Baltimore Evening Sun (6 February 1913): 6.
Sentimental remark of the Hon. Jacobus Hook:
Countess ------, whom I met in Munich, I shall never forget.
A word of warning to a young and unsophisticated man: Beware of Munich countesses! There is not a kellnerin in that fair city who does not claim some title or other, just as there is not a chorus girl in New York who doesn’t claim to be a convent graduate and a fugitive from our own haw tong. I have met alleged convent girls in New York who said “I would have went” and changed “third” into “thoid,” and in the same way I have met alleged countesses in Munich who changed “maedchen” into “mad’l” and made the following sound in walking:
For example, there was Graefin Tilli von Pulvermacher, captain of the biermadln at the Franziskanerbraeuausschank in the Friedrichjosefstrasse. Again, there was Freifrau Fritzi von und zu Oberhimmeldorf, who passed the sliced radishes at the Mathaeserbraeugarten and was said to smoke cigars in the privacy of the scullery. But no more of these painful remininscences. All I want to do is to warn Colonel Jacobus that he had better not put too much confidence in Munich countesses. Unless he sees them in actual service at the K. Residenz, wearing their coronets and dancing with generals, he will do well to doubt their quarterings.
My earnest and eloquent but somewhat copious friend, the Rev. Dr. John Roach Straton, returns to the cure of my soul in today’s Letter Column, going over again and at great length, his reasons for maintaining that evil is evil. A magnificent demonstration, and one that wipes out the stray doubts lingering in me. But after all, I cannot bring myself to regard it as new, and what is more, I cannot bring myself to regard most of it as pertinent.
What the good doctor forgets, and the majority of our local Savonarolas and Pecksniffs with him, is that the thing questioned is not his diagnosis, but his remedy. When he argues that the social evil is dangerous, that it causes an appalling wrecking of health and happiness, that the world would be better off without it, then every sane man, I dare say, is with him. But when, after first stating its stupendous virulence and showing its pertinacious resistance to treatment, he proposes to cure it gayly with a single pill, then most wholly sane men, I believe, favor him with a small snicker.
No one has maintained, so far as I know, that segregation stamps out prostitution. No one, going further, has even maintained that it brings prostitution to an irreducible minimum. But what many intelligent and honest men do maintain is that it is vastly better than the pill of Dr. Straton--that the remedy he proposes to administer is a quack remedy, that it will not cure the disease, that it will do a great deal more damage than good. This is the case against Dr. Straton and his friends. This is the case against all quackery.
Of Dr. Straton’s “experts” I have heard before. They are constantly quoted by Dr. Janney, the Hon. Mr. Pentz and other such members of their lodge. Some of them, having a certain discretion, content themselves with maintaining that segregation will not stamp out the social evil. No one so argues. Others, more fancifuk, try to prove that dispersion will. And gow do they prove it? By pointing to London, Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles. It is to laugh. Worse, it is to weep.
Alas, I have no faith such evidence. I dispute their statements of fact and I dispute their conclusions. I know, and you know, and every other reasonably intelligent man knows that Chicago, for all the effort of the crusaders, has not been cleaned up, that there are still plenty of prostitutes in Los Angeles, that the theatre district of London is one vast brothel. The danger in such crusades is that they give a false feeling of security, that they put pious bosh into the mouths of crusaders elsewhere. The advantage of segregation is that it keeps the seriousness of the problem before us and transfers the effort to reach its ultimate solution from idle windjammers to men of sense.
Dr. Straton, I am led to believe, takes himself and his mission very seriously. He has, and perhaps with some justification, a high notion of the public importance of his views. But let me caution him against being too hard upon the men who happen to stand against him. Let me warn him that he makes himself absurd when he questions the good faith of Captain Logan, Mr. Grgurevich, Mr. Grannan and Father Connelly. These men are not star performers before the woman’s clubs. They do not pose in the limelight. They have no messianic delusions. But they have done hard and useful work in the heat of the day, and to me, at least, it seems an indecency to question their honesty.
As for Dr. Straton’s method of dealing with my own writings, I leave connoisseurs to judge. He protests in today’s letter that he has not accused me of defending drunkenness and prostitution, and yet I find this sentence in his letter of February 1:
He sees only the trade value of keeping up interest in his column, and by his own indulgence is warped in his judgment through the necessity of defending the evils to salve his own conscience.
Again, in the first paragraph following his denial today, he argues that I am “prostituted in defending evil,” and the rest of his letter is an amplification of that charge.
The trouble with Dr. Straton, of course, is very simple. He labors under a delusion of his own infallibility. He has obvious faith in the efficary of anathema. He pits his dignity as a pulpit prima donna against the honest striving and patient inquiry of less gorgeous men. But I doubt that the people of Baltimore will take him at quite his own value. They may be misled temporarily, but in the long run, I am firmly convinced, they will see the abysmal difference between the sort of Christianity that Dr. Straton preaches and the sort that Captain Logan practices.
Boil your drinking water! Cover your garbage can! Forget smallpox until the next time!
Colonel Hook will go to the Concord Club’s mask ball as Mary Queen of Scots. The Hon. Dan Loden will appear as Marguerite Gautier.--Adv.
Change of method reported by the official Towel:
MAYOR LAUGHS AT HIS CRITICS.
Advice respectfully offered to his hon. gent:
Weep and the town weeps with you; laugh and you laugh alone.