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Title: Reports of Trials for Murder by Poisoning; - by Prussic Acid, Strychnia, Antimony, Arsenic, and Aconita.
Author: Stewart, C. G., Browne, G. Lathom
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Reports of Trials for Murder by Poisoning; - by Prussic Acid, Strychnia, Antimony, Arsenic, and Aconita." ***

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                      TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES:

—Obvious print and punctuation errors were corrected.

—The subscript numbers, used in chemical formulae, have been rendered
 as H_{2}SO_{4}.

                           REPORTS OF TRIALS


                         MURDER BY POISONING.

                           REPORTS OF TRIALS


                         MURDER BY POISONING;


                        ARSENIC, AND ACONITIA.

                             INCLUDING THE



                           THE POISONS USED.


                           G. LATHOM BROWNE,

                  STATE TRIALS IN THE 19TH CENTURY,”


                            C. G. STEWART,



                 STEVENS AND SONS, 119, CHANCERY LANE,

                    Law Publishers and Booksellers.





THIS volume of selected reports of the most remarkable trials for
murder by poisoning, which have been held during the past half century,
with essays and notes explanatory of the nature, and operation,
and methods of detecting the various poisons supposed to have been
employed, will it is hoped prove useful to the medical, as well as
the legal profession. With this object the evidence of the medical
and chemical witnesses has been given in detail, especially in those
cases in which a conflict of scientific testimony arose, between
experts of the highest professional character and reputation. Care has
also been taken to state the scientific nomenclature of this class of
witness correctly, a point on which the shorthand writers, otherwise
so reliable, are naturally liable to fail, catching as they do only
the sounds of a language unknown to them, in reporting which the error
even in a single letter is often most important. My colleague, besides
furnishing the latest information obtainable with reference to the
various poisons, has offered from recent experiments, made specially
for this purpose, explanations of those points in the several trials
about which the rival experts disputed, bringing to bear on them the
latest discoveries in chemical science.

In preparing these reports, I have followed the form adopted by the
late Mr. Townsend, the Recorder of Macclesfield, in his valuable
volumes of trials—now I believe quite out of print—grouping the
witnesses under the heads of the case to which their evidence specially
applied, dividing the scientific from the moral testimony, and wherever
a conflict arose between the experts called for the prosecution and
those for the defence, giving the evidence of the latter immediately
after that of the former, so as to place the points at issue more
clearly before the reader.

It would have been impossible, within reasonable limits, to have
reported in detail the elaborate speeches of counsel (most of them
models of argument, criticism, and eloquence), or the minute and
exhaustive charges of many of the presiding judges. The abstracts
which have been given will, however, serve to perpetuate the most
important and notable parts of both. In some of the cases the immediate
application of these either to certain points in the evidence, or to
the arguments adduced on either side, has been shown by quotations in
the notes. With these exceptions, and a few notes pointing out errors
or discrepancies in the evidence, I have generally forborne to express
an opinion on the verdict, preferring to present such reports of the
evidence as may enable the student to form his own conclusions.

With the progress of chemical science the field of the poisoner
is constantly extending. New poisons are yearly discovered, each
succeeding one apparently more difficult of detection than the former.
Death lurks in many unsuspected forms, and but for the parallel march
of the science of detection, the poisoner would more often escape. A
grave danger to society, too, lies in the patent medicines, so popular
and so perilous; in the vermin killers, loaded with deadly poison,
which can be bought without let or hindrance by any one; and the use
of preparations for animals—not so deleterious to the latter, as they
are death-dealing—if either intentionally or by accident given to a
human being. Stringent as the regulations of the Poisons Act appear on
paper, the facility with which Lamson purchased aconitia, merely on the
credit of his name appearing in the Medical Directory, and the really
unrestricted sale of patent medicines and vermin-killers, mark the
practical inutility of the Act. A new Act, dealing with these points,
has been promised by the Government, but there seems little probability
of its passing this session.

  G. L. B.

       *       *       *       *       *

IN the compilation of these chemical notes it has been found very
difficult to be sufficiently simple and complete in explanation for
non-scientific readers, without either sacrificing many important
details, or exceeding the limited space available. I have attempted
as far as possible not only to solve the questions that arose in the
trials, but to look forward to many that might occur in future cases.
No claim is laid to originality except in a few experiments; but the
search through existing authorities has involved so much labour, that I
must plead a very limited leisure as an excuse for any incompleteness.
In such portions as touched on medicine I have been guided by the later
text-books, and by living advice. It has been thought preferable to
give references in the text, at the very passage quoted, instead of in

With regard to the proposed new Poisons Act one or two considerations
should not be forgotten. There are hundreds of ways of taking life: the
poisoner’s is only one. Even in his method the number of fatal agents
he may use is almost unlimited. To make a schedule of certain poisons
that are not to be sold without restriction, seems like prohibiting
knives, while allowing stilettos—the latter are certainly less usual,
but quite as fatal. Moreover, the Act of 1868 only affects one channel
by which poisons may reach the public—viz., through the retail
chemists. It secures a record of ordinary shop purchases, and thus
facilitates the tracing of crime. But the channels of trade are still
open: hundred-weights of arsenic are obtained, where ounces could not
be purchased; and these large stocks are often carelessly kept, and
left open to servants, workmen, or even children. The result is that
the supposed restrictions on obtaining poisons are almost illusory:
these substances are sown broadcast among ignorant people, and are
placed in cupboards unlabelled among articles of food. The following
are recent illustrations:—

 “At Corkley, Wilts, the wife of a labourer used, instead of
 baking-powder, a packet of arsenic, intended by her husband as
 medicine for his horses. The husband and wife died.”—_Weekly
 Dispatch, May 6, 1883._

 “At Whitchurch, a farmer was accused of poisoning a large number of
 cattle and other animals with arsenic. In 1881 he had obtained several
 pounds of it from Liverpool, stating that he wanted it to destroy
 vermin.”—_Evening Standard, June 2, 1883._

In the schedule of the 1868 Act, among the _less dangerous poisons_,
to be obtained without restriction beyond proper labelling, appears,
“Almonds, Essential Oil of (_unless deprived of prussic acid_).” Yet
this preparation is one of the most perilous, as has been shown by
numbers of deaths, and lately by the West Malling case (not yet ripe
enough for reporting). There are also other faults in the schedule.

Remembering, then, that legislation on the sale of poisons is utterly
unable to _prevent_ poisoning, that all it can do is to make the means
a little difficult, and the detection more easy, how can we approve
the proposal at this moment made, to tack on a few, very tentative
clauses to an unsuccessful Act, and four more names to a very defective
schedule? Why insert chloride of antimony, and omit nitrate of silver,
sulphate of copper, and chloride of tin? The essence of a “poison” is
_quantity_; and no Act which does not specify the maximum quantity
that may be sold, can be effective. Beyond this, why should it be more
criminal to _sell_ a dangerous substance to a poisoner than to _give_
it to him, or by culpable negligence to allow him to take possession of
it? If such neglect were made punishable, if people who left arsenic,
&c., about in cupboards without precaution, had to suffer for the
consequences, we should hear less of such “accidents.”

I am deeply indebted to Dr. Bernays, Professor of Chemistry at St.
Thomas’s Hospital, for kind advice and facilities of consultation and
experiment; to Doctors Harley, Ord, Acland, and to my namesake, Mr.
Charles Stewart, F.L.S., for many valuable suggestions; and especially
to Mr. E. G. Clayton, F.C.S., who contributed the main part of the
chapter on Aconitia, and helped me materially in other portions of the
chemical notes.

The main authorities drawn upon have been:—

  Taylor’s Medical Jurisprudence, 1873.
  Taylor on Poisons.
  Woodman and Tidy’s Handy-Book of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology,
  Blyth’s Manual of Practical Chemistry, 1879.
  Guy and Ferrier’s Forensic Medicine, 1881.
  Allen’s Commercial Organic Analysis, 1879.
  Royle’s Materia Medica, edited by Dr. J. Harley, 1876.
  Christison on Poisons, 1829.
  Fresenius’ Qual. and Quant. Analysis.
  Watt’s Dictionary of Chemistry.
  Chemical Society’s Journal.
  Chemical News, Lancet, &c.
  Farquharson’s Therapeutics.
  Mohr’s Toxicologie, trans. by Gautier, 1876.
  Casper’s Handbook of Forensic Medicine, trans. by Balfour, 1861-5.
  Beilstein’s Organische Chemie, 1882.
  Year Book of Pharmacy.
  British and other Pharmacopœias.
  Squire’s Companion.

In conclusion, it has been obviously impossible in the limited space to
explain elementary facts or principles. These may be ascertained from
any of the standard textbooks.

  C. G. S.




  ” PROCESS FOR OBTAINING PURE CHLORINE                              xvi



  Summary of symptoms exhibited by various poisons: (1) Sudden
  death—(2) Insensibility—(3) Vomiting—(4) Action on the eye—(5)
  Convulsions—(6) Chronic poisoning. Alkaloids, chemically
  and physiologically—Processes for their detection—Necessity
  for keeping the extracts separate—Dragendorff’s process—Dr.
  Guy’s sublimation process—Effects on animals—Doubtful value
  of this test—Preparation and effects of reagents: (1)
  Mayer’s—(2) Potassium tri-iodide—(3) Sonnenschein’s test—(4)
  Bismuth—(5) Phosphotungstic acid—(6) Picric acid—(7) Animal
  charcoal—(8) Platinic chloride—(9) Tannin or Tannic acid—(10)
  Phospho-antimonic acid—(11) Silico-tungstic acid—(12) Auric,
  palladium and mercuric chlorides—Ptomaines or cadaveric
  alkaloids; difficulties raised by their discovery—Principles to
  be observed in analysing                                             1


  TRIALS FOR POISONING BY PRUSSIC ACID                                16

  (1) John Tawell (_Slough Case_), March, 1850.

  (2) George Ball (_Lewes Case_), July, 1860.

  (3) Peter Walker (_Egglesham Case_), Dec., 1857.



  Nature of—Strength of different preparations of, English
  and foreign—Where found—Tests, preliminary: (1) Odour—(2)
  Silver—(3) Prussian blue—(4) Sulphur—(5) Guaiacum—(6)
  Uranium—(7) Picric acid—(8) Cupric sulphate—(9) Cobalt
  chloride—(10) Mercuric oxide—(11) Peroxide of hydrogen—(12)
  Mercurous nitrate. Test apparatus—Salts of hydrocyanic acid:
  (1) Potassium cyanide—(2) Mercuric cyanide—(3) Cyanides of
  the heavy metals—(4) Double cyanides—(5) Sulphocyanides—Oil
  of bitter almonds—Antidotes—Fatal dose—Symptoms—Post-mortem
  appearances—Drops and minims—Period after death at which
  hydrocyanic acid can be discovered—Formic acid to be tested
  for—Processes                                                       55


  TRIALS FOR POISONING BY STRYCHNIA                                   84

  (1) William Palmer (_Rugeley Case_), May, 1856.
  (2) William Dove (_Leeds Case_), July, 1856.
  (3) Silas Barlow (_Vauxhall Case_), November, 1876.



   Contained in St. Ignatius’s bean—False Angostura bark—_Nux
  Vomica_, &c.—Properties of strychnia—Facility of detection.
  _Tests_: (1) Microscope—(2) Taste—(3) Color test; ditto in
  other alkaloids, in bile, and in resinous and saccharine
  matters—(4) Physiological test (Marshall Hall)—(5) Bichromate
  of potash—(6) Picric acid—(7) Sulphuric acid and sodium
  nitrite—(8) Mercuric chloride. Preparations of strychnia:
  _Vermin killers_—Battle’s, Gibson’s, Miller’s, Marsden’s,
  Barber’s, Hunter’s, Keating’s—_Brucia_—_Igasuria_—_Igasuric
  acid_. _Doses of strychnia_: medicinal, fatal, recovery—_Nux
  vomica_. _Fatal period_ for strychnia—_Symptoms_ in man,
  commencement of symptoms, if given in powder, in solution,
  in pills. _Explanation of symptoms_: by hysteria, tetanus,
  epilepsy, gritty granules on spinal cord—Angina pectoris.
  _Post-mortem_ appearances—Treatment—Antidotes—Dr. Taylor’s
  evidence—Ptomaine—Did Cook die from morphia?—_Granular
  preparations_ at St. Thomas’s Hospital                             276


  TRIALS FOR POISONING BY ARSENIC                                    294

  (1) Madeline Smith (_Glasgow Case_), June, 1857.
  (2) Ann Merritt (_Clapton Case_), March, 1850.



  The element (arsenicum)—The oxide (white
  arsenic)—Arsenicum—Arsenicum trioxide. Forms of: (1)
  Crystalline—(2) Amorphous—Solubility. Uses and occurrences: (1)
  Steeping, wheat—(2) Preservation of skins—(3) Antiseptics—(4)
  Glass making—(5) Fur in boilers—(6) Candles—(7) Preservation
  of wood—(8) Sheep washes—(9) Scheele’s green and emerald
  green as pigments in sweets (case of Franklin and Randall),
  wall papers, toys, &c.—(10) Medicinal—(11) For horses—(12)
  Tooth-stopping—(13) Aniline dyes—(14) Fireworks—(15) Rat
  and fly poisons (case of Maria Gage)—(16) For cleansing
  metals—(17) Arsenic eaters—(18) Cosmetics—(19) For bronzing
  metals—(20) Beer brewed from glucose—(21) American paper
  collars—(22) Speculum metal—(23) Inhalation for asthma and
  bronchitis—(24) Mineral waters. Sulphides of Arsenic: (1)
  Orpiment (case of M. A. Burdock)—(2) Realgar. Arsenic acid—The
  arsenates—Arsenic trichloride—Arseniuretted hydrogen—Methods
  of extraction—Tests—Modifications of old processes
  suggested—Marsh’s test, distinction of results in arsenic
  and antimony—Reinsch’s test—Doses—Antidotes—Physiological
  effects—Remarks—Did L’Angelier commit suicide?                     373


  TRIALS FOR POISONING BY ANTIMONY                                   397

  (1) Dr. Pritchard (_Glasgow Case_), July, 1865.
  (2) Dr. Smethurst (_Richmond Case_), August, 1859.
  (3) Thos. Winslow (_Liverpool Case_), August, 1860.



   Properties of the metal—Alloys—Compounds—Chlorides,
  sulphides, oxides, hydride. Tartar emetic—solubility,
  composition, uses and occurrence—commercial, veterinary,
  medicinal. Doses and preparations—fatal dose, fatal period.
  Physiological effects—Antidotes—Separations and tests—(1)
  Reinsch’s—Presence of antimony; purity of the copper employed,
  how to be secured; different stains resulting from presence
  of arsenic, antimony, mercury, bismuth, tin, silver, gold,
  platinum, palladium, sulphur compounds—(2) Dr. Maclagan’s test
  in Pritchard’s trial—(3) Marsh’s test—Remarks on Pritchard’s
  trial—On Smethurst’s trial—Dr. Taylor and Mr. Herapath—Arsenic
  in bismuth—Antimony in grey powder                                 490



  (1) McConkey—Dublin.
  (2) G. H. Lamson (_Wimbledon Case_), December, 1881.



  Plants: Aconitum napellus—A. ferox. Alkaloids:
  aconitia—Pseudaconitia—other bases—Decompositions—Proportions
  in the plants. Commercial aconitia—German aconitia—English
  aconitia. Separation—Tests, chemical and physiological.
  History—Preparations, official and non-official. Physiological
  effects—Causes of death—Post-mortem appearances—Treatment and
  antidotes—Remarks                                                  568

   INDEX                                                             583



THE following is my own experience of the differences between strychnia
and morphia.—C. G. S.

  │                           │      MORPHIA.       │  STRYCHNIA.      │
  │Concent. H_{2}SO_{4}—cold. │If pure, nothing at  │If pure, nothing. │
  │                           │   first.            │Some yellow─brown.│
  │   ”           ”    warmed.│Violet, not strong.  │       Do.        │
  │  To this warmed solution  │                     │                  │
  │add:—                      │                     │                  │
  │         MnO_{2}.          │Red, changing slowly │_Deep blue purple_│
  │                           │ to brown, then      │  —tored purple—  │
  │                           │ orange. On dilution,│cherryred—finally │
  │                           │ yellow─brown.       │(changes slow). On│
  │                           │                     │ dilution, rich   │
  │                           │                     │ orange red.      │
  │      K_{6}Cfy_{2}.        │Violet, changing to  │Same changes, but │
  │                           │ orange; not strong. │ more rapid and   │
  │                           │ On dilution, at once│ less distinct. On│
  │                           │ destroyed to        │ dilution, at once│
  │                           │ greenish─yellow     │ destroyed to     │
  │                           │ solution, turning   │ greenish─yellow  │
  │                           │blue.                │ solution.        │
  │    K_{2}Cr_{2}O_{7}.      │Red─brown,           │Same as with      │
  │                           │ orange─brown,       │ MnO_{2}, but more│
  │                           │ _green_.            │ evanescent and   │
  │                           │ On dilution,        │ rapid in change. │
  │                           │ _green_.            │ On dilution, at  │
  │                           │                     │ once  removed to │
  │                           │                     │ yellowish─brown. │
  │     HNO_{3} concent.      │_Intense brownish─   │_In the cold,     │
  │                           │ red_, changing      │ nothing if pure._│
  │                           │ to brown— bleached  │ On warming,      │
  │                           │ by SnCl_{2}.        │ orange─yellow    │
  │                           │                     │ —then SnCl_{2}   │
  │                           │                     │ _brown_  changing│
  │                           │                     │ with excess to   │
  │                           │                     │ yellow.          │


The chlorine used in the separation of arsenic (p. 385) must be _pure_.
The best process for making it is to heat _pure_ potass. dichromate
with _pure_ hydrochloric acid. The latter may be obtained by heating
the “pure” acid of commerce in a retort until a portion of the
distillate gives no indication of arsenic by the tests. The remainder
in the retort is then arsenic-free.

       *       *       *       *       *


Page 397, line 11, _for_ “Waislow,” _read_, “Winslow.”




 Summary of symptoms exhibited by various poisons: (1) Sudden
 death—(2) Insensibility—(3) Vomiting—(4) Action on the eye—(5)
 Convulsions—(6) Chronic poisoning. Alkaloids, chemically and
 physiologically—Processes for their detection—Necessity for keeping
 the extracts separate—Dragendorff’s process—Dr. Guy’s sublimation
 process—Effects on animals—Doubtful value of this test—Preparation
 and effects of reagents: (1) Mayer’s—(2) Potassium tri-iodide—(3)
 Sonnenschein’s test—(4) Bismuth—(5) Phosphotungstic acid—(6) Picric
 acid—(7) Animal charcoal—(8) Platinic chloride—(9) Tannin or tannic
 acid—(10) Phospho-antimonic acid—(11) Silico-tungstic acid—(11)
 Auric, palladium and mercuric chlorides—Ptomaines or cadaveric
 alkaloids; difficulties raised by their discovery—Principles to be
 observed in analysing.

BEFORE proceeding to a separate examination of the poisons used in
the following trials, it will be advisable to take a general view
of poisons, specially noticing those that we have selected as the
most important legally. They do not admit, perhaps, of accurate
classification, but inasmuch as the manner of death and symptoms are
usually the most available indication as to the nature of the poison
that has acted, the following arrangement will be serviceable. The
heads indicate the most prominent symptom:

I. SUDDEN DEATH.—Large quantities of any poison might be rapid
in fatal result, but the sudden poisons proper are:—concentrated
sulphuric, nitric, and hydrochloric acids; poisonous gases and vapours,
such as carbonic acid and sulphuretted hydrogen (_see_ Casper’s
Forensic Medicine, Case CCXLI.), carbonic oxide, arseniuretted and
antimoniuretted hydrogen, and certain rare organic compounds, as
kakodyl, &c.; strychnia sometimes, oxalic acid in large doses,
chloroform under certain circumstances. But beyond all others, the
quickest of poisons is _hydrocyanic or prussic acid_.

II. INSENSIBILITY, generally following nervous excitement. Morphia
and opium; henbane (_Hyoscyamus_); stramonium; belladonna; nicotine
(_tobacco_); darnel (_lolium temulentum_); hemlock (_Conium
maculatum_); water hemlock (_Œnanthe crocata_); fool’s parsley (_Æthusa
cynapium_), [Dr. J. Harley shows that this is not so poisonous
as believed: _see_ St. Thomas’s Hospital Reports, x. 25]; Indian
hemp (_Cannabis indica_); Woody Nightshade (_Solanum dulcamara_);
Solanum nigrum; the berries of Potato (_Solanum tuberosum_); Lobelia
inflata: Foxglove (_Digitalis_); cocculus indicus; certain fungi
(notably _Amanita muscaria_); chloroform; chloral; butylchloral
—“croton chloral”): amylene; methylene dichloride; sulphuretted
hydrogen; carbonic oxide; and many other substances usually classed as

III. VOMITING.—Irritant poisons, such as acids, alkalies, alkaline
salts in considerable doses (even common salt has proved fatal: _see_
Christison[1]); most soluble compounds of the heavy metals (especially
antimony, arsenic, zinc, and copper); certain vegetal alkaloids (from
colchicum, laburnum, yew, savin, ipecacuanha, capsicum, pepper,
ergot, many species of Ranunculaceæ, the Hellebores, and some fungi);
cantharides, turpentine, and essential oils, &c. Pain in the digestive
organs, purging, and general inflammation are commonly present. Most of
the medicinal purgatives will produce sickness and vomiting if given in
overdoses; of course unwholesome food or disease may frequently be the

IV. ACTION ON THE EYE.—Opium and morphia, calabar bean, aconite (?),
and strychnia, _contract_ the pupil: belladonna, henbane, tobacco,
stramonium, digitalis and hemlock, _dilate_ the pupil. The effect is
often temporary, and sometimes is reversed after a time. It is a
valuable indication in after-experiments on animals.

V. CONVULSIONS.—Strychnia, brucia, and some fungi: but this symptom
is by no means confined to these, and may even result as tetanus, from
disease or irritants (_see_ Trial of Palmer). Morphia, in rare cases,
has also caused it.

VI. CHRONIC POISONING, prostration and wasting. Antimony, mercury,
and lead in small repeated doses. With the two latter, but more
especially with lead, there is a _blue line at the edge of the gums_;
constipation and colic, paralysis and trembling of the limbs. As lead
frequently occurs as an impurity in food, and also may be absorbed by
those working with it, these symptoms may be often accidental. Mercury
also is given, less than of old, it is true, but still systematically
by some, as a regular course in syphilis, &c.: also to children in
teething powders. Antimony has been almost abandoned in medicine, from
its depressant effect. In these cases, motive, amount, and necessity
of dose, and right to administer, must be considered before wilful
poisoning can be proved. The analysis, therefore, must be strictly
_quantitative_, which is fortunately tolerably easy.

The above summary is by no means perfect, since there are minor
differences in each class, which may sometimes rise into such
prominence as to confuse the classification. But in medical evidence
on the individual poisons of which we treat, those physiologically
resembling them in action are always most heard of at the trial, and
questions are asked whether this or that may not produce the same
symptoms; and hence it is well to direct attention to the analogues of
our types.

The primary idea of an _alkaloid_ is derived from its resemblance to
an _alkali_. Alkaloids are often called also “Organic Bases.” Their
names terminate in—_ia_ or _ine_.[2] They are more or less alkaline
to test paper, and combine with acids to form salts which are neutral
in reaction and often crystallizable. Only a few of the alkaloids
are liquid and easily volatile, but almost all can be volatilized
by careful heating at definite temperatures, giving in many cases
a sublimate of characteristic appearance under the microscope,
either of crystals, globules, or a mere film. In a free state, the
alkaloids are very slightly soluble in water, but soluble in alcohol,
and generally in ether and chloroform. Some are soluble in benzine,
others in amylic alcohol, petroleum spirit, acetic ether, &c. On a
judicious use of these various solvents depend the different processes
of isolation, among which Dragendorff’s is the most complete, but so
complicated that it is rarely used in its entirety. Fortunately there
is generally a clue more or less definite to the probable poison
administered, enabling a shorter and quicker method to be adopted. For
further details as to these processes see Blyth’s Manual of Practical
Chemistry. The sulphates, chlorides, and acetates of the alkaloids
are generally soluble in water; if ammonia or potash be added to the
solution, a precipitate (usually crystalline) of the free alkaloid
occurs if the solution be of moderate strength.

Chemically, the alkaloids are derived from ammonia (NH_{3}) by
substituting various organic groups or “compound radicles” (compounds
of carbon and hydrogen), for the hydrogen of the ammonia. They are
therefore “compound ammonias,” or “amines.” Nitrogen, carbon, and
hydrogen, are always present in natural alkaloids, the non-volatile
ones, including the greater number, also contain oxygen.

Physiologically, alkaloids as a class have a powerful action on
the human and animal frame. The medicinal properties of plants are
generally due to these substances, though many are still undiscovered
or imperfectly known. They exist in the plant combined with vegetal
acids, some of which are characteristic, as aconitic acid in aconite,
meconic in opium, igasuric (?) in nux vomica, &c. The very small
quantity which may sometimes be fatal (a fraction of a grain of the
pure alkaloid), the indefiniteness of many of their chemical reactions,
and the facility with which they decompose if too high a heat, or too
strong reagents, be employed in their extraction, render the detection
often a difficult, and sometimes an impossible matter. Fortunately,
however, fresh tests and better processes develop from every case, and
other indications, from symptoms and collateral circumstances, rarely
fail to bring home the guilt even to the most ingenious and scientific
of poisoners.

For extracting the alkaloids from animal matters the following process
has been used by the author. Mince finely, digest with rectified spirit
and enough acetic acid to _just acidify_, warm to blood-heat for 15
minutes, filter: this is the first extract. Warm the insoluble matters
with more alcohol and filter again: this is the second extract. Repeat
the extraction a third time. _Keep the three extracts separate._ Each
should be evaporated at as low a temperature as possible, not exceeding
50° C., and preferably in a vacuum at the ordinary temperature, if this
can be done fairly quickly. The syrupy residues must be treated with
water and a drop of acetic acid, passed through wet filters to separate
fat, rendered just alkaline with ammonia, and shaken with a moderate
quantity of a mixture of equal volumes of ether and chloroform (Allen).
By a stoppered funnel or burette the ethereal layer is separated,
the shaking with ether and chloroform and the separation repeated a
second and a third time, the ethereal extracts mixed, transferred to
a large porcelain dish, and evaporated, first in a current of air,
then in a vacuum or spontaneously. As the solvents evaporate, water
generally appears: this hinders any crystallization. Therefore the
residue must be rendered _dry_, then dissolved in a little _anhydrous_
chloroform (dried by standing over fused calcium chloride), and again
evaporated in air in a large watch glass. The residue will generally be
crystalline under the microscope if any alkaloid be present. Dissolve
again in chloroform, transfer to a graduated burette, make up to a
convenient volume (say 10 cubic centimetres), and transfer a measured
fraction to a number of watch glasses, reserving about one-fourth for
any subsequent _quantitative_ test that may be necessary. Allow the
liquid in the watch glasses to spontaneously evaporate. To the first
add a little water and a very minute quantity of dilute hydrochloric
acid, and cautiously taste a portion. A tingling of the lips and
subsequent numbness indicate _aconite_; intense bitterness points
to _strychnia_; if there be no taste at all it is unlikely that any
alkaloid is present. There are some alkaloids of a peppery taste; these
are irritants, and are not common as poisons. Bitterness is the most
frequent characteristic.

2. Moisten the contents of the second watch glass with a little water
and a trace of acetic acid, and apply through an incision in the
skin of the back of a young frog. He should be kept as comfortable
as possible and the symptoms observed. Strychnia readily produces
tetanus in this animal; other poisons also have peculiar effects. Some
observers have used mice, rabbits, or cats; in the Palmer trial it was
observed that dogs were not employed because they were inconvenient
and might bite! On the whole this so-called physiological test has
been overrated, as it is hardly to be expected that an animal with its
back cut and otherwise injured will not exhibit some symptoms; and
all who have kept wild animals in confinement will know how soon they
become, first almost convulsive from excitement, then finally sink into
stupor and die. If necessary, any judge may grant a special licence to
the experts in a trial to make experiments on animals, otherwise such
cruelty is rendered penal by the Vivisection Act.[3]

3. To the third watch glass, after the contents have been dissolved
as before, a drop of a solution of iodine in potassium iodide is
added. Nearly all alkaloids give a brown precipitate. If none occur, a
negative conclusion may be expected.

4. Test the fourth watch glass in one corner for strychnia by
concentrated sulphuric acid and peroxide of manganese; in another
corner for morphia by iodic acid and starch; in a third corner for
brucia (and morphia) by strong nitric acid. (See the special paragraphs
on these reactions, pp. 280, 285.)

5. If there is still no indication, and no information has
been obtained from other sources, it may be necessary to employ
Dragendorff’s process on the remainder. But if the poison has been
discovered, the solution reserved in the burette should be evaporated,
dissolved in water and a little dilute acid, avoiding heat, and
titrated by Mayer’s reagent to ascertain the quantity.[4]

The second and third extractions of the organs must now be considered.
Most of the text-books recommend that _all the extracts should be
mixed_. The objection to this is, that since the alkaloid is usually
present in very small amount, the first extraction will remove nearly
all of it, while the second and third will mainly contain other
matters, and therefore will be only adding to the impurities, and
consequently to the difficulty of isolation. If it be worth while, the
second and third extracts may be treated _separately_ as above, and
should any further quantity of alkaloid be found, it may be determined
quantitatively, and the amount added to that already obtained.

It has been proposed to precipitate the original spirituous extract by
neutral or basic acetate of lead, which throws down many impurities,
but leaves the alkaloids in solution. After filtration, the liquid
is treated with a current of sulphuretted hydrogen to remove lead;
again filtered, evaporated (as speedily as can be done without
overheating) to a moderate bulk, and treated with a little ammonia
and with ether-chloroform as before. If the sulphuretted hydrogen be
left exposed to the air for some time, it oxidizes to sulphuric acid,
which, during and after evaporation, tends to destroy the alkaloid.
Hence I have found it advisable to remove the H_{2}S quickly by a
current of carbonic acid and warming—previous to evaporation. But
this process is not good for alkaloids, as sulphur compounds are often
formed, which interfere with subsequent operations.

The foregoing process may fail to extract _morphia_, _curarine_, and
_solanine_, as these, being very little soluble in ether-chloroform,
may remain behind in the aqueous liquid. This, therefore, should be
afterwards treated in one of the following ways:—

1. Heat some redistilled amylic alcohol nearly to boiling (it boils
at 120° C.), add an equal volume to the aqueous (alkaline) solution;
shake vigorously, separate while still hot, and shake again with a
fresh, but rather smaller, quantity of the hot solvent. The united
amylic alcohol solutions will contain all the morphia, but can only be
distilled in vacuo, since at 120° C. the stability of the morphia would
be endangered. It is better to extract the morphia from the amylic
solution by shaking with successive small portions of weak acetic acid,
separating each time, till the acidity remains unneutralized. The
alkaloid will now be in the acid solution. Nearly neutralize this with
ammonia, evaporate at a gentle heat, and apply the special tests.

2. Instead of the above, the aqueous alkaline solution may be agitated
with a mixture of equal volumes of ether and _pure_ acetic ether (the
latter having been previously purified from free acid by standing over
powdered carbonate of lime). Although this mixture does not extract the
morphia so readily as amylic alcohol, it has this advantage that, after
separation from the aqueous layer, it can be evaporated at a moderate
temperature, when the morphia, if in sufficient quantity, will be left
in the crystalline state, and can be tested as usual.

If sufficient material be at hand, of course both processes may be

Selmi (Gazz. Chim. Ital. vi., 32) has given a process for alkaloidal
extraction of which I have no experience.

When the alkaloid is obtained in a sufficiently pure form and in
sufficient quantity, the sublimation process of Dr. Guy, as improved
by Blyth, may be used. For the entire original method, see Blyth’s
Practical Chemistry, page 285.

Dr. Guy’s “subliming cell” is a ring of glass tubing about ⅛-inch long
and ⅓ to ½-inch diameter, ground true and smooth at top and bottom,
resting on a circle of thin microscope glass, and covered with another
similar circle. The alkaloid, thoroughly dry, is placed on the lower
disc (a drop of the solution may be evaporated on it), the whole fitted
together, and floated on mercury, or better, fusible metal, contained
in a small glass beaker nearly full, supported on wire gauze over a
small flame. A thermometer held by a clamp dips in the liquid metal.
With a hand lens of as high power as possible, the melting point, and
also the point when the first sublimate occurs on the upper glass, may
be observed. As soon as the sublimate has become sufficiently distinct,
the upper disc is removed, replaced by another, and examined under
¼-inch power of the microscope. The heat is slowly raised till charring
occurs, and anything characteristic noted.

_Morphia_ gives a clouding, consisting of minute dots, at 150° C.; from
188° to 200° C., distinct crystals are obtained; then it commences to
brown, melt, and carbonize.

_Strychnia_ gives a minute sublimate of fine needles at 169° C., and
melts at about 221° C.

_Brucia_ melts at 151° C., browns easily, but gives no true sublimate.

_Aconitine_ or aconitia melts at 183° to 184° C.

_Pseudaconitine_ melts at 104° to 105° C., and easily decomposes,
giving off water.

_Commercial aconitine_ usually melts below 100° C., and gives an
amorphous sublimate above 150° C.

The reactions of the other alkaloids will be found in Blyth’s Practical

In order to avoid repetition, the mode of preparing the general
reagents for alkaloids will be given here.

1. _Mayers Reagent_, potassio-iodide of mercury, already described (p.
7; Liebig’s Annalen, 133, 286), gives white precipitates with almost
all alkaloids. The latter can be recovered from the precipitate by
treating it with a solution of zinc chloride mixed with caustic soda.

2. _Potassium tri-iodide_, a solution of iodine in potassium iodide,
gives a brown or reddish precipitate.[6]

3. _Sonnenschein’s test_, Phosphomolybdic acid, is prepared as follows.
To a warm solution of molybdate of ammonia acidified with nitric
acid, phosphate of soda is added as long as any yellow precipitate is
obtained. The precipitate is washed with water containing a little
nitric acid, and heated with sodium carbonate solution till dissolved.
Evaporate to dryness, heat to expel ammonia, add a little nitric
acid and heat again. One part of the residue is then dissolved in a
mixture of one part of nitric acid of 1·4 sp. gr., and nine parts of
water. With this reagent _strychnia_ gives a pale, other _alkaloids_
a bright yellow flocculent precipitate, in very dilute solutions. The
precipitates are soluble in ammonia, with the production of a greenish
blue colour in the cases of aconitia and morphia. From the alkaline
liquid the _alkaloid_ can be dissolved out by at once shaking with
ether-chloroform or hot amylic alcohol as already described. Instead of
using ammonia, the precipitate may be agitated with barium carbonate,
which has less tendency to decompose the base on its liberation.

4. A solution of _bismuth iodide_ in iodide of potassium is recommended
by Dragendorff (Zeitschr. f. Chimie, 1866, 478). 80 grammes of
commercial bismuth subnitrate are dissolved in 200 cubic centimetres
of nitric acid of sp. gr. 1·18: 272 grammes of potassium iodide
dissolved in a little water are added, the potassium nitrate allowed
to crystallize out, and the whole diluted to one litre. This solution
precipitates most alkaloids. The precipitate can be treated with sodium
carbonate and the liberated alkaloid extracted by ether-chloroform, &c.
For the equivalents, see Maugini, Gazz. Chim. Ital. 12, 155.

5. Scheibler has proposed _Phosphotungstic acid_ as a precipitant.
Sodium tungstate is digested with half its weight of phosphoric
acid, sp. gr. 1·13: on standing, phosphotungstic acid crystallizes.
Its solution is said to give a distinct precipitate with 1/200000
of a grain of strychnia and 1/100000 of quina, and with similar
amounts of other alkaloids. From this precipitate the alkaloid is
obtained by treating with sufficient milk of lime and shaking with
ether-chloroform, &c., as before. He recommends the previous removal
of impurities by lead acetate and sulphuretted hydrogen as already
described (p. 7) (Fresenius, Zeitschr. f. anal. Chemie, 12, 315).

6. _Picric acid_, a saturated aqueous solution, gives precipitates in
_neutral_ solutions of morphia and atropia. In solutions acidified with
sulphuric acid it gives the following:—morphia, and pseudomorphia, no
precipitate; aconitia, a precipitate only in concentrated solutions;
other alkaloids of opium, a thick precipitate.[7]

7. _Animal charcoal_, previously purified by hydrochloric acid and
thorough washing with water, when digested with neutral or alkaline
solutions of alkaloids, not too dilute, absorbs them from the liquid.
The charcoal, washed twice or thrice with small quantities of water,
is dried at a moderate temperature, and boiled with strong alcohol,
which extracts the alkaloid. This process has been used for separating
picrotoxin from beer, but has the inconvenience that the alkaloid is
liable to gradual oxidation within the pores of the charcoal, and that
the separation is never complete. It is this property that has caused
charcoal to be recommended as an antidote in poisoning.

8. All alkaloids form with _platinic chloride_ double salts of more or
less sparing solubility. These precipitates, washed, dried and weighed,
and then burnt, leave metallic platinum, the amount of which yields
a clue to the composition of the base. But aconitine and narcotine
are only thrown down from concentrated solutions, and a few are not
precipitated at all. Hence this test is of only occasional value in
toxicological work. The same may be said of _auric chloride_.

9. _Tannin_ or tannic acid, a moderately strong solution in water,
throws down most alkaloids. Coffee and tea, and other tannin-containing
infusions, have, therefore, been used as antidotes with dubious
success. As a test it is not distinctive.

10. _Phospho-antimonic acid_ (Schultze), prepared by mixing antimony
pentachloride with ordinary sodium phosphate and decanting the clear
liquid, gives whitish amorphous precipitates with alkaloids.

11. _Silico-tungstic acid_ is prepared by boiling commercial tungstate
of soda with fresh gelatinous silica. Filter and allow to crystallize.
This gives precipitates with very dilute solutions of alkaloids, but it
is also precipitated by ammonium chloride (Godefroy, Arch. d. Pharm.,
Nov. 1879). Zaubenheimer recommends it as a most delicate test: the
precipitate may be decomposed by soda or potash, and the base extracted
by ether-chloroform.

12. Auric chloride, palladious chloride, and mercuric chloride have
been proposed, but are not of much use. Potassium chromate and
sulphocyanide, and sodium nitroprusside give somewhat insoluble
precipitates, generally crystalline and of characteristic appearance
under the microscope. These tests should be strong, and must be used in
small quantity.

PTOMAINES OR CADAVERIC ALKALOIDS.—Much attention has been attracted
lately by the possible interference to toxicological detections owing
to the undoubted existence of natural alkaloids in the dead body
unpoisoned. Some of these, called by Selmi “Ptomaines” ([Greek: ptôma],
a corpse), somewhat simulate strychnia, &c., in their chemical and
physiological characters. The observation is not new, as years ago, in
the Privy Council’s reports, Thudichum called attention to alkaloids
separated by Sonnenschein’s process (phosphomolybdic acid) from the
brain, urine, and from decomposed bodies. Various substances of the
kind have also been found by other investigators. To these “cadaveric
alkaloids” have been attributed the “sausage poisoning,” so frequent
in Germany (for cases, see Casper’s Handbook, vol. 3), poisoning by
various foods, such as tinned meats, cheese, &c. Some are irritants,
others narcotics: different periods and circumstances of putrefaction
producing different compounds.

In an Italian criminal prosecution, F. Ciotto, who made the
investigation of the corpse, gave it as his opinion that strychnia was
probably present. Selmi, for the defence, pointed out differences from
strychnia, and considered the compound to be a ptomaine. [Arch. Pharm.
(3), 19, 187.] This will show the importance of the subject.

Casali (Gazetta, 1881, 312) regards ptomaines as not true alkaloids,
but as “acid or basic amidated compounds.” It is only the basic ones
that will interfere with testing. Panum and Bergmann have isolated a
substance called “_sepsin_,” generated by putrefaction, poisonous,
acting like a ferment but not destroyed by boiling, soluble in water,
but insoluble in alcohol, and thereby distinguished from alkaloids.
Sonnenschein and Zuelzer found a product of putrefaction which
produced tetanic symptoms, besides one resembling atropine. But these
substances, or similar ones, can be produced _without_ putrefaction, as
Paterno and Spica have shown that fresh blood and fresh albumen (white
of egg) yielded, with phosphomolybdic acid, potassio-mercuric iodide,
and other alkaloidal reagents, precipitates like those of the vegetal
alkaloids. Selmi has even supposed that death from various diseases may
be due to the formation of these compounds. The same author obtained
from a dead body one month after death a considerable amount of a
_crystallizable_ ptomaine, giving reactions like those of alkaloidal
poisons, and having poisonous effects on frogs.

Brouardel and Bouting (Compt. Rend. 92, 1056) propose the reducing
action of ptomaines as a distinction between them and vegetal
alkaloids. The solution in weak acid is added to a dilute mixture of
ferric chloride and potassium ferricyanide: the latter, if a ptomaine
be present, is reduced to ferrocyanide, and Prussian blue is thereby
precipitated. But Spica (Gazetta, 11, 486) has shown that strychnia,
brucia, morphia, and some others produce this reaction readily, and
Beckurts (Arch. Pharm. 3, 20, 104) adds aconitine and others as
producing it slowly. Hence the distinction is delusive. See also
Husemann (Arch. Pharm. 3, 16, 169; also 3, 20, 270), Tauret (Compt.
Rend. 92, 1163).

The discovery of these bodies has certainly raised a new difficulty for
toxicologists, and suggested a new and plausible defence, as it must be
confessed that at present there is no general method of distinguishing
between “cadaveric” and vegetal alkaloids. Yet this mainly affects
the “physiological” tests—on frogs and other small animals—for
there is no ptomaine yet discovered which gives _all_ the reactions
of strychnia, morphia, &c. If a chemist be asked, “Could any other
substance produce these reactions?” he can only answer, “I do not know
of any”; he cannot aver the impossibility. Then the circumstantial
evidence must decide.

In conclusion, the following principles should be noted:—

1. The quantity of poison found is generally only a small fraction
of the quantity taken. The vomit and evacuations are frequently
lost, and much may be decomposed by vital actions in the body, or by
putrefaction. That which has caused death is probably thereby either
decomposed or so combined as to be rendered undetectible: that which is
found is merely the surplus beyond the fatal dose. This would account
for the frequent non-discovery in the tissues when a small amount has
been given, or much time has elapsed. To metallic poisons this does not
apply, as, unless eliminated, they can always be found. See further
under Strychnia.

2. The symptoms will differ according to the dose, the form (solid
or solution, pure or admixed), habit, or idiosyncrasy, the state of
health, &c.

3. In the post-mortem examination, appearances common to dead bodies
generally are often mistaken for the effects of poison. See Casper’s
Handbook, vol. I., _et passim_.

4. Unhealthy or improper food or acute disease may cause suspicious
symptoms. This is the commonest solution of suspected poisoning.

5. In experiments on animals, it may be objected that they are
inconclusive as to man. This is not strictly true. But if a _recent
vomit_ proves poisonous to an animal, _with the same symptoms as in the
man_, that is almost conclusive evidence.

6. When a poison is not found by analysis, it does not follow that
it has not caused death. Unequal distribution, uncertainty of tests,
improper securing of the samples (Palmer case), decomposition or
elimination of the poison, may hinder discovery.

7. In every case, if possible, the approximate _quantity_ of the poison
should be ascertained and stated. This specially applies to substances
that _may_ have been administered medicinally.

“If poison be administered _with intent to murder_, it is not necessary
that there should be enough in the article administered to cause death,
or that it should be given in such a way as to act fatally. If any
poison be there, and the intent be proved, the crime of attempting to
administer poison is complete.” [Judge’s ruling in _Hartley_, Cent.
Crim. Court, May 12th, 1850; _Reg._ v. _Bacon_, Lincoln Summer Assizes,
1857; _Reg._ v. _Southgate_, Chelmsford Lent Assizes; _Reg._ v.
_Cluderay_, York, 1849].

For minute directions as to the conduct of toxicological
investigations, see Taylor’s Medical Jurisprudence, 1873, I., 202-209;
also Guy and Ferrier’s Forensic Medicine, 1881, p. 359, _et seq._



Two cases are reported under this head. The first that of John Tawell,
for the murder of his mistress, Sarah Hart, at Salthill, near Windsor,
tried at the Spring Assizes at Aylesbury, 1845, before the late Baron
Parke (Lord Wensleydale). The second—a case of misadventure—the
trial of George Ball, a surgeon, at Lewes, for the murder of his
mother by the negligent administration of an overdose of this poison,
medicinally, before the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas
(Coleridge) Summer Assizes, Lewes, 1860.


_March 12, 13, and 14_, 1845, SPRING ASSIZES, AYLESBURY, _before_ BARON


The trial of John Tawell, of Berkhampstead, Berks, for the murder of
Sarah Hart, at Hall Place, Slough, attracted more than usual attention,
from the cruelty of the act in poisoning the woman whom he had seduced,
the position and popular character of the murderer as a benevolent and
hospitable Quaker, noted for his charities, and the novelty of the
mode by which his detection was mainly insured. The electric telegraph
had only very lately been established on the line of the Great Western
Railway, and though Tawell lost no time after committing the act, in
getting into the train for London at Slough, the telegraph outstripped
him, and on his arrival at the Paddington station he was recognised,
and tracked to his lodgings, and thus his immediate arrest secured.

Tawell’s life had been of a remarkable character. Originally a
commercial traveller, he had exhibited a strange mixture of great
shrewdness and money-making talent, combined with an outward show of
religious observance. As a young man he had been indicted for forging
a bill for £1000, and had he been tried on the counts for forging, or
uttering, he would doubtless have been executed. By some influence,
however, he was allowed to plead guilty to the count for having the
bill in his possession (a _nolle prosequi_ being entered on the
others), and sentenced to transportation for life. “Accordingly,”
says Mr. Justice Therry, who knew him well in Sydney, “he came out
to the colony as a convict. Besides being a commercial traveller
for some time, he had been in an apothecary’s shop in England, and
on obtaining partial exemption from convict discipline, became the
principal druggist in Sydney. After a prosperous career he sold his
business for, it was said, £14,000, and judiciously invested this
sum in buildings and other pursuits of profit. For nearly two years
he occupied the house opposite to mine in Sydney, which gave me
almost daily opportunity then of seeing him. He struck me as being a
remarkably well-conducted person. He had once been a member of the
Society of Friends; he wore a broad-brimmed hat, appeared always in
a neat and carefully adjusted costume, and his whole appearance and
manner impressed one with the notion of his being a very saintly
personage. He always sought the society in public of persons of reputed
piety. I have often met him in the street accompanied by a secretary or
collector to a charitable institution, whom he assisted in obtaining
contributions for benevolent objects. At one time he took up the cause
of temperance in such an intemperate and silly spirit, that he ordered
a puncheon of rum he had imported to be staved on the wharf at Sydney,
and its contents poured into the sea, saying that, ‘he would not be
instrumental to the guilt of disseminating such poison throughout the
colony.’ At another time his zeal took an apparently religious turn.
He built, in Macquarie Street, Sydney, a commodious meeting-house for
the Society of Friends, on the front of which was inscribed on a large
square stone inserted in the wall some such words as these—


He conveyed no title, however, to the Society to secure them the
tenure of the property. After his execution it was sold, I understood,
with other portions of his property, for the benefit of the party
entitled to it under his will, the Crown having waived its right to the
forfeiture of the estate.

“Tawell was himself a liberal contributor to charities, and the opinion
of his character was so favourable, that the act for which he suffered
created great astonishment in Sydney. A considerable part of his money
had been realised by buying up all the whalebone that trading vessels,
at an early period, imported into Sydney. This he sent to a London
house, where it was manufactured into combs, handles for brushes, and
various other articles of domestic use. He was the first person in the
colony who converted whalebone into an article of profitable export.
When he left the colony, he had a considerable property from rents and
other sources which became much reduced by the general distress that
prevailed in New South Wales in 1843.” Hence the anxiety expressed by
him for his Sydney letters, referred to in the course of his trial.
Still, however, a man of good means, occupying a respected position
in his town, and noted, through a long and industrious life, for his
benevolence and straightforward conduct in his relations with his
neighbours, he might well say when first charged with the murder of his
mistress, “My station in society places me beyond suspicion.” Such had
been the remarkable career, and such was the ostensible character of
the man to whom the most cold-blooded of murders was clearly brought
home in the following trial.”

At the trial before Mr. Baron Parke, at Aylesbury, on the 12th, 13th,
and 14th of March, 1845, Sergeant Byles and Mr. Prendergast appeared
for the prosecution, and Mr. Fitzroy Kelly, Q.C., Mr. Gunning, and Mr.
O’Malley, assisted by Messrs. Herapath, of Bristol, Professor Graham
and Dr. Letheby, of London, the eminent chemists, for the defence.

In consequence of the excitement in the county caused by the event,
numerous objections were taken to jurymen by the prisoner’s counsel. At
length, however, a jury was formed, and after a brief recapitulation
of the leading facts of the proposed evidence by Sergeant Byles, Mary
Ashley, a next door neighbour of the deceased, was called, who had
seen Tawell go to Sarah Hart’s between 4 and 5 in the afternoon of the
1st of January, and between 6 and 7 the same evening, “hearing a sort
of stifled scream,” had gone to her door with a candle and seen him
leaving the cottage. The cottages stood in a row, with small gardens
in front, with rails and gates, and contained four rooms, two on the
ground floor, and the same number above.

 “The prisoner,” said the witness, “appeared to be agitated, and unable
 to open the gate. I opened it for him; it was fastened with a small
 button. When I went out of my house, I said, ‘I am afraid my neighbour
 is ill’—not speaking to any person in particular, but as the prisoner
 was then coming down the garden I should think that I spoke loud
 enough for him to hear me: I was about six yards from him. No reply
 was made by him. When I got to the gate I could hear Mrs. Hart still
 making the same description of noise: the prisoner made me no answer
 when I asked him if I should open the gate; he appeared very much
 agitated, and was trying in a hurried manner to open the gate; he came
 out of the gate before I went in; I saw his face; I held the candle
 over the gate to open it: I have no doubt that he is the same man,
 though I had never seen him before that afternoon. In the afternoon
 Mrs. Hart said to me, ‘I expect my old master, but perhaps he will
 not come till to-morrow.’ When I got to Mrs. Hart’s door it was shut,
 and upon my opening it I saw Mrs. Hart lying on the floor with her
 head not a great way from the door; her legs were towards the fire,
 her dress was quite in a disordered state, her petticoats nearly up
 to her knees, her left stocking down to her ankle, and torn, and her
 left shoe off: her cap was off, and her hair hanging down over her
 head: her cap was a little distance from her: she was still making a
 noise, and her eyes were fixed, but her lips moving. I took hold of
 her hands and raised her head, and said, ‘Oh, Mrs. Hart, what is the
 matter?’ She did not make any answer, but I thought she seemed to
 press my hand, but I could not positively tell. I then raised her up,
 and a little froth came out of her mouth, and I thought she was dying.
 I laid her down again, and took my candle and went into Mrs. Wheeler’s
 house, next door but one. When I went into Mrs. Hart’s I observed a
 bottle and a glass by the side of it half full, and another glass
 on the opposite side of the table, near the door, empty; but there
 appeared to be something in the bottom of it. A chair was beside Mrs.
 Hart, and another opposite her. I returned from Mrs. Wheeler’s with
 Mrs. Barrett, and we placed a pillow on the child’s chair and bathed
 her temples. One of Mrs. Barrett’s apprentices went for Dr. Champneys,
 and he came. I searched the place immediately, and found no small vial
 about the size of a thimble. There was a middling fire in the house.
 Before I got into the house I thought the prisoner was looking, and I
 locked the door, because I was frightened. The deceased was breathing
 hard in a short way, and making a noise like ‘oh! oh!’ and her eyes
 looked very full.”

On _cross-examination_ by _Mr. Kelly_, she said—

 “That she heard Mrs. Hart’s voice rather loud after Mr. Tawell went
 in—only a few words, but could not hear what she said. She did not
 think that they were quarrelling, but that perhaps Mrs. Hart was in
 hysterics, as money matters were always talked over when Tawell came.
 When Mr. Champneys came in, he said he must try to bleed her: he did
 so, and there was about as much blood as would cover a plate; she
 died immediately afterwards; indeed, I think she was dead when he
 bled her. About Christmas Mrs. Hart received a basket of apples as a
 present—about a peck, some of which were left in a box.”

On _re-examination_, she said—

 “That it was not more than a minute after she left her own house that
 she entered Mrs. Hart’s, and that she saw about ten or a dozen apples
 in the box after her death.”

_Mrs. Barrett_ confirmed Mrs. Ashley’s account of the condition in
which she found the deceased, but did not see any foam on her lips
until after she tried to pour some water down her throat.[8]

It was then proved by the barmaid at the “Windmill,” on Salthill, and a
gardener, that about half after six on that day the deceased came there
for a bottle of Guinness’s stout, and that she was met between her
house and the “Windmill” about the same time in high spirits running
towards her cottage.

The next witness spoke to the acts of the prisoner before he arrived
at the cottage. At three o’clock in the afternoon he had been at the
Jerusalem Coffee-house, inquiring at what hour they closed, saying
he was going to the West End, and should not be back until half-past
eight, and wishing to leave a greatcoat and a parcel, which, by
arrangement with the waiter, he fetched away about half-past nine or a
quarter to ten that night, leaving his umbrella there. Other witnesses
proved his being seen running from Bath Place towards Slough, getting
into the Eton omnibus and stopping opposite Sir John Herschel’s house,
then returning towards the Slough station and leaving it for Paddington
by the half-past eight train.[9] The evidence of the next witness, who
tracked him from the moment of his arrival at Paddington, must be given
in detail.

_William Williams_ said—

 “I am a sergeant of police on the Great Western Railway, at Paddington
 Station. On the 1st of January, in consequence of a telegraphic
 communication, I observed the prisoner get out of a carriage and get
 into a New Road omnibus. I put on a private coat, and acted as guard.
 He got out opposite Princes’ Street, near the Bank, about a quarter
 past nine. I opened the door on purpose to look at him; he went
 towards the Wellington Statue, and then crossed over to Birch’s, the
 pastrycooks: he stood a moment, as if he was considering; I watched
 him from behind the statue. He then went towards the Jerusalem
 Coffee-house, and I followed him; he then went down a court into
 Birchin Lane, and from thence to Scott’s Yard, in the Borough, where
 he lodged, where I left him. On returning there next morning he was
 gone, so I went to the Jerusalem, and an officer (_Wiggins_) went
 in and took him into custody. Wiggins said to him that he was last
 seen in the house of a woman at Slough who was found dead, when he
 replied that, ‘I was not at Slough yesterday—I know no one there.’ I
 then remarked that I had seen him get off the train from Slough, and
 that he had given me sixpence after riding in the omnibus from the
 Paddington station. ‘You must be mistaken,’ he replied; ‘my station in
 life must rebut any suspicion that might be attached to me.’”

_Wiggins_, an inspector of the Metropolitan police, gave a graphic
account of the arrest.

 “On Thursday, the 2nd of January, I went into the Jerusalem
 Coffee-house with the last witness, and asked the prisoner if his
 name was Tawell; he said, ‘Yes.’ I then asked him if he had been at
 Slough last night, and he said, ‘No, I did not leave town all day
 yesterday.’ I then opened my coat, showed my uniform, and said, ‘I
 want you concerning the woman you were with last night.’ He said,
 ‘I don’t know anyone there.’ I said, ‘There was a woman found dead
 there, and you are supposed to be the last person who was seen with
 her alive.’ He said, ‘Thee must be mistaken in the identity, my
 station in society places me beyond suspicion.’ I then took him down
 to Salt Hill, to the ‘Three Tuns,’ where the inquest was being held.
 I searched him, and found £12. 10_s._ in gold and £1. 1_s._ 6_d._ in
 silver, a gold watch, and a letter addressed to him, which he said he
 had received from his wife. On the second day of the inquest I saw him
 again. After consulting with his lawyer, he said to me, ‘I took thee
 for a gentleman in the railway carriage.’ I said, ‘I told you I was an
 officer.’ He replied, ‘Yes, but that was afterwards.’ The first day of
 the inquest he said, ‘Mind, I have disclosed nothing.’”

In _cross-examination, Mr. Kelly_ failed to get the witness to say that
when asked about Slough the prisoner said he came from Berkhampstead,
and only led the witness to reiterate that he stated “that he had not
been at Slough that day.”

To _Perkins_, the inspector of the Eton police, Tawell was dangerously

 “On the day after I had taken him into custody,” said this witness,
 “and brought him to my own house, after he had seen his lawyer, he
 said to me, ‘The unfortunate woman once lived in my service, about two
 years and a half, or nearly so.’ He asked me if I knew this. I told
 him I had heard so. Then Holmes, the other constable, came in, and he
 added, ‘She left my service about five years ago.’ I told him whatever
 he said I should communicate to the coroner to-morrow. He said, ‘he
 would have no objection to that,’ and then continued, ‘she had been in
 the habit of writing letters to him for money,’ and that he had been
 pestered with her; she was a very good servant when in his service,
 but a bad principled woman. She wrote to him that if he did not send
 her something she would make away with herself. He came down to her
 house and told her that he would not give her any more money. She then
 asked him if he would not give her some porter. I then sent for a
 bottle of stout, and she had a glass and I had a glass. She then took
 out a small phial, about the size of a thimble, and said, “I will,
 I will,” and poured some into her glass and drank a part of it—the
 remainder was thrown into the fire. She then done herself about and
 laid down on the hearth-rug; I then went out. I did not think she was
 in earnest, otherwise I would have called somebody.’ I asked him if he
 had got those letters, and he said, ‘No, I never keep such letters as
 those.’ I knew him by person, having seen him at Aylesbury.”

The _cross-examination_ was unimportant—mainly directed to the
probable inaccuracy of his recollection and to the nature of the
communication he made to the coroner. _Holmes_, in addition to
confirming _Perkins’_ report of the prisoner’s statement, was present
when Mrs. Tawell visited her husband, when, in reply to her question,
“what he had been doing,” he replied, “Nothing. I hope you will forgive


_H. Montague Champneys_, surgeon at Salthill, sent for a few minutes
before 7 P.M. on January 1st, said—

 “I ran, and when I got there saw deceased on the floor, felt her
 pulse, but am not certain whether I felt any pulsation. I put my
 hand under her clothes over her heart, and could not discover any
 pulsation; considered her dead, but still thought it best to open a
 vein in her arm, and obtained about an ounce of blood. Next day I
 made a _post mortem_ examination with Mr. Norblad and Mr. Pickering.
 Having previously examined the external parts, we opened the body,
 when I smelt the odour of prussic acid; the lungs were perfectly
 healthy, but the coverings had the appearance of inflammation.
 Examined stomach and contents. Rather more mucus than there ought to
 be; the abdominal viscera perfectly healthy. Put contents of stomach
 into a bottle, which I, with Messrs. Norblad and Pickering, took to
 Mr. Cooper, in London. The contents were tested for sulphuric acid,
 oxalic acid, and some poisonous salts, but nothing was discovered;
 afterwards an experiment was tried for prussic acid. Mr. Cooper tried
 protosulphate of iron, and also nitrate of silver, but could not
 during the experiment discover any prussic acid; but nevertheless,
 it is my opinion that she died from the effects of that poison. On
 the following Sunday I took the beer and the part of a bun found on
 the table to Mr. Cooper, which were tested for prussic acid, but
 none discovered. When I stated that in my opinion the deceased died
 from the effects of prussic acid I did not know that the prisoner
 had bought any. I know Scheele’s prussic acid and that of the London
 Pharmacopœia; less than a grain of pure prussic acid would be a dose;
 two drams of Scheele’s would contain six grains. There are cases on
 record where the smell of prussic acid could not be discovered in the
 stomach of a person who had taken it. A person in Paris died from
 taking seven-tenths of a grain. Prussic acid is volatile, and may
 be carried off by the lungs or absorbed by the tissues. There is a
 case in the _Lancet_ of a person dying from having less than a grain
 administered to her. After this occurrence I put thirty grains of
 Scheele’s acid into a glass of Guinness’s stout, and the smell was
 scarcely perceptible. The symptoms would come on in less than two

In the very minute and detailed _cross-examination_ to which
this witness was subjected by _Mr. Kelly_, he made the following

 “I have no experience in detecting the odour of prussic acid in a
 human subject—should think it may be taken without detection; should
 expect to find the odour in the mouth and in the breath, but there may
 be exceptions. Neither Mr. Pickering nor Mr. Norblad smelt it when
 the body was opened. It was not a conjecture of mine; I was positive
 of it. The smell is very peculiar and strong, and easy to be detected
 by those acquainted with it. It is more likely to be detected when
 exposed as this was to a heat of 212 degrees. At every heat we tried
 to smell it, but failed. There was no such smell in the blood which I
 drew shortly after death. I am not competent to say whether epileptic
 patients die more quickly from prussic acid than others. It is said to
 act powerfully on the nervous system. Have read the case of the seven
 epileptic patients who died from a dose of seven-tenths of a grain
 each in from thirty to forty-five hours. There was a case in which the
 French doctors discovered poison eight days after death.

 “This acid exists in a great number of substances, in apples for
 instance, and probably in many other substances in which it has never
 been discovered. I agree with Dr. Christisön in his opinion (p. 756)
 in respect of the formation of this acid in various organic substances
 and other articles. It is made from the blood, bones, and horns of
 animals. It consists of 12 carbon, 14 nitrogen, and 1 hydrogen. Those
 are its elements. They exist and can be obtained in great quantities
 from various substances—cherry-stones, and stones of various fruits;
 they are found in the human saliva, but not in the form of prussic
 acid. It (the salt) is called sulphocyanide, and when taken is
 perceptible in the blood and breath, but most in the stomach.[10] In
 apple-pips or other substances the smell would not be given off until
 disengaged by some process for that purpose.

 “During the experiments for oxalic acid and other poisons, Messrs.
 Cooper, Pickering, and Norblad failed to perceive any smell. One of
 them then came to the conclusion that there must be prussic acid.”

 _Question._—“Did Mr. Cooper then apply a process which would set free
 prussic acid from apple-pips and other substances?”

 _Answer._—“I believe that is the process, but it was not carried
 to the full extent. I refer to the heat. When this new process was
 applied, the result was that prussic acid was found. I did not smell
 it, nor anyone else. Beyond the smell in opening the body, I smelt
 none at all.”

 “When I first saw the deceased I thought I felt a few beats of the
 pulse, but I imagine that I was mistaken. It might have been the
 pulse in my own finger. The analogy between animals and human beings
 dying of prussic acid is considered doubtful by the best authorities.
 The heart would continue to beat for a short time after the pulse
 had receded from the arms. The lungs might be considered slightly

 _Mr. Kelly._—“Why then inform my learned friend that they were sound
 and healthy?”

 _Witness._—“The lungs themselves were not diseased.”

 _Mr. Kelly._—“Is it natural and healthy when the lungs are congested?”

 _Witness._—“They contained rather more blood than usual.”

 _Mr. Kelly._—“Is that a healthy state?”

 _Witness._—“Not perfectly so.”

 _Mr. Kelly._—“Is not congested lungs the cause of various modes of
 sudden death?”


 “I then examined the _pericardium_, it was empty. The heart had a
 natural appearance. I do not recollect that I examined the arteries
 proceeding from the aorta. Any disease of the coronary arteries is
 likely to cause sudden death. I did not examine the spinal marrow.
 The valves of the heart were very clear. Death might suddenly result
 from the adhesion of the spinal marrow, if it had existed some time. A
 sudden termination also might take place where the disease is latent.
 I looked at the gall-bladder, the colour was natural. My experience
 teaches me that prussic acid would colour it blue.[11] I examined the
 œsophagus to see if there was any foreign substance, and found none. I
 opened the trachea, but not the bronchial tubes, so I could not tell
 whether there was water in them or not. When I felt the pulse and
 heart of the deceased I was satisfied that she was dead, still I bled
 her, as I thought it best to try every means to restore animation.
 I did not do it to ascertain the cause of death. I then got no
 information as to the cause of death. I saw a slight motion of the jaw
 as I felt the pulse, and apprehend she died then. I took the stomach
 from the body eighteen hours after death. The contents were turned
 into a jug or basin, and afterwards into a bottle. I do not know
 for what purpose the bottle had been used. I did not wash it out.”
 (_The bottle was here produced, a large-mouthed one, like a pickle
 bottle._) The witness then stated what care he took of it to prevent
 its being tampered with before taking it to Mr. Cooper:—“The exact
 dose to cause death is still undetermined, also whether the effect
 is cumulative or not, also the effect of the same quantity diluted
 more or less is unsettled. Scheele’s prussic acid varies in strength.
 Prussic acid evaporates by keeping.”

 _Mr. Kelly, reading from Watson’s “Lectures on Physic.”_—“Do you
 agree to this—‘A blow, a fall, an electric shock, a teaspoonful
 of prussic acid, may cause death and leave no trace on the nervous


On his _re-examination_ by _Serjt. Byles_, the witness said:—

 “In the case of the seven epileptic patients two medical men did
 not smell the acid, but two chemists did some time afterwards. It
 requires an extensive experience readily to detect the smell. Some may
 perceive it, some not. Several persons should smell, some not being
 so susceptible of the odour as others. I agree with a French chemist
 that ‘under a considerable number of circumstances there must be great
 practical knowledge to detect smell.’ If a person once knows the
 smell, I think he will know it again.”[12]

 “I should think that before prussic acid could be obtained from horns,
 blood, and bones of animals, a heat of from 400 to 500 degrees would
 be necessary. All animals, whether human or not, die if they take
 prussic acid. There is no difference in its operation upon man and the
 inferior animals. There was no appearance of disease in the heart of
 the deceased. Had there been any rupture of the coronary arteries it
 would have been apparent. I never knew such a disease of the spinal
 marrow to cause sudden death. I know only of the two cases mentioned
 by Taylor of the gall bladder having a blue tint. The absence of it
 is no proof that the person did not die from prussic acid. The bottle
 into which I put the contents was perfectly clean and dry. The ends
 of the stomach were securely tied up with string when I moved the
 contents into the jug, which was also perfectly dry and clean. I have
 no doubt the deceased died from prussic acid.”

After two constables (_Hill_ and _Larkin_) had proved the finding of a
phial in a cupboard and two others in a jug, one of which contained
hartshorn, the case was adjourned to the following morning.

       *       *       *       *       *

_SECOND DAY. Thursday_, MARCH 13.

       *       *       *       *       *


_Charlotte Howard_, unmarried, a servant, said:—

 “I knew Mrs. Hart, and went to see her at Salthill on the 26th
 September, 1843. She had a child of mine in her care. I was there from
 three to four months, in which time I saw Mr. Tawell there twice. On
 the 30th of September he came, and in ten minutes after, Mrs. Hart
 sent me out for a bottle of stout, which I got and gave to her. She
 took it into the room where he was. Shortly after she came out and
 sent me for a sheet of paper, leaving Mr. Tawell in the room with
 the stout. When I came back she said to me ‘I am so ill, I shall be
 obliged to tell my master to go; I am so sick, my head is so bad.’
 She was very sick, and I helped her upstairs to bed. After she got
 upstairs she was sick again. She was in very good health when Tawell
 came. She said she only drank one glass of porter and felt sick
 directly afterwards. I went down again and saw eighteen sovereigns on
 the table, which I put into a drawer. There was some porter in the
 glasses and in the bottle. That in the glasses I threw away, and drank
 that in the bottle, and it did not make me ill. Mrs. Hart complained
 of being very giddy, but did not say anything about her throat.”


_Mr. Cooper_, the Analytical Chemist and Lecturer on Medical
Jurisprudence, was then called and examined by _Serjeant Byles_.

 “On the 3rd of January,” said the witness, “Messrs. Champneys,
 Norblad, and Pickering called on me with a carpet bag. The bag
 contained a bottle (ordinary one, such as olives are usually sold
 in) full or nearly so with the contents of the stomach; a portion
 of porter in an ordinary beer-bottle, on which was a paper label
 signifying that it contained Guinness’s beer; a glass tumbler, about
 half full of what appeared to be a mixture of beer and water; a part
 of a plum bun, and a phial containing a few drops (perhaps about half
 a drachm) of a nearly colourless fluid; a small piece of pink paper,
 such as is generally used by apothecaries for tying over the corks of
 medicine phials, and had apparently been used for such purpose; and
 the stomach and part of the intestines. The bottle which contained the
 contents of the stomach was tied over with a piece of bladder, and,
 I think, corked as well, but of the latter I am not certain; it was
 opened and smelt strongly of food in the progress of digestion, it
 had also the smell of beer. On the application of litmus paper to the
 surface of the contents it became red instantly, and so very red that
 I was disposed to consider that Mr. Norblad and the other gentlemen
 were right in their conjecture as to its containing oxalic acid. A
 portion was now taken out of this bottle and put into a porcelain
 evaporating basin, to which some distilled water was added, and
 stirred well together with a glass rod; the basin with its contents
 was then placed on the heated sand bath and kept stirring until it
 boiled, and even after it had boiled for some minutes. During the
 whole of this operation I was standing over it, and the vapour that
 escaped I smelt the whole time, but did not recognise the slightest
 odour of prussic acid; the odour was the same as that of the contents
 of the bottle, but it was more powerful. The contents of the basin
 were then put into a paper filter placed in a glass funnel, and that
 which passed through the filter was collected in a glass vessel placed
 for its reception. While this operation was going on I directed my
 attention to the contents of the beer bottle and the tumbler. I found
 them both to have an acid reaction on litmus paper, the contents of
 the beer bottle very decidedly so; but on the application of the usual
 tests employed for the detection of oxalic acid, not a trace of it
 could be found.

 “By this time a small quantity of clear liquid from the contents
 of the basin had passed the filter; this was removed from the
 glass vessel employed to receive it into a test glass, and on the
 application of the tests for the detection of oxalic acid not the
 smallest trace was indicated. I then felt quite certain that oxalic
 acid had not been the cause of death.

 “I was then shown the stomach by Messrs. Champneys and Norblad, and on
 examining its interior surface it did not appear to have been acted
 on by any corrosive substance: nevertheless I thought it advisable to
 search for sulphuric acid, and accordingly applied to a small portion
 of the liquid, filtered from that which had been boiled, the test for
 that substance, but none could be detected. In like manner I did also
 apply the tests for the detection of baryta, opium, arsenic, the
 salts of mercury, and other metallic poisons, and could find none of
 them. I then came to the conclusion that, if the person had died from
 the effect of poison, it could be no other than prussic acid.

 “A portion of the contents of the stomach was then taken from
 the bottle and put into a tubulated retort, to which was added a
 very small quantity of dilute sulphuric acid; the retort with its
 contents was placed on the sand bath, a receiver applied and a
 portion distilled off. When about two drachms of clear liquid had
 distilled over, it was removed from the receiver into a test glass,
 about a grain of green sulphate of iron was added, and when this
 was dissolved, a small quantity of solution of potassa. These were
 allowed to remain a short time together and stirred with a glass rod.
 Subsequently muriatic acid was added in sufficient quantity _when
 instantly Prussian blue appeared_, which could not have resulted
 unless cyanogen or hydrocyanic acid had been present. But it could not
 be recognised by the smell. Although I had no doubt in my own mind,
 from the gentle heat that had been employed in the above detailed
 process of distillation, that the prussic acid could not have resulted
 from any decomposition of the animal matters present in the contents
 of the stomach, yet I thought it prudent to conduct the process of
 distillation in such a manner as to preclude the possibility of such

 “Another and much larger portion of the contents of the stomach was
 put into another retort, to which a little dilute sulphuric acid
 was added as before, and the retort with its contents placed in a
 water bath, to which some common salt was added. The salt-water bath
 was heated until it boiled; a receiver was put on to the retort, an
 adapter intervening so as to remove the receiver to a greater distance
 from the furnace, and the receiver was kept as cool as possible by
 folds of blotting paper kept constantly wet applied to its external
 surface. In this manner was the distillation slowly conducted, until
 about an ounce of clear liquid had distilled over.”

 On the removal of this liquid from the receiver it had the same smell
 as that contained in the bottle had before distillation, and neither
 myself, Mr. Norblad, Mr. Champneys, nor my son could detect the smell
 of prussic acid in the slightest degree. In fact the odour of beer and
 digesting food was so powerful as to cover or disguise the smell of
 the prussic acid in this weak state, but on applying the same tests as
 before Prussian blue was found in considerable quantity.

 “The few drops of liquid which were in the phial before mentioned
 were now examined: they had no action on litmus paper, they smelt of
 camphor and acetate of ammonia. The test for prussic acid was applied,
 but it did not show the smallest quantity. The phial was then washed
 out, and the distilled liquid, with the precipitated Prussian blue
 obtained by the two above-detailed processes was put into it. It was
 corked up and taken by Messrs. Norblad and Champneys to keep in their
 possession. I also added the same test to distilled water containing
 a few drops of prussic acid, for the sake of comparison and to try
 the test. This was also taken by Messrs. Norblad and Champneys, as
 was also some distilled water with the same tests applied, to which
 no prussic acid had been added, and which was colourless. As far as I
 can recollect this completed the first day’s proceedings, it being now
 nearly dark.

 “On the evening of the following day (Saturday) Mr. Pickering came
 to me to request I would on the Monday following examine, by the
 coroner’s desire, the contents of the glass tumbler, the beer bottle,
 and the remainder of the beer, to determine if prussic acid existed
 in any of them. On Sunday the 6th, being engaged at Derby on the
 Monday, Messrs. Norblad and Champneys came, bringing with them the
 whole of the things they took away with them on the Friday. The beer,
 the contents of the tumbler, and the remains of the plum bun we each
 subjected separately to distillation in the salt-water bath, and to
 the liquor obtained by distillation the same tests for detecting
 prussic acid were added, but not a trace could be found.

 “I may here observe that, on the intervening Saturday, I continued the
 distillation of the larger portion before spoken of for the purpose of
 obtaining more of the distilled liquid, and in fact to continue the
 distillation until the whole of the prussic acid had been separated.
 A part of the distilled liquor had its Prussian blue precipitated,
 which was given to Messrs. Norblad and Champneys on the Sunday, and to
 another part I added nitrate of silver for the purpose of separating
 the hydrocyanic acid, or rather the cyanogen it contained. I kept
 it safe from decomposition or change during my absence, and for the
 purpose of further experiments on my return, and at my leisure.

 “Accordingly, shortly after my return, I put the cyanide of silver
 obtained by the above process, together with some very dilute muriatic
 acid, into a small retort, to which a receiver was attached. The
 retort was placed over a lamp in order to be heated, and the receiver
 was surrounded by cold water. The distillation proceeded until about a
 drachm and a half had distilled over. _This liquor possessed the odour
 of prussic acid_, distinctly recognised by myself, and also by two of
 my sons.

 “It occurred to me that as Messrs. Norblad, Champneys, and myself had
 distinctly seen among the contents of the stomach some undigested
 apples, that the seeds or pips of the apple might give rise to the
 formation of prussic acid by distillation. I therefore determined on
 making an experiment to see if any and what quantity of prussic acid
 they were capable of producing. Accordingly the seeds from fifteen
 apples were bruised and put into a retort with some distilled water,
 and about an ounce of liquor was distilled off. On the application
 of the tests before spoken of, Prussian blue, in exceeding small
 quantity, was produced. On testing the last product of distillation,
 no Prussian blue was found. I have the whole of the Prussian blue thus

 “About ten days ago I was applied to and requested to make more
 experiments for the purpose (if possible) of discovering the whole
 amount of prussic acid originally contained in the contents of the
 stomach, or at least of that portion brought to me. I stated that I
 had not the means in my possession of doing so, and that Mr. Norblad
 or Mr. Champneys possessed almost everything relating to the matter;
 but I thought it possible, if I had the remainder of the contents of
 the stomach, and that if it were contained in the same bottle in which
 it was originally brought, I might be able to do so—having a distinct
 recollection of about the height at which the matter stood in the
 neck of the bottle. Mr. Champneys, on Saturday, the 8th of February,
 delivered, with other matters, into my charge, the remainder of the
 contents of the stomach which had not before been subjected to any
 operation or experiment, and which, when I gave it him back, after my
 former experiments, I requested him to keep in a cool dark place for
 further investigation, should it be deemed requisite. The bottle was
 tightly corked and securely tied over with a piece of bladder. Before
 uncorking it, I made a mark with a file outside the bottle coincident
 with the surface of the contents in the interior. I then emptied the
 contents into a glass alembic, washed the bottle out with a little
 distilled water, and added this to the matter in the alembic. The head
 of the alembic was then put on, a condensing apparatus attached, the
 alembic placed as before on a salt-water bath, the bath brought to
 the boiling point, and distillation conducted until the whole of the
 prussic acid was expelled. A solution of nitrate of silver was put
 into the recipient for the purpose of seizing hold of the hydrocyanic
 acid the moment it reached that vessel. By this process I succeeded
 in obtaining 1·455 grains of dry cyanide of silver, very slightly
 contaminated with chloride of silver. The latter did not amount to
 a quantity which could be collected and weighed. But if I allow
 0·025 grains, and call the quantity of cyanide of silver produced in
 reality 1·43 on the quantity operated on in this instance, it must be
 very near the truth. But as the quantity operated on in this instance
 formed only 51 parts out of the 180 of the whole volume of the
 contents of the bottle as it was first brought to me, the following
 proportion will show how much was contained in the whole. For if 51
 parts give 1·43 grains of cyanide of silver, 180 parts will give
 5·047 grains of cyanide of silver. This quantity of cyanide of silver
 is equivalent to 1·002 grains of real hydrocyanic or prussic acid,
 which is equal to 50 grains of the prussic acid of the strength of
 the London Pharmacopeia. The determination of the relative quantity
 operated on, and the original volume of the contents of the stomach,
 was ascertained by measuring, with water, the bottle filled, as near
 as possible to remember, to that part in the neck where the contents
 originally stood, which was 180½ drachms, and to the mark made by the
 file 51½ drachms.

 “I may also remark that the contents of the stomach, after
 distillation, was still strongly acid, occasioned most probably by the
 acid in the beer, and also by the acid which is invariably produced
 during the process of digestion.”[13]

During his _examination, Mr. Cooper_ produced the bottles
containing the Prussian blue produced from the stomach and from the
apple-pips—the former dark blue in colour, the latter hardly more
than tinged with it. When placed side by side on the front of the
witness-box the marked contrast caused much excitement in Court.

The _cross-examination_ of this witness by _Mr. Kelly_ was so
important, that though very lengthy it is necessary to give it in
considerable detail.

 “Until this case,” said the witness, “I had never examined the
 contents of a human stomach where a person had been killed by prussic
 acid, or a human stomach containing prussic acid. Respecting the
 effect of prussic acid on the stomach and tissues of the body, my
 knowledge is only theoretical. Prussic acid, which I have smelt from
 its most concentrated to its weakest state, has a peculiar smell; it
 affects different persons differently. When I smell it, it affects
 spasmodically the back of the throat. But it loses its smell in
 combinations. I am not aware what quantity of prussic acid destroys
 life. I have no practical knowledge on the subject. The case I am most
 familiar with is that of the seven epileptics.

 “I began my investigation with the view of seeing if oxalic acid was
 present. I recognised the odour of beer more strongly in the contents
 of the stomach than anything else. I did not trace the smell of
 prussic acid in them, nor feel any spasmodic affection in the throat
 in smelling them. I did not come to the conclusion, after trying for
 those acids and mercurial poisons, which I did not discover, that
 there was prussic acid in the stomach, but I remarked to those present
 at that time, ‘Well, if this person has taken poison, it must be
 prussic acid.’

 “I have no idea how much Prussian blue I obtained from the first
 experiment, as it was made in a hurry. (_The bottle of dark blue
 liquid was here shown again._) I thought the obtaining evidence of its
 presence sufficient. I got more Prussian blue in the second experiment
 than in the first, and more in the third experiment than the second. I
 have not calculated the total amount of Prussian blue in the bottle.”

 _As to the contents of the stomach_: “There was undigested flesh and a
 pulpy mass of which I could make nothing, and some portion of apple,
 but no pips either partially digested or undigested with the apple.
 I am not prepared to say that the pips of this apple contained more
 prussic acid than others. There is a great difference between bitter
 and sweet apples—_the bitter contain a great deal of prussic acid,
 the sweet, I believe, none_.”[14]

 _As to prussic acid being in many substances_: “Strictly speaking, I
 don’t think it exists in any substance, not even in bitter almonds.
 I mean in a free state; it is so extremely volatile that it cannot
 possibly exist unless in combination with some other substance. It is
 my opinion that prussic acid is a ‘product,’ and not an ‘educt’—that
 is to say, in consequence of its great volatility it cannot exist
 unless in combination with some other substance; you liberate it by
 combination and change. The elements of it exist in a great many
 substances. These elements, on taking new arrangements, may produce
 prussic acid. Therefore I feel that it is always a ‘product,’ and that
 it does not exist in any substance in a free state, because if it did
 it would be continually evaporating from that substance.”

 _Question._—“Are not the substances which are already known to
 contain the elements of prussic acid, and from which it can be
 obtained, very numerous?”

 _Answer._—“They are very numerous certainly, because all those
 compounds which contain carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen, may,
 in my opinion, by new changes be made to produce prussic acid. All
 animal substances of any kind contain those elements, in which are
 contained the elements of prussic acid. I agree, as far as I know,
 with Christison, that the distilled seeds of bitter almonds, and
 pomaceous seeds, yield prussic acid by distillation.”

 _Question._—“Is it not found, from time to time, by accident or
 experiment, to exist in organic and other matters?”

 _Answer._—“I believe it is. I was the first person to discover it
 in fulminating silver, and perhaps also in apple-pips, from recent
 experiments. I am not aware of it ever having been produced by mere
 organic changes in the stomach. If the apple-pips on which I operated
 had been macerated, I cannot say that I should have obtained more
 Prussian blue. I know it is the habit to macerate bitter almonds, but
 I also know that without maceration they have sometimes yielded more
 prussic acid than with maceration.”

 _Question._—“I will ask you one question more, ‘Do you agree with Dr.
 Taylor that the odour of prussic acid, which is said to be peculiar,
 may be found when all tests fail?”

 _Answer._—“_I do not believe it._ As far as my experience goes, it
 would lead me to the contrary conclusion.”

 _Question._—“But if I understand you rightly, you do not smell
 prussic acid, but feel its effects in another way?”

 _Answer._—“Sometimes it has produced a spasmodic constriction about
 the throat, without my smelling it. At other times I have distinctly
 smelt it. It depends very much, I think, on the state of the nasal
 organ at the time.”

 _To Serjeant Byles._—“The same peculiar action at the back of the
 throat is, I think, felt by others on putting prussic acid to the
 nose. I communicated the nature of my evidence to the solicitor of the
 prisoner about a month ago.”

 _Baron Parke._—“Have you or have you not a doubt upon your mind from
 the result of your experiments as to the existence of prussic acid in
 the stomach?”

 _Witness._—“None whatever! I have no doubt that prussic acid may
 exist without being smelt.”

 _Baron Parke._—“If there was an absence of smell, would you suppose
 that the prussic acid was present in the shape of a salt, and that,
 therefore, you did not smell it?”

 _Witness._—“Absence of smell may arise from dilution, or from its
 being covered by the smell of other substances.”

 _Baron Parke._—“Do you, in this particular case, ascribe the absence
 of smell to the circumstance of the prussic acid being in the form of
 a salt?”

 _Witness._—“_No, because it could not exist in the stomach as a
 cyanide of potassium, which is a salt, or as a cyanide of soda, when
 another and more powerful acid was present; as, for instance, muriatic
 acid, which in this case was found in considerable quantity, it being
 an acid generated by the process of digestion._”

 _Baron Parke._—“Do you not believe that there was also acetic acid
 present. Is not that a strong acid?”

 _Witness._—“I have no doubt there was also acetic acid present, and
 it would have a greater affinity for soda or potash than prussic acid.
 I think prussic acid cannot be formed by putrefaction in the stomach.”

_Mr. Joseph Cooper_, a son of the last witness, and his assistant for
four years, deposed to having smelt the ordinary prussic acid at the
time in the process, mentioned by his father.

_Mr. Norblad_, surgeon and apothecary at Slough for 10 years, said:

 “On January 2 I went to Mrs. Hart’s house and saw her body; have heard
 the evidence of Mr. Champneys, and should say that death was caused by
 prussic or oxalic acid; do not know of any other poisons that would
 produce death so rapidly; was present at Mr. Cooper’s experiments;
 have heard and perfectly agree with his evidence; oxalic acid must
 have been detected if present; I am quite of opinion that prussic acid
 was present in the stomach, and have no doubt about it; have heard
 the evidence of the witness Howard, the symptoms she describes (of
 supposed former attempt) are precisely those of prussic acid. That
 acid acts uniformly upon all animal subjects, and destroys life in
 the same way in all cases. Have tried experiments on dogs, and have
 seen cats and dogs poisoned by that acid. On the 18th February I made
 an experiment on two dogs. Five hours after feeding them I gave one
 of them half an ounce and the other one drachm of Scheele’s acid,
 administered it at 7 p.m., and exactly in ten seconds after receiving
 the smaller dose the dog fell as if dead, and the other in half the
 time; _I opened their bodies eighteen hours after and could not
 discover any odour_; I smelt the mouth of the dog and could not detect
 it then, nor at any other time; I opened the stomach of the dog, which
 smelt intensely of sour beer, the acid having been administered in
 beer. I attributed the absence of smell to the admixture of Guinness’s
 stout; I should have expected on opening Mrs. Hart’s body to have
 discovered the cause of death.”

 _By the Court._—“I examined the brain; it was perfectly healthy;
 death did not arise from apoplexy.”

 _By Serjeant Byles._—“Less than a grain of pure prussic acid would be
 sufficient to produce death.”

_Cross-examined_ by _Mr. Kelly_:—

 “I have never attended any one who had taken prussic acid except in
 the form of medicine. The average dose of Scheele’s is five minims,
 and a minim is about a grain. Never heard of prussic acid being
 administered externally for varicose veins, and should think it
 useless (_prescription handed to him_). That is a proper prescription
 for varicose veins. I agree with Dr. Thompson, of London, that prussic
 acid may be applied successfully to diseases of the skin and cancerous
 affections to alleviate pain. I consider my sense of smell very acute.
 _I mixed twelve grains of prussic acid with a pint of porter, but
 could not smell it. Some porter dropped on the table and I did then
 smell it._ I know that prussic acid when combined with the blood of
 an animal volatilises very rapidly when exposed to the air. There is
 a case in which prussic acid appears to have allayed irritation of
 the stomach; it is a useful medicine sometimes in small doses. I have
 seen dogs vomit after it. Disease of the heart would produce death
 from mental emotion or rupture of the coronaries of the heart. Forcing
 water down the throat of a person in a syncope might cause sudden
 death. There was no congestion or gorging of the lungs. I saw but did
 not examine specially the coronary arteries.”

 _Kelly._—“If sudden death had occurred from a disease of the coronary
 arteries, what would be the appearance of the lungs?”

 _Witness._—“The lungs have nothing to do with the coronary arteries;
 ossification of them is supposed to cause sudden death. The blood in
 the lungs would not be prevented from returning the heart so as to
 gorge the lungs. I did not see any symptoms of the coronary arteries
 being ossified.”

 “I examined the lungs carefully. The lungs have been found gorged in
 some persons who have died of prussic acid. I don’t think that what
 has been called congestion was always clearly so. In all cases of
 paralysis of the heart, the blood has not been returned to the heart,
 and remaining in it gorges the lungs. Death by prussic acid paralyses
 the heart. In death from prussic acid, death is often denoted by an
 involuntary scream. I cannot say that I have heard of a succession
 of screams in any case of the kind. When I first saw the body, my
 impression was that death had been caused by oxalic acid, and that
 impression continued until the tests were applied. Blackness of the
 stomach is a symptom. There was a dark spot on the surface of the
 stomach. I have not seen a case of poisoning by oxalic acid.”

_Re-examined by Mr. Prendergast._

 “There was nothing in the stifled screams described by Mrs. Ashley
 yesterday at all inconsistent with poisoning by prussic acid; on the
 contrary, the catching of the breath is the last symptom. Less than
 one grain of prussic acid will kill a healthy person.”

 _By the Court._—“I saw nothing on the brain to indicate death by
 apoplexy. If a sudden emotion had caused death I don’t think I could
 have told that by the brain.”

Mr. Pickering, who had been in practice as a surgeon for nine years,
and was present when Mr. Champneys made the first incision through the
integuments, said he then smelt the odour of prussic acid,[15] and
confirmed the accounts of the previous witnesses of the experiments in
Mr. Cooper’s laboratory. On _cross-examination_ he admitted that before
they examined the body they were led to suppose that the death had
been caused by poison, and that he had never seen a case of death from
poisoning either by oxalic or prussic acid.

Previous visits of Tawell to Mrs. Hart, were proved by _Kesiah
Harding_, a washerwoman at Slough, in December, 1844, and particularly
on the Monday week before her death, when he told the deceased that he
wished her to be alone when he next came, and that he would come on the
Tuesday or Saturday week.


This was proved by _Henry Thomas_, shopman to a Mr. Hughes, a chemist
in Bishopsgate Street, who said,

 “On the 1st of January, between twelve and two the prisoner came to
 the shop dressed in a great coat and usual quaker garb and asked for
 two drachms of Scheele’s Prussic Acid, bringing with him a ½oz.
 bottle with a regular label of Scheele’s Acid on it. As I could
 not get the stopper out, I gave it him in one of our own bottles.
 When about to put on a label, I believe the prisoner said “You need
 not,” but I would not swear it. He said he wanted it for an external
 application to varicose veins, paid 4_d._ for it, which was entered in
 the book now produced. Next day he came again between ten and two and
 asked for the same quantity, and, as he had broken our bottle, took it
 in the one he had originally brought. I had seen him frequently before
 and might have sold him prussic acid, but am not certain. He told me,
 three months before, that he had been a chemist and apothecary abroad.
 I do not remember his being in a hurry to catch the train and my being
 not able to get the stopper out. It is our practice to do it. We
 usually cover our bottles with leather. Attended at Aylesbury on the
 13th of January, and recognised the prisoner the next morning in gaol.”

The _cross-examination_ of this witness, who was evidently favourable
to the prisoner and in communication with his solicitor, was directed
to three points—the suitability of prussic acid to the disease in the
legs from which the prisoner suffered; the effect of porter on the
odour of prussic acid when mixed with it; and the amount that can be
produced from apple-pips.

 “The prisoner,” said the witness, “told me he was suffering from
 varicose veins. I judged that he was, from the medicine I sold him.
 He rubbed his leg. The prescription now shown me would be a good
 external application for the ulceration produced by varicose veins.”

 _Baron Parke._—“What is that?”

 _Kelly._—“Scheele’s Acid.”

 _Witness._—“That prescription is in the handwriting of Dr. Addison.
 I do not believe that Scheele’s Prussic Acid could be mixed with a
 drink and taken by a person and not smelt after death. _I do not think
 porter would disguise it._ I put about twenty drops of Scheele’s
 Prussic Acid down the throat of a parrot with a glass syringe. Three
 women were present, and the smell was so strong and suffocating,
 that it compelled them to leave the room. The bird was afterwards
 stuffed. _I mixed thirty drops of this acid with eleven ounces of
 porter, and found the odour slightly perceptible. I did not perceive
 the difference when the froth was on and when there was none._ It is
 the property of prussic acid to give out a smell when volatilising.
 _Apple-pips contain prussic acid. I have assisted at the extracting it
 from fifteen small apples. The process was a soft-water bath, diluted
 sulphuric acid, and sulphate of iron._ TWO GRAINS AND A QUARTER OF
 CYANIDE OF SILVER WERE PRODUCED. _I did this under the direction of
 Dr. Lievesley, a lecturer at the London Hospital. In this process two
 sweet almonds were used._”[16]

On _cross-examination_ by _Serjeant Byles_ the witness admitted that
he made this experiment on the 9th of March at the request of the
Prisoner’s solicitor, and that he had never made this experiment
before; that he had been with Mr. Hughes only about a year and half,
and was paid £80 a year, and that Dr. Lievesley provided the London
Pharmacopœia acid, and the porter. On being shown a leather or paper
covering of a small bottle that had been found in the ashes of the
grate in Mrs. Hart’s house, the witness declared that it could not be
the covering of the bottle that he had put on, as it was too small for


_Sarah Bateman_ said that she knew Mrs. Hart six years ago, when
employed to nurse the Prisoner’s first wife, who soon after died. The
witness at that time observed that Mrs. Hart—then known as Hadler—was
with child, and the following statement was subsequently made by her
when at tea with Tawell and the witness.

 “I am in the family way, and will vindicate my master in it. He is
 going to be married to Sarah Catforth (the present wife), ‘and if
 it was to get abroad it would make a great difference to him.’ She
 seemed much excited, and Tawell begged her not to excite herself. ‘He
 was about to be admitted into the Society of Friends,’ he said, ‘and
 should not like these things to get abroad.’ She said, ‘He could marry
 Miss Catforth, and no one, not even her mother, should know what had
 become of her.’”

_Mary Ann Moss_, of Crawford Street, Bryanston Square, with whom
Mrs. Hart came to lodge in 1841, when she was confined of a girl,
remembered Tawell frequently visiting her, as Mrs. Hart said, “to
bring her money from her husband.” From there she removed to a small
house on Paddington Green for the sake of privacy, where Tawell paid
regular visits, and eventually to Salt Hill, at Tawell’s desire. She
represented to this witness that her husband was Tawell’s son, that
Tawell disapproved of the marriage, and that the girl and a boy of whom
she had been subsequently delivered were his. Mrs. Hart’s mother, Mrs.
Hadler, also spoke to her having not heard of her for several years.

With the proof by a clerk of Barnet’s Bank that Tawell had drawn a
cheque for £14 on the 1st of January, and the identification of certain
letters being in his handwriting, the case for the prosecution was


The nature of the defence opened by Mr. Fitzroy Kelly, in his long
and eloquent address to the jury has already been indicated by his
cross-examination of the medical witnesses, and was so fully commented
on by the learned judge in his charge to the jury that it is needless
to reprint it. On its conclusion residents at Berkhampstead who had
known him for several years, testified to the good character which he
had borne for kindness, charity, and benevolence, and a Mr. Richards,
of Dover, and a Captain Dillon, who had both known him abroad—the
latter for nearly thirty years—gave similar evidence of his kind,
charitable, and hospitable disposition. On the conclusion of this
evidence Baron Parke adjourned the Court to the next morning, when he
gave the following exhaustive charge to the jury.


After the usual introductory caution to the _Jury_ to be strictly
impartial, _Baron Parke_ said:—

 “He would next tell them what the case was, and how it was to be
 proved. It was to be proved by circumstantial evidence—the only
 sort of evidence that could be obtained in most cases of a similar
 nature. The most atrocious crimes were committed in secret, but
 Providence had so ordered it that some traces were frequently left
 which were sufficient to lead to the discovery of the perpetrators.
 The law, therefore, wisely provided that direct proof of crime was not
 absolutely necessary; but on the other hand it was equally necessary
 that by circumstantial evidence the case should be so fully made out
 as to leave no rational doubt of its committal. He should, therefore,
 advise them to lay down the rule, that they should first consider what
 had been proved to their satisfaction, and then whether all those
 facts were consistent with the guilt of the prisoner. If they thought
 that they were consistent with his guilt—and there was nothing
 inconsistent with it except the prisoner’s previous character—then
 they should consider whether they were inconsistent with his
 innocence, and they should remember that the existence of the crime
 was not inconsistent with the other parts of the case. Whilst on this
 part of the case, he should observe that the counsel for the prisoner
 had admitted all those facts, but had asserted that the law required
 not only that those facts should be proved, but that it should be
 shown directly that the deceased had died from poison, and that a
 sufficient quantity of poison to cause death had been found in her
 stomach. _That was not true of the law._ It was not necessary to give
 direct and positive evidence in every step of the case. There was no
 difference between direct and circumstantial evidence, if the evidence
 was sufficient to satisfy their minds that death had ensued from
 poison. It was not necessary to prove what quantity of that poison
 was necessary to produce death by the testimony of the person who had
 actually seen death produced by it; nor was it necessary to prove that
 such a quantity as would destroy life was actually found in the body.
 If they were satisfied that the prisoner administered poison to the
 deceased, and that she died of it, it was not necessary to prove what
 quantity had been administered to her. The only positive fact which
 the law required to be proved was the finding of the body, where such
 was possible. The body of the deceased having been found, it was to be
 considered whether the prisoner administered poison to her—whether it
 had been administered to her by the prisoner or by herself. The only
 allegation that she had done so was that of the prisoner himself, and
 if the jury thought the extraordinary story told by him was worthy
 of credit, it would agree with the latter mode of accounting for her
 death. But if they did not believe it, they had no other conclusion
 left than that he had committed the crime imputed to him.”

The learned judge then proceeded to comment on the evidence of Mrs.
Ashley, and others, who deposed to the perfect health and good
spirits of the deceased up to a few minutes of the discovery of her
lifeless body, and to the medical evidence of the perfect state of her
internal bodily organs, leaving no doubt that she had not died from
natural causes. He then went to the evidence of Messrs. Champneys and
Pickering, the surgeons, who, on opening the body of the deceased on
the day following her death smelt the odour of the prussic acid.[17]
“There, then,” he said, “was evidence at once of the presence of
prussic acid in the stomach on the day following a sudden death
accompanied by appearances, such as would be symptomatic of sudden
death from that powerful poison. Mr. Cooper, the chemist, analysed
the contents of the stomach subsequently and obtained a quantity of
pure Prussian blue from it, and before he proceeded further with
the evidence on this point, he would observe, that the jury should
never lose sight of the conduct of the prisoner during the whole of
the proceedings. He then proceeded to comment on the evidence of the
presence of prussic acid in the stomach immediately after death, and
the allegation of the Prisoner’s counsel, that it was producible from
apples, and that it might have been produced from natural causes in
the stomach, which contained a quantity of apple pulp. He pointed out
that from all the medical evidence, it was proved that, that acid
was contained not in the apple, but in the pip, and that pips were
not found in the pulp in the deceased’s stomach. It was also proved
that prussic acid had been obtained from the pips themselves only by
a process of distillation, and was not produced by the mere natural
process of digestion.[18] No one would die from eating apple pips,
although a person might be killed by the prussic acid obtained from
them by a chemist. Besides, the action of the acid was sudden and
immediate, and the deceased had died in the manner she would have done
after suddenly swallowing some.”

With respect to the evidence regarding the odour of the acid being
perceptible under this or that circumstance, said the Judge:—

 “All that could be inferred was, that though the perception of it was
 a positive proof of its presence, the non-perception was no proof
 of its not being present. As to the deceased having died from water
 having been poured down her throat, it was quite idle to attribute it
 to that. At that moment she was not living: death had already done its
 work. With regard to the quantity of prussic acid requisite to kill a
 human being, it had been proved that less than a grain would kill in
 some cases, as appeared by the melancholy cases so frequently referred
 to of the seven epileptic patients in Paris; and Mr. Cooper had proved
 that more than a grain existed in the stomach of the deceased. It was
 said that the experiments were not satisfactorily conducted—that was
 a question for the jury.

 “In considering the conduct of the prisoner, the jury must couple it
 with all the other evidence, in order to judge how far it bore out or
 contradicted the inferences that might be derived from it. It appeared
 that on the day in question the prisoner had gone to the Paddington
 station of the Great Western Railway and taken his place for Slough.
 He had left his great coat at the Jerusalem coffee-house, and told the
 waiter that he was going to dine at the West End of town. That was
 untrue, and he must have made that false statement for some object or
 other. He went down to Slough at five o’clock, and between six and
 seven Mrs. Ashley went round to the deceased’s house, in consequence
 of the noise she heard of stifled screaming. She met the prisoner in
 the garden in a state of agitation—so great that he could not undo
 the latch of the gate. She opened it for him. As to the observation
 she made about fearing that her neighbour was ill, she could not say
 that the prisoner heard it, and therefore it went for nothing. Let
 that pass. However, after she got in at the door of the deceased’s
 house, she turned round and saw the prisoner looking at her, and such
 was the effect upon her that she felt alarmed, and closed and fastened
 the door. At seven o’clock the prisoner was seen by a postboy, and he
 was then making towards the station. At ten minutes after seven he
 was at the station. He was next seen getting into the Eton omnibus,
 and asking to be set down at Herschel House. What his intention was
 in going to Herschel House does not appear. He was traced back again
 to the station, and an alarm having been given, a signal was made by
 the electric telegraph, and he was seen to alight from the railway
 carriage at Paddington, and was then traced home. When he was taken up
 next morning, and told what he was taken for, his answer was, that he
 knew no one at Slough. It had been suggested by his counsel that this
 was strictly true, as the deceased did not live exactly at Slough, but
 a little distance from it. It had also been suggested that he wished
 to prevent his wife hearing of his improper connection. It would be
 for the jury to say what degree of weight should be given to these

 “He had told several falsehoods when informed of the nature of
 the charge. On the Friday, about one o’clock, the prisoner had an
 interview with his legal adviser, and after that, but not until after
 that, did he make any attempt at explanation or give any account
 of what had taken place; and the account which he then gave was
 the extraordinary statement of her self-destruction. Here, then,
 the prisoner represented himself as present when the poison was
 administered, and as it was found in her stomach, it was for the jury
 to say whether the question did not amount to the simple one, of
 whether she had destroyed herself or the prisoner had administered
 it. If he thought she had been threatening to poison herself, he
 should at least have stayed to see what would be the effect upon her.
 The jury would next observe, keeping the prisoner’s story in mind,
 that no such vial as that described by him was found in the house.
 It had been proved by Mr. Thomas, who had sold him the poison in the
 morning, that the prisoner had prussic acid in his possession that
 day. He (the judge) did not give much weight to the observation that
 he would not have gone back the next day to the same shop for more if
 he were conscious of guilt, because in cases of murder, and especially
 of murder by poison, it was found that great precautions were not
 used. The perpetrators did not at all expect to be found out. As to
 the medicinal use alleged to have been made by the prisoner of the
 deadly poison, he might have had varicose veins; but at all events it
 had been shown that he had poison in his possession—he had the means
 of doing this act on the day it was committed.”

Coming then to the question of motive the Judge gave a brief history
of the connection between the prisoner and the deceased, and,
after detailing its commencement, commented on it as showing her
extraordinary affection and devotion to the prisoner.

“With striking self-devotion,” said Baron Parke, “she had said, that,
in order not to prevent the union of the prisoner with the lady to whom
he was about to be married, she would go out of the world, and be dead
to the world, even to her own mother, from that day forth; and the
jury had heard from that very mother that from that time she had never
heard of her unfortunate daughter until after her death. She kept her
promise. She did go out of the world, and went from place to place till
she went to reside at Slough. It appeared that there she received from
the prisoner an allowance of £13 a quarter, and on the day in question
it was seen that he was to have taken her her quarterly allowance. When
taken into custody, the sum of £12 10_s._, besides silver, was found in
his pocket; and it was proved that he had drawn a cheque for £14 that
morning. From that fact it might be inferred that he had gone down with
a sort of mixed feeling, either of paying her the money or, if he had
the opportunity of accomplishing his purpose, of poisoning her. But as
to motive for destroying her, it had been suggested that no man would
commit such a dreadful crime for the sake of getting rid of expense.
That, he should say, was not a matter to be easily judged of.”

His Lordship then touched upon all the evidence regarding his alleged
pecuniary circumstances, and read the letter from his wife, in which
allusion was made to his anxiety to have the papers from Sydney. “As to
the feeling appeal made upon that affectionate letter by his counsel,
it only proved that the prisoner had been very kind to and enjoyed
the affection of his wife, which was not at all incompatible with the
commission of the crime with which he stood charged towards another

As to the alleged previous attempt to poison the deceased in September
last, the Judge considered that there was no sufficient proof that he
then administered prussic acid to her. It was, however, remarkable that
after drinking porter with the prisoner on the 30th September, she
should have been so ill, and that after drinking porter with him on
the 1st of January she should have been taken ill and died. The strong
facts against the prisoner, in his opinion, “were his presence at the
woman’s house at the time she died; his declarations before and after
his arrest, and the fact that prussic acid was found in her stomach.”

The Judge then read over the whole of the material evidence, and, with
the usual caution, left the case in the hands of the jury. On Mr.
Gunning reminding him of the evidence to the prisoner’s character which
had been produced, Baron Parke said—“Such evidence was admissible in
cases of this kind, because it went to show the general impression
of the habits and feelings of a person. The prisoner was reputed to
be a kind-hearted, benevolent man. It was admitted that he had been
transported for some offence, the nature of which they had not been
told, but it was said that it was not one to affect his character for
kindness of disposition.” The Judge then read over the evidence to
character, and left it to the jury to decide in reference to its value
to the prisoner in his present position.

On the conclusion of the Judge’s charge, which lasted from eight in the
morning until half-past eleven, the Jury retired, and in about half
an hour returned a verdict of Guilty. In a few impressive sentences,
in which he spoke of the hypocrisy that had characterised the
prisoner’s life in the assumption of the garb of a virtuous, peaceful,
benevolent, and religious body of persons, the Judge passed on him the
dread sentence of the law, which he suffered on the 28th of March.
Previously to his execution Tawell handed a written confession to the
jail chaplain, that he committed the murder for fear that his wife
should discover his connection with the deceased, and that the previous
attempt was not made with prussic acid. He never imagined that Sarah
Hart had spoken of him to her neighbours, to whom he believed that he
was personally unknown, and so more likely to escape detection.

At the Easter Quarter Sessions of the County, held subsequently to the
execution of Tawell, an ineffectual attempt was made by a section of
the magistrates to compel the jail chaplain to deliver to the visiting
justices this written confession, which the chaplain refused to hand
over, on the ground of its having been received under the seal of
confession, and on the promise that it should not be published. All
that was known of it rested on the statement of the governor of the
prison, and the general admission of the chaplain that it was a full
confession of the prisoner’s guilt.

