Baltimore Evening Sun (27 December 1912): 6.


Why not a public debate between Isaac Lobe and John Walter? True enough, Isaac Lobe is a far more mellifluous rhetorician, but don’t forget that John Walter can look a great deal more innocent.

A little book by a Baltimoreano with more good ideas in its 124 pages than you will find in 124 bestsellers:

“The Middle Class: a Play.” By J. Rosett, M. D. (Cloth, 50 cents). Published by the author at 150a East Baltimore street.

Though my acknowledgment is somewhat belated, for reasons which need not be gone into here, it is still a pleasure to thank the Hon. William H. Anderson for a jug of prime applejack.

The Legislature will not meet in 1913. Another proof that the 13 superstition is nonsense.

Consider, beloved, the fruits and usufructs of crusading. The vice crusaders start their mad chase of the scarlet woman--and send her scurrying North, East, South and West. For years and years we have kept her in a glided cage, out of sight of the chemically pure. But now she is to be turned loose in our midst, to favor us all with her genial neighborliness. The crusaders have gained an affecting victory--but who is ass enough to say that vice has been overthrown?

Consider, again, the suffragettes, and how their whooping has hurt their cause. Two or three years ago, as the result of a long campaign of education and persuasion, that cause was prospering in Baltimore. Hundreds of Baltimoreans were beginning to believe in its justice. The newspapers, once indifferent and then jeering, were coming over to affability. Shrewd politicians were doing their best to look pleasant. But then appeared the crusading spirit, and with it came extravagance and posturing, sophomoric panacea-preaching and shrill scolding. What is the net result? The net result is that the suffrage jehad is once more a nuisance and a joke.

’Twas ever thus from childhood’s happy hour. The crusader is always a clumsy and unintelligent reformer. Now and then, true enough, the cause he advocates may seem to prosper, but not often does its apparent prosperity work the genuine good or humanity. The local optionists, I dare say, have made fully as many drunkards as they have saved; the private jug, in the last analysis, is a good deal more dangerous than the public bar. And in the same way the vice crusaders of the world have done far more actual damage than the white-slave traders. And the shrieking sisters, not to be forgotten, have chiefly “helped” their cause by solidifying and enraging the opposition.

But all this, of course, doesn’t daunt the crusaders. Even in the presence of overwhelming evidence that they are defeating the very ends they profess to serve their ardor does not diminish. And why should it? The truth is that they care nothing about results: what they are interested in is the chase. In brief, they are sportsmen first and reformers afterward. Their one hot desire is to pursue somebody, to injure somebody, to lock up somebody, to ruin somebody. A state of universal grace is not the aim of their safari, but merely its excuse. Nothing would distress them more than complete and permanent success, just as nothing would distress a lion-hunter more than the unanimous massacre of all the lions in the world.

Fortunately enough, no such complete and permanent scccess is possible. Even if the various crusaders who now raise such a din were to stamp out all the sinners in Baltimore tomorrow, a new crop would appear the day after. The sinner, in other words, is not a distinct species of man, as the lion is a distinct species of animal, but merely an ordinary man turned sinful. All of us are born virtuous. You never hear of a babe in arms breaking the Sabbath or playing poker or being heaved out of a kaif. But the storms of life gradually weaken this pristine purity of character, and so it is difficult to find a grown man who is wholly without sin. Even accepting the unsupported and dubious evidence or those who claim to be, it is probable that not more than one-half of one per cent of the adult males of civilization can qualify.

Therefore, crusading has an unlimited and inexhaustible supply of shining marks. If all the lions in creation were murdered tomorrow, lion-hunting would cease forthwith, for it is impossible for a rabbit to grow into a lion; but if all the sinners of today were led to the gallows, the new crop would begin to blossom in 10 days, and within a year it would overrun the earth. Thus crusading is the most satisfactory of all forms of the chase, for it never diminishes the supply of game. If it were not for that fact, we should no doubt hear demands for some sort of artificial protection. That is to say, the more intelligent crusaders would ask for game laws, just as the duck-hunters have asked for them, and there would be open and closed seasons for the pursuit of saloonkeepers, tobacco-chewers, dope fiends, wine-bibbers, Sabbath-breakers, poker-players, crap-shooters, thestregoers and the ladies of vermilion.

However, all this is no reason for holding crusaders in horror. The most I say against them is that they are human, that they enjoy the same diversions which all of us enjoy, that they are moved by the same sporting instinct which urges the small boy (already a hardened sinner at 5 years!) to hunt the vagrant tomcat with air-rifle and cobblestone. I myself, though far above the average in virtue, have the same weakness. That is to say, I enjoy baiting crusaders almost as much as crusaders enjoy baiting bartenders. It is amusing to see them blush and bear them bark: their make good game because they are game. At any moment they are likely to turn on one and bite one in the ankle--and such a bite may cost one one’s leg. Four ones are four, which is one more than a crowd.

But what would you? Who would give a hoot for a perfectly safe pastime? Or for a perfectly safe life? Those theologians who argue against hell are sad and bilious fellows, and no wonder! If they had their way, they would rob this earthly existence of its hazard, and hence of its joys. The self-respecting man seeks a risk; he wants a run for his money. Which brings us, by a circuitous route, to the one indubitable virtue of crusaders; they promote deviltry by exaggerating its dangers. The local optionist, depicting the villainies of the Rum Demon in words that make eyes bulge and the flesh crawl, challenges the courage of every young man. To retreat in the presence of so horrendous a foe would be womanish and disgusting. And so the majority of us take a nip now and then, if only to show that we are not caitiffs.