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George the Third suffered. These particulars, which have not hitherto been published in any collected form in this country, have been collected from “parliamentary reports, public papers, political squibs, diaries of persons about the court, tittle-tattle sent to other nations,” &c., and have now been embodied in the form of a narrative by Dr. Ray, of Butler Hospital, Providence, United States. We take leave, however, to question whether the result is worthy of all the labour it must have cost. We were in England too well aware of the melancholy fact of the King's insanity at the time, if not familiar with all the details. We have had too much reason to regret the consequences thereof to wish to revive so painful a subject. We are very well convinced that much indirect good has also been providentially educed from that national affliction, by the countenance it gave to improvement in the general principle of the treatment of the insane. Nevertheless, so much being taken for granted, we fail to perceive the benefit that can accrue to psychological medicine from a revival of scenes so painful, and from a history which, after all the laborious research of Dr. Ray, is still imperfect.
Our transatlantic brethren may probably trace in the results of the mental disorder of George the Third, their own elevation to a national status. We may be disposed to concur in the inference, but content to submit with the best grace we may to the dispensations of Providence, we would not raise the veil that screens the domestic griefs of royaltyin the belief that a sovereign has as inalienable a right to have his home held sacred as has the meanest citizen of a republic. And notwithstanding we may incur the imputation of a squeamish tenderness, we hold that such a narrative as the history of the insanity of the King goes very near to trench upon the inviolability of professional confidence. In the ordinary publication of cases by medical men, names are usually suppressed—and where for the ends of justice both names and particulars must be made known, still no more than is required for the furtherance of judicial objects is usually laid bare to public gaze. Why, then, should not the same measure be meted out to the most exalted member of society?
AN EXPOSITION OF THE LAW RELATING TO
LUNATICS, for the purposes of legislation, have been divided into three classes :1. Persons found lunatic by inquisition, often called Chancery
lunatics. 2. Persons not so found lunatic, but who are placed under the restraint of a lunatic asylum ; i.e., in private asylums, or as single
patients, under certificates. 3. Pauper lunatics.
The various statutes relating to the first class were consolidated and amended by “The Lunacy Regulation Act, 1853" (16 and 17 Vict. cap. 70); " An Act for the Regulation of Proceedings under Commissions of Lunacy, and the Consolidation and Amendment of the Acts respecting Lunatics so found by Inquisition, and their Estates."
The statutes relating to the second class were consolidated and amended by the 8 and 9 Vict. c. 100, “An Act for the Regulation of the Care and Treatment of Lunatics,” and which has since been amended by the “ Lunatics' Care and Treatment Amendment Act, 1853" (16 and 17 Vict. c. 96), “ An Act to Amend an Act passed in the ninth year of her Majesty, for the Regulation of the Care and Treatment of Lunatics."
The statutes regulating the third class were consolidated and amended by “The Lunatic Asylums Act, 1853" (16 and 17 Vict. c. 97), “An Act to Consolidate and Amend the Laws for the Provision and Regulation of Lunatic Asylums for Counties and Boroughs, and for the Maintenance and Care of Pauper Lunatics in England.'
We have frequently in this journal considered the state of the law as to the second class, and in vol. vi. p. 590, we enumerated the various alterations and amendments made by the 16th and 17th Vict. c. 96, with reference to private asylums and single patients. We propose now to consider the state of the law relating to Chancery lunatics.
Previous to the year 1842, the practice in lunacy was conducted according to the then dilatory and expensive fashion of Chancery proceedings, in the offices of the Masters in Chancery; but in that year a measure was introduced by Lord Lyndhurst, and was passed,* which had the effect of greatly diminishing the delay and expense of proceedings in lunacy. The following were the principal alterations effected by that statute and the general orders framed under its authority. Two Masters in Lunacy were specially appointed to execute commissions of lunacy, and to conduct the business of the lunacy department of the court, which before devolved upon the Masters in Chancery. By this arrangement the time occupied in the execution of commissions, as well as the expense, was considerably reduced; the expenses of proceedings after the inquisition were also much reduced by the diminution of the number of petitions, orders, and reports, the Masters having jurisdiction to inquire and report in many cases without any order of reference; and the general orders in many cases provided for measures which previously would have required a special order in each case. These alterations having worked well, both simplifying the practice and diminishing expense, Lord Lyndhurst, in 1852, introduced into the House of Lords a bill for effecting further improvements, intituled “ An Act to diminish the Expense of Proceedings under Commissions de lunatico inquirendo."
