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Sir Astley Cooper's was the means of detecting tigators, is an instance related as having occurred a criminal of no ordinary type. A Mr. Blight, of at Nottingham in 1872. In this case a young Deptford, was fatally wounded by a pistol-shot man preferred a charge of assault and wounding in 1806, and Sir Astley was called in to see the against a person whose motives for committing sufferer. Proceeding to the scene of the assault, such an offense were undiscoverable. As eviSir Astley, from an examination of the locality dence the prosecutor submitted his wounded and the position of the wounded man, together arm, his coat, and his shirt-sleeve. He showed with the situation of the wound, came to the that they had indeed been cut, but a more careconclusion that the assassin must have been a ful examination revealed the interesting fact that left-handed man. A Mr. Patch answered to the the lining of the coat-sleeve was intact.
No latter description. He was near the locality at clearer proof was required to show that the the time of the murder, and, hitherto unsuspect- charge was false, and the accused person was at ed, he was arrested, tried and convicted for the once liberated. offense, fully confessing his guilt before his exe No more interesting details in the annals of cution.
criminal science can be presented than those The case of Bolam, who was tried at the which bear upon cases in which the evidence for Newcastle Summer Assizes, in 1839, for the mur- suicide, as against homicide, has to be weighed der of a man named Millie, presents some fea- and determined. Allusion has already been tures worthy of note as showing the difficulties made to cases, such as those of Sellis and the against which the medical jurist may have to wood-carver, in which a knowledge of the pecucontend. The circumstances of the case were liarities of the deceased served to explain the altogether of a peculiar kind. Millie was killed cause of death. An historical instance, illustratby direct violence done to the head, and, when ing this phase of our subject, is that of the Prince discovered, Bolam was found lying close by in of Condé, whose death occurred in 1830. On a state of insensibility, real or pretended, while the 27th of August in that year, the Prince was the apartment in which both were found had found dead in his bedroom under somewhat unbeen set on fire. Bolam stated that he had usual, and it may be added suspicious, circumbeen attacked by some person, and had been stances. The body was suspended from the knocked down by a blow on the head. Attempt- window-sash by a linen handkerchief, which was ing to escape, he was again thrown to the in turn attached to a cravat round the neck of ground, and then became aware of an attempt the deceased. An important feature in this case, being made to cut his throat, although by his and one which certainly lent an air of mystery own showing he did not use his hands to prevent thereto, was found in the fact that the toes of the injury, and no wounds or cuts were found both feet rested on the ground, the heels being upon his hands.
The only injury Bolam ap- elevated, and the knees bent forward. A chair peared to have sustained was a wound on the stood near the deceased, and the only marks of left side of the neck, but this wound was neither violence discernible were a few slight abrasions considerable in extent nor in depth; it had in- on the lower limbs; such, indeed, as might have volved no deep tissue, and had caused but little been produced by contact with the chair. It may bleeding. His coat and other garments were be added that the handkerchief was attached to cut in many places, but the incisions were en- the window at a height of about six and a half tirely unrepresented upon his body. The case feet above the floor. The discovery of the manreally turned upon the nature of these injuries, ner of death, added to the circumstances attendand the solution of their infliction. If they were ing the decease, gave rise to uncomfortable suslikely to have been inflicted by a third person, picion that the case was one of murder. Living then this third party might have also murdered in unsettled times, it was contended that the Millie. If Bolam were the self-inflictor of these Prince had been killed by assassins, and that his wounds, the theory of the prosecution that they body had been placed in the position in which it had been caused with the view of screening his was found in order to suggest suicide by hangown crime became, on the other hand, highly ing as the cause of death. The abrasions on the probable. The scientific evidence, aided by a limbs, certain peculiarities attending the mark full consideration of all the circumstances of this left by the ligature on the neck, and the fact that case, was given decidedly against the prisoner. the feet of the deceased rested on the floor, were The case terminated in a verdict of manslaughter urged as so many facts supporting the theory of against Bolam, who was accordingly sentenced homicide. Certain other circumstances, such as for that crime. Equally interesting, as showing a want of power in one arm, and the fact that the complex nature of the cases which await so- the handkerchiefs were tied in knots of a comlution, and of the occasionally simple fashion in plicated character, were duly urged in support of which such solution may dawn upon the inves- the latter view. But the experience of medical
