THE LATE TRAGEDY AT BRIGHTON.

THE LATE TRAGEDY AT BRIGHTON.

THE LATE TRAGEDY AT BRIGHTON. upon the community than an extension of their means of enjoying the salubrity of intra-urban places of quiet and resort...

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THE LATE TRAGEDY AT BRIGHTON. upon the community than an extension of their means of enjoying the salubrity of intra-urban places of quiet and resort. The authorities of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital are, it has been stated, desirous of obtaining Smithfield for the purpose of making gardens and pleasure-grounds for the convalescent patients of that noble institution. To this proposition it appears to us that not a single objection of a valid nature has been urged. It is true that the opponents of any amelioration of the condition of those pent-up in the alleys and courts of this great metropolis have objected to the planting of Smithfield as a garden, on the ground that it would be covered with smoke and dust. These objectors take Finsbury-square as a model on which to sustain their opposition. They have in their been singularly unfortunate selection, because Finsburysquare is the most inappropriate, and certainly the most ineligible model that they could adduce. This square is said to demonstrate most forcibly the ineligibility of an urban site for The trees, say these objectors, are covered with a garden. smoke and dust, and exhibit anything but an approximation to the vegetation of a rural district. They may not be altogether wrong; but it must not be forgotten that the West side of Finsbury-square is one of the greatest thoroughfares in the

engaged in the examination, trusting that we should be favoured

with some more full, correct, and authentic statement of the facts of the case than it is possible to glean from the various contradictory and irrelevant reports that have from time to time been laid before the public, upon which it would seem impossible to come to any definite conclusion. In the meantime, however, the specious and imposing contribution of Dr. Hall, which appeared in your columns last week, calls for examination and comment, in order to prevent erroneous impressions being formed in the minds of those not conversant with the whole circumstances. In order, however, to avoid ambiguity, I must shortly recapitulate the most important points in the history of the case. On the 2nd of November, Dr. Franck and his son, Hugo, aged seventeen, strangers to Brighton, took up their abode in the Albion Hotel; they went to bed without exciting any suspicion or remark. About six o’clock the following morning Dr. Franck precipitated himself from the window, and was killed, evidently a case of suicide. The son, Hugo, was found in bed, dead, but still warm, lying on his back; his face was livid; features not distorted; arms and hands lying placidly by the side of the body; knees slightly bent, and the bedclothes unruffled-everything contradicting the existence of a struggle having preceded death. A silk scarf was tied round his neck, but " so lightly that two fingers could easily be inserted between it and the neck;" and when the scarf was untied no mark of violence or pressure was found to exist under it. This was the amount of the direct evidence laid before the jury by the medical witness, Dr. Carter, (Mr. Blaker, who was also present at the examination of the body, not having beenNothing was said as to the existence of any bottles metropolis. Owing to the negligence of the local authorities, called.) or paper packages being sought for in the room, as indicative the trees may not be so green, nor the walks so private, as in of poison having been employed, nor any examination of the some rural district ten miles from London. But if Smithfield body made in order to discover the existence of previous disease,-of the heart for instance. Dr. Carter, however, tried to should be made into a garden, how far would these objections bleed from the arm, while Mr. Blaker "performed artificial hold good? We believe not at all. Finsbury-circus, not a respiration," in order to restore animation, and the body was " a good deal pulled about" by them. stone’s-throw from the square, is almost rural. CharterhouseHaving made this statement to the jury, Dr. Carter said square looks pleasant amid the surrounding dinginess. Where that he then " reflected whether the act had proceeded from have you finer walks or finer trees than in Lincoln’s-Inn-fields, his own hand or that of another," having already made up his mind that it was a case of violent death, and then went on to or in the gardens of Gray’s-Inn ?-those noble gardens which prove to the jury, in a very elaborate manner, how that the father could murder his son, without leaving any trace of his are still almost as rural as when the great Lord BACON comagency, by certain ways and means that such a learned man as some of his the noblest of under the shades of posed Essays, Dr. Franck was likely to be acquainted with, and gave his the now ancient trees. The fact is, that the struggle for the opinion that he had really done so. Whether Dr. Carter was in taking up such a position on the evidence adduced, possession of Smithfield is between the commercial and the justified I must leave your readers to judge. But the jury returned a sanitary competitors-between those who would make a great verdict according to evidence, that Hugo Franck" was found central market of it, and those who would convert it into a strangled, but whether by his own hand or that of another there is no evidence to show." No post-mortem examination contributor to the health of the inhabitants of a crowded city. of the body was thought necessary, the coroner, the medical To those who, like Mr. Pluralist HALE, regard intra-mural witness, and the jury, seeming quite satisfied with the result interments as conducive to health, and, consequently, crowding of the inquiry. That the did not feel so satisfied is evident from the together as most beneficial, any attempt to make Smithfield a many letterspublic communicated to the newspapers, &c., from the City garden would be condemned as subversive of the public in- most various and influential quarters ; and the friends were terests. But by the more enlightened-those, in fact, who not satisfied, for we learn that they requested Mr. Blaker to examine the body, to see if no further light could be look on over-crowding as an evil, intra-mural interment pro- again thrown upon the melancholy affair. Nothing seems to have ductive of disease, and open spaces for the multitude as pro- resulted from this examination, however, although it is to be that Mr. Blaker did not give the result to the public. ductive of good, the making Smithfield a place of health regretted Here, then, the matter rested, and the most common expeand recreation for the people will be regarded as a blessing rience must have regretted the paucity of evidence adduced, to the over-worked and over-crowded population of the City and that the medical witness should have hazarded such an opinion upon it; an opinion, moreover, involving a theory so of London. wild and extravagant that the most overwhelming amount of facts could alone justify him in urging it upon a jury. But Dr. Hall now informs your readersthat he has discovered the link that was wanting in the evidence ; and certainly, if his facts are to be trusted, the mystery is indeed solved. I fear, however, that he has been too hasty in his conclusions, and " Audi alteram partem." accepted as evidence of the existence of violence preceding death, what was but the result of post-mortem interference in THE LATE TRAGEDY AT BRIGHTON. the performance of artificial respiration. At any rate, while Dr. Hall is silent as to the means he employed in order to avoid this mistake, I am justified in calling it in question. In taking To the Editor of THE LANCET. his " Notes" seriatim, it will be seen that the phenomena he SIR,-Although I have taken a lively interest in all the pro- describes and portrays in his beautiful sketch are exactly ceedings connected with the melancholy affair at Brighton, as what we would look for as the result of the operation of artiwell as in the various contributions that have appeared in the ficial respiration. public prints regarding it, I have abstained from taking any Dr. Hall states that he examined the bodv at the under. part in the controversy, in justice to the professional witnesses taker’s on the evening of the 5th of two days after

