COMMISSION OF LUNACY—MR. BRAND.
WE merely adverted to the institution of this commission in our last. It has since assumed, were we to estimate its value by the space which it occupies among ourbrethren of the broad sheet, no mean importance. 'The secret, however, of thevery extended reports of the Commission does mot lie in its involving any principle unknown to other commissions, nor in the peculiar gravity or frivolity of the proof by which Chancery—to whosecare, as well fitted for the purpose, the law has seen fit to give up all the madmen and unprotected children of the community who have the means of handsomely, paying their venerable guardian—seeks to imprison a respectable man for life after wasting one moiety of his estate to prove that he is incapable of managing the other. The true secret of the matter is, thatthe French Revolution having settled down too .quietly—the King being out of town—the elections finished—no hurri- canes abroad to destroy the harvest—no news indeed at all stirring.—a case like that of Mr. Brand is looked on as a kind of godsend, not be- cause it discloses anything worth reading, but because it furnishes the means, as Mr. Adolphus says of Mr. St. John Long's secret, of filling a page. We said last week that the circumstance of Mr. Brand's managing his own case seemed ar facie proof that he was no more mad than his doctors. We spoke on the faith of the old proverb, which says that he who is his own lawyer will have a fool for his cliez.. Now it is pretty well established, that folly is as far removed from madness as wisdom is ; indeed, Dryden, who tells "that great wits to madness closely are al- fled," would seem to prove that the wise man and the madman are the more nearly related of the two. Looking, however, to the very astute manner in which Mr. Brand has managed his defence, we are almost in- clined to doubt the truth of the proverb, and to acknowledge that a man may manage his own case without mismanaging it. The charges against Mr. Brand, taken per se, are sufficiently con-
temptible. He had a habit of speaking to himself; a habit which we have known hundreds of the soberest of human kind indulge in. He had a notion that certain portraits in the Suffolk Street Gallery resem- bled his acquaintances ; perhaps they did not, but when we attend to What is called likeness, which frequently is no more than a similarity of expression, it seems no mighty proof of madness for a man to be de- ceived on that head. He had also certain fears of assault ; which were in all probability quite groundless, but how many groundless fears has the wisest man ? We call these whims' hobbies, oddities ; but no one but a fool calls them madness. Again, he was a great buyer of shells. Is a rare book, merely because of its rarity, more valuable than a rare shell? And yet no man has counselled a commission of lunacy against Earl Spencer, or attempted to hand, over Dr. Dibclin to.Dr. Burroughs. Agahi,-Mr. Brand was told, after he was confined, that it was by the orders of the Duke of Wellington ; and a person was introduced to him as the Duke of 'Wellington; , and he having, under these circumstances, written some letters to the Duke of Wellington, he must be mad. A. man who is capable of being deceived by his friends, is to be set down iii- cane as a mere matter of course ! Another decided proof of madness is found in .Mr. Brand's treatment of Alderman Wood. The worthy Alderman, whose wisdom is absolute, and therefore subject to no im- peachment, visits Mr. Brand, to see if he be sane or not ; and Mr. Brand is rather angry. We really. think this is one of the cases in which a man may be angry without sinning. We are exceeding
.patient and long-suffering ourselves, but were the worthy Alder- man to pay us a visit with a similar purpose, we can not promise that we would not kick him down stairs. To be sure we dread no commission of lunacy that ever assembled : we have a defence that would bear us harmless were we as mad as a March hare—we have no estate large enough to bribe the lawyers to convict us of incapacity. Mr. Brand's case was different. There were several other charges ; one of which was, that Mr. Brand had two coaches for travelling in, one for himself, and another for his wife ! He drank a great deal of port, smoked a great many cigars, and when lie had drunk and smoked, he was much given to ravishing kisses from ladies and to knocking down their lords ! To crown all, he was very extravagant ; so much so, that if the Commission had not been brought forward soon, it was not impossible that he would not leave sufficient means to pay the expenses of it. Now we do not say that Mr. Brand is sane or insane ; but we think that a more trumpery case never was made the subject of solemn inquiry. There is no apology necessary for remarking on a lunatic commission. The utmost evil that can ensue from a verdict of " sane," will be permission to Mr. Brand, if he be mad, to play the madman for a monthor two, until evidence by acts unquestionable can be furnished of the state of his mind ; for notwithstanding all the subtilty of lawyers, and mysticism of doctors, there never were two opinions among men of plain common sense touching the symptoms of real madness. On the contrary, a verdict of insane, if hastily or unjustly pronounced, will cut off the unhappy gentleman for ever from society, plunder him --of One half of his fortune, and hand over the rest it may be to one whom lie very cordially dislikes,—two things which might mike a madman of Socrates.
