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jealous of any other man. Moreover, as the community is small and consists for the most part of persons who have dwelt long in the land, while those of foreign ancestry, instead of keeping by themselves, have intermarried with the natives, there is still a realizing sense of kinship among the men who follow the different occupations. The characteristic family names are often borne by men of widely different fortunes, ranging from the local bayman through the captain of the oyster-sloop, the sail-maker, or the wheelright, to the owner of what the countryside may know as the manor-house —which probably contains one of the innumerable rooms in which Washington is said to have slept. We have sharp rivalries, and our politics are by no means always what they should be, but at least we do not divide on class lines, for the very good reason that there has been no crystallization into classes.
This condition prevails in essentials throughout the country districts of New York, which are politically very much the healthiest districts. Any man who has served in the Legislature realizes that the country members form, on the whole, a very sound and healthy body of legislators. Any man who has gone about much to the county fairs in New York—almost the only place where the farm folks gather in large numbers—can not but have been struck by the high character of the average countryman. He is a fine fellow, rugged, hardworking, shrewd, and keenly alive to the fundamental virtues. He and his brethren of the smaller towns and villages, in ordinary circumstances, take very little account, indeed, of any caste difference; they greet each man strictly on his merits as a man, and therefore form a community in which there is singularly little caste spirit, and in which men associate on a thoroughly healthy and American ground of common ideals, common convictions, and common sympathies.
Unfortunately, this can not be said of the larger cities, where the conditions of life are so complicated that there has been an extreme differentiation and specialization in every species of occupation, whether of business or pleasure. The people of a certain degree of wealth and of a certain occupation may never come into any real contact with the people of another occupation, of another social standing. The tendency is for the relations always to be between class and class instead of between individual and individual. This produces the thoroughly unhealthy belief that it is for the interest of one class as against another to have its class representatives dominant in public life. The ills of any such system are obvious. As a matter of fact, the enormous mass of our legislation and administration ought to be concerned with matters that are strictly
for the commonweal; and where special legislation or administration is needed, as it often must be, for a certain class, the need can be met primarily by mere honesty and common sense. But if men are elected solely from any caste, or on any caste theory, the voter gradually substitutes the theory of allegiance to the caste for the theory of allegiance to the commonwealth as a whole, and instead of demanding as fundamental the qualities of probity and broad intelligence—which are the indispensable qualities in securing the welfare of the whole-as the first consideration, he demands, as a substitute, zeal in the service, or apparent service of the class, which is quite compatible with gross corruption outside. In short, we get back to the conditions which foredoomed democracy to failure in the ancient Greek and mediæval republics, where party lines were horizontal and class warred against class, each in consequence necessarily substituting devotion to the interest of a class for devotion to the interest of the state and to the elementary ideas of morality.
The only way to avoid the growth of these evils is, so far as may be, to help in the creation of conditions which will permit mutual understanding and fellow-feeling between the members of different classes. To do this it is absolutely necessary that there should be natural association between the members for a common end or with a common purpose. As long as men are separated by their caste lines, each body having its own amusements, interests, and occupations, they are certain to regard one another with that instinctive distrust which they feel for foreigners. There are exceptions to the rule, but it is a rule. The average man, when he has no means of being brought into contact with another, or of gaining any insight into that other's ideas and aspirations, either ignores these ideas and aspirations completely, or else feels toward them a more or less tepid dislike. The result is a complete and perhaps fatal misunderstanding, due primarily to the fact that the capacity for fellow-feeling is given no opportunity to flourish. On the other hand, if the men can be mixed together in some way that will loosen the class or caste bonds and put each on his merits as an individual man, there is certain to be a regrouping independent of caste lines. A tie may remain between the members of a caste, based merely upon the similarity of their habits of life; but this will be much less strong than the ties based on identity of passion, of principle, or of ways of looking at life. Any man who has ever, for his good fortune, been obliged to work with men in masses, in some place or under some condition or in some association where the dislocation of caste was complete, must recognize the truth of this as apparent. Every mining-camp, every successful volunteer regiment, proves it. In such cases there is always some object which must be attained, and the men interested in its attainment have to develop their own leaders and their own ties of association, while the would-be leader can succeed only by selecting for assistants the men whose peculiar capacities fit them to do the best work in the various emergencies that arise. Under such circumstances the men who work together for the achievement of a common result in which they are intensely interested are very soon certain to disregard, and, indeed, to forget, the creed or race origin or antecedent social standing or class occupation of the man who is either their friend or their foe. They get down to the naked bed-rock of character and capacity.
This is to a large extent true of the party organizations in a great city, and, indeed, of all serious political organizations. If they are to be successful they must necessarily be democratic, in the sense that each man is treated strictly on his merits as a man. No one can succeed who attempts to go in on any other basis; above all, no one can succeed if he goes in feeling that, instead of merely doing his duty, he is conferring a favor upon the community, and is therefore warranted in adopting an attitude of condescension toward his fellows. It is often quite as irritating to be patronized as to be