafting
his Metropolitan Poor Bill, I wrote to him on several occasions; one of
the subjects I urged on him was the advisability of turning the vast
field for clinical observations which our Workhouse infirmaries afforded
to some practical purpose by throwing the wards open to medical
students, pointing out what had been done at the Marylebone Workhouse
Infirmary some thirty years before; I also urged that the hospitals he
was about to establish should be officered by a resident medical man or
resident medical men, but that in no instance should they be left alone
in their control, but that their work should be superintended by an
extern physician. I understood that my view was overruled through the
opposition of certain physicians who thought that the educational
opportunities thereby proposed would interfere with the voluntary
hospitals they were connected with and the students attached to them.

I also pointed out how desirable it was that pauper schools should be
consolidated, and that permanent young pauper children should be
separated from those who were constantly going in and out of workhouses.
Mr. Hardy always replied personally and with marked courtesy to the
letters I sent him. In the session of 1867 Mr. Hardy brought in his
Metropolitan Poor Bill. In his speech introducing it he referred to my
evidence before the Select Committee, and said that he had resolved to
adopt the views I had advocated, namely, the provision of all medicines
and appliances at the cost of the rates; but although the Bill passed
with great facility and amidst general approval it was a very long time,
in some cases four, five, and six years, before the dispensary clauses
were carried out. The Bill had hardly become law before Mr. Hardy was
transferred to the War Office and Earl Devon became President. This
nobleman when Lord Courtenay, Poor Law Inspector, or Lord Courtenay,
Parliamentary Secretary, had entirely supported the worst parts of the
old system of administration and control. He always yielded to Boards of
Guardians, and, when President, entirely deferred to the permanent
staff. During the short time that he held office--for the election of
1868 shortly afterwards occurred and with it a strong reaction--he
instituted a new order of officials at Gwydyr House--to wit, _Assistant

Of course it was not to be expected that the evidence given by me at the
official inquiry would fail to intensify the bitter hostility of a
section of the Board towards me, especially as the clerk to the
Guardians never lost an opportunity of putting my conduct before them in
the worst light. Consequently, shortly after my evidence had been given
an attempt was made to displace me. The Guardian who moved my
resignation was a lodging-house keeper in St. Clement's Danes. Having
been told that this Guardian contemplated this procedure, I forwarded a
letter to the Board in which I gave an outline of all I had done and had
attempted to do during the ten years I had been the medical officer,
the amount of antagonism I had provoked, and the various resolutions
which had been adopted as the result of my endeavours. It was not very
pleasant reading for some of them to hear, as there were several still
there who had taken an active part in thwarting me at all times, and
this letter thoroughly answered them. In spite of all that was alleged,
when the resolution was submitted to the vote it was found that I had
just as many friends as enemies, and therefore the motion was not
carried. I do not know whether at that time the intrigue between the
clerk and certain permanent officials of the Poor Law Board had
commenced, but it took place not a very long time afterwards, as I found
out some twenty months after.

One result of the evidence I had given as regards the over-crowding was
this: I was empowered to send some of the acutely sick to the voluntary
hospitals, and I did so to a limited degree, but my action here was
again met by the hostility of a section of this Board. It was suggested
that I had sent them away to get rid of the trouble of attending to
them, and it was gravely proposed that I should have the cost of the
cabs in which they were removed deducted from my salary.

As an illustration of the mode adopted by some Boards to annoy their
medical officers I subjoin the following: In June, 1867, a person was
sent into the Strand Workhouse by the district medical officer, insane.
In conjunction with a Justice of the Peace, I examined him, and we
certified as to his mental condition, whereupon he was sent to Hanwell.
Three weeks after, he was discharged from the asylum, not because he had
recovered, but through an informality in the certificate given by the
justice. As this latter gentleman was out of town, I took the lunatic
before Mr. Vaughan, at Bow Street, who, after examining him for a minute
or so, threw up the certificate, and said he would not sign it, the man
was not mad. I again implored him to fill up the certificate, as the man
had been only sent back to the House through an informality in the
certificate. As he again refused, I said, "Then I have to request that
Sir Thomas Henry be apprised of the case." This was done, and Sir Thomas
advised that he should go back to the House for another week. That
afternoon the lunatic was interviewed by three of the Board, who
pronounced the opinion that he was of sound mind. Hearing of this
irregularity, I wrote to the Commissioners in Lunacy, and asked them to
see the man. They attended at the House and examined him, and directed
his removal to Hanwell without delay. That night he escaped by scaling a
high wall, and was not captured for three days, when the police caught
him. In the following September he was discharged cured, when I received
a letter from the clerk, informing me thereof, and stating that the
Board was of opinion that I had been too hasty in sending the man away,
and that too by an unusual course. I immediately wrote to the
Commissioners in Lunacy, enclosing the clerk's letter, and asked their
opinion, when the secretary, Mr. C. P. Phillips, wrote to me stating
that at the time the Commissioners saw him he was clearly insane, and
that the Commissioners approved of my action under the exceptional
circumstances of the case. I sent their reply to the Board. The evening
the clerk read my letter to the Board, the man's wife made an
application for his re-admission to the House, as he had a relapse of
his insanity. This man went into and out of the asylum on several
occasions subsequently. Whenever he was at liberty he made me aware of
it by coming to my house between 1 and 2 a.m., and ringing my night-bell
violently. Of course I had to put up with the infliction, as the man was
not in his right mind. This annoyance went on for years, and only ceased
when I left Soho.

The Guardians also authorized my sending some of the infirm women to
Edmonton, where the school for the pauper children was situated. This
school was a favourite place of resort for the worst members of the
Board, and very comfortable parties were kept up there at the expense of
the ratepayers. A certain portion of the Guardians went down fortnightly
in carriages to inspect the schools, and every scheme was adopted by
those not on the School Committee to be asked to go out of their turn by
those who were entitled to go. It meant an outing in the country, and a
splendid dinner with wine, &c., and tea, free of cost, to all who went

Of course the resident officers were always in high favour with the
majority of the Board, and to arraign them or their conduct was a
hopeless affair, as the least competent element immediately stood
forward to shield them.

In the September of 1867 a young girl was admitted, suffering with
rheumatic fever; she remained ill some time, but towards the end of the
month she recovered sufficiently to be sent to a Convalescent Home, but
as the autumn was a cold one I decided that she should be sent to
Edmonton, and to secure her considerate treatment I wrote a special
certificate, which was addressed to the matron, in which I stated what
had been the matter with her, and begged that she should be kept warm
and not employed in scrubbing or any damp occupation.

About a month afterwards I found this girl again in the women's sick
ward in Cleveland Street with a severe relapse of her rheumatic attack.
On inquiry I was told by the girl that shortly after she had gone to
Edmonton the matron came into her ward and told her to go to the
laundry. On her reminding her that she was still weak, and that the
London doctor had directed that she was to be kept warm, the matron
abused her and again ordered her there. She went. In a very short time
she broke down; the matron, however, persisted in keeping her at work,
but at last she became so ill that she was compelled to put her to bed.
On the school doctor seeing her it was decided to send her back, to
town, some eight miles distant. She was sent in a tilted cart and very
imperfectly clad--that, too, on a very cold day. It was altogether so
improper a proceeding that I complained to the Board, who made inquiries
of the matron, &c., who of course denied the facts _in toto_. This false
answer was sent to me. I was so enraged that I drew up another complaint
and sent it to the Poor Law Board and asked for an inquiry. Dr. Markham
was deputed to go through the form of an investigation, which he
interpreted by going, unknown to me, to the sick ward, asking one or two
questions of the girl, and sending for the matron at Edmonton to come to
his private house in Harley Street. I did not know this at the time. He
then reported that I had made a "frivolous and vexatious complaint." I
will leave my readers to determine whether this procedure was not a
mockery of a Departmental inquiry. This report, thus obtained, was sent
to the Guardians, whereupon a man, who had misconducted himself at the
official inquiry by coarsely asking "whether mesenteric disease was not
something to eat," moved that I be suspended from my office. This was
adopted by the Board, only four of the members supporting me, the fact
being that the Board had changed very considerably at the preceding
election, some of the Board ejected from office two years before having
unfortunately returned again. Of course it was necessary for the Board
to report this suspension to the Poor Law Board. The clerk asked
permission to absent himself from duty for a time. He took with him the
minutes of the Board for the preceding twelve years, and busied himself
with extracting all the hostile resolutions which the Board had adopted
against me, frequently at his suggestion, in return for my continuous
efforts to cleanse their augean stable. I do not know who had distinctly
intimated to the clerk that it was desirable to get rid of me, but the
mover of my suspension stated that he knew the Poor Law Board wanted to
get me discharged. That was admitted some time after by Sir Michael
Hicks Beach in a conversation he had with a medical gentleman living
near him in Gloucestershire.

Some month after my suspension a copy of the clerk's extracts was sent
me by the Poor Law Board, and I was asked what I had to say to it. I
acknowledged its receipt, and asked for an official inquiry. This
request was ignored, although it was suggested by a minority of the
Board, by the Vestry of St. Anne's, Soho, who unanimously supported me,
and by many influential inhabitants of the parish in which I had lived
and worked. That my suspension would have been followed by the Poor Law
Board calling on me to resign my office, without delay, would have been
certain, but the President, Earl Devon, was away, although the most
terrible distress prevailed that winter in East London. He had gone off
to the South of France, and there he remained some three months. On his
return, he at once put me out of doubt by removing me from my office.
It is very curious, but true, that when I turned on this Department and
stated my own case, he made the remark to a friend, who repeated it to
me, that he was surprised at my hostility to the Board, as in calling
for my resignation no reflection had been made by the Department on my
character. At this time a general order was issued by the Department,
imposing, without payment, additional and onerous obligations upon
Workhouse medical officers. It was to the effect that they should make,
from time to time, a return of all that was amiss in their respective
workhouses to the Board of Guardians, the doing of which, on my own
account, had led to my differences with the Strand Board. It had always
been understood that this was one of the duties of the Inspectors, but
it was attempted to throw the obligation on the doctors. After Earl
Devon resigned, our Council had an interview with Mr. Goschen at the
House of Commons, who promised an important modification of this unjust

When my compulsory resignation was called for, it was decided by the
Rev. Harry Jones, the late Dr. Anstie and others, to call a meeting of
the all but moribund Infirmaries Association at Mr. Hart's house, to
discuss the matter, and arrange for action. The meeting was addressed
by both of these gentlemen, and by several others, and the action of the
Department was severely censured by all who were present, except one
person. Sir John Simeon, M.P., undertook to put a question in the House,
and to move for papers. In due course the question was asked, when Sir
Michael Hicks Beach made reply that the Board did not desire to make any
reflection on my character, but that I had been called on to resign as I
could not get on with the Board of Guardians.

The insufficiency of this answer will be understood when I state that it
had been already decided to break up the Strand Board by taking away St.
Anne's and joining it to St. James's, in order to make the Westminster
Union, and by adding St. Martin to the remnant of the Strand--thereby
making it a perfectly new Union.

I have stated that it was arranged at the meeting of the Workhouse
Infirmaries Association, called to consider the action of the Department
in requesting me to send in my resignation, that the papers connected
with the subject should be moved for in the House. This was done, and in
due course they were presented. On their appearance, _The Lancet_
commented as follows thereon--

"At last, after months of delay, the Parliamentary Papers concerning
the enforced resignation by Dr. Rogers of his post as medical officer of
the Strand Union have been published. They amply justify everything we
have said as to the unwarrantable character of the action of the Poor
Law Board and of the Strand Board of Guardians in the whole affair.

"It is impossible for us to afford space for a detailed analysis of
these papers, but we beg to draw attention to the following damning
facts. 1. The evidence upon the whole case consists (_a_) of a series of
quotations by the Guardians, or rather by a party among the Guardians,
hostile to Dr. Rogers, from minutes and other documents extending over
many years, these extracts being selected without any reference to
contemporary facts which would throw light upon them, and (_b_) of
utterly gratuitous and unfounded insinuations that the various leading
articles in the general press which were written apropos of the
notorious scandals at the Strand were written by Dr. Rogers and his
friends. 2. That although Dr. Rogers (backed by a most respectable
minority of the Guardians and by the Vestry of St. Anne's, Soho)
protested that it was impossible to deal with these charges without an
open inquiry, such inquiry was refused by the Poor Law Board. 3. As
regards the Edmonton scandal which was the cause of the dispute which
led immediately to the suspension of Dr. Rogers, the printed evidence
distinctly bears out the justice of Dr. Rogers' allegations. 4.
Nevertheless Dr. Markham reported to the Poor Law Board that his
inquiries had proved these charges to be false. He does not, however,
venture to specify the nature of the inquiry by which he disproved
charges which, with unblushing effrontery, Mr. Fleming says were made on
the unsupported testimony of a pauper, but which are now seen to be
absolutely corroborated by two respectable witnesses (one of them a
medical man), besides the direct observation of Dr. Rogers; and either
Dr. Markham did not take, or the Poor Law Board has suppressed, the
evidence of at least one other impartial witness, the master of the
Strand Workhouse, which we have reason to believe would have absolutely
settled the matter in Dr. Rogers' favour.

"It is well-nigh incredible, but we have heard it on authority which we
cannot discredit, that although the so-called inquiry on which the
Medical Inspector of the Poor Law Board based the unfavourable report,
which gave the Strand Guardians courage to make their onslaught upon Dr.
Rogers, included an examination at Dr. Markham's private house of the
Edmonton officials chiefly inculpated by Dr. Rogers' charges. Dr.
Markham never asked Dr. Rogers one single question. Volumes of comment
could not add anything to the ugly emphasis of this fact."

Sir Michael Hicks Beach has been recently afflicted. I would ask him if
he does not consider that his sufferings would have been intensified if
his sleep had been disturbed by the noise of carpet-beating--if he had
been waited on by infirm and drunken women, and broken-down potmen--if
the air he breathed had been poisoned by the dust from the beating of
carpets, and utterly vitiated by over-crowding? And yet, because I had
protested against this hideous wrong-doing, and had done my best to get
it altered, he had to get up in the House of Commons and do his best to
justify the action of the Board.

The Department thought I was disposed of; it was not long before I
showed them the contrary, as some of them did not subsequently hesitate
to admit.

I have stated that it had been decided, owing to the all but unanimous
application of the ratepayers of St. Anne's, Soho, to the Poor Law
Board, to take that parish out of the Strand Union and join it to St.
James's, so as to constitute the Westminster Union, and within a very
brief space of time after my compulsory resignation this was done. As
there was no returning officer for the Union, the Poor Law Board
directed that the Vestry clerks of each parish should act as such for
this time, consequently all books and papers relating to St. Anne's had
to be handed over by the clerk, of Peterborough notoriety, who was the
friend of Catch, when a notable discovery was made, to wit, that the
proxy book, as it was called, was altogether illegal, and had been so
for years, as by the efflux of time the power to vote by proxy in most
instances had expired, and yet this clerk had gone on year after year
issuing voting papers to persons, though he must have known that they
had no right to vote. We had often wondered how it happened that we
could not oust the Guardians who sat for St. Anne's: they had been
returned by illegal proxy votes for years. Although the Guardians who
had recently represented St. Anne's in the old Strand Union had lost the
kindly aid of the clerk, it was so necessary to some of them that they
should still be Guardians, that they again got themselves nominated,
only to meet with a unanimous rejection on the part of the ratepayers,
as the following letter from an ex-Guardian for St. Anne's, Soho, who
was a supporter of Dr. Rogers, but precluded from again standing through
serious illness, of which he subsequently died, will show--

     "TO THE EDITOR OF _The Daily News_.


     "SIR,--It will be gratifying to the friends of Dr. Rogers, who was
     suspended by the Board for his continued advocacy of the rights of
     the sick poor, to know that at the election of Guardians of St.
     Anne's, Soho, which took place on Saturday last, the whole of those
     who voted for his suspension, &c., were rejected by an overwhelming
     majority of ratepayers.

     "I am, Sir,

     "Yours obediently,


     "81, DEAN STREET,

     "_April 11, 1868_."

The story of two of these men I will here relate. The first had been
appointed Assessed Tax Collector for St. Anne's, Soho, but two or three
years after my resignation of the Strand he was discovered to be a
defaulter to some hundreds of pounds, which his sureties had to make up.
He was one of the most active of my opponents. The second had commenced
life as a milkman. Very shortly afterwards he began to take tenement
houses in the worst part of St. Anne's, Soho, which he let out from
garret to cellar to the very poor. His lodgers lived under the most
insanitary conditions, and my local knowledge induced me always to
protest against this man as a Guardian of the poor. He was always the
most energetic of my opponents at the Strand Board. At last retribution
came upon him. It was in this wise: he was a freemason, and, though very
illiterate, he had managed to obtain a high position in the masonic
brotherhood, so much so that he was deputed to preside as the returning
officer in an important election. There were two candidates, one a
Guardian of the Strand Union, who was his personal friend--in fact, that
very person who had recommended the broken-down pot-man as one of my
nurses--the other was to him a comparative stranger.

After the ballot had been taken, this returning officer gave the
election to his friend by such a majority of voting papers that the
unsuccessful candidate, who had been promised support to a large extent,
suspected foul play, and made an application to the Prince of Wales, as
Grand Master, to order a scrutiny. His Royal Highness assented, and
directed the Earl of Carnarvon to hold it, when it came out clearly that
this ex-Guardian of St. Anne's, Soho, had knowingly made a false return,
and he was sentenced to a deprivation of all his offices in the
brotherhood, and exclusion from his Lodge for three years. He was at
this time holding various offices in St. Giles, also in St. Pancras, but
the different parochial Boards' requested him to send in his
resignation forthwith, as they refused any longer to associate with him
or allow him to remain a member of their respective Boards.

Here let me remark that there is no occupation that can be followed at
which so much money can be made as by the system adopted by some
speculators of taking houses in poor localities and letting them out in
single rooms to the humbler classes. To get therefrom all the benefit
possible you must be absolutely heartless and unprincipled. If the
wretched tenants do not pay their rent weekly, they must go out--and do
go! Having, after their weekly collections, much spare time on their
hands, these men often get on to Boards of Guardians and frequently on
to the District Boards as well: at the first they are always present
when outdoor relief is given, which they strongly advocate as a means
whereby the rent may be more readily secured; secondly, on the District
Boards, where they are always at hand when the Inspector of Nuisances
and of insanitary tenement houses makes his report. They generally try
to be on the best of terms with this latter official, their scheme being
to minimize the character of their reports, and to minimize what is
required to be done, as it saves their pockets. One of these persons,
who had some three hundred of these houses, was fined by the magistrate
for neglecting to keep his houses in a sanitary condition. I had the
honour of his permanent hostility. He was, at the time of being fined,
not only a member of the Board, but of the Health Committee also. When I
was a member of the Strand Board of Works I carried a resolution that
the name of the owner of these tenements should be always included in
the Inspector's Report. In my deliberate judgment, all persons of this
class should be disqualified from sitting on a Board of Guardians, or on
any District Board. The same class of middlemen are to be found in all
large towns; they are the most dangerous members of the body politic,
and should be rigorously treated as such. The person I have before
referred to, was not only a member of the Strand Board of Guardians but
a member of the District Board also. He was also on that of St. Giles,
and St. Pancras. In all these places, and districts, he had tenement

It having been my habit to go to the Workhouse infirmary for twelve
years early each morning, I found my time at first hang somewhat heavily
on my hands, but after a short while I made up my mind what to do. I
resolved to watch the action of the Department, and to do my best to
make the permanent officials do their duty, so far as my observation
could aid me. With that object in view, I arranged for an aggregate
meeting of the profession, at the Freemason's Tavern, to discuss the
composition of the so-called Board at Whitehall, and the grievances of
the Poor Law medical officers. Among other things, I told them that the
nominal Board never met, and that documents requiring the various
members' official signature, were taken round to the residences of the
Ministers, and, it was alleged, frequently signed without reading the

This statement had been made in the House by an ex-President.

This meeting was an immense success, for not only was there a very large
attendance of medical men, but they came from all parts of the country,
and the Department had an opportunity of learning how their permanent
officials were watched and criticized throughout the country as
permanent officials always should be. Mr. Griffin having retired from
further vindicating the claims of his professional brethren owing to an
attack of paralysis, to which, unhappily, he ultimately succumbed, the
balance of the money in his possession was handed over to me in trust
for carrying on the objects of the Association. It was also decided
that the Provincial Poor Law Medical Officers Association, of which he
was the Chairman, should be merged in the Metropolitan Association,
which had been started by me two years before, and I was elected the
President, a position I held for some years, and which I resigned only
when I recognized that the objects of our Association would be more
readily advanced by selecting some medical member of the House of
Commons to act in that capacity. So I contented myself with the humbler
position of Chairman of Council.

At this representative meeting of the profession, I alluded, _inter
alia_, to my evidence before the Select Committee, and to my advocacy of
the supply of all medicines. I also mentioned the action of one of the
Inspectors, a Mr. Gulson, when Mr. Fleming's letter containing the
recommendation of that committee was read out by the clerk of the
Weymouth Board of Guardians at their weekly meeting. The Chairman having
appealed to this official, who was present, as to what should be done,
he stated that the resolution was only carried in committee by one vote,
and that the Chairman of the Committee, had voted against it. Thereupon
the Guardians of the Weymouth Union directed that the official letter
should lie on the table, and no expensive medicines were found. I took
care that a report of this meeting should be sent to every Poor Law
medical officer, and to the Department, as well as to every influential
Member of Parliament I could reach. One of the reports having fallen
into the hands of Mr. C. P. Villiers, the ex-President and Chairman of
the Select Committee on Poor Relief, that gentleman wrote to me
protesting against the statement which had been made, and assuring me
that it was in direct opposition to what had really taken place, as he
had warmly supported my suggestion, and that he should at once call on
Mr. Gulson for an explanation of his statement. He also stated that he
had been much annoyed at the long delay that had occurred ere the Chief
Secretary, Mr. H. Fleming, had drawn up and forwarded to the various
Boards of Guardians the letter containing the recommendation of the
Select Committee. From other sources, I subsequently learned that for a
very long period of time prior to the resignation of Mr. Villiers as
President of the Board, he held hardly any communication with his
Permanent Secretary. It will be well understood, that if it took some
fifteen months for the Permanent Secretary to draw up and issue the
letter containing the Committee's suggestion as regards expensive
medicines, that no hurry would occur in the establishment of Poor Law
dispensaries in the Metropolis, which was only an amplification of my
original suggestion. And that actually happened; and it was only by our
constantly pegging away, that at last the Board commenced to establish
them. But whilst no _bonâ fide_ effort was made to carry out this
portion of the Metropolitan Poor Act, an absolute epidemic took place as
regards the building of asylum hospitals, district hospitals for fever
and infectious diseases, asylums for epileptics, idiots and imbeciles,
district schools, &c. This arose partly from indifference on the part of
the permanent officials, but to a greater degree from their complete
ignorance of the necessary details required for economic building. It
was never my desire, in striving to amend the system--that is, to
substitute for the absence of all system of medical relief to the poorer
classes the reverse policy--that architects, surveyors, and builders,
should be at liberty to extract all the money they could get from the
pockets of the metropolitan ratepayers. As it was, finding that the
absence of all efficient control was leading to an enormous outlay, and
that the public was naturally getting not only alarmed, but indignant,
at the profligate expenditure of their money, I put myself in
communication with Mr. Torrens, then M.P. for Finsbury, and asked him to
question the President of the Poor Law Board on the subject, and to move
for a return of what had been already spent and what was proposed to be
spent in such buildings. I also requested him to inquire to what cause
the delay in establishing Poor Law dispensaries under Mr. Hardy's Act
was due. This action considerably alarmed the permanent officials. More
important still, it led to a very considerable curtailment in the amount
of contemplated expenditure on buildings, and, with this, an
approximation to some control. Soon afterwards the establishment of Poor
Law dispensaries was commenced, which was an important feature of the

I cannot but relate the close of Mr. George Catch's career.

