Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/685

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
665
THE STORY OF A COLONY FOR EPILEPTICS.

their means. This necessitates their being divided into classes; and it was found very difficult, when they were all living together, to provide first and second class patients with the comforts for which they paid, without exciting the jealousy of the third-class patients, many of whom are admitted free. And, what was much more serious, it was proved that people subject only to occasional attacks suffered severely from being brought into close contact with those who were already sunk in idiocy. Thus, there were strong reasons for making a radical change in the organization of the Labor Home; and, after much anxious consideration, its managers, principally by the influence of Dr. von Bodelschwingh, decided on a bold move. They resolved to give up the large new house entirely to the female patients, and to provide other homes for the boys and the men.

On one side of the Bethel estate the great Teutoburgian Forest stretches for miles away, forming a barrier, as it were, between it and the outside world. The forest is traversed by little valleys, each separated from its fellows by high ridges densely covered with trees. Before the colony was started the only human habitations to be found in these valleys were a few small homesteads and some Jäger-huts. Although, here and there, little patches had been cleared, no serious attempt had been made to bring the forest land under cultivation, the amount of labor required for the work being too great for any ordinary capitalist to be willing to undertake it. The Bethel institution, however, occupies a different position from that of an ordinary capitalist; its difficulty is to provide work for its workers, not workers for its work. Thus the forest offered it the very thing it stood most in need of—an almost boundless field for the employment of the unskilled labor of its epileptic patients. The land was supposed to be of little value; the managers of Bethel, therefore, secured upon easy terms the two valleys which lay nearest their estate, together with the houses and other buildings which stood there. Hither, by degrees, they transferred all their male patients. In compliance with the strongly expressed wish of the men, instead of building a few large houses for them to live in, it was decided to utilize the little homesteads which were already there and to erect others of a similar kind. The patients themselves were set to work, and soon quite an important village sprang up. There are cottages for the old, for the young, and for the middle-aged; for the mentally or physically feeble, and for the mentally or physically strong. Some are reserved entirely for imbeciles, while others, remote from the rest, are set aside for the hopelessly insane. There are, in fact, homes for people in all stages of the disease, homes, too, for people of all ranks and stations; for one of the great advantages of the cottage system now in force in Bethel—