15 JUNE 1850, Page 15


Sht. SIBLEY, a courageous and kindhearted gentleman who lived at Rig/ate, perishes in trying to rescue a boy from drowning in the Hampstead Ponds, and there is an outcry to make the Water Com- pany that owns the ponds "prevent such disasters in future." Very good : but how ?—By rendering the ponds leas dangerous. Very well, but will that "prevent such disasters'? There is a great delusion on these subjects, which is always revived at every fresh accident. A man jumps off the Duke of York's pillar, and there is a cry to prevent suicides in that mode, by caging the top of the column as the Monument is caged : yet it is hardly possible that the cage will prevent a single suicide. The maul bout on self- destruction will know that he cannot effect it by that path, and he will simply choose another. The delusion might be allowed to pass if it were simply idle ; but it is mischievous. It would manifestly be absurd to attempt the caging of all places that a suicide would use : you cannot put a fence to every precipice, or pad the whole world against self- murderous insanity. But the multiplication of precautions cannot fail to excite and foster a morbid nervousness ; so that for one death which you thus prevent, you may cause many, directly by inciting a morbid propensity to meditate such acts, or indirectly by inducing depression and bid health. The true way to prevent suicides is, not to cage up pillars or fence off ponds, but to do whatever promotes healthier feelings in society.

Again, the great safeguard against such disasters as that at Hampstead is, to place youths beyond the danger of drowning by endowing them with power to swim; and that is to be done, not by enclosing ponds, but by multiplying the places for bathing and increasing the facilities. Practice is the father of skill and self- reliance ; and they are the parents of safety.