science gave powerful support to the opposite the romance of life teems with tales stranger conjecture—that of suicide. Every medical ju- even than that of Enoch Arden, which show rist can point to cases of suicide by hanging, in that the possibilities of a person's decease may which the mere position of the body at first require to be duly argued and decided upon by appears strongly suggestive of its having been our courts of law. “The fact of death,” says placed in that position with a view of simulating that eminent authority on medical law, Dr. Alself-destruction. So far from persons suspend- fred S. Taylor,“ may be proved by presumptive ing themselves in a free posture in such an act as well as by direct evidence.” Thus the quesof suicide, it is comparatively rare to find their tion of decease may fail to be determined by a bodies in other positions than those from which jury; and when the corpus delicti is not forthit would appear they could have readily released coming, as in all cases of the kind referred to, themselves. Persons have been found dead al- “the legal presumption " is in favor of life, and most in a sitting posture, and suspended in a the burden of proof rests on the plaintiff's case. position which at first sight would seem strongly As most readers are aware, seven years' unto invalidate the theory of suicide. A man has explained absence from home and friends constibeen known to commit suicide by hanging him- tutes the period at the expiry of which the preself from a hook in the top of a tent-bedstead, sumption of death may legally be inquired into. being found with his knees wellnigh resting on With the caution which everywhere marks the the bed; and one hospital patient was actually footsteps of legal procedure, an English court discovered resting on his knees by the side of once held itself incompetent to pronounce judghis bed, having hanged himself from the top of ment confirming the presumption of death in a the bedstead. It is, in fact, exceedingly rare to case in which a woman had left her father's find the suicide imbued with sufficient determina- house in 1810, and had not, for a period of thirtion to take a leap into space; and the explana- ty-four years, been seen or accounted for; and, tion of the readiness with which death may take according to Best, in his “Presumptions of Law place under these seemingly unfavorable circum- and Fact,” the Court of Queen's Bench held that stances may be held to rest on the fact that sus it could not assume“ judicially " that a person pension in any position, in which the weight of who was alive in the year 1034 was dead in the the body is gently thrown on the neck, induces year 1827! From which statement, the non-legal at first a state of insensibility, which, as it grad- mind may reasonably enough regard the “judiually deepens, causes increased pressure on the cial” faculty as decidedly opposed both to the windpipe, and consequent death. In some few logical and the scientific. In the suit of Church cases, the suspicious elements in the cases be- versus Smith, tried in London in 1853, the husfore us have been strengthened by the obser- band of the plaintiff was proved to have been vation that the limbs of the deceased persons unheard of for twelve years, and the question have been found to be firmly secured. Not for decision was, whether she could sue, as a merely may the hands be secured in a case of widow, in her own right. The husband, howveritable suicide, but the weight of the body may ever, ultimately appeared in the witness-box; actually be intentionally increased (as was found but the presiding judge remarked to the jury in a case of suicide occurring in 1844 at Wor- that, in the face of the twelve years' absence, he cester) by the attachment of a couple of flat- should have directed them, but for the sudden irons to the wrist! Thus much for the curiosi- appearance of the missing spouse, to return a ties of suicide; and when it is added that the verdict for the plaintiff, on the presumption that blind have been known to destroy their own her husband was dead. Missing husbands thus lives, and that the act of suicide has been per- occasionally crop up under awkward circumpetrated by a boy of nine, and by a man of nine- stances. Four months after marriage a husband ty-seven years of age, as representing the oppo- deserted his wife, and disappeared for seven site extremes, little is wanting to invest the sub- years, the woman meanwhile contracting anject with more than ordinary interest in the eyes other marriage in her maiden name. She was of the psychologist.
indicted for bigamy and convicted, but her conPassing somewhat from the domain of ac- viction was quashed on appeal. In another case tual crime, we may find an interesting study in an application for probate was made to the Prothe details of cases relating to the “presumption bate Court in 1858, by the relatives of a shipof death,” and to questions of “survivorship.” captain who had sailed from Southampton in Both subjects present some of the gravest puz- December, 1856; arrived in Calcutta in October, zles of both science and law. In the quiet 1857; and thence sailed for Port Louis, but had course of ordinary existence it seems hardly pos- never reached his destination. Here, the presible that even the “presumption ” of death sumption of death was strong enough to cause should require to be legally established. But the Court to grant probate of the will, although
a modern Robinson Crusoe or Alexander Selkirk of Vibal Douat, a Bordeaux merchant, who inwould naturally feel rather chagrined at the sured his life in Paris for one hundred thousand course of events, on a possible return home after francs, and was shortly thereafter declared a rescue from enforced residence abroad as a cast- fraudulent bankrupt. Douat next disappeared away.
