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CAUSES OF THE INCREASE OF CRIME.
IF the past increase and present the days of its prosperity, what is it amount of crime in the British islands likely to become in those of its debe alone considered, it must afford cline, when this prodigious vent for grounds for the most melancholy fore- superfluous numbers has come to be bodings. When we recollect that in a great measure closed, and this since the year 1805, that is, during a unheard-of wealth and prosperity has period of less than forty years, in the ceased to gladden the land ? course of which population has ad- To discover to what causes this vanced about sixty-five per cent in extraordinary increase of crime is to Great Britain and Ireland, crime in be ascribed, we must first examine England has increased seven hundred the localities in which it has principer cent, in Ireland about eight hun- pally arisen, and endeavour to ascerdred per cent, and in Scotland above tain whether it is to be found chiefly three thousand six hundred per cent ; * in the agricultural, pastoral, or mait is difficult to say what is destined nufacturing districts. We must then to be the ultimate fate of a country in consider the condition of the labourwhich the progress of wickedness is ing classes, and the means provided so much more rapid than the increase to restrain them in the quarters where of the numbers of the people. Nor is the progress of crime has been most the alarming nature of the prospect alarming; and inquire whether the diminished by the reflection, that this existing evils are insurmountable and astonishing increase in human depra- unavoidable, or have arisen from the ‘vity has taken place during a period supineness, the errors, and the selof unexampled prosperity and unpre
fishness of man. The inquiry is one cedented progress, during which the of the most interesting which can produce of the national industry had occupy the thoughts of the far-seeing tripled, and the labours of the hus- and humane; for it involves the tembandman kept pace with the vast poral and eternal welfare of millions increase in the population they were of their fellow-creatures ;-it may well to feed--in which the British empire arrest the attention of the selfish, and carried its victorious arms into every divert for a few minutes the profligate quarter of the globe, and colonies from their pursuits; for on it depends sprang up on all sides with unheard- whether the darling wealth of the of rapidity-in which a hundred thou- former is to be preserved or destroyed, sand emigrants came ultimately to mi- and the exciting enjoyments of the grate every year from the parent state other arrested or suffered to. coninto the new regions conquered by its tinue. arms, or discovered by its adventure. To elucidate the first of these quesIf this is the progress of crime during tions, we subjoin å table, compiled
* See No. 343, Blackwood's Magazine, p. 534, Vol. lv. VOL. LVI. NO. CCCXLV.
from the Parliamentary returns, ex- rance repel the suggestions of knowhibiting the progress of serious crime ledge; theory, of experience; selfishin the principal counties, agricultural, ness, of philanthropy; cowardice, of pastoral, and manufacturing, of the resolution. Thus nothing whatever empire, during the last fifteen years. is done to remedy or avert the existWe are unwilling to load our pages ing evils : the districts not endangered with figures, and are well aware how unite as one man to resist any attempt distasteful they are to a large class of to form a general system for the allereaders; and if those results were as viation of misery or diminution of familiar to others as they are to our- crime in those that are, and the preselves, we should be too happy to ponderance of the unendangered distake them for granted, as they do first tricts in the legislature gives them the principles in the House of Commons, means of effectually doing so. The and proceed at once to the means of evils in the endangered districts are remedy. But the facts on this subject such, that it is universally felt they have been so often misrepresented by are beyond the reach of local remedy party or prejudice, and are in them- or alleviation. Thus, between the selves so generally unknown, that it two, nothing whatever is done to aris indispensable to lay a foundation in rest, or guard against, the existing or authentic information before proceed- impending evils. Meanwhile, destituing further in the inquiry. The great- tion, profligacy, sensuality, and crime, est difficulty which those practically advance with unheard-of ràpidity in acquainted with the subject experience the manufacturing districts, and the in such an investigation, is to make dangerous classes there massed togepeople believe their statements, even ther combine every three or four years when founded on the most extensive in some general strike or alarming practical knowledge, or the most ac- insurrection, which, while it lasts, curate statistical inquiry. There is excites universal terror, and is sucsuch a prodigious difference between ceeded, when suppressed, by the same the condition of mankind and the pro- deplorable system of supineness, selfgress of corruption in the agricultural ishness, and infatuation. or pastoral, and manufacturing or The table in the note exhibits the densely peopled districts, that those number of commitments for serious accustomed to the former will not be- offences, with the population of each, lieve any statements made regarding of eight counties—pastoral, agricultuthe latter. They say they are in- ral, and manufacturing—in Great Bricredible or exaggerated ; that the tain during the year 1841.* We take persons who make them are têtes the returns for that year, both because montées ; that their ideas are very it was the year in which the census vague, and their suggestions utterly was taken, and because the succeeding unworthy the consideration either of year, 1842, being the year of the men of sense or of government. With great outbreak in England, and violent such deplorable illusions does igno- strike in Scotland, the figures, both in
* Table showing the number of commitments for serious crimes, and population, in the year 1841, in the under-mentioned counties of Great Britain ;
that and the succeeding year, may be manufacturing counties, as Lanarksupposed to exhibit a more unfavour- shire, by permitting nineteen-twenable result for the manufacturing dis- tieths of the crime to go unpunished, tricts than a fair average of years. exhibits a far less amount of crimiFrom this table, it appears that the nality than would be brought to light vast preponderance of crime is to be under a more vigilant system. But found in the manufacturing or densely- still there is enough in this table to peopled districts, and that the pro- attract serious and instructive attenportion per cent of commitments tion. It appears that the average of which they exhibit, as compared with seven pastoral counties exhibits an the population, is generally three, average of 1 commitment for serious often five times, what appears in offences out of 1155 souls : of eight the purely agricultural and pastoral counties, partly agricultural and partly districts. The comparative crimi- manufacturing, of 1 in 682: and of nality of the agricultural, manufac- eight manufacturing and mining, of 1 turing, and pastoral districts is not in 476! And the difference between to be considered as accurately mea- individual counties is still more re. sured by these returns, because so markable, especially when counties many of the agricultural counties, es- purely agricultural or pastoral can be pecially in England, are overspread compared with those for the most part with towns and manufactories or col- manufacturing or mining. Thus the lieries. Thus Kent and Shropshire proportion of commitment for serious are justly classed with agricultural crime in the pastoral counties of counties, though part of the former is Anglesey, is 1 in 3900 in fact a suburb of London, and of the Carnarvon, 1 in 2452 latter overspread with demoralizing Selkirk,
1 in 1990 coal mines. The entire want of any Cumberland, 1 in 1194 police force in some of the greatest In the purely agricultural counties of
II.-AGRICULTURAL AND MANUFACTURING.
1 in 476
Total, 6,269,426 12,067 -Porter's Parl. Tables, 1841, 163; and Census 1841.
Aberdeenshire, is 1 in 2086
Lanarkshire, 1 in 832*
Renfrewshire, 1 in 306
Perthshire, 1 in 1181 crime demonstrate, not only that such While in the great manufacturing is the present state of crime in the or mining counties of
densely peopled and manufacturing Lancashire, is 1 in 418 districts, compared to what obtains Staffordshire,
1 in 482 in the agricultural or pastoral, but Middlesex,
1 in 439 that the tendency of matters is still Yorkshire,
1 in 839 worse ;t and that, great as has been
* Lanarkshire has no police except in Glasgow, or its serious crime would be about 1 in 400, or 350.
† Table, showing the comparative population, and committals for serious crime, in the under-mentioned counties, in the years 1821, 1831, and 1841.