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where passengers get booked for Glasgow and Liverpool; the inhabitants of those once elegant drawing-rooms long ago booked for a longer voyage.
Passing on up, we heard only the clatter of the horses' hoofs until we came to the head of Wall street, and by the two rows of gaslights, saw that on all that street there was not a foot stirring. And yet there seemed to come up on the night air the cachinnation of those on whose hands the stocks had gone up, and the sighing of jobbers on whose hands the stocks had gone down. The street, only half a mile long, and yet the avenue of fabulous accumulation, and appalling bankruptcy, and wild swindle, and suicide, and catastrophe, and death! While the sough of the wind came up from Wall street toward old Trinity, it seemed to say: "Where is Ketcham? Where is Swartwout? Where is Gay? Where is Fisk? Where is Cornelius Vanderbilt? Where is the Black Friday?" Then the tower of Trinity tolled nine times—three for the bankrupted, three for the suicided, three for the dead! “Hurry up, George,” I said, “and get past this place;' for though I do not believe in ghosts, I wanted to get past that forsaken and all-suggestive night-scene of Wall street. Under the flickering gaslight one of active imagination might almost imagine he saw the ghosts of ten thousand fortunes dead and damned. Hastening on up a few blocks, we came where, on the right side, we saw large establishments ablaze from foundation to capstone. These were the great printing-houses of the New York dailies. We got out. We went in. We went up from editorial rooms to type-setters' and proof-readers' loft. These are the foundries where the great thunderbolts of public opinion are forged. How the pens scratched! How the types clicked! How the scissors cut! How the wheels rushed, all the world's news rolling over the cylinder like Niagara at Table Rock. Great torrents of opinion, of crimes, of accidents, of destroyed reputations, of avenged character. Who can estimate the mightiness for good or evil of a daily newspaper ? Fingers of steel picking off the end of telegraphic wire, facts of religion and philosophy and science, and information from the four winds of heaven! In 1850 the Associated Press began to pay $200,000 a year for news. Some of the individual sheets paying $50,000 extra for dispatches. Some of them, independent of the Associated Press, with a wire rake gathering up sheaves of news from all the great harvest fields of the world. It is high time that good men understood that the printing press is the mightiest engine of all the centuries. The high-water mark of the printer's type-case shows the ebb or flow of the great oceanic tides of civilization or Christianity. Just think of it! In 1835 all the daily newspapers of New York issued but 10,000 copies. Now there are 500,000, and taking the ordinary calculation that five people read a newspaper, two million, five hundred thousand people reading the daily newspapers of New York! I once could not understand how the Bible statement could be true when it says that "nations shall be born in a day." I can understand it now. Get the telegraph operators and the editors converted, and in twenty-four hours the whole earth will hear the salvation call. Nothing more impressed me in the night exploration than the power of the press. But it is carried on with oh! what aching eyes, and what exhaustion of health. I did not find more than one man out of ten who had anything like brawny health in the great newspaper establishments of New York. The malodor of the ink, however complete the ventilation; the necessity of toiling at hours when God has drawn the curtain of the night for natural sleep; the pressure of daily publication whatever breaks down; the temptation to intoxicating stimulants in order to keep the nervous energy up, a temptation which only the strongest can resist--all these make newspaper life something to be sympathized with. Do not begrudge the three or five cents you give for the newspaper. You buy not only intelligence with that, but you help pay for sleepless nights, and smarting eyeballs, and racked brain, and early sepulchre.
Coming out of these establishments, my mind full of the bewildering activities of the place, I stopped on the street and I said, “Now drive up Broadway, and turn down Chambers street to the left, and let us see what New York will be twenty years from now.” The probability is that those who are criminal will stay criminal; the vast majority of those who are libertines will remain libertines; the vast majority of those who are thieves will stay thieves; the vast majority of those who are drunkards will stay drunkards. “What,” say you, "no hope for the cities ?” Ah! my heart was never so full of high and exhilarant hope as now. We turned down Chambers street until we came to the sign “Newsboys' Lodging-house,” and we went in. Now, if there is anything I like it is boys. Not those brought up by registers, with the house heated by furnaces, and lads manipulated by some over-indulgent aunt, until their hair has bean curled until they have got to be girls; but I mean genuine boys, such as God makes, with extra romp and hilarity, so that after they have been pounded by the world they shall have some exuberance left. Boys, genuine boys, who cannot keep quiet five minutes. Boys who can skate, and swim, and rove, and fly kites, and strike balls, and defend sickly playmates when they are imposed on, and get hungry in half an hour after they
have dined, and who keep things stirred up and lively. Matthew Arnold's boys.
We entered the Newsboys' Lodging-house, and there we found them. I knew them right away, and they knew me, by a sort of instinct of friendliness. Their coats off ; for, although outside it was biting cold, inside the room Christian charity had flooded everything with glorious summer. Over the doorway were written the words: “No boys that have homes can stop here." “What,” I said, “can it be possible that all these bright and happy lads have been swept up from the street?” First, they are plunged into the bath, and then they pass under the manipulations of the barber, and then they are taken to the wardrobe, and in the name of Him who said, "I was naked and ye clothed me," they are arrayed in appropriate attire, each one paying, if he can, so there shall be no sense of pauperism; some of them paying one penny for all the privileges of a bountiful table, and the most extravagant paying only six cents. Gymnasium to straighten and invigorate the pinched bodies. Books for the mind. Religion for the soul.
I said, “Can these boys sing ?” and the answer came back in an anthem that shook the room :
Ring the bells of heaven,
For there's joy to-day. I said, “What is this long, broad box with so many numbers nailed by a great many openings ?” “Oh,” they said, “this is the savings bank; the boys put their money here, and each one has a bank-book, and he gets his money at the beginning of the month." Meanwhile, if under urgency for a new top, or attractive confectionery, or any one of those undefinable things which crowd a boy's pockets, he wants money, he cannot get it. He must wait until the first of the month, and so thrift and economy are cultivated. I know statistics are generally very dry, but here is a statistic which has in it as much spirit as anything that Thackeray ever wrote, and as much sublimity as anything John Milton ever wrote: One hundred and forty-three thousand boys have been assembled in these newsboys' lodging-houses since the establishment of the institution; twelve thousand have been returned to friends, and fifteen thousand have deposited in this great box over $42,000; while many of the lads have been prepared for usefulness, becoming farmers, mechanics, merchants, bankers, clergymen, lawyers, doctors, judges of courts even, and many of them prepared for heaven, where some have already entered, confronting, personally, that Christ in whose compassion the institution was established. And this society all the time transporting the lads to Western farms. No reformation for them while they stay in the dens of New York. What must be the sensation of a lad who has lived all his days in Elm street, or Water street, when he wakes up on the Iowa prairie, with one hundred miles room on all sides? One of these lads, getting out West, wrote a letter, descriptive of the place, and urging others to come.
“I am getting along first rate. I am on probation in the Methodist Church. I will be entered as a member the first of next month. I now teach a Sunday-school class of eleven boys. Iget along first rate with it. This is a splendid country to make a living in. If the boys running around the street with a blackingbox on their shoulder or a bundle of papers under their arms only knew what high old times we boys have out here, they wouldn't hesitate about coming West, but come the first chance they got."
And to show the brightness of some of these lads, one of them made a little speech to his comrades just as he was about to start West, saying to his friends whom he was about to leave;