Baltimore Evening Sun (23 May 1913): 8.


From the learned Sunpaper of this morning:

Announcement was made at the City Hall yesterday that Sewerage Engineer Hendrick had charged the city $1,000 for his services as consulting engineer on the Fallsway viaduct. * * * As sewerage engineer * * * he receives an annual salary of $10,000.

From Article 4, Section 26, of the Public Local Laws of Maryland (the City Charter):

No person shall at any time hold more than one office yielding pecuniary compensation under the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore.

But what is the City Charter among friends? At the last session of the Legislature an amendment was slipped over providing that “the consulting engineer shall not be regarded as a municipal official within the meaning of Section 26.” By virtue of this benign provision--the invention, I dare say, of the Hon. Sunday-School Field--the Hon. Mr. Hendrick is able to draw two salaries from the city.

The Hon. McCay McCoy is a braver cuss: he punches holes through the charter without the aid of saving amendments. Three times of late he has boldly violated Section 14, which provides that all contracts for more than $500 shall be advertised. His only punishment, to date, is a solemn warning that such doings, if kept up indefinitely, will “bring about a suspicion of favoritism." A suspicion of favoritism! Ye gods and little fishes!

From the “scientific” tract against alcohol distributed by the Hon. William H. Anderson:

Alcohol is not a stimulant to the nervous system, but a depressant.

True enough--but what are the odds? How many men actually use alcohol as a stimulant? Not one in a hundred. A great many, of course, speak of it as a stimulant, but that is no more than proof of their faulty observation and loose thinking. What they really seek by its use is not stimulation, but the opposite of stimulation. They want to be eased, caressed, soothed, made happy. In a word, they want a depressant, which, according to the Century Dictionary, means “a sedative” which, according to the same authority, means “whatever soothes, allays or alleviates; specifically, a medicine or medical appliance which has the property of allaying irritation, irritability or pain.”

I am well aware, of course, that alcohol is commonly regarded as a stimulant, and that, under certain conditions, it actually acts as a stimulant, but in social drinking, as opposed to medicinal and belligerent drinking, its sedative properties are what make it popular and useful. A civilized man takes a drink after his day’s work is done, not in order to be able to do more work, but in order to be able to forget his work--and his troubles with it. His nerves have been made hyperesthetic by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. He is jumpy, restless, irritated, keyed up. He wants to escape from his tortured body and his torturing thoughts. One seidel of gentune Pilsener does the business for him. Wiping the foam from his facial flora, he feels the glow of contentment in his arteries. He is a new man, and what is more, a better man.

This is the great aim and excuse of alcohol: it makes for comfort, ease, a slowing of the physiological tempo. And out of that physiological amelioration there arises a psychic amelioration. The petty woes of life begin to sink back into a rosy fog. The world appears as a measurably decenter place, with measureably decenter people in it. It is not without reason, indeed, that men who would show good will to one another drink to one another in alcohol. It is not without reason that men who would do business with one another find it easier over a glass. The mild sedative makes the human animal pull in his horns a bit. He is less suspicious, less pugnacious, less sensitive to small irritations. In fine, he is more tolerant, more genial, more human.

It is true enough that the feeling of well-being produced by alcohol is largely illusory, that its benign effects are appearances rather than realities. But that is no argument against it, for the effects of those effects still remain real. When two men who have been foes for years meet over a bucket of bock and shake hands, that peace is just an genuine and just as valuable to both of them as if it had been reached by a purely intellectual process. Nine times out of ten, in fact, it is apt to be more so, if only because of its firm grounding in a laudable emotion. The secret of alcohol is that it looses such emotions, that its fettering of the mind gives a chance to the soul. A man with a stiff drink under his belt is less critical of others than that same man cold sober. He is more apt to admit their merits and less apt to brood upon their defects.

He is also, of course, less critical of himself. Feeling good, he is easily persuaded that he is good. But this error, in itself, is not one to be too severely deprecated. The worst thing that can happen to a man is for him to lose faith in himself, and yet that is what is constantly happening to all of us, particularly when we are fatigued. It is only the donkey who is satisifed with his work when it is done. The curse of most of us is that we are disgusted with it. Such disgust is dangerous for two reasons--first, because it is commonly only half justified, and so does us wrong; and, secondly, because it makes for an unhappy, doubtful frame of mind, and so promotes bad work in future. Alcohol washes it away. Alcohol blows it up. Alcohol restores us to a saner, happier way of thinking.

Many men, of course, argue that the effects of alcohol, even admitting them to be real, are degrading--that it is immoral for a man to seek any such way. But the same argument might be used against every other external device for making life more bearable and agreeable--for example, music, kissing, automobiles, tobacco, the electric fan. As a matter of fact, we find that the folks who are most bitterly opposed to alcobol are opposed to these other things too. That is to say, they are ascetics: they hold that it is wrong to attempt any escape from the meaningless cruelties of life. Well, let them play the game according to their own rules. As for me, I prefer to escape whenever I can.

But alcohol is dangerous! It makes slaves of its users! Bosh, my dears! Not one user of alcohol in a thousand ever becomes an alcoholic, even in the loosest sense. Not one man in a thousand who takes a drink to make life better is ass enough to keep on drinking until he makes life worse. A few attacks of katzenjammer are usually sufficient to put discretion into the foolhardy. Most men have been drunk once, but not many men have been drunk a hundred times. The truth is that those who do get drunk a hundred times are simply men without a firm grip upon

[Continued on some fairer day.]