Infomotions, Inc.White Slaves; or, the Oppression of the Worthy Poor / Banks, Louis Albert



Author: Banks, Louis Albert
Title: White Slaves; or, the Oppression of the Worthy Poor
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Title: White Slaves

Author: Louis A Banks

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WHITE SLAVES

OR

THE OPPRESSIONS OF THE WORTHY POOR

BY REV. LOUIS ALBERT BANKS, D.D.




To My Father and Mother,

Who instilled into my mind and heart, in the days of a happy boyhood,
their own love for liberty and hatred of oppression, this volume is
gratefully dedicated.




TO THE MERCY AND HELP DEPARTMENT OF THE EPWORTH LEAGUE

Mr. Edison tells us that ninety per cent of the energy that there is in
coal is lost in the present method of converting it into a usable
force. May I, without being considered a croaker, say that almost the
same amount of spiritual power goes to waste in our average church
life? One is startled at times as he notes the manifestations of fervor
and warmth in the devotional meetings of the present day, and the
meagre results that follow in the transformation of society into the
likeness of the kingdom of heaven. Exactly what we have to do, however,
is to help hasten the answer to the prayer our Lord taught us, "Thy
will be done on earth as it is in heaven," and not to be forever
seeking to build tabernacles on some Mount of Transfiguration.

This book of Dr. Banks's is a positive stimulus to this work of social
transformation. The young men and women of our Epworth League could not
do better than to carefully and thoughtfully study its vivid pictures
of every-day scenes in our great, and even in our lesser, cities.

Such study will open their eyes to sad deformities in their own
communities, to which too many have become strangely indifferent
through custom and wont. True, it is not pleasant to consider these
distressing matters; but is it the business of the Christian to avoid
that which is unpleasant? Consideration leads to sympathy, and sympathy
wonderfully quickens the inventive faculties; and the aroused intellect
and active affection are leavening forces that alter social conditions
always for the better.

I take great pleasure, therefore, in commending this work, because it
stirs all who read it. It may make you indignant. What of it? Would
that more were alive enough to be indignant with the indignation of our
Lord at the forces of unbrotherliness at work in our midst! It will do
more than rouse your indignation; it will help you to utter the prayer
that gave the accent to the life of Paul: "Lord, what wilt thou have
_me_ to do?" When in works of Mercy and Help our tens of thousands of
Epworth Leaguers are loyally living this prayer, the problem of Edison,
as applied to spiritual dynamics, will be solved, and the latent forces
of spiritual energy used to their utmost. Then, as slavery has passed
away, war and tyranny and idleness and poverty will be no more, and the
end to which Christ leads us, and for which He died, will be attained.

WILLIAM INGRAHAM HAVEN,

_Vice-President for Mercy and Help Department_.

INWOOD LODGE, PINE ISLAND N.H. _August_ 1893




AUTHOR'S PREFACE

This volume had its origin in experiences which came to me in the daily
duties of a city pastorate. The inadequate wages received by some of
the members of my own congregation, and the impoverished and unhealthy
surroundings of many of the poor people who came for me to christen
their children, pray with their sick, or bury their dead, so aroused my
sympathy for the victims, and my indignation against the cruel or
indifferent causes of their misery, that I determined upon a thorough
and systematic investigation of the conditions of life among the worthy
Boston poor. By the word "worthy" I do not mean to indicate a class of
saints, but the poor people of the city who are willing and anxious to
exchange honest hard work for their support. I have not, in the series
of studies here presented, entered into a discussion of the vicious and
criminal classes. I have tried to perform, as it seemed to me, a far
more important task--to make a plea for justice on behalf of the
crushed, and often forgotten, victims of greed, who work and starve in
their cellars and garrets rather than beg or steal.

The larger part of the matter contained in these pages was originally
delivered in a series of discourses from the pulpit of St. John's
Methodist Episcopal Church, South Boston, and retains here the direct
form of the spoken address.

I desire to make a personal acknowledgment to some who have given me
great assistance in making the investigations, the results of which are
here recorded. I am greatly indebted to Mr. B. O. Flower, Editor of
_The Arena_, for many kindnesses, and especially for the use of several
interesting illustrations originally prepared for the magazine over
which he so ably and gracefully presides. The Rev. Walter J. Swaffield,
of the Boston Baptist Bethel, the Rev. C. L. D. Younkin, of the North
End Mission, the Rev. Geo. L. Small, of the Mariners' House, the Rev.
John G. May, of the Italian Mission, and that indefatigable reformer,
Mrs. Alice N. Lincoln, have each put me under great obligations by
their unwearying kindness and willing assistance. I am also greatly
indebted to Mr. Sears Gallagher, the brilliant young South Boston
artist, and to the veteran photographer of Boston Highlands, Mr. W. H.
Partridge, for many courtesies in connection with the illustrations
which illumine these chapters.

LOUIS ALBERT BANKS. BOSTON, _September_ 15, 1891.



CONTENTS

I. THE WHITE SLAVES OF THE BOSTON "SWEATERS"

II. LETTER OF CRITICISM

III. REPLY TO A CRITICISM ON "THE WHITE SLAVES OF THE BOSTON SWEATERS"

IV. THE PLAGUE OF THE SWEAT-SHOP

V. THE RELATION OF WAGES TO MORALS

VI. THE WAGES AND TEMPTATIONS OF WORKING-PEOPLE

VII. BOSTON'S UNCLE TOM'S CABIN

VIII. SOCIAL MICROBES IN BOSTON TENEMENT HOUSES, AND HOW TO DESTROY
      THEM

IX. OLD WORLD TIDES IN BOSTON

X. OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS, THE BOSTON PAUPERS

XI. COMMENT ON "OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS, THE BOSTON PAUPERS"

XII. THE GOLD GOD OF MODERN SOCIETY



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

PORTRAIT OF AUTHOR
PORTUGUESE WIDOW IN ATTIC
PORTUGUESE WIDOW AND CHILDREN
LITTLE CHILDREN FINISHING PANTS
INVALID IN CHAIR
POSTAL UNIFORMS
A TENEMENT-HOUSE COURT
SUNDAY ON NORTH STREET
CLARK'S MISSION
NORTH END JUNK SHOP
HOME OF THE MATHERS
THE PEANUTTER
INSIDE A SWEAT-SHOP
PAUL REVERE HOUSE, NORTH SQUARE
REAR OF NORTH END TENEMENT HOUSE
COMMONWEALTH AVENUE
DRYING "THE FIND"
THE NORTH END MISSION
A BOSTON "BRIDGE OF SIGHS"
COURT OFF NORTH STREET
CELLARWAY LEADING TO UNDERGROUND APARTMENTS
SICK MAN IN UNDERGROUND APARTMENT
AN ANCIENT TENEMENT
ITALIAN FRUIT-VENDERS AT HOME
COCKROACHES BY FLASH-LIGHT
BANANA SELLER
UNDERGROUND TENEMENT WITH TWO BEDS
TWO O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING
EXTERIOR OF A NORTH END TENEMENT HOUSE
WIDOW AND TWO CHILDREN IN UNDERGROUND TENEMENT
THE BANK OF THE UNFORTUNATE
OUT OF WORK
A CHEAP LODGING-HOUSE
THE "GOOD LUCK" TENEMENT HOUSE
THE SAND GARDEN
CHRIST CHURCH TOWER
ON THE CUNARDER
ON THE WAY TO THE RABBI
PASSING THE QUARANTINE DOCTOR
SURGICAL THEOLOGY
BUILDING USED BY THE BRITISH AS A HOSPITAL
VICTORIA SQUARE
OAK DOOR AT ENTRANCE
READING-ROOM AT FACTORY
FERRIS BROTHERS' CORSET FACTORY
QUARTER SECTION OF ONE OF THE WORK ROOMS
THE QUEEN OF THE DUMP
TRAMPS WOMEN'S
HOSPITAL WARD AT LONG ISLAND
GETTING A BREATH OF FRESH AIR
ATTIC AT RAINSFORD ISLAND
MARINERS' HOME
CHILDREN PLAYING IN COPP'S HILL BURYING-GROUND
DIGGING IN THE ASH-BARRELS IN WINTER
FOUR SHINERS
SOUTH BOSTON RAG-PICKERS




I.

THE WHITE SLAVES OF THE BOSTON "SWEATERS".


  "Hard work is good an' wholesome, past all doubt;
  But 'tain't so, ef the mind gits tuckered out."

--JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL: _Biglow Papers_.

A wise man of the old time, after a tour of observation, came home to
say, "So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done
under the sun: and behold the tears of such, as were oppressed, and
they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was
power; but they had no comforter." If this report had been written by
one who had been climbing with me through the tenement houses of not
less than a score of Boston streets, conversing with the sewing-women,
looking on their poverty-lined faces and their ragged children,
breathing the poisonous air of the quarters where they work, and
listening to their heart-rending stories of cruelty and oppression, it
would be an appropriate summary of our observation. It is my purpose,
at this time, to take you with me on a tour of observation. As
well-lighted streets are better than policemen to insure safety and
good order, so I believe that the best possible service I can render
the public is to turn on the light, and tell, as plainly and simply as
I can, the story of what I have seen and heard and smelled in the white
slave-quarters, which are a disgrace to our fair city. I shall confine
myself at this time entirely to the work of women and children in their
own homes. Most of this work is parcelled out to them by middlemen who
are known as "sweaters." That word sweater is not in the old
dictionaries. It is a foul word, born of the greed and infernal lust
for gold which pervade the most reckless and wicked financial circles
of our time. The sweater takes large contracts and divides it out among
the very poor, reducing the price to starvation limits, and reserving
the profits for himself.

Some of the women whose story I shall tell do not work for sweaters,
but are treated almost as badly by the powerful and wealthy firms who
employ them. In these cases the firm itself has learned the sweater's
secret, and through an agent of its own is sweating the life-blood out
of these half-starved victims.

Let us begin near at home with a South Boston case, which came to my
notice through the dispensary doctor for the district. It is a widow
with one child--a little boy scarcely three years old. The child is
just recovering from a troublesome sickness, through which the doctor
became acquainted with her. She has been sewing for a good while for
one of the largest and most respectable dry-goods houses on Washington
Street--a firm whose name is a household word throughout New England.
Her sewing has been confined to two lines--cloaks and aprons. For some
time she has been making white aprons--a good long apron, requiring a
yard, perhaps, of material; it is hemmed across the bottom and on both
sides, the band or "apron string" is hemmed on both sides, and then
sewed on to the apron, making six long seams. For these she is paid
fifteen cents _a dozen_! And besides that, this great, rich firm, whose
members are rolling in wealth and luxury, charges this poor widow
fifteen cents expressage on her package of ten dozen aprons, so that
for making one hundred and twenty aprons, such as I have described, she
receives, net, one hundred and thirty-five cents! If she works from
seven o'clock in the morning until eleven o'clock at night, she can
make four dozen; but, with the care of her child, she is unable to
average more than three dozen, for which, after the expressage is taken
out, she receives forty cents a day for the support of herself and
child.

Her rent for the one little room is one dollar per week. It is idle to
say that this firm is compelled to do this by competition, for the
material and making of these aprons cost less than ten cents, and the
firm retails them ordinarily at _twenty-five cents apiece_. On cloaks
she did better, receiving from fifty to seventy-five cents apiece, she
furnishing her own sewing-silk and cotton. On these she could make, by
working from seven A.M. till eleven P.M., nearly a dollar a day, but
she could never get more than six cloaks a week, so that the income for
the week was about the same.

[ILLUSTRATION: PORTUGUESE WIDOW IN ATTIC.]

Now come with me a little farther around the harbor. Let us climb up
three flights, to a little attic suite of two rooms, so low at the side
that, with my length of anatomy, I have to keep well to the middle of
the room in order to stand upright. Here live a Portuguese mother and
five children, the oldest thirteen, the youngest not yet three, a poor,
deformed, little thing that has consumption of the bowels, brought on
by scanty and irregular food. Its tiny legs are scarcely thicker than
my thumb, and you cannot look at its patient, wasted, little face, that
looks old enough to have endured twenty-five years of misery, instead
of three, without the heartache. I ask the mother how she earns her
living, and she points to a package that has just come in. Picking it
up, and untying the strings, I find there six pairs of pants, cut out
and basted up, ready for making. Looking at the card, we are astonished
to find that it bears the name of one of the largest firms in the city
of Boston, a firm known, perhaps, as widely as any. Three pairs of
these pants are _custom-made_; they are fashionable summer trousers,
with the names and addresses of the men for whom they are made tacked
on them. The other three pairs are stamped with "New York" as customer,
from which we infer that they are made for a New York house, the Boston
firm acting as sweater. This woman and her little children must finish
these pants by the same hour to-morrow, when the messenger from the
store will bring a new lot and take these away. She receives _ten cents
a pair_--three pairs being _custom-made_ pants! In order to finish the
six pairs in the twenty-four hours, she must get to work at six in the
morning, and improve every available moment until eleven or twelve in
the evening, and sometimes, if the sick child is fretful, until one
o'clock in the morning. Her wages for this tremendous strain that is
wearing her very life away, until she looks almost as frail as her
dying child, is _sixty cents!_ Her rent for these two small attic
pockets is one dollar and fifty cents per week. She has one bed for
herself and five children. Only through the aid of the Boston Baptist
Bethel is she able to keep up the struggle. And yet, O my brothers!
this is in sight of the old North Church, and the tower where they hung
the lanterns for a signal to Paul Revere, when he rode through the
darkness to arouse the Fathers to fight against oppression. God help us
to hang another light for liberty in the midst of this cruel slavery!

Perhaps you are tired now, and want to rest, but I am insatiable, and
will go on. Let me give you the record of six families found in the
same tenement.

Family No. 1. They are Italians. The wife and mother is finishing cheap
overcoats at four cents apiece. She can finish from eight to ten in a
day. She has two finer coats, lined with handsome satin; of these she
can complete only five a day, and receives eight cents apiece. There
are three in the family, and they pay a dollar and a half per week for
their one room. I asked about the husband, and a neighbor woman from
the next room remarked contemptuously, "He is no good."

No. 2. These are Poles. The woman makes knee pants of grammar-schoolboy
size; she receives sixteen cents a dozen pairs. Two dozen are as many
as she ever gets done in a day.

No. 3. They are Italians here, and are at work on knee pants. This
woman receives sixteen cents a dozen pairs for most of them, but for
some extra nice ones she gets eighteen cents a dozen. She has two dozen
brought to her from the sweater's shop every day about two o'clock. She
works from two in the afternoon until ten at night, and from six in the
morning until noon the next day, to complete her allowance, for which
she receives from thirty-two to thirty-six cents. The rent is a dollar
and seventy-five cents per week; she has two children.

No. 4. This woman makes men's pants at twelve cents a pair. Formerly,
when she was stronger, she could drive herself through six pairs a day;
but now, with a little babe to look after, she can get only four pairs
done. The room is intolerably dirty; but how can you have the heart to
blame her?

No. 5. Polish Jews. The woman makes knee pants, working from seven in
the morning till ten o'clock at night, and nets from twenty-seven to
forty-four cents a day.

No. 6. Italians. This woman is an expert seamstress. She is finishing
men's coats at six cents apiece; and with nothing to bother her,
working sixteen hours a day, she makes fifty-four cents. The rent for
the narrow little back room is one dollar and thirty-five cents per
week.

If you want variety, we will climb four flights of stairs, with half
the plastering knocked off the walls, and talk with an English woman.
She is working on fine cloth pants; she gets thirteen cents a pair; by
working till very late in the evening, she can complete four pairs a
day, and thinks it would be almost a paradise if she could make her
fifty-two cents every day; but it is one of the characteristics of a
sweater to systematically keep all his people hungry for work, and she
seldom is able to get more than twelve pairs a week. She lives alone in
a little sweat-box under the roof, for which she pays a dollar and a
quarter per week.

Not far away, up two flights, we find a Portuguese widow, with four
little girls, the eldest fifteen, the next thirteen, and the younger
ones three and six, respectively; they are all dwarfed by hardship and
insufficient food, so that the one who is fifteen is not larger than an
average girl of twelve. The mother is sick, and the girls are trying to
keep the wolf from the door by carrying on the sewing. They are all
hard at work; they carry the pants back and forth themselves, and so
for the most of their work receive twelve cents, though for some they
get only ten cents a pair. They have only two little rooms with the
most meagre furniture; the rent is one dollar and a half per week, and
the sick mother and four girls huddle together in the one bed at night.
They are pretty, bright-faced, intelligent girls, and with a fair
chance would grow into strong, noble women; but one shudders when he
takes into consideration the fearful odds against which they will have
to struggle in this poverty-stricken, crime-cursed alley.

[Illustration: PORTUGUESE WIDOW AND CHILDREN.]

[Illustration: LITTLE CHILDREN FINISHING PANTS.]

Here is another case of a similar description only a few blocks away.
We go up three narrow flights, steep and dark, for space is as
important in a low-class Boston tenement house as in a sardine box. The
stairway is slippery from filth on the last flight, for on a small
bench at the top, in a dry-goods box, a little boy is raising squabs
for the market, and the pigeon business, however much it may help to
pay the rent, is not conducive to cleanliness. We find here a suite of
three little rooms, the largest of which is not more than 10x10; the
others are much smaller. In these three little pigeon boxes eight
people live, at least sleep--five men and boys, and a mother and two
girls. The men are off most of the day, and work at such jobs as they
find; the mother and little girls make pants for another leading Boston
clothing house. The two little girls, the younger only three years, are
both overcasting seams. The three make on an average sixteen pairs of
pants a week, for which they get thirteen cents a pair; the young
pigeon fancier, already spoken of, carrying the goods to and fro. The
rent of these crowded quarters is two dollars and a quarter per week.
In the same building, down-stairs, we went into a room which could not
have been more than 10x12, where an American woman, with seven young
women helping her, was at work dressmaking. We could not discover
whether they were working for the stores or not, but the air was
poisonous, and the workers had that deadly pallor which comes from
habitually breathing bad air and from lack of sufficient food.

[Illustration: INVALID IN CHAIR.]

Sickness, to be dreaded anywhere, is especially pitiful among these
sweaters' slaves in the city. In the country the fresh air, fragrant
with the breath of new-mown hay, or sweetened from ten thousand clover
blossoms, is free to the poorest, but to be sick in a tenement house is
something terrible. Yet crowded quarters, poisonous air, and filthy
clothing make sickness a common guest in such places. I climbed one day
up two flights into a dirty little room, the smell of which was
sickening to me in three minutes, and yet there I found a man on a
little cot (that had been given by the charitable missionary who guided
me) who has been lying there for more than three years. For two years
and more he had not even a cot, but lay on the floor in his dirt and
pain. There are two children, too young to be of much assistance; the
wife and mother sews, finishing pants for a rich Washington Street
firm. She gets twelve, and sometimes, on fine, custom-made pants,
thirteen cents a pair. She has worked so hard and continuously on poor
food and with insufficient clothing, that rheumatism has settled in the
joints of her fingers and stiffened them, till she is only able to turn
off nine or ten pairs a week. Last week she could only make a dollar
and fifteen cents; the rent was a dollar and a quarter. They have
absolutely none of the ordinary comforts of life; the sick man has no
sheets for his cot, and the rheumatic mother sleeps with her children
on the floor.

Down-stairs, we look in on a mother and two grown daughters who are
finishing pants for another fashionable firm, one which does a large
business with clergymen. They are paid thirteen cents a pair,
ordinarily, and for the very finest custom-made pants they receive as
high as twenty cents, but complain, as it takes so much longer with the
fine pants, that from two to three pairs is as much as one woman can
complete in a day. There is a helpless air about this mother and her
daughters that is very depressing.

[Illustration: POSTAL UNIFORMS.]

There has been quite a controversy recently as to where the new United
States postal uniforms for the Boston carriers were made. I settled
this question to my own satisfaction during the past week, when, in
company with Dr. Luther T. Townsend, of Boston University, and two
other gentlemen, one of them being an Italian interpreter, I climbed
the rickety stairs of an old North End tenement house, and found the
pants for these same uniforms being made by Italian women at _nine and
a half cents a pair_! They received them from a Jewish sweater. One of
these women says that, by beginning at four o'clock in the morning and
frequently working until twelve o'clock at night, she can make six
pairs of these pants in a day. She has five children; the rent is two
dollars per week. The husband has been out of work for eight months;
the only one of the children who is able to earn anything is a boy who
is a bootblack, and can earn, in fine weather, three dollars a week.
Another woman at work on these postal uniforms, who was not able to
labor quite such long hours, could only make four pairs a day. She also
had five children, the only one able to earn anything being a daughter,
fourteen years of age, who works in a sweater's shop for two dollars a
week.

On the walls of the rooms in this building where the postal uniforms
were being made, the cockroaches were crawling, and in some places were
swarming as thick as ants about an anthill.

I have my note-books full of many other cases, including Portuguese,
Italian, English, Polish, and a few Irish and American women, of the
same general character as those already related; but a similar wicked
scale of prices runs through the making of other clothing. I called on
a woman in South Boston last week who was making overalls for a city
firm at sixty cents a dozen pairs. They are the large variety of
overalls, such as expressmen and such workers use, with straps going
over the shoulders. I took a tape-line and carefully measured the
sewing on one pair of these overalls. When they come to the seamstress,
there has not been a stitch taken in them--they are simply cut out.
There are thirty separate and distinct seams to be sewed, making in the
aggregate thirty-two and a half feet of sewing, for which she receives
the gross amount of five cents, out of which she has to pay the
carrying to and fro. If she goes after them herself, she can bring only
two dozen at a time, which will cost her ten cents car-fare, going and
coming. When sent by express in a package of five or six dozen--the
number she is able to make in a week--she is charged fifteen cents
expressage each way, so that the expressage eats up the making of six
pairs. In addition to this, the stiff cloth is very hard on machine
needles, and she will break about ten cents worth per week. This
woman's story is a sad one. Her husband, who was a strong, hard-working
man, fell ill through an over-strain, and died after fifteen months'
sickness, two months ago. She has three little children, the oldest
four years and the youngest a little over a year. Work as hard as she
can, driving her machine until late into the night, she is able to make
only five dozen pairs of overalls a week, which, when expressage and
breakage of needles are taken out, leaves her two dollars and
sixty-five cents. The rent is a dollar and a half, which leaves one
dollar and fifteen cents for the food and clothing of a mother and
three children. Of course she cannot live on that, and would starve to
death if she were not assisted by charity. And yet there is a firm
doing business in South Boston mean enough to take advantage of the
fact that people living in this part of the city are compelled to pay
car-fare or expressage on work secured in the city proper, and so has
reduced the price for work given out in South Boston to _fifty cents a
dozen pairs_.

I talked with another young woman, who has made overalls for both these
firms, and has been compelled to give it up through sickness brought on
from the confinement and strained position of sitting so many hours a
day over a sewing-machine. This poor girl told me that both of these
firms were now giving a great part of this class of work to the public
authorities in charge of the House of Correction, to be done by the
prisoners, and that a daily stint for a woman in prison is only eight
pairs. This sick, discouraged girl, in a most heart-breaking way, said
she thought she would better commit some crime in order to procure a
place in the House of Correction, for there she would have much better
quarters, a great deal nicer food, and would only have to make eight
pairs a day, while at home she must force herself to make at least a
dozen pairs a day, or starve.

Fellow-citizens, what do you think of this? Is there not something
wrong in a system of things that permits the authorities of the State
or city to enter into competition with the sewing-women of Boston at
such a cruel and heartless rate that no woman can work at it and keep
out of prison, unless she is assisted by charity? This same South
Boston firm gives out men's shirts to be made at sixty cents a dozen.
The material for one of these shirts costs twenty-three cents, the
making five cents--a total of twenty-eight cents. They retail these
shirts at fifty cents apiece, making a net profit of twenty-two cents
on an investment of twenty-eight cents for a few weeks' time.

During the last few weeks, as I have gone about among these women, my
ears have been haunted with that old song of Thomas Hood, as
appropriate now, in the latter part of the nineteenth century, in the
city of Boston, as it ever has been anywhere, at any time, in the
history of human greed.

  With fingers weary and worn,
  With eyelids heavy and red,
  A woman sat, in unwomanly rags,
  Plying her needle and thread--
  Stitch! stitch! stitch!
  In poverty, hunger, and dirt;
  And still with a voice of dolorous pitch
  She sang the "Song of the Shirt!"

  "Work! work! work!
  While the cock is crowing aloof!
  And work--work--work,
  Till the stars shine through the roof!
  It's, oh! to be a slave
  Along with the barbarous Turk,
  Where woman has never a soul to save,
  If this is Christian work!

  "Work--work--work
  Till the brain begins to swim!
  Work--work--work
  Till the eyes are heavy and dim!

    *    *    *    *    *

  Stitch--stitch--stitch,
  In poverty, hunger, and dirt,--
  Sewing at once, with a double thread,
  A shroud as well as a shirt!

  "But why do I talk of death,
  That phantom of grisly bone?
  I hardly fear his terrible shape,
  It seems so like my own--
  It seems so like my own
  Because of the fast I keep:
  O God! that bread should be so dear,
  And flesh and blood so cheap!

  "Work--work--work!
  My labor never flags;
  And what are its wages? A bed of straw,
  A crust of bread--and rags,
  That shattered roof--and this naked floor--
  A table--a broken chair--
  And a wall so blank my shadow I thank
  For sometimes falling there!


 "Work--work--work
  From weary chime to chime!
  Work--work--work
  As prisoners work for crime!"

If Thomas Hood had lived in our day, and could have gone around with me
in Boston, he would have had to make it stronger yet, for among us the
good, honest sewing-woman must work at least one-third harder than the
"prisoners work for crime." And on such wages the prayer with which he
continues must be forever unanswered:--

  "Oh! but to breathe the breath
  Of the cowslip and primrose sweet--
  With, the sky above my head,
  And the grass beneath my feet!
  For only one short hour
  To feel as I used to feel,
  Before I knew the woes of want,
  And the walk that costs a meal!

