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The Ladies' Fair

Creator: n/a
Date: March 1855
Publication: The Opal
Source: New York State Library

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What mean these entwinings of laurels in wreaths and these busy groups at Asylumia? What spirit of the South is awakening to exertion and industry in the multiform processes of mind struggling in no vain effort of rivalry to appear in the mart of a Fair? The South, the South is going to celebrate its intellectual Christmas. As the devout Christian adorns the church edifice with the freshness of youth, so these adornments of Asylumia indicate the new rising of the sun of "science and religion" in the walks and haunts of sorrowing madness.


It has been long used to exercise the minds of men and women confined in Asylums in the varied arts that appertain unto healthful states, and their product hath been subservient to the high purposes of intellectual refinement -- in establishing libraries, procuring instruments of music and of taste, in enlarging the duties and spheres of official responsibility, and in extending the manipulations of art into the very heart of the region of madness. The mystery of management in such large establishments -- the controlling of so much irresponsibility to some good and apparently valuable purpose -- requires no solution nor elucidation, for it speaks for itself; and as one person of no means, weak and alone, and irresponsible in conscience and mind, is a poor offset to the mighty engines here in motion -- still the redeeming spirit of philanthropic effort classified and systematized produces a confidence in the spirit of virtue and its concomitants, that there will never be a perversion of objects, interests, or duties -- but that here there will ever predominate the principle of justice and mercy.


Our own wish for Asylums is that they should be retired -- that they should be not the gaze of idle curiosity, or the opened way to the infirmities of frailty, but a repose for the "dead in trespasses and sins" incident to the unstrung harp of thousand strings, which is kept in tune by the efforts of medical men. We are reconciled to the idea of showing up the approaches of intellect to its pristine state, provided it were always master of itself -- always its true representative -- and here generally we presume it does its own acting -- its own cogitating -- and not like a master of an academy whose pupil wished him to correct his composition to send home as a trial of his capacity, and every line erased and a substitute therefor from the rector. Original they are -- those beautiful painted roses, and that etching, those stitchings, and carvings, and writings, and printings, and drawings, and stands, and all thereon are Asylumian in design and execution. Those artificial flower too; but those bouquets are from the green-house -- the Phoenician green-house, with its best gardener since the house was "up," presents it beauties and charms; and behind some of its prettiest are the tender plants -- original they, and cared of God -- flowers of immortal and perennial worth. Some may have faded a little on earth, but we trust and hope the beneficent will gather them unto the celestial fruits in the paradise of perfection. We miss some who have adorned the marts by their taste and their exhibitions, by genius worthy of the special notice of better judges than we are -- sisters of devotion, of matchless skill, superlative wisdom, and chastened excellence, refined by the graces and ornaments of meekness and quietness, and destined to bloom "beyond the stars" in the sweet fields where angels deck the groves. The stars of the South, it seems, still twinkle, and their planet's lustre is divine, and will be of more resplendent beauty in the future revolutions of the orb.


The legislature of the State of New York deputed a committee to visit the Asylum. Col. May, of Alleghany, and Mr. Van Etten, of Albany, Mr. David L. Dodge, of Cayuga, who had been their forerunner, and in company with Dr. Henderson and son, of Whitesborough, our vigilant and courteous Superintendent, Hon. Mr. Wetmore, Hon.C. A. Mann, Dr. Bissell, Col. Graham and Mr. Childs, visited, during the Fair, the various departments of the vast arrangement -- the curious ventilating and warming apparatus - the garden and appendages; and -- the fathers of the household seemed to prognosticate that prosperity seemed to attend the doings of Asylumia -- and the boundaries of the sane and insane world directly observed by the sagacious visitors, although we feel ourselves unable to define them.


There were some pretty views of Europe brought over by Mrs. Innes and husband which attracted great attention; and among the visitors, were the Rev. Dr. Fisher, lady and daughter, with Hon. Mrs. Mann, who were eye-witnesses of some of the wonders of the tunnel under the Thames river -- the eighth wonder of the world. The Rev. gentleman is the minister of the Reformed Dutch Church in Utica, and was formerly a trustee of Columbia College, and hath seen some little service in the church and state. He hath honored the Asylum with a visit before, and we hope and trust his visit may be agreeable, useful and honorable in the parish of central New York, adorned as it is with so much science, talent and religion; and although we write this on our Churchman, we, nevertheless, hope that the associate and friend of our late lamented Bishop Wainwright will find congenial spirits in the beautiful valley in propagating the faith once delivered to the saints, and in promoting the interests of "science and religion," among the seminaries of learning and institutions of humanity, where many have left a record of valuable service and of hereditary usefulness no change can blight or destroy; and where our sisters of Asylumia -- some gone to heaven, bless them be yond our eye -- whom we knew but to love, nor would we name but to praise -- have displayed the idubitable -sic- evidence of abilities to contribute to the "special and general anatomy" of human life, by the arts prognostic of future weal. Comparisons are invidious, and are not promotive of the general benefit; but particular exertions, as developed in the exhibitions of the late Fair, are ever most honorable, and the names of the contributors should be known and published, as if in competition for that honor, the world's applause.

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