A difficult legal question arose, after Tawell’s death, with reference
to his Australian land, which the Crown re-granted to his widow and
family, after its forfeiture by his conviction; whether this re-grant
should prevail over the claims of a previous purchaser, a retired
auctioneer, who had houses on it, who alleged that he had purchased it
for a _bonâ fide_ consideration, under a sufficient power of attorney,
executed before Tawell’s conviction. “The affixing the seal of the
colony to this grant by Sir W. Denison, created a serious difference
between that governor and his chief minister, Mr. Cowper. The seal was
affixed pursuant to the instructions of the Secretary of the Colonies,
who only acted in the matter in accordance with the opinion of the
Attorney and Solicitor-General of England. A part of the sworn duty of
a colonial governor is to obey the instructions of the Secretary of
State for the Colonies.”[19] The governor, therefore, sent his private
secretary for the great seal of the colony and himself executed the new
deed. On this being done the owners of the property found the ground
cut from under their feet, and it never came before the law courts, but
it is believed that some compromise was effected with the family of
Tawell, and so the matter ended.


 _of Common Pleas_. BARROW, _for the Prosecution_. SERJEANT BALLANTINE
 _for the Defence_.

This case, really of misadventure, is reported, briefly, as showing
the carelessness with which dangerous medicines may, no doubt most
unintentionally, be administered even by professional men, the
culpable ignorance in some of those chemists who deal in such deadly

The accused, a medical man, but not in regular practice, had for
some time attended his mother, a very ailing old lady, and been in
the habit of giving her small doses of prussic acid, as a remedy for
violent attacks of vomiting to which she was subject. On the 11th
of July in consequence, he purchased of a Mr. Moswell, a chemist in
Lewes, a drachm of Scheele’s prussic acid, equal to 60 “minims,” and
gave her a dose of 4 “minims.” The result was favourable, and the old
lady went for a walk. On her return, however, she again complained,
and the accused administered another dose of prussic acid, evidently
from its effects, a deadly quantity, as she hardly got to her bedroom
before she became insensible, and died almost instantaneously. The
accused believed he had given her only seven drops, the proper quantity
to be given. That he gave her seven drops was not doubted, but that
the size of drops differ under circumstances as much as the strength
of Scheele’s preparation of the acid, will be seen from the following

_Mr. Scrate_, a surgeon at Lewes (who was sent for by the accused,
found the lady dead and the accused apparently in a very distressed
state of mind), said:—

 “I asked what was the matter; and the accused said he had given her
 seven drops of prussic acid, and witness replied he must have given
 her more.”

 _Chief Justice._—“Would seven drops be sufficient to cause death?”

 _Witness._—“Not according to my experience; it was the proper
 quantity to be given. The smallest quantity of prussic acid on record
 having caused death was of nine-tenths of a grain.”

 _Chief Justice._—“How many ‘minims’ would a ‘drop’ contain?”

 _Witness._—“That would depend upon how the drops were obtained from
 the bottle. If the cork was partly in, the drop would be larger than
 if it was carefully poured from the open neck of the bottle. Some
 medical men made use of one method and some of the other, but it was
 his practice not to rely on ‘drops,’ but to measure ‘minims.’”

 _To Mr. Barrow._—“With such a deadly poison as prussic acid I should
 say that it was not prudent for any medical man to rely on ‘drops,’
 but to measure ‘minims.’ The proper doses, as marked on all bottles
 of Scheele’s strength, to be administered were _one_, _two_, or the
 largest _three_ ‘minims.’ Scheele’s acid was not uniform in strength:
 sometimes it contained _four_, sometimes _five_, and sometimes as much
 as _six_ per cent.”

 _Chief Justice._—“Would not that amount to almost the difference
 between life and death?”

 _Witness._—“It would make a very great difference certainly. Taylor
 and other eminent medical men have recommended that Scheele’s prussic
 acid should not be used, on account of the very great variation
 of strength. I myself always use that of the Pharmacopœia. But
 notwithstanding what has been written upon the subject by many eminent
 men, Scheele’s acid is generally used in the profession.”

 _Chief Justice._—“Supposing the acid to be of the highest strength
 you have mentioned, do you consider seven drops would have been
 sufficient to cause death?”

 _Witness._—“I don’t believe they would.”

 _To Mr. Barrow._—“Six per cent. is an exceptional strength, but I
 should think that it would take seventeen minims of that strength to
 cause death.”

 _Chief Justice._—“What do you say is the difference between a ‘drop’
 and a ‘minim’?”

 _Witness._—“That would depend on the sort of ‘drop.’ The prisoner
 afterwards gave me a bottle which contained prussic acid. He told me
 he had given his mother _four_ minims, and 2·5 minims remained. I did
 not test the strength of what remained, but had no doubt the deceased
 died from the effects of prussic acid.”

 _To Serjeant Ballantine._—“There was a broken cork in the bottle when
 the accused gave it to me. In his opinion ‘seventeen minims’ was the
 smallest dose that would destroy life. It was very easy to destroy
 life when dropping the liquid from a bottle. When accused told him he
 had given seven drops, he understood that he had given three and a
 half minims. He had never heard of any instance in which the strength
 of Scheele’s acid had exceeded six per cent.”

 _Mr. C. H. Moswell_ (chemist in Lewes).—“On the 11th of July accused
 came to his shop and asked for some prussic acid. Gave him a drachm,
 which would contain sixty minims. Did not measure it, but gave what he
 considered a quarter of the bottle.”

 _Cross-examined by Serjeant Ballantine._—“As you say you really did
 not measure it, can you tell us how much prussic acid you really did

 _Witness._—“I cannot say to a drop. I am sure he had fifty drops.
 I consider a ‘drop’ and a ‘minim’ synonymous. I gave him about the
 quantity, but when prussic acid is dispensed by a medical man, he is,
 of course, careful as to the quantity he uses.”

 _Chief Justice._—“We have been told that a ‘drop’ contains two
 ‘minims,’ and this witness says he looks upon them as synonymous.”

 _Serjeant Ballantine._—“If you were told to give a patient so many
 ‘minims,’ should you give him so many ‘drops’?”

 _Witness._—“Certainly not.”

 _Serjeant Ballantine._—“Can you tell us the strength of the prussic
 acid you sold?”

 _Witness._—“I don’t know what the strength was—I should suppose
 about _four_ per cent.”

Case for the prosecution closed.

The _Chief Justice_ called the attention of the Jury to the evidence
and observed, that the fact of the cork being broken in the bottle and
defective was certainly an important matter for their consideration, as
it admitted the possibility that the prussic acid might have escaped
from the bottle accidentally, and then there was an absence of evidence
that an excessive dose had been administered by the accused.

The _Jury_ almost immediately returned a verdict of “Not Guilty.”

If the estimate of the witness Scrate is taken for the difference
between a drop and a minim, and the second witness, Moswell, is correct
in saying that he gave the accused at least 50 drops, equal to 25
minims, as only 2·5 minims were left in the bottle, equal to 4¼ drops;
in the two doses the accused must have administered more than 45 drops,
equal to 22½ minims. If the cork was not broken in the bottle when the
first dose was administered, the probability is that the dose then
given did not exceed seven drops of the size that would make them equal
to 3½ minims, thus leaving 19 minims for the second dose. It is to be
regretted that the strength of the prussic acid was not tested.

       *       *       *       *       *


In a case of the poisoning at Egglesham, near Glasgow, by prussic acid,
of a young woman, of the name of Agnes Montgomery, by Peter Walker, a
tailor, the symptoms were thus described by one of the witnesses, as
well as the effect of prussic acid on herself:—

 “After we learnt that the moaning came from Aggie’s room, we came up,
 got Clarkson’s key, and went in. (As in Tawell’s case, the prisoner
 had left the girl’s room only a few minutes before.) Aggie was sitting
 on a chair (in which it was probable from other evidence that she had
 been placed by her murderer), with her head leaning on the table.
 The body was quite still. There was a little froth coming out of the
 _wicks_ of her mouth. It was a little coloured with blood; and we
 afterwards found she had bit her tongue and her lips. She threw back
 at different times, as if in distress. Her right hand was very firmly
 closed. I loosed the boot of the left foot, and found it was swelled
 and quite stiff. About ten minutes after that was another groan: the
 breathing was slow, and with great oppression. She sighed six times
 before she died. Her skin was getting quite cold after we got her.
 I thought there was a little sweat on her face. We got hot water to
 bathe her arms. The eyes were large and staring. She died about three
 quarters of an hour after we got her. When we went into her room, I
 found a sickening smell. I felt in my nostrils a kind of nipping, and
 my throat was dry. I felt it off Aggie the moment I came forward. I
 know the smell of almonds, but can’t say it was exactly like that. On
 the 5th of November I saw the superintendent of police, and others,
 and saw something (it was prussic acid) put into beer. I smelt the
 beer; and after some of it was poured on the floor, I recognised it
 as the same smell. It affected me in the same way as before in the
 nostrils and throat.”—_Evidence of Mrs. M’Donald._

       *       *       *       *       *

In this case, on a _post-mortem_ examination of the exhumed body, the
presence of prussic acid was clearly detected; and it was proved on the
trial that the prisoner had employed a carrier to get some prussic acid
for him, and that the bottle containing it had been given to him on the
day of the murder; and the fragments of a glass phial were subsequently
discovered, with the key of the girl’s room, at the root of a tree, at
which the prisoner had been seen stopping, as he returned from going
for a doctor. In this case the poison had been most probably given in
beer, as in Tawell’s, a tumbler in which beer had been being found on
the girl’s table.

The fellow, two months afterwards, tried to poison a Mr. Mason and his
wife, with whom he had gone to lodge in Glasgow, with prussic acid, but
happily failed in his attempt.

He confessed his guilt; and at first gave as his motive his desire to
possess himself of the girl’s money, but subsequently said he could not
tell what possessed him to do it. “Following so closely on the case of
Madeleine Smith, the probability is that her case had had on him the
same effect as Palmer’s on Dove—exciting a morbid desire to tamper
with deadly drugs, and that the death of his victim, and the danger of
the others, was as much due to this feeling as the desire for plunder.”
He was discovered to have been transported for robbery, and to have
been guilty of other crimes. He now confessed that he had murdered a
lad, by pushing him into a quarry hole. He was executed at Paisley,
Jan. 14, 1858.—_Annual Register for 1858._




 Nature of—Strength of different preparations of, English and
 foreign—Where found—Tests, preliminary: (1) Odour—(2) Silver—(3)
 Prussian blue—(4) Sulphur—(5) Guaiacum—(6) Uranium—(7) Picric
 acid—(8) Cupric sulphate—(9) Cobalt chloride—(10) Mercuric
 oxide—(11) Peroxide of hydrogen—(12) Mercurous nitrate. Test
 apparatus—Salts of hydrocyanic acid: (1) Potassium cyanide—(2)
 Mercuric cyanide—(3) Cyanides of the heavy metals—(4) Double
 cyanides—(5) Sulphocyanides—Oil of bitter almonds—Antidotes—Fatal
 dose—Symptoms—Post-mortem appearances—Drops and minims—Period
 after death at which hydrocyanic acid can be discovered—Formic acid
 to be tested for—Processes.

_Synonyms._—Cyanhydric or prussic acid, Hydric cyanide, Hydrogen
cyanide, Acidum borussicum, Blausaüre, Berlinerblausaüre.

Formula HCN, _i.e._, a compound of single atoms, of hydrogen, carbon,
and nitrogen, in the proportions by weight of 1 + 12 + 14 = 27.
In its pure state (anhydrous, or free from water), it is a feebly
acid, colourless, mobile liquid, inflammable and very volatile.
Boiling point 24·5° C. Much lighter than water: sp. gr. ·7058. It
has a characteristic overpowering and oppressive odour, resembling
peach-blossom or laurel-water. But the anhydrous acid, from its
volatility and dangerous character is rarely seen or made. In commerce
it is always found as a dilute aqueous solution, the varying strengths
in real HCN being:—

                                           Per cent. HCN.

  Pharmacopœia, British, Swiss, America,}
  Borussica, London, Norway,               }  2
  Schräders                                   1·5
  Pharmac. Saxony                             1·9
     ”     Austria, Baden, Batavia            2·5
     ”     Edinburgh, Dublin                  3·3
  Vauquelin’s acid                            3·3 to 3·5
  Pharmac. Bavaria                            4
  Scheele’s acid                              4 to 5 (rarely 6)
  Duflos’s acid                               9
  French Pharmacopœia                      10 to 10·5
  Riner’s and Pfaff’s acids                   10
  Hessian Pharmacopœia                     18 to 20
  Koller’s                                    25
  Robiquet’s                                  50

In this country, only Scheele’s, and the British Pharmacopœia (2 per
cent.) acid, are usually met with.

These numbers, however, must be regarded merely as rough approximations
for two reasons; first, on account of the extreme volatility of the
acid—if loosely stoppered, or frequently opened, it rapidly loses
strength—second, both the anhydrous acid and its aqueous solution are
decomposed by light, with formation of a brown matter. This change is
supposed to be retarded by a trace of mineral acid, hence a little
hydrochloric or sulphuric acid is frequently added to the commercial
solution with this object. But the acid may even be _stronger_ than
supposed, as the methods of preparation are somewhat various, and the
one adopted may have been carelessly carried out. Scheele’s acid is
said to be the most popular among medical men; samples of it obtained
from different large firms and examined by the author showed very
irregular strengths, the lowest being 2, and the highest 8 per cent.
The latter was purchased at the shop of a chemist who said he had
made it himself, and could guarantee it was of full strength. He had
evidently made allowance for deterioration. Woodman and Tidy found 16
samples sold in one neighbourhood as B.P. acid to contain 0·6 to 3·2
per cent. of HCN; others have found 0·25 per cent. not infrequent.
It follows that if, in a poison case, a bottle has been found of a
hydrocyanic preparation of a definite name, or even with a certain
strength or dose marked on it, it will not be safe to trust to such
figures without actually determining the amount. In Ball’s trial
(Lewes, 1860), the judge asked whether this variation in strength would
not make the difference between a medicinal and a poisonous dose?
It would not, as the maximum medicinal dose, 4 grains, of even the
abnormally strong (8 per cent.) Scheele’s acid mentioned above, would
only contain 0·32 grain of anhydrous HCN, and it requires at least
half a grain to cause death, while about 1 grain is the usual fatal
quantity. And a medical man would not even give the maximum medicinal
dose as a beginning, and without precaution.


We shall use the abbreviation “B. P. 2 per cent.” for this acid, which
has the characteristic odour, a sp. gr. of ·997, and a taste “at first
bland and sweet, ultimately pungent and acrid” (Thomson), “hot and
bitter” (Taylor), “cooling, with pungent bitter aftertaste” (Watts).
If pure, it only slightly and transiently reddens litmus; if other
acids have been added to keep it, it may have a stronger reddening
effect. Also, if pure, it leaves no residue on platinum, and gives no
precipitate with barium chloride, but with silver nitrate it gives an
immediate white curdy precipitate of silver cyanide, not blackening
in daylight as the chloride does, soluble in ammonia, insoluble in
dilute, but soluble in hot concentrated nitric acid. It dissolves
mercuric oxide, giving a mercuric cyanide which may be obtained in
white crystals on evaporation. The vapour is said to be more deadly
than the fluid acid. The weaker the acid, the more permanent it is.
Glycerine increases its stability (J. Williams); this might be useful
if suspected substances had to be kept a long time.

_Occurrence._—Hydrocyanic acid itself has never been found as a
natural constituent of the body, although a compound of cyanogen occurs
in the saliva (_see_ Sulphocyanides). Hydrocyanic acid is not formed
during putrefaction, nor by heating organic substances with chemical
reagents at temperatures up to 212° F., as in testing for poisons. The
only way in which it may be generated from animal matter is by heating
with alkalies _to a red heat_;[20] this cannot, of course, happen in
the ordinary process of testing for prussic acid, though it must be
remembered that cyanide might thus be formed in an _ash_ (by burning),
without having been present in the original substance.

It is rather frequent, however, in the vegetable kingdom, and
consequently in a poisoning case the defence often sets up the theory
that it has been ingested in the food (Tawell’s Trial, &c.). It is
necessary, therefore, to examine in what kind of food, and to what
amount, it may be taken.

Its principal source is the seeds, leaves, and flowers, and sometimes
the bark, of most of the species of the sub-orders Amygdaleæ and Pomeæ
of the natural order Rosaceæ. It does not occur in them ready-formed.
There is a substance called _Amygdalin_, a white bitterish crystalline
body, which may be extracted by alcohol from these plants. Amygdalin
when dissolved by itself in water does not produce HCN, and is probably
harmless, but there exists by its side in the plant a species of
ferment called _Emulsin_ or Synaptase, which has the power, when
macerated in water with amygdalin, of breaking up the latter into
glucose (so-called grape-sugar), benzoyl hydride (oil of bitter
almonds), and hydrocyanic acid. In the plant the amygdalin apparently
exists in cells apart from the emulsin, but by crushing in water, or
masticating in the mouth, the change is very rapidly effected. By
long soaking the same result may happen, as in cherry brandy; here
the diluted spirit dissolves the amygdalin, and the emulsin then may
act. But if, in the stomach, the apple-pips or cherry-stones should be
found _whole_, it is almost impossible that the amygdalin should be
decomposed, protected as it is by its horny or stony envelope. Stones
and pips, in fact, pass through the body intact, and are found in the

Yet as amygdalin and its decomposition may be much mentioned by the
defence, the following account may be useful.

100 parts of amygdalin yield 6 parts HCN.

It has been found in the species of Rosaceæ given below, generally in
fruit, flowers, leaves, sometimes bark, rarely root.

_Pyrus_ malus (apple pips), domesticus (pear).

_Prunus_ spinosa (sloe), avium (bird cherry), padus (wild service),
Virginiana or serotina (wild black cherry), capricida, insititia
(bullace), domestica (plum, damson, &c.).

_Amygdalus_ communis (almond), Persica (peach), lævis (nectarine).

_Armeniaca_ vulgaris (apricot).

_Cerasus_ communis (cherry), acida, laurocerasus (cherry-laurel),
Lusitanica (Portugal laurel).

_Cydonia_ vulgaris (quince).

_Sorbus_ aucuparia (mountain ash), torminalis, hybrida.

_Cratægus_ oxyacantha (hawthorn, young branches).

_Spiræa_ aruncus, sorbifolia, japonica (not in herbaceous species).

Hydrocyanic acid, ready formed, has been found in the roots of the
bitter and sweet cassava (Jatropha manihot).

If the poisonous dose of the B. P. (2 per cent.) acid be at least 30
minims (Royle’s Mat. Med., Dr. Harley, 6th ed.) the following table
shows the amount of some of the above which is needed.

  │                     │Percentage│Equal to │Amount      │            │
  │     Substance.      │    of    │   HCN   │required for│ Observer.  │
  │                     │amygdalin.│per cent.│poisonous   │            │
  │                     │          │         │ dose.      │            │
  │Cherry kernels       │   3      │ 0·18    │ 333  grains│Gieseler.   │
  │Pips of sweet apples │   0·45   │ 0·027   │ 2222   ”   │C.G. Stewart│
  │Pips of bitter apples│   0·85   │ 0·051   │ 1176   ”   │      ”     │
  │Wild service kernels │   1·5    │ 0·08    │ 750    ”   │Hermann.    │
  │Flowers, fruit, and }│   1·0    │ 0·06    │ 1000   ”   │Riegel.     │
  │bark of do.         }│          │         │            │            │
  │Bitter almond pulp   │   4·25   │ 0·25    │ 240    ”   │Allen.      │
  │Sweet Cassava        │          │ 0·017   │ 3500   ”   │Francis.    │
  │Bitter do.           │          │ 0·027   │ 2222   ”   │   ”        │

Sweet almonds contain emulsin, but no amygdalin, hence give no HCN
(_see_ Tawell’s Trial, p. 40).

According to my own experiments, 837 _sweet_ apples (apples weighing
135 pounds, pips about 5 oz.), would be required for a poisonous dose
of HCN; whereas 130 _bitter_ apples, weighing 18 pounds, and the pips
about 2½ oz., would suffice. The pips of bitter apples are bigger, more
numerous, and weigh about three times as much as those of sweet apples.

Among substances containing much more HCN, and actually poisonous on
that account, are:—

  Crude bitter almond oil       8  to  15 per cent.
  Bitter almond water           ¼  to   1    ”
  Cherry laurel oil             2  to   3    ”
     ”      ”   water[21]       ¼  to   ¾    ”
  Cluster cherry oil            9  to  10    ”

(Allen, Comm. Org. Anal.) It is obvious that of fruits an impossibly
large quantity must be eaten to produce any considerable amount of HCN.
In Tawell’s trial, Mr. Cooper, the analyst, deposed that the seeds from
15 apples gave him an exceedingly small quantity of Prussian blue.
Whereas, Henry Thomas, a druggist’s assistant, stated that “15 small
apples gave 2¼ grains of silver cyanide” [equal to 0·46, or nearly ½
a grain, of anhydrous HCN, corresponding to 25 minims of B. P. acid,
nearly a poisonous dose!] “This was done under the direction of a
lecturer at the London Hospital.” A fair sample of the erroneous and
bewildering evidence that is frequently offered in courts of justice.

Mr. Cooper also stated “there is a great difference between bitter and
sweet apples; the bitter contain a great deal of prussic acid, the
sweet, I believe, none at all!” This statement is misleading; no apples
_contain_ prussic acid, but all that I have met with will _yield_ it
by maceration, as all contain amygdalin. The highest class of eating
apples, such as Newtown pippins, Ribstones, and Blenheims, contain only
a minute trace. These have very few pips, 3 to 5 to each apple, while
the bitter varieties, such as “winesours,” have 9 to 13 pips.

In the arts, cyanides are used in photography, dyeing, cleaning
lace and metals, electro-plating, removing silver stains, &c. Their
solutions may cause accidental poisoning, either by the fumes or by
absorption through the skin, especially if the latter is abraded.

Hydrocyanic acid is also formed (1) in the preparation of nitrous ether
(sweet spirit of nitre), (2) by distilling albumen, fibrin, casein, or
gelatin, with sulphuric acid and bichromate of potash, or manganese
peroxide, (3) by the dry distillation of albuminous bodies. It is
hardly necessary to say that these formations could not occur in the
ordinary methods of testing.

TESTS: PRELIMINARY.—It cannot be too strongly insisted that all
operations for the detection of HCN should be carried out as soon after
death as possible, on account of the loss from volatility, or from
secondary changes. (See Sulphocyanides.)

Allen asserts (Commercial Organic Analysis, 1879), that detection in
the body is rarely possible more than twenty-four hours after death;
but Taylor (Med. Juris., 1873, p. 368) has found it in the stomach
twelve days after, saying, however, that “after the stomach had been
exposed a few days longer, all had disappeared.” In a dog’s stomach he
found it, after twenty-four hours’ exposure, _and washing with water_.
In a human stomach, success was achieved seven days after death, where
no odour was perceptible; in another case, after twenty-two days in
the stomach, and after two months in the spleen. It may be found in
the stomach, and not in the tissues; but in most cases it is easily
detected, soon after death, in the blood, organs, &c. The vapour of
HCN will traverse paper, wet or dry bladder, &c., in a few minutes
(Taylor), and few stoppers are close enough to retain it. Hence care
should be taken to shut up the suspected matters at once in glass
bottles _accurately stoppered_; bad stoppers are worse than corks.

The stomach should be first examined entire, to ascertain _odour_,
&c., _noticing whether alkaline or acid_, then cut in pieces, under
distilled water sufficient to cover it, the whole measured, and
one-half (acidulated with tartaric acid, if alkaline), placed in a
capacious retort, and distilled in a bath of water saturated with salt
to raise the boiling point. The condenser should be well supplied with
cold water, the receiver attached airtight, with a mercury valve (a
narrow glass U-tube, containing mercury), to prevent undue pressure. A
little distilled water, about ½ oz., should be placed in the receiver.
The distillation should be continued till one-third to one-half of the
original liquid has passed over. The tests may then be applied to the

Allen recommends us to distil _with water alone_ about one-half. If
there is no result on testing the distillate, continue with addition of
tartaric acid. Finally, add a considerable excess of moderately dilute
sulphuric _and_ hydrochloric acid, and carry the distillation nearly
to dryness. In the last stage sulpho-, ferro-and ferricyanides and
mercuric cyanide are decomposed, and give HCN. The original should be
tested for ferrocyanide, &c. This seems a process calculated to give
the clearest idea of the form in which the HCN is present, but is open
to the objection that it is protracted, and may hence cause loss.

Sokoloff. (Chem. Centr., 1876, 603) advises a much more heroic
treatment. “Strongly acidify with sulphuric acid, and distil over
a water bath for _two or three days_, replenishing the water as
evaporated. The longer the distillation, the more accurate the result.”
He adds, that the muscles contain the greater part of the HCN. He
quotes figures in support of his results, but I have not found such
prolongation necessary; and we must remember that HCN is decomposed by
heating with moderately strong mineral acids.

The following modification, proposed by the author, may be
advantageous, as diminishing the risk of loss, and also effecting
concentration:—Prepare _exactly_ equivalent solutions of silver
nitrate, and hydrochloric acid: the silver solution may contain 17
grammes of silver nitrate, the hydrochloric solution 3·65 grammes
of hydric chloride, per litre. Place in the receiver 100 cubic
centimetres of the silver solution (= 1·70 gramme silver nitrate)
before distillation. This is allowing large excess, to provide for
exceptional quantities of HCN. If any quantity of HCN be present, the
liquid in the receiver will become milky; if it does not, there cannot
be more than a minute trace. Transfer the distillate and washings to
a retort, provided with a thistle-funnel, and boil down to one-third
of its bulk; then add, through the funnel, 100 cubic centimetres of
the hydric chloride solution, which will precipitate all the silver
as chloride, and liberate the HCN. Distill with the same precautions
as before: the first 25 cubic centimetres will contain probably all
the HCN. If doubted, a further quantity may be collected and tested.
The 25 cubic centimetres of distillate may now be subjected to the
following tests, taking care that each portion is _measured_ before
being examined, in order that the idea of the quantity present may be
definite. For instance, in the Prussian blue, and sulphocyanide tests,
the resulting colour may be imitated by standard solutions: in the
silver test, a standard silver solution should also be used, and thus a
triply-confirmed knowledge of the quantity present may be attained; and
little bottles, containing the results, should be preserved, to show in
the courts of justice.

I. ODOUR.—All tests involving odour are affected seriously by the
remarkable differences between different people as to their sense of
smell. We hear much of “colour-blindness;” but the analogous olfactory
defect has almost escaped remark. Yet “smell-blindness,” as I have
formerly christened it, or “anozism,” if a Greek word be required,
is exceedingly common, and chemists and medical men are frequently
afflicted with it. I have known an artist, who could not smell strong
ammonia, yet delighted in the odour of new paint, which he compared
to roses. Many laboratory students can neither smell acetic acid,
arseniuretted hydrogen, nor cyanogen. An assistant was so fond of
sulphuretted hydrogen, that he was once found insensible beside the
apparatus, having narcotized himself with the gas (he recovered);
and many more such eccentricities. In the case of prussic acid these
diversities are enormous. Some are so sensitive, that the least trace
in a room becomes rapidly unbearable, causing headache and nausea;
others are like photographers, and can work in a heavily-cyanogened
atmosphere. Such idiosyncrasies become of great importance in evidence;
for example:—

In Tawell’s trial, Mr. Champneys, surgeon, testified as follows: “Have
no experience in detecting odour of prussic acid in a human subject.
Should think it may be taken without detection. Should expect it in the
mouth and breath, but there may be exceptions. There was no odour in
her [the deceased’s] breath; but, on opening the body, I was positive
I smelt prussic acid. The other two surgeons could not smell it.”
Afterwards, when the contents of the stomach were transferred to a jar,
neither the three surgeons, nor Mr. Cooper, the analyst, could perceive
the least odour of prussic acid, even when the contents were boiled.
Nor was it smelt in the blood. Mr. Cooper subsequently stated: “I have
no doubt that prussic acid may exist without being smelt: absence of
smell may arise from dilution, or from its being covered by the smell
of other substances. When I smell it, it affects spasmodically the back
of the throat. _Sometimes it has produced a spasmodic constriction
about the throat without my smelling it._” Here was a well-marked case
of intermittent smell-blindness.

There were also several questions as to whether prussic acid might
have existed in the form of an inodorous salt. Mr. Champneys further
stated that he put ½ drachm of prussic acid into a tumbler filled
with Guinness’s porter, and the smell was _scarcely perceptible_. Mr.
Norblad, surgeon, deposed that he mixed 12 grains of prussic acid with
a pint of porter, but could not then smell it. “Some of the porter
dropped on the table, and I did then smell it.” In the same trial,
Henry Thomas, druggist’s assistant, mixed 30 drops of B.P. prussic
acid with 11 oz. of porter, and found the odour of the acid _slightly
perceptible_; yet, when he was pouring Scheele’s acid from a bottle,
three women had to leave the room to avoid suffocation!

In a case of suicide by cyanide of potassium (Chem. News, 1861, p.
261), the smell of prussic acid was not perceived by the surgeon,
either immediately after death or at the post-mortem examination,
nor by the analyst until the contents had been distilled with dilute
sulphuric acid.

To help in elucidating this matter I have made some experiments as to
the detection of the odour of prussic acid. An acid of 2 per cent.
strength (B.P.) was used.

1. From a bottle of Guinness’s stout, freshly opened, 3 samples of
1 fluid oz. each were measured. To the first 1 drop of the acid was
added, to the second 2 drops, the third being left untouched. This was
done out of my sight in another room. They were then privately marked
by an assistant, and brought in; when myself and two others, one of
them entirely inexperienced, independently and at once classified them
without hesitation correctly as to the relative _amounts_ of prussic
acid. The odour was so distinct as to produce, when inhaled, a feeling
of oppression, and to _quite overpower the odour of the beer_.

  1 drop in 1 fl. oz. = 0·23 per cent. of the dilute (B.P.) acid.
          ”           =  ·0046 per cent. of real anhydrous HCN.

About 1/30 of a poisonous dose. Hence if a poisonous dose were put into
a pint and a half of stout, the odour would be distinct.

2. One drop of the dilute (2 per cent.) acid was added to 6 oz.
stout: there resulted a slight but distinct odour of prussic acid.
Hence a poisonous dose in _nine pints_ would be smelt. Covered by a
watch-glass, with a drop of yellow ammonium sulphide on it, it was
warmed; the drop, on evaporation, gave a distinct red sulphocyanide
reaction with ferric chloride. Exposed to the air for twenty-four
hours, all the above samples had lost their odour, and failed to give
the sulphocyanide reaction.

3. Two samples of urine, measuring ½ pint each, were treated
respectively with 1 and 2 drops of B.P. acid (strength in this case
1·18 per cent. HCN), and a third ½ pint left untouched, the same
precautions being used as with the above beers. Three independent
witnesses again classified them without difficulty as to relative
amounts of the poison. This is 2 drops of an exceptionally weak acid to
the pint.

4. The contents of a human stomach, very fetid from decomposition, were
divided into two portions of about 2 oz. each: one was left untouched;
to the other 1 grain of mercuric cyanide was added, and then about
5 drops of hydrochloric acid, and a little zinc dust. The whole was
well stirred, and shut up close. Next day the odour of HCN was very
prominent in the one to which the cyanide had been added, in spite of
the strong original smell of both.

5. I cannot agree with Taylor that either peppermint or tobacco mask
the odour appreciably.

The odour of _nitrobenzol_, being similar to that of bitter almonds,
might lead to a suspicion of prussic acid without due caution (Woodman
and Tidy).

In putrefying, organic matters often develope ammonium sulphide,
becoming alkaline. The ammonium sulphide would combine with the HCN
to form sulphocyanide of ammonium, _which is inodorous_, but, by
distillation with acids, gives HCN. Sulphocyanide, however, could not
be produced _unless the original matters were alkaline_. In Tawell’s,
and most other trials, the stomach contents were _acid_, as they always
are naturally from the gastric juice.

Taylor (Med. Jurisprudence, 1873, vol. i., p. 364) mentions a case
where the blood had a strong odour of prussic acid, and the mucous
membrane of the stomach, _even after it had been washed three times
with water_, also exhaled a strong odour. In another case (Med. Gaz.,
vol. xxxvi., p. 104), where 20 grains of Scheele’s acid had been taken
with ultimate recovery, the vomited matters had _no odour_, “showing
that, if not concealed by other odours, the whole of the acid must
have been absorbed.” Many other instances might be quoted where nothing
was smelt, and yet the tests revealed prussic acid.

As to the question about the _salts_ of prussic acid, it may be
generally said that all poisonous cyanides would smell in the stomach,
except, perhaps, mercuric cyanide. _See_ “Properties of the Salts,”
p. 73. Possibly the formation of mercuric cyanide may have accounted
for the absence of odour in some of the above cases, as I do not find
that mercury was tested for, though its compounds are common medicines.
Otherwise it is hardly possible that hydrocyanic poisoning should
have been effected, and the acid be still there, without its very
characteristic odour being perceptible to an observer with an acute
olfactory sense. I have entered at some length into the question of
odour, as much importance has been attached to it in the trials, and I
still consider it as one of the most delicate and positive of tests.

II. SILVER TEST.—When silver nitrate is added to a solution containing
HCN or a cyanide acidulated with nitric acid, a white precipitate
falls of silver cyanide, soluble in ammonia, insoluble in dilute, but
soluble in hot concentrated nitric acid, and not blackened by light.
This reaction is rendered quantitative according to Liebig’s volumetric
method. The original solution is made slightly alkaline by potash, and
a standard solution containing 1·7 grammes of silver nitrate per litre
(1 cub. centimetre = ·0017 grm. AgNO_{3}) is added until a permanent
white turbidity is produced, seen best over a sheet of black paper
or a black book. Then each cub. centimetre used is equivalent to a
_double_ quantity or ·00054 grammes of HCN. Formic acid, or chlorides,
do not interfere; in fact, it is advantageous to have a little chloride

The silver cyanide may be also estimated _gravimetrically_ by adding
excess of silver nitrate, collecting the precipitate on a weighed
filter, washing, drying, and weighing. Silver cyanide corresponds
to two-tenths of its weight of HCN (134 gives 27). If chlorides be
present, the mixed precipitate of silver cyanide and chloride is
weighed, treated with dilute hydrochloric acid, and weighed again.
The HCN is thus displaced, and passes into the filtrate; the silver
precipitate, now all as chloride, is weighed again: then the increase
of weight multiplied by 27 and divided by 9·5 (the difference between
the equivalent weights of silver chloride and cyanide) is equal to
the _weight_ of HCN present. But the volumetric process is quite as
accurate, and more expeditious.

In poisoning cases advantage is taken of the opacity of silver cyanide
thus: A drop of moderately dilute silver nitrate is placed on a
watch-glass over the substance, which may be gently warmed, taking
care that the steam condensed does not cause the drop to fall. If
HCN be present, the drop will become opaque-white from formation of
silver cyanide. 1/100 grain of HCN, equal to ¼ grain of B.P. acid, will
give this reaction (Taylor). If there is only a small amount, and the
action is gradual, the drop on drying in the air may exhibit crystals
of silver cyanide, recognizable under the microscope as minute prisms
obliquely truncated. Of course the silver nitrate itself may give
crystals, but they will be very soluble in water.

Cyanide of silver is decomposed by (1) hydrochloric acid, giving
silver chloride; (2) dilute sulphuric acid and zinc, giving silver;
(3) sulphuretted hydrogen, giving silver sulphide; in each case HCN is
liberated and may be distilled off: then the other tests may be applied.

If sulphuretted hydrogen be present, it will give a _black_ with silver
nitrate. The liquid should in this case be previously shaken with just
enough carbonate of lead to remove the sulphuretted hydrogen. The
latter, however, does not interfere with the Prussian blue or sulphur

When sufficient in quantity, the cyanide of silver, thoroughly dried
in a water-bath, may be transferred to a small bulb-tube and heated,
the end being closed with the finger. It breaks up into cyanogen gas,
silver, and paracyanide of silver, a peculiar glow and effervescence
occurring as it decomposes. The cyanogen will have the characteristic
bitter almond odour, and, on removing the finger, will burn with a
flame violet on the margin and rosy in the centre.

III. PRUSSIAN BLUE (Scheele).—Add to the solution or distillate
caustic potash in excess, then a drop or two of fresh ferrous sulphate
(protosulphate of iron), and a little ferric chloride (perchloride
of iron—the tinct. ferri perchlor. of the Pharmacopœia will do),
warm gently for a few minutes, add dilute hydrochloric acid in slight
excess: if much HCN be present, a deep blue precipitate (Prussian blue)
will remain; if only a trace, the liquid will be greenish, and on
standing till the next day a blue deposit will form.[22] This is the
only _blue_ iron precipitate which is insoluble in dilute hydrochloric

_Remarks._—Sulphuretted hydrogen does not interfere with this test,
as the black ferrous sulphide dissolves in hydrochloric acid. The
amount of iron salts added should have some relation to the amount
of HCN present, an idea of which will have been attained by the
silver test. Moderate excess of potash must be present all the time
till the hydrochloric acid is added. A large amount of iron salt is
objectionable, as the yellow colour interferes with the final green
tint with traces of HCN. The test may be made quantitative by imitating
the tint with a weak standard solution of potassium ferrocyanide
treated with a drop of hydrochloric acid and a drop of ferric chloride,
on the same principle as “_Nesslerizing_” (see Wanklyn’s Water
Analysis). Finally the precipitate of Prussian blue should be preserved
to exhibit at the trial, as this is the most positive, though not the
most delicate, test.

IV. SULPHUR TEST (Liebig).—The liquid to be examined is placed in a
somewhat shallow glass dish or beaker, covered almost airtight with
a watch-glass, moistened on the under surface with a drop or two of
_yellow_ ammonium sulphide. [The ordinary sulphide is commonly yellow
enough for the purpose, or, if not, can be made so by warming with a
little flowers of sulphur.] After warming gently for a short time (the
periods recommended by different authorities vary from half a minute to
ten minutes), great care being taken that the steam does not condense
and cause the solution on the watch-glass to drop back into the liquid,
the cover is removed, dried on a water bath to drive off any excess
of ammonium sulphide, treated with a drop or two of water, and a drop
of not too acid ferric chloride free from nitric acid and diluted
till nearly free from colour. If HCN be present, it will have formed
sulphocyanide with the ammonium sulphide, and will therefore generate
a blood-red colour with the ferric chloride. If a colour be produced,
continue the addition of ferric chloride till no further deepening
occurs. The reaction is made quantitative by comparing the tint with
that produced by a known quantity of sulphocyanide and ferric solution
(Herapath). But there are difficulties in making it exact.

This is the most delicate test for HCN, detecting 1/7930th of a
grain of HCN in a very dilute liquid, whereas Prussian blue does not
discover less than 1/780th of a grain (Taylor, Ann. Ch. Pharm. lxv.,
263). Salts of acetic, formic, and meconic acids give red colours with
ferric chloride, but (1) meconic acid is not volatile; (2) the red
from acetic and formic acids is at once removed by a slight excess of
dilute hydrochloric acid, sulphocyanide is not; (3) sulphocyanide-red
is destroyed by solution of mercuric chloride, the others are not.

The above tests are sufficient, but the following additional ones have
been at different times proposed.

V. GUAIACUM TEST.—Paper dipped in fresh tincture of guaiacum,
containing about 3 per cent. of the resin, then dried, then moistened
with dilute cupric sulphate solution (2 per cent.), becomes blue in HCN
vapour. But the same effect is produced _without HCN_ by almost all
oxydants, such as chlorine, bromine, or iodine, ferric chloride, nitric
and nitrous acids, chromic acid, peroxide of hydrogen, ozone (Mohr’s
Toxicologie), also by ammonia, hypochlorous acid, soluble chromates,
&c. (Blyth).

VI. URANIUM TEST.—A grain or two of pure ferrous salt (ammonio-ferrous
sulphate will do), and the same quantity of uranium nitrate, are
dissolved in half an ounce of water. Two or three drops of this are
placed on a white plate, and a drop of the suspected liquid added.
A purple precipitate, or a greyish purple colour in weak solutions,
indicates HCN. Cobalt nitrate may be used instead of the uranium salt,
and is nearly as delicate. (Carey Lea, American J. of Science [3] ix.,

VII. A hot solution of potassium cyanide mixed with _picric acid_ gives
a deep blood-red —“picrocyanic” acid). Free HCN does not give this
reaction, and therefore must first be neutralized by an alkali. Said to
be more delicate than the iron tests. (C. D. Braun, Zeitschr. f. anal.
Ch. iii., 464.)

VIII. Slightly alkalize the distillate with potash, add a few drops
of _cupric sulphate_, and afterwards just enough hydrochloric acid
to dissolve the excess of cupric hydrate: white cuprous cyanide will
remain undissolved. “This test will detect 1/20000 of HCN in solution.”
(Lassaigne, Ann. de Chimie, xxvii., 200.) But a similar effect is
produced by hydriodic acid, and potassium iodide might have been

IX. Mix the HCN with excess of alkali, add cobalt chloride and tartaric
acid: on exposure to air a deep brown-red colour will be produced. (C.
D. Braun, loc. cit.).

X. If to a solution of HCN, potash be added in excess, and then a
little very finely pulverised, or precipitated, mercuric oxide, the
latter will dissolve. Mercuric oxide is soluble in alkaline fluids only
in presence of HCN. (Fresenius, Qual. Anal.).

XI. “With peroxide of hydrogen, natural blood gives effervescence
from escape of oxygen, but no discoloration. Blood containing HCN
gives a brown colour, the spectroscopic bands disappearing, and no
effervescence.” (Schönbein.) Hæmatocrystallin, the colouring matter
of the blood corpuscles, combines, in fact, with HCN, giving a dark
coloured compound which appears to be crystallizable and definite in
composition (Hoppe Seyler), does not act as a carrier of oxygen like
the natural hæmatocrystallin, and possesses a distinct spectrum (see
Thudichum, Chem. Physiology). The blue masses in the blood described by
Ralph (Journ. Microsc. Science, Oct. 24, 1866) have not been found by

XII. Mercurous nitrate gives at once with HCN solutions, a black
deposit of metallic mercury, and a solution of mercuric cyanide. With
calomel, a similar reaction takes place according to Allen, but I have
found that the solution is not deodorized even by large excess of
calomel, the odour becoming stronger and more pungent than the original
HCN. On evaporating, mercuric chloride is left. Probably some cyanogen
chloride is formed. The odour is so much intensified that it might be
of use as a test. In view of the possible administration of calomel,
the reaction is interesting.

Of course it will not be necessary to employ all these methods. The
odour, and the silver, Prussian blue, and “sulphur” tests will be
sufficient. I would suggest a form of apparatus by which all the latter
could be obtained from the original substance without distillation in a

A shallow beaker or glass jar is closed by an india-rubber stopper,
through two holes in which are passed glass rods ending in glass spoon
bowls bent at right angles, so as to be horizontal when mounted. The
bowls should be one inch in diameter, and will have to be specially
made. In the first bowl a few drops of silver nitrate are placed, in
the second a little potash. The apparatus is put in a warm place
for six or eight hours, then the two rods are removed, a third rod
substituted, its bowl containing a drop or two of yellow ammonium
sulphide, the other hole plugged, and the apparatus put back in the
warm place for two or three hours more. The first bowl will have the
silver cyanide, the second should be treated with ferric and ferrous
salt and hydrochloric acid for Prussian blue (_vide_), the third
evaporated and ferric chloride added for the sulphocyanide test. This
arrangement prevents loss of HCN by volatilization, and also, with a
little care, avoids any danger of the reagent dropping back into the
solution. The three rods cannot safely be placed in together, as the
sulphide vapour would blacken the silver.

For the modifications in testing necessitated by the presence of
mercury, &c., see under the different _Salts_.


Hydrocyanic acid combines with bases to form the _cyanides_, which may
be thus grouped:—

A. CYANIDES OF THE ALKALIES (potassium, sodium, ammonium), and of the
ALKALINE EARTHS (barium, strontium, calcium, magnesium). These are all
soluble in water, are alkaline to test paper, and are decomposed by
all acids, even carbonic, hence they _exhale an odour of HCN_, and are
nearly as poisonous as prussic acid itself. If they are present, the
stomach contents must be alkaline. The only member of this group likely
to be met with is

POTASSIUM CYANIDE, KCN. Broken opaque white lumps, or small crystals,
deliquescent, smelling strongly of HCN, soapy to the feel, often
containing much carbonate, and therefore effervescing with acids,
easily fused by heat to a clear liquid, very soluble in water, less
in alcohol. Used for removing silver stains in the form of “cyanogen
soap,” but very dangerous, as a cut or scratch may cause absorption,
and even the unbroken skin, according to Allen, may absorb enough
to cause symptoms. Its aqueous solution decomposes spontaneously
into formiate of potassium, ammonia, and a brown substance. Its taste
is bitter and acrid, causing constriction and a burning heat in the
throat. It is very strongly alkaline. Distilled with dilute acids it
gives off all its HCN. It easily responds to the other tests. In a
case of poisoning investigated by Dr. Bernays, a piece of potassium
cyanide was found in the deceased’s mouth, which was much inflamed by
its acridity. The alkali being strong, and the acid weak, cyanide of
potassium has most of the effects of an alkaline irritant.

The _potassium_ may be found by incinerating a portion of the substance
and testing for it in the ash. Taylor (Med. Jurisprudence) improperly
says that the _salt itself_ (cyanide of potassium) may be recovered
from the organs by incinerating them in close vessels and treating the
ash with water. I have already mentioned that cyanide would be formed
in this way from the organic matters themselves, even if not originally

B. MERCURIC CYANIDE, Hg(CN)_{2}. Of all metals mercury has most
affinity for HCN, mercuric oxide decomposing other cyanides, even
Prussian blue, and dissolving readily, as we have seen, in free HCN,
or in alkaline cyanides. Hence if a compound of mercury have been
given medicinally, the prussic acid will be found in the stomach
as mercuric cyanide, which is easily soluble in water, neutral to
test paper, _quite inodorous_, and extremely poisonous. It is not
officially recognised in any Pharmacopœia, except the French; has
been occasionally used in medicine instead of mercuric chloride,
which it resembles in action, but has the advantage of not being
incompatible with alkalies and organic matters (Royle’s Mat. Med.,
6th ed.). It crystallizes in anhydrous four-sided obliquely-truncated
white opaque prisms, with a disagreeable metallic taste, is permanent
in the air, easily soluble in water, less in alcohol. It fails to
respond to the silver nitrate (partially) or Prussian blue tests,
and gives the sulphur test with difficulty. It is decomposed by
distillation with hydrochloric acid, but only ⅔rds of the HCN pass over
into the distillate, unless ammonium chloride be added (Roscoe and
Schorlemmer’s Chemistry). Whenever HCN is looked for, it is safer to
examine also for mercury, and, if found, to add a little hydrochloric
acid and sulphuretted hydrogen to the original liquid, thereby
precipitating mercuric sulphide (black) and liberating the HCN, which
may be distilled off. If, however, excess of sulphuretted hydrogen
has been inadvertently added, it would blacken silver nitrate, and
hence the silver test would not be available, unless the solution was
previously shaken with lead carbonate to remove the sulphide. But it
would not affect the Prussian blue or sulphur tests, as sulphide of
iron is soluble in hydrochloric acid. Mercuric cyanide also gives off
all its HCN when distilled with iron filings or zinc dust, sulphuric
acid, and water. This seems a better method.

Mercuric cyanide is said to be an irritant poison, and to be similar
in its action to corrosive sublimate. Combination with mercury seems
to mask the physiological action of HCN, just as it does its chemical
action. The medicinal dose is 1/16th grain gradually increased to ½
grain, in pills or solution (Royle). 10 grains have proved fatal. By
heat, when dry, it is broken up like silver cyanide into mercury and

C. CYANIDES OF THE HEAVY METALS, as zinc, lead, copper, &c. _Silver
cyanide_ has already been described. These are insoluble in water,
inodorous, and probably, while intact, not poisonous. But they are
decomposed by mineral acids, and, as the gastric juice is acid, they
would more or less readily yield free HCN, with its usual odour and
effects. The influence of the metal has also to be considered.

D. DOUBLE CYANIDES, derived from iron, cobalt, manganese, chromium,
platinum, &c., are inodorous. Those of the alkalies and alkaline earths
are alone soluble. The only common ones are ferro-and ferricyanide of
potassium, the so-called yellow and red prussiates of potash. They are
said to be merely purgative, not poisonous, but, from the comparative
facility with which they yield HCN by acids, they cannot be considered
safe. Soluble ferrocyanides give, with pure ferrous sulphate, a white
precipitate turning blue in air; with ferric chloride a precipitate of
Prussian blue; with cupric sulphate a maroon precipitate. Ferricyanide
solutions give with ferrous salts a deep blue precipitate; with ferric
salts a dark-brown coloration. These reactions would be applied to a
filtered portion of the stomach contents. _Prussian blue_ is ferric
ferrocyanide mainly, but varies in composition: it is supposed to be

Almen states (Chem. Centr. 1872, 439) that potassium ferrocyanide in
solution decomposes at ordinary temperatures, especially if a little
free acid be present, HCN being formed. Prussian blue only decomposes
when warmed to 40° or 50° C. (therefore not in the body, C. G. S.),
“hence the presence of HCN, if accompanied by ferrocyanide, is not a
proof of poisoning.” But ferrocyanide is not in any Pharmacopœia, and
is not administered medicinally. Yet, to answer a possible question, a
known fraction of the original substance might be extracted with water,
and tested as above. The same observations apply to ferricyanide.

When ferro-or ferricyanides are distilled with moderately strong
sulphuric acid, a _portion_ of the contained HCN passes over; in
fact, this is the common process for preparing prussic acid. The iron
remains behind in the retort, in combination with potassium and the
rest of the cyanogen. If ferric hydrate —“ferri peroxidum humidum”),
or ferrous sulphate and potash, have been administered as antidotes to
HCN, Prussian blue might be formed in the stomach. It would then show
a blue colour, either by itself or on addition of an acid, and blue
particles under the microscope, if in sufficient quantity. In this case
the HCN left in the stomach would have been rendered innocuous, and the
prussic acid which had actually caused the death would be found free in
the blood, &c. The stomach contents might then show no HCN, either by
odour or distillation, as Prussian blue is inodorous, and not easily
decomposed by dilute acids. With alkalies it turns brown, giving ferric
hydrate and an alkaline ferrocyanide.

Ludwig and Maushner (Chem. Centr. 1881, 43), in a case of poisoning,
discovered a quantity of potassium ferrocyanide in the body. This was
removed by slightly acidulating and carefully precipitating by ferric
chloride. The filtrate, distilled with tartaric acid, yielded much HCN.
The sample of cyanide of potassium, which had probably caused death,
was afterwards found to contain a large proportion of ferrocyanide.

E. SULPHONCYANIDES (Thiocyanates). Those of the alkalies and alkaline
earths are soluble and colourless; ferric sulphocyanide is soluble,
and intense blood-red (sulphur test); other sulphocyanides are mostly
insoluble. They are all inodorous, poisonous in moderate quantities,
and are not officinal in any Pharmacopœia. Distilled with acids they
break up, HCN being found in the distillate. It has been mentioned
already that ammonium sulphide, produced by putrefaction, may combine
with any HCN present to form ammonium sulphocyanide; therefore, if the
matters to be examined are alkaline, and putrefaction has commenced,
Allen (Commerc. Org. Anal., 1879, art. HCN) recommends us to digest
with alcohol, filter, evaporate to dryness on a water bath, redissolve
in a little water, filter again, and test the filtrate with ferric
chloride after just acidulating with hydrochloric acid: the well-known
blood-red colour will result (_see_ “Sulphur Test”). But the ordinary
distillation with tartaric or sulphuric acid would in this case also
detect the HCN, though the _whole_ might not pass into the distillate.

_Sulphocyanide of mercury_ is the toy called “Pharaoh’s Serpent.” A
case of poisoning by it is recorded.

It is important to notice that traces of sulphocyanide are naturally
present in the saliva. If this salt be found, the question will occur,
how much could be accounted for by the saliva? Carpenter (Princ.
of Human Physiol.) quotes Harley to the effect that the average
daily secretion from the salivary glands is 1 or 2 pounds: other
observers have stated that it varies greatly. The secretion itself
is said to contain, in 1000 parts, one part (Frehrichs), or 0·6 part
(Jacubowitsch), or even 0·3 part (Oehl), of potassium sulphocyanide;
that is, 4·2 to 7 grains per pound, equivalent to from 1 to 2 grains
of HCN, or 2 to 4 grains if 2 pounds of saliva were secreted.
This would be a serious matter but for the fact that, whether from
decomposition by the gastric juice or otherwise, or from its passing
out of the stomach as it passes in, it is certain that no such quantity
is ever found naturally in the stomach, not more than a minute trace
being ever given by the processes, unless hydrocyanic acid, in one of
its forms, has actually been administered.

_Cyanide of cadmium_, and some of its double salts, are sparingly
soluble. _Double cyanide of silver and potassium_ is soluble and
crystallizable. It is the salt used in electro-plating, and,
as commonly met with, smells strongly of potassium cyanide.
_Zinc-potassium cyanide_ has been used medicinally: it occurs in
beautiful crystals, inodorous when dry, but having a faint odour of HCN
in solution.

The other cyanides are rare, and their physiological action is
unrecorded. _Cyanic acid_ and cyanates are said not to be poisonous.

_Oil of Bitter Almonds._—The crude oil contains, as we have seen, 8 to
15 per cent, of HCN. Dissolved in spirit it forms “essence of almonds,”
and is exceedingly poisonous, having caused thirty-one deaths in four
years (Taylor). Two drachms of the oil has killed a man in seventeen
minutes (_Lancet_, 1868, p. 447), two ounces caused death immediately.
The odour of almonds is always distinct in the stomach.

The oil can be freed from HCN, but then does not keep so well, and is
much more costly. Its sp. gr. is 1·049; it boils at 356° F. The crude
oil is yellow: with concentrated sulphuric acid it gives a crimson-red
colour, and on diluting a yellow emulsion. We may estimate the amount
of HCN in it by shaking with water, separating, adding dilute potash
to the aqueous liquid, and testing it with standard silver solution
as described under “Silver Test.” The other tests may also be used
to prove the _presence_ of HCN; the guaiacum and copper paper being
specially convenient.

A case of poisoning by bitter almonds is reported in the “South
Australian Register” for August 6th, 1879. A female child (whose
age is not stated) ate a dozen of them, freshly taken from the tree,
and died in three hours. The symptoms described are pain, coma, and

_Antidotes_ to HCN are generally useless since the death is so
sudden. A moderately dilute solution of an alkali, such as potash,
lime or washing soda, along with a little ferrous sulphate, would
render harmless so much of the poison as was still in the stomach
unabsorbed. As already mentioned, this would cause a little difficulty
in the chemical analysis. _Ammonia_ acts as an antidote by opposing
the _depressant_ action of HCN. _Chlorine water_ has been used: this
converts the HCN into ammonium chloride, carbon monoxide and dioxide,
and a little cyanogen chloride.

_Medicinal uses._—Its primary action is on the cerebrospinal nerves.
It is employed externally, largely diluted, to allay neuralgia and
itching of the skin, and to relieve earache (not more than two drops of
B. P. acid at a time)[24]: it must not come in contact with abrasions,
or it might be absorbed and produce poisoning symptoms. Internally, it
allays dyspepsia and the irritant effects of capsicum, &c. (Royle).
Safe dose internally two to six minims of the B. P. 2 per cent. acid,
suspended if there is any constriction of the throat (Farquharson’s

_Fatal dose._—Smallest recorded (Med. Gaz. 35, p. 896); twenty grains
of Scheele’s acid, fatal in twenty minutes, equal to fifty grains of
B. P. 2 per cent. acid, equal to one grain of anhydrous prussic acid.
Largest dose with recovery (_Lancet_, 1854, January 14), _one drachm_
(sixty grains) of Scheele’s acid, but in this case energetic remedies
were at once applied. Average fatal dose of 2 per cent. acid, thirty
minims (Royle’s Mat. Med., Dr. Harley, 6th ed.).

_Symptoms._—These vary with the dose, &c. A large quantity kills in
two to five minutes, though insensibility may ensue in a few seconds.
But patients may survive for twenty minutes, or even for an hour; and
may continue in imminent danger for several hours, and yet recover
(Guy and Ferrier, Forens. Med., 1881). Many cases have occurred of
voluntary acts, such as concealing or throwing away the bottle,
having been performed after fatal doses had been swallowed (_Ibid_,
p. 600). In animals, according to Mr. Nunneley, there is usually a
peculiar plaintive cry, but not in man, though there may be a call for
assistance. Convulsions, and involuntary evacuation of fæces or urine,
may or may not occur. Large doses kill by cardiac syncope; smaller ones
by paralysis of the respiratory centre, or, if gradual, by impeded
oxidation of the blood (Farquharson’s Therapeutics). Other symptoms
are, dilatation of pupils, muscular prostration, deep convulsive
breathing at long intervals, quick feeble irregular pulse, spasmodic
closure of the jaws and clenching of the hands (Taylor). Breathing
sometimes stertorous (Christison, Ed. Month. Journal, February, 1850,
p. 97. Reg. _v._ Burroughs, Cent. Crim. Court, February, 1857).
Vomiting occasional, or foaming at the mouth.

_Post-mortem appearances._—Not characteristic (Farquharson; Guy and
Ferrier). Putrefaction not accelerated (Taylor). The veins contain dark
fluid blood: the right side of the heart is gorged (Harley). There may
or may not be congestion and reddening of stomach and intestines, or of
the brain. On the whole, the appearances are those of asphyxia.[25] The
odour should be sought for in all parts, and _as soon as possible_ the
organs should be shut up in stoppered jars, or well-corked and sealed
bottles, and sent at once for analysis.

The symptoms and post-mortem appearances of poisoning by _Cyanide of
Potassium_ are the same as those of prussic acid, except that:—

1. Convulsions are more common.

2. Owing to the irritant action of the alkali, the stomach is reddened.

3. The contents are alkaline.

The fatal dose is less than five grains, but Taylor mentions a case of
recovery after nearly one ounce of the commercial cyanide, which may,
however, have contained much carbonate.

Hydrocyanic acid is not, in the strict sense, a _cumulative_ poison;
“but doses that exceed the proper medicinal limit may happen to prove
fatal though similar previous ones have appeared to be harmless,
in consequence of a change in the body itself.” (Guy and Ferrier’s
Forensic Medicine, 1881, p. 606.)

In the trial of George Ball for poisoning his mother with prussic
acid, at Lewes, July, 1860 (previously reported), the question arose
as to the difference between _minims_ and _drops_. A minim of water
is supposed to weigh a grain: if the fluid is heavier than water, it
weighs more than a grain; if lighter, it weighs less. But a _drop_ is
quite an indefinite quantity: it is affected, not only by the specific
gravity, but by the cohesion of the fluid, by the shape and size of the
vessel, the manner of pouring, and the temperature. I have made some
experiments which show the irregularity. (See also Woodman and Tidy’s
Forensic Medicine, p. 456.)

  │                                    │           │        │Measured│
  │                                    │           │ No. of │  in    │
  │         Capacity of Bottle.        │  Liquid.  │ Drops. │Minims. │
  │(Stoppered) 6 fluid oz.             │   Water   │  117   │  180   │
  │              Do. (another observer)│    Do.    │   90   │  120   │
  │            1½ fluid oz.            │    Do.    │   47   │  100   │
  │(Corked)    6      do.              │    Do.    │   36   │  100   │
  │Same capacity, dropped with the cork│    Do.    │37 to 41│  100   │
  │ (Stoppered) 6 fluid oz.            │ Rectified │  243   │  120   │
  │                                    │  Spirit   │        │        │

Proving that while a drop may be estimated at about 1½ to 2 minims (a
good deal more than the usual supposition, the two terms being often
regarded as synonymous), yet the inconstancy is so great that it is
absolutely imperative, in using powerful medicines, to prescribe exact
measurement, and not such a precarious process as dropping.

As to the period after death during which HCN may be detected, Allen
(Comm. Org. Anal.) asserts that its detection is rarely possible after
more than twenty-four hours. This is astonishing, as Casper separated
more than 18 milligrammes from a body eight days after death; Sokoloff
detected it in hounds sixty days after; Dragendorff after four weeks in
a dog, after eight or ten days in man. Reichardt (Arch. Pharm. 3, 19,
204) found it in a body two months after death—in the organs, but not
in the urine. In the Tawell trial, also, the interval was considerable.

Casper states in his Handbook (vol. iii., illustrative cases of HCN)
that Schauenstein (one of the Prussian official chemists), twenty-six
hours after death, found no HCN in the stomach, but a considerable
amount of _formic acid_, the result of its metamorphosis. We know that
strong HCN, exposed to light, decomposes into formate of ammonium,
which, by distillation with a dilute acid, would give formic acid in
the distillate. That such a change should occur so rapidly in a dilute
solution, and in the darkness of the body, is improbable. It would be
well, however, that formic acid should be looked for in the distillate

Carefully neutralize a _measured portion_ with pure soda or potash;
evaporate on the water-bath to dryness. The alkaline formate will be
left in white crystals if present, together with the cyanide, which
will not crystallize, but remain as a deliquescent mass. Dissolve in a
little water, and divide into three equal portions.

(1.) To the first add silver nitrate in slight excess. Cyanide of
silver will precipitate, formate will remain in solution, if not too
concentrated. Filter, if possible. On boiling, if any blackening
happens from reduction of the silver, formic acid is _probably_
present. _Acetic_ acid does not reduce silver nitrate.

(2.) To the second add dilute _neutral_ ferric chloride (a solution of
iron-alum answers admirably). A red-brown colour, removed by a drop of
hydrochloric acid, indicates either acetic or formic acid.

(3.) Evaporate the third portion to dryness, and ignite gently in a
closed crucible. Formate and acetate will be turned into carbonate,
while cyanide will remain unchanged if air be excluded. If then
effervescence take place on treating the residue with a little
hydrochloric acid, it is a confirmation of the presence of formic or
acetic acid. The first test will have revealed which it is.

Many animal substances, when distilled with strong acids, _do_ give
acetic and formic acids, but they do not act thus with _dilute_ acids.
Yet a stomach will usually yield a little acetic acid from the food
having turned sour.

If formic acid be present, it will probably have proceeded from the
decomposition of HCN. Then the reduced silver obtained in the first
test should be weighed, and calculated into formic acid, and also into
hydrocyanic acid (108 parts of silver = 46 parts formic acid, or 27
parts HCN). The result may be stated thus:—

“Hydrocyanic acid actually found,—-- grains. Formic acid found,—--
grains. If this had proceeded from the decomposition of hydrocyanic
acid, it would correspond to an additional amount of—-- grains of
hydrocyanic acid.”

It is needless to observe that the mere finding of formic acid would
be no proof of the administration of HCN, unless strong corroborative
evidence were at hand.

On the whole, we must always try, and we may often hope, to find HCN if
given, either free, as cyanide, or as sulphocyanide, even after months
have elapsed.



THREE cases are reported in this chapter. (1) That of William Palmer,
for the poisoning of John Parsons Cook, at Rugeley, in Staffordshire,
which, in consequence of the prejudice existing against him in that
county, was transferred by Act of Parliament to the Central Criminal
Court in the City of London,[26] and taken before Lord Chief Justice
Campbell, on the 14th, and eleven following days, of May, 1856. (2)
That of William Dove, for the murder of his wife, Harriet, at Leeds,
tried at York, July 16th, 1856, before Baron Bramwell. (3) That of
Silas Barlow, for the murder of his mistress, Eliza Soper, at Vauxhall,
tried at the Central Criminal Court, November, 1876, before Mr. Justice

The _first_ of these trials is remarkable for the conflict of the
medico-scientific evidence, the most eminent men among our physicians
and analysts being called on either side, and the most contradictory
testimony as to the possibility of detecting strychnia being given by
them. The _second_ trial shows the dangerous effect of hasty newspaper
reports in such cases—the murder of his wife by Dove having been
clearly suggested by the popular report to which some of the journals
of the day gave circulation, that Dr. Taylor, the eminent analyst, had
stated, in connection with Palmer’s case, that strychnia could not be
detected by analysis. This case is also interesting from the nature
of the insanity which was set up by the defence. The _last_ trial,
that of Silas Barlow, exposes the danger of the sale of the “Vermin
Killers,” so popular with all householders, most, if not all, of which
contain a large proportion of strychnia, and thus offer a ready means
for murder or suicide, especially as the purchase of them would not be
attributed to an evil intention. It is but a poor consolation to know
that, when the mischief has been done, the punishment of the actor can
be secured by the skill of the analyst.


TRIAL OF WILLIAM PALMER, _May 14, and following days_, 1856.[27]


 _For the Prosecution_: The Attorney-General (Sir A. Cockburn), Mr.
 Edwin James, Q.C., Mr. Bodkin, Mr. Welsby, and Mr. Huddlestone.

 _For the Defence_: Mr. Serjeant Shee, Mr. Grove, Q.C., Mr. Gray, and
 Mr. Kenealy.

_William Palmer_, surgeon, of Rugeley, Staffordshire, aged 31, was
indicted for the wilful murder of John Parsons Cook.


_Connection between Cook and Palmer._

_Mr. Cook_, having been originally brought up as a solicitor, on coming
into a fortune of from £12,000 to £13,000, abandoned his profession,
and took to the turf, where he became acquainted with the prisoner,
who had for some years kept racehorses. Originally in good local
practice, Palmer had of late transferred the majority of his patients
to a Mr. Thirlby, who had previously been his assistant, retaining only
two or three more immediately connected with him or his family. His
father, originally a working sawyer, had, by his industry, gradually
risen to be a timber merchant in a large way of business, and, on his
sudden death in 1837, left a fortune of £70,000. As he died intestate,
the eldest son executed a deed by which each of the children took
£7,000, and the remainder was left to the widow. Of these children,
seven in number, the prisoner was the fourth. As a child he was known
for his amiability and kindness, but also for his shy and underhand
manner, and his partiality for trying experiments of a cruel nature on
animals. “He was just and generous,” said one of his early friends,
“when he grew up, and he never forgot an old face.”[28] Originally
apprenticed to a firm of druggists in Liverpool, he had to leave
them in consequence of a scandal in money matters; was then put with
Mr. Tylecote, a surgeon, near Rugeley; walked the London hospitals,
living the gay life of so many of that class of students; passed his
examinations; married the illegitimate daughter of an Indian officer,
who left her a small property; and set up in Rugeley as a surgeon.
Of his five children only the first, a son, was living at the time of
his trial, the others all dying suddenly of convulsions within a few
weeks after their birth. He was an indulgent husband, a kind father, a
regular attendant at church, and apparently a religious man.

On his marriage, Palmer commenced to live in a handsome style, keeping
his carriage, and soon after began training and breeding racehorses,
and occupying himself on the turf. As his wife’s fortune was only for
her life, in 1854 he insured her life for £13,000, the premiums on
which exceeded the income he derived from her, further insurances of
a greater amount being declined by other offices. Within nine months
after this, his wife was dead, and the insurance money received,
relieving Palmer from difficulties that were already pressing on
him. Again, within three months after his wife’s death, Palmer was
endeavouring to effect insurances on the life of his brother Walter,
a confirmed drunkard, to the enormous extent of £80,000. Only one of
these policies, that in the Prince of Wales’ office, was accepted, the
other offices being put on their guard by the hint that “his wife had
died after the first payment of the premium had been made.” Pressed
by his pecuniary difficulties, he then tried to effect an insurance
for £10,000 on the life of one George Bate, a decayed farmer, whom he
employed as a kind of farm bailiff, and represented as a gentleman and
an esquire, with a famous cellar of wine, but the insurance offices
were now thoroughly awake; a detective was sent to interview the
esquire, whom he found hoeing turnips, and the scheme fell through.[29]

Since 1854, Palmer had been in the hands of the bill discounters,
and especially of a money-lending attorney in Mayfair of the name of
Pratt, with whom he from time to time discounted what purported to be
the acceptances of his mother, some of which were renewed on partial
payment, others cleared off by the money received from the insurance of
his wife’s life.

 “This,” said the Attorney-General, “brings us to the close of 1854.
 In the course of that year he effected another insurance in his
 brother’s name, but Palmer was the real party, and corresponded with
 Mr. Pratt on the subject of effecting it, and the policy for £13,000
 was assigned to Palmer. On the strength of that policy, which remained
 in the hands of Pratt, who paid the first premium out of a bill he
 discounted for Palmer at 60 per cent., they proceeded to discount
 further bills, this policy being kept as a collateral security. The
 bills, in the whole, discounted in the course of that year, amounted
 to £12,500—two in June, which were held over from month to month to
 keep them alive—two of £2000 each in March, 1855, with the proceeds
 of which Palmer bought two racehorses, Nettle and Chicken. These bills
 were renewed from time to time, and eventually came due in January,
 1856. Another bill for £2000 was discounted in April, 1855, renewed
 like the others, and became due on the 25th of October. On the 9th of
 July another bill for £2000 was discounted, renewed, and became due on
 the 12th of January. On the 27th of September another bill for £1000
 was discounted to pay for the renewal of the bills due and then coming
 due. So that when the Shrewsbury races took place in November, 1855,
 bills were due or rapidly maturing to the extent of £11,500, every
 one of which bore the forged acceptance of the prisoner’s mother. You
 will therefore understand the pressure which naturally and necessarily
 arose upon him; the pressure of the liabilities for £11,500 which
 he had not a shilling in the world to meet, and the still greater
 pressure which arose from the consciousness that the moment he could
 go on no longer, his mother would be resorted to for payment. The fact
 of his having committed these forgeries would be known, and would
 bring on him the penalty of the law for that crime so committed. The
 insurance company having refused to pay the policy effected on his
 brother’s life, no assistance could be derived from that source.”

Already, in May, 1855, Cook, with whom he had become intimately
acquainted in racing transactions, had lent him his acceptance for
£200 to meet a small claim, and had had to pay it on Palmer’s default.
In August of that year, Palmer again asked the money-lending attorney
of Mayfair to discount a bill of Cook’s for £500, representing that
Cook required the money. It was, however, declined without further
security, and then Cook assigned two of his racehorses—Polestar, the
subsequent winner at Shrewsbury, and Sirius—as a collateral security,
and obtained only £375 in money, and a wine warrant for £65, the rest
being swallowed up in discount and expenses. This money and warrant
Cook never got, Palmer asking Pratt to send it to the post-office at
Doncaster, whence he obtained it; and as it was made “to order,” and
bore a receipt stamp, Palmer, it was alleged, forged the name “John
Parsons Cook,” and took the cheque and the warrant, and appropriated
the proceeds. That bill would be due on the day of Cook’s death. In the
same month it was that he attempted to effect the insurance on Bate’s
life and failed; and though Cook had, at Palmer’s request, attested
this proposal, which referred to Palmer as the usual medical attendant,
beyond that he had nothing to do with this attempt.

Such was the desperate position of the prisoner at this time. It,
however, rapidly grew worse. On the 6th of November a writ for £2000
against Palmer, and another for the same sum against his mother, were
issued, but held over by Pratt in order that Palmer might make some
arrangement. This he did to the amount of £800, and in consequence,
after allowing for an exorbitant discount, £600 was taken off the bill,
leaving £1400 to be met. The Prince of Wales office had refused to pay
on Walter Palmer’s life, and Mr. Pratt would not wait any longer. On
the 13th of November, Pratt wrote him that all the bills, £11,500 in
amount, must be met—a letter which Palmer must have received the next
day—the day after that on which Cook’s horse, Polestar, won at the
Shrewsbury races. After the race, Cook had between £700 and £800 in
his pocket from bets paid on the course, and from the stakes and his
other bets would be entitled on the week after to receive more than
a thousand pounds at Tattersal’s. Before that day Cook was dead, his
pocket-book empty, and his betting-book not to be found.

Cook, though slightly disposed to pulmonary complaints, was a hale
and hearty young man, at the time of his fatal illness suffering only
from debility.[30] It was only natural that his victory should excite
him, and that with some friends he should celebrate it with two or
three bottles of champagne at the “Raven Hotel” on his return from the
course. He was, however, generally abstemious. He went to bed with
nothing the matter with him, got up the next day and went on the course
as usual. That night his illness began.

Late on the evening of the 14th of November, a betting agent of Cook’s,
of the name of _Fisher_, who was staying at the “Raven,” was invited by
Cook to come into the room where he, Palmer, and one Myatt were, and
take some brandy and water.

 “They were drinking grog,” says _Fisher_; “the deceased had some
 brandy and water before him. He asked me to sit down, and I did so.
 Cook asked the prisoner to have some more brandy and water, and he
 said he would not until Cook had drunk his. Cook then took up his
 glass, and drank almost all the liquor that was in it, and, within a
 minute, he exclaimed, ‘There is something in it; it burns my throat
 dreadfully.’ Upon his saying this, Palmer took up the glass, and
 sipped what remained in it, and said, ‘There is nothing in it.’ There
 was a very small quantity in the glass when the prisoner took it up.
 At this time a person of the name of _Reid_ came in, and the prisoner
 handed the glass to him, and asked if he thought there was anything in
 it, and handed it to me also, and we said there was nothing we could
 recognize, as the glass was empty. I said, however, that there was a
 strong scent upon it, but I could not detect anything but brandy. Cook
 went out of the room, and when he returned he called me out. I went
 with him into my sitting-room. He appeared very ill, and he told me he
 had been very sick and asked me to take his money. He said he thought
 Palmer had been dosing him. He gave me £700. He did not say what I
 was to do with the money. He was very sick again after he had given
 me the money, and asked me to go into his bedroom with him. I did
 so. Another person named _Jones_ went with us; the deceased vomited
 violently in his bedroom in our presence. He was so ill I recommended
 him to send for Dr. Gibson, who attended and gave him some medicine.
 He was certainly not drunk; there was nothing about him approaching to
 drunkenness. He appeared very ill the next morning, but a good deal
 better than the previous night, and I returned him his money.”[31]

_Mr. Gibson_, who saw Cook during this attack, confirmed Fisher’s and
Reed’s account, stating that his tongue was perfectly clean, his pulse
good, but his stomach appeared distended, that he only administered
simple remedies. Cook told him he thought he had been poisoned. He
seemed a little excited, but not drunk. A _Mrs. Brooks_, who also
attends races, added the following evidence on this incident:—

 “I went to the ‘Raven’ to see Palmer about half-past ten at night
 on Wednesday the 15th. I went upstairs, and asked a servant to tell
 Palmer that I wished to speak to him. She said he was there. At the
 top of the stairs are two passages, one facing, the other to the left.
 I turned to the left. I saw Palmer standing by a small table in the
 passage. He had a tumbler-glass in his hand in which there appeared to
 be a small quantity of water. I did not see him put anything into it.
 There was a light between me and him, and he held it up to the light.
 He said to me, ‘I will be with you presently.’ He saw me the moment I
 got to the top of the stairs. He stood at the table a minute or two
 longer with the glass in his hand, holding it up to the light and
 shaking it. The door of a sitting-room was partially open, and he went
 into it, taking the glass with him. In two or three minutes he came
 out again with the glass. What was in it was still of the colour of
 water. He then went into his own sitting-room, and the door was shut.”

Some brandy and water, which Palmer afterwards brought to Mrs. Brooks,
proved harmless to her; but she admitted that on the previous day
a great number of the racing men at Shrewsbury were affected with
sickness and purging, and that there was a talk in the town of the
water being poisoned.[32] With the return of Cook from Shrewsbury to
Rugeley with Palmer, on the day after this suspicious attack, the
summary of the case ends, it being necessary to detail the subsequent
events in the words of the leading witnesses.


In the evening of the 15th of November, Cook returned from Shrewsbury
with Palmer to the “Talbot Arms,” at Rugeley, an inn situated
immediately opposite Palmer’s own house. He said he had been ill at
Shrewsbury, went to bed early, dined with Palmer the next day, and
returned to the inn at night, apparently none the worse, and quite

 “On the following morning,” said _Mills_, the chambermaid, “Palmer
 came to see him, and asked me for a cup of coffee for him, which I
 procured, and I think I gave it to the deceased, and left the room.
 I did not see him drink the coffee; but when I went into the room
 shortly afterwards, I found it had been vomited in the utensil. I
 did not observe a jug of toast-and-water in the bedroom; but a jug
 that did not belong to the bedroom was sent down at night, for me to
 make some fresh toast-and-water in it. The prisoner was in deceased’s
 bedroom four or five times on this day, and I heard him tell Cook
 that he would send him over some soup. I afterwards saw some broth
 in the kitchen, which I knew had not been made in the Talbot Arms;
 and the waitress took this broth to the deceased’s bedroom. I saw the
 prisoner after this, and he asked me if Mr. Cook had had his broth;
 and the waitress said she had taken it to him, but he refused to take
 it, and said that it would not stay on his stomach. The prisoner then
 told me to fetch the broth, as Mr. Cook must have it, and I did so,
 and left it in deceased’s bedroom, and shortly afterwards I saw that
 it had been vomited. The same evening some barley water was made for
 the deceased, and also some arrowroot, but I cannot say whether they
 remained on his stomach or not. Mr. Bamford, the doctor, was called
 in after this. On the Sunday after the deceased came to the Talbot
 Arms, I saw him in his bedroom about eight o’clock in the morning,
 and he said he had slept well since twelve o’clock, and he felt
 pretty comfortable. A large breakfast cup of broth was brought from
 the prisoner’s house between twelve and one o’clock on the Sunday,
 and I took it up to the deceased’s bedroom. I tasted the broth, and
 very soon afterwards I was sick. I drunk about two tablespoonfuls. I
 vomited violently all the afternoon, and was obliged to go to bed. I
 was quite well up to the time of my drinking the broth. I saw the
 deceased on Sunday evening, and he seemed in good spirits, and not to
 be any worse. I saw the deceased on the Monday morning between seven
 and eight o’clock, when I took him a cup of coffee for his breakfast.
 He did not vomit the coffee. Palmer had seen him before this, but he
 did not come again until ten o’clock at night. The deceased got up
 about one o’clock, and he shaved and dressed himself, and appeared a
 great deal better, but said that he was exceedingly weak. Ashmall,
 the jockey, came to see him on the Monday, and also Mr. Saunders, the
 trainer. Soon after one o’clock, the deceased took some arrowroot, and
 it remained on his stomach. The deceased went to bed at four o’clock,
 and between nine and ten the prisoner went into his room, and I left
 him there. Some pills were sent by Dr. Bamford for the deceased, about
 eight o’clock, and I took them into his room, and placed them on the
 dressing-table, and they were there when the prisoner went into the
 room. I went to bed between ten and eleven, and I was called up about
 twelve. I then heard violent screams from the deceased’s bedroom, and
 upon entering it _I saw the deceased sitting up in bed, and he desired
 me to fetch the prisoner directly. I told him he had been sent for,
 and I then walked to the bedside and found one of the pillows was
 upon the floor. I picked it up and asked Mr. Cook if he would lay his
 head down. At this time he was beating the bedclothes apparently in
 great agony, and he told me he could not lie down, and he should be
 suffocated if he did; and he then, in a loud tone, asked me again to
 send for Mr. Palmer. There was a sort of jumping or jerking about his
 head and neck and body all this time, and his breathing was very much
 affected. He screamed three or four times while I was in the room, and
 twice he called out, ‘Murder.’ He asked me to rub one of his hands,
 and I found it quite stiff. It was the left hand. The fingers were
 all stretched out and there was no motion in them, and they twitched
 while I was rubbing the hand._ Palmer came into the room while this
 was going on, and the deceased recognized him, and said, ‘Oh, Palmer,’
 or ‘Oh, doctor, I shall die.’ The prisoner replied, ‘Oh, my lad,
 you won’t;’ and after remaining a minute or two in the room he told
 me to stay there, and went out. He returned in a very few minutes,
 and he then produced some pills, and he gave the deceased a draught
 in a wine-glass, after he had given him the pills. Cook said that
 the pills stuck in his throat, and the prisoner told me to give him
 some toast-and-water, and I did so in a teaspoon. _His head and body
 continued jerking, and he seized the spoon fast between his teeth and
 seemed to bite it very hard._ The deceased shortly after swallowed
 the toast-and-water and the pills, and the prisoner then handed him
 the draught. It had a thick heavy appearance. The deceased snapped
 at the glass in the same way he did at the spoon, and he appeared
 unable to control himself. _As soon as he had swallowed the draught,
 he vomited it immediately, and it appeared to me to smell like opium._
 The prisoner then made the remark that he hoped the pills had stayed,
 and he searched the utensil in which the deceased had vomited with a
 quill, and said that he could not find them; and he told me to take
 the utensil away and empty it carefully, and I did so, but could not
 see any trace of the pills. After this the deceased seemed a little
 more easy. _The attack lasted altogether about half an hour, and
 during the whole of the time he was quite conscious._ When he was
 composed he asked the prisoner to feel how his heart beat; and Palmer
 went to his bedside, and put his hand either to his heart, or the
 side of his face, and he said it was all right. I left the deceased
 about three o’clock in the morning, and at this time the prisoner
 was sitting in the easy chair, and I believe he was asleep. About
 six o’clock the same morning I saw the deceased again, and he told
 me that Mr. Palmer had left him about a quarter past five o’clock.
 _I asked him how he was, and he replied that he was no worse; and he
 then asked me if I had ever seen any one in such agony as he was the
 night before, and I told him I never had. He then said he was sure I
 should never like to see anyone in such agony again, and I inquired
 what he thought was the cause. He replied that it was through some
 pills that Palmer had given him about half-past ten. The deceased was
 quite composed and quiet at this time, and there was no jerking or
 convulsion about him, but his eyes looked very wild._ About twelve
 o’clock the deceased desired me to send the Boots over to Mr. Palmer
 to know whether he might have a cup of coffee. A message was brought
 back that he might, and Mr. Palmer would be over immediately. When I
 took up the coffee the prisoner was in the room, and I gave him the
 coffee, and he tasted it to see that it was not too strong. Mr. Jones
 came to the inn about three o’clock, and I saw him in the deceased’s
 room, and the prisoner after this told me that Cook had vomited the
 coffee. _I saw Cook several times after this, and he appeared in very
 good spirits, and talked about getting up the next morning, and wished
 the barber to be sent for to shave him._ I did not see the deceased
 later than half-past ten o’clock on the Tuesday night, and the
 prisoner was then in his bedroom, and I gave him some toast-and-water
 for the deceased, and the prisoner said he did not want anything more.
 I sat up in the kitchen on purpose to see how Mr. Cook went on, and I
 heard the bell of his room ring violently about ten minutes before
 twelve, and went up immediately. _I found the deceased sitting up, and
 Mr. Jones had his arm round his shoulders, apparently supporting him._
 The deceased when he saw me, told me to fetch Palmer directly. I went
 over to his house, and rang the surgery bell, and the prisoner came to
 the window almost in an instant, and opened a small casement, and I
 told him to come over to Mr. Cook, as he was in much the same state as
 he was the night before. He made some reply, and I returned at once to
 the ‘Talbot Arms,’ and in a minute or two the prisoner came into Mr.
 Cook’s room. The first thing he said was that he did not think he had
 ever dressed so quickly before in his life. At this time Mr. Jones was
 supporting the deceased. I went out into the landing about a minute
 or two, and the prisoner came out, and I observed to him that Mr.
 Cook appeared in the same state as the night before, and he replied,
 ‘Not so ill by a fiftieth part.’ He then went to his own house, and
 returned in a very short time to the deceased’s bedroom. _I then heard
 the deceased ask to be turned on his right side_, and I then shortly
 after heard that he was dead.”

The _cross-examination of Elizabeth Mills_ was mainly directed to three
points—(1.) The fact of Mr. Cook complaining of sore throat, but not
of difficulty in swallowing, in May, 1855, when the witness said all
that he did was to use a gargle sent by Dr. Bamford. (2.) Her omission
to tell the coroner that the broth had made her sick; that Cook had
said he became ill on taking the pills sent by Palmer; that he beat
the bedclothes, called “Murder!” and “twitched” when she rubbed his
hands. These omissions the witness accounted for by the fact that the
coroner did not ask her to detail all the symptoms she saw, but merely
required her to answer such questions as he put. On her depositions
being read, the Attorney-General proposed to call evidence to prove the
negligence and misconduct of the coroner, but the court ruled that it
was inadmissible.[33] (3.) That the witness had had several interviews
with Cook’s stepfather, Stevens, his attorney, and the chief constable,
before giving evidence—the defence imputing that they had instructed
her in the symptoms. She denied, however, any such conduct on their
part. She had heard of Dove’s case, but not read it, and Mr. Stevens
had never given her any money. An attempt to injure her moral character
in reference to a man of the name of Dutton entirely failed, and her
evidence remained substantially uncontradicted.

_Lavinia Barnes_, the waitress at the “Talbot Arms,” remembered Cook
coming there on Monday, the 12th, on his way to the races, and not
complaining of illness, and she saw him when he returned on Thursday,
the 15th, and after he came from dining at Palmer’s, on the Friday
evening, when he spoke to her, and was sober.

 “On the Saturday,” continued this witness, “I saw him twice. Some
 broth was sent over and taken up to him by me. He could not take it;
 he was too sick. I carried it down, and put it in the kitchen. I
 afterwards saw Palmer, and told him Cook was too sick to take it; he
 said he must have it. Elizabeth Mills afterwards took it up again.
 Mills was taken ill with violent vomiting on the Sunday between twelve
 and one o’clock. She went to bed, and did not come downstairs till
 four or five o’clock. I saw some broth that day in the kitchen; it was
 in a sick cup, with two handles, not belonging to the house. I did
 not see it brought; it was taken back to Palmer’s. On Monday morning
 (19th) I saw Palmer, and he told Mills he was going to London. I saw
 Cook during that day. Saunders came to see him, and took him up some
 brandy-and-water. I slept that night in the next room to Cook’s.
 Palmer came between eight and nine in the evening, but I did not
 see if he went up to Cook’s room. (_According to Mills, Palmer had
 seen Cook in the morning, and saw him again at ten at night._) About
 twelve o’clock I was in the kitchen, when Cook’s bell rang violently.
 I went upstairs. Cook was very ill, and asked me to send for Palmer.
 _He screamed out ‘’Murder!’ He exclaimed that he was in violent
 pain—that he was suffocating. His eyes were wild-looking, standing
 a great way out of his head. He was beating his bed with his arms.
 He cried out, ‘Christ, have mercy on my soul!’ I never saw a person
 in such a state._ Having called up Mills, I left to send ‘Boots’ for
 Palmer, who came, and I again went into Cook’s room. _Cook was then
 more composed. He said, ‘Oh, doctor, I shall die!’ Palmer replied,
 ‘Don’t be alarmed, my lad._’ I saw Cook drink a dark mixture out of a
 glass, but do not know who gave it him. I both heard and saw him snap
 at the glass. He brought up the draught. I left him between twelve
 and one, when he was more composed. On Tuesday he seemed a little
 better. At night, a little before twelve, the bell rang again. I was
 in the kitchen. Mills went upstairs, and I followed her, and _heard
 Cook screaming_, but did not go into the room. I stood outside the
 door, and saw Palmer come. He had been fetched. I said, as he passed
 me, ‘Mr. Cook is ill again.’ He said, ‘Oh, is he?’ and went into the
 room. He was dressed in his usual manner, and wore a black coat and
 a cap.[34] She also heard him make the observation to Mills before
 reported. She went to the room, but came out before Cook died.”


In consequence of his severe illness, the following deposition of _Dr.
Bamford_ (an aged local practitioner) before the coroner was read:—

 “I attended the late Mr. Cook, at the request of William Palmer, and
 first saw him about three o’clock on Saturday, the 17th of November,
 _when he was suffering from violent vomiting, the stomach being in
 that irritable state, that it would not contain a teaspoonful of milk.
 There was perfect moisture of the skin, and he was quite sensible._ I
 prescribed medicine for him; and Mr. Palmer went up to my house and
 waited until I had made it up, and then took it away. I prescribed a
 saline draught, to be taken in an effervescing state. Between seven
 and eight in the evening Mr. Palmer again requested me to visit Mr.
 Cook. _The sickness still continued, everything he took being ejected
 from his stomach._ I gave him two small pills as an opiate. Palmer
 took the pills from my house. I did not accompany, nor do I know
 what became of the pills. On the following morning (Sunday) Palmer
 again called, and asked me to accompany him. _Mr. Cook’s sickness
 still continued._ I remained about ten minutes. _Everything he took
 that morning was ejected from his stomach. Everything he threw up
 was as clear as water, except some coffee that he had taken._ Palmer
 had administered some pills before I saw Mr. Cook on Saturday, which
 had purged him several times. Between six and seven in the evening
 I again visited the deceased, accompanied by Palmer. _The sickness
 still continued._ I went on Monday morning between eight and nine,
 and changed his medicine. I sent him a draught, which relieved his
 sickness, and gave him ease. I did not see him again until Tuesday
 night, when Palmer called for me. _I examined Mr. Cook, in the
 presence of Mr. Jones and Mr. Palmer, and I observed a change in
 him. He was irritable and troubled in his mind. His pulse was firm,
 but tremulous, and between 80° and 90°. He threw himself down on the
 bed, and turned his face away. He said he would have no more pills,
 nor take any medicine._ After they had left the room, Palmer asked
 me to make two more pills, similar to those on the previous night,
 which I did, and he then asked me to write the directions on a slip
 of paper, and I gave the pills to Palmer. The effervescing mixture
 contained 20 grains of carbonate of potash, 2 drachms of compound
 tincture of cardamine, and 2 drachms of simple syrup, together with
 15 grains of tartaric acid for each powder. _I never gave Mr. Cook a
 grain of antimony._ I did not see the preparations after they were
 taken away. _His skin was moist, and there was not the least fever
 about him._ I considered death to have been the result of congestion
 of the brain, when the _post-mortem_ examination was made, and I
 do not see any reason to alter that opinion. Palmer said he was of
 the same opinion with respect to the death of the deceased. I never
 knew apoplexy produce rigidity of the limbs. Drowsiness is a prelude
 to apoplexy. _I attribute the sickness on the first two days to a
 disordered stomach._” When called in the sixth day of the trial,
 after his recovery, the witness said—speaking of the last visit to
 Mr. Cook—“Having seen Cook, I left the room with Jones and Palmer:
 the latter said he rather wished Cook to have his pills again (I had
 prepared the same pills on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday), and he would
 walk up with me for them. He did so, and stood by me in the surgery
 while I prepared them. I had strychnia in a cupboard in my private
 room. I put the pills in a box, and addressed it ‘Night pills, John
 Parsons Cook, Esq.’ I wrote that direction all four nights. On the
 Tuesday night Palmer requested me to put on a direction. After that I
 did not see Cook alive. It was, as near as could be, twenty minutes
 past twelve, at midnight, when I saw Cook dead. I understood he was
 alive when they came for me, and I could not have been more than five
 or ten minutes in going up. My house is about two hundred yards from
 Palmer. _I found the body stretched out, resting on the heels and
 the back of the head, as straight as possible, and stiff. The arms
 were extended down each side of the body, and the hands clenched._ I
 certified it was apoplexy.”

_Mr. William Henry Jones_, a surgeon at Lutterworth, and intimate
friend of Cook’s for the last five years, was written to by Palmer on
the Monday, the 19th, stating that “Cook was taken ill at Shrewsbury,
and obliged to call in a medical man;” that “_since then he had been
confined to his bed with a very serious bilious attack, combined with
diarrhœa_,” and that Palmer “thought it advisable that his friend
should come and see him.” Illness prevented this before about half-past
three in the afternoon of Tuesday, the day before Cook died.

 “On my arrival at Rugeley,” said the witness, “I went up to Cook’s
 room. He said he was very comfortable, but had been very ill at
 Shrewsbury. He did not detail the symptoms, but said he had had to
 call in a doctor. Palmer came in. I examined Cook in his presence.
 _He had a natural pulse. I looked at his tongue; it was clean. I
 said it was hardly the tongue of a bilious, diarrhœa attack. Palmer
 replied, ‘You should have seen it before.’_ I did not then prescribe
 for Cook. In the course of the afternoon I visited him several times.
 _He changed for the better. His spirits and pulse both improved. I
 gave him, at his request, some toast and water, and he vomited. There
 was no diarrhœa._ The toast and water was in the room. Mr. Bamford
 came in the evening, about 7 o’clock, and expressed his opinion that
 Cook was going on very satisfactorily. We were talking about what he
 was to have, and Cook objected to the pills of the previous night.
 Palmer was there all the time. Cook said the pills made him ill. I do
 not remember to whom he addressed this observation. We three (Palmer,
 Bamford, and myself) went out upon the landing. Palmer proposed that
 Mr. Bamford should make up some morphine pills as before, at the
 same time requesting me not to mention to Cook what they contained,
 as he objected to the morphine so much. Mr. Bamford agreed to this,
 and he went away. I went back to Cook’s room, and Palmer went with
 me. During the evening I was several times in Cook’s room. He seemed
 very comfortable all the evening. _There was no more vomiting nor any
 diarrhœa, but there was a natural motion in the bowels. I observed no
 bilious symptoms about Cook._”

 By _Lord Campbell_.—“_Did he appear to have recently suffered from a
 bilious attack?_”


 _Examination resumed._—“Palmer and I went to his house about eight
 o’clock. I remained there about half-an-hour, and then returned to
 Cook. I next saw Palmer in Cook’s room at nearly eleven o’clock. He
 had brought with him a box of pills. He opened the paper on which
 the direction was written in my presence. That paper was round the
 box. He called my attention to the paper, saying, ‘What an excellent
 handwriting for an old man!’ I did not read the direction, but looked
 at the writing, which was very good. Palmer proposed to Cook that he
 should take the pills. Cook protested very much against it, because
 they had made him so ill on the previous night. Palmer repeated the
 request several times, and at last Cook complied with it, and took the
 pills. _The moment he took them he vomited into the utensil._ Palmer
 and myself (at Palmer’s request) searched in it for the pills, to see
 whether they were returned. We found nothing but toast-and-water. I do
 not know when Cook had drunk the toast-and-water, but it was standing
 by the bedside all the evening. _The vomiting could not have been
 caused by the contents of the pills, nor by the act of swallowing.
 After vomiting Cook laid down and appeared quiet. Before Palmer came
 Cook had got up and sat in a chair. His spirits were very good; he
 was laughing and joking, talking of what he should do with himself
 during the winter._ After he had taken the pills I went downstairs
 to my supper, and returned to his room at nearly twelve o’clock. His
 room was double-bedded, and it had been arranged that I should sleep
 in it that night. I talked to Cook for a few minutes, and then went
 to bed. When I last talked to him he was rather sleepy, but quite as
 well as he had been during the evening. There was nothing about him
 to excite any apprehensions. I had been in bed about ten minutes, and
 had not got to sleep, when he suddenly started up in bed, and called
 out, ‘Doctor, get up, I am going to be ill! Ring the bell and send
 for Palmer.’ I rang the bell. The chambermaid came, and Cook called
 out to her, ‘Fetch Mr. Palmer.’ He asked me to give him something.
 I declined, and said, ‘Palmer will be here directly.’ Cook was then
 sitting up in bed. _The room was rather dark, and I did not observe
 anything particular in his countenance. He asked me to rub the back of
 his neck. I did so. I supported him with my arm. There was a stiffness
 about the muscles of his neck._ Palmer soon came in; two or three
 minutes at the utmost after the chambermaid went for him. He said,
 ‘I never dressed so quickly in my life.’ I did not observe how he
 was dressed. _He gave Cook two pills, which he told me were ammonia
 pills. Cook swallowed them. Directly he did so he uttered loud
 screams, threw himself back in the bed, and was dreadfully convulsed.
 That could not have been the result of the pills last taken. He said,
 ‘Raise me up; I shall be suffocated.’ That was at the commencement of
 the convulsions, which lasted five or ten minutes. The convulsions
 affected every muscle of the body, and were accompanied by stiffening
 of the limbs. I endeavoured to raise Cook with the assistance of
 Palmer, but found it quite impossible, owing to the rigidity of the
 limbs. When Cook found we could not raise him up, he asked to be
 turned over. He was then quite sensible. I turned him on his side._ I
 listened to the action of the heart. I found it gradually weakened,
 and asked Palmer to fetch some spirits of ammonia, to be used as a
 stimulant. He went to his house and fetched a bottle. He was away a
 very short time. When he returned the pulsations of the heart were
 gradually ceasing, and life was almost extinct. He died very quietly a
 short time afterwards.

 “_From the time he called to me to the time of his death there elapsed
 about ten minutes or a quarter of an hour. He died of tetanus_, which
 is a spasmodic affection of the muscles of the whole body. It causes
 death by stopping the action of the heart. The sense of suffocation is
 caused by the contraction of the respiratory muscles. The room was so
 dark that I could not observe the outward appearance of Cook’s body
 after death. _When he threw himself back in bed he clenched his teeth,
 and they remained clenched after his death. When I was rubbing his
 neck, his head and neck were unnaturally bent back by the spasmodic
 action of the muscles. After his death his body was so twisted or
 bowed that if I had placed it upon the back it would have rested on
 the head and feet._”

 By _Lord Campbell_.—“_When did you first observe the bowing and

 _Witness._—“_When Cook threw himself back on the bed. The jaw was
 affected by the spasmodic action._”

The _cross-examination_ of this witness was directed to the previous
health of the deceased, and to his fears that he was still suffering
from a former attack of venereal disease, which Mr. Jones decidedly
negatived; to his having been in pecuniary difficulties from his racing
ventures, which the witness said he was steadily redeeming; to Cook’s
objection to take morphia; to the question whether, when before the
coroner, the witness had used the word “tetanus,” which it was evident
from the original depositions had been scratched out by the clerk,
probably from ignorance of its meaning, and to whether he agreed with
Dr. Bamford that Cook had died in an apoplectic fit, or rather, as
the witness at the time thought, of one of an epileptic character. In
_re-examination_, he said that “_he was satisfied that Cook’s death
did not arise from epilepsy, as in that disease consciousness is lost,
but there is no rigidity or convulsive spasm of the muscles, and the
symptoms quite different. He was equally certain that it did not arise
from apoplexy._” _Dr. Savage_, of Gloucester Place, London, who had
attended Cook for four years, also negatived the suggestion that he was
suffering from syphilitic symptoms, or that he had any venereal taint
about him. He was timid, no doubt, about his throat, and had had two
small ulcers on his tongue due to two bad teeth, but by the end of May
they had gradually disappeared, and were quite well.

The woman who laid out the body noticed that “_though it was quite
warm, the hands and arms were cold; the body lying on the back,
straight down the bed,[35] the arms crossed upon the chest, and the
head ‘lying a little turned on one side.’” She had never seen so stiff
a corpse before. “We,” she continued, “had difficulty in straightening
the arms. We could not keep them straight down to the body. I passed
a piece of tape under the back, and tied it round the wrists, to
fasten the arms down. The right foot turned on one side outwards. We
were obliged to tie both feet together. The eyes were open. We were
a considerable time before we could close them, because the eyelids
were so stiff. The hands were closed, and were very stiff. I have
never known them so stiff as in this case._” _Mr. Stevens_, Cook’s
stepfather, who saw the body three days after death, also noted that
the right hand was clenched, and, as he looked across the body, that
the left was clenched in the same way.

What passed between _Mr. Stevens_ and Palmer at their interview at
Rugeley on the Friday after Cook’s death, and the reasons why he
eventually insisted on a _post-mortem_ examination and a chemical
analysis of the corpse, belong rather to the section relating to the
conduct of the prisoner. It will be sufficient here to note that on
the 26th of November the _post-mortem_ examination was held with
the following results by Dr. Harland, of Stafford, assisted by Mr.
Devonshire, of the London University, and Mr. Newton, of Rugeley, in
the presence of Dr. Bamford, Palmer, and several other persons.


_Dr. John Thomas Harland_, physician, of Stafford, arrived at Rugeley
at ten in the morning of the 26th, called at Dr. Bamford’s on his
way to the hotel where the examination was to be conducted, and on
his road met Palmer, whom he had previously known. “I am glad,” said
Palmer, “that you are come to make a _post-mortem_ examination. Someone
might have been sent whom I did not know.” “What is the case?” replied
Harland; “I hear there is a suspicion of poisoning.” “Oh no,” said
Palmer; “_he had an epileptic fit on Monday and Tuesday last, and
you will find old disease in the heart and head_.” Such was not the
result of the _post-mortem_. They “found the body much stiffer than
bodies usually are five or six days after death—the muscles strongly
contracted and thrown out, and the hands stiff and firmly closed.”
According to a report which Dr. Harland sent to Mr. Stevens, and which
at the suggestion of the judge was read in full, the various internal
organs were perfectly healthy and natural, as described in detail in
the following examination, subsequent to reading the report:—

 “The abdominal viscera were in a perfectly healthy state. They were
 taken out of the body. We examined the liver. It was healthy. The
 lungs were healthy, but contained a good deal of blood; not more than
 would be accounted for by gravitation after death. We examined the
 head. The brain was quite healthy. There was no extravasation of
 blood, and no serum. There was nothing which, in my judgment, could
 cause pressure. The heart was contracted, and contained no blood.
 That was the result, not of disease, but of spasmodic action. At the
 larger end of the stomach there were numerous small yellowish-white
 spots, about the size of mustard seeds. They would not at all account
 for death. I doubt whether they would have any effect upon the health.
 I think they were mucous follicles. The kidneys were full of blood
 which had gravitated there. They had no appearance of disease. The
 blood was in a fluid state. That was not usual. It is found so in some
 cases of sudden death, which are of rare occurrence. The lower part of
 the spinal cord was not very closely examined. We examined the upper
 part of that cord. It presented a perfectly natural appearance. On
 a subsequent day, I think the 25th of January, it was thought right
 to exhume the body, that the spinal cord might be more carefully
 examined. I was present at that examination. The lower part of the
 spinal cord was then minutely examined. A report was made of that

 This report was put in, and was read by the witness. It described
 minutely the appearance and condition of the spinal cord and its
 envelopes, and concluded with this statement:—“There is nothing in
 the condition of the spinal cord or its envelopes to account for
 death; nothing but the most normal and healthy state, allowance being
 made for the lapse of time since the death of the deceased.”

 _Examination resumed._—“I am still of opinion that there was nothing
 in the appearance of the spine to account for the death of the
 deceased, and nothing of an unusual kind which might not be referred
 to changes after death. When the stomach and intestines were removed
 from the body on the occasion of the first examination they were
 separately emptied into a jar, and were afterwards placed in it.
 Mr. Devonshire and Mr. Newton removed them from the body. They were
 the only two who operated. At the time the prisoner was standing
 on the right of Mr. Newton. While Mr. Devonshire was opening the
 stomach a push was given by Palmer, which sent Mr. Newton against Mr.
 Devonshire, and shook some of the contents of the stomach into the
 body. I thought a joke was passing among them, and said, ‘Don’t do

 By _Lord Campbell_.—“Might not Palmer have been impelled by some one
 outside him?”

 _Answer._—“There was no one who could have impelled him.”

 _Question._—“What did you observe Palmer do?”

 _Answer._—“I saw Mr. Newton and Mr. Devonshire pushed together, and
 Palmer was over them. He was smiling at the time.”

 _Examination continued._—“After this interruption the opening of
 the stomach was pursued. The stomach contained about three ounces
 of a brownish fluid. There was nothing particular in that. Palmer
 was looking on, and said, ‘They won’t hang us yet.’ He said that to
 Mr. Bamford in a loud whisper. That remark was made upon his own
 observation of the stomach. The stomach after being emptied, was
 put into the jar. The intestines were then examined, but nothing
 particular was found in them. They were contracted and very small.
 The viscera, with their contents, as taken from the body, were placed
 in the jar, which was then covered over with two bladders, which were
 tied and sealed. I tied and sealed them. After I had done so I placed
 the jar upon the table by the body. Palmer was then moving about the
 room. In a few minutes I missed the jar from where I had placed it.
 During that time my attention had been withdrawn by the examination.
 On missing the jar I called out, ‘Where’s the jar?’ and Palmer from
 the other end of the room, said, ‘It is here; I thought it would be
 more convenient for you to take away.’ There was a door at the end of
 the room where he was. He was within a yard or two of that door, and
 about twenty-four feet from the table on which the body was lying.”
 (Before making this last statement the witness referred to a plan of
 the room which was put in by the Attorney-General.) “The other door
 near which Palmer was standing was not the one by which he entered
 the room. I called to Palmer, ‘Will you bring it here?’ I went from
 the table and met Palmer half-way coming with the jar. _Since I last
 saw it it had been cut through both bladders. The cut was hardly an
 inch long, done with a sharp instrument._ I examined the jar. The
 edges were quite clean; no part of the contents could have passed
 through it. Finding this cut, I said, ‘Here is a cut! who has done
 it?’ Palmer, Devonshire, and Newton, all said they had not done it,
 and nothing more was said. When I was about to remove the jar from the
 room, the prisoner asked me what I was going to do with it. I said I
 should take it to Mr. Frere’s (a neighbouring surgeon). He said, ‘I
 would rather you would take it to Stafford than take it there.’ I made
 no answer that I remember. On finding the slit, I cut the strings,
 and altered the bladder, so that the slits were not over the top. I
 took it to Mr. Frere’s, and left it in his hall, tied and sealed.
 Afterwards when I went for my carriage, whilst waiting in the yard,
 the prisoner came and asked me what would be done with it, and I
 said, ‘Sent either to Birmingham or London for examination.’ When I
 recovered the jar, I tied each corner separately and resealed it with
 my own seal. During the first _post-mortem_ examination, there were
 several Rugeley persons present, but, I believe, no one on behalf of
 the prisoner. At the second examination there was some one on behalf
 of Palmer (_Mr. Pemberton_ and _Mr. Bolton_).”