  "Oh! but for one short hour,--
  A respite, however brief!
  No blessed leisure for love or hope,
  But only time for grief!
  A little weeping would ease my heart;
  But in their briny bed
  My tears must stop, for every drop
  Hinders needle and thread!"

  With fingers weary and worn,
  With eyelids heavy and red,
  A woman sat, in unwomanly rags,
  Plying her needle and thread--
  Stitch! stitch! stitch!
  In poverty, hunger, and dirt;
  And still with a voice of dolorous pitch,--
  Would that its voice could reach the rich!--
  She sang this "Song of the Shirt."




II.

LETTER OF CRITICISM.


  "Slavery ain't o' nary color,
    'Tain't the hide that makes it wus,
  All it keers fer in a feller
    'S jest to make him fill its pus."

--JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL: Biglow Papers.


BOSTON, June 29, 1891.

REV. Louis ALBERT BANKS, _St. John's M. E. Church, South Boston, Mass._

Dear Sir:--In the sermon which you preached yesterday, the title, as
given in the newspapers, is "_The White Slaves of Boston Sweaters_."
Under the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States
there can be no such thing as "_slave_" in this country. Under the
decision of Judge Parsons there has not been a slave in Massachusetts
since the adoption of the Constitution. I therefore venture to ask you
some questions.

1. How do you justify the term "_white slave_" when applied to the
persons whose condition you describe?

2. "Climb three flights to an attic suite of two rooms, and there one
would find a mother and five children" doubtless in very bad condition;
the mother trying to support them; the tenement doubtless very bad.
Suppose we condemn the tenement,--pull it down,--then these people
would have _no_ roof over their heads. Is _no_ roof better than _some
kind_ of a roof? Suppose we refuse to trust her to make pants? Is _no_
work better than _some_ work?

3. The mother earns her living, or part of it, by making "pants." Pants
made in this way are sold at a very low price at retail, after being
subjected to the cost of distribution in the customary way. There is
great competition in this business. That competition leads every
employer to pay the highest wages that can be recovered from the sale
of the pants, also allowing the sweater's charge. If the cost of making
is advanced on this class of pants, they cannot be sold at all; then
there would be no sweater, and the woman would get no work. Is _no_
work better than _some_ work?

4. The sweater deals as a middleman with the manufacturer and the
worker. If he did not deal with this kind of work, it would cost the
manufacturer more to reach the worker than it does now; no sweater
would be employed if he did not earn what he makes; then the
manufacturer, or clothier, could pay _less_ for making the pants,
because he now pays _all that the trade will bear_. If it cost him more
to reach the worker, he _must_ pay less. Suppose we abolish the
sweater, or middleman, then he would not distribute the work, and there
would be _no_ work. Is that better than _some_ work?

5. Suppose this woman had not come here with her children and had
stayed, perhaps, in Italy or in Russia, instead of coming here. Is
_some_ work _here_ better than _no_ work in _Italy_?

6. If the mother cannot support the children,--being now in this
country without having been sent back,--she is entitled to go with her
children to the almshouse, where suitable shelter, clean rooms, and
good food would be provided. Is it better for her to _try to support
her children_ under existing conditions _than to go to the almshouse_?

7. There is an ample supply of money available for purposes of true
charity. Does not true charity consist in refusing to give alms to
those who can or may support themselves? Is it better to give alms to
those people in their attic, or to give alms to them under the
conditions of the almshouse? Which course would be most sure to
pauperize them utterly?

8. The use of the term "slave" implies a slave-owner and a
slave-driver. In this series of (1) _the manufacturer_, (2) _the
sweater or middleman_, and (3) _the working-woman with her children_,
which is the slave-owner and which is the slave-driver? Under what
authority does the slave-master force this woman to render her labor
for all that it is worth?

9. If her work is worth more than she gets, can she not get it?

A little inquiry into the condition of the clothing trade, and some
examination of the fact, might disclose to you that the poor
sewing-woman is poor because she sews poorly, and that there is always
a scarcity of skilful and intelligent sewing-women, at full wages.

My final question is, how do you propose to help those who are
incapable of helping themselves, without pauperizing them yet more than
they are pauperized under their present conditions? What will you do
when you have destroyed the house and done away with the sweater?

Are you justified, as a Christian minister, in creating a prejudice and
arousing malignant passion by the use of the term "_slave_?" Can you
defend or justify this term, under the conditions that are reported, as
they are stated in the printed report of your sermon?

I venture to put these questions to you because I think that the
dangerous class in this community is to be found among persons who,
without intelligence, create animosity, and by their method of
preaching tend to retard rather than to promote the progress of the
poor and ignorant in this country.

Very sincerely yours, *****




III.

REPLY TO A CRITICISM ON "THE WHITE SLAVES OF BOSTON SWEATERS".


  "Freedom's secret wilt thou know?--
  Counsel not with flesh and blood;
  Loiter not for cloak or food;
  Eight thou feelest, rush to do."

--RALPH WALDO EMERSON: _Freedom_.


Among the scores of thankful letters which I have received, commenting
on the discourse on "The White Slaves of the Boston Sweaters," there is
one of an entirety different character, written by a distinguished
writer on social questions, a gentleman for whom I have always
entertained the highest respect. I should be very glad to give the name
of the author of this letter; but as it is marked "personal," I cannot,
in honor, do so.

This letter so clearly and unswervingly outlines and defends the
extreme conservative side of this question, that I feel I cannot do a
better service to the cause of the "sweater's victim" than to answer it
in this public way. My critic begins by assailing the title of the
discourse. He says: "In the sermon which you preached yesterday, the
title as given in the newspapers is 'The White Slaves of the Boston
Sweaters.' Under the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution of the
United States, there can be no such thing as 'slave' in this country.
Under the decision of Judge Parsons there has not been a slave in
Massachusetts since the adoption of the Constitution." Wonderful Judge
Parsons! who is able, by the magic wand of his decision, to unshackle
all the slaves who, under the cruel whip of necessity,--more unmerciful
than any slave-driver's lash,--have sweated under the burdens imposed
by avaricious task-masters in every city of the commonwealth.

Can you make men free by constitution simply? Are there no slaves
except those who, like the African thirty years ago, are bought and
sold at the auction block? Ay, indeed! for every black man liberated by
President Lincoln's proclamation, there is, to-day, a white man robbed
and degraded and brutalized by some gigantic trust or other equally
soulless, unfeeling, corporate power.

For every mother whose heart was broken by having her children wrenched
from her arms in the African slave-market, there is a white mother,
whose very soul is crushed at the sight of her hungry, ragged, little
ones. For every black babe torn from its mother's breast by the
iniquitous system of negro slavery, the slums of our great cities have
a white child, whose future is equally dark and hopeless.

My critic's first question is, "How do you justify the term 'white
slave' when applied to the persons whose condition you describe?" My
answer is very simple. If a widow with little children to care for, who
cannot go out to do other kinds of work, and is compelled to work
eighteen hours a day for fifty cents, and dares not give this up for
fear of starvation to her children, is not a slave, then will somebody
tell me what element is lacking to make slavery?

[Illustration: A TENEMENT-HOUSE COURT.]

The second question is as follows: "'Climb three flights to an attic
suite of two rooms, and there one would find a mother and five
children,' doubtless in very bad condition; the mother trying to
support them; the tenement doubtless very bad. Suppose we condemn the
tenement,--pull it down,--then these people will have no roof over
their heads. Is _no_ roof better than _some_ kind of a roof? Suppose we
refuse to trust her to make pants--is _no_ work better than _some_
work?"

To the first part of this question, relating to the roof of this bad
tenement house, I answer frankly: Yes, no roof is better. This poor
woman, working at starvation-wages, is furnishing from twelve to twenty
per cent interest on the money invested in this miserable old rookery,
whose heartless landlord, like the unjust judge of the Gospels, fears
not God and regards not man. If we condemn this disease-breeding
death-trap, it will not be a question of this woman having "no roof"
over her head, but she may have a decent roof, with healthful, sanitary
regulations, at a less rent than she now pays, and still pay an honest
interest on the investment to the landlord. As to the second part of
the question, "Is no work better than some work?" that is not a fair
putting of the question. Our modern Christian civilization does not
dare to put it that way. It is not a question of no work, or some work.
We must furnish this woman some work, at such, just and rightful wages
as shall give her and her children bread to eat and raiment to put on,
and a decent, though it be humble, roof over their heads.

We pass to our critic's third question: "The mother earns her living,
or a part of it, by making 'pants.' Pants made in this way are sold at
a very low price at retail, after being subjected to the cost of
distribution in the customary way. There is great competition in this
business. That competition leads every employer to pay the highest
wages that can be recovered from the sale of the pants, also allowing
the sweater's charge. If the cost of making is advanced on this class
of pants, they cannot be sold at all; then there would be no sweater,
and the woman would get no work. Is _no_ work better than _some_ work?"
The trouble with a great deal of this is, that it is incorrect both in
its premise and in its reasoning. It is indeed true that there is great
competition in the clothing business, but it is not true that the
result of this competition leads every employer to pay the highest
wages that can be recovered from the sale of the pants. It is also a
remarkable statement to make, that if the cost is advanced, then there
will be no more pants made. Can my critic really believe that the whole
of mankind would suddenly go "pantless" if the price for making them
were raised to a point where the sewing-woman could make a decent
living? It is also a curious statement to make that "If there were no
sweater, the woman would get no work." The sweater is a comparatively
recent institution, and I devoutly believe an institution of the devil.
Before the sweater came to be a factor in the situation, the woman had
work, and better pay than she now receives. The incoming of the sweater
has not resulted in more work, but in less wages.

If my critic will take the trouble to examine the testimony given
before the committee appointed by the English House of Lords, which may
be found in the Public Library, he will see that it is the universal
testimony of hundreds of witnesses that the sweater is an unnecessary
factor in the manufacturing trades, and that in every department of the
labor world where the sweating system has been introduced, the wages of
the laborer have been reduced from forty to seventy per cent.

The fourth question is similar to the third: "The sweater deals as a
middleman with the manufacturer and the worker. If he did not deal with
this kind of work, it would cost the manufacturer more to reach the
worker than it does now. No sweater would be employed if he did not
earn what he makes. Then the manufacturer, or clothier, could pay less
for making the pants, because he now pays all the trade will bear. If
it cost him more to reach the worker, he must pay less. Suppose we
abolish the sweater, or middleman, then he would not distribute the
work, and there would be _no_ work. Is that better than _some_ work?"

I have already answered this question in part. It is not correct that
it would cost the manufacturer more to reach the worker without the
sweater than with him. It is also ridiculous to suppose that if the
sweater were abolished there would be no work. The demand for clothing
would be just the same without the sweater as with him. Besides that,
everything that takes the employer away from the people who do his
work, and removes him from contact with them, is a bad thing, and
always bodes ill to any harmonious relation between capital and labor.
I am satisfied that there are proprietors in Boston firms, who, if they
could go around with me, and see, as I have seen, the poverty and
suffering of the sweaters' slaves who are making up their goods, would
revolt against the whole system. It is only the sweater who comes in
contact with these people, and the sweater is, as a rule, greedy and
avaricious, and hardened against all humane feeling.

[Illustration: SUNDAY ON NORTH STREET.]


 We pass to the fifth question: "Suppose this woman had not come here
with her children, and had stayed, perhaps, in Italy or in Russia,
instead of coming here. Is _some_ work _here_ better than _no_ work in
_Italy_?" Very likely it is true that the woman is as well off here as
she would be in Italy. But is _Italy_ to be the standard of our
American civilization? I stood on a bridge over the Tiber, fronting the
famous castle of St. Angelo in Rome, on a hot Sunday morning in July,
and watched a company of people on a barge who were driving piles in
the river. There were about eighty men and women, the sexes about
equally divided, pulling and tugging away, in the hot sun, at ropes and
pulleys, in order to lift the heavy iron hammer and drop it on the head
of the piling. In Boston there would have been a little donkey engine,
and one or two men to look after it all the crew that would have been
needed. Shall we go back to Italy for a model? Furthermore, this
Italian woman is setting up a standard of life for all laboring women.
It is not enough to say she is as well off here as in Italy. We cannot
afford to permit the establishing of little Italian centres throughout
the Republic, with which every American laborer in the land must enter
into competition. No matter where people came from, nor what they have
suffered in their native land, if we permit them to come to us, we are
compelled, in sheer self-defence, to see that they are treated fairly
and justly, and receive a sufficient compensation for their toil to
support them in cleanliness, intelligence, and morality.

Question six raises a different problem: "If the mother cannot support
the children,--being now in this country, without having been sent
back,--she is entitled to go with her children to the almshouse, where
suitable shelter, clean rooms, and good food will be provided. Is it
better for her to _try to support her children_, under existing
conditions, than to go to the almshouse?" It is, of course, better for
the woman to try to support her children. The almshouse is for the sick
and helplessly infirm; Such may go there in all honor, without
disgrace. I doubt not there are men in the almshouse who have done more
service to humanity than many others who die amid luxury and wealth.
But nothing can be more vicious than to speak of people who are able
and willing to work as candidates for the almshouse, because the cruel
oppression in their wages makes it impossible for them to support
themselves. It is not charity these people need or want; it is justice.
True, Christ said, "The poor ye have always with you," and it is
probable that we shall always need to support by charity the crippled,
the insane, and the unfortunate, but it is a certain indication of
rottenness in any civilization that makes charity necessary for a man
or woman who is able and willing to work.

The seventh question continues this same thought with variations:
"There is an ample supply of money available for purposes of true
charity. Does not true charity consist in refusing to give alms to
those who can, or may, support themselves? Is it better to give alms to
these people, in their attic, or to give alms to them under the
conditions of the almshouse? What course would be most sure to
pauperize them utterly?" For once, my critic and myself are in
agreement. I believe it is better for one to partly support himself
than not to do anything towards it. Nothing is more demoralizing to any
one than to become accustomed to receive charity. But, after all, you
may pauperize people almost as rapidly in the attic as in the
almshouse. It is against the whole system that I make war. I do not
admit, for a moment, that it is necessary for the sewing-woman to
receive such wages as to compel her starvation, unless alms be given to
her in her attic.

In the discourse which is thus criticised. I showed plainly that the
aprons for which the seamstress received, net, one cent for making,
returned a profit of fifteen cents, on an investment of ten cents by
her employer. Now, I do not admit that the rigors of competition are so
great that it compels this manufacturer to make one hundred and fifty
per cent profit while this woman toils sixteen hours a day to make
forty-five cents.

I showed that the women who make shirts made only fifty cents a day,
and yet the proprietor made on every shirt twenty-two cents profit on
an investment of twenty-eight cents. I do not admit that competition is
so stern that it is necessary for this shirt manufacturer to make
seventy-eight per cent profit while the woman who works for him must
beg assistance of the Provident Association, or see her children cry
for bread.

Or, take the case of the poor girl, whose mother finishes pants for the
postal uniforms at nine and one-half cents a pair, slaving eighteen
hours for fifty-seven cents; and she, the daughter, toils all day long,
in the midst of the physical and moral stench of a Jewish sweater's
shop, for sixteen and two-thirds cents. But she is better off than the
orphan girl that works beside her, whose condition some poet has
described:--

  "Left there, nobody's daughter,
   Child of disgrace and shame,
  Nobody ever taught her
   A mother's sweet saving name.


  Nobody ever caring
   Whether she stood or fell,
  And men (are they men?) ensnaring
   With the arts and the gold of hell!

  Stitching with ceaseless labor
   To earn her pitiful bread;
  Begging a crust of a neighbor,
   And getting a curse instead!

  All through the long, hot summer,
   All through the cold, dark time,
  With fingers that numb and number
   Grow, white as the frost's white rime.

  Nobody ever conceiving
   The throb of that warm, young life,
  Nobody ever believing
   The strain of that terrible strife!

  Nobody kind words pouring
   In that orphan heart's sad ear;
  But all of us all ignoring,
   What lies at our door so near!"

There is nothing wholesome in the question whether it is better to
pauperize people a little in the attic, or to pauperize them altogether
in the almshouse. We ought not to pauperize them at all. A noble
Christian woman, who has a young men's Bible class in the North End,
and who by her womanly tact and Christian sympathy has gained the
confidence of some of the most hopeless cases in that section, told me
that one of these boys said to her, "When the Back Bay folks know that
we are made of flesh and blood, they won't pauperize us any longer."

[Illustration: CLARK'S MISSION.]

The eighth question returns in some of its aspects to the first: "The
use of the term 'slave' implies a slave-owner and a slave-driver. In
this series of the manufacturer, the sweater or middleman, and the
working-woman with her children, which is the slave-owner, and which is
the slave-driver? Under what authority does the slave-master force this
woman to render her labor for all that it is worth?" Answering the last
part of the question first, I have already shown that the woman does
not get all that her work is worth. The manufacturer, who makes from
seventy-eight to a hundred and fifty per cent profit, gets a far larger
proportion of the profits than rightly belongs to him.

Under the sweating system, the sweater is, most emphatically, both the
slave-master and slave-driver; and no Georgia overseer was ever more
cruel than some of these sweater taskmasters in Boston to-day.

Even at the wretched wages they pay, they will not give any of their
workers all the work they can do; they dole out the work to them,
trying to make them think it is very scarce. If they ask for higher
pay, they are met at once with a threat of discharge. Do you ask why
they do not hunt for something better? What can a poor,
half-broken-down mother, with three little babies, do hunting work? Who
will pay the rent, furnish them food, and care for the children while
she makes her search? There are thousands of laboring people, both men
and women, in all our great cities, who are in the same condition that
a majority of the Israelites were when Moses came to them, and told the
marvellous story of his talk with Jehovah, and painted before their dim
eyes the picture of the Canaan, and recounted to their dull ears the
promise of their deliverance from bondage. Pathetic, indeed, is the
record, "They hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit and for
cruel bondage." It is idle to talk, as so many newspapers as well as
private individuals do, as though domestic service were the cure-all
for these half-starving, under-paid women. A great majority of the
women who are slaves to these sweaters, have families of little
children depending on them, that are as dear to their hearts as are the
children of more fortunate mothers to them. Dr. Barnardo, of London,
who has had a most extensive experience among the poor, tells of a poor
woman, with a husband lying disabled in the hospital, earning her
living by charing and odd jobs, while she herself was receiving
out-door hospital relief for physical debility. Driven at last to
accept assistance from the relieving officer, she hastened home, placed
the bread and meat on a table, and fell dead of exhaustion. Dr.
Barnardo was sent for, and beside the dead body of the mother he was
surprised, as well he might be, to find five well-fed, chubby children.
The poor, slum mother had literally starved herself to death that her
children might live! Truly, as Coleridge says, "A mother is the holiest
thing alive;" and God never intended that the almshouse or the orphan
asylum should be the only refuge held open for a mother who is able and
willing to work to support her children.

In the ninth question our critic says: "If her work is worth more than
she gets, can she not get it? A little inquiry into the condition of
the clothing trade and some examination of the facts might disclose to
you that the poor sewing-woman is poor because she sews poorly, and
that there is always a scarcity of skilful and intelligent
sewing-women, at full wages." The more thorough my examination into the
facts of the case, the more I am convinced that the sweating system is
demoralizing the entire clothing trade, as it will every trade it
touches. Whether the woman sews poorly or not, she does not, in any
class she may be placed, receive the wages to which she is entitled.

[Illustration: NORTH END JUNK SHOP.]

The conclusion of my critic's letter is, I think, as remarkable as
anything in it. He says: "My final question is, how do you propose to
help those who are incapable of helping themselves, without pauperizing
them yet more than they are pauperized under their present conditions?
What will you do when you have destroyed the house and done away with
the sweater?" To this part of the concluding question I simply say, I
will be a Christian, and pay honest wages for honest work. But the
critic continues: "Are you justified, as a Christian minister, in
creating prejudice and arousing malignant passion by the use of the
term 'slave?' Can you defend or justify this term under the conditions
as they are stated in the printed report of your sermon? I venture to
put these questions to you because I think that the dangerous class in
this community is to be found among persons who, without intelligence,
create animosity and, by their method of preaching, tend to retard
rather than to promote the progress of the poor and ignorant in this
country." My answer to all that is, that, as a Christian minister, I am
a follower of Him, who, standing in the midst of the self-satisfied and
wealthy oppressors of His times, exclaimed, "Woe unto you, Pharisees!
for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over
judgment and the love of God." And who, standing in the audience of all
the people, said unto His disciples, "Beware of the Scribes which
devour widows' houses, and for a show make long prayers: the same shall
receive greater damnation;" who, standing in the presence of the
lawyers, cried aloud, "Woe unto you, also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men
with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the
burdens with one of your fingers." I am a follower of Him who came "not
to send peace on the earth, but a sword." All an infernal system of
oppression, like the sweating system, asks, is to be let alone. To
uncover its atrocities is like turning over a huge stone in the meadow
in springtime, that has been a hiding-place for bugs and worms that
nest away in the dark. As soon as the hot, searching sunlight finds
them, they will wriggle and squirm in agony until they can crawl under
cover again. So I do not wonder that, when the hideous cruelty of the
tenement-house sweat-shop is brought to light, the sweater and all his
friends wriggle and squirm in an agony of fright and shame. Neither am
I alarmed that this critic, as a type of conservatism, regards me as a
member of the most dangerous class in the community. It was ever thus.
The old antislavery agitators were considered the most dangerous men in
the republic, and I remember that a very distinguished minister once
bitterly regretted the agitation on the evils of slavery, because he
feared it would destroy the prospect for a revival of religion in the
city where he lived.

[Illustration: HOME OF THE MATHERS.]

If to be a Christian minister is to stand as a policeman to hold back
the righteous indignation of the robbed and degraded laborer, or preach
patience and contentment to empty stomachs,--empty that the sweater may
grow rich and fat on the toil of orphans and widows,--then I spurn the
title as beneath the dignity of my manhood; but if, as I take it, to be
a Christian minister is to be like my Master, the brother of all men,
rich or poor, standing forever as the unflinching enemy of oppression
and injustice wherever found, as the friend and advocate of the
defenceless and the weak, then I am proud of the title, and thank God
for its unspeakable privilege.




IV.

THE PLAGUE OF THE SWEAT-SHOP.


"Can the heart be deformed, and contract incurable ugliness and
infirmity under the pressure of disproportionate misfortune, like the
spine beneath too low a vault?"

--VICTOR HUGO: _Les Miserables_.


The Klamath Lake Indians in Oregon have a strange and weird fashion of
mourning their dead. They dig a hole in the ground, and roof it over
with willows, which they cover with dirt, forming a sort of underground
cabin. In case of death in the family, the relatives go into this
dug-out, which is called a "sweat-lodge," and heated rocks are brought
in and heaped in the centre of the lodge, and water sprinkled over
them, so as to fill the room with steam. In the midst of this
steam-heated, poisonous air the family hover around their heap of
rocks, and sweat for days at a time, in memory of their departed
friends.

When the mourning days are over, they heap up into a cairn beside the
sweat-lodge the stones that have been used, as a monument to their
dead.

But that, after all, is only a brief torture which is soon over, and is
constantly lightened by the hope of relief. The sweat-lodge of our
modern civilization is a much more serious matter. The tortured victims
who are suffering there, are not mourning for their dead friends, but
for the living, and in the dark night of their sorrow there is no
promise of a brighter dawn.

The word "sweater" derives its origin from the Anglo-Saxon word _swat_,
and means the separation or extraction of labor or toil from others,
for one's own benefit. Any person who employs others to extract from
them surplus labor without compensation, is a sweater. A
middleman-sweater is a person who acts as a contractor of such labor
for another man. The position becomes aggravated when the
middleman-sweater, as is usually the case in the modern sweat-shop,
employs the labor himself, at his own house, for the purpose of
extracting a double quantity of labor, either by lowering wages or
working longer hours.

An English writer gives this definition of the sweating system: "One
whereby the middleman tries to get the largest profit, with the least
labor and outlay, out of the maximum labor of his workers." Another
gives three definitions: "First, one who grinds the face of the poor;
second, a man who contributes neither capital, skill, nor speculation,
and yet gets a profit; third, a middleman." Still another describes it
as a systematized payment of unfair wages. Away back in the days of
Queen Anne the term "sweater" was given to a certain class of street
ruffian. The sweaters went about in small bands, and, forming a circle
around an inoffensive wayfarer, pricked him with their swords, and
compelled him to dance till he perspired from the exertion. The sweater
is still a ruffian, though the street is no longer the scene of action,
but, in some attic or tenement-house bedroom, he gathers his victims
from the poorest and most helpless of our population.

It is my purpose, first of all this morning, to show you something of
the growth and development of the sweat-shop in England. It is
reasonable for us to suppose that, if left to itself, it will produce
the same general results in this country that it has there. Fortunately
we have an abundance of data upon which to form our conclusions.

There are in the Boston Public Library five ponderous volumes
containing the evidence taken before a commission, appointed by the
English House of Lords, to examine into the sweating system of Great
Britain.

I think it is well for American laboring-men to know that this evidence
puts beyond question the fact that the sweating business, while it may
begin with the clothing trade, by no means ends there. "The plague of
the sweatshop" is not something of interest to the tailors and
sewing-women only, but is of equal importance to workers of every
class. Take the matchbox trade; before the sweating days, the people
who worked at it received two and three-fourths pence a gross. Now the
large contractors let and sub-let until it is only one and a half pence
a gross, and a woman and a family of children have to work all the week
to make four or five shillings.

The fur trade in Europe has been largely driven into Whitechapel
sweaters' shops. They call the sweater in this business a "chamber
master," and in these foul chambers, in the midst of "bad smells, great
heat, no ventilation, and fetid refuse," men and women swelter and die,
the men getting ten shillings, and the women about five shillings a
week.

