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into newspaper controversy, nor endeavoured to exculpate or protect themselves from misconstructions put upon their evidence. It should be an inflexible rule among professional men, never to be betrayed into such disputes; never to be provoked to reply to charges made against them as witnesses; nor to explain their position with reference to the evidence they have tendered." If a medical man is so sensitive to what any one or “every body”

” may say, and has not sufficient confidence in himself, or in truth, to disregard casual criticism, he must, so far as is possible, withdraw from the chances of being called as a witness in matters which will excite popular clamour or professional malice.

In commenting upon Palmer's trial, we took occasion to observe upon the sad exhibition which was then presented, of a number of unscrupulous medical witnesses who were retained for the defence, and who, it would appear, were ready then, and on any other occasiou, to come forward either for immediate reward or to gain notoriety. We fear that, on Smethurst's trial also, we have seen a similar disposition. On any future trial for poisoning, those who conduct the defence may always know where to seek the evidence necessary to support it. Scientific testimony, so called, it would seem, may now always be procured. Whenever Dr. Taylor shall find arsenic or antimony in the human body, one can always be certain of procuring a number of experienced men to depose that he did not. The general result of the case is this: All that is requisite by future murderers by poison to do, is to use small doses, combine the use of various destructive drugs, and subpena the proper witnesses. If the judge and jury should nevertheless be convinced that the skilful poisoner was guilty, it is then open to him to work the papers and “public opinion," get other doctors' evidence, and apply to the Home Office.

We bave seen lately a satirical suggestion for the amendment of the law, that it be enacted that henceforth, on trials for murder, there shall be no judge, but the jury shall consist of upwards of five thousand volunteers—who are not to be sworn, por be allowed to see the prisoner or witnesses, nor hear the evidence; but shall be required to read every casual observation made on the subject, and write letters thereon to the newspapers. We commend these suggestions—if not to the deliberation of our law reformers, at least to the consideration of the "public.” There is another practice which may be, at the same time, rendered a part of our criminal procedure—we mean that of getting up petitions to the Home Office if the verdict should unhappily be unfavourable to the prisoner. It is stated, that one on Smethurst's behalf was presented with the signatures of some thirty members of the Home Circuit, who were not present at the trial. But these counsel might possibly know some who had been there, and so were, of course, just the proper persons to interpose, and lend their aid to the Secretary of the Home Department.

1 Of course, we are not referring to the interesting and able letter of Dr. Todd, which he addressed to the “Times” from Vevay, after the fate of Smethurst must have been decided, and the object of which was to direct attention to matters of scientific importance connected with the trial, and not to affect the iudividual interests of the prisoner or witnesses.

Again, it is urged by some, that a consideration of the evidence on Smethurst's case should lead to the conclusion that there should be an official laboratory, and government officers whose duty it should be to give evidence indifferently between the crown and the accused. Whether this would procure for the public additional security may be doubted; and if we tend rather to the conclusion that it might be of service to adopt this plan, it is not because we attach any weight to the attacks upon Dr. Taylor and his coadjutors, or believe that prisoners on their trial run any risk from his analyses and evidence, but because, under due regulations, it is possible that the door may thus be shut upon the . indecent struggles which, evidently, are being watched for by rival “schools” and “professors,” who covet the appointments of analysts to the prosecution. No plan, however, can be devised which shall cure human fallibility; and experience seems to indicate, that in all those cases where there are difficulties to contend with, and a possibility for difference in opinion, opportunity will be found for making the most of it.

The jury empannelled to try Thomas Smethurst were satisfied that poison had been administered to the deceased lady, Miss Bankes, and unless chemical analysis is henceforth to be considered useless, it is clear that antimony was found in the small intestines, in the cæcum, in one of the kidneys, and the blood, thus confirming the opinion of three of the medical witnesses (including Dr. Todd), who had each been led to suppose that the patient was suffering from irritant poison.' But a very different mode of arriving at conclusions was pursued out of court. By an error in the experiments, arsenic had been supposed by Dr. Taylor to have been found in considerable quantities in the body; but the poison really was deposited by the copper used in Reinsch's test. This fact was seized on, and whether Miss Bankes was poisoned by arsenic or not, was made the question at issue ; and the danger of determining by such evidence upon the life or death of the accused was urged. The pregnancy which was discovered on the post mortem examination, and the symptoms of dysentery, were also made the theme of learned letters, and the subject was duly confused. The explanation of the failure of Reinsch's test had satisfied the court; and the fact of the discovery of the error, by the skill and care and knowledge of the experts, was enough to reassure those whose minds were properly exercised upon the evidence. But the opportunity afforded of attacking Dr. Taylor was too good to be lost; and the argumentum ab ignorantia ad ignorantiam was too seductive to be foregone; so public-spirited men kept asking, “How do we know that all tests are not fallacious in such hands?” The difference between the verdict of the jury and of the nonjurors may be referred to the fact, perhaps, that the former had all the evidence as a whole before them, and felt responsibility ; and the latter had only exparte versions of it, and no responsibility was attached to their opinion.

