Imagens das páginas

lésion du jugement, sans déraison." Dr. must be shown that it is necessarily and in. Hitch, superintendent of the County Asy- variably so; otherwise such delusions as lum at Gloucester, speaks of some of his existed in the mind of M'Naughten, accompatients as "insane in conduct but not in panied as they were by no symptoms of ideas.” In short, the more the phenomena moral insanity, anterior to the offence for of madness have been studied, the less does which he was tried, are not more conclu. it appear that the definition and test laid sive proofs of irresponsible insanity than down by Locke, and adopted by many the visions of Swedenborg, or the apparigreat lawyers and medical writers, will hold tions which have haunted men of uinques

. good in all cases. According to that pro- tionable sanity. Dr. Prichard adds, and position, mental delusion, or the belief of we fully concur in the remark, that "all some unreal and merely imaginary fact, is that has been said upon this subject the invariable concomitant and criterion of will tend to confirm the general observainsanity. “Delusion,” said Lord Erskine, tion, that the attention of those who have " is the true character of insanity.” “ The hitherto investigated cases of insanity has belief of facts which no rational person been too much directed to the particular would have believed," said Sir John Nicholl, error which clouds the understanding, or " is insane delusion, and where there is de- to the disordered state of the intellect or lusion of mind there is insanity." Thus judging and reasoning powers, whereas mental delusions have been made the ne- in reality it is of the moral state, the discessary test of moral madness. We may position, and habits of the individual conrefer the reader to Dr. Prichard's excellent cerned that the principal account ought work for a large collection of cases and to be taken .... The existence of halluvery ingenious and acute argument by cination or illusion is a very important which he demonstrates the fallacy of this part of legal investigation in cases of innotion, and establishes the fact that what sanity; but is chiefly important in indihe terms moral insanity may exist without cating a great probability that with such a any indications of mental aberration at all, phenomenon moral perversion co-exists." either because those aberrations are very We contend that it is a fatal and a very deeply concealed, or because the logical mischievous fallacy to expand delusion of powers of the understanding are not affect. motive into unconscious and irresponsible ed by the disease. But although some insanity. In the first place, the motives of writers have taken this view of the case, crime are not admissible at all, under any and have held that mental delusion is not other circumstances, as a palliation of an invariably necessary to prove moral insan. offence. Our feelings may be very differity (thus admitting the distinction which ent towards a man who has lain in wait to we have adopted between the motive and the assassinate his benefactor, or another man act), yet even Georget appears disposed 10 who has lain in wait to take a sanguinary assume, as we think too easily, that “par. revenge for the most cruel wrongs; but tial insanity or monomania excludes the the act is the same. We loathe the foridea of criminality or culpability, and mer criminal; we may possibly pity the takes away from the patient all responsi- latter; for the one has given way to the bility of his actions, whatever may be the worst passions of our nature, and the other nature and extent of the illusions under to an impulse which the best might share : which he may labor.” To a proposition but both have yielded to the suggestions of thus broadly stated we presume that no law. crime and to the shedding of blood; both yer would yield an unqualified assent. But it have violated the fundamental law of God is not a litile remarkable that this sweeping and society ; both have incurred the law's assertion proceeds from a writer who has severest penalty. No jury of Englishmen distinctly admitted in a former part of his would so elude the dictates of their own work that errors of the will do not invaria- consciences as to acquit a murderer, bebly imply errors of the judgment. This cause they could not but feel that he had was precisely the language of the medical received extreme provocation. If the pro. witnesses on M‘Naughten's trial. Dr. Pri vocation was extreme, the greater was the chard observes with more caution, that patience and resistance required of him. "partial illusion of the understanding or But the same jury will acquit him, it is monomania is generally accompanied by supposed, if the criminal has acted under the state which constiiutes moral insani. the influence of imaginary provocation; if

Such is undoubtedly the case ; but he has been so deluded by aberration of in order to rely implicitly on the rule which mind as to suppose that an innocent indi. has been so peremptorily laid down, it vidual whom he never say before was the


head of a conspiracy against him; if, in is urged, the causes should be particularly inshort, the motive of the crime be an insane quired into; the evidence in support of the delusion.

