Baltimore Evening Sun (15 November 1913): 6.
Connoisseurs of juridic behavior will observe the carer of the Hon. Morris A. Soper, C. J., with the utmost interest. A man of education, intelligence and good intentions, and, if my legal advisers do not lie, a lawyer of considerable talents, his one outstanding weakness is a touch of Puritanism, a flavor of moral snobbery. He goes to the bench with a curious distinction: he is the first of our judges ever to have had his common sense formally questioned by a grand jury. The archangels of the Pentz Society, having been his employers in the past and having obtained singular favors at his hands more recently, will undoubtedly hail his appointment as an event divinely inspired. It is sincerely to be hoped (and reasonably to be expected) that this rejoicing will swiftly melt into general satisfaction with the new Judge. The people of Baltimore have but lately expressed their opinion of malignant morality. It would be lamentable if they had to do it all over again on the Tuesday following the first Monday of November, 1916.
Raising funds for the proposed community Christmas celebration seems to be a slow and parlous job. The money is coming in, not by the golden eagle, but by the copper cent, and if the present rate of subscription is not quickly increased, there will be a shortage of more than 50 per cent. Not all the eloquence of the Sunpaper, nor even the august imprimatur of the Hon. D. Harry, seems sufficient to stir up the animals. As a matter of fact, the space the Sunpaper has given to the business is already worth four or five times as much as the money taken in. Unless the Hon. Mr. Harry meets the deficit out of his contingent fund, or the Job Hounds make an appropriation payable in 1914 (and risk a nasty taxpayer’s suit), the scheme will probably go into bankruptcy.
Well, well--who is surprised? No one, I take it, who knows the nature of the Baltimorean. We are far from a stingy people, but we are equally far from a merry people. All plans and specifications for carefree kick-ups have hard sledding among us. We are liberal with money to save the heathen from the devil, or to railroad sinners to the penitentiary, but we count every cent a dozen times when it comes to having a bit of harmless fun. In brief, the carnival spirit is not in us. We tried hard to continue the Orioles, and then to revive them after they had died, but it was a hopeless business. Even the neighborhood “visiting weeks” lasted but one year.
And all this in a city of the South, a city of cavaliers! Cavaliers your grandmothers! Baltimore is a city of Puritans, as much so as Boston or Hartford, and they are Puritans of the most bilious and uremic variety. I know of no harmless amusement that has not encountered the opposition of these singularly depressing gentlemen. They are against everything merry and pleasant, from dancing to moving pictures, and from public revels to top-spinning by boys. They not only lack innocence themselves, but they are unable to imagine it in others. In the most innocuous diversions they see only temptation and debauchery. They cannot imagine any man dancing a “tango” or looking at a picture, or listening to music, or drinking a mug of malt, or walking in the park with his best girl, or kicking up his legs in a carnival--they cannot imagine a man doing any of these things without suspecting him of loathsome designs upon the nearest working girl.
In brief, these sour, sad fellows are obsessed by the idea of sin. They interpret all the phenomena of life in terms of morals. It is inconceivable to them that any relation between the sexes should be other than meretricious, or that any gayety should be other than corrupting, or that any blest forgetfulness of Hell and its fires should be other than a defiance of them. They have an ineradicable suspicion of everything that is pleasant. They are sworn foes to all ordinary forms of joy, being unable to distinguish any happy medium between the solemn joy of burning a sinner at the stake and the wild, drunken joy of the campmeeting and the bagnio. All women, in their sight, are potential prostitutes, and all men are thinly disguised Harry Thaws. They trust no one, least of all themselves.
But why is it that Baltimoreans permit themselves to be dragooned and roweled by these Torquemadas of a blue-nosed sect? After all, they are not in a majority among us: at every clear statement of the issue they are voted down. Why, then, do we submit to their ceaseless browbeating and bullying, their moral bulldozing, their grotesque pretension to superior virtue? Why do we allow them to pursue our poor folk so savagely, censoring their amusements, libeling their women, harassing their children? Why do we allow them to blast every effort at communal gayety and good feeling? Why do we allow them to regulate the minutest details of our private conduct, so that they even presume to determine what games we may play in our own houses, and how we shall spend Sunday, and what sort of music we may have with religious ceremonies?
Alas, know not! I have wondered full oft, and inquired of elder serpents and sages, but all to no purpose. We Americans are a spineless and conscience-stricken lot. We lack that moral courage which redeems even great sinning. We bend the knee to any mountebank who sets up a moral whooping. It is enough that this or that Brother Barebones thinks that this or that thing is wrong: his gratuitious opinion at once takes on the force and effect of divine law. We are beset by a Falstaff’s army of Pharisees. We are locked up in a whited sepulchre.
I know of no other race as easily bullied, so wholly lacking in confidence and spirit. Even the English, though they face as ardent a pack of Puritans as we do ourselves, make a courageous defense and defiance. Consider, for example, the theatrical censorship. Do the English sunmit to it tamely? Not at all. They call the censor an ass whenever he displeases them, and they are far aheed with a scheme to get rid of him altogether. But in this country we take such assaults lying down. Here in Baltimore we have had, during the last 10 years, fully half a dozen volunteer censors--each self-appointed, each wholly asinine. But if another were to bob up tomorrow, how many would protest? Not four men in all Baltimore!
How prohibition works in Georgia, as recorded by the estimable Columbus Enquirer-Sun:
“Macon has recently developed into a veritable Sahara,” says the Dallas Citizen. But the Citizen very well knows that the Sahara has many oases, and travelers usually know very well where to find them.
Read the Maryland Suffrage News! Fifty-two issues for $1 cash–the price of eight cocktails at the wholesale rate.--Adv.