Paris abounds with charitable societies and institutions. Until the latter part of the last century, the city was full of objects of compassion, the blind, the deaf and dumb, the sick and suffering. The prisons too, and the madhouses, were scenes of cruelty and violence. But a controversy arose upon the whole matter, and under Louis XVI. four new hospitals were ordered to be erected, but in the excitement which preceded the great revolution, they were not completed. After the revolution the subject came up from time to time to the consideration of the governing powers, and new hospitals were erected, and great improvements made in the old ones. At the beginning of this century, they were placed under the direction of a general administration. All the civil hospitals and the different institutions connected with them, are under the control of an administrative committee. The regulations of the hospitals are nearly the same as they are in London and New York. In cases of severe wounds, persons are admitted into the hospitals without any order, by simply presenting themselves at the doors. Medical advice is given at some of the hospitals on certain days to poor persons. The hospitals of Paris are of three kinds; the general, open to all complaints for which a special hospital is not provided; the special hospitals, for the treatment of special diseases; and the alms-houses. The hospitals support more than twelve thousand aged men and women, receive more than eighty thousand patients, and have constantly under treatment six thousand persons.
Among the hospitals I may mention Bricetre, situated on the road to Fontainbleau. It is upon very high ground, and is the healthiest of all the hospitals from its position and arrangements. It is used as an asylum for poor old men, and for male lunatics. The old men have every encouragement to work, for they receive pay for their labor, slight, of course, and the money is devoted to giving them better food and clothes than the usual hospital allowance, which is some soup, one pound and a quarter of bread, four ounces of meat, vegetables, cheese, and a pint of wine each day. When seventy years old, the quantity of wine is doubled, and when a person has been thirty years an inmate of the house, the quantity of everything is doubled. Three thousand beds are made up for the indigent, and eight hundred for lunatics. The latter, of course, occupies a distinct part of the building.
There are two hospitals appropriated entirely to the use of men who have no hope of immediate cure, and are troubled with chronic ailments. The buildings are large and airy, and will accommodate four or five hundred.