페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

Beau Brummels are not to be found in the society of princes and nobles alone. They vie with each other in their deportment, which is marked by extreme courtesy and respect. The evening is passed with additional pleasure when the musical programme is varied by the performance of a Virginia reel, a cotillion or waltz. There are two pianos furnished for their use, at one of which a female patient was practicing at the time of our visit.

Our impressions were very favorable in regard to the general treatment pursued, the kindness of the attendants, and we were not a little astonished at the liberty enjoyed by the inmates. There is perhaps no large asylum in the world in which there is so much freedom from restraint as is to be found on Blackwell's Island. An impartial description, however, requires a notice of the defects as well as of the excellences of the Institution. The principal arc its overcrowded state, and a want of sufficient land for agricultural and horticultural purposes. All physicians who have made the subject of insanity a specialty, concur in the opinion that farm labor is not only of great service as a remedial measure in the restoration of the reason, but that it is in many cases absolutely indispensable. There arc but few of the insane who refuse to work, and many who are apt to complain of want of occupation. One of the greatest arguments that can be urged in favor of the employment of the insane is, that it relieves the mind from the hallucinations which are generally fostered by a state of idleness. While engaged at work their delusions and fancied wrongs are forgotten for the time being, and much is thus effected in the removal of one of the most prominent causes of the disease. In addition to this, the system is strengthened by manual labor, and the superabundance of vis nervosa is expended on the muscles instead of on the brain. It is only necessary to state, as a proof of the beneficial consequences resulting from this treatment, that it has in numerous instances .been attended with the complete restoration of all the mental faculties. When the overcrowded state of the Asylum on Blackwell's Island is considered, it is surprising that the Governors of the Alms-house have not taken the necessary steps to procure a farm near the city, on which the male patients could be employed. The present condition of the building, which contains one hundred and fifty more patients than any similar institution in the country, proves the necessity for this. Insanity is rapidly on the increase, and ere long the city of New York will require as extensive accommodations for this afflicted class of the community as arc afforded by the two celebrated institutions for the insane in France, the Salpetriere and the Bicetre, the former for females and the latter for males.

The actual existence of a village of lunatics has for many years afforded convincing proof of the benefits of farm labor. The manner in which this institution was founded possesses more than ordinary interest even for those who are not in any

way concerned in the treatment of the insane. The first attempt ever made to change the harsh, and sometimes cruel treatment to which lunatics were subjected was in the year 1792, during the French Revolution. M. Pinel, who was physician to the lunatic asylum in Paris known as the Bicetre, removed the chains from a great number of its inmates. The result which attended his first efforts proved the truth of the views he had entertained as to the efficiency of kindness in the treatment of the insane. He was also convinced that insanity proceeded from nearly the same causes as other diseases. The popular opinion that it was produced by spiritual agencies, was at once rejected by him, as well as the equally absurd belief that the moon was possessed of power to induce it. The name "lunacy," which arose from this foolish notion, is therefore wholly inappropriate.

It is impossible to form a just idea of the great reform produced by Pinel in this department of medical science, except by a comparison of the former condition of the insane with the treatment which at present prevails in lunatic asylums. The frightful prison of the Bicetre furnishes the best evidence of the great change which has been effected in this particular, though it is doubtful whether it was worse than the great English asylum so well known by the singular title of " Bedlam." In the Bicetre the general practice was to load the patients with heavy chains, which remained on during their whole lifetime, and to immure them in dark, unwarmed, unventilated cells. In the year 1792, Pinel, after having frequently urged the French government to allow him to unchain the maniacs at the Bicetre in vain, went himself to the authorities, and with much earnestness and warmth advocated the removal of this monstrous abuse. Couthon, a member of the Commune, yielded to Pinel's arguments, and agreed to meet him at the Bicetre. On his arrival, he interrogated those who were chained, but the abuse he received, and the confused sounds, cries, and vociferations, the clanking of chains, and the filthy, damp cells in which they were lodged, at the same time that it shocked his feelings, made him recoil from Pinel's benevolent proposition to release them.

