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Title: The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets
Author: Addams, Jane, 1860-1935
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets" ***








_Author of Democracy and Social Ethics
Newer Ideals of Peace, etc._

New York


Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1909

Norwood Press:
Berwick & Smith Co., Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.


Louise de Koben Bowen




Youth in the City                             3


The Wrecked Foundations of Domesticity       25


The Quest for Adventure                      51


The House of Dreams                          75


The Spirit of Youth and Industry            107


The Thirst for Righteousness                139


Much of the material in the following pages has appeared in current
publications. It is here presented in book form in the hope that it
may prove of value to those groups of people who in many cities are
making a gallant effort to minimize the dangers which surround young
people and to provide them with opportunities for recreation.



Nothing is more certain than that each generation longs for a
reassurance as to the value and charm of life, and is secretly afraid
lest it lose its sense of the youth of the earth. This is doubtless
one reason why it so passionately cherishes its poets and artists who
have been able to explore for themselves and to reveal to others the
perpetual springs of life's self-renewal.

And yet the average man cannot obtain this desired reassurance through
literature, nor yet through glimpses of earth and sky. It can come to
him only through the chance embodiment of joy and youth which life
itself may throw in his way. It is doubtless true that for the mass of
men the message is never so unchallenged and so invincible as when
embodied in youth itself. One generation after another has depended
upon its young to equip it with gaiety and enthusiasm, to persuade it
that living is a pleasure, until men everywhere have anxiously
provided channels through which this wine of life might flow, and be
preserved for their delight. The classical city promoted play with
careful solicitude, building the theater and stadium as it built the
market place and the temple. The Greeks held their games so integral a
part of religion and patriotism that they came to expect from their
poets the highest utterances at the very moments when the sense of
pleasure released the national life. In the medieval city the knights
held their tourneys, the guilds their pageants, the people their
dances, and the church made festival for its most cherished saints
with gay street processions, and presented a drama in which no less a
theme than the history of creation became a matter of thrilling
interest. Only in the modern city have men concluded that it is no
longer necessary for the municipality to provide for the insatiable
desire for play. In so far as they have acted upon this conclusion,
they have entered upon a most difficult and dangerous experiment; and
this at the very moment when the city has become distinctly
industrial, and daily labor is continually more monotonous and
subdivided. We forget how new the modern city is, and how short the
span of time in which we have assumed that we can eliminate public
provision for recreation.

A further difficulty lies in the fact that this industrialism has
gathered together multitudes of eager young creatures from all
quarters of the earth as a labor supply for the countless factories
and workshops, upon which the present industrial city is based. Never
before in civilization have such numbers of young girls been suddenly
released from the protection of the home and permitted to walk
unattended upon city streets and to work under alien roofs; for the
first time they are being prized more for their labor power than for
their innocence, their tender beauty, their ephemeral gaiety. Society
cares more for the products they manufacture than for their immemorial
ability to reaffirm the charm of existence. Never before have such
numbers of young boys earned money independently of the family life,
and felt themselves free to spend it as they choose in the midst of
vice deliberately disguised as pleasure.

This stupid experiment of organizing work and failing to organize play
has, of course, brought about a fine revenge. The love of pleasure
will not be denied, and when it has turned into all sorts of malignant
and vicious appetites, then we, the middle aged, grow quite distracted
and resort to all sorts of restrictive measures. We even try to dam up
the sweet fountain itself because we are affrighted by these neglected
streams; but almost worse than the restrictive measures is our
apparent belief that the city itself has no obligation in the matter,
an assumption upon which the modern city turns over to commercialism
practically all the provisions for public recreation.

Quite as one set of men has organized the young people into industrial
enterprises in order to profit from their toil, so another set of men
and also of women, I am sorry to say, have entered the neglected field
of recreation and have organized enterprises which make profit out of
this invincible love of pleasure.

In every city arise so-called "places"--"gin-palaces," they are
called in fiction; in Chicago we euphemistically say merely
"places,"--in which alcohol is dispensed, not to allay thirst, but,
ostensibly to stimulate gaiety, it is sold really in order to empty
pockets. Huge dance halls are opened to which hundreds of young people
are attracted, many of whom stand wistfully outside a roped circle,
for it requires five cents to procure within it for five minutes the
sense of allurement and intoxication which is sold in lieu of innocent
pleasure. These coarse and illicit merrymakings remind one of the
unrestrained jollities of Restoration London, and they are indeed
their direct descendants, properly commercialized, still confusing joy
with lust, and gaiety with debauchery. Since the soldiers of Cromwell
shut up the people's playhouses and destroyed their pleasure fields,
the Anglo-Saxon city has turned over the provision for public
recreation to the most evil-minded and the most unscrupulous members
of the community. We see thousands of girls walking up and down the
streets on a pleasant evening with no chance to catch a sight of
pleasure even through a lighted window, save as these lurid places
provide it. Apparently the modern city sees in these girls only two
possibilities, both of them commercial: first, a chance to utilize by
day their new and tender labor power in its factories and shops, and
then another chance in the evening to extract from them their petty
wages by pandering to their love of pleasure.

As these overworked girls stream along the street, the rest of us see
only the self-conscious walk, the giggling speech, the preposterous
clothing. And yet through the huge hat, with its wilderness of
bedraggled feathers, the girl announces to the world that she is here.
She demands attention to the fact of her existence, she states that
she is ready to live, to take her place in the world. The most
precious moment in human development is the young creature's assertion
that he is unlike any other human being, and has an individual
contribution to make to the world. The variation from the established
type is at the root of all change, the only possible basis for
progress, all that keeps life from growing unprofitably stale and

Is it only the artists who really see these young creatures as they
are--the artists who are themselves endowed with immortal youth? Is it
our disregard of the artist's message which makes us so blind and so
stupid, or are we so under the influence of our _Zeitgeist_ that we
can detect only commercial values in the young as well as in the old?
It is as if our eyes were holden to the mystic beauty, the redemptive
joy, the civic pride which these multitudes of young people might
supply to our dingy towns.

The young creatures themselves piteously look all about them in order
to find an adequate means of expression for their most precious
message: One day a serious young man came to Hull-House with his
pretty young sister who, he explained, wanted to go somewhere every
single evening, "although she could only give the flimsy excuse that
the flat was too little and too stuffy to stay in." In the difficult
rôle of elder brother, he had done his best, stating that he had taken
her "to all the missions in the neighborhood, that she had had a
chance to listen to some awful good sermons and to some elegant hymns,
but that some way she did not seem to care for the society of the best
Christian people." The little sister reddened painfully under this
cruel indictment and could offer no word of excuse, but a curious
thing happened to me. Perhaps it was the phrase "the best Christian
people," perhaps it was the delicate color of her flushing cheeks and
her swimming eyes, but certain it is, that instantly and vividly there
appeared to my mind the delicately tinted piece of wall in a Roman
catacomb where the early Christians, through a dozen devices of spring
flowers, skipping lambs and a shepherd tenderly guiding the young, had
indelibly written down that the Christian message is one of
inexpressible joy. Who is responsible for forgetting this message
delivered by the "best Christian people" two thousand years ago? Who
is to blame that the lambs, the little ewe lambs, have been so caught
upon the brambles?

But quite as the modern city wastes this most valuable moment in the
life of the girl, and drives into all sorts of absurd and obscure
expressions her love and yearning towards the world in which she
forecasts her destiny, so it often drives the boy into gambling and
drinking in order to find his adventure.

Of Lincoln's enlistment of two and a half million soldiers, a very
large number were under twenty-one, some of them under eighteen, and
still others were mere children under fifteen. Even in those stirring
times when patriotism and high resolve were at the flood, no one
responded as did "the boys," and the great soul who yearned over them,
who refused to shoot the sentinels who slept the sleep of childhood,
knew, as no one else knew, the precious glowing stuff of which his
army was made. But what of the millions of boys who are now searching
for adventurous action, longing to fulfil the same high purpose?

One of the most pathetic sights in the public dance halls of Chicago
is the number of young men, obviously honest young fellows from the
country, who stand about vainly hoping to make the acquaintance of
some "nice girl." They look eagerly up and down the rows of girls,
many of whom are drawn to the hall by the same keen desire for
pleasure and social intercourse which the lonely young men themselves

One Sunday night at twelve o'clock I had occasion to go into a large
public dance hall. As I was standing by the rail looking for the girl
I had come to find, a young man approached me and quite simply asked
me to introduce him to some "nice girl," saying that he did not know
any one there. On my replying that a public dance hall was not the
best place in which to look for a nice girl, he said: "But I don't
know any other place where there is a chance to meet any kind of a
girl. I'm awfully lonesome since I came to Chicago." And then he added
rather defiantly: "Some nice girls do come here! It's one of the best
halls in town." He was voicing the "bitter loneliness" that many city
men remember to have experienced during the first years after they had
"come up to town." Occasionally the right sort of man and girl meet
each other in these dance halls and the romance with such a tawdry
beginning ends happily and respectably. But, unfortunately, mingled
with the respectable young men seeking to form the acquaintance of
young women through the only channel which is available to them, are
many young fellows of evil purpose, and among the girls who have left
their lonely boarding houses or rigid homes for a "little fling" are
likewise women who openly desire to make money from the young men whom
they meet, and back of it all is the desire to profit by the sale of
intoxicating and "doctored" drinks.

Perhaps never before have the pleasures of the young and mature become
so definitely separated as in the modern city. The public dance halls
filled with frivolous and irresponsible young people in a feverish
search for pleasure, are but a sorry substitute for the old dances on
the village green in which all of the older people of the village
participated. Chaperonage was not then a social duty but natural and
inevitable, and the whole courtship period was guarded by the
conventions and restraint which were taken as a matter of course and
had developed through years of publicity and simple propriety.

The only marvel is that the stupid attempt to put the fine old wine
of traditional country life into the new bottles of the modern town
does not lead to disaster oftener than it does, and that the wine so
long remains pure and sparkling.

We cannot afford to be ungenerous to the city in which we live without
suffering the penalty which lack of fair interpretation always
entails. Let us know the modern city in its weakness and wickedness,
and then seek to rectify and purify it until it shall be free at least
from the grosser temptations which now beset the young people who are
living in its tenement houses and working in its factories. The mass
of these young people are possessed of good intentions and they are
equipped with a certain understanding of city life. This itself could
be made a most valuable social instrument toward securing innocent
recreation and better social organization. They are already serving
the city in so far as it is honeycombed with mutual benefit societies,
with "pleasure clubs," with organizations connected with churches and
factories which are filling a genuine social need. And yet the whole
apparatus for supplying pleasure is wretchedly inadequate and full of
danger to whomsoever may approach it. Who is responsible for its
inadequacy and dangers? We certainly cannot expect the fathers and
mothers who have come to the city from farms or who have emigrated
from other lands to appreciate or rectify these dangers. We cannot
expect the young people themselves to cling to conventions which are
totally unsuited to modern city conditions, nor yet to be equal to the
task of forming new conventions through which this more agglomerate
social life may express itself. Above all we cannot hope that they
will understand the emotional force which seizes them and which, when
it does not find the traditional line of domesticity, serves as a
cancer in the very tissues of society and as a disrupter of the
securest social bonds. No attempt is made to treat the manifestations
of this fundamental instinct with dignity or to give it possible
social utility. The spontaneous joy, the clamor for pleasure, the
desire of the young people to appear finer and better and altogether
more lovely than they really are, the idealization not only of each
other but of the whole earth which they regard but as a theater for
their noble exploits, the unworldly ambitions, the romantic hopes, the
make-believe world in which they live, if properly utilized, what
might they not do to make our sordid cities more beautiful, more
companionable? And yet at the present moment every city is full of
young people who are utterly bewildered and uninstructed in regard to
the basic experience which must inevitably come to them, and which has
varied, remote, and indirect expressions.

Even those who may not agree with the authorities who claim that it is
this fundamental sex susceptibility which suffuses the world with its
deepest meaning and beauty, and furnishes the momentum towards all
art, will perhaps permit me to quote the classical expression of this
view as set forth in that ancient and wonderful conversation between
Socrates and the wise woman Diotima. Socrates asks: "What are they
doing who show all this eagerness and heat which is called love? And
what is the object they have in view? Answer me." Diotima replies: "I
will teach you. The object which they have in view is birth in beauty,
whether of body or soul.... For love, Socrates, is not as you imagine
the love of the beautiful only ... but the love of birth in beauty,
because to the mortal creature generation is a sort of eternity and

To emphasize the eternal aspects of love is not of course an easy
undertaking, even if we follow the clue afforded by the heart of every
generous lover. His experience at least in certain moments tends to
pull him on and out from the passion for one to an enthusiasm for that
highest beauty and excellence of which the most perfect form is but an
inadequate expression. Even the most loutish tenement-house youth
vaguely feels this, and at least at rare intervals reveals it in his
talk to his "girl." His memory unexpectedly brings hidden treasures to
the surface of consciousness and he recalls the more delicate and
tender experiences of his childhood and earlier youth. "I remember the
time when my little sister died, that I rode out to the cemetery
feeling that everybody in Chicago had moved away from the town to
make room for that kid's funeral, everything was so darned lonesome
and yet it was kind of peaceful too." Or, "I never had a chance to go
into the country when I was a kid, but I remember one day when I had
to deliver a package way out on the West Side, that I saw a flock of
sheep in Douglas Park. I had never thought that a sheep could be
anywhere but in a picture, and when I saw those big white spots on the
green grass beginning to move and to turn into sheep, I felt exactly
as if Saint Cecilia had come out of her frame over the organ and was
walking in the park." Such moments come into the life of the most
prosaic youth living in the most crowded quarters of the cities. What
do we do to encourage and to solidify those moments, to make them come
true in our dingy towns, to give them expression in forms of art?

We not only fail in this undertaking but even debase existing forms of
art. We are informed by high authority that there is nothing in the
environment to which youth so keenly responds as to music, and yet the
streets, the vaudeville shows, the five-cent theaters are full of the
most blatant and vulgar songs. The trivial and obscene words, the
meaningless and flippant airs run through the heads of hundreds of
young people for hours at a time while they are engaged in monotonous
factory work. We totally ignore that ancient connection between music
and morals which was so long insisted upon by philosophers as well as
poets. The street music has quite broken away from all control, both
of the educator and the patriot, and we have grown singularly careless
in regard to its influence upon young people. Although we legislate
against it in saloons because of its dangerous influence there, we
constantly permit music on the street to incite that which should be
controlled, to degrade that which should be exalted, to make sensuous
that which might be lifted into the realm of the higher imagination.

Our attitude towards music is typical of our carelessness towards all
those things which make for common joy and for the restraints of
higher civilization on the streets. It is as if our cities had not yet
developed a sense of responsibility in regard to the life of the
streets, and continually forget that recreation is stronger than
vice, and that recreation alone can stifle the lust for vice.

