Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/122

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unsoundness appear. In most cases the victim is a neurotic by inheritance and growth. In other words, he was born with a defective brain and organism, and both growth and culture have been imperfect. Many and complex influences, among which alcohol or other narcotics may be prominent, have prepared the soil, furnished the seed, and stimulated the growth of a positive disease of the brain. The higher brain-centers have slowly succumbed to a paralysis, as mysterious as it is certain in its march. The victim's capacity to comprehend his condition, and adjust himself to the surroundings, becomes less and less, and he is more and more a waif drifting with every possible influence. In appearance, head, face, and body are angular and imperfectly developed, the nutrition is defective, the eye, the voice, and every act and movement indicate degeneration and disease. Any general history of the crime reveals delirium, hallucinations, delusions, and maniacal impulses. Thus, in one day, the papers recorded the following among other cases of this class: An inebriate, of previously quiet disposition, killed his wife, supposing she had put poison in his food. Another man in a similar state shot a stranger who differed with him on the age of Queen Victoria. Another man killed his father, who remonstrated with him for overdriving a horse. Still another assaulted fatally his brother, who would not give him money. Two men, both intoxicated, mortally wounded each other in a quarrel who should pay for the spirits drunk. Another man killed both wife and child, supposing the former was going to desert him. Thus, day after day, the records of these inebriate lunatics appear, and each case is as positively the act of a maniac as if committed by an inmate of an asylum, whose insanity was long ago adjudged. In each case, a long premonitory stage has preceded this last act; the individual history of almost every inebriate furnishes abundant evidence of this. In the courtroom this insanity of the prisoner is ignored, and the legal fiction, that drunkenness is no excuse for crime, prevails. The prisoner is assumed to be always a free agent, and the use of alcohol a willful act, the consequences of which he should be held accountable for. As a result, the victim is destroyed, and the object of the law, to reform the offender and deter others from the commission of crime, lamentably fails.

The second class of these inebriate maniacs are less prominent in the press, but more often seen in the lower and police courts. They are arrested for drunkenness, minor assaults, and all grades of breaches of the peace. They use alcohol, opium, or any other drug for its effect, and their character and conduct are a continuous history of insane and imbecile acts. In appearance they are suffering from disease, and the hereditary history is prominent in ancestral degenerations and defects. They are repeaters for the same offense over and over again, and their crime is of a low, imbecile type against both person and property, characterized by profound mental and moral paralysis. In popular esti-