Criminal Psychology

Hans Gross

Part 6

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But here, also, women find a limit, perhaps because like all weaklings they are afraid to draw the ultimate conclusions. As Leroux says in "De l'Humanit," "If criminals were left to women they would kill them all in the first burst of anger, and if one waited until this burst had subsided they would release them all." The killing points to the easy excitability, the pa.s.sionateness, and the instinctive sense of justice in women which demands immediate revenge for evil deeds. The liberation points to the fact that women are afraid of every energetic deduction of ultimate consequences, i. e., they have no knowledge of real justice. "Men look for reasons, women judge by love; women can love and hate, but they can not be just without loving, nor can they ever learn to value justice." So says Schiller, and how frequently do we not hear the woman's question whether the accused's fate is going to depend on her evidence. If we say yes, there is as a rule a restriction of testimony, a t.i.tillation and twisting of consequences, and this circ.u.mstance must always be remembered. If you want to get truth from a woman you must know the proper time to begin, and what is more important, when to stop. As the old proverb says, and it is one to take to heart: "Women are wise when they act unconsciously; fools when they reflect."

It is a familiar fact that women, committing crimes, go to extremes. It may be correct to adduce, as modern writers do, the weakness of feminine intelligence to social conditions, and it may, perhaps, be for this reason that the future of woman lies in changing the feminine milieu. But also with regard to environment she is an extremist. The most pious woman, as Richelieu says, will not hesitate to kill a troublesome witness. The most complicated crimes are characteristically planned by women, and are frequently swelled with a number of absolutely purposeless criminal deeds.

In this circ.u.mstance we sometimes find the explanation for an otherwise unintelligible crime which, perhaps, indicates also, that the first crime was committed by woman. It is as if she has in turpitude a certain pleasure to which she abandons herself as soon as she has pa.s.sed the limit in her first crime.

Section 73. 3. Quarrels with Women.

This little matter is intended only for very young and inexperienced criminal justices. There is nothing more exciting or instructive than

a quarrel with clever and trained women concerning worthy subjects; but this does not happen in court, and ninety per cent. of our woman witnesses are not to be quarrelled with. There are two occasions on which a quarrel may arise. The first, when we are trying to show a denying prisoner that her crime has already been proved and that her denials are silly, and the second, when we are trying to show a witness that she must know something although she refuses to know it, or when we want to show her the incorrectness of her conclusion, or when we want to lead her to a point where her testimony can have further value. Now a verbal quarrel will hurt the case. This is a matter of ancient experience, for whoever quarrels with women is, as Brne says, in the condition of a man who must unceasingly polish lights.[1]

[1] Several sentences are here omitted.

Women have an obstinacy, and it is no easy matter to be pa.s.sive against it. But in the interest of justice, the part of the wise is not to lose any time by making an exhibition of himself through verbal quarrels with women witnesses. The judge may be thoroughly convinced that his success with the woman may help the case, but such success is very rare, and when he thinks he has it, it is only apparent and momentary, or is merely naive self-deception. For women do like, for the sake of a momentary advantage, to please men and to appear convinced, but the judge for whom a woman does this is in a state that requires consideration.

A few more particulars concerning feminine intelligence. They are, however, only indirectly connected with it, and are as unintelligible as the fact that left-handedness is more frequent and color- blindness less frequent among women than among men. If, however, we are to explain feminine intelligence at all we must do so by conceiving that women's intellectual functioning stops at a definite point and can not pa.s.s beyond it.

Consider their att.i.tude toward money. However distasteful Mammon may be in himself, money is so important a factor in life itself that it is not unintelligibly spoken of as the "majesty of cold cash." But to make incorrect use of an important thing is to be unintelligent. Whoever wastes money is not intelligent enough to understand what important pleasures he may provide for himself and whoever h.o.a.rds it does not know its proper use. Now single women are either h.o.a.rders or wasters; they rarely take the middle way and a.s.sume the prudence of the housewife, which generally develops into miserliness. This is best observable in the foolish

bargaining of women at markets, in their supposing that they have done great things by having reduced the price of their purchase a few cents. Every dealer confirms the fact that the first price he quotes a woman is increased in order to give her a chance to bargain. But she does not bargain down to the proper price, she bargains down to a sum above the proper price, and she frequently buys unnecessary, or inferior things, simply because the dealer was smart enough to captivate her by allowing reductions. This is indicated in a certain criminal case,[1] in which the huckster-woman a.s.serted that she immediately suspected a customer of pa.s.sing counterfeit coins because she did not bargain.

[1] Chronique des Tribunaux, vol II. Bruxelles 1835.

