Baltimore Evening Sun (26 January 1912): 6.


The daily thought from “Also sprach Zarathustra”:

Poets lie too much.

From the current issue of the Baltimoreische Blaetter, the monthly witzblatt of the Merchants and Manufacturers’ Association:

The critic, or rather he who criticizes in flippant, reckless and even smart Aleck manner, for fun and personal gratification, who offers no remedies for that with which he may justly find fault, is a pusillanimous pest and a damage to his community.

I answered this hot denunciation, in so far as it related to my occasional remarks about boomers in general, on Wednesday, but I neglected to answer it, I must confess, in so far as it related to my occasional specific allusions to the Hon. Thomas G. Boggs, camerlengo of the Honorary Pallbearers and editor of the Blaetter. Such allusions have fallen, in the main, under two headings, to wit:

1. Allusions to the confused and astounding English of the Hon. Mr. Boggs.

2. Allusions to the dubious and boggus statistics of the Hon. Mr. Boggs.

When the honorable gentleman here accuses me of criticizing merely destructively, of tearing down without offering to build up, I am forced to admit that, at least in part, he is on safe ground . But if I have thus erred in the past, I am at least eager to make amends in the future. That is to say, I stand ready, today and henceforth, to build up as well as tear down, to support every objection with a remedy. to give of my time and my sweat to the work of improvement. Specifically, I submit to Mr. Boggs the following propositions:

1. If he will send to me, each month, the editorial proof sheets of the Baltimoreische Blaetter, I shall be most happy to read them attentively, to correct their minor slips and absurdities, and to translate their more recondite passages into English.

2. If he will send me, at suitable intervals, whatever mortality statistics he proposes to issue, I shall be most happy to search out and remove the deliberate sophistications and mendacities of the Old-Fashioned Health Department, and so bring them into approximate accord with the facts.

For this service, which I agree to perform promptly, I ask no compensation whatever—that to to say, no compensation in cash, resolutions, cigars, jewelry or public office. My sole reward will be the consciousness that I have contributed my mite toward preserving the dignity of Baltimore, the city in which I live by free choice and in which all the emoluments and usufructs of my job are invested.

The Merchants and Manufacturers’ Association, as the principal civic body of Baltimore, should be far more careful than it is of the dignity of Baltimore. Its proper function, as I understand it, is to make the people of other communities look upon us with respect. As a matter of fact, it sometimes makes them laugh at us. It did so very often in the old days, when its innumerable committees spent day after day in passing interminable and puerile resolutions. It did so when, by the act of its President, since ratified by his re-election. it attempted to interfere in a judicial process and was promptly snubbed by the Governor of Maryland. It does so again every time it sends out, with its imprint, a paper or other document written in bad English or containing obviously inaccurate figures.

The trouble with this association, as with most other boomiferous organizations, is that it chronically underestimates the intelligence of the people it addresses. It is the error of the boomers that they seek to apply the buncombe of the ballyho man to the sale of staple goods. They assume, in brief, that the public is always in a thoughtless, holiday mood—that it is always ready to be wooed by tomtoms and hoochee-coochee dances. Hence the historic throwing overboard of bottles, by boomers bound for Boston. Without doubt that harmless clowning got a number of pieces into the papers, but equally without doubt it sold no goods. A farmer in need of guano does not buy it in the town that is most notorious or amusing, but in the town where he can get it cheapest. And so with the city man buying a pair of shoes. He does not ask what town they have come from, but how well they fit and what they cost.

But the worst objection to boomery, as I have indicated, is not that it is useless, but that it is disgusting. A city, like a man, should have some sense of amour propre, of self-respect. I do not mean by self-respect that chest-swelling pomposity which is associated with idle pretense and vainglory—and so, by a strange irony of fate, with boomery—but that alert feeling for the proprieties and the decencies which marks every truly civilized white man. Just as a civilized white man, no matter what the temptation, refrains from making faces, loading the dice and saying “I seen,” just so a civilized city and its leading civic organizations should refrain from the same or similar vulgarities.

To this, of course, the boomers have an answer. That answer, in brief, is that the business of selling goods is one in which dignity can have no place—that the successful merchant is necessarily half Barnum and half Camille. Well, let the boomers cling to that theory if it gives them any comfort. It has, no doubt, a certain plausibility, a certain beauty—but the facts are all against it. Here, as in every other civilized city, hundreds of men and firms disprove it day by day. Our commercial prosperity, in the past, has been founded, not upon ballyhoing, not upon posturing and grimacing, not upon bellowing and bawling, but upon intelligent buying and honest selling—in brief, upon simple dignity—and if we are to have any commercial prosperity in future, I am firmly convinced that it will stand upon the very same ground.

In the half-baked cities of the West, we are told, other methods bring success. Out there is the land of boomery, of brass bands, of “progress.” Well, let the Westerners have their fun in their own way. Here in Baltimore, we lean in other directions. One of the main merits of Baltimore, in our eyes—perhaps the merit overshadowing all others—lies in the very fact that it is neither in the infantile West, nor susceptible to the charms of Western cornmercial and table manners.

Only 1,208 days more! And to March 4, 1913, only 403! And only 64 days more of the Legislature!

Astounding remarks by two distinguished baltimoralists:

The Hon. Bob Padgett—I am out of politics. I am no longer in politics. * * * The Hon. the super-Mahon—The good government which Baltimore has now and always has had, the character and integrity of its officials. * * *

Twenty-five thousand dollars for boosting the game of the Hon. Mahoni Amicus—but not a darn cent for typhoid.