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the character and fate of the convict Birdsell. But whatever may have been the natural disposition of the monomaniac, or the nature of his delusion, it can never be pronounced absolutely safe, to allow him unrestrained liberty. His hallucination may continue the same, but the actions which it originates, may vary from day to day. He may alter his plan of operations, while his objects remain unchanged. Passions the most opposite may possess him in successive hours. The flame which lights them up is not from without, but lies smouldering in the recesses of his own bosom. Hence his conduct cannot be foretold. He sets prediction at defiance, and at the moment when the watchmen around him cry "all's well,” he may be meditating outrages of the bloodiest die.' Western Journal, pp. 57–59.
He farther observes,
If this variety of mental alienation cannot constitute a valid defence, it can only be from the character of its remote cause. But I would ask, whether the court and jury have a right to travel behind the testimony which establishes the insanity, to inquire into its causes, and estimate the culpability of [the] non compos, not by the degree of his alienation, but the criminality of those causes? I think they have no such right. But if it is correct for them to do it in one case, it is equally so in all others; and whenever insanity is offered in defence, its causes should be ascertained and made to determine the guilt of the accused. This, I apprehend, would be a new principle in jurisprudence. Let us look at the practice to which it would lead Mania a potu is, sometimes, the consequence of the use of opium; and frequently results from daily stimulation with ardent spirits, without their being ever taken to the extent of intoxication. Now all the acts of a non compos from either of these causes must be pardoned, because there is nothing criminal in such use of stimulants. Moreover, drunkenness itself is not unlawful, and cannot, therefore, impart a character of criminality to the actions of him in whom it may excite insanity. There are, however, many other causes of this malady which are criminal, such as gambling, duelling, and prostitution, all of which should be inquired into, and when found real, must, if the principle is adhered to, be made to impart criminality to the actions of [the] non compos; while he would be exempt from punishment, if his derangement arose from causes not immoral. But this, I venture to assert, was never done in any country. The truth is, that the immunity from punishment, results from the insanity itself, and not from the nature of the causes which produced it. Further, although Mania a potu is essentially a temporary disease, it often happens, where there is a predisposition, that insanity is permanently established by intemperance. Now, in such a case, referring to its exciting cause,
the individual should be held responsible, throughout the whole of his after life; but the law expressly exempts him from all punishment, save the confinement which his own personal safety, not less than that of society, imperiously requires.' pp. 61, 62.
We subjoin the following views of a writer in the · Boston Medical and Surgical Journal,' relating to the same case.
"The law which holds the madman exempt from the punishment of crimes committed under the influence of his derangement, is obviously founded in reason and humanity. This immunity, however, does not, according to the common law, extend to the drunken man who commits a crime while under the excitement of liquor. There are several reasons for the severity of the law on this point, some of which respect the criminality of the evil doer, and others have a principal reference to the security of the public. We will endeavor to present these to our readers in a distinct form :
'1. Drunkenness is itself a crime, and he who alleges it as an excuse, attempts to take advantage of his own wrong. " The law,” says Blackstone, “will not suffer any man to privilege one crime by another.” The language of Lord Coke on this point is still stronger. “The drunkard,” says he, “is voluntarius dæmon, and whatever ill he dcth, his drunkenness shall aggravate it. Nam omne crimen ebrietas et incendit et detegit.”
«2. The drunkard deprives himself of reason, knowing that when so deprived, he is liable to commit violence on the persons of others. The first crime, therefore, includes the consequences which result from it. Such is the language of the Roman law : “Culpâ non carent, quod inebriari se passi sint.” And again : “Quid quod nec dolo careant,”—they cannot even be acquitted of evil intention ; “si non simpliciter ebrii, id est tales qui præter consuetudinem vino capti sunt, dum suas aut vini vires ignorabant, aut inviti compellebantur cum strenuis paria bibendo facere; sed vel ebriosi qui ignari non sunt quo ruere soleant vino victi, vel etiam insolentes qui hanc ob causam largius bibunt, ut audentius in injuriam eant." (Voet in Pandectas, xlviii. 10. 1.)
3. If the law were otherwise, drunkenness might be pretended, in order to commit crime with impunity, and a fraud of this nature could not, without great difficulty, be detected.
4. The same state might voluntarily be incurred, for the double purpose of exciting the courage to commit a crime, and of escaping its penalties; and thus the hardened villain would be furnished with direct means to elude justice. Such is the character of the wretches described by the author above quoted; “insolentes qui hanc ob causam largius bibunt, ut audacius in injuriam eant."
“Two general propositions, then, are involved in the law on this subject: 1. That in using liquor to excess, knowing its
possible consequences, the drunkard makes himself answerable for these consequences. 2. That the public welfare requires that he should be held thus answerable. We have then to consider the correctness of these principles in themselves, and their application to the case of delirium tremens.
