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fit; the latter was of unusual occurrence, though Mr. Justice Buller sometimes astonished the surly chief, by explicitly dissenting and assigning very cogent reasons for his dissent. To descend to the low and level consequence of his brethren, who had been used to look up to him, was ill suited to his high mind; he had been the president of a liberal republic, he was now the vassal of an absolute monarchy. His opinions had swayed implicitly the judicial minds of his brethren; they were now exposed to the angry bay of Kenyon, and the snappish yelp of Grose. He bore the change for a few years, when, forsaking the Court in which he had practised all the years of his life, he retired from the King's Bench into the Court of Common Pleas, and became a puisne judge of that Court in 1794.

Mr. Cradock, in his lively memoirs, gives an interesting account of an interview with Judge Buller, shortly after his disappointment, when his health and spirits were declining, “This judge,” he says, "had great quickness of intellect, and strict integrity, but was not always so guarded, either in his charges or opinions, as might have been wished. He was affable, friendly, temperate at the table, but unhappy, and had resort too frequently to whist to divert him from uneasy thoughts. This seeming attachment to cards rendered him liable to censure, especially on the circuit. One of the last times I ever met him at dinner was on the day of his coming to Leicester, at the house of an eminent physician there. His lordship took leave of the company about twelve o'clock, but lingering for awhile he returned to the table, and we played whist for several hours. At the assizes, on the Sunday, we all dined in the Nework's, Leicester; there were present, Judge Buller, Counsellor Newman, and some gentlemen, who were all to meet again next week at Warwick; the general conversation was Donellan, and his guilt was asserted by all; the only doubt seemed to be, that as Lady Boughton, the mother, was all but a fool, her evidence, which was necessary, might not be effective; but it was acknowledged that she had been privately examined at the judge's chambers in town, and they thought she might be produced. I am sorry to say it, that Judge Buller's charge at Warwick was imprudent, for it prejudged, or rather condemned Donellan." The circumstances of

this extraordinary trial, which excited intense interest at the time, and was made matter of grave and serious imputation upon the presiding judge, are implicated too closely with his character as a criminal lawyer not to require more than a passing notice.

Captain Donellan had married the only daughter of Lady Boughton, a widow, whose son, Sir Theodosius Boughton, was then about twenty, and would, on attaining his majority, succeed to a fortune of above two thousand per annum. The families lived together at Lady Boughton's seat in Warwickshire. The young baronet, who had led a somewhat irregular life, became slightly indisposed; and his mother administered to him, as she thought, one of those innocent draughts which apothecaries are apt to furnish on such occasions. Before giving it she perceived that the smell was very extraordinary, exceedingly bitter, and very like the smell of laurel water when it was afterwards shown to her. The unfortunate young man took the draught, and on Lady Boughton returning to the room, in about ten minutes, was found with his eyes fixed, and hands clenched, foaming at the mouth, and apparently in the agonies of death. He expired before any medical aid could be procured. Captain Donellan wrote shortly afterwards to his guardian, to mention that the young man had died of fits, and to inquire whether there should be a post mortem examination. The guardian replied that it should certainly take place, for the satisfaction of the survivors, without delay. Various delays were, however, allowed to interpose; and when the medical men at last met, the majority were of opinion that the body was not in a fit state to be dissected. Captain Donellan suppressed this fact when he wrote again, but said the physicians had come, and all was done, as wished. Accordingly full permission was given for the funeral, and the body of the deceased baronet was interred on the eighth day after his death. But the suspicions of the neighbourhood were roused; rumours of poison daily gained strength and consistency; the coroner for the district issued his warrant, and the body was exhumed. A partial dissection took place, but the head was not opened, nor were those chemical tests applied to the contents of the stomach, by which the presence of mineral or vegetable poison is now so

commonly detected. When Lady Boughton was examined at the inquest, she deposed to her son-in-law having washed the phials in which the draughts were contained, in spite of every opposition she could give, on which Captain Donellan was observed to lay hold of her by the sleeve, as if attempting to check her from giving that fact in evidence. The coroner and jury sat three days; on the last day Donellan, becoming alarmed, wrote them a letter stating, he felt it his duty to give them every information he could; that the deceased used to have arsenic by the pound weight at a time, to kill rats, with which the place abounded; that at table they had not eaten knowingly, for many months past, any thing which they perceived him touch, as they well knew his extreme inattention to the bad effects of the numerous things he frequently used to send for. The scope of the letter was to lead the jury to believe, that the young man had inadvertently poisoned himself; but its statements were wholly untrue. The inquest returned a verdict of wilful murder against him; and on his trial before Mr. Justice Buller, other facts, still more pregnant with guilt, were elicited.

