Baltimore Evening Sun (10 July 1913): 6.
The estimable Sunpaper, always so hospitable to bogus moralists, prints the following from some anonymous mush-head:
Note how the Free Lance commends the Weylers, the Lankfords and others of their kind, with all that they stand for. Mark the brutal contempt for the unfortunate, or for the criminals who happen to be negroes. Such writing encourages every brutal man in his place of petty tyranny with his cat-o’-nine-tails and says to every investigating committee, “The press is with you. Get your pot of whitewash ready.”
The usual pious rumble-bumble. Did my defense of the Terrible Weyler result in any whitewashing of him? To be sure it did not. The O’Dunne committee, far from whitewashing him, proceeded against him with the gaudiest dyes in the pharmacopœia, and he emerged from the inquiry as appallingly chromatic as a major-geniral of the Odd Fellows. I argued against this assault to no avail. The insatiable O’Dunne, for all my protests, kept slapping on the scarlets and pea greens with loud whoops, and if the fortunes of war had not insinuated a cake of soap between his feet and the earth, and and so brought him down with a sudden ker-flump, I haven’t the slightest doubt that he would have convinced two-thirds of the people of Baltimore that the Maryland Penitentiary, under the rule of Mr. Weyler, was a sort of branch of the Claremont abattoir. Even as it is, there are stray old maids who still shiver with indignation over all that racking of blackamoors and burglary of bread crumbs. Back in the tall grass, ten miles off the railroad, the tale is still fresh and horrible in the Sunday-schools.
Far be it from me to criticize the Hon. Mr. O’Dunne for this fervor. He is a bad judge for the precise reason that he is an ardent and resourceful lawyer. I have hitherto publicly defended, indeed, his fidelity to his clients. Nor do I denounce Dr. Goldsborough for employing him in so lamentable a business. The good doctor’s first aim, I haven’t the slightest doubt, was to clean out the Penitentiary, and so open a lot of soft jobs for the faithful. But his second motive, one may well assume, was honest sympathy for the lowly Ethiop. That same sympathy has lately revealed itself in other ways–for example, in his Excellency’s thoughtful arrangement for the securing of unearned increments to the Hon. Ned Wilson, the black boss of Somerset. It is such acts of Christian charity, whether at the expense of the public treasury or not, that give a man public respect in a moral community, and plant the seeds of wings in his scapulæ.
Incidentally, it is instructive to observe that the Evening Sunpaper, after accepting the O’Dunne report as gospel for six months or more, now admits discreetly that “certain exaggerations” were in it. Be of good cheer, gents; there is yet hope. Before another year has come and gone, the Hon. Mr. O’Dunne himself will be confessing in open court, with the tears running down his sable halyards, that he put too much faith in the magnificent mendacities of the Hon. Charles S. Henry, one of the most gifted liars in Christendom. I have faith in this Mr. O’Dunne. Hils public recantation and repentance will be as affecting, though perhaps in a smaller way, as the conversion of the Hon. William H. Anderson. Imagine the scene when the Rev. Dr. Billy Sunday pauses for wind, and the Hon. Mr. Anderson goes galloping up the aisle, and throws himself upon the pyramid of collection plates and ex-drunkards’ jugs, and admits with trembling voice his diabolical tempting of the pastors!
However, don’t be impatient! The Hon. Mr. Anderson, I regret to report, is not yet ready to beg for mercy. On the contrary, he is still defending himself with rare pertinacity and impudence. His first defense, as I recall it, was that the whole thing was a joke, that he dangled that bribe before the rev. clergy in a purely sportive spirit. Next he argued that the offer could not have been immoral, for many holy men accepted it. Then he began maintaining that it was not secret, that the church boards knew all about it in advance. A day or two later, unless I report him inaccurately, he argued that it was not a bribe, for fellow-servants cannot bribe one another. And yesterday, so my secretary tells me, he printed still another defense in the hospitable Evening Sunpaper. Well, well, let him go on a bit longer. In the end, I haven’t the slightest doubt, his conscience will resume business at the old stand, and he will confess in open meeting.
The Sunpaper, to go back to our muttons, takes great credit to itself for having aided Dr. Goldsborough in his virtuous crusades against the Hon. Messrs. Weyler and Lankford. But what it overlooks is that both crusades, as crusades, have failed miserably--that the Hon. Mr. Weyler, despite all the advance notices of his indictment and incarceration, is still at large upon our streets and in excellent public repute, and that the Hon. Mr. Lankford, after a searching trial, has been acquitted with honor and retained in his job. What has been accomplished by the attack upon these men? Nothing whatever. If reforms are instituted in the Penitentiary and the House of Correction they will be instituted in spite of these unwarranted accusations and not because of them.
Let us assume, of course, the Sunpaper’s perfect good faith. It was deceived by the caressing words and sepulchural aspect of Dr. Goldsborough--by his nightly triumphs on the moral stump. Let it be more careful next time. Let it remember that a politician is always a politician, even when he is an amateur evangelist. In particular, let it keep a wary eye upon the Police Department, now in process of perunization under the pious doctor’s auspices. The purpose of the Police Department is to preserve the public security, to protect us against the lawless. That purpose is defeated, as we all know by past experience, when the chief officials of the department are puppets in the hands of political wire-pullers. It is equally defeated when they are the willing or unwilling agents of irresponsible fanatics, each with a sure-cure that he wants to ram down the public gullet and an enemy that he wants to knock out.
Anonymous but extremely sagacious contribution to yesterday’s Letter Column:
Comparing the culture of these two men, Mencken and Anderson, judging by their writings, as we don’t know either of them personally, we must come to the conviction that Mr. Mencken is by far the superior of Mr. Anderson.
Oh, let me like a boomer fall upon some buttery field!
Boil your drinking water! Watch for Anderson’s next deviltry! A Chautauqua salute for the Hon. Young Cochran! Swat the fly!