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THE LITTLE HOSPITAL BY THE RIVER.
Just beyond the dark red brick tower up stairs. The idea of this Hospital is of quaint old Chelsea Church and the very beautiful; it only receives patients now-a-days grotesque monument to suffering from chronic or incurable Sir Hans Sloane beside it, is a hand- disease, and on that account excluded some lamp-post placed in the middle or discharged from other hospitals. of the wide road, with an inscription an- Cases of epilepsy or mental derangenouncing that in the month of May, ment being alone inadmissible. It was 1874, the Thames Embankment of first opened in June 1875 with one Chelsea was opened. Doubtless this ward containing eight beds ; in SepEmbankment has purified the river tember of the same year eight more banks, and has been great in its sani- beds were added. tary influences—but we old dwellers in Twenty-eightchildren have now been Chelsea have clinging regretful memo- admitted ; of these a few have been ries of the old wharves, the picturesque discharged comparatively well; some lumbering barges, and the stately trees have died. There are now sixteen in that once adorned Cheyne Walk, though the Hospital, almost all of whom will these last were sacrificed some years never leave their beds again. before the Embankment was thought of. We go up the quaint old staircase
At this lamp-post begins a plot of with its pale green panelled walls, inclosed garden-ground, between the into the first ward. Outside the door houses and the river, with trees bursting we are shown the great ventilating into fresh green leaves which quiver shaft, which goes through the house under the bright sunshine of this genial from basement to roof, and keeps the spring day, and behind the slight screen atmosphere wonderfully pure and fresh; they interpose between us and the river there are also air tubes at the windows. is a quaint group of small houses— Two bright, exquisitely-clean rooms quaint and old-fashioned with the age lead one out of the other ; there are of more than a century upon them. three cots in one room and five in the In front of the third house, No. 46, is other; and out of the eight children a black board with “ Cheyne Home who occupy these, seven are incurably for Sick Children” painted on it, and afflicted either with spine or hip this is the little Hospital we have come disease, or in the case of the eldest, a to see.
very interesting boy of twelve years A Hospital for incurable children! old, with “paraplegia : ” but it is What a sad, hopeless picture this calls really difficult to believe this doom is up, so many of the bright butterflies of on them as we look at the bright life pinned to the beds from which smiles on every face. Every child wears they must never rise. “Oh how very a scarlet flannel jacket, and has its cot sad!” say people we tell about this covered with a richly-coloured striped little Hospital, and we said so too, and blanket. The pale green walls are we went in with troubled hearts to hung with pictures and photographs, judge for ourselves.
and on the little table stretching We went first into the pretty rooms across every crib is a glass or china on the ground-floor and had a little flower pot filled with fresh country talk with the sweet-faced superintend- primroses. ent-“Sister” the children call the It is difficult to associate disease and kind lady-about her sixteen charges suffering with so bright a scene. The cots and the stools beside them are than “Friar Tuck," as the little one heaped with books, toys, drawing imple- is called, but he is wonderfully clever, ments, and work-boxes; and looking out a child who must have been remarkthrough the flood of sunshine streaming able in some way; he, too, has spinal into the room we see the noble river disease and lies flat in his little bed. which almost seems to be flowing Charlie, the eldest boy already menbeneath the windows, and one may tioned, lies near the window; he has fancy is bearing the red and black a taste for drawing, and this is sedusteamers, the long slender yellow boats lously fostered. One wonders what flashing past like rays of light, the he thinks of as he lies there watching barges, and the smaller craft, up and the river run past with its ever varied down, for the amusement of the little freight of steamers and boats. He invalids, as they lie on their cots in is evidently a reflecting boy and old full view of the water.
for his age. He is also a great reader. In two cots set side by side in “I like books with plenty of moving the first room two little girls were in them," he said, “ fighting and such busy with their dolls. Their cots like, and about going to sea.” were strewn with playthings and a Poor fellow, he smiled and looked baby-house. They looked very sweet bright as he spoke, quite unconscious of and happy, like two birds in their the strange, almost grotesque contrast nests, and soon lost their shyness and to his state his words made. We lent grew interested in talking of their him A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy toys and pursuits.