I have already stated that after the enforced resignation of his
appointment at Newington, this model master was selected by the
Guardians of Lambeth, as the master of their Workhouse, notwithstanding
that he had as opponents some respectable persons who had creditably
filled similar appointments elsewhere. His election was due to the
assistance he received from the clerk of the Strand Union, and his old
friends at that Board. His appointment was challenged at the time, but
in spite of the serious evidence afforded by the Newington inquiry, it
was confirmed by the Department, but with this proviso--that a special
report as to his conduct should be sent by the Guardians to the Poor Law
Board at the end of six months.

It was not very long before the opponents of this man's appointment were
fully justified in the course they took, as he speedily renewed his old
course of cruelty to the inmates, and of quarrelling with the other
officers. One of these acts was inquired into, and reported on by Dr.
Markham. Although it was clear that the master was in the wrong, yet Dr.
Markham, in his official report, managed to throw a doubt on the
evidence of the medical officer, evidently to screen the master; but he
was not saved for long, for shortly afterwards a young woman, who had
been subjected to much harshness by Catch, ran away and hid herself, as
it was supposed, in the chimney of one of the women's infirm wards, when
the master, with the view of forcing her to come down, induced the
junior resident medical officer, to bring from the surgery some
substance, on which he poured some hydrochloric acid, whereby some
extremely pungent gases were evolved, thinking thereby to compel her to
come down; but as the young woman was not there (fortunately for Catch,
for if she had been she would have been suffocated), the only effect was
that all the old women in the ward, were set sneezing and coughing. This
atrocious proceeding, having been reported to the Poor Law Board, Catch
was called upon to resign. It will hardly be believed that certain of
the Guardians memorialized the Poor Law Board to let him retain his
office, when Mr. Shaen, the eminent solicitor, on the urgent
representation of his wife, who was a lady visitor at the Workhouse, and
knew a great deal of Catch's doings, took the matter up. Mr. Shaen saw
me, and asked me whether I could tell him anything about Catch. I
narrated the incident of the false charge which he, in connection with
the clerk, had made against me when I was away in Scotland, and also
told him the story of his behaviour in reference to the sick woman in
the lying-in ward of the Strand Union which had led to his leaving that
Workhouse. Mr. Shaen took down my statement, and subsequently he sent me
a pamphlet of some two hundred pages, in which I found not only my own
statement, but sundry others of a highly damaging character, but
unfortunately these were so recklessly drawn, that it gave Catch the
opportunity of bringing an action for libel. Its publication had
induced Mr. Goschen to peremptorily call upon him to resign his office.
Catch sent out an appeal to all the masters of workhouses to support him
in his action, and a sufficient sum having been collected, the
Attorney-General of the day, now Lord Chief Justice Coleridge, acted as
his counsel. Having been asked by Mr. Shaen to support my statement in
the Court of Queen's Bench, I attended. When called on, I went into the
witness-box, and after giving my evidence-in-chief, was cross-examined
by the Attorney-General in such a manner that three times during the
cross-examination Lord Chief Justice Cockburn interfered to stop it,
giving as his opinion that the Attorney-General was pressing me
unfairly. As I was leaving the witness-box I turned round and thanked
the Lord Chief Justice for his kindness in screening me. I was followed
by the late porter of the Strand Workhouse, who was there to
substantiate my evidence. A similar attempt to browbeat this witness
afforded fine fun. The witness was an Irishman, and at every effort made
by the counsel to confuse him, Pat was too much for the Attorney, and
feeling that he could make nothing of him, he told him peremptorily to
stand down, which he did in such a comical way as convulsed the court
with laughter. Unfortunately Mr. Shaen failed to justify several of the
libels, and the jury, after twelve days' trial, gave a verdict in favour
of Catch for £600--an amount which the judge said was excessive, and for
which he refused to certify, thereby affording Mr. Shaen the opportunity
for asking for a fresh trial. Subsequently a compromise was effected at
the instance of the Lord Chief Justice. In summing up the case to the
jury, the judge said that my evidence, if it stood alone, was sufficient
to stamp Catch as an improper person to hold the office of a Workhouse
master. Mr. Goschen would not allow Catch to resume his office, and,
having no resources whatever, he drifted downwards until ultimately,
being without means and having tired out all his friends, he in a fit of
despair threw himself in front of a Great Western train and was cut to

I was so much annoyed by the action of the Attorney-General in
cross-examining me that on my return home I wrote to the Lord Chief
Justice again thanking him, and enclosing for his perusal a pamphlet I
had just written on the administration of the Poor Laws. To my great
surprise he sent me by hand the next morning a letter, in which he
acknowledged its receipt, and informed me that he should read my
pamphlet with the greatest pleasure. There is no doubt that my labours
up to that time were very well known to his Lordship, as, when at the
Bar, he was the standing counsel of _The Lancet_ newspaper, in which my
name had frequently appeared. When he became a judge he kept up his
interest in that journal. This was told me by the late Dr. Wakley, to
whom I related Catch's story and the account of my cross-examination and
of the courtesy and support afforded to me by Lord Chief Justice
Cockburn whilst under cross-examination. The Lord Chief Justice was a
man of scrupulous integrity and honour. I remember a solicitor of good
position in Soho, whose brother was then the Treasurer of the County of
Middlesex, and whose son now holds the position, saying to me, "Although
I am opposed to him politically, yet I have the highest opinion of his
conscientiousness, and of his extraordinary ability--we are all proud of
him." I esteem it a high honour to have received a letter from such a
man written under such circumstances. I have this letter still.

An illustration of profligate expenditure, and the absence of all
efficient control at the Poor Law Board, was at this time supplied by my
old friends, the Strand Union Board. Shortly after I resigned the Board
decided to build a new Workhouse at Edmonton, and plans of the
contemplated building were issued to builders, &c. Tenders from sundry
large firms for its erection were sent to the Guardians, the lowest
tender being from an eminent firm that had acquired a great reputation
for the buildings it had put up in various parts of town, as well as in
the country. Their tender was rejected, and the contract given to a
small builder, resident in St. Paul's, Covent Garden, whose estimate was
some £2,000 higher. It was stated at the time that after the contract
had been signed the members of the Board were invited to a dinner given
by the lucky contractor. The large firm that competed for it, feeling
that they had been improperly treated, got the question raised, and the
new President, Mr. Goschen, investigated the transaction, but it was too
late, as the builder had already set to work, and had a considerable
amount of his plant on the ground. Although Mr. Goschen felt that he
could not interfere to stop this disreputable transaction, he did not
fail to give this party of jobbers a most severe lecture, probably the
most severe that ever emanated from the Poor Law Board, in connection
with the doings of a Board of Guardians. The issue of it to this Board
must have brought about a change of policy among the permanent officials
who had not remonstrated against it. I know not whether it was this
transaction, or Mr. Goschen's general knowledge of the laxity of the
staff, certain it is that during his Presidentship he kept the Secretary
in his place, and did not permit him or Sir John Lambert (then plain Mr.
Lambert) to obtrude themselves upon him when he received deputations
from public bodies and from societies. But I am anticipating.

In the autumn of 1868 a general election took place, with the result of
replacing the Liberal party in power. With the concurrence of the
Council of the Poor Law Medical Officers Association, I had issued a
circular letter to the various candidates for Parliamentary honours, in
which I drew attention to the imperfect character of the Poor Law Board,
and the usurpation by the permanent officials of powers they were not
entitled to, and asked whether the candidate would assist us in our
efforts to reconstruct the Board, and to improve the system of medical
relief. The replies I obtained were not only very numerous, but they
held out the prospect of an alteration for the better. Looking back at
the various changes that were made subsequently, I have no hesitation in
asserting that many of these improvements were brought about by the
action our Council took at this general election. These will be briefly
referred to.

I will here relate an incident that gave me the cue as to the line to
be taken in the introduction and establishment of a Public Health Act. I
was desirous of visiting an aged relative who lived in a village in
Hampshire. The local medical gentleman kindly volunteered to fetch me
from the station, some seven miles distant, and to put me up for the
night, &c. As I neared his house my sense of smell was assailed by one
of the most awful odours I had ever encountered. To my inquiry from
whence it originated, my host said, "That is from the farmyard over
there. Young Green, the son of the corn dealer, has taken Miss Smith's
farm, and has commenced to breed pigs. He has at least 300." "Well," I
replied, "if I lived here I should make short work of Mr. Green and his
pigs; I would at once indict him." "Ah," he said, "you can afford to be
independent, you live in London. I dare not; for if I complained, or
took any action in the matter, old Green would go to all the markets
round about, and would denounce me for attempting to interfere with his
son's business, and I should make enemies by the score." Some three or
four years after Mr. Stansfeld brought in his Public Health Bill, one of
the essential features of which was that every district medical officer
should be the health officer in his district. I opposed the proposition
with all my might. I knew the Act would be absolutely abortive if Poor
Law medical officers were placed in this utterly false position which
Mr. Stansfeld proposed. In taking this course I encountered much
opposition, and became for a time very unpopular, though at last my
views prevailed, and gentlemen wholly independent of local influences
were appointed to large areas. Among the remonstrants was the medical
man who was the neighbour of the pig breeder, when I silenced him by
reminding him of Mr. Green and his pigs, and of the fear that he had
that if he complained that his business as a country medical gentleman
might be damaged. He said no more.

Having come to the conclusion that the course followed by my poor
friend, Richard Griffin, of Weymouth, in continually calling attention
to the grievances of Poor Law medical officers, would never eventuate in
an improvement of their position, for the general public have never
cared for our class in any way, I cast about to ascertain whether there
could be any course adopted by which the attention of the public could
be drawn to the shortcomings of the system, and decided that the only
chance that existed, whereby an improvement could be effected, was by
proving that an amended system of medical relief would eventuate in the
diminution of the duration of sickness, and consequently of its cost to
the ratepayers; and having at this time a copy of the annual report of
the Irish Poor Law Commissioners placed in my hands, I studied its
pages, and saw that under the Irish Medical Charities Acts the poorer
classes of that country had secured to them the most complete system of
Poor Law medical relief. I resolved to go over to Ireland, and study its
administration on the spot. I carried out my intention, and during my
stay in Ireland obtained a complete insight into the way in which the
Irish dispensary system was carried out. I also brought back with me all
the papers and documents that enabled me to popularize the subject here.
I also spent much time in examining the annual returns of the English
Poor Law Board, with the result that I was enabled to prove conclusively
that efficient medical relief was followed by diminished poor relief
expenditure, not only by shortening the duration of sickness, but by the
actual saving of human life: this latter was shown also by a return I
got Mr. W. H. Smith to move for, which was as follows--

"A return of the population at the last census in England and Wales, in
Scotland and in Ireland.

"A return of the mortality from general causes in the three portions of
the United Kingdom, and of preventable mortality."

That return exhibited the following: That whilst one in every 43 died
yearly in England, one in 44 in Scotland, only one in every 60 died in
Ireland; and whilst in England zymotic, or preventable diseases,
constituted one-fourth of the total mortality, or one in 190 of the
population, Scotland one-fourth, or one in 194 of the population, in
Ireland it was one-fifth of the total mortality, and one in 308 of the
population; the fact being this, that in England and Scotland there
existed the same miserable system of medical relief, whilst in Ireland,
after the potato famine and the fever which followed it, calamities
which swept away a large portion of the inhabitants, the Medical
Charities Act was introduced, and led, by its efficient working, to the
beneficial changes which had taken place in the health of the country.

The views I advanced met with much favour, and were commented on and
approved by many general, as well as by all the medical journals. Having
sent a copy of the paper I read at a meeting of our Association to Mr.
C. P. Villiers, that gentleman wrote to me stating that he had derived
much pleasure from its perusal, and that I had thrown more light on the
causes of pauperism, and devised better measures for its diminution,
than any previous writer on the subject. Subsequently, through the
influence of Mr. Corrance, then M.P. for East Suffolk, I was invited to
address the Central Chamber of Agriculture, which I did, when a
resolution, couched in very flattering terms, was adopted, and further
it was moved that a copy of the Chamber's approval of my address, and
the principles contained in it, should be sent to the Poor Law Board,
coupled with the request that the attention of all the provincial
Chambers should be called to the subject. Subsequently I was invited to
address the Worcester Chamber on the same subject, as well as that of

At a very early period of the presidency of Mr. Goschen, several of the
provincial Poor Law Inspectors were directed to make inquiry into the
question of medical relief to the poor, and the desirability, or
otherwise, of establishing dispensaries, modelled on the principles
contained in the Irish Medical Charities Act. One of the most able and
exhaustive reports was sent in, as might have been expected, by Mr.
Farnall, who thus proved true to the views he held in his interview with
me some ten years before; whilst the very feeblest of these was that
preferred by Mr. R. B. Caine, who manifested the same lack of heartiness
here as he exhibited earnestness some years before in upsetting poor
Richard Griffin's statistics, of which he boasted to me during his
conduct of the inquiry at the Strand Union in 1866.

One of the results that sprang from my visit to Ireland was the
establishment of a good understanding between our Association and that
of the Irish Dispensary Medical Officers, of which the late Dr. Toler
Maunsall was the honorary secretary. Dr. Maunsall was the most
indefatigable secretary I ever knew. His appetite for work, and his
skill in getting up statistics was remarkable. He was most valuable to
me, as he assisted in getting out dry figures for my use, which would
have given me infinite trouble. Poor fellow! like many others of my
fellow-workers, he was destined to die early, and I sustained a great
loss by his premature death. Unfortunately, too, he died badly off. I
started a subscription in England for the benefit of his widow and
children, which helped to swell the sum that his friends got together in

During my stay in Ireland it was arranged between us that we should
mutually help each other, and consequent on that, when the Irish
Association strove, under the leadership of the late Dr. Brady, M.P. for
Leitrim, to obtain superannuation allowance for dispensary and workhouse
medical officers, I called attention to the subject in the medical
journals, and induced the members of our Association not only to
petition, but to interview members in their respective localities, in
favour of the Bill. Dr. Brady, having succeeded in carrying this
measure, essayed the next year to do the same for England and Wales. The
success of the appeal we had made to members in the general election of
1868, facilitated the passing of the measure most materially, as we had
promises of support from upwards of eighty gentlemen who were
subsequently elected. Prior to the second reading of our Bill, I
interviewed several members, and got promises to attend the second
reading and vote for the measure. Some of these gentlemen, having
intimated their desire to speak in its support, and having asked to be
supplied with information on the subject, I coached them up. To one of
the ablest of our supporters, who asked me to provide him with facts, I
said that I was opposed to superannuation on principle, as I held that
every one should be able during the working days of his life to provide
for the exigencies of his old age--but then it was necessary if he held
an office that the pay should be such as would enable him to do so. Now
it was notorious that the pay of the medical officer was based on such a
starvation principle as to render it impossible for him to save
anything. This argument, reproduced very much as I have written it, in
the House assisted a great deal in the success of the Bill. At the time
this occurred I was out of office, and had not the most distant idea I
should ever again be a workhouse medical officer. I did not know what
was again in store for me, nor that I was destined to have another
fourteen years of it; that I should be again suspended, restored to
office, and eventually, through broken health, compelled peaceably to
resign and to be myself a pensioner.

After the Bill had become law Dr. Brady most generously bore tribute to
my efforts, and stated that he never could have carried the Bill without
my help. _The Lancet_ published this statement of Dr. Brady's, and I for
the time gained from my Poor Law medical brethren credit for what was,
at that period, absolutely disinterested labour.

About this time I was invited by a leading physician in Edinburgh to
visit that city and address a meeting at the College of Physicians on
the subject of Poor Law medical relief in Scotland. Although I was
aware that the condition of things in that country was worse even than
it was in England, yet I had not studied the subject so completely as to
justify me in asserting it. Consequently I declined what was a very
great compliment. Some years afterwards I went and delivered an address.
It took place at the time when the annual meeting of the British Medical
Association was last held there, when a highly complimentary resolution
was adopted at that meeting in reference to that visit and address of
mine. After occupying the position of president for a brief period only,
during which time the Department was administered most vigorously and
successfully, Mr. Goschen was transferred to another office in the
Government, and Mr. Stansfeld was appointed President, the effect of
which became immediately apparent, for the leading permanent officials,
whose influence had been checked during Mr. Goschen's presidency, came
directly to the front again.

One of the first measures introduced by Mr. Stansfeld was the conversion
of the Poor Law into the Local Government Board. This was carried out by
the absorption of the Public Health Department of the Privy Council in
the destitution element of the Poor Law Board--a most disastrous act of
policy, as it subordinated the Health Department, which had done its
work so well to the discredited section of the Poor Law Board as
exhibited in the permanent officials of the Board, who had always been
obstructive, and had neither carried out, nor permitted any one else to
carry out, any reform whatever.

This was early made apparent, for at the first deputation to the
President, at which I was present, after his appointment, I saw Mr. H.
Fleming and Mr. Lambert sitting together with the President, whilst Mr.
(only just recently made Sir), John Simon and his staff, who were the
only intellectual element of the new Board, were relegated to distant
seats in the corner of the room.

That a Public Health Bill started under such circumstances should be
framed absurdly, seeing that those who understood the subject were
ignored, and those were consulted who had never done anything well, was
nothing but what might have been expected.

One of the provisions of the Bill was, as I have before stated, that
every district Poor Law medical officer should be the health officer of
his district, and that his reports of insanitary conditions should be
sent to the Board of Guardians, many members of which Board would be
found to be the principal offenders against sanitary requirements.

This scheme speedily evoked an opposition, and a deputation,
representing the British Medical Association, the Social Science
Association, and the Poor Law Medical Officers Association, had an
interview with Mr. Stansfeld at the Local Government Board. The speakers
from the two first Associations having addressed the President, Mr.
Stansfeld announced that he had just received a summons to attend a
meeting of the Cabinet, but he would leave Mr. Fleming to hear any
further remarks that might be made, which would in due course be
communicated to him and meet with attention. Being the sole remaining
speaker, I said to Mr. Fleming that when I first heard of the proposed
utilization of the Poor Law medical officers in the Public Health
measures of the Government, I hailed it as a tardy recognition of the
valuable services that class of official might render. But when I came
to look into the details I saw it would not work, as medical officers
would hesitate in affronting their Board of Guardians, many members of
which would be found to be the principal offenders against the
contemplated Act, and that in the few cases where the parish officers
would faithfully carry out the requirements, and thereby offend their
respective Boards, they would be sacrificed to the resentment of their
members, and if appeal was made for support to the Central Department,
such honest men would be called on to resign for not exhibiting
sufficient courtesy, &c., and working with their Boards. It was very
evident that my observations went home to this Permanent Secretary, but
whether they were ever communicated to Mr. Stansfeld is open to much
doubt, for his Bill was eventually brought in on the lines he had
originally indicated, only to turn out on trial a disastrous and
ludicrous failure.



About a twelvemonth after the Act was in operation I appealed, through
the medical journals, to my brethren in the provinces as to the
arrangements that had been made in their respective localities. A large
number of letters from all parts of England and Wales were sent to me,
and with the information thus furnished I prepared a paper which I
called "Chaos," in which I turned into ridicule the arrangements that
had been made, showing that the Department, faithful to its traditions,
had made a complete mess of the administrative arrangements. This paper,
read at the meeting of the British Medical Association at Sheffield,
attracted a good deal of attention both in the medical and general
Press. It materially acted in evolving order out of the chaos into which
the subject had drifted, owing to the indifference and incompetence of
those who had drafted the measure.

In the spring of 1872 I was informed that the alterations and
enlargement of the old Workhouse of St. James's, commenced at the time
when the Westminster Union was formed, were complete, and that Mr.
French, who had been the medical officer of the workhouse and parish of
St. James's for upwards of forty years, was about to retire on a
superannuation allowance of £200 a year. I was told that the Chairman of
the Board, a Mr. Bonthron, a Scotch baker living in Regent Street, had
selected a fellow Scotchman, one Dr. S., as Mr. French's successor, and
as Mr. Bonthron claimed to be omnipotent at the Board, this gentleman's
appointment to the vacancy was considered to be certain. In the course
of a few days I heard that a formidable opponent to Dr. S. had appeared
in the person of Dr. M., who was also a Scotchman. In due course the
election took place, when Dr. M. was elected. This resulted from a
protest on the part of certain members of the Board who resented the
predominance of Mr. Bonthron. When apprised of the result of the
election, I remarked that Dr. M. could not take the office as he did not
possess the necessary legal qualifications. On the following Saturday
morning a member of the Board told me that a letter had been read at
the meeting of the Guardians, held the previous evening, announcing that
the election of Dr. M. was null and void, as he held no surgical
qualifications. As his election had surprised all the Guardians, because
it proved that the Chairman had not the influence he claimed, my
informant advised me to apply for the office. At first I hesitated, but
upon being urged again I assented. The same evening I called on Dr. M.,
told him of my intention, and asked him for the support of his friends.
To my utter astonishment he told me he had made up his mind to try
again. "Nonsense," I said; "how can you get a diploma from the College
of Surgeons?" "Oh," he replied, "I have arranged all that; I have a
splendid memory, and I remember all my anatomy and surgery." As I had
every ground for the belief that he had never attended lectures on
surgery, nor attended the surgical practice of an hospital, inasmuch as
I had known him ever since he had come to London, I saw that, without
collusion with some one in authority, it was impossible for it to be
done; but, as he appeared determined, I left him. As soon as it was
known that I seriously intended to compete for the appointment,
testimonials in my favour were forwarded to me by several eminent
physicians and surgeons, by Members of Parliament, among them one of a
very flattering character from Mr. C. P. Villiers, M.P., the
ex-President of the Poor Law Board, who strongly recommended me to the
Board of Guardians, those lady visitors who had known me at the Strand,
and others. Two days before the election took place I was surprised by a
visit from Dr. M., who called to inform me that he had passed his
examination at the College of Surgeons the night before, and now asked
me to retire in his favour. On my declining to do as he wished, he said
it was very hard I would not, as he had incurred an expense of upwards
of £60 to get the diploma. Prior to the election my friends entered into
a compact with his supporters to the effect that if I was in a minority
on the show of hands my name was to be withdrawn, when they would
support him, but if I was in the majority his friends would support me.
This occurring, I was elected, to the great surprise of the Chairman,
who looked on me as a dangerous person, seeing that I had taken an
active part in bringing about the formation of the Union, whereby St.
Anne's had been joined to St. James's, which had the effect of somewhat
increasing his poor rate assessment in St. James's--for St. Anne's, a
poor parish, had considerably improved its position by being put into
union with St. James's, which was comparatively a rich one.

Having at this time received an invitation from the Irish Dispensary
Medical Officers Association to address them at the College of
Physicians in Dublin, I did so, when Sir Dominic Corrigan, Bart., M.P.,
was in the chair; and I afterwards spent a very pleasant week there,
visiting the North and South Dublin Workhouses, the latter having 4,000
inmates, with a large staff of visiting physicians and surgeons, besides
resident medical officers. It is one of the finest hospitals in Dublin,
and the arrangements for the efficient treatment of the sick poor were
in the highest degree creditable to the Irish Poor Law, now the Local
Government Board.