"You may do what you will with them, however," said he, "but I fear you will become their victim." With this permission Pinel instantly commenced his undertaking. There were about fifty who he considered might, without danger to the others, be unchained; and he began by releasing twelve, with the sole precaution of having previously prepared the same number of strait waistcoats, with long sleeves, which could be tied behind the back if necessary. The first man on whom the experiment was to be tried was an English captain, whose history no one knew, as he had been in chains forty years. He was thought to be one of the most furious among them, and his keepers approached him with caution, as he had in a fit of fury killed one of them upon the spot with a blow of his manacles. He was chained more rigorously than any of the others. Pinel entered his coll unattended, and calmly said to him,

"Captain, I will order your chains to be taken off, and give you liberty to walk in the court, if you will promise me to behave well, and injure no one."

"Yes, I promise you," said the maniac; "but you aro laughing at me—you are all too much afraid of me."

"I have six men," Pincl answered, "ready to enforce my commands, if necessary. Believe me, then, on my word, I will give you your liberty if you will put on this waistcoat."

He submitted to this willingly, without a word; his chains were removed, and the keepers retired, leaving the door of his cell open. He raised himself many times from the seat, but fell back again, for be had been in a sitting posture so long that he had for the time lost the use of his legs. In a quarter of an hour, however, he succeeded in maintaining his balance, and with tottering steps came to the door of his miserable abode. His first look was at the sky, and he cried out enthusiastically, " How beautiful!" During the rest of the day he was constantly in motion, walking up and down the staircases, and uttering exclamations of delight. In the evening he retired of his own accord to his cell, where a better bed than he had been accustometl to was prepared for him, and he slept tranquilly. During the two succeeding years which he spent at the Bicetre he had no return of his previous paroxysms, but even rendered himself useful, by exercising a kind of authority over the insane patients, whom he ruled after his own fashion.

The earliest account we have of madhouses is in the twelfth century. At this time there was one at Bagdad, called " Dar al Maraphtan," which literally means the abode of those who require to be chained. The oldest asylum in England is the noted Bedlam, which was first occupied by the insane in 1517, it having been used three hundred years previously as a monastery. Since that time it has been twice rebuilt. Many of the asylums now in use in Europe were at first erected for churches or monasteries, but the reforms which have since taken place in the treatment of the insane, have led to corresponding changes in the structure of the buildings. In our own country there are at present about forty asylums for the insane, the majority of which are in the Northern States. In all of these institutions the treatment is of the most humane and successful character. The large number of cures which have been produced by the form of (reatment at present pursued by the respective superintendents constitute a much greater percentage on the admissions than is generally supposed, ranging from thirty to sixty, as the cases may be of recent or of longer duration. The number of patients admitted to the Asylum on Blackwell's Island during the last seven years was 3160, of which 2381 were foreigners, and 779 natives. The whole institution is under the care of Dr. M. H. Ranney, whose treatment of the insane lias been attended with the most marked success.

FAITHFUL MARGARET.

THE moonlight was lying broad and calm on the mountains and the lake, silvering the fir trees massed against the sky, and quivering through the leaves of the birch and the ash, as they trembled in the light air which could not move the heavy horse-chestnut growing by them. The call of the corncraik from the meadow, and the far-off barking of a sheep-dog on the fells, were the only sounds that broke through the evening stillness; except whenever now and then the plash of oars in the lake, and the subdued voices' of men and women gliding by, recalled to the listeners standing on the baleony, that other hearts were worshiping with them before the holy shrine of nature.

They had been on the baleony for a long time, looking out on the scene before them; Horace resting against the pillar, and Margaret standing near him. A curtain of creeping plants hung far down, and their leaves threw Horace into deep shadow; but the moonlight fell full and bright over the woman by his side; yet not to show any thing that art or fancy could call lovely. A grave and careworn face, with nothing but a pair of dark eyes lying beneath the shadow of a broad brow, and a mass of raven hair resting heavy on her cheek, to redeem it from absolute ugliness; a tall lean figure, not even graceful in its movements, nor fine in its proport ions; and hands with fingers so long and thin they were almost transparent— ill-formed, and ungainly too ; a mode of dress that was not picturesque, and most certainly was not fashionable, scanty, black, and untrimmed—all this made up an exterior which the most facile admiration could not admire. And few in the passing world care to discover the spiritual beauty which an outward form of unloveliness may hide.