Now this tendency to h.o.a.rd is not essentially miserliness, for the chief purpose of miserliness is to bring together and to own money; to enjoy merely the look of it. This tendency is an unintelligent att.i.tude toward money, a failure to judge its value and properties. Now this failure is one of the reasons for numerous crimes. A woman needing money for her thousand several objects, demands it from her husband, and the latter has to provide it without her asking whether he honestly can or not. A wife is said to be uncurious only with regard to the source of her husband's money. She knows his income, she knows the necessary annual expenses; she can immediately count up the fact that the two are equal--but she calmly asks for more.

Of course, I am not referring to the courageous helpmeet who stands by her husband in bearing the burdens of life. With her the criminalist has nothing to do. I mean only those light-headed, pleasure-loving women, who nowadays make the great majority, and that army of "lovers," who have cost the country a countless number of not unworthy men. The love of women is the key to many a crime, even murder, theft, swindling, and treachery. First, there is the woman's unintelligible arithmetic, then her ceaseless requirements, finally the man's surrender to the limit of his powers; then fresh demands, a long period of opposition, then surrender, and finally one unlawful action. From that it is only a step to a great crime. This is the simple theme of the countless variations that are played in the criminal court. There are proverbs enough to show how thoroughly the public understands this connection between love and money.[2]

[2] Cf. Lombroso and Ferrero, The Female Offender: Tr. by Morrison. N. Y. 1895.

An apparently insignificant feminine quality which is connected with her intelligence is her notorious, "never quite ready." The criminalist meets this when he is looking for an explanation of the failure of some probably extraordinarily intelligent plan of crime. Or when a crime occurs which might have been prevented by a step at the right minute, women are always ten minutes behind the time. But these minutes would not be gained if things were begun ten minutes earlier, and once a woman suffers real damage through tardiness, she resolves to be ten minutes ahead of time. But when she does so she fails in her resolution and this failure is to be explained by lack of intelligence. The little fact that women are never quite on time explains many a difficulty.

Feminine conservatism is as insignificant as feminine punctuality. Lombroso shows how attached women are to old things. Ideas, jewelry, verses, superst.i.tions, and proverbs are better retained by women than by men. n.o.body would venture to a.s.sert that a conservative man must be less intelligent than a liberal. Yet feminine conservatism indicates a certain stupidity, less excitability and smaller capacity for accepting new impressions. Women have a certain difficulty in a.s.similating and reconstructing things, and because of this difficulty they do not like to surrender an object after having received it. Hence, it is well not to be too free with the more honorable attributes such as piety, love, loyalty, respect to what they have already learned; closer investigation discovers altogether too many instances of intellectual rigidity.

In our profession we meet the fact frequently that men pa.s.s much more easily from honesty to dishonesty, and vice versa, that they more easily change their habits, begin new plans, etc. Generalizations, of course, can not be made; each case has to be studied on its merits. Yet, even when questions of fact arise, e. g., in searching houses, it is well to remember the distinction. Old letters, real corpora delicti, are much more likely to be found in the woman's box than in the man's. The latter has destroyed the thing long ago, but the former may "out of piety" have preserved for years even the poison she once used to commit murder with.

Section 74. (b) Honesty.

We shall speak here only of the honesty of the sort of women the courts have most to do with, and in this regard there is little to give us joy. Not to be honest, and to lie, are two different things; the latter is positive, the former negative, the dishonest person

does not tell the truth, the liar tells the untruth. It is dishonest to suppress a portion of the truth, to lead others into mistakes, to fail to justify appearances, and to make use of appearances. The dishonest person may not have said a single untrue word and still have introduced many more difficulties, confusions and deceptions than the liar. He is for this reason more dangerous than the latter. Also, because his conduct is more difficult to uncover and because he is more difficult to conquer than the liar. Dishonesty is, however, a specially feminine characteristic, and in men occurs only when they are effeminate. Real manliness and dishonesty are concepts which can not be united. Hence, the popular proverb says, "Women always tell the truth, but not the whole truth." And this is more accurate than the accusation of many writers, that women lie. I do not believe that the criminal courts can verify the latter accusation. I do not mean that women never lie--they lie enough-- but they do not lie more than men do, and none of us would attribute lying to women as a s.e.xual trait. To do so, would be to confuse dishonesty with lying.

