Aged eighty-two, consigned to Old Bethlem in August 1786. The name of this female, connected as it is with an occurrence which once excited so much consternation in the country, will not be forgotten in English history.
It is near thirty-seven years since this unfortunate maniac was committed to Old Bethlem, and during that long period she has been considered a lunatic.
The following account of the circumstance which caused her confinement was published at the time.
" On the 2d of August 1786, as the King (George III.) was alighting from his chariot at the garden entrance of St. James's, a woman, very decently dressed, in the act of presenting a petition, which his Majesty was receiving with great condescension, struck a concealed knife at his breast ; which happily he avoided by drawing back. As she was making a second thrust, onep.254 of the yeomenPeople holding and cultivating small landed estates; freeholders. caught her arm, and, at the same instant, one of the King's footmen wrenched the knife from her hand. The King, with great temper and fortitude, exclaimed, " I am not hurt : take care of the poor woman ; do not hurt her."
The same day she underwent an examination before the Privy CouncilA monarch's private advisers. ; when it appeared her name was Margaret Nicholson, daughter of an industrious couple at Stockton-upon-Tees, and that she had lived as an upper servant in several creditable services. Being asked where she lived since she left her last place, she answered in a frantic manner, " she had been all abroad since the matter of the crown broke out ;" and on being asked what matter, she went on rambling " that the crown was hers ; she wanted nothing but her right ; that she had great property ; that if she had not her right, England would be drowned in blood for a thousand generations." It was ascertained that she then lived at Mr. Fisk's, stationer, in Wigmore-street ; and on being questioned as to her right, she said she would answer to none but God. She stated, rationally enough, that she had petitioned about ten days previously ; and on looking among the papers, a petition was found full of nonsense, about tyrants, usurpers, and pretenders. On the interrogation of Mr. Fisk, he stated that Margaret had lodged with him about three years ; and that, althoughp.255 she sometimes appeared odd, and talking to herself, he never observed any proofs of insanity about her ; she lived by taking in plain work, &c.
Doctor Munro being sent for, he said, " it was impossible then to ascertain whether she was insane or not;" but in ten days after, she being examined before the Privy Council in the presence of Drs. John and Thomas Munro, their Lordships were unanimous in their opinion as to her insanity, and she was forthwith conveyed to a cell in Old Bethlem.
Addresses of congratulation to his Majesty, upon his happy escape, were voted by the City of London ; the loyal example was followed by all the cities, corporations, and other great public bodies throughout the kingdom, and many knighthoods were conferred on the occasion. It is, however, worthy of remark, that Margaret has not only outlived all the knights then created, but even the venerable monarchA king, queen, or emperor himself, who in a very old age, and after the longest reign ever enjoyed on the throne of these realms, died after many years of deplorable insanity.
Margaret herself, when much more communicative than of recent years, has given a very different account of the transaction which led to her confinement, from that which appeared in the public prints of the time. She has declared, that she had not the remotest intention to injure his p.256 Majesty ; on the contrary, " that she had a great notion of him." She had lived with a great family where his Majesty used to visit occasionally, and the King frequently looked at her in a manner which she thought bespoke kindness and regard. That being afterwards out of situation for some time, she imagined the King a likely person to recommend her to a good one, and considering that he had always regarded her with a look of more than common attention, she had, therefore, determined to petition his Majesty as her last resource. She inquired, and learned the time and place most likely to meet with his Majesty, and that he would be at St. James's on a particular day ; she attended with her petition, and took her post at the garden-gate leading to the palace. That, unfortunately, having a knife in her pocket along with the petition, and being rather anxious and confused, and afraid of missing her presentation, as the King passed from his carriage, in the hurry of the moment she drew out the knife instead of the paper, and rushed forward to deliver it into his royal hand ; when she was instantly seized, and accused of attempting to stab his Majesty, than which nothing could be farther from her intention.
But it appears that her story, if she told it at the time, was not believed ; and she has now been a sojourner in confinement above thirty-sixp.257 years, and has never evinced any prominent symptoms of insanity beyond the occasional irritation, perhaps, naturally enough resulting from her situation. She was transferred from Old Bethlem hither when this building was finished ; has long since made up her mind to her confinement, and appears perfectly tranquil and contented ; she very seldom speaks, has totally lost her sense of hearing, nor would the discharge of a cannon at her ear in the least disturb her. Snuff seems to be her favourite luxury, of which she takes a great quantity, and seems to enjoy it with peculiar satisfaction. She has contracted a singular aversion to bread, and never can be induced to eat any. The cause of this antipathy is unknown, but she is allowed gingerbread and biscuits, which she eats with good appetite, in moderate quantities. Tea is also allowed her, and she has, besides, the exclusive privilege of living apart from all the other criminal patients, in a ward appropriated as a nursery for the aged and infirm, and such as are quiet and harmless. She enjoys a good state of health, is regular, cleanly, and attentive to her little concerns, and is desirous to render herself useful, so far as her great age will permit.
