Definition of IDIOT


IDIOT

Persons. A person who has been without understanding from
his nativity, and whom the law, therefore, presumes never likely to
attain any. Shelf. on Lun. 2.

2. It is an imbecility or sterility of mind, and not a perversion
of the understanding. Chit. Med. Jur. 345, 327, note s; 1 Russ. on
Cr. 6; Bac. Ab. h. t. A; Bro. Ab. h. t.; Co. Litt. 246, 247; 3 Mod.
44; 1 Vern. 16; 4 Rep. 126; 1 Bl. Com. 302. When a man cannot count
or number twenty, nor tell his father s or mother s name, nor how
old he is, having been frequently told of it, it is a fair
presumption that, he is devoid of understanding. F. N. B. 233. Vide
1 Dow, P. C. now series, 392; S. C. 3 Bligh, R. new series, 1.
Persons born deaf, dumb, and blind, are, presumed to be idiots, for
the senses being the only inlets of knowledge, and these, the most
important of them, being closed, all ideas and associations
belonging to them are totally excluded from their minds. Co. Litt.
42 Shelf. on Lun. 3. But this is a mere presumption, which, like
most others, may be rebutted; and doubtless a person born deaf,
dumb, and blind, who could be taught to read and write, would not
be considered an idiot. A remarkable instance of such an one may be
found in the person of Laura Bridgman, who has been taught how to
converse and even to write. This young woman was, in the year 1848,
at school at South Boston. Vide Locke on Human Understanding, B. 2
c. 11, 12, 13; Ayliffe s Pand. 234; 4 Com. Dig. 610; 8 Com.
Dig. 644.

3. Idiots are incapable of committing crimes, or entering into
contracts. They cannot of course make a will; but they may acquire
property by descent.
Vide, generally, 1 Dow s Parl. Cas. new series, 392; 3 Bligh s R.
1; 19 Ves. 286, 352, 353; Stock ou the Law of Non Compotes Mentis;
Bouv. Inst. Index, h. t.

Source: Bouviers Law Dictionary 1856 Edition

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