It would be a mistake to deal too sternly in court with the dishonesty of women, for we ourselves and social conditions are responsible for much of it. We dislike to use the right names of things and choose rather to suggest, to remain in embarra.s.sed silence, or to blush. Hence, it is too much to ask that this round-aboutness should be set aside in the courtroom, where circ.u.mstances make straight talking even more difficult. According to Lombroso,[1] women lie because of their weaknesses, and because of menstruation and pregnancy, for which they have in conversation to subst.i.tute other illnesses; because of the feeling of shame, because of the s.e.xual selection which compels them to conceal age, defects, diseases; because finally of their desire to be interesting, their suggestibility, and their small powers of judgment. All these things tend to make them lie, and then as mothers they have to deceive their children about many things. Indeed, they are themselves no more than children, Lombroso concludes. But it is a mistake to suppose that these conditions lead to lying, for women generally acquire silence, some other form of action, or the negative propagation of error. But this is essentially dishonesty. To a.s.sert that deception, lying, have become physiological properties of women is, therefore, wrong. According to Lotze, women hate a.n.a.lysis and hence can not distinguish between the true and the false, but then women hate a.n.a.lysis

only when it is applied to themselves. A woman does not want to be a.n.a.lyzed herself simply because a.n.a.lysis would reveal a great deal of dishonesty; she is therefore a stranger to thorough-going honest activity. But for this men are to blame. n.o.body, as Flaubert says, tells women the truth. And when once they hear it they fight it as something extraordinary. They are not even honest with themselves. But this is not only true in general; it is true also in particular cases which the court room sees. We ourselves make honesty difficult to women before the court. Of course, I do not mean that to avoid this we are to be rude and shameless in our conversation with women, but it is certain that we compel them to be dishonest by our round-about handling of every ticklish subject. Any half-experienced criminal justice knows that much more progress can be made by simple and absolutely open discussion. A highly educated woman with whom I had a frank talk about such a matter, said at the end of this very painful sitting, "Thank G.o.d, that you spoke frankly and without prudery--I was very much afraid that by foolish questions you might compel me to prudish answers and hence, to complete dishonesty."

[1] Loco cit.

We have led women so far by our indirection that according to Stendthal, to be honest, is to them identical with appearing naked in public. Balzac asks, "Have you ever observed a lie in the att.i.tude and manner of woman? Deceit is as easy to them as falling snow in heaven." But this is true only if he means dishonesty. It is not true that it is easy for women really to lie. I do not know whether this fact can be proven, but I am sure the feminine malease in lying can be observed. The play of features, the eyes, the breast, the att.i.tude, betrays almost always even the experienced female offender. Now, nothing can reveal the play of her essential dishonesty. If a man once confesses, he confesses with less constraint than a woman, and he is less likely, even if he is very bad, to take advantage of false favorable appearances, while woman accepts them with the semblance of innocence. If a man has not altogether given a complete version, his failure is easy to recognize by his hesitation, but the opinions of woman always have a definite goal, even though she should tell us only a tenth of what she might know and say.

Even her simplest affirmation or denial is not honest. Her "no" is not definite; e. g., her "no" to a man's demands. Still further, when a man affirms or denies and there is some limitation to his a.s.sertion. He either announces it expressly or the more trained ear

recognizes its presence in the failure to conclude, in a hesitation of the tone. But the woman says "yes" and "no," even when only a small portion of one or the other a.s.serts a truth behind which she can hide herself, and this is a matter to keep in mind in the courtroom.

Also the art of deception or concealment depends on dishonesty rather than on pure deceit, because it consists much more in the use of whatever is at hand, and in suppression of material, than on direct lies. So, when the proverb says that a woman was ill only three times during the course of the year, but each time for four months, it will be unjust to say that she intentionally denies a year- long illness. She does not, but as a matter of fact, she is ill at least thirteen times a year, and besides, her weak physique causes her to feel frequently unwell. So she does not lie about her illness. But then she does not immediately announce her recovery and permits people to nurse and protect her even when she has no need of it. Perhaps she does so because, in the course of the centuries, she found it necessary to magnify her little troubles in order to protect herself against brutal men, and had, therefore, to forge the weapon of dishonesty. So Schopenhauer agrees: "Nature has given women only one means of protection and defence--hypocrisy; this is congenital with them, and the use of it is as natural as the animal's use of its claws. Women feel they have a certain degree of justification for their hypocrisy."

With this hypocrisy we have, as lawyers, to wage a constant battle. Quite apart from the various ills and diseases which women a.s.sume before the judge, everything else is pretended; innocence, love of children, spouses, and parents; pain at loss and despair at reproaches; a breaking heart at separation; and piety,--in short, whatever may be useful. This subjects the examining justice to the dangers and difficulties of being either too harsh, or being fooled. He can save himself much trouble by remembering that in this simulation there is much dishonesty and few lies. The simulation is rarely thorough-going, it is an intensification of something actually there.