It appeared, that in a conversation with a fellow-prisoner, who asked him if he believed that Sir Theodosius was in truth poisoned, he replied, " I make no doubt of it. Lady Boughton and the apothecary being mentioned as instruments, he said, "I don't know which of them, but it is amongst them." He afterwards wrote a letter, and desired it to be sent unsealed, as it was, to Mrs. Donellan. "No longer remain where you are likely to undergo the fate of those who have gone by sudden means, which Providence will bring to light by and by. In my first letter to you from Rugby, in November last, I mentioned to you a removal; I had my reasons, which will appear in an honest light in March next, to the eternal confusion of an unnatural being." As another proof of the self-contradictions of a guilty man, it was deposed that at the time the body was opened Donellan said, there was nothing the matter, that a blood-vessel had broken. But the main fact of suspicion, which weighed so heavily on the mind of the learned counsel who was brought down special to conduct the prosecution, that he exclaimed on hearing it, "Now I have the rope round his neck which will hang him," was, that he had for

some months used a private still; and that he had distilled the juices of many plants and shrubs, laurel amongst the rest. What more easy than for him, secretly, to have filled a phial with laurel water, and to have substituted it for the real draught in the sick room. On the day of the death he had this private still completely rinsed and purified; five or six medical men deposed, that to the best of their judgments, a draught of laurel water had been the cause of death; but their science was found lamentably defective on cross-examination, and their knowledge of poisons to be very slight indeed. Against such a mass of evidence, what course could the counsel for the prisoner pursue? If poison had indeed been given, who could be the poisoner but the shuffling, equivocating, selfcontradicted, self-condemned prisoner at the bar?

Mr. Newman, with great discretion, founded his defence on the fact that the death was not occasioned by poison, and in support of his position put into the box Mr. John Hunter, the most celebrated anatomist of the day. His examination was most important; the whole appearances, he said, on the dissection, explained nothing but putrefaction.

"Q. Are the symptoms that appeared after the medicine was given such as necessarily conclude that the person had taken poison?

A. Certainly not.

Q. If an apoplexy had come on, would not the symptoms have been nearly, or somewhat similar?

A. Very much the same.

Q. Have you ever known or heard of a young subject dying of an apoplectic of epileptic fit?


A. Certainly but with regard to apoplexy not so frequent. Young subjects will perhaps die more frequently of epilepsies than old ones: children are dying every day from teething, which is a species of epilepsy arising from irritation.

Q. Did you ever in your practice know an instance of laurel water being given to a human subject?

A. No, never.

Q. Is any certain analogy to be drawn from the effects of any given species of poison on an animal of the brute creation to that it may have on a human subject?

A. As far as my experience goes, which is not a very con

fined one, because I have poisoned some thousands of animals they are very nearly the same. Opium, for instance, will poison a dog, very nearly similar to a man. Arsenic will have very nearly the same effect on a dog, as it would have, I take for granted, on a man.

Q. Have you ever had an opportunity of seeing such appearances on such subjects?

A. Hundreds of times.

Q. Should you consider yourself bound by such an appearance to impute the death of the subject to poison?

A. No, certainly not. I should rather suspect an apoplexy; and I wish in this case the head had been opened to remove all doubts.

Q. Then in your judgment on the appearances the gentlemen have described, no inference can be drawn from thence that Sir Theodosius Boughton died from poison?

A. Certainly not; it does not give the least suspicion."
The Court here interposed.

"Q. Give me your opinion in the best manner you can, one way or the other, whether, upon the whole of the symptoms described, the death proceeded from that medicine, or any other cause?

A. I do not mean to equivocate; but when I tell the sentiments of my own mind, what I felt at the time, I can give nothing decisive."

Mr. Justice Buller, in summing up, showed how little his own mind was affected with doubt. "A presumption," he said, "which necessarily arises from circumstances is very often more convincing, and more satisfactory, than any other kind of evidence, because it is not within the reach and compass of human abilities to invent a train of circumstances, which shall be so connected together as to amount to a proof of guilt, without affording opportunities of contradicting a great part, if not all of those circumstances. For the prisoner, you have had one gentleman called, who is likewise of the faculty, and a very able man; I can hardly say what his opinion is, for he does not seem to have formed any opinion at all of the matter. He at first said he could not form an opinion whether the death was or was not occasioned by the poison, because he could conceive that it might be ascribed to other causes. I

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