Billeder på siden

tomers. Many of the more central grogshops had been previously supplied with money by the chief conspirators, and were directed to give the crowd unstinted measure whenever it made its demand. This was done, and it is due principally to liquor that the inhuman barbarities were practiced upon individuals, and many of the attempts at arson were made. Hundreds of industrious laborers driven from their work, and left to wander about the streets, were thus made fiends of the most malicious and daring kind. Scarcely an overt act of violence was perpetrated that was not directly traceable to intoxication. It would be lamentable, indeed, if the fearful lesson which this deeply laid conspiracy against the property and lives of our citizens has taught were allowed to pass unimproved. Transparent as is its political significance, its social bearings are not less clear. We learn the source from which must spring every lawless outbreak against order, law, and the peace of society. The elements of popular discord are gathered in those wretchedly constructed tenement houses, where poverty, disease, and crime find a fit abode. Here disease in its most loathsome form propagates itself from parent to child, more and more aggravated with each generation. Deformities of the body, typical of mental and moral aberrations, are seen in every household. Unholy passions rule in the domestic circle. Trained in such a school, children grow up desti

tute of every generous impulse, and habituated to scenes of cruelty and vice. Everything within and without tends to physical and moral degradation. The noisome atmosphere which they breathe, the scanty and innutritious food which they eat, combine to dwarf the body and mind and lead to the most vicious habits. Here, in the tenement houses of our city, we find the seeds of civil discord, of every species of vice and crime, always ready to germinate with the slightest stimulation. Relax the legal restraints which surround the tenants of whole blocks of buildings, and madden them with rum, and they rush forth prepared to commit the most fiendish acts. As long as New York disregards the homelife of this class of the poor, she nourishes in her bosom a viper which any day may inflict a fatal wound. The great and patent prevention for riots like that which we have witnessed is radical reform of the homes of the poor. No family circle can be practically virtuous which grovels in the cellar or the garret, deprived of the sunlight and fresh air; nor can a family be very vicious which enjoys airy and spacious rooms, and is surrounded by the health-giving influences of pure air, sunlight, cleanliness, and thrift. Says Dr. Southwood Smith, England's great sanitary reformer :

"A clean, fresh, well-ordered house exercises over its inmates a moral, no less than a physical influence, and has a direct tendency to make the members of the family sober,

peaceable, and considerate of the feelings and happiness of each other; nor is it difficult to trace a connection between habitual feelings of this sort and the formation of habits of respect for property, for the laws in general, and even for those higher duties and obligations the observance of which no law can enforce."

With equal truth, Mr. Rawlinson, in his address before the Social Science Association, said:

"Defective house accommodations produce disease, immorality, pauperism and crime, from generation to generation, until vice has become a second nature, and morality, virtue, truth and honesty, are, to human beings so debased, mere names."

Every family in this city should be accommodated with an ample and suitably arranged domicil. The old rookeries in crowded and filthy districts should be destroyed, and new and commodious houses built. Tenement houses can be made convenient for families, with sufficient air-space and sunlight, proper rooms for cooking, eating, and sleeping, and still be remunerative. But no landlord will consult the wants of his tenants until compelled to do so by the rigid enforcement of law. To accomplish this necessary and imperative reform, the proper authorities should cause the improvement, and, as far as possible, the reconstruction of tenement houses, the opening of streets through densely populated districts, and the laying out of parks. Said Lord Shaftesbury at the Society of Arts (April 21, 1871) in encouragement of this reform:

"Work on till every workman should have three

good rooms, well ventilated, and with light before and behind. These were the requirements which were necessary for a Christian and a civilized being. Any-. thing that would moderate these evils, however humble it might be; anything that would deal with the miserable, disgusting, alarming condition-alarming in a physical, moral, and spiritual sense, as well as in a political sense— of hundreds and thousands of people in this great and wealthy metropolis, should be welcomed and encouraged."

It is important, also, that the retail of ardent spirits should be placed under more stringent regulations. At present the largest license is given, or at least taken, and a rising mob finds at every corner the maddening draught awaiting its arrival. Dram-drinking, like prostitution, is one of those terrible social evils which every philanthropist wishes blotted out of existence but which is still subjected to only a very modified control. This control should be more absolute than at present. Alchohol, like opium, should be regarded as a medicinal agent, to be administered only under medical advice. Prohibitory laws against its sale as a common article of trade, are founded in justice, and have regard to the highest interests of the individual, of society, and of the State. If such stringent laws are not enacted, there is an absolute necessity that in times of popular excitement at least every grog-shop should be closed, and the sale of liquors made penal.




CHILD about four years of age recently died suddenly in a public school under the following circumstances, as narrated in the public prints: "It is the habit of the teachers of that school to detain after hours such of the pupils as may have been deficient in their lessons during the day. Upon the occasion in question the deceased, with twelve other scholars, was kept in. Deceased seemed to take the punishment very seriously, and asked her teacher to allow her to go. The teacher, noticing her agitation, kindly told her that she might go as soon as she was able to spell correctly the word "hedge." This appeared to appease her, and she went to her seat. Soon, however, it was observed that the child threw her head back, and was gasping for breath. The teacher took her in her arms and did all she could to relieve her, but after three or four spasms she expired." We have in this case a sad but instructive commentary upon the evils of the American educational system. A child but four years of age is found at school, and is not only required to perform a given mental task, but is also subjected to the

« ForrigeFortsæt »