Crime and Its Causes
by William Douglas Morrison
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"The science of criminology is pursued vigorously among the Italians, but this is one of the first English books to make the phenomena of crime the subject of a strictly scientific investigation."—Daily Chronicle.

"The book is an important addition to the Social Science Series. It throws light upon some of the most complex problems with which society has to deal, and incidentally affords much interesting reading."—Manchester Examiner.

"This is a work which, considering its limits and modest pretensions, it is difficult to over praise. It is a calm and thoughtful study by a writer in whom the deliberate determination to look on things as they are has not extinguished a reasoned faith in the possibility of their amelioration. The work is conceived throughout in a genuinely philosophical spirit."—International Journal of Ethics.

"A thoughtful and thought suggesting book—well worthy of consideration by penologists, whether specialists or amateurs."—Annals of the American Academy.

"Mr. Morrison's book is especially valuable, because, without attempting to enforce this or that conclusion, it furnishes the authentic data on which all sound conclusions must be based."—Times.

"Cramful of suggestive facts and solid arguments on the great questions how criminals are made, and how crime is best to be dealt with. Many cherished superstitions and fallacies are exploded in Mr. Morrison's pages."—Star.

First Edition, February 1891.

Second Edition, February 1902.













This volume, as its title indicates, is occupied with an examination of some of the principal causes of crime, and is designed as an introduction to the study of criminal questions in general. In spite of all the attention these questions have hitherto received and are now receiving, crime still remains one of the most perplexing and obstinate of social problems. It is much more formidable than pauperism, and almost as costly. A social system which has to try hundreds of thousands of offenders annually before the criminal courts is in a very imperfect condition; the causes which lead to this state of things deserve careful consideration from all who take an interest in social welfare.

In the following pages I have endeavoured to show that crime is a more complicated phenomenon than is generally supposed. When society will be able to stamp it out is a question it would be extremely hard to answer. If it ever does so, it will not be the work of one generation but of many, and it will not be effected by the application of any single specific.

Punishment alone will never succeed in putting an end to crime. Punishment will and does hold crime to a certain extent in check, but it will never transform the delinquent population into honest citizens, for the simple reason that it can only strike at the full-fledged criminal and not at the causes which have made him so. Economic prosperity, however widely diffused, will not extinguish crime. Many people imagine that all the evils afflicting society spring from want, but this is only partially true. A small number of crimes are probably due to sheer lack of food, but it has to be borne in mind that crime would still remain an evil of enormous magnitude even if there were no such calamities as destitution and distress. As a matter of fact easy circumstances have less influence on conduct than is generally believed; prosperity generates criminal inclinations as well as adversity, and on the whole the rich are just as much addicted to crime as the poor. The progress of civilisation will not destroy crime. Many savage tribes living under the most primitive forms of social life present a far more edifying spectacle of respect for person and property than the most cultivated classes in Europe and America. All that civilisation has hitherto done is to change the form in which crime is perpetrated; in substance it remains the same. Primary Schools will not accomplish much in eliminating crime. The merely intellectual training received in these institutions has little salutary influence upon conduct. Nothing can be mope deplorable than that sectarian bickerings, respecting infinitesimal points in the sanctions of morality, should result in the children of England receiving hardly any moral instruction whatever. Conduct, as the late Mr. Matthew Arnold has so often told us, is three fourths of life. What are we to think of an educational system which officially ignores this; what have we to hope in the way of improvement from a people which consents to its being ignored?

But even a course of systematic instruction in the principles of conduct, no matter by what sanctions these principles are inculcated, will not avail much unless they are to some extent practised in the home. And this will never be the case so long as women are demoralised by the hard conditions of industrial life, and unfitted for the duties of motherhood before beginning to undertake them.

In addition to this, no State will ever get rid of the criminal problem unless its population is composed of healthy and vigorous citizens. Very often crime is but the offspring of degeneracy and disease. A diseased and degenerate population, no matter how favourably circumstanced in other respects, will always produce a plentiful crop of criminals. Stunted and decrepit faculties, whether physical or mental, either vitiate the character, or unfit the combatant for the battle of life. In both cases the result is in general the same, namely, a career of crime.

As to the best method of dealing with the actual criminal, the first thing to be done is to know what sort of a person you are dealing with. He must be carefully studied at first hand. At present too much attention is bestowed on theoretical discussions respecting the various kinds of crime and punishment, while hardly any account is taken of the persons who commit the crime and require the punishment. Yet this is the most important point of all; the other is trivial in comparison with it. If crime is to be dealt with in a rational manner and not on mere a priori grounds, our minds must be enlightened on such questions as the following: What is the Criminal? What are the chief causes which have made him such? How are these causes to be got rid of or neutralised? What is the effect of this or that kind of punishment? These are the momentous problems; in comparison with these, all fine-spun definitions respecting the difference between one crime and another are mere dust in the balance. There can be little doubt that a neglect of those considerations on the part of many magistrates and judges, is at the root of the capricious sentences so often passed upon criminals. The effects of this neglect result in the passing of sentences of too great severity on first offenders and the young; and of too much leniency on hardened and habitual criminals. Leniency, says Grotius, should be exercised with discernment, otherwise it is not a virtue, but a weakness and a scandal.

When imprisonment has to be resorted to, it must be made a genuine punishment if it is to exercise any effect as a deterrent. The moment a prison is made a comfortable place to live in, it becomes useless as a safeguard against the criminal classes. This is a fundamental principle. But punishment, although an essential part of imprisonment, is not its only purpose. Imprisonment should also be a preparation for liberty. If a convicted man is as unfit for social life at the expiration of his sentence as he was at the commencement of it, the prison has only accomplished half its work; it has satisfied the feeling of public vengeance, but it has failed to transform the offender into a useful citizen. How to prepare the offender for liberty is, I admit, a task of supreme difficulty; in some oases, probably, an impossible task. For work of this character what is wanted above all is an enlightened staff. Mere machines are useless; men unacquainted with civil life and its conditions are useless. It is from civil life the prisoner is taken; it is to civil life he has to return, and unless he is under the care of men who have an intimate knowledge of civil life, he will not have the same prospect of being fitted into it when he has once more to face the world.

In the preparation of this volume I have carefully examined the most recent ideas of English and Continental writers (especially the Italians) on the subject of crime. The opinions it contains are based on an experience of fourteen years in Orders most of which have been spent in prison work. In revising the proofs I have received valuable assistance from Mr. J. Morrison.





It is only within the present century, and in some countries it is only within the present generation, that the possibility has arisen of conducting the study of criminal problems on anything approaching an exact and scientific basis. Before the introduction of a system of criminal statistics—a step taken by most peoples within the memory of men still living—it was impossible for civilised communities to ascertain with absolute accuracy whether crime was increasing or decreasing, or what transformation it was passing through in consequence of the social, political, and economic changes constantly taking place in all highly organised societies. It was also equally impossible to appreciate the effect of punishment for good or evil on the criminal population. Justice had little or no data to go upon; prisoners were sentenced in batches to the gallows, to transportation, to the hulks, or to the county gaol, but no inquiry was made as to the result of these punishments on the criminal classes or on the progress of crime. It was deemed sufficient to catch and punish the offender; the more offences seemed to increase—there was no sure method of knowing whether they did increase or not—the more severe the punishment became. Justice worked in the dark, and was surrounded by the terrors of darkness. What followed is easy to imagine; the criminal law of England reached a pitch of unparalleled barbarity, and within living memory laws were on the statute book by which a man might be hanged for stealing property above the value of a shilling.

Had a fairly accurate system of criminal statistics existed, it is very likely that the data contained in them would have reassured the nation and tempered the severity of the law.

Of Criminal Statistics it may be said in the first place, that they act as an annual register for tabulating the amount of danger to which society is exposed by the nefarious operations of lawless persons. By these statistics we are informed of the number of crimes committed during the course of the year so far as they are reported to the police. We are informed of the number of persons brought to trial for the perpetration of these crimes; of the nature of the offences with which incriminated persons are charged, and of the length of sentence imposed on those who are sent to prison. The age, the degree of instruction, and the occupations of prisoners are also tabulated. A record is also kept of the number of times a man has been committed to prison, and of the manner in which he has conducted himself while in confinement.

