In 1849 John Leech, a friend of Charles Dickens, was injured. The accident left Leech with concussion-like symptoms that wouldn't disappear despite all the work of his doctors. Leech was in a great deal of pain and unable to rest. Dickens heard of the incident and rushed to his friend's aid. However, within a few days Leech's condition had significantly improved. What could Dickens do that the doctors couldn't? Dickens aided his friend via the use of mesmerism. It was developed by Franz Anton Mesmer. It used hypnotic trances to heal people. In 1838 Dickens attended several lectures on the subject including some by John Elliotson. He was the professor of medicine who introduced the stethoscope to England. He also had campaigned against corrupt medical practices. Despite his many accomplishments Elliotson was forced to resign his teaching position in 1839 because of a scandal regarding mesmerism. Despite the controversy Dickens was a believer in mesmerism. Elliotson taught Dickens the technique and it quickly became apparent that Dickens was skilled in this area. Initially he mesmerized family and friends just for fun or to aid with minor illnesses. However in late 1844 he took on a more serious case, that of Madame de la Rue. Augusta de la Rue suffered from extreme anxiety. It was so profound that it caused noticeable facial tics or spasms. Dickens was eager to help and during the next few months he treated the patient frequently. The treatments were effective. After the month Madame de la Rue showed much improvement. She was able to sleep the night and visibly looked more relaxed. Once the physical symptoms of Madame de la Rue eased Dickens became interested about their underlying causes. The sessions began to focus more on Madame de la Rue's dreams, hallucinations and thoughts. She spoke of being pursued by a "phantom". Their sessions became almost like those of therapist and patient. How exactly did mesmerism work? Perhaps it acted as the tranquilizer and promoted rest. At this point it's hard to say. However the health of Leech and de la Rue did seem to improve after being treated by Dickens. Briefly, such anticlerical sentiments also reappear later in Dickens' career in an essay called "City of London Churches," which was collected in The Uncommercial Traveler, a compilation of pieces published in 1861. This report, which describes the physical state of the city's places of worship, begins with the journalist's acknowledgment of the strong antipathy towards the specimen of clergy he calls the powerful preacher. after noting that when a boy he vigorously washed and readied for church, Dickens writes that he was then "carried off highly charged with saponaceous electricity, to be steamed like a potato in the unventilated breath of the powerful Boanerges Boiler and his congregation, until what small mind I had, was quite steamed out of me". I supplant the original starting point of the Terrible State
of The Roads with this observation on drugs in this country.
I do not think we need to have many and varied surveys and studies
pointing out to us in their ever infinite wisdom, that after three
years research, that drugs actually fuel the rise in crime,
especially burglaries, and car thefts. It does not take
a genius to work out that if you have a sixty pound a day habit
and no job, then you steal to fund the habit. Apparently this
has had to be proved. Given that is the case, it is no use expecting
it to be confined to certain areas and certain types of people.
THIS MEANS YOU. Eventually it will spread its net wider and ever
wider, as after some while there is only so much in an area that
CAN be stolen and sold on. It will get to us all, and neighbourhoods
at present deemed Quiet or trouble free will soon change.
To me that is obvious, perhaps less obvious is why are youngsters
for increasingly large percentages of their own generations using

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