On _cross-examination_, after stating that Palmer’s words, “they
won’t hang us yet,” were addressed to Bamford in a loud whisper, and
afterwards repeated to several persons, and that his original notes in
pencil were destroyed, a more formal report being written by him on
getting home, _Dr. Harland_ said—

 “At the base of the tongue of the deceased I observed some enlarged
 mucous follicles; they were not pustules containing matter, but
 enlarged mucous follicles of long standing. There were a good
 many of them, but I do not suppose that they would occasion much
 inconvenience. They might cause some degree of pain, but it would
 be slight. I do not believe they were enlarged glands. I should not
 say that the deceased’s lungs were diseased, although they were not
 in their normal state. The lungs were full of blood and the heart
 empty. I had no lens at the _post-mortem_ examination, but I made
 an examination which was satisfactory without one. The brain was
 carefully taken out; the membranes and external parts were first
 examined, and thin slices about a quarter of an inch in thickness
 were taken off and subjected to separate examination. I think that by
 that means we should have discovered disease if any had existed; and
 if there had been any indication of disease I should have examined it
 more carefully. _I examined the spinal cord as far down as possible,
 and if there had been any appearance of disease, I should have opened
 the canal. There was no appearance of disease, however. We opened
 down to the first vertebra. If we had found a softening of the spinal
 cord, I do not think that it would have been sufficient to have caused
 Mr. Cook’s death; certainly not. A softening of the spinal cord would
 not produce tetanus; it might produce paralysis. I do not think, as a
 medical man investigating the cause of death, that it was necessary
 carefully to examine the spinal cord. I do not know who suggested that
 there should be an examination of the spinal cord two months after
 death. There were some appearances of decomposition when we examined
 the spinal cord, but I do not think that there was sufficient to
 interfere with our examination._[36] I examined the body to ascertain
 if there was any trace of venereal disease. I did find certain
 indications of that description, and the marks of an old excoriation,
 which was cicatrized over.”

 _Re-examined by the Attorney-General._—“There were no indications
 of wounds or sores such as could by possibility produce tetanus.
 There was no disease of the lungs to account for death. The heart
 was healthy, and its emptiness I attribute to spasmodic action. The
 heart being empty, of course death ensued. The convulsive spasmodic
 action of the muscles of the body, which was deposed to yesterday by
 Mr. Jones, would, in my judgment occasion the emptiness of the heart.
 There was nothing whatever in the brain to indicate the presence of
 any disease of any sort; but if there had been, I never heard or read
 of any disease of the brain ever producing tetanus. _There was no
 relaxation of the spinal cord which would account for the symptoms
 accompanying Mr. Cook’s death as they have been described. In fact,
 there was no relaxation of the spinal cord at all, and there is no
 disease of the spinal cord with which I am acquainted which would
 produce tetanus._”

_Dr. Monckton_, a physician at Rugeley, made a separate examination
of the spinal marrow of the deceased on the 28th of January, when he
said that the body was in such a condition as to enable him to do
so satisfactorily, and when had there been any disease of a normal
character on the spine he should have had no difficulty in discovering
it. All that he found were certain granules, the origin of which it
was difficult to account for, though frequently found in persons of
an advanced age, but which he never knew to occasion sudden death. He
agreed entirely with the evidence of Dr. Harland.[37]


We come next to a remarkable body of evidence given by men of such
eminence in their profession as Mr. Curling, Dr. Todd, Sir Benjamin
Brodie, and others of nearly equal mark, negativing the idea that had
been suggested in the previous cross-examinations that the death was
due to one of the two forms of true _tetanus_, and affirming that the
symptoms which had been detailed were those of the action of strychnia.
Not only were these opinions closely questioned in cross-examination,
but as many medical men, several of them of not less eminence
than these witnesses, were subsequently called for the defence to
contradict them; and thus the most extraordinary conflict of scientific
evidence raised that had hitherto been witnessed in a criminal court.
Subsequently, as we shall see, a similar dispute between the medical
giants of the day was roused in the case of Dr. Smethurst, but with, in
the end, a very different result. In reading the following statements
for the prosecution, it will help to make them more clear, if it is
borne in mind that _tetanus_ is of two kinds—(1), _Idiopathic_, or
self-generated, and the other (2), _Traumatic_, the result of a wound
or a sore; that the former may arise from exposure to cold or damp,
or even from the irritation of worms in the alimentary canal, but
in temperate climates is by no means a frequent disease; whilst the
latter, from the various accidents to which human beings are liable, is
of more frequent occurrence. Another point to be remembered is, that it
is a moot point in medical practice whether a syphilitic sore, unless
of course of a most aggravated character, will produce _tetanus_, and
that the difference between the symptoms and progress of _true tetanus_
and of that due to poison is, in the opinion of these experts, very
marked. _Dr. James Blizard Curling_, surgeon to the London Hospital,
was first called, and after describing the two kinds of _tetanus_
and their causes, and speaking of the very numerous cases of the
“traumatic” kind which he had seen, he thus detailed the symptoms:—

 “The disease first manifests itself about the jaws and neck. Rigidity
 of the muscles of the abdomen afterwards sets in. A dragging pain
 at the pit of the stomach is almost a constant attendant. In many
 instances the muscles of the back are extensively affected. These
 symptoms, though continuous, are liable to aggravations into
 paroxysms. As the disease goes on these paroxysms become more frequent
 and more severe. When they occur the body is drawn backwards; in some
 instances, though less frequent, it is bent forward. A difficulty
 in swallowing is a very common symptom, and also a difficulty of
 breathing during the paroxysms. The disease may, if fatal, end in
 two ways. The patient may die somewhat suddenly, from suffocation,
 owing to the closure of the opening of the windpipe; or he may be
 worn out by the severe and painful spasms, the muscles may relax,
 and the patient gradually sink. The disease is generally fatal. _The
 locking of the jaw is an almost constant symptom attending ‘traumatic
 tetanus;’ I may say a constant symptom. It is not always marked,
 but generally so. It is an early symptom._ Another symptom is a
 peculiar expression of countenance. I believe this is not peculiar
 to ‘_traumatic tetanus_,’ but my observation is from such cases.
 There is a contraction of the eyelids, a raising of the angles of the
 mouth, and contraction of the brow. In ‘_traumatic tetanus_’ the lower
 extremities are sometimes affected, and sometimes, but rarely, the
 upper ones. When the muscles of the extremities are affected, the time
 at which that occurs varies. If there is no wound in the arms or legs,
 the extremities are generally not affected until late in the progress
 of the disease. _I never knew of tetanus being produced by a sore
 throat or a chancre. In my opinion a syphilitic sore would not produce
 tetanus. I know of no instance in which one has led to tetanus. I
 think it a very unlikely cause._ The time within which ‘_traumatic
 tetanus_’ causes death varies from twenty-four hours to two or three
 days or longer. The shortest time to my knowledge was eight to ten
 hours. _When once commenced, the disease is continuous._”

 _Question._—“Did you ever hear of a case in which a man was attacked
 one day, had twenty-four hours’ respite, and was then attacked the
 next day?”

 _Witness._—“Never. Such a case could not occur.”

 _Question._—“You have heard Mr. Jones’s account of the death of
 the deceased. _Were the symptoms there consistent with any forms of
 traumatic tetanus?_”


 _Question._—“_What distinguishes it from such causes?_”

 _Witness._—“_The sudden onset of the disease._ In all cases that
 have come under my observation the disease was preceded by the
 milder symptoms of _tetanus_, gradually proceeding to the complete

 _Question._—“_Were the symptoms described by Mills those of tetanus?_”

 _Witness._—“_No. Not of tetanus of disease._”

 _Question._—“Assuming tetanus to be synonymous with convulsive or
 spasmodic action of the muscles, was there, in that sense, _tetanus_
 on Monday night?”

 _Witness._—“No doubt there was spasmodic action of the muscles, but
 not _idiopathic_ or _traumatic tetanus_, because the sudden onset of
 the spasms, and their rapid subsidence, are consistent with neither of
 the two forms of _tetanus_.”

 _Question._—“Is there not _hysteric tetanus_?”

 _Witness._—“Yes: it is rather _hysteria_ combined with spasms, but
 it is sometimes called _hysteric tetanus_. I have known no instance
 of its proving fatal, or of it occurring to a man. Some poisons will
 produce _tetanus_. Nux vomica, acting through its poisons, strychnia
 and brucia, poisons of a cognate character, produce that effect. I
 never saw human or animal life destroyed by strychnia.”

In his _cross-examination_, Mr. Curling admitted that irritation of
the spinal cord, or of the nerves proceeding to it, might produce
_tetanus_, and the correctness of Dr. Watson’s statements in his
Lectures, that, in four cases out of five, the disease begins with
lockjaw, and that all the symptoms of tetanic convulsions may arise
from very trivial blows; but he denied that there was any well
authenticated instance of “_traumatic tetanus_” occurring within a
quarter of an hour after the reception of the injury, or that it was
very likely that the irritation of a syphilitic sore by wet, cold,
drink, mercury, or mental excitement, might lead to _tetanic_ symptoms.

 “The irritation,” said Mr. Curling, “which is likely to produce
 _tetanus_ is the sore being exposed to friction, to which syphilitic
 sores in the throat are not exposed. I should class _tetanus_ arising
 from the irritation of a sore as _traumatic_. Cases very rarely occur
 which it is difficult to class as either _traumatic_ or _idiopathic_.
 I should class _tetanus_ arising from irritation of the intestines as
 _idiopathic_. The character of the spasms of epilepsy are not tetanic.”

 _Serjeant Shee._—“Not of the spasms; but are not the contractions of
 epilepsy sometimes continuous, so that the body may be twisted into
 various forms, and remain rigidly in them?”

 _Answer._—“Not continuously.”

 _Question._—“For five or ten minutes together?”

 _Answer._—“I think not.”

 _Question._—“Does it not frequently happen that general convulsions,
 no cause or trace of which in the form of disease or lesion is to be
 found in the body after death, occur in the most violent and spastic
 way so as to exhibit appearances of tetanic convulsions?”

 _Answer._—“No instance of the kind has come under my observation.”[38]

 _Question._—“Do you agree with this opinion of Dr. Copland, expressed
 in his _Dictionary of Practical Medicine_, under the head of ‘General
 Convulsions,’ ‘The abnormal contraction of the muscles is in some
 cases of the most violent and spastic nature, and frequently of some
 continuance, the relaxations being of brief duration or scarcely
 observable, and in others nearly or altogether approaching to

 _Answer._—“I would rather speak from my own observation. I have not
 observed anything of the kind.”

 _Question._—“Does it not happen that a patient dies of convulsions,
 spasmodic in the sense of their being tumultuous and alternating, and
 chronic in the sense of exhibiting continuous rigidity, yet after
 death no disease is found?”

 _Answer._—“It does not often happen to adults.”

 _Question._—“Does it sometimes?”

 _Answer._—“I do not know, nor have I read of such a case. I have no
 hesitation in saying that people may die from _tetanus_ and other
 diseases without the appearance of morbid symptoms after death.”

 _Question._—“Are not convulsions, not, strictly speaking, tetanic,
 constantly preceded by retching, distention of the stomach, flatulence
 of the stomach and bowels, and other dyspeptic symptoms?”

 _Answer._—“Such cases do not come under my observation as a hospital
 surgeon. I think it is very probable that general convulsions are
 accompanied by yelling. I don’t know that they frequently terminate
 fatally, and that the proximate cause of death is spasm of the
 respiratory muscles, inducing asphyxia.”

 _Re-examined by the Attorney-General._—“These convulsions are easily
 distinguished from tetanus, because in them there is an entire loss of

 _Question._—“Is it one of the characteristic features of _tetanus_
 that the consciousness is not affected?”

 _Answer._—“It is.”

_Dr. Todd_, for twenty-one years physician to King’s College Hospital,
well known for his lectures on _Tetanus_ and the diseases of the
Nervous System, and who had seen only two cases of what appeared to him
to be _idiopathic tetanus_, so rare are they in this country, gave the
following evidence:[39]—

 “In my opinion the term _tetanus_ ought not to be applied to disease
 produced by poisons, but I should call the symptoms tetanic in order
 to distinguish the character of the convulsions. I have observed cases
 of _traumatic tetanus_. Except that in all such cases there is some
 lesion the symptoms are precisely the same as those of _idiopathic
 tetanus_. The disease begins with stiffness about the jaw. The
 symptoms gradually develope themselves and extend to the muscles of
 the trunk.”

 _Question._—“When the disease has begun is there any intermission?”

 _Answer._—“There are remissions, but they are not complete; only
 diminutions of the severity of the symptoms, not a total subsidence.
 The patient does not express himself as completely well, quite
 comfortable. I speak from my own experience.”

 _Question._—“What is the usual period that elapses between the
 commencement and the termination of the disease?”

 _Answer._—“The cases may be divided into two classes. Acute cases
 will terminate in three or four days, chronic cases will go on as
 long as from nineteen to twenty-two or twenty-three days, and perhaps
 longer. I do not think that I have known a case in which death
 occurred within four days. Cases are reported in which it occurred in
 a shorter period. In _tetanus_ the extremities are affected, but not
 so much as the trunk. Their affection is a late symptom. _The locking
 of the jaw is an early one._ Sometimes the convulsions of epilepsy
 assume somewhat of a tetanic character, but they are essentially
 distinct from tetanus. _In epilepsy the patient always loses
 consciousness._ Apoplexy never produces tetanic convulsions. Perhaps
 I may be allowed to say that when there is an effusion of blood upon
 the brain, and a particular portion of the brain is involved, the
 muscles may be thrown into short tetanic convulsions. In such a case
 the consciousness would be destroyed. Having heard described the
 symptoms attending the death of the deceased, and the _post-mortem_
 examination, _I am of opinion that in this case there was neither
 apoplexy nor epilepsy_.”

The deposition of Dr. Bamford, before reported, was here read, his
inability to attend from illness having been proved.

The _examination_ of Dr. Todd by the _Attorney-General_ was then
proceeded with as follows:—

 “Having heard the deposition of Dr. Bamford read, _I do not believe
 that the deceased died from apoplexy or from epilepsy. I never knew
 tetanus arise either from syphilitic sores or from sore throat._ There
 are poisons which will produce tetanic convulsions. The principal
 of these poisons are nux vomica and those which contain as their
 active ingredients strychnia and brucia. I have never seen human
 life destroyed by strychnia, but I have seen animals destroyed by it
 frequently. The poison is usually given in a largish dose in those
 cases, so as to put an end to the sufferings and destroy life as soon
 as possible. I should not like to give a human subject a quarter of a
 grain. I think that it is not unlikely that half a grain might destroy
 life; and I believe that a grain certainly would. I think that half
 a grain would kill a cat. The symptoms which would ensue upon the
 administration of strychnine when given in solution—and I believe
 that poisons of that nature act more rapidly in a state of solution
 than in any other form—would develope themselves in ten minutes
 after it was taken, if the dose was a large one; if not so large,
 they might be half an hour or an hour before they appeared. _Those
 symptoms would be tetanic convulsions of the muscles—more especially
 those of the spine and neck; the head and back would be bent back,
 and the trunk would be bowed in a marked manner; the extremities also
 would be stiffened and jerked out. The stiffness, once set in, would
 never entirely disappear; but fresh paroxysms would set in, and the
 jerking would reappear, and death would probably ensue in a quarter of
 an hour or so. The difference between tetanus produced by strychnia
 and other tetanus is very marked. In the former case the duration
 of the symptoms is very short, and instead of being continuous in
 their development, they will subside if the dose has not been strong
 enough to produce death, and will be renewed in fresh paroxysms:
 whereas in other descriptions of tetanus the symptoms commence in
 a mild form, and become stronger and more violent as the disease
 progresses._ The difficulty experienced in breathing is common alike
 to _tetanus_ properly so called, and to tetanic convulsions occasioned
 by strychnia, arising from the pressure on the respiratory muscles.
 I think it is remarkable that the deceased was able to swallow, and
 that there was no fixing of the jaw, which would have been the case
 with _tetanus_ proper, resulting either from a wound or from disease.
 _From all the evidence that I have heard, I think that the symptoms
 which presented themselves in the case of Mr. Cook arose from tetanus
 produced by strychnia._”

 _Cross-examined by Mr. Grove, Q.C._—“There are cases sloping
 into each other, as it were, of every grade and degree, from mild
 convulsions to tetanic spasms. I have published some lectures upon
 diseases of the brain, and I adhere to the opinion there expressed,
 that the state of a person suffering from _tetanus_ is identical with
 that which strychnia is capable of producing. _In a pathological
 point of view, an examination of the spinal cord shortly after death,
 in investigating supposed deaths from strychnia, is important. The
 signs of decomposition, however, could be easily distinguished from
 the evidence of disease which existed previously to death, but
 it would be difficult to distinguish in such a case whether mere
 softening resulted from decomposition or from pre-existing disease._
 There is nothing in the _post-mortem_ examination that leads me to
 think that the deceased died from _tetanus_ proper. _I think that
 granules upon the spinal cord, such as I have heard described, would
 not be likely to cause tetanus._ In animals to which strychnia has
 been administered I cannot say that I have observed what you call
 an intolerance of touch, but by touching them spasms are apt to be
 excited. That sensibility to touch continues as long as the operation
 of the poison continues. I have examined the interior of animals
 that have been killed by strychnia, but I have not observed in such
 cases that the right side of the heart was usually full of blood.
 It is some years since I made such an examination, but I am able,
 nevertheless, to speak positively as to the state of the heart. _It is
 usually empty on both sides._ I do not agree with Dr. Taylor, or other
 authorities, that, in cases of _tetanus_, animals died asphyxiated.
 If they did, we should invariably have the right side of the heart
 full of blood, which is not the case. I think the term asphyxiated is
 sometimes very loosely used. I know, from my reading, _that morphia
 sometimes produces convulsions, but believe they would be of an
 epileptic character. I think that the symptoms of morphia would be
 longer deferred in making their appearance than from strychnia_, but
 cannot speak positively on the point. Morphia, like strychnia, is a
 vegetable poison. I have not observed in animals the jaw fixed after
 the administration of strychnia.”

 _Re-examined by the Attorney-General._—“Whatever may be the true
 theory as to the emptiness of the heart after strychnia, I should say
 that the heart is more ordinarily empty than filled after _tetanus_,
 and more contracted after strychnia, than in ordinary _tetanus_. I do
 not believe that a medical practitioner would have any difficulty in
 distinguishing between ordinary convulsions and tetanic convulsions.
 I have heard the evidence of the gentlemen who made the _post-mortem_
 examination, and I apprehend that there was nothing to prevent the
 discovery of disease in the spinal cord had any existed previously to

_Sir Benjamin Brodie’s_ evidence, which follows, was given “with great
clearness, slowly, audibly, and distinctly,” and produced a marked

 _Sir Benjamin Brodie, examined by Mr. James, Q.C._—“I have been for
 many years senior surgeon to St. George’s Hospital, and have had
 considerable experience as a surgeon. In the course of my practice
 I have had under my care many cases of death from _tetanus_. Death
 from _idiopathic tetanus_ is, according to my experience, very
 rare in this country. The ordinary _tetanus_ in this country is
 _traumatic tetanus_. I have heard the symptoms which accompanied
 the death of Mr. Cook, and I am of opinion that so far as there
 was a general contraction of the muscles they resembled those of
 _traumatic tetanus_; but, as to the course those symptoms took,
 they were entirely different. I have attended to the detailed
 description of the attack suffered by Mr. Cook on the Monday night,
 its ceasing on Tuesday, and its renewal on the Tuesday night. The
 symptoms of _traumatic tetanus_ always begin, so far as I have seen,
 very gradually, the stiffness of the lower jaw being, I believe,
 invariably, the symptom first complained of—at least, so it has been
 in my experience. The contraction of the muscles of the back is always
 a later symptom—generally much later. The muscles of the extremities
 are affected in a much less degree than those of the neck and trunk,
 except in some cases where the injury has been in a limb, and an early
 symptom has been spasmodic contraction of the muscles of that limb. I
 do not myself recollect a case of ordinary _tetanus_ in which occurred
 that contraction in the muscles of the hand which I understand
 was stated to have taken place in this instance. Again, ordinary
 _tetanus_ rarely runs its course in less than two or three days, and
 often is protracted to a much longer period. I knew one case only in
 which the disease was said to have terminated in so short a time as
 twelve hours; but probably in that case the early symptoms had been
 overlooked. Again, I never knew the symptoms of ordinary _tetanus_
 to last for a few minutes, then subside, and then come on again
 after twenty-four hours. I think that these are the principal points
 of difference which I perceived between the symptoms of ordinary
 _tetanus_ and those which I have heard described in this case. I have
 not witnessed tetanic convulsions from strychnia on animal life. I
 do not believe that death in the case of Mr. Cook arose from what we
 ordinarily call _tetanus—either idiopathic or traumatic. I never knew
 tetanus result from sore throat or from a chancre, or from any other
 form of syphilitic disease. The symptoms were not the result either of
 apoplexy or of epilepsy. Perhaps I had better say at once that I never
 saw a case in which the symptoms that I have heard described here
 rose from any disease._ (Sensation.) _When I say that, of course I
 refer not to particular symptoms, but to the general course which the
 symptoms took._”

 _Cross-examined by Mr. Serjeant Shee._—“I believe I remember one case
 in the physician’s ward of St. George’s Hospital, which was shown to
 me as a case of _idiopathic tetanus_, but I doubted whether it was
 _tetanus_ at all. It was a slight case, and I do not remember the

 _Question._—“Considering how rare cases of _tetanus_ are, do you
 think that the description given by a chambermaid and a provincial
 medical man, who had never seen but one case, is sufficient to enable
 you to form an opinion as to the nature of the case?”

 _Answer._—“I must say I thought that the description was very clearly

 _Question._—“Supposing that they differed in their description, which
 would you rely upon—the medical man or the chambermaid?”

 _Lord Campbell._—“That is hardly a proper question.”

 _Baron Alderson._—“It may be a very proper observation for you to

 _Cross-examination continued._—“I never knew syphilitic poison
 produce tetanic convulsions, except in cases where there was disease
 of the bones of the head.”

Two other surgeons, _Dr. Daniell_, late surgeon to the British
Hospital, and _Mr. Samuel Solly_, of St. Thomas’s Hospital, confirmed
in every respect the views of the previous medical witnesses, that
the circumstances attending Cook’s death were clearly distinguishable
from those attendant on ordinary _tetanus_. They relied on the fact
that ordinary _tetanus_ was always progressive, and that it is never
intermittent to the extent witnessed in Cook’s case, and seldom endured
less than from thirty to forty hours. Mr. Solly alluded to the peculiar
grin—“the _risus Sardonicus_, as the first symptom of _true tetanus_,
which is not common to all convulsions, and which having once seen,”
he said, “you cannot forget.” He distinguished between _tetanus_ with
convulsions and death from epileptic convulsions by the fact that “the
first seldom leaves any trace behind it, whilst the latter does leave
its trace in the shape of a slight effusion of blood on the brain,
and a congestion of the vessels.” The syphilitic theory was finally
overthrown by the testimony of _Mr. Henry Lee_, surgeon to the Lock
Hospital, which is exclusively devoted to syphilitic cases. Though he
saw there nearly 3000 cases a year, he had never known one resulting in
_tetanus_, or read of a case of primary or secondary symptoms having
that result.

In addition to these experts, on the sixth day important evidence was
given by _Dr. Jackson_, who had had twenty-five years’ experience of
_tetanus_ in India, on the difference of the symptoms observed in
the _idiopathic_ and _traumatic_ kinds; the former being much more
frequent in India than in other climates, affording him in his practice
as many as forty cases.

 “It is as equally fatal,” said Dr. Jackson, “according to my
 experience, as _traumatic_. It is frequently found, in India, in
 children, both natives and Europeans, and generally takes place
 the third day after birth. It will also be occasioned by cold in
 that climate. In infants there is a more marked symptom of lockjaw
 in _idiopathic tetanus_. In adults there is no difference in the
 symptoms from _traumatic_. I have always seen the _idiopathic_ form
 preceded by premonitory symptoms, such as a peculiar expression of the
 countenance, stiffness of the muscles of the throat and of the jaw.
 The usual period from the attack to death in infants is forty-eight
 hours; in adults, when arising from cold, it is of longer duration,
 and may continue for many days, going through the same grades as the
 _traumatic_ forms.”

 _Cross-examined by Mr. Serjeant Shee._—“The patient always appears
 to be very uncomfortable shortly before an attack of _idiopathic
 tetanus_. His appetite would not be affected, but he would chiefly
 complain of the muscles of the neck. He might entertain a desire
 for food, and take it as usual within twelve hours of the attack.
 I never heard a patient complain of want of appetite. Within the
 twelve hours I should say that the patient’s attention would be more
 directed to the stiffness of his mouth and neck. I have known cases of
 _idiopathic tetanus_, where the first paroxysm was in bed. Difficulty
 of swallowing is another premonitory symptom.”

 _Re-examined by the Attorney-General._—“In the case of a child not
 more than six hours would elapse between the premonitory symptoms and
 the tetanic convulsions; in an adult the period would not be greater
 than twenty-four hours. The duration of the disease generally varies
 from three to ten days, but death has occurred as early as two days.
 The _traumatic_ and _idiopathic_ cases are alike in these respects.
 Both forms of the disorder are much more common in India than they
 are in this country. The symptoms are not more severe. _In all my
 experience I never saw a case in which the disease ran its course in
 twenty minutes._”


Four cases of undoubted poisoning by strychnia were brought forward
by the prosecution, in each of which the symptoms had been observed
by medical men, as well as by the attendants on the several patients.
In the _first_ case, that of Agnes Sennett, or French, a patient in
the Glasgow Infirmary, in September, 1845, for a sore skin, from
thoughtlessness apparently, she took one of two strychnia pills
prepared for a paralytic patient, and then went and sat by the ward
fire. “In three quarters of an hour,” said _Kelly_, another patient,
“she was taken ill and fell back on the floor. I went for the nurse; we
took her to bed, and sent for the doctor; we were obliged to cut her
clothes off first because she never moved. She was like a poker. She
never spoke till she died.” Each pill, according to the prescription,
contained a quarter of a grain of strychnia. When the medical clerk of
the hospital saw her in bed, the symptoms were—

 “_A strong retraction of the mouth; the face much suffused and red;
 the pupils of the eyes dilated; the head bent back; the spine curved,
 and the muscles rigid and hard as a board; the arms stretched out; the
 hands clinched; and there were severe paroxysms occurring in about a
 quarter of an hour. She died in about an hour and a quarter._ When I
 was called the paroxysms did not last so long; but they increased in
 severity.” “_The retraction of the mouth was continuous, but worse
 at times._ I do not think I observed it after death. _The hands were
 not clinched after death; they were semi-bent._ The symptoms appeared
 about thirty minutes after taking the pills. I tried to make her vomit
 with a feather. She only vomited partially after I had given her an
 emetic. _There was spasmodic action and grinding of the teeth. She
 could open her mouth and swallow. There was no lockjaw or ordinary

_Dr. Watson_, the surgeon to the infirmary, who was called in within
a quarter of an hour of the patient being taken ill, said, “_She was
in violent convulsions, and her arms stretched out and rigid; they
were kept quiet by rigidity. She did not breathe, the muscles being
kept still by tetanic rigidity._ That paroxysm subsided, and fresh
ones came on after a short interval. She died in about half an hour.
She was perfectly conscious. Her body was opened. _The heart was found
distended and stiff. The cavities of it were empty._ The spinal cord
was healthy.”

The _second_ case, also of accidental poisoning, by the error of a
local chemist, who substituted strychnia for salicine (willow bark), of
which there ought to have been nine grains in the bottle of medicine,
was that of a Mrs. Sergeantson Smyth, residing near Romsey. On the 30th
of October, 1848, she took half a wine-glass of the mixture, equal to
a third of the whole, containing three grains of strychnia. The effect
was of course immediate. The symptoms were identical with Cook’s.

 “I left the room,” said _Hickson_, the lady’s maid, “when I had given
 it her. Five or ten minutes afterwards I was alarmed by the ringing of
 her bell. I went into her room and found her out of bed leaning upon a
 chair in her night-dress. I thought she had fainted. She appeared to
 suffer from what I thought were spasms. I ran and sent the coachman
 for Dr. Taylor, and returned to her. Some of the other servants were
 there assisting her. _She was lying on the floor. She screamed loudly,
 and her teeth were clinched. She asked to have her arms and legs held
 straight. I took hold of them; they were very much drawn up. She still
 screamed and was in great agony. She requested that water should be
 thrown over her, and I threw some. I put a bottle of hot water to her
 feet, but it did not relax them. Shortly before she died she said she
 felt easier. The last words she uttered were, ‘Turn me over.’ She died
 very quietly. She was quite conscious, and knew me during the whole
 time. About an hour and a quarter after I gave her the medicine she

 _Cross-examined by Mr. Grove, Q.C._—“She could not sit up from the
 time I went to her till she died. It was when she was in a paroxysm
 that I tried to straighten her limbs. The effect of the cold water was
 to throw her into a paroxysm. It was a continually recurring attack,
 lasting about an hour and a quarter. Her teeth were clinched the whole

 _Re-examined._—“She was stiff all the time till within a few minutes
 of her death. She was conscious all the time.”

_Mr. Francis Taylor_, of Romsey, found her dead on his arrival. “Her
body was on the floor by the bed; _the hands very much bent; the feet
contracted and turned inwards; the soles of the feet hollowed up and
the toes contracted, apparently from recent spasmodic action; the inner
edge of each foot was turned; there was a remarkable rigidity about
the limbs; the body was warm, and the eyelids almost adherent to the
eyeballs._” Three days afterwards the witness made a _post-mortem_
examination, with the following results:—

 “The contraction of the feet continued, but it had gone off somewhat
 from the rest of the body. I found no disease in the body. _The heart
 was contracted, and perfectly empty_, as were all the large arteries
 leading from it. I analysed the medicine she had taken with another
 medical man. It contained a large quantity of strychnia. It had
 originally contained nine grains; she had taken a third—three grains.
 I made a very casual examination of the stomach and bowels, as we had
 plenty of proof that poison had been taken, without the use of tests.”

 _Cross-examined by Mr. Serjeant Shee._—“In cases of death from
 ordinary causes the body is much distorted. It does not generally
 remain in the same position. If the body is not laid out immediately,
 probably it is stiffened by the _rigor mortis_. The ankles were tied
 by a bandage to keep them together. I commenced to open the body by
 the thorax and abdomen. The head also was opened.”

The _third_ case was that of a Mr. Clutterbuck, a gentleman suffering
from paralysis, on whom, with _Dr. Chambers_, _Mr. E. D. Moore_, who
detailed the case, had attended some fifteen years before.

 “We had been giving him,” said the witness, “small doses of strychnia,
 when he went to Brighton. On his return he told us he had taken larger
 doses of it, and we in consequence gave him a stronger dose. I made
 up three draughts of a quarter of a grain each. He took one in my
 presence. I remained with him a little time, and he said he felt quite
 comfortable. About three quarters of an hour afterwards I was summoned
 to him. _I found him stiffened in every limb, and the head drawn back.
 He was desirous we should move him, and turn him and rub him._ We
 tried to give him ammonia in a spoon, _and he snapped at it_. He was
 suffering, I should say, more than three hours. Sedatives were given
 to him. He survived the attack. _He was conscious all the time._”

 _Cross-examined by Mr. Serjeant Shee._—“The spasms ceased in about
 three hours, but the rigidity of the muscles remained till the next
 day. His hands were at first drawn back, and he was much easier when
 we got them round clinched together. His paralysis was better after
 the attack.”

 _Re-examined by the Attorney-General._—“Strychnia stimulates the
 nerves which act upon the voluntary muscles, and therefore acts
 beneficially in cases of paralysis.”

The _fourth_ case of poisoning by strychnia, though at this time given
anonymously, as it had not as yet been brought to a public trial, was
that of Mrs. Dove, of Leeds, more fully related in the next report. In
this case, _Mrs. Witham_, who had been in attendance on the deceased,
described how, after taking the medicine given to her, “_She complained
first of her back; her head was thrown back; her body stretched out;
that she twitched, her eyes were drawn aside, staring, and that when
the witness put her hands on the patient’s limbs they did not relax._”
In this case the illness commenced on the 25th of February; attacks
came on the 27th, 28th, and 29th (the last a very slight one), and then
again, about a quarter past eight, on the 1st of March, and the person
died about twenty minutes to eleven on that night. “She principally
complained of prickings in the legs, twitchings in the muscles and in
the hands, which she said she could compare to nothing else than a
galvanic shock. Between the attacks, she was composed. _She wished her
husband to rub her legs and arms._ She was dead when the doctor came.”

On _cross-examination_, the witness said that the sufferer “_could not
bear to have her legs touched when the spasms were strong upon her. Her
limbs were rigidly extended when she asked to be rubbed between the
intervals of the spasms. Touching her then brought on the spasms. Her
body was stiff immediately after death_,” but how long it continued so
the witness could not say, as she did not stay long. _She was sensible
from half an hour to an hour_, from a quarter past eight till after
nine, and the witness _supposed she was insensible the remainder of the
time; she did not speak_. On the Saturday before she died the symptoms
were the same as on the other days—not more violent.”

_Mr. Morley_, the surgeon who had attended this case, and whose opinion
as to the symptoms being identical with those in the present inquiry,
was directly opposed by _Mr. Nunneley_, of Leeds, who had then assisted
him in the _post-mortem_ examination, not only detailed the symptoms he
then saw, but also the method and results of his subsequent examination
of the body.

 “I had attended,” said Mr. Morley, “on the lady to whom the last
 witness has alluded for about two months before her death. On the
 Monday before she died she was in her bed, apparently comfortable,
 when I observed (as I stood by her side) _several slight convulsive
 twitchings of her arms_. I supposed they arose from hysteria, and
 ordered medicine in consequence. _The same symptoms appeared on the
 following Wednesday and Thursday._ I saw her on Saturday, the day she
 died. She was apparently better and quite composed in the middle of
 the day. She complained of an attack she had had at night. She spoke
 of pain and spasms in her back and neck, and of shocks. I and another
 medical man were sent for hastily on Saturday night. We were met by
 an announcement that the lady was dead. On the Monday I accompanied
 another medical gentleman (Nunneley) to the _post-mortem_ examination.
 We found no disease in any part of the body which would account for
 death. There was no emaciation, wound, or sore. _There was a peculiar
 expression of anxiety in the countenance. The hands were bent and
 the fingers curved. The feet were strongly arched._ We carefully
 examined the stomach and its contents for poison. We applied several
 tests—nitric acid, followed by protochloride of tin,[41] sulphuric
 acid, followed by bichromate of potash in a liquid and also in a solid
 state. They are the best tests to detect strychnia. In each case we
 found appearances characteristic of strychnia. We administered the
 strychnia taken from the stomach to animals by inoculation—to two
 mice, two rabbits, and a guinea-pig, having first separated it by
 chemical analysis. We observed in each of the animals more or less
 of the effects produced by strychnia, namely—_general uneasiness,
 difficult breathing, convulsions of a tetanic kind, muscular rigidity,
 arching backwards of the head and neck, violent stretching out of the
 legs._ These symptoms appeared in some of the animals in four or five
 minutes, in others in less than an hour. The guinea-pig suffered but
 slightly at first, and was left, and was dead next day. The symptoms
 were strongly marked in the rabbits. After death there was an interval
 of flaccidity, after which rigidity commenced, more than if it had
 been occasioned by the _rigor mortis_. I afterwards made numerous
 experiments on animals with exactly similar results, the poison being
 administered in a fluid form.”

 _Cross-examined by Mr. Grove._—“I did not see the patient during a
 severe attack. I have observed in animals that spasms are brought on
 by touch. That is a very marked symptom. The spasm is like a galvanic
 shock. The patient was not at all insensible during the time I saw
 her, and she was able to swallow, but I did not see her during a
 severe attack. After death we found the lungs very much congested.
 There was a small quantity of bloody serum found in the pericardium.
 The muscles of the whole body were dark and soft. There was a decided
 quantity of effusion in the brain. There was also a quantity of serum
 tinged with blood in the membranes of the spinal cord. The membranes
 of the spinal marrow were congested to a considerable extent. We
 opened the head first, and there was a good deal of blood flowing
 out. _Part of the blood may have flowed from the heart. That might
 partially empty the heart, and would make it uncertain whether the
 heart was full or empty at the time of death. I have often examined
 the hearts of animals poisoned by strychnia. The right side of the
 heart is generally full._ In some cases I think that the symptoms
 did not appear for an hour after the administration of the poison. I
 have made the experiments in conjunction with Mr. Nunneley. We have
 made experiments upon frogs, but they are different in many respects
 from warm-blooded animals. I have in almost all cases found the
 strychnia where it was known to have been administered. In one case
 it was doubtful. We were sure the strychnia had been administered
 in that case, but we doubted whether it had reached the stomach.
 There were appearances which might lead one to infer the presence of
 strychnia, but they were not satisfactory. I have detected strychnia
 in the stomach nearly two months after death, when decomposition has
 proceeded to a considerable extent.”

 _Re-examined by the Attorney-General._—“From half a grain to a grain
 has been administered to cats, rabbits, and dogs. From one to two
 grains is quite sufficient to kill a dog.”

 _Question._—“How does the strychnia act? Is it taken up by the
 absorbents, and carried into the system?”

 _Answer._—“I think it acts upon the nerves, but a part may be taken
 into the blood and act through the blood. We generally examined
 the stomach of the animals when the poison had been administered
 internally. Sometimes we examined the skin. The poison found in the
 stomach would be in excess of that absorbed into the system.”

 _Question._—“Are you then of opinion that, a portion of the poison
 being taken into the system and a portion being left in the stomach,
 the portion taken into the system would produce tetanic symptoms and

 _Mr. Serjeant Shee_ objected to a question which suggested a theory.

 _The Attorney-General._—“What would be the operation of that portion
 of the poison which is taken into the system?”

 _Answer._—“It would destroy life.”

 _Mr. Baron Alderson._—“And yet leave an excess in the stomach?”

 _Answer._—“That is my opinion.”

 _The Attorney-General._—“Would the excess remaining in the stomach
 produce no effect?”

 _Answer._—“I am not sure that strychnia could lie in the stomach
 without acting prejudicially.”

 _Question._—“Suppose that a minimum quantity is administered, which,
 being absorbed into the system, destroys life, should you expect to
 find any in the stomach?”

 _Answer._—“I should expect sometimes to fail in discovering it.”

 _Question._—“If death resulted from a series of minimum doses spread
 over several days, would the appearance of the body be different from
 that of one whose death had been caused by one dose?”

 _Answer._—“I should connect the appearance of the body with the final
 struggle of the last day.”

 _Question._—“Would you expect a different set of phenomena in cases
 where death had taken place after a brief struggle, and in cases where
 the struggle had been protracted?”

 _Answer._—“Certainly. At the _post-mortem_ examination of which I
 have spoken we found fluid blood in the veins.”

 _Mr. Serjeant Shee._—“Is it your theory that in the action of
 poisoning the poison becomes absorbed and ceases to exist as poison?”

 Answer.—“I have thought much upon that question, and have not formed
 a decided opinion, but I am inclined to think that it is so. A part
 may be absorbed and a part remain in the stomach unchanged.”

 _Mr. Serjeant Shee._—“What chymical reason can you give for your
 opinion that strychnia, after having effected the operation of
 poisoning, ceases to be strychnia in the blood?”

 _Answer._—“My opinion rests upon the general principle that, in
 acting upon living bodies, organic substances—such as food and
 medicine—are generally changed in their composition.”

 _Mr. Serjeant Shee._—“What are the component parts of strychnia?”

 _Mr. Baron Alderson._—“You will find that in any cyclopædia, brother

 _Mr. Serjeant Shee._—“Have you any reason to believe that strychnia
 can be decomposed by any sort of putrefying or fermenting process?”

 _Witness._—“I doubt whether it can.”[42]


On the fifth day, the late _Doctor Alfred Swaine Taylor_, the
well-known Analytical Chemist and Author of “Medical Jurisprudence”
(the text-book of the legal profession in all criminal investigations),
_Doctor Owen Rees_, now one of the physicians extraordinary to her
Majesty, and the late _Professor Brande_, of the Royal Institution,
were called as witnesses. By the two first, the analytical examination
of the various parts of Mr. Cook’s body had been conducted, and they
had made a joint report of the results. By the last, that report had
been carefully examined, and he had also heard all the evidence as to
symptoms previously given in the case. No inconsiderable portion of the
_cross-examination_ of Dr. Taylor was occupied by questions connected
with the publication, in the _Illustrated Times_, by Mr. Augustus
Mayhew, of what professed to be statements as to the details of their
analysis by Dr. Taylor and Dr. Rees, in which, if correctly reported,
the former had committed himself somewhat prematurely to opinions
on the case, and had used expressions towards the prisoner which,
to say the least, were not discreet. Dr. Taylor, however, stoutly
maintained that he had not used many of the expressions objected to;
that the opportunity of interviewing him, after the American fashion,
had been unfairly obtained, and the pretended report published not
only without, but contrary to, his expressed wish. Except, however,
as throwing a shade of partisanship over his conduct, and so far
lessening the value of his evidence, the whole episode was useless to
the defence—perhaps, to a certain extent, injurious. Dr. Taylor had
been hasty and injudicious, and undoubtedly taken at an advantage by
the energetic reporter, who certainly obtained his interview with him
by pretences not strictly true.[43] With these remarks, due to Dr.
Taylor’s reputation and abilities, we proceed to give his evidence.

 _Dr. Alfred Swaine Taylor, examined by the Attorney-General._—“I
 am a fellow of the College of Physicians, lecturer on medical
 jurisprudence at Guy’s Hospital, and the author of the well-known
 treatise on poisons and on medical jurisprudence. I have made the
 poison called strychnia the subject of my attention. It is the
 produce of the nux vomica, which also contains brucia, a poison
 of an analogous character. Brucia is variously estimated at from
 one-sixth to one-twelfth the strength of strychnia. Most varieties of
 impure strychnia that are sold contain more or less brucia. Unless,
 therefore, you are certain as to the purity of the article, you may be
 misled as to its strength. I have performed a variety of experiments
 with strychnia on animal life. I have never witnessed its action on
 a human subject. I have tried its effects upon animal life—upon
 rabbits—in ten or twelve instances. The symptoms are, on the whole,
 very uniform. The quantity I have given has varied from half a grain
 to two grains. Half a grain is sufficient to destroy a rabbit. I have
 given it both in a solid and liquid state. When given in a fluid state
 it produces its effects in a very few minutes; when in a solid state,
 as a sort of pill or bolus, in about six to eleven minutes. The time
 varies according to the strength of the dose, and also to the strength
 of the animal.”

 _Question._—“In what way does it operate, in your opinion?”

 _Answer._—“It is first absorbed into the blood, then circulated
 through the body, and especially acts on the spinal cord, from which
 proceed the nerves acting on the voluntary muscles.”

 _Question._—“Supposing the poison has been absorbed, what time would
 you give for the circulating process?”

 _Answer._—“The circulation of the blood through the whole system is
 considered to take place about once in four minutes. The circulation
 in animals is quicker. The absorption of the poison by rabbits is
 therefore quicker. The time would also depend on the state of the
 stomach,—whether it contained much food or not, whether the poison
 came into immediate contact with the inner surface of the stomach.”

 _Question._—“In your opinion, does the poison act immediately on the
 nervous system, or must it first be absorbed?”

 _Answer._—“It must first be absorbed.”

 _Question._—“The symptoms, you say, are uniform. Will you describe

 _Answer._—“The animal for about five or six minutes does not appear
 to suffer, but moves about gently; when the poison begins to act it
 suddenly falls on its side; there is a trembling, a quivering motion
 of the whole of the muscles of the body, arising from the poison
 producing violent and involuntary contraction. There is then a sudden
 paroxysm or fit, the fore legs and the hind legs are stretched out,
 the head and the tail are drawn back in the form of a bow, the jaws
 are spasmodically closed, the eyes are prominent; after a short time
 there is a slight remission of the symptoms, and the animal appears
 to lie quiet, but the slightest noise or touch reproduces another
 convulsive paroxysm; sometimes there is a scream, or a sort of shriek,
 as if the animal suffered from pain; the heart beats violently
 during the fit, and after a succession of these fits the animal dies
 quietly. Sometimes, however, the animal dies during a spasm, and I
 only know that death has occurred from holding my hand over the heart.
 The appearances after death differ. In some instances the rigidity
 continues. In one case the muscles were so strongly contracted for a
 week afterwards, that it was possible to hold the body by its hind
 legs stretched out horizontally. In an animal killed the other day
 the body was flaccid at the time of death, but became rigid about
 five minutes afterwards. I have opened the bodies of animals thus

 _Question._—“Could you detect any injury in the stomach?”

 _Answer._—“No. I have found in some cases congestion of the membranes
 of the spinal cord to a greater extent than would be accounted for
 by the gravitation of the blood. In other cases I have found no
 departure from the ordinary state of the spinal cord and the brain.
 I ascribe congestion to the succession of fits before death. In a
 majority of instances, three out of five, I found no change in the
 abnormal condition of the spine. In all cases the heart has been
 congested, especially the right side. I saw a case of ordinary tetanus
 in the human subject years ago, but I have not had much experience of
 such cases. I saw one case last Thursday week at St. Bartholomew’s
 Hospital. The patient recovered.”

 _Question._—“You have heard the description given by the witnesses of
 the symptoms and appearances which accompanied Cook’s attacks?”

 _Answer._—“I have.”

 _Question._—“Were those symptoms and appearances the same as those
 you have observed in the animals to which you administered strychnia?”

 _Answer._—“They were. Death has taken place in the animals more
 rapidly when the poison has been administered in a fluid than in a
 solid form. They have died at various periods after the administration
 of the poison. The experiments I have performed lately have been
 entirely in reference to solid strychnia. In the first case the
 symptoms began in seven minutes, and the animal died (including those
 seven) in thirteen minutes. In the second case the symptoms appeared
 in nine minutes, and the animal died in seventeen. In the third case
 the symptoms appeared in ten minutes, and the animal died in eighteen.
 In the fourth case the symptoms appeared in five minutes, and death
 took place in twenty-two. In the fifth case the symptoms appeared in
 twelve minutes, and death occurred in twenty-three. If the poison were
 taken by the human subject in pills it would take a longer time to
 act, because the structure of the pill must be broken up in order to
 bring the poison in contact with the mucous membrane of the stomach. I
 have administered it to rabbits in pills.”

 _Question._—“Would poison given in pills take a longer period to
 operate on a human subject than on a rabbit?”

 _Answer._—“I do not think we can draw any inference from a comparison
 of the rapidity of death in a human subject and in a rabbit. The
 circulation and absorption are different in the two cases. There is
 also a difference between one human subject and another. The strength
 of the dose, too, would make a difference, as a large dose would
 produce a more rapid effect than a small one. I have experimented
 upon the intestines of animals, in order to reproduce the strychnia.
 The process consists in putting the stomach and its contents in
 alcohol, with a small quantity of acid which dissolves the strychnia,
 and produces sulphate of strychnia in the stomach. The liquid is
 then filtered, gently evaporated, and an alkali added—carbonate of
 potash, which combines with the sulphuric acid, and precipitates the
 strychnia. Tests are applied to the strychnia, or supposed strychnia,
 when extracted. Strychnia has a peculiar strongly bitter taste. It is
 not soluble in water, but it is in acids and in alcohol. The colour
 tests are applied to the dry residue after evaporation. Change of
 colour is produced by a mixture of sulphuric acid and bichromate of
 potash. It produces a blue colour, changing to violet and purple,
 and passing to red; but colouring tests are very fallacious, with
 this exception,—when we have strychnia separated in its crystallised
 state we can recognise the crystals by their form and their chemical
 properties, and, above all, by the tetanic symptoms and death when
 administered through a wound in the skin of animals.”[44]

 _Question._—“Are there other vegetable substances from which, if
 these colouring tests were applied, similar colours could be obtained?”

 _Answer._—“There are a variety of mixtures which produce similar
 colours;[45] one of them also has a bitter taste like strychnine.[46]
 Vegetable poisons are more difficult of detection than mineral: the
 tests are far more fallacious. I have endeavoured to discover the
 presence of strychnine in animals I have poisoned in four cases,
 assisted by Dr. Rees. I have applied the process I first described.
 I have applied the tests of colouring and taste. In one case I
 discovered some by the colour test. In a second case there was a
 bitter taste, but no other indication of strychnine. In the other two
 cases there were no indications at all. In the case where it had been
 discovered by the colour test, two grains had been administered; and
 in the second case, where there was a bitter taste, one grain. In one
 of the cases where we failed to detect it, one grain, and, in the
 other, half a grain had been given. I account for the absence of any
 indication, _because it is absorbed in the blood, and is no longer
 in the stomach. It is in a great part changed in the blood._ When
 administered in large doses there is a retention of some in excess of
 what is required for the destruction of life.”

 _Question._—“Supposing a minimum dose, which will destroy life, has
 been given, could you find any?”

 _Answer._—“No. It is taken up by absorption, and is no longer
 discoverable in the stomach. The smallest quantity by which I have
 destroyed an animal is half a grain. _There is no process with which I
 am acquainted by which it can be discovered in the tissue._[47] As far
 as I know, a small quantity cannot be discovered.”

 _Question._—“Suppose half a grain to be absorbed into the blood, what
 proportion does it bear to the total quantity of blood circulated in
 the system?”

 _Answer._—“Assuming the system to contain the lowest quantity of
 blood—25lb.—it would be one-fiftieth of a grain to a pound of blood.
 A physician once died from a dose of half a grain in twenty minutes.
 _I believe it undergoes some partial change in the blood which
 increases the difficulty of discovering it. I never heard of its being
 separated from the tissues in a crystallised state._ The crystals are
 peculiar in form, but there are other organic crystallised substances
 like them, so that a chemist will not rely on form only. After the
 _post-mortem_ examination, a portion of the stomach was delivered to
 me by Mr. Boycott, covered with bladder, tied and sealed. The jar
 contained the stomach and the intestines. I have experimented upon
 them with a view to discover if any poison was present. I sought for
 prussic acid, morphia, strychnia, veratria, tobacco poison, hemlock,
 arsenic, antimony, mercury, and other mineral poisons, but only
 found small traces of antimony. _The parts on which I had to operate
 were in the most unfavourable condition that could possibly be. The
 stomach had been cut completely from end to end; all the contents were
 gone, and the fine mucous surface, on which any poison, if present,
 would have been found, was lying in contact with the outside of the
 intestines—all thrown together. The inside of the stomach was lying
 in a mass of intestinal fœcal matter._ That was, I presume, the fault
 or misfortune of the person who dissected, but it seemed to have been
 shaken about in every possible way in its journey to London.[48] By
 my request the spleen, two kidneys, and a small bottle of blood, were
 sent up to me. We had no idea where the blood came from. _Each part of
 the liver, one kidney, and the spleen, all yielded antimony._ It was
 reproduced, or brought out by boiling the animal matter in a mixture
 of hydrochloric acid and water. Copper, in the shape of foil and gauze
 in a sort of web of fine copper, was introduced, and the antimony was
 found deposited on the copper. _The quantity of antimony was less in
 proportion in the spleen than in the other parts. I detected some
 antimony in the blood._ We applied the tests of Professor Brande, Dr.
 Rees, and others. _It is impossible to say how recently it had been
 administered, but I should say shortly before death, that is, within
 some days._ The longest period at which antimony can be found in the
 blood after death, within my knowledge, is eight days; the earliest
 period, within my knowledge, eighteen hours. A boy died within
 eighteen hours after taking it, and it was found in his liver. It is
 usually given in the form of tartar emetic; it acts as an irritant,
 and produces vomiting. If given in repeated doses, a portion would
 find its way into the blood and the system, beyond what was ejected.
 If it continued to be given after it had produced certain symptoms, it
 would destroy life. It may, however, be given with impunity.”

Referring to the symptoms previously proved in Cook’s case, the witness

 “Vomitings produced by antimony would cause those symptoms. If given
 in small quantities, sufficient to cause vomiting, it would not affect
 the colour of the liquid with which it was mixed, whether brandy,
 wine, broth, or water. _It is impossible to form an exact judgment
 when the antimony was administered, but it must have been two or
 three weeks at the outside before death. There was no evidence that
 it was administered within some hours before death._ It might leave
 a sensation in the throat—a choking sensation—if a large quantity
 was given at once. _I found no trace of mercury during the analysis.
 If a few grains had been taken recently before death, I should
 have expected to find some trace. If a man had taken mercury for a
 syphilitic affection within two or three weeks, I should have expected
 to find it._ It is very slow in passing out of the body. As small a
 quantity as three or four grains might leave some trace. I recollect a
 case in which three grains of calomel were given three or four hours
 before death, and traces of mercury were found. Half a grain three or
 four days before death, if given in divided doses more favourable for
 absorption, would, I should expect, leave a trace. One grain would
 certainly do so.” The witness agreed with the opinion of the other
 witnesses as to the causes of the deaths of Mrs. Smyth, Agnes French,
 and the other lady (Mrs. Dove), and of the attack of Clutterbuck,
 and that the symptoms in Mr. Cook’s case appeared to be of a similar
 character. As a professor of medical science, he did not know any
 cause in the range of human disease, except strychnia, to which the
 symptoms in Cook’s case could be referred.

The _cross-examination_ of _Dr. Taylor_ was necessarily very diffuse
and lengthy; with the exception, however, of the part in which it was
sought to raise a prejudice against the witness as a partisan, to
which I have previously referred, it was so important that, like the
_examination_ in chief, it must, in justice to all parties, be reported
at length.

 _Cross-examined by Mr. Serjeant Shee._—“I mean by the word ‘trace’ a
 very small quantity, which can hardly be estimated by weight. I do
 not apply it in the sense of an imponderable quantity. In chemical
 language it is frequently used in that sense. An infinitesimal
 quantity would be called ‘a trace.’ _The quantity of antimony that
 we discovered in all parts of the body would make up about half a
 grain. We did not ascertain that there was that quantity, but I will
 undertake to say that we extracted as much as half a grain. That
 quantity would not be sufficient to cause death._ Only arsenic or
 antimony could have been deposited, under the circumstances, on the
 copper, and no sublimate of arsenic was obtained.” [The witness, in
 reply to a further question, detailed the elaborate test which he had
 applied to the deposit, in order to ascertain that it consisted of

 _Question._—“Would a mistake in any one of the processes you have
 described, or a defect in any of the materials you have used, defeat
 the object of the test?”

 _Answer._—“It would, but all the materials I used were pure. Such an
 accident could not have happened without my having some intimation of
 it in the course of the process. I should think antimony would operate
 more quickly upon animals than upon men. I am acquainted with the
 works of Orfila. He stood in the highest rank of analytical chemists.”

 _Question._—“Did not Orfila find antimony in a dog four months after

 _Answer._—“Yes; but the animal had taken about forty-five grains.”

 _Mr. Serjeant Shee_ called the attention of the witness to a passage
 in Orfila’s work in reference to that case, to the effect that the
 antimony was found accumulating in the bones, the liver contained a
 great deal, and the tissues a very little.

 _Witness._—“Yes; when antimony has been long in the body it passes
 into the bones; but I think you will find that these are not Orfila’s
 experiments. Orfila is quoting the experiments of another person.”[49]

 _Question._—“But is not that the case with nearly all the experiments
 referred to in your own book?”

 _Answer._—“No; I cannot say that.”

 _Mr. Serjeant Shee_ again referred to a case in Orfila in which
 forty-five grains were given to a dog, and three and a half months
 after death a quantity was found in the fat, and some in the liver,
 bones, and tissues.

 _Witness._—“That shows that antimony gets into the bones and flesh,
 but I never knew a case in which forty-five grains had been given to a
 human being in ten days, and I have given no opinion upon such a case.”

 _Question._—“A pretty good dose is required to poison a person, I

 _Answer._—“That depends on the mode in which it is given. A dog has
 been poisoned with six grains. The dog died in the case you mentioned.
 When antimony is administered as it was in that case the liver becomes
 fatty and gristled. Cook’s liver presented no appearance of the sort.
 _I should infer that the antimony we found in Cook’s body was given
 much more recently than in the experiments you have described. We
 cannot say positively how long it takes to get out of the body, but
 I have known three grains cleared out in twenty-four hours._ I was
 first applied to in this case on Thursday, the 27th of November, by
 Mr. Stevens, who was introduced to me by Mr. Warrington, professor of
 chemistry. Either then or subsequently he mentioned Mr. Gardner. I had
 not known Mr. Gardner before. I had never before been concerned in
 cases of this kind at Rugeley.”

 _Mr. Serjeant Shee_ read the letter written by Dr. Taylor to Mr.

  “_Dec. 4, 1855_.

  “_Re_ J. P. Cook, Esq., _deceased_.

 “DEAR SIR,—Dr. Rees and I have completed the analysis to-day. We have
 sketched a report, which will be ready to-morrow or next day.

 “As I am going to Durham Assizes on the part of the Crown, in the case
 of _Reg._ v. _Wooler_, the report will be in the hands of Dr. Rees,
 No. 26, Albemarle-street. It will be most desirable that Mr. Stevens
 should call on Dr. Rees, read the report with him, and put such
 questions as may occur.

 “In reply to your letter received here this morning I beg to say that
 we wish a statement of all the medicines prescribed for deceased
 (until his death) to be drawn up and sent to Dr. Rees.

 “We do not find strychnine, prussic acid, or any trace of opium. From
 the contents having been drained away it is now impossible to say
 whether any strychnine had or had not been given just before death,
 but it is quite possible for tartar emetic to destroy life if given in
 repeated doses; and, so far as we can at present form an opinion, in
 the absence of any natural cause of death, the deceased may have died
 from the effects of antimony in this or some other form.

  “We are, dear Sir, yours faithfully,


_Question._—“Was that your opinion at the time?”

_Answer._—“It was. We could infer nothing else.”

_Question._—“Have you not said that the quantity of antimony you found
was not sufficient to account for death?”

_Answer._—“Certainly. If a man takes antimony he first vomits, and
then a part of the antimony goes out of the body; some may escape from
the bowels. A great deal passes at once into the blood by absorption,
and is carried out by the urine.”

_Question._—“Can you say upon your oath that from the traces in Cook’s
body you were justified in stating your opinion that death was caused
by antimony?”

_Answer._—“Yes; perfectly and distinctly. _That which is found in a
dead body is not the slightest criterion as to what the man took when

_Question._—“When you gave your opinion that Cook died from the
effects of antimony, had you any reason to think that an undue quantity
had been administered?”

_Answer._—“I could not tell. People may die from large or small
quantities; the quantity found in the body was no criterion as to how
much he had taken.”

_Question._—“May not the injudicious use of a quack medicine
containing antimony, the injudicious use of James’s powders, account
for the antimony you found in the body?”

_Answer._—“Yes; the injudicious use of any antimonial medicine would
account for it.”

_Question._—“Or even their judicious use?”

_Answer._—“It might.”

_Question._—“With that knowledge, upon being consulted with regard
to Cook, you gave it as your opinion that he died from the poison of

_Answer._—“You pervert my meaning entirely. I said that antimony in
the form of tartar emetic might occasion vomiting and other symptoms of
irritation, and that in large doses it would cause death, preceded by
convulsions.” [The witness was proceeding to read his report upon the
case, but was stopped by the Court.] “I was told that the deceased was
in good health seven or eight days before his death, and that he had
been taken very sick and ill, and had died in convulsions. No further
particulars being given us, we were left to suppose that he had not
died a natural death. There was no natural cause to account for death;
and finding antimony existing throughout the body, we thought it might
have been caused by antimony. An analysis cannot be made effectually
without information.”

_Question._—“You think it necessary before you can rely upon an
analysis to have received a long statement of the symptoms before

_Answer._—“A short statement will do.”

_Question._—“You allow your judgment to be influenced by the statement
of a person who knows nothing of his own knowledge?”

_Answer._—“I do not allow my judgment to be influenced in any way; I
judge by the result.”

_Question._—“Do you mean to say that what Mr. Stevens told you did not
assist you in arriving at the conclusion you state in writing?”

_Answer._—“I stated it as a possible case—not as a certainty. If we
had found a large quantity of tartar emetic in the stomach we should
have come to the conclusion that the man died from it. As we found
only a small quantity, we said he might have died from it. I attended
the coroner’s inquest, first, I think, on December 14. Some of the
evidence was read over to me. I think that Dr. Harland was the first
witness I heard examined. I heard Mr. Bamford, and also Lavinia Barnes.
I cannot say as to Newton. I heard Jones. I had experimented some
years ago on five of the rabbits I have mentioned. That is the only
knowledge of my own that I had of the effect of strychnia upon animal
life when I wrote my book. I have a great objection to the sacrifice of
life. No toxicologist will sacrifice the lives of one hundred rabbits
to establish facts which he knows to be already well established. I
experimented on the last rabbits since the inquest.”

_Question._—“Do you not think it rather rash to judge of the effects
of strychnia on man by so small an experiment?”

_Answer._—“You must add to the experiment the study of poisons and

_Question._—“Do you not think that a rabbit is a very unfair animal to


_Question._—“Would not a dog be better?”

_Answer._—“They are very dangerous to handle.”

_Question._—“Do you mean to give that answer?”

_Answer._—“Dogs and cats bear a greater analogy to man because they
vomit, while rabbits do not; but rabbits are much more manageable.”

_Question._—“Do you admit that as to the action of the respiratory
organs they would be better than rabbits?”

_Answer._—“I do not.”

_Question._—“As to the effect of poison would they not?”

_Answer._—“I think a rabbit quite as good as any animal. The poison is
retained, and its operation is shown. At the inquest I saw Mr. Gardner
(the solicitor of Mr. Stevens). I suggested questions to the coroner.
Some of them he put to the witnesses, and others they answered upon my
suggesting them. Ten days before the inquest Mr. Gardner informed me
in his letter that strychnia, Battley’s solution, and prussic acid,
had been purchased on Tuesday; that was why I used the expressions to
which you have referred. We did not allow that information to have any
influence on our report.” [The witness’s deposition before the coroner
was then read.] “Having given my evidence, I returned to town, and soon
afterwards heard that the prisoner had been committed on a charge of
wilful murder.”

_Question._—“And that his life depended in a great degree on you?”

_Answer._—“No. I simply gave an opinion as to the poison, not as to
the prisoner’s case. I knew I should probably be examined as a witness
on the trial.”

_Question._—“Do you think it your duty to abstain from all public
discussion of the question which might influence the public mind.”


_Question._—“Did you write a letter to the _Lancet_?”

_Answer._—“Yes, to contradict several mis-statements of my evidence
that had been made.”

_Letter to_ Lancet _of Feb. 2, 1856, read, in which Dr. Taylor
said_:—“During the quarter of a century which I have now specially
devoted to toxicological inquiries, I have never met with any cases
like these suspected cases of poisoning at Rugeley. The mode in which
they will affect the person accused is of minor importance compared
with their probable influence on society. I have no hesitation
in saying that the future security of life in this country will
mainly depend on the judge, the jury, and the counsel who may have
to dispose of the charges of murder which have arisen out of these

_Cross-examination continued._—“That is my opinion now. It had been
stated that if strychnia caused death it could always be found, which
I deny. It had also been circulated in every newspaper that a person
could not be killed by tartar emetic, which I deny, and which might
have led to the destruction of hundreds of lives. I entertained
no prejudice against the prisoner. What I meant was that if these
statements which I had seen in medical and other periodicals were to
have their way there was not a life in the country which was safe.”

_Question._—“Do you adhere to your opinion that ‘the mode in which
they will affect the person accused,’ that is, lead him to the
scaffold, ‘is of minor importance, compared with their probable
influence on society’?”

_Answer._—“I have never suggested that they should lead him to the
scaffold. I hope that, if innocent, he will be acquitted.”

_Question._—“What do you mean by the mode in which they will affect
the person accused being of minor importance?”

_Answer._—“The lives of sixteen millions of people are, in my opinion,
of greater importance than that of one man.”

_Question._—“That is your opinion?”

_Answer._—“Yes. As you appear to put that as an objection to my
evidence, allow me to state that in two dead bodies I find antimony.
In one case death occurred suddenly, and in the other the body was
saturated with antimony, which I never found before in the examination
of three hundred bodies. I say these were circumstances which demanded

_Question._—“You adhere to the opinion that, as a medical man and a
member of an honourable profession, you were right in publishing this
letter before the trial of the person accused?”

_Answer._—“I think I had a right to state that opinion in answer to
the comments which had been made upon my evidence.”

_Question._—“Had any comments been made by the prisoner?”


_Question._—“Or by any of his family?”

_Answer._—“Mr. Smith, the solicitor for the defence, circulated in
every paper statements of ‘Dr. Taylor’s inaccuracy.’ I had no wish or
motive to charge the prisoner with this crime. My duty concerns the
lives of all.”

I omit here the numerous questions about Mr. Mayhew’s visit, and
take up the _cross-examination_ with the witness’s opinion of Cook’s

 “Cook’s symptoms were quite in accordance with an ordinary case of
 poisoning by strychnia.”

 _Question._—“Can you tell me any case in which a patient after being
 seized with tetanic symptoms sat up in bed and talked?”

 _Answer._—“It was after he sat up that Cook was seized with these

 _Question._—“Can you refer to a case in which a patient who had taken
 strychnia beat the bed with his or her arms?”

 _Answer._—“It is exactly what I should expect to arise from a sense
 of suffocation.”

 _Question._—“Do you know in your reading of any case in which the
 symptoms of poisoning by strychnia commenced with beating of the bed

 _Answer._—“There have been only about fifteen cases, and in none of
 those was the patient seized in bed. Beating of the bed clothes is a
 symptom which may be exhibited by a person suffering from a sense of
 suffocation, whether caused by strychnia or other causes. A case has
 been communicated to me by a friend, in which the patient shook as
 though with an ague.” [Answer objected to, but allowed as witness had
 been questioned as to the results of his reading.] “I have known of no
 case of poisoning by strychnia in which the patient screamed before
 he was seized. That is common in ordinary convulsions. In cases of
 poisoning by strychnia the patient screams when the spasms set in; the
 pain is very severe. I cannot refer to a case in which the patient
 has spoken freely after the paroxysms had commenced.”

 _Question._—“Can you refer me to any case in an authentic publication
 in which the access of the strychnia paroxysm has been delayed so long
 after the injection of the poison as in the case of Cook on Tuesday

 _Answer._—“Yes; longer. In my book on Medical Jurisprudence, p. 185,
 5th Edition, it is stated that in a case communicated to the _Lancet_,
 Aug. 31, 1850, by Mr. Bennett, a grain and a half of strychnia taken
 by mistake destroyed the life of a healthy female in an hour and a
 half. None of the symptoms appeared for an hour. There is a case in
 which the period which elapsed was two hours and a half. A grain and
 a half is a full, but not a very considerable, dose. In my book on
 Poisons there is no case in which the paroxysm commenced more than an
 hour and a half after the injection of the poison. That book is eight
 years old, and since 1848 cases have occurred. There is a mention of
 one in which three hours elapsed before the paroxysms occurred.”

_Mr. Serjeant Shee_ then referred to the case, and called attention to
the fact that the only statement as to time was that in three hours the
patient lost his speech, and was seized with violent convulsions.[51]

 _Cross-examination continued._—“I know of no other fatal case in
 which the interval was so long. In that case there was disease of
 the brain. Referring to the _Lancet_, I find that in the case to
 which I referred, as communicated by Dr. Bennett, the strychnia was
 dissolved in cinnamon water. Being dissolved, one would have expected
 it to have a more speedy action. The time in which a patient would
 recover would depend entirely upon the dose of strychnia which had
 been taken. I do not remember any case in which a patient recovered
 in three or four hours, but such cases must have occurred. There is
 one mentioned in my book on Medical Jurisprudence. The patient had
 taken nux vomica, but its powers depend upon strychnia. In that case
 the violence of the paroxysms gradually subsided, and the next day,
 although feeble and exhausted, the patient was able to walk home.
 The time of the recovery is a point which is not usually stated by
 medical men. I cannot mention any case in which there was a repetition
 of the paroxysms after so long an interval as that from Monday to
 Tuesday night, which occurred in Cook’s case. I do not think that the
 attack on Tuesday night was the result of anything which had been
 administered to him on the Monday night. In the cases of four out of
 five rabbits the rigidity was continued at the time of death and after
 death. In the other the animal was flaccid at the time of death.”

 _Question._—“Are you acquainted with this opinion of Dr. Christison,
 that in these cases rigidity does not come on at the time of death,
 but comes on shortly afterwards?”

 _Answer._—“Dr. Christison speaks from his experience, and I from

 _Question._—“Did you hear that Dr. Bamford said that when he arrived
 he found the body of Cook quite straight in bed?”


 _Question._—“Can that have been a case of ophisthotonos?”

 _Answer._—“It may have been.”

 _Question._—“Are not the colour tests of strychnia so uncertain and
 fallacious that they cannot be depended upon?”

 _Answer._—“Yes, unless you first get the strychnia in a visible and
 tangible form.”

 _Question._—“Is it not impossible to get it so from the stomach?”

 _Answer._—“It is not impossible; it depends upon the quantity which
 remains there.”

 _Question._—“You do not agree that the fiftieth part of a grain might
 be discovered?”

 _Answer._—“I think not.”

 _Question._—“Nor even half a grain?”

 _Answer._—“That might be. It would depend upon the quantity of food
 in the stomach with which it was mixed.”

 _Re-examined by the Attorney-General._—“In cases of death from
 strychnia the heart is sometimes found empty after death. That is
 the case of human subjects. There are three such cases on record. I
 think that emptiness results from spasmodic affection of the heart.
 I know of no reason why that should rather occur in the case of man
 than in that of a small animal like a rabbit. The heart is generally
 more filled when the paroxysms are frequent. When the paroxysm is
 short and violent, and causes death in a few moments, I should expect
 to find the heart empty. The rigidity after death always affects
 the same muscles; those of the limbs and back. In the case of the
 rabbit, in which the rigidity was relaxed at the time of death, it
 returned while the body was warm. In ordinary death it only occurs
 when the body is cold, or nearly so. I never knew a case of tetanus
 in which the rigidity lasted two months after death; but such a fact
 would give me the impression that there were very violent spasms. It
 would indicate great violence of the spasms from which the person
 died. The time which elapses between the taking of strychnia and the
 commencement of the paroxysms depends on the constitution and strength
 of the individual. A feeling of suffocation is one of the earliest
 symptoms of poisoning by strychnia, and that would lead the patient
 to beat the bedclothes. I have no doubt that the substances I used
 for the purpose of analysis were pure. I had tested them. The fact
 that three distinct processes each gave the same result was strong
 confirmation of each. I have no doubt that what we found was antimony.
 The quantity found does not enable me to say how much was taken. It
 might be the residue of either large or small doses. Sickness would
 throw off some portion of the antimony which had been administered. We
 did not analyse the bones and tissues. I suggested questions to the
 coroner because he did not put such as enabled me to form an opinion.
 I think that arose rather from want of knowledge than intention. There
 was an omission to take down the answers. At the time I wrote to Mr.
 Gardiner I had not learnt the symptoms which attended the attack and
 death of Cook. I had only the information that he was well seven days
 before he died, and had died in convulsions. I had not information to
 lead me to suppose that strychnia had been the cause of death, except
 that Palmer had purchased strychnia. Failing to find opium, prussic
 acid, or strychnia, I referred to antimony as the only substance found
 in the body. Before writing to the _Lancet_, I had been made the
 subject of a great many attacks. What I had said as to the possibility
 or impossibility of discovering strychnia after death had been
 misrepresented. In various newspapers it had been represented that I
 had said strychnia could never be detected—that it was destroyed by
 putrefaction. What I had said was, that when absorbed in the blood
 it could not be separated as strychnia. I wrote the letter in my own

_Dr. Rees_ and _Professor Brande_ briefly but decidedly confirmed the
statements, and coincided with the opinions expressed by Dr. Taylor,
the latter witness speaking as to an experiment made by him to test the
accuracy of the previous one, with reference to the supposed presence
of antimony, which enabled him to state positively that that poison was
isolated by it. _Professor Christison_, of the University of Edinburgh,
author of the well-known treatise on poisons, was then called, and gave
the following evidence:—

 _Professor Christison_ said:—“I am a fellow of the Royal College
 of Physicians and Professor of Materia Medica to the University of
 Edinburgh; I am also the author of a work on the subject of poisons,
 and I have directed a good deal of attention to strychnia. In my
 opinion it acts by absorption into the blood, and through that upon
 the nervous system. I have seen its effects upon a human subject,
 but not a fatal case. I have seen it tried upon pigs, rabbits,
 cats, and one wild boar. (A laugh.) I first directed my attention
 to this poison in 1820, in Paris. It had been discovered two years
 before in Paris. In most of my experiments upon animals I gave very
 small doses—a sixth of a grain; but I once administered a grain. I
 cannot say how small a dose would cause the death of an animal by
 administration into the stomach. I generally applied it by injection
 through an incision in the cavity of the chest. A sixth part of a
 grain so administered killed a dog in two minutes. I once administered
 to a rabbit, through the stomach, a dose of a grain. I saw Dr. Taylor
 administer three-quarters of a grain to a rabbit, and it was all
 swallowed except a very small quantity. The symptoms are nearly the
 same in rabbits, cats, and dogs. The first is a slight tremor and
 unwillingness to move; then frequently the animal jerks its head
 back slightly; soon after that all the symptoms of tetanus come on
 which have been so often described by the previous witnesses. When
 the poison is administered by the stomach death generally takes place
 between a period of five minutes and five and twenty minutes after
 the symptoms first make their appearance. I have frequently opened
 the bodies of animals thus killed, and have never been able to trace
 any effect of the poison upon the stomach or intestines, or upon the
 spinal cord or brain, that I could attribute satisfactorily to the
 poison. The heart of the animal generally contained blood in all the
 cases in which I have been concerned. In the case of the wild boar the
 poison was injected into the chest. A third of a grain was all that
 was used, and in ten minutes the symptoms began to show themselves.
 If strychnia was administered in the form of a pill it might be
 mixed with other ingredients that would protract the period of its
 operation. This would be the case if it were mixed with resinous
 materials, or any materials that were difficult of digestion, and
 such materials would be within the knowledge of any medical men, and
 they are frequently used for the purpose of making ordinary pills.
 Absorption in such a case would not commence until the pill was
 broken down by the process of digestion. In the present state of our
 knowledge of the subject I do not think it is possible to fix the
 precise time when the operation of the poison commences on a human
 subject. In the case of an animal we take care that it is fasting,
 and we mix the poison with ingredients that are readily soluble, and
 in every circumstance favourable for the development of the poison.
 I have seen many cases of tetanus arising from wounds and other
 causes. The general symptoms of the disorder very nearly resemble each
 other, and in all the natural forms of tetanus the symptoms begin
 and advance much more slowly, and they prove fatal much more slowly,
 and there is no intermission in certain forms of natural tetanus. In
 tetanus from strychnia there are short intermissions. I have heard
 the evidence of what took place at the ‘Talbot Arms’ on the Monday
 and Tuesday, and the result of my experience induces me to come to
 the conclusion that the symptoms exhibited by the deceased were only
 attributable to strychnia, or the four poisons containing it: namely,
 nux vomica, St. Ignatius’s bean, snakewood, and a draught poison
 called “exhetwick.”[52] There is no natural disease of any description
 that I am acquainted with to which I could refer these symptoms. In
 cases of tetanus consciousness remains to the very last moment. When
 death takes place in a human subject by spasm it tends to empty the
 heart of blood. When death is the consequence of the administration of
 strychnia, if the quantity is small, I should not expect to find any
 trace in the body after death. If there was an excess of quantity more
 than was required to cause the death by absorption, I should expect to
 find that excess in the stomach. The colour tests for the detection of
 the presence of strychnia are uncertain. Vegetable poisons are more
 difficult of detection than mineral ones, and there is one poison with
 which I am acquainted for which no known test has been discovered.
 The stomach of the deceased was sent in a very unsatisfactory state
 for examination, and there must have been a considerable quantity
 of strychnia in the stomach to have enabled any one to detect its
 presence under such circumstances.”

 _Cross-examined by Mr. Grove._—“The experiments I refer to were made
 many years ago. In one instance I tried one of the colour tests in
 the case of a man who was poisoned by strychnia, but I failed to
 discover the presence of the poison in the stomach. I tried the test
 for the development of the violet colour by means of sulphuric acid
 and oxide of lead. From my own observation I should say that animals
 destroyed by strychnia die of asphyxia, but in my work, which has been
 referred to, it will be seen that I have left the question open.”

Some further questions were put to the witness by the learned counsel
for the prisoner in reference to opinions expressed by him in his work,
and he explained that this work was written twelve years ago, and that
the experience he had since obtained had modified some of the opinions
he then entertained.

 _Cross-examination continued._—“I have not noticed that in cases
 where a patient is suffering from strychnia the slightest touch
 appears to bring on the paroxysm. It is very remarkable in the case
 of animals, unless you touch them very gently indeed. Strychnia has a
 most intensely bitter taste. It is said on the authority of a French
 chemist that a grain will give a taste to more than a gallon of water.
 If resinous substances were used in the formation of a pill it does
 not follow that they would necessarily be found in the stomach; they
 might be passed off.”

 _By the Attorney-General._—“One of the cases quoted in the work that
 has been referred to was that of a gamekeeper, who was found dead;
 his head was thrown back, his hands were clenched, and his limbs were
 rigid. A paper containing strychnia was found in his pocket, and upon
 a _post-mortem_ examination, there were indications which, under the
 circumstances, satisfied me of the existence of strychnia. There was a
 substance in the body of an intensely bitter taste, which was tested
 by the colour test, and it succeeded in one instance, but failed in
 another. It appears that colour tests are not to be relied upon in
 the case of strychnia in an impure condition: in the first place, you
 may not find indication of strychnia: and, secondly, they are subject
 to fallacy even if the strychnia is pure from other substances not
 containing strychnia presenting similar appearances.”

With the _examination_ of this witness, the medical and scientific
evidence for the prosecution was closed.


The conflict in the testimony given by scientific experts in this
case, will be more clearly shown if, instead of deferring it to its
original position, after the speech for the defence, the evidence of
the eminent medical men and analysts is at once contrasted with that
of those called for the prosecution. The two points mainly in contest
were, (1.) Were the symptoms in Cook’s case such as could only be
produced by _strychnia_, or could they have arisen from other diseases,
and especially from one of the forms of ordinary _tetanus_? (2.) If
strychnia had been given, could it not have been discovered by chemical
analysis?[53] Under the _first_ head came the consideration of Cook’s
mode of life and general state of health, and his excitement at the
victory of his horse at such a critical period of his fortunes, as
predisposing causes to one or other of the various diseases to which
the witnesses for the defence were prepared to attribute the symptoms
and the result. Under the _second_, the success that uniformly attended
such analysts as Mr. Herapath in detecting, even twenty times less than
the fiftieth part of a grain of strychnia, and the inference that as
it was not discovered by such eminent analysts as Dr. Taylor and Dr.
Rees, that none had been given. If this inference was fair, it would
follow that, however mysterious the causes of the death of Cook might
have been, and the symptoms of his attacks difficult of being referred
to any known form of disease, yet it was not proved that he died of
strychnia, and that therefore Palmer was entitled to an acquittal.
“According to the witnesses for the Crown,” said Serjeant Shee, “the
poison of strychnia is of that nature, that when it has done its fatal
work, and become absorbed into the system, it ceases to be the thing
it was when it was taken into the system; it becomes decomposed, its
elements separated from each other, and, therefore, no longer capable
of responding to the tests which, according to Taylor, would certainly
detect the presence of undecomposed strychnia. They account for the
fact that it is not detected, and for their still believing that it
destroyed Mr. Cook, by this hypothesis. Now it is only an hypothesis:
there is no foundation for it in experiment: it is not supported by the
evidence of any eminent toxicologists but themselves; it was the theory
of Dr. Taylor, which he propounds in his book—but he propounds it as
a theory of his own; he does not vouch, as I remember, any eminent
toxicologist in support of it.”

Against this theory, among other eminent men, the defence called _Mr.
Nunneley_, of Leeds, who had assisted Mr. Morley (previously called for
the prosecution) in the case of Mrs. Dove, _Dr. Letheby_, the medical
officer of health of the city of London, and _Mr. William Herapath_.
Of these three experts it will be advisable to give the evidence at
some length, contenting oneself with summarising that of the other
scientific witnesses who agreed with them in rejecting, as a scientific
heresy, the hypothesis of Dr. Taylor.

The evidence of _Mr. Nunneley_ covered both points—the character of
Cook’s symptoms and the discovery of strychnia. “He had been, he said,
in large practice for more than twenty-five years, and had seen four
cases of _idiopathic tetanus_, all of which did not commence with
lockjaw; in one of them lockjaw not becoming so marked as to prevent
the person from swallowing once during the disease.”

 “I assume,” said the witness, “that Cook was a man of very delicate
 constitution; that for a long time he had felt himself ailing, for
 which indisposition he had been under medical treatment; that he had
 suffered from syphilis; that he had disease of the lungs, and an old
 standing disease of the throat; that he led an irregular life; that
 he was subject to mental depression and excitement, and that after
 death appearances were found in his body to show this to have been
 the case. There was an unusual appearance in the stomach. The throat
 was in an unnatural condition. The back of the tongue showed similar
 indications. The air vessels of the lungs were dilated. In the lining
 of the aorta there was an unnatural deposit, and there was an unusual
 appearance in the membranes of the spinal marrow. One of the witnesses
 also said there was a loss of substance from the penis. That scar on
 it could only have resulted from an ulcer. A chancre is an ulcer, but
 an ulcer is not necessarily a chancre. The symptoms at the root of the
 tongue and throat I should ascribe to syphilitic inflammation of the
 throat. _Supposing these symptoms to be correct_” (_which they were
 not_), “I should infer that Cook’s health had not for a long time been
 good, and that his constitution was delicate. His father and mother
 died young. _Supposing that to have been his state of health_, it
 would make him liable to nervous irritation. That might be excited by
 moral causes. Any excitement or depression might produce that effect.
 A person of _such_ health and constitution would be more susceptible
 of the injurious influence of wet and cold than one of a stronger
 one. Upon _such a constitution_ convulsive disease is more likely to
 supervene. I understand he had three attacks on succeeding nights,
 occurring about the same hour. As a medical man I should infer from
 this that they were of a convulsive character—_in the absence of
 other causes to account for_ them. Convulsive attacks are as various
 as possible in their forms and degrees of violence: it is not possible
 to give a definite name to every convulsive symptom. There are some
 forms of convulsion in which the patient retains consciousness. Those
 are forms of hysteria, sometimes found in the male sex. It is also
 stated that there are forms of epilepsy in which the patient retains

 _To Lord Campbell._—“_I cannot mention a case in which consciousness
 has been retained during the fit. No such case has come under my

 _Examination continued._—“I know from reading that, though rarely,
 it does sometimes occur. The degree of consciousness in epilepsy
 varies very much. In some attacks it is wholly lost for a long time.
 Convulsive attacks are sometimes accompanied by violent spasms and
 rigidity of the limbs—they sometimes assume tetanic complexion.
 I agree with Dr. Copland that convulsions arise from almost any
 cause. Affections of the spinal cord, or eating indigestible food,
 will produce them. I know of no case in which they resulted from
 retching and vomiting. I agree with Dr. Copland that they sometimes
 end immediately in death. The immediate proximate cause of death is
 frequently asphyxia. Death from spasm of the heart is often described
 as death by asphyxia. I have seen convulsions recurring—in various
 cases. The time at which a patient recovers his ease after a violent
 attack of convulsions varies very much. It may be a few minutes, it
 may be hours. From an interval between one convulsion and another I
 should infer that the convulsions arose from slight irritation in the
 brain or the spinal cord. When death takes place in such paroxysms
 there is sometimes no trace of organic disease to be found by a
 _post-mortem_ examination. _Granules between the_ DURA MATER _and
 the_ ARACHNOID _are not common at any age. I should not draw any
 particular inference from their appearance. They might or might not
 lead to a conjecture as to their cause and effect. I do not form any
 opinion upon these points._ They might produce an effect upon the
 spinal cord. There are three preparations in museums where granules
 are exhibited in the spinal cord, in which the patients are said to
 have died from tetanus. Those are at St. Thomas’s Hospital.[54] To
 ascertain the nature and effect of such granules the spinal cord ought
 to be examined immediately after death. Not the most remote opinion
 could be formed upon an examination made two months after death, more
 especially if the brain had been previously opened. Independently of
 the appearance of granules, it would not after that period be possible
 to form a satisfactory opinion upon the general condition of the
 spinal cord. If there were a large tumour, or some similar change,
 it might be exhibited; but neither softening nor induration of the
 structure could be perceived. The nervous structure changes within two
 days of death. To ascertain minutely its condition it is necessary
 to use a lens or microscope. That is required in an examination made
 immediately after death. I have attended cases of _traumatic tetanus_.
 That disease commonly begins with an attack upon the jaw. One of the
 cases of _idiopathic tetanus_ that I have seen was my own child. In
 three of those cases the disease began with lockjaw. The fourth case
 commenced in the body, the facility of swallowing remaining. I have
 within the last twelve months made _post-mortem_ examinations of two
 persons who had died from strychnia. I did not see the patients before
 death. In both cases I ascertained by chemical analysis that death
 had been caused by strychnia. In both I found the strychnia. In one
 case—that of a lady aged twenty-eight years—I made my examination
 forty-two hours after death, and in the other thirty hours. In the
 former case the body had not been opened before I commenced my
 examination.” [The witness read a report of this examination, in
 which it was stated that the eyelids were partially open, the globes
 flaccid, and the pupils dilated. The muscles of the trunk were not in
 the least rigid; indeed, they were so soft that the body might be bent
 in any direction. The muscles at the hip and shoulder joints were not
 quite so flaccid, but they allowed these joints to be easily moved;
 while those of the head and neck, forearms, &c., were rigid. The
 fingers were curved, and the feet somewhat arched. All the muscles,
 when cut into, were found soft and dark in colour. The membranes
 of the liver were exceedingly vascular. The membrane of the spinal
 cord was much congested. There was bloody serum in the pericardium;
 the lungs were distended, and some of the air cells were ruptured.
 The lining membrane of the trachea and bronchial tubes was covered
 with a layer of dark bloody mucus of a dark chocolate colour. The
 thoracic vessels and membranes were much congested, and the blood was
 everywhere dark and fluid.] After reading this report the witness
 continued:—“In the second case I made my examination thirty hours
 after death. I first saw the body about twelve hours after death. It
 was a woman somewhere near twenty years of age.” [The witness also
 read the report of the examination in this case. The appearances
 of the body were substantially similar to those presented in the
 previous case.] “In two other cases I have seen a patient suffering
 from over doses of strychnia. Neither of those cases was fatal. In
 one case I had prescribed the twelfth of a grain, and the patient
 took one-sixth. That was for a man of middle age. Strychnia had been
 given in solution. In a few minutes the symptoms appeared. They were
 a want of power to control the muscles, manifested by twitchings,
 rigidity, and cramp, more violent in the legs than in any other part
 of the body. The spasms were not very violent. They continued six
 hours before they entirely disappeared. During that time they were
 intermittent at various intervals. As the attack passed off the
 length of the intervals increased. At first their length was but a
 few seconds. The spasms were not combated by medical treatment.
 The other case was a very similar one. The quantity taken was the
 same—double what I had prescribed. I have experimented upon upwards
 of sixty animals with strychnia. Those animals were dogs, cats, rats,
 mice, guinea pigs, frogs, and toads. The symptoms of the attack in
 all animals present great resemblances. Some animals are, however,
 much more susceptible of its influence than others are. The period
 elapsing between the injection of the poison and the commencement of
 the symptoms has been from two minutes to thirty,—more generally five
 or six. I administered the poison occasionally in solution, but more
 generally in its solid state. It was sometimes placed dry upon the
 back of the tongue, and some fluid poured down the throat; sometimes
 it was enclosed between two portions of meat; sometimes mixed up with
 butter or suet, and sometimes rolled up in a small piece of gut. To
 frogs and toads it was administered by putting them into a solution of
 strychnia. I have also applied it direct to the spinal cord, and in
 other cases to the brain. The first symptom has been a desire to be
 quite still; then hurried breathing; then slavering at the mouth (when
 the poison had been given through that organ); then twitching of the
 ears, trembling of the muscles, inability to walk, convulsions of all
 the muscles of the body, the jaws being generally firmly closed; the
 convulsions attended by a total want of power in the muscles, which on
 the least touch were thrown into violent spasms with a galvanic-like
 shock. Spasms also come on if the animal voluntarily attempts to move;
 that is usually the case, but occasionally the animal is able to move
 without inducing a recurrence of the spasms. These spasms recur at
 various periods, but do not always increase in violence. The animals
 die after periods varying from three hours to three hours and a half.
 In the cases where the animals live longest, the paroxysms occur at
 the longest intervals. In all cases in the interval before death
 the rigidity ceases (I know no exception to this) and the muscles
 become quite soft, powerless, and flaccid. The limbs may be put in
 any position whatever. There is but little difference from ordinary
 cases of convulsive death in the time at which the _rigor mortis_
 comes on. I have destroyed animals with other poisons, and there is
 very little difference between the rigidity in their cases and that in
 the cases of death from strychnia. In the two women I have mentioned
 the _rigor mortis_ was much less than is usual in cases of death
 from natural disease. I have known fatal cases of poisoning animals
 by strychnia in which there has between the first and the second
 paroxysm been an interval of about half-an-hour, but that is not
 common. I have examined the bodies of upwards of forty animals killed
 by strychnia. I have invariably found the heart full on the right
 side; very generally the left ventricle firmly contracted, and the
 blood usually dark, and often fluid. There is no particular appearance
 about the spine. I have experimented with other poisons upon upwards
 of 3000 animals, and have written upon this subject. It very often
 happens that in the case of animals dying suddenly from poisoning the
 blood is fluid after death. That also happens in cases of sudden death
 from other causes. I have attended to the evidence as to the symptoms
 exhibited by Cook on the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights. The
 symptoms on Sunday night I assume to have been from great excitement.
 Cook described himself as having been very ill, and in such a state
 that he considered himself mad for a few minutes. He stated that
 the cause of this was a noise in the street. These symptoms in the
 three nights I have mentioned, do not resemble those which I have
 seen follow the administration of strychnia. Cook had more power of
 voluntary motion than I have observed in animals under the influence
 of this poison. He sat up in bed, and moved his hands about freely,
 swallowed, talked, and asked to be rubbed and moved, none of which,
 if poisoned by strychnia, could he have done. The sudden accession
 of the convulsions is another reason for believing that they were
 not produced by strychnia. Other reasons for believing that the
 convulsions were not produced by strychnia are their sudden accession
 without the usual premonitory symptoms, the length of time which had
 elapsed between their commencement and the taking of the pills which
 are supposed to have contained poison, and the screaming and vomiting.
 I never knew an animal which had been poisoned with strychnia to vomit
 or scream voluntarily. I apprehend that where there is so much spasm
 of the heart there must be inability to vomit. In the cases related
 in which attempts were made to produce vomiting they did not succeed.
 There is such a case in the 10th volume of the _Journal de Pharmacie_,
 in which an emetic was given without success. The symptoms exhibited
 after death by animals poisoned by strychnia differ materially from
 those presented by the body of Cook. In his case the heart is stated
 to have been empty and uncontracted.”

 _Lord Campbell._—“I do not remember that. I think it was said that it
 was contracted.”

 _Mr. Baron Alderson._-”According to my note, Dr. Harland said that the
 heart was contracted, and contained no blood.”

 _Examination continued._—“The lungs were not congested, nor was the
 brain. In the case of animals which have recovered the paroxysms have
 subsided gradually. I never knew a severe paroxysm followed by a
 long interval of repose. I have experimented upon the discovery of
 strychnia in the bodies of animals in various stages of decomposition,
 from a few hours after death up to the forty-third day, in which
 latter case the body was quite putrid. It has never happened to me
 to fail to discover the poison. I have experimented in about fifteen

 _Question._—“Supposing a person to have died under the influence
 of strychnia poison in the first paroxysm, and his stomach to have
 been taken out and put into a jar on the sixth day after death, must
 strychnia have, by a proper analysis, been found in the body?”

 _Answer._—“Yes. If the strychnia be pure, such as is almost
 invariably found among medical men and druggists, the test is nitric
 acid, which gives a red colour, which in a great measure disappears on
 the addition of protochloride of tin.[55] If the strychnia be pure, it
 does not undergo any change on the addition of sulphuric acid, but on
 the addition of a mixture of bichromate of potash, with several other
 substances it produces a beautiful purple, which changes to varying
 shades until it gets to be a dirty red. There are several other tests.
 In this case the stomach was not, in my opinion, in an unfavourable
 condition for examination. The circumstances attending its position in
 the jar and its removal to London would give a little more trouble,
 but would not otherwise affect the result. If the deceased had died
 from strychnia poison it ought to have been found in the liver,
 spleen, and kidneys. I have seen this poison found in similar portions
 of animals which had been killed by it. I have also seen it found in
 the blood; that was by Mr. Herapath, of Bristol.”

 _Question._—“Could the analyses be defeated or confused by the
 existence in the stomach of any other substance which would produce
 the same colours?”

 _Answer._—“No. Supposing that pyroxanthine and salicine were in
 the parts examined, their existence would not defeat the analysis.
 Pyroxanthine is very unlikely to be found in the stomach. It is one
 of the rarest and most difficult to be obtained. The distinction
 between pyroxanthine and strychnia is quite evident. Pyroxanthine
 changes to a deep purple on the addition of sulphuric acid alone, and
 the bichromate of potash spoils the colour. In strychnia no change is
 produced by sulphuric acid. It requires the addition of the bichromate
 to produce the colour.”

 _Question._—“Supposing the death to have been caused by a dose of
 strychnia, not more than sufficient to destroy the animal, would it
 be so diffused by the process of absorption that you would not be able
 by these tests to detect it in any portion of the system?”

 _Answer._—“No; I believe it would not. That question had occupied my
 attention before I was called upon to give evidence in this trial. My
 reason for stating that strychnia when it has done its work continues
 as strychnia in the system is, that those who say some change takes
 place, argue, that as food undergoes a change, so does poison; it
 becomes decomposed. But the change in food takes place in digestion;
 consequently its traces are not found in the blood. Substances
 like strychnia are absorbed without digestion, and may be obtained
 unchanged from the blood. They may be administered in various ways.”

 _Question._—“In your judgment, will any amount of putrefaction
 prevent the discovery of strychnia?”

 _Answer._—“To say that it is absolutely indestructible would be
 absurd, but within ordinary limits, no. I have found it at the end
 of forty days. The emptier the stomach, the quicker the action of

On _cross-examination_ by the _Attorney-General_, the witness, who,
to judge from the expressions that passed between them, assumed an
antagonistic position to the prosecution, after admitting that perhaps
half of his sixty experiments had been made in conjunction with Mr.
Morley, and spread over thirty years; that some had been made after the
Leeds case, and some in reference to the present, and that he had been
in consultation with the prisoner’s attorney since the case at Leeds,
to whom he had transmitted its details, he thus continued:—

 “The general dose in these experiments was from half a grain to
 two grains; half a grain is sufficient to destroy life in larger
 animals. I have seen both a dog and a cat die of this dose, but not
 always. Some animals as a species are more susceptible than those of
 a different species, and among animals of the same species some are
 more susceptible than others. The symptoms in the experiments I have
 mentioned did not occur after so long a period as an hour. We have had
 to repeat the dose in some instances when half a grain was given. In
 the case of a cat, symptoms of spasm were produced, but the cat did
 not die; she had not swallowed the whole dose. I think I have known
 animals of the cat species killed with half a grain.”

 _Question._—“Have you any doubt of it?”

 _Answer._—“Yes. I think it would be the minimum dose in an old
 strong cat. If given in a fluid state I think a smaller dose
 would suffice. Hurried breathing is one of the first symptoms,
 afterwards there are twitchings and trembling of the muscles and then

 _Question._—“Is there any diversity in the intervals and order of the
 symptoms in animals of the same species?”

 _Answer._—“They certainly do not occur after the same intervals
 of time, but I should say they generally occur in the order I have
 described. There is some difference in the periods at which the
 convulsions take place. Some will die after less convulsions than
 others, but generally after four or five. In one or two instances an
 animal has died after one convulsion. In those instances a dose has
 been given equal in amount to another which has not produced the same
 effect. The order in which the muscles are convulsed varies to some
 extent. The muscles of the limbs are generally affected first. The
 convulsions generally occur simultaneously.”

 _Question._—“Do you know of any case of strychnia in which rigidity
 after death was greater than the usual _rigor mortis_?”

 _Answer._—“I think not. I don’t think there is any peculiar rigidity
 produced by strychnia.”

 _Question._—“Have you never found undue rigidity in a human subject
 after death by strychnia?”

 _Answer._—“Considerably less.”

 _Question._-”In the anonymous case (the Leeds), were not the hands
 curved and the feet arched by muscular contraction?”

 _Answer._—“Not more than is usual in cases of death from ordinary
 causes. The limbs were rigid, but not more than usual.”

 _Question._—“In the face of the medical profession I ask you whether
 you signed a report stating that ‘the hands were curved and the feet
 decidedly arched by muscular contraction,’ and whether you meant by
 those words that there was no more than the ordinary rigidity of

 _Answer._—“Certainly; I stated so at the time.”

 _Question._—“Where? In the report?”

 _Answer._—“No; in conversation. Allow me to explain that a
 distinction was drawn between the muscles of the different parts of
 the body. I heard Mr. Morley’s evidence with regard to experiments on
 animals, and his statement that ‘after death there was an interval of
 flaccidity, after which rigidity commenced more than if it had been
 occasioned by the usual _rigor mortis_.’”

 _Question._—“You don’t agree with that statement?”

 _Answer._—“I do not. I generally found the right side of the heart

 _Question._—“Does the fact of the heart in Cook’s case having been
 found empty lead you to the conclusion that death was not caused by

 _Answer._—“Among other things, it does. I heard the evidence of Dr.
 Watson as to the case of Agnes Sennett, in which the heart was found
 distended and empty: also of Dr. Taylor, as to the _post-mortem_ of
 Mrs. Smyth. No doubt he stated that the heart in that case was also

 _Question._—“And do those facts exercise no influence on your

 _Answer._—“They would not unless I knew how the _post-mortem_
 examination had been made. If it was commenced at the head, the blood
 being fluid, the large drains would be opened, and the blood, from
 natural causes, would drain away.”

 _Question._—“Do you know how the _post-mortem_ examination was made
 in this case?”

 _Answer._—“No. Excuse me, I do. The chest and the abdomen, not the
 head, were first opened.”

 _Question._—“The heart, then, was not emptied in the first instance?”


 _Question._—“Then what occasioned the contraction of the heart?”

 _Answer._—“When the heart is emptied it is usually contracted.”

 _Question._—“But how do you account for its contraction and

 _Answer._—“I cannot account for it.”

 _Lord Campbell._—“ Would the heart contract if there was blood in it?”


 _Lord Campbell._—“When you find the heart contracted, you know, then,
 that it was contracted at the moment of death?”

 _Answer._—“It is necessary to draw a distinction between the two
 cavities. It is very common to find the left ventricle contracted and
 hard, while the right is uncontracted.”

 _Lord Campbell._—“That is death by asphyxia?”


 _By the Attorney-General._—“In Cook’s case the lungs were described
 as not congested. Entosthema is of two kinds; one of them consists
 of dilation of the cells, the other of a rupture of the cells. When
 animals die from strychnine, entosthema occurs. I do not know the
 character of the entosthema in Cook’s case. It did not occur to me to
 have the question put to the witnesses who described the _post-mortem_

 _Question._—“To what constitutional symptoms about Cook do you
 ascribe the convulsions from which he died?”

 _Answer._—“Not to any.”

 _Question._—“Was not the fact of his having syphilis an important
 ingredient in your judgment upon his case?”

 _Answer._—“It was. I judge that he died from convulsions, by the
 combination of symptoms.”

 _Question._—“What evidence have you to suppose that he was liable to
 excitement and depression of spirits?”

 _Answer._—“The fact that after winning the race he could not speak
 for three minutes.”

 _Question._—“Anything else?”

 _Answer._—“Mr. Jones stated that he was subject to mental depression.
 Excitement will produce a state of brain which will be followed, at
 some distance, by convulsions. I think Dr. Bamford made a mistake when
 he said the brain was perfectly healthy.”

 _Question._—“Do you mean to set up that opinion against that of Dr.
 Devonshire and Dr. Harland, who were present at the _post-mortem_?”

 _Answer._—“My opinion is founded in part on the evidence taken at the
 inquest, in part on the depositions. With the brain and the system in
 the condition in which Cook’s were, I believe it is quite possible
 for convulsions to come on and destroy a person. I do not believe
 that he died from apoplexy. He was under the influence of morphia. I
 don’t ascribe his death to morphia, except that it might assist in
 producing a convulsive attack. I should think morphia was not very
 good treatment, considering the state of excitement he was in.”

 _Question._—“Do you mean to say, on your oath, that you think he was
 in a state of excitement at Rugeley?”

 _Answer._—“I wish to give my evidence honestly. Morphia, when given
 in an injured state of the brain, often disagrees with the patient.”

 _Question._—“But what evidence have you as to the injured state of
 the brain?”

 _Answer._—“Sickness often indicates it. I can’t say whether the
 attack of Sunday night was an attack of convulsions. I think that
 the Sunday attack was one of a similar character, but not so intense,
 as the attack of Tuesday, in which he died. I don’t think he had
 convulsions on the Sunday, but he was in that condition which often
 precedes convulsions. I think he was mistaken when he stated that
 he was awoke by a noise. I believe he was delirious. That is one of
 the symptoms on which I found my opinion. Any intestinal irritation
 will produce convulsions in a tetanic form. I have known instances in
 children. I have not seen an instance in an animal. Medical writers
 state that such cases do occur. I know no name for convulsions of that

 _Question._—“Have you ever known a case of convulsions of that kind,
 terminating in death, in which the patient remained conscious to the

 _Answer._—“I have not. Where epilepsy terminates in death
 consciousness is gone. I have known four cases of _traumatic_, and
 five or six of _idiopathic tetanus_.”

 _Question._—“You heard Mr. Jones make this statement of the symptoms
 of Cook after the commencement of the paroxysms:—‘After he swallowed
 the pills he uttered loud screams, threw himself back in the bed,
 and was dreadfully convulsed. He said, “Raise me up! I shall be
 suffocated.” The convulsions affected every muscle of the body, and
 were accompanied by stiffening of the limbs. I endeavoured to raise
 Cook with the assistance of Palmer, but found it quite impossible
 owing to the rigidity of the limbs. When Cook found we could not raise
 him up, he asked me to turn him over. He was then quite sensible. I
 turned him on to his side. I listened to the action of his heart.
 I found that it gradually weakened, and asked Palmer to fetch some
 spirits of ammonia, to be used as a stimulant. When he returned, the
 pulsations of the heart were gradually ceasing, and life was almost
 extinct. Cook died very quietly a very short time afterwards. When he
 threw himself back in bed he clinched his hands, and they remained
 clinched after death. When I was rubbing his neck, his head and neck
 were unnaturally bent back by the spasmodic action of the muscles.
 After death his body was so twisted or bowed that if I had placed it
 upon the back it would have rested upon the head and feet!’ Now, I ask
 you to distinguish in any one particular between those symptoms and
 the symptoms of tetanic convulsions.”

 _Answer._—“_It is not tetanus at all; not idiopathic tetanus._”

 _Question._—“I quite agree with you that it was not _idiopathic
 tetanus_. But point out any distinction that you can see between these
 symptoms and real _tetanus_?”

 _Answer._—“I do not know that there is any distinction, except that
 in a case of _tetanus_ I never saw rigidity continue till death and

 _Question._—“Can you tell me of any case of death from convulsions in
 which the patient was conscious to the last?”

 _Answer._—“I do not know any. Convulsions occurring after poison has
 been taken are properly called tetanic.”

 _Question._—“Sir B. Brodie tells us that while paroxysms of tetanic
 convulsion last there is no difference between those that arise from
 strychnia and those from _tetanus_ properly so called, but only in the
 course the symptoms take. What do you say is the difference?”

 _Answer._—“The hands are less violently contracted; the effect of
 the spasm is less in ordinary _tetanus_; the convulsion, too, never
 entirely passes away. I have stated that _tetanus_ is a disease of
 days, strychnia of hours and minutes; that convulsive twitchings are
 in _strychnia_ the first symptoms, the last in _tetanus_; that in
 _tetanus_ the hands, feet, and legs are usually the last affected,
 while in _strychnia_ they are the first. I gave that opinion after the
 symptoms in the case of the lady at Leeds which were described by the
 witness Witham, and I still adhere to it. I never said that Cook’s was
 a case of _idiopathic tetanus_ in any sense of the word. It differed
 from the course of _tetanus_ from strychnine in the particulars I have
 already mentioned.”

 _The Attorney-General._—“Repeat them.”

 _Answer._—“There was a sudden accession of the convulsions.”

 _Question._—“Sudden—after what?”

 _Answer._—“After the rousing by Jones. There was also the power of

 _Question._—“Don’t you know that Mrs. Smyth talked and retained her
 consciousness to the end: that her last words were, ‘Turn me over’?”

 _Answer._—“She did say something of that kind. No doubt those were
 the words she used. I believe that in poison _tetanus_ the symptoms
 are first observed in the legs and feet. In the animals upon which I
 have experimented twitchings in the ears and difficulty of breathing
 have been premonitory symptoms.”

 _Question._—“When Cook felt a stiffness and difficulty of breathing,
 and said that he should be suffocated on the first night, what were
 they but premonitory symptoms?” (_question evaded_).

 _Answer._—“Well, he asked to be rubbed; but as far as my experience
 goes with regard to animals—--.”

 _The Attorney-General._—“They can’t ask to have their ears rubbed, of

 _Mr. Serjeant Shee._—“The witness was about to explain the effect of
 being rubbed upon animals.”

