7 AUGUST 1852, Page 1

The Summer Assizes are drawing to a close. There has

been no great pressure at any of-them, and "maiden assizes" have not been singular. This fact rather militates against the views of certain Anti-Free-trade alarmists, who, assuming an increase of crime, argue that it must be owing to increased privations among the lower classes. At the same time, the experience of the As- sizes is of less weight in a question of this kind than it once was. The greater quantity of business now transacted at Quarter- Sessions, and the increased efficacy and extended jurisdiction of Police Courts, have materially lightened the labours of the Judges on circuit ; and this has been in a great mea- sure effected by the withdrawal from the Courts of Assize of that class of criminal cases which are the least deceptive tests of the condition of the multitude. There are two kinds of crimes with which penal laws have to deal : those—generally the more appalling—which are the consequences of passion breaking through the conventional restraints which the affluent and steadily industrious impose upon themselves ; and those offences against property (and persons with a view to plunder) perpetrated for the most part by the professional criminal class. Any increase in the latter may safely be assumed to indicate that numbers of the well- disposed, who can obtain only precarious employment, have been drawn by distress to ally themselves with professional criminals, or at least adopt their pursuits. An increase in the former may, on the contrary, indicate a sudden augmentation of wealth, tempting to unbridled indulgence, or the dishonest practices produced by excessive speculation. To judge by the Assizes now in progress, the amount of extraordinary crimes is by no means excessive ; while looking to the Police Courts no symptoms of any uncommon activity among the professional crime class are apparent.