I stumbled across an excerpt from this in The American Cooperator, and when I couldn't find the material in any of George's other books, I went looking for the source, an 1887 book with chapters by 16 authors.
Enjoy! (It prints out as about 9 pages, if you're so inclined)
THE PROBLEM OF TODAY.
THE HISTORY, PURPOSE AND
POSSIBILITIES OF LABOR ORGANIZATIONS
IN EUROPE AND AMERICA; GUILDS, TRADES-
UNIONS, AND KNIGHTS OF LABOR; WAGES AND PROFITS;
HOURS OF LABOR; FUNCTIONS OF CAPITAL; CHINESE LABOR:
COMPETITION; ARBITRATION; PROFIT-SHARING AND
CO-OPERATION; PRINCIPLES OF THE KNIGHTS OF
LABOR; MORAL AND EDUCATIONAL AS-
PECTS OF THE LABOR QUESTION.
EDITED BY GEORGE E. McNEILL,
First Deputy of Mass. Bureau of Statistics of Labor; Sec.-Treas. of D. A. 30, Knights of Labor.
ASSOCIATE AUTHORS: TERENCE V. POWDERLY, G. M. W., K. of L.; DR. EDMUND J. JAMES, University of Pennsylvania; HON. JOHN J. O'NEILL, of Missouri; HON. J. M. FARQUHAR, of New York; HON. ROBERT HOWARD, of Massachusetts; HENRY GEORGE, of New York; ADOLPH STRASSER, Pres. Cigar Makers' Union; JOHN JARRETT, of Pennsylvania; REV. R. HEBER NEWTON, of New York; F K. FOSTER, of Massachusetts; P. M. ARTHUR, Chief Engineer Locomotive Brotherhood; W. W. STONE and W. W. MORROW, of California; FRANKLIN H. GIDDINGS, "Springfield Union"; JOHN McBRIDE, Secretary Coal Miners' Union; D.J.O'DONOGHUE, of Toronto, Canada; P. J. McGUIRE, Secretary Carpenters' Brotherhood, Ohio.
NEW YORK: THE M. W. HAZEN CO.
Copyright 1886, by
A M. BRIDGMAN & CO.
MAGNITUDE OF THE QUESTION — FIRST PRINCIPLES — THE LAND-OWNER THE ABSOLUTE MASTER OF MEN WHO MUST LIVE ON HIS LAND — THE ORDER OF NATURE INVERTED — EQUAL RIGHTS TO THE USE OF THE EARTH — SELFISHNESS, THE EVIL GENIUS OF MAN — THE IRISH PEOPLE FORCED TO BEG PERMISSION TO TILL THE SOIL — APPROPRIATION OF THE CHURCH-LANDS — LAND IN ITSELF HAS NO VALUE — THE GREAT CAUSE OF THE UNEQUAL DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH — NO HOPE FOR THE LABORER, SO LONG AS PRIVATE PROPERTY IN LAND EXISTS — NOTHING MYSTERIOUS ABOUT THE LABOR QUESTION — THE DIFFICULTY IN FINDING EMPLOYMENT — NATURE OFFERS FREELY TO LABOR — NATURAL MEANS OF EMPLOYMENT MONOPOLIZED — SPECULATION IN THE BOUNTIES OF NATURE.
BENEATH all the great social questions of our time lies one of primary and universal importance, the question of the rights of men to the use of the earth.
The magnitude of the pecuniary interests involved, the fact that the influential classes in all communities where private property in land exists are interested in its maintenance, lead to a disposition to ignore or belittle the land question: but it is impossible to give any satisfactory explanation of the most important social phenomena without reference to it; and the growing unrest of the masses of all civilized countries, under conditions which they feel to be galling and unjust, must at length lead them, as the only way of securing the rights of labor, to turn to the land question.
To see that the land question does involve the problem of the equitable distribution of wealth; that it lies at the root of all the vexed social questions of our time, and is, indeed, but another name for the great labor question in all its phases, it is only needful to revert to first principles, and to consider the relations between men and the planet they inhabit.
