THE LANCET

1896 The Lancet  
1896. THE METROPOLITAN HOSPITAL SUNDAY FUBTD. IN entering to-day upon a second decade of Special Supplements in support of the MetropoIitan Hospital Sunday Fund we feel that we may dispense with the language of apology which was appropriate to our earlier issues of this /kind. We address ourselves in this chapter to a body of readers wholly outside the circle of those to whom, as a rule, we submit our weekly issues. But it is by this time well understood on the part of our readers, both medical
more » ... men and laymen, that we make this departure from our custom in the interest of a cause which is the common cause of all alike ; in the interest of a great work of charity which, as being directed to the relief of the ravages occasioned by personal accident and by disease, is in a peculiar sense dependent upon medical support, but which, by reason of the magnitude upon which its operations are conducted, goes much beyond the power of any particular class I in the community, and demands and receives the support of the great public, including rich and poor, great and small-everybody who can help with a pecuniary contribution or with personal service. We mention personal service in this connexion because, although pecuniary aid is in a special sense the form which charity takes on Hospital Sunday, it would be less than charity if the personal element were wanting which mere pecuniary support can never replace. Of the many thousands who on Sunday next will testify to their interest in hospital work by larger or smaller contributions to the Hospital Sunday Fund collection a very small percentage only will be capable of contributing anything but money to the great work. And yet those whose personal service is one of the wings upon which this great charity supports its flight will by no means be found to hold aloof from the voluntary tax to be then decreed by an unqualified universal suffrage upon Londoners. From the hospital physician to the hospital drudge every class and grade in the ministry of the hospitals will be found represented in the congregations of the metropolis and contributing in proportion to its means to the pecuniary support which constitutes the second wing of medical charity. The blessedness of giving in this most literal sense of the word is a delight for which those whose chief blessedness is in doing will be in no sense backward to compete. But the gifts of money must chiefly come from those who have nothing else .to give, and the fact that they are thus shut up to this one form of helping the great work forward should act, and will .act as we believe, as a powerful incentive to generosity. In the statement which we to-day issue-a statement which rests more than some others that we have submitted upon the purely public aspects of the question-we have -endeavoured to show in some detail how the existing organisation of the Fund supplies the want of a coordinating and governing body among the voluntary medical charities -of the metropolis, and to display the extent, as measured by pecuniary support, to which the individual members of the public interest themselves in this annually recurring function. To many, perhaps to most, of our readers both of these views of the subject will disclose some very striking facts. It will scarcely be less than a revelation that the churches of the metropolis, upon this, the occasion when they make their supreme effort in the cause of philanthropy, cannot secure so much by way of contribution as a farthing a head from Londoners all round. It will be perhaps equally surprising, but in a more agreeable sense, to learn how much is done quietly-so quietly that it may fitly be said to be without observation-to secure the vital objects of economy and efficiency in connexion with hospital administration. At a minimum of cost for official work, with a minimum of trouble and offence to the institutions whose work comes under review, the control of the Council is exerted over practically the whole medical charity of London. Two great hospitals, monuments of the piety of an earlier day, are able to maintain their work without subventions from the Fund, and a few obscure institutions are not able to qualify for a share in its distribution, but these are the most notable exceptions to the rule that through the instrumentality of this great institution the influence of the church is brought to bear upon the work of medical relief with what are, upon the whole, the most beneficent results. This popular control is not, it must be admitted, wholly without its drawbacks. But nothing is ; and the worst that can be said about the spontaneous Hospital Sunday movement is that it has given occasion to a few mistaken people to thrust their views very unpleasantly forward in a singularly unprofitable or even mischievous way. We have ourselves become involved within the past week or two with certain people quite unknown to us who, probably with the best intentions, have sought to turn this collection into an occasion of strife concerning the ethics of physiological experiment. This, like many other questions of morals, is one upon which it is quite possible to be mistaken, and we do not for a moment question the integrity of those persons who, entertaining strong views, assail with unmerited vituperation the leaders of physiological research. To be misunderstood and misrepresented has been the fate of those who have led the van in every work of charity, from the Founder of Christianity downwards through all the ranks of the benefactors of mankind. He would be unworthy of the position of a pioneer in any department of human progress who was not prepared to face misrepresentation at the hands of those who know ill though they mean well, and to encounter the unreasonable hostility of good but uninstructed people. The pathologist who knows what momentous issues in the way of the mitigation of suffering and the saving of life both to men and brutes lie in the successful modification of a bacterium, or the production of a benignant amoeboid growth, cannot possibly desist from his work of mercy merely because some of his neighbours, whose good opinion he would gladly enjoy, mistake him for a monster of cruelty. He cannot justify himself to their judgment for the same reason for which the ordinary practitioner could not, if he would, justify to his patient his treatment of a particular disease. Practical experience has taught people gifted with common sense that in order to discuss a
doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(01)63968-0 fatcat:u3tvez6ojjacdk6fh5jjwk7aru