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literally true. If Government were ever to adopt the above or any similar scheme, it must necessarily insist on a qualification of its candidates which would compel the addition of special items to the curricula of the colleges, and to the programme of the examiners of even the most exigeante University. To say the least, it would be necessary to add, even to the most stringent medical examinations known, another in the physical sciences, a searching practical examination in the diagnosis of mental affections (in actual patients), and, finally, an examination on the laws of evidence both by papers and also viva voce—the latter being conducted by a barrister of standing.

The adoption of any plan which would involve even these changes obviously presents many serious educational difficulties; and, in addition to this, it is certain that the practical obstacles to any legislation tending to interfere with the vested interests which protect the present class of death-registrars and the present autocracy of vestries in sanitary matters would be immense. It is also possible that a certain amount of opposition might be offered by a portion of the medical profession to any measure which took out of their hands such employment as is furnished by the requirements of coroners' inquests and assize trials, or the possible reversion, in some eases, of a vestry appointment as officers of health; but I believe that the feeling of opposition would be but temporary in this case, and that the sense of relief to themselves and benefit to the community would quickly reconcile the rank and file of the profession to an exclusion from duties for which they have had no opportunity of qualifying themselves. I acknowledge to the full all the difficulties which stand in the way of any plan of organization. But the mere statement of these difficulties, if we care to undertake it, forces us to a consideration of the actual state of things from which no intelligent person can rise without the feeling that at any cost reforms will

the process of reformation is commenced the better for us all . It may well be that the scheme above propounded (which is merely introduced here as the work of an able man who has had the courage to think this question resolutely out) will be found to require great modifications before it could be practically adopted. For details I must refer the reader to Mr. Pumsey's pamphlet itself; suffice it to say that, with regard to one most important matter, the probable expense of such a scheme, he adduces figures which seem to prove that this might be rendered moderate, indeed quite insignificant, in proportion to the advantages which the state would gain.

I come back to the opinion which forms the groundwork of this paper, that medical advisers of the state cannot be taken with advantage at haphazard from the mass of general practitioners, pure surgeons and pure physicians, who are devoting themselves to the business of curing individual patients. I believe that absorption in ordinary practice is a fatal bar to the acquisition of that kind of knowledge and that skill in communicating it which is indispensable. And I would urge with especial force the propriety of placing the man of science, from whom the state requires information, in a position of independence. The few remaining words which I have to say will be devoted to the consideration of an evil . already touched upon, which offers the most pointed example of the mischiefs arising from a neglect of this precaution.

The practice of receiving scientific evidence of anexpa?ie character is a disgrace to our judicial processes. When, on a criminal trial for instance, the question of the prisoner's mental soundness becomes of importance, it is a gross scandal that the jury should be left to form their momentous decision from a haphazard balancing of two extreme statements of the scientific facts propounded by two witnesses (or sets of witnesses) whose pecuniary and professional interests are bound up respectively with the prosecution and with the de

expression of the fullest science on particular questions would necessarily be less clear and decided than could be wished. But that ft no reason why we should deliberately accept such a version of the scientific facts of a case as must, from the method in which it has been extorted, be nearly worthless. The idea that any effective check upon the abuses of scientific authority thus occasioned can be effectively imposed by counsel in the cross-examinations is ludicrous. Here and there an exceptionally able lawyer, like Sir A. Cockburn, prompted in his questions by exceptionally able medical advisers, will succeed in dispelling a cloud of sophistries such as those by which the plain and straightforward medical facts of Palmer's case were attempted to be disguised; but it would be a great mistake to take this hard-won piece of success as any specimen of the average result to be expected from the application of cross-examination in the event of contradictions arising in medical evidence.

The remedy which, sooner or later, I am convinced will have to be applied, is the institution of scientific commissioners as adjuncts to the ordinary apparatus of the courts, before whom, and not before a common jury, the strictly scientific questions shall be argued—the general question in respect to the legal charge being subsequently determined as at present. Supposing some such scheme as that which has been above proposed for district officers of health to have been carried out, these officers might be employed as commissioners in the following way:—The officer for the particular district would ex officio collect all the scientific evidence by personal observation and interrogation on the spot, with the assistance of any ordinary medical attendant professionally cognisant of the facts. The whole mass of scientific facts would then be placed before the commission, which should consist of a certain limited number of experts selected in rotation from the district officers of health of the kingdom; and this body, with the assistance of

should sift the facts and hear any other evidence which might be offered on the scientific questions. The commission would then come to as definite an opinion as was possible under the circumstances, and would embody this in a report to the court, which should be taken to be final as regards the scientific questions.