And now think of the tears which are wept before every man, and not least, before the criminal judge. Popular proverbs tend to undervalue, often to distrust tearful women. Mantegazza[1] points out that every man over thirty can recall scenes in which it was difficult to determine how much of a woman's tears meant real

pain, and how much was voluntarily shed. In the notion that tears represent a mixture of poetry and truth, we shall find the correct solution. It would be interesting to question female virtuosos in tears (when women see that they can really teach they are quite often honest) about the matter. The questioner would inevitably learn that it is impossible to weep at will and without reason. Only a child can do that. Tears require a definite reason and a certain amount of time which may be reduced by great practice to a minimum, but even that minimum requires some duration. Stories in novels and comic papers in which women weep bitterly about a denied new coat, are fairy tales; in point of fact the lady begins by feeling hurt because her husband refused to buy her the thing, then she thinks that he has recently refused to buy her a dress, and to take her to the theatre; that at the same time he looks unfriendly and walks away to the window; that indeed, she is really a pitiful, misunderstood, immeasurably unhappy woman, and after this crescendo, which often occurs presto prestissimo, the stream of tears breaks through. Some tiny reason, a little time, a little auto- suggestion, and a little imagination,--these can keep every woman weeping eternally, and these tears can always leave us cold. Beware, however, of the silent tears of real pain, especially of hurt innocence. These must not be mistaken for the first. If they are, much harm may be done, for these tears, if they do not represent penitence for guilt, are real evidences of innocence. I once believed that the surest mark of such tears was the deceiving attempt to beat down and suppress them; an attempt which is made with elementary vigor. But even this attempt to fight them off is frequently not quite real.

[1] Fisiologia del dolore. Firenze 1880.

As with tears, so with fainting. The greater number of fainting fits are either altogether false, or something between fainting and wakefulness. Women certainly, whether as prisoners or witnesses, are often very uncomfortable in court, and if the discomfort is followed immediately by illness, dizziness, and great fear, fainting is natural. If only a little exaggeration, auto-suggestion, relaxation, and the attempt to dodge the unpleasant circ.u.mstance are added, then the fainting fit is ready to order, and the effect is generally in favor of the fainter. Although it is wrong to a.s.sume beforehand that fainting is a comedy, it is necessary to beware of deception.

An interesting question, which, thank heaven, does not concern the criminal justice, is whether women can keep their word. When a criminalist permits a woman to promise not to tell anybody else

of her testimony, or some similar navet, he may settle his account with his conscience. The criminalist must not accept promises at all, and he is only getting his reward when women fool him. The fact is, that woman does not know the definite line between right and wrong. Or better, she draws the line in a different way; sometimes more sharply, but in the main more broadly than man, and in many cases she does not at all understand that certain distinctions are not permitted. This occurs chiefly where the boundaries are really unstable, or where it is not easy to understand the personality of the sufferer. Hence, it is always difficult to make woman understand that state, community, or other public weal, must in and for themselves be sacred against all harm. The most honest and pious woman is not only without conscience with regard to dodging her taxes, she also finds great pleasure in having done so successfully. It does not matter what it is she smuggles, she is glad to smuggle successfully, but smuggling is not, as might be supposed, a sport for women, though women need more nervous excitement and sport than men. Their att.i.tude shows that they are really unable to see that they are running into danger because they are violating the law. When you tell them that the state is justified in forbidding smuggling, they always answer that they have smuggled such a very little, that n.o.body would miss the duties. Then the interest in smugglers and smuggling-stories is exceedingly great. We once had a girl who was born on the boundary between Italy and Austria. Her father was a notorious smuggler, the chief of a band that brought coffee and silk across the border. He grew rich in the trade, but he lost everything in an especially great venture, and was finally shot by the customs-officers at the boundary. If you could see with what interest, spirit, and keenness the girl described her father's dubious courses you would recognize that she had not the slightest idea that there was anything wrong in what he was doing.

Women, moreover, do not understand the least regulation. I frequently have had cases in which even intelligent women could not see why it was wrong to make a "small" change in a public register; why it was wrong to give, in a foreign city, a false name at the hotel; or why the police might forbid the shaking of dust-cloths over the heads of pedestrians, even from her "own" house; why the dog must be kept chained; and what good such "vexations" could do, anyway.

Again, tiny bits of private property are not safe from women. Note how impossible it is to make women understand that private

property is despoiled when flowers or fruit are plucked from a private garden. The point is so small, and as a rule, the property owner makes no objections, but it must be granted that he has the right to do so. Then their tendency to steal, in the country, bits of ground and boundaries is well known. Most of the boundary cases we have, involved the activity of some woman.

