Baltimore Evening Sun (20 June 1913): 6.
The most carefully and intelligently managed of local institutions are the following:
The Enoch Pratt Free Library. The Maryland Penitentiary. The Federated Charities. The United Railways.
By a curious coincidence, it is precisely these institutions which never get anything but denunciations from the great masses of the plain people.
I care not what course others may take, but as for me, give me a newspaper which prints no portraits of babies suffering from lupus, furunculosis and eczema capitas, and is not forever shaking down the public for some sentimental charity. I mention no names--but the Evening Serviette, daughter of the Towel, is not the paper I mean. The Serviette attends strictly to the legitimate business of a public gazette. It prints the news under dignified headlines, it caresses the midriff with the cavortings of M.utt and Jeff, and it woos the cerebrum with editorials written by the same diverting gentlemen. Further than that it does not go. It does not entertain those of us who are detained in town all summer, scratching hard for a living, with affecting pictures of the Persian luxuries enjoyed by paupers on fresh-air farms, nor does it cadge us for the expenses of that dead-head dalliance, nor does it fill the streets with wiskinskis of tender years, to the impediment of traffic and the annoyance of the virtuous. Again, it does not adorn its columns with large zinc etchings of the babies aforesaid--beings of a species unbeautiful enough in health, but wholly revolting in the more advanced stages of anæmia, arterio-sclerosis and psoriasis gyrata ophiasis. It has never, so far as I know, printed a portrait of an infant resembling a soft crab. It has never argued that the artificial preservation of such poor little innocents, with all their heavy burden of inherited malaises, is necessary to the honor and dignity of the human race.
Of all such violations of good taste and good sense the estimable Serviette is guiltless, and so I venture to thank it publicly, and to recommend it to all persons whose inclination is not toward sobs and who object to having emetics smuggled into them with the day’s news. For prudential reasons I mention no names. Discretion is the better part of any holler. But in common fairness I must add that the Evening News, what with Goldberg, the pious advertisements of the Hon. Young Cochran and the excellent matter on its editortal page, is otherwise a very able and entertaining journal, and that the Evening Sunpaper, if only it would abandon sentimentality and morbid anatomy, would be quite fit to take into the home.
From Toledo comes a hint which the local matadors of morality might adopt with profit. The poor couples who do their courting in the public parks out there are now pursued nightly by snouters in automobiles. Each automobile is fitted with a searchlight on a pivot, and one of its crew of archangels carries a photographic camera and a flashlight apparatus. Whenever the searchlight reveals a couple in the lascivious act of holding hands, the automobile is run up and an effort is made to take a flashlight photograh. Sometimes an actual kiss to thus registered on the film. The resultant photographs are handed ’round among the virtuosi of virtue, to the agreeable horror of those plupious fellows. Why not the same scheme in Baltimore? Or, better still, its adaptation to Back River and the red-light district?
Despite the alarmed protest of the Hon. Eugene Levering, that great and good man, the Babylonish picture called “September Morn” is still on shameless exhibition in the window of Eichelberger’s book store. This closes North Charles street to the moral traffic of the hon. gent. Desiring to proceed from the Washington Monument to his banking office, he must now travel eastward on Madison street to Broadway, and down Broadway to the water front, and then come up the harbor to the foot of South street in a rowboat. Such are the burdens laid upon the chemically pure by the ribaldries of this libidinous age!
In today’s Letter Column, the Hon. William H. Anderson, professor of moral philosophy to the Anti-Saloon League, defends his recent scandalous letter to the clergy of Baltimore by arguing that it could not have been secret and sinister, as I alleged on June 10, for its substance had been published in the newspapers before it was sent. Inured to chicanery and the intimate of all the leading sophists, I yet blush in the presence of such a bold effort to deceive. The truth is, of course, that its substance was not so published--that is, not until it was printed in this place. What the hon. gent. gave to the public was a perfectly lawful suggestion that the churches send their clergy to the Anti-Saloon League convention. What he suggested to the clergy was that they join him in a disingenuous and “confidential” scheme to delude and trick the churches into coming across. Thus:
If you will send us CONFIDENTIALLY the name of the secretary of the proper board or committee, we will write a personal letter to him, to be brought up for official action, urging that your church * * * send you to Columbus. We will, of course, protect you by making it clear that you did not even indirectly suggest this.
Such a proposal, made by the todsaufer of a brewery to a bartender, would cause a public scandal and lead to a prosecution under the corrupt practices act. But the Hon. Mr. Anderson, making it shamelessly to men charged with the cure of souls, now has the lamentable effrontery to defend its morality! I blench with astonishment and weep with sorrow. Can it be that such morals are sound morals, that they are approved by the Hon. Eugene Levering, that they are ratified at the Y. M. C. A., that they are recommended to the youth of our fair city? Can it be that preachers who go in for such reprehensible arts still preach the Decalogue from public pulpits?
Alas, I hope not. What is more, I am convinced that the Hon. Mr. Anderson will not defend his course on sober second thought. I have consulted a dozen bartenders, hack drivers and faro-dealers, and one and all they tell me that such thimble-rigging is universtally frowned upon by moralists, even in the underworld. If I thought for a moment that the hon. gent. actually felt himself virtuous in this matter, I should at once engage a whole regiment of the Salvation Army to wrestle with him day and night in eight-hour shifts, to the end that he might be purged of his wickedness and brought up to grace. The moral collapse of such a man, otherwise so estimable, is a sad and even tragic spectacle. It would scarcely grieve me more to see Col. Jacobus Hook become a Sunday-school superintendent.