Reports of her death have been circulated from time to time : but Margaret is still living, andp.258 healthy evidence in refutation of such premature rumours.
Aged about seventy-eight, transferred hither from Old Bethlem. This poor old creature has long been deemed incurable. She thinks herself dreadfully ill-used ; and her imagination is constantly agitated by a persuasion that all persons whom she sees in the course of the day are placed in her room by night, and anatomized. Their skeletons occupy, as she fancies, every corner of her apartment throughout the night. She imagines that all the nurses and patients suffer in the same manner. She appears herself to suffer extreme anxiety and pain of mind under the opinion. She pities and sympathizes with the other patients and nurses, whom she believes to be equally tormented with herself in their feelings. She is always upon the sick list, and has her food regularly brought to her room, which she never quits.
Many of the other patients have occasional little comforts sent them by friends ; such as tea and sugar, snuff, tobacco, fruit, cakes, and the like : but this poor creature seems to have outlived all her connexions, for no friend or acquaintancep.259 ever comes to visit or inquire after her, or do her the smallest kindness, beyond what is furnished by the benevolence of this institution, which amply provides for all her wants.
Aged seventy, removed hither from Old Bethlem. This poor old creature is another incurable. She is generally quiet, but her tranquillity is of very uncertain duration. Solitude is her delight ; probably (if one can form any judgment of the motives that influence a deranged mind) because her fancy is then at full liberty to indulge in wild vagaries without interruption ; and confinement alone to her own apartment, seems to afford her much satisfaction. To accomplish this purpose, whenever she finds her nurse absent from the gallery, she repairs to the window, raves, rants, screams, flings about her arms, and attracts a crowd about the building : but as soon as her nurse returns, she instantly retires to her own room, and her object is then accomplished. She believes that she has been loaded with chains for the last seventy years, and locked by her arms and legs, " and that God Almighty comes and runs things into the guts of poor Hannah Prior." She is very fond of books, readsp.260 much, is indulged with the use of a circulating library, and is very careful of the volumes procured for her amusement; and though she seems to evince some understanding in her selection of books, and to read with attention, yet so irritable is her temper when her mind is diverted to any other object, that she cannot bear conversation for five minutes : for when talking to another with seemingly amicable mildness, some new whim crosses her fancy, and in an instant she flies into the most violent passion, and becomes loud and boisterous ; but, soon recollecting the consequences of such conduct, she moves off spontaneously to her room, and appears quite happy in thus securing a retreat to her own exclusive company, and the enjoyment of her reveries : and probably this mode of obtaining her favourite end is the result of stratagem.
She seems to be affected by continual thirst, is extremely partial to table-beer (the only beverage, besides water, with which she could be indulged), and of this she would drink two, or even three gallons per day, if permitted ; but the nurse is obliged to be careful to prevent such an excess.
She has been under no restraint whatever since she came here, except being locked, occasionally, in her own room. She has quite a stentorian voice, and, after retiring to bed at night, is extremely loud and talkative. p.261
Aged sixty, transferred here from Old Bethlem. This poor old gentlewoman carries about her the vestiges of prim decorumProper and tasteful behaviour and respectability. She is always cleanly, decent, and regular, but all hopes of restored intellect are long since completely gone. Though she seldom talks, it is always incoherently : but she is generally silent, except when asked questions.
The most prominent trait of her illusion is the unaccountable antipathy she has conceived towards the matron. She cannot be dissuaded from a fixed notion that the matron was a patient in Old Bethlem for seven years, and that her name is Vains. Perhaps her shattered memory may be impressed with a personal likeness of the matron to some one for whom she had formerly conceived an aversion : but so strong is her antipathy, that she cannot bear to see its present object. The moment she perceives her enter the gallery, she flies to her own room, shuts her door, and remains secluded until the matron goes away.