We find ourselves on the surface of a sphere, circling through immeasurable space. Beneath our feet, the diameter of the planet extends for eight thousand miles; above our heads night reveals countless points of light, which science tells us are suns, that blaze billions of miles away. In this inconceivably vast universe, we are confined to the surface of our sphere, as the mariner in mid-ocean is confined to the deck of his ship. We are limited to that line where the exterior of the planet meets the atmospheric envelope that surrounds it. We may look beyond, but cannot pass. We are not denizens of one element, like the fish; but while our bodies must be upheld by one element, they must be laved in another. We live on the earth, and in the air. In the search for minerals men are able to descend for a few thousand feet into the earth's crust, provided communication with the surface be kept open, and air thus supplied; and in balloons men have ascended to like distances above the surface; but on a globe of thirty-five feet diameter, this range would be represented by the thickness of a sheet of paper. And though it is thus possible for man to ascend for a few thousand feet above the surface, or to descend for a few thousand feet below it, it is only on the surface of the earth that he can habitually live and supply his wants; nor can he do this on all parts of the surface of the globe, but only on that smaller part, which we call land, as distinguished from the water, while considerable parts even of the land are uninhabitable by him.
By constructing vessels of materials obtained from land, and provisioning them with the produce of land, it is true that man is able to traverse the fluid-surface of the globe; yet he is none the less dependent upon land. If the land of the globe were again to be submerged, human life could not long be maintained on the best-appointed ships.
Man, in short, is a land-animal. Physically considered, he is as much a product of land as is the tree. His body, composed of materials drawn from land, can only be maintained by nutriment furnished by land; and all the processes by which he secures food, clothing and shelter consist but in the working up of land or the products of land. Labor is possible only on condition of access to land, and all human production is but the union of land and labor, the transportation or transformation of previously existing matter into places or forms suited to the satisfaction of man's needs.
Land, being thus indispensable to man, the most important of social adjustments is that which fixes the relations between men with regard to that element. Where all are accorded equal rights to the use of the earth, no one needs ask another to give him employment, and no one can stand in fear of being deprived of the opportunity to make, a living. In such a community, there could be no "labor question." There could be neither degrading poverty nor demoralizing wealth. And the personal independence arising from such a condition of equality, in respect to the ability to get a living, must give character to all social and political institutions.
On the other hand, inequality of privilege in the use of the earth must beget inequality of wealth and power, must divide men into those who can command and those who are forced to serve. The rewards which nature yields to labor no longer go to the laborers in proportion to industry and skill; but a privileged class are enabled to live without labor by compelling a disinherited class to give up some part of their earnings for permission to live and work. Thus the order of nature is inverted, those who do no work become rich, and "workingman" becomes synonymous, with "poor man." Material progress tends to monstrous wealth on one side, and abject poverty on the other; and society is differentiated into masters and servants, rulers and ruled.
If one man were permitted to claim the land of the world as his individual property, he would be the absolute master of all humanity. All the rest of mankind could live only by his permission, and under such conditions as he chose to prescribe. So, if one man be permitted to treat as his own the land of any country, he becomes the absolute sovereign of its people. Or, if the land of a country be made the property of a class, a ruling aristocracy is created, who soon begin to regard themselves, and to be regarded, as of nobler blood and superior rights. That "God will think twice before he damns people of quality," is the natural feeling of those who are taught to believe that the land on which all must live is legitimately their private property.
Here is the explanation of the main facts of human history. In the land question, we find the great key to the differences of political, social, industrial, and even religious development, the reason of the growth of monarchies and aristocracies, of the degradation of base and servile classes, the cause of wars and tumults and social conflicts. The equality of men is not a dream of latter-day visionaries. It is the order of nature. Men come into the world of like shape, with like members and like wants; and the differences of physical and mental power among them are but individual variations from a common standard, which, comparatively small in normal humanity, are largely, if not entirely, offset by compensations. And nature treats all men with strict impartiality. She will give to the noble no more readily than to the serf. Fire will burn, and water will drown, the king as surely as the peasant. The sun shines and the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. The first perceptions of man are always those of human equality.
"When Adam delved and Eve span,
Who was then the gentleman?"