The expense of lunacy proceedings may be divided into two classes : 1. The expenses incurred in obtaining the decision of a competent
* 5 and 6 Vict. c. 84.
legal tribunal as to the lunacy; 2. The expenses connected with the care of the lunatic and the management of his estate after he has been declared lunatic. The first class comprehended the costs of suing out a commission of lunacy under the great seal; the fees of a numerous jury, usually more than twelve in number, and when special jurors paid a guinea each
of witnesses and fees of counsel when retained; and all other expenses incurred about the inquisition, as well as the traverse, if the inquisition were traversed, but which seldom occurred. The expense of the inquisition in a contested case must always be considerable, but much unnecessary expense arose from. the form of the commission requiring the verdict to determine, not simply the fact of the lunacy, but also the date when the lunacy commenced. This latter inquiry might run through many years, requiring numerous witnesses at great expense, and its advantage is not apparent; for, if the lunatic has contracted a debt subsequently to the period to which the verdict applies, the creditor may nevertheless prosecute his claim for it, or, if he has made a will or executed any deed during the same period, any person interested may attempt to establish the sanity of the lunatic at the date of such will or deed. The finding of the verdict of lunacy is undoubtedly primâ facie evidence against the debt, or will, or any other transaction subsequent to the date fixed by the verdict, but it is not conclusive against any person who was not a party to it.
With respect to the second class of expenses of lunacy proceedings, the appointment of committees by grant of the custody of the person and estate of the lunatic under the great seal formed one item; but the
expenses under this head were occasioned chiefly by the multiplicity of petitions, orders, and reports required to give effect to the various matters of constant occurrence in the administration of a lunatic's estate. Lord Lyndhurst proposed to meet this by striking at the root of the evil, and suggested the adoption of a mode of proceeding somewhat similar to the principle of the Joint-Stock Companies' Winding-up Acts and the Irish Chancery Act—viz., that the Master's report should be dispensed with, and an order should be made in the first instance, not by the Lord Chancellor, but by the Master in Lunacy, whose order should be binding and conclusive on all parties, if not appealed from to the Lord Chancellor within a given time. There can be little question that the simplification of the mode of procedure is the true means of obviating both delay and expense, for both are chiefly caused by the circuitous mode formerly, according to the practice, unavoidable in almost every proceeding. The following is a list of suggestions made by Lord Lyndhurst for simplifying the practice and diminishing the expense of proceedings in lunacy: 1. That the fiat of the Lord Chancellor should be substituted for,
and have the same effect as a commission of lunacy.|| 2. That the jury should be dispensed with, and the Master in Lunacy * 120 Hansard, 353. + 11 and 12 Vict. c. 45 ; and 12 and 13 Vict. c. 108. I 13 and 14 Vict, c. 89.
§ 120 Hansard, 351.
|| Ibid. 351. NO. I. --NEW SERIES.
