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of the ratios of crime and of ignorance, (the ignorance of reading and writing,) most fatal to the conclusions of those who adopt the test. —
In 1805, 1811, 1821, and 1847, the ratios of crime to the population were, respectively, 1 in 1813, 1779, 877, and 610. but no sane man disputes that far fewer persons are ignorant of reading and writing now, than at any one of the other periods named. It is palpable that some other solution of the increased ratio of crime must be found, unless we are to adopt the prima facie conclusion which the facts warrant,—that knowledge and crime progress in equal ratios. In short, we cannot but think that far too much attention has been paid to this branch of the inquiry, to the neglect of others, from which more important results are attainable; and though we willingly admit the great talent and patience with which the inquiry has been conducted, we must still express our dissatisfaction with its results, as explanations, either in whole, or in any principal degree, of the phenomena presented in the criminal tables of England. It will be our object in this article, to indicate, with somewhat more exactness than has already been done, the facts of the case, and to point out, not the causes so much, as the conditions or circumstances, under which crime is more or less developed in England. Before, however, we do this, we must correct some gross mistakes as to the progress of crime, which have long been current in the public mind, and have been sanctioned by men, from whom more accuracy of information might fairly have been expected. Thus, we have not unfrequently seen the statement, in print, that crime has increased six hundred per cent. since 1805; and nothing is so common, in the mouths of public men, when any question of public morals is the theme, as the lamentation over the alarming and frightful increase of crime. We will endeavour to give the true ratio of increase.—For this purpose, we have thrown the English counties into six groups, as follows:-five manufacturing, viz.Chester, Lancaster, Stafford, Warwick, and York; three mining, viz.—Cornwall, Durham, and Monmouth; three metropolitan, viz.—Middlesex, Hertford, and Surrey; sixteen agricultural, viz.—Bedford, Berks, Bucks, Cumberland, Dorset, Essex, Hereford, Hunts, Kent, Lincoln, Northampton, Rutland, Suffolk, Sussex, Westmoreland, and Wilts; two collegiate, viz.—Cambridge and Oxford ; and eleven mixed agricultural and manufacturing, viz.—Derby, Devon, Gloucester, Norfolk, Northumberland, Leicester, Notts, Salop, Somerset, Hants, and Worcester. We consider this grouping to be, on the whole, as fair as any other we have seen, but we shall have occasion to show, in the sequel, that it presents great anomalies; and that, in
fact, any grouping of counties, merely as manufacturing, or agricultural, or as both combined, with a view to arrive at any definite results, as to the mere influence of manufacturing or agricultural employments on the prevalence of crime, will only lead to false conclusions, unless other elements be largely allowed for. The following table shows the amount of crime in each of the groups mentioned, and in all England, and the ratio to population, at nine distinct periods. The actual population is taken for the years 1821, 1831, and 1841; the population for the other periods, is calculated according to the ratio of increase, for each group, in the preceding ten years, as shown by the census returns. Our object in dividing the six years, since 1841, into four distinct periods, will be explained afterwards.
1825 to 1827. | 1829 to 1833. 1835 to 1837. 1840 to 1841
1820 to 1822
1 in 5 Manufacturing. 3783 823 4748 3 Mining ......... 207 2594 324 2015 3 Metropolitan... 3234 517 4084 446 4631 429 4634 463 5048 438 16 Agricultural ... 2482 1111 3152 919 3916 780 4633 724 5571. 602
2 Collegiate ...... 231 1120 306 903 388 763 / 512 605 572 570 11 Mixed ......... 2901 1007 3337 929 4207 785 5080 680 6757 / 553 All England ...... 12.839 877 15.952 759 19.130 684 21.363 654 28.104 533
The increase of crime for all England, betwixt the first and last periods, is about fifty-three per cent. If the first period, and 1844-6, be compared, it is thirty-eight per cent. ; but if the first period and 1845, be compared, it is only thirty-one per cent.
The per-centage shows, in each case, an actual increase in the ratio of crime, distinct from, and above, the ratio of increase in the population. But if 1829-1833, and 1845, be compared, the increase is not more than six per cent. The cycle, 1829
-1833, comprehended a period, in which no disturbing element was at work, to increase, what we may be allowed to term, the natural tendency to crime; and the year 1845 was a similar period. But this comparison may be objected to, as too favourable. No objection, however, can lie against the average of 1844–6, the latter year being marked by considerable distress amongst the operative population. We exclude 1847, because it was, nearly throughout, a year of distress and privation.—For the same reason, we exclude 1840—2, a period of extraordinary suffering amongst the working classes; the closing year, in fact, being the last of a cycle of five years of almost uninterrupted bad harvests, and dear food; two circumstances, the influence of which on crime, we shall afterwards advert to. We shall not, however, confine the comparison to the periods betwixt 182) and 1845. We shall carry it back to 1805. In that year, the ratio of crime to population for the several sections of counties, and for all England, was as follows
5 Manufacturing Counties .. 1 in 2292.
1 in 4294.
1 in 612. 16 Agricultural
1 in 2192. 2 Collegiate
1 in 2550. 11 Mixed
1 in 2299. All England ....
1 in 1843. Wales ........
1 in 3941. The following table will exhibit the increase of the population, and of crime, respectively, betwixt 1805 and 1821, and betwixt 1821 and 1845, with the excess or deficiency of crime, in each period, as compared with the population.
of Crime Increase decrease 1805 to 1805 to
1821 to of Crime
: | 1831 to of Crime of Crime 1821.
1831 to 1821.
Here, then, we have the exact measure of the increase of crime—that is,
Manufacturing Counties, 1805 to 1845
276.9. 195. 103. 181.7. 258.1. 224. 189.2.
It is foreign to our purpose to inquire into the cause or causes of this still enormous increase of crime, betwixt 1805 and 1821, and also betwixt 1821 and 1831. The more rapid increase of crime than population, by 147.8 per cent. in the one period, and of thirty-three per cent. in the other, suggests grave questions, if the increase be the consequence of a more depraved condition of the national morals. We are free to express our entire doubt that the phenomena are referable to that cause. We suspect the increase is more nominal than real, and is, in a great measure, attributable to an improved police, and the consequent more frequent detection of offences; conjoined with several other circumstances, which we may not stay to describe minutely. Of this we are quite certain, that the universal judg. ment of men who have lived through the period, 1805 to 1845, is unmistakeably against the conclusion, which, taken by them. selves, the criminal returns would establish; that is, a rapid and large deterioration of the national character. On the contrary, we never met with a man on whose judgment and observation we could rely, who did not testify to the striking improvement in the whole deportment and conduct of the mass of the population, betwixt the two periods. Be this, however, as it may, there is no gainsaying the fact, that the rate of progress in crime has undergone a wonderful retardation, since 1831. 8.4 per
cent. in fifteen years, contrasts marvellously with thirty-three per cent. in the ten years, 1821 to 1831; and 147.8 per cent., in the sixteen years from 1805 to 1821. At this rate, 1851 will show a positive decrease in the ratio, as compared with 1831, on all England; as 1845 already does, for the manufacturing and metropolitan districts.
We will now show the relative proportion of crime in the forty counties of England, and from this statement, shall endeavour to evolve the circumstances, or conditions of each, which determine those ratios.
For reasons already stated, we consider the year 1845, as offering the most accurate portraiture of the natural intensity of crime in each county. The following table exhibits the ratio of crime to population in each, and we append to it, for purposes to be explained, the percentage of population to one hundred statute acres in 1847, the proportion of the agricultural classes to the total population, and the proportion of males married, on the average of 1839 to 1845, who signed the marriage register with marks.