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these swamp residences is distinguished by a clinging vine, and you almost expect to see Pomona come forth in a love-lorn reverie, with a weekly paper in her hand, to wait for high tide until she can step from the balcony into her lover's "scow." Old Sis's store is the most important feature of this hamlet. It is phenomenally neat. The sign informs the public that cider and cakes may be had within, but the exhibits show fossilized sour-balls, mint-stick twisted in an ancient pattern, and chunks of the horse
shaped gingerbread of the last generation, seemingly petrified. Jetsam and flotsam collected from the great river lie around in every direction-odds and ends brought in by the boats, which, more than once, have also brought in a corpse floating out from the crowded city, in which there seemed to be no room for it.
Out of doors, boats are everywhere-and, like everything else in the Ma'sh, amphibious. The flat-bottomed skiff is predominant. A white sail flutters against the sky, and the
steamer to Wilmington passes, sending a crowd of mimic breakers up among the reeds. A canal-boat, lying against the bank, but still useful, covered with pitch, serves as a dwelling for several people. The proprietor, a pleasant-looking young Dutchman, who seems to have some connection with the work-sheds and dog-kennels on the bank, nods kindly. He is well satisfied with his house; it is weather-proof and he pays no rent. His wife and his grandmother live with him. To enter, it is necessary to stoop. The one room serves for all purposes. An old-fashioned" four-poster" bed, a stove, a quantity of cooking utensils in picturesque confusion, and a great chest, over which hangs a pair of horns, are the chief furniture of this interior. Nearer the river, around the row of boat-houses, lounge a few boatmen and fishers, getting ready rigging or oars, and patching boats for the coming campaign against the poetical bobolink, who, become a glutton, is fattening in the reeds.
In summer no gunner haunts the Neck; in the spring and winter a few wild fowl and snipe are sometimes bagged. But in the fall-on the first of September-sportsmen, boatmen, and "pushers," who propel the flat-bottomed skiffs through the reeds, swarm into the Neck. Anybody who can beg, borrow, or steal a fowlingpiece sallies forth, and many are the pepperings of shot that worthy citizens receive, from their unskillful brethren in search of the coveted reed-bird, whose rich, juicy flavor resembles that of the ortolan, so
famous in Europe.
Toward sunset the reed-birds congregate in large flocks, and then the slaughter is great, and the noise is like that heard on any unusually jubilant Fourth of July. Rail-birds are also objects of pursuit in the Ma'sh; but rail-shooting can be enjoyed only at high tide, as the boat must be pushed over the reeds. Rail do not fly until danger is very near, and the pusher beats for the game with his pole until it rises. The rail-bird, when wounded, clings to the reeds, with his bill above water, and tries to breathe until he gets a chance to escape. A few plover are shot at times, but they are wild and scarce, and even the Ma'sher seldom boasts of having bagged many of this species.
The Old Point House, with the solitary angler on its pier, catches a touch of roseate light from the setting sun. A sudden chill has come over the land,
"Where all the air is balm, and the peach is the emblem of beauty."
The white sails in the river, the shanties, the whole Ma'sh-even the puff of smoke from a gun in the reeds are glorified. The windows of the factory in the distance glow like fiery eyes. Whistle after whistle sounds from the distant "city of homes." It is six o'clock, and weary feet tramp homeward from their work in the Neck, and night, misty, chill, and silent, except for the melancholy chorus of the frogs, settles over the reed-fringed Ma'sh.
THE PEOPLE'S PROBLEM.-I.
IN the Preamble to the Constitution of the State of Massachusetts, framed in the year 1780, are these words:
"The end of the institution, maintenance, and administration of government is to secure the existence of the body politic, to protect it, and to furnish the individuals who compose it with the power of enjoy. ing in safety and tranquillity their natural rights, and the blessings of life: and whenever these great objects are not obtained, the people have a right to alter the government, and to take measures necessary for their safety, prosperity, and happiness."
The time has come for the people to exercise this "right to alter the government." We have, no doubt, accomplished under our present political system great results. We have become a very prosperous people. We have established it as a fact, that, so long as human nature remains substantially what it now is, free speech, a free press, a free vote for every man, and equal rights for all men before the law, are the only safe and sure foundations for a government.
But we have just seen a most singular spectacle. The people of the largest and richest city in the country have made a most earnest effort to be allowed to clean their own streets with their own money, and to secure their own lives against the dangers of pestilence, and the effort has failed. The reason why it has failed is that the people's own officials, the very men who should have done the work, have made a powerful combination to hinder the work from being done. It has been a battle, between the people on the one side and the men who should be their honest servants on the other side, and the servants have won the battle. Singularly, too, in this matter, which has been on the part of the citizens nothing but an effort to save life, we have seen our public officials, of the National, State, and City governments, all combined together to resist this effort of the people of one city.
We have substantially the same state of things in nearly every large center of wealth and population in the country,-public officials are banded together to draw money from the public treasury instead of doing well the public work. We have the same condition of things in our State legislatures. The people's work is not well done. The people's offices are not used for the people's purposes. And at the national capital, where
we ought to have a body of public servants watching over the nation's welfare, the people's representatives are wasting their time in a mere struggle for place. Great national questions need to be wisely handled by the men who control our national affairs. But the men who are highest in the nation's service have brought the business of the people of the United States to a stand-still, while they wrangle over the appointment of door-keepers and revenue officials.
The people are angry. They do well to be angry; but they are angry at the wrong thing. They are angry at certain men; they should be angry at the system, which has made the men what they are.
