January, 1893, I received a letter from Lord Mayor Knill, inviting
me to a meeting at the Mansion House to promote the welfare of epileptics.
As I had given some attention to the subject, I replied, and said:
"I am prepared to present the National Society for the Employment
of Epileptics with a suitable farm of not less than a hundred acres,
and with buildings convenient for the purpose. I make the offer for
several reasons, and among them may be mentioned that such people,
smitten with infirmity, are entitled to practical sympathy from their
healthier and wealthier fellow-countrymen ; that, as a rule, epileptics
are unable to fight the battle of life; that, being removed from towns,
and employed in light and agreeable occupations in garden or farm
work, they would, with suitable recreations, improve in health and
enjoy existence; and also because England, with its many advantages,
should not be behind Westphalia, or any other nation or province,
in shielding and assisting such children of misfortune." The
offer was accepted and acted on.
inquiry, and with the co-operation of the newly-formed National
Society, I purchased a productive farm of 135 acres at Chalfont
St. Peters, a healthful and picturesque part of Buckinghamshire.
I have since erected on the farm, which is now called a colony,
a house for the accommodation of twenty-four epileptic men,
a similar house for epileptic women, a house for the accommodation
of the same number of boys, and a similar house for epileptic
girls, another house for epileptic men, 12
and a central administrative building.
houses have since been erected by other generous donors. It is encouraging
to know that this blended moral and industrial enterprise has, from
the moment of its inception, made steady and substantial progress,
and there is good ground for belief that it will make similar progress
for many years. It supplies a conspicuous national want, and carries
with it an all-round blessing-a blessing to the hundreds of colonists
who work and play there, and a blessing to the community.
are particularly entitled to practical sympathy, and the best
way for their friends, county councils, or poor-law guardians
to show that sympathy is to help them to become members of colonies
like that at Chalfont, where they can perform agreeable labour
in the open air, assist to get their own living, and in so doing
promote their physical and mental health ; where they can sympathise
with each other in their misfortunes, and, in times of emergency,
render each other aid, as they do gladly; where they can get
and enjoy many of the advantages of home life with prospects
of improvement and recovery.
epilepsy may be classed among brain diseases, epileptics are capable
of doing the highest kind of intellectual work. The late Sir Andrew
Clark said, at the Guildhall meeting referred to, that "many
of the ablest men born into the world, from Sir Isaac Newton to Charles
Darwin, were, as children, sickly and unlikely to live. I say the
same thing about epileptics. I do not say that Mahomet and Napoleon
did much for the good of the world; but they were undoubtedly great
men, and each gave to his age ideas which led into new channels of
thought. Mahomet and Napoleon, nevertheless, were epileptics."