All we can tell about the man whom we are pleased to call a criminal, is that he had a poor equipment and met certain influences, motives and conditions, called environment, on his journey. We know that at a given time the journey has reached a certain point; it has met disaster or success, or most likely indifference. At a certain point he has reached a prison or is waiting for the hangman to tie a noose around his neck. Is heredity responsible? We know of many who apparently started out with an equipment no better. These may be business men and congressmen and deacons in the church. While we do not know and cannot know the trend and relative strength of the instincts in the various machines or the emotions that these and the whole equipment produced, apparently an equipment as poor as that of the criminal has met success, or at least kept its possessor out of jail. Was it then his environment? We have known men placed in the same environment, perhaps a brother, conquering difficulties and bringing success from what seemed to promise certain defeat. Why did one fail where the other conquered? Was it the “will” that caused one to be the “captain of his soul”? What then is the “will” and who gave the weak will to one and the strong will to another? And, if each was born with a certain “will” or the capacity to make a certain “will”, who then is responsible for the result? Or, does the word “will” mean anything, as usually applied?
All we can tell is that a certain equipment met a certain environment, and the result was early disaster. A change of even the slightest factor of environment might have saved the victim from hanging, so that he could die a respectable and peaceful death from tuberculosis or cancer.
After all, the inevitable tragedy that in some form marks the end is not so important as the sensations and experiences that one meets on the road. Life is hopeless and colorless indeed if these experiences are chosen for the wayfarer and the sensations are enforced or denied, as the case may be. Nothing recompenses the individual for the denial of his chance to follow his own path.
INDUSTRIALISM AND CRIME
It was not until about the middle of the eighteenth century that the desire for the creation and accumulation of property began to rule the world. Up to that time such small amounts of property as man needed or coveted had either been produced in a simple manner by himself or taken in the easiest way.
This new passion has made a large part of the modern criminal code. A world of warriors, religious zealots and pastoral people could not readily adapt themselves to the change. Criminal codes were lengthened; methods of getting property and keeping it were provided for, and other ways condemned. It must be obvious that it was not easy for man with his age-old machine, his inherited institutions and his ancient folk-ways, to adjust himself rapidly to the change. New conditions and laws created new criminals.