Punch,  53 (1867), 90.

Misadventure Called Manslaughter. A Talk Between Two Fellows



Dialogue, Spoof


Crime, Narcotics, Medical Treatment, Medical Practitioners, Psychology, Morality

    Describes a debate between 'Two Fellows' on the case of a Leicester shopkeeper who was convicted of manslaughter for mistakenly selling laudanum instead of 'tincture of rhubarb', and thereby poisoning a child. The second fellow insists that the shopkeeper should be hanged 'to encourage others to take more care' and criticises him for trying to administer his own medical treatment to the child. The first fellow defends the shopkeeper, arguing that if such deaths occur without the knowledge of a medical man, then the cause of death 'might escape discovery', and so a vendor might forget to call a medical expert on the grounds that this would lead to his prosecution. He also dismisses the second fellow's notion that this is a 'selfish' course of action by pointing out that society is also selfish 'in enforcing responsibility for its own mere safety, with a view to precaution alone, and irrespectively of right or wrong'.

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