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Six hundred and ten years ago a sheriff of
London, named Simon Fitz-Mary, founded
and built, in the parish of Bishopsgate, near
the north-east corner of Lower Moorfields, a
priory dedicated to St. Mary of Bethlehem.
It was required that the prior, canons, brothers
and sisters maintained upon this foundation
should represent the darkness of night
in their robes; each was to be dressed in
complete black, and wear a single star upon
the breast. Into the darkness of the clouded
mind of the poor lunatic, no star then shone.
He lived the life of a tormented outcast.

The priory of St. Mary of Bethlehem in
Bishopsgate, was within two dozen years of
completing the third century of its life as a
religious house, when there were great
changes at work among religious houses in
this country, and a London merchant-tailor
Stephen Genningsoffered to pay forty
pounds towards buying the house of Bethlehem
and turning it into a hospital for the

Twenty-two years later, King Henry the
Eighth made a gift of the house to the City
of London, and it then first became, by order
of the city authorities, a lunatic asylum.
Only the faintest glimmer of the star that
was the harbinger of peace then pierced the
night of the afflicted mind. The asylum was
a place of chains, and manacles, and stocks.
In one of the last years of the sixteenth century,
when Bethlehem, as a place of refuge
or rather of custodyfor the insane, was
fifty-three years old, a committee appointed
to report upon it declared the house to be so
loathsome and filthy that it was not fit for
any man to enter.

Seventy more years went by, and the old
house was then not only loathsome in all its
cells, but as to the very substance of its walls
decayed and ruinous. A new building
became necessary, land was granted by the
mayor and corporation, in Coleman Street
ward, and funds for a new building were
collected. A pleasant little incident is told
of the collection. The collectors came one
day to the house of an old gentleman,
whose front door was ajar, and whom they
heard inside rating his servant soundly,
because, after having lighted a fire with a
match, she had put the match into the fire,
when it could have been used a second time,
because it was tipped with sulphur at both
ends. To their surprise this old gentleman
when the collectors asked him for some
moneycounted out to them, quite cheerfully,
four hundred  guineas. They remarked
upon what they had overheard.

"That is another thing," said he. "I do
not spend this money in waste. Don't be
surprised again, masters, at anything of this
sort; but always expect most from prudent
people who mind their accounts."

Partly with charitable purpose, partly
with selfish purpose, to provide a place of
confinement for the lunatics, whom it was
not safe to leave loose in the streets of London,
abundant funds were raised; and, in the
year sixteen hundred and seventy-five the
first stone of a new Bethlehem was laid
south of Moorfieldson London Wall. The
building was a large one, with two wings
devoted to incurables. It had garden-ground,
and at its entrance-gate were set up the two
stone figures of madness carved by Cibber
Colley Cibber's fatherwho is nearly as well-
known by them as by the emblematical
figures at the base of the monument on Fish
Street Hill, of which also he was the sculptor.
One of the figures representing madness,
is said to have been modelled from Oliver
Cromwell's big door-keeper who became
insane. The two figuresrepaired by Bacon
stand in the entrance-hall of the existing

But the existing Bethlehem is not that
which was built in sixteen hundred and
seventy-five, facing the ground in Moorfields
then a pleasaunce to the citizens, laid
out with trees, grass, railings, and fine
gravel-paths, and traversed by a broad and
shady walk parallel to the hospital, that
was known as the City Mall. Bethlehem,
while the pleasaunce lasted, was a part of it.
For a hundred years an admission feefirst,
twopence and then of a pennywas the
charge for a promenade among the lunatics.
The more agreeable of the sufferers were
lodged conveniently on the upper stories, and
the more aflicted kept in filth within the
dungeons at the basement.

Bethlehem, as an asylum for the insane,
even in its first state of sixteenth-century