The poor soul is otherwise quite harmless and mild, and never troublesome nor offensive in any way. p.262
Aged forty-five, belonged to Putney, and was transferred hither from Old Bethlem : she is a married woman, and mother of a family. This poor woman has contracted a most singular persuasion : she fancies herself to be a man, and sometimes styles herself a boy ; and, when spoken to, she bows, scrapes, and puts her hand to her head in every respect like a footman.
She is particularly attached to the matron, whom she calls her beauty, and is quite uneasy every day until she sees her.
There is nothing else particularly remarkable in her manner ; she is orderly, cleanly in her person and habits, and perfectly quiet and harmless.
Aged thirty-six, was transferred hither from Old Bethlem as a curable patient, and after remaining here twelve months was discharged ; but her maladyA disease or ailment; or a serious problem. soon returned, and she was re-admitted on the incurable list.
She is a married woman, with a family of children, and is the wife of a private soldier who served in Lord Rolle's regiment. But she has, asp.263 she says, discarded her former husband, and now imagines herself to be Lady Rolle, and expects his Lordship to come for her every hour. Whenever a party of visitors are going about the hospital, she invariably intreats the nurse to let her go out, as her husband, Lord Rolle, is waiting for her. The appearance of a respectable company of visitors always exalts her notions of her own rank and consequence, and she is on such occasions very desirous to join them, as she is quite sure Lord Rolle is one of the number.
This poor woman is generally quiet and orderly in her habits, but she participates the common idea amongst so many of her companions, that all which she sees is her own property ; all the food, tea, sugar, clothes, &c. &c. of the other patients belong to her, and she ought to have them.
From Kent Road, aged about forty-five, and transferred hither from Old Bethlem. When this poor woman was brought from her previous place of confinement, it was reported that she had been in irons for the preceding seven years ; but, thanks to the better management of this institution, no such thing has taken place here. p.264
The leading traits of this patient's mind are the desire of increasing, and the constant suspicion of being robbed of her treasure. The depository of this is a box, which she carries about under her arm, and in which she hoards every penny she can collect. This coffer she values above all things, and it is her inseparable companion wherever she goes : but, like most misers, she is under the perpetual apprehension of being robbed. She imagines that the fellows come into her room at nights, break open this box, and take her money out of it. Her whole soul seems wrapt in this box and its contents. It is sewed up in a wrapper of coarse linen, as if meant for exportation. She is allowed to wash her own clothes once a fortnight, and her coffer always accompanies her to the laundry, and in like manner when she goes to the airing-ground, or elsewhere. She says this box cost her six shillings and sixpence, which is a great deal of money ; but the fellows have so broken it, in their attempts to get out the money, that she is always patching and mending it to keep it together. All her cares and her constant complaints are about this box, its fractures, and the robberies committed on it by the fellows, which is all purely imaginary, for there are no visible marks of any injury on her favourite depository. But she still insists that the fellows break into her room by night, when she is asleep, p.265 lick the white-wash off her walls, break open her box, steal out her ribbons and her money, and do her much other mischief. They break in sometimes through the window, sometimes down the chimney, and sometimes through the key-hole. Every night produces some new misfortune, and every day some fresh complaint.
She has sometimes a turn for finery, and adorns herself, as she thinks, in a very gay and tasteful style. Her hair is long and carrotty, which she terms auburn ; and she crops as much from the length as supplies her with materials for fashionable front curls, whenever she chooses to dress in full pomp.
She is in general remarkably cleanly and regular in her habits. She sometimes gets into a passion, but when that fit subsides she is kind and obliging. She is allowed the peculiar privilege of remaining in the gallery all the year, if she chooses, while other patients are obliged to go into the airing-ground ; and she is never locked up in her room by night or day, while all the other patients are locked up at eight o'clock in the evening. She enjoys the pleasure of walking about the gallery, amusing herself and protecting her property, until she chooses to retire to rest.
She is perfectly harmless, honest, and, with very few exceptions, well-behaved. p.266
CAROLINE DE GUTH,
Aged forty-two, admitted in 1817. This unfortunate woman is a German, was of a respectable family, and well brought up : but, whatever were the motives of her friends for consigning her to a public asylum of this nature, she carries with her, even under her derangement, all the pride of exalted rank, and a sovereign contempt for supposed inferiors. Disappointed love is said to be the source of her disorder.