Perhaps we need to take a page from the philosophy of the Greeks to
whom the world of fact was also the world of the ideal, and to whom
the realization of what ought to be, involved not the destruction of
what was, but merely its perfecting upon its own lines. To the Greeks
virtue was not a hard conformity to a law felt as alien to the natural
character, but a free expression of the inner life. To treat thus the
fundamental susceptibility of sex which now so bewilders the street
life and drives young people themselves into all sorts of
difficulties, would mean to loosen it from the things of sense and to
link it to the affairs of the imagination. It would mean to fit to
this gross and heavy stuff the wings of the mind, to scatter from it
"the clinging mud of banality and vulgarity," and to speed it on
through our city streets amid spontaneous laughter, snatches of lyric
song, the recovered forms of old dances, and the traditional rondels
of merry games. It would thus bring charm and beauty to the prosaic
city and connect it subtly with the arts of the past as well as with
the vigor and renewed life of the future.



    "Sense with keenest edge unused
     Yet unsteel'd by scathing fire:
     Lovely feet as yet unbruised
     On the ways of dark desire!"

These words written by a poet to his young son express the longing
which has at times seized all of us, to guard youth from the mass of
difficulties which may be traced to the obscure manifestation of that
fundamental susceptibility of which we are all slow to speak and
concerning which we evade public responsibility, although it brings
its scores of victims into the police courts every morning.

At the very outset we must bear in mind that the senses of youth are
singularly acute, and ready to respond to every vivid appeal. We know
that nature herself has sharpened the senses for her own purposes, and
is deliberately establishing a connection between them and the newly
awakened susceptibility of sex; for it is only through the outward
senses that the selection of an individual mate is made and the
instinct utilized for nature's purposes. It would seem, however, that
nature was determined that the force and constancy of the instinct
must make up for its lack of precision, and that she was totally
unconcerned that this instinct ruthlessly seized the youth at the
moment when he was least prepared to cope with it; not only because
his powers of self-control and discrimination are unequal to the task,
but because his senses are helplessly wide open to the world. These
early manifestations of the sex susceptibility are for the most part
vague and formless, and are absolutely without definition to the youth
himself. Sometimes months and years elapse before the individual mate
is selected and determined upon, and during the time when the
differentiation is not complete--and it often is not--there is of
necessity a great deal of groping and waste.

This period of groping is complicated by the fact that the youth's
power for appreciating is far ahead of his ability for expression.
"The inner traffic fairly obstructs the outer current," and it is
nothing short of cruelty to over-stimulate his senses as does the
modern city. This period is difficult everywhere, but it seems at
times as if a great city almost deliberately increased its perils. The
newly awakened senses are appealed to by all that is gaudy and
sensual, by the flippant street music, the highly colored theater
posters, the trashy love stories, the feathered hats, the cheap
heroics of the revolvers displayed in the pawn-shop windows. This
fundamental susceptibility is thus evoked without a corresponding stir
of the higher imagination, and the result is as dangerous as possible.
We are told upon good authority that "If the imagination is retarded,
while the senses remain awake, we have a state of esthetic
insensibility,"--in other words, the senses become sodden and cannot
be lifted from the ground. It is this state of "esthetic
insensibility" into which we allow the youth to fall which is so
distressing and so unjustifiable. Sex impulse then becomes merely a
dumb and powerful instinct without in the least awakening the
imagination or the heart, nor does it overflow into neighboring fields
of consciousness. Every city contains hundreds of degenerates who have
been over-mastered and borne down by it; they fill the casual lodging
houses and the infirmaries. In many instances it has pushed men of
ability and promise to the bottom of the social scale. Warner, in his
_American Charities_, designates it as one of the steady forces making
for failure and poverty, and contends that "the inherent uncleanness
of their minds prevents many men from rising above the rank of day
laborers and finally incapacitates them even for that position." He
also suggests that the modern man has a stronger imagination than the
man of a few hundred years ago and that sensuality destroys him the
more rapidly.

It is difficult to state how much evil and distress might be averted
if the imagination were utilized in its higher capacities through the
historic paths. An English moralist has lately asserted that "much of
the evil of the time may be traced to outraged imagination. It is the
strongest quality of the brain and it is starved. Children, from
their earliest years, are hedged in with facts; they are not trained
to use their minds on the unseen."

In failing to diffuse and utilize this fundamental instinct of sex
through the imagination, we not only inadvertently foster vice and
enervation, but we throw away one of the most precious implements for
ministering to life's highest needs. There is no doubt that this ill
adjusted function consumes quite unnecessarily vast stores of vital
energy, even when we contemplate it in its immature manifestations
which are infinitely more wholesome than the dumb swamping process.
Every high school boy and girl knows the difference between the
concentration and the diffusion of this impulse, although they would
be hopelessly bewildered by the use of the terms. They will declare
one of their companions to be "in love" if his fancy is occupied by
the image of a single person about whom all the newly found values
gather, and without whom his solitude is an eternal melancholy. But if
the stimulus does not appear as a definite image, and the values
evoked are dispensed over the world, the young person suddenly seems
to have discovered a beauty and significance in many things--he
responds to poetry, he becomes a lover of nature, he is filled with
religious devotion or with philanthropic zeal. Experience, with young
people, easily illustrates the possibility and value of diffusion.

It is neither a short nor an easy undertaking to substitute the love
of beauty for mere desire, to place the mind above the senses; but is
not this the sum of the immemorial obligation which rests upon the
adults of each generation if they would nurture and restrain the
youth, and has not the whole history of civilization been but one long
effort to substitute psychic impulsion for the driving force of blind

Society has recognized the "imitative play" impulse of children and
provides them with tiny bricks with which to "build a house," and
dolls upon which they may lavish their tenderness. We exalt the love
of the mother and the stability of the home, but in regard to those
difficult years between childhood and maturity we beg the question and
unless we repress, we do nothing. We are so timid and inconsistent
that although we declare the home to be the foundation of society, we
do nothing to direct the force upon which the continuity of the home
depends. And yet to one who has lived for years in a crowded quarter
where men, women and children constantly jostle each other and press
upon every inch of space in shop, tenement and street, nothing is more
impressive than the strength, the continuity, the varied and powerful
manifestations, of family affection. It goes without saying that every
tenement house contains women who for years spend their hurried days
in preparing food and clothing and pass their sleepless nights in
tending and nursing their exigent children, with never one thought for
their own comfort or pleasure or development save as these may be
connected with the future of their families. We all know as a matter
of course that every shop is crowded with workingmen who year after
year spend all of their wages upon the nurture and education of their
children, reserving for themselves but the shabbiest clothing and a
crowded place at the family table.

"Bad weather for you to be out in," you remark on a February evening,
as you meet rheumatic Mr. S. hobbling home through the freezing sleet
without an overcoat. "Yes, it is bad," he assents: "but I've walked to
work all this last year. We've sent the oldest boy back to high
school, you know," and he moves on with no thought that he is doing
other than fulfilling the ordinary lot of the ordinary man.

These are the familiar and the constant manifestations of family
affection which are so intimate a part of life that we scarcely
observe them.

In addition to these we find peculiar manifestations of family
devotion exemplifying that touching affection which rises to unusual
sacrifice because it is close to pity and feebleness. "My cousin and
his family had to go back to Italy. He got to Ellis Island with his
wife and five children, but they wouldn't let in the feeble-minded
boy, so of course they all went back with him. My cousin was fearful

Or, "These are the five children of my brother. He and his wife, my
father and mother, were all done for in the bad time at Kishinef. It's
up to me all right to take care of the kids, and I'd no more go back
on them than I would on my own." Or, again: "Yes, I have seven
children of my own. My husband died when Tim was born. The other three
children belong to my sister, who died the year after my husband. I
get on pretty well. I scrub in a factory every night from six to
twelve, and I go out washing four days a week. So far the children
have all gone through the eighth grade before they quit school," she
concludes, beaming with pride and joy.

That wonderful devotion to the child seems at times, in the midst of
our stupid social and industrial arrangements, all that keeps society
human, the touch of nature which unites it, as it was that same
devotion which first lifted it out of the swamp of bestiality. The
devotion to the child is "the inevitable conclusion of the two
premises of the practical syllogism, the devotion of man to woman."
It is, of course, this tremendous force which makes possible the
family, that bond which holds society together and blends the
experience of generations into a continuous story. The family has been
called "the fountain of morality," "the source of law," "the necessary
prelude to the state" itself; but while it is continuous historically,
this dual bond must be made anew a myriad times in each generation,
and the forces upon which its formation depend must be powerful and
unerring. It would be too great a risk to leave it to a force whose
manifestations are intermittent and uncertain. The desired result is
too grave and fundamental.

One Sunday evening an excited young man came to see me, saying that he
must have advice; some one must tell him at once what to do, as his
wife was in the state's prison serving a sentence for a crime which he
himself had committed. He had seen her the day before, and though she
had been there only a month he was convinced that she was developing
consumption. She was "only seventeen, and couldn't stand the hard
work and the 'low down' women" whom she had for companions. My remark
that a girl of seventeen was too young to be in the state penitentiary
brought out the whole wretched story.

He had been unsteady for many years and the despair of his thoroughly
respectable family who had sent him West the year before. In Arkansas
he had fallen in love with a girl of sixteen and married her. His
mother was far from pleased, but had finally sent him money to bring
his bride to Chicago, in the hope that he might settle there. _En
route_ they stopped at a small town for the naïve reason that he
wanted to have an aching tooth pulled. But the tooth gave him an
excellent opportunity to have a drink, and before he reached the
office of the country practitioner he was intoxicated. As they passed
through the vestibule he stole an overcoat hanging there, although the
little wife piteously begged him to let it alone. Out of sheer bravado
he carried it across his arm as they walked down the street, and was,
of course, immediately arrested "with the goods upon him." In sheer
terror of being separated from her husband, the wife insisted that
she had been an accomplice, and together they were put into the county
jail awaiting the action of the Grand Jury. At the end of the sixth
week, on one of the rare occasions when they were permitted to talk to
each other through the grating which separated the men's visiting
quarters from the women's, the young wife told her husband that she
made up her mind to swear that she had stolen the overcoat. What could
she do if he were sent to prison and she were left free? She was
afraid to go to his people and could not possibly go back to hers. In
spite of his protest, that very night she sent for the state's
attorney and made a full confession, giving her age as eighteen in the
hope of making her testimony more valuable. From that time on they
stuck to the lie through the indictment, the trial and her conviction.
Apparently it had seemed to him only a well-arranged plot until he had
visited the penitentiary the day before, and had really seen her
piteous plight. Remorse had seized him at last, and he was ready to
make every restitution. She, however, had no notion of giving up--on
the contrary, as she realized more clearly what prison life meant, she
was daily more determined to spare him the experience. Her letters,
written in the unformed hand of a child--for her husband had himself
taught her to read and write--were filled with a riot of
self-abnegation, the martyr's joy as he feels the iron enter the
flesh. Thus had an illiterate, neglected girl through sheer devotion
to a worthless sort of young fellow inclined to drink, entered into
that noble company of martyrs.

When girls "go wrong" what happens? How has this tremendous force,
valuable and necessary for the foundation of the family, become
misdirected? When its manifestations follow the legitimate channels of
wedded life we call them praiseworthy; but there are other
manifestations quite outside the legal and moral channels which yet
compel our admiration.

A young woman of my acquaintance was married to a professional
criminal named Joe. Three months after the wedding he was arrested
and "sent up" for two years. Molly had always been accustomed to many
lovers, but she remained faithful to her absent husband for a year. At
the end of that time she obtained a divorce which the state law makes
easy for the wife of a convict, and married a man who was "rich and
respectable"--in fact, he owned the small manufacturing establishment
in which her mother did the scrubbing. He moved his bride to another
part of town six miles away, provided her with a "steam-heated flat,"
furniture upholstered in "cut velvet," and many other luxuries of
which Molly heretofore had only dreamed. One day as she was wheeling a
handsome baby carriage up and down the prosperous street, her brother,
who was "Joe's pal," came to tell her that Joe was "out," had come to
the old tenement and was "mighty sore" because "she had gone back on
him." Without a moment's hesitation Molly turned the baby carriage in
the direction of her old home and never stopped wheeling it until she
had compassed the entire six miles. She and Joe rented the old room
and went to housekeeping. The rich and respectable husband made every
effort to persuade her to come back, and then another series of
efforts to recover his child, before he set her free through a court
proceeding. Joe, however, steadfastly refused to marry her, still
"sore" because she had not "stood by." As he worked only
intermittently, and was too closely supervised by the police to do
much at his old occupation, Molly was obliged to support the humble
ménage by scrubbing in a neighboring lodging house and by washing "the
odd shirts" of the lodgers. For five years, during which time two
children were born, when she was constantly subjected to the taunts of
her neighbors, and when all the charitable agencies refused to give
help to such an irregular household, Molly happily went on her course
with no shade of regret or sorrow. "I'm all right as long as Joe keeps
out of the jug," was her slogan of happiness, low in tone, perhaps,
but genuine and "game." Her surroundings were as sordid as possible,
consisting of a constantly changing series of cheap "furnished rooms"
in which the battered baby carriage was the sole witness of better
days. But Molly's heart was full of courage and happiness, and she was
never desolate until her criminal lover was "sent up" again, this time
on a really serious charge.

These irregular manifestations form a link between that world in which
each one struggles to "live respectable," and that nether world in
which are also found cases of devotion and of enduring affection
arising out of the midst of the folly and the shame. The girl there
who through all tribulation supports her recreant "lover," or the girl
who overcomes, her drink and opium habits, who renounces luxuries and
goes back to uninteresting daily toil for the sake of the good opinion
of a man who wishes her to "appear decent," although he never means to
marry her, these are also impressive.

One of our earliest experiences at Hull-House had to do with a lover
of this type and the charming young girl who had become fatally
attached to him. I can see her now running for protection up the broad
steps of the columned piazza then surrounding Hull-House. Her slender
figure was trembling with fright, her tear-covered face swollen and
bloodstained from the blows he had dealt her. "He is apt to abuse me
when he is drunk," was the only explanation, and that given by way of
apology, which could be extracted from her. When we discovered that
there had been no marriage ceremony, that there were no living
children, that she had twice narrowly escaped losing her life, it
seemed a simple matter to insist that the relation should be broken
off. She apathetically remained at Hull-House for a few weeks, but
when her strength had somewhat returned, when her lover began to
recover from his prolonged debauch of whiskey and opium, she insisted
upon going home every day to prepare his meals and to see that the
little tenement was clean and comfortable because "Pierre is always so
sick and weak after one of those long ones." This of course meant that
she was drifting back to him, and when she was at last restrained by
that moral compulsion, by that overwhelming of another's will which is
always so ruthlessly exerted by those who are conscious that virtue is
struggling with vice, her mind gave way and she became utterly

A poor little Ophelia, I met her one night wandering in the hall half
dressed in the tawdry pink gown "that Pierre liked best of all" and
groping on the blank wall to find the door which might permit her to
escape to her lover. In a few days it was obvious that hospital
restraint was necessary, but when she finally recovered we were
obliged to admit that there is no civic authority which can control
the acts of a girl of eighteen. From the hospital she followed her
heart directly back to Pierre, who had in the meantime moved out of
the Hull-House neighborhood. We knew later that he had degraded the
poor child still further by obliging her to earn money for his drugs
by that last method resorted to by a degenerate man to whom a woman's
devotion still clings.