suddenly, and his wife lodged in Paris a certifiThe subject of “presumption of death” may, cate of the death and burial of her husband in in some cases, join issue with the criminal side England, and claimed the payment of his policy of character. A curious and somewhat myste- of insurance. That the case was one of fraud, rious case in point was tried in London. A man however, was clearly proved. Douat had actualhad insured his life against accident for a sum of ly ordered his own coffin, had registered his own two hundred and fifty pounds on the 6th of Sep- death, and had actually attended his own funeral tember, 1856. This person was single, and was -or rather that of the mass of lead which was aged twenty-six. A week after insuring his life found to be inclosed in the coffin. Douat was he took a return ticket to Brighton, leaving Lon- arrested, and, in due course, convicted of the don on Saturday, September 13, 1856, by an fraud. evening train. The succeeding Sunday and Mon The subject of “survivorship,” in its obvious day were spent in the company of his friends. and important relations determining succession He bathed in the sea on the morning of Monday to property, presents us with features no less re(the 15th), and in the evening intended to return markable than those involved in the preceding to London, announcing, however, to his friends, topic. Some dread calamity overwhelms, it may when he left at 7 P.-M., his intention of again be, an entire family circle, and it may be left to bathing before his departure. He was traced to science to decide from the circumstances of the the sea-beach, but was not again seen alive. A case which member probably survived the others. suit of clothes was found on the steps of a bath- Such a case came before the Rolls Court in Loning-machine, the owner of the garments being don in 1854. The circumstances of the suit in missing. The police could discover no clew to question are given by Dr. Taylor as follows: A the identity of the owner, save a purse contain- Mr. Underwood, aged forty-three, and his wife, ing part of a return ticket. Ultimately, the aged forty, being about to sail for Australia, and clothes were identified as those of the intending being each entitled to certain property, made bather, who was duly searched for and adver- their wills before their embarkation. By these tised for, but without success. Forty-five days wills each testator gave to the other, absolutely, after his disappearance, and on the 30th of Oc- the whole property he and she possessed respectober, a dead body, completely divested of cloth- tively. Each will also declared that “ if the one ing, was found on the beach at Walton-on-the to whom the same was given should die in the Naze, in Essex, situated about one hundred and lifetime of the donor,” the property should be sixty miles from Brighton. The evidence of divided among their three children on the latter medical men showed that the body had been in attaining their majority. It must be mentioned the water from six to seven weeks. The features that the family of the testators included three were unrecognizable, but a brother of the miss- children-two sons, aged fifteen and thirteen reing man maintained that, to the best of his be- spectively, and a daughter, aged eighteen. In lief, the body was that of the bather who had case all of the children died before reaching the disappeared from Brighton on the 15th of Sep- age of twenty-one years, the wills directed that tember. The brother accordingly entered an a mutual friend, a Mr. Wing, should receive the action against the insurance company, who had entire property. The parents and children emrefused payment of the policy on the ground of barked on board the ill-fated ship Dalhousie, want of identification; and the defense also which sailed from London on October 13, 1853, rested upon the assumption that the assured per- and which foundered off Beachy Head. Only son was alive, and that, in short, the report of one survivor, a seaman named Read, escaped ; his death was merely a ruse to obtain money his testimony showing that the ship foundered from the insurance-office. The alleged deceased, on the morning of October 19, 1853, lay on her it was proved, had been declared bankrupt in beam-ends for about twenty minutes, and finally 1855, and he had further effected in 1856 insur- disappeared in the deep. After the ship lay over, ances in different offices. His will ordered that the Underwoods, with the exception of the girl, the money due under the policies should be ap- escaped through the cabin-window and clung to plied to the dischar of his debts. In such a the side of the vessel, but while in this position case, the conflicting features of the evidence and a heavy sea swept them from their hold, and the uncertainty of identification resulted in the Read declared that they must have perished disagreement of the jury and in their consequent thereafter. Not a single trace of them was discharge. Clearer in all its details was the case found. But an important addendum to this in
formation was contributed by Read, who said remarks upon this case are so apt and interesting that not only did the daughter appear on the that they may bear quotation by way of comdeck after her parents and brothers had been mentary on this singular case. This authority swept away, but also that he lashed her to a spar remarks: “The difficulty was created by the and cast her adrift as her sole hope of safety. legal rule which threw the onus of proof on the He stated also that he saw Miss Underwood claimant (Wing) under the two wills. The case alive in the sea lashed to the spar. Mr. Under- of the next of kin, who was not mentioned in the wood, it may be added, was described as a tall will, was that the husband and wife died at the man of powerful build, and his wife as of small same instant of time; but this was a physiologistature and of delicate constitution.
