Chapter Sixteen

AuthorRichard D. Schneider
Cae Sxtee
-   his opening address ve times longer
than it took to try the “average” Old Bailey case – Cockburn proceeded
to set up a more specic and nuanced view of what he wanted the jury
to regard as constituting insanity, directing them now to consider Ers-
kine’s construction of it, which was accepted by the court in Hadeld’s
Case, in .
“‘Delusion, therefore,’ says Lord Erskine, ‘where there is no frenzy or
raving madness, is the true character of insanity, and where it cannot
be predicated of a man standing for life or death for a crime, he ought
not, in my opinion, to be acquitted; and if the courts of law were to be
governed by any other principle, every departure from sober rational
conduct would be emancipation from criminal justice. I shall place my
claim to your verdict upon no such dangerous foundation.’
And, gentlemen, I, following at an immeasurable distance that
great man, I, too, will place my claim to your verdict on no such dan-
gerous foundation. ‘I must convince you,’ said Lord Erskine, ‘not only
that the unhappy prisoner [Hadeld] was a lunatic within my own
denition of lunacy, but that the act in question was the immediate
unqualied ospring of this disease.’ I accept this construction of the
law: by that interpretation, coupled with and qualied by the condi-
tions annexed to it, I will abide. I am bound to show that the prisoner
was acting under a delusion, and that the act sprung out of that delu-
sion, and I will show it. I will show it by evidence irresistibly strong;
and when I have done so I shall be entitled to your verdict.
“On the other hand, my learned friend the Solicitor-General
told you yesterday that in the case before you the prisoner had some
 . 
rationality, because in the ordinary relations of life he had manifested
ordinary sagacity, and that on this account you must come to the con-
clusion that he was not insane on any point, and that the act with
which he now stands charged was not the result of delusion. I had
thought that the many occasions upon which this matter had been
discussed would have rendered such a doctrine as obsolete and ex-
ploded in a court of law as it is everywhere else. Let my learned friend
ask any of the medical gentlemen who surround him, and whose as-
sistance he has on this occasion, if they will come forward and pledge
their professional reputation, as well as their moral character to the
assertion that shall deny the proposition that a man may be a fren-
zied lunatic on one point, and yet on all others be capable of all the
operations of the human mind, possessed of a high degree of sagacity,
in possession of full rational powers, undisturbed by evil or excessive
passions. On this point Dr. Ray, in the following observations (the
result of his long experience), disposes of the very objection which my
learned friend has put forward on the present occasion:
e purest minds cannot express greater horror and loathing
of various crimes than madmen often do, and from precisely
the same causes. eir abstract conceptions of crime, not
being perverted by the inuence of disease, present its hideous
outlines as strongly dened as they ever were in the healthiest
condition; and the disapprobation they express at the sight
arises from sincere and honest convictions. e particular
criminal act, however, becomes divorced in their minds from
its relations to crime in the abstract; and being regarded only
in connection with some favourite object which it may help to
obtain, and which they see no reason to refrain from pursuing,
is viewed, in fact, as of a highly laudable and meritorious
‘Herein, then, consists their insanity, not in preferring vice
to virtue, in applauding crime and ridiculing justice, but in
being unable to discern the essential identity of nature between
a particular crime and all other crimes, whereby they are led to
approve what, in general terms, they have already condemned.
It is a fact not calculated to increase our faith in the march of
intellect, that the very trait peculiarly characteristic of insanity

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