One important point must be mentioned on which criminal statistics are almost entirely silent. The great sources of crime are the personal, the social, and the economic conditions of the individuals who commit it. Criminal statistics, to be exhaustive, ought to include not only the amount of crime and the degrees of punishment awarded to offenders; these statistics should also, as far as practicable, take cognisance of the sources from which crime undoubtedly springs. In this respect, our information, so far as it comes to us through ordinary channels, is lamentably deficient. It is confined to data respecting the age, sex, and occupation of the offender. These data are very interesting, and very useful, as affording a glimpse of the sources from which the dark river of delinquency takes its rise. But they are too meagre and fragmentary. They require to be completed by the personal and social history of the criminal. Crime is not necessarily a disease, but it resembles disease in this respect, that it will be impossible to wipe it out till an accurate diagnosis has been made of the causes which produce it. To punish crime is all very well; but punishment is not an absolute remedy; its deterrent action is limited, and other methods besides punishment must be adopted if society wishes to gain the mastery over the criminal population. What those methods should be can only be ascertained after the most searching preliminary inquiries into the main factors of crime. It ought, therefore, to be a weighty part of the business of criminal statistics to offer as full information as possible, not only respecting crimes and punishments, but much more respecting criminals. Every criminal has a life history; that history is very frequently the explanation of his sinister career; it ought, therefore, to be tabulated, so that it may be seen how far his descent and his surroundings have contributed to make him what he is. In the case of children sent to Reformatory Schools, the previous history of the child is always tabulated. Enquiries are made and registered respecting the parents of the child; what country they belong to, what sort of character they bear, whether they are honest and sober, whether they have ever been in prison, what wages they earn, and whether the child is legitimate or not. A similar method to the one adopted with Reformatory children ought to be instituted, with suitable modifications, in European prisons and convict establishments. It is, at the present time, being advocated by almost all the most eminent criminal authorities,[1] and more than one scheme has been drawn up to show the scope of its operation.

[1] See Appendix I.

In addition to the service which a complete personal and family record of convicted prisoners would render as to the causes of crime, such a record would be of immense advantage to the judges. At the present time a judge is only made acquainted with the previous convictions of a prisoner; he knows nothing more about him except through the evidence which is sometimes adduced as to character. An accurate record of the prisoner's past would enable the judge to see at once with what sort of offender he was dealing, and might, perhaps, help to put a stop to the unequal and capricious sentences which, not infrequently, disgrace the name of justice.[2]

[2] In his interesting work, "Die Beziehungen zwischen Geistesstoerung und Verbrechen," Dr. Sander shows that out of a hundred insane persons brought up for trial, the judges only discovered the mental state of from twenty-six to twenty-eight per cent. of them.

Passing from this point, we shall now inquire into the possibility of establishing some system of International Statistics, whereby the volume of crime in one country may be compared with the volume of crime in another. At the present time it is extremely difficult to institute any such comparison, and it is questionable if it can ever be properly done. In no two countries is the criminal law the same, and an act which is perfectly harmless when committed in one part of Europe, is considered in another as a contravention of the law. Each country has also a nomenclature of crime and methods of criminal procedure peculiar to itself. In each country the police are organised on a different principle, and act in the execution of their duty on a different code of rules. In all cases, for instance, of mendicancy, drunkenness, brawling, and disorder, the initiative rests practically with the police, and it depends almost entirely on the instructions issued to the police whether such offences shall figure largely or not in the statistics of crime. A proof of this fact may be seen in the Report of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, for the year 1888. In the year 1886, the number of persons convicted in the Metropolis of "Annoying male persons for the purpose of prostitution" was 3,233; in 1888, the number was only 1,475. This enormous decrease in the course of two years is not due to a diminution of the offence, but to a change in the attitude of the police. Again, in the year 1887, the Metropolitan police arrested 4,556 persons under the provisions of the Vagrant and Poor Law Acts; but in the year 1888, the number arrested by the same body under the same acts amounted to 7,052. It is perfectly obvious that this vast increase of apprehensions was not owing to a corresponding increase in the number of rogues, beggars, and vagrants; it was principally owing to the increased stringency with which the Metropolitan police carried out the provisions of the Vagrant and Poor Law Acts. An absolute proof of the correctness of this statement is the fact that throughout the whole of England there was a decrease in the number of persons proceeded against in accordance with these acts. These examples will suffice to show what an immense power the police have in regulating the volume of certain classes of offences. In some countries they are called upon to exercise this power in the direction of stringency; in other countries it is exercised in the direction of leniency; and in the same country its exercise, as we have just seen, varies according to the views of whoever, for the time being, happens to have a voice in controlling the action of the police. In these circumstances it is obviously impossible to draw any accurate comparison between the lighter kinds of offences in one country and the same class of offences in another.

In the case of the more serious offences against person and property, the initiative of putting the law in motion rests chiefly with the injured individual. The action of the individual in this respect depends to a large extent on the customs of the country. In some countries the injured person, instead of putting the law in motion against an offender, takes the matter in his own hands, and administers the wild justice of revenge. Great differences of opinion also exist among different nations as to the gravity of certain offences. Among some peoples there is a far greater reluctance than there is among others to appeal to the law. Murder is perhaps the only crime on which there exists a fair consensus of opinion among civilised communities; and even with regard to this offence it is impossible to overcome all the judicial and statistical difficulties which stand in the way of an international comparison.

In spite, however, of the fact that the amount of crime committed in civilised countries cannot be subjected to exact comparison, there are various points on which the international statistics of crime are able to render valuable service. It is important, for instance, to see in what relation crime in different communities stands to age, sex, climate, temperature, race, education, religion, occupation, home and social surroundings. If we find, for example, an abnormal development of crime taking place in a given country at a certain period of life, or in certain social circumstances, and if we do not discover the same abnormal development taking place in other countries at a similar period of life, or in a similar social stratum, we ought at once to come to the conclusion that there is some extraordinary cause at work peculiar to the country which is producing an unusually high total of crime. If, on the other hand, we find that certain kinds of crime are increasing or decreasing in all countries at the same time, we may be perfectly sure that the increase or decrease is brought about by the same set of causes. And whether those causes are war, political movements, commercial prosperity, or depression, the community which first escapes from them will also be the first to show it in the annual statistics of crime. In these and many other ways international statistics are of the greatest utility.

From what has already been said as to the immense difficulty of comparing the criminal statistics of various countries, it follows as a matter of course that the figures contained in them cannot be used as a means of ascertaining the position which belongs to each nation respectively in the scale of morality. Nor is the moral progress of a nation to be measured solely by an apparent decay of crime. On the contrary, an increase in the amount of crime may be the direct result of a moral advance in the average sentiments of the community. The passing of the Elementary Education Act of 1870 and of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885 have added considerably to the number of persons brought before the criminal courts and eventually committed to prison. But an increase of the prison population due to these causes is no proof that the country is deteriorating morally. It will be regarded by many persons as a proof that the country has improved, for it is now demanding a higher standard of conduct from the ordinary citizen than it demanded twenty years ago.[3]

[3] Before the passing of the Elementary Education Act, no one was tried for not sending his child to school; it was not a legal offence; in 1888-9 no less than 80,519 persons were tried under this Act, in England and Wales.

On the other hand, a decrease in the official statistics of crime may be a proof that the moral sentiments of a nation are degenerating. It may be a proof that the laws are ceasing to be an effective protection to the citizen, and that society is falling a victim to the forces of anarchy and crime. It is, therefore, impossible by looking only at the bare figures contained in criminal statistics, to say whether a community is growing better or worse. Before any conclusions can be formed on these matters, either one way or the other, we must go behind the figures, and look at them in the light of the social, political and industrial developments taking place in the society to which these figures refer.