[Illustration: THE PEANUTTER.]

The cabinet and upholstery trade is not exempt. Sub-contracting here,
as in clothing, is the first step in sweating. The evidence shows that
sweating began in this business as early as 1855, but has rapidly
increased under pauper immigration from Italy and Russia since 1880.
Much of the work is crowded into garrets and cellars, where there are
no sanitary arrangements. So universally is this so, that the sweater
in this business is called a "garret master." Wages have been brought
down, from forty to fifty shillings a week, to from eighteen to twenty
shillings.

The boot and shoe trade has had the same history. Large numbers of
foreigners are employed in this work. The workers are kept in ignorance
of the language and under surveillance, so as to be taken advantage of.
They are not instructed in the more skilled work, and, to use the words
of one of the witnesses, "are too crushed to resist." They are
compelled to work from eighteen to twenty hours a day. Wages in these
sweat-shops are from ten to fifteen shillings a week.

In Sheffield, the great cutlery manufacturing city, the same system is
prevailing, and a woman whose business was awl-blade grinding, a strong
woman of forty-five years of age, testified that she could only make
six and a half shillings per week.

Military harness and accoutrements are also made by the sweaters. Many
workmen earn only three pence an hour, and complain that they cannot
live on it. The nail trade is in the same condition. A man and wife
working together make thirteen shillings a week. Women's earnings
average from three shillings and a half to six shillings per week.

Large numbers of women are only able to earn three shillings a week at
this business. Boys and girls are paid, in a sweater's chain-shop,
one-half penny per hour.

A witness from Glasgow testified in regard to the clothing shops of
that city: "It is a rule among the sweaters to give the men some money,
a shilling, every night, to keep them alive till the next day. Some of
the men at the end of the week are actually in debt instead of having
anything coming to them. When in debt, they do not, as a rule, come
back, but go to another sweater. The men never actually get any wages,
but are in debt from one year's end till another. All independence is
taken out of the men; they are always in the sweater's power."

A witness from Leeds says: "Wages are driven to a starvation level, and
workmen at piece-work compelled to excessive hours. If the employers
find a good workman, who is earning good wages by piece-work, they try
to reduce prices. Time work is healthier, but no one would believe how
the men are driven in shops where time-work exists."

Another gentleman, testifying about his investigations in Glasgow,
tells of a place he visited, where a sweater had between forty and
fifty women employed in an old boiler shed, a disused part of an
engineer's shop; the women had to get to it by three wooden ladders,
and had to go through a joiner's shop in order to enter the workroom.
There was no sanitary accommodation for these women anywhere. It is a
common practice for sweaters to take on learners, that is to say, to
employ young girls for a certain time to learn the machine part of the
work; but they get no wages for say five or six weeks or so, or two
months, and after that time, if competent, they receive two or three
shillings per week. But the sweater's trick, as soon as the busy season
is over, is to discharge all these girls and take on a new batch.

The practical slavery to which the laboring-people, by the sweating
system, have been degraded, is illustrated on almost every page of the
evidence. One witness testifies: "They do almost as they like with
their victims. The people are afraid to give evidence against them. The
sweater is a law unto himself. One woman I came across says she has not
been paid for her work done some three years ago, on some trivial
pretext which the sweater made. Another deducted a whole week's work
from a woman's wages because she was ten minutes late, and so
aggravated the people in the neighborhood that they smashed his
windows, showing the state of things between the sweater and his
people."

As one would naturally expect, moral degradation keeps pace with the
outrage upon the rights of the laborer. It is claimed that the
Jewesses, who have always had the most unblemished character of any
women in the world, are being ruined in the sweat-shops of London,
where they are herded together with all classes of men in a way which
renders morality and decency next to impossible. One witness bears this
terrible testimony: "The sweating system, in which you have young girls
working with men of all nationalities, and of all degrees of
intelligence, conduces to their being later on, and they are mostly, to
my certain knowledge, prostitutes. Most of the young English girls whom
we can see in the Strand and Oxford Street are, or have been,
tailoresses, and the conditions conduce to that effect."

So great and wide-spread is this question of the increase of immorality
in England, under the reign of the sweat-shop, that a barrister-at-law,
Mr. Wm. Thompson, has written a novel entitled, "The Sweater's Victim,"
which has for its burden the ruin of girls through the "plague of the
sweat-shop."

It is easy to say, "Oh, well, these horrible things you are telling us
about belong to the Old World!" I would to God they did belong to the
Old World alone, but the horrible truth is, that this vicious system is
like a banyan-tree that has run its roots under the sea, and is coming
up, and blossoming, and flourishing in all our great American cities.
Listen to this description of the slaves of the sweat-shop in New York,
given by the _New York Herald_: "In the lower portion of the great east
side of this city, are hundreds of tall, ill-appearing tenement houses,
in which thousands of half-starved, sunken-eyed men and women are
crowded into small, foul, over-heated rooms, working day and night for
just enough to keep body and soul together. Scattered among the workers
are dirty children, and sometimes cats and dogs. Everything in these
places has to stand aside for work. It is work, work, work, day and
night, year in and year out. In these over-crowded rooms the air is
poisoned with the heat from the stoves, the steam from the cooking, and
the fumes of oil and gas. Very few of the toilers can speak English.
They are the most wretched-looking, miserably-paid class of workers in
America. They are foreigners, and come chiefly from Russia and Poland.
No sunshine enters into their lives. Their existence is one hard, deep,
grinding toil. They have no hope of brighter days to come. As they have
worked for years, so they expect to work in the future. But the sweater
does not care. He has his contracts with the manufacturers. Every day
great bundles of clothing are dumped into these dens, and then the
slaves are driven at full speed to make them up. Competition is keen,
but the sweater makes money."

[Illustration: INSIDE A SWEAT-SHOP.]

The Journeymen Tailors' National Union, in its fifth annual report,
describes in detail one of these New York sweat-shops, similar to those
which the recent commission, appointed by the Governor of
Massachusetts, found to be the manufactories of enormous quantities of
clothing for Boston firms: "On the first floor, which was occupied by
two families, was a contractor, or 'sweater,' who made overcoats. In
the front room, 8x16 ft., eight full-grown men were at work, some on
sewing-machines, a man pressing, and others finishing. They were
hollow-cheeked and cadaverous. Trousers and undershirts were their only
apparel. In the rear room, 9x14, were six other men, almost identical
in appearance with those in the front. All were working as if for dear
life.

"This place was simply indescribable in its filthiness. The only
household furniture discernible (for the contractor and his family
lived in the rooms), were a bedstead and a child's crib in one of the
two dark, so-called bedrooms. Bedding and overcoats were piled up
together. The floors were four inches deep with dirt and cotton
battings and scraps of linings. The ceilings and woodwork looked as
though they had not seen a brush since the house was built years ago.
Water from the floor above had leaked through the ceiling, but it
seemed to make no difference. One stove was used by the pressers and
the cook. It did not appear that there was any regular meal hour. There
was a table littered with dirty dishes, morsels of food, and scraps of
coats. One man was seated, eating out of a dish with his fingers,
without the aid of spoon, knife, or fork. As soon as he had finished,
he merely wiped his hands on some cotton batting, and proceeded with
his work. The poor creatures were haggard and apparently stupid." What
wonder?

Dr. George C. Stiebling, of New York, who accompanied the recent Boston
investigating committee, says, in an affidavit made after a careful
investigation, that the New York sweatshops "in which clothing is
manufactured, and which serve at the same time as dwelling-rooms for
the bosses, their families, and boarders, are overcrowded,
ill-ventilated, over-heated, full of dirt, filth, vermin and stench,
and that, consequently, they are in a most unwholesome,
health-destroying and disease-breeding condition." The doctor, speaking
of one particular case, says: "On the fourth floor I found four very
small rooms, occupied by five sewing-machines, twenty-four working
hands, and the family of the boss consisting of himself, wife, and five
living children. The mother reported to affiant that, within the last
few years, six of her children had died of various diseases here in the
same place." Relying upon these and other facts, which he relates, the
Doctor declares it to be his deliberate conclusion, as a medical man,
that "the dust, filth, and dirt, accumulated in the 'sweating dens' he
has visited and examined, contain the germs of the prevailing
infectious diseases, such as diphtheria, scarlatina, measles,
erysipelas, and smallpox, and that the clothing manufactured in these
shops is impregnated with such germs, and consequently may transmit and
spread the aforesaid diseases to persons who handle and wear it."

These places referred to in this affidavit by Dr. Stiebling, who is a
wealthy and respectable medical practitioner, are places where goods
are made almost exclusively for Boston houses.

Another physician of standing and repute, Dr. Markierez, who made an
investigation of the sweating district, in connection with a commission
from the advisory board of the operative tailors of Boston, in August,
1889, states that the section of New York City in which the
tenement-house system of clothing manufacture is carried on, is filthy
and infested with vermin; and he further affirms that the sanitary
condition of these tenement houses is so low that the death rate is
frightful and almost beyond comprehension.

That the sweating system in New York degrades the men and women
employed in the sweatshops, may be inferred from the fact that men and
women to the number of twelve have been found sleeping together in one
of these workrooms. The tenement-house factories are so crowded that no
such thing as privacy or modesty, on the part of men or women, is
possible; the usual water-closet is a wooden bucket upon every landing,
which fills the air with its vile and death-breeding stench.

The New York sweaters, like some of their English prototypes, take
advantage of the newly arrived foreigners who do not understand the
language. Green hands, who have just arrived at Castle Garden, are pure
gold for the contractors. Full-grown men among these will receive,
probably, two dollars a week, but one case was discovered where a man
was only paid eighty cents for his week's labor. A fourteen-year-old
boy was found in a Jewish sweatshop, who, although he had been in the
shop eight months, was still receiving only his board. If that is not
slavery, what is it?

But now let us come to Boston. To begin with, I. S. Mullen, State
Inspector of factories and workshops, testified, before the committee
on public health, of the Massachusetts Legislature, on the 30th of last
March, that he had found two places in Boston as bad as anything he had
seen in New York. How much that means, you can imagine, after the
descriptions I have given.

The State inspectors of factories and public buildings, in their report
to Chief Wade of the Massachusetts district police, say that "the
confidential clerk of perhaps the largest concern in town assured us
that but a small part of their goods were made in New York, and that in
shops; that all of their nice work was done in Boston; admitted the
fact of tenement-house clothing, but thought the greater part of it was
worn in New York, and wished that its manufacture could be prohibited
by law. This gentleman, as well as some others questioned, believed
that relatively there was as much tenement-house work done in Boston as
in New York, and under nearly as unwholesome conditions."

[Illustration: PAUL, REVERE HOUSE, NORTH SQUARE.]

The _Boston Evening Record,_ of September 29, 1890, speaks as follows
of Boston sweating: "The shops are scattered all over the city proper,
and a visit to one is a visit to all. The cheapest shop in the city is
on lower Hanover Street. The work is done in a square, low-studded room
about twenty-four feet square. Within this space are sixteen women and
three men at work. There are also half a dozen sewing-machines, a large
stove (kept in full blast to heat the flat-irons, necessary at every
stage of clothing manufacture), two pressing-machines, and piles of
unfinished clothing. Two windows illumine the room, furnishing light
for the nineteen workers. Working hours are from seven A. M. to six P.
M., with no clipping of time at either end of the day. The proprietor
is a Hebrew. One of the operatives thus describes the life: 'We make
from two dollars and a half to four dollars a week, depending on how
strong we are, but none of us can make the last figure very long. The
air is bad, and the room is kept too hot. In the warm, summer days the
heat was something awful. Every little while there is a cut-down, and
about once in so often the boss fails, and leaves the girls in the
lurch about their pay.

"'Another bad thing is the "sample" game. A small lot of garments are
brought in, which, we are told, must be made up very carefully. We are
made to rip, and do work over, to suit the notions of the big firms,
who want the garments to send out on the road. It takes twice as long
to make such a coat, but we get no more for it. Of course the game is
played on us when the coats are not really samples. If we accidentally
scorch the cloth a little, in pressing, we have to pay for that.'"

An officer of the Operatives' Union puts the number of sweat-shops in
Boston at one hundred and fifty, but this does not include the smaller
tenement-house shops that are beginning to develop here very rapidly.

I have, myself, visited a number of these shops during the past few
weeks. I will describe a few of them very briefly. Here is one in two
rooms. There is no light except from the end of the room, which
contains twenty-three people, men, women, and little girls. I am
satisfied that some of the girls could not have been more than twelve
or thirteen. One of the women had a little baby which, though almost
entirely naked, was crying from the heat and poisonous air. The place
did not look as if it had been swept for weeks. The clothing, both
finished and unfinished, was piled up in every direction, and workers
walked over it with their sweaty feet, for they wore only such clothing
as was absolutely indispensable. The stench of the place was sickening
in the extreme.

I went into another place, where there were eighteen men and twelve
girls. As near as I could judge, the ages of the girls were from ten to
fifteen. The men were nearly all smoking, and that, together with the
heat from the fire necessary for the pressing, made an atmosphere that
was almost intolerable, even for a few moments. I was not astonished
that the girls looked pallid and sickly. There was only one filthy
water-closet for men and women.

[Illustration: REAR OF NORTH END TENEMENT HOUSE.]


 I was in a little tenement-house Jew shop where a man and four boys
were making knee pants in a bedroom. The clothing was piled upon the
bed, which was one of the filthiest assortments of tenement-house
bedding that I have ever seen--and that is saying a great deal. The
largest shop I visited was one in which there were seventy-nine people
employed. They occupied four rooms. The rooms were quite large, but
were filthy almost beyond description. The coal was piled up in huge
heaps on the floor; ashes, both in barrels and heaps, were scattered
about; clothing was flung over the floors everywhere; dirt and scraps
of cloth literally made a carpet for these rooms. These seventy-nine
people were about evenly divided between the sexes, and yet for all
this herd of humanity there was only one water-closet, the door of
which stood open, on the landing, and the poisonous stench filled all
the rooms; the floor about it was damp and filthy. How any woman or
girl could work in this shop, and retain her self-respect, I do not
understand. I estimated that at least twenty boys and girls of this
company were under fifteen; one little boy sitting on the floor hard at
work was almost crying with a headache. The men were smoking cigarettes
here, as in other places, and this added to the poisonous condition of
the air. The majority of these people could not speak English. Taken
altogether, they were a hopeless-looking lot. Many of them had a
brutal, hunted look in their faces.

Remember, this is not Glasgow, or London, or New York, but in the heart
of Boston, in the month of June, 1891. It is easy to say that these
people are foreigners, and that they had poor wages where they came
from; that they are probably as well off here as they were at home, and
that they are too ignorant and brutal to suffer, as more refined and
cultivated people would. Putting all other questions aside for a
moment, let us remember that these people are setting up a standard of
living in our midst, which, if permitted to become established, will
dictate its cruel laws to all the laboring people in the community.

[Illustration: COMMONWEALTH AVENUE.]

If this system is allowed to go on, there are people living in luxury,
who are indifferently pooh-poohing this whole question, whose
grandchildren will be starved to death in a sweat-shop.

No investment exacts such cruel usury as indifference to injustice. A
wrong, uncared for in a North End tenement house will avenge itself,
sooner or later, on Beacon Hill or Commonwealth Avenue.

I thank God for every indication of discontent, on the part of laboring
men and women, at conditions which cramp or fetter the free utterance
of their manhood or womanly glory. In that divine discontent is the
hope of the race. Our own Lowell sings:--

  "The hope of truth grows stronger day by day.
  I hear the soul of man around me waking,
  Like a great sea its frozen fetters breaking,
  And flinging up to heaven its sunlit spray,
  Tossing huge continents in scornful play,
  And crushing them with din of grinding thunder
  That makes old emptinesses stare in wonder.
  The memory of a glory passed away
  Lingers in every heart, as in the shell
  Resounds the by-gone freedom of the sea.
  And every hour new signs of promise tell
  That the great soul shall once again be free;
  For high and yet more high the murmurs swell
  Of inward strife for truth and liberty."




V.

THE RELATION OF WAGES TO MORALS.


  "When the toiler's heart you clutch,
  Conscience is not valued much;
  He recks not a bloody smutch
    On his gold;
  Everything to you he defers,
  You are potent reasoners;
  At your whisper Treason stirs,
    Hunger and Cold!"

--JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.


When Henry W. Grady, the brilliant Southern orator, was in Boston on
his last visit, only a few weeks before his sad and untimely death, he
charmed us all by his entrancing word-picture of a happy country home.
The fields, the lowing kine, the well-appointed farmhouse, the noble
farmer, the contented matron, the dutiful children, the hospitable
welcome of their guest, the cheerful and reverent evening worship--all
these and more stand out on the glowing canvas under his words, as I
have myself seen them in real life a thousand times. About such a home,
and the toilers that support it, there is a halo of glory. There is,
however, a great deal said about the dignity of labor which is nothing
more than oratorical commonplace--the meaningless froth of the
rhetorician. There is no dignity about labor in itself. What is there
about piling bricks on top of each other, or mixing mortar, or sewing
blue denim into overalls, or trading earthen jars for nickel coin, that
has about it any inherent dignity? It is only as there is mixed with
the mortar, or builded with the bricks, the holy cement of a moral
purpose; only as there is stitched into the cloth the diviner thread of
hopeful love; only as the deed gathers the aroma of an aspiring human
life, is it a dignified transaction. But when you make of the laborer a
slave, degrade his work to a mere fight for bread, harass him by
continual debt, put him in a vile tenement house that smothers all holy
ambition, labor has no longer dignity, it smells rather of the dungeon
and the pit.

[Illustration: THE FIND.]

Honest labor, continued through reasonable hours, paid at a rate which
assures a wholesome support, is ennobling; but overwork, that is
hopeless of comfortable reward, is degrading in the extreme. On the
continent of Europe, where men and women work in the factories for
fourteen and sixteen hours in a day, the laborers are reduced simply to
machines. They have a wooden look, when you meet them on the streets,
that is startling to an American observer. Every observant European
travelling in this country notices the difference in the intelligence
of the average countenance of American working-people, both among men
and women. But how long can we expect that to last if the dominion of
the sweater is to spread in our midst? Reduce wages to the point where
the laborer has to either remain at the shop or take his work home and
work into the night, and drive it on through Sunday as well, and you
simply brutalize the workman. It is idle, and pharisaical as well, for
us to shrug our shoulders and say this is not a question for the
pulpit. So intimate is the relation between the body and the soul, that
every question which has to do with the feeding or clothing of a human
body is, at the last analysis, a moral question. The great generals of
history have understood that the moral force of their armies depended
largely upon the provision wagon. Frederick the Great once wrote:
"Where one desires a solid basis for the good organization of an army,
it is necessary to have regard to the stomach." Napoleon once said:
"The soldier has his heart in his abdomen;" and Von Moltke adds his
testimony: "In a campaign no food is costly except that which is bad."

One of the greatest of physiologists, Moleschott, says: "Courage,
readiness, and activity depend in a great measure upon a healthy and
abundant nourishment. Hunger makes heart and head empty. No force of
will can make up for an impoverished blood, a badly nourished muscle,
or an exhausted nerve." All these tend to the one conclusion, that the
moral and intellectual life is very largely subject to physiological
conditions. A man, of course, may be a scoundrel and well-fed; but, on
the other hand, poor food and undue exposure to cold and heat have
tremendous influence in breaking down the resistance-power against
temptation to evil. Courage is the safeguard both of truth and honesty.

Break down a man's courage by overwork, bad food, and poisonous air,
and you have opened the way for lying, theft, and a whole brood of
vicious tendencies. You may find this strongly illustrated in Hugo's
story of Jean Valjean, who in his despair begins his criminal career by
stealing a loaf of bread to keep his sister's children from starving.

We get so in the habit of thinking of drunkenness as the chief cause of
poverty, as it undoubtedly is,--for when a man drinks to excess his
whole character falls to pieces like a child's house of cards,--that we
forget, or fail to perceive, the companion fact, that poverty is, in
turn, a great and serious factor in the spread of drunkenness.

When a man or woman is physically exhausted, there is a natural craving
for stimulant, and the power of resistance is reduced to the lowest
point, if not to zero. It will not do for us to forget that the drink
habit is often a symptom of exhaustion. Here are a man and a woman who
receive such low wages that they are driven into unhealthy quarters.
They ought to have four or five rooms in order to the least approach to
wholesome living; but poverty herds them in two, or it may be only one,
for within the past month I have myself seen many families of father
and mother and as many as five children packed into one little room, in
one case only seven by nine feet. The air is poisonous; and, after the
rent is paid, the food-money is insufficient, and sickness is the
result. I do not mean that large numbers of people in Boston are
literally starved to death for lack of bread; but I do mean that
thousands of men and women and children in this city are compelled to
eat such a quality of food that the result is a condition of mind and
body which is subject to an insatiable thirst for strong drink, and
makes drunkards of those who would otherwise be sober people. In
company with two gentlemen I was examining a filthy court a few weeks
ago, when, in the rear of a bake-shop under a shed, we noticed some
curious machinery, and were looking at it rather inquisitively when a
young lad came up out of the bakery in the cellar, and, in answer to
our inquiries, said in a matter-of-course way that it was a mill for
grinding old bread and stale crackers into flour, which was again baked
into a cheaper class of bread. This grade of flour may make a very
nourishing food, but the incident left a most unpleasant taste in my
mouth.

[Illustration: THE SOUTH END MISSION.]

It is a commonplace thing, I know, to say that the American home is the
strongest fortress of our civilization. It is one of those things,
however, that needs to be said over and over again. Before the church
or the state there must be the home. Destroy that, and the whole fabric
of our civilization will come crashing to the ground in a common ruin.
But the reduction of wages below the comfort point means, inevitably,
the deterioration of the home. The father and mother and the children
must know each other, if the home is to be welded together with mutual
love. Acquaintance of that character, however, requires that they shall
be together under such conditions that they may come to enjoy the gifts
and talents that each possess. But wages are being reduced to the point
where the home is only a sleeping-barrack and a lunch-counter for
supper and breakfast. Remember that poor wages mean long hours; and
long hours that exhaust all the energy of the laborer mean ignorance;
and ignorance, when it is finished, means immorality.

There is only about so much vital force in the average human being. If
all this force is put into one's daily toil, there is none left for
helpful conversation, for sympathetic communion at home, for uplifting
reading, or for worship. Persevere in that course, and you reach
barbarism: the road faces that way.

Insufficient wages have their relation to the demoralization of
laboring-people in many ways that are not perceived by people who look
no deeper than the surface. The city abounds in organized firms of
sharpers who prey upon the necessities of the hard-pinched laborer. If
you will examine a copy of "The Banker and Tradesman," published in
this city, and look down the column of chattel-mortgages, for any week,
you will see a very innocent-appearing column, to the unadvised, but
one that is full of devilish wickedness to a man who has been behind
the scenes. If there be anything in Boston that can rival the cruelty
of the tenement-house sweat-shop, you will find it in the dens of some
chattel-mortgage sharks, whose business methods I have investigated.
Here is a woman who made her living by making overalls at five cents a
pair. Times, of course, were always hard with her. Her husband was out
of work a good part of the time. At a period when they were in a
specially hard place, they borrowed ten dollars of one of these human
sharks. They were to pay two dollars a month interest on it. If at any
time it ran over two or three days and the interest was not paid, so
that the collector had to call for it, he charged and collected two
dollars extra for calling. I should have stated that this money was
secured by a chattel-mortgage upon every article of household furniture
they possessed. These mortgages are ironclad, and put the people at the
mercy of the man who holds them. In the course of fifteen months, under
cover of this loan of ten dollars, this firm managed to squeeze forty
dollars out of the hard earnings of these people; and then they came to
foreclose the mortgage and take away the furniture, and would have
removed every household article they possessed, had not the
police-officer on the beat, a man of noble heart and generous
instincts, stepped in and agreed to be responsible personally for the
amount. Here is another case, all of the papers of which are now in my
hands: A man and his wife borrowed twenty dollars; the firm charged two
dollars for making out the papers, so that the note read twenty-two
dollars. The agent called on them once, and charged two dollars for
that. In the course of ten months they paid twenty dollars interest.
The matter then came to the attention of the secretary of a charitable
association, who forced the brokers to settle up the case for six
dollars. I know of another case of a Swede family who "got behind," and
could not pay the rent. Sickness came upon them, and they borrowed
fifty dollars. In a little over a year they paid sixty dollars
interest, but the principal had not been reduced a dollar.

Some of the instalment firms are just as bad, and many times are in
league with these sharpers. A case has come to my knowledge where a man
with a wife and family of five children bought furniture amounting to a
hundred and thirty-five dollars. After he had paid seventy dollars, he
was taken sick and had to go to the hospital. The wife was unable to
meet the instalments promptly, and the firm threatened to take away her
furniture. She asked the agent of a charitable organization to
intercede for her. This gentleman wrote to the firm and begged them to
postpone their foreclosure, and mercifully give the poor family a
little more time. But this they absolutely refused to do, and came in
the midst of the raw winds of March, and took all the household
furniture away, including the stove and the loaf of bread in the oven.
These are not hearsay stories, but facts that can be proved by
undoubted evidence.

Women are the greatest sufferers from depreciation of wages.
Commissioner Carroll Wright's report on the working-women in great
cities, given to the public two years since, contains some interesting
facts. The investigation on which the report is based covered
twenty-two of the larger cities of the United States, and three hundred
and forty-two distinct industries, excluding the professional and
semi-professional callings, such as teaching, stenography, typewriting,
and telegraphy. The total number of women individually interviewed was
17,427.

This is only six or seven per cent of the whole number of women engaged
in the class of work indicated, but the Commissioner declares that the
investigation is representative so far as the number of women whose
affairs enter into it is to be considered. The average age of the women
is given as twenty-two years and seven months, though the concentration
is greatest at the age of eighteen.... The general average at the
beginning of work is put at fifteen years and four months.

