Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 220
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 220
 
  “But,” said the nurse, doubtfully, “is it a good thing for your boy to have that man in the house?”
  There was a passing glimpse of uneasiness in the cobbler’s glance, but it went as quickly as it had come. He laid his hand upon the nurse’s. “This,” he said, “ain’t no winter to let a fellow from Sing Sing be on the street.”
  I might keep on, and fill many pages with instances of such kind, which simply go to prove that our poor human nature is at least as robust on Avenue A as up on Fifth Avenue, if it has half a chance, and often enough with no chance at all; and I might set over against it the product of sordid and mean environment which one has never far to seek. Good and evil go together in the tenements as in the fine houses, and the evil sticks out sometimes merely because it lies nearer the surface. The point is that the good does outweigh the bad, and that the virtues that turn the balance are after all those that make for manhood and good citizenship anywhere; while the faults are oftenest the accidents of ignorance and lack of training, which it is the business of society to correct. I recall my discouragement when I looked over the examination papers of a batch of candidates for police appointment,—young men largely the product of our public schools in this

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