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comfort of its inmates, which an intelligent and humane supervision can devise.
Under the arrangements made by the Commonwealth for supporting its own paupers, its lunatics were included, and a large number of those who were formerly State charges in the Boston Lunatic Hospital have been withdrawn. Should the remainder be also withdrawn, there will be room which might be occupied by paying patients, whose support would aid in defraying that portion of the expense of conducting the institution which has hitherto been derived from the State charges.
Under the light which advancing science and experience have shed upon the subject of insanity, within the past few years, a system of treatment has been here introduced which has been followed by the most gratifying results. The cottage building, so-called, which was formerly filled to excess with violent and furious patients, is now empty. One by one its pitiable inmates have been redeemed from the solitary cell and introduced to the kinder sympathies and associations of the general household. In no instance has it been found necessary, permanently or frequently, to return a patient to the cell, and several who had been in confinement for years have perfectly recovered and have been discharged from the institution, and others have so far recovered as to be sent to their homes or to be given up to their friends.
The general condition of the inmates is in the highest degree encouraging. They have been free from all epidemics, and there have been but few deaths from acute diseases during the year. Various means of alleviating the monotony of their confinement have been introduced, by which great relief is given, both to body and mind, the effect of which is clearly visible in the general health and contentment of the inmates.
In connection with the subject of Public Charitable Institutions, I beg leave to call your attention to the need of a free hospital within the limits of the city. There are within our borders many persons of intelligence, industry and good habits, and well able while in health to sustain themselves respectably, but whose income is not sufficient to enable them to accumulate funds against the emergency of sickness, requiring a suspension of labor. There are others who, by reverses of fortune, sudden or gradual, find their pecuniary position changed, without experiencing a corresponding change in their tastes and sensibilities ; and who, when overtaken by sickness, have no other alternative than the almshouse, or to meet their fate in obscure and hopeless poverty, preferring even death to the sacrifice of an honorable delicacy in making appeals to private charity. There are others still, who by accident are placed in need of comforts and medical advice which their means and homes cannot afford; to whom may also be added the destitute stranger, and children who require temporary advice and support, and females in the various conditions of destitution and sickness to which their sex is liable.
A very large number of applications are annually made at the office of the Overseers of the Poor and of the House of Industry, for such assistance as a free hospital alone can afford; and the physicians of the Dispensary and the officers of the many private charitable institutions and associations report many more;
evincing the fact that hundreds of cases arise every year, but few of which can be met by the free beds at that excellent institution, the Massachusetts General Hospital.
Such hospitals exist in all the large cities of Europe, and there is hardly a city in America of the same magnitude as Boston, which does not possess one or more.
I have reason to believe that some of the existing charities might be consolidated into one general institution of this character, should it receive your favorable consideration; and I herewith transmit a memorial from several of the leading physicians of the city, giving their opinion of the necessity and value of such an institution, with such other information as may elucidate the whole subject.
THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Can never fail to be objects of primary importance in a community which is filled with examples of their beneficence and power. Every day's observation and experience, and the comparison of the highest efforts which have been made, at any period, to elevate the general condition of society, press home more strongly than before, the truth that in the education and discipline of the mind and the heart is to be found the true basis of individual and national character. The continued interest of all classes of our citizens in the liberal support of the public schools, and in the maintenance of the meritorious character which they have hitherto sustained, is sufficient evidence that their value is universally appreciated, and that those who are charged with their supervision and management will receive cordial coöperation, and be held to high responsibility.
The City Council has little of this responsibility, beyond making the requisite provisions and appropriations for the support of the schools, and furnishing them with suitable buildings for their accommodation.
Under the progress of a new system of organization of the Grammar Schools, - a measure rendered necessary both for economy in current expenses, and by the claims of good discipline, — large outlays have been made during the last few years in new grammar and primary school-houses and apparatus. It is probable that further outlays for the former will be small for some time to come, and that the demands for the latter class will be chiefly in those localities, where new communities are forming, and to supply the want which may arise from the gradual increase of population elsewhere.
During the past year the Superintendent of Schools who has filled the office from its establishment, and who has enjoyed high reputation in educational circles, has resigned his situation; and the vacancy has been filled by the election of a gentleman of great practical and professional experience in school affairs, who comes to us fresh from an extensive field of similar labor, where he has achieved honorable distinction. The Report of the School Committee, which has just been issued, exhibits the condition of the Schools to be vigorous and progressive, and points out sundry methods of increasing their usefulness and of guarding them against those evils to which, without perpetual supervision, they may become exposed.
THE PUBLIC LIBRARY.
This noble institution, alike the object of the liberality and of the growing interest of our community, is fast assuming its position as one of the most important of our permanent educational facilities. The bounteous liberality of its greatest benefactor continues to flow into its halls in streams of undiminished magnitude,