The man of gentle or noble blood, the man entitled to reap without
sowing, to consume while others produce, to command while others obey,
never could exist where the equal rights of men to the use of the earth
were acknowledged. He is the product of a system that makes the land on
which a whole people must live, the property of a portion of their
number. For they who thus become earth-owners are enabled to levy a toll
for the use of nature's bounty, to prescribe terms on which alone other
men can live. They become the land-lords, or land-gods of these other
men, beings who deem themselves of superior mould, and who look down
upon their fellows as born to a life of toil for their pleasure.
"He that will not work, neither shall he eat." This is the decree of nature, that with every human mouth brings two human hands into the world, and ordains that human wants shall only be satisfied by labor. But that selfishness which is the evil genius of man, has always prompted the strong and cunning to endeavor to escape the necessity of laboring by compelling their fellows to do their work for them. Of the devices to this end, the two most important have been that of making property of men, and that of making property of land. Chattel-slavery, however, is but a rude and primitive method of systematically robbing labor, profitable only in countries of sparse population, or when it is desired to remove the laborers to another place. Where the population is dense enough, the easier and more convenient way of enslaving a whole people and of more conveniently appropriating their labor, is to appropriate their lands, since they can in this way be compelled to yield their labor or its produce in return for the mere privilege of living. Thus the Norman Conqueror did not distribute the people of England among his freebooters: he distributed English land. Thus, the adventurers who, at subsequent times, passed over into Ireland, did not seek to enslave the Irish people, but to secure Irish land. Once masters of Irish land, the Irish people were forced to beg permission to till it for them; and, instead of having to chase runaway slaves, they had, in the power of eviction, a means of coercion by which they could extract from the laborer all he could possibly give.
The natural perception of mankind is that of the equality of rights to the use of the earth; and it is probable that private property in land, like chattel-slavery, has nowhere originated save in war and conquest. But when this means of appropriating labor once obtains a footing, it becomes a potent means for the enslavement, by the cunning of men of their own blood. This process, of which the history of ancient Rome gives us a complete example, has been going on in England and Scotland for some centuries, in the appropriation of the church-lands, the changing into individual property of the land held on feudal rents by tenants of the State, the enclosure of commons, the conversion of the tribal holdings of Highland clans into individual property of the chiefs, and the substitution of large proprietors for small freeholders. It is going on today in the United States, in the fencing in of the public domain, and the steady relative decrease of the land-owning class. That a man can draw an income of so many thousands of dollars from the ownership of American soil, means that so many American citizens must yield up to him the produce of their labor, are virtually his slaves.
Land in itself has no value, and can yield no revenue, for land is only the passive factor in production. Labor is the active factor, by whose exertion upon land all wealth is produced. The owner of the richest land could get no revenue from his ownership; all that he could get from it would be what his own labor produced, until some one else was willing to pay him for the privilege of living on it, or working it. The moment this becomes the case, the moment others will consent to give the land-owner a portion of the produce of their labor for the privilege of using his land, his ownership will yield him a revenue independent of his own labor, a revenue derived from the labor of others. Thus land acquires a value, a value which increases just as the growth of population and improvement increases the amount of the labor-produce which permission to live on or work land will command.
Where population increases, or is expected to increase, the growth of the selling-value of land, however, may to some extent precede the growth of the power of obtaining revenue from its ownership, for the same reason that in the days of slavery, a negro child had a value before it could work, and, as the proverb ran, "A [negro's] worth a hundred dollars as soon as he hollers." So, around growing cities, and in countries where population is rapidly increasing, land is held and sold at prices higher than the owner could now obtain for its use. But as in the case of the value of a slave-child, this speculative value of land arises from expectation of the revenue which it will in future yield, the basis of all land-values, actual or prospective, being the amount of labor or labor-produce which its owner may obtain without labor on his part by permitting others to use his land. This, it is to be observed, is invariably true, as true in the case of the little piece of land owned by the man who uses it himself, and whose income is derived from his labor upon it, as in the case of the great proprietor, whose income is derived from the labor of those whom he permits to use his land. For, so long as the owner can only get an income from his land by using it himself, the land has no value. It is only when, if he were to stop using it himself, he could, by selling it or renting it, get the produce of other people's labor, that land has a value. The value of land, where land is made private property, always means, therefore, the ability of the non-producer to live upon the producer, the power, actual or prospective, of the land-owner to compel labor to pay him toll.