 _Witness._—“In no single instance could the animals bear to be

 _Question._—“Did not Mrs. Smyth ask to have her arms and legs rubbed?”

 _Answer._—“In the Leeds case the lady asked to be rubbed before the
 convulsions came on, but afterwards she could not bear it, and begged
 not to be touched.”

 _Question._—“Can you point out any one point, after the premonitory
 symptoms, in which the symptoms in this case differ from those of
 strychnia _tetanus_?”

 _Answer._—“There is the power of swallowing, which is taken away by
 inability to move the jaw.”

 _Question._—“But have you not stated that lockjaw is the last symptom
 in strychnia _tetanus_?”

 _Answer._—“I have. I don’t deny that it may be. I am speaking of
 the general rule. In the Leeds case it came on very early, more
 than two hours before death, the paroxysms having continued for two
 and a half hours. In that case we believed the dose was four times
 repeated. Poison might probably be extracted by chemical process from
 the tissues, but I never tried it except in the case of one animal. I
 am not sure whether poison was in that case given through the mouth.
 We killed four animals in reference to the Leeds case, and in every
 instance we found strychnia in the contents of the stomach. In one
 case we administered it by two processes—one failed, and the other

 _Re-examined._—“In making reports on cases such as that referred to
 (Leeds) we state ordinary appearances as well as extraordinary—facts
 without anything more.”

 _Mr. William Herapath, examined by Mr. Grove, Q. C._—“I am a
 professor of chemistry and toxicology at the Bristol Medical
 School—have studied chemistry for more than forty years—toxicology
 for thirty. Have experimented on strychnia; have seen no case of
 a human subject during life, but have examined a human body after
 death. In one case I examined the contents of the stomach, and found
 strychnia three days after death. I obtained evidence of strychnia
 by the colour tests in that case. I have experimented on animals for
 strychnia in eight or nine cases, and analysed the bodies in two cases
 where I destroyed the animals myself—both cats. I gave the first one
 grain of strychnia in a solid form. The animal took the poison at
 night, and I found it dead in the morning. It was dreadfully contorted
 and rigid, the limbs extended, the head turned round—not to the
 back, to the side—the eyes protruding and staring, the iris expanded
 so as to be almost invisible. I found strychnia in the urine which
 had been ejected, and also in the stomach, by the test I mentioned.
 I administered the same quantity of strychnia in a solid form to
 another cat. It remained very quiet for fifteen or twenty minutes, but
 seemed a little restless in the eyes and its breathing. In thirty-five
 minutes it had a terrible spasm, the extremities and the head being
 drawn together and the feet extended. I watched it for three hours.
 The first spasm lasted a minute or two. The saliva dropped from its
 mouth, and it forcibly ejected its urine. It had a second spasm a few
 minutes afterwards. It soon recovered and remained still, with the
 exception of a trembling all over. It continued in that state three
 hours. During two hours and a half it was in a very peculiar state. It
 appeared to be electrified all through; blowing upon it or touching
 the basket in which it was placed produced a kind of electric jump
 like a galvanic shock. I left it in three hours, thinking it would
 recover, but in the morning I found it dead, in the same indurated
 and contorted condition as the former animal. I examined the body
 thirty-six hours after death and found strychnia in the urine, in the
 stomach and in the upper intestine, in the liver, and in the blood of
 the heart. I have discovered strychnia in all other cases by the same
 tests, but I took extraordinary means to get rid of organic matter.
 _In all cases in which strychnia has been given I have been able to
 find it, but not only strychnia, but the nux vomica from which it
 is taken._ I have found nux vomica in a fox and other animals. The
 detection of nux vomica is more complicated than that of strychnia. In
 one case the animal had been buried two months. _I have experimented
 with strychnia mixed purposely with organic putrefying matter. I have
 found it in all cases, whatever was the state of decomposition of the

 _Question._—“_Are you of opinion that where strychnia has been taken
 in a sufficient dose to poison it can and ought to be discovered?_”

 _Answer._—“_Yes; unless the body has been completely decomposed—that
 is, unless decomposition had reduced it to a dry powder. I am
 of opinion, from the accounts given by Dr. Taylor and the other
 witnesses, that if it had existed in the body of Cook it ought to have
 been discovered. I am aware of no cause of error in the analysis, if
 the organic matter had been properly got rid of._ The experiments I
 made were in Bristol. I have made experiments in London, and found
 strychnia in the stomach, liver, and blood of an animal.”

 _Cross-examined by the Attorney-General._—“I don’t profess to be a
 toxicologist. I have principally experimented on the stomach till
 lately. I tried my chemical process on the 8th of this month with
 a view to the present case. The experiment here was on a dog. I
 experimented on the tissues of a cat at Bristol, and a dog in London.
 I found strychnia in the blood, the heart, and the urine of the cat,
 besides the stomach. One grain was given to the dog. It was a large
 dog. I have seen a cat killed with a quarter of a grain.”

 _Question._—“_Have you not said, that you had no doubt strychnia had
 been taken, but that Dr. Taylor had not gone the right way to find

 _Answer._—“No; certainly not.”

 _Question._—“Have you not said it to the present Mayor of Bristol?”

 _Answer._—“I have said, if it was there Dr. Taylor ought to have
 found it.”

 _Question._—“Have you not said several times in his presence that you
 had no doubt strychnia had been given, but that Dr. Taylor had not
 found it?”

 _Answer._—“I had a strong opinion from the reports in the newspapers;
 it is very likely I might. I don’t deny it.”

 _To Lord Campbell._—“From the statements I saw in the newspapers: I
 was not engaged in the case, and I conceived I had a right to express
 an opinion, the same as others. I dare say I have frequently said so
 in conversation. Hundreds of persons spoke to me, knowing I had made
 toxicology a study, and it is possible I may have said something like
 what you ask me about.”[57]

 _Re-examined by Mr. Grove._—“What is the smallest quantity of
 strychnia that your process is capable of detecting?”

 _Answer._—“_I am perfectly sure I could detect the 50,000th part of
 a grain if it was unmixed with organic matter. If I put ten grains in
 a gallon, or 70,000 grains of water, I could discover its presence
 in the tenth part of a grain of that water._ It is more difficult to
 detect when mixed with organic matter. If a person had taken a grain,
 a very small quantity would be found in the heart, but no doubt it
 could be found. I made four experiments with a large dog to which I
 had given the one-eighth part of a grain. _I have discovered it by
 change of colour in the thirty-second part of the liver of a dog._”

In reply to a request by Mr. Grove, Lord Campbell intimated that in the
opinion of the Court experiments could not now be shown. This defect of
evidence has been cured by the Vivisection Act, before referred to.

 _Dr. Henry Letheby, examined by Mr. Kenealy._—“I am a bachelor of
 medicine, professor of chemistry and toxicology in the London Hospital
 of Medicine, and Medical Officer of Health to the City of London. I
 have been engaged for a considerable time in the study of poisons and
 their action on the living animal economy. I have also been frequently
 engaged on behalf of the Crown in prosecutions in cases of this
 nature during the last fourteen years. I have been present during
 the examination of the medical witnesses, and have attended to the
 evidence as to the symptoms which have been described as attending
 the death of Cook. I have witnessed many cases of animals poisoned
 by strychnia, and many cases of poisoning by nux vomica in the human
 body, one of which was fatal. The symptoms described in this case do
 not accord with the symptoms I have witnessed in the case of those
 animals. They differ in this respect:—In the first place I never
 witnessed the long interval between the administration of the poison
 and the commencement of the symptoms which is said to have elapsed in
 this case. The longest interval I have known has been three-quarters
 of an hour, and then the poison was administered under most
 disadvantageous circumstances. It was given on a very full stomach
 and in a form uneasy of solution. I have seen the symptoms begin in
 five minutes. The average time in which they begin is a quarter of an
 hour. In all cases I have seen the system has been in that irritable
 state that the very lightest excitement, such as an effort to move,
 a touch, a noise, a breath of air, would send the patient off in
 convulsions. It is not at all probable that a person, after taking
 strychnia, could pull a bell violently. Any movement would excite
 the nervous system, and bring on spasms. It is not likely that a
 person in that state could bear to have his neck rubbed. When a case
 of strychnia does not end fatally, the first paroxysm is succeeded
 by others, gradually shaded off, the paroxysms becoming less violent
 every time, and I agree with Dr. Christison that they would subside
 in twelve or sixteen hours. I have no hesitation in saying that
 strychnia is, of all poisons, either mineral or vegetable, the most
 easy of detection. I have detected it in the stomach of animals in
 numerous instances, also in the blood and in the tissues. The longest
 period after death in which I have detected it is about a month. The
 animal was then in a state of decomposition. I have detected very
 minute portions of strychnia. When it is pure, the 20,000th part
 of a grain can be detected. I can detect the tenth part of a grain
 most easily in a pint of any liquid, whether pure or putrid. I gave
 one animal half a grain, and I have the strychnia here now within a
 very small trifle. I never failed to detect strychnia where it had
 been administered. I have made _post-mortem_ examinations on various
 animals killed by it. I have always found the right side of the heart
 full. The reason is that the death takes place from the fixing of the
 muscles of the chest by spasms, so that the blood is unable to pass
 through the lungs, and the heart cannot relieve itself from the blood
 flowing to it, and therefore becomes gorged. The lungs are congested
 and filled with blood. I have administered strychnia in a liquid and a
 solid form; I agree with Dr. Taylor that it may kill in six or eleven
 minutes when taken in a solid state in the form of a pill or bolus. I
 also agree with him that the first symptom is that the animal falls
 on its side, the jaws are spasmodically closed, and the slightest
 touch produces another paroxysm. But I do not agree with him that the
 colour tests are fallacious. I do not agree that it is changed when it
 is absorbed into the blood, but I agree with its absorption. I think
 it is not changed when the body is decomposed. The shaking about of
 the contents of the stomach with the intestines in a jar, would not
 prevent the discovery of strychnia, if it had been administered. Even
 if the contents of the stomach were lost, the mucous membrane would,
 in the ordinary course of things, exhibit traces of strychnia. I have
 studied the poison of antimony. If a quantity had been introduced into
 brandy-and-water, and swallowed at a gulp, the effect would not be to
 burn the throat. Antimony does not possess any such quality as that of
 immediate burning. I have turned my attention to the subject of poison
 for seventeen or eighteen years.”

 _Cross-examined by the Attorney-General._—“I am not a member of the
 College of Physicians or of Surgeons. I do not now practise. I have
 been in general practice for two or three years. _I gave evidence in
 the last case of this sort, tried in this court in 1850_” (the case
 of Ann Merritt). “_I gave evidence of the presence of arsenic. The
 woman was convicted. I stated that it had been administered within
 four hours of death. I was the cause of her being respited, and the
 sentence was not carried into effect, in consequence of a letter I
 wrote to the Home Office. Other scientific gentlemen interfered, and
 challenged the soundness of my conclusions before I wrote that letter.
 I have not since been employed by the Crown. There has not been a case
 that I know of. I have been employed in prosecutions._”

 _By Mr. Justice Cresswell._—“I was present at the trial. I perfectly
 remember it.” (See the report of this case, _post_.)

 _Cross-examination continued._—“I detected the poison. I said in my
 letter that I could not speak as to possibilities, but merely as to
 probabilities. I have experimented on animals for a great number of
 years. On five recently. I have never given more than a grain, and it
 has always been in a solid form—in pills or bread. In the case where
 poison was administered under disadvantageous circumstances it was
 kneaded up into a hard mass of bread.”

 _Mr. Baron Alderson._—“Did the animal bolt it or bite it?”

 _Witness._—“I opened the mouth and put it into the throat. About half
 an hour elapsed before the symptoms appeared in one case in which
 half a grain had been given. In another case death took place within
 thirteen minutes. I have noticed twitching of the ears, difficulty
 of breathing, and other premonitory symptoms. There are little
 variations in the order in which the symptoms occur. I have known
 frequent instances in which an animal has died in the first paroxysm.
 I heard the evidence of Mrs. Smyth’s death, and I was surprised at her
 having got out of bed when the servant answered the bell. It is not
 consistent with the cases I have seen. That fact does not shake my
 opinion. I have no doubt that Mrs. Smyth died from strychnia. Cook’s
 sitting up in bed and asking Jones to ring the bell is inconsistent
 with what I have observed in strychnia cases.”

 _Question._—“If a man’s breath is hurried, is it not natural for him
 to sit up?”

 _Answer._—“It is. I have seen cases of recovery of human subjects
 after taking strychnia. There is a great uniformity in its effects;
 that is, in their main features, but there is a small variation as to
 the time in which they are produced.”

 _Question._—“What do you attribute Cook’s death to?”

 _Answer._—“It is irreconcileable with everything with which I am

 _Question._—“Is it reconcileable with any known disease you have ever
 seen or heard of?”


 _Re-examined by Mr. Serjeant Shee._—“We are learning new facts every
 day, and I do not at present conceive it to be impossible that some
 peculiarity of the spinal cord, unrecognisable at the examination
 after death, may have produced symptoms like those which have been
 described. I, of course, include strychnia in my answer, but it is
 irreconcileable with everything I have seen or heard of. It is as
 irreconcileable with everything else; it is irreconcileable with
 every disease that I am acquainted with, natural or artificial.
 Touching an animal during the premonitory symptoms will bring on a
 paroxysm. Vomiting is inconsistent with strychnia. The Romsey case
 was an exceptional one, from the quantity of the dose. The ringing of
 the bell would have produced a paroxysm. I am still of opinion that
 the evidence I gave on the trial in 1851 is correct. I am not aware
 that there is any ground for an imputation upon me in respect of
 that evidence. I have no reason to think Government was dissatisfied
 with me. _I have been since employed in prosecutions, where I very
 much think the Crown was the prosecutor. After that case Dr. Pereira
 came to my laboratory, and asked me, as an act of mercy, to write a
 letter to him to show to the Home Office, admitting the possibility
 of the poison which I found in the stomach having been administered
 longer than four hours before death. I wrote the letter, drawing a
 distinction between what was possible and probable, and the woman was
 transported for life._”

In addition to these analytical chemists, Professor Rogers, of the St.
George’s Medical School, London, described an experiment he had lately
made on a dog to which he had given two grains of strychnia. He had
not taken out its stomach and its contents, together with some of the
blood, until three days after death, and had put off the analysis of
the latter for _ten_ days, when it had become putrid, and that of the
stomach and its contents for a month or five weeks, yet found in both
portions strychnia in large quantities. This witness maintained that
unless the contents of the stomach in Cook’s case had been lost, their
being shaken would only make the process of detection more difficult,
but admitted that if strychnia had been in his stomach it would be
found smeared over its mucous membrane, which, it may be remembered,
was not sent to Dr. Taylor.

_Dr. Francis Wrightson_, a pupil of Liebig, of Giessen, a teacher of
chemistry at a school in Birmingham, described two similar experiments
on animals, with the same results as Professor Rogers. He expressed his
decided opinion that strychnia could be detected in a mixture of bile,
bilious matter, and putrifying blood and in the tissues in extremely
minute quantities indeed, and that five or six days after death he
should expect to find it, if it had been given—unless the dose had
been entirely absorbed. The clearness and decision with which this
witness gave his evidence elicited the well-deserved commendation of
Lord Campbell. On _cross-examination_ by the _Attorney-General_, he was

 _Question._—“Supposing that the whole dose was absorbed into the
 system, where would you expect to find it?”

 _Answer._—“In the blood.”

 _Question._—“Does it pass from the blood into the solids of the body?”

 _Answer._—“It does, or I should rather say it is left in the solids
 of the body. In its progress towards its final destination, the
 destruction of life, it passes from the blood, or is left by the blood
 in the solid tissues of the body.”

 _Question._—“If it be present in the stomach, you find it in the
 stomach; if it be present in the blood, you find it there; if left by
 the blood in the tissues, you find it there?”

 _Answer._—“Precisely so.”

 _Question._—“Suppose the whole had been absorbed.”

 _Answer._—“Then I would not undertake to find it.”

 _Question._—“Suppose the whole had been eliminated from the blood,
 and had passed into the urine, should you expect to find it in the

 _Answer._—“Certainly not.”

 _Question._—“Suppose the minimum dose which will destroy life had
 been taken, and absorbed into the circulation, then deposited in the
 tissues, and then a part eliminated by the action of the kidneys;
 where would you search for it?”

 _Answer._—“In the blood, in the tissues, and in the ejections; and I
 would undertake to discover it in each of them.”

_Mr. Partridge_, the professor of Anatomy at King’s College, gave the
following evidence, attributing the death of Cook to the granules found
on his spine at the _post-mortem_ examination:—

 “These granules,” said the witness, “would be likely to cause
 inflammation, and no doubt that inflammation would have been
 discovered if the spinal cord or its membranes had been examined
 shortly after death. It would not be likely to be discovered if the
 spinal cord was not examined until nine weeks after death. I have
 not seen cases in which this inflammation has produced tetanic form
 of convulsions, but such cases are on record. It sometimes does, and
 sometimes does not produce convulsions and death.”

 _Question._—“Can you form any judgment as to the cause of death in
 Cook’s case?”

 _Answer._—“I cannot. No conclusion or inference can be drawn from the
 degree or kind of the contractions of the body after death.”

 _Lord Campbell._—“Can you not say from the symptoms you heard whether
 death was produced by _tetanus_, without saying what was the cause of

 _Answer._—“Hypothetically I should infer that he died of the form of
 _tetanus_ which convulses the muscles. Great varieties of rigidity
 arise after death from natural causes. The half-bent hands and fingers
 are not uncommon after natural death. The arching of the feet in this
 case seemed to me rather greater than usual.”

 _Cross-examined by the Attorney-General._—“Granules are sometimes,
 but not commonly, found about the spine of a healthy subject,—not
 on the cord itself; they may exist consistently with health. No
 satisfactory cases of the inflammation I have described have come
 under my notice without producing convulsions. It is a very rare
 disease. I cannot state from the recorded cases the course of the
 symptoms of that disease. It varies in duration, sometimes lasting
 only for days, sometimes much longer. If the patient lives it is
 accompanied with paralysis. It produces no effect on the brain which
 is recognisable after death. It would not affect the brain prior to
 death. I do not know whether it is attended with loss of sensibility
 before death. The size of the granules which will produce it varies.
 This disease is not a matter of months, unless it terminates in palsy.
 I never heard of a case in which the patient died after a single
 convulsion. Between the intervals of the convulsions I don’t believe
 a man could have twenty-four hours’ repose. Pain and spasms would
 accompany the convulsions. I cannot form a judgment as to whether the
 general health would be affected in the intervals between them.”

 _Question._—“You have heard it stated that from the midnight of
 Monday till Tuesday Cook had complete repose. Now, I ask you, in the
 face of the medical profession, whether you think the symptoms which
 have been described proceeded from that disease?”

 _Answer._—“I should think not.”

 _Question._—“Did you ever know the hands completely clinched after
 death except in case of tetanus?”


 _Question._—“Have you ever known it even in _idiopathic_ or
 _traumatic tetanus_?”

 _Answer._—“I have never seen _idiopathic tetanus_. I have seen the
 hands completely clinched in _traumatic tetanus_. A great deal of
 force is often required to separate them.”

 _Question._—“Have you ever known the feet so distorted as to assume
 the form of a club foot?”


 _Question._—“You heard Mr. Jones state that if he had turned the body
 upon the back it would have rested on the head and the heels. Have you
 any doubt that that is an indication of death from tetanus?”

 _Answer._—“No; it is a form of tetanic spasm. I am only acquainted
 with _tetanus_ resulting from strychnia by reading. Some of the
 symptoms in Cook’s case are consistent, some are inconsistent with
 strychnia _tetanus_. The first inconsistent symptom is the intervals
 that occurred between the taking of the supposed poison and the

 _Question._—“Are not symptoms of bending of the body, difficulty of
 respiration, convulsions in the throat, legs, and arms, perfectly
 consistent with what you know of the symptoms of death from strychnia?”

 _Answer._—“Perfectly consistent. I have known cases of _traumatic
 tetanus_. The symptoms in those cases had been occasionally remitted,
 never wholly terminated. I never knew _traumatic tetanus_ run its
 course to death in less than three or four days. I never knew a
 complete case of the operation of strychnia upon a human subject.”

 _Question._—“Bearing in mind the distinction between _traumatic_ and
 _idiopathic tetanus_, did you ever know of such a death as that of
 Cook according to the symptoms you have heard described?”


 _Re-examined by Mr. Grove._—“Besides the symptom which I have
 mentioned as being inconsistent with the theory of death by strychnia,
 there are others—namely, sickness, beating the bed clothes, want
 of sensitiveness to external impressions, and sudden cessation of
 the convulsions and apparent complete recovery. There was apparently
 an absence of the usual muscular agitation. Symptoms of convulsive
 character arising from an injury to the spine vary considerably in
 their degrees of violence, in their periods of intermission, and in
 the muscles which are attacked. Intermission of the disease occurs,
 but is not frequent in _traumatic tetanus_. I don’t remember that
 death has ever taken place in fifteen hours; it may take place in
 forty-eight hours during convulsions. Granules about the spine are
 more unusual in young people than in old. I don’t know of any case
 in which the spine can preserve its integrity, so as to be properly
 examined, for a period of nine weeks. I should not feel justified in
 inferring that there was no disease from not finding any at the end
 of that time. The period of decomposition varies from a few hours to
 a few days. It is not in the least probable that it could be delayed
 for nine weeks.”

 _By the Attorney-General._—“Supposing the stomach were acted on by
 other causes, I do not think sickness would be inconsistent with

With reference to the existence of these granules, _Mr. Oliver
Pemberton_, anatomical lecturer at Queen’s College, Birmingham, who was
present with Professor Bolton when Cook’s body was exhumed, in January,
for the special purpose of arriving at a more satisfactory decision
on this point than had been effected at the first _post-mortem_
examination, was called for the defence. He gave it as his opinion, in
which Professor Bolton agreed, that the spinal cord was not then in a
condition to enable him to judge as to what was its state immediately
after death; the upper part, where it separated from the brain, being
green from decomposition, and the other part, though better preserved,
not soft enough for that purpose. This point was, therefore, left in a
far from satisfactory position.

A _Dr. G. Robinson_, of the Newcastle-on-Tyne Dispensary, also
supported the spinal granules theory, and considered that from his
habits of life Cook was predisposed to epilepsy. He admitted, however,
on _cross-examination_, that “he had never seen symptoms of epilepsy
proceed to anything like the extent as in Cook’s case; never saw a
body so stiff in epilepsy as to rest on its head and heels; nor such
symptoms, except in tetanus, and that the extreme form of epilepsy was
always accompanied by unconsciousness.” “The granules,” he thought,
“were likely to have irritated the spinal cord, and yet no indications
remain after death; they might have produced Cook’s death.”

 _Attorney-General._—“But do you think so?”

 _Witness._—“Putting aside the assumption of strychnia, I should say

 _Attorney-General._—“_Are not all the symptoms reported by Mr. Jones
 indicative of death by strychnia?_”

 _Witness._—“_They certainly are._”

 _Attorney-General._—“Then it comes to this, that if there were no
 other cause of death suggested, you should say it arose from epilepsy?”

 _Witness._—“Yes. Epilepsy is a well-known disease which includes many
 others, and the convulsions of that disease sometimes assume tetanic

The last important medical witness called for the defence, _Dr.
Benjamin Ward Richardson_, physician, of London, took the prosecution
somewhat by surprise by attributing Cook’s death to _Angina
pectoris_, a cause not as yet hinted at. As the counsel for the
Crown were not prepared with information requisite for an effective
_cross-examination_ on this point, at the close of the prisoner’s case
the Attorney-General asked leave to recall this witness, as he was then
prepared with the books required for that purpose. The Court, however,
refused the application, and the evidence therefore must be accepted
with caution.

 _Dr. Richardson_ said:—“I am a physician, practising in London. I
 have never seen a case of _tetanus_, properly so called, but I have
 seen many cases of death by convulsions. In many instances they have
 presented tetanic appearances without being strictly tetanus. I have
 seen the muscles fixed, especially those of the upper part of the
 body. I have observed the arms stiffened out, and the hands closely
 and firmly clinched until death. I have also observed a sense of
 suffocation in the patient. In some forms of convulsions I have seen
 contortions both of the legs and the feet, and the patient generally
 expresses a wish to sit up. I have known persons die of a disease
 called angina pectoris. The symptoms of that disease, I consider,
 resemble closely those of Mr. Cook. Angina pectoris comes under the
 denomination of spasmodic diseases. In some cases the disease is
 detectable upon _post-mortem_ examination; in others it is not. I
 attended one case. A girl ten years old was under my care in 1850. I
 supposed she had suffered from scarlet fever. She recovered so far
 that my visits ceased. I left her amused and merry in the morning; at
 half-past ten in the evening I was called in to see her, and I found
 her dying. She was supported upright at her own request, her face
 was pale, the muscles of the face rigid, the arms rigid, the fingers
 clinched, the respiratory muscles completely fixed and rigid, and
 with all this there was combined intense agony and restlessness, such
 as I have never witnessed. There was perfect consciousness. The child
 knew me, described her agony, and eagerly took some brandy and water
 from a spoon. I left for the purpose of obtaining some chloroform from
 my own house, which was thirty yards distant. When I returned her head
 was drawn back, and I could detect no respiration; the eyes were then
 fixed open, and the body just resembled a statue; she was dead. On
 the following day I made a _post-mortem_ examination. The brain was
 slightly congested; the upper part of the spinal cord seemed healthy;
 the lungs were collapsed; the heart was in such a state of firm spasm
 and solidity, and so emptied of blood, that I remarked that it might
 have been rinsed out. I could not discover any appearance of disease
 that would account for the death, except a slight effusion of serum in
 one pleural cavity. I never could ascertain any cause for the death.
 The child went to bed well and merry, and immediately afterwards
 jumped up, screamed, and exclaimed, ‘I am going to die.’”

 _By the Attorney-General._—“I consider that the symptoms I have
 described were those of angina pectoris. It is the opinion of Dr.
 Jenner that this disease is occasioned by the ossification of some of
 the small vessels of the heart. I did not find that to be the case
 in this instance. There have been many cases where no cause whatever
 was discovered. It is called angina pectoris, from its causing such
 extreme anguish to the chest. I do not think the symptoms I have
 described were such as would result from taking strychnia. There is
 this difference,—that rubbing the hands gives ease to the patient in
 cases of angina pectoris. I must say there would be great difficulty
 in detecting the difference in cases of angina pectoris and strychnia.
 As regards symptoms I know of no difference between the two. I am
 bound to say that if I had known so much of these subjects as I do
 now, in the case I have referred to I should have gone on to analysis
 to endeavour to detect strychnia. In the second case I discovered
 organic disease of the heart, which was quite sufficient to account
 for the symptoms. The disease of angina pectoris comes on quite
 suddenly, and does not give any notice of its approach. I did not send
 any note of this case to any medical publication. It is not at all an
 uncommon occurrence to find the hands firmly clinched after death in
 cases of natural disease.”

 _By Mr. Serjeant Shee._—“There are cases of angina pectoris in which
 the patient has recovered and appeared perfectly well for a period of
 twenty-four hours, and then the attack has returned. I am of opinion
 that the fact of the recurrence of the second fit in Cook’s case is
 more the symptom of angina pectoris than of strychnia poison.”[59]

 _Dr. Wrightson_ was recalled, and in answer to a question put by Mr.
 Serjeant Shee he said it was his opinion that when the strychnia
 poison was absorbed in the system it was diffused throughout the
 entire system.

 _By the Attorney-General._—“The longer time that elapsed before the
 death would render the absorption more complete. If a minimum dose to
 destroy life were given, and a long interval elapsed to the death,
 the more complete would be the absorption and the less the chance of
 finding it in the stomach.”

 _By Mr. Serjeant Shee._—“I should expect still to find it in the
 spleen and liver and blood.”


In answer to the cases of undoubted poisoning by strychnia proved on
the part of the prosecution, four cases of _tetanus_ were brought
forward on behalf of the prisoner, with the object of showing that
the symptoms then exhibited were identical with those in Cook’s case,
and, therefore, raising the presumption that he might have died from
ordinary tetanic convulsions, and not from those produced by strychnia.

The first of these cases was described by _Mr. Robert Edward Gay_,
a member of the College of Surgeons, who had attended a patient of
the name of _Forster_ for _tetanus_ in October, 1855. Apparently,
at first the patient was suffering only from sore throat and its
usual attendant pains in the neck and upper portion of the spine,
for which he was duly treated. On the fourth day of his illness the
muscular pains extended to the face, and particularly to the lower
jaw, and by evening lockjaw had come on, with pains of the muscles of
the bowels, legs, and arms. “He became very convulsed throughout the
entire muscular system, had frequent involuntary contractions of the
arms, hands, and legs; his difficulty of swallowing increased, and
not a particle of food, solid or liquid, could be introduced into the
mouth, the attempt to do so bringing on violent convulsions; so strong
were they, that I could compare him to nothing but a piece of warped
board.” The head was thrown back, the abdomen thrust forward, the
legs frequently drawn up and contracted; the attempt to feed him with
a spoon, the opening a window, or placing the fingers on the pulse,
brought on violent convulsions. While the patient was suffering in
this manner, he complained of great hunger, repeatedly exclaimed that
he was hungry, and could not eat. He was kept alive _to the fourteenth
day_ entirely by injections of a milky and farinaceous character. He
was insensible on the 12th, and continued so till he died. There was
no sore or hurt about his body, and Mr. Gay attributed his death to
an inflammatory sore throat, from cold and exposure to the weather,
assuming a tetanic form, from the patient being a very nervous,
excited, and anxious person. Mr. Gay, whilst satisfied that this was
a case of _idiopathic tetanus_, admitted that he never met with such
another case; that it was altogether progressive from the first onset;
that although for a short time there was a remission of symptoms, they
invariably recurred, and that the locking of the jaw was the very first
symptom that made its appearance.

In another case, at the Royal Free Hospital, in 1843, on the 28th of
July, a boy was brought in with the middle toe of his left foot smashed
by a stone, which Mr. John Gay amputated. The accident had happened
a week before, and the wound became very unhealthy. When the surgeon
first saw him, his mouth was almost closed, and continued so until the
1st of August, but a small quantity of medicine could be introduced.

 “During the first three days,” said _Mr. J. Gay_, “his paroxysms
 were of unusual severity; he complained of a stiff neck, and during
 the first night started up and was convulsed. On the following night
 he was again convulsed. At times the abdominal muscles, as well as
 those of the legs and back, were rigid, and the muscles of the face
 in a state of great contraction. He was in the same state the next
 day, but at two o’clock there was much less rigidity of the muscles,
 especially those of the abdomen and back. On the following morning
 the rigidity had gone, he opened his mouth and could talk; he was
 thoroughly relieved. He had no return of spasms till half-past five on
 the following day. He then asked the nurse to change his linen, and
 as she lifted him up in bed to do so, violent convulsions of the arms
 and face came on, and he died in a few minutes. About thirty hours
 elapsed between the preceding convulsion and the one which ended his
 life. Before the paroxysm came on the rigidity had been completely
 relaxed. Tartar emetic (containing antimony), which I gave on the
 second and third day, did not produce vomiting; the rigidity of the
 muscles of the chest would go far to prevent it. The wound might
 have rubbed against the bed when he was raised, but I don’t think it
 possible. Some peculiar irritation of the nerves would give rise to
 the affection of the spinal cord. There may be various causes for this
 irritation of the spinal cord, which ends in _tetanus_, but it would
 be very difficult merely from seeing symptoms of _tetanus_, and in the
 absence of knowledge of how it had been occasioned, to ascribe it to
 any particular cause. No doubt the death took place in consequence of
 something produced by the injury of the toe.”

The seriousness of the wound in this case, in comparison with any
signs of wounds found on Cook’s body, and the severity of the shock
occasioned by such a painful accident, renders this example almost

In a third case, at the London Hospital, on the 22nd of March of 1856,
a patient, aged thirty-seven, was brought in about half-past seven
in the evening. When in the receiving room, he had one paroxysm, and
another soon after when in the ward. After the first, his pulse was
feeble and rapid, his jaws closed and fixed, an expression of anxiety
on his countenance, and his features sunken; he was unable to swallow,
and the muscles of the abdomen and the back were somewhat tense. After
the second paroxysm, his body became arched for about a minute. He was
quieter for a few minutes, had a third attack, and died. He had some
old neglected sores of a chronic character, particularly at the right
elbow, a peculiarly sensitive spot, and Mr. Ross, the house-surgeon,
who attended the case, admitted that the disease had been coming on
since the morning, that he had felt symptoms of lockjaw at breakfast,
and had had successive attacks all the afternoon before coming to the
hospital. Here again the case had been progressive until death, and
commenced with lockjaw, the admitted signs of ordinary tetanus as
distinguished from that due to poison.

The last case proved was that of _Catherine Wilson_, of Garnkirk, near
Glasgow, who “was attacked with a fit,” as she deposed, “in October
last year at night, felt heavy all the day from the morning, but had
no pain till night. My first pain,” she said, “was in the stomach,
and then I had cramp in the arm, and became quite insensible.” By
the administration of chloroform the spasms were relieved, and she

_Dr. William Macdonald_, of Edinburgh, who saw the case about an hour
after the attack, admitted that lockjaw came on in about an hour or two
after he was called in.

This witness was also put forward as a medical expert in cases of
strychnia, and attributed Cook’s death to “epileptic convulsions
with tetanic complications,” and was subjected to the following
_cross-examination_ by the _Attorney-General_:—

 “I believe,” said _Dr. Macdonald_, “that all convulsive diseases,
 including the epileptic forms and the various tetanic complications,
 arise from the decomposition of the blood acting upon the nerves. Any
 mental excitement might have caused Cook’s death. Cook was excited at
 Shrewsbury, and whenever there is excitement there is a consequent
 depression. I think Cook was afterwards depressed. When a man is lying
 in bed and vomiting he must be depressed.”

 _Attorney-General._—“This gentleman was much overjoyed at his horse
 winning, and you think he vomited in consequence?”

 _Witness._—“It might predispose him to vomit.”

 _Attorney-General._—“I am not speaking of ‘mights.’ Do you think that
 the excitement of three minutes on the course on Tuesday accounts for
 the vomiting on Wednesday night.?”

 _Witness._—“I do not. I find no symptoms of excitement or depression
 reported between that time and his death. The white spots found in the
 stomach of the deceased might, by producing an inflammatory condition
 of the stomach, have brought on the convulsions that caused death.”

 _Attorney-General._—“But the gentlemen who made the _post-mortem_
 examination say that the stomach was not inflamed.”

 _Witness._—“There were white spots, which cannot exist without
 inflammation. There must have been inflammation.”

 _Attorney-General._—“But these gentlemen say there was not.”

 _Witness._—“I do not believe them. Sexual excitement might cause
 epileptic convulsions with tetanic complications. The chancre
 and syphilitic sores were evidence that Cook had undergone such
 excitement. That might have occurred before he was at Shrewsbury.”

 _Attorney-General._—“Might sexual excitement produce epilepsy a
 fortnight after it occurred?”

 _Witness._—“There is an instance on record in which epilepsy
 supervened upon the very act of intercourse.”

 _Attorney-General._—“Have you any instance in which epilepsy came on
 a fortnight afterwards?”

 _Witness._—“It is within the range of possibility.”

 _Attorney-General._—“Do you mean as a serious man of science to say

 _Witness._—“The results might.”

 _Attorney-General._—“What results were there in this case?”

 _Witness._—“The chancre and the syphilitic sores.”

 _Attorney-General._—“Did you ever hear of a chancre causing epilepsy?”


 _Attorney-General._—“Did you ever dream of such a thing.”

 _Witness._—“I never heard of it.”

 _Attorney-General._—“Did you ever hear of any other form of
 syphilitic disease producing epilepsy?”

 _Witness._—“No; but _tetanus_.”

 _Attorney-General._—“But you say that this was epilepsy. We are not
 talking of _tetanus_.”

 _Witness._—“You forget the tetanic complication.”

 _Attorney-General._—“If I understand it right then, the sexual
 excitement produces epilepsy, and the chancre superadds tetanic

 _Witness._—“I say the results of sexual excitement produce epilepsy.”

 _Attorney-General._—“What would be the effect of morphia given a day
 or two previously; would it not retard the action of the poison?”

 _Witness._—“No. I have seen opium bring on convulsions very nearly

 _Attorney-General._—“What quantity?”

 _Witness._—“A grain and a half. From my experience, I think if
 morphia had been given a day or two before, it would have accelerated
 the action of the strychnia. If this were a case of poisoning by
 strychnia, I should suppose that as both opium and strychnia produce
 congestion of the brain, they would act together and have a more
 speedy effect. If congestion of the brain was coming on when morphia
 was given to Cook on the Sunday and Monday nights it might have
 increased rather than allayed it.”

 _Attorney-General._—“But the gentlemen who examined the body say
 there was no congestion after death.”

 _Witness._—“But Dr. Bamford says there was.”

 _Attorney-General._—“You stick to Dr. Bamford.”

 _Witness._—“Yes; because he was a man of experience and could judge
 much better than younger men, and was not so likely to be mistaken.”

 _Attorney-General._—“But Dr. Bamford says that Cook died of apoplexy.
 Do you think it was apoplexy?”

 _Witness._—“No; it was not.”

 _Attorney-General._—“What then do you think of Dr. Bamford, who
 certified that it was?”

 _Witness._—“That was a matter of opinion, but the existence of
 congestion on the brain he saw.”

 _Attorney-General._—“The other medical men said there was none.”

 _Lord Campbell._—“That is rather a matter of reasoning than of

Having thus reported the medico-scientific evidence _pro_ and _con_, we
pass on to the moral evidence—the purchase of poison by the prisoner,
and his acts during Cook’s illness and subsequent to his death.


The proof that Palmer purchased strychnia on two separate occasions
immediately before the convulsive attacks of which Cook died rested on
the evidence of two druggists’ assistants at Rugeley. One of these,
_Charles Newton_, assistant to _Mr. Salt_, swore that about nine
o’clock on the Monday evening, the 19th of November, Palmer came to his
master’s shop, asked for three grains of strychnia, which he gave him,
without charge, as he knew him as a medical practitioner of the town.
Next morning, between eleven and twelve, _Roberts_, the assistant of
_Hawkins_, another druggist in Rugeley, was asked by Palmer for two
drachms of prussic acid, for which he brought a bottle with him. Whilst
_Roberts_ was preparing this, _Newton_, the former witness, came into
the shop, and Palmer, putting his hand on _Newton’s_ shoulder, said
he wished to speak with him, and together they stepped out into the
street, when Palmer asked some questions about Mr. Edwin Salt going to
a farm about fourteen miles from Rugeley. Whilst they were talking, a
_Mr. Brassington_ joined them, and began to speak to _Newton_ about
some accounts for Mr. Salt, on which Palmer went back into Hawkins’s
shop and asked for six grains of strychnia and two drachms of Batley’s
solution of opium.

 “Whilst I was preparing them,” said _Roberts_, “Palmer stood at the
 shop door with his back to me, looking into the street. I was about
 five minutes preparing them. He stood at the door till they were
 ready, when I delivered them to him—the prussic acid in the bottle he
 had brought, the strychnia in a paper, and the opium in a bottle. He
 paid, and took them away. No one else was in the shop.”

As soon as Palmer had left, Newton came in, and spoke to Roberts
about Palmer’s visit, and no doubt was struck with the information
he received. At that time he did not mention to his master Palmer’s
purchase of the strychnia because, he said, Palmer and Salt were not
friends, and he was afraid that the latter might blame him for having
given Palmer the strychnia. “I first mentioned it,” said _Newton_,
“to Boycott, the clerk to Mr. Gardner, the solicitor, at the Rugeley
station, when I and a number of witnesses were assembled for the
purpose of going to London. He took me to Mr. Gardner’s. I told him
what I had to say, and he took me to the solicitor of the Treasury.”
Counsel for the defence tried to elicit from him that he had given as
his reason for not mentioning it before that he was afraid of being
prosecuted for perjury. “No,” he replied; “I did not give that as a
reason, but I stated to a gentleman that a young man at Wolverhampton
had been threatened by George Palmer because he had said at the inquest
on Walter Palmer that he had sold the prisoner prussic acid, and he had
not entered it in the book, and could not prove it. I stated at the
same time that George Palmer said he could be transported for it. The
inquest on Walter Palmer did not take place until five or six weeks
after that on Cook.”

Not only, however, did Newton[60] not mention this purchase of
strychnia when before the coroner, but he did not state that on the
25th of November he was sent for about seven in the evening to Palmer’s
house, where he found the prisoner in his kitchen, sitting by the fire

 “He asked me,” he now said, “how I was, and to have some brandy
 and water. No one else was there. He asked me what was the dose
 of strychnia to kill a dog. I told him a grain. He asked me what
 would be the appearance after death. I told him that there would be
 no inflammation, and that I did not think it could be found. Upon
 that he snapped his finger and thumb in a quiet way and exclaimed,
 as if communing with himself, ‘That’s all right.’ He made some
 other commonplace remark, which I do not recollect. I was with him
 altogether about five minutes.”

Though he appears to have related the story of the dog at an earlier
date, it was not until the Tuesday before the trial that he said a word
to anyone about the purchase of the strychnia.

To contradict the evidence of Newton, the inspector of police at the
Euston station was called to prove that the last train for Rugeley
left at 2P.M., and that if Palmer went by the five o’clock express
he would not get to Stafford until 8.45, and would then have nine
miles to travel to reach Rugeley. It was, however, remarked by the
Attorney-General that Newton’s words were “about nine o’clock,” and
“that everyone knows how easy it is to make a mistake of half an hour
or three quarters of an hour, or even an hour, if your attention is
not called to the circumstances within a week or a fortnight, or
three weeks afterwards.” Not content with this evidence, counsel for
the defence called one Jeremiah Smith, an attorney, of Rugeley, and
intimate friend of the prisoner’s mother, who swore that on the night
in question he saw Palmer get out of a car coming in the direction
from Stafford at ten minutes past ten, and went with him to Cook’s
room. The exhibition made by this fellow in the box was disgusting. For
some time he declared that he had never had anything to do with the
applications for the enormous insurances on Walter Palmer’s life; would
not acknowledge his signature to them as a witness, and only after a
most vigorous _cross-examination_ admitted that he witnessed them on
the application of the prisoner. He it was who made the application to
the Midland Insurance Company for the policy of £10,000 on the life of
Bate, the person whom Palmer represented as a gentleman of property
with a fine cellar of wine, but whom the insurance agent found hoeing
turnips in a field of Palmer’s, and with six months’ rent in arrear for
the room in the farm-house which he occupied. The credit of Newton was
set up by the desperate attempt of Mr. Jeremiah Smith.[61]


On Thursday, the 15th of November, Cook returned from Shrewsbury with
Palmer to the “Talbot,” at Rugeley, complaining of being poorly. It
will be remembered that he had been sick at Shrewsbury after partaking
of the brandy and water in Palmer’s company. Next day he dined with
Palmer, and came back to the inn between nine and ten at night, as the
witness Barnes said, sober. Early the next morning (Saturday) Palmer
was in his bedroom, and sent for a cup of coffee for him. Mills, who
brought it up, did not see him drink it; but when soon after she went
into his room she found he had vomited it in the chamber. Palmer was
in and out frequently, and promised to send Cook some soup; for this
he sent _Ann Rowley_, a charwoman to the “Albion Inn,” who brought it
to Palmer in his kitchen, left it there about five minutes with him,
whilst she went about her other work, and then, by Palmer’s orders,
took it to the “Talbot,” with a message that Jerry Smith, a mutual
friend who had dined with them on the Friday, had sent it.[62] Cook,
seeming unwilling to take this, Palmer said he must have it. It was
taken up again; Cook drank it, and shortly after vomited. Again, on the
Sunday, Palmer sent a jobbing gardener in his employ with a covered
cup of broth to the “Talbot,” of which Mills, who took it up to Cook’s
room, tasted about two tablespoonsful, and was so sick that she had to
go to bed. Whether Cook drank this or not was not distinctly proved,
but the cup was afterwards seen empty in the kitchen of the hotel. What
followed as to the pills sent by Dr. Bamford, and the others produced
by Palmer, is already fully given in Mills’s evidence. Immediately
after Cook’s death, Palmer was found by Barnes searching the pockets of
Cook’s coat and under his pillow, and the bank-notes which Cook had had
only a few days before, his betting-book, which had been seen on his
dressing-table, and the letters that had been on his chimney-piece, had
disappeared.[63] Previously to this time Palmer had been very short of
money, being pressed for small debts, but immediately afterwards was
in funds, paying small bills, and depositing £50 in a local bank. On
Tuesday evening (20th), when Cook was in such a serious state, Palmer
sent for Cheshire, the Rugeley postmaster, and asked him to fill up
the body of a cheque on Weatherby for £350 in Palmer’s favour, which
he said that he would take over to Cook to sign. That cheque was
sent to Weatherby’s that night, and returned by them to Palmer, as
Weatherby, not having yet received the stakes Cook had won, was not in
funds to meet it. That cheque was called for by the prosecution, but
not produced by the prisoner. Again, on the Thursday or Friday after,
between six and seven in the evening, Palmer sent for Cheshire. “When
I arrived,” said the witness, “I found him in the kitchen, and he
immediately went out, and shortly after returned with a quarto sheet of
paper in his hand. He gave me a pen, and asked me to sign something. I
asked what it was, and he replied, ‘You know that Cook and I have had
dealings together, and this is a document he gave me some days ago,
and I want you to witness it.’ I said, ‘What is it about?’ He said,
‘Some business that I have joined in with him, and which is all for his
benefit, and this is the document stating so.’” Cheshire refused, and
Palmer, saying perhaps they would not dispute Cook’s signature, took it
away. This document was also called for, and not produced.[64]

On Friday, 23rd, _Mr. Stevens_, who had married the widow of Cook’s
father some years before, and was executor to his grandfather’s will,
arrived in Rugeley, saw Palmer, and asked him about his stepson’s
affairs. “There are £4000 of his bills out,” said Palmer, “and I am
sorry to say my name is to them, but I have got a paper drawn up and
signed by him to show that I never had any money from them.” Mr.
Stevens expressed great surprise, and said, “I fear there will not
be 4000 shillings to pay you.” Then, after discussing his stepson’s
affairs, Mr. Stevens said, “Well, whether he has left anything or not,
poor fellow, he must be buried,” on which Palmer immediately said,
“Oh, I will bury him myself, if that is all.” Mr. Stevens at once
refused, and expressed his intention of removing the body to London
for interment, so as not to inconvenience the inn people. “Oh,” said
Palmer, “that is of no consequence, but the body ought to be fastened
up; as long as the body is fastened up, it is of no consequence.”
Whilst Mr. Stevens was talking with the persons in the room, Palmer
went out, and on his return, when asked by Stevens to recommend an
undertaker, said, “I have been and done this. I have ordered a shell
and a strong oak coffin.” Mr. Stevens expressed his surprise, and
insisted on giving instructions himself to the undertaker.

Later in the day, after dinner, on Mr. Jones reporting to Stevens,
who had asked him to go up to Cook’s room for that purpose, that he
could not find any betting-book or papers, Palmer said, “Oh, it’s no
manner of use if you do find it.” “No use,” replied Stevens, “I am the
best judge of that.” Again said Palmer, “It’s of no manner of use.”
“I am told it is,” was the reply; “my son won a great deal of money
at Shrewsbury, and I ought to know something about it.” “It is of no
use, I assure you,” replied Palmer; “when a man dies, his bets are done
with; and besides, Cook received the greater part of the money on the
course.” “Very well,” replied Stevens, “the book ought to be found, and
must be found,” when Palmer said, in a quieter tone, “It will be found,
no doubt.” The room was then locked by Mr. Stevens’s order, but the
book was never found.

Mr. Stevens returned to London to see his solicitor, and on his way
back met Palmer (who had been to London to pay Pratt £100, and caution
him against giving any information about Cook’s affairs), and told
him his intention of having a _post-mortem_ examination. Apparently
agreeing with that, Palmer offered to introduce him to a local
solicitor to conduct it, which was declined; but, added Mr. Stevens, “I
said, ‘Mr. Palmer, if I should call in a solicitor to give me advice,
I suppose you will have no objection to answer any question he may put
to you.’ I altered my tone purposely; I looked him steadily in the
face, but although the moon was shining, I could not see his features
distinctly. He said, with a spasmodic convulsion of the throat, which
was perfectly apparent, ‘Oh no, certainly not.’” Later in the evening
Palmer came to Mr. Stevens and renewed his conversation about the
bills, hoping that affairs would be settled pleasantly, and was told by
the stepfather that “they could be only settled in Chancery.” Palmer,
at that time, denied that he had attended Cook in a medical capacity.

On the 17th of November, _Ishmael Fisher_, who was Cook’s usual racing
agent, received a letter from Cook requesting him to pay Pratt £200,
which he would repay him on the following Monday, when the Shrewsbury
bets would be settled at Tattersall’s. Much to his surprise, he was not
employed as usual, and in consequence lost the money he had advanced,
for on the 19th _Mr. George Herring_, another betting man, got a letter
from Palmer to call on him at the latter’s lodgings, in London, at
half-past two that day. He did so.

 “I found Palmer there,” said _Herring_. “He asked me what I would
 take. I declined to take anything. I then asked him how Mr. Cook was.
 He said, ‘He’s all right; his physician gave him a dose of calomel,
 and advised him not to come out, it being a damp day.’ I don’t know
 which term he used, ‘damp’ or ‘wet.’ He then went on to say, in the
 same sentence, ‘What I want to see you about is settling his account.’
 While he was speaking he took out half a sheet of note paper from his
 pocket, and it was open when he had finished the sentence. He held it
 up and said, ‘This is it.’ I rose to take it. He said, ‘You had better
 take its contents down; this will be a check against you.’ At the same
 time he pointed to some paper lying on the table. I wrote on that
 paper from his dictation. I have here the paper which I so wrote. [The
 witness read the document in question, which contained instructions
 as to certain payments he should make out of moneys to be received by
 him at Tattersall’s on account of the Shrewsbury races.] Palmer then
 said that I had better write out a cheque for Pratt and Padwick—for
 the former £450, and for the latter £350, and send them at once. I
 told him I had only one form of cheque in my pocket. He said I could
 easily fill up a draught on half a sheet of paper. I refused to comply
 with his request, as I had not as yet received the money. He replied
 that it would be all right, for that Cook would not deceive me. He
 wished me particularly to pay Mr. Pratt the £450. His words, as nearly
 as I can remember them, were, ‘You must pay Pratt, as it is for a bill
 of sale on the mare.’ I don’t know whether he said ‘a bill of sale,’
 or ‘a joint bill of sale.’ He told me he was going to see both Pratt
 and Padwick, to tell them that I would send on the money. Previous to
 his saying this, I told him that if he would give me the address of
 Pratt and Padwick I would call on them, after I had got the money from
 Tattersall’s, and give it to them. He then asked me what was between
 us. There were only a few pounds between us, and after we had had
 some conversation on the point, he took out of his pocket a £50 Bank
 of England note. He required £29 out of the note, and I was not able
 to give it; but he said that if I gave him a cheque it would answer
 as well. I gave him a cheque for £20 and nine sovereigns. When I was
 going away I do not remember that he said anything about my paying the
 money to Pratt and Padwick. He said on parting, ‘When you have settled
 this account write down word to either me or Cook.’ I turned round
 and said, ‘I shall certainly write to Mr. Cook.’ I said so because I
 thought I was settling Mr. Cook’s account. He said, ‘It don’t much
 matter which you write to.’ I said, ‘If I address Mr. Cook, Rugeley,
 Stafford, it will be correct, will it not?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ After
 leaving Beaufort Buildings I went to Tattersall’s. I then received all
 the money I expected, except £110 from Mr. Morris, who paid me £90
 instead of £200. I sent from Tattersall’s a cheque for £450 to Mr.
 Pratt. I posted a letter to Cook from Tattersall’s, and directed it
 to Rugeley. On Tuesday the 20th, next day, I received a telegraphic
 message. I have not got it here. I gave it to Captain Hatton at the
 coroner’s inquest at Rugeley. In consequence of receiving that message
 I wrote again to Cook that day. I addressed my letter as before, but
 I believe the letter was not posted till the Wednesday. I have three
 bills of exchange with me. I know Palmer’s handwriting, but never saw
 him write. I cannot prove his writing; but I knew Cook’s writing, and
 I believe the drawing of two and the accepting of the three bills to
 be in his writing. I got them from Fisher and gave him cash for them.”
 [The witness Boycott was recalled, and identified the signatures on
 the bills as those of Palmer and Cook.]

 _Examination continued._—“The bills are each for £200. One of them
 was payable in a month, and when it fell due on October 18, Cook paid
 the £100 on account. He paid me the remaining £100 at Shrewsbury, but
 I cannot tell with certainty on what day. I did not pay the £350 to
 Padwick. I hold another bill for £500.” [Thomas Strawbridge, manager
 of the bank at Rugeley, identified the drawing and endorsing as in the
 handwriting of Palmer. The acceptance, purporting to be in the writing
 of Mrs. Sarah Palmer, he did not believe to have been written by her.]

 _Examination continued._—“I am sure that the endorsement on the £500
 bill is in Cook’s writing. I got the bill from Mr. Fisher. I paid
 £200 on account of it to Palmer, and £275 to Mr. Fisher. The balance
 was discount. It was not paid at maturity. I have taken proceedings
 against Palmer to recover the amount.”

On the 26th of November, the _post-mortem_ examination was held, at
which Palmer was present, and the incidents of the pushing of the jar
containing the contents of the stomach and the cutting of its coverings
occurred; and if the evidence of _Myatt_, the postboy, is to be taken
as true, Palmer tried to bribe him to upset the fly in which Mr.
Stevens and his solicitor’s clerk were to take the jar to the Stafford
station, _en route_ to London,

 _James Myatt, examined by Mr. James._—“In November last I was
 postboy at the ‘Talbot Arms,’ Rugeley. I know Palmer, the prisoner,
 and I remember Monday, the 26th of November last. I was ordered on
 that night, a little after five o’clock, to take Mr. Stevens to the
 Stafford station in a fly. Before I started I went home to get my tea,
 and on returning from my tea to the ‘Talbot Arms’ I met the prisoner.
 He asked me if I was going to drive Mr. Stevens to Stafford. I told
 him I was.”

 _Question._—“What did he say to you then?”

 _Answer._—“He asked me if I would upset them.”

 _Question._—“Them? Had anything been said about a jar?”

 _Answer._—“He said he supposed I was going to take the jar.”

 _Question._—“What did you say then?”

 _Answer._—“I said I believed I was.”

 _Question._—“What did he say after that?”

 _Answer._—“He said—‘Do you think you could upset them?’”

 _Question._—“What answer did you make?”

 _Answer._—“I told him ‘No.’”

 _Question._—“Did he say anything more?”

 _Answer._—“He said—‘If you could, there’s a £10 note for you.’”

 _Question._—“What did you say to that?”

 _Answer._—“I told him I could not. I then said, ‘I must go, the
 horses are in the fly ready for us to start.’ I do not recollect
 that he said anything more about the jar. I said, that if I didn’t
 go somebody else would go. He told me not to be in a hurry, for if
 anybody else went he would pay me. I saw him again next morning, when
 I was going to breakfast. He asked me then who went with the fly. I
 told him Mr. Stevens, and, I believed, one of Mr. Gardner’s clerks.”

 _Cross-examined by Mr. Serjeant Shee._—“Were not the words that
 Palmer used—‘I wouldn’t mind giving £10 to break Stevens’s neck?’”

 _Answer._—“I don’t recollect the words ‘break his neck.’”

 _Question._—“Well, ‘upset him.’ Did he say, ‘I wouldn’t mind giving
 £10 to upset him?’”

 _Answer._—“Yes; I believe those were the words. I do not know that
 Palmer appeared to have been drinking. I don’t recollect that he had.
 I can’t say that he used any epithet, applied to Stevens—he said it
 was a humbugging concern altogether, or something of that. I don’t
 recollect that he said Stevens was a troublesome fellow, and very
 inquisitive. I don’t remember anything more than I have said. I do not
 know whether there was more than one jar.”

Whilst the analysis of the contents of the jar was being conducted
in London, the coroner opened an inquest at Rugeley. Palmer, now
fully aware of his danger, determined to use his influence over the
postmaster to get the earliest information of the results of the
analysis, and to make a friend of Ward, the coroner. With the latter
object, he sent a hamper of fish and game to the coroner from London on
the 1st of December, writing the direction himself, but not otherwise
letting Ward know from whom they came, which he professed to wish to be
kept secret. To Cheshire, the postmaster, with whom he had long been
on very friendly terms, receiving from him his mother’s and Cook’s
letters, on the 2nd of December he hinted the importance of his knowing
anything that might pass through the post between Dr. Taylor and the
local solicitor. In consequence, on the Wednesday following, he is told
by Cheshire the substance of the letter, already quoted, written by
the analyst to Mr. Gardner on the previous day. On this Palmer, on the
8th, writes to a poulterer at Stafford to have some game ready for his
messenger, and sends Bate over for it, to take it, with the following
note, to the coroner:—

 “MY DEAR SIR,—I am sorry to tell you that I am still confined to my
 bed. I don’t think it was mentioned at the inquest yesterday that Cook
 was taken ill on Sunday and Monday night, in the same way as he was
 on the Tuesday, when he died. The chambermaid at the ‘Crown’ Hotel
 (Masters’s) can prove this. I also believe that a man by the name of
 Fisher is coming down to prove he received some money at Shrewsbury.
 Now, here he could only pay Smith £10 out of £41 he owed him. Had you
 not better call Smith to prove this? And, again, whatever Professor
 Taylor may say to-morrow, he wrote from London last Tuesday night
 to Gardner to say, ‘We (and Dr. Rees) have this day finished our
 analysis, and find no traces of either strychnia, prussic acid, or
 opium.’ What can beat this from a man like Taylor, if he says what
 he has already said, and Dr. Harlands’s evidence? Mind you, I know
 and saw it in black and white what Taylor said to Gardner; but this
 is strictly private and confidential, but it is true. As regards his
 betting-book, I know nothing of it, and it is of no good to anyone. I
 hope the verdict to-morrow will be that he died of natural causes, and
 thus end it.

  “Ever yours,       “W. P.”

Bate goes to the poulterer, re-directs, and sends the game by a lad,
and then finds his way to the inn, where the coroner is smoking, calls
him out of the billiard-room, and privately gives him the letter.

On the 14th of December the adjourned inquest is to be held, and Dr.
Taylor’s evidence taken. On the previous day, therefore, Bate is again
summoned by Palmer, and sent to borrow a £5 note of Thirlby, and on
his return, Palmer being still ill in bed, is told by him to look in a
drawer for another, but can only find one for £50. At this juncture the
sheriff’s officer arrives to arrest him on one of the overdue bills,
Bate is sent out of the room, and on his return commissioned to take
a note to the coroner, and to be sure that no one sees him deliver
it. This he succeeds in doing between the “station” and the “Junction
Hotel,” where he slips it slily into Ward’s hand. Not liking all this
secrecy, Bate had hesitated at accepting the mission, and asked that
some one else should be sent, when Palmer replied, “Why, George, as to
this poor fellow Cook, he was the best pal I ever had in my life; and
why should I have poisoned him?” and then added, “I am as innocent as
you, George.” The inquest proceeded, and in addition to the evidence
of the symptoms attendant on Cook’s death, Dr. Taylor gave his, and
Roberts proved the purchase of strychnia only a day before Cook’s
death. Palmer was summoned, but professed to be too ill to come, and
on the next day a verdict of wilful murder against him was returned,
and a warrant issued for his transfer to Stafford jail. After a few
days’ detention in his own house, Palmer was conveyed to jail, in
such a state of despondency that he appears to have determined to
starve himself to death, and would probably have done so, but for the
threat of compulsory measures by the Governor. Soon afterwards all his
property was seized under a bill of sale and sold, his racehorses alone
realising four thousand guineas.[65]


Of Mr. Serjeant Shee’s address to the jury in the defence of the
prisoner, which occupied, without wearying, the attention of the
Court during eight hours on the seventh day, only a brief analysis
can be given. The main points on which he insisted were—_First_, the
erroneous nature of the medico-scientific evidence in referring the
symptoms exhibited in Cook’s case to _tetanus_ from _strychnia_, on
which he was prepared to contradict it by witnesses of equal character
and credit in the profession. _Secondly_, the probability, amounting as
near as possible to a certainty, that if the death had been occasioned
by strychnia, the presence of that poison should have been detected
by the analysts. _Thirdly_, the similarity of the symptoms in the
case to those of cases of _traumatic_ or _idiopathic tetanus_ of late
occurrence, to be described by the doctors who had attended them. As
the mass of evidence by which he sought to support these propositions
has been already reported, it is needless to recur to it. We may
therefore pass on to the moral evidence, only pausing to extract the
noble passage descriptive of the mechanism of the human frame, with
which he introduced the former subject, and his picture of Cook’s state
of mind from before his victory at Shrewsbury until his death.

 “‘A little learning is a dangerous thing.’

 “It appears to me there never was a case in which the adage was so
 applicable as it is in this. Of all the works of God, the one best
 calculated to fill us with wonder and admiration, and convince us of
 our dependence on our Maker, and the utter nothingness of ourselves,
 is the mortal coil in which we live, and breathe, and think, and
 have our being. Every minute of our lives, functions are performed
 at our will, the unerring accuracy of which nothing but omniscience
 and omnipotence could have secured. We feel and see exactly what
 takes place, and yet the moment we attempt to explain what takes
 place, the instant we endeavour to get a reason for what we know, and
 see, and do, the mystery of creation—‘God created man in his own
 image, in the image of God created he them’—arrests our course, and
 we are flung back on conjecture and doubt. We know in a sense—we
 suppose—that the soft medullary substance which is within the cavity
 of the head is the seat of thought, of sensation, and of will. We
 know that that soft medullary substance is continued down the middle
 of the back, protected by a bony duct or canal, within which it lies
 embedded, and we know that from the sides of that bony duct and
 from this medullary substance proceed an infinite variety of nerves
 (the conduits of sensation from all parts of the body to the soul)
 and of muscles connected and dependent on them, the instruments of
 voluntary motion. This we know; and we know that by that process all
 the ordinary actions of ourselves, at our will, are effected with the
 most wonderful precision. Sometimes, however, these nerves and muscles
 depart from their normal character, and instead of being the mere
 instruments of the soul, become irregular, convulsive, tumultuary,
 vindicating to themselves a sort of independent vitality, totally
 regardless of the authority to which they are ordinarily subject. When
 thrown into this state of excitement, their effects are known by the
 general name of convulsions. It is remarkable, unlike most other fine
 names, they are not of modern adaptation. The ancients had them to
 express the very same thing. The spasmodic and tetanic affections were
 known then, and as much about them hundreds and thousands of years ago
 as is known now. Tetanic convulsions have been divided in later times
 into two specific branches of tetanus—idiopathic and traumatic.”

In opening the portion of his case that Cook’s death was attributable
to causes other than strychnia, Serjeant Shee adroitly concealed the
names of the diseases to which his witnesses were prepared to attribute
it. Until, therefore, his cloud of witnesses had been passed through,
the prosecution did not know, except from the _cross-examination_ of
their own medico-scientific witnesses, to what technical points they
had to shape their reply.

In support of his contention that Cook’s death could be fairly
attributed to ordinary convulsions, the learned Serjeant gave the
following graphic sketch of the state of his mind at the period of
Shrewsbury races, and from then to his death:—

 “He went there in the imminent peril of returning from them a ruined
 man. His stepfather assured Palmer that there would not be 4000
 shillings for those who had claims on his estate. From the necessity
 he was under of raising money at an enormous discount we may easily
 infer that he was in desperate difficulties, and that unless some
 sudden success on the turf should retrieve his fortunes, they were
 hopeless. His health was shattered, his mind distracted; he had long
 been cherishing hopes that Polestar would win, and so put him in
 possession of something like a thousand guineas. The mare, it was
 true, was hardly his own, for she had been mortgaged; and if she
 should lose, she would become the property of another person. Picture
 to yourselves what must have been the condition, mental and bodily,
 of that young man when he rose from his bed on the morning of the
 races. It is scarcely possible, as he went down to breakfast, that
 this thought must not have crossed his mind, ‘My fate is trembling
 in the balance; this is the crisis of my destiny. Unless my horse
 shall win, to-night I am a beggar.’ With these feelings he repairs to
 the course. Another race is run before Polestar is brought out. His
 impatience is extreme. He looks on in a state of agonising excitement.
 Will the minutes never fly? At last arrives the decisive moment; the
 time has come for his race. The flag is dropped; the horses start;
 his mare wins easily, and he, her master, has won a thousand guineas!
 For three minutes he is not able to speak, so intense is his emotion.
 Slowly he recovers his utterance, and then how rapturous is his joy!
 He is saved, he is saved! Another chance to retrieve his position—one
 chance more to recover his character! As yet, at all events, he will
 not be a disgrace to his family and his friends. Conceive him to be,
 with all his faults, an honourable young man, and you may easily
 imagine what his ecstasy must have been. He loves the memory of his
 dead mother—he still reverences the name of his father—he is jealous
 of his sister’s honour, and it may be that he cherishes silently in
 his heart the thought of some other being dearer still than all to
 whom the story of his ruin would bring bitter anguish. But he is not
 ruined; he will meet his engagements like an honourable man. There is
 now no danger of his being an outcast, an adventurer, a black-leg.
 He will live to redeem his position, and to give joy to those who
 love him. With such thoughts in his heart, he returns to his inn in a
 state of indescribable elation, and with a revulsion from despair that
 must have convulsed—though not in the sense of illness—every fibre
 of his frame. His first idea is to entertain his friends, and he does
 so. The evidence does not prove that he drank to excess, but he gave a
 champagne dinner; and we all know that is a luxurious entertainment,
 at which there is no stint and not much self-respect. That evening he
 did not spend in the society of Palmer; indeed, it is not clear in
 whose company he spent it. But we find him on the evening of Wednesday
 at the ‘Unicorn’ with Saunders, his trainer, and a lady. On Thursday
 he walks upon the course, and Herring remonstrates with him for doing
 so, as the day is damp and misty, and the ground wet. That night he
 is seized with illness, and he continues ailing until his death at
 Rugeley. Arrived at Rugeley, it is but natural to suppose that a
 reaction of feeling may have set in. Then the dark side of the picture
 may have presented itself to his imagination. The chilling thought
 may have come upon him that his winnings were already forestalled
 and would scarcely suffice to save him from destruction. It is
 when suffering from a weakened body, and an irritated and excited
 mind, that he is attacked by a sickness which clings to his system,
 leaves him without any rest, incapacitates him from taking food,
 distracts his nerves, and places him in imminent danger of falling
 a victim to any sudden attack of convulsions to which he may have a
 predisposition. He relished no society so much as that of Palmer,
 whose residence was immediately opposite the ‘Talbot Arms’ Inn, where
 he was lying on his sick bed. For two days he had been taking opiate
 pills prescribed by Dr. Bamford. On Sunday night, at twelve o’clock,
 he started as from a dream in a state of the utmost excitement and
 alarm. He admitted afterwards that for two minutes he was mad, but he
 could not ascribe it to anything unless to his having been awakened
 by a squabble in the street. But do no such things happen to people
 of sound constitutions and regular habits? Do no such people awaken
 in agony and delirium because there is a noise under their windows?
 No; these are the afflictions of the dissipated and anxious, whose
 bodies are shattered and whose minds are distracted. Next day,
 Monday, he was pretty well, but not so well as to mount his horse or
 to take a walk in the fields. He could converse with his trainer and
 jockey, but he could take no substantial food, and drank not a drop
 of brandy-and-water. You will bear in mind that Palmer was not with
 him that day. In the middle of the night he was seized with an attack
 similar in character to that of the night preceding, but manifestly
 much milder, for he retained his consciousness throughout it, and was
 not mad for a moment. The evidence of Elizabeth Mills is conclusive
 on the point. At three o’clock on the following day (Tuesday) Mr.
 Jones, the surgeon of Lutterworth, arrived, and spent a considerable
 time—probably from three to seven o’clock—in his company. They had
 abundant opportunity for conversing confidentially, and they were
 likely to have done so, for they were very intimate, and Jones appears
 to have been on more familiar terms with Cook than was any other
 person, not even excepting Mr. Stevens. Nothing occurred in the entire
 and unbounded confidence which must have existed between Mr. Cook and
 Mr. Jones, to raise any suspicions in the mind of Mr. Jones; and at
 the consultation, which took place between seven and eight o’clock on
 Tuesday evening between Jones, Palmer, and Bamford, as to what the
 medicine for that evening should be, the fit of the Monday night was
 not mentioned. That is a remarkable fact. The Crown may say that it
 is remarkable, inasmuch as Palmer knew it, and said not a word about
 it; but I think that it shows that the fit was so little serious in
 the opinion of Cook that he did not think it worth mentioning to his
 intimate friend.”

In dealing with the “moral evidence,” counsel _first_ attacked the
motive imputed by the prosecution, and sought to show from the
correspondence, as well as from the conduct of the parties, that at
the moment when Palmer was charged with killing Cook, he was his best
and indeed the only friend whom he could look to to assist him in his
severe financial troubles.

 “Was it,” he said, “to his interest that in the second week in
 November Cook should be killed, say by a railway accident? For some
 time they had been mixed up together in racing transactions, had made
 heavy losses during the late sporting season, and Cook at least—and
 most probably Palmer, as associated with him—was looking forward to
 the success of Polestar to save them from ruin. At that time Pratt,
 the bill discounter, was pressing for an extra £200 to stave off legal
 proceedings on the £2000 bill, to which his mother’s name had been
 forged. To whom does Palmer apply? To Cook, who at once writes to his
 betting agent Fisher to advance and pay that to Pratt on the Saturday
 before the Monday’s settlement at Tattersall’s of the Shrewsbury
 winnings. Fisher having done this, was it not probable that Cook
 arranged with Palmer, that in order to get the use of this £200 for
 a few days, Herring, and not Fisher, should be authorised to collect
 the winnings and secure a sufficient payment to Pratt to stave off
 the action?” [Cook’s letter of the 19th of November was accordingly
 cited as a proof of his anxiety to assist Palmer.] “Again, there was
 in Herring’s hands a bill of Palmer’s for £500, bearing his mother’s
 forged acceptance. Was it likely that with this danger staring him
 in the face, Palmer would kill the only man from whom he could look
 for money? The transaction as to the bill for £500, secured on Cook’s
 racehorses, discounted by Pratt, for which, as Pratt wrote him at
 once, Palmer would have to provide, was another reason for not killing
 his only friend.”

In September Palmer had negotiated this bill with Pratt professedly for
Cook’s benefit, and had received from Pratt a crossed cheque to Cook’s
order for £385, and a wine warrant for £65, and at the same time, on
his own account, £315 in cash, and the imputation by the Crown was that
he forged Cook’s endorsement and took the money. The improbability of
his doing this, as Cook was certain, had he done so, to have complained
of it during the months that elapsed between the giving of the bill of
sale on his horses and his death, was urged by Mr. Shee, who ventured
to offer as an explanation the suggestion that as Cook wanted cash
on that day, Palmer gave him his £315, and with his consent endorsed
Cook’s name on the cheque and paid that to his own account. Again he
dealt with the circumstance of Cook’s cheque for £350, the body of
which was drawn by Cheshire, and, as Palmer said, taken by him on the
20th November to Cook for him to sign in his sick room. That cheque, it
will be remembered, was not produced, but

 “Weatherby, on whom it was drawn,” said Serjeant Shee, “was under the
 impression that the signature was Cook’s.[66] As it was not certain
 that Frail would have sent up to Weatherby the stakes against which
 it was drawn by the Monday, was it likely that, had Palmer meditated
 Cook’s death at the time, he would have risked its being returned—as
 it was—and passing into the hands of Cook’s executors, who would be
 certain to enquire into the matter, on Cook’s sudden death? From the
 enquiries that had been instituted as to his brother’s life policy,
 he knew himself to be an object of suspicion, and, if any foul play
 happened to Cook, all hope of recovering that would be gone. ‘Their
 refusal,’ wrote Pratt to him, ‘altered the whole state of affairs, and
 Palmer must be prepared to pay his mother’s acceptances for £4,000
 due at the end of the month.’ There was the pinch; the office would
 not pay; the £4,000 was becoming due; the holder of the bills saw
 that he was without security, and, if anything occurred to increase
 the suspicions of the insurance office, which was very reluctant to
 pay, the £13,000 was lost for ever, lost beyond hope. Gentlemen, that
 £13,000 is sure to be paid, unless this man is convicted of murder;
 and that has a great deal to do with the clamour and alarm which
 have been excited. So sure as that man is saved, and saved I believe
 he will be, that £13,000 is paid. There is no defence, no pretence
 for a defence—the letters of the office make that plain. They took
 an enormous premium; knowing that the man was only 30, they took a
 premium for a man of 50—at least, the letters show that the premium
 was enormous—and I say that, as sure as this man is saved, that
 £13,000 is good for him, and will pay his creditors. Do not these
 facts show that in this October suspicions were hanging in menacing
 meteors about Palmer’s head, which would come down with irresistible
 momentum and crush him upon suspicion of a sudden death by murder? Do
 you believe that a man who wrote what the effects of strychnia were
 in his manual would risk such a scene as a death-bed by it, in the
 presence of the dearest and best friend of Cook—a man whom he could
 not influence; a medical man, who liked him and loved him well enough
 when he knew he was ill to sleep in the same room with him, that he
 might be able to attend to him in case he wanted assistance during the
 night? Is that common sense? Are you going to endorse such a theory as
 that upon the suggestion of Dr. Taylor about the effects of strychnia
 produced upon his five rabbits? Impossible! perfectly impossible! as
 I submit to you. So sure as anything happened by foul play to Cook,
 he had no more chance of getting the £13,000 than the £180,000 from
 the Prince of Wales Insurance Office—none whatever. That was the
 only means he had at that time of extricating himself from these

Again, he tried to depreciate the evidence of Mills as to the symptoms
of Cook’s attacks, on the ground—not, indeed, that she had been
tampered with by the prosecution—because then, he said, he was certain
that she would not have been called—but “that she had been instructed
in the various symptoms by the repeated private examinations to which
she had been subjected,” dwelling on the omission from her evidence
before the coroner that she had been so violently sick after tasting
the broth, and on the other discrepancies in, and omissions from, her
description of the symptoms when there, and when in court.

 “Upon all occasions,” said the learned counsel, “I am most
 reluctant to attack a witness who is examined on his or her oath,
 and particularly if he be in a humble position of life. I am very
 reluctant to impute perjury to such a person; and I think that a man
 who has been as long in the profession as I have been must be put a
 little to his wits’ end when he rushes upon the assumption that a
 person whose statements have, after a considerable lapse of time,
 materially varied, is, therefore, necessarily, deliberately perjured.
 The truth is, we know perfectly well, that if a considerable interval
 of time occurs between the first story and the second, and if the
 intelligent and respectable persons who are anxious to investigate the
 truth, but who have still a strong moral conviction—upon imperfect
 information—of the guilt of the accused person, will talk to
 witnesses and say, ‘Was there anything of this kind?’ or, ‘Anything
 of that kind?’ the witnesses at last catch hold of the phrase or term
 which has so often been used to them, and having in that way adopted
 it, they fancy they may tell it in court.”

He also attacked the conduct of Mr. Stevens, the stepfather, for, as
he said, “goading and irritating Palmer into incautious expressions,
by insinuating that he had stolen a trumpery betting-book that could
not be of use to anyone;” and attributed Palmer’s anxiety to nominate
a local solicitor to manage affairs to the nature of the pecuniary
transactions, so much relying on honour, making them far more easy of
adjustment by a friendly than by a hostile agent. As for Myatt, the
postboy’s, story of the bribe for upsetting the fly, he attributed
that to a personal feeling against the “meddlesome old gentleman,”
as he called Stevens, and not to any idea of destroying the probable
proofs of his delinquency. His marked attention to Cook during his
illness he attributed to the interest he necessarily felt in his life,
and the sending of broth and other things from his own house to the
wish to save expense at a time when neither of them were too well off.
“Would he,” said Serjeant Shee, “dream of sending poisoned broth to an
inn, where it was sure to be tasted by the cook?”

In addition to the scientific witnesses which he would call to rebut
those of the prosecution’s, he would prove that Cook, previously to
the Shrewsbury meeting, was suffering severely from a syphilitic
state of throat, and applying to Palmer for remedies for it—that
Palmer could not have been in Rugeley at the time at which Newton
swore that he sold the strychnia to him, and that the incident at
the “Raven,” at Shrewsbury, of the brandy-and-water was a fiction.
To what this evidence of previous illness amounted, and how the two
witnesses who were to negative Newton and disprove the scene at the
“Raven” fared when put in the box, will be seen in the report of
their examination.[67] Great stress was of course laid on Palmer’s
not only calling in Dr. Bamford, but sending for Mr. Jones, Cook’s
firmest friend, to witness what proved his last day of life, and on
the improbability of Palmer tampering with the medicines under such
professional supervision.

 “Is it conceivable that if Palmer meant to slay Cook with poison in
 the dead of night, he would previously have insured the presence
 in his victim’s chamber of a medical witness, who would know from
 his frightful symptoms that the man was not dying a natural death?
 He brings a medical man into his room, and makes him lie within a
 few inches of the sick man’s bed, that he may be startled with his
 terriffic shrieks, and gaze on those agonizing convulsions which
 indicate the fatal potency of the poison. Can you believe it? He might
 have dispatched him by means that defy detection, for Cook was taking
 morphia medicinally, and a grain or two more would have silently
 thrown him into an eternal sleep;[68] but instead of this he sends to
 Lutterworth for Jones. You have been told that this was done to cover
 appearances. Done to cover appearances! No, no, no! You cannot believe
 it. It is not in human nature. It cannot be true. _You cannot find him
 guilty. You dare not find him guilty on the supposition of its truth.
 The country will not stand by you if you believe it to be true. You
 will be impeached before the whole world if you say that it is true. I
 believe in my conscience it is false, because, consistently with the
 laws that govern human nature, it cannot be true._”

“The incident of his being found searching the clothes and under the
pillow,” said counsel, “ought not to be looked upon as suspicious, as
Mills, who came into the room at the time, thought no suspicion of
it, and there was nothing but the evidence of a kind and considerate
character in his having ordered the shell and the coffin; nor was
it possible to torture into a presumption of guilt the few words
of irritation which may have fallen from him in the course of a
conversation in which Mr. Stevens treated him with scorn, not to say
with insolence.” And then, alluding to the entry as to the effects of
strychnia in one of his medical books, the learned Serjeant turned
it most adroitly to his own purpose, as the basis of a peroration so
telling in its language and perfect in its construction that it must be
preserved intact.

 “The Crown had, no doubt, originally intended to rely upon the
 prisoner’s medical books as affording damning proof of his guilt; but
 I will refer to those volumes for evidences that will speak eloquently
 in his favour. In youth and early manhood there is no such protection
 for a man as the society of an innocent and virtuous woman to whom
 he is sincerely attached. If you find a young man devoted to such a
 woman, loving her dearly, and marrying her for the love he bears her,
 you may depend upon it that he is a man of humane and gentle nature,
 little prone to deeds of violence. To such a woman was Palmer attached
 in his youth, and I will bring you proof positive to show that the
 volumes cited against him were the books he used when a student, and
 that the manuscript passages are in the handwriting of his wife. His
 was a marriage of the heart. He loved that young and virtuous woman
 with a pure and generous affection; he loved her as he now loves
 her first-born, who awaits with trembling anxiety the verdict that
 will restore him to the arms of his father, or drive that father to
 an ignominious death upon the scaffold.” [The prisoner here covered
 his face with his hands and shed tears.] “Here in this book I have
 conclusive evidence of the kind of man that Palmer was seven years
 ago. I find in its pages the copy of a letter addressed by him while
 still a student to the woman whom he afterwards made his wife. It is
 as follows:—

 “‘MY DEAREST ANNIE,—I snatch a moment from my studies to your dear,
 dear little self. I need scarcely say that the principal inducement I
 have to work is the desire of getting my studies finished, so as to be
 able to press your dear little form in my arms. With best, best love,
 believe me, dearest Annie,

  ‘Your own WILLIAM.’

 “Now this is not the sort of letter that is generally read in courts
 of justice. It was no part of my instructions to read that letter, but
 the book was put in to prove that this man is a wicked, heartless,
 savage desperado; and I show you what he was seven years ago—that he
 was a man who loved a young woman for her own sake—loved her with a
 pure and virtuous affection—such an affection as would, in almost all
 natures, be a certain antidote against guilt. Such is the man whom it
 has been my duty to defend upon this occasion, and upon the evidence
 that is before you I cannot believe him to be guilty. Don’t suppose,
 gentlemen, that he is unsupported in this dreadful trial by his family
 and his friends. An aged mother, who may have disapproved of some
 part of his conduct, awaits with trembling anxiety your verdict; a
 dear sister can scarcely support herself under the suspense which now
 presses upon her; a brave and gallant brother stands by him to defend
 him, and spares neither time nor trouble to save him from an awful
 doom. I call upon you, gentlemen, to raise your minds to a capacity to
 estimate the high duty which you have to perform. You have to stem the
 torrent of prejudice; you have to vindicate the honour and character
 of your country; you have, with firmness and courage, to do your
 duty, and to find a verdict for the Crown if you believe that guilt
 is proved; but, if you have a doubt upon that point, depend upon it
 that the time will come when the innocence of that man will be made
 apparent, and when you will deeply regret any want of due and calm
 consideration of the case which it has been my duty to lay before you.”


The greater part of the tenth day was occupied with the reply
of the Attorney-General, dealing in the _first_ part with the
medico-scientific evidence brought forward for the defence, and
contrasting it with that on the part of the prosecution, and in the
_latter_ part pressing home with all his force of criticism and power
of language the suspicious acts of the prisoner before and after the
death of Cook. Between _idiopathic_ and _traumatic tetanus_ he drew
the distinction, “supported,” as he said, “by the evidence of men who
had seen, not here and there a stray case, but numerous instances of
that disease, that the former was a disease of days, and even weeks,
and not of hours or minutes.” He pointed out that such were really the
symptoms in the cases adduced for the defence, and ridiculed the notion
that the old ulcers of the spring of the year, with which Dr. Savage
had dealt successfully, could be assigned as the causes of this form of
disease in Cook’s case, and then criticised _seriatim_ the other forms
of convulsive disease to which the witnesses for the defence attributed
it. After referring to the statements of Dr. Savage and Mr. Stevens as
to the state of Cook’s health prior to his departure for Shrewsbury
races, he thus dealt with the evidences of his state of health offered
by the prisoner’s witnesses:—

 “It is said that at some former time he had exhibited his throat to
 some of the witnesses that were called, and had applied to Palmer for
 mercurial wash to apply to it, or to some of the ulcers. The precise
 period is not fixed, but it is perfectly clear that, though at one
 time he had adopted that course, under the recommendation of Dr.
 Savage he had got rid of it, and there is not the slightest pretence
 for saying that this man was suffering under a syphilitic affection
 of any kind; that fact was negatived distinctly and unequivocally by
 a man of the highest authority, a medical gentleman of eminence,
 under whose treatment the man got so rapidly well. It is a pretence,
 gentlemen, which has not the shadow of a foundation, and which I
 should be shrinking from my duty if I did not denounce as altogether
 unworthy of your consideration. There was nothing about the man,
 according to the statement of those who were competent to give you an
 opinion, which would warrant, for a single moment, the supposition
 that there was anything in any part of his body which could justify
 the notion of _traumatic tetanus_. Even if there were, the character
 which his symptoms assumed when the _tetanus_ set in, is utterly
 incompatible, according to the evidence of all the witnesses, with a
 case of _traumatic tetanus_.”

Then, after pointing out how the two cases of this disease put forward
by the defence were cases of days and hours, and, not like Cook’s,
of minutes, he proceeded to deal with the suggestion of _idiopathic

 “_Idiopathic tetanus?_ Proceeding from what? They say that Mr. Cook
 was a man of a delicate constitution, subject to excitement; that
 he had something the matter with his chest; that, in addition, he
 had this diseased condition of his throat, and, putting all these
 things together, they say, that if he took cold, he might get
 ‘_idiopathic tetanus_.’ We are launched into a sea of speculation and
 impossibilities. Mr. Nunneley, who came forward for the purpose of
 inducing you to believe this, goes through a bead-roll of the supposed
 infirmities of Mr. Cook; talks about his exciteability, about his
 delicacy of chest, about the affection of his throat, goes through
 these various heads, and says that these things may have predisposed
 him to ‘_idiopathic tetanus_,’ if he took cold. What evidence is
 there that he ever did take cold? Not the slightest in the world.
 From beginning to end he was never treated for cold by anybody, and
 never complained of it to anyone. _I cannot help saying that to me it
 seems a scandal upon a learned, distinguished, and liberal profession,
 that men should put forward such speculations as these, perverting
 facts, and drawing from them sophistical and unwarrantable conclusions
 with the view of deceiving a jury. I have the greatest respect for
 science, no man can have more; but I cannot repress my indignation
 and abhorrence when I see it thus perverted and prostituted to the
 purposes of a particular cause in a court of justice._ Do not talk
 to me about excitement, as Mr. Nunneley did the other day, being the
 cause of _idiopathic tetanus_. You remember the sort of excitement
 he spoke of, they are unworthy of your notice, and they were topics
 discreditable to be put forward by a witness as worthy of the
 attention of sensible men constituting such a tribunal as you are.”

Again, on Mr. Nunneley’s suggestion that it might be a case of
general convulsions accompanied by tetanic symptoms, said the

 “Well, but pause a moment, Mr. Nunneley; have you ever seen one single
 case in which death arising from general convulsions, accompanied by
 tetanic symptoms, has not ended in the unconsciousness of the patient
 before death? ‘No, I never knew such a case—not one. But in some book
 or other I am told that there is such a case reported;’ and he cites
 one, not for that purpose, I think, but with reference, to general
 convulsions being sometimes accompanied by tetanic symptoms and ending
 in death, from a very eminent author of the present day, Dr. Copland.
 Dr. Copland is living and Dr. Copland might have been called—was not
 called, notwithstanding the challenge which I threw out. Why? Because
 it is infinitely better in such a case to call together from the east
 and west practitioners of more or less obscurity, instead of bringing
 to bear upon the subject the light of science which is treasured in
 the breasts of the eminent practitioners with which this city abounds.”

Again, on Mr. Partridge’s evidence of the probable effect of the
granules on the spinal marrow,

 “I called his attention,” he said, “to what had evidently not been
 done before, namely, the symptoms of Mr. Cook’s case, and asked him
 in simple, straightforward terms whether, looking at these, he would
 pledge his opinion, in the face of the medical world and the Court,
 that this was a case of arachnitis, and he candidly admitted that he
 would not assert it.”

Against Dr. Macdonald’s epileptic convulsions with tetanic
complications, he cited the following from that gentleman’s

 “Did you ever know a case of epilepsy, with or without tetanic
 complications, in which consciousness was not destroyed before the
 patient died? He said ‘No, I cannot say I ever did, but I have read in
 some book that such a case occurred.’ Is there anything to make you
 think this was epilepsy? ‘Well, it may have been epilepsy, because I
 do not know what else to ascribe it to, but I must admit that epilepsy
 is characterised generally by unconsciousness.’ Well, then, what
 difference would tetanic complications make? That he is unable to

With the final suggestion of _Angina pectoris_, he could not deal so
minutely as with the four preceding ones.

 “The gentleman,” he said, “who was called at the last moment would
 not have escaped quite so easily if I had had the books to which he
 referred under my hand, and been able to expose, as I would have done,
 the ignorance or presumption of the assertion he dared to make. _I say
 ignorance or presumption; or, what is worse, an intention to deceive.
 I assert it in the face of the whole medical profession, and I am
 satisfied I shall have a verdict in my favour._”

He then concluded this part of his speech by calling attention to the
fact, that three of the witnesses for the prisoner, Mr. Partridge,
Dr. Robinson, and even Dr. Letheby, strongly as he was biased for the
defence, agreed with Sir B. Brodie and the other medical witnesses
for the Crown, that, “in the whole of their experience, learning, and
information, they knew of no known disease to which the symptoms of Mr.
Cook could possibly be referred—a fact the importance of which it was
impossible to exaggerate.”

Assuming, then, that all were agreed, that from the time that the final
paroxysm set in, the symptoms were similar to those of _strychnia
tetanus_, he dealt with the point which the defence had raised—which
he admitted deserved their most attentive consideration—that there
were points of difference, which had led some of the witnesses to the
conclusion that they could not have resulted from that cause.

 “Let us see,” he said, “what they are. In the first place, they showed
 that the period which elapsed between the supposed administration of
 the poison, and the first symptoms, was longer than they have ever
 observed in animals upon which they have experimented. The first
 observation which arises is this: that there is a known difference
 between animal and human life, in the power with which certain
 specific things act upon their organization. It may well be that
 poison administered to a rabbit will produce its effect in a given
 time. It by no means follows that it will produce the same effect in
 the same time on an animal of a different description. Still less does
 it follow that it will exercise its baneful influence in the same time
 on a human subject. The whole of the evidence on both sides leads
 to establish this fact, that not only in individuals of different
 species, but in individuals of the same species, the same poison and
 the same influence will produce effects different in degree, different
 in duration, different in power. But again, it is perfectly notorious
 that the rapidity with which the poison begins to work depends mainly
 upon the mode of its administration. If it is administered in a fluid
 state it acts with great rapidity. If it is given in a solid state its
 effects come on more slowly. If it is given in an indurated substance
 it will act with still greater tardiness. Then what was the period at
 which this poison began to act after its administration, assuming it
 to have been poison? It seems, from Mr. Jones’s statement, that Palmer
 came to administer the pills somewhere about 11 o’clock, but they were
 not administered on his first arrival, for the patient, as if with an
 intuitive sense of the death that awaited him, strongly resisted the
 attempts to make him take them; and no doubt these remonstrances, and
 the endeavours to overcome them, occupied some period of time. The
 pills were at last given. Assuming—which I only do for the sake of
 argument—that the pills contained strychnia, how soon did they begin
 to operate? Mr. Jones says he went down to his supper, and came back
 again about 12 o’clock. Upon his return to the room, after a word
 or two of conversation with Cook, he proceeded to undress and go to
 bed, and had not been in bed ten minutes before a warning came that
 another of the paroxysms was about to take place. The maidservant
 puts it still earlier, and it appears that as early as ten minutes
 before twelve the first alarm was given, which would make the interval
 little more than three-quarters of an hour. When these witnesses tell
 us that it would take an hour and a half, or two hours, we see here
 another of those exaggerated determinations to see the facts only in
 the way that will be most favourable to the prisoner. I find in some
 of the experiments that have been made that the duration of time,
 before the poison begins to work, has been little, if anything, less
 than an hour. In the case of a girl at Glasgow it was stated that it
 was three-quarters of an hour before the pills began to work. There
 may have been some reason for the pills not taking effect within
 a certain period after their administration. It would be easy to
 mix them up with substances difficult of solution, or which might
 retard their action. I cannot bring myself to believe that if in all
 other respects you are perfectly satisfied that the symptoms, the
 consequences, the effects, were analogous, and similar in all respects
 to those produced by strychnia, you will conclude that in this case
 strychnia was not administered, and found your conclusion on the
 simple fact that a quarter of an hour more than usual may have elapsed
 before the pills operated. But they say the premonitory symptoms were
 wanting. They assert that in the case of animals the animal at first
 manifests some uneasiness, shrinks, and draws itself into itself, as
 it were, and avoids moving; that certain involuntary twitchings about
 the head come on, and that there were no such premonitory symptoms
 in Cook’s case. I utterly deny the proposition. I say there were
 premonitory symptoms of the most marked character. He is lying in
 his bed; he suddenly starts up in an agony of alarm. What made him
 do that? Was there nothing premonitory there—nothing that warned
 him the paroxysm was coming on? He jumps up, says, ‘Go and fetch
 Palmer—fetch me help! I am going to be ill as I was last night!’ What
 was that but a knowledge that the symptoms of the previous night were
 returning, and a warning of what he might expect unless some relief
 were obtained? He sits up and prays to have his neck rubbed. What was
 the feeling about his neck but a premonitory symptom, which was to
 precede the paroxysms that were to supervene? He begs to have his neck
 rubbed, and that gives him some comfort. But here they say this could
 not have been tetanus from strychnia, because animals cannot bear to
 be touched, for a touch brings on a paroxysm—not only a touch, but
 a breath of air, a sound, a word, a movement of any one near will
 bring on a return of the paroxysm. Now, in three cases of death from
 strychnia we have shown that the patient has endured rubbing of the
 limbs, and received satisfaction from that rubbing. In Mrs. Smyth’s
 case, when her legs were distorted, she prayed and entreated that she
 might have them straightened. The lady at Leeds, in the case which Dr.
 Nunneley himself attended, implored her husband between the spasms to
 rub her legs and arms in order to overcome the rigidity. That case
 was within his own knowledge, and yet in spite of it, although he
 detected strychnia in the body of the unhappy woman, he dares to say
 that Cook’s having tolerated the rubbing between the paroxysms is
 a proof that he had not taken strychnia. Then there is the case of
 Clutterbuck. He had taken an overdose of strychnia, and suffered from
 the reappearance of tetanus, and his only comfort was to have his legs
 rubbed. Therefore, I say that the continued endeavour to persuade a
 jury that the fact of Cook’s having had his neck rubbed proves that
 this is not tetanus by strychnia, shows nothing but the dishonesty and
 insincerity of the witnesses who have so dared to pervert the facts.
 But they go further, and contend that Cook was able to swallow. So he
 was before the paroxysms came on. But nobody has ever pretended that
 he could swallow afterwards. He swallowed the pills, and what is very
 curious, and illustrates part of the theory, is this, that it was the
 act of swallowing the pills, a sort of movement in raising his head,
 which brought on the paroxysm of which he died.”

Having thus called attention to the fact, that against the three cases
of undoubted poisoning by strychnia (those of Mrs. Smyth, Mrs. Dove,
and Mr. Clutterbuck), the sufferers in which begged to be rubbed, all
that could be set up was, that animals when thus poisoned could not
bear to be touched, the Attorney-General dealt with the fact of the
rigidity of Cook’s body after death, on which Mr. Nunneley relied as
a proof that it could not be a case of strychnia poisoning. He cited
the evidence of Mr. Herapath, the very next analyst called by the
defence, that in two of his experiments on animals “the bodies had been
indurated and contorted,” as well that of Dr. Taylor that one of the
animals in his experiments was so rigid after death that it could be
held out in an horizontal position in the air as though it were on its
four legs on a plane surface. “What,” he said, “are you to think of
the honesty of this sort of evidence? “Again, on the question of the
fulness or emptiness of the heart, he thus accounted for the variation
of the symptoms:—

 “It is obvious to any one who reflects for a single moment that the
 question whether the heart shall be found compressed, or the lungs
 congested must depend upon the immediate cause of death, and we know
 that in cases of tetanus death may result from more than one cause.
 All the muscles of the body are subject to the exciting action of
 this powerful poison, but no one can tell in what order those muscles
 will be affected, or where the poisonous influence will put forth
 the fulness of its power. If it acts on the respiratory muscles,
 and arrests the play of the lungs, and with it the breathing of the
 atmospheric air, the result will be that the heart will be left full.
 But if some spasm seizes on the heart, contracting it and expelling
 from it the blood that it contains, and so produces death, the result
 will be that the heart will be found empty. So that you never have
 perfect certainty as to how these symptoms will manifest themselves
 after death; but that is again put forward as if the fact of the heart
 being empty is a conclusive fact of the death not having taken place
 from strychnia. Yet those men who come here as witnesses under the
 sanction of scientific authority, must have heard both these cases
 spoken to by medical gentlemen who had examined those two unfortunate
 patients after death, and who told us that in both cases they found
 the heart empty. That gets rid of that matter. As death takes place
 from one or other of these causes, so will be the appearance of the
 heart, the brain, and the body after death. There is nothing in
 this for a single moment to negative the conclusion which you would
 otherwise arrive at from the other symptoms.”

For the difficulty which he admitted arose from the non-discovery
of strychnia by the analyst, he assigned another reason besides
that of the condition of the stomach and other parts from the
negligence imputed to those who had conducted the _post mortem_
examination—namely, the probable smallness of the fatal dose. In
all the cases of experiments on animals in which the poison had been
detected, the doses had been one or even two grains, yet half a grain
would prove fatal; and where so little as that had been given in
experiments, Dr. Taylor and Dr. Rees had failed to detect it. On the
partisanship of Mr. Herapath, sitting by the side of the prisoner’s
counsel, prompting questions, and on his assertion that he believed
that Cook had been killed by strychnia and that Taylor could and ought
to have detected it, his remarks were those rather of a French Public
Prosecutor than an Attorney-General.

 “I do not say that alters the fact; but I do say that it induces one
 to look at the credit of those witnesses with a very great amount
 of suspicion. I reverence a man who, from a sense of justice and a
 love of truth—from those high considerations which form the noblest
 character of man—comes forward in favour of a man against whom the
 world may turn in a torrent of prejudice and aversion, and who stands
 and states what he believes to be the truth. But I abhor the traffic
 in testimony to which, I regret to say, men of science sometimes
 permit themselves to condescend.”

Whether Newton was believed or not—and he showed how his statement was
confirmed by Roberts’s account of Palmer’s conduct at the time of the
second purchase of poison, he urged that of the latter fact there could
be no doubt, and asked what was done with that strychnia. That Palmer
obtained this strychnia was not controverted, and what he did with it
was not attempted to be satisfactorily accounted for.

 “Purchased for whom? for what? If for a patient why is he not
 produced? If for any other purpose, let us at least have it explained.
 Has there been a shadow of an explanation? Alas, I grieve to say, none
 at all. Something was said, in the outset of the case, about dogs that
 had been troublesome in the paddocks, but that was in September. If
 there was any recurrence of this, why are not the grooms here to prove
 this? Some one must have assisted Palmer to destroy these dogs. Where
 are those persons? Why are they not called? Not only are they not
 called, they are not even named. My learned friend does not venture to
 breathe even a suggestion.”[69]

As for the witness called to disprove the incident of the brandy
and water at Shrewsbury, his solitary evidence, that of one of the
prisoner’s associates, he urged, would not stand for a moment against
those of the witnesses who had spoken for the prosecution. As for the
attempt to prove that Palmer could not have been in Rugeley at the time
when Newton swore that he purchased the strychnia, Mr. Jeremiah Smith’s
antecedents, the disgraceful part he had played in the insurance
transactions, let alone his exhibition in the witness-box, he added,
deprived his evidence of credit.

Again, antimony was undoubtedly discovered in the body, and yet no one
is known to have given it to Cook, unless Palmer did so in the broth,
the toast and water, and the coffee that he pressed him to take, and
provided for him. On the question of motive so anxiously laboured by
the defence, it was enough simply to repeat, the amounts of the debts
pressing on Palmer, and to bear in mind how drowning men will catch at
a straw. Cook’s bets, which Palmer had collected, staved off immediate
pressure; and had not Mr. Stevens, whose conduct as Cook’s relative the
Attorney-General earnestly defended, insisted on the _post-mortem_, and
thus brought about the inquest and this inquiry, it was possible that
the insurance office might have paid the policy on Walter’s life, and
the forged bills been thus redeemed in time to save exposure. Cook also
was valueless to help Palmer to keep these bills alive; even Pratt, the
60 per cent. money-lender, would not discount his acceptance for £500
without the security of a bill of sale on his horses.

Better acquainted with turf doings than his opponent, the
Attorney-General smiled at the idea, that because a man was another’s
confederate on the turf therefore he made himself responsible for his
debts, or that Cook, with all his friendship for Palmer, would beggar
himself for his sake.

 “Joint engagement they had but one, the £500 bill secured on Sirius
 and Polestar, and it was to meet this, and free his horses, that Cook
 gave £300 out of his receipts at Shrewsbury to Palmer to send up to
 Pratt, and wrote to Fisher to advance the other £200. No £300 was
 sent up, and the £200, with the bets collected by Herring, went not
 to free this bill, but to stop Pratt’s action on the forged bill of
 £2000 of Palmer’s. It was no doubt true that after a man’s death, his
 bets were irrecoverable and his betting-book useless. It was, however,
 useful to enable Palmer to give a list of bets to Herring to collect,
 the proceeds of which were turned to his own use, and the previous
 collection of which Palmer withheld from Stevens. In the same way
 would have gone the cheque for £350 for the stakes—whether a forgery
 or not—but for the accident of their not having paid over in time.
 Had Cook lived, the closely approaching claim on his £500 acceptance,
 which he believed to have been settled, would have revealed the whole
 transaction.” [Again, the Attorney-General pressed for the production
 of the £350 cheque filled up by Cheshire.] “Why should Cheshire be
 asked to fill it up? Just about this time Palmer was to meet Dr.
 Bamford and Jones in consultation—why not ask Mr. Jones, the trusted
 friend of Cook, tell him the same story as he did Cheshire, and not
 send for the latter? From the day that this cheque was drawn till he
 was arrested on the bill, Palmer had undisturbed possession of his own
 papers—from the day of his arrest till his trial the papers had been
 in safe custody. Why, then, is it not produced? Can you help drawing
 the inference that the transaction will not bear the light? Look,
 again, at the claim of £3000 or £4000 of bills on Cook’s estate, the
 document Cheshire refused to witness, which is also not produced—the
 letter to Pratt that he must have Polestar, and the instructions not
 to give any information on Cook’s affairs. Can you doubt that they
 were all part of one fraudulent and flagitious design, for the full
 completion of which the death of Cook was a necessary thing?”

Palmer’s conduct at the _post-mortem_, the tampering with the cover of
the jar—by whom?—his anxiety to upset Mr. Stevens when in charge of
it, because, it had been urged, of “his prying meddlesome curiosity;”
his presents and letters to the coroner; his prompting Cheshire to
tamper with the letter from Dr. Taylor; his anxiety to know, and to let
the coroner know, that strychnia had not been found; his suggestion to
call Smith (what a witness Jeremiah would have made!); his assertions
of previous epileptic fits, and his hope “that the verdict to-morrow
would be that he died of natural causes, and thus end it,” were all
dwelt upon: “little things, if taken individually, but taken as a
whole,” said the Attorney-General, “as I submit to you, leading
irresistibly to the conclusion of the guilt of this man.”

In concluding this masterly speech, though in some parts too like
fighting for a verdict, the Attorney-General criticised the assertion
by Serjeant Shee of his belief of the prisoner’s innocence:—

 “You have, indeed, had introduced into this case one other element,
 which I own, I think, had better have been omitted. You have had from
 my learned friend the unusual, I think I may say the unprecedented,
 assurance of his conviction of the innocence of his client. I can
 only say upon that point that I think it would have been better if
 my learned friend had abstained from giving such an assurance. What
 would he think of me if, imitating his example, I should at this
 moment declare to you, on my honour, as he did, what is the intimate
 conviction which has followed from my own conscientious consideration
 of this case? My learned friend also, in his address, of which all
 admired the power and ability, adopting a course which is sometimes
 resorted to by advocates, but which, in my mind, involves more or
 less a species of insult to the good sense or good feeling of the
 jury—endeavoured to intimidate you, by an appeal to your consciences,
 from discharging firmly and honestly the great and solemn duty which
 you are called upon to perform. My learned friend told you that, if
 your verdict in this case should be ‘guilty,’ the innocence of the
 prisoner would one day be made manifest, and that you would never
 cease to regret the verdict which you had given. If my learned friend
 were sincere in that—and I know that he was, for there is no man
 in whom the spirit of truth and honour is more keenly alive—if he
 said what he believed, I can only answer that it shows how, when a
 man enters upon the consideration of a case with a strong bias on
 his mind, he is liable to err. I think then that my learned friend
 had better have abstained from making any assurance which involved
 his conviction of the prisoner’s innocence. I think, further—in
 justice and consideration to you—that he should have abstained from
 representing to you that the voice of the country would not sanction
 the verdict which you might give. I say nothing of the inconsistency
 which is involved in such a statement, coming from one who but a
 short hour before had complained in eloquent terms of the universal
 torrent of passion and of prejudice by which he said that his client
 would be borne down; but in answer to my learned friend I say this
 to you:—Pay no regard to the voice of the country, whether it be
 for condemnation or for acquittal; pay no regard to anything but to
 the internal voice of your own consciences, and to that sense of
 duty which you owe to God and man upon this occasion, seeking no
 reward except the comforting assurance that when you look back to the
 proceedings of this day you will feel that you have discharged to the
 utmost of your ability and to the best of your power the duty which
 it was yours to perform. If on a review of this whole case, comparing
 the evidence on one side and on the other, and weighing it in the even
 scales of justice, you can come to the conclusion of innocence, or can
 even entertain that fair and reasonable amount of doubt of which the
 accused is entitled to the benefit, in God’s name acquit him; but if,
 on the other hand, all the facts and all the evidence lead your minds,
 with satisfaction to yourselves, to the conclusion of his guilt,
 then—but then only—I ask for a verdict of ‘guilty’ at your hands.
 For the protection of the good, for the repression of the wicked, I
 ask for that verdict by which alone—as it seems to me—the safety
 of society can be secured, and the demands, the imperious demands of
 public justice, can be satisfied.”


As the learned Judge’s charge occupied the whole of the eleventh and
until half-past four on the twelfth day, and was necessarily protracted
by his reading in detail nearly all the voluminous evidence to the
jury, it would be impossible to give it in full. I shall, therefore,
limit this report to such of his observations, as have not already been
given in the notes to the evidence of the various witnesses to whom
they applied.

