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THE scientific study of criminals and the phil
. Not a case
of forgery is tried but the expert in interesting, but a highly warrantable exercise of to aid the cause of justice, by the detection, intellect. Only through some such investigation through scientific means, of likenesses or differinto these subjects can a knowledge of the na- ences in handwriting, or of alterations and erature, cause, and cure of crimes be attained—if, sures in disputed deeds or manuscripts. Evindeed, such knowledge in its perfect phases be ery case of homicide brings its array of mediever reached in human history. And only, when cal and surgical evidence, or its quota of chemaided by the skilled expert—the chemist, sur- ists, prepared to do battle for the truth. Even geon, physiologist, or engraver—and by the de- the identification of a corpus delicti may be a ductions and inductions science is able or pre- matter in which medical science alone has absopared to draw from any given set of circum- lute sway, and in which the skill of the medical stances, is Justice enabled to enter upon the jurist, with his testimony to the probable time pursuit of crime, and to make her name a terror and circumstances of death, may first point the to evil-doers. It is not our intention to follow, way in which detective science should travel. A at present, such experimenters as Mr. Francis blood-stain and its nature, when interpreted by Galton in his remarkable researches into the the microscopist, may convict the suspected, or conformation and configuration of the criminal may, on the other hand, set him free. And, in head, among other types of human character. many other ways and diverse fashions, the art of Readers interested in knowing what may be the detective may be shown to owe more to scidone in the way of a scientific study of charac-ence than most people unacquainted with the ter should peruse Mr. Galton's address to the routine of criminal investigation could readily imAnthropological Section of the British Associa- agine. tion for 1877. In that address will be found em- To select a simple case, and one, nevertheless, bodied some curious facts and inferences relative regarding which much popular misconception to the classification of groups and types of men exists, let us try to discover the place and power based on their habits of mind and physiognomy. of the microscope in medical jurisprudence. In By the application of an ingenious method of ob- such a study we may discover that certain powservation, in which, by an arrangement of mir- ers, popularly imagined to be at the beck and rors, four views of a person's head can be simul- call of the microscopist, are grossly exaggerated; taneously photographed, the full and complete while it may also be shown that the actual excomparison of types of head-conformation can tent of the microscopist's ability fully outweighs be effected. As the result of investigations con- the fallacies just alluded to. Chief among the ducted on this basis, Mr. Galton mentions that cases in which the microscope becomes of paraby physiognomy, together with the general con- mount importance, as an agent in the detection tour of the head, a practical arrangement of of crime, are those in which blood-stains, or criminal types becomes possible. Provided with marks of allied characters, and fragments of a large number of photographs of criminals, and clothing or hairs, require to be examined and by familiarizing himself with this collection, cer- referred to their exact source. An actual case tain natural classes of criminals became discern- may be related by way of exemplifying the conible; and thus a scientific study of character may ditions demanding inquiry. A man was tried in assist in the determination of the results of crim- 1857, at one of our English assizes, for the supinal tendencies, and, through these, toward the posed murder of a companion. The dead man's amelioration of the race.
