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is almost as likely to get the one dose
as the other, aud that he is not at all likely
to get precisely the amount of opium
prescribed. There are some thirty drugs, of which
it is in this way important that a standard
quality should be demanded of all dealers,
as decidedly as we demand the use of standard
weights and measures. We must, bring,
therefore, the scientific chemist to our aid.

Then, as to the deliberate sale of poison to
a general customer at chemists' shops. A
complete interdict would lead of course to
many inconvenient results, and might
possibly defeat its own intention. Probably it
would be enough to add to the existing law
concerning the sale of poison, obligation upon
druggists to sell poison, or medicine in
poisonous quantities, only to applicants whom
they know personally, and to people bringing
a prescription, or an order, written or
countersigned by a qualified surgeon or physician,
whose handwriting they can identify.
Furthermore, that when poison is sold, even
under these conditions, entry be made at the
time, of the name and address of the
purchaser, and not of the day only, but also of
the time of day, when it was purchased. It
is utterly impossible to put down suicide. If
a man will kill himself, he can. Legislate, as
we may, we shall attempt in vain to barricade
his life inside his body; but, so far as
poisons are concerned, we can surely almost
put an end to death by accident, and place
very substantial difficulties in the way of
those who are devising secret murder. If
he does not fear detection, it is not much
more possible to frustrate the intentions of
the murderer than of the suicide. We can
rely only on the good that is in man, and
on the influences of religion for the confidence
we usually have in intercourse with
one another. But the poisoner is commonly
a coward, who employs a coward's weapon:
he desires to strike his blow in the dark only.
Happily, now the time is near, when, with
the help of science, he who strikes by poison
must be made to feel that there is noon-day
light upon his deed. Let purchasers of
poison be only henceforth as distinctly traceable
as the effects of poison now have come
to be, and bludgeon, rope, or knife will be
less tell-tale weapons than the drug.

One most important feature in the modern
history of poisoning remains to be considered.
It is not to Brinvilliers but to Wainwright.
that our minds revert in reading of the use of
poison by the murderers of our own day.
Such crimes but rarely, as in the old times,
arise out of the malice of a feud; nor is it
quite in the old sense that greedy heirs use
arsenic as a succession powder in the mere
hastening of an inheritance that will accrue
by lapse of time. Few men will now consent
to bear the guilt of murder. Out of the
practice of life insurancenoble fruit of the
study of the higher branches of arithmetic
everyday reality, which blesses thousands at
their hearths and homes, although the
produce of an abstract science,—out of an abuse
of this element in modern civilisation a new
race of poisoners has sprung. It includes
those who poison to secure on death of one
who is insured, large sums from the insurance
offices, and those who destroy husbands and
children for the few pounds assured to them
at death in a burial-club. These crimes are
known to be common, and are, perhaps, more
common than we know. Inquiry made
because of the disclosures in a recent case, has
shown that suspicious applications are among
the incidents of business known to every
insurance company. The temptation is
obvious. Successions and inheritances will
come in due time; but by insuring a life and
destroying it, thousands of pounds can, as it
were, be called into existence as a prize
attainable by the devices of the poisoner.
The assassin sets his own price on his crime.
In other words, through the intervention of
an act of secret poisoning, insurance offices
may be robbed as the guilty mind thinks at
discretion. Even in the youth of the insur-
ance system, this was seen; and, six-and-
twenty years ago, the crimes of Wainwright
set it openly before the public. Since that
time the practice has continued; and among
the poor, in the application of the system of
mutual assurance to sick clubs and burial
clubs, poisoners became so common, that of
the burial clubs themselves, many fell out of
use as horrible provocatives to crime.

With life insurance we associate most justly
thoughts of all that is good, and wise, and
prudent. A more beneficial result of
knowledge is not to be found; and yet it is upon
this that nearly the whole practice of secret
poisoning now rests. It is well, therefore, in
taking due precaution against the most
dastardly of crimes, not only to show that acts
of poisoning are losing rapidly, and shall lose
yet more completely, the chance of secrecy on
which they have depended, but also to destroy
as much as possible the motive of the criminal.
If solemn justice could be had in our law
courts by rich and poor, subject to no extortion
or delay, formal and public evidence of a
sufficient interest might be required before
any man was suffered to insure another's life.
As the world goes, however, we must place
our chief reliance on the stringency of the
requirements that will henceforth be adopted
by insurance companies for the protection
both of their own funds and of the public



SOME years since, when residing at
Moulmeyne, in Birmah, I witnessed an extraordinary
ceremony: the burning of a deceased
Poughy, or priest of the highest rank. These
priests with their sunken eyes, high cheekbones,
and low foreheads,are perfectly hideous.