Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 221
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 221
 
city and elsewhere,—and read in them that five of the original New England states were “England, Ireland, Scotland, Belfast, and Cork”; that the Fire Department ruled New York in the absence of the mayor,—I have sometimes wished it did, and that he would stay away awhile, while they turned the hose on at the City Hall to make a clean job of i,—and that Lincoln was murdered by Ballington Booth. But we shall agree, no doubt, that the indictment of those papers was not of the men who wrote them, but of the school that stuffed its pupils with useless trash, and did not teach them to think. Neither have I forgotten that it was one of these very men who, having failed and afterward got a job as a bridge policeman, on his first pay day went straight from his post, half frozen as he was, to the settlement worker who had befriended him and his sick father, and gave him five dollars for “some one who was poorer than they.” Poorer than they! What worker among the poor has not heard it? It is the charity of the tenement that covers a multitude of sins. There were thirteen in this policeman’s family, and his wages were the biggest item of income in the house.
  Jealousy, envy, and meanness wear no fine clothes and masquerade under no smooth speeches in the slums. Often enough it is the very nakedness of the virtues that makes us stumble in our

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