Imatges de pÓgina
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removing his coat, the whole surface of his body appeared to be a moving mass of worms. His face was considerably injured, as from a fall, or bruises ; his eyes were dissolved, and their cavities, as well as those of the ears, nose, and mouth, were filled with a white liv. ing mass, from which such innumerable quantities of maggots were continually pouring out, that the scull seemed to be filled with nothing else. After some time he recovered strength enough to walk, and regained recollection and voice sufficient to tell who he was, where he lived, and how he had been brought into that situation. It appeared that as he was returning home upon a car the evening before, having drunk to excess, he fell off, and remained in a state of insensibility until he was discovered. He could neither account for the wounds in his head, nor for his being so far from the road; but it appeared probable that he had received the contusion from the fall, and had insensibly crawled to the place where he lay.

“ It was conjectured that the state of the atmosphere (as to humidity and temperature) had brought on a solution of the solids in the bruised parts, already disposed to putrescency, and now in close contact with the moist earth. In these the


of innumerable insects being deposited, their generation proceeded with rapi. dity under circumstances so favorable.

« Every attention was paid to the unfortunate individual; he was removed to shelter, the parts destroyed were washed with spirits and vinegar, and the loathsome objects removed, as far as was possible. Cordials were poured down his throat, but he swallowed with difficulty; and in a very short time spasms took place which prevented him from swallowing altogether. The pu. Irescence advanced ; in a short time he became insensible; and about noon the following day he died, in a state of total putrisolutione

“In July 1812, an inquest was taken at Osbournby near Fol. kingham, Lincoln, on the body of a pauper, who had been in the habit of begging round the country, and depositing what provisions he received, beyond the quantity necessary for present use, under his shirt, next to his skin! With a considerable portion of bread and meat stored in this manner, it was supposed that he had Jaid himself down to sleep—that the meat by the joint heat of the weather and of the man's body had become putrid and had been struck by flies (fly-blown), and that the maggots consequently produced had not only fed upon the putrid meat, but had attacked the living substance of the unhappy man himself. When found, the quantity of large maggots was so enormous as to convince those who examined the body that the vital parts were invaded by them." P. 192.


This disease is not without example in more exalted sta. tions. Plutarch has assigned it to Sylla. Josephus, and the writer of the Book of Maccabees, to Antiochus Epiphanes.

The fate of Herod is ascertained by Scripture ;, and in more modern times the odium theologicum has assigned the same, or a similar loathsome disorder to two of the most detestable monsters under whose tyranny mankind

has been permitted to groan ; Charles IX. of France, and Philip II. of Spain..

Tbe history of occult poisoning would, we doubt not, be satisfactory to those who love strong excitement, if it were possible to separate authentic cases from such as the very nature of the subject has enabled imagination to furnish. Livy can scarcely be doubted in the terrific accounts which he has exhibited. Besides the twenty matrons who on discovery voluntarily drank their own potions with Cornelia and Sergia, 170 were afterwards condemned by the senate; and the historian implies that these were only a part of the guilty. In the inquiry which succeeded to the enormities introduced by the celebration of the Bacchanalia, about 2000 persons are said to bave been sentenced for the crime of poisoning: but the credit or discredit of the assertion is thrown on Valerius of Antium. We need not refer to the gobbets of human flesh, the enchanted scrolls, the graven tablets of lead, and the half burnt ashes steeped in and dropping with gore, which so fearfully heighten the description of the murder of Germanicus. The genius of Locusta, and the ministry of Halotus, are mementos to all extravagant Boletophagists ; yet the devilish skill of these great

instruments of reign,” we are assured by the satirist, was exceeded in later days; and such was the effrontery of crime that the corpse of the poisoned husband, spotted with the proofs of unfair and premature dissolution, was often borne to the tomb, in the face of day, and before the gaze of the populace.

In later times the secret has not been lost. We are told that the Aqua Toffania (so called from its iniquitous inventress) could measure the allotted moments of its victim, with the nicest precision. C

Charles VI. informed his physician Garelli that this composition, which was found to be an useful auxiliary of state vengeance as well as of licentious passion, was a solution of crystallized arsenic in aqua cymbalaria. The botanists are divided as to the meaning of cymbalaria ; some making it the waterpennywort, others the ivy-leaved toad-flax. The pulvis successionis, to which the infamous Marquise de Brinvilliers resorted, was investigated by the Chambre de Poisons or Chambre Ardente, which was specially appointed at Paris, on her detection. It is supposed to have been a preparation of lead. Cantharides and opium also have had their share of suspicion. The legend which refers King John's


death to the excretion of a living toad in a wassail bowl, cannot be admitted if we believe Sir Thomas Brown; for the toad has been much belied ; it does not wear a precious jewel in its head ;" nor would it be venomous either “carbonadoed," or kept " under the cold stone, days and nights thirty-one ;” since, if the truth must out, so far from being a retromingent animal, in point of fact, as the learned Knight of Norwich observes, it has no " distinct and separate miction;" at all. The anointing of Lord Essex's chair, and Queen Elizabeth's saddle is sufficiently authenticated ; and the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury is a subject of judicial record. Dr. Smitb allades to the account of Parasapis, who poisoned one side of a knife and eat with the other uninjured; of a woman who poisoned the figs on a tree which her busband was in the habit of gathering himself; of perfumed boots ; and poisoned gloves and tapers. We must refer our readers to the work itself for the still more extra. ordinary mode by which Ladislaus of Naples was cut off in the vigour of life; and we must hasten to close an excursion into wbich we have been insensibly led ; and in which our readers, probably, by this time, may be tempted to quit us.