In this connection, it may not be amiss to point out that the present tendency of legislation is bound to produce more crime. All law is by its nature coercive, but so long as the coercion is confined within a limited area, or can only come into operation at rare intervals, it produces comparatively little effect on the whole volume of crime. When, however, a law is passed affecting every member of the community every day of his life, such a law is certain to increase the population of our gaols. A marked characteristic of the present time is that legislative assemblies are becoming more and more inclined to pass such laws; so long as this is the case it is vain to hope for a decrease in the annual amount of crime. Whether these new coercive laws are beneficial or the reverse is a matter which it does not at this moment concern me to discuss; what I am anxious to point out is, that the more they are multiplied, the greater will be the number of persons annually committed to prison. In initiating legislation of a far-reaching coercive character, politicians should remember far more than they do at present that the effect of these Acts of Parliament will be to fill the gaols, and to put the prison taint upon a greater number of the population. This is a responsibility which no body of men ought lightly to incur, and in considering the advantages to be derived from some new legislative enactment, an equal amount of consideration should be bestowed upon the fact that the new enactment will also be the means of providing a fresh recruiting ground for the permanent army of crime.

A man, for instance, goes to prison for contravening some municipal bye-law; he comes out of it the friend and associate of habitual criminals; and the ultimate result of the bye-law is to transform a comparatively harmless member of society into a dangerous thief or house-breaker. One person of this character is a greater menace to society than a hundred offenders against municipal regulations, and the present system of law-making undoubtedly helps to multiply this class of men. One of the leading principles of all wise legislation should be to keep the population out of gaol; but the direct result of many recent enactments, both in this country and abroad, is to drive them into it; and it may be taken as an axiom that the more the functions of Government are extended, the greater will be the amount of crime.

These remarks lead me to approach the question of what is called "the movement" of crime. Is its total volume increasing or decreasing in the principal civilised countries of the world? On this point there is some diversity of view, but most of the principal authorities in Europe and America are emphatically of opinion that crime is on the increase. In the United States, we are told by Mr. D.A. Wells,[4] and by Mr. Howard Wines, an eminent specialist in criminal matters, that crime is steadily increasing, and it is increasing faster than the growth of the population.

[4] Recent Economic Changes, p. 345.

Nearly all the chief statisticians abroad tell the same tale with respect to the growth of crime on the Continent. Dr. Mischler of Vienna, and Professor von Liszt of Marburg draw a deplorable picture of the increase of crime in Germany. Professor von Liszt, in a recent article,[5] says, that fifteen million persons have been convicted by the German criminal courts within the last ten years; and, according to him, the outlook for the future is sombre in the last degree. In France, the criminal problem is just as formidable and perplexing as it is in Germany; M. Henri Joly estimates that crime has increased in the former country 133 per cent. within the last half century, and is still steadily rising. Taking Victoria as a typical Australasian colony, we find that even in the Antipodes, which are not vexed to the same extent as Europe with social and economic difficulties, crime is persistently raising its head, and although it does not increase quite as rapidly as the population, it is nevertheless a more menacing danger among the Victorian colonists than it is at home.[6]

[5] Zeitschrift fuer die gesamte Strafrechtswissenschaft ix. 472, sg.

[6] See Statistical Register for Victoria, Part viii.

Is England an exception to the rest of the world with respect to crime? Many people are of opinion that it is, and the idea is at present diligently fostered on the platform and in the press that we have at last found out the secret of dealing successfully with the criminal population. As far as I can ascertain, this belief is based upon the statement that the daily average of persons in prison is constantly going down. Inasmuch, as there was a daily average of over 20,000 persons in prison in 1878, and a daily average of about 15,000 in 1888, many people immediately jump at the conclusion that crime is diminishing. But the daily average is no criterion whatever of the rise and fall of crime. Calculated on the principle of daily average, twelve men sentenced to prison for one month each, will not figure so largely in criminal statistics as one man sentenced to a term of eighteen months. The daily average, in other words, depends upon the length of sentence prisoners receive, and not upon the number of persons committed to prison, or upon the number of crimes committed during the year. Let us look then at the number of persons committed to Local Prisons, and we shall be in a position to judge if crime is decreasing in England or not. We shall go back twenty years and take the quinquennial totals as they are recorded in the judicial statistics:—

Total of the 5 years, 1868 to 1872, 774,667. Total of the 5 years, 1873 to 1877, 866,041. Total of the 5 years, 1884 to 1888, 898,486.

If statistics are to be allowed any weight at all, these figures incontestably mean that the total volume of crime is on the increase in England as well as everywhere else. It is fallacious to suppose that the authorities here are gaining the mastery over the delinquent population. Such a supposition is at once refuted by the statistics which have just been tabulated, and these are the only statistics which can be implicitly relied upon for testing the position of the country with regard to crime.

Seeing, then, that the total amount of crime is regularly growing, how is the decrease in the daily average of persons in prison to be accounted for?

This decrease may be accounted for in two ways. It may be shown that although the number of people committed to prison is on the increase, the nature of the offences for which these people are convicted is not so grave. Or, in the second place, it may be shown that, although the crimes committed now are equally serious with those committed twenty years ago, the magistrates and judges are adopting a more lenient line of action, and are inflicting shorter sentences after a conviction. Let us for a moment consider the proposition that crime is not so grave now as it was twenty years ago. In order to arrive at a fairly accurate conclusion on this matter, we have only to look at the number of offences of a serious nature reported to the police. Comparing the number of cases of murder, attempts to murder, manslaughter, shooting at, stabbing and wounding, and adding to these offences the crimes of burglary, housebreaking, robbery, and arson—comparing all these cases reported to the police for the five years 1870-1874, with offences of a like character reported in the five years 1884-1888, we find that the proportion of grave offences to the population was, in many cases, as great in the latter period as in the former.[7] This shows clearly that crime, while it is increasing in extent, is not materially decreasing in seriousness; and the chief reason the prison population exhibits a smaller daily average is to be found in the fact that judges are now pronouncing shorter sentences than was the custom twenty years ago. We are not left in the dark upon this point; the judges themselves frequently inform the public that they have taken to shortening the terms of imprisonment. The extent to which sentences have been shortened within the last twenty years can easily be ascertained by comparing the committals to prison and the daily average of the quinquenniad 1868-72 with the committals and the daily average of the quinquenniad 1884-88. A comparison between these two periods shows that the length of imprisonment has decreased twenty-six per cent. In other words, whereas a man used to receive a sentence of twelve months' imprisonment, he now receives a sentence of nine months; and whereas he used to get a sentence of one month, he now gets twenty-one days. If it he a serious offence, or if the criminal be a habitual offender, he now receives eighteen months' imprisonment, whereas he used to receive five years' penal servitude. As far as most judges and stipendiary magistrates are concerned, sentences of imprisonment have decreased in recent years more than twenty-six per cent.; and if there was a corresponding movement on the part of Chairmen of Quarter Sessions, the average decrease in the length of sentences would amount to fifty per cent. But it is a notorious fact that amateur judges are, with few exceptions, more inclined to pronounce heavy sentences than professional men.


Murder. Attempts to Murder. Manslaughter 1870-74 1 to 196,946 1 to 441,158 1 to 92,756 1884-88 1 to 168,897 1 to 418,923 1 to 116,463

Shooting, Stabbing, &c. Burglary. Housebreaking. 1870-74 1 to 35,033 1 to 10,188 1 to 17,538 1884-88 1 to 38,007 1 to 7,892 1 to 11,911

Robbery. Arson. 1870-74 1 to 43,247 1 to 54,075 1884-88 1 to 70,767 1 to 77,018

This table shows that since 1870-74 there has been an increase in murder, attempts to murder, burglary, and housebreaking, and a decrease in manslaughter, robbery, and arson. The decrease in shooting, stabbing, wounding, &c., is very small. (Cf. Judicial Statistics for 1874 and 1888, p. xvi.)

We have now arrived at the conclusion that crime is just as serious in its character as it was twenty years ago, and that it is growing in dimensions year by year; the next point to be considered is, the relation in which crime stands to the population. Crime may be increasing, but the population may be multiplying faster than the growth of crime. Is this the condition of things in England at the present day? We have seen that the criminal classes are increasing much faster than the growth of population in France and the United States. Is England in a better position in this respect than these two countries? At the present time there is one conviction to about every fifty inhabitants, and the proportion of convictions to the population was very much the same twenty years ago. If we remember the immense development that has taken place in the industrial school system within the last twenty years—a development that has undoubtedly had a great deal to do with keeping down crime—we arrive at the conclusion that, notwithstanding the beneficent effects of Industrial Schools, the criminal classes in this country still keep pace with the annual growth of population. If we had no Industrial and Reformatory institutions for the detention of criminal and quasi-criminal offenders among the young, there can be no doubt that England, as well as other countries, would have to make the lamentable admission that crime was not only increasing in her midst, but that it was increasing faster than the growth of population. The number of juveniles in these institutions has more than trebled since 1868,[8] and it is unquestionable that if these youthful offenders were not confined there, a large proportion of them would immediately begin to swell the ranks of crime. That crime in England is not making more rapid strides than the growth of population, is almost entirely to be attributed to the action of these schools.

