+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

confusions and stoppages might be
expected to arise from street railroads, but no such
confusion occurs. The street car is stopped
more easily than an ordinary vehicle. If
another car be seen coming, the conductor pulls
his bell, and the one car waits at the crossing
until the other has passed. It is true it cannot
move off the rails to avoid obstacles, but it can
stop for them. At Boston they work equally
well, running deep into the fashionable streets,
and running out again into the far-distant
suburbs, past Longfellow's pleasant home, and up
to the beautiful cemetery on the steep banks
of the Schuykill. There must come a time when
street railroads will be found all over the
European world.


A RECENT movement on behalf of what are
called the "Destitute Incurables in
Workhouses," is well described in a paper by
Miss Elliot and Miss Cobbe, read at the Social
Science Meeting at Glasgow in September last
year. The plan is explained by these ladies,
which has been since supported by the money
and the advocacy of wise and kind peoplein a
circular addressed to all the Boards of Guardians
in England; by many of whom it is approved, and
by some already in course of adoption. Faultless
in spirit and intention, easily carried out, and
ensuring the alleviation of much suffering, we
think it is not quite faultless in detail. By two
changes we think it would be improved.

In the first place, we think it is hardly
advisable that any set of sick people should
be brought together, whether destitute or
wealthy, to be ticketed Incurable. Anything
more stifling to the sick mind than the mere
sense of being established in a hospital for
Incurables, to say nothing of the influence of
association with the despondencies of all the
other incurables who represent society in such
a hospital, can hardly be conceived. What
is meant by Incurable? A disease called
incurable in one generation, is curable in the
next. A disease incurable by one man, is
curable by another. A disease called curable,
ends in a painful death; a disease called
incurable, is borne with little suffering through a
long life, and after all is not the cause of death.
The first proposal in the plan before us is, "that
in every workhouse persons suffering from acute
and distressing diseases, such as dropsy,
consumption, or cancer, should be placed in wards
especially allotted to them, to be called the wards
for male and female incurables." The second,
altogether sound, suggestion is, "that in these
particular wards, private charity be permitted
to introduce whatever may tend to alleviate the
sufferings of the inmates."

Now, the second change of plan we
suggest is this. We do not at all see why the
being labelled Incurable should be a condition
of the extension of mercy to the destitute
sick in workhouses when they are seriously
sick. It is clear that no physician was by,
at the wording of the first of the above quoted
suggestions; for the "acute and distressing
diseases" are precisely the most curable,
and it is a known distinction between acute
attacks of a disorder and its lingering but less
distressing form, that one though more immediately
dangerous is more curable than the other,
which from its taking time is called (from the
Greek word that means time) chronic. It is
one aim of the art of medicine to extend its
dominion over these chronic cases; and although
in our ordinary hospitals acute and other curable
diseases yield the greater number of the inmates,
and a shelter for life is not given to any patient,
yet the persons who would be now regarded as
incurable, dismissed relieved and readmitted,
do receive prolonged attention. But whenever
it shall be the wish of the benevolent to make
fuller provision for such cases outside the
workhouse, the last thing to be done is to found
Hospitals for Incurables. Special endowments
of "chronic wards" in the existing hospitals
would cost comparatively little. Maintenance
for life of each inmate being provided by a
special fund, the wards being additions to and
not subtractions from the hospital resources,
those little colonies of permanent sick would be
of value to the student, while there would be
every encouragement to hope, every chance of
cure, afforded to the inmate.

In the workhouses, then, we would suggest
a slight modification of the plan proposed.
Let that which charity proposes to do for the
sick poor of the workhouse who cannot get
well, be done also for those who may not get
well. If it be desirable for economic reasons that
benevolence, even in its independent working,
should not be too active among paupers who are
on the rates; if even the sick ward of the workhouse
must, for the good of the parish purse, be
comfortless; then let there be a sick ward for all
those who require slight aid from the doctor
who are in no wise dangerously ill, and let all
the rest of the sick go into the wards of the
workhouse infirmary, there to be classed as the
doctor may desire, and to find in the day of
their sore trouble, even in the workhouse,
human sympathy. Why is the patient gasping
or aching with the intenser pangs of a sharp
curable disease, that yet may kill within a
week, to be condemned to the uncushioned
bench outside the bed, to be denied the bit
of orange and the little plate of grapes, or
the air pillowluxuries that may save life
while they are allowed only to those whose
infirmity is hopeless? Why are we to leave
pneumonia to the poor's rate, and give the
addition of our Christian tenderness to asthma? If
it be replied that those cases of urgency will be
received into the incurable ward, we ask what
right they have there? And what might be the
effect on a patient at the turning-point between
life and death, when told that he had been put
among the incurables?

We heartily support the scheme of bringing a
small charitable fund to bear on the condition of
the sick poor in our workhouses; but no political