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THERE is little either new or original in the following pages. The object has been simply to state facts, and to give the various opinions of those who, from time to time, have turned their attention to the condition of English hospitals, and the formation of Sisterhoods. That there are, on the one hand, great defects in the existing state of our Hospitals, and that, on the other hand, there is an increasing desire amongst Protestants to introduce and revive the voluntary system of charitable services, which was extinguished at the Reformation, owing to the abuses which were found in some of the conventual establishments, cannot be doubted.
The question, why the attempts repeatedly made in England have hitherto failed, will not here be entered into. It is enough to state, that nothing yet attempted has reached the evils complained of in our Hospitals. The end for which these remarks and statements are made, will be fully answered if any one should be induced by their deficiencies to advocate the cause in question more ably, or if any one can devise schemes to
supply what is wanted. Many inaccuracies will doubtless be found as regards the Religious Orders, as they have no annual reports or printed statements; their histories are few and imperfect, and often do not reach down to the present time. A very useful and interesting work might be written, giving an account of the various active Orders which exist, but here it was only possible to give a brief account of those connected with Hospitals. The accounts of the Deaconesses on the Continent may be relied upon, taken, as they are, from the last Annual Reports.
March 15th, 1854.
HOSPITALS AND SISTERHOODS.
WANTS OF ENGLISH HOSPITALS.
OUR English Hospitals form a prominent feature in our county towns, as well as in London. They are usually well situated, and the interior arrangement admits of everything that can conduce to restoration of health. No stranger can walk through them without being struck by the cleanliness and ventilation which is almost universally to be found. We have only to examine the Annual Reports, to see what thousands have availed themselves of these noble institutions, and have been thus restored to their friends in health.
Such is the outward appearance; but the object of these pages is to state the result of an investigation into the spiritual condition of our hospitals: for, in this land of Christian privileges, we should surely not be satisfied with the fact that thousands are healed of their bodily infirmities, without inquiring how far their immortal souls have been tended at the same time.
It does not require a long experience of hospital visiting, to become aware of the extreme importance of such a field for labour; and many are the touching instances which occur, of the need of instruction and the blessing of sympathy.
Many are brought in wholly ignorant of the first