No, Margaret stood in the moonlight by the side of an artist of high poetic temperament—a man who lived in the sunniest places of human happiness—a woman shut out from all the beauty of life; a woman who had never been fair, and who was now no longer young, to whom hope and love are impossible; the handmaid only to another's happiness, mistress of none herself. Was she thinking of the difference between herself and the stars as she looked at them shedding light on the black rocks and the barren fells? Was she measuring the distance between her and her fate, her desires and her possessions, as she watched the waves striving to reach the soft cool moss upon tho bank, to be thrust back by shingles and the stones 1 Or was she dreaming of a possible future, when the rocks should be beautiful with flowers, and the fells golden with furze, and when the waves would have passed that rough bar, and have crept peacefully to the foot of the mossy bank? Was she dreaming of happiness, or was she learning to suffer? Narrowing her heaven to within the compass of the earth, or losing earth in the heaven of nobleness and sacrifice? Who could tell i. Thoughts are but poorly interpreted by eyes, and a sigh gives no more than the indication of a feeling.

"Let us go on the lake, Margaret, and take

Ada with us," said Horace, suddenly rousing himself from his reverie, and leaving the shadow in which he had been standing.

"Yes," said Margaret, in a low voice, and with the start of one awakened out of a sleep in which she had been dreaming pleasantly. "Ada will enjoy that!"

She turned her face to the window where Ada sat, poring over a book of pictures by the lamplight, her little head hidden under its weight of ringlets, like an apple-blossom spray bent down with flowers.

"Child, will you come to Lily Island with Horace and me? " she said, caressingly. "Your vase is empty, and the old enchanters used to say that flowers should be gathered when the moonlight is upon them, if they were to have any spell. And you know you said you wished to enchant Horace. Will you come?"

She smiled and held out her hand caressingly.

The girl flung her book on the floor with a little cry of pleasure. "Oh, that will be delightful!" she exclaimed, clapping her hands. "It was so stupid, Margaret, in here all alone, with nothing but those wearisome old pictures that I have seen hundreds of times before. I was wondering when you and Horace would be tired of talking philosophy together, for you are always wandering away among minds and stars—far out of my depth." Which, perhaps, would not have been difficult to any one who could wade deeper than the hornbook.

All the time Ada was chattering thus, she was gathering up from the sofa her gloves, shawl, and bonnet; losing vast quantities of time in searching behind the pillars for her shawl pin, which she did not find after all. For the sofa was Ada's toilet-table and unfathomable well generally, serving various kinds of duties. "Wo will go, Margaret," she continued, running through the room on to the baleony, her shawl thrown on to her shoulders awry, and holding her straw bonnet by its long blue strings. "Remember, I am to crown you like a naiad, and Horace is to be your triton. Are those words pronounced properly, Horry V And she put her arms round the artist as a child might have done, and looked into his face prettily.

"You are to do just as you like, fairy Ada," said Horace, fondly, patting her round cheek. "You are too childish to contradict, and not wise enough to convince; so you must even be indulged for weakness' sake if not for love." This was to correct his flattery.

But it was not flattery after all; for she was like a fairy, hanging round him and caressing him so childishly; her little feet falling without echo as they glanced restlessly from beneath her wide flounces, and her yellow hair hanging down like golden strands. She was like one of those flowers in fairy books from whose heart flows out an elfin queen; like a poet's vision of a laughing nymph; a wandering peri masked for a while in human features; like a dewdrop sparkling in the sun; a being made up of light, and love, and laughter; so beautiful and innocent that the cold

est cynic must have praised, the sternest stoic must have loved.

"What a child! What a lovely child!" said Horace, half to himself, turning from her and yet still holding her hand against his shoulder. "You are repaid now, Margaret," he added, tenderly, "for your long years of thought and care. Your life is blessed indeed; far more so than many which have more the appearance of fulfillment."