should by himself decide the question of lunacy, unless the alleged
lunatic required the verdict of a jury.* 3. That the inquiry as to the lunacy should be confined to the
period when the inquisition is made, or otherwise reduced within narrow limits, instead of being carried back to the commence
ment of the lunacy. 4. That the Master in Lunacy should be invested with a discre
tionary power to limit the costs of opposition to the inquiry as he should think proper, with the view of checking such oppo
sition by improper persons for the sake of obtaining the costs. I 5. That the traverse should be altogether disallowed as a matter of
right, and be at the discretion of the Lord Chancellor. 6. That the grant of the custody of the person and estate of the
lunatic under the great seal should be discontinued, and that the Lord Chancellor's order should have the same effect as a
grant. 7. That the Master's report should be dispensed with, and an order
should be made in the first instance by the Master, which should be binding and conclusive on all parties, if not appealed from to
the Lord Chancellor within a given time. T 8. That the powers given by the Act 8 and 9 Vict. c. 100, § 94
98 (under which, in certain cases, the Master in Lunacy, without a jury, decided as to the lunacy of a party confined as a lunatic,) should be extended so as to correspond with the powers given by
a commission of lunacy.** These were valuable suggestions, and, as we shall see hereafter, most of them have practically been carried into effect by the provisions of the 16 and 17 Vict. c. 70; indeed, the only room for debate as to their soundness would be on the 2nd and 5th suggestions, as to which the Briton's veneration for trial by jury and the right of appeal might raise a doubt in the mind of one not informed on the subject. In submitting his suggestions to the House of Lords, Lord Lyndhurst mentioned that “ he had intended to propose them as soon as he had acquired experience of the working of his bill of 1842. He had, however, given up the custody of the
great seal before he could carry his intentions into effect,"tt and concluded by stating that “ he knew his noble and learned friend, the Lord Chancellor (St. Leonards), was so anxious to introduce, as far as possible, perfection in every department of the administration of justice under his control, that he might safely leave the case in his hands. He (Lord Lyndhurst) was desirous of consulting and co-operating with him, for the purpose of carrying into effect as many of the suggestions he had made as he thought could be adopted consistently with the security of the lunatic and the advantage of the public.”If Lord St. Leonards intimated that when he had disposed of the measures of Chancery reform then under consideration, he should endeavour to meet Lord Lyndhurst's suggestions. The bill introduced by Lord Lyndhurst was not advanced during that * 120 Hansard, 355. + Ibid. 352. # Ibid. 353. § Ibid. 357. || Ibid. 352. 1 Ibid. 351.
** Ibid. 358, +t Ibid. 350.
88 Ibid. 361,
session, but in the following session Lord St. Leonards, in his speech from the woolsack, on the administration of justice, * announced that his proposed measures of reform would include the law of lunacy, and the three several acts before mentioned (16 and 17 Vict. cc. 70, 96, 97) were introduced and passed.
The “Lunacy Regulation Act, 1853" (16 and 17 Vict. c. 70,) repealed the various acts and portions of acts mentioned in the schedule, and re-enacted so much thereof as was to be retained. This act regulates proceedings under commissions of lunacy, and the management of lunatics so found by inquisition and their estates. The Masters in Lunacy act under a general commission, and instead of a special commission of lunacy being directed to them in each case, they proceed under an order of the Lord Chancellor or Lords Justices,t directing an inquiry into the lunacy; the jury is dispensed with, except where the alleged lunatic demands a jury. Committees are appointed by a simple order, instead of a grant, under the great seal; the practice requiring frequent petitions, reports, and orders, is much simplified; a check is placed upon unnecessary costs; the Masters have enlarged powers for preventing delay in proceedings; the Lord Chancellor's jurisdiction over the lunatic's property is extended so as to provide for almost any imaginary contingency; the fees are reduced to three, which are smail in amount, and are collected by means of stamps; and a moderate percentage is paid on all incomes of 1001. and upwards, for defraying the official expenses incident to the administration of lunatics estates, which includes the percentage heretofore collected under the 3 and 4 Wm. IV. c. 36, for meeting the expense of visiting lunatics. The act extends to England and Wales, and to Ireland where the same is specifically mentioned, § 4; and took effect from the 28th Oct. 1853, $ 5.
We will now consider, more in detail and in their order, some of the principal alterations effected by this statute.
The act recites that it would greatly facilitate the simplification and improvement of the practice in lunacy, and would be attended with convenience, and with a saving of expense to the estates of lunatics, that the charges incident to the administration of the estates of lunatics under the authority of the Lord Chancellor, should be defrayed in part by means of a percentage, graduated in an equitable manner as between the richer and poorer estates, and in part by means of fees on proceedings; and by § 26 it is enacted, that a percentage on the clear annual incomes of all lunatics shall be paid according to the following rates :
The rate of four per centum for each clear annual income amounting to 1001. and not amounting to 10001., but so that no larger sum be payable in any such case, in any one year, than 301. ;
The rate of three per centum for each clear annual income amounting to 10001., and not amounting to 50001., but so that no larger sum be payable in any such case, in any one year, than 1001.; and The rate of two per centum for each clear annual income amounting
* 123 Hansard, 181. + The Lords Justices of the Court of Appeal in Chancery, under warrant from the Crown, have concurrent jurisdiction with the Lord Chancellor in Lunacy.