A great majority of the women interviewed are single, and the average
weekly earnings for the cities, as a whole, are five dollars and
twenty-four cents. Take your pencil and count it up--room-rent, board,
and clothing--and see how much you have left for books or music,
recreation or religion.

The twentieth annual report of the Massachusetts Bureau of Labor
Statistics for last year shows not only the poor pay of women, but the
cruel and unjust disparity of wages between men and women doing the
same work. Beginning with the lowest rate of wages, for the first
comparison of relative male and female pay, it appears that of actual
wages paid to 248,200 employees of both sexes, 8.99 per cent of all
males receive less than five dollars a week, 4.85 per cent less than
six dollars, and 6.77 per cent less than seven dollars. That is, about
20 per cent of all males average less than one dollar per day. But the
females working at this low scale of wages comprise 72.94 per cent of
all the workers. In the higher scale of wages, 63.78 per cent of all
the males receive a dollar and a half or more per day. But only a
little more than 10 per cent of the females employed are paid wages as
high. Out of 7,257 receiving twenty dollars a week and over, only 268
are women. But the cruelest part of all this is that women, standing
side by side with men in the same shops and stores, are paid far less
wages for the same work. This is an aristocracy of sex that shames and
belies all our claims to democracy.

This injustice in the wages of women is already beginning to bear a
fearful fruitage. Miss Alice S. Woodbridge, the secretary of the
Working-women's Society of New York, after a recent tour of
investigation, sums up the result of her observations in the following
words: "The wages paid to women average between four and four and
one-half dollars per week, and are often reduced by unreasonable and
excessive fines. The little cash-girls do not average two dollars a
week. In one large house the average wages for saleswomen and
cash-girls is two dollars and forty cents a week. In many fashionable
houses the saleswomen are not allowed to leave the counter between the
hours of eleven A. M. and three P. M., except for lunch, and if a
saleswoman has a customer when the lunch-hour arrives, she is obliged
to remain and wait on the customer, and the time so consumed is
deducted from lunch-time.

"If mistakes are made, they are charged to the saleswomen and
cash-girls. Generally, the goods are placed in a bin and slide down to
the floor below. If a check is lost, the goods are charged to the
saleswoman, though it may be the fault of the shipping-clerk. In some
stores the fines are divided between the superintendent and the
time-keeper. In one store where these fines amounted to three thousand
dollars, the superintendent was heard to reproach the time-keeper with
not being strict enough. Men's wages are very low," says Miss
Woodbridge, "but it seems that they can not fall below the point where
existence is possible. Women's wages, however, have no low limit, since
the paths of shame are always open to them. Cases might be cited where
frail, delicate women, unable to exist on the salaries they earn, are
forced to crime or suicide. The story of Mrs. Henderson, who threw
herself from the attic window of a lodging-house some time ago, is the
story of many another.

"There have been many such instances in the last two weeks. Mrs.
Henderson could not live on the salaries offered her. She could live if
she accepted the 'propositions' of her employers. The hope of an easier
life, the fear of death, and the natural clinging to life, turn many
working-women into the paths of shame." Miss Woodbridge further adds
that "in Paris it is an understood fact that women who are employed in
shops cannot exist without assistance from other questionable sources,
and," she continues, "unless something is done at once, this must also
become the case in our land, where we pride ourselves on our respect
for honest toil."

Helen Campbell, in her "Prisoners of Poverty," opens a little window
into the terrible temptation which comes to generous young souls under
this pressure of unrequited toil. In her true story of Rose Haggerty,
who was sewing her very life into the support of her orphan brothers
and sisters, we have a practical illustration of the results of this
injustice. "There came a Saturday night when she took her bundle of
work,--shirts again, and now eighty-five cents a dozen (it is worse
than that under some of our Boston sweaters); there were five dozen,
and when the dollar and a half was laid away for rent, it was easy to
see what was left for food, coal, and light. Clothing had ceased to be
a part of the question. The children were barefoot. They had a bit of
meat on Sunday; but for the rest, bread, potatoes, and tea were the
diet, with cabbage and a bit of pork, now and then, for luxuries.

"Nora (a little sick sister) had been failing, and to-night Rose
planned to buy her 'something with a taste to it,' and looked at the
sausages hanging in long links with a sudden reckless determination to
get enough for all. She was faint with hunger, and staggered as she
passed a basement restaurant, from which came savory smells, snuffed
longingly by some half-starved children. Her turn was long in coming;
and as she laid her bundle on the counter, she saw suddenly that her
needle had 'jumped,' and that half an inch or so of band required
re-sewing. As she looked, the foreman's knife slipped under the place,
and in a moment half the band had been ripped. 'That's no good,' he
said. 'You are getting botchier all the time.' 'Give it to me,' Rose
pleaded. 'I'll do it over.' 'Take it if you like,' he said
indifferently, 'but there is no pay for that kind o' work.' He had
counted her money as he spoke, and Rose cried out as she saw the sum:
'Do you mean you will cheat me of the whole dozen, because half an inch
on one has gone wrong?' 'Call it what you like,' he said. 'R. & Co.
ain't going to send out anything but first-class work. Stand out of the
way and let the next have a chance. There's your three dollars and
forty cents.'

"Rose went out silently, choking down rash words that would have lost
her work altogether; but as she left the dark stairs, and felt again
the cutting wind from the river, she stood still, something more than
despair on her face. The children could hardly fare worse without her
than with her. The river could not be colder than this cold world that
gave her no chance, and that had no place for anything but rascals.

"She turned toward it as the thought came; but some one had her arm,
and she cried out suddenly, and tried to wrench away. 'Easy now,' a
voice said. 'You're breakin' your heart for trouble, an' here I am in
the nick o' time. Come with me an' you'll have no more of it, for my
pocket's full to-night, and that's more than it'll be in the mornin' if
you do n' take me in tow.' It was a sailor from a merchantman just in,
and Rose looked at him for a moment. Then she took his arm and walked
toward Roosevelt Street. It might be dishonor, but it was certainly
food and warmth for the children, and what did it matter? She had
fought her fight for twenty years, and it had been a vain struggle."

[Illustration: A BOSTON "BRIDGE OF SIGHS."]

When she poured her heart-breaking story into Helen Campbell's ears,
she said, "Let God Almighty judge who's to blame most--I that was
driven, or them that drove me to the pass I'm in."

Ah! but you say, even as you sigh over this fearful picture, "That is
in wicked New York." Yes, but Boston has its tragedies equally as
heartrending and shameful. During this past week a thoroughly
respectable young married woman, whose evidence is indisputable, and
who, prior to her marriage, had worked for several years as a
saleswoman in the Boston stores, told me that at one time her employer
told her that, on account of the dull season, he would have to
discharge her, but that he would give her a good recommendation, and if
she would take it to another prominent dry-goods house, which he named,
he thought she would at once secure employment. She took the letter of
commendation, and went as directed. The employing agent of the firm to
which she was sent asked her how much salary she had been receiving,
and she answered, "Five dollars a week." He replied, "I cannot pay you
that much, I can only give you three dollars a week;" to which she
answered, "I can hardly live on what I have now, and I could not
possibly live on three dollars a week." He replied, with an insulting
and meaning smile, "You would have to depend on the outside friend for
that." She looked him in the eye, and said, "I want to earn an honest
living, and I don't want any outside friend," and at that walked away.
She told her employer of her reception; and he said he did not intend
to discharge her, but had heard that this firm was in the habit of
doing that sort of thing, and was determined to find out if it were
true.

I received a letter from a gentleman in Conway, N. H., this week, who
writes, not knowing that I was intending to discuss this question:
"After you have given the sweating-system one round, can you not take
up the question of the girls working in the big stores? I have just
heard a well-authenticated account of a man high in authority in one of
the largest stores, suggesting the way to ruin to a young girl from the
country, who said, when she learned what her wages were to be, that
they would not be sufficient to give her a bare support. This not only
shows the attitude of these wealthy merchants to the souls of their
working-girls, but it shows that they are conscious of their attitude,
and have deliberately chosen to take it." I am told, upon undoubtedly
credible testimony, that another young woman who came to Boston from
the country, and sought work in several stores, was so outraged at the
vile suggestions which were made to her about means of adding to her
salary, that she went back to the house of her friend,--a lady of as
high standing as any in the city,--and cried and sobbed all night long.
She said she would beg or starve before she would submit herself to
such outrage again.

It is impossible to turn these incidents aside as exaggerations. They
are horrible, I know; but the most horrible thing about them is, that
they are true. You will say perhaps, as some have said during the past
few weeks of my exposure of the sweat-shops, "What good will it all do,
this harrowing of people's minds with these cruel stories?"

I do not know how much good will be done. I only know that I could not
retain my self-respect and keep silent.

Nothing is more foolish than for us to keep still, hoping that in some
way these wrongs will remedy themselves. Shall we look to the sweater,
the chattel-mortgage shark, the lecherous merchant, to reform
themselves? They do not care how long, nor at what a pittance, men and
women work, or to what fearful extremities they are driven. Reforms
will never come from the gold-box of Mammon. We must cry aloud and
spare not until these devilish cruelties and unblushing crimes are
impossible in our fair city.

The words of the Christ, as interpreted by James Russell Lowell, are
ringing in my ears:--

  "With gates of silver and bars of gold,
  Ye have fenced my sheep from their father's fold.
  I have heard the dropping of their tears
  In heaven these eighteen hundred years."

Then if we reply with the selfish assurance of some of these
pharisaical political economists who are criticising me to-day:--

  "O Lord and Master, not ours the guilt,
  We build but as our fathers built;
  Behold Thine images, how they stand,
  Sovereign and sole, through all the land."

How his answer will put us to shame and confusion:--

  "Then Christ sought out an artisan,
  A low-browed, stunted, haggard man,
  And a motherless girl, whose fingers thin,
  Pushed from her faintly want and sin.

  These set He in the midst of them,
  And as they drew back their garment-hem,
  For fear of defilement, 'Lo here,' said He,
  'The IMAGES ye have made of Me!'"




VI.

THE WAGES AND TEMPTATIONS OF WORKING-PEOPLE.


  "Face to face with shame and insult
    Since she drew her baby breath,
  Were it strange to find her knocking
    At the cruel door of death?
  Were it strange if she should parley
    With the great arch fiend of sin?"

--ALICE CARY: _The Edge of Doom._


I have been asked to give a reason for the faith that is in me in
regard to certain painful charges made by me in a recent sermon on
Wages and Morals--to the effect that the persons high in authority in
some respectable Boston stores regard favorably immoral relations on
the part of the employees, in order to make it possible for them to
live on the slender wages paid them.

Without repeating here any of the cases mentioned in my sermon, which
has had considerable publicity through the daily press, permit me to
quote Mr. Henry Chase, agent of the Society for the Prevention of
Crime. He says that in conversation with a leading Boston merchant, the
merchant said plainly that he had every reason to believe that some of
the men working in his store paid the room-rent and a trifling sum
besides to working-girls, and lived with them regularly. Another Boston
merchant said to Mr. Chase that he regarded that kind of life on the
part of his clerks favorably; that the wages these young men received
made it impossible for them to marry and support a wife.

I am informed of another case, upon perfectly credible authority, of
two young women, strangers in the city, who applied to a leading store
for a situation and were offered work, but when informed of the wages
they were to receive, exclaimed, "How could we live on such wages as
that?" The employment agent of the house replied, "It is presumed you
will have a gentleman friend to assist you." The girls looked at him
dumfounded for a moment; and when his meaning dawned upon the one who
had acted as spokesman, she burst into tears and they hurried from the
store. Only the dread of bringing unpleasant notoriety to these
thoroughly respectable young women saved this scoundrel from a
horsewhipping at the hands of their indignant male relatives.

A leading Boston lady of wealth and social standing, writing to thank
me for calling public attention to the subject, says that she herself
knew of a girl who was told to "'look to her gentleman friends' for the
means to eke out a bare livelihood supplied by her wages in a prominent
store;" and adds: "Such things are outrageous, and it is well you are
making them known." I have within the past week received another letter
from the president of the W. C. T. U. in one of the Boston wards, a
lady who has had more than twenty-five years' experience in practical
reform work in this city. She says: "I have just read in my
_Congregationalist_ the reference to your sermon of last Sunday on the
officials in two of our large Boston stores suggesting immoral means of
eking out their scanty wages to their employees. I want to thank you
for presenting this terrible wickedness existing among us, and if the
extent could only be known, every white-ribbon woman in Boston would
boycott those stores. I could call names of splendid young women,
thrown on their own resources, applying for situations, who were
cursed, as we might say, with a good face and a fine figure, fairly
insulted with offers made. More young girls have been ruined in that
way than in any other. In sheer desperation, not even earning enough to
pay the rent of a mean attic and keep hunger away, to say nothing of
clothing and other things, they have, after spending the last cent, and
not having anything to take them home, resorted to the last means."

This is a terrible letter--terribly true. I could go on, column after
column, with these details. "But," the critic says, "why don't you name
these firms, and put them in the pillory of public contempt?" I can
tell you why in a few words. You cannot name the firms without giving
the name of the young woman thus wickedly approached; and to name any
young woman in such a connection, no matter how innocent or pure she
is, is to put a mark upon her as long as she lives.

No woman is willing to run that gantlet; and so, in the very nature of
the case, it would rarely happen that you could publicly punish the
guilty party. "Well, then," says the critic, "you would better hold
your peace." Let us consider that a moment. If a burglary has been
committed in town, do you keep silent until you are prepared to name
the burglar and publicly indict him for trial? No, indeed. You tell all
the neighbors, and publish in all the newspapers, that such a house has
been invaded, that burglars are in town. What is the good of doing
this? Why, any school-boy knows that it is a blessing to every other
householder in the town. It puts people on their guard, and calls
special attention to their bolts and locks. If there is any good reason
why we should not follow the same common-sense course in this matter
under consideration, I do not know what it is.

I do not bring a broad, sweeping accusation against either class of
persons especially concerned in this article. I am no defamer of my
kind. I believe that the majority of Boston merchants are honest,
pure-minded men. I believe that the majority of Boston working-women,
old or young, are as pure and noble as any women in the world.
Nevertheless, I have stated in this article undeniable facts--facts
which I can substantiate to the satisfaction of any honest man or woman
who, still doubting, cares to see me personally about the matter. These
facts are serious enough to give us all reason for solemn and earnest
reflection.




VII.

BOSTON'S UNCLE TOM'S CABIN.

  "That each should in his house abide,
  Therefore was the world so wide."

--RALPH WALDO EMERSON: _Fragments of Nature and Life._

When, over one-half of our land, there hung the black pall of African
slavery, no other one thing, perhaps, did more to reveal the terrible
cruelty of the system, and to arouse the indignation of the civilized
world, than Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

In June, 1882, when the _elite_ of American literature gathered at
Boston to celebrate her seventieth birthday, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes
read a poem in which Mrs. Stowe's share in the emancipation of the
colored race was recorded with equal wit and pathos:--

  "When Archimedes so long ago
  Spoke out so grandly, '_Dos pou sto_--
    Give me a place to stand on;
  I'll move your planet for you now,'
  He little dreamed or fancied how
  The _sto_ at last should find its _pou_
    For woman's faith to land on.

  Her lever was the wand of art,
  Her fulcrum was the human heart,
    Whence all unfailing aid is;
  She moved the earth, its thunders pealed,
  Its mountains shook, its temples reeled,
  The blood-red fountains were unsealed,
    And Moloch sunk to Hades."

Mrs. Stowe, in the preface of her son's biography of herself, aptly
quotes the words of Mr. Valiant-for-Truth in the "Pilgrim's Progress:"
"My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my
courage and skill to him that can get it." May God grant us courage and
skill to use the memory of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" to serve the "white
slaves" of our own time and city!

To begin by quoting from Mrs. Stowe's famous story: "The cabin of Uncle
Tom was a small log building close adjoining to 'the house,' as the
negro _par excellence_ designates his master's dwelling. In front it
had a neat garden-patch where every summer strawberries, raspberries,
and a variety of fruits and vegetables flourished under careful
training." This little log house was a small and crowded dwelling-place
for Uncle Tom and his wife and little ones, yet it had several things
in its favor. In the first place it had plenty of sunshine and pure
air. It was an individual cabin, occupied by Uncle Tom's family alone.
The climate was sunshiny; and when Uncle Tom's wife, Aunt Chloe, wanted
to wash, she could build a fire out in the open air, and spread her
clothing on the fragrant raspberry-bushes, while her woolly-headed
little flock were sent scampering over the pastures and fields.

Now let us look at the Boston cabins. In the first place, there are no
individual cabins for the poor. The price of land makes that
impossible. A big Boston tenement house means from four to ten cabins
on a floor, and from three to six floors under one roof. In a great
many of these sunlight is an impossibility. Boston is peculiarly cursed
with the rear tenement. All through the North End and some parts of the
West End and "the Cove," there abound dark courts, oftentimes reached
only by a tunnel, that are almost entirely barren of the sunlight. For
instance, there is a court off North Street, reached by a tunnel such
as I have described, where the tenement houses are three deep from the
street.

[Illustration: COURT OFF NORTH STREET.]

The inside tenement, facing on the court, through most of the year is
densely packed with people. For a large part of the length of the court
it is only four feet wide, and the front windows of the house, which is
three stories in height, look out on the dark wall which is only four
feet away. On a dark day there is scarcely any light at all in these
rooms; and on the brightest sunshiny day there is only a little light
during the middle of the day, and never any direct rays of the sun. I
found, up in one of these rooms, a young woman with her first-born in
her arms,--a pale, sickly little child, not yet a year old, that will
certainly die before the summer is out, if it stays there. This poor
young mother was born in Maine, and followed her husband down here from
the green fields and the breath of the pines. The husband works out of
the city during the day, coming home late in the evening and going out
in the morning; but all day long the mother and wife is kept here with
her invalid child. Their faces look like potato-vines that have
sprouted and grown in the cellar. They are dying for the lack of
sunshine and pure air.

[Illustration: CELLARWAY LEADING TO UNDERGROUND APARTMENTS.]

Modern science is imperative in its urgent emphasis on the influence of
light and sunshine on health; and we are told that children brought up
even in close valleys do not thrive so well as those raised on the
hillsides or the tablelands, and that families through the generations
grow smaller in stature, and less vigorous in physical and mental
force, if much excluded from light and sunshine. He was a wise old
father who lived out on the plains, and came to visit his son, who had
moved into a deep mountain gorge. At family prayers he thanked the Lord
that his son was still well, although he lived where the sun rose at
nine o'clock in the morning and set at four in the afternoon. But there
are scores of Boston tenement houses where the sun never rises at all,
except on the roof-tops, or now and then sends a slant ray, thrown down
into the dark court in seeming mockery. It is impossible for any one to
get from language alone, either spoken or written, an adequate idea of
the loneliness, the sense of gloom, the filth and squalor, of the
apartments in some of these Boston tenement houses. It requires a
strong stomach, and a still stronger determination that nothing shall
thwart you from knowing how your brothers and sisters live, to take you
the second time into such a place. Go with me into one that is not ten
minutes' walk from the mansions of wealth and luxury on Beacon Hill. We
go back through a narrow passage, where you can touch the walls on
either side of you, and then down some steps into a dark underground
court. Now you have to bend over almost double till you feel your way
to a door on your left, and knock. In answer to the "Come," you open
the door and go in, and are barely able to stand upright inside the
room. We are in a cellar about ten feet square, and this is separated
from others like it by a partition. We are really in one room of a big
cellar stretching under a crowded tenement house over our heads. We
look around us; and as soon as our eyes get accustomed to the
darkness--for the only light is from the narrow width of glass,
reaching from the ground up to the floor which forms the ceiling of the
room where we stand--we see that this is the den--for you cannot call
it anything else--of an old man and his wife. They have both passed
threescore. Their locks are white, and they are no longer able to work
as hard as formerly.

[Illustration: SICK MAN IN UNDERGROUND APARTMENT.]


 They have had children, but they are dead. The two old people, waifs
from bonny Scotland, have probably made their last move, until the city
sends around its rough box and dead-cart to take them to their last
sleep in the Potter's Field. They used to live up-stairs; but as they
grew older, and were not so spry as formerly, they could no longer pay
the rent, and therefore moved down till at last they are at the bottom.
For this den of misery, in which a well-to-do Western farmer would not
think of keeping his hog, they pay one dollar per week. They have to
cook, eat, sleep, and do everything else pertaining to domestic life,
in this one dark, filthy hole. The combination of smells is
indescribable. But as you begin to sicken and are ready to flee, you
remember, with a shock, that what sickens you so in five minutes this
old white-headed man and his wife have to endure day after day, and
night after night, and on--and on--there is no hope of anything better
this side of a pauper's grave. Don't blame these old people for not
keeping their den clean. Nobody could keep it clean. There is no
sunshine, and only a little while in the day any light at all. It is
necessarily damp and mouldy. We talk with the old man. He goes fishing
and does such odd jobs as he is able. He says one of the worst things
with which they have to contend is the rats; and then he points out
places in the wall, down next to the ground, that he has filled with
little billets of wood, stuck in every-which-way, in his efforts to
keep the rats from preying on them, at night. Let us foot up the
column.

Old age, with its accompanying weakness and loss of hopefulness and
courage; darkness, with the brooding sense of gloom and melancholy that
goes with it; noisome smells, that make even a breath of the narrow,
crowded street seem like a draught from Paradise; filth, mould, and
rats that compete with you for what really has been taken from their
appropriate domain,--and yet remember that down there, in all that, and
more, for no tongue or pen can tell its wretchedness, live hundreds of
your brothers and sisters. Not the drunken and the dissolute only, for
about this place which I have described, or its tenants, there was not
the slightest suggestion of liquor anywhere. Down on North Street is an
old house which, the traditions tell us, was originally built for a
"wayside inn," in the good old days before the word hotel was so well
known as now. It is not a very large house, as tenement houses go, yet
the missionary who is with me assures me that he has found as many as
thirty families stowed away under its roof. A wall is built up around
the rear and on one side, corralling a little breathing-space or side
yard. A stable for two horses comes out of this space; and the stench
from these stalls mingles with the stench of the water-closets which
are all situated in this yard, and the united fumes rise to every rear
window of the establishment.

The stairways are rickety and filthy. We go in at two places to sample
the tenantry. In the first we find an old Irish woman who lives here
with her two boys. She keeps house for them in two little rooms.
Everything is poverty-stricken and dirty. The poor old woman is a wreck
in body and in mind. She has buried seven daughters. She says, "I've
buried a good flock. Too much trouble broke my very life out of me." We
go in at another door. Here is an English woman; she has two children
and keeps a boarder. She scrubs now in a bank building, and washes at
other places. She sewed for a long time. At first she was paid fourteen
cents a pair for finishing pants, then thirteen cents, then twelve
cents, and finally ten cents, and then, as it was impossible to get
bread for her children on what she could earn, she went to scrubbing.
Being a very rugged woman physically, she is able to do this. If she
had been frail and delicate, with a young babe, she would have been
compelled to keep on finishing pants at ten cents a pair.

[Illustration: AN ANCIENT TENEMENT.]

It is hot and dirty here everywhere. How could it be otherwise? Every
one of these housekeepers must have a fire in her room every time she
wants hot water for washing or any other purpose. Take the day of my
visit,--one of the hottest in June; it is ninety degrees in the shade,
but with the fire in the rickety stove in the room in which this mother
and her little girl are working, it cannot be less than a hundred and
thirty. But the fire cannot go out, or the washing will stop, and there
will be no food to-morrow. For these two miserable sweat-boxes--the
paper half torn off, bed-bug dens that nothing could thoroughly cleanse
except a fire that would exterminate the very walls--she pays two
dollars and a half per week. As a striking illustration of the good
results of agitation on these subjects, I called at this house during
the past week, when one of the tenants told me that my repeated visits
to the place, and the fact that I had had a photographer there making
views of it, had awakened so much comment in the section that the
landlord had got frightened and had had the corridors washed, and had
put new paper on some of the rooms.

Off Norman Street in the West End is a court which I have visited
during the past week in company with two other gentlemen. The houses on
this court are occupied by Italian fruit-venders for the most part.

The court itself is littered up with refuse and decayed fruit in a most
filthy and unhealthy manner. In one of these large tenement houses
there is no family which occupies more than one room. Let us
investigate a few of them. Here is a room fifteen feet long. At its
narrow end it is only five feet six inches wide, and at the other end
not quite seven feet wide. In this narrow lane five people live. Huge
strings of bananas in every stage of ripening hang over the piles of
filthy bedding. It is in the second story, and the corridor in front,
which is forty-three inches wide--unusually spacious, as you will see
later--is half taken up with boxes of decaying fruit, buckets of slops,
and piles of refuse. The walls are as black and rusty as the stove.

Here is another family residence in this building. The size is ten and
one-half by ten and one-fourth feet. Four people live here. The entire
furnishings are not worth five dollars. The cupboard is a lemon-box
with a partition in it, set on the floor. The bread, kneaded and ready
to bake, is laid out on an old, dirty, colored handkerchief on the pile
of bedding; there are no chairs, table, or other furniture of any kind.
Another room which also answers for home for four people, is sixteen
feet long and six feet five inches wide. The walls here, as in many
other rooms, have large sections of the plastering torn off, and are
blackened with many years of smoke and dirt.

[Illustration: ITALIAN FRUIT-VENDERS AT HOME.]

