Baltimore Evening Sun (25 October 1913): 6.
Warning to the Hon. William H. Anderson: Beware! Watch out! Pas auf! An awful plot is being hatched! The betting odds in the kaifs have jumped to 5 to 3 against you!
The news that Anthony Comstock, that venerable smuthound, has decided to suppress the Suffragette, the official organ of the militants, comes just in time to help the sale of his “authorized biography.” This curious work, from the pen of the Hon. Charles Gallaudet Trumbull, an ardent disciple, is now on the book stalls, and all connoisseurs of moral endeavor will find it juicy and edifying reading. It was written under the eye of Anthony himself, and its ecstatic greasing of him may be fairly accepted as in accord with his own notions of his merit. From end to end there runs the proud humility of one on confidential terms with the Creator. Every time Anthony throws some one into jail, it is by the direct behest of the Almighty. And every time he escapee punishment himself, it is by Divine interference. An archangel in sidewhiskers! A geheimrat of Heaven!
The hon. gent. was born, it appears, at New Canaan, Conn., on March 7, 1844, and began his moral career at the age of 18 by shooting a mad dog in the nearby village of Winnipauk. After an honorable service in the Civil War, in the course of which he rose to the rank of private, he became a drygoods salesman in New York. It was in 1868 that he made his first actual raid. The initial victim was one Charles Conroy, a publisher of obscene books--that is, Comstock says they were obscene. Conroy went to jail, and after him went several other publishers. The whisper went round in moral circles--and also, one fancies, in circles not moral at all–that a new live wire from Connecticut was in town. The science of Comstockery dawned.
But during this first phase, good Anthony had two handicaps upon him, the first being lack of means and the second being lack of suitably virulent legislation. The first was quickly remedied by certain ancients of moral fervor--among them, Morris R. Jesup, William E. Dodge and Henry R. Jones. These old fellows, all of them hot to jail as many sinners an possible, formed a sort of underwriting syndicate to back the new virtuoso, and out of that syndicate grew the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, the papa of our own pious camorra of the same name. With plenty of money behind them, Comstock now proceeded to the purification of the human race upon a wholesale scale, and soon he was grabbing sinners with both hands and keeping two or three courts busy with his cases
But the laws were still inadequate to his needs, a good many of his victims got off, and some of them even defied him. Accordingly, he addressed himself to the arduous task of obtaining laws of a greater virtue and ferocity, and after a long, long fight he succeeded. On March 3, 1873, encouraged by his big stick, Congress passed the postal law which now adorns the books–a statute prohibiting the mailing of obscene literature, but conveniently neglecting to defino obscenity. This statute has been Comstock’s standby ever since. Under it he can institute the prosecution of any publisher who attracts his baleful eye, including even a publisher of Bibles, and under it he has diligently and enthusiastically done so. Very often, of course, he has failed in the end, for juries sometimes succumb to the suggestions of the devil. But fully five times out of ten he has succeeded, and today the fear of him is in every publisher’s heart. Mention his name in publishing circles, and every hearer thereof goes pale. He is a permanent and paralyzing bugaboo.
Mr. Trumbull gives an interesting summary of his hero’s work during 40 years. Unfortunately enough, the figures of the hon. gent. do not always agree with themselves. On page 157, for example, he says that Anthony has brought 2,713 culprits to trial since 1872, and that 98½ per cent. of them have been convicted, but on page 239 he gives the total number of arrests as 2,646 and the number of convictions as 2,682, which works out to but 73 per cent. Be that as it may, the figures are still very impressive. “If all the persons he has arrested were to be transported,” says the Hon. Mr. Trumbull, “61 passenger coaches would be needed, each with a seating capacity of 60 persons--60 cars filled, and the other nearly full.” Marvelous, indeed! And along with these arrests, he has destroyed 60 tons of books, 28,425 pounds of stereotypo plates, 16,900 photographic negatives and 3,984,063 photographs. Alas, for poor Anthony: Paris is still turning out those photographs by the million! Every incoming ship brings a consignment of them; every returning Sunday-school superintendent has a few of them in his inside pocket!
Let me advise you to buy and read this “authorized biography” of the emperor of moralists. Put beside him, our own best scourgers of sin shrink to mere pin-points. The Hon. Samuel E. Pentz is a wart in the mighty shadow of Ossa; even the Hon. Charles J. Bonaparte begins to shrink and look sick. Say what you will against him, belabor and revile him as you choose, you must still admit a certain hearty masculinity in him. He is no puling cry-baby, surrounded by sympathizing old maids of both sexes. He is not a cheap grafter, a moralist for revenue only. He does not shake down the Sunday-schools. He does not try to touch the hearts and pocketbooks of suckers with tales of conspiracies against him. On the contrary, he is a hearty old buck with many likeable qualities, and if he hadn’t taken to malignant morality in his youth he would have made a genial and popular saloonkeeper. Even his victims have a sneaking respect for him.
Subscribe to the Maryland Suffrage News! No fashion hints! No “woman’s page”! All the latest vice reports!--Adv.
From the private bibilography of a sub-Levering:
Friday. Two cups of coffee.
Not a drop of mail since Monday! But tonight’s the night! Mach’ geschwind, Harvey! Zehn Uhr punkt!
Dr. Goldsborough to the oystermen of Cambridge:
My enemies have seen fit to misrepresent me.
What, another poor martyr! The woods are now full of them. Why not an annual convention, with the Hon. Dashing Harry in the chair?
Warning to the suffragettes: Beware of offers of support from the so-called Progressives! Steer clear of the party of Sulzer! The vice crusaders have cost you thousands of votes; don’t be stung again!
Read the Maryland Suffrage News, the juiciest and liveliest of all our weeklies! Some scoundrel put to death in every issue!–Adv.