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Title: The Children of the Poor
Author: Riis, Jacob A. (Jacob August), 1849-1914
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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THE CHILDREN OF THE POOR



[Illustration]



  THE CHILDREN OF THE POOR


  BY
  JACOB A. RIIS
  AUTHOR OF "HOW THE OTHER HALF LIVES"


  _ILLUSTRATED_


  NEW YORK
  CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
  1908



  COPYRIGHT, 1892, BY
  CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS



PREFACE


To my little ones, who, as I lay down my pen, come rushing in from the
autumn fields, their hands filled with flowers "for the poor children," I
inscribe this book. May the love that shines in their eager eyes never
grow cold within them; then they shall yet grow up to give a helping hand
in working out this problem which so plagues the world to-day. As to their
father's share, it has been a very small and simple one, and now it is
done. Other hands may carry forward the work. My aim has been to gather
the facts for them to build upon. I said it in "How the Other Half Lives,"
and now, in sending this volume to the printer, I can add nothing. The two
books are one. Each supplements the other. Ours is an age of facts. It
wants facts, not theories, and facts I have endeavored to set down in
these pages. The reader may differ with me as to the application of them.
He may be right and I wrong. But we shall not quarrel as to the facts
themselves, I think. A false prophet in our day could do less harm than a
careless reporter. That name I hope I shall not deserve.

To lay aside a work that has been so long a part of one's life, is like
losing a friend. But for the one lost I have gained many. They have been
much to me. The friendship and counsel of Dr. Roger S. Tracy, of the
Bureau of Vital Statistics, have lightened my labors as nothing else
could save the presence and the sympathy of the best and dearest friend of
all, my wife. To Major Willard Bullard, the most efficient chief of the
Sanitary Police; Rabbi Adolph M. Radin; Mr. A. S. Solomons, of the Baron
de Hirsch Relief Committee; Dr. Annie Sturges Daniel; Mr. L. W. Holste, of
the Children's Aid Society; Colonel George T. Balch, of the Board of
Education; Mr. A. S. Fairchild, and to Dr. Max L. Margolis, my thanks are
due and here given. Jew and Gentile, we have sought the truth together.
Our reward must be in the consciousness that we have sought it faithfully
and according to our light.

J. A. R.

RICHMOND HILL, LONG ISLAND,

October 1, 1892.



CONTENTS


                                                   PAGE

  CHAPTER I. THE PROBLEM OF THE CHILDREN,             1


  CHAPTER II. THE ITALIAN SLUM CHILDREN,             10


  CHAPTER III. IN THE GREAT EAST SIDE TREADMILL,     35


  CHAPTER IV. TONY AND HIS TRIBE,                    58


  CHAPTER V. THE STORY OF KID MCDUFF'S GIRL,         87


  CHAPTER VI. THE LITTLE TOILERS,                    92


  CHAPTER VII. THE TRUANTS OF OUR STREETS,          118


  CHAPTER VIII. WHAT IT IS THAT MAKES BOYS BAD,     129


  CHAPTER IX. LITTLE MARY ELLEN'S LEGACY,           142


  CHAPTER X. THE STORY OF THE FRESH AIR FUND,       153


  CHAPTER XI. THE KINDERGARTENS AND NURSERIES,      174


  CHAPTER XII. THE INDUSTRIAL SCHOOLS,              187


  CHAPTER XIII. THE BOYS' CLUBS,                    215


  CHAPTER XIV. THE OUTCAST AND THE HOMELESS,        245


  CHAPTER XV. PUTTING A PREMIUM ON PAUPERISM,       277


  CHAPTER XVI. THE VERDICT OF THE POTTERS FIELD,    286


  REGISTER OF CHILDREN'S CHARITIES,                 291



LISTS OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  Saluting the Flag,                                    _Frontispiece_

                                                                  PAGE

  The Mott Street Barracks,                                         16

  An Italian Home under a Dump,                                     25

  A Child of the Dump,                                              28

  Pietro Learning to Make an Englis' Letter,                        32

  "Slept in the Cellar Four Years,"                                 41

  A Synagogue School in a Hester Street Tenement,                   46

  The Backstairs to Learning,                                       48

  Class of Melammedim Learning English,                             50

  "I Scrubs."--Katie who Keeps House in West Forty-ninth Street,    61

  Present Tenants of John Ericsson's Old House, now the Beach
  Street Industrial School,                                         73

  Their Playground a Truck,                                         86

  Shine, Sir?                                                      100

  Little Susie at her Work,                                        110

  Minding the Baby,                                                114

  "Shooting Craps" in the Hall of the Newsboys' Lodging House,     122

  Case No. 25,745 on the Society's Blotter, Before and After,      146

  Club Used for Beating a Child,                                   152

  Summer Boarders from Mott Street,                                158

  Making for the "Big Water,"                                      167

  Floating Hospital--St. John's Guild,                             169

  Playing at Housekeeping,                                         177

  Poverty Gappers Playing Coney Island,                            183

  Poverty Gap Transformed--the Spot where Young Healey was
  murdered is now a Playground,                                    185

  The Late Charles Loring Brace, Founder of the Children's
  Aid Society,                                                     188

  The First Patriotic Election in the Beach Street Industrial
  School--Parlor in John Ericsson's Old House,                     201

  The Board of Election Inspectors in the Beach Street School,     207

  The Plumbing Shop in the New York Trade Schools,                 212

  A Boys' Club Reading room,                                       222

  The Carpenter Shop in the Avenue C Working Boys' Club,           226

  Type-setting at the Avenue C Working Boys' Club,                 231

  A Bout with the Gloves in the Boys' Club of Calvary Parish,      235

  Lining up for the Gymnasium,                                     240

  A Snug Corner on a Cold Night,                                   246

  2 A.M. in the Delivery-room in the "Sun" Office,                 261

  Buffalo,                                                         264

  Night School in the West Side Lodging-house.--Edward, the
  Little Pedlar, Caught Napping,                                   265

  The "Soup-House Gang," Class in History in the Duane Street
  Newsboy's Lodging-house,                                         269



THE CHILDREN OF THE POOR



CHAPTER I.

THE PROBLEM OF THE CHILDREN


The problem of the children is the problem of the State. As we mould the
children of the toiling masses in our cities, so we shape the destiny of
the State which they will rule in their turn, taking the reins from our
hands. In proportion as we neglect or pass them by, the blame for bad
government to come rests upon us. The cities long since held the balance
of power; their dominion will be absolute soon unless the near future
finds some way of scattering the population which the era of steam-power
and industrial development has crowded together in the great centres of
that energy. At the beginning of the century the urban population of the
United States was 3.97 per cent. of the whole, or not quite one in
twenty-five. To-day it is 29.12 per cent., or nearly one in three. In the
lifetime of those who were babies in arms when the first gun was fired
upon Fort Sumter it has all but doubled. A million and a quarter live
to-day in the tenements of the American metropolis. Clearly, there is
reason for the sharp attention given at last to the life and the doings of
the other half, too long unconsidered. Philanthropy we call it sometimes
with patronizing airs. Better call it self-defence.

In New York there is all the more reason because it is the open door
through which pours in a practically unrestricted immigration, unfamiliar
with and unattuned to our institutions; the dumping-ground where it rids
itself of its burden of helplessness and incapacity, leaving the
procession of the strong and the able free to move on. This sediment forms
the body of our poor, the contingent that lives, always from hand to
mouth, with no provision and no means of providing for the morrow. In the
first generation it pre-empts our slums;[1] in the second, its worst
elements, reinforced by the influences that prevail there, develop the
tough, who confronts society with the claim that the world owes him a
living and that he will collect it in his own way. His plan is a practical
application of the spirit of our free institutions as his opportunities
have enabled him to grasp it.

Thus it comes about that here in New York to seek the children of the poor
one must go among those who, if they did not themselves come over the sea,
can rarely count back another generation born on American soil. Not that
there is far to go. Any tenement district will furnish its own tribe, or
medley of many tribes. Nor is it by any means certain that the children
when found will own their alien descent. Indeed, as a preliminary to
gaining their confidence, to hint at such a thing would be a bad blunder.
The ragged Avenue B boy, whose father at his age had barely heard, in his
corner of the Fatherland, of America as a place where the streets were
paved with nuggets of gold and roast pigeons flew into mouths opening wide
with wonder, would, it is safe to bet, be as prompt to resent the
insinuation that he was a "Dutchman," as would the little "Mick" the
Teuton's sore taunt. Even the son of the immigrant Jew in his virtual
isolation strains impatiently at the fetters of race and faith, while the
Italian takes abuse philosophically only when in the minority and bides
his time until he too shall be able to prove his title by calling those
who came after him names. However, to quarrel with the one or the other on
that ground would be useless. It is the logic of the lad's evolution, the
way of patriotism in the slums. His sincerity need not be questioned.

Many other things about him may be, and justly are, but not that. It is
perfectly transparent. His badness is as spontaneous as his goodness, and
for the moment all there is of the child. Whichever streak happens to
prevail, it is in full possession; if the bad is on top more frequently
than the other, it is his misfortune rather than his design. He is as
ready to give his only cent to a hungrier boy than he if it is settled
that he can "lick" him, and that he is therefore not a rival, as he is to
join him in torturing an unoffending cat for the common cheer. The penny
and the cat, the charity and the cruelty, are both pregnant facts in the
life that surrounds him, and of which he is to be the coming exponent. In
after years, when he is arrested by the officers of the Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for beating his horse, the episode adds
but to his confusion of mind in which a single impression stands out clear
and lasting, viz., that somehow he got the worst of it as usual. But for
the punishment, the whole proceeding must seem ludicrous to him. As it is
he submits without comprehending. _He_ had to take the hard knocks always;
why should not his horse?

In other words, the child is a creature of environment, of opportunity, as
children are everywhere. And the environment here has been bad, as it was
and is in the lands across the sea that sent him to us. Our slums have
fairly rivalled, and in some respects outdone, the older ones after which
they patterned. Still, there is a difference, the difference between the
old slum and the new. The hopelessness, the sullen submission of life in
East London as we have seen it portrayed, has no counterpart here; neither
has the child born in the gutter and predestined by the order of society,
from which there is no appeal, to die there. We have our Lost Tenth to
fill the trench in the Potter's Field; quite as many wrecks at the finish,
perhaps, but the start seems fairer in the promise. Even on the slums the
doctrine of liberty has set its stamp. To be sure, for the want of the
schooling to decipher it properly, they spell it license there, and the
slip makes trouble. The tough and his scheme of levying tribute are the
result. But the police settle that with him, and when it comes to a
choice, the tough is to be preferred to the born pauper any day. The one
has the making of something in him, unpromising as he looks; seen in a
certain light he may even be considered a hopeful symptom. The other is
just so much dead loss. The tough is not born: he is made. The
all-important point is the one at which the manufacture can be stopped.

So rapid and great are the changes in American cities, that no slum has
yet had a chance here to grow old enough to distil its deadliest poison.
New York has been no exception. But we cannot always go at so fast a
pace. There is evidence enough in the crystallization of the varying
elements of the population along certain lines, no longer as uncertain as
they were, that we are slowing up already. Any observer of the poor in
this city is familiar with the appearance among them of that most
distressing and most dangerous symptom, the home-feeling for the slum that
opposes all efforts at betterment with dull indifference. Pauperism seems
to have grown faster of late than even the efforts put forth to check it.
We have witnessed this past winter a dozen times the spectacle of beggars
extorting money by threats or violence without the excuse which a season
of exceptional distress or hardship might have furnished. Further, the
raid in the last Legislature upon the structure of law built up in a
generation to regulate and keep the tenements within safe limits, shows
that fresh danger threatens in the alliance of the slum with politics.
Only the strongest public sentiment, kept always up to the point of prompt
action, avails to ward off this peril. But public sentiment soon wearies
of such watch-duty, as instanced on this occasion, when several bills
radically remodelling the tenement-house law and repealing some of its
most beneficent provisions, had passed both houses and were in the hands
of the Governor before a voice was raised against them, or anyone beside
the politicians and their backers seemed even to have heard of them. And
this hardly five years after a special commission of distinguished
citizens had sat an entire winter under authority of the State considering
the tenement-house problem, and as the result of its labors had secured as
vital the enactment of the very law against which the raid seemed to be
chiefly directed!

The tenement and the saloon, with the street that does not always divide
them, form the environment that is to make or unmake the child. The
influence of each of the three is bad. Together they have power to
overcome the strongest resistance. But the child born under their evil
spell has none such to offer. The testimony of all to whom has fallen the
task of undoing as much of the harm done by them as may be, from the
priest of the parish school to the chaplain of the penitentiary, agrees
upon this point, that even the tough, with all his desperation, is weak
rather than vicious. He promises well, he even means well; he is as
downright sincere in his repentance as he was in his wrong-doing; but it
doesn't prevent him from doing the very same evil deed over again the
minute he is rid of restraint. He would rather be a saint than a sinner;
but somehow he doesn't keep in the _rôle_ of saint, while the police help
perpetuate the memory of his wickedness. After all, he is not so very
different from the rest of us. Perhaps that, with a remorseful review of
the chances he has had, may help to make a fellow-feeling for him in us.

That is what he needs. The facts clearly indicate that from the
environment little improvement in the child is to be expected. There has
been progress in the way of building the tenements of late years, but they
swarm with greater crowds than ever--good reason why they challenge the
pernicious activity of the politician; and the old rookeries disappear
slowly. In the relation of the saloon to the child there has been no
visible improvement, and the street is still his refuge. It is, then, his
opportunities outside that must be improved if relief is to come. We have
the choice of hailing him man and brother or of being slugged and robbed
by him. It ought not to be a hard choice, despite the tatters and the
dirt, for which our past neglect is in great part to blame. Plenty of
evidence will be found in these pages to show that it has been made in the
right spirit already, and that it has proved a wise choice. No investment
gives a better return to-day on the capital put out than work among the
children of the poor.

A single fact will show what is meant by that. Within the lifetime of the
Children's Aid Society, in the thirty years between 1860 and 1890, while
the population of this city was doubled, the commitments of girls and
women for vagrancy fell off from 5,880 to 1,980, while the commitments of
girl thieves fell between 1865 and 1890 from 1 in 743 to 1 in 7,500.[2]
Stealing and vagrancy among boys has decreased too; if not so fast, yet at
a gratifying rate.

Enough has been written and said about the children of the poor and their
sufferings to make many a bigger book than this. From some of it one might
almost be led to believe that one-half of the children are worked like
slaves from toddling infancy, while the other half wander homeless and
helpless about the streets. Their miseries are great enough without
inventing any that do not exist. There is no such host of child outcasts
in New York as that. Thanks to the unwearied efforts of the children's
societies in the last generation, what there is is decreasing, if
anything. As for the little toilers, they will receive attention further
on. There are enough of them, but as a whole they are anything but a
repining lot. They suffer less, to their own knowledge, from their
wretched life than the community suffers for letting them live it, though
it, too, sees the truth but in glimpses. If the question were put to a
vote of the children to-morrow, whether they would take the old life with
its drawbacks, its occasional starvation, and its everyday kicks and hard
knocks; or the good clothes, the plentiful grub, and warm bed, with all
the restraints of civilized society and the "Sunday-school racket" of the
other boy thrown in, I have as little doubt that the street would carry
the day by a practically unanimous vote as I have that there are people
still to be found--too many of them--who would indorse the choice with a
sigh of relief and dismiss the subject, if it could be dismissed that way;
which, happily, it cannot.

The immediate duty which the community has to perform for its own
protection is to school the children first of all into good Americans, and
next into useful citizens. As a community it has not attended to this duty
as it should; but private effort has stepped in and is making up for its
neglect with encouraging success. The outlook that was gloomy from the
point of view of the tenement, brightens when seen from this angle,
however toilsome the road yet ahead. The inpouring of alien races no
longer darkens it. The problems that seemed so perplexing in the light of
freshly-formed prejudices against this or that immigrant, yield to this
simple solution that discovers all alarm to have been groundless.
Yesterday it was the swarthy Italian, to-day the Russian Jew, that excited
our distrust. To-morrow it may be the Arab or the Greek. All alike they
have taken, or are taking, their places in the ranks of our social
phalanx, pushing upward from the bottom with steady effort, as I believe
they will continue to do unless failure to provide them with proper homes
arrests the process. And in the general advance the children, thus firmly
grasped, are seen to be a powerful moving force. The one immigrant who
does not keep step, who, having fallen out of the ranks, has been ordered
to the rear, is the Chinaman, who brought neither wife nor children to
push him ahead. He left them behind that he might not become an American,
and by the standard he himself set up he has been judged.



CHAPTER II.

THE ITALIAN SLUM CHILDREN


Who and where are the slum children of New York to-day? That depends on
what is understood by the term. The moralist might seek them in Hell's
Kitchen, in Battle Row, and in the tenements, east and west, where the
descendants of the poorest Irish immigrants live. They are the ones, as I
have before tried to show, upon whom the tenement and the saloon set their
stamp soonest and deepest. The observer of physical facts merely would
doubtless pick out the Italian ragamuffins first, and from his standpoint
he would be right. Irish poverty is not picturesque in the New World,
whatever it may have been in the Old. Italian poverty is. The worst old
rookeries fall everywhere in this city to the share of the immigrants from
Southern Italy, who are content to occupy them, partly, perhaps, because
they are no worse than the hovels they left behind, but mainly because
they are tricked or bullied into putting up with them by their smarter
countrymen who turn their helplessness and ignorance to good account.
Wherever the invasion of some old home section by the tide of business has
left ramshackle tenements falling into hopeless decay, as in the old
"Africa," in the Bend, and in many other places in the down-town wards,
the Italian sweater landlord is ready with his offer of a lease to bridge
over the interregnum, a lease that takes no account of repairs or of the
improvements the owner sought to avoid. The crowds to make it profitable
to him are never wanting. The bait he holds out is a job at the ash-dump
with which he connects at the other end of the line. The house, the job,
and the man as he comes to them fit in well together, and the
copartnership has given the Italian a character which, I am satisfied from
close observation of him, he does not wholly deserve. At all events, his
wife does not. Dirty as _he_ seems and is in the old rags that harmonize
so well with his surroundings, there is that about her which suggests not
only the capacity for better things, but a willingness to be clean and to
look decent, if cause can be shown. It may be a bright kerchief, a bit of
old-fashioned jewelry, or the neatly smoothed and braided hair of the
wrinkled old hag who presides over the stale bread counter. Even in the
worst dens occupied by these people, provided that they had not occupied
them too long, I have found this trait crop out in the careful scrubbing
of some piece of oil-cloth rescued from the dump and laid as a mat in
front of the family bed; or in a bit of fringe on the sheet or quilt,
ragged and black with age though it was, that showed what a fruitful soil
proper training and decent housing would have found there.

I have in mind one Italian "flat" among many, a half underground hole in a
South Fifth Avenue yard, reached by odd passage-ways through a tumbledown
tenement that was always full of bad smells and scooting rats. Across the
foul and slippery yard, down three steps made of charred timbers from some
worse wreck, was this "flat," where five children slept with their elders.
How many of those there were I never knew. There were three big family
beds, and they nearly filled the room, leaving only patches of the mud
floor visible. The walls were absolutely black with age and smoke. The
plaster had fallen off in patches and there was green mould on the
ceiling. And yet, with it all, with the swarm of squirming youngsters that
were as black as the floor they rolled upon, there was evidence of a
desperate, if hopeless, groping after order, even neatness. The beds were
made up as nicely as they could be with the old quilts and pieces of
carpet that served for covering. In Poverty Gap, where an Italian would be
stoned as likely as not, there would have been a heap of dirty straw
instead of beds, and the artistic arrangement of tallow-dips stuck in the
necks of bottles about the newspaper cut of a saint on the corner shelf
would have been missing altogether, fervent though the personal regard
might be of Poverty Gap for the saint. The bottles would have been the
only part of the exhibition sure to be seen there.

I am satisfied that this instinct inhabits not only the more aristocratic
Genoese, but his fellow countryman from the southern hills as well, little
as they resemble each other or agree in most things. But the Neapolitan
especially does not often get a chance to prove it. He is so altogether
uninviting an object when he presents himself, fresh from the steamer,
that he falls naturally the victim of the slum tenement, which in his keep
becomes, despite the vigilance of the sanitary police, easily enough the
convenient depot and half-way house between the garbage-dump and the
bone-factory. Starting thus below the bottom, as it were, he has an
up-hill journey before him if he is to work out of the slums, and the
promise, to put it mildly, is not good. He does it all the same, or, if
not he, his boy. It is not an Italian sediment that breeds the tough.
Parental authority has a strong enough grip on the lad in Mulberry Street
to make him work, and that is his salvation. "In seventeen years," said
the teacher of the oldest Italian ragged school in the city that, day and
night, takes in quite six hundred, "I have seen my boys work up into
decent mechanics and useful citizens almost to a man, and of my girls only
two I know of have gone astray." I had observed the process often enough
myself to know that she was right. It is to be remembered, furthermore,
that her school is in the very heart of the Five Points district, and
takes in always the worst and the dirtiest crowds of children.

Within a year there has been, through some caprice of immigration, a
distinct descent in the quality of the children, viewed from even the
standard of cleanliness that prevails at the Five Points. Perhaps the
exodus from Italy has worked farther south, where there seems to be an
unusual supply of mud. Perhaps the rivalry of steamship lines has brought
it about. At any rate, the testimony is positive that the children that
came to the schools after last vacation, and have kept coming since, were
the worst seen here since the influx began. I have watched with
satisfaction, since this became apparent, some of the bad old tenements,
which the newcomers always sought in droves, disappear to make room for
great factory buildings. But there are enough left. The cleaning out of a
Mulberry Street block left one lop-sided old rear tenement that had long
since been shut in on three sides by buildings four stories higher than
itself, and forgotten by all the world save the miserable wretches who
burrowed in that dark and dismal pit at the bottom of a narrow alley. Now,
when the fourth structure goes up against its very windows, it will stand
there in the heart of the block, a survival of the unfittest, that, in all
its disheartening dreariness, bears testimony, nevertheless, to the
beneficent activity of the best Board of Health New York has ever had--the
onward sweep of business. It will wipe that last remnant out also, even
if the law lack the power to reach it.

Shoals of Italian children lived in that rookery, and in those the workmen
tore down, in the actual physical atmosphere of the dump. Not a gun-shot
away there is a block of tenements, known as the Mott Street Barracks, in
which still greater shoals are--I was going to say housed, but that would
have been a mistake. Happily they are that very rarely, except when they
are asleep, and not then if they can help it. Out on the street they may
be found tumbling in the dirt, or up on the roof lying stark-naked,
blinking in the sun--content with life as they find it. If they are not a
very cleanly crew, they are at least as clean as the frame they are set
in, though it must be allowed that something has been done of late years
to redeem the buildings from the reproach of a bad past. The combination
of a Jew for a landlord and a saloon-keeper--Italian, of course--for a
lessee, was not propitious; but the buildings happen to be directly under
the windows of the Health Board, and something, I suppose, was due to
appearances. The authorities did all that could be done, short of tearing
down the tenement, but though comparatively clean, and not nearly as
crowded as it was, it is still the old slum. It is an instructive instance
of what can and cannot be done with the tenements into which we invite
these dirty strangers to teach them American ways and the self-respect of
future citizens and voters. There are five buildings--that is, five front
and four rear houses, the latter a story higher than those on the street;
that is because the rear houses were built last, to "accommodate" this
very Italian immigration that could be made to pay for anything. Chiefly
Irish had lived there before, but they moved out then. There were 360
tenants in the Barracks when the police census was taken in 1888, and 40
of them were babies. How many were romping children I do not know. The
"yard" they had to play in is just 5 feet 10 inches wide, and a dozen
steps below the street-level. The closets of all the buildings are in the
cellar of the rear houses and open upon this "yard," where it is always
dark and damp as in a dungeon. Its foul stenches reach even the top floor,
but so also does the sun at mid-day, and that is a luxury that counts as
an extra in the contract with the landlord. The rent is nearly one-half
higher near the top than it is on the street-level. Nine dollars above,
six and a half below, for one room with windows, two without, and with
barely space for a bed in each. But water-pipes have been put in lately,
under orders from the Health Department, and the rents have doubtless been
raised. "No windows" means no ventilation. The rear building backs up
against the tenement on the next street; a space a foot wide separates
them, but an attempt to ventilate the bed-rooms by windows on that was a
failure.

When the health officers got through with the Barracks in time for the
police census of 1891, the 360 tenants had been whittled down to 238, of
whom 47 were babies under five years. Persistent effort had succeeded in
establishing a standard of cleanliness that was a very great improvement
upon the condition prevailing in 1888. But still, as I have said, the slum
remained and will remain as long as that rear tenement stands. In the four
years fifty-one funerals had gone out from the Barracks. The white hearse
alone had made thirty-five trips carrying baby coffins. This was the way
the two standards showed up in the death returns at the Bureau of Vital
Statistics: in 1888 the adult death-rate, in a population of 320 over five
years old, was 15.62 per 1,000; the baby death-rate, 325.00 per 1,000,
or nearly one-third in a total of 40. As a matter of fact 13 of the 40 had
died that year. The adult death-rate for the entire tenement population of
more than a million souls was that year 12.81, and the baby death-rate
88.38. Last year, in 1891, the case stood thus: Total population, 238,
including 47 babies. Adult death-rate per 1,000, 20.94; child death-rate
(under five years) per 1,000, 106.38. General adult death-rate for 1891 in
the tenements, 14.25; general child death-rate for 1891 in the tenements,
86.67. It should be added that the reduced baby death-rate of the
Barracks, high as it was, was probably much lower than it can be
successfully maintained. The year before, in 1890, when practically the
same improved conditions prevailed, it was twice as high. Twice as many
babies died.


[Illustration: THE MOTT STREET BARRACKS.]


I have referred to some of the typical Italian tenements at some length to
illustrate the conditions under which their children grow up and absorb
the impressions that are to shape their lives as men and women. Is it to
be marvelled at, if the first impression of them is sometimes not
favorable? I recall, not without amusement, one of the early experiences
of a committee with which I was trying to relieve some of the child misery
in the East Side tenements by providing an outing for the very poorest of
the little ones, who might otherwise have been overlooked. In our anxiety
to make our little charges as presentable as possible, it seems we had
succeeded so well as to arouse a suspicion in our friends at the other end
of the line that something was wrong, either with us or with the poor of
which the patrician youngsters in new frocks and with clean faces, that
came to them, were representatives. They wrote to us that they were in the
field for the "slum children," and slum children they wanted. It happened
that their letter came just as we had before us two little lads from the
Mulberry Street Bend, ragged, dirty, unkempt, and altogether a sight to
see. Our wardrobe was running low, and we were at our wits' end how to
make these come up to our standard. We sat looking at each other after we
had heard the letter read, all thinking the same thing, until the most
courageous said it: "Send them as they are." Well, we did, and waited
rather breathlessly for the verdict. It came, with the children, in a note
by return train, that said: "Not _that_ kind, please!" And after that we
were allowed to have things our own way.

The two little fellows were Italians. In justice to our frightened
friends, it should be said that it was not their nationality, but their
rags, to which they objected; but not very many seasons have passed since
the crowding of the black-eyed brigade of "guinnies," as they were
contemptuously dubbed, in ever-increasing numbers, into the ragged schools
and the kindergartens, was watched with regret and alarm by the teachers,
as by many others who had no better cause. The event proved that the
children were the real teachers. They had a more valuable lesson to impart
than they came to learn, and it has been a salutary one. To-day they are
gladly welcomed. Their sunny temper, which no hovel is dreary enough, no
hardship has power to cloud, has made them universal favorites, and the
discovery has been made by their teachers that as the crowds pressed
harder their school-rooms have marvellously expanded, until they embrace
within their walls an unsuspected multitude, even many a slum tenement
itself, cellar, "stoop," attic, and all. Every lesson of cleanliness, of
order, and of English taught at the school is reflected into some wretched
home, and rehearsed there as far as the limited opportunities will allow.
No demonstration with soap and water upon a dirty little face but widens
the sphere of these chief promoters of education in the slums. "By 'm by,"
said poor crippled Pietro to me, with a sober look, as he labored away on
his writing lesson, holding down the paper with his maimed hand, "I learn
t' make an Englis' letter; maybe my fadder he learn too." I had my doubts
of the father. He sat watching Pietro with a pride in the achievement that
was clearly proportionate to the struggle it cost, and mirrored in his own
face every grimace and contortion the progress of education caused the
boy. "Si! si!" he nodded, eagerly. "Pietro he good a boy; make Englis',
Englis'!" and he made a flourish with his clay-pipe, as if he too were
making the English letter that was the object of their common veneration.

Perhaps it is as much his growing and well-founded distrust of the
middle-man, whose unresisting victim he has heretofore been, and his need
of some other joint to connect him with the English-speaking world that
surrounds him, as any personal interest in book-learning, that impels the
illiterate Italian to bring his boy to school early and see that he
attends it. Greed has something to do with it too. In their anxiety to lay
hold of the child, the charity schools have fallen into a way of bidding
for him with clothes, shoes, and other bait that is never lost on Mulberry
Street. Even sectarian scruples yield to such an argument, and the
parochial school, where they get nothing but on the contrary are expected
to contribute, gets left.

In a few charity schools where the children are boarded they have
discovered this, and frown upon Italian children unless there is the best
of evidence that the father is really unable to pay for their keep and
not simply unwilling. But whatever his motive, the effect is to
demonstrate in a striking way the truth of the observation that real
reform of poverty and ignorance must begin with the children. In his case,
at all events, the seed thus sown bears some fruit in the present as well
as in the coming generation of toilers. The little ones, with their new
standards and new ambitions, become in a very real sense missionaries of
the slums, whose work of regeneration begins with their parents. They are
continually fetched away from school by the mother or father to act as
interpreters or go-betweens in all the affairs of daily life, to be
conscientiously returned within the hour stipulated by the teacher, who
offers no objection to this sort of interruption, knowing it to be the
best condition of her own success. One cannot help the hope that the
office of trust with which the children are thus invested may, in some
measure, help to mitigate their home-hardships. From their birth they have
little else, though Italian parents are rarely cruel in the sense of
abusing their offspring.

It is the home itself that constitutes their chief hardship. It is only
when his years offer the boy an opportunity of escape to the street, that
a ray of sunlight falls into his life. In his backyard or in his alley it
seldom finds him out. Thenceforward most of his time is spent there, until
the school and the shop claim him, but not in idleness. His mother toiled,
while she bore him at her breast, under burdens heavy enough to break a
man's back. She lets him out of her arms only to share her labor. How well
he does it anyone may see for himself by watching the children that swarm
where an old house is being torn down, lugging upon their heads loads of
kindling wood twice their own size and sometimes larger than that. They
come, as crows scenting carrion, from every side at the first blow of the
axe. Their odd old-mannish or old-womanish appearance, due more to their
grotesque rags than to anything in the children themselves, betrays their
race even without their chatter. Be there ever so many children of other
nationalities nearer by--the wood-gatherers are nearly all Italians. There
are still a lot of girls among them who drag as big loads as their
brothers, but since the sewing machine found its way, with the sweater's
mortgage, into the Italian slums also, little Antonia has been robbed to a
large extent even of this poor freedom, and has taken her place among the
wage-earners when not on the school-bench. Once taken, the place is hers
to keep for good. Sickness, unless it be mortal, is no excuse from the
drudgery of the tenement. When, recently, one little Italian girl, hardly
yet in her teens, stayed away from her class in the Mott Street Industrial
School so long that her teacher went to her home to look her up, she found
the child in a high fever, in bed, sewing on coats, with swollen eyes,
though barely able to sit up.

But neither poverty nor hard knocks has power to discourage the child of
Italy. His nickname he pockets with a grin that has in it no thought of
the dagger and the revenge that come to solace his after years. Only the
prospect of immediate punishment eclipses his spirits for the moment.
While the teacher of the sick little girl was telling me her pitiful story
in the Mott Street school, a characteristic group appeared on the
stairway. Three little Italian culprits in the grasp of Nellie, the tall
and slender Irish girl who was the mentor of her class for the day. They
had been arrested "fur fightin'" she briefly explained as she dragged them
by the collar toward the principal, who just then appeared to inquire the
cause of the rumpus, and thrust them forward to receive sentence. The
three, none of whom was over eight years old, evidently felt that they
were in the power of an enemy from whom no mercy was to be expected, and
made no appeal for any. One scowled defiance. He was evidently the injured
party.

"He hit-a me a clip on de jaw," he said in his defence, in the dialect of
Mott Street with a slight touch of "the Bend." The aggressor, a heavy
browed little ruffian, hung back with a dreary howl, knuckling his eyes
with a pair of fists that were nearly black. The third and youngest was in
a state of bewilderment that was most ludicrous. He only knew that he had
received a kick on the back and had struck out in self-defence, when he
was seized and dragged away a prisoner. He was so dirty--school had only
just begun and there had been no time for the regular inspection--that he
was sentenced on the spot to be taken down and washed, while the other two
were led away to the principal's desk. All three went out howling.

I said that the Italians do not often abuse their children downright. The
padrone has had his day; the last was convicted seven years ago, and an
end has been put to the business of selling children into a slavery that
meant outrage, starvation, and death; but poverty and ignorance are
fearful allies in the homes of the poor against defenceless childhood,
even without the child-beating fiend. Two cases which I encountered in the
East Side tenements, in the summer of 1891, show how the combination works
at its worst. Without a doubt they are typical of very many, though I hope
that few come quite up to their standard. The one was the case of little
Carmen, who last March died in the New York Hospital, where she had lain
five long months, the special care of the Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Children. One of the summer corps doctors found her in a Mott
Street tenement, within stone-throw of the Health Department office,
suffering from a wasting disease that could only be combated by the most
careful nursing. He put her case into the hands of the King's Daughters'
Committee that followed in the steps of the doctor, and it was then that I
saw her. She lay in a little back room, up two flights and giving upon a
narrow yard where it was always twilight. The room was filthy and close,
and entirely devoid of furniture, with the exception of a rickety stool, a
slop pail, and a rusty old stove, one end of which was propped up with
bricks. Carmen's bed was a board laid across the top of a barrel and a
trunk set on end. I could not describe, if I would, the condition of the
child when she was raised from the mess of straw and rags in which she
lay. The sight unnerved even the nurse, who had seen little else than such
scenes all summer. Loathsome bedsores had attacked the wasted little body,
and in truth Carmen was more dead than alive. But when, shocked and
disgusted, we made preparations for her removal with all speed to the
hospital, the parents objected and refused to let us take her away. They
had to be taken into court and forced to surrender the child under warrant
of law, though it was clearly the little sufferer's only chance for life,
and only the slenderest of chances at that.

Carmen was the victim of the stubborn ignorance that dreads the hospital
and the doctor above the discomfort of the dirt and darkness and suffering
that are its every-day attendants. Her parents were no worse than the
Monroe Street mother who refused to let the health officer vaccinate her
baby, because her crippled boy, with one leg an inch shorter than the
other, had "caught it"--the lame leg, that is to say--from his
vaccination. She knew it was so, and with ignorance of that stamp there is
no other argument than force. But another element entered into the case of
a sick Essex Street baby. The tenement would not let it recover from a bad
attack of scarlet fever, and the parents would not let it be taken to the
country or to the sea-shore, despite all efforts and entreaties. When
their motive came out at last, it proved to be a mercenary one. They were
behind with the rent, and as long as they had a sick child in the house
the landlord could not put them out. Sick, the baby was to them a source
of income, at all events a bar to expense, and in that way so much
capital. Well, or away, it would put them at the mercy of the
rent-collector at once. So they chose to let it suffer. The parents were
Jews, a fact that emphasizes the share borne by desperate poverty in the
transaction, for the family tie is notoriously strong among their people.

No doubt Mott Street echoed with the blare of brass bands when poor little
Carmen was carried from her bed of long suffering to her grave in Calvary.
Scarce a day passes now in these tenements that does not see some little
child, not rarely a new-born babe, carried to the grave in solemn state,
preceded by a band playing mournful dirges and followed by a host with
trailing banners, from some wretched home that barely sheltered it alive.
No suspicion of the ludicrous incongruity of the show disturbs the
paraders. It seems as if, but one remove from the dump, an insane passion
for pomp and display, perhaps a natural reaction from the ash-barrel, lies
in wait for this Italian, to which he falls a helpless victim. Not content
with his own national and religious holidays and those he finds awaiting
him here, he has invented or introduced a system of his own, a sort of
communal celebration of proprietary saints, as it were, that has taken
Mulberry Street by storm. As I understand it, the townsmen of some Italian
village, when there is a sufficient number of them within reach, club
together to celebrate its patron saint, and hire a band and set up a
gorgeous altar in a convenient back yard. The fire-escapes overlooking it
are draped with flags and transformed into reserved-seat galleries with
the taste these people display under the most adverse circumstances.
Crowds come and go, parading at intervals in gorgeous uniforms around the
block. Admission is by the saloon-door, which nearly always holds the key
to the situation, the saloonist who prompts the sudden attack of devotion
being frequently a namesake of the saint and willing to go shares on the
principle that he takes the profit and the saint the glory.


[Illustration: AN ITALIAN HOME UNDER A DUMP.]


The partnership lasts as long as there is any profit in it, sometimes the
better part of the week, during which time all work stops. If the feast
panned out well, the next block is liable to be the scene of a rival
celebration before the first is fairly ended. As the supply of Italian
villages represented in New York is practically as inexhaustible as that
of the saloons, there is no reason why Mulberry Street may not become a
perennial picnic ground long before the scheme to make a park of one end
of it gets under way. From the standpoint of the children there can be no
objection to this, but from that of the police there is. They found
themselves called upon to interfere in such a four days' celebration of
St. Rocco last year, when his votaries strung cannon fire-crackers along
the street the whole length of the block and set them all off at once. It
was at just such a feast, in honor of the same saint, that a dozen
Italians were killed a week later at Newark in the explosion of their
fireworks.

It goes without saying that the children enter into this sort of thing
with all the enthusiasm of their little souls. The politician watches it
attentively, alert for some handle to catch his new allies by and effect
their "organization." If it is a new experience for him to find the saloon
put to such use, he betrays no surprise. It is his vantage ground, and
whether it serve as the political bait for the Irishman, or as the
religious initiative of the Italian, is of less account than that its
patrons, young and old, in the end fall into his trap. Conclusive proof
that the Italian has been led into camp came to me on last St. Patrick's
Day through the assurance of a certain popular clergyman, that he had
observed, on a walk through the city, a number of hand-organs draped in
green, evidently for the occasion.

This dump of which I have spoken as furnishing the background of the
social life of Mulberry Street, has lately challenged attention as a slum
annex to the Bend, with fresh horrors in store for defenceless childhood.
To satisfy myself upon this point I made a personal inspection of the
dumps along both rivers last winter and found the Italian crews at work
there making their home in every instance among the refuse they picked
from the scows. The dumps are wooden bridges raised above the level of the
piers upon which they are built to allow the discharge of the carts
directly into the scows moored under them. Under each bridge a cabin had
been built of old boards, oil-cloth, and the like, that had found its way
down on the carts; an old milk-can had been made into a fireplace without
the ceremony of providing stove-pipe or draught, and here, flanked by
mountains of refuse, slept the crews of from half a dozen to three times
that number of men, secure from the police, who had grown tired of driving
them from dump to dump and had finally let them alone. There were women at
some of them, and at four dumps, three on the North River and one on the
East Side, I found boys who ought to have been at school, picking bones
and sorting rags. They said that they slept there, and as the men did, why
should they not? It was their home. They were children of the dump,
literally. All of them except one were Italians. That one was a little
homeless Jew who had drifted down at first to pick cinders. Now that his
mother was dead and his father in a hospital, he had become a sort of
fixture there, it seemed, having made the acquaintance of the other lads.


[Illustration: A CHILD OF THE DUMP.]


Two boys whom I found at the West Nineteenth Street dumps sorting bones
were as bright lads as I had seen anywhere. One was nine years old and
the other twelve. Filthy and ragged, they fitted well into their
environment--even the pig I had encountered at one of the East River dumps
was much the more respectable, as to appearance, of the lot--but were
entirely undaunted by it. They scarcely remembered anything but the dump.
Neither could read, of course. Further down the river I came upon one
seemingly not over fifteen, who assured me that he was twenty-one. I
thought it possible when I took a closer look at him. The dump had stunted
him. He did not even know what a letter was. He had been there five years,
and garbage limited his mental as well as his physical horizon.

Enough has been said to show that the lot of the poor child of the
Mulberry Street Bend, or of Little Italy, is not a happy one, courageously
and uncomplainingly, even joyously, though it be borne. The stories of two
little lads from the region of Crosby Street always stand to me as typical
of their kind. One I knew all about from personal observation and
acquaintance; the other I give as I have it from his teachers in the Mott
Street Industrial School, where he was a pupil in spells. It was the death
of little Giuseppe that brought me to his home, a dismal den in a rear
tenement down a dark and forbidding alley. I have seldom seen a worse
place. There was no trace there of a striving for better things--the
tenement had stamped that out--nothing but darkness and filth and misery.
From this hole Giuseppe had come to the school a mass of rags, but with
that jovial gleam in his brown eyes that made him an instant favorite with
the teachers as well as with the boys. One of them especially, little
Mike, became attached to him, and a year after his cruel death shed tears
yet, when reminded of it. Giuseppe had not been long at the school when
he was sent to an Elizabeth Street tenement for a little absentee. He
brought her, shivering in even worse rags than his own; it was a cold
winter day.

"This girl is very poor," he said, presenting her to the teacher, with a
pitying look. It was only then that he learned that she had no mother. His
own had often stood between the harsh father and him when he came home
with unsold evening papers. Giuseppe fished his only penny out of his
pocket--his capital for the afternoon's trade. "I would like to give her
that," he said. After that he brought her pennies regularly from his day's
sale, and took many a thrashing for it. He undertook the general
supervision of the child's education, and saw to it that she came to
school every day. Giuseppe was twelve years old.

There came an evening when business had been very bad, so bad that he
thought a bed in the street healthier for him than the Crosby Street
alley. With three other lads in similar straits he crawled into the iron
chute that ventilated the basement of the Post-office on the Mail Street
side and snuggled down on the grating. They were all asleep, when fire
broke out in the cellar. The three climbed out, but Giuseppe, whose feet
were wrapped in a mail-bag, was too late. He was burned to death.

The little girl still goes to the Mott Street school. She is too young to
understand, and marvels why Giuseppe comes no more with his pennies. Mike
cries for his friend. When, some months ago, I found myself in the Crosby
Street alley, and went up to talk to Giuseppe's parents, they would answer
no questions before I had replied to one of theirs. It was thus
interpreted to me by a girl from the basement, who had come in out of
curiosity:

"Are youse goin' to give us any money?" Poor Giuseppe!

My other little friend was Pietro, of whom I spoke before. Perhaps of all
the little life-stories of poor Italian children I have come across in the
course of years--and they are many and sad, most of them--none comes
nearer to the hard every-day fact of those dreary tenements than his,
exceptional as was his own heavy misfortune and its effect upon the boy. I
met him first in the Mulberry Street police-station, where he was
interpreting the defence in a shooting case, having come in with the crowd
from Jersey Street, where the thing had happened at his own door. With his
rags, his dirty bare feet, and his shock of tousled hair, he seemed to fit
in so entirely there of all places, and took so naturally to the ways of
the police-station, that he might have escaped my notice altogether but
for his maimed hand and his oddly grave yet eager face, which no smile
ever crossed despite his thirteen years. Of both, his story, when I
afterward came to know it, gave me full explanation. He was the oldest son
of a laborer, not "borned here" as the rest of his sisters and brothers.
There were four of them, six in the family besides himself, as he put it:
"2 sisters, 2 broders, 1 fader, 1 modder," subsisting on an unsteady
maximum income of $9 a week, the rent taking always the earnings of one
week in four. The home thus dearly paid for was a wretched room with a
dark alcove for a bed-chamber, in one of the vile old barracks that until
very recently preserved to Jersey Street the memory of its former bad
eminence as among the worst of the city's slums. Pietro had gone to the
Sisters' school, blacking boots in a haphazard sort of way in his
off-hours, until the year before, upon his mastering the alphabet, his
education was considered to have sufficiently advanced to warrant his
graduating into the ranks of the family wage-earners, that were sadly in
need of recruiting. A steady job of "shinin'" was found for him in an
Eighth Ward saloon, and that afternoon, just before Christmas, he came
home from school and putting his books away on the shelf for the next in
order to use, ran across Broadway full of joyous anticipation of his new
dignity in an independent job. He did not see the street-car until it was
fairly upon him, and then it was too late. They thought he was killed, but
he was only crippled for life. When, after many months, he came out of the
hospital, where the company had paid his board and posed as doing a
generous thing, his bright smile was gone; his "shining" was at an end,
and with it his career as it had been marked out for him. He must needs
take up something new, and he was bending all his energies, when I met
him, toward learning to make the "Englis' letter" with a degree of
proficiency that would justify the hope of his doing something somewhere
at sometime to make up for what he had lost. It was a far-off possibility
yet. With the same end in view, probably, he was taking nightly
writing-lessons in his mother-tongue from one of the perambulating
schoolmasters who circulate in the Italian colony, peddling education
cheap in lots to suit. In his sober, submissive way he was content with
the prospect. It had its compensations. The boys who used to worry him,
now let him alone. "When they see this," he said, holding up his scarred
and misshapen arm, "they don't strike me no more." Then there was his
fourteen months old baby brother who was beginning to walk, and could
almost "make a letter." Pietro was much concerned about his education,
anxious evidently that he should one day take his place. "I take him to
school sometime," he said, piloting him across the floor and talking
softly to the child in his own melodious Italian. I watched his grave,
unchanging face.


[Illustration: PIETRO LEARNING TO MAKE AN ENGLIS' LETTER.]


"Pietro," I said, with a sudden yearning to know, "did you ever laugh?"

The boy glanced from the baby to me with a wistful look.

"I did wonst," he said, quietly, and went on his way. And I would gladly
have forgotten that I ever asked the question; even as Pietro had
forgotten his laugh.



CHAPTER III.

IN THE GREAT EAST SIDE TREADMILL


If the sightseer finds less to engage his interest in Jewtown than in the
Bend, outside of the clamoring crowds in the Chasir--the Pig-market--he
will discover enough to enlist his sympathies, provided he did not leave
them behind when he crossed the Bowery. The loss is his own then. There is
that in the desolation of child-life in those teeming hives to make the
shrivelled heart ache with compassion for its kind and throb with a new
life of pain, enough to dispel some prejudices that are as old as our
faith, and sometimes, I fear, a good deal stronger. The Russian exile adds
to the offence of being an alien and a disturber of economic balances the
worse one of being a Jew. Let those who cannot forgive this damaging fact
possess their souls in patience. There is some evidence that the welcome
he has received in those East Side tenements has done more than centuries
of persecution could toward making him forget it himself.

The Italian who comes here gravitates naturally to the oldest and most
dilapidated tenements in search of cheap rents, which he doesn't find. The
Jew has another plan, characteristic of the man. He seeks out the biggest
ones and makes the rent come within his means by taking in boarders,
"sweating" his flat to the point of police intervention. That that point
is a long way beyond human decency, let alone comfort, an instance from
Ludlow Street, that came to my notice while writing this, quite clearly
demonstrates. The offender was a tailor, who lived with his wife, two
children, and two boarders in two rooms on the top floor. [It is always
the top floor; in fifteen years of active service as a police reporter I
have had to climb to the top floor five times for every one my business
was further down, irrespective of where the tenement was or what kind of
people lived in it. Crime, suicide, and police business generally seem to
bear the same relation to the stairs in a tenement that they bear to
poverty itself. The more stairs the more trouble. The deepest poverty is
at home in the attic.] But this tailor; with his immediate household,
including the boarders, he occupied the larger of the two rooms. The
other, a bedroom eight feet square, he sublet to a second tailor and his
wife; which couple, following his example as their opportunities allowed,
divided the bedroom in two by hanging a curtain in the middle, took
one-half for themselves and let the other half to still another tailor
with a wife and child. A midnight inspection by the sanitary police was
followed by the arrest of the housekeeper and the original tailor, and
they were fined or warned in the police-court, I forget which. It doesn't
much matter. That the real point was missed was shown by the appearance of
the owner of the house, a woman, at Sanitary Headquarters, on the day
following, with the charge against the policeman that he was robbing her
of her tenants.

