13 DECEMBER 1856, Page 24

CAMBRIDGE ESSAYS. * IN point of literary ability, the second volume

of " Essays" by members of the University of Cambridge is equal to the first. The topics on which it is exercised, and often the treatment itself, have not the living interest of the first volume : and unless a periodical work has this interest—comes home in some way to the contemporary feelings or supposed substantial advantages of men, mere literary merit however great will not obtain a general hold upon the public at large, but exercise its power in special and limited channels. The absence of editorial control may be visible in the freshness which it imparts to each paper. The conjoint unity and variety that may be produced by a single editor com- petent to his task, and the smoothing down of personal peculiari- ties of manner without losing individuality of character, are ob- viously wanting in the present -volume.

Of the nine papers, Waddington's " Protestant Church and Religious Liberty in France " is the one that bears most directly on the present feelings of mankind. The subject, indeed, is somewhat distant from the social or material interests of the day ; but it strikes the chords of religious sympathy, and contains a good deal of curious information, that will be new to many. The author takes a rapid glance at the condition of the Pro- testants in France from the repeal of the Edict of. Nantes un-

• Cambridge Essays, contributed by Members of the University. 1856. Fublisbea by Parker and Son.

der Louis the Fourteenth till the accession of Louis the Six- teenth ; pointing out the legal disabilities, " the penal laws," to which Protestants were liable in the " most polished country" of the world, and the atrocious persecutions to which they were subjected in provincial districts, till the pen of Voltaire, rousing public opinion' interposed some check upon local magistrates. It was not till 1787 that the legal disabilities of the Protestants were removed,—that their wives, for example, ceased to be con- cubines, their children bastards, in the eye of the law ; though active persecution ended with the commencement of the reign of Louis the Sixteenth. It was only during the first Revolution and the Republic of 1848 that religious liberty existed in France. Na- poleon was personally favourable to the Protestants, but their liberty of action was controled. Under the Restoration, they were locally persecuted in the South to an extent beyond what was known at the time ; nor did outrages cease at Nismes till the Protestants stood to arms. There was no State persecution by the old Bourbons, though there was a good deal of priestly vexatious interference. The heaviest general pressure on the Protestants since Louis the Fifteenth's time has been under Louis Philippe and the present Emperor. The persecution, or whatever it may be called, arises from a strained interpretation of the Code, which forbade public meetings except by permission of the authorities. This was remedied under the Republic of 1848 ; but religious freedom did not long survive the Republic's downfall. "In March 1852, soon after the coup d'etat, the President of the Re- public issued a fresh decree against clubs and political associations ; it ab- rogated the decree of July 1848, and- declared Article 291 of the Penal Code applicable to public meetings of every description whatsoever. The ene- mies of the Protestants soon took advantage of the new law, which was ap- parently directed against political meetings alone, but which was worded in such a manner as to include religious meetings. Accordingly, the pastor of Mainers was prosecuted in the course of 1853 ; and when the case came be- fore the Supreme Court, it declared that, under the decree of March 1852, no religious meeting could be held without the permission of the authorities. "There was nothing to be done but to submit. The law was formal ; there were no longer a Chamber of Deputies to appeal to and liberal members ready to take the defence of religious freedom; the press was gagged, and the legislative body the mere parody of a representative assembly. The de- cision of the Court of Cessation was followed in several places by the arbi- trary closing of the places of worship belonging to the Protestants, and par- ticularly to the Free Church. The Prefect of the Haute Vienne distin- guished himself by his zeal in this crusade. In 1851 he had already made an ineffectual attempt to stop the preaching of the doctrines of the Reformed Church in his department; he now caused all the places of worship and the schools to be closed, and ordered the gendarmerie, or mounted police, to prevent by force the Protestants from holding their meetings. But the congregations were determined not to remain without that spiritual instruc- tion which had become a necessity for theme; nor would they renounce the faith which they had but recently embramed,—for the Protestants of the Haute Vienne are almost without exception converts from Catholicism, and the event has proved that their conversion was sincere. Not being able to meet in their villages without being immediately denounced and dispersed, they met in the woods, in secluded hollows among the hills, and there, under the shadow of some spreading chestnut-tree, such as abound in that part of France, their pastor would preach to them the gospel which they loved to hear, while sentinels posted on the surrounding eminences watched the approaches and guarded against a surprise. Thus were the assemblies de desert once more renewed in France in the middle of the nineteenth century, and at a time when not one Frenchman in a thousand would be- lieve the thing possible ; for in France every one believes in the existence of religious liberty except Government and the priests. These meetings au desert continued, notwithstanding the exertions of the local authorities, and the fines imposed upon several poor peasants guilty of having worshiped God after their own fashion."