The next family we visit has three people. The room is seven by nine
feet. The bed covers all except thirty-one inches on one end, and
twenty-four inches on one side. There are boxes of fruit under the bed,
some of it decaying; what is too rotten to sell must serve for home
consumption. And so we go on, room after room, and floor after floor.
Now, section fourteen of the law in regard to tenement houses says:
"The tenant of any lodging-house or tenement house shall thoroughly
cleanse all the rooms, floors, windows, and doors of the house, or part
of the house, of which he is the tenant, to the satisfaction of the
Board of Health; and the owner or lessee shall well and sufficiently,
to the satisfaction of said board, whitewash and otherwise cleanse the
walls and ceilings thereof, once at least in _every year_, in the
months of April or May, and have the privies, drains, and cesspools
kept in good order, and the passages and stairs kept clean and in good
condition."

Now, I have no desire or intention to do any injustice to the members
of the Board of Health. They may be over-worked, and have an
insufficient force to pay proper attention to their duties; but I state
only the simple fact--and I am sure it is a fact that the people
generally ought to know--when I say that there is a shameful and
dangerous lack of such attention in many of these tenement houses. In
regard to the houses I have just described the law is a dead letter.
The passages and stairs are filthy beyond description. Some of these
corridors are only twenty, twenty-three, and twenty-nine inches wide,
and yet, dark and narrow as they are, they are largely filled up with
piles of refuse and garbage. In one of these buildings the water-closet
on the landing has had the door taken down and put away, so that it
stands open day and night.

[Illustration: COCKROACHES BY FLASH-LIGHT.]

[Illustration: BANANA SELLER.]

On some of the walls of these living rooms the cockroaches and bed-bugs
swarm in abundance, literally by hundreds, at ten o'clock in the
morning. The walls and ceilings have not only _not_ been cleansed or
whitened this year, but it must have been many years since there has
been an attempt made to clean them. In one of these bedrooms I counted
twenty-five boxes of lemons, besides great bunches of half-ripened
bananas. Live chickens were kept under the bed in one of these rooms.
The fruit which is ripened in these places is sold daily in every
section of the city, and people who live with healthful surroundings,
far away from this pestilent hole, are risking the health of themselves
and their children, unwittingly, by purchasing fruit that cannot help
but have absorbed something of the poison from the atmosphere of these
filthy, crowded quarters. The Board of Health know about this place,
for their sign is put up over the doors of these rooms, telling how
many are allowed to sleep in each room; but they might as well have
kept the sign in the office for all the good it has done, for in nearly
every room the inmates admitted to the Italian interpreter who
accompanied me, that from two to three times as many persons occupied
the room as the sign permits. One of these buildings, four stories
high, is so old and rickety that it cannot stand alone, and has
careened over against the building next to it. Everything is of wood,
and if it was once on fire, with its narrow, obstructed halls and
stairways, the swarm of tenants would burn like rats in a trap.

This is by no means an isolated case. When Rev. Mr. Barnett, of
Whitechapel, London, was here a few days ago, one of the inspectors of
the Board of Health took him to visit some of the tenement houses of
South Boston and the North End. A _Boston Herald_ reporter went with
them, and I quote from his report of the trip: "The party first visited
the tenement houses of South Boston, occupied for the most part by the
fishermen and their families, and the poorer classes of the Irish
population. The first one visited was the house known as the Slate
block on First Street. Here was seen one of the best examples of the
worst class of dwellings, and one in which legislation had accomplished
but little. Here was a building where the law had not been complied
with regarding whitewashing, and the walls were dirty and stained with
smoke. Hardly a house was seen, in the whole course of the journey,
where this simple law in the interest of health and sanitary condition
of living had been observed. In many cases, it appeared as though it
had not only been neglected this spring, but for many springs in the
past. In driving from this section of the city to the North End, Mr.
Barnett made the somewhat startling remark, 'We have nothing nearly so
bad as this in Whitechapel.'"

[Illustration: UNDER-GROUND TENEMENT WITH TWO BEDS.]


Doesn't it seem a little strange to an outsider that the Board of
Health keep on hand, as it were, block after block of tenement houses,
where both landlords and tenants deliberately set the law at defiance,
which they can show off at call? There could not be a greater folly
than to put this question aside as a matter only interesting to those
poor people themselves. The slavery of Uncle Tom and his woolly-headed
children cursed the plantation house, in the end, as much as it did the
cabin. We must look after these people and help them for the sake of
others, if not on their own account. Dr. John S. Billings, in an
address before the American Academy of Political and Social Science in
February of this year, says: "When diphtheria prevails in a tenement
house, many school children are endangered, and the most perfect
plumbing in a house affords little protection against the entrance of
this disease, if it is prevailing in the vicinity. Typhus and smallpox
do not confine their ravages to the vicious and foul, after they have
acquired malignancy amongst them. Mingled with those who might not be
worth saving, is a much larger number of honest, industrious, and
fairly intelligent and energetic poor people who live by days' wages,
and are struggling against their surroundings to improve their
condition, and especially to give their children a fairer chance in the
race for life than they themselves have had. These last are the people
whom it is worth while to help for their own sake. You will observe,"
says this cool-headed doctor, "that I am considering this matter
entirely from the money point of view, without reference to religion or
morals or altruism. The question, 'Am I my brother's keeper?' is far
more important, I admit; but I confine myself to a lower plane--to the
bread-and-butter aspects of municipal life. Great numbers of the
incompetent, vicious, idle, deformed, or starved-brain class have been
poured into this country by immigration during the last fifty years,
and have filled our slums and tenement houses, our hospitals, asylums,
alms-houses, and jails to overflowing. They cannot escape the results
of their physical organization, which, in its turn, is an inherited
result of ancestral degeneration. For them we may 'hope the best, but
hold the present, fatal daughter of the past.' Their death rates are
from two to three times as great as those of the better class of
population; one-fourth of their sickness is treated by charities, and
one-third of those who die among them are buried at public expense. The
districts in which they live require a larger proportion of the work of
city officials, inspections, removal of nuisances, police, the courts,
etc.; and, on the other hand, they contribute but little to municipal
or other taxation. All this is well known; but we have not yet arrived
at the stage of applying efficient and systematic prevention, which is
perfectly possible, and are still pottering with the so-called remedies
which are of little use. In these districts the deaths usually
outnumber the births, so that if it were not for a continued stream of
new recruits this population would diminish. How can accessions be
prevented? One way is to get rid of and prevent additions to the kind
of dwellings these people seek. Do you say that they must live
somewhere, and that there must be such places for such people? I do not
think so. It is not necessary that any city should allow the existence
of any such houses within its limits; and if their destruction forces
some persons into the almshouses, and drives others away, it will be
the cheapest and best in the end."

There are scores, and I think I should be safe to say hundreds, of
tenement houses within the city limits of Boston which are unfit to be
inhabited, and where the landlords do not pretend to obey the laws of
health required by the statutes, and yet the tenants are paying a
sufficiently large rent to pay good interest on a clean, healthful
tenement. Our modern science and our Christian civilization are alike
challenged by this condition of things.

Yet, as you think of the horror of these Boston "cabins" and their
miserable tenants, you will say, "They are at least free, they cannot
be bought and sold like Uncle Tom." Alas! they are not free. True, no
one can take them to an auction-block, but their bondage is none the
less real. Into that fearfully neglected Italian tenement house which I
have tried to describe in this discourse, the sweater had come, and
women were making a fine class of knee pants for twenty cents a dozen
pairs, which means forty cents a day in wages. These people find it
impossible to save. The lower strata of wages in Boston, and in all our
large cities, has reached the point where the people who depend on them
labor simply to exist. One day's sickness in father or mother or child
leaves a gap it takes weeks or months to bridge over again.

[Illustration: TWO O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING.]

Sometimes a Southern Uncle Tom or Aunt Chloe had their son or daughter
sold out of their arms, leaving them with broken hearts. But the white
slaves of the tenement house sound every deep of human agony. Think
what it is to try to raise boys honest, when their playmates are
thieves from the cradle! Think of the agony of a mother fighting the
wolf of starvation day and night and finding, as, one Boston mother did
only a few weeks ago, that the wolf of lust had devoured her one ewe
lamb before she was yet thirteen years of age! Brothers, it is not yet
time for the "abolitionist" to put aside his tocsin or his sword while
so many of our brothers and sisters are living and sighing in their
despair:--

  "Where home is a hovel, and dull we grovel,
  Forgetting that the world is fair;

  Where no babe we cherish lest its soul perish,
  Where our mirth is crime, our love a snare."




VIII.

SOCIAL MICROBES IN BOSTON TENEMENT HOUSES, AND HOW TO DESTROY THEM.


  "Ring in the valiant man and free,
    The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
    Ring out the darkness of the land,
  Ring in the Christ that is to be."

--ALFRED TENNYSON: _In Memoriam._


 The greatest claim Job ever makes for himself is that in the days of
his prosperity, when everybody knew him and was obsequious to him as a
rich man, he was not only kind to the poor, but exhibited for them a
genuine sympathy which was illustrated in his carefully searching out
the causes of their troubles.

There is a good deal that passes for kindness and sympathy, in these
days, that is nothing more than lazy good-nature. Ignorant or
indifferent charity is often as mischievous in its results as the
wicked greed of the skinflint and the miser. Sympathy, to be worth any
thing, must be incarnated, as in Job's case, so that it becomes feet to
the lame and eyes to the blind. Frances Power Cobbe declares that the
most Christ-like thing she ever heard from human lips, was from the
"Good Earl" of Shaftesbury:--

  "The friend of all the friendless 'neath the sun;
    Whose hand had wiped away a thousand tears;
  Whose eloquent lips and clear, strong brain have done
    God's holy service through his fourscore years."

When he was speaking to her one day, in his study, of the wrongs of
young girls, which he had just been investigating, the tears came to
his eyes and his voice trembled. After a pause, he added, "When I feel
how old I am, and know I must soon die, I hope it is not wrong, but I
feel I cannot bear to go and leave the world with all the misery in
it."

People who have no genuine sympathy for their fellows, oftentimes grow
harder-hearted at a revelation of the miseries of the oppressed, which
stirs nobler souls to their profoundest depths and awakens them to all
manner of helpful benevolence. There is an old legend of St. Hilary
Loricatus, who scourged himself so perpetually that his skin became
like the hide of a rhinoceros. So, acquaintance with the sorrows and
woes of the poor and unfortunate, acquired out of a morbid curiosity,
or a hunger for that kind of emotion experienced by the reader of
sensational novels, will result only in marring and hardening us.

Very different is the result of such knowledge when obtained through an
earnest sympathy and a holy ambition to assuage the sorrows of the
distressed. Shelley never wrote anything more beautiful, perhaps, than
this:--

  "In sacred Athens, near the fane
    Of Wisdom, Pity's altar stood;
  Serve not the unknown God in vain,
  But pay that broken shrine again,
    Love for hate, and tears for blood."

I put this emphasis on the need of searching out the wrongs of the
poor, because I am satisfied that one of the greatest factors in the
present tenement-house situation is the ignorance and indifference of
the people as to the condition of things in the slum tenement house. I
am sure that nothing but good can come from an honest attempt to "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."

We need to bear in mind constantly, in considering this question, that
society is a whole, and that an evil in one class of our citizenship
cannot help but have its vicious influence, in a greater or less
degree, upon every other portion of society. We must also remember that
the bad tenement house is the birthplace and cradle, and to a large
extent the schoolroom, of multitudes of boys and girls who are to exert
their influence on every phase of our city life in the near future.
Modern scientists have pursued the study of disease microbes with such
diligence, that they claim to be able to recognize beyond mistake the
germs of certain diseases. They find them in the atmosphere almost
everywhere, and they prove that these microbes are real germs of
disease, by their experiments with the lower animals.

The soil under our feet is full of these micro-organisms. The smallest
quantity of earth put in water reveals, through the microscope, besides
the organic and mineral matter, a mass of beings more or less complex,
moving more or less rapidly. A German author, Mr. Reimers, has
calculated that every cubic centimetre of earth may contain several
million germs.

[Illustration: EXTERIOR OF A NORTH END TENEMENT HOUSE.]

Among these microbes some have not been studied, and the part they play
in the economy of life is not known to us, while certain others have
functions which have been well determined. Carbuncle, for instance, is
one of the most terrible maladies which can attack cattle, and
sometimes even men. Now-a-days, thanks to the labors of the scientists,
this malady had become quite rare, and tends more and more to
disappear. For a long time it has been known that carbuncle has been
due to a particular microbe, but it was not known how it was
propagated. M. Pasteur has demonstrated that this propagation was due,
in part at least, to the longevity of the germs.

Thus it is, if you bury the dead body of an animal which has died of
carbuncle, in a ditch five or six feet deep, and cover it with earth,
the carbuncle bacteria will be found in the neighboring soil several
years after the interment. We can understand, then, that cattle put to
graze on this land, or fed by provender from it, may contract the
disease. So when the cause of this malady was unknown, it is not to be
wondered at that superstitious country people called these places
"cursed fields."

There are social microbes no less potent and mischievous than those
with which Pasteur deals. Some of those who are infected with the
contagion are put away in pest-houses or in prisons; many more walk the
streets, and spread their dangerous infection through the social,
business, and home life of the people. My claim is that the bad
tenement house in Boston, as everywhere else where people are herded
together in crowded filthy quarters, where sanitary laws are neglected
or defied either by landlords or tenants, or both, furnishes a
breeding-place for the microbes of nearly every sin and vice that
infest our modern society. The editor of the Portland _Oregonian_,
commenting on General Booth's scheme for the rescue of the London poor,
says: "Its most hopeful features are those which propose to provide the
lowly with means to help themselves, in the building and maintenance of
homes. Thousands of women belonging to the 'submerged tenth' need
almost as much instruction in the simple acts of housewifely thrift and
neatness, as the squaws belonging to the North American Indian tribes.

[Illustration: WIDOW AND TWO CHILDREN IN UNDER-GROUND TENEMENT.]


"Homes, in the civilized sense of the term, they have never had to
keep, and their squalid abiding-places, overrun with wretched and
quarrelsome half-clad children, and bare of the commonest comforts of
life, have offered very unattractive fields for womanly originality and
painstaking endeavor. A cheerful, quiet home, wherein the laborer is
always sure of warmth and light and wholesome food, has in it a saving
grace which all the creeds in Christendom cannot compass without its
auxiliary aid."

The power of the liquor traffic, and all the other kindred vices that
cluster about it, is constantly re-enforced by the social conditions of
the neglected tenement house. Temptation enters as largely into
drunkenness as into any other vice; and in the foul and fetid courts of
the North End, the West End, South Boston, and the Cove, temptation to
vice of every kind is ever present. The words of George R. Simms, in
his earnest study of life in the homes of the London poor, apply with
equal force to such sections in Boston: "The complete lack of home
comforts, the necessity of dulling every finer sense in order to endure
the surrounding horrors, the absence of anything to enter into
competition with the light and glitter of the gin palace, and the
cheapness of the drink in comparison with food, all these contribute
to make the poor easy victims to intemperance. Among the poor,
the constant war with fate, the harassing conditions of daily life,
and the apparent hopelessness of trying to improve their condition,
do undoubtedly tend to make them 'drown their sorrows' and rush
for relief to the fiery waters of that Lethe which the publican
dispenses at so much a glass. Ask any of the temperance workers
in the viler districts, and they will tell you how they have
watched hundreds of decent folk come into a bad neighborhood,
and gradually sink under the degrading influences of their
surroundings. There are a few men who have worked to keep their
brethen from the clutches of the drink fiend who would not gladly hail
the advent of air, light, and cleanliness, and the enforcement of
sanitary laws, as the best weapons with which to do doughty deeds in
their combats with intemperance among the poor."

One of the hardest things to deal with, in an attempt to arouse good
people who are well-to-do and steadily prosperous to a serious study of
the troubles of the poor, is to shake them out of the erroneous
conviction that it is always the fault of the poor that they are in
financial straits and compelled to resort to such places of dwelling.
Put yourself in your brother's place, and listen to this true story of
New England life enacted during the past year.

There lived, until a little over a year ago, in Western New York, a
family which we will call Simmons,--far removed from the real name. The
family consisted of the husband and wife, each about thirty-five years
of age, and four children,--the eldest ten. Mr. Simmons was a
confectioner by trade, but for some years had been travelling for a
wholesale grocer's house in New York. He was a man of good address, and
was fairly successful until, in some of the competitions of trade, the
New York house determined to withdraw from that section, and he was
thrown out of business. After casting about for several weeks in a vain
attempt to get employment, he decided to bring his family with him to
New England. They removed to Worcester, where for months he sought
employment, but was unable to find anything except short jobs for a day
or two at a time. Mrs. Simmons, who was an educated and refilled woman,
and a most worthy lady in every respect, did what she could to assist
her husband; but as a fifth child was born to them in the autumn, she
was so weakened by sickness and the care of her children, that she
could do little besides looking after them. As the months passed, they
were compelled to resort to the pawnshop--the bank of the unfortunate.
First went their silverware, which was mostly wedding presents, an
anguish to part with to people of their history and character. Then
followed their best clothing, and some splendid books out of a
well-selected library--for remember that these were educated,
intelligent people, with all the instincts and tastes of good breeding.
Finally, discouraged with Worcester, they removed, with what they had
left, to Boston. Again for weary days, stretching into weeks, went on
the disheartening search for work. Mr. Simmons says in those days the
very iron entered into his soul. To see his refined, cultivated wife
sick and wasting away, his children improperly clothed and hungry, and
compelled, day by day, to return to the tenement house on the filthy
street whither his condition had forced him, with a feeling of utter
helplessness, he declares that nothing but the religious convictions of
his youth, and the sense of the cowardice of the act, saved him from
the death of the suicide.

[Illustration: THE BANK OF THE UNFORTUNATE.]

During the winter they were compelled to sell their excellent
cooking-range, which they had brought with them from New York, and
procure a cheaper one. All the books that were left followed; then the
bedsteads and other furniture went, until there was only one bedstead
left, and that was rented through the day to a man who worked nights.
Many days they had nothing to eat but bread or crackers--and often that
was of a stale quality and a scant allowance. The eldest, a little boy,
attended the Sunday-school of a Boston church; he has one of the
truest, noblest, and most interesting faces I have ever seen. On
missing him for a couple of Sundays, the superintendent of the school
went in search of him, and for the first time knew of the condition of
the family.

[Illustration: OUT OF WORK.]


The Sunday-school superintendent found his little scholar lying in a
dry-goods box,--for there was no bed in the daytime,--sick from lack of
food and clothing. He made inquiries of the mother, and at last, with
sobs and tears, she told their story. Their necessities were relieved,
and through the sympathetic interest of a number of Christian men the
husband now has steady employment. Now, it is easy to say that he
should have gone to the church, or the charities, with the story of his
condition--and I think that is true; but, on the other hand, you can
see that it was the very worthiness of the family, their very nobility,
that made that course seem more bitter than starvation. Bear in mind
that these people were not dissipated, that they were strictly moral
and religious, and that both father and mother were of prepossessing
appearance. This man did not drink, or smoke, or chew, and was
intensely anxious to take care of his family; he was willing to do the
humblest work, and preferred death to begging or dishonor.

Only a few weeks since, I called, with a brother minister, on a family
of Maine people in a miserable tenement house in the North End. The
husband and father had been sick and out of work for a good while. A
short time before my visit, however, he had shipped on a coaster from
Hyannis to Philadelphia. He had arranged for a little credit for his
family to keep them from starving, until his expected return; but the
winds had been contrary, and he was several days overdue. The wife and
four children were in despair. They had had nothing since the morning
of the day before, and then only bread and water, except a little broth
which a neighbor, not much better off, brought in to one of the
children--a beautiful little girl, sick with what would be "la grippe"
on Beacon Hill, but is only "grip" down in the slums. The mother had a
little babe, and was in such delicate health that it was impossible for
her to go out to wash or scrub. Her two narrow little rooms were
scrupulously neat and clean, as were her children; but the tears ran
down her cheeks as, in answer to our questions, she confessed, as if
she had been admitting a crime, poor soul, that they had had nothing to
eat all day.

I give you these instances to show you how false is the idea that
poverty and enforced residence in a miserable tenement house are a
badge of sin or wrong-doing. But think of the agony of fathers and
mothers, who love their children as well as you love yours, and have
ambitions for them as holy and pure, who are compelled to see their
loved ones deteriorating under their eyes, and through the
contamination of the poisonous moral atmosphere which they breathe,
dropping slowly, but certainly, down to a level with the brutality
which surrounds them.

[Illustration: A CHEAP LODGING-HOUSE.]

Well, you ask, what is the remedy for all this? My main purpose, in
this series of discourses, was to place the facts of the situation
before the people. But I have some plain, practical, common-sense
suggestions to make. In the first place, we want an almost _infinitely_
better system of inspection of tenement houses. Every tenement house in
the city, having as many as eight families in it, ought to be inspected
carefully, at least once a month--and once a week would be better--by
an officer who holds his place under civil-service rules, entirely
independent of politics, and who is held to a strict responsibility for
the performance of his duties.

As to the tenement-house sweat-shop, I am convinced that a very simple
law, which ought to be passed by the next legislature, requiring every
manufacturer, of any kind, to file with the inspector of factories a
list of the names and addresses of the people who work for him, would
work wonders. It may be that there are some firms as low down as the
one whose superintendent remarked the other day, when asked what the
effect would be in their business if it were known that their goods
were manufactured in filthy tenement houses: "It would make no
difference at all; our customers would buy of us just the same, no
matter where our garments were made." This firm, I am sure, would find
itself mistaken, and, with a great many others, would break off its
connection with the sweating-business if the law forced it to make that
relation public.

Yet I am sure that nothing promises so much for reform as a revival of
conscientious landlordism. The landlord is now, too often, as one well
says, "an enormous wealthy estate, with heirs scattered here and there,
who hire an agent, as their Southern brothers hired an overseer,
irresponsible, unsympathetic, caring only to please his patrons, by
showing a large balance of profit. And the poorer the tenement, the
larger the balance. No repairs, no janitor, no supervision to pay for;
accommodations so wretched that only the very wretched, who will expect
to be crowded and miserable, will apply for it. O landlord! or
'estate!' too busy to collect your own rents, be not too indolent to
require of your agent a strict account when he brings you twenty per
cent instead of six! You would quickly bring him to book if he were
suddenly to hand you six instead of twenty, but the time to question
him is when it is twenty."

Mrs. Alice Wellington Rollins says in the _Forum_, speaking of New
York: "Nothing is more astonishing, in investigating the slums, than
the discovery of the enormous prices the poor are paying for the most
wretched accommodations. One man boasts that he draws thirty-three per
cent on his tenement investments." The same writer wisely says,
farther: "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 lookout 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 landlords. 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
life-insurance 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.

"Half of the trouble is caused by the wilful 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."

Let me relate to you a very interesting experiment that has indeed long
since passed the era of experiment. In 1879 Mrs. Alice N. Lincoln and a
young lady friend were so wrought upon by the filth and misery which
they saw in certain tenement houses visited by them, in connection with
the Associated Charities, that they determined to do something to
better the condition of these poor people. They hired a large house on
the corner of Chardon and Merrimac Streets. It contained twenty-seven
tenements, and the rent agreed upon with the owner was one thousand
dollars a year, though since the first year they have paid twelve
hundred. The house had the worst possible reputation morally, and had
been under the ban of the police for a long time.

It was, at the time they took it, half empty, because of the degraded
character of the occupants. Its entries and corridors were blackened
with smoke, and dingy and uninviting. The sinks were in dark corners,
and were foul and disease-breeding. The stairways were innocent of
water or broom, and throughout the entire house, from top to bottom,
ceilings, walls, stairways--everything was dirty and neglected. It was
surely not an attractive task to attempt to bring cleanliness and order
out of such chaos, but these resolute young reformers deliberately set
themselves to perform the seemingly impossible. The interior was
painted, improved means of lighting and ventilating the sinks were
ordered, and wood and coal closets arranged for each tenement on its
own landing.

[Illustration: THE "GOOD LUCK" TENEMENT HOUSE.]

Previously the tenants had to keep their fuel in the cellar. The mouldy
wall-paper was removed from the entries, and a fresh surface of
plastering was put on. A few of the worst tenants had to be removed,
but the majority, pleased with the new administration of things, were
willing to accept its rules and remain. Tenants were soon found for
every room; and this house, which had been regarded as very unhealthy,
and had been a regular hive for fevers under the old _regime_ of
carelessness and greed, that did not care how dirty the tenants were so
long as they paid their rent, under the new rule of cleanliness became
so healthy that disease was almost unknown, and was, and is to this
day, known by the tenants and the neighborhood generally as the "Good
Luck House." The ladies collected their own rents, and kept everything
well under their own supervision. A close account was kept of all
receipts and expenditures, and at the end of the first year the balance
of cash in hand was $111.67, or more than eleven per cent on the
investment. The second year it was still more profitable, the net sum
at the end of the year being $157.47. Mrs. Lincoln still carries on the
administration of the "Good Luck House," and no queen was ever treated
with more genuine respect than she is there. She is regarded as a most
practical sort of patron saint to the institution. Yet there is no
element of charity suggested in her dealings with her tenants. It is
simply Christian justice. She seeks with great care to help them retain
their self-respect, and treats them as fully her equal in personal
responsibility. The rent is required to be paid regularly. One rigid
rule enforced upon all tenants is cleanliness. She pays for the weekly
scrubbing of the halls and stairways, but the tenants are required to
sweep them every day, in turn. The sinks and drains are kept clean. All
this has a marvellous effect on the home habits of the inmates; and I
have seen as clean and tidy rooms in the "Good Luck" tenement house as
I have seen anywhere, and that, too, on days when they were caught
unawares, it not being the regular rent day, when they expect the
landlady. All above six per cent has been put in the bank as an
emergency fund, and, from time to time, the tenants have been permitted
to share some unexpected pleasure from this. Once a splendid
entertainment was given the tenants, in a public hall, with
stereopticon views; at another time, it took a more material method of
expression, and a good blanket, a pitcher and basin for each family,
came out of this fund. In every way the tenants are made to know that
their interests are in perfect harmony with those of the landlady. To
encourage them to use more room, where they are able to pay for it, a
discount is made on each additional room taken, and ten cents a week is
deducted for payment in advance. A majority of them avail themselves of
this privilege.