throat had been cut in such a fashion as to preThus much for the part Science promises to clude the idea of suicide. The prisoner had play in determining the causes of crime and been last seen in the company of the deceased, criminals. With the results of crime, however, and in his possession a knife stained with blood Science at present concerns herself much more was found. This knife was alleged by the prosenearly; and it is with the ways and means Sci- cution to be that with which the murder was ence brings to bear on the detection of crime committed, and the stains thereupon were althat we purpose chiefly to concern ourselves in leged to be those of human blood. The defense the present paper. Our newspapers familiarize explained the presence of these stains by asserts us, day by day, with instances of the application ing that they were produced by cutting raw beef. of scientific methods to criminal investigation. Now, it may be asked, in what position is science placed in such an issue as the present ? Could The red corpuscles of human blood are round the microscopist, placed in the witness-box, and biconcave in form, each measuring from the swear to the identity of the stain with blood; one three-thousandth to the one four-thousandth and could he testify to its being human blood as of an inch in diameter. The white corpuscles distinguished from that of the ox? To the first are a little larger and attain a diameter averaging query, an affirmative answer must be returned. the one two-thousand five-hundredth part of an Chemical tests of great delicacy are known inch. Thus it may be safely asserted that, when whereby the presence of blood can be infallibly the microcopist is able to discern in any liquid detected. Mr. Sorby tells us that spectrum anal- those characteristic blood-globules, he may posiysis will reveal the presence of blood where the tively allege that the liquid in question is certainly stain is only the tenth of an inch in diameter, blood. When the further and equally important or where a quantity of the red coloring matter question of the kind of blood is submitted to the of blood, not exceeding the one hundredth part scientific observer, his answers should savor of of a grain, can be obtained. In so far as blood caution. The red corpuscles of man, unlike the itself and its mere presence are concerned, there white, do not possess a central particle or nucleus. are no scientific difficulties in the way of its exact They are, therefore, in physiological language, determination and separation from all other red- said to be “non-nucleated.” But it is noteworcolored stains. But, when we turn to the ques- thy that, in this latter feature, man's blood-globtion of the exact source of the blood-stains, we ules agree with those of all other mammals or find the powers of science to be limited in some quadrupeds. Every quadruped, in short, posdegree. In the case just alluded to, in which the sesses red blood-globules which want a central defense rested upon a statement that the blood- spot or nucleus. Moreover, all quadrupeds, exstains were obtained from beef, the fallacies of cept the camel-tribe, possess red blood-globules evidence which grossly departed from a scientific of circular shape; those of the camel being ellipstandard were exemplified. A chemist gave evi- tical in form. But, when we descend in the anidence, in which he alleged that the knife in ques- mal scale and pass to the birds, as most nearly tion had been immersed in living blood to its hilt, approaching quadrupeds, and from the birds to and that the blood was certainly not that of the reptiles and fishes, the blood-globules are found, ox or sheep. This testimony was offered, despite in these lower classes, to be not merely oval or the fact known to every physiologist that there elliptical in shape, but to be invariably nucleated exist no appreciable differences between the stain —that is, possessing each a central particle. of living blood and of blood from a recently killed With this zoological information at hand, we animal, and that the microscopist is as yet unable may be able to appreciate the power of the mito detect differences between the blood of man croscope as a detector of crime. In 1851, the and that of the ox or sheep sufficiently clear to defense, in a case of murder tried at the Essex enable him to decide their exact and specific na- Assizes, rested partly on the statement that the ture. Even spectrum analysis, with all its sub- blood-stains on the clothes of the prisoner were tilty of method and delicacy of research, can not derived from chicken's blood. In such a case the decide upon exact differences between new and microscopic evidence is invaluable, since the blood old blood-stains; nor can it enable the experi- of the bird will contain oval and nucleated globmenter to say if the blood be human or that of a ules; and, from an examination of these bloodlower animal. Fortunately, for the cause of jus- stains, the prisoner's statement in the case retice in the foregoing case, the crime was brought ferred to was proved to be false, the corpuscles home to the prisoner by evidence other than that being those of some mammal. Similarly, when of the chemist in question, and by testimony the late Professor Hughes Bennett, of Edinburgh, which depended on no fallacies of microscopic was confronted with a patient supposed to be testimony.