Two other papers have a practical bearing on affairs, though in a limited and scholastic way. One is by Dr. Maine, late Queen's Professor of Civil Law, on the influence of the study of Roman Law in forming the legal mind, and the importance of making it a branch of legal education. The other is by Professor Grote, on Old Studies and New,—that is to say, the system of training the mind by means of dead languages and other fixed sciences, or of im- parting knowledge by physical philosophy and special studies. The most generally interesting essay after the paper on Protestants in France is Mr. Ellicott's critical and descriptive account of the Apocryphal Gospels, in the form of a notice of Tisehendorf s edition of the Evanyelica Apocrypha. The subject, in a limited way, is more popularly accessible than the writer seems to sup- pose ; for William Hone, many years ago, published. translations of some of these " Gospels." The suspicion attached to Hone's name and objects, with the more straitlaced character of the age in religious inquiries, limited the circulation of the book. Mr. Ellicott takes a scholarly view of the whole subject, and by con- densing the "arguments " of the more important books, and ju- diciously selecting his specimen extracts, he escapes the tedium or puerility of the originals. How far he may err in the pious merit he assigns to these legendary tales of Christ and his family, must be left for divines to settle. The paper is very curious. Take, for example, -a summary account of the Virgin Mary, from babyhood to the birth of Christ.

" The child gains strength day by day. When only six months old she walks seven steps - when a year old she is introduced, at a solemn feast given by Joachim, to the priests and elders of Israel ; when three years old she is brought with solemnity to the temple. The priest receives her with the be- nedictory words, ' The. Lord magnified thy name in all the generations : in thee in the last lays will the Lord reveal his redemption to the sons of Is- rael.' He sets her on the third step of the altar ; `she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her.' Mary is brought up ' like a dove' in the temple, and receives her food from an angel. When twelve years of age, by a warning of God to the high-priest, Zacharias, she is to be given to the protection of some widowed Israelite who is to be pointed out by a Divine sign. All are to appear with rods. The high-priest receives from each man his rod, and with prayer returns them : Joseph receives his last ; when, lo ! out of it flies a dove, which hovers round his head. Mary is then, notwith- standing his reluctance, given to him to be protected (sty Themny iatrrii)

and watched over. She goes away with him, and spins purple for the rail of the temple.

"As she goes forth one day to draw water, she hears a voice saying to her Hail, thou favoured one ; the Lord is with thee ; blessed art thou among women.' She returns in fear to the house, and there sees an angel, who tells her (in words resembling those of St. Luke) that she shall be mother of the Redeemer. Shortly after this she visits Elizabeth, with whom she stays three months. Six months after the annunciation, Joseph returns from buildings he had been employed in (dad 7171I, 01 ,codo OSe ai'rob), and is shocked at the state in which he finds his virgin wife. In vain does she pro- test that she is innocent; he loads her with reproaches, and resolves to put her away privily. Before he is able to carry out his plan, the affair is told to the high-priest by Annas the scribe, who when calling on Joseph, per- ceives Mary's situation. The high-priest instantly summons both, and bit- terly reproaches them : both weep and protest their innocence. Both, how- ever, are made to drink the water of proof, and are sent away into the moun- tains; they return sound, and are solemnly acquitted by the high-priest. "Then comes the order from Augustus for the enrolment of all in Beth- lehem."

