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Photo of Hallway in the Asylum

Again the tintinnabulary Ethiopian eight o’clock, and away to breakfast! A spacious hall serves us for a refec­tory, abundantly lighted front rows of tall windows on two sides, and at pres­ent accommodating ninety-six guests, in messes of twelve, at eight tables symmetrically disposed on each side of the room ; to each table, a neat-handed Phyllis, more or less expert in the catch­ing of eyes and the shifting of platters; of course separate tables for the super­intendent, his family, and friends, but not separate fare; they sit down with us, and fare as we do; for though we do not boast all the delicacies of the season, our catering is supposed to be substantial, abundant, and various enough; we are not alarmed though a board of trustees take us by surprise, or a legislative committee burst upon us “unbeknownst”

Ninety-six —what? Criminals? There are Pharisees who would so dispose of us. Lunatics? Other fools, of a mild­er type, prefer that denomination. But, for all that, ninety-six gentlemen : in morals, as the world goes ; in wits and manners, above the average ; all of us decent, many refined ; none of us fools, not a few highly intellectual; an illit­erate man a painful rarity among us, a polished scholar—pleasant, but not a phenomenon; a queer club of sym­pathetic good-fellows, having one fiery dragon to fight, and fighting that cheer­fully here together, with our ninety-six hearts and heads and stomachs; while humbly beseeching all Pharisees and other fools, who don’t, pay their money, to take their choice (“Crimi­nal,” or “Lunatic,” or both at once) — only to stop addling their virtuous brains about us, and to let us have peace for a season. For just now breakfast is waiting, and, having asked a blessing, like felons, we proceed to discuss it, with cheerful, rational chat between, like madmen; that over, an­other depraved performance, — prayers in chapel, — and the mad business of the day begins: some to the billiard-tables, some to the bowling-alleys, oth­ers to the more muscular artamina of the gymnasium; while a few, older or less vigorous, more studious, or more pensive, or more lazy, betake themselves to the quiet solacements of library or reading-room.

Reading room in the inebriate asylum of NY (Circa 1870)

This is the usual dis­tribution of those who keep in-doors but, unless the weather be positively forbidding, there is always a consider­able company who ramble over the hills, or, by carriage or the railroad, to Binghamton.


For it must be borne in mind that the corner-stone of the theory upon which this experiment rests is confidence, — the largest liber­ty reconcilable with the safety of the subject.