If he who makes a tree to grow where none grew before, is a public
benefactor, surely she who has made it possible for many family-trees
to grow and thrive, yielding their fragrance and their fruit in a pure
home and social life, is a benefactress in the highest sense.

Let us encourage on every side the transformation of filthy, neglected
tenements into "Good Luck" houses.

[Illustration: THE SAND GARDEN.]


A little wise thoughtfulness may vastly improve the childhood of the
slums. Boys' clubs and girls' clubs are steps in the right direction.
They awaken an interest in innocent games, afford a glimpse of
beautiful pictures, and give zest to the intellectual appetite for
fresh, wholesome books. The "sand garden" is also a happy thought.
Think of thousands of children reared in the narrowest, filthiest
quarters, who have never had a chance to make even a mud-pie out in the
pure air of heaven. It may seem a small thing to some, but it is a
tragedy to me. When I remember my own happy childhood over in the
Oregon woods, where I ran as free and untrammelled as a young colt in
the pasture, and made mud-pies beside the brook that had its home in a
great bubbling spring on the hillside, breathing the air fragrant with
the perfume of wild lilies, while robins and bobolinks and meadow larks
sported and sang without fear, on every side--when I contrast a
childhood like that with the child-life in the Boston slums, I am
heart-broken. There is nothing so sad as this "murder of the innocents"
that is going on in all our great cities. Marianne Farningham sings
their dirge:--

  "Such sights there are in the great sin-soiled city,
  As might compel an angel into pity;
  But none more sad in all the world of care,
  Than a young child driven to black despair!"

Surely, trumpet blast never called men and women to a holier crusade
than this rescue of the lost childhood of the slums.




IX.

OLD WORLD TIDES IN BOSTON.


  "There is a poor blind Samson in this land,
    Shorn of his strength and bound in bonds of steel,
  Who may, in some grim revel, raise his hand,
    And shake the pillars of this Commonweal,
  Till the vast temple of our liberties
    A shapeless mass of wreck and rubbish lies."

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: _The Warning_.


Travellers tell us that in some parts of the ocean, when the waves are
still and the water is perfectly quiet, the curious eye may look down
through the clear depths and see, rising out of the ocean's bed, the
gnarled and broken trunks of forest trees. Once this ocean-bed was
above the water-line, and these trees grew in the sunshine and
stretched their branches upward to the blue sky of heaven. But, as the
result of some strange convulsion of the earth, the coast-line has sunk
down and down, until the incoming tide of the salt sea has swept over
it, and schools of porpoises and fishes swim among the branches of old
forest trees that in the former time were accustomed to the chatter of
squirrels and songs of birds.

Any one studying the older and more historic sections of Boston will
see many relics of a past civilization by which he will be impressed in
very much the same way as is the sailor who looks on the remains of an
ancient forest in the ocean's bed. Standing in the North End, in front
of the "Copp's Hill Burying-ground," and looking up at the tower of
Christ Church where the famous signal lanterns were hung, one can
almost hear the old church appropriating the words of the poet:--

  "By time's highway--a milestone gray--
    I watch the world march by;
  An endless stream of moving men
    Rolls on beneath mine eye.
  Still, still they go; where, none can know;
    And when one wave is gone,
  Another and another yet
    Come ever surging on."

It seems strange indeed to go up and down some of these old historic
streets, and yet never in the course of one's walk hear spoken the
language of the country. In the course of my investigations during the
past few months, I have found it impossible to do anything practical
without an interpreter, sometimes in one language, and again in
another. Often in entering an old rear tenement house, where filth and
misery held riot, I have been astonished at the splendidly carved
ornaments over the doorways, and the still-to-be-traced carving on the
balustrade. Once these old rear tenements were the abodes of Boston's
wealthiest and most cultivated citizens; but the Old World tide has
come in, and house after house, block after block, and street upon
street, have been overwhelmed by the waves of people who speak other
languages, and whose habits of life are more foreign than their speech.

[Illustration: CHRIST CHURCH TOWER.]

I have no sympathy with those people who are crying out against all
foreigners, yet it seems to me that no serious student of the signs of
the times can take other than a sober view of the submerging tide of
foreign immigration which has come into this country, of which the
North End of Boston is a suggestive illustration. The consideration
which causes the most sober thought among earnest men to-day, is the
entirely different class of immigration coming to us now from that of
former times. In the earlier days of American history it was the
intelligent, self-reliant part of the European communities who dared
the expense and hardship of the long sea voyage by a sailing-vessel,
and faced the exigencies of the New World. The immigrants of those days
were mostly farmers and skilled mechanics, who brought with them the
habit and prestige of success. But under the new order of things, with
the great steam ferries which make a passage to America only a brief
holiday trip of a week, with reduced rates, and controlled by companies
who scour every European city, by aid of their agents, to gather in
their human cargoes from the poorest and most ignorant of all the labor
classes, it becomes a very different question.

[Illustration: ON THE CUNARDER.]

The motives that impel people to this country now, are very different
from what they used to be. The San Francisco _Alta_ well says: "The
time was when the majority of foreign immigrants came because of an
intelligent devotion to free government. Ninety-nine per cent of them
were free from merely material motives. They were not urged by
starvation, they did not come in the squalid steerage, they did not, on
landing, feel compelled to invent servile occupations, before unknown
in this country, merely to get the crusts and scraps that would keep
them alive. Their motive was intellectual more than material. Their
descendants are found in every State, of good report, foremost among
the fibres that make up American character. Their blood may have been
in the beginning English, Irish, Scotch, French, Italian, Spanish,
German, Scandinavian, or Slav. No matter: they are now Americans,
because the expatriation of their ancestors was real, and not unreal.
Its motive was ethical, and not material. At present ninety-nine per
cent of all immigrants come for material reasons only. Their decision
to migrate to the United States is not for lack of liberty, but for
lack of bread. The purpose is animal entirely. Every old emigrant from
any country in Europe knows this to be so. The Italian who genuinely
expatriated himself, who believed in Joseph Mazzini, and sought liberty
for its own sake, finds no fraternity in the Italian immigration that
has poured upon us since the suppression of the murder guilds of
Sicily, and the decline of the industry of assassination in that
country."

[Illustration: ON THE WAY TO THE RABBI.]


 I think it is indeed one of the hopeful features of the situation that
nearly all our adopted citizens, who are themselves thoroughly
Americanized, share strongly in this view. Indeed, many of them seem to
realize the danger more keenly than do the native-born citizens. I was
very much interested, at the New England Chautauqua the other day, to
hear Mr. John M. Langston, the colored orator of Virginia, read a
letter from a leading Hebrew of Washington City, in which he reminded
Mr. Langston that he had often pleaded the cause of the Negro, and
appealed to him in turn to plead the cause of the Hebrew, by arousing
public sentiment against the too rapid influx of Russian Jews.

[Illustration: PASSING THE QUARANTINE DOCTOR.]

The swift incoming of these Old World tides has very close relation to
the wages of laboring people. Large numbers of the alien laborers who
are coming now, are little better than "slaves of contractors,
steamship lines, and the professional European jobbers in pauper labor.
The large proportion of those engaged in our mines and on public works
have been secured through these sources, either in direct defiance of
our laws or by the evasion of the laws. They come in direct competition
with the native-born and the worthy foreign immigrant, who comes here
for the purpose of applying for citizenship and securing a home. They
not only come into competition with every worthy class of laborers, but
they are, for the most part, too ignorant to comprehend American
institutions, and have no broader idea of liberty than to insist that
it includes license. At every point of contact with our labor system,
they debase it."

An illustration of this class of labor may be found in the fact that a
year or two ago forty-seven alien miners employed in phosphate mines
near Waterboro, S.C., were imprisoned because they refused to fulfil
the contract under which they had been employed. Their story was that
they had been met at Castle Garden by labor agents who induced them to
sign a paper which they did not understand, but which proved to be a
contract to work for one and two dollars a week in the phosphate mines,
and board themselves. When they learned, on their first payday, of the
trick which had been played upon them, they revolted. A few days in
jail, however, induced them to return to work on the old terms.

The Chicago _America_, commenting on the incident, says this picture is
a startling contrast to the prate of demagogues concerning the dignity
of American labor. While they scheme to get the votes of intelligent
workingmen, labor in many parts of this country is being enslaved by
means of the hordes of foreigners who are imported in violation of law
and right. Mr. Powderly tells, in the _North American Review_, of a
visit which he paid to a mining-camp to investigate the condition of
the men who were imported to take the places of American workmen who
had demanded higher wages for labor done. These men lived in huge
barracks. Their dining-room, smoking-room, sitting-room, kitchen, and
bedchamber were one. There were five rows of bunks, three deep, each
one thirty inches in width and seventy-eight inches long--the first
bunk eighteen inches from the floor, the next, supported by rough
hemlock posts, but two feet above it, and a third two feet above the
second one. Each bunk was filled with straw, and covered with coarse
coffee-sack material for bed-clothing. Two rows of hemlock boards, each
one twenty feet in length by three feet in width, constituted the
tables. The men came in from the mines while he was present, and,
before washing face or hands, sat down to their supper of salt pork,
meal, and water. One hundred and five men lived in a building one
hundred and sixty feet in length by thirty feet in width. He found no
one to answer him in the English tongue. When it was bedtime they lay
down without divesting themselves of a single article of clothing; some
of them took off their shoes, but the majority did not even do that.
These men took the places of American workmen who were receiving from
two dollars to two dollars and a half per day. The compensation allowed
them was but seventy-five cents a day, and board. As a careful
investigation proved that fifteen and three-eighths cents would provide
the food furnished each man, the outlay was but ninety and
three-eighths cents a day. It is getting to be quite a common custom on
railroads and in mines and other places where this class of laborers
are employed, to attach to the waistband of each man a leather strap
fastened to a large brass check, similar to a baggage check. Every
check bears a number, and the man who carries it, or to whom it is
fastened, is known by the number on his check. Mr. Powderly grimly
comments: "Fancy the future of the American laborer, whose name is
forgotten, and whose only means of identification rests with a brass
check, which may be substituted for another while he sleeps." If this
is not white slavery, what is it?

These Old World tides have also close relation to the health of our
cities. Large numbers of these people have been accustomed to live in
crowded quarters, on insufficient food, and without any regard for
cleanliness, in their native country. They come here, bringing all
their filthy habits, bred in them sometimes for generations. I have no
doubt that some of my critics tell the truth when they say that the
squalid tenements occupied by the Russian Jews and Italians in Boston
are better than the homes whence they came. So far as these foreigners
themselves are concerned, even these wretched conditions are perhaps an
upward step in evolution. But if we are going to have Naples in Boston,
we must expect to have Neapolitan cholera epidemics as well.

[Illustration: SURGICAL THEOLOGY.]

These Old World tides have also a very close relation to the morals of
our people. An overwhelming majority of all the criminals who figure in
our police courts, and are supported in our jails and penitentiaries,
were born abroad. This is very easy to understand when one investigates
a little the methods used to encourage emigration to this country. The
investigation made by the Ford Congressional committee revealed the
enormous extent to which steamship companies are drumming Europe for
human freight, to be dumped on our shores. "To those unscrupulous
'fishers of men' everything that walks or crawls is acceptable.
Quantity, not quality, is the desideratum. The worse the specimen, the
more effective, usually, is the emigration prize offered, and the less
the opposition interposed by government officials. In a word, a
drag-net has been thrown over nearly the entire European continent,
with the result of having recently collected for shipment to this
country a class of humanity, which, wherever it may be, is a menace to
good order and a tax upon the police and charity departments of the
country."

One who speaks with the highest authority on questions of political
economy puts the immigration problem in a strong light when he says:
"We are now draining off great stagnant pools of population which no
current of intellectual or moral activity has stirred for ages.
Thousands and hundreds of thousands of those who represent the very
lowest stage of degradation to which human beings can be reduced by
hopelessness, hunger, squalor, and superstition, are found among the
new citizens whom the last decade has brought into the Republic." It is
known beyond doubt that prisoners' aid societies in various European
countries have been steadily shipping convicts to the United States.
Neither has it been an uncommon thing for criminals to be let off by
the courts, on condition of their emigrating to America. It is folly
for us to expect to take this great criminal class, who were born to
crime in the purlieus of European cities, who have been thieves from
their cradles, and who come to us fresh from jails and prisons, and
change them into useful citizens. They will not only continue to be
criminals themselves, but they will spread their vile and wicked
contagion wherever they go. There is not a single cause of reform or
progress in this country that is not constantly discouraged and
postponed by these Old World tides of ignorance and vice.

[Illustration: BUILDING USED BY THE BRITISH AS A HOSPITAL.]

There can be no doubt that there is a rising tide of public sentiment
in this country in favor of a careful and wise examination of every
emigrant who offers himself as a candidate for American citizenship in
the future. I think, in view of the fact that we are getting a very
large and increasing proportion of our immigration from Southern
Europe, which is the most illiterate portion of the Old World--in
Southern Italy, for instance, seventy-nine out of every one hundred are
illiterate--there ought to be an educational test. There is certainly
no wisdom in our adding hundreds of thousands a year to the number of
illiterates already here, who are unable to read the Declaration of
Independence, and have not the faintest conception of the principles of
our Constitution. The examination of emigrants ought to be on the other
side of the water. We have had many recent illustrations in Boston of
the manifest hardships experienced under the present arrangement. Every
person intending to emigrate to America ought to be required to give
notice of that desire through the nearest American Consul, and furnish
a clean bill of health, both moral and physical; and no one should be
permitted to sail without a certificate of such investigation and
satisfactory finding. This would not shut out any one who would be of
value to American institutions, but it would require European countries
to care for the criminals and paupers which their own social system has
bred.

But what shall we do with these multitudes of foreigners who are
already living in our midst? In the first place, we must cease to
regard them as foreigners or aliens, and set to work with a definite
purpose to Americanize them as quickly as possible. We must not, for a
moment, be satisfied to let them herd together in the filth and squalor
to which they may have been accustomed at home. We cannot afford to
hand them over to the greedy tyranny of the sweater. Nothing will help
us more than the abolition of the neglected tenement house, and the
provision for a healthier, cleaner shelter for the people.

[Illustration: VICTORIA SQUARE.]

Some of our public-spirited men of wealth cannot do better than to look
in this direction as a field in which to make their mark upon the
uplift of their race and their time. There is a far greater demand for
this class of benevolent investments than there is for added colleges
or universities. If some of the vile and unhealthy tenements that have
been described recently, not only by myself but by the reporters and
the daily press, could be replaced by such buildings as the Victoria
Square building in Liverpool, it would be a great public benefaction.
On the former site of Victoria Square were miserable tenement houses.
To-day a magnificent structure stands there, built around a hollow
square, the larger portion of which is given up for a healthful
play-ground for the children. "The halls and stairways of the building
are broad, light, and airy; the ventilation and sanitary arrangements,
perfect. The apartments are divided into one, two, and three rooms
each. No room is smaller than thirteen by eight feet six inches; most
of them are twelve by thirteen feet four inches.

"All the ceilings are nine feet high. A superintendent looks after the
building. The tenants are expected to be orderly, and keep their
apartments clean. The roomy character of halls and chambers may be
inferred from the fact that there are only two hundred and seventy-five
apartments in the entire building. The returns on the total expenditure
on the building, which was three hundred and thirty-eight thousand
eight hundred dollars, it is estimated will be at least four and a half
per cent." The rents will seem miraculous to those of you who have been
following the prices given in this series of discourses. In this
beautiful Victoria Square dwelling, with its large, shrub-encircled
play-ground for children attached, light, airy, three-room tenements
are furnished for one dollar and forty-four cents per week. For those
containing two large rooms one dollar and eight cents a week is
charged; while the one-room quarters are let at fifty-four cents a
week.

Who among our rich men will lead off in some grand crusade of this
sort? Another thing we want to do to Americanize these people, is to
furnish them employment under conditions consistent with health,
intelligence, and morality. Instead of the crowded sweat-shop, the
moral atmosphere of which is as filthy as the physical, we must have
factories conducted in the spirit of Christian civilization.

Let me tell you of a vision I had the other day as I sat meditating and
dreaming in my study chair. I dreamed I was walking down the streets of
an American city when I saw a large brick building which I might have
thought was a factory except that there were white curtains at every
window in the house. As I neared the door, I asked a passer-by what it
was, and he astonished me by saying, "This is the great Christian
factory." Being a little anxious to see what life in a really Christian
factory would be like, I went in on a tour of investigation. There were
several hundred employees in the factory, most of whom were young
women. To my astonishment, I found bath-tubs in this factory, with an
abundance of hot and cold water, linen towels, and toilet soap. Did one
ever hear of such luxuries in a factory of any sort? In the girls'
bath-room there were rugs under foot, the finishing was done in oak,
the trimmings were nickel-plated, the sanitary arrangements were
perfect, and everything was as bright and clean as it was possible to
make it. Each employee was allowed thirty minutes for a bath, and if
one was so fastidious as to need three-quarters of an hour, no comments
were made. The structure was commodious and convenient, substantially
built, and heated, lighted, and ventilated throughout according to the
most improved system. Even the cellar was attractive in its
completeness, from the steam-engine that operated the machinery of the
building, to the culinary department where those who desired could
purchase a noon-day lunch at actual cost of material. The cook in
charge of the kitchen devoted her entire time to the work. Every day,
tea, with milk and sugar, was supplied by the firm free of charge;
oaten meal was furnished three days in the week at the same rate.
Delicious soup was served at three cents a bowl. The entire floor was
carefully cemented; it was light, warm, and clean, and there were
tables and benches for those who lunched in the building. An hour was
allowed at noon, and while all were expected to be on hand promptly at
one o'clock, the girls living at a distance from the factory were
thoughtfully permitted to leave a few minutes before twelve o'clock.

On the main floor goods were stored in the centre of the room, the
remaining space being reserved for the pleasure and convenience of the
employees. At one end of this spacious floor there was an improvised
music-room, with a piano and window garden, where the girls could sing
and sun themselves every noon. Opposite was an enclosed sanctum,
divided into a reading and reception-room. Bright, soft rugs were
scattered about. The reading-table was as well stocked with current
literature as a club man's library table. The papers and periodicals
were reserved for the exclusive use of the girls. An open fireplace was
one of the attractive features of the reception-room, and there was a
mantel-mirror, too--that means of grace so dear to the gentler sex.

The two upper floors contained the work-tables and machines. On
entering these work-rooms one was struck by the neatness of the place.
Everything seemed to have a white lining. The atmosphere was not only
clean, but fresh and sweet. There were no rags, no dust, no fluff, no
smell of dripping grease from over-hanging machinery. A special staff
of men was constantly employed to look after the premises, and their
vigilance was such as to anticipate the wear and tear. The abundance of
light and sunshine would astonish and delight not only business people,
but school commissioners as well. Each work-shop was the size of an
entire floor, so that light was admitted from four sides of the
building, the windows almost adjoining one another. The white curtains,
which softened the light, gave the place a homelike appearance which
was very pleasing. Another charm was the love of flowers. There were
potted plants on every floor, and they were as green and lovely as if
nourished by a practical florist. On making some inquiries, I found
that Friday was pay-day, and that indirectly much good resulted from
this thoughtful system. Not only did it give the hundreds of families
the benefit of the early Saturday markets, but in a great measure did
away with the credit-books, and, best of all, was instrumental in
keeping the girls off the street Saturday night. No charges were
imposed upon the operators. They did not have to buy thread, pay
machine-rent, or replace broken needles. If an attachment was
displaced, it was restored by the firm, and even the girls' scissors
were kept sharpened at the expense of the employer. Hot and cold water,
mirrors, towels, and soap were among the conveniences. Posted over the
stationary wash basins was this request: "Please help with your
forethought to keep things clean and nice. Any attention will oblige."
This was signed by the firm. The work was so systematized, and the
training so thorough, that the tyrannical forewoman and domineering
foreman had no place in the establishment. The manager was the only
person to whom the hands were accountable. Adjoining the factory was a
pretty garden containing a pear-orchard, with arbors and seats, where
the girls lunched in fine weather. Women as a class show the effects of
good keeping, and these workers were not an exception. There were a
great many pretty faces among them, and not one that betrayed
"boss-fright" or time-terror. As a class they looked more like normal
college students than factory hands. Compared with overworked,
nerve-strained, anxious-faced girls in the sweat-shops, and indeed in
most shops and factories, these trim, tidy-looking, cheerful and
contented women seemed to me the very _noblesse_ of the industrial
world.

Ah! you may say, that is only an idle and visionary dream; and no doubt
my critic of a few weeks ago, who thought I belonged to the most
dangerous class in the community when I was describing the misery of
the "white slaves of the Boston sweaters," would be ready to say that I
am engaged in a scarcely less dangerous task in putting such ideal and
impossible dreams into the heads of working-girls. But, dear sceptical
friend, what I have been telling you is not a dream at all, but a
heavenly reality that is going on in this modern work-a-day world, in
the city of Newark, N. J., and I have merely been summarizing for you
the report of Nell Nelson in the New York _World_, giving an account of
the Christian experiment of Ferris Brothers' factory for the making of
corset waists. I was at this point in my discourse on Thursday at
half-past one o'clock, when I said to myself, "Isn't it a little
hazardous to take all this for fact, even on the authority of a
newspaper reporter? Will not a great many of your audience say it is
only a pleasing fancy of a reporter's imagination?" So at three o'clock
I was on the train for New York, and at eleven that evening I was in
bed in a hotel in Newark.

Friday morning, at half-past seven, I was going through Ferris
Brothers' factory, It is with great pleasure that I tell you that, on
returning, I did not have to strike out a single word I had written. On
every side were evidences of thoughtfulness; for instance, a large
portion of the girls employed live in a section of the city to the rear
of the factory. In order to save the extra walk of a block or two,
three hundred additional keys have been made to the orchard gate, so
that they can come and go that way. A large number of umbrellas are
kept in the office. If a girl is caught at the factory in an unexpected
shower, she finds an umbrella waiting to be loaned in just such an
emergency.

With the manager I went through the culinary department. They make
ice-cream now every day, and sell large plates to the girls for three
cents. A careful account is kept of the cost, and the manager said he
thought he should be able to reduce the cream to two cents a plate.  I
looked through the reading-room and over the carefully selected lists
of papers. The manager said that among the girls were some excellent
musicians, and others with good literary abilities, and told me, I
thought with a pardonable degree of pride, that a few months since,
when some desirable positions in the Newark Public Library were open to
competition, the two young ladies from the Ferris Brothers' factory who
were successful, scored ninety-five points out of a possible hundred in
their literary examination. No employee works more than nine and
one-quarter hours a day, and Saturday afternoon is free. The average
wages, including beginners and help girls, is seven dollars a week, and
a good worker makes twelve dollars.

You may say that many of these things that I have mentioned are
insignificant and only trifles, but, after all, it is such things as
these that in a large degree make or unmake our human lives; and a
human life is no trifle. But lest some hard-headed business man shall
shake his head and say, "The fools will bankrupt themselves," I must
add, that aside from the beauty and grace of this thoughtful business
philanthropy, the enterprise has been entirely satisfactory from a
commercial stand-point, the firm agreeing that not only have their
employees done more, but better, work than ever before. One of the firm
assured me that, while there were, of course, many discouraging things
and occasionally an employee who showed little appreciation, on the
whole there had been a steady improvement during their three years'
experience in this factory, and under no circumstances would they be
willing to go back to the old factory _regime_.

To contrast a factory like this with some of the sweat-shops I have
visited, is like contrasting heaven with hell. There may be, and I
doubt not are, many other factories where the same Christian
thoughtfulness is exercised in the treatment of employees, as here.
Upon all such may the benediction of Heaven rest! May their numbers be
multiplied!

The Church, too--I mean the great Catholic Church, formed of all the
branches of our Christianity "who love the Lord Jesus Christ in
sincerity"--must open its arms with a heartier tone of welcome and
brotherhood to the tried and disheartened working-people. Nothing in
recent art has stirred me so deeply as a dim copy of Hacker's "Christ
and the Magdalene," reproduced by Mr. Stead in the _Review of Reviews_.
The Christ is standing with coarse clothing and toil-worn hands by the
work-bench in the carpenter-shop at Nazareth. The shavings are heaped
in piles around, him on the otherwise bare floor, while kneeling at his
feet in penitence and trust is the Magdalene. Brothers, it is this
carpenter Christ, as Frances Willard aptly puts it, "the Monday
Christ," for whom the toil-worn world hungers, and will welcome when it
sees Him manifested in us, in the shop, the factory, and the
counting-room, as well as in the church.

Zoe Dana Underhill sings, in _Harper's Magazine_, a song the modern
Church needs to learn, until its great heart shall throb with its
spirit.

  "The Master called to His reapers,
    'Make scythe and sickle keen,
  And bring me the grain from the uplands,
    And the grass from the meadows green,
  And from off the mist-clad marshes,
    Where the salt waves fret and foam,
  Ye shall gather the rustling sedges,
    To furnish the harvest-home.

  Then the laborers cried, 'O Master,
    We will bring Thee the yellow grain
  That waves on the windy hillside,
    And the tender grass from the plain;
  But that which springs on the marshes
    Is dry and harsh and thin,
  Unlike the sweet field-grasses,
    So we will not gather it in.'

  But the Master said, 'O foolish!
    For many a weary day,
  Through storm and drought, ye have labored
    For the grain and the fragrant hay.
  The generous earth is fruitful,
    And breezes of summer blow
  Where these, in the sun and the dews of heaven,
    Have ripened soft and slow.

