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The reader is also presented with the views of the most eminent Jewish writers, including Josephus, in order to show the profound reverence in which Jesus was held even by his enemies. All admit that he performed miracles, an admission which is also made by the principal Greek and Roman writers of the first five centuries after Christ. But the work must be read in order to be appreciated ; nor must it be supposed that it is intended exclusively for the young. Indeed, there are passages in it which none but those who are well educated can thoroughly understand. This is true of the “Critical Notes,” which contain quotations in Greek and Latin, as well as in French and German, and which are taken from the works of various writers, both Catholic and Protestant, the laudable object of the author being not to glorify any sect, but to prove that Jesus was really the Son of God.
Communication from the Governor, transmitting the Annual Report of the
Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Police; transmitted to the
The contents of this pamphlet are much more interesting than its title would imply. The commissioners do not make elaborate statements, but they present us startling and instructive facts; indeed, there are materials for an octavo volume in this slender brochure. Without such information as it embraces, no one can understand the science of government. No general description of New York and its inhabitants, however graphically and elegantly written, could give a more truthful and striking picture of our moral, religious, and social position than this report.
But in order that it may serve this purpose, it must be read thoughtfully; the results must be traced to their causes. The moralist or legislator who has no idea of repressing crime, save by punishment, is one only in name; nor can any one be called a philanthropist who will not . take the trouble to enquire whether the votary of crime or vice has not been exposed to influences of which his worst acts may be regarded as the natural results. We trust we need hardly gay we do not mean that this would justify him; but it would disarm the resentment which it is natural we should feel against those who injure us without cause, and consequently secure to the culprit a dispassionate sentence.
Yet we would have the enquiry made more with a view to the future than to the past; more for prevention than cure; bearivg in mind that the chief brutalizers of the human race are ignorance and poverty, and that in general the latter is consequent on the former. But let us hear what is the experience of those who know our people best; for it seems to us that they relate it candidly and impartially. Did we see any reason for the contrary opinion, we should take no notice of their report, for it is but rarely, if ever, that any useful lesson is learned from prejudice and
passion. In referring to the various causes of crime, the commissioners speak of war and its consequences as follows:
“ The state of war is the school of violence and crime. The fruits of its instruction exhibit themselves mainly in cities, and most of all, in the metropolis. It is observed that during the war there has been a marked tendency to crimes of violence towards persons, and other crimes of the graver character, while petty offences have not increased in proportion. Probably in no city in the civilized world, not the theatre of actual war, is human life so lightly prized and subjected to as great hazards from violence as in New York and Brooklyn. In no other such city does the machinery of criminal justice so signally fail to restrain or punish serious and capital offences.
“This is a startling proposition, but it is seen and felt by all classes of prudent and sober-minded people.
" There were arrested by the Metropolitan Police, for crimes of violence of a serious character in 1863 and 1864 respectively, as follows :
1863. 1864. For felonious assault .....
assault on policemen
48 maiming manslaughter... threatening life....
462 35 29 88
6 10 34 30
"A small portion of this mass of high crime has received the punishment provided by the laws. The fault, if any exists, is somewhere beyond the power of the police.
During the year ending the 30th November, five members of the police force have met their deaths by violence from the hands of desperate ruffians, great numbers of whom infest the city."-p. 7.
After giving the names of the policemen who have been the victims of this violence, the commissioners make the following just and pertinent observations:
“This has occurred during the year which has not been marked by any serious riot or mob. The city of New York ought to be not only as healthy and attractive a residence as any city in the world, but it should be as safe for both persons and property ; yet its property is fearfully menaced by fires and robberies ; and persons are in startling peril from criminal violence. This lamentable state of things is due, in a great measure, to a tardy and inefficient administration of justice, aggravated by the existing state of war."--p. 8.
It is creditable to the commissioners that they have thus the boldness to tell the truth, even in regard to those charged with the administration of justice; who, it is notorious, allow the guilty to escape rather than that they should lose a few votes when they are again candidates for a seat on the bench. Nor can it seem strange, on reflection, that they do so, since it is the class that furnish most criminals that are chiefly instrumental in electing them. There is no orderly citizen who will not agree with the commissioners in the opinion that the dangerous and growing habit, on the part of the vicious and ill-disposed, of carrying concealed weapons, ought to be prevented, as far as possible, by suitable legislation:
“Since the commencement of the civil war, the practice of carrying concealed deadly weapons by the violent and vicious classes of the city, has become common. The practice of taking human life on slight or no provocation, has fearfully increased. Affrays which, if the parties were not armed, would end in assault and batteries, are likely to result in murders or homicides, where deadly weapons are present.