The story of inhuman packing of human swarms, of bitter poverty, of
landlord greed, of sweater slavery, of darkness and squalor and misery,
which these tenements have to tell, is equalled, I suppose, nowhere in a
civilized land. Despite the prevalence of the boarder, who is usually a
married man, come over alone the better to be able to prepare the way for
the family, the census[3] shows that fifty-four per cent. of the entire
population of immigrant Jews were children, or under age. Every steamer
has added to their number since, and judging from the sights one sees
daily in the office of the United Hebrew Charities, and from the general
appearance of Ludlow Street, the proportion of children has suffered no
decrease. Let the reader who would know for himself what they are like,
and what their chances are, take that street some evening from Hester
Street down and observe what he sees going on there. Not that it is the
only place where he can find them. The census I spoke of embraced
forty-five streets in the Seventh, Tenth, and Thirteenth Wards. But at
that end of Ludlow Street the tenements are taller and the crowds always
denser than anywhere else. Let him watch the little pedlars hawking their
shoe-strings, their matches, and their penny paper-pads, with the restless
energy that seems so strangely out of proportion to the reward it reaps;
the half-grown children staggering under heavy bundles of clothes from the
sweater's shop; the ragamuffins at their fretful play, play yet,
discouraged though it be by the nasty surroundings--thank goodness, every
year brings its Passover with the scrubbing brigade to Ludlow Street, and
the dirt is shifted from the houses to the streets once anyhow; if it does
find its way back, something may be lost on the way--the crowding, the
pushing for elbow-room, the wails of bruised babies that keep falling
down-stairs, or rolling off the stoop, and the raids of angry mothers
swooping down upon their offspring and distributing thumps right and left
to pay for the bruises, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Whose
eye, whose tooth, is of less account in Jewtown than that the capital put
out bears lawful interest in kind. What kind of interest may society some
day expect to reap from Ghettos like these, where even the sunny temper of
childhood is soured by want and woe, or smothered in filth? It is a long
time since I have heard a good honest laugh, a child's gleeful shout, in
Ludlow Street. Angry cries, jeers, enough. They are as much part of the
place as the dirty pavements; but joyous, honest laughs, like soap and
water, are at a premium there.

But children laugh because they are happy. They are not happy in Ludlow
Street. Nobody is except the landlord. Why should they be? Born to toil
and trouble, they claim their heritage early and part with it late. There
is even less time than there is room for play in Jewtown, good reason why
the quality of the play is poor. There is work for the weakest hands, a
step for the smallest feet in the vast tread-mill of these East Side
homes. A thing is worth there what it will bring. All other
considerations, ambitions, desires, yield to that. Education pays as an
investment, and therefore the child is sent to school. The moment his
immediate value as a worker overbalances the gain in prospect by keeping
him at his books, he goes to the shop. The testimony of Jewish observers,
who have had quite unusual opportunities for judging, is that the average
age at which these children leave school for good is rather below twelve
than beyond it, by which time their work at home, helping their parents,
has qualified them to earn wages that will more than pay for their keep.
They are certainly on the safe side in their reckoning, if the children
are not. The legal age for shop employment is fourteen. On my visits among
the homes, workshops, and evening schools of Jewtown, I was always struck
by the number of diminutive wage-earners who were invariably "just
fourteen." It was clearly not the child which the tenement had dwarfed in
their case, but the memory or the moral sense of the parents.

If, indeed, the shop were an exchange for the home; if the child quit the
one upon entering the other, there might be little objection to make; but
too often they are two names for the same thing; where they are not, the
shop is probably preferable, bad as that may be. When, in the midnight
hour, the noise of the sewing-machine was stilled at last, I have gone the
rounds of Ludlow and Hester and Essex Streets among the poorest of the
Russian Jews, with the sanitary police, and counted often four, five, and
even six of the little ones in a single bed, sometimes a shake-down on the
hard floor, often a pile of half-finished clothing brought home from the
sweater, in the stuffy rooms of their tenements. In one I visited very
lately, the only bed was occupied by the entire family lying lengthwise
and crosswise, literally in layers, three children at the feet, all except
a boy of ten or twelve, for whom there was no room. He slept with his
clothes on to keep him warm, in a pile of rags just inside the door. It
seemed to me impossible that families of children could be raised at all
in such dens as I had my daily and nightly walks in. And yet the vital
statistics and all close observation agree in allotting to these Jews even
an unusual degree of good health. The records of the Sanitary Bureau show
that while the Italians have the highest death-rate, the mortality in the
lower part of the Tenth Ward, of which Ludlow Street is the heart and
type, is the lowest in the city. Even the baby death-rate is very low. But
for the fact that the ravages of diphtheria, croup, and measles run up the
record in the houses occupied entirely by tailors--in other words, in the
sweater district, where contagion always runs riot[4]--the Tenth Ward
would seem to be the healthiest spot in the city, as well as the dirtiest
and the most crowded. The temperate habits of the Jew and his freedom from
enfeebling vices generally must account for this, along with his
marvellous vitality. I cannot now recall ever having known a Jewish
drunkard. On the other hand, I have never come across a Prohibitionist
among them. The absence of the one renders the other superfluous.

It was only last winter I had occasion to visit repeatedly a double
tenement at the lower end of Ludlow Street, which the police census showed
to contain 297 tenants, 45 of whom were under five years of age, not
counting 3 pedlars who slept in the mouldy cellar, where the water was
ankle deep on the mud floor. The feeblest ray of daylight never found its
way down there, the hatches having been carefully covered with rags and
matting; but freshets often did. Sometimes the water rose to the height of
a foot, and never quite soaked away in the dryest season. It was an awful
place, and by the light of my candle the three, with their unkempt beards
and hair and sallow faces, looked more like hideous ghosts than living
men. Yet they had slept there among and upon decaying fruit and wreckage
of all sorts from the tenement for over three years, according to their
own and the housekeeper's statements. There had been four. One was then in
the hospital, but not because of any ill effect the cellar had had upon
him. He had been run over in the street and was making the most of his
vacation, charging it up to the owner of the wagon, whom he was getting
ready to sue for breaking his leg. Up-stairs, especially in the rear
tenement, I found the scene from the cellar repeated with variations. In
one room a family of seven, including the oldest daughter, a young woman
of eighteen, and her brother, a year older than she, slept in a common bed
made on the floor of the kitchen, and manifested scarcely any concern at
our appearance. A complaint to the Board of Health resulted in an
overhauling that showed the tenement to be unusually bad even for that bad
spot; but when we came to look up its record, from the standpoint of the
vital statistics, we discovered that not only had there not been a single
death in the house during the whole year, but on the third floor lived a
woman over a hundred years old, who had been there a long time. I was
never more surprised in my life, and while we laughed at it, I confess it
came nearer to upsetting my faith in the value of statistics than anything
I had seen till then. And yet I had met with similar experiences, if not
quite so striking, often enough to convince me that poverty and want beget
their own power to resist the evil influences of their worst surroundings.
I was at a loss how to put this plainly to the good people who often asked
wonderingly why the children of the poor one saw in the street seemed
generally such a thriving lot, until a slip of Mrs. Partington's
discriminating tongue did it for me: "Manured to the soil." That is it. In
so far as it does not merely seem so--one does not see the sick and
suffering--that puts it right.


[Illustration: "SLEPT IN THAT CELLAR FOUR YEARS."]


Whatever the effect upon the physical health of the children, it cannot be
otherwise, of course, than that such conditions should corrupt their
morals. I have the authority of a distinguished rabbi, whose field and
daily walk are among the poorest of his people, to support me in the
statement that the moral tone of the young girls is distinctly lower than
it was. The entire absence of privacy in their homes and the foul contact
of the sweaters' shops, where men and women work side by side from morning
till night, scarcely half clad in the hot summer weather, does for the
girls what the street completes in the boy. But for the patriarchal family
life of the Jew that is his strongest virtue, their ruin would long since
have been complete. It is that which pilots him safely through shoals upon
which the Gentile would have been inevitably wrecked. It is that which
keeps the almshouse from casting its shadow over Ludlow Street to add to
its gloom. It is the one quality which redeems, and on the Sabbath eve
when he gathers his household about his board, scant though the fare be,
dignifies the darkest slum of Jewtown.

How strong is this attachment to home and kindred that makes the Jew cling
to the humblest hearth and gather his children and his children's children
about it, though grinding poverty leave them only a bare crust to share, I
saw in the case of little Jette Brodsky, who strayed away from her own
door, looking for her papa. They were strangers and ignorant and poor, so
that weeks went by before they could make their loss known and get a
hearing, and meanwhile Jette, who had been picked up and taken to Police
Headquarters, had been hidden away in an asylum, given another name when
nobody came to claim her, and had been quite forgotten. But in the two
years that passed before she was found at last, her empty chair stood ever
by her father's, at the family board, and no Sabbath eve but heard his
prayer for the restoration of their lost one. It happened once that I
came in on a Friday evening at the breaking of bread, just as the four
candles upon the table had been lit with the Sabbath blessing upon the
home and all it sheltered. Their light fell on little else than empty
plates and anxious faces; but in the patriarchal host who arose and bade
the guest welcome with a dignity a king might have envied I recognized
with difficulty the humble pedlar I had known only from the street and
from the police office, where he hardly ventured beyond the door.

But the tenement that has power to turn purest gold to dross digs a pit
for the Jew even through this virtue that has been his shield against its
power for evil. In its atmosphere it turns too often to a curse by helping
to crowd his lodgings, already overflowing, beyond the point of official
forbearance. Then follow orders to "reduce" the number of tenants that
mean increased rent, which the family cannot pay, or the breaking up of
the home. An appeal to avert such a calamity came to the Board of Health
recently from one of the refugee tenements. The tenant was a man with a
houseful of children, too full for the official scale as applied to the
flat, and his plea was backed by the influence of his only friend in
need--the family undertaker. There was something so cruelly suggestive in
the idea that the laugh it raised died without an echo.

The census of the sweaters' district gave a total of 23,405 children under
six years, and 21,285 between six and fourteen, in a population of
something over a hundred and eleven thousand Russian, Polish, and
Roumanian Jews in the three wards mentioned; 15,567 are set down as
"children over fourteen." According to the record, scarce one-third of the
heads of families had become naturalized citizens, though the average of
their stay in the United States was between nine and ten years. The very
language of our country was to them a strange tongue, understood and
spoken by only 15,837 of the fifty thousand and odd adults enumerated.
Seven thousand of the rest spoke only German, five thousand Russian, and
over twenty-one thousand, could only make themselves understood to each
other, never to the world around them, in the strange jargon that passes
for Hebrew on the East Side, but is really a mixture of a dozen known
dialects and tongues and of some that were never known or heard anywhere
else. In the census it is down as just what it is--jargon, and nothing
else.

Here, then, are conditions as unfavorable to the satisfactory, even safe,
development of child life in the chief American city as could well be
imagined; more unfavorable even than with the Bohemians, who have at least
their faith in common with us, if safety lies in the merging through the
rising generation of the discordant elements into a common harmony. A
community set apart, set sharply against the rest in every clashing
interest, social and industrial; foreign in language, in faith, and in
tradition; repaying dislike with distrust; expanding under the new relief
from oppression in the unpopular qualities of greed and contentiousness
fostered by ages of tyranny unresistingly borne. Clearly, if ever there
was need of moulding any material for the citizenship that awaits it, it
is with this; and if ever trouble might be expected to beset the effort,
it might be looked for here. But it is not so. The record shows that of
the sixty thousand children, including the fifteen thousand young men and
women over fourteen who earn a large share of the money that pays for rent
and food, and the twenty-three thousand toddlers under six years, fully
one-third go to school. Deducting the two extremes, little more than a
thousand children of between six and fourteen years, that is, of school
age, were put down as receiving no instruction at the time the census was
taken; but it is not at all likely that this condition was permanent in
the case of the greater number of these. The poorest Hebrew knows--the
poorer he is, the better he knows it--that knowledge is power, and power
as the means of getting on in the world that has spurned him so long is
what his soul yearns for. He lets no opportunity slip to obtain it. Day
and night schools are crowded by his children, who are everywhere forging
ahead of their Christian school-fellows, taking more than their share of
prizes and promotions. Every synagogue, every second rear tenement or dark
back yard, has its school and its school-master with his scourge to
intercept those who might otherwise escape. In the census there are put
down 251 Jewish teachers as living in these tenements, a large number of
whom conduct such schools, so that, as the children form always more than
one-half of the population in the Jewish quarter, the evidence is after
all that even here, with the tremendous inpour of a destitute, ignorant
people, and with the undoubted employment of child labor on a large scale,
the cause of progress along the safe line is holding its own.


[Illustration: A SYNAGOGUE SCHOOL IN A HESTER STREET TENEMENT.]


[Illustration: THE BACKSTAIRS TO LEARNING. (Entrance to a Talmud School in
Hester Street.)]


It is true that these tenement schools that absorb several thousand
children are not what they might be from a sanitary point of view. It is
also true that heretofore nothing but Hebrew and the Talmud have been
taught there. But to the one evil the health authorities have recently
been aroused; of the other, the wise and patriotic men who are managing
the Baron de Hirsch charity are making a useful handle by gathering the
teachers in and setting them to learn English. Their new knowledge will
soon be reflected in their teaching, and the Hebrew schools become primary
classes in the system of public education. The school in a Hester Street
tenement that is shown in the picture is a fair specimen of its kind--by
no means one of the worst--and so is the back yard behind it, that serves
as the children's play-ground, with its dirty mud-puddles, its
slop-barrels and broken flags, and its foul tenement-house surroundings.
Both fall in well with the home-lives and environment of the unhappy
little wretches whose daily horizon they limit. They get there the first
instruction they receive in the only tongues with which the teachers are
familiar, Hebrew and the Jargon, in the only studies which they are
competent to teach, the Talmud and the Prophets. Until they are six years
old they are under the "Melammed's" rod all day; after that only in the
interval between public school and supper. It is practically the only
religious instruction the poorest Jewish children receive, but it is
claimed by some of their rabbis that they had better have none at all. The
daily transition, they say, from the bright and, by comparison,
æsthetically beautiful public school-room to these dark and inhospitable
dens, with which the faith that has brought so many miseries upon their
race comes to be inseparably associated in the child's mind as he grows
up, tends to reflections that breed indifference, if not infidelity, in
the young. It would not be strange if this were so. If the schools,
through this process, also help pave the way for the acceptance of the
Messiah heretofore rejected, which I greatly doubt, it may be said to be
the only instance in which the East Side tenement has done its tenants a
good Christian turn.

There is no more remarkable class in any school than that of these
Melammedim,[5] that may be seen in session any week day forenoon, save on
Saturday, of course, in the Hebrew Institute in East Broadway. Old bearded
men struggling through the intricacies of the first reader, "a cow, a
cat," and all the rest of childish learning, with a rapt attention and a
concentration of energy as if they were devoting themselves to the most
heroic of tasks, which, indeed, they are, for the good that may come of it
cannot easily be overestimated. As an educational measure it may be said
to be getting down to first principles with a vengeance. When the reader
has been mastered, brief courses in the history of the United States, the
Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution follow. The test of
proficiency in the pupil is his ability to translate the books of the Old
Testament, with which he is familiar, of course, from Hebrew into English,
and _vice versa_. The Melammed is rarely a dull scholar. No one knows
better than he, to whom it has come only in the evening of his hard life,
the value of the boon that is offered him. One of the odd group that was
deep in the lesson of the day had five children at home, whom he had
struggled to bring up on an income of ten dollars a week. The oldest, a
bright boy who had graduated with honor, despite the patch on his
trousers, from the public school, was ambitious to go to college, and the
father had saved and pinched in a thousand ways to gratify his desire.
One of the managers of the Institute who knew how the family were starving
on half rations, had offered the father, a short time before, to get the
boy employment in a store at three dollars a week. It was a tremendous
temptation, for the money was badly needed at home. But the old man put it
resolutely away from him. "No," he said, "I must send him to college. He
shall have the chance that was denied his father." And he was as good as
his word. And so was the lad, a worthy son of a worthy father. When I met
him he had already proved himself a long way the best student in his
class.


[Illustration: CLASS OF MELAMMEDIM LEARNING ENGLISH.]


In other class-rooms in the great building, which is devoted entirely to
the cause of Americanizing the young Russian immigrants, hundreds of
children get daily their first lessons in English and in patriotism in
simultaneous doses. The two are inseparable in the beneficent plan of
their instructors. Their effort is to lay hold of the children of the
new-comers at once; tender years are no barrier. For the toddlers there
are kindergarten classes, with play the street has had no chance to soil.
And while playing they learn to speak the strange new tongue and to love
the pretty flag with the stars that is everywhere in sight. The night
school gathers in as many as can be corralled of those who are big enough,
if not old enough, to work. The ease and rapidity with which they learn is
equalled only by their good behavior and close attention while in school.
There is no whispering and no rioting at these desks, no trial of strength
with the teacher, as in the Italian ragged schools, where the question who
is boss has always to be settled before the business of the school can
proceed. These children come to learn. Even from the Christian schools in
the district that gather in their share comes the same testimony. All the
disturbance they report was made by their elders, outside the school, in
the street. In the Hebrew Institute the average of absence for all causes
was, during the first year, less than eight per cent. of the registered
attendance, and in nearly every case sickness furnished a valid excuse. In
a year and a half the principal had only been called upon three times to
reprove an obstreperous pupil, in a total of 1,500. While I was visiting
one of the day classes a little girl who had come from Moscow only two
months before presented herself with her green vaccination card from the
steamer. She understood already perfectly the questions put to her and was
able to answer most of them in English. Boys of eight and nine years who
had come over as many months before, knowing only the jargon of their
native village, read to me whole pages from the reader with almost perfect
accent, and did sums on the blackboard that would have done credit to the
average boy of twelve in our public schools. Figuring is always their
strong point. They would not be Jews if it was not.

In the evening classes the girls of "fourteen" flourished, as everywhere
in Jewtown. There were many who were much older, and some who were a long
way yet from that safe goal. One sober-faced little girl, who wore a medal
for faithful attendance and who could not have been much over ten, if as
old as that, said that she "went out dressmaking" and so helped her
mother. Another, who was even smaller and had been here just three weeks,
yet understood what was said to her, explained in broken German that she
was learning to work at "Blumen" in a Grand Street shop, and would soon be
able to earn wages that would help support the family of four children, of
whom she was the oldest. The girl who sat in the seat with her was from a
Hester Street tenement. Her clothes showed that she was very poor. She
read very fluently on demand a story about a big dog that tried to run
away, or something, "when he had a chance." When she came to translate
what she had read into German, which many of the Russian children
understand, she got along until she reached the word "chance." There she
stopped, bewildered. It was the one idea of which her brief life had no
embodiment, the thing it had altogether missed.

The Declaration of Independence half the children knew by heart before
they had gone over it twice. To help them along it is printed in the
school-books with a Hebrew translation and another in Jargon, a
"Jewish-German," in parallel columns and the explanatory notes in Hebrew.
The Constitution of the United States is treated in the same manner, but
it is too hard, or too wearisome, for the children. They "hate" it, says
the teacher, while the Declaration of Independence takes their fancy at
sight. They understand it in their own practical way, and the spirit of
the immortal document suffers no loss from the annotations of Ludlow
Street, if its dignity is sometimes slightly rumpled.

"When," said the teacher to one of the pupils, a little working-girl from
an Essex Street sweater's shop, "the Americans could no longer put up with
the abuse of the English who governed the colonies, what occurred then?"

"A strike!" responded the girl, promptly. She had found it here on coming
and evidently thought it a national institution upon which the whole
scheme of our government was founded.


[Illustration: DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.

  A DECLARATION BY THE REPRESENTATIVES
  OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN
  CONGRESS ASSEMBLED.

               ENGLISH.                                 HEBREW.

  When, in the course of human events,
  it becomes necessary for one people
  to dissolve the political bands which
  have connected them with another,
  and to assume, among the powers of the
  earth, the separate and equal station
  to which the laws of nature and of
  nature's God entitle them, a decent
  respect to the opinions of mankind
  requires that they should declare the
  causes which impel them to the
  separation.

  We hold these truths to be
  self-evident--that all men are created
  equal; that they are endowed by their
  Creator with certain inalienable
  rights; that among these are life,
  liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
  That, to secure these rights,
  governments are instituted among men,
  deriving their just powers from the
  consent of the governed; that,
  whenever any form of government
  becomes destructive of these ends, it
  is the right of the]

[Illustration: JEWISH-GERMAN. Notes. HEBREW.]


It was curious to find the low voices of the children, particularly the
girls, an impediment to instruction in this school. They could sometimes
hardly be heard for the noise in the street, when the heat made it
necessary to have the windows open. But shrillness is not characteristic
even of the Pig-market when it is noisiest and most crowded. Some of the
children had sweet singing voices. One especially, a boy with straight red
hair and a freckled face, chanted in a plaintive minor key the One Hundred
and Thirtieth Psalm, "Out of the depths" etc., and the harsh gutturals of
the Hebrew became sweet harmony until the sad strain brought tears to our
eyes.

The dirt of Ludlow Street is all-pervading and the children do not escape
it. Rather, it seems to have a special affinity for them, or they for the
dirt. The duty of imparting the fundamental lesson of cleanliness devolves
upon a special school officer, a matron, who makes the round of the
classes every morning with her alphabet: a cake of soap, a sponge, and a
pitcher of water, and picks out those who need to be washed. One little
fellow expressed his disapproval of this programme in the first English
composition he wrote, as follows:


[Illustration: (Handwriting)

Indians.

Indians do not want to wash because they like not water. I wish I was a
Indian.]


Despite this hint, the lesson is enforced upon the children, but there is
no evidence that it bears fruit in their homes to any noticeable extent,
as is the case with the Italians I spoke of. The homes are too hopeless,
the grind too unceasing. The managers know it and have little hope of the
older immigrants. It is toward getting hold of their children that they
bend every effort, and with a success that shows how easily these children
can be moulded for good or for bad. Nor do they let go their grasp of them
until the job is finished. The United Hebrew Charities maintain
trade-schools for those who show aptness for such work, and a very
creditable showing they make. The public school receives all those who
graduate from what might be called the American primary in East Broadway.

The smoky torches on many hucksters' carts threw their uncertain yellow
light over Hester Street as I watched the children troop homeward from
school one night. Eight little pedlers hawking their wares had stopped
under the lamp on the corner to bargain with each other for want of cash
customers. They were engaged in a desperate but vain attempt to cheat one
of their number who was deaf and dumb. I bought a quire of note-paper of
the mute for a cent and instantly the whole crew beset me in a fierce
rivalry, to which I put a hasty end by buying out the little mute's poor
stock--ten cents covered it all--and after he had counted out the quires,
gave it back to him. At this act of unheard-of generosity the seven, who
had remained to witness the transfer, stood speechless. As I went my way,
with a sudden common impulse they kissed their hands at me, all rivalry
forgotten in their admiration, and kept kissing, bowing, and salaaming
until I was out of sight. "Not bad children," I mused as I went along,
"good stuff in them, whatever their faults." I thought of the poor boy's
stock, of the cheapness of it, and then it occurred to me that he had
charged me just twice as much for the paper I gave him back as for the
penny quire I bought. But when I went back to give him a piece of my mind
the boys were gone.



CHAPTER IV.

TONY AND HIS TRIBE


I have a little friend somewhere in Mott Street whose picture comes up
before me. I wish I could show it to the reader, but to photograph Tony is
one of the unattained ambitions of my life. He is one of the whimsical
birds one sees when he hasn't got a gun, and then never long enough in one
place to give one a chance to get it. A ragged coat three sizes at least
too large for the boy, though it has evidently been cropped to meet his
case, hitched by its one button across a bare brown breast; one sleeve
patched on the under side with a piece of sole-leather that sticks out
straight, refusing to be reconciled; trousers that boasted a seat once,
but probably not while Tony has worn them; two left boots tied on with
packing twine, bare legs in them the color of the leather, heel and toe
showing through; a shock of sunburnt hair struggling through the rent in
the old straw hat; two frank, laughing eyes under its broken brim--that is
Tony.

He stood over the gutter the day I met him, reaching for a handful of mud
with which to "paste" another hoodlum who was shouting defiance from
across the street. He did not see me, and when my hand touched his
shoulder his whole little body shrank with a convulsive shudder, as from
an expected blow. Quick as a flash he dodged, and turning, out of reach,
confronted the unknown enemy, gripping tight his handful of mud. I had a
bunch of white pinks which a young lady had given me half an hour before
for one of my little friends. "They are yours," I said, and held them out
to him, "take them."

Doubt, delight, and utter bewilderment struggled in the boy's face. He
said not one word, but when he had brought his mind to believe that it
really was so, clutched the flowers with one eager, grimy fist, held them
close against his bare breast, and, shielding them with the other, ran as
fast as his legs could carry him down the street. Not far; fifty feet away
he stopped short, looked back, hesitated a moment, then turned on his
track as fast as he had come. He brought up directly in front of me, a
picture a painter would have loved, ragamuffin that he was, with the
flowers held so tightly against his brown skin, scraped out with one foot
and made one of the funniest little bows.

"Thank you," he said. Then he was off. Down the street I saw squads of
children like himself running out to meet him. He darted past and through
them all, never stopping, but pointing back my way, and in a minute there
bore down upon me a crowd of little ones, running breathless with
desperate entreaty: "Oh, mister! give _me_ a flower." Hot tears of grief
and envy--human passions are much the same in rags and in silks--fell when
they saw I had no more. But by that time Tony was safe.

And where did he run so fast? For whom did he shield the "posy" so
eagerly, so faithfully, that ragged little wretch that was all mud and
patches? I found out afterward when I met him giving his sister a ride in
a dismantled tomato-crate, likely enough "hooked" at the grocer's. It was
for his mother. In the dark hovel he called home, to the level of which
all it sheltered had long since sunk through the brutal indifference of a
drunken father, my lady's pinks blossomed, and, long after they were
withered and yellow, still stood in their cracked jar, visible token of
something that had entered Tony's life and tenement with sweetening touch
that day for the first time. Alas! for the last, too, perhaps. I saw Tony
off and on for a while and then he was as suddenly lost as he was found,
with all that belonged to him. Moved away--put out, probably--and, except
the assurance that they were still somewhere in Mott Street, even the
saloon could give me no clue to them.

I gained Tony's confidence, almost, in the time I knew him. There was a
little misunderstanding between us that had still left a trace of
embarrassment when Tony disappeared. It was when I asked him one day,
while we were not yet "solid," if he ever went to school. He said
"sometimes," and backed off. I am afraid Tony lied that time. The evidence
was against him. It was different with little Katie, my nine-year-old
housekeeper of the sober look. Her I met in the Fifty-second Street
Industrial School, where she picked up such crumbs of learning as were for
her in the intervals of her housework. The serious responsibilities of
life had come early to Katie. On the top floor of a tenement in West
Forty-ninth Street she was keeping house for her older sister and two
brothers, all of whom worked in the hammock factory, earning from $4.50 to
$1.50 a week. They had moved together when their mother died and the
father brought home another wife. Their combined income was something like
$9.50 a week, and the simple furniture was bought on instalments. But it
was all clean, if poor. Katie did the cleaning and the cooking of the
plain kind. They did not run much to fancy cooking, I guess. She scrubbed
and swept and went to school, all as a matter of course, and ran the
house generally, with an occasional lift from the neighbors in the
tenement, who were, if anything, poorer than they. The picture shows what
a sober, patient, sturdy little thing she was, with that dull life wearing
on her day by day. At the school they loved her for her quiet, gentle
ways. She got right up when asked and stood for her picture without a
question and without a smile.

"What kind of work do you do?" I asked, thinking to interest her while I
made ready.

"I scrubs," she replied, promptly, and her look guaranteed that what she
scrubbed came out clean.


[Illustration: "I SCRUBS."--KATIE, WHO KEEPS HOUSE IN WEST FORTY-NINTH
STREET.]


Katie was one of the little mothers whose work never ends. Very early the
cross of her sex had been laid upon the little shoulders that bore it so
stoutly. Tony's, as likely as not, would never begin. There were ear-marks
upon the boy that warranted the suspicion. They were the ear-marks of the
street to which his care and education had been left. The only work of
which it heartily approves is that done by other people. I came upon Tony
once under circumstances that foreshadowed his career with tolerable
distinctness. He was at the head of a gang of little shavers like himself,
none over eight or nine, who were swaggering around in a ring, in the
middle of the street, rigged out in war-paint and hen-feathers, shouting
as they went: "Whoop! We are the Houston Streeters." They meant no harm
and they were not doing any just then. It was all in the future, but it
was there, and no mistake. The game which they were then rehearsing was
one in which the policeman who stood idly swinging his club on the corner
would one day take a hand, and not always the winning one.

The fortunes of Tony and Katie, simple and soon told as they are,
encompass as between the covers of a book the whole story of the children
of the poor, the story of the bad their lives struggle vainly to conquer,
and the story of the good that crops out in spite of it. Sickness, that
always finds the poor unprepared and soon leaves them the choice of
beggary or starvation, hard times, the death of the bread-winner, or the
part played by the growler in the poverty of the home, may vary the theme
for the elders; for the children it is the same sad story, with little
variation, and that rarely of a kind to improve. Happily for their peace
of mind, they are the least concerned about it. In New York, at least, the
poor children are not the stunted repining lot we have heard of as being
hatched in cities abroad. Stunted in body perhaps. It was said of Napoleon
that he shortened the average stature of the Frenchman one inch by getting
all the tall men killed in his wars. The tenement has done that for New
York. Only the other day one of the best known clergymen in the city, who
tries to attract the boys to his church on the East Side by a very
practical interest in them, and succeeds admirably in doing it, told me
that the drill-master of his cadet corps was in despair because he could
barely find two or three among half a hundred lads verging on manhood,
over five feet six inches high. It is queer what different ways there are
of looking at a thing. My medical friend finds in the fact that poverty
stunts the body what he is pleased to call a beautiful provision of nature
to prevent unnecessary suffering: there is less for the poverty to pinch
then. It is self-defence, he says, and he claims that the consensus of
learned professional opinion is with him. Yet, when this shortened
sufferer steals a loaf of bread to make the pinching bear less hard on
what is left, he is called a thief, thrown into jail, and frowned upon by
the community that just now saw in his case a beautiful illustration of
the operation of natural laws for the defence of the man.

Stunted morally, yes! It could not well be otherwise. But stunted in
spirits--never! As for repining, there is no such word in his vocabulary.
He accepts life as it comes to him and gets out of it what he can. If that
is not much, he is not justly to blame for not giving back more to the
community of which by and by he will be a responsible member. The kind of
the soil determines the quality of the crop. The tenement is his soil and
it pervades and shapes his young life. It is the tenement that gives up
the child to the street in tender years to find there the home it denied
him. Its exorbitant rents rob him of the schooling that is his one chance
to elude its grasp, by compelling his enrolment in the army of
wage-earners before he has learned to read. Its alliance with the saloon
guides his baby feet along the well-beaten track of the growler that
completes his ruin. Its power to pervert and corrupt has always to be
considered, its point of view always to be taken to get the perspective
in dealing with the poor, or the cart will seem to be forever getting
before the horse in a way not to be understood. We had a girl once at our
house in the country who left us suddenly after a brief stay and went back
to her old tenement life, because "all the green hurt her eyes so." She
meant just what she said, though she did not know herself what ailed her.
It was the slum that had its fatal grip upon her. She longed for its
noise, its bustle, and its crowds, and laid it all to the green grass and
the trees that were new to her as steady company.

From this tenement the street offered, until the kindergarten came not
long ago, the one escape, does yet for the great mass of children--a
Hobson's choice, for it is hard to say which is the most corrupting. The
opportunities rampant in the one are a sad commentary on the sure
defilement of the other. What could be expected of a standard of decency
like this one, of a household of tenants who assured me that Mrs. M----,
at that moment under arrest for half clubbing her husband to death, was "a
very good, a very decent, woman indeed, and if she did get full, he (the
husband) was not much." Or of the rule of good conduct laid down by a
young girl, found beaten and senseless in the street up in the Annexed
District last autumn: "Them was two of the fellers from Frog Hollow," she
said, resentfully, when I asked who struck her; "them toughs don't know
how to behave theirselves when they see a lady in liquor."

Hers was the standard of the street, the other's that of the tenement.
Together they stamp the child's life with the vicious touch which is
sometimes only the caricature of the virtues of a better soil. Under the
rough burr lie undeveloped qualities of good and of usefulness, rather,
perhaps, of the capacity for them, that crop out in constant exhibitions
of loyalty, of gratitude, and true-heartedness, a never-ending source of
encouragement and delight to those who have made their cause their own and
have in their true sympathy the key to the best that is in the children.
The testimony of a teacher for twenty-five years in one of the ragged
schools, who has seen the shanty neighborhood that surrounded her at the
start give place to mile-long rows of big tenements, leaves no room for
doubt as to the influence the change has had upon the children. With the
disappearance of the shanties--homesteads in effect, however humble--and
the coming of the tenement crowds, there has been a distinct descent in
the scale of refinement among the children, if one may use the term. The
crowds and the loss of home privacy, with the increased importance of the
street as a factor, account for it. The general tone has been lowered,
while at the same time, by reason of the greater rescue-efforts put
forward, the original amount of ignorance has been reduced. The big loafer
of the old day, who could neither read nor write, has been eliminated to a
large extent, and his loss is our gain. The tough who has taken his place
is able at least to spell his way through "The Bandits' Cave," the pattern
exploits of Jesse James and his band, and the newspaper accounts of the
latest raid in which he had a hand. Perhaps that explains why he is more
dangerous than the old loafer. The transition period is always critical,
and a little learning is proverbially a dangerous thing. It may be that in
the day to come, when we shall have got the grip of our compulsory school
law in good earnest, there will be an educational standard even for the
tough, by which time he will, I think, have ceased to exist from sheer
disgust, if for no other reason. At present he is in no immediate danger
of extinction from such a source. It is not how much book-learning the boy
can get, but how little he can get along with, and that is very little
indeed. He knows how to make a little go a long way, however, and to serve
on occasion a very practical purpose; as, for instance, when I read
recently on the wall of the church next to my office in Mulberry Street
this observation, chalked in an awkward hand half the length of the wall:
"Mary McGee is engagd to the feller in the alley." Quite apt, I should
think, to make Mary show her colors and to provoke the fight with the
rival "feller" for which the writer was evidently spoiling. I shall get
back, farther on, to the question of the children's schooling. It is so
beset by lies ordinarily as to be seldom answered as promptly and as
honestly as in the case of a little fellow whom I found in front of St.
George's Church, engaged in the æsthetic occupation of pelting the
Friends' Seminary across the way with mud. There were two of them, and
when I asked them the question that estranged Tony, the wicked one dug his
fists deep down in the pockets of his blue-jeans trousers and shook his
head gloomily. He couldn't read; didn't know how; never did.

"He?" said the other, who could, "he? He don't learn nothing. He throws
stones." The wicked one nodded. It was the extent of his education.

But if the three R's suffer neglect among the children of the poor, their
lessons in the three D's--Dirt, Discomfort, and Disease--that form the
striking features of their environment, are early and thorough enough. The
two latter, at least, are synonymous terms, if dirt and discomfort are
not. Any dispensary doctor knows of scores of cases of ulceration of the
eye that are due to the frequent rubbing of dirty faces with dirty little
hands. Worse filth diseases than that find a fertile soil in the
tenements, as the health officers learn when typhus and small-pox break
out. It is not the desperate diet of ignorant mothers, who feed their
month-old babies with sausage, beer, and Limburger cheese, that alone
accounts for the great infant mortality among the poor in the tenements.
The dirt and the darkness in their homes contribute their full share, and
the landlord is more to blame than the mother. He holds the key to the
situation which her ignorance fails to grasp, and it is he who is
responsible for much of the unfounded and unnecessary prejudice against
foreigners, who come here willing enough to fall in with the ways of the
country that are shown to them. The way he shows them is not the way of
decency. I am convinced that the really injurious foreigners in this
community, outside of the walking delegate's tribe, are the foreign
landlords of two kinds: those who, born in poverty abroad, have come up
through tenement-house life to the ownership of tenement property, with
all the bad traditions of such a career; and the absentee landlords of
native birth who live and spend their rents away from home, without
knowing or caring what the condition of their property is, so the income
from it suffer no diminution. There are honorable exceptions to the first
class, but few enough to the latter to make them hardly worth mentioning.

To a good many of the children, or rather to their parents, this latter
statement and the experience that warrants it must have a sadly familiar
sound. The Irish element is still an important factor in New York's
tenements, though it is yielding one stronghold after another to the
Italian foe. It lost its grip on the Five Points and the Bend long ago,
and at this writing the time seems not far distant when it must vacate for
good also that classic ground of the Kerryman, Cherry Hill. It is Irish
only by descent, however; the children are Americans, as they will not
fail to convince the doubter. A school census of this district, the Fourth
Ward, taken last winter, discovered 2,016 children between the ages of
five and fourteen years. No less than 1,706 of them were put down as
native born, but only one-fourth, or 519, had American parents. Of the
others 572 had Irish and 536 Italian parents. Uptown, in many of the poor
tenement localities, in Poverty Gap, in Battle Row, and in Hell's Kitchen,
in short, wherever the gang flourishes, the Celt is still supreme and
seasons the lump enough to give it his own peculiar flavor, easily
discovered through its "native" guise in the story of the children of the
poor.

The case of one Irish family that exhibits a shoal which lies always close
to the track of ignorant poverty is even now running in my mind, vainly
demanding a practical solution. I may say that I have inherited it from
professional philanthropists, who have struggled with it for more than
half a dozen years without finding the way out they sought.

There were five children when they began, depending on a mother who had
about given up the struggle as useless. The father was a loafer. When I
took them the children numbered ten, and the struggle was long since over.
The family bore the pauper stamp, and the mother's tears, by a transition
imperceptible probably to herself, had become its stock in trade. Two of
the children were working, earning all the money that came in; those that
were not lay about in the room, watching the charity visitor in a way and
with an intentness that betrayed their interest in the mother's appeal. It
required very little experience to make the prediction that, shortly, ten
pauper families would carry on the campaign of the one against society, if
those children lived to grow up. And they were not to blame, of course. I
scarcely know which was most to be condemned, when we tried to break the
family up by throwing it on the street as a necessary step to getting
possession of the children--the politician who tripped us up with his
influence in the court, or the landlord who had all those years made the
poverty on the second floor pan out a golden interest. It was the
outrageous rent for the filthy den that had been the most effective
argument with sympathizing visitors. Their pity had represented to him, as
nearly as I could make out, for eight long years, a capital of $2,600
invested at six per cent., payable monthly. The idea of moving was
preposterous; for what other landlord would take in a homeless family with
ten children and no income?

Children anywhere suffer little discomfort from mere dirt. As an
ingredient of mud-pies it may be said to be not unwholesome. Play with the
dirt is better than none without it. In the tenements the children and the
dirt are sworn and loyal friends. In his early raids upon the established
order of society, the gutter backs the boy up to the best of its ability,
with more or less exasperating success. In the hot summer days, when he
tries to sneak into the free baths with every fresh batch, twenty times a
day, wretched little repeater that he is, it comes to his rescue against
the policeman at the door. Fresh mud smeared on the face serves as a
ticket of admission which no one can refuse. At least so he thinks, but in
his anxiety he generally overdoes it and arouses the suspicion of the
policeman, who, remembering that he was once a boy himself, feels of his
hair and reads his title there. When it is a mission that is to be raided,
or a "dutch" grocer's shop, or a parade of the rival gang from the next
block, the gutter furnishes ammunition that is always handy. Dirt is a
great leveller;[6] it is no respecter of persons or principles, and
neither is the boy where it abounds. In proportion as it accumulates such
raids increase, the Fresh Air Funds lose their grip, the saloon
flourishes, and turbulence grows. Down from the Fourth Ward, where there
is not much else, this wail came recently from a Baptist Mission Church:
"The Temple stands in a hard spot and neighborhood. The past week we had
to have arrested two fellows for throwing stones into the house and
causing annoyance. On George Washington's Birthday we had not put a flag
over the door on Henry Street half an hour before it was stolen. When they
neither respect the house of prayer or the Stars and Stripes one can feel
young America is in a bad state." The pastor added that it was a comfort
to him to know that the "fellows" were Catholics; but I think he was
hardly quite fair to them there. Religious enthusiasm very likely had
something to do with it, but it was not the moving cause. The dirt was; in
other words: the slum.

Such diversions are among the few and simple joys of the street child's
life, Not all it affords, but all the street has to offer. The Fresh Air
Funds, the free excursions, and the many charities that year by year
reach farther down among the poor for their children have done and are
doing a great work in setting up new standards, ideals, and ambitions in
the domain of the street. One result is seen in the effort of the poorest
mothers to make their little ones presentable when there is anything to
arouse their maternal pride. But all these things must and do come from
the outside. Other resources than the sturdy independence that is its
heritage the street has none. Rightly used, that in itself is the greatest
of all. Chief among its native entertainments is that crowning joy, the
parade of the circus when it comes to town in the spring. For many hours
after that has passed, as after every public show that costs nothing, the
matron's room at Police Headquarters is crowded with youngsters who have
followed it miles and miles from home, devouring its splendors with hungry
eyes until the last elephant, the last soldier, or the last policeman
vanished from sight and the child comes back to earth again and to the
knowledge that he is lost.

If the delights of his life are few, its sorrows do not sit heavily upon
him either. He is in too close and constant touch with misery, with death
itself, to mind it much. To find a family of children living, sleeping,
and eating in the room where father or mother lies dead, without seeming
to be in any special distress about it, is no unusual experience. But if
they do not weigh upon him, the cares of home leave their mark; and it is
a bad mark. All the darkness, all the drudgery is there. All the freedom
is in the street; all the brightness in the saloon to which he early finds
his way. And as he grows in years and wisdom, if not in grace, he gets his
first lessons in spelling and in respect for the law from the card behind
the bar, with the big black letters: "No liquor sold here to children."
His opportunities for studying it while the barkeeper fills his growler
are unlimited and unrestricted.

Someone has said that our poor children do not know how to play. He had
probably seen a crowd of tenement children dancing in the street to the
accompaniment of a hand-organ and been struck by their serious mien and
painfully formal glide and carriage--if it was not a German neighborhood,
where the "proprieties" are less strictly observed--but that was only
because it was a ball and it was incumbent on the girls to act as ladies.
Only ladies attend balls. "London Bridge is falling down," with as loud a
din in the streets of New York, every day, as it has fallen these hundred
years and more in every British town, and the children of the Bend march
"all around the mulberry-bush" as gleefully as if there were a green shrub
to be found within a mile of their slum. It is the slum that smudges the
game too easily, and the kindergarten work comes in in helping to wipe off
the smut. So far from New York children being duller at their play than
those of other cities and lands, I believe the reverse to be true. Only in
the very worst tenements have I observed the children's play to languish.
In such localities two policemen are required to do the work of one.
Ordinarily they lack neither spirit nor inventiveness. I watched a crowd
of them having a donkey party in the street one night, when those parties
were all the rage. The donkey hung in the window of a notion store, and a
knot of tenement-house children with tails improvised from a newspaper,
and dragged in the gutter to make them stick, were staggering blindly
across the sidewalk trying to fix them in place on the pane. They got a
heap of fun out of the game, quite as much, it seemed to me, as any
crowd of children could have got in a fine parlor, until the storekeeper
came out with his club. Every cellar-door becomes a toboggan-slide where
the children are around, unless it is hammered full of envious nails;
every block a ball-ground when the policeman's back is turned, and every
roof a kite-field; for that innocent amusement is also forbidden by city
ordinance "below Fourteenth Street."


[Illustration: PRESENT TENANTS OF JOHN ERICSSON'S OLD HOUSE NOW THE BEACH
STREET INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL.]


It is rather that their opportunities of mischief are greater than those
of harmless amusement; made so, it has sometimes seemed to me, with
deliberate purpose to hatch the "tough." Given idleness and the street,
and he will grow without other encouragement than an occasional "fanning"
of a policeman's club. And the street has to do for a playground. There is
no other. Central Park is miles away. The small parks that were ordered
for his benefit five years ago exist yet only on paper. Games like
kite-flying and ball-playing, forbidden but not suppressed, as happily
they cannot be, become from harmless play a successful challenge of law
and order, that points the way to later and worse achievements. Every year
the police forbid the building of election bonfires, and threaten
vengeance upon those who disobey the ordinance; and every election night
sees the sky made lurid by them from one end of the town to the other,
with the police powerless to put them out. Year by year the boys grow
bolder in their raids on property when their supply of firewood has given
out, until the destruction wrought at the last election became a matter of
public scandal. Stoops, wagons, and in one place a show-case, containing
property worth many hundreds of dollars, were fed to the flames. It has
happened that an entire frame house has been carried off piecemeal, and
burned up election night. The boys, organized in gangs, with the one
condition of membership that all must "give in wood," store up enormous
piles of fuel for months before, and though the police find and raid a
good many of them, incidentally laying in supplies of kindling-wood for
the winter, the pile grows again in a single night, as the neighborhood
reluctantly contributes its ash-barrels to the cause. The germ of the
gangs that terrorize whole sections of the city at intervals, and feed our
courts and our jails, may without much difficulty be discovered in these
early and rather grotesque struggles of the boys with the police.

Even on the national day of freedom the boy is not left to the enjoyment
of his firecracker without the ineffectual threat of the law. I am not
defending the firecracker, but arraigning the failure of the law to carry
its point and maintain its dignity. It has robbed the poor child of the
street-band, one of his few harmless delights, grudgingly restoring the
hand-organ, but not the monkey that lent it its charm. In the band that,
banished from the street, sneaks into the back-yard, horns and bassoons
hidden under bulging coats, the boy hails no longer the innocent purveyor
of amusement, but an ally in the fight with the common enemy, the
policeman. In the Thanksgiving Day and New Year parades which the latter
formally permits, he furnishes them with the very weapon of gang
organization which they afterward turn against him to his hurt.

And yet this boy who, when taken from his alley into the country for the
first time, cries out in delight, "How blue the sky and what a lot of it
there is!"--not much of it at home in his barrack--has in the very love of
dramatic display that sends him forth to beat a policeman with his own
club or die in the attempt, in the intense vanity that is only a
perverted form of pride, capable of any achievement, a handle by which he
may be most easily grasped and led. It cannot be done by gorging him _en
masse_ with apples and gingerbread at a Christmas party.[7] It can be done
only by individual effort, and by the influence of personal character in
direct contact with the child--the great secret of success in all dealings
with the poor. Foul as the gutter he comes from, he is open to the
reproach of "bad form" as few of his betters. Greater even than his desire
eventually to "down" a policeman, is his ambition to be a "gentleman," as
his sister's to be a "lady." The street is responsible for the caricature
either makes of the character. On a play-bill I saw in an East Side
street, only the other day, this _repertoire_ set down: "Thursday--The
Bowery Tramp; Friday--The Thief." It was a theatre I knew newsboys, and
the other children of the street who were earning money, to frequent in
shoals. The play-bill suggested the sort of training they received there.

I wish I might tell the story of some of these very lads whom certain
enthusiastic friends of mine tried to reclaim on a plan of their own, in
which the gang became a club and its members "Knights," who made and
executed their own laws; but I am under heavy bonds of promises made to
keep the peace on this point. The fact is, I tried it once, and my
well-meant effort made no end of trouble. I had failed to appreciate the
stride of civilization that under my friends' banner marched about the
East Side with seven-league boots. They read the magazines down there and
objected, rather illogically, to being "shown up." The incident was a
striking revelation of the wide gap between the conditions that prevail
abroad and those that confront us. Fancy the _Westminster Review_ or the
_Nineteenth Century_ breeding contention among the denizens of East London
by any criticism of their ways? Yet even from Hell's Kitchen had I not
long before been driven forth with my camera by a band of angry women, who
pelted me with brickbats and stones on my retreat, shouting at me never to
come back unless I wanted my head broken, or let any other "duck" from the
(mentioning a well-known newspaper of which I was unjustly suspected of
being an emissary) poke his nose in there. Reform and the magazines had
not taken that stronghold of toughdom yet, but their vanguard, the
newspapers, had evidently got there.