Correspondence.

November,

531

death ; that he discovered" certain unmistakable marks of cellular tissue, or, at least, a sulcus corresponding with the violence," depicted in the drawing. He says, " even the under- kerchief. The urine or fæces are not stated to havebeen taker

was struck that they should have been overlooked"-by the other medical gentlemen, I suppose, who had examined the body : no very complimentary reflection on their profes-

sional

aptitude !

Note 1 states that the face was livid and the pupils dilated" - phenomena often met with in death from natural causes, such as disease of the heart or lungs, as well as from strangulation. " A slight appearance of blood was found in the right nostril" ; and this, too, is easily accounted for by the usual means employed in artificial respiration, as well as the phenoThe mucous membrane mena mentioned in Notes 2 and 3. might be abraded in forcibly inflating through the nostrils, and a little blood flow while the body was still warm. The mouth must have been closed by firmly compressing the jaws together, in order to prevent the exit of air by that channel, and so account for the condition of the teeth and tongue described, and the crescentic-shaped depressions, or nail-marks, so well represented in the diagram, and described in Notes 4-7 are equally accounted for as the result of the manipulation necessary in fixing and repressing the larynx, in order to prevent the descent of the air through the œsophagus into the stomach while inflating the lungs-explanations so natural and ready that one is astonished to find that they were not anticipated by the author. I feel, therefore, compelled to dismiss both Dr. Hall’s facts and conclusions, and refer the case back to its original obscurity and mystery, where it must now remain, I fear, for ever, seeing that there is little chance of the body being exhumed at this late date; while the evidence to be obtained in the forward state of decomposition in which it must be, would naturally detract much from its value as evidence. I may repeat, then, that it is impossible to come to any definite conclusion upon the data before us as to the nature of the death of young Franck. That it was a "violent death," as recorded by the jury, I believe to be almost impossible and highly improbable; and that Dr. Franck’s " temporary insanity" followed upon the sudden loss of his son, may be as probable as that it preceded and led to the murder. That the death occurred from the employment of some powerful narcotic poison is very possible; but in the absence of any bottle* or empty package being found in the room to corroborate it, must be reckoned 1lnlikely. But that the death occurred from natural causes, I think most probable and likely. It would account for the symptoms equally as well as the other alternative, while a most important fact (which ought to have been elicited at the inquest) goes to corroborate this view-viz., that his mother died suddenly, at an early age, of heart disease, which we know to be often hereditary. Finally, in the face of the very imperfect, and often contradictory state of the evidence, I need not urge that it would only be in keeping with the noble character of our profession to lean towards the side of charity, and, where the cause of truth is not endangered, that we should endeavour to save the feelings of the living as well as the good name of the .