She imagines New Bethlem to be the Queen's Palace, and to be her own property, with every thing that belongs to it. All the nurses in the house she considers to be her domestic servants, and all the patients her slaves, whom she speaks of with high contempt, as mere scum of the earth. Indeed she speaks of both nurses and patients as a low, vulgar class of wretches, unworthy to attend on a lady of her high rank and consequence ; that they have been brought up like coal-heavers, and several times cast for death, and this, as she believes, for cutting up young children, and bringing parts of them to her for supper. She is extremely fond of amusing herself with singing, and is generally high, and in a state of excitement : her malady is deemed incurable. p.267
Aged .......... This is a Scotchwoman, and was one of those unfortunate females that nightly infest the streets of the metropolis. In one of her professional excursions she fell in with a butcher, and before she parted with him robbed him of £20.
She appears more simple than mad, She says that Mr. Capper robbed her of all her rings and jewels, muff, and all her fine things, when she was first apprehended. She still preserves a broach, and a shillingOld British currency, before it went decimal. There were 20 shillings in a pound (£), and 12 pennies (d) in a shilling., which she carefully keeps wrapped up in a number of papers ; which shilling, she says, is to pay for a lodging, the first night she obtains her liberty. She takes snuff", and although she feels much in want of it at times, she is so scrupulously careful of her shilling, that she will beg, borrow, or go without the exhilirating powder altogether, rather than break upon this last remnant of her cash.
Aged .........., London. This is a married woman, and was servant in a family in London. The family being out of town, she onep.268 night set fire to the house in the following manner. She had seen her husband, on the night alluded to, with whom she had very high words, on what account is not known, but, mortified and driven to desperation, she resolved on her own destruction. With this view she procured a quantity of laudanum and gin mixed together : she then went to rest, doubly intoxicated, having first placed a lighted candle underneath the bed.
She soon became insensible. The bed and furniture caught fire, and the flames spread. The watchman on his post observing it, obtained assistance, broke into the house, repaired to the room on fire, where he found the unfortunate woman in a state of complete insensibility, and much burnt. She was taken out ; but the house and furniture received considerable damage. She remained ill a long time, from the double effects of poison and fire, and was ultimately found to be deranged.
She betrays no symptoms of insanity, attends divine service, is orderly and regular, and conducts herself very well, but does not recollect setting fire to her master's house. p.269
Aged ………., Gloucestershire. This is a miserable looking, diminutive, hump-backed creature, about four feet in stature. She was a pauper in the parish-workhouse, and, while there, she frequently had the care of an infant belonging to the mistress of the poor-house. One day, while nursing the child, and when it was naked, she very deliberately threw it from a two pair of stairs window to the ground, where it was killed by the fall ; with equal deliberation she threw its clothes after it. Report says, that she had given notice of her intention to do the child a mischief the day preceding.
She now behaves herself extremely well, and attends divine service, at which she conducts herself with great propriety. She perfectly well remembers the horrible act of destroying the child, but says she was deranged at the time ; for if she had not been so, she would have shuddered at an act so dreadful in itself, and for the crime at all times she expresses the greatest sorrow and contrition. p.270
Aged ………., Bath. This is a married woman, with a family. In a fit of insanity she had cut out the tongues of two of her children. She is very much deranged, but chiefly melancholy and desponding. She holds very little converse with any person, dislikes company, and is almost always alone. She never goes into the airing ground with the other patients, but sits on a box, moping within. At times, however, she is in a different state, and speaks ; but her insanity palliates the dreadful crime she has been guilty of.
She says she cut out her children's tongues to prevent them telling lies, and that if all mothers Would do the same, it would save much tale-telling, idle talk, and mischief.
London. This wretched woman was found guilty of destroying one of her children, and, being deranged, was sent to Bethlem. She appears to be perfectly sensible of the crime she has committed, and is in consequence extremely disconsolate, desponding, and dejected. She has no particular insane ideas, but her mind appearsp.271 to be continually on the rack, most probably on reflection at what she has done.
Aged sixty-nine, admitted March 28th 1822. The derangement of this miserable old creature proceeds from imaginary remorse, of which she is the constant and pitiable prey. She imagines that she has committed murder upon her unborn infant, and wants, of all things, to be hung. Her story is, that she was with child, that she drank large quantities of rue tea to procure abortion, and that she thus poisoned her infant, deserves to be hung, and hung she must be. She says it is only tantalizing, and trifling with her feelings, to keep her any longer in this house. " Let me go at once to Newgate," she will exclaim, " I have committed murder, and deserve to be hanged. Pray let me go. Keeping me here is only tormenting me worse. I know I must be hanged, and why not let me suffer at once ?"
