Page:1899 The Growth of Cities in the Nineteenth Century.djvu/35

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7
INTRODUCTION

made by scientific writers in Germany up to the most recent times.[1] In the eighteenth century the line between town and country was indeed a sharp one, and the opposition of their interests was clearly marked. The era of steam and machinery broke it down in England early in the present century, but on the Continent this influence has worked more slowly. An English writer in the middle of the century noted that the distinction was still sharp even in constitutional France and Belgium.[2] Town and country manifested a spirit of hostility toward each other rather than a desire for friendly intercourse; the cities maintained their walls, levied local taxes or duties (octroi) on goods brought in, and carried out a searching examination of every peasant's cart that was driven through the city's gate. The towns, with their special privileges, lived an isolated life and exerted little influence on the country population. Thus the movements following the February Revolution (1848) were confined to a few town populations like Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, Dresden, Frankfort. The cities were the "oases of civilization;" "the people outside were in the same condition as they had been for ages."[3]

But in the last half-century all the agencies of modern civilization have worked together to abolish this rural isolation; the cities have torn down their fortifications, which separated them from the open country; while the railways, the newspaper press, freedom of migration and settlement,

  1. Cf. Süssmilch, Die göttliche Ordnung, Berlin, 1740; Wappäus, Allgemeine Bevölkerungsstatistik, Leipzig, 1861, vol. ii, who says that "it is rather the nature of the occupation and not the mere place of dwelling" that explains the difference in the vital statistics of city and country.
  2. Laing's Observations on the State of the European People, 1848-9, p. 273.
  3. It is worthy of note that this mediæval separation of town and country still exists in Sweden and Norway, where all places of collective residence are still called "cities," though some of them have fewer than 500 inhabitants. Wagner-Supan, Bevōlkerung der Erde, ix, 50-51.