dead. I haveto

apologize for the unexpected length to which these have extended, and can only plead my inability to do remarks justice to the subject in less space. I remain, Sir, your most obedient servant, WM. WILLIAMSON, M.D. Brighton, Nov. 26th, 1855. [-NOTE

FROM

MR.

WITHRINGTON.]

To the Editor

of THE LANCET. excellent SIR,-In your journal of last week there appeared a very important letter from Dr. Hall, who, on inspecting the body of Hugo Franck, found certain suspicious-looking nailmarks and scratches about the neck, of which he has furnished

diagrams.

The lacerated tongue, dilated pupils, bloody nostril, and teeth covered with mucous, would point to strangulation as the cause of death, when conjoined with other appearances. But one with difficulty conceives the possibility of strangling a person of Hugo’s age by manual compression, without some convulsive struggling, and no such thing did the state of the bed evince. Had it been effected by means of the kerchief found loosely knotted about his neck, there would not, of necessity, have been ecchymosis, but, probably, either that condition, or, as in cases related by Esquirol, a white band of condensed * I have been informed that a small bottle was found in the room one; but as nothing- has been said of it, it doubtless led to no result.

532

bv

some

found in the bed. From Dr. Hall’s drawings it is to be inferred that both thumbs were used to compress; and really I am astonished to hear no mention of imprints beyond the nail-marks, and from their convexities being turned towards those of the opposite side, the person must have applied them from behind the bedhead, or havebeen on the bed at the time, if not a small one, and the boy in its centre. Did Dr. Hall compare the nails of the father with the marks (n the boy’s neck? They might have been clipped so close as to preclude the possibility of their inflicting those wounds. What was the direction of the nail-mark on the metacarpal bone of the father’s left little

finger ?

The case of Dr. Franck is one of deep interest to all students of medicine, and the scantiness of detail in the examinations only increases the avidity with which any further particulars are seized. Everyone shares the astonishment expressed by you on the 17th, that so extraordinary a case should be disposed of with such marvellous rapidity. We want more medical coroners.

Apologising for thus trespassing,

I havethe honour to be yours

University College,

Nov. 1855.

&c.,

JOHN WITHRINGTON.

To the Editor of THE LANCET. SIR,-Dr. Hall, in his report published in your last number,

considers certain scratches and marks of finger-nails found on the neck of Hugo Franck, to be unequivocal proofs that he came by his death by some one situated in front of him, while he lay sleeping in his bed. My opinion is, that we are not permitted to form any conclusion from those marks and scratches, unless we have settled the question whether they were produced during life or after death. As Dr. Hall has not started this question, he seems to be of opinion that the injuries of the skin found on his inspection rnust have been done during life. Will you, therefore, kindly allow me a few words to show that still there are reasons for the opposite opinion. First, it seems improbable that Dr. Carter, who instituted the legal inspection, if I may use this term for a mere view of the outside of a body, has overlooked signs, the homicidal nature of which struck even the undertaker’s foreman. If, nevertheless, such has been the case, I am sorry for the reputation of Dr. Carter. Further, scratches inflicted during life I should expect to exhibit some sugillation, or, at least, perceptible traces of blood effused upon the surface of the abraded skin, neither of which seems to have been present, or else Dr. Hall would not have omitted to mention them. Again, such marks can readily be produced during the attempts of lifting a dead body. Were there marks on the skin of the nape ? Was somebody present when the undertaker’s men laid the bodies into the coffins, who recollects the

single manipulations?