It is inevitable that a force which is enduring enough to withstand
the discouragements, the suffering and privation of daily living,
strenuous enough to overcome and rectify the impulses which make for
greed and self-indulgence, should be able, even under untoward
conditions, to lift up and transfigure those who are really within
its grasp and set them in marked contrast to those who are merely
playing a game with it or using it for gain. But what has happened to
these wretched girls? Why has this beneficent current cast them upon
the shores of death and destruction when it should have carried them
into the safe port of domesticity? Through whose fault has this basic
emotion served merely to trick and deride them?

Older nations have taken a well defined line of action in regard to

Among the Hull-House neighbors are many of the Latin races who employ
a careful chaperonage over their marriageable daughters and provide
husbands for them at an early age. "My father will get a husband for
me this winter," announces Angelina, whose father has brought her to a
party at Hull-House, and she adds with a toss of her head, "I saw two
already, but my father says they haven't saved enough money to marry
me." She feels quite as content in her father's wisdom and ability to
provide her with a husband as she does in his capacity to escort her
home safely from the party. He does not permit her to cross the
threshold after nightfall unaccompanied by himself, and unless the
dowry and the husband are provided before she is eighteen he will
consider himself derelict in his duty towards her. "Francesca can't
even come to the Sodality meeting this winter. She lives only across
from the church but her mother won't let her come because her father
is out West working on a railroad," is a comment one often hears. The
system works well only when it is carried logically through to the end
of an early marriage with a properly-provided husband.

Even with the Latin races, when the system is tried in America it
often breaks down, and when the Anglo-Saxons anywhere imitate this
régime it is usually utterly futile. They follow the first part of the
program as far as repression is concerned, but they find it impossible
to follow the second because all sorts of inherited notions deter
them. The repressed girl, if she is not one of the languishing type,
takes matters into her own hands, and finds her pleasures in illicit
ways, without her parents' knowledge. "I had no idea my daughter was
going to public dances. She always told me she was spending the night
with her cousin on the South Side. I hadn't a suspicion of the truth,"
many a broken-hearted mother explains. An officer who has had a long
experience in the Juvenile Court of Chicago, and has listened to
hundreds of cases involving wayward girls, gives it as his deliberate
impression that a large majority of cases are from families where the
discipline had been rigid, where they had taken but half of the
convention of the Old World and left the other half.

Unless we mean to go back to these Old World customs which are already
hopelessly broken, there would seem to be but one path open to us in
America. That path implies freedom for the young people made safe only
through their own self-control. This, in turn, must be based upon
knowledge and habits of clean companionship. In point of fact no
course between the two is safe in a modern city, and in the most
crowded quarters the young people themselves are working out a
protective code which reminds one of the instinctive protection that
the free-ranging child in the country learns in regard to poisonous
plants and "marshy places," or of the cautions and abilities that the
mountain child develops in regard to ice and precipices. This
statement, of course, does not hold good concerning a large number of
children in every crowded city quarter who may be classed as
degenerates, the children of careless or dissolute mothers who fall
into all sorts of degenerate habits and associations before childhood
is passed, who cannot be said to have "gone wrong" at any one moment
because they have never been in the right path even of innocent
childhood; but the statement is sound concerning thousands of girls
who go to and from work every day with crowds of young men who meet
them again and again in the occasional evening pleasures of the more
decent dance halls or on a Sunday afternoon in the parks.

The mothers who are of most use to these normal city working girls are
the mothers who develop a sense of companionship with the changing
experiences of their daughters, who are willing to modify ill-fitting
social conventions into rules of conduct which are of actual service
to their children in their daily lives of factory work and of city
amusements. Those mothers, through their sympathy and adaptability,
substitute keen present interests and activity for solemn warnings and
restraint, self-expression for repression. Their vigorous family life
allies itself by a dozen bonds to the educational, the industrial and
the recreational organizations of the modern city, and makes for
intelligent understanding, industrial efficiency and sane social

By all means let us preserve the safety of the home, but let us also
make safe the street in which the majority of our young people find
their recreation and form their permanent relationships. Let us not
forget that the great processes of social life develop themselves
through influences of which each participant is unconscious as he
struggles alone and unaided in the strength of a current which seizes
him and bears him along with myriads of others, a current which may so
easily wreck the very foundations of domesticity.



A certain number of the outrages upon the spirit of youth may be
traced to degenerate or careless parents who totally neglect their
responsibilities; a certain other large number of wrongs are due to
sordid men and women who deliberately use the legitimate
pleasure-seeking of young people as lures into vice. There remains,
however, a third very large class of offenses for which the community
as a whole must be held responsible if it would escape the
condemnation, "Woe unto him by whom offenses come." This class of
offenses is traceable to a dense ignorance on the part of the average
citizen as to the requirements of youth, and to a persistent blindness
on the part of educators as to youth's most obvious needs.

The young people are overborne by their own undirected and misguided
energies. A mere temperamental outbreak in a brief period of
obstreperousness exposes a promising boy to arrest and imprisonment,
an accidental combination of circumstances too complicated and
overwhelming to be coped with by an immature mind, condemns a growing
lad to a criminal career. These impulsive misdeeds may be thought of
as dividing into two great trends somewhat obscurely analogous to the
two historic divisions of man's motive power, for we are told that all
the activities of primitive man and even those of his more civilized
successors may be broadly traced to the impulsion of two elemental
appetites. The first drove him to the search for food, the hunt
developing into war with neighboring tribes and finally broadening
into barter and modern commerce; the second urged him to secure and
protect a mate, developing into domestic life, widening into the
building of homes and cities, into the cultivation of the arts and a
care for beauty.

In the life of each boy there comes a time when these primitive
instincts urge him to action, when he is himself frightened by their
undefined power. He is faced by the necessity of taming them, of
reducing them to manageable impulses just at the moment when "a boy's
will is the wind's will," or, in the words of a veteran educator, at
the time when "it is almost impossible for an adult to realize the
boy's irresponsibility and even moral neurasthenia." That the boy
often fails may be traced in those pitiful figures which show that
between two and three times as much incorrigibility occurs between the
ages of thirteen and sixteen as at any other period of life.

The second division of motive power has been treated in the preceding
chapter. The present chapter is an effort to point out the necessity
for an understanding of the first trend of motives if we would
minimize the temptations of the struggle and free the boy from the
constant sense of the stupidity and savagery of life. To set his feet
in the worn path of civilization is not an easy task, but it may give
us a clue for the undertaking to trace his misdeeds to the
unrecognized and primitive spirit of adventure corresponding to the
old activity of the hunt, of warfare, and of discovery.

To do this intelligently, we shall have to remember that many boys in
the years immediately following school find no restraint either in
tradition or character. They drop learning as a childish thing and
look upon school as a tiresome task that is finished. They demand
pleasure as the right of one who earns his own living. They have
developed no capacity for recreation demanding mental effort or even
muscular skill, and are obliged to seek only that depending upon
sight, sound and taste. Many of them begin to pay board to their
mothers, and make the best bargain they can, that more money may be
left to spend in the evening. They even bait the excitement of "losing
a job," and often provoke a foreman if only to see "how much he will
stand." They are constitutionally unable to enjoy anything
continuously and follow their vagrant wills unhindered. Unfortunately
the city lends itself to this distraction. At the best, it is
difficult to know what to select and what to eliminate as objects of
attention among its thronged streets, its glittering shops, its gaudy
advertisements of shows and amusements. It is perhaps to the credit
of many city boys that the very first puerile spirit of adventure
looking abroad in the world for material upon which to exercise
itself, seems to center about the railroad. The impulse is not unlike
that which excites the coast-dwelling lad to dream of

    "The beauty and mystery of the ships
     And the magic of the sea."

I cite here a dozen charges upon which boys were brought into the
Juvenile Court of Chicago, all of which might be designated as deeds
of adventure. A surprising number, as the reader will observe, are
connected with railroads. They are taken from the court records and
repeat the actual words used by police officers, irate neighbors, or
discouraged parents, when the boys were brought before the judge. (1)
Building fires along the railroad tracks; (2) flagging trains; (3)
throwing stones at moving train windows; (4) shooting at the actors in
the Olympic Theatre with sling shots; (5) breaking signal lights on
the railroad; (6) stealing linseed oil barrels from the railroad to
make a fire; (7) taking waste from an axle box and burning it upon
the railroad tracks; (8) turning a switch and running a street car off
the track; (9) staying away from home to sleep in barns; (10) setting
fire to a barn in order to see the fire engines come up the street;
(11) knocking down signs; (12) cutting Western Union cable.

Another dozen charges also taken from actual court records might be
added as illustrating the spirit of adventure, for although stealing
is involved in all of them, the deeds were doubtless inspired much
more by the adventurous impulse than by a desire for the loot itself:

(1) Stealing thirteen pigeons from a barn; (2) stealing a bathing
suit; (3) stealing a tent; (4) stealing ten dollars from mother with
which to buy a revolver; (5) stealing a horse blanket to use at night
when it was cold sleeping on the wharf; (6) breaking a seal on a
freight car to steal "grain for chickens"; (7) stealing apples from a
freight car; (8) stealing a candy peddler's wagon "to be full up just
for once"; (9) stealing a hand car; (10) stealing a bicycle to take a
ride; (11) stealing a horse and buggy and driving twenty-five miles
into the country; (12) stealing a stray horse on the prairie and
trying to sell it for twenty dollars.

Of another dozen it might be claimed that they were also due to this
same adventurous spirit, although the first six were classed as
disorderly conduct: (1) Calling a neighbor a "scab"; (2) breaking down
a fence; (3) flipping cars; (4) picking up coal from railroad tracks;
(5) carrying a concealed "dagger," and stabbing a playmate with it;
(6) throwing stones at a railroad employee. The next three were called
vagrancy: (1) Loafing on the docks; (2) "sleeping out" nights; (3)
getting "wandering spells." One, designated petty larceny, was cutting
telephone wires under the sidewalk and selling them; another, called
burglary, was taking locks off from basement doors; and the last one
bore the dignified title of "resisting an officer" because the boy,
who was riding on the fender of a street car, refused to move when an
officer ordered him off.

Of course one easily recalls other cases in which the manifestations
were negative. I remember an exasperated and frightened mother who
took a boy of fourteen into court upon the charge of incorrigibility.
She accused him of "shooting craps," "smoking cigarettes," "keeping
bad company," "being idle." The mother regrets it now, however, for
she thinks that taking a boy into court only gives him a bad name, and
that "the police are down on a boy who has once been in court, and
that that makes it harder for him." She hardly recognizes her once
troublesome charge in the steady young man of nineteen who brings home
all his wages and is the pride and stay of her old age.

I recall another boy who worked his way to New York and back again to
Chicago before he was quite fourteen years old, skilfully escaping
the truant officers as well as the police and special railroad
detectives. He told his story with great pride, but always modestly
admitted that he could never have done it if his father had not been a
locomotive engineer so that he had played around railroad tracks and
"was onto them ever since he was a small kid."

There are many of these adventurous boys who exhibit a curious
incapacity for any effort which requires sustained energy. They show
an absolute lack of interest in the accomplishment of what they
undertake, so marked that if challenged in the midst of their
activity, they will be quite unable to tell you the end they have in
view. Then there are those tramp boys who are the despair of every one
who tries to deal with them.

I remember the case of a boy who traveled almost around the world in
the years lying between the ages of eleven and fifteen. He had lived
for six months in Honolulu where he had made up his mind to settle
when the irresistible "Wanderlust" again seized him. He was
scrupulously neat in his habits and something of a dandy in
appearance. He boasted that he had never stolen, although he had been
arrested several times on the charge of vagrancy, a fate which befell
him in Chicago and landed him in the Detention Home connected with the
Juvenile Court. The judge gained a personal hold upon him, and the lad
tried with all the powers of his untrained moral nature to "make good
and please the judge." Monotonous factory work was not to be thought
of in connection with him, but his good friend the judge found a
place for him as a bell-boy in a men's club, where it was hoped that
the uniform and the variety of experience might enable him to take the
first steps toward regular pay and a settled life. Through another
bell-boy, however, he heard of the find of a diamond carelessly left
in one of the wash rooms of the club. The chance to throw out
mysterious hints of its whereabouts, to bargain for its restoration,
to tell of great diamond deals he had heard of in his travels,
inevitably laid him open to suspicion which resulted in his dismissal,
although he had had nothing to do with the matter beyond gloating over
its adventurous aspects. In spite of skilful efforts made to detain
him, he once more started on his travels, throwing out such diverse
hints as that of "a trip into Old Mexico," or "following up Roosevelt
into Africa."

There is an entire series of difficulties directly traceable to the
foolish and adventurous persistence of carrying loaded firearms. The
morning paper of the day in which I am writing records the following:

     "A party of boys, led by Daniel O'Brien, thirteen years old,
     had gathered in front of the house and O'Brien was throwing
     stones at Nieczgodzki in revenge for a whipping that he
     received at his hands about a month ago. The Polish boy
     ordered them away and threatened to go into the house and
     get a revolver if they did not stop. Pfister, one of the
     boys in O'Brien's party, called him a coward, and when he
     pulled a revolver from his pocket, dared him to put it away
     and meet him in a fist fight in the street. Instead of
     accepting the challenge, Nieczgodzki aimed his revolver at
     Pfister and fired. The bullet crashed through the top of his
     head and entered the brain. He was rushed to the Alexian
     Brothers' Hospital, but died a short time after being
     received there. Nieczgodzki was arrested and held without

This tale could be duplicated almost every morning; what might be
merely a boyish scrap is turned into a tragedy because some boy has a

Many citizens in Chicago have been made heartsick during the past
month by the knowledge that a boy of nineteen was lodged in the county
jail awaiting the death penalty. He had shot and killed a policeman
during the scrimmage of an arrest, although the offense for which he
was being "taken in" was a trifling one. His parents came to Chicago
twenty years ago from a little farm in Ohio, the best type of
Americans, whom we boast to be the backbone of our cities. The mother,
who has aged and sickened since the trial, can only say that "Davie
was never a bad boy until about five years ago when he began to go
with this gang who are always looking out for fun."