troubled with chest-disease of serious type, an To discover the limitations of science in such examination of the fluid blood supposed to have a case, we must make ourselves familiar with the come from the lungs revealed the presence of details of an elementary study in physiology. oval blood-globules. The patient's wonder may When a thin film of human blood is examined be better imagined than described when her imunder a high power of the microscope, it is seen posture was thus declared plain. Seeing, then, to present the appearance of a clear, watery Auid that the blood of quadrupeds is distinguishable —the serum and plasma of the physiologist—in from that of all other animals, the question yet which float an immense number of small
, round remains, How far does microscopical evidence bodies, the blood-corpuscles. These latter are proceed in determining human blood from that of two kinds, red and white; the red being by of other mammals? Here, leaving aside the sinfar the more numerous, and imparting, through gular and exceptional case of the camels and their their immense numbers, the red hue to the blood. neighbors with oval but non-nucleated globules, the chief, and indeed the only, guide to the mi- discovered to belong to some animal, and this croscopist must be size. This guide, it may be fact helped to turn the tide of evidence in favor further noticed, is by no means a certain or exact of the accused, although, had this case occurred test, since even in one and the same animal the before the day of the microscope and its use in blood-globules may vary in dimensions. In some medicine, it is not difficult to predict what would quadrupeds, it is true, the excessively minute have been the result of the trial in question. Cotnature of the globules would, of itself, form a ton fibers, proved by microscopical research to feature distinguishing them from those of man. be such, served as a link in the chain of evidence Thus the blood-corpuscles of the musk-deer adduced against a prisoner tried for homicide measure the one twelve thousand three hundred at an Essex Assizes in 1852. On the boots of and twenty-fifth part of an inch in diameter, such another man charged with a like crime at Maida size being infinitesimal when compared with stone, in 1863, Drs. Taylor and Pavy discovered those of man. When, however, we compare the some hairs corresponding with those taken from blood of ordinary domestic animals with human the head of the deceased, who had been fatally blood, the difficulties in the way of exact deter- assaulted by kicking, while some red woolen mination increase in a very marked fashion. It fibers, also found on the boots of the accused, is known as a fact that the blood-globules of the corresponded with those of a woolen comforter horse, ox, ass, mouse, cat, pig, and bat are nearly with which the deceased had been provided. So of the same size; the dimensions of the blood- also in a case of much mystery, in which a young globules bearing no reference to the size of the woman was found brutally murdered, a knife animal to which they belong.
which had been placed in the hand of the deThe blood-globules which approach most ceased-presumably for the purpose of simulatnearly to those of man in size are found in the ing death by suicide-bore on its blade, amid a dog, rabbit, and hare. Supposing, therefore, that small blood-clot, a number of woolen fibers of a in a case of suspected murder a blood-stain were peculiar hue. These fibers exactly corresponded declared to be that of a dog, he would be a worse with those of a woolen jacket worn by the acthan foolish scientist who would even venture to cused, who was convicted, and duly confessed hazard his reputation by stating, in a witness- his crime. Such examples certainly serve to box, his ability to distinguish the stain as that of show the exceeding importance, in medical jurishuman blood. Cases in illustration of the fore- prudence, of the veriest trifles, and to demongoing facts are abundantly met with in the rec- strate how the most insignificant clews may, when ords of criminal jurisprudence. A medical wit- welded into the chain of circumstances, literally ness, giving evidence some years ago at an Eng- form “confirmations strong as proofs of holy lish assizes in a case of suspected homicide, was writ.” By aid of the microscope, linen fibers sharply rebuked by the presiding judge for the may be distinguished from those of cotton, and enunciation of speculative niceties regarding both from those of wool; while marked differblood; and in no eyes does such a witness seem ences are observable in the hairs of different animore foolish than in those of scientific men, who mals. know best the fallible ground on which he is Shreds and patches may thus literally piece treading. In another case a scientific witness out evidence of importance for or against an acalleged his ability to distinguish certain stains as cused person. And not less clearly is this fact those of horse's blood, and others as those of shown when the trifling details on which grave human blood-such evidence being inadmissible discoveries often hinge are illustrated. One Selon scientific grounds, and therefore morally and lis, who had attacked the Duke of Cumberland, legally wrong.
thereafter destroyed himself. Sellis committed The power and value of the microscope as an suicide by cut-throat, and on the left side of the aid to the discovery of the truth in criminal cases bed on which he was found a razor was laid. is, however, by no means limited to the determi- This otherwise suspicious circumstance, which nation of blood-stains. On weapons alleged to laid the late Duke of Cumberland under some have been used with homicidal intent or effect, suspicion in 1810, was clearly explained when the merest traces of various substances may oc- Sellis was proved to be equally dexterous in the casionally be found, and may serve, in the hands use of both hands. A man was found dead in of the man of science, as important clews. A Dr. 1865, in London, under similar circumstances to Lyons has left on record a case in which the Sellis, the left hand having been used to inflict supposition of a person's guilt as a murderer the fatal injury. The unusual situation of the appeared to be materially strengthened by the wound was explained when the deceased was discovery, beneath a bed, of a hatchet to which proved to be a wood-carver by trade, and to have clotted blood and hairs were adherent. The been accustomed to use both hands when at hair, submitted to microscopical examination, was work. A singular and shrewd observation of Sir Astley Cooper's was the means of detecting tigators, is an instance related as having occurred a criminal of no ordinary type. A Mr. Blight, of at Nottingham in 1872. In this case a young Deptford, was fatally wounded by a pistol-shot man preferred a charge of assault and wounding in 1806, and Sir Astley was called in to see the against a person whose motives for committing sufferer. Proceeding to the scene of the assault, such an offense were undiscoverable. As eviSir Astley, from an examination of the locality dence the prosecutor submitted his wounded and the position of the wounded man, together arm, his coat, and his shirt-sleeve. He showed with the situation of the wound, came to the that they had indeed been cut, but a more careconclusion that the assassin must have been a ful examination revealed the interesting fact that left-handed man. A Mr. Patch answered to the the lining of the coat-sleeve was intact. No latter description. He was near the locality at clearer proof was required to show that the the time of the murder, and, hitherto unsuspect- charge was false, and the accused person was at ed, he was arrested, tried and convicted for the once liberated. offense, fully confessing his guilt before his exe- No more interesting details in the annals of cution.