"Yes," said Margaret," raising her dark eyes full into his. "My life is very, very happy now, Horace. Nothing is wanting to it, nothing. A home, a child, a friend; what could I ask of fate that I have not got?"

He looked at her affectionately. "Good, unselfish Margaret!" he said. Boon and blessing to your whole world! Without you, at least two liveswould be incomplete—your sister's and mine. We should be desolate wayfarers, without a guide and without a light, if you were not here. I can not say that you are needful to us, Margaret: yon are much more than needful."

A smile of infinite happiness wandered over Margaret's face as she repeated softly, "Am I then needful to you, Horace V and her eyes lighted up with such love and fervor, that for a moment she was as absolute in youth and beauty as little Ada herself. Even Horace looked at her again, as at a face he did not know; but the smile and the glance faded away as they had come, and the gloom of physical unloveliness clouded over her face thick and dark as ever.

"Margaret is very good; she is true and noble: but she is fearfully plain!" Horace thought to himself. "My father, who was so ford of beauty, would have said she was sinfully ugly. What a pity, with such a fine nature!" And he looked from her to Ada.

Ada was all impatience to set off; and Margaret must go in for her shawl and bonnet without a moment's delay. Smiling at her little sister's impetuous sovereignty, Margaret went into the house, like a patient mother with a favorite child; shaking ber head, though, as she passed the little one, standing there in her woman's beauty and her child's artlessness; and saying, "You are spoilt, my darling," conveyed by look and accent, " I love you better than my own life," instead.

"Come to me, Ada," said Horace, as Margaret went into the house. "Your hair is all in disorder. Careless child! at seventeen you ought still to have a nurse."

"Now leave me alone, Horace, and never mind my hair," said Ada, escaping from him to the other end of the baleony. "You never see me without finding fault with my hair; and I am sure it is not so bad. What is the matter with it!" She shook it all over her face, and took up the ringlets one by one, to examine them; pouting a little, but very lovely still.

Horace was not to be coaxed nor frightened. He caught her in her retreat, and drew her to him. giving her a lecture on neatness that was rather against his instincts. But no matter; it served its purpose. Part of those yellow ringlets had been caught among the blue cornflowers under the bonnet she had perched on the top of her head, and part had been folded in with her awkward shawl. They were all in a terrible condition of ruffle; and Horace made her stand there before him like a child, while he smoothed them back deftly enough, scolding her all the time, but very tenderly. Then, impelled by a sudden impulse, that seemed to overmaster him, he bent down close to her, and whispered something in her ear, so low that the very swallows sleeping under the eaves could not have dreamed they heard its echo; and when he ended he said, " Do you, Ada?" as if his very soul and all his hopes had been centered in her answer.

"Yes—no—ask Margaret," cried Ada, struggling herself free; and then she added with a ringing laugh, " Oh, it is only a jest. You are not serious, Horace?" rushing almost into Margaret's arms as she stepped through the open window.

"What is it all about?" asked Margaret, looking from Ada with her burning cheeks, to Horace, pale and agitated. "Have you been quarreling ever since I left you?"

Neither spoke for a moment; and at last, Horace said with a visible effort: "I will speak to you alone of this, Margaret. You alone can decide it;" grasping her hand warmly.

They went down the baleony steps, through the garden, and then through the shrubbery of rhododendrons and azalias, and then through the little wicket gate that opened upon the shingly bay, where the May Fly lay moored in Ada's harbor—just under the shadow of the purple beech. Ada sprang into the little skiff first, as usual, insisting on steering; an art about which she knew as much and attended to as carefully as if a problem of Euclid had been before her. But she was generally allowed to have her own way; and they pushed out of the harbor, Ada at the helm, murmuring a love-song about a Highland Jeanie tried and true—"chanting to the nixies," Horace said—as she bent over the gunwale and looked into the water. Margaret's face was turned upward, and Horace—his fine head almost idealized in this gentle light—sat gazing at the two sisters, while the tender moon flowed over all; flooding Ada's golden curls with a light as gay as laughter, and losing itself in the thick braids of Margaret's hair, like life absorbed in death.

