Nineteenth-century religious ideology is adamant about the spiritual outcome that should arise from the experience of illness: “The time of sickness is a season when every afflicted person should resolve, with the assistance of God's grace that if his health be restored, he will ever afterwards live a truly religious life” (Church of England Tract Society, Manual of Instructions 8). However, sickroom visitors consistently report that, even when a patient makes such a resolution, physical recovery often coincides with a spiritual relapse. As one writer laments, “The friends of religion, whose warning and consoling voices are heard at the bed of sickness, are often compelled to witness the dispersion of their fairest prospects of good, at the period of returning health” (Fry, A Present for the Convalescent vii-viii).
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