Even in their own homes women do not conceive property too rigidly. They appropriate pen, paper, pencils, clothes, etc., without having any idea of replacing what they have taken away. This may be confirmed by anybody whose desk is not habitually sacrosanct, and he will agree that it is not slovenliness, but defective sense of property that causes women to do this, for even the most consummate housekeepers do so. This defective property-sense is most clearly shown in the notorious fact that women cheat at cards. According to Lombroso, an educated, much experienced woman told him in confidence that it is difficult for her s.e.x not to cheat at cards. Croupiers in gambling halls know things much worse. They say that they must watch women much more than men because they are not only more frequent cheaters, but more expert. Even at croquet and lawn-tennis girls are unspeakably smart about cheating if they can thereby put their masculine opponents impudently at a disadvantage.

We find many women among swindlers, gamblers, and counterfeiters; and moreover, we have the evidence of experienced housewives, that the cleverest and most useful servants are frequently thievish. What is instructive in all these facts is the indefiniteness of the boundary between honesty and dishonesty, even in the most petty cases. The defect in the sense of property with regard to little things explains how many a woman became a criminal-- the road she wandered on grew, step by step, more extended. There being no definite boundary, it was inevitable that women should go very far, and when the educated woman does nothing more than to steal a pencil from her husband and to cheat at whist, her sole fortune is that she does not get opportunities or needs for more serious mistakes. The uneducated, poverty-stricken woman has, however, both opportunity and need, and crime becomes very easy to her. Our life is rich in experiment and our will too weak not to fail under the exigencies of existence, if, at the outset, a slightest deviation from the straight and narrow road is not avoided. If the justice is in doubt whether a woman has committed a great crime against property, his study will concern, not the deed, but

the time when the woman was in different circ.u.mstances and had no other opportunity to do wrong than mere nibbling at and otherwise foolish abstractions from other people's property. If this inclination can be proved, then there is justification for at least suspecting her of the greater crime.

The relation of women to such devilment becomes more instructive when it has to be discovered through woman witnesses. As a rule, there is no justification for the a.s.sumption that people are inclined to excuse whatever they find themselves guilty of. On the contrary, we are inclined to punish others most harshly where we ourselves are most guilty. And there is still another side to the matter. When an honest, well-conducted woman commits petty crimes, she does not consider them as crimes, she is unaware of their immorality, and it would be illogical for her to see as a crime in others that which she does not recognize as a crime in herself. It is for this reason that she tends to excuse her neighbor's derelictions. Now, when we try to find out from feminine witnesses facts concerning the objects on which we properly lay stress, they do not answer and cause us to make mistakes. What woman thinks is mere "sweet- tooth" in her servant girl, is larceny in criminal law; what she calls "pin-money," we call deceit, or violation of trust; for the man whom the woman calls "the dragon," we find in many cases quite different terms. And this feminine att.i.tude is not Christian charity, but ignorance of the law, and with this ignorance we have to count when we examine witnesses. Of course, not only concerning some theft by a servant girl, but always when we are trying to understand some human weakness.

From honesty to loyalty is but a step. Often these traits lie side by side or overlap each other. Now, the criminal justice has, more frequently than appears, to deal with feminine loyalty. Problems of adultery are generally of subordinate significance only, but this loyalty or disloyalty often plays the most important rle in trials of all conceivable crimes, and the whole problem of evidence takes a different form according to the a.s.sumption that this loyalty does, or does not, exist. Whether it is the murder of a husband, doubtful suicide, physical mutilation, theft, perversion of trust, arson, the case takes a different form if feminine disloyalty can be proved. The rare reference to this important premise in the presentation of evidence is due to the fact that we are ignorant of its significance, that its determinative factors are hidden, and finally that its presentation is as a rule difficult. Public opinion on feminine loyalty is not flattering. Diderot a.s.serts that there is no loyal woman who has not ceased being so, at least, in her imagination. Of course this does not mean much, for all of us have ideally committed many sins, but if Diderot is right, one may a.s.sume a feminine inclination to disloyalty. Most responsible for this is, of course, the purely s.e.xual character of woman, but we must not do her the injustice, and ourselves the harm, of supposing that this character is the sole regulative principle; the illimitable feminine need for change is also responsible to a great degree. I doubt whether it could be proved in any collection of cases worth naming that a woman grew disloyal although her s.e.xual needs were small; but that her s.e.x does so is certain, and thence we must seek other reasons for their disloyalty. The love of change is fundamental and may be observed in recorded criminal cases. "Even educated women," says Goltz,[1] "can not bear continuous and uniform good fortune, and feel an inconceivable impulse to devilment and foolishness in order to get some variety in life." Now it will be much easier for the judge to determine whether the woman in the case had at the critical time an especial inclination to this "devilment," than to discover whether her own husband was s.e.xually insufficient, or whatever similar secrets might be involved.

