Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/363

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THE GREAT BRIDGE AND ITS LESSONS.

suffering hero quote the words of "Hyperion": "Oh, I have looked with wonder upon those who, in sorrow and privation, and bodily discomfort, and sickness, which is the shadow of death, have worked right on to the accomplishment of their great purposes; toiling much, enduring much, fulfilling much; and then, with shattered nerves and sinews all unstrung, have laid themselves down in the grave and slept the sleep of death, and the world talks of them while they sleep! And as in the sun's eclipse we can behold the great stars shining in the heavens, so in this life-eclipse have these men beheld the lights of the great eternity, burning solemnly and forever!"

And now what is to be the outcome of this great expenditure upon the highway which has been constructed between the two cities, for which Dr. Storrs and I have the honor to speak to-day? That Brooklyn will gain in numbers and in wealth with accelerated speed is a foregone conclusion. Whether this gain shall in any wise be at the expense of New York is a matter in regard to which the great metropolis does not concern herself. Her citizens are content with the knowledge that she exists and grows with the growth of the whole country, of whose progress and prosperity she is but the exponent and the index. Will the bridge lead, as has been forcibly suggested, and in some quarters hopefully anticipated, to the union of the two cities under one name and one government? This suggestion is in part sentimental and in part practical. So far as the union in name is concerned, it is scarcely worth consideration, for in any comparison which our national or local pride may institute between this metropolis and the other great cities of the world, its environment, whether in Long Island, Staten Island, or New Jersey, will always be included. In considering the population of London, no one ever separates the city proper from the surrounding parts. They are properly regarded as one homogeneous aggregation of human beings.

It is only when we come to consider the problem of governing great masses that the serious elements of the question present themselves, and must be determined before a satisfactory answer can be given. The tendency of modern civilization is toward the concentration of population in dense masses. This is due to the higher and more diversified life which can be secured by association and co-operation on a large scale, affording not merely greater comfort and often luxury, but actually distributing the fruits of labor on a more equitable basis than is possible in sparsely settled regions and among feeble communities. The great improvements of our day in labor-saving machinery and its application to agriculture enable the nation to be fed with a less percentage of its total force thus applied, and leave a larger margin of population free to engage in such other pursuits as are best carried on in large cities.

The disclosures of the last census prove the truth of this statement. At the first census in 1790 the population resident in cities was 3 3 pr