Baltimore Evening Sun (13 March 1913): 6.


Every lover of the true, the good and the beautiful must be much affected by the Hot Towel’s valiant struggle for chemical purity within the Democratic party. It applies the acid to each new candidate for the Senatorship: he must be strictly colytic or it will gave nothing to do with him.

An anonymous suffragette in yesterday’s Letter Column:

Mr. Mencken’s thrusts in the Free Lance sometimes border on the offensive.

Can it be? If so, I hasten to offer a blanket apology. My one aim is to soothe and flatter. My one dream is to die to the music of universal sobbing, and to lie under a monument erected by anti-vivisectionists and anti-vaccinationists, Christian Scientists and osteopaths, perunists and booze hounds, New Thoughters and Lord’s Day Alliancers, vice crusaders and theatre censors, chiropractors and coffee millionaires.


[From the New York Sun.] It seems that as to the social evil the aim of the Pittsburgh Moral Efficiency Commission is “gradual restriction leading to ultimate elimination.” The date of the “elimination” cannot be set a moment before the millennium. Meanwhile the efforts of this excellent body of censors toward “gradual restriction” have admittedly resulted in an increase of street walking. What is the gain? Vice is shifted, made more publicly present and offensive; that seems to be all. ——— Extracts from a letter sent to the Evening News on April 6, 1910, by the Rev. Dr. J. E. Cook, pastor of Fulton Avenue Presbyterian Church:

There appeared in the columns of your paper yesterday, under big headlines, some statements concerning Mr. Price and Mr. Moorehead, of W. B. Price & Co., which were absolutely incorrect. These gentlemen are members of the church of which I have the honor of being pastor, and I feel it incumbent upon me to say a word or two in their behalf. * * * No pastor ever had more faithful attendants upon his ministry than they, and I want to bear witness to their absolute integrity and sincerity in all their service for the church. Strangers who do not know these gentlemen would, from the newspaper accounts, at once gain the impression that they were crooked in their business transactions and were using the church for a cloak. Nothing could he further from the truth than such an impression. No more honorable, honest and upright men have ever done business in this city. * * * So far as their church is concerned, I want to say in the very strongest, unqualified language that there isn’t a member on our roll who knows these gentlemen whose confidence in their absolute integrity and honesty has been shaken a single moment. We who know them believe in them, and feel certain they will be cleared of any charge of dishonesty in the trouble to which they now find themselves. It gives me unbounded pleasure to write this word of testimony in their behalf, and I most earnestly request that you publish this letter in justice to them, that the public may not gain a wrong impression concerning their characters.

On Tuesday last. before Justice Stafford in Washington, W. B. Price, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty to violating the bucketshop laws and was fined $1,000.

The Hon. William H. Anderson’s sinister reluctance to join the anti-cigarrette crusade is a source of great grief to those of us who bave consecrated our efforts to the cause—not because we stand in pressing need of the hon. gent’s heat and eloquence, but simply because we lament to see so accomplished a moralist on the side of sin. As he himself has so often argued and so often proved, it is impossible, in moral matters, to steer a middle course. All persons, for example, who are not actively in favor of local option are opposed to it, and all persons who are opposed to it are lushers and loose livers, and all lushers and loose livers are abhorrent to the chemically pure. And by the same token it is impossible to keep hands off the cigarette without condoning it. The Hon. Mr. Anderson, by his unpardonable hesitation, has made the cigarette sellers glad. Seek out the white-faced, palsied victims of the accursed coffin-nail, dig them up from their wallows in kaif, prison, rathskeller and haunt of vice, and you will find them burbling a wild, dionysian Andersoniad.

Such is the lamentable effect of one man’s obstinacy, of one man’s hunkerous opposition to all that is true, beautiful and pure! But though Anderson may thus attempt to shield the cigarette, there are other brave men who fight it to the death, and from these I get a constant and copious stream of literature. One of them, for example, is Dr. D. H. Kress, general secretary of the Anti-Cigarette League of America, an inspired and passionate prophet of the New Virtue, a near-Levering, a super-Hook, a Rev. Dr. W. W. Davis in altissimo. Dr. Kress, in a pamphlet now before me, announces the discovery that cigarette smoke is full of furfural, a poison more horrid than hashish, even more horrid than caffeine. This furfural, it appears, is an aldehyde, which is a sort of mixture, I believe, of ptomaines, ground glass and streptococci. Hear Dr. Kress:

To aldehydes the poisonous effects of crude, immature whiskey are ascribed. The furfural contained in the smoke of even one cigarette is as much as is present in two fluid ounces of whisky.

And furfural—from the Greek word furfurfurfur, signifying the sound made by a man choking upon a hot potato–is peculiar to cigarette smoke. As Dr. Kress says, “only a trace” of it is found in pipe smoke, and “it is altogether absent in [from?] the smoke of the cigar.” Its presence, indeed, is the very thing that gives cigarette smoking its singular sting, and produces “the strange infatuation it exerts over its devotees.” In brief, the cigarette smoker, like the coffee drinker, dallies perilously with a habit-forming drug. At any moment it may master him. And what is worse, it may lead him to the use of other drugs—for example, rum. Hence the liquor evil. Hence crime. * * * But the Hon. William H. Anderson holds off!

Public accusations against the estimable Towson Union and News:

  1. All its pious yowling about mythical debaucheries at Back River is part of a diabolical campaign against Uncle Fred.
  2. It is a disingenuous and chicanerous political time-server, infit for perusal at the domestic hearth.
  3. It is badly printed on cheap paper and is full of typographical errors.
  4. It prints more high leads and pie lines than any other paper in Christendom.
  5. Its body type is worn out and archaic, and the blankets of its Washington hand-press need a shave.

The Hon. William H. Anderson is going to the Concord Club bal masque as a Fransiskanerbraeuhauptausschank kellnerin. His bottle-holder, the Hon. Charlie Levister, will appear as a converted Bavarian yodler.—Adv.

H. L. Mencken