The conception of the distinction between a crime and a tort is one requiring a high degree of legal development. The uncivilized mind, in law as in othei sciences, is always looking at the concrete.and fails to grasp the abstract. If a murder or a theft is committed the wrong to the individual is at once apparent to everyone; the wrong to society is too subtle a one to be easily seen by the savage or even semi-civilized races.

The first view of all races has been that the one who has suffered a wrong is the one who should redress it, or the one to whom compensation should be made. If the wrong was that of murder the relatives of the deceased are the ones to redress the wrong or receive the compensation. We see here the double thought of punishment for the wrong doer, and of compensation for the party injured, but the two are in the alternative; if a person who has suffered an injury chooses to accept compensation therefor, he waives his right to inflict vengeance on the wrong doer.

The first step away from this state of affairs is when the contest between the accuser and the accused takes place before the court and under specified rules. Actual physical contests to settle accusations of disputes have been parts of regular judicial procedure under many legal systems, and the fictions of such contests have continued beyond the actual practice.

Even when the court takes upon itself the decision of alleged wrongs, it for a long time fails clearly to distinguish between crime and tort. Both are tried at the same time and punishment and damages decreed by the same judgment.

A system of jurisprudence which clearly differentiates the crime and the tort ranks high in the legal scale. Few European codes do this till near the close of the middle ages.