Increase of land-values, where land has been made private property, means simply that a larger and larger amount of the produce of labor goes to non-producers; that labor must pay more and more for being permitted the use of natural facilities indispensable to its exertion. For though the giving of labor, or the produce of labor, for the use of land has the semblance of an exchange, the transaction is in reality on the one side an appropriation, and on the other the payment, of a tribute. It is precisely such a transaction as that in which the fisherman is required to give up fish, which he has taken at the cost of labor and privation, in return for the privilege of using the ocean.
Here we have the great cause of that unequal distribution of wealth, which is apparent throughout the civilized world, and which increases with material progress. Low wages, pauperism, laborers who cannot find employment, goods which cannot be sold; a marvelous increase in the power of supplying human needs, yet great masses of human beings suffering from want; poverty seeming to spring from the very excess of production; monstrous fortunes accumulating in the hands of a few, while among the many the struggle for existence grows harder and more bitter, just as the discovery of better methods and the invention of better machinery make easier the production of the things necessary for the maintenance of existence, all these phenomena, with all their social, political and moral consequences, spring from one fundamental maladjustment universal throughout the civilized world, from a primary wrong, which destroys equality by dividing men into two classes: those who own the world as their private property, and those who, having no legal right to the use of the world, must buy the privilege of living and of working.
It is not in the relations of labor and capital; it is not in the greed of employers or the shiftlessness or intemperance of workingmen; it is not in interest, or currency, or profits, or in monopolies, such as those of railways and telegraphs, nor yet even in public debts, or the waste of standing armies, it is not in any nor in all of these things that an explanation can be found of the fact that the workingman is everywhere the poor man.
All these are effects, or at most secondary causes. Given a country where there were no railroads, no government, no machinery, no currency, no capital; where there were no employers and employed, but where each worker obtained subsistence from nature as directly as do the birds; yet if the land of such a country were treated as throughout the civilized world land is treated, and were made the private property of but a part of the people, should we not see essentially the came phenomena that today we see in the most highly civilized societies, non-producers enjoying the fruits of labor, and producers in poverty; men, possessed only of the power to labor, compelled, in return for permission to exercise it, to give up the larger part of all they produce, retaining for themselves only enough to support life? Why, if the very birds could so far pervert their instincts as to treat the earth as the private property of some birds, so that others did not dare to peck fruit, or catch worms, or build nests, without purchasing permission of some feathered earth-owner, should we not see among birds just what we see among men, a few fat and lazy birds, deeming it beneath them to catch a worm or carry a straw, sitting amid great piles of wasting food, painfully gathered and brought to them by miserable, winged wretches, half-starved amid abundance?
Or, on the other hand, imagine civilized society in its highest development, with all wrongs abolished, save the primary wrong involved in private property in land. Let there be no standing armies, no public debts, no wars nor preparations for war. Let the railroads be run under the most perfect system, and with sole regard to the interests of the public; let the wasteful "protective" tariffs, which beget monopolies and hamper the trade of the world, be swept away; let perfect purity obtain in politics, and governments be carried on with absolute honesty and at the minimum of expense. Imagine, if you please, all taxes abolished, and public expenses met by the contributions of public-spirited citizens. Imagine employers to share their gains equally with their workmen, and co-operation so general that it should do away with the middle-man's profits; let there be a perfect currency; and imagine, if that be imaginable, all interest abolished. Imagine everybody prudent and honest, the craving for liquor a forgotten taste, and the making of intoxicating beverages a lost art. Yet if private property in land be retained, if one set of men must still pay another set of men for the use of the planet, what would be the gain to the mere laborer? All these social improvements would, by diminishing waste, add to the wealth of society. But all the other classes that prey upon labor being eliminated, the result would be that the land-owners could get all the more of this wealth. Good government, cheap railroad-fares, free trade, a perfect currency, the abolition of the profits of middle-men, temperance and thrift, would not enable men to live without land or to work without a place to work on, and something to work up. And, this being the case, all these improvements could make no improvement in the condition of the masses. Laborers of more than ordinary skill or ability might, as now, get more than a bare living; but men of only ordinary abilities and skill, possessed only of the power to labor, and with nothing to use that power upon, must still, by the inevitable law of competition, be driven to give up all their labor could produce above a bare living, for the sake of getting permission to live at all.