"It only shows," said one of my missionary friends, commenting upon the
East Side incident, "that we are all at sixes and at sevens here." It is
our own fault. In our unconscious pride of caste most of us are given to
looking too much and too long at the rough outside. These same workers
bore cheerful testimony to the "exquisite courtesy" with which they were
received every day in the poorest homes; a courtesy that might not always
know the ways of polite society, but always tried its best to find them.
"In over fifty thousand visits," reports a physician, whose noble life is
given early and late to work that has made her name blessed where sorrow
and suffering add their sting to bitter poverty, "personal violence has
been attempted on but two occasions. In each case children had died from
neglect of parents, who, in their drunken rage, would certainly have taken
the life of the physician, had she not promptly run away." Patience and
kindness prevailed even with these. The doctor did not desert them, even
though she had had to run, believing that one of the mothers at least
drank because she was poor and unable to find work; and now, after five
years of many trials and failures, she reports that the family is at work
and happy and grateful in rooms "where the sun beams in." Gratitude,
indeed, she found to be their strong point, always seeking an outlet in
expression--evidence of a lack of bringing up, certainly. "Once," she
says, "the thankful fathers of two of our patients wished to vote for us,
as 'the lady doctors have no vote.' Their intention was to vote for
General Butler; we have proof that they voted for Cleveland. They have
even placed their own lives in danger for us. One man fought a duel with a
woman, she having said that women doctors did not know as much as men.
After bar-tumblers were used as weapons the question was decided in favor
of women doctors by the man. It seemed but proper that 'the lady doctor'
was called in to bind up the wounds of her champion, while a 'man doctor'
performed the service for the woman."

My friends, in time, by their gentle but firm management, gained the
honest esteem and loyal support of the boys whose manners and minds they
had set out to improve, and through such means worked wonders. While some
of their experiences were exceedingly funny, more were of a kind to show
how easily the material could be moulded, if the hands were only there to
mould it. One of their number, by and by, hung out her shingle in another
street with the word "Doctor" over the bell (not the physician above
referred to), but her "character" had preceded her, and woe to the urchin
who as much as glanced at that when the gang pulled all the other bells
in the block and laughed at the wrath of the tenants. One luckless chap
forgot himself far enough to yank it one night, and immediately an angry
cry went up from the gang, "Who pulled dat bell?" "Mickey did," was the
answer, and Mickey's howls announced to the amused doctor the next minute
that he had been "slugged" and she avenged. This doctor's account of the
first formal call of the gang in the block was highly amusing. It called
in a body and showed a desire to please that tried the host's nerves not a
little. The boys vied with each other in recounting for her entertainment
their encounters with the police enemy, and in exhibiting their intimate
knowledge of the wickedness of the slums in minutest detail. One, who was
scarcely twelve years old, and had lately moved from Bayard Street, knew
all the ins and outs of the Chinatown opium dives, and painted them in
glowing colors. The doctor listened with half-amused dismay, and when the
boys rose to go, told them she was glad they had called. So were they,
they said, and they guessed they would call again the next night.

"Oh! don't come to-morrow," said the doctor, in something of a fright;
"come next week!" She was relieved upon hearing the leader of the gang
reprove the rest of the fellows for their want of style. He bowed with
great precision, and announced that he would call "in about two weeks."

The testimony of these workers agrees with that of most others who reach
the girls at an age when they are yet manageable, that the most abiding
results follow with them, though they are harder to get at. The boys
respond more readily, but also more easily fall from grace. The same good
and bad traits are found in both; the same trying superficiality--which
merely means that they are raw material; the same readiness to lie as the
shortest cut out of a scrape; the same generous helpfulness,
characteristic of the poor everywhere. Out of the depth of their bitter
poverty I saw the children in the West Fifty-second Street Industrial
School, last Thanksgiving, bring for the relief of the aged and helpless
and those even poorer than they such gifts as they could--a handful of
ground coffee in a paper bag, a couple of Irish potatoes, a little sugar
or flour, and joyfully offer to carry them home. It was on such a trip I
found little Katie. In her person and work she answered the question
sometimes asked, why we hear so much about the boys and so little of the
girls; because the home and the shop claim their work much earlier and to
a much greater extent, while the boys are turned out to shift for
themselves, and because, therefore, their miseries are so much more
commonplace, and proportionally uninteresting. It is a woman's lot to
suffer in silence. If occasionally she makes herself heard in querulous
protest; if injustice long borne gives her tongue a sharper edge than the
occasion seems to require, it can at least be said in her favor that her
bark is much worse than her bite. The missionary who complains that the
wife nags her husband to the point of making the saloon his refuge, or the
sister her brother until he flees to the street, bears testimony in the
same breath to her readiness to sit up all night to mend the clothes of
the scamp she so hotly denounces. Sweetness of temper or of speech is not
a distinguishing feature of tenement-house life, any more among the
children than with their elders. In a party sent out by our committee for
a summer vacation on a Jersey farm, last summer, was a little knot of six
girls from the Seventh Ward. They had not been gone three days before a
letter came from one of them to the mother of one of the others. "Mrs.
Reilly," it read, "if you have any sinse you will send for your child."
That they would all be murdered was the sense the frightened mother made
out of it. The six came home post haste, the youngest in a state of high
dudgeon at her sudden translation back to the tenement. The lonesomeness
of the farm had frightened the others. She was little more than a baby,
and her desire to go back was explained by one of the rescued ones thus:
"She sat two mortil hours at the table a stuffin' of herself, till the
missus she says, says she, 'Does yer mother lave ye to sit that long at
the table, sis?'" The poor thing was where there was enough to eat for
once in her life, and she was making the most of her opportunity.

Not rarely does this child of common clay rise to a height of heroism that
discovers depths of feeling and character full of unsuspected promise. It
was in March a year ago that a midnight fire, started by a fiend in human
shape, destroyed a tenement in Hester Street, killing a number of the
tenants. On the fourth floor the firemen found one of these penned in with
his little girl and helped them to the window. As they were handing out
the child, she broke away from them suddenly and stepped back into the
smoke to what seemed certain death. The firemen climbing after, groped
around shouting for her to come back. Half-way across the room they came
upon her, gasping and nearly smothered, dragging a doll's trunk over the
floor.

"I could not leave it," she said, thrusting it at the men as they seized
her; "my mother----"

They flung the box angrily through the window. It fell crashing on the
sidewalk and, breaking open, revealed no doll or finery, but the deed for
her dead mother's grave. Little Bessie had not forgotten her, despite her
thirteen years.

Yet Bessie might, likely would, have been found in the front row where
anything was going on or to be had, crowding with the best of them and
thrusting herself and her claim forward regardless of anything or anybody
else. It is a quality in the children which, if not admirable, is at least
natural. The poor have to take their turn always, and too often it never
comes, or, as in the case of the poor young mother, whom one of our
committee found riding aimlessly in a street car with her dying baby, not
knowing where to go or what to do, when it is too late. She took mother
and child to the dispensary. It was crowded and they had to wait their
turn. When it came the baby was dead. It is not to be expected that
children who have lived the lawless life of the street should patiently
put up with such a prospect. That belongs to the discipline of a life of
failure and want. The children know generally what they want and they go
for it by the shortest cut. I found that out, whether I had flowers to
give or pictures to take. In the latter case they reversed my Hell's
Kitchen experience with a vengeance. Their determination to be "took," the
moment the camera hove in sight, in the most striking pose they could
hastily devise, was always the most formidable bar to success I met. The
recollection of one such occasion haunts me yet. They were serving a
Thanksgiving dinner free to all comers at a charitable institution in
Mulberry Street, and more than a hundred children were in line at the door
under the eye of a policeman when I tried to photograph them. Each one of
the forlorn host had been hugging his particular place for an hour,
shivering in the cold as the line slowly advanced toward the door and the
promised dinner, and there had been numberless little spats due to the
anxiety of some one farther back to steal a march on a neighbor nearer the
goal; but the instant the camera appeared the line broke and a howling mob
swarmed about me, up to the very eye of the camera, striking attitudes on
the curb, squatting in the mud in alleged picturesque repose, and shoving
and pushing in a wild struggle to get into the most prominent position.
With immense trouble and labor the policeman and I made a narrow lane
through the crowd from the camera to the curb, in the hope that the line
might form again. The lane was studded, the moment I turned my back, with
dirty faces that were thrust into it from both sides in ludicrous anxiety
lest they should be left out, and in the middle of it two frowsy,
ill-favored girls, children of ten or twelve, took position, hand in hand,
flatly refusing to budge from in front of the camera. Neither jeers nor
threats moved them. They stood their ground with a grim persistence that
said as plainly as words that they were not going to let this, the supreme
opportunity of their lives, pass, cost what it might. In their rags,
barefooted, and in that disdainful pose in the midst of a veritable bedlam
of shrieks and laughter, they were a most ludicrous spectacle. The boys
fought rather shy of them, of one they called "Mag" especially, as it
afterward appeared with good reason. A chunk of wood from the outskirts of
the crowd that hit Mag on the ear at length precipitated a fight in which
the boys struggled ten deep on the pavement, Mag in the middle of the
heap, doing her full share. As a last expedient I bethought myself of a
dog-fight as the means of scattering the mob, and sent around the corner
to organize one. Fatal mistake! At the first suggestive bark the crowd
broke and ran in a body. Not only the hangers-on, but the hungry line
collapsed too in an instant, and the policeman and I were left alone. As
an attraction the dog-fight outranked the dinner.

This unconquerable vanity, if not turned to use for his good, makes a
tough of the lad with more muscle than brains in a perfectly natural way.
The newspapers tickle it by recording the exploits of his gang with
embellishments that fall in exactly with his tastes. Idleness encourages
it. The home exercises no restraint. Parental authority is lost. At a
certain age young men of all social grades know a heap more than their
fathers, or think they do. The young tough has some apparent reason for
thinking that way. He has likely learned to read. The old man has not; he
probably never learned anything, not even to speak the language that his
son knows without being taught. He thinks him "dead slow," of course, and
lays it to his foreign birth. All foreigners are "slow." The father works
hard. The boy thinks he knows a better plan. The old man has lost his grip
on the lad, if he ever had any. That is the reason why the tough appears
in the second generation and disappears in the third. By that time father
and son are again on equal terms, whatever those terms may be. The
exception to this rule is in the poorest Irish settlements where the
manufacture of the tough goes right on, aided by the "inflooence" of the
police court on one side and the saloon on the other. Between the two the
police fall unwillingly into line. I was in the East Thirty-fifth Street
police station one night when an officer came in with two young toughs
whom he had arrested in a lumber yard where they were smoking and
drinking. They had threatened to kill him and the watchman, and loaded
revolvers were taken from them. In spite of this evidence against them,
the Justice in the police court discharged them on the following morning
with a scowl at the officer, and they were both jeering at him before
noon. Naturally he let them alone after that. It was one case of hundreds
of like character. The politician, of course, is behind them. Toughs have
votes just as they have brickbats and brass-knuckles; when the emergency
requires, an assortment to suit of the one as of the other.

The story of the tough's career I told in "How the Other Half Lives," and
there is no need of repeating it here. Its end is generally lurid, always
dramatic. It is that even when it comes to him "with his boots off," in a
peaceful sick bed. In his bravado one can sometimes catch a glimpse of the
sturdiest traits in the Celtic nature, burlesqued and caricatured by the
tenement. One who had been a cut-throat, bruiser, and prizefighter all his
brief life lay dying from consumption in his Fourth Ward tenement not long
ago. He had made what he proudly called a stand-up fight against the
disease until now the end had come and he had at last to give up.

"Maggie," he said, turning to his wife with eyes growing dim, "Mag! I had
an iron heart, but now it is broke. Watch me die!" And Mag told it proudly
at the wake as proof that Pat died game.

And the girl that has come thus far with him? Fewer do than one might
think. Many more switch off their lovers to some honest work this side of
the jail, making decent husbands of them as they are loyal wives, thus
proving themselves truly their better halves. But of her who goes his way
with him--it is not generally a long way for either--what of her end? Let
me tell the story of one that is the story of all. I came across it in the
course of my work as a newspaper man a year ago and I repeat it here as I
heard it then from those who knew, with only the names changed. The girl
is dead, but he is alive and leading an honest life at last, so I am told.
The story is that of "Kid" McDuff's girl.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER V.

THE STORY OF KID McDUFF'S GIRL


The back room of the saloon on the northwest corner of Pell Street and the
Bowery is never cheery on the brightest day. The entrance to the dives of
Chinatown yawns just outside, and in the bar-room gather the vilest of the
wrecks of the Bend and the Sixth Ward slums. But on the morning of which I
speak a shadow lay over it even darker than usual. The shadow of death was
there. In the corner, propped on one chair, with her feet on another, sat
a dead woman. Her glassy eyes looked straight ahead with a stony,
unmeaning stare until the policeman who dozed at a table at the other end
of the room, suddenly waking up and meeting it, got up with a shudder and
covered the face with a handkerchief.

What did they see, those dead eyes? Through its darkened windows what a
review was the liberated spirit making of that sin-worn, wasted life,
begun in innocence and wasted--there? Whatever their stare meant, the
policeman knew little of it and cared less.

"Oh! it is just a stiff," he said, and yawned wearily. There was still
half an hour of his watch.

The clinking of glasses and the shuffle of cowhide boots on the sanded
floor outside grew louder and was muffled again as the door leading to the
bar was opened and shut by a young woman. She lingered doubtfully on the
threshold a moment, then walked with unsteady step across the room toward
the corner where the corpse sat. The light that struggled in from the
gloomy street fell upon her and showed that she trembled, as if with the
ague. Yet she was young, not over twenty-five; but on her heavy eyes and
sodden features there was the stamp death had just blotted from the
other's face with the memory of her sins. Yet, curiously blended with it,
not yet smothered wholly, there was something of the child, something that
had once known a mother's love and pity.

"Poor Kid," she said, stopping beside the body and sinking heavily in a
chair. "He will be sorry, anyhow."

"Who is Kid?" I asked.

"Why, Kid McDuff! You know him? His brother Jim keeps the saloon on
---- Street. Everybody knows Kid."

"Well, what was she to Kid?" I asked, pointing to the corpse.

"His girl," she said promptly. "An' he stuck to her till he was pulled for
the job he didn't do; then he had to let her slide. She stuck to him too,
you bet.

"Annie wasn't no more nor thirteen when she was tuk away from home by the
Kid," the girl went on, talking as much to herself as to me; the policeman
nodded in his chair. "He kep' her the best he could, 'ceptin' when he was
sent up on the Island the time the gang went back on him. Then she kinder
drifted. But she was all right agin he come back and tuk to keepin' bar
for his brother Jim. Then he was pulled for that Bridgeport skin job, and
when he went to the pen she went to the bad, and now----"

Here a thought that had been slowly working down through her besotted mind
got a grip on her strong enough to hold her attention, and she leaned over
and caught me by the sleeve, something almost akin to pity struggling in
her bleary eyes.

"Say, young feller," she whispered hoarsely, "don't spring this too hard.
She's got two lovely brothers. One of them keeps a daisy saloon up on
Eighth Avenue. They're respectable, they are."

Then she went on telling what she knew of Annie Noonan who was sitting
dead there before us. It was not much. She was the child of an honest
shoemaker who came to this country twenty-two or three years before from
his English home, when Annie was a little girl of six or seven. Before she
was in her teens she was left fatherless. At the age of thirteen, when she
was living in an East Side tenement with her mother, the Kid, then a young
tough qualifying with one of the many gangs about the Hook for the
penitentiary, crossed her path. Ever after she was his slave, and followed
where he led.

The path they trod together was not different from that travelled by
hundreds of young men and women to-day. By way of the low dives and
"morgues" with which the East Side abounds, it led him to the Island and
her to the street. When he was sent up the first time, his mother died of
a broken heart. His father, a well-to-do mechanic in the Seventh Ward, had
been spared that misery. He had died before the son was fairly started on
his bad career. The family were communicants at the parish church, and
efforts without end were made to turn the Kid from his career of wicked
folly. His two sisters labored faithfully with him, but without avail.
When the Kid came back from the Island to find his mother dead, he did not
know his oldest sister. Grief had turned her pretty brown hair a snowy
white.

He found his girl a little the worse for rum and late hours than when he
left her, but he "took up" with her again. He was loyal at least. This
time he tried, too, to be honest. His mother's death had shocked him to
the point where his "nerve" gave out. His brother gave him charge of one
of his saloons and the Kid was "at work" keeping bar, with the way to
respectability, as it goes on the East Side, open to him, when one of his
old pals, who had found him out, turned up with a demand for money. He was
a burglar and wanted a hundred dollars to "do up a job" in the country.
The Kid refused, and his brother came in during the quarrel that ensued,
flew into a rage, and grabbing the thief by the collar, threw him into the
street. He went his way shaking his fist and threatening vengeance on
both.

It was not long in coming. A jewelry store in Bridgeport was robbed and
two burglars were arrested. One of them was the man "Jim" McDuff had
thrown out of his saloon. He turned State's evidence and swore that the
Kid was in the job too. He was arrested and held in bail of ten thousand
dollars. The Kid always maintained that he was innocent. His family
believed him, but his past was against him. It was said, too, that back of
the arrest was political persecution. His brother the saloon-keeper, who
mixed politics with his beer, was the under dog just then in the fight in
his ward. The situation was discussed from a practical standpoint in the
McDuff household, and it ended with the Kid going up to Bridgeport and
pleading guilty to theft to escape the worse charge of burglary. He was
sentenced to four years' imprisonment. That was how he got into "the pen."

Annie, after he had been put in jail, went to the dogs on her own account
rather faster than when they made a team. For a time she frequented the
saloons of the Tenth Ward. When she crossed the Bowery at last she was
nearing the end. For a year or two she frequented the disreputable houses
in Elizabeth and Hester Streets. She was supposed to have a room in
Downing Street, but it was the rarest of all events that she was there.

Two weeks before this morning, Fay Leslie, the girl who sat there telling
me her story, met her on the Bowery with a cut and bruised face. She had
been beaten in a fight in a Pell Street saloon with Flossie Lowell, one of
the habitues of Chinatown. Fay took her to Bellevue Hospital, where she
"had a pull with the night watch," she told me, and she was kept there
three or four days. When she came out she drifted back to Pell Street and
took to drinking again. But she was a sick girl.

The night before she was with Fay in the saloon on the corner, when she
complained that she did not feel well. She sat down in a chair and put her
feet on another. In that posture she was found dead a little later, when
her friend went to see how she was getting on.

"Rum killed her, I suppose," I said, when Fay had ended her story.

"Yes! I suppose it did."

"And you," I ventured, "some day it will kill you too, if you do not look
out."

The girl laughed a loud and coarse laugh.

"Me?" she said, "not by a jugful. I've been soaking it fifteen years and I
am alive yet."

The dead girl sat there yet, with the cold, staring eyes, when I went my
way. Outside the drinking went on with vile oaths. The dead wagon had been
sent for, but it had other errands, and had not yet come around to Pell
Street.

Thus ended the story of Kid McDuff's girl.



CHAPTER VI.

THE LITTLE TOILERS


Poverty and child-labor are yoke-fellows everywhere. Their union is
perpetual, indissoluble. The one begets the other. Need sets the child to
work when it should have been at school and its labor breeds low wages,
thus increasing the need. Solomon said it three thousand years ago, and it
has not been said better since: "The destruction of the poor is their
poverty."

It is the business of the State to see to it that its interest in the
child as a future citizen is not imperilled by the compact. Here in New
York we set about this within the memory of the youngest of us. To-day we
have compulsory education and a factory law prohibiting the employment of
young children. All between eight and fourteen years old must go to school
at least fourteen weeks in each year. None may labor in factories under
the age of fourteen; not under sixteen unless able to read and write
simple sentences in English. These are the barriers thrown up against the
inroads of ignorance, poverty's threat. They are barriers of paper. We
have the laws, but we do not enforce them.

By that I do not mean to say that we make no attempt to enforce them. We
do. We catch a few hundred truants each year and send them to
reformatories to herd with thieves and vagabonds worse than they, rather
illogically, since there is no pretence that there would have been room
for them in the schools had they wanted to go there. We set half a dozen
factory inspectors to canvass more than twice as many thousand workshops
and to catechise the children they find there. Some are turned out and go
back the next day to that or some other shop. The great mass that are
under age lie and stay. And their lies go on record as evidence that we
are advancing, and that child-labor is getting to be a thing of the past.
That the horrible cruelty of a former day is; that the children have
better treatment and a better time of it in the shops--often a good enough
time to make one feel that they are better off there learning habits of
industry than running about the streets, so long as there is no way of
_making_ them attend school--I believe from what I have seen. That the law
has had the effect of greatly diminishing the number of child-workers I do
not believe. It has had another and worse effect. It has bred wholesale
perjury among them and their parents. Already they have become so used to
it that it is a matter of sport and a standing joke among them. The child
of eleven at home and at night-school is fifteen in the factory as a
matter of course. Nobody is deceived, but the perjury defeats the purpose
of the law.

More than a year ago, in an effort to get at the truth of the matter of
children's labor, I submitted to the Board of Health, after consultation
with Dr. Felix Adler, who earned the lasting gratitude of the community by
his labors on the Tenement House Commission, certain questions to be asked
concerning the children by the sanitary police, then about to begin a
general census of the tenements. The result was a surprise, and not least
to the health officers. In the entire mass of nearly a million and a
quarter of tenants[8] only two hundred and forty-nine children under
fourteen years of age were found at work in living-rooms. To anyone
acquainted with the ordinary aspect of tenement-house life the statement
seemed preposterous, and there are valid reasons for believing that the
policemen missed rather more than they found even of those that were
confessedly or too evidently under age. They were seeking that which, when
found, would furnish proof of law-breaking against the parent or employer,
a fact of which these were fully aware. Hence their coming uniformed and
in search of children into a house could scarcely fail to give those a
holiday who were not big enough to be palmed off as fourteen at least.
Nevertheless, upon reflection, it seemed probable that the policemen were
nearer the truth than their critics. Their census took no account of the
factory in the back yard, but only of the living rooms, and it was made
during the day. Most of the little slaves, as of those older in years,
were found in the sweater's district on the East Side, where the home work
often only fairly begins after the factory has shut down for the day and
the stores released their army of child-laborers. Had the policemen gone
their rounds after dark they would have found a different state of things.
Between the sweat-shops and the school, which, as I have shown, is made to
reach farther down among the poorest in this Jewish quarter than anywhere
else in this city, the children were fairly accounted for in the daytime.
The record of school attendance in the district shows that forty-seven
attended day-school for every one who went to night-school.

To settle the matter to my own satisfaction I undertook a census of a
number of the most crowded houses, in company with a policeman not in
uniform. The outcome proved that, as regards those houses at least, it was
as I suspected, and I have no doubt they were a fair sample of the rest.
In nine tenements that were filled with home-workers we found five
children at work who owned that they were under fourteen. Two were girls
nine years of age. Two boys said they were thirteen. We found thirteen who
swore that they were of age, proof which the policeman as an uninterested
census-taker would have respected as a matter of course, even though he
believed with me that the children lied. On the other hand, in seven
back-yard factories we found a total of 63 children, of whom 5 admitted
being under age, while of the rest 45 seemed surely so. To the other 13 we
gave the benefit of the doubt, but I do not think they deserved it. All
the 63 were to my mind certainly under fourteen, judging not only from
their size, but from the whole appearance of the children. My subsequent
experience confirmed me fully in this belief. Most of them were able to
write their names after a fashion. Few spoke English, but that might have
been a subterfuge. One of the home-workers, a marvellously small lad whose
arms were black to the shoulder from the dye in the cloth he was sewing,
and who said in his broken German, without evincing special interest in
the matter, that he had gone to school "e' bische'," referred us to his
"mother" for a statement as to his age. The "mother," who proved to be the
boss's wife, held a brief consultation with her husband and then came
forward with a verdict of sixteen. When we laughed rather incredulously
the man offered to prove by his marriage certificate that the boy must be
sixteen. The effect of this demonstration was rather marred, however, by
the inopportune appearance of another tailor, who, ignorant of the crisis,
claimed the boy as his. The situation was dramatic. The tailor with the
certificate simply shrugged his shoulders and returned to his work,
leaving the boy to his fate.

One girl, who could not have been twelve years old, was hard at work at a
sewing-machine in a Division Street shirt factory when we came in. She got
up and ran the moment she saw us, but we caught her in the next room
hiding behind a pile of shirts. She said at once that she was fourteen
years old but didn't work there. She "just came in." The boss of the shop
was lost in astonishment at seeing her when we brought her back. He could
not account at all for her presence. There were three boys at work in the
room who said "sixteen" without waiting to be asked. Not one of them was
fourteen. The habit of saying fourteen or sixteen--the fashion varies with
the shops and with the degree of the child's educational
acquirements--soon becomes an unconscious one with the boy. He plumps it
out without knowing it. While occupied with these investigations I once
had my boots blacked by a little shaver, hardly knee-high, on a North
River ferry-boat. While he was shining away, I suddenly asked him how old
he was. "Fourteen, sir!" he replied promptly, without looking up.

In a Hester Street house we found two little girls pulling basting-thread.
They were both Italians and said that they were nine. In the room in which
one of them worked thirteen men and two women were sewing. The child could
speak English. She said that she was earning a dollar a week and worked
every day from seven in the morning till eight in the evening. This
sweat-shop was one of the kind that comes under the ban of the new law,
passed last winter--that is, if the factory inspector ever finds it. Where
the crowds are greatest and the pay poorest, the Italian laborer's wife
and child have found their way in since the strikes among the sweater's
Jewish slaves, outbidding even these in the fierce strife for bread.

Even the crowding, the feverish haste of the half-naked men and women, and
the litter and filth in which they worked, were preferable to the silence
and desolation we encountered in one shop up under the roof of a Broome
Street tenement. The work there had given out--there had been none these
two months, said the gaunt, hard-faced woman who sat eating a crust of dry
bread and drinking water from a tin pail at the empty bench. The man sat
silent and moody in a corner; he was sick. The room was bare. The only
machine left was not worth taking to the pawnshop. Two dirty children,
naked but for a torn undershirt apiece, were fishing over the stair-rail
with a bent pin on an idle thread. An old rag was their bait.

From among a hundred and forty hands on two big lofts in a Suffolk Street
factory we picked seventeen boys and ten girls who were patently under
fourteen years of age, but who all had certificates, sworn to by their
parents, to the effect that they were sixteen. One of them whom we judged
to be between nine and ten, and whose teeth confirmed our diagnosis--the
second bicuspids in the lower jaw were just coming out--said that he had
worked there "by the year." The boss, deeming his case hopeless, explained
that he only "made sleeves and went for beer." Two of the smallest girls
represented themselves as sisters, respectively sixteen and seventeen, but
when we came to inquire which was the oldest, it turned out that she was
the sixteen-year one. Several boys scooted as we came up the stairs. When
stopped they claimed to be visitors. I was told that this sweater had been
arrested once by the Factory Inspector, but had successfully barricaded
himself behind his pile of certificates. I caught the children laughing
and making faces at us behind our backs as often as these were brought out
anywhere. In an Attorney Street "pants" factory we counted thirteen boys
and girls who could not have been of age, and on a top floor in Ludlow
Street, among others, two brothers, sewing coats, who said that they were
thirteen and fourteen, but, when told to stand up, looked so ridiculously
small as to make even their employer laugh. Neither could read, but the
oldest could sign his name and did it thus, from right to left:


[Illustration: (signature)]


It was the full extent of his learning, and all he would probably ever
receive.

He was one of many Jewish children we came across who could neither read
nor write. Most of them answered that they had never gone to school. They
were mostly those of larger growth, bordering on fourteen, whom the
charity school managers find it next to impossible to reach, the children
of the poorest and most ignorant immigrants, whose work is imperatively
needed to make both ends meet at home, the "thousand" the school census
failed to account for. To banish them from the shop serves no useful
purpose. They are back the next day, if not sooner. One of the Factory
Inspectors told me of how recently he found a little boy in a sweat-shop
and sent him home. He went up through the house after that and stayed up
there quite an hour. On his return it occurred to him to look in to see
if the boy was gone. He was back and hard at work, and with him were two
other boys of his age who, though they claimed to have come in with dinner
for some of the hands, were evidently workers there.

So much for the sweat-shops. Jewish, Italian, and Bohemian, the story is
the same always. In the children that are growing up, to "vote as would
their master's dogs if allowed the right of suffrage," the community reaps
its reward in due season for allowing such things to exist. It is a kind
of interest in the payment of which there is never default. The physician
gets another view of it. "Not long ago," says Dr. Annie S. Daniel, in the
last report of the out-practice of the Infirmary for Women and Children,
"we found in such an apartment five persons making cigars, including the
mother. Two children were ill with diphtheria. Both parents attended to
the children; they would syringe the nose of each child and, without
washing their hands, return to their cigars. We have repeatedly observed
the same thing when the work was manufacturing clothing and
under-garments, to be bought as well by the rich as the poor. Hand-sewed
shoes, made for a fashionable Broadway shoe store, were sewed at home by a
man in whose family were three children with scarlet fever. And such
instances are common. Only death or lack of work closes tenement-house
manufactories. When reported to the Board of Health, the inspector at once
prohibits further manufacture during the continuance of the disease, but
his back is scarcely turned before the people return to their work. When
we consider that stopping this work means no food and no roof over their
heads, the fact that the disease may be carried by their work cannot be
expected to impress the people."


[Illustration: SHINE, SIR?]


And she adds: "Wages have steadily decreased. Among the women who earned
the whole or part of the income the finishing of pantaloons was the most
common occupation. For this work in 1881 they received ten to fifteen
cents per pair; for the same work in 1891 three to five, at the most ten
cents per pair. When the women have paid the express charges to and from
the factory there is little margin left for profit. The women doing this
work claim that wages are reduced because of the influx of Italian women."
The rent has not fallen, however, and the need of every member of the
family contributing by his or her work to its keep is greater than ever.
The average total wages of 160 families whom the doctor personally treated
and interrogated during the year was $5.99 per week, while the average
rent was $8.62-3/4. The list included twenty-three different occupations
and trades. The maximum wages was $19, earned by three persons in one
family; the minimum $1.50, by a woman finishing pantaloons and living in
one room for which she paid $4 a month rent! In nearly every instance
observed by Dr. Daniel, the children's wages, when there were working
children, was the greater share of the family income. A specimen instance
is that of a woman with a consumptive husband, who is under her treatment.
The wife washes and goes out by the day, when she can get such work to do.
The three children, aged eleven, seven, and five years, not counting the
baby for a wonder, work at home covering wooden buttons with silk at four
cents a gross. The oldest goes to school, but works with the rest evenings
and on Saturday and Sunday, when the mother does the finishing. Their
combined earnings are from $3 to $6 a week, the children earning
two-thirds. The rent is $8 a month.

The doctor's observations throw a bright side-light upon the economic home
conditions that lie at the root of this problem of child labor in the
factories. With that I have not done. Taking the Factory Inspector's
report for 1890, the last at that time available, I found that in that
year his deputies got around to 2,147 of the 11,000 workshops (the number
given in the report) in the Second district, which is that portion of New
York south of Twenty-third Street. In other words, they visited less than
one-fifth of them all. They found 1,102 boys and 1,954 girls under sixteen
at work; 3,485 boys under eighteen, and 12,701 girls under twenty-one, as
nearly as I could make the footings. The figures alone are instructive, as
showing the preponderance of girls in the shops. The report, speaking of
the State as a whole, congratulates the community upon the alleged fact
"that the policy of employing very young children in manufactories has
been practically abolished." It states that "since the enactment of the
law the sentiment among employers has become nearly unanimous in favor of
its stringent enforcement," and that it "has had the further important
effect of preventing newly arrived non-English speaking foreigners from
forcing their children into factories before they learned the language of
the country," these being "now compelled to send their children to school,
for a time at least, until they can qualify under the law." Further, "the
system of requiring sworn certificates, giving the name, date, and place
of birth of all children under sixteen years of age ... has resulted in
causing parents to be very cautious about making untrue statements of the
ages of their children." The deputies "are aware of the various
subterfuges which have been tried in order to evade the law and put
children at labor before the legal time," and the Factory Inspector is
"happy to say that they are not often imposed upon by such tactics."

Without wading through nearly seventy pages of small print it was not
possible to glean from the report how many of the "under sixteen" workers
were really under fourteen, or so adjudged. A summary of what has been
accomplished since 1886 showed that 1,614 children under fourteen were
discharged by the Inspector in the Second District in that time, and that
415 were discharged because they could not read or write simple sentences
in the English language. The "number of working children who could not
read and write English" was in 1890 alone 252, according to the report, or
more than one-half of the whole number discharged in the four years, which
does not look as if the law had had much effect in that way, at least in
New York city. I determined to see for myself what were the facts.

I visited a number of factories, in a few instances accompanied by the
deputy factory inspector, more frequently alone. Where it was difficult to
gain admission I watched at the door when the employees were going to or
coming from work, finding that on the whole the better plan, as affording
a fairer view of the children and a better opportunity to judge of their
age than when they sat at their work-benches. I found many shops in which
there were scarcely any children, some from which they had been driven, so
I was informed by the inspectors. But where manufacturers were willing to
employ their labor--and this I believe to be quite generally the case
where children's labor can be made to pay--I found the age certificate
serving as an excellent protection for the employer, never for the child.
I found the law considered as a good joke by some conscienceless men, who
hardly took the trouble to see that the certificates were filled out
properly; loudly commended by others whom it enabled, at the expense of a
little perjury in which they had no hand, to fill up their shops with
cheap labor, with perfect security to themselves. The bookkeeper in an
establishment of the conscienceless kind told me with glee how a boy who
had been bounced there three times in one year, upon his return each time
had presented a sworn certificate giving a different age. He was fifteen,
sixteen, and seventeen years old upon the records of the shop, until the
inspectors caught him one day and proved him only thirteen. I found boys
at work, posing as seventeen, who had been so recorded in the same shop
three full years, and were thirteen at most. As seventeen-year freaks they
could have made more money in a dime museum than at the work-bench, only
the museum would have required something more convincing than the
certificate that satisfied the shop. Some of these boys were working at
power-presses and doing other work beyond their years. An examination of
their teeth often disproved their stories as to their age. It was not
always possible to make this test, for the children seemed to see
something funny in it, and laughed and giggled so, especially the girls,
as to make it difficult to get a good look. Some of the girls, generally
those with decayed teeth,[9] would pout and refuse to show them. These
were usually American girls, that is to say, they were born here. The
greater number of the child-workers I questioned were foreigners, and our
birth returns could have given no clue to them. The few natives were alert
and on the defensive from the moment they divined my purpose. They easily
defeated it by giving a false address.

I finally picked out a factory close to my office where Italian girls were
employed in large numbers, and made it my business to ascertain the real
ages of the children. They seemed to me, going and coming, to average
twelve or thirteen years. The year before the factory inspector had
reported that nearly a hundred girls "under sixteen" were employed there.
She had discharged sixty of them as unable to read or write English. I
went to see the manufacturers. They were not disposed to help me and fell
back on their certificates--no child was employed by them without
one--until I told them that my purpose was not to interfere with their
business but to prove that a birth-certificate was the only proper warrant
for employment of child-labor.

"Why," said the manufacturer, in his astonishment forgetting that he had
just told me his children were all of age, "my dear sir! would you throw
them all out of work?"

It was what I expected. I found out eventually that a number of the
children attended the evening classes in the Leonard Street Italian
School, and there one rainy night I corralled twenty-three of them, all
but one officially certified under oath to be fourteen or sixteen. But for
the rain I might have found twice the number. The twenty-three I polled,
comparing their sworn age with the entry in the school register, which the
teachers knew to be correct. This was the result: one was eleven years old
and had worked in the factory a year; one, also eleven, had just been
engaged and was going for her certificate that night; three were twelve
years old, and had worked in the factory from one month to a year; seven
were thirteen, and of them three had worked in the shop two years, the
others one; nine were fourteen; one of them had been there three years,
four others two years, the rest shorter terms; one was fifteen and had
worked in the factory three years; the last and tallest was sixteen and
had been employed in the one shop four years. She said with a laugh that
she had a "certificate of sixteen" when she first went there. Not one of
them all was of legal age when she went to work in the shop, under the
warrant of her parents' oath. The majority were not even then legally
employed, since of those who had passed fourteen there were several who
could not read simple sentences in English intelligibly; yet they had been
at work in the factory for months and years. One of the eleven-year
workers, who felt insulted somehow, said spitefully that "I needn't
bother, there was lots of other girls in the shop younger than she." I
have no doubt she was right. I should add that the firm was a highly
respectable one, and its members of excellent social standing.

I learned incidentally where the convenient certificates came from, at
least those that were current in that school. They were issued, the
children said, free of charge, by a benevolent undertaker in the ward. I
thought at first that it was a bid for business, or real helpfulness. The
neighborhood undertaker is often found figuring suggestively as the
nearest friend of the poor in his street, when they are in trouble. But I
found out afterward that it was politics combined with business. The
undertaker was an Irishman and an active organizer of his district.
Unpolitical notaries charged twenty-five cents for each certificate. This
one made them out for nothing. All they had to do was to call for them.
The girls laughed scornfully at the idea of there being anything wrong in
the transaction. Their parents swore in a good cause. They needed the
money. The end conveniently justified the means in their case. Besides
"they merely had to touch the pen." Evidently, any argument in favor of
education could scarcely be expected to have effect upon parents who thus
found in their own ignorance a valid defence against an accusing
conscience as well as a source of added revenue.

My experience satisfied me that the factory law has had little effect in
prohibiting child labor in the factories of New York City, although it may
have had some in stimulating attendance at the night schools. The census
figures, when they appear, will be able to throw no valuable light on the
subject. The certificate lie naturally obstructs the census as it does the
factory law. The one thing that is made perfectly clear by even such
limited inquiry as I have been able to make, is that a birth certificate
should be substituted for the present sworn warrant, if it is intended to
make a serious business of the prohibition. In the piles upon piles of
these which I saw, I never came across one copy of the birth registry.
There are two obstacles to such a change. One is that our birth returns
are at present incomplete; the other, that most of the children are not
born here. Concerning the first, the Registrar of Vital Statistics
estimates that he is registering nearly or quite a thousand births a month
less than actually occur in New York; but even that is a great improvement
upon the record of a few years ago. The registered birthrate is increasing
year by year, and experience has shown that a determination on the part of
the Board of Health to prosecute doctors and midwives who neglect their
duty brings it up with a rush many hundreds in a few weeks. A wholesome
strictness at the Health Office on this point would in a short time make
it a reliable guide for the Factory Inspector in the enforcement of the
law. The other objection is less serious than it appears at first sight.
Immigrants might be required to provide birth certificates from their old
homes, where their children are sure to be registered under the stringent
laws of European governments. But as a matter of fact that would not often
be necessary. They all have passports in which the name and ages of their
children are set down. The claim that they had purposely registered them
as younger to cheapen transportation, which they would be sure to make,
need not be considered seriously. One lie is as good and as easy as
another.

Another lesson we may learn with advantage from some old-country
governments, which we are apt to look down upon as "slow," is to punish
the parents for the truancy of their children, whether they are found
running in the street or working in a shop when they should have been at
school. Greed, the natural child of poverty, often has as much to do with
it as real need. In the case of the Italians and the Jewish girls it is
the inevitable marriage-portion, without which they would stand little
chance of getting a husband, that dictates the sacrifice. One little one
of twelve in a class in the Leonard Street School, who had been working on
coats in a sweat-shop nine months, and had become expert enough to earn
three dollars a week, told me that she had $200 in bank, and that her
sister, also a worker, was as forehanded. Their teacher supported her
story. But often a meaner motive than the desire to put money in bank
forges the child's fetters. I came across a little girl in an East Side
factory who pleaded so pitifully that she had to work, and looked so poor
and wan, that I went to her home to see what it was like. It was on the
top floor of a towering tenement. The mother, a decent German woman, was
sewing at the window, doing her share, while at the table her husband, a
big, lazy lout who weighed two hundred pounds if he weighed one, lolled
over a game of checkers with another vagabond like himself. A half-empty
beer-growler stood between them. The contrast between that pitiful child
hard at work in the shop, and the big loafer taking his ease, was enough
to make anybody lose patience, and I gave him the piece of my mind he so
richly deserved. But it rolled off him as water rolls off a duck. He
merely ducked his head, shifted his bare feet under the table, and told
his crony to go on with the play.

It is only when the child rebels in desperation against such atrocious
cruelty and takes to the street as his only refuge, that his tyrant hands
him over to the justice so long denied him. Then the school comes as an
avenger, not as a friend, to the friendless lad, and it is scarcely to be
wondered at if behind his prison-bars he fails to make sense of the
justice of a world that locks him up and lets his persecutor go
free--likely enough applauds him for his public spirit in doing what he
did. When the child ceases to be a source of income because he will not
work, and has to be supported, at the odd intervals at least when he comes
back from the street, the father surrenders him as a truant and
incorrigible. A large number of the children that are every year sent to
the Juvenile Asylum are admitted in that way. The real animus of it crops
out when it is proposed to put the little prisoner in a way of growing up
a useful citizen by sending him to a home out of the reach of his grasping
relatives. Then follows a struggle for the possession of the child that
would make the uninitiated onlooker think a gross outrage was about to be
perpetrated on a fond parent. The experienced Superintendent of the
Asylum, who has fought many such fights to a successful end, knows better.
"In a majority of these cases," he remarks in his report for last year,
"the opposition is due, not to any special interest in the child's
welfare, but to self-interest, the relative wishing to obtain a situation
for the boy in order to get his weekly wages."

Little Susie, whose picture I took while she was pasting linen on tin
covers for pocket-flasks--one of the hundred odd trades, wholly impossible
of classification, one meets with in the tenements of the poor--with hands
so deft and swift that even the flash could not catch her moving arm, but
lost it altogether, is a type of the tenement-house children whose work
begins early and ends late. Her shop is her home. Every morning she drags
down to her Cherry Street court heavy bundles of the little tin boxes,
much too heavy for her twelve years, and when she has finished running
errands and earning a few pennies that way, takes her place at the bench
and pastes two hundred before it is time for evening school. Then she has
earned sixty cents--"more than mother," she says with a smile. "Mother"
has been finishing "knee-pants" for a sweater, at a cent and a-quarter a
pair for turning up and hemming the bottom and sewing buttons on; but she
cannot make more than two and a-half dozen a day, with the baby to look
after besides. The husband, a lazy, good-natured Italian, who "does not
love work well," in the patient language of the housekeeper, had been out
of a job, when I last saw him, three months, and there was no prospect of
his getting one again soon, certainly not so long as the agent did not
press for the rent long due. That was Susie's doings, too, though he
didn't know it. Her sunny smile made everyone and everything, even in that
dark alley, gentler, more considerate, when she was around.


[Illustration: LITTLE SUSIE AT HER WORK.]


Of Susie's hundred little companions in the alley--playmates they could
scarcely be called--some made artificial flowers, some paper-boxes, while
the boys earned money at "shinin'" or selling newspapers. The smaller
girls "minded the baby," so leaving the mother free to work. Most of them
did something toward earning the family living, young as they were. The
rest did all the mischief. The occupations that claim children's labor in
and out of the shop are almost as numberless as the youngsters that swarm
in tenement neighborhoods. The poorer the tenements the more of them
always. In an evening school class of nineteen boys and nine girls which I
polled once I found twelve boys who "shined," five who sold papers, one of
thirteen years who by day was the devil in a printing-office, and one of
twelve who worked in a wood-yard. Of the girls, one was thirteen and
worked in a paper-box factory, two of twelve made paper lanterns, one
twelve-year-old girl sewed coats in a sweat-shop, and one of the same age
minded a push-cart every day. The four smallest girls were ten years old,
and of them one worked for a sweater and "finished twenty-five coats
yesterday," she said with pride. She looked quite able to do a woman's
work. The three others minded the baby at home; one of them found time to
help her mother sew coats when baby slept.

I have heard it said that the factory law has resulted in crowding the
children under age into the stores, where they find employment as "cash"
girls and boys, and have to fear only the truant officer, whose calls are
as rare as angels' visits. I do not believe this is true to any great
extent. The more general employment of automatic carriers and other
mechanical devices for doing the work once done by the children would
alone tend to check such a movement, if it existed. The Secretary of the
Working Women's Society, who has made a study of the subject, estimates
that there are five thousand children under fourteen years so employed all
the year round. In the holiday season their number is much larger.
Native-born children especially prefer this work, as the more genteel and
less laborious than work in the factories. As a matter of fact it is, I
think, much the hardest and the more objectionable of the two kinds, and
not, as a rule, nearly as well paid. If the factory law does not drive the
children from the workshops, it can at least punish the employer who
exacts more than ten hours a day of them there, or denies them their legal
dinner hour. In the store there is nothing to prevent their being worked
fifteen and sixteen hours during the busy season. Few firms allow more
than half an hour for lunch, some even less. The children cannot sit down
when tired, and their miserable salaries of a dollar and a-half or two
dollars a week are frequently so reduced by fines for tardiness as to
leave them little or nothing. The sanitary surroundings are often most
wretched. At best the dust-laden atmosphere of a large store, with the
hundreds of feet tramping through it and the many pairs of lungs breathing
the air over and over again, is most exhausting to a tender child. An hour
spent in going through such a store tires many grown persons more than a
whole day's work at their accustomed tasks. These children spend their
whole time there at the period when the growth of the body taxes all their
strength.

An effort was made last year to extend the prohibition of the factory law
to the stores, but it failed. It ought not to fail this winter, but if it
is to be coupled with the sworn certificate, it were better to leave
things as they are. The five thousand children under age are there now in
defiance of one law that requires them to go to school. They lied to get
their places. They will not hesitate to lie to keep them. The royal road
is provided by the certificate plan. Beneficent undertakers will not be
wanting to smooth the way for them.

There is still another kind of employment that absorbs many of the boys
and ought to be prohibited with the utmost rigor of the law. I refer to
the messenger service of the District Telegraph Companies especially.
Anyone can see for himself how old some of these boys are who carry
messages about the streets every day; but everybody cannot see the kind of
houses they have to go to, the kind of people they meet, or the sort of
influences that beset them hourly at an age when they are most easily
impressed for good or bad. If that were possible, the line would be drawn
against their employment rather at eighteen than at sixteen or fourteen.
At present there is none except the fanciful line drawn against truancy,
which, to a boy who has learned the tricks of the telegraph messenger, is
very elastic indeed.


[Illustration: MINDING THE BABY.]


To send the boys to school and see that they stay there until they have
learned enough to at least vote intelligently when they grow up, is the
bounden duty of the State--celebrated in theory but neglected in practice.
If it did its duty much would have been gained, but even then the real
kernel of this question of child labor would remain untouched. The trouble
is not so much that the children have to work early as with the sort of
work they have to do. It is, all of it, of a kind that leaves them, grown
to manhood and womanhood, just where it found them, knowing no more, and
therefore less, than when they began, and with the years that should have
prepared them for life's work gone in hopeless and profitless drudgery.
How large a share of the responsibility for this failure is borne by the
senseless and wicked tyranny of so-called organized labor, in denying to
our own children a fair chance to learn honest trades, while letting
foreign workmen in in shoals to crowd our market under the plea of the
"solidarity of labor"--a policy that is in a fair way of losing to labor
all the respect due it from our growing youth, I shall not here discuss.
The general result was well put by a tireless worker in the cause of
improving the condition of the poor, who said to me, "They are down on the
scrub level; there you find them and have to put them to such use as you
can. They don't know anything else, and that is what makes it so hard to
find work for them. Even when they go into a shop to sew, they come out
mere machines, able to do only one thing, which is a small part of the
whole they do not grasp. And thus, without the slightest training for the
responsibilities of life, they marry and transmit their incapacity to
another generation that is so much worse to start off with." She spoke of
the girls, but what she said fitted the boys just as well. The incapacity
of the mother is no greater than the ignorance of the father in the mass
of such unions. Ignorance and poverty are the natural heritage of the
children.

I have in mind a typical family of that sort which our relief committee
wrestled with a whole summer, in Poverty Gap. Suggestive location! The man
found his natural level on the island, where we sent him first thing. The
woman was decent and willing to work, and the girls young enough to train.
But Mrs. Murphy did not get on. "She can't even hold a flat-iron in her
hand," reported her first employer, indignantly. The children were sent to
good places in the country, and repaid the kindness shown them by stealing
and lying to cover up their thefts. They were not depraved; they were
simply exhibiting the fruit of the only training they had ever
received--that of the street. It was like undertaking a job of original
creation to try to make anything decent or useful out of them.

