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fire, and only be the droller for the accident;
where babies may be knocked about and sat
upon, or choked with gravy spoons, in the
process of feeding, and yet no Coroner be
wanted, nor anybody made uncomfortable;
where workmen may fall from the top of a
house to the bottom, or even from, the bottom
of a house to the top, and sustain no injury
to the brain, need no hospital, leave no
young children; where every one, in short,
is so superior to all the accidents of life,
though encountering them at every turn, that
I suspect this to be the secret (though many
persons may not present it to themselves) of
the general enjoyment which an audience of
vulnerable spectators, liable to pain and sorrow,
find in this class of entertainment.

Not long before the Christmas Night in
question, I had been told of a patient in Saint
Luke's, a woman of great strength and
energy, who had been driven mad by an
infuriated ox in the streetsan inconvenience not
in itself worth mentioning, for which the
inhabitants of London are frequently indebted
to their inestimable Corporation. She seized
the creature literally by the horns, and so,
as long as limb and life were in peril,
vigorously held him; but, the danger over, she
lost her senses, and became one of the most
ungovernable of the inmates of the asylum.
Why was I there to see this poor creature,
when I might have seen a Pantomimic woman
gored to any extent by a Pantomimic ox, at
any height of ferocity, and have gone home to
bed with the comforting assurance that she
had rather enjoyed it than otherwise?

The reason of my choice was this.  I had
received a notification that on that night there
would be, in Saint Luke's, " a Christmas Tree
for the Patients." And further, that the
"usual fortnightly dancing " would take
place before the distribution of the gifts upon
the tree. So there I was, in the street, looking
about for a knocker and finding none.

There was a line of hackney cabriolets by
the dead wall; some of the drivers, asleep;
some, vigilant; some, with their legs not
inexpressive of " Boxing," sticking out of the
open doors of their vehicles, while their
bodies were reposing on the straw within.
There were flaming gas-lights, oranges,
oysters, paper lanterns, butchers and grocers,
bakers and public-houses, over the way;
there were omnibuses rattling by; there were
ballad-singers, street cries, street passengers,
street beggars, and street music; there were
cheap theatres within call, which you would
do better to be at some pains to improve, my
worthy friends, than to shut upfor, if you
will not have them with your own consent
at their best, you may be sure that you must
have them, without it, at their worst; there
were wretched little chapels too, where the
officiating prophets certainly were not
inspired with grammar; there were homes,
great and small, by the hundred thousand,
east, west, north, and south; all the busy
ripple of sane life (or of life, as sane as it
ever is) came murmuring on from far away,
and broke against the blank walls of the
Madhouse, like a sea upon a desert shore.

Abandoning further search for the
non-existent knocker, I discovered and rang the
bell, and gained admission into Saint Luke's
through a stone courtyard and a hall, adorned
with wreaths of holly and like seasonable
garniture. I felt disposed to wonder how it
looked to patients when they were first
received, and whether they distorted it to their
own wild fancies, or left it a matter of fact.
But, as there was time for a walk through
the building before the festivities began, I
discarded idle speculation and followed my
leader.

Into a long, long gallery: on one side, a few
windows; on the other, a great many doors
leading to sleeping cells. Dead silence  —not
utter solitude; for, outside the iron cage
enclosing the fire-place between two of the
windows, stood a motionless woman. The fire cast
a red glare upon the walls, upon the ceiling,
and upon the floor, polished by the daily friction
of many feet. At the end of the
gallery, the common sitting-room. Seated
on benches around another caged fire-place,
several women: all silent, except one. She,
sewing a mad sort of seam, and scolding
some imaginary person. (Taciturnity is a
symptom of nearly every kind of mania, unless
under pressure of excitement. Although the
whole lives of some patients are passed
together in the same apartment, they are passed
in solitude; there is no solitude more
complete.) Forms and tables, the only furniture.
Nothing in the rooms to remind their
inmates of the world outside. No domestic
articles to occupy, to interest, or to entice the
mind away from its malady. Utter vacuity.
Except the scolding woman sewing a
purposeless seam, every patient in the room either
silently looking at the fire, or silently looking
on the groundor rather through the ground,
and at Heaven knows what, beyond.

It was a relief to come to a work-room;
with coloured prints over the mantel-shelf,
and china shepherdesses upon it; furnished
also with tables, a carpet, stuffed chairs.
and an open fire. I observed a great difference
between the demeanour of the occupants
of this apartment and that of the inmates of
the other room. They were neither so listless
nor .so sad. Although they did not, while I
was present, speak much, they worked with
earnestness and diligence. A few noticed my
going away, and returned my parting salutation.
In a nichenot in a roombut at
one end of a cheerless gallerystood a piano-
forte, with a few ragged music-leaves upon
the desk. Of course, the music was turned
upside down.

Several such galleries on the " female
side;" all exactly alike. One, set apart for
"boarders " who are incurable; and, towards
whose maintenance their friends are required

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