Baltimore Evening Sun (21 June 1912): 8.
THE OFFICIAL FORECAST. [The Hon. the suoer-Mahon in his weekly paper:] When the showdown comes he [I] will be unanimously nominated for Vice-President.
Second installment of Dr. John Turner’s bitter interview with himself, as submitted to the soulless Sunpaper:
“Some day, when Mencken is sick and hungry, I will feed him medicinally with several long strips of good meat and watch his gratitude work to the surface. Yes, meat is heap big medicine. Try it! “If two-thirds of the so-called sick would destroy all their different medicines and take beef-strips every 2 hours to chew, within 10 days they would be up enjoying life. It makes we shudder to think of the loads of medicines people will take. How the poor old invitated [sic] stomachs live at all puzzles me. “Wonder if Mencken thus feeds his tummy?”
Who will say now that the man is not a great medical revolutionist? But more of his sapient stuff tomorrow!
Current engagements in the plaza de toros:
The super-Mahon vs. Satan Anderson. Dr. John Turner vs. the Pharmacopœia. The School Board vs. the lowest bidders. The super-Mahon vs. a licentious press.
Apparently bona fide inquiry from an Old Subscriber:
How can one distinguish between a man who wears a Preston button for hire and one who does it for the love of it?
Easily enough. All deadhead buttons have the letters “D. H.” in the lower left-hand corner.
The Hon. Theodore Roosevelt’s writhings got The Evening Sun composing room into such a fever yesterday that several gentlemen ran amuck and one of them, before he could be lassooed and tied down, dumped the latter half of an article into this place without taking thought of the other and introductory half. The result was a high degree of solemn vagueness. The second result is that I explain today that the article was planned to deal with the estimable Merchants and Manufacturers’ Association’s late abandonment of the doctrine that the death rate in Baltimore is “16 per 1,000 of population per annum.”
For a year or more the association circulated a leaflet entitled “Baltimore; a Brief Budget for the Busy Bee,” in which that absurd claim was made. But now it suddenly retires behind the virtuous prediction that the new sewerage system will probably “reduce the rate materially.” You will find that prediction in the current issue of Baltimore, its monthly organ. The original leaflet, with a few additions and corrections, is there reprinted as an article. The buncombe about a death rate of 16 is left out.
I called attention to the untruth of that buncombe so long ago as last July, and during the six months following I repeatedly proved, in high, astounding terms, that the death rate in Baltimore was not and never had been less than 18. But the Merchants and Manufacturers’ Association clung to its benign fiction affectionately, and not only sent its staff rhetoricians against me to denounce me as a liar and a foe to the common weal, but also engaged the super-Mahonic Health Department to manufacture romantic statistics in support of its nonsense. Meanwhile, thousands of copies of the offending leaflat were circulated, and in every copy the ancient balderdash was repeated, even after its mendacity had been demonstrated and admitted. But now it is finally withdrawn, and thus the occasion offers for thanking and commending the honorary pallbearers--a privilege not so common that one can afford to neglect it.
So ends a curious chapter in the history of local boomery--a chapter throwing illumination upon a number of peculiarities of the boomiferous.logic and ethic. When I first called attention to what I supposed was an honest error in the association’s figures, I thought that the error would be promptly corrected, and that I myself, as a reward for my vigilance, might perhaps receive the small honorarium of a five-cent cigar. But I quickly found that I had assumed too much. What actually followed was a scorching blast from the association’s literary cannoneers--a blast repeated, time and again, during the ensuing six months, and with constantly increasing charges of powder. The climax came when no fewer than four articles against me appeared in one issue of Baltimore, not to mention a philippic in bad verse.
Yet I was right all the while. What is more, I constantly proved that I was right, citing indubitable facts and figures. I brought reputable witnesses into court; I reviewed their testimony with great patience and sweating; I demonstrated the unreliability of any testimony coming from the super-Mahonic Health Department. But all the while I overlooked a plain and all-important fact--the fact, to wit, that it is the prime object of boomers, not to tell the truth, but to say something nice. It wasn’t true that Baltimore had a low death rate, but all the same it was very nice to think so, and for that reason the honorary pallbearers thought so and said so.
That there was any other angle of approach to the plain facts never once occurred to them. That it was their plain duty, as self-confessed guardians of the city’s prosperity, to seek out all conditions warring upon that prosperity, and to make every reasonable effort to change and remedy them--all this never entered their minds. They made no effort whatever to cure the patient: all they sought to do was to hide the patient’s sores. And when the absurdity. and folly of that course were pointed out, when it was plainly shown that the sores still existed and were even getting worse, their one answer was to denounce and revile all persons who ventured to admit it. Such was, and is, the boomiferous habit of thought. Such was, and is, the boomiferous notion of right and wrong.
But now at last comes evidence that the Merchants and Manufacturers’ Association tires of this wind-music, that it proposes to abandon boomery and devote itself to the truth. Let every good Baltimorean welcome its reformation. Whenever, in the past, it has kept to its real function--that is to say, whenever it has sought to solve definite trade problems in an orderly, intelligible manner--it has succeeded admirably and done itself credit. But whenever it has ventured into the interstellar spaces of boomery--whenever it has gone in for mere sound without sense--it has failed ingloriously and made itself ridiculous.
Col. Jacobus Hook is so affable and genial a man that it is more pleasure to pay him a tax bill than it used to be to swear it off under his predecessor.–Adv.