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´╗┐Title: A Letter to the Right Honorable the Lord Chancellor, on the Nature and Interpretation of Unsoundness of Mind, and Imbecility of Intellect
Author: Haslam, John, 1764-1844
Language: English
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A LETTER

TO

_THE LORD CHANCELLOR_.



A

LETTER

TO

THE RIGHT HONORABLE

THE

LORD CHANCELLOR,

ON THE

NATURE AND INTERPRETATION

OF

UNSOUNDNESS OF MIND,

AND

_IMBECILITY OF INTELLECT_.


BY

JOHN HASLAM, M.D.

LATE OF PEMBROKE HALL, CAMBRIDGE.


_LONDON:_

PUBLISHED BY R. HUNTER,

ST. PAUL'S CHURCH YARD.

***

1823.


PRINTED BY G. HAYDEN,

Little College Street, Westminster.



A LETTER.


MY LORD,

THE present address originates in an anxious wish for the advancement of
medical knowledge, where it is connected with those maladies of the
human mind, that are referable to the court, wherein your Lordship has
so long administered impartial justice. The disorders which affect the
body are, in general, the exclusive province of the medical
practitioner; but, by a wise provision, that has descended to us from
the enlightened nations of antiquity, the law has considered those
persons, whose intellectual derangement rendered them inadequate to the
governance of themselves in society, or incapable of managing their
affairs, entitled to its special protection. If your Lordship should
feel surprized at this communication, or deem my conduct presumptuous,
the thirst of information on an important subject is my only apology;
and I have sought to allay it in the pure stream that issues from the
fountain-head, rather than from subordinate channels or distant
distributions. Although personally a stranger to your Lordship, nearly
thirty years of my life have been devoted to the investigation and
treatment of insanity: of which more than twenty have been
professionally passed in the largest receptacle for lunatics;--and the
press has diffused, in several publications, my opinions and experience
concerning the human mind, both in its sound state and morbid condition.

The medical profession, of which I am an humble member, entertains very
different notions concerning the nature of UNSOUNDNESS of mind, and
IMBECILITY of intellect;--and this difference of opinion has been
displayed on many solemn occasions, where medical testimony has been
deposed.

If a physician were to attempt to search into the existing records and
procedures on insanity, to collect its legal interpretation, such
investigation would probably be a waste of his time, the source of
abundant, and perhaps of incurable error; but to these inconveniences he
will not be subjected in attentively considering your Lordship's
judgments, of which I have availed myself on the present occasion, and
which, having been taken down at the time they were delivered, may be
presumed not materially incorrect. The documents to which I refer are
the judgments of the 22d April, 1815, and the 17th December, 1822, on
the Portsmouth petitions, together with the minutes of conference
between your Lordship and certain physicians, on the 7th January, 1823.
In the judgment on the petition of 1815, it is stated by your
Lordship,[A] "I have searched, and caused a most careful search to be
made into all the records and procedures on lunacy which are extant. I
believe, and I think I may venture to say, that originally commissions
of this sort were of two kinds; a commission aiming at, and enquiring
whether, the individual had been an idiot ex nativitate, or whether, on
the other hand, he was a lunatic. The question whether he was a
lunatic, being a question, admitting in the solution of it, of a
decision that imputed to him at one time an extremely sound mind, but at
other times, an occurrence of insanity, with reference to which, it was
necessary to guard his person and his property by a commission issuing.
It seems to have been a very long time before those who had the
administration of justice in this department, thought themselves at
liberty to issue a commission, when the person was represented as not
being idiot ex nativitate, as not being lunatic, but as being of UNSOUND
MIND, importing by those words, the notion, that the party was in _some
such state_, as was to be contra-distinguished from idiotcy, and as he
was to be contra-distinguished from lunacy, and yet such as made him a
proper object of a commission, in the nature of a commission to inquire
of idiotcy, or a commission to inquire of lunacy. From the moment that
that had been established, down to this moment, it appears to me to have
been at the same time established, that _whatever_ may be the degree of
weakness or imbecility of the party to manage his own affairs, if the
finding of the jury is only that he was of an extreme imbecility of
mind, that he has an inability to manage his own affairs: if they will
not proceed to _infer_ from _that_, in their finding, upon oath, that he
is of UNSOUND MIND, they have not established, by the result of the
inquiry, a case upon which the Chancellor can make a grant, constituting
a committee, either of the person or estate. All the cases decide that
mere imbecility will not do; that an inability to manage a man's affairs
will not do, unless that inability, and that incapacity to manage his
affairs _amount_ to evidence that he is of unsound mind; and he must be
found to be so. Now there is a great difference between inability to
manage a man's affairs, and imbecility of mind taken as _evidence_ of
unsoundness of mind. The case of Charlton Palmer, in which this was very
much discussed, was the case of a man stricken in years, and whose mind
was the mind of a child;--it was, _therefore_, _in that sense_,
imbecility, and inability to manage his affairs, which _constituted_
unsoundness of mind."

