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the mother denies the birth, but afterwards admits it when she feels that the web is being closely woven round her. Undoubtedly to these circumstances the plea may be perfectly applicable. But is the applicability to depend upon a mere medical theory that in such circumstances the crime of child-murder has been committed, but without responsibility? In other words, is it reasonable to suppose that there is an absence of reason in acts which ex facie involve a reasoning, although a wicked cause? Give by all means to a wellestablished medical fact its true significance—it is a very high boast and very fair evidence of a well-ordered system of law that it gives effect to conclusions which are scientifically sound. But medical tests are not more than instruments in the detection of truth, and like all other methods for arriving at truth they are worse than worthless if they are not guided by the dictates of reason and of common sense, and reject the assistance of general knowledge.
To suin up; the following propositions are involved in our remarks. 1. Evidence in cases of infanticide is not presented to the jury under the same conditions in which they are called upon to weigh evidence in other matters. The medical is separated from the general testimony insteail of the whole evidence being taken as a whole, the effect of which is to determine conviction or acquittal by the theories of experts. It is true that such witnesses are called to speak not to facts but to opinions, but the verdict of the jury should be the result of a consideration of the whole evidence; and after a case has been sent to a jury the only admissible distinction between different parts of the evidence is its greater or less sufficiency. 2. It is inexpedient, even where there is evidence to establish that both the crimes of child-murder and of concealment of pregnancy have been incurred, that they should be combined in the same libel, because the practical effect of that is an invitation to the jury to return a verdict on the minor charge. And there is no necessity for the combination. The distinction between the two crimes is significantly marked, and there is no danger of the one being mistaken for the other. 3. Infanticide, as the wilful taking away of life, should in aggravated cases, or in other words where there is evidence of a deliberate purpose to kill, and no proof of those impulses which the law regards as extenuating circumstances of this crime, be followed by capital punishment. 4. There should be a fixed standard of punishment applicable on the average, and having due regard to mitigating circumstances where these are rested on legal grounds, to those cases in which punishment by death is deemed excessive.
(To the Editor of the Journal of Jurisprudence.) Sir, -It will be conferring a public service if some of your readers will inform me, through your pages, whether it is the fact that a gentleman holding the office of Sheriff-Substitute in Glasgow, is also Inspector of Common Lodging Houses for that city, with a salary of £200 a-year? It appears scarcely consistent with the dignity or with the duties of the judicial office, that one of its occupants should be the official visitor of the brothels of Glassford Street and the cellars of the Saltmarket,-I am, Sir, &c.,
An AnxiouS INQUIRER.
The Late Sir Archibald Alison. --The celebrated Sheriff of Lanarkshire died at the age of 74, on Thursday the 23d May, about half an hour before the close of that day, of an affection of the lungs, the dangerous if not deadly nature of which had been apparent for more than a week. He was the younger son of the Rev. Archibald Alison, who had been educated at Glasgow and at Baliol College, Oxford, and he was born in the parsonage house of Henley, in Shropshire, in the year 1792. His mother was the youngest daughter of Professor John Gregory, of Edinburgh. About eight years after his birth his father left England to become minister of St Paul's Episcopal Cbapel in Edinburgh, and in the first quarter of this century he held a high place in the literary society of Edinburgh as an elegant preacher, and the author of two volumes of Sermons and of an essay on “ The Nature and Principles of Taste,” which is little known now except from Jeffrey's late review of it, which is itself not much known. Sir Archibald and his elder brother were educated at Edinburgh University. The elder brother, by name William Pulteney, afterwards became Dr. Alison, and was much respected and even loved in Edinburgh as a man of much benevolence, ever ready to give the poor the benefit of his skill, and to give them his money freely when he thought that money was the thing which was most required. In his “ Past and Present” Carlyle has written of him as " the brave and humane Dr. Alison, who speaks what he knows, whose noble healing art in his charitable hands becomes once more a truly sacred one,”—words which are likely to keep the family name above oblivion as long as any. Archibald passed as advocate in 1814, and then travelled it is said for eight years, probably because he had little or nothing to do in his profession. Through his father's influence and his personal profession of the political faith of Toryism he was appointed an advocate-depute in 1823, and was lucky enough to remain in office with his party for seven years. During this period he had been under the necessity of studying the criminal law of Scotland, and in the next four years, having a good deal of leisure, he spent part of his time in the composition of his well-known treatise on "The Principles and Practice of the Criminal Law of Scotland." In 1834, the Tories being again in power, and the office of Sheriff of Lanarkshire having fallen vacant by the death of William Rose Robinson, he was appointed to the vacant office, and he has held it ever since. His History of Europe, from the commencement of the French Revolution in 1789 to the Restoration of the Bourbons in 1815, was completed in 1842, and a revised edition of it was published in 1860, as well as of a continuation bringing it down to the end of the Crimean War. In 1845 he was elected Lord Rector of Marischal College, Aberdeen, by the students. In 1850 Glasgow University students conferred the same honour on him. In 1852 Lord Derby's government created him a baronet, and would have appointed him a judge in the Court of Session if that could have been done without an outrageous disregard of decency. The late Lord Justice Clerk Hope is said to have stoutly opposed Sir Archibald's translation from Glasgow. Certainly he did not like Sir Archibald, but it is also certain that if he opposed the promotion of so distinguished a figure of his own party he did it on grounds satisfactory to, and probably imperative upon his conscience. Could Sir Archibald have seen into the realities of the proposal he would not have desired to be removed from the leisure, dignity, and virtual supremacy which he enjoyed in Glasgow, the commercial metropolis of the kingdom, to the chair of Junior Lord Ordinary with its irksome details, inevitable work, and ill-natured critics.