Canoe. “Is it all true ? ” he eagerly Through the doorway between the asked ; " and did he really carry it rooms we came to five boys of about ?” different ages, and were greatly His case is a sad one. He was well struck by their intelligence and evi- two years ago and was at play, when dent contentment. It must indeed be a stone struck him in the back. Proa most blessed change to them, for bably there was disease in the system, patients are not taken in at this for he became ill at once and is now hospital who can be properly cared for paralysed to above the waist, but he in their own homes. One of the little can move his arms and is wonderfully girls up stairs, with a terrible spinal ingenious and clever in the way he complaint, never slept in a bed till she pastes prints and coloured pictures came to Cheyne Hospital; another child into his scrap-book-we heard no was accustomed to be left alone suffering murmur about his powerlessness. He all day, her father being a flower-seller said that at first he grew very weary in the streets and her mother an orange- of lying there. “Now I'm used to it." woman. It is touching to learn that One of us said, “And perhaps now these poor people bring regularly a shil- you would find it wearisome to get up ling a week each towards the support and move about?” of their child.
Charlie looked up with a humorous But there are sadder cases than these. twinkle in his dark eyes. “I shouldn't The baby of the Hospital, a smiling, mind trying, though !” he answered. happy darling of four years, was taken I t is really all but impossible to from his wretched drunken mother's realise how sadly they are afflicted; arms under the arches of Waterloo certainly there is nothing to call up any Bridge, with incurable disease in both idea of suffering. Of course their state hips, also in the spine. His dear little is variable, and pain must sometimes face is always full of smiles and pleasure come. Two of the five boys on this at being noticed.
floor are very quaint fellows, very much Next the “baby” is a bright intelli- alike and both blind of one eye. These gent fellow, with an answer for every two have a craving for English history thing you say. He is not much older stories, and are delighted to get a fresh
one told them, but they criticise freely and have too good a memory to make it safe to tell the same story twice over. One of these boys said he loved to watch the sunsets on the river.
I do not think one often finds, five well-educated boys, with whom one could spend an hour more pleasantly than with Charlie and his companions in the little Hospital ; selfishness and dulness seem entirely absent from the little community.
There is a harmonium in the room, and they told us eagerly that “ Sister” played on it. Dick and George, the two quaint boys, had each a toy-snake, one white and the other black, and bursts of merry laughter were excited by the fright my companion affected when these snakes were suddenly darted out at him. That was evidently a rare joke; even the two little quiet girls in their nests in the next room made out what was happening and laughed heartily.
The talk was so lively and the fun so sustained that one needed to look at the weight hanging from a little chain at the foot of each cot-the weight which keeps the wounded limb in position, and so obviates pain when the child moves—to realise that these were sufferers stricken by mortal disease, who would probably never walk again or enjoy any earthly life beyond the Hospital walls. Thrice blessed are they who have stepped in to soothe their pain.
Up stairs we found three little boys in the first room, and in the larger one, overlooking the river, were five girls. One of these, a girl of thirteen, named Sally, had been five years in hospital before she was given up as incurable and removed to Cheyne Walk. She has hip disease in a very severe form, but is as bright and happy as a bird. Her little rapt face listening to a story is worth going miles to see; as her interest grows a delicate Aush comes into the white, smiling face; it is extraordinary, and would be a good lesson to many imaginary invalids to see the vitality and energy of this child, whose strength
is literally draining away by disease, and who, we learned, must at last die from exhaustion; she shakes one's hand so heartily that it seems as if she must shake her little fragile body to bits. Poor, bright little Sally, no one could talk of a “happy release" in her case for she evidently enjoys her life; she is a character too, in her way, and made us laugh by her quaint repartees and sense of humour.
One of the great features of this little Hospital is its position. The view from the windows of the room we are now in is lovely. Beyond the old bridge is Battersea reach, with the frosted green church spire of Battersea at the bend of the river, and in the summer the light pleasure-boats and out-riggers, golden in the sunlight, skim past as if they were dragon Aies. The back windows, too, command some space, for there are long back gardens to these old houses, which give a plenteous area behind, and make the position a very healthy one.
One of the three little boys on this floor fell through a cellar opening and received injuries which ended in spinal disease; this poor child travelled all the way from the West of England in a sadly suffering state.
Two features strike one forcibly in all the wards. How constant, and skilful, and perfect must be the nursing which can keep these children so free from all appearance of suffering or discomfort, and how wonderful must be the sweetness and gentleness by which all is ordered for them. They seem perfectly at ease and at home, as if the Hospital were their own and all who come their visitors; one hears no complaint, no bickering, and yet there is none of the indifferent supineness of the ordinary invalid. They are as ready to be amused as healthy children are and are very grateful for kindness. Certainly they are powerful witnesses to the loving care and skill of their two kind and experienced nurses and the gentle lady superintendent, nor should their skilful doctor be forgotten.
