Obrazy na stronie

the cost of wasted labor, and all the unnecessary expenditure for advertising,-a species of warfare,—and the making attractive of rival establishments ? I am not, nor during these addresses shall I be, denouncing those who prosper under this system. I am only pointing out certain facts which are connected with it. Among other such facts are these:

The necessaries for satisfactory human life, in the lowest estimate, are:-pure air, pure water, pure food and a sufficient amount of it, a certain amount of clothing, protection from the weather, fuel for cooking and heating, possibilities of cleanliness, of adequate rest, and of decent privacy.10 Is it any secret that a considerable portion of humanity does not have these things ?

To lift human life above the level of brute existence, to the above-mentioned necessities must be added :-opportunity for acquiring knowledge, for at least a little acquaintance with history, science, possibly with literature, philosophy, and art; opportunity to read books, see pictures, hear music, witness the drama; opportunity for decent sober intercourse with others, occasional recreation in joyful gatherings, in the noble sports, possibly in travel. It is perfectly well known that more than half the race does not have these opportunities.

This is in the large, and, like all such statements, touches nobody with its pathos. It is when one goes out among these masses,” as we call them, and sees with his own eyes particular instances of abject want and unspeakable misery, that it begins to come home to him like the hurt of a stab or blow, that this should be. When for a little while he has gone into and out of tenements where light and pure air and cleanliness are luxuries for which their swarming tenants can never hope; when he has seen a thousand men, women, and children living -if the word will bear such a use—in one narrow court, under conditions in which it would be a scandal to kennel animals; when he learns the current wages of shirt-makers and shop-girls, and understands that they are not everywhere expected to live upon their pay; when he has seen a woman or two-rarely a man; he can steal more easily; -dead from insufficient food; and when he sees, more pathetic than all this, the sad failure, the wretched futility, of charity against such odds,—he will perhaps wonder when it was that Christianity began to civil. ize the world, and how the world ever got along without it.

A few years ago it was a current question, seldom proposed, I believe, but with good results in awakened public conscience, “ What would Christ do, if He came to this city?" The answer, dictated by the temper of the men who gave it, was generally a story of universal denunciation. There is enough that deserves denunciation. Nevertheless my own feeling is that if, to speak foolishly, Christ came to Boston, He would not walk our streets without seeing much to rejoice in. He would see not a few evidences that the city had begun to follow Him, though as yet a great way off, evidences of civic Christianity, of corporate discipleship. He would recognize as such the public schools, the city's confession of her duty in the education of her children. He would, however, very likely enquire how it was that, if we admitted the duty of beginning the education of every child, we did not also recognize the duty of doing away with conditions which make the later life of half the children such that there is no possibility of carrying that education on; such that their little glimpse into the world of light and beauty remains only a tantalizing remembrance, a sting, a breeder of disaffection and envy. He would commend us for the pictures and bits of statuary in the school-rooms, but He might ask us why, if this be a civic function, it is not also one to tear down the miserable rookeries in which many of these children live, and to demand the erection of respectable human habitations in their stead; why, if it is a munici. pal duty to teach the people to sing, it is not also one to give them reason to sing.

He would rejoice, -I know not in what else so much,-in that fair white temple of learning yonder, the Public Library, the chaste beauty of whose walls is the chief adornment of the city, and whose freely-poured To fine freecond by the Ching public

out treasures above all else furnish and decorate the life of the city's people, and in the fine freedom of that square in which it stands, claimed by the city for the public good, and with its surrounding public buildings witnessing to the fact that we do live, and are beginning to recognize that we live, a corporate life. He might wonder why side by side there, there need be three places of worship for those for whom His most solemn prayer was that they might be one, and why those edifices, specifically denominated “ Christian," and professing to be the special exponents of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, are not, like those secular and non-religious affairs, the Art Museum and the Library, Open Free to All.” Christ was always unable to appreciate the practical difficulties that are to be met with in the world, and He might still be, as He showed Himself in Judea, quite unreasonable in declining to take account of the prevailing state of things. It is even to be feared He would be incapable of understanding why, if a Copley Square is good for the Back Bay, the

« PoprzedniaDalej »