presence of moral insanity ought to be clear Into the appreciation of such motives it

and convincing." is most dangerous for juries to enter. No

Yet in this passage no attempt is made real evidence can be given on the subject. to show what necessary relation (if any) Vague surmises must take the place of subsists between the delusions of the mind facis; and if deluded motives or insane ob- and the perversity or infirmity of the will ; jects are to be received as grounds of ac. nor was any such attempt made by any one quittal, there is scarcely one crime in ten of the witnesses on M‘Naughten's trial. It which is not committed with such a strange was shown that he entertained certain mor. neglect of all ordinary precautions and bid notions that things existed which had such an absence of motives as might sugo no real existence at all; but not a single gest the incoherence of lunacy. In most. attempt was made to prove that he labore cases crimes (confining our remark to cd under any infirmity of the will whatsocrimes against the person) are the effect ever. The medical men contend that the of criminal impulse. That such impulses presence of these morbid notions in the exist in the heart of man is in itself suffi- mind places all the actions of the unfortuciently strange, when we remember how nate person who entertains them “quite contrary they are to all the happier and beyond his moral control.” In other words, higher emotions and sympathies of his every crime that was ever committed heart. But they do exist; and not in the suadente diabolo is to go unpunished, proinsane alone. Nay, it cannot be contended vided the devil has but made himself sufthat their presence amounts even to an in- ficiently heard. And upon this mere as. dication of insanity, until they have as. sertion of the prevailing doctrine in the sumed some very monstrous and extrava. Scotch medical schools, it was admitted gant character, implying a total uncon- that this delusion was at once irresistible, sciousness of or disbelief in the most pal- and with equal cogency of reasoning, that pable physical truths. At that point only it impelled M‘Naughten, because he conshould we be disposed to admit that mor- ceived himself to be persecuted by somebid delusions imply moral irresponsibility. body, to take some other body's life. The medical witnesses on the late trial ap- The whole point at issue was thus aspear unanimously to have given it as their sumed. The real question was, whether, opinion, that as it was proved without dif- entertaining as he did this delusion, ficulty that M‘Naughten was a prey to cer. M'Naughten was so incapable of exercistain delusions, therefore "any act growing ing discrimination and self-restraint, that out of these delusions was quite irresisti- this murder was committed by him under ble ;" for that “whatever act the delusion a fatal impulse, without even the conscious. compels him to is quite beyond his moralness that he was violating the law and docontrol.” We might fill a page with repe. ing what exposed him to its severest penaltitions of this proposition uttered by nume. ties. Be it observed, that the act for which rous witnesses in nearly the same words; he was tried had no necessary or even apbut we do not the less contest the logic, parent connexion whatever with the alleged the law, and indeed the common sense of delusion. There is no conceivable act of their concurrent assertion. So also Mr. folly or wickedness which he might not Winslow, in speaking of what is termed have committed with impunity on the same moral insanity :

ground. Did then this delusion impel him “With reference to the moral culpability and to any or every act indiscriminately? Was responsibility of persons affected by this form of he equally unable to resist every temptation ? insanity, much, pro and con, has been said. Was his moral control gone ? Far from it: Many have questioned the existence of a state of derangement, confined solely to the moral on all other matters he showed a great deal perceptions and powers. There is no doubt of more prudence and discretion than we are the occurrence of this form of insanity, and when wont to find south of the Tweed ; and it its presence is clearly established, the person so would be ridiculous to suppose, from the unhappily afflicted ought not to be considered as evidence produced at the Old Bailey, that a responsible agent. In most cases, he has no any jury, empanelled under a commission power over the train of thought; his will is dis- de lunatico, would have deprived him of the eased; he has no motive for the criine; he struggles for a considerable time against the dis- management of his affairs. eased impulse, till at last it overpowers him,

Whether men yield to the temptations and he rushes upon a fellow creature and takes of ordinary life, the delusions of a disoraway his life. When such an exculpatory plealdered mind, or the frenzy of criminal pas


sion, it is clear that the acts which ensue/verged into general insanity, still marked with are the result of a certain infirmity of the this predominant character. "He eventually died will, unless it be supposed that they are raving-mad, committed in total ignorance or forgetful-ious, sanguine temperament, of simple and reg.

