Open main menu

Popular Science Monthly/Volume 41/August 1892/Natural Selection and Crime

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 41‎ | August 1892

THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

AUGUST, 1892.


 

NATURAL SELECTION AND CRIME.
By Prof. EDWARD S. MORSE.
"Find out what the law of God is with regard to a man; make that your human law, or I say it will be ill with you, and not well! If you love your thief or murderer, if Nature and eternal Fact love him, then do as you are now doing. But if Nature and Fact do not love him? If they have set inexorable penalties upon him, and planted natural wrath against him in every god-created human heart—then I advise you, cease, and change your hand."—Carlyle.

THE appearance of General Booth's work, entitled In Darkest England, was followed by a deluge of opinions, articles, and reviews on crime, vagabondage, tenement-houses, slums, etc. The serious spirit of these utterances showed an earnest awakening of the public mind in regard to the ominous character of the submerged classes.[1] To meet this baleful increase of vagabondage and crime we have had, first, punitive measures, even to mutilation, with no effect whatever, except perhaps as a deterrent to a few of the many thousands implicated; next, indiscriminate charity—public and private—still active in all but a few enlightened cities, with the effect of causing an alarming increase in the number of paupers and tramps; later, organized relief, which, being selective in a measure, results in some good being accomplished; and, finally, the Salvation Army, with rank and file mostly filled from the very classes demanding relief and reform. It would be strange indeed if such an organized force should not leave its impress on the chaotic material of the slums. That a great deal of temporary good, at least, is being accomplished by this organization there can be no doubt.

The subjects of crime and insanity have often been discussed under a common title. In the law courts the plea of insanity is often raised in defense of the criminal. A review of the treatment of maniacs in past times, and criminals at the present time, shows many curious analogies. For these several reasons let us briefly examine the attitude of society toward these unfortunates who are animated in their behavior by the possibly related conditions—insanity and crime.

Insanity was formerly looked upon as evidence of demoniacal possession. The idea that a disordered intellect could be the result of physical disease—of lesions of the brain—was only established after centuries of observation. In the mean while, every torment that misguided man could inflict was frantically suffered by untold thousands of chained and caged victims. Now, thanks to science, a thin section of diseased brain may, by means of the lantern, be projected upon a screen, so that audiences of thousands can realize for themselves the pathological nature of certain forms of insanity.

Dr. Andrew D. "White, in his chapter on Demoniacal Possession and Insanity,[2] says: "If ordinary diseases were likely to be attributed to diabolical agency, how much more diseases of the brain, and especially the more obscure of these! These, indeed, seemed to the vast majority of mankind possible only on the theory of satanic intervention."

It would be difficult to find a more ghastly page of history than is embodied in the two chapters on insanity by Dr. White in his New Chapters in the Warfare of Science. One becomes transfixed with horror at the merciless and ignorant brutality exercised in the treatment of the insane. Patients who required the tenderest care and long-continued sleep were forcibly kept awake for days to drive out the devil that was believed to possess them. Science, long thwarted by the Church, finally wrought a marvelous change in the treatment of these unfortunate creatures, by substituting gentleness, airy rooms, and sunny fields for dungeons, exorcisms, prayers, and blood-curdling cruelties. To one at all familiar with the external aspects of insanity, in its various forms, it seems incredible that its physical nature was not sooner realized.

The writer has had some slight knowledge of insane asylums, not only in America but in Japan, China, and Java, and in all these places, with their different nationalities and consequent facial peculiarities, one could easily recognize melancholia, dementia, and certain other forms of mental disease. The asylum at Buitenzorg, in Java, was of special interest, for here one might see in the different wards Sundanese, Javanese, Chinese, Hindoos, various Europeans, and peoples from other countries, with widely varying features, yet the "cachet," so to speak, of the mental disease could in many cases be recognized at a glance. Had the laws of heredity, even, been earlier understood it would have been seen that mental derangements, like physical diseases and tendencies, were transmitted.

