« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
est quarters of the city to spend the summer with a family out of town, where she was given the best of food, every comfort of clothing and shelter, plenty of strawberries, flowers, drives, games, and picnics, was utterly broken down by homesickness; and finally, when pressed to state what she had had in the city that she missed at Deerfield, confessed, between her sobs, “Oh, ma'am, we could sit on the stoops an' talk to folks!" But there is this element of hope: in less than a week the reaction sets in, and the children begin to love the country. Hundreds of them come back to exclaim, "As soon as I'm a man, I'm going to live in the country!"
A visionary reformer will say, "Make these poor people richer, and then they can have better homes." Nothing could be more fallacious. You cannot make a man rich by giving him money. It is no use to give him privileges till you have taught him appreciation of them. Cases of injustice, of oppression, there will inevitably be; yet, looking at the class of people who go forth from these tenements to their work every morning, you feel reasonably sure that workmen such as these are receiving all that they are capable of earning. Moreover, as we have seen, the people are not occupying these wretched quarters because they cannot afford to pay for better; they are paying now enough to have good accommodation. Philanthropy would like to believe that these people, if their wages were raised, would go home to their wretched surroundings and say cheerfully, "Come, Mary, pack up! I'm to have a dollar a week more now, and we can afford a better place." But we all know they would not, even were the "better place" to be had. The woman paying $2 a week for a basement room, and the family paying $6 a week for two rooms and the hallway on the second floor, could afford now to move into Alfred White's improved tenements at $1.50 a week, without Mr. White's giving them anything in the way of charity. But the tenants will not move: first, because they do not know enough, or care enough, to move, being, as the anti-reformers say, "wedded to filth and misery; and secondly, because there are not enough improved tenements to go round.
The second remedy suggested is that of the socialists, share
and share alike. Nothing could be more fallacious. Their cry practically is this: "It is a horrible thing to be poor; therefore let us all be poor." If the new order of things could make us all rich, it might be worth considering; but it is perfectly understood, even by its advocates, that the only result would be to make us all poor. Happily we do not need to linger over the discussion; every sane individual knows that perfect equality of men in possessions, endowments, and condition will never come about.
The third remedy proposed is that of those who rely upon the government, who make herculean exertions to get new laws. through the legislature, more inspectors under the Board of Health, and a million of dollars for the establishment of small parks. This is all very well. I have myself often wondered why the city government, so generous in building hospitals and prisons and reform schools, should not take the tenements in hand. "Fall ill, or break your leg," says the city, "and I will give you doctors, nurses, comfortable bed, food, and everything you need. Commit a crime, and I will put you into a nice, clean prison, where you will have food, clothing, and shelter without any expense. But so long as you can manage to keep well and virtuous, you may go to the-tenements for all I care!" It is well to get from the government all you can, but it is not desirable to depend solely upon government for reform.
No, nothing will, in reform, take the place of individual conscientious landlordism. Individualism seems minute, but it is mighty. Let in the light of day upon the landlordism of the slums, as you have let it in upon Mormonism and other hateful things that prefer darkness rather than light. The landlord is not to be a philanthropist, willing to sacrifice himself for the good of others; he is to be an intelligent capitalist, putting in his money purely as an investment, and philanthropic only to the degree of being satisfied with six per cent. returns, of hiring a janitor to be on hand day and night, of being his own agent, or keeping a sharp look-out on the one he may have to employ, and of urging his wife to collect the rents.
But individual landlordism need not necessarily be confined. to individual persons. Individual corporations can become land
lords. Why should not some of the insurance companies, that complain of being unable to find suitable investments for their immense funds, take hold of the tenement question? A lifeinsurance company of Boston, complaining of the low rates of interest obtainable, announce that they never expect over five per cent., and find it difficult at times to get four. The great decrease in rates of interest has been made the excuse for not giving members all the privileges which they once enjoyed. The risk of a tenement investment evidently cannot be any greater than the risk of other investments has proved.
