Baltimore Evening Sun (25 November 1913): 6.


Balance sheet of the community Christmas tree fund:

Needed for expenses $5,000.00 Collected so far 2,464.59 Amount yet to be collected $2,535.41 Days remaining 30 Amount to be collected each day $84.51 Amount collected yesterday 19.40

A DAILY THOUGHT. Intelligent giving and intelligent withholding are alike true charity.—The Rev. Dr. Basil Schneider.

It is astonishing that a man so sensible as the Hon. Thomas Francis Farnan should succumb to the current rumble-bumble about bichloride of mercury and its use as a means of suicide. Does the hon. gent. actually believe that a further restriction of its sale would reduce self-destruction? Can it be that he regards suicide as merely a matter of easy means? If so, then let him study his own reports for 10 years past. He will find that the suicide rate is almost constant, that passing fashions in means have little or no influence upon it. He will find that for every current suicide by bichloride of mercury there is one less suicide by hanging, or shooting, or drowning, or arsenic, or carbolic acid.

Naturally enough, the fact that such poisons as the bichloride are easily procurable makes many suicides turn to them. But it must be plain that the impulse to self-destruction must precede the search for a means. Put a normal man among the most powerful poisons, and he will never think of swallowing them. Do drug clerks? Do physicians? Do chemists? Here are men who have poisins of all sorts constant;y at hand, and yet there is no news of an epidemic among them. On the contrary, their suicide rate is noticeably low.

So much for one of the fallacies in the war upon bichloride. Another lies in the assumption that it would be possible to enforce a law restricting its sale. Such a law would not be obeyed 10 days. It is easy enough to restrict the sale of such drugs as cocaine, prussic acid and morphine, for very few persons have any legitimate use for them, and those persons are easily identified. But bichloride is in constant and widespread use, and quite legitimately. It has become a household necessity. Every civilized person, at some time or other, makes use of it. What nonsense to forbid its sale, or to make every purchaser bring a physician’s prescription. As well exact a physician’s prescription for talcum powder!

At the bottom of all the current agitation lies the pernicious theory, now so lamentably prevalent, that the way to cure all evils is by furious and ferocious suppression. The fact that such suppression may be itself a worse evil is lost sight of by the reigning busybodies. Thus the moral Police Board, in order to track down a few lawbreakers, fills the town with policewomen, smuthounds and spies, and opens the way for all sorts of oppression. Now comes a fresh campaign. Druggists are to be jailed for selling the commonest of antiseptics—perhaps, indeed, the commonest of all drugs. A fresh campaign of snouting and spying is to be inaugurated. More work for the pussy-foots!

Last night’s audience at the New York Philharmonic concert was perceptibly larger than the average of past years, but there was still a lot of room for improvement. Upstairs and downstairs whole rows of seats were vacant. Let every music-lover hope that this excellent orchestra will hang on a while longer, and not retire from the field in despair, as the Philadelphia orchestra did two or three years ago. Soon or late it will draw good houses. And meanwhile it gives very good concerts.

The Hon. Josef Stransky, indeed, is a far more skillful showman than his distinguished rival, Prof. Dr. Karl Muck, of Boston. I employ the word “showman” in its most honorable sense. Dr. Muck, without a doubt, has a better orchestra, particularly in the matter of first violins, but Mr. Stransky gives better concerts. That is to say, they are more interesting, more varied, more discreet in their appeal. It is impossible to imagine ant person with ears being bored by the program of last night. But Dr. Muck, playing good music superbly, has often managed to convey a sense of monotony. I don’t attempt to analyze it or or account for it: I merely state it as a fact.

All the criticisms I heard of last night’s performance of Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony were purely academic and hyperesthetic—the intelligent, but by no means important objections of specialists in tone and tempo. To the unprofessional hearer the thing was done magnificently. And what a splendid composition it is! The gamboling of a god! A masterpiece of good humor, waggish ingenuity, sublime gemüthlichkeit, and always with that undercurrent of sadness, that dim suggestion of the tragic—now in the cellos (Prosit, Herr Schulz!), now in the horns (Oh, rare Xavier Reiter!). Critical cant is against the Eighth Symphony: perhaps it is too close to the Ninth to be judged fairly. But how it tickles the ear! How it soothes and caresses!

The Hon. Robert Crain is so good a swimmer that even with half a dozen Honorary Pallbearers around his neck he should be able to make port. I do not say that he will grab that armorplate plant for Baltimore, but this much, at least, is certain: that he will surely grab it if it is at all grabbable. The tale of his services in the matter of the Democratic National Convention has never been half told. He not only performed a very difficult task with great skill but he performed it in the face of disheartening and unnecessary obstacles. Let us hope that the mountebanks and pin-heads who then stood in his way will not take the field against him now.

Incidentally, it is instructive to reflect that this same Mr. Crain, for all his patriotic and invaluable services to the community, was but lately denounced by the Hon. Young Cochran et al. as a foe to decency and good order. The newspapers were filled with advertisements reviling him, and the whole State was summoned to hear the story of his vileness. Nothing could better display the impudence and imbecility of the bogus archangels who try to make all of us jump as they pipe. The Hon. Mr. Crain is a better citizen and a better man than any of the heavenly mush heads who now posture before the plain people in their snow-white chemises, and though I am no expert in grace, I venture to add that he is also a better Christian. The people of Baltimore do not turn to these self-anointed cherubim when they have work to be done: they go to the Hon. R. Crain. And in so going, they display a very accurate judgment of men.