Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tuke, Daniel Hack

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

TUKE, DANIEL HACK (1827–1895), physician, born at York on 19 April 1827, was youngest son of Samuel Tuke [q. v.] and Priscilla Hack of Chichester. James Hack Tuke [q. v.] was his elder brother. His twin-brother died on the day he was born. Tuke's delicacy of constitution retarded his education. Although he gave evidence of scholarly and literary habits, he does not seem to have owed much to his teachers. He learned to read and write English well, but acquired little Latin and less Greek. About the beginning of 1845 he was articled to a solicitor at Bradford, but, finding himself in uncongenial surroundings and in impaired health, he retired from the law in order to devote himself to the study of philosophy and poetry. His first publication was an essay on capital punishment, in which he urged the abolition of the extreme penalty of the law; but in later life this opinion on this point was modified. He experienced as a young man religious difficulties in connection with the progress of geological science; but, while he continued to the end of his life profoundly religious, he was naturally averse from all dogmatic statements, and tried every assertion in the light of his critical judgment.

In 1847 Tuke entered the service of the York Retreat, an institution which owed much to his family. He devoted his spare time to the study of the patients under his care during two years' residence among them, and he studied the literature of insanity. In 1850 he entered as a student at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, and gained several prizes. Two years later he became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, and in 1853 obtained the degree of M.D. of the university of Heidelberg. Next year he gained the prize offered by the Association for Improving the Condition of the Insane for an essay published in 1854 ' On the Progressive Changes in the Moral Management of the Insane.' This in some measure followed up his father's book on the 'Retreat,' and struck the keynote of his subsequent literary work. In 1858, with (Sir) J. C. Bucknill, he produced a classical work entitled 'A Manual of Psychological Medicine,' which kept its place for many years as a standard treatise (other editions followed in 1862, 1874, and 1879). In the first half of the volume on lunacy law, classification, causation, and the various forms of insanity Tuke showed that a new era had begun in the scientific study of insanity. After his marriage in the autumn of 1853 Tuke set out on the first of many continental tours. He continued to visit foreign asylums and to record his observations until the end of his life. On returning to York from his first tour, he entered on the practice of his profession, and became visiting physician to the Retreat and to the York Dispensary, while he lectured on mental diseases at the York School of Medicine. But in 1859 acute symptoms of pulmonary phthisis declared themselves, and Tuke soon retired to Falmouth, where he resided for a period of fifteen years. In 1875 his health permitted of his entering on practice as a consulting physician in mental diseases in London, where he remained to the end. He also served the university of London as examiner in mental philosophy, was governor of Bethlehem Royal Hospital, lecturer on mental diseases in Charing Cross Hospital, and one of the founders of the After-care Association, which takes charge of the poorer class of convalescents from insanity. In 1880 he became joint editor of the 'Journal of Mental Science.' To that journal, to 'Brain,' and to other periodicals he contributed many papers. His services were recognised by his colleagues by his appointment to the presidential chair of the Medico-Psychological Association in 1881, while the university of Glasgow conferred on him the degree of LL.D. in 1883. One of the chief results of Tuke's prolonged investigation into the condition of the insane in foreign countries was a book on the insane in the United States and Canada, which appeared in 1885. His visit to Canada called forth a strong remonstrance against the methods of treatment in vogue in certain asylums of the province of Quebec, and vast improvements followed. Tuke died on 5 March 1895, after a very brief illness ushered in by apoplexy, and was buried in the Friends' ground at Saffron Walden. He married, on 10 Aug. 1853, Esther Maria Stickney of Ridgmont, Holderness, Yorkshire. Mr. H. S. Tuke, A.R.A., is his son.

Tuke was a prolific and suggestive writer, and was encyclopædic in his knowledge of lunacy. Besides those already mentioned, his chief works were: 1. ‘Illustrations of the Influence of the Mind on the Body,’ 1872 (2nd edit. 1884, and French translation 1886). 2. ‘Insanity in Ancient and Modern Life, with chapters on Prevention,’ 1878. 3. ‘History of the Insane in the British Isles,’ 1882, which was the outcome of long and exhaustive study. 4. ‘Sleep-walking and Hypnotism,’ 1884. 5. ‘Past and Present Provision for the Insane Poor in Yorkshire,’ 1889. 6. ‘Prichard and Symonds in especial relation to Mental Disease, with a Chapter on Moral Insanity,’ 1891. 7. ‘Dictionary of Psychological Medicine,’ 1892, which summarises our knowledge of insanity in its varied forms, and is the authoritative English work on the subject at the present time.

A portrait appeared in the ‘Journal of Mental Science,’ 1895.

[Obituary notice in Journal of Mental Science by Dr. W. W. Ireland, 1895; personal knowledge.]

A. R. U.