If insanity was formerly considered the evidence of satanic possession, how much more reason was there to believe that delinquencies of a criminal nature were the result of satanic instigation. While demoniacal possession, as an explanation of insanity, is discredited on all hands,[3] criminal acts are still looked upon as the instigation of the devil. It may be safely asserted that to-day the vast majority of mankind fully believe that an external influence for evil is at war in the individual with an external influence for good.

Atrocious crimes are especially referred to as the result of diabolical suggestion; and the same procedures, though in a milder form, which obtained in former times for the treatment of the insane are in full force to-day in the treatment of the criminal. In the one case, however, torture was used to drive the devil out, in the other the victim is punished for yielding to the devil's persuasion. The criminal is imprisoned, chained, immured in a dark cell, forced to severest labor, and in many prisons abroad subject to physical torture. Under some governments he is transported to torrid climates and compelled to work under a broiling sun, or, hidden from the sun altogether, to delve in mines. This much for the punishment. Similar methods are resorted to in attempting reform, as were formerly used in exorcising the devil from the maniac. The minister and priest, having at all times free access, exhort and pray for the criminal, that he may have strength to resist the evil spirit, and if some sudden revulsion of feelings animates him to struggle against his criminal impulses, as many an insane man succeeds in controlling his maniacal impulses, then it is believed that a new spirit has shed its beneficent influence upon him, or, in other words, the evil spirit has been exorcised. Those who strenuously protest against such an interpretation of sin and crime are branded with obnoxious names. Dr. White says that perhaps nothing did so much to fasten the term "atheist" upon the medical profession as the suspicion that it did not fully acknowledge diabolic interference in mental disease.

A further analogy may be seen between the treatment of the lunatic in past times and the treatment of the criminal in recent years. It will be admitted without question that the former treatment of the insane could only result in driving the victim to utter madness. In an interesting work, entitled Old Bailey Experience (1833), the writer, who shows himself far in advance of his time, in reflecting on the treatment of criminals in England, says, "So convinced am I that the manner in which the laws are administered, under the discretion of the judges at the Old Bailey, has been one of the chief causes of the increase of crime, that it is a perpetual source of concern to me, that the subject has not been taken up by some one more able than myself to awaken the attention of the public." And he proves his position by an overwhelming mass of evidence.

Of late years there has sprung into existence a school of criminal anthropology, with societies, journals, and a rapidly increasing literature. A most admirable summary of the work thus far accomplished has recently been given by Dr. Robert Fletcher, in his address as retiring President of the Anthropological Society of Washington. In his opening paragraphs Dr. Fletcher graphically portrays the scourge of the criminal and his rapid increase.

"In the cities, towns, and villages of the civilized world, every year, thousands of unoffending men and women are slaughtered; millions of money, the product of honest toil and careful saving, are carried away by the conqueror, and incendiary fires light his pathway of destruction. "Who is this devastator, this modern 'scourge of God,' whose deeds are not recorded in history? The criminal! Statistics unusually trustworthy show that if the carnage yearly produced by him could be brought together at one time and place it would excel the horrors of many a well-contested field of battle. In nine great countries of the world, including our own favored land, in one year, 10,380 cases of homicide were recorded; and in the six years, extending from 1884 to 1889, in the United States alone, 14,770 murders came under cognizance of the law.

"And what has society done to protect itself against this aggressor? True, there are criminal codes, courts of law, and that surprising survival of the unfittest, trial by jury. Vast edifices have been built as prisons and reformatories, and philanthropic persons have formed societies for the instruction of the criminal and to care for him when his prison gates are opened. But, in spite of it all, the criminal becomes more numerous. He breeds criminals; the taint is in the blood, and there is no royal touch which can expel it."

Certain results of the modern school of anthropology, as presented by Dr. Fletcher, may be briefly summed up by stating broadly that in studying the criminal classes from the standpoint of anatomy, physiology, external appearance, even to the minuter shades of difference in the form of the skull and facial proportions, the criminal is a marked man. His abnormities are characteristic, and are to be diagnosticated in only one way. That these propositions are being rapidly established there can be no doubt. As an emphatic evidence of their truth, the criminal is able to transmit his criminal propensities even beyond the number of generations allotted to inheritance by Scripture.