It would be difficult to believe that a scientific commission, chosen with these elaborate safeguards for its impartiality, would be more likely to be crotchety than a common jury of small shopkeepers. On the contrary, it would be an impossibility that half a dozen men, each of the scientific rank which is here presupposed, and entirely independent of the others as regards authority, should allow such perverse and baseless theories as those which frequently astonish and impress a jury of half-educated laymen to have any weight with them at alL Nor would such a body be afraid to confess the true state of the case should it happen, in a particular instance, that science could give no definite answer to the inquiries addressed to it by the state.

Defend it as you will, the present system of allowing a knot of confused, bewildered, and often half-terrified laymen to give the final decision on matters of science, which in fact they now do, is simply monstrous. It has been attempted to excuse the existing state of things by the argument that it is not abstract truth, but the highest probability, that the jury are instructed to discover, and that consequently they need not trouble about the actual right or wrong of scientific opinion, but must simply judge what is the prevailing voice of the science of the day on the question in hand. But that is precisely what they cannot discover, save by a lucky accident, under the present system. The prevailing voice of science is not represented by any balance struck, by unscientific persons, between the extreme views held by the learned on either side: such haphazard guesswork often results in an opinion which has really no relation to literally true. If Government were ever to adopt the above or any similar scheme, it must necessarily insist on a qualification of its candidates which would compel the addition of special items to the curricula of the colleges, and to the programme of the examiners of even the most exigeante University. To say the least, it would be necessary to add, even to the most stringent medical examinations known, another in the physical sciences, a searching practical examination in the diagnosis of mental affections (in actual patients), and, finally, an examination on the laws of evidence both by papers and also vim voce—the latter being conducted by a barrister of standing.

The adoption of any plan which would involve even these changes obviously presents many serious educational difficulties; and, in addition to this, it is certain that the practical obstacles to any legislation tending to interfere with the vested interests which protect the present class of death-registrars and the present autocracy of vestries in sanitary matters would be immense. It is also possible that a certain amount of opposition might be offered by a portion of the medical profession to any measure which took out of their hands such employment as is furnished by the requirements of coroners' inquests and assize trials, or the possible reversion, in some cases, of a vestry appointment as officers of health; but I believe thut the feeling of opposition would be but temporary in this case, and that the sense of relief to themselves and benefit to the community would quickly reconcile the rank and file of the profession to an exclusion from duties for which they have had no opportunity of qualifying themselves. 1 acknowledge to the full all the difficulties which stand in the way of any plan of organization. But the mere statement of these difficulties, if we care to undertake it, forces us to a consideration of the actual state of things from which no intelligent person can rise without the feeling that at any cost reforms will

the process of reformation is commenced the better for us all . It may well be that the scheme above propounded (which is merely introduced here as the work of an able man who has had the courage to think this question resolutely out) will be found to require groat modifications before it could be practically adopted. For details I must refer the reader to Mr. Ramsey's pamphlet itself; suffice it to say that, with regard to one most important matter, the probable expense of such a scheme, ho adduces figures which seem to prove that this might be rendered moderate, indeed quite insignificant, in proportion to the advantages which the state would gain. I come back to the opinion which forms the groundwork of this paper, that medical advisers of the state cannot be taken with advantage at haphazard from the mass of general jiractitioners, pure surgeons and pure physicians, who are devoting themselves to the business of curing individual patients. I believe that absorption in ordinary practice is a fatal bar to the acquisition of that kind of knowledge and that skill in communicating it which is indispensable. And I would urge with especial force the propriety of placing the man of science, from whom the state requires information, in a position of independence. The few remaining words which I have to say will be devoted to the consideration of an eviL already touched upon, which offers the most pointed example of the mischiefs arising from a neglect of this precaution.

The practice of receiving scientific evidence of an ex parte character is a disgrace to our judicial processes. When, on a criminal trial for instance, the question of the prisoner's mental soundness becomes of importance, it is a gross scandal that the jury should be left to form their momentous decision from a haphazard balancing of two extreme statements of the scientific facts propounded by two witnesses (or sots of witnesses) whose pecuniary and professional interests are bound up respectively with the prosecution and with the deexpression of the fullest science on particular questions would necessarily be less clear and decided than could be wished. But that ft no reason why we should deliberately accept such a version of the scientific facts of a case as must, from the method in which it has been extorted, be nearly worthless. The idea that any effective check upon the abuses of scientific authority thus occasioned can be effectively imposed by counsel in the cross-examinations is ludicrous. Here and there an exceptionally able lawyer, like Sir A. Cockburn, prompted in his questions by exceptionally able medical advisers, will succeed in dispelling a cloud of sophistries such as those by which the plain and straightforward medical facts of Palmer's case were attempted to be disguised; but it would be a great mistake to take this hard-won piece of success as any specimen of the average result to be expected from the application of cross-examination in the event of contradictions arising in medical evidence.

