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Modern Persecution, or Insane Asylums Unveiled
I then complete my toilet for the day, all of which occupies nearly one hour's time. I am then in a condition to relish my dinner, after which, I read some light literature, or the daily paper, over which, I often drop to sleep in my chair, and thus take a short nap.
I then take my embroidery and do a certain amount, while at the same time committing to memory certain passages, which I have marked in my reading as worthy of particular note; or, while sewing, meet my attendants, Miss Tomlin and Miss McKelva, in the large dormitory, and there listen to readings from Shakespeare's plays which we mutually agree to do for our individual improvement.
This occupies my mind completely until the horn blows for supper, when the farm hands are all summoned in from their work in the fields, about five o'clock.
I take no supper, finding that two meals are all my present habits render necessary for the unimpeded and health-ful operations of nature.
I noticed that while taking suppers my sleep was not so quiet and refreshing as it ought to be -- that I awoke with a bad taste in my mouth, and had but little appetite for my breakfast. I felt rather averse to effort. Aware that I was over-feeding instead of refreshing nature, I dispensed with my suppers entirely, and all these symptoms and indifferent feelings subsided, and I felt well, that is, had no special reason for considering that I had a body to care for, so quiet and unimpeded were its functions carried on.
The body thus cared for instead of being an incumbrance to the mind, became only its faithful servant.
My sleep is now really a luxury, even amid this den of how-ling maniacs, and my breakfasts and dinners are peculiarly well relished -- have not a pain or uneasy sensation whatever in my physical system to which to call the mind's attention. How thankful am I for my practical knowledge of the laws of my physical nature; for I do believe that godliness, or living according to God's laws, is profitable in every respect; and ungodliness, or trespasing on nature's laws, cannot be done with impunity.
After supper I lay aside my work, and devote myself to amusing the patients, by dancing and playing with them until after chapel service, when they are locked up for the night.
I go through my gymnastics again at night in my room, and drink my tumbler of soft water, and pray, and go joyfully to bed to sleep and pleasant dreams.
I often feel when rising, as much relieved and rested from my troubles, as if I had really been absent from my prison, on a pleasant visit to loved friends. It sometimes takes me some minutes to realize where I am, on awaking from such pleasant dreams.
I often think this hell is not so unmitigated in its torments as the hell of lost spirits is represented to be, by their resting not, day nor night. Could not these prison torments be suspended by sleep, they must soon become too intolerable for physical nature to sustain. God grant me deliverance from endless, unmitigated torment!
The discipline of this hell has had one influence over my moral feelings which is certainly conducive to inward peace of mind, and that is, I am becoming comparatively indifferent to the "speech of people," which is really one of the greatest bug-bears in the universe. I now think it is much better to do as we please, or rather as we think it right, promptly, and independently, than to square our conclusions by other peo-ple's estimates.
Blessed be independence and moral courage! for by these alone can we secure the approbation of a good conscience. Let me get above "folks," where I can breath a pure atmosphere and live. The idea of suffocating and choking to death down in the vitiating atmosphere of a meddlesome and gossiping world, is very disagreeable. The record of every day's experience here of this doleful prison life, carries me farther and farther above this groveling atmosphere, so that my mind finds peace amid tumult and noisy strife.
For the benefit of others who may be called to endure similar trials, I will add, that I find it an invaluable habit to be able to secure good sleep, and plenty of it, to fortify one invincibly against the attacks of "low spirits."
To be a "good sleeper" is as indispensable to a happy, vigor-ous state of the intellect, as being a "good eater" is to a good physical condition.
And my signal triumph over low or depressed spirits, which never for one entire day disturbed my inward peace of mind, during all my imprisonment, is greatly owing to my constant practice of sleeping soundly from ten to eleven hours out of the twenty-four.
The need of this habit was presented first to my mind by my scientific reading in the Asylum, where it was shown that whenever the brain had unusual burdens to carry, either in the form of trials or of deep study, a greater amount of sleep was indispensable to sustaining it unharmed.
Before narrating the incidents concerning the paper, I will state a few facts incidentally bearing upon the subject.