Then there are those piteous cases due to a perfervid imagination
which fails to find material suited to its demands. I can recall
misadventures of children living within a few blocks of Hull-House
which may well fill with chagrin those of us who are trying to
administer to their deeper needs. I remember a Greek boy of fifteen
who was arrested for attempting to hang a young Turk, stirred by some
vague notion of carrying on a traditional warfare, and of adding
another page to the heroic annals of Greek history. When sifted, the
incident amounted to little more than a graphic threat and the lad was
dismissed by the court, covered with confusion and remorse that he had
brought disgrace upon the name of Greece when he had hoped to add to
its glory.

I remember with a lump in my throat the Bohemian boy of thirteen who
committed suicide because he could not "make good" in school, and
wished to show that he too had "the stuff" in him, as stated in the
piteous little letter left behind. This same love of excitement, the
desire to jump out of the humdrum experience of life, also induces
boys to experiment with drinks and drugs to a surprising extent. For
several years the residents of Hull-House struggled with the
difficulty of prohibiting the sale of cocaine to minors under a
totally inadequate code of legislation, which has at last happily been
changed to one more effective and enforcible. The long effort brought
us into contact with dozens of boys who had become victims of the
cocaine habit. The first group of these boys was discovered in the
house of "Army George." This one-armed man sold cocaine on the streets
and also in the levee district by a system of signals so that the word
cocaine need never be mentioned, and the style and size of the package
was changed so often that even a vigilant police found it hard to
locate it. What could be more exciting to a lad than a traffic in a
contraband article, carried on in this mysterious fashion? I recall
our experience with a gang of boys living on a neighboring street.
There were eight of them altogether, the eldest seventeen years of
age, the youngest thirteen, and they practically lived the life of
vagrants. What answered to their club house was a corner lot on
Harrison and Desplaines Streets, strewn with old boilers, in which
they slept by night and many times by day. The gang was brought to the
attention of Hull-House during the summer of 1904 by a distracted
mother, who suspected that they were all addicted to some drug. She
was terribly frightened over the state of her youngest boy of
thirteen, who was hideously emaciated and his mind reduced almost to
vacancy. I remember the poor woman as she sat in the reception room at
Hull-House, holding the unconscious boy in her arms, rocking herself
back and forth in her fright and despair, saying: "I have seen them go
with the drink, and eat the hideous opium, but I never knew anything
like this."

An investigation showed that cocaine had first been offered to these
boys on the street by a colored man, an agent of a drug store, who
had given them samples and urged them to try it. In three or four
months they had become hopelessly addicted to its use, and at the end
of six months, when they were brought to Hull-House, they were all in
a critical condition. At that time not one of them was either going to
school or working. They stole from their parents, "swiped junk,"
pawned their clothes and shoes,--did any desperate thing to "get the
dope," as they called it.

Of course they continually required more, and had spent as much as
eight dollars a night for cocaine, which they used to "share and share
alike." It sounds like a large amount, but it really meant only four
doses each during the night, as at that time they were taking
twenty-five cents' worth at once if they could possibly secure it. The
boys would tell nothing for three or four days after they were
discovered, in spite of the united efforts of their families, the
police, and the residents of Hull-House. But finally the superior boy
of the gang, the manliest and the least debauched, told his tale, and
the others followed in quick succession. They were willing to go
somewhere to be helped, and were even eager if they could go together,
and finally seven of them were sent to the Presbyterian Hospital for
four weeks' treatment and afterwards all went to the country together
for six weeks more. The emaciated child gained twenty pounds during
his sojourn in the hospital, the head of which testified that at least
three of the boys could have stood but little more of the irregular
living and doping. At the present moment they are all, save one, doing
well, although they were rescued so late that they seemed to have but
little chance. One is still struggling with the appetite on an Iowa
farm and dares not trust himself in the city because he knows too well
how cocaine may be procured in spite of better legislation. It is
doubtful whether these boys could ever have been pulled through unless
they had been allowed to keep together through the hospital and
convalescing period,--unless we had been able to utilize the gang
spirit and to turn its collective force towards overcoming the desire
for the drug.

The desire to dream and see visions also plays an important part with
the boys who habitually use cocaine. I recall a small hut used by boys
for this purpose. They washed dishes in a neighboring restaurant and
as soon as they had earned a few cents they invested in cocaine which
they kept pinned underneath their suspenders. When they had
accumulated enough for a real debauch they went to this hut and for
several days were dead to the outside world. One boy told me that in
his dreams he saw large rooms paved with gold and silver money, the
walls papered with greenbacks, and that he took away in buckets all
that he could carry.

This desire for adventure also seizes girls. A group of girls ranging
in age from twelve to seventeen was discovered in Chicago last June,
two of whom were being trained by older women to open tills in small
shops, to pick pockets, to remove handkerchiefs, furs and purses and
to lift merchandise from the counters of department stores. All the
articles stolen were at once taken to their teachers and the girls
themselves received no remuneration, except occasional sprees to the
theaters or other places of amusement. The girls gave no coherent
reason for their actions beyond the statement that they liked the
excitement and the fun of it. Doubtless to the thrill of danger was
added the pleasure and interest of being daily in the shops and the
glitter of "down town." The boys are more indifferent to this downtown
life, and are apt to carry on their adventures on the docks, the
railroad tracks or best of all upon the unoccupied prairie.

This inveterate demand of youth that life shall afford a large element
of excitement is in a measure well founded. We know of course that it
is necessary to accept excitement as an inevitable part of recreation,
that the first step in recreation is "that excitement which stirs the
worn or sleeping centers of a man's body and mind." It is only when it
is followed by nothing else that it defeats its own end, that it uses
up strength and does not create it. In the actual experience of these
boys the excitement has demoralized them and led them into
law-breaking. When, however, they seek legitimate pleasure, and say
with great pride that they are "ready to pay for it," what they find
is legal but scarcely more wholesome,--it is still merely excitement.
"Looping the loop" amid shrieks of simulated terror or dancing in
disorderly saloon halls, are perhaps the natural reactions to a day
spent in noisy factories and in trolley cars whirling through the
distracting streets, but the city which permits them to be the acme of
pleasure and recreation to its young people, commits a grievous

May we not assume that this love for excitement, this desire for
adventure, is basic, and will be evinced by each generation of city
boys as a challenge to their elders? And yet those of us who live in
Chicago are obliged to confess that last year there were arrested and
brought into court fifteen thousand young people under the age of
twenty, who had failed to keep even the common law of the land. Most
of these young people had broken the law in their blundering efforts
to find adventure and in response to the old impulse for
self-expression. It is said indeed that practically the whole
machinery of the grand jury and of the criminal courts is maintained
and operated for the benefit of youths between the ages of thirteen
and twenty-five. Men up to ninety years of age, it is true, commit
crimes, but they are not characterized by the recklessness, the
bravado and the horror which have stained our records in Chicago. An
adult with the most sordid experience of life and the most rudimentary
notion of prudence, could not possibly have committed them. Only a
utilization of that sudden burst of energy belonging partly to the
future could have achieved them, only a capture of the imagination and
of the deepest emotions of youth could have prevented them!

Possibly these fifteen thousand youths were brought to grief because
the adult population assumed that the young would be able to grasp
only that which is presented in the form of sensation; as if they
believed that youth could thus early become absorbed in a hand to
mouth existence, and so entangled in materialism that there would be
no reaction against it. It is as though we were deaf to the appeal of
these young creatures, claiming their share of the joy of life,
flinging out into the dingy city their desires and aspirations after
unknown realities, their unutterable longings for companionship and
pleasure. Their very demand for excitement is a protest against the
dullness of life, to which we ourselves instinctively respond.



To the preoccupied adult who is prone to use the city street as a mere
passageway from one hurried duty to another, nothing is more touching
than his encounter with a group of children and young people who are
emerging from a theater with the magic of the play still thick upon
them. They look up and down the familiar street scarcely recognizing
it and quite unable to determine the direction of home. From a tangle
of "make believe" they gravely scrutinize the real world which they
are so reluctant to reënter, reminding one of the absorbed gaze of a
child who is groping his way back from fairy-land whither the story
has completely transported him.

"Going to the show" for thousands of young people in every industrial
city is the only possible road to the realms of mystery and romance;
the theater is the only place where they can satisfy that craving for
a conception of life higher than that which the actual world offers
them. In a very real sense the drama and the drama alone performs for
them the office of art as is clearly revealed in their blundering
demand stated in many forms for "a play unlike life." The theater
becomes to them a "veritable house of dreams" infinitely more real
than the noisy streets and the crowded factories.

This first simple demand upon the theater for romance is closely
allied to one more complex which might be described as a search for
solace and distraction in those moments of first awakening from the
glamour of a youth's interpretation of life to the sterner realities
which are thrust upon his consciousness. These perceptions which
inevitably "close around" and imprison the spirit of youth are perhaps
never so grim as in the case of the wage-earning child. We can all
recall our own moments of revolt against life's actualities, our
reluctance to admit that all life was to be as unheroic and uneventful
as that which we saw about us, it was too unbearable that "this was
all there was" and we tried every possible avenue of escape. As we
made an effort to believe, in spite of what we saw, that life was
noble and harmonious, as we stubbornly clung to poesy in contradiction
to the testimony of our senses, so we see thousands of young people
thronging the theaters bent in their turn upon the same quest. The
drama provides a transition between the romantic conceptions which
they vainly struggle to keep intact and life's cruelties and
trivialities which they refuse to admit. A child whose imagination has
been cultivated is able to do this for himself through reading and
reverie, but for the overworked city youth of meager education,
perhaps nothing but the theater is able to perform this important

The theater also has a strange power to forecast life for the youth.
Each boy comes from our ancestral past not "in entire forgetfulness,"
and quite as he unconsciously uses ancient war-cries in his street
play, so he longs to reproduce and to see set before him the valors
and vengeances of a society embodying a much more primitive state of
morality than that in which he finds himself. Mr. Patten has pointed
out that the elemental action which the stage presents, the old
emotions of love and jealousy, of revenge and daring take the thoughts
of the spectator back into deep and well worn channels in which his
mind runs with a sense of rest afforded by nothing else. The cheap
drama brings cause and effect, will power and action, once more into
relation and gives a man the thrilling conviction that he may yet be
master of his fate. The youth of course, quite unconscious of this
psychology, views the deeds of the hero simply as a forecast of his
own future and it is this fascinating view of his own career which
draws the boy to "shows" of all sorts. They can scarcely be too
improbable for him, portraying, as they do, his belief in his own
prowess. A series of slides which has lately been very popular in the
five-cent theaters of Chicago, portrayed five masked men breaking into
a humble dwelling, killing the father of the family and carrying away
the family treasure. The golden-haired son of the house, aged seven,
vows eternal vengeance on the spot, and follows one villain after
another to his doom. The execution of each is shown in lurid detail,
and the last slide of the series depicts the hero, aged ten, kneeling
upon his father's grave counting on the fingers of one hand the number
of men that he has killed, and thanking God that he has been permitted
to be an instrument of vengeance.

In another series of slides, a poor woman is wearily bending over some
sewing, a baby is crying in the cradle, and two little boys of nine
and ten are asking for food. In despair the mother sends them out into
the street to beg, but instead they steal a revolver from a pawn shop
and with it kill a Chinese laundry-man, robbing him of $200. They rush
home with the treasure which is found by the mother in the baby's
cradle, whereupon she and her sons fall upon their knees and send up a
prayer of thankfulness for this timely and heaven-sent assistance.

Is it not astounding that a city allows thousands of its youth to fill
their impressionable minds with these absurdities which certainly will
become the foundation for their working moral codes and the data from
which they will judge the proprieties of life?

It is as if a child, starved at home, should be forced to go out and
search for food, selecting, quite naturally, not that which is
nourishing but that which is exciting and appealing to his outward
sense, often in his ignorance and foolishness blundering into
substances which are filthy and poisonous.

Out of my twenty years' experience at Hull-House I can recall all
sorts of pilferings, petty larcenies, and even burglaries, due to that
never ceasing effort on the part of boys to procure theater tickets. I
can also recall indirect efforts towards the same end which are most
pitiful. I remember the remorse of a young girl of fifteen who was
brought into the Juvenile Court after a night spent weeping in the
cellar of her home because she had stolen a mass of artificial flowers
with which to trim a hat. She stated that she had taken the flowers
because she was afraid of losing the attention of a young man whom she
had heard say that "a girl has to be dressy if she expects to be
seen." This young man was the only one who had ever taken her to the
theater and if he failed her, she was sure that she would never go
again, and she sobbed out incoherently that she "couldn't live at all
without it." Apparently the blankness and grayness of life itself had
been broken for her only by the portrayal of a different world.

One boy whom I had known from babyhood began to take money from his
mother from the time he was seven years old, and after he was ten she
regularly gave him money for the play Saturday evening. However, the
Saturday performance, "starting him off like," he always went twice
again on Sunday, procuring the money in all sorts of illicit ways.
Practically all of his earnings after he was fourteen were spent in
this way to satisfy the insatiable desire to know of the great
adventures of the wide world which the more fortunate boy takes out in
reading Homer and Stevenson.

In talking with his mother, I was reminded of my experience one Sunday
afternoon in Russia when the employees of a large factory were seated
in an open-air theater, watching with breathless interest the
presentation of folk stories. I was told that troupes of actors went
from one manufacturing establishment to another presenting the simple
elements of history and literature to the illiterate employees. This
tendency to slake the thirst for adventure by viewing the drama is, of
course, but a blind and primitive effort in the direction of culture,
for "he who makes himself its vessel and bearer thereby acquires a
freedom from the blindness and soul poverty of daily existence."

It is partly in response to this need that more sophisticated young
people often go to the theater, hoping to find a clue to life's
perplexities. Many times the bewildered hero reminds one of Emerson's
description of Margaret Fuller, "I don't know where I am going, follow
me"; nevertheless, the stage is dealing with the moral themes in which
the public is most interested.

