The Archbold could have boxed his ears. "Dear boy," she murmured tenderly, "you teach us all our duty." She visited the tanked one, found her in a cold room after it, shivering like ague, and her teeth chattering. Mrs. Archbold had her to the fire, and got her warm clothes and a pint of wine, and probably saved her life and her child's--for love of a young man.
Why I think Mrs. Dale would otherwise have left this shifting scene, Mrs. Carey, the last woman in her condition they tanked and then turned into a flagged cell that only wanted one frog of a grotto, was found soon after moribund; on which they bundled her out of the asylum to die. She did die next day, at home, but murdered by the asylum; and they told the Commissioners she died through her friends taking her away from the asylum too soon. The Commissioners had nothing to do but believe this, and did believe it. Inspectors who visit a temple of darkness, lies, cunning, and hypocrisy, four times a year, know mighty little of what goes on there the odd three hundred and sixty-one days, five hours, forty-eight minutes, and fifty-seven seconds.
* Arithmetic of my boyhood. I hear the world revolves some minutes quicker now.
"Now, Alfred," said Mrs. Archbold, "I can't be everywhere, or know everything; so you come to me when anything grieves you, and let me be the agent of your humanity."
She said this so charmingly he was surprised into kissing her fair hand; then blushed, and thanked her warmly. Thus she established a chain between them. When he let too long elapse without appealing to her, she would ask his advice about the welfare of this or that patient; and so she cajoled him by the two foibles she had discerned in him--his vanity and his humanity.
Besides Alfred, there were two patients in Drayton House who had never been insane; a young man, and an old woman; of whom anon. There were also three ladies and one gentleman, who had been deranged, but had recovered years ago. This little incident, Recovery, is followed in a public asylum by instant discharge; but, in a private one, Money, not Sanity, is apt to settle the question of egress. The gentleman's case was scarce credible in the nineteenth century: years ago, being undeniably cracked, he had done what Dr. Wycherley told Alfred was a sure sign of sanity: _i.e.,_ he had declared himself insane; and had even been so reasonable as to sign his own order and certificates, and so imprison himself illegally, but with perfect ease; no remonstrance against that illegality from the guardians of the law! When he got what plain men call sane, he naturally wanted to be free, and happening to remember he alone had signed the order of imprisonment, and the imaginary doctor's certificates, he claimed his discharge from illegal confinement. Answer: "First obtain a legal order for your discharge." On this he signed an order for his discharge. "That is not a legal order."--"It is as legal as the order on which I am here." "Granted; but, legally or not, the asylum has got you; the open air has not got you. Possession is ninety-nine points of Lunacy law. Die your own illegal prisoner, and let your kinsfolk eat your land, and drink your consols, and bury you in a pauper's shroud" All that Alfred could do for these victims was to promise to try and get them out some day, D.V. But there was a weak-minded youth, Francis Beverley, who had the honour to be under the protection of the Lord Chancellor. Now a lunatic or a Softy, protected by that functionary, is literally a lamb protected by a wolf, and that wolf _ex officio_ the cruellest, cunningest old mangler and fleecer of innocents in Christendom. Chancery lunatics are the richest class, yet numbers of them are flung among pauper and even criminal lunatics, at a few pounds a year, while their committees bag four-fifths of the money that has been assigned to keep the patient in comfort.
Unfortunately the protection of the Chancellor extends to Life and Reason, as well as Fleece; with the following result:
In public asylums about forty per cent. are said to be cured.