Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/11

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.





THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.



NOVEMBER, 1875



THE RELATIONS OF WOMEN TO CRIME.
By ELY VAN DE WARKER, M. D.
I.

THE first traditional crime, the fratricide of Abel, was a natural outgrowth from the conditions of society, which, compared to the present relations of civilized men, existed germ-like around him. These conditions alone gave motive and direction to the deed. To all the after-centuries of human crime this primal offense has existed as a type. Both in cause and effect it is reduced to its simplest proportions. The criminal represents the retrograde tendency of society; the savagism which exists in every community. Order and progress are preserved by an irrepressible conflict waged on the border-land, as it were, of civilization. Many of these crimes grow out of the artificial wants of society. Others are but relative and belong to particular conditions, or orders of men, and at other times and places are without meaning and void of offense. Thus society is ever eager for the warfare, and, at the time it creates the crime, prepares the weapons for its punishment.

The propensity to crime is a fixed element in human nature. Quetelet, whom I have frequently referred to in the course of these papers, has with singular sagacity and perseverance reduced the social relations of man nearly to an exact science. The dark and tortuous by-ways in life, which so many seem perforce to follow, arrange them-selves with the regularity of geometrical lines under the clear illumination of his analysis. Yet these are surface-lines only. There are profound depths of human misery and crime, over which a veil seems drawn by a merciful hand, and in which we have but a suspicion of the force of law. But, in these depths, in which the terminal fibres of human relations find soil and sustenance, can be found the origin of the ordinances under which these surface-lines are grouped. If this he so, it follows that crime must be studied as a natural phenom-