“Dr. Michu knew a country-woman of a bilness, not only of the laws of duty and con: ular habite, but reserved and sullen in her manscience, but of the positive laws of this and ners.

She had been ten days confined with ber all other countries. But even in cases of first child, when suddenly, having fixed her eyes sanguinary monomania, several of which upon it, she was seized with a desire of strangare collected in the volumes before us, ling it. The idea made her shudder; she carnothing is more common or more affecting der to get rid of so horrid a thought. The cries

ried the infant to the cradle, and went out, in orthan the efforts of the enseebled will to re of the baby, who required nourishment, recalled sist the suggestions of the distempered mind. her to the house, when she experienced a still

“Dr. Zimmerman relates the case of a pea. more ardent impulse to destroy it. She hastensant born at Krumback, in Swabia, who was of- ed away again, haunted by the idea of committen attacked with an irresistible inclination to ting so horrible a crime. She raised her eyes to commit murder. He felt the approach of the fit heaven, went to church, and offered up a fervent many hours, and sometimes a whole day, before prayer for divine assistance. The whole day its invasion, and, from the commencement of was passed by this unhappy mother in a conthis presentiment, he begged to be secured and stant struggle between the desire of takingaway chained, that he might not commit some dread- the life of her infant, and the dread of yielding ful crime. When the fit comes on,' he says, to the impulse. She concealed her agitation un"I feel under the necessity to kill, even were it a til evening, when her confessor, a respectable child.' His parent, whom he tenderly loved, he old man, was the first to receive her confidence

. declared would be the first victim of this mur- He soothed her feelings and recommended her derous propensity

My mother,' he cried to take medical advice. When we arrived at out, with a frightful voice, save yourself, her house, adds Dr. Michu, 'she appeared or I must kill you. Before the fit he complains glooiny and depressed, and ashamed of her sitof being, exceedingly sleepy ; without being uation. Being reminded of the tenderness due able to sleep, he feels depressed, and experien- by a mother to her child, she replied, 'I know ces slight twitchings in the limbs. During the how much a mother ought to love her child; but fit he preserves his consciousness, and knows if I do not love mine it does not depend upon perfectly well

, that in committing a murder, he me.' She soon after recovered, the infant harwould be guilty of an atrocious crime. When ing, in the mean time, been removed from her he is disabled from doing injury, he makes the sight.' most frightful contortions and grimaces, singing

“Gall states, that he knew a woman who exor talking in rhyme. The fits last from one to perienced, especially at certain periods, inexprestwo days. When they are over, he cries out, sible torture, and the searful temptation to deNow unbind me. Alas! I have suffered cru- stroy herself, and to kill her husband and chilelly, but I rejoice that I have killed nobody." dren, who were exceedingly dear to her. She

" The narrative is published of a lady, who, shuddered with terror as she described the on returning home one alternoon, found her fa- struggle that took place within her, between her vorite female servant in tears. On questioning sense of duty and religion, and the impulse that her, she flung herself upon her knees, and beg- urged her to this atrocious act. For a long time ged her mistress with earnestness to dismiss her she dared not bathe her youngest child, because from her service, in order to prevent the com- an internal voice said to her constantly, Drop mission of a horrid deed. On being pressed to him in ;'

. 'let him slip.'. Frequently she had explain what she meant, she said that for some hardly the strength and time to throw away a weeks back, every night as she undressed her knife, which she was iempted to plunge in her mistress's child, the whiteness of its skin inspired own and in her children's breasts. Whenever her with an almost overwhelming impulse to de- she entered the chamber of her children or husprive it of life. She suffered unutterable tor- band, and found them asleep, she was instantly ture in resisting the tendency, and every day possessed of the desire of killing them. Some. she found her resolution growing weaker. An- times she precipitately shut behind her the door dral relates the case of a man of considerable of their chamber, and threw away the key, to scientific reputation, who became the subject of remove the possibility of returning to them dur these horrid impulsés. He was seized with an ing the night, if she should fail to resist the inintense desire to deprive some human being of fernal temptation." life. Frightened by a consciousness of his state, he voluntarily deprived himself of liberty. He

