A list of patients, A School for Scandal, Albert Day, artists, asylum, Atlantic Monthly, Atlantic Monthy 1869, bankers, Billiards, Binghamton, Bowling, brokers, chess, clerks, Cornell's Making of America, cribbage, Curiosities, divines, Dr. Albert Day, Dr.Edward Turner, dramatists, Ethiopian Minstrel, euchre, Exercise Room, farmers, Honorable Ausburn Birdsall, Humor, Inebriates, Isaac Perry, Joseph Surface, Lady of Lyons, lawyers, Lectures, Literary Exercises, Macbeth, Meeting Room, merchants, Music, musicians, novelists, NY State Inebriate Asylum, Old Woodcuts, Opera, Pantomime, Phenomena, physicians, poets, priests, printers, Prodigal Son, Reading Room, Sages, scholars, Scientific American, Still Water Runs Deep, teachers, Temperance, The Ollapod Club, Wit, writers
Fair Play and Inebriates’ Rights, generosity in judgment, and consideration for the claims of the flesh in its frailty, these are the law to our minds and the way to our hearts. Our diverse personalities are blended and welded by a common need and longing, and the individual is lost in the partaken trouble. Unlike ship-board life, which shamefully uncovers the naked selfishness of a man, bringing to the surface all his abject Me-ness, this more humanizing experience, conceived in helplessness and brought forth in longing, makes generosity a relief and fellowship a comfort.
And here the thought of sea-board life reminds me that the proportion of travelled men among us is especially noticeable by numbers and influence. It is safe to say that of the whole body of patients, – if it be not an absurd misnomer to term those “patients” who are, with rare exceptions, models of cheerful, springy health, – at least one half have traversed their own land from shore to shore, or found their wanton way to the ends of the earth. From these the quality of our social intercourse derives a positive infusion of the cosmopolitan spirit, imparting catholicity of sympathy, freedom of thought, a brave, robust hopefulness, and emancipation from the thralldom of those puerile impulses which promote unwise and extravagant partialities or prejudices. Between the restless, roving, adventure-loving, change-seeking disposition, impatient of restraint, insatiable of excitement, and given over to all the licenses of imagination, and the propensity to stimulate to excess, there seems to be that affinity and connection, psychological and physiological, which may naturally account for the presence in the Asylum of so large a proportion of men who have seen the world and “the elephant.”
In this candid little lodge of ours the masks and dominos of character are dropped, and the man, morally naked, regards himself in the clear, true glass of his own confession. Here, once for all, he unfools himself, with nice accuracy taking his own measure and “heft”; and henceforward, to his dying day, he is as one who has recently made his own acquaintance, – introduced to himself by those who quickly get to know him better than the mother who bore him.
Humbly he comes down from the stilts of his presumption; modestly he modifies the strut of his obtrusiveness, a man judiciously and good-humoredly snubbed. His unappreciated qualities are developed; the mystery of hidden good in him is solved; he learns to rate himself lower than his own price, higher than the appraisal of his friends. The test of shrewd insight we apply to his temper precipitates the bogus from the true; and with an almost comical bewilderment he discovers many of his Sunday-school virtues in the former, not a few of his scampish vices in the latter. Unstable hitherto as water, as surely as water he has found his level.