I also visited the Richmond Lunatic Asylum, situated on the outskirts of
Dublin, at that date under the superintendence of Dr. Lalor, who, I
understand, was the first physician who introduced vocal and
instrumental music as a means of relieving the insane. There I witnessed
one of the most extraordinary sights it was ever my lot to see. I will
give a sketch of the tableau. In the foreground sat a young lady
discoursing most eloquent music on a harmonium, immediately behind her
there stood some young Irish women, three or four of them, singularly
beautiful, with music in their hands, accompanying her; behind them were
older women, and then on to the old and weird, all joining most heartily
in the performance. The fringe of this female gathering of nearly 100
performers were harmless imbeciles and idiots. I stood and listened some
moments whilst this singular performance continued. I was so struck with
the beauty of one of the Irish girls that I asked her history, when I
was informed that her condition had been induced by a disappointment in
a love affair. It was the old story of love followed by desertion, and
she had been admitted some six months before in a state of maniacal
excitement. She was too young and altogether too pretty to be an inmate
of a lunatic asylum. Dr. Lalor also showed me a typical case, exhibiting
the truth of the opinion I have long held, that of all the forms of
insanity, none are so uncertain of having been really cured as those
which have exhibited symptoms of homicidal or suicidal violence. The
patient in question had been admitted when suffering with a homicidal
tendency but had steadily improved, and his name was on the list of
those to go before the Visiting Committee for discharge on probation,
when a startling incident occurred. He had secreted one of the knives
used in the asylum about his person, and he had, when unobserved,
whittled away the thick, blunt portion used in the asylum, until he had
given it a sharp cutting edge, from handle to point; when, raising his
right leg up, he cut through the calf down to the bone, severing the
muscle completely. This patient, Dr. Lalor told me, had been employed on
various offices of trust, and that he was commonly considered to be
completely cured, and altogether harmless. I obtained one of the old
knives used in this asylum, had it copied, and, having got the sanction
of the Board for getting several, used them all the time I was at the
Westminster Union, in the male and female insane wards. The cutting edge
was about two inches in length, but the rest of the knife was about the
twelfth of an inch thick. It was impossible for lunatics to do any harm
either to themselves or others with such knives.

On my return to London I was informed that my appointment to the
Westminster Union had been confirmed by the Local Government Board.

A day or so before the 23rd of June an appointment was made by Mr.
French for me to go over the House with him, and to have the
establishment formally handed over to me. I went, accompanied by a young
Irish physician, recently one of the resident surgeons of an Irish
hospital, with whom I was in treaty to be my assistant. I had never
been in this workhouse infirmary before. Shortly after my arrival Mr.
French joined us, and, in company with the head nurse on the female
side, we went through the female part of the establishment. The nurse
was most elaborately "got up." We went on and examined each patient, a
large number of whom were in the wards--in fact, although it was
midsummer, the place was full. I noticed bed-cards over each patient's
bed, but as I could not make out what was given to the patients, I asked
what was being done for this and that case. To my astonishment Mr.
French said, "Nothing; I do not believe in physic, and therefore do not
give the people anything." Presently we entered a large ward where a
woman, evidently in great pain, was lying in bed, writhing in apparent
agony. After ascertaining the nature of the case, which was one of
colicky diarrhoea, I asked, "Well, what do you here?" to which he
replied, "Nurse, give her a glass of Number Two." With that, he pulled
me into the centre of the ward, and giving me a friendly nudge of the
ribs, laughingly said, "What do you imagine is Number Two? Why it is
peppermint-water coloured; I never give any physic." Feeling by this
time somewhat disgusted by these remarkable confessions, seeing that his
stipend was £350 a year, out of which it was arranged by the Board that
he should supply these medicines. I dropped his company, and went on
examining the people independently. Mr. French speedily buttonholed my
young companion, and went on looking at the patients with him. At last
our visit came to an end, and on coming out of the male sick wards he
shook me warmly by the hand and wished me the same happy official life
as he had had. He had hardly got out of hearing when the young Irishman
commenced to reproach me with having transferred Mr. French to him;
saying, "I take it, sir, as a very unkind thing that you should have
done so, as I was shocked at his boasting that he never did anything at
all for these poor sick people."

The next day I entered on my duties. On taking my seat in the
consulting-room the master brought in and laid before me a large volume,
the Workhouse Medical Relief Book. I turned over the pages for the week,
and noticed the names and extras ordered for the sick. I saw that ham,
sausages, tripe, fish, eggs, were entered rather frequently. At last I
said to the master, who was standing by, "You surely have not all these
people on the sick list in the House! I did not see a third of this
number when I went over the House yesterday." "Yes," he replied, "they
are here;" on which I said, "Let everything remain as entered in the
book until I can arrange to go over the establishment and see them all,
which I will do this week." I then went through the sick and infirm
wards. On going through the wards I ordered what in my judgment was
necessary for the sick in the way of medicines, much to the astonishment
of the head nurse, who stared at me in a half-dazed manner. There was
one patient with a very foul and offensive ulcer, for whom I ordered a
charcoal poultice: she came to me before I left the House to ask me
"what I meant." I replied, "A charcoal poultice." She then said, "I
never heard of such a thing before." I then asked her how long she had
been there; she said eight years. The next day I had occasion to order a
carrot poultice; I met with the same astonishment and ignorance of what
was meant. At last she frankly stated that she was about to learn her
duties, for nothing of the kind had ever been used by her before; and
further, she said that as she never had any medicine to give the people,
she had not troubled herself much about the patients; indeed, I learned
on inquiry that she used to be in waiting to see the doctor each
morning, and so soon as he was gone she considered her duties were over,
and she returned to her own sitting-room till next day. I could never
get her to give my medicines as directed. Apart from this indifference
as to medicines, she was kind to the patients and respectful to me. On
the male side I found a superintendent nurse who really knew her duties.
She confirmed the statement voluntarily made by Mr. French, that no
medicines were ever provided for the sick. She also said that the
Guardians knew all about it, and that they treated it as a great joke.
This was not correct as regards some of the Guardians, as I subsequently
ascertained. It was known to the St. James's section of the Board, but
repudiated by those of St. Anne's. Seeing that we had had a medical
inspector and self-called medical adviser for five years, whose duty it
was to visit this Workhouse infirmary, his failure to discover these
omissions was in the highest degree remarkable; but then the system
prevailed at the Local Government Board, and our Workhouse Infirmaries
Association had utterly failed to alter it. The reason for all this was
not far to seek.

On the day after, in company with a pauper inmate, told off to carry the
Medical Relief Book, I went through the wards for the purpose of seeing
the infirm men and women who were on extras. I found on the women's side
that, as it was leave-day, many had gone out, and therefore drew the
inference that if they were well enough to go out they could dispense
with sausages, ham, tripe, eggs, &c., entered against their names, and
could eat the ordinary infirm diet provided by Dr. Markham's diet table,
which I saw hung up in the wards, which diet table had been drawn up
from the form drafted by our Association some years before. It is
curious that he claimed it to be his, without any reference to any one.
Whilst going through the female wards some of the inmates returned
drunk, one old woman very much so. She at once proceeded to ask me who I
was, and what I was doing there. On my replying that I had come into the
ward to see why she was on a diet of daily sausages, she tartly replied,
pulling up her petticoats and showing both her legs, which she struck
with her hands, "For these bad legs." I at once ran the pen through her
name. She lived in the House years after that, but she ate no more
sausages. I learned on inquiry that this fat old woman, who could go out
and return drunk, had had sausages, nominally, as her dinner for two
years. I write nominally because I learned afterwards that in the matter
of diets an extensive system of exchange obtained throughout the House
without any check or hindrance on the part of the officials. It took me
the greater part of four days to see all the infirm people on extras,
but the result was satisfactory, as it enabled me to put the
establishment so far as the diets were concerned, on an economic basis.
The clerk of the Board assured me at the time that I had caused a saving
of some hundreds of pounds, a statement which I honestly believe was the

It might be a matter of wonder how this could be, but having regard to
the very large amount of extras purchased from day to day, none of which
were supplied under contract, it can be well understood what an
opportunity was given for large prices being charged for such extras, as
practically no check existed on the cupidity of the tradesmen (selected
by the master) who supplied these things. I do not state that such was
the case here, but unless some good understanding existed between those
who ordered and those who supplied, how is it possible that masters of
workhouses, with their limited incomes, should succeed in leaving at
their deaths so much money, as many of them do? I was informed that the
old master who preceded Catch at the Strand Union had gone there after
failing in business as a tradesman in Covent Garden, that he held office
as master twelve years, and when he died that he left some £2,000.

I found on inspection of the specially infirm, paralytic, and wholly
infirm, that the women were located in wards 16, 17, and 18, and on
inquiry discovered that there were no conveniences whatever for the
instantaneous removal of excreta, and yet this condition of things had
not been discovered by the Government Inspectors or by the medical
advisers, or if it had been no steps had been taken to alter it.

On my first visit to these wards I noticed some black patches in the
corners of the compartments, which stood out very distinctly from the
recently whitewashed ceiling and walls. Noticing some days after that
these patches had increased in size, I asked the nurse what it was due
to, when she quietly said, "Those are bugs." So soon as I could I saw
the master, and told him of it, and asked him to see to it. He did not
say he would or he would not, he only laughed. Finding some days after
that nothing had been done, I again saw him in his office, when I told
him that I must insist on those bugs being removed. The labour master
was present, who remarked, "Well, doctor, as you make such a fuss about
the bugs I will see to it for you" (evidently regarding the matter in
the light of a personal favour); and the bugs were swept down into a
dustpan by hundreds and put into the fire and burnt. This was told me
by an eye-witness, who was present whilst it was being done.

I do not wish it supposed that the master was harsh or cruel; quite the
reverse, he was very kind to the inmates. But he had lived long enough
in the service of the Poor Law not to be fully aware that no good would
accrue to him or his by too much zeal in the performance of his duty. He
calmly let things slide; consequently there was more drunkenness on
liberty days than could be possibly imagined, and was unchecked, and
although I repeatedly begged that the names of all persons who were on
my sick list who had been allowed to go out should be reported to me if
they came home drunk, I never could get my wishes attended to, though
occasionally it happened that I discovered the circumstance, especially
when an accident occurred.

I was not wholly unprepared for this laxity of discipline, as some few
days before entering on my duties I met the ex-chaplain of the Strand
Workhouse, who, whilst congratulating me on my return to the Poor Law
service, said, "You will have a great deal to meet with at St. James's.
I have taken the duty there for the chaplain occasionally, and the
scenes of drunkenness and quarrelling among the inmates on their return
home on liberty days, which I have witnessed, exceeds anything you can
imagine." One of the most terrible exhibitions of this kind I ever
witnessed was on the first Christmas Day after my appointment. The
subject having previously been brought under the attention of the Board,
an order was issued that for the future this indiscriminate permission
to the inmates to leave the house on Christmas Day should be stopped. It
will hardly be believed that on the next Christmas Day the Chairman took
upon himself, most presumptuously, to go to the House and give
permission for them to again go out. The scene that occurred that night
was the most disgraceful that ever happened in the history of a
workhouse. Several of the drunken inmates on their return home fought
like demons. I and my assistant were engaged for some time in dealing
with the injuries that were caused. I must state that I never saw the
master so justly indignant as he was at the impertinent interference of
this Chairman, in setting his authority and that of the Board at
defiance in the way he had done.

Finding that no dietary for the sick and infirm had been adopted at the
House, I at once drew up a form which continued in force until
ill-health caused my resignation. It was similar to that which I had
introduced at the Strand several years before. There was one diet for
which I claim especial credit. It was framed with the view of dealing
with capricious appetites or severe sickness. It was called Number Five,
or _ad. lib._, and consisted of either eggs, fish, a chop, beef-tea, or
arrowroot, or anything else of the same value. It was enjoined that the
nurse should at 8 a.m. ask what these special sick would take for
dinner. When she had ascertained the wishes of the patient, a statement
on a diet-sheet showing how many of each description of diet would be
required was sent down to the kitchen. At the end of the week the cook
handed to the master's clerk the number of each diets she had supplied,
who then proceeded to distribute these among all those who were on _ad.
lib._ diet. It might appear on the master's side of the Medical Relief
Book that A or B had had a chop daily, whilst in reality the dinner
might, by this arrangement, have been changed every day. This plan of
dealing with capricious appetites has since been adopted in several

Although five years had passed away since the Metropolitan Poor Law Act
had become law, no attempt had been made to carry out the dispensary
clauses until after my election, and one of the first things I had to do
was to put the dispensary in order. I had been taught a lesson in
economic prescribing whilst at the Strand, and therefore was enabled to
speedily arrange for a pharmacopoeia. I also drew up a formula for the
supply of large bottles of simple medicines, which were placed in charge
of the nurses, for administration in trivial ailments so common among
the aged poor. I also introduced bed pulleys, to enable the sick to
assist themselves in rising, or in getting in or out of bed. I also
ordered small shawls for the aged women and woollen jackets for the
men--a great comfort to those who were suffering from consumption or
bronchitis, the principal affections I had to encounter.

I have stated that although it was midsummer the House was full of sick
people, which arose partly on account of the sickness that prevailed in
the worst part of St. Anne's and similarly in that of St. James's, and
also to the fact that the Chairman had opposed the transfer of any of
the sick to the Sick Asylum Hospital, at Highgate, to which the
Westminster Union, in conjunction with the Strand, St. Giles's, and St.
Pancras, was affiliated. He had opposed the junction of the two parishes
on personal grounds, and being beaten, had, in conjunction with his
party, obstructed the removal of the acutely sick.

As medical officer I did not object to this, for as the sick wards were
extremely good and were all that I had desired to carry out when I
initiated the Workhouse infirmary movement, I simply complied with the
wishes of the majority of the Guardians not to send any one away. I had
held office some weeks when, in the autumn of the year, I encountered
Dr. Drydges in Regent Street. This gentleman, who had acted temporarily
whilst Dr. Markham was ill, had about this time been permanently
appointed to be Metropolitan Inspector, Dr. Markham having resigned. He
came up to me and said, "I was coming to the Westminster Union to learn
why it was you did not comply with the law, and send your acute sick
away." "Oh," I replied, "that is soon explained; it is because the
majority of the Board will not let me." "Indeed," he said; "you must do
your duty, even if the Board object to it." To which I replied, "I did
that at the Strand, and your Secretary called on me to resign because I
was not sufficiently respectful to the Guardians. I shall comply with
the wishes of the Guardians now, and not with that of the Local
Government Board, as they would throw me over." To which he rather
angrily replied, "You speak to me like that, when I am an Inspector, and
you only a Workhouse medical officer?" To which I answered, "And who,
pray, made you a Poor Law Inspector. Why, if it had not been for me and
my initiation, neither you nor Dr. Markham would ever have been
Inspectors." "Oh," he replied, "I did not know you had had anything to
do with it." "I think," I said, "if you will trouble yourself to inquire
you will find what I state to be correct." When I broke down in 1886,
and he had to call and see me, he was then most kind and sympathetic,
and I take this opportunity of stating as much.

This refusal on the part of the majority of the Board, led on by this
Chairman, to allow me to send suitable cases of sickness to the Asylum
Hospital, was in the highest degree absurd, seeing that the ratepayers
of the Union had to pay their proportion of all expenses at the Asylum
Hospital, and for the beds to which the Union were entitled; and
although this Workhouse infirmary was a perfect paradise in comparison
with the den at the Strand, still the House had not been arranged on the
principle that all the sick should be retained in it. My nursing staff
was insufficient to enable me effectually to deal with the great number
of sick persons there at the time of my entrance on my duties. One
illustration will suffice. There was a man in an infirm ward who had
been under Mr. French some five or six years. He did not belong to
Westminster, he was kept there because he alleged he was so ill that he
could not bear the fatigue of journeying some sixty miles in the
country. He was a healthy-looking man about forty years of age. He
always lay in bed with his knees drawn up, and constantly asserted that
he could not stand nor walk, nor put his legs down. He complained
piteously of his sufferings. I exhausted every conceivable treatment,
but all without the least apparent benefit, as he never owned to being
any better for my attention to him. This went on for two years, until I
began to get suspicious of him. One day an inmate of the ward, who had
recovered and left the House, called on me at my private residence. On
seeing me he said, "I have called to thank you for your kindness to me,
and also to tell you that you have been deceived by that man Webster,
who you have done so much for. He is an impostor. He can walk as well as
I can, and, what is more, does walk about." "Nonsense," I replied; "he
says he cannot get out of bed, and the nurses confirm it." "Well," he
continued, "he takes very good care never to allow them to see him get
out of bed, he takes his constitutional walk about the wards between 2
and 4 a.m., when the lights are down, and most of the inmates asleep."
"But, surely," I said, "the night nurse must have seen him, and if so
she would report it to me!" "Oh," he replied, "she hardly ever comes
into the ward during the night, she is generally in her own room fast
asleep--she gets herself called when she is wanted." I made some further
inquiries, and finding that there was evidence of deception, I sent him
to the Asylum Hospital with a letter to the superintendent medical
officer, giving his history, and telling him of my suspicions, and
asking that he might be carefully watched by reliable persons. He came
back in a fortnight, having been found out. He was immediately
transferred to his settlement, where doubtless he recommenced the game
of deception, having found it answer so well.

It may be here said, If you had not confidence in your nurses, why did
you not get rid of them? For the simple reason that I had no power to do
so. They were not selected by me, but by the Guardians, and therefore
were not my officers, but the Board's. I once reported the night nurse
on the male side (the woman who had allowed the malingerer to deceive
me) for drunkenness, but I had so much trouble to get rid of her that I
was not induced to repeat the experiment, added to which I was most
grossly insulted by the master for bringing this woman's conduct before
the Guardians.

In my opinion the medical officer should select and discharge all the
nurses--of course, reason for this latter action being shown. I should
have discharged several at the Westminster Union for neglect of duty and
for general incompetence if I had had the power. Simple complaint would
be attended by no beneficial result, as it would be a hundred to one
that the nurse would be supported in her misconduct by some member of
the Board, whose protege she might be. On mentioning this to an
ex-workhouse medical officer, he told me that on having occasion to
represent the conduct of the resident midwife, who claimed and exercised
the right to go out on every Sunday for several hours, leaving the wards
wholly unattended on every such occasion except by pauper helps, the
only action taken by the Board as a return for it, at the instance of
the midwife's friend, was the adoption of a resolution that a return
should be prepared and laid on the Board-room table, showing the
occasions when the medical officer went out and the length of time he
was out, &c., &c. Of course he found out that he had achieved worse than
nothing by his effort to check this abuse. This circumstance occurred in
one of the largest of our metropolitan workhouse infirmaries.

When first I entered on my duties at the Westminster Union the chaplain
there was a very energetic little man named Duval. I do not remember his
Christian name, for the reason that he was known and spoken of as Claude
Duval, and for a long while I supposed him to possess no other. At last
I discovered that the name had been given him in joke, and that he was
in no way connected with the celebrated highwayman. He most assuredly
did not convey the idea that he had any brigand blood in his veins. He
was extremely attentive to his duties, and deserved and had gained the
respect of all the inmates and officers.

Frequently he organized entertainments for the aged and infirm. These
were held in the dining-hall, which on all such occasions was crowded to
excess. After I had held office about a year he desired me to provide an
entertainment, which I did on several occasions, and my efforts met with
much success. In the carrying out of these entertainments, which were
musical and recitative, I had the assistance of my nephew, Mr. Julian
Rogers, and his wife, who brought with them vocalists of a high order,
who contributed much to the pleasure of the inmates. These
entertainments were highly appreciated by the inmates, and were
frequently attended by members of the Board, and by some of the
ratepayers living in the neighbourhood. Now and then I used to read
extracts suitable for penny readings. On two occasions my efforts took a
higher form, when I gave a lecture on the "Ear and Hearing," and on
"Sight and the Eye." The preparation of these lectures and the diagrams
to illustrate them was a work of considerable trouble and some anxiety,
but the signal success achieved on both occasions amply repaid me for
any trouble occasioned. To show the appreciation of my audience for a
joke, I will relate an incident that occurred during the delivery of my
lecture on "Sight and the Eye." I was describing the function of the
iris, or coloured portion of the eye, as an involuntary movable veil,
which regulated the amount of light which should be admitted to the eye,
and said that in order to make the veil complete it was covered behind
with a black pigment, so as to exclude all light except that which
passed through the pupil. I then told them that in certain animals this
pigment was wanting, and not only there but in the skin generally, and
instanced the white mouse, ferret, &c., and showed that all these
animals had red eyes and always blinked and winked when exposed to a
strong light. I then passed on to state that this condition was
sometimes found in man, where again the winking and blinking was
noticeable as well as the whiteness of the skin and hair, from the
absence of this dark pigment, hence the name of "albinos" applied to
those thus afflicted. I then went on to state that recently we had a
notable example of this in the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who suffered
from this infirmity, and that his dread of light was so extreme that he
had attempted actually to put a tax on matches. This joke was followed
by a positive scream of delight from visitors and inmates--showing that
Mr. Lowe's fiscal effort to increase the revenue was known to them all.
At the conclusion of the night's proceedings, Miss Augusta Clifford, who
was present, came up and said she should repeat my story of Mr. Lowe and
the match tax wherever she went. At the next meeting of the Board,
several of the Guardians having been present on the occasion referred
to, it was moved and seconded and carried unanimously, that a vote of
thanks should be given to Dr. Rogers for the entertainment provided by
him, and for the highly interesting and instructive lecture which he had

I found in the sick and infirm wards several of my old acquaintances of
the Strand, who were chargeable to St. Anne's, and had been transferred
to this House when the Union was formed, among them a woman by the name
of Maria Hall. She had gone into the Strand several years before I left;
her friends at first paid for her maintenance. She was an epileptic--and
something beside. When I knew her in the Strand she professed an
inability to talk, except unintelligible gibberish. She was very artful;
she claimed to be a deeply religious character, and contrived to take in
the benevolent lady visitors to a considerable extent. She continually
showed me letters she had received, and books that had been given her by
ladies, and would ask me to share with her the grapes, cakes, and
sweetmeats sent her by her dupes. This went on for several years,
altogether about twenty. She always posed and was spoken of as "poor
Maria"--in fact, she was the pet of the nurse and of the ward. At last
it came to my knowledge that she presumed on her condition to be
exacting and troublesome. Finding that remonstrance was unavailing, I
reluctantly ordered her removal to the insane ward. It was attended with
the best result, for, finding that she was at last sternly dealt with,
she threw off the mask she had worn for twenty years and talked as
distinctly and clearly as any healthy person. She had traded for years
on her alleged infirmity. It was true she was an epileptic, and
eventually died from that form of disease; but she had been the most
persistent cheat I had ever met with.

On the male side I found a poor fellow who had also been transferred
from the Strand, where I had known him when he was first admitted there.
He was paralyzed all down on one side. He was the most patient, honest
fellow I had ever seen. After I had been in office some years Sir
Charles Trevelyan came to call on me respecting a public movement that
we were both engaged in. Finding I was at the infirmary, he came round
to the House and was shown into my room. I asked him to go over the
wards with me. He did so. I introduced the poor paralytic to him as an
honest, patient, and grateful poor man. Sir Charles asked him how long
he had been afflicted, and he answered, "Some twenty years." Then I
said, "This poor fellow cannot get downstairs; he has not seen the
streets for all these years, but he is always happy and cheerful." Sir
Charles kindly left with me £1 to pay his cab fare, so that he might
have the chance of seeing them once again. As I had to send two people
with him each time the £1 soon went. His enjoyment of this treat in his
daily dull, routine life was, I was informed, most pleasing to witness.

There were several other very interesting persons I found on both sides
of the ward. One was an old man who was said to be eighty-eight years
old. On my morning visit he was always standing on the staircase
smoking. He had lived many years in Australia, and his long white hair
and beard, which reached to his waist, conjoined with a florid
complexion and bright blue eyes, caused me to consider him one of the
handsomest old men I had ever seen. One day I took two young ladies over
the infirmary. We found the old man in his usual place. I jocularly
introduced him to them as the Adonis of the House. The old man was
terribly offended. As we walked away I heard him muttering aloud,
"That's a pretty name to call a man--'Donis indeed!" He did not forgive
me for a long while. I wonder what he thought the epithet really was
intended to signify.