criminal science can be presented than those The case of Bolam, who was tried at the which bear upon cases in which the evidence for Newcastle Summer Assizes, in 1839, for the mur- suicide, as against homicide, has to be weighed der of a man named Millie, presents some fea- and determined. Allusion has already been tures worthy of note as showing the difficulties made to cases, such as those of Sellis and the against which the medical jurist may have to wood-carver, in which a knowledge of the pecucontend. The circumstances of the case were liarities of the deceased served to explain the altogether of a peculiar kind. Millie was killed cause of death. An historical instance, illustratby direct violence done to the head, and, when ing this phase of our subject, is that of the Prince discovered, Bolam was found lying close by in of Condé, whose death occurred in 1830. On a state of insensibility, real or pretended, while the 27th of August in that year, the Prince was the apartment in which both were found had found dead in his bedroom under somewhat unbeen set on fire. Bolam stated that he had usual, and it may be added suspicious, circumbeen attacked by some person, and had been stances. The body was suspended from the knocked down by a blow on the head. Attempt- window-sash by a linen handkerchief, which was ing to escape, he was again thrown to the in turn attached to a cravat round the neck of ground, and then became aware of an attempt the deceased. An important feature in this case, being made to cut his throat, although by his and one which certainly lent an air of mystery own showing he did not use his hands to prevent thereto, was found in the fact that the toes of the injury, and no wounds or cuts were found both feet rested on the ground, the heels being upon his hands. The on ury Bolam ap- elevated, and the knees bent forward. A chair peared to have sustained was a wound on the stood near the deceased, and the only marks of left side of the neck, but this wound was neither violence discernible were a few slight abrasions considerable in extent nor in depth; it had in- on the lower limbs; such, indeed, as might have volved no deep tissue, and had caused but little been produced by contact with the chair. It may bleeding. His coat and other garments were be added that the handkerchief was attached to cut in many places, but the incisions were en- the window at a height of about six and a half tirely unrepresented upon his body. The case feet above the floor. The discovery of the manreally turned upon the nature of these injuries, ner of death, added to the circumstances attendand the solution of their infliction. If they were ing the decease, gave rise to uncomfortable suslikely to ha been inflicted by a third person, picion that the case was one of murder. Living then this third party might have also murdered in unsettled times, it was contended that the Millie. If Bolam were the self-inflictor of these Prince had been killed by assassins, and that his wounds, the theory of the prosecution that they body had been placed in the position in which it had been caused with the view of screening his was found in order to suggest suicide by hangown crime became, on the other hand, highly ing as the cause of death. The abrasions on the probable. The scientific evidence, aided by a limbs, certain peculiarities attending the mark full consideration of all the circumstances of this left by the ligature on the neck, and the fact that case, was given decidedly against the prisoner. the feet of the deceased rested on the floor, were The case terminated in a verdict of manslaughter urged as so many facts supporting the theory of against Bolam, who was accordingly sentenced homicide. Certain other circumstances, such as for that crime. Equally interesting, as showing a want of power in one arm, and the fact that the complex nature of the cases which await so- the handkerchiefs were tied in knots of a comlution, and of the occasionally simple fashion in plicated character, were duly urged in support of which such solution may dawn upon the inves- the latter view. But the experience of medical