The commission of any given act is de prayed incessantly before the altar, that God termined by motives, whether sound or onwould assist him in his struggle. When he felt sound, passionate or rational, real or ima. the inclination arising (for it assumed an inter- ginary, which influence the will; but it is er, and this slight physical obstacle for a time case one motive premominates exclusively mittent character) he had his thumbs tied togeth. impossible to affirm that in any particular prevented him from gratifying the horrid propensity. Notwithstanding all his exertions, his over all others. On the contrary, in almost malady increased, and he at length made an at- every imaginable human action there is a tempt at homicide ; after which the monomania conflict of motives; and the supreme will, the energy which bas been finely termed to it. In order to give an air of reason “the great inmate" of man, is not a passive and coherency to these two propositions, instrument, but an active power. It does they are united by a third proposition to not imply insanity if the better motive is the effect that A being possessed by an inset aside by the worst, or if the stronger sane delusion, had no moral control over sense of duty is impaired by the solicita- his actions, and therefore was no fit object tions of crime. The conflict, whatever be of punishment.” its result, is the proof of sanity. But if no

"In the instance of instinctive insanity or insuch struggle takcs place, if the conscience is altogether dark and duty-dumb, if the atrocity, to play the incendiary, or to violate the

sane impulse to commit acts of violence and unfortunate man goes about his work of good order and decency of social life, it is obviblood with as much confidence in his own ous that the only thing requiring much considrectitude of purpose as if he were engaging eration is the real existence of the disease, and in a deed of mercy-if he neglects all pre

its distinction from ordinary and real criminalicautions, discards all apprehensions, and ty. So soon as it is proved to exist, there can glories in the murder he has committed, deplorable misfortune ought to be effectunlly septhen, indeed, it may be affirmed that the erated from society, to prevent mischief to him. controlling power itself is gone, and that he self and others. Whether he ought in any case has ceased to be a moral agent. The guilt to undergo other punishment than this is a quesof Adam and Eve was shown by their hid- tion which I do not feel disposed to discuss. As ing themselves in the garden; for from we have seen that a struggle often has taken the moment they had committed their of place between the desire to commit any violent fence, they knew what was good and what tunate person who is thus tempted, it is proba

act, and the conscientious feelings of the unforwas evil. The same test of discernment ble that some have yielded to temptation, though was admitted not long ago on the continent convinced that they ought to have resisted it. ppon the trial of a very young offender, Such persons must be admitted to be morally who hid himself after he had perpetrated guilty and to deserve to suffer.”—Prichard, p. some heinous action,

But the real ques.

177. tion of moral responsibility consists, not in Criminal acts, whether in the insane or the presence or absence of certain mo- the sane, may proceed either from error of tives, but in the presence or absence of judgment or of the will; nor is a conthe power of controlling them.

sciousness that an act ought not to be comThose even who, with Lord Erskine in mitted an infalliable test of moral guilt. his defence of Hadfield, are inclined to give The murderer of Cardinal Beaton-the as. the largest extension to the influence which sassins of Cæsar-or the republican fanamental delusions exert upon the will, are tics who attempted the lives of Napoleon compelled to reason upon the question as if and Louis Philippe, would acknowledge no some necessary connexion existed between moralconsciousness which ought to have rethe delusion and the act. The madman of strained them. Though sane, their judg. Athens, who thought that all the ships ment of right and wrong was altogether which entered the Piræus were hisown, was confused, because they failed to bring it to persectly capable of reasoning and acting the test of the law. like other men. Nor would a judge have But for one crime which is dictated by acquitted as an irresponsible lunatic that an error of the judgment, a thousand are pleasant visionary described by Horace, committed from depravity of the will

. Yet who was ever smiling at a fancy stage or here again the law interposes a salutary excited by the terrors of imaginary trage- moral influence. If a man possessed with dy. Even such extravagances as these are an insane delusion, or (to take a more comnot altogether incompatible with the rule mon case of the same import) animated quoted by d’Aguesseau in his admirable by some violent passion for any given act remarks on the subject, that it is a suffi. or object, is at the same time so infirm in cient test of sanity “Mediocritatem offici. will that he is likely to yield to temptation, orom tueri, et vitæ cultum communem et what is to check him ? What does check usitatum.”

