Baltimore Evening Sun (25 May 1911): 6.


The English language is fluent, elastic, shameless. Every new concept finds it ready with a new word. Its vocabulary constantly expands and inflates itself to meet the growing needs of the race. Old words take on new and subtle meanings. New words are invented to make old meanings more plain. For example:

From boomers who boom from boom to boom, and from waiters who open beer bottles with their teeth, and from reporters who report that “Mr. Parrott is enthusiastic,” and from journalistic hirelings who compose articles like this one and fancy that they are thereby earning their wages—kind fates, deliver us!

No doubt the Seeing-America-First convention will draw a big crowd and so fill, for its brief day, our streets and our kaifs. Seven or eight years ago, if I remember rightly, we had a whole summer of conventions, and Baltimore was as gay as a county fair. A statistical friend told me later that it had cost the city, first and last, $225,000 to get these conventions and that the delegates, all told, spent $400,000 here, of which 10 per cent. was profit. The delegates had a high old time—and then went home with the news that Baltimore had the worst streets in the United States and the dullest Sundays in the world. No doubt this advertising helped us.

But away with such sarcasism! The muckraker, the muckmaker and the fault-finder, as Mayor Preston says, be hanged! Let us stop knocking, and all fall to boosting. Steer the visitor away from the cobbles. Take him out to Druid Hill—that peerless park—and let him hear the municipal band play “The Forge in the Forest,” “The Creole Glide” and other such elevating compositions.

Which reminds me that the late Major Richard M. Venable was one of the worst citizens Baltimore ever had, for he refused to admit that Druid Hill was perfect. He insisted, in fact, that it could be improved, and then added insult to injury by actually improving it. Going further, he bought the city a dozen or more other parks. I say bought, but in reality the Major got some of them for nothing. When he died it was proposed to name one of these parks after him. The gentleman who is now Mayor of Baltimore objected strenuously.

The directory of pious frauds:

Eating with the knife, no matter what the foppish may say against it, is an act which calls into play all the special gifts and talents which mark the efficient man–a steady hand, a clear brain, a keen eye, and a lofty contempt for prejudice, pride and hypocrisy. It takes moral courage and it takes physical courage. Any one of a thousand accidents may bring the executant face to face with death or mutilation. The knife may slip and tear his face to ribbons. The peas may roll off and go bounding down his windpipe, cutting off his draft and turning his wife into a widow. Overweighted by an English chop or a hard-boiled egg, the blade may part at the hilt and spring into space, putting out his eyes, perchance, on the way. Again, the handle may slip from his grasp, and he may swallow the knife itself.

Such things have happened. In Chicago the other day a man sat down before a plate of Bismarck herring, knife in hand. Half in hour later they found him dead, with blood gushing from half a dozen wounds in his face. Just how it happened no one knows, but there was the knife!

Is knife-eating vulgar? Of course not. To call the practice vulgar is to make the word a tag of honor. The greatest men of all time have been knife-eaters. Frederick the Great could balance a whole fried egg on one knife. Oliver Cromwell stirred his tea, ate his roast beef, shaved himself and whittled sticks with one and the same stilletto. Friedrich Nietzsche cherished with superstitious reverence an eating blade that had belonged to Lucretia Borgia and used it himself only on Sundays. Johann Sebastian Bach, when palsy overtook him, had a favorite messer hollow-ground, like a razor, and used it for Lima beans and grated Edam to the last.

The Voice of the People as overheard on street car platforms:

Freight observed on street cars:

From a harangue by the Hon. William P. Borland, of Missouri, in the House of Representatives last Monday:

The extent and variety of resources in Missouri are remarkable. It is said that if a hostile army were to surround entirely the State and besiege it with the design of starving it into submission, Missouri could subsist upon her own resources without aid from the outside world and maintain the highest degree of civilization known to man. Not only so, but the Missourians would have an enormous surplus of products to throw over the borders to their besieging foes.

So much for eloquence! But is it or is it not a fact that all of the hops used in Missouri come from Oregon? And is it or is it not a fact that the soil of Missouri is inhospitable to the hop vine? And is it or to it not a fact that, without hops, the civilization of Missouri would crumble and turn to dust, and that St. Louis, that imperial city, would go the of way of Nisibis and Carthage, Lagash and Edessa, Tyre and Kish–of the Sippar of the Babylonians and the Ur of the Chaldees?

H. L. Mencken