Baltimore Evening Sun (30 June 1911): 6.


A few figures. Between the years 1900 and 1910 Maryland almost stood still—her net increase in population was but 9 per cent. During the same period the energetic State of Washington forged ahead rapidly: her net increase in population was 120 per cent. Great is the destiny of a State inhabited exclusively by live wires, boomers, human dynamos, men of enterprise, men who will take chances! But stay: let us turn to Dun’s Quarterly Review, an unsentimental but extremely accurate gazette. During the first quarter of 1911 the business failures in the State of Washington reached 103, or one to every 11,087 of population, and the net loss to creditors came to $883,269. During the same period, in slow old Maryland, the business failures numbered 55, or one to every 23,551 of population, and the net losses to creditors came to but $34,244. The moral? Dig it out for yourself—and then send your contribution to the boomers!

Those persons who denounce Mr. Preston so bitterly for dismissing Mr. Frank and the two doctors make no offer to disprove his claim that the common people are an his side. As a matter of fact, it would take two or three seminaries of sophists and paralogists, working in eight-hour shifts like coal miners and for a period exceeding a geological epoch, to accomplish any such proof to the satisfaction of a fair jury, for the facts are all on the side of the Mayor. If he went before the people on the Van Sickle issue tomorrow he would probably be indorsed by a vote of two to one—not, of course, because the people are right about Mr. Van Sickle, but because the Mayor is right about the people.

Mr. Preston tells the simple truth when he says that Van Sicklism was an issue in the Mayoralty campaign, that it was copiously and frankly discussed on the stump, that his own attitude was made plain, and that the people, by their votes, testified that they were with him. Much has been made, by his foes, of the fact that he got into office by the narrow, and perhaps accidental, majority of 630 votes. But his real contest, as everyone knows, was not with Mr. Timanus but with Mr. Mahool. It was in the primary fight that the issue was clearly drawn between civilized government and frank political manipulation—and political manipulation won by a majority of 9,239. The contest between Mr. Preston and Mr. Timanus was not one between a reformer and a reactionary, but one between two reactionaries. Every Baltimorean knew very well that the difference between a Timanus administration and a Preston administration would be one betwee tweedledum and tweedledee—between the Republican brand of practical politics and the Democratic brand. So the race was nearly a dead heat, but with Preston a scant millimeter ahead of Timanus.

What is to be done about the present raid? How are we to prevent such attacks upon the schools in future? Mr. Preston, of course, will not remain in office forever, and the chances are that, by dint of great clamor in the newspapers (not popular clamor, but newspaper clamor), some man of a less demagogic sort will be elected to follow him. That man, it is probable, will rescue the schools from the politicians and school-book sellers as Mayor Hayes once rescued them, and they will slowly regain the high efficiency they now seem about to lose. But how long will it last? What guarantee have we that the pendulum will not swing back again—that stupidity, the thirst for jobs and the old fear of learning will not accomplish another wreck?

No such guarantee exists. And it never will exist until there comes that radical revision of the voting lists which the American people, once they get rid of their political superstitions, will be led to undertake. So long as every adult male, no matter how dense his ignorance, has an equal voice with the most intelligent man in the determination of those great matters of government which demand, above everything, a trained and far-seeing intelligence, just so long it will be impossible to frame a completely satisfactory policy of school administration or to carry it out after it is framed. A hundred starts may be made, but every such start, in the long run, will be in vain.

There are many public problems upon which the opinion of one man is but little better than that of any other man. The most ignorant immigrant or negro, voting upon a proposal to enlarge the city jail, may vote as intelligently as the average judge—perhaps even more intelligently. But when propositions involving extremely complex considerations, largely technical and so requiring special knowledge for their mere comprehension, are before the people, then the absurdity of giving every man an equal voice in their disposition becomes manifest. What would be said if some one argued that the conduct of the Johns Hopkins Medical School, the selection of books for the Pratt Library or the appointment of teachers for the Peabody Conservatory should be determined by popular vote, directly or indirectly? No one, of course, would take such an idiotic proposal seriously. And yet the management of the public schools is a matter requiring just as much intelligence and special knowledge as the conduct of the Johns Hopkins, the Pratt Library or the Peabody, and in its actual social importance it vastly exceeds all three of these enterprises, taken together and multiplied by two.

Meanwhile what is to be accomplished by denouncing Mr. Preston? He thinks that he is right, and according to our fundamental axiom of government, he is right, for the people are behind him. Let him alone, Messieurs! Let him alone!

Specimens of the noble American language.

On contemplating the boomers: Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis tempus eget.

An article in Association Men for June (Association Men is the official organ of the Young Men’s Christian Association) gives publicity to the somewhat astonishing fact that in some of the great Young Men’s Christian Association dormitories now going up all over the country a majority of the roomers are gay fellows who never go to church. In one such dormitory, says the anonymous muck-raker, “but one in four of the roomers are known to be men of positive Christian character.” In another “not one in ten is attracted by the church on Sunday morning.” A certain “bohemian free-and-easy, it appears, has crept into many of these latter-day monasteries. The question is now fairly raised, we are told, whether it would not be wise to require a resident membership of at least 50 per cent. of actual Christians!

A curious condition of affairs, which deserves a great deal more attention than it is likely to receive.

H. L. Mencken