I confess I had always laid the blame for this discouraging feature of the
problem upon our general industrial development in a more or less vague
way--steam, machinery, and all that sort of thing--until the other day I
met a man who gave me another view of it altogether. He was a manufacturer
of cheap clothing, a very intelligent and successful one at that; a large
employer of cheap Hebrew labor and, heaven save the mark!--a Christian.
His sincerity was unquestionable. He had no secrets to keep from me. He
was in the business to make money, he said with perfect frankness, and one
condition of his making money was, as he had had occasion to learn when he
was himself a wage-worker and a union man, to keep his workmen where they
were at his mercy. He had some four hundred hands, all Jewish immigrants,
all working for the lowest wages for which he could hire them. Among them
all there was not one tailor capable of making a whole garment. His policy
was to keep them from learning. He saw to it that each one was kept at
just one thing--sleeves, pockets, buttonholes--some small part of one
garment, and never learned anything else.

"This I do," he explained, "to prevent them from going on strike with the
hope of getting a job anywhere else. They can't. They don't know enough.
Not only do we limit them so that a man who has worked three months in my
shop and never held a needle before is just as valuable to me as one I
have had five years, but we make the different parts of the suit in
different places and keep Christians over the hands as cutters so that
they shall have no chance to learn."

Where we stood in his shop, a little boy was stacking some coats for
removal. The manufacturer pointed him out. "Now," he said, "this boy is
not fourteen years old, as you can see as well as I. His father works here
and when the Inspector comes I just call him up. He swears that the boy is
old enough to work, and there the matter ends. What would you? Is it not
better that he should be here than on the street? Bah!" And this
successful Christian manufacturer turned upon his heel with a vexed air.
It was curious to hear him, before I left, deliver a homily on the
"immorality" of the sweat-shops, arraigning them severely as "a blot on
humanity."



CHAPTER VII.

THE TRUANTS OF OUR STREETS


On my way to the office the other day, I came upon three boys sitting on a
beer-keg in the mouth of a narrow alley intent upon a game of cards. They
were dirty and "tough." The bare feet of the smallest lad were nearly
black with dried mud. His hair bristled, unrestrained by cap or covering
of any kind. They paid no attention to me when I stopped to look at them.
It was an hour before noon.

"Why are you not in school?" I asked of the oldest rascal. He might have
been thirteen.

"'Cause," he retorted calmly, without taking his eye off his neighbor's
cards, "'cause I don't believe in it. Go on, Jim!"

I caught the black-footed one by the collar. "And you," I said, "why don't
you go to school? Don't you know you have to?"

The boy thrust one of his bare feet out at me as an argument there was no
refuting. "They don't want me; I aint got no shoes." And he took the
trick.

I had heard his defence put in a different way to the same purpose more
than once on my rounds through the sweat-shops. Every now and then some
father, whose boy was working under age, would object, "We send the child
to school, as the Inspector says, and there is no room for him. What shall
we do?" He spoke the whole truth, likely enough; the boy only half of it.
There was a charity school around the corner from where he sat struggling
manfully with his disappointment, where they would have taken him, and
fitted him out with shoes in the bargain, if the public school rejected
him. If anything worried him, it was probably the fear that I might know
of it and drag him around there. I had seen the same thought working in
the tailor's mind. Neither had any use for the school; the one that his
boy might work, the other that he might loaf and play hookey.

Each had found his own flaw in our compulsory education law and succeeded.
The boy was safe in the street because no truant officer had the right to
arrest him at sight for loitering there in school-hours. His only risk was
the chance of that functionary's finding him at home, and he was trying to
provide against that. The tailor's defence was valid. With a law
requiring--compelling is the word, but the compulsion is on the wrong
tack--all children between the ages of eight and fourteen years to go to
school at least one-fourth of the year or a little more; with a costly
machinery to enforce it, even more costly to the child who falls under the
ban as a truant than to the citizens who foot the bills, we should most
illogically be compelled to exclude, by force if they insisted, more than
fifty thousand of the children, did they all take it into their heads to
obey the law. We have neither schools enough nor seats enough in them. As
it is, we are spared that embarrassment. They don't obey it.

This is the way the case stands: Computing the school population upon the
basis of the Federal census of 1880 and the State census of 1892, we had
in New York, in the summer of 1891, 351,330 children between five and
fourteen[10] years. I select these limits because children are admitted
to the public schools under the law at the age of five years, and the
statistics of the Board of Education show that the average age of the
pupils entering the lowest primary grade is six years and five months. The
whole number of different pupils taught in that year was 196,307.[11] The
Catholic schools, parochial and select, reported a total of 35,055; the
corporate schools (Children's Aid Society's, Orphan Asylums, American
Female Guardian Society's, etc.), 23,276; evening schools, 29,165;
Nautical School, 111; all other private schools (as estimated by
Superintendent of Schools Jasper), 15,000; total, 298,914; any possible
omissions in this list being more than made up for by the thousands over
fourteen who are included. So that by deducting the number of pupils from
the school population as given above, more than 50,000 children between
the ages of five and fourteen are shown to have received no schooling
whatever last year. As the public schools had seats for only 195,592,
while the registered attendance exceeded that number, it follows that
there was no room for the fifty thousand had they chosen to apply. In
fact, the year before, 3,783 children had been refused admission at the
opening of the schools after the summer vacation because there were no
seats for them. To be told in the same breath that there were more than
twenty thousand unoccupied seats in the schools at that time, is like
adding insult to injury. Though vacant and inviting pupils they were
worthless, for they were in the wrong schools. Where the crowding of the
growing population was greatest and the need of schooling for the
children most urgent, every seat was taken. Those who could not travel far
from home--the poor never can--in search of an education had to go
without.

The Department of Education employs twelve truant officers, who in 1891
"found and returned to school" 2,701 truants. There is a timid sort of
pretence that this was "enforcing the compulsory education law," though it
is coupled with the statement that at least eight more officers are needed
to do it properly, and that they should have power to seize the culprits
wherever found. Superintendent Jasper tells me that he thinks there are
only about 8,000 children in New York who do not go to school at all. But
the Department's own records furnish convincing proof that he is wrong,
and that the 50,000 estimate is right. That number is just about
one-seventh of the whole number of children between five and fourteen
years, as stated above. In January of this year a school-census of the
Fourth and Fifteenth wards,[12] two widely separated localities, differing
greatly as to character of population, gave the following result: Fourth
Ward, total number of children between five and fourteen years, 2,016;[13]
of whom 297 did not go to school. Fifteenth Ward, total number of
children, 2,276; number of non-attendants, 339. In each case the
proportion of non-attendants was nearly one-seventh, curiously
corroborating the estimate made by me for the whole city.

Testimony to the same effect is borne by a different set of records, those
of the reformatories that receive the truants of the city. The Juvenile
Asylum, that takes most of those of the Protestant faith, reports that of
28,745 children of school age committed to its care in thirty-nine years
32 per cent. could not read when received. The proportion during the last
five years was 23 per cent. At the Catholic Protectory, of 3,123 boys and
girls cared for during the year 1891, 689 were utterly illiterate at the
time of their reception and the education of the other 2,434 was
classified in various degrees between illiterate and "able to read and
write" only.[14] The moral status of these last children may be inferred
from the statement that 739 of them possessed no religious instruction at
all when admitted. The analysis might be extended, doubtless with the same
result as to illiteracy, throughout the institutions that harbor the
city's dependent children, to the State Reformatory, where the final
product is set down in 75 per cent. of "grossly ignorant" inmates, in
spite of the fact that more than that proportion is recorded as being of
"average natural mental capacity." In other words, they could have
learned, had they been taught.


[Illustration: "SHOOTING CRAPS" IN THE HALL OF THE NEWSBOYS' LODGING
HOUSE.]


How much of this bad showing is due to the system, or the lack of system,
of compulsory education, as we know it in New York, I shall not venture to
say. In such a system a truant school or home would seem to be a logical
necessity. Because a boy does not like to go to school, he is not
necessarily bad. It may be the fault of the school and of the teacher as
much as of the boy. Indeed, a good many people of sense hold that the boy
who has never planned to run away from home or school does not amount to
much. At all events, the boy ought not to be classed with thieves and
vagabonds. But that is what New York does. It has no truant home. Its
method of dealing with the truant is little less than downright savagery.
It is thus set forth in a report of a special committee of the Board of
Education, made to that body on November 18, 1891. "Under the law the
truant agents act upon reports received from the principals of the
schools. After exhausting the persuasion that they may be able to exercise
to compel the attendance of truant children, and in cases which seem to
call for the enforcement of the law, the agent procures the indorsement
of the President of the Board of Education and the Superintendent of
Schools upon his requisition for a warrant for the arrest of the truant,
which warrant, under the provisions of the law, is then issued by a Police
Justice. A policeman is then detailed to make the arrest, and when
apprehended the truant is brought to the Police Court, where his parents
or guardians are obliged to attend. Should it happen that the latter are
not present, the boy is put in a cell to await their appearance. It has
sometimes happened that a public-school boy, whose only offence against
the law was his refusal to attend school, has been kept in a cell two or
three days with old criminals pending the appearance of his parents or
guardians.[15] While we fully realize the importance of enforcing the laws
relating to compulsory education, we believe that bringing the boys into
associations with criminals in this way and making it necessary for
parents to be present under such circumstances, is unjust and improper,
and that criminal associations of this kind in connection with the
administration of the truancy laws should not be allowed to continue. The
Justice may, after hearing the facts, commit the child, who, in a majority
of cases, is between eight and eleven years old, to one of the
institutions designated by law. We do not think that the enforcement of
the laws relating to compulsory education should at any time enforce
association with criminal classes."

But it does, all the way through. The "institutions designated by law" for
the reception of truants are chiefly the Protectory and the Juvenile
Asylum. In the thirty-nine years of its existence the latter has harbored
11,636 children committed to it for disobedience and truancy. And this
was the company they mingled with there on a common footing: "Unfortunate
children," 8,806; young thieves, 3,097; vagrants, 3,173; generally bad
boys and girls, 1,390; beggars, 542; children committed for peddling, 51;
as witnesses, 50. Of the whole lot barely a hundred, comprised within the
last two items, might be supposed to be harmless, though there is no
assurance that they were. Of the Protectory children I have already
spoken. It will serve further to place them to say that nearly one-third
of the 941 received last year were homeless, while fully 35 per cent. of
all the boys suffered when entering from the contagious eye disease that
is the scourge of the poorest tenements as of the public institutions that
admit their children. I do not here take into account the House of Refuge,
though that is also one of the institutions designated by law for the
reception of truants, for the reason that only about one-fifth of those
admitted to it last year came from New York City. Their number was 55. The
rest came from other counties in the State. But even there the percentage
of truants to those committed for stealing or other crimes was as 53 to
47.

This is the "system," or one end of it--the one where the waste goes on.
The Committee spoken of reported that the city paid in 1890, $63,690 for
the maintenance of the truants committed by magistrates, at the rate of
$110 for every child, and that two truant schools and a home for
incorrigible truants could be established and maintained at less cost,
since it would probably not be necessary to send to the home for
incorrigibles more than 25 per cent. of all. It further advised the
creation of the special office of Truant Commissioner, to avoid dragging
the children into the police courts. In his report for the present year
Superintendent Jasper renews in substance these recommendations. But
nothing has been done.

The situation is this, then, that a vast horde of fifty thousand children
is growing up in this city whom our public school does not and cannot
reach; if it reaches them at all it is with the threat of the jail. The
mass of them is no doubt to be found in the shops and factories, as I have
shown. A large number peddle newspapers or black boots. Still another
contingent, much too large, does nothing but idle, in training for the
penitentiary. I stopped one of that kind at the corner of Baxter and Grand
Streets one day to catechise him. It was in the middle of the afternoon
when the schools were in session, but while I purposely detained him with
a long talk to give the neighborhood time to turn out, thirteen other lads
of his age, all of them under fourteen, gathered to listen to my business
with Graccho. When they had become convinced that I was not an officer
they frankly owned that they were all playing hookey. All of them lived in
the block. How many more of their kind it sheltered I do not know. They
were not exactly a nice lot, but not one of them would I have committed to
the chance of contact with thieves with a clear conscience. I should have
feared especial danger from such contact in their case.

As a matter of fact the record of average attendance (136,413) shows that
the public school _per se_ reaches little more than a third of all the
children. And even those it does not hold long enough to do them the good
that was intended. The Superintendent of Schools declares that the average
age at which the children leave school is twelve or a little over. It must
needs be, then, that very many quit much earlier, and the statement that
in New York, as in Chicago, St. Louis, Brooklyn, New Orleans, and other
American cities, half or more than half the school-boys leave school at
the age of eleven (the source of the statement is unknown to me) seems
credible enough. I am not going to discuss here the value of school
education as a preventive of crime. That it is, so far as it goes, a
positive influence for good I suppose few thinking people doubt nowadays.
Dr. William T. Harris, Federal Commissioner of Education, in an address
delivered before the National Prison Association in 1890, stated that an
investigation of the returns of seventeen States that kept a record of the
educational status of their criminals showed the number of criminals to be
eight times as large from the illiterate stratum as from an equal number
of the population that could read and write. That census was taken in
1870. Ten years later a canvass of the jails of Michigan, a State that had
an illiterate population of less than five per cent., showed exactly the
same ratio, so that I presume that may safely be accepted.

In view of these facts it does not seem that the showing the public school
is making in New York is either creditable or safe. It is not creditable,
because the city's wealth grows even faster than its population,[16] and
there is no lack of means with which to provide schools enough and the
machinery to enforce the law and fill them. Not to enforce it because it
would cost a great deal of money is wicked waste and folly. It is not
safe, because the school is our chief defence against the tenement and the
flood of ignorance with which it would swamp us. Prohibition of child
labor without compelling the attendance at school of the freed slaves is
a mockery. The children are better off working than idling, any day. The
physical objections to the one alternative are vastly outweighed by the
moral iniquities of the other.

I have tried to set forth the facts. They carry their own lesson. The then
State Superintendent of Education, Andrew Draper, read it aright when, in
his report for 1889, he said about the compulsory education law:

"It does not go far enough and is without an executor. It is barren of
results.... It may be safely said that no system will be effectual in
bringing the unfortunate children of the streets into the schools which at
least does not definitely fix the age within which children must attend
the schools, which does not determine the period of the year within which
all must be there, which does not determine the method for gathering all
needed information, which does not provide especial schools for
incorrigible cases, which does not punish people charged with the care of
children for neglecting their education, and which does not provide the
machinery and officials for executing the system."



CHAPTER VIII.

WHAT IT IS THAT MAKES BOYS BAD


I am reminded, in trying to show up the causes that go to make children
bad, of the experience of a certain sanitary inspector who was laboring
with the proprietor of a seven-cent lodging-house to make him whitewash
and clean up. The man had reluctantly given in to several of the
inspector's demands; but, as they kept piling up, his irritation grew,
until at the mention of clean sheets he lost all patience and said, with
bitter contempt, "Well! you needn't tink dem's angels!"

They were not--those lodgers of his--they were tramps. Neither are the
children of the street angels. If, once in a while, they act more like
little devils the opportunities we have afforded them, as I have tried to
show, hardly give us the right to reproach them. They are not the kind of
opportunities to make angels. And yet, looking the hundreds of boys in the
Juvenile Asylum over, all of whom were supposed to be there because they
were bad (though, as I had occasion to ascertain, that was a mistake--it
was the parents that were bad in some cases), I was struck by the fact
that they were anything but a depraved lot. Except as to their clothes and
their manners, which were the manners of the street, they did not seem to
be very different in looks from a like number of boys in any public
school. Fourth of July was just then at hand, and when I asked the
official who accompanied me how they proposed to celebrate it, he said
that they were in the habit of marching in procession up Eleventh Avenue
to Fort George, across to Washington Bridge, and all about the
neighborhood, to a grove where speeches were made. Remembering the iron
bars and high fences I had seen, I said something about it being unsafe to
let a thousand young prisoners go at large in that way. The man looked at
me in some bewilderment before he understood.

"Bless you, no!" he said, when my meaning dawned upon him. "If any one of
them was to run away that day he would be in eternal disgrace with all the
rest. It is a point of honor with them to deserve it when they are
trusted. Often we put a boy on duty outside, when he could walk off, if he
chose, just as well as not; but he will come in in the evening, as
straight as a string, only, perhaps, to twist his bed-clothes into a rope
that very night and let himself down from a third-story window, at the
risk of breaking his neck. Boys will be boys, you know."

But it struck me that boys whose honor could be successfully appealed to
in that way were rather the victims than the doers of a grievous wrong,
being in that place, no matter if they _had_ stolen. It was a case of
misdirection, or no direction at all, of their youthful energies. There
was one little fellow in the Asylum band who was a living illustration of
this. I watched him blow his horn with a supreme effort to be heard above
the rest, growing redder and redder in the face, until the perspiration
rolled off him in perfect sheets, the veins stood out swollen and blue and
it seemed as if he must burst the next minute. He was a tremendous
trumpeter. I was glad when it was over, and patted him on the head,
telling him that if he put as much vim into all he had to do, as he did
into his horn, he would come to something great yet. Then it occurred to
me to ask him what he was there for.

"'Cause I was lazy and played hookey," he said, and joined in the laugh
his answer raised. The idea of that little body, that fairly throbbed with
energy, being sent to prison for laziness was too absurd for anything.

The report that comes from the Western Agency of the Asylum, through which
the boys are placed out on farms, that the proportion of troublesome
children is growing larger does not agree with the idea of laziness
either, but well enough with the idleness of the street, which is what
sends nine-tenths of the boys to the Asylum. Satan finds plenty of
mischief for the idle hands of these lads to do. The one great point is to
give them something to do--something they can see the end of, yet that
will keep them busy right along. The more ignorant the child, the more
urgent this rule, the shorter and simpler the lesson must be. Over in the
Catholic Protectory, where they get the most ignorant boys, they
appreciate this to the extent of encouraging the boys to a game of Sunday
base-ball rather than see them idle even for the briefest spell. Of the
practical wisdom of their course there can be no question.

"I have come to the conclusion," said a well-known educator on a recent
occasion, "that much of crime is a question of athletics." From over the
sea the Earl of Meath adds his testimony: "Three fourths of the youthful
rowdyism of large towns is owing to the stupidity, and, I may add,
cruelty, of the ruling powers in not finding some safety-valve for the
exuberant energies of the boys and girls of their respective cities." For
our neglect to do so in New York we are paying heavily in the maintenance
of these costly reform schools. I spoke of the chance for romping and
play where the poor children crowd. In a Cherry Street hall-way I came
across this sign in letters a foot long: "No ball-playing, dancing,
card-playing, and no persons but tenants allowed in the yard." It was a
five-story tenement, swarming with children, and there was another just as
big across that yard. Out in the street the policeman saw to it that the
ball-playing at least was stopped, and as for the dancing, that, of
course, was bound to collect a crowd, the most heinous offence known to
him as a preserver of the peace. How the peace was preserved by such means
I saw on the occasion of my discovering that sign. The business that took
me down there was a murder in another tenement just like it. A young man,
hardly more than a boy, was killed in the course of a midnight
"can-racket" on the roof, in which half the young people in the block had
a hand night after night. It was _their_ outlet for the "exuberant
energies" of their natures. The safety-valve was shut, with the landlord
and the policeman holding it down.

It is when the wrong outlet has thus been forced that the right and
natural one has to be reopened with an effort as the first condition of
reclaiming the boy. The play in him has all run to "toughness," and has
first to be restored. "We have no great hope of a boy's reformation,"
writes Mr. William F. Round, of the Burnham Industrial Farm, to a friend
who has shown me his letter, "till he takes an active part and interest in
out-door amusements. Plead with all your might for play-grounds for the
city waifs and school-children. When the lungs are freely expanded, the
blood coursing with a bound through all veins and arteries, the whole mind
and body in a state of high emulation in wholesome play, there is no time
or place for wicked thought or consequent wicked action and the body is
growing every moment more able to help in the battle against temptation
when it shall come at other times and places. Next time another transit
company asks a franchise make them furnish tickets to the parks and
suburbs to all school-children on all holidays and Saturdays, the same to
be given out in school for regular attendance, as a method of health
promotion and a preventive of truancy." Excellent scheme! If we could only
make them. It is five years and over now since we made them pass a law at
Albany appropriating a million dollars a year for the laying out of small
parks in the most crowded tenement districts, in the Mulberry Street Bend
for instance, and practically we stand to-day where we stood then. The
Mulberry Street Bend is still there, with no sign of a park or play-ground
other than in the gutter. When I asked, a year ago, why this was so, I was
told by the Counsel to the Corporation that it was because "not much
interest had been taken" by the previous administration in the matter. Is
it likely that a corporation that runs a railroad to make money could be
prevailed upon to take more interest in a proposition to make it surrender
part of its profits than the city's sworn officers in their bounden duty?
Yet let anyone go and see for himself what effect such a park has in a
crowded tenement district. Let him look at Tompkins Square Park as it is
to-day and compare the children that skip among the trees and lawns and
around the band-stand with those that root in the gutters only a few
blocks off. That was the way they looked in Tompkins Square twenty years
ago when the square was a sand-lot given up to rioting and disorder. The
police had their hands full then. I remember being present when they had
to take the square by storm more than once, and there is at least one
captain on the force to-day who owes his promotion to the part he took and
the injuries he suffered in one of those battles. To-day it is as quiet
and orderly a neighborhood as any in the city. Not a squeak has been heard
about "bread or blood" since those trees were planted and the lawns and
flower-beds laid out. It is not all the work of the missions, the
kindergartens, and Boys' clubs and lodging-houses, of which more anon; nor
even the larger share. The park did it, exactly as the managers of the
Juvenile Asylum appealed to the sense of honor in their prisoners. It
appealed with its trees and its grass and its birds to the sense of
decency and of beauty, undeveloped but not smothered, in the children, and
the whole neighborhood responded. One can go around the whole square that
covers two big blocks, nowadays, and not come upon a single fight. I
should like to see anyone walk that distance in Mulberry Street without
running across half a dozen.

Thus far the street and its idleness as factors in making criminals of the
boys. Of the factory I have spoken. Certainly it is to be preferred to the
street, if the choice must be between the two. Its offence is that it
makes a liar of the boy and keeps him in ignorance, even of a useful
trade, thus blazing a wide path for him straight to the prison gate. The
school does not come to the rescue; the child must come to the school, and
even then is not sure of a welcome. The trades' unions do their worst for
the boy by robbing him of the slim chance to learn a trade which the
factory left him. Of the tenement I have said enough. Apart from all other
considerations and influences, as the destroyer of character and
individuality everywhere, it is the wickedest of all the forces that
attack the defenceless child. The tenements are increasing in number, and
so is "the element that becomes criminal because of lack of individuality
and the self-respect that comes with it."[17]

I am always made to think in connection with this subject of a story told
me by a bright little woman of her friend's kittens. There was a litter of
them in the house and a jealous terrier dog to boot, whose one aim in life
was to get rid of its mewing rivals. Out in the garden where the children
played there was a sand-heap and the terrier's trick was to bury alive in
the sand any kitten it caught unawares. The children were constantly
rushing to the rescue and unearthing their pets; on the day when my friend
was there on a visit they were too late. The first warning of the tragedy
in the garden came to the ladies when one of the children rushed in, all
red and excited, with bulging eyes. "There," she said, dropping the dead
kitten out of her apron before them, "a perfectly good cat spoiled!"

Perfectly good children, as good as any on the Avenue, are spoiled every
day by the tenement; only we have not done with them then, as the terrier
had with the kitten. There is still posterity to reckon with.

What this question of heredity amounts to, whether in the past or in the
future, I do not know. I have not had opportunity enough of observing. No
one has that I know of. Those who have had the most disagree in their
conclusions, or have come to none. I have known numerous instances of
criminality, running apparently in families for generations, but there was
always the desperate environment as the unknown factor in the make-up.
Whether that bore the greatest share of the blame, or whether the
reformation of the criminal to be effective should have begun with his
grandfather, I could not tell. Besides, there was always the chance that
the great-grandfather, or some one still farther back, of whom all trace
was lost, might have been a paragon of virtue, even if his descendant was
a thief, and so there was no telling just where to begin. In general I am
inclined to think with such practical philanthropists as Superintendent
Barnard, of the Five Points House of Industry, the Manager of the
Children's Aid Society, Superintendent E. Fellows Jenkins, of the Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and Mr. Israel C. Jones, who
for more than thirty years was in charge of the House of Refuge, that the
bugbear of heredity is not nearly as formidable as we have half taught
ourselves to think. It is rather a question of getting hold of the child
early enough before the evil influences surrounding him have got a firm
grip on him. Among a mass of evidence quoted in support of this belief,
perhaps this instance, related by Superintendent Jones in _The
Independent_ last March, is as convincing as any:

     Thirty years ago there was a depraved family living adjacent to what
     is now a part of the city of New York. The mother was not only
     dishonest, but exceedingly intemperate, wholly neglectful of her
     duties as a mother, and frequently served terms in jail until she
     finally died. The father was also dissipated and neglectful. It was a
     miserable existence for the children.

     Two of the little boys, in connection with two other boys in the
     neighborhood, were arrested, tried, and found guilty of entering a
     house in the daytime and stealing. In course of time both of these
     boys were indentured. One remained in his place and the other left
     for another part of the country, where he died. He was a reputable
     lad.

     The first boy, in one way and another, got a few pennies together
     with which he purchased books. After a time he proposed to his master
     that he be allowed to present himself for examination as a teacher.
     The necessary consent was given, he presented himself, and was
     awarded a "grade A" certificate.

     Two years from that time he came to the House of Refuge, as proud as
     a man could be, and exhibited to me his certificate. He then entered
     a law office, diligently pursued his studies, and was admitted to the
     bar. He was made a judge, and is now chief magistrate of the court in
     the city where he lives.

     His sister, a little girl, used to come to the Refuge with her
     mother, wearing nothing but a thin cloak in very cold weather, almost
     perishing with the cold. As soon as this young man got on his feet he
     rescued the little girl. He placed her in a school; she finally
     graduated from the Normal School, and to-day holds an excellent
     position in the schools in the State where she lives.


The records of the three reformatory institutions before mentioned throw
their own light upon the question of what makes criminals of the young. At
the Elmira Reformatory, of more than five thousand prisoners only a little
over one per cent. were shown to have kept good company prior to their
coming there. One and a half per cent. are put down under this head as
"doubtful," while the character of association is recorded for 41.2 per
cent. as "not good," and for 55.9 per cent. as "positively bad."
Three-fourths possessed no culture or only the slightest. As to moral
sense, 42.6 per cent. had absolutely none, 35 per cent. "possibly some."
Only 7.6 per cent. came from good homes. Of the rest 39.8 per cent. had
homes that are recorded as "fair only," and 52.6 per cent. downright bad
homes; 4.8 per cent. had pauper, and 76.8 per cent. poor parents; 38.4 per
cent. of the prisoners had drunken parents, and 13 per cent. parents of
doubtful sobriety. Of more than twenty-two thousand inmates of the
Juvenile Asylum in thirty-nine years one-fourth had either a drunken
father or mother, or both. At the Protectory the percentage of drunkenness
in parents was not quite one-fifth among over three thousand children
cared for in the institution last year.

There is never any lack of trashy novels and cheap shows in New York, and
the children who earn money selling newspapers or otherwise take to them
as ducks do to water. They fall in well with the ways of the street that
are showy always, however threadbare may be the cloth. As for that, it is
simply the cheap side of our national extravagance.

The cigarette, if not a cause, is at least the mean accessory of half the
mischief of the street. And I am not sure it is not a cause too. It is an
inexorable creditor that has goaded many a boy to stealing; for cigarettes
cost money, and they do not encourage industry. Of course there is a law
against the cigarette, or rather against the boy smoking it who is not old
enough to work--there is law in plenty, usually, if that would only make
people good. It don't in the matter of the cigarette. It helps make the
boy bad by adding the relish of law-breaking to his enjoyment of the
smoke. Nobody stops him.

The mania for gambling is all but universal. Every street child is a born
gambler; he has nothing to lose and all to win. He begins by "shooting
craps" in the street and ends by "chucking dice" in the saloon, two names
for the same thing, sure to lead to the same goal. By the time he has
acquired individual standing in the saloon, his long apprenticeship has
left little or nothing for him to learn of the bad it has to teach. Never
for his own sake is he turned away with the growler when he comes to have
it filled; once in a while for the saloon-keeper's, if that worthy
suspects in him a decoy and a "job." Just for the sake of the experiment,
not because I expected it to develop anything new, I chose at random,
while writing this chapter, a saloon in a tenement house district on the
East Side and posted a man, whom I could trust implicitly, at the door
with orders to count the children under age who went out and in with
beer-jugs in open defiance of law. Neither he nor I had ever been in or
even seen the saloon before. He reported as the result of three and a half
hours' watch at noon and in the evening a total of fourteen--ten boys and
a girl under ten years of age, and three girls between ten and fourteen
years, not counting a little boy who bought a bottle of ginger. It was a
cool, damp day; not a thirsty day, or the number would probably have been
twice as great. There was not the least concealment about the transaction
in any of the fourteen cases. The children were evidently old customers.

The law that failed to save the boy while there was time yet to make a
useful citizen of him provides the means of catching him when his training
begins to bear fruit that threatens the public peace. Then it is with the
same blundering disregard of common sense and common decency that marked
his prosecution as a truant that the half grown lad is dragged into a
police court and thrust into a prison-pen with hardened thieves and
criminals to learn the lessons they have to teach him. The one thing New
York needs most after a truant home is a special court for the trial of
youthful offenders only. I am glad to say that this want seems at last in
a way to be supplied. The last Legislature authorized the establishment of
such a court, and it may be that even as these pages see the light this
blot upon our city is about to be wiped out.

Lastly, but not least, the Church is to blame for deserting the poor in
their need. It is an old story that the churches have moved uptown with
the wealth and fashion, leaving the poor crowds to find their way to
heaven as best they could, and that the crowds have paid them back in
their own coin by denying that they, the churches, knew the way at all.
The Church has something to answer for; but it is a healthy sign at least
that it is accepting the responsibility and professing anxiety to meet it.
In much of the best work done among the poor and for the poor it has
lately taken the lead, and it is not likely that any more of the churches
will desert the downtown field, with the approval of Christian men and
women at least.

       *       *       *       *       *

Little enough of the light I promised in the opening chapter has struggled
through these pages so far. We have looked upon the dark side of the
picture; but there is a brighter. If the battle with ignorance, with
misery, and with vice has but just begun, if the army that confronts us is
strong, too strong, in numbers still and in malice--the gauntlet has been
thrown down, the war waged, and blows struck that tell. They augur
victory, for we have cut off the enemy's supplies and turned his flank. As
I showed in the case of the immigrant Jews and the Italians, we have
captured his recruits. With a firm grip on these, we may hope to win, for
the rest of the problem ought to be and _can_ be solved. With our own we
should be able to settle, if there is any virtue in our school and our
system of government. In this, as in all things, the public conscience
must be stirred before the community's machinery for securing justice can
move. That it has been stirred, profoundly and to useful purpose, the
multiplication in our day of charities for attaining the ends the law has
failed to reach, gives evidence. Their number is so great that mention can
be made here merely of a few of the most important and typical efforts
along the line. A register of all those that deal with the children
especially, as compiled by the Charity Organization Society, will be found
in an appendix to this book. Before we proceed to look at the results
achieved through endeavors to stop the waste down at the bottom by private
reinforcement of the public school, we will glance briefly at two of the
charities that have a plainer purpose--if I may so put it without
disparagement to the rest--that look upon the child merely as a child
worth saving for its own sake, because it is helpless and poor and
wretched. Both of them represent distinct departures in charitable work.
Both, to the everlasting credit of our city be it said, had their birth
here, and in this generation, and from New York their blessings have been
carried to the farthest lands. One is the Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Children, known far and near now as the Children's Society,
whose strong and beneficent plan has been embodied in the structure of law
of half the civilized nations of the world. The other, always spoken of as
the "Fresh Air Fund," never had law or structural organization of any
kind, save the law of love, laid down on the Mount for all time; but the
life of that divine command throbs in it and has touched the heart of
mankind wherever its story has been told.



CHAPTER IX.

LITTLE MARY ELLEN'S LEGACY


On a thriving farm up in Central New York a happy young wife goes singing
about her household work to-day who once as a helpless, wretched waif in
the great city through her very helplessness and misery stirred up a
social revolution whose waves beat literally upon the farthest shores. The
story of little Mary Ellen moved New York eighteen years ago as it had
scarce ever been stirred by news of disaster or distress before. In the
simple but eloquent language of the public record it is thus told: "In the
summer of 1874 a poor woman lay dying in the last stages of consumption in
a miserable little room on the top floor of a big tenement in this city. A
Methodist missionary, visiting among the poor, found her there and asked
what she could do to soothe her sufferings. 'My time is short,' said the
sick woman, 'but I cannot die in peace while the miserable little girl
whom they call Mary Ellen is being beaten day and night by her step-mother
next door to my room.' She told how the screams of the child were heard at
all hours. She was locked in the room, she understood. It had been so for
months, while she had been lying ill there. Prompted by the natural
instinct of humanity, the missionary sought the aid of the police, but she
was told that it was necessary to furnish evidence before an arrest could
be made. 'Unless you can prove that an offence has been committed we
cannot interfere, and all you know is hearsay.' She next went to several
benevolent societies in the city whose object it was to care for children,
and asked their interference in behalf of the child. The reply was: 'If
the child is legally brought to us, and is a proper subject, we will take
it; otherwise we cannot act in the matter.' In turn then she consulted
several excellent charitable citizens as to what she should do. They
replied: 'It is a dangerous thing to interfere between parent and child,
and you might get yourself into trouble if you did so, as parents are
proverbially the best guardians of their own children.' Finally, in
despair, with the piteous appeals of the dying woman ringing in her ears,
she said: 'I will make one more effort to save this child. There is one
man in this city who has never turned a deaf ear to the cry of the
helpless, and who has spent his life in just this work for the benefit of
unoffending animals. I will go to Henry Bergh.'

"She went, and the great friend of the dumb brute found a way. 'The child
is an animal,' he said, 'if there is no justice for it as a human being,
it shall at least have the rights of the stray cur in the street. It shall
not be abused.' And thus was written the first bill of rights for the
friendless waif the world over. The appearance of the starved, half-naked,
and bruised child when it was brought into court wrapped in a
horse-blanket caused a sensation that stirred the public conscience to its
very depths. Complaints poured in upon Mr. Bergh; so many cases of
child-beating and fiendish cruelty came to light in a little while, so
many little savages were hauled forth from their dens of misery, that the
community stood aghast. A meeting of citizens was called and an
association for the defence of outraged childhood was formed, out of
which grew the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children that was
formally incorporated in the following year. By that time Mary Ellen was
safe in a good home. She never saw her tormentor again. The woman, whose
name was Connolly, was not her mother. She steadily refused to tell where
she got the child, and the mystery of its descent was never solved. The
wretched woman was sent to the Island and forgotten.

John D. Wright, a venerable Quaker merchant, was chosen the first
President of the Society. Upon the original call for the first meeting,
preserved in the archives of the Society, may still be read a foot-note in
his handwriting, quaintly amending the date to read, Quaker fashion, "12th
mo. 15th 1874." A year later, in his first review of the work that was
before the young society, he wrote, "Ample laws have been passed by the
Legislature of this State for the protection of and prevention of cruelty
to little children. The trouble seems to be that it is nobody's business
to enforce them. Existing societies have as much, nay more to do than they
can attend to in providing for those entrusted to their care. The Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children proposes to enforce by lawful
means and with energy those laws, not vindictively, not to gain public
applause, but to convince those who cruelly ill-treat and shamefully
neglect little children that the time has passed when this can be done, in
this State at least, with impunity."

The promise has been faithfully kept. The old Quaker is dead, but his work
goes on. The good that he did lives after him, and will live forever. The
applause of the crowd his Society has not always won; but it has merited
the confidence and approval of all right-thinking and right-feeling men.
Its aggressive advocacy of defenceless childhood, always and everywhere,
is to-day reflected from the statute-books of every State in the American
Union, and well-nigh every civilized government abroad, in laws that
sprang directly from its fearless crusade.

In theory it had always been the duty of the State to protect the child
"in person, and property, and in its opportunity for life, liberty, and
happiness," even against a worthless parent; in practice it held to the
convenient view that, after all, the parent had the first right to the
child and knew what was best for it. The result in many cases was thus
described in the tenth annual report of the Society by President Elbridge
T. Gerry, who in 1879 had succeeded Mr. Wright and has ever since been so
closely identified with its work that it is as often spoken of nowadays as
Mr. Gerry's Society as under its corporate name:

     "Impecunious parents drove them from their miserable homes at all
     hours of the day and night to beg and steal. They were trained as
     acrobats at the risk of life and limb, and beaten cruelly if they
     failed. They were sent at night to procure liquor for parents too
     drunk to venture themselves into the streets. They were drilled in
     juvenile operas and song-and-dance variety business until their
     voices were cracked, their growth stunted, and their health
     permanently ruined by exposure and want of rest. Numbers of young
     Italians were imported by _padroni_ under promises of a speedy
     return, and then sent out on the streets to play on musical
     instruments, to peddle flowers and small wares to the passers-by, and
     too often as a cover for immorality. Their surroundings were those of
     vice, profanity, and obscenity. Their only amusements were the
     dance-halls, the cheap theatres and museums, and the saloons. Their
     acquaintances were those hardened in sin, and both boys and girls
     soon became adepts in crime, and entered unhesitatingly on the
     downward path. Beaten and abused at home, treated worse than
     animals, no other result could be expected. In the prisons, to which
     sooner or later these unhappy children gravitated, there was no
     separation of them from hardened criminals. Their previous education
     in vice rendered them apt scholars in the school of crime, and they
     ripened into criminals as they advanced in years."


[Illustration: CASE NO. 25,745 ON THE SOCIETY BLOTTER: ANNIE WOLFF, AGED
SEVEN YEARS, AS SHE WAS DRIVEN FORTH BY HER CRUEL STEP-MOTHER, BEATEN AND
STARVED, WITH HER ARMS TIED UPON HER BACK; AND AS SHE APPEARED AFTER SIX
MONTHS IN THE SOCIETY'S CARE.]


All that has not been changed in the seventeen years that have passed; to
remodel depraved human nature has been beyond the power of the Society;
but step by step under its prompting the law has been changed and
strengthened; step by step life has been breathed into its dead letter,
until now it is as able and willing to protect the child against violence
or absolute cruelty as the Society is to enforce its protection. There is
work enough for it to do yet. I have outlined some in the preceding
chapters. In the past year (1891) it investigated 7,695 complaints and
rescued 3,683 children from pernicious surroundings, some of them from a
worse fate than death. "But let it not be supposed from this," writes the
Superintendent, "that crimes of and against children are on the increase.
As a matter of fact wrongs to children have been materially lessened in
New York by the Society's action and influence during the past seventeen
years. Some have entirely disappeared, having been eradicated root and
branch from New York life, and an influence for good has been felt by the
children themselves, as shown by the great diminution in juvenile
delinquency from 1875, when the Society was first organized, to 1891, the
figures indicating a decrease of fully fifty per cent."[18]

Other charitable efforts, working along the same line, contributed their
share, perhaps the greater, to the latter result, but the Society's
influence upon the environment that shapes the childish mind and
character, as well as upon the child itself, is undoubted. It is seen in
the hot haste with which a general cleaning up and setting to rights is
begun in a block of tenement barracks the moment the "cruelty man" heaves
in sight; in the "holy horror" the child-beater has of him and his
mission, and in the altered attitude of his victim, who not rarely
nowadays confronts his tormentor with the threat, "if you do that I will
go to the Children's Society," always effective except when drink blinds
the wretch to consequences.

The Society had hardly been in existence four years when it came into
collision with the padrone and his abominable system of child slavery.
These traders in human misery, adventurers of the worst type, made a
practice of hiring the children of the poorest peasants in the Neapolitan
mountain districts, to serve them begging, singing, and playing in the
streets of American cities. The contract was for a term of years at the
end of which they were to return the child and pay a fixed sum, a
miserable pittance, to the parents for its use, but, practically, the
bargain amounted to a sale, except that the money was never paid. The
children left their homes never to return. They were shipped from Naples
to Marseilles, and made to walk all the way through France, singing,
playing, and dancing in the towns and villages through which they passed,
to a seaport where they embarked for America. Upon their arrival here they
were brought to a rendezvous in some out-of-the-way slum and taken in hand
by the padrone, the partner of the one who had hired them abroad. He sent
them out to play in the streets by day, singing and dancing in tune to
their alleged music, and by night made them perform in the lowest dens in
the city. All the money they made the padrone took from them, beating and
starving them if they did not bring home enough. None of it ever reached
their parents. Under this treatment the boys grew up thieves--the girls
worse. The life soon wore them out, and the Potter's Field claimed them
before their term of slavery was at an end, according to the contract. In
far-off Italy the simple peasants waited anxiously for the return of
little Tomaso or Antonia with the coveted American gold. No word ever came
of them.

The vile traffic had been broken up in England only to be transferred to
America. The Italian government had protested. Congress had passed an act
making it a felony for anyone knowingly to bring into the United States
any person inveigled or forcibly kidnapped in any other country, with the
intent to hold him here in involuntary service. But these children were
not only unable to either speak or understand English, they were
compelled, under horrible threats, to tell anyone who asked that the
padrone was their father, brother, or other near relative. To get the
evidence upon which to proceed against the padrone was a task of exceeding
difficulty, but it was finally accomplished by co-operation of the Italian
government with the Society's agents in the case of the padrone Ancarola,
who, in November, 1879, brought over from Italy seven boy slaves, between
nine and thirteen years old, with their outfit of harps and violins. They
were seized, and the padrone, who escaped from the steamer, was arrested
in a Crosby Street groggery five days later. Before a jury in the United
States Court the whole vile scheme was laid bare. One of the boys
testified that Ancarola had paid his mother 20 lire (about four dollars)
and his uncle 60 lire. For this sum he was to serve the padrone four
years. Ancarola was convicted and sent to the penitentiary. The children
were returned to their homes.

The news travelled slowly on the other side. For years the padrone's
victims kept coming at intervals, but the society's agents were on the
watch, and when the last of the kidnappers was sent to prison in 1885
there was an end of the business. The excitement attending the trial and
the vigor with which the society had pushed its pursuit of the rascally
padrone drew increased attention to its work. At the end of the following
year twenty-four societies had been organized in other States upon its
plan, and half the governments of Europe were enacting laws patterned
after those of New York State. To-day there are a hundred societies for
the prevention of cruelty to children in this country, independent of each
other but owning the New York Society as their common parent, and nearly
twice as many abroad, in England, France, Italy, Spain, the West Indies,
South America, Canada, Australia, etc. The old link that bound the dumb
brute with the helpless child in a common bond of humane sympathy has
never been broken. Many of them include both in their efforts, and all the
American societies, whether their care be children or animals, are united
in an association for annual conference and co-operation, called the
American Humane Association.

In seventeen years the Society has investigated 61,749 complaints of
cruelly to children, involving 185,247 children, prosecuted 21,282
offenders, and obtained 20,697 convictions. The children it has saved and
released numbered at the end of the year 1891 no less than 32,633.
Whenever it has been charged with erring it has been on the side of mercy
for the helpless child. It follows its charges into the police courts,
seeing to it that, if possible, no record of crime is made against the
offending child and that it is placed at once where better environment may
help bring out the better side of its nature. It follows them into the
institutions to which they are committed through its care, and fights
their battles there, if need be, or the battles of their guardians under
the law, against the greed of parents that would sacrifice the child's
prospects in life for the sake of the few pennies it could earn at home.
And it generally wins the fight.

The Society has never received any financial support from the city, but
has depended entirely upon private benevolence. Ample means have always
been at its disposal. Last year it sheltered, fed, and clothed 1,697
children in its rooms. Most of them were the victims of drunken parents.
With the Society they found safe shelter. "Sometimes," Superintendent
Jenkins says, "the children cry when they are brought here. They always
cry when they go away."

"Lastly," so ran the old Quaker merchant's address in his first annual
report, "this Society, so far from interfering with the numerous societies
and institutions already existing, is intended to aid them in their noble
work. It proposes to labor in the interest of no one religious
denomination, and to keep entirely free from political influences of every
kind. Its duties toward the children whom it may rescue will be discharged
when the future custody of them is decided by the courts of justice."
Before the faithful adherence to that plan all factious or sectarian
opposition that impedes and obstructs so many other charities has fallen
away entirely. Humanity is the religion of the Children's Society. In its
Board of Directors are men of all nationalities and of every creed. Its
fundamental doctrine is that every rescued child must be given finally
into the keeping of those of its own faith who will carry on the work
begun in its rescue. Beyond that point the Society does not go. It has
once refused the gift of a sea-side home lest it become a rival in a field
where it would render only friendly counsel and aid.

In the case of the little John Does a doubt arises which the Society
settles by passing them on to the best institution available for each
particular child, quite irrespective of sect. There are thirteen of them
by this time, waifs found in the street by the Society's agents or friends
and never claimed by anybody. Though passed on, in the plan of the Society
from which it never deviates, to be cared for by others, they are never
lost sight of but always considered its special charges, for whom it bears
a peculiar responsibility.

Poor little Carmen, of whom I spoke in the chapter about Italian children,
was one of the Society's wards. Its footprints may be found all through
these pages. To its printed reports, with their array of revolting cruelty
and neglect, the reader is referred who would fully understand what a gap
in a Christian community it bridges over.

[Illustration: CLUB WITH WHICH A FOUR-YEAR-OLD CHILD WAS BRUTALLY
BEATEN.]



CHAPTER X.

THE STORY OF THE FRESH AIR FUND


The last echoes of the storm raised by the story of little Mary Ellen had
not died in the Pennsylvania hills when a young clergyman in the obscure
village of Sherman preached to his congregation one Sunday morning from
the text, "Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these
least, ye did it unto me," a sermon which in its far-reaching effects was
to become one of the strongest links in the chain of remorseful human
sympathy then being forged in the fires of public indignation. Willard
Parsons was a man with a practical mind as well as an open heart. He had
lived in the city and had witnessed the suffering of the poor children in
the stony streets on the hot summer days. Out there in the country he saw
the wild strawberry redden the fields in June only to be trampled down by
the cattle, saw, as the summer wore on, the blackberry-vines by the
wayside groaning under their burden of sweet fruit, unconsidered and going
to waste, with this starved host scarce a day's journey away. Starved in
body, in mind, and in soul! Not for them was the robin's song _they_
scarcely heard; not for them the summer fields or the cool forest shade,
the sweet smell of briar and fern. Theirs was poverty and want, and heat
and suffering and death--death as the entrance to a life for which the
slum had been their only preparation. And such a preparation!

All this the young preacher put in his sermon, and as he saw the love that
went out from his own full heart kindling in the eager faces of his
listeners, he told them what had been in his mind on many a lonely walk
through those fields: that while the flowers and the brook and the trees
might not be taken to the great prison-pen where the children were, these
might be brought out to enjoy them there. There was no reason why it
should not be done, even though it had not been before. If they were poor
and friendless and starved, yet there had been One even poorer, more
friendless than they. They at least had their slum. He had not where to
lay his head. Well they might, in receiving the children into their homes,
be entertaining angels unawares. "Inasmuch as ye did it unto even the
least of these, ye did it unto Me."

The last hymn had been sung and the congregation had gone home, eagerly
discussing their pastor's new scheme; but a little company of men and
women remained behind in the church to talk it over with the minister.
They were plain people. The sermon had shown them a plain duty to be done,
and they knew only one way: to do it. The dinner-hour found them there
yet, planning and talking it over. It was with a light heart that, as a
result of their talk, the minister set out for New York the day after with
an invitation to the children of the slums to come out in the woods and
see how beautiful God had made his world. They were to be the guests of
the people of Sherman for a fortnight, and a warm welcome awaited them
there. A right royal one they received when, in a few days, the pastor
returned, bringing with him nine little waifs, the poorest and the
neediest he had found in the tenements to which he went with his offer.
They were not such children as the farm-folk thereabouts saw every day,
but they took them into their homes, and their hearts warmed to them day
by day as they saw how much they needed their kindness, how under its
influence they grew into bright and happy children like their own; and
when, at the end of the two weeks, nine brown-faced laughing boys and
girls went back to tell of the wondrous things they had heard and seen, it
was only to make room for another little band. Nor has ever a summer
passed since that first, which witnessed sixty city urchins made happy at
Sherman, that has not seen the hospitable houses of the Pennsylvania
village opened to receive holiday parties like those from the slums of the
far city.

