[Charles Arthur Mercier, forensic psychiatrist.] Two Autograph Letters Signed to psychiatrist Bedford Pierce, regarding: the 'spook business', Sir Victor Horsley and 'forcible feeding', punctuation, the 'hopeless' case of 'Jackson'.

Charles Arthur Mercier (1851-1919), pioneer in the field of forensic psychiatry and debunker of spiritualism, President of Medico-Psychological Association [Bedford Pierce (1861-1932), psychiatrist]
Publication details: 
Both on letterheads of The Flower House, Southend, Catford, S.E. [London]. 23 July 1906 and 28 December 1909.
SKU: 21771

Both letters are signed 'Chas. Mercier'. ONE 23 July 1906. 2pp, 12mo. Bifolium with mourning border. In good condition, lightly aged, with thin strip of paper adhering to the blank second leaf. The letter, which is written in a playful tone, begins: 'My dear Bedford Pearce [sic] | Blamed if I do? I am not so ignorant of the Canonical Books as to confuse Prov: 26. 4 with 26. 5. Your offence, which cries aloud to heaven, is the omission of a comma! A quotation should follow the original verbatim et literatim [sic] et punctuatim, and a stop is an integral part of the text. | Mercier, says Bedford Pearce, ought to apologise. | Mercier says Bedford Pearce ought to apologise.' He asks if stops are 'of no importance', and whether one can 'omit with impunity the harmless necessary comma'. He informs Pierce that 'Jackson is a very clever dialectician', and that 'talking to him is no good, or I should have converted him long ago to see the error of his ways'. He concludes: 'His people are very nice. His case of course is quite hopeless.' TWO: 28 December 1909. 4pp, 12mo. Bifolium with mourning border. In good condition, lightly aged. 'All this spook business is outside of my interest.' He describes his 'one attitude towards it', with reference to 'the Spookers' and 'the works of Maskeleyne'. He agrees with 'Clifford Allbutt' (i.e. Sir Thomas Clifford Allbutt (1836-1925), Commissioner for Lunacy, in considering writing 'the supreme art. You should get his book, […] It is a great help, but the only way to write is incessant and careful practice, and everlasting revision'. He has written his 'book on Logic already about 7 times', and is 'now again beginning Chapter II, and of course all succeeding Chapters must be once more written. But of course the subject is one of exceptional difficulty, and the book, if ever it is published ['A New Logic' was published in 1912], will be monumental. It will revolutionise that Science at any rate'. He turns to 'the [?] on Forcible Feeding in the Times. Victor Horseley [sic, for Sir Victor Horsley (1857-1916), supporter of women's suffrage] is such a bully, so [?] & so unscrupulous, that he has positively terrorised the medical profession, and much as he is detested no one dares tackle him. The Editors of both Lancet & B[ritish]. M[edical]. J[ournal]. refused point blank to insert letters attacking him, but I have overcome the scruples of the former at last'. From the distinguished autograph collection of the psychiatrist Richard Alfred Hunter (1923-1981), whose collection of 7000 works relating to psychiatry is now in Cambridge University Library. Hunter and his mother Ida Macalpine had a particular interest in the illness of King George III, and their book 'George III and the Mad Business' (1969) suggested the diagnosis of porphyria popularised by Alan Bennett in his play 'The Madness of George III'.