If it can be evidenced that these scratches and nail-marks not post-mortem work, a careful comparison of Dr. Franck’s nails with the impressions found on his son’s neck can alone jnstify the grave suspicion. The nail-marks in Dr. Hall’s diagrams are demonstrative of very large nails, if, as I presume; they are accurately sketched: making all allowances for extension of the skin by subsequent alteration of the position of the head, there still remains about one inch of impression, which, if showing the real size of the impressing thumb-nails, no one would object to attribute to a hand grown large under hard work much more than to that of But this is mere supposition. a gentleman. I remain, Sir, yours most obediently, ADOLPH RASCH, M.D. Lipsiens. Lipsiens. Finsbury-place, London, Nov. 27th, 1855. are

To the Editor of THE LANCET. is evident that the late tragedy at Brighton must SIR,-It remain for ever enveloped in mystery, entirely owing to the unpardonable neglect of a post-mortem examination of both corpses. The father’s head was not injured, and ought to have been inspected. The presumption is that cerebral disease would have been found. The youth’s head, chest, and stomach ought to have been inspected, in order to establish the negative evidence of no disease existing in more organs, and no poison in the stomach. As it is, it is just possible that there was

natural expressions of indignation at the scenes I had witnessed. This letter was declared by the verdict of a Court of Inquiry, held in the Crimea during my absence on sick leaveat Scutari, to be " calculated grossly to mislead the public, and to cast blame upon those to whom praise was justly due." For writing I have come forward to make this individual declaration this letter I was dismissed from the service by General Simpsince there are circumstances in life when indifference is ciil- son, and stigmatized by Mr. F. Peel as a "public calumniator." The following are extracts from the letters of two of my pability, and to be silent is to acquiesce. I am, Sir, your obedient servant, patients, the only ones with whom I have had any communication since my arrival in England. The italics are my own :J. A. HINGESTON. Brighton,ivov. 28th, 1855. No. 1.-" I have read your letter which I saw in The Times, and I must say, with regard to the ward I was in under you-r THE TREATMENT OF THE WOUNDED IN THE charge, you stated nothing but what was strictly true." No. 2.-" True it is that on that memorable day, the l8th CRIMEA.—MR. BAKEWELL’S CASE. of to your ward, or the ward which June, that I was* carried To the Editor of THE LAKCET. ‘ that our treatment was bad indeed ; you took charge of SIR,-In The Times of July 5th there appeared a letter, for I could not get a ciriozk of water, neither was tlaere an orderly signed "M.R.C.S., L. S. A.,of which the following is the sub- to bring one. Dear Sir, when I read the copy of your letter, I stance :could not find anything in it which I could not certify. ’Tis "After all the talk in Parliament, and out of it, about the indeed too true that every deficiency was for two days, which Dear Sir, when I say Me, necessity of reform in our military system, and especially in also we stated to the Staff on inquiry. the medical department, and after the reports of the state of I mean every man in the ward." the hospitals at Scutari, persons of a confiding disposition, who I have thought it only right thus to bring the proofs of the were unacquainted with the Chinese-like unchangeability of truth of my statements before the members of that profession official men and things, might have supposed that, in the event to which it is my greatest pride and honour to belong. Let it of any great action-an event so long expected-every con- be borne in mind that I wrote the letter on the spot, and at venience and comfort for the wounded would be in abundance. the time when the deficiencies complained of were manifested, Perhaps the following facts may tend to undeceive them :-Att that no interested end could possibly be attained by the publithree A.M. on the 18th of June the assault commenced. We cation of such a letter, (it was not likely to forward my prowere all waiting for the wounded, who arrived as soon as they motion, or to secure me the favour of my superiors;) that the could travel the distance between the advanced works and the details were so minute and particular, that they could with hospital. At five A. M. a ward was given over to me; it con- the greatest ease be disproved if they were false; that I offered tained no patients, and I was requested to see what was to substantiate the statements and to give my name : that inwanted for it. I found in it fourteen wretched, shabby bed- stead of calling me before them, the authorities in the Crimea steads, as many mattresses stuffed with chopped straw, (the proceeded to conduct the inquiry in my absence; that even mattresses not sewn up at the side,) and sheets and blankets after my sham trial and sentence Lord Hardinge refused me a to correspond. This was all; not a single chamber utensil, copy of the evidence; finally, that I have obtained the testinot a cup, knife, fork, or spoon; no large vessel for holding mony of two independent witnesses to the truth of my statewater-nothing but what I have named. 