For hours successively will she sit silent and sad, brooding over her ideal misfortunes, and, if roused from her reflections by a question from any one, she will answer rationally enough upon any other subject. But this cord of child-murderp.272 once touched by another, or her own recollection, she instantly relapses to her wonted misery, and repeats her former intreaty: " Oh! let me go to Newgate! I must be hanged! I know I deserve it, and why will you not let me go ?"
In all other respects, she is quiet, regular, and cleanly.
Aged forty-six, admitted in 1818. This poor creature is a single woman. Her malady has never yielded to medical treatment, notwithstanding all the care and attention paid to her case, and she has ultimately proved incurable. Her fancy, like most of the various patients under mental derangement, has its peculiar turn. Her firm belief is, that she brings forth a child every night ; but that before the morning arrives, some men, or " fellows," as she styles them, come and take her child away.
The population of a desert would speedily flourish by the aid of a few such colonists as this poor maniac supposes herself to be.
She imagines herself dreadfully ill-treated. The ruins of her memory seem to be constantly haunted by recollections of former annoyances, previous to her lodgment in this asylum, from the thoughtlessp.273 and unfeeling rabble, who are so apt to take delight in teasing and imitating the poor wandering maniacs exposed to their mercy. She fancies herself followed by crowds of mischievous boys, who mock, torment, persecute, and throw stones at her ; that she is most cruelly teased by them, and that she is obliged to fight for her life every night. She reckons that she has had above a hundred children ; but as she feels herself growing old, she hopes soon to have done child-bearing, and that her pains and troubles will be speedily at an end.
She thinks that one of the keepers is her husband, and sends many messages to him by her attendant nurse, which she supposes are regularly delivered, and is surprised at his unkindness in not answering them. She remembers the marriage ceremony was performed with a brass ring ; recollects the wedding-feast, and threatens to sue her unkind and negligent spouse for pin-money, or separate maintenance.
She is generally quiet, and has done no mischief; but sometimes she becomes irritated from causes purely ideal ; believes every person she sees is mocking and reviling her ; then her anger mounts to rage, she foams at the mouth, is in a high state of agitation, and it becomes necessary to confine her in her own apartment, where byp.274 degrees, her anger subsides, and she again becomes tranquil, and is released.
Aged forty-seven, admitted 25th January 1819. From the conduct of this woman, it would require no extraordinary effort of credulity to believe her possessed by an evil spirit, or that the most furious of the furies was her familiar. Her appearance carries her age much higher than it is stated, but there is nothing in Billingsgate, St. Giles's, or any other school of ferocious rage, malice, or eloquence, that can afford even a slight specimen of her pre-eminence in these points ; and, when excited, the gross indecency of her language, and the scurrilous volubility of her tongue, cannot be described.
All persons in office here, and especially the physicians, are the favourite objects of her talents, as probably they might be of her talons also, but for the vigilance of the keepers ; and any parties who visit the female ward of this establishment rarely escape her abuse.
She imagines that Dr. Wright is the husband of the matron ; that she herself is immensely rich, and that the whole building, and all the clothes, p.275 money, and other valuables in it, belong exclusively to her.
She thinks ill of all persons indiscriminately, and if she observes any thing new in the dress of the nurses, she immediately tells them it was obtained as the wages of prostitution.
Some time ago the matron inquired of this woman where the nurse was, and she immediately answered, " Oh ! she is gone up stairs to lay-in of two young bears : she has been big with them for some time." Her malady has been long since deemed incurable.
Aged twenty-nine, admitted in 1819. This poor young woman, when admitted, was in a very low state of dejection and melancholy. She had been employed as a wet-nurse, in the family of the Hon. H. G. Bennett, at whose instance, when her malady appeared confirmed, she was sent here. She continued in this low state for twelve months after her admission, without any change for the better, and was then deemed incurable. Shortly afterwards she became violent and abusive to all about her, especially to the matron. She has frequently been very mischievous, breaking the windows, and tearing her own clothesp.276 into the smallest fragments. Amongst the other illusions of her fancy, she has fallen in love with the physician, Sir George Tuthill. She says she cannot account for this feeling, but she loves him, even to distraction. She is married, has had two children, was formerly a young woman of good character, and of late has conducted herself quietly.
