Baltimore Evening Sun (24 February 1913): 6.


The cigarette! The cigarette! The felon’s joy! The sinner’s pet! The darling of the suffragette!

Dr. A. R. Blessing, of Gapland, Md., the new pope of the medical freedomists, continues his attack upon vaccination in today’s Letter Column. On the one hand he estab lishes his own authority by stating that he was graduated from the University of Maryland in 1891, though without giving any account of his subsequent studies. On the other hand, he mentions five foes to vaccination who are of “equal, if not greater authority” than Dr. William H. Welch and Prof. Dr. Paul Ehrlich. These gentlemen are Dr. Kalb, “of the Royal Statistical Commission of Bavaria;” Dr. L. Joseph Kelley, “physician-in-chief of the Austrian railroads;” Dr. C. T. Pearce, “registrar-general of England;” Dr. William Nash, “brigadier-general in the British army,” and Dr. Herrmann, “principal physician of the Imperial Hospital at Vienna.”

By a curious coincidence, not one of these authorities is known to the compilers of reference books. Search “Who’s Who” from end to end, and you will find no mention of Drs. Pearce and Nash. Go through “Wer Ist’s,” the German “Who’s Who,” from cover to cover, and you will not find Drs. Kalb, Kelley and Herrmann. But you will find all the genuine pathologists of Europe in either the one or the other of the two books. You will find Drs. Ehrlich, Metchnikoff, von Behring, Wright, Mueller and Osler. And you will also find, if you inquire into it, that all of these indubitable authorities believe in vaccination—and not only for smallpox, but also for typhoid and other diseases.

In brief, Dr. Blessing’s “authorities” are all of the preposterous sort that anti-vaccinationists, anti-vivisectionists, New Thoughters, Christian Scientists and other such wind-jammers constantly put upon the stand. That is to say, they are either long since dead, or they are utterly unknown to scientific pathology. Go back far enough, and you will find plenty of authorities—and high ones, at that—arrayed against every theory and device that enters into modern medicine. You will find overwhelming “proofs” that malaria is caused by miasmas, that laparotomy is impossible, that hydrophobia may be cured with madstones, that the insane are possessed by devils. But no intelligent physician accepts such testimony today. And neither does he accept the testimony of the bogus Welches and Ehrlichs brought forward by the medical freedomists.

Dr. Blessing confesses that all the knowledge he has of medicine was obtained at the University of Maryland. So be it: I do not question the standing of the University of Maryland. But if the good doctor will find a single member of the present facility of physic there who agrees with his attitude toward scientific medicine, or a single interne in the University Hospital, or a single second-year medical student, or a single nurse or orderly in the wards, then I promise to make a public apology to him, and to trouble him no more. How, for example, does Dr. Ernest Zueblin stand? Is he with Welch and Ehrlich, or with Kalb and Nash? And how about Dr. Eugene F. Cordell? And Dr. Harry Adler? And Dr. Randolph Winslow? And Dr. Thomas A. Ashby? And Dr. John C. Hemmeter? And Drs. Gilchrist, Gichner, Hundley, Martin, Spruill, Taylor, Smith, Mitchell and Chew? Let Dr. Blessing trot out the witnesses in his own house.

As for his sneers at my own participation in this discussion, let him hold them for a better occasion. I am no chirurgeon. Whether the proper dose of morphine is a sixth of a grain or six grains I’m sure I don’t know. Whenever I go into an operating room and try to cut off a patient’s leg, the very nurses shriek with mirth. But all the same it is perfectly possible for me to hold, as a layman not officially insane, that Dr. Welch’s opinion upon a medical question is worth vastly more than Dr. Blessing’s, or than that of any other misguided defender of mob-rule in medicine, and to that opinion I propose to stick until sound and serious evidence is brought against it.

Of the 8,754 Sunday-school superintendents who have been jailed in the United States during the past four years, 8,623 ascribe their downfall to the licentious cigarette.—Adv.

That anonymous Citizen who inquires in today’s Letter Column what for I regard the Key Monument as a banality is invited (a) to go out to Eutaw place and look at the monument, and (b) to consult the definition of “banality” in any good dictionary. Let him observe, in particular, the metallic lady roosting upon the apex of the structure—that fair lady who seems to be hanging out the wash in a gale of wind. And let him observe, secondly, the elaborate pedestal upon which she roosts, with its strong suggestions of a malted milk booth at a church bazar. And let him observe, thirdly, the insane navigation of the boatmen at the base—rowing almost full tilt, and upon a rough sea, into a solid rock. And let him note, finally, that “banal” means trivial, commonplace, brummagem, ginger-bready, uninspired, vulgar, bromidic.

But though I may thus object to the actual aspect of the Key Monument, I do not go so far as to object to its appropriateness. On the contrary, it seems to me to represent very fairly the poetic gift of the Hon. Mr. Key, and in particular, the merit of his most famous composition. “The Star-Spangled Banner,” indeed, is itself one of the world’s great masterpieces of banality, and you must go to the works of J. Fenimore Cooper, Oliver Optic and Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth to find its match. It is couched in the inflated language of a high school essay; it preaches, in part at least, a doctrine that is absurd and nonsensical; and of the two claims it makes for the American people, one is not true and the other is so vainglorious that no self-respecting folk should be asked to voice it.

One indubitable merit, of course, “The Star-Spangled Banner” possesses; it is redeemed by a sonorous and excellent poetic epithet. I allude to that epithet which serves as its title. To call the flag “the star-spangled banner” was a genuine inspiration; it substituted a striking and gorgeous phrase for a mere word; it stimulated powerfully the imagination of the American people. What is better still, it headed off other and less decorous epithets—for example, “the bed tick,” a name that is commonly applied to the flag in foreign ports. The American people are naturally vulgar: they would have adopted “the bed tick” with joy. But “the star-spangled banner,” with its strong appeal to their emotions, stood in the way.