Crime in Its Relations to Social Progress

By Arthur Cleveland Hall | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
HAS CRIME INCREASED DURING THE NINETEENTH CENTURY?

THE nineteenth century has been filled full with the transformation of industrial life -- that greatest event of modern times -- wrought out through steam, machinery, and electricity, so that the industrial arts of the eighteenth century are farther removed from those of 1900 than from those of the Roman Empire, or even Egypt under the Ptolemies.1 The capital amassed during this single century amounts to a sum at least double all that has been accumulated and left by former ages.2 A hundred years ago the annual output of the world's mines was estimated at £9,000,000 sterling, while between 1880-88 the average yearly value at the pit's mouth was £210,000,000.3 The value of goods manufactured each year in Europe and the United States has increased from £650,000,000 sterling in 1800, to £4,618,000,000 in 1888.4 So rapid has been the diffusion of the comforts and luxuries of life, and so radically have our ideas and ways of thinking changed, that we can realize only with great difficulty the extremely simple lives of our own grandfathers.

Nor has the march of education been less remarkable than the progress of industry and wealth. One hundred years ago reading and writing were rare accomplishments. Even as late as 1840 but two per cent. of adults in Russia could

____________________
1
Compare the paintings representing trades on the walls of Pompeii and Egyptian tombs, with encyclopædia engravings of the 18th century, and the illustrations in modern popular science magazines.
2
Seignobos,p.681.
3
Mulhall, p. 398.
4
Ibid., p. 365.

-279-

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