This impossibility of relieving poverty and securing an equitable distribution of wealth, while the land on which all must live is made the private property of some, arises from the very constitution of man, from the fact that he is a land-animal, who must live on and from land, if he lives at all. This being the case, there is no possible reform, no possible improvement, no possible discovery or invention, which can permanently raise the lowest class of society above the verge of starvation, so long as private property in land exists. The failure of the great improvements and discoveries and inventions of the nineteenth century to eradicate want; the fact that poverty seems to deepen with material progress; that the most wonderful multiplications of the productive power of labor seem, instead of lightening the toil of the laboring class, to compel even women and children to work; and that, amid the greatest accumulations of wealth, human beings die of starvation, does not arise from the fact that these inventions and discoveries and improvements have not yet gone far enough, but from that fundamental law of his being, which makes it impossible for man to live, save on and from land, from that fundamental limitation of his power which makes it impossible for him to create something out of nothing, and restricts all his production to the utilization of the pre-existing matter and force of the universe.
And in this absolute dependence of labor upon land, we may see the explanation of the paradox that poverty seems to spring from the very excess of the production of wealth, and that the increase which improved processes and inventions give to the productive power of labor make the mere laborer more helpless. For it is manifest that, were invention and discovery to go so far as to dispense with labor in the production of wealth, all the wealth that they could desire could be obtained by land-owners without the employment of labor, and that mere laborers would become but cumberers of the land-lord's ground, and could only escape starvation as paupers, supported by his bounty. This is the direction in which labor-saving discovery and invention must tend, wherever land is private property. And thus it is, that want seems to arise from the very "over-production" of things that satisfy want, and that as the productive power of labor increases, the struggle for existence becomes more bitter, and the number of men for whom there seems to be no place and no need in this world becomes larger and larger.
That what is called the labor question is simply another name for the land question; that all the ills which labor suffers spring from the appropriation as private property of the element without which labor is useless, becomes evident upon any honest attempt to trace these ills to their source. The trouble with most of the clergymen, and professors, and dilettante philanthropists, who are now directing so much attention to the labor question, is, that they are not honest. They are making believe to look for what they really do not want to find; they are pretending to seek the remedy of a great wrong, with a predetermination to avoid any conclusion which would offend "vested interests," or disturb the "House of Have." They deliberately turn away from the only road which could lead to the explanation they profess to desire, and as a remedy for the most widespread and gigantic evils have nothing better to propose than some canting injunction that everybody should be good; some exhortation to employers to be kind, and to workingmen to be industrious, temperate, and, above all, contented; some two-penny scheme of co-operation or "profit-sharing." There is nothing mysterious about the labor question. The cause of the terrible competition in the labor-market which cuts down wages to the point of bare subsistence, when not restrained by the combinations of workmen, and of all the manifold evils to which this leads, is simply that all the men who want work cannot find work, and that there is at all times a great number, and in times of commercial depression a very great number, who are anxious to earn a living, but cannot get the opportunity.
Now, whence arises this difficulty of finding employment, this seeming excess of the supply of labor over the demand for labor? With every pair of hands that come into the world, does there not come one mouth? Is there not demand enough for labor in the wants of those whose power to labor is going to waste, because they can find no use for it? Too little demand for labor! when even of those at work so many are under-fed, under-clothed, and not half-sheltered; when the great majority of men in all civilized countries are harassed by wants they are unable to supply!
If there are more men seeking employment than can find employers, what is to hinder these men from employing themselves? Did the first man have to hunt around for some one to hire him before he could go to work? Who was there to hire Robinson Crusoe? Yet did he lack employment? Did the settlers of this country, or the men who ever since have been pushing out into the wilderness, have to get themselves employers before they could make homes and earn a living?