Contrasting the practice in foreign countries of raising the
probability of guilt, from the fact of the previous commission by a
prisoner of other crimes against other persons, and even of a totally
different character to that with which he then stands charged, Lord
Campbell warned the jury that they must deal with him now as if he
were an entirely innocent man, and confine their attention solely
to the evidence bearing on the crime itself. He warned them also
that the expression of his counsel’s opinion, that the prisoner was
innocent, meant no more than the plea of “Not Guilty,” and that the
most inconvenient consequences would follow from regarding it in any
other light. Neither was it necessary, as a point of law, that the
poison by which it was charged that the murder was effected, should
be found in the body, or seen to be administered. They must look to
the medical evidence to see whether the death was from that poison, or
from natural causes, and to the moral evidence, whether that showed
that the prisoner not only had the opportunity, but that he actually
availed himself of that opportunity, and administered the poison. He
then proceeded to read over the evidence, commencing with that showing
the indebtedness of Palmer to Pratt, in which Cook had no liability,
and then taking up the joint liability of Palmer and Cook to the same
person in connection with the loan secured on Cook’s horses. With
reference to the former transactions he called attention to Palmer’s
letter to Pratt, “not to let Cook’s friends know what money Cook had
ever had from him,” remarking, “that it was written at a time when the
stepfather was making inquiries of a nature certainly very disagreeable
to Palmer.” On the latter correspondence he called attention to the
cheque for £375, sent by Pratt for Cook, on which Palmer wrote the
endorsement, and admitted “that it was very properly argued for the
defence, that it was possible that Cook had authorised some one else
to write it;” but coupled with it the circumstance that on the 13th of
November Palmer was in a state of embarrassment, and that on the 20th
he could pay Armshaw two £50 notes, and that on the 22nd he could pay a
further £50.

After next reading the evidence of Wright, the attorney of Birmingham,
to show how heavily Palmer was indebted to his brother, besides to
Pratt, and alluding to the bill of sale of all his property, he laid
great stress on the non-production of the cheque on Weatherby for £350,
the production of which would have settled the question whether or not
it was forged with the intention of appropriating it to his own use.
Mr. Serjeant Shee here interposing with the remark that Weatherby
thought the signature genuine, Lord Campbell replied:—

 “Mr. Weatherby said the body of the cheque was not in Cook’s
 handwriting, and he had paid no attention to the signature. You,
 gentlemen, must consider the evidence with regard to this part of the
 case. The cheque is not produced, though it was sent back by Weatherby
 to Palmer. It is not produced” [here the judge read the evidence of
 the search for papers at Palmer’s]. “It might have been expected that
 the cheque so returned to Palmer, who professed to set store upon it,
 and to have given value for it, would have been found, but it is not
 forthcoming. It is for you to draw whatever inference may suggest
 itself to you from this circumstance.”

The judge then alluded to the fact of Palmer remaining in the
neighbourhood after suspicion had been excited against him, as of
importance, and worthy of being taken into consideration, though, as he
added, “he might have done so, perhaps, thinking that from the care he
had taken nothing would be discovered against him,” and that neither
the bills nor the document by which Cook was said to have admitted
his liability on them were produced, and closed this portion of the

On the incident of the brandy-and-water at Shrewsbury, the learned
judge remarked, “What a mysterious circumstance it was, that Cook,
after he had stated his suspicions, still retained his confidence in
Palmer—was still constantly in his company—during the few remaining
days of his life, still sent for him whenever in distress; and, in
fact, seemed to a great extent to be under his influence.” In a
subsequent part of his charge, when dealing with the evidence for the
defence, he contrasted the evidence of Myatt in contradiction to that
of Brooks and Fisher, and left the jury to draw their own conclusion
which they would believe. Cook’s letter to Fisher to pay Pratt the £200
was also here read and commented on, and the jury left to infer why he
did not go to London as he proposed, and why he put the collection of
his bets in Herring’s hands instead of Fisher’s—“if he did so.”

Coming now to the illness at Rugeley, he said, “he was bound to declare
that not one fact had been adduced to prove that Mills had been bribed,
or that Mr. Stevens had read over the newspaper to her, to influence
her evidence in a particular direction: it was a gratuitous assertion,
unsupported by evidence, and distinctly denied.” Whether the difference
of Palmer’s dress when he ran over, as described by Mills or Barnes,
was of sufficient importance, was a question for the jury, and also
whether Mills’s deposition before the coroner, and her evidence in
Court (the deposition was read) was not substantially the same. On the
letter from Palmer calling in Jones, cited by the defence as a proof of
innocence, he said:—

 “It is important, however, to consider at what period of Cook’s
 illness Jones was sent for, and in what condition he was when Jones
 arrived. Palmer’s assertion in the letter was, that Cook had been
 suffering from diarrhœa, and of this statement we have not the
 slightest confirmation in the evidence. When Jones, looking at Cook’s
 tongue, observed it was not the tongue of a bilious attack, Palmer’s
 reply was, ‘You should have seen it before.’ What reason could Palmer
 have for using these words, when there is not the slightest evidence
 of Cook having suffered from such an illness?” Then, having had
 Jones’s deposition before the coroner read, he added, “It is for you
 to say whether in your opinion this deposition at all varies from his
 evidence given here: I confess that I see no variation, and no reason
 to suppose that his evidence is not the evidence of sincerity and

After observing that the evidence of Dr. Savage showed that previous to
his departure for Shrewsbury Cook was in better health than he had been
for a long time, the learned judge read the evidence of Newton, and his
deposition before the coroner. Remarking on his omitting to mention the
first purchase of strychnia until the Tuesday morning, when coming to
London, he said:—

 “You will observe that though there has been an omission, there is
 no contradiction. You are then to consider what is the probability
 of his inventing this wicked lie—a most important lie, if lie it
 be. He had no ill will towards the prisoner at the bar, he had never
 quarrelled with him, and had nothing to get by injuring him. I cannot
 see any motive for his inventing a lie to take away the life of the
 prisoner. No inducement was held out to him by the Crown. He says
 himself that no inducement was held out to him, and that at last he
 disclosed this circumstance from a sense of duty. If you believe his
 evidence, it is very strong against the prisoner.” And then, reading
 the evidence of Roberts and remarking that he was not cross-examined
 or in any way contradicted, he added—“If you couple that with the
 statement of Newton—believing that statement—you have evidence of
 strychnia having been procured by the prisoner on the Monday night
 before the symptoms of strychnia were exhibited by Cook; and by the
 evidence of Roberts, undenied and unquestioned, that on Tuesday six
 grains of strychnia were supplied to him. Supposing you should come
 to the conclusion that the symptoms of Cook were consistent with
 strychnia, then a case is made out for the Crown. The learned counsel
 did not favour us with the theory he had formed in his own mind
 with respect to that strychnia. There is no evidence—there is no
 suggestion—how it was applied; what became of it.[70] That must not
 influence your verdict, unless you come to the conclusion that Cook’s
 symptoms were consistent with death by strychnia. _But if you come to
 that conclusion, I should shrink from my duty—I should be unworthy
 to sit here—if I did not call your attention to the inference, that
 if he purchased that strychnia, he purchased it for the purpose of
 administering it to Cook._”

Then, after vindicating the conduct of Mr. Stevens in relation to the
loss of the betting-book, Lord Campbell alluded to the pushing of the
jar, at the _post-mortem_, as probably an accident, and its removal
as “nothing more than the pushing, were it not coupled with evidence
afterwards given, which might lead to the inference that there was a
plan to destroy it and prevent the analysis of its contents.” He saw no
reason to doubt the evidence of the postboy, and did not believe that
Stevens had given Palmer such provocation as to induce him to offer
Myatt a bribe to upset him. “That is not indeed a decisive proof of
guilt, but it is for you to say whether the prisoner did not enter on
that contrivance to prevent an opportunity of examining the jar, which
might contain evidence against him.”

Cheshire’s evidence as to filling up the cheque, and being asked
to witness Cook’s signature, as if he was present, to the document
professing to admit his liability on Palmer’s bills; his subsequent
dealing with Dr. Taylor’s letter to Mr. Gardner; Palmer’s letter to
the coroner stating the result of the analysis; his presents to the
coroner; and his instructions to Bate not to let anyone see him deliver
his letter to Mr. Ward, together with the instructions to Herring
about Cook’s bets, were then carefully reviewed before entering on the
medico-scientific evidence offered on the part of the prosecution.

The evidence of this class of witnesses has been so fully reported,
that it is needless to repeat the Judge’s passing comments on their
descriptions of the symptoms of tetanus as consistent with those
in Cook’s case, and with those exhibited in the cases of undoubted
poisoning by strychnia, detailed by the medical men who had attended
the several patients. With reference to the results of the analysis by
Drs. Taylor and Rees, and of the effect of their evidence, the learned
Judge made the following comment on their experiments on animals:—

 “There is here a most important question for your consideration. Great
 reliance is placed by the prisoner’s counsel, and very naturally
 so, upon the fact that no trace of strychnia was detected in the
 stomach of Cook by Dr. Taylor and Dr. Rees, who alone analysed it and
 experimented upon it. But, on the other hand, you must bear in mind
 that we have their own evidence to show that there may be and have
 been cases of death by strychnia in which the united skill of these
 two individuals has failed to detect the presence of the strychnia
 after death. Both Dr. Taylor and Dr. Rees have stated upon their oaths
 that in two cases where they knew death to have been occasioned by
 strychnia—the poison having, in fact, been administered with their
 own hands—they failed to discover the slightest trace of the poison
 in the dead bodies of the animals on which they had experimented. It
 is possible that other chemists might have succeeded in detecting
 strychnia in those animals and strychnia also in the jar containing
 the stomach and intestines of Cook; but, however this may be, it is
 beyond all question that Dr. Taylor and Dr. Rees failed to discover
 the faintest indications of strychnia in the bodies of two animals
 which they had themselves poisoned with that deadly drug. Whatever
 may be the nature of the different theories propounded for the
 explanation of this fact, the fact itself is deposed to on oath; and,
 if we believe the witnesses, does not admit of doubt.” With regard
 to the letter from Dr. Taylor to Mr. Gardner, stating that neither
 strychnia, prussic acid, nor opium had been found in the body, his
 lordship said, “this letter was written before Cook’s symptoms had
 been communicated to them; but they had been informed that prussic
 acid, strychnia, and opium had been bought by Palmer on the Tuesday.
 They searched for all these poisons, and found none. The only poison
 they found was antimony, and they did not, therefore, in the absence
 of symptoms, attribute death to strychnia, as they could not at that
 time; but they say it might have been produced by antimony, as they
 say that the quantity found in the body was no test of the quantity
 taken into the system.”—“For the discovery of strychnia Dr. Taylor
 experimented upon the bodies of animals which he had himself killed by
 this poison, but in them no strychnia could be found. I do not know
 what interest Dr. Taylor could be supposed to have to give evidence
 against the prisoner. He was regularly employed by the Crown, and knew
 nothing of Palmer until he was called upon by Mr. Stevens, and the
 jar was given to him. He could have no enmity against the prisoner
 and no interest whatever to misrepresent facts.” [On being reminded
 that Dr. Taylor’s experiments on the two rabbits were not made until
 after the inquest,] “that,” said Lord Campbell, “makes no difference.
 If that experiment was made this morning the fact would be the same.
 Against Dr. Rees there is not even the imputation of having written
 an indiscreet letter to a newspaper. Yet Dr. Rees concurs with Dr.
 Taylor, that these rabbits were killed by strychnia; that they did
 whatever was in their power, according to their skill and knowledge,
 to discover strychnia, as they did with the contents of the jar, and
 that no strychnia could be discovered. As to antimony, he corroborates
 the testimony of Dr. Taylor. Antimony is a component of tartar emetic;
 tartar emetic produces vomiting, and you will judge from the vomiting
 at Shrewsbury and Rugeley whether antimony may have been administered
 to Cook at those places. Antimony may not have produced death, but the
 question of its administration is a part of the case which you must
 most seriously consider.”

Having then read the evidence of Professor Brande, Dr. Christison,
and Dr. John Jackson, Lord Campbell, at eight o’clock, reserved the
evidence for the defence to the next day.

On resuming his charge the next morning, Lord Campbell commenced by a
brief summary of his previous remarks.

 “The evidence for the prosecution certainly did present a serious case
 against the prisoner. It appeared that in November last he was most
 seriously embarrassed, and that he had to make payments for which he
 was entirely unprepared. There were actions against himself and his
 mother, and he had no credit left in any quarter. Cook by the races at
 Shrewsbury became master of £1000, and the inference had been drawn
 that Palmer formed a design of appropriating it to his own purposes,
 in order to relieve himself from his embarrassments. Again, it was
 proved that the prisoner drew a cheque in the name of Cook which was a
 forgery, for the purpose of appropriating to himself Cook’s property.
 What would have been the effect of the survival of Cook under those
 circumstances it would be for the jury to consider. No doubt, if Cook
 had lived, that cheque would have been brought forward, and would
 have led to an exposure of all Palmer’s delinquencies. With respect
 to the joint liability of Cook and Palmer, it was said that it was
 disadvantageous to Palmer that Cook should die; but there seemed to
 be some doubt whether it was not the intention of Palmer to possess
 himself of the whole of Cook’s property, and in that case he had a
 direct interest in his death. Then as to the medical evidence which
 had been adduced for the prosecution. The jury had heard the evidence
 of able and honourable men, who said that the deceased did not die a
 natural death, and that the symptoms were consistent with death by
 strychnia, and not consistent with death by ordinary _tetanus_. There
 was no point of law which required that the strychnia should be found
 in the body of the deceased, and it would therefore be for the jury
 on this point to consider whether the evidence of the prosecution was
 sufficient, or whether they could rely upon the answer which had been
 put in by the defence. There was direct evidence that the prisoner
 procured the poison of strychnia on Monday and Tuesday. What he did
 with it was not for him in that place to affirm. It was impossible for
 the jury not to pay attention to the conduct of the prisoner before
 and after the death of Cook, and they would not fail to consider,
 as part of those circumstances, his very remarkable proceedings in
 reference to the betting-book, which had never been discovered.”

He then proceeded to consider the evidence tendered by medical and
scientific experts for the defence.

 “Then as to the evidence which had been put in for the defence, the
 jury had had before them gentlemen of great ability and high honour,
 who had given in detail the results of their experience. With that
 evidence he would now proceed to deal.” [The learned judge read in
 extenso the voluminous evidence of Mr. Nunneley, the surgeon, of
 Leeds.] “The jury had heard the manner in which Mr. Nunneley had given
 his evidence, and they must form their own opinion of it. Certainly he
 seemed to display an interest in the case not altogether consistent
 with the character of a witness. He differed very much from several
 witnesses who were examined for the prosecution, and particularly
 in reference to rigidity being produced by strychnia after death.
 These and similar questions were for the jury. The next witness who
 was examined was Mr. Herapath, of Bristol, a very eminent analytical
 chemist, who had paid great attention to the subject of poisons.
 That gentleman said that where there had been death by strychnia it
 ought to be discovered. But it appeared, on cross-examination, that
 he had expressed an opinion, on another occasion, that Cook died from
 strychnia, but that Dr. Taylor had not taken the proper means to find
 it. After adverting to the evidence of Mr. Rogers, his lordship read
 that of Dr. Letheby, of the London Hospital, the medical officer of
 the City of London, of whom he said that he seemed to prove that cases
 of this sort were very variable, and that he admitted that the Romsey
 case was an exception. Now, while these exceptional cases existed,
 it could hardly be said that the principles laid down by Dr. Letheby
 were sufficient to rebut the evidence in chief. His lordship next
 referred to Mr. Gay’s case of the omnibus conductor. This, he said,
 was a case of idiopathic tetanus. The jury would say, on comparing
 it with the symptoms in Cook’s case, whether his was also a case of
 idiopathic tetanus. The great weight of evidence seemed to show that
 Cook’s was not a case of idiopathic any more than it was a case of
 traumatic tetanus. Mr. Gay’s case differed altogether from that of
 Cook, and as far as he could see there was no analogy between them.
 Passing next to the evidence of Mr. Ross, and to his case of a man,
 who died from ulcers, his lordship remarked that he did not see why
 this case was brought before the Court unless to prove that Cook’s was
 of the same sort. This was a case, whether of idiopathic or traumatic
 tetanus, in which it was sought to prove that death was caused by
 bruises on the body. But there were no bruises of any sort about
 Cook, and therefore the analogy failed. In reference to the important
 evidence of Dr. Wrightson, who said he had detected strychnia in
 putrifying blood and decomposed matter, and that strychnia did not
 under such circumstances decompose, he must say that this witness was
 a scientific and honourable man, and had spoken throughout with proper
 caution. According to Dr. Wrightson, the discovery of the poison
 should have been proved, but at the same time his evidence did not
 overthrow the case for the prosecution; and it would be for the jury
 to say whether, in the event of poison actually being in the body, the
 tests employed to detect it were sufficient. Referring to the evidence
 of Mr. Partridge, his lordship said that the witness had stated that
 the symptoms in Cook’s case did not correspond with what he should
 have expected to have found from strychnia, but he spoke from his own
 experience, and he admitted that the symptoms were very variable; and
 he did not seem, therefore, to speak with any degree of certainty upon
 the subject. Mr. Gay’s case of a boy who suffered from tetanus from
 an injury to his toe was, his lordship thought, not at all analogous
 to that of Cook; nor was that of the young woman who had an attack of
 tetanus without any apparent cause, and recovered, as deposed to by
 Dr. McDonald. The last witness had given his opinion that Cook died
 from epileptic convulsions, accompanied with tetanic complications,
 and this he thought might have been produced by mental or sensual
 excitement. The jury would see to what length this witness went, and
 it would be for the jury to say what weight they attached to his
 evidence. Having adverted to several cases adduced by the defence, and
 which his lordship considered bore no analogy to Cook’s, he read the
 evidence of Dr. Robinson, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, who ascribed the death
 to epilepsy. He then passed on to Dr. Richardson, who narrated the
 particulars of a remarkable case of angina pectoris, to the symptoms
 of which disease he said Cook’s bore a remarkable resemblance. The
 witness, his lordship said, seemed a most respectable man, and he said
 that the symptoms in this case were consistent with those arising from
 strychnia, and that if he had known as much of strychnia at that time
 as he did now, he should have searched for it in that case. It would
 be for the jury to consider whether Cook’s symptoms were consistent
 with strychnia, and if so, that ought to lead them as to the opinion
 they should form on the case. His lordship having adverted to the
 evidence of Catharine Watson, the girl who was attacked with tetanus
 in Scotland, and to other witnesses who were recalled, said this was
 all the medical evidence that had been adduced by the counsel for
 the defence of the prisoner. But then, gentlemen, said Lord Campbell,
 comes that most important question, whether the symptoms of the
 deceased were consistent with death by poisoning with strychnia. You
 will say whether your opinion upon that subject is altered by the
 evidence given on the part of the prisoner. Several of the witnesses
 called by the prisoner seem to admit (although, of course, you will
 form your own judgment upon it) that those symptoms were consistent
 with strychnia, although, in the absence of evidence to show that
 strychnia was administered, they could not come to such a conclusion.”

Lord Campbell’s subsequent remarks on the witnesses who were called to
contradict those for the prosecution as to the state of Cook’s health,
the incident of the brandy and water at Shrewsbury, and the possibility
of Palmer arriving in Rugeley from London at the time spoken to by
Newton, have already been given in previous notes. In conclusion, he

 “The conduct of the prisoner in requesting to have the body fastened
 up, with respect to the betting book, and the tampering with the
 coroner, remained unanswered, as did also the bribe offered to the
 postboy. No explanation was offered as to the strychnia purchased
 by the prisoner on the Tuesday morning, the proof of which stands
 uncontradicted; no evidence has been given of any purpose to which it
 was to be applied, and no explanation of what became of that poison.
 The case was now before the jury. They must not act upon suspicion,
 or even strong suspicion, and they must only pronounce a verdict of
 guilty if their minds were made up. If, however, they could come to
 the conclusion that he was guilty, they would return such a verdict
 unfettered and undeterred by any intimidation.”

 _Mr. Serjeant Shee_ objected to the question put to the jury by the
 judge. He submitted that the question, whether the symptoms of Cook’s
 death were consistent with death by strychnia was a wrong one, unless
 coupled with the words “and inconsistent with death from natural
 causes,” and that the question should then be “whether the medical
 evidence established beyond all reasonable doubt that the death of
 Cook was attributable to strychnia.”

 _Baron Alderson._—“That is the question that has been put.”

 _Mr. Serjeant Shee_ submitted that the question whether the symptoms
 were consistent with strychnia ought not to have been put.

 _Lord Campbell._—“ I have told the jury that, unless they think the
 symptoms described agree with the supposition that the deceased died
 from strychnia, they must acquit the prisoner.”

 _Baron Alderson._—“That has been stated in the speech.”

After some further remarks from Mr. Serjeant Shee, Lord Campbell
told the jury that not only must they be satisfied that the symptoms
described agreed with the supposition that the deceased died from
strychnia, but that it was administered by the prisoner.

The jury retired at 2.20, and at 3.45 returned a verdict of guilty, and
Lord Campbell passed sentence of death, to be carried out at Stafford

The prisoner heard the sentence perfectly unmoved. At one time he drew
himself up, as if about to make some remark, but did not attempt to
speak. He stood quite calm, and when his Lordship had concluded, turned
round and walked from the dock with the same coolness as he had shown
during the whole of his protracted trial.

Contrasting the procedure in this memorable trial with what it might
and no doubt would have been in a criminal court in France, Mr.
Justice Stephen makes the following remarks:—“Not less remarkable
than the careful way in which all topics of prejudice were avoided
was the extreme fulness and completeness of the evidence as to facts
really relevant to the case. Nothing was omitted which the jury could
properly want to know, nor anything which the prisoner could possibly
wish to say. No case could set in a clearer light the characteristic
features of English Criminal Law—namely, its essentially litigious
character, and the way in which it deals with scientific evidence. A
study of the case will show, first, that evidence could not be more
condensed, more complete, more clearly directed to the point at issue;
secondly, that the subjection of all the witnesses, and especially
the scientific witnesses, to the most rigorous cross-examination is
absolutely essential to the trustworthiness of their evidence. The
clearness and skill with which the various witnesses, especially
those for the defence, were cross-examined, and forced to admit that
they could not really distinguish the symptoms of Cook from those of
poisoning by strychnia, was such an illustration of the efficiency of
cross-examination as is rarely indeed afforded.”

“The defence was by far the least impressive part of the trial, but
that was mainly because there was nothing to say. It was impossible to
suggest any innocent explanation of Palmer’s conduct. It was proved
to demonstration that he was in dire need of money in order to avoid
a prosecution for forgery; that he robbed his friend of all he had
by a series of devices which he must instantly have discovered if he
had lived; that he provided himself with the means of committing the
murder just before Cook’s death; and that he could neither produce the
poison he had bought, nor suggest any innocent reason for buying it.
There must have been some mystery in the case which has never been
discovered. Palmer, at and before his death, was repeatedly pressed to
say whether he was guilty or not, and told that everyone would believe
him guilty if he did not emphatically deny it. He could only say Cook
was not poisoned by strychnia, and I have reason to know that he was
anxious that Mr. Herapath should examine the body for strychnia, though
aware that he could detect the 1-50,000th part of a grain. He may have
discovered some way of administering it which would render detection
impossible, but it is difficult to doubt that he used it; for if not,
why buy it?”[71]


 _Before_ BARON BRAMWELL, NORTHERN CIRCUIT, YORK, _July 16, 17, and 18,

 _For the Prosecution_: Mr. Overend, Q.C., Mr. G. Hardy, and Mr. L. H.

 _For the Defence_: Mr. Bliss, Q.C., Mr. Serjeant Wilkins, and Mr.

_William Dove_, aged 30, was indicted for the murder of his wife, on
the 1st of March, 1856, at Leeds.


The prisoner, the son of a respectable leather manufacturer at Leeds,
had been, from his childhood to his seventh year, more than usually
fractious, mischievous, ill-natured, and irrational in his tricks:
putting lighted candles more than once in a basket and locking them
in a cupboard: pouring some kind of spirits on his bedroom curtains
and setting them on fire: chasing his sisters with a red-hot poker and
threatening to burn them: hanging a cat by its tail out of window:
cutting himself with knives and writing his name with his blood: an
irregular and inapt scholar, especially in his religion.[73] The usher
at his first school, where he was from the age of ten to thirteen
years, regarded him “as a boy of very low intellect, great inability
of mind, great want of moral power, evil and vicious propensities.
Once, when he had got a pistol, he told his schoolfellows he was
going to shoot his father—a dull boy, and a had boy. I then thought
him insane, but did not feel myself in a position to object to his
being flogged.”[74] Mr. Highley, the master of this school, spoke
strongly of Dove’s bad conduct, which he attributed to his reasoning
powers being very limited. “He appeared,” said the witness, “to have
no idea of any consequences; to be deprived of reason. I am satisfied
he was labouring under an aberration of intellect.”[75] Having been
expelled from his school, his father took the opinion of a Mr. Lord,
a schoolmaster, as to what was best to be done with the boy. “I could
make no impression on his heart or his head,” said Mr. Lord. “He
could not appreciate what I said. He listened, but I could make no
impression—get no rational answers. When I heard of his engagement I
told his future wife’s brother-in-law that inquiry ought to be made
about Dove on account of his unaccountable irrational conduct.” By Mr.
Lord’s advice, he was sent to learn farming, for more than five years,
with a Mr. Frankish. Here again his mischievous and cruel propensities
were exhibited—putting vitriol on the tails of some cows, burning
half-grown kittens with it, putting it into the horse-trough, and
setting fire to the gorse. He was as unapt a scholar at farming as at
religion and grammar. Again, when he went to another farmer for a year,
he was the same dull unpractical pupil. He was now sent to America for
a short visit, returning with travellers’ stories of his adventures of
unusual wildness and incredibility. Still, however, he was deemed by
his father capable of being trusted with a farm, where his mischievous
and extravagant conduct astonished his servants, and made them regard
him as “not of a sound mind.”[76] At this time, 1852, he married,
quarrelling or playing with his wife like a child, and changed his
farm more than once, without apparent reason. Other witnesses spoke to
the incoherence of his conversation: of his lying on the ground and
crying without a cause; complaining of noises in his house; trying
to reap his own corn in a green state; exhibiting conjuring tricks,
and talking of having put a spell on the steward of the proprietor
of one of his farms. Eventually, in consequence of his intemperate
habits, he had to give up farming and remove into the outskirts of
Leeds, where he lived on an annuity of £90 a year, left to him by his
father, who died in 1854. With nothing to do, he became an habitual
drunkard, aggravating his eccentricities, stimulating his mischievous
propensities, and stupefying himself as to the consequences of his
actions to himself.[77] With such propensities, it may be conceived
that his wife led a wretched life; that quarrels were frequent; that at
one time he threatened her with a pistol; and that eventually, after a
very few years, they occupied separate beds, and rarely met, except at
meals. Unfortunately for both of them, an arrangement for a separation
was broken off by the interposition of injudicious friends, and until
the beginning of 1856 they endured their miserable life together.


It was at this time that the enquiries into the death of Cook at
Rugeley were filling the newspapers, and the evidence on the inquest
became matter of popular discussion. Among Dove’s friends was one
Harrison, known as the Witchman of Leeds, who, according to his own
account, was “a dentist, a water caster, a caster of nativities, and a
believer in the stars.” On hearing this man read, in a public-house,
the results of the analytical examination of Cook’s body by Dr. Taylor,
as related at the inquest, and that gentleman’s statement of the
difficulty, if not impossibility, of discovering strychnia by chemical
analysis, Dove appears to have been forcibly struck by the revelation.
He asked Harrison either to make or get him some strychnia, and, when
he refused, said he could get it elsewhere. Probably at that time the
idea of poisoning his wife was first entertained by him. Unfortunately
he had no difficulty in obtaining the necessary poison, as he was
intimately acquainted with Mr. Morley, the surgeon of Leeds, who had
attended the Dove family for many years, and was a constant visitor
to his surgery. Subsequently, therefore, to his acquiring knowledge
of what had happened in Palmer’s case, he had repeated conversations
with one of Mr. Morley’s pupils about strychnia; and on the 10th of
February, on the plea that his house was infested by rats, and that he
was worried by his neighbour’s cats, he obtained from him ten grains of
this deadly poison. This he placed about the house in a careless way,
and destroyed a cat, the body of which he buried in the midden. Again
on the 17th he got four or five grains more of strychnia, promising the
pupil who gave it to him the skin of a grey cat which he professed to
be about to poison with it. At this time, the pupil was of opinion that
Dove noted whereabouts on the shelf the bottle of strychnia was placed.
A few days after he was seen by Mr. Morley’s coachman in the surgery
alone, with the gas turned up, which, as the coachman came near, he
turned down, and in an apparent flurry, meeting him at the door, gave
as his excuse that he had come to light his pipe.[78] The suggestion
of the prosecution was that at this time, knowing where the bottle of
strychnia was kept, he took the opportunity of helping himself to
some more of the poison. During all this time it was evident, from his
conversations on strychnia and the impossibility of its detection, that
he had studied Palmer’s case.

Previously to Sunday, the 24th of February, Mrs. Dove had not been
well, but on that day appeared quite recovered. On the Monday, however,
when she went upstairs with her servant to make the beds, she was
suddenly taken ill, staggered, became paralysed, twitched and jumped,
and when put on the bed, on the slightest touch either of her body or
the bedclothes, had renewed convulsions. Dove, who was downstairs,
was sent for, and went for the doctor, to whom he said that his wife
had been ill all night, and asked if his wife died would there be a
coroner’s inquest?[79] After two or three hours the convulsions passed
away, and the patient remained free from pain. Dove’s attention to his
wife was suspiciously marked. He gave her medicine with his own hands;
called in a neighbour to attend to her, and seemed greatly distressed
at her condition. Three days after, a second attack of the same nature
occurred, and again he told the doctor he was sure his wife would die.
She was seen to cry bitterly, and heard to say that she was sure the
medicine, of the bitter taste of which she complained, was killing her.
Next evening a third attack came on, with the same symptoms. And on the
28th Dove predicted that she would have another attack about ten that
evening; at that hour he gave her the medicine, and in half an hour
afterwards another and more severe attack came on, so severe that she
said, “Oh dear, I thought it was all over.” In all these attacks after
a time the spasms and convulsions passed away, and she was apparently
only suffering from exhaustion after them, and otherwise quite well.
On Saturday Dove, who had gone out, returned much in liquor, and at 8
P.M. gave her her medicine. “It is very disagreeable,” she said, “hot
and bitter.” He washed out the glass and wiped it as usual, saying, “I
always wash it out; medicine is always such nasty stuff.” Within half
an hour of taking this dose an attack more than usually violent came
on, and after a series of spasms and convulsions the poor creature died
about twenty minutes to eleven that night.

Struck with the resemblance of the symptoms of Mrs. Dove’s attacks to
those due to poisoning by strychnia, and hearing from his pupil of the
purchase of that drug by the prisoner, Mr. Morley, who had attended
her, decided on having a _post-mortem_ examination. This Dove, who
had on her first attack asked Morley’s pupil whether Mr. Morley would
have a _post-mortem_ examination if his wife died, tried to prevent,
on the plea of his having promised his wife that it should not be
allowed, and his horror at the desecration of her body. Mr. Morley,
however, obtained the consent of Dove’s mother, and persevered. On
the examination of the body by himself and Mr. Nunneley, the surgeon,
and the subsequent chemical analysis of its different parts, every
test proved the presence of strychnia in large quantities. During the
examination of the body, blood to the extent of a crown piece fell on
the floor of the room, and a week after the spaniel of a woman who was
cleaning the room was supposed to have licked it, and as she left on
the completion of her work, was attacked with violent spasms, fell on
its back, and died at once. On the examination of its body strychnia
was also detected. The prisoner, who after his wife’s funeral had
wandered about, asking Harrison and other persons whether it was safe
to go back, and talking about the possibility of the wife having taken
the strychnia by accident, as he had carelessly placed it in his
razor case, and put it about in the house, was subsequently arrested
and put upon his trial. It is needless to give in detail the evidence
of the persons by whom the above facts were proved, which were hardly
traversed by counsel for the defence. The testimony with reference to
the symptoms and the results of the _post-mortem_ examination cannot,
however, with safety be abridged, seeing the importance attached to
this case in Palmer’s trial.


_Ann Fisher_, who took her daughter’s place in the house in consequence
of the latter’s illness, said—

 “On Saturday and Sunday Mrs. Dove appeared pretty well, and on the
 latter day went to church. On Monday, February 25, after breakfast,
 she complained of her legs, and said she felt curious, and fell in
 the bedroom whilst helping witness to make the beds. Witness caught
 her in her arms, and called up Dove, who went for Mrs. Witham (next
 door neighbour), and witness put Mrs. Dove to bed. _She started, and
 twitched, and jumped, and, even if witness touched the bedclothes,
 or walked across the room, complained that it made her worse._ Mr.
 Scarth (Morley’s assistant) came and gave some medicine, and she felt
 better. The jerkings continued from two to two and a half hours. She
 lay on her right side, and her breathing was rather difficult: she was
 quite sensible the whole time. She seemed better in the afternoon, and
 pretty well the next morning. On Wednesday, the 27th, _she had another
 attack, beating, jumping, and starting; complained about her legs and
 back being very bad: said there was a stiffness in them; they seemed
 paralysed, and she could not move them about_. _She lay on her side,
 and her breathing was_ very bad when she had these attacks on her. She
 was better after the medicines on the two occasions on which I gave
 them to her myself. I cannot recollect Thursday, but on Friday night,
 about 10 P.M., I was called up into the bedroom. Dove was dressed,
 standing by the bedside holding her hand. _Her back was quite arched,
 and she was making a great noise in her inside. She said, ‘Oh dear, I
 thought it had been my last.’ Her breathing was very difficult. She
 complained about her jaws being stiff._ I stayed with her till about 2
 A.M., and she was better, and I went to bed. Next morning she said she
 was very poorly, and could not take any coffee. She had had no rest
 all night. She took some coffee afterwards, and had a little rest. In
 the afternoon Mrs. Witham was with her. She appeared much better then,
 washed herself _and rubbed her legs, which seemed to ease her_. She
 became worse at 8.30 P.M. The bell was rung: Mrs. Wood and Mrs. Witham
 were with her. Dove was out—had gone out about a quarter to half an
 hour. _She then moaned and screamed; her body was quite arched and her
 feet projected right from her body, and she was in that state till
 twenty minutes to eleven, when she died._ Before she died she grasped
 the hands of Mrs. Wood and Mrs. Witham, who were holding hers, so hard
 that it hurt them. Dove came back at about ten: she was then in great
 agony. As soon as he saw me, he told me he was going to Mr. Morley’s
 for medicine, and that if Mrs. Wood wanted to go home, I was to go up
 and take her place. When he returned with the doctors, she was dead.”

_Mrs. Witham_,[80] the next door neighbour who attended the deceased
almost daily, confirmed Mrs. Fisher’s account of the earlier symptoms,
and gave the following details of the night of her death:—

 “On Saturday, March the 1st, I saw her again about 2.30 P.M. She
 seemed better, and I remained with her till about six. At 3.30 P.M. I
 gave her her medicine. Mr. Morley came at four, when she seemed well.
 I got the food he ordered for her, and she seemed better than I had
 seen her before. Dove was there, and when I told him I had given her
 the medicine, he said she ought not to have it until about five. I was
 sent for again later to sit with her until Mrs. Fisher came, as Dove
 was going for medicine. _He was rubbing her legs_, and asked her to
 kiss him, which she did. Shortly after, he gave her her medicine. He
 went to the washstand, and came back with a glass in one hand, with
 the medicine and water in the other. He was at the washstand time
 enough to pour out the medicine. Mrs. Wood was present. After she had
 taken it, Mrs. Dove complained that it was very hot, and asked for a
 lozenge. _Dove took the glass to the washstand, and said he always
 washed it out after giving the medicine._ He then left, as he said, to
 get more medicine. In about a quarter of an hour _she complained of
 her back: her head was thrown back. I took hold of her hand, and she
 grasped it so tightly I could not get it away. Her eyes looked fixed.
 I put my hand to them: they did not move. Her features were very much
 distorted, and her teeth clinched. We both took hold of her hands,
 which she grasped so tightly that I could not bear it. Mrs. Wood was
 going to rub her back. She said, ‘Oh, don’t; lift me up,’ and I and
 Mrs. Wood tried to do so. Her back was arched, her body quite stiff,
 her legs stretched out. I did not notice her feet. We lifted her up,
 and put a pillow under her back. She rested on her shoulders, and the
 bottom part of her back, until the pillow was placed under her. The
 symptoms grew more violent, but she could speak. Her breathing was
 loud and difficult. She shrieked several times—a sort of scream. In
 about half an hour she could speak no longer. We could not be positive
 if she was sensible, and at twenty minutes to eleven she died._ Dove
 came in after she had ceased to speak, threw off his coat, and was
 going to rub her legs, when I said she could not bear it. Mrs. Wood
 said something to him, and he left the house immediately. When the
 doctors came she had been dead some minutes.”

On _cross-examination_ the witness said—

 “That when she gave her the medicine about three o’clock, deceased
 complained that it was bitter, as witness found it was on tasting it:
 (it contained aloes). That when the attack came on she appeared to
 lose her senses very soon, her eyes being fixed, and not speaking:
 this was in about an hour. She spoke until half an hour after her
 attack, but not until forty minutes. She was in better health and
 spirits on the Saturday than she had been all the week. _She was
 rubbed after each fit, and it seemed to relieve her. The jumpings
 and twitchings went on, on the Saturday, and she was then some hours
 still, and then they began again._”

_Mrs. Wood_ added the following particulars of the last attack:—

 “I went at twenty minutes to eight on the Saturday evening and found
 her sitting up; her husband and Mrs. Witham were with her. About
 eight she asked her husband for her medicine; he went out of the
 room to get it, and returned in about a minute with it, and gave it
 to her. She said it was very bitter, very hot, and very nasty, and
 that she thought she would get better if the attack did not return. I
 recommended her to try and put it off. _In about a quarter of an hour
 after taking the medicine she began to be ill. I asked Mrs. Witham to
 go round and take her hand, saying, ‘this Gird is coming on.’ She was
 propped up with pillows. In a short time she said, ‘Off the bed’ and
 repeated it three times. I thought at that time she wished to get off
 the bed. Mrs. Witham said, ‘Oh no, we cannot.’ I do not think she was
 sensible after she said ‘Off the bed’ the first time._ She died at
 twenty minutes to eleven. Dove went for the doctors; when he returned
 she was dead.”

_Mr. Scarth_, Morley’s pupil, who attended on the 25th of February, at
the request of the prisoner, in Mr. Morley’s absence, said—

 “I found Mrs. Dove in bed _with very minute twitchings of the muscles
 of the face and arms, and her teeth closed—hands clinched—head
 thrown slightly back, and the shoulders likewise, and her feet
 stretched straight out with the legs_. Again I saw her at seven on
 the Thursday night, _the symptoms were the same, but her principal
 complaint was of pain in the shoulders and back_. _Her shoulders
 were thrown back._ The attack passed off whilst I was there in about
 five minutes. I gave her the draught prescribed by Mr. Morley, and
 the convulsions ceased and did not return, and I ordered her the
 repetition of the draught.”

This witness had the cat dug out of the midden, in which the prisoner
said he had buried it, and was present when Mr. Morley and Mr. Nunneley
experimented on it.


_Mr. George Morley_, a surgeon at Leeds, who had always attended the
Dove family, was called in to the deceased in December, 1855, when he
found her suffering from disordered digestion and nervous excitement.
She improved, and he subsequently only saw her at long intervals till
the 25th of February; on that day, he said—

 “I found her in bed, and only observed _twitchings of the arms twice_.
 She told me she had had an attack in the morning with pains in the
 back and limbs, and had been often before so, and that she suffered
 from an excitable temperament. I thought it an hysterical attack, as
 she was at the age for them. Saw her every day during the week, and on
 the Wednesday and Thursday again _saw slight jerking of the arms_. On
 the Friday and Saturday she was decidedly better, and I did not alter
 my opinion of her case until the Saturday night, as I had often seen
 such symptoms arise from hysteria. I made the medicines antispasmodic
 and sedative: they would check the symptoms, and for a time seemed to
 do so. On Wednesday I proposed seeing another doctor, when Dove said
 she would not recover, and I warned him not to say so in her hearing,
 and that he had better call in a physician. Next day I received a note
 from him declining the proposed consultation, as his wife had perfect
 confidence in me. On Saturday I received a message that she was worse,
 and that I was to bring Dr. Hobson with me. Dove came afterwards to my
 house, and said he thought she would not recover, and that he should
 object to a _post mortem_ examination. I said I thought there would be
 no need of one, and that she would recover. He said his wife objected
 to it strongly. He seemed excited, as with drink, but quite rational.
 We were too late to see Mrs. Dove alive. From what Mr. Scarth told me
 I took measures for a _post mortem_ examination.

 “I now attribute the symptoms I have heard described to the poison of
 strychnia—from the symptoms and what I found in the body—finding in
 the body no organic disease to account for death. _The symptoms do not
 correspond with those of any other disease, but do with those produced
 by strychnia._ In hysteria the symptoms are more irregular; they do
 not assume a tetanic character; there is more disturbance of the mind;
 and such attacks are never fatal. Tetanic affections are stiffening
 of the limbs, rigidity, and stretching out of the limbs, arching
 back of the trunk, stiffening of the neck and jaw. The symptoms of
 hysteria might be some of those symptoms. No one but might be found
 in hysteria, but not all together. The symptoms are separately and
 conjointly in accordance with poisoning by strychnia. On Monday, March
 3rd, _forty-two_ hours after death, by authority of the prisoner’s
 mother, I made a _post mortem_ examination in conjunction with Mr.
 Nunneley, and drew up the following joint report.”

It is unnecessary to give in detail the first portion of this report,
in which, from a most careful examination of all parts of the body, it
was evident that the death could not be attributed to any known organic
disease. With the exception of a slight appearance of congestion in
the intestines, every part of the body was in a healthy state, and the
stomach contained only usual food. The report then continued:—

 “No appearance of irritation from any mineral or other irritant
 poison, nor any odour of any poison recognizable by smell. Hence we
 searched for strychnia. We divided the stomach and its contents into
 three parts:—(1.) The brown pulpy mass in the stomach; (2.) The
 mucous and all other matters that could be removed from the stomach;
 (3.) The stomach itself. By the usual tests we obtained strychnia from
 each of these. The spirituous extracts were also unusually bitter. In
 the contents of the intestines we found only faint traces. We obtained
 the body of the cat, that had been poisoned some time before, and
 proved that it is possible to discover strychnia in a dead body some
 time after death. The result was decidedly the same evidence as we had
 from the human body.”

The report then gave the details of the processes by which the
strychnia had been detected. (1.) Taste; (2.) Nitric acid, producing a
red colour (_the test for brucia_); (3.) Acetic acid and solution of
chloride of gold, producing a yellowish-white precipitate (_of doubtful
value_); (4.) Concentrated sulphuric acid and solution of bichromate of
potash, both in powder and in solution, producing the purple colour;
(5.) The application of the same tests to strychnia itself with the
same results, by each of them separately, and repeated with such
variations as could detect any error that might have crept in, and
the conclusion to which the analysts came that the stomach contained
strychnia enough to cause death.

The report then described the effects of administering portions of
the spirituous extracts proved to have contained strychnia to several
animals, five in number. In the cases of four of these, two rabbits,
one mouse, and a guinea-pig, the liquid was given by inoculation
through small openings either in the cellular tissues beneath the
skin, or into one of the mucous cavities of the body; and in the case
of one of the mice, by the mouth. In three cases death followed at
the respective intervals of two, twelve, and fifty minutes after the
introduction of the poison; and in one case—that of a rabbit—although
for a time it remained nearly dead, it afterwards revived, and
eventually recovered. In the case of the pig, the effects were much
more slight; the spasms were not so violent as to throw it down and
entirely disable it, but on the following day it was found dead, with
the muscles rigid, and the hind legs extended, as if from poison.
“_The symptoms preceding death, in all the cases, were, disturbed
respiration, general distress, convulsive twitchings and jerkings,
tetanic spasms, a peculiar out-stretching of the legs, and general
rigidity, exactly those commonly produced by strychnia._” The same
effects, for the sake of comparison, were produced in a parallel series
of experiments on animals with ordinary strychnia, which, as a series,
were not more severe, or more rapidly fatal. “These experiments,” said
the analysts, “which add the test of physiological effect to that of
the chemical reagent, directly confirm our analysis, and taking them
in connection with the analyses and with the symptoms observed during
life, and with the appearances noted after death, they afford, in our
opinion, the most complete proof that the death of Mrs. Dove was from
the poisonous effects of strychnia, and from no other cause.”

The witness then spoke from his own personal knowledge of cases of
poisoning by strychnia, and continued:—

 “I cannot refer the death to any other cause, nor the symptoms
 during life, as described by the witnesses Witham, Fisher, and Wood.
 _There is no other substance that will produce such symptoms and
 appearances._ I tried similar experiments on a little dog, with the
 same results. _Strychnia is not a cumulative poison. The effect of of
 it passes off entirely by a gradual subsidence of the spasms. In part
 the strychnia is absorbed in the blood, in part it passes off by the
 secretions, part remains in the stomach, its carbon, hydrogen, and
 other constituents broken up. If not decomposed, it would act on other
 animals._ The series of symptoms produced by strychnia were complete.
 I have no doubt that each of the several attacks were produced by
 strychnia. Several of the medicines I sent to Mrs. Dove were bitter,
 containing aloes and gentian, and hot, containing ammonia and
 ether. _The effects of strychnia would follow from in a few seconds
 to an hour and a half, depending on the constitution of the person,
 and state of the stomach, and how the strychnia was administered._
 Assuming that Mrs. Dove took no food or tea, I should refer the time
 at which she took the strychnia to the time at which she took the
 medicine. That would be the natural time for the attack; she would be
 attacked in a quarter to half an hour after taking it. The strychnia
 I had in my surgery was a soft white powder, fine, but not so fine as
 salt. There is a form of pure crystallised strychnia more like salt.
 I should judge that she had taken two to three grains to produce the
 results of Saturday night. You might take two or three grains between
 your finger and thumb: a quarter of a grain would kill a dog. I have
 examined one of the bottles of medicine which I sent to Mrs. Dove; it
 is the same as I sent.”

The witness also related the following conversations with the

 “During the _post-mortem_ examination, I had a conversation with
 the prisoner at his mother’s. He asked me what we had found in the
 analysis—had we found poison? I said the analysis was not complete,
 and could not give any answer till it was. I said we had not found
 any natural causes of death. He asked me, ‘If poison was found, what
 would the jury say? ‘ I replied, that ‘They could only say it was
 taken by accident, or intentionally, or given to her by some one.’ He
 wished me to let him know before the inquest if we had found poison.
 I had inquired about his getting poison, and asked him how often.
 He replied, ‘Only once, and that he had it to kill mice, as well as
 cats; had placed it in his razor-case, and told his wife that it was
 the poison Palmer used; that it was a deadly poison, and she must not
 touch it.’ I never told him there should be no examination.”

On _cross-examination_ by Mr. Bliss, after speaking to his having
attended the Dove family for many years, but seen but little of the
prisoner before he came to Leeds, the witness said—

 “When the conversation about strychnia took place, the prisoner
 asked me if I suspected him, and said, ‘Should I have done it openly
 if I had intended to do it? Should I have come to your surgery for
 it or have talked openly about it to other people? Could I have
 been so cruel?’ That was the first time that I named strychnia to
 any relative. I examined the little dog and have no doubt it died
 of strychnia. They brought me a piece of carpet and the board on
 which was blood, but I discovered no strychnia. I could not; the
 quantity was too small. I think the stains in the carpet and on the
 board could not have contained strychnia enough to have poisoned the
 dog. I discovered very little blood in the intestines. Strychnia is
 exceedingly bitter. One part in 40,000 would be bitter, less would be
 perceptibly bitter. There was a considerable quantity of fæces in the
 intestines, and three or four ounces of digested food. Mrs. Dove’s
 medicines were alkaline. I saw Mrs. Dove every day from Monday to
 Saturday, and she told me her ailments. I found nothing in the body
 to account for death but the strychnia taken on Saturday. Strychnia
 is not soluble in alkali. The symptoms I have heard to-day, prior
 to those on Saturday, are additional to what I saw. Hysteria would
 have left no symptoms. There was nothing inconsistent with strychnia
 having been administered before in the appearances of the body. The
 engorged state of the lungs and the condition of the brain favoured
 that view. _I say this guardedly._ She might with this condition of
 body have been better on Saturday, as congestion would pass away
 quickly. I found no symptoms on Saturday of the brain or lungs being
 engorged. She was better in health, in spirits, and in appetite. Mrs.
 Witham’s and Mrs. Fisher’s statements have changed my opinion. The
 symptoms they describe are all to be found separately in hysteria. Mr.
 Scarth’s account also influenced me, which I did not hear until after
 her death. It was my opinion at the time that she was affected with
 hysteria. _In a paroxysm from strychnia it is possible that a patient
 might wish to be rubbed, but it is not what I should ‘à priori,’ look
 for. Touch sometimes renews the spasms, but it depends upon the stage.
 The desire not to be touched is a symptom of strychnia._ After hearing
 of her symptoms I prescribed a liniment to be rubbed. _It consisted
 with the dose of strychnia said to have been administered that she
 should be better on Saturday._ The effect of hysteria would be to
 gorge the vessels of the brain and lungs. _Not shrinking from touch
 was consistent with strychnia, but a desire not to be touched was an
 indication of it._”

On _re-examination_, the witness said—

 “_There are several cases in which persons labouring under strychnia
 had desired to be rubbed._ Parts of the body might fall on the floor
 as well as the blood.

 “_By a Juror._—If strychnia were put in the medicine it would not
 alter the colour of it, it might have left a powdery deposit. I never
 knew a case of hysteria cause death with such external appearances as
 in Mrs. Dove’s case.”

_Mr. Thomas Nunneley_, professor of surgery in the Leeds College of
Medicine, who was examined in Palmer’s case on behalf of that prisoner,
and then maintained that if Cook had been poisoned by strychnia it
would have been found in his body by the chemical and other tests as
late as the sixth day after his death, confirmed the statements in the
joint report, and the opinion of Mr. Morley, that Mrs. Dove had died
from the effects of strychnia. His experiments on strychnia in the
cases of animals had been carried on for over thirty years, and he was
of opinion that, “though he should not have anticipated the improvement
spoken of on the Saturday, yet that it was not inconsistent with her
having taken strychnia on the Friday.” On _cross-examination_ by Mr.
Bliss, he gave the following evidence:—

 “I found nothing on dissection that could not be referred to the
 strychnia taken on the Saturday night—the intensity of that attack
 might have produced the appearances in the brain and lungs. Hysteria
 will simulate the appearances of other diseases, and among them of
 tetanus. I did not examine the fæces and tissues of the body, but
 I should expect to find strychnia in the tissues if taken six days
 before. My attention was not called to its having been taken before
 Saturday, but even if it had I think I should have found it. This case
 and the one in London (Palmer’s) have advanced our knowledge in the
 discovery of this poison far beyond what it was before. _It accords
 with my experience that a person suffering from strychnia would not
 bear to be rubbed._”

 _Re-examined._—“I attribute the symptoms exhibited before Saturday
 to strychnia. They are not so in accordance with any disease as with

_Dr. Christison_, the eminent writer on poisons, also agreed with Mr.
Morley and Mr. Nunneley as to the cause of the symptoms. He admitted
that “it was just possible to attribute them to hysteria, but had never
seen such a combination of symptoms in an hysteric case. He thought it
was unusual for a person to be insensible before death in a case of
strychnia, but he had seen it lately in the case of an animal killed by
that poison—the symptoms were exactly those which would be produced by
an overdose of strychnia in the prior attacks.”

_Dr. Hobson_, who had seen the deceased with Mr. Morley a few minutes
after her death, “saw nothing either in her countenance or position
that he thought particular, and admitted that all the symptoms
described before those of Saturday might be accounted for in an
aggravated form of hysteria, but would not expect a person who suffered
under such a form of hysteria to be conscious, nor did he attribute
these symptoms to that disease.”

_Mr. Teal_, who had been in practice in Leeds for thirty-four years,
agreed “in the symptoms being entirely in accord with strychnia, and
though he had seen hysteria simulate strychnism, he had never seen it
entirely resemble the entire group of symptoms represented in this
case; had he heard only of the symptoms before Saturday, he should
have considered them in strict accordance with the effects of that
poison; and even if he had heard of hysteric symptoms before, he
should have suspected strychnia, but would not deny the possibility of
their being consistent with hysteria.” In reply to a juryman, he added
the following evidence on the probable reason for the state of the
prisoner’s mind:—

 “Excessive drinking without producing _delirium tremens_ might cause
 the conduct of the prisoner, described by Harrison,[81] as to spirits
 and noises. He might have any delusions when under the influence of
 drink, but when sober such a man might be sound in mind and without
 delusions, and when partially drunk might have delusions without
 suffering under _delirium tremens_.”

_Mr. Richard Hey_, who had been in practice in York for
twenty-seven years, and concurred with the other medical men, on
_cross-examination_, said—

 “I have had experience in hysteria, and have seen cases in which many
 of the symptoms would be the same as those described. The freedom from
 affection of the brain would lead me to suspect it to be strychnia.
 I think the violent twitchings and spasms, and the extreme pain they
 produced, would make a very marked distinction from the effects of
 hysteria. I have never seen instances of screaming out from pain in
 hysteria. I have heard of screaming out. They complain of pain, but
 not violent pain. _The spasm consequent on strychnia would, I imagine,
 induce a patient to be rubbed as in ordinary spasms and cramp, but
 I never saw spasms so intense as in those spoken of in strychnia.
 One of the most marked symptoms in strychnia, in aggravated cases,
 is not being able to bear to be touched, but it is not so in slight
 attacks._” _Re-examined._—“I never knew touching or walking across
 a room not bearable in hysteria, or pain in the jaws, or all these
 things combined in hysteria.”

The last witness called by the prosecution, _Mr. William Hey_, who
had been in practice in Leeds for thirty-seven years, was equally of
opinion that the symptoms were inconsistent with any known disease, but
consistent with the effects of strychnia, and with nothing else. “Had
he heard only the evidence of the symptoms down to Friday night, her
hysterical temperament, and her recovery on the Saturday, he should not
have attributed them to hysteria, but he should have thought it a most
extraordinary case.”


In addition to the acts and statements of the prisoner reported in
the “Early Life of the Prisoner” and the evidence already given,
_Miss Fisher_ deposed to his very violent threats against his wife,
especially when in liquor; his telling her on one occasion “to mind
her own business, or he would do her job for her”; his threatening her
with a knife and striking her, and telling her “he would give her a
pill”; and to his wife saying, in his presence, “If I should die, it
is my wish, Elizabeth, that you should tell my friends to have my body
examined”; to his writing a letter to the witchman Harrison, asking him
“to torment his wife when at Manchester, as she was not a right woman”;
and telling the witness that Harrison had told him that his wife’s
days would end in February. He also told another witness (_Elizabeth
Thornhill_, a charwoman) that Harrison had told him that his wife would
not live long, and that he would marry the lady next door (Mrs. Witham).

Whilst the inquest was proceeding he asked Mrs. Witham how it was
going on, and when she said to him, “It is a very suspicious thing
that you gave her the medicine at eight o’clock and that she became
ill a quarter of an hour after,” he replied, “If they ask me if I gave
the medicine, I shall say I did not; and if they ask if she took it
herself, I shall say I do not know.”

To _Margaret Gray_, another witness, he stated on the Friday that
his wife was ill of spasms, and he did not think she would live over
Saturday night.

To _Mary Hicks_ he more than once stated that he was sure his wife
would die, and that Mr. Morley would want a _post mortem_ examination,
as he did in his father’s case, but that he would object to it, as
he had promised his wife to do; that he should probably soon marry
again; and when Mrs. Hicks told him to go back, as his wife might have
another attack, he said she would not until half-past ten or eleven,
and made no reply when again asked if the attacks were periodical. On
the Sunday morning after his wife’s death, he told this witness that
there was to be an inquest, and when she asked why, said, “Oh, we live
in a bad neighbourhood, and have not lived happily together. It is all
nonsense.” To the Rev. H. T. Sturgeon, the clergyman of Burley, whom he
asked to visit his wife, and to whom he professed to be very anxious
about her spiritual welfare, he assigned as his reason for not calling
in further advice (as recommended by Mr. Morley) his fear of offending
that gentleman. To a man of the name of _Rose_, a baker, whose name
even he did not know, and whom he met by accident in a dram shop on
the Thursday before his wife’s death, he said that he thought his wife
would die, and told him “not to come to him till he saw her death in
the paper, and then, if he lighted on a woman that would suit him, to
bring her down to his house, as he could not do without one if his wife

To _Harrison_, the watchman, on the Thursday after his wife’s death,
when giving him a card for her funeral, he said there was an inquest
on her. When Harrison asked why, the prisoner said, “Can they detect
a grain or a grain and a half of strychnia?” “Why,” replied Harrison,
“have you given her any?” “No,” replied Dove; “but I got some of
Morley’s man to kill cats, and some might have been spilt and she have
got it.” Again Harrison saw him the next day, when he said, “Mr. Morley
has told me they have found poison in my wife. Could they take me if I
go back?” “I should,” replied Harrison. “If you are innocent, go back;
what occasion have you to be frightened? They will not take you if you
are innocent,” and Dove then went away.

To his wife’s mother, _Mrs. Jenkins_, who came to his house after her
daughter’s death, he said at breakfast on the Friday, the day of the
adjourned inquest, “Do you know that a sprinkle of oil of almonds
will kill a person? Arsenic you can detect in a body after 20 years.
Belladonna you cannot; one is a mineral, the other a vegetable. There
is a poison like this”—taking up a piece of salt—“in a man you can
detect it, in a woman you cannot.” He told her also that he could not
think but that he should marry again. When he talked about the poisons
another person, a _Mrs. Risdon_, was present.

To _Mr. Scarth_, a pupil of Mr. Morley’s, who, in consequence of the
latter’s engagement, was the first to see her on the 25th of February,
he put the question whether Mr. Morley would require a _post mortem_
examination if his wife died. Scarth replied that Mr. Morley generally
did on all his patients who died suddenly, when the prisoner said, “I
will not consent.” “Probably,” said Scarth, “as you did when your
father died.” “His wife,” replied Dove, “would not consent.”

On the close of the case for the prosecution, Mr. Bliss called on the
counsel to put into the box the remainder of the witnesses whose names
were on the back of the bill, and Mr. Hardy, in the absence of his
leader, declining to take this responsibility, Baron Bramwell, on the
authority of the case of _R._ v. _Woodhead_, ruled that the prosecutor
need not do so, but was bound to have the witnesses in Court so that
they might, if required, be called by the defence.[82]


Though the defence of the prisoner was mainly rested on the question
of his sanity, Mr. Bliss urged on the jury that the circumstantial
evidence against him was inconclusive, turning the openness of the
prisoner’s acts and conversations, and his attention to his wife during
her attacks, to the best advantage. On the question of his sanity, in
addition to the mischievous and cruel acts that had been elicited in
cross-examination, he cited as further proof his belief in witchcraft
and his frequent consultations with the witchman Harrison, and his
request to that person to torment his wife, professedly to force her
to return to his bed. The witchman, said counsel, not contemplating
the murderous result, encouraged him, and held out such promises of
future happiness that the desire ripened into practice, and the wife
was murdered. Even after detection was inevitable, the confidence of
the dupe remained unimpaired, and he firmly believed that the witchman
could rescue him from his doom. As a proof of this insane belief the
following letter written in his own blood, which had been found in his
pocket when in jail, was read:—

 “Dear Devil,—If you will get me clear at the assizes, and let me
 have the enjoyment of life, wealth, tobacco, more food and better, and
 my wishes granted till I am sixty, come to me to-night. I remain, your
 faithful subject,



In support of the plea of insanity, in addition to the witnesses
already referred to in the introduction to this case, three medical
witnesses of tried experience in lunacy, _Dr. Caleb Williams_ (for 30
years the medical attendant at the York Asylum), _Dr. Pyeman Smith_ (of
the Leeds Lunatic Asylum), and _Mr. John Kitchen_ (of The Retreat, at
York), were called for the defence, whose evidence, it is only fair,
should be given in some detail.

_Dr. Williams_, who had been in Court during the whole trial, and had
also examined the prisoner with _Mr. Kitchen_ a few days before the
trial, was decidedly of opinion, from the evidence he had heard, that
the prisoner was of unsound mind, and that his violent emotions and his
belief in supernatural agency were indications of it.

 “Taking into account,” said the witness, “that he had written and
 said similar things before about selling his soul to the devil, I
 think that his letter to the devil was not simulated. It appears to
 be written with blood. I had conversation with him about that letter
 when I saw him, and he told me it was written under satanic influence.
 The result of that conversation was that, in my opinion, it was not
 simulated. I have no doubt that his illusion, that he had sold himself
 to the devil, was a real one. I believe his incantations spoken of
 were connected with his belief in supernatural agency; and I think
 his saying that he had put a spell on the steward arose from the same
 belief.[83] The letter to his schoolmaster, in which he declared his
 sanity, is very like what is done by insane persons—they declare they
 are sane. His talking to various persons about strychnia showed the
 weakness of his mind. The effect of drink on a lunatic are to make
 him violent and dangerous. Persons liable to insanity would exhibit
 a tendency and inclination to drink. _I think from what I have heard
 he has not the power of controlling his emotions and passions. None
 of them at all times.[84] There would be periods when he would have
 control over some._ The circumstance of his shooting the cat showed an
 uncontrollable impulse to injure or take life; and seeing it was not
 expended in injuring the man, he shot the cat. The effect of confining
 a person for several weeks on strictly sober diet, who has before been
 subject to get drunk, would be to reduce him to a calm condition.
 The Castle diet is sober (Dove’s prison). _From all I have heard
 and seen, I consider his powers of mind, during the fatal week were
 probably influenced by his notions regarding supernatural agency, and
 that consequently he was the subject of a delusion. During that week,
 labouring under such delusions, he might retain his power of adapting
 means to an end, and of judging of the consequences. He could not
 under those delusions have the power of resisting any impulse._”

_On cross-examination_ by Mr. Overend, after repudiating the notion
that his evidence was tinged by religious objections to capital
punishment, the witness said:—

 “I should not call administering poison five or six times an
 _impulse_, but a _propensity_—an uncontrollable _propensity_ to
 destroy life, and give pain. For the time it would be a permanent
 condition of the mind, and might select the special object, and
 constantly seek opportunities of carrying out the _propensity_.
 _I think a person with such a propensity would not know that he
 was doing wrong. I think he might fear the consequences, and know
 that punishment would follow. He would know, probably, that he was
 breaking the law. I say that, because he would have a very incorrect
 appreciation of right and wrong. He would not know at the time that he
 would be hanged. I found that opinion on the occupation of the mind
 by the insane propensity. It is uncertain whether he would know it
 before he did it. He might after he had done it._ He might do a murder
 secretly, because he could not otherwise do it. A _propensity_ of that
 kind generally acts without a motive. One of the peculiarities is that
 a person seeks no escape: in certain cases acknowledges his crime.
 The _propensity may come on suddenly: an impulse comes on suddenly—a
 propensity more frequently comes on slowly, and starts from a
 considerable time_. If a man gives way to his passions, and commits
 a rape, I call that a _vice_, and not a _propensity_. Supposing a
 cruel man, who wishes to get rid of his wife, quarrels with her, in
 the abstract that is a _vice_. Supposing a man to have taken every
 precaution against discovery, and pains to procure poison for his
 wife, and to prepare for her death, I should think that a _vice_, and
 not a _delusion_. Supposing a man of cruel disposition had formed a
 dislike to his wife, and wanted to get rid of her, and had nursed that
 dislike into a _propensity_ to kill. I should call that _an insane
 propensity_. I don’t say that every man who dislikes his wife, and
 wishes to get rid of her, is insane. When he acquires the propensity
 to kill, and cannot control it, he is insane.”

 _Question._—“If a person lived with his wife, hated her, and
 determined to, and did kill her, what is the difference between
 that determination which is _vice_, and that _propensity_ which is

 _Answer._—“The prisoner’s history would be required to determine
 whether it was _vice_ or _insanity_.”

 _Question._—“Supposing a man was determined to kill his wife,
 and he nurses the thought for six months, till the desire becomes
 uncontrollable, when does the desire become insanity?”

 _Answer._—“When by nourishing such an idea, the mind becomes
 diseased, and he cannot control his acts—that applies to other

 _Question._—“If a man dwells on the possession of a woman till he
 cannot control his desire, would that be _vice_ or _insanity_?”

 _Answer._—“It might be insanity, and might apply to rape.[85]
 In insanity there is a tendency to thieve. Theft is one of the
 indications of moral insanity; and a man may desire to possess
 another man’s goods, till he cannot control his acts. He is then
 insane. If a man permits himself to indulge a passion till he becomes
 uncontrollable, that is _moral insanity_, and he is not responsible.
 Consulting a sorcerer, and all superstitious beliefs, are indications
 of a weak mind. Belief in clairvoyance and dreams is not necessarily
 an indication of insanity. A belief in spiritual rappings, I should
 infer, was an indication of a weak mind. Talking to persons about
 strychnia, and his wife’s death, I think indicated a feeble state of

On _re-examination_, _Dr. Williams_ said—

 “Imitativeness is one of the characteristics of insanity, and
 hearing strychnia and Palmer’s trial very much talked about would be
 very likely, in a weak mind, to produce imitation. You must know
 a man’s history before you can say whether his acts proceed from
 vice or insanity. Madness very frequently developes itself in great
 cunning and foresightedness when reasoning on false premises. I have
 frequently known insane persons to attempt to escape from the asylum,
 and to have shown great cleverness in their preparations for it
 extending over several days.”

 _Question._—“Suppose you had heard the case of a man put to you who
 wished to get rid of his wife, and had from his childhood displayed
 cruelty of disposition—had threatened to shoot his father; said he
 heard supernatural noises, sometimes treated his wife kindly, and
 sometimes cried like no other man, would you have any doubt that he
 was insane?”

 _Answer._—“No! and not fit to be at large. I should have no
 difficulty, as a medical man, in certifying that he was a lunatic.
 Lunatics have often displayed great ingenuity in committing theft and
 concealing it. The passion of lust frequently becomes a disease of
 the mind. When the prisoner gave his cows linseed to take one night,
 to fatten them for market the next morning, that I should deem an
 indication of an unsound mind.”

_In reply to questions by the Judge_, the witness said:—

 _”It would require a longer period than a month to establish disease
 and an uncontrollable propensity to commit a crime. If a man committed
 a crime, having thought of it for a month, I should not say he was
 of unsound mind. The difference would depend on length of time.
 Some men’s minds, previously weak, would take a shorter time, and
 very exciting causes would shorten the time; but there must be an
 appreciable period, and an interval for the mind to pass into a morbid
 condition from the continual contemplation of one object._ The period
 is necessarily very uncertain, from the variable effect of emotions
 and circumstances on the mind.”

 _The Judge._—“Suppose, at the time when he shot the cat, a policeman
 had come in, would he have shot it?”[86]

 _Answer._—“No. The presence of the policeman would probably have
 controlled him; he would probably have expended the impulse on some
 person or something else. Unless the person is exceedingly violent,
 the presence of a policeman would have some influence to control him.”

 _Question._—“_Whenever a man commits a crime, is it because he is
 uncontrolled by existing circumstances?_”

 _Answer._—“_It is._”

 _The Judge._—“_Then what is the difference between such a man and the
 case you put?_”

 _Answer._—“_In the case I put the impulse is uncontrollable, because
 his mind would be so occupied with his purpose._”

 _The Judge._—“Is it true of everybody, whether sane or insane, that
 when intent on an act they forget the consequences?”

 _Answer._—“An insane man would be more likely to forget consequences.
 Sane and insane persons would talk about occurrences. How and what
 they talked about would depend on their judgment.”

The witness wished to say with regard to the question as to shooting
the cat, that he thought the impulse of destruction was so strong
at the time, that he could not control it, and must have shot

_Dr. Pyeman Smith_, the proprietor of a private lunatic asylum at
Leeds for the past 15 years, though, from what he had heard and seen,
he was prepared to declare that Dove was of unsound mind during the
fatal week, and had been so for the last 20 years, admitted, on
_cross-examination_, that he did know right from wrong during that
period. He, however, _on re-examination_, qualified this admission.

 “A decided lunatic,” said the witness, “very often knows right from
 wrong, and yet may be regardless of any consequences from his acts.
 _He may be utterly unable to refrain from doing an act, though he knew
 it was wrong. I cannot say the prisoner was utterly unable to refrain
 from wrong during the fatal week. Circumstances might enable him to
 refrain—other circumstances._”

 _To the Judge._—“Not a greater degree of punishment. I have already
 said he was entirely regardless of circumstances.”

_Mr. Bliss_ objected to this line of examination by the judge.

 _The Judge._—“I am entitled to, and in my opinion bound to, and I
 will put the questions.”

_Witness_ then continued—

 “_Not possessing the poison would be a circumstance which would have
 prevented him._ I believe, during the week, it was from unsoundness of
 mind that he was regardless of consequences.”

_Mr. John Kitchen_, superintendent of The Retreat at York, where the
patients averaged a hundred, also agreed with the previous medical
witnesses, that Dove was of unsound mind during the fatal week. He,
however, admitted that “_during that period he knew right from wrong,
had some knowledge of the difference—some knowledge that he was
committing murder—and that if found out he would be punished_.” This
admission he sought to explain away, _on re-examination_, protesting
that what he meant was “that Dove knew he was killing his wife, but did
not know he was doing a wrong act—that he would know in proportion as
he knew the difference between right and wrong.”

 _Question by a juryman._—“Do you adopt the theory of Dr. Smith as to
 irresistible propensity in mania?”

 _Answer._—“In general terms I do.”

 _Question._—“Do you adopt it in this case?”

 _Answer._—“I do not. I account for the murder, if he committed it,
 on different principles. We have a man of deficient mental powers;
 besides that he is insane; he is liable to do any absurd, cruel, or
 vicious or irrational action that presented itself to his mind, as
 his life shows. Supposing him to be insane, I should apply the term
 _vicious_ or _malignant_ to him. We have heard, in evidence, that
 he was brought up by pious parents, put to the best schools, and
 was unable to receive the smallest amount of education. We see him
 carried away to do the most foolish things. Where he loves, he loves
 with a foolish intensity; and where he hates, he hates with a foolish
 malignity: and if a woman puts herself into the power of such a man as
 his wife, what has happened is just what might have been expected.”

 _To Mr. Overend._—“_I think he knew right from wrong—that it was
 wrong to steal or murder._ If he murdered, I should expect him to
 deny it in that form of insanity. In one form of insanity, impulsive
 madness, they own their crime. This case was only partly impulsive,
 and I should not expect him to divulge it. If he thought of this crime
 before he committed it, he would know it was wrong. He probably would
 learn it was wrong in his childhood. It is impossible to say when he
 committed the act he knew it was wrong. I don’t know when he would
 know it was wrong. I can give no opinion about it.”

_On re-examination_, he said:—

 “There are dangerous wards in some asylums, but I should not expect to
 find the greatest number of impulsive cases in that ward. Sometimes
 impulsive lunatics are dangerous. The keepers have an influence over
 them—a mental influence. They formerly worked on their fears, and
 thus kept patients under control. There is a madness which consists in
 a _propensity_ to kill. If a stranger was left with such a one in a
 room alone, I should expect him to exercise his _propensity_ and kill
 him; and yet, probably, that patient would yield his keeper obedience.
 Probably the fear of some chastisement would induce fear of his


The greater portion of Baron Bramwell’s charge was necessarily
occupied by reading over and commenting on the evidence produced
by the prosecution—that the death of the wife had been due to the
administration of strychnia, and that the prisoner had opportunities
of administering it. The evidence on these points has been already
so fully reported that it is needless to give this portion of his
exhaustive summing-up. His remarks on the rule of law on the plea of
insanity, and on the nature of the insanity suggested by the medical
witnesses, are too valuable to be omitted.

 “The rules of law,” said the learned Baron, “are that it must be
 clearly proved that, at the time of committing the act, the party
 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, if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing wrong.
 If the accused was conscious of the act he did, he is punishable;
 and what you have to consider is, had he sufficient degree of sanity
 to know he was doing wrong? With respect to delusions the law is the
 same. According to the law, as I lay it down to you on the highest
 authority, to exempt a man from the penal consequence of his act, the
 act being contrary to the law, you must be of opinion that at the
 time he did the act he was not conscious that it was one he ought not
 to do; for if he was conscious that it was contrary to law, he is
 punishable. You must be satisfied that he had not a sufficient degree
 of reason to know that he was doing an act that was wrong—of course
 that means an act prohibited by law: because a man might imagine that
 the thing was a right thing to do, and it might not be contrary to
 law. He might think it right to take from the rich and give to the
 poor. But if he did it, not knowing it was wrong, he must not know
 that the thing which he did was what the law would punish him for. It
 is not necessary for me to justify the law, or for you to approve it.
 We have only to administer it. Don’t, however, suppose for a moment
 that I doubt the reasonableness of it.

 “Let me put a case to you. A man labours under a delusion. He thinks
 I have done him wrong—have traduced his character. He waylays and
 murders me. Why should he be acquitted? Suppose he was wronged, that
 would not justify his taking away my life. Suppose, again, a person
 imagined some part of his person to be made of glass, or had swallowed
 something, or got something wrong in his inside. Imagine that man
 deliberately waylaying a person, knowing that he possessed property,
 to take it from him, and afterwards to conceal what he had done, and
 to act in every other respect as a rational man. Why should he be held
 irresponsible for this because he was irrational in other respects?

 “Why should punishment be administered at all? It was not inflicted
 on a man who had committed a crime because he had inflicted that upon
 others, but in order to hold out an example to deter other people.
 If you punish an insane man, you hold out no example, because you are
 punishing a man who thinks he is doing right. But take the case of a
 man who is labouring under a delusion—under an evil propensity. If
 you punish him when he does wrong, or any other person with a similar
 propensity to commit that offence, and he knows, that when he indulged
 in it, or that when somebody else did, he was punished for it, that
 will deter him from repeating or from doing that act. Take the case
 of a man who has a strong propensity to thieve—a strong desire on
 him to do it; his intellect not very strong, and he knows that he is
 punished if he does such an act: do not you think, if he is punished,
 it will deter him from doing it again? There cannot be a doubt that it
 is so; and if you were to announce to all the world, that a man who
 has a strong propensity to an evil, that a person in his condition,
 shall not be punished, you take away from such persons the only thing
 that would deter them from committing the evil. Take a man of a weak
 mind and strong animal propensities, and it will not deter him from
 committing such an act.”

Again, after going carefully through the evidence in the case, and
pointing out the application of the different classes of proofs, the
learned Baron said that “he thought none of the instances of strange
conduct adduced when the prisoner was a boy evidence of insanity more
than might be found in the conduct of a perverse, ill-conducted boy;”
and contrasted the opinions of the witnesses as to his being almost an
idiot with the letters written by him, which exhibited no traces of
mental incapacity.[88] In commenting on the opinions of the medical men
of experience in insanity, he adopted the judgment of Dr. Lushington
in the Dyce Sombre case, “that the facts to which they depose, and not
their opinions alone, were of weight;” and added “that he sincerely
believed that the jury were as capable of judging as these mad

 “Two of them,” continued the learned judge, “were of opinion that
 the contemplation of a crime constituted insanity, if it were only
 contemplated enough. Then it was said that a man who had a propensity
 to vice, to cruelty, to crime, was insane. Take the case of a man
 found guilty at these assizes of a crime. It is found that he has
 twice been convicted before and in prison half a dozen times, and
 that he has a general propensity to commit crime. In such a case,
 why should not Dr. Williams come forward and say, “You are wrong.
 He is insane; you ought not to punish him.” If they believed these
 experts you would take away protection from the community, because
 they would have a check less to prevent the commission of crime. It
 would be affectation in him to say that he did not set a value on this
 scientific evidence. But he would rather take his own independent
 opinion, than that of others, on the facts. But it was not for him to
 do more than comment, and for the jury to judge of its value—of the
 conduct of the prisoner, of his letters, and of the arguments before

After a brief consideration the jury returned a verdict of “guilty, but
recommended him to mercy on the ground of his defective intellect.”
Sentence of death was passed on him, and he was executed at York.


A day or two before his execution Dove dictated two long and
extraordinary statements of his connection with the “Witchman,” and
the part played in the tragedy by this dangerous man, which contrast
strongly with the evidence given by Harrison himself, and probably
disclose facts which that person was glad to conceal at the time of his

In the first of these statements he details his earlier interviews with
the “Witchman” on the subjects of recovering lost cattle, removing
strange noises from his house, and the bewitching of his live stock,
in which Harrison appears to have played off on him the common tricks
of his trade. His confidence in this fellow was unfortunately largely
increased by his prophecying that Dove’s father would die before a
certain Christmas Day—he died on Christmas Eve—and led him to
consult the “Witchman” about his wife when he first conceived his
violent hatred towards her.

 “About August, 1855,” he says, “I had some unpleasantness with my
 wife, and went over to Harrison at Leeds, told him of it, and he
 promised to make it all right. He told me I must let him know by
 letter how things went on. In two days after this I wrote him that my
 wife was no better, and that he must do something to make peace. I
 sent this by Fisher, a porter at the railway station, to post. Mrs.
 Dove knew I had written, but not what about. She therefore sent the
 servant to Fisher, got back the letter, took out what I had written,
 and put in a blank sheet.[89] I did not know this at the time, but,
 hearing some whispering, wrote another letter, and posted it myself
 about two o’clock. At three I went myself to Harrison, who told me
 he had received a blank sheet, and asked why, and I told him. I then
 informed him of the unpleasantness and unhappiness with my wife, and
 he said ‘You will never have happiness till she is out of the way.’
 I said ‘How do you know that.’ He said ‘Come upstairs and I’ll tell
 you, for I’ve got your nativity marked out.’ [Upstairs he showed him
 a paper with the signs of the Zodiac, and hieroglyphical forms and
 numbers, which he describes at length.] Harrison then read out of a
 book my destiny. Between twenty-seven and thirty-two all would go
 against me. I should have nothing but misfortunes; that at thirty-two
 the sun and moon would come into conjunction, and then everything
 would be in my favour; that at thirty-two I should lose my wife, marry
 again, and have a child, and an addition to my fortune; and that for
 my sake he did not care how soon it was here, for until then I should
 never be a happy man; that after ‘thirty-two’ everything would go well
 for a few years. He made other remarks as to different periods of my

Then follow the usual enquiries about the kind of person that was to be
his second wife.

 “I saw Harrison again in November about my wife’s temper. He said
 never mind, ‘she will die before the end of February or March, I am
 not certain which.’ When he told me my wife would die soon I said
 ‘You have told me before she would die at thirty-two.’ He replied
 ‘Before thirty-two, but I did not say how much before.’ In a few days
 afterwards (after December 21) I went to the ‘New Cross Inn,’ and
 Harrison came in with a newspaper and read about Palmer’s case. I then
 asked him whether strychnia could be detected, and he said ‘No, nor
 any other vegetable poison.’ I then said ‘What other vegetable poisons
 are there that cannot be detected? and he said ‘Digitalis, belladonna,
 particularly if crystallised; he could not remember more then.’ I then
 asked him to get or make me some strychnia, as we were much annoyed in
 our new house with cats, but he refused. I told him I would get some

 “I went to him again in January last about my wife. I told him about
 my wife’s temper and her being poorly then, and he again said, ‘She
 won’t live long; she will never get better. As I told you before, she
 will die in February.’

 “I had no further communication with Harrison until the 6th of March,
 when I sent for him to the ‘New Cross Inn,’ and told him my wife had
 died, and that an inquest was to be held. He asked, ‘Why?’ I said,
 ‘My wife died very suddenly, and Mr. Morley cannot account for it,
 and it is known that I had strychnia in the house. Mr. Morley thinks
 some may have been spilt, and my wife got at it accidentally.’ I then
 said, ‘You told me strychnia could not be detected, but I have seen
 in the _Materia Medica_ that it can;[90] what is your opinion now?
 Can a grain to a grain and a half be detected, for there is a great
 difference on the subject? Professor Taylor says it cannot be detected
 twenty-four hours after death in the human body.’ Harrison said,
 ‘What, have you poisoned your wife?’ I replied, ‘No, I should be very
 sorry to.’ Nothing more passed then.

 “On Friday, the 7th, whilst the inquest was going on, I went to the
 back door of Harrison’s house, about 3 P.M., and said to him ‘that
 several witnesses had been called, and I was suspected of poisoning my
 wife,’ and added, ‘How will the case go?’ He said, ‘It will be a very
 difficult case, but I can get you out.’ I said, ‘You only say you can;
 but tell me, will you?’ and he replied, ‘Set yourself altogether at
 rest; I will.’”

In the _second_ statement he gives details of his administration of the
strychnia, declaring that even when he got the second portion of that
poison from Mr. Morley’s pupil he had no intention of poisoning his
wife, but only intended it for the cats. His first attempt was with the
jelly his sister Jane had sent, of which, it may be remembered, the
wife, on the score of its bitterness, took only a spoonful. He then
goes on:—

 “On the Saturday, after Fisher left,[91] I took the paper containing
 the strychnia out of my razor-case and put it in my waistcoat-pocket,
 and then went to my mother’s house. In the afternoon I had previously
 called at Mr. Morley’s for my wife’s medicine. It was an effervescing
 draught, in two bottles. At my mother’s that evening I took the cork
 out of one of the bottles and touched the wet end of it with the
 strychnia. On that Saturday evening my wife took some of the draught
 in Mrs. Witham’s presence. Mrs. Witham tasted it, and said it tasted
 bitter. The draught was not shaken that night before taken. My wife
 did not suffer from the effects at all. On my way from my mother’s
 that night I threw away the remainder of the strychnia. I cannot tell
 you the feelings of my mind when I put the strychnia into the jelly
 and the mixture. I did not think at the moment as to its effects and
 consequences. On the Sunday following, which was the 24th of February,
 I went to the surgery; and there being no person there at the time,
 I took perhaps ten grains of strychnia and folded them in paper, and
 when I got home placed it in the stable. On the Monday morning I
 gave my wife her medicine—the effervescent mixture—about half-past
 nine, and at ten she had the attack mentioned by Mrs. Fisher and
 Mrs. Witham. At the time she took it she complained very much of the
 bitterness, and said she would tell Mr. Morley about it. There were
 three or four doses left in the bottle after that draught was taken,
 and I broke the bottle in my wife’s presence, fearing Mr. Morley might
 taste it. The mixture was changed on the Monday; the mixture then
 given was very bitter. On Tuesday night or Wednesday morning I applied
 the wet end of the cork of the medicine-bottle to the strychnia, as
 before. I think there might be from half to a grain of strychnia on
 the cork when I put it into the bottle. I shook the mixture up. There
 were only two or three doses in the bottle. I don’t remember my wife
 having an attack on the Wednesday. She took her medicine that day.
 On Thursday I got another bottle of medicine from Mr. Morley, and I
 again applied the wet end of the cork to the strychnia as before.
 About the same quantity adhered. The last dose of that medicine was
 taken on Friday night about ten, and my wife was taken seriously ill
 in half an hour, but she had no arching of the back, as far as I can
 remember. Mrs. Fisher is mistaken in that point, but her statement
 in other respects is true, I believe. On that Friday night I got
 another bottle of medicine from Mr. Morley’s, directed to be taken
 four times a day. I did not put any strychnia into that bottle, or
 upon its cork. Mrs. Witham gave a dose out of that bottle in the
 afternoon of Saturday.[92] The strychnia was in the stable, where I
 had first placed it, and there was none in the razor-case on that
 day, nor during any part of that week. I was drinking at Sadlefee’s
 public-house on that Saturday, and was more or less affected with
 drink all that afternoon and evening. About three in the afternoon
 I went to the stable and took a grain and a half of strychnia out
 of the stable and put it in another paper, which I placed in my
 waistcoat-pocket. I put that strychnia into the wine-glass which
 contained a little water—I believe the water left in the glass by
 Mrs. Witham after giving my wife the third dose in the afternoon, but
 I have no recollection as to the time I put the strychnia into the
 glass. I gave the mixture in the evening, as stated by Mrs. Witham
 and Mrs. Wood in their evidence. I poured the mixture into the glass
 which contained the water and strychnia. I did not put the strychnia
 into the wine-glass in the presence of Mrs. Witham and Mrs. Wood. I
 know that I put it in before, but cannot tell how long before giving
 the medicine. I did not, when I gave the medicine on the occasions
 mentioned, think of the consequences; but when I saw my wife suffering
 on the Saturday night, it flashed across my mind that I had given
 her medicine, and that she would die from the effects. I was muddled
 before this, and did not know what I was doing. When the thoughts of
 her death crossed my mind, I regretted what I had done, and believe
 that if Mr. Morley had come in at that moment I should have told him
 what I had given her, so that he might have used means to restore her.
 I cannot disguise the anguish I felt when I returned from Mr. Morley’s
 and found her dead. Palmer’s case first called my attention to
 strychnia, but I never should have thought of using that or any other
 poison for the purpose of taking my wife’s life but for Harrison, who
 was always telling me that I should never have any happiness till my
 wife was out of the way.”[93]


 COURT, _November 27, 1876_.

 _For the Prosecution_: Mr. Poland and Mr. Beasley.

 _For the Defence_: Mr. Fulton and Mr. Grubbe.


THE prisoner, an engine driver on the South-Western Railway, about a
year before the trial, on being left a widower, had formed a connection
with the deceased, who, with their infant, came to lodge at the house
of a Mrs. Wilson, in Leopold Street, Vauxhall, in August, 1876, under
the name of Smith, where she was occasionally visited by the prisoner,
who passed as her husband. Apparently they lived together on kindly
terms, and were in fairly comfortable circumstances. On the 3rd of
September the prisoner visited her about half-past eight in the
evening, and stayed an hour. Up to that day the deceased had been in
good health. As soon, however, as the prisoner had left, she came down
from her room, knocked at the landlady’s door, and complained to her
that she was very sick from the sarsaparilla which he had given her.
“Her lips were white, she was very nervous, and appeared hardly able
to stand,” said Mrs. Wilson. “I had never seen her so before. She went
upstairs, and when I went to bed I went to her. She was retching very
much, and sitting in a chair. I then went away. Next morning I saw
her; she came downstairs and said she was very bad—worse. She could
not stand, and had to lean against the wall. During the day she became


The prisoner came again on the Sunday following, the 10th, at the same
time as before.

 “The deceased,” said Mrs. Wilson, “was at the street door, talking
 to me, with her baby, and in perfect health. They went up into their
 room, and in about an hour the prisoner knocked at my room door and
 said his wife had had two fits. I ran upstairs and found her lying
 across the bed; the prisoner was in the room. She was in a kind of
 fit or convulsion. I sent the prisoner for some brandy and water. She
 became a little conscious, and taking me by the hand said ‘_Don’t
 touch me_.’ She had been unconscious, _but the moment she was touched
 she went into convulsions_. _Her feet and hands were clenched, and
 she was drawn quite backwards, her back forming an entire arch._ She
 was _not conscious_ then. The prisoner was holding her all the time.
 About half past ten I sent him for Dr. Miller, who came at once, and
 applied mustard plasters, remaining with her about five minutes,
 and the prisoner going back with him for medicine. She was slightly
 conscious when Dr. Miller came, and more so afterwards. Her feet were
 quite _white(?)[94] the toes being drawn backwards to the soles of
 the feet_. I did what the doctor told me, but it did not do her any
 good. I tried to give her the medicine, but she could not take it,
 _and went off in a swoon_. She had licked the spoon. She then had
 dreadful convulsions, one in particular, when it took the prisoner
 and me to hold her. Her neck was drawn backwards and quite arched.
 After that she became quite conscious, and said it was the nasty
 sarsaparilla that made her ill. The prisoner said ‘Oh no. I have taken
 more of it than you.’ He also said ‘I have given her two pills and
 taken two myself.’ She complained of a dreadful pain in her heart,
 _and continued unconscious, coming to herself a little at times, but
 very slightly_. The convulsions were dreadful, and she died about two
 o’clock on the eleventh. She seemed to drop instantly after a dreadful
 convulsion. I gave her two doses of the medicine the doctor sent. I
 had not seen any sarsaparilla in the room.”

_On cross-examination_ by Mr. Fulton, after stating that she had never
heard any quarrels between the prisoner and the deceased, she gave the
following further particulars as to the symptoms:—

 “In the evening, when I was called in, her eyes were partly closed
 during the convulsions; her breathing very hot (hard?) and at most
 suspended; her teeth entirely clenched and also her hands during the
 convulsions. She wanted to be sick shortly before her death; her lips
 were pale, and remained so until her death. The prisoner tried to move
 her, when she became sick, and she went into convulsions. He helped to
 hold her, and said he could not imagine what was the matter with her;
 seemed distressed, and sat on the bed holding her. To all appearance
 he was kind to her but not affectionate. _She was more unconscious
 than conscious during the whole time._ About twelve o’clock she
 _appeared quite conscious_. She had to move herself so that she
 could be sick, and caught hold of the bed head, and then went again
 into convulsions. _Virtually she was unconscious the whole time._
 Dr. Miller came a second time, and she told him she had had some
 fearful fits, but I cannot recollect whether I said anything about the
 ‘arching.’ There was none when he saw her, but _her feet were curved_,
 and I told him about the ‘shakings,’ I mean the ‘convulsions.’ I
 first heard from the coroners officer that she had died of strychnia.
 I had previously told him the symptoms attending her death, but
 don’t remember telling him of the ‘arching.’ He said there was every
 appearance of her having died from strychnia.”


_James Miller_, medical assistant at the Vauxhall dispensary, before
that with Mr. Scott, a general practitioner, and previously an
insurance agent, gave the following account of the case:—

 “About twenty minutes to eleven on the 10th of September I was called
 by the prisoner to his wife, who he said had had two fainting fits.
 I found her lying on the bed, dressed, and quite conscious. She lay
 very quietly. She said she had severe pain in the legs, and that
 she had fainted twice. I asked her if she had complained during the
 week. She said only of pains in the head. I found the calves of her
 legs very rigid, her feet turned slightly inwards, the toes of each
 foot inclined towards the other as she lay, cramp in the lower limbs,
 her arms quiet. She beat her breast at times. Her hands were partly
 closed, her heart very excited, and her breathing slightly laboured.
 Her heart continued excited all the time I was there, about five
 minutes. I asked her what she had taken. She said a cup of tea in
 the morning and a herring at tea. She said she had pain in her head
 all the last week. _I believed she was suffering from epilepsy._
 On leaving, the prisoner returned with me; I made up a bottle of
 medicine, antispasmodic, which he took away with him. I never saw her
 again alive.”

_On cross-examination_ he said—

 “He did not notice any such ‘arching’ as the witness Wilson spoke
 of, nor did she mention it to him as one of the symptoms. Nor should
 he call what he saw of the feet ‘arching.’ He had only seen one case
 of epilepsy before—that was twelve months ago—and the symptoms in
 it were very similar to what he saw in the deceased. He saw the body
 immediately after death; there was no ‘arching’ of it then. If there
 had been he should have seen it. She was lying, with her clothes on,
 on the bed. If there had been any marked rigidity of the body he
 should have observed it; that was a quarter of an hour after death.”

 _Re-examined_ by Mr. Poland.—“She had her clothes on when he saw her,
 and part of her body might have been covered with the bedclothes. In
 the case of epilepsy he referred to, the person died in six hours. _He
 prescribed no pills, only the mixture._”

Proof was then given of the finding in the prisoner’s room of six
bottles of medicine, a box with two pills,[95] and a packet of powder
in dirty paper, and of their delivery to Dr. Lees, and subsequently to
Dr. Bernays for analysis. It was not, however, until suspicions were
aroused by other circumstances (the finding of the body of the infant
in the river) that a _post-mortem_ examination was held by Dr. Lees,
and the contents of the stomach and other interior parts of the body
analysed by him, and subsequently handed to Dr. Bernays for the same
purpose. In one of the bottles Dr. Bernays found a distinct sediment
of Prussian blue, pointing clearly to the use of some vermin killer.
Subsequently two kinds of these dangerous preparations were submitted
to and analysed by him.


Dr. Lees, M.D., of the Brixton Road, on the 18th of September made a
_post-mortem_ examination of the body in conjunction with a Dr. Lewis.
They found _no morbid appearances to indicate the cause of death_—the
limbs were somewhat rigid, the body fairly nourished, and the stomach
showed no sign of irritant poison.

 “It contained,” said the witness, “six ounces of a thin reddish
 fluid. I put the stomach and contents into a jar, and the viscera
 into another. I received the bottles from the constable and the paper
 of powder, and saw some pills at the inquest. Among the bottles
 was one of the larger ones, which appeared to have contained a few
 ounces of good sarsaparilla—it was empty and rinsed out. One bottle
 contained about two grains of dried powder, adhering to the bottle.
 I added to the bottle a few drachms of water, two drachms of spirits
 of wine, thirty drops of hydrochloric acid, and two grains of dried
 powder. My purpose up to that time was to test for strychnia, but it
 was frustrated. What I had done was not sufficient to enable me to
 form an opinion. I had previously analysed a portion of a two-ounce
 phial, containing half a drachm or thirty drops of a reddish brown
 fluid—half a spoonful. I first tested five drops, and obtained clear
 evidence of strychnia. I was enabled to separate from the rest a
 substance that yielded strychnia. I used three separate tests; the
 second time with ten drops, and obtained needle-shaped crystals.
 I showed the colour to Dr. Bernays. I did not test the bottle for
 any other purpose. I left the rest (five drops) in the bottle and
 corked it up. Half a grain of strychnia is a fatal dose. I have
 been in practice fourteen years, and am of opinion that if Mrs.
 Wilson’s description of the symptoms is correct, they were consistent
 with death from strychnia. They only resemble the disease known as
 _idiopathic tetanus_. If Mrs. Wilson’s description is correct, the
 symptoms were not consistent with anything I know except death by
 strychnia—it came on so rapidly. If strychnia were administered in
 solution, the symptoms would come on in a very few minutes. _Strychnia
 occasionally produces irritation of the stomach._ The symptoms of
 poisoning by it are the rapid occurrence of twitchings in the limbs
 and rigidity of the muscles of the limbs, _usually commencing in the
 lower extremities_; the sense of weight on the chest, the extension of
 the spasms to the muscles of the trunk, the arching back of the head,
 the intervals of consciousness, the absence of any great difficulty
 in swallowing, and death in six hours. Mr. Miller’s evidence is
 consistent with death from strychnia.”

_The cross-examination_ was, as in Mrs. Wilson’s case, directed to the
eliciting admissions in favour of the opinion, at first adopted by Mr.
Miller, that the death was due to epilepsy.

 “Leaving out the ‘arching’” (opisthotonos), said the witness, “I
 should hesitate to say she died of strychnia; it is a leading symptom,
 and also that the intellect was clear at intervals. _Vomiting is not
 usual in epilepsy._ It was _eight days_ after death that I examined
 the body. There was then _no rigidity beyond what I might expect in
 death_. The lungs were congested, the heart flabby and decomposed,
 spongy from putrefaction, and containing a little coagulated blood.
 Taking the appearances of the whole _post-mortem_ examination, _there
 were no marked ones to account for death_.”

Dr. A. J. Bernays, professor of chemistry at St. Thomas’s Hospital,
to whom the bottles and powder found in the room, the jars with the
stomach, intestines, and viscera, and a bottle supposed to contain
vomit,[96] had been handed on the 28th of October, reported the
results of his analysis of their contents.[97]

 “In the organs (the lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, intestines, spleen,
 and blood) he found no poison of any kind. The stomach was inflamed,
 and there was a _trace of strychnia_, but of no other poison. In one
 bottle of medicine, opium, myrrh, but no strychnia, were found, and
 in another only peppermint and asafœtida. The powder was innocuous,
 consisting of old mustard and fenugreek. In one nearly empty bottle
 was found a distinct sediment of Prussian blue, one of the usual
 ingredients in ‘vermin powder.’ He was satisfied that what Dr. Lees
 showed him on a watch glass was strychnia; on testing, it was found
 to contain the 1000th part of a grain. On the 31st of October the
 inspector brought two packets labelled _Battle’s Vermin Killer_.
 _Poison. Lincoln_—a light blue powder, a threepenny and a sixpenny
 packet. The first consisted of fifteen grains, containing wheat flour,
 Prussian blue, and crystallised strychnia. The second packet, of the
 same composition as the first, weighed thirty grains. The amount
 of strychnia was—in the threepenny packet 10·69 per cent., in the
 sixpenny packet 10·06 per cent., corresponding to 1·6 grains in the
 smaller packet. On the 9th November a threepenny and sixpenny packet
 of _Butler’s Gloucestershire Vermin and Insect Killer for killing rats
 and mice, &c._, was received, marked poison. The weight of the two
 was fifty-six grains. It was a grey powder, containing flour, soot,
 and barium carbonate, but no strychnia; but another packet of the
 same contained flour, soot, strychnia, but no barium carbonate. These
 ‘vermin killers,’ if used at all, should never be made or sold except
 by the legitimate pharmaceutists of the country, and under proper

 _Mr. Justice Denman._—“A very proper suggestion for the consideration
 of the legislature.”

_Mr. Thomas Stephenson, M.D._, lecturer in chemistry at Guy’s Hospital,
agreed with Dr. Lees and Dr. Bernays, and had no doubt of the
correctness of their experiments.

It was also proved by the prisoner’s brother-in-law that the prisoner
was in the habit of taking sarsaparilla, and that whilst the prisoner
lodged with him, the witness had been using _Battle’s Vermin Killer_,
as he was troubled with mice in his room. This he had bought at a shop
in the Vauxhall Road, but he did not recollect having any of it left,
or of the prisoner using it in his room. The prisoner had left Mrs.
Wilson a few hours after the woman’s death, saying he was going to
telegraph down the line and would be absent till the evening. He did
not return until about nine on the morning of the 11th, when he said
his cousin would take the child, which Mrs. Wilson dressed and gave to
him, and never saw it again until the 15th, when it was lying dead in a
public-house at Battersea, having been found drowned in the river. He
also promised Mrs. Wilson that he would attend the woman’s funeral, but
did not, and told her on one occasion that he always had strychnia by

_For the defence_ Mr. Fulton urged that the evidence of the “arching”
of the body was very vague, and rested only on the word of Mrs. Wilson,
who had not mentioned this important symptom either to the doctor or
the coroner’s constable, and that without that symptom the death might
be accounted for by epilepsy, and the first opinion of Dr. Miller
justified. He endeavoured to minimise the evidence of the analysts, and
argued that the conduct of the prisoner in his attendance on his wife
was a strong proof of his innocence. “Motive,” he said, “there appeared
to be none, as from his wages the prisoner was quite able to bear the
expense of the mother and child.”

The jury, however, returned a verdict of “guilty,” and the prisoner was
executed on the 2nd of December, admitting the justice of his sentence,
and that he was a party to the death of the child, but saying others
were in it.



 Contained in St. Ignatius’s bean—False Angostura bark—_Nux
 Vomica_, &c.—Properties of strychnia—Facility of detection.
 _Tests_: (1) Microscope—(2) Taste—(3) Color test; ditto
 in other alkaloids, in bile, and in resinous and saccharine
 matters—(4) Physiological test (Marshall Hall)—(5) Bichromate
 of potash—(6) Picric acid—(7) Sulphuric acid and sodium
 nitrite—(8) Mercuric chloride. Preparations of strychnia: _Vermin
 killers_—Battle’s, Gibson’s, Miller’s, Marsden’s, Barber’s,
 Hunter’s, Keating’s—_Brucia_—_Igasuria_—_Igasuric acid_. _Doses of
 strychnia_: medicinal, fatal, recovery—_Nux vomica_. _Fatal period_
 for strychnia—_Symptoms_ in man, commencement of symptoms, if given
 in powder, in solution, in pills. _Explanation of symptoms_: by
 hysteria, tetanus, epilepsy, gritty granules on spinal cord—Angina
 pectoris. _Post-mortem_ appearances—Treatment—Antidotes—Dr.
 Taylor’s evidence—Ptomaine—Did Cook die from morphia?—_Granular
 preparations_ at St. Thomas’s Hospital.

SEVERAL species of Strychnos, of the natural order Loganiaceæ, contain,
mainly in their seeds, the alkaloids Strychnia and Brucia in the
proportion of one to one and a half per cent. The plants yet proved
to contain these two alkaloids are:—_Strychnos nux-vomica_ (bark and
seeds), _Strychnos Ignatia_ (Faba amara, or St. Ignatius’s bean),
_Strychnos Tieute_ (the Upas tree of Java), _Strychnos toxifera_ (main
source of woorara or curare, the arrow poison of the South American
Indians), and _Strychnos Ligustrina_ and _Colubrina_ —“snakewood”), a
tree of Asia. _S. potatorum_ —“clearing nut”) and _S. pseudokina_ are
not poisonous.

In commerce, “Nux vomica,” “Faba amara, or St. Ignatius’s bean,” “false
Angostura bark” (the bark of Strychnos nux-vomica), and an extract
called “curare,” are met with. The last is made by mixing the juice
of the bark of Strychnos toxifera and another species with pepper
and acrid plants; as its effects depend upon “_curarine_,” another
alkaloid, and not upon strychnia, it will not enter much into our

“_Faba Amara_,” St. Ignatius’s bean, contains 1·2 per cent. Strychnia
and some Brucia.

“_False Angostura Bark_” contains Strychnia and Brucia, gives a light
yellow powder, intensely bitter, and turned red by nitric acid.

_Nux Vomica_, a flattened circular seed, from half to one inch
diameter, generally concavo-convex, with a slight central prominence.
Colour greyish-brown; silky from radiating hairs. Substance tough
and horny; powder light brown, with an odour like liquorice, and an
intense and persistent bitter taste. Nitric acid gives with the powder
and with the extract an orange-red colour, owing to the presence of
_brucia_. The aqueous infusion gives a precipitate with tannin, and an
olive-green tint with neutral ferric chloride.

STRYCHNIA, C_{21}H_{22}N_{2}O_{2}, occurs in commerce in opaque
white rhombic prisms (the “right square octahedra” of the British
Pharmacopœia are not met with), inodorous, having a sp. gr. of 1·36.
One part of strychnia dissolves in 7000 parts of cold, in 2500 parts of
boiling, water; in 1250 parts of ether; in 1000 of carbon disulphide;
in 200 of _absolute_ alcohol; in 120 parts of cold, and 10 parts of
hot, rectified spirit; in 181 parts of amylic alcohol; in 164 of
benzene; and 7 of chloroform. Creasote and essential and fixed oils
also dissolve strychnia (Blyth).

It sublimes in needle shaped crystals, or sometimes, if too quickly
heated, in drops, at 169° C.; melts at 221° C., finally darkening and

Its bitter taste is its most prominent physical characteristic. I have
verified the statement that one grain of strychnia in a gallon (70,000
grains) of water is distinctly perceptible. One grain in 30,000 is
markedly bitter.

Its salts are crystallizable, and also bitter, lævo-rotatory in
solution, mostly colourless, neutral to test-paper, generally
soluble with facility in water, hence more rapidly poisonous than
the free alkaloid. _Strychnia sulphates_ occur in large four-sided
prisms, octahedrons, or needles, according to the amount of water of
crystallization. _Strychnia nitrate_ crystallizes in silky needles,
easily soluble in water. The _sulphate_ is officinal in the French,
the _nitrate_ in the German, Austrian, Swiss, Norwegian, and Dutch
Pharmacopœias. The acetate and hydrochloride are met with in commerce,
but are not officinal. _Strychnia_ itself, the free alkaloid, is
prescribed in the British Pharmacopœia. _Liquor strychniæ_ is a
solution of the hydrochloride.

_Separation._—Strychnia is probably the easiest of the alkaloids to
detect, on account of its stability and the delicacy of its reactions.
One half-millionth of a grain in the pure state is discoverable by the
colour tests (Pharm. Journ., July, 1856). Putrefaction does not change
it, for Richter detected it in tissues after _eleven years_ (Sammlung
Klin. Vorträge, 69, 562), and other observers in decomposed or buried
bodies after five to eight weeks. And yet there are few analysts who
have not on some occasion failed to find it (see p. 147.) A very
small quantity, about a grain, may destroy life. Even of this, only
a portion is absorbed; the rest is eliminated by vomiting (when it
occurs), and by the urine and fæces; the absorbed portion is diffused
with great rapidity through a large mass of blood and tissue; the
result is that we are looking for _one part_ of the poison in about a
_million times_ its weight of impurities—almost worse than the needle
in the haystack. Matters are still more difficult if the theory be true
that an alkaloid, in killing, itself suffers change (see pp. 128 and
133)—an idea that Dr. Letheby and Mr. Nunneley strongly repudiated
in the Palmer defence, though the latter witness had to admit that
he himself had once failed to detect strychnia in an animal to which
he had administered it. Dragendorff records several negative results
without apparent cause. Taylor (Med. Jur., 1873, Vol. I., 414) mentions
cases of non-discovery by Dr. Reese of Philadelphia, Mr. Horsley of
Cheltenham, by himself in the organs of an animal hypodermically
poisoned; and also a case in which _five grains_ had been taken, and
only a little over a grain was found. Sonnenschein (Casper’s Handbook)
in one case found a quantity in the stomach, but none in the tissues;
yet it had caused death. All these facts greatly support the theory
that the alkaloid is itself changed in causing death.

However this be, if the stomach has failed to yield strychnia, the
whole of the rest of the organs, the blood, and the muscles—in fact,
as much of the body as can be managed—should be extracted with hot
redistilled methylated spirit acidified with a little acetic acid. It
is easy to fit up an arrangement with a stoneware pan, a wooden cover,
and a coil of tin pipe, through which steam can be passed, and thus
the alcohol can be kept warm for two or three hours without much loss.
Strain the whole through a cloth, distil off most of the alcohol,
evaporate on a water bath at about 70° C., and treat the extract as
described in the general process for alkaloids. To facilitate the
purification, the alcoholic solution may be precipitated by acetate
of lead (_avoiding much excess_), filtered, the lead removed from
the filtrate by adding sufficient sulphate of potash in solution and
allowing it to settle, and the clear liquid evaporated as before. Much
syrupy matter, which occasions trouble, is thus removed.