I also found in the male infirm ward an old French physician whom I had
known by sight for a great many years when he was practising his
profession in Soho. He was a tall, fine man when I first knew him. He
always used to wear a very singular-looking broad-brimmed hat. He was in
all externals a very gentlemanly-looking person. I had missed him for a
long time, and was surprised and hurt to think that he should have
drifted to a workhouse infirmary. On inquiring into the cause of his
becoming an inmate of the House, for I always thought he was well-to-do,
as he dressed exceedingly well, I learned that he had lived with a lady
who was an _employé_ at a French milliner's in Regent Street, that she
was much younger than he was, and that he had given to her all his
money, which she, in preparation for possible consequences, had put in
the Funds, but in her own name only. Unfortunately for him she was taken
suddenly ill, and being ignorant of English courts made no disposition
of the property, simply telling him, on her deathbed, where it was. When
she was dead, he found to his dismay that the money could not be
obtained, as he could not establish any legal claim of ownership. Grief
at the loss of his mistress and of all his money caused the complete
break-down of the poor fellow, and he had come into the House utterly
crushed. He was a very interesting old man, being the only son of a
French noble family. His mother and father were both executed during the
Reign of Terror, and when the family property was confiscated he was but
a youth. When he grew up he studied medicine, and in the year 1802
entered Napoleon's army as a regimental surgeon. After serving with his
regiment in Germany, Italy, and Austria, he was attached to the Army of
England, as it was called, which was stationed on the heights of
Boulogne. He was there some time. Suddenly an announcement came that the
encampment would be broken up, and that the army would go to Russia. He
traversed the whole of Europe, taking part in the various engagements on
the road to Moscow, which he saw in flames. He was in the memorable
retreat, and returned to France without a scratch. On the return from
Elba he rejoined his old regiment, and, as its surgeon, fought against
the English at Waterloo. After the peace his regiment was disbanded, and
as the old soldiers of the empire were very much at a discount he
elected to come to England, where he lived since 1816. He died at the
age of ninety-five, retaining his faculties to the last. After his death
I raised a fund to bury him, by writing a letter to _The Times_, in
which I gave his history, heading my letter, "A Relic of the Grand
Armée," and asking any friends of the first Napoleon to help me in
burying him in some other place than a pauper's grave. My appeal having
brought me £25, the Empress Eugenie being one of the subscribers, he was
buried at the Catholic Cemetery at Kensal Green. There were two
seamstresses who lived in Gilbert Street, Oxford Street, who were his
countrywomen and his sole visitors, with the exception of the Catholic
priest of the French chapel in Leicester Square. I asked them and the
priest to accompany me to the funeral, which I attended as chief
mourner. On our arrival at the mortuary chapel, the coffin was placed on
a raised bier with three others. Presently two lads, wearing long black
cloaks which reached to the ground, came from the altar. When they
arrived at the spot where the coffin was resting, one lad suddenly
produced from under his cloak a censer containing fire and proceeded to
incense the quartette. How he ever carried the fiery thing without
setting fire to himself was to me a wonder. He was immediately followed
by the other lad, who, taking just as rapidly from under his cloak a
vessel like a whitewash-pot, proceeded with a brush to throw holy water
on the coffins. This being completed, the coffin was put on a truck and
we hurried away as fast as we could go through the miry ground for a
long distance to the grave. On reaching it, down went my two lady
companions on their knees in the clay. My respect for the deceased did
not carry me so far as that, especially as it was raining hard and the
ground was a mere bog. Presently the acolyte produced his whitewash-pot
and brush, and I was courteously asked to sprinkle the poor fellow's
coffin with holy water, which I did. This having been also done by my
companions, I was amused by a little girl about fourteen, who, suddenly
taking the brush and pot from one of the young women, went to work
sprinkling in grand style, and, what was rather alarming, let me in for
more than I had expected. On our return journey the priest asked me to
attend service in the Catholic Chapel, in Leicester Square, on the next
Sunday. This I did. He was a very gentlemanly person. He thanked me very
much for the little service I was enabled to render to the poor old
French doctor, whom I missed very much, as it was my habit to sit beside
the old man's bed and hear him fight his battles o'er again.

The opposition to the removal of the sick to the Asylum Hospital at
Highgate continuing, and plausible ground for some action having been
shown in the fact of that establishment being so far away, a move on the
part of the Department became necessary. The old Workhouse in Cleveland
Street being no longer wanted by the Strand Board (as they had built a
new House at Edmonton), it was proposed to pull down and rebuild an
additional Asylum Hospital upon the site. The vestry of St. James's,
instigated by the Chairman of the Board, gave a determined opposition
to the proposition. But for once the Department was firm and the
hospital was built. At first the four Unions were associated in its use
and management, but after a time its use for the reception of acute
cases was limited to the St. Giles's, and St. George's, Bloomsbury, the
Strand, and Westminster Unions. The Chairman having for a time retired
from the Board, his place was filled by a fresh Chairman, and no
obstacle being made to my utilization of Cleveland Street Asylum,
suitable cases were transferred there, to the relief of the Westminster
House, which, through the resistance of the Board, had become
inconveniently full. The new Chairman was a very weak man, who was
neither by his financial position or general intelligence justified in
aspiring to hold such an office. It is possible that if he had devoted
the time he spent at the Board and at the Sick Asylum to his private
business he might have delayed, and possibly have staved off, his
eventual bankruptcy and ultimate death in the Asylum Hospital in
Cleveland Street, to the building of which he gave the most determined
opposition. His successor as Chairman was a surgeon in Soho, who was a
man of very fair attainments, and during the time he occupied the chair
the business of the Board was carried on with remarkable success. I
received from him the most generous support, and during his tenure of
office my official life was hardly chequered by a single cloud.

I have spoken of the clerk of the Board as having expressed a favourable
opinion of the economy I had effected on my first entrance on my duties.
The clerk had occupied a similar position at St. Martin's prior to its
amalgamation with the Strand Union. As I never went near the clerk of
that Union after the discovery of his perfidy in making, in conjunction
with Catch, a false charge against me, I was often at a loss to know to
whom I could go when any difficulty cropped up. Having had an
introduction to this clerk, I frequently called and consulted him;
consequently I was not surprised when, through the loss of his office,
as the result of St. Martin's being joined to the remaining parishes of
the old Strand Union, he was without employment, that he should call on
me and invoke my good offices in favour of his being appointed to a
similar position in the Westminster Union--the gentleman who had filled
the office and that of vestry clerk for St. James's having elected to
continue in the latter office only, and not to combine therewith any
appointment under the Poor Law. Having some influence in St. Anne's at
that time, and being also known in St. James's, I gave him my support,
with the result that he was elected clerk to the Board. He never
exhibited gratitude for my doing this; indeed, on the contrary, he was
distinctly hostile to me during the first few years after my
appointment, more especially in all matters relating to lunatics, the
truth being that he had a sympathy with all those who were alleged to be
of unsound mind, arising, I consider, from the fact that he had a
consciousness of not being quite right himself. During the
two-and-twenty years I knew him I never saw him half-a-dozen times with
a shirt on. I do not state that he never wore one, it was simply never
visible; what did duty for it was a sheet of more or less crumpled
whitey-brown paper. His clothes were as torn and ragged as those of the
most poverty-stricken casual--his shoes down at heel, and the legs of
his seedy-looking black trousers hanging in rags. He always complained
of being so very poor through the strain put upon him in having to
support some needy relatives. His condition and poverty-stricken
appearance were often the subject of conversation and commiseration:
"Poor fellow," it used to be said, "he has had a great deal of trouble,
and is very poor." It was therefore a matter of great astonishment to
find, after his death, which took place somewhat suddenly, that he was
possessed of several thousand pounds. He died without making any will,
and there was a legal struggle among distant relations as to who should
secure his very considerable belongings. I have frequently noticed on
the part of eccentric people this disbelief in and morbid sympathy with
lunatics, and believe it to arise from a species of innate consciousness
of mental deficiency, and a fear lest they also should be incarcerated.

One morning, some time before his death, he came to me in my room and
showed me a letter he had received from the military Commandant of
Devonport Barracks Hospital, which was to the effect that they had a
young soldier under treatment for lunacy, who, in his attestation when
enlisting, had stated that he belonged to St. James's, London, and that
the authorities determined to send him up to us. The clerk said to me,
"That does not show that he belongs here, as there are several St.
James's in London; I shall write and refuse to take him until his
settlement has been determined." But he reckoned without his host, for
when did the military ever recognize the civil power? The same evening I
was requested to go to the insane ward, where I found the young soldier,
and the attendant informed me that he had been brought by a corporal and
left in the ward, and that the corporal said that he should call the
next day for the hospital clothes. The attendant also stated that when
brought in the man's hands were tied together behind his back. I could
make nothing of the poor fellow, as no history was brought with him, and
he would not speak. As he appeared to be very exhausted I ordered him
some milk, beef-tea, and wine, and desired that when the corporal called
the next day he should be detained, so that I might learn something
about the patient, but when asked to stay and explain, the corporal
would not stop.

On visiting the man on the next morning I found that he had taken
nothing, and as he would not open his mouth, speak to me, nor do
anything, I sent for the stomach-pump and some of the strongest of the
pauper inmates, that he might be fed by artificial means. It took four
to take him out of bed, secure him in a chair, and to assist me to get
his mouth open, when I made the dreadful discovery that all his teeth
had recently been broken away in the forcible efforts that had been made
to feed him. After a most desperate struggle I administered some
beef-tea, arrowroot, and wine. This had to be repeated for two or three
days, until the necessary certificates were ready, which enabled me to
send him away to Hanwell. I was so disgusted with the barbarous manner
in which the young man had been treated, that I wrote an indignant
letter to the military authorities at Devonport, complaining of his
treatment, and their neglect in sending the poor fellow to the Workhouse
without affording any history of his case. The reply was a cool denial
of the truth of my statement, and an assertion that he took his food
readily and without artificial feeding. I sent this letter to the
medical superintendent of Hanwell, and asked for his opinion, when he
replied that the man had been forcibly fed for some time, and that his
teeth had been destroyed in doing so. I then wrote an account of the
case and sent it to Dr. Lush, M.P. for Salisbury, and asked him to see
the Minister for War on the subject, and in the House to ask the
question I had drafted.

A few days after Dr. Lush replied, telling me that he had seen the
Minister, who read the statement, and said he thought that it was a very
shocking story, but he hoped that I would not press for an official
inquiry, as it would ruin the officers inculpated, and promised that he
would send out to all military hospitals such an instructional letter as
would prevent the occurrence of such things in future. Dr. Lush also
added, "I have promised not to press the matter, especially as the
Minister for War did not hesitate to tell me that he entirely believed
your statement," and continuing, said, "I know, Rogers, you do not want
to ruin anybody, and if the matter is made public there will be a
dreadful row, and the whole blame will be thrown on the doctor." I
reluctantly assented to this view, and the matter dropped.

The poor fellow was afterwards proved not to belong to St. James's,
Westminster, but to some parish in the East End. He did not remain
chargeable to any parish very long, as he died soon after at Hanwell.
Dr. Raynor, when I appealed to him for his opinion, stated that if I had
not written at the time of his admission and explained how I had become
possessed of the man, he should have felt it his duty to have made a
special representation to the Commissioners in Lunacy as to the
condition he was in on admission, and the barbarous usage he had

When at the Strand I was required to give the certificate in lunacy and
attend before the magistrates in its support, and was paid a fee for my
trouble; when appointed to the Westminster Union it was arranged that my
salary should include all extra fees, particularly because the
magistrates at Great Marlborough Street, contrary to the statute,
required two certificates. The Guardians being unwilling to pay the
fees of two medical men, the medical man called upon to give the second
certificate was paid. As this appointment was dependent on the caprice
of the Board, it frequently happened that the other medical man, who was
aware of the feeling of certain of the Guardians, would refuse to
endorse my opinion, but I always succeeded in getting my way in the end.
One medical man who held this office for some time was constantly
striving to secure favour by giving the most unaccountable certificates
as to the condition of the lunatic submitted to him. I had the
satisfaction of getting rid of him at last, but not until he had given
me and the officers of the House a great deal of unnecessary trouble and
annoyance. In addition to this, the magistrates at Great Marlborough
Street, forgetting altogether that when two certificates were presented
their duty became simply a ministerial one, would frequently decline to
certify for removal of undeniably insane persons, and direct the return
to the House for further observation. No magistrate was more original in
this way than Mr. Newton, of Miss Cass notoriety. Over and over again
Mr. Newton has set up his expression of opinion in opposition to my
certificate and that of the extern, but after giving unnecessary trouble
and delaying the removal of the patient, thereby diminishing her or his
chance of recovery, he would eventually be obliged to affix his
signature to the certificate. To such an extent did this action prevail,
and so much were the officers worried by this magistrate, that it became
a custom on the part of the removal officer to send and inquire what
magistrate would be on the bench, and if he found it was Mr. Newton, to
take the case on the next day when he was not there.

As I am on the subject of lunacy, and as I believe that much mischief
has ensued from the laity assuming that persons are improperly confined
in asylums, I will relate one or two instances of ill results that have
followed from treating insane persons as responsible for their conduct
when a very small amount of consideration of their actions would show
that they were of unsound mind. Upon one occasion, on going into the
male insane ward, a tall, decent-looking man, turned round and looked at
me. His aspect instantly told me that he was of unsound mind. To my
inquiry where he came from the attendant replied, "I do not know, sir;
all I do know is that his wife brought him here yesterday and left him".
I spoke to the poor fellow, and was perfectly convinced that he was
insane. I directed the attendant to go for the wife. On my return from
the wards to the consulting-room I found a decent-looking little woman
waiting my arrival. To my inquiry what she wanted, she said, "You sent
for me." "Oh," I replied, "you are the wife of that poor fellow over the
way in the insane ward--how long has he been out of his mind, and where
have you brought him from?" To my astonishment she burst into tears, at
the same time saying, "He came out of prison yesterday, sir." "Out of
prison," I replied; "why, how could he have got into a prison? That poor
man has, to my certain knowledge, been a lunatic for a long while." She
immediately said, "Yes, sir, I have known it for nearly a twelvemonth,
but no one but you has ever said so before." I told her to compose
herself and tell me his history, when she stated as follows: "We have
been married about five years, and a better husband no woman could have
had, but about a twelvemonth ago he complained of his head, and could
not sleep or work as he had done. I did my best to cheer him up, and
told him to struggle against the feeling and all would come right. His
occupation was that of a coat-maker for one of the best West End master
tailors. One afternoon, some months ago, he threw down a coat he was
making, saying he could not go on with it, he must go out, which he did.
About an hour afterwards a policeman came to tell me my husband was in
Vine Street Police Station, and that he had been taken up for stealing.
I hurried there, when I heard that, walking along Little Pulteney
Street, he came opposite a poulterer's shop, when, suddenly springing on
the show-board, he clambered up by the hooks till he reached the top,
and, taking off a hare, he put it over his shoulder, and jumping down
some ten feet, he stood there. The proprietor gave him into custody. The
next day he was taken before Mr. Knox, who committed him for a term of
six weeks' imprisonment and hard labour, it being his first offence.

"Whilst he was in prison I had to part with many of my things to keep my
children. On his discharge I met him at the prison gate, and saw he was
worse. I did my best to cheer him up, and told him if he would not do
anything of the kind again I would do all I could for him. On his
reaching home I said that I had been compelled to part with some of our
things, and that, therefore, he must go to work at once. The same day I
went to one of our employers, a master tailor in Maddox Street, and
asked for some work. A dress coat was given me to make up. My husband
went to work at it, but he did it so badly that when he took it to the
shop the master refused to pay him, and gave it him back again. During
the conversation my poor husband took off a pair of black dress
trousers from a hook, and put them under his arm. He had not long left
the shop when it was discovered, and one of the shopmen, running after
him, caught him with the property. He was again given into custody, and
taken before Mr. Knox, who committed him for trial. At his trial at
Clerkenwell Sessions shortly after, he was found guilty, and evidence of
a previous conviction having been given, he was sentenced to six months'
imprisonment and hard labour. That his time was up yesterday morning,
that she had met him at the prison gate, and seeing that he was much
worse she had brought him straight to the Workhouse, so that he might be
kept out of further mischief." She followed it up by saying (with a
burst of tears), "You are the only gentleman who has ever said that he
was not right in his head, but I have known of it for months past."

I stood utterly astonished that so gross a miscarriage of justice should
have been perpetrated; that a man evidently so bereft of the knowledge
of right and wrong should have been punished as a criminal. After
inquiring where she lived, and also for some references, I told her if
my inquiries bore out what she had stated, I would publicly expose the
treatment her husband had been subjected to. I made inquiry the same
afternoon, and found that both the husband and wife had borne a most
excellent character up to the time of his first arrest. The next
morning, so soon as my official duties were over, I went to Great
Marlborough Street Police Court, and asked to see Mr. Knox. I related
the story to the magistrate. When I had finished it he was very much
affected, and expressed his regret that such a dreadful thing should
have occurred. He also went on to state that they had so many people
brought before them, and it was all done in such a hurried way, that
without special attention was drawn to a case, and if the facts were not
disputed, and if no one appeared for a prisoner, a decision was come to
at once. He further said, "I remember the poor fellow being brought
before me perfectly. I do not think that it is desirable that this story
should be made public; it can do no good. Send the wife to me and I will
give her a present from the poor-box."

When leaving the court the jailor followed me, and said, "I am pleased
you have been here. I saw that poor fellow was out of his mind on each
occasion when he was brought before the magistrate." On reaching the
street I met Mr. W. J. Fraser, Guardian, and now the Chairman of the
Board, to whom I told the circumstances. Mr. Fraser was very much
shocked at the treatment this poor lunatic had received, and that Mr.
Knox had desired that no publicity should be given to the case, and
replied, "Give it every publicity you can." That same evening I wrote to
the editor of _The Times_ the particulars of the case, and, as the poor
husband's condition was irremediable, I pleaded that monies should be
sent me to enable me to put the wife into some way of earning her
livelihood. The letter duly appeared, and caused a great deal of
sensation, many subsequent letters from gentlemen interested in the
question of lunacy being published. As a result the sum of £85 was
subscribed for the wife, and was sent to me.

It was a puzzle to me to know what to do with the money, which was not
enough to buy a chandler's shop and stock it. I decided to set the woman
up in business as a laundress at Battersea. I went there, took a
suitable cottage, and guaranteed the rent for six months. Then I went to
a firm in Holborn and purchased the laundry plant, which, under the
special circumstances of the case, was sold to me at a reduced rate. I
got a forewoman whom I borrowed from one of my patients in a large way
of business as a laundress, and started her by inducing people to
patronize her. I could do all this, but I could not make the poor woman
a laundress, and after a few months' trial she came and asked me to let
her dispose of the business and plant that she might go to her friends
in the country. I assented, for I had discovered that she was a business
failure. She sold off everything, went away, and I have never heard of
her since. Her poor husband did not long survive, and without doubt his
death was hastened by prison life and the treatment he had received
there. He died at Hanwell of general paralysis of the insane.

It would prove instructive if it could be ascertained how many poor
creatures have been similarly taken into custody, convicted, imprisoned,
and after spending more or less time in prison discharged with their
mental condition hopelessly shattered from the treatment received. Some
years since I went over the Naval Hospital at Yarmouth, for those who
had become insane whilst in the service. There were several men of
magnificent physique, who were stricken with the same kind of mental
infirmity as that which had caused the death of my unfortunate patient.
I inquired of the courteous medical superintendent whether he had any
history of these men. He said yes. I asked whether the first evidence of
their mental ailment was not the exhibition of some departure from
discipline or of theft, or some other action which was totally at
variance with their previous conduct. He informed me that their records
showed that such was the case.

Woful results have followed the action of judges and police magistrates
in dealing with numbers of their fellow-creatures as criminals when they
rather required a nurse and skilful attention than the rough services of
a prison warder. But then this deplorable condition of things will
continue so long as such scant consideration is shown to the actions of
the poor, who, being without means, cannot command the services either
of barristers or solicitors.

It was during the reign of the Chairman of the Board who subsequently
died in Cleveland Street Asylum, that one of the most extraordinary
cases of lunacy I ever witnessed came under notice--extraordinary in one
sense only, viz., in the manifest determination of certain officials to
prevent me from sending to the asylum one of the most artful and yet
hopeless lunatics I ever encountered.

Originally she had been admitted as a woman of unsound mind. I examined
her at the time, and at once filled in a certificate that she was a case
for removal to an asylum. She was not, however, sent away, as the clerk
intervened, and at the next meeting of the Board he showed that the
woman was the wife of the parish broker, who was a man of means and
quite able to keep his wife in a private asylum, whereupon it was
ordered that the husband should take her out. After her return home her
husband asked me to see her; he could not live with her, her conduct was
in every way so objectionable. I saw her again, certified that she was
of unsound mind, and she was sent to St. Luke's, and her husband paid £1
a week for her maintenance therein. Getting tired of this, for he was a
most penurious person, he took her out. Sometime after he was taken ill
and died, leaving upwards of £4,000. Dying intestate, his property was
divided between two brothers and the widow, her share, the third, being
upwards of £1,500. The solicitor who wound up the estate, recognizing
her mental condition, tried to induce her to let him invest the money in
some security, but she refused. She would have her money paid over to
her absolutely. This was in November. By the middle of the following
August the money was all gone. She had squandered it all away; and
having by her habits, which were to the last degree objectionable,
caused her ejection from one lodging after another, the relieving
officer was again called in, and removed this wretched woman to the
Workhouse insane ward. She brought with her a large amount of property
which was not convertible into cash. Now, it may be asked, How was the
large sum of £1,500 got rid of in but little over eight months? The
explanation is a sad one. The first thing this poor woman did was to buy
some £24 worth of plants in pots, which were taken to a furnished room
she had hired in Gerrard Street, Soho. She never attempted to attend to
them in any way, and, therefore, in a very short time they were all
dead. She then sent to a well-known drapery business in Regent Street to
buy some clothes. Before she left the shop the person in the department
she went to had induced her to buy some £300 worth of personal clothing,
which was all sent to this single room in Gerrard Street. She also went
to a pianoforte manufacturer in Regent Street, and purchased a sixty
guinea piano, at the same time being absolutely ignorant of music; and
if any one had taken much trouble they must have recognized by her
appearance her mental deficiency. About two months after she first
purchased at this draper's shop, the shopwoman who had sold her £300
worth of clothing, called on her in Gerrard Street, and, although this
room contained the dead flowers and unopened boxes of the first
purchase, she induced her to buy £250 worth more, thus making a total
of £550 expended by a poor insane woman. The Rector of St. Anne's, Soho,
informed me that she regularly attended the sacrament, and always put £1
in the plate in new gold. What made the conduct of the shopkeeper of the
firm in Regent Street the more inexcusable was that at the time she
called on her the woman was in such a state, in consequence of her dirty
habits, as to be plainly insane, and this compelled the landlady shortly
afterwards to insist on her leaving the house, as all the other lodgers
complained. When she was first admitted to the Workhouse her habits were
so repulsive that she was an intolerable nuisance to the other inmates
and nurses, for she was alive with parasites.