The remedy which, sooner or later, I am convinced will have to be applied, is the institution of scientific commissioners as adjuncts to the ordinary apparatus of the courts, before whom, and not before a common jury, the strictly scientific questions shall be argued—the general question in respect to the legal charge being subsequently determined as at present. Supposing some such scheme as that which has been above proposed for district officers of health to have been carried out, these officers might be employed as commissioners in the following way:—The officer for the particular district would ex officio collect all the scientific evidence by personal observation and interrogation on the spot, with the assistance of any ordinary medical attendant professionally cognisant of the facts. The whole mass of scientific facts would then be placed before the commission, which should consist of a certain limited number of experts selected in rotation from the district officers of health of the kingdom; and this body, with the assistance of

should sift the facts and hear any other evidence which might be offered on the scientific questions. The commission would then come to as definite an opinion as was possible under the circumstances, and would embody this in a report to the court, which should be taken to be final as regards the scientific questions.

It would be difficult to believe that a scientific commission, chosen with these elaborate safeguards for its impartiality, would be more likely to be crotchety than a common jury of small shopkeepers. On the contrary, it would be an impossibility that half a dozen men, each of the scientific rank which is here presupposed, and entirely independent of the others as regards authority, should allow such perverse and baseless theories as those which frequently astonish and impress a jury of half-educated laymen to have any weight with them at all . Nor would such a body be afraid to confess the true state of the case should it happen, in a particular instance, that science could give no definite answer to the inquiries addressed to it by the state.

Defend it as you will, the present system of allowing a knot of confused, bewildered, and often half-terrified laymen to give the final decision on matters of science, which in fact they now do, is simply monstrous. It has been attempted to excuse the existing state of things by the argument that it is not abstract truth, hut thehighest probability, that the jury are instructed to discover, and that consequently they need not trouble about the actual right or wrong of scientific opinion, but must simply judge what is the prevailing voice of the science of the day on the question in hand . But that is precisely what they cannot discover, save by a lucky accident, under the present system. The prevailing voice of science is not represented by any balance struck, by unscientific persons, between the extreme views held by the learned on either side: such haphazard guesswork often results in an opinion which has really no relation to calm interchange of ideas between scientific men themselves can afford a chance of the elicitation of the truth on some of the more difficult questions involved in forensic inquiries—I mean the truth, not in the abstract, but so far as science already knows it

Before concluding, I must answer one objection which is certain to be raised — namely, that no man could grasp effectively the great range of science involved in the multifarious duties indicated. This objection might readily be met by separating from the general duties of the office, which would be homogeneous in character, certain specialties which are at once very difficult and of a different nature from the ordinary duties. Chemistry is a good instance of this. It would be not only possible, but highly desirable, that elaborate chemical inquiries, such as those concerned in cases of suspected poisoning, should be taken out of the hands of toxicologists, and always decided, apart from any theoretical considerations in physiology, by officials like those, let us say, of the College of Chemistry. On the other hand, such comparatively

simple duties as those of food inspection and analysis might easily be performed by an official so qualified as we have supposed our distAt health-officers to be. This great relief being given, the remaining subjects which would occupy the attention of our district officer would be confined to a circle of science certainly not larger, one would say greatly less, than that which the ordinary practitioner of medicine is supposed to grasp. And we should be delivered from the uncomfortable spectacle, now so frequently thrust upon us, of worthy men, perfectly well qualified for the latter branch of work, assuming at a moment's notice the functions of advisers of the state on the highly special and peculiar subjects which have been enumerated in this paper.

I am well aware that the ideas now put forward are difficult of realization. I am content, however, to wait the course of events. These ideas, which two years ago had not attracted much attention, have since that period received the notice of influential persons, and are already making distinct and perceptible progress.

LIFE—A SONNET.

BY THE LATE ALExANDER GILCHRIST.

On eager feet, his heritage to seize,

A traveller speeds toward the promised land.

Afar gloom purple slopes on either hand;

Glad earth is fragrant with the flowering leas;

The green corn stirs in noon's hot slumberous breeze,

And whispering woodlands nigh make answer grand.

That pilgrim's heart as by a magic wand

Is swayed: nor, as he gains each height, and sees

A gleaming landscape still and still afar,

Doth Hope abate, nor less a glowing breath

'Wake subtle tones from viewless strings within.

But lo! upon his path new aspects win;

Dun sky above, brown wastes around him are;

From yon horizon dim stalks spectral Death 1

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