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WALTER WILES In March last a letter was received from the clerk to the guardians of the parish of St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, stating that Walter Wiles, aged 10, had been admitted to the parish infirmary on March 12th, suffering from unsound mind, alleged to have been caused by excessive work or punishment at school. Statements made by the boy's mother and by the medical officer were enclosed. The mother stated that about the end of November the boy played truant; that he shortly afterwards had a fit, and on coming to himself rambled in his mind about his lessons; that he remained at home under medical care until March 12, when he was taken to the infirmary; that his elder brother saw a pupil teacher strike him on the head, and that previous to his being struck he had had no fits. The medical officer stated that he had questioned the boy in his calmer moments as the cause of his playing truant, when he gave as his reason that he had been thrashed for not doing his sums, which made him afraid to go to school. No mention was made in either statement that the child had suffered from scarlet fever. The Department communicated with the School Board (whose attention had also been directed to the case), and the matter was fully investigated by a committee appointed by the Board.
At the inquiry the following facts were ascertained:-
The first symptoms appeared on a Wednesday, the next day the boy had convulsions, and on the Friday the rash of scarlet fever appeared. The fever progressed favourably, and the child was allowed to get up during the next week, and on the Monday following was allowed to go and play in the garden, at a much earlier period than any medical man would have allowed a scarlet fever patient to be exposed to the open air in winter. As a consequence the child caught cold, and dropsy supervened, a token in such case of the suppression of the secretions of the kidneys, the common results of which are delirium and convulsions. These occurred in the present case, and culminated in temporary insanity. Having regard to the above facts, the committee came to a conclusion that, beyond all reasonable doubt, the boy's insanity was the result of scarlet fever, followed by chill and blood poisoning. They further found that there was not sufficient evidence to prove the the child had been struck on the head, but that in any case the insanity was due, not to any blow, but the causes above indicated.