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supposed that there may be sufficient reason left to make the proper distinction between right and wrong, between the lawful and the unlawful, and therefore the person is to be held accountable for whatever wrong he may do. In support of this position, it is sometimes said that all passion is a kind of insanity, which, however, we are none the less bound to control, and that if we allow full sweep to the passions of those who are called insane, we take the first step towards treating all crime as insanity, and entitled to the fullest excuse. This objection, it will be observed, is founded on a presumption of facts, the truth or falsity of which is beyond our power to ascertain. If courts had profoundly studied the subject of insanity, or were even agreed among themselves respecting it, there would be more reason for their undertaking the part they claim, but in the absence of these conditions, we can see no ground whatever on which this claim can rest. It being assumed that insanity does not necessarily annul a single element of responsibility, it has seemed to be a proper conclusion that it is strictly within the province of the law to prescribe the conditions under which it actually has this effect. And this view of the case is supported by the practice of admitting, not unfrequently, civil acts done by the insane. If the legislature had enacted that insanity should be no excuse for crime, unless it destroys all knowledge of right and wrong, then, of course, the court would instruct the jury accordingly. Without any such enactment, courts cannot go beyond the general principle founded in the common sense and the common instincts of men – that insanity subverts the normal freedom of action and of thought, so that the question of insanity must be put to the jury, stripped of all limitations. Was the prisoner laboring under mental disease? Was the act, in question, the offspring of such disease? These are questions of fact, to be determined only by the jury.
It may be considered as a waste of words to discuss objections to a practice already shown, by the luminous exposition of Judge Doe, to be devoid of any proper foundation, but it seemed to be worth our while, in a matter of so much importance, to regard the subject in every possible aspect.
The cases to which we have called the reader's attention, show both the prevailing dissatisfaction with the law of insanity as usually expounded, and the progress that has been making, during the last thirty years, towards that triumphant solution of doubts and difficulties which we have had the pleasure to record. The friends of humanity may now rejoice in the well grounded faith that the day is not far distant when we shall cease to take the lives of the insane on the strength of a metaphysical subtlety.
CAMPBELL'S LIVES OF LYNDHURST AND BROUGHAM.1
The language of biography is too often the language of eulogy, or rather of indiscriminate eulogy. The lives of most men are written after their deaths, and the motto, De mortuis nil nisi bonum, might well be inscribed upon the title-pages. It is generally some son, nephew, or other relative, or perhaps some political or scientific associate, who delights to spread before the world panegyrics on the deceased, while at the same time he can gratify his family pride, or submit new arguments upon his favorite doctrines and tenets. The opportunities of such writers for correct information are large, but in the same degree the determination of their minds forces them to present their subjects in the most favorable light. Ugly facts are suppressed; disagreeable characteristics are called by palliating names; and the result presented to the world resembles one of those photographs which, after being submitted to the touching and toning of India ink, give to the spectator agreeable pictures perhaps, but such as the best friends of the subjects would find it difficult to recognize. Hence, sketches made by contemporaries, though less full, less complete, and less impartial, generally present the truer likenesses. If these pictures are often colored by personal or party prejudice, at any rate they show us the individual man, and not a type, possessed of all the virtues of his species, and none of its vices. The divine is not always in the pulpit, nor the lawyer in the forum. It is a petty spirit that delights to dwell on the weaknesses or vices of great men; but one is tired reading of departed saints, and will take for granted filial piety or political gratitude on the part of biographers, if they will only take a little more pains to give us the truth. Let them
Nor set down aught in malice.” And the word malice at once recalls us from these general reflections to Lord Campbell's book. It was for some of the reasons we have mentioned that the world at large, and lawyers in particular, looked forward to the publication of the lives of Lord Lyndhurst and Lord Brougham, which he was known to have written, with special interest and curiosity. Campbell had already obtained a considerable reputation by his lives of the Chancellors and Chief Justices. If not always accurate, he was generally entertaining, and frequently amusing. His political inclinations, though rendering him sometimes unfair to those lawyers nearest his own times, had imparted a tartness and vivacity to the narrative not unpleasant, nor especially censurable. His love of occasionally placing the dignitaries of whom he wrote in a jocosely ridiculous position, had not assumed the form of positive ill-nature, and it rather tickled the reader to be shown the little misfortunes and perplexities of the learned judges. His evident enjoyment in detailing personal anecdotes, promised a most entertaining as well as valuable work. Of all he was to write he could well say quorum magna pars fui. He had not merely watched the career of his great subjects for nearly half a century, but had taken part with them in many of the most celebrated of their acts, was their professional brother, and their political associate or antagonist. He had risen to fame, as they had, from a comparatively humble position, and by much the same means. He had held the same offices and sat in the same seats, served the same sovereigns, supported or attacked the same measures, known the same men, breathed the same legal and political atmosphere for well-nigh two generations. His knowledge that his work would not be published until both its subjects were laid in the grave, and beyond the power of defence, and that forgetfulness of past animosities which should accompany old age, and make it dwell on kindnesses not discourtesies, led us to believe that a book correct in details, lifelike, fresh with new facts, and withal entertaining and amusing, would complete the lives of the Lord Chancellors in a manner to add to the reputation of its author as a man of letters, and at the same time be a most valuable contribution to the history of the times. We did not know Lord Campbell. Several months have elapsed since the publication. Contemporary opinion has expressed itself both in writing and by word of mouth, and it may be taken as its unanimous verdict that a less accurate, less complete, more ill-natured, spiteful, or we had almost said contemptible, book never was written in the English language, or brought disrepute upon an honorable profession. Contemptible, certainly, if the spirit in which it is written is considered ; incomplete, for it presents but one side; inaccurate, for it adopts common rumor when suited to the author's purpose, or accounts of facts long since disproved, or again simply invents, when at a loss for facts; ill-natured and spiteful, for it relates the lives of two most distinguished men, and implies a base motive in even their noblest acts, or damns them with faint praise ; while it presents in glaring light their faults and weaknesses, and places in most undue prominence every rumor of the time calculated to make them appear ludicrous. It is sad to behold a man of so many years, knowing he was soon to quit the world, yet willing to leave behind him the record of his unforgotten spleen. It is difficult to understand how an experienced lawyer, familiarized by the practice of many years with the feelings and workings of men's minds, should have failed to perceive that these attacks would but recoil on himself, and totally fail of injuring his intended victims, – that he would be “the engineer hoist with his own 'petar.” It is not the story told by a man of disappointed ambition of the doings of those who defrauded him of the reward of merit. On the contrary, few men have attained such rewards as Lord Campbell. He had been successively Solicitor and Attorney General ; had been granted two peerages; was placed upon the bench as Chief Justice of England, a younger man (Lord Denman) retiring to make place for him ; had superseded Lord Plunket as Chancellor of Ireland; held for a time the office of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; and finally achieved the pinnacle of his ambition, by mounting the Woolsack as Lord Chancellor of England. Lord Lyndhurst's four terms of the Chancellorship were scarce equal to this, and his intermediate acceptance of the place of Chief Baron of the Exchequer detracts from the completeness of the perfect sequence with which Campbell attained each step of legal promotion. Well might Lyndhurst say, in congratulating him in the House of Lords,
1 Lives of the Lord Chancellors and Keepers of the Great Seal of England; from the earliest times, till the reign of Queen Victoria. By the late John Lord Campbell, LL.D. F.R.S.E. In eight volumes. Vol. VIII. London. John Murray. 1869.