"Ada means to shipwreck us," cried Horace suddenly, avoiding Dead Man's Rock only by a skillful turning of the oar, as the Venetian boatmen had taught him.

Margaret caught the tiller-string and drew it home, and the little boat glanced off, just grazing her keel as she scudded over the furthest point of the sunken rock.

"Ada, child, are your thoughts so far from earth that you can not see Death when he stands in the way? What were you thinking of, love, when you nearly gave a plural to Dead Man's Rock?"

"Oh, nothing—nothing. But do you take the helm, Mar," Ada exclaimed, half in tears.. "I

am not steady enough to guide myself; still less, others!" And she almost cried, which was a common manifestation of feeling with her, and looked so distressed that Margaret took her face between her hands and kissed her forehead for comfort.

"Don't be downcast, my child," she said gently; "we all make mistakes sometimes, and seldom any so venial as all-but running the May Fly on the rocks. Go and comfort Horace, and ask him if he sprained his wrist in that strange Venetian manoeuvre of his. I am sure you have been quarreling on the baleony, Ada—you look so shy of him!" And she laughed pleasantly.

"Oh, no—no!" cried Ada, trying to look indifferent, but unsuccessfully. Then, with a sud| den shake of her head, as if shaking it clear of fancies, she ran over the thwarts and sat down by Horace frankly; but terribly in his way for the sweep of an oar. She leaned on his shoulder and played with his hair, in her old familiar manner; asking him "if he were cross yet ?—what made him so grave?"

"Not cross at any time with you," he said, bending his head to her hands. "Sometimes thoughtful—and about you."

His grave voice made Ada pause. "Are you unhappy!" she said; and her hand stole gently to his forehead.

"No. I am very happy at this moment," he said. "At the worst of times only in doubt." He looked at Margaret as he spoke wistfully.

"In doubt of what, Horace?" she asked.

"Whether sisterly affection might ever take a dearer name; or whether a niche might be reserved for me in the temple of a beloved life."

The boat was floating through the water-lilies as he spoke. They touched the shore of the island.

"Now sermonize together!" cried Ada, springing on shore and rushing away into (he wood. She was going to look for mosses, she said, and ferns for the rockwork in her garden; for Horace and Margaret were best alone.

A rustic bench or chair had been placed in the green knoll just above the landing-place, and there Horace and Margaret seated themselves; watching the stars in the lake, and waiting until their darling should return to them again.

"Your life has been an anxious one for many years, Margaret," said Horace, after another of their long intervals of silence had fallen like a dark cloud over them. He was agitated; for his voice trembled, though his face was hidden by his slouched hat, and Margaret could not see it.

"Yes," she answered quietly; "since my dear father's death, when Ada was left to my care—I so young and she a mere infant—I have had many hours of care and anxious thought. But I have come out into tho calm and sunshine now. My darling has grown up all that the tenderest mother could demand for her child ; and I am more than repaid by the beauty of the nature which perhaps I helped to form, by the power of my own love and tho sacrifice of my whole life."

"Ah, Margaret!" cried Horace, warmly— "queen in soul as well as in name; queen of all womanly virtues and of all heroic powers, my heart swells with gratitude and love when I think of all that you have been to Ada; of how you have fed her life with your own, and emptied your cup of happiness into her's. Dear Margaret?— friend more than sister—what do we not owe you of boundless love, of infinite return!"

Margaret did not speak. Her heart was beating loud and fast, and her eyes, heavy with joy, were bent on the ground. But the lashes and the black brows were portals which suffered no meaning to pass beyond them; and Horace did not read the revelation written in those eyes, which else might have arrested, if it had not changed, the future.