It is now agreed on all hands, that in drowning death is not occasioned by water forced into the lungs; and as the last act of every dying animal is expiration, the attempt at this act will, according to the depth of the water, retard the entrance of the fluid. As boys we remember to have been cautioned always to jump head foremost when we bathed. Dr. Smith gives a singular instance of the hazard of a contrary proceeding.

“ A few years ago, a man who had leaped from each of the then three bridges into the Thames with impunity, undertook to repeat the expioit for a wager. Having jumped from London bridge, he sunk, and was drowned. When the body was found, it appeared that he had gone down with the arms in the horizontal instead of the perpendicular position, in consequence of which both of them were dislocated by the fall upon the water." P. 214.

Dr. Smith presents some acute remarks on the distinctive proofs of suicide. He remarks that if a person should be taken out of the water tied band and foot, a strong presumption would arise that he had been murdered. That such circumstances, however must not be admitted as incontrovertible proof, the two following narratives plainly manifest.

“ Two instances are recorded, however, as having happened within these five years, in the metropolis, where this was not the

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case. The one occurred in the end of June, 1816, in the case of a gauging-instrument maker, who had been missing from home for some days. His body was discovered floating down the Thames; and on being taken out, his wrists were found tied together, and made fast to his knees, which were in like mannersecured to each other. He had been in a state of mental derangement for two years. The cord with which he had tied himself was recognized as one that had hung from the ceiling over his bed, by which he used to raise himself up—having been confined to bed for some weeks. He was a good swimmer ; and it was presumed he had taken the precaution to prevent himself from swimming. The verdict in this case was found drowned.'" P. 275.

« The other instance occurred two years afterwards. A man, aged 28, with a wife and children, was reduced to great distress. On a certain day he took an affectionate leave of his family, declaring he would not return till he got some employment, by which he should be able to procure them bread. The day following his body was taken out of the new river, with his hands and legs tied. A card with his address was found in his pocket; and also threepence. When he left home he had five-pence; and it was supposed he had purchased the cord with the deficient sum. How he had contrived to tie himself, we are not told ; but the coroner's jury returned a verdict of insanity.'" P. 276.

The persevering determination of self-murderers is sometimes most extraordinary. One instance is mentioned of a person who gave himself eighteen stabs in the abdomen with a knife. He was saved by the most scrupulous care, yet seventeen months afterwards he threw himself out of a three pair of stairs window and was killed on the spot. Not many years since a man 75 years of age at Castle Cary, fixed a cord round his neck, while sitting on his bed-side, and leant forward till he was strangled. His wife who was bed-ridden, was in the room all the time, and knew nothing of the transaction. The doubt which was raised with so much diligence by the anti-monarchical faction, in Charles II's reign, concerning the Earl of Essex's suicide received some support from the more than ordinary depth of the wound; but it was set at rest by that unhappy nobleman's body surgeon, who informed Bishop Burnet “ that it was impossible the wound could be as it was, if given by any other hand but his own.'

We pass oyer the chapter on Infanticide, for reasons which must be obvious. It ia but just, however, to remark that it is, as might be expected, one of the most important in the volume, replete with medical information, and distinguished by dignity of moral tone. The remaining portions of the book can scarcely be considered as addressed to the general reader, and perhaps it might have been as well to confine them to the lecture room. This, however, is a complaint which it would be most unfair to advance against Dr. Smith on the whole ; for we scarcely recollect any work of science which is more calculated for universal perusal.

ART. VII. A Series of Sermons on the Christian Faith

and Character. By the Rev. John Bird Sumner, M.A. Prebendary of Durham, and Vicar of Mapledurham,

Oxon. 8vo. Pp. 388. Hatchard and Son. 1821. We consider the volume before us to be a very useful publication. The instructions are not conveyed, as is too often the case, in unconnected discourses, in rambling fugitive essays, which at the best please or inform for a season, and then are forgotten for ever, and the frequency of which mosť evidently leads to that disjointed and eclectic religion, which is commonly to be met with, especially in cultivated society, and which amongst the many liberal absurdities of the day, has its due place and reputation, as the desirable haven of scepticism, and as the last excellence of philosophy. A practice which tends to create and

to foster that dangerous, because seductive, notion, that the Word of God may admit of dissection and division, and that Christians are allowed to call and discard here a doctrine, and there a precept, just as a corrupt will and an ill-informed judgment may happen to prompt them, A reasonable man will hardly need the decisive asseveration of St. James, or the denunciation of him, who saw the Apocalypse, to convince him, that a religion which proceeds from One God, must in itself be one; that if a single doctrine or a single precept be true and just, then every doctrine and precept, which rests upon the same authority, must be equally true and just; and, consequently, that to take from, or to add to, the collected truths of that religion in any one particular, must be tantamount to denying the authenticity of the whole.

" These considerations," no doubt, amongst many others, especially that of the very melancholy state of ignorance, so com. mon in young persons, with regard to the grounds and necessity of Christianity," have induced me,” says Mr. Sumner,“ to put the following Sermons into a more connected series than is usual in similar publications. I have attempted to unite somewhat of the regularity of an essay with the familiar expostulations which

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