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which elicits the comment of their fellow-citizens. They did not shrink from testifying on subjects connected with their education, profession, and experience; nor do they wish to avoid the responsibility attending what they have done. The error and prejudice of the hour must pass away, and the future will illustrate that the accuracy of those gentlemen is not inferior to their confidence.
It is the common notion that there is no such phenomenon in the world as “Moral Insanity.” We cannot wonder that the multitude should thus pronounce, without knowledge, or seeking opportunity to know. They have ever regarded, and, for a long time to come, may still regard, with unwarrantable prejudice, every suggestion of insanity, whatever its characteristics, as an immunity against the consequences of crime. The advocate who presents such a defence, and the scientific witnesses who prove it, must expect, of course, to be opposed, if not derided-embarrassed, if not vilified. Men, who claim to be respectable and veracious, have, on no authority but vague and irresponsible rumor, insinuated, if not directly charged, that Huntington's pretended insanity was an invention, attributable, in equal proportions, to the desperation of the Counsel, and the folly of the Physicians. These charges, like many stories afloat as to immense sums said to have been received by those Counsel for their services, are utterly destitute of foundation. When it was ascertained that Huntington's career, viewed in its peculiar details, seemed utterly irreconcilable with any ordinary rules or exhibitions of human conduct, and only capable of being fully understood or explained on the supposition that his mind was not sound, a most careful inquiry was had into his whole history, and a minute and laborious examination made of all his transactions. Dr. PARKER was consulted, that his intellectual capacity, learning, and experience might be applied in testing the condition of Huntington's mind-the distinct understanding with that gentleman being, that the defence of insanity would or would not be presented, according as the clear and irrefragable proof to be obtained, demonstrated or disproved that hypothesis. At his suggestion, Dr. GILMAN was associated with him to investigate the case. How well they discharged their duty appears from their testimony, which the reader will find interesting and satisfactory. It is lamentable, indeed, that the reputations of two such men should be so flippantly assailed, because they undertook a duty, from which they could not have shrunk without refusing the aid of their scientific attainments in the effort to develop truth and secure justice. · No one will deny this simple proposition :—that all men are either sane, insane, or idiotic. With idiocy we have not to deal at present. Sanity is a single and absolute condition. Insanity is equally so. But, there is this distinction between them. Sanity is exhibited in but one class of developments. Insanity shows itself in various manifestations. There is a wide difference between the quiet lunatic whose aberration is evinced in delusion on one subject, and the furious madman whom iron bars alone can securely confine. “MONOMANIA” is a word accredited in nearly all works relating to insanity. Its signification is generally understood. But learned men differ as to whether the generic condition of insanity should be divided into several species, each receiving a separate nomenclature. Therefore, the phrases “general insanity” and “partial insanity,” though often employed by writers on Medical Jurisprudence, are by many (Drs. Parker and Gilman for example) rejected, as inaccurate, because insanity is not, in itself, general or partial. It exists or does not exist; and the condition must not be confounded with its manifestations.
Yet, for the convenience of ordinary or scientific philology, various designations have been attached to peculiar exhibitions of insanity, deriving their characteristics from the particular sub
ject to which the aberration specially relates ; as, for example, the “Homicidal Mania,” “Pyromania,” &c. It was strangely urged on Huntington's trial that, unless some name had been given to the individuality apparent in the exhibition of his insanity, the insanity itself should be denied. · A fallacy so obvious might confirm or gratify Ignorance and Prejudice. It can not affect those who appreciate the very simple truth, that things exist irrespective of names.
As to “Moral Insanity,” those who have considered the subject know that the existence of insanity thus classified is recognized by “all authoritative writers." It is an insanity developed in reference to the moral nature, rather than the purely intellectual processes. Whether the intellect may be generally intact and yet the affections, emotions, or will be impaired, is a question about which learned investigators differ. But none of those who deserve or enjoy any reputation doubt that insanity—as a physical disease of the brain-may be manifested, exclusively, in developments affecting the moral part of our nature. A most conclusive demonstration of this will be found in an appendix to this volume, from the pen of Dr. Gilman.