In " The Text of Shakespeare," by Dr. Charles Badham, the manuscript annotations of Mr. Collier's celebrated volume of course come in for a large share of consideration; Dr. Badham arriving at the same conclusion as the Spectator when Mr. Collier first published his discovery—that until we know more about the original emendator, his annotations can claim no authority, but must " stand for what they are worth." Dr. Badham exhibits a thorough knowledge of the state of Shakspere's text as found in the early editions, with the improvements of the various editors. His own emendations do not all strike us as being obviously happy ; so wide is the difference between judging and doing. Two of the other papers are on critical or scholastic subjects; Dr. Donaldson's " On English Ethnography," and Mr. Cope on " The Taste for the Picturesque among the Greeks," or more properly on their want of taste and association of the beautiful (in landscape) with the useful. A long paper on the life and literary Character of Coleridge, by Mr. Hort, exhibits the author's deep impression of the genius and influence of the poet-philo- sopher, without carrying his own convictions to the reader. " The Fly-Fisher and his Library," by Mr. Francis, is a fresh and open-air description of the scenery into which his sport carries the votary of "high art" in angling ; while the criticism on the best books upon the subject shows the writer's literary taste, as his notes on their errors or heresies imlicate his practical skill.

DR. TAYLOR ON POISONING BY STRYCHNIA.* THE subject of this volume, apart from the author's connexion with the case of Palmer and the medical controversies arising out of it, is to establish the true principles that go to prove death from poison. These, Dr. Taylor holds, consist in the medical symp- toms, and not in the mere fact of finding the poison in the body. It is not discovering the poison that can alone be held as conclu- sive ; for with some poisons this detection is as yet impossible. The judgment must be formed from the symptoms preceding death, the mode of dying, the after-appearances of the body, and indeed all the physiological and pathological circumstances, apart from "the crude speculations of chemistry."

Of course the facts and proceedings in Palmer's case form the main matter of the discussion, as they have indeed given rise to the book. Dr. Taylor's personal position and personal soreness appear conspicuously throughout, and tend to remove the investi- gation from the calmness of philosophic inquiry. The question of Palmer's trial, guilty or not guilty, turns up in the dis- cussion though the cause of death is obviously quite distinct from the charge of murder. If it be true that several poisons cannot be detected in the dead body, the proposition is self-evi- dent, that in coming to a conclusion as to the cause of death we must have recourse to the symptoms. The main point at issue in Dr. Taylor's mind, and his title, Can we always detect " poison- ing by stryehnia" ? seems established in the negative as regards the chemical production of the poison. Something depends upon the dose, something upon the condition of the patient. With a dose large enough and only large enough to cause death, detection may be difficult or indeed impossible ; or circumstances particular to the patient may occur to increase this difficulty. As regards the application to Palmer's case, the circumstances were conclusive enough. The first day's medical testimony for the prosecution clearly established that Cook's death was attended by symptoms unknown in any natural disorder, and peculiar to poisoning by strychnia ; and the same admission was extracted from several witnesses for the defence. The stomach when brought to Dr. Taylor had been entirely cut open and deprived of its contents ; so that, even if strychma could be uniformly detected, there were not the means of detection in Cook's case. And by detection we mean, the actual separation of the poison, or at least the unmis- takeable taste, not the discovery of " the fifty-thousandth part of a grain," by such a varying and unsatisfactory test as a tinge of colour.

The limits of duty on the part of an advocate avowedly paid to " do the best he can" for his client, has been often discussed, and limits laid down beyond which he should not pass, though without much practical success when the fee is large enough to stimulate undue zeal. Another and a very serious question arises in connexion with Palmer's trial: is it fitting for scientific men to turn advocates in the guise of witnesses ; and if not know- ingly to advance what is false, yet so to shape their evidence