[8] See Appendix II.

We shall now look at another aspect of the criminal question, and that is its cost. Crime is not merely a danger to the community; it is likewise a vast expense; and there is no country in Europe where it does not constitute a tremendous drain upon the national resources. Owing to the federal system of government in America, it is almost impossible to estimate how much is spent in the prevention and punishment of crime in the United States, but Mr. Wines calculates that the police force alone costs the country fifteen million dollars annually.[9] In the United Kingdom the cost of criminal justice and administration is continually on the increase, and it has never been so high as it is at the present time. In the Estimates for the year 1891 the cost of Prisons and of the Asylum for criminal lunatics falls little short of a million sterling. Reformatory and Industrial Schools for juvenile offenders cost considerably over half-a-million, and the expenditure on the Police force is over five and a half millions annually. Add to these figures the cost of criminal prosecutions, the salaries of stipendiary and other paid magistrates, a portion of the salaries of judges, and all other expenses connected with the trial and prosecution of delinquents, and an annual total of expenditure is reached for the United Kingdom of more than seven and a half millions sterling. In addition to this enormous sum, it has also to he remembered that a great loss of property is annually entailed on the inhabitants of the three kingdoms by the depredations of the criminal classes. The exact amount of this loss it is impossible to estimate, but, according to the figures in the police reports, it cannot fall short of a million sterling per annum.

[9] American Prisons, 1888.

These formidable figures afford ample food for reflection. Apart from its danger to the community, the annual loss of money which the existence of crime entails is a most serious consideration. It is equal to a tenth of the national expenditure, and every few years amounts to as much as the cost of a big European war. It is tempting to speculate on the admirable uses to which the capital consumed by crime might be devoted, if it were free for beneficent purposes. How easy it would be for many a scheme, which is now in the region of dreamland, to be immediately realised. Unhappily, it is almost as vain to look forward to the abolition of crime as it is to look forward to the cessation of war. At the present moment the latter event, however improbable, is more likely to happen than the former. War has ceased to be a normal condition of things in the comity of nations; it has become a transitory incident; but crime, which means war within the nation, is still far from being a passing incident; on the contrary, a conflict between the forces of moral order and social anarchy is going on continually; and, at present, there is not the faintest prospect of its coming to an end.

What is the cause of this state of warfare within society? Which of the combatants is to blame? Or is the blame to be laid equally on the shoulders of both? In other words, are the conditions in which men live together in society of such a nature that crime is certain to flow from them; and is crime simply a reaction against the iniquity of existing social arrangements? Or, on the other hand, does crime spring from the individual and his cosmical surroundings; and is it the product of forces over which society has little or no control? These are questions which cannot be answered off-hand, they involve considerations of a most complicated character, and it is only after a careful examination of all the factors responsible for crime that a true solution can possibly be arrived at. These factors are divisible into three great categories—cosmical, social, and individual.[10] The cosmical factors of crime are climate and the variations of temperature; the social factors are the political, economic and moral conditions in the midst of which man lives as a member of society; the individual factors are a class of attributes inherent in the individual, such as descent, sex, age, bodily and mental characteristics. These factors, it will be seen, can easily be reduced to two, the organism and its environment; but it will be more convenient to consider them under the three-fold division which has just been mentioned. Before proceeding to do so, it may be as well to remark that in each case the several factors operate with different degrees of intensity. It is often extremely difficult to disentangle them; and the more complex the society is in which a crime takes place, the greater is the combination and intricacy of the causes leading up to it.

[10] Cf. E. Ferri. I Nuovi Orizzonti del Diritto e della Procedura Penale.



Man's existence depends upon physical surroundings; these surroundings have exercised an immense influence in modifying his organism, in shaping his social development, in moulding his character. To enumerate all the external factors operating upon individual and social life is outside our present purpose, but they may be briefly summed up as climate, moisture, soil, the configuration of the earth's surface, and the nature of its products. These natural phenomena, either singly or in varying degrees of combination, have unquestionably played a most prominent part in making the different races of mankind what they at present are. We have only to look at the low type of life exhibited by the primitive inhabitants of certain inhospitable regions of the globe to see how profoundly the physical structure of man is affected by his natural surroundings. Even a comparatively slight difference of environment is not without effect upon the population subjected to its influence. According to M. de Quatrefages, the bodily structure of the English race has been distinctly modified by residence in the United States of America. It is not more than two and a half centuries since Englishmen began to emigrate in any considerable numbers to the American Continent, but in that comparatively short period the Anglo-American has ceased to resemble his ancestors in physical appearance. Alterations have taken place in the skin, the hair, the neck, and the head; the lower jaw has become bigger; the bones of the arms and legs have lengthened, and the American of to-day requires a different kind of glove from the Englishman. Structural changes of a similar character have taken place in the negroes transplanted to America. M. Elisee Reclus considers that in a century and a half they have traversed a good quarter of the distance which separates them from the whites. Another important point, as showing the influence of habitat upon race, is the fact that the modifications of human structure resulting from residence in America are in the direction of assimilating the European type to that of the red man.[11] In short, it may be taken as a well-established principle that external nature destroys all organisms that cannot adapt themselves to its action, and physiologically modifies all organisms that can.

[11] The various types of Jews also afford a striking instance of the effect of natural surroundings on bodily structure.

The social condition of mankind is also profoundly affected by climatic and other external circumstances. The intense cold of the Arctic and Antarctic regions is fatal to anything approaching a developed form of civilisation. Intense heat, on the other hand, although not incompatible with a certain degree of progress, is unfavourable to its permanence;[12] the extinct societies of the tropics, such as Cambodia, Mexico and Peru, affording instances of the operation of this law. It is impossible for man to get beyond the nomad state in the vast deserts of Northern Africa; and the extreme moisture of the atmosphere in other portions of the same continent puts an effectual check on anything like social advance. In some parts of the world social development has been hindered by external circumstances of another character, such as the want of wood, the scarcity of animals, the absence of edible fruits. In fact, it is only within a comparatively temperate zone that human society has been able permanently to assume highly complex forms and to build itself up on an extensive scale. In this zone, climate, while favouring man up to a certain point, has at the same time compelled him to eat bread in the sweat of his brow. It has compelled him to enter into conflict with natural obstacles, the result of which has been to call forth his powers of industry, of energy, of self-reliance, and to sharpen his intellectual faculties generally. In addition to exercising and strengthening these personal attributes, the climatic influences of what has been called the zone of civilisation have brought man's social characteristics more fully and elaborately into play. The nature of these influences has forced him to cooperate more or less closely with his fellows; while each step in the path of cooperation has involved him in another of a more complex kind. The growth of social cooperation is not necessarily accompanied by a corresponding development of the moral sentiments; increased cooperation in some cases involving a distinct ethical loss. In many directions, however, highly organised societies tend to evolve loftier types of morality; and it is in harmony with the facts to say that the highest moral types are not to be found where nature does most or where it does least in the way of providing food and shelter for man.

[12] Ratzel. Voelkerkunde, i. 20.

It is also interesting to observe the effect which climate, through the agency of religion, has had upon human conduct. One of the main factors in the origin of religion is the feeling of dependence upon nature so strongly manifested in all primitive forms of faith. The outcome of this feeling of dependence was to exalt the forces of nature into divinities, and man's conception of these divinities, shaped as it was by the attitude of nature around him, had an incalculable influence on his life and actions. The remains of this influence are still visible in the aesthetic effects which the forces and operations of nature produce on civilised man; in all other respects it has to a large extent passed away.[13]

[13] Darwin says that in elaborating his theory of Natural Selection he attributed too little to external surroundings. Life and Letters.

