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INTRODUCTION. This little book presents an appeal to society to consider its criminals with greater charity and with more intelligent compassion. No other plea is advanced than that the public mind should rid itself of all prejudices and misunderstandings, and should make an honest endeavour to understand what the criminal is, why he is a criminal and what, notwithstanding, are his chances in social life. The criminal has a claim to be... more...

Should you ever go to Rome and visit the villa Pamphili, no doubt, after having sought under its tall pines and along its canals the shade and freshness so rare in the capital of the Christian world, you will descend towards the Janiculum Hill by a charming road, in the middle of which you will find the Pauline fountain. Having passed this monument, and having lingered a moment on the terrace of the church of St. Peter Montorio, which commands... more...

CHAPTER I. The Pleasant Fiction of the Presumption of Innocence There was a great to-do some years ago in the city of New York over an ill-omened young person, Duffy by name, who, falling into the bad graces of the police, was most incontinently dragged to headquarters and "mugged" without so much as "By your leave, sir," on the part of the authorities. Having been photographed and measured (in most humiliating fashion) he was turned loose with... more...

CHAPTER I. THE STATISTICS OF CRIME. It is only within the present century, and in some countries it is only within the present generation, that the possibility has arisen of conducting the study of criminal problems on anything approaching an exact and scientific basis. Before the introduction of a system of criminal statistics—a step taken by most peoples within the memory of men still living—it was impossible for civilised... more...

I WHAT IS CRIME?   There can be no sane discussion of "crime" and "criminals" without an investigation of the meaning of the words. A large majority of men, even among the educated, speak of a "criminal" as if the word had a clearly defined meaning and as if men were divided by a plain and distinct line into the criminal and the virtuous. As a matter of fact, there is no such division, and from the nature of things, there never can be... more...


One September afternoon in 1751, towards half-past five, about a score of small boys, chattering, pushing, and tumbling over one another like a covey of partridges, issued from one of the religious schools of Chartres. The joy of the little troop just escaped from a long and wearisome captivity was doubly great: a slight accident to one of the teachers had caused the class to be dismissed half an hour earlier than usual, and in consequence of the... more...

CHAPTER I Before beginning our story, we must warn the reader that it will not be worth his while to make researches among contemporary or other records as to the personage whose name it bears. For in truth neither Marie Leroux, widow of Jacques Constantin, nor her accomplice, Claude Perregaud, was of sufficient importance to find a place on any list of great criminals, although it is certain that they were guilty of the crimes with which they... more...

Towards the end of the year 1665, on a fine autumn evening, there was a considerable crowd assembled on the Pont-Neuf where it makes a turn down to the rue Dauphine. The object of this crowd and the centre of attraction was a closely shut, carriage. A police official was trying to force open the door, and two out of the four sergeants who were with him were holding the horses back and the other two stopping the driver, who paid no attention to... more...

Toward the close of the year 1657, a very plain carriage, with no arms painted on it, stopped, about eight o'clock one evening, before the door of a house in the rue Hautefeuille, at which two other coaches were already standing. A lackey at once got down to open the carriage door; but a sweet, though rather tremulous voice stopped him, saying, "Wait, while I see whether this is the place." Then a head, muffled so closely in a black satin mantle... more...

We are sometimes astonished at the striking resemblance existing between two persons who are absolute strangers to each other, but in fact it is the opposite which ought to surprise us. Indeed, why should we not rather admire a Creative Power so infinite in its variety that it never ceases to produce entirely different combinations with precisely the same elements? The more one considers this prodigious versatility of form, the more overwhelming... more...