Aged thirty-nine, admitted 8th December 1820. The disordered fancy of this patient was influenced by a thorough persuasion of her own high rank. She imagined herself to be a foreign princess, of blood royal and regal lineageA line of ancestors.. She considered her confinement here as oppressive and arbitrary in the extreme ; and it hurt her excessively when she reflected, that instead of such treatment, she ought to be riding in her carriage and four.
All this building belonged to her, beside numbers of other princely edifices elsewhere ; and she would, some day ere long, convince her hearers of this grand truth, when her carriage and four should come driving up for her.
She was a married woman, but her hatred top.277 her husband was inveterate, beyond all bounds. She often declared, that rather than return to such a monster, she would suffer the most horrible death that was possible.
But, notwithstanding this antipathy to one man, her heart was not insensible to the tender passion towards the whole sex, for she was in love, even to dotage, she said, with Mr. Lawrence the surgeon ; and, at the same time, to distraction with Sir George Tuthill. But she could hardly tell which she loved most, or which of them she would have.
She was of an agreeable person, generally quiet and orderly, but her conversation was always wild and incoherent. After twelve months' confinement here, she was discharged uncured, in December 1821, and was removed to a private mad-house.
Aged twenty-nine, admitted 3d May 1821. This poor young woman was one of the unhappy victims of religious superstition. She had been cook in a respectable family before she received her call; but from that time forth she lapsed into distraction, and wild enthusiasm. She wasp.278 much disordered when here, and entertained the notion that she was with child by _____. She had been with him repeatedly ; knew him well, and, in the course of her intimacy with him, became pregnant. When any of the other patients spoke to her, she would gently rebuke them, and tell them to beware how they addressed her ; but whether this proceeded from the notion of her pregnancy, or of her personal greatness, was not known. She was a single woman, cleanly, regular, harmless, and inoffensive. She became better of her disease, obtained a month's leave of absence, came back at the end of that time to return thanks, and was discharged well, in March 1822.
She afterwards went down to Bath, to service, but became again deranged, and, in a fit of despondency, unfortunately drowned herself.
Aged twenty-eight, admitted 31st January 1822. This poor creature was another of the victims of fanaticism. She had been servant in a family, but at some time or other had received " her call," as it is termed, at one of the religious conventiclesSecret or unlawful meetings, usually of nonconformists., and, in a little time, lapsed into melancholy and despair. Her constant habitp.279 was a propensity to biting her nails and fingerends, and lacerating her flesh, for the purpose of mortification.
She was so merged in despondency and utter hopelessness, that she firmly believed the devil was to have her when she should die. That the evil-spirit had all the power, and the DeityA non-specific supreme being in monotheistic traditions, or a god or goddess. none.
That, seeing it impossible to be saved, she had given herself up to sin, wickedness, idleness, and sloth. That this was occasioned by her not believing in God. That she was never more to be happy, but to be tormented for ever and ever.
This was the constant tenor of her lamentations, from morning till night. She could not be induced to repair any part of her clothes, nor even mend a hole in her stocking, wash her skin, or do any thing whatever that could contribute to her own health or comfort ; not so much even as to change her linen, unless when forced to do so.
In this wretched state she continued for a considerable time, until at length she had a severe fit of bodily illness, from which, as she recovered, her reason was restored, her despondency vanished, and she was finally discharged well, in August 1822. p.280
Aged forty, admitted 11th April 1822. This poor creature is an unmarried woman, but has got a child living, and, whatever was the cause of her derangement, she is the wretched victim of maternal fondness and painful anxiety for her child, which she imagines is starving to death. Every thing she eats she thinks this child ought to have, and she therefore takes her provisions with the greatest reluctance, insomuch, that it frequently becomes necessary to administer by force the sustenance which she obstinately refuses to take of her own accord, and this reluctance has reduced her almost to a skeleton.
Whenever the doctors, or a party of visitors, go round to view the establishment, she instantly accosts them, falls on her knees, and in the most pathetic manner implores and entreats them to let her see her dear child, who is starving to death for want of the food that she eats ; and though the evil be merely ideal, this poor creature suffers in her mind all the anguish of maternal woe.
Otherwise she is quite harmless, and at no time inclined to be mischievous. p.281
Aged fifty-one, admitted July 11th 1822. This wretched creature is, equally with the last, a prey to the bitterest remorse for imaginary guilt. She fancies that she has murdered both her father and mother ; that she has undone, by her crimes, all that the Saviour of the world had done for the good of mankind; that the devil has obtained power above the Deity, and that he will have .every body. All this, she says, has proceeded from her guilt and infidelity, and her not doing what she ought to have done ; and her constant and bitter plaint of woe and despair, from morning till night, is
" What will be done ?
