Mini-project six: Christmas at Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum [1856]

26 07 2010

Which is a palace in France and which is a lunatic asylum in England?

Source:  CHRISTMAS AT COLNEY HATCH., Leisure Hour, 259 (1856:Dec. 11) p.798

Selected Quotations:

  • ‘…one of the most interesting sights we remember to have ever witnessed…’
  • ‘As we approached the building by moonlight, the effect was very striking. The various wings of the spacious edifice stretched away to the right and left, alternately bathed in moonlight and buried in darkness. The whole bore…a strong resemblance to the Tuilleries, and the picturesqueness of the scene was heightened by the number of lights that shone from the windows.’
  • ‘Some danced with great exertion; others with little or no spirit. One man in particular attracted our notice–dancing with his eye fixed on the portrait of the Emperor of the French, whom, as we afterwards learnt, he is incessantly devising some plan to assassinate’.
  • ‘We were indeed gratified on finding so universal an air of homeliness and comfort pervade the establishment. The patients in general spoke in high terms of their treatment, and assured us that everything was done that could be to make them feel happy. What a difference in the condition of the lunatic at the present time, compared with what was some fifty years past!
  • It is a singular fact, that while the daily average of fits is 250, yet, when some entertainment of the nature just described is on the carpet, they decrease to the far smaller average of 15. The entertainment tends to occupy the otherwise wandering thoughts of the patients, and so to ward off those dangerous attacks brought on through mental derangement. As the inmates improve in health, they are permitted to attend to the garden and farm, which belong to and wholly supply the wants of the asylum. It may here be mentioned, that the farm attached to Colney Hatch alone brings in an annual profit of £700.
  • ‘…what thankfulness do we owe to God for the possession of our mental faculties! May each reader, at the close of another year, ask himself the question, whether he has been making the right use of them, in laying them out to the glory and service of the great Giver.’



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