I considered the treatment this poor creature had received at the hands
of the proprietors of the drapery establishment so abominable that it
merited exposure, and with that view I called on a gentleman connected
with the Press, and asked him to take the matter up. He declined, as it
was not within the province of his journal. At the same time he gave me
an introduction to the editor of _Truth_, who he said would do so. On
going home I drew up a history of the case, and sent it in a letter
marked private to the editor, enclosing the letter of introduction, and
asking that he would grant me an interview, when we might arrange for
publishing my statements without my name appearing. I received no answer
from the editor, but a day or two afterwards I was told that my
statement had been published _in extenso_ in _Truth_. A day or two after
that the Chairman, who lived nearly opposite the draper's shop, called
on me and stated that he was deputed by the firm to inform me that if I
did not at once write to the editor of _Truth_ and disavow the letter
and story an action for libel would be commenced against me without
delay. My answer was as follows: "Go back to this firm and say that I
did not give any authority for the story to appear as it has done, but
as it is all absolutely true I shall decline to withdraw or modify a
single syllable." I certainly did write to the editor and complained of
the way in which he had published the story, and told him of the threat
which had been made of prosecuting me. The only result was that an
annotation appeared in the next week's issue which, under the guise of
an explanation, made the scandalous story a great deal worse. The firm
did not prosecute me or the editor of _Truth_.

It would be imagined by my readers that there would have been no
difficulty in getting this poor woman sent to an asylum, but I never had
greater trouble in my life, owing to the action of Mr. Newton, the
police magistrate at Great Marlborough Street. Five times during the
five months that she was detained in the insane ward, where her habits
were most disgusting and highly objectionable to the other inmates and
to the nurses, I certified for her removal. On each occasion she was
sent back by this magistrate. Hearing that he was gone for a holiday, I,
for the sixth time, filled in a certificate and went with her and my
out-door colleague to the police office. To my surprise I found the
Chairman of the Board and two of his friends, members of the Board, in
attendance to give evidence in this woman's favour. The clerk had found
out what I was doing, and had sent word to them. At the hearing before
the magistrate they attempted to interrupt me in my evidence, but they
were very properly put down by the magistrate. He at once countersigned
the certificate and she was removed. But my troubles were not at an end.
The trio sent to the Commissioners in Lunacy an intimation that I had
unjustifiably sent a sane woman to Hanwell Asylum. Upon this coming to
my knowledge I went there to see her, when the medical superintendent
of the female side informed me that a special letter had been sent from
the Lunacy Commissioners requiring him, at the end of three weeks, to
send a detailed account of the case to them. He said, "I never met with
such a case. I was sure from your certificate she must be insane, but
she pulled herself together so wonderfully and was so well conducted
that I had come to the conclusion that you must be mistaken, when
suddenly she broke down, and her insanity became apparent, and I have
reported in that sense to the Commissioners in Lunacy." This story
illustrates the utter absurdity of the provision in the Lord
Chancellor's Bill committing the examination of these cases to a county
court judge, police magistrate, or Justice of the Peace, who cannot
possibly understand anything about the varied phases which insanity
presents. The district medical officer who jointly filled in the
certificate with me was deprived of his office, and a more manageable
person was elected by the Board in his stead--that person I have before
referred to in the earlier part of this narrative as giving me so much
needless trouble.

Some three years ago I had occasion to go to Hanwell. Whilst there I
asked whether the woman was still in the asylum. On learning that she
was I expressed a desire to see her, when the superintendent medical
officer gave directions that she should be brought down. Immediately on
seeing me she sprung upon me, and, before I was able to defend myself,
pinioned me in her arms, at the same time imploring that I would take
her away with me. It took three able-bodied women to release me from her
grasp. Should I ever go to Hanwell again I will keep clear of her. I
have had quite enough of her. She is a hopelessly incurable lunatic. As
she gets older she will become more and more demented, and will be
eventually removed to some imbecile establishment.

The female insane ward at the Westminster Union was always full, and
when a noisy or dangerous lunatic was sent in, and whilst the necessary
steps were being taken to get them away, the harmless patients had
anything but a pleasant time of it. But then the comfort of these people
was never at any time considered by those members of the Board who
considered themselves authorities in lunacy. Fortunately they could not
state that my action arose from the desire to get a fee, as I was never
paid one, but they did say that I sent them away as I did not want to
attend to them.

We had on several occasions very amusing cases of lunacy. One of the
most so was a Welshman, who, until he lost his reason, had been a very
respectable journeyman tailor. I was asked to see him by a member of the
Vestry in whose house he lodged, and who gave him a most excellent
character for honesty and industry. He had saved money, and was
exceptionally respectable in his appearance and conduct. On being shown
into his room he rose and received me with much politeness. I noticed a
quantity of ladies' underclothing on the table, and evidently intended
for some small woman, as the various things were all on the same
diminutive scale. On asking what it all meant he said, "Oh, that is for
the lady I am about to marry. I have just purchased a complete set of
ladies' underclothing as a present for my future bride." "Indeed," I
said, "is it usual for the gentleman to buy his future wife's
underclothing?" "Well," he replied, "perhaps not, but I am a very
particular person, and my wife must dress as a lady." "Just so," I said,
"but how have you managed to get all these things so exactly arranged as
to size?" To which he replied, "You see, I am accustomed to measure
people, and I have taken my dear little girl's size exactly." I then
took up a pair of some two dozen of kid gloves, with the remark, "You
have bought her some good gloves, at any rate." "Do you think so?" he
said. "Do oblige me by taking a pair away with you; they may suit one of
your daughters." As his insanity was undoubted, I suggested his removal
to the insane ward. This was carried out. On seeing me next day in the
House he spoke rapturously of the ward he was in, and of his companions,
all of whom he had invited to his wedding. They would have been
sorry-looking persons to have made part of a company at a

I was so amused at this poor fellow's delusions that next day I took one
of my young lady relatives to see him. On my asking the attendant to
bring him out into the yard, he came. At first he looked dazed, but,
seeing a young lady, he ran towards her, and, peeping under her bonnet,
he looked up and said, "She is devilishly like Mary Jane," this being
the only name he had for his imaginary future wife. My young companion
was so tickled that she burst into a hearty laugh in which the poor
fellow joined. Subsequently he was sent to Hanwell. On visiting the
asylum some months afterwards I asked to see him, when he was sent for.
On entering the room he recognized me instantly, and expressed his
gratification at my calling to see him. His delusions were as marked as
ever. As I had gone there on other business I resumed my conversation
with Dr. Raynor, and forgot our Welsh friend altogether. Presently we
both went out into the yard, when, to our astonishment, we found that he
had gone out, and would have escaped altogether if he had not luckily
been observed and taken back to his ward. Poor fellow! Some time after
he was removed to Wales, where he was settled, and he ultimately died of
general paralysis, and so the contemplated wedding was adjourned _sine
die_. The underclothing, gloves, silk stockings, &c., were all sold to
help pay for his maintenance. I never saw such a genial and absolutely
happy lunatic. He lived in the company of his imaginary Mary Jane. It
must not, however, be imagined that all are so light-hearted as this
Welshman. I have encountered homicidal lunatics, and have personally
experienced what some are capable of, having sometimes sustained severe
assaults from incautiously going too near them.

Early in 1872 the present Chairman of the Westminster Union, W. J.
Fraser, Esq., solicitor, asked me to visit the Rev. H. Watson, ex-master
of Stockwell Grammar School, who was then located in Horsemonger Lane
Gaol on the charge of killing his wife. I did so, and after an interview
which lasted an hour, came away and wrote a report that in my judgment
he was of unsound mind. I formed that opinion from the levity of his
manner, his self-exaltation, his total indifference to his fate, the
absence of all regret for what he had done, and the absolute want of any
feeling on the subject. He was lost in the belief that his services in
the education of youth precluded the possibility of any punishment for
his deed. At the Old Bailey, as I was about being called upon to give
evidence, the counsel who defended him, the late Sergeant Parry, called
me over to tell me that they had decided not to call me as a witness,
but only just to support the views of the others. He said, "We think you
may be a dangerous witness." After asking me a few questions he said,
"You can stand down." But I was not to stand down, for the prosecuting
counsel, Mr. Poland, immediately proceeded to severely cross-examine me.
But to all his questions I had my reply ready, and after some half
hour's trial of questions and answers I managed to get out all the
points on which I relied to prove Watson's mental unsoundness. When I
got down Dr. Blandford said, "You have done well; you have convinced the
judge;" which was shown in his summing up and in his after action at the
Home Office.

Whilst under cross-examination I spoke of his enormous self-exaltation,
&c., giving instances, whereupon Mr. Poland said, in a professional tone
of voice, "Oh, you consider that is a sign of insanity, do you?" "Well,"
I said, "seeing he was only a schoolmaster, I do." Whereupon Watson, who
was listening attentively to my evidence, wrote on a piece of paper and
gave it to Mr. Fraser for presentation to his counsel. He had written,
"What does this d----d fellow mean by calling me 'only a schoolmaster'?"
After his conviction and sentence he was removed to Horsemonger Lane
Gaol. When Mr. Fraser went to see him next day the only thing he
complained of was my having spoken of him as only a schoolmaster. He had
nothing to say about his conviction and fate; as regards that he was
absolutely indifferent. There was a terrible row in the Press about this
man, and the doctors were all condemned for their efforts to prove that
his mind was unhinged. It was therefore some comfort to me when, in
going down the street in which I then lived some few days after, I saw
Lord Elliot, the son of the Earl of St. Germains. On meeting me he
crossed over the road, came up to me, and holding out his hand and
taking mine he said, "I see you have been figuring at the Old Bailey."
"Yes, my lord," I replied; "I hope, however, you do not think I have
done wrong in giving the evidence I did?" "Oh no," he said; "I have just
come from the Home Office, and have met there the Lord Chief Justice
(Cockburn) and Mr. Justice Byles, who have both advised the Home
Secretary that they consider that the plea of insanity was, in their
judgment, fully sustained: at any rate, he will not be hanged." His
sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life. Poor old Watson was
sent to Parkhurst Prison. Some years after the governor and surgeon
informed me that he preserved the same callous and indifferent manner
which I had described at his trial. His only complaint was that he could
not get the particular copy of the Greek Testament he wanted, and he
never to the last referred to or expressed any regret for the act he had

After I had been at the Workhouse some two years I was requested by the
Board to go down and take temporary charge of the Union school at
Wandsworth Common. It would appear that there had been a quarrel
between the superintendent matron and the medical officer, and an
official inquiry having been held by a Poor Law Inspector he had
reported that he could not decide which was in the wrong; he would
advise the Board to call on all three to resign at the end of the
following Midsummer quarter.

The medical officer, Dr. Noel, who, strange to say, had been a
schoolfellow of mine nearly fifty years before, at once sent in his
resignation. I took over the duty at the end of April, and had charge of
the schools nine weeks. It was a very pleasant excuse for an outing, and
as the Common at that time was not much built upon and the gorse was in
full bloom, it made for me a very agreeable change. At the Midsummer
quarter a new medical officer was appointed, and my temporary
appointment came to an end. There was extremely little sickness during
the time I had charge of the establishment, and I therefore came to the
conclusion that the only possible explanation of the quarrelling was
because they had so very little to do. My successor was appointed on the
distinct understanding that in the event of any serious illness
occurring he was to send for me. His neglect to do this led, some five
years afterwards, to his being called on to resign, and to my being put
again in control of the schools and retention of the office for eight
months. The occasion for my being sent down the second time was a
serious outbreak of ophthalmia which had taken place, one-half of the
school, about sixty children, being more or less affected with it. I
could not afford the time or undergo the fatigue to go there every day,
so on my return home I made a report to the Board that on condition that
the Board gave me full powers to act as I thought best I would root out
the epidemic. This was assented to, whereupon I brought back forty-eight
of the worst cases to the Workhouse, and isolated them in the large
wards at the top of the main building. I also brought with me the nurse
and assistant school-mistress. I told the Board that some of the cases
were so very bad that I must be allowed to call in an ophthalmic surgeon
to aid me in my treatment. This was also assented to. I also arranged
that the children should go for a run in the park every day, weather
permitting. I considered the dietary of the children, and, finding it to
be wholly insufficient, I amended it. I adopted a similar course at the
school. Fortunately for the children the Chairman of the Board, a
medical man, supported me in all I advised and did. I had the children's
hospital at the school whitewashed and painted green and varnished, the
walls stopped and covered with neatly-framed engravings kindly sent me
by the proprietors of _The Graphic_. At the end of eight months I gave
up the appointment, leaving the children perfectly well, except in a few
cases where irretrievable mischief had taken place ere I was called in.
Much of my success was due to the Chairman of the Board, the late Mr.
Henry Cooper, of Soho, who throughout gave me the most generous and
unfaltering support. Many of these poor children would have hopelessly
gone blind if it had not happened that at the period of the epidemic the
Board fortunately possessed an intelligent and public spirited Chairman.
Not a very long time afterwards he was taken ill, and after lingering
some time died, to be succeeded by another person who, most unluckily
for the welfare of the House, had again been returned as a member of the
Board and elected the Chairman.

About some two years after my appointment a woman, extremely ill, was
brought from Vine Street Police Station. She was an unfortunate, as it
is called, who had been taken ill in the cell. Repeated requests from
her for attendance met with no attention. At last, her condition
appearing desperate even to the constables, the divisional surgeon was
sent for, who directed that she should at once be removed to the
Workhouse. She was brought in on a stretcher, and I was summoned to
attend her without delay. I found that she was dying, and not a long
while afterwards she succumbed. A coroner's inquiry taking place I made
a post mortem, when I found that she had died from the rupture on an
aneurism of the abdominal aorta, which, giving way in the loins, had
slowly infiltrated the tissues until, a vent being found, the whole
thing gave way. There is no doubt that this rupture had been
precipitated by the violence attending her arrest. The verdict, under
the direction of the coroner, led to a censure of the police for their
inhumanity and indifference. The ultimate result was to immensely add to
my troubles, as will hereafter be shown.

Just at this time the old and sagacious surgeon of the division died,
and his place was sought after by several medical men living in the
neighbourhood of the two police stations in St. James's, some of whom
were men of acknowledged position. The gift of the appointment was
vested in the Chief Surgeon of Police, Mr. Timothy Holmes, of St.
George's Hospital. He gave the office to one of his old pupils who at
the time was non-resident, but who at once took a house in Jermyn
Street. It was not very long before I experienced the result of the
change. Case after case was sent into the House from the two stations
with certificates that the persons were ill when they were undeniably
and plainly drunk. At first I complained of this to the inspectors, but
it led to no result. I then wrote to the Commissioners of Police,
complaining of the annoyance. I got only an official reply. At last the
nuisance became so great, for we were always called to these police
cases sent in from the station in the small hours of the morning, that I
again wrote to the Commissioners and requested an interview. This was
granted. I took with me my assistant who had been principally called out
of bed to attend to these cases, sometimes only to dress a wound which
the police surgeon was too indolent to do himself although he was paid a
fee for each visit. On arrival we stated our complaint, but, although
the Commissioners listened to us attentively, not much benefit accrued.
It is true they stated that an inquiry should be made and instructions
given and that more care should be exhibited. Some time after this I
happened to be at the gate when a constable brought a perfectly drunken
woman, who, he said, had fallen down in a fit. I said, "Why, she is only
drunk and incapable; take her away to the station;" and turning to the
master I said, "Do not admit her." An entertainment was being held that
evening which I had assisted to get up, and I went on into the
dining-hall. About an hour afterwards the master came to me and said,
"They have brought that woman back with a certificate from the doctor
that she is dangerously ill." I went to see her. She was only a shade
more under the influence of liquor than she was before, but, not caring
to contest the subject any further, I directed that she should be sent
to the receiving ward and put to bed. The next morning on seeing her she
had got over the drunkenness, and she owned to me that she had been only
drunk the night before. On going to my room I directed that a special
messenger should take a letter from me to the station, telling the
inspector on duty that the woman that had been sent in the night before
alleged to be ill, had confessed to having been only drunk, and
requesting him to send a constable and take her away. The constable
came. In the after-part of the day, a constable of that division called
at my house and said that Mr. Newton requested that I should attend the
police court the next morning. I went, when I found the woman there and
the divisional surgeon. The magistrate, before hearing a word from me,
proceeded to inveigh against me for my action in the matter, and
peremptorily ordered me to admit the woman at once. The divisional
surgeon also jumped up and protested against my refusal to admit the
woman, and stated, to my astonishment, that she had heart disease, and
that she was a confirmed epileptic. I mildly replied that she was
suffering under nothing of the kind, but Mr. Newton told me to leave the
court. The woman did not come into the Workhouse until the evening, and
she was then under the influence of drink.

On my return to the Workhouse I told the master what had occurred, and
also asked him if he knew where she came from. "Oh," he said, "the
receiving wards woman informs me that she belongs to Whitechapel Union,
whose clothes she is wearing." I then asked him to write to the master
of the Whitechapel Union and ask him what he knew of her. In less than
twenty-four hours the reply came. It was to the effect that she was one
of the most abandoned characters ever in their House; that she did not
suffer from fits, though she often assumed to have one; that she never
went out except to return drunk; that she had no heart disease, but was
a hale, hearty woman; that on the day she went out, wearing the House
clothes, it was after three months' detention, she having returned on
the last occasion drunk and disorderly.

Having received this report, I sent it to Mr. Newton. At the same time I
protested against his having sent for me to attend his court, and for
the remarks he had made to me on the faith of the opinion expressed by a
person of very little experience, and further informed him that I should
continue to protest against the use of the wards of the Workhouse as a
receptacle for merely drunken men and women, and should advise the
master accordingly.

The annoyance still continuing, I made a point of sending for the police
each morning after every drunken admission. Then a new antagonistic
element was imported in the shape of a letter to the Local Government
Board from Mr. Timothy Holmes, containing a complaint against me for the
trouble I was giving the police authorities in objecting to the
reception of sick people from the station to the Workhouse. The letter
having been sent to me to answer, I forwarded to the Local Government
Board the names of some sixty persons brought in by the police under
the certificate of the divisional surgeon, and showed that two-thirds of
the entire number were proved to be only drunk and incapable, and that
the rest were, in the majority of instances, very trivial cases of
illness. The nuisance after this was very much diminished.

It may be asked, What are the police to do with persons who allege that
they are ill? Are these complaints to be disregarded? Certainly not. But
I contend that reasonable care should be taken by police surgeons,
before they send cases of alleged illness to a workhouse infirmary; for
it must be remembered that they are paid a fee for each visit and
examination. To go, therefore, to the station, make a cursory
examination, and then write a certificate that the person is seriously
ill and must be removed without delay, or in the case of a simply cut
head send it at once away to the infirmary for the workhouse surgeon to
get out of bed and dress it, is, in my judgment, an entirely
unsatisfactory procedure, especially as the latter is paid no special
fee, be his trouble ever so great. There was nothing in all my duty as a
workhouse medical officer, which irritated me more than these police
cases. I remember on one occasion a superintendent of police said to me,
"I hold that if after our surgeon makes these mistakes he were to
forfeit his fee, which should be paid to you, you would not have many

Sometimes the police brought cases of interest. On one occasion two
Italian children were admitted. One was a boy of nine, clean and well
nourished, the other was a little fellow of about five, wonderfully
emaciated, and bearing about his little lean body evidence of recent
ill-usage. The parents, who were Italian Jews, had been taken into
custody for maltreating this child, and had been remanded. He was
dreadfully dirty. I had him weighed and found that he was much lighter
than he should have been, regard being had to his age. He was ravenous;
but he had to be fed with care so as to prevent mischief. His parents
had been remanded for a week, and a good-natured constable of the C
Division who had intervened and got the parents arrested came and asked
me to attend at the re-examination. Before taking the child to the court
I again weighed him, and found he had gained three pounds. After some
four remands at each of which I was enabled to show he had gained in
weight, the parents were committed for trial. I attended as a witness at
the Old Bailey when the trial came on, and the parents were convicted
and sentenced to eighteen months' imprisonment with hard labour. The
poor little fellow was brought back to our House, whilst the elder
brother was sent to the school.

Foreseeing what was probably in store for this unhappy child, if he ever
passed into the hands of his unnatural parents, I wrote to _The Times_
paper, and pointed out what would be the inevitable fate of this boy
when his parents came out of prison and claimed possession of him, and
pointed out that, as the Italian Consul had found counsel for the
defence of the parents at the trial, I trusted that they would find some
means whereby the child might be secured against further ill-treatment.
On the same day that the letter appeared, I received a letter from the
Consul asking me to call on him, which I did, when he told me that he
would bring the case under the attention of the King of Italy. Some
three weeks after I received a communication stating that the King had
resolved to take the child, and bring him up at the cost of the State,
as a ward of the Italian Government. Some ten days afterwards a tailor
came and measured him for clothing, and a messenger from the Italian
Consul having given an undertaking to the Board, he was taken away and I
saw him no more. If alive he must be now some eighteen years old. I
write "if alive," for the poor little fellow had a singular deformity.
He had no abdominal muscles; what did duty for them was a dull,
parchment-like-looking structure, stretched across the abdomen. One
could make out without much difficulty the various abdominal organs. I
had never seen anything like it before. Strange to relate, just at this
time a young lady from Natal was sent over to me with a request from her
parents that I would ask some expert to see her. On her arrival I found
that she had exactly the same infirmity. The late Dr. Alfred Meadows,
who saw her with me, would not believe my statement at all until he had
himself seen and examined her. Her mother was very anxious to know
whether she might be permitted to marry the gentleman to whom she was
engaged. We gave a guarded opinion on the subject, and she returned to
Natal, and was married, and has two or three children. I therefore trust
that the little Jew Italian boy has also survived. I have never heard
anything of him since he left the Poland Street Workhouse.

One morning in 1877, shortly after I had left the House, the attendant
came round to my residence, and informed me of the almost sudden death
of the master, who was at my official visit half an hour before
apparently in good health. He had never been partial to me, as my system
of management clashed considerably with the stereotyped arrangements
that had prevailed in the House prior to my appointment, and I very much
question whether he ever approved of my having caused almost everything
consumed in the House to be supplied under contract. He did not openly
quarrel with me, but contented himself with passive resistance; and if I
complained of any order not being carried out, he always excused himself
by saying, Did you give an order for this, that, and the other? all the
time knowing full well, that I had given the order. A striking instance
of this obstructiveness occurred in the first autumn and winter after I
took office. I had asked the Board's permission that some jackets should
be supplied for the sick men and some shawls for the women, which they
might wear when sitting up in bed to keep their chests and shoulders
warm. This application was made to the Board of Guardians early in
October, and was at once acceded to. Week after week went by, and in
spite of repeated requests made by me, either to the master or matron,
no notice was taken beyond the same answer which was always given when
the one or the other thought fit to reply at all, "Oh, I have given the
order for the material and for the shawls, but the contractor is so
negligent, he has not sent us in the goods."

In the early part of January I received a letter from Dr. Mouatt, Poor
Law Inspector, stating that he had been instructed by the Local
Government Board to go over the House and see how many persons could be
described as fit to be sent away to the Sick Asylum, and, as he wished
me to accompany him, he desired to know what day would suit me best. In
reply I fixed the next Sunday, and as I did not wish the master to
accompany us, for I knew he would report all that took place to the
Board, I wrote in that sense to Dr. Mouatt. Dr. Mouatt came on the
following Sunday morning. I had told the master he was coming, and, just
as I expected, he stayed away from chapel, in order to go with us. Dr.
Mouatt promptly said, "As this is a purely medical visit, master, we can
dispense with your company." He coloured up and looked very much put
out, but he had to comply. As I went through the wards I told the
Inspector that I had asked the Board three months before to let me have
some shawls for the women and jackets for the men, that the Board had
given an order for them, but neither the master nor matron had supplied
them, and that I felt satisfied they did not intend to do so, to which
he quietly said, "I will soon alter that." At the same time I urged on
him the necessity of so referring to the subject, as not to make them
think I had said anything about it, but that the necessity for them had
occurred to him, "For," I said, "if you do, they will make it the
subject of an open quarrel." It was humbling to do this, but I knew what
these people would do.