The only indispensable condition to the employment of labor is LAND. Capital in all its forms, wealth in all its forms, is but the produce of labor exerted upon land. Give labor the use of land, and all things that man can bring into being can be produced. If, therefore, labor is going to waste; if men willing to work to supply their needs cannot find opportunity to do so, and must engage in a cut-throat competition with each other for the wages of some employer, it is solely because they cannot avail themselves of the natural opportunities for making their labor available.
But this is due to no lack of natural opportunities. In the most densely-peopled country of the civilized world, there are natural resources which would suffice for many times the population. In our own vast country, we have hardly begun to scratch the surface of nature's store-house. Around every city there are vacant lots, on which labor might find employment in building houses for an over-crowded population. There are millions and millions of unused acres, on which men who are becoming tramps might make themselves homes. There is clay and timber and iron and coal, of which no use is made. Of our agricultural land, that which is cultivated is but an insignificant part of what remains to cultivate. If labor cannot find employment for itself, it is not because of the failure of nature to offer opportunities for its employment. It is simply because we have allowed these opportunities to be seized and held by men who cannot use them themselves, and will not allow others to use them, because we permit what nature offers freely to labor to be used as a means to extort blackmail from labor. Here is the one great cause of unemployed labor, of depressed trade, of the competition which everywhere tends to force wages down to the starvation point, and of widespread poverty, conjoined with the most enormous powers of producing wealth.
The natural means of employment monopolized, men who have nothing but the power to labor are driven into a cut-throat competition with their fellows to obtain from some other human creature the "leave to toil." Compelled to stint, unable with the produce of their own labor to purchase the produce of other's labor, goods that cannot be sold accumulate in warehouses while thousands suffer from want.
There is but one way of solving the labor question, of preventing monstrous injustice in the distribution of wealth, and substituting just and wholesome social conditions for those which it is now becoming clear must, if unchecked, lead us to anarchy; and that is by securing to all men their inalienable right to live and to work. This can only be done by abolishing the private ownership of land, and making the land of a country the common property of the whole people. The doing of this does not involve any denial of legitimate property-rights, any lessening of the incentive to build, improve or cultivate; any interference with that security of possession which is necessary to all the higher uses of land. It is only necessary to treat land as the common heritage of the whole people, and individual possessors as tenants of the community, paying a just rent for any peculiar privileges they enjoy. And the easy method of accomplishing this is to abolish all the taxes which now oppress labor and hamper production, and by means of a tax, not upon land, but upon the value of land, to collect for common uses that "unearned increment" which now goes to land-owners. Were this done, it would become unprofitable for any one to hold land that he was not putting to use, and the city-lots, the mines, the unused fields, that are now held on speculation would necessarily be thrown open to those who wished to use them.
Thus speculation in the bounties of nature would be destroyed, production would be relieved of all burdens, and that value which attaches to land by reason, not of the exertion or improvements of individuals, but by the growth and progress of society, would constitute a great fund from which all public expenses could be met.
How this simple yet far-reaching reform would secure the farmer his homestead, and give the tenement-dweller a spot he could call his own; how it would relieve the dreariness of country life and the congestion of over-crowded cities; how it would simplify government and purify politics; how it would equalize the distribution of wealth and enormously increase production, I have shown in detail in my books, but cannot dwell upon in the space allotted to me here. But whoever will heed the general principles I have here endeavored to point out, must see that in the divorce which our laws make between men and the natural element from which the means of life must be drawn, lies the cause of that monstrous injustice which piles up wealth in the hands of non-producers, and makes labor a suppliant for the very "leave to toil;" and that, at whatever cost, to conform our treatment of land to the dictates of justice is the only way in which our civilization can escape such wrecking disasters as have overwhelmed civilizations that preceded it.