• On Poisoning by Strychnia, with Comments on the Medical Evidence siren at the Trial of William Palmer for the Murder of John Parsons Cook. By Alfred S. Taylor, M.D., F.R.S., Lecturer on Medical Jurisprudence and Chemistry in Cuy's Hospital. Published by Longman and Co. as to have the effect of falsehood? One point, perhaps the che- mical point chiefly at issue in the case, was, Is a dose of strychnia just sufficient to cause death so changed after absorption that it cannot be detected in the stomach ? The witnesses for the de- fence mostly gave doses of so large an amount that death en- sued before the whole quantity was absorbed, and then swore to the detection. The question is treated by Dr. Taylor at great

i comparative length, including a report of experiments made by Dr. Chrsstison, Dr. Maclagan, and himself. The point is put in the neatest form by Dr. Crawcour, Professor of Chemistry and Me- dical Jurisprudence at New Orleans ; and he seems too far away to be biased by feeling on one side or the other. The following

extract is from a paper published in the New Orleans Medical Gazette for September. " To assert that the minutest quantity of any poison can be detected in the human body, because an infinitesimal quantity can be detected out of it, is to assert a dogma that yet remains to be proved.' After stating that ana- logy is strongly in favour of the view that strychnia, like caffein, their, and quinine, does undergo changes in the organism, he contends that ' we can only arrive at the truth by administering to animals the minutest doses of any organicpoisons that will cause death, or even such as are insufficient to destroy, and then searching in all the tissues for the poison.' * * * In reference to the trial of Palmer, Dr. Taylor mentioned that he bad given to a rabbit two grains of strychnia, and had detected the poison with ease ; to another he had given one grain, and could only perceive a bitter taste , in a third, killed by half a grain, no trace of the poison existed. It would seem, therefore, that half a grain is the quantity capable of assimilation in a rabbit. In order to examine for myself, I gave to a rabbit half a grain of strychnia, and to render it more easy of absorption I administered it in solution. The rabbit died in half an hour. The next day I made a rigid and searching analysis, but could find no trace of strychnia.'

"This is the testimony of a scientific observer, living at a distance of some thousands of miles, and having no interest to support the view taken either for the prosecution or defence at the trial of Palmer. Such inde- pendent testimony as this, taken together with other facts of a similar kind recorded in this paper, shows that the main point in the defence of Wil- liam Palmer turned upon as gross and dangerous a fallacy as ever was propounded in an English court of law!"

The counsel for the defence sailed as close as may be to the line which the most liberal casuists have laid down for an advocate. Here is part of the examination of Dr. Rees by Mr. Grove, with a view to show that strychnia when absorbed may be detected.

"' Q. You have told us that you consider the poison must be absorbed ; do you know that when absorbed it has been found in the blood and tissues ? A. I do not know of any satisfactory experiment to that effect. Q. Do you know that Orfila has found it in matter that has been putrefied for a long time ? A. I am not aware of it : I do not think of necessity that putre- faction would destroy it : it may. Q. In Mr. Cook's case putrefaction had hardly set in ? A. We had the body approaching the condition, but there was no very marked degree of decomposition.'

"Tine answers given by Dr. Rees were perfectly consistent and proper. But what can be said of a series of questions of this kind emanating from a scientific man ? The second question, in reference to the discovery of strychnia by Orfila in putrefied matter, is ingeniously made to follow one in which the counsel had asked the witness whether, when the poison had been absorbed, it had been found in the blood and tissues. On the witness replying that he knew of no satisfactory experiment to that effect, (a per- fectly correct answer, for up to the date of the poisoning of Cook, strychnia had not been found in the blood and tissues,) the counsel immediately sug- gested Orfila's experiment, the results of which had not the slightest bear- ing on the detection of absorbed strychnia."

Now what does Orfila himself say in reference to his experi- ment for detecting strychnia, mixed with various Chatter in a jar, (not given to a living body,) after the matter had been allowed to putrefy ?

"On volt par cis experiences, que s'il eat possible de &leder la strych- nine ou sea sels an milieu de liquides organiques colores, it est neanmoins difficile de constater quelquefois, l'ensemble de leurs caracteres : on as sau- rait done titre asset eireonepeet lorsgu' s'agira de se prononcer sur un em- poisonnement par eet alcaloide, et it faudra sourtout tenir grand compte du commemoratif et des symptomes eprouves par le malade.

"lei comme dans l'empoisonnement par les sels de morphine et de bru- eine, it ne sujit pas de s'attacher • a des phenomenes de coloration : it fait, pour etablir l'exisbence du poison, mettre at an la strychnine ou sea sels, de maniere qu'on puisse constater toes leurs earacteres."