Thus modestly began the Fresh Air movement that has brought health and
happiness to more than a hundred thousand of New York's poor children
since, and has spread far and near, not only through our own but to
foreign lands, wherever there is poverty to relieve and suffering to
soothe. It has literally grown up around the enthusiasm and practical
purpose of the one man whose personality pervades it to this day. Willard
Parsons preaches now to a larger flock than any church could contain, but
the burden of his sermon is ever the same. From the _Tribune_ office he
issues his appeals each spring, and money comes in abundance to carry on
the work in which city and country vie with each other to lend a hand.
After that first season at Sherman, a New York newspaper, the _Evening
Post_, took the work under its wing and raised the necessary funds until
in 1882 it passed into the keeping of its neighbor, the _Tribune_. Ever
since it has been known as the _Tribune_ Fresh Air Fund, and year by year
has grown in extent and importance until at the end of the year 1891 more
than 94,000 children were shown to have been given a two weeks' vacation
in the country in the fifteen summers that had passed. The original 60 of
1877 had grown to an army of holiday-makers numbering 13,568 in 1891. By
this time the hundred thousand mark has long been passed. The total amount
of money expended in sending the children out was $250,633.88, and so well
had the great fund been managed that the average cost per child had fallen
from $3.12 in the first year to $2.07 in the last. Generalship, indeed, of
the highest order was needed at the headquarters of this army. In that
summer there was not a day except Sunday when less than seven companies
were sent out from the city. The little knot of children that hung timidly
to the skirts of the good minister's coat on that memorable first trip to
Pennsylvania had been swelled until special trains, once of as many as
eighteen cars, were in demand to carry those who came after.

The plan of the Fresh Air Fund is practically unchanged from the day it
was first conceived. The neediest and poorest are made welcome. Be they
Protestants, Catholics, Jews, or heathen, it matters not if an invitation
is waiting. The supply is governed entirely by the demands that come from
the country. Sometimes it is a Catholic community that asks for children
of that faith, sometimes prosperous Jews, who would bring sunlight and
hope even to Ludlow Street; rarely yet Italians seeking their own. The cry
of the missionary, from the slums in the hot July days: "How shall we give
those babies the breath of air that means life?--no one asks for Italian
children," has not yet been answered. Prejudice dies slowly. When an end
has been made of this at last, the Fresh Air Fund will receive a new boom.
To my mind there are no more tractable children than the little Italians,
none more grateful for kindness; certainly none more in need of it.
Against colored children there is no prejudice. Sometimes an invitation
comes from Massachusetts or some other New England State for them, and
then the missions and schools of Thompson Street give up their
pickaninnies for a gleeful vacation spell. With the first spring days of
April a canvass of the country within a radius of five hundred miles of
New York has been begun. By the time the local committees send in their
returns--so many children wanted in each town or district--the workers
from the missions, the King's Daughters' circles, the hospitals,
dispensaries, industrial schools, nurseries, kindergartens, and the other
gates through which the children's host pours from the tenements, are at
work, and the task of getting the little excursionists in shape for their
holiday begins.


[Illustration: SUMMER BOARDERS FROM MOTT STREET.]


That is the hardest task of all. Places are found for them readily enough;
the money to pay their way is to be had for the asking; but to satisfy the
reasonable demand of the country hosts that their little guests shall come
clean from their tenement homes costs an effort, how great the workers who
go among those homes "with a Bible in one hand and a pair of scissors and
a cake of soap in the other" know best. A physician presides over these
necessary preliminaries. In the months of July and August he is kept
running from church to hospital, from chapel to nursery, inspecting the
brigades gathered there and parting the sheep from the goats. With a list
of the houses in which the health officers report contagious diseases, he
goes through the ranks. Any hailing from such houses--the list is brought
up to date every morning--are rejected first. The rest as they pass in
review are numbered 1 and 2 on the register. The No. 1's are ready to go
at once if under the age limit of twelve years. They are the sheep, and,
alas! few in number. Amid wailing and gnashing of teeth the cleansing of
the goats is then begun. Heads are clipped and faces "planed off."
Sometimes a second and a third inspection still fails to give the child a
clean bill of entry. Just what it means is best shown by the following
extract from a mission worker's report to Mr. Parsons, last summer, of the
condition of her squad of 110, held under marching orders in an up-town
chapel:

"All the No. 2's have now been thoroughly oiled, larkspur'd, washed in hot
suds, and finally had an application of exterminator. This has all been
done in the church to be as sure as possible that they are safe to send
away. Ninety have been thus treated." Her experience was typical. Twenty
No. 1's in a hundred was the average given by one of the oldest workers in
the Fresh Air Service whose field is in the East Side tenements.

But all this is of the past, as are the long braids of many a little girl,
sacrificed with tears upon the altar of the coveted holiday, when the
procession finally starts for the depot, each happy child carrying a
lunch-bag, for often the journey is long, though never wearisome to the
little ones. Their chaperon--some student, missionary, teacher, or kind
man or woman who, for sweet charity's sake, has taken upon him this
arduous duty--awaits them and keeps the account of his charges as squad
after squad is dropped at the station to which it is consigned. Sometimes
the whole party goes in a lump to a common destination, more frequently
the joyous freight is delivered, as the journey progresses, in this valley
or that village, where wagons are waiting to receive it and carry it home.

Once there, what wondrous things those little eyes behold, whose horizon
was limited till that day, likely enough, by the gloom of the filthy
court, or the stony street upon which it gave, with the gutter the
boundary line between! The daisies by the roadside, with no sign to warn
them "off the grass," the birds, the pig in its sty, the cow with its
bell--each new marvel is hailed with screams of delight. "Sure, heaven
can't be no nicer place than this," said a little child from one of the
missions who for the first time saw a whole field of daisies; and her
fellow-traveller, after watching intently a herd of cows chew the cud
asked her host, "Say, mister, do you have to buy gum for all them cows to
chew?"

The children sent out by the Fresh Air Fund go as guests always. No penny
of it is spent in paying for board. It goes toward paying their way only.
Most of the railroad companies charge only one-fourth of the regular fare
for the little picnickers up to the maximum of $3.50; beyond that they
carry them without increase within the five hundred mile limit. Last year
Mr. Parsons' wards were scattered over the country from the White
Mountains in the East to Western Pennsylvania, from the lakes to West
Virginia. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, New York,
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia were hosts, and
Canada entertained one large party. Ohio and North Carolina were on the
list of entertainers, but the way was too long for the children. The
largest party that went out comprised eleven hundred little summer
boarders.

Does any good result to the children? The physical effect may be summed up
in Dr. Daniel's terse statement, after many years of practical interest in
the work: "I believe the Fresh Air Fund is the best plaster we have for
the unjust social condition of the people." She spoke as a doctor,
familiar with the appearance of the children when they went out and when
they came back. There are not wanting professional opinions showing most
remarkable cures to have resulted from even this brief respite from the
slum. The explanation is simple: it was the slum that was the real
complaint; with it the cause was removed and improvement came with a
bound. As to the moral and educational effect, Mr. Parsons thus answers a
clergyman who objected that "it will only make the child discontented with
the surroundings where God placed him:"

"I contend that a great gain has been made if you can only succeed in
making the tenement-house child thoroughly discontented with his lot.
There is some hope then of his getting out of it and rising to a higher
plane. The new life he sees in the country, the contact with good people,
not at arm's length, but in their homes; not at the dinner, feast, or
entertainment given to him while the giver stands by and looks _down_ to
see how he enjoys it, and remarks on his forlorn appearance; but brought
into the family and given a seat at the table, where, as one boy wrote
home, 'I can have two pieces of pie if I want, and nobody says nothing if
I take three pieces of cake;' or, as a little girl reported, where 'We
have lots to eat, and so much to eat that we could not tell you how much
we get to eat.'

"This is quite a different kind of service, and has resulted in the
complete transformation of many a child. It has gone back to its
wretchedness, to be sure, but in hundreds of instances about which I have
personally known, it has returned with head and heart full of new ways,
new ideas of decent living, and has successfully taught the shiftless
parents the better way."

The host's side of it is presented by a pastor in Northern New York, whose
people had entertained a hundred children: "They have left a rich blessing
behind them," he wrote, "and they actually gave more than they received.
They have touched the hearts of the people and opened the fountains of
love, sympathy, and charity. The people have read about the importance of
benevolence, and have heard many sermons on the beauty of charity; but
these have been quickly forgotten. The children have been an object-lesson
that will long live in their hearts and minds."

Not least among the blessings of the Fresh Air work has been the drawing
closer in a common interest and sympathy of the classes that are drifting
farther and farther apart so fast, as wealth and poverty both increase
with the growth of our great cities. Each year the invitations to the
children have come in greater numbers. Each year the fund has grown
larger, and as yet no collector has ever been needed or employed. "I can
recall no community," says Mr. Parsons, "where hospitality has been given
once, but that some children have been invited back the following years."
In at least one instance of which he tells, the farmer's family that
nursed a poor consumptive girl back to health and strength did entertain
an angel unawares. They were poor themselves in their way, straining every
nerve to save enough to pay interest on a mortgage and thus avert the sale
of their farm. A wealthy and philanthropic lady, who became interested in
the girl after her return from her six weeks' vacation, heard the story of
their struggle and saved the farm in the eleventh hour.

What sort of a gap the Fund sometimes bridges over the following instance
from its report for 1891 gives a feeble idea of: "Something less than a
year ago a boy from this family fell out of an upper-story window and was
killed. Later on, a daughter in the same family likewise fell out of a
window, sustaining severe injuries, but she is still alive. About this
same time a baby came and the father had to quit work and stay at home to
see that all was well with the mother. By the time she was well, the
father was stricken down with a fever. On his recovery he went to hunt
another job. On the first day at work a brick fell off a scaffold and
fractured his skull. That night the _Tribune_ Fresh Air Fund came to the
rescue and relieved the almost distracted mother by sending four of her
children to the country for two weeks. The little ones made so many good
friends that the family is now well provided for."

From Mr. Parsons' record of "cases" that have multiplied in fifteen years
until they would fill more than one stout volume, this one is taken as a
specimen brick:

In the earlier days of the work a bright boy of ten was one of a company
invited to Schoharie County, N. Y. He endeared himself so thoroughly to
his entertainers, who "live in a white house with green blinds and
Christmas-trees all around it," that they asked and received permission to
keep the lad permanently. The following is an exact copy of a part of the
letter he wrote home after he had been for a few months in his new home:

     DEAR MOTHER: i am still to Mrs. D---- and i was so Busy that i Could
     not Write Sooner i drive the horses and put up the Cows and clean out
     the Cow Stable i am all well i pick stones and i have an apple tree 6
     Feet High and i have got a pair of new pants and a new Coat and a
     pair of Suspenders and Mr. D---- is getting a pair of New Boots made
     for me We killed one pig and one Cow i am going to plow a little
     piece of land and plant Some Corn. When Mr. D---- killed the Cow i
     helped and Mr. D----had to take the Cow skin to be taned to make
     leather and Mr. D---- gave the man Cow skin for leather to make me
     Boots i am going to school to-morrow and I want to tell
     lizzie--pauline--Charlie--Christie--maggie--george and you to all
     write to me and if they all do when Christmas Comes i will send all
     of you something nice if my uncle frank comes to see yous you must
     tell him to write to me i Close my letter

     From your oldest son A----.


A year after that time the mother died. Some time afterward an uncle began
writing for the lad to come back to the city--he coveted his small
earnings. But the little fellow had sense enough to see that he was better
off where he was. Finally the uncle went after the boy, and told him his
brother was dying in the hospital, and was calling constantly for him.
Under such circumstances his foster parents readily gave him permission to
return with the uncle for a visit. Before they reached the city the uncle
told him he should never go back. He sent him to work at Eleventh Avenue
and Twenty-ninth Street, in a workroom situated in the cellar, and his
bedroom, like those in most tenement houses, had no outside window. The
third day he was sent up-stairs on an errand, and as soon as he saw the
open door he bolted. He remembered that a car that passed Fourth Street
and Avenue C would take him to the People's Line for Albany. He ran with
all his might to Fourth Street, and then followed the car-tracks till he
saw on the large flag "People's Line." He told part of his story to the
clerk, and finally added, "I am one of Mr. Parsons' Fresh-Air boys and I
have got to go to Albany." That settled the matter, and the clerk readily
gave him a pass. A gentleman standing by gave him a quarter for his
supper. He held on to his appetite as well as his quarter, and in the
morning laid his twenty-five cents before the ticket agent at Albany, and
called for a ticket to R----, a small place fifty miles distant. He got
the ticket. After a few miles' walk from R---- he reached his new home
safely, and there he proposed to stay. He said he would take to the woods
if his uncle came after him again. This happened ten years ago.

About a year ago a letter came from the young fellow. He is now an active
Christian, married, and worth property, and expects in a few years to have
his farm all paid for.

A hundred benevolent enterprises have clustered about the Fresh Air Fund
as the years have passed, patterning after it and accepting help from it
to carry out their own plans. Churches provide excursions for their poor
children and the Fund pays the way. Vacations for working girls, otherwise
out of reach, are made attainable by its intervention. An independent
feature is the _Tribune_ Day Excursion that last summer gave nearly thirty
thousand poor persons, young and old, a holiday at a beautiful grove on
the Hudson, with music and milk to their hearts' desire. The expense was
borne by a wealthy citizen of this city, who gave boats, groves, and
entertainment free of charge, stipulating only that his name should not be
disclosed.

Other cities have followed the example of New York. Boston and
Philadelphia have their "Country Week," fashioned after the Fresh Air Fund
idea. Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and other cities clear to San
Francisco have sent committees to examine its workings, and deputations
have come from Canada, from London and Manchester, where the holiday work
is doing untold good and is counted among the most useful of philanthropic
efforts. German, Austrian, and Italian cities have fallen into line, and
the movement has spread even to the Sandwich Islands. Yet this great work,
as far as New York, where it had its origin, is concerned, has never had
organization or staff of officers of any sort. Three well-known citizens
audit Mr. Parsons' accounts once a year. The rest he manages and always
has managed himself. "The constitution and by-laws," he says, drily, "are
made and amended from day to day as required, and have yet to be written."
The Fresh Air Fund rests firmly upon a stronger foundation than any human
law or enactment. Its charter was written in the last commandment that is
the sum of all the rest: "That ye love one another."

The method of the Fresh Air Fund was and is its great merit. Its plan,
when first presented, was unique. There had been other and successful
efforts before that to give the poor in their vile dwellings an outing in
the dog days, but they took the form rather of organized charities than of
this spontaneous outpouring of good-will and fellowship between brother
and brother: "My house and my home are yours; come and see me!" The New
York _Times_ had conducted a series of free excursions, and three summers
before Mr. Parsons preached his famous sermon, the Children's Aid Society,
that had battled for twenty years with the slum for the possession of the
child, had established a Health Home down the Bay, to which it welcomed
the children from its Industrial schools and the sick babies that were
gathered in by its visiting physicians. This work has grown steadily in
extent and importance with the new interest in the poor and their lives
that has characterized our generation. To-day the Society conducts a
Summer Home at Bath Beach where the girls are given a week's vacation, and
the boys a day's outing; a cottage for crippled girls, and at Coney Island
a Health Home for mothers with sick children. Sick and well, some ten
thousand little ones were reached by them last year. The delight of a
splash in the "big water" every day is the children's at Bath. Two
hundred at a time, the boys plunge in headlong and strike out manfully for
the Jersey shore, thirteen miles away; but the recollection of the
merry-go-round with the marvellous wooden beasts, the camera obscura, the
scups, and the flying machine on shore, not to mention the promised
lemonade and cake, makes them turn back before yet they have reached the
guard-boat where they cease to touch bottom. The girls, less boisterous,
but quite as happy, enjoy the sight of the windmill "where they make the
wind that makes it so nice and cool," the swings and the dinner, rarely
forgetting, at first, after eating as much as they can possibly hold, to
hide something away for their next meal, lest the unexampled abundance
give out too soon. That it should last a whole week seems to them too
unreasonable to risk.


[Illustration: MAKING FOR THE "BIG WATER."]


At the Health Home more than eighteen hundred sick babies were cared for
last year. They are carried down, pale and fretful, in their mother's
arms, and at the end of the week come back running at her side. The effect
of the sea-air upon a child sick with the summer scourge of the tenements,
cholera infantum, is little less than miraculous. Even a ride on a river
ferryboat is often enough to put life into the weary little body again.
The salt breeze no sooner fans the sunken cheeks than the fretful wail is
hushed and the baby slumbers, quietly, restfully, to wake with a laugh and
an appetite, on the way to recovery. The change is so sudden that even the
mother is often deceived and runs in alarm for the doctor, thinking that
the end is at hand.

Scores of such scenes are witnessed daily in the floating hospital of St.
John's Guild, the great marine cradle that goes down the Bay every
week-day, save Saturday, in July and August, with hundreds upon hundreds
of wailing babies and their mothers. Twice a week it is the west-siders'
turn; on three days it gathers its cargo along the East River, where
crowds with yellow tickets stand anxiously awaiting its arrival. The
floating hospital carries its own staff of physicians, including a
member of the Health Department's corps of tenement doctors, who is on the
lookout for chance contagion. The summer corps is appointed by the Health
Board upon the approach of hot weather and begins a systematic canvass of
the tenements immediately after the Fourth of July, followed by the King's
Daughters' nurses, who take up the doctor's work where he had to leave it.
With his prescription pad he carries a bunch of tickets for the Floating
Hospital, and the tickets usually give out first. Any illness that is not
contagious is the baby's best plea for admission. It never pleads in vain,
unless it be well and happy, and even then it is allowed to go along, if
there is no other way for the mother to get off with its sick sister. For
those who need more than one day's outing, the Guild maintains a Seaside
hospital, three hours' sail down the Bay, on Staten Island, where mother
and child may remain without a cent of charge until the rest, the fresh
air, and the romp on the beach have given the baby back health and
strength. Opposite the hospital, but out at sea where the breeze has free
play over the crowded decks, the great hospital barge anchors every day
while the hungry hosts are fed and the children given a salt-water bath on
board.


[Illustration: FLOATING HOSPITAL--ST. JOHN'S GUILD.]


St. John's Guild is not, as some have supposed from its name, a
denominational charity. It is absolutely neutral in matters of sect and
religion, leaving the Church to take care of the soul while it heals the
body of the child. It is so with the Bartholdi Crèche on Randall's Island,
in the shadow of the city's Foundling Hospital, that ferries children over
the river for a romp on the smooth, green lawns, on presentation of a
ticket with the suggestive caution printed on the back that "all persons
behaving rudely or taking liberties will be sent back by the first boat."
"The Little Mothers" Aid Society follows the same plan in reaching out for
the little home worker whose work never ends, the girl upon whom falls the
burden and responsibility of caring for the perennial baby when scarcely
more than a baby herself, often even the cooking and all the rest of the
housework so that the mother may have her own hands free to help earn the
family living. These little slaves the Society drums up, "hires" the baby
attended in a nursery if need be, and carries the little mother off for a
day in the woods up at Pelham Bay Park where the Park Commissioners have
set a house on the beach apart for their use in the summer months. There
was much opposition to this plan at first among the East Side Jews, whose
children needed the outing more sorely than any other class; but when a
few of the more venturesome had come back well-fed, in clean clothes,
whereas they went out in rags, and reported that they had escaped baptism,
the sentiment of Ludlow Street underwent a change, and so persistent were
the raids made upon the Society's chaperones after that that they had to
take another route for awhile, lest their resources should be swamped in a
single trip. The United Hebrew Charities, like many other relief societies
with a special field, provide semi-weekly excursions for the poorest of
their own people, and maintain a sea-side sanitarium for the sick
children.

There is no lack of fresh air charities nowadays. Their number is
increasing year by year and so is their helpfulness, though it has come to
a pass where it is necessary to exercise some care to prevent them from
lapping over, as Sunday School Christmas-trees have been known to do, and
opening the way for mischief. There can be no doubt that their civilizing
influence is great. It could hardly be otherwise, with the same lessons
of cleanliness and decency enforced year after year. The testimony is that
there is an improvement; the children come better "groomed" for
inspection. The lesson has reached the mother and the home. The subtler
lesson of the flowers, the fields, the sky, and the sea, and of the
kindness that asked no reward, has not been lost either. One very striking
fact this charity has brought out that is most hopeful. It emphasizes the
difference I pointed out between the material we have here to work upon in
these children and that which is the despair of philanthropists abroad, in
England for instance. We are told of children there who, coming from their
alleys into the field, "are able to feel no touch of kinship between
themselves and Mother Nature"[19] when brought into her very presence. Not
so with ours. They may "guess" that the sea is salt because it is full of
codfish; may insist that the potatoes are home-made "cause I seen the
garding;" both of which were actual opinions expressed by the Bath Beach
summer boarders; but the interest, the sympathy, the hearty appreciation
of it, is there always, the most encouraging symptom of all. Down in the
worst little ruffian's soul there is, after all, a tender spot not yet
pre-empted by the slum. And Mother Nature touches it at once. They are
chums on the minute.



CHAPTER XI.

THE KINDERGARTENS AND NURSERIES


If the influence of an annual cleaning up is thus distinctly traced in the
lives of the children, what must be the effect of the daily teaching of
the kindergarten, in which soap is always the moral agent that leads all
the rest? I have before me the inventory of purchases for a single school
of this kind that was started a year ago in a third loft of a Suffolk
Street tenement. It included several boxes of soap and soap-dishes, 200
feet of rope, 10 bean-bags, 24 tops, 200 marbles, a box of chalk, a
base-ball outfit for indoor use, a supply of tiddledywinks and "sliced
animals," and 20 clay pipes. The pipes were not for lessons in smoking,
but to smooth the way for a closer acquaintance with the soap by the
friendly intervention of the soap-bubble. There were other games and no
end of colored paper to cut up, the dear delight of childhood, but made in
the hands and under the eyes of the teacher to train eye and hand while
gently but firmly cementing the friendship ushered in by the gorgeous
bubble. No wonder, with such a stock, a mother complained that she had to
whip her Jimmie to keep him home.

Without a doubt the kindergarten is one of the longest steps forward that
has yet been taken in the race with poverty; for in gathering in the
children it is gradually, but surely, conquering also the street with its
power for mischief. There is only one force that, to my mind, exerts an
even stronger influence upon the boys' lives especially; I mean the club,
of which I shall speak presently. But that comes at a later stage. The
kindergarten begins at the very beginning, and in the best of all ways,
with the children's play. What it does, counts at both ends on that tack.
Very soon it makes itself felt in the street and in what goes on there, as
anyone can see for himself by observing the children's play in a tenement
neighborhood where there is a kindergarten and again where there is none,
while by imperceptibly turning the play into work that teaches habits of
observation and of industry that stick, it builds a strong barrier against
the doctrine of the slum that the world owes one a living, which lies in
ambush for the lad on every grog-shop corner. And all corners in the
tenement districts are grog-shop corners. Beyond all other considerations,
beyond its now admitted function as the right beginning of all education,
whether of rich or poor, its war upon the street stands to me as the true
office of the kindergarten in a city like New York, with a tenement-house
population of a million and a quarter souls.[20] The street itself owns
it, with virtual surrender. Hostile as its normal attitude is to every new
agency of reform, the best with the worst, I have yet to hear of the first
instance in which a kindergarten has been molested by the toughest
neighborhood, or has started a single dead cat on a post-mortem career of
window-smashing, whether it sprang from Christian, Jewish, or heathen
humanity. There is scarce a mission or a boy's club in the city that can
say as much.

The kindergarten is no longer an experiment in New York. Probably as many
as a hundred are to-day in operation, or will be when the recently
expressed purpose of the Board of Education to make the kindergarten a
part of the public school system has been fully carried out. The
Children's Aid Society alone conducts a dozen in connection with its
industrial schools, and the New York Kindergarten Association nine, if its
intention of opening two new schools by the time this book is in the
printer's hands is realized. There is no theology, though there is a heap
of religion in most of them. Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Theosophists,
and Ethical Culturists, if I may so call them, men of one or of various
opinions, or of none, concerning the hereafter, alike make use of the
kindergarten as a means of reaching and saving the shipwrecked of the
present. Sometimes the Sunday School is made to serve as a feeder for the
kindergarten, or the kindergarten for the Sunday School. Sometimes the
wisdom that wrests success from doubt and perplexity is expressed in the
fundamental resolution that the kindergarten "shall not be a Sunday
School." The system is the same in all cases with very little change. "We
have tried it and seen it tried with various kinks and variations," said
one of the old managers of the Children's Aid Society to me, "but after
all there is only one way, the way of the great kindergartner who said,
'We learn by doing.'"

A clean face is the ticket of admission to the kindergarten. A clean or
whole frock is wisely not insisted upon too firmly at the start; torn or
dirty clothes are not so easily mended as a smudged face, but the
kindergarten reaches that too in the end, and by the same road as the
Fresh Air scrubbing--the home. Once he is let in, the child is in for a
general good time that has little of school or visible discipline to
frighten him. He joins in the ring for the familiar games, delighted to
find that the teacher knows them too, and can be "It" and his "fair lady"
in her turn. He does not notice the little changes the game has undergone,
the kindergarten touch here and there that lifts it out of the mud; but
the street does presently, when the new version is transferred to it, and
is the better for it. After the game there are a hundred things for him to
do that do not seem like work in the least. Between threading colored
beads, cutting and folding pink and green papers in all sorts of odd
ways, as boats and butterflies and fancy baskets; moulding, pasting,
drawing, weaving and blowing soap-bubbles when all the rest has ceased to
hold his attention, the day slips by like a beautiful dream, and he flatly
refuses to believe that it is gone when the tenement home claims him
again. Not infrequently he goes home howling, to be found the next morning
waiting at the door an hour before the teacher comes. Little Jimmie's
mother says that he gets up at six o'clock to go to the Fifty-first Street
kindergarten, and that she has to whip him to make him wait until nine.


[Illustration: PLAYING AT HOUSEKEEPING.]


The hours pass with happy play that slowly but surely moulds head, hand,
and heart together. The utmost freedom is allowed, but it stops short of
the license of the street. Its law of violence is replaced by the law of
love. The child learns to govern himself. Not at once; I observed two or
three black eyes during a tour of a half-score kindergartens, last June,
that showed that the street yielded its reign reluctantly. During my visit
to the East Sixty-third Street school I became interested in a little
fellow who was its special pet and the ward of the Alumnæ of the Normal
college, who through the New York Kindergarten Association had established
and maintained the school. Johnny was a sweet little fellow, one of eight
children from a wretched tenement home down the street into which the
kindergartner had found her way. The youngest of the eight was a baby that
was getting so big and heavy that it half killed the mother to drag it
around when she went out working, and the father, with a consideration for
her that was generously tempered with laziness, was considering the
advisability of staying home to take care of it himself, "so as to give
her a show." There was a refinement of look and manner, if not of dress,
about little Johnny after he was washed clean, that made the tenement
setting seem entirely too plebeian for him, and his rescuers had high
hopes of his future. I regret to say that I saw the pet, before I left,
deliberately knock the smallest baby in the school down, and when he was
banished from the ring in consequence and condemned to take his howling
playmate over in the corner and show her pictures until he repented, take
an unworthy revenge by pinching her surreptitiously until she howled
louder. Worse than that, when the baby had finally been comforted with a
headless but squeaking toy sheep, he secretly pulled the insides and the
ba-a out of the lambkin through its broken neck, when no one was looking.
I was told that Johnny was believed to have the making of a diplomat in
his little five-year-old body, and I think it very likely--of a politician
anyway.

While this was going on, another boy, twice as large as Johnny, had been
temporarily exiled from the ring for clumsiness. It was even more
hopelessly constitutional, to all appearances, than Johnny's Machiavelian
cunning. In the game he had persistently stumbled over his own feet. Made
to take a seat at the long table, he fell off his chair twice in one
minute from sheer embarrassment. In luminous contrast to his awkwardness
was the desperate agility of a little Irishman I had just left in another
kindergarten. Each time he was told to take his seat, which was about
every ten seconds, he would perform the feat with great readiness by
climbing over the back of the chair as a dog climbs over a fence, to the
consternation of the teacher, whose reproachful "O Alexander!" he disarmed
with a cheerful "I'm all right, Miss Brown," and an offer to shake hands.

Let it not be inferred from this that the kindergarten is the home of
disorder. Just the reverse. Order and prompt obedience are the cardinal
virtues taught there, but taught in such a way as to make the lesson seem
all fun and play to the child. It sticks all the better. It is the
province of the kindergarten to rediscover, as it were, the natural
feelings the tenement had smothered. But for its appeal, the love of the
beautiful might slumber in those children forever. In their homes there is
nothing to call it into life. The ideal of the street is caricature,
burlesque, if nothing worse. Under the gentle training of the
kindergartner the slumbering instinct blossoms forth in a hundred
different ways, from the day the little one first learns the difference
between green and red by stringing colored beads for a necklace "for
teacher," until later on he is taught to make really pretty things of
pasteboard and chips to take home for papa and mamma to keep. And they do
keep them, proud of the child--who would not?--and their influence is felt
where mayhap there was darkness and dirt only before. So the kindergarten
reaches directly into the home, too, and thither follows the teacher, if
she is the right kind, with encouragement and advice that is not lost
either. No door is barred against her who comes in the children's name. In
the truest and best sense she is a missionary to the poor.

Nearly all the kindergartens in this city are crowded. Many have scores of
applicants upon the register whom they cannot receive. There are no
truants among their pupils. All of the New York Kindergarten Association's
schools are crowded, and new are added as fast as the necessary funds are
contributed. The Association was organized in the fall of 1889 with the
avowed purpose of engrafting the kindergarten upon the public school
system of the city, through persistent agitation. There had been no
official recognition of it up till that time. The Normal School
kindergarten was an experiment not countenanced by the School Board. The
Association has now accomplished its purpose, but its work, far from being
ended, has but just begun. It is doubtful if all the kindergartens in the
city, including those now in the public schools, accommodate much more
than five or six thousand children, if that number. The last sanitary
census showed that there were 160,708 children under five years old in the
tenements. At least half of these are old enough to be in a kindergarten,
and ought to be, seeing how little schooling they will get after they
outgrow it. That leaves in round numbers 75,000 children yet to be so
provided for in New York's tenements. There is no danger that the
kindergarten will become too "common" in this city for a while yet. As an
adjunct to the public school in preparing the young minds for more serious
tasks, it is admitted by teachers to be most valuable. But its greatest
success is as a jail deliverer. "The more kindergartens the fewer prisons"
is a saying the truth of which the generation that comes after us will be
better able to grasp than we.

The kindergarten is the city's best truant officer. Not only has it no
truants itself, but it ferrets out a lot who are truants from necessity,
not from choice, and delivers them over to the public school. There are
lots of children who are kept at home because someone has to mind the baby
while father and mother earn the bread for the little mouths. The
kindergarten steps in and releases these little prisoners. If the baby is
old enough to hop around with the rest, the kindergarten takes it. If it
can only crawl and coo, there is the nursery annex. Sometimes it is an
independent concern. Almost every church or charity that comes into
direct touch with the poor has nowadays its nursery where poor mothers may
leave their children to be cared for while they are out working. Relief
more practical could not be devised. A small fee, usually five cents, is
charged as a rule for each baby. Pairs come cheaper, and three go for ten
cents at the nursery in the Wilson mission. Over 50,000 babies were
registered there last year, which meant, if not 5,000 separate children,
at least 5,000 days' work and wages to poor mothers in dire need of both,
and a good, clean, healthy start for the infants, a better than the
tenement could have given them. To keep them busy, when the rocking-horse
and the picture-book have lost their charm, the kindergarten grows
naturally out of the nursery, where that was the beginning, just as the
nursery stepped in to supplement the kindergarten where that had the lead.
The two go hand in hand. The soap cure is even more potent in the nursery
than in the kindergarten, as a silent rebuke to the mother, who rarely
fails to take the hint. At the Five Points House of Industry the children
who come in for the day receive a general scrubbing twice a week, and the
whole neighborhood has a cleaner look after it. The establishment has come
to be known among the ragamuffins of Paradise Park as "the school where
dey washes 'em." Its value as a moral agent may be judged from the
statements of the Superintendent that some of the children "cried at the
sight of a washtub," as if it were some new and hideous instrument of
torture for their oppression.

Private benevolence in this, as in all measures for the relief of the
poor, has been a long way ahead of public action; properly so, though it
has seemed sometimes that we might as a body make a little more haste and
try to catch up. It has lately, by the establishment of children's
play-grounds in certain tenement districts, west and east, provided a kind
of open-air kindergarten that has hit the street in a vital spot. These
play-grounds do not take the place of the small parks which the city has
neglected to provide, but they show what a boon these will be some day.
There are at present, as far as I know, three of them, not counting the
back-yard "beaches" and "Coney Islands," that have made the practical
missionaries of the College Settlement, the King's Daughters' Tenement
Chapter, and like helpers of the poor, solid with their little friends.
One of them, the largest, is in Ninety-second Street, on the East Side,
another at the foot of West Fiftieth Street, and still another in West
Twenty-eighth Street, between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues, the block long
since well named Poverty Gap. Two, three, or half a dozen vacant lots,
borrowed or leased of the owner, have been levelled out, a few loads of
sand dumped in them for the children to dig in; scups, swings, and
see-saws, built of rough timber; a hydrant in the corner; little
wheelbarrows, toy-spades and pails to go round, and the outfit is
complete. Two at least of the three are supported each by a single
generous woman, who pays the salaries of a man janitor and of two women
"teachers" who join in the children's play, strike up "America" and the
"Star Spangled Banner" when they tire of "Sally in our Alley" and
"Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay," and by generally taking a hand in what goes on
manage to steer it into safe and mannerly ways.


[Illustration: POVERTY GAPPERS PLAYING CONEY ISLAND.]


More than two hundred children were digging, swinging, see-sawing, and
cavorting about the Poverty Gap playground when I looked in on a hot
Saturday afternoon last July. Long files of eager girls, whose shrill
voices used to make the echoes of the Gap ring with angry clamor, awaited
their turn at the scups, quiet as mice and without an ill word when they
trod upon each other's toes. The street that used to swarm with
mischievous imps was as quiet as a church. The policeman on the beat stood
swinging his club idly in the gate. It was within sight of this spot that
the Alley Gang beat one of his comrades half to death for telling them to
go home and let decent people pass; the same gang which afterward murdered
young Healey for the offence of being a decent, hard-working lad, who was
trying to support his aged father and mother by his work. The Healeys
lived in one of the rear houses that stood where the children now skip at
their play, and the murder was done on his doorstep. The next morning I
found the gang camping on a vacant floor in the adjoining den, as if
nothing had happened. The tenants knew the toughs were there, but were
afraid of betraying them. All that was only a couple of years ago; but a
marvellous transformation had been wrought in the Gap. The toughs were
gone, with the old tenements that harbored them. Poverty Gap itself was
gone. A decent flat had taken the place of the shanty across the street
where a 'longshoreman kicked his wife to death in drunken rage. And this
play-ground, with its swarms of happy children who a year ago would have
pelted the stranger with mud from behind the nearest truck--that was the
greatest change of all. The retiring toughs have dubbed it "Holy Terror
Park" in memory of what it was, not of what it is. Poverty Park the
policeman called it, with more reason. It was not exactly an attractive
place. A single stunted ailanthus tree struggled over the fence of the
adjoining yard, the one green spot between ugly and ragged brick walls.
The "sand" was as yet all mud and dirt, and the dust the many little feet
kicked up was smothering. But the children thought it lovely, and lovely
it was for Poverty Gap, if not for Fifth Avenue.


[Illustration: POVERTY GAP TRANSFORMED--THE SPOT WHERE YOUNG HEALEY WAS
MURDERED IS NOW A PLAYGROUND.]


I came back to my office to find a letter there from a rich man who lives
on the Avenue, offering to make another Poverty Park for the
tenement-house children of another street, if he had to buy the lots. I
told him the story of Poverty Gap and bade him go and see for himself if
he could spend his money to better purpose. There are no play-grounds yet
below Fourteenth Street and room and need for fifty. The Alley and the
Avenue could not meet on a plane that argues better for the understanding
between the two that has been too long and needlessly delayed.



CHAPTER XII.

THE INDUSTRIAL SCHOOLS


That "dirt is a disease," and their mission to cure it, was the new gospel
which the managers of the Children's Aid Society carried to the slums a
generation ago. In practice they have not departed from their profession.
Their pill is the Industrial School, their plaster a Western farm and a
living chance in exchange for the tenement and the city slum. The
wonder-cures they have wrought by such simple treatment have been many. In
the executive chair of a sovereign State sits to-day a young man who
remembers with gratitude and pride the day they took him in hand and, of
the material the street would have moulded into a tough, made an honorable
man and a governor. And from among the men whose careers of usefulness
began in the Society's schools, and who to-day, as teachers, ministers,
lawyers, and editors, are conspicuous ornaments of the communities, far
and near, in which they have made their homes, he would have no difficulty
in choosing a cabinet that would do credit and honor to his government.
Prouder monument could be erected to no man's memory than this record at
the grave of the late Charles Loring Brace, the founder of the Children's
Aid Society.


[Illustration: THE LATE CHARLES LORING BRACE, FOUNDER OF THE CHILDREN'S
AID SOCIETY.]


The Industrial School plants itself squarely in the gap between the
tenement and the public school. If it does not fill it, it at least
spreads itself over as much of it as it can, and in that position
demonstrates that this land of lost or missing opportunities is not the
barren ground once supposed, but of all soil the most fruitful, if
properly tilled. Wherever the greatest and the poorest crowds are, there
also is the Industrial School. The Children's Aid Society maintains
twenty-one in seventeen of the city's twenty-four wards, not counting
twelve evening schools, five of which are in the Society's
lodging-houses. It is not alone in the field. The American Female Guardian
Society conducts twelve such day schools, and individual efforts in the
same direction are not wanting. The two societies' schools last year
reached a total enrolment of nearly fifteen thousand children, and an
average attendance of almost half that number. Slum children, all of them.
Only such are sought and admitted. The purpose of the schools, in the
language of the last report of the Children's Aid Society, whose work,
still carried on with the aggressive enthusiasm that characterized its
founder, may well be taken as typical and representative in this field,
"is to receive and educate children who cannot be accepted by the public
schools, either by reason of their ragged and dirty condition, or owing to
the fact that they can attend but part of the time, because they are
obliged to sell papers or to stay at home to help their parents. The
children at our schools belong to the lowest and poorest class of people
in the city." They are children, therefore, who to a very large extent
speak another language at home than the one they come to the school to
learn, and often have to work their way in by pantomime. It is encouraging
to know that these schools are almost always crowded to their utmost
capacity.

A census of the Society's twenty-one day schools, that was taken last
April, showed that they contained that day 5,132 pupils, of whom 198 were
kindergarten children under five years of age, 2,347 between five and
seven, and 2,587 between eight and fourteen years of age. Considerably
more than ten per cent.--the exact number was 571--did not understand
questions put to them in English. They were there waiting to "catch on,"
silent but attentive observers of what was going on, until such time as
they should be ready to take a hand in it themselves. Divided according to
nativity, 2,082 of the children were found to be of foreign birth. They
hailed from 22 different countries; 3,050 were born in this country, but
they were able to show only 1,009 native parents out of 6,991 whose
pedigrees could be obtained. The other 5,176 were foreign born, and only
810 of them claimed English as their mother-tongue. This was the showing
the chief nationalities made in the census:

  -------------+---------+--------
    Born in.   |Children.|Parents.
  -------------+---------+--------
  United States|  3,050  | 1,009
  -------------+---------+--------
  Italy        |  1,066  | 2,354
  -------------+---------+--------
  Germany      |    460  | 1,819
  -------------+---------+--------
  Bohemia      |    198  |   720
  -------------+---------+--------
  Ireland      |     98  |   583
  -------------+---------+--------


At that time the Jewish children were crowding into the Monroe Street and
some other schools, at a rate that promised to put them in complete
possession before long. Upon this lowest level, as upon every other where
they come into competition with the children of Christian parents, they
distanced them easily, taking all the prizes that were to be had for
regular attendance, proficiency in studies, and good conduct generally.
Generally these prizes consisted of shoes or much-needed clothing. Often,
as in the Monroe Street School, the bitter poverty of the homes that gave
up the children to the school because there they would receive the one
square meal of the day, made a loaf of bread the most acceptable reward,
and the teachers gladly took advantage of it as the means of forging
another link in the chain to bind home and school, parents, children, and
teachers, firmly together.

This "square meal" is a chief element in the educational plan of most of
the schools, because very often it is the one hot meal the little ones
receive--not infrequently, as I have said, the only one of the day that is
worthy of the name. It is not an elaborate or expensive affair, though
substantial and plentiful. At the West Side Industrial School, on Seventh
Avenue, where one day, not long ago, I watched a file of youngsters
crowding into the dining-room with glistening eyes and happy faces, the
cost of the dinners averaged 2-1/2 cents last year. In a specimen month
they served there 4,080 meals and compared this showing gleefully with the
record of the old School in Twenty-ninth Street, nine years before. The
largest number of dinners served there in any one month, was 2,666. It is
perhaps a somewhat novel way of measuring the progress of a school: by the
amount of eating done on the premises. But it is a very practical one, as
the teachers have found out. Yet it is not used as a bait. Care is taken
that only those are fed who would otherwise go without their dinner, and
it is served only in winter, when the need of "something warm" is
imperative. In the West Side School, as in most of the others, the dinners
are furnished by some one or more practical philanthropists, whose pockets
as well as their hearts are in the work. The schools themselves, like the
Society's lodging-houses for homeless children, stand as lasting monuments
to a Christian charity that asks no other reward than the consciousness of
having done good where the need was great. Sometimes the very name of the
generous giver is unknown to all the world save the men who built as he or
she directed. The benefactor is quite as often a devoted woman as a rich
and charitable man, who hides his munificence under a modesty unsuspected
by a community that applauds and envies his shrewd and successful
business ventures, but never hears of the investment that paid him and it
best of all.

According to its location, the school is distinctively Italian, Bohemian,
Hebrew or mixed; the German, Irish, and colored children coming in under
this head, and mingling usually without the least friction. The Leonard
Street School and the West Side Italian School in Sullivan Street are
devoted wholly to the little swarthy Southerners. In the Leonard Street
School alone there were between five and six hundred Italian children on
the register last year; but in the Beach Street School, and in the Astor
Memorial School in Mott Street they are fast crowding the Irish element,
that used to possess the land, to the wall. So, in Monroe Street and East
Broadway are the Jewish children. Neither the teachers nor the Society's
managers are in any danger of falling into sleepy routine ways. The
conditions with which they have to deal are constantly changing; new
problems are given them to solve before the old are fairly worked out, old
prejudices to be forgotten or worked over into a new and helpful interest.
And they do it bravely, and are more than repaid for their devotion by the
real influence they find themselves exerting upon the young lives which
had never before felt the touch of genuine humane sympathy, or been
awakened to the knowledge that somebody cared for them outside of their
own dark slum.

All the children are not as tractable as the Russian Jews or the Italians.
The little Irishman, brimful of mischief, is, like his father, in the
school and in the street, "ag'in' the government" on general principles,
though in a jovial way that often makes it hard to sit in judgment on his
tricks with serious mien. He feels, too, that to a certain extent he has
the sympathy of his father in his unregenerate state, and is the more to
be commended if he subdues the old Adam in himself and allows the
instruction to proceed. The hardest of them all to deal with, until he has
been won over as a friend and ally, is perhaps the Bohemian child. He
inherits, with some of his father's obstinacy, all of his hardships, his
bitter poverty and grinding work. School to him is merely a change of
tasks in an unceasing round that leaves no room for play. If he lingers on
the way home to take a hand in a stolen game of ball, the mother is
speedily on his track. Her instruction to the teacher is not to let the
child stay "a minute after three o'clock." He is wanted at home to roll
cigars or strip tobacco-leaves for his father, while the mother gets the
evening meal ready. The Bohemian has his own cause for the reserve that
keeps him a stranger in a strange land after living half his life among
us; his reception has not been altogether hospitable, and it is not only
his hard language and his sullen moods that are to blame. All the better
he knows the value of the privilege that is offered his child, and will
"drive him to school with sticks" if need be; an introduction that might
be held to account for a good deal of reasonable reluctance, even
hostility to the school, in the pupil. The teacher has only to threaten
the intractable ones with being sent home to bring them round. And yet, it
is not that they are often cruelly treated there. On the contrary, the
Bohemian is an exceptionally tender and loving father, perhaps because his
whole life is lived with his family at home, in the tenement that is his
shop and his world. He simply proposes that his child shall enjoy the
advantages that are denied him--denied partly perhaps because of his
refusal to accept them, but still from his point of view denied. And he
takes a short cut to that goal by sending the child to school. The result
is that the old Bohemian disappears in the first generation born upon our
soil. His temper remains to some extent, it is true. He still has his
surly streaks, refuses to sing or recite in school when the teacher or
something else does not suit him, and can never be driven where yet he is
easily led; but as he graduates into the public school and is thrown more
into contact with the children of more light-hearted nationalities, he
grows into that which his father would have long since become, had he not
got a wrong start: a loyal American, proud of his country, and a useful
citizen.

In the school in East Seventy-third Street, of which I am thinking, there
was last winter, besides the day school of some four hundred pupils, an
evening class of big factory girls, most of them women grown, that vividly
illustrated the difficulties that beset teaching in the Bohemian quarter.
It had been got together with much difficulty by the principal and one of
the officers of the Society, who gave up his nights and his own home life
to the work of instructing the school. On the night when it opened, he was
annoyed by a smell of tobacco in the hallways and took the janitor to task
for smoking in the building. The man denied the charge, and Mr. H---- went
hunting through the house for the offender with growing indignation, as he
found the teachers in the class-rooms sneezing and sniffing the air to
locate the source of the infliction. It was not until later in the
evening, when the sneezing fit took him too as he was bending over a group
of the girls to examine their slates, that he discovered it to be a
feature of the new enterprise. The perfume was part of the school. Without
it, it could not go on. The girls were all cigar makers; so were their
parents at home. The shop and the tenement were organized on the tobacco
plan, and the school must needs adopt it with what patience it could, if
its business were to proceed.

It did, and got on fairly well until a reporter found his way into it and
roused the resentment of the girls by some inconsiderate, if well-meant,
criticisms of their ways. The rebellion he caused was quelled with
difficulty by Mr. H----, who re-established his influence over them at
this point and gained their confidence by going to live among them in the
school-house with his family. Still the sullen moods, the nightly
ructions. The girls were as ready to fight as to write, in their fits of
angry spite, until my friend was almost ready to declare with the angry
Irishman, that he would have peace in the house if he had to whip all
hands to get it. Christmas was at hand with its message of peace and
good-will, but the school was more than usually unruly, when one night, in
despair, he started to read a story to them to lay the storm. It was Hans
Christian Andersen's story of the little girl who sold matches and lighted
her way to mother and heaven with them as she sat lonely and starved,
freezing to death in the street on New Year's eve. As match after match
went out with the pictures of home, of warmth, and brightness it had shown
the child, and her trembling fingers fumbled eagerly with the bunch to
call them back, a breathless hush fell upon the class, and when the story
was ended, and Mr. H---- looked up with misty eyes, he found the whole
class in tears. The picture of friendless poverty, more bitterly desolate
than any even they had known, had gone to their hearts and melted them.
The crisis was passed and peace restored.

A crisis of another kind came later, when the pupils' "young men" got into
the habit of coming to see the girls home. They waited outside until
school was dismissed, and night after night Mr. H---- found a ball in
progress on the sidewalk when the girls should long have been home. The
mothers complained and the success of the class was imperilled. Their
passion for dancing was not to be overcome. They would give up the school
first. Mr. H---- thought the matter out and took a long step--a perilous
one. He started a dancing-class, and on certain nights in the week taught
the girls the lanciers instead of writing and spelling. Simultaneously he
wrote to every mother that the school was not to be blamed if the girls
were not home at ten minutes after nine o'clock; it was dismissed at 8.55
sharp every night. The thing took tremendously. The class filled right up,
complaints ceased, and everything was lovely, when examination day
approached with the annual visit of friends and patrons. My friend awaited
its coming with fear and trembling. There was no telling what the
committee might say to the innovation. The educational plan of the Society
is most liberal, but the lanciers was a step even the broadest of its
pedagogues had not yet ventured upon. The evil day came at last, and, full
of forebodings, Mr. H---- had the girls soothe their guests with cakes and
lemonade of their own brewing, until they were in a most amiable mood.
Then, when they expected the reading to begin, with a sinking heart he
bade them dance. The visitors stared in momentary amazement, but at the
sight of the happy faces in the quadrilles, and the enthusiasm of the
girls, they caught the spirit of the thing and applauded to the echo. The
dancing-class was a success, and so has the school been ever since.

