Idiot


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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, Sec. 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 on the Law of Non Compotes Mentis; Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t.

References in classic literature ?
But an idiot with equivocal intentions and a pitchfork is as well worth flattering and cajoling as if he were Louis Napoleon.
But he had yet to learn that it is a dreadful thing to make an idiot fond of you, when you yourself are not of an affectionate disposition: especially an idiot with a pitchfork-- obviously a difficult friend to shake off by rough usage.
But David, you perceive, had reckoned without his host, or, to speak more precisely, without his idiot brother--an item of so uncertain and fluctuating a character, that I doubt whether he would not have puzzled the astute heroes of M.
No man but an idiot would pick up that little hammer if he could use a big hammer.
Then he continued, mastering his discomposure: "The words you said were, `No man but an idiot would pick up the small hammer.
Why do these idiots always assume that the only person who hates the wife's lover is the wife's husband?
In this second attempt I had the support of several people to whom I had rendered some service, and I was backed by the members of the Communal Council, for I had appealed to their parsimonious instincts, showing them how much it cost to support the poor wretches, and pointing out how largely they might gain by converting their plots of ground (to which the idiots had no proper title) into allotments which were needed in the township.
There were several families still living there; but though they were little better than idiots, they were, at any rate, free from the taint of cretinism.
The law expressly forbids the attendance at such meetings of women, children, and idiots.
Classed with children and idiots," repeated Irais, gravely nodding her head.
You are telling us in the most unvarnished manner that we are idiots," said Irais.
The suggestion of it was not mental but visual: the actual idiots.