Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/228

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built and occupied. The very convenience of city life is paid for by added crime. The disorder that might be allowed in a wilderness among savages can not be tolerated in a crowded metropolis among civilized people. The ten States that have the largest cities punish fifty per cent more violence and sixty per cent more drunkenness than their share, though they have twenty per cent less than their proportion of murders. Petty crimes come from civilization, great crimes from barbarism. But among barbarians great crimes are called virtues, and petty crimes are unknown or unnoted.

I think, then, we need not fear that universal education is to bring us universal crime. We want more and better education. Of course, it is not the mere ability to read and write that is to save a man from prison. He must learn self-control and acquire a loftier standard of life. Mr. Reece dwells much upon the fact that a large percentage of our criminals can read and write. But that does not prove that their education made them criminals. I dare say a still larger percentage of them can see, yet it was not their ability to see that made them criminals. The densest ignorance may, like total blindness, keep men from crime; but we do not propose to put out our eyes of either mind or body. We will have men learn to see better, morally and physically. It is imperfect education that has brought men to prison, as we see from the constant relation of our criminal class to our illiterate classes. They may, indeed, have some sort of an education, but the vast majority of them are ignorant themselves, and have ignorant kindred and associates; and to be ignorant amid the civilization of to-day is to be jealous and bitter and rebellious.

The very fact that Mr. Reece cites to prove his thesis, that ignorance is innocence and knowledge crime, disproves it most completely. South Carolina, he says, has the highest percentage of illiteracy and the lowest of crime; but, if he had taken one glance below the surface, he would have seen a fact far more "novel and threatening" than any he discovered. Out of the 626 criminals of South Carolina, 570 are black and only 56 are white. Why are there ten times as many blacks as whites in jail, when they constitute only three fifths of the population? The only answer the census gives is in the fact that they are three times as illiterate as the whites. So that the very State summoned to prove that ignorance is exemption from crime, has ten elevenths of its criminals from the most ignorant class in the country. But perhaps Mr. Reece thinks that their ignorance is not quite dense enough, as one in four can still write. They certainly have not yet reached the point where ignorance is bliss.