The introduction of the term _unsoundness_, to denote a particular state
of disordered mind, which is supposed to differ from idiotcy and lunacy,
has been the source of considerable perplexity to medical
practitioners; and, in my own opinion, opens an avenue for ignorance and
injustice. The application of figurative terms, especially when imposed
under a loose analogy, and where they might be supplied by words of
direct meaning, always tends to error and confusion.

When medical persons depose that the mind of an individual is unsound,
(which character of intellect, if accredited by the jury, would induce
them to find the commission,) they ought, at the same time, to define
precisely what they mean by such term:--and the jury, when they "proceed
to infer" this unsoundness, ought to be in possession of sufficient and
well-defined premises, to warrant such inference. But where are these
materials to be found? There is a strong presumption that this
unsoundness remains an unsolved problem to the present hour, and it is
exemplified in the difference of sentiment that prevailed on a late
occasion,[B] between the most eminent of the medical profession; where
the same opinions and conduct impressed certain physicians, that this
nobleman was of sound mind, and others that his mind was thoroughly
unsound: so that the jury were to _proceed to make their inference_ from
the opposite testimony, deposed by the medical evidence, or to proceed
to hold such evidence in little esteem from its contrariety on a subject
which these physicians professed to illustrate. The term unsoundness,
applied to designate a certain state of the human mind, hitherto
undescribed, has not originated with medical persons; to them,
therefore, we cannot refer for the solution of its import, and there can
be no analogy between the definite unsoundness of animal and vegetable
substances, and any condition of the intellect. Timber is said to be
unsound, and although we may be little acquainted with the cause by
which it is produced, yet its actual state of rottenness is evident:--a
horse is unsound, in consequence of some morbid affection that can be
pointed out by the veterinarian:--a dentist can detect an unsound
tooth:--a physician, from certain well marked symptoms, concludes that
the lungs or liver of an individual are unsound:--particular doctrines
are held to be unsound, because they deflect from such as are orthodox,
and it is presumed there may be an unsound exposition of the law. The
human mind, however, is not the subject of similar investigation; we
are able to discover no virus by which it is contaminated--no spreading
rottenness--no morbid leaven that ferments, or canker that corrodes it.

Although we may apply the word unsoundness, in a figurative or
metaphorical sense, to the human mind, yet we cannot detect in it any of
the marks or indications that characterize the unsoundness of substances
acknowledged to be in that state: it is, therefore, under this
conviction, and with the view of increasing our knowledge of the human
intellect, that, on the behalf of the members of the medical profession,
I venture to solicit your Lordship, on the first opportunity that may
occur, to elucidate the nature of this UNSOUNDNESS OF MIND, so that
physicians may be enabled thoroughly to ascertain its existence, and
conscientiously depose to that effect, and also that it may be
recognized by the jury, when they "proceed to make their inference," in
order that, by their return, your Lordship may appoint the proper
committees of the person and property.