If woman, however, once has the impulse to seek variety, and the harmless and permissible changes she may provide herself are no longer sufficient or are lacking, the movement of her daily life takes a questionable direction. Then there is a certain tendency to deceit which is able to bring its particular consequences to bear. A woman has married, let us say, for love, or for money, for spite, to please her parents, etc., etc. Now come moments in her life in which she reflects concerning "her" reason for marriage, and the cause of these moments will almost always be her husband, i. e., he may have been ill-mannered, have demanded too much, have refused something, have neglected her, etc., and thus have wounded her so that her mood, when thinking of the reason of her marriage, is decidedly bad, and she begins to doubt whether her love was really so strong, whether the money was worth the trouble, whether she ought not to have opposed her parents, etc. And suppose she had waited, might she not have done better? Had she not deserved better? Every step in her musing takes her farther [1] Bogumil Goltz: Zur Charakteristik u. Naturgeschichte der Frauen. Berlin 1863.

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<349> from her husband. A man is nothing to a woman to whom he is not everything, and if he is nothing he deserves no especial consideration, and if he is undeserving, a little disloyalty is not so terrible, and finally, the little disloyalty gradually and naturally and smoothly leads to adultery, and adultery to a chain of crimes. That this process is not a thousand times more frequent, is merely due to the accident that the right man is not at hand during these so-called weak moments. Millions of women who boast of their virtue, and scorn others most n.o.bly, have to thank their boasted virtue only to this accident. If the right man had been present at the right time they would have had no more ground for pride. There is only a simple and safe method for discovering whether a woman is loyal to her husband--lead her to say whether her husband neglects her. Every woman who complains that her husband neglects her is an adulteress or in the way of becoming one, for she seeks the most thrifty, the really sound reason which would justify adultery. How close she has come to this sin is easily discoverable from the degree of intensity with which she accuses her husband.

These facts serve not only to explain the crime, but to reveal the criminal. If we succeed, other things being equal, in adducing

a number of feminine characteristics with one of which the cruelty of the crime may be connected and explained, we have a clew to the criminal. The instances mentioned,--the motherly care of house and family, frugality, miserliness, hardness to servants, cruelty to aged parents,--seem rare and not altogether rational, yet they occur frequently and give the right clew to the criminal. There are still other similar combinations. Everybody knows feminine love for trials at court, for the daily paper's reports of them, and for public executions. While the last were still common in Austria, newspapers concluded regularly with the statement that the "tender" s.e.x was the great majority of the crowd that witnessed them. At public executions women of the lower cla.s.s; at great trials, women of the higher, make up the auditors and spectators. Here the movement from eagerness, curiosity, through the desire for vigorous nervous stimulation, to hard-heartedness and undeniable cruelty, is clear enough.

There would be nothing for us to do with this fact if we had not to deal with the final expression of cruelty, i. e., murder; especially the specifically feminine forms of murder,--child-murder and poisoning. These, of course, in particular the former, involve abnormal conditions which are subjects for the physician. At the same time it is the judge who examines and sentences, and he is required to understand these conditions and to consider every detail that may help him in drawing his conclusion.

That poisoning is mainly a feminine crime is a familiar fact of which modern medico-legal writers have spoken much; even the ancient authors, not medical, like Livy, Tacitus, etc., have mentioned it. It is necessary, therefore, carefully to study the feminine character in order to understand how and why women are given to this form of murder. To do so we need consider, however, only the ordinary factors of the daily life; the extraordinary conditions, etc., are generally superfluous.

Every crime that is committed is committed when the reasons for doing it outweigh the reasons for not doing it. This is true even of pa.s.sional crimes, for a pro and contra must have presented themselves in spite of the lightninglike swiftness of the act. One appeared and then the other, the pro won and the deed was done. In other crimes this conflict lasts at least so long as to be definitely observable, and in the greater crimes it will, as a rule, take more time and more motive. The principles of good and of evil will really battle with each other, and when the individual is so depraved as no longer to

have good principles, their place is taken by fear of discovery and punishment, and by the question whether the advantage to be gained is worth the effort, etc. The commission of the crime is itself evidence that the reasons for it were all-powerful. Now suppose that a woman gets the idea of killing somebody. Here for a time pro and contra will balance each other, and when the latter are outweighed she will think that she *must commit murder. If she does not think so she will not do so. Now, every murder, save that by poison, requires courage, the power to do, and physical strength. As woman does not possess these qualities, she spontaneously makes use of poison. Hence, there is nothing extraordinary or significant in this fact, it is due to the familiar traits of woman. For this reason, when there is any doubt as to the murderer in a case of poisoning, it is well to think first of a woman or of a weak, effeminate man.