And while many young people go to the theater if only to see
represented, and to hear discussed, the themes which seem to them so
tragically important, there is no doubt that what they hear there,
flimsy and poor as it often is, easily becomes their actual moral
guide. In moments of moral crisis they turn to the sayings of the
hero who found himself in a similar plight. The sayings may not be
profound, but at least they are applicable to conduct. In the last few
years scores of plays have been put upon the stage whose titles might
be easily translated into proper headings for sociological lectures or
sermons, without including the plays of Ibsen, Shaw and Hauptmann,
which deal so directly with moral issues that the moralists themselves
wince under their teachings and declare them brutal. But it is this
very brutality which the over-refined and complicated city dwellers
often crave. Moral teaching has become so intricate, creeds so
metaphysical, that in a state of absolute reaction they demand
definite instruction for daily living. Their whole-hearted acceptance
of the teaching corroborates the statement recently made by an English
playwright that "The theater is literally making the minds of our
urban populations to-day. It is a huge factory of sentiment, of
character, of points of honor, of conceptions of conduct, of
everything that finally determines the destiny of a nation. The
theater is not only a place of amusement, it is a place of culture, a
place where people learn how to think, act, and feel." Seldom,
however, do we associate the theater with our plans for civic
righteousness, although it has become so important a factor in city

One Sunday evening last winter an investigation was made of four
hundred and sixty six theaters in the city of Chicago, and it was
discovered that in the majority of them the leading theme was revenge;
the lover following his rival; the outraged husband seeking his wife's
paramour; or the wiping out by death of a blot on a hitherto unstained
honor. It was estimated that one sixth of the entire population of the
city had attended the theaters on that day. At that same moment the
churches throughout the city were preaching the gospel of good will.
Is not this a striking commentary upon the contradictory influences to
which the city youth is constantly subjected?

This discrepancy between the church and the stage is at times
apparently recognized by the five-cent theater itself, and a
blundering attempt is made to suffuse the songs and moving pictures
with piety. Nothing could more absurdly demonstrate this attempt than
a song, illustrated by pictures, describing the adventures of a young
man who follows a pretty girl through street after street in the hope
of "snatching a kiss from her ruby lips." The young man is overjoyed
when a sudden wind storm drives the girl to shelter under an archway,
and he is about to succeed in his attempt when the good Lord, "ever
watchful over innocence," makes the same wind "blow a cloud of dust
into the eyes of the rubberneck," and "his foul purpose is foiled."
This attempt at piety is also shown in a series of films depicting
Bible stories and the Passion Play at Oberammergau, forecasting the
time when the moving film will be viewed as a mere mechanical device
for the use of the church, the school and the library, as well as for
the theater.

At present, however, most improbable tales hold the attention of the
youth of the city night after night, and feed his starved imagination
as nothing else succeeds in doing. In addition to these fascinations,
the five-cent theater is also fast becoming the general social center
and club house in many crowded neighborhoods. It is easy of access
from the street the entire family of parents and children can attend
for a comparatively small sum of money and the performance lasts for
at least an hour; and, in some of the humbler theaters, the spectators
are not disturbed for a second hour.

The room which contains the mimic stage is small and cozy, and less
formal than the regular theater, and there is much more gossip and
social life as if the foyer and pit were mingled. The very darkness of
the room, necessary for an exhibition of the films, is an added
attraction to many young people, for whom the space is filled with the
glamour of love making.

Hundreds of young people attend these five-cent theaters every evening
in the week, including Sunday, and what is seen and heard there
becomes the sole topic of conversation, forming the ground pattern of
their social life. That mutual understanding which in another social
circle is provided by books, travel and all the arts, is here
compressed into the topics suggested by the play.

The young people attend the five-cent theaters in groups, with
something of the "gang" instinct, boasting of the films and stunts in
"our theater." They find a certain advantage in attending one theater
regularly, for the _habitués_ are often invited to come upon the stage
on "amateur nights," which occur at least once a week in all the
theaters. This is, of course, a most exciting experience. If the
"stunt" does not meet with the approval of the audience, the performer
is greeted with jeers and a long hook pulls him off the stage; if, on
the other hand, he succeeds in pleasing the audience, he may be paid
for his performance and later register with a booking agency, the
address of which is supplied by the obliging manager, and thus he
fancies that a lucrative and exciting career is opening before him.
Almost every night at six o'clock a long line of children may be seen
waiting at the entrance of these booking agencies, of which there are
fifteen that are well known in Chicago.

Thus, the only art which is constantly placed before the eyes of "the
temperamental youth" is a debased form of dramatic art, and a vulgar
type of music, for the success of a song in these theaters depends not
so much upon its musical rendition as upon the vulgarity of its
appeal. In a song which held the stage of a cheap theater in Chicago
for weeks, the young singer was helped out by a bit of mirror from
which she threw a flash of light into the faces of successive boys
whom she selected from the audience as she sang the refrain, "You are
my Affinity." Many popular songs relate the vulgar experiences of a
city man wandering from amusement park to bathing beach in search of
flirtations. It may be that these "stunts" and recitals of city
adventure contain the nucleus of coming poesy and romance, as the
songs and recitals of the early minstrels sprang directly from the
life of the people, but all the more does the effort need help and
direction, both in the development of its technique and the material
of its themes.

The few attempts which have been made in this direction are
astonishingly rewarding to those who regard the power of
self-expression as one of the most precious boons of education. The
Children's Theater in New York is the most successful example, but
every settlement in which dramatics have been systematically fostered
can also testify to a surprisingly quick response to this form of art
on the part of young people. The Hull-House Theater is constantly
besieged by children clamoring to "take part" in the plays of
Schiller, Shakespeare, and Molière, although they know it means weeks
of rehearsal and the complete memorizing of "stiff" lines. The
audiences sit enthralled by the final rendition and other children
whose tastes have supposedly been debased by constant vaudeville, are
pathetically eager to come again and again. Even when still more is
required from the young actors, research into the special historic
period, copying costumes from old plates, hours of labor that the "th"
may be restored to its proper place in English speech, their
enthusiasm is unquenched. But quite aside from its educational
possibilities one never ceases to marvel at the power of even a mimic
stage to afford to the young a magic space in which life may be lived
in efflorescence, where manners may be courtly and elaborate without
exciting ridicule, where the sequence of events is impressive and
comprehensible. Order and beauty of life is what the adolescent youth
craves above all else as the younger child indefatigably demands his
story. "Is this where the most beautiful princess in the world lives?"
asks a little girl peering into the door of the Hull-House Theater, or
"Does Alice in Wonderland always stay here?" It is much easier for her
to put her feeling into words than it is for the youth who has
enchantingly rendered the gentle poetry of Ben Jonson's "Sad
Shepherd," or for him who has walked the boards as Southey's Wat
Tyler. His association, however, is quite as clinging and magical as
is the child's although he can only say, "Gee, I wish I could always
feel the way I did that night. Something would be doing then." Nothing
of the artist's pleasure, nor of the revelation of that larger world
which surrounds and completes our own, is lost to him because a
careful technique has been exacted,--on the contrary this has only
dignified and enhanced it. It would also be easy to illustrate youth's
eagerness for artistic expression from the recitals given by the
pupils of the New York Music School Settlement, or by those of the
Hull-House Music School. These attempts also combine social life with
the training of the artistic sense and in this approximate the
fascinations of the five-cent theater.

This spring a group of young girls accustomed to the life of a
five-cent theater, reluctantly refused an invitation to go to the
country for a day's outing because the return on a late train would
compel them to miss one evening's performance. They found it
impossible to tear themselves away not only from the excitements of
the theater itself but from the gaiety of the crowd of young men and
girls invariably gathered outside discussing the sensational posters.

A steady English shopkeeper lately complained that unless he provided
his four, daughters with the money for the five-cent theaters every
evening they would steal it from his till, and he feared that they
might be driven to procure it in even more illicit ways. Because his
entire family life had been thus disrupted he gloomily asserted that
"this cheap show had ruined his 'ome and was the curse of America."
This father was able to formulate the anxiety of many immigrant
parents who are absolutely bewildered by the keen absorption of their
children in the cheap theater. This anxiety is not, indeed, without
foundation. An eminent alienist of Chicago states that he has had a
number of patients among neurotic children whose emotional natures
have been so over-wrought by the crude appeal to which they had been
so constantly subjected in the theaters, that they have become victims
of hallucination and mental disorder. The statement of this physician
may be the first note of alarm which will awaken the city to its duty
in regard to the theater, so that it shall at least be made safe and
sane for the city child whose senses are already so abnormally

This testimony of a physician that the conditions are actually
pathological, may at last induce us to bestir ourselves in regard to
procuring a more wholesome form of public recreation. Many efforts in
social amelioration have been undertaken only after such exposures; in
the meantime, while the occasional child is driven distraught, a
hundred children permanently injure their eyes watching the moving
films, and hundreds more seriously model their conduct upon the
standards set before them on this mimic stage.

Three boys, aged nine, eleven and thirteen years, who had recently
seen depicted the adventures of frontier life including the holding up
of a stage coach and the lassoing of the driver, spent weeks planning
to lasso, murder, and rob a neighborhood milkman, who started on his
route at four o'clock in the morning. They made their headquarters in
a barn and saved enough money to buy a revolver, adopting as their
watchword the phrase "Dead Men Tell no Tales." One spring morning the
conspirators, with their faces covered with black cloth, lay "in
ambush" for the milkman. Fortunately for him, as the lariat was thrown
the horse shied, and, although the shot was appropriately fired, the
milkman's life was saved. Such a direct influence of the theater is by
no means rare, even among older boys. Thirteen young lads were brought
into the Municipal Court in Chicago during the first week that
"Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman" was upon the stage, each one with an
outfit of burglar's tools in his possession, and each one shamefacedly
admitting that the gentlemanly burglar in the play had suggested to
him a career of similar adventure.

In so far as the illusions of the theater succeed in giving youth the
rest and recreation which comes from following a more primitive code
of morality, it has a close relation to the function performed by
public games. It is, of course, less valuable because the sense of
participation is largely confined to the emotions and the imagination,
and does not involve the entire nature.

We might illustrate by the "Wild West Show" in which the onlooking boy
imagines himself an active participant. The scouts, the Indians, the
bucking ponies, are his real intimate companions and occupy his entire
mind. In contrast with this we have the omnipresent game of tag which
is, doubtless, also founded upon the chase. It gives the boy exercise
and momentary echoes of the old excitement, but it is barren of
suggestion and quickly degenerates into horse-play.

Well considered public games easily carried out in a park or athletic
field, might both fill the mind with the imaginative material
constantly supplied by the theater, and also afford the activity which
the cramped muscles of the town dweller so sorely need. Even the
unquestioned ability which the theater possesses to bring men together
into a common mood and to afford them a mutual topic of conversation,
is better accomplished with the one national game which we already
possess, and might be infinitely extended through the organization of
other public games.

The theater even now by no means competes with the baseball league
games which are attended by thousands of men and boys who, during the
entire summer, discuss the respective standing of each nine and the
relative merits of every player. During the noon hour all the
employees of a city factory gather in the nearest vacant lot to cheer
their own home team in its practice for the next game with the nine of
a neighboring manufacturing establishment and on a Saturday afternoon
the entire male population of the city betakes itself to the baseball
field; the ordinary means of transportation are supplemented by gay
stage-coaches and huge automobiles, noisy with blowing horns and
decked with gay pennants. The enormous crowd of cheering men and boys
are talkative, good-natured, full of the holiday spirit, and
absolutely released from the grind of life. They are lifted out of
their individual affairs and so fused together that a man cannot tell
whether it is his own shout or another's that fills his ears; whether
it is his own coat or another's that he is wildly waving to celebrate
a victory. He does not call the stranger who sits next to him his
"brother" but he unconsciously embraces him in an overwhelming
outburst of kindly feeling when the favorite player makes a home run.
Does not this contain a suggestion of the undoubted power of public
recreation to bring together all classes of a community in the modern
city unhappily so full of devices for keeping men apart?

Already some American cities are making a beginning toward more
adequate public recreation. Boston has its municipal gymnasiums,
cricket fields, and golf grounds. Chicago has seventeen parks with
playing fields, gymnasiums and baths, which at present enroll
thousands of young people. These same parks are provided with
beautiful halls which are used for many purposes, rent free, and are
given over to any group of young people who wish to conduct dancing
parties subject to city supervision and chaperonage. Many social clubs
have deserted neighboring saloon halls for these municipal drawing
rooms beautifully decorated with growing plants supplied by the park
greenhouses, and flooded with electric lights supplied by the park
power house. In the saloon halls the young people were obliged to
"pass money freely over the bar," and in order to make the most of the
occasion they usually stayed until morning. At such times the economic
necessity itself would override the counsels of the more temperate,
and the thrifty door keeper would not insist upon invitations but
would take in any one who had the "price of a ticket." The free rent
in the park hall, the good food in the park restaurant, supplied at
cost, have made three parties closing at eleven o'clock no more
expensive than one party breaking up at daylight, too often in

Is not this an argument that the drinking, the late hours, the lack of
decorum, are directly traceable to the commercial enterprise which
ministers to pleasure in order to drag it into excess because excess
is more profitable? To thus commercialize pleasure is as monstrous as
it is to commercialize art. It is intolerable that the city does not
take over this function of making provision for pleasure, as wise
communities in Sweden and South Carolina have taken the sale of
alcohol out of the hands of enterprising publicans.

We are only beginning to understand what might be done through the
festival, the street procession, the band of marching musicians,
orchestral music in public squares or parks, with the magic power they
all possess to formulate the sense of companionship and solidarity.
The experiments which are being made in public schools to celebrate
the national holidays, the changing seasons, the birthdays of heroes,
the planting of trees, are slowly developing little ceremonials which
may in time work out into pageants of genuine beauty and significance.
No other nation has so unparalleled an opportunity to do this through
its schools as we have, for no other nation has so wide-spreading a
school system, while the enthusiasm of children and their natural
ability to express their emotions through symbols, gives the securest
possible foundation to this growing effort.

The city schools of New York have effected the organization of high
school girls into groups for folk dancing. These old forms of dancing
which have been worked out in many lands and through long experiences,
safeguard unwary and dangerous expression and yet afford a vehicle
through which the gaiety of youth may flow. Their forms are indeed
those which lie at the basis of all good breeding, forms which at once
express and restrain, urge forward and set limits.

One may also see another center of growth for public recreation and
the beginning of a pageantry for the people in the many small parks
and athletic fields which almost every American city is hastening to
provide for its young. These small parks have innumerable athletic
teams, each with its distinctive uniform, with track meets and match
games arranged with the teams from other parks and from the public
schools; choruses of trade unionists or of patriotic societies fill
the park halls with eager listeners. Labor Day processions are yearly
becoming more carefully planned and more picturesque in character, as
the desire to make an overwhelming impression with mere size gives way
to a growing ambition to set forth the significance of the craft and
the skill of the workman. At moments they almost rival the dignified
showing of the processions of the German Turn Vereins which are also
often seen in our city streets.

The many foreign colonies which are found in all American cities
afford an enormous reserve of material for public recreation and
street festival. They not only celebrate the feasts and holidays of
the fatherland, but have each their own public expression for their
mutual benefit societies and for the observance of American
anniversaries. From the gay celebration of the Scandinavians when war
was averted and two neighboring nations were united, to the equally
gay celebration of the centenary of Garibaldi's birth; from the
Chinese dragon cleverly trailing its way through the streets, to the
Greek banners flung out in honor of immortal heroes, there is an
infinite variety of suggestions and possibilities for public
recreation and for the corporate expression of stirring emotions.
After all, what is the function of art but to preserve in permanent
and beautiful form those emotions and solaces which cheer life and
make it kindlier, more heroic and easier to comprehend; which lift the
mind of the worker from the harshness and loneliness of his task, and,
by connecting him with what has gone before, free him from a sense of
isolation and hardship?