Respecting the human intellect, two very opposite opinions prevail among
physiologists and metaphysicians. One party strenuously contends that
the phenomena of mind result from the peculiar organization of the
brain, although they confess themselves to be as "entirely ignorant how
the parts of the brain accomplish these purposes, as how the liver
secretes bile, how the muscles contract, or how any other living purpose
is effected."--The other maintains that we become intelligent beings
through the medium of a purer emanation, which they denominate SPIRIT,
diffused over, or united with, this corporeal structure. The former of
these suppositions is held by many grave and pious persons to be
incompatible with the doctrines of the Christian Religion; and if I am
not mistaken, your Lordship, on a late occasion, after having perused a
work attempting to establish such principles, did incline, by "rational
doubts," to suspect that these opinions were "directed against the truth
of Scripture."

It is particularly fortunate that the arguments concerning the nature of
unsoundness of mind and imbecility do not involve either of these
presumptions:--if the most decided victory over their opponents were to
be conceded to the fautors of organization, no advantage could be
derived from their philosophy by lawyer or physician, whose object is
to ascertain the existing state of an individual's mind, and not to
detect the morbid alterations of the cerebral structure by the scrutiny
of dissection: nor is it necessary, for the elucidation of the present
subject, to contend for the pre-eminence of the spiritual doctrine, as
it would be extremely difficult, and perhaps irreverent, to suppose,
that this immaterial property, this divine essence, that confers
perception, reverts into memory, and elaborates thought, can be
susceptible of unsoundness. These high attributes, proudly distinguished
from perishable matter;--this sanctuary, which "neither moth nor rust
doth corrupt," cannot undergo such subordinate changes, without an
obvious degradation.

To the furtherance of that pure and substantial justice, which it has
been the tenor of your Lordship's ministry to award, these metaphysical
disquisitions will in no manner contribute; nor will they assist the
medical practitioner in the attainment of his object, which is to
ascertain the competence of an individual's MIND, to conduct himself in
society, and to manage his affairs. By the abstract term MIND, is to be
understood the aggregate of the intellectual phenomena, which are
manifested or displayed to the observer by conversation and conduct; and
these are the only tests by which we can judge of an individual's mind.
The boasted deciphering of the human capacities or moral propensities,
by the appearances of the physiognomy, or by craniological surveys--the
mysterious pastimes of anatomical prophets, will never be accredited in
a court of justice while your Lordship guides the helm.

By conversation, is of course included the conveyance of thought by
writing, which, on many occasions, is a more accurate criterion of the
state of mind than oral expression.

Your Lordship seems to consider that we have derived some advantages by
the issue of a commission to ascertain this _unsoundness_ of mind, and
without such due consideration, it is presumed you would not have
adopted it; but the citation of your own accurate phraseology, as it
appears in your judgment of 1815, on the Portsmouth petition, will best
illustrate the subject. "It seems to have been a very long time before
those who had the administration of justice in this department thought
themselves at liberty to issue a commission, when the person was
represented as not being idiot ex nativitate, as not being lunatic, but
as being of UNSOUND MIND, importing, by these words, the notion, that
the party was in _some such state_, as was to be contra-distinguished
from idiotcy, and as was to be contra-distinguished from lunacy, and yet
_such_ as made him a proper object of a commission in the nature of a
commission to inquire of idiotcy, or a commission to inquire of lunacy."
These words clearly imply a morbid state of intellect, which is neither
idiotcy nor lunacy, termed _unsound mind_, and yet the legal remedy for
the protection of the person and property of the possessor of this
_unsound mind_ does not differ from that which is applied to idiot and
lunatic. The process of law is the same. This undescribed state of
unsoundness is contra-distinguished from idiotcy and lunacy; but we are
left in the dark concerning the peculiar circumstances by which it is
contra-distinguished, and under such defect the advantages of
introducing a new and undefined term are not apparent. For what purpose
"those who had the administration of justice in this department thought
themselves at liberty" so to act, is not explained: but your Lordship
having adopted such practice, and highly commended the authority from
whence it has been derived, can, doubtless, afford the necessary
elucidation.