We have now touched upon most of the ways in which external surroundings have had a hand in shaping the course of human life in the past; it will be our next business to inquire whether these surroundings have any effect upon human conduct at the present day, and especially upon those manifestations of conduct which are known as crimes. That they still have an effect is an opinion which has long been entertained.

Going back to the ancient Greeks, we find Hippocrates holding that all regions liable to violent changes of climate produced men of fierce, impetuous and stubborn disposition. "In approaching southern countries," says Montesquieu, "one would believe that morality was being left behind; more ardent passions multiply crimes; each tries to gain from others all the advantages which can minister to these passions." Buckle believes that the interruption of work caused by instability of climate leads to instability of character. In analysing the contents of French statistics, Quetelet,[14] while admitting that other causes may neutralise the action of climate, proceeds to say that the "number of crimes against property relatively to the number of crimes against the person increases considerably as we advance towards the north." Another eminent student of French criminal statistics, M. Tarde, comes to very much the same conclusions as Quetelet; he admits that a high temperature does exercise an indirect influence on the criminal passions. But the most exhaustive investigations in this problem have been undertaken in Italy, by Signor Enrico Ferri. After a thorough examination of French judicial statistics for a series of years, Ferri arrives at the conclusion that a maximum of crimes against the person is reached in the hot months, while, on the other hand, crimes against property come to a climax in the winter.[15]

[14] Physique Sociale, ii. 282.

[15] Zeitschrift fuer Strafrechtswissenschaft, ii., 486.

In testing these opinions respecting the influence of climate upon crime, we are obliged, to some extent, to have recourse to international statistics. But these statistics, as has already been pointed out, owing to the diversity of customs, laws, criminal procedure, and so on, do not easily admit of comparison. So much is this the case that we shall not make the attempt as far as these statistics have reference to crimes against property. In this field no satisfactory result can, at present be obtained. The same remark holds good in relation to all offences against the person, with the exception of homicide. This, undoubtedly, in an important exception; and it arises from the fact that there is a greater consensus of opinion among civilised communities respecting the gravity of homicide than exists with regard to any other form of crime. Murder in all its degrees is a crime which immediately causes a profound commotion; it is easy to recognise; it is more likely than any other offence to come to the ears of the authorities. For these reasons this crime lends itself most readily to international comparison; nevertheless, differences of judicial procedure, legal nomenclature, and different methods of classification stand in the way of making the comparison absolutely accurate. These differences, however, are not so great as to render comparison impossible or worthless; on the contrary, the results of such a comparison are of exceptional value, and go a long way to determine the question of the effect of climate upon crimes of blood.

Assuming, then, with these reservations, that such a comparison can be instituted, let us see to what extent murder, in the widest sense of the word, including wilful murder, manslaughter, and infanticide, prevails in the various countries of Europe. In ordinary circumstances this task would be a laborious one, entailing a minute and careful examination of the criminal statistics and procedure of many nations. Fortunately, it has recently been accomplished by Dr. Bosco in an admirable monograph communicated in the first instance to the Journal of the International Statistical Institute, but now published in a separate form. Bosco's figures have all been taken from official sources, and may, therefore, be accepted as accurate; but, before tabulating-them, it may be useful to make an extract from the explanatory note by which they are accompanied. "As the composition of the population, with respect to age, varies in different countries, and as it has to be remembered that all the population under ten years of age has no share, at least under normal conditions, in the crime of murder, it has seemed to me a more exact method to calculate the proportion of murders to the inhabitants who are over ten years of age, than to include the total population. For those States where a census has been recently taken, such, for instance, as France and Germany, the results of that census have been used; that is to say, the French census of May, 1886, and the German census of December, 1885. For the other States the population has been calculated (adding the excess of births over deaths to the results of the last census) to the end of the intermediate year for each period of years to which the information relates; that is to say, to the end of 1883 for Belgium, and to the end of 1884 for Austria, Hungary, Spain, England, Scotland and Ireland. As the information respecting Italy refers to 1887 only, the population has been estimated up to the end of that year. The division of the population according to age (above and below ten) has been obtained by means of proportional calculations based on the results of the census for each State. In the case of France and Germany, however, it has been taken directly from the census returns."[16]

Homicides of all kinds in the following European States:—

——————————————————————————————————- Tried. Convicted. Population Annual Per Annual Per Countries. over ten. Years. average 100,000 average 100,000 inhabitants. inhabitants. ——————————————————————————————————- Italy 23,408,277 1887 3,606 15.40 2,805 11.98 Austria 17,199,237 1883-6 689 4.01 499 2.90 France 31,044,370 1882-6 847 2.73 580 1.87 Belgium 4,377,813 1881-5 132 3.02 101 2.31 England 19,898,053 1882-6 318 1.60 151 0.76 Ireland 3,854,588 1882-6 129 3.35 54 1.40 Scotland 2,841,941 1882-6 60 2.11 21 0.74 Spain 13,300,839 1883-6 1,584 11.91 1,085 8.18 Hungary 10,821,558 1882-6 625 5.78 Holland 3,172,464 1882-6 35 1.10 28 0.88 Germany 35,278,742 1882-6 567 1.61 476 1.35 ——————————————————————————————————-

[16] Gli omicidii in alcuni stati d'Europa. Appunti di statistica comparata del Dr A. Bosco, 1889.

What is the import of these statistics? We perceive at once that Italy, Spain and Hungary head the list in the proportion of murders to the population. In Italy, out of every 100,000 persons over ten years of age, eleven in round numbers are annually convicted of murder in one or other of its forms; in Spain eight are convicted of the same offence, and in Hungary five are convicted. These three countries are conspicuously ahead of all the others to which our table refers. Austria and Belgium follow at a long distance with two convictions in round numbers to every 100,000 inhabitants over ten. France, Ireland and Germany come next with one conviction and a considerable fraction to every 100,000 persons over ten; England, Scotland and Holland stand at the bottom of the list with between seven and eight persons convicted of murder to every one million of inhabitants over ten.

In order to understand the full meaning of these figures we must take one more stop and compare the numbers convicted with the numbers tried. In some countries very few convictions may take place in proportion to the number accused, while in other countries the proportion may be very considerable. In other words, in order to arrive at an approximate estimate of the amount of murders perpetrated in a country, we must consider how many cases of murder have been tried in the course of the year. It very seldom happens that a person is tried for this offence when no murder has been committed; and it may, therefore, be assumed that the crime has taken place when a man haw to stand his trial for it. Estimating then the prevalence of murder in the various countries by trials, rather than convictions, it will be found that Germany, with a much larger percentage of convictions than England, has just as few cases of murder for trial. And the reason the number of convictions, as between the two nations, differs, arises from the fact that a prisoner's chance of acquittal in England is a hundred per cent. greater than it is in Germany. It is not, therefore, accurate to assume that a greater number of murders are committed in Germany than in England because a greater number of persons are annually convicted of this crime; all that these convictions absolutely prove is, that the machinery of the criminal law is more effective in the one country than in the other. To take another instance, more persons are annually tried for murder in Ireland than in France; but more cases of conviction are recorded in France than in Ireland. These contrasts show that, while the French are less addicted to this grave offence than the Irish, they are more anxious to secure its detection, and that a greater body of public opinion is on the side of law in France than in Ireland. All these instances (and more could easily be added to them) are intended to call attention to the importance of looking at the number of persons tried, as well as the percentage of persons convicted, if we desire to form an accurate estimate of the comparative prevalence of crime.

While thus showing that the number of trials for murder is the best test of the prevalence of this offence, it is not meant that the test is in all respects indisputable. At most it is merely approximate. One obstacle in the way of its entire accuracy consists in the circumstance that the proportion of persons tried, as compared with the amount of crime committed, is in no two countries precisely the same. In France, for instance, more murders are perpetrated, for which no one is ultimately tried, than in Italy or in England; that is to say, a murderer runs more risk of being placed in the dock in this country than in France. But the difference between the two countries is again to a great extent adjusted by the fact that once a man is placed in the dock in France he has far less chance of being acquitted than if he were tried according to English law. On the whole, therefore, it may be assumed that the international statistics of trials, corrected when necessary by the international statistics of convictions, present a tolerably accurate idea of the extent to which the crime of murder prevails among the nationalities of Europe. In any case these figures will go some way towards helping us to see whether climatic conditions have any influence upon the amount of crime. This we shall now inquire into.

