“I am going to the balmy ”—i.e. to “Balmy sleep;” one
of Dick Swiveller's pet phrases. (Dickens: Old Curiosity Shop.)
(To put on the
). In prison slang means to feign
insanity; and the “Balmy Ward” is the prison ward in which the insane,
real or feigned, are confined.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894