For those venerable authorities of the law, who have preceded your
Lordship in this department of the administration of justice, I feel
impressed with the utmost deference and respect; and these grateful
sentiments will be rendered more intense whenever their reasons are
promulgated. Medical practitioners, who have devoted their lives to the
consideration and treatment of insanity, are disposed to doubt
concerning the existence of any intrinsic or positive unsoundness of
mind, as contra-distinguished from idiotcy and lunacy. Those who have
accumulated the largest sum of experience in disorders of the intellect,
have viewed the various forms under which they are manifested, as
equally conducing to render an individual incapable of conducting
himself and managing his affairs, whether the mental affection be termed
madness, melancholy, insanity, mental derangement, non compos mentis,
idiotcy, or lunacy; and, if it were necessary, a more ample catalogue
might be introduced. Physicians may, perhaps, be advantageously
occupied in establishing nice shades of difference in the symptoms of
mental disorder; and, if we do not already possess sufficient, may
create new terms expressive of these modifications: and such extension
of the nosological volume may have its practical utility: but the lawyer
can have no interest in such speculations, he only looks to the medical
evidence to demonstrate the existence of that _morbid_ condition of
intellect that renders the individual incompetent to conduct himself in
society, and to manage his affairs.

Speaking generally, the state of idiotcy is well understood, although
cases of an intricate nature may occasionally occur: but there is
considerable probability, that the interpretation that has adhered to
the term lunacy, more especially in the estimate of the lawyer, has been
the source of considerable error, and has also tended to introduce the
middle and undefined epithet of unsoundness. The old physicians, for
whom modern practitioners entertain less reverence than lawyers feel for
their predecessors, concurred, that lunatics were not only persons of
disordered mind, but that their intellectual aberrations corresponded
with certain changes of the moon: and this lunar hypothesis which had
beguiled the medical profession, will furnish a sufficient apology for
its adoption by the lawyer. It is a necessary consequence, if the moon,
at certain periods, shed a baneful influence on the human intellect,
that the intermediate periods would be exempt from its contamination;
or, speaking more technically, at certain phases of that luminary, a
person would be visited by an insane paroxysm, and at others, experience
a lucid interval. The belief in these alternations of insanity and
reason, is perspicuously stated in your Lordship's judgment of 1815, on
the Portsmouth petition. "The question whether he was a lunatic, being a
question admitting, in the solution of it, of a decision that imputed to
him, at one time, an _extremely sound mind_, but at other times, an
occurrence of insanity, with reference to which it was necessary to
guard his person and his property by a commission issuing."

Notwithstanding it must be admitted that

     "There are more things in heaven and earth
      Than are dreamt of in our philosophy;"

yet, in the present times, our faith in the influence of the lunar
aspects has considerably abated, and we employ the term lunatic as a
familiar expression, to denote a person of insane mind, without any
reference to its derivation, or supposed ascendency of the moon, which
my own observations have tended to disprove:--but as the phrase lucid
interval is, in its legal sense, connected with lunatic, some
investigation of its meaning becomes absolutely necessary.

