1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Humane Society, Royal

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HUMANE SOCIETY, ROYAL. This society was founded in England in 1774 for the purpose of rendering “first aid” in cases of drowning and for restoring life by artificial means to those apparently drowned. Dr William Hawes (1736–1808), an English physician, became known in 1773 for his efforts to convince the public that persons apparently dead from drowning might in many cases be resuscitated by artificial means. For a year he paid a reward out of his own pocket to any one bringing him a body rescued from the water within a reasonable time of immersion. Dr Thomas Cogan (1736–1818), another English physician, who had become interested in the same subject during a stay at Amsterdam, where was instituted in 1767 a society for preservation of life from accidents in water, joined Hawes in his crusade. In the summer of 1774 each of them brought fifteen friends to a meeting at the Chapter Coffee-house, St Paul’s Churchyard, when the Royal Humane Society was founded. The society, the chief offices of which are at 4 Trafalgar Square, London, has upwards of 280 depôts throughout the kingdom, supplied with life-saving apparatus. The chief and earliest of these depôts is the Receiving House in Hyde Park, on the north bank of the Serpentine, which was built in 1794 on a site granted by George III. Boats and boatmen are kept to render aid to bathers, and in the winter ice-men are sent round to the different skating grounds in and around London. The society distributes money-rewards, medals, clasps and testimonials, to those who save or attempt to save drowning people. It further recognizes “all cases of exceptional bravery in rescuing or attempting to rescue persons from asphyxia in mines, wells, blasting furnaces, or in sewers where foul gas may endanger life.” It further awards prizes for swimming to public schools and training ships. Since 1873 the Stanhope gold medal has been awarded “to the case exhibiting the greatest gallantry during the year.” During the year 1905 873 persons were rewarded for saving or attempting to save 947 lives from drowning. The society is maintained by private subscriptions and bequests. Its motto is Lateat scintillula forsan, “a small spark may perhaps lie hid.” (See also Drowning and Life-Saving.)