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Modern Persecution, or Insane Asylums Unveiled
"He comes to the wards for nothing else but to torment us!"
But I am happy to say, that during a favored period of my prison life, he not only allowed me to read Dr. Channing's works, but I think he has exchanged the volumes for me himself, and once he brought me one of his own volumes of Shakepeare's works.
I noticed in a Chicago paper of January 14, 1868, Dr. McFarland advertises for books to be sent to the institution for the benefit of the patients.
I think if the public knew how indifferent he feels in relation to the wants and comforts of his patients, they would not be over anxious to stock their library with books while Dr. McFarland was the State Librarian.
My worst fears respecting the management of this ward, I am sorry to say, were fully realized. Miss Smith possessed naturally a very quick temper, and having it aroused, by ward scenes, into a most unhealthy exercise for many months, she had now become extremely irritable and cross also, so that her atmosphere was anything but salutary and pleasant to the patients under her charge.
Indeed, the contrast between her management and the quiet, kind and gentle influence of Miss Tomlin, and her associate, Miss McKelva, was truly painful, and to me a return to the old system of punishment and abuse, was rendered doubly so, after so long a cessation of hostilities.
Had I been removed from the asylum instead of to this ward, I should have felt confident in the pleasing hope that a reform had really been inaugurated, when I now see that it was only local and spasmodic in its extent and nature.
My feelings were first hurt in witnessing Mrs. Stanley's abuse. She is a high spirited quick tempered lady, about thirty-five years of age, the mother of several children. She had been delicately reared, of aristocratic feelings, and unaccustomed to labor, except that of the superintendence of her servants and nursery. Indulged and gratified herself, she had not learned how to have her wishes crossed, and maintain at the same time her equanimity.
One day Miss Smith ordered her off her bed, in terms so stern and authoritative, that it aroused the invalid's temper, and she remonstrated, and claimed the need she felt of lying upon her bed on account of sickness.
The argument was regarded by Miss Smith as a justifiable reason for laying violent hands upon her, and pulling her suddenly from her bed upon the floor, when, as usual, a fight commenced, and Miss Bailey was summoned to assist Miss Smith in "subduing" Mrs. Stanley!
After fighting awhile, Mrs. Stanley constantly ordering them to let her alone, they concluded to try the "cold bath" to "subdue" her.
Fearing and dreading this punishment more than all others, she, in the most reasonable manner, urged the soundest logic against it, in her present state of health, and then begged and prayed that, for her health's sake, if nothing else, they would spare her this exposure. She said:
"Miss Smith, I am sorry! I ask your pardon! Oh, do forgive me! pray do, I won't do so again."
Still they persisted, regardless of her entreaties, confessions and prayers.
I went to the bath room, hoping my presence might restrain them, and I begged them to forgive her.
But they would not.
After pouring a pail of cold water on her head, Mrs. Stanley said:
"Won't you now kiss me?"
"No!" said Miss Smith, "I won't kiss those who will talk as you do."
Here I said, "do forgive her! for you will sometime want forgiveness yourself."
She then stopped with the threat:
"If you speak another word you shall not have one mouthful of food all day!"
Miss Smith then turned to me saying:
"I am not going to take abusive language from a patient!"
In a low tone I replied:
"You must remember, she is insane, and you cannot expect her to do as a sane person would."
"She is not as insane, as she pretends to be -- she knows how to behave better, and I will not bear abuse from her!"
"We sane ones ought to bear more than we can expect them to bear," I replied.
Another incident connected with the fight. Mrs. Kinney, a very sympathetic patient, seeing how Mrs. Stanley was being misused, interfered, and pulled Miss Smith off. Here was another severe fight, which resulted in forcing Mrs. Kinney into a side room, and locking her up.
After all the fighting was over, Miss Bailey, looking at her finger, remarked:
"I don't know but my finger is broken."
I thought "if you inquired if you had broken any of the patient's bones, it would be becoming."
Thus this weak, delicate woman, who was placed here to receive kind, humane treatment, as the laws direct, is thus allowed to be abused, her own health and nerves to suffer perhaps an irreparable injury, from those from whom it is impossible to escape; and wrongs from which there is no redress, since all the witnesses are outlawed by the brand of insanity.
The oppressed find in this ward no comforter, except it be in defiance of the reigning powers. I have, and do still, defy them, so far as to try to comfort the broken hearted, to sympathize with them in their sorrows, and these are the evidences of my insanity which call for my protracted martyrdom!