When one sees this pleasant home, already secured the house adjoining full of peace and brightness, and “the little Hospital,” and if they can of every comfort and amusement get sufficient help to maintain eighteen that children's hearts can wish for, extra cots they can nurse double and then hears of the homes and no their present number of patients with homes that some of these children a small addition to their present staff knew before they were brought to of nurses. The applications for ad
Sheyne Walk, or to hospital life else- mittance into this happy little refuge where, one wonders why schemes like are numerous and most urgent, and this one have not been more often set no wonder, as those who take the on foot for poor little mortals beyond trouble to visit 46 Cheyne Walk the reach of probable cure, though not any week-day afternoon will doubtbeyond the reach of medical skill and less testify. It will be a sad pity careful nursing in the way of allevia- if the help needed for so good a work tion of suffering; for in several of the should not be found, and that its mercimost severely afflicted among these ful aid should be limited to so small children there is a manifest improve- a number, when one thinks of the ment in looks and in spirits; it is very hundreds of suffering children stilling interesting too to see the self-control in squalid houses, where they are often and refinement that has come over these thrust aside or wearied out of life by waifs and strays, and, as some cases the play and strife of their healthy have proved, cure has supervened when noisy brothers and sisters, even if no it had been declared hopeless.
worse treatment falls to their lot. And how was this good work begun? I began this paper by saying we Very simply, without any fuss or pub- crossed the threshold of “the little licity, by the simple quiet determina Hospital” with troubled hearts. We retion of two people longing to lessen crossed it with thankful ones; thanksome of the misery they saw and felt ful that there should be so much happito be around them; aided by friends ness within it, so much loving-kindness they have done their work well and to be found among us, and that such a thoroughly since June 1875, and now fountain of love and pity is flowing they are implored to extend it, and to there for these helpless little children. relieve more little sufferers discharged from other hospitals as incurables,
KATHARINE S. MACQUOID, from the miseries that await them in their homes.
But they cannot extend their work All communications should be adas they wish without further external dressed to the Honorary Secretary of help added to that which some of their the Hospital, Mrs. Wickham Flower, friends have given them. They have 47 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, S.W.
IN 1850 Charlotte Brontë paid a visit hardness, arbitrariness, and insularity, to Harriet Martineau atAmbleside, and Harriet Martineau is still a singular she wrote to her friends various em- and worthy figure among the conspicuphatic accounts of her hostess.“ With- ous personages of a generation that has out adopting her theories," Miss Brontë now almost vanished. Some will said, “I yet find a worth and greatness wonder how it was that her literary in herself, and a consistency, bene- performances acquired so little of pervolence, perseverance in her practice, manent value. Others will be pained such as wins the sincerest esteem and by the distinct repudiation of all affection. She is not a person to be theology, avowed by her with a simple judged by her writings alone, but and courageous directness that can rather by her own deeds and life, than scarcely be counted other than honourwhich nothing can be more exemplary able to her. But everybody will admit, or noble."
as Charlotte Brontë did, that though The division which Miss Brontë thus her books are not of the first nor of makes between opinions and character, the second rank, and though her antiand again between literary production theological opinions are to many and character, is at the root of any repugnant, yet behind books and opijust criticism of the two volumes of nions was a remarkable personality, autobiography which have just been a sure eye for social realities, a moral given to the public. Of the third courage that never flinched ; a strong volume, The Memorials, by Mrs. Chap- judgment, within its limits; a vigorous man, it is impossible to say anything self-reliance both in opinion and act, serious. Mrs. Chapman fought an which yet did not prevent a habit of admirable fight in the dark times of the most neutral self-judgment; the American history for the abolition of commonplace virtues of industry and slavery, but unhappily she is without energy devoted to aims too elevated, literary gifts; and this third volume and too large and generous, to be is one more illustration of the folly of commonplace; a splendid sincerity, a intrusting the composition of biography magnificent love of truth. And that to persons who have only the wholly all these fine qualities, which would irrelevant claim of intimate friend- mostly be described as manly, should ship, or kinship, or sympathy in public exist not in a man but a woman, and causes. The qualification for a bio in a woman who discharged admirably grapher is not in the least that he is such feminine duties as fell to her, fills a virtuous person, or a second cousin, up the measure of our interest in such or a dear friend, or a trusty colleague; a character. but that he knows how to write a book, has tact, style, taste, considerateness, Harriet Martineau was born at Nor senses of proportion, and a good eye wich in 1802, and she died, as we all for the beginnings and ends of things. remember, in the course of last summer The third volume, then, tells us little (1876). Few people have lived so long about the person to whom they relate. as three-quarters of a century, and The two volumes of autobiography tell undergone so little substantial change all that we can seek to know, and the of character, amid some very important reader who judges them in an equitable changes of opinion. Her family was spirit will be ready to allow that, when Unitarian, and family life was in her all is said that can be said of her case marked by some of that stiffness,