As far as I know, this is the only instance in which the quadrille has
been made one of the regular English branches taught in the Industrial
Schools. But cake and lemonade have more than once smoothed the way to a
hearty acceptance of the three R's with their useful concomitants, as
taught there. One of the excellent features of the system is the "kitchen
garden," for the little ones, a kind of play housekeeping that covers the
whole range of house-work, and the cooking class for the larger girls that
gives many of them a taste for housekeeping which helps to overcome their
prejudice against domestic service, and so to solve one of the most
perplexing questions of the day--no less serious to the children of the
poor than to the wives of the rich, if they only knew or would believe it.
It is the custom of the wise teachers, when the class has become
proficient, to invite the mothers to a luncheon gotten up by their
children. "I never," reports the teacher of the Eighteenth Ward Industrial
School after such a session, "saw women so thoroughly interested." And it
was not only the mother who was thus won over in the pride over her
daughter's achievement. It was the home itself that was invaded with
influences that had been strangers to it heretofore. For the mother
learned something she would not be apt to forget, by seeing her child do
intelligently and economically what she had herself done ignorantly and
wastefully before. Poverty and waste go always hand in hand. The girls are
taught, with the doing of a thing, enough also of the chemistry of cooking
to enable them to understand the "why" of it. The influence of that sort
of teaching in the tenement of the poor no man can measure. I am well
persuaded that half of the drunkenness that makes so many homes miserable
is at least encouraged, if not directly caused, by the mismanagement and
bad cooking at home. All the wife and mother knows about housekeeping she
has picked up in the tenement since she was married, among those who
never knew how to cook a decent meal or set a clean table; while the
saloonkeeper hires the best cook he can get for money, and serves his hot
lunch free to her husband in a tidy and cheerful room, where no tired
women--tired of the trials and squabbles of the day--no cross looks, and
no dirty, fighting children come to spoil his appetite and his hour of
rest.

Here, as everywhere, it is the personal influence of the teacher that
counts for most in dealing with the child. It follows it into the home,
and often through life to the second and third generation, smoothing the
way of trouble and sorrow and hardship with counsel and aid in a hundred
ways. "Sometimes," says one of the teachers, who has seen the children of
her first pupils go from her school into their own homes to take up the
battle of life, "sometimes a teacher, while conducting a class, is also
fashioning, from some soft white material, a shroud for some little one
whose parents can provide none themselves. When a child dies of a disease
that is not contagious, its classmates gather around the coffin and sing
in German or English, 'I am Jesus's little lamb.' Sometimes the children's
hymn and the Lord's Prayer are the only service." Her life work has been
among the poorest Germans on the East Side. "Among our young men," she
reports, "I know of only three who have become drunkards, and many are
stanch temperance men. I have never known of one of our girls drinking to
excess. I have looked carefully over our records, and can truly say that,
so far as I can learn, not one girl who remained with us until over
seventeen lived a life of shame."

What teaching meant to this woman the statement that follows gives an idea
of: "Shrove Tuesday evening is a time when all Germans plan for a frolic;
they call it 'Fastnacht.' Twenty years ago I gave the young people of the
evening school a party on that evening, and at the suggestion of one of
the girls decided to have a reunion every year at that time. So each year
our married girls and boys, and those still unmarried, who have grown
beyond us in other ways, come 'home.' We sing the old songs, talk over old
times, play games, drink coffee and eat doughnuts, and always end the
evening with 'Auld Lang Syne.' Last spring, two of the young men stood at
the stairway and counted the guests as they went to the supper-room: they
reported over four hundred. Letters came from Boston, Chicago,
Philadelphia, Washington, Texas, Idaho, and Wyoming from those who would
gladly have been with us. All who live within a radius of fifty miles try
to be here."

"Among our grown girls," she adds, "we have teachers, governesses,
dressmakers, milliners, trained nurses, machine operators, hand sewers,
embroiderers, designers for embroidering, servants in families,
saleswomen, book-keepers, typewriters, candy packers, bric-à-brac packers,
bank-note printers, silk winders, button makers, box makers, hairdressers,
and fur sewers. Among our boys are book-keepers, workers in stained glass,
painters, printers, lithographers, salesmen in wholesale houses, as well
as in many of our largest retail stores, typewriters, stenographers,
commission merchants, farmers, electricians, ship carpenters, foremen in
factories, grocers, carpet designers, silver engravers, metal burnishers,
carpenters, masons, carpet weavers, plumbers, stone workers, cigar makers,
and cigar packers. Only one of our boys, so far as we can learn, ever sold
liquor, and he has given it up."

Not a few of these, without a doubt, got the first inkling of their trade
in the class where they learned to read. The curriculum of the Industrial
Schools is comprehensive. The nationality of the pupils makes little or no
difference in it. The start, as often as is necessary, is made with an
object lesson--soap and water being the elements, and the child the
object. As in the kindergarten, the alphabet comes second on the list.
Then follow lessons in sewing, cooking, darning, mat-weaving, pasting, and
dressmaking for the girls, and in carpentry, wood carving, drawing,
printing, and like practical "branches" for the boys, not a few of whom
develop surprising cleverness at this or that kind of work. The system is
continually expanding. There are schools yet that have not the necessary
facilities for classes in manual training, but as the importance of the
subject is getting to be more clearly understood, and interest in the
subject grows, new "shops" are being constantly opened and other
occupations found for the children. Even where the school quarters are
most pinched and inadequate, a shift is made to give the children work to
do that will teach them habits of industry and precision as the
all-important lesson to be learned there. In some of the Industrial
Schools the boys learn to cook with the girls, and in the West Side
Italian School an attempt to teach them to patch and sew buttons on their
own jackets resulted last year in their making their own shirts, and
making them well, too. Perhaps the possession of the shirt as a reward for
making it acted as a stimulus. The teacher thought so, and she was
probably right, for more than one of them had never owned a whole shirt
before, let alone a clean one. A heap can be done with the children by
appealing to their proper pride--much more than many might think, judging
hastily from their rags. Call it vanity--if it is a kind of vanity that
can be made a stepping-stone to the rescue of the child, it is worth
laying hold of. It was distinct evidence that civilization and the
nineteenth century had invaded Lewis Street, when a class of Hungarian
boys in the American Female Guardian Society's school in that thoroughfare
earned the name of the "neck-tie class" by adopting that article of
apparel in a body. None of them had ever known collar or necktie before.


[Illustration: THE FIRST PATRIOTIC ELECTION IN THE BEACH STREET INDUSTRIAL
SCHOOL--PARLOR IN JOHN ERICSSON'S OLD HOUSE.]


It is the practice to let the girls have what garments they make, from
material, old or new, furnished by the school, and thus a good many of the
pupils in the Industrial Schools are supplied with decent clothing. In the
winter especially, some of them need it sadly. In the Italian school of
which I just spoke, one of the teachers found a little girl of six years
crying softly in her seat on a bitter cold day. She had just come in from
the street. In answer to the question what ailed her, she sobbed out,
"I'se so cold." And no wonder. Beside a worn old undergarment, all the
clothing upon her shivering little body was a thin calico dress. The soles
were worn off her shoes, and toes and heels stuck out. It seemed a marvel
that she had come through the snow and ice as she had, without having her
feet frozen.

Naturally the teacher would follow such a child into her home and there
endeavor to clinch the efforts begun for its reclamation in the school. It
is the very core and kernel of the Society's purpose not to let go of the
children of whom once it has laid hold, and to this end it employs its own
physicians to treat those who are sick, and to canvass the poorest
tenements in the summer months, on the plan pursued by the Health
Department. Last year these doctors, ten in number, treated 1,578 sick
children and 174 mothers. Into every sick-room and many wretched hovels,
daily bouquets of sweet flowers found their way too, visible tokens of a
sympathy and love in the world beyond--seemingly so far beyond the poverty
and misery of the slum--that had thought and care even for such as they.
Perhaps in the final reckoning these flowers, that came from friends far
and near, will have a story to tell that will outweigh all the rest. It
may be an "impracticable notion," as I have sometimes been told by
hard-headed men of business; but it is not always the hard head that
scores in work among the poor. The language of the heart is a tongue that
is understood in the poorest tenements where the English speech is
scarcely comprehended and rated little above the hovels in which the
immigrants are receiving their first lessons in the dignity of American
citizenship.

Very lately a unique exercise has been added to the course in these
schools, that lays hold of the very marrow of the problem with which they
deal. It is called "saluting the flag," and originated with Colonel George
T. Balch, of the Board of Education, who conceived the idea of instilling
patriotism into the little future citizens of the Republic in doses to
suit their childish minds. To talk about the Union, of which most of them
had but the vaguest notion, or of the duty of the citizen, of which they
had no notion at all, was nonsense. In the flag it was all found embodied
in a central idea which they could grasp. In the morning the star-spangled
banner was brought into the school, and the children were taught to salute
it with patriotic words. Then the best scholar of the day before was
called out of the ranks, and it was given to him or her to keep for the
day. The thing took at once and was a tremendous success.

Then was evolved the plan of letting the children decide for themselves
whether or not they would so salute the flag as a voluntary offering,
while incidentally instructing them in the duties of the voter at a time
when voting was the one topic of general interest. Ballot-boxes were set
up in the schools on the day before the last general election (1891). The
children had been furnished with ballots for and against the flag the week
before, and told to take them home to their parents and talk it over with
them, a very apt reminder to those who were naturalized citizens of their
own duties, then pressing. On the face of the ballot was the question to
be decided: "Shall the school salute the Nation's flag every day at the
morning exercises?" with a Yes and a No, to be crossed out as the voter
wished. On its back was printed a Voter's A, B, C, in large plain type,
easy to read:

"This country in which I live, and which is _my_ country, is called a
REPUBLIC. In a Republic, _the people govern_. The people who govern are
called _citizens_. I am one of the people and _a little citizen_.

"The way the citizens govern is, either by voting for the person whom they
want to represent them, or who will say what the people want him to
say--or by voting _for_ that thing they would like to do, or _against_
that thing which they do not want to do.

"The Citizen who votes is called a _voter_ or an _elector_, and the right
of voting is called the _suffrage_. The voter puts on a piece of paper
what he wants. The piece of paper is called a _Ballot_. THIS PIECE OF
PAPER IS MY BALLOT.

"The right of a Citizen to vote; the right to say what the citizen thinks
is best for himself and all the rest of the people; the right to say who
shall govern us and make laws for us, is A GREAT PRIVILEGE, A SACRED
TRUST, A VERY GREAT RESPONSIBILITY, which I must learn to exercise
conscientiously, and to the best of my knowledge and ability, as a little
Citizen of this great AMERICAN REPUBLIC."

On Monday the children cast their votes in the Society's twenty-one
Industrial Schools, with all the solemnity of a regular election and with
as much of its simple machinery as was practicable. Eighty-two per cent.
of the whole number of enrolled scholars turned out for the occasion, and
of the 4,306 votes cast, 88, not quite two per cent., voted against the
flag. Some of these, probably the majority, voted No under a
misapprehension, but there were a few exceptions. One little Irishman, in
the Mott Street school, came without his ballot. "The old man tored it
up," he reported. In the East Seventy-third Street school five Bohemians
of tender years set themselves down as opposed to the scheme of making
Americans of them. Only one, a little girl, gave her reason. She brought
her own flag to school: "I vote for that," she said, sturdily, and the
teacher wisely recorded her vote and let her keep the banner.

I happened to witness the election in the Beach Street school, where the
children are nearly all Italians. The minority elements were, however,
represented on the board of election inspectors by a colored girl and a
little Irish miss, who did not seem in the least abashed by the fact that
they were nearly the only representatives of their people in the school.
The tremendous show of dignity with which they took their seats at the
poll was most impressive. As a lesson in practical politics, the occasion
had its own humor. It was clear that the negress was most impressed with
the solemnity of the occasion, and the Irish girl with its practical
opportunities. The Italian's disposition to grin and frolic, even in her
new and solemn character, betrayed the ease with which she would, were it
real politics, become the game of her Celtic colleague. When it was all
over they canvassed the vote with all the solemnity befitting the
occasion, signed together a certificate stating the result, and handed it
over to the principal sealed in a manner to defeat any attempt at fraud.
Then the school sang Santa Lucia, a sweet Neapolitan ballad. It was
amusing to hear the colored girl and the half-dozen little Irish children
sing right along with the rest the Italian words, of which they did not
understand one. They had learned them from hearing them sung by the
others, and rolled them out just as loudly, if not as sweetly, as they.


[Illustration: THE BOARD OF ELECTION INSPECTORS IN THE BEACH STREET
SCHOOL.]


The first patriotic election in the Fifth Ward Industrial School was held
on historic ground. The house it occupies was John Ericsson's until his
death, and there he planned nearly all his great inventions, among them
one that helped save the flag for which the children voted that day. The
children have lived faithfully up to their pledge. Every morning sees the
flag carried to the principal's desk and all the little ones, rising at
the stroke of the bell, say with one voice: "We turn to our flag as the
sunflower turns to the sun!" One bell, and every brown right fist is
raised to the brow, as in military salute: "We give our heads!" Another
stroke, and the grimy little hands are laid on as many hearts: "and our
hearts!" Then with a shout that can be heard around the corner: "---- to
our country! One country, one language, one flag!" No one can hear it and
doubt that the children mean every word and will not be apt to forget that
lesson soon.

The Industrial School has found a way of dealing with even the truants, of
whom it gets more than its share, and the success of it is suggestive. As
stated by the teacher in the West Eighteenth Street school who found it
out, it is very simple: "I tell them, if they want to play truant to come
to me and I will excuse them for the day, and give them a note so that if
the truant officer sees them it will be all right." She adds that "only
one boy ever availed himself of that privilege." The other boys with few
exceptions became interested, as one would expect, and came to school
regularly. It was the old story of the boys in the Juvenile Asylum who
could be trusted to do guard duty in the grounds when put upon their
honor, but the moment they were locked up for the night risked their necks
to escape by climbing out of the third-story windows.

But when it has cheated the street and made of the truant a steady
scholar, the work of the Industrial School is not all done. Next, it hands
him over to the Public School, clothed and in his right mind, if his time
to go to work has not yet come. Last year the thirty-three Industrial
Schools of the Children's Aid Society and the American Female Guardian
Society thus dismissed nearly eleven hundred children who, but for their
intervention, might never have reached that goal. That their charity had
not been allowed to corrupt the children may be inferred from the
statement that, with an average daily attendance of 4,348 in the
Children's Aid Society's Schools, 1,729 children were depositors in the
School Savings Banks to the aggregate amount of about $800--a very large
sum for them--and this in the face of the fact, recorded on the school
register, that 938 of the lot came from homes where drunkenness and
poverty went hand in hand. It is not in the plan of the Industrial School
to make paupers, but to develop to the utmost the kernel of self-help that
is the one useful legacy of the street. The child's individuality is
preserved at any cost. Even the clothes that are given to the poorest in
exchange for their rags are of different cut and color, made so with this
one end in view. The distressing "institution look" is wholly absent from
these schools, and one of the great stumbling-blocks of charity
administered at wholesale is thus avoided.

The night schools are for the boys and girls already enlisted in the
treadmill, and who must pick up what learning they can in their off hours.
Together with the day-schools they footed up a total enrolment of nearly
ten thousand children whom this Society reached in 1891. Upon the basis of
the average daily attendance, the cost of their education to the
community, which supported the charity, was $24.53 for each child. The
cost of sheltering, feeding, and teaching 11,770 boys and girls in the
Society's six lodging-houses was $32.76 for each; the expense of sending
2,825 children to farm-homes $9.96 for each. The average cost per year for
each prisoner in the Tombs is $107.75, and for every child maintained in
an Asylum, or in the poor-house, nearly $140.[21]

"One of our great difficulties," says the Secretary of the Children's Aid
Society, in a recent statement of the Society's aims and purposes, echoing
an old grievance, "is with the large boys of the city. There seems to be
no place for them in the world as it is. They have grown up in it without
any training but that in street trades. The trades unions have kept them
from being apprenticed. They are soon too large for street occupations,
and are unable to compete with the small boys. They are too old for our
lodging-houses. We know not what to do with them. Some succeed well on
Western farms, but they are usually disliked by their employers because
they change places soon; and their occasional offences and disposition to
move about have given us more trouble in the West than any other one
thing. Very few people are willing to bear with them, even though a little
patience will sometimes bring out excellent qualities in them." They are
the boys for whom the street and the saloon have use that shall speedily
fashion of their "excellent qualities" a lash to sting the community's
purse, if not its conscience, with the memory of its neglect. As 107.75 is
to 24.53, or 140 to 9.96, so will be the smart of it compared with the
burden of patience that would have turned the scales the other way, to put
the matter in a light where the hard-headed man of business can see it
without an effort.

There is at least one man of that kind in New York who has seen and
understood it to some purpose. His name is Richard T. Auchmuty, and he is
by profession an architect. In that capacity he has had opportunity enough
of observing how the virtual exclusion of the New York boy from the trades
worked to his harm, and he started for his relief an Industrial School
that deserves to be ranked among the great benefactions of our day, even
more for its power to set people to thinking than for the direct benefit
it confers upon the boy, great as that is. Once it comes to be thoroughly
understood that a chance to learn his father's honest trade is denied the
New York boy by a foreign conspiracy, because he is an American lad and
cannot be trusted to do its bidding, it is inconceivable that an end
should not be put in quick order to this astounding abuse. This thing is
exactly what is being done in New York now by the consent of its citizens,
who without a protest read in the newspapers that a trades-union, one of
the largest and strongest in the building trades, has decreed that for two
years from a fixed date no apprentice shall be admitted to that trade in
New York--decreed, with the consent and connivance of subservient
employers, that so many lads who might have become useful mechanics shall
grow up tramps and loafers; decreed that a system of robbery of the
American mechanic shall go on by which it has come to pass that out of
twenty-three millions of dollars paid in a year to the building trades in
this city barely six millions are grudgingly accorded the native worker.
There is no decree to exclude the mechanic from abroad. He may come and
go--and go he does, in shoals, to his home across the sea at the end of
each season, with its profits--under the scheme of international
comradeship that excludes only the American workman and his boy. I have
talked with some of the most intelligent of the labor leaders, men well
known all over the land, to find out if there were any defence to be made
for this that I was not aware of, but have got nothing but evasion and
sophistries about the "protection of labor" for my answer. A protection,
indeed, that has nearly resulted already in the practical extinction of
the American mechanic, the best and cleverest in the world, in America's
chief city, at the bidding of the Walking Delegate.


[Illustration: THE PLUMBING SHOP IN THE NEW YORK TRADE SCHOOLS.]


Even to Colonel Auchmuty's Industrial School this persecution has been
extended in a persistent attempt for years to taboo its graduates. In
spite of it, the New York Trade Schools open their twelfth season this
winter with six hundred scholars and more, in place of the thirty who sat
in the first class eleven years ago. The community's better sense is
coming to the rescue, and the opposition to the school is wearing off. In
the spring as many hundred young plasterers, printers, tailors, plumbers,
stone-cutters, bricklayers, carpenters, and blacksmiths will go forth
capable mechanics, and with their self-respect unimpaired by the
associations of the shop and the saloon under the old apprentice system.
In this one respect the trades union may have done them a service it did
not intend. Colonel Auchmuty's school has demonstrated what it amounts to
by furnishing from among its young men the bricklayers for more than as
many handsome buildings in New York as there were pupils in its first
class. When a committee of master builders came on from Philadelphia to
see what their work was like, the report it brought back was that it
looked as if the builders had put their hearts in it, and a trade-school
was forthwith established in that city. Of that, too, Colonel Auchmuty
paid the way from the start.

His wealth has kept the New York school above water since it was started;
but this winter a benevolent millionaire, Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan, for whom
wealth has other and greater responsibilities than that of ministering to
his own comfort, has endowed it with half a million dollars, and Mrs.
Auchmuty has added a hundred thousand with the land on First Avenue
between Sixty-seventh and Sixty-eighth Streets upon which the school
stands, so that it starts out with an endowment sufficient to insure its
future. The charges for tuition in the day and evening classes have never
been much more than nominal, but these may now, perhaps, be reduced even
further to allow the "excellent qualities" of the big boys, of whom the
reformer despairs, to be put to their proper use without robbing them of
the best of all, their self-respect. Then the gage will have been thrown
to the street in good earnest, and the Walking Delegate's day will be
nearly spent.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE BOYS' CLUBS


But it is by the boys' club that the street is hardest hit. In the fight
for the lad it is that which knocks out the "gang," and with its own
weapon--the weapon of organization. That this has seemed heretofore so
little understood, even by some who have wielded the weapon valiantly, is
to me the strongest argument for the University Settlement plan, which
sends those who would be of service to the poor out to live among them, to
study their ways and their needs. Very soon they discover why the gang has
such a grip on the boy. It is because it responds to a real need of his
nature. The distinguishing characteristic of the American city boy is his
genius for organization. Whether it be in the air, in the soil, or in an
aptitude for self-government that springs naturally from the street, where
every little heathen is a law unto himself--one of them surely, for the
children of foreigners, who never learn to speak the language in which
their sons vote, exhibit it, if anything, more plainly than the
native-born--he has it, undeniably. Unbridled, allowed to run riot, it
results in the gang. Thwarted, it defeats all attempts to manage the boy.
Accepted as a friend, an ally, it is the indispensable key to his nature
in all efforts to reclaim him _en bloc_. Individuals may require different
methods of treatment. To the boys as a class the club is the pass-key.

There are many boys' clubs in New York now, and room for more. Some have
had great success; a few have failed. I venture the guess that the real
failure in a good many instances--most of them perhaps--was the failure to
trust the boys to rule themselves. I say _rule_. Rule there must be; boss
rule at that. That is the kind their fathers own, the fashion of the
slums. It is a case of rule or ruin, order or anarchy. To let the boys
have full swing would merely be to invite the street in to take charge of
the house, and only trouble would come of it. But the boss must be a
benevolent and very politic despot. The boy must have a fair chance. To
enlist him heart and soul, the opportunity must be given him to show that
he _can_ rule himself. And he will show it. He must be allowed to choose
his own leaders. His freedom of speech must not be abridged in debate by
any rule but that of parliamentary law. Ten to one he will not abuse it,
but will enforce that rule and submit to it as scrupulously as the most
punctilious of his elders. Let him be sure that his right to
self-government will not be interfered with, and he will voluntarily give
up the street and his gang. Three boys' clubs had been started by the
ladies of the College Settlement, on the principle of non-interference
within the few and simple rules of the house. The boys wrote their own
laws and maintained order with success. The street looked on, observant.
To the policeman it had opposed secret hostility or open war. But a social
order with the policeman eliminated was something worthy of approval. Its
offer of surrender was brought in form by a committee representing the
"Pleasure Club" in the toughest block of the neighborhood. "We will change
and have your kind of a club," was its message. Thus the fourth boys' club
of the Settlement was launched.

They have not all had so peaceful a beginning. Storm and stress of weather
have ushered in most of them. Each new one has cost something for
window-glass, and the mud of the neighborhood has had its inning before it
was forced to abdicate in favor of the club. It was so with the first that
was started, fourteen years ago, in Tompkins Square, that was then pretty
much all mud and given over to anarchy and disorder. In fact, it was the
mud that started the club. It flew so thick about the Wilson Mission, and
bespattered those who went out and in so freely that on a particularly
boisterous night the good missionary's wife decided that something must be
done. She did not send for a policeman. She had tried that before, but the
relief he brought lasted only while he was in sight. She went out and
confronted the mob herself. When it had yelled itself hoarse at her, she
sweetly asked it in to have some coffee and cakes. The mob stared,
breathless. Coffee and cakes for stones and mud! This was the Gospel in a
shape that was new and bewildering to Tompkins Square. The boys took
counsel among themselves. Visions of a big policeman behind the door
troubled the timid; but the more courageous were in favor of taking
chances. When they had sidled through the open door and no yell of
distress had betrayed treason within, the rest followed to find the coffee
and the cakes a solid and reassuring fact. No awkward questions were asked
about the broken windows, and the boys came out voting the "missionary
people" trumps, with a tinge of remorse, let us hope, for the reception
they had given them. There was no more mud-slinging after that, but the
boys fell naturally into neighborly ways with the house and its occupants,
and the proposition to be allowed to come in and "play games," came from
them when the occasional misunderstandings with the policeman on the post
made the street a ticklish play-ground. They were let in, and when certain
good people heard of what was going on in Tompkins Square, they sent down
chairs and tables and games, so that they might be made to feel at home.
Thus kindness conquered the street, and that winter was founded the first
boys' club here, or, for aught I know, anywhere. It is still the Boys'
Club of St. Mark's Place, and has grown more popular with the boys as the
years have passed. The record of last winter's doings over there show no
less than 2,757 boys on its roll of membership. The total attendance for
the year was 42,118, and the nightly average 218 boys, everyone of whom,
but for the coffee and cakes of that memorable night, might have been in
the streets slinging mud.

These doings include, nowadays, more than amusements and games. They made
the beginning, and they are yet the means of bringing the boys in. Once
there, as many as choose may join classes in writing, in book-keeping,
singing, and modelling; those who come merely for fun can have all they
want, on condition that they pay their respects to the wash-room and keep
within the bounds of the house. This they do with the aid of the
Superintendent and his assistants, who are chosen from among the bigger
boys and manage to preserve order marvellously well with very little show
of authority, all considered. The present Superintendent, Mr. Tyrrell,
still nurses the memory of a pair of black eyes he achieved in the
management of a "tough" club in Macdougal Street, where the boys came with
"billies" and pistols in their hip-pockets and taught him the secret of
club management in their own way. He puts it briefly this way: "It is just
a question of who is to be boss." That settled, things run smoothly
enough if the right party is on top.

In justice to the Tompkins Square boys, it should be said that the
question with them once for all was decided by the missionary's coffee and
cakes. If there was ever a passing disposition to forget it, "Pop's"
blighting eye helped the club to recall it in no time. Pop was the
doorkeeper, and a cripple, with a single mind. His one conscious purpose
in life was to keep order in the club, and he was blessed beyond most
mortals in attaining his ambition, if blessed in nothing else. Under
different auspices Pop might have been a rare bruiser, for, cripple that
he was, he was as strong as he was determined. Under the humanizing
influences that had conquered Tompkins Square he became one of the jewels
of the Boys' Club. If a round in the boxing-room threatened to wind up in
a "slugging match;" if luck had gone against a boy at the game of
"pot-cheese" until he felt that he must avenge his defeat by thumping his
adversary, or burst--Pop's stern glance transfixed the offender and
pointed him to the street, silent and meek, all the fight taken out of him
on the spot. The boys liked him for all that, perhaps just because they
were a little afraid of him, and when Pop died last summer, at the age of
twenty-two, after ten years of faithful attendance upon the basement-door
in St. Mark's Place, many an honest sob was gulped down at his funeral
behind a dirty and tattered cap. It is not the style for boys to cry in
Tompkins Square, but it _is_ the style to honor the memory of a dead
friend, and the Square never saw such a funeral as poor Pop's. The boys
chipped in and bought a gorgeous floral pillow for his coffin. So soft a
pillow Pop never knew in life.

Many a little account in the club's penny savings-bank was wiped out to
do Pop that last good turn; but the Superintendent cashed all demands
without a remonstrance. It is not often the money is drawn with so lofty a
purpose. Most of the depositors earn a few pennies selling newspapers or
doing errands. Their accounts are seldom large. In the aggregate they make
up quite a little sum, however. On a certain night last June, when I was
there, the bank contained almost a hundred dollars, in deposits ranging
from ten cents up to nearly five dollars. That week the Superintendent had
cashed sixteen books; the smallest had eleven cents to the credit of its
owner, who had been greatly taken with a mouth-organ and had withdrawn his
capital to buy it. Another had been saving up for a pair of boots. There
were a few capitalists in the club, who, when they got a dollar and a half
or two dollars together, transferred them to the Bowery Bank, where they
kept an account. It was easy to predict a successful business career for
these; not so with the general run, who were anything but steady
depositors, though the Superintendent gave them the credit that "very few
drew out their money till they had fifty cents in bank."

If the club has developed no great financiers, it has at least brought out
one latent genius in a young sculptor who has graduated from the modelling
class into an art museum, and was at last accounts preparing to go abroad
and spend his accumulated savings in the pursuit of further knowledge. A
short time before the visit of which I speak, a sudden crisis had made the
old class in "First Aid to the Injured" come out strong under
difficulties. A man had fallen down the basement-stairs into the
club-room, in an epileptic fit. It was three years since the boys had been
taught how to manage till the doctor came, in case of accident, but they
rose to the emergency with a jump. One unbuttoned the man's collar,
another slapped his hands, while a third yelled for a dollar to put
between his teeth. It had not occurred to the young surgeon who taught the
boys the first principles of his profession that dollars are rather
scarcer about Tompkins Square than on the Avenue, and this oversight came
near upsetting the good done by the rest of his teaching. There was no
dollar, not even a quarter, in the crowd, and the man lay gritting his
teeth until one of the rescuers, less literal but more practical than the
rest, suggested a pencil or a pocket-knife and broke the spell.

The mass of the boys come in nightly just to have a good time, and they
have it. They play at parchesi and messenger-boy with an ardor that leaves
them no time to care what visitors come and go. Like street boys
everywhere, they have a special fondness for games that admit the dice as
an element. Gambling is in the very air of the street, and is encouraged
in a hundred hidden ways the police rarely discover. Small candy stores
and grocery back-rooms harbor policy shops, lotteries, and regular
gambling hells, where the boys are taught how to buck the tiger on a penny
scale. In the club games the dice are robbed of their power for evil. It
is the environment here again that makes the difference. It has made a
vast difference in the boy who once stalked in, hat on the back of his
head, and grimy fists in his breeches' pockets until Pop's stony eye
caught his. Now he hangs up his hat upon entering, and goes to the
wash-room without waiting to be asked by the Superintendent if there is no
soap and water where he comes from. Then he gets the game or the book he
wants, surrendering his card as a check upon him until it is returned. It
is a precaution intended to identify the borrower in case of any damage
being done to the club's property. Such a thing as theft of book or game
is not known. In his business meetings the boy debates a point of order
with the skill and persistence of a trained politician. The aptitude for
politics sticks out all over him; but he has some lessons of that trade to
learn yet, to his harm. He has not mastered the trick of betraying a
friend. Any member of his club, the Superintendent feels sure, would stand
up for him and take a thrashing, if need be, should he be found in trouble
on his "beat." The "beats" that converge at St. Mark's Place and Avenue A
cover a good deal of ground. The lads come from a mile around to the Boys'
Club. Occasionally "the gang" calls in a body. One evening it is the
Thirteenth Street gang, the next the Eighth Street gang, and again a
detachment from Avenue A. By the first-comers it is sometimes possible to
foretell the particular complexion of the _clientèle_ of the night; but
the business character of the gang is left outside on the sidewalk. Within
it is amiability itself, and gradually the rough corners are rubbed off,
old quarrels made up, feuds forgotten in the new companionship; the gang
is merged in the club, the victory over the street won.


[Illustration: A BOYS' CLUB READING-ROOM.]


At Christmas and at odd seasons, when the necessary talent can be secured,
entertainments are given in the club-room. Sometimes the boys themselves
furnish the entertainment, and then there is never a lack of critics in
the audience. There never is, for that matter. Mr. Evert Jansen Wendell,
who has been one of the boys' best friends, tells some amusing things
about his experience at such gatherings. Ice-cream is always intensely
popular as a side issue. Some of the boys never fail to wrap a piece up in
paper, or put it in the pocket without wrapping, to take home to the baby
sister or brother. Only one, to Mr. Wendell's knowledge, ever refused
ice-cream at an entertainment, and he explained, by way of apology, that
he had had the colic all day and his mother had told him "she'd lick him
if he took any." For a dignified missionary, who in telling the boys about
the spread of the Gospel in the Far East, proposed to illustrate heathen
customs by arraying himself in native costumes, brought along for the
purpose, it must have been embarrassing to a degree to be cautioned by the
audience to "keep his shirt on." But his mishap was as nothing to what
befell a young lady, the daughter of a wealthy and distinguished
financier, who with infinite trouble had persuaded her father to assist at
a certain festive occasion in her favorite club. He was an amateur with
the magic lantern, the boys' dear delight, and took it down to amuse them.
Mr. Wendell tells what followed:

The show was progressing famously, and the daughter was beaming with
pride, when one of the boys suddenly beckoned to her, and pointing to the
distinguished financier remarked:

"What der yer call dat bloke?"

"Whom do you mean?" asked the proud daughter, in a tone of much surprise,
being quite unaccustomed to hearing the distinguished financier described
as a "bloke."

"I mean dat bloke over dere, settin' off dem picturs!" replied the boy.

"What do you desire to know about him?" inquired the proud daughter, with
freezing dignity.

"I want ter know what yer call one of them fellers dat sets off picturs?"
persisted the boy.

"That gentleman," said the proud daughter, in her most impressive tone,
"is my father."

"Well!" said the boy, surveying her with supreme contempt, "don't yer know
yer own father's trade?"

The Boys' Club has had many followers. Some aim at teaching the lads
trades; others content themselves with trying to mend their manners, while
weaning them from the street and its coarse ways. Still others keep the
moral improvement in view as the immediate object, as it is the ultimate
end. Some follow the precedent of the Boys' Club in charging nothing for
admission; other club-organizers, like the managers of the College
Settlement, have found the weekly fee as necessary as home rule to
encourage self-help and self-respect in the boy, and to bring out the best
that is in him. Most of them have libraries suited to the children. The
College Settlement has a very excellent one of more than a thousand
volumes, which is in constant use. The managers report that the boys
clamor for history and science, popularly presented, as boys do
everywhere, while the girls mainly read fiction. The success of different
plans demonstrates the futility of some pet theories on this phase of
social economics at least, in the present state of knowledge on the
subject. The Boys' Club in St. Mark's Place, for instance, is kept
entirely free from religious influence of any sort, and their experience
has led many of its friends to believe that success is possible only in
that way. Probably in that particular case it might not have been possible
on anything like such a scale in any other way. The mud of Tompkins Square
testified loudly enough to that. On the other hand, the managers of some
very successful and active boys' clubs that have sprouted under Church
influence and with a strong Sunday-school bias, maintain with conviction
that theirs is the true and only plan. One holds that only in leaving
religion out is there hope of success; the other, that there can be none
without letting it in and keeping it ever in the foreground. Each sees
only half the truth. It is not the profession, or lack of profession, of a
principle, but the principle itself that is the condition of success--the
real sympathy and interest in the children that bids them come and be
welcome, that seeks to understand their needs and help them for their own
sake, a religion that "beats preaching" among the poor any day. It is a
question of men and of hearts, not of faith. And the poorer the children,
the more friendless and forsaken, the more readily do they respond to
approaches in that spirit. The testimony of a teacher in the Poverty Gap
play-ground, who went up town to take charge of one where the children
were better dressed and correspondingly "stuck up," was that in all their
rags and dirt the little toughs of the Gap were much the more approachable
and more promising to work with.


[Illustration: THE CARPENTER SHOP IN THE AVENUE C WORKING BOYS' CLUB.]


Naturally the Church might be expected to have found this out and to be
turning the knowledge to use. And it is so. All sects are reaching now for
the children in a healthy rivalry, in which the old cry about empty pews
is being smothered and forgotten. Of the twenty-six boys' clubs that are
down in the Charity Organization Society's directory, nineteen are under
church roofs or patronage, and of the remaining seven I know two at least
to have been founded by churches. The proportion is more than preserved, I
think, in the larger number not registered there, as in all the
philanthropic work of many kinds that is now going on among the children.
The Roman Catholics never lost sight of the fact that the little ones were
the life of the Church, which the Protestants have had, in a measure, to
rediscover. Their grip upon the children was never relaxed. The parochial
school has enabled them to maintain it without need of recourse to the
social shifts the Protestants are adopting to regain lost prestige.
Nevertheless, they have not let lie unused the best grappling-hook by
which the boy might be caught and held. Their schools and churches abound
with clubs and societies, organized upon a plan of absolute home-rule,
under the spiritual directorship of the parish priest. Among Protestant
denominations the Episcopal Church especially shows this evidence of a
strong life stirring within it. The Boys' Clubs of Calvary Parish, of St.
George's, and of many other churches, are powerful moral agents in their
own neighborhoods. Everywhere some strong sympathetic personality is found
to be the centre and the life of the work. It may be that the pastor
himself is the moving force; or he has the faculty of stirring it in
others. His young men are at work in the parish. It is a hopeful sign to
find young men, to whom the sacrifice meant the loss of much that makes
life beautiful, giving their time and services freely to the poor night
schools and rough boys' clubs--hopeful alike for the Church, for the boys,
and for their teachers. The women have had the missionary work of the
Church, as well as the pews, long enough to themselves. I am not speaking
now of the college-bred men and women, who in their University Settlements
pursue the plan that has proven so beneficent in England, but of another
class, young business men, bank clerks, and professional men--sometimes of
large means and of high social standing--whom night after night I have
found thus unostentatiously working among the children with more patience
than I could muster, and with the genuine love for their work that
overcame all obstacles. They were not always going the errand of a church
there, but that they were doing the work of the Church there could be no
doubt, and doing it in a way to make it once more a living issue among the
poor.

The rector of old St. George's, which under his pastorate has grown from a
forgotten temple with empty pews to be one of the strong factors in life
on the crowded East Side, with Sunday congregations the great building can
hardly contain, roughly outlines his plans for work among the children
this way, which with variations of detail is the plan of all the churches:

"Get as many of the very little children as possible into our
kindergartens, and there let them have the advantage of Christian
kindergarten training, before they are old enough to go to the public
schools. Keep touch of those same children and get them into the infant
departments of the Sunday-school. Then take the little fellows from these,
and see that in one or two nights in the week we reach them in our boys'
clubs; and then, when they are fourteen years old, they are eligible for
admission to our battalion. There, by drills, exercises, etc., we hold
them till they can enter our Men's Club."

The Sunday-school commands the approach to the club, but does not obstruct
it. It stands at the door and takes the tickets. Anyone may enter, but
through that door only. Once he has passed in, he is his own master. The
church is content with claiming only his Sundays when the club is not in
session. The experience at St. George's on the home-rule question has been
eminently characteristic. The boys could not be made to take a live
interest in the club except on condition that they must run it themselves.
That point yielded, they promptly boomed it to high-water mark. At present
they elect their officers twice a year, to give them full swing, and one
set is no sooner installed than wire-pulling begins for the next election.
Once, when some trouble in the Athletic Club caused the clergy to take it
in hand and appoint a president of their own choice, the membership fell
off so rapidly that it was on the point of collapse when the tide was
turned by a bold stroke. The managers announced a free election. The boys
returned with a rush, put opposition tickets in the field, and amid
intense enthusiasm over three hundred and fifty out of a total of four
hundred votes were cast. The club was saved. It has been popular ever
since.

The payment of monthly dues was found at St. George's to be equally
essential to success. "The boys know that they have to pay," said the
young clergyman, who quietly superintends their doings; "if they didn't,
it wouldn't be a right club." So they pay their pennies and enjoy the
independence of it. The result has been a transformation in which the
entire neighborhood rejoices. "Four years ago," said their friend, the
clergyman, "these same boys stoned us and carried on like the toughs they
were. Now we have got here a lot of young gentlemen and loyal friends."
Every week-day night the Parish House in East Sixteenth Street resounds
with their merriment; on Saturday, with the roll of drums and crash of
martial music. Then the Battalion Club meets for drill under the
instruction of a former officer in the United States Army. In their natty
uniforms the lads are good to look upon, and thoroughly enjoy the
exercises, as any boy of spirit would.

The Little Boys' Club languished somewhat for want of a definite programme
until the happy idea of a series of talks on elementary chemistry and
physics was hit upon. An eminently practical turn was given to the talks
by taking the boys to the gas-house, for instance, when gas was up for
discussion; to the ship-yard, when boat-building was the topic; to the
water-works, when it was water; and to see the great dynamos at work, when
they were grappling with the subject of electricity. Afterward the boys
were made to tell in writing what they had seen, and some of them told it
surprisingly well, showing that they had made excellent use of their eyes
and their brains. There is a limit, unfortunately, to the range of
subjects that can be illustrated to advantage in that way; the managers
had come to the end of their tether, and were puzzling over the question
what to do next, when a friend of the club gave it several thousand
dollars with which to fit up a manual training-school. Since then it has
been in clover. A house was hired in East Eleventh Street and transformed
into a carpenter-shop, and preparations to open it were in progress when
these pages were sent to the printer. The club then had over two hundred
members. It will probably have twice as many before the winter is over.


[Illustration: TYPE-SETTING AT THE AVENUE C WORKING BOYS' CLUB.]


The carpenter-shop of the Avenue C Working Boys' Club has been a distinct
success for several seasons. The work done by the boys after a few months'
instruction compares often well with that of the majority of apprentices
who have been years learning the trade in the regular way. The shop is
fitted out with benches and all the necessary tools. A class in
type-setting vies with the young carpenters in excellence of workmanship
and devotion to business. The printers have ambitious designs upon the
reading public. They intend to start a monthly "organ" of their club, an
experiment that was tried once but frustrated by a change of base from
Twenty-first Street to the present quarters at No. 650 East Fourteenth
Street. The club grew up under the eaves of St. George's Church eight
years ago, and was known by the name of the St. George's Boys' Club after
it had been forced to move away to make room for the erection of the
Parish House. Some of the boys work in the daytime at the trades which
they are taught at the club in the evening, and the instruction thus
received has helped them to earn better salaries in many cases. One of the
managers keeps a bank account for those who can save money and want to
invest it, and more than one of them has a snug little sum to his credit.
There are fifty boys in each class, and always plenty waiting for
vacancies to occur. The best pupils receive medals at the end of the year,
and once every summer the managers, who are young men of position and
character, take them out in the country for an outing, and are boys with
them in their games and in their delight over the new sights they see
there.

Mr. Wendell tells of one of these trips down to see "Buffalo Bill" on
Staten Island. There was a big crowd of excursionists on the boat going
down, and the captain took a fatherly interest in the boys, who were
gathered together in the bow of the boat, quiet as lambs. The return trip
was not so peaceful, though the captain good-naturedly delayed the boat
beyond the starting time for fear some of "our boys" would get left, as
indeed proved to be the fate of several. But by the time this was
discovered it was no longer a source of regret to him. The Indians and the
bucking broncos had made the boys restless. They stood around the brass
band, and one of them attempted to relieve his pent-up feelings by
sticking a button into the big trombone, with the effect of nearly
strangling the stout gentleman who was playing on it. The enraged musician
made a wild dive for the boy, who dodged around the smokestack and caught
up a chair to defend himself with. In a moment a first-class riot was in
progress, chairs flying, the band men swearing, and the boys yelling like
Comanches. When quiet had been finally restored, the boys banished to the
after-deck, and the button fished out of the trombone, the perspiring
captain swore with a round oath that he "wouldn't take those d----d boys
down to Staten Island again for ten dollars a head."

The trade-school feature of the Working Boys' Club may soon be reproduced
in the Calvary Parish Boys' Club in East Twenty-third Street. They have
already a useful type-setting class there, and they have that which their
neighbors in Fourteenth Street have yet to get: their own handsome
building, bought for the club by wealthy members of Calvary Church, in
which it had its birth four years ago. More than that, they have a
gymnasium that is the chief attraction of all that neighborhood,
particularly the boxing-gloves in it. There were some serious doubts about
these, and long and grave discussion before they were added to the general
outfit. The street was rather too partial to fisticuffs, it was thought,
and there were too many outstanding grudges among the boys to make their
introduction safe. However, another view prevailed and the choice proved
to be a wise one. The gloves are popular--very, and under the firm
management of the experienced superintendent, who knows where to draw the
safe line, the boys work off their superabundant spirits and sundry other
little accounts very successfully in their nightly bouts. The feeling of
fellowship and neighborly interest thus encouraged has even led to the
establishment of a mutual benefit fund, through which the boys help each
other in sickness or distress, and which they manage themselves, electing
their own officers.

For anyone who knows the boys of the East Side it is not hard to
understand that the Calvary Parish Boys' Club has registered more than
twenty-eight thousand callers since it was opened, only four years ago. It
has four hundred enrolled members, who pay monthly dues of ten cents, so
that they may feel that the club is theirs by right, not by charity.
Though church and temperance stood at the cradle of the club--it was
organized at a meeting of the Calvary branch of the Church Temperance
Society--there is no preaching to the boys. The only sermons they hear at
the club are the sermons of brotherly love and kindness, which the
cheerful rooms, the games, the books, and the gymnasium--even the
boxing-gloves--preach to them every night, and which the contrast of it
all with the street, that was their all only a little while ago, is not
apt to let them forget.


[Illustration: A BOUT WITH THE GLOVES IN THE BOYS' CLUB OF CALVARY
PARISH.]


A small sign, with the words "Wayside Boys' Club," hung for a while over
the Third Avenue door of the Bible House. Two years ago it was taken down;
the club had been merged in the Boys' Club of Grace Mission, in East
Thirteenth Street. The members were all little fellows. They were soon
made aware that they had fallen among strangers who, boylike, proposed to
investigate them and to test their prowess before letting them in on
equal terms. Within a week, says Mr. Wendell, this note came to their
patroness in the Bible House:

     "DEAR MRS. ----:

     "Would you please come and see to our Wayside Boys' Club; that the
     first time it was open it was very nice, and after that near every
     boy in that neighborhood came walking in. And if you would be so kind
     to come and put them out it would be a great pleasure to us.

     "Mrs. ----, the club is not nice any more, and when we want to go
     home, the boys would wait for us outside, and hit you.

     "Mrs. ----, since them boys are in the club we don't have any games
     to play with, and if we do play with the games, they come over to us
     and take it off us.

     "And by so doing please oblige,

           ----, _President_,
           ----, _Vice-President_,
           ----, _Treasurer_,
           ----, _Secretary_,
           ----, _Floor Manager_.

     "Please excuse the writing. I was in haste.

     "----, _Treasurer_."


The appeal had its effect. The Wayside boys were rescued and there has
been quiet in Thirteenth Street since. They have got a new house now, and
are looking hopefully forward to the day when "near every boy in that
neighborhood," shall "come walking in" upon an errand of peace.

Most of the clubs close in the summer months, when it has heretofore been
supposed that few of the boys would attend. The experience of the Boys'
Club in St. Mark's Place, which this past summer was kept open a full
month later than usual and experienced no such collapse, although the park
across the street might be supposed to be an extra attraction on warm
evenings, suggests that there is some mistake about this which it would be
worth while to find out. The street is no less dangerous to the boy in
summer because it is more crowded. The Free Reading-Room for boys in West
Fourteenth Street is open all the year round, and though the attendance in
summer decreases one-half, yet the rooms are never empty.

The wish expressed by the President of the Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Children, in a public utterance a year ago, that there might be
a boys' club for every ward in the city, has been more than fulfilled.
There are more boys' clubs nowadays than there are wards, though I am not
sure that they are so distributed that each has one. There are some wards
in which twenty might not come amiss. A directory of the local gangs,
which might be obtained by consultation with the corner-grocers and with
the policeman on the beat after a "scrap" with the boys, would be a good
guide to the right spots and also in the choice of managers. Something
over a year ago a club was opened in Bleecker Street that forthwith took
on the character of a poultice upon a rather turbulent neighborhood. In
the second week more than a hundred boys crowded to its meetings. It
"drew" entirely too well. When I looked for it this fall, it was
gone--"thank goodness!" said the owner of the tenement, a little woman who
kept a shop across the street, with a sigh of relief that spoke volumes.
Yet she had no more definite complaint to make than what might be inferred
from the emphasis she put on the words "them boys!" A friend of the club,
or of some of the boys belonging to it, whom I hunted up, interpreted the
sigh and the emphasis. The boys got the upper hand, he said. They had just
then made a fresh start under another roof and with a new manager.

