Baltimore Evening Sun (21 August 1912): 6.


Beware of book agents, insurance solicitors, and fellows selling a crayon portraits! Burns is a artist!

What has become, by the way, of the super-Mahon’s crusade against Sunday novel reading?

Connoisseurs of perfumery are fighting their way out to Edmondson avenue these days to enjoy the new city dump in the old stone quarry below Calverton road. This quarry was abandoned a year or so ago, and since then it has been made the depository of 10,000 tons of rubbish. At the south end there is a foul lake almost half an acre to extent. It is composed of a puree of old tin cans, broken bottles and ancient bedding in surface water, and to covered with a thick green scum. On the northern side of the quarry there is a smaller lake, and between the two runs an isthmus of garbage. The variety of the staff dumped into the great hole is almost staggering. Exploring it for a few minutes yesterday, I found an old fire engine, a rag doll and a phonograph horn. In some places empty tomato cans are in piles six feet in height. Elsewhere there are enormous pyramids of beer bottles. Enough old bedding is there to bed an army corps. And from all of this stuff arises a stench as of dead and neglected things. It assails pssengers along Edmondson avenu; it rolls in waves over the whole neighborhood. Mosquitoes by the million breed in that green slime. Flies are there in black and impenetrable swarms. It is a pest hole of the first quality, maintained with great care and under the auspices of the city. Who is the health warden of the Sixteenth ward? Why hasn’t he discovered it?

Contributions to the Harry monument fund to noon today:

Previously acknowledged............................$42.97
City Hall charwomen...................................1.35
Staff of the Hot Towel.................................2.90

The Hon. Augustus Cæsar Binswanger has resigned from the committee and the Hon. William W. Stockham has been appointed in his place. Suggestion from one subscribing himself Connoisseur:

Why waste money on a statue? Why not just erect a pedestal and then let the Hero himself appear on it daily from 4 to 6 P. M.? Certainly the common people would be delighted. And make the pedestal of asphalt.

Democracy: the theory that two fools are better than one.

The Hon. Charles J. Ogle, secretary of the Maryland Tax Reform Association, in The Evening Sun of yesterday:

It is all very well, so long as we ourselves have beer and skittles, to say that the vast majority of us get exactly what we deserve, and that all is as it should be in this best of all possible worlds. But in our hearts we know that it’s a lie while our lips are saying it. * * * Resign from the Worlds Boomers’ Association, Brother Mencken! * * *

For shame, Charles! Oblique and unmanly advice! When have I ever preached any such rubbishy doctrine? The best of all possible worlds, forsooth! How can this ever be the best of all possible worlds so long as I have hay fever, and grow bulky to the verge of immobility, and have to work eight hours every day for meagre living, and owe $7 on my Sunday clothes?

Best of all possible worlds? Bosh! One of the worst worlds I can imagine. The fact that I never blush is proof enough that I did not make it, and do not defend it. Huxley once ventured the modest guess that he could improve upon the weather. I go much further. I think that I could improve upon sciatica, upon the human liver, upon the tonsils, upon mud, upon jiggers, upon snakes, upon babies, upon chilblains. If I were manager of the world there would be no whiskers, no bunions, no twins. No fat women, incrusted with diamonds, would loll provokingly in automobiles. Vice crusading would develop swiftly into convulsions, coma and dissolution. The Hon. Mr. Anderson would choke upon his own sinister eloquence.

No, Charles, I am no apologist for this world, no press agent for nature. I know very well that the human eye, so loudly praised as nature’s masterpiece, is really the most fragile and undependable of optical insttruments, that any man who made a microscope so badly would be heaved out of the union. I wonder that so clumsy a banjo as the glottis should ever make music at all. I deny that katzenjammer is either a logical or a moral necessity. I believe that many men die too soon, and that a great many more men do not die soon enough.

But after all, what would you? Say what you will, the massive fact remains that the world is as it is. You and I didn’t make it, we are not consulted about its management, we do not even know why it exists, we can do precious little to change it, even in minor details. Was it Romanees or Lankester who said that we human beings sometimes prevail modestly against nature, that we sometimes gain a puny and trivial victory of outposts, but that every time we do so we lose as much as we have won? Taking man as he stands, is he better off than his anthropoid fathers? Is he healthier, happier, more fit? In many ways he undoubtedly is. In many other ways he undoubtedly isn’t. And in so far as he is, it to probably due as much to nature’s victories over advancing civilization as to civilization’s victories over nature.

In brief, the world, as it stands, at least works. By hook or crook it wabbles along. Revile it as you will, my dear Ogle, you must always admit, in the end, that you and I have survived in it, and that, to that extent, it is humane, benevolent, intelligent, praiseworthy, and a success. Our survival, true enough, has had a million times more luck in it than merit—but who are we to complain against luck? Why try to discount it, deplore it, account for it? Why worry so much about the other fellow? Is he worrying about us? I doubt it. His one great passion is to increase his own luck, his own beer, his own skittles—and nine times out of ten he tries to do it by decreasing ours.

Therefore, let us admit freely the injustice and savagery of the world, and at the same time put the matter out of mind. Nothing that we can do can set aside, for more than an inconsequential moment or two, the great natural law that the strong shall prey upon the weak. In the most lovely Utopia that you and I could plan, there would still be men who were less fitted to survive than the best man, or even than the average man. And nothing that laws or philanthropy could accomplish would make these men more fit.

But of all this, more anon. I suffer, at the moment, from an accursed cold in the head. Literary composition is extremely painful. Let us return to these lofty themes some other day.