The ether-chloroform solution (p. 5), by spontaneous evaporation,
leaves the strychnia in “rosettes, veined leaves, stellate dotted
needles, circles with broken radii, and branched and reticulated forms”
(Guy and Ferrier, Forens. Med., 1881, 568). If not yet pure enough to
crystallize, advantage may be taken of the fact that while most of the
impurities are charred by warm concentrated sulphuric acid, strychnia
is very little affected. A few drops of this acid are therefore added
to the residue, then it is warmed for ten or fifteen minutes on the
water-bath, finally diluted to about ten cubic centimetres, filtered,
the filter washed with water, and the filtrate treated again with
ammonia and ether-chloroform. The residue left by the latter, on
spontaneous evaporation, will now be pure enough for the following

TESTS.—1. The microscopic appearances are so various as to be
somewhat indefinite; Guy’s description has been already given. If _no_
crystals are found, strychnia and most other alkaloids are unlikely to
be present. But if crystals _are_ obtained, they frequently, on further
examination, prove to be some inorganic salt or an ammonium compound,
leading to wrong conclusions, if the microscope be trusted too much.

2. Dissolve in water with a trace of acid, and divide on several
watch-glasses, as described in the introduction. If one portion be
cautiously _tasted_, and there be no bitterness, strychnia is very

3. Proceed at once to the _colour test_. Transfer a portion of the
residue, dissolved in a drop of acetic acid, to a white porcelain dish
or plate; dry gently on the water-bath; moisten it with about two drops
of pure concentrated sulphuric acid; _strychnia gives no coloration_;
with the point of a knife place a minute quantity of finely-powdered
peroxide of manganese (the precipitated hydrate is often recommended,
but the natural peroxide answers better, being more gradual in its
action) on the side of the dish; slant the dish so as to allow the
liquid to come in contact with the powder. At the moment of contact
a _deep rich blue_ colour is produced if 1/20000th of a grain of
strychnia be present. The blue colour rapidly changes into _purple_,
_crimson_, _rich red-brown_, then fades into _bright orange-red_, which
last tint remains for some hours. By cautiously stirring with a glass
rod, the succession of colours can be brought out again at another
spot. One or two other qualified observers should always be summoned
to witness the experiment, for two reasons; _first_, that they may
testify at the trial, if necessary, to the certainty of the conclusion;
_secondly_, because the sense of colour is differently developed in
different people, and, if the hues are faint, one is apt to imagine
what one expects to find. But if two or three, without prompting, see
the same appearances, the chance of error is removed.

Applied in this way, the succession of colours is _absolutely peculiar
to strychnia_. But, as objections have been made that these can be
produced from other substances, they may as well be discussed and
disposed of.

(_a_) _Curarine_ (from Strychnos toxifera) has a bitter taste, is
almost insoluble in ether and chloroform; hence it is not usually
extracted by the above alkaloidal process, but remains behind in the
aqueous liquid. With sulphuric acid and peroxide of manganese it gives
the same colours as strychnia, but the changes are slower. _With
sulphuric acid alone_, it yields a pale violet colour, changing to
dirty red, and finally to rose. Its physiological effects are opposite
to those of strychnia—so much so that it has been proposed as an

(_b_) _Pyroxanthine_ (a rare substance, obtained in very small quantity
from wood spirit), _salicine_ (from the willow), and _piperine_ (from
pepper), give _with sulphuric acid alone_ a deep-red colour, destroyed
or spoilt by peroxide of manganese. (Nunneley, in Palmer’s trial.)

(_c_) If sugar and bile should be present together, sulphuric acid will
develope a purple colour very like the strychnia test. Bile would also
give bitterness. But it must be remembered that bile, without sugar,
will not give the colour, that sugar will not be extracted by the
ether-chloroform, and that the colour will appear immediately on the
addition of the acid alone, whereas strychnia remains then uncoloured.

(_d_) Many resinous and saccharine matters are coloured by sulphuric
acid, but can be got rid of by warming with the acid as described above.

So that none of these can be mistaken for strychnia. This important
test depends upon the action of nascent oxygen; hence any substance
which yields oxygen will give the colours more or less satisfactorily.
Bichromate of potash, potassium ferricyanide, peroxide of lead,
peroxide of cerium (Sonnenschein), have been employed, but most of
them give colours of their own, and none are so good as peroxide of
manganese. It is only necessary that the manganese should be finely
pounded and not too much added. The action is slower and more lasting
than with bichromate.

Letheby’s galvanic test is interesting, and has the advantage of not
introducing any extraneous substance into the matter under examination,
so that another alkaloid can be tested for afterwards. I have found
it better to place the drop of supposed strychnia solution, acidified
with a drop of dilute sulphuric acid (10 per cent. strength) on a
white plate, to place on its opposite sides two small pieces of
platinum foil pressed closely against the plate, touching the drop,
and approaching within a quarter of an inch of one another, and to
touch them simultaneously with the terminals of a battery of _two_
Grove’s or other cells. In the region of the positive terminal the same
colours manifest themselves as with peroxide of manganese. If no colour
is shown at once, the battery should be removed, as further galvanic
action may decompose any other alkaloid that may be present. The test
is not so delicate as sulphuric acid and peroxide of manganese.

It is said that the presence of much _morphia_ will interfere with the
above test. But morphia, again, is not extracted completely by the
ether-chloroform; and I have not found it to hinder the reaction if
performed carefully.

Brucia in ordinary quantities, quinine, cinchonine, veratrine, and
santonine do not interfere. In strychnia poisoning, morphia should
always be sought for, as it is used as an antidote. If found, its
interference may be obviated thus. Dissolve the supposed strychnia
in water with a little acetic acid, add an equal volume of _ether_,
and then ammonia in slight excess, and shake well. The strychnia will
dissolve in the ether, the morphia will remain in the aqueous liquid.
On evaporating the ether, the strychnia will be isolated.

4. Dr. Marshall Hall’s _physiological test_ is very delicate. With
some small animal—preferably a frog—proceed as mentioned in the
introduction (p. 6). Tetanic spasms are caused. But other poisons,
ptomaines, and even the mechanical injury, may produce irritation
and perhaps convulsions, so that the test is dangerous, except as
confirmatory or negative.

5. _Bichromate of potash_ solution gives with strychnia, at once or
on standing, a yellow precipitate, appearing under the microscope
as rectangular plates and prisms. (See Guy and Ferrier’s Forensic
Medicine, p. 567.)

6. A sublimate of strychnia touched with a drop of dilute _picric
acid_ solution, strength 1 in 250, gives microscopic arborescent
crystallizations of peculiar _curved_ forms. (_Ibid._)

7. Treated with concentrated sulphuric acid and then with a crystal
of sodium nitrite, strychnia gives a dirty yellow colour, changed by
an alcoholic solution of potash to a fine orange-red, by an aqueous
solution to brownish green, and finally to dirty red-brown. (Arnold,
Arch. d. Pharm. 3, 20, 561.)

8. Mercuric chloride produces a white precipitate, as also does
potassium sulphocyanide. All the general reagents for alkaloids
precipitate strychnia. If, however, the reaction with sulphuric
acid and manganese have come out properly, all the other tests are
superfluous; if it has _not_ been obtained, none of the other tests
will be of use.


  │             │              │    Approximate   │    Approximate   │
  │    Name.    │ Composition. │     Amount of    │     Amount of    │
  │             │              │     Strychnia.   │      Brucia.     │
  │             │              │                  │                  │
  │            {│ Aqueous     }│                  │                  │
  │  Liquor    {│ solution    }│    4 grs. in     │       None.      │
  │ Strychniæ, {│ of strychnia}│    1 fl. oz.     │                  │
  │    B.P.    {│hydrochloride}│                  │                  │
  │             │              │                  │                  │
  │   Tinct.   {│Nut extracted}│   0·15 per cent. │   0·15 per cent. │
  │ Nucis Vom. {│ with spirit }│                  │                  │
  │             │              │                  │                  │
  │ Extractum  {│ Spirituous  }│                  │                  │
  │ Nuc. Vom., {│ extract     }│                  │                  │
  │ English    {│ evaporated  }│ 3 to 4 per cent. │ 3 to 4 per cent. │
  │ Pharm., &c.{│             }│                  │                  │
  │             │              │                  │                  │
  │ Extr. Nuc. {│ Aqueous     }│                  │                  │
  │ Vom., Germ.{│ extract     }│ ½ to 1 per cent. │      2½ to       │
  │   Pharm.   {│ evaporated  }│                  │   3 per cent.    │
  │             │              │                  │                  │
  │ Extr. Fab. {│From St.     }│                  │                  │
  │ Ignatiæ,   {│Ignatius’s   }│   5 per cent.    │    Very little.  │
  │ American.  {│bean         }│                  │                  │
  │             │              │                  │                  │

_Vermin Killers._

1. _Battle’s_ seems to vary in composition. Tardieu found in a packet
of 19 grains, 1½ grain of strychnia, or 7·7 per cent., the rest being
_Potato_ starch and Prussian blue. Woodman and Tidy (For. Med. p. 329)
found 23 per cent. strychnia, with sugar, flour, and Prussian blue.
Bernays found 10·7 per cent. of strychnia, with flour and Prussian
blue. (Barlow’s case.)

2. _Butler’s_ contains flour, soot, and about 5 per cent. strychnia.
Sometimes it contains Prussian blue, and sometimes carbonate of barium
in place of strychnia.

3. _Gibson’s_ contains half a grain of strychnia in each powder.

4. _Miller’s Rat Powder_ contains oatmeal, and about 6 per cent. of nux
vomica (equal to 0·023 strychnia and 0·067 brucia). (Blyth, Man. of
Prac. Chem. p. 317.)

5. _Marsden’s Vermin and Insect Killer_: one packet contains ¾ grain
strychnia. (Lancet, April 19, 1856.)

6. _Barber’s_ “_Magic Vermin Killer Powders_” weigh 28 grains and
contain 10 per cent. of strychnia. “Hunter’s Infallible” also contains

In _Keating’s Insect Powder_ I have found no strychnia nor arsenic.


C_{23} H_{26} N_{2} O_{4}, 4 H_{2} O, is probably derived from
strychnia by the substitution of two molecules of methoxyl (CH_{3} O)
for two atoms of hydrogen (Shenstone, Chem. Soc. Journal, Feb., 1883),
hence might be named _dimethoxystrychnia_. But efforts to change it
into strychnia have, as yet, been unsuccessful. All plants containing
strychnia contain also brucia. In _false Angostura bark_ the latter
much predominates. It occurs in needles or 4-sided monoclinic prisms
(rarely in tables), colourless, intensely bitter, lævo-rotatory to a
less extent than strychnia, but more soluble in water, alcohol, &c.,
hence remaining in the mother liquors in the preparation of strychnia.
Insoluble in pure ether. It melts at 151° C. (Blyth), and produces a
scanty amorphous sublimate near its temperature of decomposition. The
salts are neutral, easily soluble in water, and crystallize in needles
(the acetate with difficulty). Its physiological action is the same as
strychnia, but six or seven times weaker.

With the general reagents for alkaloids brucia gives precipitates. With
_concent. nitric acid_ it gives a deep-red colour, changing to orange,
and finally to yellow. A trace of stannous chloride (protochloride of
tin) turns the red solution purple: excess bleaches it.[98] This test
is very delicate. In former times commercial strychnia always contained
brucia, hence the coloration by nitric acid was even looked upon as
a test for strychnia (see p. 125, and p. 156). But, as the strychnia
now sold is generally pure, it gives no colour with nitric acid in the
cold. Therefore, if both strychnia and brucia are found in a product
extracted from the animal tissues, it follows that _Nux Vomica_, or one
of the plants, or their preparations, has been used, and not the pure
alkaloid. The microscope in this case will generally detect some of the
vegetal tissue or hairs in the stomach.

Concent. sulphuric acid, followed by bichromate of potash, gives with
brucia a red-brown colour passing to green and yellow (Guy).

Whenever strychnia is found, brucia should also be looked for.

IGASURIA, a supposed third alkaloid of the Strychnos tribe, has been
shown by Shenstone to be a mixture of strychnia and brucia (Chem. Soc.
Journal, Sept. 1881, p. 457).

_Strychnic or Igasuric Acid_, obtained by Pelletier and Caventun from
Nux Vomica and from St. Ignatius’ Bean, is probably identical with
malic acid.


_Medicinal dose_ of strychnia 1/30 to 1/12 grain. _Fatal dose_:
smallest recorded ½ grain (Dr. Warner, “Poisoning by Strychnia,” p.
138), ¼ grain (Guy; also case of Agnes Sennett, p. 121, _ante_), but
a child of two or three years was killed by 1/16 grain (Christison):
average for adults, ½ to 2 grains (Taylor).

_Recovery_ has taken place after 3 grains (Taylor), 4 grains (Lancet,
1863, i. 54), 3 to 7 grains (Husemann), 7 grains (Med. Gaz., xli.,
305), “20 grains or more” (? Guy and Ferrier’s Forens. Med., 1881,
p. 574), 40 grains (Med. Times and Gaz., 1865, p. 267). If these
statements are correct, they must be accounted for either by vomiting,
early and vigorous treatment, or impurity of the alkaloid.

Poisonous symptoms have sometimes occurred in adults, and frequently in
children, from medicinal doses.

_Fatal close of nux vomica_: of the powder, 30 grains is the smallest
(= ⅓ grain strychnia), (Hoffmann, Med. Rat. System, 2, 175), of the
alcoholic extract, 3 grains (Christison on Poisons, p. 642).

_Brucia_ is not used in medicine. _Fatal dose_ rather uncertain,
probably three to ten grains.

FATAL PERIOD FOR STRYCHNIA:—Shortest, five minutes (Dr. Gray on
Strychnia, 1872, p. 55); longest, six hours after three grains (Taylor,
Guy’s Hosp. Reports, Oct., 1857, p. 483); average, two hours. _For
nux vomica_:—Shortest, fifteen minutes; longest, three hours or more
(Guy); average, two hours (Taylor), one hour (Guy).

_Symptoms commence_ at various intervals after taking, according to
dose, form, and constitution. The beginning may be (1) almost immediate
(Mad. Merghelynk, 1870, Taylor’s Med. Juris., p. 408), (2) in five
minutes (case of Dr. Warner, also Dr. Gray on Strychnia, 1872, p. 55),
(3) in fifteen minutes (trial of Dove, p. 242), (4) about an hour
(Palmer’s trial, p. 102), (5) forty minutes (Lond. Med. Repository,
xix., 448), up to two and a half hours (Wormley, Microchemistry of
Poisons, p. 538). Hence no conclusion can safely be drawn from this
feature (see Dr. Letheby’s evidence in the Palmer trial, p. 166).
Probably Dr. Todd’s statement in the same trial is the most correct
average:—“Symptoms in ten minutes, if in solution and a large dose;
otherwise in a half to one hour.”

The different action of powder and solution is shown in the following
experiments on two full-grown rats:—

1. Half a grain of _powdered_ strychnia—First convulsion in twenty
minutes, death in two and a half hours.

2. Same quantity _dissolved_ in sufficient acid—Effect almost
immediate; death in half an hour. In the stomach, liver, and brain,
strychnia was separately detected.

Pills, especially if hard, would be very slow in action. The most
intense effect is produced by hypodermic injection.

SYMPTOMS IN MAN:—Bitter taste in the mouth, feeling of suffocation,
jerkings and twitchings of head and limbs, then tetanic convulsions
of nearly all the muscles. Body stretched out stiff, finally arched
back so as to rest on the head and the heels (opisthotonos), spasmodic
and difficult breathing, usually a peculiar grin (risus sardonicus).
_After a time the jaw becomes tightly fixed_ (trismus or lockjaw), the
fingers are clenched, the feet arched inwards (incurvated), the eyes
prominent and staring. The spasm lasts from a half to two minutes, then
there is an interval of comparative rest. The pupils are generally
_dilated_ during the fit, _contracted_ in the interval. A touch, a
change of position, or a sudden noise, will usually cause a renewal
of the spasm. In severe cases the convulsions recur at diminishing
intervals, increasing in violence till death occurs from exhaustion or
suffocation. Vomiting is very rare. Taylor says “the jaw is not always
fixed during a paroxysm: the patient can frequently speak and swallow”
(Med. Juris., 1873, p. 404). Woodman and Tidy (Forens. Med., 1877, p.
330) say that this symptom is invariably present. Guy and Ferrier are
cautious, and state that the effort to drink often causes rigid spasms
of the jaw, but that the “jaw is not always fixed, even in the fit”
(Guy and Ferrier’s Forens. Med., 1881, p. 573). On the whole, fixing of
the jaw is usual but not invariable. In the Palmer and Dove trials the
patients spoke or shrieked during the paroxysms.

As to impatience of touch, Mr. Morley’s dictum in the Dove trial
expresses the truth: “_Not_ shrinking from touch is _consistent_ with
strychnia, but a desire not to be touched is an _indication_ of it.
Several cases of strychnia had desired to be rubbed.” See also the
cases of Mrs. Smyth and Mr. Clutterbuck, pp. 122 and 123.

Consciousness, in the immense majority of cases, is preserved to the
last. If, as in Mrs. Dove, insensibility occurs, it is due to the
exhaustion. In this trial Dr. Christison said “it is unusual to be
insensible before death from strychnia.” Farquharson (Therapeutics, p.
264) states that “the cerebral functions remain unimpaired almost up to
the close.” This is agreed to by all authorities.

The symptoms of strychnia poisoning have been explained away by the
defence as “hysteria,” “idiopathic tetanus,” “epileptic convulsions
with tetanic complications” (Dr. Macdonald in Palmer’s trial), “angina
pectoris” (Dr. Richardson), “apoplexy” (Dr. Bamford’s certificate).
Gritty granules on the spinal cord, sexual or other excitement, cold
and damp, drink, &c., were in that trial assigned as causes. As to
“gritty granules,” the expression is not clear; such granules as
occurred in Cook have been found in many _post-mortems_, where they
certainly did not cause the death. Sexual excitement was out of the
question in this case. Drink does not cause tetanus. The cold and damp
were hardly sufficient reasons, as no symptoms of chill were noticed.
Apoplexy is distinct, as in this the _brain_ would show the disease.

_Hysteria_, _epilepsy_, and _idiopathic tetanus_ (tetanus which is
“constitutional,” or not occasioned by external injury) produce
in some cases insensibility; strychnia, as a rule, does not. They
are also _continuous_ in symptoms. _Traumatic tetanus_ is caused
by a wound or injury, rarely by ulcers or syphilitic sores (see p.
113). If there be none of these it cannot, of course, be traumatic
tetanus. _Hysteria_ is exceedingly variable, and simulates many other
diseases: it is generally the result of excitement. But it does not
produce opisthotonos. _Epilepsy_ has never such symptoms as strychnia
occasions: it rarely supervenes without some history of hereditary
tendency, and it is always attended by unconsciousness (p. 151).
_Idiopathic tetanus_ may occur from a cold (see a case of Dr. Todd’s,
Lond. Med. Gaz., Nov., 1850), or from no assignable cause. It is very
close to strychnia in symptoms, but the latter is much more rapid: the
shortest recorded fatal period for natural tetanus being twelve hours
—“even here the early symptoms had been probably overlooked”—Sir B.
Brodie), the usual about eight days. In both kinds of tetanus the jaw
is usually the _first_, in strychnia the _last_ part to be affected.
_Angina pectoris_ Dr. Richardson himself disposed of, as in the case
he mentions he says that had he known more at the time he would have
suspected strychnia (see Palmer’s trial, p. 176). The symptoms of this
disease, as given in the leading works, differ much from strychnia

POST-MORTEM APPEARANCES.—Neither characteristic nor uniform (Guy
and Ferrier). As a rule, the body is relaxed at death, and stiffens
afterwards (Taylor), but occasionally the reverse is the case (_Reg._
v. _Vyse_, Central Criminal Court, 1862).[99] Sometimes the rigidity,
as in Cook’s case, remains for months. Clinching of the hands, arching
of the feet, are nearly always present, but they may likewise be
noticed in cases of natural death (Casper, quoted by Taylor, Med.
Jur., p. 406; also Prof. Partridge’s evidence in the Palmer trial, p.
172—“half-bent hands and fingers, not uncommon after natural death”).
_Brain, spinal cord, and lungs almost invariably congested._ Blood dark
and fluid. In some cases the heart is full of blood, especially on
the right side, but occasionally it is empty and contracted. Stomach
generally healthy, rarely congested. Casper found a dark violet colour
of the muscles of the throat and gullet; this was the only peculiarity
he noticed, and even this has not occurred in other cases. On the
whole, the diagnosis must depend mainly on the symptoms during life,
though the congestion mentioned above is a valuable corroborative from
the post-mortem. Involuntary evacuation of urine and fæces generally
occurs, but is usual in all painful deaths.

TREATMENT AND ANTIDOTES.—The question will often arise in a trial
whether the best means were taken of saving the patient. In Tawell’s
trial it was actually suggested that the water poured down the throat
may have caused the death by choking! If emetics are used, they are
all more or less poisons. If the stomach-pump be employed, it will
cause irritation and exhaustion. Nevertheless, where a violent poison
has been given, the only hope is in strong remedies—to empty the
stomach by emetics or the pump, to give tannin or animal charcoal, and
to generally sustain nature during the operations. As the inquiry is,
“What caused death?” the defence will frequently endeavour to fasten
the responsibility on the remedial measures. _These would not of
themselves be fatal_, unless disease or poison had previously brought
the patient to a nearly dying state; whether it be disease or poison
will be otherwise determined.

The direct antidote to strychnia is _chloroform_. In animals I have
noticed a large percentage of recoveries. Woodman and Tidy (Forens.
Med., p. 332) give the majority of recoveries to this agent.[100]
I believe that most cases could be saved if, on the approach of
the convulsions, they could be put _vigorously under the action of
chloroform_. Chloral hydrate, nicotine, opium, &c., have been also
tried with scanty success. Tannin precipitates strychnia, as well as
most other alkaloids; hence may be useful as an adjunct. When the jaw
is fixed, liquids can only be given through a tube; even teeth have
been taken out to effect this. Enemata may also be used. Artificial
respiration should be cautiously tried. Curara and Calabar Bean are
dangerous and not effective.

Death or recovery is always rapid; if a person lives over five or six
hours, the case is hopeful (Woodman and Tidy).

One or two considerations remain. Dr. Taylor’s evidence in the
Palmer trial, though in most points it has been corroborated by
subsequent authorities, contained the following statements that require

(1.) “_The colour tests are fallacious_” (pp. 144 and 147). They are
quite decisive if properly performed, and the precautions remembered.

(2.) “_I know of no process which can detect strychnia in the tissues_”
(p. 133). This has been repeatedly done by the same method as is used
for the stomach. Dr. Taylor himself admits it in his later works (see
Med. Juris., 1873, p. 415). No operator now neglects the tissues.
They should always be forwarded for analysis at the same time as the
stomach, but in separate jars.

If indications be obtained, the question will occur—“Could they be
due to Selmi’s ptomaine, resembling strychnia?” If we consider that in
an immense multitude of cases of suspicion, where there is no clue,
strychnia is tested for but _not found_, it is evident that this
natural imitation of the alkaloid must be decidedly rare. So that the
overwhelming probability, if the colour test has been obtained, is that
strychnia itself is present.

In conclusion, Palmer afterwards is said to have more or less admitted
that he poisoned Cook, “_but not with strychnia_.” Though the word
of such a man is of little value, there are others who have been of
this opinion. Mr. Justice Grove is reported to have expressed some
hesitation afterwards on this point. Mr. Nunneley, who, although he
showed too much partizanship in the trial, yet may be said to have
certainly had great experience with animals, asserted that the symptoms
did not quite coincide with strychnia. Others followed in this train.
The assertion is certainly wrong, but Dr. Guy (Forens. Med. 1881, p.
525) has made a suggestion that may be noticed. After quoting Dr.
Shearman’s case of a patient who had taken one and a-half grain of
_morphia_ acetate, and who was seized with “twitching of the limbs and
face, difficulty in swallowing, spasms of the arms, legs, and abdomen,
partial opisthotonos, and great activity of the reflex function”
(Med. Times and Gazette, March 7, 1857); another case from orfila,
when _twenty-two_ grains of morphia hydrochloride had caused lockjaw,
tension of the abdomen, and occasional convulsions; and Castaing’s
case, when twenty-six grains of morphia acetate, and twelve grains
of tartar emetic, had been purchased, and the victim had “vomiting,
purging, convulsions, lockjaw, rigid spasms of the neck and abdomen,
inability to swallow, loss of sensibility in the legs, contracted
pupils, and stertorous breathing,” Dr. Guy goes on to say that as Cook
had probably three grains of morphia acetate within seventy-two hours,
and had previously been reduced by tartar emetic, his death may have
been due to _morphia_ and not to strychnia. But setting aside the
second and third cases where the dose was so large, Cook’s symptoms
did not on the whole agree with those of Dr. Shearman’s patient. The
dose in the time was not larger, but the effects on Cook were immensely
more severe. If these be examples of morphia in its worst and most
anomalous aspect, it certainly cannot dispute with strychnia for the
responsibility of Cook’s death.[101] See also Dr. Todd’s remark, p. 117.

The three preparations of “gritty granules” on the spinal cord in the
museum of St. Thomas’s Hospital, “in which the patients are said to
have died from tetanus” (Mr. Nunneley’s evidence, p. 152, also Dr.
Macdonald’s evidence, p. 180), are in section N, numbers 113, 114, and
115. They are described in the catalogue as—

 “113. Several small patches of earthy matter on the arachnoid of the
 medulla spinalis.”

 “114. A spinal cord. There are numerous large plates of bone on the
 arachnoid of the lumbar portion, and of the cauda equina.”

 “115. A similar preparation. The plates of bone extend as high as the
 upper dorsal vertebræ.”

Mr. Charles Stewart, professor of comparative anatomy and curator of
the museum at St. Thomas’s, tells me that these are calcareous, but
not true bone, that they are not uncommon in post-mortems where they
have had nothing to do with death, and that if the above had died from
tetanus it would probably have been recorded in the catalogue. As there
is no mention of the cause of death, it is certain that it had no
reference to the so-called “granules.”

The assertion of Mr. Morley (Dove’s Case, p. 245), that strychnia is
decomposed into its elements, is obviously incorrect, probably an error
of the reporter.

See also an interesting case lately reported (J. de Pharm. et de
Chimie, November 1882), where strychnia was found, and also arsenic, in
the stomach, liver, and brain.

Dr. John Harley tells me that he finds _hemlock juice_ the best
antidote to the convulsions of all kinds of _tetanus_. He has had many
successful cases. Messrs. Mavor, veterinary surgeons, find this remedy
most efficacious with horses, in which animal _tetanus_ is very common.



NOTWITHSTANDING the difficulties thrown in the way of the purchase of
arsenic by the “Sale of Arsenic Regulation Act” of 1852, the cases of
poisoning by the use of this drug have been so numerous, that it has
been difficult to select examples without greatly extending the bulk
of this volume. I have, therefore, limited the full reports in this
chapter to two, namely:—(1). The case of Miss Madeline Smith for
the imputed murder of her lover, Pierre Emile L’Angelier in Glasgow,
tried before the “Lords of the Justiciary,” the chief criminal court
of Scotland, in Edinburgh, on the 30th of June, 1857, a case full
of interest and doubt, the mystery of which will probably never be
disclosed; and (2) that of Ann Merritt for the murder of her husband,
tried at the Old Bailey, March 8th, 1850, on the verdict in which
arose a notable difference of opinion between leading medical and
other experts, and the chief medical witness, as to the possibility
of fixing, with any definiteness, the time at which the arsenic
found in the body had been administered; resulting in the eventual
commutation of the capital sentence by Sir George Grey, the Home
Secretary. This was the case referred to by the Attorney-General in
his cross-examination of Dr. Letheby in Palmer’s trial. For the trial
of Madeline Smith I have relied on the Report reprinted with additions
and corrections from “The Scotsman,” by far the most accurate that I
have read. To my copy is an Appendix of the _whole_ of the letters,
including those suppressed in Court, published in New York at the
Astor Press. Happily it is not necessary to dwell on their disgusting


 _and_ LORD HANDYSIDE, _at_ EDINBURGH, _30th June and following days,

 _For the Prosecution_: The Lord Advocate (Jas. Moncrieffe), The
 Solicitor-General (E. F. Maitland), and Mr. Donald Mackenzie.

 _For the Defence_: The Dean of Faculty, Mr. John Inglis (now Lord
 Justice General), Mr. G. Young (now Lord Young), and Mr. H. Moncrieff.

By the indictment the Prisoner was charged with administering or
causing to be administered to Emile L’Angelier,[102] arsenic or some
other poison, in coffee, cocoa, or some other food or drink, on the
19th or 20th of February, and on the 22nd or 23rd of February last,
with intent to murder, and on the 22nd or 23rd of March, whereby he
died on the day last named, and was thus murdered by the Prisoner. To
which the Prisoner pleaded “Not Guilty.”


_Pierre Emile L’Angelier_, a Frenchman by birth, had been employed in
Scotland since the year 1843, when he was with a firm of nurserymen at
Dundee. How long he stayed with them was not proved, but according to
his own statement he was one of the National Guard in the Revolution
in Paris in 1848. He was always a poor man, and in 1851, when again
in Scotland, was in such straits that he was living at a tavern in
Edinburgh on the charity of its proprietor. When there he was at times
in very low spirits, crying at night, and speaking of committing
suicide, getting out of bed and walking about the room weeping, and
on one occasion on the point apparently of throwing himself out of
the window of his room had he not been prevented by his companion.
Some love affairs—one with an English lady, another with a lady in
Fife—were the causes he assigned for his melancholy and depression.
In a letter, probably of this date, he wrote, “I never was so unhappy
in my life. I wish I had the courage to blow my brains out.” In 1852
he was in the employ of another nurseryman at Dundee, still harping on
his disappointment in love, complaining bitterly of the last lady’s
intended marriage with another—gloomy, moody, dull, and threatening to
stab himself. Vain of his person, he was always talking of his success
with ladies, and of what he should do if he was again jilted. On one
occasion, when speaking of the use of arsenic for improving the coats
of horses, and asked if he was not afraid of poisoning them, he said,
“Oh, no: so far from doing that, he had taken it himself, without any
bad effects.” From this employment he went to that of Messrs. Huggins
and Co., of Glasgow, where he was looked upon as a steady, industrious
clerk, “a well-behaved, well-principled, religious man.” Whilst with
this firm he pressed a young friend to introduce him to Miss Smith; and
thus sprang up the attachment which led to the catastrophe.

_Miss Madeline Smith_, to whom L’Angelier was introduced towards the
end of 1854, was the daughter of an architect of position in Glasgow,
and had lately returned from an English boarding-school. She was
attractive in person, and just of the age to fall violently in love
with such a plausible, goodlooking man as L’Angelier. As her parents
naturally had little liking for a merchant’s clerk as their daughter’s
husband, the love affair that arose at once after the introduction
was carried on clandestinely by a voluminous correspondence, in which
more than 200 letters passed from her to the deceased in the brief
period of their attachment, and such stolen interviews in or out of her
father’s house as could be arranged with the connivance of one of his
servants. According to the theory of the prosecution, L’Angelier was an
accomplished and deliberate seducer, who at last gained his purpose on
the 6th of May, from which date Miss Smith’s letters to her lover speak
plainly of matters of which even married persons would be reticent,
and are couched in language suitable only to married persons. She was
clearly in L’Angelier’s power, who wished to marry her, and made
more than one arrangement for an elopement. Towards the end of 1856,
however, her affection for him began to cool, and with reason. She had
accepted the attentions of a Mr. Minnoch, with the full consent of her
parents, and shortly after actually fixed the day for her marriage with
him. The danger of her situation pressed upon her. L’Angelier, when he
knew of this, was not the man to sit tamely under such a slight, or to
let another person marry one of whom he knew so much to her discredit.
She wrote him to return her letters, begged and prayed him to do so,
and let the engagement drop, to which she never could get the sanction
of her parents. He refused. He had heard a rumour of the Minnoch
engagement, and he threatened to send the letters to her father. Still
it was not revenge that he wanted; he wanted his wife. Her letters at
this time give the most painful proofs of the state of mind into which
she had fallen. “On her bended knees,” she wrote, begging “him not to
expose her, for her mother’s sake,” and “the dread of her father’s
anger.” “As you hope for mercy at the judgment day, do not inform on
me; do not make me a public shame. There is no one I love. My love was
all given to you. My heart is empty, cold. I am unloved. I am despised.
I told you I had ceased to love. It is true.” Such was her letter,
presumably of the 11th of February, 1857. At this time she was engaged
to Minnoch, and the day of the marriage, if not actually fixed, had
been talked about. She begged for an interview. In the postscript to
this sad letter, she added: “I will take you within the door; the area
gate will be open. I shall see you from my window, twelve o’clock. I
will wait till one o’clock.” The exact date of this letter could not
be proved, as it had been delivered and not posted. It was dated only
Tuesday evening, twelve o’clock; and however ingenious was the argument
of the Lord Advocate, it failed to satisfy the court that it produced
an interview on the 11th which led to another on the 19th—the day on
which, according to the Crown, she first administered the poison to her
lover, from which arose the first of his illnesses, as described by
Mrs. Jenkins, his landlady.

Previously to the trial, the following explanation of the connection
with L’Angelier had been given by the prisoner, in her examination
before the Sheriff Substitute of Lanarkshire on the 31st of March,
“when,” he said, “she answered his questions without hesitation, and
with great appearance of frankness and candour.”


 “I am a native of Glasgow, 21 years of age, and reside with my father
 at No. 7, Blythswood Square, Glasgow. For about two years I have been
 acquainted with P. Emile L’Angelier, who was in the employment of
 Huggins & Co., in Bothwell Street, and resided at 10, Franklin Place.
 He recently paid his addresses to me, and I have met him on a variety
 of occasions. I heard of his death on the afternoon of the 23rd of
 March from my mother. _I had not seen him for about three weeks before
 his death_, and the last time I saw him was on a night about half-past
 ten o’clock. On that occasion he tapped at my window, which is on the
 ground floor and fronts Main Street. I talked to him from the window,
 which is stanchioned outside, and I did not go out to him, nor did he
 come into me. This occasion, which, as already said, was the last,
 _was about three weeks before his death, and was the last time I saw
 him_. He was in the habit of writing notes to me, and I was in the
 habit of replying to them. The last note I wrote _was on the Friday
 before his death, the 20th of March_. (Identifies note and envelope.)
 _In consequence of that note I expected him to visit me on Saturday
 the 21st, at my bedroom window, in the same way as before, but he did
 not come and sent no notice. There was no tapping at my window on the
 Saturday night, nor on the Sunday following._ I went to bed on the
 Saturday night about eleven, and remained in bed until the usual time
 of getting up next morning, being eight or nine o’clock. In the course
 of my meetings with him, he and I had arranged to get married, and at
 one time we had proposed September last as the time and subsequently
 the present month of March. It was proposed we should reside in
 furnished lodgings, but we had not made any definite arrangement as
 to time or otherwise. He was very unwell, and had gone to the Bridge
 of Allan for his health, and he complained of sickness; but I have
 no idea what was the cause of it. _I remember giving him some cocoa
 from my window one night, some time ago, but I cannot specify the time
 particularly. He took the cup in his hand and barely tasted it, and
 I gave him no bread with it._ I was taking some cocoa myself at the
 time, and had prepared it myself. (Identifies note No. 2, which she
 wrote and sent to post.) _As I had attributed his illness to want of
 food, I proposed, as stated in the note, to give him a loaf of bread,
 but I said that merely in a joke, and in point of fact I never gave
 him any bread._

 I have bought arsenic on various occasions. The last I bought was a
 sixpenny-worth, in Currie’s, the apothecary’s shop in Sauchiehall
 Street. Prior to that I had bought other two quantities of arsenic for
 which I paid sixpence each—one of these in Currie’s, and the other
 in Murdoch’s, the apothecary’s shop in Sauchiehall Street. I used it
 all as a cosmetic, and applied it to my face, neck, and arms, diluted
 with water. The arsenic I got at Currie’s on Wednesday, 18th March,
 and used it all on one occasion, having put it all in the basin where
 I was to wash myself. I had been advised to this use of arsenic by
 a young lady of the name of Giubilei, the daughter of an actress,
 whom I had met at school at Clapton near London.[103] I had also seen
 it recommended in the newspapers. I did not wish any of my father’s
 family to know that I was using arsenic, and therefore never mentioned
 it to anyone, and I do not suppose that they or any of the servants
 noticed it in the basin. When I bought the arsenic at Murdoch’s, I
 am not sure whether I was asked or not what it was for; but I think
 I said for a gardener, to kill rats or destroy vermin about flowers,
 and I only said this because I did not wish them to know that I was
 going to use it as a cosmetic. I do not remember whether I was asked
 as to the use I was going to make of the arsenic on the other two
 occasions. I likely made the same statement about it as I had done
 at Murdoch’s; and on all three occasions, as required in the shops,
 I signed my name to a book in which the sales are entered. On the
 first occasion I was accompanied by Mary, a daughter of Dr. Buchanan,
 of Dumbarton. For several years past Mr. Minnoch, of the firm of W.
 Houldsworth & Co., has been coming a good deal about my father’s
 house; and about a month ago he made a proposal of marriage to me,
 and I gave him my hand in token of acceptance, but no time for the
 marriage has been fixed;[104] and my object in writing the note, No.
 1, before mentioned, was to have a meeting with Mr. L’Angelier to tell
 him I was engaged to Mr. Minnoch.[105] (Identifies two notes and an
 envelope bearing the Glasgow post-mark of 23rd January, as written and
 sent by her to L’Angelier.) On the occasion that I gave L’Angelier the
 cocoa, I think that I used it must have been known to the servants and
 members of my father’s family, as the package containing the cocoa
 was lying on the mantelpiece in my room, but no one of the family
 used it, as they did not like it. The water that I used I got hot
 from the servants. On the night of the 18th, when I used the arsenic
 last, I was going to a dinner party at Mr. Minnoch’s house. I never
 administered, or caused to be administered, to Mr. L’Angelier arsenic
 or anything injurious. And this I declare to be truth.”

With this brief introduction, let us proceed to the details of his
various illnesses, due, as the prosecution inferred, to arsenical


Mrs. Jenkins, at whose house L’Angelier came to lodge in the July of
1856, and continued there till his death, spoke of her lodger as of
civil habits, but wont to stay out at night, for which purpose he
had the use of a latch-key. His health was usually good; but about
the middle of February, 1857, he had a severe attack of illness, and
another on the 23rd, of which she gave the following account:—

 “One night he wished a pass key, as he thought he would be late out.
 I went to bed and did not hear him come in. I knocked at his door
 about eight the next morning and got no answer. I knocked again, and
 he said, ‘Come in, if you please.’ I went in. He said, ‘I have been
 very unwell; look what I have vomited.’ I said I thought it was bile.
 It was a greenish substance. There was a great deal of it. It was
 thick stuff, like gruel. I said, ‘Why did you not call me?’ He said
 that while on the road coming home, he was seized with a violent pain
 in his bowels and stomach, and when he was taking off his clothes,
 thought he should have died on the carpet, and no human eye would have
 seen him. ‘I was not able,’ he said, ‘to ring the bell.’ He asked me
 to make a little tea, and said he would not go out. I emptied what he
 had vomited, and advised him to go to a doctor, and he said he would.
 He took a little breakfast and then went to sleep for an hour, when
 I went back to him, and he said he was better, and would go out. Mr.
 Thuau, who lodges in my house, saw him. He went out between ten and
 eleven—his place of business is two streets off. He returned about
 three in the afternoon, said he had been to a doctor and brought a
 bottle of medicine with him. He took the medicine and complained about
 feeling very thirsty.

 “His illness made a great change in his appearance. He looked yellow
 and dull, and before that his complexion was fresh. He became dark
 under the eyes, and the red of his cheeks seemed to be more broken.
 He complained of being very cold after he came in. He lay down on the
 sofa, and I laid a railway-rug over him. I did nothing for his feet.
 He never was the same after his illness. When asked how he felt, he
 was accustomed to say, ‘I never feel well.’ On a Monday morning, about
 four o’clock, he called me. He was vomiting. It was the same kind of
 stuff as before in colour and otherwise. There was not quite so much
 of it. He complained on this occasion likewise of pain in the bowels
 and stomach, and of thirst and cold. I did not know he was out the
 night before. He did not say anything about it. I put more blankets on
 him, jars of hot water to his feet, and made him some tea. I gave him
 also a great many drinks—toast and water, lemon and water, and such
 like—because he was thirsty. I called again about six in the morning.
 He did not rise until the forenoon. Dr. Thomson came to attend,
 fetched by Thuau, and left a prescription for powders, of which he
 took one or two. He said they were not doing him the good he expected;
 ‘the doctor always said he was getting better, but he did not feel
 well;’ ‘he did not feel getting better.’ He was eight days away from
 business at that time. Some time after he went to Edinburgh, and
 returned to Glasgow on the 17th of March, and stayed till the 19th,
 when he went away, as he said, to the Bridge of Allan.

 “He went away about 10 A.M., and said he would not be home before
 Wednesday night or Thursday morning next week. A letter came for him
 on the 19th like those that used to come, and I gave it to Thuau.
 I don’t remember any coming on Friday, but one more, like a lady’s
 writing, on Saturday, which I also gave to Thuau. (Identifies envelope
 as like that of letter received on Saturday, but not another which was
 shown her.) L’Angelier was much disappointed at not getting a letter
 before he left, and said, ‘If I get a letter, perhaps I shall be home

 “I next saw L’Angelier on Sunday night, about eight. He said the
 letter sent had brought him home. I told him it had come on Saturday
 afternoon. He did not say where he had come from. I understood he
 had been at the Bridge of Allan. He looked much better, and said he
 was so. He went out about 9 P.M., and asked for a latch-key, as he
 might be late. I was to call him early. It was about half-past two
 next morning when I next saw him; he did not use the latch-key, but
 rang the bell violently. When I opened the door, he was standing with
 his arms on his stomach. He said, ‘I am very bad. I am going to have
 another vomiting of that bile.’ The first time I saw the vomitings, I
 said it was bile. He said he was never troubled with bile. He said he
 never thought he should have got home, he was so bad on the road. He
 did not say how he had been bad. The first thing he took was a little
 water. I filled up the tumbler, and he tried to vomit. He wished a
 little tea. I went into the room (with it?), and before he was half
 undressed he was vomiting severely. It was the same kind of matter as
 I had seen before. There was a light. The vomiting was attended with
 great pain. I asked him whether he had taken anything to disagree
 with his stomach. He said he had taken nothing since he was at the
 Bridge of Allan. He was chill and cold, and wished a jar of hot water
 to his feet, and another to his stomach. I got these for him, and
 two blankets and mats. He got a little easier. About four o’clock
 he was worse, and on my proposing to go for a doctor said he was a
 little better, and I need not. About five he was worse again, and
 his bowels became bad. He had been vomiting only up to this time. I
 went for Dr. Steven, who could not come so early, but told me to give
 him twenty-five drops of laudanum, and put a mustard blister on his
 stomach, and if he did not get better he would come. At L’Angelier’s
 request, I went again, and the doctor came, who immediately ordered
 him mustard. I said to him, ‘Look at what he has vomited.’ He said,
 ‘Take it away, it is making him faint.’ I got the mustard, and the
 doctor put it on, and I think gave him a little morphia. I said to
 L’Angelier, ‘This is the worst attack you have had.’ The doctor stayed
 about a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes. I took him into the
 dining-room, and asked him what was wrong; he asked me if he was a
 person that tippled. I said, ‘No,’ and that this was the second time
 this had occurred, and asked what was the reason. The doctor said this
 was matter for explanation. The first time I went back, L’Angelier
 asked what the doctor had said. I said he thought he would get over
 it, and L’Angelier replied, ‘I am far worse than he thinks.’ About
 nine, when I drew the curtains, he looked very ill, and I asked if
 there was no one he wished sent for. He asked to see Miss Perry, of
 Bamfield Street. I sent for her. He said he thought that if he could
 get five minutes’ sleep he should be better. These were the last words
 I heard him use. I went back into the room in about five minutes; he
 was then quite quiet, and I thought he was asleep. The doctor then
 returned, and I told him so. He went into the room, felt his pulse,
 lifted his head, and said he was dead.”

Nothing of importance with reference to the symptoms of his attacks
was elicited in cross-examination. His first illness, according to the
witness, was a great deal worse than the second. It was in January that
he first complained of ill health. He then first complained of his
tongue; then a boil came out on his neck, and shortly after another.
She did not think that he ate what suited him, and especially too
many vegetables, to which he said he was accustomed in France. On the
morning of his death he complained about his mouth being sore. The
doctor gave him some water, and he said it was choking him, or that
it was going into his chest. When in bed that morning he always had
his arms out on the bed clothes. She did not remember his hands being
clenched. His right hand was clenched when he died. The remainder of
the cross-examination related to the dress he usually wore, and the
search by the officers for his papers.[106]


_Dr. Thomson_, a physician in Glasgow, who had known L’Angelier for two
years, gave the following evidence as to his health up to about the
10th of March:—

 “He consulted me professionally, the first time, fully a year ago,
 when he had a bowel complaint, of which he got better. Next time was
 on the 3rd February this year for a cold and cough, and boil on his
 neck, for which I prescribed. The next week after I saw him, when
 another boil had appeared. _On the 23rd of February_ he came to me.
 He was very feverish, and his tongue was furred, and had a patchy
 appearance, from the fur being off in various places. He complained of
 nausea, and had been vomiting. He was prostrate, his pulse was quick,
 and he had general symptoms of fever. I prescribed for him (taking his
 complaint to be bilious derangement) an aperient draught. He had been
 ill, I think, for a day or two, but he had been taken worse the night
 before he called on me—during the night of the 22nd and the morning
 of the 23rd. He was confined to the house for two or three days. I
 visited him on the 24th, 25th, and 26th of February, and on the 1st of
 March met him. The aperient draught I prescribed contained magnesia
 and soda. On the 24th I prescribed powders containing rhubarb, soda,
 chalk of camomile, and ipecacuanha. On the 24th he was much in the
 same state. He had vomited the draught I had given him on the 23rd,
 and I observed that his skin was considerably jaundiced; and from the
 whole symptoms I called the disease a bilious fever. On the 25th he
 was rather better, and had risen from his bed to the sofa, but was not
 dressed. On the 26th he felt considerably better and cooler, and I did
 not think it necessary to repeat my visits till I happened to be in
 the neighbourhood. _It did not occur to me that these symptoms arose
 from the action of any irritant poison. If I had known that he had
 taken an irritant poison, these were the symptoms I should expect to
 follow._ I don’t think I asked him when he was seriously taken ill. I
 had not seen him for some little time before, and certainly he looked
 very dejected and ill; _his colour was rather darker and jaundiced,
 and round the eye the colour was rather darker than usual_. I saw him
 again eight or ten days after the 1st of March. He called on me, but I
 have no note of the day; he was much the same as on the 1st of March.
 He said he was thinking of going into the country, but did not say
 where. I did not prescribe for him then. On the 26th of February, I
 think I told him to give up smoking. I thought it was injurious to his
 stomach. I never saw him again in life.”

 “On the morning of the 23rd of March, Mr. Stevenson and Mr. Thuau
 called on me, mentioned his death, and wished me to go and see his
 body, and see if I could give an opinion as to the cause of his death.
 They did not know that I had not seen him alive in his last illness. I
 went to the house. The body was laid out on a stretcher on the table.
 _The skin had a slightly jaundiced hue._ I said it was impossible to
 give a decided opinion, and requested Dr. Steven to be sent for, who
 had been in attendance. I examined the body with my hands externally,
 and over the region of the liver the sound was dull; and over the
 region of the heart the sound was natural. I saw what he had vomited,
 and made inquiry as to the symptoms before death. Dr. Steven, when he
 arrived, corroborated the statements of the landlady, as far as he was
 concerned. No resolution as to a _post-mortem_ examination was come
 to that day, but in the afternoon I stated to Mr. Huggins and another
 gentleman, who called on me, that the symptoms were such as might have
 been produced by an irritant poison, and that it was such a case that,
 had it occurred in England, a coroner’s inquest would be held.”

On _cross-examination_, the witness said—

 “_At the time I attended L’Angelier, in February, there were no
 symptoms that I could definitely say were not due to a bilious attack,
 they were all the symptoms of such an attack. There was no appearance
 of jaundice. I have heard of that as a symptom of irritant poison._
 It is in Dr. Taylor’s work on poisons. _The jaundice I saw was quite
 consistent that he was labouring under a bilious attack, and could
 easily be accounted for that way._”

_Dr. Steven_, physician of Glasgow, who was called in by Mrs. Jenkins
on the 23rd of March, at the commencement of the fatal attack, carried
on the case to the death of the deceased:—

 “I was applied to,” said the Witness, “early in the morning of the
 23rd of March last, by Mrs. Jenkins, to see her lodger, who she told
 me was suffering from a severe bilious attack. Being unwell myself I
 was unwilling to go, but advised her to give him hot water and drops
 of laudanum. She came to me again about seven. I went, thinking,
 as he was a Frenchman, he might not be understood. I found him in
 bed, very much depressed. His features were pinched, and his hands.
 He complained of coldness and pain over the region of the stomach.
 By pinched, I mean shrunk and cold, or inclined to become cold. He
 complained of general chilliness and his face and hands were cold
 to the touch. He was physically and mentally depressed. I spoke to
 him and observed nothing peculiar in his voice. I did not expect a
 strong voice, and it was not particularly weak. That was when I first
 entered the room. But his voice became weaker. He complained that his
 breathing was painful, but it did not seem hurried. I dissuaded him
 from speaking, had extra clothes put on his bed, gave him a little
 morphia (mustard?) to make him vomit, but he seemed to have vomited
 all he could. He had a weak pulse. I felt the action of the heart
 corresponding to it. That imported that the circulation was weaker at
 the extremities. The feet were not cold. Hot bottles were put to them,
 and also above his body for his hands. He was not urgently complaining
 of thirst. He seemed afraid of drinking large quantities for fear of
 making himself vomit. He asked particularly for cold water, and was
 unwilling to take whisky, which the landlady talked of giving him. He
 said he had been vomiting and purging. I saw a utensil filled with the
 matter vomited and purged. I ordered it to be removed and a clean one
 put in its place, that I might see what he had vomited. I did not see
 it. I believe it was kept for some time, but I said it might be thrown
 away: that was after his death. He said, ‘_This is third attack_ I
 have had: the landlady says it is bile, but I never was subject to
 bile.’ He seemed to get worse while I was there. He several times
 said, ‘My poor mother,’ and how dull he felt at being so ill away
 from friends. I applied a mustard poultice to his stomach. I stayed I
 suppose half-an-hour. I called again about a quarter past eleven. The
 landlady met me and said he had been quite as bad as in the morning. I
 went into the room and found him dead. He was lying on his right side,
 with his back towards the light, his knees drawn a little up, one
 arm outside the bedclothes and the other in. They were not much—not
 unnaturally drawn up. He seemed in a comfortable position, as if
 sleeping. About mid-day I was sent for again; Dr. Thomson was there
 when I went in. I asked him if there was anything in his previous
 illness, with the symptoms I mentioned, which would account for the
 cause of death, but we were entirely at a loss to account for it. I
 declined giving a certificate unless I made an examination, and Dr.
 Thomson and I made one the next day. We subsequently made a second
 examination after the body was exhumed.”

The witness then described how the stomach and its contents were
carefully preserved and sent to Professor Penny for analysis (see
Appendix A., p. 355).


_Dr. Penny_, the Professor of Chemistry in the Andersonian University,
Glasgow, then read the following report of his analysis of the parts of
the body handed to him by Dr. Thomson, made at the request of one of
the procurators fiscal of the country.

 (1.) _Contents of Stomach._

 “The liquid measured 8½ ounces. On being allowed to repose, it
 deposited a white powder, which was found on examination to possess
 the external characters and all the chemical properties peculiar
 to arsenious acid, that is, the common white arsenic of the shops.
 It consisted of hard, gritty, transparent, colourless crystalline
 particles; it was soluble in boiling water, and readily dissolved in a
 solution of caustic potash. It was unchanged by sulphide of ammonium,
 and volatised when heated on platina foil. Heated in a tube it gave a
 sparkling white sublimate, which, under the microscope, was found to
 consist of octahedral crystals. Its aqueous solution afforded, with
 ammonio-nitrate of silver, ammonio-sulphate of copper, sulphuretted
 hydrogen, and bichromate of potash, the highly characteristic results
 produced by arsenious acid. On heating a small portion of it in a
 small tube with black flux, a brilliant ring of metallic arsenic was
 obtained, with all its distinctive properties. Heated with dilute
 hydrochloric acid and a slip of copper foil, a steel-gray coating was
 deposited on the copper; and this coating, by further examination, was
 proved to be metallic arsenic.

 “Another portion of the powder, on being heated with nitric acid,
 yielded a substance having the peculiar characters of arsenic acid.
 A small portion of the powder was also subjected to what is commonly
 known as ‘Marsh’s Proof,’ and metallic arsenic was thus obtained, with
 all its peculiar physical and chemical properties. These results show,
 unequivocally, that the said white powder was arsenious acid—that
 is the preparation of arsenic which is usually sold in commerce, and
 administered, or taken as a poison, under the name of arsenic or oxide
 of arsenic.

 “I then examined _the fluid contents of the stomach_. After the usual
 preparatory operations, it was subjected to the following processes:—

 “(1.) To a portion of the fluid Reinsch’s process was applied, and an
 abundant steel-like coating was obtained on copper foil. On heating
 the coated copper in a glass tube, the peculiar odour of arsenic
 was distinctly perceptible, and a white crystalline sublimate was
 produced, possessing the properties peculiar to arsenious acid.

 “(2.) Another portion was distilled, and the distillate subjected to
 Marsh’s process. The gas produced by this process had an arsenical
 odour, burned with a bluish-white flame, and gave with nitrate
 of silver the characteristic reaction of arseniuretted hydrogen.
 On holding above the flame a slip of bibulous paper moistened
 with a solution of ammonio-nitrate of silver, a yellow colour was
 communicated to the paper. A white porcelain capsule depressed upon
 the flame was quickly covered with brilliant stains, which on being
 tested with the appropriate reagents, were found to be metallic
 arsenic. By a modification of Marsh’s apparatus, the gas was conducted
 through a heated tube, when a lustrous mirror-like deposit of arsenic
 in the metallic state was collected; and this deposit was afterwards
 converted into arsenious acid.

 “(3.) Through another portion of the fluid a stream of sulphuretted
 hydrogen was transmitted, when a bright yellow precipitate separated,
 having the chemical properties of trisulphide of arsenic. It dissolved
 readily in ammonia; it remained unchanged in hydrochloric acid; and it
 gave, on being heated with black flux, a brilliant ring of metallic

 “(4.) A fourth portion, being properly acidified with hydrochloric
 acid was distilled, and the distillate subjected to ‘Fleitmann’s’
 process. For this purpose it was boiled with zinc and a strong
 solution of caustic potash. Arseniuretted hydrogen was disengaged and
 was recognised by its odour, and its characteristic action on nitrate
 of silver.”

 (2.) _Stomach._

 “I examined, in the next place, the stomach itself. It was cut
 into small pieces, and boiled for some time in water containing
 hydrochloric acid, and the solution, after being filtered, was
 subjected to the same processes as those applied to the contents of
 the stomach. The results in every case were precisely similar, and
 the presence of a considerable quantity of arsenic was unequivocally

 (3.) _Quantity of Arsenic._

 “I made, in the last place, a careful determination of the quantity
 of arsenic contained in the stomach and its contents. A stream of
 sulphuretted hydrogen gas was transmitted through a known quantity
 of the prepared fluid from the said matters, until the whole of the
 arsenic was precipitated in the form of trisulphide of arsenic. This
 sulphide, after being carefully purified, was collected, dried, and
 weighed, and the weight corresponded to a quantity of arsenious acid
 (common white arsenic) in the entire stomach and its contents equal
 to 82 grains and seven-tenths of a grain, or nearly one-fifth of
 an ounce. The accuracy of this result was confirmed by converting
 the sulphide of arsenic into arseniate of ammonia and magnesia, and
 weighing the product. _The quantity here stated is exclusive of the
 white powder first examined._ The purity of the various materials
 and reagents employed in this investigation was most scrupulously


 “Having considered the results of this investigation, I am clearly
 of opinion that they are conclusive in showing (1), That the matters
 subjected to examination and analysis contained arsenic, and (2), That
 the quantity of arsenic found was considerably more than sufficient to
 destroy life.

 “All this is true, on soul and conscience.

  “_Professor of Chemistry_.”

 _April 6, 1857._

 _Examination resumed._—“It is not easy to give a precise answer to
 the question ‘How much arsenic would destroy life?’ Cases are on
 record in which life was destroyed by two and four grains; four or
 six grains are generally sufficient to destroy life, and the amount
 I determined as existing in the stomach was 82 grains. On the 31st
 of March I attended the exhumation of M. L’Angelier’s body. I saw
 the coffin opened, and the portions of the body removed, which were
 carefully preserved, in jars of which I never lost sight, and I
 analysed the contents, and prepared the following


 “On Tuesday, 31st March last, I was present at a _post-mortem_
 examination of the body of P. E. L’Angelier, made by Drs. Corbet,
 Thomson, and Steven, in a vault in the Ramshorn Church, Glasgow.

 “At my request, portions of the following organs were removed from the
 body, and properly preserved for chemical analysis and examination:
 (1.) Small intestine and contents; (2.) Large intestine; (3.) Liver;
 (4.) Heart; (5.) Lung; (6.) Brain. These articles were taken direct
 to the Laboratory of the Andersonian Institution, and were there
 delivered to me by the parties named. I have since made a careful
 analysis and chemical examination of all the said matters, with the
 following results:—

 (1.) _Small Intestine and Contents._

 “The portion of the small intestine contained a turbid and
 reddish-coloured fluid, measuring four ounces. On standing for
 several hours in a glass vessel, this liquid deposited numerous and
 well-defined octahedral crystals, which, being subjected to the usual
 chemical processes for the detection of arsenic, were found to be
 arsenious acid. Arsenic was also detected in the small intestine.

 (2.) _Large Intestine._

 “This organ yielded arsenic, but in less proportion than in the small

 (3.) _Liver, Brain, and Heart._

 “Arsenic was separated from the liver, brain, and heart, but in much
 less proportion than from the small and large intestines.

 (4.) _Lung._

 “The lung gave only a slight indication of the presence of arsenic.


 “(1.) That the body of the deceased contained arsenic.

 “(2.) That the arsenic must have been taken by or administered to him
 while living.”

The witness then spoke of the examinations he had made into the arsenic
sold by the two chemists, _Murdoch_ and _Currie_, at whose shops
the prisoner had stated she had purchased it, for the purposes of a
cosmetic. In that sold at _Murdoch’s_, 91·1 per cent. was pure white
arsenic, and in that from _Currie’s_, 94·4 per cent., and the remainder
inorganic matter; in _Murdoch’s_ carbonaceous, in _Currie’s_ indigo
and carbonaceous matter. The quantity of indigo in this arsenic was
extremely small, and capable of being removed by peculiar and dexterous
manipulation, so that the arsenic would appear white to the unassisted
eye. If of this an amount sufficient to cause death had been given, and
prior to death great vomiting had taken place, the witness would not
expect to find any portion of the indigo: the quantity was so small,
that it would not colour wine of any sort. In the case of _Murdoch’s_
arsenic, however, as it was mixed with carbonaceous particles, if that
had been given and settled down from the contents of the stomach as
in this case, he should have expected to find such particles—not,
however, if it had been given a month before. Of the twelve bottles
and two packages of medicines, and the cake of chocolate found at
L’Angelier’s lodging, and submitted to him for analysis, none, except
a weak solution of aconite were poisonous, and that was so weak, that
had the whole two ounces in the phial been swallowed, it would not have
destroyed life. Of the use of prussic acid or arsenic as a cosmetic he
had never heard, and believed that both would be dangerous, and the
latter might produce constitutional symptoms of poisoning. He had heard
of its use as a depilatory, but then mixed with other matters, as lime,
and it was not arsenious acid, but usually the yellow sulphide, that
was used for this purpose.

On _cross-examination by the Dean of Faculty_, the witness said:—

 “In the entire stomach and its contents there was arsenic equal to 82,
 7-10th grains, exclusive of the white powder first examined, which,
 after being dried, weighed 5, 2-10th grains, and was arsenious acid.
 I did not determine the quantity of arsenic in the liver, heart, or
 brain, and can give no notion of the quantity that might be in those
 organs. In the small intestine it must have been considerable, because
 when its contents were allowed to repose arsenious acid crystallised
 out of that liquid and deposited abundantly on the sides of the
 vessel,—which indicated that the liquid had as much arsenic as it
 could hold in solution at that temperature. I can’t give any idea of
 the quantity in the small intestine. It was decidedly appreciable.
 It would be a mere matter of guess, and I should not like to guess
 in so serious a matter. If the deceased, when attacked by symptoms
 of arsenical poisoning, vomited often, and in large quantities, it
 would depend on the mode of administration whether a quantity would
 be carried off. If given in solid food, and in a solid state, a large
 portion of the arsenic would be ejected from the stomach if all
 the food were vomited; but if the arsenic were stirred up with the
 liquid, and thereby thrown into a state of mechanical suspension, I
 should not expect that so considerable a portion would be ejected by
 vomiting. By solid food I mean bread and the like. In the case of
 the arsenic being taken in a fluid, I could not say what proportion
 might be ejected. I should not be surprised to find that as much had
 been ejected as retained. Judging from what I found in the body,
 the dose must have been of a very unusual size. There are cases on
 record in which large quantities of arsenic have been found in the
 stomach and intestines—larger than in the present. I think there
 is a case where two drachms—120 grains—were found. In the cases I
 refer to the arsenic was taken voluntarily, with the intention to
 commit suicide. It would be very difficult to give a large dose in a
 liquid. By a large dose you exclude many vehicles in which arsenic
 might be administered. Nothing which I found indicated the time when
 the arsenic must have been taken. The ordinary period between the
 administration of the poison and the symptoms being manifested is
 eight to ten hours in the cases on record: that is the extreme time.
 There are some cases in which they show themselves in half an hour.
 We have cases in which death resulted in a few hours, and cases in
 which death has been delayed two days. As to the arsenic bought at
 _Currie’s_ shop, the greater part of the colouring matter might be
 removed. If you were to throw water on the arsenic, and agitate the
 two together, and after the arsenic has subsided you throw off the
 liquor, a portion of the colouring matter is thrown off, and if you
 keep the vessel shaken in a particular way you may coax the greater
 part of the colouring matter away. _Murdoch’s_ arsenic was coloured
 with carbonaceous matter—it had the colour of coal soot. I cannot
 tell from examination whether the arsenic found was given in one dose
 or in several. It would be very dangerous to use arsenic externally
 in any way. There are cases in which it has been rubbed on the whole
 skin, and the symptoms of poisoning produced—vomiting, pain, but
 not death. My impression is, from general reading, that it produces
 eruption on the sound skin.[107] If cold water were used, I should not
 like to wash in it. I cannot give any other answer.”

 _To the Lord Justice Clerk._—“There are cases in which inflammation
 of the intestines has been produced by the external application of

 _To the Dean._—“Arsenic is an irritant poison; it is absorbed into
 the blood, I presume, with great rapidity, and through the blood it
 reaches all the organs in which we find it.”

 _To the Lord Advocate._—“In administering large doses of arsenic
 many vehicles are excluded. Cocoa or chocolate is a vehicle in which
 a large dose might be given. There is a great difference between
 giving rise to suspicion and actual detection. I have found by actual
 experiment, that when 30 to 40 grains of arsenic are put into a cup
 of warm chocolate, a large portion of the arsenic settles down in
 the bottom of the cup, and I think a person drinking such poisonous
 chocolate would suspect something when the gritty particles came into
 his mouth; but when the same and even a larger quantity were boiled
 with the chocolate, instead of being stirred or mixed, none of it
 settles down.[108] I could not separate the soot from _Murdoch’s_
 arsenic, but a very large quantity of it might be separated. Supposing
 a person subjected to repeated doses of arsenic, I have no evidence on
 which to form an opinion whether the last dose would be more rapidly

 _To the Dean._—“In the case of chocolate being boiled with arsenic in
 it, a larger portion dissolves and does not subside. That is what I
 find by actual experiment. Coffee or tea could not be made the vehicle
 of so large a dose of arsenic.”

 _To the Lord Justice Clerk._—“The period in which the arsenic
 produces its effect varies in different individuals, and according to
 the mode of administration. Pain in the stomach is one of the first
 symptoms, and vomiting usually accompanies the pain, but it may be
 very severe before the vomiting actually begins. Ten, fifteen, or
 twenty grains might be given in coffee.”

_Professor Penny_, subsequently (on the fourth day), gave the following
account of experiments made by him with arsenic purchased from
_Murdoch’s_ and _Currie’s_ shops:—

 “Some of the arsenic I purchased from _Murdoch’s_, which was mixed
 with soot, I gave to a dog, and I had no difficulty in detecting the
 soot in the stomach of that dog after death. I administered arsenic,
 coloured by myself with indigo, to another dog, and had no difficulty
 in detecting the indigo in that case by chemical tests. To another
 dog I administered arsenic purchased at _Currie’s_, which it will
 be remembered was mixed with indigo. After death I detected black
 particles in the stomach of that dog, but I could not undertake to
 identify the arsenic found with the arsenic given: I mean I found
 carbonaceous particles, but that I could not undertake to say that
 these particles were of themselves sufficient to identify any of the
 particular poison administered. But as I administered it myself, it
 must have been the same—at least, I know of no other source. I could
 detect no arsenic in the brains of the dogs. I found solid arsenic in
 the stomach, as well as in the texture of the stomach.”

 _By the Court._—“Is it the fact that there is less arsenic found in
 the brains of animals than of human beings?”

 _Witness._—“I am not aware. In the one case I detected blue colouring
 matter of indigo, in the other carbonaceous particles.”[109]

 _By the Dean._—“Did you make yourself acquainted with the nature of
 the colouring matter of _Currie’s_ arsenic before administering it to
 the dog?”

 _Witness._—“I did.”

 _The Dean._—“Did the black particles you found correspond to the
 constituents of the colouring matter?”

 _Witness._—“They have a close resemblance to them, both in physical
 appearance and in chemical properties.”

 _The Dean._—“Were they not in physical appearance and chemical
 properties, identical?”

 _Witness._—“They were.”

_Professor Christison_, to whom, on the 11th of May, Dr. Penny had
delivered similar portions of the body to those on which he had
experimented, together with portions of the deposits from the stomach
and intestines, made a chemical analysis of the white powder, and the
fluids obtained from the stomach, and the small intestine, and of a
portion of the liver. As from these he obtained unequivocal proofs of
the presence of arsenic, he did not, at that time, proceed further.
Subsequently, however, on the 28th of May, he analysed a portion of the
great intestine, and was satisfied of the presence of arsenic; and in a
portion of the brain he found “traces of arsenic, but not satisfactory
evidence, which might be owing to the small quantity of material he had
to analyse.”

 “The fluid from the stomach,” he said, “appeared to indicate a
 considerable quantity in the system—more than sufficient to destroy
 life. The symptoms of arsenic poisoning are variable. Sometimes
 they pass off quickly, sometimes continue for weeks or months. When
 they continue, they are indigestion, loss of strength, emaciation,
 sometimes diarrhœa, lassitude of the limbs. If there appeared erosions
 with elevated edges in the intestines, I should have been led to
 suspect the existence of some affection of the intestines previous
 to the final attack. The appearances exhibited by the _post-mortem_
 examination were such as the witness would expect from arsenic.”

 _By the Lord Advocate._—“If you had been consulted in a case of
 this kind,—that on the 18th or 19th of February a person having
 gone out in good health returns, is attacked during the night with
 great pain in the bowels, severe vomiting of a green viscous fluid,
 accompanied by intense thirst and purging, and after the lapse of two
 or three days and partial recovery the patient is again seized with
 the same symptoms, though in a somewhat modified form, and that after
 the second attack he had continued affected with great lassitude,
 change of colour, low pulse, and that after going from home for ten
 or fourteen days, had again returned and been attacked the same night
 with those symptoms in an aggravated form, and had died within eight
 or ten hours of his return, and that on a _post-mortem_ examination
 the results were found of which you are aware in this case:—I wish
 you to give me your opinion, as a man of science and skill, what
 conclusion you would draw as to the cause of the previous illness and

 _Witness._—“I could have no doubt that the cause of death was
 poisoning by arsenic, and such being the case, I should have
 entertained a strong suspicion in regard to his previous illness,
 because his death would have prevented me from taking the means of
 satisfying my mind on the subject by a careful examination of all the

 _The Lord Advocate._—“Are the symptoms consistent with what you would
 expect if continuous poisoning was taking place?”

 _Witness._—“They are those which have occurred in parallel cases of
 the administration of doses singly insufficient to cause death.”

Of the samples of _Murdoch’s_ and _Currie’s_ arsenic, which Dr.
Penny had delivered to him, “The former,” he said, “contained the
due proportion of soot; the latter was not coloured with the indigo
prescribed by the Act—was not of a bluish, but greyish black colour,
imperfectly mixed, and easily removeable by washing with cold water,
which cannot easily be done with good indigo. The proportion was a
thirty-sixth, and not a thirty-second, as the Act directs.”[110]

The _cross-examination_ of this witness was first directed to the
probability of the colouring matter in the arsenic being detected in
the portions of the body analysed.

 “My attention,” said Professor Christison, “was not directed to
 colouring matter in arsenic. I got only one article in which it might
 have been found—the small intestine. The others had been subjected
 to a previous analysis. I was not asked to attend to the colouring
 matter. I did not see it, and did not search for it. Supposing soot
 or indigo to have been given with the arsenic, I think it might have
 been found in the intestines by careful examination. I can’t say it
 would have been found: many circumstances go to the possibility of
 its being found. Many component parts of soot are insoluble: it might
 have been removed by frequent vomiting. It is very difficult to remove
 soot from arsenic entirely. Indigo would have been found more easily
 from the peculiarity of its colour, and the chemical ingredients are
 so precise. _Currie’s_ arsenic is not coloured with true indigo; it
 is waste indigo, or what has been used by the dyer. I don’t know how
 it is prepared. I did not analyse the colouring matter of _Currie’s_
 arsenic. I ascertained it was not the indigo directed by the Act to be
 used, and I ascertained the quantity. I separated the colouring matter
 from the arsenic, and subjected it to the action of sulphuric acid.
 Charcoal (more properly—_carbon_) is one of the constituents of good
 indigo, and necessarily of waste. The chief constituent of soot is
 charcoal also.”

The remainder of his _cross-examination_ was directed to the amount of
arsenic found in the stomach, and the symptoms of, and the period at
which the effects are exhibited.

 “I was informed by Dr. Penny that he had found more than eighty
 grains in the stomach. There was also the white powder in addition.
 If there was great vomiting and purging, the quantity of arsenic
 administered must have been much greater than that found in the
 stomach and intestines. Much would depend whether means were taken
 to promote vomiting. If hot and cold water were freely given, that
 would facilitate the discharge of the poison. It is impossible to say
 the proportion ejected. I think it would be reasonable to suppose
 that as much would be vomited as remained: it might, without any
 extravagant supposition, be taken at four or five times as much.”
 _Symptoms._—“There was nothing in the symptoms mentioned in the
 last illness in this case inconsistent with death being produced by
 a single dose of arsenic. The ordinary symptoms of this kind are
 not unlike those of malignant cholera. _I think all the symptoms in
 this case might have occurred from malignant cholera. If there was a
 sense of choking and soreness of the throat, I think these are more
 symptoms of arsenic._ I don’t think they have occurred in cholera. I
 think the ulcers in the abdomen might indicate the previous existence
 of inflammation in the duodenum, called duodenitis. It might be a
 disease that would present the outward symptoms of bowel complaint
 or cholera.” _Appearance of effects of arsenic._—“The ordinary time
 that elapses between the administration of arsenic and death is from
 eighteen hours to two days and a half. The exceptions to this are
 numerous. Some of them are very anomalous as to the shortness of the
 intervals. The shortest are two and two-and-a-half hours: these have
 been ascertained; but it is not always possible to ascertain when it
 has been administered. I had a case lately in which it was five hours.
 There are also cases in which it was seven and even ten hours. It
 does not appear that the size of the dose affects this; it does not
 depend upon the amount taken, within certain bounds, of course; but
 I speak of the case as arsenic is usually administered. There are a
 good many cases of large doses. I think the dose in this case must
 have been double, probably more than double, the quantity found in the
 stomach. A dose of 220 grains may be considered a large dose. I can’t
 say if, in cases of as large a dose as this, they are intentionally
 administered: in great proportion of cases of suicide, the dose is
 generally found to be large—easily accounted for by the desire to
 make certain of death.”

 _The Dean._—“In a case of murder no such large quantity would be
 used? It is in cases of suicide that double-shotted pistols are used
 and large doses given.”

 _Witness._—“But murder, even by injuries, and also by poison, is very
 often detected by the size of the dose. In all cases of poisoning
 by arsenic there is always more used than is necessary. I cannot
 recollect how much has been used, but I know very well that what
 is found in the stomach in undoubted cases of poisoning by others
 has been considerably larger than what is necessary to cause death:
 because the very fact of poison being found in the stomach at all, as
 in the case of arsenic, shows that more has been administered than is
 necessary, as it is not what is found in the stomach causes death, but
 what disappears from the stomach.”

 _The Dean._—“But do you know any case in which so great a dose as the
 present was administered?”

 _Witness._—“I cannot recollect at the present moment. In cases
 of charges of murder by arsenic it is scarcely possible to get any
 information as to the actual quantity used.”

 _The Dean._—“You have information here in this charge of murder.”

 _The Witness._—“You have information as to what was in the stomach.”

 _The Dean._—“And you are enabled to draw an inference.”

 _Witness._—“Of course: my inference is drawn by a sort of
 probability, but that is not an inference on which I am entitled to
 found any positive statement.”

 _The Dean._—“Well, let me put this question. Did you ever know any
 person murdered by arsenic having 88 grains of it found in his stomach
 and intestines?”

 _Witness._—“I don’t recollect at the present moment.”

 _The Dean._—“Or anything approaching to it?”

 _Witness._—“I don’t recollect, but I would not rely on my
 recollection as to a negative answer.”

 _The Dean._—“You are not, at all events, able to give an example the
 other way.”

 _Witness._—“Not at present. As far as my own observation goes, I can
 say that I never met with 80 grains in the stomach of a person who had
 been poisoned by arsenic. I can’t say what is the largest quantity I
 have found.”[111]

 _The Dean._—“If a person designs to poison another the use of a large
 quantity of arsenic, greatly exceeding what is necessary, is to be

 _Witness._—“It is a great error. In some articles of food it is
 easy to administer a large quantity of arsenic, and in others it is
 difficult to do so. It is very rare for persons to take meals after
 arsenic has been administered; but there is a case of a girl who took
 arsenic at eleven A.M., and at two P.M. made a pretty good dinner. It
 was a French case, and the words as translated are, that she made a
 very good dinner, though it was observed she was uneasy previously.
 The author who notices that case notices it as a very extraordinary
 one. She died in thirteen or fourteen hours after the administration.
 It was a rapid case.”

 _By the Lord Advocate._—“The amount of matter vomited is sometimes
 very little; and sometimes very large doses have been thrown off by
 vomiting. There is one case in which half an ounce was taken and
 no vomiting ensued. I think chocolate and cocoa would be a vehicle
 in which a considerable dose might be given. Active exercise would
 hasten the effect of arsenic; a long walk would do so. Exercise
 accelerates the effects of all poisons except narcotic. That a man
 should take poison at the Bridge of Allan, come to Coatbridge, walk
 eight miles to Glasgow, and reach that in good health and spirits, I
 should think very unlikely. Cases of protraction for five hours have
 occurred in persons who had gone to sleep after taking it. From half
 an hour to an hour is the usual time between administration and the
 symptoms manifesting themselves. The administration of previous doses
 predisposes the system to the effects of poison, and makes its action
 more rapid and violent. If the individual had recovered entirely, this
 would not be so much the case; but if he still laboured under the
 derangement of the stomach, I should look for violent effects.”

On the fifth day Professor Christison was recalled, and gave the
following evidence as to the use of arsenic as a cosmetic, its taste,
and its supposed presence naturally in the bodies of human beings.

 _By the Lord Advocate._—“With regard to the use of arsenic as a
 cosmetic, do you think it possible to use it, by putting it in a basin
 of water and washing the face with it?”

 _Witness._—“It would be very unsafe indeed. I should expect it to
 produce inflammation, probably, of the eyes and nostrils, and perhaps
 of the mouth. It might get into the mouth, and it would be very
 difficult to keep it out of the eyes and nostrils; and if it once got
 in, as it is a rather insoluble solid, it would be difficult to wash
 it out. A preparation made from common arsenic is sometimes used as a
 depilatory. The old name is ‘Arasma Cacoran,’ because it is used by
 the Turks. It is essentially a sulphuret of arsenic and a sulphuret of
 lime. It is only used for removing hairs from the skin, and not for
 the complexion.”

 _By the Dean._—“The common arsenic of the shops, you say, is an
 insoluble solid.”

 _Witness._—“It is said in general terms to be so. _It is sparingly
 soluble in cold water._ It is not absolutely insoluble, however, in
 cold water. _About the 500th part might be dissolved in cold water by
 violent agitation, and if the arsenic were to be boiled in the first
 instance, about a 32nd part would remain in cold water. Cold water is
 the worst of all things to hold arsenic in suspension. Only the fine
 parts of the powder would be held in suspension. The coarse arsenic
 sold in the shops would fall to the bottom._”[112]

 _The Dean._—“Suppose water were used to wash the face and hands
 without drawing up the arsenic from the bottom, you would not expect
 any serious consequences to result?”

 _Witness._—“I can only say, that I should not like to do it myself. I
 do not know absolutely what would follow; but, on account of the risk,
 any person who would do so would do a very imprudent thing.”

 _By the Lord Advocate._—“Arsenic, though strictly heavier than water,
 would remain in suspension?”

 _Witness._—“The finer parts of the powder would, but not long. I
 never made any experiment, but should say it would be for a very short
 time. I should say, speaking on mere hazard, in the course of three
 or four minutes there would be scarcely any of the arsenic remaining
 in suspension, and there would only remain what had dissolved. I am
 speaking, as I said, without having experimented.”

 _By the Court._—“_Has arsenic any taste?_”

 _Witness._—“Your lordship is aware that there is a great deal of
 dispute about that. After the strong affirmative of its having no
 taste which I published, a greater authority than I—_Professor Orfila
 of Paris—still adhered to the description that it had a taste._
 All I can say about that is, that experiments were made by myself
 and two other medical gentlemen, as far as it was possible to make
 them with so dangerous a substance, and we found the taste to be
 very slight indeed; _if anything it was rather sweetish, but all but

 _To the Court._—“Then there can be no doubt that large quantities of
 arsenic have been swallowed repeatedly by persons without observing?”

 _Witness._—“The experiments were made by myself and two other medical
 gentlemen, and so far as we went we all agreed as to the result.
 Professor Orfila maintained that it had a taste, though he referred
 to my experiments. But I think I may add, that it has struck me as
 very strange, that neither Orfila nor any others who have doubted
 these observations of mine on the matter, said that they had made any
 experiments themselves. Orfila does not say so. He merely expresses
 his belief, notwithstanding what I have stated.”

 _By the Court._—“If taken in coffee or cream, then, the arsenic,
 having, if any, a sweetish taste, would not be perceptible?”

 _Witness._—“Not at all. I could put that in a clearer point of view
 by a preliminary observation, namely, that several persons who have
 taken arsenic largely without knowing at the time what they were
 taking observed no taste; some observed a sweetish taste, and others
 what they called an acrid taste. With regard to acrimony, however,
 there were two fallacies. One was that they confounded the acrimony
 with the roughness of taste in the mouth, and secondly with the
 burning effects slowly developed by the poison afterwards.”

 _By the Dean._—“In these cases you have spoken of, in what medium was
 the arsenic given?”

 _Witness._—“Sometimes in simple vehicles, such as coffee and water,
 and sometimes in thicker substances, such as soup. I think there
 are some instances where some roughness was observed in the case of
 porridge, but I cannot speak exactly as to the vehicles. I do not
 think the vehicle had much effect on the different tastes. I cannot
 state the quantity administered.”

 _The Dean._—“Are these cases in which you were personally concerned?”

 _Witness._—“Strange to say, I have only been personally concerned
 in two cases of poisoning by arsenic. I have of course been often
 in cases like the present. It only came twice under my personal
 observation. It is the opinion of Orfila that the taste of arsenic is
 an acrid and not a corrosive taste.”

 _The Dean._—“Exciting salivation, is it not?”

 _Witness._—“Yes, that is a pretty correct translation of the French
 word. The word acrid is a professional word, but Orfila uses the word
 _âpre_, which rather means rough.”

 _The Dean._—“Yes, in his 1st vol., p. 377, he uses the word, but at
 p. 357 you will find he says the taste is _âcre et corrosive_.”

 _Witness._—“I was not aware of that. ‘Notwithstanding the experiments
 of Dr. Christison,’ I think he says, ‘the taste of arsenic is acrid.’
 He did not say he made the experiments himself, or give his authority.
 Orfila is a high name in the medical world; none higher of modern date
 in the department of medico-legal chemistry.”

 _The Dean._—“Will you tell me the nature of the experiments you made
 with the two other medical gentlemen?”

 _Witness._—“We tasted the arsenic both in a solid and a liquid state,
 and allowed both kinds to pass as far back along the tongue as it
 was possible to do with safety, so as to spit it out afterwards. We
 allowed it to remain on the tongue about two minutes, and washed the
 mouth carefully.”

 _The Dean._—“Can you give me any idea how much arsenic there was in
 your mouth on that occasion?”

 _Witness._—“About two grains. One of the gentlemen, the late Dr.
 Duncan, kept two grains in his mouth a long time. We allowed it to
 remain on the tongue generally two minutes, a time quite sufficient to
 ascertain the taste.”

 _By the Lord Advocate._—“Is it a common thing in cases of this sort
 to ascertain the quantity of arsenic?”

 _Witness._—“No. In the great majority of criminal cases it is not
 ascertained within presumption.”

 _By the Lord Justice Clerk._—“Are you aware that a great chemist
 maintained that there was arsenic naturally in the bodies of all human

 _Witness._—“I have heard that; but he afterwards surrendered his

 _By the Dean._—“There has been a great shifting of opinion among
 medical men as to the probable effect of arsenic, has there not?”

 _Witness._—“Not during the last 35 years. Prior to that our
 information as to the effects of arsenic was very vague.”

 _By the Dean._—“Was it not generally thought at one time that there
 was naturally arsenic in the human stomach?”

 _Witness._—“It may be so, but it is quite new to me.”

_Robert Telfer Corbett_, physician in Glasgow, and senior surgeon in
the infirmary, who had assisted at the _post-mortem_ examination
and joined in the report, was called on the fourth day, and gave the
following evidence.

 “So far as he could judge without analysis the deceased had died from
 the effect of poison. The morbid appearances presented were of two
 kinds—one showing the result of recent action, the other of action
 at a period antecedent to it. The last of these appearances consisted
 of several ulcers, each about the 1/16th of an inch in diameter, with
 elevated edge, on the upper part of the duodenum. They might have been
 characteristic of the effect of irritant poison at the distance of a
 month, but it is impossible to fix any date. I think they were such
 as irritant poison, administered a month before, would have produced.
 They were of longer standing than immediately antecedent to death. In
 the duodenum and intestines the body had in colour and otherwise the
 appearances characteristic of arsenical poisoning. Inflammation and
 ulceration are the effect of inflammation; jaundice, I mean the yellow
 tinge of the skin, is an occasional, but not a necessary symptom of
 death by arsenic, but not a common one. Extreme thirst is one of
 the symptoms, and shows itself very early. It is not characteristic
 of British cholera in its earlier stages. The exact time a dose of
 arsenic takes to exhibit its symptoms is from a half to one hour—that
 is the average time. Longer periods have been known but are very
 unusual. They depend more on the mode in which the poison is given,
 and the state of the stomach, than on the quantity administered. If a
 person had been the subject of repeated doses, the irritability of the
 stomach would make it more likely to operate quickly. I have read of
 cases of murder where large quantities of arsenic have been found in
 the stomach. I can refer to cases in which details were not given, but
 the quantity was said to be large.”

The _cross-examination_ of this witness was mainly directed to his
assertion that the yellowness of the skin seen in jaundice, and, as
he added, of the conjunctiva of the eye also, was a known symptom in
arsenical poison, but he admitted that the statement in Dr. Taylor’s
book was his only authority: he only “knew it to be a secondary symptom
from arsenical poisoning in his routine.” He admitted also that the
ulcers on the duodenum might arise from some enteric fever, and that
any cause of inflammation might produce them.

On _re-examination by the Lord Advocate_, he repeated that from his
reading and study he knew jaundice to be an occasional symptom of
arsenical poisoning. To a question whether “in a person during life
who immediately after taking food had been seized with severe pain and
intense thirst, he should think, because he had a yellow colour, that
might not be the effect of arsenical poisoning?” he replied “that might
or might not be,” and “that the appearance of jaundice would not sway
him materially one way or the other.” This witness, though he had made
many _post-mortem_ examinations, had only once before done so in a case
of arsenical poisoning. With this witness the medical evidence for the
prosecution was closed.

It will be convenient, as in Palmer’s case, to give in this place the
evidence of the medical witnesses, called, at a subsequent period, for
the defence.


Two physicians were called for the prisoner, with the object of proving
(1), that arsenic could be used without danger as a cosmetic; (2), that
the symptoms in L’Angelier’s last illness were consistent with the
suggestion that he died of some form of cholera.

_Dr. James A. Lawrie_, a physician of Glasgow, many years in practice,
who was first called, said—

 “He had taken a quarter or half-an-ounce of arsenic, bought at
 _Currie’s_, and washed his hands freely with it, and on the previous
 Saturday had tried the same experiment with a half-an-ounce on his
 face, but washed his face afterwards with cold water. The effect
 was the same as using a ball of soap with sand—it softened the
 skin. He filled the basin with the usual quantity of water, and
 mixed the arsenic with it. It was a practice he should have no fear
 of repeating, and would not hesitate in using, if he had a case
 that required it, such as vermin on the skin. In consequence of the
 insolubility of arsenic, he did not think that increasing the quantity
 of arsenic would make any difference in the effect.”

On the second point this witness said:—

 “I treated one case of poisoning by arsenic. Some years ago during the
 prevalence of cholera, I was asked to see a gentleman about seven or
 eight in the evening, and the account was that he had been ill since
 three or four in the morning. I found him labouring under premonitory
 symptoms of cholera, and I prescribed for him. I returned about ten,
 and found the symptoms very much aggravated, and the vomiting and
 purging still continued. His voice was not affected, and the vomiting
 was not the same as in cholera. It was a reddish yellowish matter,
 and I requested it to be set aside. I thought it was not a case of
 cholera, and asked him what he had taken. He said only his ordinary
 food, wine, &c., but nothing else. The symptoms went on still further,
 and I called a consultation of other medical men. He still said he had
 taken nothing. I was satisfied from the aggravation of the symptoms
 that something else was the matter, and at last he died about three in
 the morning. I next day learnt that he had purchased half-an-ounce of
 arsenic the day of his death. I had the vomit and contents of stomach
 analysed, and discovered arsenic in great quantities. Extreme thirst,
 as far as I know, is an early symptom in poisoning by arsenic—but not
 equally so in cholera, it belongs to a later stage in cholera.”

_Dr. Douglas Maclagan_, of Edinburgh, who had had some experience in
arsenical poisonings, and devoted much of his time to chemistry, had
the same opinion as Dr. Lawrie of the innocuousness of arsenic as a
cosmetic (mainly from its insolubility).

 “Unless there was some ulceration or abrasion of the skin, or it was
 kept long in contact with it. In warm water it would dissolve to a
 greater extent than in cold—in which some such proportion as only one
 400th part would dissolve, and if you required to dissolve any great
 quantity it must, according to Dr. Taylor, be boiled violently for
 half-an-hour, and then it retains about 1-40th of its weight after the
 water cools.”

 _The Dean._—“Will the presence of organic matter in a fluid interfere
 with its solvent power upon arsenic?”

 _Witness._—“As a rule, it generally will. There does not appear to
 be any difference between tea, coffee, or water when poured upon
 arsenic. They dissolve but a very small quantity, I do not know how
 you can determine whether cocoa or chocolate is a sufficient solvent
 or not. You cannot filter them so as to determine the quantity.
 There is a great deal of organic matter in the ordinary chocolate
 or cocoa, it ought to be entirely organic matter, except so far as
 it is water.” (The Witness then gave an account of a case of a girl
 whom he attended, who took arsenic by accident, mistaking it for an
 effervescing powder.) “We all know the ordinary symptoms of arsenical
 poisoning. Most of them are very similar to, almost identical with,
 the symptoms of cholera. In the case of slight quantities of arsenic,
 it would appear that the symptoms very closely resemble those of what
 are called bilious or British cholera. In fatal cases they are more
 like malignant or Asiatic cholera.”

 _The Dean._—“Can you diagnose a case of arsenical poisoning by the

 _Witness._—“I believe you may. In the first place the vomiting
 would be bloody, from the violent irritation and the pouring out of
 a bloody mucus into the stomach—after that has been emptied of all
 its contents. I suppose there would be more affections of some of
 the mucous membranes, an unaccountable occurrence of an extensive
 inflammatory redness about the eyes, and the occurrence of nervous
 symptoms, such, for instance, as paralysis of the limbs. But these are
 not necessary symptoms. A person may be suffering from the effects of
 arsenic without these being produced if the quantity is small.”

 _The Dean._—“You never saw jaundice as a symptom of arsenical

 _Witness._—“I am not entitled to speak on my own experience, as I
 never saw it. There is a single line in Taylor’s book, which says,
 that it has been observed, and which refers to the remarks of Dr.
 Marshall on Turner’s case.” (Extract read.)

 _The Dean._—“Is that a description of jaundice?”

 _Witness._—“It is a description of at least one symptom of jaundice,
 yellowness of the skin; but it is rather strange that it does not
 mention the most common of all signs of jaundice, yellowness of the
 eyes. One looks to the eye first in a case of jaundice, because you
 see it best there.”

 _The Dean._—“Do you think that a sensation of choking and a feeling
 of irritation of the throat are symptoms of arsenical poisoning?”


 _The Dean._—“Would that occur in a case of British cholera?”

 _Witness._—“I have seen persons who are affected with choleraic
 symptoms complaining of being sore about the throat, but it is
 generally the soreness arising from what they first vomit, and after
 that it is the muscular soreness.”

 _Cross-examined by the Lord Advocate._—“What is it that causes the
 yellow outline of the eyes and skin?”

 _Witness._—“The absorption of the choleraic matter into the blood.”

 _Lord Advocate._—“I presume there is nothing in a case of arsenical
 poisoning that produces that?”

 _Witness._—“It is certainly very remarkable that we have so many
 cases of arsenical poisoning where the jaundice shows itself: we have
 eruption of those same parts of the duodenum according with arsenical
 poisoning. I am not so certain that jaundice is a symptom of arsenical

 _The Lord Justice Clerk._—“But if you saw the appearance of the eye
 was much darker than usual, would that lead you to think there might
 be jaundice?”

 _Witness._—“Oh, certainly.”

 _The Lord Justice Clerk._—“I knew a case of apparent jaundice arising
 from a cake of yellow soap.”

 _The Lord Advocate._—“Suppose you were told that in a case the body
 after death had a yellow appearance, and it was found to be the effect
 of arsenical poisoning, would you not be surprised at that?”

 _Witness._—“No, not at the yellowish aspect of the skin, but I would
 not expect that there would be marked jaundice.”

 _The Lord Advocate._—“And if you found any symptom of that kind,
 where repeated doses of poison had been taken during the period from
 the time when the patient took ill, what would you say?”

 _Witness._—“If such a case did occur, I should say that there would
 be some connection between the cause of death and the occurrence of
 the jaundice.”

 _Lord Advocate._—“In regard to the vomiting, is there not a great
 difference in different kinds of arsenical poisoning?”

 _Witness._—“Generally the vomiting is severe.”

 _Lord Advocate._—“You state that the presence of organic matter
 detracts from the power of holding arsenic in solution: would you say
 the same as to holding it in suspension?”

 _Witness._—“Certainly not.”

 _Lord Advocate._—“Is great thirst a symptom of arsenic?”

 _Witness._—“Generally it is, and generally an early and persistent

 _Lord Advocate._—“Is it so in cholera?”

 _Witness._—“I should say that I have seen thirst very early in
 cholera. I think it is usually so. I do not know any injurious effect
 that would result if the face were washed with water containing
 arsenic, if you kept your mouth and eyes shut, but I do not recommend

 _To the Dean._—“I cannot say how much arsenic would be held in
 suspension by an ordinary cupful of chocolate and cocoa. It must
 depend upon the kind of chocolate. Cocoa in this country is generally
 thin, but chocolate in France is generally as thick as porridge. It is
 not so in this country.”


On the _first_ charge, that of administering poison on the 19th or
20th of February, it was urged on the jury that there was no reliable
evidence that the lovers had met on either of these days, that
Madeline Smith had at that time poison in her possession, or that the
illness which L’Angelier was supposed to have had at that time showed
arsenical symptoms. On the 17th of February L’Angelier told Miss Perry,
the confidante of their loves, that he expected to meet Madeline on
the 19th, and, from some other circumstances—what they were is not
stated—when on the 2nd of March he told her how ill he had been,
falling on the floor of his room, she said that “she knew that he
referred to the 19th of February.” Mrs. Jenkins, however, could not fix
the date of this attack: it might have been eight or ten days before
the second illness (February 23), and, like his illness in January, she
believed it to be due to bile, the symptoms being something the same
as her own but more violent, on both occasions accompanied by a good
deal of purging and vomiting. From Dr. Thomson’s evidence, however, it
appears that his first illness in that year, which Dr. Thomson places
on the 3rd of February, was due to a cold, with cough and boils, for
which he prescribed. The only attempt that Miss Smith made to purchase
poison before that date was that of sending the page boy to Dr.
Yeaman’s to buy some prussic acid, which the doctor refused to sell
to her. The Lord Advocate admitted that he could not prove that she
had arsenic in her possession before that illness. “It would not do,”
said the Lord Justice Clerk in his charge, “to infer, from her having
arsenic afterwards, that she had it also on the first occasion.”[113]

On the second charge, that of administering poison on the 22nd or
23rd of February, the following evidence was offered. On the 21st of
February Miss Smith openly purchased an ounce and a half of arsenic
of the chemist Murdoch, ostensibly for the purpose—a false one, as
the evidence proved—of killing rats at her father’s country house.
It was mixed with soot, of which she some days afterwards spoke to
the chemist, saying she thought arsenic was white. If, therefore, the
lovers met on the 22nd, or 23rd, she had poison in her possession.
Whether L’Angelier went out on the night of the 22nd, his landlady
could not say:[114] she did not hear him come in, but, when she went
into his room early the next morning, she found him suffering from his
second attack of illness for which Dr. Thomson attended him, and from
which he recovered in about eight days. That the symptoms were those of
arsenical poisoning was hardly to be doubted, and though Dr. Thomson
at the time attributed them to billious derangement, he said, that,
“had he known that L’Angelier had taken an irritant poison, those were
the symptoms he should expect to follow.” The evidence that the lovers
had met on the night of the 22nd, or morning of the 23rd, rested on a
letter, which not only did not bear any date or day of the week, but
the post-mark on which was so obliterated that the post-office official
could not fix any date, though he thought he could see the “M” of
March on the stamp, which counsel on both sides agreed in considering
an error. In that letter Miss Smith wrote: “I am so sorry to hear you
are ill. I hope to God you will soon be better—-- you did look bad on
Sunday night and Monday morning. I think you got sick with walking home
so late, and the long want of food; so, next time we meet, I shall make
you eat a loaf of bread before you go.” This letter the Lord Advocate
assumed to be written on Wednesday, the 25th of February, and to refer
to the meeting on the night of the 22nd and morning of the 23rd. To
Miss Perry, on the 9th of March, L’Angelier spoke of having had a cup
of coffee and chocolate from Miss Smith, which Miss Perry understood to
refer to two occasions, and added, “I can’t think why I was so unwell
after getting that coffee and chocolate from her.” “It ought not to
be forgotten,” said the Lord Justice Clerk, “that the contents of the
stomach on these two illnesses had not been examined, and therefore
it was merely an inference that they were caused by arsenic—an
inference drawn from the fact that on the 22nd of March he died from
that poison.” With reference to the purchase of arsenic, the learned
Judge added: “He attached little importance to the statements of the
druggists as to what was said by the prisoner about rats; without
stating some such objects she would not have got it at all; and it
was not to be supposed, if she had wanted it as a cosmetic, that she
would tell the druggist. Did she see the deceased on the Sunday night,
before the arsenic was administered? Mrs. Jenkins did not see him go
out of the house that night, and he asked the jury to consider whether
there was, on the whole, apart from the correspondence, evidence that
they had met together that night? If there was no proof that the
administration took place on the 22nd of February, then there was
great force in the observation that the foundation of the case for the
prosecution had been shaken.”

On the third charge—that of poisoning on the 22nd or 23rd of March,
the following facts were proved. On his return to work, after his
second illness, L’Angelier was so altered in health, his complexion
wan, with a dark, hectic spot on each cheek, that leave of absence was
given to him, for the first time since he had been in this employ.
Miss Smith had advised him to take rest and change, and L’Angelier
had apparently told her that he should go to the Bridge of Allan. On
the third of March, however, Miss Smith writes that her family are
going to the same place, and the next day suggests that he should go
to the South of England. On the 5th of March he writes her a painfully
earnest letter on the reports about her intended marriage with Mr.
Minnoch, concluding: “Mind, I insist on having an explicit answer to
the question you evaded in my last.” Next day the prisoner purchases
another sixpenny-worth of arsenic, not again of Murdoch, but of Currie,
and this time the excuse is that the house in Blythswood Square is so
overrun with rats, that it is to be shut up and the servants sent away
till the vermin is eradicated. This again was pure invention on her
part. The family went to the Bridge of Allan, whence on Tuesday, the
10th of March, the prisoner wrote to L’Angelier that they would be home
again in Glasgow on the next Monday or Tuesday, when she would write to
arrange an interview, adding, “I long to see you, to kiss and embrace
you, my only sweet love.” Before this the Minnoch marriage had been
arranged, and the day talked about, if not definitively fixed. Again
on the 13th she wrote him: “I think we shall be home on Tuesday, so
I shall let you know, my own beloved sweet pet, when we shall have a
dear, sweet interview; when I may be pressed to your heart, and kissed
by you, my own sweet love. A fond, tender embrace; a kiss, sweet love!
I hope you will enjoy your visit here.” It had been previously arranged
between them that L’Angelier should not come to the Bridge of Allan
until her family had left.

During this visit of the Smiths to the Bridge of Allan, L’Angelier was
taking his leave of absence. On the 6th of March he left for Edinburgh,
and returned to Glasgow on the 17th, and, finding no letter for him,
stayed at home all the next day waiting for it. On the 19th he left
for the Bridge of Allan, where he was to stay for a week, his friend
Thuau undertaking to forward his letters. On the 19th, after he had
left, a letter came, and Thuau forwarded it that night, and it reached
Stirling at nine the next morning. That letter was not to be found. In
his tourist’s bag, however, the envelope of it was discovered, and,
from a letter which he wrote to Miss Perry on the 20th, in which he
said, “I should have come to see some one last night, but the letter
was too late,” it may be fairly assumed that it contained the wished
for appointment for the Thursday night. On the 18th the prisoner bought
her third packet of arsenic at Currie’s. Several dead rats, she said,
had been found, and it was feared some large ones still remained. This
time she had a female companion with her, and, as she had to Murdoch
expressed her surprise at the arsenic she had previously purchased
not being white, she again used the same expression at Currie’s. This
arsenic was coloured with indigo. On the 21st the last of the long
series of letters reached L’Angelier’s lodgings, and was forwarded
at once by Thuau. “Why, my beloved, did you not come to me?” she
wrote. “Oh, my beloved, are you ill? Come to me. Sweet one, I waited
and waited for you, but you came not. I shall wait again to-morrow
night—same hour and arrangement.” That letter, which was found in
his pocket, was received by him after nine on Sunday morning. He left
the Bridge of Allan shortly after evening service began, and was
at his lodgings by eight o’clock that evening. To accomplish this
L’Angelier had walked to Stirling, taken the train from there to
Coatbridge, where a Mr. Ross found him, and, after some refreshment
at the station, walked with him to Glasgow, apparently quite well,
and walking briskly.[115] When he arrived at his lodgings he appeared
greatly improved in health since he left on the previous Thursday, was
in high spirits, and said that the letter had brought him back. He left
his lodgings about nine o’clock, is seen soon after sauntering in the
direction of Blythswood Square, but not near the Smiths’ house, as it
was the hour there for family prayers. To wile away the time he calls
on a Mr. M’Alister, who is not at home, and from that time till he came
back to his lodgings, after midnight, all trace of him is lost. At two
o’clock the next morning the door-bell rang violently; his landlady
went down, and found L’Angelier at the door, standing with his arms
across his stomach. He was suffering from his fatal illness, already
too bad to be able to use his pass key. How that attack progressed, and
what its symptoms were, and what was the result of the _post-mortem_
and analytical examinations, has already been reported.

“Here,” said the learned Judge, “the proof stops. And, supposing you
are quite satisfied that the letter brought him to Glasgow,[116] are
you in a condition to say, with satisfaction to your own consciences,
that, as an inevitable and just result of that, you can find it proved
that they met that night?[117] That is the point in the case. That you
may have the strongest moral suspicion that they met—that you may
believe that he was able, after all their clandestine correspondence,
to obtain the means of an interview, especially as she complained of
his not coming on the Thursday, said she would wait again to-morrow
night, same hour and place, and talked of wishing to clasp him to her
bosom—that you may suppose it likely that, although he failed to keep
his appointment on Saturday, she would be waiting on Sunday, which was
by no means an uncommon evening for their appointment—_all that may
be very true, and probably you will think so; but remember you are
trying this case upon evidence that must be satisfactory, complete, and

“A jury may safely infer certain facts from the correspondence. They
may even safely infer that meetings took place, when they find these
meetings either mutually appointed or arranged for by the parties. But
it is for you to say here whether it has been proved that L’Angelier
was in the house that night. If you can hold that that link in the
chain is supplied by just and satisfactory inference—remember, I say
just and satisfactory—and it is for you to say whether the inference
is just and satisfactory in order to complete the proof. If you really
feel that in your own minds, you may have the strongest suspicion that
he saw her; for really no one need hesitate to say that, as a matter
of moral opinion, the whole probabilities of the case are in favour
of it. But if that is all the amount that you can derive from it, the
link still remains awanting—the catastrophe and the alleged cause of
it are not found together. And therefore you must be satisfied that
you can here stand and rely upon the firm foundation, I say, of a just
and sound, and perhaps I may add, inevitable inference. That a jury
is entitled often to draw such an inference there is no doubt; and
it is just because you belong to that class of men to whom the Lord
Advocate referred, namely, men of common sense, capable of exercising
your judgment upon a matter which is laid before you to consider, it is
on that very account that you are to put to yourselves the question,
‘Is this a satisfactory and a just inference?’ If you find it so, I
cannot tell you that you are not at liberty to act upon it, because
most of those matters occurring in life must depend upon circumstantial
evidence, and upon the inference a jury may feel bound to draw. But
it is an inference of a very serious character—it is an inference
upon which the death of this party by the hand of the prisoner must


In her declaration Miss Smith stated that she heard of L’Angelier’s
death on the afternoon of Monday, the 23rd. On the Wednesday evening
she was out at a party, and at eight o’clock the next morning she
had left the house. In consequence Mr. Minnoch, and a brother of the
prisoner, thinking apparently that she had gone to her father’s country
house, took the rail to Greenock, and the steamer thence to Row, on
board which they found her a little after two in the afternoon. She
said she was going to Rowaleyn, and they went on with her, and from
thence brought her to Glasgow in a carriage. “When we met her on the
steamboat,” said Mr. Minnoch, “I asked her why she had left her house
and her friends in such distress at her absence. She made no reply. I
requested her not to do so among so many people. I renewed my inquiry
afterwards at Rowaleyn. She said she felt distressed that her parents
should be so much annoyed at what she had done.” The suggestion on the
part of the prosecution was, that from conscious guilt she was fleeing
from justice—on the part of the prisoner, that she was fleeing from
the shame of an exposure of her love passages with L’Angelier. “But,”
said the learned judge, “my opinion is, that having made a statement
already about getting arsenic for the gardener to kill rats, and
knowing that if it had been discovered that he got no arsenic for such
a purpose, unpleasant consequences might follow, she wished to see
him, in order to make an arrangement by which that statement might be
borne out. The steamer in which she went only sailed from Helensburgh
to Gairloch and back, and therefore escape by it was nearly impossible;
and, in point of fact, he did not believe she had any intention of
attempting it.”

Previously, however, to this unexplained flight from home, she had been
visited by the French consul, a mutual friend of the lovers, to whose
searching questions in the presence of her mother she gave most decided
answers. As this witness’s evidence was greatly relied on by counsel
for the prisoner, it is reported in full.

