The million-peopled city
Their especial Claim, when resident in London.
But if this class demands sympathy, when it is considered as existing throughout the United Kingdom at large, if we consider it as existing in London, it should still more call forth such feelings. The number of juvenile criminals supplied from the metropolis bears a very large proportion indeed to the whole number from the country at large, and while it continues steadily to decrease throughout the country, it as steadily continues to increase in London. The reasons of this are probably truly stated by the Recorder of Birmingham, ., in the following paragraph:-
" I think it will not require any long train of reflection to shew that in small towns there must be a sort of natural police, of a very wholesome kind, operating upon the conduct of each individual, who lives, as it were, under the public eye; but in a large town he lives, if he choose, in absolute obscurity, and we know that large towns are sought by way of refuge, because of that obscurity, which, to a certain extent, gives impunity. Again, there is another cause, which I have never seen much noticed, but which, 'having observed its operation for many years, I am disposed to consider very important, and that is, the gradual separation of classes which takes place in towns by a custom which has gradually grown up, that every person who can afford it lives out of town, and at a spot distant from his place of business. Now this was not so formerly; it is a habit, which has, practically speaking, grown up within the last half-century. The result of the old habit was, that rich and poor lived in proximity, and the superior classes exer- cised that species of silent but very efficient control over their neighbours to which I have already referred. They are now gone, and the consequence is, that large masses of
|population are gathered together without those wholesome influences which operated upon them when their congrega- tion was more mixed; when they were divided, so to speak, by having persons of a different class of life, better educated, among them. These two causes, namely, the magnitude of towns and the separation of classes, have acted concurrently, and the effect has been, that we find in many large towns which I am acquainted with, that in certain quarters there is a public opinion and a public standard of morals very different to what we are accustomed to, and very different to what we should desire to see. Then the children who are born amongst those masses, grow up under that opinion, and make that standard of morals their own, and with them the best lad or the best man is he who can obtain subsistence, or satisfy the wants of life, with the least labour, by begging or by stealing, and who shows the greatest dexterity in accomplishing his object, and the greatest wariness in escaping the penalties of the law, and, lastly, the greatest power of endurance and defiance when he comes under the lash of the law."|