The weakness of woman will help us in still another direction. It is easily conceivable that all forms of weakness will seek support and a.s.sistance, whether physical or moral. The latter is inclined in cases of need to make use, also, of such a.s.sistance as may be rendered by personal inward reflection. Now this reflection may be on the one hand, dissuasion, on the other hand persuasion, self- persuasion; the first subduing self-reproach, the latter, fear of discovery. Hence, a woman will try to persuade not only herself, but others also that she was justified in her course and will a.s.sign as reason, bad treatment. Now there might have been some bad treatment, but it will have been altered and twisted so utterly as to lose its original form and to become imaginatively unbearable. Thus, a series of conclusions from the reactions of the suspect to her environment may be easily found, and these are the more convincing if they have occurred within a rather long period of time, in which they may be chronologically arranged, and from which a slow and definite intensification, usque ad ultimum, can be proved. Such an a.n.a.lysis is, of course, troublesome, but if done systematically, almost always rich in results.

The tricks of persuasion which are to suppress the fears of discovery are always helps of another sort. As a rule they are general, and point to the fact that the crime contemplated had occurred before without danger, that everything was intelligently provided for, etc. Now these circ.u.mstances are less dangerous, but they require consideration when they count on certain popular views, especially superst.i.tions and certain customs and a.s.sumptions. Suppose, for example, that a young wife wants to get rid of her

old husband whom she had married for the sake of his money. Now certain proverbs point to the fact that old men who marry young women die soon after marriage. This popular view may be entirely justified in the fact that the complete alteration in the mode of life, the experience of uncustomary things, the excitement, the extreme tension, then the effort in venere, finally, perhaps also the use of popularly well-known stimulants, etc., may easily cause weakening, sickening, and as conclusion the death of the old man. But the public does not draw this kind of inference, it simply a.s.sumes, without asking the reason, that when an old man marries a young woman, he dies. Therefore a young wife may easily think, "If I make use of poison n.o.body will wonder, n.o.body will see anything suspicious about the death. It is only an event which is universally supposed to happen. The old man died because he married me." Such ideas may easily seduce an uneducated woman and determine her conduct. Of course, they are not subject to observation, but they are not beyond control, if the popular views concerning certain matters are known as the views which determine standards. Therefore their introduction into the plot of the suspect may help us in drawing some useful inference.[1]

With regard to child-murder the consideration of psychopathic conditions need not absolutely be undertaken. Whether they are present must, of course, be determined, and therefore it is first of all necessary to learn the character of the suspect's conduct. The opportunity for this is given in any text-book on legal medicine, forensic psychopathology, and criminal psychology. There are a good many older authors.[2] Most of the cases cited by authorities show that women in the best of circ.u.mstances have behaved innumerable times in such a way that if they had been poor girls child-murder would immediately have been a.s.sumed. Again, they have shown that the sweetest and most harmless creatures become real beasts at the time of accouchement, or shortly after it develop an unbelievable hatred toward child and husband. Many a child- murder may possibly be explained by the habit of some animals of consuming their young immediately after giving birth to them. Such cases bind us in every trial for child-murder to have the mental state of the mother thoroughly examined by a psychiatrist, and to [1] Cf H. Gross's Archiv. I, 306, III, 88, V, 207, V, 290.

[2] Wigand: Die Geburt des Mensehen. Berlin 1830. Klein ber Irrtum bei Kindesmord, Harles Jahrbuch, Vol. 3. Burdach Gerichts

interpret everything connected with the matter as psychologist and humanitarian. At the same time it must not be forgotten that one of the most dangerous results is due to this att.i.tude. Lawmakers have without further consideration kept in mind the mental condition of the mother and have made child-murder much less punishable than ordinary murder. It is inferred, therefore, that it is unnecessary to study the conditions which cause it. This is dangerous, because it implies the belief that the case is settled by giving a minimum sentence, where really an infinity of grades and differences may enter. The situation that the law-maker has studied is one among many, the majority of which we have yet to apprehend and to examine.

Section 76. (d) Emotional Disposition and Related Subjects.

Madame de Krdener writes in a letter to Bernardin de St. Pierre: "Je voulais tre sentie." These laconic words of this wise pietist give us an insight into the significance of emotional life of woman. Man wants to be understood, woman felt. With this emotion she spoils much that man might do because of his sense of justice. Indeed, a number of qualities which the woman uses to make herself noted are bound up with her emotional life, more or less. Compa.s.sion, self-sacrifice, religion, superst.i.tion,--all these depend on the highly developed, almost diseased formation of her emotional life. Feminine charity, feminine activity as a nurse, feminine pet.i.tions for the pardon of criminals, infinite other samples of women's kindly dispositions must convince us that these activities are an integral part of their emotional life, and that women perform them only, perhaps, in a kind of dark perception of their own helplessness. On the one side an unconscious egoism impels them to the defence of those who find themselves in a *similar condition; on the other side, it is a feminine characteristic to apply anything she is to judge to herself first, and then to make her choice. That she does this, rests on the eminent overweight of emotion. So Schopenhauer says: "Women are very sympathetic, but they are behind man in all matters of justice, probity, and scrupulous conscientiousness. Injustice is the fundamental feminine defect."[1] Schopenhauer should have added, "because they are too sympathetic, because emotion takes up so much place in their minds that they have not enough left for justice." According to Proudhon, "The conscience of woman [1] Parerga and Paralipomena.