At the conclusion of our examination, which lasted nearly three hours,
we returned to my room, where the master promptly joined us. On seeing
him Dr. Mouatt asked that the matron should be sent for. On her arrival
he addressed them both as follows: "I have been over the sick wards and
have seen all the sick that should be sent away and taken the number;
this I shall report to the Local Government Board. I see that your House
is kept clean and in good order, but there is one thing I notice which
must at once be altered, and that is, the large number of patients
sitting up in bed without anything over their shoulders. I have called
Dr. Rogers' attention to it, and he tells me that the Board gave an
order three months ago for jackets and shawls to be provided, but that
they have never been supplied." Both immediately began to throw the
blame on the contractor, but he cut them short by stating, "That excuse,
master and matron, will not do for me; you know as well as I do you
could have got them if you had chosen. I shall report the omission to
supply them to the Board of Guardians and also to the Local Government
Board." On hearing this they were dreadfully put out, and expressed an
earnest hope that, as it was not their fault, he would not be so severe.
"Well," he said, "I shall request the medical officer to report to me
when they are supplied, and if every person needing them is not
furnished with them before the end of the week, I shall carry out what I
have said." By the following Wednesday all my patients were provided
with them. At his death the master left some £4,000, notwithstanding he
had a large and expensive family. After his decease I learned that he
had signed a quantity of blank orders for my attendance, and had given
them to the porter with the instructions that if any person was admitted
who either looked ill or complained of being so, he was at once to send
for me. His death led to the diminution of second calls by at least
two-thirds. He was nearly always out in the after-part of the day. For
several weeks after his death the duties of master were performed by the
labour master. At last the Board advertised for a master and matron, the
appointment of matron having come to an end when the late master died.
As the Guardians were fully alive to the bad discipline which had
prevailed for so many years, they resolved to appoint two officers who
should more strictly exercise their authority. The choice of the Board
fell upon Mr. John Bliss, a corporal-major of the Life Guards, and a
Miss Heatley, lately assistant matron of the Manchester Workhouse. Both
of these officers were strict disciplinarians, and something besides, as
the sequel will show. For the first two or three years, indeed, during
the whole Chairmanship of Mr. Cooper, the surgeon, they were kept in
their places and behaved fairly well, but unfortunately for them, for
the inmates, and the Board, Mr. Cooper was taken ill and died, and
another Chairman being elected, serious results soon followed, for this
Chairman was always in the House, and when so was constantly closeted
with the master and matron in their rooms. Speedily after that the
master began to dispute my orders, and the matron did the same, and as
the Chairman again began to obstruct my sending the acutely sick inmates
away to the Sick Asylum, the House became full of sick people, who were
detained in it through the restrictions put in my way. At last the
obstruction to the performance of my duty, by both master and matron,
became almost unbearable, especially as Mr. Bliss thought fit to
accompany his refusals by telling me to go to h--l, and sundry other
coarse and blasphemous expressions; and to such an extent was it
carried, that I felt I could not put up with it. To complain to the
Board would have been perfectly futile, the majority would most
assuredly have gone against me. At last the loud-mouthed, coarse, and
outrageous blasphemy of the master quite appalled me; and this, coupled
with his refusal to obey my orders and his general interference with me
in my treatment of the sick, by deriding my judgment and by openly
stating that I did not know my profession, caused me to speak to Mr.
Fraser, a Guardian, in reference to the annoyance I was being daily
subjected to. He advised that I should go to the Local Government Board
and confer with the Poor Law Inspector. I did so, but got very little
encouragement by my action. Some time after, in a letter to the
Department, I did not hesitate to refer to it, and state as much. One
result, however, accrued from this visit, which I foresaw was in the
near future imminent, and I accordingly took steps forthwith to get some
influence in the House of Commons so as to secure a proper inquiry. On
my return I again saw Mr. Fraser, and told him of the way I had been
treated. Just about this time this Guardian came into collision with Mr.
Bliss. It happened in this way: there was a lady living on Wandsworth
Common, the wife of the chaplain of a public institution, and, being
very benevolent, she had constantly visited the Union school, and had
interested herself in the future welfare of the girls. A girl she was
much interested in had gone to a situation some months before, and, not
being kindly treated, had left and returned to the Workhouse, when she
wrote to this lady, who at once came up to the House to see her and some
other girl. The master refused to allow her to do so, whereupon she went
round to Soho Square and saw Mr. Fraser, whom she had known as a
Guardian, and told how she had been treated, whereupon he wrote to the
master, stating who the lady was, and asking him to allow her to see the
girls. The master read the letter and replied, with a coarse oath, "I
have already told you you shall not see the girls, and you shall not."
On reporting this conduct to Mr. Fraser, he was much incensed, and at
the next meeting of the Board brought the master's behaviour before the
Guardians. To his astonishment, the majority of the Guardians absolutely
howled him down. Mr. Fraser then formulated a series of charges against
Mr. Bliss, among them his constant refusal to obey my orders, his
swearing and generally violent treatment of the inmates, and moved that
these charges should be sent to the Local Government Board, and an
inquiry into the master's conduct asked for. This proposition was
rejected, but, at the suggestion of the Chairman, it was resolved that
the Board would conduct an inquiry themselves. This was done evidently
with the intention that the whole matter as against the master should be
quashed. The inquiry was held, and I was ordered by the Board to attend.
At the inquiry by the Guardians the Chairman presided, and proceeded to
ask questions; but finding he was no match for the solicitor, Baron H.
de Worms, an _ex-officio_ guardian, put in an appearance and conducted
the inquiry for them, and as I declined to recognize his or the Board's
right to put questions to me, the Baron threatened to report my
behaviour to the Local Government Board. I said to him, however, that if
it were a regular legal inquiry, conducted by a properly constituted
authority, I would answer on oath, and prove all the charges I had ever
made against the master and matron. One of my charges was that I had
discovered that my Medical Relief Book had been tampered with, and that
entries for wines and spirits, neither ordered by me or given to the
sick, had been placed against certain names. When this was gone into by
the Baron the master's clerk was sent for and insolently denied the

The Guardians completely exonerated the master and matron, his clerk,
and all concerned with them; but the matter did not end there. During
the progress of this so-called inquiry the matron brought before the
Guardians eight of the very worst characters in the House, in order to
depose to her and the master's continuous kindness and consideration to
all the inmates, and that Mr. Bliss never swore at all. After they had
given their evidence they were entertained by the matron in the
store-room, a hot supper and brandy-and-water being provided. As she
knew I was keeping a sharp look-out on my books to prevent any
additional frauds, the next morning she was at her wits' end to make up
the deficiency in the brandy, but at last she managed it by adding some
water; but in her hurry she forgot to add clean water. She put what she
wanted to increase the quantity into a jug which had contained milk, and
so gave a cloudy appearance to the whole of it. On my arrival at the
House I was informed of the entertainment that had been given to these
witnesses to character, and on going into the women's sick ward, the
head nurse showed me the brandy which had been tampered with, and I was
further told by her that the brandy given out on the male side had the
same appearance--indeed, that the nurse on that side had just called her
attention to it. I directed that she should carry it down into my room.
On going through to the male side, I requested the nurse to show me her
brandy. At first she objected to do so, but on my insisting she
reluctantly did so, when I took it away. On reaching my room I sent for
a large bottle and mixed it all together and sealed down the cork. I
then wrote to the contractors, Messrs. Hedges and Butler, of Regent
Street, and asked them to examine it and write me word whether the
brandy sent was the same as that supplied by them under the contract. It
was taken by one of the officers. In the course of an hour he came back
with the brandy and a statement from the firm proving that it had been
lowered by the addition of so much water, and that the water that had
been used was not clean. I then wrote to the Board giving the history
now related, and enclosed Messrs. Hedges and Butler's certificate. I
wrapped all up together in a piece of brown paper and addressed it to
the Board of Guardians. I called the clerk into my room and having in
his presence sealed up the parcel, I requested him to take charge of it
and not to let it go out of his hands until the Board met. I then
ordered a fresh supply for my sick. I had hardly left the House when the
Chairman came, and, going to the clerk, demanded to see the parcel. The
clerk gave it to him, when he immediately broke it open and read my
letter and the spirit-merchant's certificate. Of course his supporters
passed over this abominable transaction when the subject was brought
before the Board, and the matron was not even censured; at least, so I
was told.

There was, however, a Nemesis. Just as they were rejoicing at the
success of their proceedings a letter was on its way to the clerk from
the Local Government Board, stating that, in consequence of certain
information having been sent to the Department, an official inquiry into
the master's management of the House had been determined on, and that
Mr. Robert Hedley had been directed to hold it. I immediately went down
to the House of Commons, saw some Members, and begged that they would
see Sir Charles Dilke, who was then the President, and ask him to send
some other Inspector instead. A day or so afterwards I heard that as his
name had been mentioned it could not be changed, but that another
Inspector, Mr. Taylor, a barrister-at-law, would be appointed with him
in the inquiry.

In due course the inquiry took place, Mr. Robert Hedley presiding, Mr.
Taylor sitting on his right, Mr. Fraser, the solicitor, one of the
Guardians, on the left. Mr. Fraser conducted the proceedings against the
master, who was defended by Mr. Ricketts. The proceedings lasted several
days. During the progress of the inquiry Mr. Hedley rendered no
assistance whatever, and if it had not been for the conscientious
conduct of Mr. Taylor, not one-half of the evidence which was given
would have been brought out. Nearly all the evidence which was tendered
was voluntary--that is, inmates and officers came forward to testify to
Mr. Bliss's continual refusal to comply with my orders, to his swearing
at me and the inmates, and his general harshness and positive cruelty to
many of them. When the master's clerk was examined, he swore that he had
never made false entries in my Medical Relief Book; but when my
attendant, who had assisted in making up the book, gave evidence and
stated that he had seen him make them, his tone altered, and eventually
he confessed to sixty-three fraudulent entries of wines and spirits,
amounting in the whole to a very considerable quantity of stimulants,
presumably supplied to my sick but in reality consumed by other people.
When called as a witness, I deposed to the continued refusal of Mr.
Bliss to comply with my orders, as to his swearing at me and at others,
and to the fact that he derided my judgment, and had intimated to the
sick inmates under my charge his disbelief in my knowledge of my
profession, &c.

When Bliss was called on for his defence he contented himself with
giving a general denial to everything that had been given in evidence
against him. At last Mr. Hedley said that he should close the inquiry. I
do not know whether at that time he had communicated to Mr. Bliss that
he intended to report in his favour, but I had a suspicion of it, as no
one could possibly be in better spirits than Mr. Bliss was that day, and
it was clear from Mr. Hedley's manner and Mr. Bliss's familiarity with
the Inspector what his decision would be.

I was therefore not surprised on going down to the House some three
weeks after to make some inquiries that certain Members, whose names I
am precluded even now from mentioning, informed me confidentially that
it had oozed out that Mr. Hedley and the other Inspector had recommended
to the President that Mr. Bliss should be allowed to remain as master.
On my expressing my astonishment at such a monstrous decision, I was
informed that, to a great extent, the President was powerless in such
matters--that, having appointed an Inspector to conduct an inquiry, he
was by the rules of the Department bound by his decision, and that if he
made a report in favour of the individual into whose management he was
deputed to inquire, and reported favourably or the reverse of that, the
President was compelled to accept it, however much he felt that the
evidence did not support the view taken by the Inspectors.

I lay stress upon this assumption that Inspectors cannot by any
possibility err in their judgment, or be guilty of favouritism in their
conduct of such inquiries, because ere long, if we are to have County
Government Boards, the obligations of these Inspectors will be largely
increased, and if the official inquiries of the future are to be
conducted by men such as I have had experience of, Heaven help the
unfortunate officials whose actions are being inquired into, unless
there are some special reasons why they should be officially befriended,
such as evidently held good in Mr. John Bliss's case.

Having regard to the fate that always attends crooked courses, I am very
much disposed to think that a different line would have been followed
could it have been foreseen that Mr. Bliss would have acted as he did
three weeks after the inquiry was ended, when a woman was brought in a
cab so very ill that I decided to send her away forthwith to the Asylum
Hospital; but, as she was blue in the face from difficulty of breathing
and from general exhaustion, I told the receiving wards woman to come
into my room, and then gave her a written order for some brandy and
beef-tea to be given to the woman before she went away. I addressed the
order to the matron. Shortly afterwards the nurse came back and told me
that this woman had refused to supply what I had ordered. I then said,
"Take the order to the master." After a minute or so she returned,
telling me that the master would see me d----d before the woman should
have it. I then left the House, and on the next day heard that,
exhausted as she was, the woman was taken to Cleveland Street without
anything being given to her. That morning I wrote to the medical
superintendent of the Sick Asylum, and asked him to let me have a copy
of any remarks he had made on her admission (of course, stating the
refusal of both master and matron to give her anything at all before she
left the Westminster Workhouse). His reply bore out the view I had
formed of her condition, and he further said that if I had not written
to him he should have made a special report to the managers showing her
exhausted condition when admitted. A copy of this letter and a formal
complaint against the matron and Bliss for their refusal to give the
poor woman anything, was sent to the Board of Guardians, who simply
ignored it. I also sent a similar statement to the Local Government
Board, but no acknowledgment of its ever having been received was sent
to me. Knowing what I do, from many years' experience, what this
Department is, I very much regret that I did not send this complaint
under cover (privately) to Sir Charles Dilke. It is a curious fact that,
although the suppression of my statement at the Local Government Board,
and the refusal of the Chairman and his party to make any inquiry into
my complaint caused Mr. Bliss to keep his appointment a twelvemonth
longer, yet this refusal, having been subsequently conclusively proved,
ultimately led to his being called on to resign his appointment, as will
be shown hereafter, after the Chairman had in the interval been ejected
from office by an overwhelming vote of the indignant ratepayers.

No report of the inquiry having been forwarded to the Board, the
Chairman, after the lapse of about three months, caused a letter to be
written to the Local Government Board asking that the result of the
inquiry should be forwarded. The President sent a copy of the evidence
given on oath to the Guardians, thinking that after the Board had read
it through they would surely concur with him in thinking that Mr. Bliss
was not a fit person to remain as master. But he reckoned wrongly. Sir
Charles Dilke did not know the Chairman. This man simply induced his
dozen followers to utterly ignore all the evidence, and to assert that
it proved nothing.

Meeting one of these Guardians in the House two or three mornings after,
he came up to me, and, in a loud tone of voice, he said, "I have been
reading your disgraceful evidence against our master." To which I
quietly replied, "It was given on oath, and every word of it is true;"
when, in a towering passion, he said, "You have disgraced yourself, I
tell you; you have disgraced yourself:" and then, before I could reply
to this outburst of vulgar vituperation, he went on to say, "I see the
Local Government Board have directed us to pay you five guineas for your
attending to give evidence: I am the Chairman of the Board, and not one
penny shall you ever be paid for your disgraceful evidence." Had this
outburst been indulged in some few years before I cannot answer for the
form which my resentment would have taken; but I kept my temper, as I
knew no credit could accrue from any squabble with this man. The cheque
was subsequently paid. The Chairman was far too wise to enter into a
struggle with the Local Government Board over such a matter.

At the next meeting of the Board of Guardians he, or one of his
followers, moved that a letter be written to the Local Government Board,
stating that they had considered the evidence and were of opinion that
it in no way affected the character of their master, and requesting that
the Board should forthwith send its opinion of the evidence and what
charges they considered proved, whereupon there was forwarded to them a
list of thirteen charges which the Local Government Board held had been
proved against Bliss. It is probable that if the Chairman and the
majority had remained quiet, these serious charges against the master
would never have seen the light. As it happened, the publication of them
gave the opponents of Mr. Bliss the opportunity of conclusively showing
up the action of the Board. The letter of the Local Government Board,
containing particulars of the charges proved, was as follows--


     "_August 28, 1883_.

     "SIR,--I am directed by the Local Government Board to acknowledge
     the receipt of your letter of the 10th inst. respecting the
     decision communicated to the Guardians of the Westminster Union in
     the letter which we addressed to them by the Board on the 18th ult.
     upon the charges preferred against Mr. Bliss, the master of the
     Workhouse, and recently investigated by their Inspectors, Mr.
     Hedley and Mr. Taylor.

     "The Board direct me to state, in reply, that the charges to which
     they referred in that letter were the following--

     "That Mr. Bliss twice threw water from a bucket over an inmate
     named Ellen Coleman.

     "That he kicked a woman named Ann Lane on the back of the thigh
     [she was sixty-eight years old], the bruise caused thereby was
     about four inches across.

     "That he kicked a boy named James Daley twice on the back [he was
     about thirteen years old, and was a very good boy].

     "That he was in the habit of swearing, and of using expressions of
     an objectionable character when irritated.

     "That he had exercised no supervision as regards the entries in his
     portion of the Workhouse Medical Relief Book.

     "That he had not entered in the Provision Accounts as absent
     inmates who were in fact absent on leave from the Workhouse.

     "That he had contravened the Board's regulations by placing
     Caroline Barber, aged sixty-four years, upon bread and water.

     "That there had been undue delay in the registration of four births
     in the Workhouse.

     "That in the cases of two females, named Caroline Clegg and
     Elizabeth Jacob, who died in the Workhouse, he did not take
     sufficient care to give notice of their decease to their respective

     "That through want of due care, a mistake was made as to a body
     sent for burial.

     "That he allowed Elizabeth Farquharson to leave the Workhouse for
     four days to go to work, and that he charged in his accounts
     rations for her during that period.

     "That his behaviour towards Mrs. Casher, on her visiting the
     Workhouse to see two girls in whom she was interested, was
     discourteous; and that he used very improper language to Emily
     Brown on her visiting the Workhouse to see her husband, an inmate
     [who was on his deathbed].

     "I am, Sir,
     "Your obedient servant,
     "(_Signed_) C. N. DALTON,

     "_Assistant Secretary_."

I have been informed that the reading of the above letter was received
by the Chairman and his followers with much exasperation, which
exhibited itself in threats of vengeance against all those, whether
inmates or officers, who had given evidence against the master. One of
the first to feel the wrath of the Chairman was Thomas Bailey, a man
seventy years of age, who was discharged from his employment in aiding
me and the master in keeping the Medical Officer's Relief Book, which he
had done for nearly twenty years, because of his wickedness in bringing
under my notice the fraudulent entries made in my portion of the Medical
Book by the master's clerk at the instance of the matron, an
irregularity which it is reasonable to suppose could only have been
condoned by the majority of the Board on the supposition that some of
them had helped to get rid of what had been falsely entered against the
names of my sick patients.

Although this fraud had been clearly proved, no attention had been drawn
to it in the report, but a mere misty reference was made to the subject
in the fifth charge proved.

Here let me observe that I believe this inquiry would have been
absolutely nugatory of any beneficial results if it had been conducted
without an assessor being present, and, considering the bearing and
physique of the two Inspectors, it seems to me that the assessor
modified his own judgment, which would have been entirely adverse to Mr.
Bliss, in deference to the manifest wish of the Inspector to screen an
old soldier from the proved charges of blasphemy and unmanly violence to
an aged woman and a small boy, for which two latter offences Mr. Bliss
would have been taken before a magistrate and severely punished if the
miserable victims had had the necessary means.

The Chairman thought, in flouting the Local Government Board by his
protection of his friend the master, that he would triumph; but at that
time he was wholly unaware of what was in store for him and the party he
had so long led.

The Inspector was not, indeed, an acceptable person to all Boards of
Guardians, as the following letter from the Holborn Board indicates--

     "_February 28, 1884._

     "_Re_ STANTON. Official Inquiry.

     "MY LORDS AND GENTLEMEN,--I am directed by the Guardians of the
     Poor of the Holborn Union to acknowledge the receipt of your letter
     of the 26th inst., stating that you have instructed your
     Inspector, Mr. Hedley, to hold an inquiry into the charges
     preferred against Mr. Stanton, and that Mr. Hedley will give the
     Guardians due notice of the time and place in which he intends
     holding the inquiry, and to inform you that the following
     Resolution was passed upon your communication being submitted to
     the Guardians, viz.--

     "'That the clerk write to the Local Government Board and inform
     them that the Guardians are of opinion that an official should be
     appointed to conduct the inquiry who has not already expressed an
     opinion on the subject, which Mr. Hedley has publicly done, and
     that if the Local Government Board adhere to the appointment of Mr.
     Hedley to hold the inquiry, the Guardians must decline to take part

     "I am further directed to inform you that this Resolution was
     carried with only one dissentient at the Board last evening.

     "I have the honour to be,
     "My Lords and Gentlemen,
     "Your obedient servant,

     "JAMES W. HILL, _Clerk_.


I do not know whether it was at the meeting of the Board when the
decision of the Department was first read, or on the occasion when the
Guardians heard their clerk read out the list of charges which the
Department considered were proved against Mr. Bliss, but it is certain
that the Chairman rose in his seat and moved that I be called on to
resign my appointment forthwith. Of course it was carried, and the clerk
was directed to forward me a copy of the resolution. I briefly
acknowledged its receipt. I understood that at this time this person was
much put out at my not at once complying with his request, and
threatened all sorts of vengeance on me. He was so ignorant that, in his
rage, he forgot that he could not so summarily get rid of me, and
therefore I waited patiently for his next move; indeed, I applied for
and took my usual autumn holiday. At this time there appeared in _The
Standard_ daily newspaper an article commenting on the evidence given at
the official inquiry, on the charges found to be proved, and the conduct
of the Chairman and his docile followers.

It was republished and sent to every ratepayer in both parishes. And
here I may be allowed to call attention to the fact, that in the reforms
which I have tried to secure, I have had the assistance of papers of all
parties. The article was as follows--


     "Defend the poor and fatherless; see that such as are in need and
     necessity have right."--PSALM lxxxii. 3.

"The Local Government Board, in an official communication to the
Guardians of the Westminster Union, say they have 'entertained very
great doubt whether, consistently with their public duty,' they could
'properly allow' the present master of the Poland Street Workhouse to
retain his post. It is likely that the public will go all the way with
the Local Government Board, and even a little further. The Board, having
instituted a long and searching inquiry into sundry charges brought
against the master, have arrived at the conclusion that several of the
accusations have been established. They told the Guardians so much as
this some little time back; but these authorities wished to know more
precisely what were the charges considered to be proved. It is fortunate
that these gentlemen were so far disposed to challenge the conclusions
arrived at by the central power, for the answer they received puts the
public in possession of some notable facts which otherwise might have
remained in obscurity. We now learn that the demonstrated delinquencies
of this Workhouse master include such peccadilloes as twice emptying a
bucket of water over an inmate named Ellen Coleman, and kicking a woman
named Ann Lane, as well as a boy named James Daley, the latter twice. He
also contravened the Board's regulations by placing an old woman upon
bread and water. There might be some economy in this, but it was more
than counterbalanced by an awkward habit in which the master indulged,
of charging rations for paupers absent on leave. Another irregularity
consisted in a 'mistake as to a body sent for burial,' coupled with
which we hear of 'undue delay in the registration of four births.' Then
there was confusion in the Medical Relief Books, and a neglect to give
notice when people were dead. To all this must be added a 'habit of
swearing and using expressions of an objectionable character when
irritated.' This model master of a Workhouse is further proved to have
been discourteous to the wife of a clergyman, and to have 'used very
improper language to Emily Brown,' a poor woman who came to see her
husband. For all this he is master of the Workhouse still, and, as he
retains 'the confidence of the Guardians,' the Local Government Board
'refrain from adopting the extreme course of requiring his
resignation.' But, at the same time, this redoubtable official is warned
that if any further complaints are substantiated against him he will be
most certainly asked, with all due politeness, to relinquish his
responsible office. There is, for the moment, nothing more to be done,
except, perhaps, for the Guardians to present him with a
testimonial."--_Extracted from "The Standard,"_ September 14, 1883.

