The Fertility of the Unfit by William Allan Chapple


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Project Gutenberg's The Fertility of the Unfit, by William Allan Chapple

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: The Fertility of the Unfit

Author: William Allan Chapple

Commentator: Rutherford Waddell

Release Date: July 10, 2005 [EBook #16254]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at

The Fertility of the Unfit


W.A. CHAPPLE, M.D., Ch.B., M.R.C.S., D.P.H.





The problem with which Dr. Chapple deals in this book is one of extreme
gravity. It is also one of pressing importance. The growth of the
Criminal is one of the most ominous clouds on every national horizon. In
spite of advances in criminology the rate of increase is so alarming
that the "Unfit" threatens to be to the new Civilization what the Hun
and Vandal were to the old. How to deal with this dangerous class is
perhaps the most serious question that faces Sociologists at this hour.
And something must be done speedily, else our civilization is in
imminent peril of being swamped by the increasingly disproportionate
progeny of the Criminal.

Various methods have from time to time been suggested to ward off this
danger. In my judgment one of the most effective has yet to be tried in
the Colony--the system of indeterminate sentences. Nothing can be more
futile than the present method of criminal procedure. After a certain
stated period in gaol, we allow Criminals--even of the most dangerous
character--to go out free without making the slightest effort to secure
that they are fit to be returned to society. We quarantine the
plague-stricken or small-pox ship, and keep the passengers isolated till
the disease is eradicated. But we send up the Criminal only for a
definite time, and at the end of that, he is allowed to go at large even
though we may know he is a more dangerous character than when he entered
the gaol. This is egregious folly.

Dr. Chapple's treatise, however, takes things as they are. He proposes
to save society from the multiplication of its Criminals by a remedy of
the most radical kind. When he was good enough to ask me to write a
preface for his book I hesitated somewhat. I read the substance of it in
MS.S. and was deeply impressed by it. But still I am in some doubt. I am
not quite prepared to accept at once Dr. Chapple's proposed remedy.
Neither am I prepared to reject it. I am simply an enquirer, trying to
arrive at the truth regarding this clamant social problem. The time has
certainly come when the issues raised in Dr. Chapple's book must be
faced. It is very desirable therefore, that the public should have these
put before it in a frank, cautious way, by experts who understand what
they are writing about, and have a due sense of the grave
responsibilities involved. Dr. Chapple's contribution seems to me very
fully to satisfy these requirements. No doubt both his premises and
conclusions are open to criticism at various points. It is, indeed, not
unlikely that the plan whereby he proposes to limit the "fertility of
the Unfit" may come with a sort of shock to some readers.

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