Baltimore Evening Sun (19 October 1912): 6.


In the course of a sociological tour last evening I found fake Pilsener in 14 kaifs within the area bounded by Eutaw, Baltimore, Saratoga and Charles streets. Is this justice? Is this decent?


The week having failed to produce a single first-class platitude, or even a presentable specimen of the second class, the committee has awarded the prize, an authentic hair from the Galways of the late Samuel Smiles, LL.D., to the Hon Mr. Wegg, Bishop of Belair and Havre de Grace in partibus infidelium, for the following puny and brackish effort.

Any man with a punch is liable to be rough.

The committee makes honorable mention, unwillingly and with pain, of the Rev. Dr. Polemus H. Swift for the following:

It is possible that any life may end in tragedy.

And of Col. Joseph R. Baldwin, the estimable Bull Moose leader, for the following:

The American people will not stand for treachery.

Next week’s prize will be a half-litre bottle of the best mayonnaise, guaranteed under the pure food and drug act. But it will not be awarded unless there is a visible improvement in the quality of the platitudes entered.

The committee, in its report, laments the low quality of the week’s supply. To quote:

The Hon. Mr. Wegg’s prize-winner is doubly defective, for in the first place it is not quite obvious, and in the second place it is couched in questionable English. The word “liable” indicates an involuntary experience, or at least an experience primarily set in train by outside agencies, and not an act of pure volition. A man is “liable” to shipwreck or marriage or the yellow jaundice, but he is not “liable” to eat or beat his wife or to have his hair cut. The proper word here is “likely.” Had the Hon. Mr. Wegg used “likely” his platitude would have attained to very fair quality. As it is, we must censure him for a degree of carelessness coming within close reach of an actual breach of trust. Let him buck up.

Coincidentally there comes from the Hon. Mr. Wegg himself the following note to the Editor of The Evening Sun:

Permit me to call your attention to a perfect specimen of the genus platitudiniis. It is taken from this evening’s Free Lance column and is the handiwork of that accomplished artisan, [the Hon.] Mr. Mencken. [Aha! the tallow motif! The “Celeste Olio Rosato!” of the Towel!]:

The social evil is obviously one of the great curses of civilization, and the world would be vastly better off without it.

Any one of the words, “obviously,” “great” or “vastly,” would have made this platitude notable, but their combined presence renders it unique among platitudes. It is a pluperfect, a super, an Ossa-on-Pelion platitude, and [the Hon.] Mr. Mencken must waive his modesty and take the prize.

My best thanks to good Wegg de Havre de Grace. I agree with him thoroughly, and even go a bit further than he goes. But let him be reasonable. He knows very well that I can’t award the prize to myself. If I did so, there would be a loud and immediate protest from all the Prominent Baltimoreans, leading lawyers and ambitious young clergymen, and Wegg himself would be the first to heave a brick. But if he cares, under the circumstances, to send me a modest consolation prize, say a portrait of himself or a rasher of Belair pfannehase, I shall accept it with affecting whoops.

The vote to date on the sewer rental plan:

The betting odds in the Eutaw street poker-rooms, as reported by the raiding Vice Crusaders:

2 to 1 that the sewer rental plan ain’t heard of no more after election day. 10 to 1 that Harry wishes he knowed how to let go it without nobody noticing. 100 to 1 that he wishes he never grabbed holt of it.

Last call for the theatre censors! Is the season just opened doomed to drag its weary length along without the aid of those eager moralists, those accomplished snifters of evil. The theatre managers, I hear, are much downcast by the prospect. Why go to the expense of providing racy, salty shows if the general public is never to hear of them? Regular theatregoers, of course, know what is going on, and one tells another, but regular theatregoers can do no more than keep the playhouses alive. For large and quick profits recourse must be had to those persons who go to the theatre but seldom--and something sensational is needed to bring them out. It is the function of theatre censors to uncover that something, to manufacture that sensation. If they fall in their duty, honest and willing managers lose money, and innocent actors are thrown out of work.

Contributions to the garbage heap of best-sellers:

And even if the Court of Appeals decides against the ex-sheriffs, and juries in the lower courts find for the State, and the whole mad delirium of writs and appeals comes to an end, there will still remain the herculean job of squeezing the money out of them.–Adv.