William Douglas Morrison, in his Crime and its Causes, while denying these propositions, admits that degeneracy and disease are transmitted, and in these conditions seeks for the origin of crime.

A very significant relation is shown between crime and insanity in figures given by Malcolm Morris, as quoted by Dr. Emily "White, in her address on Hygiene as a Basis of Morals.[4] She says: "The intimate relationship between nervous diseases and crime is conspicuous. In England, the ratio of insane to sane criminals is thirty-four times as great as of the insane to the whole population, and criminal lunatics are in excess in the high proportion of seventeen to one." The persistence of criminal and vagabond taints is even more pronounced than that of lunacy; the latter condition often yields to benign treatment, and there is reason to believe that in time it may be eradicated, though confinement and consequent prevention of offspring will be the main cause of its disappearance. Whether criminal propensities can be obliterated is a grave question. Certainly the irrational and unscientific methods in the treatment of criminals to-day are as much responsible for the increase of crime as were the superstitious and unscientific ways of dealing with contagious diseases in earlier times responsible for their wide dissemination.

The repeated association of certain abnormities of the body with the criminal character suggesting simian features has led to the idea that congenital criminals are instances of reversion. Eminent students in this branch of study call attention to the resemblances of many minor details of structure to features in the higher apes. Dr. Fletcher admits that, while this view may be correct, it is purely hypothetical. The presence of certain abnormal muscles in man have been justly looked upon as evidence of reversion, and certainly the atavistic view clears up many points of structural difference seen in the criminal class which would otherwise be obscure. It is possible, however, that if the antecedents of all criminals were known, retention of ancestral traits and not reversion would be the more probable explanation of the continuance of the congenital criminal. He has always existed; his presence is apprehended just in proportion to the sensitiveness of the public conscience. Morrison, in his instructive book, says, in regard to the confirmed vagabond and criminal, that "most of them are not adapted to the conditions of existence which prevail in a free society. Some of them might have passed through life fairly well in a more primitive stage of social development, as, for example, in the days of slavery or serfdom; but they are manifestly out of place in an age of unrestricted freedom, when a man may work or remain idle just as he chooses. . . . All men are not fitted for freedom, and, so long as society acts on the supposition that they are, it will never get rid of the incorrigible criminal."

The persistence of those acts which, as society has evolved, have been deemed criminal, are acts natural to all animals. In the decalogue half the commandments, significantly grouped together, refer to acts and impulses inherent in the animal kingdom, from the lowest to the highest. Murder and adultery, of course; covetousness precedes the act of stealing; theft, in its various forms, from the simplest act to stock-watering; and lying, from the deceptive behavior of a bird to the lies embodied in the advertisements of the modern newspaper—are all part and parcel of man's inheritance.

Dr. Bruch Thomson, Surgeon of the General Prison, Scotland, says, "Habitual criminals are without moral sense—are true moral imbeciles." Carl Vogt advanced the idea that certain cases of congenital idiocy were evidences of reversion. Let one spend a few hours only in the worst wards of an asylum for the feeble-minded, and attentively study the movements and desires, the wanton mischief, the shocking impulses which animate these unfortunate creatures, and he is forced to admit the possibility of such a condition.

Whatever view prevails does not concern us at present. The important truth to realize is that overwhelming and incontestable evidence shows that the criminal, as a type, not only exists, but that his criminal taints are transmitted, and that this transmission may run through many generations. It is proved by voluminous evidence, easily accessible, that children are born criminals. They are, as Dr. Fletcher says, not only reared, nurtured, and instructed in it, but the habit becomes a new force—a second nature—superinduced upon their original natural depravity. In speaking of this class he says, "These communities of crime, we know, have no respect for the laws of marriage, are regardless of the rules of consanguinity, and, connecting themselves only with those of their own nature and habits, they must beget a depraved and criminal class, hereditarily disposed to crime."