On looking at the isotherms for the year it will be observed that the average temperature of Italy and Spain is ten degrees higher than the average temperature of England. On the other hand, the average temperature of Hungary is very much the same as the average temperature of this country; but Hungary is at the same time exposed to much greater extremes of climate than England. In winter it is nearly ten degrees colder than England, while in summer it is as hot as Spain. The advocates of the direct effect of climate upon crime contend that account must be taken not merely of the degree of temperature, but also of the variations of temperature to which a region is exposed. According to this theory one of the principal reasons the crime of murder is, at least, fourfold higher in Hungary than in England, is to be found in the violent oscillations of temperature in Hungary as compared with England. In Italy murders are, at least, ten times as numerous as in England; in Spain they are seven times as numerous; the chief cause of this condition of things is said to be the serious difference of temperature. In the United States of America there are more crimes of blood in the South than in the North; the main explanation of this difference is said to be that the climate of the South is much hotter than the climate of the North.

In opposition to this theory of the intimate relation between temperature and crime, it may be urged that the greater prevalence of crimes of blood in hot latitudes is a mere coincidence and not a causal connection. This is the view taken by Dr. Mischler in Baron von Holtzendorff's "Handbuch des Gefaengnisswesens." He says the real reason crimes of blood are more common in the South of Europe than in the North is to be attributed to the more backward state of civilisation in the South, and to the wild and mountainous character of the country. To the latter part of this argument it is easy to reply that Scotland is quite as mountainous as Italy, and yet its inhabitants are far less addicted to crimes against the person. But it is more civilised, for, as M. Tarde ingeniously contends, the bent of civilisation at present is to travel northward. Admitting for a moment that Scotland is more civilised than Spain or Italy, all savage tribes, on the other hand, are confessedly less advanced in the arts of life than these two peninsulas. But, for all that, many of these savage peoples are much less criminal. "I have lived," says Mr. Russell Wallace, "with communities of savages in South America and in the East who have no laws or law courts, but the public opinion of the village freely expressed. Each man scrupulously respects the rights of his fellows, and any infraction of these rights rarely or never takes place." Mr. Herbert Spencer also quotes innumerable instances of the kindness, mildness, honesty, and respect for person and property of uncivilised peoples. M. de Quatrefages, in summing up the ethical characteristics of the various races of mankind, comes to the conclusion that from a moral point of view the white man is hardly any better than the black. Civilisation so far has unfortunately generated almost as many vices as it has virtues, and he is a bold man who will say that its growth has diminished the amount of crime. It is very difficult then to accept the view that the frequency of murder in Spain and Italy is entirely due to a lack of civilisation.

Nor can it be said to be entirely due to economic distress. A condition of social misery has undoubtedly something to do with the production of crime. In countries where there is much wealth side by side with much misery, as in France and England, adverse social circumstances drive a certain portion of the community into criminal courses. But where this great inequality of social conditions does not exist—where all are poor as in Ireland or Italy—poverty alone is not a weighty factor in ordinary crime. In Ireland, for example, there in almost as much poverty as exists in Italy, and if the amount of crime were determined by economic circumstances alone, Ireland ought to have as black a record as her southern sister. Instead of that she is on the whole as free from crime as the most prosperous countries of Europe. In the face of these facts it is impossible to say that the high rate of crime in Italy and Spain is to be wholly accounted for by the pressure of economic adversity.

Will not difference of race suffice to account for it? Is it not the case that some races are inherently more prone to crime than others? In India, for instance, where the great mass of the population is singularly law-abiding, a portion of the aboriginal inhabitants have from time immemorial lived by plunder and crime. "When a man tells you," says an official report, quoted by Sir John Strachey, "that he is a Badhak, or a Kanjar, or a Sonoria, he tells you what few Europeans ever thoroughly realise, that he, an offender against the law, has been so from the beginning and will be so to the end; that reform is impossible, for it is his trade, his caste—I may almost say his religion—to commit crime." It is not poverty which makes many of these predatory races criminals. Speaking of the Mina tribe inhabiting one of the frontier districts of the Punjab, Sir John Strachey says: "Their sole occupation is, and always has been, plunder in the native States and in distant parts of British India; they give no trouble at home, and, judging from criminal statistics, it would be supposed that they were an honest community. They live amid abundance, in substantial houses with numerous cattle, fine clothes and jewels, and fleet camels to carry off their plunder." Special laws have been made for dealing with these tribes; a register of their numbers is kept; they can be compelled to live within certain local limits, but in spite of these coercive measures crime is not suppressed, and "a long time must elapse before we see the end of the criminal tribes of India."

Coming back to European peoples, it is worthy of note that both Hungary and Finland are inhabited by the same race. These two countries are separated by about fifteen degrees of latitude, but in the matter of murder the people of Finland are much more nearly allied to the Hungarians than to their immediate neighbours, the Swedes and Norwegians. The Finns commit about twice as many murders in proportion to the population as the Teutons of Scandinavia, but only about half as many as the Hungarians; and it is not improbable to suppose that while the effect of race makes them more murderous than the Scandinavians, the effect of climate makes them less murderous than the inhabitants of Hungary.

Before bringing forward any additional material on one side or the other, let us pause for a moment to consider the results which have just been obtained as to the effect of race as compared with climate upon crime. In India we have found an Aryan and a non-Aryan population living together under the same climatic influences, and very much the same social conditions, and we have seen that the Aborigines are more criminally disposed than the Aryan invaders. Again we have a Mongolian race living in the far North of Europe, and we find that they show a larger percentage of homicidal crime than the Teutonic inhabitants who live in the same latitudes. In Hungary, where the Mongoloid type is once more met with, the same facts are substantially reproduced; this type is more homicidal than the Austrian Teutons living under a similar climate. While these facts point to the conclusion that race has apparently some influence on the amount of crime, they fail to show that race characteristics alone are sufficient to explain the differences in criminality between the same peoples when settled in different quarters of the globe. The Mongoloid type in Finland is less criminal than the same type in Hungary, and the Teutonic type in Scandinavia is less murderously disposed than the same type in the empire of Austria. It has also been pointed out that the Anglo-American of the Northern States is more law abiding than his brother by race in the South, while both are more murderous than the inhabitants of the United Kingdom; where extremes of climate are not so great.

With these facts before us we shall now institute another comparison between two widely separated branches of the Anglo-Saxon race, namely, the colonists of Australia and the people of the motherland. Of the Australian colonists it is not incorrect to say that they are, on the whole, the pick of the home population. It is perfectly true that a certain proportion of the ne'er-do-wells have emigrated to Australia, and some of them, no doubt, help to swell the normal criminal population of the colonies. But, on the other hand, Australia has this advantage, that the average colonist who seeks a home beyond our shores is generally a superior man to the average citizen who remains at home; he is more steady, more enterprising, more industrious. In this way the balance is adjusted in favour of the colonies. It is a great deal more than redressed if the superior, social, and economic conditions, under which the colonists live, are also placed in the scale. In his "Problems of Greater Britain," Sir Charles Dilke has shown, with admirable clearness, what immense advantages are enjoyed by the working population of Australia as compared with the same class at home; so much is this the case that the Australian colonies have been not inaptly called the paradise of the working man. Here then is an excellent opportunity for comparing the effects of climate upon crime. In Australia we have a people of the same race as ourselves, better off economically, living under essentially the same laws and governed in practically the same spirit. Almost the only difference between the inhabitants of the United Kingdom and the communities of Australia is a difference of climate. Does this difference manifest itself in the statistics of crime? In order to test the matter we shall exclude the colony of New South Wales from our calculations. For its size New South Wales is the richest community in the world, and its riches are well distributed among all classes of the population. But it was at one time a penal settlement, and it is possible that the criminal statistics of the colony are still inflated by that remote cause. The sister colony of Victoria stands upon a different footing and is free from that disturbing factor; we shall therefore select that colony as a normal type of the Australian group. In Part V.I.I. of the Statistical Register of the colony of Victoria for 1887, there is an excellent summary of the position of the colony with respect to crime. The admirable manner in which these judicial statistics are arranged, reflects the highest credit on the colonial authorities; for fulness of information and clearness of arrangement they are not surpassed by any similar statistics in the world. As homicide is the crime on which we have hitherto based our international comparisons, we shall, for the present, confine our attention to the Victorian statistics of this offence.

