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make known the feelings of his heart to Mr. Milner ; but, from the want of a proper introduction to him, his desire was never granted. He was probably restrained by the timidity of early youth ; and thus suffered a “ fair occasion” to glide away unimproved, if not “unheeded.” He was surrounded by gay and worldly companions ; his serious impressions gradually declined ; and he again sought happiness in the dissipated society and vain amusements of the age. So entirely did he throw off the restraints of religion, that, for seven successive years, he never entered a place of worship!
During this period his father died; when it appeared that, from an excessive love of building, and making improvements, he had expended nearly all his property. He left behind him only just enough to discharge his debts; and he had also previously cut off the entail to estates which would otherwise have descended, by inheritance, to his eldest son. The consequence of this imprudence was, that the mother, sister, and brother of William were left unprovided for and destitute. He was, at that time, only twenty years of age ; but, with his characteristic affection and promptitude, he at once obtained a home for his mother and sister; and, with the aid of a loan from a generous friend, was not only enabled to complete his own medical studies, and to become a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, but also to fit out his only brother as a Surgeon for India. These facts disclose the noble disposition which he maintained, even before he was brought under the influence of personal religion ; for he was then living without a right sense and acknowledgment of God. But all selfish feeling yielded to the affection of the son and the brother. To make those happy who were allied to him by consanguinity, or relationship, was with him a leading object through life. His mother, who lived thirteen years after the death of his father, said, that he was almost more than a husband to her, every want being most delicately supplied, and every comfort provided.
He commenced practice in his profession at Hull, in the year 1802. Two years afterwards, he became acquainted with Miss Wood, of Louth, in Lincolnshire, who was then at Hull, on a visit. The acquaintance soon ripened into mutual affection. For a time the friends of both parties entertained doubts, arising from pecuniary considerations, as to the prudence of the union. But his natural ardour overcame all difficulties; and, in the February of 1806, he was joined in marriage, with the full concurrence of all concerned in the matter, to the object of his affection and choice. The result of this marriage was most happy. His conjugal regard for the companion of his joys and sorrows knew no change, save that of increase, until the day of his death,-a period of nearly thirty-four years.
The first Sunday after his marriage, as a mere matter of form, he went to church, where he heard a sermon from the Rev. Thomas Dykes, which revived all the emotions he had experienced while
attending the public ministrations of Mr. Milner. On quitting the church, he very emphatically said to his wife, “If this man is right, I am quite sure we are wrong.” But the remark was turned off, and the subject dismissed for one more congenial. The first two years after his marriage were spent among the gayest of the gay. He enjoyed, in his immediate domestic circle, an abundant measure of temporal happiness, and seemed entirely diverted from serious thought. But it pleased God to teach him, that here we are not to expect rest. A cold caught about this time, in bathing, laid the foundation of a protracted affliction, which for ten years threatened his life. Acute bodily suffering, a harassing laborious profession, and limited finances, were graciously used as means to awaken reflection, and prepare his heart for the reception of religious impressions.
In the order of divine Providence, he became acquainted with some members of the Methodist society, through whom he was prevailed upon to attend the George-Yard chapel, in Ilull. The first Preacher whom he heard there was the Rev. Joseph Bradford ; and from his hands he received his first society-ticket, in the year 1808. From that time, to his death, he continued a steady, consistent, and attached member of the Wesleyan body. Here it was that, under a deep conviction of his guilt and danger as a sinner, he sought redemption in the blood of Christ; and, being brought as a penitent to the foot of the cross, could find no rest until he obtained the gift of divine mercy in the forgiveness of sins. He soon received a clear testimony of his acceptance with God. As he was riding one day to Holderness, in the discharge of his professional duties, that promise was forcibly applied to his mind: “Thou art my servant: I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." He was immediately encouraged, by this good word, to cast himself upon the truth and faithfulness of God. IIe believed; and found rest and peace. It is not surprising, that the holy text by which the Lord guided him to the source of all comfort, was a great solace and support to him in his future days.
