"My dear Lady Rowley," she said, "I don't know whether it won't become a question with them whether they should issue a commission de lunatico." Lady Rowley did not know what a commission de lunatico meant, but was quite willing to regard poor Mr. Glascock as a lunatic. "And there is poor Lord Peterborough at Naples just at death's door," continued the British Minister's wife.
"If they were off, you couldn't follow them; and, if you did follow and find them, you couldn't prevent their being married, if such were their wish, and they had a priest ready to do it. Take my advice; remain quiet where you are, and let's talk the matter over. As for taking out a commission 'de lunatico', as we call it, you'll find you couldn't do it.
The year after I came into undisputed possession of my estates, the next heir got a writ issued against me of "de inquirendo lunatico," on the ground of the strange and unworthy manner that I, as a baronet with an immense estate, had lived for those last eighteen years.
"Have no fear," said Dona Rosita quickly, "he is gone I saw him pass away so! But it was HE Huanson. I recognize him. I forget him never." "Are you sure?" "Have I the eyes? the memory? Madre de Dios! Am I a lunatico too? Look! He have stood there so." "Then you think he knew you were here?" "Quien sabe?" "And that he came here to see you?"
Parkes, with grave interest. "No, sir," he answered sharply, and almost fiercely; "I have no fancy to make myself the subject of a writ de lunatico inquirendo; I don't want to lose my liberty and my property at a blow. The course I mean to take has been advised by no one but myself is known to no other.
If such a man were to allow the cinders to be raked all over his drawing-room, and a privy to be established in each corner of his dining-room, if he habitually made a dust and refuse heap of his once beautiful garden, never washed his sheets or changed his tablecloth, and made his family sleep five in a bed, he would surely find himself in the claws of a commission de lunatico.
Zangwill made an attempt to swear out a "writ de lunatico inquirendo" against his Jewish brother, on the ground that the first symptom of insanity is often the delusion that others are insane; and this being so, Doctor Nordau was not a safe subject to be at large. But the Assize of Public Opinion denied the petition, and the dear people bought the book at from three to five dollars a copy.
"Mind, Ipsden, you are a man of property, and there are such things as commissions de lunatico." Lady Bar. "His defense will be that his friends pronounced him insane." Ips. "No; I shall subpoena Talbot's fiddle, cross-examination will get nothing out of that but, do, re, mi, fa." Lady Bar. "Yes, it will; fa, mi, re, do." Tal. "Violin, if you please." Lady Bar. "Ask Fiddle's pardon, directly."
"I agree with you that the usual course by praying the Court of Chancery for a Commission de Lunatico Inquirendo, is timorous, and rests on prejudice. Plt., if successful, is saddled with his own costs, and sometimes with Deft.'s, and obtains no compensation.
He then addressed her, half stiffly, half kindly: "Lady Bassett, whatever may be your husband's condition whether his illness is mental or bodily, or a mixture of the two his clandestine examination by bought physicians, and his violent capture, the natural effect of which must have been to excite him and retard his cure, were wicked and barbarous acts, contrary to God's law and the common law of England, and, indeed, to all human law except our shallow, incautious Statutes de Lunatico: they were an insult to yourself, who ought at least to have been consulted, for your rights are higher and purer than Richard Bassett's; therefore, as a wife bereaved of your husband by fraud and violence and the bare letter of a paltry statute whose spirit has been violated, you are quite justified in coming to me or to any public man you think can help your husband and you."