Such experiences have not been uncommon, and, as it often happens when
inquiry is pursued in the right spirit, the mistakes they buoyed have been
the greatest successes of the cause. There has been enough of the other
kind too. Any club manager can tell of cases, lots of them, in which the
club has been the stepping-stone of the boy to a useful career. In some
cases the boys, having outgrown their club, have carried on the work
unaided and organized young men's societies on a plane of in-door
respectability that has raised an effectual barrier against the gang and
its club-room, the saloon. These things show what a hold the idea has upon
the boy and how much more might be made of it. So far, private benevolence
has had the field to itself, properly so; but there is a way in which the
municipality might help without departing from safe moorings, so it seems
to me. Why not lend such schools or class-rooms as are not used at night
to boys' clubs that can show a responsible management, for their meetings?
In England the Recreative Evening Schools Association has accomplished
something very like this by simply demonstrating its justice and
usefulness. "Its object," says Robert Archey Woods, in his work on English
social movements, "is to carry on through voluntary workers evening
classes in the board schools, combining instruction and recreation for
boys and girls who have passed through the elementary required course. Its
plan includes also the use of the schools for social clubs, and the use of
school play-grounds for gymnastics and out-door games. This simple
programme, as carried out, has shown how much may be accomplished through
means which are close at hand. There are in London three hundred and
forty-five such classes, combining manual training with entertainment, and
their average attendance is ten thousand. Schools of the same kind are
carried on in a hundred other places outside of London. Beside their
immediate success under private efforts, these schools are bringing
Parliament to see the importance of their object. Of late the Government
has been assuming the care of recreative evening classes, little by
little, and it looks as if ultimately all the work of the Evening Schools
Association would be undertaken by the school boards." I am not advocating
the surrender of the boys' club to our New York School Board. I am afraid
it would gain little by it and lose too much. But they might be trusted as
landlords, if not as managers. The rent is always the heaviest item in the
expense account of a boys' club, for the lads must have room. If cramped,
they will boil over and make trouble. If this item were eliminated, the
cause might experience a boom that would more than repay the community for
the wear and tear of the school-rooms, by a reduction in the outlay for
jails and police courts. There would be another advantage in the
introduction of the school to the boy in the _rôle_ of a friend, which
might speed the work of the truant officer. I cannot see any serious
objection to such a proposition. I have no doubt there are school trustees
who can see a whole string of them; but I should not be surprised if they
all came to this, that the schools are not for any such purpose. To this
it would be a sufficient answer that the schools belong to the people.


[Illustration: LINING UP FOR THE GYMNASIUM.]


Another suggestion came home to me with force while watching the drill of
the Battalion Club at St. George's one night recently. It has long been
the favorite idea of a friend and neighbor of mine, who is an old army
officer and has seen service in the field, that a summer camp for boys
from the city tenements could be established somewhere in the mountains at
a safe distance from tempting orchards, where an army of them might be
drilled with immense profit to themselves and to everybody. He will have
it that they could be managed as easily as an equal number of men, with
the right sort of organization and officers, and as in his business he
runs along smoothly with four or five hundred girls under his command, I
am bound to defer to his judgment, however much my own may rebel,
particularly as he would be acting out my own convictions, after all, in
his wholesale way. In any event the experiment might be tried with a
regiment if not with an army, and it would be a very interesting one. The
boys would have lots of chance for wholesome play as well as drill, and
would get no end of fun out of it. The possible hardships of camping out
would have no existence for them. As for any lasting good to come of it,
outside of physical benefits, I think the discipline alone, with what it
stands for, would cover that. In the reform schools, where they have
military drill, they have found it their most useful ally in dealing with
the worst and wildest class of the boys. It is the bump of organization
that is touched again there. Resistance ceases of itself and the boys fall
into line. Too much can be made of discipline, of course. The body may be
drilled until it is a mere machine and the real boy is dead. But that has
nothing to do with such an experiment as I spoke of. That is the concern
of reform schools, and I do not think they are in any danger of overdoing
it.

I spoke of managing the girls. It is just the same with them. I have had
the "gang" in mind as the alternative of the club, and therefore have
dealt so far only with their brothers. Girls do not go in gangs, thank
goodness, at least not yet in New York. They flock, until the boys scatter
them and drive them off one by one. But the same instinct of
self-government is in them. They take just as kindly to the club. The
Neighborhood Guild, the College Settlement, and various church and
philanthropic societies, carry on such clubs with great success. The girls
sew, darn stockings, cook, make their own dresses, and run their own
meetings with spirit when the boys are made to keep their profaning hands
off. On occasion they develop the same rugged independence with an extra
feminine touch to it, that is, a mixture of dash and spite. I recall the
experience of a band of early philanthropists, who, a score of years ago
or more, bought the Big Flat in the Sixth Ward and fitted it up as a
boarding-house for working girls. They filled it without any trouble,
though with a rather better grade of boarders than they had expected. No
sooner were the girls in possession than they promptly organized and
"resolved" that the management should make no rules for the house without
first submitting them to their body for approval. Philanthropy chose the
least pointed horn of the dilemma, and retired from the field. The Big
Flat, from a model boarding-house became a very bad tenement, and the
boarders' club dissolved, to the loss and injury of a posterity that was
distinctly poorer and duller, no less for the want of the club than for
the possession of the tenement.

The boys' club was born of the struggle of the community with the street,
as a measure of self-defence. It has proven a useful war-club too, but its
conquests have been the conquests of peace. It has been the kernel of
success in many a philanthropic undertaking, secular and religious alike.
In the plan of the Free Reading-Room for Working Boys, of which I made
mention, it is used as a battering-ram in an attack upon the saloon. The
Free Reading-Room was organized some nine or ten years ago by the Loyal
Legion Temperance Society. It has been popular with lads of all ages from
the very start, not least on account of the club or clubs which they were
encouraged to found--literary societies they call them there. The
Superintendent found them helpful, too, as a means of interesting the
boys, by debate and otherwise, in the cause of temperance which he had at
heart. The first thing a boys' club casts about for after the offices have
been manned and the by-laws made hard and fast, is a cause. One of young
boys, that had been in existence a month or less at the College
Settlement, almost took the ladies' breath away by announcing one day that
it had decided to expel any boy who smoked or got drunk. The Free
Reading-Room gives ample opportunity for the exercise of this spirit of
convert zeal, when it manifests itself. The average nightly attendance
last year was seventy-one, and a good deal larger than that in winter. The
boys came from as far south as Houston Street, nearly a mile below, and
from Forty-second Street, a mile and half to the north, in all kinds of
weather.

The doors of the reading-room stand wide open on Sunday as on week-day
nights. With singing, and talks on serious or religious subjects in a vein
the boys can follow, they try to give to the proceedings a Sabbath turn of
which the impression may abide with them. The regular Sunday-School
exercises have, I am told by the Superintendent, been abandoned, and the
present less formal, but more effective, programme substituted. One has
need of being wiser than the serpent if he would build effectually in this
field among the poor of many races and faiths that swarm in New York's
tenements, and he must make his foundation very broad. The great thing for
the boys is that the room is not closed against them on the very night in
all the week when they need it most. I think we are coming at last to
understand what a trap we have been digging for the young in our great
cities, when we thought to save them from temptation, by shutting every
door but that of the church against them on the day when the devil was
busiest finding mischief for their idle hands to do, while narrowing that
down to the size of a wicket-gate with our creeds and confessions. The
poor bury their dead on Sunday to save the loss of a day's pay. Poverty
has given over their one day of rest to their sorrows. Is it likely that
any attempt to rob it of its few harmless joys should win them over? It is
the shadow of bigotry and intolerance falling across it that has turned
healthy play into rioting and moral ruin. Open the museums, the libraries,
and the clubs on Sunday, and the church that draws the bolt will find the
tide of reawakened interest that will set in strong enough to fill its own
pews, too, to overflowing.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE OUTCAST AND THE HOMELESS


Under the heading "Just one of God's Children," one of the morning
newspapers told the story last winter of a newsboy at the Brooklyn Bridge,
who fell in a fit with his bundle of papers under his arm, and was carried
into the waiting-room by the bridge police. They sent for an ambulance,
but before it came the boy was out selling papers again. The reporters
asked the little dark-eyed news-woman at the bridge entrance which boy it
was.

"Little Maher it was," she answered.

"Who takes care of him?"

"Oh! no one but God," said she, "and he is too busy with other folks to
give him much attention."

Little Maher was the representative of a class that is happily growing
smaller year by year in our city. It is altogether likely that a little
inquiry into his case could have placed the responsibility for his forlorn
condition considerably nearer home, upon someone who preferred giving
Providence the job to taking the trouble himself. There are homeless
children in New York. It is certain that we shall always have our full
share. Yet it is equally certain that society is coming out ahead in its
struggle with this problem. In ten years, during which New York added to
her population one-fourth, the homelessness of our streets, taking the
returns of the Children's Aid Society's lodging-houses as the gauge,
instead of increasing proportionally, has decreased nearly one-fifth; and
of the Topsy element, it may be set down as a fact, there is an end.


[Illustration: A SNUG CORNER ON A COLD NIGHT.]


If we were able to argue from this a corresponding improvement in the
general lot of the poor, we should be on the high road to the millennium.
But it is not so. The showing is due mainly to the perfection of
organized charitable effort, that proceeds nowadays upon the sensible
principle of putting out a fire, viz., that it must be headed off, not run
down, and therefore concerns itself chiefly about the children. We are yet
a long, a very long way from a safe port. The menace of the Submerged
Tenth has not been blotted from the register of the Potter's Field, and
though the "twenty thousand poor children who would not have known it was
Christmas," but for public notice to that effect, be a benevolent fiction,
there are plenty whose brief lives have had little enough of the
embodiment of Christmas cheer and good-will in them to make the name seem
like a bitter mockery. Yet, when all is said, this much remains, that we
are steering the right course. Against the drift and the head-winds of an
unparalleled immigration that has literally drained the pauperism of
Europe into our city for two generations, against the false currents and
the undertow of the tenement in our social life, we are making headway at
last.

Every homeless child rescued from the street is a knot made, a man or a
woman saved, not for this day only, but for all time. What if there be a
thousand left? There is one less. What that one more on the wrong side of
the account might have meant will never be known till the final reckoning.
The records of jails and brothels and poor-houses, for a hundred years to
come, might but have begun the tale.

When, in 1849, the Chief of Police reported that in eleven wards there
were 2,955 vagrants and dissolute children under fifteen years of age, the
boys all thieves and the girls embryo prostitutes, and that ten per cent.
of the entire child population of school age in the city were vagrants,
there was no Children's Aid Society to plead their cause. There _was_ a
reformatory, and that winter the American Female Guardian Society was
incorporated, "to prevent vice and moral degradation;" but Mr. Brace had
not yet found his life-work, and little Mary Ellen had not been born. The
story of the legacy her sufferings left to the world of children I have
briefly told, and in the chapter on Industrials Schools some of the
momentous results of Mr. Brace's devotion have been set forth. The story
is not ended; it never will be, while poverty and want exist in this great
city. His greatest work was among the homeless and the outcast. In the
thirty-nine years during which he was the life and soul of the Children's
Aid Society it found safe country homes for 84,318[22] poor city children.
And the work goes on. Very nearly already, the army thus started on the
road to usefulness and independence equals in numbers the whole body of
children that, four years before it took up its march, yielded its Lost
Tenth, as the Chief of Police bore witness, to the prisons and perdition.

This great mass of children--did they all come from the street? Not all of
them. Not even the larger number. But they would have got there, all of
them, had not the Society blocked the way. That is how the race of Topsies
has been exterminated in New York. That in this, of all fields, prevention
is the true cure, and that a farmer's home is better for the city child
that has none than a prison or the best-managed public institution, are
the simple lessons it has taught and enforced by example that has carried
conviction at last. The conviction came slowly and by degrees. The degrees
were not always creditable to sordid human nature that had put forth no
hand to keep the child from the gutter, and in the effort to rescue it now
saw only its selfish opportunity. There are people yet at this day, whose
offers to accept "a strong and handsome girl of sixteen or so with sweet
temper," as a cheap substitute for a paid servant--"an angel with mighty
strong arms," as one of the officers of the Society indignantly put it
once--show that the selfish stage has not been quite passed. Such offers
are rejected with the emphatic answer: "We bring the children out because
they need you, not because you need them." The Society farms out no girls
of sixteen with strong arms. For them it finds ways of earning an honest
living at such wages as their labor commands, homes in the West, if they
wish it, where good husbands, not hard masters, are waiting for them. But,
ordinarily, its effort is to bend the twig at a much tenderer age. And in
this effort it is assisted by the growth of a strong humane sentiment in
the West, that takes less account of the return the child can make in work
for his keep, and more of the child itself. Time was when few children but
those who were able to help about the farm could be sure of a welcome.
Nowadays babies are in demand. Of all the children sent West in the last
two years, 14 per cent. were under five years, 43.6 per cent. over five
and under ten years, 36.8 per cent. over ten and under fifteen, and only
5.3 per cent. over fifteen years of age. The average age of children sent
to Western homes in 1891 by the Children's Aid Society was nine years and
forty days, and in 1892 nine years and eight months, or an average of nine
years, four months, and twenty days for the two years.

It finds them in a hundred ways--in poverty-stricken homes, on the Island,
in its Industrial Schools, in the street. Often they are brought to its
office by parents who are unable to take care of them. Provided they are
young enough, no questions are asked. It is not at the child's past, but
at its future, that these men look. That it comes from among bad people is
the best reason in the world why it should be put among those that are
good. That is the one care of the Society. Its faith that the child, so
placed, will respond and rise to their level, is unshaken after these many
years. Its experience has knocked the bugbear of heredity all to flinders.

So that this one condition may be fulfilled, a constant missionary work of
an exceedingly practical and business-like character goes on in the
Western farming communities, where there is more to eat than there are
mouths to fill, and where a man's children are yet his wealth. When
interest has been stirred in a community to the point of arousing demands
for the homeless children, the best men in the place--the judge, the
pastor, the local editor, and their peers--are prevailed upon to form a
local committee that passes upon all applications, and judges of the
responsibility and worthiness of the applicants. In this way a sense of
responsibility is cultivated that is the best protection for the child in
future years, should he need any, which he very rarely does. On a day set
by the committee the agent arrives from New York with his little troop.
Each child has been comfortably and neatly dressed in a new suit, and
carries in his little bundle a Bible as a parting gift from the Society.
The committee is on hand to receive them. So usually are half the mothers
of the town, who divide the children among themselves and take them home
to be cared for until the next day. If there are any babies in the lot, it
is always hard work to make them give them up the next morning, and
sometimes the company that gathers in the morning at the town hall, for
inspection and apportionment among the farmers, has been unexpectedly
depleted overnight. From twenty and thirty miles around, the big-hearted
farmers come in their wagons to attend the show and to negotiate with the
committee. The negotiations are rarely prolonged. Each picks out his
child, sometimes two, often more than one the same child. The committee
umpires between them. They all know each other, and the agent's knowledge
of each child, gained on the way out and perhaps through previous
acquaintance, helps to make the best choice. There is no ceremony of
adoption. That is left to days to come, when the child and the new home
have learned to know each other, and to the watchful care of the local
committee. To any questions concerning faith or previous condition that
may be asked, the Society's answer is always the same. In substance it is
this:

"We do not know. Here is the child. Take him and make a good Baptist, or
Methodist, or Christian of any sect of him! That is your privilege and his
gain. The fewer questions you ask the better. Let his past be behind him
and the future his to work out. Love him for himself."[23]

And in the spirit in which the advice is given it is usually accepted.
Night falls upon a joyous band returning home over the quiet country
roads, the little stranger snugly stowed among his new friends, one of
them already, with home and life before him.

And does the event justify the high hopes of that home journey? Almost
always in the end, if the child was young enough when it was sent out.
Sometimes a change has to be made. Oftener the change is of name, in the
adoption that follows. Some of the boys get restless as they grow up, and
"run about a good deal," to the anguish of the committee. A few are
reported as having "gone to the bad." But even these commonly come out all
right at last. One of them, of whom mention is made in the Society's
thirty-fifth annual report, turned up after long years as Mayor of his
town and a member of the legislature. "We can think," wrote Mr. Brace
before his death, "of little Five Points thieves who are now ministers of
the gospel or honest farmers; vagrants and street children who are men in
professional life; and women who, as teachers or wives of good citizens,
are everywhere respected; the children of outcasts or unfortunates whose
inherited tendencies have been met by the new environment, and who are
industrious and decent members of society." Only by their losing
themselves does the Society lose sight of them. Two or three times a year
the agent goes to see them all. In the big ledgers in St. Mark's Place
each child who has been placed out has a page to himself on which all his
doings are recorded, as he is heard of year by year. There are twenty-nine
of these canvas-bound ledgers now, and the stories they have to tell would
help anyone, who thinks he has lost faith in poor human nature, to pick it
up with the vow never to let go of it again. I open one of them at random,
and copy the page--page 289 of ledger No. 23. It tells the story of an
English boy, one of four who were picked up down at Castle Garden twelve
years ago. His mother was dead, and he had not seen his father for five
years before he came here, a stowaway. He did not care, he said, where
they sent him, so long as it was not back to England:

June 15, 1880. James S----, aged fourteen years, English; orphan; goes
West with J. P. Brace.

Placed with J. R----, Neosha Rapids, Kan. January 26, 1880, James writes
that he gets along pleasantly; wrote to him; twenty-sixth annual report
sent August 4th. July 14, 1880, Mr. and Mrs. R---- write that James is
impudent and tries them greatly. Wrote to him August 17, 1880; wrote again
October 15th. October 21, 1880, Mr. R---- writes that they could not
possibly get along with James and placed him with Mr. G. H----, about five
miles from his house. Mr. H---- is a good man and has a handsome property.
Wrote to James March 8, 1881. May 1, 1883, has left his place and has
engaged to work for Mr. H----, of Hartford. James seems to be a pretty
wild boy, and the probability is he will turn out badly; is very profane
and has a violent temper. April 17, 1887, Mrs. Lyman Fry writes James was
crushed to death in Kansas City, where he was employed as brakeman on a
freight train.

October 16, 1889.--The above is a mistake. James calls to-day at the
office and says that after I saw him he turned over a new leaf, and has
made a pretty good character for himself. Has worked steadily and has many
friends in Emporia. Has been here three days and wants to look up his
friends. Is grateful for having been sent West."

So James came out right after all, and all his sins are forgiven. He was a
fair sample of those who have troubled the Society's managers most,
occasionally brought undeserved reproach upon them, but in the end given
them the sweet joy of knowing that their faith and trust were not put to
shame. Many pages in the ledgers shine with testimony to that. I shall
mention but a single case, the one to which I alluded in the introduction
to the story of the Industrial Schools. Andrew H. Burke was taken by the
Society's agents from the nursery at Randall's Island, thirty-three years
ago, with a number of other boys, and sent out to Nobleville, Ind. They
heard from him in St. Mark's Place as joining the Sons of Temperance, then
as going to the war, a drummer boy; next of his going to college with a
determination "to be somebody in the world." He carried his point. That
boy is now the Governor of North Dakota. Last winter he wrote to his kind
friends, full of loyalty and gratitude, this message for the poor children
of New York:

"To the boys now under your charge please convey my best wishes, and that
I hope that their pathways in life will be those of morality, of honor, of
health, and industry. With these four attributes as a guidance and
incentive, I can bespeak for them an honorable and happy and successful
life. The goal is for them as well as for the rich man's son. They must
learn to labor and to wait, for 'all things come to him who waits.' Many
times will the road be rugged, winding, and long, and the sky overcast
with ominous clouds. Still, it will not do to fall by the wayside and give
up. If one does, the battle of life will be lost.

"Tell the boys I am proud to have had as humble a beginning in life as
they, and that I believe it has been my salvation. I hope my success in
life, if it can be so termed, will be an incentive to them to struggle for
a respectable recognition among their fellow-men. In this country family
name cuts but little figure. It is the character of the man that wins
recognition, hence I would urge them to build carefully and consistently
for the future."

The bigger boys do not always give so good an account of themselves. I
have already spoken of the difficulty besetting the Society's efforts to
deal with that end of the problem. The street in their case has had the
first inning, and the battle is hard, often doubtful. Sometimes it is
lost. These are rarely sent West, early consignments of them having
stirred up a good deal of trouble there. They go South, where they seem to
have more patience with them. "The people there," said an old agent of the
Society to me, with an enthusiasm that was fairly contagious, "are the
most generous, kind-hearted people in the world. And they are more easy
going. If a boy turns out badly, steals and runs away perhaps, a letter
comes, asking not for retaliation or upbraiding us for letting him come,
but hoping that he will do better, expressing sorrow and concern, and
ending usually with the big-hearted request that we send them another in
his place." And another comes, and, ten to one, does better. What lad is
there whose wayward spirit such kindness would not conquer in the end?[24]

These bigger boys come usually out of the Society's lodging-houses for
homeless children. Of these I spoke so fully in the account of the Street
Arab in "How the Other Half Lives," that I shall not here enter into any
detailed description of them. There are six, one for girls in East Twelfth
Street, lately moved from St. Mark's Place, and five for boys. The oldest
and best known of these is the Newsboys' lodging-house in Duane Street,
now called the Brace Memorial Lodging-house for Boys. The others are the
East Side house in East Broadway, the Tompkins Square house, the West Side
house at Seventh Avenue and Thirty-second Street, and the lodging-house at
Forty-fourth Street and Second Avenue. A list of the builders' names
emphasizes what I said a while ago about the unostentatious charity of
rich New Yorkers. I have never seen them published anywhere except in the
Society's reports, but they make good and instructive reading, and here
they are in the order in which I gave the houses they built, beginning
with the one on East Broadway: Miss Catharine L. Wolfe, Mrs. Robert L.
Stuart, John Jacob Astor, Morris K. Jesup. The girls' home in East Twelfth
Street, just completed, was built as a memorial to Miss Elizabeth
Davenport Wheeler by her family, and is to be known as the Elizabeth Home.
The list might be greatly extended by including the twenty-one Industrial
Schools, which are in fact links in the same great chain; but that is not
to the present purpose, and probably I should not be thanked for doing it.
I have already transgressed enough. The wealth that seeks its
responsibilities among the outcast children in this city, is of the kind
that prefers that it should remain unidentified and unheralded to the
world in connection with its benefactions.

It is in these lodging-houses that one may study the homelessness that
mocks the miles of brick walls which enclose New York's tenements, but
not its homes. Only with special opportunities is it nowadays possible to
study it anywhere else in New York. One may still hunt up by night waifs
who make their beds in alleys and cellars and abandoned sheds. This last
winter two stable fires that broke out in the middle of the night routed
out little colonies of boys, who slept in the hay and probably set it on
fire. But one no longer stumbles over homeless waifs in the street
gutters. One has to hunt for them and to know where. The "cruelty man"
knows and hunts them so assiduously that the game is getting scarcer every
day. The doors of the lodging-houses stand open day and night, offering
shelter upon terms no cold or hungry lad would reject: six cents for
breakfast and supper, six for a clean bed. They are not pauper barracks,
and he is expected to pay; but he can have trust if his pockets are empty,
as they probably are, and even a bootblack's kit or an armful of papers to
start him in business, if need be. The only conditions are that he shall
wash and not swear, and attend evening school when his work is done. It is
not possible to-day that an outcast child should long remain supperless
and without shelter in New York, unless he prefers to take his chances
with the rats of the gutter. Such children there are, but they are no
longer often met. The winter's cold drives even them to cover and to
accept the terms they rejected in more hospitable seasons. Even the
"dock-rat" is human.

It seems a marvel that he is, sometimes, when one hears the story of what
drove him to the street. Drunkenness and brutality at home helped the
tenement do it, half the time. It drove his sister out to a life of shame,
too, as likely as not. I have talked with a good many of the boys, trying
to find out, and heard some yarns and some stories that were true. In
seven cases out of ten, of those who had homes to go to, it was that, when
we got down to hard pan. A drunken father or mother made the street
preferable to the house, and to the street they went.[25] In other cases
death, perhaps, had broken up the family and thrown the boys upon the
world. That was the story of one of the boys I tried to photograph at a
quiet game of "craps" (see picture on page 122) in the hallway of the
Duane Street lodging-house--James Brady. Father and mother had both died
two months after they came here from Ireland, and he went forth from the
tenement alone and without a friend, but not without courage. He just
walked on until he stumbled on the lodging-house, and fell into a job of
selling papers. James, at the age of sixteen, was being initiated into the
mysteries of the alphabet in the evening school. He was not sure that he
liked it. The German boy who took a hand in the game, and who made his
grub and bed money, when he was lucky, by picking up junk, had just such a
career. The third, the bootblack, gave his reasons briefly for running
away from his Philadelphia home: "Me muther wuz all the time hittin' me
when I cum in the house, so I cum away." So did a German boy I met there,
if for a slightly different reason. He was fresh from over the sea, and
had not yet learned a word of English. In his own tongue he told why he
came. His father sent him to a gymnasium, but the Latin was "zu schwer"
for him, and "der Herr Papa sagt heraus!" He was evidently a boy of good
family, but slow. His father could have taken no better course, certainly,
to cure him of that defect, if he did not mind the danger of it.

There are always some whom nobody owns. Boys who come from a distance
perhaps, and are cast up in our streets with all the other drift that sets
toward the city's maelstrom. But the great mass were born of the maelstrom
and ground by it into what they are. Of fourteen lads rounded up by the
officers of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children one
night this past summer, in the alleys and byways down about the printing
offices, where they have their run, two were from Brooklyn, one a runaway
from a good home in White Plains, and the rest from the tenements of New
York. Only one was really without home or friends. That was perhaps an
unusually--I was going to say good showing; but I do not know that it can
be called a good showing that ten boys who had homes to go to should
prefer to sleep out in the street. The boy who has none would have no
other choice until someone picked him up and took him in. The record of
the 84,318 children that have been sent to Western homes in thirty-nine
years show that 17,383 of them had both parents living, and therefore
presumably homes, such as they were; 5,892 only the father, and 11,954 the
mother, living; 39,406 had neither father nor mother. The rest either did
not know, or did not tell. That again includes an earlier period when the
streets were full of vagrants without home-ties, so that the statement, as
applied to to-day, errs on the other side. The truth lies between the two
extremes. Four-fifths, perhaps, are outcasts, the rest homeless waifs.

The great mass, for instance, of the newsboys who cry their "extrees" in
the streets by day, and whom one meets in the Duane Street lodging-house
or in Theatre Alley and about the Post-office by night, are children with
homes who thus contribute to the family earnings, and sleep out, if they
do, because they have either not sold their papers or gambled away the
money at "craps," and are afraid to go home. It was for such a reason
little Giuseppe Margalto and his chum made their bed in the ventilating
chute at the Post-office on the night General Sherman died, and were
caught by the fire that broke out in the mail-room toward midnight.
Giuseppe was burned to death; the other escaped to bring the news to the
dark Crosby Street alley in which he had lived. Giuseppe did not die his
cruel death in vain. A much stricter watch has been kept since upon the
boys, and they are no longer allowed to sleep in many places to which they
formerly had access.

A bed in the street, in an odd box or corner, is good enough for the
ragamuffin who thinks the latitude of his tenement unhealthy, when the
weather is warm. It is cooler there, too, and it costs nothing, if one can
keep out of the reach of the policeman. It is no new experience to the
boy. Half the tenement population, men, women, and children, sleep out of
doors, in streets and yards, on the roof, or on the fire-escape, from May
to October. In winter the boys can curl themselves up on the steam-pipes
in the newspaper offices that open their doors after midnight on secret
purpose to let them in. When these fail, there is still the lodging-house
as a last resort. To the lad whom ill-treatment or misfortune drove to the
street it is always a friend. To the chronic vagrant it has several
drawbacks: the school, the wash, the enforced tax for the supper and the
bed, that cuts down the allowance for "craps," his all-absorbing passion,
and finally the occasional inconvenient habit of mothers and fathers to
come looking there for their missing boys. The police send them there, and
sometimes they take the trouble to call when the boys have gone to bed,
taking them at what they consider a mean disadvantage. However, most of
them do not trouble themselves to that extent. They let the strap hang
idle till the boy comes back, if he ever does.


[Illustration: 2 A.M. IN THE DELIVERY ROOM IN THE "SUN" OFFICE.]


Last February Harry Quill, aged fifteen, disappeared from the tenement No.
45 Washington Street, and though he was not heard of again for many
weeks, his people never bothered the police. Not until his dead body was
fished up from the air-shaft at the bottom of which it had lain two whole
months, was his disappearance explained. But the full explanation came
only the other day, in September, when one of his playmates was arrested
for throwing him down and confessed to doing it. Harry was drunk, he said,
and attacked him on the roof with a knife. In the struggle he threw him
into the air-shaft. Fifteen years old, and fighting drunk! The mere
statement sheds a stronger light on the sources of child vagabondage in
our city than I could do, were I to fill the rest of my book with an
enumeration of them.

However, it is a good deal oftener the father who gets drunk than the boy.
Not all, nor even a majority, of the boys one meets at the lodging-houses
are of that stamp. If they were, they would not be there long. They have
their faults, and the code of morals proclaimed by the little newsboys,
for instance, is not always in absolute harmony with that generally
adopted by civilized society. But even they have virtues quite as
conspicuous. They are honest after their fashion, and tremendously
impartial in a fight. They are bound to see fair play, if they all have to
take a hand. It generally ends that way. A good many of them--the great
majority in all the other lodging-houses but that in Duane Street--work
steadily in shops and factories, making their home there because it is the
best they have, and because there they are among friends they know. Two
little brothers, John and Willie, attracted my attention in the Newsboys'
Lodging-house by the sturdy way in which they held together, back to back,
against the world, as it were. Willie was thirteen and John eleven years
old. Their story was simple and soon told. Their mother died, and their
father, who worked in a gas-house, broke up the household, unable to
maintain it. The boys went out to shift for themselves, while he made his
home in a Bowery lodging-house. The oldest of the brothers was then
earning three dollars a week in a factory; the younger was selling
newspapers, and making out. The day I first saw him he came in from his
route early--it was raining hard--to get dry trousers out for his brother
against the time he should be home from the factory. There was no doubt
the two would hew their way through the world together. The right stuff
was in them, as in the two other lads, also brothers, I found in the
Tompkins Square lodging-house. Their parents had both died, leaving them
to care for a palsied sister and a little brother. They sent the little
one to school, and went to work for the sister. Their combined earnings at
the shop were just enough to support her and one of the brothers who
stayed with her. The other went to the lodging-house, where he could live
for eighteen cents a day, turning the rest of his earnings into the family
fund. With this view of these homeless lads, the one who goes much among
them is not surprised to hear of their clubbing together, as they did in
the Seventh Avenue lodging-house, to fit out a little ragamuffin, who was
brought in shivering from the street, with a suit of clothes. There was
not one in the crowd that chipped in who had a whole coat to his back.

It was in this lodging-house I first saw Buffalo. He was presented to me
the night I took the picture of my little vegetable-peddling friend,
Edward, asleep on the front bench in evening school. Edward was nine years
old and an orphan, but hard at work every day earning his own living by
shouting from a pedlar's cart. He could not be made to sit for his
picture, and I took him at a disadvantage--in a double sense, for he had
not made his toilet; it was in the days of the threatened water-famine,
and the boys had been warned not to waste water in washing, an injunction
they cheerfully obeyed. I was anxious not to have the boy disturbed, so
the spelling-class went right on while I set up the camera. It was an
original class, original in its answers as in its looks. This was what I
heard while I focused on poor Eddie:

The teacher: "Cheat! spell cheat."


[Illustration: BUFFALO.]


Boy spells correctly. Teacher: "Right! What is it to cheat?"

Boy: "To skin one, like Tommy----"

The teacher cut the explanation short, and ordering up another boy, bade
him spell "nerve." He did it. "What is nerve?" demanded the teacher; "what
does it mean?"


[Illustration: NIGHT-SCHOOL IN THE WEST SIDE LODGING-HOUSE. EDWARD, THE
LITTLE PEDLAR, CAUGHT NAPPING.]


"Cheek! don't you know," said the boy, and at that moment I caught
Buffalo blacking my sleeping pedlar's face with ink, just in time to
prevent his waking him up. Then it was that I heard the disturber's story.
He _was_ a character, and no mistake. He had run away from Buffalo, whence
his name, "beating" his way down on the trains, until he reached New York.
He "shined" around until he got so desperately hard up that he had to sell
his kit. Just about then he was discovered by an artist, who paid him to
sit for him in his awful rags with his tousled hair that had not known the
restraint of a cap for months. "Oh! it was a daisy job," sighed Buffalo,
at the recollection. He had only to sit still and crack jokes. Alas!
Buffalo's first effort at righteousness upset him. He had been taught in
the lodging-house that to be clean was the first requisite of a gentleman,
and on his first pay-day he went bravely, eschewing "craps," and bought
himself a new coat and had his hair cut. When, beaming with pride, he
presented himself at the studio in his new character, the artist turned
him out as no longer of any use to him. I am afraid that Buffalo's
ambition to be "like folks," received a shock by this mysterious
misfortune, that spoiled his career. A few days after that he was caught
by a policeman in the street, at his old game of "craps." The officer took
him to the police court and arraigned him as a hardened offender. To the
judge's question if he had any home, he said frankly yes! in Buffalo, but
he had run away from it.

"Now, if I let you go, will you go right back?" asked the magistrate,
looking over the desk at the youthful prisoner. Buffalo took off his
tattered cap and stood up on the foot-rail so that he could reach across
the desk with his hand.

"Put it there, jedge!" he said. "I'll go. Square and honest, I will."

And he went. I never heard of him again.

The evening classes are a sort of latch-key to knowledge for belated
travellers on the road. They make good use of it, if they are late, as
instanced in the class in history in the Duane Street lodging-house, which
the younger boys irreverently speak of as "The Soup-house Gang." I found
it surprisingly proficient, if it was in its shirtsleeves, and there were
at least a couple of pupils in it who promised to make their mark. All of
its members are working lads, and not a few of them are capitalists in a
small but very promising way. There is a savings bank attached to each
lodging-house, with the superintendent as president and cashier at once.
No less than $5,197 was deposited by the 11,435 boys who found shelter in
them in 1891. They were not all depositors, of course. In the Duane Street
lodging-house, out of 7,614 newsboys who were registered, 1,108 developed
the instinct of saving, or were able to lay by something. Their little
pile at the end of the year held the respectable sum of $3,162.39.[26] It
is safe to say that the interest of the Soup-house Gang in it was
proportionate to its other achievements. In the West Side lodging-house,
where nearly a thousand boys were taken in during the year, 54 patronized
the bank and saved up $360.11. I found a little newsboy there who sells
papers in the Grand Central Depot, and whose bank-book showed deposits of
$200. Some day that boy, for all he has a "tough" father and mother who
made him prefer the lodging-house as a home at the age of nine years, will
be running the news business on the road as the capable "boss" of any
number of lads of his present age. He neglects no opportunity to learn
what the house has to offer, if he can get to the school in time. On the
whole, the teachers report the boys as slow at their books, and no wonder.
A glimpse of little Eddie, in from the cart after his day's work and
dropping asleep on the bench from sheer weariness, more than excuses him,
I think. Eddie may have a chance now to learn something better than
peddling apples. They have lately added to the nightly instruction there,
I am told, the feature of manual training in the shape of a
printing-office, to which the boys have taken amazingly and which
promises great things.

There was one pupil in that evening class, at whose door the charge of
being "slow" could not be laid, indifferent though his scholarship was in
anything but the tricks of the street. He was the most hopeless young
scamp I ever knew, and withal so aggravatingly funny that it was
impossible not to laugh, no matter how much one felt like scolding. He
lived by "shinin'" and kept his kit in a saloon to save his dragging it
home every night. When I last saw him he was in disgrace, for not showing
up at the school four successive nights. He explained that the policeman
who "collared" him "fur fightin'" was to blame. It was the third time he
had been locked up for that offence. When he found out that I wanted to
know his history, he set about helping me with a readiness to oblige that
was very promising. Did he have any home? Oh, yes, he had.

"Well, where do you live?" I asked.

"Here!" said Tommy, promptly, with just a suspicion of a wink at the other
boys who were gathered about watching the examination. He had no father;
didn't know where his mother was.

"Is she any relation to you!" put in one of the boys, gravely. Tommy
disdained the question. It turned out that his mother had been after him
repeatedly and that he was an incorrigible runaway. She had at last given
him up for good. While his picture was being "took"--it will be found on
page 100 of this book--one of the lads reported that she was at the door
again, and Tommy broke and ran. He returned just when they closed the
doors of the house for the night, with the report that "the old woman was
a fake."


[Illustration: THE "SOUP-HOUSE GANG," CLASS IN HISTORY IN THE DUANE STREET
NEWSBOYS' LODGING-HOUSE.]


The crippled boys' brush shop is a feature of the lodging-house in East
Forty-fourth Street. It is the _bête noire_ of the Society, partly on
account of the difficulty of making it go without too great an outlay,
partly on account of the boys themselves. They are of all the city's
outcasts the most unfortunate and the hardest to manage. Their misfortune
has soured their temper, and as a rule they are troublesome and
headstrong. No wonder. There seems to be no room for a poor crippled lad
in New York. There are plenty of institutions that are after the well and
able-bodied, but for the cripples the only chance is to shrivel and die in
the Randall's Island Asylum. No one wants them. The brush shop pays them
wages that enables them to make their way, and the boys turn out enough
brushes, if a market could only be found for them. It is a curious and
saddening fact that the competition that robs it of its market comes from
the prisons, to block the doors of which the Society expends all its
energies--the prisons of other States than our own at that. The managers
have a good word to say for the trades unions, which have been very kind
to them, they say, in this matter of brushes, trying to help the boys, but
without much success. The shop is able to employ only a small fraction of
the number it might benefit, were it able to dispose of its wares readily.
Despite their misfortunes the cripples manage to pick up and enjoy the
good things they find in their path as they hobble through life. Last year
they challenged the other crippled boys in the hospital on Randall's
Island to a champion game of base-ball, and beat them on their crutches
with a score of 42 to 31. The game was played on the hospital lawn, before
an enthusiastic crowd of wrecks, young and old, and must have been a sight
to see.

A worse snag than the competition of the prisons is struck by the Society
in the cheap Bowery lodging-houses--"hotels" they are called--that attract
the homeless boys with their greater promise of freedom. There are no
troublesome rules to obey there, no hours to keep, and very little to pay.
An ordinance of the Health Department, which exercises jurisdiction over
those houses, prohibits the admission of boys under sixteen years old, but
the prohibition is easily evaded, and many slip in to encounter there the
worst of all company for such as they. The lowest of these houses, that
are also the cheapest and therefore the ones the boys patronize, are the
nightly rendezvous of thieves and, as the police have more than once
pointed out, murderers as well. There should be a much stricter
supervision over them--supervision by the police as well as by the health
officers--and the age limit should be put at eighteen years instead of
sixteen. There is this much to be said for the lodging-houses, however,
that it is a ticklish subject to approach until the city as a municipality
has swept before its own door. They at least offer a bed, such as it is,
and shelter after their fashion. The hospitality the city offers to its
homeless poor in the police-station lodging-rooms is one of the scandals
of a civilized age. The moral degradation of an enforced stay in these
dens is immeasurable. To say that they are the resort of tramps and "bums"
who know and deserve nothing better, is begging the question. It is true
of the majority, but that very fact consigns the helpless minority, too
poor to pay and too proud to beg, to a fate worse than death. I myself
picked from the mass of festering human filth in a police-station
lodging-room, one night last winter, six young lads, not one of whom was
over eighteen, and who for one reason or another had been stranded there
that night. They were not ruffians either, but boys who to all appearances
had come from good homes, the memory of which might not efface the lessons
learned that night in a lifetime. The scandal has been denounced over and
over again by grand juries, by the Police Commissioners, and by
philanthropists who know of the facts, and efforts without end have been
made to get the city authorities to substitute some decent system of
municipal hospitality for this unutterable disgrace, as other cities have
done, but they have all been wrecked by political jobbery or official
apathy.

A thing to be profoundly thankful for is the practical elimination of the
girl vagrant from our social life. Ten years ago, Broadway from Fourteenth
Street up was crowded with little girls who, under the pretence of
peddling flowers and newspapers, pandered to the worst immorality. They
went in regular gangs, captained and employed by a few conscienceless old
harpies, who took the wages of their infamy and paid them with blows and
curses if they fell short of their greed. The police and the officers of
the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children put an end to this
traffic after a long fight, sending the old wretches to jail and some of
their victims to the reformatories. One of the gangs that were broken up
had a rendezvous in a stable in Thirtieth Street, near Broadway. The girls
had latch-keys and went out and in at all hours of the night. To-day the
flower-girl of tender years is scarcely ever met with in New York. Even
the news-girl has disappeared almost entirely and left the field to the
boys. Those who are not at work at home or in the shop have been gathered
in by the agencies for their rescue, that have multiplied with the growth
of the conviction that girl vagrancy is so much more corrosive than boy
vagabondism, as it adds sexual immorality to the other dangers of the
street. In 1881 the society's lodging-house in St. Mark's Place sheltered
1,287 girls. Their number has gone down since, as the census has gone up,
until last year it had fallen to 335, and even these were no longer
vagrants, but wayward daughters brought by their parents to be trained to
obedience and industry. In the same period, during which the city's
population increased more than one-fourth, the increase being very largely
made up of just the material to feed its homelessness, the register of the
boys' lodging-houses showed a reduction from 13,155 to 11,435.

In the introductory chapter I pointed out, as a result of the efforts made
in behalf of the children in the past generation, not only by the
Children's Aid Society, but by many kindred organizations, that the
commitments of girls and women for vagrancy fell off between the years
1860 and 1890 from 5,880 to 1,980, or from 1 in every 138-1/2 persons to 1
in every 780 of a population that had more than doubled in the interval,
while the commitments of petty girl thieves fell between 1865 and 1890
from 1 in 743 to 1 in 7,500. Illustrated by diagram this last statement
looks this way, the year 1869 being substituted as the starting-point; it
had almost exactly the same number of commitments as 1865 (see Chart A).


[Illustration: CHART A.]


The year is at the top, and its record of commitments of petty girl
thieves at the bottom. The tendency is steadily downward, it will be seen,
and downward here is the safe course. The police court arraignments for
what is known as juvenile delinquency, which is, in short, all the
mischief that is not crime under the code, make the following showing,
starting with the year 1875, the upper line representing the boys and the
lower the girls:


[Illustration: CHART B.]


Taking, finally, the commitments of girls under twenty for all causes, in
thirteen years, we have this showing:


[Illustration: CHART C.]


These diagrams would be more satisfactory if they always meant exactly
what they seem to show. The trouble is that they share in the general
inapplicability to the purposes of scientific research of all public
reports in this city (save those of the Health Department, which is
fortunate in possessing a responsible expert statistician in Dr. Roger S.
Tracy) by reason of lack of uniformity or otherwise. When one gets down to
the bottom of a slump like that between the years 1888 and 1889, in the
last diagram, one is as likely to find a negligent police clerk or some
accidental change of classification there as an economic fact. Something
like this last is, I believe, hidden in this particular one. The figures
for 1891 maintain the point reached in 1887 and in 1890. However, the
important thing is that the decrease has gone on more or less steadily
through good years and bad since the children's societies took the field,
while the population has increased as never before. Had these forms of
disorder even held their own, the slope should have been steadily upward,
not downward. In this there is encouragement, surely. There is enough left
to battle with. The six lodging-houses sheltered in the last twelve years
149,994 children, 8,820 of them girls. We are not near the end yet. The
problem is a great one, but the efforts on foot to solve it are great and
growing. It has been a forty years' fight with poverty and ignorance and
crime, and it is only just begun. But the first blow is half the battle,
it is said, and it has been struck in New York, and struck to win.



CHAPTER XV.

PUTTING A PREMIUM ON PAUPERISM


In spite of all this labor and effort, in the face of the fact that half
of the miseries of society are at last acknowledged to be due to the
sundering of the home-tie in childhood, and that therefore the remedy lies
in restoring it, where that can be done, as early as possible, we have in
New York a city of mighty institutions, marshalling a standing army of
nearly or quite sixteen thousand children, year in and year out.[27] Homes
they are sometimes called; but too many of them are not homes in the
saving sense. Those are, that are merely half-way houses to the ultimate
family home that shall restore to the child what it has lost. Failing in
that, they become public tenements, with most of the bad features of the
tenement left out, but the worst retained: the smothering of the tenant's
individuality. He is saved from becoming a tough to become an automaton.

It is money scattered without judgment--not poverty--that makes the
pauper. It is money scattered without judgment--not poverty--that marshals
the greater part of this army. Money backed up by pharisaical
sectarianism. Where two such powerful factors combine, politics is never
far in the rear, though modestly invisible to the naked eye. To this
irresponsible combination--conspiracy it might be called without
stretching the point far--the care of the defenceless child that comes
upon the public for support has been handed over without check or control
of any sort. Worse, a premium has been put upon his coming, upon child
desertion in our community. What are the causes of this?

They have been stated often and urgently enough by those whose great
experience gave weight to their arguments. Clothed in legal phrase, they
may be found summed up in the law of 1875, which ordains that a dependent
child shall be committed to an institution controlled by persons of the
same religious faith as its parents, when that can be done, and that the
county shall pay the child's board. It was a tremendous bid for child
pauperism, and poverty, ignorance, and greed were not slow to respond.
Under this so-called "religious clause," the number of children thrown
upon the county, in New York City alone, was swelled, between 1875 and
1890, from 9.363 to 16.358, this statement including only the twenty-nine
institutions that can demand or do receive public money toward their
support. Some of them, that have come into existence since it was passed,
were directly created by the law. It was natural that this should be so,
"because it provided exactly the care which parents desired for their
children, that of persons of their own religious faith, and supplied ample
means for the children's support; while, although the funds were to be
derived from public sources, yet since the institutions were to be managed
by private persons, the stigma which fortunately attaches to _public_
relief was removed. Thus every incentive to parents to place their
children upon the public for support was created by the provisions of the
law, and every deterrent was removed; for the law demanded nothing from
the parent in return for the support of the child, and did not deprive him
of any of his rights over the child, although relieving him of every duty
toward it."[28] But New York City went a step further, by having special
laws passed securing a stated income from the money raised by local
taxation to nine of its largest institutions. This is where the trail of
the politician might perhaps be traced with an effort. The amount drawn by
the nine in 1890 was nearly a million dollars, while the total so expended
footed up in that year over sixteen hundred thousand dollars. New York
City to-day supports one dependent child to each one hundred of its
population, and the tax levied, directly and indirectly, for the purpose
is about a dollar a head for every man, woman, and child in the city. The
State in 1888 supported one child to every 251 of its population. The
State of California, which had also gone into the wholesale charity
business, supported one dependent child to every 290 of its population,
while Michigan, which had gone out of it, taking her children out of the
poor-houses and sending them to a State public school, with the proviso
that thenceforth parents surrendering their children to be public charges
should lose all rights over or to their custody, services, or earnings,
had only 1 to every 10,000 of its people.[29]

That proviso cut the matter to the quick. The law declared the school to
be a "temporary home for dependent children, where they shall be detained
only until they can be placed in family homes." That is a very different
thing from the institution that, with its handsome buildings, its lawns,
and its gravelled walks, looks to the poor parent like a grand
boarding-school where his child can be kept, free of charge to him, and
taught on terms that seem alluringly like the privileges enjoyed by the
rich, until it shall be old enough to earn wages and help toward the
family support; very different from the plan of sending the boy to the
asylum to be managed, the moment parental authority fails at home. To what
extent these things are done in New York may be inferred from the
statement of the Superintendent of the Juvenile Asylum, which contains an
average of a thousand children, that three-fourths of the inmates could
not be sent to free homes in the West because their relatives would not
consent to their going.[30] It was only last summer that my attention was
attracted, while on a visit to this Juvenile Asylum, to a fine-looking
little fellow who seemed much above the average of the class in which I
found him. On inquiring as to the causes that had brought him to that
place, I was shocked to find that he was the son of a public official,
well-known to me, whose income from the city's treasury was sufficient not
only to provide for the support of his family, but to enable him to
gratify somewhat expensive private tastes as well. The boy had been there
two years, during which time the Asylum had drawn for his account from the
public funds about $240, at the per capita rate of $110 for each inmate
and his share of the school money. His father, when I asked him why the
boy was there, told me that it was because he would insist upon paying
unauthorized visits to his grandmother in the country. There was no
evidence that he was otherwise unmanageable. Seeing my surprise, he put
the question, as if that covered the ground: "Well, now! where would you
put him in a better place?" It was a handsome compliment to the Asylum,
which as a reform school it perhaps deserved; but it struck me, all the
same, that he could hardly have put him in a worse place, on all accounts.