We have given in a few words a summary of the charges against Mr. Brand's sanity ; but his case would be incomplete, were we not to give the very ingenious speech which he made on Wednesday in his defence. We have seen may speeches, and heard not a few ; but we never read or heard one that afforded less proof of mental aberration than the fol- lowing. Mr. Brand spoke standing, and in a clear firm tone :— " Messrs. Commissioners and Gentlemen of the Jury—I rise to ad-
dress you, beset with great, but I trust, not insurmountable difficulties. I will not claim your compassion, when I state that I have never before addressed a British Jury, or any public assembly,—that I have only once before seen a British Jury; I will not pretend any want of confi- dence in the merits of my case, or in [my power of conducting it : such .exeuses,.on
an occasion which should awaken the mind to the full stretch . .
Its powers, are always puerile, or argue a pitiful affectation in the the beginning of my confinement, assured me that I was confined by foul that uses them. If I am possessed of an ordinary share of calmness his order. It was long before I could suppose that any man durst make and presence of mind, if I have common sense, and some knowledge of use of the name of the Prime Minister without his authority; and I the language in which I have to 'address you, I trust I shall not, on the present occasion, Avant words to express myself. The difficulties which have to complain-of, arise from far other causes—from my illegal. and violent arrest and iinprisonment—from the cruel treatment I have expe.. rienced during my detention—from the total absence of any medical men of my own choosing,—and from the refusal of permission for any witnesses to be present, of the treatment to which I have been subjected. I acknowledge that through these means my mind has been so harassed, fatigued, and agitated,.during the month preceding this inquiry, that I cannot but feel astonished that I have made use of so little vio- lent or indecent language, and that my acts have not been more furious towards the miscreants by whom I have been surrounded. But, gentlemen of the jury, a mind harassed and fatigued, is not necessarily' impaired ; excited by a collision of extraordinary and vexatious dream. stances, it may have recovered its equilibrium when those circumstances have ceased to agitate it. The human mind is never of a nature so uniformly calm and unruffled, but that instances of irritability and ex- asperation may sometimes be discovered ; the warmest and most benevo- lent temperament is never so well regulated by education, experience, and religion, but that some ebullitions of fretfulness or even of fury' may occasionally be excited. I cannot pretend to more firmness of mind, whether arising from education or religion, than is possessed by the generality of mankind. On the other hand, the cruelty and vexation to which I have been subjected during the last two or three months, have been unusually severe and distressing. I think I can prove, to the satisfaction of the jury, that a fair judgment of my sanity or insanity. cannot be made from the times and occurrences to which their attention has been directed; but even, during the period in which it has been attempted to prove me mad, I hope also to be able to prove that I never lost my memory or understanding : and here I must beg to observe, that I am undertaking more than is requisite. Have I mistaken one thing for another ? Have I ever been unconscious of what I have been doing ? Have I not always had the faculty to distinguish the nature of actions, to discern the difference between moral good and evil ? Have the springs of my mind lost their elasticity ? Have I not had the power of the guidance of my own,. as much as most reasonable men would have had under the same circumstances ? Some of the witnesses have asserted that they think me labouring under delu- sions. Some of those things which they call delusions I can prove to your satisfaction to be no delusions at all ; and if in some respects I have* been subject to delusions, by what or by whose means have those delu- sions been carried on ? By those very men who imprisoned me illegally' —who are employed to disgrace me and to drive me mad, and whose interest it is to prove me so. Although a wise and sensible man will. seldom deceive himself, he may be deceived by circumstances, and even. deceive others ; yet, so long as he refrains from disturbing the peace.of society, and the established order of things,: 'he cannot be thought a-' 'Wicked man, still leis a madman. But, to, go further—passion is not insanity—crime is not insanity—vice is not itoani.ty7-and am L-to-he thought insane Merely because I preferred disgrace-to crime, and ainati- house to a compromise with scoundrels? With regard to , the appear- -- ances which the Witnesses asserted were the offspring of my own nation, I fancied none to exist except in situations where their existence, if it cannot be proved, cannot be disproved ; and those portraits which have been stated to bear no resemblance except in my. own imagination, I shall request you to compare with the living originals.. And here:I request you to take notice that my case is very different from that of the unfortunate