Our political machinery has a radical, fundamental fault. The material which we use in our public service is the same that we use in all private industrial enterprises, —men—human nature. In private life the material serves its uses most nobly. Yet in our public affairs we have become so accustomed to downright robbery at the hands of men holding public place, that the whole community gives a sigh of relief, when Congress or a State legislature adjourns, at the thought that their power for evil is for a time ended. Yet most of these men who fill our public offices are, in private life, honest men.
But to say that there is some fault in our political machinery avails nothing. We must go further than that, and find precisely and accurately what the fault is. To find out what the precise fault is, if we stop there, will avail little. We must find what is the remedy. And even to find the precise remedy is not enough. We must go further, and convince men that the remedy can be applied,—must show how it can be applied.
This, then, is the problem which the people of the United States have to solve-it
is to find:
(1) The precise fault in our political machinery.
(2) The precise remedy for the fault. (3) The precise manner of applying the remedy.
The present series of papers is the contribution of one individual among the people to the effort of the people to solve this problem. No one man can ever hope to solve it alone. But, each giving in his
(3) Public officers should represent the people's will.
(4) Public officers should be responsible to the people.
(5) Power should be kept in the hands of the people themselves-should not be centralized in the hands of the people's officials.
II. The main idea in the people's mind, which led them to form that purpose, was that public officials could not be trusted.
The political history of the English people, down to that time, and of the colonists, had been in the main a struggle of the people against the king for the liberties of the subject or citizen. To their mind, government was, in a measure, a contest, between the people and their rulers, for freedom. And, in their minds, the main point to be secured by a written constitution, was liberty. A constitution was, above all things, a bill of rights.
III. The main features of the system, as they have developed, were-in National, State, and local governments alike—
(1) Elections were to be held by direct vote of the people.
(2) Elective officers were to be very many. (3) Terms of office were to be fixed and short.
(4) No power was to be vested wholly in the hands of any one man or body of men. Especially the chief executive was not to have the power of appointing and removing his subordinates.
IV. As a result, the system has given us, not a people's government, but the tyranny of an election machine.
(1) It has turned the Government into an election machine.
The new conditions under which we now live have developed faults in our political machinery which were not foreseen. When this National Government was framed, no one knew what the direct vote of the people was to become. No one thought how many these elective offices were to be, what a mass of this election work would have to be done, or how large a number of public officials we were to have. We are now fifty millions of people; our public officials number probably three hundred thousand men. The work of holding these frequent elections has become something enormous. These new facts have developed new results. How and why the results have come, it will be necessary to examine.
Election districts have become very large. The Mayor of the city of New York is now chosen by the direct vote of about two hundred thousand electors, the Governor of the State of New York by a vote of about one million, and the President of the United States by a direct vote (for the electoral college is only a formal thing) of
about ten millions.
The only elections with which the framers of our constitutions were familiar were the elections by the town-meetings, where the voters of one small town, all of them neighbors known to one another, met in one place, and acted as one body. The choosing a chief executive by the votes of ten million electors was a thing not then known.
Elective offices have become very many. Elections in the time of our ancestors were confined to the choice of two or three town officials, with one or two representatives to the colonial legislatures. At a general election in the State of New York at the present day, each citizen may cast his vote for the following officials: a Governor, Judges of the Court of Appeals, Justices of the Supreme Court, Secretary of State, Comptroller, State Treasurer, Attorney-General, State Engineer and Surveyor,
District Attorneys, County Judges, State | merely witness the very end of the last
scene of the last act of the play, when the
Senators, Members of Assembly, Sheriffs,
The next result which follows is this: The work which these organizations have to do is so vast, that the ordinary citizens who have to follow their ordinary daily callings cannot possibly take the time to do it. Here are nominations for thousands of offices to be made, through all parts of the country; millions of ballots are to be printed; these ballots must be in the hands of trusted agents at every voting-place in every State, and, to pay for all this work, money must be found. The work certainly falls into the hands of professionals, who give to it their whole time and thought. It cannot be otherwise. There may be, from time to time, new sets of professionals, but one or another set of professionals will always do this work, so long as there is so great a mass of it to be done. Some men have an idea that one or two evenings in a year spent in caucus primary meetings will set right all the affairs of this National Government. There could be no greater delusion. The work of these election organizations is all done long before the primaries meet. It must be so. Every large organized body is controlled by the men at the head, and those men at the head do their work before the primary meetings are held. The men who attend the primary meetings
We have, next, this vital point: The fact that our highest officials, who are elected, hold their places only for a fixed term of years compels all our officials, the lowest and highest, alike and together, to become the members, and do the work, of these election organizations. Naturally, the men who control the election organizations take for themselves the chief offices-the offices which control the appointment of subordinates. The chief officials at the end of their term have another election to carry, and they know that they will not be able to carry it, or even get a nomination, without the support of the election organization. They cannot get the support of the men who do the election work, unless they pay for the work with appointments to office. On the other hand, the holders of the subordinate offices know that their superiors are compelled to use these subordinate offices to pay the men who do election work. The subordinates are thus driven to do that work in order to save their places. Both sets of officials, then, the lowest who are not elected as well as the highest who are, are compelled by this one powerful common interest, which presses on every man, to do the work on which they all depend for their future,―to do election work instead of the people's work, and to use the people's offices and the people's power for the benefit of the election organization instead of the people. But it is the pressure on the men at the head which makes the effect on the men below, and on the whole body. We may say that this is not a proper way of using the people's offices. That is very true. The men who so use the offices know that as well as we do. And they would be glad to use the offices for the natural purpose, to have honest work done in an honest way, if the system would only let them do so. It is not their wish to endanger life and health. They are compelled to do it by a pressure that they cannot resist. We private citizens, in our efforts to do right, have commonly