Baltimore Evening Sun (24 December 1912): 6.


Congratulations to the estimable vice crusaders. Their victory in the matter of Watson street indicates that they have at last converted the Police Board to their views. Now let every Baltimorean look to his neighbors. The pious bugles sound the charge. The grand woman-hunt has begun.

From the learned Towel of yesterday morning:

Forcing their way through the front door, which had been opened by some one on the inside, Marshal Mahle, etc, etc.

Another extract from the same extremely Towelian article:

All with the exception of Cook were charged with gaming on Sunday. Cook was charged with gaming on Sunday * * *

What would life be in Baltimore without the Towel!

The one sound objection to the confirmation of Judge Oscar Leser as Postmaster is that his transfer to the Federal service would rob the City of Baltimore of an intelligent and hard-working official, whose place it would be hard to fill. No other public functionary is under a heavier fire than a judge of the Appeal Tax Court: at some time or other, practically every taxpayer is against him. To win, in the face of such discontent and criticism, a reputation for fairness and competence is no small testimony to a man’s abilities. This is what Judge Leger has done. It seems a pity that the invaluable experience he has thus gained should go to waste.

Last call to the Hon. William H. Anderson to ameliorate the saharan rigors of his Christmas! I myself will pay all checks.

Tip for the Society for the Alleged Suppression of Vice:

In the second scene of “Eva,” at the Academy of Music this week, there is a nude statue.

And still the Concord Club faces a cheerless, chairless New Year!

Christmas present from the fair vivisectionists of the Maryland Suffrage News:

Whatever you say against them [the reverend vice crusaders] you must at least admit that they are doing something, while all [the Hon.] Mr. Mencken is doing is living off their efforts, as long as he can drive them to contribute to his debauched depraved column.

And this is the reward I get for printing column after column in advocacy of the suffrage! For shame, ladies! I blush for you! Is this the way you reward your one true friend among all the ruffians of the local press! The Evening News in against you, the Towel is against you, the two Sunpapers are against you, the Deutsche Correspondent is against you. But on my private reservation and at the peril of my job, I have argued for you with magnificent rage and eloquence. What is more, I once made a public offer to marry a suffragette. And for thanks you call me depraved! Fie, fie!

Some other beauteous damsel (anonymous, of course!) goes even further in today’s Letter Column. That is to say, she quotes Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche against me, and hints that I suffer from “hysterical senselessness and mental bestiality.” My dear girl, my dear girl! Really, you must not use such language! If you go much further you will hurt my feelings. I am tougher than most, but the thickness of my hide is not infinite.

Meanwhile, I mention, but without quotes, certain remarks of good old Fritz upon the subject of those militant moralists who see the whole world as one seething caldron of sin and every person who can laugh and be merry as a lewd and unspeakable scoundrel. I do not quote these remarks directly, but it is is pleasure to confess that I constantly steal them and offer them as my own. Fritz, indeed, gives but cold comfort to virtuosi of virtue. Yet again, he gives but cold comfort to suffragettes.

The German publishing house of Ullstein & Co., with headquarters in Berlin and a branch at Vienma, is setting a good example to the publishers of England and America by issuing a long series of new novels, well printed and bound in cloth, at the low price of 1 mark (25 cents) a copy. Why should Americans pay from $1 to $1.30 for the same merchandise? If it is possible to produce a new book by Peter Rosegger, Richard Stowmark or Felix Hollaender for 1 mark, and still leave a fair profit to the publisher and a fair royalty for the author, why should a new book by George Barr McCutcheon, or F. Hopkinson Smith, or Robert W. Chambers cost five times as much?

The truth is that our American publishers have been getting. porterhouse prices for literary liver too long. And what is worse, they are constantly raising the ante. A few years ago most new novels were marked $1.50 and sold at from 98 cents to $1.08. But then the publishers got together and established the so-called fixed price—usually $1.30—and now the swindled novel-buyer has to pay it. Not one new American novel in a thousand is worth $1.30, or even 30 cents. The great majority of them, indeed, would be dear if they were given away.

What the buyer is attracted by, and what he pays for, is the gaudy cover. This cover is usually done in from four to ten colors, and sometimes it costs the publisher more than the literary garbage within. In brief, we Americans fall for vociferation in literature as well as in patent medicines. Whenever we spend $10 for fiction, $5 of it goes to pay for the advertising which ensnared us. In exactly the same way we pay for 5 cents worth of cereal and 8 cents worth of billboard every time we eat a dish of breakfast food. Nine-tenths of our novelties, like ninetenths of our breakfast foods, would not sell a dollar’s worth a day if it were not for the lascivious advertisements which leer at us from every dead wall and every 10-cent magazine.

All these heavy overhead charges have been cut off by the Ullsteins. They print their novels on low-priced paper, with narrow margins, they bind them in simple red cloth and they confine their window display to unpretentious slip-covers in two colors. Thus they are able to offer brand-new works of fiction by popular novelists, never before printed anywhere, at the low price of 1 mark. Even in the United States these books sell at 25 cents, for there is no duty on German books. Judging by the 20 or 30 specimens that I have seen, the average merit of the series is decidedly higher than that of any American publisher’s list of novels. Such names as Ompieda, Wohsogem, Ernst, Beyerlein, Stowrenneck, Hollaender, Ganghofer, Rosner and Engel stand for as much in Germany and Austria as the names of Bennett, Wells, Moore, Wharton, Dreiser and Benson in England and America.