1 immediately applied ments. Considering all this, I think few will doubt that I was for the various things deficient. Drinking-cups there were dismissed for telling unpleasant truths. none [in the purveyor’s stores]; one chamber utensil I could I forward you the originals of the letters I received from my have for the whole ward, and two bed-pans; nothing to hold patients, and beg to subscribe myself, water or tea; no plates. The wounded began to arrive; that Yours very R. HAL BAKEWEL . ward was soon filled. Others were given over to me in exactly R. HALL BAKEWELL. the same predicament. One orderly was given to fourteen Stanley-crescent, Notting-hill, Nov. 1855. wounded men, not one of whom was able to move. Each ward was the same. The constant cry of the wounded was for water; we had nothing to give it them in. Old tin cases that PROPOSED ASSOCIATION FOR THE ELECTION had contained preserved meat were eagerly sought for, but out OF MEDICAL CORONERS. of these they could not drink except by a most painful effort. To t7te Editor of THE LANCET. I as of course they had to be raised up in bed. I proceeded to call your attention to the importance of to SIR,—I beg dress the wounds. The orderly given me had never done that an association for supporting the election of medical organizing and when I asked him to me the before, lint, coroners duty give throughout London and the provinces. I cannot constrapping, and gutta percha, he did not know what those ceive anything more monstrous, and more opposed to the articles were. Every moment he was called away to give a drink to some wounded man. Well, Sir, during the whole of interests of society, than the manner in which coroners’ inquests that day the wounded had nothing to eat, and not enough to are at present usually conducted. I was sent for, some time drink. During the night of the 18th the wounded came ago, to see a woman, who, complaining of abdominal spasm, up stairs, threw herself on a bed, and in a few minutes crowding in; some of them were admitted by the orderlies went without having seen a medical officer, and consequently, not was found by her husband-who tadidly followed her, owing a quarrel being on the tapis-a corpse ! At the inquest the having been seen, their wounds were not dressed till morning. to learned coroner thus interrogated me :—"What was, in your the food these nine to till Yesterday only given poor creatures, I o’clock at night, was hard biscuit and tea. There was no opinion, the cause of this woman’s death?" Answer-" bread for them, no arrowroot, no beef-tea; nothing except tea really can form no opinionshe was in apparent health prewithout milk. I did not find this out until the bread had viously, and dead when I arrived. "-" Have you any reason to that she died from unfair or violent means ?" A. "Ass arrived, or certainly, as long as any bread was to be bought, believe I am perfectly in the dark without an autopsy, my answer can my own men should have had some. We were occupied inonly be, I have no such reason. "-’-Might she, or might she cessantly all yesterday and the day before in dressing and not, have died from spasm of the heart?" A. " Certainly she from the As soon as one man removed was operatingoperating. or from any other hypothetical cause."-Coroner : table another was put on. Your medical readers will under- might, " Gentlemen of the jury, you have had the evidence of the stand the frightful deficiency of stores -when I mention that there are no splints except straight ones to be had, and that husband, and of the medical gentleman who attended, and who did not die from foul means there are no M’Intyre’s splints nor any modification of them, tells you that, in his opinion, or violence, and that possibly she died from disease of the nor any angular splints......I can vouch for every word I have If you are not satisfied with such evidence, I will written. Though I do not wish my name to be published, you heart. order the body to be opened, which will be your act, not mine!" are at liberty to give it to any of the authorities, or to anyone Verdict-" Died from disease of the heart." who wishes to investigate the matter further....... CASE 2.-An old miserly gentleman, residing with his only " Camp before Sebastopol, June 20th, 1855. "P.S. June 22nd.-Since the above was written many of son, who had a beneficial interest in his death, went to bed in the things deficient have been supplied, but many are still his usual health. At nine o’clock on the following morning his son announced to the neighbours that he had just found his " wanting. father dead and cold in bed. I attended immediately, and The remainder of the letter consists of some strong but very a strong oc?o2cr of fresh porter in the deceased’s mouth!-

neither suicide

nor

murder, since

the direct evidence

was

not

forthcoming to prove either the one or the other. Never did the medical and legal professions appear in a weaker light than The verdict may have been on the piesent unhappy occasion. both legally and morally just, but the chain of positive facts relating to the catastrophe was never produced.



faithfully,

-

smelt

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