Author : G. Lathom Browne,C. G. Stewart
Publisher : Library of Alexandria
Release : 2015-12-11
ISBN : 1465606254
Language : En, Es, Fr & De
Book Description :
This volume of selected reports of the most remarkable trials for murder by poisoning, which have been held during the past half century, with essays and notes explanatory of the nature, and operation, and methods of detecting the various poisons supposed to have been employed, will it is hoped prove useful to the medical, as well as the legal profession. With this object the evidence of the medical and chemical witnesses has been given in detail, especially in those cases in which a conflict of scientific testimony arose, between experts of the highest professional character and reputation. Care has also been taken to state the scientific nomenclature of this class of witness correctly, a point on which the shorthand writers, otherwise so reliable, are naturally liable to fail, catching as they do only the sounds of a language unknown to them, in reporting which the error even in a single letter is often most important. My colleague, besides furnishing the latest information obtainable with reference to the various poisons, has offered from recent experiments, made specially for this purpose, explanations of those points in the several trials about which the rival experts disputed, bringing to bear on them the latest discoveries in chemical science. In preparing these reports, I have followed the form adopted by the late Mr. Townsend, the Recorder of Macclesfield, in his valuable volumes of trials—now I believe quite out of print—grouping the witnesses under the heads of the case to which their evidence specially applied, dividing the scientific from the moral testimony, and wherever a conflict arose between the experts called for the prosecution and those for the defence, giving the evidence of the latter immediately after that of the former, so as to place the points at issue more clearly before the reader. It would have been impossible, within reasonable limits, to have reported in detail the elaborate speeches of counsel (most of them models of argument, criticism, and eloquence), or the minute and exhaustive charges of many of the presiding judges. The abstracts which have been given will, however, serve to perpetuate the most important and notable parts of both. In some of the cases the immediate application of these either to certain points in the evidence, or to the arguments adduced on either side, has been shown by quotations in the notes. With these exceptions, and a few notes pointing out errors or discrepancies in the evidence, I have generally forborne to express an opinion on the verdict, preferring to present such reports of the evidence as may enable the student to form his own conclusions. With the progress of chemical science the field of the poisoner is constantly extending. New poisons are yearly discovered, each succeeding one apparently more difficult of detection than the former. Death lurks in many unsuspected forms, and but for the parallel march of the science of detection, the poisoner would more often escape. A grave danger to society, too, lies in the patent medicines, so popular and so perilous; in the vermin killers, loaded with deadly poison, which can be bought without let or hindrance by any one; and the use of preparations for animals—not so deleterious to the latter, as they are death-dealing—if either intentionally or by accident given to a human being. Stringent as the regulations of the Poisons Act appear on paper, the facility with which Lamson purchased aconitia, merely on the credit of his name appearing in the Medical Directory, and the really unrestricted sale of patent medicines and vermin-killers, mark the practical inutility of the Act. A new Act, dealing with these points, has been promised by the Government, but there seems little probability of its passing this session.