It should be understood that in speaking of criminals the modern classification of criminals is recognized, and only the instinctive or congenital criminals are here considered. In this presentation, however, we must include the vast army of tramps who move with the snow-line back and forth across the country; a horde continually increasing because, as with the criminal, the vagabond strain is continually being bred. This startling truth of inheritance must be emphasized again and again, till the public mind—slow to understand—shall finally realize the fact and take the same stern measures for suppression that it would in the case of polluted water-supply and contagious disease. When these matters were fully understood health boards came into existence, and with such arbitrary powers are they now endowed that a family can be imprisoned in its own house; the house may be destroyed; the dead, if necessary, denied the ordinary funeral observances. The public fully acquiesce in these heroic measures, for the death-rate figures, year after year, become too significant to be neglected.

Vagabonds, like criminals, spring largely from a degenerating stock. The persistence of the vagabond strain, the hopelessness of reform among those blasted with the taint, is strikingly portrayed by the lamented Rev. Oscar C. McCulloch, in an address read before the National Conference of Charities and Corrections (1888), entitled The Tribe of Ishmael, a Study in Social Degradation. Traces of this tribe have been found as far back as 1790, but from 1840 the record is quite made out for some twigs of this baleful stock. Mr. McCulloch says: "The individuals already traced are over five thousand, interwoven by descent and marriage. They underrun society like devil-grass. Pick up one, and the whole five thousand would be drawn up. Over seven thousand pages of history are now on file in the Charity Organization Society "(Indianapolis), and he asks: "Do any of these get out of the festering mass? Of this whole number, I know of but one who has escaped, and is to-day an honorable man. I have tried again and again to lift them, but they sink back. They are a decaying stock; they can not longer live self-dependent. The children reappear with the old basket. The girl begins the life of prostitution, and is soon seen with her own illegitimate child."

The tramp horde is a nidus from which apparently a vast number of criminals spring. The appalling character of the fruits of this nidus may be faintly realized by reference to Dr. Seaman's paper on the Social Waste of a Great City (Science, vol. viii, p. 283). Referring to New York, he says: "It seizes upon and subsidizes the fairest string of islands that grace a metropolis the world over. Where there might have been, under a shrewder, better providence, parks, groves, museums, art-galleries, zoölogical gardens, wholesome games, exhilarants for honest industry and useful thrift, stretching at little intervals from Governor's to Hart's Island, full eighteen miles, the Nemesis of penalty and retribution has planted her growing colonies of social waste, of broken, degraded, repulsive, dangerous human detritus: and this baleful colonization has pushed its way along those beautiful eastern waters, keeping step with the advancing city, until its entire line of eastern frontage, far up into Westchester County, is sentineled by these menacing excrescences of a moribund civilization." Dr. Seaman truly says: "This waste shows a deadly apathy, a dying out of purpose, a fatal estrangement from home, family, and society, for which there has, as yet, been found neither remedy nor cure. This tramp class grows and grows dangerous and desperate too, and is chargeable with an increasing number of outrages, assaults, and crimes against both property and person. The island, the almshouses, and workhouses do not reach or touch their cases, for they gather physical endurance and resources from fresh campaignings across country, until rounded up again by winter weather in the great cities."

Indeed, the daily accounts of innocent women murdered, railroad trains invaded, pitched battles between hordes of these vagabonds and law-abiding citizens, attest to the insidious and rapid spread of this class, and not until some town is burned, and plunder and rape follow the burning, will the people realize what they have for so many years deliberately encouraged by free lunches at their kitchen doors. Indiscriminate charity has been encouraged by religious teaching. Powerful as the Church has been and still is in support of this practice, it is astonishing how rapidly the evils of this pernicious custom are being recognized by charity boards. Mr. McCulloch says the "so-called charitable people who give to begging children and women with baskets, have a vast sin to answer for. It is from them that this pauper element gets its consent to exist. Charity—falsely so called—covers a multitude of sins, and sends the pauper out with the benediction, 'Be fruitful and multiply.' Such charity has made this element, has brought children to the birth, and insured them a life of misery, cold, hunger, and sickness." And he asserts that so-called charity joins public relief in raising prostitutes and educating criminals. Though these are strong words, they but repeat the testimony of others who have made the subject an attentive study. In an article on London Charities, by Elizabeth Bisland (Cosmopolitan, July, 1891), is quoted the words of an eminent London citizen, who says that London is the scandal of the age by reason of its pauperized and demoralized condition, and yet 825,000,000 is given each year in alms to the unfortunate. "It is a gigantic laboratory of corruption and crime, and while it aspires to Christianize the heathen, it exercises a far more direct and effectual influence in heathenizing Christians, and in dragging the rest of England down to its own low level." And he goes on to declare that "the enormous facts of London charity are to a lamentable extent responsible for this state of things."

