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an act that was wrong. This, again, has been controverted, because it implies that the consciousness of acting wrongly, or doing an act contrary to law, would be sufficient to sustain a conviction. It may, therefore, be concluded, that to establish a defence on the ground of insanity, it must be proved that at the time of committing the act the accused was labouring under such a defect of reason from disease of the mind as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing, or that, if knowing it, he did not believe he was doing wrong. It was also laid down by the judges that if a man under an insane delusion as to existing facts commits an offence in consequence thereof, if he be labouring under partial delusions, he is to be considered precisely as to responsibility as if the facts to which the delusion exists were real-that is, if under the influence of delusion a man supposes another man to be in the act of attempting to take his life, and he killed that man as he supposes in self-defence, he would be exempt from punishment; but if the delusion was that the deceased had inflicted a serious injury on his character and fortune, and he killed him in revenge for such supposed injury, he would be liable to punishment.
So much for the criminal responsibility ; and, as we have said, strictness of proof is not so essential when the delusion is connected with civil matters, such as the state of a testator's mind in the disposition of his private affairs. It may be stated that in these cases, if the delusions have not affected the general faculties of the mind, if they have not operated upon the will of the testator, there is no reason why a testator should be held incapable of making a testamentary disposition, or that a will made under these circumstances should not be upheld. This investigation as to the condition of a testator is surrounded with difficulties; but the result has been admirably sumnted up by the Court of Queen's Bench in a well-known case of Banks and Goodfellow (Law Reports, 5 Q.B. 549): “If the human instincts and affections, or the
moral sense, become perverted by mental disease, if insane suspicion or aversion takes the place of natural affection, if reason and judgment are lost, and the mind becomes a prey to insane delusions, calculated to interfere with and disturb its functions, and to lead to a testamentary disposition due only to their baneful influence, in such a case it is obvious that the condition of the testamentary power fails, and that a will made under such circumstances ought not to stand.”
The legislation as to lunatics has been varied and sive-statutes as to inquisitions and inquiries how and before whom to be held, enactments as to the property and estates of lunatics, as to paupers confined under certificates of magistrates, as to providing asylums in counties and boroughs, as to committees of visitors of asylums, as to registered hospitals and licensed houses, as to criminal lunatics, and as to special visitations by order of the Lord Chancellor or Home Secretary of persons under restraint; these statutes evidence the anxiety and care of the legislature in reference to the afflicted classes; but they have been ineffectual to prevent abuses, chiefly arising from a want of visiting and supervision by paid officials. It is, however, plain that the preliminary stages of the inquiries as to the sanity of individuals are essential matters : as, if a person be apprehended under circumstances denoting derangement of mind, and showing a purpose of committing a crime, he may be brought before two justices, who are empowered to call to their assistance a duly qualified physician, surgeon, or apothecary, and if on his examination the justices are satisfied of the existence of the disease, they may commit him to the nearest county asylum. But if the examining authorities do not give a certificate to the effect that the person examined is insane, his liberation must be ordered If relatives propose to take the lunatics under their own care, they are obliged to enter into recognizances for their peaceable behaviour and safe custody. The great responsibility of this jurisdiction and reference shows the
necessity of its being exercised by disinterested and qualified officials; and, therefore, in any amendment of the Lunacy Laws it has been suggested that the greatest security should be given for the protection of the liberty of the subject by the prevention of the careless granting of certificates, and providing for more responsible magisterial inquiry, and that the certification by medical men should be had under a more extensive and wider authority. Then the inspection of asylums, public and private, should be carefully regulated and more efficiently controlled. The regulated visitation of these institutions may prevent the thousand abuses which from time to time have occurred, to the great discredit of the officials.
WM. HARRIS FALOON.
VI.—LORD GIFFORD, MASTER OF THE ROLLS AND CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE COMMON PLEAS.
N the long roll of English judges in past generations
there are, it is to be feared, many “forgotten worthies," especially those who lived but a short while to enjoy the sweets--and bitters—of judicial office. Nowadays a biography or memoir (perhaps more or less injudicious and unjudicial) follows as a matter of course. A past generation did not of necessity enjoy this doubtful advantage. It has been truly said that a great judge's monument exists in his recorded judgments; but the bearer of the titles at the head of this article was not vouchsafed the time to prove his right to be considered a great Equity judge, although his career was a brilliant one, and public expectation predicted for him the future attainment of the highest judicial office.
We believe no biography of Lord Gifford has ever been published, but we shall have the advantage of reading here,
in some hitherto unpublished letters, his own account of his feelings on the occasion of three great events of public interest, which occurred during his legal career.
There are few records more life-like than old letters. Personalities and realities, long since grown unreal and impersonal, take shape again under the cramped old writing, and the breath of the writer, long since dead, seems to flutter the old sheets of paper yellowed with time. The three letters which we here propose to quote from were written by him to his mother, Mrs. Gifford, of Parker's Wells, Exeter, and bear on the face of them the simple genuine pleasure of the son on the part played by him in public life, a pleasure in which he knows she will share, yet detailed with a dignified restraint and old-fashioned filial courtesy. In the first letter he describes his feelings on the conclusion of his own legal efforts as Attorney-General at the trial of Queen Caroline. In the second he gives us a vivid account of the coronation of George the Fourth; and in the third letter we have a pleasing glimpse of his own feelings on his first day on the Bench as Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, as well as a description of his visit to the King at Brighton, and his assumption of his title of Baron Gifford of St. Leonard's. A short summary of the life of the writer of these letters may possibly add to the interest of their perusal. Robert Gifford was born at Exeter in 1779. His father seems to have been in the position of a general dealer or merchant in wholesale goods, who had certainly acquired sufficient means to article his son to a solicitor in Exeter, and to leave his widow comfortably provided for in a substantial suburban house outside Exeter. Robert Gifford's training in this solicitor's office appears to have grounded him in the knowledge of real property law, which stood him in good stead when called to the Bar, since Foss, in his Judges of England, specially mentions that in London “many opportunities occurred, in which he distinguished himself by his intimate acquaintance with the law
of real property," while the same experience must have helped him to feel more at home in the Court of the Master of the Rolls, where he ultimately presided.
He is recorded to have entered himself at the Middle Temple in 1800, so that at twenty-one years of age he must have been sufficiently independent, both in means and character, to act on his own initiative, his father having died previous to this period. He was called to the Bar in 1808, a long period of probation, during five years of which he practised as a special pleader at the outer Bar. He chose the Western Circuit, and attended the Exeter City and Devon County Sessions, “where he soon acquired an extensive business." Such is Foss's short statement; and in the absence of records of Gifford's life, this fact, coupled with the statement of “his abilities being soon recognized in London by the ready cogency of his arguments and by his easy elocution," is the only clue we have as to the means by which, after only nine years at the Bar, and at the early age of thirty-eight, this young barrister, without any early connections, aristocratic or political, became in 1817 Solicitor-General without, so far as one can find, a murmur of opposition on the part of the legal profession, or of objection by political opponents. Indeed, his politics had not at that time enabled him to secure a seat in Parliament, nor does it appear that he had previously tried for that honour. He had, indeed, been appointed, in 1812, Recorder of Bristol, where he gave such satisfaction to the Corporation, that they commissioned Sir Thomas Lawrence to paint his portrait for their possession, a portrait unfortunately burned in the Bristol Reform riots of 1830. Twiss, in his Life of Lord Eldon, obligingly suggests that Gifford was appointed Solicitor-General because he made himself so pleasant to the occupants of the Bench. Whether this trait is faulty or meritorious depends upon the particular point of the Court from which it is viewed. But from any point of view it seems scarcely sufficient to account