a large portion of mankind from committing This brings us to the more practical part acts of a criminal nature ? The answer is of the whole discussion—that, namely, obvious—it is the fear of punishment. which concerns the impunity of persons Punishment supplies a motive sufficiently of unsound mind, Nobody would venture strong to counteract a vast variety of moto contend in terms, that because A was tives which would otherwise make incespossessed by an insane delusion, therefore sant inroads in society; and the sanction A was not punishable for having yielded 1 of punishment cannot be omitted or re. moved even in relation to the most obvious | The will is itself the guardian of the will. moral duties in the most civilized and ra. In very many cases of mental disease, we tional communities in the world. If, then, have no doubt that the necessity of adherthe idea of punishment and penal con ing to a stricter discipline, aided by the sequences is indispensably necessary to fear of penal consequences, might check check the aberrations of the will, even in the progress of the complaint. A mind is those of sound mind, can it be admitted seldom overthrown until is relaxed. that impunity is to be secured to the aber- The great progress which has been made rations of those who have least the power of late years in the treatment of insanity of self-control the insane?

arises mainly from judicious endeavors to The fact is perfectly well known to all rouse the voluntary powers of the patient. those who have paid attention to the treat. In former times the mad were regarded as ment of the insane, that those unfortunate passive victims of insurmountable disorpersons are quite as accessible to the fear ders. They are now treated, in spite of of punishment as any other men. No luna- the delusions which haunt them, as men, tic asylum could be conducted, no lunatic still preserving some share at least of the could be restored to health, without salu- responsibilities of men. tary rules of discipline based on some kind Inclined as we are to uphold the necessiof penal sanction. We do not, of course, ty of punishing even the insane for such mean those harsh corporal punishments criminal acts as may have been committed which were the inhuman expedients of a by them, unless their state was such as to less enlightened age, but certain privations exclude all consciousness of the nature of or restraints, or even the application of what they were doing, we confess that it is heavy douches of cold water, have been neither probable nor desirable that capital employed as punishments in some of the punishment should be applied in such cases. French mad-houses with great effect. In But we see no reason whatever for not subFrance, too, we have seen sanguinary mojecting men like Oxford or M'Naughten to nomaniacs who were perpetually hand. the hardships, labors, and privations of a cuffed, as a mark of criminal degradation. penal colony, and the infamy of a felon's

The fear of punishment acts with suffi- banishment, though perhaps a more satiscient intensity on the insane, except of factory mode of treatment would be a strict course idiots or maniacs, who are incapable system of prison discipline in this country. of any fears, and not susceptible of any We have already observed, that the dis. moral influence at all. The acquittal of cipline of those establishments which are certain criminals, on more than one recent devoted to the reception and cure of the occasion, on the ground of insanity, has insane could not be maintained if the prinunquestionably encouraged other persons ciple of irresponsibility was rigorously adto attempt similar crimes under the shelter hered to. Punishments adapted to the con. of the same plea. Each verdict has been dition of the unhappy inmates of those asyfollowed by a recrudescence of such of- lums are habitually and very properly emfences. This striking fact is in itself a ployed in them. Favors or privations, an sufficient proof, that however such delin. increase of liberty or of restraint, praise quents may be affected in their minds, they or humiliation, are found to be scarcely are sufficiently sane to reason, and to act less effectual means of encouragement or upon the state of the law and the decisions repression amongst the insane than amongst of juries, by which they conceive it to be any other class of human beings. But it demonstrated that they are exempt from needs no demonstration to show that such the operation of the law. How, then, can rewards and punishments must be circumit be maintained that the same persons scribed within certain limits; and those would have been incapable of reasoning limits are determined by the state of the upon the effect of the law, if it had been patient. It is clear that where insanity ex. applied in all its rigor, or of conforming ists, the common feeling of humanity and to its injunctions, if they had no hope of justice, of which the law is and ought to be eluding its penalties? The assurance of the expression and the instrument, will reimpunity not only acts upon insane minds coil from the application of that fearful as a direct incentive to crime, since they mode of punishment which leaves no room know themselves to be legally relieved for mitigation or change. No one will from the consequences of their actions, contend that dangerous madmen deserve but it acts upon minds in a state of incipi no more clemency at the hands of the offi. ent unsoundness as an encouragement of cers of justice than any of the lower anihe disease by which they are affected. mals in a state of mischievous fury; but

« AnteriorContinuar »