Half of the trouble is caused by the willful cruelty, but half by the thoughtlessness, of the landlords. A wise writer has said recently, "Often you don't need to say to a man, Why do you do so?' If you can show him what he is doing, it is often enough to rouse him to reform." I have faith enough in human nature to believe that if we could organize a procession of landlords, and compel them to walk through the tenement districts, they would begin the reform themselves. Half of them do not know what they are doing; they trust the care of their property to agents, whose interest it is not to trouble them with demands for repairs or any lessening of income.
And of course there is one other important factor: education. We say we can do nothing for the degraded occupants of the tenements because they are wedded to filth and misery, and we cannot educate their grandmothers. But there are grandmothers whom we can educate. Children of to-day are the grandmothers of the generations yet unborn. We can educate them.
But by education I mean something more than the development of intelligence or the cultivation of ideas: I mean the training in habits. And I also mean something more than the education of the poor: I mean also the education of the rich; that no boy who is to be a future millionaire shall grow up without a sense of his trusteeship. Flood your public schools with knowledge, and compel the children to come to them; yet so long as you let them go back at night to see and hear and learn the things they are seeing and hearing and learning at the places they call their homes, so long are you pouring fresh, pure, sparkling water into a sieve that empties in the gutter; so long are
you trying to build a palace of pure white marble on supports of rotten wood. Nay, more: you are doing what is perhaps not only fruitless, but fatal; you are lighting a torch of intelligence that may end in setting fire to your own homes. Anarchy is not misery wedded to stupidity, as we are fond of fancying; it is misery touched with just too little intelligence. Waken the intelligence to rebel against results before you have taught the capacity for altering conditions, and woe be unto you in the struggle! You may say that intelligence ought to conquer conditions, and it will, in time; but you may well dread the contest if you do not do your share toward preventing the battle. Educate the grandmothers; but educate them to something more than ideas. Throw all of the English grammars and half of the Latin ones into the ash-barrel, and introduce in their places manual-labor, cooking, and sewing classes, that shall teach the young not only how to do things neatly, but to care about doing them neatly.
Every generation has its own wrongs to right, its pet grievThe Abolitionists of the last generation are already jealous of our asserting that we can possibly have as big a grievance as theirs. Let it, then, be our aim and glory to settle our grievance before it becomes quite so big as theirs, and to settle it without a war. No adjustment of the difficulty between capital and labor, or of the tenement problem, can be either relied on or admired, that depends on any supercilious charity from the rich on the one hand, or on establishing their perfect equality with the poor on the other. It is not when we see another mother buying a handsomer overcoat for her boy than we can afford that the envy and bitterness come; it is when we see her buying a warmer one than we can afford that we begin to hate her. The poor are willing for you to be rich, and for themselves to work; but make it hard for them to get work-and may God have mercy upon your souls as well as theirs!
ALICE WELLINGTON ROLLINS.
SOCIALISM AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.
MEN generally appreciate and admire consistency. Although they may not agree in principles or opinions, they respect those who live in faithful accordance with their professions. There are many of our fellow-citizens who do not admire the Catholic religion. Some misunderstand it altogether, and others regard it with hostility. Nevertheless they accept some, at least, of our principles, and honor us when we are true to the obligations of our creed. The Catholic Church must be judged by its own standards, and we cannot be blamed for acting in accordance with them, as long as we respect the just rights of others and are faithful to all the obligations of our country.
We believe the church to be a divine organization, united to Christ, her head, animated by the Holy Spirit, and therefore the teacher and preserver of faith and morals. While we uphold that which we receive as truth, we feel bound, also, to reprobate error. We touch no one's physical freedom, nor can we interfere with moral liberty. There is no tyranny in this, since obedience to authority is essential to our organization.
These remarks are made to justify this brief article, and to explain the interference of the church in moral and religious questions. In matters purely political, having no connection with faith or morality, we do not meddle. Every man among us is free to choose his political relations, and act as he deems best for the welfare of his country. We yield to no one in loyalty and devotion to our republic. It is next to God in our hearts, as past history since the formation of our Constitution has abundantly proved. Theories which contravene morals, which violate the law of God, and are ruinous to society, are not purely political. If the teaching authority of the church should allow such theories to pass without reprobation, it would become a partaker in the crime, and share in the evil consequences of