Baltimore Evening Sun (14 October 1913): 6.


From the Sunpaper’s report of last night’s autumn maneuvres at the Maryland Theatre:

Among the civilian guests was City Collector Jacob W. Hook.

Civilian your grandmother! Col. Hook has a military record that Gargantua himself might have been proud of. He has eaten 30 canvasback ducks in 30 days, and made nine speeches in one night. He has stood upon the deck of a battleship with the dead piled waist-high around him—cool, brave, eloquent, magnificent. A civilian! Pish! The Colonel is worth an Army corps of civilians!

What has became, by the way, of dear old Archdeacon Wegg, the Belair Tertullian? Not a word from him since the horse breeders moved from moral Havre de Grace to moral Laurel.

Why not give it up, gents? The fight is lost. The Hon. William H. Anderson has got the Rum Demon at the ropes and will presently knock him clear out of the ring. Bribery is a dead art in our fair city.—Pessimistic Adv.

ISAAC AND D’HARRY. And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who?—Genesis, xxvii, 33. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.—Genesis, xxvii, 30.

The Hon. Anthony Comstock’s recent raid upon the lair of the Hon. Mitchell Kennerley, a New York publisher, promises to give the celebrated smuthound more excitement than he has had for many a day, for instead of submitting tamely, as is the want of harassed publishers, Kennerley is making plans for a vigorous resistance, and the betting odds in the coffee-houses are now running in his favor. The bone of contention is a novel called “Hagar Revelly,” by Dr. Daniel Carson Goodman, a St. Louis physician. Anthony alleges that this novel has shocked him from stem to stern, and is loud in his demands that both Kennerley and Goodman be sent to the hulks. But by one of the inimitable jokes of fate, a number of moral endeavorers of very high standing are equally sure that it is a moral book, and when the trial comes off he will find them arrayed against him. One of them is Miss Ida Tarbell, and another, if I do not err, is Judge Ben B. Lindsey, of Denver. It will be stimulating and edifying to see these great moralists at the grapple.

I have read “Hagar Revelly” from cover to cover, but fail to find anything alarming in it. Put beside the average issue of the Maryland Suffrage News, it is a highly orthodox and decorous composition. It purports to tell the story of a working girl who takes the primrose path of dalliance—a path, by the way, with quite as many weeds on it as primroses—and its chief aim seems to be to contradict the bosh emitted on the subject by the vice crusaders, minimum wage gladiators and other such staccati chautauquans of the uplift. The chapter which especially shocks dear old Anthony is one in which there is some talk of what the newspapers so euphemistically denominate a criminal operation. But inasmuch as this criminal operation is never performed, and therefore never described, it seems probable that the venerable obscenophobe will find it difficult to convey his horror to a jury of sane men.

It so happens that I enjoy the acquaintance of this Dr. Goodman, and that I can testify to his sincerity and decency. He is an M. D. of the University of Vienna, and a physician of impeccable standing. The tone of his book is serious from end to end, and he is always at great pains to avoid the slightest appearance of indecency. There is not a word in the story to offend the pruderies of any civilized adult. It deals, true enough, with a somewhat disagreeable subject, but it deals with it throughout in a cleanly and ungiggling manner. IT is no more like “Three Weeks,” “Love’s Shop Window” and other such popular shockers than Dreiser’s “Sister Carrie” is like them. The whole tone of the book, indeed, is well indicated by its dedication: the doctor inscribes it to his mother.

But the sensitive Anthony—what a damp and hyperæsthetic nose he has!—is horrified by it, and so the Hon. Mr. Kennerley must face a trial in court, and meet the bills of his learned barristers. To this risk and annoyance every American publisher lies open at all times, with no redress under our law. Even supposing that he gives Comstock a drubbing in court—a thing which often happens—he has still the heavy expenses of the action to pay, and there is no provision for indemnifying him—in brief, every publisher in America must be prepared to submit, without legal escape or remedy, to harassment and loss at the hands of a notorious and irresponsible fanatic. No wonder it is difficult to get a first-rate book printed in this country! No wonder the general tone of American, letters is that of the English Bow Bells and the German Gartenlaube! No wonder Richard Harding Davis is our leading author and Hamilton Wright Mabie our leading critic!

The mountebankeries of the Hon. Mr. Comstock are commonly taken humorously by the newspapers, and so their serious effect upon our national art and literature is overlooked. That effect is not only direct but also indirect. In every American city, large or small, there is a village Comstock, a one-horse provincial Anthony. Here in Baltimore, for example, we have the Hon. Eugene Levering, whose absurd attack upon “September Morn” is still well remembered. On the surface, of course, these zealous and ridiculous gentlemen seldom do much visible damage. It is not often that they find a jury as silly as they are themselves. But indirectly they the damage they inflict is incalculable. They convert our authors into platitudinizers and our artists into daubers of tea-store chromos. They terrorize our publishers, both of books and of periodicals. They make bitter war upon every manifestation of honest artistic striving that appears among us. Aiming ostensibly at corruption, they shoot their poisoned darts through truth and beauty.

Daily record of my potations, for the archives of the Anti-Saloon League and the Society for the Suppression of Vice:

Monday Two cups of coffee.

The betting odds in the Sunday schools, as reported by the Hon. Sunday-school Field, LL. D.:

10 to 7 that the Hon. William H. Anderson puts over the local option bill.

Personal appeal to the Hon. William H. Anderson: Leave us one kaif in every ward! Don’t hit us while we are down! Be merciful!