Crime: Its Cause and Treatment eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 200 pages of information about Crime.
I deemed it expedient, therefore, to adjourn all further proceedings, in order to consult you.  For it appears to be a matter highly deserving your consideration, more especially as great numbers must be involved in the danger of these prosecutions, which have already extended, and are still likely to extend, to persons of all ranks and ages, and even of both sexes.  In fact, this contagious superstition is not confined to the cities only, but has spread its infection among the neighboring villages and country.  Nevertheless, it still seems possible to restrain its progress.  The temples, at least, which were once almost deserted, begin now to be frequented; and the sacred rites, after a long intermission, are again revived; while there is a general demand for the victims, which till lately found very few purchasers.  From all this it is easy to conjecture what numbers might be reclaimed if a general pardon were granted to those who shall repent of their error.

    Trajan to Pliny

You have adopted a right course, my dearest Secundus, in investigating the charges against the Christians who were brought before you.  It is not possible to lay down any general rule for all such cases.  Do not go out of your way to look for them.  If indeed they should be brought before you, and the crime is proved, they must be punished; with the restriction, however, that where the party denies he is a Christian, and shall make it evident that he is not, by invoking our gods, let him (notwithstanding any former suspicion) be pardoned upon his repentance.  Anonymous information ought not to be received in any sort of prosecution.  It is introducing a very dangerous precedent, and is quite foreign to the spirit of our age.

Civilization is largely a question of new machinery and methods.  It is not the humanizing of men.  It is plain that no matter what the time or age, the characteristics of man remain the same.  His structure does not change; his emotional life cannot change.  New objects and desires may control his feeling, but whatever the aim of the age and place, the same inherent emotions control.

Intolerance has been one of the great sources of evil all down the ages.  It is practically certain that neither time nor education has made man more kindly in his judgment of his fellows or more tolerant in his opinions and life.  All that education can do is to remove some of the inducing causes that have always brought the sharp conflicts and awakened the cruelty of man.

Every civilization brings new evils and new complexities which man meets with the same machine and the same emotions.  It is fairly certain that no nobler idealism or no finer feelings have been planted or cultivated in man since the dawn of history, and when it is thoroughly realized that man’s structure is fixed and cannot be changed it seems as if none could be developed.

XXXI

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Crime: Its Cause and Treatment from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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