Were American cities really eager for municipal art, they would
cherish as genuine beginnings the tarentella danced so interminably at
Italian weddings; the primitive Greek pipe played throughout the long
summer nights; the Bohemian theaters crowded with eager Slavophiles;
the Hungarian musicians strolling from street to street; the fervid
oratory of the young Russian preaching social righteousness in the
open square.

Many Chicago citizens who attended the first annual meeting of the
National Playground Association of America, will never forget the long
summer day in the large playing field filled during the morning with
hundreds of little children romping through the kindergarten games, in
the afternoon with the young men and girls contending in athletic
sports; and the evening light made gay by the bright colored garments
of Italians, Lithuanians, Norwegians, and a dozen other nationalities,
reproducing their old dances and festivals for the pleasure of the
more stolid Americans. Was this a forecast of what we may yet see
accomplished through a dozen agencies promoting public recreation
which are springing up in every city of America, as they already are
found in the large towns of Scotland and England?

Let us cherish these experiments as the most precious beginnings of an
attempt to supply the recreational needs of our industrial cities. To
fail to provide for the recreation of youth, is not only to deprive
all of them of their natural form of expression, but is certain to
subject some of them to the overwhelming temptation of illicit and
soul-destroying pleasures. To insist that young people shall forecast
their rose-colored future only in a house of dreams, is to deprive the
real world of that warmth and reassurance which it so sorely needs and
to which it is justly entitled; furthermore, we are left outside with
a sense of dreariness, in company with that shadow which already lurks
only around the corner for most of us--a skepticism of life's value.



As it is possible to establish a connection between the lack of public
recreation and the vicious excitements and trivial amusements which
become their substitutes, so it may be illuminating to trace the
connection between the monotony and dullness of factory work and the
petty immoralities which are often the youth's protest against them.

There are many city neighborhoods in which practically every young
person who has attained the age of fourteen years enters a factory.
When the work itself offers nothing of interest, and when no public
provision is made for recreation, the situation becomes almost
insupportable to the youth whose ancestors have been rough-working and
hard-playing peasants.

In such neighborhoods the joy of youth is well nigh extinguished; and
in that long procession of factory workers, each morning and evening,
the young walk almost as wearily and listlessly as the old. Young
people working in modern factories situated in cities still dominated
by the ideals of Puritanism face a combination which tends almost
irresistably to overwhelm the spirit of youth. When the Puritan
repression of pleasure was in the ascendant in America the people it
dealt with lived on farms and villages where, although youthful
pleasures might be frowned upon and crushed out, the young people
still had a chance to find self-expression in their work. Plowing the
field and spinning the flax could be carried on with a certain
joyousness and vigor which the organization of modern industry too
often precludes. Present industry based upon the inventions of the
nineteenth century has little connection with the old patterns in
which men have worked for generations. The modern factory calls for an
expenditure of nervous energy almost more than it demands muscular
effort, or at least machinery so far performs the work of the massive
muscles, that greater stress is laid upon fine and exact movements
necessarily involving nervous strain. But these movements are exactly
of the type to which the muscles of a growing boy least readily
respond, quite as the admonition to be accurate and faithful is that
which appeals the least to his big primitive emotions. The demands
made upon his eyes are complicated and trivial, the use of his muscles
is fussy and monotonous, the relation between cause and effect is
remote and obscure. Apparently no one is concerned as to what may be
done to aid him in this process and to relieve it of its dullness and
difficulty, to mitigate its strain and harshness.

Perhaps never before have young people been expected to work from
motives so detached from direct emotional incentive. Never has the age
of marriage been so long delayed; never has the work of youth been so
separated from the family life and the public opinion of the
community. Education alone can repair these losses. It alone has the
power of organizing a child's activities with some reference to the
life he will later lead and of giving him a clue as to what to select
and what to eliminate when he comes into contact with contemporary
social and industrial conditions. And until educators take hold of
the situation, the rest of the community is powerless.

In vast regions of the city which are completely dominated by the
factory, it is as if the development of industry had outrun all the
educational and social arrangements.

The revolt of youth against uniformity and the necessity of following
careful directions laid down by some one else, many times results in
such nervous irritability that the youth, in spite of all sorts of
prudential reasons, "throws up his job," if only to get outside the
factory walls into the freer street, just as the narrowness of the
school inclosure induces many a boy to jump the fence.

When the boy is on the street, however, and is "standing around on the
corner" with the gang to which he mysteriously attaches himself, he
finds the difficulties of direct untrammeled action almost as great
there as they were in the factory, but for an entirely different set
of reasons. The necessity so strongly felt in the factory for an
outlet to his sudden and furious bursts of energy, his overmastering
desire to prove that he could do things "without being bossed all the
time," finds little chance for expression, for he discovers that in
whatever really active pursuit he tries to engage, he is promptly
suppressed by the police. After several futile attempts at
self-expression, he returns to his street corner subdued and so far
discouraged that when he has the next impulse to vigorous action he
concludes that it is of no use, and sullenly settles back into
inactivity. He thus learns to persuade himself that it is better to do
nothing, or, as the psychologist would say, "to inhibit his motor

When the same boy, as an adult workman, finds himself confronted with
an unusual or an untoward condition in his work, he will fall back
into this habit of inhibition, of making no effort toward independent
action. When "slack times" come, he will be the workman of least
value, and the first to be dismissed, calmly accepting his position in
the ranks of the unemployed because it will not be so unlike the many
hours of idleness and vacuity to which he was accustomed as a boy. No
help having been extended to him in the moment of his first irritable
revolt against industry, his whole life has been given a twist toward
idleness and futility. He has not had the chance of recovery which the
school system gives a like rebellious boy in a truant school.

The unjustifiable lack of educational supervision during the first
years of factory work makes it quite impossible for the modern
educator to offer any real assistance to young people during that
trying transitional period between school and industry. The young
people themselves who fail to conform can do little but rebel against
the entire situation, and the expressions of revolt roughly divide
themselves into three classes. The first, resulting in idleness, may
be illustrated from many a sad story of a boy or a girl who has spent
in the first spurt of premature and uninteresting work, all the energy
which should have carried them through years of steady endeavor.

I recall a boy who had worked steadily for two years as a helper in a
smelting establishment, and had conscientiously brought home all his
wages, one night suddenly announcing to his family that he "was too
tired and too hot to go on." As no amount of persuasion could make
him alter his decision, the family finally threatened to bring him
into the Juvenile Court on a charge of incorrigibility, whereupon the
boy disappeared and such efforts as the family have been able to make
in the two years since, have failed to find him. They are convinced
that "he is trying a spell of tramping" and wish that they "had let
him have a vacation the first summer when he wanted it so bad." The
boy may find in the rough outdoor life the healing which a wise
physician would recommend for nervous exhaustion, although the tramp
experiment is a perilous one.

This revolt against factory monotony is sometimes closely allied to
that "moral fatigue" which results from assuming responsibility
prematurely. I recall the experience of a Scotch girl of eighteen who,
with her older sister, worked in a candy factory, their combined
earnings supporting a paralytic father. The older girl met with an
accident involving the loss of both eyes, and the financial support of
the whole family devolved upon the younger girl, who worked hard and
conscientiously for three years, supplementing her insufficient
factory wages by evening work at glove making. In the midst of this
devotion and monotonous existence she made the acquaintance of a girl
who was a chorus singer in a cheap theater and the contrast between
her monotonous drudgery and the glitter of the stage broke down her
allegiance to her helpless family. She left the city, absolutely
abandoning the kindred to whom she had been so long devoted, and
announced that if they all starved she would "never go into a factory
again." Every effort failed to find her after the concert troupe left
Milwaukee and although the pious Scotch father felt that "she had been
ensnared by the Devil," and had brought his "gray hairs in sorrow to
the grave," I could not quite dismiss the case with this simple
explanation, but was haunted by all sorts of social implications.

The second line of revolt manifests itself in an attempt to make up
for the monotony of the work by a constant change from one occupation
to another. This is an almost universal experience among thousands of
young people in their first impact with the industrial world.

The startling results of the investigation undertaken in Massachusetts
by the Douglas Commission showed how casual and demoralizing the first
few years of factory life become to thousands of unprepared boys and
girls; in their first restlessness and maladjustment they change from
one factory to another, working only for a few weeks or months in
each, and they exhibit no interest in any of them save for the amount
of wages paid. At the end of their second year of employment many of
them are less capable than when they left school and are actually
receiving less wages. The report of the commission made clear that
while the two years between fourteen and sixteen were most valuable
for educational purposes, they were almost useless for industrial
purposes, that no trade would receive as an apprentice a boy under
sixteen, that no industry requiring skill and workmanship could
utilize these untrained children and that they not only demoralized
themselves, but in a sense industry itself.

An investigation of one thousand tenement children in New York who
had taken out their "working papers" at the age of fourteen, reported
that during the first working year a third of them had averaged six
places each. These reports but confirm the experience of those of us
who live in an industrial neighborhood and who continually see these
restless young workers, in fact there are moments when this constant
changing seems to be all that saves them from the fate of those other
children who hold on to a monotonous task so long that they finally
incapacitate themselves for all work. It often seems to me an
expression of the instinct of self-preservation, as in the case of a
young Swedish boy who during a period of two years abandoned one piece
of factory work after another, saying "he could not stand it," until
in the chagrin following the loss of his ninth place he announced his
intention of leaving the city and allowing his mother and little
sisters to shift for themselves. At this critical juncture a place was
found for him as lineman in a telephone company; climbing telephone
poles and handling wires apparently supplied him with the elements of
outdoor activity and danger which were necessary to hold his
interest, and he became the steady support of his family.

But while we know the discouraging effect of idleness upon the boy who
has thrown up his job and refuses to work again, and we also know the
restlessness and lack of discipline resulting from the constant change
from one factory to another, there is still a third manifestation of
maladjustment of which one's memory and the Juvenile Court records
unfortunately furnish many examples. The spirit of revolt in these
cases has led to distinct disaster. Two stories will perhaps be
sufficient in illustration although they might be multiplied
indefinitely from my own experience.

A Russian girl who went to work at an early age in a factory, pasting
labels on mucilage bottles, was obliged to surrender all her wages to
her father who, in return, gave her only the barest necessities of
life. In a fit of revolt against the monotony of her work, and "that
nasty sticky stuff," she stole from her father $300 which he had
hidden away under the floor of his kitchen, and with this money she
ran away to a neighboring city for a spree, having first bought
herself the most gorgeous clothing a local department store could
supply. Of course, this preposterous beginning could have but one
ending and the child was sent to the reform school to expiate not only
her own sins but the sins of those who had failed to rescue her from a
life of grinding monotony which her spirit could not brook.

"I know the judge thinks I am a bad girl," sobbed a poor little
prisoner, put under bonds for threatening to kill her lover, "but I
have only been bad for one week and before that I was good for six
years. I worked every day in Blank's factory and took home all my
wages to keep the kids in school. I met this fellow in a dance hall. I
just had to go to dances sometimes after pushing down the lever of my
machine with my right foot and using both my arms feeding it for ten
hours a day--nobody knows how I felt some nights. I agreed to go away
with this man for a week but when I was ready to go home he tried to
drive me out on the street to earn money for him and, of course, I
threatened to kill him--any decent girl would," she concluded, as
unconscious of the irony of the reflection as she was of the
connection between her lurid week and her monotonous years.

Knowing as educators do that thousands of the city youth will enter
factory life at an age as early as the state law will permit;
instructed as the modern teacher is as to youth's requirements for a
normal mental and muscular development, it is hard to understand the
apathy in regard to youth's inevitable experience in modern industry.
Are the educators, like the rest of us, so caught in admiration of the
astonishing achievements of modern industry that they forget the
children themselves?

A Scotch educator who recently visited America considered it very
strange that with a remarkable industrial development all about us,
affording such amazing educational opportunities, our schools should
continually cling to a past which did not fit the American
temperament, was not adapted to our needs, and made no vigorous pull
upon our faculties. He concluded that our educators, overwhelmed by
the size and vigor of American industry, were too timid to seize upon
the industrial situation, and to extract its enormous educational
value. He lamented that this lack of courage and initiative failed not
only to fit the child for an intelligent and conscious participation
in industrial life, but that it was reflected in the industrial
development itself; that industry had fallen back into old habits, and
repeated traditional mistakes until American cities exhibited
stupendous extensions of the medievalisms in the traditional Ghetto,
and of the hideousness in the Black Country of Lancashire.

He contended that this condition is the inevitable result of
separating education from contemporary life. Education becomes unreal
and far fetched, while industry becomes ruthless and materialistic. In
spite of the severity of the indictment, one much more severe and well
deserved might have been brought against us. He might have accused us
not only of wasting, but of misusing and of trampling under foot the
first tender instincts and impulses which are the source of all charm
and beauty and art, because we fail to realize that by premature
factory work, for which the youth is unprepared, society perpetually
extinguishes that variety and promise, that bloom of life, which is
the unique possession of the young. He might have told us that our
cities would continue to be traditionally cramped and dreary until we
comprehend that youth alone has the power to bring to reality the
vision of the "Coming City of Mankind, full of life, full of the
spirit of creation."

A few educational experiments are carried on in Cincinnati, in Boston
and in Chicago, in which the leaders of education and industry unite
in a common aim and purpose. A few more are carried on by trade
unionists, who in at least two of the trades are anxious to give to
their apprentices and journeymen the wider culture afforded by the
"capitalistic trade schools" which they suspect of preparing
strike-breakers; still a few other schools have been founded by public
spirited citizens to whom the situation has become unendurable, and
one or two more such experiments are attached to the public school
system itself. All of these schools are still blundering in method and
unsatisfactory in their results, but a certain trade school for
girls, in New York, which is preparing young girls of fourteen for the
sewing trade, already so overcrowded and subdivided that there remains
very little education for the worker, is conquering this difficult
industrial situation by equipping each apprentice with "the informing
mind." If a child goes into a sewing factory with a knowledge of the
work she is doing in relation to the finished product; if she is
informed concerning the material she is manipulating and the processes
to which it is subjected; if she understands the design she is
elaborating in its historic relation to art and decoration, her daily
life is lifted from drudgery to one of self-conscious activity, and
her pleasure and intelligence is registered in her product.