cal impossibility; and had the proof of this been The suit before the Rolls Court turned on thrown upon the plaintiff (Underwood) the case the question which of the testators—husband or must have failed. The contention of the defendwife - survived the other? The testimony of ant was, that the testator and testatrix could not Read established the fact that the daughter had have died at the same instant. This negative unquestionably survived her relatives. The Mas- proposition could not of course be proved by diter of the Rolls inclined to believe that death rect evidence; it simply became a medical inferwas simultaneous in the case of the parents and ence; but when the law declares that in the abbrothers, and the result of his decision was that sence of evidence the property shall go in the the property must pass to the next of kin of the same way as if the parties had expired at the daughter. Mr. Wing, the mutual friend who same instant-i. e., as if they had died intestate was entitled to succeed, had thus no claim, ow- --this is deciding such questions by a rule which ing to the simultaneous death of the testators, is as arbitrary in its operation as that of the Code and judgment was accordingly given for the Napoleon. In Underwood versus Wing,” conplaintiff Underwood as next of kin.
cludes Dr. Taylor, “this rule of law practically The case was taken on appeal to the Lord affirmed that an event took place which was physChancellor's court, and was finally carried to the iologically impossible, and upon that event the House of Lords. Medical evidence was now wills of husband and wife were set aside, and the sought to substantiate the appellant's case. All property was handed to one whose name was inthe children having died under the age of twenty- tentionally excluded from the wills of both.” one years, the case of the daughter's survival was An analogous case tried in November, 1856, not made a part of the pleadings. The question in the Rolls Court, presents the melancholy insubmitted for consideration to the medical ex terest of having arisen out of the untoward fate perts related to the probabilities of the husband of Sir John Franklin's expedition to the polar having survived the wife, it might be even for a seas in 1845. The issue depended upon the devery brief period of time. As the stronger of the termination of the survivorship of a father (James two, the appellant contended Mr. Underwood Couch) or son (Edward Couch). It was not disshould be held to have survived his wife, in which puted that the father died at home, in January, case Mr. Wing would claim the property of de- 1850. Edward Couch went as mate of the Ereceased under the terms of the will. Even if the bus in August, 1845, and it had to be determined latter had survived her husband—the more un- whether Edward had predeceased his father, or likely alternative—Mr. Wing would in that event had survived him. Dr. Rae deposed that in 1854 also gain his case. Medical and physiological some Esquimaux informed him that in April or evidence went to show that, in face of the facts May, 1850, a party of white men were seen dragthat Mr. Underwood was known to be a good ging a boat across the ice, and that these men swimmer, and that he was a strong and power- killed birds which were never found in those fully built man, the probability was that he sur- regions before the month of May. Of course vived his wife. The difference in age, sex, and no evidence was at hand to show that Edward strength, said the experts, rendered it highly im- Couch was one of these survivors of 1850; but probable that death by drowning or asphyxia, the law in this case declared for the probability depending on cessation of the heart's action of the son's survival; this course being adopted among other things, would take place exactly at with a view to avoid further litigation. the same moment, and in this view the more A somewhat notorious case occurred in Lonrobust subject would therefore in all probability don, in 1870, which gave rise to the question of be the longest liver. The medical testimony was survivorship, complicated with the additional inthus clearly in favor of Wing. Upon technical terest of criminal procedure. A person named grounds the Lord Chancellor, in February, 1855, Huelin had made a bequest to his housekeeper, affirmed the judgment of the Master of the Rolls, with whom he lived at Brompton. In May, 1870, and the House of Lords confirmed these deci- both were murdered by a man named Millar, who sions, one of the judges dissenting. Dr. Taylor's was tried for the crime. The body of Huelin
