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A CURIOUS DANCE ROUND A CURIOUS TREE.

On the 13th day of January, 1750when
the corn that grew near Moorfields was ground
on the top of Windmill Hill, "Fensbury;"
when Bethlehem Hospital was "a dry walk for
loiterers," and a show, when lunatics were
chained, naked, in rows of cages that flanked
a promenade, and were wondered and jeered
at through iron bars by London loungers
Sir Thomas Ladbroke the banker, Bonnel
Thornton the wit, and half-a-dozen other
gentlemen, met together to found a new
asylum for the insane. Towards this object
they put down, before separating, one guinea
each. In a year from that time the windmill
had been given to the winds and on its ancient
site, there stood a hospital for the gratuitous
treatment of the insane poor..

With the benevolence which thus originated
an additional madhouse, was mixed, as was
usual in that age, a curious degree of
unconscious cruelty. Coercion for the outward
man, and rabid physicking for the inward
man, were then the specifics for lunacy.
Chains, straw, filthy solitude, darkness, and
starvation; jalap, syrup of buckthorn, tartarised
antimony, and ipecacuanha administered
every spring and fall in fabulous doses to every
patient, whether well or ill; spinning in whirligigs,
corporal punishment, gagging, "continued
intoxication;" nothing was too wildly
extravagant, nothing too monstrously cruel
to be prescribed by mad-doctors. It was their
monomania; and, under their influence, the
directors of Lunatic Asylums acted.  In other
respects these physicians were grave men, of
mild dispositions, andin their ample-flapped,
ample-cuffed coats, with a certain gravity and
air of state in the skirts; with their large buttons
and gold-headed canes, their hair-powder
and ruffleswere men of benevolent aspects.
Imagine one of them turning back his lace
and tightening his wig to supply a maniac
who would keep his mouth shut, with food or
physic. He employed a flat oval ring, with a
handle to it. "The head being placed between
the knees of the operator, the patient, blinded
and properly secured, an opportunity is
watched. When he opens his mouth to speak,
the instrument is thrust in and allows the
food or medicine to be introduced without
difficulty. A sternutatory of any kind" (say a
pepper-castor of cayenne, or half an ounce of
rappee) "always forces the mouth open, in
spite of the patient's determination to keep it
shut." " In cases of great fury and violence,"
says the amiable practitioner from whom I
quote, "the patient should be kept in a
dark room, confined by one leg, with metallic
manacles on the wrist; the skin being less
liable to be injured," — here the Good Doctor
becomes especially considerate and mild,—
the skin being less liable to be injured by the
friction of polished metal than by that of
linen or cotton."

These practitioners of old, would seem to
have been, without knowing it, early
homœopathists; their motto must have been, Similia
similibus curantur; they believed that the
most violent and certain means of driving a
man mad, were the only hopeful means of
restoring him to reason. The inside of the new
hospital, therefore, even when, in 1782, it was
removed, under the name of "Saint Luke's,"
from Windmill Hill to its present site in the
Old Street Road, must have appeared, to the
least irrational new patient, like a collection
of chambers of horrors. What sane person
indeed, seeing, on his entrance into any place,
gyves and manacles (however highly polished)
yawning for his ankles and wrists; swings
dangling in the air, to spin him round like an
impaled cockchafer; gags and strait-waistcoats
ready at a moment's notice to muzzle
and bind him; would be likely to retain the
perfect command of his senses? Even now,
an outside view of Saint Luke's Hospital is
gloomy enough; and, when on that cold, misty,
cheerless afternoon which followed Christmas
Day, I looked up at the high walls, and saw,
grimly peering over them, its upper stories
and dismal little iron-bound windows, I did
not ring the porter's bell (albeit I was only
a visitor, and free to go, if I would, without
ringing it at all) in the most cheerful frame
of mind.

How came I, it may be asked, on the day
after Christmas Day, of all days in the year,
to be hovering outside Saint Luke's, after
dark, when I might have betaken myself to
that jocund world of Pantomime, where there
is no affliction or calamity that leaves the
least impression; where a man may tumble
into the broken ice, or dive into the kitchen

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