(It should be clearly understood that this inquiry was instituted by a
minority of the Board, who have steadily voted for Mr. Bliss's

On my return to town I found that the Board generally had also gone
away, but the Chairman had given notice that when the Guardians met in
September he should move that I be suspended from my office; which in
due course he did, and, having a passive majority, carried it. This did
not alarm me at all. It was not then as it was some years ago. There was
a new Secretary at the Local Government Board, who was the worthy
successor of a most estimable father, the late Hugh Owen. Added to this
I had several friends in the House of Commons, and most assuredly Sir
Charles Dilke was not prejudiced against me. Besides this, the Chairman
could not get up a case against me. So, being aware that it would take
some weeks before any decision could be come to, as the head officials
at the Central Department would be certainly out of town, and that it
was a task beyond the intelligence of the Chairman to draft an
indictment, I again went into the country.

So soon as it became known that this Chairman had moved my suspension
simply for having resented the conduct of Bliss in cursing and swearing
at me, and disobeying my orders for the sick, numerous friends wrote to
me, and the medical journals vied with each other in denouncing the
conduct of this Board, and called on my professional brethren to rally
round me as I had been called on to resign, and was now suspended for
interfering with Bliss in his treatment of my sick poor. The action of
the Chairman and his supporters turned to my advantage, and eventually
led to his and their complete and signal expulsion from office.

Among other annotations and leading articles which appeared at this
date, I will here insert one from _The Lancet_, bearing date October 27,


     "The suspension of Dr. Rogers from his duties by the Guardians of
     the Westminster Union because of his honest testimony in an
     inquiry into the conduct of the master, is an event of very great
     consequence. It is impossible that the Local Government Board can
     sanction the action of the Board, or disregard the memorial signed
     by fifty-four of the most respectable inhabitants of St. Anne's,
     including the rector, the Catholic priest, &c.; and another, signed
     by ninety-four of the ratepayers of St. James's. Dr. Rogers is a
     representative man. He represents not only the Poor Law medical
     service, but the independence of the members of that service, and
     no greater misfortune can befall the poor or the ratepayers than
     that he should be persecuted by the Guardians of Westminster for
     doing his duty. We cannot believe that Sir Charles Dilke will allow
     such a misfortune to happen. The Local Government Board have acted
     with a strange inconsistency in retaining the master of the
     Workhouse. It is inconceivable that they will play into his hands,
     and those of the Guardians who assist him, by sanctioning the
     dismissal of Dr. Rogers. But the profession and the members of the
     Poor Law service, should lose no time in organizing a proper
     movement for vindicating Dr. Rogers' claims and position."

After my suspension I went to Bournemouth, and whilst there heard of
the above movement in my support, and also saw that my friends in the
profession were organizing a testimonial in my favour, subscriptions to
which came from all parts of the kingdom. So that, instead of injuring
me, the action of the Guardians secured me three months' holiday, a
testimonial worth £200, and gave me that leisure which enabled me to
work up a party that some six months after drove the Chairman and his
followers from office.

On my return from Bournemouth I set to work to get up a list of
candidates for Guardians for the ensuing year. It was necessary to get
thirteen, as I had only five supporters. It is true that they were the
most respectable men on the Board. I was not very long in getting three
respectable ratepayers to stand for St. Anne's; but the great difficulty
was in St. James's, where ten were required; and if it had not have
happened that the Rev. Henry Sheringham, Vicar of St. Peter's, Great
Windmill Street, exerted himself most earnestly, we could not have
succeeded at all. He not only came forward himself, but he induced a
colleague, the Vicar of St. John's, Great Marlborough Street, and four
very wealthy and well-known gentlemen in St. James's to do likewise. The
obtaining of four others ceased to be a matter of difficulty. The Rev.
H. Sheringham took the greatest interest in the election, and it was
through his help that the Bishop of London, the Marquis of Waterford,
and a large number of the nobility and gentry, bankers, and others who
were ratepayers in St. James's, and up to that date had never voted in
any election of Guardians, were, on this occasion, secured.

Mr. Sheringham was the incumbent of the poorest district in St. James's,
and consequently he was constantly brought into contact with those who
had either been inmates, or had friends in the House, and for a long
time he had been cognisant of Mr. Bliss's management, and of the
Chairman's support of the master. When I was suspended, Mr. Sheringham
showed his feeling by going round to some of the leading people in St.
James's and getting them to sign the testimonial in my favour, and at
the election in the following April he worked hard all day long to get
rid of the Chairman and his party.

It may be thought by those who have followed this narrative of Poor Law
management in 1883, that I had not sufficiently referred to the action
of Mr. W. J. Fraser, solicitor, of Soho Square, and of 191, Clapham
Road, but it does not arise from want of gratitude to this gentleman,
who has known me for many years, who asked me to see poor Watson in
1872, who induced me to become a candidate for the office the same year,
and whose worthy father used to take an honest pride in bringing him to
my house nearly thirty years before, to show me how he had got on during
his half-year's schooling. If it had not been for the high sense of
conscientiousness, and his invariable hatred of such wrong-doing as was
implied in the support of such a person as J. Bliss, as a young
solicitor he could not have made so great a sacrifice of time, of
labour, and of money.

The fact of Mr. Bliss being no longer master of the Westminster
Workhouse, and his chief supporter no longer in power as the Chairman of
the Westminster Union, with all its possible advantages, is owing almost
entirely to Mr. W. J. Fraser, who, recognizing the wrong-doing of both,
exerted himself untiringly to get rid of both, which he achieved with
singularly complete success.

It was not until just before Christmas that one of the Guardians who was
friendly to me, told me that a letter had just been received from the
Local Government Board, directing me to resume my duties, thereby
removing my suspension; at the same time saying there was an oblique
reference to me at the end of the letter. "Oh," I replied, "I
understand all about that; but I can afford to let that pass so long as
the President supports me."

I returned to my duties, but had it not been for the fact that my nurses
(one woman excepted, who was Bliss's confidant, and whom I would have
got rid of months before for incompetence and worse qualities) welcomed
me back, as did the sick inmates, whose friend I had tried to be, I
really should have hesitated to continue in my office, for every form of
petty obstructiveness was exhibited by the master, matron, the master's
clerk, the Chairman, and his followers. The only retaliation in my power
was to draft questions and get them put in the House. This process made
the names and doings of the majority of the Westminster Board of
Guardians come out rather awkwardly before the public and the ratepayers
of the Union; the extraordinary circumstance being that both parties, or
rather I may state all parties, in the House assisted me in getting
these questions put to Ministers.

At last the election took place. I feel pretty well convinced that when
the Chairman saw our list of candidates and who were the nominators,
consisting as they did of most of the nobility, gentry, bankers, clergy,
and leading ratepayers in both parishes, he felt that his reign was
over, but he did not think, even then, that his defeat could have been
so complete and overwhelming, for not only was he left in an absurd
minority, but his twelve followers were left also.

Subjoined is a copy of the address sent to the ratepayers of both


     "_To the Ratepayers of the Parish of St. James, Piccadilly, and St.
     Anne, Soho._

     "MY LORDS, LADIES, AND GENTLEMEN,--Having been nominated to be
     Guardians to represent St. James's Parish as well as that of St.
     Anne's, Soho, at the Westminster Union, by many of the nobility,
     clergy, gentry, and leading tradesmen and large ratepayers of both
     parishes, we confidently solicit your votes and support at the
     approaching election.

     "We wish it to be understood that, in offering ourselves as
     candidates, we are actuated by no personal motives or
     considerations whatever, but solely by a desire to secure the
     faithful, humane, and economical administration of the laws
     relating to the relief of the poor in the Westminster Union.

     "Public attention has, during the past year, been frequently drawn
     to serious complaints respecting the treatment of inmates,
     subordinate officials and others in, and visitors to, the Poland
     Street Workhouse, and it is very widely felt that a searching and
     careful investigation should be instituted without delay into
     matters vitally affecting the comfort, happiness, and welfare of a
     large body of poor and helpless people, such as inhabit our

     "We beg to draw your attention to the accompanying copies of two
     letters addressed by the Local Government Board to the late
     Guardians; and also to the enclosed copy of an article which
     appeared in _The Standard_ newspaper.

     "Many of the ratepayers will learn with surprise that,
     notwithstanding the serious and grave charges substantiated against
     the master of the Workhouse, at the Local Government Board inquiry,
     held by two of their Inspectors, a large majority of the late
     Guardians felt themselves able formally to record their confidence
     in the master.

     "It should be clearly understood that this inquiry was demanded by
     a small minority of the Guardians, who found themselves powerless
     to bring to light or redress in any other way the flagrant abuses
     of which they had been informed. And at the same time it should be
     known that those Guardians upon whom devolved the duty of
     conducting the inquiry, were denied, both by the majority of the
     Board, who were opposed to any action being taken, and also by the
     master, both before and at the time of the inquiry, all access to
     inmates and resident officers, whose evidence was essential to
     establish the charges alleged. It was, therefore, only with the
     greatest difficulty that the necessary evidence could be collected.

     "We have further to state that, after the decision of the Local
     Government Board was communicated to the Guardians, and when all
     the facts of the case were fully before them, the Chairman and the
     majority of the Board presented to Mr. Bliss, in the Board-room of
     the Poland Street Workhouse, a testimonial, in the form of a sum of
     money, ostensibly for the purpose of defraying the expenses of his
     professional adviser in conducting his defence during the inquiry
     into his conduct.

     "It may be added that the Chairman, when compelled to admonish Mr.
     Bliss, in accordance with the directions of the Local Government
     Board, did so with reluctance, entertaining, it would seem, the
     belief that the master was not guilty of all or any of the charges
     proved against him; and, when so admonished, the master himself
     expressed no regret that the charges set forth in the Local
     Government Board's letter should have been held to be established
     against him, and gave no assurance whatever that he would comport
     himself differently in future.

     "Thus the official inquiry was rendered practically abortive,
     owing, as we believe, to the action of the majority of the
     Guardians in virtually upholding the master, in the face of such
     overwhelming evidence of misconduct.

     "Various complaints have since been made both by inmates and
     officers respecting their treatment, and, notwithstanding the
     recent inquiry, the internal condition of the Workhouse remains up
     to the present time unaltered and unimproved.

     "It is for these reasons that we feel it our duty to offer
     ourselves as candidates at the present election, believing that the
     ratepayers of St. James's and of St. Anne's, Soho, will no longer
     be able to place confidence in the Board as lately constituted, and
     that they will demand a searching inquiry into the whole system of
     the management of the Poland Street Workhouse.

     "If, therefore, it be your pleasure to elect us as your
     representatives on the Board, we shall address ourselves, without
     fear or favour, promptly and impartially to the consideration of
     every matter requiring attention; and with the co-operation of the
     Local Government Board, which we doubt not will readily be given,
     we shall make it our chief aim and endeavour to remove all
     legitimate grievances, and to secure humane and kindly treatment
     for the many aged sick and helpless inmates of our Workhouse.

     "We have the honour to remain,

     "Your most obedient servants,


As the election had mainly turned on the conduct of Mr. Bliss, one of
the first things done by the new Board when it met was to suspend Mr.
Bliss from his office, which being done, shortly afterwards a committee
of the Board met and drew up an indictment against him; but as the
Department had condoned the whole of the thirteen charges which were
considered proved, they could not raise any of these again; but as Mr.
Fraser was aware that the complaints I had made subsequent to the
inquiry had been ignored by the late Chairman and his friends, and that
the duplicate copy had never been acknowledged by the Department, I, and
the nurse of the receiving wards, and the head nurse on the female side,
were called to prove the order given by me, the refusal of the matron
and the master to comply with it, the woman's condition when admitted,
her state on her arrival at Cleveland Street Asylum, the remarks as to
her exhausted condition when carried by the porter in his arms, she
being too ill to walk; all these facts were shown to be absolutely true,
and were completely borne out by evidence. Other matters against Mr.
Bliss were also gone into and forwarded to the Local Government Board,
and with it an intimation that it was the desire of the new Board that
he should not be permitted to return to his duties. Whilst away in
Belfast, where I went in the month of August to deliver my customary
annual address on Poor Law Medical Relief, I received a telegram that
Sir Charles Dilke had called on Mr. J. Bliss to resign.

When the master was suspended I can hardly describe the relief I
experienced, it was so great. No longer did I dread loud-mouthed
expressions of dissent from me in my treatment of the sick, no longer
did I fear that he would stalk, unannounced, through the female sick
wards when I was examining the poor women; but instead of it there was
respectful quiet and orderly behaviour. The matron, who ought to have
been sent away also, kept out of my way and was obsequiously obliging
when I gave a necessary order. One person only did I at once bring to
book--it was the head nurse on the male side. After the formation of
the new Board, I immediately drew up and sent in a list of charges
against her, comprising refusal to obey my orders, complicity in and
support of certain malingerers who she falsely informed me were ill. One
of these I had discovered some months before to be an impostor, and
ordered his discharge, but the nurse got her friend Bliss to direct his
return, thus flouting my authority. She did not stop to meet my charges,
but sent in her resignation, and, it being accepted, these complaints
were not investigated. I speedily got rid of the malingerer also, and
during the remainder of the time I held office the man remained out of
the sick ward. What was the tie between the nurse and this malingerer I
was never able to divine.

During the latter part of April, the whole of May, and the first part of
June, 1884, there had been an outbreak of fever at the Union schools on
Wandsworth Common, and it appeared that the medical officer of the
schools, the Visiting Committee, and the Poor Law Medical Inspector,
could throw no light on the causes of it, when it was suggested at the
Board that I should be sent down to examine into the matter and report
to the Board thereon. I wrote to the medical officer informing him of
the Board's wish, and asked him to arrange a time to meet me and we
would go into the subject together. He was not sufficiently courteous
even to acknowledge my letter. I then asked a member of the Board (a
builder) to accompany me, which he did.

On my arrival at the schools I requested the attendance of the
superintendent and matron, as I wished to state the object of my visit
and to obtain from them certain information as regards the commencement
of the outbreak, the symptoms presented by the sick, &c. I also elicited
from them that the medical officer had said that he would not meet
me--an act of discourtesy to the Board, whose joint officers we were.

I speedily ascertained that the outbreak commenced amongst the girls,
and had been almost entirely limited to the female side of the House,
and of these girls those mainly who were employed in the laundry. But as
I wanted to make a complete examination of all the water supply, I asked
the Guardian to pioneer the way in our general survey. With this object
I got out upon the roof of the main building and peered into all the
cisterns. I did not discover anything vastly amiss in these, and nothing
wrong at all on the male side. I then proceeded with my examination of
the cistern supply in the laundry and kitchen, and that on the roof
which furnished the kitchen and part of the laundry supply, when I came
upon the source of the mischief; for, on lifting the lid of a large
cistern there containing many gallons of water, my sense of smell was
assailed by one of the most horrible odours I had ever encountered, and
I saw a large mass of thick scum floating there which was evolving
offensive gases and in constant motion from the activity of innumerable
forms of the lowest type of animal life. I asked my friend to hand me up
a stick, and with it I took out a large piece of it and spread it out
upon the roof of the building. I also requested the Guardian to come up
and judge for himself. I did this because I knew that any statement I
might make would most assuredly be denied by the parties who are
responsible for looking into and examining the condition of the cisterns
and keeping them cleansed, a circumstance which, as I expected, did
subsequently occur, but which could not be controverted by them as I had
the gentleman in question as my witness.

Before leaving I left a written instruction that every cistern
throughout the building should be emptied and disinfected, additional
care to be taken with the offending one.

On my return home I drew up and forwarded to the Board my opinion as to
the cause of the outbreak, and the orders I had given to the
superintendent. As no other cases of fever occurred after my visit, it
was clear I had discovered the cause and the remedy. The Board wrote me,
through their clerk, a handsome acknowledgment of my success, and voted
me five guineas for my visit, and informed me that they had directed the
clerk to send a copy of my report and the results that had followed it
to the Local Government Board. This was somewhat of a rebuke to those
permanent officials who had placed that addendum to the letter directing
me to resign my duties some six months before, as I had discovered and
stopped the outbreak, the cause of which they had utterly failed to
ascertain; but then these aforesaid permanent officials never throw any
heart or intelligence into the work they are so handsomely paid to do.

In the early part of June the honorary secretary of the fund, Mr. J. W.
Barnes, F.R.C.S., wrote to me, stating that it was decided to present a
testimonial to me at a meeting of the subscribers, at the rooms of the
Medical Society of London, in Chandos Street, Cavendish Square, in June,
1884, and that Mr. J. A. Shaw Stewart had arranged to take the chair.
On the day mentioned the presentation took place, and subjoined is a
condensed report of the proceedings extracted from _The British Medical
Journal_, June 28, 1884. The assemblage was a very large one, and
certainly was a striking manifestation of good feeling towards me from
many of my old friends and fellow-workers in the cause of Sanitary and
Poor Law Medical Reform.


[1] The attacks upon me were so scurrilous for the evidence I had given
that I wrote as follows to the editor of _The Lancet_, the staff there
being divided in opinion whether I should be supported or condemned--

     "REGINA _v._ WATSON.

     "TO THE EDITOR OF _The Lancet_.

     "SIR,--As I have been made to occupy, through the exceptionally
     severe and not over-courteous cross-examination at the Old Bailey,
     a more conspicuous position than I had desired before the public,
     perhaps you will permit me to give the reasons why I held, and do
     hold, that the prisoner in the above case was, and is, of unsound
     mind; and, subsequently, to briefly comment on each head.

     "1st. There were the evidences of pre-existent melancholia.

     "2nd. The ferocity with which the deed was committed.

     "3rd. The total absence of criminal motive.

     "4th. The calmness and indifference of the prisoner's manner after
     the deed was done.

     "5th. His justification of suicide, and the expression of his
     belief that God would forgive the homicide under the circumstances.

     "First, as regards the proofs of mental disease prior to the
     act--they were deposed to by the Rev. Folliott Baugh and his wife
     as existing a month before the murder; by Mr. H. Rogers on the
     preceding day; whilst further evidence on this head, not available
     for the defence owing to the sickness of the deponent, has since
     been forwarded to the Home Secretary, the statement being that some
     months before he was in communication with the prisoner for the
     purpose of employing him in his school, but on an interview he
     found his mental condition to be such that he at once broke off the
     engagement: the evidences of aging and altered aspect deposed to by
     the secretary of the school a short while after his dismissal. And
     mark, that to him was no ordinary event: at sixty-seven he found
     himself suddenly without employment, without any realized money,
     absolute penury in the not distant prospective, whilst, during the
     nine months he had been thus thrown in upon himself, every attempt
     to add to his means or to obtain an engagement, whether literary or
     scholastic, had entirely failed.

     "Second. Passing to my next point, the ferocity of the act, it was
     argued by the prosecution that it was done in a fit of rage; but,
     for the credit of our common human nature, I would ask, Is it
     conceivable that mere anger would so transform a mild, quiet old
     gentleman, as he was shown to be, into such a brutal criminal, so
     that, not content with slaying his victim, he should go on
     battering her head and body long after passion alone would have
     been exhausted? It is, I contend, explicable only as the act of a
     homicidal melancholic, not otherwise.

     "Third. The senseless character of the deed. If done consciously
     and by premeditation, as the verdict would suppose, I would ask,
     Where could be the gain? Here, again, I argue that the act itself,
     done without reasonable motive, could only be the product of reason

     "Fourth. The indifference, &c. Here I would submit--can a parallel
     be produced from criminal records in any place (Broadmoor excepted)
     for the remarkable calmness (self-possession Mr. Gibson, of
     Newgate, phrases it) Mr. Watson maintains whenever the act is
     referred to, such as to lead his old friend, the Rev. J. Wallis, to
     state that he seemed perfectly void of shame and remorse; nay,
     asserting that he was an injured person by being put in prison'?

     "Fifth. His justification of suicide, &c. I may here be met by the
     remark that he is probably an unbeliever in the Christianity he
     professed. To this I make reply that there is not a tittle of
     evidence to show that such is the case. Until the act was done, a
     regular attendant at church, a constant communicant, his whole
     moral nature must have become utterly changed and corrupt ere such
     a consummation could be arrived at, standing out, as it does, in
     direct antagonism to his previous life, as portrayed by one who
     knew him well and gives his opinion of his old friend in this day's

     "I pass over the subsequent blundering attempts to hide the act, as
     similar things have been done by others whose insanity has not been
     questioned. And as I have occupied much of your space, I subscribe

     "Yours obediently,

     "JOS. ROGERS.


     "_January 15, 1872_."



"TO THE EDITOR OF _The Lancet_.

"SIR,--Since writing my letter to you last week I am rejoiced to see
that a movement has commenced for giving shape to the esteem in which
Dr. Joseph Rogers is held by his professional brethren and others who
know his work. I hope a large sum will be raised, which cannot fail to
be the case if all whom his labours have benefited give a little. And
surely the time could not be more opportune than when in a battle with
his persecutors: he wants to the full the encouragement of his friends.
Only one suggestion I cannot agree with--viz., that the subscription
list should be limited to Poor Law medical officers. Why? Truly, he has
been a great benefactor to them; but not to them only. His public work
has been much wider in aim and usefulness than simply to touch the
pockets of a few Poor Law surgeons. Many years ago he was a leader in
the movement that ended in stopping burials within towns. I believe I am
right in saying that to his influence is largely due the establishment
of mortuaries. It was he who succeeded in getting expensive
medicines--which it was hopeless to expect the Poor Law officers to
supply out of their slender salaries--supplied by Boards of Guardians:
an improvement directly benefiting the poor, and indirectly the
ratepayers. The Metropolitan Poor Act of 1867 was largely brought about
by his untiring zeal. From that what good has not flowed? The supply of
not expensive medicines only, but all medicines, by the Guardians. The
dispensary system, leading to a very large increase, probably not less
than £15,000 a year to the Metropolitan medical officers. Then that
great boon, the Superannuation Act, is another monument of Dr. Rogers'
energy. I do not wish to undervalue the labours of Dr. Brady, and our
other friends in and out of the House of Commons; but Dr. Brady himself
would be the foremost to admit that he never would have been able to
carry the point had it not been for Dr. Rogers' assistance. 'Instant in
season, out of season,' delivering addresses from town to town; giving
advice and assistance to persecuted public servants all over the
country; strengthening the hands of the weaker brethren in public and
private, he has been for fourteen years a tower of strength to an
important section of the community whose power for good has been
enhanced by his agency, which has again reacted on the whole nation. In
short, Dr. Rogers has been, and is, a great social reformer, and of his
work all classes reap the fruit. But as a great American philosopher
says, when the flat stone of a fine old abuse is overturned, there is a
great squirming of the flat-patterned animals that have thriven in the
darkness. Dr. Rogers has been turning over these stones for many years,
and has been attacked by the squirming animals, as is usually the case.
It is for those who have been cast in a different mould and can
appreciate his valuable, arduous, and often thankless labours, to show
their appreciation now.

"I am, Sir, yours respectfully,



"_October 22, 1883_."

"TO THE EDITOR OF _The Lancet_.