This trial has bad the effect of reproducing a demand for such an amendment of the law as should procure the means of “new trials” in criminal or in civil matters, or the constitution of a court of appeal, under limitation, rules, and restrictions, not indicated, though these particulars are of the essence of such provision. The arguments, pro and contra, are well known to our readers. The subject has been mooted in parliament, and considered by law reformers, and there may be good grounds for yet entertaining the proposition ; but Smethurst's trial is, as it strikes us, by no means an example of the class of cases where the reform in question is required : unless, indeed, it be enacted that “henceforth, whensoever the legitimate tribunal is

1 Moreover, arsenic was found in one of the evacuations, and there could be no suspicion of the introduction of this poison by the tests themselves in this case, because the same tests were applied in upwards of seventy cases to various materials, and in these no arsenic was found. If minute doses of various irritant poisons were administered, which were, however, carried out of the system very rapidly, it is very possible that not more thana chance trace like this of arsenic would be discovered.

" satisfied of the guilt or innocence of the accused, but certain others profess themselves, through the newspapers, as being dissatisfied with the verdict, and no new evidence is likely to be adduced on any future trial, but much prejudice, personality, and charlatanism may be introduced, it shall be lawful for any three or more anonymous persons to write to any three or more newspapers demanding a new trial, which shall be forthwith granted.”

The medical art and the science of chemistry have not yet reached that perfection at which they are destined to arrive, and we fear that the administration of justice is not beyond suspicion. But it was not by the inadequacy of the medical evidence, nor the failure of the legal tribunal before which the trial was held, that the case of Smethurst has terminated so unsatisfactorily.

We are not aware, as before observed, of the grounds on which the prisoner was reprieved ; but, judging from the evidence alone, the better conclusion seems to be, that though the unfortunate woman may not altogether have died of the poison swallowed and injections administered, yet neither is her death referable to those natural causes alone which seem also to have been operating injuriously to her health ; and further, that no sufficient reason has yet been offered to society why the sentence of the law should not have been carried out.

Art. XIII–Judicial Statistics, 1858.England and Wales.

Part I.-Police, Criminal Proceedings, Prisons. Part II.— Common Law, Equity, Civil, and Canon Law. Presented to both Houses of Parliament by command of Her Majesty, 1859.


HIS goodly blue-covered book of judicial statistics will, if

used aright, prove one of the most useful aids for the real amendment of the law in its various branches. The inductive is far preferable to the deductive method in solving the various practical problems connected with the subjects dealt with in the “judicial statistics ;” and it is therefore a subject of congratulation that we have now begun in earnest, so to collect and arrange the results of our procedure, criminal and civil, as to afford a reasonable expectation of being able in future to work in the light of known facts, instead of groping in the darkness of doubtful theories. This valuable scheme was initiated in 1855, and the returns are “framed to include any object of apparent practical utility which forms part of a scheme of general statistics, and is attainable with accuracy, leaving only any special matters which may from time to time arise, to be met by particular inquiries directed to the precise object in view.” With Part I., which embraces very interesting details of police criminal procedure and prisons, we shall not now meddle, but proceed to draw the reader's attention to the matters contained in Part II., which, for the first time, are here collected in a form approaching completeness.” The utility of the “extension of

' the statistics to every court of justice,” says Mr. Redgrave, "will be recognised in the periodical record, now first established, of the amount and nature of their separate duties, the progress of the proceedings, and the state of the business before them, with the changes and fluctuations to which, from time to time, the proceedings may be subjected.” These records have also their

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