Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/227

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EDUCATION AND CRIME.

one denied the murder, yet the papers tell us that the doctor was triumphantly acquitted and honored by the society of the city as a hero, instead of being counted by the census as a criminal.

And it is only in a high state of society that offenses against virtue cease to be either overlooked or avenged by violence. In this very State of South Carolina there are only four such offenders reported in prison, while Michigan has forty and Massachusetts over two hundred. The latter State, indeed, has more than all the illiterate States together. Yet, are we to think that Michigan is ten times as sinful as South Carolina, or that Massachusetts has more vice than all the ignorant States combined? McDow's case shows that such vice exists, and how it is regarded. A clergyman of the South recently asserted in the Nation—and he has not been contradicted—that only a small minority of the colored women were chaste; yet the census makes them far more virtuous than their white sisters of the North. We do, indeed, hear quite frequently of negroes being lynched for such offenses, but they obviously do not count in the census.

Therefore, though education may swell the list of criminals, there are reasons for thinking that more education and not less is what certain parts of our country need. They need more prisoners. If more men were punished for drunkenness and violence, there would be less murder. If more murderers were executed instead of being lynched or lionized, there would be less violence. It is by checking the lesser offenses that the greater offenses are avoided, though the prisons are filled thereby. And as civilization improves in the South, no doubt the proportion of men in prison will increase, at least for the present; and the whole country can not rise in its standard of moral conduct without increasing the law-breakers, especially while we have to assimilate each year such a large and often lawless element from other lands.

One of the results of raising the mass to a higher moral level is, that individuals here and there drop out; and the higher we are raised the more will drop, and this will continue till those incapable of self-control have disappeared. It is only among savages—where there is no chance to drop, because all are on the ground—that we find no criminals or paupers. And Mr. Reece actually sighs for the "perfect order" found associated with the "densest ignorance" among the cave-dwelling Veddahs and other tribes. Possibly we might attain this "perfect order" if we would imitate the savages in leading a savage life. But that would be a pretty dear price to pay for such order as savages secure.

Most of us prefer civilization with all its drawbacks. We prefer to see our country settled, though we know that jails will be