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application is made to the commissioner. He appoints a day for hearing the case, and notice is given accordingly in the public papers. Counsel appear for the patient and solicit more time for preparation. Of course, the request must be granted, and another week or ten days of agonizing care and anxiety must be endured. At the trial, the affairs of the family are laid open to the public gaze.; the actions and the discourse of the patient are described in his presence by those who would, in the natural course of things, regard them as something they were bound by every sentiment of honor and propriety to conceal; and when, at last, the commis sioner signs the order for his admission to the hospital, he goes with redoubled excitement, and with tenfold hostility towards those who have never ceased to love and protect him. If the patient is really insane, — and such is admitted to be the fact in the great majority of cases, what method could be better calculated to exasperate him to fury, and, on recovery, to overwhelm him with mortification and shame?
In view of the very strong objections that lie against all these methods, it becomes a fair question whether we can do better than retain the old one, whereby the friends assumed the management of the case, acting according to their best judgment under the advice of friends and physicians, and legalize it by a statutory enactment. That it possesses the first two requirements above mentioned, — the prompt isolation of the patient and the relief of the friends, - is not disputed. Can it not be accompanied by conditions that would secure most effectually the third requirement? If it can be shown that this matter has been much misunderstood, that the apprehended evil, judging from the past, is one of the very smallest dimensions, and that by suitable safeguards it may be rendered as little liable to abuse as any transaction between men, then, surely, there can be no reason why a practice so natural, so consonant to our best feelings, and so conformable to our customs, should not be continued. The complaint is that under the exercise of this privilege sane men and women have been imprisoned for an indefinite time. That such a thing is possible, that it may have actually occurred, we do not deny. But, at the worst, it must have been of very rare occurrence, because superintendents of hospitals who have had charge of thousands of patients, and whose opportunities of knowing, therefore, are larger than those of all other persons put together, tell us they have met with or mother beaten and cursed, children frightened and running in terror from the house, and proves the existence of delusions as gross as ever usurped the seat of reason, - it fails to meet the eye of many who heard the original story, or is received with a feeling of more than distrust. Many are reluctant to admit that they have been deceived, and many are loath to give the lie to what has afforded them a thrilling sensation.
In England and France this right of the friends of an insane person to place him in a hospital without any process of law has always existed, and is now secured by acts of the legislature. The same may be said of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. In all these places the law requires compliance with certain conditions, the general purpose of which is to prevent abuses. The principal of these is a certificate of insanity signed by one or more physicians, and the application of some responsible person. In the “ project of a law for regulating the legal relations of the Insane," which was unanimously sanctioned by the “ Association of Medical Superintendents of North American Hospitals for the Insane," we find the following section : “ Insane persons may be placed in a hospital for the insane by their legal guardians, or by their relatives or friends in case they have no guardians, but never without the certificate of one or more reputable physicians, after a personal examination made within one week of the date thereof; and this certificate to be duly acknowledged before some magistrate or judicial officer who shall certify to the genuineness of the signature, and of the respectability of the signer.”
Under such a provision the insane may be promptly, quietly, and, with a few possible exceptions, rightfully, placed by their friends in some hospital for the insane. For the possible exceptions, we would have a provision applicable to them alone, and not, at the same time, subjecting all the rest to positive discomfort and injury. If the writ of habeas corpus should not be supposed to furnish sufficient relief, a commission might be appointed especially for this purpose. In the project of a law” just mentioned, we find the following provision : “On a written statement being addressed by some respectable person to some high judicial officer, that a certain person then confined in a hospital for the insane is not insane, and is thus unjustly deprived of his liberty, the judge, at his discretion, shall appoint a commission of not less than three nor more than four persons, one of whom, at least, shall be
Our loan laws are for the most part public contracts for the tem*porary exigencies of the Government, and constitute a series of isolated financial expedients with few permanent or general features. From the very nature of the case, they receive but little attention in the courts, and redress, if hardship is suffered, must be sought in legislation. A careful study of the acts of Congress on this subject, however, serves to bring out some important principles, which we shall endeavor, in these pages, to lay before the reader.
The Constitution gave to Congress the power" to borrow money on the credit of the United States ;” also to coin money, to regulate the value thereof and of foreign coin, and to provide for the punishment of counterfeiters. Such is the fundamental law on which our finance system rests. But similar powers existed under the Articles of Confederation, except that Congress could not raise a loan without the previous assent of nine out of the thirteen States, - a restriction imposed in most other important matters of legislation.
The control of the currency belongs exclusively to Congress, since the Constitution prohibits States from coining money, emitting bills of credit, and making any thing but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts. But there was no such exclusive control prior to 1789. During the Revolutionary war, the several States vied with Congress in furnishing an irredeemable paper medium. So terrible were the consequences, that the framers of this Constitution, still struggling with the continental currency, meant to guard against future calamities. Hence this prohibition to the States. Some have thought that a similar prohibition extended to the National Government; and it is a little curious to notice, in this connection, that, while the Articles of Confederation give Congress permission “ to borrow money or emit bills on the credit of the United States,” the same language is used in the Constitution, except that the words,“ or emit bills" are stricken