I remember a little colored girl in this New York school who was
drawing for the pattern she was about to embroider, a carefully
elaborated acanthus leaf. Upon my inquiry as to the design, she
replied: "It is what the Egyptians used to put on everything, because
they saw it so much growing in the Nile; and then the Greeks copied
it, and sometimes you can find it now on the buildings downtown." She
added, shyly: "Of course, I like it awfully well because it was first
used by people living in Africa where the colored folks come from."
Such a reasonable interest in work not only reacts upon the worker,
but is, of course, registered in the product itself. Such genuine
pleasure is in pitiful contrast to the usual manifestation of the play
spirit as it is found in the factories, where, at the best, its
expression is illicit and often is attended with great danger.

There are many touching stories by which this might be illustrated.
One of them comes from a large steel mill of a boy of fifteen whose
business it was to throw a lever when a small tank became filled with
molton metal. During the few moments when the tank was filling it was
his foolish custom to catch the reflection of the metal upon a piece
of looking-glass, and to throw the bit of light into the eyes of his
fellow workmen. Although an exasperated foreman had twice dispossessed
him of his mirror, with a third fragment he was one day flicking the
gloom of the shop when the neglected tank overflowed, almost instantly
burning off both his legs. Boys working in the stock yards, during
their moments of wrestling and rough play, often slash each other
painfully with the short knives which they use in their work, but in
spite of this the play impulse is too irrepressible to be denied.

If educators could go upon a voyage of discovery into that army of
boys and girls who enter industry each year, what values might they
not discover; what treasures might they not conserve and develop if
they would direct the play instinct into the art impulse and utilize
that power of variation which industry so sadly needs. No force will
be sufficiently powerful and widespread to redeem industry from its
mechanism and materialism save the freed power in every single

In order to do this, however, we must go back a little over the
educational road to a training of the child's imagination, as well as
to his careful equipment with a technique. A little child makes a very
tottering house of cardboard and calls it a castle. The important
feature there lies in the fact that he has expressed a castle, and it
is not for his teacher to draw undue attention to the fact that the
corners are not well put together, but rather to listen to and to
direct the story which centers about this effort at creative
expression. A little later, however, it is clearly the business of the
teacher to call attention to the quality of the dovetailing in which
the boy at the manual training bench is engaged, for there is no value
in dovetailing a box unless it is accurately done. At one point the
child's imagination is to be emphasized, and at another point his
technique is important--and he will need both in the industrial life
ahead of him.

There is no doubt that there is a third period, when the boy is not
interested in the making of a castle, or a box, or anything else,
unless it appears to him to bear a direct relation to the future;
unless it has something to do with earning a living. At this later
moment he is chiefly anxious to play the part of a man and to take his
place in the world. The fact that a boy at fourteen wants to go out
and earn his living makes that the moment when he should be educated
with reference to that interest, and the records of many high schools
show that if he is not thus educated, he bluntly refuses to be
educated at all. The forces pulling him to "work" are not only the
overmastering desire to earn money and be a man, but, if the family
purse is small and empty, include also his family loyalty and
affection, and over against them, we at present place nothing but a
vague belief on the part of his family and himself that education is a
desirable thing and may eventually help him "on in the world." It is
of course difficult to adapt education to this need; it means that
education must be planned so seriously and definitely for those two
years between fourteen and sixteen that it will be actual trade
training so far as it goes, with attention given to the condition
under which money will be actually paid for industrial skill; but at
the same time, that the implications, the connections, the relations
to the industrial world, will be made clear. A man who makes, year
after year, but one small wheel in a modern watch factory, may, if his
education has properly prepared him, have a fuller life than did the
old watchmaker who made a watch from beginning to end. It takes
thirty-nine people to make a coat in a modern tailoring establishment,
yet those same thirty-nine people might produce a coat in a spirit of
"team work" which would make the entire process as much more
exhilarating than the work of the old solitary tailor, as playing in a
baseball nine gives more pleasure to a boy than that afforded by a
solitary game of hand ball on the side of the barn. But it is quite
impossible to imagine a successful game of baseball in which each
player should be drilled only in his own part, and should know nothing
of the relation of that part to the whole game. In order to make the
watch wheel, or the coat collar interesting, they must be connected
with the entire product--must include fellowship as well as the
pleasures arising from skilled workmanship and a cultivated

When all the young people working in factories shall come to use their
faculties intelligently, and as a matter of course to be interested in
what they do, then our manufactured products may at last meet the
demands of a cultivated nation, because they will be produced by
cultivated workmen. The machine will not be abandoned by any means,
but will be subordinated to the intelligence of the man who
manipulates it, and will be used as a tool. It may come about in time
that an educated public will become inexpressibly bored by
manufactured objects which reflect absolutely nothing of the minds of
the men who made them, that they may come to dislike an object made by
twelve unrelated men, even as we do not care for a picture which has
been painted by a dozen different men, not because we have enunciated
a theory in regard to it, but because such a picture loses all its
significance and has no meaning or message. We need to apply the same
principle but very little further until we shall refuse to be
surrounded by manufactured objects which do not represent some gleam
of intelligence on the part of the producer. Hundreds of people have
already taken that step so far as all decoration and ornament are
concerned, and it would require but one short step more. In the
meantime we are surrounded by stupid articles which give us no
pleasure, and the young people producing them are driven into all
sorts of expedients in order to escape work which has been made
impossible because all human interest has been extracted from it. That
this is not mere theory may be demonstrated by the fact that many
times the young people may be spared the disastrous effects of this
third revolt against the monotony of industry if work can be found for
them in a place where the daily round is less grinding and presents
more variety. Fortunately, in every city there are places outside of
factories where occupation of a more normal type of labor may be
secured, and often a restless boy can be tided over this period if he
is put into one of these occupations. The experience in every boys'
club can furnish illustrations of this.

A factory boy who had been brought into the Juvenile Court many times
because of his persistent habit of borrowing the vehicles of
physicians as they stood in front of houses of patients, always
meaning to "get back before the doctor came out," led a contented and
orderly life after a place had been found for him as a stable boy in
a large livery establishment where his love for horses could be
legitimately gratified.

Still another boy made the readjustment for himself in spite of the
great physical suffering involved. He had lost both legs at the age of
seven, "flipping cars." When he went to work at fourteen with two good
cork legs, which he vainly imagined disguised his disability, his
employer kindly placed him where he might sit throughout the entire
day, and his task was to keep tally on the boxes constantly hoisted
from the warehouse into cars. The boy found this work so dull that he
insisted upon working in the yards, where the cars were being loaded
and switched. He would come home at night utterly exhausted, more from
the extreme nervous tension involved in avoiding accidents than from
the tremendous exertion, and although he would weep bitterly from
sheer fatigue, nothing could induce him to go back to the duller and
safer job. Fortunately he belonged to a less passionate race than the
poor little Italian girl in the Hull-House neighborhood who recently
battered her head against the wall so long and so vigorously that she
had to be taken to a hospital because of her serious injuries. So
nearly as dull "grown-ups" could understand, it had been an hysterical
revolt against factory work by day and "no fun in the evening."

America perhaps more than any other country in the world can
demonstrate what applied science has accomplished for industry; it has
not only made possible the utilization of all sorts of unpromising raw
material, but it has tremendously increased the invention and
elaboration of machinery. The time must come, however, if indeed the
moment has not already arrived, when applied science will have done
all that it can do for the development of machinery. It may be that
machines cannot be speeded up any further without putting unwarranted
strain upon the nervous system of the worker; it may be that further
elaboration will so sacrifice the workman who feeds the machine that
industrial advance will lie not in the direction of improvement in
machinery, but in the recovery and education of the workman. This
refusal to apply "the art of life" to industry continually drives out
of it many promising young people. Some of them, impelled by a
creative impulse which will not be denied, avoid industry altogether
and demand that their ambitious parents give them lessons in "china
painting" and "art work," which clutters the overcrowded parlor of the
more prosperous workingman's home with useless decorated plates, and
handpainted "drapes," whereas the plates upon the table and the rugs
upon the floor used daily by thousands of weary housewives are totally
untouched by the beauty and variety which this ill-directed art
instinct might have given them had it been incorporated into industry.

I could cite many instances of high-spirited young people who suffer a
veritable martyrdom in order to satisfy their artistic impulse.

A young girl of fourteen whose family had for years displayed a
certain artistic aptitude, the mother having been a singer and the
grandmother, with whom the young girl lived, a clever worker in
artificial flowers, had her first experience of wage earning in a box
factory. She endured it only for three months, and then gave up her
increasing wage in exchange for $1.50 a week which she earns by making
sketches of dresses, cloaks and hats for the advertisements of a
large department store.

A young Russian girl of my acquaintance starves on the irregular pay
which she receives for her occasional contributions to the Sunday
newspapers--meanwhile writing her novel--rather than return to the
comparatively prosperous wages of a necktie factory which she regards
with horror. Another girl washes dishes every evening in a cheap
boarding house in order to secure the leisure in which to practise her
singing lessons, rather than to give them up and return to her former
twelve-dollar-a-week job in an electrical factory.

The artistic expression in all these cases is crude, but the young
people are still conscious of that old sacrifice of material interest
which art has ever demanded of those who serve her and which doubtless
brings its own reward. That the sacrifice is in vain makes it all the
more touching and is an indictment of the educator who has failed to
utilize the art instinct in industry.

Something of the same sort takes place among many lads who find little
opportunity in the ordinary factories to utilize the "instinct for
workmanship"; or, among those more prosperous young people who
establish "studios" and "art shops," in which, with a vast expenditure
of energy, they manufacture luxurious articles.

The educational system in Germany is deliberately planned to sift out
and to retain in the service of industry, all such promising young
people. The method is as yet experimental, and open to many
objections, but it is so far successful that "Made in Germany" means
made by a trained artisan and in many cases by a man working with the
freed impulse of the artist.

The London County Council is constantly urging plans which may secure
for the gifted children in the Board Schools support in Technological
institutes. Educators are thus gradually developing the courage and
initiative to conserve for industry the young worker himself so that
his mind, his power of variation, his art instinct, his intelligent
skill, may ultimately be reflected in the industrial product. That
would imply that industry must be seized upon and conquered by those
educators, who now either avoid it altogether by taking refuge in the
caves of classic learning or beg the question by teaching the tool
industry advocated by Ruskin and Morris in their first reaction
against the present industrial system. It would mean that educators
must bring industry into "the kingdom of the mind"; and pervade it
with the human spirit.

The discovery of the labor power of youth was to our age like the
discovery of a new natural resource, although it was merely incidental
to the invention of modern machinery and the consequent subdivision of
labor. In utilizing it thus ruthlessly we are not only in danger of
quenching the divine fire of youth, but we are imperiling industry
itself when we venture to ignore these very sources of beauty, of
variety and of suggestion.



Even as we pass by the joy and beauty of youth on the streets without
dreaming it is there, so we may hurry past the very presence of august
things without recognition. We may easily fail to sense those
spiritual realities, which, in every age, have haunted youth and
called to him without ceasing. Historians tell us that the
extraordinary advances in human progress have been made in those times
when "the ideals of freedom and law, of youth and beauty, of knowledge
and virtue, of humanity and religion, high things, the conflicts
between which have caused most of the disruptions and despondences of
human society, seem for a generation or two to lie in the same

Are we perhaps at least twice in life's journey dimly conscious of the
needlessness of this disruption and of the futility of the
despondency? Do we feel it first when young ourselves we long to
interrogate the "transfigured few" among our elders whom we believe to
be carrying forward affairs of gravest import? Failing to accomplish
this are we, for the second time, dogged by a sense of lost
opportunity, of needless waste and perplexity, when we too, as adults,
see again the dreams of youth in conflict with the efforts of our own
contemporaries? We see idealistic endeavor on the one hand lost in
ugly friction; the heat and burden of the day borne by mature men and
women on the other hand, increased by their consciousness of youth's
misunderstanding and high scorn. It may relieve the mind to break
forth in moments of irritation against "the folly of the coming
generation," but whoso pauses on his plodding way to call even his
youngest and rashest brother a fool, ruins thereby the joy of his
journey,--for youth is so vivid an element in life that unless it is
cherished, all the rest is spoiled. The most praiseworthy journey
grows dull and leaden unless companioned by youth's iridescent dreams.
Not only that, but the mature of each generation run a grave risk of
putting their efforts in a futile direction, in a blind alley as it
were, unless they can keep in touch with the youth of their own day
and know at least the trend in which eager dreams are driving
them--those dreams that fairly buffet our faces as we walk the city

At times every one possessed with a concern for social progress is
discouraged by the formless and unsubdued modern city, as he looks
upon that complicated life which drives men almost without their own
volition, that life of ingenuous enterprises, great ambitions,
political jealousies, where men tend to become mere "slaves of
possessions." Doubtless these striving men are full of weakness and
sensitiveness even when they rend each other, and are but caught in
the coils of circumstance; nevertheless, a serious attempt to ennoble
and enrich the content of city life that it may really fill the ample
space their ruthless wills have provided, means that we must call upon
energies other than theirs. When we count over the resources which are
at work "to make order out of casualty, beauty out of confusion,
justice, kindliness and mercy out of cruelty and inconsiderate
pressure," we find ourselves appealing to the confident spirit of
youth. We know that it is crude and filled with conflicting hopes,
some of them unworthy and most of them doomed to disappointment, yet
these young people have the advantage of "morning in their hearts";
they have such power of direct action, such ability to stand free from
fear, to break through life's trammelings, that in spite of ourselves
we become convinced that

    "They to the disappointed earth shall give
     The lives we meant to live."

That this solace comes to us only in fugitive moments, and is easily
misleading, may be urged as an excuse for our blindness and
insensitiveness to the august moral resources which the youth of each
city offers to those who are in the midst of the city's turmoil. A
further excuse is afforded in the fact that the form of the dreams for
beauty and righteousness change with each generation and that while it
is always difficult for the fathers to understand the sons, at those
periods when the demand of the young is one of social reconstruction,
the misunderstanding easily grows into bitterness.

The old desire to achieve, to improve the world, seizes the ardent
youth to-day with a stern command to bring about juster social
conditions. Youth's divine impatience with the world's inheritance of
wrong and injustice makes him scornful of "rose water for the plague"
prescriptions, and he insists upon something strenuous and vital.

