Chapter Nineteen

AuthorRichard D. Schneider
Cae Nneee
   M’Naughten verdict was swift in coming. His ac-
quittal outraged many and was criticized by most for it didn’t seem to
make sense. Queen Victoria, who was far from amused, was known
to have said: “How could he have been found not guilty? He did it,
didn’t he?”
A March th letter to the editor of e Times gave pointed expres-
sion to the public mood:
Sir, if the result of M’Naughten’s trial satises the end of justice, by
proving the moral irresponsibility of the murderer, it undoubtedly
leaves the security of Her Majesty’s subjects from similar murderous
attacks in a very unsatisfactory state. M’Naughten is not the only dan-
gerous lunatic at large – nay, his case is so common, that a term has
been invented to designate it, and was employed by his counsel, viz.,
“homicidal monomania”; in plain English, an irresistible impulse on
the part of the maniac for blood – to put some one to death.
e question then is, is the law sucient for the protection of the
public? Is there no responsibility on the part of the relatives in leav-
ing such dangerous lunatics at large? It appears in evidence that the
father was twice warned as to the state of his son’s mind – once by the
Provost of Glasgow, whose station ought to have given weight to his
opinion; but to neither was any attention paid, and it is to be regretted
that such culpable neglect and recklessness of consequences cannot be
visited by the law.
We read in Dr. Monro’s evidence that the assassin said, that at
one time he would have shot Mr. Sheri Bell dead in his seat in the
court of justice, if he had a pistol, and no one can doubt that Mr. Bell
might have been the victim. Again, it appears that one of his illusions

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