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The average numbers in the Workhouse, taken from the monthly reports, were:
Men. Women. Total. In 1872.
The number of escapes (54) was still less in 1877 than in 1876. The number returned was not so great as in the previous year.
1874.. 1875. 1876.. 1877.
83.. 81. 57. 54.
37 72 45 26
The health of the inmates has been maintained at the high standard of previous years. Only one death is reported, that of a man who committed suicide by hanging himself from a cell door. Of the 3,836 persons committed to the institution, only nineteen have died in it.
Religions services are held on Sunday, and, during the winter months, there is a school for both sexes in the chapel. Mr. James P. Root, who continues to perform faithfully the duties of Chaplain, speaks quite fully on these subjects in his report.
STATE ASYLUM FOR THE INCURABLE INSANE.
The history of the afflicted persons who find a home in this institution, is much the same one year as another, and, as the time comes round to speak of them again, we find but little to say that has not been said in previous reports.
Under the kindly care of the Deputy and Matron, Mr. and Mrs. Fred. W. Perry, they have been made as comfortable as their condition will permit. Some have worked in the garden; some, during their seasons of quiet, have done the repairs of the buildings, and have made and mended the bedding and clothing; others, so far demented, or so feeble of body, as to be incapable of labor, have passed their time according to their bent, sitting under the trees or basking in the sun in summer, and enjoying the warmth of the stoves in winter; and a small number have remained in confinement or under restraint.
The addition to the cottage for excited patients, described under the head of Construction, has done much to increase the comfort of the inmates of this building. They now have roomy dining halls, where they take their meals.
The statistics for the year are as follows:
It is apparent not only in this, but also in other asylums, that the rate of increase of the number of the insane has been, of late years, greater than that of the general population. It has sometimes been
thought, that this increased number is due to the fact, that during the past few years the insane have been brought out from the places where they had been hidden. Public opinion has required that they should no longer be kept in private families and in town poor-houses, and has forced them into asylums, where they may have special care, and where, too, they can be counted. So far as this is true, the increase is apparent rather than real. But the physicians of many of our curative hospitals assert that there is a real increase. It was so stated by Dr. Nathan Allen, one of the highest authorities, at the conference of charities, at Saratoga, in 1876; and at the same meeting Dr. Edward C. Mann, Medical Superintendent of the State Emigrant Asylum, Ward's Island, New York, made the following remarks, noting the increase, and giving the causes which produce it:
"Insanity is, in the middle states, as in the other states, increasing disproportionately to the increase of population; and it also seems to be appearing at an earlier age than formerly, which latter fact is probably due to hereditary influences, which have gradually become intensified by violation of physical laws in early life, want of proper training, or too high pressure in education. Next to hereditary pre
. disposition, which is the first and great predisposing cause of insanity, comes the great mental activity and strain upon the nervous system, that appertains to the present age and state of civilization. This feverish haste and unrest, which characterize us as a people, and the want of proper recreation and sleep, tend to a rapid decay of the nervous system, and to insanity, as a necessary sequence.
It is much to be deplored that intemperance is operating more and more, each succeeding year, as a formidable cause in the production of insanity. It is not too much to say that twenty-five per cent. of all cases of insanity admitted into the asylums of our middle states is due, either proximately or remotely, to intemperance, which has produced a permanently diseased state of the brain.”
In this State, as in most of the New England States, the ratio of the insane to the population is larger than in the United States, taken as a whole. Our State census of 1875, shows that one person in every 609 of the population is insane, and that one in every 459 is either insane or idiotic. In the United States, in 1875, the ratio was one in 953, and in Massachusetts, in the same year, one in 455. In Europe the ratio is still higher than with us; being in England, one in 403; in Ireland, one in 302; in Scotland, one in 336; and in France, one in 600.
When, in January, 1875, the Board, in their report, said that additional accommodation was needed at the Asylum, the number of inmates was 172. The number is now 209; thirty-seven more now than then. Twenty-eight rooms were added to the cottage for excited patients in 1875. The institution has again reached the limit of its capacity for providing for its inmates. Should the steady increase in the number of the insane be maintained, a further enlargement of the institution will become necessary. Upon the recommendation of the Committee on buildings and Repairs, the sum of $4,000 is included in the estimate of expenditures for the coming year; to be used, if it shall appear to the Board that additional accommodation is positively required.
In their report of last year the Board called attention to the necessity of moving back the old farm wall and fence, along the line of Howard Avenue, in front of the Asylum for the insane, and said that they thought it desirable, instead of replacing them, to begin the building of a high stone wall, to enclose the entire Asylum grounds. “This work,” to quote from the report of 1876, “ which will ocenpy several years, can doubtless be done mostly by the inmates, and can be carried forward to completion as time and opportunity allow. But a small outlay will be needed for material.” Owing to the demands for the workhouse labor and for the teams for other purposes, -largely for the new prison, it has been impracticable, as yet, to begin the work. As Howard Avenue has been graded along the line of the proposed new wall, the work will probably be undertaken during the coming season.
The Board deem it their duty to call the attention of your honorable body, from year to year, to the unfitness of the buildings of this institution for the purpose for which they are used. The question has been raised, whether it is not desirable to begin to build at once a new Almshouse. It was thought wiser, however, to defer action in the matter until more prosperous times.
The institution remains under the care of Mr. and Mrs. William G. Ward, who do all in their power to make the well comfortable and to alleviate the sufferings of the sick.
The large number of deaths reported each year, is evidence that those received here are mostly of the aged and the diseased. Many are brought here but to die. The Almshouse is the only provision the State makes for its poor; there is no system of State out-door relief. Therefore, it depends almost entirely upon the humanity of the town overseer of the poor, whether State paupers, discovered in a dying condition within their jurisdiction, shall be cared for on the spot, at the expense of a few dollars to the town treasury, or shall be transported miles, it may be from the furthermost corner of the State, to the Almshouse; there to linger a few days, perhaps but a few hours, and die. Several cases of persons brought to the Almshouse on the point of death, and suffering pitiably from the want of care and medical attendance, have occurred during the year. Still the evil is, perhaps, not yet of sufficient magnitude to make it desirable to establish, as has been done in Massachusetts, a system of out-door relief for the State poor. Should this be done, however, the burden of the cost of such a system, would, through State taxation, be distributed among the cities and towns. Is it not less expensive for each town to care for the few cases of this kind that may be found, than to aid in making a system of out-door relief necessary, and then share in the expense of maintaining it? But, laying aside the question of selfinterest, do not Christianity and our civilization demand the exercise on the part of the dispensers of our public charities the broadest humanity, and are such acts humane?
Attention has thus been called to what has seemed, at times, to the Board, to indicate a want of true charity on the part of a small number of those to whom the care of the poor and suffering is entrusted, in the hope that this may meet their eye, and awaken them to a true ap