One can find innumerable illustrations of this idealistic impatience
with existing conditions among the many Russian subjects found in the
foreign quarters of every American city. The idealism of these young
people might be utilized to a modification of our general culture and
point of view, somewhat as the influence of the young Germans who came
to America in the early fifties, bringing with them the hopes and
aspirations embodied in the revolutions of 1848, made a profound
impression upon the social and political institutions of America. Long
before they emigrated, thousands of Russian young people had been
caught up into the excitements and hopes of the Russian revolution in
Finland, in Poland, in the Russian cities, in the university towns.
Life had become intensified by the consciousness of the suffering and
starvation of millions of their fellow subjects. They had been living
with a sense of discipline and of preparation for a coming struggle
which, although grave in import, was vivid and adventurous. Their
minds had been seized by the first crude forms of social theory and
they had cherished a vague belief that they were the direct
instruments of a final and ideal social reconstruction. When they come
to America they sadly miss this sense of importance and participation
in a great and glorious conflict against a recognized enemy. Life
suddenly grows stale and unprofitable; the very spirit of tolerance
which characterizes American cities is that which strikes most
unbearably upon their ardent spirits. They look upon the indifference
all about them with an amazement which rapidly changes to irritation.
Some of them in a short time lose their ardor, others with incredible
rapidity make the adaptation between American conditions and their
store of enthusiasm, but hundreds of them remain restless and ill at
ease. Their only consolation, almost their only real companionship,
is when they meet in small groups for discussion or in larger groups
to welcome a well known revolutionist who brings them direct news from
the conflict, or when they arrange for a demonstration in memory of
"The Red Sunday" or the death of Gershuni. Such demonstrations,
however, are held in honor of men whose sense of justice was obliged
to seek an expression quite outside the regular channels of
established government. Knowing that Russia has forced thousands of
her subjects into this position, one would imagine that patriotic
teachers in America would be most desirous to turn into governmental
channels all that insatiable desire for juster relations in industrial
and political affairs. A distinct and well directed campaign is
necessary if this gallant enthusiasm is ever to be made part of that
old and still incomplete effort to embody in law--"the law that abides
and falters not, ages long"--the highest aspirations for justice.

Unfortunately, we do little or nothing with this splendid store of
youthful ardor and creative enthusiasm. Through its very isolation it
tends to intensify and turn in upon itself, and no direct effort is
made to moralize it, to discipline it, to make it operative upon the
life of the city. And yet it is, perhaps, what American cities need
above all else, for it is but too true that Democracy--"a people
ruling"--the very name of which the Greeks considered so beautiful, no
longer stirs the blood of the American youth, and that the real
enthusiasm for self-government must be found among the groups of young
immigrants who bring over with every ship a new cargo of democratic
aspirations. That many of these young men look for a consummation of
these aspirations to a social order of the future in which the
industrial system as well as government shall embody democratic
relations, simply shows that the doctrine of Democracy like any other
of the living faiths of men, is so essentially mystical that it
continually demands new formulation. To fail to recognize it in a new
form, to call it hard names, to refuse to receive it, may mean to
reject that which our fathers cherished and handed on as an
inheritance not only to be preserved but also to be developed.

We allow a great deal of this precious stuff--this _Welt-Schmerz_ of
which each generation has need--not only to go unutilized, but to work
havoc among the young people themselves. One of the saddest
illustrations of this, in my personal knowledge, was that of a young
Russian girl who lived with a group of her compatriots on the west
side of Chicago. She recently committed suicide at the same time that
several others in the group tried it and failed. One of these latter,
who afterwards talked freely of the motives which led her to this act,
said that there were no great issues at stake in this country; that
America was wholly commercial in its interests and absorbed in money
making; that Americans were not held together by any historic bonds
nor great mutual hopes, and were totally ignorant of the stirring
social and philosophic movements of Europe; that her life here had
been a long, dreary, economic struggle, unrelieved by any of the
higher interests; that she was tired of getting seventy-five cents for
trimming a hat that sold for twelve dollars and was to be put upon the
empty head of some one who had no concern for the welfare of the woman
who made it. The statement doubtless reflected something of "The
Sorrows of Werther," but the entire tone was nobler and more highly

It is difficult to illustrate what might be accomplished by reducing
to action the ardor of those youths who so bitterly arraign our
present industrial order. While no part of the social system can be
changed rapidly, we would all admit that the present industrial
arrangements in America might be vastly improved and that we are
failing to meet the requirements of our industrial life with courage
and success simply because we do not realize that unless we establish
that humane legislation which has its roots in a consideration for
human life, our industrialism itself will suffer from inbreeding,
growing ever more unrestrained and ruthless. It would seem obvious
that in order to secure relief in a community dominated by industrial
ideals, an appeal must be made to the old spiritual sanctions for
human conduct, that we must reach motives more substantial and
enduring than the mere fleeting experiences of one phase of modern
industry which vainly imagines that its growth would be curtailed if
the welfare of its employees were guarded by the state. It would be an
interesting attempt to turn that youthful enthusiasm to the aid of one
of the most conservative of the present social efforts, the almost
world-wide movement to secure protective legislation for women and
children in industry, in which America is so behind the other nations.
Fourteen of the great European powers protect women from all night
work, from excessive labor by day, because paternalistic governments
prize the strength of women for the bearing and rearing of healthy
children to the state. And yet in a republic it is the citizens
themselves who must be convinced of the need of this protection unless
they would permit industry to maim the very mothers of the future.

In one year in the German Empire one hundred thousand children were
cared for through money paid from the State Insurance fund to their
widowed mothers or to their invalided fathers. And yet in the American
states it seems impossible to pass a most rudimentary employers'
liability act, which would be but the first step towards that code of
beneficent legislation which protects "the widow and fatherless" in
Germany and England. Certainly we shall have to bestir ourselves if we
would care for the victims of the industrial order as well as do other
nations. We shall be obliged speedily to realize that in order to
secure protective legislation from a governmental body in which the
most powerful interests represented are those of the producers and
transporters of manufactured goods, it will be necessary to exhort to
a care for the defenseless from the religious point of view. To take
even the non-commercial point of view would be to assert that
evolutionary progress assumes that a sound physique is the only secure
basis of life, and to guard the mothers of the race is simple sanity.

And yet from lack of preaching we do not unite for action because we
are not stirred to act at all, and protective legislation in America
is shamefully inadequate. Because it is always difficult to put the
championship of the oppressed above the counsels of prudence, we say
in despair sometimes that we are a people who hold such varied creeds
that there are not enough of one religious faith to secure anything,
but the truth is that it is easy to unite for action people whose
hearts have once been filled by the fervor of that willing devotion
which may easily be generated in the youthful breast. It is
comparatively easy to enlarge a moral concept, but extremely difficult
to give it to an adult for the first time. And yet when we attempt to
appeal to the old sanctions for disinterested conduct, the conclusion
is often forced upon us that they have not been engrained into
character, that they cannot be relied upon when they are brought into
contact with the arguments of industrialism, that the colors of the
flag flying over the fort of our spiritual resources wash out and
disappear when the storm actually breaks. It is because the ardor of
youth has not been attracted to the long effort to modify the
ruthlessness of industry by humane enactments, that we sadly miss
their resourceful enthusiasm and that at the same time groups of young
people who hunger and thirst after social righteousness are breaking
their hearts because the social reform is so long delayed and an
unsympathetic and hardhearted society frustrates all their hopes. And
yet these ardent young people who obscure the issue by their crying
and striving and looking in the wrong place, might be of inestimable
value if so-called political leaders were in any sense social
philosophers. To permit these young people to separate themselves from
the contemporaneous efforts of ameliorating society and to turn their
vague hopes solely toward an ideal commonwealth of the future, is to
withdraw from an experimental self-government founded in enthusiasm,
the very stores of enthusiasm which are needed to sustain it. The
championship of the oppressed came to be a spiritual passion with the
Hebrew prophets. They saw the promises of religion, not for
individuals but in the broad reaches of national affairs and in the
establishment of social justice. It is quite possible that such a
spiritual passion is again to be found among the ardent young souls of
our cities. They see a vision, not of a purified nation but of a
regenerated and a reorganized society. Shall we throw all this into
the future, into the futile prophecy of those who talk because they
cannot achieve, or shall we commingle their ardor, their overmastering
desire for social justice, with that more sober effort to modify
existing conditions? Are we once more forced to appeal to the
educators? Is it so difficult to utilize this ardor because educators
have failed to apprehend the spiritual quality of their task?

It would seem a golden opportunity for those to whom is committed the
task of spiritual instruction, for to preach and seek justice in human
affairs is one of the oldest obligations of religion and morality. All
that would be necessary would be to attach this teaching to the
contemporary world in such wise that the eager youth might feel a tug
upon his faculties, and a sense of participation in the moral life
about him. To leave it unattached to actual social movements means
that the moralist is speaking in incomprehensible terms. Without this
connection, the religious teachers may have conscientiously carried
out their traditional duties and yet have failed utterly to stir the
fires of spiritual enthusiasm.

Each generation of moralists and educators find themselves facing an
inevitable dilemma; first, to keep the young committed to their charge
"unspotted from the world," and, second, to connect the young with the
ruthless and materialistic world all about them in such wise that they
may make it the arena for their spiritual endeavor. It is fortunate
for these teachers that sometime during "The Golden Age" the most
prosaic youth is seized by a new interest in remote and universal
ends, and that if but given a clue by which he may connect his lofty
aims with his daily living, he himself will drag the very heavens into
the most sordid tenement. The perpetual difficulty consists in finding
the clue for him and placing it in his hands, for, if the teaching is
too detached from life, it does not result in any psychic impulsion at
all. I remember as an illustration of the saving power of this
definite connection, a tale told me by a distinguished labor leader in
England. His affections had been starved, even as a child, for he
knew nothing of his parents, his earliest memories being associated
with a wretched old woman who took the most casual care of him. When
he was nine years old he ran away to sea and for the next seven years
led the rough life of a dock laborer, until he became much interested
in a little crippled boy, who by the death of his father had been left
solitary on a freight boat. My English friend promptly adopted the
child as his own and all the questionings of life centered about his
young protégé. He was constantly driven to attend evening meetings
where he heard discussed those social conditions which bear so hard
upon the weak and sick. The crippled boy lived until he was fifteen
and by that time the regeneration of his foster father was complete,
the young docker was committed for life to the bettering of social
conditions. It is doubtful whether any abstract moral appeal could
have reached such a roving nature. Certainly no attempt to incite his
ambition would have succeeded. Only a pull upon his deepest sympathies
and affections, his desire to protect and cherish a weaker thing,
could possibly have stimulated him and connected him with the forces
making for moral and social progress.

This, of course, has ever been the task of religion, to make the sense
of obligation personal, to touch morality with enthusiasm, to bathe
the world in affection--and on all sides we are challenging the
teachers of religion to perform this task for the youth of the city.

For thousands of years definite religious instruction has been given
by authorized agents to the youth of all nations, emphasized through
tribal ceremonials, the assumption of the Roman toga, the Barmitzvah
of the Jews, the First Communion of thousands of children in Catholic
Europe, the Sunday Schools of even the least formal of the evangelical
sects. It is as if men had always felt that this expanding period of
human life must be seized upon for spiritual ends, that the tender
tissue and newly awakened emotions must be made the repository for the
historic ideals and dogmas which are, after all, the most precious
possessions of the race. How has it come about that so many of the
city youth are not given their share in our common inheritance of
life's best goods? Why are their tender feet so often ensnared even
when they are going about youth's legitimate business? One would
suppose that in such an age as ours moral teachers would be put upon
their mettle, that moral authority would be forced to speak with no
uncertain sound if only to be heard above the din of machinery and the
roar of industrialism; that it would have exerted itself as never
before to convince the youth of the reality of the spiritual life.
Affrighted as the moralists must be by the sudden new emphasis placed
upon wealth, despairing of the older men and women who are already
caught by its rewards, one would say that they would have seized upon
the multitude of young people whose minds are busied with issues which
lie beyond the portals of life, as the only resource which might save
the city from the fate of those who perish through lack of vision.

Yet because this inheritance has not been attached to conduct, the
youth of Jewish birth may have been taught that prophets and statesmen
for three thousand years declared Jehovah to be a God of Justice who
hated oppression and desired righteousness, but there is no real
appeal to his spirit of moral adventure unless he is told that the
most stirring attempts to translate justice into the modern social
order have been inaugurated and carried forward by men of his own
race, and that until he joins in the contemporary manifestations of
that attempt he is recreant to his highest traditions and obligations.

The Christian youth may have been taught that man's heartbreaking
adventure to find justice in the order of the universe moved the God
of Heaven himself to send a Mediator in order that the justice man
craves and the mercy by which alone he can endure his weakness might
be reconciled, but he will not make the doctrine his own until he
reduces it to action and tries to translate the spirit of his Master
into social terms.

The youth who calls himself an "Evolutionist"--it is rather hard to
find a name for this youth, but there are thousands of him and a fine
fellow he often is--has read of that struggle beginning with the
earliest tribal effort to establish just relations between man and
man, but he still needs to be told that after all justice can only be
worked out upon this earth by those who will not tolerate a wrong to
the feeblest member of the community, and that it will become a social
force only in proportion as men steadfastly strive to establish it.

If these young people who are subjected to varied religious
instruction are also stirred to action, or rather, if the instruction
is given validity because it is attached to conduct, then it may be
comparatively easy to bring about certain social reforms so sorely
needed in our industrial cities. We are at times obliged to admit,
however, that both the school and the church have failed to perform
this office, and are indicted by the young people themselves.
Thousands of young people in every great city are either frankly
hedonistic, or are vainly attempting to work out for themselves a
satisfactory code of morals. They cast about in all directions for the
clue which shall connect their loftiest hopes with their actual

Several years ago a committee of lads came to see me in order to
complain of a certain high school principal because "He never talks
to us about life." When urged to make a clearer statement, they added,
"He never asks us what we are going to be; we can't get a word out of
him, excepting lessons and keeping quiet in the halls."

Of the dozens of young women who have begged me to make a connection
for them between their dreams of social usefulness and their actual
living, I recall one of the many whom I had sent back to her
clergyman, returning with this remark: "His only suggestion was that I
should be responsible every Sunday for fresh flowers upon the altar. I
did that when I was fifteen and liked it then, but when you have come
back from college and are twenty-two years old, it doesn't quite fit
in with the vigorous efforts you have been told are necessary in order
to make our social relations more Christian."

All of us forget how very early we are in the experiment of founding
self-government in this trying climate of America, and that we are
making the experiment in the most materialistic period of all history,
having as our court of last appeal against that materialism only the
wonderful and inexplicable instinct for justice which resides in the
hearts of men,--which is never so irresistible as when the heart is
young. We may cultivate this most precious possession, or we may
disregard it. We may listen to the young voices rising--clear above
the roar of industrialism and the prudent councils of commerce, or we
may become hypnotized by the sudden new emphasis placed upon wealth
and power, and forget the supremacy of spiritual forces in men's
affairs. It is as if we ignored a wistful, over-confident creature who
walked through our city streets calling out, "I am the spirit of
Youth! With me, all things are possible!" We fail to understand what
he wants or even to see his doings, although his acts are pregnant
with meaning, and we may either translate them into a sordid chronicle
of petty vice or turn them into a solemn school for civic

We may either smother the divine fire of youth or we may feed it. We
may either stand stupidly staring as it sinks into a murky fire of
crime and flares into the intermittent blaze of folly or we may tend
it into a lambent flame with power to make clean and bright our dingy
city streets.

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