The existence of categories of property interests resting under a growing weight of social disapprobation, is giving rise to a series of problems in private ethics that seem almost to demand a rehabilitation of the art of casuistry. A very intelligent and conscientious lady of the writer’s acquaintance became possessed, by inheritance, of a one-fourth interest in a Minneapolis building the ground floor of which is occupied by a saloon. Her first endeavor was to persuade her partners to secure a cancellation of the liquor dealer’s lease. This they refused to do, on the ground that the building in question is, by location, eminently suited to its present use, but very ill suited to any other; and that, moreover, the lessee would immediately reopen his business on the opposite corner. To yield to their partner’s desire would therefore result in a reduction of their own profits, but would advance the public welfare not one whit. Disheartened by her partners’ obstinacy, my friend is seeking to dispose of her interest in the building. As she is willing to incur a heavy sacrifice in order to get rid of her complicity in what she considers an unholy business, the transfer will doubtless soon be made. Her soul will be lightened of the profits from property put to an anti-social use. But the property will still continue in such use, and profits from it will still accrue to someone with a soul to lose or to save.
In her fascinating book, Twenty Years at Hull House, Miss Jane Addams tells of a visit to a western state where she had invested a sum of money in farm mortgages. “I was horrified,” she says, “by the wretched conditions among the farmers, which had resulted from a long period of drought, and one forlorn picture was fairly burned into my mind.... The farmer’s wife [was] a picture of despair, as she stood in the door of the bare, crude house, and the two children behind her, whom she vainly tried to keep out of sight, continually thrust forward their faces, almost covered by masses of coarse, sunburned