To write a good asylum report appears to be a really difficult task for the average superintendent. It should not be so. He is favoured by his brother superintendents in this and other countries with their efforts in the same line, and if he has not the literary qualifications to write a neat, concise and grammatical report, he might obtain useful hints from them. The old-fashioned report was in many cases a most able essay, but perhaps wasted or nearly so, as reports once read are apt to be forgotten, and the facts and observations, often of great value, are unavailable for the instruction of a rising generation. If essays on asylum management, or records of interesting cases, are of transient value when they appear in an annual report, they can be published in our own or some other medical journal, where they will be available for reference when the present generation of asylum superintendents has disappeared. Whilst we are against the too elaborate essay of former days, we are more hostile to some of the crude productions of the present time. When the Visitors have read a few bald sentences containing nothing beyond what any intelligent person can understand by a cursory perusal of the statistical tables, these gentlemen are apt to conclude that their medical officer can write no better than a schoolboy, or that he considers it not worth his while to exert himself—either conclusion being most damaging to his position and reputation. What is worth doing is worth doing well; and any trouble taken in the production of a readable and instructive report, is well spent and is amply repaid by the approval of those to whom it is addressed. A neatly turned sentence has sometimes secured a good friend.
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