Whether the law-abiding man is abnormal, according to Albrecht, and the criminal is normal—slaying and robbing without compassion, as do the animals below him—does not now concern us, for it has come to pass in the progress of the races that the moral man has formulated laws for the good of society, and insists upon obedience to their establishment. Intelligence and not brute force has become the main factor in man's selection. This has been foreshadowed in past geological times where it has been shown that in the progressive development of the various groups of mammals the brain increased in size out of all proportion to the size of the body. An ignorant man in civilized countries, and even in savage and barbarous countries, occupies the lowest position.

Among the dominant races ignorance, poverty, and crime are often associated. The association of poverty and crime has no immediate relation, as shown by Morrison, though poverty presupposes a low intellect, and this implies an inability to acquire an education, which in a hundred ways in civilized life leads to degeneracy and crime. It can probably be shown that nations that are in the worst plight politically and financially are those where general education is or has been at the lowest ebb, where superstition takes the place of knowledge. In Italy, for example, where an attempt to disinfect cholera districts results in the murder of the officers engaged in this beneficent work—where priestly processions and holy water take the place of quarantine and carbolic acid in fighting cholera—natural selection runs riot and mercifully removes priest and peasant alike. One word in that famous encyclical, in which half its anathemas were hurled against human reason and the sciences,[5] might have changed all this, but the Church's attitude on these questions is one of the great factors in the selective category.

In this operation of the law of natural selection we have plainly indicated to us the principle with which to fight crime and pauperism. Let us pause for a moment and observe a few of the many ways in which this selective action is working in regard to man, and the suggestions to be derived from it. That the principle of natural selection works in Nature, no intelligent man doubts to-day. The discussion between Prof. Weismann and his adherents and the Neo-Lamarckians, as to whether acquired traits are transmitted, only tends to bring out more vividly the simplicity of the law of selective action. Man, as regards himself, has apparently thwarted this law. The humane impulses of man often interfere with selective action; sentimental women and sympathetic magistrates assist in the freeing of criminals who usually find themselves "serving" time by an immediate repetition of their offenses, often in aggravated forms (vide Sawtell), having, however, while free, united, out of wedlock, with the lowest of their kind, to perpetuate and possibly accentuate their criminal taint.

The indiscriminate giving of alms and promiscuous feeding of tramps thwarts, in a measure, the work of selective action. Were it not for these interferences the diminution in number of the vicious, incompetent, and lazy would be as marked from year to year as is the decreasing death-rate in cities where sanitary measures are rigorously enforced. What, then, are the unfavorable conditions against which the uneducated vicious class have to contend? In nearly all the essays written on crime and its causes, authors finally unite in agreeing that the slums of a city are the main roots of the evil, or, more correctly, the culture element which fosters this mass of social corruption. Mr. B. O. Flower, in the Arena, says, "The slums of our cities are the reservoirs of physical and moral death, an enormous expense to the state, a constant menace to society, a reality whose shadow is at once colossal and portentous."

