Tag Archives: Bethlem Hospital

Human affairs are a joke to be wept over.

No “visit” today, but an update to the About page, and a new page for submitting links.

History Lesson for the Day

London’s Bethlem Hospital is the world’s oldest institution for the mentally ill. In the 18th century, visiting Bedlam cost just two pence, and was a popular entertainment for the wealthy, visitors to London, and the working classes.

“Lunatics” and those who had been released from Bedlam were commonly known as Bedlamites.

… I was not altogether insensible of the misery of the poor captives, nor destitute of feeling for them. But the Madness of some of them had such a humorous air, and displayed itself in so many whimsical freaks, that it was impossible not to be entertained, at the same time that I was angry with myself for being so. A line of Bourne’s is very expressive of the spectacle which this world exhibits, tragic-comical as the incidents of it are, absurd in themselves, but terrible in their consequences;
Sunt res humanae flebile ludibrium. (Human affairs are a joke to be wept over.)

William Cowper, 19 July 1784