There is in this world no necessity for poverty, and for the vice and crime that springs from it. That so much of human life is a bitter struggle for mere existence, is man's fault, not God's. The powers with which man has been gifted, the potentialities which exist in nature, are sufficient to give to the very humblest all the real advantages that the richest can now enjoy, to make possible a social state in which men should no more vex themselves about the satisfaction of material needs than do the lilies of the field. But the Creator has annexed to his gifts the inexorable condition that we shall deal justly with our fellows. A system which denies their birth-right to the children who come into the world involves a crime which must bring its punishment.
Note: I've replaced an offensive word in a quoted "proverb." That portion of the text might be put in context by this excerpt from Progress and Poverty (1879) -- (Part X, "The Law of Human Progress": Chapter II):
CHAPTER II. DIFFERENCES IN CIVILIZATION — TO WHAT DUE.
In attempting to discover the law of human progress, the first step must be to determine the essential nature of those differences which we describe as differences in civilization.
That the current philosophy, which attributes social progress to changes wrought in the nature of man, does not accord with historical facts, we have already seen. And we may also see, if we consider them, that the differences between communities in different stages of civilization cannot be ascribed to innate differences in the individuals who compose these communities. That there are natural differences is true, and that there is such a thing as hereditary transmission of peculiarities is undoubtedly true; but the great differences between men in different states of society cannot be explained in this way. The influence of heredity, which it is now the fashion to rate so highly, is as nothing compared with the influences which mold the man after he comes into the world. What is more ingrained in habit than language, which becomes not merely an automatic trick of the muscles, but the medium of thought? What persists longer, or will quicker show nationality? Yet we are not born with a predisposition to any language. Our mother tongue is our mother tongue only because we learned it in infancy. Although his ancestors have thought and spoken in one language for countless generations, a child who hears from the first nothing else, will learn with equal facility any other tongue. And so of other national or local or class peculiarities. They seem to be matters of education and habit, not of transmission. Cases of white children captured by Indians in infancy and brought up in the wigwam show this. They become thorough Indians. And so, I believe, with children brought up by Gypsies.
That this is not so true of the children of Indians or other distinctly marked races brought up by whites is, I think, due to the fact that they are never treated precisely as white children. A gentleman who had taught a colored school once told me that he thought the colored children, up to the age of ten or twelve, were really brighter and learned more readily than white children, but that after that age they seemed to get dull and careless. He thought this proof of innate race inferiority, and so did I at the time. But I afterward heard a highly intelligent negro gentleman (Bishop Hillery) incidentally make a remark which to my mind seems a sufficient explanation. He said: "Our children, when they are young, are fully as bright as white children, and learn as readily. But as soon as they get old enough to appreciate their status — to realize that they are looked upon as belonging to an inferior race, and can never hope to be anything more than cooks, waiters, or something of that sort, they lose their ambition and cease to keep up." And to this he might have added, that being the children of poor, uncultivated and unambitious parents, home influences told against them. For, I believe it is a matter of common observation that in the primary part of education the children of ignorant parents are quite as receptive as the children of intelligent parents, but by and by the latter, as a general rule, pull ahead and make the most intelligent men and women. The reason is plain. As to the first simple things which they learn only at school, they are on a par, but as their studies become more complex, the child who at home is accustomed to good English, hears intelligent conversation, has access to books, can get questions answered, etc., has an advantage which tells.
The same thing may be seen later in life. Take a man who has raised himself from the ranks of common labor, and just as he is brought into contact with men of culture and men of affairs, will he become more intelligent and polished. Take two brothers, the sons of poor parents, brought up in the same home and in the same way. One is put to a rude trade, and never gets beyond the necessity of making a living by hard daily labor; the other, commencing as an errand boy, gets a start in another direction, and becomes finally a successful lawyer, merchant, or politician. At forty or fifty the contrast between them will be striking, and the unreflecting will credit it to the greater natural ability which has enabled the one to push himself ahead. But just as striking a difference in manners and intelligence will be manifested between two sisters, one of whom, married to a man who has remained poor, has her life fretted with petty cares and devoid of opportunities, and the other of whom has married a man whose subsequent position brings her into cultured society and opens to her opportunities which refine taste and expand intelligence. And so deteriorations may be seen. That "evil communications corrupt good manners" is but an expression of the general law that human character is profoundly modified by its conditions and surroundings.