Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/267

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CRIMINALITY IN ANIMALS.

With men, certain crimes tend to diminish or disappear under the influence of civilization. It is the same with animals. The more the domestication of a race is perfected, the less violent do its passions become, and, consequently, such crimes as we have discussed grow more rare. Not being troubled about their food, which is put before them in abundance and good order every day, they are not subject to the struggle for existence, and their character is mollified. Furthermore, by virtue of the law of organic balance, the development of the digestive apparatus, consequent on plentiful and regular feeding, takes place at the expense of the nervous system, whence less violence, less irritability, and less sexual passion. Malice is extremely rare among thorough-bred domestic animals, as, for instance, among the Durham cattle.

A man subject to relapses—this is his forty-fourth sentence—a man of quite solid education, yet who seems to pursue persistently the most absurd of evil schemes, wrote to me a little while ago: "I committed the first offense in my life, then repaired it. Repulsed everywhere and by every one, I pretended to steal, so that I could be arrested and condemned. All my condemnations have been for vagrancy or breaking my parole. I have always behaved well when I have had enough to eat. Misery makes a man wicked. With a piece of bread one may, perhaps, prevent a wretch from committing theft or murder." The criminal, says Hobbes, is a robust child; and Georges Leroy adds: "If we suppose a man to have strong desires, and to be without experience, like a child, it is hard to conceive of anything that will restrain him in the course he is pursuing. Our passions bring us back to childhood by vividly presenting to us a single object with the degree of intensity that eclipses everything else."

We believe that we have shown in this study that, if the acts, the thoughts, and the feelings of animals are similar to ours, the same is the case with their offenses and their crimes, so far as the same are related to their interests and their passions. As in our own species, the criminal animal is generally a type appearing sporadically, with passions, desires, and instincts that are not those of its race. These faults are transmissible and hereditary. Domestication and systematic feeding diminish, destroy, or transform these mischievous dispositions. We were right in saying, when we began, that the morals of wolves may throw light upon those of men.—Revue Scientifique.