“ The five members of the police force who are mentioned as having been killed by violence, were all shot by pistols in the hands of ruffians whom they were attempting to arrest ; and several of those who are reported as badly wounded were assaulted with fire-arms and knives and other deadly weapons.
" It would greatly conduce to the good order of society, and to the personal safety of the citizen if a law were passed rendering it a crime to carry concealed deadly weapons.”—p. 12.
It is idle to expect that a city like New York, which now contains over a million of inhabitants, can be effectually protected from the consequences of riots without a disciplined force. It is much better for the illdisposed themselves that such a force should be at hand ; its moral effect alone would prevent many a riot. There can be no greater error than to urge that there should be no troops retained in a large city or its vicinity lest they should be regarded as menacing the citizens. Had there been only two or three military companies at hand when the riots of July, 1863, commenced, neither our peaceable citizens nor the rioters themselves would have sustained one-tenth the amount of injury they did ; and we are, therefore, of opinion that the following suggestions deserve consideration :
“No city or municipality is secure against the occurrence of circumstances requiring a resort to the military power to suppress violent proceedings. The law recognises and provides for such exigencies even in the rural districts of the State. In the metropolitan district there are likely to be frequent occasions for resort to the military force. The process of notifying and mustering the militia is quite too slow for such exigencies, and is calculated to increase the excitement and panic incident to such occasions, and to aggravate the danger of collisions. Calling out the militia is attended with great expense. It is a serious interruption of the business avocations of the members of the corps. The citizen soldier ought to be relieved as far as is consistent with the public welfare, from the hard duty of using fire-arms upon a citizen mob. These and other considerations combine in support of the suggestion that a brigade of the police force, say 500 in number, (of the existing force) be organized in military form and instructed in the manual of arms, and in evolutions adapted to service in cities. This brigade to be used as a military force only under such grave circumstances as now authorize the board of police to call out the military of the district in aid of the civil authority. Such a force, well drilled, accustomed to' act together, at all times ready for duty, capable of being called out without adding to the public excitement, and without the knowledge of the hostile parties, would, it is believed, be able to defeat or arrest in their inception violent attempts to disturb the peace of the city.”—p. 10.
It seems to us that the only objection to this plan is that rioters are never so much afraid of the police, however well disciplined and armed, as they are of the military. We have seen the best disciplined and bravest police in the world forced to retire by the mob in more than one European city; whereas we have seen half the number of military restore order without the loss of a single life. And the same remarks which we apply to the police apply with really equal force to the militia ; the rioters, when engaged in large bodies and strongly excited, do not fear the latter more than the former.
For our own part, we have never had much faith in a voluntary fire department for a large city, or indeed for any city worthy of the name; we have always been of opinion that it would be much cheaper, as well as safer, for the city to pay its firemen, and we have discussed the subject accordingly, froin time to time, in different journals. We hold that the police commissioners ought to be good judges as to the relative merits of the two systems; they are decidedly in favor of the paid system, and the following are among the cogent reasons which they assign for coming to that conclusion:
" It will appear, by reference to the last report of the chief engineer of the fire department, that of the 3,960 members, over 1,000 report themselves as residing at the several engine houses ; large numbers have no other home and no other employment than volunteer firemen. Such a course of life is fatal to the men and fearfully mischievous to society.
“ Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Cincinnati formerly possessed five departments, organized on the voluntary principle. It is understood that the rowdyism and violent practices fostered in these organizations became intolerable, and led to the adoption of the paid system as the only remedy. The reports of the departments of these cities claim that a most valuable reform has resulted from the change.
“ This city has experienced the same evil in no small degree, and would, no doubt, realise a like improvement from a similar change. Believing that the character of the department would be improved, its efficiency enlarged, and the public relieved of a source of disorder and apprehension by the measure, this board urge the adoption of the pay system for firemen, the substitution of steam engines for hand machines and horses in place of men to move the apparatus."-p. 12.