What will be done ?
The d___l will have us all !
What will be done ?"
In all other respects she is quite harmless ; but this incessant tone of grief and despair not only aggravates her own malady, but is extremely annoying to other patients ; particularly to the melancholy beings whose minds are already too much in unison with her own, and it becomes necessary at times to remove her from the usual airing ground, to another ground set apart for the basement patients. p.282
Aged forty-six, admitted 2d January 1822. This poor lady has a very exalted notion of her high rank and dignity. She was probably one of the radicalA person who advocates thorough or complete political or social reform, or a description of that change. visitants to Brandenburgh House, and supposes herself to be no less a personage than Queen Caroline. She affects to know every body in high life ; calls all persons she sees by wrong names of her own suggestion, and is quite sure she remembers them, in some situation or other where she has been acquainted.
If a party of visitors come round to view the establishment, she instantly adapts a name to each; and affects to know their characters and situations quite familiarly. This is Mr. Somebody, whom she knew in such a situation ; that lady is Mrs. Such-a-one, who has had so many children by such a gentleman. To the nurses she is very liberal in her allowance of prolificacy. Some, she says, have had three or four illegitimateIn terms of children, those born out of wedlock (to unmarried parents). children, others now with child, and, in fact, she assumes to know every one, and all their private histories.
When her majesty goes forth to promenade the airing-ground, she generally enthrones herself in a large chair which is there fixed, assumes all thep.283 pomp and consequence which she thinks attached to her high estate, and looks down on the surrounding female patients as her maids of honour, or her humble subjects, who owe the profoundest homage to her fancied royalty.
This poor princess was a married woman, and her insanity is supposed to be the result of remorseful feelings for an unfortunate aberration from her conjugal rectitude. She is cleanly, quiet, and harmless.
Aged thirty, admitted November 15th 1821. This poor soul was a married woman, with four children. The source of her derangement seems to have been religious despondency. She imagined that she had taken the sacrament unworthily and sacrilegiously, and that her body was full of serpents; and she several times attempted suicide, but was fortunately prevented by the vigilance of the attendants.
She contrived to escape from the hospital, on the 22d February 1822, by climbing over the wall, with another woman, but was brought back, p.284 on the 28th of the same month, and the two nurses, in whose care she was, discharged.
She also enjoyed the rank of fancied royalty, and stiled herself Queen Mary, and consort to his present Majesty George IV. who she fully expected would come for her in person, or send for her in his state carriage, and a guard of honour.
He was her lawful husband, and would not neglect her when the proper time should come ; and she expected to go from this hospital very soon, to one of the royal palaces. She had not the least doubt of it.
Notwithstanding this poor queen's imaginary greatness, she seemed to have had her real destiny in an humble and laborious rank of life. She was generally at work, very industrious, a good servant, and was found very useful in the gallery.
After the expiration of twelve months she was discharged uncured, on the 14th November 1822; and retired, not to Carlton Palace, but to a private mad-house. p.285
Aged twenty-nine, admitted 24th October 1822. This was an unmarried woman, and another personage of royal blood. She fancied herself to be Queen Charlotte, and assumed all the august dignity of her high degree, exacting, or at least insisting, on due homage from the ladies amongst whom she moved.
Three crowned heads at once, under the same roof, were perhaps a little too much for the tranquillity of the region they inhabited, especially as there appeared no symptom of a Holy alliance amongst them, to check the machinations of illegitimate reformers, for they were rival queens, and maintained towards each other a degree of hostility truly royal. Whenever their majesties appeared all at the same time in the gallery, it became the theatre of a fierce and clamorous war of words, attitudes, and grimace ; each claimed to herself the exclusive right of hereditary power, and disowned the other two as impostors and usurpers. In such a contest, it was not to be expected that the neighbouring powers could remain idle spectators ; and, consequently, the allies of each princess brought their auxiliaryp.286 contingents into the field, and contended in this tripartite war, with all the ardour of fancy, vigour of voice, and volubility of tongue, that may be easily supposed to have reigned where so many ladies joined the rival ranks. But on those occasions the rage of conflict generally roused some neighbouring imperious power, in the shape of a keeper, to interfere, when the rival-queens were obliged to retreat to their respective apartments, and defer the decision, to some future opportunity.