_M. Auguste Vauvert de Meau_, the French Consul at Glasgow, who
had known L’Angelier for three years, was acquainted with the
prisoner’s family, and aware from L’Angelier’s own statements of the
correspondence between the lovers, gave the following evidence:—

 “I remember L’Angelier coming to my office a few weeks before his
 death and speaking about Miss Smith. I said she was to be married to
 some gentleman, and when I mentioned the public rumour, he said it
 was not true, but, if it was, he had documents in his possession that
 would be sufficient to forbid the banns. I did not see her after that
 time. I thought that, having been received by Mr. Smith in his house,
 I was not at liberty to speak to him; but after L’Angelier’s death
 I thought it was my duty to mention the fact of the correspondence
 having been carried on between them, in order that he might take steps
 to exonerate his daughter in case of anything coming out. In the
 evening of the death of L’Angelier, I called on Mr. Smith and told him
 that L’Angelier had in his possession a great number of letters from
 his daughter, and that it was high time to let him know this, that
 they might not fall into the hands of strangers, numbers of people
 might go to his lodgings and read them. I went to Mr. Huggins’s office
 (L’Angelier’s employer). He was not in, but I saw two gentlemen, and
 told them what I had been told to ask (to get back the letters); but
 they said that they could not give them up without Mr. Huggins’s
 consent, and I then asked them to keep the letters sealed up till they
 were disposed of. I think this was on the Tuesday after L’Angelier’s
 death. Shortly after I saw Mr. Smith. In consequence of rumours I went
 to his house and saw Miss Smith in the presence of her mother. I
 apprised her of the death of L’Angelier. She asked me if it was of my
 own will that I came to tell her; I told her it was not so, but at the
 special request of her father. _I asked her if she had seen L’Angelier
 on the Sunday night; she told me that she did not see him._ I asked
 her to put me in a position to contradict the statements which were
 being made as to her relation with L’Angelier, and asked her again if
 she did not see him on Sunday evening or Sunday night, and she told
 me she did not. I observed to her that L’Angelier had come from the
 Bridge of Allan to Glasgow on a special appointment with her, by a
 letter written to him. _She told me she was not aware that he was at
 the Bridge of Allan before he came to Glasgow, and that she did not
 give him an appointment for Sunday evening, as she wrote him on Friday
 evening giving him an appointment for Saturday: she had expected him
 on the Saturday, but he did not come, and she had not seen him on
 Sunday._ I put the question to her five or six times in different
 ways. I told her that my conviction was that she must have seen him on
 Sunday, that he had come on purpose to Glasgow on a special invitation
 by her to see her; and I did not think it likely, admitting that he
 had committed suicide, that he had done so without knowing why she had
 asked him to come to Glasgow.”

 _The Lord Justice Clerk._—“Did you know of this letter yourself?”

 _Witness._—“I heard there was such a letter. I said to her that the
 best advice that a friend could give to her under the circumstances
 was to tell the truth about it, because the case was a very grave one,
 and would lead to an inquiry on the part of the authorities, and that
 if she did not say the truth in these circumstances, perhaps it would
 be ascertained by a servant, or a policeman, or somebody passing the
 house who had seen L’Angelier, that he had been in the house, and this
 would cause a strong suspicion as to the motive that had led her to
 conceal the truth. _Miss Smith then got up from her chair and said, ‘I
 swear to you, Mr. Meau, that I have not seen L’Angelier not on that
 Sunday only, but not for three weeks or six weeks,’ I am not sure

 _The Lord Justice Clerk._—“And the mother was present?”

 _Witness._—“Yes. I repeated this question five or six times, but her
 answer was always the same. I asked her with regard to the letter
 inviting L’Angelier to come and see her, how it was that, being
 engaged to another gentleman, she could have carried on a clandestine
 correspondence with a former sweetheart? she said it was to get back
 her letters.”

 _The Lord Advocate._—“Did you ask her whether she was in the habit of
 meeting L’Angelier?”

 _Witness._—“Yes. I asked her if it was true that L’Angelier was in
 the habit of having appointments with her in her house; and _she
 told me that he had never entered that house, meaning the Blythswood
 Square house, as I understood_.[119] I asked her how, then, she had
 her appointments to meet him? She told me that he used to come to a
 street at the corner of the house (main street), that he had a signal
 by knocking with his stick, and that she used to talk to him.”

 _The Lord Advocate._—“Did she speak about her former correspondence
 with him at all?”

 _Witness._—“I asked her if it was true she had signed letters in his
 name, and she said she had done so.”

 _The Lord Justice Clerk._—“Do you mean that she added his name to

 _Witness._—“I meant whether she signed her letters with L’Angelier’s
 name, and she said ‘Yes.’ I did not ask her why.”

 _Cross-examined by Mr. Young._—“I went to live at Helensburgh in
 1845. M. L’Angelier visited me, and once he came on a Saturday to my
 lodgings there, and on Sunday we went on the Luss Road. I went up to
 my room, and L’Angelier not coming in for his dinner, I called for him
 out of temper. I then found that he was ill, and was vomiting down
 the staircase. He once complained to me of being bilious. This was a
 year ago. He complained of once having the cholera. Last year he came
 to my office and told me he had had a violent attack of cholera, but
 I don’t know whether that was a year or two years ago. I think it was
 a journey he was to have made that led him to speak of having had the
 cholera. I don’t recollect whether he was unwell at that time. I know
 that when he came to my house he always had a bottle of laudanum in
 his bag, but I don’t know if he used it. I once heard him speak of
 arsenic; it must have been in the winter of 1854. It was on a Sunday.
 I don’t recollect how the conversation arose, but it lasted half an
 hour. Its purport was how much arsenic a person could take without its
 injuring him. He maintained that it was possible to do it, by taking
 small quantities. I don’t know what led to the conversation, and
 should be afraid to make any statement as to the purpose for which it
 was to be taken. L’Angelier stated to me he had once been jilted by
 an English lady, a rich person, and that on account of the deception
 he was almost mad for a fortnight, and ran about, getting food from a
 farmer in the country. He was easily excited: when he had any cause of
 grief he was affected very much.”

 _By the Lord Justice Clerk._—“After my marriage I had little
 intercourse with L’Angelier. I thought that he might be led to take
 some harsh steps with Miss Smith, and as I had some young ladies in my
 house, I did not think it was proper to have the same intercourse with
 him as when I was a bachelor.”

 _The Lord Advocate._—“What do you mean by ‘harsh steps?’”

 _Witness._—“I was afraid of an elopement. By ‘harsh’ I mean ‘rash.’
 This was after L’Angelier had given me his full confidence as to what
 he would do if her father did not consent to the marriage.”

 _The Lord Justice Clerk._—“ Did you understand that Miss Smith had
 engaged herself to him?”

 _Witness._—“I understood so from what he said.”

 _The Lord Justice Clerk._—“When you used the expression ‘you thought
 it right to go to Mr. Smith about the letters, in order that he might
 take steps to vindicate his daughter’s honour, or prevent it from
 being disparaged,’ did you relate to him her engagement and apparent
 breach of it? Had you in view that the letters might contain an
 engagement which she was breaking, or that she had made a clandestine

 _Witness._—“I thought that these letters were love letters, and that
 it would be much better that they should be in Mr. Smith’s hands than
 in those of strangers.”

 _The Lord Advocate._—“ What were L’Angelier’s usual character and

 _The Lord Justice Clerk._—“Was he a steady fellow?”

 _Witness._—“My opinion of L’Angelier’s character at the moment of
 his death was, that he was a most regular young man in his conduct,
 religious, and in fact most exemplary in all his conduct. The only
 objection which I heard made to him was that he was vain and a
 boaster—boasting of grand persons that he knew. For example, when
 he spoke of Miss Smith, he would say, I shall forbid Madeline to do
 such a thing, or such another thing—to dance with such a one or such

 _The Lord Justice Cleric._—“Did he boast of any success with females?”


 _The Lord Justice Clerk._—“Did he seem jealous of Miss Smith paying
 attention to others?”

 _Witness._—“No; of others paying attention to her.”

 _The Lord Justice Clerk._—“It was not on account of any levity in his
 character that you discouraged him visiting you after your marriage?”

 _Witness._—“No. I thought his society might be fit for a bachelor,
 but not for a married man.”

 _The Lord Justice Clerk._—“Do you understand the word ‘levity’?”

 _Witness._—“Yes; lightness, irregularity. There had been a long
 cessation of intercourse between us before his death. The photograph
 (_shown him_) is a good likeness; he was between 28 and 30 years of
 age. I think I got accidentally acquainted with him in a house in

At the close of the case for the prosecution the Lord Advocate proposed
to put in certain entries in a pocket book of L’Angelier’s to support
the first and second counts of the indictment, which, after argument,
was refused by the Court. (See Appendix C., p. 359.)


In accordance with practice of the Scotch Courts the counsel for the
prisoner had the last word; and good use did the Dean of Faculty
make of his privilege. The Lord Advocate’s policy had been to depict
the character of the prisoner in the vilest colours—as the seducer,
rather than the seduced, or, at any rate, for a long period the willing
accomplice in all his acts. The Dean dealt not less hardly with the
character of L’Angelier.

 “We find him,” he said, “according to the confession of all those who
 observed him narrowly, vain, conceited, pretentious, with a great
 opinion of his own personal attractions, and a very silly expectation
 of admiration from the other sex. That he was successful to a certain
 extent in conciliating such admiration may be the fact; but, at
 all events, his own prevailing ideas seem to have been that he was
 calculated to be very successful in paying attention to ladies, and
 that he was likely to push his fortune by such means. Accordingly,
 once and again we find him engaged in attempts to get married to women
 of some station at least in society. We heard of one disappointment
 which he met with in England, and another we heard a great deal of
 connected with a lady in Fife; and the manner in which he bore his
 disappointments on those two occasions is perhaps the best indication
 and light we have to the true character of the man. He was not a
 person of strong health, and it is extremely probable that this, among
 other things, had a depressing effect on his spirits, rendering him
 changeable and uncertain—now uplifted, as one of the witnesses said,
 and now most deeply depressed—of a mercurial temperament, as another
 described it, very variable and never to be depended upon. Such was
 the individual with whom the prisoner unfortunately became acquainted.
 The progress of their acquaintance is soon told. My learned friend
 the Lord Advocate said the correspondence must have been improper,
 because it was clandestine: yet the letters of the young lady at
 that first period breathe nothing but gentleness and propriety. The
 correspondence in the commencement shows that if L’Angelier had in his
 mind originally to corrupt and seduce the prisoner, he entered upon
 the attempt with considerable ingenuity and skill; for the very first
 letter of the series which we have contains a passage in which she
 says, ‘I am trying to break myself of all my bad habits: it is you I
 have to thank for this, which I do sincerely from my heart.’ He had
 been suggesting to her improvement in conduct or something else. He
 had thus been insinuating himself into her company. She had yielded,
 no doubt, too easily to the pleasures of this new acquaintance, but
 pleasures apparently of a most innocent kind at this period. Yet it
 seems to have occurred to her mind at a very early period that it was
 impossible to maintain this correspondence with propriety or her own
 welfare; for so early as April 1855 she wrote him—‘I think you will
 agree with me in what I intend proposing, that for the present this
 correspondence had better stop. I know your good feeling will not take
 this wrong. It was meant quite the reverse. By continuing it, harm
 may arise, by discontinuing, nothing can be said.’ And from then to
 September it did cease.”

Unfortunately the correspondence was renewed, discovered, and
stopped by her father until April, 1856, when it is re-opened by a
letter, of the 30th of that month, from Helensburgh, in which she
writes:—“P(papa) has not been in town a night for some time; but the
first night he is off I shall see you. We shall spend an hour of bliss.
There shall be no risk: only C. H. (Haggart) shall know.” This letter
was followed by that of the 3rd of May, inviting him on Tuesday, the
6th, to come to the garden gate, and adding, “Beloved of my soul, a
fond embrace, a dear kiss till we meet! We shall have more than one,
love, dearest.” Signed, “From thy ever devoted and loving wife, thine
for ever, MINI.”

 “Alas,” said the Dean, “the next scene is the most painful of all.
 In the spring of 1856, the corrupting influence of the seducer was
 successful, and the prisoner fell. This is recorded in a letter
 bearing the post-mark of the 7th of May, which you have heard read.
 And how corrupting that influence must have been, how vile the acts
 that he resorted to for accomplishing his nefarious purpose, can never
 be proved so well as by looking at the altered tone and language of
 the unhappy prisoner’s letters. She had lost not her virtue merely,
 but, as the Lord Advocate said, her sense of decency. Think you
 that without temptation, without evil teachings, a poor girl falls
 into such depths of degradation? No. Influence from without—most
 corrupting influence—can alone account for such a fact. And yet
 through the midst of this frightful correspondence, there breathes
 a spirit of devoted affection towards the man that had destroyed
 her—that strikes me as most remarkable.”

Then, after alluding to the precautions with which she sought to
surround her interviews with L’Angelier at the Blythswood Square
house; to the evident proofs that an elopement was projected, and to
the strong probability that no interview took place without Haggart’s
connivance, and that, therefore, the interviews at this time must be
limited to the two spoken of by that witness, he urged that up to the
month of February, 1857, he was entitled to say, “without a shadow of
evidence to the contrary, that they were not in the habit of coming
into personal contact.”

 “We now,” continued the Dean, “come to a very important stage of
 the case. On the 28th of February Mr. Minnoch proposes, and if I
 understand the theory of my learned friend’s case aright, from that
 day the whole character of the girl’s mind and her feelings changed,
 and she set herself to prepare for the perpetration of what he has
 called one of the most foul, cool, deliberate murders that ever
 was committed. I will not say that such a thing is impossible, but
 I will venture to say it is very highly improbable. He will be a
 bold man to fathom the depths of human depravity, but this at least
 experience teaches us, that perfection even in depravity, is not
 rapidly attained, and it is not by such short and easy stages as the
 prosecutor has been able to trace in the career of Madeline Smith,
 that a gentle loving girl passes all at once into the savage grandeur
 of a Medea, or the appalling wickedness of a Borgia. Such a thing is
 not possible. There is a certain progress in guilt, and it is quite
 out of all human experience that, from the tone of the letters,
 there should be a sudden transition—I will not say from affection
 for a particular object—but to the strange desire for removing,
 by any means, the obstruction to her wishes and purposes that the
 prosecutor imputes to the prisoner. Think, in your own minds, how
 foul and unnatural a murder it is—the murder of one who, within a
 very short space, was the object of her love—an unworthy object—an
 unholy object; but yet while it lasted—and its endurance was not
 very brief—it was a deep, unselfish, absorbing, devoted passion.
 And the object of that passion she now conceived the purpose of
 murdering. Such is the theory that you are desired to believe. Now
 before you will believe it, will you not ask for demonstration? Will
 you be content with conjecture? Will you be content with suspicion,
 however pregnant, or will you be so unreasonable as to put it to me
 in this form, that the man having died of poison, the theory of the
 prosecution is the most probable? Oh, gentlemen, is that the manner in
 which a jury should treat such a case? Is that the kind of proof on
 which they should convict on a capital offence?”

The Dean, then, took up _seriatim_ the three charges, examining the
evidence on each in detail, making on each the criticisms, already
reported in the previous summary of the evidence, showing how the first
charge had failed even in the opinion of the prosecutor: how doubtful,
to say the least, it was that the interview on which the second charge
was based had taken place, and the weakness of many of the proofs on
which the charge of murder was rested. Passing, then, to the suggestion
of suicide, he continued—

 “I might stop here, for nothing could be more fallacious than the
 suggestion of the Lord Advocate, that it was necessary to explain
 how this man came by his death. His lordship will tell you that a
 defendant has no further duty than to repel the charge and stand on
 the defensive, and maintain that the case for the prosecution is not
 proved. No man probably can tell at the present moment—I believe no
 man on earth can tell—how L’Angelier met his death. Nor am I under
 the slightest obligation even to suggest to you a possible manner in
 which that death may have been compassed without the intervention of
 the prisoner. Yet it is but fair, when we are dealing with so many
 matters of conjecture and suspicion, that we should, for a moment,
 consider whether that supposition on which the charge is founded is
 preferable in itself, in respect to its higher probabilities, to other
 suppositions which may be fairly made. The character of this man,
 his origin, his early history, the nature of his conversation, the
 numerous occasions on which he spoke of suicide, naturally suggest
 that as one mode by which he may have departed this life. Understand
 me, I am not undertaking to prove that he died by his own hand—but
 I think there is more to be said for suicide than for the prisoner’s
 guilt. But I entreat you to remember that that is no necessary part of
 my defence. But of course I should be using you very ill—should be
 doing less than my duty to the prisoner—if I had not brought before
 you the whole of that evidence which suggests the extreme probability
 of that man dying by his own hand at one time or other. From the very
 first time at which we see him, even as a lad, in the year 1843,
 he talks in a manner to impress people with the notion that he had
 no moral principle to guide him. He speaks over and over again of
 suicide at Edinburgh, Dundee, and elsewhere—ay, the prisoners letters
 shew that he had made the same threat to her[120]—that he would put
 himself out of existence. And is it half as violent a supposition
 as the supposition of this foul murder, that upon this evening—the
 22nd of March—a fit of that kind of madness which he himself
 described, came over him, when he met with disappointment—finding,
 it may be, that he could not procure access to an interview which he
 desired—assuming that he came to Glasgow for that purpose—assuming
 even that he mistook the evening of the meeting, and expected to see
 her on the Sunday—can anything be more probable than that, in the
 excited state in which he then was, he should have committed the rash
 act which put an end to his existence.”[121]

Again, in answer to the motive imputed by the prosecution; re-reading
the letter of the 10th of February, in which on her bended knees Miss
Smith besought him, “as he hoped for mercy at the judgment, not to
inform on her—not to expose her;” asked him “to pardon her if he
could; to pray for her as the most wretched, guilty, miserable creature
on the earth;” told him “she could stand anything but her father’s hot
temper;” when she wrote, “Emile, you will not cause my death. If he is
to get your letters, I cannot see him any more; and my poor mother, I
will never kiss her. It would be a shame to them all. Emile, will you
not spare me? Hate me, despise me, but do not expose me.” The Dean

 “Is that the language of deceit? Is that the mind of a murderess, or
 can any one affect that frame of mind? Can you for one moment listen
 to the suggestion that that letter covers a piece of deceit? No, no.
 The finest actress could not have written that to him, unless she
 had felt it; and is that the condition in which a woman goes about
 to compass the death of him whom she has loved? Is that the frame
 of mind?—shame for past sins, burning shame, dread of exposure,
 grief at the injury she had done her parents? Is that the frame of
 mind that would lead a woman—not to advance another step on the
 road to destruction, but to plunge at once into the depths of human
 wickedness? The thing is preposterous, and yet it is because of her
 despair, as my learned friend called it, exhibited in that and similar
 letters, that he says she had a motive to destroy this man. What does
 that mean? It may mean, in a certain improper sense of the term,
 that it would have been of advantage to her that he should cease to
 live. That is not a motive in any proper sense of the term. If some
 advantage resulting from the death of another be a motive to the
 commission of murder, a man’s eldest son must always have a motive
 to murder him that he may succeed to his estate; and I suppose the
 youngest officer in any regiment of Her Majesty’s army has a motive to
 murder all the officers in his regiment—the younger he is, and the
 further he has to ascend the scale, the more murders he has a motive
 to commit. Away with such nonsense! A motive to commit a crime must be
 something a great deal more than the mere fact that the result of that
 crime might be advantageous to the person committing it. You must see
 the motive in action—you must see it influencing the conduct—before
 you can deal with it as a motive; for this, and this only, is it a
 motive in the proper sense of the term—that is to say, it is moving
 to the perpetration of the deed. But let me ask you what possible
 motive there could be, even in the most improper and illegitimate
 sense of the term—I mean what possible advantage could she expect
 from L’Angelier’s death so long as the letters remained? Without the
 return of her letters she gained nothing. Her object, her greatest
 desire, that for which she was yearning with her whole soul, was to
 prevent the exposure of her shame. But the death of L’Angelier, with
 those letters in his possession, instead of insuring that object,
 would have been perfectly certain to lead to the immediate exposure of
 everything that passed between them. Shall I be told that she did not
 foresee that? I think my learned friend had been giving the prisoner
 credit for too much talent in the course of his observations on her
 conduct. But I should conceive her to be infinitely stupid if she
 could not foresee that the death of L’Angelier, with those documents
 in his possession, was the true and best means of frustrating the
 then great object of her life. Shall I be told that the motive
 might be revenge? Listen to the letter, Tell me if it is possible
 that in the same breast with these sentiments, there should link
 one feeling of revenge! No; the condition of mind in which the poor
 girl was throughout the months of February and March, is entirely
 inconsistent with any of the hypotheses that have been made on the
 other side—utterly incredible and wholly irreconcileable with the
 perpetration of such a crime as is here laid to her charge.”[122]

Passing on, then, to the incident of her sudden flight from her home,
when she heard of L’Angelier’s death, the Dean repudiated the notion
that she was absconding from justice. She had left Glasgow early in the
morning, and at half-past three in the afternoon was found on board
a steamer going from Greenock to Helensburgh. Any one going by rail
could easily have overtaken her.

 “If her flight means anything,” he said, “it means flying from
 what she could not bear—the wrath of her father, and the averted
 countenance of her mother. But she came back again without the
 slightest hesitation, and upon the Monday morning there occurred
 a scene as remarkable in the history of criminal jurisprudence as
 anything I ever heard of, by which that broken spirit was altogether
 changed. The moment she was met by a charge of being implicated in
 causing the death of L’Angelier, she at once assumed the courage of a
 heroine. She was bowed down, and she had fled, while the true charge
 of her unchastity and shame was all that was brought against her;
 but she stood erect and proudly conscious of her innocence when she
 was met with this astounding charge of murder. You heard the account
 that M. de Meau gave of that interview with her in her father’s
 house on the Monday. That was a most striking statement, and given
 with a truthfulness obviously that could not be surpassed. What was
 the import of that conversation? He advised her, as a friend, if
 L’Angelier was with her on that Sunday night, for God’s sake not to
 deny it. And why? Because, he said, it is certain to be proved. A
 servant, a policeman, a casual passenger, is certain to know the fact,
 and if you falsely deny it, what a fact that will be against you. What
 was the answer? In answer to five or six suggestions of M. de Meau,
 she said at length that she would swear that she had not seen him for
 three weeks. If she did not see him on the Sunday that was true.”

On the purchases of arsenic, the Dean called the attention of the
jury to the improbability of her having purchased it at the time when
she was urging L’Angelier not to go to the Bridge of Allan whilst she
was there with her family, and to her throwing it away on the 17th of
March, and then buying more on the 18th;—“throwing it away, it was
said, when just coming within reach of her victim, and then buying
more, with circumstances of openness and publicity inconsistent with
the hypothesis of any legitimate object? Why expose herself to the
necessity of a repeated purchase, when she had got enough to poison
twenty or a hundred men.”

 “But,” continued the Dean, “the possession of this arsenic is said
 to be unaccounted for, as far as the prisoner is concerned. It might
 be so; it may be so; and yet that would not make out the case for
 the prosecution. She says she used it as a cosmetic. This might be
 startling at first sight to many of us here, but after the evidence
 you have heard it will not amaze you. At school her story, which has
 so far been borne out by evidence, shows that she read of the Styrian
 peasants using it for strengthening their wind, improving their
 complexions. No doubt they used it internally, and not externally as
 she did, but in the imperfect state of her knowledge that was a fact
 of no significance. L’Angelier, too, was well aware of the same fact.
 He stated to more than one witness—and if he stated falsely, it is
 only one of a multitude of lies proved against him—that he used
 it himself. It is not surprising if L’Angelier knew of this custom
 that he should have communicated it to the prisoner, and that she
 should have used it externally, for an internal use is apparently a
 greater danger, which may have suggested to her to try it externally,
 and there is no reason to suppose, that if used as she used it, it
 would produce any injurious effects. No doubt we have medical men
 coming here and shaking their heads and looking wise, and saying
 that such a use of arsenic would be a dangerous procedure. That is
 not the question. The question is whether the prisoner could use it
 without injurious effects, and that she could do so is proved by
 the experiments of Dr. Laurie and Dr. Maclagan. The publication in
 _Chambers’s_, _Blackwood’s Magazine_, and _Johnston’s_ “_Chemistry of
 Common Life_,” of information on the uses of arsenic, had reached not
 the prisoner alone, but a multitude of other ladies, and had incited
 them to the same kind of experiments. The two druggists—_Robertson_
 and _Guthrie_—spoke to the fact of ladies having come to their
 shops seeking arsenic for such purposes on the suggestion of these
 publications. It cannot, therefore, be surprising to you to learn that
 when the prisoner bought this arsenic, she intended to use it, and did
 actually, afterwards, use it for this purpose.”[123]

Then, citing the behaviour of Eliza Fenning, in the well-known
disputed, and even now disputed case, as a parallel instance of
such behaviour as the prisoner showed when taxed with the charge of
murder:[124] repudiating the doctrine that juries have nothing to
do with the consequences of their verdict, and that all questions
of evidence must be weighed in the same scale, whether the crime be
capital, or a mere case of pocket picking, and appealing to the jury
not to raise their rash and imprudent hands to tear away the veil
Providence has been pleased to place over this mystery, the Dean closed
his most effective speech.


The most material comments of the Lord Justice Clerk have been already
so fully quoted as notes to the several portions of the evidence, or
to the points made by the counsel for the defence, that it will now
suffice to give his concluding summary of the case.

 “The first charge is that she administered arsenic on the 19th or 20th
 of February. Probably you may come to the conclusion, on the evidence
 of Miss Perry and others, that he did see her on that occasion; but
 she was not proved to have had arsenic or any other poison in her
 possession; and what I attach very great importance to is, that there
 is no medical testimony, by analysis of the matter vomited, that that
 illness did proceed from the administration of arsenic. If the doctor
 had examined the vomit and proved that there was arsenic there, I am
 afraid the case would have been very strong against her as having
 given him coffee or something before his illness on that occasion.
 But it is not proved that that illness arose from the administration
 of poison. Arsenic she had not, and there is no proof of her having
 possessed anything deleterious. Therefore I have no hesitation in
 telling you that charge has failed.

 “The second charge stands in a somewhat different position in regard
 to the evidence, although in one respect it is similar to the first,
 for it is not proved that the illness arose from the administration
 of arsenic or any other poisonous substance. But then the way in
 which you can connect the prisoner with a meeting on that occasion is
 much stronger. Still if you should think you can acquit her of the
 first charge, and that there is too much doubt to prove the second
 proven, then you will observe how much this weakens the case that has
 been raised by the prosecution on the motives for revenge, on the
 change in the tone of the letters, and the desire to allure him again
 to her embraces and fascinations, which could not be accounted for
 except on the supposition of some such murderous design. In that view
 undoubtedly the foundation of the case is very much shaken, and will
 not lead you to suppose that the purpose of murder was cherished on
 the 22nd.

 “Then as to the charge for murder, the question for you to consider
 is a simple one. No matter how the prisoner is surrounded with grave
 suspicions, and with many circumstances that seem to militate against
 the notion of innocence upon any theory that has been propounded,
 still are you prepared to say that the interview of the 22nd March
 has been proved against her? She had arsenic before the illness of
 22nd February, and I think you will consider the excuse of using
 arsenic as a cosmetic of the same stamp as those which she stated to
 the druggists. She bought arsenic again on the 6th of March, and it
 certainly is a very odd thing that she should buy more arsenic when
 she came back on the 18th. Because unless you are to take the account
 to be sure, that she used it as a cosmetic, she has it before the
 22nd, and that is a dreadful fact if you are quite satisfied that she
 did not get it and use it for the purpose of washing her hands and
 face. It may create the greatest reluctance in your mind to take any
 other view of the matter than that she was guilty of administering it
 somehow, though the place where may not be made out, or the precise
 time of the interview. But on the other hand you must keep in view,
 that arsenic could only be administered by her if an interview took
 place with L’Angelier, and that interview, though it may be the result
 of an inference that may satisfy you morally that it did take place,
 still rests upon an inference alone, and that inference is to be the
 ground, and must be the ground, on which a verdict of guilty is to
 rest. You will see, therefore, the necessity of great caution and
 jealousy in dealing with any inference which you may draw from this.
 Probably none of you may think for a moment that he did go out that
 night, and that without seeing her, and without knowing what she
 wanted to see him about, if they met, he may have swallowed 200 grains
 of arsenic on the street, and may have carried it about. On the other
 hand, if he did not commit suicide, keep in view that that will not
 of itself establish that the prisoner administered the arsenic. The
 matter may have remained most mysterious—wholly unexplained. You may
 not be able to account for it on any other supposition, but still that
 supposition or inference may not be a ground on which you can safely
 and satisfactorily rest your verdict against the prisoner.

 “Now then I leave you to consider the case with reference to the
 views that are raised by this correspondence. I do not think you will
 consider it so unlikely as was supposed that this girl, after writing
 such letters, may have been capable of cherishing such a purpose.
 But still, though you may take such a view of her character, it is
 but a supposition that she cherished this murderous purpose—the
 last conclusion that you ought to come to merely on supposition
 and inference and observation on this wavering correspondence of a
 girl in the circumstances in which she was placed. It receives more
 importance, no doubt, when you find the purchase of arsenic just
 before she expected, or just at the time that she expected L’Angelier.
 But still these are but suppositions. Now the great and invaluable
 use of a jury after they direct their attention seriously to the case
 with the attention you have done, is to separate firmly—firmly and
 clearly in your own minds—suspicions from evidence. I don’t say that
 inferences may not be completely drawn, but I have already warned
 you about inferences in the ordinary matters of civil life, and in
 such a case as this.[125] If you cannot say, ‘We satisfactorily find
 here evidence of the meeting, and that the poison must have been
 administered by her at that meeting,’ whatever may be your suspicion,
 however perplexing may be the probability against her, and however
 you may have to struggle to get rid of it, you perform your best
 and bounden duty as a jury to separate suspicion from truth, and to
 proceed upon nothing that you do not feel established in evidence
 against her.”

After retiring for half an hour, the jury by a majority in each charge
found the prisoner _Not Guilty_ on the first, and a verdict of _Not
Proven_ on the second and third charges, in which findings the Lord
Justice Clerk expressed his entire concurrence.

       *       *       *       *       *

APPENDIX A., _p._ 307.



 “At the request of Messrs. W. B. Huggins & Co., of this city, we, the
 undersigned, made a _post-mortem_ examination of the body of the late
 M. L’Angelier, when the appearances were as follows:—The body, viewed
 externally, presented nothing remarkable, except a tawny hue on the
 surface. The incision made on opening the belly and chest revealed a
 considerable deposit of subcutaneous fat. The heart appeared large
 for the individual, but not so large as, in our opinion, to amount to
 disease. Its surface presented, externally, some opaque patches, such
 as are frequently seen on the organ without giving rise to symptoms.
 Its right cavities were filled with dark fluid blood. The lungs, the
 liver, and the spleen appeared quite healthy. The gall-bladder was
 moderately full of bile, and contained no calculi. The stomach and the
 intestines, externally, presented nothing abnormal. Being tied at both
 ends, it was removed from the body. Its contents, consisting of about
 half a pint of dark fluid resembling coffee, were poured into a clean
 bottle, and the organ itself was laid open along its great curvature.
 The mucous membrane, except for a slight extent of the lesser
 curvature, was then seen to be deeply injected with blood, presenting
 an appearance of dark red mottling, and its substance was remarked to
 be salt (soft?), and easily torn by scratching with the finger-nail.
 The other organs of the abdomen were not examined. The appearance
 of the mucous membrane, taken in connection with the history as
 related to us by witnesses, being such as, in our opinion, justified
 a suspicion of death having resulted from poison, we considered it
 proper to preserve the stomach and its contents in a sealed bottle for
 further investigation by chemical analysis, should such be determined
 on. We, however, do not imply that, in our opinion, death may not
 have resulted from natural causes, as, for example, severe internal
 congestion, the effect of exposure to cold after much bodily fatigue,
 which we understand the deceased to have undergone. Having no legal
 authority for making this _post-mortem_ examination, we restrict it to
 the organs where we thought likely to find something to account for
 the death.

 “_28th March, 1857_, on soul and conscience,



_April 3, 1857._

 “By virtue of a warrant from the sheriff of Lanarkshire, we, the
 undersigned, proceeded to the _post-mortem_ examination of the body
 of M. L’Angelier within the vault of the Ramshorn church on the 31st
 of March ultimo, in the presence of two friends of the deceased. The
 body being removed from the coffin, two of our number, Drs. Thomson
 and Steven, who examined the body on the 24th ultimo, remarked that
 the features had lost their former pinched appearance, and that
 the general surface of the skin, instead of the tawny or dingy hue
 observed by them on that occasion, had become rather florid. We two
 likewise remarked that, with the exception of the upper surface of
 the liver, which had assumed a purplish colour, all the internal
 parts were little changed in appearance; and we all agreed that the
 evidences of putrefaction were much less marked than they usually are
 at such a date—the ninth day after death, and the fifth after burial.
 The duodenum, along with the upper part of the small intestine, after
 both ends of the gut had been secured by ligatures, was removed and
 placed in a clean jar. A portion of the large intestine, consisting
 of part of the descending colon and the sigmoid flexure, along with
 a portion of the rectum, after using the like precaution of placing
 ligatures at both ends of the bowel, was removed and placed in the
 same jar with the duodenum, and a portion of the small intestine. A
 portion of the liver, about a one-sixth part of that organ, was cut
 off and placed in a clean jar. We then proceeded to open the head
 in the usual manner, and observed nothing calling for remark beyond
 a greater degree of vascularity of the membranes of the brain than
 ordinary. A portion of the brain was removed and placed in a fourth
 clean jar. We then adjourned to Dr. Penny’s rooms, taking with us
 the vessels containing the parts of the viscera above mentioned. The
 duodenum and portion of small intestine were found together to measure
 thirty-six inches in length. Their contents poured into a clean glass
 measure were found to amount to four fluid ounces, and consisted of
 a turbid, sanguinolent fluid, having suspended in it much flocculent
 matter, which settled towards the bottom, whilst a few mucus-like
 masses floated on the surface. The mucous membrane of this part of
 the bowels was then examined. The colour was decidedly redder than
 natural, and this redness was more marked over several patches,
 portions of which, when carefully examined, were found to be eroded.
 Several small whitish and somewhat gritty particles were removed
 from its surface, and being placed on a clean piece of glass, were
 delivered to Dr. Penny. A few small ulcers, about the one-sixteenth of
 an inch in diameter, and having elevated edges, were observed on it,
 at the upper part of the duodenum. On account of the failing light,
 it was determined to adjourn till a quarter past eleven next day—all
 the jars, &c., being left in the custody of Dr. Penny. Having again
 met at the appointed time, we proceeded to complete our examination.
 The portion of the largest intestine, along with the portion of the
 rectum, measuring twenty-six inches in length, being laid open, was
 found empty. Its mucous membrane, coated with an abundant, pale,
 slimy mucus, presented nothing abnormal, except on the part lining
 the rectum, on which were observed two vascular patches, about the
 size of a shilling. On decanting the contents of the glass measure,
 we observed a number of crystals adhering to its interior, and at the
 bottom a notable quantity of whitish sedimentary matter. Having now
 completed our examination of the various parts, we finally handed them
 all to Dr. Penny.

 “The above we attest on soul and conscience,

  “J. STEVEN.”

APPENDIX B., _p._ 319.


Journal_, DECEMBER, 1857.

 “The purpose of the present brief communication is to state a case
 which annihilates the defence of the prisoner, so far as the large
 quantity of arsenic found in the stomach of the deceased may have been
 thought to support it.

 “Dr. Mackinlay, of Paisley, very lately reminded me of a case of
 poisoning with arsenic, in which we were both concerned in 1842.
 A person came under a charge of poisoning with arsenic, and was
 indicted. But, on account of some informality, this indictment fell to
 the ground, and the trial was necessarily delayed. Meanwhile, during
 the delay, the general evidence was thought defective, and the trial
 was dropped. There could be no doubt, however, that murder had been
 committed. The arsenic was administered in whisky-punch with sugar,
 the arsenic being kept in suspension by constant stirring. The person
 survived at least five, possibly seven, hours, and frequently vomited
 a yellowish or greenish liquid. Nevertheless, I found a little spirit
 in the contents of the stomach; and I collected thirty grains of
 arsenic in substance from the stomach and its contents.

 “Drs. Mackinlay and Wylie, of Paisley, who examined the dead body, and
 also discovered arsenic in the stomach, had scraped off a quantity of
 the powder of this substance from the inside upon a watch-glass. I was
 not made aware at the time how much had been thus obtained; but Dr.
 Mackinlay now informs me that the quantity was sixty grains. Here,
 then, is a case exactly like that of L’Angelier. Ninety grains of
 arsenic, and this in substance, were found within the stomach alone.
 If to this be added, as in Dr. Penny’s analysis in L’Angelier’s case,
 the probable arsenic dissolved and suspended in the contents of the
 stomach, and that imbibed by the textures of the stomach itself, it is
 impossible to estimate the total quantity in the stomach at less than
 100 grains. But there was also arsenic in the intestines; and, indeed,
 it had actually caused purging.

 “How large a quantity, then, must have been given in that instance!
 How strangely easy is it for a determined designing murderer to
 administer secretly those large quantities of a substance, whose
 weight should render it difficult to be mixed, and whose roughness
 should betray its presence when abundant! How difficult for the
 stomach to discharge it by vomiting. I draw no conclusion as to the
 question of Madeline Smith’s innocence or guilt. In common with the
 public at large, I am well satisfied that she escaped condemnation.
 But, as I have been supplied, through the kindness of Dr. Mackinlay,
 with the means of completing a fact, closely touching a ground of
 defence, which, at the time it was brought forward, I regarded as
 hypothetical and baseless, and which may be made much of again, were
 it allowed to stand, as it has hitherto done, I have thought it my
 duty to make the true state of the question known.”

       *       *       *       *       *

APPENDIX C., _p._ 342.


 At the close of the fifth day, after putting in the bulk of the
 letters, the Lord Advocate proposed to read entries in L’Angelier’s
 pocket-book from the 16th of February to the 14th of March, 1857, in
 support of the first and second charges. They were undoubtedly in his
 own handwriting, and statements of what he did on those days. It was
 objected that the book was not regularly kept, that the corroborative
 evidence was not sufficient, and that two of the entries were
 contradicted by witnesses who had been examined. The Court took time
 to consider, and on the next morning delivered the following judgments.

 _The Lord Justice Clerk._—“The admission of hearsay evidence was an
 established rule in the law of Scotland, but under those restrictions
 and conditions, which went in many circumstances to its entire
 rejection. What was now proposed to be admitted was this—certain
 memoranda or jottings made by the deceased, in which certain things
 were said to be contained, which went directly to the vital part of
 this charge. The Dean of Faculty felt so strongly that he did not
 scruple to state what the purport of one of these was, in order to
 show the immense materiality of the point. It was certainly most
 important for the Court to take care that the rules of evidence were
 not relaxed merely because it appeared that the matter tendered was
 of the highest importance to the case. Before evidence could be
 received and allowed to go to a jury, it must be shown that such
 evidence was legally competent to be tendered against the prisoner.
 That was the rule also in civil cases. It was of vital importance in
 considering whether this evidence was admissible, to ascertain in
 what circumstances, and, if possible, from what motive, and at what
 periods these entries were made. Now it was a most remarkable fact
 that there was no entry regarding the prisoner, or the circumstances
 connected with her, before the 14th of February; and at that very time
 the purpose on her part of breaking off the engagement with him and
 of demanding her letters back had been communicated to the deceased;
 and his purpose and resolution not to give up the letters and to keep
 her to her engagement were avowed and made known, as it appeared
 from evidence prior to that date. Then he had a purpose in writing
 these memoranda—a purpose obviously to strengthen his hold over the
 prisoner, not only by refusing to give up the letters at that time
 and afterwards, but probably with the view to hold out that he had a
 diary as to their interviews and communications, so as to endeavour to
 effect his object of preventing the marriage, and of terrifying her
 into giving up her engagement with Mr. Minnoch. He (the Lord Justice
 Clerk) made this observation not merely with regard to the weight and
 credibility of these entries, but with regard to their admissibility;
 because in the case of hearsay evidence one could ascertain from the
 witnesses the time the statement was made, all the circumstances and
 all the apparent motives which could be collected as to the statement
 being made by the deceased. But when we could not know with certainty
 the motive with which the man made the entry, or, perhaps, as in this
 case, could perceive reasons why he made the entry as against her,
 intending to prejudice her in one way, not of course with reference to
 such a trial as this, but with reference to her engagement, he thought
 it could not be said that this came before the Court as a statement
 recorded by him as to indifferent matters, or as to matters in which
 he might have not had a strong purpose in making the statement.
 Further, it might be a record of a past act. He felt the force of what
 the Lord Advocate had said, that supposing in this book there had been
 an entry that this man purchased arsenic, would not that have been
 available in favour of the prisoner. An illustration of this point had
 been suggested to him by a person whose authority and experience were
 of the very highest. Take an action of divorce against the wife where
 the paramour was dead; would an entry in any diary of his that he had
 enjoyed the embraces of this woman on such a night in the absence
 of her husband be proof against the wife? He thought not. What was
 proposed in this case was to tender in evidence a thing altogether
 unprecedented, according to the research of the Bar and the Bench, of
 which no trace or indication occurred in any book whatever, viz., that
 a memorandum made by the deceased should be proof of the fact against
 the panel in a charge of murder. He was unable to admit such evidence;
 it might relax the sacred rules of evidence to an extent that the mind
 could hardly contemplate. One could not tell how many documents might
 exist and be found in the repositories of deceased persons; a man
 might have threatened another, he might have hatred against him, and
 be determined to revenge himself, and what entries might he not make
 in a diary for this purpose? He had a faint recollection of a case
 in 1808—the trial of a man Patch for murdering Page, or of Page for
 murdering Patch—in which some letter of the murdered man, prior to
 his death, was used; but he had been unable to find the case, and he
 had no notion if it was of the character he had alluded to. However,
 in the meantime, as the point was perfectly new, and as it would be
 a departure from what he considered to be an important principle in
 the administration of justice, he thought this evidence could not be

 _Lord Handyside._—“The special point is, whether the entries of
 certain dates—two in number—are to be read and made evidence for
 the prosecution, as regards the first and second charges in the
 indictment. The whole of these entries have been written with a lead
 pencil. I notice this to make the observation that ink and penmanship
 afford to a certain degree a means of ascertaining whether entries
 are made _de die in diem_, thus having the character of entries
 made daily; or, on the contrary, of several entries having the
 appearance, by change of ink or of pen, of being made at one time,
 and so after recollection. Where all the entries are in pencil, there
 can be no security as to the time when the entries are, in point
 of fact, inserted, and that they are not _ex post facto_; or that
 the original entries have been expunged, and others substituted in
 their place—whether this be a correction of memory, or with purpose
 and design of another character. The party making such entries in
 pencil has entire power over what he has done or chooses to do.”
 Then alluding to the fact that no authority for such evidence could
 be found, which entitled the objector to the evidence to throw on
 the tenderer the burden of showing that it ought to be received,
 the learned judge continued—“I think the question one of great
 difficulty—at least I have found it so. Had the writer of the
 memorandum been living, they could not have been made evidence—of
 themselves they were nothing. They might have been used in the
 witness-box to refresh the memory, but the evidence would still be
 parole. What would be regarded would be the oath of the witness to the
 facts, time and person; and if distinct and explicit, though resting
 on memory alone, the law of evidence would be satisfied, irrespective
 of any aid by memorandums and letters, though made at the same time.
 It is the oath of the witness to the verity of his oral statement in
 the box which the law requires and regards. But if the writer has
 died, is this circumstance to make such memorandums thenceforward
 admissible as evidence by their own weight? Are they, the handwriting
 being proved, to be treated as written evidence? That would be a bold
 proposition. Death cannot change the character originally impressed
 on the memorandums, and convert them from inadmissible to admissible
 writings. They are private memorandums, seen by no eye but the writers
 as such, subject to no check upon the accuracy of their statements,
 whether arising from innocent mistakes or from prejudice or passing
 feeling. I do not say that they are to be supposed false and
 dishonest, for the idea is repugnant, from the consideration that it
 would be idle to falsify and invent when memorandums are intended to
 be kept secret by the writer. But it is quite conceivable that vanity
 might lead to statements being made wholly imaginary, with a view of
 the subsequent exhibition of the book, and were its admissibility
 as evidence set up by death, it might become a fearful instrument
 of calumny and accusation. I speak just now of private memorandums,
 diaries, and journals, taken in the abstract. As to other writings of
 a deceased person, such as letters, I do not say these may not become
 admissible as evidence by reason of death, though during life they
 could not be used. They thus become analogous to words spoken—to
 representations made and conversations held—by a deceased person, the
 proper object of hearsay evidence. It was contended that the principle
 on which hearsay evidence is admitted would extend to anything written
 by a deceased person. It is assumed to be a declaration in writing
 of what if spoken would have been admissible on the testimony of
 the person hearing it. And on the first view it would seem that the
 written mode is superior to the oral, from the greater certainty that
 no mistake is committed as to the words used. But this would be a
 fallacious ground to rest on, for words written would require to be
 taken without explanation or modification; whereas words spoken to
 another are subject to the further inquiry by the party addressed as
 to the meaning of the speaker in order to a better and more thorough
 understanding of the subject of communication, the object of making
 it, and the grounds on which the speaker’s statements rest. And all
 these things may be fought out in the examination of the witness who
 comes into court to give this hearsay evidence. The value of hearsay
 evidence, and the weight to be given to it, come thus to depend much
 on the account which the witness gives of the circumstances under
 which the communication was made to him, as to the seriousness of
 the statement and what followed upon it in the way of inquiry and
 reply. Now a mere writing in the way of a memorandum or entry in a
 book in the sole custody of the writer till his death can be subject
 to no such tests. Its very nature shows that it is not intended for
 communication. It may be an idle, purposeless piece of writing, or
 it may be a record of unfounded suspicions and malicious charges,
 treasured up by hostile and malignant feelings in a moody, spiteful
 mind. These views impress me strongly with the danger of admitting a
 private journal or diary as evidence to support a criminal charge. I
 think the question now before us must be decided as a general point.
 As such I take it up. If I were to confine myself to the special and
 peculiar circumstances of this case, I should see much perhaps to
 vindicate the court in the reception of the evidence tendered. There
 is to be found in the letters which have already been made evidence
 much to give corroboration or verification to some at least of the
 entries in the pocket-book. But I feel compelled to close my mind
 against such considerations, and to look above all to a general and,
 therefore, safe rule by which to be guided. I have come, therefore, to
 be of the opinion that the production tendered as evidence in the case
 in support, as I take it, of the first and second charge, ought to be

 _Lord Ivory_ said the opinions just delivered had relieved his mind
 of a burden of responsibility under which he laboured, and which he
 was ill able to bear. He had given the most anxious, serious, and
 repeated consideration to this matter. He had found little or nothing
 in the way of authority, and no dicta so precisely bearing on the
 case as to be of any avail. But judging in the abstract, applying the
 rules as applied to other cases, endeavouring to find a principle by
 comparison of the different classes and categories in which evidence
 had been distributed and in which it had been received, he felt
 himself totally unable to come to a conclusion that the evidence of
 this document should be excluded from the jury. As his opinion could
 not in the least degree influence the judgment, he should be sorry
 to add anything that would even seem to be intended to detract from
 the authority of the judgment now given; least of all should he be
 disposed to follow such a course in a capital case, where the judgment
 was in favour of the prisoner. He would content himself, therefore,
 with simply expressing his opinion. It appeared to him that this
 document should have been admitted _valeat quantum_, and that the jury
 should have considered its weight, and credibility, and value.


the_ CENTRAL CRIMINAL COURT, _March 8, 1850_.

_For the Prosecution_: Mr. Bodkin _and_ Mr. Clark.

_For the Defence_: Mr. Clarkson, _by the intervention of the Sheriffs
of London and Middlesex_.

_Ann Merritt_ was indicted for the murder of her husband, James, by
poison, at Clapton, on the 25th of January.

Merritt, who was a turncock in the employ of the East London
Waterworks, had been at work in his usual health, with the exception
of a slight cold, on Wednesday, the 23rd of January. When, however, a
fellow-workman called upon him about nine the next morning, he was told
by the prisoner that her husband was sick in the yard, and in a minute
or two afterwards Merritt came in and told his comrade that he had been
drinking some broth and a cup of hot tea upon it, and expected that
it had turned his stomach. They started off to work, and on the way
Merritt complained of being very thirsty, and went into a public-house
and had some rum-and-water before they separated for their respective
jobs. He seems, however, to have soon returned home unwell, as between
ten and eleven a neighbour (Mrs. Gillett), who lived next door, who
had been previously called in by eight o’clock in the morning, saw
the deceased in his house very ill, and the prisoner emptying some
thick gruel into a basin from a saucepan, and pouring water on it. The
gruel had been made from oatmeal fetched from a corn-chandler’s by the
witness’s son, at the prisoner’s request, who had given as a reason
for making it that her husband had returned so very thirsty. This
gruel the deceased was seen eating at a quarter past eleven, and very
soon after vomiting. However, at one o’clock, Merritt went out again
to work with his comrade, but soon after felt so sick and ill that he
asked his friend to do his work for him, and returned home. When his
friend returned to Merritt’s house with his tools, between five and six
in the evening, the prisoner told him to go upstairs and see “Jem,” as
he was very ill, and wanted to see him. This witness went up to the
deceased’s bedroom, followed by the prisoner, and found Merritt in bed
complaining of being very sick, feeling cramp in his limbs; at which
the deceased said, “he did not wonder, as what with the weather and the
work they had to do, it was enough to kill a horse.” No more was seen
of the parties until half-past nine at night, when Mrs. Gillett was
again called in by the prisoner, and found the husband in bed retching
violently, and complaining of a burning pain in his chest and stomach.
Between ten and eleven Mr. Toulmin, the doctor, was called in, and at
half-past twelve the husband died.[126]


_Mr. Toulmin_, a general practitioner at Clapton, was first examined.
He was called in between ten and eleven on the Thursday night, and
found the deceased in bed sick, complaining greatly of pain in his
stomach and cramps in his legs, his pulse very weak, and his skin below
the natural temperature; he prescribed for him, and left. Subsequently
he made a _post-mortem_ examination of the body on the 28th, by the
coroner’s order, with the assistance of Mr. Welch, a neighbouring
surgeon, to which the prisoner at first objected. When the stomach
was opened, it contained a _thickish matter slightly pink_, which was
poured into a stoppered bottle and sent with the stomach to Dr. Letheby
for analysis. On its coats there were red spots, such as are observed
in persons who have died of irritant poison.

_Dr. Henry Letheby_, professor of chemistry at the London Hospital,
to whom the stomach and its contents had been forwarded, gave the
following evidence, which, in consequence of the dispute which
subsequently arose on his statement as to the time at which the fatal
dose was taken, is given in full:—

 “I first experimented,” said the witness, “on the contents of the
 bottle (the fluid found in the stomach), and detected 8½ grains of
 white arsenic. By one course of experiments I reproduced the arsenic
 in a metallic form—it is in this tube (produced). The earthen jar
 contained part of a human stomach. I noticed a peculiar appearance
 in it, which I have noticed in cases of poisoning by arsenic—_there
 was a small portion of whitish powder adhering to the lining of the
 stomach_, too small a quantity to enable me to ascertain what it
 consisted of. I then examined the intestines that were in the jar;
 I subjected them to a chemical analysis, and the result was the
 detection of a very small quantity of arsenic. There was also in the
 jar a part of a human liver. I subjected about a quarter of a pound
 of it to experiment, and obtained a quantity of metallic arsenic
 (produced); _it was too minute a quantity to weigh_. That in the
 stomach was the only quantity I weighed; that would be sufficient
 to cause death. I had the opportunity of witnessing a case where 2½
 grains killed; the general quantity would be 8 grains; I look upon
 that as an average dose. It would generally be fatal. Vomiting is
 almost invariably the consequence of arsenic introduced into the
 stomach. A person attacked by that would be likely to throw up a
 portion of the arsenic. Looking at the quantity I found, and the
 parts in which I found it, _in my judgment the arsenic I found had
 been taken not more than two or three hours before death_, but that
 is a matter of opinion; a dose might have been given before. It would
 depend upon many circumstances how soon it would find its way into the

 _Cross-examined._—_Question._—“About two grains of arsenic you say
 would cause death; do you mean taken together?”

 _Answer._—“Yes, or less; 2½ grains have done so. I know nothing
 of this transaction but from the examination. I found a very small
 portion in the liver, perhaps one tenth of a grain in a quarter of a
 pound. A liver weighs about 5 pounds, and supposing the arsenic to be
 equally diffused, there would be twenty times that quantity—equal to
 2 grains. _My observation with reference to the time it had been taken
 was in reference both to the stomach and the liver._”

 _Question._—“Are the data at all safe?”

 _Answer._—“Yes; I will tell you why. I found in the stomach 8½ grains
 of arsenic, and there was not much in the intestines. _I conclude,
 therefore, that there had not been time for it to have passed into
 the intestines, which would have been the case if it had been taken
 long before death. But there was only a trace in the intestines, so
 I conclude that it was taken a very short time before death._ That
 furnishes datum to me to form a judgment on the subject of hours.
 Food remains five hours before it passes into the intestines. I am
 able to say that the contents of the stomach pass into the intestines
 in four, eight, or ten hours, from experiments I have performed on
 living subjects. _I have not the least doubt._ I saw the intestines;
 they were in the jar. They did not appear to have been influenced by
 arsenic; they were slightly red, and there were traces of arsenic.
 I have reduced something that was in the intestines into a metallic
 state. I experimented on it, and found it was arsenic. It was
 destroyed in the experiment to which I was obliged to submit it to
 prove it was arsenic. It was not likely that I should find it in
 the liver without some being in the intestines. The time would not
 depend on the constitution of the person. Digestion depends upon
 the constitution, but I am speaking of the average. Digestion is
 more or less rapid according to the constitution of the person who
 has received the subject matter. I have heard of cases in which
 matters which would not digest have remained three or four days, but
 those were solid matters. _I think liquids pass into the stomach_
 (_intestines_?) _under all circumstances in five hours as_ (_after_?)
 _they are imbibed._ There is a valve which prevents solid matters from
 passing into the stomach till they are digested. _The arsenic was
 in a liquid state, all except a little white powder on the side of
 the stomach._ I am obliged to have recourse to an average to form an
 opinion as to how long it would take. We have no means of dealing with
 an independent case except by an average.”

 _By Mr. Bodkin, Q.C._—_Question._—“What did the contents of the
 stomach look like?”

 _Answer._—“Thick gruel. They were filtered, and I examined the
 filtered portion, _and my opinion is that the arsenic had been taken
 two or three hours_.”[127]


This was proved by the son of a chemist of the name of Brown, of whom
the prisoner purchased two pennyworths of arsenic on the 19th of
January, which, at her request, he enclosed in two separate papers,
each marked “poison,” as she said that one of them was for her sister
who lived some distance off. The papers had something of the appearance
of those of effervescing powders.


_Mrs. Gillett_ gave some remarkable evidence as to the statements and
conduct of the prisoner during the night of her husband’s fatal illness
and after his death.

 “When the prisoner called me in a little after nine in the evening,
 I found her husband in bed retching violently, and I gave him water
 half-a-dozen times, and then went for Dr. Toulmin. At five o’clock
 that day the prisoner said she was going for the doctor, to tell
 him to send her husband something for the bile, but that he did not
 want her to do so. A second time during the evening she told me she
 wanted to do this, and that he would not let her, and that she had
 applied to a neighbouring doctor, but that he had refused to come,
 and only sent some pills. After her husband died she said, ‘How true
 were Dr. Toulmin’s words,’ that, ‘when her husband once took to his
 bed, he would go off like the snuff of a candle.’” [Dr. Toulmin had
 no recollection of ever having made such a statement.] “Next day the
 secretary of the Benefit Society to which her husband belonged called
 and had some conversation with her. Before that she had spoken to me
 about the Benefit Society, and said if her husband died she should
 have the full benefit of it. On the day of the _post-mortem_ she asked
 me if I had asked Dr. Toulmin what was the cause of death, and I said,
 from what I heard, it was poison; when she said, ‘Do you think I am
 guilty?’ I replied, ‘I do not doubt you.’ Then she walked about in an
 agitated manner and appeared distressed. On the day of the inquest
 she said to me, ‘You know, Mrs. Gillett, that Annie (her little girl)
 ate the rest of the gruel.’ I said ‘Don’t say so; I did not see any
 of you eat it.’ She said, ‘If I did not _Ashby_ did, and he ought to
 be the first witness’ (_Ashby_ said he did not see the deceased or
 anyone eat it). On the day of the adjourned inquest she asked me if
 poison had been found, and when I said ‘Yes’ she said ‘I am innocent;
 he was a good husband, and it is not likely I should do such a thing.
 Dear creature; if that is the case he has done it with his own hands.’
 I replied ‘It is not likely, as he purchased a new pair of boots the
 morning before his death.’ Whilst we were talking _Andrews_, the
 summoning officer, came in, and she said to him ‘Mrs. Gillett knows
 that I ate the rest of the gruel,’ and I replied ‘I know nothing about
 it, or who ate it.’[128] On the 31st of January in her house she said
 to me ‘Do you think if I had any hand in his death I should not have
 let him live to to-day and then have received the full benefit from
 the society.’”[129]

 _On cross-examination_ the witness protested that she had repeated
 these conversations before, and was almost certain she had done so
 before the coroner and the magistrate. When she said ‘I did not doubt
 her,’ she meant that she had not the slightest suspicion of her
 guilt. The witness had introduced the subject of the burial club.
 The prisoner was kind and affectionate to her husband, and attentive
 during his illness, and much distressed. The witness had heard the
 deceased complain of the difficulties into which his wife had plunged
 him, and on the Monday before he was taken ill they had quarrelled.

Other statements of a most unfavourable character were improperly
extracted from her by _Coward_, the inspector of police. As the Lord
Chief Baron said, with well-deserved reproof, he had evidently prepared
a proceeding, and framed certain questions, which would enable him to
observe the demeanour of the prisoner when she was confronted with
a witness ready in attendance, in order to give his own view of her
conduct afterwards to the jury.

 “I,” said this witness, “saw the prisoner on the 2nd of February in
 her house, and told her I had come to ask a few questions, which she
 might answer or not as she pleased, but that it would be my duty to
 repeat her answers to the magistrate; that I should like to have some
 women present to hear, and accordingly sent for two of her neighbours,
 and when they had come I asked her ‘Did she know of any arsenic being
 in the house?’ ‘No.’ ‘Did her husband use it in his business?’ ‘No.’
 ‘Had she purchased any lately?’ ‘No.’ _Brown_ was then brought in, and
 she turned pale and agitated. I told her _Brown_ had told me she had,
 and she said ‘That was true, and she would tell me what for.’ On the
 way to the police court she said ‘she purchased it for herself, but
 thought better of it afterwards.’ I asked her what had become of it
 afterwards, and she said ‘she had emptied it into one paper.’ She then
 changed the conversation, and said that her husband was very fond of
 soda and acid powders, and that a woman had told her that he had said
 he was very troubled in his mind, and did not know whether he should
 not jump into the river or Clapton pond.”

 _On cross-examination_ he excused the presence of the women, on the
 ground that he wanted to see if _Brown_ could identify the prisoner;
 that she wanted to say more but that he stopt her, and told her to
 tell the magistrate.

Of this last statement of the inspector, the Lord Chief Baron added in
his charge—

 “That it appeared to him to be a piece of hypocrisy, which accorded
 with all the rest of his conduct. He wished it to go forth to the
 public, and that the police themselves should understand, that
 such proceedings savoured of an excess of zeal which was perfectly
 unjustifiable, and which ought not to be looked on in any other light
 than discreditable.”

To _Clarke_, a police constable, she said, whilst in custody, that “she
supposed she should be hung—they had told so many lies about it—she
bought the arsenic for her husband.” To the female searcher at the
police-station she said that she did not know on what charge she was
brought there; and then, when told it, added, “I know he was poisoned,
but not by whom.” And when told that _Mrs. Gillett_ was the principal
witness against her, declared that she was forsworn. On the second
examination at the police-court, she told the gaoler that “she wished
the magistrate to know something about the case. All she had said was
true, except as to not buying the poison. She had placed it in the same
cupboard with her husband’s powders after taking off the papers marked
‘poison.’ If he had taken it, it must have been by mistake, and she
threw the remainder of the poison and all his powders into the fire.
She intended to have taken it herself if he went on as he had done.”


 “I have nothing to say except that I never intended my husband to take
 the poison. When I bought it I intended to take it myself, if he had
 come home as he had done several times before. I could not live with
 him had he gone on so. I thought no more of it till the Sunday, when I
 thought he might have taken it instead of the soda, and then I burnt
 it. What I said about hanging was this—‘If I am to be hanged this
 moment I am innocent of anything to my husband.’ I have nothing more
 to say.”

_Mr. Clarkson_, for the defence, after alluding to the difficulties
under which he laboured in consequence of the prisoner not having
made any preparations for her defence, and the brief having only been
handed to him as the case was opened, attacked the evidence of Coward
in language which the Lord Chief Baron entirely adopted, and asked the
jury to dismiss it from their consideration. He also characterised the
declarations of the prisoner as told by witnesses clearly unfavourable
to her. “With regard to the testimony of Dr. Letheby, if they relied
on it, it would be necessary,” he said, “to come to the conclusion
that the prisoner had continued administering poison to the deceased
during the whole of the day—as it was proved that he was ill as early
as eight in the morning. But he asked the jury if her conduct would
justify such a conclusion. Her story might be true, and if the deceased
took the poison through her culpable negligence in putting it in the
cupboard with his soda powders, the offence would not be murder, but

The strong remarks of the Lord Chief Baron on the conduct and evidence
of Coward have already been given, and as the remainder of his charge
consisted only of an analysis of the evidence, and its application
to the different points of the case, it is needless to report it.
As was characteristic of this kind judge, every point that could be
made in favour of the prisoner was brought clearly out in his able
charge. After a brief deliberation, a verdict of guilty, coupled with
a recommendation to mercy on account of her previously good character,
was returned, and sentence of death was pronounced by the learned judge.

A medical man of large experience, who was present during the trial,
was so astonished at the statement of Dr. Letheby as to the time when
the arsenic had been administered, that he communicated with the
sheriffs, who brought the case before Sir George Grey, by whom it was
referred to Sir Benjamin Brodie, Dr. Billing, Dr. Leeson, and other
medical men of repute. These, it was understood, agreed that the time
of administration could not be fixed. On this, at the urgent request
of Dr. Pereira, Dr. Letheby wrote to the Home Secretary that it was
his duty to admit that it was within the range of possibility—nay,
even probable—that the arsenic might have been taken, as the
woman asserted, early in the morning of her husband’s death, and
in consequence the capital sentence was commuted for one of penal
servitude for life. This case was used by Mr. Bright in his speech in
the House of Commons in favour of the abolition of capital punishments,
as a strong example of their danger.

How much more satisfactory would it have been could a court of appeal
have reheard such a case instead of its being left to the Home
Secretary’s judgment of evidence known only to himself.[130]



 The element (arsenicum)—The oxide (white
 arsenic)—Arsenicum—Arsenicum trioxide. Forms of: (1)
 Crystalline—(2) Amorphous—Solubility. Uses and occurrences: (1)
 Steeping wheat—(2) Preservation of skins—(3) Antiseptics—(4)
 Glass making—(5) Fur in boilers—(6) Candles—(7) Preservation of
 wood—(8) Sheep washes—(9) Scheele’s green and emerald green as
 pigments in sweets (case of Franklin and Randall), wall papers, toys,
 &c.—(10) Medicinal—(11) For horses—(12) Tooth-stopping—(13)
 Aniline dyes—(14) Fireworks—(15) Rat and fly poisons (case of
 Maria Gage)—(16) For cleansing metals—(17) Arsenic eaters—(18)
 Cosmetics—(19) For bronzing metals—(20) Beer brewed from
 glucose—(21) American paper collars—(22) Speculum metal—(23)
 Inhalation for asthma and bronchitis—(24) Mineral waters. Sulphides
 of Arsenic: (1) Orpiment (case of M. A. Burdock)—(2) Realgar.
 Arsenic acid—The arsenates—Arsenic trichloride—Arseniuretted
 hydrogen—Methods of extraction—Tests—Modifications of old
 processes suggested—Marsh’s test, distinction of results in arsenic
 and antimony—Reinsch’s test—Doses—Antidotes—Physiological
 effects—Remarks—Did L’Angelier commit suicide?

THE name “arsenic” is applied to two things: in chemistry it means the
element As; in popular usage it signifies the oxide As_{2}O_{3}. In
our report, the element will be called _arsenicum_, the oxide simply
“arsenic” or “white arsenic.”


Symbol As, is an element of steely metallic lustre, tarnishing to dull
dark grey, met with in crystalline (rhombohedral) fragments, so brittle
that they can be easily reduced to a dark grey powder, insoluble
in water, but slowly absorbing oxygen and dissolving, insoluble in
pure hydrochloric and in vegetal acids, and in alcohol, soluble (by
oxidation) in strong sulphuric and in nitric acid, in chlorine, in
solution of bleaching powder. Tasteless, and inodorous until heated,
when it sublimes, without melting, at 110° C. (Guy), and gives a
strong _odour of garlic_. Sp. gr. 5·8. The characters of the metal are
utilized in Marsh’s and other tests, hereafter described. Heated in
air, it oxidizes to white fumes of As_{2}O_{3}. It is employed chiefly
to harden lead in making _shot_, in the proportion of 0·3 per cent. The
use of these in cleaning bottles, &c., may contribute a trace of As:
the presence of a larger amount of _lead_ would in this case indicate
the source. Common Britannia metal, used for teapots, spoons, &c.,
often contains As. It occurs also in many minerals.

When oxidized it is poisonous, but _pure arsenicum_ passes through
the body of animals unaltered (Wagner’s Chem. Technology, trans, by
Crookes, 1872, p. 86). The vapour is very poisonous.

Arsenicum has two oxides, the trioxide and the pentoxide.


_Synonyms._—Arsenious oxide, arsenious acid, arsenious anhydride;
popularly, “arsenic,” “flour of arsenic,” or “white arsenic:” in mining
districts it is sometimes called “mercury:” Latin, acidum arseniosum.

_Chemical formula_ As_{2}O_{3}, or two atoms (150 parts by weight) of
arsenicum, to three atoms (48 parts by weight) of oxygen.

_Forms._—(1.) _Crystalline_. By sublimation and slow condensation on
moderately heated surfaces, also by deposition from solution, we obtain
regular _octahedra_, often so modified as to appear like equilateral
triangular or hexagonal plates, or even elongated into triangular
prisms, but never in the form of regular _tetrahedra_ such as tartar
emetic yields. For figures, see Guy and Ferrier’s Forens. Med., 1881,
pp. 440 and 670. The crystals are transparent and highly refracting.
Sp. gr. 3·69. Volatilizes without melting, except under increased

(2.) _Amorphous_ or _vitreous_. Suddenly cooled, As_{2}O_{3} condenses
as clear transparent drops, finally cohering into a glassy mass, sp.
gr. 3·74. When kept, this becomes opaque, perhaps owing to a change
into the crystalline variety, constituting the “porcellanous” form
found in commerce. If the lumps be broken, layers of still transparent
As_{2}O_{3} will be seen.

The _solubility_ depends on the variety, temperature, length of time
it is digested, fineness of powder, &c. So that exact figures cannot
be given, as hardly two authorities agree. It is certain, however,
that the amorphous form is less soluble than the crystalline.[131]
The accepted statement is that given by Taylor (Med. Juris. 1, 250):
that digested with cold water, from 1/500 to 1/1000 dissolves, equal
from one half to one grain per fluid ounce; if boiled for an hour and
allowed to cool, an average of twelve grains per fluid ounce remains
in solution; if boiled for a shorter time, less is dissolved. See also
Woodman and Tidy’s Forens. Med., 1877, pp. 133, 134. Organic matter
is said to decrease its solubility; I have not found that it does so
to any notable extent. Dr. Blondlot (Med. Times and Gazette, Feb. 11,
1860) states that fats, such as bacon, diminish the solubility; this
must be by coating the particles and preventing contact with water.
Powdered white arsenic in all cases refuses for a long time to become
moistened by water, floating on the top, and collecting in little lumps
as if greasy: the appearance is so peculiar as to have led sometimes
to its detection. Commercial powdered white arsenic is generally the
opaque form pulverized, but it may be crystalline.

As_{2}O_{3} is very soluble in potash and soda and their carbonates,
forming _arsenites_. It is less soluble in ammonia. In hydrochloric
acid it dissolves easily, forming _chloride of arsenic_. It is less
soluble (1 in 2,000) in alcohol than in water. One part dissolves in
200,000 of chloroform. It is insoluble in pure ether. It is heavy to
feel, _tasteless_, very faintly acid to test paper, and so feeble
in affinity that its soluble salts are strongly alkaline, and are
decomposed by all acids with separation of As_{2}O_{3}. The powder and
its vapour are inodorous, but when heated with charcoal or organic
matter it is reduced to arsenicum, with its odour of garlic.

_Uses and Occurrence._—1. As a preservative against insects and fungi,
for steeping seed-wheat. Many accidents have resulted. Birds poisoned
by it and afterwards eaten by man have occasioned severe symptoms. From
1830 to 1840 in France 235 accusations of arsenic poisoning occurred,
of which 110 were against agricultural persons, proving that the use of
the drug in farming gives dangerous facilities for crime. Sulphate of
copper, or, better, a mixture of sulphate of soda and lime, are more
effectual as preservatives, and the latter mixture is not poisonous.
(Lancet, 1849, Jan. 20.)

2. For preserving skins and furs (arsenical soap). This use has also
caused serious results in the operators. Stuffed birds, &c., kept
in living rooms may prejudicially affect the inmates by giving off
arsenical dust.

3. As an antiseptic it is injected in solution through the vessels of
subjects for dissection. Of course in this case the body would show
signs of the anatomical examination it had undergone. In the trial
of Professor Webster for the murder of Dr. Parkman, at Boston, U.S.,
March, 1850, the _absence_ of arsenic and other preservative substances
in the corpse proved that it had not been a subject for dissection.

4. In glass making and the production of opaque white enamels. Here
most of the vapour passes up the chimney and is diffused.

5. Some of the patent preparations for preventing “fur” in boilers have
contained alkaline arsenites.

6. Formerly wicks of candles were steeped in arsenic solution to
prevent a long “snuff” forming. Moreover, it was incorporated with the
candle itself to improve its appearance. The result was a constant
diffusion of arsenic vapour in the room. Tapers were also coloured with
emerald green (copper aceto-arsenite), which likewise gave rise to
arsenical fumes. These objectionable practices have been fortunately
given up, owing to the strong representations of scientific men.

7. Wood is sometimes preserved by a solution of arsenic, and then
tarred. This use would be practically free from danger, except to the

8. An alkaline arsenite is used for washing sheep to destroy vermin.
The workmen sometimes suffer. (Lancet, 1857, p. 281.) Streams have
been poisoned, the solution has been drunk in mistake (Ibid, 1856, p.
447), and lastly, the sheep themselves have been killed (Taylor’s Med.
Juris., i. 272). Carbolic acid would probably answer better.

9. Cupric arsenite (Scheele’s green) and aceto-arsenite (Schweinfurth
or emerald green) are used as pigments. In one case, where a baker’s
shelves had been painted with this colour, emerald green was found
adhering to the bottoms of the loaves (Med. Times and Gaz., 1854,
p. 326). Blancmange (_R._ v. _Franklin & Randall_, Northampton,
1848[132]), ornaments on cakes (Lancet, 1849, Feb. 17th), sweets,
dresses, and artificial flowers (Husemann, Jahresbericht, 1872, p.
480), lamp-shades, insides of pasteboard cigar-holders, toys,[133]
wrappings for chocolate, &c., wafers, water and oil colours, and wall
papers have all been coloured with emerald green. Whenever such things
have been swallowed, _the green colour is seen in the vomit_. Boxes of
paints should never be given to young children. Cakes of emerald green
and of other poisonous colours have often been sucked or eaten with
fatal result; they are the more tempting as they are generally made
up with honey or glycerine. Bright green wall papers have gone out of
fashion, still many of the dull colours have emerald green in their
composition. Such papers certainly give off arsenical dust, even if
they do not evolve arseniuretted hydrogen or other arsenical gas, and
the symptoms they produce have been well authenticated. In a new house
the papers should always be tested. Messrs. Woollams, of Marylebone
Lane, were, I believe, the first to disuse arsenical pigments in

These arsenites of copper give, with a little ammonia, a blue solution
(due to the copper), in which a crystal of silver nitrate becomes
covered with a yellow coating of silver arsenite. The As can also be
easily found by the other tests.

Dr. Raseden of Mersberg finds that arsenical papers cause rheumatic
pains, neuralgia, cough, lassitude, and emaciation (Lancet, 1849,
April 7th). They also cause skin eruptions. These effects disappear
when the patients are removed. In Germany the use of these pigments
is prohibited; it should be so in England. Unfortunately no other
permanent green colour is so bright in tint.

The copper arsenites are insoluble in water, but soluble in acids,
hence are dissolved by the gastric juice, and then absorbed.

10. In medicine, arsenic is used for skin diseases, ague, and as a
tonic; externally for cancer and lupus. _Liquor arsenicalis_ B.P.,
Fowler’s solution, or “ague drops,” is composed of arsenic 80 grains,
potass, carbonate 80 grains, water 1 pint, flavoured with lavender. It
is a solution of potassium arsenite. _Liquor arsenici hydrochloricus_
is arsenic dissolved in hydrochloric acid, giving arsenic trichloride,
of the same strength as liquor arsenicalis. Among unofficial
preparations are “_Donovan’s Solution of Arsenic_,” containing
mercuric and arsenious iodides; strength 0·69 grain _arsenicum_ per
fluid ounce: “_Davidson’s Cancer Remedy_” equal parts of arsenic and
hemlock (Dr. Paris): “_Cancer Paste_,” containing 8 per cent. of
arsenic, with cinnabar and dragon’s blood: “_Hydrophobia Pill_,” 1/16
to 1/12 grain arsenic, with 1 grain pepper, an absurd remedy much
used in the East Indies. (Blyth’s Pract. Chem., 1879, p. 376.) The
pharmacopœial preparations of arsenic acid will be described under
_arsenic pentoxide_.

11. It is given by grooms to horses, to render their coats sleek, and
improve their wind, under the name of “condition balls or powders”
(strength 2½ to 5 per cent. of arsenic), also for worms, and as a tonic.

12. For destroying the nerves of decayed teeth, about 1/25 grain
is placed in the cavity. In the Lancet a case is recorded in which
inflammation and caries of the jaw followed this practice, which is a
very dangerous one.

13. In the manufacture of some aniline dyes, and in the reduction of
indigo, arsenic is often used. Dyed stockings, &c., have caused skin
irritation, supposed to be due to arsenic, but more probably owing to
the dye itself.

14. Firework preparations commonly contain some compound of As, and
therefore give poisonous vapours. “Bengal light” consists of 24 of
potass. nitrate, 7 of sulphur, and 2 of realgar (arsenic disulphide).
See also Blyth, Prac. Chem., p. 379.

15. _Rat Poisons_:—No. 1. Arsenic 6 per cent., made into a paste,
with equal parts of flour and suet, variously coloured and scented.
No. 2. Equal parts of arsenic and carbonate of barium (itself
poisonous), coloured with rose pink, and scented with oils of anise and

_Fly Poisons._—“Fly powder,” a grey mixture of As and As_{2} O_{3}.
“Fly water,” a solution of arsenious acid, or arsenite of soda or
potash, of varying strength, sweetened with sugar, treacle, or honey.
(Med. Times and Gazette, Sept. 13th, 1851.) Some also contain orpiment
(arsenic trisulphide).

16. For cleansing metals, arsenite of soda has been used on account
of its strong alkalinity. It is an absurd preparation to use for this
purpose, as washing soda or potash would act better. In December,
1857, 340 children were poisoned by water from a boiler that had been
“cleaned” by this compound (Taylor on Poisons, 2nd ed., p. 378). In
1863, a man died from drinking beer out of a pot which had been thus
cleansed (Taylor, Med. Juris., 1, 273).

17. The well-known “arsenic eating” of Styria has been ridiculed as
impossible, but has yet been authenticated on further examination. A
Styrian wood-cutter was seen by a medical man to eat a piece of arsenic
weighing 4½ grains, and next day another 5½ grains, yet remaining in
his usual health. It is also eaten by the natives of Ceylon (Med. Times
and Gaz. 1862, p. 454, and 1866, p. 375). Workmen in arsenic factories
often become habituated to its influence. See a paper by Roscoe, Mem.
of Lit. and Phil. Soc. of Manchester, 1860. I myself can testify to
this fact. A student in the College of Science, Dublin, was accustomed
to take out of the arsenic bottle little lumps about 3 or 4 grains each
and eat them, without apparent ill effect.

18. As a cosmetic, applied externally, it would probably be useless.
Unless the skin were abraded, or it remained very long in contact,
no absorption, and hence no poisonous effect, would result, but any
scratch or wound would be dangerous. (See Christison’s Evidence, case
of Madeline Smith, p. 320.) And if in protracted contact with the skin,
it will cause symptoms. (Memoirs of Lond. Med. Soc., ii., 397, Amer. J.
of Med. Science, July, 1851.)

19. A solution of chloride of arsenic has been employed for “bronzing”
metals. The fumes would be highly pernicious.

20. Ritter, of Rouen, states that glucose or starch-sugar frequently
contains arsenic, derived from the sulphuric acid employed in its
manufacture being made from arsenical pyrites. He finds that by this
means the arsenic is introduced into _beer_ brewed with glucose, into
confectionery, syrups, liqueurs, &c. (Reimann’s Färber Zeitung, No. 3,

21. It is said that certain paper collars and cuffs which are
extensively made in America have proved poisonous from containing a
considerable proportion of arsenic. (Les Mondes, Nov. 11th, 1880.)[135]

22. _Speculum Metal_, for telescope mirrors, is an alloy of copper,
tin, and 3 per cent. of arsenic.

23. In America, a paper soaked in a solution of arsenic and other drugs
is burnt, and the smoke inhaled for asthma and bronchitis. (Year Book
of Pharm., 1873, p. 345.)

24. Traces occur in mineral waters.


_Orpiment_, As_{2} S_{3}, Auripigmentum, or King’s Yellow, trisulphide
of arsenic, obtained by precipitating a solution of arsenic with
sulphuretted hydrogen, is a yellow inodorous powder, insoluble in water
and in hydrochloric acid, but slowly oxidizing in air to arsenious
acid, and therefore poisonous. It is found native. By heat it melts
to a reddish liquid: if air be excluded, it volatilizes at about 700°
C., and condenses unchanged: if air be present, it is oxidized to
sulphur dioxide and arsenic trioxide, which condenses in the crystals
before-mentioned. It is soluble in alkalies and their carbonates,
and reprecipitated by hydrochloric acid. Commercial “King’s Yellow,”
formerly used as a pigment, but now replaced by Chromate of lead, is
a very poisonous mixture of As_{2} O_{3} and As_{2} S_{3}. It is
sometimes employed in printing indigo. A mixture of orpiment, water and
lime is used in the East as “Rasma” (see page 320) for a depilatory.
In a corpse, by putrefaction, the arsenic is frequently converted into

_Realgar_, the disulphide, As_{2} S_{2}, is red, exists as a mineral,
and is also made artificially for fireworks. It contains _about_ 75 per
cent. of arsenic, but varies. Formerly it was used as a pigment, and in
tanning to remove hair.

These sulphides have rarely been used for criminal purposes. _Orpiment_
was employed by Mary Ann Burdock, 1833.[136] Being insoluble, they
would only be absorbed after oxidation into As_{2} O_{3}. Ossikovszky
(J. Pract. Chem. 2, xxii., 323) finds that this change happens
rapidly in contact with organic bodies. But the opposite change, by
putrefaction and development of sulphuretted hydrogen, of As_{2} O_{3}
into As_{2} S_{3}, is far more likely and frequent.


is obtained by oxidizing As_{2} O_{3} by nitric acid. It is a white
deliquescent solid, inodorous, _very soluble in water_ to a syrupy
solution, which is corrosive, strongly acid and metallic in taste. By
heat it first gives the pentoxide, As_{2} O_{5}, then it breaks up into
As_{2} O_{3} and oxygen, finally completely volatilizing. It is said
to be less poisonous than As_{2} O_{3}. (Wöhler and Frehrichs, Ann.
Chem. Pharm., lxv., 335.)

The _arsenates_ are very like the phosphates. Like them they give
with acid molybdate solution a yellow, with magnesium sulphate a
white crystalline, precipitate. But with sulphuretted hydrogen, after
acidifying, they give _slowly_ a yellow precipitate of sulphide
of arsenic and sulphur; and with silver nitrate a _liver brown_
precipitate of silver arsenate.[137] Sulphurous acid reduces arsenic
acid to arsenious.

_Sodium arsenate_ is in the British Pharmacopœia, and is employed in
calico printing. A brominated solution of potassium arsenate (strength
= 1 per cent. As_{2} O_{3}) is used in Russia for epilepsy. “Pearson’s
solution” is 1 grain sodium arsenate to 1 oz. water. “Macquir’s neutral
arsenical salt” is a binarsenate of soda. “Papier Moure” consists of
paper soaked in solution of potassium arsenate (Tidy).

Fischer (Ber. deutsch. Chem. Gesellschaft, xiii., p. 1778) proposes
_ferrous chloride_ as better than sulphurous acid for reducing arsenic
acid to arsenious (see process for separation, post).

_Arsenic Trichloride_, As Cl_{3}, is a volatile, colourless liquid,
very pungent, and fuming in air. It has been discarded from medical
use on account of its dangerous properties. A case of poisoning by it
is mentioned in Taylor (Med. Juris. 1, p. 278). It is obtained in the
process for separation from the organs. Arsenic Triiodide, a dull red
crystalline solid, is used in ointments.

_Arseniuretted hydrogen_, As H_{3}, is a colourless gas of a garlic
odour, almost insoluble in water. It burns with a livid bluish-grey
flame, forming water and a white cloud of As_{2} O_{3}. By heating to
redness it is decomposed into hydrogen and a deposit of arsenicum (the
“mirror”). It is formed whenever hydrogen is evolved in contact with
arsenic compounds, hence has caused accidents in making hydrogen from
impure zinc. It is probably the most deadly compound of As, and proved
fatal to its investigator, Gehlen, and in several other cases.


If arsenic has been given in the solid form, the greater part will
remain insoluble, and will be found either in lumps or powder in the
stomach, or as a white powder adhering to its lining. Any substance so
found should be washed with water and tested for arsenic. It is absurd
to say, as Dr. Letheby did in Ann Merritt’s case (_ante_, p. 366), that
the quantity was too small for examination: if a white powder can be
_seen_, it can be _tested_. In the contents, or in any fluid food, the
heaviness of powdered arsenic will cause it to readily separate as a
sediment. Soot or indigo, the legal admixtures, should also be sought.

Arsenic is not naturally present in the body (Sonnenschein,
Gerichtlich. Chemie, p. 122; and others). As it occurs in soils, in
cases of disinterment a portion of the earth surrounding the coffin
should be tested.[138]

When absorbed, it may pass into every part of the body, but more
especially into the liver and spleen. De Poncy and Livon have
supposed that it was capable of replacing phosphorus in the actual
brain substance (Comptes Rendus, 23, June 9th, 1879), and that it is
mainly localized in the _brain_. Another author finds it concentrated
in the _bones_. Prof. E. Ludwig of Vienna, in the case of a woman
who suffered from making artificial flowers coloured with magenta
containing arsenic, found arsenic in the liver, spleen, kidneys, and
stomach, but not in the bones or urine (Lond. Med. Record, Dec. 15th,
1877, p. 509). He found also that in human beings as well as dogs
poisoned with arsenic, in both acute and chronic cases, the liver
contained the largest amount, the kidneys sometimes a considerable
quantity, and the bones, brain and urine, only small traces (Jahresb.
für Thierchemie, 1879, 85). These results have been discussed by
Johnson and Chittenden (American Chem. Journal, 2, 332), who, in a
woman poisoned by arsenic, found, _a year and a half after burial_,
over 5 grains of As_{2} O_{3}, almost evenly distributed. The
conclusion to be drawn is, that, of the absorbed arsenic, the main
part will be in the liver, and the rest in varying proportions in
other tissues, so that as much as possible of the whole body should be

As the large quantity of organic matter is in the way of the tests, it
has been proposed to get rid of this by different processes. That of
Fresenius and V. Babo consists in oxidizing the substances by strong
hydrochloric acid and chlorate of potash. There is a great objection
to this, as loss is liable to occur from volatilization of arsenic
trichloride, unless it is done in a retort, which is practically
impossible on account of the bulk and frothing, and the danger of
explosion from the oxides of chlorine formed.

The following modification of an old process has been found by the
author to be satisfactory. It may be used also for antimony and
mercury. Weigh the whole, cut up finely, and grind the matters to
a pulp with water, reserving a weighed portion of about one third;
render strongly alkaline with potash or soda previously tested
for arsenic. Pass in a current of chlorine, _stopping before the
alkalinity is destroyed_. Boil the solution down to a low bulk, _not
to dryness_, till a portion taken out and treated with acetic acid
gives no chlorinous odour, showing that the hypochlorite has been
completely decomposed. Arsenic trichloride does not escape from
alkaline solutions, so there is no loss. Add sufficient _pure_ aqueous
sulphurous acid, to reduce the arsenic acid to arsenious. Now transfer
to a large retort provided with a tube-funnel and condenser, the
end dipping into water in a well-cooled tubulated receiver, itself
connected by a tube with a flask containing dilute potash solution.
Through the tube-funnel pour in pure concent. sulphuric acid in volume
about equal to the liquid, adding it gradually, as there is much heat
and effervescence. Mix well by shaking, and distil slowly from a sand
bath. In distilling a moderately strong solution of mixed arsenious
and antimonious chlorides in concent. hydrochloric acid, I have found
that the arsenic all comes over in the first third of the distillate,
and that after two-thirds have passed over, the antimony also begins
to distil. Hence, in the above process the distillation should not
be carried beyond half the volume of the liquid in the retort, when
all the arsenic, _in whatever form it originally existed_, will be
found as chloride in the receiver, except a little which may have
escaped into the potash. Test a portion of the potash solution by
Marsh’s or Reinsch’s process as hereafter described: if any arsenic
be present, add the remainder to the liquid in the receiver, taking
care that excess of free acid is left. Pass into the distillate washed
sulphuretted hydrogen in excess (or add a solution of the gas in
water), warm, cover, and allow to stand. (The excess of sulphuretted
hydrogen may afterwards be removed by warming and passing in carbonic
acid gas.) If any arsenic be present, a yellow precipitate of arsenious
sulphide, As_{2}S_{3}, will appear; if the precipitate be pale, it will
consist mainly of sulphur, formed by the action of the sulphuretted
hydrogen on the sulphurous acid which is present. Some organic matters
are also generally present. Collect the precipitate on a filter, wash
with sulphuretted hydrogen water, dissolve in a dilute solution of
ammonium carbonate, and again precipitate with hydrochloric acid. The
precipitated arsenious sulphide is now nearly pure: it may be collected
on a small filter, washed rapidly, again dissolved in ammonia, the
solution received in a porcelain dish, evaporated to a low bulk,
transferred to a weighed porcelain boat, and heated cautiously in
a current of carbon dioxide to a temperature not above 400° C.,
sufficient, in fact, just to melt the arsenious sulphide. [Sulphur
boils at 446° C., As_{2}S_{3} at 700° C.] Any remaining sulphur is thus
removed, and the arsenious sulphide may then be weighed. The weight
multiplied by 0·805 gives the amount of arsenic trioxide.

A less preferable way is to collect the arsenious sulphide on a weighed
filter, to dry, and dissolve out any sulphur by carbon disulphide. Yet
another method is to oxidize by nitric acid, evaporate, precipitate
the arsenic acid by a mixture of ammonic chloride, magnesic sulphate,
and strong ammonia —“magnesia mixture”) as ammonio-magnesic arsenate,
and weigh, either as that salt, or, after ignition, as pyroarsenate
of magnesia. The former, dried at 100° C., contains 39·57, the latter
48·29 per cent. of As. Lastly, if the sulphide, oxidized by nitric
acid, be alkalized with ammonia, and warmed to 70° or 80° C. with a
solution of ammonium molybdate in nitric acid, as used for the ordinary
determination of phosphates (see Fresenius, Qual. Anal., p. 54), a
yellow precipitate of _arsenomolybdate of ammonia_ appears, which can
be weighed: it contains 3·3 per cent. of As (Bull. Soc. Chem., Jan.
7th, 1877).

But where such importance may hang on quantities, the use of weighed
filters for such small amounts is simply courting error. When the
As_{2}S_{3} has been weighed in the porcelain boat, calculate it
into As_{2}O_{3}, or into As (it contains 61 per per cent. of As),
then cover it with a mixture of pure potassic cyanide and sodium
carbonate, place it in a piece of combustion tubing drawn out at the
end into a long thin point, pass washed dry carbon dioxide over it,
and heat cautiously till all the water is expelled. Finally raise the
temperature to full redness, and pass a _slow_ continuous current
of the gas, keeping the narrow part of the tube cool with moistened
blotting paper. The sulphide will be reduced to As, which will deposit
in a metallic coating on the narrow portion. Seal this part, and
preserve it as evidence.

It is obvious that the residue in the retort may be tested for other

The presence of arsenic ascertained, and the quantity known, it would
seem as if nothing more was necessary. Still, it is useful to confirm
results by the other tests. The reserved portion may now be divided and
used as follows:—


If hydrogen be evolved in presence of arsenical compounds, it combines
with the element to form “arseniuretted hydrogen,” or _arsine_,
AsH_{3}, a colourless gas of alliaceous odour, extremely poisonous,
giving, when passed into silver nitrate solution, a precipitate of
silver and a solution of As_{2}O_{3}; decomposed at a red heat into
As and hydrogen, and burning with a livid flame into As_{2}O_{3} and
water. The flame yields, when a cold surface, such as a porcelain
crucible-lid or dish, is depressed into it, a steel-grey lustrous stain
or ring of metallic arsenic.

To evolve the hydrogen, Marsh originally used zinc and sulphuric acid.
As it is so difficult to obtain zinc pure, magnesium has been proposed.
But the evolution is then too rapid. Moreover, the reputed “pure”
acids of commerce are scarcely ever free from a trace of arsenic. This
difficulty affects equally the galvanic method. Hence it is better to
employ _sodium amalgam_ (Edmund Davy, Chem. News, xxxiii., 58, and
ditto, 94). One part of sodium, scraped free from oxide, is melted
under solid paraffin, and gradually added to ten parts of mercury
(previously purified by nitric acid) with constant stirring, the
paraffin poured off, and the amalgam cleaned by washing with pure dry
benzine. The result is a solid crystalline alloy.

A few fragments of this alloy are placed with water in a flask provided
with a thistle funnel, and with a delivery tube dipping into a 4 per
cent. solution of silver nitrate. The horizontal part of the delivery
tube is heated to just below redness by a lamp, meanwhile being
supported to prevent its bending. If, after about an hour, no As ring
appears in the tube, and if the silver nitrate, after precipitation
of the silver by hydrochloric acid and filtration, gives no arsenious
sulphide on addition of sulphuretted hydrogen, the amalgam is pure.
Now add to the flask the suspected liquid, put in more amalgam, and
continue the heating of the tube and passing of the hydrogen till
no further evolution of As occurs. The portion of tube containing
the deposit of As may be cut off, weighed, the As dissolved off
by aqua regia, and the tube washed, dried, and weighed again. The
silver nitrate solution contains the remainder of the As dissolved
as As_{2}O_{3}: after removal of the silver by hydrochloric acid and
filtration, the arsenious acid solution may be divided, a portion
titrated by iodine (see Blyth’s Pract. Chem., p. 392), and the rest
tested qualitatively by sulphuretted hydrogen, ammonio-silver nitrate,
and ammonio-cupric sulphate (see these tests, _post_).

If the original liquid be rendered strongly alkaline before adding
the amalgam, no antimony will pass off with the arsenic. But from
_acid_ liquids, arsenic and antimony pass off together. They both give
metallic rings in the tube, and stains on a cold surface. The chief
distinctions between them are as follows:—

1. _Arsenic._—More volatile, hence deposited further from the flame;
bounded by a “hair brown” fringe of suboxide; heated in a current of
sulphuretted hydrogen gives _yellow_ As_{2}S_{3}, unchanged by passing
dry hydrochloric acid gas: heated in air, it gives easily a sublimate
of As_{2}O_{3} in glistening octahedral crystals. It is soluble at once
in chloride of lime solution.

2. _Antimony._—Less volatile, hence forming close to the flame; no
brown fringe; heated in a current of sulphuretted hydrogen, gives
_orange or black_ Sb_{2}S_{3}, volatilized by passing dry hydrochloric
acid; heated in air, it gives a white oxide, volatile with great
difficulty, and not generally crystalline. It is insoluble in chloride
of lime solution.

By the above process, Edmund Davy has detected one-millionth of a grain
of As; 1/1000 grain gives a very decided effect in a few minutes. It
is applicable not only to As_{2}O_{3}, but to all other arsenical
compounds in powder, whether soluble or insoluble. Organic matter
interferes very little.

It must be observed that hydrogen alone may give a slight reduction and
precipitate in solutions of silver nitrate.

To prepare pure sulphuric acid and pure zinc, see Selmi, Chem. Soc.
Journal, May, 1881, p. 311.


If a fragment of pure copper be boiled with _pure_ hydrochloric acid
for ten minutes, no discolouration occurs. If now a solution containing
arsenic be added, the copper turns black or grey, from formation of an
alloy of copper and arsenicum. On drying the copper, and heating it
in a small glass tube closed at one end, the arsenicum is oxidized,
with production of crystals of As_{2} O_{3}. Organic matter does not
interfere. _Antimony_, sulphides, and some metals produce a similar
grey deposit, but do not yield a _crystalline_ sublimate. _Mercury_
also precipitates on the copper, but the sublimate consists of metallic

Any compound of arsenicum, mixed with dried potassium cyanide and
carbonate of soda, introduced into a piece of hard glass tubing drawn
to a point, and heated in a slow stream of dry carbon dioxide, gives
a deposit, in the narrow portion, of the whole of its arsenic in the
metallic form (Fresenius).

As_{2} O_{3} heated in a tube with dry potassium or sodium acetate
gives _cacodyl-oxide_ (Bunsen) of an exceedingly offensive alliaceous

In solution, arsenious acid gives:—

1. _With ammonio-silver nitrate_ (prepared by adding silver nitrate to
dilute ammonia till a precipitate just forms) a _yellow_ precipitate of
silver arsenite, soluble in ammonia and in nitric acid.

2. _With ammonio-cupric sulphate_ (prepared by similarly treating
cupric sulphate), a _bright green_ precipitate of cupric arsenite.

3. With _sulphuretted hydrogen_ a yellow colour (the intensity of this
has been proposed as a method of estimating small quantities of arsenic
by comparison _à la_ Nessler), but no precipitate till hydrochloric or
other acid be added, when _yellow arsenious sulphide_ falls. This is a
most delicate test, as arsenious sulphide is only soluble to the extent
of one part in one million of water (Fresenius, Quant. Anal. p. 137),
and not much more soluble in acids. The precipitate may be weighed, or
treated as already mentioned (pp. 386-7). Tin and cadmium solutions
also give yellow sulphides, but they are insoluble in ammonia, and do
not yield the other tests.

4. Stannous chloride (protochloride of tin) gives a brown deposit of
metallic arsenic. With acids containing traces of arsenic it gives a
brown colour.


1. _Medicinal_ (British Pharmacopœia).—Acidum arseniosum (As_{2}
O_{3}), 1/60 to 1/12 grain in solution. Liquor arsenicalis (solution of
potassium arsenite), 2 to 8 minims. Liquor arsenicalis hydrochloricus
(solution of chloride of arsenic), 2 to 8 minims. Sodæ arsenias (sodium
arsenate), 1/16 to ⅛ grain. Liquor sodæ arseniatis (solution of the
preceding), 5 to 10 minims. Ferri arsenias (ferric arsenate), 1/16 to ½

2. _Poisonous._—Smallest recorded: _one grain_, (Lancet, Dec. 16th,
1837), _two grains_, (Provincial Journal, 1848, p. 347); average
smallest, 2½ grains. Recoveries have been described after enormous
doses, up to 1½ ounce, taken solid and therefore not dissolved,
rejected by vomiting or purging, or prevented from irritant action by
abundance of food (see a case in the Lancet, Jan. 13th, 1849, when 1oz.
was taken with recovery).[139]

Idiosyncrasy may cause smaller doses to be dangerous; on the other
hand, habit may cause tolerance of the poison, as already mentioned
with regard to arsenic eaters. Nitre is said to increase the poisonous
action (Med. Times, 1844, p. 216). Antimony by its prostrating action
would have the same effect.


The symptoms usually commence in ½ to 1 hour after administration
(Taylor), but vary with dose, form, &c. They have also been _immediate_
(case of Lofthouse, York, 1835); in ten minutes (Guy and Ferrier); in ¼
hour (Taylor); in 5, 7, 8, and 10 hours (Med. Gaz. xlvii. 722); in 23
hours (Med. Times, Oct. 21, 1848); in _four days_ (Woodman and Tidy,
Forens. Med. p. 134).

As to the character of the symptoms, _irritation of the stomach and
intestines_ is the main feature. Burning pain, vomiting and purging,
cramps and occasionally tetanus (Orfila, i., 449) occur. Rarely there
is insensibility and no pain. Great thirst, constriction of the throat,
headache, and finally exhaustion are common. Sometimes epilepsy
or paralysis has been caused. The truth is, that every variety of
constitutional disturbance may be caused by the violent irritation of
the alimentary canal, except that the intellect is rarely affected.
In many cases the effects closely resemble those of acute diarrhœa or
English Cholera. One anomalous case is on record when death occurred in
four hours after sound sleep, and _no inflammation_ of the stomach was
found (Lancet, xii., 194). For a detailed list of cases, see Guy and
Ferrier’s Forens. Med. p. 457.

_Fatal period._—Shortest, twenty minutes (Taylor); average, about
twenty-four hours. Death in three to eight hours is common. But the end
has been sometimes far more protracted, even to _two years_ (_Ibid._,
Med. Jur. i., 256).

The _vomit_ is usually yellowish (L’Angelier) from bile: occasionally
it is tinged with blood; rarely white. If the arsenic has been mixed
with soot or indigo, these will affect its colour.

_Post Mortem Appearances._—The lining membrane of the stomach and
intestines is almost always inflamed and reddened, rarely darker from
congestion. White patches, covered with mucus, should be examined
for solid arsenic. Perforation, ulceration, and gangrene are rare.
In bodies long buried, the arsenic is often converted into sulphide
by putrefaction, and then appears as a yellow coating. Occasionally
inflammatory appearances are found in the mouth, throat and other
organs. Congestion of the brain is uncommon.

Among the effects of _chronic_ poisoning by arsenic may be noted
inflammation of the eyelids (conjunctivitis), skin eruptions,
irritability of the stomach, jaundice, and local paralysis (for cases
see Taylor’s Med. Jur., i. 252).


Vomiting should be encouraged by emetics or tickling the throat; the
stomach pump being used if judicious. To obviate the irritation,
demulcents such as arrowroot, mucilage, &c., are useful. Albumen
(white of egg) has proved serviceable (Lancet, Jan. 13th, 1849). To
render the arsenic insoluble, magnesia or chalk may be given. But the
best chemical antidote is hydrated ferric oxide, freshly prepared
by precipitating ferric chloride or tinct. ferri sesquichlor. with
carbonate of soda (washing soda), or by similarly precipitating ferrous
sulphate (copperas), and then shaking the mixture with air till it
turns red, or by the following formula:—

  Tinct. ferr. perchlor.     1 oz.
  Sod. bicarb.               1 oz.
  Tepid water, a teacupful.

(Hoglan, Year Book of Pharm. 1881, p. 211).

M. Lucas of Beauvais has stated, that in nine cases of arsenical
poisoning, calcined magnesia arrested the symptoms and eventually
removed the effects (J. Chim. Medi. 1850).


Arsenic has been given in pessaries by the vagina, in ointment for skin
diseases and by “cancer doctors,” also inhaled as vapour for asthma,
in each case with dangerous result.

The frequent occurrence of this poison in common articles of use gives
an opportunity to the defence which has led to analyses of multitudes
of articles—wall-papers, clothing, cooking vessels, &c. It may be
positively affirmed that if white arsenic _in the solid state_ be found
in the stomach, it could not have come from any of these sources. The
trace that could be derived from wall-papers would be infinitesimal.
The tests for arsenic are almost inconveniently delicate, so that
the slightest impurity of the reagents will make it appear to be
present. Reichardt (Archiv. der Pharm., xiv. 1-23), states that 1/1000
milligramme of As_{2}O_{3} evolved as arseniuretted hydrogen will
precipitate silver nitrate, and that by this means he has found it in
the urine of patients suffering from arsenical wall-papers. The effect
of such papers is certainly pernicious, though it may be mentioned that
in Silesia mortar is made with arsenical sand, and people living in
houses thus built do not suffer (Lancet, 1849, April 7th). On the whole
it may be concluded that in a trial, _traces_ of arsenic will not be
sufficient, a tangible quantity found and _weighed_ will be the only
sufficient evidence of poisoning by the mouth.

To illustrate the value of a knowledge of chemistry to a medical man in
such cases the following may be quoted. A child of ten was supposed to
have eaten a quantity of meal mixed with arsenic for rats. An emetic of
sulphate of zinc was given: the first vomit gave with ammon. sulphate
of copper a bright green, with ammon. nitrate of silver, a yellow
precipitate, thus establishing that the poison was arsenic. Emetics and
diluents were continued, then albumen was given. Some hydrated ferric
oxide was hurriedly made from common green vitriol (ferrous sulphate)
and ammonia: the washed precipitate was administered in successive
teaspoonfuls. Recovery on the third day. In the vomit 10 grains of
white arsenic were found. (Lancet, 1849, p. 311.)

The following is a curious form of attempted poisoning. A person lately
presented this prescription in Paris: “Decoct. barley, 8 oz.; hydroch.
acid, 1 drachm; _arsenious acid, 10 grains_.” The signature of a
physician was appended, but, on suspicion being aroused, was found to
be a forgery.

In Ann Merritt’s case, Dr. Letheby stated that arsenic had been taken
not more than two or three hours (afterwards he said four) before
death, because he found undigested gruel in the stomach, containing
arsenic _in solution_, and because the intestines contained very little
arsenic. This conclusion was considered by weighty authorities to be
rash, and probably wrong, because:—

1. He found 2 grains (a poisonous dose) in the liver. This could hardly
have got there within so short a time.

2. In a stomach irritated by arsenic or disease, food may remain
undigested for seven, eight, or more hours.

8. A previous dose of arsenic, adherent to the coats of the stomach,
might be dissolved by an influx of warm gruel.

4. The portion in the intestines might have been evacuated by purging.

5. The “pinkish liquid” described by the surgeon who performed
the _post-mortem_, pointed to admixture with blood, therefore to
inflammation of some standing, and certainly did not tally with Dr.
Letheby’s description of “gruel.”

With reference to the alleged administration of arsenic in cocoa in
Madeline Smith’s case, the following details will be illustrative.

100 grains of white arsenic were found to be a small teaspoonful,
not heaped. This quantity was mixed with two teaspoonfuls of Epps’s
cocoa. The colour was rendered lighter, but still looked natural. On
making up with boiling water and milk, as directed, a cup of cocoa
was obtained, in which neither appearance, taste, nor smell, betrayed
anything unusual. On standing the milk rapidly curdled, and the arsenic
deposited, but this would not be seen in an opaque cup. With arrowroot
or gruel a similar result was obtained.[140]

It has been stated that arsenic trioxide volatilizes with the vapour of
water. I have not found this to be the case to any appreciable extent,
but it does volatilize slowly at 100° C., and still more at 120°. About
½ gramme of As_{2} O_{3} lost, after six hours on the water-bath, 3 per
cent. of its weight; after six hours at 120° C. it lost six per cent.
When chlorides are present, as in the body, it is still more liable
to volatilization as arsenic trichloride. Hence matters containing
it cannot be boiled down or dried without danger of loss, unless
previously rendered alkaline.

R. Otto has stated that ordinary sulphuretted hydrogen may contain
arsenic from the sulphate of iron used. He proposes to prepare the
gas by the action of pure hydrochloric acid on pure calcium sulphide
obtained by roasting gypsum with charcoal (Ber. Chem. Ges. xii. 250). I
have tested water into which sulphuretted hydrogen has been repeatedly
passed, and have found no arsenic: if really present in the gas, the As
H_{3} is not absorbed in the liquid.



THE cases under this head are very numerous, and, therefore, difficult
of selection. I have given, as the leading cases, full reports, (1),
of that of Dr. Pritchard, of Glasgow, tried in the High Court of
Justiciary, in July, 1865, for the poisoning of his wife by repeated
small doses of antimony, and his mother-in-law by antimony and aconite;
(2), of that of Dr. Smethurst (the Richmond poisoning case), tried for
the poisoning of his mistress by small doses of antimony and arsenic,
at the Central Criminal Court, August 15th, 1859[141]; (3), I have
added a report of the Liverpool poisoning case—that of Thomas Waislow,
for the poisoning of Ann James, by antimony, tried at Liverpool, August
20th, 1860.


 EDINBURGH, _July, 1865_.

 _For the Prosecution_: The Solicitor-General (_now_ Lord Young), Mr.
 Gifford, _and_ Mr. Chrichton.

 _For the Defence_: Mr. Rutherford Clark, Mr. Watson, _and_ Mr. Brand.

By the _first_ count of the indictment the prisoner was charged with
the murder of his mother-in-law, Mrs. Taylor, by administering to her,
between the 10th and 25th of February, 1865, in Battley’s sedative
solution, tapioca, porter, or some other medicine or food, to the
prosecutor, unknown, tartarised antimony, aconite, and opium, or one
or more of them. In the _second_ count he was charged with the murder
of his wife by administering the like poisons, or one or more of them,
between the 22nd day of December, 1864, and the 25th of March, 1865,
in egg flip, cheese, porter, beer, or wine, or some other articles of
food, to the prosecutor, unknown. To the relevancy of the indictment
several objections were taken, but overruled, and the prisoner pleaded
“Not Guilty.”


