Lord Percy And His Acquaintances Make An Excursion To Watch The Lunatickes At Bethlem Royal Hospital In The Year Of Our Lord 1610

by Christine Vial

It’s all rather jolly here at Bedlam, watching the Lunatickes growl and groan
and writhe and rattle their Chaines, especially with a drop of hard liquor
in one’s Flask to keep out the chill and a Pomander against the mighty strong Stinke.
Some of the fairer sex recoil a little – those with more tender Hearts –
though other Ladies have Hearts of stone and are as tough as my old riding Boots.
They enjoy warning us young Gentlemen that this is how we will all end up
if we fail to curtail our Immorality and far too plentiful (though so enjoyable) Vices.

It’s a strange business that the Lunatickes were once the same species as us.
They seem as distant, as different, as the black and shrunken Hottentots’ heads
my ancient Uncle brought back from his travels and used to frighten my Brother and me
when we were but lads. It is true, though, that many a family of good breeding
has a Lunatick hidden away. Our Beasts are more likely to be held in private care and captivity,
rather than have the misfortune to be exhibited half-naked and raving as a public Spectacle.

That reminds me that last Week we all went to see the Lyons at The Tower of London
which was a rather disappointing Show. The exotic Beasts seemed cowered and all
to be suffering from the Mange. This motley Crowd are more terrifying and more entertaining.
Next week it’s the firework display at Artillery Gardens which will suit the tender- hearted Ladies
though a bit tame for us bolder and wilder Gentlemen. We like a bit of a thrill.
I am careful, though, never to look at any of the Lunatickes directly. You never know
what you may see looking back at you, reflected in the bright Mirror of their staring Eye.