Punch,  56 (1869), 43.

Bruce and Bisgrove





Crime, Medical Practitioners, Expertise, Mental Illness, Hospitals, Periodicals, Politics

    Discusses a recent case of a cobbler who was tried for murder but whose death sentence was commuted by the Home Secretary (Henry A Bruce) because the accused suffered from epilepsy. Defends the Home Secretary's decision from criticism by the Pall Mall Gazette and Saturday Review, challenging the Pall Mall Gazette's allegation that the evidence was not properly considered and that the Home Secretary did not appear to base his decision on the judgement of 'a physician of skill and experience in diseases of the brain'—a practitioner who could have shown, by examination of the accused and sifting of evidence, whether the accused was insane. Argues that the Home Secretary probably did consult a medical expert, but points out that the judgements of 'a Home Secretary of long experience at the bar, and a Chief Constable' were just as reliable. Insists that the chief constable was just as capable of 'cross-examination and distinction and of taking opinions of impartial experts' as the skilled physician. Notes that from his experience of physicians in the witness-box, Mr Punch would question their 'judicial faculty'. Concludes by further questioning the assumptions made by the Pall Mall Gazette.

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