_Edward William Pritchard_, a native of England, and member of the
Royal College of Surgeons since 1846, before he came to Glasgow, had
been a traveller in the Polar and Pacific Seas, and in the countries
bordering the Mediterranean, and first set up in practice at Filey, in
Yorkshire, where he married the daughter of a Glasgow silk merchant,
by whom he had a family. In consequence of this connection, about 1859
he removed to Glasgow, where, from his writings on several diseases,
he became favourably known as a person of superior attainments, and
gradually obtained a fair practice. Whilst thus apparently in the
enjoyment of popularity and success, he, in 1863, became the subject
of much adverse report, from the suspicious circumstances attending a
fire in his house, by which a maid servant was killed—the Insurance
Company refusing to pay his claim, and the doctor not taking legal
steps to enforce its recovery. The ugly rumours about this affair,
however, gradually subsided, and his social and professional position
was retained, until the sudden death of his mother-in-law, whilst
staying in his house to nurse his sick wife, was quickly followed by
that of the wife herself. As the mother-in-law was 70 years of age,
the statement that she had died of apoplexy was at first accepted.
When, however, the death of the wife so quickly followed, suspicion
was excited, inquiries were instituted by the police, and on the 21st
of March, 1865, Dr. Pritchard was arrested on the charge of poisoning
her. A _post-mortem_ examination of her remains had proved that her
death had not been due to natural causes, and a subsequent examination
of the body of his mother-in-law, exhumed for the purpose, led to the
same result in her case. Chemical analyzations of the interior portions
of both bodies disclosed in that of the wife the presence of antimony
in sufficient quantities to account for her death; and in that of the
mother-in-law to reduce the powers of her constitution so far as to
increase and facilitate the effects of a narcotic poison.


The details of the progress of the lingering illness of Mrs. Pritchard
until her death, and of the sudden seizure of Mrs. Taylor with what
proved to be a fatal attack apparently of apoplexy, were given in great
minuteness by several non-professional witnesses, servants in the house
at the time, pupils of Dr. Pritchard’s, and a girl whom Dr. Pritchard
had seduced and promised to marry when his wife died.

Up to October, 1864, Mrs. Pritchard, never apparently a very strong
woman, had been in her usual state of health. Towards the end of
that month, however, she began to look pale and lose her strength
from frequent vomitings, and had to keep her bed, as she believed,
from a severe cold, for four or five days. About this time, on her
temporary recovery, she went on a visit to her parents in Edinburgh,
and there gradually recovered, returning home about Christmas in her
former state of health. After a week or so the vomiting returned, and
on the 1st of February, 1865, she had a severe attack of cramp. Some
few days after, as the prisoner said, Dr. Cowan, a relative, saw her,
and prescribed small doses of champagne as a stimulant. However, the
vomiting returned, and about midnight on the 8th she was seized with
such a violent attack of cramp that, at her request, Dr. Gairdner was
called in, who at once stopped all stimulants. Dr. Pritchard told
every one that his wife was suffering from gastric fever. Dr. Gairdner,
however, could not find any feverish symptoms, and based his advice on
their absence, confessing himself “puzzled with the case.” On the 10th
Mrs. Taylor, her mother, came from Edinburgh to nurse her daughter. She
was a hale, hearty woman, though 70 years of age, but at times affected
with severe headaches, as a remedy for which she had been accustomed
for some years to have recourse to Battley’s sedative solution. On the
13th, at her suggestion, some tapioca was bought, brought into the
house, and left for some time on the lobby table. Of this, afterwards,
a cupful was made, and fetched by Mary McLeod, the younger servant, and
by her carried up to her mistress’s bedroom. Whether Mrs. Pritchard
partook of this or not was not known, but Mrs. Taylor ate a portion of
it, and the cook tasted it before it left the kitchen. Both Mrs. Taylor
and the cook were violently sick after taking the tapioca, the old lady
saying that she feared she was suffering from the same complaint as
her daughter. The tapioca had not been tampered with when purchased,
but when the remainder of it was analysed it was found to be charged
with nearly five grains of tartarised antimony. On the 16th the old
cook left, and Mary Patterson came. She found her mistress suffering
from continual vomits, and gradually getting weaker—as Mrs. Taylor
said, “one day better, and two days worse.” For the next twelve days
this state continued, and then a dreadful scene occurred. Mrs. Taylor,
who, whilst at Dr. Pritchard’s, had sent for a bottle of Battley’s
solution, was violently sick in the evening of the 24th of February,
and about nine on that night rang the bell violently, and was found by
the servant vainly endeavouring to vomit and asking for hot water to
assist her. By the prisoner’s orders this was twice brought, and when
on the second occasion Mary Patterson entered the room Mrs. Taylor was
sitting in her chair with her head down, apparently insensible, and
with her eyes closed. She was lifted into bed, and died in about three
hours. Whilst dressing her corpse a bottle, about two-thirds full of
Battley’s solution, was found in her pocket, and identified as that
which she had last purchased. That this also was pure and free from
poison when sold was clearly proved. When, however, it was analysed,
it was found to be charged with antimony and aconite. Dr. Pritchard
declared that she had died of apoplexy following on paralysis; but
Dr. Paterson, who had been called in at the last moment, distinctly
declared that there were no such symptoms. An attempt was made by the
prisoner to get Dr. Paterson to give the usual certificate of the cause
of death, and on his indignant refusal, the prisoner himself filled
up the form with the words, “Paralysis for twelve hours, followed by
apoplexy,” and the first victim was buried.[143]

Mrs. Pritchard still lingered. She had been sick on the day before
her mother’s death, but not for two or three days afterwards. Then,
however, the attacks returned, coming on, as before, within an hour
or two after her meals, which were uniformly sent to her by her
husband—generally by the hands of McLeod. It was during the last three
weeks of her miserable existence, that on one occasion he sent to her
from the supper table a small bit of cheese, which McLeod tasted at
Mrs. Pritchard’s request, when it gave her a burning sensation in the
throat, and made her thirsty. At another time he sent her a jug of
camomile tea, after taking a wine-glass of which, from time to time, as
ordered, she uniformly vomited. At another time, he had some egg-flip
prepared for her in the kitchen, and brought down the pieces of sugar
for it, taking them, as the witness believed, into his consulting
room, where he kept his drugs and poisons, before he put them into the
glass. Patterson, who tasted it, was struck with the taste, and Mrs.
Pritchard, who drank it, was sick very soon after, and in the following
night. In the week in which Mrs. Pritchard died she drank some port
wine which Dr. Pritchard had sent up, and again was sick. On the 17th
of March, the day before she died, Patterson, who had gone up to her
bedroom to speak about some linen, found Dr. Pritchard handing his wife
a glass of porter, which she drank. At that time Mrs. Pritchard was in
her senses. About five o’clock the bell rang violently. McLeod called
Patterson to come up at once. She did so, and found her mistress raving
about her mother, and calling on them to leave her and assist Mrs.
Taylor; her hands severely cramped—speaking wildly about her children.
After her hands had been rubbed, Mrs. Pritchard seemed to get more
calm, and Mary Patterson left, having handed the patient’s supper to
her husband. Until about half-past one the next morning Patterson heard
nothing. Then she was called up by McLeod to get a mustard poultice,
which the latter took up to the bedroom, and in a few minutes after the
bell again rang violently. She hurried up, and found the prisoner in
bed by his wife’s side. Her mistress was dead. The long agony of months
was at an end.


_Dr. James Moffat Cowan_, her second cousin, in consequence of a
letter from the prisoner, saw Mrs. Pritchard on the 7th and 8th of
February. She was then in the drawing-room, and complained of great
irritability of the stomach, combined with an inability to keep down
her food, and vomiting for some time back. He visited her rather as
an old friend than as a professional man, recommended her to go to
bed, and advised small quantities of champagne with ice to be taken
at intervals, and as she expressed a desire for food, recommended her
husband to try injections of beef tea. She was seized with vomiting
during the evening, but when he saw her before he left on the following
day, seemed better, and he never saw her again alive. He spoke to the
apparent happiness in which she lived with her husband, and to the fact
that, after her death Dr. Pritchard, to enable the servants to take a
last look at their mistress, had the coffin opened. Mrs. Taylor, with
whom he was intimately acquainted, Dr. Cowan described as a person of
very temperate habits.

_Dr. William Tennent Gairdner_, who was sent for during the night
between the 8th and 9th of February, immediately after Dr. Cowan left,
was told by the prisoner that for some time his wife had suffered from
sickness and spasms, and that Dr. Cowan had recommended stimulants, and
that she had had champagne and chloroform.

 “I found her,” said the witness, “in bed, lying on her back, with
 a considerably flushed face, and in a state of pretty considerable
 excitement. She told me of Dr. Cowan’s previous visit and of her
 wish that I should be sent for, and we had a good deal of general
 conversation about her symptoms. I found her to a certain extent
 exhausted, but by no means extremely so. She had a pretty good pulse.
 There was nothing in her symptoms to indicate immediate danger, and
 the most remarkable thing about her symptoms was the violent state of
 mental excitement she was in and the spasms of the hands. She held her
 hands outside the bedclothes above her head, and I saw that the wrists
 were turned in, and the thumbs somewhat inverted towards the wrists—a
 very peculiar state of the hand. I thought she was intoxicated from
 the combination of champagne and chloroform. When I turned to the fire
 to warm my hands before feeling her, she called me very unfeeling, and
 begged me not to leave her, using expressions for which I thought she
 was not responsible, from her temporary intoxication. I then examined
 her belly, and asked particularly if there was any chance of her being
 pregnant,—that being a frequent cause of vomitings,—and found there
 was none; and, after various inquiries, feeling her pulse and her
 skin, spoke strongly against the use of stimulants, which I ordered
 to be at once discontinued until I saw her again. Next day when I saw
 her, she assured me that she felt better and had had no return of
 the vomiting, but had still the remains of the spasms in her hands.
 I repeated my injunctions of no stimulants or medicine, and that her
 only food should be a plain boiled egg and bread and milk—that is,
 nothing that could produce sickness or sit heavy on her stomach. I
 told her that if her stomach had fair play it would digest the simple
 food I indicated. _I was very much puzzled as to what was the matter
 with her, and, had I been attending her as a general practitioner,
 should probably have seen her once or twice a day; but there was a
 doctor in the house, and my habit is to act as a consulting physician,
 and not as a general practitioner._ I had to leave town for a distant
 engagement, but before I left I wrote to Dr. Pritchard to inquire how
 his wife was, and received the reply that she was better. I wrote also
 to her brother, Mr. Michael Taylor, _as I was very much puzzled with
 the case_, and asked to be backed up by him in forbidding the use of
 stimulants. On my return Dr. Pritchard called, and left word that his
 wife was better, and that I need not call again. I do not think that
 there was any fever at all.”

In his _cross-examination_ Mr. Clark, in consequence of Dr. Pritchard
having said to the witness that it was a case of catalepsy, elicited
that Dr. Pritchard was somewhat careless in his nomenclature of
disease—“that he spoke occasionally a little at random, and was not a
model of wisdom, accuracy, and caution, in applying names to things;”
and that, in writing to her brother—who had been a fellow-student with
him—“he had not indicated to him that there had been any foul play,
but nothing more than improper treatment.”

_Dr. James Paterson_, who gave his evidence with an apparently strong
feeling against the prisoner, a man of very large experience, living
within two hundred yards of Dr. Pritchard’s house, had been called in a
little before eleven on the night of the 24th of February, to see the

 “Dr. Pritchard,” said the witness, “met me in his hall, and conducted
 me to the bedroom, telling me that his mother-in-law, whilst in
 the act of writing a letter, had fallen off her chair on to the
 floor, and been conveyed upstairs about half an hour before I came.
 She and his wife, said the prisoner, had partaken of some bitter
 beer for supper, and soon after both became sick and vomited, and
 complained of its being more bitter than usual. From the quantity
 remaining in the bottle they could not have taken more than a third
 of a pint each.[144] I asked in regard to the previous state of his
 mother-in-law’s health, and particularly as to her social habits,
 when he led me distinctly to understand that she drank spirits
 occasionally. He also stated that his wife had been very poorly for
 some time with gastric fever, and that, some days previously, he had
 telegraphed for her mother to come and nurse her. On entering the
 bedroom I observed Mrs. Taylor lying on the edge of the bed nearest
 to me on her right side, with all her clothes on. She had all the
 appearance of a sudden seizure. Mrs. Pritchard, in her night-dress
 and nothing on her head, and her hair very much dishevelled, was in
 the same bed, but underneath the clothes, sitting up immediately
 beyond her mother. Mrs. Taylor was then alive, and she gave me the
 impression of a healthy-looking old lady, and previously in very
 good health—rather beyond the usual size, well-formed; a very
 superior-looking person, not having the slightest appearance of being
 addicted to the use of spirituous or intoxicating liquors. Her face
 was rather pale, but the expression was calm and placid. The eyelids
 partially closed, the lips rather pale and livid; the breathing slow
 and laborious; the skin cool, and covered with a clammy perspiration;
 the pulse almost imperceptible, and she seemed to me perfectly
 unconscious. On my opening up the eyelids, I found both pupils very
 much contracted. From these symptoms, and judging from her general
 appearance, my conviction was that she was under the influence of
 opium or of some other powerful narcotic, and I at once pronounced my
 opinion that she was dying.

 “I and Dr. Pritchard retired a little from the bedside, and went
 to the fireplace, and I then stated distinctly that she was dying.
 Pritchard said she had frequently had attacks of a similar kind
 before, but never one so severe. I said, nothing that we could do
 would have the slightest effect, but that, as a last resource, we
 might try mustard poultices to the soles of the feet, the calves of
 the legs, and the inside of the thighs, and as quickly as possible
 administer a strong turpentine enema. Pritchard at once proceeded to
 prepare the enema, and said he had a little before given her one,
 in which he had administered a glass of brandy. The old lady lay
 apparently comatose, or unconscious; but on being roused a little,
 and the head and shoulders slightly elevated, there was a degree of
 consciousness came on, and the pulse became perceptible at the wrist.
 She had not manifested consciousness before. I directed Pritchard’s
 attention to the pulse, and he then clapped the old lady on the
 shoulder and said, ‘You are getting better, darling.’ I looked at him
 and shook my head ominously, as much as to say, ‘Never in this world.’
 A slight fit of retching now came on, and she put up a small quantity
 of a frothy kind of mucus, immediately after which the ‘coma,’ or
 insensibility, returned—the breathing became more oppressed, more
 laboured, and the alvine evacuations were passed involuntarily, I
 then concluded that the case was hopeless, but Pritchard administered
 his enema. I then left the room, and went downstairs with Pritchard to
 his consulting room, and there repeated my opinion that she was in a
 state of narcotism. Pritchard then said that the old lady was in the
 habit of regularly using Battley’s Sedative Solution, and that she
 had a few days before purchased not less than a half-pound bottle of
 that medicine, and that he had no doubt, or it was very likely, that
 she might have taken a good swig of it. I know that medicine, but
 seldom use it. My impression was that she was not what is called an
 opium-eater, or one that used opium to any great extent. She presented
 no appearance of that.”

At this visit Dr. Paterson’s attention was forcibly attracted to the
appearances presented by Mrs. Pritchard.

 “She seemed,” said the witness, “exceedingly weak and exhausted.
 Her features were sharp or thin, with a high hectic flush on her
 cheeks, and her voice was very weak and peculiar—in fact, very much
 resembling a person verging into the collapsed stage of cholera. The
 expression of her countenance conveyed to me the idea of a kind of
 silly or semi-imbecile person at the time. At first I was inclined
 to attribute her appearance to the recent severe attack of gastric
 fever, which I was told by the prisoner she had had, and her symptoms
 aggravated, of course, by the great consternation and grief not
 unnaturally caused by the sudden and alarming condition of her mother.
 At the same time I must say that I could not banish from my mind the
 idea, or rather conviction, that her symptoms betokened that she was
 under the depressing influence of antimony—that conviction came upon
 me while in her presence, and I could not get quit of it. I did not
 put a single question to her.”

At half-past eleven Dr. Paterson went home, and about one the next
morning he was sent for again, but refused to go, as he was certain he
could do nothing, but sent word that he would do so if Dr. Pritchard
thought he could be of any use. No answer came, and it was not until
the Saturday morning that he heard of Mrs. Taylor’s death, when her
husband called on him to ask him to certify the cause of death, and
the duration of her disease. This he refused, telling Mr. Taylor that
that document was not given to friends of the deceased, but only to
the Registrar. Soon after Dr. Paterson received from the Registrar
the usual form to fill up, which he returned at once in blank as it
came, with this note:—“Dear Sir,—I am surprised that I am called on
to certify the cause of death in this case. I only saw the person for
a few minutes a very short period before her death. She seemed to be
under some narcotic; but Dr. Pritchard, who was present from the first
moment of the illness until death occurred, and which happened in his
own house, may certify the cause. The death was certainly sudden,
unexpected, and to me mysterious.” The words “the cause of death” he
rendered emphatic by underlining them. That was the only communication
which he made to anyone, beyond speaking about it in his own family.
The certificate was eventually given by Dr. Pritchard, assigning as the
cause of death “paralysis for twelve hours as the primary cause, and
the secondary, apoplexy,” the duration of which had been one hour.[145]

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 1st of March he met Pritchard accidentally, who asked him to
come and see his wife, which he did the next day.[146]

 “She was in bed, still very weak and prostrate, and in a weak voice
 expressed her satisfaction and her gratitude at my calling. Then,
 in a very earnest manner, she asked me if I really thought that her
 mother was dying when I saw her. I said most decidedly I did, and
 had told Pritchard so. She then clasped her hands, looked up, and
 feebly exclaimed, ‘Good God, is it possible!’ and burst into a flood
 of tears. I put some questions then as to her mother’s previous state
 of health, especially if she was habitually addicted to the use of
 Battley’s solution. She told me that her mother’s health, generally
 speaking, was good, but that she suffered occasionally from what she
 called neuralgic headaches, and for relief of these attacks she did
 take a little Battley’s solution; but she added that she could not be
 said to be in the habitual use of that medicine.

 “I then questioned her about herself. She told me that for a
 considerable time past she had suffered very much from sickness,
 retching, and vomiting, with severe pains in the stomach and
 throughout the bowels, accompanied with purgings, great heat and
 uneasiness about the throat and mouth, and a constant urgent thirst.
 I examined her tongue; it was very foul, and of a lightish brown
 colour. Her features were still very sharp and deeply flushed. Her
 pulse was weak, contracted, and very rapid. Her skin was moist, but
 defective in animal heat, and altogether she presented the appearance
 of great general prostration. Her eyes were watery, but clear and
 intelligent. I prescribed for her small quantities of brandy and
 champagne to recruit her strength, and small pieces of ice to relieve
 the thirst and irritability of her stomach. If she tired of these, she
 should have recourse to granulated citrate of magnesia as a cooling
 effervescent drink, and have a mustard poultice applied on the pit
 of the stomach—these were verbal directions. I also recommended, at
 short intervals, small quantities of easily digested nutritious food,
 such as beef tea, calves’ foot jelly, chicken soup, arrowroot, and so
 on. I then wrote a prescription for 12 grains of camomile, 24 of blue
 or gray powder, 12 of powdered ipecacuanha, and 6 grains of aromatic
 powder, to be carefully mixed and divided into six parts, one to be
 taken daily, to relieve the biliary disturbance and soothe the mucous
 lining of the alimentary canal. I gave her the prescription, and told
 her to show it to Pritchard when he came home.”

From then until the day before her death the witness did not see
Mrs. Pritchard. On the 5th of March Dr. Pritchard had called on him,
and reported that his wife was better for his advice, but still very
weakly, and her stomach irritable, and had been strongly advised by Dr.
Paterson to continue the treatment he had recommended.

 “On Friday evening,” continued the witness, “Dr. Pritchard called
 upon me personally and requested me to come and see his wife. I did
 so. She was in bed in a sitting posture, supported by pillows, and I
 was very much struck with her terribly altered appearance. She seemed
 quite conscious. I went up to her bedside and she caught my hand, and
 I could see a half-smile of recognition on her countenance. She very
 soon began to mutter something about her having been vomiting. Dr.
 Pritchard was standing beside me, and he volunteered to say that she
 had not been vomiting—that she was raving. She complained of great
 thirst, and Pritchard poured some water out of a _carafe_ into a
 tumbler and gave it her, and she drank it. I observed her countenance
 very much changed from what it had been when I saw her last. Her
 cheeks were hollow, sharp, pinched-looking, and still very much
 flushed. There was a peculiarly wild expression: the eyes were of a
 fiery red and sunk-looking. Her pulse was very weak and exceedingly
 rapid. Her tongue was a darkish brown colour, very foul; and she
 immediately began to grasp with her hand as if to catch some imaginary
 object on the bedclothes. She muttered something about the clock,
 but there was none in the room. I expressed my surprise at the great
 change and alarming appearances, and asked Pritchard how long she had
 been confined to bed since I saw her. He said only since morning, that
 yesterday and yesterday afternoon she was in the drawing room amusing
 herself with the children. I again expressed my surprise at her
 alarming condition. He said she had not slept for four or five nights,
 and I replied that we must endeavour to procure some refreshing sleep.
 We went downstairs, and I then prescribed 30 drops of solution of
 morphia, 30 drops of ipecacuanha wine, 10 drops of chlorodyne, and an
 ounce of cinnamon water, to be taken every four hours if the first
 dose did not give relief. Pritchard wrote the prescription at my
 dictation. I said it was unnecessary; it was simple, and he might mix
 it himself. I was anxious to save time, and give relief as soon as
 possible. He said he kept no medicines but chloroform and Battley’s
 solution; he did not keep a small stock for any emergency, which I
 thought strange.[147] I then left the house, and at one o’clock the
 next morning a message came that Mrs. Pritchard was dying, and in less
 than three minutes after another that she was dead. I never entered
 Dr. Pritchard’s house except on the occasions I have mentioned. I
 never told him that I thought his wife had taken too much wine, and I
 never recommended Dublin stout for her.”[148]

The _cross-examination_ of Dr. Paterson was confined to two points,
the grounds on which he held that Mrs. Taylor had not the appearance
of having been in the habit of using opium, and his conduct in not
disclosing to some member of her family the impression he had formed
that Mrs. Pritchard was being slowly poisoned by antimony. “When a
person is in the habit of taking opium to a great extent,” he said,
“you generally find that they are not very good in colour. They are
generally thin in features and hollow about the eyes—in fact, not of
a healthy appearance. Mrs. Taylor being stout and healthy-looking, my
impression was that she was not an habitual consumer of opium, though
she might take it occasionally as medicine.” On the second point he
stood on professional etiquette as a consulting physician, and not the
regular medical attendant, insisting that he had no right to revisit
his patient unless sent for, and saying that he believed he should
never have been called in the second time had he not accidentally met
Dr. Pritchard in the street.

 “His first impression arose simply from seeing Mrs. Pritchard at the
 time of her mother’s fatal seizure, when he formed his diagnosis from
 the symptoms that were present, just as he was in the habit of forming
 his opinion of any patient he saw for the first time—judging from
 symptomatology, the science of the signs of disease. It was not his
 duty to interfere in the family without being invited, as there was
 another doctor in the house, and he did the best he could by apprising
 the registrar when refusing to sign the certificate of Mrs. Taylor’s
 death. Had he been called in consultation with another medical man,
 he should have felt it his duty to state his medical opinion; and
 had there been a _post-mortem_ examination of Mrs. Taylor’s body at
 the time, he believed that in all probability the drugging of Mrs.
 Pritchard with antimony would have gone no further, at least at that

When called in the second time on the 2nd of March, he said:—

 “I believed her to be suffering under poisoning by antimony,”

and I prescribed accordingly. I saw her alone, but I did not give
her any indication of what I thought her ailment. I did not mention
antimony or poison in the slightest. I did not give her any idea
that she was labouring under any but a natural disease, because the
treatment which I prescribed for her, provided she got nothing else,
was in my mind quite sufficient to have very soon brought her round,
taking it for granted that my advice was carefully walked up to. I
did not mention to Dr. Pritchard that his wife was being poisoned by
antimony. It would not have been a very safe matter to have done so.
I did not go back the next day to see if my advice had been acted on.
I did not consider that she was my patient at all. I had no right or
title to go back and see her. In any case where a consultation is held,
the consulting physician has no right to go back to see the patient; it
would be a breach of the etiquette of the profession.”[149]

On _re-examination_ Dr. Paterson stoutly adhered to his opinion that
his being called in to see Mrs. Pritchard was purely accidental, and
that it would not have been very natural to have communicated his
suspicions to the husband.


The prisoner, when it was suggested by Dr. Paterson that he should mix
in his own consulting-room the prescription, on the 17th of March, told
the doctor that he did not, like other medical men, keep in his house
a small stock of medicines for any emergency. It was, however, proved
that in the presses in his room were at least five-and-thirty bottles
of medicinal preparations, and several papers and bottles of poisons;
and that he had been a constant purchaser of poisons, and especially of
Fleming’s tincture of aconite and tartarised antimony, from September,
1864, to as late as the 16th of March, 1865.[150] According to the
witnesses for the prosecution, the quantities of antimony and tincture
of aconite bought by him were largely in excess of the amounts sold to
other medical men, though not so according to the experience of two
druggists called by the prisoner. Anyhow, as will be seen by the list
in the note, the purchases were larger than could have been required
in any ordinary practice. Besides the phials and papers subsequently
proved to contain poison, in one of the presses was a bottle labelled
Battley’s solution, which was found to contain an appreciable quantity
of antimony, to the extent of 1·5 of a grain per fluid ounce, and the
remainder of the tapioca to be charged with 4·62 grains of antimony to
the pound. A phial containing 3·5 grains of tartarised antimony, and
three others containing tincture of conium, and six other phials with
small portions of tincture of aconite, conium, and digitalis, were
found in the prisoner’s cupboard. In the chloroform, no metallic poison
was discovered; but in a small wooden box with a screw cover were 15·5
grains of tartarised antimony and arsenious acid (the common poison
of arsenic), in nearly equal proportions; 35 grains of tartarised
antimony in a pasteboard box, and about ten drops of aqueous solution
of corrosive sublimate were found in a quart wine-bottle.[151]



On the 29th and 30th of March the exhumed body of Mrs. Taylor was
medically and chemically examined by _Dr. Maclagan_, the professor of
medical jurisprudence in the university of Edinburgh, and _Dr. Henry
Duncan Littlejohn_, surgeon of the Edinburgh police. In accordance
with the admirable practice of the Scotch courts these experts gave
in formal certificates “on soul and conscience,” which were read in
court before any personal examination was allowed. The medical report,
after detailing the healthy condition in which the different portions
of the body were found, concluded by stating that the examiners “had
not been able to discover in the body any morbid appearances capable of
accounting for death, and that they were of opinion that the cause of
death could not be determined without chemical analysis, and that for
that purpose they had secured the alimentary canal and its contents,
the heart and some of the blood, the liver, the kidneys, the bladder
and uterus, and a portion of the brain,” which had been entrusted to
Dr. Maclagan, of whose report the substance is now given:—

 “_Contents of stomach_, amounting to five ounces, having been first
 tested for vegetable poisons, and then for meconic acid, without
 success, ‘the residues of the above process were tested for mineral
 poisons; and a preliminary trial, by Reinsch’s method, having revealed
 the presence of antimony, I subjected the whole to a process by which
 I was enabled to determine the amount of this metal (process then
 described). Assuming, for reasons afterwards to be given, that the
 antimony existed in the form of tartar emetic, the amount of this
 represented by the sulphuret which I obtained from the stomach was a
 little more than a quarter of a grain (0·279).

 “_Contents of intestines._—The whole contents were evaporated at a
 gentle heat on the water-bath, and a dry residue obtained, weighing
 430 grains. Ten grains of this, by Reinsch’s process, yielded a
 characteristic deposit of antimony. To determine in what form this
 antimony existed, other ten grains were treated with distilled water,
 the solution filtered, and the fluid subjected to Reinsch’s process.
 A characteristic antimonial deposit was obtained, thus proving that
 this metal was present in a soluble form. There are only two soluble
 forms of antimony met with in commerce. One of these, the chloride,
 is a dark-coloured, acid, corrosive fluid, totally unsuited for
 internal administration. The other is what is known scientifically as
 ‘tartarised antimony,’ and popularly as ‘tartar emetic,’ a colourless
 substance possessed of comparatively little taste, and in daily use
 as a medicinal agent. I have no doubt it was in this form that the
 antimony had been taken, which I found in the alimentary canal of
 Mrs. Taylor. I endeavoured to determine the amount of antimony in
 the contents of the intestines, but the deposit was too small to
 enable me with confidence to make it the subject of a quantitative
 determination. No arsenic was found.

 “_The Blood._—From one ounce a characteristic antimonial deposit was

 “_The Liver._—By operating on 1000 grains of this, I obtained a
 quantity of sulphuret, indicating that the whole liver contained one
 grain and one-tenth (1·151) of tartar emetic. I also examined the
 other solid organs and tissues removed from Mrs. Taylor’s body, in
 each case following Reinsch’s method, and in each case obtaining on
 copper a characteristic antimonial deposit. I thus found that there
 was more or less of antimony present in the muscular substance of the
 heart, the spleen, the kidney, the coats of the stomach, and of the
 rectum, the uterus, and the brain.

 “_Lastly._ As Mrs. Taylor’s body had been exhumed, I thought it my
 duty to examine some of the earth in which it had been interred,
 though this was superfluous, from the fact of the soil being dry, and
 the coffin entire: it was not found to contain a trace of soluble
 antimony, and was therefore incapable of impregnating with this metal
 any body buried in it.”


On the 21st of March a similar examination was made of the body of Mrs.
Pritchard three days after death by the same medical men, who reported
“that it presented no appearances of recent morbid action beyond a
certain irritation of the alimentary canal, and nothing at all capable
of accounting for death.” They had therefore secured for chemical
analysis those parts of the body which they deemed likely to disclose
the cause of death. As a portion of this analysis had been conducted
during the temporary absence of Dr. Maclagan in London by Dr. Gamgee
and Dr. Littlejohn, previously to the report being read they were
called to prove that Dr. Maclagan’s report of what they had done in his
absence was correct. The following was the substance of the report of
the chemical analysis:—

 “(1.) _Contents of stomach_ amounted to little more than ½ an ounce,
 and free from all odour of any poisonous drug. Not a trace of any
 vegetable poison or of antimony was found.

 “(2.) _Urine._—The presence of antimony having already been
 ascertained in a portion of this secretion, the remainder (7 ounces)
 was employed to determine the quantity. The process followed was
 that by which antimony is obtained in the form of the sulphuret,
 after destroying the organic matter by means of hydrochloric acid
 and potash. The quantity was readily weighed, and found to be rather
 more than one-tenth of a grain (0·1078). This corresponds to nearly
 one-fourth of a grain (0·121) of tartar emetic.

 “(3.) _The Bile._—A little more than ½ an ounce of this fluid was
 obtained from the gall-bladder. By Reinsch’s process 50 minims
 readily gave an antimonial deposit. The remainder (4 drachms) used to
 determine the amount, yielded sulphuret of antimony corresponding to
 more than one-tenth of a grain (0·121) of tartar emetic.

 “(4.) _The Blood._—1 ounce, by Reinsch’s process, readily gave
 evidence of the presence of antimony.

 “(5.) _The Liver._—The weight was 36 ounces, a portion of which,
 weighing less than 4 ounces (1460 grains), by Reinsch’s process, gave
 sufficient antimony to coat rather more than four square inches of
 copper foil. (This experiment was satisfactorily tested by another
 process described in the report.) As to quantity, 1,000 grains gave of
 sulphuret of antimony 0·1234 grains, corresponding to a quarter of a
 grain of tartar emetic, making the whole amount contained in the liver
 almost exactly 4 grains (3·93 grains).

 “I next examined the remainder of the solid organs removed from the
 body of Mrs. Pritchard, and found more or less antimony in the whole
 of them.

 “I also examined certain articles of clothing and bed-linen handed to
 me by the officer, and in the stains on four of them—the chemise, two
 sheets, and a toilet-cover, on which was a stain as of wine—I found
 antimony. From these experiments I have been led to the following

 “(1.) Mrs. Pritchard had taken a large quantity of antimony in the
 form of tartar emetic.

 “(2.) Having regard to the absence in her body of any morbid
 appearances sufficient to account for death, and to the presence in it
 of a substance known as capable of destroying life, her death must be
 ascribed to the action of antimony.

 “(3.) That it is most unlikely that this poison was taken in a single
 large dose. Had this been the case, I should have expected to have
 found some more decided evidence of irritant action in the mouth, the
 throat, or the alimentary canal.

 “(4.) That from the extent to which the whole organs and fluids of the
 body were impregnated with it, it must have been taken in repeated
 doses, the aggregate of which must have amounted to a large quantity.

 “(5.) That from the large amount found in the liver, from its ready
 detection in the blood, and from its being found passing so copiously
 out of the body by the bile and the urine, it is probable that some of
 the poison had been taken at no greater interval than a period of a
 few days previous to death.

 “(6.) That I am inclined to believe that it had not been administered,
 at all events in any great quantity, within a few hours of her death.
 Had this been the case, I should have expected to have found at least
 some traces of it in the contents of the stomach, and more in those
 of the intestines; whereas none was found in the former, and the
 amount found in the latter seems to be amply accounted for by the bile
 impregnated with the poison discharged into them from the liver.

 “(7.) That the period over which the administration had extended
 cannot be determined by mere chemical investigation, but must be
 deduced from the history of the case, with which I am unacquainted.”

_Dr. Maclagan_ then stated what portions of the bodies he had handed to
Professor Penny for further analysis, and described the result of his
examination of the solid residue obtained from Mrs. Pritchard’s body by
the process adopted by Dr. Gamgee and Dr. Littlejohn.

 “I determined the presence of mercury, and found a considerable
 quantity of antimony remaining in it. I got a clear fluid by operating
 on that residue with chlorate of potash and hydrochloric acid; and
 then passing sulphuretted hydrogen, I got a precipitate of a dirty
 orange colour, which was collected, washed and boiled in strong
 hydrochloric acid. The yellow colour disappeared, and the precipitate
 became black. The hydrochloric solution was then mixed with water
 and tartaric acid, and it gave an orange precipitate which, when
 collected and weighed, amounted to 0.082, equal on the whole to 1.265
 of sulphuret of antimony—rather more than a grain and a quarter—in
 the whole of the solid residue. This was in addition to what had been
 found in the intestines after the precipitate had been obtained by
 Dr. Gamgee and Dr. Littlejohn. A grain and a quarter of sulphuret
 of antimony is equal to two and a half of tartar emetic; the amount
 of tartar emetic in the whole of the intestines would be about five
 grains and three-quarters (5.712).”

_In cross-examination, Dr. Maclagan_ deposed to the discovery of
about the three hundredth part of a grain of mercury in the 50 grains
of sulphuret; that in some cases he was not content with the mere
presence of the deposit on the foil, but boiled the copper foil in
potash—namely, with the contents of the intestines and with the
liver—but otherwise was content with the coloured deposit.

_Dr. Frederick Penny_ then gave in his reports on the portions of the
bodies of Mrs. Taylor and Mrs. Pritchard, given to him by Dr. Maclagan.
The following is the substance of the report in Mrs. Pritchard’s case:—

 “_Dried Contents of Intestines._—By the first process employed an
 abundant black precipitate was obtained, which by proper treatment
 was separated into sulphide of antimony and sulphide of mercury.
 The sulphide of antimony, which was obtained of a fine orange-red
 colour, was washed, dried, and weighed. Its weight corresponded to
 a quantity of metallic arsenic equal to 2.1 grains in one thousand
 parts of the dried contents of the stomach. The same sulphide was
 found to be readily soluble in sulphide of ammonium, and also in
 hydrochloric acid; and the acid solution, when poured into water, gave
 a white precipitate, and when boiled with copper ribbon deposited
 a violet-coloured coating on the surface of the copper. The coated
 copper, on being heated in a glass tube, gave no distinct crystalline
 sublimate. All these results are eminently characteristic of sulphide
 of antimony when thus treated.

 “The sulphide of mercury gave metallic mercury corresponding to 3
 grains in 1,000 grains of the dried contents of the intestines.
 The report then states how these tests were confirmed by further
 experiments on the solution by Reinsch’s test supplemented by that of

 “_Stomach_, by the same methods, yielded antimony in appreciable
 proportions, equal to 0.5 of a grain in 1,000 parts, but no mercury;
 that it was afterwards treated for morphia and aconite, but not a
 trace of these substances was obtained.

 “_Liver_ found to contain antimony equal to one-tenth of a grain in
 1,000 parts, but no mercury.

 “_Spleen_ yielded antimony in about the same proportion as the liver,
 and also contained mercury in well-marked quantity.

 “_Kidney_ about the same proportion as the liver, and a minute trace
 of mercury.

 “_Heart_ yielded antimony in a proportion rather larger than that
 found in the liver, and less mercury than in the spleen.

 “_Brain_ yielded antimony in less quantity than the liver, and no

 “_Blood_ yielded a small quantity of antimony, and a faint trace of

 “_Rectum_, antimony in less quantity than the liver, and no
 indications of mercury.”

In the case of Mrs. Taylor, _Dr. Penny_ reported:—

 “That all the articles submitted to him (liver, stomach, heart,
 kidney, rectum, blood, and dried contents of intestines), and
 subjected to analysis, contained antimony; (2), that the contents of
 the intestines contained the largest proportion of antimony (0.583
 parts in 1,000 parts); next, the liver and stomach (0.047 of a grain
 in 1,000 grains in each); then the blood, and, in less quantity,
 the heart, kidney, and rectum; (3), that part of the antimony in
 the contents of the intestines was in a form soluble in water; (4),
 that the kidney was the only article in which mercury was detected;
 (5), that neither the stomach, nor the contents of the intestines,
 contained aconite or morphia in quantity sufficient to be detected by
 known chemical processes; (6), that the articles subjected to analysis
 contained no other metallic poison than antimony and mercury as
 reported above.”

_Dr. Penny_ also handed in his reports of the examination of the
contents of the cupboards in Dr. Pritchard’s consulting room, the
substance of which has already been given. In the first of these
reports, that of the 17th of May, Dr. Penny had stated that he was at
present engaged in testing the bottle of Battley’s solution (in which
he had discovered antimony) for other substances, the result of which
inquiry he now detailed:—

 “I looked for mercury and other metals. I searched for aconite, and
 also for conium. I found aconite. This is tested chiefly by the taste
 of the abstract obtained by evaporation, and by its physiological
 action upon small animals. A portion of the fluid was evaporated
 to dryness, and the extract thus obtained was very carefully
 tasted, or its effects upon the tongue and on the lips ascertained
 by applying them to it. The effects were a tingling and benumbing
 sensation—characteristic of aconite. To another portion of the
 extract, dissolved in water, ammonia was added, and a precipitate
 was separated and examined in the same way, after being dissolved
 in diluted hydrochloric acid. The benumbing and tingling sensation
 produced by that precipitate was very slight. But the ammoniacal
 liquid, after the separation of the precipitate, was treated with
 hydrochloric acid, and evaporated, and the sensation produced by this
 residue was very strong.

 “With a view to ascertain the character of aconite when mixed with
 Battley’s solution, I mixed known quantities of tincture of aconite
 with Battley’s solution, treating the mixtures in the same way. I took
 Fleming’s tincture and the results were precisely similar; but when
 the proportion of aconite was equal to 5 per cent., the sensation was
 by no means strong; but when it was in the proportion of 10 per cent.,
 it gave a sensation, though the same, much stronger than that of the
 liquid in the bottle. I draw the conclusion, therefore, that in this
 solution the proportion was between 5 and 10 per cent. I purchased
 genuine Battley’s solution at several establishments in Glasgow,
 including that of ‘Murdoch Brothers,’ and was satisfied that none of
 them contained either antimony or aconite.”

_Dr. Penny_ then detailed his experiments with pure and impure
Battley’s solution on rabbits. Genuine Battley, when injected under
the skin, did not kill; 40 grain drops from the bottle found in Mrs.
Taylor’s dress did.

 “I made in all about ten experiments with the genuine Battley’s mixed
 with Fleming’s aconite. I will tell you the result of two experiments.
 In one set I injected a mixture of Battley into three young rabbits,
 and in a third into full grown rabbits. In the first set with young
 rabbits I injected 10 grains of genuine Battley’s solution. In the
 second experiment with a young rabbit I injected 10 grains of this
 Battley’s (that found in the prisoner’s cupboard); in the third, I
 injected a mixture of 9 grains of genuine Battley, and 1 grain of
 Fleming’s tincture of aconite. In the cases of the old rabbits I
 proceeded in a similar way, only increasing the dose to 40 grains.
 The symptoms manifested by the rabbits, old and young, subjected to
 the action of genuine Battley, were simple in character and few in
 number, and were not materially altered by the variation of the dose.
 The animal soon assumed a prone position, resting on the belly and
 chest, and the head invariably resting on the ground. The forelegs
 were either sprawling or gathered under the body, the hind legs always
 extended sideways; the eyes remained open, and the pupils were natural
 and not contracted; the breathing was invariably gentle; no cries
 were uttered, and no convulsions or spasms of the body were apparent.
 There was a complete condition of inanity, and, with the exception
 of the open state of the eyes, the animal seemed to be in a state of
 profound sleep. There was no indication of spasmodic movement, and,
 when aroused and urged to motion, the movements were always performed
 in a crawling, tortoise-like manner. In this state the animal remained
 for several hours, and then gradually recovered.

 “The effects produced by the mixture of genuine Battley with aconite
 presented a striking contrast to those resulting from pure Battley.
 Very soon after the injection the animal became restless and uneasy,
 and then began to crouch, resting on its flank, with the hind legs
 extending laterally, and the head erect. It next assumed a sitting
 posture, in an attitude of watchful expectancy, and commenced to
 twitch its lips and move its jaws as if chewing. Suddenly it staggers,
 rolls over, and quickly regains its feet. Saliva begins to flow
 from the mouth, and soon after piteous and peculiar choking cries
 are emitted. Its head is retracted, and the breathing is painfully
 laborious. Convulsions now set in, followed by intervals in which the
 limbs are quite relaxed, and the animal lies helpless on its side.
 Frantic leaps are now frequently taken, accompanied by movements of
 a paralytic character. A state of utter prostration also occurs,
 variable in duration, and then a strong convulsion comes on, during
 which, or immediately after which, the animal expires, the limbs
 becoming instantly relaxed.

 “_The symptoms exhibited by the rabbits subjected to the Battley from
 the prisoner’s cupboard responded in every important respect with the
 effects produced by this mixture, and it was impossible to detect any
 essential difference in them._”

The Battley’s solution used by Dr. Penny was not purchased from
“Murdoch Brothers,” but he had purchased and analysed some from that
house, and it was exactly similar to that which he had used. He had
also been present when the same experiments as his were tried on
rabbits by Dr. Maclagan, in the presence of Drs. Christison, Gamgee,
and Littlejohn, with the same result as in his experiments. Dr. Penny
was then examined on Dr. Maclagan’s report of his _post-mortem_
examination of Mrs. Pritchard’s body, and on the symptoms exhibited by
her from the time she was taken ill in 1865 down to her death. Replying
purely as a chemist, and not as a medical man, he declared them to
correspond with the action of tartar emetic or tartarised antimony. He
further accounted for the presence of the small portions of mercury by
the administration of Dr. Paterson’s powders, _Hydrargyrum cum creta_,
shortly before death. In Mrs. Taylor’s case he considered the vomitings
to be the result of the antimony, which had been traced by the
analyses, and repeated the conclusions, already given, to his reports
on both bodies.

_Dr. Maclagan_, who was recalled, declared that the whole of the
symptoms in Mrs. Pritchard’s case, from Christmas, 1864, until her
death—the sickness and vomiting, muscular depression, irritation
of the bowels, and cramp in the stomach—were symptoms of poisoning
by antimony, and could not, as a medical man, suggest any natural
disease to which they were due, that he could assign as the cause of
death. He had never seen antimony when rubbed into the skin (referring
to the prisoner’s statement that he had done so for a swollen gland
in his wife’s neck) produce any constitutional effect. The fact of
Mrs. Pritchard some years ago having taken antimony internally for
inflammation of the eyelids would not account for the symptoms; and
he agreed with Dr. Penny that the traces of mercury were due to the
powders prescribed by Dr. Paterson. “There was nothing in the case,” he
added, “to indicate to a medical man of ordinary intelligence that she
was suffering from gastric fever, or any other fever”; and he adhered
to the conclusions already given in his report, that she had been
poisoned by minute doses of antimony in the form of tartar emetic given
at intervals over a long period of time.

Dr. Maclagan attributed Mrs. Taylor’s death to something more than
antimony—some powerful, depressing poison.

 “The symptoms,” he said, “might be produced by aconite—being found
 with her head fallen on her neck, and hardly observed to breathe, her
 pulse almost if not absolutely imperceptible, and the dozing, torpid
 state in which she lay, were such as would result from aconite. Though
 he might know in a case that aconite had been taken, he might not
 be able to find it by chemical analysis: these organic poisons—all
 the alkaloids—are very often not found, though known to have been
 taken. The administration of opium might diminish the effect of
 antimony in causing vomiting and purging, but its depressing effect
 on the muscular system would still remain; and if opium, aconite,
 and antimony were being administered at the same time, he should
 anticipate symptoms such as appeared in Mrs. Taylor’s case. Taking the
 symptoms and the results of the _post-mortem_ examination together,
 the idea of apoplexy was satisfactorily excluded from his judgment;
 and assuming the correctness of Dr. Paterson’s description of the
 symptoms he saw, he should not have concluded that it was apoplexy,
 nor did he think any other medical man would have. He was satisfied
 with the presence of aconite in the Battley’s solution, without the
 experiments on the rabbits, which only confirmed it.”

The _cross-examination_ of this witness was directed to the question
whether the symptoms in Mrs. Taylor’s case did not indicate poisoning
by opium, probably arising from an overdose of Battley’s solution.

 “I saw,” said the witness, “no precise indications of poisoning by
 opium, though I cannot say that she had not taken some. I think
 aconite was the leading feature in the final part of the case. The
 symptoms described by Dr. Paterson did not, in my mind, indicate
 poisoning by opium or laudanum at all. They were not inconsistent with
 her having taken opium, but they were not consistent with her having
 been poisoned by it, and with the ordinary symptoms. The symptoms
 of aconite predominated. If she had taken opium alone I should have
 expected to find the pulse full and slow, and probably the breathing
 laborious and stertorous. Though these were absent, I could not say
 that she had not taken opium, particularly if she had been accustomed
 to its use.” _When reminded from the judge’s notes that Dr. Paterson
 had described the breathing as “laborious,” he said_, “It does not
 make much, indeed not any, modification of my view, because the
 condition of the pulse showed the action of aconite on the heart.
 Laborious breathing is an indication of many things besides opium.”
 _When reminded that Dr. Paterson spoke of her being in a state of
 “coma_,” he admitted that that generally indicated opium and not
 aconite, but added that here “it was more oppression than true coma,”
 and assumed that Dr. Paterson did not use the word scientifically, but
 as many persons did to describe insensibility. “_But,” said Mr. Clark,
 “you pointed to the absence of ‘coma’ as indicative of poisoning by
 aconite._” “I spoke of her,” replied Dr. Maclagan, “being in a torpid
 condition, which I think was connected with the weakened state of the
 circulation and not from fulness of the brain. Opium, like aconite,
 is a vegetable poison, and is absorbed into the system: a person may
 be poisoned by it without any trace remaining in the stomach or the
 system capable of being detected by chemical analysis. All mineral
 poisons are more easily detected, but I am not prepared to give into
 the statement broadly that a person cannot be poisoned by antimony
 without it being capable of detection, though I cannot recollect such
 a case. The quantity here found in both cases was considerable. The
 expectation is that the chemical analysis will detect it, but there
 may be exceptions. The fact that Mrs. Taylor’s eyes were contracted is
 an indication of poisoning by opium, but it also occurs in aconite,
 though the cases vary a good deal in that respect, from people, as
 I think, having observed the symptoms at different stages; and the
 probability is that contraction had been produced at first, and then
 relaxation at the time all the muscular parts became relaxed—namely,
 at the time of death. Aconite is applied externally in neuralgia.”[152]

_Dr. Littlejohn_, who was next called, concurred in the opinion that
there was nothing to indicate gastric fever in Mrs. Pritchard’s case,
and that her death was due to the continuous administration of small
doses of antimony from the commencement of her illness to the day of
her death, and that the result of the chemical analysis was such as
he should, on that supposition, have expected. On the cause of Mrs.
Taylor’s death he was not so certain.

 “It seemed to me,” said the witness, “that she might have died from a
 dose of antimony administered shortly before death, or else from some
 sedative narcotic poison. I have no difficulty in saying that she died
 of poison, but only as to the particular poison which killed her. I
 am inclined to believe that the symptoms in her case were mixed to
 some extent, like the symptoms of narcotic poison, and to some extent
 like the symptoms of antimony. There was nothing to show that she died
 of apoplexy, and the _post-mortem_ examination did not indicate any
 such. In the failure of circulation and great depression and spasms,
 and the state of insensibility, I recognise the action of antimony;
 in the later stages of antimonial poisoning we have generally great
 insensibility. The hot taste in the mouth and burning sensation in
 the throat after taking the bit of cheese suggest a large dose of
 antimony, and also suggest a strong dose of narcotic poison—they
 suggest many things besides cheese. That it caused violent sickness
 in the case of one of the servants for some hours is quite consistent
 with antimonial poisoning. In large quantities it would produce a
 burning sensation in the throat. I have tried it in large quantities,
 and the secondary sensation is always in the throat, and it did
 produce a burning sensation. That the egg flip gave the same effect
 in the case of the servant points to the use of antimony or some
 substance resembling it. Various other emetics might produce these
 effects. Egg flip is a convenient medium for administering antimony,
 as it readily dissolves in it, and sufficient antimony could be dusted
 on loaf sugar to produce sickness. Sugar is very porous, and antimony,
 being a white powder, could be dusted over it, and a large quantity
 absorbed in it—sufficient, not to kill, but to keep up the illness.”

In cross-examination, the witness adhered to his opinion as to the
suitableness of egg flip when the hot water had been poured on it, as
a medium for antimony, and to the possibility of a sufficient quantity
to produce sickness being conveyed into the cup on two pieces of loaf
sugar. Though he had not made any special experiments to support this
opinion, he considered himself, from his special acquaintance with
tartar emetic, entitled to answer in the way he had done. He did not
consider opium as a sedative but as a narcotic, and, in his opinion,
aconite was a sedative narcotic. There was nothing impossible for Mrs.
Taylor to take opium, and for that to contribute to the symptoms.

_Dr. Paterson_, who was re-called, was quite confirmed in his previous
opinion of the cause of Mrs. Pritchard’s death from the evidence he
had heard. Mrs. Taylor’s death, he thought, had been caused by opium,
but there might have been some other narcotic combined to him unknown,
and he thought that aconite and opium combined would contribute to
the effect and hurry the termination; but he never in his practice
had seen any person poisoned by such a combination. He had not the
slightest suspicion of antimony, and the narcotic effect was such when
he saw Mrs. Taylor that he did not believe that he could recognise the
effect of antimony. The narcotic effect would overpower the other, and
laudanum would interfere with the usual effect of antimony. What he
called stertorous breathing was rather oppressed breathing—snoring
and stertorous breathing were the same thing. “By coma,” he added, “I
meant insensibility—it means that, especially insensibility under
opium; and my impression was that it was opium alone, or some of its
preparations: it might be morphia.” Now that he had heard of the
discovery of antimony in the body, he believed the death to be due to a
combination of antimony and opium, a smaller dose of the latter being
likely to have a greater effect, in consequence of the condition of the
body produced by the former. If the opium contained upwards of five per
cent. of aconite, the effect, he considered, would be much more rapid
and more likely to be fatal.

On the conclusion of the medical testimony witnesses were called to
prove that at two banks in Glasgow, where Dr. Pritchard had accounts,
these were overdrawn on the 20th of March—that he borrowed to the
extent of £255 on his life policy, the last advance being as late
as the 13th of May—that his mother-in-law had advanced him £500
towards the purchase of his house, and that under her will he would
be entitled, in the event of the previous death of his wife, to the
interest on two-thirds of her property for the benefit of his children
until they attained twenty-one years, and then “for his own use as he
might consider proper.” Letters of Mrs. Taylor and Dr. Pritchard were
identified, in one of the latter being an entry under February 7th,
“Dr. J. M. C. here; on February 8th Dr. J. M. C. left”—namely, Dr.


In accordance with the Scotch practice, two declarations were made by
Dr. Pritchard before the sheriff, one on the 22nd of March, and the
other on the 21st of April. The _first declaration_ was as follows:—

 “I have always attended my wife in all her ailments of every kind
 during the whole period of our married lives, now fifteen years, and
 some of these illnesses were very severe; but I never saw her so ill
 as she was on the occasion which terminated fatally. As far as my
 judgment goes, her last illness was gastric fever, which commenced
 about the beginning of the present year. I gave my wife no medicines
 during her illness excepting wine, champagne, and brandy, to support
 her strength; and I gave her no medicines at all. I trusted to nature
 to right itself, with the assistance of these restoratives. During the
 last six weeks her power of sleeping entirely went away. In order to
 procure sleep I gave her, at the commencement of her sleeplessness,
 a small quantity of chloroform, but it entirely disagreed with her,
 and I discontinued it. I then called in Dr. Gairdner, professor of
 medicine in the university, and he visited and saw her several times;
 and he continued to attend her till her old medical friend, Dr. James
 M. Cowan, returned, and he came from Edinburgh to see her.[153] I then
 wrote to her mother to come and nurse her, and she arrived about the
 11th of February last; and her arrival had a beneficial effect upon
 Mrs. Pritchard for some time, but still the sleeplessness continued;
 and shortly after her mother’s death, which happened on the 25th of
 February, she relapsed and became much worse, and very apprehensive
 about herself, and she suggested to me the adoption of a medicine
 with which her mother was very familiar—Battley’s solution of
 opium—but I declined to give her any without first consulting Dr. J.
 Paterson, who lived close by. I saw him, and consulted him, but he
 did not see Mrs. Pritchard on that occasion, and he did not approve
 of using the solution of opium. He prescribed granulated citrate of
 magnesia, calomel, mercury, and chalk, and I acted on his advice
 and administered the medicine, and it seemed to have a beneficial
 effect.[154] Some time after, finding her sleeplessness still
 continued, I, at her own suggestion, applied a solution of atropine
 to the external parts of the eye, and it had a little effect for some
 time, but the effects soon ceased. After her mother’s death, she
 became rapidly worse; indeed, I ascribed her decease to the agitation
 consequent on her mother’s death. At the time of the last event she
 was strongly impressed with the idea that she would herself die at
 the same time as her mother; in fact, she did die on a subsequent day
 at exactly the same hour. On the night preceding her death she was
 apprehensive that, unless she got sleep, she should not get through
 the night. I went for Dr. Paterson, who came immediately and sat
 for a considerable time by the bedside, and afterwards dictated a
 prescription, which was made up at the Glasgow Apothecary Company’s
 shop at Elmbank-street. It will be found in my desk at home. It was
 for two draughts to be given four hours after the first if it did
 not succeed. She got the first draught as prescribed by Dr. Paterson
 about ten o’clock, but she said after drinking it that it was not
 half strong enough, and asked if she might have some of her mother’s
 medicine. I refused to give it her, and said I dare not do it. I gave
 her a glass of port wine, and sat carefully watching for a short time.
 I then went down stairs and had supper, and, after being absent for
 some time, returned to see if she had got to sleep. I found her awake,
 and she wished me to give her something to make her sleep. I refused,
 and she then asked me to come to bed, as I must be tired with the
 weary nights of watching. It was then about twelve o’clock. I tried
 to persuade her that I should sit up to watch her till past the time
 when her mother had died; but to please her I got into bed, and almost
 immediately I fell asleep from the state of exhaustion I was in; was
 awoke by her pulling at my beard, and found my wife struggling to get
 into bed. She appeared to have got out of bed. She said, ‘Edward, I
 am faint.’ I assisted her into bed, and asked her how long I had been
 asleep, but she answered, ‘Don’t speak; look! do you see my mother?’
 I said ‘No, it is only a vision; only imagination,’ and asked if she
 felt pain. She said she felt cold, and I need try no more skill; that
 I had failed this time, and that she was going to her mother. I got
 alarmed and rang the bell violently, and the youngest servant came. I
 desired her to make a mustard plaster as quickly as she could, and on
 that my wife turned round and said, ‘Edward, I’m in my senses; mustard
 plasters will do no good,’ and almost immediately she fell back in my
 arms and died. The servant came with the mustard plaster, and found
 her in that position. I did not give her any other medicine at that
 time except a little brandy applied to her lips.[155] During the whole
 course of her illness I never gave her any antimony, nor any medicine
 in which there was any preparation of antimony. Antimony is a poison,
 but it is used occasionally to subdue inflammations, and I applied it
 to her neck, in October last, when she was plagued with a swelling
 gland in the neck. I rubbed it in externally on that occasion,
 and I have never given her any antimony since. On that occasion I
 recommended change of air, and I gave her a little bottle of antimony
 with her for the same purpose of rubbing in behind the ear. She went
 to Edinburgh at that time, and she returned to Glasgow very much
 better, and I have never seen the bottle of antimony since she got
 it away with her. There was a considerable quantity of antimony in
 my repositories at the time of my wife’s last illness, as I used it
 extensively in my practice, and it was kept in a cupboard of which I
 had the key, but which was not always locked. I did not see any of
 it brought out, or lying about, during her illness. The cupboard
 where the antimony was is in the consulting-room on the ground flat,
 and she was so weak on the day of her death—Saturday—and on the
 Friday preceding, that I do not think she had strength to have gone
 to the cupboard herself. My wife took the antimony internally on one
 occasion when she had a tendency to inflammation of the eyelids. This
 was years ago, and I never knew her to use it internally, except on
 this occasion. I never administered antimony to her internally on any
 occasion, nor any other substance calculated to injure or destroy

In the _second declaration_, made on the 21st day of April, 1865,
he confirmed the correctness of the former one when read to him,
denied the charges as laid in the indictment, and elected to make the
following voluntary statement with reference to Mrs. Taylor’s death:—

 “I never administered poison to her. I did, and I do believe, that
 she died from paralysis and apoplexy. I have no further statements to
 make, and by the advice of my agent will make none, with the exception
 that I am entirely innocent of the charge preferred against me.”

Being asked by the Procurator Fiscal whether he ever administered or
caused to be administered to the said Jane Cowan or Taylor tartarised
antimony, declares:—

 “My agent recommended me to say nothing, and I decline to answer the
 question, and, as I act under my agent’s advice, it is unnecessary to
 put any further questions.”


With this evidence the prosecution was closed late on the third day,
and on the next the defence was opened by calling witnesses on the
Prisoner’s behalf.

_Dr. Michael Taylor_, Mrs. Pritchard’s brother, had seen her on the
28th of February, a few days after his mother’s death, when she
objected to Dr. Gairdner again visiting her, and to following her
brother’s advice to have a nurse, as she did not like strangers about
her. He also identified as her writing two letters from Edinburgh to
her husband at the time of her visit to her parents in November, in
which she spoke of the slowness of her recovery and her inability to go
out, except two or three times.

_Mr. Simpson_, a partner in Duncan & Co., Chemists, in Edinburgh,
remembered Dr. Pritchard, some four years ago, purchasing Battley’s
solution at their shop, and that shortly afterwards other purchases of
this compound were frequently made in his name by one Thomson, whom
he recognised, down to the beginning of 1865. _Fairgrieve_, another
chemist in Edinburgh, spoke to repeated purchases of this compound by
or for Mrs. Taylor for several years before her death, once in a 5-oz.
bottle, but generally in bottles of 2 oz.[156]

Two other witnesses proved that they consulted Dr. Pritchard for
affections of the ear, and that to the first he gave a bottle labelled
“poison—2 drops in each ear every night,” and to the other a tonic
of glycerine and strychnia; the object being to account for the
numerous poisons found in the cupboard in his consulting room.[157]
_Dr. McHattie_ proved that there were not the necessary drugs in
the cupboard to enable the Prisoner to make up Dr. Paterson’s
prescription,[158] and afterwards his eldest son certified that his
father and mother lived happily together, and his daughter, who lived
chiefly with her grandparents, that they were fond of each other. The
evidence for the defence then was closed.


In addressing the jury on the evidence, the counsel for the prosecution
drew their especial attention to (1) the fact—not contested and not
contestable—that though none of the medicines prescribed by the
medical attendants on both of the ladies had contained any preparation
of antimony, antimony was found in their bodies—in that of Mrs.
Pritchard in such proportions as could only be accounted for by a long
continuous administration of that drug—in Mrs. Taylor’s sufficient
to so reduce her system as to increase the operation of any narcotic
poison; (2) that the notion of this having been taken by accident was
excluded even by the prisoner’s own statement, and that the idea of
suicide was entirely at variance with the characters of the sufferers,
and in the case of the wife with the fact that suicides do not choose
“a long, lingering, and painful death;” (3) that the prisoner had
in his possession the means of administering poison as well as the
opportunities; (4) that in the three cases in which symptoms of
antimonial poisoning were felt by those who tasted the cheese, the egg
flip, and the tapioca, the prisoner had the opportunities of dealing
with these articles of food before they were sent to his wife; (5)
that in the remnant of one of them—the tapioca—antimony to a large
extent was found; (6) that in a bottle of Battley’s solution found in
the pocket of Mrs. Taylor after her death aconite in deadly proportions
was detected; and (7) that there was a pecuniary motive, paltry as it
might be represented to be, to induce the prisoner to commit both these
murders.[159] Who, then, he said, put the antimony into the food? who
put that and the aconite into the Battley’s solution?

 “Who, then,” continued the _Solicitor-General_, “was the murderer?
 For there was a murder—a deliberate, cold-blooded, cruel
 murder—committed in that house. Who was it? We know the inmates.
 There were the two students of medicine. I suppose you may lay them
 aside as having nothing to do with it. Suspicion does not attach
 to them, neither had they the opportunity. The servants change in
 the course of the enacting of this dreadful tragedy—all but one.
 Catherine Lattimer was there until the 13th of February. The poisoning
 went on after she left—the deaths both occurred after she left. She
 was not the poisoner, nor was there a breath of suspicion about her.
 Mary Patterson comes on the 16th of February. The poisoning, indeed,
 goes on after she comes; but it had commenced long before—weeks
 before. We, therefore, lay her aside. There was Mary McLeod, a girl
 under seventeen, the only remaining grown person in the house during
 the whole course of the administration to which I need refer. I need
 not take any notice of the children, who were the only other inmates
 of the house. See, then, to what we have come. There was a murderer in
 the house—a murderer practising the dreadful art of slow poisoning
 from the end of December till past the middle of March. The only two
 grown persons, except the boarders, who were in the house during
 that time—the only two who had access to the patients—were the
 prisoner at the bar and Mary McLeod. This is narrowing the case to a
 very short question. I have excluded every other idea from the case,
 by fair, legitimate, convincing argument, upon evidence that is not
 open to dispute. I have excluded the notion of natural death. I have
 established the fact of death by poison. I have excluded the idea of
 death by accident, by suicide, by the administration medicinally. You
 are shut up, therefore, to murderous administration.... I find that
 the only two who had access to these miserable victims, and had any
 opportunity to perpetrate the murders with which they are charged,
 were the prisoner and this one girl. Now, pray, consider, with
 respect to the wife, upon the question whether or no the prisoner is
 not the man clearly proved by irresistible evidence to be so, what
 was the nature of the murder? _It was a murder in which you almost
 detect a doctor’s finger._ It is gradual poisoning—poisoning so as
 not to kill but to weaken; leaving off for a day, and then resuming
 again—one day better, two days worse. During the whole time the
 patient exhibited the symptoms of vomiting and purging, the result of
 the action of antimony. You have that going on for a long time under
 the very eye of a medical man, the husband of the victim, who was in
 close attendance upon her. Do you think anybody else—do you think a
 girl of seventeen could have done that deed? She knew nothing about
 antimony.[160] If she did not do it, the prisoner must have done it.
 And what is his case? His case respecting his own wife, who was thus
 demonstrably being poisoned by inches under his very eye during this
 long period—what is his case? “I thought it was gastric fever,” he
 says. Gastric fever! Nobody could have thought it was gastric fever.
 Nothing like gastric fever in it. Nothing like anything except what
 it was—slow, cruel poisoning, which brought, in the course of two or
 three months, this poor woman to the grave, with such an amount of
 poison in her body.”

Referring, then, to the false statements made by the prisoner in
the case of Mrs. Taylor—that she had tumbled off her chair in his
consulting room in a fit, and been carried up to bed, when it was
proved that she had walked up to her bedroom from his consulting
room—had during the evening called to one of the servants to go
out and get sausages for supper—had had no tumble or fit, and that
the doctor himself knew nothing about her attack till the bell rang
violently three times—that hot water had been taken up by the servant
to make her vomit—the strange statement to Dr. Paterson before the
bottle of “Battley” was found in Mrs. Taylor’s pocket, that she had
purchased half-a-pound of it a few days before—the false certificate
of her death, “paralysis for twelve hours and apoplexy for one hour,”
when there was no paralysis except the paralytic affection caused by
the aconite, and that was not before she went upstairs at nine o’clock
in the evening, only four hours before her death: then referring to the
tapioca purchased entirely for Mrs. Taylor’s use, into which antimony
was put by some one; the Solicitor-General said:—

 “Keep in view that the method of poisoning alleged against the
 prisoner here is not the giving a dose that would kill, but the
 introducing it into the food in such quantities that the taking
 would not kill, but produce sickness merely—the intention being to
 produce and continue the sickness for months, the fatal termination
 then supervening. A poisoner in this way practises the dreadful art
 successfully, and could not be very apprehensive of even himself or
 any one else taking the food accidentally, as it would only make
 them sick. He knows that to produce death it will be necessary
 to continue it for a long time. Into this tapioca antimony is
 introduced—sufficient to produce sickness in anybody taking it,
 but not death. But Mrs. Pritchard does not get this tapioca. It is
 taken by Mrs. Taylor, and she is seized immediately by symptoms
 of poisoning by antimony. She is sick in the same way—I think she
 expressed it—as her daughter was; because the effects were the same.
 That tapioca was not put away, as it might be required again; and if
 Mrs. Pritchard had wanted tapioca again, she would have got that, and
 the poisoning would have been carried on by its means. If anybody else
 got it, it would be a misfortune, but not much more. And who could
 have introduced it but the master of the house, who was an adept in
 such a mode of poisoning.—I do not know how many, if more than one,
 partook of poisoned food; but some food had been poisoned. I take
 that for granted, and that it had been taken by one of the boarders,
 Connell, I think. But that is not presented as part of the case. He
 was one day more or less sick. The prisoner does not seem to have been
 alarmed about it—he does not seem to have been alarmed even when he
 himself was sick upon some occasion in February. He knew very well
 there was no occasion for alarm, for sickness was the end of it; that
 it would require a long sickness in order to produce anything like a
 fatal result.”

Briefly, then, reviewing the points he had made, the Solicitor-General
concluded his exhaustive address.


_Mr. Rutherford Clark_, in the opening of his speech, urged on the jury
that the enormity of the double crime required it “to be proved by
evidence strong, clear, overwhelming, that brought home to their minds
and consciences, without the slightest suspicion on the testimony, the
guilt of the prisoner,” and that “the motives assigned for it were
not such as could ever have, in the slightest degree, actuated any
human being to the commission of such hideous offences.” Whilst he
could not deny that he had the opportunity of committing the crime, he
contended “that it went a very short way—indeed no way at all—in even
suggesting or indicating his guilt.”

 “If,” he said, “you find a case where crime is committed, and where
 the person charged with committing it has made an opportunity
 for himself—has been zealous in obtaining opportunities—then
 opportunity is of the greatest possible importance and the strongest
 possible evidence; but to say that he has opportunity in this case
 is nothing more than to say it was likely, as indeed it was true,
 that the husband who was attending the sick bed of his wife, should
 carry to her some of her meals, and send up others with her meals.
 But that he should do so is, I am sure, nothing unnatural—nothing to
 suggest guilt. It would have been frightfully suggestive of guilt,
 if, instead of sending up these meals, and taking them up himself, he
 had always chosen some other agent to carry them up and to administer
 the food she was taking. If that had been the case, I should have
 been inclined to say that the Crown would have had a case much more
 strong to indicate guilt, than they have when, as it is stated here,
 that he was administering to the comfort of his wife while upon her

On the point that the prisoner was in possession of the means of
poisoning, “he was,” he said, “by profession a doctor, and had, no
doubt, as most doctors have, considerable quantities of drugs in his
possession. Whether he had more than most medical men kept in their
houses was a matter of opinion, but it was absurd to suppose that he
accumulated these large quantities of most powerful and destructive
poisons—a minute dose of many of which would have been fatal—for the
purpose of murder.”[162]

 “But,” continued _Mr. Clark_, “it is not unimportant, in considering
 this question, and it is very important especially in considering
 the argument of the Solicitor-General, that these poisons were kept,
 not in any locked press, but, on the contrary, within the reach of
 the household. It is a remark I have made, that there was not one of
 the poisoned articles of food which ever reached the lips of Mrs.
 Taylor or Mrs. Pritchard without passing through other hands than the
 prisoner’s, and it is odd enough that, in regard to each of them, the
 person who administered it and who carried away the food left, is
 this girl, Mary McLeod. It will not do for the Solicitor-General to
 say, ‘I have established that one of two persons must have committed
 these crimes,’ and that you can trace the particular finger of the
 medical man in connection with them. Probability will never support
 a conviction. It will not do for him to say, as regards the death of
 Mrs. Pritchard, that it was the act either of the prisoner or Mary
 McLeod, and that it was not likely that a girl of under seventeen
 would have the skill to do it. Do you not think that he shrinks from
 the onus of proof when he accepts this convenient mode of getting rid
 of the difficulty, as he must prove that it is one of those two who
 did it. He must prove by evidence that it was not Mary McLeod or some
 one else in the house, and it was only by showing that it was not
 Mary McLeod, that he can bring this charge home, to the prisoner.”
 [Mr. Clark then noticed that the question was put to Lattimer whether
 she put anything into the tapioca, but that that question was not put
 to Mary McLeod.] “It is a singular omission in the case of the Crown,
 which necessarily depends upon being able to select between those
 two persons, whom the Solicitor-General stated were the only two who
 could have committed the murder, that they did not venture to put the
 question to exclude upon her evidence the fact that she might have
 been guilty. And this is all the more strong that I shall trace every
 article of poisoned food immediately through her hands.”[163]

Subsequently he reviewed the evidence as to each of the three poisoned
articles of food.

 “Let us see,” he said, “about this tapioca:—it was suggested,
 apparently through Mrs. Taylor, that Mrs. Pritchard would like
 some. Accordingly some tapioca is brought by a little boy, and it
 is brought in, and received by Mary McLeod. She says she placed it
 for some short time on the lobby table. Catherine Lattimer says Mary
 McLeod took it down to her, but Mary says Mrs. Taylor did. Now the
 suggestion of the Crown is that the prisoner put antimony in this
 tapioca, so nicely adjusted to the quantity bought as to produce
 sickness leading to death, but not so as to produce death itself. It
 would certainly have been of some importance to have shown that he had
 any opportunity of administering or putting any poison into it, but
 it is not proved—there is not a shadow of evidence that he had any
 opportunity, or to show that he was in the house at the time. He was
 a man accustomed to exercise an active profession, and, of course,
 would naturally be out at that period of the day; but at all events it
 is not shown that he was aware that his wife desired tapioca, or that
 his mother-in-law had ordered it. It is not even shown that there was
 the least possibility of his introducing antimony into that bag. It is
 prepared and carried up by Mary McLeod to her mistress, who declines
 to take it, and it is taken by Mrs. Taylor, who was taken ill after
 partaking of it.”

Again, as to the poisoned bit of cheese:—

 “It is spoken to by Mary McLeod. She tells you she had taken up the
 tray for supper, and that on it was the cheese and other things which
 were placed on the table at which Dr. Taylor and the other inmates
 of the house are sitting; that she came out, and that, on returning
 again, Dr. Pritchard handed to her a piece of cheese to take to her
 mistress. She did not see him cut off the piece of cheese, but he
 handed it to her sitting at the table; and it is perfectly obvious it
 must have been cut off the cheese eaten by the family at supper. If
 he placed antimony upon it, it must have been in the presence of the
 persons at supper—a piece of yellow cheese which must have indicated
 the powder of tartarised antimony, if placed upon it.[164]—It was
 not asked if it were possible to put this tartarised antimony upon
 the cheese while sitting at supper. I leave you to judge if it were
 possible. It was taken up oddly enough—I cannot help noticing the
 coincidence—by Mary McLeod. She says she ate part of it, and that it
 did her no harm; but the residue was taken down into the kitchen and
 eaten by Patterson, and she suffered from vomiting.”

Again, as to the poisoned egg-flip:—

 “The doctor comes and tells his servant to prepare some, a thing not
 unnatural to be taken by a person with a delicate stomach, and for a
 medical man to order. But it is said this was a plot for Dr. Pritchard
 to get in his drugs in this way. He supposes that he went through the
 dining-room and got the sugar, and then into the consulting-room, and
 then into the pantry, and dropped the pieces of sugar, on which he had
 put antimony, into the egg. Does he give any proof of this? Does he
 suggest anything more than suspicion? The Crown seems to have doubted
 whether he could on the sugar have put in so much antimony as to have
 produced the effects which the servant girl says she suffered. Dr.
 Littlejohn thought it possible, but he had never tried the experiment.
 A possibility at the best—a large possibility—that he could have put
 in the drug. Was the egg-flip capable of producing the effects which
 are said to have been caused by it? ‘Barely possible,’ according to
 Dr. Littlejohn. What is its history: does it pass through his hands?
 No. It was left by Patterson in the pantry, and Mary McLeod came down
 for it to the kitchen. She was told it was in the pantry, and she
 goes up to bring it down again. There, again, you have Mary McLeod
 intervening in the matter, notwithstanding the dilemma on which the
 Solicitor-General placed his case: she it is who carries it up to
 the bedroom, and she it is who administers it to the patient who is
 suffering there. There is another remarkable thing in this case. The
 amount of antimony introduced must have been a very powerful dose,
 because, taking only a teaspoonful of the egg-flip as Patterson
 did, she lay vomiting and suffering all night. Mrs. Pritchard took
 a wine-glassful, and vomited for about half an hour afterwards.
 Surely if a strong woman took only a teaspoonful, and a weak woman a
 wine-glassful, she would have been destroyed by the poison that had so
 powerful an effect on the former.”[165]

Again, with reference to the bottle of Battley’s solution found in Mrs.
Taylor’s dress after her death, into which it was suggested that the
prisoner had put the aconite and antimony discovered in it, said Mr.

 “He knew, no doubt, that she was taking it, but it is not in the
 least degree proved that he knew where it was, in what bottle it was,
 or where Mrs. Taylor kept the bottle. Mary McLeod did know, for she
 bought it for Mrs. Taylor. But what is the ground of suggestion that
 aconite had been put into that bottle before Mrs. Taylor had it? All
 that you have is that Drs. Maclagan and Littlejohn say there was,
 and that they were contradicted by the person who actually observed
 its effects. And what became of this bottle? It was found on her
 person after her death. Is it possible to suppose that he had the
 means of getting at the bottle before her death to introduce the
 poison? How could he? It was carried about her person, and there
 is not the slightest suggestion that he ever had access to it; and
 yet you are asked to act upon that suggestion, because it is said,
 ‘You may probably trace the administration of a medical hand.’ No:
 probabilities are not in this case. It is proof, and proof alone, that
 we can go on. What was the history of the bottle? It was found in her
 clothes, no doubt, when the body was being dressed by Patterson and
 Nabb, and even they did not know the very great quantity, perhaps,
 that this old lady had taken. But still more, supposing that she
 should take no aconite, she had taken sufficient of the mixture to
 account for her death. Assuming that the highest mark on the bottle,
 as taken by Dr. Paterson, is a correct one, it would come to be not
 less than 2¾ ounces that had been taken. It was shown that the bottle
 was put by for some time; but if it was taken away after the murder,
 that is of very little consequence. If he had put antimony in it,
 would it not have been very easy for him to have thrown the bottle
 aside? But instead of that, we have him expressing his surprise to
 these two women that she had taken such a great quantity. He takes
 away the bottle, and brings it back again, and there it remains until
 examined by Dr. Penny, who then finds that it contains some aconite
 and antimony. But where is the shadow of a proof that he put it there?
 The bottle was lying open—was not locked up in any way: it remained
 in the house from the death of Mrs. Taylor till after the prisoner
 was apprehended, more than a month afterwards. Any person in the
 house might have access to it, and yet all that can be suggested to
 prove that the prisoner put in this antimony and aconite before her
 death was contained in the observation of my learned friend, that you
 could trace, or that you could _probably_ trace here, the finger of a
 medical man.”[166]

The false statement in the certificate of death, Mr. Clark attributed
to a desire of sparing the feelings of the husband. He did not justify
the morality of the act, but, looking at the circumstances, asked the
jury “if there was any degree of guilty knowledge when he asked Dr.
Paterson to inform his father-in-law of the cause of death, and he was
only forced to take that step by his refusal.” With Dr. Paterson’s
manner in the witness-box he naturally dealt in the most severe
language of reproof and censure.

 “I do not believe,” he said, in concluding his remarks on this
 witness, “he saw any symptoms of poisoning, or he would have acted
 as any other medical man would have acted—unselfishly, nobly, and
 generously in this matter. And when you see that this is inconsistent
 with the whole conduct of the profession to which he belongs, I ask
 you to disbelieve many of the statements he makes. You cannot rely
 on these statements, given with a bias, for he tells you what is
 incredible, or only credible at the loss of his own honour, which I
 am sure he will strive studiously to guard. He has become a partisan
 in this matter altogether, and forgot what is due to his position and
 his profession. All that can be said of Dr. Paterson is this,—that he
 speaks about the prisoner, of his mother-in-law, and speaks further
 about what he said of her falling; yet even after all, this is merely
 an account of a circumstance given by him some months, or, if you
 like, a month after the case occurred. And because the prisoner made
 some statements not exactly consistent with the truth as now disclosed
 on the evidence, are you to believe, on Dr. Paterson’s statement, and
 upon his statement only, that these statements were made so as to show
 guilty knowledge. I can quite understand that after there is proof of
 administration you may support that proof by evidence of falsehoods
 which the prisoner may tell, if you have reliable evidence to prove
 that they were stated. But when you have no evidence of administration
 of poison, then the evidence is all the other way; then I think you
 cannot eke out the probabilities of the case by appealing to these
 probabilities, or to the falsehoods depending on evidence like that
 here, as showing conclusively, beyond a reasonable doubt, that this
 prisoner was the person who committed that foul crime upon the person
 of his mother-in-law.”

Having thus commented on the evidence given for the prosecution on
all the leading points of the case, in masterly, if not convincing
arguments, in conclusion the prisoner’s counsel dwelt on the admitted
terms of affection in which he lived with his wife and children—on the
impossibility of believing in his commission of such a cold-blooded
murder, on the evidence adduced. “The whole evidence of the Crown,” he
said, “hangs upon probability, and can never justify you in believing,
in the first place, that he was capable of committing the crime; and,
in the second, it is hardly conceivable that anything so unnatural
should be committed by such a man.”


On the fifth day, the Lord Justice Clerk summed up the evidence in this
protracted trial with great minuteness, in the course of his charge
reading to the jury nearly the whole of the evidence, and meeting the
various objections to its relevancy offered by the prisoner’s counsel.
There were three points, he said, for their consideration. (1.) Did the
two ladies, or either of them, die from poison? (2.) If aye, was that
poison administered for the purpose of destroying life? (3.) Was it the
prisoner who administered it?

On the first point, after calling their attention in detail to the
medical and analytical evidence in the case of Mrs. Pritchard, that
she died from slow antimonial poisoning, he said, did not appear to
have been contested by the prisoner’s counsel, and, upon the evidence,
he did not think it admitted of a doubt. As the evidence showed that
it was not from a large dose of antimony taken lately before death
that she had died, the idea of accident or mistake was excluded. That
it might have arisen from unskilful treatment by the prisoner was
negatived by his assertion that he had never administered antimony to
her, except once externally in October last, which could have nothing
to do with the state in which the intestines were found in March. The
idea of suicide by slow poisoning, even if there had been any hint of a
suicidal tendency on Mrs. Pritchard’s part, was equally inadmissible:
she must, if killed by antimony, have had it administered to her for
that purpose. In Mrs. Taylor’s case, into the details of which he
fully entered, one was almost forced to the conclusion that her death
was brought about by the combined action of aconite, antimony, and
opium. As to the idea of accident in her case it was inconsistent with
the fact that the Battley’s solution was pure when bought. “Was it
then,” he added, “by accident that these two subtle poisons, aconite
and antimony, found their way into her medicine-bottle: if not by
accident, did she put them there herself, or had she any knowledge of
such things as to enable her, if she were willing, so to poison herself
by using her own medicine? There was no appearance of that, and the
character and conduct of the old lady, her natural condition both of
body and mind as you heard it described by the witnesses, is such as
not to suggest the idea of suicide in her case as a possibility at all.
Consider, then, with reference to both deaths, whether you can arrive
at the conclusion, or whether you can resist the conclusion, that the
poison by the means of which they were deprived of life was wilfully
given to them for the very purpose of destroying life.”

Passing then to the third question, “Was the poison of which these
ladies died administered to them by the prisoner?” the Lord Justice
Clerk went with great minuteness through the painful details of
Mrs. Pritchard’s long and lingering illness, the symptoms which it
exhibited, the prisoner’s misrepresentation of it as gastric fever,
when the medical men proved that there was no fever in the case, but
clear signs of antimonial poisoning, and the various acts of the
prisoner during it which were put forward as showing that he had,
and that he used, the opportunities his position offered, for the
purpose of administering the poison. The interest of this portion of
the charge, as well as of that relating to the symptoms and death of
Mrs. Taylor, and the prisoner’s conduct in relation to it, depends so
entirely on the judge’s method of marshalling the evidence, already
reported, that it could not be satisfactorily given except verbatim.
Many of the remarks of the learned judge, on these points of the
evidence, have already been reported in the notes. It will therefore be
sufficient to give, here, his remarks on the question of motive, and on
the suggestion of the prisoner’s counsel with regard to Mary McLeod.

 “In regard to the matter of motive, I would suggest to you that the
 motive that his pecuniary difficulties would be relieved by the death
 of Mrs. Taylor, does not seem to have been made out satisfactorily.
 You will consider the evidence, but I confess I do not think it worth
 while to set it before you again. Then, the question comes to be, was
 there a motive? What is there in the shape of a motive that may be
 supposed to account for the perpetration of two such horrid crimes?
 That is the way it was stated, and ably stated, by the prisoner’s
 counsel. But there are some considerations applicable to that part
 of the case which I am bound to suggest to you. The absence of
 motive, in the ordinary sense of the word, is not a very uncommon
 thing in the experiences of a criminal court. In truth, the existence
 of any adequate motive for the perpetration of a great crime is a
 thing impossible. Still there may be what is called an intelligent
 motive—the existence of some foul passion, or some immediate and
 strong excitement, which, in a moment of half frenzy, drives a man to
 the commission of murder. These are all very evident and intelligible
 incentives to crime. But when we find that, in the opinion of the
 prisoner’s counsel, there is no motive, it means no more than this,
 that the motive has not been discovered. There must have been a motive
 or incentive, and yet we may never discover what it was. You are never
 in a condition to say that there was no motive, but only that the
 motive was not discovered; and the motives of human action, we know
 from history and experience, are often inscrutable. Another motive or
 incentive has been suggested—the illicit relation between himself and
 Mary McLeod. This is a very important part of the case undoubtedly,
 and one to which you are bound to give due attention. The prosecution
 suggests that the existence of that intercourse was the reason or the
 desire that led him to get rid of his wife. If that was the incentive,
 I do not think there will be much difficulty in explaining the
 incentive to the commission of the other murder; because her presence
 in the course of the chronic poisoning of his wife would have been a
 great obstruction and interference with his plans.[167] But it is for
 you to say whether it is a sufficient motive. It is a fair question
 for your consideration, and I should desire you to turn your minds to
 it very seriously; keeping only in mind this view, that even supposing
 you find it impossible to assign an intelligible motive for the
 commission of one or both of these murders, the absence of evidence of
 motive is not sufficient reason for acquitting the prisoner, if you
 are satisfied from the other evidence in the case that he was guilty.
 Motive, after all, can but create a presumption one way or another.
 It is not evidence of the fact of murder, that a man has an obvious
 motive to commit it; and just as little can the absence of proof of
 the existence of a motive be a reason for finding the prisoner not
 guilty, if the evidence of the fact of the murder be satisfactory
 against him.”

Again, after having shown how no imputation could rest on the servants
Lattimer and Patterson, the learned judge thus dealt with the
imputation thrown out by the prisoner’s counsel against Mary McLeod:—

 “He has said that there was another girl there who stands in a very
 different position, and that it appears, singularly enough, that
 whenever an article of food was to be carried to Mrs. Pritchard, Mary
 McLeod’s is the hand that bears it. In short, if I understand aright
 his theory, it is Mary McLeod who caused these murders, and he invites
 you to choose between her and the prisoner, and to pronounce upon
 a balance of probabilities which of the two it was. This is a very
 painful position for you to be placed in. If it be necessary that you
 should decide absolutely between the two it must be done. _At the
 same time the prisoner’s counsel did not seem sufficiently to advert,
 in considering the point, to the possibility that both might have
 been implicated, and, if that was so, I suppose we should have little
 doubt which was the master and which was the servant; and, although
 the one might be the active hand that administered the poison, if two
 were concerned, you would have very little doubt who was the actor,
 and who set on the other. And, in fact, if you should arrive at this
 conclusion, every article that the prisoner’s counsel alluded to for
 the purpose of throwing the guilt on Mary McLeod would be an article
 of evidence to implicate the prisoner at the bar._ But I do not desire
 you to take this theory. On the contrary, I think it quite right that
 you should consider on the balance of probabilities, as has been very
 well said, which of the two is the perpetrator of this crime; and in
 considering this, it is necessary for you to advert to this—that
 the poison was administered in doses—in doses any one of which was
 insufficient to kill, but which was quite sufficient, in the agony it
 produced, and by the gradual reduction of the strength of the patient,
 at length to lead to a fatal termination. Is it conceivable that a
 girl of fifteen or sixteen years of age, in the position of a servant
 maid, could of herself have conceived and executed such a design,
 within this house, under the eye and subject to the vigilance of the
 husband of her victim, himself a medical man? That is very hard to
 believe. On the other hand, if you can suppose that the prisoner was
 the person who conceived and executed this wicked design, it is not
 so difficult to believe that Mary McLeod may have been the perfectly
 unconscious instrument of carrying out his purpose—suspecting
 nothing, knowing nothing of what was being done, and seeing nothing
 but great kindness on the part of the prisoner to her mistress, and
 seeing them dying, not rapidly as in the case of Mrs. Pritchard, and
 though rapidly in that of Mrs. Taylor, still in a way the prisoner
 accounted for as a medical man. You may understand easily enough that
 a girl in the position of Mary McLeod might be made the unconscious
 means of carrying out these designs, and perfectly innocent on
 her part. But there is no difficulty in this question. If you are
 satisfied that murder was committed, somebody did it. Some of them are
 plainly innocent, and therefore the probability of guilt is reduced to
 two. Of these two, one or both of them are guilty of this deed.”

Then with a remark on the suggestion of the prisoner’s counsel, that
Mrs. Taylor died of an overdose of opium in the Battley’s solution, the
learned judge left the case to the jury, who, after about an hour’s
deliberation, found the prisoner “Guilty,” and he was sentenced to

After his conviction, in the hopes of exciting commiseration, Pritchard
drew up a confession implicating Mary McLeod, but the transparent
falsehood failing to gain for it any credence, he was induced to
put forward a second, and, subsequently, a third and apparently
full confession of his guilt. In this last he made the following
statements: “I am guilty of the death of my mother-in-law, Mrs. Taylor,
and of my wife. I can assign no motive for the conduct which actuated
me, beyond a species of ‘terrible madness,’ and the use of ‘ardent
spirits.’ I hereby freely and fully state that the confession made on
the 11th of this month (implicating McLeod) was not true, and I confess
that I alone, and not M. McLeod, poisoned my wife in the way brought
out in the evidence at the trial. Mrs. Taylor’s death was caused
according to the wording of the indictment and the main facts brought
out at my trial. I hereby fully acknowledge and now plead wholly and
solely _guilty thereto_, and may God have mercy on my soul.” He was
executed on the 27th of July, at Glasgow, in the sight, it was reported
at the time, of nearly one hundred thousand persons.


 COURT, _July 7 and 8, and August 15 to 19, 1859_.

 _For the Prosecution_: Mr. Serjeant Ballantine, Mr. Bodkin, Mr. Clerk,
 _and_ Mr. Mereweather.

 _For the Defence_: Mr. Serjeant Parry _and_ Mr. Giffard.

FIRST TRIAL—_July 7 and 8._

Thomas Smethurst, æt. 48, surgeon, was indicted for the wilful murder
of Isabella Bankes. The prisoner was a person of small stature and
insignificant appearance, with reddish-brown moustaches, probably
older than he stated, and, though appearing careworn, maintained great
self-possession throughout the proceedings, and especially during the
second trial.


Serjeant Ballantine, in stating the case to the jury, said it was
alleged that the prisoner took away the life of a fellow creature by
poison, and likewise contrived to throw around the means employed to
destroy life some more than ordinary difficulties in the way of the
detection of the crime; that in order to effect this purpose he had
availed himself of the knowledge he possessed, and made use of a slow
irritant poison, which he had administered with his own hands, until,
by the accumulation of poison and irritation, she died.

The prisoner was represented to be a member of the medical profession:
he had considerable knowledge of medicine, and was known as Dr.
Smethurst. He was a married man, and had a wife considerably older
than himself now living. At the time when he should first refer to Dr.
Smethurst, he was living with his wife in a respectable lodging-house
in Bayswater. While they were living there, in the autumn of 1858, Miss
Isabella Bankes also came there to reside. She was a lady of delicate
constitution,[169] and possessed of property under her own control of
between £1,700 and £1,800, and a life interest in £5,000, which, at
her death, went to other members of her family. The result was that
an intimacy sprung up between the parties. In November of that year,
the landlady, considering that there was too great intimacy between
Miss Bankes and the doctor, spoke to her, and, in consequence, she
left the house. On the 9th of December, Miss Bankes and the prisoner
went through the form of marriage at Battersea Church, and, two days
after, commenced to reside at Richmond. From a letter to his wife
found on him when in custody, it was evident that the doctor did not
intend this to be a permanent marriage. Until the 28th of January,
1859, nothing was heard of them; then Miss Bankes’s sister Louisa
received a letter from her, but not dated from the place where they
were living. On the 15th of February, the sister received another
letter from her. At that time they were living in Old Palace Gardens,
Richmond. Miss Bankes was then in good health, but, about the 28th
of March, her illness commenced. On the 3rd of April, Dr. Smethurst
determined to have medical advice. The landlady advised Dr. Julius, as
he and his partner, Dr. Bird, were the most eminent practitioners in
Richmond. They were accordingly called in. The former treated her for
diarrhœa, in the usual way, the complaint from which he understood she
was suffering, taking his account of her symptoms from Dr. Smethurst.
Dr. Julius all through consulted with the prisoner, who took a most
active part in the matter, and sometimes pressed upon him the use of
various medicines. He, however, was only on two occasions allowed to
be alone with his patient. On the 15th of April, on the landlady at
Old Palace Gardens asking a few shillings more rent, they removed to
Alma Villas—Miss Bankes so weak that she had to be taken in a cab and
carried upstairs. Dr. Julius, when he found that his remedies had a
contrary effect to what was intended, asked Dr. Bird to see her, but
did not mention his own suspicions, though they were very strong. On
the 18th of April Dr. Bird saw her, prescribed for her, but with the
same result as his partner. At this time she was sinking, and becoming
continually weaker. On that day the prisoner wrote a letter to her
sister Louisa marked “private and confidential.” It stated that her
sister was very ill, and wished to see her: she was to ask for Dr.
and Mrs. Smethurst, and not to breathe a word of the contents of the
note to anyone. The sister was not at this time aware of the marriage,
and had her own views of her sister’s conduct. She went, however, and
found her sister in a very feeble state. The deceased said to her, “Oh,
don’t say anything about it; it will be all right when I get well,
won’t it dear?” turning to Dr. Smethurst, who said, “Yes, it will be
all right soon.” Dr. Smethurst showed every kindness and attention to
the deceased during her illness, and to the time of her death she
treated him with love and affection. Miss Louisa, however, was never
allowed to be for a moment alone with her sister. Whilst she was
there the prisoner gave the patient a saline draught, and she vomited
immediately, and complained of its bad taste. Miss Louisa offered to
make some tapioca, but the prisoner objected on the ground that there
was not any milk. She then offered to make some arrowroot, but again
he objected on the ground that the landlady might not like it. That
evening the sister left, and next day wrote to the deceased, to which
letter she received the following reply from the prisoner:—“After
your departure, dear Bella had a very bad evening and night of it,
purely from the excitement of seeing you, and the fatigue consequent
thereon. Vomiting and purging set in at a fearful rate, which of course
prostrated her greatly. The doctor at once forbade any visitors for
the present, or he would not be responsible for the effects attendant
thereon.” The prisoner had no doubt made such representations to Dr.
Bird as induced him to say that she had better not receive visitors
for the present. On subsequent days the sister received other letters
from the prisoner postponing her intended visits from time to time;
describing her sister’s condition, and mentioning that he had insisted
on having a consultation with “Dr. Todd, the first physician of the
day, and the two regular attendants who were the first doctors in the
place.” One of these letters was dated April 30, but made no mention
of his having on that day instructed an attorney in Richmond to draw
up a will upon what he said was a draft by a barrister in London,
but was really entirely in his own handwriting. On the following day
(Sunday) he called on the attorney, and, representing that the case
was urgent, induced him to come to the lodging, where the will was
formally executed. By this will the whole of her property was left to
the prisoner.[170] The consultation with Dr. Todd took place, and he
agreed with other medical attendants that the patient was suffering
from unfair treatment. The prisoner, however, on the 29th, wrote to the
sister that Dr. Todd not only acquiesced in what was being done, but
recommended a perseverance of the treatment, with some slight additions
of his own. This was not the fact, but the prisoner was not made aware
of the suspicions entertained by the medical attendants. They, however,
caused the evacuations of the deceased to be tested, and the result was
so confirmatory of their views, that they communicated with the police,
and the prisoner was arrested. A number of bottles containing drugs and
medicines were taken possession of, and on his person was found the
following letter to his wife, sealed and stamped for post:—

  _Monday, May 2, 1859._

 “MY DEAR MARY,—I have not been able to leave for town as I expected,
 in consequence of my medical aid being required in a case of illness.
 I shall, however, see you as soon as possible. Should anything
 unforeseen prevent my leaving for town before the 11th, I will send
 you a cheque for Smith’s money and extras. I will send £5. I am quite
 well, and hope you are the same, and that I shall find you so when
 I see you—which, I trust, will not be long first. Present my kind
 regards to the Smiths and old friends in the house. I heard from
 James the other day, who said he had called on you, but that you had
 gone out for a walk. With best love, believe me,

  “Yours affectionately,

The case not being, in the opinion of the Richmond magistrates, strong
enough to justify his committal, the prisoner was discharged. On the
following day, the 3rd of May, Miss Bankes died, a coroner’s inquest
was held, and the result was the re-arrest of the prisoner, and his
subsequent committal for wilful murder, for which he was put on his
trial on the 7th of July.[171]


_Dr. Julius_ said:—

 “He was called in on the 3rd of April to the deceased, who was
 represented to be suffering from vomiting and diarrhœa. The prisoner
 said he believed that her liver was overloaded with bile. The witness
 prescribed accordingly, but without any abatement of the symptoms.
 There was no appearance of bile in the evacuations after the third or
 fourth day that he saw her, yet the symptoms of diarrhœa and vomiting
 continued, with a burning sensation in the bowels and soreness of
 the mouth. She complained of a parching throat and a burning thirst.
 He could not account for any of these appearances from any natural
 disease, and began to entertain an opinion that something of an
 irritant character was being administered, and in consequence desired
 that his partner, Dr. Bird, should see her. Did not communicate his
 suspicions to Dr. Bird, who, taking the prisoner’s account of the
 symptoms, and knowing the witness’s prescriptions, adopted his mode
 of treatment, but with the same want of success. The medicines were
 varied, but the symptoms continued the same. On this the witness
 communicated his fears to Dr. Bird, and he on further observation
 agreed that the patient was suffering from some irritant, of the
 administration of which they knew nothing. During this period the
 prisoner always saw the medical attendants, and was always present in
 the room when they were with the patient, and recommended or dissuaded
 the use of various medicines. He displayed a considerable knowledge
 of medicine. On the 28th of April the patient was very ill, and she
 repeatedly said to Dr. Bird in the prisoner’s presence that she should
 like some one else to be called in. On the same day the prisoner (who
 had always expressed a desire that the best medical advice should be
 obtained) suggested that Dr. Todd should be called in. On Dr. Todd’s
 arrival, witness gave him an outline of the case and treatment, but
 did not say anything of the suspicions that had arisen in his mind.
 Subsequent to Dr. Todd’s attendance witness procured some of the
 evacuations, and in consequence of the examination of them, thought
 it his duty to communicate with the magistrates, and the prisoner
 was arrested, but released on his own recognizances. Witness was
 unable to ascribe the symptoms to any natural cause, but if small
 doses of some irritant poison were administered from time to time,
 it would have accounted for all the appearances that had exhibited
 themselves. Antimony and arsenic would be the character of poisons
 likely to produce such results. _There was neither antimony nor
 arsenic in any of the medicines he prescribed for her._ The prisoner
 told him that she was not in the family way. Dr. Todd had prescribed
 a pill containing a quarter of a grain of sulphate of copper and a
 quarter of a grain of opium, to which the prisoner objected, as the
 copper often produced symptoms of poisoning. On the Saturday the
 prisoner said this medicine had produced intense burning in the mouth
 and throat, constant vomiting, and fifteen bloody motions—that the
 burning was from the “mouth to the anus.” In my judgment it could
 not have produced these effects. The evacuation which I obtained was
 previous to her taking any of these pills, as they did not arrive
 until afterwards. When in prison Dr. Smethurst wrote to me three
 letters for the particulars of the medicines that had been given,
 which I answered. In the first he also wished to know what solutions
 of arsenic were kept in our surgery, _and in the third letter ashed
 for the date of the prescription for antimony, which had never been
 prescribed_. He also told me that she had been ill just a week—that
 previously she had been in very good health, able to take long walks,
 in fact out a good deal.”

On his _cross-examination, Dr. Julius_

 “Admitted that Smethurst’s communications to him of the symptoms
 were made in the clearest and plainest manner, and tallied with his
 own observations—that twice he believed he saw the patient without
 the prisoner being present; that previous to the 15th of April the
 prisoner had suggested to the witness that Drs. Hills or Hassell
 should be called in, and a different treatment—one of a very
 sedative character, which the witness considered as too powerful,
 and, therefore, gave in a more diluted form; that witness had not,
 whilst in attendance on Miss Bankes, the slightest suspicion of her
 pregnancy, but that, if he had known of it, he should not have made
 any difference in his treatment, and now that he did know of it, it
 made no difference in his opinion as to the cause of her death. Whilst
 admitting that the delivery of a woman who had a first child at the
 age of forty-three would be very critical, he stated decidedly, as
 the result of his experience, that the period of pregnancy would be
 far less critical than in a younger woman. Vomiting was well-known to
 be an early—the earliest—sign of pregnancy, but diarrhœa was not;
 and though he had heard of a case in which it was accompanied with
 diarrhœa, he had not heard of one in which the diarrhœa would not
 yield to any ordinary treatment, and the life of the mother was only
 saved by the destruction of the fœtus.”[172]

On _re-examination Dr. Julius_ stated that “vomiting in early
pregnancy had nothing to do with the burning sensation in the mouth
and throat; _that the sickness of Miss Bankes was decidedly not of
the same character as that of pregnancy, nor was the diarrhœa such as
pregnant women sometimes suffer from_.” Dr. Bird, and not the witness,
prescribed bismuth, acetate of lead, and nitrate of silver.

_Dr. Bird_, who from service in the Crimea in 1855 had had great
experience and opportunity of studying bowel complaints, confirmed the
evidence of his partner.

 “None of the symptoms were in his opinion reconcileable with any
 known disease, but were such as could be accounted for from the
 administration of small doses of antimony or arsenic. The prisoner,
 he said, told him, on one occasion, that the deceased had seen her
 sister, and that it had very much excited her, and in consequence
 witness told him that it would be better if she did not come again.
 On the 30th he told the prisoner that he wished to take away a
 portion of one of her evacuations, that it might be examined under
 the microscope to see if any purulent matter was in it, that we might
 judge if there was any ulceration of the bowels—that the prisoner
 poured out a portion into a tumbler, which he tied over with an old
 newspaper, and that the witness took it to his surgery, marked it
 No. 2, sealed it with his own seal, and preserved it intact until
 delivered to Dr. Taylor with the bottle No. 1 which Dr. Julius had
 obtained. A third portion of an evacuation was shown to him by the
 prisoner, which he put into a white jam-pot, and marked No. 3. He was
 downstairs at the moment Miss Bankes died, but saw her every minute or
 two before that. He gave an ample quantity of every ingredient used
 in his prescriptions so as to afford a sufficient opportunity for

On _cross-examination_, he described the various remedies he
prescribed, none of which would account for the symptoms, and stated
that he formed his opinion that it was a case of slow poisoning by an
irritant, not only from what Dr. Julius and the prisoner told him, but
from the vomitings, the motions, and the lady’s own account of her

_Mr. Caudle_, the assistant of Messrs. Julius and Bird, described the
medicines he compounded, and _Dr. Buzzard_ detailed the transmission of
the bottles of evacuations to Dr. Taylor.


_Mr. Barwell_, Assistant-Surgeon of the Charing Cross Hospital, who,
with Mr. Palmer, of Mortlake, made a _post-mortem_ examination of the
body on the 4th of May, said:—

 “I found the back part of the body externally of a dark purple, being
 full of blood from the position in which the body lay: I gathered from
 that that the blood was more fluid, I should say, than usual. The arms
 were perfectly flexible; legs very rigid; feet bent downwards and
 turned in, and the muscles at their bottoms very rigid, indicating
 cramp or spasm in the lower extremities; the abdomen drawn in and the
 muscles tense and hard; the tongue rough, and the _papillæ_ more
 elevated than usual. There were no signs of what I could call aphthœ;
 the face was much emaciated and of a dull earthy colour; lower lip
 drawn in under the upper teeth; front of the body generally of this
 dull earthy colour; brain perfectly healthy; nothing wrong about the
 lungs—they were healthy. I saw that the liver was firm, full-sized,
 rather large, but did not then cut into it. I examined the uterus, and
 found the common signs of pregnancy and a fœtus of somewhere between
 the fifth and seventh week; the heart and great vessels connected with
 it were perfectly healthy. _I examined the liver subsequently; it was
 slightly fatty, rather fatty; the remainder hard. The liver when it
 becomes fatty is usually soft, but in this instance it was hard, and
 it was coloured in the usual manner—speckled._ Gullet healthy, no
 signs of inflammation on it. The outside of the stomach, the smaller
 end, that nearer the intestine, was red; the larger end, that where
 the gullet enters, was of a dark colour; in the centre it was pale. On
 examining the inside of the stomach, the narrow part or small end was
 also red; at the larger end was a black patch of effused blood; near
 the small end the mucous membrane was congested, that is the other end
 from the black spot and near where the red was. The contents of the
 stomach were a brown mucus mixed with blood and some bile, I should
 say. There were no ulcers in the stomach, nor appearance of acute
 inflammation. On the outside of the intestine I noticed on the 4th of
 May (the first examination) that its commencement was very red, the
 small intestines generally were inflated and minutely injected with
 blood, and in certain spots they were roughened by lymph, the result
 of inflammation, and glued together at certain turns where this lymph
 or glutinous inflammation was effused; they were coherent together
 from that cause; that did not apply to the entire length of the
 intestines, only to a few parts, and chiefly quite the lower parts.
 Those are the external symptoms. Internally, the first part of the
 intestine (the _duodenum_) was inflamed for about three inches from
 its commencement, but the mucous membrane was quite firm, and there
 was no ulceration. From that point the rest of the mucous membrane
 was only slightly injected, not inflamed. In the next intestine, the
 _jejunum_, the mucous membrane was still firm; in places the vessels
 were injected with its own blood, but this only in spots. In the
 _ilium_, or lower intestine, there was much the same appearance at the
 commencement as in the last, _except that approaching the lower part
 the injections increased very much, and at last, about 3 feet from
 its end, the mucous membrane was greatly altered; there was a deposit
 of lymph therein, and a thickening of the membrane; an ill-organized
 granular lymph; the membrane at the same time was roughened, and the
 glands, which are in the intestine there, were less visible than
 usual_. This deposit of lymph did not begin in the glands, but went
 over the whole surface of the intestine, and concealed the glands
 instead of rendering them more prominent—instead of being deposited
 in the glands, was rather around them at first. _This brings me to
 the_ cæcum. _On its mucous membrane were many very large spots.
 The appearances within the_ cæcum _indicated very serious disease
 indeed—inflammation, sloughing, ulceration, and suppuration._ Those
 appearances dimi