Gentlemen,—In doing me the honour to place me in the position of your President to-day, in succession to the distinguished Prof essor of Medicine in the University of Glasgow, I cannot but be fully aware that you are prepared to accept from me an address of a very different order from that with which the Association was favoured last year. Professor Gairdner brought prominently to our notice the fundamental principle that the profession of medicine, and the healing art on which it rests, are one, and not manifold; and, in reminding us that those whose special lot it is to minister to sufferers from diseased mental function, proceed upon the same lines, and pursue the same method, in the matters of diagnosis and of treatment, as do those physicians who minister to other diseases of the human frame, he chose a theme than which none could have been more grateful to his audience; whilst it is needless to say that he clothed that theme in language, and embellished it with illustration, the eloquence and wealth of which are of too recent memory to permit of a successor venturing, for the present, to place foot on the same ground. Whilst, then, I am sure that each and all of us would desire to keep the theme of last year's address very prominently in mind, and would, perhaps, wish to say in a somewhat altered version of Terence, “Medicus sum; medici nihil a me alienum puto,” I deem myself, on the present occasion, peculiarly fortunate that the description of medical work that has fallen to my lot during several years past has had relation to a somewhat special matter; and it is upon this special matter, the relation of mental derangement to offences against the law of the land, that I ask your indulgence for the few words which I offer to you to-day. Two incidents have occurred since the last annual meeting of this Association, which, if I had been in doubt as to the choice of a subject, would have gone far towards removing that doubt. I allude to the presentation to Parliament of the Report of the Commission, appointed in 1880, to inquire into the subject of criminal lunacy, and to the appearance of a new edition of Mr. Justice Stephen's work on the “History of the Criminal Law of England.” In attempting to give even the briefest sketch of the progressive steps by which the measures for the care and treatment of criminal lunatics have advanced during recent years, the first question that naturally arises is, what is a criminal lunatic? The name appears, at first sight, to imply a contradiction of terms, inasmuch as a person who is a lunatic may be said to be incapable of committing what, in the strictest sense of the word, can be called a crime. But, in spite of this seeming inconsistency, the term has been in use for the last eighty years, and it appears likely to continue to be used, because it is, after all, really descriptive of the class of persons to whom it is applied; inasmuch as every criminal lunatic, of whatever class, has not only been charged before a court of law with the commission of some crime, but is actually in custody, so long as he remains in the class of criminal lunatics, on account of such crime—the nature of the crime, and the circumstances of its commission, determining whether the person ever enters the class of criminal lunatics or not. If the crime is not grave, the person accused is generally handed over to the parish authorities or to friends, to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the general lunacy laws; but if, on the other hand, the crime is grave, or if the circumstances of its commission are such as to give reason for believing that society would be insufficiently protected by trusting to the operation of the general lunacy laws, then the individual passes on into the class of criminal lunatics, and becomes subject to special statutes.
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