Queen Charlotte, alias Charlotte Harding, was discharged on the 12th December 1822.
Aged fifty. This is a native of Ireland ; she was tried and found guilty of the wilful murder of another woman, but under the influence of insanity, and being much deranged, she was sent here. She is entirely lost to all intellectual feeling. When in the airing-ground, she picks up stones and rubbish of all kinds, which she calls jewels and valuables. She sometimes strips herself almost to nakedness, tears up her clothes into pieces, and flings the fragments over thep.287 wall ; and she then will proceed to dress herself in the finest clothes she can lay hands on, whether they belong to patient or servant, no matter to the frantic Philippa. She is inconsistent in all her actions, but dreadfully disordered, which excuses the whole of her improprieties.
Aged thirty, admitted May 1822. This unfortunate poor woman is married, and has a family of three or four children, residing near Bethnal Green, but became deranged from unknown causes, and destroyed one of her children, seven months old, by severing its head from its body. She was tried for the fact at the Old Bailey in May last year, but acquitted on the ground of insanity. She believes the devil had directed her so to do. She was sent to Bethlem in a very dreadful state, violent and dangerous in the extreme, both to herself and others. She has attempted, by various contrivances, to destroy herself; tearing the sheets and blankets in slips to strangle herself: she attempted it even with the strings of her apron, but her clothes have since been entirely divested of strings, and made to button. p.288
She would bite, kick, or strike any person who approached her; she would frequently speak of her dear infant in affectionate terms, and cry bitterly almost day and night. Latterly she is not so violent, and is not in any restraint throughout the day ; but at night she is necessarily secured to prevent self-destruction. She has of late left off conversation, and her only answer to all questions is, " for ever and a day, as the boy sold his top." She speaks no more than these words by night or day, and passes her time in reflection, weeping at intervals, exclaiming " for ever and a day, as the boy sold his top." She had an excellent character as a good wife and mother, until this unfortunate malady afflicted her.
Aged forty-eight, admitted in June 1821. This is a lady of great personal magnitude. She lived for fourteen years in Canterbury Place, Lambeth, where she was well-known, as well for her eccentricities as by the dilapidated state of her mansion, and the clamorous attention paid to her by arch boys and idle gazers.
Various reports are circulated as to the causep.289 of her insanity ; some state that she was deserted by her husband, and others that her child met its death by getting into a copper of boiling water, through the carelessness of its nurse ; however, her residence became a complete nuisance to the neighbourhood, and it was in contemplation many times to indict her on that account. She was highly eccentric in every particular ; every window in the front of her house was broken, and the railings entirely carried away. She lived solitary, without servant or companion, cooked her own provisions, enjoyed the best of every thing, and what she could not eat she consumed in the fire. She had a char-woman occasionally to clean the part of the house she lived in. She was some time ago accustomed to parade in front of her house as a sentinel, with her head adorned with a turban, a la Turque, and a quarter-staff in her hand. Mobs frequently collected, and annoyed her and the neighbours very much. She would sometimes sally forth and distribute her sturdy favours indiscriminately upon the heads and shoulders of the gazers. When she went out to walk, she carried a brass ladle concealed in her muff, and was always joined by the arch boys, or, as she called them, " her jolly crew ;" but if annoyed or attacked by them, she would drawp.289 her ladle and baste them soundly. She has been seen in all parts of the town, in various strange dresses. Leopard-skin apron, odd-looking furs, tippets, muffs, shawls, and cloaks, and always numerously attended, though much against her inclination. One of her Amazonian freaks procured her an assignment to Horsemonger-lane prison for riotous conduct, and from thence she came here.
She has a room in the criminal wing of the hospital, well furnished with goods of her own, and she is permitted to purchase what she pleases for her own use in eatables. If report speaks true, she was much addicted to strong liquors, to which was ascribed her disorder; but here she is strictly debarred all such indulgence ; yet her disorder continues.
She styles herself a woman of great and extensive scientific knowledge, " the daughter of the Almighty," and when displeased, she will look upwards and exclaim, " Joe ! Joe ! do you think this right ? Is this justice? Is this justice, Joe ?"
She is at times inclined to violence, but has done no particular mischief. She is certainly a welleducated woman, and has some property ; is said to have been honest in all her dealings, and punctualp.291 in her payments. She used to attend the Bank to receive her dividends with great punctuality, and paid her bills equally correct. She is of huge size, with masculine features, and has more the voice of a stentor than that of an accomplished fair one.