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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 37

Large and Small Communities

Large and Small Communities.

The freedom which we have attained has great Economic advantages, but so many Moral disadvantages as might make page 71 one hesitate in choosing it if any alternative was open for our choice.

What is it that often makes the population of an old village pleasant to us? It is because every man has a character to lose. All have been known to all from youth. There may be a few persons bad beyond cure; yet even towards them long knowledge produces a kindly feeling, which keeps then from the worst extremes. At any rate no one can fall into evil courses nor into distress without its being known and observed; and common men are more virtuous when then sins are watched. Such is the state of a community which grows entirely from within and rather slowly.

But a modern town is largely peopled by immigrants, unknown to one another and to the old inhabitants. Just as a country loses patriotism and organic union when new settlers-come in from different quarters so rapidly as to outnumber the natives; so to sustain the true corporate spirit of a modern rapidly formed town is hardly possible. Men come to it—not to live there—not because they were born there—not because they like the place, but to get money there. Hence they have seldom the same attachment to the people, whom in fact they do not know.

(Professor F. W. Newman.)