Baltimore Evening Sun (20 October 1911): 6.


J. Albert Hughes! J. Albert Hughes! Prepare yourself for awful news!

Some day a professor of psychology, turning aside from the spook-chasing and mental healing which now engages his craft, will give us a book upon “The Comparative Respectability of the Human Organs.” It will be a book worth writing and worth reading, a pioneer venture into an enormously interesting field. Why is it that some of our innards are so much more respectable than others? Why is it that the vermiform appendix, for example, is a perfectly refined and even aristocratic thing, despite its bad habits, while the kidneys are unmentionable in polite society? Why are the lungs more respectable than the liver? Why is the larynx dignified, while the solar plexus bears a dubious, sporty name, and the spleen is almost obscene?

A newspaper reporter is constantly oppressed by such problems. In describing the maladies of magnificoes who fall ill and die he must keep small and subtle distinctions ever in mind. He may never mention the intestine by name, but the adjective “intestinal” is almost as respectable as “abdominal.” A victim of assassins may have “intestinal wounds,” but no decent newspaper will ever report that he was shot through the intestines. Adenoids qualify; corns do not. The tonsils delight the cultured mind; the diaphragm offends it. I could give you many other examples, but it would be difficult to get them printed.

In England, I am informed, no gentleman ever mentions his stomach in the presence of a lady. To get round that prohibition, many poetical synonyms for “stomach” have been invented. It is perfectly lawful to use one of those synonyms, but highly indecent to use the actual name of the organ. On this side of the water the stomach is in no such disrepute. Not only is it mentioned freely, and its eccentricities discussed, but its name is actually used as a refined alias for the abdomen.

Just why the vermiform appendix, of all the natural contents of man, should be a credit and an honor to its possessor, and even to its ex-possessor, is a mystery deep and baffling. The appendix, viewed in cold blood, is a very rowdy thing. It has disgusting habits; it is without beauty; no sane man has ever called it the seat of the soul. And yet it has that strange, indefinable dignity—while the cæcum, its neighbor, is utterly unmentionable.

The standing of the vermiform appendix must, indeed, excite the wonder of every psychologist. It alone, of all the machinery below the diaphragm, is indubitably respectable—and in all civlilized countries. It is even more respectable than anything above the diaphragm—everything, perhaps, save the vocal chords of great singers and the bronchial tubes of the aged. The stomach is its inferior. The liver and kidneys are miles below it. The spleen and pancreas are not fit to be mentioned in the same breath with it, nor on the same side of the street.

Mysteries! Mysteries! A catalogue of organs, glands, joints, bones, ducts and membranes, in the order of their respectability, suggests itself. For instance:

But I had better stop with Class F.

The “old-fashioned” School Board denounces the “old-fashioned” City Council. The “old-fashioned” City Council turns down a pet ordinance of the “old-fashioned” Mayor. Have they really fallen out—or are they just spoofing us?

Boil your drinking water! Watch the School Board! Weep with Carr!

The betting in the kaifs, as my spies report it:

Meanwhile the Health Department might use a little of its hypochlorite upon the virtuous sandwiches set out in Baltimore kaifs on Sundays.