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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

INAUGURAL ADDRESS                        45

which, even though it is midday, makes it impossible to distinguish
any of the details of the room.

When the eye has grown accustomed to the gloom, we per-
ceive, within, the outlines of a bed upon which lies huddled a figure
—some one ill and suffering. If we had come bringing money
from some society for mutual aid, a candle must be lighted
before the sum can be counted and the receipt signed. Oh, when
we talk of social problems, how often we speak vaguely, draw-
ing upon our fancy for details instead of preparing ourselves to
judge intelligently through a personal investigation of facts and
conditions!

We discuss earnestly the question of home study for school
children, when for many of them home means a straw pallet thrown
down in the corner of some dark hovel. We wish to establish
circulating libraries that the poor may read at home.. We plan to
send among these people books which shall form their domestic
literature—books through whose influence they shall come to higher
standards of living. We hope through the printed pages to educate
these poor people in matters of hygiene, of morality, of culture,
and in this we show ourselves profoundly ignorant of their most
crying needs. For many of them have no light .by which to read*

There lies before the social crusader of the present day a
problem more profound than that of the intellectual elevation of
the poor; the problem, indeed, of life.

In speaking of the children born in these places, even the
conventional expressions must be changed, for they do not " first
see the light of day"; they come into a world of gloom. They
grow among the poisonous shadows which envelop over-crowded
humanity. These children cannot be other than filthy in body,
since the water-supply in an apartment originally intended to be
occupied by three or four persons, when distributed among twenty
or thirty is scarcely enough for drinking purposes!

We Italians have elevated our word " casa" to the .almost
sacred significance of the English word "home," the enclosed
temple of domestic affection, accessible only to dear ones.