Baltimore Evening Sun (10 October 1911): 6.


Only 1,319 days more! And maybe we’ll get used to it before they are gone!

The very thought of government by commission sends tremors down the vertebræ of the bravos of the super-Mahon. The thought of a new charter–a new charter carrying civil service reform, the abolition of the City Council and other such “fads” and “manias”–is scarcely less horrible to these lovely men. But no doubt they can imagine a new charter that would be intensely agreeable–a new charter of “old-fashioned” common sense, of “business methods” all compact. And the rest of us, with the benign aid of alcoholic stimulation, can imagine such a new charter, too. For example:

Section 99. There shall be a Department of Education of the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore. The head of said department shall consist of a Board of School Commissioners composed of nine persons, who shall serve without either pay or intelligence, and who shall be appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the ward houses of the dominant party. The said board shall be in charge of the selection and appointment of all superintendents, principals, teachers, janitors and other necessary employees, subject to the orders the said Mayor. These appointments shall be distributed pro rata, and as accurately as possible, among the 24 wards of the city. When a vacancy occurs the said board shall notify the executive of the precinct in which the retiring incumbent lives or lived, and the said precinct executive shall at once present the names of three suitable persons to the executive of the ward. The said ward executive shall then cause diligent search to be made into the political principles and great deeds of the said three persons, if males, and into the political principles and great deeds of their relatives to the third degree of consanguinity, if females; and after comparing the said records shall decide which of the three is most laudable. The name of the person possessing the said most laudable record shall then be presented to the Mayor, who shall present it to the premier of his kitchen cabinet for a further search. In case the report of the premier is favorable the name of the candidate shall be forwarded to the said Board of School Commissioners, which shall at once appoint the said candidate to the said vacancy, without examination of any sort or kind, oral or written. And in case the report of the premier shall be unfavorable, then the said ward executive shall present a second choice, and so on until some indubitably suitable and competent person be found. And if no such person can he found in the said precinct, then one shall be sought in some other precinct at the said ward.

Section 100. The members at the said Board of School Commissioners shall be chosen by the Mayor from among those he deems most docile and eager to please, by reason of their public application for office, their known ambition to get ahead in politics, or their general and notorious yearning to become prominent Baltimoreans. It shall be unlawful for the Mayor to appoint any person who bears a learned degree from the Johns Hopkins University, or has ever been a student at that University, or is on terms of intimacy with any person connected with that university as a professor, student, demonstrator, librarian, janitor, clerk or charwoman. It shall be furthermore unlawful for the Mayor to appoint any man who tis connected, or has ever been connected as professor or student, with any other university or college, saving only business colleges and correspondence schools. If necessary the Mayor shall order a public inquisition into the history of any aspirant for a place on the said board, and a public examination of the said applicant, to determine and establish his freedom from scholastic or punditic bias, prejudice, or predilection.

Comes now a New York anti-vivisectionist with an answer to a question I addressed to the anti-vivisectionists of Baltimore on September 7. That question had to do with the suppression of a material fact in a report by Dr. Henry J. Berkley. Dr. Berkley, in discussing the death of a certain patient at Bayview, said that it was caused by tuberculosis. The Maryland Anti-Vivisection Society, in preparing its leaflet upon that report, deliberately excised the statement, and so the leaflet makes it appear that Dr. Berkley’s patient died, and on his own confession, as a result of the treatment administered.

The New York apologist attempts to defend this studied mangling of Dr. Berkley’s words on the ground that he may have been mistaken about the tuberculosis–that the treatment, despite his belief and statement to the contrary, may have been the primary and actual cause of death. Granted. But that is not this point. The point is that the Maryland Anti-Vivisection Society, in preparing its leaflet, attempted no such fair and sane argument, but contented itself with distorting Dr. Berkley’s report--that it sought to give the impression, and actually did give the impression, that he had confessed–in brief, that it made use of foul weapons when clean weapons were at hand.

What I have asked of it is some reasonable explanation of that course. If it subscribes to a private code of morals permitting it to engage in such oblique doings, then there should be a clear statement of the fact, that the public may know what value to place upon its future allegations.

Baltimore’s prize exhibition at Atlanta are the super-Mahon and good old Jake. How the Atlantans must envy us!

From some brave fellow who subscribes a name not to be found in the city directory comes this somewhat waspish letter:

To one whose ostentation of learning and caducity of argument have wearied a long-suffering public, these remarks are indited. From a continuation of Menckenian pedantry, kind fates deliver us!

The greater number of Evening Sun readers desire information relating to contemporary subjects. They do not buy the paper merely to road of the inadvertent cacography of certain Baltimoreans. This may account in no small degree for the vast and (to you) vexing difference in circulation.

To pursue the paradox is less excusable than a pursuit of phantoms. A pedant is far worse then a politician, notwithstanding what the grand jury investigation may show politicians to be.

Given our choice between the poorly worded argument of the dialectician and the caliginous magniloquuence of the purist, we would hesitate not one second in choosing the former.

The sophist can have no possible place in the world of today, and certainly not in the newspaper sphere. Wisdom is not to be dethroned by the cabalistic rantings of the fool.

In brief, Mencken, you’re off the track—derailed. And it would be well for you to seek the aid of a “Flannigan,” lest you remain too long in the ditch, being eventually cast upon the scrap heap. We are heartily tired of the biblical essays of The Evening Sun’s catechumen, and we care not if we see no more of his paralogisms.

It is a genuine pleasure to print this letter, despite its tartness. In the first place, the printing of it saves me the labor of composing literary matter to fill the space it occupies, while my wages go on as usual. In the second place, it is itself a composition of considerable sapience. So far as I can discover, indeed, all of its statements are perfectly accurate, and most of its conclusions, while not, perhaps, beyond cavil, still have a certain dismaying reasonableness.

The Voice of the People as the hot blasts bring it in:

What is yer initerendum?{?} And I thought the experience wouldn’t do me no harm!