is as much weaker than man's as her intelligence is smaller. Her morality is of a different sort, her ideas of right and wrong are different, being always on this or that side of justice, and never requiring any equivalence between rights and duties which are such a painful necessity to man." Spencer says,[1] briefly, that the feminine mind shows a definite lack with regard to the sense of justice.

These a.s.sertions show that women are deficient in justice, but do not show why. The deficiency is to be explained only in the super- abundance of emotional life. This superabundance clarifies a number of facts of their daily routine. We have, of course, to make a distinction between the feeling of a gentlewoman, of a peasant woman, and of the innumerable grades between the two, but this distinction is not essential. Both n.o.ble and proletarian are equally unjust, but the rich emotion restores a thousand times what may be missing in justice, and perhaps in many cases. .h.i.ts better upon what is absolutely right than the bare masculine sense of justice. We are, of course, frequently mistaken by relying on the testimony of women, but only when we a.s.sume that our rigorously judicial sentence is the only correct one, and when we do not know how women judge. Hence, we interpret women's testimonies with difficulty and rarely with correctness; we forget that almost every feminine statement contains in itself much more judgment than the testimony of men; we fail to examine how much real judgment it contains; and finally, we weigh this judgment in other scales than those used by the woman. We do best, therefore, when we take the testimony of man and woman together in order to find the right average. This is not easy, for we are unable to enter properly into the emotional life of woman, and can not therefore discount that tendency of hers to drag the objective truth in some biased direction. It might be theoretically supposed that a n.o.ble, kindly, feminine feeling would tend to reflect everything as better and gentler, and would tend to excuse and conceal. If that were so we might have a definite standard of valuation, and might be able to discount the feminine bias. But that is so in perhaps no more than half the cases that come before us. In all others woman has allowed herself to be moved to displeasure, and appears as the punishing avenger. Hence, she fights with all her strength on the side that seems to her to be oppressed and innocently persecuted, irrespective of whether it is [1] Introduction to the Study of Sociology.

the side of the accused or of his enemy. In consequence, we must first of all, when judging her statements, determine the direction in which her emotion impels her, and this can not be done with a mere knowledge of human nature. Nothing will do except a careful study of the specific feminine witness at the time she gives her evidence. And this requires the expenditure of much time, for, to plunge directly into the middle of things without having any means of comparison or relation, is to make judgment impossible or very unsafe. If you are to do it at all you must discuss other things first and even permit yourself the dishonesty of asking about matters which you already know in order to find some measure of the degree of feminine obliqueness. Of course, one discovers here only the degree of obliqueness, not its direction--in the case selected for comparison the woman might have judged too kindly, in the case in hand she may just as well be too rigorous. But all things have a definite limit, and hence, much practice and much goodwill will help us to discover the direction of obliqueness.

When we inquire into the emotional life of the simple, uneducated women, we find it to be fundamentally the same as that of women of other, but different in expression, and it is the expression we have to observe. Its form is often raw, therefore difficult to discover. It may express itself in cursing and swearing, but it is still an expression of emotion, just as are the mother's curses or beatings of her child because it has fallen and hurt itself. But observe that the prevalence of emotion is so thoroughly a feminine condition that it is clearly noticeable only where femininity itself is explicit-- therefore, always weaker among masculine women, and in the single individual most powerful when femininity is most fully developed. It grows in the child, remains at a constant level when woman becomes completely woman, and decreases when, in advanced age, the differences in s.e.x begin to disappear. Very old men and very old women are also in this matter very close together.

Section 77. (e) Weakness.

"Frailty, thy name is woman," says Shakespeare, and Corvin explains this in teasing fashion: "Women pray every day, `Lead us not into temptation, for see, dear G.o.d, if you do so I can't resist it.' " Even Kant[1] takes feminine weakness as a distinguishing criterion: "In order to understand the whole of mankind we need [1] Menschenkunde. Leipzig 1831.

only to turn our attention to the feminine s.e.x, for where the force is weaker the tool is so much the more artistic." Experienced criminalists explain the well-known fact that women are the chief sources of anonymous letters by their weakness. From the physical inferiority of woman her mental inferiority may be deduced, and though we learn a hundred times that small, weak men can be mentally stronger than great and strong ones, it is,

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