The life of Sir Archibald Alison was full, wonderfully full of honours. Whether he deserved them all, and if not how he attained them, are questions not to be settled at this time, and not likely to be of much interest a hundred or even fifty years hence. In Glasgow there are many who believe, or at least who profess to believe, that his merits have not been adequately rewarded ; in Edinburgh there are few who would hesitate to announce a contrary opinion. Probably the truth is between the extreme opinions—that is to say, he was not such a genius as he is reckoned in Lanarkshire, not so much of the reverse as he is reckoned in the critical metropolis. So far as we can judge, his mind was essentially and entirely commonplace, except in power of application. The work he did, especially the literary work, in point of quantity attests a very rare industrial faculty, which in itself is worthy of not a little admiration and praise. Not one man in ten thousand could have gone through the toil of writing so many volumes; but probably not one man in a million would have thought the work worth doing after he understood it, and would not have been smitten with such a disbelief in it as would
have rendered the labour more odious than the tread-mill. Perhaps the secret of Alison's going through it was that he never took time to understand it. He is ever pushing along in breathless haste, with pulse dancing, face flushed, eye dazzled and hot and dim, caring little where he is travelling, provided he maintain his pace and can keep up the belief that he is in rapid motion through space and time, and the dust and shadows of both, under the guidance of that Providence which is always unrolling itself in favour of the Tories. Does he describe the battle of Waterloo ? He gives the dust, smoke, hurry, and confusion, but does he give a clear or rational idea of any thing? Does he describe a battle that an artillerist, or a natural philosopher, who knows the laws of projectiles, or a general can understand? Does he not tell a great deal which they all know cannot possibly be true? In short, is there any branch of human knowledge of which he writes, and he writes of many, of which he does not shew his superficial knowledge and his profound ignorance? His similes nearly all betray inaccurate information and thought. He blunders in geography, and his criticisms of modern English literature are unrivalled in absurdity. Of his work on Criminal Law, on which we are best entitled to pronounce an opinion in these pages, we do not hesitate to declare that though it be the work that he bestowed most study upon, and is probably the most accurate of all his works, there is not a respectable work in Scottish legal literature which is so inaccurate. No junior counsel ever read much at it who was not misled by it. Out of Glasgow it could not be listened to as an authority, and although it has been already called “the standard authority” we feel assured that it never will be recognized as such. Still it is a highly readable, interesting treatise, useful for suggestions and references, but dangerous to rely upon for principles, or even for facts.
As a judge, Sir Archibald Alison was distinguished by the same marvellous powers of industry and of inaccuracy which he manifested as an author. He did more work than any four or five ordinary sheriffs, but he made more egregious blunders than all the sheriffs in Scotland put together. His interlocutors contained perversions of fact as glaring as any in the pages of his history, and more easy of detection, seeing that the evidence which afforded the means of detection was printed in the same paper. No man who has heard his judgments discussed and reviewed in the First and Second Divisions would believe any fact upon his statement of it. He did not intend to mis-state, but he did it with a success which an intentional perverter of fact could not have achieved. His mind was an uneven mirror, the reflections and distortions of which baffled, surprised, defied imagination. He always, however, got through his judicial work and cleared it off his hands in some way, and his faculty of having done with it, however erroneously, endeared him to many of the busy legal gentlemen of Glasgow so much, that their ideal of law reform never went beyond giving finality to his deci
sions. He was always very polite and dignified in his bearing towards those who appeared to plead before him. The interlocutor when it appeared might be rather astonishing, but there were no rankling memories of judicial insolence during the debate. The truth is, Sir Archibald was by birth, education, and disposition, a gentleman, not quite perfect, perhaps, but tolerably perfect for a lawyer. He did not hurt the feelings of any one: he was kind and courteous to all. Indeed, some of his errors in law were pretty distinctly traceable to his goodness of heart. But for his personal amiability he would not have succeeded in life as he did, nor been idolized in Glasgow by those who saw most of him as he was. He was really faithful to Glasgow as Glasgow was to him, and this must be his excuse for discovering among Glasgow procurators so much heaven-born genius worthy to be raised to the Glasgow judicial bench as he did.
In person Sir Archibald was a handsome man, at least ladies thought so. He was tall, fair-haired, and blue-eyed. His features were cast in the mould of intellect, but we never could avoid the conviction that the mould was hereditary rather than individual. There was a deficiency of life and keenness about his expression. The features of men of high intellect seem in general to be formed of marble, or of bronze, but his seemed to be formed of the desertsand.
We are sorry not to be able to write of him, now that he is gone beyond the reach of censure, in more kindly and eulogistic terms. But it is necessary in these days of complimentary obituary platitudes to speak the truth for the benefit of the living. Undue praise is of no consequence at this hour to Sir Archibald Alison, but the truth is of some consequence to all who aspire to positions and honours of which they are unworthy, and to those unjust persons who help them to reach the altitude of their aspirations. Of his character as a man we say nothing, except that he was liked and respected by those who knew him best. Had he filled a humbler sphere, and been less famous as a manufacturer of incumbrances for book-shelves, he would have escaped our censure, and would, we doubt not, have lived a more useful, and died a happier man.
Retirement of Mr Currie.—Alexander Currie, Esq., has resigned the office of Principal Clerk of Session which he has held since 1856. He was called to the Bar in 1820, and at one time enjoyed a large practice, his written pleadings under the former system being of great merit. He was appointed an Advocate Depute, and previous to his appointment as P.C.S. he had for some time been Sheriff of Banffshire. Mr Currie was more than a merely ornamental appendage to the Court, and the absence of his well-known figure at the table of the First Division will be felt and regretted by all.
The Toomer Case. It is satisfactory that Mr Walpole should, before his resignation of office, have been compelled to do a tardy