Though he was now in the midst of suffering, and was labouring under circumstances that might have overwhelmed most men ; yet his buoyant spirits, his happy home, and, above all, his filial and habitual trust in God, assisted him to rise above his difficulties, and to impart to all around him a share of the happiness which he himself enjoyed. The disease to which he was subject was of such a nature, as frequently to threaten his life ; but his faith never failed. During one of his attacks, he told his wife, that the complaint had taken a peculiar turn, which, as he knew, indicated the immediate approach of death. The kind friend and Physician, who was instantly sent for, at once pronounced the case to be hopeless. The spirit of his wife
seemed to die within her, and she sank almost lifeless on the bed. Although he fully believed that he was on the very confines of eternity, he seemed to forget himself, while he imparted counsel, encouragement, and comfort to her, and dwelt on the joys of a re-union in the paradise of God. But his heavenly Father had other designs in view for him; and that life which was destined to be so public a blessing, was mercifully spared. In the course of a few hours, he had a gracious manifestation of the presence and favour of God, accompanied with a strong confidence that he should be rescued from that death, and restored. Contrary to all human expectation, the disease seemed suddenly to leave him ; and, on the next visit, his Physician was enabled to pronounce him out of danger. It cannot be doubted that, in the hands of God, his extraordinary spirits and wonderful resolution, under the severest suffering, were efficacious means in the promotion of this and many other unexpected recoveries.
The air of Hull being considered, by his medical advisers, as detrimental to his health, various projects were suggested for a change of situation, all of which were providentially overruled. Once, accompanied by his beloved wife, he set out for London, intending to pro-ceed to Madeira ; but, his health improving on his arrival in town, he abandoned the project. As this favourable change was not permanent, he shortly afterwards accepted an appointment to India ; and this matter was apparently arranged, when divine Providence again interposed, in a mysterious and, to him, a trying way. He did not then know the great work which lay before him, in his future efforts to improve and ameliorate the sad condition of persons afflicted with mental disease,--a branch of the medical profession which, from the commencement of his career, had been his favourite study.
His severe and continued indisposition led him to consider, whether there was not a way in which he might add to his income, independently of his profession. To ascertain this, he was induced to engage in a mercantile concern, which proved unsuccessful, and occasioned the loss of all his property. It was while his path was thus hedged up, and his plans thwarted, that Providence, in a very peculiar manner, opened a way for the exertion of his talents in that part of his profession in which he was subsequently so eminently successful. In the year 1815 he published a Letter, addressed to the late Thomas Thompson, Esq., M. P., containing a plan to remedy many of the abuses which a recent investigation, before the Ilouse of Commons, had shown to exist in the treatment of insane persons. One of the suggestions in this Letter, namely, the provision of a public asylum for insane paupers, was shortly afterwards adopted by the Magistrates for the West Riding of the county of York. Mr. Ellis's affectionate friend, Godfrey Higgins, Esq., who had been mainly instrumental in causing the asylum at Wakefield to be erected, was very desirous, in conjunction with the other Magistrates concerned in that establish
ment, that it should be placed under Mr. Ellis's management. On their unanimous election of him, he consented, after serious deliberation and prayer to God, to become Director and Resident Medical Superintendent of that asylum ; and took his degree of Doctor in Medicine. He left Hull, a place endeared to him by so many religious associations, in the year 1819; and, with his wonted ardour, entered upon the new and important duties which now devolved
him. At this period, in consequence of an advantage taken of an error in a legal instrument, he was again unexpectedly called upon to suffer considerable pecuniary loss. IIis health, also, on his first reaching Wakefield, declined so rapidly, that painful apprehensions were entertained as to his recovery.
A dark cloud seemed to overshadow him. The failure of health and the loss of property, added to the duties of a new and arduous situation, would have daunted many men; but, by God's blessing, his high and noble mind was prepared for every difficulty. He persevered, and prevailed over obstacles which appeared almost insurmountable.