"SIR,--For a long series of years one man in the medical profession has
boldly stood forward in maintaining the rights and in endeavouring by
every legitimate means to redress the wrongs of the Poor Law medical
officers of this country. As one unconnected entirely with Poor Law
medical practice, I have, no doubt in common with a multitude of others,
admired the courage and honesty with which this man, almost
single-handed, has fought the battles of its medical officers. Had any
one of them a real grievance or hardship to complain of, Dr. Rogers at
once came to the front and became his champion. Now that he is, in his
own person, the subject of an injustice, and a very serious one (for he
is threatened with dismissal from his post as medical officer of the
Westminster Union for doing that which in all honesty he felt compelled
to do), it behoves the whole profession to give him all the moral
support in its power. It cannot be possible that the Local Government
Board will ever sanction such manifest injustice. But this is not purely
a question between the Westminster Guardians and Dr. Rogers; but one
which aims a blow at professional honour and rectitude, and if settled
in the way in which the Guardians would have it, it may be the means of
preventing some members of our body, however right-minded they may be,
from giving evidence of wrong-doing, or performing other necessary
duties not falling strictly within the scope of their ordinary work;
because forsooth they may, if they do, find themselves stranded and
deprived of their appointments.

"Let the profession, then, as a body, and not merely the Poor Law
medical officers, rally round Dr. Rogers, and, whilst recognizing the
benefits derived from his unselfish public labours in their behalf,
labours which may have brought upon him much obliquy, and perhaps have
had something to do with his present trial, present him with such a
testimonial as shall effectually demonstrate to the Local Government
Board its approval of his conduct and its disapprobation of the
ungenerous treatment to which he has been subjected by the Westminster

     "'He's true to God who's true to man wherever wrong is done,
     To the humblest or the weakest 'neath the all-beholding sun.
     That wrong is also done to us, and they are slaves most base,
     Whose love of right is for themselves and not for all the race.'

"I am, Sir, your obedient servant,



"_October 24, 1883_."

"TO THE EDITOR OF _The Lancet_.

"SIR,--Will you permit me to draw the attention of your readers to a
movement which has been set on foot with the view of presenting to Dr.
Joseph Rogers, the President of the Poor Law Medical Officers'
Association, a testimonial, as a mark of the esteem in which he is held
by Poor Law medical officers, and as a recognition of his unwearied
advocacy of their claims, his fearless exposure of injustice done to
them, and the able assistance and advice which he has freely given to
such of them as have been unfortunate enough to be at variance with
their Boards.

"The unjust treatment Dr. Rogers has received at the hands of the
Westminster Guardians, will, I hope, shortly be brought before the Local
Government Board. But I venture to suggest that no better time than the
present could be chosen for his fellow-officers to express their
sympathy with him, and that such an expression from a large number would
show that they have appreciated his labours on their behalf; that in a
good cause they are capable of acting in concert, and that they respect
themselves and their office in manifesting respect for one who has
fearlessly done his duty, although for doing it he has received the
usual punishment accorded by Guardians to parochial medical officers.

"The following gentlemen have kindly promised to receive subscriptions,
viz.:--Ernest Hart, Esq., Editor of _The British Medical Journal_; C.
Frost, Esq. (Treasurer of the Poor Law Medical Officers' Association),
47, Ladbroke Square, Notting Hill, London; J. Wickham Barnes, Esq.
(Secretary of the Poor Law Medical Officers' Association), 3, Bolt
Court, Fleet Street, London.

"I am, Sir, yours faithfully,



"_October 23, 1883_."


The presentation of a handsome testimonial to Dr. Joseph Rogers,
Chairman of the Poor Law Medical Officers' Association, took place on
Tuesday last at the rooms of the Medical Society, Chandos Street, in the
presence of a numerous gathering of ladies and gentlemen. Mr. John A.
Shaw Stewart, presided.

Mr. J. Wickham Barnes (honorary secretary of the fund) spoke of the
cordial reception with which the proposition to do honour to Dr. Rogers
had been received, and the support which had been given to it by the
medical journals, the editors of which had been among the most liberal
contributors to the fund.

The Chairman, in his opening remarks, spoke of Dr. Rogers' work and
worth, which were so well known that little further need be said on
those points; but, on an occasion like the present, they should not
forget that Dr. Rogers was a sanitary reformer and advocate of
sanitation of about forty years' standing, and that matters which were
now accepted as facts were then subjects of the fiercest controversy.
Dr. Rogers, in conjunction with Mr. George Alfred Walker and others, was
the first who successfully advocated the closing of the burial-grounds
in cities, and had succeeded in establishing the first public mortuary
in London. Those facts alone testified to his energy and ability. Those
who were older than the speaker could remember the time when the light
of heaven was taxed; and Dr. Rogers, with the late Lord Duncan, was one
who worked hard to abolish the window-tax, a more unjust tax than which
it was impossible to conceive. He was appointed medical officer of the
Strand Union in 1856, at a time when there were no paid nurses and when
the Poor Law officer had to pay out of his small salary for all
medicines. Dr. Rogers, with Dr. Anstie, and Mr. Ernest Hart, was among
the stoutest advocates for the improvement of the workhouse infirmaries;
and, aided by the full force of the Medical Press, the great work was
commenced. The first time he (the Chairman) had had the pleasure of
working with ladies was in Mr. Ernest Hart's house; he was thankful that
now, in all useful social work, ladies came to the front. Dr. Rogers'
work led up to Mr. Gathorne Hardy's Act, and his force and determination
prevailed so far that the more expensive medicines were henceforth to be
paid for by the Guardians, but for a long time the bulk of the drugs
supplied was still left as a charge upon the ill-paid medical officer.
Dr. Rogers' great and difficult work had been in connection with Poor
Law administration. He believed one of the greatest political economists
of the day, whom he saw present, would bear him out that political
economy and philanthropy went hand in hand when they were employed in
energetic and persistent endeavours to arrest disease in its earliest
stages. No one could go much about our general hospitals without seeing
how much of the misery and distress of this world were caused by
disease. We were subject to a variety of diseases--and diseases meant
loss of health, and ultimate loss of life, to the bread-winner, and his
widow and children to be cast on the world. Dr. Rogers was subsequently
very instrumental in the carrying of the Bill for the superannuation of
Poor Law medical officers. Since then he had visited almost every large
town in England, Scotland, and Ireland, with the view of prevailing upon
the authorities to carry out improvements lately talked of in the
metropolis. Dr. Rogers was a real, true specimen of the best sort of
Englishmen, a man of tenacity, a hard hitter, a staunch friend, and a
pertinacious foe.

Mr. G. W. Fraser, Chairman of the Westminster Board of Guardians, said
he had long known Dr. Rogers, and it afforded him very great pleasure to
find that he was so much respected by those who had had an opportunity
of appreciating his valuable work, and the many reforms he had been
instrumental in effecting in the Poor Law of this country. He was very
much respected by the Board of Guardians of the Westminster Union as at
present constituted, and before, until he had to draw the attention of
the Guardians to matters affecting the internal welfare of the
Workhouse, which action resulted in his being suspended from his duties.
All he could say was, there was no logical ground for the course that
had been taken. It was a great satisfaction to find that that apparent
evil had resulted in some good, for Mr. Wickham Barnes had told them
that the treatment which Dr. Rogers then received was instrumental in
bringing about the crowning result to be achieved in the presentation of
the testimonial that day. Dr. Rogers had, on several occasions, rendered
very valuable services to him (Mr. Fraser) and his colleagues, and he
trusted that he might long he spared to fulfil the duties he had
hitherto so long and so satisfactorily discharged.

Professor L. E. Thorold Rogers, M.P., said it was a matter of great
gratification to him to be present on an occasion when the merits of his
brother's labours were being recognized with so much unanimity, and in
so practical a form, by the profession to which he belonged, and which,
he ventured to say, he had always adorned.

Mr. Samuel Bonsor, as an old Westminster Guardian, spoke of the pleasure
it was to him that he had lived long enough to see Dr. Rogers' efforts
recognized as they had been.

Dr. Farquharson, M.P., said he knew that Dr. Rogers had been a great
sanitary reformer, but he was astonished to find that he had been a
reformer of so many years' standing. Guardians were apt to go for a hard
and fast rule, while medical men, on the other hand, held more towards
the sympathetic side; and it was by carrying out their duties in a
sympathetic and liberal spirit that medical men often got into great
disputes, and great difficulty and trouble. Until recently, these
gentlemen, who were often treated cruelly, had no organization or means
by which they could make their grievances known, or obtain any redress
whatever. The action of Dr. Rogers, and the Association which he had
been instrumental in forming, had been the means of often bringing to
light cases of oppression and of obtaining redress for those who had
been oppressed. He was sure they might all congratulate Dr. Rogers on
being present, not only from the fact that he was going to receive a
substantial token of the affection and respect in which he was held by
all who knew him, but on the expressions of admiration and esteem which
poured in from all directions on that occasion. He hoped Dr. Rogers
would long be spared to give them the benefit of the shrewdness, his
tenacity, and his tact.

Canon Wade (Rector of St. Anne's, Soho), said he had known Dr. Rogers
for some years as a man of war. The first thing which drew forth his
kindly feeling towards Dr. Rogers was observing the tender and faithful
manner in which he supported the case of the sick poor in their

The Rev. W. Benham said he thought he had known Dr. Rogers and his
family longer than any one else in the room, excepting his brother, and
if he was a man of war, as had been stated, it was because no man in the
world had a more kindly heart.

The Chairman, in making the presentation to Dr. Rogers of three
handsome pieces of silver plate in a case, together with a cheque for
£150, said he really ought to have the assistance of a lady now, for she
would so much more gracefully, in their name, present that testimonial
to Dr. Rogers. The inscription ran: "Presented to Dr. Joseph Rogers, in
recognition of his continuous effort in the cause of sanitary and Poor
Law medical reform, for nearly forty years. June 24, 1884." The date
reminded them that Dr. Rogers' voice had not been that of one crying in
the wilderness; his voice had been most usefully and beneficially
exercised in the metropolis. With the pieces of plate there was a
substantial lining. They hoped that Dr. and Mrs. Rogers would long be
spared to enjoy very many blessings. They had met together there with
one heart and one mind, to show their appreciation of his excellent
qualities both as a public and as a private man. The estimate of his
good deeds, he (the Chairman) fully believed, would never be known till
that last day, when the record of his life would be unrolled. They had
met to do honour to a good man; let each in his own capacity strive to
follow so noble an example, that when that great day came they might
have more to record of work done for others and less for themselves.

Dr. Rogers, who spoke with some emotion, said he felt much difficulty
in giving expression to the feelings that actuated him on that occasion;
all he would state was that, in his progress through life, if he had
recognized an evil, he had done his best to relieve it; and if in the
doing of it, he had occasionally--and doubtless he had--confronted the
prejudices of some and aroused the antagonism of others, it was the
inevitable fate of all who attempted to deal determinedly with
wrong-doing, wherever it might exist. He happened to be, as it were, a
child of the new Poor Law, because he remembered well when the Bill
became law, and his father expressed to him his sense of deep
disappointment and dissatisfaction, as a Christian man, with the way in
which the Bill was framed, in regard to its harsh and bitter spirit.
They must recognize the fact that the poor would be with us always; and
that it was best to deal with them in a spirit of conciliation,
moderation, and kindness, and especially in that particular branch of
the management of the poor with which it had been his lot for many years
to be associated, namely, as medical officer of a large metropolitan
workhouse. He was perfectly satisfied of one thing, and that was that a
judicious administration of Poor Law relief meant economy. He had
studied this question most minutely. He pointed out, twenty-three years
ago, to Mr. Charles Villiers, who presided over a committee on poor
relief in 1861, that a more liberal administration of poor relief meant
true economy to the ratepayers, because if they cut short the sickness
of the poor, and if they diminished the amount of deaths that took place
among the bread-winners, they would, as the ultimate result, economize
expenditure and out-relief. As regarded other subjects that had been
referred to, it was to him a matter of immense gratification that he had
been associated in those labours that took place about forty-four years
ago, initiated by Mr. George Alfred Walker, of Drury Lane, and which
eventually germinated in the abolition of the most horrible system that
ever took place in a Christian kingdom. He could tell them many things,
terribly showing the horrible evils that arose from keeping the bodies
of the dead in the single rooms of the living. He had many times seen
the widowed mother and the children dining off the coffin of the dead
father, and other scenes which were indescribable in a gathering like
that before him. This it was which had prompted his action in the
formation of a mortuary at St. Anne's. Dr. Rogers concluded by offering
his sincere thanks for the great honour they had conferred on him, and
to Mr. Shaw Stewart in coming and speaking so kindly of him as he had

Mr. Wickham Barnes proposed a vote of thanks to the Chairman, which was
seconded by Mr. James Hogg, and to which the Chairman briefly replied.


Though there were several persons of both sexes who were very advanced
in years, when one takes into account the difference in the numbers that
were to be found in the Strand and Westminster Workhouses, yet in this
latter House I did not see so many interesting old people as were to be
found in the former. About ten years ago, however, there was an
admission from St. Anne's, Soho, of an extremely aged woman. She claimed
then to be one hundred years old. She must have been extremely
good-looking in her youth, as she still retained evidences of personal
beauty. Like my old friend in the Strand, she had a bright blue eye and
a fair complexion; she was in possession of all her faculties, and
talked and laughed by the half-hour together when I was in the humour to
sit and chat with her. She knew the younger Pitt intimately, Charles
James Fox, the Prince Regent, Edmund Burke, and several of the
politicians of the latter part of the last century. She also told me she
knew Wellington and Nelson. At last I discovered what she had been. Her
constant references to Sheridan in her conversations with me induced me
one day to ask her if she knew him. Drawing herself up in a sprightly
sort of fashion, "I rather think I did," said she. Eventually it came
out that she had been under the protection of the box-keeper of Drury
Lane Theatre. On putting the question which brought out the somewhat
equivocal relation in which she had lived during the latter part of the
last century, she blushed up to her eyes--the only thing of the kind I
ever witnessed in a lady of such advanced years, so much so that I felt
sorry I had elicited the confession from her. She was a very interesting
old woman, and her remarks about the appearance of the celebrities of
the latter end of the last century and beginning of this, unmistakably
showed that she had associated on familiar terms with many of the
celebrated persons who lived and moved and produced a sensation nearly a
hundred years ago. She used to sing some very good songs; they were
chiefly Scotch, and when singing them she would work herself up into a
great state of excitement. She was very fond of talking to me, and I
suppose this arose from the circumstance of my taking interest in her
conversation. She was a very well-behaved old woman, and therefore a
great favourite with the inmates and nurses, who were highly amused
whenever they could get her to sing one of her Scotch songs. At the
latter end of the last century and the beginning of the present, she had
accompanied her male friend through Portugal and Spain prior to the war;
at the same time she knew Lord Nelson and Wellington before their names
had become famous. When she had reached 104, she rather suddenly lost
her vivacity, became childish, and insensibly passed from time into

We had, during the portion of the time I was at the Westminster Union,
quite a little community of aged and, so far as I could ascertain,
religious women, at any rate they struck me as being such, and I kept
them together until the harmony of their daily life was rudely
interfered with by the master and matron, Mr. John Bliss and Miss
Heatley, neither of whom had any sympathy with, or kindly feeling for,
decently conducted pauper women. Indeed they rendered the lives of these
people so wretched by harsh interference, as to compel me to distribute
them among other wards; some of them I even sent away to the sick asylum
hospitals, so as to get them out of their way. It was a wonder to me
that Miss Heatley, after all that was proved against her on the official
inquiry, should ever have been allowed to continue matron of the
Workhouse; but though spared by man's power, she was destined to perish
by one of the most fearful diseases that can afflict any woman, being
destined to die of cancer of a certain internal organ, and I have been
told her sufferings were of the acutest possible character. It is very
remarkable that, having had very large opportunities of witnessing the
deaths of my fellow-creatures, I have constantly observed that some
untimely fate has overtaken those who, exercising power in a workhouse,
have exhibited a cruel use of that power; and of one thing I am
absolutely certain from personal observation, repeated over and over
again, that, "Blessed is he who considereth the poor and needy, the Lord
shall deliver him in the time of trouble." It has often been asserted
that the inmates of a workhouse are generally worthless people, but I
demur to that conclusion entirely. Of this I am certain, that many a
person who has died in the infirmary of the sick ward of a workhouse has
gone as straight to Abraham's bosom as has ever passed from a bishop's
palace, or the death-chamber of a king or queen, or however highly
placed. During the thirty years that I was engaged in waiting on the
sick poor, I never lost sight of the fact that they were my
fellow-creatures who were accidentally placed in a humbler social
position than myself. Though, in accordance with the custom adopted in
the institution, they were stigmatized as paupers, I never allowed
myself to make them feel I thought them such. After the departure of Mr.
John Bliss and the disappearance (through illness) of Miss Heatley, the
Guardians appointed as master and matron, Mr. and Mrs. Minter. I found
them to be exceedingly respectable people, kind to the old and
afflicted, and fair and kind to the general population of an urban
workhouse. The sick poor were quietly attended to, whilst loud-mouthed
swearing and blasphemy were banished from the place. Unfortunately,
however, I began to break in health. Mounting up staircases day after
day, which had gone on for nearly forty years, told upon me, aggravated
as it was by repeated attacks of bronchitis. Then a heart affection,
followed by its usual concomitants, proved too much for me, and I was
compelled to resign the work I had done for so many years. What made the
blow the greater to me was this, that in all other respects my
professional life was a happy one. I had nothing to ask for from the
Board of Guardians, as all my legitimate requirements were at once
courteously met and complied with; a different atmosphere pervaded the
establishment, and therefore it was a pleasure to me to meet my
fellow-officers and to work with them. Looking back upon the change
which had taken place from the day I first entered upon my duties in
January, 1856, in the Old Strand Workhouse, till I finally left the
Westminster Union in 1886, a period of thirty years, the change that
occurred was enormous. Then there was hardly a paid nurse in any
workhouse in London, the duties being performed by more or less infirm,
drunken, and generally profligate inmates of the House. It was a miracle
to find an honest one among them; they were a chance medley of Sairey
Gamps and Betsy Prigs, who were selected at the will of master and
matron, and who obeyed the orders of the medical officer just as much
as, and no more than, their fancy led them. The scenes of untold misery
which might have been witnessed by the Guardians of the Poor will never
be fully exposed until the grave record of all things is opened to
universal gaze. Fortunately, a change has come over the spirit of these
things: in the present day the sick poor are housed in buildings which
were never dreamed of twenty years ago; pauper nursing is now entirely a
thing of the past; Lazarus now meets with careful, Christian
consideration, and if it be possible to restore him to health, an
opportunity is afforded him of resuming a position in society, useful,
though it maybe humble. My readers will therefore fully understand with
what great regret I took my pen and wrote the resignation of my office,
especially when I recall to mind my having been twice suspended from my
duties for the efforts I had made in bringing about the changes which I
have above referred to, and that at last, when I was no longer able to
do my work, I was constrained to sever my connection with the Board who
had come to look upon me as one solely actuated by a sense of duty.

The day after the receipt of my resignation, I received the following--



     "_September 27, 1886_.

     "DEAR SIR,--I am directed to forward you the annexed copy of a
     Resolution adopted by the Guardians at their meeting held on Friday
     last, when your resignation of the offices of Workhouse Medical
     Officer and Public Vaccinator of the Union was accepted.

     "I am, dear Sir, yours faithfully,


     "_Assistant Clerk of the Guardians_.

     "J. ROGERS, ESQ., M.D.,

     "Montagu Place, Russell Square."

     (Copy Resolution.)

     "That this Board has received with much regret the letter just read
     from Dr. Joseph Rogers, resigning the office of Workhouse Medical
     Officer and Public Vaccinator for the Union, on account of his
     continued ill-health, and while now accepting such resignation, the
     Guardians desire to convey to him their deep sympathy that he
     should thus be compelled to sever his connection with the Board
     after many years of faithful service, and to record their high
     sense of the zealous and efficient manner in which he has
     discharged the duties of his office, and for the warm interest he
     has at all times taken in questions affecting the proper treatment
     of the sick and infirm poor."

After the resolution had been submitted to the vote and adopted
unanimously, Mr. Samuel Bonsor rose in his seat and gave notice that
that day month superannuation allowance should be accorded to Dr. Joseph
Rogers. Coming from this gentleman it was indeed an honourable
recognition of lengthened public services. Mr. Bonsor had been in
various offices of the parish of St. Anne's, Soho, since the
introduction of the new Poor Law Bill in 1834. He had filled all the
usual parochial offices, even the highest, up to the time when I first
made his acquaintance, which was in the autumn of 1846, on the occasion
when I brought before the Vestry of St. Anne's, Soho, the terrible
condition of the burial-ground of that parish. After hearing my
indictment he at once concurred in the appointment of a committee from
the Vestry, of the inhabitants, to take the condition of the ground into
consideration, and to devise such remedies as might appear desirable.
Mr. Bonsor attended several of our meetings, and entirely agreed as to
the dreadful state into which the graveyard had fallen, owing to the
frequent funerals and the enormous overcrowding. It was that Vestry
meeting that first made me a sanitary reformer, and caused me to
advocate extra-mural interment as well as many other social reforms, in
all of which I had the hearty support of Mr. Bonsor. I question whether
a finer representative of a middle-class tradesman could be found in
this kingdom; for more than half a century he has devoted more than
ordinary ability to the interests of his fellow-parishioners. I never
upon one single occasion heard, or was it ever hinted by any enemy (if
he ever made one, which I doubt), that his actions were ever influenced
by a single act of self-seeking; indeed, he has passed through an
unusually prolonged life amidst the respect and regard of all who have
come in contact with him. A very short time ago he brought me a circular
letter, issued by the Poor Law Commissioners, proposing the Board of
Guardians in London should issue a similar letter to their respective
bodies, so as to more effectually deal with casuals. Laying it down
before me, he said, "This is a return to what they did between forty and
fifty years ago, for I was a member of the special Board which was
appointed under this letter; but," said he, "I suppose they have
forgotten all about it." And so they had, no doubt.

Before bringing my remarks to a close, I should like to briefly describe
the various changes that have taken place since the Poor Law Commission
was appointed in 1832. One of the original Commissioners was the Right
Hon. C. P. Villiers, M.P. for Wolverhampton, who has told me in the
course of various conversations I have had with him, that although a
variety of subjects was referred to them in connection with the
administration of the Poor Laws, yet that the question of sickness, as a
factor in the production of pauperism was not referred to them, and if
it had not been for the pertinacity of Dr. G. Wallis and some others,
that this important subject would have been passed over altogether. It
need not, therefore, be a matter of surprise that there has been a
continual protest going on, on the part of those who have accepted Poor
Law medical appointments against the way in which they have been treated
by the Board of Guardians, and a reference to the Poor Law Commissioners
resulting in the various changes that have taken place in the
composition of the central authority up to the Local Government Board of
the present day. Until 1864 the central authority was an extremely weak
body, as continuous efforts were made throughout the country by Boards
of Guardians and others to wipe the Poor Law Board out of existence
altogether, and had it not have happened that the investigations and
deliberations of the Select Committee on Poor Relief, presided over by
the Right Hon. C. P. Villiers, had reported in favour of the maintenance
of the Poor Law Board--not Local Government Board--such a disastrous
thing would have happened. Let it here be fully understood that although
I have taken a most determined antagonism to many of the acts of the
Board, whether as Commissioners or as the Poor Law Board, yet that
antagonism has been due to the fact that the administration has often
been seriously faulty in detail. The office of a Poor Law Inspector is
one which needs much judgment and tact. I trust this will be borne in
mind by those who will draft the contemplated County Government Board.
There is one point on which, feeling most strongly the existing mockery
of so-called Poor Law inquiries, I do trust a change will be insisted
upon, and that is, that those deputed to make the inquiry shall possess
at least a modicum of legal intelligence. Finally, I have to express the
hope that no Inspector, whether metropolitan or otherwise, will be
vested with the sole power of deciding what shall be the evidence that
shall be taken when the inquiry shall close, nor that he shall be the
sole judge of the value of such evidence.


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