Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/352

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338
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

crime is classified according to age, and percentages are calculated based upon the total population for each age specified. The maximum for male criminals is found in the period of twenty to twenty-five years, with a percentage to the total population of that age of .7702. Between fifty and sixty years the percentage drops to only .1694. The same law holds good for women, but with modified ratios. Comparing the two sexes, the following results are reached: the tendency to crime, as exhibited in its actual commission, for males at all ages until sixty, diminishes at the rate of 33.333 per centum. For females under similar conditions of age, it diminishes at the rate of 25 per centum. Keeping in view the liability to error in a search through the obscure underlying forces which seem to regulate human conduct in the aggregate, it nevertheless appears reasonable to expect an explanation of this phenomenon to lie in the physical rather than the mental conditions of the sexes at the terminal periods of life. In the decade which was above distinguished as that of physical equilibrium, the governing principles seemed to be the expression of mental forces; but, on reaching the sixtieth year of life, the conditions are reversed. While in the former the conditions of waste and repair were equal, in the latter the repair of the physical forces is exceeded by the waste. This is a law which applies equally to both sexes, but with this difference in the result: the occupation and the crimes which belong in such great excess to men are those which require more physical strength than the occupations and crimes which are adapted to the lesser strength of women. Let us take a familiar illustration: after a man at sixty years of age has retired from the scenes of his labor in the mine, or field, or workshop, the wife of the same age, or older, is yet profitably engaged in her lighter domestic duties. She is yet contributing as materially to the comforts of her family as during the more active years of the husband's life. Now, while it is quite evident that we must regard the cause of the sudden more near equality in the proportion of the sexes which presents itself in the period of life between forty and fifty years as due to psychical changes, the evidence is yet stronger that the ratio of the more rapid decrease of male criminals at the more advanced period of fifty to sixty years is due to the cause I have named—the rapid impairment of physical energy peculiar to the period. Since men greatly preponderate in those phases of crime which demand strength, belligerency, and publicity in the perpetration, the conclusion is legitimate that Crime would rapidly decrease at the time of life in which these qualities are wanting, or are impaired. If we examine the relation of men to the orders of crime, in the perpetration of which these qualities are not necessary, and in which strength may be replaced by caution, and belligerency by cunning, as in offenses against the currency, and in the sixth division of Mr. Nelson called "other offenses," embracing the lighter shades of criminal conduct, we shall see that the propor-