science gave powerful support to the opposite the romance of life teems with tales stranger conjecture—that of suicide. Every medical ju- even than that of Enoch Arden, which show rist can point to cases of suicide by hanging, in that the possibilities of a person's decease may which the mere position of the body at first require to be duly argued and decided upon by appears strongly suggestive of its having been our courts of law. “The fact of death,” says placed in that position with a view of simulating that eminent authority on medical law, Dr. Alself-destruction. So far from persons suspend- fred S. Taylor, “ may be proved by presumptive ing themselves in a free posture in such an act as well as by direct evidence.” Thus the quesof suicide, it is comparatively rare to find their tion of decease may fail to be determined by a bodies in other positions than those from which jury; and when the corpus delicti is not forthit would appear they could have readily released coming, as in all cases of the kind referred to, themselves. Persons have been found dead al- “the legal presumption " is in favor of life, and most in a sitting posture, and suspended in a the burden of proof rests on the plaintiff's case. position which at first sight would seem strongly As most readers are aware, seven years' unto invalidate the theory of suicide. A man has explained absence from home and friends constibeen known to commit suicide by hanging him- tutes the period at the expiry of which the preself from a hook in the top of a tent-bedstead, sumption of death may legally be inquired into. being found with his knees wellnigh resting on With the caution which everywhere marks the the bed; and one hospital patient was actually footsteps of legal procedure, an English court discovered resting on his knees by the side of once held itself incompetent to pronounce judghis bed, having hanged himself from the top of ment confirming the presumption of death in a the bedstead. It is, in fact, exceedingly rare to case in which a woman had left her father's find the suicide imbued with sufficient determina- house in 1810, and had not, for a period of thirtion to take a leap into space; and the explana- ty-four years, been seen or accounted for; and, tion of the readiness with which death may take according to Best, in his “Presumptions of Law place under these seemingly unfavorable circum- and Fact,” the Court of Queen's Bench held that stances may be held to rest on the fact that sus- it could not assume “ judicially” that a person pension in any position, in which the weight of who was alive in the year 1034 was dead in the the body is gently thrown on the neck, induces year 1827! From which statement, the non-legal at first a state of insensibility, which, as it grad- mind may reasonably enough regard the “judiually deepens, causes increased pressure on the cial” faculty as decidedly opposed both to the windpipe, and consequent death. In some few logical and the scientific. In the suit of Church cases, the suspicious elements in the cases be- versus Smith, tried in London in 1853, the husfore us have been strengthened by the obser- band of the plaintiff was proved to have been vation that the limbs of the deceased persons unheard of for twelve years, and the question have been found to be firmly secured. Not for decision was, whether she could sue, as a merely may the hands be secured in a case of widow, in her own right. The husband, howveritable suicide, but the weight of the body may ever, ultimately appeared in the witness-box; actually be intentionally increased (as was found but the presiding judge remarked to the jury in a case of suicide occurring in 1844 at Wor- that, in the face of the twelve years' absence, he cester) by the attachment of a couple of flat- should have directed them, but for the sudden irons to the wrist! Thus much for the curiosi- appearance of the missing spouse, to return a ties of suicide; and when it is added that the verdict for the plaintiff, on the presumption that blind have been known to destroy their own her husband was dead. Missing husbands thus lives, and that the act of suicide has been per- occasionally crop up under awkward circumpetrated by a boy of nine, and by a man of nine- stances. Four months after marriage a husband ty-seven years of age, as representing the oppo- deserted his wife, and disappeared for seven site extremes, little is wanting to invest the sub- years, the woman meanwhile contracting anject with more than ordinary interest in the eyes other marriage in her maiden name.
She was of the psychologist.
indicted for bigamy and convicted, but her conPassing somewhat from the domain of ac- viction was quashed on appeal. In another case tual crime, we may find an interesting study in an application for probate was made to the Prothe details of cases relating to the “presumption bate Court in 1858, by the relatives of a shipof death,” and to questions of “survivorship." captain who had sailed from Southampton in Both subjects pre some of the gravest puz- December, 1856; arrived in Calcutta in October, zles of both science and law. In the quiet 1857; and thence sailed for Port Louis, but had course of ordinary existence it seems hardly pos- never reached his destination. Here, the presible that even the "presumption of death sumption of death was strong enough to cause should require to be legally established. But the Court to grant probate of the will, although