While he resided at Wakefield, he was honoured with the esteem and kindness of many valued friends. He had, however, not a few unpleasant things to endure ; but his confidence in God remained unshaken, and his mind was kept in peace.
In addition to the difficulties necessarily incident to the sphere in which Providence had placed him, he was exposed to much painful opposition, by his enlightened and benevolent views on the right mode of treating persons who laboured under mental disorder. Ile was deeply sensible that, although the unhappy patients among whom he resided were dependent for their support on parochial relief, and were deprived of that most inestimable blessing, soundness of mind, yet each one was a man and a brother; and that, however sunk and lost, he was entitled to the most diligent efforts of professional skill, in order to his recovery; or, where that was hopeless, for the alleviation of his sufferings. To treat the insane, as far as possible, as rational and immortal beings, capable, for the most pa
of religious instruction; never to use or continue restraint, except for the purpose of preventing the patients from injuring themselves, or those around them; to withdraw them from morbid abstraction, by constant and varied employment: these were methods which, though opposed to the views even of many professional men at that time, he deemed essential to the welfare of those confided to his care, and which he therefore conscientiously and unflinchingly observed.
Some of the difficulties with which he had to contend are thus adverted to by himself, in his Treatise on Insanity: “When the system was commenced by myself and my wife, on the opening of the asylum for the West Riding of Yorkshire, at Wakefield, so great was the prejudice against it, that it was seriously proposed, that no patient should be allowed to work in the grounds outside the wall, without
being chained to a keeper. Another suggestion was, that a corner of the garden should be allotted for their labour, and that they should dig it over and over again all the year round. The kind feeling and good sense of the people in the neighbourhood soon overcame these prejudices; and not only did they witness, with pleasure, the unfortunate patients happily engaged in their work, in the grounds of the institution, but they were delighted to meet them emerging from its bounds, and by a walk in the country, and a little intercourse with their fellow-men, preparing to enter again into society. They felt, too, when bowed before that God in whose sight all men are equal, that no spectacle could be more cheering and appropriate, than to witness the poor lunatic listening with them to those offers of mercy which are peculiarly addressed to the weary and the heavy-laden.” By the goodness of God, many of those who, on Dr. Ellis's first coming to Wakefield, had been his warmest opponents, became, before he left, his attached friends. His views on insanity gradually gained ground; and, before his death, he had the satisfaction of knowing that they were extensively adopted, both at home and abroad.
Soon after his removal to Wakefield, he was appointed to the office of a Class-Leader in the Wesleyan society,—an office which he continued to sustain during the remainder of his life. IIe was exemplary in the discharge of its duties; and was greatly beloved by those who were, in this way, committed to his care. Many living witnesses can bear testimony to the simplicity and fervour which marked his devotions, and to the faithfulness and affection which he uniformly discovered in his counsels. To a stiff and cold formality in these means of grace he greatly objected; and being, from the very constitution of his mind, of a cheerful, happy disposition, he loved to see everything relating to the worship of God adorned with its true character, and divested of that gloom and melancholy with which some good people most injudiciously connect it. His Christian course was indeed a living comment on Solomon's declaration concerning divine Wisdom : ways are ways
of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” It is proper here, also, to mention his anxiety for the spiritual welfare of all who came within the sphere of his influence, and especially of the afflicted inmates of the establishment over which he presided. Every returning morning and evening found him at the head of his large mentally-diseased family, leading their devotions; and, in fact, making the house, where manifold sorrows seemed to dwell, “a house of prayer.” In how many cases his kind and affectionate counsel has been mercifully employed, as a means of the spiritual salvation, as well as the mental and bodily cure, of his suffering charge, the day which discloses all secrets will alone reveal. He delighted to guide the sad and sin-sick soul to that most compassionate Saviour who has said, “ Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” It was his firm opinion, and one on which he always acted, that religious instruction,