- Countries Population Years. Tried Convicted over Ten. Annual Per Annual Per Average 100,000 Average 100,000 Inhabitants. Inhabitants. - Victoria 581,838 1882-6 22 3.2 14 2.5 United Kingdom 26,594,582 1882-6 505 2.35 226 .96 -

Before proceeding to analysis the contents of this table, it will be as well to explain the method on which it has been constructed, and the sources from which it is derived. The population of Victoria, over ten years of age, has been calculated according to the Victorian census for 1881, as contained in Part II. of the Victorian Statistical Register. In order to make the Victorian table harmonise in all particulars with Dr. Bosco's table for England, Scotland, and Ireland, the excess of births over deaths has been calculated up to the end of 1884. The United Kingdom, it will be seen, has been selected as the measure of comparison with the colony of Victoria. This selection has been made on the ground that the colony of Victoria is not composed of the inhabitants of any one of the three kingdoms, but contains a mixture of them all. It will also be observed that the homicidal crime of each of the three kingdoms differs from the other, but this is a consideration which we shall not further comment upon at present.

After these preliminary explanations we are now in a position to examine the contents of our statistical table in its bearing upon crimes of blood. It will now be possible to see what light the criminal statistics of Victoria, as compared with the criminal statistics of the United Kingdom, throw upon these crimes; and the disturbing factor of race being eliminated, what is the influence of climate pure and simple upon them. According to the isotherms for the year the Victorians live in an atmosphere between eight and ten degrees hotter than our own. Side by side with this additional heat, there is, as compared with the United Kingdom, an additional amount of crime. In the colony of Victoria, in proportion to every 100,000 inhabitants over ten years of age, there are nearly one-third more murders annually than in the United Kingdom. On what ground is this considerable increase of homicide to be accounted for, except on the ground of climate? The higher percentage is not caused by difference of race; it is not caused by worse economic conditions—these conditions are much superior to our own—the meaning of the figures is not obscured by any material differences of legal procedure or legal nomenclature. It cannot be urged that the Victorian population are the dregs of the home population; the very opposite is the fact. The bad characters who emigrate are the only disturbing element; but, after all, these men are not so numerous, and the evil effects of their presence is counterbalanced by the superiority of the average colonist to the average citizen who remains at home. It may be said that there is greater difficulty in detecting crime in a new colony than in an old and settled country. As applied to some colonies it is possible this objection may be sound, but, as applied to Victoria, it will not hold good. In Victoria the police are much more effective than they are at home, and a criminal has much less chance of going unpunished there than he has in England. In Victoria in the year 1887, out of a total of 40,693 cases reported to the police, 34,473 were brought up for trial. In England, on the other hand, out of a total of 42,391 indictable offences reported to the police in 1886-7, only 19,045 persons were apprehended. The Victorian figures include offences of all kinds, petty as well as indictable, whereas the English figures deal with indictable offences only. But admitting this, and admitting that it is more difficult to arrest indictable offenders, this difficulty is not so great as to explain away the vast difference in the numbers apprehended in Victoria as compared with the numbers apprehended in England. Only one conclusion can be drawn from these figures, and it is that the Victorian constabulary are more efficient than our own, and that it is a more dangerous thing for a person to break the law in the young colony of Victoria than in the old community at home.

It seems to me that the points of comparison between the United Kingdom and Victoria, in so far as they have any bearing upon crime, have now been exhausted; on almost every one of these points Victoria stands in a more favourable position than ourselves. The colony has, on the whole, a better kind of citizen; it has superior social and economic conditions; it has a far more effective system of police. On what possible ground, then, is it, except the ground of climate, that the Victorians are more addicted to homicide than the people of the United Kingdom? I admit it would be rash to assert that climate is the cause if our own and the Victorian statistics were the only documents to which we could appeal; it would be rash to draw such a sweeping conclusion from so isolated a basis. But when we know that the Victorian statistics are only one set of documents among many, and that all these sets of documents point to the operation of the same law, the case assumes an entirely different complexion. The results of the Victorian statistics harmonise with the conclusions already reached from a comparison of the criminal statistics of Europe and America. These conclusions in turn are powerfully reinforced by the experience of Australia. In fact, the whole body of evidence, from whatever quarter it is collected, points with remarkable unanimity to the conviction that, as far as European peoples and their offshoots are concerned, climate alone is no inconsiderable factor in determining the course of human conduct.

Yet the evil influence of climate, mischievous as it is at present, is not to be looked upon and acquiesced in as an irrevocable fatality. At first sight it would seem as if the human race could not possibly escape the malevolent action of cosmical influences over which it has little or no control. The rise and fall of temperature, its rage and intensity, is one of these influences, and yet its pernicious offsets are capable of being held to a large extent in check. As far as bodily comfort is concerned, it is marvellous to consider the innumerable methods and devices the progressive races of mankind have invented to protect themselves against the hostility of the elements by which they are surrounded. In fact, an important part of the history of the race consists in the ceaseless efforts it has been making to improve upon and perfect these methods and devices. We have only to compare the rude hut of the savage with the modern dwelling of the civilised man in order to see to what extent we can shield ourselves from the elemental forces in the midst of which we have to live. We have only to mark the difference between the miserable and scanty garments of the natives of Terra del Fuego and the attire of the Englishman of to-day to see what can be done by man in the way of rescuing himself from the inclemencies of Nature. If these conquests can be achieved where our physical existence is in peril, there can be little reason to doubt that advances of a similar nature can be made in the moral order as soon as man comes to feel equally conscious of their necessity. As a matter of fact, in some quarters of the world these advances have already in some measure been made. In the vast peninsula of India the structure of society is so constituted that the evil effect of climate in producing crimes of blood has been marvellously neutralised. It hardly admits of dispute that the caste system on which Indian society is based is, on the whole, one of the most wonderful instruments for the prevention of crimes of violence the world has ever seen. The average temperature of the Indian peninsula is about thirty degrees higher than the average temperature of the British Isles, and if there were no counteracting forces at work, crimes of violence in India should be much more numerous than they are with us. But the counteracting forces acting upon Indian society are of such immense potency that the malign influences of climate are very nearly annihilated as far as the crimes we are now discussing are concerned; and India stands to-day in the proud position of being more free from crimes against the person than the most highly civilised countries of Europe. In proof of this fact we have only to look at the official documents annually issued respecting the condition of British India. According to the returns contained in the Statistical Abstract relating to British India and the Parliamentary paper exhibiting its moral and material progress, the number of murders reported to the police of India is smaller than the number reported in any European State. The Indian Government issue no statistics, so far as I am aware, of the numbers tried; it is, therefore, impossible to institute any comparison between Europe and India upon this important point. But when we come to the number convicted it is again found that India presents a lower percentage of convictions for murder than is to be met with among any other people. It may, however, be urged that the statistical records respecting Indian crime are not so carefully kept as the statistics of a like character relating to England and the Continent. Sir John Strachey assures us that this is not the case; he says that these statistics are as carefully collected and tabulated in India as they are at home, and we may accept them as worthy of the utmost confidence. The following table, which I have prepared from the official documents already mentioned, may, therefore, be taken as giving an accurate account of the condition of India between 1882-6, as far as the most serious of all crimes is concerned. In order to facilitate comparison I have drawn it up as far as possible on the same lines as the other tables in this chapter.

- Population Years. Cases of Homicide. over Ten. Reported. Convicted. - Annual Per Annual Per Average. 100,000 Average. 100,000 Inhabitants. Inhabitants. India 148,543,223 1882-6 1,930 1.31 690 .46 -

According to this table, the remarkable fact is established that the number of cases of homicide in India committed by persons over ten years of age and reported to the police is smaller per 100,000 inhabitants than the number of cases of the same nature brought up for trial in England. In order to appreciate the full importance of this difference it has to be remembered that in England a great number of cases of homicide are reported to the police, for which no one is apprehended or brought to trial. In the case of the notorious Whitechapel murders which horrified the country a year or two ago no one was ever brought to trial, hardly any one was arrested or seriously suspected. These crimes and many others like them materially augment the number of homicides reported to the police, but they never figure among the cases annually brought for trial before assizes. As a matter of fact, no one is ever tried in more than one half of the cases of homicide reported to the police in the course of the year. In the year 1888, for instance, 403 cases of homicide were reported to the police in England and Wales; but in connection with all these cases only 196 persons were committed for trial. In short, double the number of homicides are committed as compared with the number of persons tried; and if a comparison is established between India and England on the basis of homicides reported to the police, the outcome of such a comparison will be to show that there are annually more than twice as many murders committed per one hundred thousand inhabitants over the age of ten in England than there are in India.