If it were the real character of lunacy, after the visitation of the
paroxysm, to leave the patient in the possession of an _extremely sound
mind_, this disorder would be rendered much less formidable than we now
consider it, and might in its effects be compared to those violent
storms of thunder and lightning that purify the atmosphere and dispense
salutary refreshment; and it is not improbable, that some, gifted by
nature with mediocrity of talent, but of a philosophical turn and
aspiring pretensions, might regard the occurrence of such paroxysm as a
desideratum, rather than an evil, on account of the _extreme soundness_
they would experience afterwards: it is moreover evident, that however
degraded the lunatic may be in the estimation of vigorous and
enlightened intellects, yet this depreciated object, by the enjoyment of
occasional periods of bright understanding, has abundant cause for
taunt and triumph over the victim of unsoundness; whose state is
"contra-distinguished from lunacy," and as far as has been hitherto
ascertained, does not revel in the luxury of a lucid interval. But these
vicissitudes of intellectual obscurity and lustre have no real
existence;--they are not the offsprings of observation and experience,
but the abortions of hypothesis and precipitate deduction. Lunatics,
from the excitation of various causes, become at times more violent or
desponding, and these exacerbations are often succeeded by tranquillity
and cheerfulness, they are more tractable, and less impelled to urge the
subjects of their prevailing delusions: but this apparent quietude or
assumed complacency, does not imply a renunciation of their perverted
notions, which will be found predominant whenever they are skilfully
questioned. Inexperienced persons judge of the insane state from the
passions or feelings that usually accompany this disorder, and infer its
aggravation from the display of boisterous emotions or afflicting
apprehensions: the medical practitioner considers these sallies as the
mere concomitants of a perverted intellect. This view of the subject is
justified by a fact, of too much importance to be omitted on the present
occasion. Many lunatics, whose dangerous propensities it has been
prudent to control by a stricter restraint, and for a lengthened period,
eventually become harmless, and are safely permitted to enjoy many
indulgences incompatible with their former state: yet these persons
retain their original delusions, although they have acquired the habit
of arresting the impulses which these delusions prompted. It may
therefore be inferred, that a lucid interval is equivalent to the
complete recovery of the patient, and implies the absolute departure of
_all_ those delusions from his mind, that constituted his
lunacy:--leaving him in a condition to sustain a thorough examination,
not shrinking from particular subjects, nor "blenching," though "tented
to the quick;"--and clearly perceiving by contrast the delusions that
had prevailed, and the reason that has supervened.

The term INTERVAL, by which the duration of rational discourse and
conduct is to be estimated, although of sufficiently precise meaning, is
yet susceptible of the most extended signification; and we speak with
equal correctness when we say the interval of a moment and of a thousand
years. The time necessary to comprise a LUCID interval has not, to the
best of my belief, been limited by medical writers or legal
authorities; it must however comprehend a portion sufficient to satisfy
the inquirer, that the individual, whose intellect had been disordered,
does not any longer retain any of the symptoms that constituted his
malady; and this presumes on the part of the examiner an intimate
knowledge of the unfounded prejudices, delusions, or incapacities with
which the mind of the party had been affected, and also deliberate and
repeated investigations to ascertain that they are wholly effaced.


IMBECILITY.

THERE is another subject connected in a legal point of view with the
nature of the human mind, and with the state of its morbid conditions,
on which I respectfully solicit your Lordship's elucidation. In your
Lordship's judgment of 1815, on the Portsmouth petition, it is laid down
that "from the moment that (meaning this questionable and disputed
unsoundness) had been established, down to this moment, it appears to me
however to have been at the same time established, that _whatever_ may
be the degree of weakness or imbecility of the party,--_whatever_ may be
the degree of incapacity of the party to manage his own affairs, if the
finding of the jury is only that he was of an extreme imbecility of
mind, that he has an inability to manage his own affairs; if they will
not proceed to infer from that, in their finding upon oath, that he is
of _unsound mind_, they have not established by the result of the
inquiry, a case upon which the Chancellor can make a grant, constituting
a committee either of the person or estate. All the cases decide that
mere imbecility will not do: that an inability to manage a man's affairs
will not do, unless that inability and that incapacity to manage his
affairs, AMOUNT to evidence that he is of _unsound mind_: and he must be
found to be so."

A conclusion is here drawn that the establishment of _unsoundness_
necessarily involves, that the extreme degree of imbecility and
incapacity of mind does not constitute this unsoundness: that is,--they
may exist in the extreme degree, (or citing the words employed,) in any
degree WHATEVER, which implies the ne plus ultra, without any resulting
UNSOUNDNESS. This is a dictum, which proceeding from your Lordship, the
highest authority, is intitled to the utmost deference:--but it is not
an inference from any acknowledged premises, nor established by the
intervention of any corroborating argument. The very existence of this
intrinsic unsoundness, is "down to the present moment" unproved, and all
that can be inferred in this state of the question, is the accredited
maxim that

     "Nil agit exemplum litem quod lite resolvit."