Hatfielil, who, in 1810, made an attempt in the theatre on the King's life. Thinking that he himself was king, he looked in a mirror and felt on his head for his crown. I beg to quote to you the opinicul.of Collinson in the preface to his Treatise concerning Idiots and Lunatics- • I must repeat a few words of Greek and Latin in order that I may not be accused of giving a mutilated quotation :—` Every person,' says he, whose imagination is occasionally defective in judgment can. - not be considered insane ; otherwise, I am afraid there are few-, if any, who would not feel themselves comprehended in the circumference of so extended a circle.. The observation is not new, that were the wisest of men to act always with the folly and inconsistency which sometimes attend their conduct, they would no longer hold a place among rational beings. Insanity, however, does not consist in a temporary neglect or
forgetfulness of our powers, but in the absence of them. It is a state and habit of the mind, and by no means a mere act ; ag, and not csa,45;
and must, therefore, have had some continuance in point of time, for qyZn, 4400:07yansti:o &I ;Est; 711,0Yral. The judgment of the imagination cannot be deemed imperfect in that degree which constitutes disease, .:.
unless it form unnatural associations or morbid images, of continuance enough to become habitual, nor to be corrected at will, and of sufficient importance to have a probable influence on the conduct of life. And the
latter observation is to be particularly attended to in a legal view of the subject, for the capacity required by the law is to transact common mat.
ters like common men. Itlediocritatein ogiciorum tueri, et vita cultunt communenz et usitatum. I need scarcely request you, gentlemen of the jury, to do towards me as you might reasonably wish to be done towards
you in a similar situation, to consider that acts of violence are palliated, and in some instances excused, by the provocation that caused them; and that, after all, they are subjects for a civil or criminal court, and not for the present inquiry. I beg you to confine your attention
to the simple question, whether I am or am not a madman or an idiot. I have not, nor do I wish to have, that serenity of mind which can witness the sudden and unfortunate death of a pretty woman without a shock ; nor do I envy that man his mag. nanimity who can resign his own wife without a struggle. Yet
the Want of such magnanimity and calmness are the proofs of insanity. which have been alleged against me. With respect to the letters which I wrote to the Duke of Wellington and to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, I have only to state that they were written partly in joke and partly in earnest ; on the other hand, you will have the goodness to recollect that, before I wrote the last three letters to the
Duke of Wellington (one of which has not been produced, but which I wish to have read), a sham Duke of Wellington had been introduced to me ; and the witnesses themselves have acknowledged that they, fro=
am oblige d in candour to admit that, if I were again to be confined under similar circumstances, I thould probably, by irritation which no human mind an withstand, be driven, before the expiration of two years, to a state of complete madness, from which I probably could never be recovered. I now stand before you as much in the calm possession of my senses and reason as a man can be : and if, by your decision, I am freed from the oppressive and unnecessary tyranny I now endure, I shall be guilty of no acts or threats of violence towards those who have rendered my native country an unfit abode for me ; but I must repeat my determination to leave England for ever, unless those who have attempted to threw horrid imputations on my character, and confined me as a madman, be properly punished. This determination is no proof of insanity, but the act of a man whose last prayers will be offered up for the prosperity of England, where he can no longer be of any service either to individuals or the public. I have no- thing more to add but my thanks to the Jury and the Court for their patient attention, and to Mr. Sergeant Teddy for having abstained from using any technical terms of law, which would have been unintelligible to me ; and further, for having saved me the trouble of submenaing Miles, the gardener, whose evidence I consider favourable to myself." We shall subjoin the evidence of Mr. Brodie the surgeon; and we need not say that his evidence is most valuable—for all writers who are worth the slightest attention, concur in denominating insanity a bodily disease, always accompanied by symptoms of physical as well as mental disorder ; and also that of the two persons with whom Mr. Brand lodged at CaMberwell. Dr. Brodie says—He had attended Mr. Brand, who was said to heve been ill of hydrocele ; he visited him some days ago ; saw a marks of insanity at that time ; he was in a state of excitement, but not more so than might be expected from a person under his peculiar cir- ctimstances. When Mr: Brodie saw him on that occasion, Mr. Brand had just returned from the commission which had been sitting that day ; saw nothing now-i]1 Mr. Brand's conduct or manner that should induce Jim (Mr. Brodie) to think him insane.