As a class, these people live under the worst sanitary conditions, in districts of the city having the highest death-rate. Miss Besant, in a lecture, says: "In London the population is between three and four millions, and of it one person in every five dies in jail, prison, or workhouse. Fifty-five years is the average of citizens of the comfortable class, while twenty-nine is that of the manual laborers. ... Of one hundred babies born, fifty lie in the cemetery before they are five years old, while of the upper classes but eighteen of every hundred die." (In one city in Europe, where a long series of observations has been made, it is found that the death-rate is higher on the shady side of the street.)[6] The hot blasts of summer and the chills of winter mark their quota; their ignorance of all medical science leads them to employ a quack, or languish and die without medical aid. If inclined to work, their unrestrained appetite for alcohol shuts them out from all positions of trust, and drives them to the roughest of manual labor often fraught with danger. Their carousals and fights, innutritious and unwholesome foods, violations of all sanitary laws, and many other agencies are at work in destroying those least capable of surviving. As among the animals below man, where many individuals best adapted to live perish with the thousands unfitted to survive, so with man does this ruthless but beneficent law take in its grasp many deserving ones, and these are the ones that all the impulses of charity and love should animate us to save.

In combating crime, then, the line of effort should be along those paths indicated by Nature. It is a curious commentary on man's intelligence that, while exercising the selective function on his domestic stock by careful feeding, proper housing, and judicious crossing, and for his plants selecting the best seed, etc., while ruthlessly destroying the noxious weeds, yet when he comes to his own kind he fancies that different laws operate with him, or, swayed by sentiment, looks for different methods to cope with crime. He exterminates the noxious weed, kills his vicious dog, puts under restraint the maniac until cured; no definite terms of banishment will do in these cases, yet he formulates laws in which there is apportioned a definite number of days or years for definite offenses against society!

Colossal organizations, with lavish appropriations, are in the field for the purpose of suppressing crime and pauperism. Until within a few years this great army has been officered by the Church, and plans of campaign have been mapped by it. Slowly the public intelligence is awakening to the fact that these methods have been ridiculously inadequate, as proof exists that crime and pauperism are steadily increasing. The law of indefinite terms of imprisonment for criminals committed for a third offense has been the wisest prison law ever passed, for, by such a law, criminals are the longer prevented from the chance of perpetuating their evil traits; and yet in Massachusetts there are misguided sentimentalists who oppose the enactment of this law.

In this view of the subject the death-penalty—so odious to thousands—may be abolished. The sentence of life-imprisonment may be passed instead, but this must be beyond the interference of any pardoning power. How far the prison-cell may be made attractive, as apartments and corridors in lunatic asylums are made to-day, depends upon the necessity of punitive methods. If punishment, even to flogging, is deemed necessary, criminals must not have offered them such allurements as should lead them to violate the law for the sake of a recommital.

The conditions favorable to crime having been apprehended in the slums of the cities, the law of natural selection having been shown to be as relentlessly at work with man as with the lower animals, it would seem that the line of work is very clearly defined. We are to aid the law of selective action with all our might. Public outdoor relief is in most cities suppressed; indiscrimate charity has still full sway. We are individually and unitedly to suppress the idle, incompetent, and vicious, and at the same time we are to help in every way the industrious and well-intentioned. The congenital criminal and the vagabond we are to imprison for an indefinite time; in this confinement they should be made to work. Paul said that "if any would not work, neither should he eat." Tasks that do not compete with honest labor should be devised for them—breaking stone, sawing and cutting wood for the deserving poor; in certain districts, working on the road, filling malarious tracts, etc.

These are the suppressive and punitive methods, on the one hand; the selective method, on the other hand, is to be found in the erection of wholesome tenement-houses. These should have amusement halls; gardens, if possible; reading-rooms and libraries; halls, where instructive lectures should be given—not on the Holy Land or Babylonian antiquities, but on bread-making, the chemistry of common life, hygiene, and cognate subjects. Talented men and women will be induced to give their services occasionally to entertain or instruct.

Adopting the deed of trust under which the Peabody buildings in London were given,[7] we should apply the selective action by letting the apartments at the lowest possible rate to all those who are temperate, industrious, and are willing to work, while the vicious and the evil disposed should be rigorously excluded.

"Cruel!" you say; but we should recognize the far-reaching mercifulness of this plan in preventing the bringing of vicious children into the world, to live a life of misery and shame, or, if brought in, to find such unfavorable conditions as shall remove them while still young.

