During the eighteenth century English defendants, victims, witnesses, judges, and jurors spoke a language of the mind. With their reputations or lives at stake, men and women presented their complex emotions and passions as grounds for acquittal or mitigation of punishment. Inside the courtroom the language of excuse reshaped crimes and punishments, signalling a shift in the age-old negotiation of mitigation. Outside the courtroom the language of the mind reflected society's preoccupation with questions of sensibility, responsibility, and the self.
- '[Rabin] give[s] weight to abstractions like 'sensibility' as actual forces in the courtroom and in the reform movement.'
Paul Baines, Eighteenth-Century Studies, vol.42, no.1, 2008