  'But out on the wide, bleak marshland
    Hath never a plough been set,
  And with rapine and rage of hungry waves
    The shivering soil is wet.
  There flower the pale green sedges,
    And the tides that ebb and flow,
  And the biting breath of the sea-wind
    Are the only care they know.

  'They have drunken of bitter waters,
    Their food hath been sharp sea-sand;
  And yet they have yielded a harvest
    Unto the Master's hand.
  So shall ye all, O reapers,
    Honor them now the more,
  And garner in gladness, with songs of praise,
    The grass from the desolate shore.'"




X.

OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS, THE BOSTON PAUPERS.


  "And Sir Launfal said, 'I behold in thee,
  An image of Him who died on the tree;
    *    *    *    *    *
  Mild Mary's Son, acknowledge me;
  Behold, through Him, I give to thee!'"

--James Russell Lowell: _Sir Launfal_.


"Now there was a certain rich man and he was clothed in purple and fine
linen, faring sumptuously every day: and a certain beggar named Lazarus
was laid at his gate full of sores."

"Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least,
ye did it unto Me."

These two views of poverty ever stand over against each other. They are
the same to-day as when so graphically described by Jesus of Nazareth.
The one looks on poverty with contempt; it is the view of selfishness.
The other looks upon it with sympathetic brotherhood; the view of
humanity at its highest attainment, or from the standpoint of Jesus
Christ. Both these scriptures, however, agree in teaching us the
solemnity of our relation to our neighbors who are in trouble or
poverty. Mrs. Catherwood, in her story of "The Lady of Fort St. John,"
in the August _Atlantic Monthly_--a tale of the early French
settlements in this country, illustrates one of the old superstitions
by a weird tale of an old Hollander who had married a very young wife
who, when he came to die, was still only a girl; and the cunning old
Dutchman endeavored to maintain his supremacy over her after his death
by grimly providing in his will that his right hand should be severed
from his body, and, preserved by some rare chemical process, should
always remain in the possession of his widow as her most sacred
treasure; for if she lost or destroyed it, or failed to look on it once
a month, nameless and weird calamities, foreseen by the dying man, must
light not only on her, but on those who loved her best. And so, long
after he was in his grave, that horrible memento of the past held this
poor woman in the clasp of its skeleton fingers, and guided her course
across the oceans, and into distant lands. This was the grip of a
superstition only; but there is a real grip of the "dead hand," of
which this ghostly story is only a faint intimation--the grip of
yesterday on to-day--of to-day on to-morrow--the grip of my duty toward
my neighbor that cannot be shaken off, which even death itself does not
loosen.

There is, perhaps, no keener test of the standing of a person or a city
in the scale of civilization, than their treatment of the sick or
helpless poor dependent upon them. Dives, the barbarian, whether in
Jerusalem two thousand years ago, or in Boston to-day, lets the poor
lie at his gate in indifference, at the mercy of every scavenger that
may prey upon them. The "Good Samaritan," whether on the road to
Jericho, or at Rainsford Island, stops with sympathetic eye, a helpful
hand, and open purse to share his best with the victim of misfortune or
wrong.

We come this morning to examine into the attitude of Boston toward her
paupers who are cared for in the two institutions at Long Island and
Rainsford Island. I have made repeated visits to these islands, and
approach this discussion only after many weeks of reflection, and a
careful sifting of the information received. I have hesitated about
treating the subject at all, because a criticism of a public
institution is supposed by so many people to mean a personal accusation
or attack upon the parties in charge of it. I wish to say, in the
beginning, that so far as I have been able to see, the officers
immediately in charge of these institutions are kind-hearted and
humane, and are endeavoring to do the best they can, with the means at
their disposal. After saying that, I propose, without any regard as to
whom it may please or displease, to point out candidly what seems to me
inexcusable thoughtlessness and grievous errors in the treatment of the
paupers in these institutions.

The largest and best building is on Long Island. Here the men are kept.
There are about three hundred on the average, but this is increased to
between four and five hundred in the winter. And right here is a wrong
that ought to be righted.

[Illustration: TRAMPS.]

The excuse for careless and indifferent treatment of the really
deserving pauper men who are on Long Island is that every winter the
place is crowded with "bummers" who come to Long Island in the winter
for free quarters, and as soon as the weather is fine for out-door
tramping in the summer, they go away to escape work in the institution,
coming back again in cold weather, It would certainly be very easy to
devise a law to make this impossible. No able-bodied person who is able
to work, ought under any circumstances to be sent to the almshouse.
People who are able to work and support themselves, and do not do so
under their own direction, ought to be sent to the work-house, and
compelled to do so under the direction of a proper officer. This would
take away from Long Island a lot of drunken tramps who congregate there
in the winter. The same remark applies to women. The intemperate and
vicious woman ought not to be sent to the almshouse; it should be
sacredly kept as "a refuge and a home where the respectable poor, the
sick, and the old--those who have outlived their children, or have
broken down in the race of life--may find shelter and care." But the
honest cases ought not, and need not, suffer in order to punish these
frauds. At Long Island, on one of my visits, there were ninety-two men
on the sick-roll, and only one nurse, and he not a trained nurse. I am
also satisfied that the food is insufficient either for sick or well. A
reporter of the Boston _Post_ managed to interrogate an old man who was
able to sit up by the side of his little cot. In answer to a question,
this sick old man said they did not get any milk; and yet there is a
large farm attached to the institution, and there is no excuse for not
having plenty of milk provided at very little expense for these infirm
old people. The old man said they had meat three times a week--remember
that means three meals out of twenty-one; and when asked by the
reporter, "What kind of meat?" he answered pathetically, "It wouldn't
do any good for me to tell you, sir, but it's mighty poor stuff."
Permit me to quote in full a little article in the Boston _Herald_ of a
few weeks since, under the title, "Some Harbor Policemen Overpowered by
Long Island Hospitality:"--

"There is a little joke which is causing considerable merriment at the
Harbor police station at the present time, and the key to it is
contained in the words, 'Long Island hospitality.' A few days ago the
police-boat 'Protector' was ordered to take to Long Island a party of
surveyors, who were to lay out grounds for the proposed new hospital.

"The work of the boat's passengers occupied an unexpectedly long time,
and as no provision had been made for dinner, the party invoked the
hospitality of the almshouse on the island. The surveyors and officers
of the boat were assigned to one part of the institution, while the
crew were invited into the large dining-hall, usually occupied by the
inmates. It is this last-named party which is bearing the brunt of the
joke. The feast of which they were invited to partake consisted of a
lot of potatoes with their jackets on, without the formality of a
platter, a plate of what the boys termed 'soup-meat,' a soup-dish minus
the soup, knives and forks, and empty mugs. Grace was omitted; the men
spent the time in gazing first at the 'feast,' and then at each other.
A common thought seemed to occupy the minds of all, for without a word
they simultaneously arose from the table and left the room.

"They waited at the boat until the surveyors' work had been completed,
and then came back to Boston. It was then time to make the regular
afternoon trip, and with empty stomachs they started out again and
finished the day. It was the intention of the victims to keep the
matter 'shady;' but the joke leaked out, as such things will, and it is
worse than shaking a red rag at a bull to say 'Long Island hospitality'
to certain blue-coats who labor on the water." And yet they were there
at one of the three lucky meals out of twenty-one, when there was
"soup-meat."

Among the men in this institution was pointed out to me a
marble-cutter, who was a thoroughly respectable, self-supporting
workman. He was hurt while at work by the falling of a stone, and so
disabled by an injury of the spine that he was unable to continue
employment. As soon as sickness had used up what money he had, having
no relatives who could help him, there was nothing left for him but to
come here. One of the officers spoke of him in the highest terms, and
told me how, without direction from any one else, he sought by many
daily circuits of the building to strengthen his spine. I was assured
by the same officer that many others who were inmates were there purely
through misfortune which was from no fault of their own, but from such
accidents as are likely to happen to any honest laboring-man. Now I
maintain that such men ought to be treated with a decent regard for
their self-respect, and given a comfortable home. It is an outrage that
this marble-cutter, and others like him, are fed more shabbily than if
they had been convicted of a crime.

In addition to the men on Long Island, there is one ward in the
hospital used for women. There were fifty-two sick women crowded into
this ward at the time of my visit. There was only one nurse, an
excellent woman, but with no special education for her duties. The
night helper is a woman who is hired for fifty cents a day. For this
ward of fifty-two sick women there was no bath-room at all. The nurse's
own room was situated at the other end of the building from her ward,
and she had to go across the men's ward to get to her patients at
night, if she went. There was no place for insane or refractory
patients, or for the dying, except in the general ward. Sometimes
their cries and groans are very distressing to the other patients. In a
recent case of death from mania, the whole ward was disturbed for
several nights.

Most of the women are kept at Rainsford Island, and there are many more
reasons for criticism there than on Long Island. The only hospital
there is an old smallpox hospital, more than three-score years old.
This is crowded beyond all thought of the requirements of sanitary
science. Think of a room for confinement cases only seven feet wide and
less than twelve feet long. In the annual report of Public Institutions
for 1889 we find the following statement by the then resident
physician: "It is remarkable that a building which was a small-pox
hospital fifty-seven years ago, and which since then has undergone no
material improvement, should up to the present time be the only
hospital connected with our pauper institutions." The doctor might have
added that this building was abandoned a quarter of a century ago by
the State, as unfit for sick persons. It is certainly no extravagance
to say that these arrangements for the care of the sick on Rainsford
Island are more than half a century behind the times. The only thing
modern I saw was the keen-eyed physician.

There is about the entire institution a lack of careful thoughtfulness
for the comfort of the inmates, that is exceedingly painful to a
thoughtful observer. For example, the island is very beautifully
situated, and there are many fine trees in the shade of which, with
comfortable arrangements, it would be a most healthful and delightful
experience for hundreds of these infirm and aged women to sit on summer
days; but, although I searched carefully throughout the grounds, I
found only two benches under the trees anywhere, and a half-dozen more,
perhaps, around on the sea-front, and not one of them with a back to
it. Think of arranging for the comfort of your own grandmother, eighty
years old, in that way!

The food here, too, is insufficient. For instance, the matron told me
that only those who worked were allowed butter on their bread. These
old women are set down to bread and tea for one meal, and bread and
soup for another; they, too, have a little meat of some kind three
times a week, and potatoes at dinner. Again I repeat that, with the
large farm attached to Long Island, there is no reason why these old
women, as well as the old men, should not have an abundant quantity and
an appetizing variety of vegetables, as well as plenty of nourishing
milk. And I maintain that it is a shame and disgrace that the Boston
which less than five years ago could spend more than twenty thousand
dollars in feasting and wining a Hawaiian woman who came to visit us,
expending four thousand dollars for flowers alone, cannot afford to
furnish a little butter to spread on the bread of the helpless old
women on Rainsford Island, even if they are unable to work. Think of
the stolid indifference, or thoughtlessness--to hunt for charitable
words--of an institution having several hundreds of people to care for,
and yet making no difference in its hospital diet. No matter what the
disease, it is to eat up to the cast-iron programme, or starve. Who
that has been ill or has watched anxiously with their own dear ones,
but has noticed the capriciousness of a sick person's appetite, the
longing for little delicacies, for just a taste of some rare and
unusual dish or drink? Such things are not expensive; they only mean
that somebody shall invest a little genuine sympathy and thoughtfulness
in the matter. Throughout this entire institution, hospital and all,
having over four hundred women, there is not a single trained nurse! In
this day of enlightenment it ought to be a crime for any hospital to be
carried on without trained nurses. There is no night watchman on the
whole island, and, after eight o'clock in the evening, nobody who is
responsible at all. In the main institution on Rainsford Island the
attic is crowded with beds to such an extent as to make a healthful
atmosphere impossible.

You must remember that many people here are paupers through no fault of
their own. Many of them are victims of incurable disease; and, as
against such cases the Boston hospitals are closed, the almshouse is
for them the only open door. Public sentiment must be aroused to
demand, with Florence Nightingale, that "work-house sick shall not be
work-house inmates, but they shall be poor sick, cared for as sick who
are to be cured if possible, and treated as becomes a Christian country
if they cannot be cured." We people who are followers of Him who
confessed, "The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but
the Son of man hath not where to lay His head," cannot afford to treat
people who are, through misfortune, in the same condition to-day as
though they were some species of criminal, rather than as the hostages
of our Christ. Perhaps you say these people are not appreciative, are
not refined, do not have fine feelings--how do you know that? That is
doubtless true about some of them, but about many of them nothing could
be more false. People do not lose their powers of appreciation when
they lose their money, and I doubt not that these people would average,
in the essential characteristics of manly and womanly character, with
the same number of people of the same age you could gather from the
homes along your street. Last Christmas some kind-hearted women went
down to Rainsford with some gifts for the sick poor. One of them,
writing about their reception, says: "It was very touching to see the
happiness our little gifts conferred. The first was a poor old woman,
more than eighty, nearly blind from cataracts over her eyes. She is
called 'Welsh Ann' because she is from Wales. My friend told her I had
been in Wales. She seemed so glad to shake hands with one who had been
in her own country, and her voice choked with tears as she thanked me
and took my gift. But she brushed the tears away from her poor
sightless eyes while my friend repeated to her the Twenty-third Psalm,
and then at her request knelt and prayed. The apron which I gave her
has quite a history. A girl who earns her own living, hearing I was
making these aprons, sent me this one which she bought. It was worked
across the bottom, and I thought, as poor Ann rubbed her hands over the
work she could not see, but only touch, how cheered the young lady
would be when she heard of the joy her gift gave. I was asked to give
one pretty apron to another Ann--one they called 'Greenland Ann,'
because she is so very fond of hearing them sing 'From Greenland's icy
mountains.'" And surely that spirit of the Christ, which is warm enough
to impel men to dare the frost of "Greenland's icy mountains" in order
to comfort with His blessed Gospel their Esquimau brother, ought to
prompt us to deal thoughtfully and tenderly with the dear old soul that
likes to hear Him sung about on Rainsford Island.

I shall never forget the impression made upon me by Mark Guy Pearse,
one of the greatest of the English preachers, in his story of how he
was ordained a preacher. He said: "It was no bishop or presbytery that
consecrated me, but a saintly Cornish woman, whom we children called
old Rosie, and who was, indeed, my right reverend mother in God.

"So far as I can recollect, it was always sun-shiny when we visited old
Rosie, though of course it must have rained sometimes. She had a single
room in a tiny little cottage squeezed behind the rest. A narrow strip
led to the door, and there was no room for any window in front, except
the one right above the door, peering out from under the heavy thatch.
There is no one to answer if we knock, so we push our fingers through
the door and lift the wooden latch. My father, who goes with us almost
every Sunday, has to stoop his head in climbing the narrow stair, and
of course the little lad of six and his sisters stoop their heads too;
there are four of the girls and one of me. Rosie welcomes us with her
beaming smile. She is sitting up in bed, as she has done for eleven
long years. She is a hundred and five years old, and her hair is snowy
white, yet there is not a wrinkle on her brow, and her cheeks have the
rosy brightness from which she gets the familiar name. All her
relations are gone, and she is now a pauper with only two or three
shillings a week from the parish.

"We might call her poor and lonely and bedridden, yet she is brimful of
happiness. The Bible is constantly at her hand, and she is generally
thanking God for all His mercies. She has lived in the light and love
of the Saviour since she was eleven years old; and she has gone so long
and so far in the good way, that now it is as if she were sitting just
outside the golden gates, crowned with radiant beauty and clothed with
white raiment, waiting until her Lord shall bid her enter.

"At dear old Rosie's bed we used to have a little service; first a
chapter read from the Bible, then a hymn--'Rock of Ages' was her
favorite, sung to 'Rousseau's Dream.' When the prayer was over, old
Rosie would lay her thin hand on the little lad's curly head, and say
as she turned her face upward, 'O Lord, bless the little lad! Bless him
and make him a preacher.' I didn't like that prayer of hers, and I used
to say to myself, 'I will never be a preacher; I will be a doctor, and
gallop about the country visiting people.' But one Sunday, after the
service and her little prayer, she said 'good-by' to us all. 'You won't
see me any more; so it must be good-by for a long time now, until we
meet at home.' We wondered what she meant. Two days after, she was
carried home by God's angels from her lonely room. My little heart was
like to break at the thought of never seeing her again; and I went out
by myself to the garden and prayed, 'Please God, I don't care so much,
after all, if I become a preacher, if it will make dear Rosie any
happier.'"

It would be better for us that a millstone were hanged about our necks,
and we were cast into the depths of the sea, than that we should be
thoughtless or indifferent of one of God's poor, like old Rosie.

Well, you ask, how can it be made better? My answer is that there ought
to be a radical change in the Board of Control of Public Institutions.
I do not make any personal fight on the three men now in control. I
make war on the whole system. As it is now, there are, in and about
Boston, ten public institutions, occupied by thousands of men and women
and children, carried on at an expense of nearly six hundred thousand
dollars, entirely under the control of three commissioners. This is not
wise. There ought to be a large advisory board made up of distinguished
citizens. This should be composed of women as well as men. It is
certainly a very short-sighted and thoughtless arrangement that,
although there are in these institutions several hundred women and
children, there is no woman who has any authorized interest in them.
There is every reason why women should be on the Boards of Control of
Public Institutions. The editor of the New York _Nation_ says:
"Whatever improvement there has been in the condition of Bellevue
Hospital, for example, and of the hospitals of Blackwell's and Hart's
Islands, during the past twenty years--and it is very great--has, as a
rule, been due to women's initiative and labors."

The fact is, that everything that concerns health, education, and good
morals occupies the minds of women more than it does the minds of most
of their husbands and fathers; and in every department of municipal
administration, where the conditions of the streets, of the sewers, of
the hospitals and almshouses, and of the police, are in question, women
have an equal interest with men, and in order to the public well-being
and safety, ought to have an equal voice. I am sure that an advisory
board of leading citizens, on which were three or four level-headed,
humane women, would work the revolution that is needed in the treatment
of Boston's paupers. Do not put this question aside. This is Boston's
question, and you are a part of Boston. As some one sang in the Boston
_Transcript_ not long ago:--

  "Lazarus lies at your gate!
    O proud and prosperous city,
  How long will you let him wait?
    Listen and look; have pity.

  Dives, oh, cannot you hear,
    For the music and dance of your high land,
  The moaning of misery drear
    That comes from the desolate island?

  Finest of linen you wear;
    Comrades in luxury you cherish,
  Sumptuous daily you fare.
    What of your neighbors who perish?

  When you would heighten your cheer
    By a contrast that's very dramatic,
  Fancy what scenes may appear
    In a certain dim hospital attic.

  Swarming and sweltering, and scant
    Of air,--foul to soul as to senses,--
  Where he that is guilty of Want
    Meets a doom fit for graver offences.

  Worn-out, the pauper nurse sleeps;
    The sufferer, forsaken, is crying
  With no one to moisten his lips,--
    No one to mark that he's dying.

  Who should hear the _catch_ in his breath
    'Mid the coughs, curses, ravings, resounding
  Through the ward o'er the bed of his death,
    From the close-crowded pallets surrounding?

  And picture the scenes, to come
    Perhaps, of another sorrow
  Nearer your stately home,--
    That you will not have to borrow;

 When hushed is all merry din,
    And your smiling guests have vanished;
  When your flowers come blooming in,
    To be glanced at once and banished;

  When vain are all the crafts
    That Mammon serve, and never
  Tour costliest, coolest draughts
    Can quench the fire of your fever;

  When your street is red with tan,
    And your oft-pulled door-bell muffled,
  That the peace of a dying man
    By no faintest sound be ruffled;

  When love, to give you rest,
    Doth toil with soothings fruitless;
  And skill has done its best,
    And the town's best skill is bootless;

  When the chaises leave the place,
    And the helpless, poor patrician
  Lies looking up in the face
    Of only the Great Physician,--

  God grant it with joy may be
    That you hear, 'What you did toward others
  Ye have done it unto Me,
    In the least of those My brothers!'

  Lazarus lies at your gate;
    Our kindly dear old city,
  Let him no longer wait;
    Open the doors of your pity!"




 XI.

COMMENT ON "OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS, THE BOSTON PAUPERS".


  "There is no caste in blood,
  Which runneth of one hue, nor caste in tears,
  Which trickled salt with all."


Mrs. Alice N. Lincoln, who has given a large amount of time and
painstaking interest to the treatment of the paupers, and who deserves
more credit than any one else for the present hopeful campaign in their
behalf, writes as follows in the _Boston Transcript_ of August 28:--

"Those of your readers who were kind enough to follow in your columns,
last winter, the articles for which you courteously made space there
concerning the poor of Boston, will, I think, be interested to know
what has since been done for the islands, and why so much controversy
is aroused by the sermon of Dr. Banks on the paupers.

"Early in the spring two new commissioners were appointed. It was hoped
that this change in the board would bring about good results, but, in
point of fact, matters remained much the same. The appropriation for a
new hospital, though made months ago, was not acted upon until this
week, when bids for the building were opened."

[Illustration: WOMEN'S HOSPITAL WARD AT LONG ISLAND.]
[Footnote: This is the best hospital ward on the two islands. Screen
shown on the right, behind which is a dying woman.]

"On August 5, I had the honor to lay before the commissioners eight
requests on behalf of the inmates of the island, as follows:--

1. More occupation for the able-bodied.

2. More comfortable chairs for the aged women, who are obliged to rise
at 5:30 A.M., and are not allowed to lie down without permission.

3. More benches out of doors for the benefit of the inmates.

4. A separate room for the dying (it having been urged by both the
physician and superintendent that the cries of dying patients often
disturbed a whole ward for several nights).

5. More privacy for women in bathing (and it will, perhaps, shock your
readers, as it did the writer, that one of the commissioners affirmed
and repeated that he did not consider this necessary).

6. Another nurse at Long Island, where Miss O'Brian has charge of
fifty-two sick women and where there is no bath-room.

7. Another nurse at the Main Institution Building on Rainsford Island,
where the laundry-matron has charge of forty-two sick women in addition
to her other duties, and with no assistance except what is given her by
inmates.

8. A new matron for the hospital. My reason for making this last
request is that I believe the present matron to be inefficient. She has
had no previous hospital training to fit her for her duties, and
certainly the hospital and its patients, when I last saw them, bore
evidences of neglect. The beds were not clean, and the patients showed
a lack of personal cleanliness and care. When I first visited the
hospital the floors were dirty and the closets were unwashed, but there
has been an improvement in those respects. I was present when dinner
was served to thirty patients in one ward--or, indeed, to seventy
inmates of the hospital--and the matron took no charge of the food,
which was put before the patients in a most uninviting manner--a great
contrast to the neat wooden trays which are in use at Tewksbury.
Moreover, I discerned a want of interest in the patients, to which the
matron herself bore testimony when she said that she never washed a
wound, and was engaged as a matron--not as a nurse.

"These, then, were the grounds upon which I asked for the appointment
of another nurse or matron, and fortunately one has applied for the
position entirely without my knowledge or solicitation. One of the
commissioners doubted whether a trained hospital emergency nurse could
be found to go to the islands; but this offer seems to set that
question at rest, and it is to be hoped her application may be
considered favorably.

"I also had the honor to lay before the commissioners the report of one
of my former tenants, who was an inmate of Rainsford Island a little
more than a year ago.

"She was a young woman who went down there because of a lump in her
breast, taking her baby with her. But for the baby she would have been
admitted to the City Hospital: but she did not like to leave her child,
and her husband, who was absent, was unable to care for it.
Consequently, she became for the time an inmate of the Rainsford Island
Hospital.

"She complained first of the indignity of having to strip in the
presence of others, no screen or curtain being provided as a shelter to
the necessary bath, which is the first step on entrance to an
institution.

"During her stay of three weeks she had no towel given to her, and only
one clean sheet was furnished.

"She was expected to cook all the food for her baby, and to make and
clean her own bed, although she was partly incapacitated by the lump in
her breast, which affected one arm.

"The food was very poor and unsatisfactory; and when she complained
that the porridge was sour, the matron told her if she did not like it
she could leave it.

"Worse than all, her baby fell ill on a Wednesday; she could obtain no
medicine for it until Sunday (though she asked for it repeatedly), and
on Monday the baby died.

"The mother left the institution the next day. She speaks in the
highest terms of the physician in charge and of the assistant, Miss
McDonald, at Rainsford Island; but she says the matron never did
anything for her and was not with her when the baby died; also, that
the milk and other food ordered for the patients is often not received
by them. And in this respect her statement is corroborated by the
remarks of another woman, also my tenant, who was an inmate of Long
Island when it was first opened for women several years ago. This woman
told me, with bated breath, that the food was miserable--it was killing
her; and, indeed, she died soon after, though I think grief hastened
her end."

[Illustration: GETTING A BREATH OF FRESH AIR.]

"It is because I have seen these people in their own homes that I feel
such sympathy for them as paupers. They have known the comfort and
independence of their own surroundings, and if by reason of old age or
sickness--through no fault of their own--they become paupers, they
should at least be treated with clue consideration and nursed with all
tenderness. I am entering no plea for the lazy and idle and intemperate
class who seek the refuge of an almshouse, and for whom, as Dr. Banks
says, the work-house is the proper place; but I do say that old or sick
people, even if paupers, are entitled to the very best care. We do not
begrudge it to them in our City Hospital or our State almshouse;
therefore, why is it too much to require it of the city of Boston's
pauper hospitals?

"No wonder that an attack such as has been made by Dr. Banks meets with
violent opposition and denial. He is attacking institutions whose
officials depend for their bread and butter on the positions which they
fill. But Dr. Banks and I have no 'axe to grind,' and he is only
stating the truth when he says that the pauper institutions at
Rainsford Island are overcrowded (so overcrowded that nearly fifty old
women sleep in a close and stifling attic, under the roof), and that
the fare, especially for the old and sick, is not what it should be."

