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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/561

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545
TYPICAL CRIMINALS.

"broad" type, but, on the other hand, he comes from a province of Germany where that type is dominant.

To complete the experiment, I submitted these portraits to a number of gentlemen, and to no two of them at the same time, for their opinions of the cases. The informal committee represented the different professions which might be expected to fit men for observation, for there was a lawyer, a physician, a railway president, a criminal judge, and a college professor. Each of them is eminent in his special field. The committee was manifestly handicapped by the shorn head, the prison dress, and the lack of the accessories of masculine ornamentation, such as collars and cravats. The committee was asked to name the crimes, and to group the men according to their criminal record. Each opinion differed from the other, and all were wide of the mark. The shrewd lawyer thought the accidental criminal "might be guilty of anything." It was only the college professor, the last man of the company from whom anything might properly be expected, who was able to select the worst two cases with the remark, "These men are degenerates." But while the committee was at work on the photographs the writer was at work on the committee, and actually discovered more anomalies of organization in these distinguished citizens than are apparent in the criminals. After this remark it is necessary to withhold their names, though some of them are men of national reputation.

It is time to reassert with increasing emphasis the personal responsibility of the individual, and to insist upon the enthronement and guidance of conscience. There are certainly social and economic reasons for crime, some of which the writer has pointed out elsewhere, but the chief fact in human life is the power of self-determination. The chief causes of crime, outside of personal and moral degradation, are psychical and not physical. The reader of history can not fail to have noted that relation of prevalent ideas to conduct which is so conspicuous in human affairs. The scenes of blood and desolation characteristic of the French Revolution are directly traceable to the doctrines which prepared the way for anarchy, but not for rational freedom.

We have had our attention directed to the contagion of suicide which has marked the last half decade. But Lecky tells us that suicide was made practically unknown in the civilized world by the spread of Christianity and its beliefs in the dignity and sanctity of man. The present contagion will disappear not as the result of food, or raiment, or houses, or any other material good, but by a revival of practical faith in the human soul and its capacity, in human righteousness and its obligation.