An objection may be taken to these figures on the ground that the crime of infanticide is much more prevalent to India than it is in England, and that the perpetrators of this crime are much less frequently brought to justice in the former country than with us. That objection is to some extent valid; at the same time it is well to remember that infanticide in India is an offence of a very special and peculiar character; the motives from which it springs are not what is usually understood as criminal; these motives arise from religious usage and immemorial custom; in short, it is English law and not the Indian conscience which makes infanticide a crime. Of course, the practice of infanticide is a proof that the Hindu mind has not the same high conception of the value of infant life as one finds in the western world, and in that respect India stands on an inferior moral level to ourselves. But with the exception of infanticide (and it is necessary to except it for the reasons I have just alleged) India has not half as many homicides annually as England.[17]

[17] For the high percentage of infanticide in England see the evidence given before the House of Lords last July (1890) by Judges Day and Wills.

To what cause is this vast difference in favour of India to be attributed? It is hardly probable that the difference is produced to any appreciable extent, if at all, by the nature of the food used by the people of India. If it were correct that a vegetable diet, such as is almost exclusively used by the inhabitants of India, had a salutary effect on the conduct of the population, we should witness the results of it, not only in the Indian peninsula, but also in other quarters of the world. The nature of the food consumed by the Italians bears a very close resemblance in its essential constituents to the dietary of the inhabitants of India; in both cases it is almost entirely composed of vegetable products. If vegetable, as contrasted with animal food, exercised a beneficial influence on human conduct; if it tended, for example, to restrain the passions, to minimise the brute instincts, some indisputable proof of this would be certain to show itself in the criminal statistics of Italy. As a matter of fact, no such proof exists. On the contrary, Italy is, of all countries within the pale of civilisation, the one most notorious for crimes of blood. In the face of this truth, it is impossible to believe that a vegetable diet has anything to do either with producing or preventing crime, and the contention that the wonderful immunity of India from offences against the person is owing to the food used by the inhabitants must be looked upon as without foundation.

The peculiar structure of society is unquestionably the most satisfactory explanation of the high position occupied by the inhabitants of India with respect to crime. The social edifice which a people builds for itself is among all civilised communities a highly complex product, and consists of a great agglomeration of diverse materials. These materials are partly drawn from the primitive characteristics of the race; they are partly borrowings from other and contiguous races; they are to a considerable extent derived from natural surroundings of all kinds; and in all circumstances they are supplemented by the genius of individuals. In short, all social structures, when looked at minutely, are found to be composed of two main ingredients—race and environment; but these two ingredients are so indissolubly interfused that it is impossible to say how much is to be attributed to the one, and how much to the other, in the building up of a society. But if, it is impossible to estimate the value of the several elements composing the fabric of society, it is easy to ascertain the dominating idea on which all forms of society are based. That dominating idea, if it may for the moment be called such, is the instinct of self-preservation, and it exercises just as great a power in determining the formation and play of the social organism as it exercises in determining the attitude of the individual to the world around him. In working out the idea of self-preservation into practical forms, the social system of most peoples has hitherto been built up with a view to protection against external enemies in the shape of hostile tribes and nations; the internal enemies of the commonwealth—the thieves, the housebreakers, the disturbers of public order, the shedders of blood, the perpetrators of violence—have been treated as only worthy of secondary consideration. Such are the lines on which social structure has, in most cases, proceeded, with the result that while external security was for long periods assured, internal security remained as imperfect and defective as ever.

The structure of society in India is, however, an exception to the general rule. External security, or, in other words, the desire for political freedom has, to a great extent, become extinct wherever the principles of Brahmanism have succeeded in taking root.

These principles have been operating upon the Indian mind for thousands of years; their effect in the sphere of politics excited the wonder of the ancient Greeks, who tell us that the Indian peasant might be seen tilling his field in peace between hostile armies preparing for battle. A similar spectacle has been seen on the plains of India in modern times. But Brahmanism, while extinguishing the principle of liberty in all its branches, and exposing its adherents to the mercy of every conqueror, has succeeded, through the caste system, in bringing internal order, security, and peace to a high pitch of excellence. This end, the caste system, like most other religious institutions, did not and does not have directly in view; but the human race often takes circuitous routes to attain its ends, and while apparently aiming at one object, is in reality securing another. The permanent forces operating in society often possess a very different character from those on the surface, and when the complicated network in which they are always wrapped up is stripped from off them, we find that they are some fundamental human instincts at work in disguise.

These observations are applicable to the caste system. This system, when divested of its externals, besides being an attempt to satisfy the mystic and emotional elements in the Indian heart, also represents the genius of the race engaged in the task of self-preservation. The manner in which caste exercises this function in thus described by Sir William Hunter in His volume on the Indian Empire. "Caste or guild," he says, "exercises a surveillance over each of its members from the close of childhood until death. If a man behaves well, he will rise to an honoured place in his caste; and the desire for such local distinctions exercises an important influence in the life of a Hindu. But the caste has its punishments as well as its rewards. Those punishments consist of fine and excommunication. The fine usually takes the form of a compulsory feast to the male members of the caste. This is the ordinary means of purification, or of making amends for breaches of the caste code. Excommunication inflicts three penalties: First, an interdict against eating with the fellow members of the caste; second, an interdict against marriage within the caste. This practically amounts to debarring the delinquent and his family from respectable marriages of any sort; third, cutting off the delinquent from the general community by forbidding him the use of the village barber and washerman, and of the priestly adviser. Except in very serious cases, excommunication is withdrawn upon the submission of the offender, and his payment of a fine. Anglo-Indian law does not enforce caste decrees. But caste punishments exercise an efficacious restraint upon unworthy members of the community, precisely as caste rewards supply a powerful motive of action to good ones. A member who cannot be controlled by this mixed discipline of punishment and reward is eventually expelled; and, as a rule, 'an out-caste' is really a bad man. Imprisonment in jail carries with it that penalty, but may be condoned after release by heavy expiations."

Those remarks of Sir William Hunter afford an insight into the coercive power exercised by the caste system on the Indian population. Without that system it is probable that the criminal statistics of India would present as high a proportion of crimes of violence and blood as now exists among the peoples of Southern Europe. But with that system in active operation, the evil influence of climate is completely neutralised and India at the present moment enjoys a remarkable immunity from violent crime. With the example of India before us we are justified in coming to the conclusion that homicide and crimes of a kindred nature need not necessarily be the malign products of climate. Whatever climate has to do with fostering these offences may be obviated by a better form of social organisation. It would be ridiculous to dream of basing western society upon Indian models; but at the same time India teaches us a lesson on the construction of the social fabric which it would be well to learn. The tendency of western civilisation at the present time is to herd vast masses of men into huge industrial centres. It is useless discussing the abstract question whether this is a good thing or a bad; we must reconcile ourselves to the fact that it is a process forced upon communities by the necessities of modern industrialism; and we must accordingly make the best of it. In our efforts to make the best of present tendencies, and to render them as innocuous as possible to social welfare, there is one point at least where India is able to teach us an instructive lesson. In India a man seldom becomes, what he too often is, in all our large cities, a mere lonely, isolated unit, left entirely to the mercy of his own impulses, constrained by no social circle of any description, and unsustained by the pressure of any public opinion for which he has the least regard. In India he is always a member of some fraternity within the community; in that fraternity or caste he feels at home; he is never isolated; he belongs to a circle which is not too big for his individuality to be lost; he is known; he has a reputation and a status to maintain; his life within the caste is shaped for him by caste usages and traditions, and for these he is taught to entertain the deepest reverence. Caste is in many of its aspects a state in miniature within the state; in this capacity it performs a variety of admirable functions of which the state itself is and must always remain incapable.

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