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act of Parliament to provide lord-bishops for the colonies. Perhaps a proportionate pressure from without, if it were possible, might coerce a similar reunion now. We remember too that, less than forty years ago, there was an attempted union between the Presbyterian Church and the Associate Reformed; but we remember also that the attempt resulted in nothing more than the going over of certain presbyteries and congregations from the weaker body to the stronger. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church, cut off from the main stock some fifty years ago, and beginning with a single presbytery, has grown numerous and powerful; when will it come back to Calvinism, and be reunited with the General Assembly? The “ Constitutional Presbyterian Church,” full of Congregational sympathies eighteen years ago, has evoked the “ denominational spirit,” and is continually growing more Presbyterian; but does anybody think that the two bodies made by the schism of 1837, can be reconciled and reunited ? The smaller body may be weakened and the larger strengthened, by successive desertions; but when will there be union? We have heard of a Free Presbyterian Church, united on the basis of a protest against communion with slaveholders, or with any who commune with slaveholders; when will that body break down its defenses, or consent to dismantle its Sebastopol? How many Presbyterian sects of Scottish origin there are in this country, all holding the Westminster standards, and each maintaining with devout fidelity its separate and distinctive" testimony” on some mysterious question of Presbyterian church history, we cannot tell; but for no premium whatever, could any living man obtain an insurance that his grandchildren shall "live tilí there shall be a union of those sects with either of the two General Assemblies. What indications are there of a coming time when the Reformed Dutch Church and the German Reformed, both accepting the Heidelberg Catechism as the standard of doctrine, and both governed by the same forms, shall be one, or shall be merged in some Panpresbyterian unity. The theory of church-unity, taken in connection with the other elements of Presbyterianism, is what makes these separations permanent, hardening into rock the lines and impressions that should have been, and but for this influence would have been, like footsteps on the sandy beach.
All our observation for these many years has convinced us more and more, that the institution of New Testament churches, self-governed churches, belonging to no sectarian organization, owning allegiance only to Christ as their head, and acknowledging each other in acts of mutual kindness and communion, according to their opportunities and relations,—is the true remedy-philosophical as well as Scriptural—for the schisms that have broken the commonwealth of our evangelical Christendom into so many uncomely fragments. Happily, in our country, the principle of parochial independency is working under all the forms of attempted church-unity; and the consciousness of corporate rights and of a distinct ecclesiastical life, is coming to be a potent fact in congregations of every name. The church-that is, the worshiping assembly—in proportion as it “ feels its life in every limb,” is beginning to feel that it is greater, and nearer to the holy fountain of life, than the presbytery, the classis, the conference, the convention, the synod, or the assembly.
ART. II.-INSANITY AND CRIME.
Report of the Trial of Willard Clark, indicted for the murder
of Richard W. Wight, before the Superior Court of Connecticut, holden at New Haven, Sept. 17, 1855. pp. 217. New Haven: T. H. Pease.
THERE is quite a general dissatisfaction in the community with the verdict in this case. It is unfortunate that it should be so, for the respect which is due to law is impaired whenever its decisions do not meet with the public approval. The certainty that the ends of justice will be attained in our courts is a great security to the good order and morality of the community, It is a terror to evildoers, restraining them from crime; and it is a source of salutary and comforting, confidence to all law-abiding citizens. And just so far as this security is impaired by a conflict between the convictions of the public and the decisions of law, are both the restraint upon evildoers on the one hand, and the faith of moral citizens in law on the other, lessened.
In the present case, although the dissatisfaction is far from being unfounded, it is based for the most part upon wrong grounds. The general feeling is, that the result of this trial furnishes an example of the supposed facility with which criminals can escape the penalties of the law on a false plea of insanity. The community at large are in gross error on this point. Establishing the plea of insanity on false grounds, it is true, is possible; but it is by no means an easy achievement. We know not of a single case in which it is clear that this has been done; and, on the other hand, we know of many cases in which the jury failed to be satisfied of the existence of insanity, where it really did exist, and rendered a verdict of guilty. We will allude to but a single case. It is that of the poor negro Freeman, who killed the Van Ness family, consisting of four persons. In his case a verdict of guilty was rendered; and the community, who came near making him a victim of Lynch law before the trial, were eager to have the sentence executed, because they considered him so bloodthirsty a murderer. Mr. Seward, who defended him, succeeded in obtaining a grant for a new trial. But this trial never took place. The judge, before whom Freeman was to be tried, visited him in his cell, and, becoming satisfied of his insanity, refused to try him. In a few months the prisoner died, and the evidence of his insanity was satisfactory to every one that was acquainted with the case.
There have been so many cases in which there have been convictions of persons actually insane, that there is some danger that experts, having their sympathies awakened, may be too ready to find insanity, and may therefore fail to sift the evidence with sufficient thoroughness in doubtful cases. This is the only ground of danger that we see, and there is reason for the utterance of a caution on this point.
