15 MAY 1880, Page 10



go THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR.") S111,-1-011 may well wonder at the fullness of the reply which Miss Lonsdale's article has called forth. But that article had an importance which did not depend upon either the knowledge or the scruples of the writer. It showed the objects—though not, I feel sure, the spirit—of those who have brought the pre- sent difficulties upon Guy's Hospital, and it justified all the apprehensions of evil which the Medical Staff had expressed, and which others had treated as imaginary.

We stated, first, that the system which the newly-appointed Matron attempted to introduce would interfere with the authority and responsibility of each hospital "sister," the traditional title of each lady placed in charge of a ward, a " ward " at Guy's being really a department, with several rooms, and often containing as many as fifty patients. The advantages of the ward system (at least for the largest hospitals, like St. Bartholomew's, Guy's, and the London), have been amply proved, and have never been denied. What was denied was the desire to interfere with this system.

Secondly, we expressed anxiety lest the raischiefs of "a reli- gious propaganda" should be admitted into a charity which, by its constitution and traditions, knows nothing of sectarian dis-

sension ; and we urged the danger of allowing our nurses to transfer their loyalty from their ward and their hospital to a religious association. The title of" Lady Superintendent" has been withdrawn, and the existence of a sisterhood has been denied; but whatever phrases may be used, Miss Lonsdale's article shows the reality of the danger, of which other proofs have not been wanting. The "very grave blunder" of which you speak is shutting one's eyes to obvious facts. "No one who knows anything about the matter" has the least doubt of their existence, though some approve and others disapprove.

Thirdly, we warned the Hospital authorities of the evil which would befall their renowned School of Medicine, unless due care were taken that the training of nurses (beyond what is necessary for our own service) should not interfere with the education of students. That it may do so is illustrated by Miss Lonsdale's naive complaint that the presence of students, and even the visits of the surgeons, interfere with the nursing.

The facts of the articles by Sir William Gull, Dr. Habershon, and Dr. Moron are numerous, pertinent, and strictly accurate, the arguments are cogent, the authority is overwhelming. But the evidence is too complete to convince. You complain that Dr. Moron shows bias. If by bias is meant the absence of pro- fessed impartiality at the end of six months' contest, this is only charging a controversial paper with being controversial. If by bias is meant prejudice, the imputation is without ground, for we knew nothing of any change of system until we found that we were losing some of our best sisters and nurses. The important argument, however, to which I wish, if you will allow me, to reply, is that if the new system worked as badly as is asserted, the Governors would have de- cided against it. This appears a strong objection. But those who are acquainted with the constitution of Guy's Hos- pital know that the whole responsible government is committed to the Treasurer. It is his duty to consult his staff, and to see that no harm befall the hospital and medical school. But while he holds office, the Governors are bound to support his autho- rity. Appeal from the Treasurer to the Governors is a grave and almost unprecedented course, only to be justified by abso- lute necessity, and no one could have wondered if they had declined to interfere. So far, however, from deciding against the representations of the staff, "every one knows" that some of the most mischievous innovations have been withdrawn, more were denied, and the result was a compromise, which might, but for subsequent events, have removed the greatest evils introduced since last November. Moreover, the final decision of the governing body of the Hospital has not yet been made.

As to the articles in medical journals of which you speak, I may say that they were not "preliminary," but subsequent to the action of the Staff. That the voice of the profession has been on our side does not prove that we are right, but surely it does not disprove it. The introduction of the controversy into medical, as into general journals, was not by us, nor in our behalf. And you are misinformed when you say that a student's news-sheet admitted "furious attacks" upon the changes intro- duced by the Matron. On the contrary, the moderation and good-feeling of these comments contrast with the reckless ac- cusations and worse innuendoes of Miss Lonsdale's article. In- deed, the conduct of our students, under circumstances which might well try the patience and self-control of older men, has been worthy of all praise.

Finally, I would ask whether you can fairly dismiss as mere professional jealousy the deliberate judgment of the entire Medical Staff, that is, of more than twenty men differing in age, in character, and in opinions, but all thoroughly conversant with the matters in dispute, interested as no one else can be in the best possible nursing of their patients, and bound up in the welfare of their beloved hospital and school ? I may add that one of our three advocates was at first favourable to the new system, and has been led to his present condemnation of it by the irresistible evidence of facts.

I need not point out to readers of the Spectator the vulgar fallacy of supposing that truth must lie midway between two opposite statements. So easy a method of deciding a contro- versy is only a premium upon audacity of misstatement. If the writer of your review could have witnessed the entire course of events during the last sir months, the sympathy of the Spectator would have been for and not against the cause which Sir William Gull, Dr. Habershon, and Dr. Moron so ably repre- sent. For it is the cause of individual responsibility against centralisation, of reasonable liberty against the narrow tyranny of a sect, and of trained experience against uninstructed senti-

[We regret the tone of this letter. Dr. Pye-Smith speaks purely as a partisan. Our article was written in no partisan spirit, and fairly represents, we believe, the conviction of some of the most impartial of those who conducted the inquiry, and who entered upon it with views decidedly in favour of the medical staff. As to the religious sisterhood question, there is, we believe, not a particle of evidence to produce in Dr. Moron's favour. We have even heard, on what seemed good authority, that the case brought in evidence by Dr. Moron under the letter " C.," of a sister " displaced on account of her religion," has reference to a period antecedent to the recent changes, and had no more connection with them than with the general election. As to the tone of the medical journals and the Guy's Hospital journal, we wrote entirely on our own knowledge, and could produce ample proof of what we said, if it were at all desirable. We wrote in the interest of a fair compromise, while Dr. Pye- Smith appears to write in the interest of rendering any fair compromise almost impossible.—ED. Spectator.]