By the common consent of philosophers and physicians, mental imbecility
in the extreme degree is termed idiotcy; and this state may exist "ex
nativitate," or supervene at various periods of human life. When a child
proceeds from infancy to adolescence, and from that state advances to
maturity, with a capacity of acquiring progressively the knowledge which
will enable him to conduct himself in society and to manage his
affairs,--so that he is viewed as a responsible agent and considered
"inter homines homo," such a being is regarded of _sound_ capacity or
intellect:--but if in his career from infancy to manhood it is clearly
ascertained that education is hopeless,--that the seeds of instruction
take "no root, and wither away,"--that he is deficient in the capacity
to attain the information requisite to pilot himself through the world
and manage his concerns, such a person would be deemed an idiot, and it
might be safely concluded that his intellect was _unsound_, by wanting
those capacities that constitute the sound mind. According to your
Lordship's exposition he could not be pronounced _unsound_, because this
word implies "_some such state_, as is to be _contra-distinguished_ from
idiotcy." In order that a definite signification may be affixed to the
expression "_some such state_," it will not, I trust, be deemed
indecorous to ask, what particular condition of morbid intellect is to
be understood by this "some such state?" The solution of this difficulty
would be most acceptable to the practitioners of medicine, and in my own
humble opinion of great relief to the jury, who are called upon to
"proceed to infer" this state of unsoundness without any other premises
than the words "_some such state_." Although we are distinctly told by
your Lordship, that the extreme degree of imbecility or incapacity will
not constitute this "_some such state_" that may be denominated
unsoundness; yet I feel highly satisfied with the force and precision by
which it is expressed in the words "_whatever degree_," which if a scale
were constructed on which imbecility might be estimated, would imply the
ultimate gradation; and whenever any subject can be regulated by
definite quantity, expressed in numbers, it conveys the most certain
information. Your Lordship may however judge of the surprize and
disappointment I felt when I arrived at the following sentence in the
same judgment, "All the cases decide that mere imbecility will not do;
that an inability to manage a man's affairs will not do, unless that
inability and that incapacity to manage his affairs AMOUNT to evidence
that he is of unsound mind, and he must be found to be so."

This, my Lord, is an ample confession that there is a degree of mental
weakness that _does_ amount to unsoundness, and in this opinion all
philosophers and medical practitioners will unhesitatingly concur: but
at the same time this admission wholly upsets the former doctrine, that
no degree of imbecility "WHATEVER" can constitute this required
unsoundness. In your Lordship's judgment on the Portsmouth petition,
delivered the 11th December, 1822, it is stated, "It may be very
difficult to draw the line between such weakness, which is the proper
object of relief in this court, and such as AMOUNTS to insanity," and in
the next sentence, "This is the doctrine of Lord Hardwicke, and I
follow him in saying it is very difficult to draw the line between such
weakness which is the proper object of relief in this court, and such
as AMOUNTS to insanity." This is a second corroboration of an opinion
that destroys the former doctrine. Finally in the "minutes of conference
between your Lordship and certain physicians, held on the 7th January,
1823, in the Portsmouth case," there is an endeavour to explain the
nature of _unsoundness_, and of imbecility or weakness;--but it is
insufficient to direct the physician to any clue whereby his doubts can
be solved, and unfortunately relapses into the original contradictory
statement. "The commission which is usually termed a commission of
lunacy, and which because it has that name, I observe many persons are
extremely misled with respect to the nature of it, and which produced on
a former occasion, with respect to this nobleman, a great mass of
affidavits, in which they stated he was not an object of a commission of
Lunacy.--I say that these words are not much understood.--The law
acknowledges the state of idiotcy, and the state of lunacy, which
properly understood, is a very different thing from that sort of
unsoundness of mind which renders a man incapable of managing his
affairs or his person.--And it has now been long settled, not that a
commission of lunacy is to be issued; but that a commission is to issue
in the nature of a writ de lunatico inquirendo, and then the object of
the commission is perfectly satisfied, if the jury shall find upon
satisfactory evidence, that the party is of unsound mind, and incapable
of managing his own affairs.--The finding of him incapable of managing
his own affairs, is not sufficient to authorize further proceedings, but
there must be a finding that he is of _unsound_ mind, and unable to
manage his affairs:--incapacity to manage his affairs being considered
as evidence of unsound mind:--yet there may be, (and that every man's
mind will suggest) instances of incapacity to manage a man's affairs,
and yet _no_ unsoundness of mind." That many persons are extremely
misled with respect to a commission of lunacy, and too frequently
concerning all other subjects, is fully admitted: and it is equally
clear that the great mass of affidavits produced in 1814, in favor of
Lord Portsmouth's soundness of intellect (for I have attentively perused
the whole catalogue) did not go into the investigation of the supposed
difference between this hypothetical unsoundness and lunacy; but
attested, as far as his Lordship's conversation and conduct had been
the subject of their observation and judgment, that he was not a man
labouring under any infirmity, or morbid state of mind, that ought, by
any legal restraint, to disqualify him from the management of himself
and his affairs. With such opinions I have no concern; they can only be
regarded as negative evidence, and cannot operate against manifold overt
acts of insanity.