The _Boston Herald_ of August 30 begins an exhaustive article, more
than five columns long, by saying:--

"For some time there has been an earnest and vigorous agitation going
on regarding the management and condition of Boston's pauper
institutions at Long and Rainsford Islands. Heretofore this agitation
has been out of the sight of the general public, with the exception of
a few letters which have appeared from time to time in the papers;
consequently, the sermon of Rev. Louis Albert Banks last Sunday on the
subject came like a revelation to many.

"The _Herald_ had been making a thorough investigation of the charges
brought, previous to Mr. Banks' utterances, and this has been continued
up to the present time, in order that the people of Boston may know
accurately and to the fullest the precise condition of its pauper
institutions and their inmates. As a result of that investigation, it
may be boldly said that the criticisms which have been made public do
not give an adequate idea of the disgraceful condition in which the
institutions are at present, nor the treatment which the paupers
receive and under which they exist rather than live.

"This statement is a strong one, but it can be borne out by facts which
are indisputable."

In the course of this long article, which fully sustains all statements
set forth in my discourse, the _Herald_ reporter, commenting on the
crowded condition of the buildings on Rainsford Island, says:--

"It is in the main building at Rainsford that the greatest lack of even
decent surroundings prevails, and where the condition of the inmates is
the worst. Here the fault seems to lie not only with the commissioners,
but with the matrons in charge, for there is no system discernible in
the housekeeping arrangements whatever. The infirmary is occupied by
those women who are not able to get about; and the rooms composing that
part of the building are pleasant and airy of themselves, but they are
spoiled by their keeping. There is no classification of inmates, and
old and young are all together, as well as the vicious and the
unfortunate.

"Another classification which might be made was suggested by the
presence of two women who were so unfortunate as to be afflicted in
such a manner that the whole air of the room was contaminated on their
account. This was through no fault of their own, and they should not be
made to suffer for it; but it seems hardly fair that all the other
women should be compelled to breathe the air made foul by their
presence. Add to this detriment to health and decent living the bad
sanitary arrangements, and the result is, indeed, open to criticism.

"This building is so old and antiquated that it originally had no place
provided inside for water-closets and bath-rooms. In putting these in
they were built directly in the corners of the rooms; and these corners
were then partitioned off, but for some unknown reason the partitions
were not continued up to the ceilings, the result being that the
closets were practically left in the room and a screen put around.
Owing to the fact that there is no water on the island, it all being
brought in tanks by steamer, there is not that abundance used in
flushing out the bowls which otherwise might be the case, and which
would go so far toward removing the horrible odor which is so prevalent
in every part of the building. Aside from the discomfort in being
obliged to smell this odor continually, the danger to the health of the
inmates is a serious thing.

"Throughout the wards in this building there is considerable
overcrowding, although not to the extent that is to be seen in another
part. The beds are all cared for by the women themselves, and
conversation with the matron showed that there was a regular time for
changing the bed linen, although that time was not the same in any two
rooms, and the writer, after continued questioning and asking for
explanation, failed to discover that there was any regularity whatever
about it.

"A few beds were taken at random and stripped to see their condition.
Invariably the sheets were dirty, very dirty; but this was explained by
one of the inmates who was in charge of this ward by the statement that
it was time they were changed, according to their usual practice, but
for some reason, not given, it had not been done this week. On nearly
all the sheets were plainly seen the marks of dead bed-bugs and other
vermin, some of it dried on and looking as though it had been there for
a long time."

[Illustration: ATTIC AT RAINSFORD ISLAND.]

[Footnote: Cut shows one wing. Another crosses it at right angles and
is partly occupied. Thirty women occupy this room, allowing about 320
cubic feet of air-space per person. The only ventilation is through
windows jutting out on the roof, each one being 2 feet 10 inches by 4
feet 8 inches in size.]

"It is in the attic of the main building, however, that one should go
to realize some of Dickens' pictures of pauper life, for there is a
picture here that needs no exaggeration to make it appear on a par with
those in fiction. In this attic live the older women, and they pass
their sleeping hours and many of their waking ones under the eaves of
this old house.

"Throughout this attic the peak is so low that it can be touched by the
hand of a man of ordinary height while standing, and the roof pitches
until it comes to within two feet of the floor. Under the caves here
are placed the beds of these old women, their heads close under the
roof, and extending in a line down the length of the building.

"The width of this attic is eighteen feet, and its length is that of
the building; but it is divided up into several apartments. In one of
these apartments were thirty beds, all occupied at night. The total
air-space of this room allowed about three hundred and twenty cubic
feet to each person, where a thousand are considered necessary with
good ventilation, according to Mr. Commissioner Newell. The only light
and ventilation that this attic gets is through a few small windows let
into the roof, not large enough to furnish ventilation for rooms which
are not overcrowded, and certainly not large enough to purify rooms
where the air is made foul by being breathed by at least three times
too many persons.

"Moreover, these old women are required to rise every morning at 5:00
o'clock, and are compelled to remain up until 8 o'clock in the evening.
They are not allowed to lie down during the day without a special
permit from the doctor, as, they say, it would cause disorder. This
permit lie says he is always willing to grant, but they seldom come for
it. This seems perfectly natural, as one hardly can expect that the old
women would take pains to hunt up the doctor every time they wanted to
take a short nap.

"Not only are they not allowed to lie down for a nap without this
special permit, but comfortable chairs are not furnished them. By each
bed is a single ordinary wooden chair of the cheapest kind, and this is
allotted to the one occupying the bed. Now and then a rocking-chair may
be seen, but they are few and far between."

[Illustration: MARINERS' HOME.]

"Some time ago a benevolent and kind-hearted lady visiting the island
was struck with this lack of comfort, and sent to the institution a
number of rocking-chairs for use in the old women's ward. They arrived
on July 16, but an active search for them failed to disclose their
whereabouts. It was plain that the women for whom they were intended
were not getting the benefit of them, and inquiry was made. Nobody
seemed to know where they were. Several believed that something of the
kind had been sent down, but knew nothing more. Finally, after an
energetic search by Dr. Harkins, the chairs were discovered in a
store-house, or paint-shop, where they had been put when they lauded on
the wharf so long ago. Two days later these chairs had been taken out
and placed in the wards, and there were two hundred women eager for the
six comfortable rockers.

"Another criticism which might be made is that the paupers are provided
with no regular religious service. At Deer Island there is a paid
chaplain, and although his duties do not call him to the almshouse, he
sometimes goes over. There is a large room called the chapel, and here
religious services are held when there is any one to lead them. A
Catholic priest goes down twice a week to minister to the wants of the
Catholics, who are in the majority; something like ninety-five per cent
being of that persuasion. The fact remains, however, that the city of
Boston does not give its paupers the benefit of any religious service
or guidance. As was said by one lady on hearing the facts: 'In the eyes
of the city it is a greater crime to be a pauper than a criminal.'"

Rev. Dr. Frederick B. Allen, of the Episcopal City Mission of Boston,
writing in the Herald of August 31, says:--

"In the management of human beings, especially the aged, the infirm,
the insane, and the sick, there is needed a wise and tender
consideration which sheer business management is apt to miss.

"The sociological problems of pauperism and crime, the study of
successful methods in other cities and other lands, the deep sense of
the sacredness of our humanity, even in its weakest and most
unfortunate members,--these make their demand for the aid of men and
women to whom these questions of human life and death are at least as
controlling as the reduction of the city tax rate.

"Were there any such board of advisers to do in our city institutions
what the State Charities Aid Society has done for New York State, we
should not have been confronted, as we now are, with poorly planned,
inadequate, and badly managed buildings, lack of discrimination in
those permitted to occupy them, insufficient and untrained nurses for
the sick, lack of proper ventilation and food, and everywhere the
absence of devoted personal, human, moral oversight and control.

"I second most positively Dr. Banks' assertion that 'an advisory board
of leading citizens, on which are three or four level-headed and humane
women, would work the revolution that is needed in the treatment of"
our brothers and sisters, the Boston paupers."'"




XII.

THE GOLD GOD OF MODERN SOCIETY.


  "When wealth no mere shall rest in mounded heaps.
  But smit with freer light shall slowly melt
  In many streams to fatten lower lands,
  And light shall spread, and man be liker man
  Thro' all the seasons of the golden year."

No one who is in touch with the throbbing life of this time can fail to
perceive that this is an age peculiarly given up to the worship of
Mammon. The literature of our day bears certain evidence of this fact.
_Scribner's Magazine_ of last year contained, under the title of
"Jerry," a painfully realistic and comprehensive story, dealing with
the debauch of a noble character by the fascination of gold. Jerry
belonged to the "poor white trash" of the Cumberland Mountains, and on
the death of his mother, being cruelly treated at home, he ran away to
the West. After many wanderings, the little wayfarer, tired out and
almost dead, fell into the hands of a quaint old miner who was digging
and hoarding up gold in his cabin in the Northwestern Mountains. In the
midst of this wild region, educated by a kind-hearted physician, Jerry
grew up to be a young man of peculiarly noble and heroic character. He
remembered with painful distinctness that he belonged to the poorest of
the common people, and the ambition of his life was to uplift his own
class.

The fearful tragedy of the story begins when the miserly old
miner--who, all the time unknown to Jerry, is hoarding up gold for his
young ward--discovers, to his great astonishment, that gold has no
fascination for this strange young man, and fears that with his lofty
ideals all his toil for him will be in vain and unappreciated. So the
shrewd old man plans to send him to the East, where his eyes may be
dazzled with the brilliancy of fashionable life, and where may be
revealed to him the power gold gives to its possessor. Sitting in his
old log cabin on the mountain side, the old miner would rub his hands
back on his stubbly gray hair and reason with himself: "If Jerry only
knew gold; if Jerry could only see what gold could get, could only
spend gold; then he would be willing to take all he could get and never
ask where it came from." So the old miner determined that "Jerry must
learn to spend money, must learn to love it, and then all will go
well." And then the story goes on to tell of the deterioration of this
noble young soul--how that gradually he becomes dominated with the
passion for gold, until he is not only willing to work for it, but
murder for it, if only he may have gold and the power that it brings.

In another field Mr. Charles Dudley Warner gives us the same warning,
in his story of "A Little Journey in the World." In this Mr. Warner
tells us of one of the sweetest and purest of young women, who has the
highest ideals, and whose standards of morality are of the noblest, who
is married to an unprincipled young speculator on Wall Street, New
York; and under the influence of her husband, and the society into
which she is drawn by his business relations, in which he gathers
millions of money, all her holy and lofty ideals are overthrown, and
she becomes simply a material, worldly woman. This is the way he
reasons about it: "But we, I say, who loved her, and knew so well the
noble possibilities of her royal nature, under circumstances favorable
to its development, felt more and more her departure from her own
ideals. Her life in its spreading prosperity seemed more and more
shallow. I do not say she was heartless; I do not say she was
uncharitable; I do not say that in all the externals of worldly and
religious observance she was wanting; I do not say that the more she
was assimilated to the serenely worldly nature of her husband, she did
not love him, or that she was unlovely in the worldliness that ingulfed
her and bore her onward. I do not know that there is anything singular
in her history. But the pain of it to us was in the certainty--and it
seemed so near--that in the decay of her higher life, in the hardening
process of a material existence, in the transfer of all her interest to
the trivial and sensuous gratifications--time, mind, heart, ambition,
all fixed on them--we should never regain our Margaret. What I saw in a
vision of her future was a _dead soul_--a beautiful woman in all the
success of envied prosperity, with a dead soul."

[Illustration: CHILDREN PLAYING IN COPP'S HILL BURYING GROUND.]

If we turn away from these revelations of the worm at the heart of our
social life, that are made fascinating by the art in which they are
clothed, to the rude happenings of every-day observation, the same
danger is everywhere apparent. The associated press despatches from San
Jose, Cal., a few weeks since, bore this burden: "One of the best-known
men in California died yesterday in a squalid hut on Colfax Street. He
was Prof. Herman Kottinger, who at one time was the leading violinist
on the Pacific Coast, and well known as a writer of prose and poetry,
of 'A World's History,' and also of text-books on free thought. He was
worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, acquired by a lifetime of
miserly frugality. At the time of his death sixteen hundred dollars in
gold coin was found secreted in his bed. But one child, William
Kottinger, a farmer, was present at the death. When the old man in his
death-throes raised himself up in bed, the son rushed to his side. His
father, mistaking the act, with a frenzied yell waved him back, and
clutching at the bedclothes, pulled them back, disclosing to view the
gold. He made a grab at it with both hands, and with the bright pieces
in his fingers fell back with a gasp and expired.

"Prof. Kottinger was once a doctor in Heidelberg University, and was
ninety years old. He was so wasted by hunger that his body weighed less
than forty pounds, and was in a disgusting condition. His bed and
clothes were reeking with filth. Over the head of the bed hung a violin
of great value. So miserly was the old professor that fifteen years ago
he drove his wife and all his children from home, saying that it cost
too much to feed and clothe them. From that day until yesterday, when
the end was approaching, not one of his relatives had come near him.
Two big fierce Danish mastiffs, half starved, have for years been the
old man's only companions, and they guarded the shanty so well that not
even a tax-collector could approach. They had to be killed yesterday
before the undertaker could get into the house. When it was learned
that Kottinger was dead, a number of his relatives hastened to his hut.
There has been a shameful neglect of the dead shown, and indecent haste
in ransacking the place in search of the gold and other treasures known
to be hidden."

All these show the destructive power of gold upon its worshippers. But
these are by no means the only victims of this worship of the gold god.
For every one who is hoarding up his millions, and who is dominated by
the love of gold for its very shine and glitter, there are hundreds and
thousands who are toiling for insufficient wages, and are suffering in
poverty and want, that this lordly worshipper may pay his devotions to
the money god.

[Illustration: DIGGING IN THE ASH-BARRELS IN WINTER.]

If some of these money kings who have made their millions by the
oppression of the poor, in mines, and mills, and factories, were
suddenly called to face the bones of the dead who have gone to their
graves from weary, unrequited slavery, in order for their financial
triumph, they would stand back aghast at the price of their own
success.

It is this worship of the gold god which is at the bottom of all the
wrongs which have been pointed out in this series of discourses. The
wealthy merchant who pays the poor widow one cent apiece for making
white aprons, and by his avarice and his lust induces the young women
who sell them to eke out their scanty wages by the sale of their honor,
is a worshipper of the gold god. The sweater who parcels out his work
through the miserable tenement houses, grinding the face of the poor to
the very last degree possible with physical existence,--indeed, many
times beyond the possibility of existence, except when helped by
charity,--is an obsequious devotee at the altar of Mammon. The
chattel-mortgage shark, who watches all the necessities of the poor as
anxiously as ever a hawk watched over a helpless or crippled bird, and
the liquor-seller, who fills his coffers by a traffic which injures and
destroys the health, the intelligence, and the morality of all the
people whom he can draw into his net, investing all his cunning in
methods to entrap the unwary, and gloating over the increasing appetite
and the devilish passion for strong drink in his victims, are only
brothers to the others who gather to pay their devotions to the god of
gold.

[Illustration: FOUR SHINERS.]

If we do not approve these worshippers, what shall we say of ourselves
for permitting this state of things to come to pass? It is inconsistent
to condemn the liquor-seller and honor the city which licenses him to
do his damnable work. It is impossible to condemn the sweater and
retain your respect for the public which permits him to carry on his
nefarious business. The spirit of avarice is in the very air, until
society has been poisoned by its breath. Dr. Howard Crosby, writing in
the _Forum_ a few years since, says: "The healthiest form of human
society is where the many are equally independent in their management
of their affairs, where professions and trades are represented by
individual thinking minds, and where those engaged in any one branch of
industry stand on a level with one another. This condition of things
promotes invention, activity, interest, manliness, and good
citizenship. Now the gold-hunt system is directly antagonistic to all
this. It seeks to destroy the many independent tradesmen, and to make
them servants in a gigantic monopoly. The happy homes of freemen become
the pinched quarters of serfs. The lords of trade have their hundreds
and thousands of humble subordinates over whom they rule, often with a
rod of iron. They may be turned away from work and wages at any moment,
by any whim of the selfish employer. Hence, through fear of this, they
lose their manhood, and dare not assert even a decision of their
conscience. There is no more melancholy sight to my eyes than that
which I often see nowadays--the former happy possessor of a shop or
store, who has lived comfortably and with the true nobility of a
citizen, and whose family have felt the dignity of the home, now made a
clerk and drudge in a huge establishment that, by its relentless use of
millions, has undermined and overthrown all the independent stores of a
large district, while his family are thrust into the unsavory communism
of a tenement house, and lose all the delicate refinements of a quiet
home. It is easy to say that this is but the natural law of trade. So
to devour men is the natural law of tigers. But this truth will not
reconcile us to the process. If we are to stop men from stealing
directly, we can stop them from stealing indirectly. If natural law
works evil to the community, we are to make statute law, which will act
as supernatural law, and control the offensive principle. Unless we
wish our social equality destroyed, and a system of practical serfdom
to take its place, we must put a limit to the acts of greed, and so
preserve the independence of our citizens."

[Illustration: SOUTH BOSTON RAG-PICKERS.]

Every thoughtful observer of the "signs of the times" knows that the
deepest problem of our age is the amicable solution of the struggle
between labor and capital. Some of the ablest work done in literature,
in our time, has been produced out of an earnest desire to abolish the
more recent types of this white slavery, which has, in one form or
another, threatened the masses since the days of old John Ball of early
England. Perhaps the strongest portrayal, yet, of many phases of the
question, especially those relating to the city, maybe found in Mr.
Howells' story, "A Hazard of New Fortunes." For the country, if one
really wants to see what is behind the great upheaval in the West,
which has its outward manifestation in the Farmers' Alliance, he only
needs to read Mr. Hamlin Garland's "Main Travelled Roads."

In the meantime most of us are asking, "What is the way out?" As for
myself, I confess to being only a student. I have no word of sneer or
scoff for any mail's honest thinking, who is sincerely trying to uplift
his brothers and sisters; and yet I must say that, as yet, I have not
been able to become a disciple of any of the new systems that have been
presented. I feel something like the man who says, "There are good
things to be said in praise of Socialism or Nationalism, as compared
with the crushing and wearing methods of competition; but what the
world is waiting for is the thinker who shall either show us how to
reconcile the new system with human liberty, or else convince us that
we can do without liberty." In the mean-time I believe in God, in His
wise purpose in the creation of the world, in His providential care
over it, and that under His grace there shall come the triumph of
righteousness in it. I believe in Jesus Christ. To my mind,
Christianity stands to-day very much as it did nearly two thousand
years ago, when Jesus hung upon the cross between two thieves. The
anarchy which, atheistic and reckless, would destroy all law and all
property, is one of the thieves, and the devotee of the gold god of our
time, who clutches his money-bags and says, "I have a right to get all
the money I can, and do with it what I please," is the other thief.
Christianity stands between them; her mission is to change them both,
and bring them with a regenerated purpose into brotherhood and
fellowship.

George Macdonald says: "The world will change only as the heart of man
changes. Growing intellect, growing civilization, will heal man's
wounds only to cause the deeper ill to break out afresh in new forms,
nor can they satisfy one longing of the human soul. Its desires are
deeper than that soul itself, whence it groans with the groanings that
cannot be uttered. As much in times of civilization as in those of
barbarity, the soul needs an external presence to make its life good to
it." The Christianity of to-day must set itself, as did Jesus, to make
men brothers, by bringing them to a recognition of the fact that they
are all alike the children of one God and Father over all. Such a
Christianity will necessarily be at war with the gold god of our time.
The clear-cut declaration of Jesus, "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon,"
is as true now as when He uttered it. I do not remember to have seen
this issue put as clearly anywhere else as by Henry D. Lloyd in an
article in the _North American Review_ entitled, "The New Conscience."
He says: Let us listen while a delegation from the Money-power
remonstrates with the New Conscience for its unreasonable sentiments
and ideas. Here they come, one by one, and range themselves about.

First speaks--

THE MERCHANT PRINCE: I have a right to buy where I can buy cheapest.

CONSCIENCE: See these little stunted, hollow-eyed girls coming out of
that factory.

LAWYER: Wages are settled by contract.

CONSCIENCE: Where can I find white-haired workingmen?

CAPITALIST: Every man has a right to do what he will with his own.

CONSCIENCE: What is the price of a senatorship to-day?

STATISTICIAN: Never were food, fuel, and clothing so cheap.

CONSCIENCE: Little Mary Mitchell works in Waterbury's ropeworks five
days a week from six in the evening till six in the morning.

RAILROAD KING: Every man makes his own career. I was a workingman
myself twenty years ago, and now I keep a carriage, a butler, and
several judges and legislators, in four States, and--

CONSCIENCE: That tired-looking man is a railway conductor of a company
owned by half a dozen men worth three hundred millions of dollars,
which is not enough for them, so they squeeze a few more dollars a
month out of him by making him, on every alternate trip, do
twenty-eight and a half hours' work without sleep.

BANKER: Our wealth is increasing one billion dollars a year. We have
boards of trades, the best railroads in the world, and packing-houses
that can kill ten thousand hogs.

CONSCIENCE: The sickening stench, the blistered air, the foul sights of
the tenements, and the motherhood and the childhood choking there.

CONSERVATIVE: This is the best government in the world. America is good
enough for me.

CONSCIENCE: Listen to that "tramp, tramp, tramp" of a million of men
out of work.

MANUFACTURER: Without this system of industry the subjugation of North
America to civilization would have been impossible; we could never have
shown the world the magnificent spectacle of--

CONSCIENCE: There is a little boy standing ten hours a day up to his
ankles in the water in a coal-mine.

COAL MONOPOLIST: I have a statistician who can prove--he can prove
anything--that the workingman is a great deal better off than he ever
was, that he makes more than I do, that small incomes are increasing
and large ones decreasing, that there is no involuntary poverty, and
that the workingmen could live on twenty-five cents each a day and buy
up the United States with their savings, and--

CONSCIENCE: How long shall it be cheaper to run over workingmen and
women at the railroad crossings in the cities than to put up gates?

CLERGYMAN: The poor we are to have with us always.

CONSCIENCE: That sewing-woman you see pawning her shawl has lived this
winter with her two children in a room without fire. Are you wearing
one of the shirts she finished?

STATESMAN: The workingman has the ballot and the newspapers. He is a
free citizen.

CONSCIENCE: As the nights grow colder see how the number of girls on
the street increases.

It is this new conscience, the conscience of Jesus Christ, that
appraises a hungry child to be of more value than ten thousand palaces,
that must animate and dominate the church that is called by His name,
in its war against the gold god of modern society.

You may find this conscience throbbing in Ella Wheeler Wilcox's plea
for "Justice, not Charity."

  "All hail the dawn of a new day breaking,
    When a strong armed nation shall take away
  The weary burden from backs that are aching
    With maximum work and minimum pay.

  When no man is honored who hoards his millions,
    When no man feasts on another's toil,
  And God's poor, suffering, starving billions
    Shall share His riches of sun and soil.

  There is gold for all in the world's broad bosom.
    There is food for all in the world's great store;
  Enough is provided if rightly divided,
    Let each man take what he needs--no more.

  Shame on the miser with unused riches,
    Who robs the toiler to swell his hoard,
  Who beats down the wage of the digger of ditches,
    And steals the bread from the poor man's board!

  Shame on the owner of mines whose cruel
    And selfish measures have brought him wealth!
  While the ragged wretches who dig his fuel
    Are robbed of comfort, and hope, and health.

  Shame on the ruler who rides in his carriage,
    Bought by the labor of half-paid men--
  Men who are shut out of home and marriage,
    And are herded like sheep in a hovel pen."

There must be no doubt about the attitude of the church in a time like
this. Against the gold god and all his oppressions the Christian Church
must stand with an unflinching front. Our God is the same who spoke
through the voice of Amos of old, saying, "Hear this, oh ye that
swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail,
saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? And the
sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the
shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit? That we may buy
the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell
the refuse of the wheat?" Ah! how much that sounds like the things that
are going on at the present time! Yet listen to the oath of the
Almighty as He looks on such things: "The Lord hath sworn by the
excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works.
Shall not the land tremble for this, and every one mourn that dwelleth
therein?... And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord God,
that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the
earth in a clear day: and I will turn your feasts into mourning, and
all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sack-cloth upon
all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the
mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day."

It is the mission of our blessed Christianity to save the world from
that bitter day by so changing and transforming it that it will no
longer deserve bitterness, but peace, at the hand of God. Although I
have felt compelled, in this series of discourses, to uncover many dark
and loathsome places in our social system, yet I am no pessimist, and I
do not despair. Jesus Christ, our Captain, saw "Satan fallen as
lightning from heaven;" and when we are as devoted to God, and as
thoroughly consecrated to our mission of curing the world's heartache
as was He, we, too, shall live in sight of the same glorious triumph.
When we are imbued with this faith, and exalted into fellowship with
Him, we will not dare to say that the sweatshop, or the neglected
tenement house, or the noisome liquor saloon, is a necessary contingent
of human life. And we will know that whatever is good enough to be
true, may be and shall be true to the sons and daughters of God. In
that faith we shall be able to sing with the poet:--

  "'Tis coming up the steeps of time,
    And this old world is growing brighter;
  We may not see its dawn sublime,
    Yet high hopes make the heart throb lighter!

  We may be sleeping in the ground,
    When it awakes the peoples' wonder;
  But we have felt it gathering round,
    And heard its voice of living thunder;
  Christ's reign, ah, yes, 'tis coming!

  Aye, it _must_ come! the Tyrant's throne
    Is crumbling, with men's hot tears rusted;
  The sword earth's mighty have leant upon
    Is cankered, with men's hearts' blood crusted!

  Room! for the man of love make way!
    Ye selfish great ones, pause no longer;
  Ye cannot stay the opening day,
    The world rolls on, the light grows stronger--
  The Master's advent's coming!"






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