'1. If it be true, then, that he who indulges in liquor makes himself responsible for all its effects, the maniac a potu can no more claim immunity, than he who acts under the immediate influence of intoxication. We cannot escape this conclusion by saying, that the delirium in question is a remote and distinct effect of the indulgence; that it occurs as the sequel of long-continued and repeated excess; or that it often, nay generally, happens in consequence of withdrawing the very stimulus to which the drunkard is accustomed. It is still among the effects of this vice; an evil which subsists in virtue of intemperance, and which would not subsist without it. If, then, in the phrensy of his delirium, the unfortunate subject of it commits murder, this too was among those possible consequences of his original excess, for wbich be made himself responsible. But is it not obvious that this mode of reasoning proves too much ? Suppose the drunkard to have passed through the successive paroxysms of ebriety, and even the short-lived mania of delirium tremens, without committing any serious act of violence on the persons of his fellowmen. A darker doom now awaits him. The repeated shocks which his reason has received have finally overpowered it. He becomes permanently insane, and while in this state, commits an outrage on the person, or takes the life, of some one unhappily exposed to his fury. Would it be said that the action was not excused by his insanity, because he brought that insanity on himself? Such an argument never could be listened to with patience, either within a court of justice or without it. By the late reports of madhouses in England, it will be seen, that a very considerable proportion of their inmates have become so from this indulgence. All these, then, are moral agents, and responsible for the crimes they perpetrate. Nor is this all. The victim of gaming, of debauchery, of unnatural crime, are equally in this sense the authors of their own misfortunes; and shall we add to this the imputation of guilt, when their phrensy has inspired them to the commission of acts, in their nature violent and unlawful? We freely confess that such a sentiment seems to us to violate the plainest dictates of humanity, and we are not aware that it is sanctioned by the laws of any civilized nation.
"2. Are the considerations of expediency, on which the drunken man is made responsible, equally applicable to the subject of Mania a polu? The reasons for the law, arising out of these considerations, are, as abovementioned, the ease with which drunkenness may be simulated, and the possibility of its being induced for the sake of committing crime. Neither of these reasons has any application to the case of delirium tremens. With regard to the first, we venture to assert, that there is no form of mania, the counterfeiting of which is attended with more serious difficulty than the one in question. It is a disease induced by peculiar causes, and accompanied and marked by appropriate symptoms, some of which it is utterly impossible to simulate. It is a disease which comes on slowly, with gradually increasing violence, until it arrives at its acme, which often does not happen for many days. The task of one who should attempt to counterfeit its gradual progress and its eventual paroxysm, is beyond almost any effort of deception which the mind can conceive. To suppose, then, that it would be feigned by one intending to commit an outrage, as the most convenient means of doing so with impunity, is utterly extravagant. As respects the second reason, we bold it still less applicable to the case under consideration. This state could not be induced at the will of the intentional criminal; nor if it could, and the zeal of the individual was sufficient to induce him to hazard his life in such a project, could it be subjected to his control, and made subservient to his views. The notion of design, therefore, in its production, is entirely too absurd for serious refutation.
“But if it is said we must prove the maniac a potu to have been actually insane, in order to entitle him to the consideration claimed, the demand is unquestionably reasonable and just. Whether the prisoner was or was not so, in any particular case, is matter of evidence, and must be decided by proper testimony. In regard to this point, there is an important distinction, which has been often made, and which is laid down with sufficient precision by Dr. Drake. Unless it appear in evidence by the actions of the prisoner, that in regard to a particular subject or train of ideas, his reason was actually perverted, and farther, that the murder, or other outrage, was the consequence of this particular perversion,---was committed in accordance with the false premises and erroneous notions thus adopted,—unless both these points were clearly made out, he should be held guilty. On all but the particular subjects of his phrensy, the maniac is a moral agent, and responsible to the laws; and if he perpetrates a criminal action, aware of its nature, and conscious of the outrage he commits, he makes himself a subject for the penalty of these laws.
"We would add one remark, which, though not essential to the argument, will tend to illustrate still more strongly the distinction between delirium tremens, and the paroxysm of intoxication. It has been said that drunkenness does not impair the judgment, except as it inflames the passions, and exhibits them in a true though stronger light. As, then, violent passion from moral causes furnishes no excuse for the actions committed under its influence, similar excitement from a physical cause ought to be viewed in the same light. "Ebrietas omne crimen incendit et detegit,” and if the drunkard is only exhibiting his true character, stripped of the disguise which in his sober intervals he is able to throw over it, he is not the less a moral agent, and answerable for his conduct. Something like this is a strain of argument, adduced seriously, we presume, by the learned commentator on the Pandects before quoted. “Etsi vero tale propositum talisque machinatio præmeditata non est in illis qui impetu peccant, non tamen dolus in universum deest; nam et homicida impetu peccat, non modo cum justi sed et cum injusti doloris impetu, et sub iræ motu ad cædem procedit.” (Voet xlviii. 10. 1.)
Whatever may be thought of the soundness of this philosophy in view of the ebrious paroxysm, it is evident that it does not at all apply to the subject of delirium tremens. He exhibits nothing of that exaggerated state of the passions, of that boisterous violence which marks the drunken man; he is timid, watchful, and jealous; and much more disposed to apprehend injury from others, than wantonly to inflict it on them. Such was the state of the individual in the case alluded to, and surely there is none which renders a man more truly and deservedly an object of compassion.
Judging of the case, then, on these principles, we have no hesitation in saying, that the act of the prisoner was the act of a madman. The idea which constantly presented itself to his mind, was that of a plot formed against his life, which placed him in continual and imminent danger. Under this delusion, he threatened his wife with a speedy punishment, if she did not desist from her purpose. From these premises te drew the conclusion, that the destruction of his supposed enemies was an act of self-defence, and on this conclusion he acted. No case of mania could be more perfect in all its parts, or present a stronger claim to forbearance and mercy.
“We conclude, then, that the law which makes the drunken man responsible for his actions is, both in its principle and its policy, wholly inapplicable to the case of the maniac a potu; and that the latter is entitled to all the privileges which madness, un
any circumstances, can confer on its unhappy subject. We would add what we consider an equally important inference, that the treatment of this form of mania ought to be regulated on the same principles as that of any other. The case above cited is a melancholy proof that maniacs of this description require the constant vigilance of friends, to prevent them from doing mischief to themselves or those near them. We are satisfied that the amount of care bestowed is in many instances wholly insufficient, and that great hazards are frequently incurred from indulging the notion that the subjects of this delirium are altogether harmless.