In the progress of this respectful address, after numerous but
unsuccessful endeavours to grapple with this _sort_ of unsoundness,
suspicions have arisen that I have been pursuing a phantom;--at times I
have fondly imagined it within my immediate grasp, but it has always
evaded my seizure with unaccountable dexterity:--it even now appears
that I could "clutch" it, as your Lordship distinctly asserts that,
"lunacy _properly understood_ is a _very different thing_ from that
_sort_ of _unsoundness_ which renders a man incapable of managing his
affairs or his person." This is at once coming manfully to the point;
for the disclosure (whenever it may take place) of the circumstances
that constitute lunacy properly understood, which means as it _ought_ to
be understood, a very different thing from this sort of unsoundness,
will be the solution of this desideratum,--and this development will
impose a considerable weight of obligation on the medical profession.

It now only remains to consider the last material sentence, delivered by
your Lordship at this conference, and which to my limited comprehension,
appears, in the same breath, to affirm and deny the same position. "The
finding of him incapable of managing his own affairs, is not sufficient
to authorize further proceedings, but there must be a finding that he is
of _unsound_ mind, and unable to manage his affairs:--incapacity to
manage his affairs, being considered as EVIDENCE of unsound mind."

With the citation of this memorable sentence,--unadulterated by any
comment, I shall conclude this address to your Lordship, submitting at
the same time my own impressions on the subject:--that, to search for
its correct exposition is reverential to the law: to crave its
elucidation from its exalted minister is an act of respectful
deference:--this solicitude is increased from the consideration that the
written opinion of the medical practitioner is deposed on oath, and
that he is examined by the commissioners and jury under the same awful
responsibility:--therefore, when the solemnity of that obligation is
contemplated, the anxiety for accurate information will scarcely require
an apology.

  I am, my Lord,
      with the utmost respect,
          your Lordship's
              very obedient servant,
                  JOHN HASLAM.

  _No. 2, Hart Street, Bloomsbury,
             May, 1823._



_Works by the same Author._


OBSERVATIONS on MADNESS and MELANCHOLY.

ILLUSTRATIONS of MADNESS, with a plate.

On the MORAL MANAGEMENT of the INSANE.

MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE, as it relates to INSANITY.

A LETTER to the GOVERNORS of BETHLEM HOSPITAL.

SOUND MIND, or the Physiology of Intelligent Beings.

***

A new edition of the OBSERVATIONS on MADNESS and MELANCHOLY, with
considerable additions, will shortly appear.

***

Printed by G. Hayden, Little College Street, Westminster.


FOOTNOTES:

[A] The following citation was introduced, with some comments, in my
work on MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE, as it relates to INSANITY, according to
the Law of England, 1817, which is now out of print.

[B] Lord Portsmouth's Commission.



[Transcriber's Note: Other than one correction (p. 8, 'ideot' to 'idiot'
in 'when the person was represented as not being idiot ex nativitate'),
all archaic and unusual spelling (e.g. idiotcy) has been left as in the
original.]





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