Mrs. Harris, after stating that Mr. Brand lodged at her house, said, she was never afraid of him. Never saw him agitated, except when tinted lately by a Mr. Page. Recollects that gentleman, Dr. Paris, and Alderman 'Wood, calling. They said it was unsafe for Mr. Brand to remain Without a keeper. They wished a keeper to remain in the house. Witness objected, as she thought there was no occasion for it. A crowd assembled round the door. Mr. Brand turned Alderman Wood out of the house. She never saw anything the matter with Mr. Brand, if he Was eot 'Cited. Recollects Mr. Brand saying he was ready to go before a Britith jury, if allowed his own medical attendants. By the desire of 'Mr. Alderman Wood and Dr:Paris, she had placed Mr. Brand's razors in her table-drawer. Mr. Brand, however, asked for them again ; and When shaving, Mr. Brand was perfectly composed. *She saw the.ecuffie between Alderman Wood, Dr. Paris, and Mr. Brand. She did not`tbink Mr. Brand meant to ttike Dr. Paris. Mr. Brand had camplatned of a confusion 'of- names, if tiva persons were mentioned to him. On the ' Sunday be had complained or a stable smell, and stood at the window. There was no smell in the house. He objected to Alderman Wood and Dr. Paris coming in. Heard Mr. Brand say that his bodily health was never 'better than-at that time. She would not have any objection to stay in the lame room with Mr. Brand alone, if no one came to irritate Aim, and tell him he was mad.
'hr. Harris, the husband, said he had never seen any thingindicating in- nanity in Mr. Brand before Alderman Wood caned. He was not aware of ay plea for confining Mr. Brand as a madman. Heavould have been more iteitated than Mr. Brand was,'had his friends come to confine him as a madman. He would not be afraid to stop in the same room without a keeper with Mr. Brand. He saw nothing in Mr. Brand's conduct to think him insane. He would sooner be in the company of Mr. Brand alone, than in the company of a road doctor or a keeper. There are few persons who will doubt the soundness of Mr. Harris's choice. No one would voluntarily trust himself in the society of a mad doctor or a keeper, that was quite at his ease in the company of a mad bull or a mad dog. To other questions, Mr. Harris replied, that he had thought Mr. Brand rational after the interview With Dr. Paris and Alderman Wood. He had had private conversation with Mr. Brand Within the last two days. He was a father of seven children ; would have no objection to allow his children to be alone with Mr. Brand.
Mr. Brand sometimes paid him his bills and took a receipt ; and he saw nothing different from other men in Mr. Brand's method of settling ac- counts. He would receive Mr. Brand into his house directly if that gen. 21tman were released from constraint.
The further discussion was adjourned to this forenoon. One of the _linesmen was very anxious for all the evidence, and declared his willing- ness to sit for six weeks rather than not hear it all. We have no doubt that special jurymen could be found without difficulty who would have no objection to sit six years. We rather think, however, the question may be conscientiously settled in less than even six weeks.