Quarantine the evil classes as you would the plague, and plant on good ground the deserving poor. Those who talk about the liberty of the individual before the law are not to include those who are endangering the liberty, perhaps the lives, of others, and are transgressing the law at every step.

Having established the means by which selective action may be brought into play, and in so just a manner, too, that even a vagabond could not complain of its injustice, we are to establish conditions by which the offspring of such colonies may have every chance of continuing in the life of sobriety and industry under which they were brought into the world. For this purpose industrial schools, in all lines of work, should be established. The crying need in all trades to-day is for boys who will industrially continue their apprentice term. During this time the boy must be induced to live at home, caring to live there from the attractiveness of the surroundings. Music, lectures, thanksgiving dinners, flowers, etc.—the outflow of compassionate impulses, which make certain penal institutions so alluring to many criminals—will find a better destiny in making pleasanter the lives of deserving tenement dwellers. Cooking schools, training schools for nurses and servants, should be instituted for the girls. With such co-operating appliances, our charity committees, instead of the often despairing tramps through noisome regions, to be deceived by the wary, or horrified at the treachery and lies of others, will have a keen stimulus to seek out the deserving poor; to find those that are willing to work, knowing that, when once rescued and placed on firm ground, they are to remain there in many cases self-supporting. The response to appeals for aid will be more prompt and bountiful when it is known that worthy ones only are to be helped. The cost of such a project will be great. If private munificence will not do it, cities may.

In Boston, museums of art and of natural history, though free to the public, are, nevertheless, sustained by private help. In New York the State and city are repeatedly called upon for contributions to similar institutions. What municipality of any intelligence has hestitatedto spend millions for pure water-supply and sewer system, after it has been clearly demonstrated that local cesspools menace the health of the community by vitiating the local water-supply? It is possible that, when a community fully realizes the moral pollution that comes from the slums, an agitation may result that shall lead a city to construct tenement-houses as it now does its school-houses.[8] The question is sure to arise, What shall be done with the incompetent, though not necessarily vicious or intemperate? They must not be allowed to starve, surely not; but it is to be observed that, when such incompetents tumble overboard, they make strenuous efforts to save themselves, and if caught in a burning building they appear active, even boisterous, in their attempts to escape. The simplest manual labor is within their power, and for this they should be paid; their chances for quality of food, quantity of tobacco, etc., should depend upon their efforts to help themselves. If they will not work, and insist upon being vagabonds, they come under cognizance of the law, and their liberty may be abridged, and for an indefinite time if need be. By this curtailment of their freedom their line of descent is arrested, and this is the important object to accomplish. In a very inadequate manner, but with illustrations familiar to all, Nature's way has been appealed to as worthy of trial. This is the ringing lesson of natural selection as applied to this great problem, and we commend it, in all earnestness, to those who have the welfare of the submerged classes at heart.

 

  1. Concerning General Booth's scheme, we commend a very just and temperate article in Blackwood's Magazine for January, 1891, entitled The Problem of the Slums.
  2. Popular Science Monthly, vol. xxxiv, p. 434.
  3. This holds good for the present time, but a firm belief in the existence of demoniacal possession in past times is still held by the Church, as lately witnessed in the discussions between Huxley and Gladstone, Dr. Wace, and others, regarding the Gadarene pigs.
  4. Popular Science Monthly, May, 1887.
  5. See Draper's Conflict between Religion and Science, for convenient reference to these anathemas, p. 350.
  6. Some of the following paragraphs have already been published by the writer in the Boston Herald, under the signature of C. B. D.
  7. Secondly. It is my intention that now, and for all time, there shall be a rigid exclusion from the management of this fund of any influences calculated to impart to it a character either sectarian, as regards religion, or exclusive in relation to party politics.

    Thirdly. It is my wish that the sole qualification for a participation in the benefits of the fund shall be an ascertained and continued condition of life such as brings the individual within the description (in the ordinary Bense of the word) of the poor of London, combined with moral character and good conduct as a member of society.

  8. The pauper, the imbecile, the lunatic, and in some cities those afflicted in other ways, are provided for in appropriate public institutions.