With the exception of the circumstance just mentioned, the tendencies are to render difficult, rather than easy, the proof of insanity to a jury. For the community generally are disposed to rest their belief of the existence of insanity only upon the most palpable evidence—that which is furnished by overt acts. And a jury will commonly have the views that prevail in the community on this subject. We have known some cases of even incurable insanity, in which its existence was doubted for a long time by the community at large. We call to mind one case in which this mistake on the
part of nonprofessional observers was very striking. The patient was a member of a family in which insanity was manifestly hereditary. The disease had come on in her case very gradually. To most casual observers there did not appear to be anything more than a strange earnestness, with some peculiarity of views on certain topics. She was supposed to have lost her balance of mind, as it was expressed; and some very sensible persons would not allow that even this was true. Blame would have been cast upon us for procuring her confinement in an Insane Hospital, had she not just previous to our doing so VOL. XIV.
manifested her insanity by a palpable overt act. And yet no medical man could fail to see evidence of insanity in her conversation; and we were persuaded at the first that it was an incurable case, as it proved to be.
The dissatisfaction of the community with the verdict in the case before us, does not arise simply from their lack of appreciation of the evidence of insanity. If it were so, the dissatisfaction would be easily removed by the influence of physicians, and others, who have some acquaintance with the subject. Their opinions and explanations would gradually set the public mind right. But the general dissatisfaction in this case depends in part upon the fact that discerning men, acquainted with the subject of insanity and with the habits of the insane, fail to see, in the testimony adduced, clear evidence that the homicide was an insane act. Not that they claim that Clark was proved to be sane. Their belief is simply that the evidence does not definitely settle the question of insanity. There are deficiencies and discrepancies in the testimony that forbid a satisfactory conclusion on this point. The mode of investigating it was not such as should satisfy a truly scientific inquirer. In saying this we mean no disrespect to the experts, Drs. Ray, Butler and Earle, who testified so decidedly to the insanity of the prisoner, as will be seen in our statement of the case.
Much blame has been cast upon the jury, but we think without reason. They did the best that they could do under the circumstances. We should have been better satisfied if they had not agreed upon a verdict, for then a more thorough examination of the great question in the case might have been had. But they undoubtedly thought it incumbent upon them to come to a definite decision, and render a verdict either of guilty or not guilty; and we certainly would be far from demanding of them a verdict of guilty, for sanity was qạite as far from being proved as insanity in the case of the prisoner. It is to be remembered that the law is such at present, that the jury were allowed but little latitude in regard to the form of their verdict. The manifest deficiency of the law to which we allude, we shall remark upon in another part of this article.
The report of the trial of Clark is very full, covering over two hundred pages. We propose to examine it for certain purposes which will appear as we proceed.
The main facts of the history of this homicide are these : Willard Clark, the prisoner, became engaged to Miss Bogart (now Mrs. Wight, the widow of Wight, who was killed by Clark) in the summer of 1852, and remained so till January 1, 1854. She then dismissed him, and at once Wight began his particular attentions to her. Exactly at what time he became engaged to her does not appear. His attentions were omitted from March to October, for what reason we are not informed. He was married to her on March 12, 1855. Clark continued to visit the family occasionally during all this time, and even after the marriage. On the day of the homicide, April 18, he called twice. His first visit was in the afternoon. He did not find Mrs. Wight at home, but had some conversation with Mrs. Bogart, her mother. He seemed to be much troubled because Mrs. Wight was to leave her father's house that evening to go to another place of residence with her husband, whom Clark seems to have believed to be so vile that her connection with him was her certain ruin. Just at dusk of the same day he called again, and in the presence of the family shot Wight through the head, with a pistol which he had borrowed that afternoon with the avowed
of killing a cat. After the commission of the deed he walked deliberately out of the house, returned the pistol, saying that he had shot a two-legged cat, went to his shop, and when the officer came for him, he accompanied him without any compulsion to the jail. Wight lingered three days in great suffering, but without sufficient consciousness to have any communication with those that watched over him.
There are two entirely opposite explanations given of this homicide by the attorney for the state, and the counsel for the prisoner. The attorney for the state claims that the deed was committed by a sane man from mere revenge towards a man that had taken his place in the affections of Miss Bogart, and that he was impelled to the deed by his vices and his infidel principles, the former corrupting him and inflaming his passions and propensities, and the latter making him reckless of all consequences. The counsel for the prisoner, on the other hand, claim that Clark was not actuated by a wicked revenge, but that the deed was committed in obedience to certain insane delusions, viz, that Mrs. Wight loved him and not her husband; that Wight was a villain, and was working the ruin of his wife; and that his mission was to kill Wight, and thus deliver her from ruin. They claim that his intidel notions were the result of insanity, and that they had no special connection with the act, and also that there was nothing in his habits of life that led him to it.
Much ground is covered by the defense in the attempt to prove the insanity of Clark. We may classify the testimony on this point thus: 1. Testimony claimed to show that Clark's