I do not know how many such cases there were in the Asylum then. I hope
not many. But it is certain that our public institutions are full of
children who have parents amply able, but unwilling, to support them. From
time to time enough such cases crop out to show how common the practice
is. Reference to cases 59,703, 59,851, and 60,497 in the report of the
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (1892), will discover
some striking instances that were ferreted out by the Society's officers.
All of the offenders were in thriving business. One of them kept a store
in Newark--in another State--and was not even a resident of the city. He
merely "honored it with the privilege of paying his children's
boarding-school expenses in the institution." They were all Italians.
These people seem to consider that it is their right to thus feed at the
public crib. Perhaps it is the first quickening of the seed of municipal
politics that sprouts so energetically among them in the slums, under the
teaching of their Irish patrons.

When Mrs. Lowell inspected the New York City institutions in 1889, she
found "that of 20,384 individual children sheltered in them, 4,139 had
been that year returned to parents or friends, that is, to the persons who
had given them up to be paupers; that there were only 1,776 orphans among
them, and 4,987 half orphans, of whom 2,247 had living fathers, who
presumably ought to have been made to support their children themselves."
Three years later, the imperfect returns to a circular inquiry sent out by
the State Board of Charities, showed that of 18,556 children in
institutions in this State, 3,671, or less than twenty per cent., were
orphans. The rest then had, or should have, homes. Doubtless, many were
homes of which they were well rid; but all experience shows that there
must have been far too many of the kind that were well rid of _them_, and
to that extent the tax-payers were robbed and the parents and the children
pauperized. And that even that other kind were much better off in the long
run, their being in the institution did not guarantee. Children, once for
all, cannot be successfully reared in regiments within the narrow rules
and the confinement of an asylum, if success is to be measured by the
development of individual character. Power to regulate or shorten their
stay is not vested to any practical extent or purpose in any outside
agency. Within, with every benevolent desire to do the right, every
interest of the institution as a whole tends to confuse the perception of
it. The more children, the more money; the fewer children, the less money.
A thousand children can be more economically managed for $110,000 than
five hundred for half the money. The fortieth annual report of the
Juvenile Asylum (1891) puts it very plainly, in this statement on page 23:
"Until the capacity of the Asylum was materially increased, an annual
deficit ranging between $5,000 and $10,000 had to be covered by appeals to
private contributors." Now, it runs not only the New York house but its
Western agency as well on its income.

The city pays the bills, but exercises no other control over the
institutions. It does not even trouble itself with counting the
children.[31] The committing magistrate consults and is guided more or
less by the Officers of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Children, in his choice of the institution into which the child is put.
But both are bound by the law that imposes the "faith-test." The
faith-test, as enforced by civil law anywhere, is absurd. The parents of
the eighty per cent. of children in institutions who were not orphans,
split no theological hairs in ridding themselves of their support. Backed
by the money sacks of a great and wealthy city, it is injurious humbug.
This is not the perfection of organized charitable effort for the rescue
of the children of which I spoke, but rather the perversion of it.

It is reasonable to ask that if the public is to pay the piper, the public
should have the hiring of him too. A special city officer is needed to
have this matter in charge. Nearly six years ago Commissioner Lowell
submitted a draft for a bill creating a department for the care of
dependent children in New York City, with a commissioner at the head whose
powers would have been an effective check upon the evil tendencies of the
present law. But we travel slowly along the path of municipal reform, and
the commissioner is yet a dream. Some day we may wake up and find him
there, and then we shall be ready, by and by, to carry out the ideal plan
of placing those children, for whom free homes cannot be found, out at
board in families where they shall come by their rights, denied them by
institution life. Then, too, we shall find, I think, that there is a good
deal less of the problem than we thought. The managers of the Union
Temporary Home in Philadelphia decided, after thirty one years of work, to
close the House and put the children out to board, because experience had
convinced them that "life in the average institution is not so good for
children as life in the average home." The intelligence of the conclusion,
and the earnestness with which they presented it, guaranteed that their
"Home" had been above the average.

"The testimony of two gentlemen on our Board of Council," they reported,
"both experienced as heads of great industrial enterprises, is that
institution boys are generally the least desirable apprentices. They have
been dulled in faculty, by not having been daily exercised in the use of
themselves in small ways; have marched in platoons; have done everything
in squads; have had all the particulars of life arranged for them; and, as
a consequence, they wait for someone else to arrange every piece of work,
and are never ready for emergencies, nor able to 'take hold.'" But when
they came to actually board the children out, all but the parents of nine
were suddenly able to take good care of them themselves, and of the rest
three found a way before final arrangements were made. There were seventy
children in the Home. Pauperism runs in the same ruts in New York as in
Pennsylvania, and the motive power is the same--ill-spent money.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE VERDICT OF THE POTTER'S FIELD


Looking back now over the field we have traversed, what is the verdict?
Are we going backward or forward? To be standing still would be to lose
ground. Nothing stands still in this community of ours, with its
ever-swelling population, least of all the problem of the children of the
poor. It got the start of our old indifference once, and we have had a
long and wearisome race of it, running it down.

But we have run it down. We are moving forward, and indifference will not
again trap us into defeat. Evidence is multiplying on every hand to show
that interest in the children is increasing. The personal service, that
counts for so infinitely much more than money, is more freely given day by
day, and no longer as a fashionable fad, but as a duty too long neglected.
From the colleges young men and women are going forth to study the problem
in a practical way that is full of promise. Charity is forgetting its
petty jealousies and learning the lesson of organization and co-operation.
"Looking back," writes the Secretary of the Charity Organization Society,
"over the progress of the last ten years, the success seems large, while
looking at our hopes and aims it often seems meagre." The Church is coming
up, no longer down, to its work among the poor. In the multiplication of
brotherhoods and sisterhoods, of societies of Christian Endeavor, of
King's Daughters, of efforts on every hand to reach the masses, the law of
love, the only law that has real power to protect the poor, is receiving
fresh illustration day by day.

The Fresh Air Work, the Boys' Clubs, the Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Children, bear witness to it, and to the energy and resources
that shall yet win the fight for us. They were born of New York's plight.
The whole world shares in the good they have wrought.

Kindergartens, industrial schools, baby nurseries are springing up
everywhere. We have children's play-grounds, and we shall be getting more,
if the promised small parks are yet in the future. Municipal progress has
not kept step with private benevolence, but there is progress. New schools
have been built this year and others are planned. We are beginning to
understand that there are other and better ways of making citizens and
voters than to grind them out through the political naturalization mill at
every election. If the rum power has not lost its grip, it has not
tightened it, at all events, in forty years. Then there was one saloon to
every 90.8 inhabitants; to-day there is one to every 236.42.[32] The
streets in the tenement districts, since I penned the first lines of this
book, have been paved and cleaned as never before, and new standards of
decency set up for the poor who live there and for their children. Jersey
Street, Poverty Gap, have disappeared, and an end has been put, for a
time at least, to the foul business of refuse gathering at the dumps.
Nothing stands still in New York. Conditions change so suddenly, under the
pressure of new exigencies, that it is sometimes difficult to keep up with
them. The fact that it is generally business which prompts the changes for
the better has this drawback, that the community, knowing that relief is
coming sooner or later, gets into the habit of waiting for it to come that
way as the natural one. It is not always the natural way, and though
relief comes with bustle and stir at last, it is sometimes too long
delayed.

Another mischievous habit, characteristic of the American people,
preoccupied with so many urgent private concerns, is to rise up and pass a
law that is loudly in demand, and let it go with that, as if all social
evils could be cured by mere legal enactment. As a result, some of the
best and most necessary laws are dead letters on our statute books. The
law is there, but no one thinks of enforcing it. The beginning was made at
the wrong end; but we shall reach around to the other in season.

The chief end has been gained in the recognition of the child problem as
the all-important one, of the development of individual character as the
strongest barrier against the evil forces of the street and the tenement.
Last year I had occasion to address a convention at the National Capital,
on certain phases of city poverty and suffering, and made use of the magic
lantern to enforce some of the lessons presented. The last picture put on
the screen showed the open trench in the Potter's Field. When it had
passed, the Secretary of the Convention, a clergyman whose life has been
given to rescue work among homeless boys, told how there had just come to
join him in his work the man who had until very lately been in charge of
this Potter's Field. His experience there had taught him that the waste
before which he stood helpless at that end of the line, looking on without
power to check or relieve, must be stopped at its source. So he had turned
from the dead to the living, pledging the years that remained to him to
that effort.

It struck me then, and it has seemed to me since, that this man's position
to the problem was most comprehensive. The evidence of his long-range view
was convincing. Society had indeed arrived at the same diagnosis some time
before. Reasoning by exclusion, as doctors do in doubtful diseases, the
symptoms of which are clearer than their cause, it had conjectured that if
the "tough" whom it must maintain in idleness behind prison-bars, to keep
him from preying upon it, was a creature of environment, not justly to
blame, the community must be, for allowing him to grow up a "tough." So,
in self-defence, it had turned its hand to the forming of character in
proportion as it had come to own its failure to reform it. To that failure
the trench in the Potter's Field bore unceasing witness. Its claim to be
heard in evidence was incontestable.

Now that it has been heard, its testimony confirms the judgment that had
already experience to back it. There is no longer room for doubt that with
the children lies the solution of the problem of poverty, as far as it can
be reached under existing forms of society and with our machinery for
securing justice by government. The wisdom of generations that were dust
two thousand years ago made this choice. We have been long in making it,
but not too long if our travail has made it clear at last that for all
time to come it must be the only safe choice. And this, whether from the
standpoint of the Christian or the unbeliever, from that of humanity or
mere business. If the matter is reduced to a simple sum in arithmetic, so
much for so much--child-rescue, as the one way of balancing waste with
gain, loss with profit, becomes the imperative duty of society, its chief
bulwark against bankruptcy and wreck.

Thus, through the gloom of the Potter's Field that has levied such heavy
tribute on our city in the past--even the tenth of its life--brighter
skies, a new hope, are discerned beyond. They brighten even the slum
tenement, and shine into the home which just now we despaired of reaching
by any other road than that of pulling it down. Tireless, indeed, the
hands need be that have taken up this task. Flag their efforts ever so
little, hard-won ground is lost, mischief done. But we are gaining, no
longer losing, ground. Seen from the tenement, through the frame-work of
injustice and greed that cursed us with it, the outlook seemed little less
than despairing. Groping vainly, with unseeing eyes, we said: There is no
way out. The children, upon whom the curse of the tenement lay heaviest,
have found it for us. Truly it was said: "A little child shall lead
them."



REGISTER OF CHILDREN'S CHARITIES

AS PUBLISHED BY THE CHARITY ORGANIZATION SOCIETY


In addition to the charities given here, seventy-eight churches of all
denominations conduct weekly industrial and sewing classes, generally on
Saturdays, for which see the Directory of the Charity Organization
Society, under Churches, where may also be found the register of
thirty-two fresh-air funds not recorded below, and of some kindergartens
and clubs established by various churches for the children of their
congregations.


NURSERIES.

                                                            AGES RECEIVED.

  AHAWATH CHESED SISTERHOOD, 71 East 3d St.                    3 to 6 yrs.

  BETHANY DAY NURSERY, 453 East 57th St.                 2 weeks to 6 yrs.

  BETH-EL SOCIETY, 355 East 62d St.                        2-1/2 to 6 yrs.

  BETHLEHEM DAY NURSERY, 249 East 30th St.                1 week to 7 yrs.

  CHILDREN'S CHARITABLE UNION, 70 Av. D.                       3 to 7 yrs.

  DAY NURSERY AND BABIES' SHELTER, 118 West 21st St.           1 to 5 yrs.

  ÉCOLE FRANÇAISE GRATUITE AND SALLE D'ASILE, 69 Washington Square.
                                                              2 to 11 yrs.

  EMANU-EL SISTERHOOD, 159 East 74th St.                       3 to 6 yrs.

  GRACE HOUSE DAY NURSERY, 94 Fourth Av.                       1 to 8 yrs.

  HOPE NURSERY, 226 Thompson St.

  JEWELL DAY NURSERY, 20 Macdougal St.                         2 to 5 yrs.

  MANHATTAN WORKING GIRLS' ASSOCIATION, 440 East 57th St.
                                                        2 weeks to 10 yrs.

  MEMORIAL DAY NURSERY, 275 East Broadway.                     1 to 6 yrs.

  RIVERSIDE DAY NURSERY, 121 West 63d St.                  1 mo. to 8 yrs.

  ST. AGNES' DAY NURSERY, 7 Charles St.                   8 days to 6 yrs.

  ST. BARNABAS' HOUSE, 304 Mulberry St.                  4 weeks to 8 yrs.

  ST. CHRYSOSTOM CHAPEL NURSERY, 224 West 38th St.

  ST. JOHN'S DAY NURSERY, 223 East 67th St.                    1 to 6 yrs.

  ST. JOSEPH'S DAY NURSERY, 473 West 57th St.            2 weeks to 7 yrs.

  ST. STEPHEN'S EQUITY CLUB, KINDERGARTEN AND NURSERY, 59 West 46th St.

  ST. THOMAS' DAY NURSERY, 231 East 59th St.                  -- to 6 yrs.

  SALLE D'ASILE ET ÉCOLE PRIMAIRE, 2 South 5th Av.             3 to 8 yrs.

  SILVER CROSS DAY NURSERY, 2249 Second Av.             2 weeks to 10 yrs.

  SUNNYSIDE DAY NURSERY, 51 Prospect Pl.                 2 weeks to 7 yrs.

  VIRGINIA DAY NURSERY, 632 5th St.                       6 mos. to 6 yrs.

  WAYSIDE DAY NURSERY, 216 East 20th St.                  2 mos. to 7 yrs.

  WEST SIDE DAY NURSERY, 266 West 40th St.               18 mos. to 7 yrs.

  WILSON INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL DAY NURSERY, 125 St. Mark's Pl.
                                                           1 mo. to 6 yrs.


KINDERGARTENS.

  AHAWATH CHESED SISTERHOOD FREE KINDERGARTEN               71 East 3d St.

  ALL SOULS' CHURCH FREE KINDERGARTEN       70th St. East of Lexington Av.

  BETH-EL SOCIETY FREE KINDERGARTEN                       355 East 62d St.

  CENTRAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH FREE KINDERGARTEN           454 West 42d St.

  CHERRY STREET KINDERGARTEN                                340 Cherry St.

  CHILDREN'S CHARITABLE UNION KINDERGARTEN                       70 Av. D.

  EAST SIDE CHAPEL AND BIBLE WOMEN'S ASSOCIATION KINDERGARTEN
                                                         404 East 15th St.

  EAST SIDE HOUSE KINDERGARTEN                       Foot of East 76th St.

  EMANU-EL SISTERHOOD KINDERGARTEN                         159 E. 74th St.

  FREE KINDERGARTEN ASS'N, OF HARLEM, No. 1 School          2048 First Av.

  FREE KINDERGARTEN OF ST. JOHN'S CHAPEL                Varick near Beach.

  FRENCH FREE SCHOOL                               69 South Washington Sq.

  HEBREW FREE SCHOOL ASSOCIATION              East B'way and Jefferson St.

  KINDERGARTEN OF MADISON SQUARE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH HOUSE
                                                    Third Av. and 30th St.

       "       "  ST. GEORGE'S AV. A MISSION                    253 Av. A.

       "       "         "     CHAPEL                      130 Stanton St.

       "       "  SHEARITH ISRAEL CONGREGATION             5 West 19th St.

  LADIES' BIKUR CHOLIM SOCIETY KINDERGARTEN             177 East Broadway.

  NEIGHBORHOOD GUILD KINDERGARTEN                          146 Forsyth St.

  N. Y. FOUNDLING HOSPITAL KINDERGARTEN                  175 East 68th St.

  N. Y. KINDERGARTEN ASSOCIATION SCHOOLS:
          No. 1, 221 East 51st St.
          No. 2, Alumnæ Kindergarten, cor. 63d St. and First Av.
          No. 3, 228 West 35th St.
          No. 4, 348 West 26th St.
          No. 5, Shaw Memorial, 61 Henry St.
          No. 6, McAlpine, 62 Second St.
          No. 7, Av. A and 15th St.

  ST. ANDREWS' FREE KINDERGARTEN                           2067 Second Av.

  ST. BARTHOLOMEW'S    "                                  209 East 42d St.

  ST. JAMES' FREE KINDERGARTEN                          Av. A and 78th St.

  ST. MARY'S KINDERGARTEN                                    438 Grand St.

  SHAARAY TEFILLA SISTERHOOD KINDERGARTEN                127 West 44th St.

  SILVER CROSS        "           "                        2249 Second Av.

  SOCIETY FOR ETHICAL CULTURE     "                      109 West 54th St.

  TEMPLE ISRAEL SISTERHOOD KINDERGARTEN              125th St. and 5th Av.

  TRINITY CHURCH ASS'N          "                           209 Fulton St.

  WILSON INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL KINDERGARTEN                  125 St Mark's Pl.


INDUSTRIAL SCHOOLS.

  ABIGAIL SCHOOL AND KINDERGARTEN                           242 Spring St.

  AMERICAN FEMALE GUARDIAN SOCIETY                Office, 32 East 30th St.

  HOME SCHOOL                                             29 East 29th St.

  INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL NO. 1                       552 First Av. cor. 32d St.

       "        "    "  2 (Rose Memorial)                418 West 41st St.

       "        "    "  3                                124 West 26th St.

       "        "    "  4                                   34 Willett St.

       "        "    "  5                                220 West 36th St.

       "        "    "  6                                    125 Allen St.

       "        "    "  7                                234 East 80th St.

       "        "    "  8                                 463 West 32d St.

       "        "    "  9                     East 60th St. and Boulevard.

       "        "    " 10                                    125 Lewis St.

       "        "    " 11                           52d St. and Second Av.

       "        "    " 12                                  2247 Second Av.

  CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY.                        Office, 24 St. Mark's Pl.
      _Industrial Schools_--
          ASTOR MEMORIAL                                      256 Mott St.
          AV. B                                          607 East 14th St.
          COTTAGE PLACE                                   208 Bleecker St.
          BRACE MEMORIAL                                       9 Duane St.
          EAST RIVER                                     247 East 44th St.
          EAST SIDE                                     287 East Broadway.
          ELEVENTH WARD                                     295 Eighth St.
          FOURTH WARD                                        73 Monroe St.
          FIFTH WARD                                          36 Beach St.
          FIFTY-SECOND STREET                             573 West 52d St.
          GERMAN                                            272 Second St.
          HENRIETTA                                      215 East 21st St.
          ITALIAN                                          156 Leonard St.
          JONES MEMORIAL                                  407 East 73d St.
          LORD                                           135 Greenwich St.
          PARK                                     68th St. near Broadway.
          PHELPS                                         314 East 35th St.
          RHINELANDER                                    350 East 88th St.
          SIXTEENTH WARD                                 211 West 18th St.
          SIXTH STREET                                       632 Sixth St.
          WEST SIDE                                       201 West 32d St.
          WEST SIDE ITALIAN                                24 Sullivan St.
      _Night Schools_--
          GERMAN                                            272 Second St.
          ITALIAN                                          156 Leonard St.
          BRACE MEMORIAL (Newsboys)                            9 Duane St.
          ELEVENTH WARD                                        295 8th St.
          EAST SIDE                                     287 East Broadway.
          LORD                                           135 Greenwich St.
          JONES MEMORIAL                                  407 East 73d St.
          FIFTY-SECOND STREET                             573 West 52d St.
          WEST SIDE                                        400 Seventh Av.

  CHURCH SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIANITY AMONG JEWS
  (Industrial School for Girls)                            68 East 7th St.

  EIGHTH WARD MISSION SCHOOL                                1 Charlton St.

  FIVE POINTS HOUSE OF INDUSTRY                              155 Worth St.

   "     "    MISSION                                          63 Park St.

  FREE GERMAN SCHOOL                                      140 East 4th St.

  HEBREW FREE SCHOOL ASSOCIATION           East Broadway and Jefferson St.

  ITALIAN MISSION (P. E. School for Girls)                809 Mulberry St.

  INDUSTRIAL CHRISTIAN ALLIANCE                          113 Macdougal St.

  LOUIS DOWN-TOWN SABBATH AND DAILY SCHOOL (Hebrew)          267 Henry St.

  MISSION OF THE IMMACULATE VIRGIN       Lafayette Pl. and Great Jones St.

  MISSION SCHOOL OF ALL SOULS' CHURCH                    213 East 21st St.

  NEW YORK BIBLE AND TRACT MISSION (School for Girls)    422 East 26th St.

  NEW YORK HOUSE AND SCHOOL OF INDUSTRY                  120 West 16th St.

  SISTERHOOD OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD (P. E.)                419 West 19th St.

  ST. BARNABAS HOUSE                                      304 Mulberry St.

  ST. VINCENT DE PAUL INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL                   346 West 43d St.

  ST. ELIZABETH INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL                        235 East 14th St.

  SPANISH INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL                             1345 Lexington Av.

  TRINITY INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL                                 90 Trinity Pl.

  ST. GEORGE'S INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL                            Teutonia Hall.

  TRINITY CHAPEL INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL                        15 West 25th St.

  ST. AUGUSTINE'S CHAPEL INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL            105 East Houston St.

  ST. MARY'S                                 Lawrence St., Manhattanville.

  WEST SIDE INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL                            266 West 40th St.

  WILSON INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL                              125 St. Mark's Pl.

  UNITED HEBREW CHARITIES (Industrial School for Girls)     128 Second Av.

  ZION AND ST. TIMOTHY INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL                 332 West 57th St.


FRESH AIR WORK.

  THE TRIBUNE FRESH-AIR FUND                             Tribune Building.

  BARTHOLDI CRÉCHE                                       21 University Pl.

  CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY--Health Home                   West Coney Island.

     "        "     "     Summer Home                          Bath Beach.

  THE KING'S DAUGHTERS TENEMENT-HOUSE COMMITTEE             77 Madison St.

  NEW YORK INFIRMARY FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN               5 Livingston Pl.

  NEW YORK CITY MISSION AND TRACT SOCIETY                 106 Bible House.

  ST. JOHN'S GUILD                                           501 Fifth Av.

   "   "      "   Floating Hospital         (every week-day but Saturday).

   "   "      "   Seaside Hospital             Cedar Grove, Staten Island.

  SANITARIUM FOR HEBREW CHILDREN                         124 East 14th St.

  SOCIETY FOR ETHICAL CULTURE                            109 West 54th St.

  NEW YORK ASSOCIATION FOR IMPROVING THE CONDITION OF THE
  POOR (Ocean Parties)                                       79 Fourth Av.

  ST. BARNABAS FRESH-AIR FUND                              38 Bleecker St.

  THE LITTLE MOTHERS' AID SOCIETY                        305 East 17th St.

  NEW YORK BIBLE AND TRACT MISSION                       416 East 26th St.

  NEW YORK SOCIETY FOR PARKS AND PLAY-GROUNDS FOR CHILDREN
                                                          36 Union Square.

  AMERICAN FEMALE GUARDIAN SOCIETY         Summer Home at Oceanport, N. J.

  SUMMER SHELTER                                         Morristown, N. J.
                (Apply to Charity Organization Society, 21 University Pl.)


BOYS' CLUBS AND READING-ROOMS.

  ASCENSION MEMORIAL CHAPEL (P. E.)                       330 West 43d St.

  AVENUE C CLUB                                           65 East 14th St.

  BETHANY CHURCH                        Tenth Av., bet. 35th and 36th Sts.

  CALVARY PARISH                                          344 East 23d St.

  CHAPEL OF THE COMFORTER                                814 Greenwich St.

  CHRIST CHAPEL                           West 65th St. near Amsterdam Av.

  CHURCH OF THE ARCHANGEL (P. E.)           117th St. and St. Nicholas Av.

  CHURCH OF THE REDEEMER                             Park Av. and 81st St.

  COLLEGE SETTLEMENT                                      95 Rivington St.

  COVENANT CHAPEL                                         310 East 42d St.

  DEWITT CHAPEL                                          160 West 29th St.

  EAST SIDE HOUSE                         Foot of 76th St. and East River.

  FREE READING-ROOMS  8 West 14th St., 330 Fourth Av., and 590 Seventh Av.

  GRACE MISSION                                          640 East 13th St.

  HOLY COMMUNION (P. E.) CHURCH                           49 West 20th St.

  HOLY CROSS LYCEUM                   43d St., bet. Eighth and Ninth Aves.

  HOLY CROSS MISSION                                   300 East Fourth St.

  LAFAYETTE CLUB (Middle Collegiate Church)               14 Lafayette Pl.

  MISSION CHAPEL OF MADISON AV. CHURCH                   440 East 57th St.

  MADISON SQUARE CHURCH HOUSE                     Third Av., cor. 30th St.

  MANOR CHAPEL                                           348 West 26th St.

  MEMORIAL BAPTIST CHURCH                        Washington Square, South.

  MONDAY NIGHT CLUB (Church of Holy Communion)            49 West 20th St.

  NEIGHBORHOOD GUILD                                       147 Forsyth St.

  NEW JERUSALEM CHURCH                                   114 East 35th St.

  NORTH SIDE BOYS' CLUB                                   79 Macdougal St.

  ST. BARTHOLOMEW'S PARISH HOUSE                          207 East 42d St.

  ST. GEORGE'S (P. E.) CHURCH (Memorial House)           207 East 16th St.

  ST. LUKE'S M. E. CHURCH (Knights of St Luke)           108 West 41st St.

  ST. MARY'S                                 Lawrence St., Manhattanville.

  WEST SIDE                                 Vermilye Chapel, 794 Tenth Av.

  WILSON MISSION BUILDING ("Av. A Club")                125 St. Mark's Pl.


CHILDREN'S LODGING-HOUSES.

  BRACE MEMORIAL                                               9 Duane St.

  GIRLS' TEMPORARY HOME                              307-309 East 12th St.

  TOMPKINS SQUARE                                              295 8th St.

  EAST SIDE                                             287 East Broadway.

  FORTY-FOURTH STREET                                    247 East 44th St.

  WEST SIDE                                                400 Seventh Av.

  MISSION OF THE IMMACULATE VIRGIN       Lafayette Pl. and Great Jones St.


CHILDREN'S HOMES--TEMPORARY AND PERMANENT.

  ASYLUM OF ST. VINCENT DE PAUL                          215 West 39th St.

  ASYLUM OF SISTERS OF ST. DOMINIC (House of Reception)     137 Second St.

  BERACHAH ORPHANAGE (Gospel Tabernacle)                    692 Eighth Av.

  BETHLEHEM ORPHAN AND HALF-ORPHAN ASYLUM             College Point. L. I.
      (Controlled by thirteen Lutheran churches of New York and vicinity.)

  CHILDREN'S FOLD                                   92d St. and Eighth Av.

  COLORED ORPHAN ASYLUM                       West 143d St. and Boulevard.

  FREE HOME FOR DESTITUTE YOUNG GIRLS                     23 East 11th St.

  DOMINICAN CONVENT OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY             329 East 63d St.

  FIVE POINTS HOUSE OF INDUSTRY                              155 Worth St.

  GERMAN ODD FELLOWS' ORPHANAGE               Apply at Home, 82 Second Av.

  HEBREW BENEVOLENT AND ORPHAN ASYLUM          Amsterdam Av. and 136th St.

  HEBREW SHELTERING GUARDIAN ORPHAN ASYLUM      Eleventh Av. and 151st St.

  HOLY ANGELS' ORPHAN ASYLUM (for Italian Children from New York)
                                                  West Park-on-the-Hudson.

  HOUSE OF MERCY                                  81st St. and Madison Av.

  LADIES' DEBORAH NURSERY AND CHILD'S PROTECTORY, Male Department,
    95 East Broadway and 83 Henry St.; Female Department, East 162d St.,
    near Eagle Av.

  LEAKE AND WATTS ORPHAN HOUSE                Ludlow Station, Hudson R. R.

  MESSIAH HOME FOR LITTLE CHILDREN                        4 Rutherford Pl.

  MISSION OF THE IMMACULATE VIRGIN FOR HOMELESS AND DESTITUTE CHILDREN
                                         Lafayette Pl. and Great Jones St.

  ST. JOSEPH'S HOME FOR DESTITUTE CHILDREN
                                 House of Reception, 143 West 31st Street.

  NEW YORK FOUNDLING HOSPITAL (Asylum of Sisters of Charity)
                                                         175 East 68th St.

  NEW YORK INFANT ASYLUM                        Amsterdam Av. and 61st St.

  ORPHANAGE OF THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY TRINITY            400 East 50th St.

  ORPHAN ASYLUM SOCIETY                   Riverside Drive and West 73d St.

  ORPHANS' HOME AND ASYLUM OF PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH
                                               49th St. near Lexington Av.

  ROMAN CATHOLIC ORPHAN ASYLUM                    Madison Av. and 51st St.

  ST. AGATHA'S HOME FOR CHILDREN                         209 West 15th St.

  ST. ANN'S HOME FOR DESTITUTE CHILDREN               Av. A, cor. 90th St.

  ST. BENEDICT'S HOME FOR COLORED CHILDREN
                                     House of Reception, 120 Macdougal St.

  ST. CHRISTOPHER'S HOME                     Riverside Drive and 112th St.

  ST. JAMES' HOME                               21 Oliver and 26 James St.

  ST. JOSEPH'S ORPHAN ASYLUM                           89th St. and Av. A.

  SHEPHERD'S FOLD (P. E. Church)                    92d St. and Eighth Av.

  PROTESTANT HALF-ORPHAN ASYLUM               Manhattan Av. near 104th St.

  HOME FOR SEAMEN'S CHILDREN (New York and vicinity)
                                                  West New Brighton, S. I.

  SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO CHILDREN       100 East 23d St.


REFORMATORY INSTITUTIONS.

  BURNHAM INDUSTRIAL FARM                        Office, 135 East 15th St.

  HEBREW SHELTERING GUARDIAN SOCIETY            Eleventh Av. and 151st St.

  NEW YORK CATHOLIC PROTECTORY                      Office, 415 Broome St.

  NEW YORK JUVENILE ASYLUM                     176th St. and Amsterdam Av.

  ST. JAMES' HOME                                            21 Oliver St.

  HOUSE OF REFUGE                                        Randall's Island.

  HOUSE OF THE HOLY FAMILY                                  132 Second Av.


CHILDREN'S HOSPITALS AND DISPENSARIES.

  ALL SAINTS' CONVALESCENT HOME FOR MEN AND BOYS (Holy Cross Mission)
                                                      Avenue C and 4th St.

  BABIES' HOSPITAL OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK               657 Lexington Av.

  BABIES' WARD, POST-GRADUATE HOSPITAL                   226 East 20th St.

  CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL                                    Randall's Island.

  NEW YORK INFIRMARY FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN               5 Livingston Pl.

  FIVE POINTS HOUSE OF INDUSTRY INFIRMARY                    147 Worth St.

  GOOD SAMARITAN DIAKONISSEN (Hahnemann Hospital)    Park Av. and 67th St.

  INFANTS' HOSPITAL                                      Randall's Island.

  LAURA FRANKLIN FREE HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN              17 East 111th St.

  NEW YORK FOUNDLING HOSPITAL                            175 East 68th St.

  NURSERY AND CHILD'S HOSPITAL                  Lexington Av. and 51st St.

  ST. MARY'S FREE HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN                  405 West 34th St.

  HARLEM DISPENSARY FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN                 2331 Second Av.

  SICK CHILDREN'S MISSION OF CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY     287 East Broadway.

  YORKVILLE DISPENSARY AND HOSPITAL FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN
                                                        1307 Lexington Av.

  NEW YORK ORTHOPÆDIC HOSPITAL                           126 East 59th St.

  NEW YORK OPHTHALMIC HOSPITAL                            201 East 23d St.


ASYLUMS FOR DEFECTIVE CHILDREN.

  CRIPPLED BOYS' HOME (Forty-fourth Street Lodging House)
                                                         247 East 44th St.

  INSTITUTION FOR THE IMPROVED INSTRUCTION OF DEAF MUTES
                                                Lexington Av. and 67th St.

  IDIOT ASYLUM                                           Randall's Island.

  NEW YORK INSTITUTION FOR THE BLIND                Ninth Av. and 34th St.

  NEW YORK INSTITUTION FOR THE INSTRUCTION OF THE DEAF AND DUMB
                                                 Eleventh Av. and 163d St.

  NEW YORK SOCIETY FOR THE RELIEF OF THE RUPTURED AND CRIPPLED
                                                 Lexington Av. and 42d St.

  ST. JOSEPH'S INSTITUTION FOR THE IMPROVED INSTRUCTION OF DEAF MUTES
                                                        772 East 188th St.

  SHELTERING ARMS                              Amsterdam Av. and 129th St.

  SOCIETY OF ST. JOHNLAND        Apply at Calvary Chapel, 220 East 23d St.

  SYRACUSE STATE SCHOOL FOR FEEBLE-MINDED
                               (Apply to Superintendent of Out-door Poor.)

  CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY                 Haxtun Cottage, Bath Beach, L. I.

  HOUSE OF ST. GILES THE CRIPPLE                 422 Degraw St., Brooklyn.



Footnotes:

[1] It is, nevertheless, true that while immigration peoples our slums, it
also keeps them from stagnation. The working of the strong instinct to
better themselves, that brought the crowds here, forces layer after layer
of this population up to make room for the new crowds coming in at the
bottom, and thus a circulation is kept up that does more than any sanitary
law to render the slums harmless. Even the useless sediment is kept from
rotting by being constantly stirred.

[2] Report of committing magistrates. See Annual Report of Children's Aid
Society, 1891.

[3] The census referred to in this chapter was taken for a special
purpose, by a committee of prominent Hebrews, in August, 1890, and was
very searching.

[4] Dr. Roger S. Tracy's report of the vital statistics for 1891 shows
that, while the general death-rate of the city was 25.96 per 1,000 of the
population--that of adults (over five years) 17.13, and the baby
death-rate (under five years) 93.21--in the Italian settlement in the west
half of the Fourteenth Ward the record stood as follows: general
death-rate, 33.52; adult death-rate, 16.29; and baby death-rate, 150.52.
In the Italian section of the Fourth Ward it stood: general death-rate,
34.88; adult death-rate, 21.29; baby death-rate 119.02. In the sweaters
district in the lower part of the Tenth Ward the general death rate was
16.23; the adult death rate, 7.59; and the baby death rate 61.15. Dr.
Tracy adds: "The death-rate from phthisis was highest in houses entirely
occupied by cigarmakers (Bohemians), and lowest in those entirely occupied
by tailors. On the other hand, the death-rates from diphtheria and croup
and measles were highest in houses entirely occupied by tailors."

[5] Meaning "teachers."

[6] Even as I am writing a transformation is being worked in some of the
filthiest streets on the East Side by a combination of new asphalt
pavements with a greatly improved street cleaning service that promises
great things. Some of the worst streets have within a few weeks become as
clean as I have not seen them in twenty years, and as they probably never
were since they were made. The unwonted brightness of the surroundings is
already visibly reflected in the persons and dress of the tenants, notably
the children. They take to it gladly, giving the lie to the old assertion
that they are pigs and would rather live like pigs.

[7] As a matter of fact, I heard, after the last one that caused so much
discussion, in a court that sent seventy-five children to the show, a
universal growl of discontent. The effect on the children, even to those
who received presents, was bad. They felt that they had been on
exhibition, and their greed was aroused. It was as I expected it would be.

[8] The Sanitary census of 1891 gave 37,358 tenements, containing 276,565
families, including 160,708 children under five years of age; total
population of tenements, 1,225,411.

[9] The general impression survives with me that the children's teeth were
bad, and those of the native born the worst. Ignorance and neglect were
clearly to blame for most of it, poor and bad food for the rest, I
suppose. I give it as a layman's opinion, and leave it to the dentist to
account for the bad teeth of the many who are not poor. That is his
business.

[10] The fourteenth year is included. The census phrase means "up to 15."

[11] The average attendance was only 136,413, so that there were 60,000
who were taught only a small part of the time.

[12] See Minutes of Stated Session of the Board of Education, February 8,
1892.

[13] Meaning evidently in this case "up to fourteen."

[14] Report of New York Catholic Protectory, 1892.

[15] If this were not the sober statement of public officials of high
repute it would seem fairly incredible.

[16] Between 1880 and 1890 the increase in assessed value of the real and
personal property in this city was 48.36 per cent., while the population
increased 41.06 per cent.

[17] Philosophy of Crime and Punishment, by Dr. William T. Harris, Federal
Commissioner of Education.

[18] Seventeenth Annual Report of Society, 1892.

[19] English Social Movements, by Robert Archey Woods, page 196.

[20] The Superintendent of the House of Refuge for thirty years wrote
recently: "It is essential to have the plays of the children more
carefully watched than their work."

[21] Report for 1891 of Children's Aid Society.

[22] In this reckoning is included employment found for many big boys and
girls, who were taken as help, and were thus given the chance which the
city denied them.

[23] It is inevitable, of course, that such a programme should steer clear
of the sectarian snags that lie plentifully scattered about. I have a
Roman Catholic paper before me in which the Society's "villainous work,
which consists chiefly in robbing the Catholic child of his faith," is
hotly denounced in an address to the Archbishop of New York. Mr. Brace's
policy was to meet such attacks with silence, and persevere in his work.
The Society still follows his plan. Catholic or Protestant--the question
is never raised. "No Catholic child," said one of its managers once to me,
"is ever brought to us. A _poor_ child is brought and we care for it."

[24] The Society pleads for a farm of its own, close to the city, where it
can organize a "farm school" for the older boys. There they could be taken
on probation and their fitness for the West be ascertained. They would be
more useful to the farmers and some trouble would be avoided. Two farms,
or three, to get as near to the family plan as possible, would be better.
The Children's Aid Society of Boston has three farm schools, and its work
is very successful.

[25] I once questioned a class of 71 boys between eight and twelve years
old in a reform school, with this result: 22 said they blacked boots; 36
sold papers; 26 did both; 40 "slept out;" but only 3 of them all were
fatherless, 11 motherless, showing that they slept out by choice. The
father probably had something to do with it most of the time.
Three-fourths of the lads stood up when I asked them if they had been to
Central Park. The teacher asked one of those who did not rise, a little
shaver, if he had never been in the Park. "No, mem!" he replied, "me
father he went that time."

[26] The lodging-houses are following a noteworthy precedent. From the
Society for the Prevention of Pauperism, organized in the beginning of
this century, sprang the first savings bank in the country.

[27] That is the average number constantly in asylums. With those that
come and go, it foots up quite 25,000 children a year that are a public
charge.

[28] Report upon the Care of Dependent Children in New York City and
elsewhere, to the State Board of Charities, by Commissioner Josephine Shaw
Lowell. December, 1889.

[29] Mrs. Josephine Shaw Lowell on Dependent Children. Report of 1889.

[30] Anna T. Wilson: Some Arguments for the Boarding-out of Dependent
Children in the State of New York. This opposition the Superintendent
explains in his report for 1891, to be due in part to the lying stories
about abuse in the West, told by bad boys who return to the city. He adds,
however, that "oftentimes the most strenuous opposition ... is made by
step-mothers, uncles, aunts, and cousins," and is "due in the majority of
cases not to any special interest in the child's welfare, but to
self-interest, the relative wishing to obtain a situation for the boy in
order to get his weekly wages."

[31] It will do so hereafter. This autumn the discovery was made that the
city was asked to pay for more children than there ought to be in the
institutions according to the record of commitments. The comptroller sent
two of his clerks to count all the children. The result was to show
slipshod book-keeping, if nothing worse, in certain cases. Hereafter the
ceremony of counting the children will be gone through every six months.
Nothing could more clearly show the irresponsible character of the whole
business and the need of a change, lest we drift into corporate pauperism
in addition to encouraging the vice in the individual.

[32] In 1854, with a population of 605,000, there were 6,657 licensed and
unlicensed saloons in the city, or 1 to every 90.8 of its inhabitants. At
the beginning of 1892, with a population of 1,706,500, there were 7,218
saloons, or 1 to every 236.42. Counting all places where liquor was sold
by license, including hotels, groceries, steamboats, etc., the number was
9,050, or 1 to every 188.56 inhabitants.



How the Other Half Lives.

STUDIES AMONG THE TENEMENTS OF NEW YORK.

By JACOB A. RIIS.

_With 40 Illustrations from Photographs taken by the Author._

12mo, net $1.25.


This volume is the result of fifteen years' familiarity as police reporter
with the seamy side of New York life. It is, however, by no means a mere
record of personal observations, but a careful, comprehensive, and
systematic presentation of a thesis with illustrations. It is philosophic
as well as expository, and from beginning to end is an indictment of the
tenement system as it exists at present in New York.

No page is uninstructive, but it would be misleading to suppose the book
even tinctured with didacticism. It is from beginning to end as
picturesque in treatment as it is in material. The author's acquaintance
with the latter is extremely intimate. The reader feels that he is being
guided through the dirt and crime, the tatters and rags, the byways and
alleys of nether New York by an experienced cicerone. Mr. Riis, in a word,
though a philanthropist and philosopher, is an artist as well. He has also
the advantage of being an amateur photographer, and his book is abundantly
illustrated from negatives of the odd, the out-of-the-way, and
characteristic sights and scenes he has himself caught with his camera. No
work yet published--certainly not the official reports of the charity
societies--shows so vividly the complexion and countenance of the
"Down-town Back Alleys," "The Bend," "Chinatown," "Jewtown," "The Cheap
Lodging-houses," the haunts of the negro, the Italian, the Bohemian poor,
or gives such a veracious picture of the toughs, the tramps, the waifs,
drunkards, paupers, gamins, and the generally gruesome populace of this
centre of civilization.



  THE CHEAP LODGING-HOUSES.                                  87

  perch in the world. Uneasy sleepers roll off at intervals,
  but they have not far to fall to the next tier of bunks,
  and the commotion that ensues is speedily quieted by the
  boss and his club. On cold winter nights, when every

  [Illustration: BUNKS IN A SEVEN-CENT LODGING-HOUSE, PELL STREET.]

  bunk had its tenant, I have stood in such a lodging-room
  more than once, and listening to the snoring of the
  sleepers like the regular strokes of an engine, and the
  slow creaking of the beams under their restless weight,
  imagined myself on shipboard and experienced the very

                     [SPECIMEN PAGE.]



COMMENDATIONS.

  THE NEW YORK SOCIETY FOR THE
  PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO CHILDREN,
  100 East 23d Street.

NEW YORK, February 28th, 1891.

JACOB A RIIS, Esq.,

_Dear Sir_:--"It gives me very great pleasure to express my gratification
in reading your valuable work 'How the Other Half Lives.' I regard it as
one of the most valuable contributions to the history of child-saving work
in this great city, and as pointing out the numerous evils which exist at
the present time and which loudly call for legislative aid and
interference.

"The thorough familiarity which you have shown with the subject of your
work is equaled only by the accuracy of its detail and the graphic
pictures which illustrate the scenes described. It is a book which every
one may peruse with interest, and the larger the circulation which can be
given to it, the sooner I think will the charitable and well-disposed
people of this city realize the need, on the part of The Other Half, of
support, aid, and assistance, and which you have so graphically
described."

  I have the honor to remain, with great respect,
  ELDRIDGE T. GERRY,
  President, etc.


  THE CHRISTIAN UNION,
  80 Lafayette Place,
  New York.

"It is one of the encouraging signs of the times that Jacob Riis's book on
'How the Other Half Lives' has found so many readers that a new edition is
now called for. The priest and the Levite are no longer passing by on the
other side; that is itself a sign of moral weakness.

"I was first attracted to Mr. Riis's work by an illustrated lecture which
he gave in Plymouth Church which stirred our hearts very deeply, and which
showed how thorough an investigation and exploration he had made.

"His book presents by pictures for the eye, and by pen and ink pictures
quite as graphic, those phases of modern paganism which exist in our great
cities and are beginning to arouse the wonder, the indignation, and the
wrath of philanthropists and Christians.

"'How the Other Half Lives' is worthy to be a companion to 'In Darkest
England,' to which, indeed, as a picture of existing conditions it is
superior; nor is it without suggestions of remedy, which, if less
elaborate than Mr. Booth's, will strike the average reader as more
immediately practicable."

  LYMAN ABBOTT.


"It was a murderer who asked the question 'Am I my brother's keeper?' and
hoped for a negative answer. But the affirmative answer of God has been
ringing through all the milleniums since then. This eternal 'YES' meets
the church of to-day, and there are signs that the church is waking to
seek some method by which that 'YES' shall be adequately carried out. The
first thing is to know how my brother lives, and what are his
temptations, difficulties, trials, hopes, fears. On this no book that has
ever appeared in this land pours such light as Mr. Riis's book on 'The
Other Half.' Let all who want to know what to do for these brothers of
theirs in this town, read this book which is enormously more interesting
than any novel that ever was written or that ever will be. Dens, dives,
hovels, sickness, death, sorrow, drink, and murder, all these exist in our
midst in appalling magnitude, and with all of these we must have to do if
we are not to be modern Cains. No '_eau de cologne_' business is this, if
we are to uplift these brothers of ours, as will be apparent from a
reading of this remarkable book. Let all who are in any way interested in
the welfare of humanity buy and read it at once, and let all who are not
interested repent at once and get the book, and then bring forth fruits
meet for repentance."

  A. F. SCHAUFFLER.



PRESS NOTICES.

"Criticism, in the narrower sense, has no hold on 'How the Other Half
Lives.' The book is most beautiful without, as fascinating within. Every
word bears its message; every illustration--there are many--means
something. Mr. Riis has deserved nobly of the public for his thorough and
resourceful work. We cannot believe that his reward will fail. We should
be sorry to think that his earnest words would be less to any reader than
a commanding invitation to the thick of the battle against social
injustice."--_The Boston Times._

"From personal observation, conducted with the perseverance and tact
needed by the newspaper reporter, Mr. Riis has gathered, and here
presents, many interesting, pathetic, and monitory facts concerning the
extreme poverty, filth, or unhomelike existence of too many of the
tenement-dwellers of New York--omitting mention of those costlier
tenements which are called flats. He ventures upon some suggestions of
remedy, but the chief value of his chapters lies in their
exposition."--_Sunday School Times._

"The studies of Mr. Riis among the tenements of New York take the reader
into strange places and bring him into contact with startling conditions;
but among all the problems now pressing for solution there are none so
grave or so difficult as those upon the fundamental facts of which these
pages throw light. The author has made a thorough exploration of the great
city, and has produced a series of pictures which illustrate strikingly
the many phases of life concerned."--_The N. Y. Tribune._

"Mr. Riis's book is an important contribution to sociological literature,
and the truths it brings forward as well as the conclusions it deduces
must not be evaded, for on them rest all really hopeful projects for the
restriction of poverty and crime."--_The Boston Beacon._

"This is a book to be studied alike by the social scientist and by the
philanthropist. It presents, in compact form, the story of the nether
world of New York City, which, in general outline, varies but little from
the story of the nether world of any large city."--_Chicago Times._

"This book bears evidence on every page of faithful investigation and
intelligent sympathy with the subject, and should be read by everyone who
has it in any way in his power to help on the work, for as the author
says: 'The "dangerous classes" of New York long ago compelled recognition.
They are dangerous less because of their own crimes than because of the
criminal ignorance of those who are not of their kind.'"--_Milwaukee
Sentinel._



Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _underscore_.

Additional spacing after some of the quotes is intentional to indicate
both the end of a quotation and the beginning of a new paragraph as
presented in the original text.

The following misprints have been corrected:
  "unfamilar" corrected to "unfamiliar" (page 2)
  "opportunties" corrected to "opportunities" (page 36)
  "virture" corrected to "virtue" (page 43)
  "inpectors" corrected to "inspectors" (page 103)
  "Commisioners" corrected to "Commissioners" (page 172)
  "bookblack's" corrected to "bootblack's" (page 257)

Other than the corrections listed above, printer's inconsistencies in
spelling and hyphenation usage have been retained.

Unmatched quotation marks are presented as in the original text.





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