We have reproduced this passage all the more cheerfully, because we see that some of our learned jurists have discovered that the new law abolishing the voluntary system and adop ting the paid system in its stead is unconstitutional. Nor can we say that we are surprised at the fact nay, for the reasons already assigned, it is precisely what we had expected. That our firemen have exercised considerable influence at oor elections is notorious; it is equally notorious that they are opposed to the new lawthat is, they would prefer to work for nothing than get pay!
is easy to understand, then, that they will be very grateful to those learned jurists and patriots who have discovered that the old system cannot be discontinued without violating the constitution.
The Report of the Board of Surgeons, embraced in that of the Commissioners, contains many painful facts—facts which claim the earnest attention of every friend of humanity. Such is true, for example of the following:
“We have in the city of New York, at the present time, upwards of one million of inhabitants, of whom five hundred thousand live in tenement houses. Over fifteen thousand of this latter number dwell in cellars. The larger proportion of the five hundred thousand are subjected to the tender mercies of grasping landlords, and are forced, from poverty and want of legislative protection, to live under conditions productive of diseases of the gravest character. Huddled together like cattle, in apartments where ventilation is imperfect and frequently impossible, with but few facilities for ablution ; surrounded by a vitiated atmosphere, and subjected to all nuisances of a large city, this class is condemned to a process of slow but inevitable poisoning.”-p 48.
Lest any might be so skeptical as to question the truth of this, the surgeons give illustrative instances as follows:
“ The cases in illustration will perhaps not be inappropriate. At No. 22 Roosevelt street is a house two stories high, 38 feet deep, 18 feet wide, and with an average of seven feet between joints. In this house there are now living five families, twenty-four persons, averaging three hundred and thirty-nine cubic feet per person. There are no windows in the rear, no sewer in the street. There is an open privy vault in the yard.
“At No. 17 Cherry street is a four story house, seven feet between floors. The house is sixteen feet wide, and contains at the present time forty-eight persons. Each one has but two hundred and eighty cubic feet. There is no ventilation except through the front windows. There is no sewer, and an open privy vault.
• At No. 293 West 33d street there are sixteen rooms and sixteen families thirty-eight adults and twenty-two children. The sinks are all stopped ; there is no water in the house ; there is no sewerage and no privy conveniences, except open vaults not connected with the sewer. Over twenty cases of typhoid fever have occurred in this house within the last four months.
Now we think that those who are so much concerned for the spiritual condition of the heathen off in Africa and Asia, would do well to look at this state of affairs nearer home, and ask their own consciences, whether it would not be as pious, after all- as much in accordance with the principles of Christianity — to give their suffering neighbors & portion of the money sent so lavishly to those distant countries, in the shape of bibles and tracts. Far be it for us to undervalue the Scriptures; but the heathen cannot be forced to read them; whereas the wretched people above described would need no force, but would be grateful for the services rendered them,
The Report gives very full and apparently accurate tables of statistics. These teach useful lessons, and to those who would read them thoughtfully they are painfully eloquent. But we can only allude to them on the present occasion. We confess we had no idea that so large a portion of those arrested in this city are females. We transcribe one of the shortest of these tables and with it close our extracts. TOTAL NUMBER OF ARRESTS IN EACH PRECINCT FOR THE YEAR ENDING OCTOBER 31st, 1864.
Males. Fems. Total. Precinct.
Males. Fems. Total. 236 1,217 18.
867 404 1,271 1,176 171 1,347 19.
629 248 877 960 223 1,183 20.
805 438 1,243 2,475 1,681 4,156 21.
378 1,200 1,917 1,249 3,166 22.
188 656 2,198 2,136 4,334 23.
236 104 340 1,102 493 1,595 24.
160 4 1.64 2,075 1,334 3,409 25.
520 86 606 702 237 939 | 26
202 1,323 1,602 852 2,454 ; 27.
804 2,406 711 263 974 28
426 1,321 233 69' 302 29.
778 373 1,115 874 372 1,246 30
41 14 55 1,223 897 2,120 31
90 25 115 1,881 923 2,804 32.
103 14 123 1,233 428 1,661 Different squads, 4,287 2,569 6,856 1,086 550 1,636 | Detective squad, 360 87 447
36,273 18,478 54,751