Abraham-men

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Abraham-men

A class of beggars who claimed to have been discharged from the “Abraham ward” at Bedlam (now the Bethlem Royal Hospital) Hospital for lunatics during the Stuart and Tudor periods in England.
References in classic literature ?
An episode of humour or kindness touches and amuses him here and there--a pretty child looking at a gingerbread stall; a pretty girl blushing whilst her lover talks to her and chooses her fairing; poor Tom Fool, yonder behind the waggon, mumbling his bone with the honest family which lives by his tumbling; but the general impression is one more melancholy than mirthful.
The gentleman himself was at that time on horse-back, at a little distance from them; and hearing the gun go off, he immediately made towards the place, and discovered poor Tom; for the gamekeeper had leapt into the thickest part of the furze-brake, where he had happily concealed himself.
"It is too bad; but you ought to do it because it 's right, and never mind being paid," began Polly, trying to be moral, but secretly sympathizing heartily with poor Tom.
Here was a chance to prove that she was n't; besides, poor Tom had no one else to help him; so she came up to the sofa where he lay, and nodded reassuringly, as she put a soft little hand on either side of the damaged head.
It struck poor Tom, point foremost, and with stunning violence, right between the shoulders in the middle of his back.
Cicero, when he buried his darling and only daughter, had a heart as full of honest grief as poor Tom's,--perhaps no fuller, for both were only men;--but Cicero could pause over no such sublime words of hope, and look to no such future reunion; and if he had seen them, ten to one he would not have believed,--he must fill his head first with a thousand questions of authenticity of manuscript, and correctness of translation.
"Please sir, the chimney wants sweeping," said poor Tom Kitten.
Thus poor Tom, though he saw very clearly through Maggie's illusions, was not without illusions of his own, which were to be cruelly dissipated by his enlarged experience at King's Lorton.
He was jocose with Tom at table, and corrected his provincialisms and his deportment in the most playful manner; but poor Tom was only the more cowed and confused by this double novelty, for he had never been used to jokes at all like Mr.
Talking of poor Tom and Maggie Tulliver brings to my mind a saying of George Eliot's in connection with this subject of melancholy.
This one was Harry's own particular invention and pet; he scarcely ever used it except when hard pressed, but then out it came, and as sure as it did, over went poor Tom. He thought about that fall at his meals, in his walks, when he lay awake in bed, in his dreams, but all to no purpose, until Harry one day in his open way suggested to him how he thought it should be met; and in a week from that time the boys were equal, save only the slight difference of strength in Harry's favour, which some extra ten months of age gave.
It was not till four days afterwards that the good dame sent for him, and produced the precious letter and some wax, saying, "O Master Brown, I forgot to tell you before, but your letter isn't sealed." Poor Tom took the wax in silence and sealed his letter, with a huge lump rising in his throat during the process, and then ran away to a quiet corner of the playground, and burst into an agony of tears.