The professional reader will readily perceive that the Jury could hardly find in favor of the accused on the defence of insanity, however well it was sustained by proof; because the learned Judge expressly charged that, under our law, "moral Insanity” would not excuse from responsibility for crime; that insanity, if "partial” or “Monomania,” would not absolve the party unless it “ wholly” deprived him of the power to distinguish between right and wrong; and that the opinions of the medical witnesses were formed on a “principle not recognized in our law.” This was in effect overruling the whole defence of insanity. To anticipate that, under such instruction, the Jury would acquit, was to indulge mere hope not warranted by any deliberate or reasonable expectation. The verdict rendered cannot, there
fore, be justly considered a determination against the accused from any belief that the particular insanity alleged was not proved; or, that the opinions of the Doctors were not reliable ; but that the whole theory of the defence was, in this respect, unfounded and could not be sustained by evidence of any nature or amount. To the Charge, in this respect an exception was taken, and it is not, perhaps, too much to say that the Judge here went farther than the law will justify.
It has been said that to admit a defence of moral insanity would almost, if not entirely, abolish the notion of crime necessary to the welfare of society, and expose mankind to the depredations and vices of their fellows without the means of protection. Now, it is not likely that the defence of insanity will ever be made, except upon much proof and due consideration; nor that it will prevail against public prejudice and violent opposition, unless most thoroughly and indubitably proved. The great danger, as shown by Dr. Ray and others, is, that it will be improperly rejected. And when humanity and mercy, guided by reason and science,come to regard the insane as objects of pity rather than vengeance, society will provide Refuges, of a condition intermediate between the State-prison and Lunatic Asylum, in which Unfortunates, while removed from the power to injure others, may escape undeserved punishment or degradation, and be afforded the attention and care suitable to those afflicted with the most terrible and mysterious of diseases.
The Prosecution complained in Huntington's case that the defence of insanity was a surprise to them. This seems quite remarkable when we consider that, in his opening speech, the able District Attorney applied the phrase "moral insanity” to the prisoner's peculiar proceedings. But the complaint was specious and unjust, because eight or ten days before that on which the testimony closed, Mr. Bryan fully opened the whole defence to
the jury. Huntington was in “The Tombs” from the 10th October --subject to examination not only by the intelligent Physician of that prison, but of any others whose judgment on his condition the Prosecution might desire. Yet not one witness was brought forward to gainsay any thing uttered by Doctors Parker or Gilman. It is hoped that there may be another trial of the prisoner; and the time is awaited with much interest when any gentleman of equal capacity or reputation with either of those Physicians will come into a court of justice to testify that there is no such thing known or worthy of being recognized as “Moral Insanity."
What may be the ultimate fate of Huntington, the future must develop. It is not at all remarkable that public prejudice should have made his defence difficult or unsuccessful. Thousands, who sneer at the idea of his insanity, believe in the most preposterous amongst the many delusions so rife in these days of Spiritual revelations, Mormonism, &c. Judges, in times past, who would hardly tolerate a suggestion of insanity, did not hesitate to encourage trials for witchcraft, nor to pronounce sentence of death on miserable old women convicted of Sorcery. Those who eagerly demanded the blood of a man condemned for murder, in this city, a few years since, and pretended to have clear knowledge of the nature and details of his crime, would not believe that he was dead, after he had committed suicide, and his heart had been taken out of his body in a public courtroom before a crowd of spectators! We would however, be much astonished at the treatment which Doctors Parker and Gilman receive from a few of their professional brethren, were we not acquainted with the fact that a jealousy exists amongst the members of that fraternity which is scarcely known amongst lawyers. “The American Medical Gazette and Journal of Health,” for the present month, contains an editorial article in which the following passage occurs: “To talk of Moral Insanity,' as