1 MARCH 1873, Page 15



SIR,—Your correspondent "Protagoras " is in an amusing state of bewilderment and delusion. The idea that incurable "syphilitic," "hydrophobic," or any other patients are now-a-days put quietly to death in hospitals by medical order is not only absurdly incor- rect, but is a curious inversion of the fact. I am surprised that " Protagoras " should be ignorant that not the least of the services rendered to humanity by modern medicine has been the total aboli- tion of the very practices to which be refers. At least with regard to hydrophobia, it is notorious that the sufferers from this horrible disease were (as late as the end of the last century) calmly and systematically suffocated, as a matter of course, and with public approval. The medical profession doubtless has its faults, but certainly the very last thing of which it can justly be accused is the sanctioning of the deliberate shortening of life; on the contrary, it is almost entirely to the influence of medical men that the modern excessive tenderness—if such there be—for totally useless human life is to be traced. And as for the notion that "systematic suffoca- tion" could be practised in a hospital, of all places in the world, it is indeed amazing Those who really know anything of hospitals, are aware that the faintest hint, by doctor or nurse, at the advis- ability of shortening the life even of the most hopelessly miserable patient, would be received by their colleagues with about as much tolerance as Sir Augustus Clifford would accord to a modern Guy Faux who should propose to blow up the Lords in order to save them from the pains of extreme old-womanhood.—I am, Sir, &c.,