"And now, Margaret," continued Horace, "you know how dear you are to me. You know that your happiness will be my chief care, and to honor and cherish you my joy as well as my duty." Margaret's thin hands closed convulsively on each other; she bent nearer to him unconsciously—her head almost on his shoulder. "You know how much I have loved you and our fairy child there, and how this love has gradually closed round the very roots of my heart, till now I can scarcely distinguish it from my life, and would not esteem my life without it. Tell me, Margaret, you consent to my prayer. That you consent to deliver up to my keeping your very heart and soul, the treasure of your love and the passion of your life. Will you make me so blessed, Margaret—dearest Margaret!"

She turned her eyes upon him, dark with love, and moist and glad. Her arms opened to receive him and to press him close upon her heart; and her lips' trembled as she breathed softly, "Yes, Horace, yes, I win give you all."

"Dearest!—best! he cried. "Friend, sister, beloved Margaret! how can I thank you for your trust in me—how reward your gift? Ada !—my Ada !" and his voice rang through the island, the little one coming at its call. "Here, to me, child adored!" he continued, snatching her to him; "here to your home; to your husband's heart, first thanking your more than mother there for the future, which, my love, infinite as Heaven, shall make one long day of joy and happiness to you. Thank her, Ada—thank her! for she has given me more than her own life."

"Horace!" groaned Margaret, covering her face with her hands. "This is a pain too great; a sacrifice too hard. My heart will break. God, do Thou aid me!"

The passionate agony of that voice checked even Horace in his joy. It was too grieving, too dospairing, to he heard unmoved. The man's eyes filled up with tears, and his lip quivered. "Poor Margaret!" he said to himself, "how she loves her sister. I have asked too much of her. Yet she shall not lose her."

"No, Margaret," whispered Ada, crying bitterly, one hand on her lover's shoulder and the other round her sister's waist, "it shall be no pain, no sacrifice. Will you not still love me,

and shall I not always love you and be near you! Horace will not separate us."

A shudder ran through Margaret. This blindness and unconscious egotism shocked and chilled her. A moment more, and the pain was pressed lack with a strong hand: the sacrifice was accepted with a firm heart. She raised her head and looked up, saying, "God be with you. dear ones, now and ever!" as she joined their hands, tears slowly filling her dark eyes, and falling hot and heavy over her face.

Nothing could be done without Margaret. Every inch of the way, to the steps of the altar, she must walk hand in hand with Ada, the little one never dreaming of the fiery ordeal her love and childish weakness caused that suffering spirit to endure. And even when she bad descended the altar-steps by the side now of another guide, Margaret was still her support, and her counsel the favorite rule of her conduct. The loving gentle child !—frightened somewhat at the new duties she had undertaken, and feeling that she could not fulfill them without Margaret's help: believing that she could not even please Horace unless Margaret taught her how. When her sister remonstrated with ber, and endeavored to give her confidence in herself, and told her that she must act more independently now, and not look for advice in every small affair, but study to win her husband's respect as well as to preserve his love, Ada's only answer was a weary sigh, or a flood of tears, and a sobbing complaint that "Margaret no longer loved her, and if she had known it would have changed her so she would never have married—never!"

What could the sister do? What only great hearts can do—pity; be patient, and learn from sorrow the nobleness not always taught by happiness. Ada was too yonng for her duties; and Margaret knew this, and had said so; daring to be so brave to her own heart, and to rely so wholly on her truth and singleness of purpose, as to urge on Horace her doubts respecting this marriage, telling him she feared that its weight would crush rather than ennoble the tender child, and advising him to wait, and try to strengthen, before he tried, her. Advice not much regarded, how much soever it might be repented of hereafter that it had not been more respected, but falling, as all such counsels generally do fall, on ears too fast closed by love to receive it. All that Margaret could do was to remain near them, and help her sister to support the burden of her existence; drinking daily draughts of agony no one dreamed of, yet never once rejecting the cup as too bitter or too full. She acted out her life's tragedy bravely to the last, and was more heroic in that small domestic circle than many a martyr dying publicly before men, rewarded by the knowledge that his death helped forward Truth With Margaret there was no excitement, no reward, save what suffering gives in nobleness and worth.

Horace fell in with this kind of life naturally enough. It was so pleasant to have Margaret always with them—to appeal to her strong sense

« 이전계속 »