Baltimore Evening Sun (29 September 1911): 6.
More activity at home; more publicity abroad:
[From the Philadelphia Record.]
PRIMARY FRAUDS ENMESH 30 MORE
Baltimore Grand Jury Hurrying To Forestall Leaders’ Search For Cushion
GOVERNOR IN A QUANDARY
If Crothers Calls The Legislature, He Will Offend Reformers; If Not, Gorman Men.
The Voice of the People, as the roaring hurricane brings it in:—
Them guys had ought to been um carefuler.
Meanwhile, the First Branch City Council coutinues its important business of making an ass of itself on all possible occasions.
We are given a solemn promise that the “men higher up” will be snared and scotched. But who are the “men higher up”? The name of one of them is whispered–a second-rate magnifico of the tenderloin, a slot-machine magnate, a barrel-house viceroy. Tut, tut. You must go a good deal higher, good friends, if you would grab the real culprits. Why not reach out for the directors of the corporation? Let the poor charwomen alone!
Whenever the public revolts against the oblique doings of the Democratic organization in Baltimore, all of the spotlights are at once turned upon half a dozen men, and efforts are made to convince everyone that those men are alone responsible. Don’t believe a word of it! The real responsibility for corruption in this town is to be laid not so much upon the professional politicians as upon the professional prominent citizens behind them—upon those self-confessed dignitaries, those monopolists of vtrtue; those pious frauds who are ever ready, when the cry of “Stop thief!” is raised, to hold up their hands in horror and ever eager, when no bawling assaults the ear, to be taken into the counsels of the bosses and to share the spoils and honors of boss-ship.
Without such fellows—such “high-toned” legal gentlemen, such “eminent” business men, such intermediaries between the boom and the corporations, such apparently sound apples at the top of the barrel—the trade of politics in Baltimore would be vastly less profitable than it is. In Rasin’s day they were his suitors and intimates. They adorned the platform when his band played. They constituted his inevitable “business men’s association.” They signed the certificates of his candidates. Now and then he put one of them on his ticket, to perfume and sophisticate it. Several became Mayors of Baltimore, Governors of Maryland. Others gave the flavor of their virtue to lesser—but always profitable–offices. Yet others were rewarded at Annapolis. The remainder were content with the honor of the boss’ acquaintance, the feeling of importance, the sense of power, the cheap vanity of small and vulgar souls.
That race of bad citizens in plug hats has not died out in Baltimore. Its headmen are known to us all. They are the men who protest against every effort to run down scoundrels, on the ground that the scandal will “hurt business.” They are the men who demand that every patriot support the ticket once it has been nominated by chicanery. They are the fellows who flock to Annapolis at every session, to throw the weight of their influence against good and necessary laws. They are the gentlemen who are “protected” and whose business and friends are “protected.” They are the heroes who take a safe and sane middle ground, neither fighting corruption on the one hand nor helping decency on the other.
How long would any ring prosper without the aid and comfort of that virtuous auxiliary? Not long, you may be sure. Once the tenderloin bosses found themselves standing alone, they would retreat to the tenderloin, whence they came and where they belong, and there it would be easy to run them down and dispose of them, or at any rate to confine their rascalities to a small and inconsiderable area. But they do not stand alone—and they will never stand alone so long as the people of Baltimore accept a plug hat and an inflated chest as evidences of honor and dignity.
What we need in the present emergency is not so much the jailing of a few miserable fools as a revision of our roster of prominent citizens. If we are to clean up, let us clean up completely. Let us ask every man who now postures before us, wrapped in his Salome garment of diaphanous indignation, what he has actually done in his time, voluntarily and earnestly, to put down political corruption in Baltimore—what he has done in the past, not what he is going to do tomorrow—what he dld or honestly tried to do before the calciums began to hiss and the alarm bells to ring–what he did when the gang was triumphant and all natural-born fawners were hard at their fawning.
Sonny Mahon hasn’t many friends today. The rats leave the sinking ship. But let us not forget that he had a lot of friends a few months ago, even a few weeks ago—that “prominent business men” were thrilled by his smile, that “distinguished” lawyers were delighted to kiss his hand, that men aspiring to the highest offices in the community were not above wooing him with soft blandishments. Who were these hypocrites? Make out your own list. You know them as well as I do.
From the inaugural address of “Sonny’s” intimate:
In the enjoyment of * * * good government Baltimore is in the front rank of American cities.
That is to say, it used to be * * * Or is it possible that the alter-Mahon really believes that his saturnalia of buncombe and bluff is good government? The thing, if course, is not actually inconceivable. Self-delusion is a fantastic, a mysterious folie. Falstaff believed himself a hero. Barry Lyndon thought he was persecuted. Cyrano admired his own nose.
The endless soothsaying of the professional platitudinizers:
I believe that the members of the grand jury are anxious to do their duty.–The Hon. Frank A. Furst. The men who were in charge of this precinct knew my feelings.–The Hon. Daniel J. Loden. Fraud has been charged (!!)–The Hon. John Walter Smith.