was buried by way of concealment; that of the which, during a quarrel between husband and woman was packed by the prisoner in a box, wife, the latter in an ungovernable passion rushed which he requested a carrier to rope and cord. from the house across a lawn and flung herself During the performance of his task, the carrier into a pond. Her husband tried to rescue her, noticed that blood was oozing from the box, and but both were drowned. Evidence failed to elicit this circumstance excited suspicion, and led to any satisfactory details regarding the priority of the discovery of the crime. In 1871 a suit was death, and the suit which had been entered into raised to decide the disposal of Huelin's belong- was compromised accordingly. ings. If the housekeeper were proved to have Little need exists for expatiation on the curisurvived the master, then the bequest to her ous nature of such studies in the shady paths of would take effect; while, assuming the opposite life, or on the singular blending of fact and roview, the heirs of Huelin would claim the entire mance in certain phases of human existence. property. Here medical evidence assisted the But one idea may be fairly expressed by way of decision of the Vice-Chancellor's court, hy de- conclusion : namely, that science and law toclaring that the signs of death were more recent gether, while often achieving veritable triumphs in the case of the woman than in that of Huelin; in the patient pursuit and discovery of the truth, and circumstantial evidence lent its aid toward are yet unable to save humanity from one of its substantiating that of the experts. The court worst enemies—its contorted and debased self. decided in favor of the heirs of the unfortunate housekeeper. A case has also been related in
All the Year Round.
THE SUEZ CANAL HISTORY.
[We have from the Count de Lesseps a reply to all countries to take part in the work without any the article in our last number on the Suez Canal, government aid. M. de Lesseps, with his family which we subjoin. That article, as M. de Lesseps and friends, got together the first money necessuspects, was written by Judge Philip H. Morgan, sary to begin the preliminary studies. A rough lately member of the “Tribunal de Première In- plan was drawn up by two of the Viceroy's enstance” of Egypt, and recently appointed Minister gineers, Messrs. Mougel Bey and Linaut Bey. A from this country to Mexico.]
superior committee, composed of twelve famous
engineers selected from England, France, HolTo the Editor of Appletons' Journal.
land, Austria, Germany, Italy, and Spain, exSır: In your April number I find an article amined the rough plan, and sent a sub-committee entitled “The Suez Canal: a History,” and signed to Egypt and published its final report. As the P. H. M., which initials I understand are those result of this publication, the Viceroy, Saïd Pasha, of Judge Philip H. Morgan, of the United States; renewed in January, 1856, his concession of 1854, and, deeply sensible of the falseness of the accusa- but, as the policy of Lord Palmerston threatened tions he has made against the Suez Canal Com- Egypt with serious complications on account of pany, of which I was and am president and man- the canal, the Viceroy thought it best to put off aging director, I feel it a duty to myself and to seeking subscriptions to form the company. He those so long associated with me to send you the then undertook to furnish himself a monthly following article in reply to his charges.
sum of 30,000 francs, in order to have conOn November 30, 1854, M. de Lesseps was trol of the enterprise until he should judge it empowered to form an Egyptian and Universal advisable to apply for capital. M. de Lesseps, Company, by virtue of the concession which was on his part, agreed to give him back the congiven him to open a ship-canal between the cession without any indemnity if political events Mediterranean and the Red Seas. At the same should prevent him from carrying it out. The time the Viceroy, Saïd Pasha, decreed the build- preliminary work was continued until the end of ing of the railroad between Cairo and Suez in 1858. The time was then considered favorable order to please the English, who were clamorous to ask for a subscription of 200,000,000 francs, for it. The railroad had to be built at the ex- the sum fixed by the superior international compense of Egypt, while the Suez Canal was to be mittee, but the Viceroy requested M. de Lesseps constructed without any subvention, at the ex- not to have all the stock taken by France alone, pense of the company, which was to call upon but to reserve a part for other countries, holding